The boy is real.
The situation was sad but all too common.
Once upon a time about 8 or 9 years ago there was a young man named Patrick (I never knew his last name) who made a big splash on the various North East local fishing forums scene (no pun intended) for over 3 years. . Patrick was a boy of 16 who lived in or near Fairfield, Connecticut. He attended Fairfield High School at the time, a “college equivalent” high school in his opinion.
Patrick’s fishing forums career started with a bang when he suggested then strongly supported the idea of using 1/0 hooks for fishing live eels (for those not in the know, you’d use at a minimum a 5/0 or 6/0 hook). This earned him a stern scolding from the very people we wanted to associated with and earn their praise. That started his reputation fast.
After that incident one might think he learned a lesson. Of course not.
In the months and years that followed some of his other more notable fishing ideas, suggestions and comments included:
- Kayaking the Race (a body of water East of Orient Pt, NY that is treacherous for boats, deadly for a kayak!).
- Spear fishing for tuna in the Cape Cod Canal.
- Putting rubber cement on the soles of your boots for traction on rocks instead of using Korkers (metal spiked sandals).
- Giving advise on how to outfit an offshore fishing boat based ona handheld GPS demonstration by his high school farm technology teacher.
- Advising on saltwater fly tackle when he had never done saltwater fly fishing, just a little freshwater for sunfish (“How different can it be?” is a direct quote).
- Advising on 4x4 beach buggy driving methods when he didn’t even have a drivers license himself much less a beach buggy.
Along the way young Patrick anointed himself a “master” of just about everything:
- He was a master boat building for making his own kayak that no one ever saw.
- He was a master at repairing marine engines because he once changed the plugs on his uncle’s outboard.
- He was a master fishing rod builder because he claimed to have made his own surf casting rod, which also was never seen by anyone.
- He was a master fly tier in the same ranks as people like Bob Popovics and Lefty Kreh even though he never actual went saltwater fly fishing.
- He was a master bluewater angler even though the farthest he had ever been was a couple of miles out in Long Island Sound.
Personally, while all very entertaining, I didn’t really care much except for the comments that might get someone hurt if followed (like the rubber cement instead of Korkers). For while Patrick knew little of what he wrote about, he did say with a lot of conviction and that might lead some people to have believed he actually knew what he was talking about!
Yup. At the tender age of 16-17-18 Mr. Patrick had done it all from the garden spot and fishing Mecca of the world in Fairfield, CT.
As with any self appointed expert who constantly tooted his own horn, the true authorities in the field called Patrick out on his claims. Patrick withered badly. He rarely posted any pictures of himself, his tackle, his ideas, or his catches on the message boards. Very few people ever actually met him, leading some to believe (probably still to this day) he was a prank someone was playing on the local fishing community. There was a fishing trip organized for a place near Fairfield that Patrick did attend (which wa difficult given he didn’t have a drivers license and car). I was unable to attend unfortunately due to prior commitments. I heard Patrick performance was far from masterful.
In the end he resorted to the last refuge of getting attention – go on the offensive.
He posted many very harsh and critical things about local fishing tackle manufacturers and products. He profaned at anyone who disagreed with him. He made threats of physical violence. He called out many people to meet him and say things to his face they were posting.
This earned him an avalanche of Cease And Desist letters from company lawyers, notices of pending libel and slander suites (at the tender age of 17 he was quite well versed in the laws of libel and slander while most boys his age are better acquainted with cars and girls). There were people who were actively looking for Patrick in the area he lived and not to shake his hand! He did in fact complain that some people had left vulgar graffiti directly mentioning him by name on some park benches in the areas he said he fishes! This was not a good situation for him.
He was banned from nearly every message board on the East coast. Eventually the moderators would give him a second chance along with a warning. Patrick would promise to be good, but then a few weeks later he’d he back at it and get banned again. A cycle was formed.
Finally, perhaps as a last desperate attempt to be seen as a man and not a 17-18 year old boy, young Patrick started to comment on business, politics, family and life in general. As before he always took the side that inflamed others. He disparaged his country, railed against going to college as being useless, how greedy the business world was and he had no chance to make it (a very sad point of view for a young man not even 20 yet), etc etc.
Eventually he just faded off into the sunset and to my knowledge hasn’t been heard from in years. But his legend lives on.
This shouldn’t be taken as light (at least not much). It was really a very sad story. Patrick so desperately wanted to be accepted into the ranks of the hard core surf fisherman. He so much wanted to be the buddy of the 24/7 surf rats, men with twice as much years of fishing experience as he had years of life.
All he did was end up alienating the very people he so desperately wanted the recognition and approval of. Had come into the field more open about his lack of experience and eagerness to learn I’m certain he would have gotten some great advise. Maybe even been taken under the wing of local expert.
I think this is a life story that can apply to many people in many situations.
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