Stressed Over Meltdown? Go Fish


Last week, somewhere between the time the stock market took its biggest one-day plunge and Warren Buffett described the current financial crisis as “economic Pearl Harbor,” I knew we were in trouble. When I summoned the courage to peek at my own retirement fund, I told my wife we were really in trouble.

Then, I remembered advice from my father down in Louisiana, and I decided to do something about it. I went fishing.

On an otherwise hectic day, I joined a handful of writers with Trevor Gowdy, son of famed sportscaster Curt and host of Gowdy's Monster Fish on the Outdoor Channel. The show, debuting in January, will follow him hunting “the biggest and baddest aquatic creatures on the planet,” the kind of species that “simply wouldn't fit on most trophy walls,” according to the network.

Spray covered us as Capt. Frank Crescitelli of Fin Chaser Charters bounced the boat off choppy waters out beyond the city skyline of New York, past the Statue of Liberty and just off Coney Island.

For a brief while, the striped bass attacked our bait. We caught and released around 15 fish. At one moment, several rods bent over at once and the reels sang. Trevor Gowdy, a renowned sportsman and friendly coach, yelled instructions as we brought them in, in the trademark Gowdy voice. “Get your rod up!” he said. Looking out over nearly a mile of water to land, I could make out the image of the umbrella-like silhouette of the Parachute Jump on Coney Island. I am a long way from the office.

When the fishing is really good, said Crestitelli, “all you think about is the next cast.” Amen. It was the same as my father's message: Sometimes you have to walk away from the problem to get perspective.

There's a popular book out now called “The Gone Fishin' ” Portfolio, which espouses a similar belief. It essentially says you can grow wealth, with a simple diversified portfolio, adjusted once a year. It embraces the uncertainty of the markets and promises to hold up well in down times and make gains in an bull market. All this allows time to “get on with life.”

Whether it works or not, I can't guarantee, but I certainly share the belief: balance. It's a truth we can all appreciate, especially in turbulent times. When I returned to the office later that day, the world hadn't ended, as the financial pundits had predicted. And I discovered from this week's cover story that the cable industry is positioned relatively well in relation to its competitors and its money needs.

Indeed, as we enter the holiday season, retailers aren't exactly ecstatic at the anemic sales predictions, and the ad market is anyone's guess.

But cable TV can righteously sell a value proposition to consumers — a bundle of services at a discount — and may even come out ahead. As consumers cut back on entertainment, theaters seem more vulnerable than cable. Doesn't home on a comfy couch with popcorn on a chilly fall night beat a crowded theater?

As long as businesses and the people running them refuse to panic and instead look for opportunity, we're going to be OK.

Relax. Go fishing.