Now I MIGHT be starting an argument here...
by: Bill Prater 1/11/2019
I wouldnít normally rub Tom or Paulie or Danís 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 youíll catch an eating-size walleye or carp. Meanwhile Iím 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 donít get after them as often as Iíd 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 isnít 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.
Donít 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. Itís 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 donít want them to jump, and you want the fight over as quickly as possible. But thatís 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 youíre also just obsessing on how light your rig can get. (Hereís one free tip: you can get away with a lot lighter gear in winter than summer).
There is a ďfine lineĒ to all this, of course; you really can hurt a fish by playing with it too long. And if youíre fishing water where monsters lurk, you donít 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 thatís 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?
Blog content © Bill Prater
Coyute, CO 1/11/2019 10:58:03 AM
"you really can hurt a fish by playing with it too long" This! It bugs the crap out of me when anglers (mostly flyboys) who say they use 7X leader and in the same sentence claim they care about fish health. whatever floats your boat I guess.
Ajax5240, CO 1/11/2019 11:34:42 AM
While I agree that the fight on an ultra light rod is a lot of fun, I do question why one would use such light test line just for the thrill of knowing it may break. I think you still accomplish a similar thrill when using 6-8lb line with less chance of sending a fish swimming away with hardware stuck in its face, dragging a few feet of your extra light line. But... to each their own.
Salmon Slayer, CO 1/11/2019 11:36:10 AM
Yeah that ^
Bill Prater (fishthumpre), CO 1/11/2019 2:05:04 PM
Aw, youíve got me Ajas5240. Like any good fisherman I have been known to exaggerate by a pound or two here and there. 4 pound Line is really a more reasonable bottom range. My intent really isnít to argue over line weights so much as the pleasure of matching the size of the gear to the fight in the fish. Just like human Boxers, we kind of need to compete in weight classes.
cisum, CO 1/12/2019 6:27:45 AM
I really like using 6# test for everything,even in brush laden water,it casts great ,as long as you don't use heavy lures,it goes great distance. However, you must know the limits of your rod and reel, and know how to set the drag. Smaller test line lets you feel the lightest bites if you have a quality rod, I really found out the difference a few years back when I spent the money on a quality rod and really baby the thing.
Bill Prater (fishthumpre), CO 1/12/2019 7:02:28 AM
As cisum says, the sensitivity and payoff with light line is hard to overstate. Iíve convinced myself that I get twice as many bites as I used too as a naive 60 year old. Truth is, I was getting a lot of bites back then that I just never felt. I donít think you need to clean out your kidsí inheritance on gear, but they can surely do without an occasional dessert one of these days if you feel the need to invest right now in a good braid. Hereís a tip:Iíve learned to look for sales whenever Linda is at a quilting store.
masteroftheloch, CO 2/1/2019 3:46:33 PM
Fishing is something different to everyone. Some people just want to catch a fish. Some people want to catch a lot of fish. Some people want to catch big fish, and some people want to catch fish the way they want to catch them. Analyzing others and comparing what they are doing and questioning it is a way to learn indeed, but it can be hugely distracting. Also, a lot of the Winching of big bass out of water and in the boat is not so much done in effort to "harvest" as those anglers are some of the most competitive anglers out there. Competition is more sport than harvest.
Bill Prater (fishthumpre), CO 2/4/2019 3:07:02 PM
I really like masteroftheloch's comment "some people want to catch fish the way they want to catch them." Yeah, that's it. And I know that winching big bass out is really necessary in places with a lot of heavy cover. Our bass fishing around here really is a subset of what most people encounter. A lot of what you see on fishing programs is unique to the South. That's why Chad LaChance and Terry Wickstram's programs are so helpful.
PJBrowne, CO 2/22/2019 7:43:09 AM
Hello Bill, I take umbrage to your comment ď Ö. There is a fatal flaw or two behind an angler's determination to measure (or worse, to eat) whatever they catchÖ.Ē: the key word is EAT !
I no longer hunt Deer or Elk or Duck, Geese, Turkey, Quail or Pheasants, but when I did it was for both the sport of the hunt as well the meats. Fishing has the luxury of Catch & Release with a 95% recovery rate of the pray, hunting not so. Knowing the major focus of our fisheries in Colorado is the preservation of the species, believe fishing for the sport has its merits, but also believe a Smoked Trout or Catfish is a fair better reword for the effort.