Paddy Upton

Fishing for a Great Life

Fishing For A Great Life

I recently went on a fishing trip that had some mates think I was mad. The explanation reveals the sanity behind the insanity, which I’m moved to share here…

First, the trip. We set off one Friday afternoon on a two hour drive up the East Coast from Cape Town. Our destination was a remote lagoon where we spent the next two hours wading around in miserable conditions as we struggled to collect fresh prawns to use as bait. After minimal success, we headed to our AirBnB to spend most of that evening preparing our tackle for the next day.

Waking at 4 am, we drove another hour to a remote fishing beach where we were met with darkness, light rain and a temperature of 7°C.  We pulled on our thick surfing wetsuits and full raingear before the final 5 km walk to our chosen fishing spot. Proper insulation was imperative as we would be walking out into deep (14°C) water and waves, to cast our bait.

After ten hours of fishing, we ended up catching nothing. As the day drew to an end, we packed up for the 5km walk back to the car and a three-hour drive to arrive home around midnight.

Why on earth would somebody drive all that way, in that weather, go through all that effort to stand on a beach all day… and catch nothing?

What was the point?

To us it seemed obvious, we had just applied the formula for living a full and successful life.

We started by setting out with a clear outcome and an attractive goal – to catch either a trophy Steenbras or Kabeljou off the beach.

It doesn’t matter what your trophy or triumph looks like, as long as you have a goal that inspires you to action.

Goals worth achieving don’t come easy or ready-made.

We then needed to prepare for the journey, planning carefully and ensuring we all the tools required for success.

We were prepared for the weather with our wetsuits and rain gear. Metaphorically, the weather is never a problem – it’s not wearing the appropriate clothing for that weather that is the problem. As with anything outside of our control, like the weather, it’s our attitude that matters.

We spent the entire day paying close attention to subtleties and changes in the ocean conditions.

As in life, fishing is about paying attention to the environment and being fully engaged in each present moment.

There’s a reason it’s called fishing, which is a process, and not ‘catching’, which refers to the result – just as life is about the journey, not the destination.

We knew both the inaccessibility of this beach and the predicted adverse weather would deter most anglers, thus leaving us to pick the best spots. As in life, many people don’t even set out on a journey to attempt a goal, because it’s just too difficult.

We never did catch a fish. We had nothing to show for our efforts except for a real sense of satisfaction from having gone out of our comfort zones and having fully engaged on the journey in pursuit of our goal.

We left empty-handed and feeling very much alive! (Even if I did catch a fish, I would have released it and still left empty-handed.)

Those who stayed at home on that weekend morning would have been much more comfortable. The couch is comfortable but the rewards aren’t that great. One doesn’t have to go fishing, but I would advocate picking a dream, getting out of the comfort zone and embarking on the journey in the pursuit of that metaphorical fish worth catching or mountain worth conquering. Live a life worth remembering.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

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