A while back someone sent me an article about fishing, and it contained a statement about a survey that had been conducted among, most likely, rural folks. According to this article, more people would rather their child grow up to have their own fishing show on television than to be president of the United States.Now, I’m not saying city people are dumb, just because they’d probably rather their child become president than a professional fisherperson. But still, you have to admit it shows poor parenting. There is no comparison when you consider the fun factor, and it would be pretty hard for anyone, republican or democrat, to claim any president does half as much good for the country as a pro basser.A friend who works for Hummingbird in Eufala, Alabama, once told me about his trip home from the Bass Master’s Classic fishing tournament several years ago. He and a few other Hummingbird reps had fishing shirts done up just like the pros, with company logos embroidered all over them, to wear while they were representing Hummingbird at the Classic.On their way home, still wearing the shirts, they stopped at an Appleby’s to eat. People started coming to their table, asking them to sign autographs. My friend tried to tell these people they weren’t pro bass fishermen, but they were insistent. So they started signing autographs. For an hour people kept coming, having them sign hats, shirts, napkins, wallets, shoes, belts, socks, and whatever else they could find.I ask you, does the president have that kind of fun? He does not. Plus he doesn’t get to fish near as much. So comparing being president to being a pro bass angler is like comparing being a Wall Street stockbroker to being an Alaskan bush pilot. Given that choice, what sane person would choose Wall Street?What we’re really talking about here is quality of life, which is about a bazillion times more valuable than money. Getting to spend your time outdoors, doing something fun and relaxing, is far more enjoyable than being cooped up in an office, taking over corporates and cutting throats, or whatever Wall Street people do all day.Which is why I’m envious of my friend, Cody Ryan Greaney. Cody is only about 27, but he’s already figured out which things are important in life. Cody is a professional bass fisherman.When he was just about big enough to use for bait, Cody’s dad, TJ, started taking him fishing, and he loved it. No surprise there. He grew up on a 16-foot bass boat, and now it’s difficult to have a conversation with him that doesn’t concern fishing. He’s eat up with it.Ask Cody about bicycles, and he’s liable to say, “When I was a kid I used to ride my bike to a creek (or lake or river or bathtub) to fish.” Ask him about computers, and he’ll tell you about the best fishing websites and forums. As far as Cody’s concerned, there’s nothing that doesn’t relate to fishing one way or another. If Cody’s awake, he’s either fishing, or guiding a fishing trip, or talking about fishing. Unless he’s eating, in which case he’s probably eating fish.Personally, I attribute Cody’s personality and outlook to good parenting. A kid that grows up with a love for fishing spends less time playing video games and watching television than average and, without question, it makes him or her a better person. I’m sure there are those who disagree with me, and they’re wrong.Cody Ryan, as everyone on the fishing circuit calls him, fishes two tournament trails, and he’s as nice a fellow as you’ll ever meet. He’s clean cut, well mannered, friendly, and personable, while being fiercely competitive. You don’t learn that from a video game.Cody is also involved in Kid’s Outdoor Zone, a program TJ started to help underpriviledged children learn about the outdoors. It’s mostly for kids who don’t have a man in their life who can be a mentor, and the program is changing lives. They take the kids hunting, fishing, and camping, and they do it in a Christian atmosphere.The KOZ summer fishing camps are going on right now on Lake Buchanan (July 4-9 for girls, and July 10-16 for boys). It’s not easy to ride herd on a bunch of kids on a lake for a week, but TJ and Cody have more patience than the average bear.This August 12 Cody and his friend, Chris Roberts, will put on their Third Annual Dell Children’s Medical Center Fishing Event at Dell Children’s Hospital. It’s a fantastic opportunity for kids to get some hands-on instruction in fishing and kayaking. Game wardens, pro anglers, and other volunteers answer questions and offer casting lessons, and the kids get to compete in games and even catch catfish out of a huge tank. The Dell folks say it’s the biggest and best event they hold each year.TJ and Cody also host a radio program on ESPN Austin 104.9 FM on Saturday mornings from six to eight a.m. called The Outdoor Zone. The format is not just fishing, as TJ manages to get Cody to talk about other stuff sometimes, but this time of year, what else are you going to talk about? Personally, I’d a lot rather my sons ended up with their own bass fishing show than be president, too. Very few pro anglers get shot at, you’re not out of a job every four years, and you can keep doing it a lot longer. Plus nobody gets mad if you don’t catch the fish they wanted you to, and pro bassers don’t have to wear suits and ties.They say a bad day fishing is better than a good day working, and I’m sure that’s true. But then people like Cody Ryan never have bad days. At least, they never have to invade other countries . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who wants to host his own writing show on television. It would be very dull. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org