April 8, 2019

Successful Fishing Is 100% Mental

You probably love fishing for more reasons than one. I know I do, and this dark story illustrates why.


If you're like me, you love inshore fishing.

The gorgeous sunrises, enjoying a little peace and quiet, you genuinely love spending time in the marsh.

I know I do.

beautiful louisiana marsh sunset

Pictures don't do it justice. You know what I mean, but only if you've been there.

But if there's one specific thing I treasure, the thing I cannot do without, it is the challenge encountered.

Exploring new marsh ripe with hazards, shallow water and underwater obstructions.

"Figuring out" what the fish are doing, what they will bite and, most importantly, where they are.

Boat Flipping Trout

Finding the biomass of biting fish is 90% of the battle. Reeling them in is the easy part.

Fishing is an ultimate challenge because there is no referee to blame when the fish don't show up.

It's a tough game and what helps me beat it isn't any boat, electronic device, fishing rod or lure color.

sparkle beetle dead shrimp

Even time-tested classics like this won't help you if you're not on the fish.

In fact, it's not any one tangible thing at all.

Instead, it's raw mental strength.

When the conditions get tough, the fish get lockjaw and equipment fails for no reason, it is raw mental strength that keeps me going to get on 'em anyways.

If this interests you, and you'd like to add it to your fishing trips, then take a few minutes to read this story and see exactly what I mean.  

The room was small and dark, being roughly the size of a closet, without much space to lay down.

Even if I did, it'd be a matter of time before I was discovered.

Had it been hours? Maybe a day? Two days?

I had no idea.

The flight suit was doing an awful job holding in body heat; it's paper thin compared to the warming layers I had on before.

It felt like forty-something degrees, so of course I'd live, it would just be miserable.

Certain misery and another certain thing: I couldn't go anywhere.

Whatever place this was, it had steep mountains surrounding the perimeter, with a nighttime temperature ranging in the teens and drifts of snow so deep they could only be crossed with snowshoes.

So, even if I did escape, it'd be a matter of time before I was caught...again.

And, if I weren't, the escapade wouldn't last long because I had no idea where to go, and only a faint idea as to where I was.

Besides, even if I evaded capture, I'd probably make the mistake of getting comfortable, decide to lay down, take a nap, then die in my sleep alone in some dark part of the woods.

Which is why those assholes took my clothes and snowshoes.

So it was best to sit, wait and "play the game".

Time passed like a glacier sliding inch by inch across a continent...

...eyelids begin growing heavy, something growls in the dark.

It looks to be on the door, an arm's length away, a swirling shadow.

It's dancing. Undulating.

Hey, I watched a guy order a pizza from a tree once!

He was hallucinating.

Shit. I'm hallucinating.

The last seven days seemed like a year, but somewhere in that span of time I had an apple and part of a rabbit.

So, not much food, and not much sleep, either.

Hallucinating is normal when you haven't slept in days.

I have got to get some rest.

Leaning against the cold brick wall, I begin dreaming...

Don't, don't look at what's in front of you.

Boots, boots movin' up an' down again.

Men, men go mad with watchin' em

An' there's no discharge in the war!

Then suddenly...

"War Criminal 39, you are not in posish!"


Caught again, not in the woods, but this time not in the position.

Blinding light burst through the door, followed by sausage-finger hands grabbing my collar and lifting my skinny ass off the floor.

Here it comes...

I just took it, like Raggedy Ann riding a mechanical bull.

Sixty seconds is an eternity when bouncing off walls and being slapped around.

This dude was huge, but he wouldn't beat me up too bad, right?

After all, they need me to be in good shape, and a broken bone isn't good form.

Finally, he was done.

"I check more often you. Stay in posish, da?"

And I did. Until he walked away and I couldn't hear his boots anymore.

What you read there is 100% true, non-exaggerated and something a lot of sailors and Marines complete every year.

In fact, it's SERE, a school training high-risk personnel to survive in the wild, evade capture by enemy forces, resist interrogation and escape captivity.

Devin Recon Marine

Reconnaissance Marines run a higher risk of capture due to the nature of their mission.

Despite how horrible it sounds, it was one of the best times of my life.

Our SERE instructors were the real deal, some being POW's from previous wars, bringing real-world experience to the classroom and field training.

They were inspiring, and I learned much from them.

I learned a lot of things, to include the all-important life lesson that pretty much everything is inside your head (and easily overcome once you realize that).

No matter what they did to us (and boy did they work us over) they couldn't get inside our heads unless we allowed them to.

And, when they did, we were taught to "bounce back", to let go of whatever happened and start anew as if it never happened in the first place.

What the hell does this have to do with fishing?


Absolutely everything.

When we launch the boat we are competing against the greatest force there is: Nature.

waterspout over marsh

You can't control Nature, but you can control how you feel.

Nature is oblivious to our efforts, causing trout to swim away when they shouldn't or giving redfish lockjaw in otherwise great conditions.

You could be the best guide in Delacroix, or brand spanking new to inshore fishing, it's always frustrating when it happens.

The difference is how you decide to handle that frustration.

Will you throw a hissy fit? Or will you smile and keep going?


Nobody remembers how long they had to grind to catch a limit of trout, all they remember is the limit of trout and the story usually gets better with time.

john swanson speckled trout

People remember the good times more than they do the grind.

But, that great story can only be made if you keep swinging after the marsh throws curveballs all morning.

Your mind cannot be beaten, not by the waves, not by the wind, not by any fish.

Overall, keep a good attitude, keep casting and know when to call it before grabbing a cold beer.

There is always next time.

Tight lines, y'all.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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