Kirk Deeter 2/29/2012 Every spring, I get a handful of notes from young men and women who have decided they want to try to be a fishing guide, and are looking for advice on where to start. Whether they want to take a summer or […]
Month: February 2012
Andy Whitcomb 2/28/2012 I just returned from the Bassmaster Classic, which was held in Shreveport, LA. While at the Expo, I learned a few tricks at some seminars and returned with a few innovative fishing products. Already wondering how I ever got along with out […]
One time in the fall I walked down to the back side of a cove near my house. It was close to low tide and my wife and I were going to dig a basket of quahogs for dinner. A dozen or so yards away I saw a bunch of flies swarming around and I walked up and found an ocean sunfish.
The ocean sunfish was a little worse for the wear. Ocean sunfish feed on jellyfish, and based on their enormous size they need to eat a lot every day to keep their form. In his pursuit of a full belly this one must have followed the jellies high up into the grass beds when the tide was high, and then stayed just a bit too long.
We noticed a few things when we inspected this rather remarkable fish up close. The first was his colossal size. If you look in the upper left hand corner you’ll see a pair of feet. Those size 11’s belong to me, and if you compare them to the rest of the fish you can get an appreciation for the size and scope of the fish. The second part that was very interesting was that this tail-less fish had a face that seemed to resemble that of an old man. There was a pronounced pair of eyes, a nose, and a rounded mouth. Most fish look like fish but this one was different.
We see them when the ocean warms up and the jellies are around in good concentrations. When I’m wade fishing around dusk and their dorsal fins fly high out of the water I think it’s am shark cruising in close. The fins flop back down almost as fast as they went up, and I relax and think about the bass and bluefish at hand. The ocean sunfish is one remarkable creature for sure.
And it occurred to me that most of the time we’re catching some really good looking fish, but every now and again we catch or see some fish that are just… well… a little bit different.
Did you know that tarpon can live 80 years or more? That means most of us who fish for tarpon have a chance of hooking one that’s older than we are.
Or how about this? In the early 1600s Izaak Walton described a certain fish as “The Queen of Rivers… a stately, good and very subtle fish.” What species? The common carp, which believe it or not, is the most pursued, most prized “game fish” worldwide to this day. Of course, we Americans have myriad wonderful species to chase. Maybe that’s why all but the “Compleat Anglers” among us consider carp “trash fish.”
Of course there are other non-native species in American waters that are now revered. The brown trout? An immigrant. Native to Europe, and introduced into Michigan rivers in the 1870s, just as many of our ancestors were also making their ways to this country. It’s hard to imagine the fly fishing world without brown trout these days, isn’t it?
Yet as much as many of us love trout, they aren’t the speediest fish by any stretch. The average trout might be capable of bursts of nine miles per hour. The bonefish, on the other hand, can swim over 25 miles an hour. Then again, the mako shark can swim upwards of 60 miles an hour, and also jump twice its body length above the water surface. Imagine tying a fishing line to an NFL wide receiver, and having him run down the football field. Now imagine that the mako is three times faster than the NFL player, and when it reaches the end zone, it is capable of jumping over the goal post.
Speaking of big, powerful fish, the International Game Fish Association world record all-tackle blue marlin was caught by Jay de Beaubien in 1982 off of Kona, Hawaii, weighing 1,376 pounds. Now, for perspective, realize that the average quarter horse weighs between 1,100 and 1,200 pounds. I don’t know about you, but I think that was an on-the-water rodeo I wish I’d have seen.
And while we’re on the topic of records, in 2009, Manabu Kurita of Japan caught a world record largemouth bass that weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces… which tied the previous world record set in Georgia by George Perry, 77 years earlier. By contrast, the oldest NFL record, for most points in a game (40), was set by Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals versus the Chicago Bears in 1929, just over 72 years ago. When you consider how many people fish, and how relatively few earn the right to play in the NFL, that fishing record is pretty impressive. And it still hasn’t been “broken.”
All of which is to reinforce what most of us already know, even if we do overlook some of the trivial details… fishing is one of the most interesting, challenging, and rewarding sports of all time.
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Andy Whitcomb 2/14/2012 Perhaps the two most important components of fishing are, first, the hook set and second, getting the sharp thing back out. Many times hook removal is accomplished by hand especially when using the catch-and-release friendly circle hook or a single, visible standard […]
I have a love-hate relationship with Punxsutawney Phil.
On the one hand, he’s cute and furry, and all that. And I feel pretty sorry for him when he gets handled by all those folks in top hats under the blaze of camera lights. If had to go through that spectacle, I’d feel like going back home and taking a long nap myself, whether I really saw my shadow or not.
But six weeks?! C’mon Phil! There’s fishing to be done! Let’s get on with spring already.
Judging by what fell from the sky yesterday, however, I think Phil might be right. Still, I’ve decided to defy the groundhog, and make my own breaks. I’m going to find my fishing, warm weather or not, and I hope you do too.
Of course, the lucky anglers who live in southern climates are already a step ahead of me. They know that the fishing season is already heating up in a big way. For example, The Bassmaster Classic is traditionally held in February, with good reason. Tricking large bass when they are in the “pre-spawn” mode and lurking toward shallow warm water offers some of the best technical challenges (and largest rewards, literally) to be had in the entire year. This year’s Bassmaster Classic will be held on the Red River in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, February 24-26. It’s one thing to follow the action, but even better to learn some tricks along the way and apply them to your bass water, so follow the action if you can.
The trout anglers just have to find some moving river water. Often times, I have found that the early season, when the fish are waking up, offers some pretty good fly fishing action. And by bundling up and being tough, you are often rewarded by having the river to yourself.
Many times, I have found myself on a river in winter, when the quarter-sized snowflakes start falling and I worry about getting home, when suddenly, a hatch of baetis mayflies happens, and the river “boils” with feeding trout.
Of course, there’s always ice fishing. But be careful as the weather warms.
And those of you in Florida, chasing snook, and sea trout, redfish, bonefish, and permit, well, you might have to wait just a bit for the big tarpon to show up. But I don’t feel sorry for you at all.
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Andy Whitcomb 2/7/2012 Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and for The Wise that means you had better get off the water for a little bit and pick up something nice for your significant other. Anglers are well aware of efficient time management. Jobs, errands, weather, […]