‘The Challenge’

By Matt Mittan

If you have read my column over the years, then you know that I always look for the life lessons or the parallels to our daily lives that fishing can provide. Well, I found one in the most unlikely of places.

Over the past couple months I had been asked several times if I would do some “lure challenges” for the “Matt & Michele Outdoors” program. I finally relented and decided to do a competition between a $2 popper and a $10 popper. It was agreed that the main factors in scoring would be presentation, finesse capability, fish caught, price and durability.

So, I set out on one of the lakes of Table Rock State Park in the Upstate of SC with poppers and cameras in hand. I loaded up my Old Town canoe and off I went. It was a grind. The conditions could not have been any worse for top water fishing. I just knew that the fish would be stacked up along drop offs, in the deeper waters. And my depth finder proved that to be true. But I pressed on. After all, I was there on a mission.

About 2 hours into the day I finally got my first action, as I pounded the shoreline, switching back and forth between the baits. Over the next few hours I ended up catching some Bass and was able to declare a very clear, and one sided, victor of the challenge. On that day, at least, it was the $2 popper.

Now, the easy lesson here might be to press on through initial adversity. Or it might be that money doesn’t equal results. But those are too easy to see. The take-away came later.

Once I got the video edited and posted up, I immediately started getting requests for other lure challenges. How could I say no? But here was the challenge… The most popular requests were for lures that I didn’t have in my box and that had I never used before. But hey, got to keep the People happy!

So I went shopping. I’m a few weeks into doing these now and I have gotten to learn lures and presentations that are completely new to me. And I’ve even found a couple of lures that I have used and picked up new patterns to add to my tackle. I also decided to start hitting new waters that I’ve never fished before, rather than going to the same several spots that I know inside and out. In short, I’m having a blast! I’ll turn 50 in a couple of months and yet I feel like I’m getting to experience fishing all anew again.

And therein lies the lesson this month… Push yourself to try new things. Break the patterns and habits that you’ve held on to for so long. It can, not only introduce you to new tactics and presentations, but it can open the door to new opportunities and adventures. It also gives you the ability to pull your tried and true tricks out of your bag at the most impactful moments and situations. This is as true for fishing as it is for life itself. Switch things up. See what happens. That is my challenge for you – and for myself too.

Matt Mittan co-Hosts “Matt & Michele Outdoors”, a weekly program devoted to nature-centered day trips around the southern Blue Ridge Mountains and Foothills. Visit www.MattMicheleOutdoors.com for more episodes or check out the show on most podcast platforms – such as iHeartRadio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, TuneIN and many more. Email MattMittanOutdoors@gmail.com.