Three years ago I started a blog that took on a life of its own. That blossomed into myriad opportunities, meeting tons of people and talking about some of the coolest products on the planet. I’ve traveled thousands of miles to fish, work, write and do all things kayak fishing. I have tried to work hard, earn my place in the blogosphere and help anyone who asked.
Most of the people who read what I write couldn’t pick me out of a lineup. I wish I could meet every single reader, shake their hand and tell them thank you. The support, the clicks, the subscribes and the page views keep me motivated everyday.
As a voice in the industry (a voice, not the voice) I occasionally have to man the pulpit and preach a little bit. I often get burned for doing it but sometimes truth needs to be heard. Today is one of those times.
Kayak fishing is a market that is flooded with new people every single day. In our numbers, some want to remain recreational, some aspire to be professional and a ton of people are somewhere in the middle of that. All of those options are great. This hobby/sport is plenty big for all comers. In the wake of all of this we are lacking. We lack good role models. Don’t get me wrong. There are a few. We need more. We need them in every corner of the world. Anyone can be a role model but we have to discuss what that should look like.
I feel like our sport has drifted into a “Look at Me!” trend. With promotion comes hashtags, links, sharing and all that but at the heart of it, what are we sharing? Are we sharing water safety articles and DIY videos or is it more grip and grins with fish giving credit to companies that make a koozie? I am not saying either is good or bad but too much promotion and not enough community sets a bad example. We need balance.
People with large numbers of followers got there by promotion or position. Neither is a bad thing. Once you sit in the seat, with a captive audience, what you show and tell is now more important than ever. If all we ever see from our role models is check out this picture of me with Product X it eventually becomes consciously or subconsciously how your followers will emulate you. That creates a future that is less concerned with community. That’s not what we should strive for. There is a duty that isn’t talked about enough. We should have balance. Talk about conservation projects you support, help in, work with. Talk about getting groups together to take veterans out or doing a beach cleanup.
I see this in our community and know it exists but it doesn’t seem to be coming from the people with the biggest followings.
Truth be told I awoke to this harsh reality this week. I don’t consider myself a role model but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I talked with a couple of different companies about projects they are working on and it hit me. The amount of giving I have been doing has been minuscule compared to the promotional content (though I’ve admittedly scaled back). That changed this week. Space will be allocated to telling the stories of HOW, Kayak Anglers for a Cause, kid fishing groups, beach cleanups, large scale conservation efforts and more. You will see more and more of this moving forward on the Kayak Fishing Blog as well as in the pages of Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine. I am seeking balance.
If you have a story to tell, a cause that needs to be shared, an event that can help folks, please let me help you get the word out. We need to see the successes of the work so many are doing but that get reported so rarely. We need to see more of this from the leaders of the kayak angling world. We need to show people that kayak angling really is about community and not everything we do is angled to put a buck in our pocket. Lead by example. Help folks out with rigging, loan a kayak, buddy up with a new guy. Be less about self and more about community.
I am going to go take a dose of my own medicine now.