Fishing tips from a good fisherman that does not like fishing.
A thirty something friend really wanted to go fishing. As an Irish immigrant who lived most of his life as a musician out on the prairies of Canada, this is a new thing for him and he enjoys the short breaks he gets from his hectic life. He is a new father and business owner that is often overwhelmed; and of course, is short on sleep.
I on the other hand, wear the “Been there done that.” shirt- having started fishing at around eight years of age with my Dad. I remember even earlier, my sister and I using willow branches with fishing line tied to the ends that led to a cork bobbers that held the hook and worm about two feet below the surface. We would fish from an old gas barge and catch Perch, Rock Bass and Sunfish any time of day.
I was learning to fish even before we got our first boat- a little 12 foot tri-hull with a 9.9 horsepower outboard that would eventually become my first freedom machine. It rode on top of the car to and from our summer holiday camping destinations.
From age ten, I would learn my boat piloting skills with my father sitting up front, on a lake in the Trent Severn waterway. There, cabin cruisers would create some massive waves that our little boat would have to climb on one side only to surf down the other. I was fearless but Dad was visibly nervous at times. The boat was stable enough to allow you to stand up in it when the lake was not that rough. It was anything but tippy. Its light-weight construction meant that the hull flexed at your feet when you were heading out on a choppy day.
We fished often, sometimes with all four of us crammed into that little boat. Dad liked trolling so he could see changing scenery as the day went by. Mom and I liked still fishing or drift fishing as we always caught more fish that way.
The fish finder had not been invented yet. We checked the depth of the water we were fishing in by attaching a big home-made weight to our line and then dropping it over the side while watching how much line came off of the spool of the early “trolling” reel as the weight travelled to the bottom. When your line went slack you were on bottom.
Pickerel now called Walleye, liked weeds so we dropped our baits down into loose weeds close to the bottom or just above heavy weeds to get them. We found fish by looking for the mouth of a stream or river and weed beds near shore where humans had not yet developed. Bass were easy to find near Bulrushes, fallen trees and under docks.
The fishing line was quite thick and anything but invisible. I do not remember ever breaking a line and I had caught some three to four foot long fish weighing as much as twenty pounds on a few occasions. One Muskie in particular pulled the boat, motor, gas tank, anchor and me about a half of a mile up a shoreline into the wind before he tired himself out enough for me to get him to the boat. That was when I found out that we were going to NEED A BIGGER NET. The total weight that he dragged would have been about three hundred pounds and the line did not break. When you got snagged on a submerged log you would have to cut the line if you could not pull the lure free.
We learned that using a steel leader when fishing for the large toothier varieties of fish like Muskie, Pike and Pickerel was better than watching them chew through your line usually just as you were trying to get them in the net. We learned that the best fishing was from dusk to dawn. We learned that the worst weather also meant the best fishing.
The rods were about five feet long and made of steel. They were a one piece design or in other words, they did not come apart in the middle as they do today. We could feel the fish nibbling at our worm, even with little Rock Bass, Sunfish and Perch. Those rods stayed in the family for about thirty years until rust got the better of them.
The little boat also stayed in the family for many years. Even when I owned much bigger and more comfortable power boats, I would take out my Speed Racer (mostly just to entertain my friends) bouncing across the lake with its twenty-three mile per hour blinding speed. I met many girls and found a bunch of all-night parties in that boat.
I fished very little by comparison as a young adult. About once a year, I would take out one of my power boats and anchor it in some quiet little bay and just recline on the plush upholstery in the sun- often reading and not caring what-so-ever if I got a nibble. It was more about the rest and relaxation or peace and quiet that the outing offered than it was about fishing.
NOW THAT WAS A GREAT FISHING TRIP!
By forty, I had parted with all of my boats- a story for another time. Suffice it to say that there is truth in the old saying: “The two happiest days in a man’s life are the day he gets his boat and the day he sells it.” Oddly, it was at this time that my then significant other told me that she loved to fish. Her excitement about catching even a little one became infectious mostly because I would have to get out of my lounger on the resort’s beach and go take it off the hook for her. It had me wanting to catch some again.
We would frequent fishing gear stores where she would buy the craziest lures for ridiculous money. Fifteen dollars for a lure that had a light in it IS JUST NUTS!
We got caught up in the Sunday morning fishing programs on television that would seem to indicate that you were not a fisherman unless you had a $50,000.00 bass boat, a half a dozen different rods with different reels and a tackle box that the size of a beer cooler that contained a virtual treasure trove of every type, size and colour of lure for every species of fish in any depth of water. Oh yes, we cannot forget the high-tech fish finder that shows pictures of sunken boats on the bottom.
During this foray into modern day fishing, I discovered that the more money you spent on gear, the less fish you caught.
Expensive rod designs claiming to be: THE ULTIMATE IN SENSITIVITY, FLEXIBILITY AND STRENGTH never quite measured up to the advertisement. I had a one-hundred dollar rod that broke at the handle with a five pound Large Mouth Bass on the line. Its replacement split at the two-piece joint with an eight pound Lake Trout on the line. The one after that kept damaging the line when casting; causing many lost fish, lost lures and a ridiculous number of line changes per season. I am convinced that it was DESIGNED THAT WAY just to increase sales from really stupid fishing fanatics like me. Its replacement was billed as “INDESTRUCTIBLE” yet only carried a one year warranty.
99% of the fancy lures and artificial baits DID NOT WORK nearly as well as a minnow or frog on a hook or a worm on a three hook worm harness.
The 1% that did work is a secret that I thought about taking to the grave in order not to bury a thriving industry.
But then it occurred to me that the sport fishing industry has sold me a pile of over-priced over-hyped crap for years and I OWE THEM NOTHING! Screw the lying marketing bastards of poorly made off-shore products. By publishing this, I hope to tear down their empire that is built on the exploitation of the desperate weak-minded fishing fanatics that are so addicted they will purchase every shiny new- brightly coloured thing that the manufacturer PAID TO HAVE ENDORSED by a guy who makes a living by fishing.
I will tell you that you only need three artificial lures or plugs and all are “split” or “jointed” Rapala models. For Bass you want a 3 inch floater with yellow on top and silver/white on the bottom. For trout you want a 2 inch deep diver with blue on top and silver/white on the bottom. Lastly for Pickerel and bigger game-fish you want the biggest shallow to medium diver they make (5 or 6 inch I think) that resembles a Perch. It is greenish with black stripes on top and has a silver/white bottom.
This brings us to the other day when I took my friend out to prove to him that there were indeed fish in this lake; if you know how to fish and contrary to what he has been told by a frequent guest at his cottage.
With new” INVISIBLE” 8 pound test on my old school “casting” reel mounted to the “INDESTRUCTIBLE” graphite rod and the tiniest tackle box money can buy; I headed off to meet this enthusiast who by the way, has severe fish allergies.
The wind was gusting to 40 miles per hour creating 3 foot waves with white caps so we had a bite to eat and made a couple of old-school worm harnesses hoping the wind would settle down. It did not.
As we were loading up his boat he asked if we should bring a net and I replied “No we are just going after Bass.”
His boat might not survive conditions such as these. It is an old twelve foot aluminum fishing boat powered by an eight horsepower engine that is prone to stalling. This boat is also as tippy as any canoe so we donned life jackets. I piloted the craft to the nearest good fishing spot that only meant about five minutes of pounding waves with spray from the bow hitting me in the face before we would get to calmer water.
Even in the sheltered bay, his little boat was being blown all over the place and from one shore to the other. I asked if he had an anchor and he said there was one back at the cottage. To get him started, I baited his worm harness for him so he could see how it was done. I set us up to drift fish and let the wind take us back through the choppy conditions almost to his dock. He found the anchor as I unknotted some rope and then we set out to pound the waves and my kidneys a second time.
Upon returning to the fishing spot, I anchored us so that the changing winds would let us fish both shores. We started getting little fish under six inches almost immediately. He snagged a tiny Perch while I had a succession of varieties including a Rock Bass and a Sun Fish before getting a Small Mouth Bass that might have been all of nine inches.
My “fishing compadre” had his worm picked clean by some others and then expected me to bait his hook once again. As he was not nine years of age, I explained that fishing etiquette dictates that you bait your own hook- momentarily forgetting his well known weak stomach. Upon losing his second worm, he would switch to artificial baits for the remainder of the day.
Next, I too would get a tiny Perch that had been picking my worms to bits for some time without my being able to hook him; despite many repeated attempts at setting the hook.
This is where the story gets interesting.
Instead of removing the little bastard, I said to my fishing partner “Watch this.” and casted the little worm stealer out into deeper water where I knew some big Large Mouth Bass had lived in the past. In only a couple of minutes something big ate him.
It may be illegal to use a Perch as a bait fish but he got on my hook all by himself. I did not put him there.
Karma is a bitch.
I set the hook a couple of times and could sense that it was a big fish but it was not peeling off line. Still thinking Bass, I thought it was just swimming toward the boat where the fight sometimes really begins. I did not want the fish to run too far in case it found the anchor rope to wrap my line around. I slowly kept winding him closer and then lifted my rod to get a glimpse of what I had on there.
Well, it did allow a glimpse. I saw a flash of orange from a fish with a large girth. I never really got a view of its length.
I was now thinking that I had a big Pickerel with NO NET, an inexperienced fishing partner that could not handle fish without wearing gloves and we were in a very tippy boat.
As my brain was just beginning to wrestle with the problem at hand, Karma took over once again.
The fish did a violent side-to-side head-shake like a Large Mouth Bass would but it never broke the surface. It did however break my “INDESTRUCTIBLE” rod and line about a foot from the tip.
A rod, possibly a near record Pickerel, the Perch and my custom worm harness were all gone in that instant.
Quietly sitting staring at my broken rod, I lit a smoke and wondered what I could have done differently? Instead of an answer to that question coming to mind, I remembered why I do not fish anymore:
Sitting in a crappy little boat sucks.
These days the fishing equipment is garbage.
Worms crap all over you.
You get bitten by mosquitoes.
You get sunburnt.
You get rained on.
There is NEVER A BIG ENOUGH NET when you need it. Additionally, when someone asks if they should bring a net, ALWAYS SAY YES!
The biggest fish ALWAYS GET AWAY!
The only fish you remember are THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY.
It is a sport for masochists.
My best fishing memories are of the times that I did not get a bite; just relaxing alone listening to the waves fighting a losing battle against the substantial hull of my cushy boat.
From now on when someone asks me to take them fishing, they better have a $50,000.00 Bass Boat with a canopy, 6 rods and a selection of nets or I will say:
THERE ARE NO FISH IN THAT LAKE!
Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!
Life with Women: the long awaited instruction manual.
Talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics- even physics as well as the need to BE PREPARED for what life throws at us.
Have a good week.
I am going spear fishing for that Pickerel.
I have a score to settle.