Monday, February 13, 2006

Fishing in Decline?

Today's L.A. Times has an article on the aging of the angling population, as the sport finds younger folk lured away by other amusements. Mountain biking, bowling, and camping are mentioned, though I suspect XBox, PlayStation, and Nintendo have something to do with it as well. Why leave the house to fish when you can catch record bass on your PlayStation?

It's also likely the decline in fishing's popularity has more than a little to do with the decline in attention spans, as kids get used to receiving their entertainment in ever-briefer packages. As one 17-year-old interviewed in the article uncharitably describes the sport, "It's sitting unproductively waiting for something to happen." Or as Jill Grigsby, a Pomona College sociology professor, puts it, "Today's young people grew up with a lot of stimulation and seeing images that appear on the screen for only a couple of seconds [hmm...I wonder if she's talking about video games], and that is not the way fishing works...Fishing requires a great deal of patience."

I've always found the waiting game part of fishing's charm, since in my case it induces a mild trance-like state of suspense while the fish ponder whether to bite or not, a state that to the outsider must look appallingly dull, but that I find makes the most mundane events take on great dramatic significance (look, a duck!) and the worst beer taste like champagne. But that's just me.

Obviously these demographic shifts in the angling populace pose problems for the multi-billion dollar fishing industry, which sees much of its future livelihood slipping away like so many spooked trout. But on the bright side, I'm sure any fish that've seen the article are breathing a sigh of relief. Actually, I don't think fish can sigh. A burble of relief? A gurgle of relief? A blurg...oh, what the hell. Just read the article.


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