The Serial Specialist, looking back at an adult life.

     I am turning 35 next week and was recently introduced to a new term, Serial Specialist.  The basic idea was somebody who devoted all of themselves to a hobby or profession until they got about 70% proficient, then something else caught their attention and they moved on before ever actually mastering anything.  This little phrase has described my whole adult life perfectly.  Don't believe me?  Lets review...
Only lasted 2 years with this hobby.
     That's me on the mandolin with my 2 year old son back in 2005.  All I did was practice the mandolin.  If I wasn't working I had a mandolin in my hands.  I learned to read music, took lessons, bought expensive instruments, lead jam sessions, and even joined a band and wrote songs.  I got pretty good too.  We played at fairs, theaters, and even recorded a couple tracks for a CD.  I was known as a mandolin player and loved the fact that I was finally getting somewhere when I became interested in yoyoing from a video I saw on YouTube.
Spent about a year and half on this hobby.
     Yup, yoyoing became my new passion.  I spent hours throwing a yoyo and practicing tricks.  I joined forums, made videos, and traveled to contests.  I experimented and developed new tricks.  I even spent time sharing philosophies about how yoyoing was a parallel to life.  Again, I got pretty good, those in the industry got to know me, and I even took 5th in the Wisconsin State Yoyo Championships.  I was on my way to finally achieving whatever it was you get when you become a great yoyoer.  Until one day when I was practicing at my sons tee ball game.  When one of the kids asked me if I could juggle.
3 years, a new record!!!
     Well I couldn't juggle, at least I couldn't juggle yet.  That would change however because I am a Serial Specialist.  I got into juggling and sooner than you would think I was doing 3 balls tricks, then 4 balls, then clubs, then random objects.  I was juggling while balancing plates, juggling while walking a slack rope, juggling in parades.  Don't believe me?
     Seriously though I attended conventions and got a lot better.  Even started to get booked for birthdays and private corporate parties.  Then I added stilts and started to do the parade circuit.
     In fact I got good so quickly that I started to look for new things to do.  Trying to always come up with something new or something that would challenge me.  Eventually my own wife was so used to what she would see in the house that she wouldn't even look up.
     See the pattern?  Serial Specialist, apparently it's a real thing.  Shortly after making a start in the world of juggling I became fascinated with balloon twisting.  It all started with an argument I had with my wife, "It's great that you do all this random crap, maybe figure out how to make a living at it".  I ordered a basic balloon twisting kit and once again I devoted myself 100%.  I started small and soon it got big.  All my designs used multiple balloons and they started to get a following.
Took just 8 months to go pro.
     I was off to a great start and soon was traveling.  Different corporations, different states, different venues. It got to the point where the organizers had to bring in other balloon twisters to help take the load off.  I would be twisting as fast possible and still have a line 2 hours long.  Then when I introduced the concept of moving mouths on balloon animals so they could talk like puppets I started to get bookings and instructional requests from other countries.
     I tell ya what, I almost made it.  Then it got to the point that I couldn't deal with the stress.  All of a sudden it felt like work.  I wasn't having fun anymore, line work wasn't a challenge and I was burning out because you can only give 100% for so long before you lose the drive.  My wife went to France for a month to attend school and while she was away I saw my first episode of River Monsters.
     You guessed it!  I started fishing, that was 6 years ago this season.  I started simply, with a Zebco 33 combo from Walmart and a Mepps #5 black fury.  I caught fish the first time I went out and started instantly look for more information.  I was reading everything I could get my hands and buying gear like a man possessed.  I chased bass at first, until a chance encounter with a muskie fisherman (thanks JJ) changed my whole perspective.

     He told me tales of giant fish, epic fights, and long droughts of not even seeing a fish.  How the fish seemed to mess with anglers and more often than not the journey of trying to catch the fish was more interesting than when you actually caught one.  I became obsessed fishing 4-6 days a week for over a year until I finally caught one.  It wasn't huge but it lit the fire to keep me going.
     After I got a few muskies under my belt I started to look around for another challenge.  Eventually I found these people that were catching sharks from the beach in Florida.  I devoted all my time and resources into trying to catch one myself.  Which I accomplished on my first try...
     When I got back from Florida I soon found that my fishing was starting to get noticed and I started this blog.  It didn't take me long and I was on the prostaff of some great companies.  I realized very quickly that I was getting burned out (Serial Specialist) and started to look around for the next thing.  I discovered fly fishing around this same time and read that chasing carp was about the hardest thing you could do in freshwater.  I started the same pattern of immersion until one day I caught one, then three more.
     Eventually I found that the same people I had asked for advice had questions for me.  I discovered that I had information to share with others.  This came as such a shock for me because I am at best an average fisherman.  It turns out that I just spend more time fishing than others so I get more chances at big fish as a by product.  Big fish after all is what most fisherman want and now I get to help them find the fish of their dreams with my guide service.  So what does all this have to do with my Serial Specialist problem?  Well I am at that point again where I am looking for something new to take on and I need your help.
     I have spent all these years preaching the advantages of shore fishing.  How a boat is the last thing you need to catch big fish.  How boats and paddle craft are just tools some of us have at our disposal.  They are not a requirement to be able to catch fish well.  I honestly believe that anybody can catch big fish if they have the knowledge and are willing to put in the time.  That is why I started a shore based guide service.  I had originally planned to introduce Tenkara to my guide service in 2015.  I first heard about Tenkara a few years ago and quickly fell in love with the ideas of minimalism and simplicity.  I wanted to use it in an urban environment to teach children and curious new anglers how to fly fish.  Not sure what Tenkara is? check it out here.  I am all set up and ready to start this spring as a fully outfitted Tenkara guide service.  Lately though I have gotten a lot of interest in my kayak fishing.  I don't write about kayak fishing a lot, but the amount of interest in having a guide in Madison that specializes in muskies and bass from a kayak is intriguing.  I do not consider myself a kayak angler, I'm just a shore angler that occasionally kayaks.
     So where is all this going?  No idea, I do know that 35 holds lots of promise and a lot of new opportunities. I am being considered for the Madison Musky School faculty and am going to be at many expos during the 2015 season.  I am starting to write articles in the hope of getting published and my seminar on shore fishing is beginning to generate interest.  The only thing I need to figure out is which way this is all going to go.  Tenkara or kayaking?  Send me a message, comment, or call me to weigh in.  Here's to 2015 and the continuing adventures of a Serial Specialist.
     Tight Lines.

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