By Bob Jensen
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about fishing and outdoor things recently. When I don’t go fishing, much of the time I’m reading about fishing. Following are a couple of fishing things that I’ve been reading about.
I’ve discovered that the more I learn about fishing, the more there is to learn. Weather certainly affects fishing on a day-to-day basis, but the people who study such things are learning that weather can have an impact on our future fishing as well. Consider the following regarding weather and future fishing.
Weather plays a big role in our outdoor activities. Maybe more than we realize. And the role that weather plays is, like most things, not always good and not always bad. Take ice fishing. Across the ice belt, due to warming temperatures, ice fishing seasons have been getting shorter. They’re not shorter every year, but over several decades of recording ice-in and ice-out dates, data indicates that ice fishing seasons have shortened by anywhere from two to four weeks in some places. That’s significant for several reasons.
First, we don’t have as many opportunities to go ice fishing. Most of us still get in plenty of on-ice action in the two to four months that we can get on the ice, but businesses like resorts and bait shops that depend on ice fishing have less time to do ice fishing business.
However, because the periods of ice-over are shorter, the growing season for fish is longer. Due to this longer growing season many anglers who have spent a lot of time on the water over the past several decades have noticed that they’re catching more big fish. Maybe they’ve become better anglers and are more adept at catching big fish, or maybe there are more big fish to catch. However again, people who study such things believe that although fish may be growing faster, their lifespan is shorter.
Here’s one that I find very interesting. Catch and release has become a big part of sustaining healthy populations of fish. But just because the fish population is healthy, it doesn’t mean they’re always going to bite. Most anglers believe that fish can become conditioned to a type of lure or a type of lure presentation. I’ve seen many situations where the walleyes, for example, want a particular crankbait with a purple back. But after a couple of hours or a couple of weeks, you can’t get a bite with that bait. They want a different color or a different presentation. It’s not known how long this conditioning to a certain color or presentation lasts, but conditioning is certainly an occurrence in fishing.
The question that some curious anglers have regarding conditioning is this: Can the conditioning be generational? Can it be passed on to the next generation of fish? If Mom or Dad Fish got conditioned to a particular lure or lure type, will their offspring be conditioned to that lure or lure type? Some of the same people who study fish growth have also been studying this topic. A few believe this conditioning is passed along, a few don’t think it is, and most aren’t sure. We’ll probably never know with any certainty, but it’s an interesting question.
Through all of this reading about fishing that I’ve been doing I’ve learned that I need to spend more time fishing in the present and less time thinking about fishing in the future.