Saturday, February 21, 2015

No Country For Old Men

If you are familiar with the epic Coen Brothers movie starring Tommy Lee Jones you will understand what I am trying to say.
Jones' character Sheriff Ed Tom Bell said this at the beginning of the movie.
"I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure"
The evolution of modern Pacific Northwest sports fishing is something I don't fully understand anymore. Oh I get that modern tackle and techniques have progressed and made anglers more successful than in the past but it's the attitudes that puzzle me.
When I first got into the angling game here in Oregon way back in 1973 there were a hell of a lot of people on the rivers....banks full of people. The use of drift boats had not yet taken hold like it has today and so most of us were "bank maggots"  We all made room though and for the most part respected the other guy and his fishing.
The term "courtesy" has become an archaic notion anymore. Boaters running their gear through the actual water you are fishing is commonplace with professional guides being among the worst offenders. Being low holed by another bank fisherman is apparently no big deal anymore either. Bait containers and discarded fishing line litter the shoreline of our once pristine rivers. Why do you think this behavior has become so common place?
Why does every damn fish caught and landed have to be held up for a hero shot? Doesn't matter how dark the fish is either. That is the stuff I did when I was first starting out fishing. Catch a dark salmon or steelhead these days and that night you can bet that the spawned old boot will show up, either on Facebook or some mega fishing web site.
Have we as a culture become so oblivious to others that boorish behavior is just winked at?
I blame the internet for much of this. Anglers so intent in being better and catching more and bigger fish have driven us to the point that recreational angling is no longer's a blood sport.
Pointing firearms at some fisherman you feel has offended you or gotten into your "space" is not that unusual anymore. Do we really have the need to have to enjoy the outdoors armed? In my opinion yes absolutely we do. Whether it's an aggressive and intoxicated fishing guide coming up the bank after you because you had the audacity to call out their bad behavior. How about the tweeker breaking into you vehicle? One feels the need to protect themselves.
I have long ago abandoned fishing spots I once enjoyed because they have become uncomfortable to fish and even dangerous. Anyone ever hear of the guard rail hole in Pacific City? How about the boat ramp in the same area?Is it really worth it to fish these spots anymore?
This is where we find ourselves when there are mega-huge internet fishing sites that have unabashedly brought thousands to our Pacific Northwest rivers to try to catch a dwindling supply of fish...all for a buck. 
I will never allow the thugs, bullies and wannabe fishing superstars drive me away from the outdoor recreation I love but I will fish with eyes in the back of my head and always looking over my shoulder. Sheriff Ed Tom was right " It's hard to even take it's measure"