Good friends you’ve never met

Still rubbing sleep from your eyes you make your way through the doors at work. Running a few minutes late you still make time to grab a cup of coffee and a quick chat with a co-worker in the break room. You talk about family, weekend plans or stale work place politics. You both head off different directions. Many times you spend more time with people at work than your own family, but do they really know who you are at 5AM?

It seems as if fishermen live two different lifestyles. During work we are average Joes, but as the sun sets or peaks from the horizon we seem to gain extra powers and step into a different world, at home and completely content.

Some think we are crazy getting up well before daylight just to cast a line as darkness slowly gives up its grasp to an orange streaked sky. What they don’t know is there is no price you can pay to spend time on the water with people who really understand you. And only we will ever understand it.

From coast to coast there are many others who share this deep rooted passion. I’m not sure what’s more unique, the sport of fishing or the people who thrive in it. The traditional activity is full of dedicated anglers, not only to the game but to conservation, the environment and the future. There is a true love for our sport that in some crazy way connects each and every one of us. Every day there is a gathering on a lake, reservoir or river. It’s a gathering where good friends, family or even strangers come together. In some cases it is days like this that unite us and build value in each of our lives.

Over the years it’s been fun meeting many people simply through fishing. I am not talking about the guy at the bait and tackle shop but complete strangers, which in no way I would have come into contact with if it hadn't been for the water. I could tell you stories about people from all walks of life I never would have met if I hadn't had a rod in my hand. Some are now lifelong friends.

During the month of May I have been fortunate in visiting two rivers, two reservoirs and six lakes. At almost every location it was the same story. Whether prepping the boat or walking down a river bank people I’d never met stopped to visit and talk about fishing. I enjoy these types of conversations as they not only help in developing new friendships but you can also gather useful information.

I believe some people enjoy the sport of fishing because of the bonds and strong friendships they can create. After all, there are somethings on this earth that can only be learned while sitting in a boat or riverbank. Then when you hear a story about a special trip or numerous fish caught, you can’t help but grin. Not only do you understand, you’ve been there before, with your own family and friends, the people who really know you at 5 AM.

They know what it’s like to roll out of bed when most wouldn’t even consider getting up. They have felt the sting of the wind on their own faces or getting caught in a thunderstorm only to pull the drawstring on the hooded rain suit tighter.

But these are the same people who know the rewards a little ambition can provide, the unforgettable sunrises and beauty of each morning. The dimpling surface as fish rise all around you, the thrill of having something alive on the other end of your line. It can also be as simple as seeing the smile on a child’s face who has never experienced something like this. These are the people who know the real you at 5 AM. Rest assured there are people across the nation who live the same life.

Some say we are different - maybe so. One thing that is certain is the passion we share. We are the ones who build friendships with nearly every sunrise. We cast and reel in lures and live bait as we laugh about events at work or family gatherings. We are the ones that understand how important some of the simpler things in life really are. But we also know that every place we go there are people just like us. So the next time you decide to go fishing and you happen to strike up a conversation with a total stranger, stop to realize, they may be a good friend you’ve never met.