You should have seen me beam a broad grin when the light bulb went on! I felt like we have arrived at the peak of professionalism, even as recreational anglers.
I was having a conversation in my tackle shop with a group of professionals who are avid fishermen. We talked about how most of us have to be skilled and proficient at what we do, whereas doctors and attorneys “practice medicine” and “practice law.” (With apologies to doctors and attorneys. I know you folks are held to very high standards. I’m just poking fun here.)
Whether an individual is a professional fisher (for example, I run a charter boat, WaveWalker, so I’m a professional fisher) or a recreational fisher, guess what? We “practice fishing”! That made me feel great!
Here’s the reasoning (though you may not need any reasoning). There is no set of codes that dictates how rods, reels and terminal tackle are to be set up, nor how lures and baits should be presented. Electricians, plumbers and others have strict codes to follow when putting things together. Programmers have languages and syntax to adhere to, which take them out of the realm of “practicing” and into the realm of “adhering.” As fishers, we make this stuff up on the fly (no pun intended for you fly fishers), and we enjoy sharing with others what strange combinations we find effective and under what conditions.
Thinking outside the box helps us find ways to fish. And get this: What worked well today may not be effective next week or even tomorrow, so we must continually practice the art of fishing. See? Now I’ve even thrown the word “art” into it. This is fun!
Fisherfolk certainly do have a plethora of regulations to follow, and at times it seems necessary to have a “practicing attorney” aboard to help us stay on the right side of the law. But fisheries management exists to help us be “practicing environmentalists” and make sure we have healthy habitat and robust populations of fish and other critters for the future.
I support tried and true fisheries management, even though it creates a complex set of regulations to try to understand. It is only Marine Protected Areas (closed fishing areas where grant seekers make their money and because of which fishers can no longer catch a fresh fish dinner) that I have problems with. The real powerhouse of fishing regulations here is the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The next time I attend one of its meetings, maybe I’ll ask, “Hey, are you folks ‘practicing’ fisheries management?”
Like I said, this is too much fun, but I do very much enjoy how much thought and creativity go into fishing.
For example, some years ago on my charter boat, I assembled something for catching lingcod. It proved so effective that to this day it is the best lingcod lure I’ve ever seen. Now that I have a fishing tackle shop, we assemble these and sell them under the name Lingslayer. Every time I put one together, I remember the day I had a brainstorm and put the first one together. It makes me smile.
So whatever you are working at, give some thought to how you can “practice” what you do.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.