Missing the fishing report

Not too long ago, circa the late 1990s this newspaper ran a fishing report in conjunction with the outdoors section. The report summarized fishing and what’s biting from the lower southern beaches, to Nags Head and points between.

I believe at one point, the fishing report was actually a daily report that was buried within the box scores of the paper.

My dad, a connoisseur of sports information, would even turn to the box score of the paper to see what the RBI percentage was for a Durham Bulls player or to read some other factual information pertaining to sports.

And, he read the report.

“The spots are running,” was something he would tell me, this time of year.

A few times, I dabbled with keeping some form of a fishing report.

I would call the piers and a few tackle shops and rely on the person on the other end to verbally provide a report.

“Well, there’s been a showing of mullet and a few blues,” said one.

“A few Spanish mackerel and maybe a croaker here and there, mostly good with a few lulls,” said another one.

From a charter boat captain, one would hear, “We had to scrap for them but managed to make a day of it.” Or, “Today was better than yesterday and so tomorrow should be really good,” said another.

Though I suspect the information, from these angling-type people may have been suspect and scrapping for a fish might just be that, a fish. Yet what their voices and their words and their tone provided, was part of fishing culture and part of what gives fishing an emotion.

In an era when knowledge is everywhere and information is free and this moment’s news is old news in six-moments, the age of technology and data, has woven a tangled net into the world of fishing-news and fishing reports.

“People just don’t call like they used to,” said my friend Jim Bowman of Cape Hatteras, NC.

Bowman is a charter boat captain from Teach’s Lair in Hatteras. His boat, the Marlin Mania, is a custom sport fisher built by hand and built to take people offshore into the Gulf Stream.

“It used to be that the phone would ring off the hook from late March and keep going; now everyone just shops the Internet for fishing reports and nobody takes the time to call the Captain to actually hear in their own words, what’s biting,” says Bowman.

These days, one can point and click and from the narrowness of a phone, read 140 characters and deduce some fashion of a report. Fishing reports were designed to be remnants of truth and palpable examples of optimism. More importantly, speaking with a human and discussing the outlook of fishing, has a way of connecting people with people and connecting in the passion of angling.

Many of my friends who run angling charter businesses speak to the trend of connecting less with people and that customers are so picky that they would only show an interest in fishing when the catching is almost guaranteed.

“The internet ruined that term patience,” said Bowman. “It’s as if today that people want an instant success and absolute catch, yet they don’t want to take the time to ask the people that know, that do this stuff for a daily living.”

Today, many newspapers don't run a daily fishing report. Fishing piers are down to just a handful in North Carolina. And charter captains rush to the computer to string a few words describing the awesome experience had while offshore.

When it comes to fishing reports and fishing talk, it has become less of a guarantee conversation, unless the conversation guarantees a catch.

Enjoy your time outdoors.