Picture it: a father and son waiting on a harbor over a lake, their bare legs dangling over the water, each of them holding a fishing rod. It’s a scene bound to endear children and excite families, simply because fishing has long been used by humans for both relaxation and industry.
Put simply, fishing covers all activities involved in hunting and catching fish and other aquatic animals such as octopus, turtles, shellfish, and squid. Fishing first began about ten thousand years ago. Fishing was considered a game for the lower classes in ancient Greece, but the Chinese regarded the skill as a gift from the gods. The ancient Egyptians were known for their fishing implements and improvised fishing methods, most of which are captured in illustrations in the pyramids, and in papyrus documents.
Fishing today can take on many forms, from the simple boat on the lake, and occasional conversation amongst friends or relatives; to the larger, industrial boat in the middle of the sea, with its gigantic net.
The following are a few types of common fishing methods. With the proper skill, and with only a few pieces of equipment, some fishermen can catch fish by hand – without the fish even slipping out! Hand fishing is still practiced in some villages around the world, where shallow waters near rivers, or by the sea, can be a source of fish for the evening’s meal. Using a spear, a bow, and a keen eye, some fishermen can engage in spear and bow fishing. This requires great strength and dexterity, and it has been practiced for centuries. In fact, with the proper equipment, fishermen can use only a bow and arrow to catch fish! Other fishermen cast nets out in their body of water of choice. Such a method, sometimes known as cast net fishing, can allow farmers a larger catch – this, however, can also lead to them catching unwanted (or unintended) animals or even objects. These include dolphins, seals, or even trash. Larger fishing vessels engage in trawling, or dragging a large net through the sea, allowing the net to catch whatever it can gather. Like cast net fishing, trawling can catch other animals, like sharks or baby whales. A more damaging version of trawling is dredging, where the seabed is disrupted in the hopes of getting more fish to swim nearer to the surface and into the net. A common method of catching fish is by using a fishing line, with bait attached at the end. This is done usually for recreational purposes, and involves some skill and “getting the fish to bite. ” A variation of this method is fly fishing, in which colorful, feathery objects serve as lure, and where a fishing line is cast at a certain angle onto the surface of a body of water. The fly fishing enthusiast often stands knee-deep in the water while this is done. Ice fishing is a variation of line fishing, this time done through a hole on the surface of an iced body of water. Ice fishers cut out a hole in the ice to expose the still liquid water, and the fish swimming below. Some fishermen lay out fish traps, which are contraptions meant to lure fish and cage them in, so that fishermen may take them out much later. Not all fishing methods are mild. Some fishermen, in their wish to catch more fish, use toxins such as cyanide to poison whole populations of fish, which they can then gather by hand. This method, however, poisons even juvenile fish, leaving no more fish for the next generation, and no harvest for the next catch.
Another dangerous method involves the use of dynamite. This is common in the waters of Southeast Asia, where fish often hide in corals. Electrofishing is a new, non-invasive method of catching fish. It involves passing electric currents through water, prompting a fish to be lured to the source of the current, then disabling it for the moment so that it may be harvested. Electrofishing, though relatively simple, needs skill to assure that no unintended animals will be harmed.
Fishing is always an exciting and relaxing activity – and it can lead to a delicious dinner too! If it is done with minimal damage to the environment, then there will surely be enough fish left for fishing to endure in the generations to come.
Khieng ‘Ken’ Chho - Online Fishing Resources. For more, visit Ken's website: http://fishing.1w3b.com/