I release all the fish I catch, and in some way, I feel good about doing so. I know that it has something to do with the influence of western fly fishing concept. I have thought about this from time to time, and I wondered if there is anything to feel good about. A friend of mine was recently fly fishing in the mountain farmlands of Korea and told me a story about a short conversation he had with a farmer there. My friend also releases his fish and I guess the farmer who was watching him came to him to ask him what he was doing. The farmer was old, and to him the concept of releasing the fish made no sense at all. He asked why my friend would catch the fish, if he didn’t plan on eating it. He thought that my friend was disturbing & hurting the fish, for no good reason. The farmer thought that it was foul to catch the fish, only to release it. At some point in our angling days, it’s something to think about. There is a general tendency to think/ feel better about oneself when you practice catch and release, and I have sensed this many times, especially in the fly fishing crowds (me included). Fishing is fishing, and it’s a reminder for me to keep things simple. There isn’t a “better” way to fish, and people all fish for different reasons. It was a good story to hear, a very timely reminder for me.
Caught this herring, late into the evening on Saturday night. It was good getting together with my friends, having a couple of beers, and catching fish right here in Seoul. It will rain here for a while, I think the rain season has officially started, plus they say a typhoon is moving in from the east. Hopefully not the last time I wet a line during my visit here.
Another carp on that ultra light rod. I’ll need a new one soon, as I think I am wearing this one out. Smaller largemouth and lots and lots of bluegills. I like catching bluegills, but I sometimes wish they would let the lure get to the target species. This carp was lighter than the last one (not so fat in the mid section) and therefore faster & more of a fight. A lot of thrashing around before it swam into the net. And yes, I’ve been using the net more often, comes in handy when the bank is a little steep (and the line is under 4lbs). Carp sure ain't the prettiest fish, but they are large and fairly strong, gives a good fight. It’s my guess, but I also think they smell more fishy than other species. I had to drive home with the net hanging on the outside of the car.
I have recently been fishing ultra light, in all gear as well as the stuff I carry to the water. There is something nice about carrying only the essentials, perhaps because it forces me to plan well ahead. Again, I went to the water with ultra light equipment, targeting smaller fish. Small lures, light tackle, 4 pound line, so on… then BAM! I catch a big catfish and it bends the rod back into an upside down U. I played it carefully and brought it up after a careful 10 min or so, then realized that I did not bring the landing net as I wasn’t expecting to catch such a fish. It’s that moment when you have this nice fish at the end of your line, the small hook on the lure was barely hanging onto the edge of the fishes upper lip, and coming to the realization that I won’t be able to land this fish. The line was way too weak to be able to pull it onto shore, and the edge of the bank was just out of reach. I tried to reach down to grab it for several minutes, and each time the fish swirled into the typical catfish dance. Then as if planned the fish broke loose, taking the lure with it. I ran back to the car, got the net, and started casting again. As I cast, I am thinking how lucky it would be able to catch that same fish again, to bring it up this time to retrieve both of my lures. On the third cast, to my amazement, a fish was on. I was still working with the light tackle and thin line, so I was careful to bring it in. The second time around, I was at ease, my heart pumping a little less. As the fish got closer, I realized that it was a good sized carp. It was a different fish, but equally exciting to bring in, especially on the light tackle. The last 5 seconds before I land the fish is probably when I lose the fish most frequently, especially on light lines. The fish swam into the net, and I had my photos. Carp was caught on a yellow jighead with feathers. Then I looked up into the sky and saw a beautiful sunset shaping in front of me. A smile was on my face during the drive home.
I found an awesome site on line called Crabfu (crabfu.com) that showcase some cool robotics and steam powered machines. The one that caught my attention and imagination is the robotic fish called “Flapper”. I got to imagining about a scenario where a manmade lake was filled with these robot fish, and I was fishing for them. The lures were RF emitting sensors, with magnetized “hooks” that set onto the mouths of these fish. One can determine the level of difficulty of catching fish, or the type of species they would seek. One can also control the feeding pattern, size of the fight, and size of fish that would be attracted to the lures. Fish should have artificial behaviors programmed into them and once set free, is basically uncontrollable except to react to the lures. They will live through seasons, and have a home base somewhere in the middle of the lake where they go to feed off power providing pods. They will not grow, but they will survive through multiple catch and release. Some fish are programmed to be aggressive, and some are programmed to be finicky about the lure they will take. The uncertainty of catching fish will be gone, but this might prove to be a training ground, kind of like shooting at artificial deer. It will demand perfect presentations and timing. It’s freaky anyway you look at it, but then again is it any more freaky than playing a fishing video game? This will take some pressure off the natural fish, and at least people won’t be taking ice box full of natural fish for their freezer. I’ll bet this scenario will play itself out within the next 10 years. Definitely check out the web site for some cool machine/ robotic art, very interesting. Video here: http://www.crabfu.com/swashbot/robot_fish.html
From March to November, my car basically seats two people only. All other seats are loaded with fishing rods & gear. My fishing mentor met up with me for a short but productive bass fishing on late Friday afternoon. Once again, he caught more fish than I did, and larger ones. It’s the ability to think 3D underwater, and thinking from the fish point of view. He had a larger fish, that slashed his line, taking the lure with no struggle. Likely a pike but we won’t know until we bring up that fish one day with the lure still stuck to his mouth. Storms around here have made fishing better, usually just before and after the storm.
My friend Jonathan hooked up with the masters at Rainbow Fly Fishing (http://www.rainbowfly.co.kr) for some more fly fishing in eastern Korea. These masters have been fishing Korea and Japan all their lives, and there’s a lot to learn from these guys. Way to go Jon!