Fishing Stupidity

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stupid

This illustration says it all: a fish "hears" with its lateral line, and can easily be spooked. Especially by stupid.

Yesterday was a day off, so naturally, I took the kids fishing. We were casting jigs to bridge pilings, and absolutely slamming striped bass. Within an hour there was a 31-incher and several 20-somethings in the fishbox, and we had thrown back dozens of shorts. All of the fish were oriented to two specific pilings, and since it was a sunny Sunday, there were several boats working them. Everyone pulled up-wind, drifted past, and filed by the pilings in a nice, orderly fashion. Most of us were catching plenty of fish—then came stupid.

A bunch of shirtless, beer-drinking, laughing and yelling guys in a 22′ walkaround zoomed between the two pilings and the boats fishing them at around 25 MPH. Now, I don’t really have a problem with the shirtless part, nor the beer drinking, as long as it’s not to excess on the water, of course. But the zooming and the yelling was way out of line. They realized we were fishing, saw a bent rod, turned around and zoomed right back to us, then came to a stop not 25 feet from our boat.

For the next half-hour, no one caught a fish. Here’s why:

stupid

This illustration says it all: a fish “hears” with its lateral line, and can easily be spooked. Especially by stupid.

Striped bass—and virtually all other game fish—are quite good at detecting vibrations with their lateral line. Can a single boat zooming by shut them down? You bet. Can a bunch of guys yelling and laughing shut them down? Absolutely.

In a different time and place, their behavior might have triggered some yelling on my part. But age has taught me that it generally accomplishes nothing other than elevated blood pressure. So we sat there for a few minutes and, as expected, when those guys didn’t get a bite they figured we weren’t catching squat, reeled in their lines, and zoomed off to scare fish elsewhere. By the time the stripers started hitting again, they were long-gone. *Sigh* You just can’t fix stupid.

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