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Fishing for Fun and Profit
by Stephen King

As the weather warms, a good portion of the American population takes to the rivers, lakes, and streams in search of “the big one”. If you are a reasonably good fisherperson and a reasonably good writer person, you can combine the two into one very good moneymaking scheme. Namely, you can go fishing and then write about how you caught “The Big One”. Or, more often perhaps, how “The Big One” got away. This can help offset the cost of your trip. And, perhaps, as your prowess at both increases, so will your bottom line. (The one on your checkbook. Not the fishing line you leave on the bottom of the river in search of that catfish.)

Personally, when I got into writing, I did the “write what you know” thing. Namely, I looked around at things I was interested in, understood reasonably well, and had at hand. Living in an isolated rural area, I did not find the Metropolitan Opera just down the street. What I did find was a lot of recreational area. Hunting, fishing, motor sports, and all the rest. Also, in growing up in this area, I did a lot of all the aforementioned. So, after taking some classes with the local college, my first queries were to magazines that featured things like hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.

My first submission of this type was to a snowmobile magazine. A well read regional mag. Our town happened to be having a snowmobile show. And, as I was the closest thing to a “real writer” in town, it fell to me to do publicity. So, I sent a query. And, wonder of wonders, they gave me a chance. A couple years later and I was able to quit the day job. Didn’t actually have one, but it sounds good anyway.

Now, as mentioned, I also love to fish. So, right after my first success, I sent a query to another outdoor magazine. This time one specializing in hunting and fishing. They too bought my query.

That was 15 years ago. Since that time, I have gone on countless snowmobile trips, fished a whole lot of lakes and rivers, and actually made money doing this. Also, that thing about all those free rooms and other goodies working writers get. Not completely all fiction. I have actually stayed in very nice motels and resorts and eaten a whole lot of tasty grub. On the house.

But, not free. When you take a free room or a free meal, those giving it are not just being nice. They are expecting something in return. A story. With them in it most often. That goes to a different set of ethics. However, what I’m getting at is that you really can have a good time and get paid for it. Just like in all those ads.

Now, myself, I sell mostly to outdoor magazines. However, that is not the only place you can sell stories about fishing. Say, you take the kids along. Now, it becomes a “family vacation.” A photo and story of how little Billy or Betty caught all these panfish off the dock behind the summer cabin is a great angle for publications that are not traditional hunting and fishing type magazines. (Trade secret here: There are a lot more people that are marginal or beginner fisherpersons than are touring pros. And, they love to read stories about people just like them, who don’t “catch the big one” every time out.)

So, as you’re planning out your summer vacation, plan on not leaving your writing at home. Take it with you. Bring the camera. Take some fun family photos. Write down your experience. And, send off queries to any publication that even remotely may have an interest. Next thing you know, you’re looking at a paycheck. Then, a bit further down the road, you’re calling resorts and booking vacations on their dime. And, getting a paycheck at the end of it. Not bad at all.

Now, in addition to being a reasonably good writer and reasonably good whatever else. One more piece of advice is to join a writers group specializing in outdoor writing. Personally, as I live in Michigan, I joined Michigan Outdoor Writer’s Association as soon as they would have me. Going to their meetings gave me a lot of story ideas. But, more importantly, I got some excellent face to face time with editors and publishers. And, a few weeks later, when I called in that story idea, I was not just another voice on the phone (or e-mail contact). I was the person that sat across from them at dinner. Or, had fun with on some outing or another. You get the picture.

Overall, writing has to be the best occupation ever created. Where else can you go out and have a great time and then get paid to share that experience with others. Beats the heck out of a real job, I always say.

© Copyright 2009, Stephen King

Stephen King was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He has written hundreds of articles and had hundreds of photos published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. However, he has become most known for his articles on snowmobiling as well as his work for hunting and fishing magazines. He still lives on the shore of Lake Michigan in the Indian fishing village in which he was raised.

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