Tom Keer 6/30/2011 My son has two friends who are brothers named Mark and Matt. Mark is the elder and he is 14. Their dad Mike has taken them fishing with him since they were old enough to walk. Since then the boys have devoured […]
Month: June 2011
Andy Whitcomb 6/28/2011 Artist David Horton is always prepared when we go fishing. His multiple tackle boxes are neatly sorted and organized. All fishing equipment is well maintained, clean, and ready. And he always has his vanilla. Wait a second – “vanilla,” you say?! “There […]
As a fishing writer, I’ve been fortunate to cast along with many great anglers. While everyone has their own tips and tricks, the one common trait I notice among the best fishermen and fisherwomen—from the bass lakes, to the trout rivers, to the saltwater flats—is that none of them ever fish like they’re in a hurry.
Even B.A.S.S. pro Mike Iaconelli, who seems driven by frenetic energy, and in tournaments is often literally racing against the clock, works with deliberate purpose when he’s in the money chase.
There are some very practical reasons for slowing things down when you fish. I spend a lot of time scuba diving with fish (bass, pike, trout, etc.) and watching how they behave when people are casting to them. What’s the number one factor that spooks a fish? Shadows and/or sudden motions from above. They tell fish a predator is nearby, and send them swimming for cover. Another factor that puts fish off is sound, which travels quickly through water. Boots scraping along a rocky river bottom, loud clunks from an aluminum fishing boat, and so forth, only hurt your chances.
Which brings us back to the point of slowing things down. Shadows, sudden movements, and loud noises are often the result of an angler being in a hurry. Rushing also depletes the angler’s abilities make precise casts and enticing presentations—whether they’re fly fishing, casting live baits, or throwing lures.
The next time you see a fish in the water… as much as you might want to rush right in and try a cast, do yourself a favor, and slow down. Count to “Five-Mississippi,” hum “America the Beautiful” to yourself, whatever… just do something to put the mental brakes on. Then survey the situation. Factor in the sun’s position (where will the shadows fall?). Look for any obstacles (like deadfall, rocks, dock pilings) that might factor into the cast and fight. Then make your cast.
If that fish is moving in a way that makes you feel rushed to make a cast, odds are there’s nothing you can do to make that fish eat anyway. You control the tempo. So move slowly, more deliberately, and with more poise and purpose, and you will catch many.
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Andy Whitcomb 6/21/2011 What is wrong with this picture? Not a thing, according to Keith Sutton who was Executive Director of the Future Fisherman Foundation, (which creates and assists a variety of programs for hands-on fishing experiences for children) and author of several books on […]
The word “gunkholing” means cruising in shallow waters with a wide variety of shallow-draft boats. Day sailors, dinghies, jon boats, and canoes are some of the popular hulls that can get into the skinniest of waters. One that has recently appealed to me is the hard chine kayak. To my mind they are the perfect craft for gunkholing.
The origin of the word kayak is up for debate. Some paddling historians literally translate the word into “man-small boat.” It’s a perfectly fitting description, as kayaks were custom-fit to a paddler’s exact dimension. A more figurative interpretation nudges around the meaning of “clothing for going in the water.” The boats were made from naturally water-repellant sealskins that were also used as coats.
A lot has changed from the days of waterproof sealskins covering wooden frames. Modern kayak designs accommodate anyone who can sit upright and paddle. The reason lies in the chine, which is the edge between a boat’s side and her bottom. Kayaks traditionally have been multi-chine boats, and their rounded hulls glide effortlessly through the water. To go out to sea or on a pond or lake in such a vessel means you’ll need to learn the Eskimo Roll so you can right a capsized boat. But, the new hard-chine kayaks are the answer for anyone who wants to get on the water without mastering new skills. These boats handle well, are far more stable, carry a ton of gear, and don’t require any special techniques. Just add water.
There are two types of hard-chine kayaks. The first features an open-cockpit with either one or two seats. Water stays out of the boat. In the event you capsize, there are no worries, simply swim free. A second option is a sit-atop. These boats are a lot like a deluxe surfboard. Your weight keeps you on the boat and the water laps around your legs as you paddle about. Some folks like to ride the sit-a-tops in the waves, sort of a kayak-surfing experience, but you can paddle just as easily through a marsh in them. If you work up a sweat, just step out of the boat and dive in the water. They’re that simple.
Many of the newer recreational kayaks are made from recycled plastic and polyethylene to add stiffness and light weight. Net net, they’re virtually maintenance free. A wash down here or there gets the sand and mud out of them. Portability is king and you’ll never huff and puff to get unstuck. The kayak’s length determines its weight, but most of them are in the 40-50 pound class, easy to pick off of a car roof or drag down to the water’s edge. They don’t draw more than a few inches, so paddling is a breeze.
Safety is important, so be sure to include a low-profile life jacket. There are many that are designed to accommodate the active movement required by a paddler. A spray skirt keeps the water out of the boat and if you’re paddling in a river that has lots of rocks consider a helmet in the event that you tip over.
Hard-chine kayaks are a phenomenal way to get into shallow reaches. And when you’re gunkholing this year be sure to bring a waterproof camera.
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Motherhood occupies a special place in the world and it is somewhere between winning a gold medal and sainthood. Juggling a career with parenthood is difficult enough. But when kids ask to learn a sport or activity that a mom may not know pushes even the most patient women to the max. I should know; I married one. Here are some quick tips for moms to consider when taking their kids fishing for the first time:
1. Fishing is fun if you keep it simple. Take kids to a place where they can experience a lot of action. A farm pond or a reservoir that is loaded with panfish is an easy place to start.
Ask family, friends, or co-workers if they know of any places that have bluegills, sunfish, perch, or small bass.
2. These species are about the easiest to catch in the fishing world.
3. Check out areas close to home on a topographical map. Use mapserver.mytopo.com or the TakeMeFishing.org Hotspot Map.
4. With minimal gear – a spinning rod, reel, line, a bobber, a hook and a coffee can full of worms – you’re likely to find action soon after the bait hits the water. Kids want to see the red and white float go under and they want to feel the rod bend.
5. Remember your camera so you can take lots of pictures!
Kids who get bitten by the fishing bug will want to learn all they can about the sport. But for the first few trips, don’t stress about the technicalities. That will come with more time and study. If you bog them down with technicalities in their first few outings, then the odds are they won’t have fun. All that matters is that the bobber and bait gets in to the water where the fish are. Farm pond panfish don’t require much expertise, and they are very forgiving of bad casts.
In a child’s eye there is a lot more to fishing than catching. It’s a chance to spend time with their mom, siblings and friends. Kids have short attention spans and can get bored easily, even if they are catching a fish on every cast. So take frequent breaks. Pack a tasty picnic lunch. Point out birds, turtles or other animals that you see. If it’s hot, bring a bathing suit and go for a swim. Unless your child is destined for the pro circuit, they’ll have fun being on an adventure with you.