The secret to success in life could be found in fishing

Outdoors Bound

MONETA, Va. (WFXR) — You might hear some diehard anglers say things like, “fishing is life.”

While that may be a bit much, fishing can teach us some lessons that can be applied to make our lives more successful.

Case in point: Late summer/early fall striped bass fishing on Smith Mountain Lake (SML).

Now, hear me out. To be successful at fishing for stripers on SML at this time of year you have to do your homework. You have to know your objective; in this case striped bass. You have to apply specific techniques and practices. You have to be diligent. And, you have to be flexible.

Karen Stowers with a striped bass

Do all of those things, and you give yourself an advantage in life, as well as an advantage in catching fish.

Our teacher for this lesson was Captain Weston Harman of Hartman Guide Services. He is an expert on striped bass fishing at Smith Mountain Lake. He has to be to ensure that his fishing guide business thrives.

“This time of year, late summer and early fall, stripers will go deep,” said Hartman during a recent fishing trip. “We look for them in 30 or 40 feet of water.”


…because water temperature and oxygen levels are optimal at those depths for stripers and the forage they feed on.

That also means cruising the lake to find those fish on the boat’s onboard electronics.

“Right here we just ran over a school of stripers, 100 percent striped bass in this deep water,” Hartman said as he pointed to the red and yellow lines on the electronic fishfinder. “Bright yellow, high density; just classic fish marks suspended off the bottom. That’s exactly where they have been, that’s exactly where they should be, in 30 to 40 feet.”

Now that the fish have been found, baits have to be put in front of them. The baits in this case are blueback herring and alewives. A single live bait is hooked through the lips and lowered on a weighted line to the exact depth where the fish have been located. It’s a method called downlining.

To get the bait to the correct depth, line counter reels are used. That way depth control can be exact.

It was only a matter of minutes before line went screeching off of two reels at once. It was a classic double. A few minutes later, two chunky striped bass were aboard and in the live well. Then suddenly, the fish were gone.

“They move quickly at this time of year,” Hartman said as he powered up the boat’s engines to go in search of them once again. “You have to be patient and flexible because you will need to find them again and again.”

In a few minutes of searching, another pod of fish was found, and more fish were boated. It was a pattern that would be repeated for hours. After a few hours, we had our boat limit.

Mission accomplished.

And just like that, those life lessons of study hard, work hard, patience, and flexibility paid off. So, maybe those diehard anglers were right?

Maybe fishing really is life?

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