Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

“The Lake Pump”
Photo of the Week #57, selected in June, 2020

This photo was taken at the Butler State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, a few dozen miles east of Wichita, Kansas.  That no fishermen were seen that cold February day was not unexpected, but seeing the decades-old cleaning table and water pump was.  I delighted in the muted color they added to an otherwise drab and dismal Midwestern winter day. I wondered aloud how many fish had been cleaned on that bench over the years, and how many grandfathers had taught their grandkids how to clean their fish there. This type of conjecture is the essence of a photo jaunt in the plains.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #48- Fishing

My dad never had time to take me fishing, but I managed to find friends to fish with.  In fact, one of my best fishing buds was so into it that he opened a tackle shop and guide service.  The last time he and I fished together, we had driven up the California coast and hopped on a full-day party boat in Monterey.  We each caught so many we had to stop with a couple of hours to go because our arms were too sore to hold the deep-sea rods.  After processing, Jack (yes, we were a pair of Jacks) had 52 pounds of luscious filleted meat and I had 37 pounds, both the tops on the boat that day. 

I had a few significant fishing days with other friends, too.  Scott introduced me to barracuda fishing, or “backaruda,” as we used to purposely mispronounce it.  Barracuda feed in groups by swimming beneath large schools of anchovies and eating the small fish from the bottom, forcing the whole school up out of the water with nowhere else to go.  This causes a 20- or 30-yard-wide ocean “boil” as the anchovies continually try to escape from being eaten.  A fishing boat, having noticed the boil, would pull up close enough to cast across it with 12-inch-long jigs or lures.  We would cast and retrieve as fast as we could, reeling in catches of the 3-4-foot-long barracuda, unhooking them in the boat and casting back out.  Speed was of the essence, because the feeding frenzy could end as quickly as it erupted.

I have fished for both salt-water and fresh-water species, from shore or from a boat, guided or not, in a dozen or so states, including Alaska, Florida, California, Washington, Kansas and others.  I’m looking forward to getting a Texas license as soon as we settle in at our winter space.  [Note: Texas does not have annual or monthly non-resident fishing passes, so this didn’t happen. However, a temp fishing license is included in all state park pass fees.] One problem with fishing as we move around the country is that I have to purchase a non-resident license wherever I go.  Florida conveniently sells annual licenses to out-of-staters, but they seem to be the exception.  All-in-all, non-resident license cost keeps fishing from being a desirable activity everywhere we visit.

There are many things about angling that can make you happy, starting with the adage that a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day of working.  Experiencing nature and wildlife is always something I appreciate, and the entire pace of the sport is calming.  It’s difficult to feel stressed when you are watching your pole for a bite.  Like many outdoor activities, sharing them with friends and family can help strengthen those relationships.  Like camping, you can improve your self-esteem by learning to master several outdoor skills at once.

Many a great fishing spot requires a long or strenuous hike (or it probably wouldn’t be so great), another physical activity to improve your health.  Then there’s the thrill of the catch and the taste of the freshly grilled feast.

Fishing is a lifetime skill and can be enjoyed at any age.  I’ve been fishing for over 50 years and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.


There is a great quote from President Herbert Hoover that would be appropriate to share here: “Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.

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Fishing Fleet at Rest

“Fishing Fleet at Rest”
Photo of the Week #8, from July 2019

Sometimes it’s the lack of color, like at daybreak in a foggy harbor, that gives a photo its unusual feel.  I love the contrast in this one, the sun forcing its way to the calm water.  The San Francisco area is famous for its thick fog, but I took this while walking the docks through the fog in Newport, on Oregon’s central coast. The town claims to be the “Dungeness Crab Capital of the world,” so I’m certain this fishing fleet is nearly empty on a clear morning.

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Mile after mile, nearly every parcel of land in Texas is fenced off to the public. With the exception of the many open Gulf beaches, almost all waterways and lakefronts are privately owned and unavailable. A fisherman or photographer, and I am both, on foot is going to have a difficult time anywhere except when paying for State Park access, and much of that is crowded and very limited.

In addition, nearly all rural acreage is owned and fenced farmland or portions of vast ranches. If you want to bird watch or photograph a sunset without a road in the scene, you are often forced to trespass or be limited to state parks.

According to Texas A&M’s Natural Resources Institute, “Texas has a long history of private land ownership where 95 percent of the state is privately owned.” That means that 255,166 of its 268,596 square miles is private property. The state has leased a little over 1,500 square miles from landowners to allow, for a fee, hunting, fishing, photography and equestrian activities. That equates to about 1/2 of 1% of all Texas land, and can necessitate a guide to bring you to, and through, the proper acreage.

Fenced ranches in Texas are HUGE. According to wideopencountry.com, “the combined square footage of the 10 biggest Texas ranches reaches over four million acres or nearly 7,000 square miles.” That’s an average size of 700 square miles EACH. The majority of ranches in Texas range between small ranches of 2,000 acres to those of 20,000+ acres.

Alas, Texas is not unique in citizens successfully blocking public access to desirable land. In two hundred miles of New England coastline, we found only a dozen or so state beaches, all expensive and tourist-packed, and little other public access. If you want an iconic photo of waves crashing on a Maine cliff or of an eagle nesting in a seaside strand of trees, you need a boat. Trying to find public beach or shore access on almost any lake in New York State is a fool’s errand. In Florida, beach access proponents have sharply criticized a new state law as “privatizing the state’s most valuable resource and undermining the tourism-based economy.”

This is not the case, at least not to the same extent, on the west coast. There are hundreds of miles of Pacific coastline where you can literally park on a shoulder or other parking area and walk down to the beach or over to a clifftop view of the Pacific. Almost all freshwater lakes are accessible, though some require local or state fees to enter, without private lot upon lot of lakeshore. There are many Texas- and New-York-like exceptions, however.

Thus far, in more restricted states on the East Coast or in the South, including Texas, when not in a lakeside or coastal campground, I’ve had to park near bridges or overpasses and walk a considerable distance to take photos of lake or ocean views. In the West and much of the Northern States, these opportunities are everywhere.

We have stayed in a campground on Texas’ Lake Tawakoni on numerous occasions. This lake boasts 200 miles of shoreline covering 37,879-acres, but, in exploring all the roads around the lake multiple times, the only other access to the water we could find is in the State Park.

So, what’s the answer? There isn’t one, at least without a grass-roots outcry. Sadly, as long as the wealthy want to own the most desirable views and have unlimited access to water, there isn’t much hope for change. States could begin purchasing some of this scenic lands within their borders and convert them to public resources, but that has yet to happen in any meaningful way.

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