Focus and Determination Make It Happen

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

When was the last time you started your day with a kick in the nuts?

That’s exactly what happened to Mike Pyle the other day. For those of you who haven’t been following, I’ll give you a little background. Mike Pyle is a professional UFC fighter, fly fishing ninja and founder of Fish On Energy. G&G recently became one of his sponsors and it’s been really exciting being part of the team.

Mike had a tough fight on the card. Squaring off against a challenger eleven years younger than himself. I was fired up when I turned on Fox Sports and saw Mike with the flaming fish hook on his shorts. Mike’s technical fighting style was serving him well when, early in the first round, he took a knee in the groin. His young opponent was unbelievably strong and a good wrestler. It was clear that Mike had his work cut out for him.

ginkgasufcFrankly, Mike took a beating for most of that fight. It was only his skill and technique that kept him in the game. In spite of physical pain and a powerful opponent, he stayed focused and determined and in the last round turned the tables. The young challenger lost focus for an instant and Mike was there with the presence of mind to take advantage of it. Mike got him in a submission hold and almost ended the fight there.

In the end, his opponent broke the hold and won by a narrow decision. Regardless, I was impressed by Mike’s performance and proud to have my logo on his shorts. What’s more, I think he fought like an angler and there’s a lesson there for all of us.

The day after the fight I was telling Mike about a tarpon trip I went on recently. It felt a lot like that fight. Like a kick in the nuts in fact. Six of us went to fish Bocca Grande and found some of the most frustrating tarpon fishing I’ve ever encountered. We saw hundreds of fish but none that would eat.

The conditions were challenging. Very windy and, as we were fishing on the beach in heavy swells, it was a lot like bull riding. Waves crashing, some times knee high, over the bow. Time after time, I fought the wind and waves to made textbook presentations, only to see them refused. These fish were lock jawed and I couldn’t buy an eat.

After three days of that, it’s easy to lose your focus. To give up. To expect every fish not to eat. The funny thing about fly fishing, and a fight for that matter, is you tend to get what you expect. If you embrace the futility of the situation, your confidence is gone and it starts to show. It shows in sloppy presentations, half-hearted retrieve and lack of focus. I can tell you this from experience. If you don’t believe it’s going to happen, it isn’t.

You have to know there is a fish out there for you. You have to believe that every fish you see could be that fish. Every time you cast, you have to believe it’s going to happen. If you don’t believe in it, the fish damned sure will not.

Near the end of day three my opponent lost focus for an instant.

_DSC5796She turned away from the fly, but I did not give up and she took a second look. I twitched and teased her with the fly and she followed. Finally, with my leader to my rod tip, her gills flared and the line came tight.

I’d love to tell you I landed that fish but I didn’t. I broke her off, but for six guys fishing for three days, that was the only fish hooked. I have to confess that it felt pretty good to bend a rod before heading home.

I think it was Mike Tyson who said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get hit.” We all have trips like that. We all get hit at some point. What makes a good angler is how you respond. Next time you are in that spot, think of Mike Pyle. Stay focused and determined. Rely on your technique and believe on every cast that it’s going to happen. It just might.

bt-gray_largeCheck out Mike’s cool fly fishing apparel at

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Focus and Determination Make It Happen

  1. Louis,

    I have to say this was a brilliant post today. It reminded me of something Kirk Deeter would write, and I know you would take that as a big compliment.

    Big props to Mike for entering the Octagon and fighting with everything he had from beginning to end. He was so close to pulling off the submission.

    I’ve been on so many of these trips, many with you Louis, that you describe in this post. Despite the really tough fishing, I congratulate you on finding a way to walk away a more experienced angler and more prepared for what going to be thrown at you the next trip on the books. Everyone should be able to relate to this post. I sure as heck did.

    Keep it Reel,

    Kent Klewein

  2. Louis, Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor are my main guiding spots in SW Florida. It can be frustrating and challenging at times to catch these fish on the beach. Sometimes they’re happy fish, taking flies eagerly, and sometimes they’re on a mission of movement, not interested. It’s very difficult to catch these fish especially on 10-15 plus westerly with big rollers. I’m assuming you were on a guided trip. When we encounter heavily NW, SW westerly’s, we move to the leeward sides of the Islands of Gasparilla and Caya Costa down into Pine Island Sound. However, we have been on a great bite in the canals for months now of juveniles and medium size, and Charlotte County has more canals then just about any place in Florida. We also do well at night around the bridges and canals. I had a Boca Grande trip yesterday and the bite was bad in calm weather, however, good snook fishing was only a 10-15 minute ride, and they are also on beach now literally on the in the last wave’s trough before it washes onshore. I was in Islamorada for a week in mid May and it was a blow out 15 plus ESE. Unlike offshore pelagics, tarpon really like calmer conditions.

  3. Nice post Louis, I too live in the SW FL area and are well versed in the fickle nature of the Silver King. Unfortunately there are days where just win

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