Stop apologizing and start asking questions

I wouldn’t call myself an expert boater. I don’t row the biggest lines or guide anglers on famous stretches of fabled trout water.

What I can do is get my family and friends safely down most stretches without significant issues. Surprisingly, I’ve rowed for very few anglers in my seven years behind the oars. Our family owns a big, slow raft and it happens to have a fishing frame on it but last week, while out on the Madison River in Montana, I found myself apologizing frequently to my fellow co-worker Nick Halle.

Granted, it was his boat, and I didn’t want to cause any damage but on my long drive back to Denver I started thinking more about my credibility behind the oars. I was constantly apologizing to Nick because I felt as though I was frequently making the wrong moves or positioning him the wrong way to be a successful angler that day.

It was on that drive back home when I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to apologize anymore. It doesn’t make me any less credible or knowledgeable about rivers if I’m out of my comfort zone. Instead, I’ve decided, that rather than apologizing for improper boat placement I should be asking questions.

How far do you want to be from the bank? What angle works the best and why? Do you want to fish the left or right bank in this stretch? Should I slow the boat down?

I ended up asking these questions as I became more comfortable on his boat and, being the generous person he is, Nick provided honest answers, with maybe a hint of sarcasm, that will help me become a better all-around rower.

The point is we’re never too good to keep asking questions and learning. I’ve spent most of my time on boats leading trips with friends and family where fun, not fish, was the only goal. Fish have always been a byproduct of river trips and that’s completely fine.

The next time you’re rowing a boat and someone else is fishing, feel free to ask the questions that might be a bit embarrassing. It might help you out well into the future.