A little fishing help from winged friends

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sometimes I need help fishing. For some reason, if you put “guide service” on the side of
your boat or truck, people automatically think you know where and how to catch fish
every day of the year. How far from the truth that can be! I have to have help just like any
other person.
I have several resources I turn to when I’m struggling to catch fish. The first one can be
the most helpful or hurtful, and that is “talk.”
Talking to folks at the boat ramp has been a big help over the years. Gleaning bits and
pieces of information from fellow anglers can point you in a direction you hadn’t been
exploring, or get you fishing a bait or lure in a different way.
The downside is that fisherman can be full of, well, a lot of hot air. Just because it was
told to you doesn’t mean it happened. Some fishermen (and the stereotype sticks to all of
us) have an unquenchable desire to be admired, and will even resort to lying to get it.
Taking a story with a grain of salt is a good idea. You can usually figure out the ones that
are fictional when you’ve heard enough of them.
And some anglers will tell you a lie, just to keep their bait or location “top secret.”
Weekend tournament anglers seem to be the worst.
I also have a few friends that I consider “top notch.” Outstanding anglers that won’t feed
you a line, pun intended. These friends can be invaluable, giving solid advice that you
can count on. The key is, it works both ways: you may have to give up some valuable
information when it’s their turn to need a little help. When you find folks you can count
on, it’s very healthy to have relationships like this.
There are some other anglers that I turn to from time to time. They are very good, and
won’t intentionally mislead you. They are not much on talk, you just have to watch and
learn from them. These anglers are birds.
Yes, birds. Three types that I have come to count on over the years are sea gulls, loons,
and blue herons.
Sea gulls — I guess they are still called sea gulls when they are not at the ocean — are
looked to very often by striper fishermen. These birds like to soar around until they see
schools of bait near the surface. Then they dive down in rapid fashion to munch as many
as possible.
These schools of bait are many times pushed to the surface by feeding schools of fish
below. So when you see the birds diving, if you hurry to them you can many times catch fish quickly by casting where the birds are diving. But be aware, striper fishermen are
very competitive, and are willing to run over or fight you to get to fish. Crazy ain’t it?
Loons are an interesting bird. I love just hearing them make their lonely call. I think they
are cool to watch, and I am amazed how long they can stay down without surfacing for
air. I have noticed loons don’t fish for fun. If they are diving in an area, there is baitfish
there that they are feeding on.
Blue herons are a stealthy shallow water feeder. They are hated by people with ponds
because they are very good anglers! Herons can wipe out the population of a pond or
hatchery in short order. Herons, like loons, are not going to fish for fun, they know where
to fish.
The downside to loons and herons is they fish for whatever bites. They may or may not
be feeding on what you are looking for, so they can actually lead you astray if you are not
So if you are struggling to catch fish, use your resources. They may be as close as a
phone call, or standing right in front of you.

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