Jurassic Mistake?


One of my favorite movie lines comes from the original Jurassic Park where Dr. Ian Malcolm famously exclaims “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not that could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” This classic rebuke was pointed at Jurassic Park founder John Hammond and his scientists regarding the ethics of resurrecting extinct dinosaurs. The essence of Dr. Malcolm’s question is just as relevant today as it was in 1993. Our fascination with technology can be blinding, and without reflection has the capacity for tragic consequences. As our industry clamors for the next vision system, autopilot, or other microchip-enabled tackle, will technology inadvertently destroy what we love most about fishing?

If you are like me, your love for fishing was born out of wonderment. As a child, I would pour through every encyclopedia and book I could find filled with great questions. Are there man-eating sized catfish below the dam? Were there ever pike that grew over 100 pounds? Are those legendary black and white photos of alligator gar real? These fish filled my dreams and helped fuel my childhood interest in fishing. Even today, there isn’t a pond or puddle where I don’t wonder if there is surprise lurking under the surface.

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Imagine a day when all those childhood questions and mysteries are settled by technology. A remote-operated submersible has proved definitively there are no 5-pound bass in your neighborhood pond. The last world-record muskie was methodically stalked and fatally caught in Green Bay with the aid live scanning technology. Every fisherman romanticizes “one last cast” hoping there is a trophy to be caught at the buzzer. Imagine the day when technology informs you there are no trophies to be found and one last cast is pointless. Regardless of whether you wanted those answers or not, imagine your remaining fishing mysteries evaporating in posts and feeds from an endless social media stream.

As new technologies emerge, we need to ask whether the end game enriches what we love most about fishing. Do we need more YouTube videos of someone fishing through an LCD screen laser locked on their live scan? Are submersible predator drones the future of fishing? Regardless of what you may feel, where is the inertia of our sport and broader culture taking us? In a world with few pleasant surprises, perhaps it’s best we leave space for some unknowns, legends and mysteries. It’s not too late to heed Dr. Ian Malcolm’s call and ask the timeless question, what “should” we be doing. Will technology enrich our sport or prove to be a Jurassic mistake?