I remember hanging around a lake in the summer with my dad. The bait shop had some competitions for the biggest game fish caught. I won for catching a catfish that was about as big as me. They weighed it with an old hanging spring scale, and they measured it with a tape measure. I held the top spot for catfish for a number of years. Now in competitions even the fishing scales are computerized. They weigh the fish down to the fractions of a gram, record it on a computer spreadsheet, and the prize money can be enough to buy you a new boat. I suppose the pro circuit of competition fishing was founded on those little local competitions that bait shops had at local fishing spots.
We also had what are called pay lakes where I grew up. They were all pretty much man made ponds of various sizes that were stocked with fish. You paid to fish there. If I remember right, you did not even need a state fishing license. There was usually a bait shop on the property, and there might be a bathroom and maybe even some beverages and food for sale. The shorelines of the pay lakes were almost always worn down to bare dirt. The places had an industrial look. Dad and I fished one place a few times, but we preferred natural streams and carefully managed lakes. We had plenty of rivers to fish at, but getting access was a problem. A lot of the riverbanks only had access over private property. Unless you had permission from the owners, you could not just walk over to the riverbank.
I never liked fishing in areas where you would see trash and cigarette butts. We are very careful to preserve the land for future use. Some people just consume, consume and consume without any regard for the next person. That is very sad. A nice thing about the fishing competitions I’m in now is the money that goes toward conservation efforts.