As a rule, I find consumer outdoor shows a waste of my time and my money. From a business standpoint, all I end up doing is sitting in a booth for days on end, hoping to book enough trips to pay for the debacle. In short, I better serve my business interests by staying home and trying to get some trips out and make money rather than sitting in the city spending it.
And, while I can tell you the above is true, it is in fact only mostly true. Each year the Houston Fishing Show is held in early March, which happens to usually coincide with crappy weather which means, no matter how much I want to be on the water every day, chances are, I am going to have at least a day or two that I cannot fish. The long and short of it is - every year I usually make it out to the show at least one day to, if nothing else, spend time with friends that also work in the world of fishing.
Unfortunately, this year the weather ended up being unfavorable for fly-fishing for three of the four days of the show and, I had such a great time on the first day, I went back for a second. As usual, I got to hang out and talk fishing with a couple of my customers that I ran into and again, lots of my friends. What a great time!
Like every year, Fishing Tackle Unlimited had a strong presence by not only having an incredible display of top-quality equipment, but by having some great show specials for the consumer to take advantage of. In addition, they had Eric Kraimer from Simms there to help promote the brand that seems to be taking Texas by storm as well as several of the FTU pro-staff fishing guides to help answer questions about the latest and greatest tackle and to talk fishing with the masses.
As always, the Shimano booth was a buzz of activity as folks came by to check out the latest and greatest. For you inshore anglers, the new Sustain spinning reel is pretty damned awesome and for those of you who like heading to the blue-water…wait until you see the TranX low-profile level-wind. The ultimate for chunking topwaters offshore or for pitching live baits for blackfin or cobia under a shrimp boat. Wow, cannot wait to get my hands on both.
I also got spend some time with my friends from Waterloo Rods and as usual they had steady traffic and were moving some sticks. And, I of course got to spend some time with many members of the TSF Magazine Team which is always a blast.
All in and all done, it seemed to me like there was more traffic at this show than I had seen in the past few years and from a sales standpoint, I hear that it was a good show.
Anyway, I guess it is time to get to the point of where this is all going so here it is... It is a good thing to see the fishing business doing so well because it ultimately means good things for the fish that we all love so much.
As I mentioned in a piece I did last year, I do not like to think of fishing as a business as much as a lifestyle. However, after spending last week walking around the Houston Fishing Show, I came to a realization- fishing is, no matter how I want to look at it, a business. In fact, it is such a big business that none of us can afford to see it fail. That means manufacturers, retailers, guides and everyday anglers alike. Too much is at stake.
In regards to the business of fishing, I often walk a double edge sword. You see, in my opinion, our resources are being stretched to the limits by poor management and, from a social perspective, there are way too many people on the bay, almost to the point of not being fun some times.
As for the mismanagement of the resource, I will jump up on my soapbox only briefly to say- we are taking way too many fish. There is no reason any one angler needs to keep more than five fish a trip. And, I am not just talking five trout. Five fish- period! And, there is no reason any guide should be able to contribute to a customer's stringer- period! I have more thoughts on this but will save them for another time.
Another example of poor resource management is that it is ridiculous that we have to fight so hard to keep freshwater flowing to the bays. Who gives a rat's behind whether or not some rich dude has water for his swimming pool or if his manicured lawn dies because of drought? The bays need the water and in the beginning the bays got all the water!
Now let me shift gears and touch on one of the many social issues resulting from the number of people on the bay. Here is where my thoughts and opinions become conflicted. You see, nothing is more aggravating to me than to have another boat run into, over or through the area that I am fishing and I am quite certain that none of you do either. Even those of you who do it to others get quite hacked when someone does it to you. Unfortunately, I believe the day is coming where we will need to have someone out there directing traffic because, and I cannot believe I am going to say this... we need more people fishing in order to ultimately protect what we love.
This is a cold, hard, unfortunate truth that we, as anglers, must live with. Without bringing new people into the sport we love and cherish so dearly, we do not have the numbers of people necessary to fight for and protect the resource and for the right to fish from the extreme left-wing liberal tree huggers. Here are a couple of simple, but good examples…
The bays need fresh water to sustain life and remain healthy. If the golfers outnumber the fisherman (both commercial and recreational) then the freshwater gets diverted from the rivers to water the golf courses. Some might argue that there is an equitable way to divide the resource. I say B.S. to that! The bays and the life they support are far more important to the overall health of our economy and our nation. A golf ball will roll on dirt but redfish and trout cannot live without shrimp and baitfish and they cannot in turn survive without freshwater.
Or how about this one? In a nut-shell, our current administration has ordered the removal of all of the old, non-producing wells in the Gulf of Mexico. The cheapest way for companies to remove these platforms is to blast the legs with dynamite. The result, millions of fish that utilized these man-made, artificial reefs are being killed by the blast. Who has stepped up to condemn the killing and waste of the resource? Well it is not the PETA, tree hugging bastards; it was people like you and me who support conservation organizations like the CCA.
Now, I will be honest with you, the above writing is not well organized, meaning that it is more random thoughts loosely put together to get to this simple conclusion- The resource needs conservation efforts which in turn needs both new people (votes) and the fishing industry (finance). The fishing industry needs new people in order to thrive and grow so they can help support conservation efforts. The new people coming into the sport need fish to catch so that they will fall in love with the sport and spend money with business that support conservation and at conservation fundraising events. In order for there to be fish, there needs to be a healthy ecosystem and good management.
At this point I hope you recognize the pattern and how it all comes full circle- While I do hate the fact that fishing has become big business, I do realize it is a necessary evil.
Be good and stuff like that…