In this month's BASS Masters Magazine, there's a picture called "A Defining Moment" with a fully-wrapped boat with all the bells and whistles. Less then 50 feet away is a man in a johnboat. We are blessed equipment does not define our sport.
Still, we often consume ourselves with the newest boats, and the most expensive rods and tackle, going in debt to look like a professional angler.
On an FLW forum, a man asks: "What are we going to do? The economy is bad with all the layoffs, so what is going to happen to fishing?" The reply: "Take the tournaments away, take away the fancy boats, we all started with a cane pole."
I remember how it all started for me, nothing fancy, just asking God to help me get a paper route so I could earn enough money to buy a rod with a few hooks. I would dig up my own worms.
After I finished delivering my Saturday papers, I would have to watch my little sister while my mother worked weekends at her part-time job just to keep a roof over our heads.
So, I would drag my sister to Tangle Wood park every Saturday. I was 12, she was 6. While she would chase geese, I would sit there and fish like I was Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer. That's when fishing was fun.
I remember when it was just me and my mother living in the projects of Far Rockaway, Queens, N.Y. I must have been 7 when mommy was at work. I was a Latch Key kid who knew I was supposed to go right to the apartment after school. But I didn't listen.
We lived about 10 blocks from the beach. I would walk there, do my homework and watch the old men catch fish right out of the ocean. Now, that was fun.
I don't remember seeing everyone stressed out like today. Tournaments, although competitive, have fans ranging from babies to grandmothers. Let's get back to putting the family, friends and fun in fishing.
Maliek Carrington, known as Mr. Maliek, of Steele Creek is an amateur angler who fishes in the Bassmaster Weekend Series. He started Fishing4Reel about five years ago to expose children to fishing by taking them on freshwater and saltwater fishing trips. He can be reached at email@example.com.