Exactly when did fishing — once the favorite pastime of retirees and poodle owners (those two things generally going hand in hand) — become a blood sport? I know there have always been sport fishermen — those guys who actually somehow make a living catching fish — and I have a vivid memory of being on a boat in the ocean as my dad’s hands were sliced to ribbons while he fought some gigantic fish, which was both macho and traumatizing to small me — but recreational fishing used to be relaxing, right? A couple old geezers in a skiff, some Pabst Blue Ribbon or Natty Light in a styrofoam cooler, a bucket of worms or minnows, a vest with lots of pockets, and a hat decorated with lures. That’s fishing, right?
Having finished the Lit Crit paper (hallelujah!) and said goodbye to the English houseguests, my son and I hit up Ace Hardware this morning to get a few fishing doodahs in the hopes that our friend with a sweeeeet new boat would come take us out on the water for the afternoon.
[Actually, I think my son was invited; I just planned to attach myself to the outing like a barnacle on the hull. Or a remora on a shark. Or a parasite on host. You get the drift. But I had going for me the small fact that the sweeeet boat in question was tied up at my house, meaning it would be hard for them to sneak by me. However, this plan was nearly thwarted when I fell asleep in the hammock….]
Anyway, after picking up the broom I needed at Ace, I trailed behind my son as he hit the wall of lures.
That, friends, is when I realized that fishing has gone BADASS.
The lures fell into one of two characters: hypersexual, or apocalyptic. The hypersexual ones had names like The Spinning Seductress (With Shiny Bits That Beguile!), The Whirling Whore Spoon (Her Side to Side Wobble Brings All the Fish to the Hook!), Jezebel the Jig (With a Bucktail Skirt No Fish Can Resist!) and Trixie the Trolling Spoon (Drag Her Fast; She Likes It!)
Not only could you get lures augmented with glitter (for catching teenage female fish at the Undersea Mall, I assume?) or scented (surely this is Axe Body Spray’s next market?), you could also get ones with hair, trailing tails, and even a lure called the Badonk a Donk.
The apocalyptic ones were even better:
The BASS ASSASSIN. The CAJUN SLAMMER. The AMBERJACK ANNIHILATOR. The ROCKFISH WRECKER. The FLOUNDER DESTROYER. And, a team favorite, the DEADLY DICK.
Honestly, based on those names, you’d expect any fish you caught to emerge from the water in tiny pieces, blasted to bits by the sheer force of the lure.
“What was that, Bob?”
“Well, hell, Frank. I think it was a beautiful cobia, but it’s hard to tell from the bloody shrapnel. It’s a damn shame, too, ’cause I promised the wife a fish for dinner.”
“What lure were you using there, Bob?”
“It was the Deadly Dick. Tore that cobia to bits. Basically blew her out of the water.”
“Ahh. Well, it happens. Try my Piscine Prostitute. The fish come out of the water a little dirty and ashamed, but fairly intact.”
I shouldn’t be surprised that fishing has gone badass; after all, this seems to be a trend in the world, doesn’t it? Where there used to be sweet, drunk Julia Childs making croque-en-bouche, now we have shows with names like CUPCAKE ARMAGEDDON: Only one baker will survive! The winner will make sixteen thousand cupcakes for a Kardashian-themed bat mitzvah, and the loser will face a firing squad of fondant-covered mercenaries.
But don’t you worry. We had a lovely, relaxing afternoon, and no one was hurt — except for the cute little Spanish Mackerel who ended up broiled and on my plate, the poor dear. Also, the boat’s captain made a Loaves and Fishes joke (based on the fact that, for some unknown reason, I decided to make meatloaf this morning, and made five of them. Five. There is no explanation for this.) So in thanks for a great afternoon on the water, I’ve included a still from Storytime with Jesus: