No not the felt-tipped marker but the endearing term bestowed upon the angler of exceedingly above-average abilities. I do not know the origins of this term, but I am sure that it has been around for a lot longer than I. Too often these days one gets labeled a sharpie all too quickly and quite often undeservedly so. Smoke and mirrors go a long way to making false prophets and fake deities in the fishing community. Further, internet heroes abound these days. Fortunately for us all, in the end their true colors shine through and they are exposed for what they really are; I’ve seen it 100 times.
First and foremost, let’s just establish that you can not crown yourself with this title. You can only wear such a badge of honor if it was presented to you by another angler; better yet by a group of your peers. One who sets forth on the water the singular goal of becoming a sharpie is destined for failure from day one. The process is organic and can not be forced.
Respect is both given to and expected of a sharpie. Respect for both those that have come before and laid the groundwork for your success coupled with respect for the fishery, fellow anglers and those that will follow in your footsteps. Lose sight of this, or lose the respect of your peers, and so goes the title. A sharpie does not brag about his or her accomplishments as there is no need. Others will take notice and your name will be uttered in the back rooms of tackle shops and around the ice box of the local marina. Make the advance to super-sharpie and your name will grace the lips of anglers up and down the coast. Perhaps this is more a curse than a blessing; can a super-sharpie ever fish alone? Would they choose to do so?
A sharpie is not always the one with the biggest fish on the weigh slips every day. Instead, this title is bestowed upon an angler that continues, day in and day out, to perform far above the curve. While this will oftentimes result in some of the largest fish coming to net, they are far more likely to be the one taking quality fish while others lament of poor catches or fishless hours on the water.
Luck plays only a small part in their success, the balance being made up by natural-born skills and knowledge learned over the years. A sharpie will often have a certain connection with their quarry that others do not possess. This is not something that can be taught to a sharpie-in-training, it is something one is either born with or not.
There is no race, sex or fishing style that is associated with the title. There are sharpies in all forms of angling styles and target species. Being a boat sharpie for striped bass does not automatically make one high-hook on a trout stream, or vice-versa. However, a sharpie can quite often transfer their abilities in one form of angling success to that of another with far less of a learning curve than the average angler. Again, this goes back to that innate ability to catch fish.
So, are you are sharpie? Do you strive to be one or are you simply in it for the love of the game? Whatever the reason you fish, respect the fishery and enjoy your time on the water.