Summer is finally here! With the sunshine and heat comes the height of fishing season; whether you prefer fly fishing, angling, or trawling, you can expect to find yourself outdoors and on the water -- or in it, with your heavy duty waders and wading boots tugged high. Although millions of Americans participate in the hobby, not all are well-informed on the subject. Let's take a look at four common fishing myths.
- Bullhead stingers: Anglers of all ages believe that the barbels, or whiskers, on a bullhead or catfish are stingers. In actuality, these whiskers are feelers; the fish rely on them to better identify food and other objects as they are moving through the water. The basis for this myth likely lies from the sharp fins on bullheads and catfish, which can cut your hands if you aren't careful when handling them.
- Big bait equals big catch: If you're fishing for big fish, big baits can be a good choice -- but they aren't a requirement. Fish are opportunistic and will feed on the easiest food source available, regardless of size.
- Rain stops the bite: One of the oldest fishing myths is that fish do not bite when it is raining. There is simply no truth to this; rain does not affect the feeding patterns of fish. The root of this myth is likely attributed to cold fronts; changes in temperature can alter fish feeding activity, and cold fronts are often accompanied by rain.
- Wind doesn't matter: Many anglers were told by their parents and grandparents that when the wind is from the west, the fish bite best; when the wind is from the east, the fish bite least. Just like rain, however, wind direction does not affect feeding activity. These shifts in wind direction are often associated with warm and cold fronts which do affect feeding, explaining the connection between the two unrelated events.
If you're one of the 30 million people that own paid fishing licenses, you probably already know the truth of these timeless myths; after all, you don't spend all day in your heavy duty waders and wader shoes without discovering that they don't hold much water! The next time you want to head out on the water, don't let the wind or rain deter your plans; simply focus on the task at hand, and you'll be bringing home dinner in no time.