Fresh Guest Blog

Why Should You Learn How to Fish? That’s a Good Question

They say that nothing worth having comes easy, and this is certainly true when it comes to catching fish. Learning how to fish is anything but easy. Getting started involves handling sharp things with unfamiliar motor skills, there are plenty of confusing knots to memorize, and because the activity has an infinite skill ceiling, it can take a while before you’re any good at it.

But once you get the hang of it, fishing is more than just fun. Casting and retrieving eventually becomes muscle memory, letting you focus deeper on all the other factors that can be taken into consideration when catching a fish, and worrying less about keeping your line out of a tree.

The surface of rippling water.

Before long, fishing becomes meditative and struggling through the initial learning curve comes with valuable lessons.

If you’ve ever asked yourself why people like to fish or how people benefit from fishing, here’s our best attempt at answering those questions…

It feels good to improve

Being confronted with learning new skills and buying lots of gear can make it intimidating to start fishing. But it doesn’t take long to pick up the basics and that turns out to be half the fun. A limitless skill ceiling means you’re always getting better, and there are always new lures, techniques or locations to try. That keeps things interesting if nothing else.

Fishing cultivates patience

It can take a while before you develop the muscle memory to work your rod and reel, much less do anything meaningful with it. That requires patience itself as you learn to read the water, weather conditions and other variables. But you’ll always have times when you thought you had a bite, times when you actually did have a bite but the fish shook off, and a whole lot of times when you don’t get any bites at all.

Trout swimming in sunlit water.

Risk, reward, luck & loss

If you have a favorite lure, it’s probably sitting at the bottom of a lake. Your second favorite lure may only be a few yards away. Perhaps the trophy bass that snapped your line just swam by. And your boots are wet too. Damn. You shouldn’t have stepped there. More than just patience, fishing teaches about measuring risk, accepting loss, addressing failure, appreciating success, and dealing with unpredictable circumstances – for better or worse.

Making the most of things

Catching a fish can be hard enough in good conditions, but you often have to persist through challenging circumstances. Maybe the bail on your reel broke again, the lures you have aren’t ideal for the situation, or the weather isn’t as nice as you thought it was going to be. You aren’t always presented with ideal conditions, which encourages resourcefulness, adaptability and creativity to overcome the unexpected.

A fishing hole pictured in front of rugged terrain.

Thinking on a systems level

It doesn’t take long before you get the basics down and start thinking about water structure, lighting levels, lunar cycles, lure colors, presentation styles and lots more. You can get deep into the psychology and physiology different fish – what their vision is like, what feeding habits they have, how aggressive they are, whether they school or not, when they move to shallower or deeper water, and so on. Broad strategic thinking is developed by learning how to fish.

Better eating, more exercise

Fresh food has a vitality to it that you can’t buy at the grocery store and catching your own dinner enhances the connection you have with your food. It also doesn’t hurt to know that you can feed yourself in unfortunate times. Nor does it hurt that getting to your favorite fishing hole often involves hiking through rough terrain while carrying lots of gear. Seeing wildlife and breathing fresh air along the way is nice too.

Several trout pictured on the surface of water.

And why is fishing fun?

Casting and retrieving with precision scratches a similar itch to playing catch or shooting targets. It’s satisfying to throw a lure exactly where you mean to, especially if tree limbs or other obstacles are in the way. And once you start, you can’t stop. It’s easy to keep saying “just one more cast” because you never know what will happen. That element of suspense and discovery may be the funnest part about fishing.

Republished with permission from Top Strike Fishing.

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Feelin’ the reelin’ rush with Emma Calantoni

Emma Calantoni (@EmmaCalantoni on Instagram) was “accidentally born” in Lakeland, Florida.

“My parents were on vacation and my mom went into labor,” she says.

Once Emma was ready to travel, the family headed back to their home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

“I’ve been fishing for as long as I can remember,” Emma says. “I remember fishing on the rivers and lakes back in Wisconsin when I was a little girl.”

When she was five years old, Emma’s family moved back to the state where she was born and settled in the Tampa Bay area, where she has taken every advantage of the fishing opportunities the region has to offer.

“I grew up fishing on the Bay and fishing offshore,” she says. “But my favorite has always been inshore fishing — snook, trout, tarpon, trout, redfish… you know.”

Now a nursing student at the University of South Florida and holding down two hospital jobs, Emma still manages to find time for fishing.

“I try and get out at least a couple times a week,” she says. Somehow, she even finds time to travel and fish.

“I fished in the Bahamas, Costa Rica… places like that,” Emma says. “I love to travel.”

Although she doesn’t own a boat, Emma has strong ties with the area’s tight-knit fishing community.

“My step-dad is one of the top charter captains on Tampa Bay, and I crewed for him,” she says. “And I have friends and family who have boats. Alternating between friends and family, I can almost always find someone who’s heading out to fish.”

And for Emma, there’s nothing like chasing snook.

“I love the challenge that snook present,” she says. “The way they fight, the way they act. They’re not like redfish which will eat just about any bait you put in front of their nose. Snook are very particular about the bait, the way it’s presented, the color of the line — even your movement on the boat.”

Emma prefers to throw live bait to the snook with her St. Croix Avid/Quantum Smoke rig.

“We catch our own bait, like pilchers, with a cast net,” she says. “We sight cast when we can see them, but we know where the spots where the snook like to go when they’re hiding.”

When the snook aren’t eating, Emma will check out beach nooks, rocks, stone structures — even bridges — and the Gulf Coast’s mangroves.

In spite of her years of snook fishing experience, Emma isn’t satisfied.

“I’ve caught literally hundreds of snook,” she says. “But I still haven’t landed that superstar trophy — and I’m going to keep going until I get it. It’s not as easy to catch a big snook as it is to catch a big redfish.” (She’s landed a 42-inch bull red.)

Last winter, Florida’s snook — an extremely temperature-sensitive fish — suffered a brutal kill-off during a cold snap.

“They’ve bounced back pretty well, though,” Emma says. “Even so, we always tend to release them — even a slot fish during season — unless a client wants to keep it. So many people harvest them, both legally and illegally, that we like to do our part to keep the population doing well.”

This conservation orientation is one of the things she loves about the folks who fish Tampa Bay.

“I love the fishing community here,” Emma says. “It’s small, but we’re a close group and they make fishing in this area an incredible experience.”

But it’s more than the community that drives Emma to get out on the water as often as she does.

“It’s like fishing is an addiction,” she says. “It’s a drug. The rush I get when I catch a fish — especially a big fish — is something that nothing else can give me. There’s nothing else like it.”