The We Love to Fish Experience – from a Beginner’s Perspective

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Laura Cowie-Haskell with her First Pickerel

Laura Cowie-Haskell with her First Pickerel

by Rob Lever and Laura Cowie-Haskell

When does fishing become more than just a fun hobby when you can spend time on the water to forget your troubles and relax? For me, this ended as my passion grew and over the years I have be lucky enough to make a living doing the two things that I love the most; Fishing, and helping others. It has been through these two things that I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of finding that perfect day on the water. This is how We Love to the Fish was born.

Rob Lever with a Nice Bass Caught on a We Love to Fish Trip

Rob Lever with a Nice Bass Caught on a We Love to Fish Trip – photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

Three seasons ago I started We Love to Fish in the hopes of sharing my intense passion for fishing with those who have an intellectual or developmental disability. The first trips proved to be challenging but my drive to share my passion never wavered even during those few crazy moments. It was because of those moments that the program has grown and seen such great heights. Last year, hard work has paid off with the program becoming a full time venture . This year a new high in trips planned for the season.

The off season is used to regroup and plan for the season ahead. This off season we were able to have an intern from the local high school in our area help us in the office. This intern comes from a family that has an appreciation for the outdoors so I decided to get her on the water to see if she could pick up fishing. This would work out perfect because as many of you know, I also help spread the word about We Love to Fish by writing how-to articles here on Advanced Angler. We decided I would pick a technique and write a how to article on it. This article would serve as a great way to get Laura on the water.

The day came for our first of two trips. I rigged two Duckett Fishing rods and we launched the boat ready to see what the day would bring. After a short lesson we started working a nearby shore line. The fishing was very slow, but after a few casts I noticed Laura really getting the hang of casting with a spinning reel. Each cast was more accurate and further then the last. A few even came to rest in the precise location I was telling her to aim too. Like most trips on the We Love to Fish boat, this trip wasn’t just about the fish, instead it was about enjoying the camaraderie we all share on the water.

Now I could bore you with the details of our last trip, but what is most important is pointing out the power of sharing what we love to do with others. We finally did catch the fish that were needed for the article and it will be feature in the future on Advanced Angler. This experience has affirmed why I do We Love to Fish and will continue to do it for years to come.

Fishing is unpredictable and it is hard to go out with our guests and always keep them on fish. The most important part of our trips is that it’s truly not all about the fishing but its more about the friendships that are built from our day. I have formed a bond with each of the 80 guests that have been on the boat and am excited to do the same for the over 80 trips we will do this year alone.

Laura (my intern) may not have caught a plethora of fish those two days we spent on the water but her and I did become friends during are quest together. What started out as a fun way to bond with someone turned into a learning experience for both of us. I originally had no intentions of writing this article but the inspiration came from something that Laura wrote for me. For part of the how-to article I asked her to write a rundown of how she leaned the technique we were writing about. After reading what she wrote me I realized how important We Love to Fish is and how it shows the importance of the work we are doing. It doesn’t seem like becoming an avid fisherman is in her future, but it does show that she has a new appreciation for those of us that are crazy for the sport. It looks like she can answer my question.   Here is what she wrote below.

Laura Cowie-Haskell with her First Bass

Laura Cowie-Haskell with her First Bass

Fishing for the first time is a novel experience. The sun peeks through the clouds, the air is cool, the water is calm, and the wind is gentle. This small fresh water ecosystem I’ll inhabit for the day is at peace. And something about experiencing that peace makes me very happy.

Understandably, I do not pay very much mind to Rob telling me that I’ll be using a Fluke for bait and certain technique and rod to do the fishing. I am an amateur and content with that. But I do what I’m told and watch as he threads the hook and line through the small, white, plastic fish. I think to myself, “how could a fish possibly mistake that for something alive?” But what do I know? I’m just a naïve first-timer.

As the day proceeds, the concept of fishing evolves in my mind. No longer do I see it as just a silly hobby requiring only patience. My view of the concept has become something entirely different. Watching Rob masterfully release his cast then slowly reeling it in with tiny flicks of his wrist and then attempting to mirror his actions myself, instilled in me a great appreciation of the artistry and skill involved in fishing. I went into the day believing that anyone could catch a fish only to end the day in awe at my measly count of zero compared to Rob’s six (granted, it was a slow day).

No, fishing is not easy. And it is not just a silly hobby that requires nothing but patience. In fact, it requires much more in addition to patience. I learned that to be a successful fisherman/woman you need creativity, self-discipline, passion, commitment and probably many other traits I have yet to discover.

What she wrote made a big impression on me, At first I thought Laura was writing about the technique we were using during our trips, and to be honest it shocked me that she had picked up on so much during that first day. Those couple paragraphs showed me that We Love to Fish’s mission is working with everyone who is a guest on the boat. Each person gets something different out of their experience and we will continue to make each trip unique to the guest on board. To learn more about We Love to Fish please visit us on the web at welovefish.org.