Some of the fish I’ve caught in 2012. According to my records, I’ve hooked and landed almost 30 species this year, 9 of which are new additions to my lifelist (sauger, longnose gar, mooneye, silver carp, silver redhorse, yellow bullhead, … Continue reading
Lots of amazing fish being caught in TX recently. David G. and his brother got into some monster fish, including big alligator gar, huge smallmouth buffalo and what might have been a world record longnose gar at 61 inches and an estimated weight (based on length and girth) of 49.6 pounds. The world record, which some say is probably a hybrid longnose/alligator, is 50 pounds and change. The brothers G didn’t have a scale, so they released it to keep growing. Full report with amazing photos is here.
Just as impressive, if not as toothy, is the new junior world record smallmouth buffalo caught this spring by Austin Anderson. Not satisfied with regularly catching buffalo in the 30-40 pound range (as well as hefty carp and other species—see his spring 2012 synopsis here), Austin went out and got a 50 pound, 6 ounce fish from Lake Fork, TX, during the Lake Fork Carp and Buffalo Challenge in late February.
For more of Austin’s incredible catches, check out his blog: Pondbass.
Cool that David G’s longnose gar and Austin’s smallmouth buffalo have almost identical weights but such different ways of distributing it for maximum food-finding efficiency.
I may have to visit Texas soon.
Looking for Insults
I tend to get pretty angry when I find anti-sucker (and other roughfish) sentiment on the web or in current publications. By now, shouldn’t everyone know better? In older sources, however, I make a point of looking for insults, dismissals, diatribes and condemnations of the fish I like. It’s fun to read. While I wouldn’t expect old books aimed at a popular audience (how-to-fish manuals, fishing guidebooks, memoirs of fishermen) to cover fishing for suckers, the problem is that very few of them ever mention suckers at all, even in passing. (See this post on suckers as vermin for one exception.)
In addition to suckers, I always look to see what—if anything—these authors had to say about some of my other favorites, such as gar and bowfin. As toothy predators from the time before trout, gar and bowfin are easy targets for insults. Like suckers, they are almost never mentioned at all—except in scientific books. I think I’ve found mention of bowfin in only one or two old collections of fishing stories, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any mention of gar in any old book about fishing.
The scientific books are more fertile ground. Any half decent scientific work of any age that covers the fishes of North America has to include the undesirables I’m looking for, if only briefly, and they usually do it without much entertainment value. The most entertaining prose, unsurprisingly, tends to be in the non-scientific works (see below).
When an author—popular or scientific—feels the need to go beyond simply ridiculing a fish for not being a trout or bass, the usual course is to blame them for harming other, more desirable, species (and it doesn’t matter whether the accusations have merit). Suckers are maligned as mud-eaters lacking esthetic or commercial value, but are also be blamed for eating the eggs of trout and walleye. Gar, bowfin and other predatory fish (other than trout) are blamed for gorging on whatever species are most profitable in a given body of water, be it trout or walleye.