Category Archives: News

Creating Fish Reefs by Sinking Ships

Gulf Communities are Creating Fish Reefs from Sunken Ships

Creating Fish Reefs by Debbie Kay

This August, a vessel will sink off San Padre Island in Texas, and everyone is excited about it.  The program has been created to make a large artificial reef, which will draw important reef fish like red snapper into the area.  The company doing the work, RGV Reef, is intending to bring business to both commercial and sport fishermen and the many tourist community businesses that rely on them. Continue reading Creating Fish Reefs by Sinking Ships

Ayu Fishing Requires a Rod 30-40 Feet Long

Ayu Fishing:  How a Peacetime Samurai Training Exercise Created a New Sport

Ayu Fishing by Debbie Kay

The ayu is not much to look at.  However, this tiny silver smelt with golden fins has played a large part in Japanese history.  It is the inspiration for the modified fly fishing technique of ayu fishing, which has served not only as a way to catch these tasty “sweetfish” but also as a way to keep samurai skills sharp during the two and a half centuries of the Edo period, when samurai swordplay was rare.   Instead, the technique that requires a rod 30-40 feet long is believed to have been developed specifically for this purpose.  While this theory is not entirely proven, it is a favorite of fishing historians.

The Edo Period

In Japan, the Edo Period was known as a two and a half century period of peace and isolationism.  Samurai served as guards for noblemen, but rarely if ever saw war.   Samurai enjoyed a high status similar to the knights of medieval Europe.  Because of this, they were one of the few groups of people who were allowed to fish the rivers.  As many of them were stationed to nobles who lived in country manors far from any action or other forms of entertainment, fishing was a very popular activity for them.  They created specialized rods, used scraps of silk kimonos as tied flies, and even bent their own sewing needles as hooks.  If the legend is true, the techniques in ayu fishing mimicked many aspects of swordplay, and fishing barefoot along the rocks with a moving current developed balance.

How Ayu Fishing Works

Today, ayu is a very popular fish and is raised in hatcheries for sport fishing.  Today, it typically takes place at a wood and stone weir called a Yana.  Ayu is highly territorial, and the trick to catching them is to make them feel like their territory is being encroached upon.  This can be done by presentation or by using live bait.   Hooks are not taken by mouth, but instead the flies and bait have them along the belly and gills to accidentally hook the territorial fish when it comes to fight for its property.  If you are using live bait, then typically the bait fish is switched out each time with the new fish to keep any of them from being too worn out.

The fish are highly valued for culinary purposes, and they are nicknamed sweetfish because they have notes of fruit in their flavor.  They are believed by some to be the tastiest fish in all of Japan.

Invention or Imitation?

While it is widely believed that ayu fishing was the sport of samurai, it is not clear whether they invented the technique or brought it over from Korea after a series of raids.  A very similar technique called cheonde existed there, though the historical records are not clear as to which technique predated the other.  Whatever you believe, if you have the opportunity to try ayu fishing, it can be fun to imagine yourself following in the footsteps of these iconic warriors.

Antique Lures: Hidden Fortune in Grandpa’s Tackle Box?

Antique Lures by Debbie Kay

If you are a pack rat like I am, you probably have a number of vintage items from family members long departed in your attic.  Old pictures and letters, furniture and other keepsakes are common, and help us hold on to memories of the past.  If you have an old tackle box in your attic, you may have more than a treasure trove of memories, however, as there are a number of hand-crafted vintage lures that collectors will pay a pretty penny for.  If you are in possession of an 1853 Giant Copper Haskill Giant Minnow, for example, it can be worth over $100,000 at auction.  There are plenty more that value in the thousands, according to this 2008 Bassmaster article, and the prices years later have surely increased.

A List of Valuable Lures

In addition to the famous giant minnow, here is a look at some of the other high-end lures

  • $30,000 and up: The Heddon frog is probably the second most valuable antique lure.  It was created by a honey manufacturer as an incentive to get customers to buy his honey.
  • $15,000: There are a few different lures that were valued at this price in 2008, including the first wooden plug bait from 1897, the Shakespeare Revolution Wood Bait.  Also in this category is the Haskell Fish Hook from 1859.
  • $10,000-$12,000: There are a number of lures within this range.  Two flying Helgrammites from the 1800’s one by Pflueger and one by Comstock.  Also, the Krantz and Smith Chatauqua Minnow from 1908, the Friend-Pardee Hook Minnow, the Heddon Night Radiant, Moonlight 1913 Special, Pflueger Trory Minnow, Pfleuger Decoy, Heddon Dowagiac Minnow and Shakespeare New Albany Bait.

How Do I Know What I Have?

It can be hard to know what you have.  Your first clue that an old lure has value is in the care of its crafting.  Is it handmade, hand painted, and either wood (which often did not last) or hand-crafted metal?  Does it come from the 1800’s or early 1900’s?  These are signs that your lure probably has some value. There are a number of online sites that can help to match your lure, or you can send photos to forums to get an ID.

How to List and Sell Your Antique Lures

You won’t get the best value for your lure unless you have the attention of collectors willing to pay top prices.  Auctions work for this, or you can sell to someone who deals in antique lures.  The best way to sell to a dealer is to show the lure to several different ones, and see what each of them is willing to offer them.  Make sure you have a concrete ID on your lure so that you can also do your research on how much they have sold for.  Dealers will want to re-sell, so you will get less than full price, often, but you will also get money faster than if you wait for it to sell at auction or on consignment.

Other Fishing Articles You Might Enjoy

Choosing The Right Lures to Catch Fall Bass Choosing Lures for Fall Bass By Ben Team Falling temperatures cause bass to break their lethargic summer patterns and begin feeding aggressively. ...

The World Recreational Fishing Conference

Angling Meets Science at the World Recreational Fishing Conference

by Debbie Kay 

Whether you’re interested in better understanding the stream and lake systems around them, want to know why your fishing rules are changing or learn better ways to help make freshwater fishing something that your grandchildren can share with their grandchildren, the World Recreational Fishing Conference is an excellent opportunity to learn and to share knowledge.  The conference will be in Victoria, BC between July 16th to 20th, 2017.  The chance to submit an abstract to speak will open on July 20th, 2016. Continue reading The World Recreational Fishing Conference

New Fishazam App Helps Prevent Poaching

Fishazam Offers a Clever Solution for Misrepresented Seafood

by Debbie Kay

If you’ve ever used the Shazam app, you understand how great it is being able to use your phone to discover the name of a new song, or one of those songs you never knew the name of.  The algorithm that makes Shazam work is now being repurposed, however, and could help prevent overfishing and poaching.  This new app, Fishazam, could help regulators enforce easily circumvented rules, bringing benefits to fish and fishermen everywhere. Continue reading New Fishazam App Helps Prevent Poaching