Non-anglers who've read the paper in recent days might choose to stay off the water forever, given the bad news that has accompanied the pastime of late.

Zebra mussels, for instance, seem to get more press than walleyes. Ditto other invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and Asian carp.

And Mille Lacs has been front-page news since the mid-1990s, first as a hotbed of treaty rights disputes, and more recently as a fisheries conundrum so complex the Department of Natural Resources has contracted with an outside panel of experts to divine just what's going on in the big lake.

Unfortunately, an angling story less often told to the general public, except on this page and others like it, is just how compelling and, ultimately, challenging and satisfying fishing can be.

And is.

So much so that many people in this state, and throughout the world, define their lives by experiences they've had while fishing. And those they've yet to have.

Integral to these experiences are the family members and friends who've been a part of them, and who learn, in the process, not only about one another but about themselves.

Case in point: Few undertakings offer a kid as much self-satisfaction and build as much confidence as acquiring the skills to paddle a canoe, row a boat or, in time, to cast off from a dock at the tiller of a motorboat, a fishing rod at the ready.

Correspondingly, for parents, few of their children's accomplishments compare to those that signal that their offspring are comfortable in and on water, especially while fishing.

Its practitioners, after all, must be safety-conscious, knowledgeable about a wide range of equipment, comfortable working with their hands and, in the end, critical thinkers who must wade through a fog of nearly endless variables to figure out where fish are, and how to catch them.

Equally important — this takes time — is learning how to be comfortable when fish are not caught. Because some days, fish don't bite.

Learning to accept this contributes to a higher consciousness that becomes a key part of an experienced angler's worldview.

Do you fish? If not, don't let bad news keep you off the water. Buy a rod and reel, however cheap or expensive. Fish from shore, a dock or a boat.

Cast again and again.

Each is a step on a rewarding journey that never ends.