All of us media folks make mistakes from time to time; heck, if you saw the August edition, I mistakenly put my friend Walt Fisher’s rosefish photo under a tilefish headline. But the consistency at which mainstream reporters botch fish stories makes me wonder how many things they get wrong on subjects I actually don’t know as much about.
Cases in point; in July, a pretty large ray – looked like a cownose – washed up along a New York beach with significant bites taken out of each wing. NBC news out of Manhattan ran with the online headline, Chomped-On Skate Washes Ashore, misidentifying the species. Days later, another NYC reporter interviewed a college student who caught a massive bull shark in the Long Island surf and described the teenager as a “tiger shark fisher” (all together now, “a what?”)
To be clear, the kid who caught the bull shark was not a “tiger shark” fisher, though presumably had the reporter gotten her species correct (sand tigers being protected species) it may have gotten the young surfcaster in hot water. And when did we start referring to everyone as fishers anyway? By definition, a fisher is a fur-bearing mammal similar to a weasel. Sure, there’s the biblical passage in Mark 1:16–18 where Jesus tells Simon and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men,” but that only leads to the question, what about fishers of women? I asked a few lady anglers on Facebook recently – fisher or fisherman – and got some good advice.
“Fisher sounds ridiculous. Fisherman is fine with me,” responded Colleen Shea who added that she is “Confident enough in who I am that all the PC stuff doesn’t faze me. I just want to be out there.”
“Tough one, but I don’t like fisher, sounds a bit off, but when someone asks what I like to do, I say I’m a fisherman or I like to fish,” Melissa Toro posted, saying she also prefers the term lady angler. “If this is all about being gender neutral appropriate then angler is the logical answer,” responded Sharon Otto, adding “But I will still refer to myself as a fisherman or fisherwoman but not a fisher nor lady angler.”
“Fisherman 100%,” said Missy Alcorn. “Don’t change the name, don’t give me special treatment. Just let me do my thing to the best to my ability…fishing!”
“Oh honey, fisherWOMAN, fisherwomen,” said noted South Jersey surfcaster Reggi Vasta. It was also fisherwoman for Lisa Buchman Presutto, as well as for Cyndi Johnston who also added “in my case lady Captain as I own and operate my own fishing boat by myself.”
“I’ve never thought of it until you said it,” posted Bev Osborn Gallant who comes from a long line of Barnegat Light fishing folk. “I would still say fisherman. Lady Angler when it’s a tournament based on that,” Bev said, adding “everyone is so politically correct and uber-sensitive these days no matter what someone will have something to say.”
“I’m one heck of a fisherman,” said Rita Praught Pickert who accompanied her post with a photo of fresh tuna on deck. Honestly, the preference for most of the ladies who responded was in fact fisherman. “I call myself a fisherman,” said Ava Elizabeth, as did another “savage” South Jersey angler, Kirsten Holloway.
For what it’s worth, my mother, my wife and my 21-year-old progressive-minded daughter all agreed with fisherman. On the other hand, my buddy Walt’s wife, Kim Fisher, had a slightly different take. “I guess fisherman since I’m already a Fisher.”
Good to know, The Fisherman is still the magazine title for most everyone who fishes!