In this entry, just like the title says, I’m going to talk about the past fishing season. I’d like to talk about what I did, what worked, and how I’m going to move forward next year. My hope is that it’ll be instructional for people who are interested in the topic or who might want to take it up. As I’m always learning, I’m open to any suggestions people may pass along.
To get the obvious out of the way, yes, I bought a fishing license. I buy one yearly. Yes, as an anarchist, I believe that requiring permission for something so basic as catching a fish is an absolute affront to my humanity. Yes, I understand that making use of the land and its resources to sustain myself is an absolute and fundamental human right. Yes, I understand that buying that license is an act of submission to arbitrary authority. If it helps, I believe that the Mane Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has overall good intentions and is well managed. The money I’m extorted for a license is probably doing some good. In the end though, I just want to fish without the stress of breaking a law. Sometimes, to get down the road, you have to pay a bribe to the highwaymen. Utopia’s still a ways off.
My fishing is pretty much an extension of my paddling. Some people, when they fish, motor around the lake and target specific areas. They’ll cruise from place to place, stopping for a while at each one to cast around. Maybe they’ll make sure to hit a particular spot, such as near a rock or a little nook. There might be a fish hiding in there. They’ll spend the day doing that. Honestly, I don’t see those guys catching much. When I go, I’m usually in my jonboat, trying to make it to camp. I’m headed down the lake, seven or eight miles or more, and I’m rowing. I don’t have the time or energy to systematically cover the whole lake. But on the way, I’ll troll, dragging a line behind me. I just cast out a line and start rowing. I may as well. Secondary as it is though to what I do, I still catch fish.
And, although simple it’s simple and incidental, I believe that my setup is ideal. Unlike the constant and steady thrust of a motor, my boat is constantly changing speed, accelerating and then slowing with each stroke of my oar. With that, the lure out behind me is constantly changing speed and direction as well. Without much thought or effort on my part, it’s perfectly mimicking the natural motions of the bait. And I’m not doing a lot of casting, making fish run and hide from the splashing. For as long as I row, my lure is just a little silver fish, bobbing and weaving across the way. There’s nothing unnatural or scary about it at all.
One drawback though is that the lure tends near the surface. I catch a lot of bass, but the trout and landlocked salmon swim much, much deeper. I’m tempted to look into downriggers and lead core line, but the little bit of research I’ve done says that I’d need a new rod and reel. I’m on a budget, and I’m trying to keep it simple. Maybe, that’s something that will wait.
I do fish with lures. On The Survival Podcast once, in an episode on fishing, Jack Spirko determined that fish eat worms and that that’s what you should use. Fair enough. Lures also potentially complicate the matter. Knowing about the habits of the fish and the biology of the lake can potentially effect your choice. Fish will avoid the wrong lure. I’ve found though that a basic silver kastmaster works consistently on the waters I fish. I’ve heard that I should use something brighter or more colorful on a cloudy day. Honestly, I’m more likely to stay home on a day like that.
Otherwise, my gear is mostly fine. I’m catching fish. I have a Shakespeare Ugly Stick rod and a decent Shimano spinning reel. One day, I’d like to go to a high end outdoor store, like Cabellas or LL Bean, and ask them to show me a hell of a nice rod. I don’t necessarily know how it would make the experience better, but it’s still a pipe dream I have. What I do need though is a better carrying case for my rod. Put together from 4 inch PVC pipe, it’s a little on the heavy side and definitely not something I’d take backpacking. Some day, I’m going to explore other options.
Additionally, I’m looking for a better way to preserve the fish for memory. Since something died to sustain me, I think it’s important to somehow honor the event. I’m talking pictures now, and that’s fine. I’ve discounted the idea of taxidermy though as it’s too expensive. I would like to learn more and perhaps try Gyotaku, making an impression on rice paper with ink. It’s a Japanese art, and a search on Google images will show some really cool stuff. It seems simple enough. It’s something I may try next year.
Finally, I fish for food, and I’m always looking to prepare my meals better. Right now, I basically just dust the things in flour or cornmeal and pan fry. Flour is better, to my palate. A little salt brightens things up. I’m told that placing lemon slices in the cavity is good, and I’ll bring one along next year. Getting ambitious, I wonder how the Chinese or the Japanese would prepare their fish in a similar situation. Remembering that freshwater sushi would be deadly, how would an experienced Japanese cook prepare a freshly caught bass? A little bit of research is needed.
On the whole though, I count this year as a success. In the places I go, I can consistently catch fish when I go out. If I want a fish for lunch, it’s not a thing. I know the places to go, and my gear is adequate. As a fisherman, I could do worse.