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Favorite fish and fishing gear

June 25, 2007

I’ve learned to view all surveys with a grain of salt, as they say, but they certainly can give an idea of trends. Southwick Associates, who specialize in surveying anglers and hunters on various things with which we’re obviously concerned, collected responses of 11,544 anglers on the favorite fish species and tackle in the U.S. I’m not surprised at the results in many cases, but a couple threw me.

See if you think the responses really reflect products and fish that anglers prefer most. Here are the results:

  • Top freshwater species: bass (60.4% of all freshwater anglers)
  • Top saltwater species: striped bass and redfish/red drum (a tie, each with over 30% of all saltwater anglers)
  • Top rod brand: Shakespeare Ugly Stik (19.9% of all purchases)
  • Top reel brand: Shimano (21.9% of all purchases)
  • Top fly rod brand: Orvis (19.5% of all purchases)
  • Top fishing line brand: Berkley (Trilene, Fireline, Big Game and Vanish (45% of all purchases)
  • Top hard bait brand: Rapala (24.0% of all purchases)
  • Top soft bait brand: Zoom (15.4% of all purchases)
  • Top spinnerbait brand: Strike King (21.5% of all purchases)
  • Top electronics: Lowrance (over 34% of all radio, GPS and fish finder purchases)
  • Top tackle box brand: Plano (43.0% of all purchases)
  • Top fishing knife brand: Rapala (35.9% of all purchases)
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    • June 19, 2007

      Scary Fishing Moments-5


      Most of us who’ve fished and hunted long enough have had close calls or moments that made us pause to think “what if.” Call them times that fit into the “tight sphincter” category. An email I just got from guide friend and writer Dave Sherwood, who temporarily left Maine and is experimenting with a newspaper job in Costa Rica (really an excuse to go fishing), brought this up.

      Dave was on a “tough” assignment fishing peacock bass in the Panama Canal. He’d found a local old-timer commercial fisherman to take him out for gas money, a guy with a leaky 12-foot tin boat and a grumpy old outboard. The guy was grumpy, too, and didn’t speak English. But what got Dave’s attention while fighting a bass was the first 900-foot freighter that suddenly loomed over his shoulder and ultimately passed within 50 feet! Some swell! The old timer wasn’t concerned. He did it again, and again. I guess Dave finally believed he wasn’t going to sink but it wasn’t peaceful fishing.

      That reminded me of fishing the St. Lawrence Seaway times back in fog and suddenly having huge ocean ships appear spookily almost silently towering over my little fishing boat. Or the time I was riding shotgun with a tournament bass pro with the boat going flat out (in fog again), and then suddenly seeing another bass boat barreling out of the gloom head-on at us. Quick reflexes saved the day, but I didn’t like it at all.

      I’ve had a lot more scares, some even worse, but I’d like to hear some of yours from times out there. Say, have you ever had a cottonmouth fall into your boat?

      OK, your turn.

      [ Read Full Post ]
    • June 13, 2007

      Record Trout Caught in Saskatchewan!-3


      Gone Fishin’ blog visitor Outdoor Jester had a point about the small bones in typical eating-size trout (see my last post Best & Worst Eating Fish). But if you were to crank in a trout the size of Adam Konrad’s pending all-tackle world record rainbow, that wouldn’t be a problem. Just look at it.

      This baby weighed in at 43.6 pounds and had waistline of 34 inches! You’d get slab fillets all right, but I’m sure the monster is ultimately headed to the taxidermist. Pending_record_rainbowThe fish came from Lake Diefenbaker, a reservoir in southern Saskatchewan, Canada, on June 5. It ate a four-inch Mepps Syclops spoon on 6-pound-test line. Adam’s twin brother, Sean, holds the 8-pound-test line rainbow record for a fish weighing 34.5 pounds. The bros plan on guiding for trophy Saskatchewan trout full time. Reach them through the website:, which is devoted to big trout across the US and elsewhere.

      And let me know how you think you really would cook up a fish like this.

      [ Read Full Post ]
    • June 11, 2007

      Best eating, worst eating fish-19


      The whole business of butchering and eating dolphin (see my previous post—“Massacre”) lead some friends and me into discussion about taking and eating legit gamefish in general.

      Look, everybody knows catch-and-release is a necessary fact of life today but it doesn’t preclude the thoughtful (and legal) taking of specific fish from environments that can tolerate careful harvest. Unfortunately, catch-release is elevated to near religious fanaticism among some folks. The advent of release tournament fishing, for instance, has caused a generation of anglers to gasp in horror over the taking of a large or smallmouth bass to eat (interesting that not so many walleye anglers feel that way). And recently out West, one of this country’s finest conservationists, fishing educator, angler and tackle shop owner who kept his trophy-of-a-lifetime brown trout, was treated in some circles to bodily threats, boycotts, and some of the ugliest comments I’ve seen.

      Which brings us back to the joy of noshing on a fish-based dinner, and the best candidates for supplying the raw ingredients. This is tough. The only way I can narrow down my favorite eating (and worst eating) fish is to limit the selection first to freshwater species. I’ll get to saltwater fish later. Anyway, here are my choices for the six best and worst eating fish.


      Small Brook Trout from wilderness water, gutted and grilled whole over a low campfire and eaten—skin and all—like cob corn.

      Yellow Perch taken through the ice or from really cold water. Behead them, skin them, cut away the lower rib bones with a knife, the sauté or fry.

      Wild Salmon (Pacific or Atlantic), preferably brushed with olive oil and grilled over a smoky alderwood fire. Larger, stronger flavored fish are great marinated in equal parts soy sauce, brown sugar and your favorite hooch, then grilled on the barbie.

      Walleye in any of a dozen ways, broiled, fried, sautéed. Their lack of distinctive strong flavor lets you go wild with recipes and sauces.

      Catfish, preferably smaller channel cats from a clean river. Always deep fried.

      Crappie, fried or sautéed, depending on size.


      Bowfin (a.k.a mudfish or grindle). A long time back somebody served me a piece of one as a cruel joke. Gag.

      Carp. Unless its smoked and from northern waters.

      Sturgeon. Even smoked these things are like rubber. Especially larger ones. Give me their eggs.

      Suckers. Flesh is questionable for my taste, and there are way too many bones.

      Shad (American). Flesh is sweet but the rats nest of bones makes it hardly worthwhile.

      Hatchery trout from marginal put-and-take water. Otherwise I love trout.

      OK, anybody have candidates for either of these lists?

      [ Read Full Post ]
    • June 5, 2007

      Massacre Or Cultural Discrimination?-9


      Dolphin1Few modern anti-meat-eating hand wringers reflect upon the fact that the philosophical farther of animal rights, Jeremy Bentham, was a carnivore. The English philosopher defended his meat consumption on the basis of the eatee having had a “happy life and merciful death.” An animal’s death, he goes on to say, “is and always may be, a speedier and, by that means a less painful one, than that which would await them in the inevitable course of nature.”

      Bentham, who died in 1832, would have been hard put to justify our contemporary industrial corn-based meat agriculture from the farm to the slaughterhouse, of course. But by extension we should view as hypocritical the self-congratulatory stance of modern vegetarians and vegans who look away from the combine-shredded, tractor-crushed creatures rendered by producing the grains they eat, or the song birds dropped by the pesticides utilized growing the fruits and assorted plant life they consume.

      What should be eaten, what should die—and how it does—is far more than simple shrilling argument. It is something deep rooted in cultures both brought to this country and endemic to the rest of the world. I only bring this up having viewed a recent disturbing (by our standards) video of dolphin (the mammal) slaughter for consumption. It has garnered responses ranging from calls for murder of the perpetrators to cool-headed analysis.

      As a warning, the short clip is brutally hard to watch, but something that deepens the reality of roles that we as omnivores take regardless of whether we glean our feed from the waters, woods or grain fields.


      [ Read Full Post ]