While you all know about my passion for hockey, the other sport that I’m extremely passionate about is fishing. Given that summer is upon us, it seemed like the perfect time to tell another "fishing story"...but this time with a realistic ending.

As a kid, my father loved to fish and I can remember getting up at the crack of dawn so excited to get out on the water to see what the day’s catch would be. Now as a father of two boys, I hoped my kids would share the same passion. My older son had little interest, but my younger son was willing to give it a try. So I started bringing him out from time to time with the understanding that when we went, we had to fish for at least 30 minutes.

A couple summers ago, it seemed like every time we went out to fish, I would catch all the big ones and my boy was only getting small ones. He figured that it was time to upgrade his pole and reel so he could start catching some of the big boys, and the new equipment was needed in order to handle the bigger lures he’d be throwing. The problem was, I didn’t think he had earned the upgrade, as he rarely was out on the water with me for more that 30 minutes.  

So I made a deal with him.  For the next three weekends, we’d fish every night when we were at the cabin for at least 90 minutes.  If he committed to this and accomplished that goal, I’d take him in town to the fishing store and get him a new rod and reel. 

Well, it just so happened that the next three weekends would be some of the worst fishing we’d ever had. Night after night, weekend after weekend, he kept casting and never got a fish. He never complained, however, but when the 90 minutes were up, we went in. 

A couple of weeks into our agreement, while driving into town I took a little detour. When we pulled into the tackle store parking lot, you should have seen the smile on my son’s face.  Monty was the storeowner and fitted my son with a very nice rod and reel.  He then took us outside to teach him how to cast a bait caster.

After his lesson, we were ready to hit the water.  We couldn’t get to the lake fast enough and once we pulled into the driveway, he shot out to the dock.  Coming off three weeks of awful fishing my hopes weren’t too high, and for the first couple hours the streak continued.  After two hours, I asked if he wanted to go in, and surprisingly he said no.  He was perfectly content just casting away.

After four hours on the lake and no fish, darkness was on the horizon.  With ten minutes of daylight remaining I gave him the five more cast announcement. On his second to last cast he threw his spinner bait toward the target.  The reel clicked and as he started bringing the line there was a huge explosion near the top of the water. 

As he pulled the fish closer to the boat, we got a glimpse of the trophy on the end of his line. It was the fish of 10,000 casts: a 38 inch Muskie!  A nearby pontoon boat out for a sunset cruise gave him a rousing applause! It will be a night I will never forget.  

That experience alone solidified my son’s passion for the sport. In that moment, he realized, that in order to earn the right for the big prize, you have to work it for hours some times.

The same principles apply to hockey.  Most players want the big prize, but are unwilling to put the time in to obtain it.  It takes years of grinding it out at practices, as well as off-ice stickhandling and shooting, hockey camps and clinics. Earning the right to have an opportunity for a big moment requires patience and persistence.

If you have a goal without a plan, then it’s just a wish.  But if you have a goal with a plan, work the plan, then you are getting closer to reaching it.

Just like I told my son, if you want the big fish, then you have to keep casting!


Edited in May 2024 from original article written by Lance Pitlick in 2015. Based in the Minneapolis area, Lance is a former NHL player with Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, played collegiate hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, is a foremost training professional with stickhandling and shooting both in-person and through onlinehockeytraining.com, and is the founder and former owner of Snipers Edge Hockey.



May 31, 2024 — Lance Pitlick

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