Nine o’clock! 30 feet out. Redfish! Throw it now!”
I had just stepped onto the bow of the flat bottom boat, my fly still comfortably resting in the second eye on my rod. I am far from being ready to cast and I have no idea what he’s looking at. I follow his gaze off to the port side of the boat and I stare into the water. I see nothing, but I feel the tension that something is obviously there. I pull out some line as quickly as I can, make a measly back cast and try to throw it where I think he’s talking about.
“Too late—you missed him.” Missed what? I never saw anything.
“Kevin, when you get on the bow of the boat, you don’t just relax, take your time and enjoy the scenery. You need to strip out about 50 feet of line and set it orderly in the basket. Get your fly in your left hand and be ready to cast.”
Well I was on my way to getting ready, I thought to myself. It’s the damn fish’s fault for being right there when I got to the bow.
Following Billy’s instructions, I get set and continue to scan the water, trying to spot the fish.
“Kevin! 12 o’clock. Right in front of you! 20 feet cast now!”
I feel like an idiot staring at the water. 20 feet! Right in front of me? Where is the damn fish? I cannot see anything.
“You see the flat area, between those riffles… just pass the grass? Right in front of you?!”
No! I don’t see it. I don’t see anything. Calm down, I thought to myself. This is not your first rodeo. Just relax. And then I saw something. A current that looked like it was going in a slightly different direction than everything else.
“I think I see them,” I say, pointing my rod tip in their direction. “Then cast the line. Don’t tell me about it.” Shit! False cast, false cast, fly line smacks the boat behind me and my line folds on itself making a terrible cast forward, spooking the fish. But hey, improvement right? I finally saw the fish… I think.
“Kevin, I don’t want the typical 10 to 2 motion. I want 9 to 12. 9 to 12. Firm back cast into the wind behind you and stop straight up in the air. Then push forward with a soft grip and let the line go out.” As he demonstrates, 100 feet of line goes streaming out of the basket effortlessly. “Got it?”
I think so. I mean I’ve done a lot of saltwater fly fishing, but I clearly was not up to speed on technique and delivery this morning. If I can just see the damn things that would be a huge bonus. As the sun climbs higher suddenly I start to really see them. Shiny Redfish. Man, they are gorgeous and red in the water. It’s amazing once you see them, you wonder how you missed them to begin with. Once I got my cast right, my line under control and could see the fish, I was no longer trying to catch a ghost. It was on.
It always amazes me the parallels you can draw from experiences like this to everyday life. Particularly our professional lives. As we look at a typical day, week, month, if there is such a thing, it’s pertinent to ask ourselves or even our team members, “Are we casting to ghosts?” If you don’t have line of site to the target, how do you know how fast it’s moving? What if it switches direction? How far away is it? Are we even using the right people, processes and technology to hit the target?
Without a line of site to the objective, you are simply just casting for ghosts. Make sure you set a reasonable target to hit every day. Remember, just because you have the target though doesn’t mean you get a fish every time. That’s why it’s called fishing, not catching. Again, like Billy says, “There’s two things that are going to happen –either you hit the fish in the face and spook it, or he bites it.”
Special thanks to Billy Trimble and his wonderful instruction on the boat. When it comes to fly fishing for Redfish, I’m hooked.