Bassmaster Elite Pro Gerald Swindle might call them “peanuts.” Pro Casey Ashley just calls them “babies.” But personally, “Dink” has always been in my vocabulary. Whatever you call them, little fish are worth appreciating too.
For example, from thousands of eggs, only a few bass, will survive and grow large enough to earn the title of “whopper.” Despite the lack of photographic evidence and the stories anglers may tell, small fish are sometimes caught. Too many little fish could mean a stunted population, but a “peanut” every now and then indicates balance.
Although I no longer have access to the fisheries research sampling equipment that fisheries managers use, I still gather rough information regarding a fish population while using my preferred sampling gear: the fishing pole. However, as with all sampling, there is gear bias. By using the fishing pole to, as I tell my wife, “collect data,” my sampling favors landing the big fish. Hook and lure size, for example, may exclude many little fish. Plus, anglers rarely target little fish, instead always casting where we think “the big one” may lurk.
But a body of water cannot sustain just big ones; smaller sizes need to be represented to replace old fish and utilize a diverse forage base.
So when, despite our efforts to exclude them, an ambitious, diminutive fish, barely larger than the lure dangles on the end of the line, think of it as hope for the future. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, you can tell anyone who snickers that these occasional wee fish are “difficult to effectively sample due to gear bias.”
At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.