Fishaholics

Fishaholics

Schneider, Bill
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Most people find it difficult to admit they have a problem, and when they do, they confess only to a good friend or relative.

Not me. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position to admit it to everybody who uses the Internet. You could call it an Almost True Confession.

I have a problem. I'm a fishaholic. I can't get fishing out of my mind. I think about it 20 times every day. I can't concentrate on my work. I dream about it. I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat after losing a dream fish. I've tried everything to cure myself, even going cold turkey for two whole weeks, but one trip down to the Man Room to visit my flies and lures, and I'm hooked again.

For decades, I've been in denial about my dependency, but now, finally, for the good of my loved ones and friends, I've decided to deal with it.

I heard about the famous Twelve Step Program that has helped so many addicts, so I checked it out and made a few minor modifications, and viola, I created a step-by-step program for rehabilitating fishaholics.

I know I'm not alone. I've met many others at boat ramps and fly shops, so I thought I should share the new program instead of keeping it to myself.

Twelve Steps to a Normal Fishing Life
Step 1: Admit that you are powerless to control your urge to fish and buy more fishing gear including all that stuff you don't need and has no chance of catching a fish; that your addiction hurts those around you; that your life has become unmanageable because of it; and that you've hit bottom, bankrupt, friendless, jobless, mired in despair.
Step 2: Start to believe that only a Higher Power greater than all of us, the Fishing God, can cure this insanity.
Step 3: Make a decision to turn your life over to the care of the Fishing God.
Step 4: Make a fearless inventory of yourself, detailing all your deficiencies and paying special attention to stashes of lures, flies, and nightcrawlers that should be in the refrigerator.
Step 5: Admit first to yourself, then to the Fishing God and then to a loved one or close friend, the exact nature of your wrongdoings, out loud, shamelessly, unrestrained. That means all the laughable exaggerations about the length of your fish, the lame excuses to your spouse about why you needed a new boat or rod, and those reprehensible lies to your boss about why you weren't coming in to work.
Step 6: Ready yourself to ask the Fishing God to cleanse away all defects in your character. And be sure to allow a lot of time for this.
Step 7: Humbly request that the Fishing God erase your shortcomings. Again, allow lots of time for this.
Step 8: Make a list of all persons you have harmed with your defects and wrongdoings and lies and become willing to make amends to all of them.
Step 9: Make direct amends to all these people. This will require even more time, at least several months.
Step 10: Should you forget and fall from grace and return to your shameful ways, commit to make amends immediately after your future misdeeds. This may add an hour or so to each day you go fishing, but it's allowable to make amends to your fishing buddies in the saloon after a long day on the river.
Step 11: Commit to maintain your improved character and devotion to the Fishing God. Otherwise, He will continue to frown upon you and send you home fishless day after day after day.
Step 12: Have a spiritual awakening as the result of taking these steps and carry this message to other fishaholics you meet along the river or on the lake.

Bill Schneider writes a weekly column called Wild Bill for NewWest.Net, an online magazine, where this commentary was originally published.
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