Respectful Representation: Public Perception of Anglers – Salmon Trout Steelheader (April 2015 issue)
From littering on the river, to overindulging in alcohol, to carrying on with foul language in front of children, or anyone, is something all of us should be cognizant of. As anglers, and as people, we only have one chance to make a good first impression on others.
Case in point. During this past sportshow season my booth was next to that of a company in the fishing industry. By afternoon each day, all the representatives in that booth were so intoxicated, it was embarrassing. Women and children walked by all day long, hearing some of the most vulgar language imaginable. My two sons, ages 12 & 14, worked in my booth, and for five days they heard grotesque language and witnessed excessive amounts of alcohol consumed. It was revolting, uncalled for and offended many people walking by. When a potential customer was looking to make a big purchase, his wife yanked him away, saying he’d never own anything made by this company. He agreed and they quickly left the booth with their three young boys. Is that really the message industry professionals want to send to the public? Our goal is to encourage anglers to experience why fishing is so special, not repel them.
At another show a seminar speaker was so intoxicated, he struggled through his presentation. Many people left, some came and complained to me.
More than once I’ve been on a river and seen guides so intoxicated, they literally could not row downstream; their clients were not happy. I’ve also seen guides, and fellow anglers, intentionally tie-up holes for extended stretches, so no one would anchor by them, allowing them to eventually fish more water. Inevitably, verbal battles ensued and quickly a fun day on the river escalated into one full of tension for everyone within earshot.
What anglers do at home is their business, but when in the public eye, and on public waters, people need to be aware of how they’re representing all anglers. We must all be aware of messages being sent to anglers and non-anglers. After all, we’re all on the same team, fishing because we have the privilege and freedom to do so. Fishing isn’t a competition, it’s a rite of passage that’s supposed to be positive and enjoyable for everyone.
In today’s world of social media, where thoughts can instantaneously be shared, anglers must be in touch with what’s being said. Know that men, women, children and even non-anglers, read what’s written. Take this as an opportunity to make a positive impression, not to offend others and lose potential anglers.
With sportfishing license sales in a steady decline in recent years, we need more anglers, not fewer. It’s up to all of us anglers to represent fishing on a level that encourages others to see how fortunate we are to be able to fish rivers and lakes throughout North America, and make them want to experience it. Life is short, and enjoying our time on the water is a blessing, not a hardship.
Note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book, 300 Tips To More Salmon & Steelhead, send a check for $30.00 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or visit www.scotthaugen.com.