On Fishing With Millennial YouTubers

What happens when an old salt takes an influencer out on the water?
Courtesy Dall-E

Let me be clear about something before I even begin here… Mother nature hates cameras.  

Seriously, she does.  See a whale breach 20 times?  As soon as you get your phone out to record it, she’ll sound.  That tuna blitz that was seemingly non-stop?  Well, if you want to end it for good, stop fishing and take your camera out. 

Yes, of course, I’m kind of kidding.  Over the years I’ve gotten some pretty cool images and a few downright epic videos (for 10 seconds or so anyway). But given how much crazy stuff I’ve seen, it’s such a small amount. There are thousands of videos on the internet that would prove me wrong, but I spend a lot of time on the water every year, and I’d put money on the fact that camera gear kills the life.  

Why do I bring this up?  Last year I got a request from some folks who wanted to book a couple of days for filming.  While my gut was saying “no way, man,” those T-shirts that say “That’s A Terrible Idea. What Time?” Well, they were kinda made for me.  

Still, when the day came, my expectations were uncharacteristically high.  That’s because the fishing had been good.  I mean, like, really good.  We had some extraordinarily large stripers set up on the menhaden schools off of New Jersey.  I’m not talking about your “big” 20- and 30-pounders, I’m talking 40s and 50s, and even a few well north of that.  We’d been on them for a couple of weeks, and the bite had showed no signs of slowing. 

So I said yes. Be at the dock at 4:30am. 

What The Hell is a YouTuber? 

If you’re in your 50s, like me, the term “YouTuber” might be a new one.   Generally, it’s an online personality or “influencer” – mostly of the millennial generation –  who creates and posts instructional and experiential content on YouTube.  Most have their own channels, and some have a LOT of followers.  I’m beginning to fit into that “old dude” classification, so I’m not terribly familiar with that world, nor do I have any particular desire to be part of it, but hey, who doesn’t want to see their ugly mug on TV?  

While I no longer watch fishing shows, I grew up on them.  Even back then my philosophy on fishing programs in general was that it was nothing more, or less, than porn.  If you can get the real thing, then why bother?  But, like porn, they have their place.  So of course, like anything else, I’m gonna roll with it.  

Better Late Than Never

In the usual millennial fashion, said YouTubers were late. Not terribly late, but late enough to where I started the day annoyed. When I tell someone to get there at 4:30, it isn’t just for the hell of it.  I want to be on the grounds at gray light. That’s when the magic happens. 

Before I could even greet these dudes.  I had a bright light in my face and some guy was saying something about a “grumpy, Capt. John.” Now he wasn’t wrong. I’m generally a little less than nice that early in the morning.  Not because the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, but because I’m focused on getting to where we need to be to catch fish.  I’m concentrating on the plan.  And getting a camera shoved in my face, burning more time, was not part of the plan.  

As we got to the grounds the weather was not nice.  Lots of wind, which made finding the bait hard.  And once we found it, it was more-or-less impossible to stay on it.  Having talked up the fishing (ahem, on camera!) the panic crept in, as the curse of the camera began to manifest.  

But I had a plan B, so we went and did that, putting together a good catch of slot sized stripers by throwing plugs and bait up against some rock piles. It was not bad fishing at all. And with every fish, there was an awkward filming sidebar about what we were doing and why.  With each one, I tried to muster up something insightful and profound, but felt pretty sure that nothing I said came out that way.  Because the truth was, I was tired and disappointed, and still focusing on why we were really out there – for a 40 and maybe even a 50. The fish I’d stupidly said were all over the place.    

Bottom of the Ninth

Towards the end of the day and about 15 slot fish later, I was starting to drop signs to these persistent YouTubers that it was time to start heading back.  But they kept saying “one more”.  And they clearly wanted to go back out to where the bunker schools were, to try again to get one of those big girls.  My confidence level was beyond low that this was going to happen.  The wind hadn’t laid down much. Other than a switch in tide, there wasn’t much difference in the conditions.  And as a general rule, late afternoons and early evenings are far less productive than the morning bite we’d blown. 

But if nothing else these guys were extraordinarily persistent, full of the energy of youth.  My phone had died, my wife was clearly pissed that I wasn’t going to be home for dinner, but off we went.  Yeah, it was still ugly, and yeah, it was wet, but the first bunker school we got on? One of those coveted big stripers smashed a live bunker and dumped half the spool on a 6000-series spinning reel.  

Yeah man, we got one! The crew was stoked! I was stoked! High fives all around.

The Next Generation

Yes, maybe we did pull a rabbit out of a hat, despite the cameras being there, but I still feel like filming and fishing just don’t go together.  Like I said, mother nature doesn’t seem to like it, and sometimes shuts off as soon as a camera comes out.  Superstitious?  Maybe, but a part of me wants to believe that she just doesn’t like to be exposed to those who don’t make the time and expend the effort to get out there on their own.  Yeah, I know, that’s probably not true. But in the off chance that it is? I honestly kinda like that about her.

Of course, it’s cool to document a catch with a photo, or an epic blitz or something like that with video. I get that everyone wants to share their experiences and get Instagram likes. I do too.  But I have to admit here that the whole thing where people overlay their reels with some sort of techno or rap music, I find that kinda offensive.  Because in my view, it’s taking extraordinary experiences and greatly cheapening them, and, ahem, that just sucks.    

But, unless you’ve been living in a hole, you probably realize by now that sharing such experiences digitally is really the future of the sport. Those YouTubers are the new Jose Wejebes.  And who am I to get in the way?

Really, if I can manage to look at it all objectively, it’s beneficial.  Because I think such widespread promotion of fishing and all the cool stuff that happens out there gets more people out from behind their machines and on the water.  And that is indeed a good thing, for the resource, which simply needs more people to care about it, and for the human race in general.  

I do want to mention that, in the end, I found these guys were pretty cool.  Annoying millennials? Yes. But about as tough as you can get. They fished hard, even when this grizzled old man was ready to call it quits. They powered through and stuck a good one.  And for that, they certainly have my respect. 

This is, without a doubt, a new and maybe better generation of anglers. And for better or worse, they’re taking over. 

And the revolution will be televised.    

The post On Fishing With Millennial YouTubers appeared first on Salt Water Sportsman.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Generated by Feedzy