Fishing, from Jim Sogi

February 17, 2009 |

 We went down around South Point to fish. It is wilderness beyond there, with no houses, no cars, no other boats, and no land until South America 4 thousand miles away. Its wide open ocean. We had to go between two gale warnings and small craft advisories, so the weather was sketchy, but like many predictions is subject to "standard error" and changing conditions on the ground. We decided to go see what the conditions were and decide whether to press on or turn back. We got a call from campers that the wind had died, and drove on through the night in relatively less rough conditions. It was still fairly rough going, but at least not as rough as last time when the waves were continually covering the boat. We scored big catching big tuna, small tuna, Red snappers, mahi mahi. Chair's huge insight that life has analogies to the market is my favorite pastime so here are a couple of things I learned from my master waterman fisherman friend that might be of help in markets.

1. Don't rely 100% on the weather report. They are based on models. You have to open your eyes and see what the sky looks like, what the water is doing, what friends tell you is happening right now. Be flexible and ready to change your plan. Don't have a fixed plan. Wait to read the current conditions. Same in markets. Don't rely on the prognostications, the predictive models blindly. See how it actually develops and act accordingly. Factor in your own mental and physical conditions to weather the weather in case it turns bad.

2. Be prepared. My friend is a fishing fanatic. He's always very prepared. He had big lures, little lures, jets, birds, poppers, outriggers, downriggers, big poles, little poles, live bait, chum, hand lines, bottom fishing gear, casting gear. We had alternatives. When one thing didn't work, we tried a different technique. We had a week worth of food and fuel. In markets, have different trades, different entries, different exits, different allocations, different leverages, different markets. You need them all to survive and succeed. One small example, when trolling, we ran a long left, a medium right, a short stern, and a medium stern line, all spread out. When entering a trade, one way is to spread out your bids, long, medium, short. One might hit, all might hit. Either way, its one good way to troll for big game.

3. There is a large random element in fishing, but technique is very important. Where do you drop? There are instruments, but looking at the land formations where water might filter down and promote nutrients to feed fish. I found a buoy on the GPS and headed there and immediately got double strikes with mahi mahi jumping in the air while fighting. Once the fish is hooked, there is little or no room for error. Any lapse and the fish might jump off the hook. The most critical time is the landing. The leader has to be handled just right, the gaff must be precise or the fish might escape. Gaffing the wrong place damages the meat. Handling the fish, icing it properly preserves the value of the fish for the market or plate. There is very little room for error. In seamanship, there is little room for error with a rocky coast and large waves crashing near shore. Same in markets, despite the random element, once hooked, there is little room for error. Errors are costly, and even deadly: errors of execution, in entering at trade, in the technique to exit, errors of judgment. Its all happening fast.

4. Lastly, when we caught the little tuna, we cut it up and ate some of it raw with soy sauce, and wasabi as sashimi on the boat. It was still alive. I really felt like one with the ocean then. Some times you can really get in tune with the market. Its a good feeling. You're not fighting it. Its feeding you.





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