Our Resilient Fishermen and Fishing Industry

Everett Johnson
I was on my way to the West Houston CCA Crawfish Boil last week. Driving up US-59 I noted the number of boats on the highway. Stopping for fuel I chanced upon three guys returning from Port Isabel, raccoon eyes and fishing clothes are a sure giveaway. It turns out they had enjoyed an outstanding trip, so good in fact, they stayed two days longer than planned.

When the subject of fishing pressure came up, they reported a surprising number of anglers on the water. One guy quipped, "They can only hold us down so long. We live for fishing and we just had to go, and we were not alone." His smile broadened as he whipped out his digital camera, "And we caught some really nice fishlook at these!"

Resuming my drive I pondered their tales until the phone rang. An advertiser friend wanted to tell me about the new products he would be introducing soon. "You know, we're in a down economy but I think bold moves can payoff right now. We're having a much better year than we expected."

He went on to relate how a few years ago he ran his business on the side. He and his wife built and shipped everything until they could not keep up. They added part time help until he took the plunge to leave his job and concentrate on the business. Last year they built a shop and warehouse and moved the business out of their home. They just recently added another fulltime employee.

Entering the Houston Farm and Ranch Club grounds I met a guy who wanted to tell me that he too had made the plunge to open a fishing related business. He had a dream and was ready to make it come to life.

The general attitude of the banquet crowd was anything but economic doom and gloom. If you didn't know better you would have sworn it was 2007 all over again. Live auction bidding was brisk as the 650 seat event raised some real money.

Tackle and boat sales are beginning to climb. Several of our friends are reporting decent numbers, and again we are hearing, "better than expected."

So, to what should we attribute these local economic phenomena? Well, the national economic news is still pretty stale. Two of the Big Three automakers aren't doing worth a flip and it seems the banking/lending industries are still reeling. Despite all that, and hubris aside, Texans have more than a few reasons to be proud.

The Texas economy is stronger right now than most other states and regions. Add to that, generally strong self-reliance, rugged individualism, and a ton of work ethic. Now top it off with some of the world's richest marine resources, year 'round fisheries, and diehard anglers. Sprinkle with a bunch of canny entrepreneurs who don't know quit, and that's our fishing industry.

Back to that CCA banquet. Being that it fell within our magazine production schedule, the part we call Hell Week, I was a tad apprehensive about leaving the office. But you know what? I'm really glad I went. Being among so many dedicated conservationists and serious saltwater anglers, many of them small business owners, gave me renewed faith in who we are and the passion we all hold for our pastime.

Here's wishing all our readers a swift economic recovery and a great summer fishing season. The kids will be out of school soon and this is the season for making fishing memories. June 21 is Father's Day. Don't forget to take your dad fishing.