Josh Gowan: The Everyday Fisherman

May 26, 2015

There are professional fishermen among us. Here in the Heartland, especially Northwest Tennessee, there are more professional crappie and catfishermen per capita than anywhere else in the country. Most anglers, however, are just your average, everyday fisherman, but there’s something to be said for that.

The first rule to being an everyday fisherman, is not fishing every day. Actually, only fishing about one day out of seven is normal, and even that is sometimes a stretch. This rule applies unless you’re retired and you do fish every day, in which case who cares what you’re called, you’ve earned the right to fish every day, which by most accounts makes you a success story that we all strive towards.

The everyday fisherman acts as an enabler to the wannabe fisherman. We take them along with us and share our poles, knowledge, and bait, and occasionally our extra clothing and polarized sunglasses that an unprepared, green fisherman might forget. We suggest colors, forgive lost tackle and broken lines, and tie knots for those less fortunate and with less experience.

We explain that while the 15 mph wind doesn’t seem like much on the bank, it will be a different story on the water. We congratulate catches of scrap fish like drum, stripers, gar, and large-mouth bass, and willingly share our harvest knowing the story that will be told while they’re being eaten in our absence. The everyday fisherman is by most accounts a hero, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

The everyday fisherman is fascinated with the innovations and new methods used to catch more and bigger fish, and while they will pick up a new pole or bait now and then, they find themselves using tried and true methods more often than not. They fish with what makes them comfortable, what they know, and what has worked for them in the past. They are not unwilling to try new techniques, but with limited time and resources on the water and in their pocket, they go back to the proverbial “ole faithful”, and they catch fish.

They are experts on things like batter mixes, hushpuppies and filet knives, rain gear and pocket knives, and knowing exactly how many fish it will take to feed a specific number of people. Their neighbors that don’t fish look forward to fishing season because they know that the everyday fisherman is a philanthropist of sorts, and will bring donations of white, flaky filets that make the finest 5 star restaurants seem like discount burger chains.

The everyday fisherman abides by most all of the logical wildlife codes, but does not adhere to any other strict set of rules and regulations except for those imposed by their selves. They are both affected and unaffected by the weather, and their success is not always determined by their catch, because results aren’t everything, right? Everyday fisherman can fish tournaments, and tournament guys can become everyday, because our industry’s most successful pros were probably taught by an everyday fisherman.

I meet people almost daily who have adamant views about their fishing. Some only jig fish; one pole, no minnow, and anything else isn’t fair. Some only spider-rig, or “troll” as we call it in Southeast Missouri. Still others only cast or pull crankbaits, roadrunners, or “curly tails”. I’m not sure where the majority lies, and personally, I fish however I think will catch the most fish, but someone, either Twain, Hemmingway, or my Grandpa once said, “as long as you’re fishing, who cares”, and I think this is the motto of the everyday fisherman. We fish, how we want, for what we want, and as often as we can, and that makes us everyday fisherman, and we’re in good company.