One of the most interesting laws of fishing is that no one on a lake ever asks how many fish you have caught at a time when you have actually caught fish. No sir, that question is only reserved for the times before you have caught fish.
Some people take this to extremes, however. For example, I once had a person ask me how many fish I caught – which would have been fine had I not been training my dog on water retrieves at the time. I have also been asked this question quite a few times as I was launching my boat while my rods were still in the car and cased.
In fact, possibly the only time I have not been asked this question is when I have a big fish in the boat that I would actually like someone to ask me about.
I only write about this because it seems to be happening more and more to me recently. We get on a lake and troll or cast and have no luck. Then people go out of their way to ask if you have caught anything.. Suddenly, you catch a nice fish and there is no one in sight.
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I am beginning to think that a boat with no fish possesses some sort of powerful aura that draws people away from their business in order to remind you of your lack of success.
I tested this theory earlier this year and found interesting results. A friend and I trolled down one side of the lake with our fly rods and caught zero fish– something we told the 83 or so people on shore who asked. Fortunately, we had not yet completed a circuit around this small lake and by the time we got to that same stretch of shoreline again, we had boated five nice trout. Unfortunately, the shoreline now looked like a ghost town. In fact, it was so deserted that I was fully expecting to see tumbleweeds roll through.
It is at a time like that that you hope to catch a glimpse of someone slowly drawing back a curtain just enough to peak at your boat with one squinting eye – which is why you raise the fish you’ve kept to full view and repeat sentences like, “Boy this is maybe the smallest of the five great trout we caught so far” in a really loud voice.
Needless to say, this simple act of trying to update the record to show that you have caught fish can be awkward – especially when you resort to stepping ashore with a stringer and going door to door. Yet, it must be done.
I know some anglers actually want people to think that they never catch fish. That way no one asks them where they caught them and what they caught them on. And that makes perfect sense too.
I prefer to be honest with those people on their docks and decks who ask.
So, I tell them I am practicing catch and release.
The catch and release answer generally stops people from asking because it implies that you caught several and let the little darlings go. It is also true. I do mostly practice catch and release.
And with a little more practice, I’ll have the catching part down too.