ABOUT OUTDOORS: Thoughts on why some of us fish

What does the future look like for the tackle industry, fishing guides and resorts? Wheel houses are the new cabin and GPS the new guides.

Each spring, I find myself slipping into the memories of how and why I fished as a kid – a time loaded with many happy memories.

Sleepless nights were frequent during the days and weeks leading up to a particular fishing outing. In essence, a period in my life is characterized by plenty of time and a habit supported with meager proceeds from a paper route.

In my spare time, I frequented areas where others more experienced than me gathered. I listened intently to anglers as they shared in-depth how and why they caught fish. Like a sponge, I was soaking up any tidbits of information I could garner and use.

I affectionately remember the time we had to make our lures and the aging fishing line, the thread that had to last one more season. One rod had to be sufficient for all species of fish we went after and had to land bluegill equally as well as a northern pike or walleyes. We made frequent trips to the store to touch and feel – and always dream of the time when we could afford it.

My motives for fishing were different back then. Having fun was in the equation all the time. Of course, catching a meal of fish and learning how to fix them better was always a goal. As students of the sport, a course study included trying new techniques and exploring new spots. My fishing partners shared my same passion for the game. To those of us, getting out on the water seemed “life or death.” For those of us, it was.


The reasons and desires to go fishing changed every year. An appeal to show others grew into a time to compete against others. Vacation plans included competitive tournaments and practice days. The drive and passion for becoming a better fisherman intensified. Determining unique and out-of-the-ordinary ways to catch fish drove us to fish more.

When we age, our intentions for fishing change. Today, my motivations are different and range widely. Being on the water is more about relaxing, getting away from the stresses of life. If a fishing outing looks to be too intense, I just won’t go.

Now I feel a need to hand down the sport to those who don’t currently fish, introducing kids to all of the nuances and aspects of fishing excursions – finding bait, making lures, planning lunch, anticipating the experience.

With pangs of excitement, heralded by open water on the lakes and rivers, we went no matter what the conditions. Today, more of us older anglers are staying home, looking toward a better time.

Fortunately, organizations like the American Sportfishing Association are surveying anglers to determine their different motives for fishing. Involved in the effort are the multiple fishing manufactures and outdoor media companies. The results would assess the internal desires that drive us to fish versus free time spent in other outdoor activities. The surveys will determine the species we like to fish, methods employed to catch them and the gear preferred. Survey outcomes will be available at the end of the year.

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