It all started with what I thought was a semi-humorous, tongue-in-cheek post about Night Fishing for Walleye.
Those who know me personally got it right away, those who don’t took a bit longer.
It was supposed to be funny, in a dry, smart ass kind of way.
Over the past 15 years of posting on Chicago Area fishing forums, I’ve apparently made a number of enemies. I was banned from a couple of sites for reasons I no longer remember, or care about. I was even banned from the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance forum when I was one of their Conservation Directors. I do remember being pretty pissed off about that one, but I no longer remember why or care about that one either. Funny how when the great scheme of things is analyzed, in this case fishing, what was once important becomes almost laughable. Even embarrassing that I was somehow involved.
So, the reaction I got from one person that didn’t see the humor in my night fishing walleye post, kind of surprised me.
He had just signed on to the forum recently under an alias and his very first post was to make fun of another member. Okay, that’s kind of odd. He did that with his next two posts. Okay, after three posts he just became known as the forum pain-in-the-ass. Then he found my post. Apparently I know this guy and his comments quickly became personal.
SIDEBAR: My own personal opinion is that anyone that joins a forum and hides behind an alias so they can attack others is a sniveling piece of scum barely worth tolerating. On my own forum, I had a policy that if I didn’t know you personally you had to sign up with your real name. Which would explain why my forum only had about 60 members. It’s still out there. I may start it up again some day.
When I’m attacked, my first reaction, right or wrong, is to attack back. Something I learned from my dad, never let the assholes beat you down and win. I’m not always proud of this personality trait, but there have been plenty of times where it’s come in hand.
I have no doubt I should have kept my mouth shut. As I said, in the great scheme of things, who cares really. When I go back and read what I said, it wasn’t that bad, even tactful in a blunt kind of way.
But the response was personal and uncalled for. Whoever it is knows my past and has been reading me for years, but I still don’t think I deserved this:
Man, you sure do have a high opinion of yourself. Kinda funny really because all I’ve seen from you lately is how you can’t catch fish and how you don’t care about it.
A friend once told me, “I can go catch 50 creek chubs in a few hours, doesn’t make me a good fisherman”. He also said, “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character”. I think both apply to you.
That blog entry was suppose to be funny? I’m not the only one the humor eluded. Look at the first few comments.
There is a reason that website of yours failed. There’s a reason your guide service failed. There is a reason your canoe shop or whatever the hell it was, failed. There is one common denominator in all those things. You.
Stalker? Hardly. I just made an observation about your spam link story and it snowballed. I read it because I thought you might actually have a story about catching walleyes at night. I don’t know what I was thinking, you don’t catch fish. That’s why you never see anyone in the spots you so graciously point out to the internet public. Instead it was a dig at people that actually catch fish with some pictures of cigar walleyes you happened upon while floating a minnow or twisting a Producto. Anyone that has fished the Fox for any length of time has hooked into the occasional walleye. It’s not uncommon. You present yourself as having knowledge as to how to target them on the Fox? Bullshit, if you did you’d blow up this site with your spam links as to how to exactly. You don’t know shit. You actually know less than I first thought.
I’m done with you, your self righteous ass and the sheep that have their lips permanently affixed to your asshole.
You are full of shit and the ones that know better see right through you, sir.
I believe my next response to him started… I appreciate your opinion and I’ll take all that you said under consideration…
And then I let it die.
The funny part about this is that the approach from the attacker, this time and others, is always one of going after the “expert.” The only problem is, I’ve never called myself one and I actually cringe when others call me The Fox River Expert. Maybe they want to be the Fox River Expert. Well then, go ahead. They come after me like they’re expecting a fight and now is their chance to prove to everyone how I know nothing. Okay, go ahead, really, I don’t care.
I have purposely phased myself out of all but one of the local fishing forums, the one where this happened. This is an isolated incident and he was immediately banned from the site. There’s a rumor going around on who it is and if that’s the case, this guy has been banned from this site in the past and just about every other site in the Chicago area except his own. I guess why is obvious.
What is even odder is his timing. It comes at a time when I’ve been questioning the different ways left for outdoor writers to get published. Print, except for a chosen few, is all but dead. There is almost no outlet left in that medium for someone to come along and get published.
Since I’ve been involved with internet fishing forums since 1996 and began leaving these stories on them since 1998, I’ve always questioned whether or not this was the way to go. Was this the way outdoor writing should go. My resounding answer is NO. Take a look at how things are panning out. I write for free for ChicagoNow, a Tribune Media Company. I could write for Patch, Tribune Local and any one of a handful of area so called news sites, all for free. It’s not like they’re going to pay anyone to do it. We’re all now Citizen Writers/Reporters/Correspondents. Our voices can be heard.
It’s a feature.
That being said, then why do I bother?
For me it’s an outlet, something to do after I quit painting and making sculpture years ago. When push comes to shove I expect absolutely nothing to come of any of what I’ve done over these past 15 years. At least monetarily.
Personally, it’s been extremely gratifying. I’ve done guiding, on and off the water fishing classes, seminars and even started a canoe business. All the while writing things down for the hell of it. I’ve got to meet some really great people. It’s been fun.
Because of this incident I was going to walk away from this last forum where I participate.
Then I got a handful of messages.
Guys were telling me that they learned a lot from what I’ve been saying over the years. REALLY?
Apparently I inspired a few to document their own adventures and start their own blogs. I follow their blogs, they’re not bad.
Another said my photos inspired him to go take more of his own and manipulate them differently. Again, really?
I didn’t know any of this. I just put stuff out there and, well, don’t really give it much thought after that. I’m flattered and embarrassed at the same time.
But the one thing that I did learn, the thing I’ve known all along and this has driven home, is that on fishing forums, if I don’t know you or your real name and all you have is an alias you go by, I will completely ignore you. I’m done pretending that aliases are somehow even remotely interesting. They’re not. If you can’t put your name, your real name, behind the things you say and do, then I want nothing to do with you. The forums around the Chicago Area, if you bother to go look at their numbers, have never been all that successful considering the amount of anglers, hunters and wanderers around here. The alias issue is the main reason.
As for that other thing I brought up, that thing about outdoor writing and the internet, that possibility you might be able to make a living from writing and photographing and putting it on the internet somehow.
Don’t quit your day job. There’s a 99.9 percent chance it’s not going to happen.
Get it in your head now that you are doing what you do for the fun of it, for the art of it in some cases. You’ll sleep easier at night knowing that and there’s a good chance it will make your content that much better.