Woods & Water
Who’s the best fisherman?
In the human world, that question could start more arguments than most, for there are thousands who may qualify, so let’s limit it a little bit. In the avian world, who is the best fisherman?
My vote would naturally go to the osprey, but I am more than a little prejudiced, since I watch them every day. Even so, their success rate is about 10 percent; they score once every 10 times. Not bad, as long as they try a lot. They have a natural beauty in their dive, and they are hunting for their dinner, so not only are they fishermen, they are hunters, as well.
Plenty of Orientals would vote for the cormorant. For centuries, cormorants have fished for man; their captors put a ring around their necks and attach a line to their leg so they can retrieve the bird after a successful dive, then get the small fish from the cormorant’s beak.
Locally, the Great Blue Heron would get lots of votes. He stalks, cat-like, in the shallows until he spots his prey, then spears it with his beak, turns it until he can swallow his fish, then tilts his head back and swallows it. I took plenty of pictures of GBH’s doing exactly this. One, in fact, caught a fish so large he could barely swallow it. His neck became engorged with his prize, but he finally got him down.
So I’m going to limit this discussion a little more: which bird is the greatest fly fisherman? My vote goes to the Green Heron, who not only stalks his prey, but baits the area with insects first.
That’s right, the Green Heron first catches an insect, then drops it into a good area where he suspects fish may be, then patiently waits until a fish grabs the insect. Then he strikes.
The first natural fly fisherman, pre-dating Dame Juliana Bergers by centuries.
How do we choose a kayak?
Good question, since kayaking is spectacularly exploding in our watery area. Questions to consider: where do you wish to kayak? (you may need more than one); what is the water like? (calm, rough, waves, swells, flatwater); are you pleasureboating or racing?; will it be a fishing boat or some other specialized boat?
Let’s suppose you wish to fish in our waters. Stability is an issue, since landing a fish can be quite tricky in a ‘yak. Wider is better, although it will be slower and harder to paddle. Space is an issue; you probably will need two rods, a cooler, and some space to store your tackle.
Like other areas, I believe in minimum; more is not better, it’s just more cluttered. Two rods is plenty; a small (and I do mean small) tacklebox is just right. A cooler big enough for lunch and two waters will do ev- erything you need, just not everything you may want. Remember, you also have to fit in the kayak and have room to move.
A typical outing will be three hours; more is cramping. You will need to get out and stretch. A spare paddle for the group is a good idea, is you go in a group. If you are a loner, make your choice.
A lip-grip is a good idea, if you think you may catch a large fish. If catfishing, take a net. Did you ever try to get a boca grip in a catfish’s mouth?
Have fun, that’s the main thing. Enjoy the paddling and the fishing experience. Make it a day to remember when winter sets in. Take a few pictures to bring the day back to you.
Get out there and do it!