Stephanie Vatalaro 8/30/2012 When planning a trip out on the water, most typically start their checklist with the basics: fishing license, spinning rod, bait-casting rod, back-up rod, bait, snacks, sunscreen, nautical maps, tide chart, GPS, lucky ball cap and life jackets. Then, grab the kids, […]
Month: August 2012
Kirk Deeter 8/29/2012 What a tremendous gift our forefathers gave when they set aside America’s National Parks. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel throughout the country and fish in a number of exciting locales, but there’s just something special about being in places like Grand […]
The blue catfish is legendary for its tremendous size. Only two sturgeon species and the alligator gar are capable of reaching sizes larger than the blue catfish. That is some rare company. Blues can top the scales at over 100; several sources even mention a 300-pound blue caught in the 1800’s. By comparison, a giant channel catfish may reach 30 pounds.
But what if the catfish is small? How can you tell a blue catfish from a channel catfish?
Keith “Catfish” Sutton, author of Pro Tactics: Catfish and three other books on catfishing wrote, “It is often very difficult to distinguish blue cats and channel cats. When I was state fishing records coordinator for Arkansas, we often had people bring in large catfish that might have been either channels or blues…hoping they were channel cats larger than the current record.”
Well, blue catfish are”blue-ish” in color, right? Mr. Sutton says, “Coloration is never a good way to judge species because it is so variable.”
Pflieger’s book, Fishes of Missouri describes blue catfish as “never having dark spots.”
But some channel cats may not have spots.
Fishes of Missouri also mentions an anal fin (lower fin, just forward of tail) that is straight edged “like a barber’s comb.” But I recently returned from a lengthy viewing session of several large catfish at an aquarium in a mega fishing store and none of the fins inspired grooming the few remaining hairs on my head.
“In the end (pun intended?),” Mr. Sutton wrote, “There’s only one sure way to tell…the anal fin rays.” The channel catfish has 24-29 rays in this fin; a blue catfish is 30 or more.
I love catching all kinds of fish and knowing what I’ve caught. However, because of its sheer potential for massive size, the blue might be loved slightly more… that is, if I was sure it was a true blue.
“Catfish, how do I love thee?”
“Let me count the rays.”
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I recently attended the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show in Reno, Nevada, where manufacturers of fly fishing products showed off the wares they plan to sell next year.
One thing I noticed is that many companies are devising sling packs for anglers to carry their gear. One advantage of a sling is that you can slide it around your body, keeping your front clear when you’re actually fishing. When you need a specific gizmo, you slide it back around to your front, and everything is literally right at your fingertips. When you’re fishing, the “stuff” you carry is literally out of sight and out of mind, but it’s right at your back when you want it.
I have always been a vest man myself. I suppose that dates me. It used to be that the vest was a standard part of fly fishing garb. I remember when I started fly fishing, I stuffed my vest too full (after all, I didn’t want to get out there on the water and find I had forgotten something!) so I looked like the Michelin Man wobbling around in the currents. With time, I learned that maybe I didn’t need to carry things like heavy-duty pliers, duct tape, and the boxes that contained flies that were well out of season. Not only can an overstuffed vest feel heavy, it can also make you hot.
In recent years, a number of companies have devised slick chest packs and waist packs that circumvent that problem, and a lot of my fishing friends swear by them. I’ve just never warmed to the chest pack. It feels to me like I’m wearing a mini accordion when I fish, and I like to see my feet when I walk on rocks and wade. And many of the waist packs tend to sag or shift to one side (though this is something the newer designs are improving), which throws me off balance.
Of course, how an angler carries his or her gear is purely a matter of personal preference. What works for me, may not suit your style, and vice versa. But I do think that, the more you fish, the more you learn what you really need to carry and what’s just dead weight. More and more anglers are striving to be “minimalists,” when they fish, and the sling concept might just be a happy medium worth checking out.
We’ll see if this is just a fad, or a new standard. I’m going to give one a try.
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Fishing and boating shows and expos can be found all around the country at various times of the year. Often these facilities will have pro anglers conducting fishing seminars using large tanks containing bass. These seminars are a great way to pick up tips, not only on what to do, but what NOT to do.
Although the focus of the demonstration is suppose to be the lure action or technique, it is these pampered show bass and their behavior that captivate the audience, especially when they can’t help but bite the lure.
With a rare glimpse of what happens under water, this is a crowd pleaser. However, under these circumstances, the pro angler does not want to hook their coworker. So, he purposefully makes a mistake: he lets the fish feel him on the other end. A passive, medium pull on the line often annoys the bass enough to spit out the lure.
The moderate line pull is a common mistake by inexperienced anglers especially when using soft-plastics. Too often I watch young anglers lift the rod tip brashly, without first checking with a discreet, light touch. A careful lift or finger on the line can let the angler know if the lure has been picked up without alerting the fish and if it is time to set the hook–hard.
By witnessing how bass react to the error of an angler allowing detection, one can learn how opportunities to hook up are lost. Correcting this mistake can win more splashing connections, a “Bass Thumb”, and smiles.
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Stephanie Vatalaro 8/13/2012 With roughly 365 million trillion gallons of water on our planet, it can be difficult to decide where’s best to drop anchor and throw out a line. Then, for us fishermen and women, add in, can I fish there, is it a […]