February 2021 News/Columns

Waypoints: Taking Time to Learn, by Geremy Olson

When we meet people where they’re at it allows growth and positive outdoor experiences.


Waypoints: Taking Time to Learn

Learning to fish and live life.

by Geremy Olson

WayPoint: When you start with good intentions you have no need to follow through and people are left waiting for you to keep your word. When you act, your integrity holds you to your word and lives are changed.


We all have an early memory of fishing and a Zebco 202 that almost worked to bring in a big fish of one species or another.  I have a handful of stories that involve a hook in the back of my head and the need for remedial casting lessons. Stories like these are a given for all of us, right?

The answer is they are not. Most adults are slow to tell you their stories about growing up fishing because they don’t have any stories to tell.

One of the traps we all fall into in day-to-day life is that we assume that our history is everyone else’s history. For me I hunted and fished a lot growing up but I was, for the most part, on my own. My dad didn’t hunt or fish and had none of the knowledge to teach me the details needed to be successful with a rod and reel.

When taking kids fishing it is important to understand their attention span so that you can end to trip before they grow bored and restless.

On the other hand, I had classmates who were fishing all the time and today they never go. They don’t even take their kids. The reason why is they all have a different story with a different memory. This is why it’s important to learn to ask and listen to everyone’s’ story before we pass judgment or set expectations. It’s funny how we all know we are all different, yet we as a society like to try to get everyone to be the same. We love to set ages as arbitrary responsibility waypoints. Yet that’s not how people work.

An interesting observation about my four kids is that they all learned how to use a spinning reel in about the same amount of time. It took them all about two months to become proficient at casting and reeling in fish while adjusting the drag. They did so, however, all at different ages for different reasons.

The same is true with shooting and driving the boat. As a parent it is my responsibility to understand each of my kids. Part of understanding them is to know their strengths and weaknesses, their limitations and abilities. Likewise, as anglers, it is our responsibility to do the same thing with each person we take out in the boat or even meet during our day.

Last summer I was asked to take a friend’s friend out fishing. The first time I met him was when he arrived at the shop to load the boat. As we talked, I discovered that he rarely fished and was just looking to catch something. As we talked on the trip to the lake, I saw he didn’t have the sea legs to hit Lake Sakakawea on a windy day so we put into the smaller Lake Audubon that had a large embankment that acted as a wind break that day.

Take the time to learn who someone is and then meet them where they’re at.

As we trolled that morning, we drank some coffee and did a lot of talking. In the boat with me was a guy who was recovering from cancer. He was on a trip to make things right in life and being in my boat that day was part of his journey. Because I took the time to learn who he was, I didn’t hit the big water and beat both of us up looking for big fish. Instead, we put into the perfect place for him and had the perfect day of fishing as a result.

It is not enough to only take the time to learn who someone is however. Once we start to understand someone, we need to make the investment into meeting them where they’re at emotionally and technically. It’s easy to make fun of the angler who is clearly doing something wrong.  It takes integrity and selflessness to meet them were they’re at and help them improve and grow. Whether it’s someone we meet on the water or family and friends we need to meet everyone were they’re at.

Take the time to learn who someone is and then meet them where they’re at.

 (Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, Fellowship of Christian Athletes North Dakota Coordinator, ND AIM Tournament Director, Outdoorsman, Producer, Wildfire Consultant & Public Speaker (GOspeaks.live) He is also the proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle.)

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