Paddling With a Group of Non-anglers Is Not a Good Idea
By Ken Schultz
Sports Afield was once a major national fishing and hunting magazine with a monthly paid circulation of at least 1.1 million at its peak. It has been around for over a century. A few decades ago a new publishing director decided that the magazine’s content should include such topics as cross-country skiing, mountain biking, board sailing, and the like.
After the first repurposed editions appeared, including a cover photo of a young woman on snow skis, endemic advertisers bolted and longtime readers cancelled or didn’t renew. The new format was a terrible failure. Sports Afield went downhill quickly, was sold to a succession of owners, and eventually settled as an exotic big-game hunting quarterly with a small five-figure circulation.
At the time that this occurred I worked for rival publication Field & Stream, and the lesson that I and my fellow editors learned was that, editorially, you cannot mix the hardcore fishing and hunting crowd with hardcore mountain bikers or “other outdoor sports” enthusiasts.
Similarly, fishing out of a kayak while paddling with people who do not fish is also a poor mix. I’ve tried. Every summer for nearly two decades my wife and I have participated in
By Ken Schultz
Last fall I came home from a couple days of unsuccessful fishing for striped bass, and mentioned as much in a quick email to a friend.
Sorry to hear about that, replied my corresponding friend, “but it’s always refreshing to hear about guys like you striking out, too.”
I’m glad he was refreshed, I guess.
But my friend’s comment reminded me that I’m sometimes guilty of talking a little too much about the good fishing I’ve enjoyed at certain places without noting that sometimes I’ve been at great fishing destinations when the fishing was not so great. This is not the kind of comment that makes tourism folks happy, or necessarily makes for scintillating reading, but anyone who fishes very much knows that the only people who always catch fish are the ones who have television shows, even if they have to spend a week filming to get enough fish to cram into 23 minutes of air time.
I once fished with a fishing and hunting show host who couldn’t fish very well and
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