Welcome to “How I Stay Sane,” a weekly column where real dads talk about the things they do for themselves that help them keep grounded in all the other areas of their life — especially the parenting part. It’s easy to feel strung-out as a parent, but the dads we feature all recognize that, unless they regularly take care of themselves, the parenting part of their life will get a lot harder. The benefits of having that one “thing” are enormous. For Eli Rosenberg, 35, Minnesota, starting to work for a tackle and lure company accidentally plunged him into his new hobby. Work is life and life is work. As long as it helps him stay calm, I guess.
I started working at a fish and tackle company about three years ago. It was while my wife was pregnant, right before we had our kid. I really had maybe only fished half a dozen times for stuff like bachelor parties or the occasional family outing. When I started working at the company, obviously, everyone was really excited about fishing, and I started to really get into it.
I lived in Chicago at the time, so it was slow-going at first. Not a ton of spots there, especially if you’re new. Still, I tried it out a few times before we had the baby. I didn’t catch anything, but it was relaxing and fun to be out there.
In the years after, however, I learned a lot more. I have a lot of equipment, gear, and fishing tackle, and I actually moved to Minnesota where there are a lot more lakes. I mean, it’s the land of 10,000 lakes. Now, I’m a five-minute bike ride to 3 or 4 lakes.
During the spring and summer, I try to get out least once a week. Sometimes that’ll just be for a few hours. I’ll go before work, or I’ll knock off for lunch plus an hour, or go right around dusk on the weekend. Fall is also a really good time. I’ve been trying to get out more now that the weather is a little bit cooler. Every once in a while, when I can, when it works with my schedule, with the baby and my wife, I’ll try to get out a few six-hour weekend trips. I recently bought a kayak, too, which means I can go more places.
Part of what hooked me was just the thrill of catching a big fish. There’s always this potential of catching your personal best. That’s what everybody is always going for. That moment when a fish hits your lure, blows up on a bait. You set the hook and you’re fighting this wild animal or this fish. That’s the exciting part.
I also really enjoy the peacefulness of it. I get out there at like 6:30 in the morning, before the sun comes up. I’m on the kayak, the water is super calm, like glass, and there are trees. It’s quiet.
There’s also the sport of it. Catching fish might sound easy. It might sound like a lot of people do it. But putting together the right combination of the lure, and the conditions, and the right retrieve of the bait — how fast or slow you’re pulling it or where you throw it, being able to be successful at that — that’s really hard. When you start to get better at it, it really feels like you’re on to something.
More often than not, I’m probably fishing alone. Sometimes, if, for a moment, I have a couple extra hours on a Saturday, the baby is napping, I’ll say: “I’m just going to bike over to the pond”, throw a rod in my backpack, and bike on over. I do that alone.
My mind tends to wander when I’m on the lake, I admit that. I’ll be bouncing around, thinking about tons of different stuff. But I do try to focus on the fishing. That’s what I’m there for. It helps me get my mind off other things — whether it’s other stressful things at work or home. If I can focus on the fishing, focus on trying to catch a fish, or figure out what the fish are going to do, it helps me clear my mind of all of those things that might be consuming me. I just try to enjoy it, because I know that when I get back home, I’ll be dealing with those problems, anyway.
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