Is it a Fish?

Fishing the BWCA
Boundary Waters Fishing

I volunteered to work at the community Halloween party yesterday and I was able to do one of my favorite activities. I was fishing yesterday! There was no water, there were no fish, but there were some really happy kids when they reeled in various prizes at the fishing booth.

This time instead of being the angler I was more like the fish. I attached prizes to fishing line with small clothespins and watched while the kids tried to drag their heavy catch up over the edge of the table. Some kids lost their prize on the way up and not every kid had a good clean catch. Some of them wanted to catch and release for a different prize of their liking while others just left their prize on the counter and walked away.

Many of the kids wanted to fish again for a second prize.  When I told them they could fish but they wouldn’t be catching anything they decided they no longer wanted to fish.  That made me think about real fishing and the number of times I’ve gone out fishing knowing I probably wouldn’t catch anything. Then that made me think about how kids these days, in a world of instant gratification and self-centeredness, may not be willing to fish or hunt because it is too boring.  Kids get bored way too easily these days especially if you take away their electronics.

I stumbled across an article about fishing and wanted to share it to get your opinion. It’s about setting the hook and when to set the hook. I don’t know about you but I know between Josh, his friends and me we’ve lost way more lures by setting the hook than fish we have lost by not setting it.

Is it a fish? Probably not but that’s why you’re in the boat, may as well set the hook, reel it in and see what you’ve got.

To Set or Not to Set-Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at

We hear it all the time from coaches of various sports. Simple reminders like:

  • “Put the glove on the ground.”
  • “Cut to the basket.”
  • “Play defense.”

Players know these things, yet a little reminder every now and then helps maintain focus to get the job done. The same goes with fishing.

Here are few reminders for one of the most important events in fishing, the hook set.

  • “If the lure drops-twice… You might need a hook set.”
  • “If the line turns… You might need a hook set.”
  • “If you are fishing with soft –plastics on the bottom and feel a thump… count to 2 and you might need a hook set.”
  • “If you have been in contact with the bottom and suddenly don’t feel anything… you might need a hook set.”
  • “If a mostly taut line get really slack… you might need a hook set.”
  • “If that piece of hotdog moves… you might need a hook set.”

My son recently felt a smallmouth fight briefly, but he never set the hook and it quickly shook off. “I thought it was just a rock,” he explained.

“If you feel any bump, set the hook anyway,” I advised and a little ways down river he landed his largest smallmouth bass of the year.

“I never would have caught that fish, if you hadn’t reminded me.”

Maybe.  Maybe not. But as Bassmaster Elite angler Tommy Biffle likes to say, “Jerks are free.”


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