Secrets of Fishing

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

I don't remember at what age I started fishing, but I do know that by the time I started school, I could bait my own hook and didn't need help unhooking a fish-unless it swallowed my bait. At the time, I thought I was quite an accomplished angler.

Most of my early angling experiences were at farm ponds, fishing for anything that would bite. I was always excited by the time I got to the water, and it was almost impossible for my folks to control my enthusiasm. However, they warned me that if I was too noisy I would scare all the fish, and then we would have to go home without a mess of fish for supper. This was the first secret of fishing I learned: You had to be quiet at all times.

In college, I learned that fish can hear, but that sound traveling in the air will scarcely penetrate the water. Looking back, I'm not sure my parents believed their secret of fishing. I think they just wanted some peace and quiet.

As an avid angler and fisheries biologist, I think I've heard just about every rule, secret and myth about fishing. Many have merit, but some, I believe, are just tall tales passed down from one generation to the next.

From an early age I remember hearing, "wind in the east, fishing is least; wind in the west, fishing is best." I paid little attention to this as a kid. It was my opinion that no matter which direction the wind was blowing, fishing was better than yard work. That's a belief I still hold today.

The saying, however, has some validity. In Missouri, an easterly wind usually is the forerunner to bad weather. Most anglers agree that this is not the best time to be fishing unless the barometer is dropping fast, which often causes a feeding frenzy among fish. Unfortunately, most of us don't have time to constantly watch a barometer, nor do we have the luxury of dropping everything and heading to our favorite fishing hole when it does start to drop fast.

My early fishing excursions often ended with a stringer of bullheads. However, the pain involved in getting the bullheads sometimes didn't seem worth it. They always seemed to have the ability to stick a fin in my finger when I unhooked them or put them on the stringer. After being finned, I immediately rubbed the

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