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4 Lessons for Fishing and Investing

Stocks in this article: CAB FB WEN

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A Labor Day weekend fishing trip was a reminder to me that there are a lot of similarities between fishing and investing -- and that lessons learned in fishing have application in investing.

My son and I set out early Saturday morning on an 85-foot party boat with the hope of catching enough fluke to provide dinner for six that evening. It was indeed a great day for fishing, and the fluke and flounder were abundant. That's certainly not always the case.

1. But while we caught about 25 fish -- plenty of action -- there were just two keepers in the lot.

Investment Lesson: You have to be selective about the names in your portfolio. In our case, the law prevented us from keeping more of the flatfish we caught; there is a minimum size of 17 1/2 inches. In my case, I can't own every available net/net, or stock that's trading below net current asset value, nor would I want to. They come in different shapes, different sizes and different qualities, just like fish.

2. Patience is necessary. Without it, no fish.

Investment Lesson: When it comes to investing, you need to allow ample time for your investment ideas to play out. You've done your homework and taken a position, and you often have to wait, especially when you are a value investor as I am.

In fishing for fluke, you need to wait for the flatties, which are resting on the bottom, to grab your hook. They are not as aggressive as bluefish, and you can't yank your line up every 30 seconds because you're frustrated that there have not been any hits. You've got to let it sit, at least for a while.

I've made plenty of mistakes selling names too early. Since we are using the fishing analogy, I made a huge mistake with Cabelas (CAB), taking a position when it seemed that few understood the potential value, and the stock was in the mid $5 range. It ran into the teens, and I wrote some covered calls, and had the stock taken away at $20. A nice gain, maybe, but Cabela's is now pushing $50.

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