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Post Column: The Reel Deal: Sport fishing suffers popular misconceptions

When many people think about fishing, their first thought is often a redneck named Bubba drinking Busch Light in a lawn chair, casting a worm on a hook. They think fishing is all about being lazy and lucky. However, this could not be further from the truth.

The ability to entice a fish to bite your bait and then get that fish flopping in the net takes a great deal of skill and effort. Whether targeting bass in a tournament or wrangling in a catfish for dinner, catching fish is often a very challenging task.

Apart from being a challenge, fishing is also a very fulfilling activity. Anywhere from casually fishing by yourself in a canoe to competing in the Bassmaster Classic for $500,000, fishing offers an embrace with wilderness, a connection to nature, and exhilarating excitement.

Quite possibly the best time I have had fishing happened last spring on the Hocking River.

Three friends and I arrived on the bank of the Hocking River where we decided we would put in our boats. This is usually an easy and routine process for the four of us; but on this day, a poison-ivy forest made it all but easy and routine. We “cleared” a path, trying unsuccessfully to avoid the ivy, and embarked on our voyage.

The targeted species on our trip was channel catfish. They are delicious when fried and abundant in the Hocking. The sun and temperature were high on that May afternoon, so our strategy was to find shaded, deep holes where the water temperature and water flow was low. We sought structures, such as log jams, where the catfish make their homes. We would cruise up to a spot, anchor down and each cast out a baitfish. After a few minutes of no catches, we would move further downstream to the next spot we thought would produce fish.

Our plan was to catch a few fish, park on a beach somewhere along the river and have dinner. We brought along all of the essentials for a good fish fry: a pan, oil, seasoning, potatoes — the works. The only problem was that after a few hours on the water, we only had two fish and were running out of daylight.

We decided to land the boats and start our dinner after Larry hilariously fell overboard with phone in hand (which for some reason he didn’t find as hilarious as the rest of us did). Nevertheless, we built a fire, filleted the fish and cooked the fried fish and potatoes. We continued to fish while preparing dinner and ended up catching the best fish of the day.

Alec won a battle with an 18-pound flathead catfish and landed it on the sandy beach. After we snapped some pictures and released it safely — the larger catfish don’t taste as great — we ate dinner and were on our way to navigate a long, three-quarter-mile stretch of river in the darkness with only a dimly lit flashlight to light our path. It’s a good thing Ace Ventura wasn’t with us because the infestation of bats would have doomed us all.

After getting the boats out of the water and into the truck at roughly 2 a.m., we headed back to campus. Larry summed it all up as we drove off in the bed of Travis’ truck, gazing at the clear, star filled, Friday night sky: “Anyone can go out to the bars, party and get drunk, but how many people here can say they had a night like we did?”

Ryan Dentscheff is a junior journalism student, president of the Ohio University Anglers Organization and Post columnist. Send your fishing questions to rd291709@ohiou.edu.

 

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