Where Has the Sport of Fishing Gone?

Sport Fishing, Cannons Marina, Longboat KeyIt alarms me that fishing appears to be abandoning the sporting element that once made this past time great. Maybe it is because we have too many fish or too many anglers because hunting has gone the opposite direction.
The men and women who stalk big game do so now with primitive bows and arrows, cameras and even paintball guns.They’ll be reduced to spears and slings before it’s done and the entire reason for it is to put sport back into the hunt by handicapping the modern practitioner. Fishing, on the other hand, seems to be moving the opposite direction.
We’ve all seen it or been a part of it. They advertise robotic fishing lures on television as a can’t fail technique. You and I realize this is a scam and doesn’t work. But that doesn’t keep Madison Avenue from probing the current “fish at any cost” way of thinking.
Closer to home we now have braided line that virtually can not be broken. This modern technology is the darling of the fishing guide. Few modern anglers are skillful at casting a lure or bait, hooking a fish or avoiding mistakes while fighting one. That used to be part of the game and anglers spent hours reading and learning how to tie knots, practicing casting and mentally rehearsing mistake-free battles with big game fish.
But the growing number of fishing guides and the birth of braided lines has changed that; as has our busy world. Anglers no longer need to learn to cast or become skillful at fighting fish. Any klutz can cast the super thin braided lines. Meanwhile, because of its small diameter, a guide can load heavy braided line on a reel and it will still cast like silk thread. Most guides cast for their clients so angler casting errors are negligible. Hence there is no need to practice this once-vital art. The heavy test braid fools the angler into thinking they are fishing with light tackle yet they are free to make all the mistakes they want. The braid is so strong and tough that even the biggest clown can’t screw up and break a big fish off.
In this process light line class world records have fallen by the wayside and that was long the mark true sportsmen (and women) sought to attain.It’s hard to blame the guides. A lot of them have inadvertently spoiled anglers. Consequently, clients expect to put a bunch of fish in the boat. Arming them with unbreakable line insures that. But it does diminish the sport.
“That stuff casts so well; you can drag it over things that will cut monofilament; it’s so tough it ought to be illegal,” legendary fishing guide Scott Moore said in a weaker moment.Still, he’d probably be right there in the line of protesters if a proposal to ban the braid came down.There are drawbacks to the magic braid, however. It tangles around guides and billows in the wind. Pinpoint casting that allows a bait or lure to be cast and worked to a specific fish or spot can’t be done with this line. It’s also expensive.
Braids would never work on a bonefish flat where casting the bait to one small area and keeping it there is important. The wind would blow belly into the line and taking up this slack would move the bait away from where it needed to be. Florida Keys fishing guides can’t use the stuff; nor would they. Anglers there still believe in chasing world records and catching huge fish on very light lines.
There is still hope out there as fly rod anglers are growing and these outdoors enthusiasts are using the ultimate handicap just to make things more sporting. But everything was more fun – and more sporting – when we had to practice casting and tying knots and dreaming of how we would do battle with the great fish; never knowing just who would win the game.
So what do you think?
By Guest Writer: GB Knowles