Secrets of Fishing

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

wound on the fish to help ease the pain and heal it.

Many species of catfish, including bullheads and madtoms, have glands at the base of their pectoral fins that produce a toxin that can produce a painful sting. Many people believe that if you rub the wound along the side of the fish, the mucous will reduce the stinging and allow it to heal quicker.

I guess we knew what we were talking about. A professor of biochemistry at the University of California at Davis heard of this folk remedy while in Kuwait and tried it himself. Cuts healed entirely in three days when rubbed with catfish slime. Untreated cuts took 10 days to heal.

Catfish slime contains 60 different proteins that are fundamental in wound healing. All catfish have similar proteins, but Kuwaitian catfish secrete them more easily than our native catfish species and thus are better at healing wounds.

More than one bona fide river rat has told me to fish a rising river. After years of taking their advice, I think I can now explain why fish are more active and feed more when river flow is increasing.

When a river is rising, the increased current washes more food downstream. This new bounty often prompts opportunistic fish to embark on a feeding frenzy. I've seen catfish that were so full of earthworms after a rainstorm that they could not possibly eat another one without bursting.

On the other hand, rapid increases in stream flow can be stressful on fish and make them tight-lipped. As a rule of thumb, a slow, steady rise in a river provides better fishing than a river rising rapidly.

When fishing was slow, my dad often spat on his hook. It seemed to work for him, so I picked up the habit, much to my mother's displeasure. Looking back, I'm sure some of my father's success was related to the fact that he usually chewed plug tobacco or ate black licorice while fishing. Either added an additional scent to his bait, which attracted fish.

Many commercial scents for fishing lures contain anise, which is the major flavoring in black licorice. Some people say adding WD-40 or Preparation H to lures and bait brings added success. The explanation is that both contain shark oil, which attracts fish. The manufacturer of WD-40 said that shark oil is not an ingredient in the product, but the manufacturer of Preparation H stated that their

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