For years on March 1st, when sane people are still sleeping, my friend Mike put on all the appropriate gear and headed to Bennett Spring for the opening day of trout fishing. Two thousand men and women line up shoulder to shoulder ready to land their first catch of the season.

Evidently there’s a long list of unwritten etiquette for the day such as don’t wade in front of others, be quiet, and don’t shuffle your boots. I’d never be able to coordinate flinging the hook and remembering all the rules. I wouldn’t have to walk out with a stringer full of fish to have a good day. Not going too deep and drowning myself in the boots and not snagging one of the 2000 in the lip would be enough of a challenge for me.

I heard a story about a group of Alaskan fishermen who didn’t hunt for the big ones for bragging rights but for a living. They were trying to figure out how to keep their cod catch fresh in route to mainland United States. If they shipped the catch in live tanks the fish got mushy and some even died. Freezing would preserve the fish, but that just wasn’t fresh enough.

Then the fishermen learned catfish, a natural predator for cod, was the secret to the catch arriving alive and fresh. If a catfish was put in the live tank it chased the cod keeping them moving the entire trip. I’d move, too, if something that ugly was chasing me.

Actually, I feel like ugly stuff chases me a lot. I bet you do too. I just keep moving. I wonder what I’d do if life was less challenging. Maybe I’d get lazy and mushy like the cod. Maybe I’d waste time and be less productive. Maybe I’d sit down and give up. So just maybe catfish in my life is a good thing.

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