Sticks and Stones

I’ve been blogging here at Inside Line for nearly a decade, and it’s rare that I take the time to step back and assess what this forum has meant to my writing career. Nearly everything good that has happened to me since that beginning stems either directly or indirectly from this space. For example, I’d covered an Elite Series tournament for B.A.S.S. in 2007, but it wasn’t until I repeatedly blogged about controversial issues here that B.A.S.S. made space for me to produce similar work in their world. Similarly, many of my non-bylined works, including press releases and catalog copy for a wide range of companies (mostly fishing-related, but not exclusively – this year I did some work for a pet crematorium) came about because of contacts I developed here.

My goal here has been to write about things that others don’t, or in a manner that they haven’t been addressed previously. As noted above, that has produced a lot of positive outcomes, but it hasn’t been all rainbows and giggles. Along the way I’ve occasionally pissed off fishing organizations, professional anglers, media figures and a wide range of fishing fans. Sometimes their assessments of my work have been accurate. On a handful of occasions, after they’ve registered their criticisms, I’ve modified or retracted my statements, or even removed the column entirely.

Those editorial decisions have been entirely mine. While the crack editing-slash-corporate-wholesomeness team of Heidi Roth and Ron Colby have occasionally suggested that I change a word or a phrase to make my writing more ready for prime time, they’ve always given me freedom to publish the more controversial stuff, even when feelings have been hurt. You might say that they’ve given me enough rope to hang myself, but I don’t see it that way – the name of the game in any endeavor is to distinguish yourself, and they’ve never been afraid to give me the space to let my freak flag fly. That’s particularly tough in the fishing industry, where caution is everyone’s middle name, and those who take risks are often shunned. They’ve never discouraged me from addressing a topic, or pressured me to do something specifically because it’ll benefit the company’s bottom line. I hope that they know that I appreciate their continued backing, both express and implied. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t think of another company in the industry that would give me this kind of space, let alone the unconditional support that they’ve supplied for nearly 10 years.

Is that a reason for you to buy more Yamamoto baits? Probably not – I think you should buy them because they catch lots of fish – but it tells you what type of people staff the company, and that they see their role as broader than just selling plastic.