Welcome, FishTalking friends, to the final month of 2020. WOOHOO. This awful, horrible, no-good bummer of a year is finally coming to an end. We have a brand-new year to look forward to, one which will hopefully be a lot less stressful than this one has been.
One bright spot in 2020 was the fact that we were able to fish our way through the sudden and near-complete absence of organized sports, large social gatherings, concerts, and events. As it turned out, more people than ever discovered what we anglers already knew: that whether you’re casting from a shoreline, trolling lines behind a kayak, or jigging from a boat, fishing is good for the body and soul. Many non-anglers also joined us on the water, and although these folks obviously have mental deficiencies (they are, after all, non-anglers), we should welcome these paddleboarders, canoers, and snailboaters into our marine environment with open arms. As these people go past us and see the excitement generated by bent rods and topwater explosions, they will surely one day endeavor to become anglers themselves.
Of all the different types of non-anglers out there, the group that has always mystified us more than any are the sailors. They invariably set up race courses in the very best fishing spots, then for some reason get upset when you troll (with planer boards deployed 150 feet off to either side) through their boats — which, by the way, are inexplicably going in different directions even though they’re all trying to get to the same place. Huh? All that zigzagging in order to get from Point A to Point B is an epic waste of fishing time. On top of that, they talk about how great it is when the wind blows, forgoshsakes. Sailors are, to us anglers, one gigantic shoulder-shrug.
Yet when you get to know them, however, you discover that they’re perhaps the only non-anglers out on the water with as much passion for their sport as we fisherfolks have. (Imagine my surprise, working with the sailing folks at Spinsheet!) They lie awake at night pondering whether miniscule adjustments in sail trim would gain them a tenth of a mph, while we toss and turn wondering if slowing down the troll by a tenth of a mph would trigger more bites. They study the current predictions to choose the best tack, while we study the very same predictions to choose the most productive hotspots. We both check our windspeed apps with increasing frequency as the end of the workday draws closer, and we both become fixated with (and develop a loathing of) the weatherman.
Many of those sailors, however, mistakenly believe they are even more passionate and dedicated than we anglers are. And much to my dismay, in at least one venue they are showing it. FishTalk’s sister publication SpinSheet holds a yearly contest of sorts, called the Century Club. If you get out on the water 100 or more days during the year, you win and gain entry to the club. Any time you cast off the lines or shove the kayak off the shoreline counts as a day, and you get credit regardless of how long you’re out there. Your award upon becoming a Centurion is a special little triangular flag you can run up your outriggers (it’s called a “burgee” in blowboat-speak), and an invitation to the yearly Century Club party.
Last year out of 105 Centurions, there were a paltry two hard-core anglers. TWO! FishTalk contributor Eric Packard and myself had no one else to talk fishing with, as 103 sailors milled about discussing spinnakers rather than spinning reels, wearing Helly Hansens rather than Grundens, and nibbling on goat cheese (or something).
THIS IS A CALL TO ARMS!!
I know there are countless legions among you who will break the 100-day mark in 2021, and haven’t been centurions up until now simply because you weren’t aware of the opportunity. I implore you to begin logging these days (any way you like, it goes by the honor system) starting January 1, and show those gust-lovers what we fisherfolks are really made of. I’ll even sweeten the pot, and personally guarantee FishTalk drink coozies and stickers to any angler who makes the grade. You can do the logging yourself on a calendar or notebook, or log your days at Spinsheet. Come January 1 start recording each day on the water, and in 2021 let’s prove that hiking out does not, cannot, will not win over hooking up.