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Hang Up!

I blog about fish and fishing, most of the time.  I try at least once in awhile to maybe pass along some tips or ideas that might help folks catch more fish, or catch & release a big fish.  I have one of those in mind today, but I am going to warn that this is going to ruffle the feathers of some of you. . . .

I spend a lot of time on the water, observe a lot of anglers while I am at it.  Nebraska has some really good “sticks”, some folks who can flat out catch fish.  In fact, I am a Nebraska “homer”, and I believe we have anglers in Nebraska that are among some of the best in the country.  On the other hand, I observe a lot of anglers who are struggling, who just cannot quite “connect the dots”, anglers who never seem to have that “A-ha moment”.  I have a tip that will help folks like that, that will help any of you who like to fish, a tip that will help any angler become better–hang up the stinkin’ cell phone!

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I have stated that the longer I fish, the more I am convinced that “luck” has nothing to do with catching fish.  You create your own “luck”.  I believe there are certain fundamentals that apply to fishing just like there are fundamentals for any sport.  You can learn to master those fishing fundamentals and you can learn to become a better angler.  If you are talking on the phone while you are on the water, that ain’t happening.  Fish and the environment in which they live are complex.  The better we can understand where fish are located, and what they are doing, the more likely we are to catch them.  Oftentimes, the clues are subtle, especially subtle because fish live in an environment that is foreign to us, an environment we struggle to perceive.  You bet, there are “apps” and all kinds of technology available through a “smart phone” and some of those gadgets may help, but none of them can unravel the complexity of nature around us, nature under the water.

Sure, I understand the value of a cell phone in case of emergency; that is fine, have it available just in case.  But, hang up, turn it off.  You can talk about it later.  You will learn more, and enjoy it more, by answering the call of nature, the call of the water, the call of the fish.  Little details are often the difference between catching a few fish and getting skunked; the difference between catching some fish and catching a lot of fish; the difference between catching average-size fish and catching big fish.  The cell phone ain’t gonna fill you in on those little details.  Hang up.

I saved a quote from an In-Fisherman on-line article, an article by Matt Straw, Autumn Steelhead in Low Water, fall 2012.  I am warning you, ole Matt goes off on this topic even more than I do, but he is right!

Besides, when I hear a cell phone ringing in steelhead country, I want to grab it and pitch it into the river. No matter how smart that phone gets, it can’t match the complexity of a steelhead. The real miracles are swimming free in wild rivers and finding their own way back to the exact spot where they were born 4 or 5 years ago with no need for a GPS unit, recharging, or a program written by a geek in a dark room then sold by a series of capitalists trained to survey your desires and pinpoint knee-jerk reactions to things that seem really, really cool yet make no real difference in your life and actually pale in comparison to that bird flying over your head that goes completely unnoticed.

Rule number one: Toss that life interrupting, cancer causing, brain-wave altering, dummy box of a cell phone into the glove box. Pay attention to life and the journey begins. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, it can lead to a pattern. The marching of ants along a tree limb. Pelicans resting on shore. A gathering of birds. A school of minnows. The flight of a single mayfly.

A set of rings in an otherwise placid pool.

All of which, in the mind of an actual angler,  just beat the hell out of the most sophisticated toys, games, and phones geeks can build in dark, sterile rooms.

When I am on the water and I see anglers with cell phones plastered to their ears, even if they are talking only for a little bit, I get a maniacal grin.  I am going to out-fish those folks, out-fish them right underneath their noses.  And after I catch a big fish and turn it loose, they can call everybody they know and tell them about it!


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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