If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt been glaring at the weather forecasts the past couple weeks, as heavy rains have closed down most of the state’s top fishing and camping areas indefinitely.
So if you find yourself not having any luck catching fish and are looking for something to scratch your fishing itch for the next few weeks until conditions improve, you may be in luck as there is a new update for an existing fishing video game that is gaining some major attention.
“Fishing Sim World” is a fishing simulator developed by Dovetail Games — the company that also made “Euro Fishing” — and is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. I haven’t played it before, but I have played “Euro Fishing” and can tell you it had excellent graphics and fun mechanics for a carp and catfish game. The initial game was released in September 2018. It was met with mixed reviews online — it earned a 6 out of 10 rating on Steam, where it’s currently available for $19.99 — because it wasn’t incredibly deep. The new update slated for July 18, “Fishing Sim World Pro Tour,” basically adds a whole new game mode in the form of a career mode, with the ability to compete on a tournament trail, collect sponsorships from real companies and face off against 90-plus real professional anglers from different tours. It’s basically like the “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” of fishing.
Some of the anglers included in the trailer for the expansion included Bassmaster anglers Scott Martin and Jacob Wheeler and carp guru Ali Hamidi. Martin and Hamidi in particular seem to be featured in the marketing for the game, makes me wonder if Googan Baits, of which Martin is part-owner, could make a debut in the game. I’d love to see Z-Man in there, as well!
Among the sponsors that anglers can for sure secure include big-name companies such as 13 Fishing, Arbogast, Rebel, Rat-L-Trap, Heddon, Booyah, Thill and Evinrude, with some other notables including Missile Baits, Duckett Fishing, deeper, Jenko Fishing and Creek Chub.
Now, I get the consternation by old-school anglers to shun anything video game related. But the point I’m trying to make by writing about these things isn’t to get young hunters and anglers hooked on video games, it’s to introduce young video game players to what the outdoors has to offer them. It works both ways, folks. Plus, for you seasoned vets, it can be a fun way to learn new things about the sport from home.
Of course, I would never in a million years suggest video game fishing as a replacement for the real thing — it’s not even close, real fishing in the great outdoors is about as much fun as you can have.
Plus, have you seen the graphics?!
In general, fishing games are fairly repetitive after a while and aren’t likely to keep someone glued to the couch for hours on end. What they can do, however, is get you through the times where you’re unable to go fishing with your sanity intact, especially when conditions are bad. And really, if you watch fishing or hunting shows on TV or videos on YouTube or read posts on Facebook fishing pages, what’s the difference? It’s all just tiding you over until your next trip outdoors.
By the way, if you use a Garmin LiveScope, don’t even start with me about video game fishing... relax, crappie guys, I’m kidding. That’s a column for another day.
But games do have an incredible ability to introduce a younger crowd — or even an older crowd, for that matter — to the sport and help develop a strong interest in the outdoors. These days, it’s getting more and more difficult to find a game that doesn’t have at least some element of hunting or fishing in it. One of the biggest games of 2018, “Red Dead Redemption 2,” featured fishing, hunting and furharvesting among its core game mechanics. The video game industry knows the appeal of these pastimes, and that’s why there are so many fishing and hunting games on the market. I can speak on this firsthand, as I have fond memories from school of playing “Oregon Trail” in the computer lab, hunting buffalo and antelope and spending the next six hours of class daydreaming about actually hunting those majestic beasts — and hunting was just a small feature of that history-based game. I learned a ton about fishing as a kid while playing games like “Reel Fishing 3” on PlayStation 2 and “TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament ’96″ on the Sega Genesis, and more recently “Fishing Planet” on the PlayStation 4. And I learned a lot about waterfowl decoy placement from an old Microsoft computer hunting game, believe it or not.
Games are as good of an instructional and recruiting tool for young people as anything in the outdoors industry, there’s no doubting it, and I’m living proof you can love both pursuits equally. I mean, half of the time I’m fishing in a “Super Mario Bros.” T-shirt.
In addition to familiar names and gear, “Fishing Sim World Pro Tour” will feature 29 different species of fish to catch, including bass, carp, walleye, muskie, pike, barbel, zander, tench, bream and brown and rainbow trout, each with its own unique AI and behavioral system. Also being added are three new U.S. lake venues — Lake Guntersville, Lake Travis and Lake Miller.
It’s a pretty cool idea to take such a broad approach to a career mode in a fishing game, and could prove to bring in a stringer full of young, new anglers. Some day, the kids who play these games at home and get hooked on the sport may decide they want to chase their own dreams of becoming a pro angler, something Martin alluded to when he signed on as a featured angler.
“I’m honored to be part of ‘Fishing Sim World: Pro Tour,’ ” Martin said of his involvement with the game in a news release. “This is such a passionate project, with an incredible level of detail. It’s a great way to introduce more people to the world of bass fishing.”
Hamidi added in the release that he loves video games, and hopes that the game can help teach kids and adults alike about the sport.
“As a massive gamer it’s super cool to be involved with Dovetail Games and ‘Fishing Sim World: Pro Tour.’ The game is so authentic — I take my role as an angling ambassador very seriously and I love that kids and adults playing this sim will learn skills that will really help when out fishing for real,” Hamidi said.
In all, I think this may be great news for the fishing industry as the stars of the fishing world continue to become household names, and great for bored anglers in flood-stricken areas, as well! If you have a kid who loves video games but doesn’t seem interested in the outdoors, consider getting them this game. It may spark an interest in the sport that will last a lifetime.