“You might be a redneck if you’ve ever been too drunk to fish.”
— Jeff Foxworthy
And you might be happier if you fished.
That is, when you aren’t too drunk to fish.
The joy of angling isn’t confined to rednecks.
Nor, in these parts, is it limited to you lucky folks with access to a boat.
Among the many advantages of living around here is easy proximity to both saltwater and freshwater fish — and assorted bank, dock, pier and bridge venues from which you can try to lure the denizens of the deep into dinner duty.
A couple of local high schools — Berkeley and Stratford — compete with club teams (with boats) in the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Youth Bass Fishing League.
Yet as creek-wise Post and Courier colleague Tommy Braswell, who hasn’t taken me fishing in a very long time, reported in Sunday’s paper:
“Jerome Singleton, commissioner of the South Carolina High School League, said the possibility of bass fishing becoming an official high school sport would be only speculation at this date.”
Still, that DNR Youth Bass Fishing League does hold a championship for high and middle school clubs. Dixie High in Due West won the overall team title this year.
Some state colleges, including South Carolina, Clemson and USC Upstate, also have club bass fishing teams. USC’s Patrick Walters of Summerville and Gettys Brannon of Columbia even won the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) college national championship last month on Lake Murray.
However, you don’t have to be a middle, high school or college student to reel in lasting life lessons from fishing. Among them are patience, timing, conservation, how quickly the climate can change, how to tie and untangle knots, and how to get over the one that got away.
Fishing brings primal food-chain survival instincts to the surface.
It also, when conducted in solitude, provides extended periods for personal reflection — a dwindling resource in our hectic modern times.
As Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal in another time, on Jan. 26, 1853:
“I am encouraged when I see a dozen villagers drawn to Walden Pond to spend a day in fishing through the ice, and suspect that I have more fellows than I knew, but I am disappointed and surprised to find that they lay so much stress on the fish which they catch or fail to catch, and on nothing else, as if there were nothing else to be caught.”
After all, what is our human comedy but a series of hopeful casts for uncertain results?
And if you think fishing for natural gas and/or oil off our state’s coast is a good idea, consider this IMDb plot synopsis of “Attack From Beneath,” aka “Atlantic Rim,” an instructive 2013 film airing at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the Syfy Channel:
“Following the mysterious disappearance of an oil rig and a reconnaissance mini-submarine in the Gulf of Mexico, scientist Dr. Margaret Adams (Nicole Dickson) initiates the Armada Program, which consists of giant robots designed for deep sea rescue. The three robots — piloted by Red (David Chokachi), Tracy (Jackie Moore) and Jim (Treach) — dive nearly 800 fathoms to the sea bed, where they not only discover the mangled remains of the oil rig, but encounter the sea monster that brought it down. ... Adm. Hadley is informed by Sheldon Geise (Steven Marlow) of a top-secret sonar program that discovered the monsters that are hundreds of millions of years old and lay their eggs on a mixture of crude oil and saltwater.”
No, oil and water don’t mix.
But in this cautionary case, crude oil and saltwater are a menacing blend. So why risk spawning sea monsters whose nature-strikes-back rage could make your next day at a local beach your last?
Lest you dismiss the threat of savage species attacking our kind, realize that when in the ocean, you swim with sharks.
That brings us back to Syfy’s “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”, which premieres on July 22. The all-star cast includes Mark Cuban (as the president), Ann Coulter (as vice president), David Hasselhoff, Bo Derek, Jerry Springer, Kathy Lee Gifford, rassler Chris Jericho and ex-U.S. House members Michelle Bachmann and Anthony Weiner. The story includes, as revealed in this space six weeks ago, a freakishly intense storm blowing sharks from the Atlantic through the sky to the land from Washington, D.C., to Florida.
That includes the S.C. coast.
So watch out for fish on air, land, sea and the Syfy Channel.
Hook — then cook — some if you can.
And remember, fishing isn’t just about fish.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.