I’ve been a faithful fishing magazine subscriber for nearly 40 years, and while the web gets bigger and the page count gets smaller, I’m addicted enough that I’ll continue to pile on the paper for the foreseeable future.
Some things are better about today’s mags, and some things are in decline, but the one thing I miss the most doesn’t relate to content at all. Nor does it have anything to do with the big glossy ads debuting the newest rods and reels or the fastest Hydroblaster bass boats. My biggest regret is what has come to the back pages, the Classified and advertising section.
It didn’t matter whether it was Bassmaster, Outdoor Life or Field & Stream, they all had those couple of spreads jam-packed with quarter, eighth and sixteenth of a page ads promising far-flung adventures. Whether you wanted to ride a float plane into Canada or test the weedy waters of Okeechobee, there was someone enticing you to get there soon while the getting was good. I even remember one iconic ad for Mexico’s Lake Guerrero promising 100 bass a day and showing two gringos holding up stringers that seemed to prove their point. For a kid like me, who hadn’t fished much, and only a little outside of his home state, those pages promised adventures beyond imagination.
Today we have much more information at our fingertips. Each of the would-be advertisers has their own website and probably a Tripadvisor page as well. You can watch YouTube videos until your eyes glaze over, to the point that you know more about the Seychelles or Patagonia or Great Bear Lake before you get there than most of the natives do. Nevertheless, all of that “more” seems to equate to a bit of “less” – less exotic, less surprise. I certainly don’t want to be a less-informed consumer, but as our world shrinks and I travel more it’s getting harder to replicate that same sense of mystery, and it feels like a distinct loss.