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senile1

Public Perception of Fishing

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I am sometimes perplexed at people's perceptions of anglers that I encounter on a daily basis.  I work as a network engineer implementing, configuring and installing enterprise Cisco data and voice over IP networks.  All of my colleagues tend to be younger than me.  Because of this I tend to get a lot of jokes thrown my way because I am older, hence my screen name, senile1.  I love to play along but when they start making jokes about my fishing I begin to wonder if they aren't revealing their actual perception of anglers.  The general perception seems to be that fishing is easy, boring, and requires little knowledge.  When I tell them about sonar, GPS, and using different rods and reels for different techniques, they indicate that they can't understand how the fish has a chance against such an onslaught of technology.  I've compared fishing to golfing and the use of different clubs for different techniques. I've told them that generally 10 percent of the water holds 90 percent of the fish and that finding the fish is most of the battle but they just don't seem to understand.   I can live with the toothless hillbilly jokes (BTW, I have all of my teeth) but when it comes down to it some of the other things they say truly reveal their attitudes toward fishing.  These are intelligent people who consider themselves to be open-minded and tolerant.  It seems that when it comes to anglers they are just as capable of bias and stereotyping as anyone.

So do the rest of you ever encounter such ignorance of fishing?  This doesn't ruin my day or anything, but what concerns me is the more the general population loses an understanding of outdoor activities such as fishing, the greater the possibility of losing some of our fishing privileges further down the road.  

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I know what your saying - Alot of my buddys give me crap about fishin but they just dont understand what its like - I refer to it like hunting but with fish and no kill.

The jokes though are somewhat funny I usualy laugh at them but remind them its not all that true.

One buddy of mine changed his mind after catching a 4lb bass when i forced him to spend an hour fishing. He ended up spending the rest of the day trying to catch a bigger one.

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What bugs me is how nonfishermen always assume that we're all out there drinking beer while we fish!

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What bugs me is how nonfishermen always assume that we're all out there drinking beer while we fish!

Huh?

::)

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Ya, I heave heard the crap about why do I need that whole box of stuff and why do I need 4-8 rods to fish with.This is coming from people who have never fished in their life.There is no way for them to comprehend the fact that I am not just tossing a line in the water and taking a nap while waiting for something to nibble.

I do what I do because thats what I like to do and it just goes back to the original fact that whenever your having fun doing something you like there will always be someone to tell you you can't or that there is basically something wrong with you because they don't do that.

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I get crap all the time, they ask why I spend so much on fishing stuff and I explain the golf club theory. They continue to say how it is boring and a waste of time. One of my friends is always asking why I spend so much on fishing, I say its my hobby its what I do and he say all that you need is a rod a reel and some worms, I just laugh. Then you look into his room and see over $1000 in video gaming equipment? ie Xbox360 lcd tv, 15+ games. And I ask why do you spend so much on video games, and he says cause they're fun. Hmmm a video game system will last ~5 years before a newer, better one comes out, in which he'll go buy it. My fishing arsenal will last a lifetime. Hmmm seems like fishing is a better investment.

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I live in kansas, so i have yet to run into anyone who has questioned fishing. "i dont like fishing" "fishing is boring" is about all you get.

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People do this type of stuff all the time. People just don't understand. Different people will perceive things differently. For instance:

-People that are into Car customizing, some people just don't get it.

-People that drink $7 dollar coffees 7 days a week, some people just don't get it.

-Antique Collectors that spend thousands of dollars on an ugly old table, SOME PEOPLE JUST DONT GET IT.

Everyone is guilty of criticizing someone else for Spending Money/ Time/ Effort on a interest that they them self  just don't understand.

:D

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I work in an office with a pretty good mix of people.  When someone asks me about fishing, I talk about how cool it is to be on the water when the sun comes up. I mention drinking beer at 7am and telling jokes with my buddies. I might even show off some pictures of recent catches.  I've never felt pressured to defend my love of fishing.  

I don't mention sonar, or GPS, or the cost of the equipment because they wouldn't care, or understand.  And frankly, it can be a little intimidating. If someone seems interested, I'll invite them to come along.

Deep down I think most guys think of themselves as fishermen, even if they haven't fished since they were kids. Sometimes an invitation is all it takes to rekindle that fire.

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I work in an office with a pretty good mix of people. When someone asks me about fishing, I talk about how cool it is to be on the water when the sun comes up. I mention drinking beer at 7am and telling jokes with my buddies. I might even show off some pictures of recent catches. I've never felt pressured to defend my love of fishing.

I don't mention sonar, or GPS, or the cost of the equipment because they wouldn't care, or understand. And frankly, it can be a little intimidating. If someone seems interested, I'll invite them to come along.

Deep down I think most guys think of themselves as fishermen, even if they haven't fished since they were kids. Sometimes an invitation is all it takes to rekindle that fire.

I don't normally mention GPS or sonar either but you have to understand. These are technical people. We configure and troubleshoot servers, routers, switches, firewalls, etc all day. I thought that the technological aspects of fishing might grab their attention. It still can't compete with World of Warcraft for them. ;)

This brings up another idea that I thought about.  Daniel lives in a more rural area while I live in a metro area.  I think that people in smaller towns and rural areas may tend to be more exposed to fishing than some people would be in metro areas so I wonder if this type of perception is more prevalent in larger cities.  

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Strangely enough, I have found the complete opposite!  I am amazed how many people ask me to take them fishing in my boat.  People that I never would have imagined had any interest in fishing.  I still haven't been able to take everyone that has asked.  The ones that have gone always want to go again.

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Most I encounter think of it as hook and worm, sit on the bank, drink beer and see what happens by.  I will admit there was a time when this was what I did. Did more drinking than fishing and realized what a danger I was on the road home. Then....I found Bassresource.  Now, It's hell to sit and stare at a propped up rod and sip beer...Boooring!  Can't catch a PB "larry" like this.  

Now folks think I'm crazy when I show off my arsenal of equipment or even talk about it. Fact is, I drink less alcohol and have a healthy hobby.  Its all good 8-)

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So do the rest of you ever encounter such ignorance of fishing?

Nope, I don 't mix with mere mortals.

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Around here, I do not get the perception you mentioned. Most guys LOVE ot fish but have not been out in 10+ years. They are just too busy in everyday life. Which confuses me, cause I have 4 young kids, a wife, and a normally more than full time job.

I do get a total rush out of instilling a healthy fishing addiction in others.

Also, while i do enjoy an occasional beer, I have not held a fishing rod with any alcohol in my system for more than a decade. Nobody I fish with does either. Just to much going on with the fishing. AFTER a long day fishing, that is another story.

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People's perceptions and relationships with nature really interest me. A chunk of my educational background is in natural resources management, and I've been involved professionally and privately for a lot of my adult life.

I always thought anglers were an important bridge and spent a bunch of years developing and running angling education programs. I've also traveled some and always with an eye and mind for how different cultures relate to nature.

In short, the world is modernizing (and becoming way more expensive to participate in) and values have shifted away from an interest and understanding of natural processes.

It's become a common perception, and prejudice, amongst urbanizing (modernizing) cultures that things perceived as less "modern" are somehow less "sophisticated" and therefore banal. And it's sweeping the world of course. I've seen it in slightly different forms in SE Asia (China in particular), Native American communities (do I follow The Way, or a Waypoint??), in Europeans, and certainly in our own culture.

In our culture, and related European cultures, I see this prejudice as a stupid assumption, and in some cases it's just plain bigotry -especially around consumptive uses like fishing and hunting, where the inexperienced and detached confuse their own emotions with reality. But is reality human culturally based, or nature based? These have separated it appears, a process that began long ago.

It's apparent to me more and more that people need other people more than they need "nature" in their lives. When the social norm has no experience with something, that something will fall beyond understanding.

To me, a nature lover, that's darn scary. Most of my traipsing grounds I enjoyed when I was young are long paved over, and being coursed by mini-vans full of Gameboys. There are kids that can look at a deer for the first time and actually shrug and go back to their toy. What kind of advocacy for nature are we developing, or maintaining?

We are generations late in many cases. Adults have grown up in this and too often this is what their nature study looks like:

I recently went to an in-field seminar for teachers on accessing public land for nature study. The leader had everyone stay on the path (never go off-trail she advised). She gave a beaver ecology lesson that avoided actually visiting the beaver pond on the property (to avoid disturbing the beavers). She told us that there were lots of interesting creatures under a rotted piece of bark she pointed to, but couldn't turn over because, it was akin to ripping the roof off of your own home. We left having never had an actual real experience with nature, with the firm message that it simply wasn't accessible to us.

If I brought a class of kids to that place with those constraints and message, they'd need to be medicated. And those kids simply won't become advocates of something that isn't theirs. They're more likely to become the people you work with, who make jokes about how backward you are.

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They are just too busy in everyday life. Which confuses me, cause I have 4 young kids, a wife, and a normally more than full time job.

That may be stress related -not feeling they have time to "throw away".

I am amazed how many people ask me to take them fishing in my boat.  People that I never would have imagined had any interest in fishing.

Yeah, that's been my general experience too. But fishing is not easy to learn, takes time, and if it doesn't come by osmosis -through a family member -it often just doesn't happen.

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Sounds like a bunch of young elitists.

Acting as if they are superior to others.

And the truth be told, they could not catch a cold, never less a bass.

I have relatives like the guys in your office.

They think I am nuts since I fish, love college and pro football and go to and watch NASCAR.

A fun event for them is tennis (boring) or sitting home watching PBS.

They would not know a good time if it bite them on their donkey.

So ole Senile1, don't fret.  Just sit back and laugh at them for one day they will grow up and start to fish and watch NASCAR and maybe one day, have a life.  ;)

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Senile,

  You get that reaction from alot of people who aren't die hard outdoorsmen.

   "Birds of a feather, flock together"  

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Wow. We're getting some great replies here!

Paul Roberts, that's an excellent post. I think that covers a lot of what I was thinking and then some. Your communication skills are definitely a notch or two above mine. :)

Sam, my thoughts exactly! I like these guys but sometimes I think they may be just a bit smug.

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Thanks Lucid, you hit me where I live.

On the positive side, less interest, mean less folks on the lakes which is good.

True! I enjoy that too. And I do have to be careful what info I share with whom.

But our population is so large (doubling rate breaking 30 years now) that the pressure is relative. I suppose it's possible to over-fish and lose relative advocacy!

There's an interesting issue brewing within resource management circles that was brought to my attention via a National Parks administrator. They are concerned that the advocacy for parks (and arguably other "natural" lands) is primarily maintained by suburban middle to upper income white folks. As segments of our population grows, notably urban and Latino popns (growing fastest), there is concern about advocacy -whether it will be maintained in the future. There is a growing interest in introducing people other than "white suburbanites" to participate in nature.

In my experience, NOTHING beats fishing for building advocacy and future stewardship. I always told the academics and "bean counters" involved in nature advocacy programming: "If I advertise ecology lessons, I get the home school kids and professor's kids -and essentially preaching to the converted. If I advertise fishing, i get everyone." And it's entirely true.

Angler's are an enormously valuable bridge to what I believe is a healthy understanding and relationship with the natural world.

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Down here in South Florida, I have never encountered negativity towards fishing. I fish in downtown Palm Beach on the ICW (huge Jacks there 30+) quite often. There is a walkway that covers several miles skirting the water's edge and scores of people walking and biking are there every single morning. Many people stop and ask me about the fishing, what am I catching, how are they hitting etc, all friendly positive experiences, I just love going there and this is an extremely upscale area, one might think the interaction would be adverse.

That said, DON'T COME TO FLORIDA, WE HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE HERE ALREADY!!!!!!!

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I have seen firsthand the curious and sometimes negative reactions to fishing in my office where there is a wide variety of ages, cultures and backgrounds. Modern technology has a stranglehold on most young people and the outdoors does not compete for their interest in many cases. I fish at a city park that is right in the middle of a highl-tech college based area... and get the funniest looks when I'm carrying 8 rods down to the lake. Usually I'll see funny looks and hear a comment like "there goes a serious fisherman"..and they are right. ;) At work I don't talk about it unless asked directly to stay "PC". I firmly believe we will see a continued decline in hunting and fishing in our lifetimes that may lead to new laws and unwelcome changes in the way we can enjoy the outdoors.

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I don't remember the last time someone put me down for fishing, and I live in one of the most urbanized sections of the countrythe Northeastand work at an Ivy League school.

Stereotyping has been around since humans first formed groups, and it's going to be around forever. It cuts both ways: we do it to the "elitists" and professors about whom we don't know squat, and they do it to anglers and hunters. This is not a good thing. I am as comfortable around professors as I am around outdoorsmen because I've always believed it's important to move in different worlds, to get to know people who are different from you and to try to understand how they got that way. Talk to someone about his (or her) passion, no matter what it is, and you get a lot closer to learning what makes that person tickand you might even learn something about yourself. People who surround themselves with people who are just like them are missing out on a lot.

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Stereotyping has been around since humans first formed groups, and it's going to be around forever. It cuts both ways: we do it to the "elitists" and professors about whom we don't know squat, and they do it to anglers and hunters. This is not a good thing. I am as comfortable around professors as I am around outdoorsmen because I've always believed it's important to move in different worlds, to get to know people who are different from you and to try to understand how they got that way. Talk to someone about his (or her) passion, no matter what it is, and you get a lot closer to learning what makes that person tickand you might even learn something about yourself. People who surround themselves with people who are just like them are missing out on a lot.

Very well put. We all make a lot of assumptions.

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