In todays high tech society, the skill of simple fishing is on track to becoming lost. We have all seen the pictures that Norman Rockwell made famous of young boys and their fishing poles. For a lot of the baby boomer’s, this is how we first learned to fish. It is a method that many of us remember but don’t use today.
When I was very young my father and mother introduced me to cane pole fishing. I can still remember my father picking out a pole that I was able to handle. He made sure that it wasn’t too big for me to use. He would then purchase a line that was wrapped around a small spool. He also got me a sinker, bobber(cork), and a hook.
He would then take the line and tie it around the bottom side of the ridge on the cane pole. He tied it under and around the third ridge in a slip knot. As the line went up the pole, he then tied it around the top in a similar way. The total length of the line was about two feet longer than the pole itself. He would then put on the bobber, sinker, and hook in that order. The bobber was adjustable. You could slide it up or down depending on where you wanted to set it.
I did not have a lot of patience when my mother took me to the nearby city park pond. I would put the line in and then drag it out. She would tell me to be patient and to watch the bobber. She taught me how to put the bait on the correct way. With a worm, you had to go under their belt. A worms’ belt is about two thirds the way down from the head of the worm. All other bait was just placed on the hook firmly.
Since my father worked, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him. However, I learned a great deal from him. He taught me simple things like keeping your back to the wind, being quiet, don’ t play or throw things into the water, and concentrate on what you were doing. He also tried to teach me the value of sport fishing. He said that catch and release is one of the best things to do. It saves the fish for many things. Reproduction, as well as for others to enjoy the sport.
My uncle Perry was my next teacher in the art of cane pole fishing. He taught me things that my mother and father hadn’t. He said that there was three types of cane pole fishing. The first was tight line fishing. This is where you don’t use a bobber. It helps keep the line tight. You can use this method to fish in deeper water. The next way was called lose line fishing. This method uses no bobber or weight. You just use a hook and live bait. The action from the live bait was good enough to attract fish. The third method was with a bobber. With a bobber, you could adjust the depth of your fishing. He went on to explain that if a bobber just bobs, the fish is biting. If it runs sideways, you might have hooked him or he could just be running with the bait. If the bobber goes all the way under for a good deal of time, that is a signal that the fish might be hooked.
My uncle also taught me about the best places to cane pole fish. Just like human beings, fish like shady areas. He said to fish under trees whenever possible. Insects fall from trees and are eaten by the fish. Fish also like to hang around down trees in the water. You have to be careful not to get tangled in the brush. However, if you are careful, it is a great place to fish.
From time to time, I would ask my uncle and father why can’t I have a rod and reel? I said ,then I could get way out into the middle of the pond or stream. They would always say, “What makes you think the water is deeper there than here?” My uncle always said that fish like to congregate closer to the bank because of the food supply.
Cane pole fishing uses all types of baits. I have used worms, minnows, grasshoppers, crawdads, liver, dough bait, Wheaties, cottonseed, and grubs. My uncle always said that catfish hit better on things like liver. The catfish is a scavenger that feeds in deep murky water. Tight line fishing is the best method for catching catfish. The use of bait is usually dictated by what you are fishing for. Bass and Bluegill love worms, grasshoppers, and dough bait..
If you were trying to catch bluegill or bass, you would be best to use lose line fishing or a bobber. Although they are small, bluegill are fun to catch. They are more feisty than the catfish. Usually they congregate in schools. Catfish are considered loners. They tend to stay to themselves.
The great thing about cane pole fishing is that it is less expensive that using a rod and reel. It is more of a challenge because, you don’t have all the fancy lures and plugs. You can still use flies,but only if you lose line fish. Cane pole fishing is fast becoming a lost art. It is very hard to go to a sporting good store and buy cane poles any more. Yet, that is probably how all of us baby boomer’s learned how to fish. I am sure that there are cane pole tournaments around but, you are seeing less and less of them.
Another thing with cane pole fishing, was that you never knew what you were going to catch and how big the fish would be. It was always a surprise to me whenever I caught anything. As young boys do, I always dreamed of catching the big one. On several occasions, I did just that. Cane pole fishing gave me an appreciation for fishing in general. It was used as a lead up to fishing in a more technical way.
One thing for sure. The wonderful memories that I have will always remain with me. I hope that cane pole fishing doesn’t die out. It is a great way to have fun and to appreciate the wonderful sport of fishing itself.