Last week, I told you how I found the best book introduction I have ever read. It was in a thin little book about fishing. Lolly, you see, had found out that there were fish in a lake on a base where we were stationed, and I got the job of catching some fish for her.
However, I knew nothing about fishing because I grew up in two places where there was no real fishing. So I went to the base library, but the only fishing book on its shelves was a sad looking thing just a half-inch thick. I picked it up, eyed it doubtfully, and turned to the introduction, thinking, “What can I learn about fishing from a book that’s only a half inch thick?”
And you know what that introduction said?
“I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourself what can you learn about fishing from a book that’s only half-an-inch thick. Well, if you go fishing today and you don’t catch any fish, it won’t be because of something you don’t know, it’ll be because of all the things you do know that just ain’t so!”
Hey! That got me reading! And what I read in that thin little book made more sense than anything else I have ever read about fishing.
Why? You know what the author had done? Sick and tired of fishing books that claimed much and delivered little, he donned scuba gear and spent three years lying on his back on the bottoms of lakes, ponds, and streams while a friend tested out fishing methods.
So off to the base lake I went with my new knowledge; and back I came with a load of fish. Unfortunately, I also came back with a load of chiggers collected from the brush growing around the lake; and a six-week struggle to cool off those itchy little bites temporarily ended my fishing career.
However, six years later, after I retired from the Air Force and arrived at Northwestern University in beautiful little Natchitoches, La., I was right back at it, and loving every minute of it because of what that little book had taught me. Here, I’ll share a couple of things from it with you:
• For many species of fish, forget about casting your lure as far out into the water as you can. Some fish soon learn that most of their food comes off the bank; so cast your bait or fly close to and parallel with the shore.
• The best proof of that is to get in a stream or lake in a motorboat, slowly putt-putt along close to the bank, drop your lure just behind the bow wave back of your boat, catch a fish every time your lure hits the water, and smile all the way home.
There’s a lot more in that book, all of it true because it isn’t guesswork. It’s based on careful observation of what fish actually do. Sadly, I don’t remember much of it anymore, and I have literally gone nuts trying to find that little book because, like a fool, I never wrote down its title. If you know its title, and you’re the first to write to me via the Roundup with it, I will very gladly mail you $100.
Hints: Date — before 1968. Title — don’t know! Contents — donning scuba gear in fresh water lakes and streams and actually watching what the fish do. No guesswork, no theories, just good solid facts.
And thank you!