Bill Dance Outdoors
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The Big Question, Ask It (And More)

Posted: February 13th, 2013 by Bill Dance

For years, I have written columns for various magazines, simply entitled “Ask Bill.”

And yes, it is just a Q&A column, a simple concept, really, but an excellent way to teach fishing’s tricks of the trade…a way for fishermen to learn more about the sport we love so much.

So much depends on the questions we ask. Maybe it’s because life really is all about choices? And when you think about it, questions are essential to our learning about fishing and everything else, for that matter. Have you ever been around a toddler that has only recently learned to talk? What is the one thing they constantly say? They ask questions, of course. Their focus is only “What’s that?” and “Why?” It’s a time when knowledge is brain food (and it’s kind of sad some of us lose that). And yes, young kids ask enough questions to worry the glitter paint off a bass boat! But again, this hunger for answers is how they learn; so we grandparents try to maintain a piece of patience, all the while pondering that one good thing about grandchildren is that we can spoil them and then send them home!

Considering kids’ questions, let me set the hook with that line of thought. Fishermen, especially the most successful among us are also constantly asking questions, or at least they should be. The questions we ask, from “Where am I going to fish today?” to “Should I stay late and take advantage of the topwater bite?” are what can make our days worthwhile. All fishing trips are filled with questions. Some we ask of others and some we ask ourselves. And the answers (a.k.a. “the truth”) are out there somewhere all we have to do is find them.

Of course, in the outdoor world (often a world filled with the rough, rugged, sportsman types), there are people who simply won’t ask questions. I am not sure as to the “why” of this. It may just be a male pride thing. You know, like our absolute refusal to stop and ask directions on a road trip. Some might see the simple act of not knowing as a weakness of some sort. (Thank goodness technology has advanced to GPS devices in most cars and trucks, and now we seldom have to risk embarrassment and stop and ask/beg directions!)

Admittedly, when it comes to getting answers, not all fellow anglers are going to be helpful. Some are as tight-lipped as a largemouth after a cold front when it comes to providing even the most basic information posed by a question. Now, I can understand this tactic if anglers are tournament fishing and want to keep their edge. But fishermen that fail to provide information to those that simply want to learn more about the sport should be ashamed. I really think most anglers are glad to answer questions that help others, especially novices.

And here’s some fish food for thought: I have been fishing for more than half a century, and I still ask questions on every trip. It’s natural, I guess. I am still learning on every trip and that’s what makes fishing fun, challenging and addictive to me. And certainly, questions are part of the learning process. So, ponder things. Ask questions. Never, ever assume you know it all. When/if you ever do this…fishing will most likely cease to be fun. And after a lifetime of casting, even I can’t imagine that.

Likewise, I don’t know the answer to every question, but I you better believe I can’t wait until the next fishing trip so I can try and find it. So, why ask questions? It’s how we learn to become better anglers. Our fishing trips begin and end with questions. For example, “Where am I going fishing today?” and “Where am I going tomorrow?”

And you already know the only stupid question, right? It’s the one you forgot to ask.

‘Til next time, catch one for me and ask questions, of yourself and others. You will be surprised at what you learn!

Bill Dance


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