Before you answer that question, consider what the word really means.
If you're reading this, then there's a slim chance you're not a fisherman.
"But Devin, I love fishing for speckled trout and redfish!"
Yes you do! But does that really make you a fisherman?
What is a fisherman?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Definition of fisherman
1 One who engages in fishing as an occupation or pleasure
(Note: For those of you born in the mid-90s, you may be shocked to learn we once looked up definitions in a book. It's called a dictionary. Actually, it kind of shocks me as well.)
Anyways, according to this definition, the moment you cast a line for pleasure (or work) you are a fisherman.
But I still feel the branding is off and doesn't apply to those of us who pursue specks and reds with rod and reel.
What the hell are you talking about, Devin?
There is another word that better describes who we are. That's angler.
Definition of angler
1 One who fishes with hook and line, especially for pleasure
And from Dictionary.com
1 a person who fishes with hook and line
2 a person who gets or tries to get something through scheming
Number one is accurate. Number two is arguably more accurate.
We are Anglers
I'm an angler.
Specifically, an inshore angler.
If you are reading this, then you most likely are as well.
We fish with hook and line, rod and reel.
Not nets, traps or dredges.
So what's a fisherman?
In my eyes, a fisherman is a person who fishes for a living.
I do not fish for a living, so I am not a fisherman.
That title belongs to the men and women who bust their ass everyday, despite the conditions, to pay their bills.
Their ability to catch is directly tied to their survival.
So, it's sort of off-putting for a pale-skinned weekend warrior, brand new to the dock, to say he's a "fisherman", when he is only there for eight hours on Saturday.
Both are Special
The bayou loses it's luster and begins meaning something else when banter and beer-drinking are not involved.
Commercial fishermen have this perspective, and an appreciation, for Louisiana's wetlands most will never have.
On the other side of the coin, inshore fishing means something to an inshore angler that commercial fishermen sometimes fail to grasp, watering it down to "playing with your food".
I have a love and respect for both groups.
Part of that respect is calling them by their rightful name.
What do you think? Comment below.