There were bass, and bream, and crappie, and catfish, and aluminum boats, and paddles, and cane poles, and zebcos, and plastic worms, and crickets, and………..then…..
There were REDFISH!!
And, oh my goodness how the world changed.
There is something about these redfish that is, well, different. They aren’t especially regal. Certainly not majestic. Yet, there is a distinctive difference to this fish that stands out, that calls to your soul, and once you have heard that call it becomes irresistible. It is a siren song filled with a challenging note – “Find me if you can. Catch me if you can”.
These fish have a aggression that stands out from the rest. Even their facial expression is permanently frozen in a look of determination. When these fish are on the feed woe be unto any prospective meal in the vicinity because their life expectancy just went down to minutes or seconds.
The word “quit” is not in the vocabulary of redfish. From the moment they realize that something isn’t right and their free will to swim has been impeded, they fight. They fight and they brawl and they run and they – don’t – quit! Pound for pound these are some of the strongest brutes in the water. There is no comparison at all to skiing a green bass across the top of the water to the boat and battling an eight pound red in deep water. Their strength is the stuff of legends and soon the competitive events that have grown up around this marvelous fish will be as well.
True competitive redfishing events are less than twenty years old and the sport has been plagued by more fits and starts than is usual for a new sport. Part of the difficulty has been due to the fiercely independent nature of these coastal anglers. These are men and women with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. They will not be herded into a corral and told how to pursue their passion. They will not be treated like one and all are the same. There is a pride, a need, for unfettered independence that transcends the boundaries of “group mentality” and makes them unique.
It is this very “unique-ness” that will define this sport and that will set the performance bar at an unparalleled height. But the growth, the success, of competitive redfishing lies in the defining characteristics of the word – “organization”.
Without organization, without rules, without centralization of thought, there can be no real growth and no real direction. Our sport will forever languish in the doldrums of mediocrity. We cannot, we must not, stand idly by and allow that to happen.
Redfish never seem to be without purpose, without intent, without drive, without ambition. I think perhaps we need to emulate our red friends a little more and create a schooling mentality of support for the sport, the fish, and the ecology of angling we all love so very much.