Molly Malone, sweet and young, yet strong of both body and mind, the tale of the fish seller lives on in many songs, though the trade is rather forgotten in this day and age, or is it?
Fishwives, as was Ms. Molly, are the well-known wives of the fishmongers. Traditionally, and by that, we mean back in the day when no FDA was telling or inspecting us and how long our produce sat out, the fishmongers were the ones in charge. The raw meat that floated through the markets way back when was sometimes iffy, or we'll be honest, just downright rotten. If you paid a higher price or had an in with the fishermen you’d get the cream of the crop, if not, well, a family had to eat!
Thankfully, when King Edward the First came into power in 1272, he realized there needed to be some regulation going on in this food market and established the fishmongers guild, one of the first, and nowadays still thriving. The fishmongers were heavily regulated, only produced the freshest of fish, and ensured everyone got paid fairly for their wares. As with any such idea, the entire thing eventually became a very wealthy monopoly and had to go through some reforms, but the moral of the story is that you can thank King Edward and his snappy fishmongers for making sure your fish is of the highest quality over in London.
You may be wondering how this ties in with the Fish Pimp. If you have never heard the term, or are unfamiliar with Montana’s outdoor recreation industry, we could see where the connection is lost. You see, hunting and fishing is now a leisure activity for most visitors here. As most of us living here take hunting and fishing season as an opportunity to fill our freezers for the winter, others come here simply to be a part of “the old ways," as a participant in the hunt per se.
Fly fishing is a prime example, sneaking out into the water, finding that perfect hole to sling your string, eventually coaxing the trout from the water, and then the thrill of landing it. Once the catch has thoroughly been measured, weighed, tested, photographed, and probably talked to, they release it back into the wild, where another lucky person will hopefully get the chance to once again catch the monster and his kin.
This differs from the old days. Fishmongers didn’t release the fish but brought them into the market to sell so that the people could eat. Fishmongers were around because we needed them or else we would starve, the fish pimp now, the man behind the magic of ensuring you catch one of the river dwellers, is a new necessity. They are probably in need of their own Molly Malone song too.
The Rise of The Fish Pimp - How to Spot Them, Where to Find Them in Montana, and Everything Else You Need to Know
Fishmongers were well known in the day for their high status in society. Anyone in charge of the food chain would have obviously been a high priority in the olden days. With their superior status, the families of the fishmongers, the wives especially, were known for their blunt attitudes and sharp tongues that were allowed to lash back at anyone, even the King. They were experts at their craft, and the humbleness that comes with that most certainly shown through.
Fishmongers are still employed around the world today at supermarkets as the experts in scaling and preparing perfect fish filets for the general public, but did the high status of the fishmonger disappear? Butchers, too, way back when were often ranked highly in a city's social hierarchy as, without a decent butcher, food was possibly a poison. Butchers are still highly thought of, for those of us who like our meat anyway, but they certainly don’t have anything like the old fishmonger status ranking up there with the King and his party.
Fishmonger to Fishing Guide to Fish Pimp
In our opinion, we’ve transitioned to the new-age fishmonger, the fishing guide. Usually wearing their best five-hundred dollar pair of polarized sunglasses with some classy eyewear retainer, they appear every summer acting as if they own the place and are generally easy to spot if you know where you are looking. Living on the river all summer, they would obviously have a decent lay of that area, so it makes sense they are often "knowledgeable" about the local going-ons. There are only so many rivers in the area though, so do they get to really see that much?
Despite their very busy schedules consisting of daily guided tours down the river in the few months of nice summer weather we get, they thankfully still get to explore the land and are pretty helpful if you also plan on doing more than just fishing. Owing mostly to their extremely versatile Subarus with large back ends for camping anywhere, and their All-Wheel drive systems, the fish pimp is usually well-versed in your typical tourist hiking areas and most certainly can point you to any superior boondocking camping spots.
So, do you need a fish pimp as you would have needed a fishmonger back in the day?
With their extensive knowledge of the land, water, breweries, and the few surrounding high-class bars, their skills are indeed highly coveted if you are looking for the fish. You could get out on the river yourself, but these fish pimps will make the process smoother, faster, and more likely to ensure the catch. Also, always owning outdoor wear from nothing less than a Patagonia or REI store, they are there to not only point you in the right direction to find the fish, but also to find the right outfit to protect you from the elements and the judgy crowd. They are there to help the tourists fit in a little better while they make you and your crew look good.
One of the most important parts of your fishing vacation is being prepared, and this is the fish pimp's area of expertise and guiding. To complete the aforementioned classy sunglasses look hat will ensure the fish aren’t able to find you in your sneaky state, there are some other necessary items on the fish pimp list. Again, brand name is best when it comes to outdoor wear as everyone already knows that it will 100% keep you dry, every time, and you also know it will match the other brand name items you will undoubtedly need.
Montana Fish Guide Attire
For one, the sun-blocking long-sleeved shirts are a CRITICAL component. You don’t want that tanned surfer bro look, it's not good long term and won’t be something you will want to show off in the cold Montana nights anyways. The cowl and floppy hat for blocking the rest of the sun is also another crucial piece. If you haven't yet hired a guide but are in need of extra fashion advice before going out to the river, look around a higher-class (nothing too locally divey) bar after the sun goes down, the guy with a very distinct sunglasses tan on the sides of his forehead is EXACTLY who you are looking for. Most likely too they will have longer, unruly hair as they don’t have the time for haircuts in the short and busy months you are allowed to hunt for the elusive trout. It is highly likely the hair is up in a rough-looking ponytail as well. Interestingly, it may be that the new age style of “the man bun” was invented specifically for these hard-working fellows. If you are still unsure though, the lightweight cargo shorts are a dead giveaway. They most likely have the ability to become pants with the right zipper attachment and are only convenient and worth the price if you start the day in cold water and have to wait for the sun to warm you up. The lightweight style and pockets are convenient for the entire day though as they do allow for the wearer to stay both comfortable and classy.
Unfortunately for some, these shorts usually show off the scrawny white legs that most certainly sit in a boat more than they do hike, but you’ll notice that Merrell Shoes will typically seamlessly blend and elongate the look while also protecting your feet from the sun, rain, water, rocks. (Any good guide will be able to steer you in the right direction for "the look.") We must admit the Merrells are convenient and useful though as they do dry very quickly. The fast-drying effect ensures that, when you remove them, everyone knows you aren’t one of those gross and stinky ranchers with their smelly cowboy boots that you have to leave outside before running to the shower.
Without smelly shoes, hats, broken windshields, or dirty cars and boats, it is certainly the knowledge and class of the fish pimp that appeals to the crowd and puts them above the rest. Whether or not we do need traditional fishmongers to bring in the best and freshest catch of the day is questionable, but a fish pimp is your obvious go-to choice if you decide to get back to your roots on the serene emptiness of a Montana River. Give the old pole a go by yourself or in a group, but it will without a doubt help to listen to the new-age fishmongers, they certainly do know their craft.