I have a friend from Texas coming here Friday night with the goal of catching a Potomac River snakehead. He’s someone who has helped me tremendously since the earliest stages of my outdoor writing career, when he was the pro-staff manager of a major rod company, and I was some guy just struggling to get published. After he left that position and moved into various other jobs inside and adjacent to the fishing industry he continued to help me. He introduced me to big timers at various tackle companies, as well as some of my writing clients, and provided me with key news and insights when he could ethically do so. He never asked me for anything in return.
As I look back on my time as a writer, I know that I’ve worked diligently and consistently, investing substantial time, money and brain cells into getting where I am, but I’ve also received a lot of helping hands along the way, including from people who had nothing to gain from helping me. That’s why it’s important to me that I put every possible bit of effort and research I can into making sure he gets his snakehead.
I’ve caught a bunch of snakeheads since they took hold on my local river, but until two weeks ago I’d never targeted them specifically. I wanted to have Plans A, B, C and D, possibly all the way down to Z, ready to go, in case we have an odd tide, an atypical weather pattern or the toothy critters decide to get finicky. With that in mind, I put out a request on Facebook for local friends to offer up some help – not necessarily waypoints, but just some general info that might help me time my milk run or play the weather to my advantage.
I didn’t expect much. If I’d been asking for bass info, I would’ve expected nothing at all. Then again, I wasn’t asking for someone’s tournament-winning rock pile, or magic bait modification. Nevertheless, I was surprised at how many people – some of whom don’t know me at all, some of whom barely know me – went out of their way to offer advice, right down to specific baits, hand-drawn maps and thoughts on how to time the tides properly. I was utterly amazed and I am thankful to every one of them.
Our sport has its share of controversy and its share of turf wars, but I believe that the good far outweighs the bad. Every successful outdoor writer or tournament angler knows that they’ve earned that title and their achievements, and that much of the hard work is done in solitude. Still, none of us have done it alone. It’s a good reminder to me to pay it forward when I can.