Has this whole thing become just a little overly serious? It’s hard to imagine, but I continue seeing far too many anglers on the river who can barely be distracted to acknowledge a fellow angler, focused on the serious task at hand, or treating others like competition. Those who give the look of suspicion, as if you’re thieving something from them as you walk past on the bank. Too much elitism. Too much internal divisiveness. Too many petty Internet chat board battles. Too many people who have confused gear with what’s really important. Too many who’ve become focused on the importance of “industry” over actual fishing. Too many bitter guides bitching about their source of income (otherwise known as clients). Worse, too many guides who think they’re hot shit, instead of a humble steward of the river. And with increasing frequency, marketing that depicts stern, brow-knit men going about the very serious business of fishing (apparently, that is what it has become for them). Don’t even get me started on your average steelheader.
No matter where you do it, or how you go about it, let’s try to keep it in perspective and remember that it’s just fishing. Please, let’s make sure that FUN continues to be firmly at the very heart of it, because ultimately, unless you’re in a survival situation, what other valid reason for fishing is there? If you aren’t fishing for the simple, stupid, kid-like fun of it, then somehow it’s become about egos and that’s never a good thing. Fun might be the antithesis of serious, but that doesn’t mean it’s at all trivial.
There’s enough gravity in the world, let’s keep it out of fishing. Let’s save and harness that constructive anger, and instead unleash it on the soul-sucking bastards who seek to destroy fun. Rather than getting pissed at someone who fishes in a different way than you do, or who is seen as “competing” for space on the river, how about getting pissed at the sub-human fools sacrificing healthy rivers, or tracts of headwater wilderness, or a coastline for short-term, self-serving greed? Save your seriousness for defending your essential right to pursue things which aren’t. Without the ability to escape from seriousness, we risk succumbing to a joyless enterprise.
And so my resolution for 2011? Make sure that fishing is fun again, every time I’m out, and to save my wrath for anyone who might try to rob me of this. Join me—let’s put aside the peripheral bullshit and make sure fun, camaraderie, and a united front against threats to our resources top the list. What have we got to lose? The more I think about it, the answer just might be “everything.”