Friday, January 11, 2019

Now I MIGHT be starting an argument here...

By Bill Prater
(Bill is now writing as a Field Editor for http://fishexplorer.com

I wouldn’t normally rub Tom or Dave or Dan’s nose in it, but there is a fatal flaw or two behind an angler's determination to measure (or worse, to eat) whatever they catch:  
For one, when success is defined by size or taste, or limited by the statutes on legal harvest, you rule out meaningful pursuit of 75 or 80 percent of perfectly good prey in any particular body of water.

Also, when you troll for walleye in 30 feet of water with heavy gear, the best that can happen is you’ll catch an eating-size walleye or carp. Meanwhile I’m giggling like a newborn as I locate school after school of naive bluegill, or beds full of horny bass just under the legal limit. And though I don’t get after them as often as I’d like, there is nothing more satisfying than luring a tiny brook trout out of an honest to God brook.

My point here, and I do have one, is there is satisfaction in landing a one-pound smallmouth on 4-pound braid, if your success isn’t determined by an ability to dredge up a 4-pounder from the middle of the lake. And there are a lot more one-pound bass around here than 18-inch walleye. 

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the tug of a big one nearly as much as any other fishing fanatic. I prove that way too often by going to occasionally comical lengths to put myself in the vicinity of a monster. It’s just that I also find myself happy when testing how light I can go with my gear and still have a reasonable chance at winning a fish fight. When you find yourself pondering whether a 15-foot long fluorocarbon leader might reduce the stress on the knot connection to 4-pound Nanofil, you are well on your way to being an ultralight fanatic.
  
I would argue that when you absolutely must land and eat or at least measure your foe, you are likely to do everything possible to make sure he or she winds up in the boat or on the bank. (As much as I like watching bass pros at work on television, I flinch when they winch a big bass out of the water so fast the fish is practically flying. I understand the reasoning; you don’t want them to jump, and you want the fight over as quickly as possible. But that’s the exact opposite of why I pursue fishing as a sport and not a harvest. 

When your worst intention is to give your catch an unwanted kiss before release, you may be pilloried by fishing buddies, or PETA or the #MeToo movement. But you’re also just obsessing on how light your rig can get. (Here’s one free tip:  you can get away with a lot lighter gear in winter than summer).

There is a “fine line” to all this, of course; you really can hurt a fish by playing with it too long. And if you’re fishing water where monsters lurk, you don’t want to carry a pocket knife to a gunfight. You just have to remember not to cry in front of friends when a big one gets away through your own unfortunate gear choices. Fortunately for me, I fish way too much water where that’s not a typical problem. (Just got back from the Laramie Lakes in Wyoming. It appears any size gear would have worked as well as my spikes and 2-pound ice line.)
Anyone else annoying their friends by throwing fish back, or acquiring a growing collection of miniature fishing gear? 

Anyone else skunked lately?
      Author: Can

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