Drunken Fishermen: An Outdated Stereotype

There are some unofficial rules for bloggers. One of those rules, which I’ve mentioned before, is that one really shouldn’t work on her blog when she has other writing to do.

Another rule is that it’s a good idea to not state too many of your own opinions.

I’m ignoring both of those rules today because I recently came across a story that bugged me so much that I have to write and tell you why. 

Actually, it wasn’t even the story that bugged me. It was the opening paragraph, which I found so annoying that I didn’t read past it.

Some background: A few years ago I was in a writing group with some guys and gals whom I met while taking classes at the University of Washington. The group was a talented and intelligent bunch: writers, artists, filmmakers. We ranged in age from 26 to over 40 and got together once a week to do some practice writing and share publishing opportunities.

The other night, I thought it would be fun to google the name of one of the gals in the group and see where she’d been published since the group disbanded. She’d been an overseas government employee prior to having children later in her life, and her writing platform was based primarily on what it was like making the transition from big-time government job to stay-at-home mommy.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that my platform was, and still is, writing about commercial fishing and fishing families. 

I was happy to see in my search of my old friend that she had been published in a couple of magazines and even won a pretty nice award. I clicked on some of her work, and that’s when I found the annoying first paragraph.

I don’t want to get into any Internet copyright issues so I can’t quote it word for word, but the story was, in part, about a bar in King County that hosted a punk band to support a pro-choice fundraiser one night and to sell their c.d.

Certainly not my cup of tea, but let’s stay focused.

In the opening paragraph, my old friend writes that the crowd that showed up at the bar that particular night was different from the “usual clientele” of “drunken fishermen” and guys pulled in by the promise of “cheap beer” and a “loud band.”

Instead, she writes, that night the bar was packed with 30-and 40-year-old women and mothers guzzling their own beer, swaying, laughing, and shouting. 

Now, that really isn’t my cup of tea.

(And it begs the question: Are drunken 40-year-old mothers really a cut above drunken fishermen? It wouldn’t seem so.)

Here are my real questions, though: How does she know the bar is normally filled with drunken fishermen? Does she know them? Is she at the bar at the same time? My husband asked a good question: How does one decipher the fishermen from the non-fishermen? Further, what exactly are these drunken fishermen fishing for in the waters outside of Seattle when they aren’t drunk at the bar?  

Okay, I’m a little sensitive. (Okay, a lot sensitive). But I’ve associated with fishermen my entire life, from Dutch Harbor to Ketchikan to Bellingham to Westport. I’ve known and interviewed so many of them, from greenhorn crewmembers, to owners of multi-million dollar fishing companies, to captains who keep their crews alive in the Bering Sea season after season. 

I don’t like to see people from my community lumped into some old, used-up stereotype.  

I’m surprised at my friend, who must have forgotten an important rule of good writing: Avoid Cliches. They don’t lend one’s writing much credibility.

Most of the fishermen I know who enjoy a night out at the bar aren’t into cheap beer and loud bands, anyway.

They’re into microbrews and a game of pool.  


  1. How’d she know?

    As a former drunken fisherman I clued her in.

    Google Tacora.

    Click ‘save an old troller’.

    From the menu on your left, click “Just Go There”.

  2. Let’s see…Same six, long line crew for 15 yrs.-four college grads-all very smart, different and none very good at drinking. The best some us could do (two didn’t drink) was ‘tipsy’, we just enjoyed our mornings to much to get our “drunken fisherman” merit badge.

    However, there is that anonomus, coming off the water, getting off the boat, thing that can cause periodic thirst.

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