Alternative Fishing Styles
There we were, me and my new fishing apprentice at the lake. I
was teaching him the rudiments of handling the rod and putting
the bait and we were trying to catch a lake trout while
discussing everything from sports to the most effective
technique to escape from boring clothes-shopping with our wives.
I got some good ideas, I must confess.
At some point he asked me if there were some other fishing
techniques or alternative styles. "Is it always just a fishing
rod, reel, bait, and waiting in sport fishing?" he asked.
Of course it is the most common way to fish but it is not the
only way to fish. In sport fishing, there are different
techniques and tools for fishing depending on the type of fish
you want to catch. There are even games you can play with
friends or family.
One of Murphy's laws says that if something can be used for
something else besides its original use, someone will do it.
Some techniques or methods are more dangerous or fun than others.
Before I could explain him about some fun ways to fish as well
as others too dangerous to practice for a starter, I don't know
why it came to my mind a piece from the New Testament that says
that Jesus is reported to have said to his disciples: "Follow
me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19). Then I
said that in those times, fishing with a net in a group was
considered an honest effort to make a living. I don't know if he
is a religious man, but he agreed with that idea.
Some of you might not like the techniques discussed here. Others
will love them; it is a mater of diversity and sportsmanship.
One of the first fishing techniques we discussed and one I like,
is Hand Fishing, also known as Trout Tickling or Noodling if you
are fishing catfish. Noodling doesn't require any kind of
fishing tool but your hand and it is fun, just try it sometime.
It is also possible to fish lobsters when you are diving or
A variant of it is the Hand-Line Fishing. You just need a line
and a small piece of wood or something to roll the line. I've
seen this done at some beaches in Mexico but, as far as I know,
this is illegal in Kansas.
Another "ancestral" way to fish is Spear Fishing. Traditional
Spear Fishing is restricted to shallow waters, but the
development of the spear gun has made this method much more
efficient. Fishing can be done with an ordinary spear or a
specialized variant such as an eel spear or with a long or short
trident. You can be at a river shore or in the water with basic
or complete scuba equipment. A variant of this is "Bow Fishing"
which might not be fun if you keep losing arrows!!
Net Fishing is another method of sport fishing. All fishing nets
are meshes that are usually knotted by a relatively thin thread.
Modern nets are usually made of nylon, although nets made of
wool or silk thread were common until recently and are still
used in certain areas. The casting net is circular and the
diameter varies. The way to use it is sinking it at the same
time you make a forward motion from surface-down to bottom and
then up. There is a chance that you catch something else, but
hey, some coracles are as good as fish, besides this is also the
way they are caught.
Trawling is a fishing method that involves pulling a fishing net
through the water behind one or more boats. In Mexico there is a
place where the nets simulate butterflies wings and fish like
this. A gill net catches fish which try to pass through it by
snagging on the gill covers. Thus trapped, the fish can neither
advance trough the net nor retreat.
I find Kite Fishing very exotic. It was invented in China and
then learned by people in New Guinea and other Pacific Islands.
It is a very non-traditional way of fishing for a newbie getting
into the fishing world. It was used by people who did not have a
boat to fish, but also was very handy when fishing conditions
were difficult or the fishing places were inaccessible or
Ice Fishing, do I have to say more? Just get a line, a hook and
open a hole in the ice, just don't put your hand in it!
Fish Trapping is another way for fishing. There are two types of
traps: the semi-permanent and the permanent. Depending on the
type of fish you want to get, the traps can be several feet long
to relatively short. An example is dam fishing by building a
temporary dam in such a way that makes it easier to catch the
fish. Other types are the tripods used in the Congo and the weir
structures or baskets used in medieval times. The baskets or
weir structures are built according to the fish to catch
Another "natural" way to fish, involves trained animals like
cormorant, remoras and dogs.
Fishing using toxins is not a healthy way for catching fish.
There are some natural toxins found in some plants, and the main
idea is to paralyze the fish so you can easily catch it by hand.
The fish either dies right after suffocating or later in
transport. This is not only dangerous because you can get
poisoned too, but it is illegal.
In my opinion, using explosives are not only dangerous for you
if you don't know how to handle explosives, but also for the
environment. It kills by direct hit or shockwave. The worst
thing about it is that it is not selective.
Another dangerous practice is electro-fishing. It sounds like a
new dance, but actually is a fishing technique that involves
electricity. Depending on the type of fish, you can select the
voltage (a bit of electrical knowledge would be good) to stun
the fish. The problem is that you can also injure a diver and he
can get really mad at you. The device is supposed to be secure
for water usage since it has a dead-man-switch in case you fall
in the water.
So my Padawan learner might want to get into other fishing
techniques. And I hope he does as long as he doesn't blow up a
lake or electrocute someone else, after all, fishing is a
gentlemen's sport based on honest effort.
Fly Fishing - Using Videos as a Learning Tool
I always tell my friends or students what my father used to tell me "If you want to get started in any activity, go where that people get their stuff". If you are into fishing, go to a fishing store and look around, ask questions and look for the "ad wall" and you will find lots of information and people who can teach you.
But what if you can’t find someone to teach you or if you are just curious about it? There is always a way to start called "instructional videos". You can find some of them in VHS, but now mostly all of them are now in DVD.
It was in the mid 80’s when I was a fairly good playing the bass (the instrument, not the fish) when these videos started to be popular in music instruction. At that time they were fairly cheap. In these videos you can see some of your favorite players giving one-on-one lessons and watch them as many times as you need to. I have to say my playing did improve with this practice.
For this matter, fishing videos are the same; they teach you a new skill or help you improving one that you already have. Sure there are boring parts, like in the music instruction practicing music scales and modes, and on the fishing videos some of the explanations about things you already know.
I have to say that there is nothing like in person training, but this "new" modality of teaching and learning is also helpful. Consider two things: one is having someone you admire tell you his secrets and the other is the "distance learning" value based on constructivist principles, where you are required to invest more mental effort in the non-automatic processing of information.
For Fly Fishing there is a wide range of DVD’s and most of them are very informative and dynamic. One I like is "Trout Bum Diaries, Volume I: Patagonia". It might not be a "formal" instructional video but you can learn some things just by watching the expedition to the Patagonia and sharing the joy for the adventure with these guys. There are some other more "traditional" videos like the Bob Nudd’s series or "Atlantic Salmon - A Life on the Edge" which are also a great DVD’s.
Another way to learn from a video is to watch your favorite fisherman...Yourself!
Something you might want to do is this: I started taping my music gigs to show my students how practicing the boring music stuff is actually done in real life and for finding weak spots in my playing to fix. Later, I started taping myself while fishing to have some happy memories on video as well as to check out on things I do while fishing. This is a good idea if you want to have a record of your own improvement.
So maybe now you’ll want to consider getting fishing videos as your first contact with fishing if you are new to it, for your own amusement if you are an experienced fisher or just tape yourself to check improvements. Who knows? Maybe you can even start you own instructional series!
Tony the Tuna