The text message from Mike Wood asked, “You want to go fishing?”
What the former LDWF Director of Inland Fisheries and fisheries biologist extraordinaire meant in technical terms was, “I have an angling hypothesis I desire to put to field examination. Would you like to enlist in the expedition?”
Either way, the answer is always, “Well sure!”
The Ichthyology challenge was fairly simple: Monday a cold front would blow through our area from the North. It would rain. Again. The temperatures would drop. The barometric pressure would rise. The wind would increase. If we timed it just right, we could be there, right in the middle of it. The water was already muddied from Saturday’s deluge and the already finicky spawning crappie would have their collective heads tucked deep into their best fish safe places. No one in their right mind would go, except in the relentless pursuit of science. Enter us.
“Here’s the theory. A good fisherman should be able to catch them anyway, right?” Mike asked.
Hand me a shiner, please.
About 15 cypress trees later, a dozen dead shiners and a brief moment of hiding in the truck from the heaviest, coldest rain of the day without either of us even getting a crappie nibble, we were beginning to rethink the “good fisherman” part of the hypothesis.
The rain stopped, the temp dropped and we hopped back in the boat and resumed the experiment, but with a new twist. We had been given time to think!
We decided we needed to fish something little and fish it as slow as we could. That was the “outsmart them” element of the good fisherman part. So we tied on Garland Monkey Milk Itty Bit plastic jigs and held them as close to the cypress and as still as we could. Heck, I could barely see the itty bitty bait, so I figured the fish couldn’t either. If they were skittish of a bigger lure, this should work.
It did. Fishing five trees and landing four good fish in thirty minutes, we rejoiced in solving the fish puzzle and proving the original hypothesis. My old high school science teacher Doc Everett would be so proud.
One should never underestimate the power of itty bitty or slow when fishing tough conditions. Or the value of seeing a good Ichthyology test through to the end. Mike’s original hypothesis was correct: Great fishermen can catch fish in almost any conditions or situation. We proved it. Pictures in the camera. Filets in the Fridge.
But wait, there is MORE! Like Newton when he got hit in the head with the apple and discovered gravity, we made a discovery relating to why fish bite sometimes and not others. I believe this to be more scientifically applicable than the revelation years ago that when the cows are feeding, the fish are biting.
The fish really were not biting. Why? The answer was obvious. Like so many of us, the fish were turned off by the switch to Daylight Savings Time. They were out of sorts and acting strange. Unhappy fish don’t eat shiners. Eureka!
Our Discovery: the time change makes fish not bite!
“That’s it,” Mike said. Time changed. Fish didn’t bite. Observation of fact + documented result. Scientific Method applied and verified.”