Many coastal fishing communities have roots in Native American cultures. In many regions, the full moons are all named in conjunction with a natural event. Due to increased gravitational pull caused by these strong moons, a tremendous amount of water is moved during those phases. Where I live the full moon in April is known as the Fish Moon because that is when a tremendous push of fish begin to move into our waters. They move for a variety of reasons; some migrate to spawn while others simply move to their spring and summer feeding grounds. It’s an exciting time of year for us because it is the symbol of the beginning of the fishing season and when our otherwise quiet oceans come alive.
In between spots looking for some fresh fish, several of us got into an interesting discussion: are migratory fish more difficult to catch than non-migratory fish? A few of my friends said absolutely they are. Anglers who don’t have the luxury of knowing where the fish are have to pull double duty. First you need skill to find the fish. Then you need to know the fishing and rigging techniques to catch them. Others said by all means, NO. Just because you know where a fish is doesn’t mean you know how to catch him. The skill is not in finding the fish they maintain, the skill comes from figuring out what presentation, approach, time of day, or lure will work. It got deep.
Here’s roughly how the discussion broke down:
“To find the fish you’ve got to think like a fish,” said one pal. “If you can find a fish that is travelling hundreds of miles then you know more about him, his habits, his environment, and how he interacts with nature than one who doesn’t contend with migration. You do all of that before you try to catch them. If you’re off by a click, you may miss the entire school.”
Another said, “If a fish spends most of his life in one environment than he is tougher to catch than those fish that just push through. The stationary fish is more selective, has been worked by other fishermen, and knows every stick and stone in the water. They therefore are harder to catch than one that is hungry from swimming all day, every day. Non migratory fish are smart, and if I spot ‘em, I got ‘em. That’s because I have studied him for years and know what to do.”
There is wisdom in both points. There is a lot of skill for both, and both groups of anglers need to spend a tremendous amount of time on the water to catch fish of both sorts. Anglers of migratory fish try to get one step ahead of them. And those who prefer the challenge of working fish until they hook up sometimes have the patience of Job. When a line comes tight and a fish is on, both anglers feel the sense of accomplishment.
What do you think?
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.