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Fishing has to be one of the greatest sports ever created.

Surprised at that statement? Fishermen arenít. Oh, and neither are fisherwomen. But many basketball, football, hockey, baseball, and tennis fans are still reading that first line over to themselves in disbelief. And why donít some people like fishing? I think I have an explanation.

Take a look at one of the five sports listed above. Any of them, except maybe tennis, have a high adrenaline level. The stadiums are lit up to the tunes of YMCA and...yecchh...Hanson, there are crowds chanting a playerís name, popcorn and cotton candy vendors walking around, and the audience is really excited to watch them play.

Now take a look at fishing. Youíre sitting either in solitude or with one or two other people, listening to the crickets chirp, and watching a bobber that hasnít moved in the last twenty minutes. What about music? Well, you can always have a little radio out there with you, and if youíre lucky, you can bring a tape of YMCA out with you (donít pack Hanson along) . The audience is pretty much nonexistent except for possibly the people that youíre fishing with.

So thereís a big difference between fishing and all those other sports, right? Not really. The only big difference with fishing is that it's just a little harder to get into the whole spirit of things. Once you learn how to fish, though, you just might not want to go back to those other sports.

Most people start their fishing experience at the bait and tackle shop. They'll be in there all pumped up to do some serious bait and lure buying. They'll know their sinkers from their spinners, their lunkers from their polliwogs! Of course, most of these buyers won't be on the lookout for inexperienced clerks! I've heard of someone

who walked into a local shop and asked for 12 suckers. Any self-respecting fisherman...I mean, fisherperson...would know the guy asked for live bait. But, as this fellow was ready to walk back with the clerk to the tanks where they kept the bait, the clerk instead stood behind the counter and started counting out twelve suckers. Orange, grape, cherry... The person asked her what she was doing, and she said, "Picking out your twelve suckers! Would you like another grape?"

There are lots of things about fishing that appeal to many different types of people. For those people who don't like baiting the hook, there's lovely scenery around the lake for them to look at while someone else baits it up. There are the huge, climbing trees that surround a lake to the wide open expanses of water on the river or by the ocean. There's plenty of wildlife out there, too, including huge geese you won't get a chance to see during hunting season, and small things such as frogs, salamanders, and little kids fishing with their dads.

That's another one of the great things about fishing; spending time with your family and friends. In any other sport, if you're playing with a friend or family member, you're probably either isolated from them on the field or are playing against them during the game. In fishing, you're all on the same team playing against the fish. But even then it's not in such a hating fashion as it is in football or even basketball.

Some naysayers also say that catching a fish is mostly luck, and not much skill is involved. There really is technique to catching a fish. Grabbing hold of the line and reeling like a mad man that's had way too much caffeine is one strategy used a lot, but it usually doesn't work. You've gotta learn how to let fish know they should keep

biting on to the bait and make sure they're hooked by using the right combination of reeling it in and letting the string out. Almost like being a salesman, but without getting rejected nearly as much.

In most sports, once the game is done, the experience is done. Sure, at the Stanley Cup or NBA Finals there may be a bunch of cheering and sometimes people storming the field, but after a little celebration it's over and the only real fun is finally getting out of the crowded parking lot. In fishing, once you're done for the day, the fun has just started. You'll probably wanna make up a campfire and roast up the day's catch. Of course, as a little insurance in case you don't catch anything, always remember to pack along the beany-weenies. Not that I'm saying you'll be skunked!

Now that you know how great fishing is, next time a bunch of your friends or family want to go out and do something fun, pass on the football and take a breather from the basketball, and instead go out and have some fishing fun!

Note to Frederic Smith:

I know this is sent just a tad early, and that's because I'm not going to be able to send it in to you before the 15th if I don't send it today. Anyway, hope you enjoy it!

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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