I’ll admit off the bat that this is a bit of a negative blog, although hopefully not overly so. I think one of the effects of our current social-media driven online atmosphere is the increasing pressure we all feel to be positive and optimistic all the time. After all, when we log on any social media we see beautiful scenery, restaurant settings, wedding photos and smiling babies… everyone, everywhere is seemingly in a state of constant bliss.
But I’ll buck that trend for a moment and air one grievance that perhaps you’ll share, and if you don’t, well, hey… that’s fine too.
I see a lot of content, in this industry especially, about the “intensity,” of our sport… how “difficult and grueling and hardcore” certain aspects of fishing can be. And, to be fair… I get the point. I have fished in places, whether it’s the crashing surf in Montauk where I was washed off a rock and pounded onto the beach, or frozen rivers in Montana where I couldn’t feel my face… where there are certainly physical challenges that come with enjoying the sport.
But… it’s a sport that… we’re enjoying. I chose to undertake those experiences and I’d do it again because… it’s not that bad. It’s a sport we’re choosing to participate in. I can’t help but think, every time I read about a grueling or “hardcore” outdoor experience… of some people from my own life.
A friend of mine, Jake Jonza, signed up to enlist in the Army after he saw the towers fall on 9/11 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division. My father (a former Army sergeant), after being diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma, battled for two years after a prognosis of a six-month life expectancy, fighting the disease with drugs that had the type of effect on his body that I’ll spare you the details of. My cousin, Joe Critelli, sustained a serious leg injury while working in a manufacturing plant near our home in Upstate New York that he’s still recovering from. My Uncle Don Healey is a prison guard back home. The funny thing about these guys is that I never hear from them about how “hardcore,” or “badass” their jobs are… they just do them because they need to get done.
These guys, each of them, are “badass” in every sense of the word, except they’d never tell you that. I’d never in a million years suggest anyone threaten their family or loved ones unless they had their affairs in order, but barring that kind of situation, they’re humble, quiet, kind guys who do the things they need to to make time for the things that they love.
My point is simply this: Fishing is not, for the most part, a dangerous, health-risking, life-or-death business, nor should it be considered one. We’re out there because it’s a beautiful way to enjoy some of the most amazing places in this country.
So if we’re reaching for words or expressions to describe our favorite sport, let’s keep some sacred for those people who truly are risking something, battling something, or sacrificing something, and remember why we’re doing it in the first place: We love it.