Is investing like fishing?
Photo: João Pacheco. Source: Picjumbo
In 1653 Izaak Walton published “The Compleat Angler,” a short treatise on fishing. In this little book he explains that fishing is a pursuit that can never be truly mastered. When you go fishing, there’s always a new lure or a new location or some other shiny new toy to try out. “But he that hopes to be a good angler,” Walton continues, “must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit, but he must bring a large measure of hope and patience.” He describes fishing as a perfect combination of contemplation and action.
I would agree. I grew up fishing in Minnesota. Times spent on a lake or stream have been relaxing and contemplative, punctuated by short bursts of energy where quick thinking and decisive action are necessary. Nothing quite matches the thrill of bringing in a “lunker” after a long and careful pursuit.
Photo: Doug Tengdin
It’s the same with investing. Investors need inquiring minds, hopeful dispositions, and patience. It can take some time for a disciplined investment approach to produce results. At the same time, we need to be diligent to make sure that the main idea behind our investment thesis hasn’t changed. We can’t allow ourselves to be whipsawed by every new fad or fashion that appears – but we can’t ignore the fact that circumstances change over time. And nothing quite matches the thrill of buying a “ten-bagger” – a ten-for-one winner.
Good investing is both art and science. It’s a science as it applies to investments, but an art as applied to the investor. Every investor is unique, with unique objectives and limitations. Applying the right investment in the right circumstance at the right time is something that – as Walton would say – is satisfying in the result, but also in its application. Investing, like fishing, is a reward unto itself.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA