Electronics and technology have changed the way sportsmen do things. Anglers used to find fish by fishing for them. Of course using visible cues at known fish hangouts helped fishermen, in the hunt and so did good old fashion experience.
If you caught fish near Smith’s boat dock or the around the rock pile by Jones’s sea wall before, you kept going back there for quick action.
Wind direction, time of day, even the season, played into the mix but for the most part, fishermen earned their catch the hard way. Limits of fish mattered not and a fish caught counted toward a great day.
Today’s fisherman is slave to his sonar, GPS, underwater speed indicators and countless other gadgets and gizmos.
Now, thanks to the amount of buttons available to push, fish don’t come cheap. It’s a rare angler who doesn’t own a high-tech sonar unit, a screen that shows an underwater story in great detail and in real time. The returning sonar pings tell the viewer the depth of the water, the presence of bait fish and predator (called target) fish.
Add to that information, if dialed in properly, the unit shows additional helpful stuff like water clarity, thermocline, and on and on.
For more money, a top shelf sonar unit will contain a GPS system that can steer you, return you to a precise spot, tell your buddy where you are, head you for home and indicate your exact speed to the tenth degree.
Now pull out another pile of Grants and Ben Franklins and add an upscale electric trolling motor. Tie your new bow mount to your sonar/GPS combo unit and experience the magic of digital communications as the interface of circuit boards steers the electric motor with its silent thrust — hands-free and more accurately than most autopilots can.
A tech-savvy operator can instruct his electronic first mate to follow a compass heading, hold a position, track a contour by depth or any combination of them. To a lone fisherman it’s like having a co-angler along that never makes a mistake.
My uncle, Russ Doan, used to fish for lake trout in Ontario’s Lake Temagami almost daily in the summer months. He used single strand wire line, a stubby rod and lots of elbow grease to fish a big spoon in the deep water.
In the evenings he fished for walleyes by trolling worms on and around rock strewn points and over sunken reeks. He never had, or wanted, an electronic depth finder, nor did he need one. Uncle Russ could recite depths and locations of underwater structure as if he was looking at a book and a stack of maps.
This generation of lake trout chasers enlist all the technology gadgetry listed above but I’d bet a dozen crawlers my uncle could hold his own in a head to head contest.
The pattern here is the difference between a guy who was willing to invest time and effort in his sport and a guy who expects to catch fish every time out and who measures success in pounds, inches and limits.
So let’s go hunting, another fine example of too much technology. Too much, meaning cameras that record passing deer, rangefinders that read the distance between shooter and target, rifle scopes that make corrections automatically for bullet drop, and the list goes on and on.
A hunter can amplify his hearing, sharpen his eyesight, erase his human smell, shield himself from mosquitoes, and film himself through it all. Watch and read enough the advertiser driven outdoor media and it becomes all too easy to confuse the words “want” and “need.”
Sportsmen are the target of magazine publishers and TV producers. Purchase an outdoor magazine today and you’ll soon be convinced if you own a this and a that, you’ll be bagging a monster huge buck or a boss gobbler every time out.
Dial in any one of the outdoor TV shows and hang on to your wallet. What you get is a few minutes of show or story and a whole lot of marketing.
Uncle Russ had it right. He would go fishing to fish, hunting to hunt. And he never had to buy batteries or push buttons to enjoy either.