Below is an excerpt from a book I’m writing called Adventures in Fishing (for Men). The book is a satirical allegory about Christian attempts at evangelism. He who has ears to hear…
Recently at my fishing club it was announced that a Fishing Training Conference was coming to town, and everybody who wanted some intensive preparation in being a fisherman should register to attend. There were several big-name fishermen who were going to be speaking, and the fishing club leader said that he had been going to the conference for years, and benefitted from it every time. He also encouraged us to register early. If we paid at the door for the three day conference, it would cost $249 to get in, but if we registered early, the cost was only $239. That sounded like a good deal to me, so I called up and paid that very day.
On the first day of the conference I pulled up to the conference center, full of excitement and anticipation about what I was going to learn. But I immediately felt out of place. I had worn jeans and a fishing t-shirt, but most of the people going into the conference were wearing fishing waders, fishing vests, and fishing hats. A few even carried fishing poles.
On the one hand I felt ashamed that I had not dressed more appropriately, but on the other hand, I felt in awe to be hanging out with such dedicated fishermen! I could tell just by the way they dressed that this was going to be a great conference. On the second and third day of the conference I made sure to dress to the hilt in all my fishing gear. I even put a little mud on my boots to make it look like I had just come from the stream.
Over the course of the three days, I heard some great speakers and attended some fantastic workshops.
One of the first speakers taught us about “Lifestyle Fishing.” He said that most people think that fishing is just something you do on the weekends, or whenever you feel like it. As a result, such people are poor fishermen and never catch any fish. To be truly successful, you have to practice “Lifestyle Fishing” which is where everything you do is geared toward fishing. When you go eat breakfast at the local diner, you should ask the waitress if there are any food scraps around that could be used as fishing bait.
He said that fishing should always be on your mind and you should always be looking for “divine opportunities to fish.” You can even take fishing breaks at work if there is a pond on the property, or maybe a fish tank in the lobby. The speaker said that if your boss objects to you fishing at work, you should say that your fishing rights are protected by the Constitution, that fishing employees are happy employees, and all bosses should want happy employees.
I did object a little when he said that we should have it as our goal to get to know our neighbors so they could become fishermen too. The speaker clearly doesn’t know my neighbor, and if he did, I doubt he would have said that. My neighbor is impossible to deal with.
Another speaker talked about “Conversational Fishing.” He gave us some fantastic tips and tricks for injecting fishing subjects into almost any conversation. If someone was talking about the weather, we could say, “Yes, the sunshine today sure is nice. I wish I could be fishing.” If the conversation was about politics, we could say, “The only reason politicians argue so much is because they don’t go fishing.” If the conversation was about a war in another country, we should say, “If more people in that country went fishing, they wouldn’t have wars.” I took many pages of notes on this topic, and plan to inject the subject of fishing into almost every conversation from now on.
The Gift of Fishing
One of the seminars I went to was about “Discovering and Using your Gift of Fishing.” The man presenting the seminar handed out a test with 100 multiple-choice questions on it. When the tests were scored, we learned which of us had a special skill for fishing and which ones did not. I actually scored pretty low on the test, and was pretty upset for a minute or two. But the presenter assured us all that if we scored low, it doesn’t mean that we weren’t meant to be fishermen. He said that everybody is supposed to be a fisherman, but for some it just comes more naturally. For the rest of us, we will have to work at it and learn how to fish more successfully, which we could do by attending conferences like this one. This made me feel much better.
The Way of the Master Fisherman
One of my favorite sessions was called “The Way of the Master Fisherman.” It was co-taught by some guy I had never heard of and a famous Hollywood movie star who was more famous as a child. Their approach to fishing encouraged us to ridicule and condemn fish until they felt so guilty that they jumped into our boat. They said that most fish thought they were good fish, but our job was to convince them that they were bad fish. Once we had done that, we were to convince them that they could become good fish if they jumped into our boat. The approach sounded kind of mean to me, but the presenters assured us that this was the way a Master Fisherman of the past had caught all his fish.
Another great session was on “Fishing Explosion” which uses a Question and Answer survey to ask fish about their behaviors and beliefs. Most of the fish don’t have time to answer the questions, and the instructor informed us that you may have to ask the same questions to hundreds—even thousands—of fish before you get one to answer. He said it works best if you write the questions on sticks of explosives, and toss them into the river or lake. The fish that come to the surface are the ones who want to hear more. Using this approach, you are guaranteed to catch fish, even though the ones you catch are somewhat pulverized from the explosives.
Finally, I liked the session about “How to Plan a Fishing Crusade.” The idea here was to gather a huge school of fish all into one place, and then through the use of emotional music and persuasive fishing techniques, get a few of them to come into your fishing net. It sounded very expensive.
I did pick up some new lingo as well. I heard many speakers talk about choosing the proper “Fishing Targets” and how to “Seal the Deal” with fish who are “on the fence.” I also found it highly instructive to learn that there are only two kinds of people in the world: Fisherman and Pre-Fisherman. That explained a lot to me, since I always wondered why some people seem to have no interest in fishing. I now knew that one day they too would see the light and become a fisherman like me.
I can’t wait until the Fishing Training Conference next year. They already announced two of the speakers. One is from Houston, and will be speaking about “Your Best Fishing Now” and the other one from California has agreed to present the topic of “Purpose Driven Fishing.”