There are many of us who would go out to spend an hour or so along the stream or on the lake if we thought we could profit thereby. It certainly seems that in a short trip the fish have not started to hit or have not been located or just something happens—at least we do not, apparently for lack of time, do the hoped for, get some fish.
Why? Is it because as we oft ascribe, the day is too hot or too cold, the water off or too clear, too early or too late? Always certain is the fisherman to find an alibi, if not to give the wife or friend, then it is to justify his lack of something to himself. We are all prone to admit that there may be a material fact in the fishing game that we do not know.
It can not be the tackle because the rod, line, reel, and lure were carefully selected, perhaps from those of well advertised merit or more often methodically picked by a fisherman of tried, proven and well known ability. A variety of lures were tried, sometimes in a rather hurried frantic sort of manner, but, nevertheless with enough time to each to entice a rise and each a seeming failure. If a bait fisherman the lively dew worm or dry bait, grasshoppers, crickets, frogs, hellgrammites, crawfish, at least all available, are used with no result. The-fly fisherman bends on a cast of two or maybe three different patterns of flies. He changes frequently and wades through the fly book of all colors and sizes. As the time progresses and he sees a fishless return a certainty he tries the dry fly with the same success.
What is wrong? Not the tackle; not the bait; not the lure; then it is one of two certain things. It is a "for sure" off day for the fish and this is maybe, for the fin family will get moody and just nothing tempts them. All musky fishermen know this. There are days and days when no one comes in with one. The lure is right for the lake and yet not a strike. Then as if the word had been heralded to all corners of the lake, the tigers go on and hit and everyone comes in with fish. Some musky seekers claim they either arrive at the lake to hear, "you should have been here last week," or the guide writes after they leave, "everyone caught fish the day after you left." The only reason that can be assigned for the failure other than that just advanced is that we have whiled away our time in fishing where they ain't.
It is probably that more often the bait fisherman makes the last mistake more often than the bait caster or the fly devotee. The bait fisherman covers limited water. He, particularly the novice, hunts the biggest stretch of water and its deepest part and then he throws in his bait and trusts to luck. This is not true of all, some roam around and fish the bait as expertly, sometimes more so, than the so-called expert angler or rather the artificial bait fisherman, but, if he does he is not the fellow we are trying to help in this article, for he homes home with fish more often than without.
Hunt the fish. Expect them according to the season in water they should inhabit. Look for them to be in their natural environment. Study the habitat of the specie you desire.
No knowing angler for bass would go to a deep, slow moving stream for them. If a stream, known to- be a good one for bass, has its falls riffles currents and eddies the knowing bass angler will not attempt to cover all water nor just any water. He will not spend much time on the riffles in the fall nor any time during any season in the mud or smooth bottomed pools. The pool that is stony at one end and smooth bottomed at the other will be fished at the stony end only. Perhaps one side has the stone and the other has none so the same rule will apply. He would never pass up the snag and sunken log. The edge of the lilly pads and weed bed is thoughtfully cast. If a lake the same rules are generally applied. A lake that is clear of hides and while it is known to contain bass presents to the tyro a perplexing problem. A frequent question is, "We have a lake or gamy hole that is full of bass and it is clear enough to see them but they will not bite. How shall I catch them?" Place here and there some hides such as logs, floats, etc., and fish these from a distance and a nice bass will usually be found thereabouts.
One of the most successful crappie fisherman was found out. He had no more ability than the other luckless fellows did, but he did know that crappies love to congregate around a sunken treetop. There was none, so he weighted and sunk one and for several seasons did his fishing there.
Rock bass are partial to stone also. They like the weeds. A riffle in late May and June will yield several fat fellows in each pit or pocket in it. An old tree stump with a hollow under the water contributed thirteen on a fly one day in July.
Large pools yield the largest fish, but they are the hardest to catch, because it is a guess where they are and a haphazard game at the best.
Carp and catfish love the big water. A catfish is one of the low types of fish life. He is not much of a roamer. He will often seek a stone and live under it emerging for food now and then and then only. If he outgrows this home he will see larger quarters, but only when compelled to. They will wear a trail that is plain to the expert.
Sunfish come into shallows and along the shore at twilight and in the spring months it is great sport to catch them on a small fly by floating along and casting toward the shore. How they pop a dry fly.
Trout come into the open when a hatch of flies is on the water and they are feeding. At other times they are usually hid. Trout travel far for a fly and are keen observers but yet the best of the trout fishermen cast well into the likely trout hides.
So the fisherman who desires to return happy will try and know the natural habitat of the species of fish that inhabit the waters in his community. He will also do well to spend some time studying the condition of his lake and streams. If he has a fair knowledge of that pool and their make-up, he can go out for an hour or two often and make more of a showing than some of his neighbors can for an entire day spent in guessing.
Mr. George N. Mannfeld, superintendent of Fisheries and Game of the Department of Conservation, state of Indiana, made the following report to the sportsmen of Indiana:
Based on reliable information received from many sources, we are pleased to say that the closed season on the black bass and blue gill this spring did wonders for the perpetuation of these species of fish in Indiana waters. Reports have come to the Department from all parts of the state telling of the prevalence of young bass and blue gills in the lakes and streams. It was a particularly favorable spawning season, especially for the fishes inhabiting the creeks and rivers. There was comparatively little rainfall, which left the streams in proper condition for the fish to spawn, guard their eggs, and bring off their young. The law was well observed. During the period from April 30th to June 16 two hundred and twenty-six arrests were made by our game wardens. The benefit derived front this year's spawning will have a very noticeable effect in bass and blue gill fishing two years hence. By that time the fry of this year will be of sufficient size to be lawfully caught. Present fishing is also improved through the number of bass and blue gills saved by the closed season.
Some misguided and selfish persons have attempted to create sentiment against the new law, by calling attention to the fact that persons who caught black bass and blue gills and returned them to the water caused the fish to die, and that the lakes were full of dead fish, which, floating to the shore, created a bad stench. These rumors were investigated and found to be false. Nearly all the bass and blue gills held for breeding purposes at the four state fish hatcheries were caught with hook and line. But few of them die from being hooked when properly handled. We are pleased to say that with the exception of two of the 120 clubs and associations formed for the protection of fish and game in the state, no objection was made by them to the new law. The suggestion has been made that the law is made to cover other desirable species of fish, which has wisdom back of it. The state at least has now a fish law based on scientific principles. The surest way to eliminate and destroy plants or animals is to prevent their reproduction. If this is true, then to increase the supply of fishes we most desire to have, we must see that they are propagated, in other words see to it, that they reproduce themselves. What the closed season this year has done for the black basses and blue gill may well be done for other desirable species. The principal being right, we do well to follow it and make it the basis of real fish protection. No greater mistake could be made than to attempt a repeal of the present closed season law, murmuring of which are already heard.
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