An Outdoor View: Fishing the forum

When fishing opportunities are few, I sometimes enjoy fishing in the various forums on the Internet.

You never know what you might find in a fishing forum. Like any good water, these things are in a constant state of flux. And like any good fishing hole, you never know who you might find there.

Earlier this week, I fished the Alaska Outdoors Supersite, a Website for everyone who does most anything outdoors in Alaska. In the Alaska Fisheries Management Forum, a thread titled “Catch and Release – Blood Sports” caught my eye. What grabbed my attention was that the first post contained a link to my Clarion column of Feb. 28, 2014, one of several I’ve written about catch-and-release fishing. I like seeing what people think about my columns. I was hooked.

My column apparently touched a few nerves. In a post that fairly seethed with emotion and hyperbole, I was accused of using emotion and hyperbole. A couple of commenters thought my views on catch-and-release fishing were like something written by the president of PETA. Another suggested that I should hang my head in shame. I was called stupid, a hypocrite and — my favorite — “the enemy of all sportsmen.”

When I write, I’m usually trying to get readers to think about something. Judging from the first few comments in this thread, I succeeded in getting some of them to think about melting some tar and finding some feathers to use on Les Palmer.

One sentence in my column seemed to evoke the most vitriol. In my closing, I wrote, “I can’t help but wonder. If people get some kind of perverted enjoyment from seeing animals being abused, and suffering and dying, what else do they do for entertainment?” A couple of the commenters, apparently assuming that I was pointing The Accusatory Finger of Judgement at them, wanted me to apologize.

OK, here’s an apology: I apologize for wondering. Forgive me, please. However, wondering about things is a lifelong habit with me, so don’t be surprised if I do it again. For example, right now I’m wondering why some of the critics of that sentence were so defensive.

I’ve always known catch-and-release is controversial, and this thread pretty much covers the reasons why. The comments run on for 11 pages, a good indication of the interest readers have in the subject. The most recent posts are only a few days old, so the thread has had a two-year run. For a fishing forum, that’s a long run.

Not all the comments are negative. After reading through them, I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of those who commented agree that catching and releasing Kenai River king salmon shouldn’t be allowed when adequate spawning escapement is in doubt, as it has been in recent years.

Not that I don’t appreciate negative comments about what I write. Whether a comment is a candy heart or a poison dart, I learn something from it. Sometimes I find out that I didn’t make a point as well as I could’ve or should’ve. When I get no comments at all, I’m left to wonder.

The way I see it, if something I write can start people thinking about subjects that need a good airing, and get them started discussing those subjects, I’ve done my job. In this particular Internet fishing forum, for this particular subject, my work is done.

Visit the Alaska Outdoors Supersite at forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/.

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Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.

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