A Bit of Fishy Irony

This blog post is a bit different than most.

I recently was perusing various articles and sermons that I wrote and were forgotten on an old hard drive. I came across this article and thought I would share it as an example of some of the irony we bring upon ourselves. Remember that I wrote this some time ago while living in Pennsylvania. Alaska is a bit different. Fish for us are to catch and eat.

Did you every stop to think of the irony of today’s fisherman?

Fishing in today’s world is far more complicated than it was when I was a youngster. Gone are the days when a stick with some random fishing line purchased at a yard sale four years prior and rusty hooks salvaged from the bottom of your uncle’s truck bed are enough to catch a stringer of fish for supper. Either fish have grown much wiser and cautious or fishermen have gotten stupider.

Allow me to elaborate. As a boy my budget was non-existent and my parent’s was meager at best. If I did own a fishing rod it was most likely one purchased at a yard sale for a $1 and was missing the tip and reeled only when there wasn’t a fish on the line. Other fishing tackle was always in short supply but we would occasionally be fortunate enough to ruthlessly persuade my father to buy a $.50 pack of 100 hooks. Not to mention bait– at that time in my era of history only the rich and lazy would ever consider paying money for something that existed by the hundreds under the manure pile. (Now the rich and lazy don’t even have a manure pile!) For most of my boyhood years we probably spent less than $5 total for an entire year of fishing and that included the tartar sauce. Our drought of funds did not dampen our fishing much at all. Now granted, transportation at that time was very limited to what I could legally ride which consisted of 2 wheels and a set of pedals, so all the fishing we did was restricted to a relatively small geographical area. This helped keep the costs down considerably as we were well satisfied with the local pan fish and creek chubs and didn’t have any fancy ideas of halibut and salmon. As I recall, we did catch a large amount of fish even with our limited resources and we did do an incredible amount of fishing even with our limited mobility.

Fast forward to this year. First, I excitedly purchased my $38.40 PA fishing license and proceeded to sort my plethora of lures, myriads of hooks, swivels, sinkers, and various other unused items that some concerned marketer convinced me that I needed for a successful fishing trip. (Tackle salesmen are always a caring bunch.) I took down all 7 of my fishing rods and greased the reels after stringing on the latest fishing line. (The benevolent tackle salesmen recommend changing lines at least once a year and advise that fish are smart so the lighter the better.)  Frustration mounts as I try to decide if I am going to focus more on fly-fishing or spin casting this year. Just in case I want to fish both methods I meticulously sort my hundreds of flies and restring both of my fly rods with new string. I pull out both my chest waders and my hip waders and clear them of nesting rodents. I look over my old fishing vest and see a stain so I will probably need a new one. I open my plastic storage bins of soft baits and spray them with some fresh night crawler scent.  Of course, you never know if the bugs out on the stream have mutated into something entirely different this year so a trip to the local fly shop is obviously necessary. While at the fly shop I nonchalantly inquire of the merchant as to what is currently working on the Penn’s Creek. This leads to a phenomenon that I have frequently observed. The fly shop merchant, who is obviously the expert, always rattles off a list of bugs present in the stream that the fish are eating but I seldom own any flies of that particular type and size.  So after purchasing the $40 worth of flies as well as a sticker to brag to everyone that I am a fly fisherman, I head out to the creek to see if there is any action. I cruise by a few fishermen and watch for a few minutes at a pull-off to see if any trout are rising. There isn’t much happening which is fine because I didn’t have time to go fishing anyway – I got to get back to work so I can get the bills paid….

Not only have the cost of supplies and equipment have changed. As a boy I tried to set up my equipment so that the fish had very little chance of escape. The term “fighting a fish” would have had the meaning of the procedure used to extract a hook from a fish that had the audacity to swallow it. Nowadays the “coolest” rods are the ultra light ones that exaggerate the size of the fish to even larger than the lies later told about “the one that got away.” Someday I am going to string up a dry spaghetti noodle with some silk strands and watch the other trout fishermen drool with envy as I fight a 6″ trout for a few hours with it. A more outspoken one will reverently call out, “Wow! What pound test are you using!?” To which I will coolly reply, “3 grams.”

Now you would think after all the expense and struggle to finally land a fish with my carbon fiber rod and titanium reel, I would carefully slip it into my creel and later eat every flake of meat from its carcass, suck the juice from its head, and boil what’s left for fish broth. Instead, I carefully extract the hook (which is about the size of a splinter) all the while trying to keep the fish in the water as much as possible to keep it from dying. I then lower the fish in the water allowing it to revive after all that fighting and let it swim away after it regains its strength to do so.  

Now isn’t that ironic?

 This may seem amusing but think about some of the ironic things we accept every day that are equally ridiculous.

  • Spending hours trying to get the time-saving piece of  technology to work
  • Spending a bunch of money to buy a piece of machinery to do the job that you or your child could do instead of running on that expensive treadmill
  • Spending lots of money and time fertilizing and watering grass and then spending lots more money and time to cut it
  • Thinking that winning the next level of some video game is actually achieving something
  • Complaining about hyperactive bored children while you plow the snow from your driveway with a snowplow
  • Feeling lonely with lots of Facebook friends
  • Allowing our young people to indulge in rock music and Youtube while exclaiming how worldly they are becoming and how little interest they have in reading the Bible
  • Working day and night to buy things that will eventually rot, rust, or burn
  • Working day and night so your children will have everything they want except what they really want – you

You get the drift. Think about it.


Feel free to leave a comment with your idea of irony


One thought on “A Bit of Fishy Irony

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