Fishing is one of the great pastimes throughout history. Where there’s water, there are fish. Where there are fish, there are anglers. Where there are anglers, there is beer. What does beer have to do with fish, you might ask? Everything. As it turns out, fishing, like baseball, is so boring that beer is required to make it even remotely exciting.
Every year, fishermen in the US alone consume enough beer while fishing to fill 27 olympic sized pools with enough leftover to make the entire city of Boston drunk for the whole week of St. Patrick’s. Sadly, the vast majority of that beer is swill like Budweiser or Miller Lite, but that’s a different article.
Fishing is an addictive activity, much like gambling and for exactly the same reasons. While gambling, the reward center of the brain is triggered when the gambler wins, and those wins are random and completely out of proportion with any perceived risk. Fishing is similar, in that there is no indicator at the moment of the cast whether or not a fish will be caught. When you couple an addictive activity with an addictive substance, you get a recipe for disaster. That’s exactly why casinos give out free booze, and cheap blow can be found within spitting distance.
In a conversation with Dr. Mike Sweeney of the Greater Milwaukee University in Wisconsin, he noted that the reward center of the brain is triggered by utter nonsense.
We find it fascinating that anyone would think any enjoyment could be obtained by fishing. This being the midwest, though, we know all about alcohol and how to use it to mask the pain of living in such a miserable place. With all the alcohol we consume here, I suppose anything could become fun.
He showed us mountains of data that he’s compiled over the years on the link between fishing and alcoholism. Some of the data includes stories about something called ‘ice fishing.’ That’s where people drill a hole in the ice, then drop lines through that hole and wait for fish to swim by. About ice fishing, Dr. Sweeney said,
Yeah, we couldn’t believe it either. Someone actually found a way to make the most boring thing in the world even more boring. If you think normal fishing requires alcohol, this takes it to even more ridiculous levels. These people drink enough to kill a moose, because they have to.
He also gave us some insight into how the addiction process begins. There are essentially two types of ice fishermen. The ones who are fleeing their oppressive marriages and would do literally anything to get out of the house, and their sons.
The addicted sons are the saddest case, because they didn’t earn the addiction. They didn’t get married to a tyrant, like their fathers, and have their dreams crushed. They simply fish / ice fish and drink profusely because their dads did. It’s heartbreaking to see.
He believes that the only real way to curb the process is to introduce children to video games and marijuana so that they will see a positive alternative to fishing.