Caught Ovgard: 'Choose Your Character'
When it comes to fishing, there are stereotypes that are very real. Make a mental tally next time you go fishing, and odds are, most everyone around you will fit into one of the categories below. Which one do you choose?
You know this guy. He likes to fish, but he also likes to hunt and watch sports and drink beer. He just wants a break. The fish don't have to be biting — although it's a plus — and he'll sit in his chair and bait fish while he empties the beer out of his cooler. He likely won't refill it with many fish.
That said, he will keep every fish he catches and make some comment about how "good eating" it is. He likely will camp in one easily accessible spot where he's caught fish before, making no effort to find the fish if "his spot" doesn't produce.
Fishing for him is equal parts relaxation and socialization, so he rarely goes alone.
He will always have the logo of his favorite team somewhere on his body, with cargo shorts in the summer and jeans in colder weather. He will always, always have a baseball cap.
The Parent of the Year
You hear this person before you see him or her, yelling obscenities at two or more children. Expect a cigarette or a dip in his or her mouth 90% of the time, with a shirt bearing the logo of an energy drink, a favorite beer or rock band.
They will ruin your favorite spot almost instantly, parking their car or RV right next to the water, blaring the music and exchanging a series of profanities with their children that would make Lil Wayne blush.
You will feel bad for his/her kids and try to let one of the kids reel in a fish, only to have the Parent of the Year spew profanity at you for interfering with his/her "family time," reminding you that no good deed goes unpunished.
Usually this person will be a fly fisherman, but bass purists are increasingly common.
Their gear is top of the line, and they cringe if you have anything less than the very best waders, wading boots, fly rod, reel, line and a host of largely unnecessary accessories that will adorn them as they parade around pretentiously.
Fishing, for them, is not really about the love of fishing; it's about prestige, sociability and/or discipline. They refuse to fish for anything other than the species they're targeting (usually trout, bass or salmon) — even if a fishable population of their target species doesn't exist or another species is biting like crazy.
You'll often outfish them with your everyman's gear, but they'll downplay your success, arguing that "anyone can catch fish with terminal tackle or lures."
As such, they completely disregard you as not only a fisherman, but as a person, and will come right up to the hole you're fishing and anchor or stand in the middle of your casting radius.
If, by some abhorrent permutation of the mind, you elect to keep a fish, you will get a high-handed and indirect lecture about catch and release where they tell you how much they hate "those people" who don't appreciate the resource, but no offense to you.
The Rule Breaker
At the opposite end of the infuriating spectrum from the Purist lies the Rule Breaker.
Parking in boat ramps with an uninsured vehicle, littering and throwing beer cans on the ground, and completely disregarding any and all fishing regulations are the specialty of this so-called angler, who often says something to the effect of: "I know you're only supposed to keep one fish, but I been fishing this creek/river/lake for 20 years, and taking three or four fish ain't gonna hurt nobody."
The Rule Breaker can be identified from a distance by a Confederate flag or bumper stickers not suitable for print.
While their violations range in severity, confronting them usually doesn't stop the behavior. These people ruin the sport for those around them and don't deserve to get away with it.
They are poachers. Don't allow poachers to get away with their crimes. Yes, crimes. Instead, call the Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) Program (Oregon) to report their violations at 800-452-7888.
The Salty Old Man
The title says it all. He belongs on a turn-of-the-century sailboat, plumbing the depths of the ocean with hand-sewn fishing nets, braving gale-force winds as ice begins to form on his thick salt-and-pepper beard.
The nebulous nature of his silent bravado paired with timeless features and a Hemingway-esque vibe make his age impossible to pin down beyond a range: somewhere between 40 and 70.
The Gorton's fisherman was modeled after this man.
He is quiet and calculating, but when he talks, he shows glimmers of the Most Interesting Man in the World.
The Purist writes him off. The Parent of the Year makes overtly offensive comments about him to his or her children like "Leave that filthy old man alone." The Weekender, however, may bond with him briefly.
It is this man who has the best stories, knows what the fish are biting on, and, if you can prove to him your worth, just might share that information with you.
These characters exist, sure, but fishing is a sport that any man, woman or child can enjoy. So either pick one of the presets or make your own way. Regardless, you'll have to choose your character.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.