Ted Peck

Outdoors talk with certified Merchant Marine Captain Ted Peck.

Peck: 'Sport' gone from fishing

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Greg Peck
Saturday, May 6, 2017

My wife put down her Kindle just long enough to realize an epiphany that it would be a good day for spring-cleaning.

I came in from prepping the boat for another fishing trip to grab some gear and caught her coming out of the Man Cave with a box full of “junk”.

She knows this inner sanctum is the sole firebase of masculinity in our home with passage beyond the outer perimeter justifiable grounds for unleashing a barrage of metaphysical claymores.

At the top of the box was a commemorative can of “Treaty” beer. Her rationale for disposing of a fermented beverage that would be a good 35 years beyond “skunk” stage if opened was sound. But “Man Cave memorabilia” is exempt from even civil discussion regarding removal.

She was back on the Kindle before I got even close to explaining the historical significance of that can of Treaty beer. If you have similar inclinations, better run back to your shiny object.

That beer can is a waypoint in what may be nostalgically recalled as “The Golden Age of Sport fishing” just a few years from now.

Treaty beer was a subtle protest over federal judge Barbara Crabb ruling in favor of the Tribe regarding Native American rights to spear gamefish in ceded territories in Wisconsin.

Primarily Anglo-American protestors maintained they had no problem with the Tribe spearing muskies and walleyes so long as they used “traditional” methods like paddle-driven canoes and torches.

The Anglos argued using million candlepower spotlights and electric trolling motors simply wasn’t “fair chase”.

Forty years ago, fishing technology was in its infancy. Today’s “sport” anglers have trolling motors that can follow depth contours transmitted by GPS coordinates then “spot lock” to within five feet to hold position until a suitable fish comes swimming by.

Electronics enable an angler to scan in real time beneath the boat for a full 360 degrees, actually targeting individual fish. The latest evolution actually has the capability to allow determination of fish species!

There are “apps” available using mobile-phone technologies, which not only interface with trolling motors and electronics, they can tell you what lure to select and how deep the lure will run.

Fish really don’t have a chance.

But “old school’ traditions of yanking big fish out of their habitat and bouncing them in livewells many miles away for the Coliseum spectacle of the weigh-in still persist—even though technology also exists to release “weigh” fish on site after they have been ambushed and subdued.

Even though these fish are purportedly released unharmed, the freedom comes far from the habitat this vital cog in the local ecosystem was taken from.

The same technology makes harvesting a “limit” of much-less challenging panfish essentially child’s play. Greatly reducing bag limits may help sustain these populations. But we truly are in an age of going “catching” instead of “fishing”.

I came of age when all the fishing technology in the world was wrapped up in a neat package called “Grandpa”. He used to let me use devices called “oars” to take a leaky wooden boat out to a spot where triangulation between a lone pine on an island and a Grain Belt beer sign on shore in front of a small resort at a perpendicular vector told the old guy there was a rocky hump on the lake’s bottom.

When we arrived, Grandpa would tell me to quit rowing and drop an anchor made from a coffee can filled with concrete. Then we would go fishin’.

It was the very best of times.

Kids who discover fishing when you’re old enough to be called Grandpa won’t have this experience. At least not in real life.

They will simply don a virtual reality helmet and pop the “Golden Age of Fishing” chip into their free-floating, zero gravity chair.

Twenty years from now a shiny object may be the closest a kid can get to discover the joys of fishing. Fish harvest—or even touching—may be forbidden.

Save this column to wrap a substantial pile of fish guts in, and then breathe deep the aroma of newsprint and gills while you still can.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc.

Last updated: 11:25 pm Saturday, May 6, 2017

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