OK, I know, I've heard them all before. That is, the many excuses fishermen use to explain away the reason they do not catch many, if any, fish. You have probably endured more than one explanation as to what the cause was. Factor in the likelihood that most anglers are at least semi-skilled at twisting the truth and it becomes hard to draw the line between truth and outright bull. Although there is not nearly enough room in this column space to fully devote to the enormity of it all, here I will at least cover the basic "likely stories" as to why I, er…I mean you…do not catch many fish. Here goes…
•TOO COLD…Well, classic though it is, you can't use this one much in the summertime, even though we are enjoying what may be the coolest summer in recorded history. If you are semi-elderly, like me, then being too cold is just a way of life. Can't use this one.
•TOO HOT…Again, a time-honored excuse for inadequate angling. Since it has been cool, this one won't fly either. Then again, when it does cool down in the fall, the temperature gig blame-game is pretty much shot. Let's try another…
•BAD BAIT…Good try here, but it's not my fault that junior left the worms out in the broiling sun to resolve to a smelly heap of gelatin. Maybe you should teach that kid better and beg your wife to allow you to put night crawlers in the fridge. Be brave.
•WOKE UP TOO LATE…Really? Come on now, everybody knows the proverbial early bird/worm thing. Zero-dark-thirty might be 5 a.m. or 9 a.m., depending on where you live. Do yourself a favor and get an alarm clock with battery backup. Trust me…you'll never have to live this one down again.
•FORGOT THE RIGHT ROD…or hooks, or bait, or tackle of any kind. This is no excuse even for a rookie fisherman. Trust me, if I ever get around to shoveling out the back of my Chevy TrailBlazer I fully expect to find a small bait shop's worth of tackle to include enough gear to supply most of the folks at the Taneytown Senior Center…my new favorite hangout.
•GOT HUNGRY …Come on, when the fish are biting, I mean really tearing it up, there are some things you just have to let go, and food is one of those items. That's why they make high-octane energy drinks, caffeinated sodas and 5-Hour Energy drinks. Besides, there's always a McDonald's somewhere nearby. Tough it out!
•I DON'T WANT TO GET MY HANDS DIRTY…or clothes, or car or cooler, and on and on. Clean freaks just give me the willies. If you can't stand a little grime then you probably won't make it with the likes of us fisherfolk. Stay home and watch "Wipe Out."
And these are but a few of the traditional angler excuses that we often hear when a man comes home with no fish, fish stories or tall tales. There's always the classic… "I guess they just weren't bitin'," or the time honored "Just wasn't my day." But when it really comes down to it, excuses are just a tiny part of the fishing puzzle that we all have to face from time to time. What's your excuse?
Jim Gronaw is a freelance outdoor writer from Westminster. His column appears in the Advocate on the first and third Wednesday of the month.