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Robert Montgomery

Why We Fish

Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies

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What You Should Know About Taking Kids Fishing

First, and foremost, the primary goal for a young child going fishing is to have fun--- not catch fish. Some adults have trouble remembering that.

Take them to a pond, lake, or small stream where the panfish are plentiful, and fish with live bait and the simplest of gear, such as a cane pole or spincast outfit. Also take a bucket or two, and maybe some jars with holes in their lids. Don’t try to fish yourself. If you do, you’ll just get frustrated. Your full attention should be on being a teacher.

Remember that most every child will want to keep the first few fish that he or she catches. It’s natural, perhaps that first awakening of the hunter-gatherer imperative that is a part of our species. If the fish aren’t biting, that same instinct will kick in when the child turns attention to catching frogs or crawdads.

Before you respond to a plea to keep the catch, start a conversation about its color, size, beauty, and/or uniqueness. Point out a frog’s webbed feet and its big, flat ears on the sides of its head. Spread a sunfish’s dorsal fin and explain its spines. Hold your hands up vertically by the sides of your face and wave them back and forth as if you are a fishing breathing through gills. It’s okay to be silly. Actually, it’s better to be silly.

Suggest placing the critter in a bucket or jar, without agreeing to take it home. Usually, that will be enough. By the time that you are ready to leave, the novelty will have passed, and you can turn loose the catch without protest. I’d suggest doing so with a little ceremony, maybe waving goodbye as the fish swims or the frog hops away.

If you meet with resistance, explain that the animal will die if taken away from its natural home. Most kids don’t think about that until it is explained to them.

When the time is right, too, keep some of those fish and teach kids how to clean them.

Above all, though, take them fishing.

From Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature.


Be A Good Steward: Recover and Recycle Used Fishing Line

Check out Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's newly updated Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program website. Even if you don't live in Florida, it's a great resource, providing information about such topics as how to build a recycling bin  and how to be more "line conscious" in keeping discarded line from harming fish and wildlife.

Here are some tips from the site:

Whenever possible, retrieve and properly dispose of any monofilament line that you encounter, even if it is not yours. You can even make your own line holder by cutting an 'X' into the lid of a tennis ball canister or coffee container to make it easy to poke the pieces of line through.

Use PVC recycling bins located at boat ramps and piers or visit a local tackle shop with a line recycling bin. If the tackle shop you visit does not have a recycling bin, encourage them to participate in the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program.

It is particularly important to take the time to remove monofilament from mangroves because mangroves are a crucial part of coastal areas, and the slightest imbalance can take a heavy toll on these fragile ecosystems. Mangroves are breeding grounds and nurseries for a variety of marine organisms as well as serve as a buffer between the land and the sea, helping prevent coastal erosion.




Bass Fishermen Are Going To Love This

Dennis Choi caught this 15.46-pound largemouth at California's Lake Camanche, while fishing for trout with Berkley Power eggs. That's right, this lunker took the tiny offering rigged on Choi's light spinning gear and 4-pound test line.

And it was only the second bass that Choi has ever caught. But he fought it like a pro, taking his time so that it wouldn't spool his reel or break the line.

After taking photos and weighing the huge fish at the marina, he turned it loose.

"We released the bass at the boat ramp and it swam away," he said. "I'm thrilled that the fish is back in the lake swimming."

The bass is the second largest caught at the fishery southeast of Sacramento. The lake record is 18.17, taken in 2015.

As I explain in my book, Why We Fish, when you go fishing "you just never know."


Don't Try to 'Out-Think' Bass

You’re just outsmarting yourself if you try to “out-think” bass. Yes, bass are capable of learned behavior. But they definitely aren’t the “Einsteins” of the fish world. Carp and bluegill rank higher in laboratory tests. Most importantly, though, bass (and other fish species) don’t “think” and they aren’t “smart.”

Rather, bass are selective as to food, cover, and water, and, each spring, they are driven by the biological imperative to spawn. Those anglers who are smart enough to recognize those needs and respond accordingly, are the ones who catch the most and largest bass.  They look for water and cover that they have learned is attractive to bass during each season of the year. They learn the migration routes that fish take to those locations. They observe what bass are feeding on and try to offer baits that are similar in appearance.

From "Biology and Behavior" in Better Bass Fishing.


Still Hooked On Fishing

I was hooked the first time that I went fishing, even though I didn’t catch a fish. Just seeing another Cub Scout pull in a bluegill with a cane pole was enough for me.

Until well into my teens, I fished to catch fish. Period. I didn’t just love to fish. I lived to fish.

That began to change in college, when I intuitively went fishing to relieve stress. But still I didn’t think about. Nor did it occur to me to wonder why we fish as a young outdoors writer, when I met fishing guides, bass pros, and folks in the fishing industry.

But as I met people who told me stories about the intangible value of angling, I did start to wonder. Soldiers stationed in Iraq shared with me that fishing over there made them feel closer to home. A father with an autistic child revealed how his son is happier on the water. And the organizer of a fishing event for children with terminal illness told me about how a little girl screamed with joy to feel the wind in her hair as she rode in a bass boat.

I also began to realize that going fishing as an adult awakened in me so many wonderful memories of angling trips with friends and family when I was younger.

Excerpt from Why We Fish.