Canoe Vibes - Kayak Fishing for Redfish

Fast Forwarding: Redfish and Royals

It was brazen, overconfident, and arrogant. It was presumptuous, superficial, and it was perfectly reflective of the negative change I see in myself. Simply put, it was a mistake. Taken at face value, it was an excusable lapse of attention. But to me, it was much more than that; it turned into a three day theme that pounded the lesson needed learning into my head harder than that little kid at the Chucky Cheese Whack-a-Mole machine all jacked up on pizza, candy, and tickets.

An unexpected cold front pressed pause on the heavy recreational fishing bite in the typically plentiful fishery of Lake Ponchartrain for this year’s Kayak Fishing Boondoggle. North winds turned the brackish lake into a washing machine and the early-fall high pressure system sent the marsh fish deep. We fished; we didn’t catch. The three days came and went. What we lacked in fish on the deck, we made up for with booze, exciting new gear talk, and some long overdue campfire camaraderie.

Captioning before the Catch

That’s when I saw my mistake. A big redfish entered in and out of the feeding frenzy that I parked myself just outside of on day three’s night fish, my final Hail Mary at avoiding a skunk. I casted unrewarded while the fish continued to flirt with my tandem soft plastic rig before turning to the more desirable live shrimp – you know, real fish food. Like usual, the rejection to my advances only made me want it more.

Finally, it hit.

“I’ve got a red” I made clear to the guys around me, a phrase everyone had given up hearing on the weekend. On a barbless hook, he made two hard runs while I kept him changing directions and started gaining line to the point of breeching visibility.

That’s when it happened. My thought process drifted from landing the fish to what I was going to do after I inevitably landed this fish. Simply put, I was captioning my catch before I caught it. I was taking the hero photo, planning the party, and telling the story before I had even got the thing to the boat.

This overconfident fast forwarding to the catch set the red free well before he decided to make a run back toward me and spit the hook, which he ultimately did. He beat me but he didn’t beat me as bad as I beat myself.

Celebrating before the Win

Early the next morning we packed up, settled in for the six hour drive home, and slowly got used to the skunk smell that came with our unsuccessful Cajun fishing attempt. As an Astros fan, my attention shifted from the weekends defeat on the water to the fourth game of the Astros and Royals postseason divisional round game now playing on the radio. Win this at home and we are up 3-1 in a best of seven series.

Through seven innings and countless I-10 westbound high fives, the Astros led 6-2. Book the flight to Toronto for the ALCS, text your friends in ecstacy, and send a celebratory tweet to @JoseAltuve and @ColbyJackRasmus. The good guys had this fish landed.

That’s when it happened. My thought process drifted from focusing on helping my guys finish the game to what I was going to do after they inevitably won. There was my problem again; for the second time in two days, I was captioning my catch before I caught it.

The bad guys from Kansas City used the remaining six outs to pull off a stunning comeback – the Columbus Day Collapse – charging unbridled all over the Houston bullpen with five runs in the eighth inning to shock the entire city of Houston – including the three of us crossing over the east Texas border – with their 9-6 burglary of both Game 4 and the momentum of the best-of-five series.

Note to Self: Stop Fast Forwarding

The knot in my stomach passed with some help from my friends Pabst Blue Ribbon and Bubbas Burger Shack but the lesson learned stuck long after the heartburn disappeared: stop fast forwarding.

As much as it sucks for some to admit, we are animals. Yeah; living, breathing bio-machines – remnants of an evolutionary explosion which boils down to the fact that humans are opportunists in constant search of approval, excitement, and celebration. We see a positive opportunity peek out from around the corner and we suddenly expect it work. We see the opportunity and our first instinct is to imagine the possibilities of what could come from this seemingly guaranteed success before the success is guaranteed.

From seeing a pretty girl at the bar or meeting an interested potential client to feeling the strike of a Louisiana redfish or watching your team whoop some Kansas City ass in the big game, my (and – presumably – our) first instincts are wired to fast forward through the process at the first sign of success in order to draw comfort from the seemingly inevitable positive result. It’s an uneven mix of danger and comfort; two parts danger in losing focus, one part comfort in applying premature celebration. It’s sacrificing potential performance in order to relieve some fears of a potential negative result.

It’s a fault that I can’t chip out of my hopelessly optimistic human nature but it is something that I can work to pull the slack on next time a redfish, a Royal, or that asshole Alex Gordon tries to ruin my weekend.


editorial, fishing, kayak fishing

Mark Vlaskamp

After four years as Marketing Director for Yak Gear, Mark now partners with creative outdoor brands and pursues the gray area between freelancing and (f)unemployment. Currently, he is floating between Austin and Houston, TX - still searching for new water, cool people, and cheap beer.

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