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Unblocking the code

August 24, 2016

Many of us were lucky enough to have some early fishing experiences. Yet, as Robert Frost reminded us, “knowing how way leads on to way” we get sidetracked with “little things.” Little things like getting an education, working, falling in love and having a family. You know, the type of things that can seriously distract you from having more of those great fishing experiences.

Often it’s years later when you have an epiphany. You see a terrific fishing rig at a yard sale or perhaps you see some photos on Facebook, maybe an old chum posing with a great fish—a striped bass or perhaps a jumbo pickerel. You think, “Gee, I enjoyed fishing with good Ol’ Uncle Josh when I was a kid. Why don’t I do it now?”

“How tricky can trout or freshwater bass be?” you ask yourself. After all, you’ve caught lots of fish trolling the ocean. Well, starting again on new waters can be a challenge. Catching a trout isn’t like catching a flounder and catching a largemouth isn’t like catching a striper (rockfish). The codes for most fish are not usually the same.

It isn’t about one kind of fishing being better than another. It so happens that I like all types of fishing, blue water trolling for giant quarry or casting a wee fly for sipping trout, flats fishing for bonefish, or working a popper on a bass lake. It’s all good. When a fish strikes, I experience a thrill, and it’s nearly the same for a tiny brookie as it is for a triple-digit tarpon. The “take” is always magical.

These experiences have another common denominator beyond the thrill of the take. It is that each type of fishing usually requires the angler to put some time into learning about and studying the habits of each particular species.

None of this is rocket science. After all, we are just trying to outwit a cold-blooded creature with a brain the size of a pea. But each and every species has its own feeding characteristics. Different lures and techniques are necessary to trigger that strike unless you are fishing for pan fish with a worm and cork bobber. Truly, there are thousands of different lures available today and countless techniques, and all work at times. Discovering which one works the very best is the key. It is the art to unlocking the code.