How to Be a Fish Bum

Quit your job and just go fish­ing. It’s worked out for these six dream-liv­ing guys


You know those bumper stick­ers that read “I’d rather be fish­ing”? These six guys don’t need them, be­cause they’re out fish­ing while you’re cooped up in the of­fice. Don’t be jeal­ous, though. Their sto­ries might in­spire you to throw it all away and live hook­set to hook­set.

It’s Mon­day morn­ing. Af­ter five hits of the snooze but­ton, you fi­nally get up. Maybe you start scrolling through Instagram over your rushed cup of cof­fee. Maybe you look at Face­book while on the toi­let. Or per­haps the first half hour of your ac­tual work­day con­sists of so­cial me­dia catch-up be­fore you start do­ing the ac­tual work some­one is pay­ing you to do. It makes no dif­fer­ence. Within the first few swipes of your finger, he’ll be there, post­ing a sun­rise-over-the-wa­ter shot cap­tioned “an­other day at the of­fice.” By the time you grab your bag lunch from the break room fridge, he’ll have bagged an­other trout, or small­mouth, or cat­fish. He is the fish bum. He’s the guy that—whether by pro­fes­sional or lifestyle choice—is al­ways on the wa­ter while you are not. He’s tied in when you’re tied up. He’s the guy you love to hate, be­cause he’s the guy you’d love to be.

Or would you?

To be a true fish bum, fish have to come first. That means things like a steady pay­check, health ben­e­fits, or a so­cial life come sec­ond. Ask your­self: Do I like eat­ing Ra­men noo­dles? Am I okay with driv­ing a truck that could die at any sec­ond? Could I han­dle the pres­sure of putting pay­ing cus­tomers on fish day in and day out? If you an­swered yes to any of these ques­tions, you might have what it takes to live this lifestyle. If you’re still on the fence, we tracked down six die-hard fish bums from across the coun­try to find out what it’s re­ally like liv­ing hook­set to hook­set. They’ve quit steady jobs to stay on the bite, schlepped across the globe to keep lines tight, and down­right hus­tled to stay bent. Do you make more money than them? Prob­a­bly, but they’re hav­ing a hell of a lot more fun.

Flat­head ad­dict Matt Crowe waits for a pickup on the Ohio River in Pitts­burgh, Pa.

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