Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
September 12, 2012

Andy Whitcomb

The Real Thing

Photo Credit: OK Dept of Wildlife Conservation


Today is “National Video Game Day.”  And though seemingly polar opposites, fishing video games are surprisingly popular. These virtual fish are always biting and can be caught any time of day or season in the climate controlled comfort of indoors.

For youngsters some video games are very simple. One lets a player dangle a bare hook until a smiling, aimlessly wandering cartoon fish makes the controller buzz.  A quick jerk and the fish is caught to the strumming of a harp and immediately converted to a point value.

Older players may appreciate computer games where programmers have tried to incorporate more realistic features. Variables such as time of year, weather conditions, location and type of cover help set the stage. The player then selects a rod and reel combination, line weight, lure, and targets the cast. Success is determined partially by these selections, but also by controlling the rod tip, drag settings, and monitoring line tension.

Daniel Griffith, Aquatic Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, assists with a fishing simulator at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo (Sept. 28-30). Here, kids (and adults) sit in a fighting chair and get to hold and work an actual rod and reel as a fish on a screen seems to take line and bend the pole.  Mr. Griffith says by “feeling the tug of a fish, it accomplished the goal of creating an experience that wants them coming back for more or wanting to do the real thing.”

And that’s what it is all about.  Even if holding an actual rod and reel, no flickering screen will ever be able to compete with the powerful experience of really getting on the water and fishing.

My kids have several fishing video games but unless a thunderstorm, blizzard, or trapped on a long car ride, the games collect dust. They get so jazzed after playing a fishing video game, that tackle boxes appear and get sorted.  Again. Lure trades are made. And I have to go punch some holes in ice to have open water to cast– for real.

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at

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