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How to Tempt a Fish


How to Tempt a Fish – Popular Mechanics 

I thought I might take up fishing. I thought fishing might be a good hobby - something that I could do alone, by myself. Our cottage came with a lot of fishing gear that is sometimes used by guests. It is all very lovely stuff and the idea of being by myself quietly on the dock or in a small boat, fishing, was appealing. The reality is a bit different. The times of day when one is supposed to be most likely to catch a fish is early morning – when I am not usually up – or evening when there are mosquitoes about. Last summer, with a friend who also thought he might like fishing; we gave it a valiant effort before the bugs drove us inside. He caught a fish about the size of a minnow and lots of weeds, and managed to lose a lure. I might have had a bite.

I’m not the only one who can see the humour in fishing. In fact I think a sense of humour is a requirement before you even start. And a book, of course. So, I looked for a book and the best one that I found is How to Tempt a Fish, A Complete Guide to Fishing from Popular Mechanics. This book is a re-issue of a book published 50 years ago and it is really quite perfect. It is illustrated with delightful sketches from the original, men with pipes and hats doing various fishing activities. There are great ideas of how to re-use things – recycling before it had a name – how to turn old worn out items – like inner tubes from your car tires - into useful fishing paraphernalia.

And there is the real dirt on how to catch fish. Such as “spoon lures…silver or chrome or white, for turbid (murky) waters or overcast days, as well as gold, bronze, and red for clear water and sunny days.” What sort of plugs to use, depending on the time of day and the type of cast.

There is a great chapter on how to raise worms in your basement – it’s easy. After making up a tub full of the right combination of leaf mold, corncobs and dirt, keep it “in a cool part of the basement during the summer months, and in a warm place; preferably near the furnace during the winter. Keep the contents of the tub damp but not too moist”. Excuse me while I go water my worms.

This book is admittedly sexist – in the 1950’s the boys went fishing with Dad while the girls stayed home and played dolls. I wish that had been true in my family – I did go fishing with my Dad, mostly to bug invested swamps – cured me of ever having the desire to fish again until last summer.

 Full of statements such as “Truth is something more or less unknown in fishing circles.” And, how “it is true that fish grow a lot faster after they are taken from the water”- this little book will make you laugh on almost every page. It is so seriously tongue-in-cheek – sometimes it is hard to tell which statements to take seriously. Did you know that - for anyone addicted to fishing, there is but one cure “A doctor’s prescription for these victims reads: “Three weeks in Ontario in July, August, or September on any of the following streams or lakes: Lake of the Woods, Lake Manitou, Eagle Lake, … Georgian Bay, French River, or Lake Nipissing.”

And even 50 years ago there was an awareness of catch and release, even then the authors of this little book realized that there were not as many fish around “You didn’t need a written record to note the change; it was like night and day.”

So, see you on the water – good luck!


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