We walked out a long pier to watch the ships. Several people were fishing and I struck up a conversation with a lady visiting from Michigan. She had all the gear she needed; sunglasses, hat, fishing poles, and a can of bait. “Are you catching anything?” I asked. She pointed to something tied below my feet and said, “pull that up and you’ll see.” I pulled up the stringer attached to the pier and saw a fish about two feet in size. I said “wow,” but she said, nonchalantly, “they must be thrown back when less than 15 inches.”

At the end of the string was a silver fish with black stripes. She said this was a sheepshead fish. I had never heard of that before and looked it up when I got home. It seems the fish got this name because of its mouthful of teeth that look much like sheep’s teeth, complete with molars. My new friend says they really taste great.

I remembered the last time I went fishing. I’m not ‘gonna’ say how many decades ago that has been, but I remember the experience well! My aunt, uncle and cousin invited me to spend a week at a cabin on the lake. My cousin could hardly wait to see me, a city girl, bait a hook! Stubborn from the beginning, I was just as determined not to appear squeamish when I reached for the bait. While they all watched to see how I would react, I confidently picked up a big, juicy, red worm and fed in onto the hook. Once the line was in the water and they looked away, I gave a big “yuk” under my breath. But I caught a fish that day! I passed the test! We cooked fish on the grill for breakfast the next morning.

I realized as I talked with my new friend just how much I needed to learn before I went fishing. You experienced fishermen may be laughing but, think about it. First of all I had to know what I was trying to catch. What fish are common to this area? I learned later that redfish, trout, drum and sheepshead fish are common here. What kind of bait should you use? What kind of rod? What are state laws regarding size, limits, etc. And (don’t laugh), how would I know what I had when I pull something in? I don’t know what each kind of fish looks like!

All this leads to another thought. Do you realize that preparation is necessary to be successful in almost everything we do? Good planning and preparation can be the difference in success or failure in career, family, travel, and retirement.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Spend time researching (what kind of fish am I going for), preparing (right tools; right bait), and, most importantly, “follow-through.” I can research, get my fishing rods, and have sun gear, stringers, and bait, but if I never actually throw a line in the water, I’ll never catch anything.

What about you? What are you preparing for? I’m going fishin’. If I pull in a 30 inch drum, I promise you a picture! I will be proudly holding my catch, knowing I did my homework and I followed through. And will I ever have some “fish stories” to share with you! Let’s go fishin’