Most anglers are fine folks. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part guys and gals that enjoy the sport are nice people. They like to fish and they love to catch. As an outdoorsman, there are few moments that rival the thrill of a strike, setting the hook and bringing the fish to the boat or bank. Of course, the big one seems to always get away, but that’s OK unless you are fishing for money.
As anglers, we enjoy sharing stories of the good days and the big ones. Normally, we leave out the times we fished our tails off and had little luck or got “skunked.” To be a successful angler, many variables are involved and I’m sure you are aware of most. If you’re like many of us, you are eager for information about the bite. Outdoors shows, seminars, tackle shops, fish camps and boat ramps are among the most productive places to get enough ideas for total confusion. But, sometimes, if you ask the right questions of the right people, the conversation is worthwhile. The following is my list and comments on the most frequently asked questions in the wonderful world of fishing.
“Did you catch any?” Without a doubt, when you dock your boat and another angler is present, this question will be posed almost 100 percent of the time. It is really a moot point, but I guess perhaps it is relevant. Ever see a guy turn around and go home if you say the fish have “lockjaw?”
“Where did you catch ’em?” This is a fair question, the follow-up to No. 1. Please don’t reply, “Most in the upper lip but some swallowed the bait.” Generally, under the proper circumstances I will share the information. I’ve marked hundreds of maps and cited many landmarks, but I often wonder if the guy ever found the spot.
“What did ya catch ’em on?” Or, “What bait were you using?” Since I use only artificial bait and promote a couple of companies, I share this information without hesitation. Sometimes the person has the bait or on other occasions there is a follow-up question, “Where can I buy some?’’
“What color were you using?” A natural inquiry after No. 3, knowing that no live bait was involved. My favorite crappie color is a chartreuse combination. For bass, there is no pat answer.
“How deep were they?” This question always kills me because most of the time I don’t really pay any attention to depth. Mainly, I just present the bait and do the same thing I’ve done thousands of times. Perhaps I should pay more attention. I had someone ask me this question once and he wasn’t even going to fish my lake; he was going to an altogether different lake the next day. Oh, well.
“Nice rig; how fast will your boat go?” I have to think about this question for a while. Number one, I don’t have a speedometer and number two, I’m not in a race; I’m fishing. My guess is, he is just trying to make conversation or perhaps the guy does want to race me to the spot the next day. Actually, it’s the motor that determines speed, not the boat. Thanks for asking anyway.
“Anybody else doin’ any good?” This question always makes me feel good; maybe I look like a pro. Not really, I’m far from the guys you see on TV. A river rat, yes — a pro, no. The question does seem to inflate one’s ego; ask anytime.
“Were they still biting when you quit?” Another fair question and I’m basically truthful with my answer. Grandpa had a reply that many times left a strange expression on the guy’s face: “They didn’t start bitin’ till I got there and they quit bitin’ when I left.”
These two questions are usually lumped together: “Did you catch your limit and how big were they?” In most states, many impoundments now have creel and minimum size limits; so, again, a fair question. The answer to the first question is a simple “yes” or “no.” The answer to the “how big?” query varies with the angler. I always select the largest one from the livewell and say, “Most of them are about this size.” The follow-up is usually, “Man, I lost a couple of dandies.”
I’ve been asked many other questions, some too ridiculous to mention. “You think it’s going to rain?” is one I love. Heck, the TV weather person gets that one wrong most of the time. Maybe I look like a weather guy. The bottom line is regardless of the questions you ask and the answers you get, you are going to try your luck. Maybe that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.
Larry Reid is host of “Outdoors with Larry Reid,” which airs Sundays at noon on WBGZ Radio, 1570 AM.