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2023 Year In Review

By David Graham

It's that time of year again... where you sit back and reflect on how things went, what you accomplished and what's still left unturned. An analysis period, a time of measurement and reflection. Last year I wrote very matter of factly what my intentions were for THIS year... and this year I will do the same for 2024.

"Still... in the ever evolving landscape of online information sharing, I have to evolve in my own approaches. In 2023 I will launch my own podcast devoted to multi-species fishing and outdoorsman in general... I think it will really shape up to be something awesome. . The Boundless Pursuit Podcast will launch in 2023, but im taking my time to ensure its done well! Currently... sitting at the last days of 2022, my passport is being processed and will arrive early in 2023. I am eager to finally take my pursuits beyond the continental US, and to that next level... with eyes on potential adventure to South America, Europe, or Africa... I am very very excited for the years to come!" -2022 Recap

I think I'm on record in some number of podcasts I either hosted or was a guest on saying this year would be about quality over quantity. The writing was on the wall that while I felt I would get out less, I would have more impactful catches and moments on the water.

A lot of my effort and energy this year went into the launch and execution of the 'Boundless Pursuit Podcast'. I really just cannon-balled into the endeavor blindly. I rushed into buying equipment, editing software, and hosting sites with limited research. Sometimes the best way for me to commit to something is to simply start it in the first place and get to a point where there's 'no turning back'. Heaven forbid I spend hundreds of dollars on a project only to put it down and not start.

I didn't even necessarily know what direction I wanted to go with the show... I realized pretty quickly that if I wanted to stay consistent and always have a guest I can't pigeon hole myself into only talking to people I know, or cover topics I personally have specific interest or experience in. That would also risk alienating a large contingency of potential listeners.

It's been a really rewarding process. One that has allowed me to properly communicate with anglers and outdoorsmen from a half dozen countries and covering topics across numerous continents and regions in freshwater and saltwater. We covered topics from the Amazon, to the Arctic, Africa, Europe, Asia, all coasts of the US and into Canada. What I really take pride in though, was staying honest and humble. I found out the most willing and eager participants were often the guys (or girls) that listeners may have never heard of... not social media gurus or fishing 'celebrities'.

Frankly, I had a number of higher profile anglers actually either ghost me, give me the cold shoulder, or otherwise say no in some fashion either directly or indirectly... and you begin to realize that for some folks maybe highlighting the experience isn't as important as highlighting ones self, metrics, followers, or status.

I understand that interviewing people who don't have much of a following, or don't have social media AT ALL isn't necessarily a great growth strategy for the podcast... but through the process I also realized I don't give a damn.

I have my family, my beautiful wife and daughters, a great paying career, and a healthy body that still functions well in the field... and as I get older I care A LOT less about what I can gain out of these things. 'Social media' is becoming something of a bitter thing, a drag, and a disingenuous show that has a muddied the water between passions and ego - where purpose gets lost.

And so, in that headspace I always retreat back to the water. My own fishing, MY path. The fishing this year was punctuated but high impact. Enough of a breakup in the monotony of a day to day routine in work and life to keep things interesting and keep my soul well fed. I don't intend to retell old stories (you can find this years blog posts for that)...

giant bowfin
This year I caught my biggest bowfin ever. The species I have chased longer than any other!

2023 was a year highlighted by milestones and personal bests. I called my shots, swung for the fences, and in most cases hit nothing but home runs! It is a year that saw me capture my first ever white sturgeon - a high priority mark on my quest for giant freshwater fish, and resulted in a landmark catch of my largest fish ever.

I spent a few weekends trying new areas and 'relaxing' on the beaches at night fishing for landbased goliath groupers with some solid catches. Its a passive style of fishing that doesn't require a tremendous amount of work or effort (aside from the physicality of deploying the bait). Generally a one and done session style of fishing.

land based goliath grouper
I know that if I were to ever move away from them; i'd kick myself for having not targeted them more often

I spent most of the year twiddling my thumbs, prepping, and dreaming of one BIG trip. My ultimate goal was to reach the Amazon. Its been a lifelong dream, something I've wanted for as long as I have held interest in the outdoors. A fascination with a place that precedes my interest in fishing. I had the mighty arapaima on my mind. An obsession over a species that wasn't drummed up over a bowl of cereal and an episode of 'River Monsters'... but had roots much deeper than that long before any shows ever depicted the species.

bucketlist fish

I was able to stay disciplined (maybe for the first time in a long time) set a goal, and execute it. Probably the most prepared i've ever been for something. I cant recall the last time (in fishing) that something has occupied my mind with such intensity to the point of exhaustion and loss of sleep as that trip did. But when the moment came, and the opportunities in the water arose, we made the absolute most on every one of them. It was a trip where countless 'bucketlist' species fell one by one, highlighted by that ultimate moment of physically holding a giant arapaima in my arms.

Something about that experience has really shifted the trajectory of my mindset as an angler. I have this intense focus on my path that is borderline alienating. It has given me such an intense focus on doing the things I want to do as an angler that it consumes my mind above all else. Constantly visualizing the places I want to go, things I want to see... 'Consuming' in the sense that it has seized space I had in my mind for other things in fishing.

Gone, or certainly diminishing is this idea that I need to get something from fishing. Dreams of working in fishing or having some sort of title or monetary benefit off the back of some slimy scaly creature below the water's surface. The 'market' has been saturated by zombies. People get on this perpetual chase of a dream, but that dream isn't a giant fish anymore... its notoriety, its a blue check, its a placard or a trophy. Its driving people to lie, cheat, and steal, and its really messed a lot of things up I think.

That is not to say if some sort of opportunity were to present itself I wouldn't take it, but authenticity is critical... it is key! I love information sharing, writing, blogging, podcasting... but I do them as a more modern form of journaling. Some form of capturing a moment I can relive and look back on.

Spontaneity is the key to a happy life I think... calculated risks at the very least. I have taken a lot of blinders off and focused on the purity of the experience and it has made this pursuit so much more fulfilling.

Just recently an opportunity presented itself to hop in on a group chasing the iconic bluefin tuna. It was a chance to reconnect with an old friend from school, and a shot at one of the world's premier sportfish. We had a small window to fish one day off shore from Oregon Inlet with "Kahuna fishing charters" (as seen on Wicked Tuna). As has been the case this year - we swung for the fences and made contact every time! With tough conditions and a lot of uncertainty we managed to conquer the target. What an impression made! I am already thinking of future trips to try to bring down one of the 700-1000lb class specimens!

bluefin tuna oregon inlet

Going into 2024, I have new ideas and goals in mind. Already brewing on the horizon are new travel ventures... a redemption trip to new waters in the Amazon, expeditions to Spain and more. In terms of projects, I have a strong desire to incorporate videography into the mix more now. Having been to such amazing places and seeing incredible things I want to be able to capture those memories and relive them and share them. Before the end of 2024 I think we will see more video's up on the site for sure.

The Podcast... the podcast will keep going, although I must admit as a one man operation its tough. I work 10 hour shifts throughout the week, have obligations to my family - my kids - and to myself in my own time alone. The process week in and week out of recruiting new guests, scheduling, editing etc has been tedious and intrusive into my own time. In analyzing the show, clearly audio format is better than video. I think as the show goes on it will transition exclusively into an audio format, thus saving me from all the editing! There will be a period of downtime between 'seasons' of the show to be sure.

I think 2024 will be another year of BIG catches... focusing on emersion into the experience and freeing myself from the idea I need to gain anything else from the outdoors. It's as simple as that - I'm at a point now where I am structuring serious gameplans to execute dream trips and high priority experiences and species... That is taking precedent over 'followers', likes, shares, or anything else. Stay on your path!

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Feb 13
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

holy crap. amazing!

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