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Thursday
Sep262013

How Fishing Makes Our Lives Better Revealed in New Book

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Have you heard the buzz about Why We Fish, a new book by award-winning writer Robert Montgomery? During the short time since its publication, it already has collected 19 five-star reviews at Amazon.

Bill Dance, one of the world’s most famous and beloved anglers, says this:

“Your new book, Why We Fish, is a perfect example of your unbelievable talents, Robert, and it’s absolutely a masterpiece.”

At Examiner, author Ron Presley adds:

“Robert Montgomery’s book is jam-packed with recollection, education, philosophy, and fun as it searches for an answer to Why We Fish. I recommend it highly.”

And at The Online Fisherman, publisher Gary Poyssick contributes:

“Whether you read it like one string of spaghetti coming out of a very tasty sauce, or you pick at it like those pistachio nuts you really should stop eating by the thirty-dollar pound, taste it. It is worth the chews, and so is anything this guy spends the time writing.”

In Why We Fish, Montgomery reveals that we fish to remember and we fish to forget. We fish when we’re happy, and when we’re sad. We fish to bond with friends and family, or to be alone.

Whatever our motivation, no matter where we on the success spectrum, he explains, fishing makes our lives better in ways we never could have imagined. It slows us down. It sets us free. It teaches us about nature, even while showing us how much we don’t know. And fishing becomes the foundation of our fondest memories.

Not wanting his voice to be the only one in the book, Montgomery also asked nine others to contribute. They include Bill Dance, Dave Precht (B.A.S.S.), Dr. Bruce Condello (BigBluegill.com), Kathy Magers, Ken Cook (Fishing Tackle Retailer), Steve Chaconas (Potomac River guide), Teeg Stouffer (Recycled Fish), Ross Gordon (Mystery Tackle Box), Ben Leal, and Timothy Chad Montgomery.

Published by NorLights Press, the 215-page book contains 50 essays. It is available from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book sellers.

 

Wednesday
Sep252013

Five-Year-Old Catches Bill Fish Grand Slam

Most of us will fish for a lifetime without catching a billfish “grand slam” ---- three species in the same day.

But following a day off the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her father, five-year-old Taylor Collins already has checked that accomplishment off her bucket list.

It’s an unofficial grand slam because she had help from the mate. Still, it’s an amazing feat.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday
Sep242013

Wind Can Be an Angler's Friend

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Pushing waves before it, wind can make boating difficult and sometimes even dangerous.

Wind also can make it tough for you to cast and even cause backlashes.

But when it doesn’t blow too hard, wind also is your friend. That’s because “reading it” properly can help you catch bass.

In fact, you’ll better know where to look for bass and how to make them bite in your favorite lake if you understand how weather in general affects them. Wind, however, is a primary key, as is cloud cover.

Know about these two aspects and the rest will fall into place, according to Bob Ponds, a former tournament angler who worked for years as a radar specialist and supervisor for the National Weather Service.

“I don’t think that it takes deep knowledge to use the weather,” he says. “It just takes common sense.”

Let’s start with the wind.

Don’t look for a place to get out of the wind, so casting and boat handling will be easier. Instead focus on the wind-blown banks and shallow points. That’s because the wind pushes plankton against it. Shad, minnows, and other baitfish then move in to feed and bass follow.

During clear, colder weather, such places also draw bass because the wind blows in upper layers of water that have been warmed by the sun.

Also, wind stirs up the surface, hindering light penetration. That creates a low-light condition below the surface, making bass feel more secure, and so encourages them to feed more aggressively. This is especially true in clear water.

Because bass prefer darker conditions, sunrise and sunset often are best times to fish, especially in shallow water. Cloudy days also can be prime, and, in fact, a topwater bite can continue from dusk until dawn when clouds and/or wind are right.

Many anglers believe that wind direction plays an important role in whether the bass will bite. In fact, an old adage says, “Wind in the east, fish bite least.”

Ponds says that’s not so. Also, he doesn’t believe that barometric pressure is as important as others insist.

Yes, a fish’s balance might be thrown off temporarily by decreasing or increasing atmospheric pressure from a passing front. That’s because its swim bladder contracts or expands with the change.

“But barometric pressure doesn’t affect how fish bite so much as indicates the conditions that affect how fish bite,” he says.

In other words, a low-pressure storm front brings with it clouds and wind. Both of those are good for the bite.

By contrast, high pressure behind that rain brings with it sunny skies and light winds. Both are bad.

“Wind in the east” signals that the clouds are passing and bright “bluebird skies” are on the way. That’s why it often is associated with poor fishing.

During winter, fish--- and fishermen--- also get hammered with colder temperatures when a high pressure moves in following low pressure. That makes for even tougher fishing.

But the angler who remembers that the wind is his friend will know where to fish during this difficult time.

(This article appeared originally in Junior Bassmaster.)

Tuesday
Sep242013

Some Waters Better for Fish to Breathe Than Others

I wrote the following a few years back for Junior Bassmaster. It explains how fish breathe and why proper care in a livewell is so important. With that in mind, please check out the V-T2 from New Pro Products. It’s an amazing innovation for maintaining a healthy livewell environment. It’s also easy to install and inexpensive.

 If sharks had feet, they would wear out a lot of shoes.

Many species of sharks, along with tunas, must constantly move in order to breathe. That can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep.

Bass and most other fish are lucky. Like us, they can breathe while they are not moving. And like us, they breathe to put oxygen into their bodies so that they can live.

But bass, sharks, and all other fish are very different from us in how they get that oxygen. We breathe in air so that our lungs can obtain oxygen. By contrast, fish push water through their mouths and across their gills, which take in the oxygen that they need. Most fish just open and close their mouths to push the water, while tunas and some sharks must move to do so.

Having gills, makes a bass a real “fish out of water” when you pull it onto shore or into your boat. Unless you treat it with care and put it quickly into a livewell or back into a lake or river, it will die because it can not get the oxygen it needs from air.

Some species, such as catfish, can live longer out of water than others. But always it is a good idea to return a fish to water as soon as possible.

In that watery world, a bass breathes by opening its mouth and drawing in water. As it does that, it closes its gill covers tight over its gill openings.  Then it closes it mouth and drives the water over its gills and out with special throat muscles.

Gills are those bright red feathery organs that you see beneath the gill covers, or operculum, on the side of a fish’s head. As water is passed through, oxygen is absorbed through the gills and into the fish’s blood. From there, arteries take it throughout the body. As the oxygen is used up by the stomach, brain, liver, and other vital organs, the blood flows to the heart, where it is pumped back to the gills.

Some water is better for breathing than other water. That’s why you should keep your livewell --- and your aquarium at home--- aerated. That means using turbulence from a pump to put oxygen into the water.

You must do this because fish, like us, produce carbon dioxide as waste as they breathe. In a closed container without aeration, a fish soon would use up all of the oxygen and die of suffocation, just as it does when left out in the air for too long. Turbulence replaces the carbon dioxide with live-giving oxygen.

Pumping oxygen in becomes even more important as the water heats up. That’s because warmer water can’t hold as much oxygen as can cooler. Also, a bass needs more oxygen in hot weather because it is cold-blooded and higher temperatures make it more active.

Bass sometimes die in small, shallow ponds during summer, because the water is so warm that it can’t hold enough oxygen for the fish to survive.

In the north, they also might die of suffocation in the winter, when ponds and lakes freeze over. Ice keeps the water from absorbing oxygen from the air. Also, snow cover on the ice can be a killer, as it prevents sun from reaching underwater plants. Without sunlight, plants don’t “breathe” in the water’s carbon dioxide and breathe out the oxygen that fish require.

But such “kills” don’t mean that bass are delicate creatures compared to other fish. Under the same circumstances, just about any other freshwater species would die as well.

Actually, bass are among the most hardy and adaptable, which is why we can fish for them in 49 of the 50 states, from the icy waters of Montana to the sun-warmed waters of Florida.

Wherever you catch them, though, don’t forget that a bass needs water in the same way that you need air. As quickly as you can, let that fish breathe again. 

Monday
Sep232013

Something Is Fishy About Bass Behavior

Illustration from www.highlightskids.com

Bass live in a world very different from ours. We have skin. They have scales. We have feet. They have fins. We sleep about 8 hours a day. They never sleep.

What!? Never sleep!

That’s right. Many scientists believe that bass and most other fish don’t sleep. Perhaps that is why they are so cranky early in the morning when you throw a topwater bait over their heads.

“Bass don’t have eyelids and so they can’t close their eyes,” says David Campbell, a fisheries biologist and coordinator of the Texas ShareLunker program.

So, instead of fish-napping, they simply “rest” in an upright position around a rock or log or grassbed. Many anglers believe that bass and other fish are more likely to relax during the day when the moon is full and feed at night.

A few species, such as the clown loach, actually lie on their backs or sides when they want to rest.

If you were a bass, you probably wouldn’t want to sleep either. Your life would be too short to waste in bed. The oldest bass caught was believed to be between 22 and 24 years old. But the average bass lives only about 10 years, which makes one bass year equal to about eight human years.

During those 10 years, they eat hundreds of minnows, crawfish, and other critters. They use tiny teeth to capture and hold this food. Not once, though, do they ever chew it. Instead, they swallow it whole.

Because of such habits, your mother probably would not approve of you inviting them to dinner.

And what do bass drink with their one-bite meals? Why, water of course, even though that also is what they breathe. Just like us, fish need water in their bodies. They also absorb it through their skins.

Even saltwater fish drink water, but, with the help of their gills, get rid of the salt. That’s why a fish from the ocean doesn’t taste salty when you eat it.

Since bass breathe water, as well as drink it, they can’t drown. Right?

Wrong.

Fish can drown, but not in the same way that people do. In water, they might drown--- or suffocate--- if a stringer or some other object prevents their gills from working. Pollution and dirt also can interfere. A few years ago, thousands of fish drowned because of beer spilled into a Colorado stream.

Out of water, a fish’s gills can not control its oxygen intake, and so it “drowns” in air. That’s why it’s so important to return a bass to the water as quickly and gently as possible.

A bass’ table manners might shock your mother, but it’s a sport fish worthy of being caught more than just once.  

(This article was published originally in CastingKids, a magazine for young anglers from B.A.S.S. Publications.)