Be Prepared, from Steve Leslie

December 13, 2006 |

I have lived on the east coast of Florida for 23 years yet my experience in fishing is quite limited so any chance I get to do such, I take advantage of the opportunity with restless anticipation.

Some years back, I was invited by a gentleman friend of mine who owns an insurance agency to be his guest on his 28′ Robalo center console fishing boat for an excursion out to the Gulf Stream. We were on a mission to catch billfish.

Billfish such as sailfish are surface feeders and their diet consists of flying fish so the method used is to troll at a steady speed and put out bait on every available rod and reel on the boat in the hope that one swims by and notices a tasty ballyhoo being pulled along at 15 knots and decides on it for his lunch.

For most of our day journey the only thing we accomplished was burning a significant amount of fossil fuel. That and an irritating case of wind burn. However this would soon change.

After two long hours of trolling, suddenly and without warning my host noticed something unusual with respect to one of the rods. He immediately cut the engine and pointed out into the wide expanse of the ocean. We had stumbled onto a school of dolphin. Dolphin the fish, not the mammal.

The area he pointed to was a beautiful sea of green approximately 25 feet from the aft of the boat. Seemingly out of nowhere 50 or so of the most gorgeous green creatures you have ever seen began to appear. And the dolphin were extremely active cutting up the surface by flipping and flapping.

My captain sprang to action, instructing me to pull out the lighter tackle that he had ready for just such an event. We cast our lures directly into the middle of the school and began to pull dolphin in from right and left. We barely had enough time to unhook one, throw it in the hold, and cast again. He kept admonishing me to work as fast as I can and reel them in quickly. No points for style here. And my arms began to burn from the strain.

Our hold was beginning to fill up nicely with some real champion fish. Just as suddenly and without warning the school began to dissipate and then just as quickly as they appeared they completely disappeared.

After we had caught our breath and took inventory of our newly acquired riches, we soon learned that we had a full hold of beautiful dolphin and a few bull dolphin to boot.

We decided to call it a day and return to port with our cherished reward. Interestingly we never did hook the great billfish we were in search of but it did not seem to matter as we had a more than an adequate replacement of Mahi Mahi.

The memory of this event has stayed with me for years as had the valuable lesson that I took from it. I learned that most of success in life comes from proper preparation, patience and when luck intersects with opportunity. It also is quite unpredictable instantaneous and in this case short-lived. Therefore it is to be relished and cherished.

I have seen many similar events played out in stocks where you own a stock for months and sometimes many months without anything happening and suddenly out of nowhere it begins to skyrocket. It seems as though every mutual fund manager, hedge fund manager and speculator has to own it. And you get rewarded greatly for the patience you displayed by letting the story play itself out.

I have sat at a poker table for hours and hours and never had a playable hand. All I would get were hands that looked like feet and smelly ones at that. Suddenly the sky opens up and I become a card rack. Every pot is mine and I can do no wrong. Every move is the correct one and I go from the short stack to the bully at the table while quickly building a Great Wall of China in front of me.

Yes, I can thank “O Captain My Captain” for a memorable day but more importantly for a very valuable life lesson. One that was truly a lesson for a lifetime.


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