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The “Thunk”

I am never very crazy about polls or questions inquiring about “favorite fish”.  Every fish can be fun to catch and there is something unique to appreciate about every species.  Discussions on the topic invariably include descriptions of how various species fight when hooked, and those perceived to pull the most, hardest, or jump out of the water the highest rank high on every angler’s list.

I love all of that, I love the thrill of having a fish on the line as much as the next angler, and the bigger the fish, the better.  However, over the years I believe I have come to appreciate other parts of the experience of catching a fish as much and even more as the excitement of having one on the line.

As I think about it, the moment I love the most is the anticipation of a bite and then feeling that “thunk” as a good fish inhales a bait.  That take is followed immediately by a set-the-hook reflex and then great satisfaction at feeling the hook set into a solid fish.  You know the feeling, you set the hook and it is just firm, for a split second in time it does not move, but you know it is alive, a fish.  And then it starts swimming. . . .

That is the moment in time I love the most.  I suppose that is when that spurt of adrenaline courses through my veins.  Yep, I am addicted to it, I cannot get enough.

On a good take, followed by a good hook set, I have the confidence in my tackle and experience to know that putting that fish in the net is just a matter of time.  If I do not, something was wrong, hooks were not sharp, or I executed poorly–details to be corrected immediately.  I would not skip it, not saying that at all, but in a way, the actual fighting of the fish becomes almost anticlimactic or should I say “post-climactic”.

Oh sure, you all know I want to put my hands on that fish.  I want us to pose for a selfie before I watch ’em swim away.  If they manage to escape before that, there will be several moments when I sit in silence, shake my head and mumble.  But landing the fish is not the zenith of excitement for me.  No, that point in time occurs before then. . . .

It happens when it all comes together, when I have figured out the right place, right time, right presentation, and put my bait in front of a fish that is ready to eat.  It is the satisfaction of knowing all the homework and time on the water has paid off.  It is seeing the line jump and feeling the “thunk” in my hand, setting the hook and knowing once again that everything is right in the world!

Oh Yeah!
Jeff Kurrus photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine

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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