Rodney King said it best: "Can't we all just get along?"
"We," in this case, refers to people who fish. We enjoy a common pastime, but we spend far too much time criticizing each other.
Spend five minutes examining the posts on just about any Internet fishing forum, and chances are you'll come across at least one flame war.
A common example: Fellow catches a nice trout on a spinner, photographs his catch and posts a photo online. Within minutes - sometimes within seconds - someone puts up a post that reads, "What?!! You used a treble hook? Don't you know that treble hooks can cause fish mortality? Have you no decency, man? No care for the resource?!!"
And that's an example of a tame response. The flames really get intense if someone (horrors!) uses live bait or (cardiac arrest!) keeps a bass or a trout for the dinner table.
For crying out loud, people, it's only a pastime.
Fishing is supposed to be recreation - a way for us to leave the workaday world behind. When I grab a rod and head for the water, my goals are simple: To spend some time away from cameras and computers and telephones, to get some fresh air and maybe to catch a fish or two.
I fish with the tackle best suited to the task. For trout, that usually means a fly rod - but I'd happily grab a spinning rod and sling PowerBait if I thought that would work better. When I fish for bass, it's almost always with spinning or bait casting gear. My preferred bait for channel catfish is chicken liver.
Crappies go bonkers for live minnows. By the way, so do trout and bass. Yes, you read right; the man who owns 14 fly rods deliberately uses minnows to catch trout or bass when the spirit moves him to do so.
If this horrifies anyone, let me offer some timeless advice from Sgt. Hulka, the drill sergeant in "Stripes":