By Rex DelRey DeGuzman
In all fairness, I think it’s actually cool that kids (and grown-ass people) are out and about chasing these Pokemons with their phones. Getting outdoors and a little exercise is always a great thing.
On the other hand, you’re still viewing life through a screen. Many people’s reality has become “virtual”, when the reality is available just outside their doors. It reminds me of a conversation I had by a campfire.
She looked up at the stars and geeked out.
“It’s like HD.” She said.
I laughed. “This is what HD is trying to be. This is the ‘Definition’ of what ‘High Definition’ is trying to display.” We both laughed.
On the same token, this is how I feel about Pokemon Go. For many people who love to fish, this passion to catch fish is the same drive that has lead millions of people into the streets chasing Pokemon. Except, we can eat these fish (if we so choose) and being able to catch food is a valuable skill, if not one of the most important skills.
Hai Truong has been playing this game since 1982, when he caught his first largemouth bass – he’s been on the hunt ever since. His playing field is primarily all of metro Miami, then the surrounding areas and beyond. He’s a land-based fishing guide whose specialty is peacock bass and exotics. He’s got secret spots, hundreds of them. Here’s how it works…you hop in his ride, listen to music or talk about the target fish, and with the AC on full blast you tour Miami in search of of his favorite Pokemon, the peacock bass.
Peacock bass are actually not related to bass at all, but are in the Cichlid family and originally native to Brazil (pronounced like “Sick-Lid”, NOT “Chick-Lid”). Originally introduced to Florida to control other invasive species like oscars and spotted tilapia – they are thriving in the Miami canal system. They’re considered a prized gamefish now and highly sought after “Pokemon” for their vibrant color and aggressive nature. Bigger peacock bass are harder to find and catch, smaller ones are fairly common.
The recent Pokemon craze has given anglers like myself an easy analogy to explain fishing in general, but the urban fishing lifestyle that Hai Truong introduced me to is the ultimate Pokemon metaphor.
Look, I’ve never played Pokemon, not now or even back in the day. I’m too busy playing real Pokemon – fishing! But back in the day, my nephews had cards everywhere and those cartoons were always on. So, I get it to a certain extent – each Pokemon has their own personality, powers and characteristics. This is how anglers understand their fish and we use our knowledge of the fish to target and capture them.
Miami is filled with Pokemon, I mean fish – and Hai knows where they’re at. “Pond hopping” is not new, but pond hopping fishing in south Florida is radically different, due to the variety of fish that can literally be found in any ditch, canal or pond. Finding the bigger fish based on the conditions and the season is where his expertise shines. Just like any guide, Hai knows his spots and what’s producing and when. Instead of a boat, he’s got his SUV. Instead of open flats and bays, he’s got all of Miami to cover by road (and offroad).
Filming and editing this adventure was tough, we had one camera on the ActionHat and a second as a backup. We were constantly running and gunning, shooting and fishing really fast and on to the next spot. I also had to be conscious of not showing too much and potentially revealing spots. Finding these spots and knowing these techniques is his livelihood – but beyond that, it’s a matter of a deep respect for the enjoyment of the hunt.
It’s become an all too common question on social media when people post pictures with fish… “Where? Where did you catch it?”
“Where” is everything man, “where” IS the game we play.
Fishing with Hai and urban fishing in general is a definitely a #LIVELIVENOW activity. The hunt puts you in the moment, in the present and the catch makes you feel alive with a real sense of satisfaction. You are learning a real skill here.
Trips like this bring about a great perspective: there’s #AdventureAhead around every corner, in any ditch or pond – and if you really get into the game you could find yourself catching a Pokemon of a lifetime.