Bassin’ Blogosphere: TV Shows, Good or Bad for the Sport?
Nov 25th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Nov 25th, 2008 at 12:00 AM
It’s that time of the year again. Late fall, hunting season is in full swing and there is a lull in fishing activity. I reside in northern Illinois, so I’m stuck with the dreaded notion of slow fishing for the next few months. If it ices over we can drill holes, but that’s inconsistent in this area of the country. Sure, I could travel south to some of the powerplant lakes in Illinois and fish open water. I could also trek south and fish in Texas or Florida. I could also win the lotto and be able to buy a house on the moon. The reality is very few folks can afford to go on multiple fishing trips to far-away places each year. It’s not a prudent financial decision to make, at least not for me and my family.
So, what’s left for a fishing fanatic to do? Watch the plethora of new fishing shows. Come January, sporting men and women are inundated with a torrent of fishing shows. ESPN2, FSN, The Sportsman Channel, Versus, Outdoor Channel, etc., offer a constant drone of new fishing instruction well into the spring. That’s a good thing in most cases, but is it truly good for the sport of fishing?
I know the naysayers will chime in with the any-publicity-is-good-publicity for fishing argument, etc., etc. I’m not in total disagreement, but since the late 1980’s there has been an explosion of fishing shows to watch. During that same time period, there has been a marked decline in the number of folks fishing. Coincidence I’m sure, but it could be indicative of the times.
Instead of participating in the sport, folks just watch it. But, if so many folks were really watching these shows wouldn’t there be some positive impact from the viewership? Wouldn’t the viewers be inspired to get out and go fishing? It doesn’t appear to be working.
Back in the early 1980s when the options were slim the few fishing shows offered in northern Illinois consisted of whatever was on ESPN, the Fishing Hole comes to mind, and the seasonal syndicated program series of In-Fisherman. Those old In-Fish shows kicked butt. They rocked; they inspired and truly were a treat for me and thousands like me who loved fishing. The Fishing Hole was very cool as well, with exciting and accessible destinations and was well photographed, etc.
Back to the current reality, are the shows making fishing look boring, dull, something a bunch of old men do? Maybe. Although tournament programs like Bassmasters on ESPN2 are anything but boring. Some of the saltwater programs are very cool like the Professional Tarpon Tournament Trail or even Madfin Shark fishing. Even these programs may be a detriment to fishing in some regard. Some may view these flashy shows and feel they’ll never be able to participate since the contestants are using uber-expensive boats and gear. I’m not sure if the shows truly promote the joy that fishing can provide or the fact that by purchasing a fishing license you become an American who is truly making a difference in the conservation of your fisheries and the surrounding habitat. However, they do a terrific job of promoting the sponsor product, which is a good thing.
This time out, I don’t have a leaning one way or the other. I just know that without us anglers there would be no true conservation of the resources we love. Maybe, just maybe, the shows might want to start including that in their messaging and not treat it as an aside by running a PSA from some group when they have open commercial space. Let the folks know that we are truly the tip of the spear in the fight for the future of fishing.