What to Look for in a Fishing Companion and Why

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The Person You Take Fishing Can Make or Break the Trip

I’ve learned a lot about fishing over the years. I’ve had incredibly good days and some really tough ones. I’ve learned some lessons that have taught me the importance of selecting the persons I go with, whether I take them or they take me.

Whether on a river or a lake, your boat companion can make or break your experience. This article is about who you choose to fish with and why. I have one primary principle I hold to: no negativity--and there's a reason.

Whether on a river or a lake, your boat companion can make or break your experience. This article is about who you choose to fish with and why. I have one primary principle I hold to: no negativity–and there’s a reason.

The Reason is Simple

That companion can make the day memorable or terrible depending on the type of attitude they bring to the boat.

It’s not just the degree of my enjoyment that’s at stake in the choice. I believe it affects whether we catch fish or not. Positive attitudes win, even with inexperienced fishers. Negative attitudes filled with complaining, doubting, and blaming seldom produce good fishing. Even if in the latter case, we are lucky to catch fish, I find I go home regretting the loss of valuable time when I’ve been around negativity too long.

Good Company, Good Memories

I’ve spent the entire day in a boat with a complainer and I’ve spent two days in a boat with a gossip. But I spend a month in a boat with someone who looks at fishing with pleasure and accepts the challenge no matter the conditions, no matter the weather, no matter the catch. And I’ll choose to remember and fish again with the one who adds to my pleasure.

Encouragement and Fun Contribute to Success

If you encourage a boy or girl and praise them moderately when they succeed, they will take the challenge of fishing with enthusiasm and in time become greater fishers. This is true with children of every age. If you take a fully grown man or woman fishing for the first time in this person’s life, they are a child on the water. They have to start new and there’s no way around that. Encourage them and give them moderate praise when they succeed and you’ll not only have a friend for life, but you’ll see the reward in their expression of life as they begin to believe they too can succeed at fishing.

Teach Them to Prepare Properly What They Keep

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A Sound Principle in Teaching Kids To Fish

Part of the young excitement for kids in learning to fish is showing off what they caught. Teaching them how to prepare their catch gives them the responsibility for having caught it.

When Fish Are Killed, They Should Be Eaten

As young folks learn how to fish and hunt, they bring home more and more of their harvest. Showing them how to clean, prepare and cook what they take is a vital part of the American sportsman ethic. I release more fish than I keep; but I far prefer wild fish over farm-raised, store boat varieties.To me, it’s a blessing to have wild game or fish on our table; so I teach this principle to young people who have this interest in partaking of the wild. I teach it also to their parents or guardians when asked for advice. In business there’s a proverbial cliche that it’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him fish to eat. I agree with that completely.

The interesting phenomenon is that this approach invariably yields some of the more enthusiastic and devoted conservationists in the American outdoor world–that’s both my experience and my opinion. By learning to utilize as much as possible our entire harvest we learn to become excellent stewards of our natural resources.

 

 

Exciting Fishing Sites You Should Follow

Nominations for the 2012 IFishWrite Big Splash Award for Excellence in Angling Journalism

Providing knowledge is part of the value, but bringing it to you in an entertaining, inspiring manner feeds the dream. We’re constantly looking for angling sites that provide a number of criteria in a highly interesting manner. If you know of such a site we may have not yet seen or analyzed please share it by contacting us here.

Let’s Make A Splash!

And for that reason I have selected the following sites as the most outstanding angling urls thus far in my personal experience. (I have friends who will hate me–but I have a policy in place as well.) These site recommendations are nominees at this point, not winners. I’ll post more as I come across them and find them worthy of attention. I have a selected  review board of anglers who have agreed to participate as Judges in this first annual IFishWrite BIG SPLASH Award for Online Excellence in Angling Journalism.

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I’m awarding four categories for this annual recognition:

Best of Content

Best of Photography

Best Outfitter

Best All-Around

Best Outfitter

Please participate with me by posting your recommendations in the comment section. We’ll consider and weigh every site suggested–please no spam–we’ll reject that and I’ll report you! I’m asking for legitimate site recommendations that have to do with FISHING.

I’ll post the winners of 2012 competition on or about January 1st of 2013. I have a select Board of Judges whom I’ll name at that time with links to their sites. (No they are not allowed to recommend themselves, nor am I. Read the Policy here.) Our idea is to link you to what’s really good and who does it, so that we can all improve our sites.

Here’s my list of contenders so far:

Bass Angling Archives (Content) Angling writers Terry Battisti and Pete Robbins combine their skills to bring their readers the best in bass angling history.

Tosh Brown (Photography)Texas-based Tosh Brown is a full time outdoor photographer and writer whose willingness to share technique and lore makes him exceptional.

Deneki Outdoors (Outfitters) Operators of quality fly fishing lodges in the Bahamas, British Columbia, and Alaska, these bloggers provide food of vision to inspire fishers of adventure.

Catch Magazine  (All Around)

The Criteria

Our selection is based on a review of these qualifying characteristics.  Does their site encourage, promote or have:

1) Original Content with rich purpose, crafted use of the language and a gift for insight

2) Captures and enhances the world of fishing for everyone

3) Inspires young and old alike to take up a rod of any sort and get on the water

4) Encourages anglers the world over of all ages to respect the water and all fish species.  to good ethics and principles of healthy conservation including harvest where appropriate

5) Promotes ethical relationships to the industry as well as principles of healthy conservation including harvest where appropriate

6) Educates on issues important to local, national and world fisheries management

7) Provide innovative, creative presentation of content including uniqueness of style in photographs and video

8) Teaches technique in presentation including the reasons why some products produce better results.

9) Provides links and promote other sites as well as their own

10) Uses Social Media effectively to enhance angling awareness

11) Promotes or provides stories and facts about the history of angling

12) Promotes safety through awareness

13) Carries relevance to today’s angling challenges

14) Demonstrates excellence in media presentation

Answers to the above questions are rated from one to ten. If you would like to suggest a qualifying question or become one of our deciding Board of Advisors, please contact us here. If you would like to suggest a website for consideration of the 2013 IFishWrite Award of Excellence in Angling Journalism, please contact us here.

All recommendations are reviewed for consideration by our select Board of Advisors. Nominations for next year’s awards will close at midnight Pacific Standard Time, December 15, 2012.

Good luck!

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

 

 

 

 

The Great Metaphor of Fishing

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One Fine Passion

I am fortunate to carry a passion for fishing in my heart. I’ve learned many things from it that apply directly to successes in life, in relationships and in the study of things.

North Idaho has it all when it comes to the great outdoors. Taking part in what’s here in a meaningful way adds life to my old bones and brings enthusiasm into my daily enterprise. I find that when I relate to the Nature around me in this positive way that I then also relate in positive ways to the people and challenges found in business.

So fishing became a metaphor where I could lay things out for comparison and see a little better into other events unfolding in my life. The river flows. On it and in it there are many dangers, many surprises and a delightful bounty when you learn to read it and become one with it. I call this latter notion my Zen Attitude, though I don’t study Zen or practice it knowledgeably. Like the metaphor, my Zen Attitude is simply a parallel to a known philosophy. I like to get into The Zone, for instance where thoughts are not being thought, but realizations and insights occur in the moment where I’m in a fully cooperative relationship with the water and air environments around me.

At this stage of my life when most of my friends have retired (but not all, and certainly not me), recreational fishing is a way of analyzing the complexities of modern life and of finding balance within it all. I’ve made many solid friendships too along the way, either on shore or wading or in a boat; and many of those relationships like Mike Robertson of Calgary’s Bow River Blog have become lifelong albeit long distant fishing buddies.

It adds richness to life even in these times.

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

Of Bounties, Fines and Plenitude

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Know Your Fish

I fish with a lot of different people in any given season. Many of them are from out-of-state and many are new to fishing altogether. The problem is we, like many states, have an increasingly complex set of regulations; yet the burden of knowledge rests on the angler. Many novice fishers don’t know a peno from a whitefish. In one case, I kept quiet. They would learn at the dinner table.

Go Figure

Your ability to correctly identify a fish caught in the Lake Pend Oreille reservoir and river systems as well as in the Clark Fork River flowing into North Idaho from Montana can mean the difference between reward and violation. This includes North Idaho’s Pack River, the primary river feeding the north end of Lake Pend Oreille and it’s tributary streams as well as lesser streams flowing directly into the lake system, of which there are many. Your knowledge of what fish is which may be the difference between a hefty fine, a sometimes hefty fish for the table or a rather hefty bounty for catching a predator the Idaho Department of Fish & Game deems undesirable to the Pend Oreille Lake fishery.

The Bounty

Though this is likely the last season on this system to carry a bounty on Lake Trout (Mackinaw), IF&G is contemplating introducing its controversial but effective plan on North Idaho’s Priest Lake system in 2013. The objective in this aggressive management policy is to reduce large predators considered responsible for the collapse of kokanee populations in these large bodies of water.

Kokanee (sometimes locally referred to as “bluebacks” are a variety of landlocked sockeye salmon that in good years run12 to 15 inches and populate in very large schools. Hunters and wood harvesters will often see red kokanee in huge numbers on streams that flow directly into these lakes from as early as October well into December as these freshwater salmon go upstream to spawn and die for the next generation of the species.

Kokanee were once so abundant in Lake Pend Oreille and Priest Lake that there was a commercial fishery for them. When I was in junior high school in the early 1960s, we could hand-line for them and keep 50 apiece. By the mid-90’s, the Priest Lake population had collapsed and those in Lake Pend Oreille were in danger of collapsing. The predator management policy introduced first on Lake Pend Oreille was a desperate measure by the department to cull large predators from the system where everything else had failed to revitalize the kokanee numbers.

In 2010, a bounty of $15 per head was placed on Mackinaw Trout (they are actually a char) as well as the Rainbow Trout in the lake as an incentive to reduce the over-abundant populations of these two species, and that under a harsh cry from avid anglers who were sure IF&G was destroying a legendary fishery. However the incentive dominated. some guys, giving in, made a fair living harvesting Lakers and Rainbow despite the fact that specialists from New Finland were brought in to net Mackinaw off their known spawning beds. Biologists radio-tagged some large macks to follow them to their redds and maps were drawn to show the netters where these large lake trout were choosing to spawn.

The third species in this discussion is the brook trout. You won’t likely catch one in the lake and river system other than some fair-sized ones on occasion in streams like Cocollala Creek. I’ve never taken one or heard of anyone catching one in the Pend Oreille River or Lake. Neither one is suitable habitat. I mention Brook Trout because their markings are very similar to that of Dolly Varden. Mackinaw, especially younger first-year and second-year specimens could be misconstrued to be Brook Trout by anyone not familiar with distinctions. So the point is: read the regulations and do as they suggest. Know the differences and respect what you catch. Beyond that, go and enjoy a good day’s catch!

~Dwayne K Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

Let’s Never Forget

The Fourth of July Is A Celebration of Memories and Reason

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Let’s Not Forget

Now in my 64th year, I celebrate the 4th of July in North Idaho with a pensive heart because i don’t want to ever forget the many men and women who paid with their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Let’s not forget those who are crippled physically and mentally either–because they paid also a price for us to enjoy these times.

I can’t imagine any one of those serving America wanted to die or be injured or suffer remorse later. Certainly I want to enjoy a holiday like this, and I do; but to go on without mention of these lives lost and ruined is to ignore the pain that brought us the freedoms we have.

Let’s do our best to hold on to the independence we so valiantly earned.

~Dwayne K Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

 

 

Why Fish Color Varies from One Location to Another

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Camouflage

Coloration within a fish species quite often varies from one lake, river or stream to another. Sometimes these color differences are so slight they can hardly be distinguished from one location to the next.  In other cases, the distinction is so prevalent, the fish can appear to be a variety of the same species; but to my knowledge the variance in coloration is simply a camouflage adaptation to match the general color of the bottom of the body of water.

Fish Wear Camo Too

This unretouched photograph of a prize large mouth bass was taken on a rather dark, grey day. The particularly dark coloration of near black on this bass, however, is typical of MacArthur Reservoir large mouth. It’s a species adaption that allows individual fish to blend with the dark color of this shallow bird sanctuary where fish hawks are plentiful and capable.

~Dwayne K Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

The Proof’s in the Picture

How to Capture the Exact Moment in Photography

One of the strongest reasons we fish is to show others what we caught. The advent of video and digital cameras and their subsequent migration into cellphone technology has made picture taking a part of everybody’s trip to the lake. Sites like Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us the place to show what we caught.

Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures being photographed by Ben Fiest

Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures displays a fine largemouth bass taken from the edge of cattails on MacArthur Reservoir north of Sandpoint, Idaho where I live. His success is recorded by fishing buff, Ben Fiest of Sandpoint, and yours truly (for the sake of illustration).

Four Basic Types of Photos

The mug shot is when someone holds their catch up in front of the camera and that’s about all we see with a smiling fisherman in the background. Sometimes that’s worthy, especially with an exceptional fish; but more often it’s quite boring to look at. You won’t receive many comments from a mug shot.

Another type of photo common in the outdoors is the standard scenery or landscape photo. Some of those are absolutely gorgeous; but in my younger days of photography when I had to study in order to compete, I discovered that I sold more scenics when they showed human involvement and almost guaranteed when the human in the shot was either looking into the scene or doing something in it. Why is this? Because when there is someone else in the picture and they are anonymous or representative (not hogging the viewer’s attention), then the person looking at the photograph has reason to imagine themselves playing or standing in the same scene.

The action shot is usually best when the sport or activity is caught at the pinnacle of involvement. If you don’t have high speed digital settings on your camera (and cell phones don’t), you have to train yourself to see the pinnacle moment coming before it happens.

Combine All Three in Illustrating the Story

It took many years of shooting and analyzing before I learned to combine all three when I could. In the photo above, I anticipated the moment when outdoorsman, Ben Fiest lifted his cell phone and Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures held up his catch, lure dangling. Rick sells these fantastic plastic swim baits so he’s always looking for photographs that show proof. Ben, on the other hand, who works in construction just wanted to record the memory. I was there, not only to fish and write about it, but to illustrate my blog. So here was the perfect opportunity.

I saw it coming. I barked no orders. Just grabbed my camera from its case, turned it on and took a rapid succession of photos as Ben and Rick got into the action. The one you see here was my illustration for this article. That’s MacArthur Reservoir in the backdrop, June of this year. The photo is a mug shot, a scenic, an action shot and an illustration all in one.

Here’s a different kind of illustration, one I took this spring specifically for Idaho First Realty, owned by long-time friend and broker Ed Ostrom. That’s my famous Bijou, the registered long-haired chihuahua, an unpaid model posing as I captured the southern shore of Sandpoint, Pend Oreille River, our infamous Long Bridge and the Cabinet Mountains in the back drop–all in one to give Idaho First Realty’s website a unique and truthfully illustrated banner.

Last, I want you to look another kind of story illustration that can provide memories for you on your trip. I took it when I had no fish to photograph and little to write about accept the topic: what you do when you’re not catching fish.

Get the picture?

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

Tough Bass Made Easy

When weather and water conditions seem less favorable, you go on the hunt.

Like a couple of Blue Herons, two bass fishers await their opportunity by casting through the dawn for small mouth bass feeding on crayfish.

Do this and you may discover some surprising things. Bass are feeding in that predawn light, especially the bigger ones. It’s an excellent time to be up and on the water because predator fish are taking every opportunity to find their days meal. The crawdads, a night-time creature, are still out on the crawl and minnows are doing their best to stay alive.

It may stretch your waking time, but if you want to tie into a big bass, this is one of the magic hours.

~Dwayne Parsons, Twitter @IFishWrite

Strike Motive–Fish With an Attitude

Strike Motive is not always Hunger

Fish strike lures or flies for a number of different reasons, not always related to hunger. Sometimes it’s the chase and catch motive, like big rainbows in open water. Sometimes its the swim to beat the competition, like a trout frenzy when you drop a tantalizing bait into a stream pool holding a number of hungry trout, or throw fish meal into a farm pond. Sometimes it’s a protection mechanism at work in a spawner on its redd, like this spunky Pumpkin Seed that hit a small crankbait cast into shallow water for bass.

Pumpkin Seed caught during spawn

This North Idaho Pumpkin Seed (Sun Fish) struck a lure much bigger than it's mouth.

Strike motive can even be sparked by a thunder storm or the change in air pressure as it comes in over a body of water. I once experience a surprising trout feed when I was caught by a November squall in a row boat on the wrong end of the lake I was fishing.

The storm came over the ridge in a hurry and realizing I had no time to return to the launch on the other end, I hunkered down in a rain jacket in the shallows of a grass bed. Until then I hadn’t had so much as a hit, fishing for an hour at least. But as I contemplated enjoying my misery, looking at the rain pelting the water, I saw the dorsal fin of a fair-size trout break the surface in front of my eyes. I was fly fishing. So I quickly changed over to a Pheasant Tail beaded nymph pattern and cast into the open water near the grass. In seconds I hooked and landed a 13″ cutthroat trout.

I was delighted of course and during the entire squall I caught 10 more averaging about 12″, normal for that lake and lost one a little larger–of course.

As soon as the squall passed over and the brisk gusting wind stopped, I was back to a fishless game as if that lake had never held a trout or anything with fins. What was the strike motive? What brought on that feeding frenzy. I’ve often wondered if I’m right. I think it was the fact that the squall and the resulting wave action on the surface kept the fish hawks from seeing these trout in the shallows where the nymphs were lifting to the surface during their hatch.

If anybody out there cares to tell me otherwise. I’ll consider your advice. But I thought that might be a valid explanation. That particular strike motive might be tagged: Uncover.

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite