If you’re an angler, I bet you’ve had very similar experiences to mine when the topic of fishing comes up with someone you don’t know very well.
It’s interesting how many types of responses I get. It’s sort of like giving a Rorschach. You know, the test where you hold up a picture with a weird design or shape and ask the person what they see. Same stimulus, but very different reactions!
The most common response I get is, “ Oh you fish! Well, I’m just not that patient and I can’t stand worms,” trying to be nice. Worms, really? My initial thought is that they must have been beaten as a child and had to fish as punishment! Ha! Yes, most are trying to be diplomatic and polite, but I can see that they are concerned I’m some kind of latent fanatic who might try to make them go fishing as penance! Where did they get that? As we talk I also can discern that they are usually as firmly entrenched in resisting being converted to fishing as most folks are to changing political parties!
For some reason, they are very suspicious they might catch the crazy disease they are sure I have, even if I am not trying to spread it! I’ve ended a lot of these funny conversations with the assurance that, “We’ve already got enough anglers, and we don’t need any more – so I don’t want you to fish, OK!” They usually stop hyperventilating and even laugh at this point. Funny reaction, but common.
The second most common retort is, “My Dad and my family used to fish when I was a kid – and I loved it – but I don’t have time now.” My first response to these folks is, “So for you, what was so special about fishing with your family?” They often say that they wished they had done more of it and loved the outdoors and it was special … BUT they just can’t make the time anymore. They just told me about the weeklong cruise they took, and heaven help you if you mention that maybe they ought to plan a trip for a few hours – and do what they were so emotionally talking about earlier! “Not now. Maybe someday,” they say. I find that trying to encourage these folks can get you in trouble, so I’ve stopped.
My biggest mistake has been when I unknowingly get into a conversation with someone who’s not just a fanatical angler, but also out to convince anyone who will listen that he’s the best fisherman on the planet. I’ve learned it’s a warning when someone tells me there’s a fishing guy who really wants to talk to me. Many times it means that you’ll not only see all the pictures, but get the full rendition of all the stories, too – as starters! That’s OK, but it’s getting the guy who deliberately tops your catches that is the kicker.
Undeterred, this kind of angler also will occasionally mistakenly “grow” the fish, if necessary, to win the issue. Out to make their point, it’s a giveaway when they ask how big your fish was first so that they can selectively trot out something bigger. If that fails, they’ll pivot and use their buddy’s fish! Ouch! No ego’s here! You’ve walked into this one standing up and you’re exactly the unwitting victim this guy’s been waiting for! The best way to get away is to say, “Hey, we need to go fishing sometime!” as you shake his hand. This makes him feel like he achieved his goal: respect! My guess is that this must be the same guy my first two categories of folks had talked to before I did. No wonder!
Yeah, I have a lot of funny conversations with folks who believe they have our sport pegged, and who think we’re all crazy! I’ve also found, truth be known, these same folks almost always will quietly concede that they wished they had gone fishing more! I feel blessed I have. I rest my case. Never give up!