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Just Looking For A Little Peace And Quiet


November 26, 2020

You're always learning, even if you don't realize it.

This weekend, I returned to the lake for the first significant trip since my weather debacle out on the Twin Lakes. This time, I went to my home turf, Lake McMurtry, hoping I'd have some better luck there.

It was a trip that was planned at the last minute, so I didn't take my whole load-out. I left most of my poles, the boat, and my catfish bait at home. All I had with me was a chair, a couple poles, some water, and some minnows.

I wasn't expecting much, but I was hoping for something. It had been over a month since my ill-fated crappie expedition, and I hadn't caught a thing. I was starting to worry that I might not know how to fish.

So when I got to the lake, and the bite was on, I was pleasantly surprised. McMurtry has a covered fishing dock, and it was raining. So, that's where I set up.

The fish were biting, and I was enjoying my alone time. But of course, when the cold rain comes, everyone else on the lake comes to the covered fishing dock.

Fortunately it wasn't a busy day, but the turn in weather did yield me one new companion. He was a nice fellow, and perfectly pleasant.

He was also a talkative fellow. But part of what I enjoy about fishing is the comfortable silence of the lake.

We chatted for a while, and before too long, he announced he was headed home.

"Be safe," I said.

"Time for some peace and quiet," I thought.

But as he walked down the dock, I followed him with my eyes. And no sooner had he stepped off the walkway, than a new couple had stepped on.

Nope. I started packing up my stuff. It wasn't raining that hard any more, and I was willing to brave the wet and cold if it meant I could have a little piece of the water for myself.

So I wished the new occupants of the covered dock luck, and made the 300-foot journey to the boat dock. Unlike my previous spot, this one was fully exposed to the wind and drizzle.

I sat down, dropped my minnows, and immediately started catching crappie again.

And for some reason, that gave me pause.

When I started fishing this lake, you couldn't have pulled me away from a good fishing spot with a crowbar. Once I found the spot, I'd stay on it until it was dry, no matter the weather, or the time, or the company present.

But now, when I decided my last spot was too crowded, I walked away from it without even thinking twice. What changed?

Well, I decided that what changed is, I had learned a thing or two about fishing this particular lake. Before, if I left a good spot, there was no telling when I'd find another one!

But now, as soon as I saw that couple coming to join me, I thought "If they're biting here, I know another place they'll be biting as well."

Now, the part about that thought that surprised me was that it seemed to come from nowhere. I hadn't been writing down my spots, recording weather conditions, or keeping notes. How did I know there would be crappie at the new spot?

It's pretty simple: experience. Every day, I go through tasks, ranging from mundane to novel. And although I don't know it, I get a little better at them every time I see them.

I knew there would be crappie at the other dock, because I had seen them there before, during weather like this. I didn't have to work to memorize it, or write it down, or have anyone tell me what I should do. It's like I gained a little free knowledge from the lake, and all I had to do was keep showing up.

Experiential learning is perhaps the slowest and most subtle way to gain knowledge. But if you take the time to appreciate it, it's also the most rewarding.

If you take a minute now and then to think back on where you started, and compare it to where you are now, you might just impress yourself with how far you've come.


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