About a year before my daughter was born, I got my first fly rod. Next to the birth of my daughter, it proved to be one of the most transformative things that ever happened to me. Over the course of that one year I went from a casual angler to being obsessed with fishing to the point where I started writing about it.
What surprised me more than anything was that once my daughter arrived I found myself with a series of skills that, along with being good for catching fish–or, at the very least, good for standing up to my waist in a river waving a stick around–were actually perfectly suited for dealing with life as a parent.
If you’re an expecting parent, and a passionate angler, then this is the list for you.
1. You Are Prepared For The Unexpected
I do a lot of research when I’m heading out to a lake for the first time. I study mapbooks, I read any and all information I can find online, I plot out my route, I sometimes even talk to other anglers about a lake, if I know they’ve been there.
Of course, none of that matters even a little bit when you’re actually on the road and on your way to a lake. That road you looked at could be little more than a cow path. The lake, as it turns out, isn’t more than a mud puddle. Even that spot your buddy swore is the go-to spot, guaranteed to hold fish is a dud. As it turns out, fishing isn’t so much about being prepared as it is being ready to adapt your plan to suit reality.
Not unlike being a parent. You plan out the birth, you get everything ready for the day, you’ve taken classes, read the books, talked to your friends with kids and you’ve spent a lot of time just daydreaming about how ideal everything is going to be.
Of course, none of that matters even a little bit when your little bundle of joy arrives and life takes a hard left, thanks to all the days you’ve spent trying to sort out some stretch of water or another, you’re ready with backup plans, alternate routes and, when the going really gets tough, a hip flask full of liquid patience.
2. You Learn Patience
If there’s one thing that fishing teaches you, it’s how to be extremely patient. The hours you spend waiting for something to happen, often while it’s raining or dark or snowing or cold or some equally awful combination of all of those things are the perfect training ground for when your kid shows up.
You’re likely going to spend more time than you ever thought possible waiting for your precious child to go to sleep or eat something or put clothes on or keep their clothes on or to stop dumping something on the ground. And, thanks to the hours you’ve spent on the water, it’s going to be a cakewalk (actually it’ll still be tough, but you’ll be a quite a bit more used to it than someone who doesn’t fish).
There is nothing sweeter than seeing your progeny finally nod off after hours of sitting in the dark, while singing the same song over and over and over again, not even that moment when your rod finally bends.
3. “You Should Have Been Here Yesterday…”
Your favourite lake will fish better than it’s ever fished until the day you bring your fishing buddy to it.
Similarly, your kid is going to sleep like a champ, do something funny, or smart, or cute until the day company arrives.
Then it’s terrible naps. Screaming. And, if you’re lucky, just downright destructive behaviour.
It’s always going to be the case. What you have to do is learn to find the good moments in an otherwise not so good moment. Sure, you’ve just driven 3 hours to sit in a boat and not catch any fish, but hey, you’re on a beautiful, secluded lake doing something that you love.
Apply that thinking to being a parent and even the worst night of sleep will be a little less gloomy.
4. You Learn to Buy Two of Everything
One of the first thing you learn when you get serious about fishing is, if you find a something that really works for catching fish–be it a fly, lure, bait, whatever–buy two of them. It’s almost a guarantee that you’re going to lose it almost immediately and when that happens, you might as well just head home. Unless, that is, you have a second one handy.
The same rule applies to parenting. If your kid forms an attachment to something–it could be a Sophie, or Elmo, blanket, maybe a piece of clothing–buy two of it. The odds of your little bundle of joy losing it are great and, when that happens, the last thing you want is to be scrambling around to find something that kind of looks close enough to the original that it might, kinda work.
It won’t. It never does.
5. You Make Memories
Kids love fishing with their parents. I can see it in my daughter’s eyes when we’re on the water and in the way she’s always talking about fishing, fishing boats and catching fish. In fact, you can ask just about anyone who fishes about their favourite memories as a kid and almost without fail, you’ll get a story about fishing with their dad–my first memory of fishing involves hooking my dad in the back!
This one isn’t so much a fishing thing, as it is a doing something as a family thing. Kids love the things their parents love and they love doing the things you love doing.
There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself with less time to fish when your little one comes around, but can end up being a very temporary thing. For the first little while your trips are going to be two hours of getting ready for 45 minutes of fishing time. But, I can tell you from experience that the first time your child suddenly tells you it’s time to go fishing and you load up the boat, it’s all worth it.