2007-05-03 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

Give a man a fish and he'll want beer
By Sam Bari

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will have a sudden desire to drink beer. He will probably like it. Then he will tell all of his friends about fishing and drinking beer. They will like it, too. He will take them to your favorite spot where they will catch all the fish and probably drink all of your beer. Do not despair, all is not lost - not yet anyway.

A lot can be learned about a man by taking him fishing. If he has a bad day, he could be like most fishermen and lie about it. If he is a good liar, a world of opportunity could open up for him. He could become a newspaper columnist, a politician, or even an attorney and make lots of money.

Although teaching a man how to fish appears to be insignificant in the grand scheme of our economic makeup, if you stop and think about it, all the little fishing trips added together could amount to a respectable piece of business for a handful of industries.

For instance, unlike most sports, fishing is one of the few that allow beer to be consumed while actually participating in the activity. Most breweries would probably frown on driving a racecar and consuming beer at the same time because they are so conscious of their image. Fishing however, allows both participants and fans alike to enjoy drinking beer. It is one sporting event that gives the advertising slogan, "It's all about the beer," true meaning and merit.

If beer drinking while fishing was banned from, let's say, TV commercials, the Anheuser-Bucsh Clydesdales would probably not have to worry about job security. However, they would more than likely raise an eyebrow and stomp a hoof at the Federal Communications Commission for putting a damper on their advertising program.

Nonetheless, the unwritten rules for drinking beer also need to be considered. Just because a person is thirsty or feels like drinking a beer, does not justify its consumption. Hard, in-your-face logic is required before anyone can actually feel comfortable about having a brew. Solid reasoning like, "Look they're playing baseball, let's drink beer," seems to make sense. Or, "There's a basketball game on television; that's a great opportunity to invite all of my friends over to drink beer."

According to the breweries, fishing was invented solely for the enjoyment of beer. Why else would men spend hundreds of dollars on tackle, gear and bait - certainly not because they can catch a few dollars worth of fish. If they're fishing, they can drink beer with impunity. Their wives will not call them shiftless, beerswilling couch potatoes. They will call them shiftless, beer-swilling fishermen. Apparently, the beerswilling and fishing correlation is a more acceptable invective than beer swilling and couch potato.

The beer business, however, is not the only industry that profits from sport fishing. The tackle and bait companies make a tidy profit off the beer-swilling angler set. Long gone is the day when a cane pole, hook and bobber can be purchased for a few dollars. Now a basic carbon fiber rod, bait-casting reel, line and rig average upward of $100. Depending on where you fish, tackle boxes, creels, hip or chest waders, hand-tied flies and other paraphernalia can be added to the list of the well-outfitted fisherman, and the stuff is not cheap. If all the novice angler catches is a couple of two-pound fish, they could end up costing well over $50 a pound, and that's on the conservative side.

Now, let's get heavy and add a boat to the mix. This is a whole new ballgame. We're talking serious bucks. A small aluminum fishing boat with a 25-horsepower engine probably costs about six grand or so new, depending on the brand, etc. A top-of-the-line bass boat can top six figures. A tricked out sport fisher with outriggers, downriggers, tuna tower and sleeping accommodations costs more than most houses. Let's not even think about the fuel. Take a rig like that out for the first time and only catch one twenty-five pound tuna, and you're talking about eating a fish that costs over five figures per pound. Whatever you do - don't overcook it.

We cannot possibly forget the attorneys that the sport-fishing enthusiasts support. Many a fisherman has ended up in divorce court for leaving a fishing widow at home with the kiddies once too often. It is a sad day when the old fishing boat goes on the auction block with all of those beautiful rods and reels. Sometimes it takes drastic measures to make some men understand that you can't spend more on your fish than you spend on your wife. And you certainly can't spend more time with your fish than you spend with your wife or you're gonna pay.

The next time you want to teach a buddy how to fish, do him a favor. Buy him a beer instead. I guess sport fishing is just part of that system we can't understand.

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