The angling tradition

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Confucius set the ethical standards for angling 2,500 years ago. These included fishing while standing up and with only one line and hook. Charter and tournament fishing have eroded the standards in the last century. Confucius also taught that ethics can only be enforced by peer pressure, not by law.
THIS PAST SPRING, I spent four days at the National Outdoor Ethics Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, where I felt there was much more ambivalence over what constitutes appropriate angling behavior than hunting behavior. Although a number of speakers discussed what was being done to improve the hunter’s image, surprisingly little was said about challenges to angling, including the current campaign by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to abolish tournament fishing in particular. PETA also objects to catch-and-release angling in which fish “are let go to be hooked and tortured all over again,” but it makes a stronger moral case when it points out that most kept fish are not killed immediately, but are put in boxes where they suffocate slowly British sporting magazines occasionally mention the need for anglers to carry “priests” to club fish instantly and humanely to death, but American writers rarely broach the subject.

After listening to speakers from a spectrum of governmental agencies, nonprofit groups, private corporations, and universities, I decided that precisely because hunting does not allow us to “release” what we capture, hunters today are constrained by rituals and ethical considerations seldom raised by modern anglers.

This wasn’t always so. Back about the time Pericles was refining a system of laws for ancient Athens, a Chinese philosopher by the name of Kung Fu-tse (alias, Confucius) was developing a social system based on personal conscience and peer pressure for every imaginable activity, including angling. Confucius believed that legalistic societies eventually fall apart because people come to believe that whatever isn’t specifically forbidden by law is condoned by it. That’s why he resisted the idea that an institution or the state should arbitrate personal behavior. Rules of conduct agreed on by the majority should be enforced by peer pressure, not the police, he taught. But all activities should have peer-pressured rules.

Under Confucius’s ethical system, the “true angler” must fish with only one hook and line at a time and never use a net, not even to help him land a fish, because the measure of the angler’s worth is in how he captures a fish, not in what he does with it once it’s in hand. An angler who fishes with more than one hook and line, or uses a net, tips the balance of the sport in his favor and, thereby, reduces the ethical value of its experience.

Confucius believed that while we’re all born with conscience, it must be cultivated to serve us and society. Neglected or corrupted by false standards of fair play, conscience grows rank and unwanted like a weed. Since Confucius believed he was only articulating what everyone intuitively knows to be true, he called himself “a transmitter, not an originator” of the precepts he codified. What makes his teachings so remarkable is that 2,500 years later his descendants and disciples are still practicing what Confucius preached–including fishing with only one hook and line at a time.

Even as recently as a century ago in the United States, anglers held themselves to a number of standards higher than those we accept today. A commercial fisherman might fish more than one line, but a sportsman, never. In addition, many 1890s anglers felt it was unethical to fight a fish sitting down (unless the angler were in a canoe), to wear a harness, or to accept assistance of any kind while the fight was going on unless he were handicapped, a novice, or–forgive those Victorian gentlemen–an “anglerette.”

In 1894, off California’s Catalina Island, General Charles Viete hooked and fought for 2 hours a giant sea bass that eventually took refuge in a kelp bed. Determined to win the battle, the general tightened up his line and tied it to the rod. He then lashed the rod to an empty oil drum and left it adrift while he went back to the island for lunch. When he returned some hours later, he brought a grapnel and succeeded in tearing away the kelp without breaking the line. After another half hour of standup combat, the 227-pound sea bass was gaffed and hauled over the side. It was a remarkable victory, but was it a fair catch? “Of course not,” the general replied. “I had lunch; the fish didn’t.”

WHEN BIG-GAME FISHING came into vogue in the 1910s, some fishermen–including most chartermen–thought it too much to ask the average angler, especially newcomers to the sport, to hold a rod all day and then fight a tuna or billfish standing up. Yet in 1913, William C. Boschen did precisely that when he landed the first broadbill swordfish (a 358-pounder) ever taken on rod and reel. He subsequently caught dozens of billfish single-handedly, without a harness, and all standing up.

Another member of the Catalina Tuna Club, J. A. Wiborn, was so fearful he might accept assistance if it were available, he fished by himself and earned the sobriquet, “Lone Angler.” My eighty-five-year-old friend Frank Mather keeps this tradition alive today, less because he’s too proud to accept assistance than because he can find few younger men willing and able to maintain his pace in pursuit of giant bluefin tuna and billfish. Frank has caught, tagged, and released dozens of such fish single-handedly.

Why do we no longer uphold the ethical validity of fishing only one line per angler and then fighting even large salt-water fish unassisted and standing up? Are the techniques dictated by the tackle what make fly fishermen virtually the only anglers who practice such standards today? Or could it be that the generally greater ethical demands of fly fishing are precisely what attract an increasing number of people to this sport?

For one thing, as deep-sea fishing grew in popularity, guides–not sportsmen–set ethical standards based on minimal levels that would enable even the most inexperienced or inept anglers to catch records “according to the rules.” Four, six, up to a dozen lines at a time were trolled for half as many anglers aboard a boat. While it may be too much to expect a greenhorn to tackle his first tuna standing up, establishing standards that put him on par with expert anglers belittled the value of skill. The result of al1 this is that trolling has become a team sport in which the skipper and mate play as important roles as the angler.

What’s allowed in charter fishing has gradually become the standard in most fishing. The goal is to capture the largest or the greatest accumulated poundage of fish under the most rudimentary rules of sportsmanship. There are notable exceptions, of course, but increasingly the ethical “hows” of angling have been overwhelmed by the simpler “how-tos” with no moral message. And whereas competition was once seen as a corrosive influence on good sportsmanship, even conservation groups now use angling contests as a means of raising money and publicizing their cause.

Writing in the September 1922 issue of the Izaak Walton League’s Outdoor America, “Lone Angler” Wiborn spoke for a now-forgotten generation’s view of competitive fishing when he noted that “competition creates false standard of sportsmanship. The best interests of conservation are debauched by prize contests. The joy of a day a-stream, or a-field, often is deadened by false desire to be number one.”

A century ago, our angling forefathers thought they could best perpetuate our sport by giving trout and bass “gamefish” status, thereby, putting them off-limits to commercial exploitation. Other fresh-water fishes soon received gamefish status, and in recent years, coastal states have begun giving the same protection to certain marine species. At the same time, however, recreational fishing is increasingly haunted by a type of commercial enterprise called “tournament angling,” in which the word “gamefish” takes on a new meaning.

As I was leaving St. Louis, I ran into a couple of tournament fishermen who’d just completed a week of contests and were heading home overnight before rushing off to their next series of competitions. As we waited at the gate, we reminisced about earlier times. One of them remembered that twenty-four years ago I’d covered the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s second “classic” tournament for this magazine. He said, “Things were simpler then,” and added, “more fun.” The second man explained: “It’s a hustle today.” Angling for them had lost its innocence and much of its charm.

We’re at a crossroads in angling–a fork in the evolution of American sportsmanship made all the more perilous by the fact that few of us can define ethics and most of us confuse it with law. The law, however, involves public obligations; ethics involve personal ones. Breaking the law entails public expense; the only cost–though it’s a significant one–of betraying an ethical standard is the damage it does to one’s soul.

Not all fish and game administrators agree. Many seem capable of resolving their own ethical conundrums only by creating unnecessary laws for others. For example, once members of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission had decided that snagging spade-fish was morally reprehensible, they banned the use of snag hooks under all circumstances, even for someone merely wanting to catch a menhaden or for bait. By converting an ethical issue into law, the VMRC left no room for individual conscience.

By contrast, Missouri’s Department of Conservation (DOC) only debated the possibility of outlawing “fish-herding.” In stocked trout waters, the DOC found that “some anglers spot a trophy-sized fish, surround it and literally herd it into shallow water or a rocky crevice, then taunt it with their lures until it strikes.” Still, the DOC’s Regulations Committee did not take action. Kathy Love, editor of the Missouri Conservationist, explains why: “It takes effort and guts to challenge the behavior you see around you, whether it’s poaching or trout herding. But the alternative means relinquishing personal responsibility. So let’s try an experiment. . . watch for the ‘herders.’ tot them know their actions aren’t acceptable. Let’s put them out of business without adding another law to the books.”

Seventy-seven generations of Confucians would agree.

FIVE PERFECT TIPS FOR YOUR SUMMER PICNIC

The simplest way for you to have a period of time staying away from your house, which you face every single day of your life, and enjoy the natural landscape of the countryside or the mountainous areais to easily pack up your tent and the head out.Going on picnic is easy to gather all of your family members in a rust, then drive to the countries and enjoy these wonderful days of summer vacation. [Read more…]

A chicken farmer goes to sea

A stay onboard a commercial crab boat is described. The hardships of long hours, difficult work, odd sleeping schedules and seasickness are compared to tranquil horizon vistas. Sightings of humpback whales, seabirds and other marine life are noted. The balance between time spent fishing and the market price of sea catches is carefully monitored. [Read more…]

Bait revolution

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Artificial rotational bait is successful in sport fishing because it imitates live bait in spinning and rolling movements. Bass, salmon and other saltwater fish are vulnerable to the revolving moves.
A new crop of rotational baits is turning in dizzying numbers of trophy gamefish.

Question: What bait appears to be the reinvention of an old bait rig, but actually has the potential to cause blitzkrieg attacks from trout, walleyes, bass, salmon – and who knows what else?

Answer: The lure I’m alluding to is the rotational bait. Not spinners or lures with spinner blades (which turn faster), but artificials whose entire bodies turn at a precise one or two revolutions per second. Judging by results, this methodical spin often drives fish crazy to strike.

In truth, baits that rotate simply imitate cut-plug herring or sewn minnows. The former is the bait of choice for king salmon in the northwestern United States and Canada. Cut-plug herring and mullets are also widely used for striped bass, while fillets of other baitfish cut to rotate are the staple offering of many saltwater fisherman.

The premise of all rotational lures and natural baits is simple. They are designed to appeal to a predator’s instinctive tendency to target wounded prey – the most efficient way to feed. To fish lurking below a dam or other tailrace, rotating forage is a familiar phenomenon. Salmon and other saltwater species that slash through baitfish schools also are accustomed to the sight of revolving fish. In both cases, rotating baitfish mean vulnerable prey.

Other fish – ambush predators or so-called chase-and-chomp feeders that don’t see much rotating forage – can be attracted by rotational motion as well. The sight, sound and scent stimuli of rotating, wounded prey could simply be embedded in the genetic history of such fish.

Predators are drawn to wounded prey because the rotating baitfish present a distinct visual pattern as they turn. The motion betrays their natural camouflage – dark back, silvery undersides – that helps protect them when viewed from above or below. The slower roll and specific vibrations produced seem particularly desirable to predators. Rotational baits imitate these enticing characteristics.

Various minnows, smelt and chubs, rigged with a body curve or kink causing them to rotate, were historical favorites for walleyes, trout, smallmouths, pike and muskies. Such natural “sewn” baits are still used regionally across the nation but have greatly declined in popularity since the mid-1950s. The probable reason for the drop-off is the extra fussing it takes to rig them, combined with the fact that they don’t last long, especially when cast and retrieved in a strong current. To make rigging natural herring easier, plastic devices were developed to hold the bait strips. Les Davis’ (a division of Luhr-Jensen) Herring-Aid is but one example of the many such lures on the market today.

Trolling flashers used as attractors ahead of non-rotating lures are another good example of rotational baits. A popular choice is the Cutplug, a hard lure from Davis/Luhr-Jensen that emulates natural cut-plug herring strips. More recently, Louis Lures of Quebec introduced the weedless Maxilou spoon. Unlike normal spoons that wobble, this one rotates, and its turning rate is slower than a spinner. B-17 Tackle offers a Headspin streamer fly that rotates behind a swivel.

Then there are the thin plastic spoon-like lures with prismatic tape. Curly’s Perma-Strip from O’Ki Tackle and Big Al’s Crippled Minnow are two such baits. These two lures are free to slide up line or leader on the strike, thus eliminating any leverage advantage for the fish. The free-sliding design is common among many venerable hard-bodied rotational lures.

Rotating jig-spoons like the Canadian-made Buzz Bomb and similar brands are also typical revolving baits. Their design is really an offshoot of the famous Devon Minnow introduced in England in the late 18th century, which is still a popular gamefish lure there. The forward portion of its lead torpedo-shaped body is equipped with two propellerlike fins that cause the entire unit to rotate on a wire axis. A host of imitators followed, including many lures crafted of wood. Variations also were made in the United States.

This list of rotational baits is proof enough that lure makers have long realized the importance of rotational action. More recently, however, new lures and new applications for rotational baits have come onto the scene.

The latest rotational lure introduction, though originally designed as a cut-plug herring imitator, offers variable service as a cast, drift and jerkbait. A prototypical rotational bait, the lure is the Herring Hooker from Osmic Research Corporation. A tapered strip cut diagonally at its wide end, the Herring Hooker is made of a compound based on basic proteins, impregnated with natural herring pieces and fish attractants. As real food, it is biodegradable if submerged for long periods in a lake or stream, and it’s digestible by fish, birds or mammals. It does not need refrigeration, but it should be stored dry and fairly cool.

The Herring Hooker is one part of a bait system. The other half is a short plastic sleeve called the Hooker Head, which holds the Herring Hooker strip. The plastic head is equipped with a fin on one side that causes the entire unit to rotate.

Rotational speed is adjusted by repositioning the Herring Hooker strip in the head sleeve, repositioning the rigged hook, or by using various weight hooks. Usually, moving the strip in the head sleeve is sufficient. The unit is rigged on a leader behind a Bead chain swivel, and the leader is directly connected to a treble hook. The strip and head are simply positioned along the leader and stopped in place by a snip of wood toothpick. The complete rig is light – fish have no leverage advantage – and you can bet that it’s deadly.

Individual anglers and charter boat captains have flooded the company with testimonials and orders after only a few months of use. Initially, the bait was intended and used for lake trout and Chinook salmon. It took little time, though, for field testers and the bait’s innovator, Dr. Greg Bambenek (also known as Dr. Juice), to discover its potency on other species.

One interesting use for the Herring was stumbled upon when Bambenek won the recent Tim Irwin Celebrity Bass Tournament on lakes Loudon and Tellico in Tennessee. In the early mornings when bass were in shallow water, he rigged the strip like a Slug-Go or Jerk Worm. The Herring Hooker was impaled through the wide end and slid up the hook shank. The hook point was then inserted near the narrow tail end to keep the strip bait flat. No weight was used. Rigged this way the bait could be twitched and jerked on the surface or allowed to sink three or four feet, then retrieved the same way. Pearl/pure finish proved most successful.

When the fish went deeper, Bambenek rigged the strip Carolina-style. He threaded a one-ounce egg sinker on his line ahead of a Bead chain swivel. To the swivel he tied a four-foot leader and attached the Hooker rig as it would be for trolling, with the hook trailing near the tail. The lure rotated as it was raised and lowered, jigged along points and underwater humps in 15 to 20 feet of water. Chartreuse and pearl/black were the successful colors.

The rig was also found effective for walleyes. Downrigger trolling for walleyes is becoming more common in larger lakes in Minnesota and Ontario, and rotational baits are starting to play a role in this craze. In Lake Erie’s Eastern Basin, Pennsylvanian Mike Bleech has had outstanding success taking suspended walleyes running Herring Hookers 45 to 60 feet deep in 135 feet of water. He runs the strips eight to 10 feet behind downrigger balls, and 30 inches in back of Dipsy Divers. Pearl/pure, chartreuse and black/pearl are his best colors.

Angler John Henrickson also trolls for suspended walleyes. He typically checks with other anglers, or examines stomach contents of his first fish, to determine the size bait on which the walleyes are feeding. He then simply cuts one of the Herring Hooker strips to match the bait size.

Mark Martin, Michigan’s “Mr. Walleye” and a pro guide, experimented with a Herring Hooker on his last charter of the 1991 season. At first he thought it was a “weird-looking” bait. However, Martin’s client was happy he gave it a chance. They boated seven and eight-pound walleyes and 12 smallmouths; the largest bronzeback was a whopping 21 inches.

The increasingly successful use of this rotational bait on walleyes and bass has prompted Osmic Research to introduce a three-inch-size strip this year. Called the Gyro-Mino, it fits the standard small Herring Hooker Head and comes in the same color selections. Instead of ground herring, shiners are used in the Gyro.

When trolled, the Herring Hooker rig can handle speeds from 1.5 to 4.0 mph, the most productive speeds normally falling in the 1.5 to 2.3 mph range. As mentioned, the real trick seems to be keeping the Herring Hooker rotating in the magic range of 1.5 to 2.0 turns per second (1.7 to 1.8 is tops for lakers). To gauge revolutions, run your boat at trolling speed, stream the lure at boat side and count the revolutions for 10 seconds. It’s best to aim for 15 to 20 revolutions during the 10-second span.

Even rotational lures can sometimes benefit from a change of pace, however. Witness the accidental discovery made by John DeLorme, a popular Lake Ontario charter boat skipper. DeLorme likes running a green/black spot Herring Hooker 40 inches behind a Gold Star luminescent dodger for kings and lakers. On one fishing trip, a big salmon broke the fin from a Hooker Head and DeLorme didn’t change it. Instead, he caught two more fish on it while the other non-broken rigs weren’t producing. Evidently, this time the fish preferred the more erratic rotation produced by the broken head. Upon hearing the story, Bambenek devised a new Hooker Head that produces more erratic action than the original.

Obviously, no bait is guaranteed to garner limits each and every time out. But rotational baits can be a potent offering. The rotational lures, like the Herring Hooker, are improvements on old, effective techniques that have more than earned the right to come around one more time. They certainly deserve a place in your tackle box.

Which fishing waders are better: neoprene or breathable?

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Before walking in a fishing destination, you certainly consider the waders, advantages, and disadvantages for your trip. Two main types of fishing waders are neoprene and breathable. Each one has the bad and good effects so it’s important to choose the good one.

The best option is carrying two types in your fishing trip. However, if you only can choose one, you must consider your wading needs before making a decision. Here are characteristics of those waders to help modern fishers choose the best breathable waders and neoprene waders for your trip. [Read more…]

The Best And Top Quality Fish Finders In Current Market

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Fish Finder is an electrical device to locate the presence of fishes to achieve better performance by the fisherman. It uses the sonar technology, so it will provide you a 360 report of the surrounding area to observe the presence of marine life. This technology is generally used in maritime sector. Whatever, every machine has its highest and lowest capabilities. We discussed about some best fish finder available in the current market in here. This deep research will help you to determine the best quality product for yourself. [Read more…]