Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. Fishing may include catching aquatic animals other than fish, such as molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans, and echinoderms. The term is not normally applied to catching farmed fish, or to aquatic mammals, such as whales where the term whaling is more appropriate.
According to United Nations FAO statistics, the total number of commercial fishermen and fish farmers is estimated to be 38 million. Fisheries and aquaculture provide direct and indirect employment to over 500 million people in developing countries. In 2005, the worldwide per capita consumption of fish captured from wild fisheries was 14.4 kilograms, with an additional 7.4 kilograms harvested from fish farms. In addition to providing food, modern fishing is also a recreational pastime.
Main article: Recreational fishing
Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler, published in 1653 helped popularize fly fishing as a sport.
Woodcut by Louis Rhead
The early evolution of fishing as recreation is not clear. For example, there is anecdotal evidence for fly fishing in Japan, however, fly fishing was likely to have been a means of survival, rather than recreation. The earliest English essay on recreational fishing was published in 1496, by Dame Juliana Berners, the prioress of the Benedictine Sopwell Nunnery. The essay was titled Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle, and included detailed information on fishing waters, the construction of rods and lines, and the use of natural baits and artificial flies.
Recreational fishing took a great leap forward after the English Civil War, where a newly found interest in the activity left its mark on the many books and treatises that were written on the subject at the time. Compleat Angler was written by Izaak Walton in 1653 (although Walton continued to add to it for a quarter of a century) and described the fishing in the Derbyshire Wye. It was a celebration of the art and spirit of fishing in prose and verse. A second part to the book was added by Walton’s friend Charles Cotton.
Charles Kirby designed an improved fishing hook in 1655 that remains relatively unchanged to this day. He went on to invent the Kirby bend, a distinctive hook with an offset point, still commonly used today.
Recreational and sport fishing are fishing primarily for pleasure or competition. Recreational fishing has conventions, rules, licensing restrictions and laws that limit the way in which fish may be caught; typically, these prohibit the use of nets and the catching of fish with hooks not in the mouth. The most common form of recreational fishing is done with a rod, reel, line, hooks and any one of a wide range of baits or lures such as artificial flies. The practice of catching or attempting to catch fish with a hook is generally known as angling. In angling, it is sometimes expected or required that fish be returned to the water (catch and release). Recreational or sport fishermen may log their catches or participate in fishing competitions.
Big-game fishing is fishing from boats to catch large open-water species such as tuna, sharks, and marlin. Sport fishing (sometimes game fishing) is recreational fishing where the primary reward is the challenge of finding and catching the fish rather than the culinary or financial value of the fish’s flesh. Fish sought after include marlin, tuna, tarpon, sailfish, shark, mackerel, and many others.
Fishing boat in a heavy sea
Commercial fishing is the capture of fish for commercial purposes. Those who practice it must often pursue fish far from land under adverse conditions. Commercial fishermen harvest almost all aquatic species, from tuna, cod and salmon to shrimp, krill, lobster, clams, squid and crab, in various fisheries for these species. Commercial fishing methods have become very efficient using large nets and sea-going processing factories. Individual fishing quotas and international treaties seek to control the species and quantities caught.
A commercial fishing enterprise may vary from one man with a small boat with hand-casting nets or a few pot traps, to a huge fleet of trawlers processing tons of fish every day.
Commercial fishing gear includes weights, nets (e.g. purse seine), seine nets (e.g. beach seine), trawls (e.g. bottom trawl), dredges, hooks and line (e.g. long line and handline), lift nets, gillnets, entangling nets and traps.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, total world capture fisheries production in 2000 was 86 million tons (FAO 2002). The top producing countries were, in order, the People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan), Peru, Japan, the United States, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, India, Thailand, Norway and Iceland. Those countries accounted for more than half of the world’s production; China alone accounted for a third of the world’s production. Of that production, over 90% was marine and less than 10% was inland.
A small number of species support the majority of the world’s fisheries. Some of these species are herring, cod, anchovy, tuna, flounder, mullet, squid, shrimp, salmon, crab, lobster, oyster and scallops. All except these last four provided a worldwide catch of well over a million tonnes in 1999, with herring and sardines together providing a catch of over 22 million metric tons in 1999. Many other species as well are fished in smaller numbers.
Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. It involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food. A facility that releases juvenile fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species’ natural numbers is generally referred to as a fish hatchery. Fish species raised by fish farms include salmon, carp, tilapia, catfish and trout.
Increased demands on wild fisheries by commercial fishing has caused widespread overfishing. Fish farming offers an alternative solution to the increasing market demand for fish and fish protein .
In January bass anglers have to keep everything in the right perspective. “It’s not April or May. It’s cold, and you have to understand that fish are lethargic and the bite will be slow. On a typical January day you probably won’t catch many fish, but their average size will be bigger than in the warmer months. It’s not unusual to wind up with about the same five-bass weight as you’d have in Spring. You just don’t cull through as many fish to get there,” so says Ott DeFoe, Bassmaster Elite Series angler from Knoxville, TN.
Location:“I fish a fairly simple pattern in January,” he says. “I look for where running creeks empty into the backs of major embayments and for water that’s a few degrees warmer than the water in the lake proper. So they’re in predictable spots and they’re biting better. That can make for some good fishing. The best part of the day is usually from noon to 3 PM,” he says. He eases up the creek, casting crankbaits into deeper holes, typically along outside bends of the channel. “The bass are usually holding near the bottom of the deepest areas,” DeFoe says. “In Winter, it’s important to fish the sunny side of any cover instead of the shady side. It’s all about warmth. The fish are more active in warmer water and you have to keep that in mind as the day progresses.”
Lure Selection & Presentation:DeFoe’s number one go-to coldwater baits are a No.5 & No.7 Rapala Shad Rap, which he fishes on light spinning tackle. He uses the No. 5 for fishing water less then 5 feet and the No.7 for water 7 feet deep. If a channel stretch or hole has some water color and visibility is degraded, DeFoe switches to Rapala DT 4 or DT 6 crankbait, which has a wider, more noticeable wobble than the Shad Rap. If the barometer is high and the bass are inactive, DeFoe tries casting or pitching a jig & pig or a creature bait to any rock or wood cover. “I’ll work both these baits with a slow, steady drag. I do most of the pulling with my rod tip. I want my bait to look like a crawfish slow crawling along the bottom,” he says.
Most anglers think you have to fish ultra slow or use finesse tactics during cold winter months.
While it’s true that a bass’ metabolism slows down, he still has to eat. And remember, the baitfish continue to dart and glide quickly for survival, so a bass has to move equally fast to eat during cold water months.
Therefore, I still stick to my power fishing principles because I can cover a lot of water, but I work them differently to match the conditions.
FIVE BAITS FOR COLD WEATHER
Here are the five baits I will have rigged for cold weather fishing and how I use them:
This is my favorite choice for lakes that have clear water.
Bass are focused on shad during the winter, and I prefer a suspending jerkbait for fishing around vertical structure, like main lake bluffs and bridges, this time of year. When the water is colder, the shad suspend in the water column and if I see shad dying and gulls diving on them, that tells me the suspending jerkbait is the best choice. I will snap it a few times and let it sit a little longer than I do in the summertime, but always experiment with the action until I know how they want it.
RED EYE SHAD
The lipless crankbait can be dynamite on cold, lowland reservoirs or natural lakes, especially if there is vegetation. It’s very efficient for covering a lot of water.
However, I do slow the retrieve down and keep the bait in contact with the bottom. If there’s grass, I like to allow it to touch the vegetation and pull it free. My favorite retrieve is to yo-yo it on a semi-slack line; I let it flutter down because the Red Eye has an enticing shimmy as it falls. That’s when 90 percent of strikes come. I use that slow, pull/stop retrieve all the way to the boat. It’s a great tool for fishing shallow to midrange depths in the winter.
There’s something about a flat-sided crankbait that neutral bass react to better in cold water than they do to rounded-body lures. My favorite is the Strike King KVD 1.5 Flat that has a long bill and no rattles.
I love to fish this bait parallel on channel swings close to the bank in major creeks and even along bluffs, riprap and laydowns. I throw it on 10-pound line and it runs about 10 feet deep. It has a subtle action they can’t stand when the water is cold, so use a steady, slow-to-medium retrieve. If the bait hits a solid object, pause and allow it to suspend momentarily. In colder water, I will weight it with Storm SusPend Dots.
I really like the Strike King Shadalicious in either the 4 1/2- or 5-inch sizes, opting for the larger one in lakes with big bass and big shad.
These baits are very efficient for covering deeper zones of lakes where bass hold off main lake structure.
Also, hollow-body baits have a paddle tail that kicks and moves a lot of water, which is very important in stained water. And, like flat baits, they wobble seductively from side to side.
I rig mine with a swimbait jig head sized to match the depth and speed I want to fish. I typically use a 3/8-, 1/2- or even 3/4-ounce, depending upon the depth.
BLADE BAITS AND JIGGING SPOONS
Blade baits are good for fishing edges of deeper flats. I cast and work it similar to the way I fish the Red Eye Shad, except the blade bait is more efficient in deeper water. Use a lift-and-drop retrieve, feeling the good vibration from the lure each time you lift.
And remember: both blade baits and the Red Eye work best this time of year on heavier line because it slows the fall and reduces problems with it burying in the grass.
The jigging spoon is a bait I primarily fish vertically. Our electronics are so good that, while graphing creek channels, you’ll see pods of bait and mark fish around them. With the spoon, you can fish through the bait. It’s even good along timber and doesn’t snag as much as you think. If it does, jiggle it and it shakes free. When fishing jigging spoons, I often use the 3/4-ounce size on 14- to 17-pound line, using a lift-and drop action, experimenting with the lift. If the fish are real aggressive, I will snap it and make it flutter.