Don't Be "That" Guy by Jason Renfro

For the sake of political correctness, and because of statutory obligations here in the state of California, let me first state for the record that you don’t need to be a guy to be That Guy; ladies, you have the ability to be That Guy as well as the next man does, even if you are That Girl. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Who is That Guy?  If you are not a completely solitary misanthropic solipsist angler, you’ve probably fished with That Guy and will recognize my descriptions thereof.  That Guy is a person who manifests while on a fishing outing one or both of two common, yet unpleasant, personality traits: “one-upperism”, and/or “whinerosity”. 

One-upperism is exemplified by statements of self-aggrandizement regarding fishing prowess or the results of said prowess.  For example, while witnessing a perfectly adequate or even excellent cast, a “one-upperist” might, without invitation, say, “If you just stop your rod a little more succinctly you’ll get another 5 feet out of your cast.”  When this statement comes from a “one upper”, it is not meant to actually help you with a cast that needs no help.  Its understood intent is to make it clear that the person stating it has a superior knowledge of casting and you should be grateful that you brought him along on your fishing trip to help you out.  (Now this statement if in a different context, such as one where you are on a lawn and had paid this person to help you with your cast, and this person was actually a caster of a great enough skill to actually help improve your cast, would be warranted and indeed welcome.)  This statement while fishing and coming from a caster who only imagines a superior skill level, can only come from That Guy. (Really, even if that statement comes from and excellent caster, when it is un-asked-for and during actual fishing, is really pretty annoying.) 

Another version of the “one-upper” is the excessively competitive angling companion.  That Guy is the one who, no matter what angling results you are having that day, is either having better results and makes sure you are aware of that fact, or has had many days of angling with far better results than those you are currently enjoying, and also lets you know that fact. 

Now I enjoy a good playful jab as much as the next ‘Merican.  The art of the subtle friendly undercut is a skill for which a lifetime of practice is an enjoyable activity, (like a lifetime of practicing the accordion isn’t).  For instance when your companion catches a nice fish, an appropriate comment might be that the fish would be a bit nicer if it only had fewer lesionous spots, or could somehow seek treatment for it’s apparent anorexia.   This kind of repartee is good-natured and in no way gloating or an attempt to elevate one’s sense of self-worth by denigrating another’s.   It is therefore acceptable. 

You probably can already guess what “whinerosity” might be.  This version of That Guy definitely bugs me as much if not more than the “one-upper”, who bugs me a lot. This That Guy is also known in some regions as The Pouter.   

We all have tough days on the water.  Whether it’s because your normally exceptionally elegant and adroit casting has become artlessly spastic and epileptic, or you’ve gotten water in your waders twice, urine even once, or you caught ten beautiful trout that last trip here but only two mudskippers today, etc., none of those things qualify as justifications for not enjoying your time on the river.  And even if you have a bizarre pathological need to feel bad on a fishing day, don’t compound your sociopathic tendencies by inflicting them on your companions.  Don’t do it.  Bad form. 

Either one of these personality traits result in an internal dialogue that goes something like…”Note to self: “never again!" 

Finding a fishing partner who shares your pace and vibe is ideal.  That said, some of the best days on the water I can recall weren’t necessarily those where the fishing was the best.  The interaction with those around us can be equally and often more enriching.  I’ve been blessed to fish with a lot of different people and hope to continue receiving that blessing.  If I’m ever lucky enough to fish with you, don’t be That Guy.  

It’s hard not to sound like a bitter, mean-spirited turd when describing these versions of That Guy, which brings me to the third version of That Guy, the “Mean Spirited Turd”…