Micro-fishing Part I: Looking Back

This short series of posts will explore micro-fishing. This time:  Part I: Looking Back…..

img_1156-editedYears ago, when I was “retired” for the first time, and pretty much fishing every day, I spent some time considering recreational fishing as a business. The supply side of this fishing economy has grown far beyond the local tackle shop. There is a fully developed service industry with charters, guides, travel and lodging.  There is also an endless supply of both amateur and professional fishing entertainment, from GoPro vids on Youtube to the official Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing league. Entering this market usually means adding or changing some aspect of a well established plan, manufacturing a new lure, guiding for an unusual species, opening a lodge in an exotic corner of the world. Yet all of these ventures are pretty much competing for customers in the same market. There are niches in that market but generally speaking, all recreational fishers are cut from a common cloth – we get excited about the challenge and reward of catching fish.

But there is another, important aspect of fishing that we share. The experience of just being outdoors in nature is enough to send most of us home with a smile, even when the fishing is terrible. While most fishers will explicitly acknowledge this fact I don’t believe that many people stop to consider how widely this  feeling is shared, among hikers, bikers, runners, climbers, hunters, divers, birders and photographers, just to name a few. This brought me to an interesting thought. What if fishing could be marketed in a whole new way to this much, much larger group of people, not as a challenge but as an exploration? A way for nature enthusiasts of all types to expand and enrich their experience of the world through fishing.

I thought that even people who are fundamentally averse to the traditional fishing culture might be interested in “collecting” new fish species, much like birders, especially if they could be provided with some very simple and effective method of doing so. Naturally, being too busy fishing myself, I never pursued this idea any further. Then, almost a decade later, I heard a story on National Public Radio about “micro-fishing”:

Micro-fishers target not just the smallest fish, but the largest number of species — a process known as life-listing. It’s like what birders do, but for fish caught with a rod and a reel.

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Wow! Someone really beat me to the punch there. In some ways I have been micro-fishing for years. There are times when I specifically target small fish, and I do keep a rough list of all the species I have caught with hook and line. I am curious to see if micro-fishing really takes off, dwindles in obscurity or  just develops and persists in it’s own niche. No matter what it’s future is I do believe there are some compelling reasons to try it out.

Coming up next time: Part II, Why Bother?

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