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Brad Laabs: Fishing is about connecting with nature, people

I need fishing in my life. Fishing gives me a chance to practice living in the moment. Fishing provides relief from stress and problems. Fishing is fun, social and always provides some laughs. Fishing can provide some quiet time for reflection. Fishing helps me appreciate nature and the natural beauty we are surrounded by, but sometimes forget to appreciate.

I had a week that was full of what I thought were problems. But I was reminded through my experiences that these weren’t really problems …. they were inconveniences. I am glad I had the fishing experiences I had to help keep my perspective. It is easy in the middle of these inconveniences to think they are problems and make them bigger than they are. I do that sometimes.

Some of what I thought were problems were caused by my boat. I was reminded that even if you do things right, things can still go wrong. One of the problems happened halfway into a morning guide trip. I heard a knocking that gave me great concern and forced me to baby my boat until I could get it on the trailer. I called my mechanic, Tim, and he fit me in and got me back on the water to fish my evening trip. I was stressed and worried, but it wasn’t anything that money and know-how couldn’t resolve. He reminded me that when things get used a lot, even if you do proper maintenance, things wear out.

After getting home from my evening trip, our well pump went out and left us without water. I had a morning trip so wasn’t able to take on that challenge until the afternoon. I finished resolving that problem (or so I thought) right before my evening trip. Nothing a little know-how and money can’t fix, right?

About the time I was feeling sorry for myself for all the trouble, hassle, inconvenience, and “problems” I was dealing with that day, I picked up my evening fishing trip customer. A young mother was getting her young son on the lake to fish. As we visited, I learned that she lost her husband to cancer just six months ago. He had loved the lake and fishing. She wanted to make sure her son started to experience what her husband was so passionate about.

Going through the loss of her loving husband, being a young, grieving single mother to her also grieving son, and all the complications over the past year along with the challenges of this next year …now that’s having a problem. All my stuff is just inconveniences. Humbling for me and important to be reminded to put things in their proper perspective.

I am lucky to be able to do what I do. I am grateful I get to do what I love. I meet unique people and hear life stories. I hear about obstacles and problems overcome. I hear funny stories. I meet people with refreshing outlooks on their lives, pursuits, and passions. I get to fish with anglers that have great knowledge. I get to teach others a little bit about this lifelong sport. I count myself fortunate to have constant reminders about what is really important — health, family, and friends. Fishing is more than just about chasing fish. It is about connecting with nature and people. I need fishing in my life.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)