Often, in life, one has to strike a balance between the pursuit of things or activities that satiate one’s soul, while at the same time not neglecting aspects relevant to your current position in life. What the heck am I talking about, you ask? Well, I’m no psychologist but I believe it’s fair to say that one element to happiness is a balanced contentment between your responsibilities and the thing or activity that calls your name the loudest, in this case, recreational fishing!.

If you’re young, unmarried, have no children, live with your parents, work part-time, or are completely content to go through life without social interaction, you probably have more time on your hands to do whatever you’d like, opposed to someone with any one of the opposite circumstances. For most, however, our time requires some measure of division in order to retain balance and not neglect our spouses, children, jobs or friends. To the extreme, I’ve known people whose marriages and relationships with children have become strained or even dissolved due to an imbalance of fishing and family time. Rather benignly, you might opt out of a family or a child’s sporting event in order to hit the water. By doing so, you’re essentially saying, fishing is more important. I’ve seen a quote that says “fishing isn’t a matter of life and death, it’s much more important that that”. Though it’s likely said tongue and cheek, personally, I couldn’t disagree more. Life is relatively short. If you have children, opportunities to shape their character and hopefully raise them to become positive contributors to society are also relatively narrow. If you’re married, do you want to stay married?

For a period of a few years I would travel to the coast at least twice a month, often competing in tournaments, spending way too much time away from home and family. Once one of my sons said “don’t bother asking dad”, (if he want’s to go) “because he won’t be here” is not the wakeup call you want to hear. It was exactly that jolt however that made me realize the greater importance I had allowed fishing to become over family, along with the consequences and effects. Last year I spent more time on the water with my sons than we probably have spent all years combined. I probably caught less fish myself but then again I have more pictures of my sons with fish. The smiles on their faces and the memories from our trips far outweigh any tournament I’ve won or fish I’ve caught.

Being married, having three sons, a full-time job, guiding part-time through Get Outdoors, administering the Native Watercraft Owners Group website, plus my own,  along with being the chief home and landscape caretaker tends to limit free time. I don’t say this begrudgingly, it’s just reality, and not a bad reality either. When I do get a chance to get on the water I look forward to spending it with my sons or sharing it with others. Watching them grow to appreciate the pursuit of fish and paddling is a reward within itself. There are times when dad needs to fish solo or with friends but until my sons have gone off on their own, or I’m too old, I hope for many more days shared with them and maybe, just maybe, when I’m old, they’ll take me fishing!

Fishing, combined with paddle sports is a beautiful thing. Having a happy and content family is a joy like no other. Keep fishing in perspective and you’re likely have the best of both worlds. Follow the right path and your children just might pass the family fishing tradition on down to their children… our future fisherman.