Yesterday my editor Heidi Roth told me that the most important thing in life is finding “your tribe” – not necessarily a group of people who you cling to like white on rice to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather a community of like-minded folks with common interests who help you to become a better version of you. For some people, that can mean a specific geographic area, or an ethnic group or those with a similar interest. For most of us bass angers, it’s much deeper than that.
Entry into the fishing “tribe” is hardly an exclusive rite. I have bass fishing friends from every walk of life, both genders, from all over the world. Lots of them couldn’t stand to breathe the same air as one another if they didn’t have mutual love of the Senko or crankbaits or smallmouths. What we don’t realize when we enter the cult, however, is that we drag others along with us.
If you live with a member of one of these groups, even if you try to put up complete blinders, in most cases you’ll pick up some information by osmosis. For example, my sister-in- law the non-sports fan raised a hockey-addicted son and she can now identify most penalties before the refs and knows all sorts of ice-based minutiae. Her sister – my wife – didn’t resist the fish game, but she had no idea how enmeshed in it she’d become.
We got married in 2005. The 2006 Classic, held six months later, was the first professional tournament she attended, but it was mostly because one of her best friends was going to meet us in Orlando. She wasn’t there for the tournament itself. The 2006 Elite Series Capitol Clash on the Potomac (won by Kelly Jordon) was the first big event she visited with no other ulterior motive. Now, exactly a decade later, she’s been to dozens, everything from Opens to Elites to FLWs to Classics. It’s gotten to the point where she’s not merely there as my appendage – instead, she has her own “tribe” of friends who ask for her by name.