Secrets of Fishing

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

product contained 3 percent shark liver oil. Both said that they had heard of these angling secrets, but did not recommend using their products in such a manner.

Besides, introducing a commercial lubricant, such as WD-40 or any petroleum-based substance, in our waterways is illegal.

I've often heard that a chunk of soap works as a good bait for catfish. I wonder if you have to clean a fish that ate soap for bait?

For more than 50 years, many anglers have planned their outings based on when the moon was "right." John Alden Knight first published Solunar Tables about 70 years ago. These tables, still available today, indicate daily major and minor activity periods for fish and wildlife throughout the year. The tables are based on theories that originated during market hunting days in the swamps of Georgia and Florida and are founded on the relationship between solar and lunar patterns, hence the name solunar.

There is no denying that there are periods when fish are very active, and much longer periods when they are not active. Whether or not these periods coincide with Knight's periods or any other moon system is another matter, since so many other factors, including weather and water clarity, can affect fish activity.

Almost everyone has heard the stories of the huge fish that supposedly live immediately below large dams. The fish have all the food they can eat and grow as big as Volkswagens. One version of the story involves local amateur divers who were frightened by the huge size of the fish.

Large fish do live below dams. However, they are not nearly as big as those of legend. Besides, the peak weight of fish seems limited no matter how much food is available. Likely, divers frequently report seeing big fish because water magnifies objects 1.4 times their actual size. Therefore, a 48-inch fish would appear to be about 67 inches long.

Here's another bit of lore to think about: Some anglers won't release fish they've caught because they fear the fish will "tell" the others not to bite. Fish communicate via color, sound, smell, and even electrical signals. However, you often can take several fish from the same school, even after releasing them, and you may catch the same fish over and over again.

The value of many of these fishing "secrets" is that they are fun to think about and chuckle over when fishing is slow. During our last fishing trip, I spent the better part of an afternoon trying to figure out how such myths could possibly persist in this modern world, but my daughters kept interrupting my train of thought. I told them to be quiet, or they'd scare the fish. I'm not sure they believed me.

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