Did you know that Jared Jeffries hosts a fishing show on the Outdoor Network? He does! It’s called “Modern Fishing With Jared Jeffries” and I watched a whole episode!
I am not the target audience for this program at all. I do like Jared Jeffries, who is now a scout for the Denver Nuggets after an 11-year NBA career notable mostly for the eight gazillion charges he took. He spent his last season with the Trail Blazers, doing good work as a good-feelings locker room leader and vet on a pretty crummy team. I went to the MLK Day game against the Suns or whoever last year and he gave a nice speech about Doctor King, then was playfully razzed about it afterwards. They also quoted him with a nice word design on the program cover, which I couldn’t find even though I usually keep them.
But I DON’T like fishing. First, when I was a kid my parents owned a motorboat (we’re classy people), and whenever we would go out on it I would have a nervous breakdown (I am also scared of roller coasters and driving a car). Second, I am a vegetarian who regards fishing and eating fish as a debased and immoral activity. You sit in open water in complete silence and peace, in light commune with nature, then you puncture that commune with an act of animal cruelty and possibly murder (depending on your adherence to “catch and release” policies.). Not for me, man. I prefer gentler hobbies like avian photography and plant potting.
But I am a journalist, so I will be objective. In the episode I watched, Jared was fishing off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He was looking for tuna, grouper, and sardines. In the first minute of the episode, he meets a stray dog:
Jared hires a guy to drive his boat, a guy who we don’t learn that much about, except that Jared think he’s a great.
In the first five minutes on the trip, Jared hooks a sailfish, a fish that looks like it has a sail.
(Image from National Geographic)
After catching it, Jared releases the sailfish, because sailfish aren’t for eating. Sailfish are for jerking around on a hook to make it fear its own mortality, then letting it live as a sign that human beings, the kings of earth, are merciful masters.
For some reason, all of the fishing action in the show is overlaid with generic rock tracks. I thought that people went fishing to get away from the noise and commotion of modern life, and the noise and commotion of modern rock musak. Jeffries himself even says so! “It’s real relaxing, no cellphone service. It’s amazing.” Why isn’t the Outdoor Channel trying to capture the relaxing feeling of being on the open water instead of forcing fishing into the noisy buzz of modern mass media production?
Speaking of modernity, you may be wondering why this show is called “Modern Fishing.” At first, I thought it should just be called “Fishing With Jared Jeffries,” because Jared isn’t using laser beams or copies of The Waste Land. On the show, Jared only uses plastic artificial lures, which are more modern than worms or flies. I kind of can’t even imagine how these things work, they just look like giant chunks of plastic that make clicking noises and have hooks jutting off of them. Then again, I’m sure these fish have next to no concept of plastic. Do they cover them in artificial fish hormones? We do that with bug traps in the greenhouse I volunteer at. I’m sure that would work. Maybe I should stop giving these fish butchers my awesome ideas.
On the second day of the trip, Jared gets his day started by doing this:
EATING A LIVE SARDINE! They cast out a net, catch some sardines, and Jared just eats one alive as if he were a carnivorous bird! Jared Jeffries is a hypercarnivore who craves warm, living flesh! It wiggles in his mouth and everything!
Today Jared is joined by his “Good friend and fishing fanatic” Adrian Michas, a charismatic young man who also loves fishing. He was so charismatic that I thought he was actually a special guest star from a different fishing show, but nothing really comes up and they do actually have moments of genuine chemistry, so I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Jared describes Adrian with athlete-cliche-speak, saying that Adrian “fishes hard all the time.” Seems like an odd way to describe performing a passive-by-its-nature activity like fishing, but I’ll go along with it.
A few minutes into their day, Jared hooks a fish, the name of which eluded me. It looks to be all caught when Jared says “fish tacos.” The fish then freaks out and, with a burst of panicked strength detaches himself the line. “Woo,” says Adrian. “He heard somebody say fish tacos, he said, ‘I’m outta here.’”
In this brief moment, I gained a degree of relative respect for fishermen. I still think killing fish for sport is a perverse activity, but at least there is a recognition of the animal’s agency at play. The breeding and wholesale slaughter of pigs reduces an intelligent animal that is similar to humans to a product to be manufactured and systematically killed. But fishermen regard a fish, a comparatively alien creature, as a rival and an owner of a say in its own fate. That fish didn’t really hear “fish tacos” and do what had to be done, but Adrian had enough respect for the animal to ascribe that human quality to him. Jared and Adrian also release any fish they don’t regard as worth eating, unlike runt pigs which are killed on the spot because they won’t generate profit for the farmer.
After this, Jared’s boat heads inshore to go looking for roosterfish.
See, looks like a rooster! Adrian gets VERY excited.
On the third and final day of the trip, Jared heads out to a fishing camp on Isabel Island. They catch a few fish, Adrian catches a GIGANTIC Cubera Snapper and talks about how he had the ultimate victory over this fish and now is going to eat him. Jared Jeffries goes through the day in this fishing outfit.
He is fishing in a Jordan Brand long sleeve athletic shirt (he exclusively wears Jordan Brand shirts in the show), a stylish thin cloth neck scarf, and a pair of low-cut Nikes with no socks. This odd fishing getup conjures a thought in the viewer: “Boy, it sure is weird that 11-year NBA journeyman and known clothes horse (“I try to be fashion forward”) Jared Jeffries is hosting a fishing show on the Outdoor Network.” I mean, a football or baseball player, absolutely I can see that. I’m pretty sure that every dumpy baseball player is issued his own fishing show immediately on retirement. We’re all waiting for “Fishin’ With Randy,” the Randy Moss river fishing extravaganza [Ed.’s note: Randy Moss is a well-chronicled lover of fishing]. But basketball is the urban sport! Hip hop! High fashion! Sneakers! David Stern of Scarsdale, New York, commissioner of basketball and member of the Council on Foreign Relations! The league is basically a money printing machine for the democratic party! Meanwhile, this show featured a commercial for a gun company that promoted the aims of the NRA, and another commercial featuring a member of the Duck Dynasty cast! Plus, Jared Jeffries isn’t even famous! I’d bet that 80% of this show’s audience has absolutely no idea who Jared Jeffries is.
But who am I to cast aspersions? In the same interview he says that his current style is “hipster right now,” he mentions that his Indiana childhood was “real country.” This show isn’t just about artificial and exotic fishing locales. It’s about the whole person of Jared Jeffries, a country-boy-turned-urban-basketball-professional who dances between both lives without shame or neurosis regarding the a niche identities that capitalism tries to impose on you. We should all be so open to that sort of broad interest, where one can geek out about fishing lures and basketball shoes in equal measure. “If you get a chance to go somewhere like this, go out, fish, have fun,” says a monologizing Jared to the camera at the end of the episode; “it’s an amazing time.” Jared Jeffries is an inspiration. Go out there and try to have an amazing time, everyone.
I give the show a C-.