I know. I’m old-fashioned. I think differently than most, especially those in government who believe us peons really work for them instead of the way government is supposed to work, with the government employed serving “we the people.”

It is amazing how we elect our local legislators — our state representatives and senators — and yet, they seemingly have little control over the very things that impact the lives of all of us. They pass legislation and leave it to the bureaucratic agencies to figure out what is best for us.

I spent a few hours on the Bogue fishing pier in Emerald Isle one day last week. I spent it with two grandsons who were interested in catching some fish. We’d had some success about two years ago before COVID-19, and were ready to at least match our catch rate then.

Unfortunately, that did not happen and the boys had their fill in a few hours of losing a half pound of shrimp to tiny pinfish and evasive crabs. They decided they would rather take their chances in Bogue Sound at Paradise Bay.

What do spending time with my grandsons and fishing have to do with government? Well, you guessed it. Government has complicated fishing.

The day of grabbing a cane pole, attaching a line and sitting on the bank of one’s favorite creek for a day of leisurely fishing or going to the coast on a boat is way past us. We have to have a fishing license. We have to be careful where we fish, how many we catch, and what size the fish are. There are all sorts of rules and regulations.

There are inland waters, controlled by the N.C. WildlifeCommission, with their own set of regulations and there are regulations within regulations, for varieties such as warm water game fish, mountain trout and non-game fish.

They all have regulations. Yes, there are regulations for every fish that “walks” in North Carolina, including the “walking catfish” or Clarias batrachus. Sorry, I had to throw that in!

There are coastal fishing regulations controlled by North Carolina Marine Fisheries. For example, if you catch a blue crab in North Carolina you better know it is a blue crab, and you better also know that it must have a 5-inch carapace width to keep it. Do you know what carapace is? Do you know how to measure it? Do you know what months you can’t possess this species of crab at all? Do you know how many you can keep each day? You’d better know!

Did you know the season is closed for catching any flounder? Do you know what size black drum have to be to keep them? Did you know that gray trout are also controlled by federal regulations?

Just 14 days ago, we celebrated the birth of our nation and all the freedoms that go with it. Yet, when you look at the fishing regulations in North Carolina you will learn very quickly that we do not have the freedom to fish anymore.

We have limited freedoms that we actually pay for through a license or a fee. And if we’re not careful we could easily — simply by accident — wind up with an expensive citation for illegal fishing of some sort.

I look with favor upon the day when I could walk behind my cousin’s home and sit on the bank of Contentnea Creek. I didn’t have to worry about the license then. I was too young.

With a can of worms or some crickets, I could catch anything that bit and keep it. I didn’t have to print out piles of information just to try to learn all the regulations that have been put upon us.

In fact, I’ve gotten to the point I am almost afraid to fish — afraid I may not understand the regulations and create unnecessary issues for myself or others. That’s especially so since I’ve gotten older. The extreme complication of fishing regulations has stolen away part of our freedoms.

Wait! I will download the Fishing Regulation app to my iPhone and hope it keeps me within the law.

Mitchell Oakley is the publisher emeritus of this newspaper.