I know it’s way early, since Christmas is still nearly a week away, but I thought I’d get my Christmas wish list out there soon enough to allow plenty of shopping time. So here are three simple gift suggestions for anyone who may be shopping for me. Some of these items might take a little time to round up.
There’s a lot that I don’t know, and I’d appreciate it very much if someone would gift me with knowledge about a few of the issues which most vex me. For example, I’d love the gift of knowledge about one of our most reviled issues: Red tide.
It’s great that so many people are so passionate about this important water-quality issue, but it is very frustrating to see so much misunderstanding. A huge amount of time and effort, and so much of our limited resources, are spent fussing with stuff that may not really make a difference. If only I could know what makes red tide happen, what conditions are needed for it to thrive, and what changes in those conditions make it dissipate.
I need this knowledge because in spite of what you may see on social media, no one really understands what makes red tide tick. Blaming it on sugarcane farming or phosphate mining or septic tanks or sewage from Orlando or any other single source might be entirely or partially correct — or it might not be accurate at all, since we simply don’t possess that knowledge. If I had this great gift, I could share it with everybody (see below under “Wisdom”).
I could really use some patience. When I am fishing and not catching (which, unfortunately, happens too often), I tend to quickly grow impatient. I often find myself wondering after the fact if I would have been better served by giving some of those spots a little more time before jumping up on plane and blasting off. Or maybe giving that plug or that fly a little more time before tying on a different lure. Or sticking around for a few more castnet throws to get a bit more live bait.
I also have patience-related issues that have nothing to do with fishing. There are some things that goad me to impatience. When someone asks me a question and then won’t let me answer, or when someone cuts me off mid-sentence, I am not always patient. The gift of patience would not only make me a better angler, it would make me a better person.
Ahhh, wisdom. A rare gift, and one not found on the sale racks during the Black Friday madness, and not even on Amazon.com. I definitely could use some wisdom.
But what is wisdom? If you have a month of free time, you can do a Google search on “wisdom” and read through the endless pages of results. Opinions vary, but it seems like a lot of people would agree that a wise person is someone who has the ability to use knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments, and that a wise person is someone who knows the limits of his knowledge.
I believe there is also a compassionate side to wisdom. A wise person has no ego-driven need to be right or to one-up anyone else and is just as happy when someone else succeeds as when he is successful himself. A wise person truly enjoys sharing his knowledge.
So who is going to give me a big, gift-wrapped box of wisdom? I would like to be wise enough to realize that I am never truly going to understand fish. Maybe even wise enough to know that it really doesn’t matter if your fish is bigger than mine, or if your boat is faster or if your tackle is fancier. Because life would be great if I were that wise.
Merry Christmas, and let’s go fishing!
Capt. Ralph Allen runs the King Fisher Fleet of sightseeing and fishing charter boats located at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. He is an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer, and is a past president of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Contact him at 941-639-2628 or Captain@KingFisherFleet.com.