We all can agree that angling comes in many different forms and styles. Colorado has a very large population of fishing brethren whether it be the small stream fly casters, big lake boaters or the leisure shore lounging crowd. These differences do not make one of us better than the other. They are simply differences. Within each person lies the various measure of skill level or the manner of fishing ethics that are employed. Having said that I do feel as if there are different ranks. Like designated positions on a team they act with purpose to get the fishing job done.
Bait fishing is considered one of the most common forms of fishing in North America if not the world. Colorado anglers are often divided as to the legitimacy of this tactic depending on the location or species they are targeting. I think bait fishing is an important part of angling but also see some of the downsides as well. Fishing with live bait will always be a mainstay in this state and a large number of fisher-folks support this view. Even though I chose a different method for my angling, I don’t view bait fishing as the enemy or doom of the world. It is my view that we would lose a large portion of participation in the sport if it were banned entirely.
It is also my view that a few bad apples are tainting the image of bait fishing by leaving a lot of trash and taking out way too many fish. Bad apples aside, I may have gone so far as to develop a ranking system for the most common levels of bait users found on any given body of water. Maybe I was just bored.
First Timer: Most kids that enter the world of fishing do so with a hook and worm. For the beginner it helps to eliminate a lot of the complexities while allowing the maximum potential for action. Live bait is generally on the menu for all fish and actively catching fish is what hooks the child into the sport of fishing for the long term. Not catching fish might make the day boring and memories of angling as a child will bring up recollections of disdain. If the youth chooses to not fish again no torch will be passed on. The future of water management may hang in the balance as a result.
Billy Bobber: Once the beginner gets a taste of their first success subsequent trips will follow. It will take a while for them to develop their individual style and preferences depending on their personal desires and surrounding angler mentorship. In most cases the subsequent trips to the lake will employ the use of the hook, worm and bobber setup. Success may be tied exclusively to the specific lake conditions, area they are fishing as well as timing. Some make it past this stage and some do not. A few will move on to more advanced methods of fishing, purchase waders or bellyboats and their lives will be filled with outdoor adventures.
Captain Bait and Wait: For some people catching fish is not the most important part of the equation. I know it sounds crazy but some people actually prefer to relax or have fun while fishing as opposed to sacrificing body and mind for one good fish. Captain Bait and Wait would like to catch a fish but it is not a requirement and in many cases the fish will have to come to him.
CBW’s are usually found close to the parking lot but a few are willing to trek quite a ways to find shoreline solitude. This is generally for napping purposes as opposed to finding the best fishing spot. Tools of the trade may be a Zebco101 closed-face reel and a foldem-up chair for full scale lounging. I have seen even seen the deployment of actual living room furniture and big surf fishing equipment. Others simply bring an umbrella and a good book. Once again, to each their own as long as they remember to take all this stuff back home with them.
Master Baiter: Possibly one of the most fish catchin’est people out there is an angler that knows the species, knows the menu and expertly fishes with the best live bait option that is legal for that particular body of water. In many cases the fish don’t stand a chance as the method is exactly what the species has done its entire existence. This method employs one part knowledge, one part skill and can leave the rest up to the fish’ natural habits. With stinky hands and a full cooler…the Master Baiter is a force to be reckoned for many reasons. The Master Baiter could be my best friend or my worst enemy depending the type of fish they are taking out, where and when.
A number of fisheries in the state prohibit the use of live bait for various reasons. These areas tend to fish better in my opinion and I would like to see more added to the list. Not all, just more. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to your local water managers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife voicing your opinion on a particular body of water if you want changes\improvements made.
Once again, one rank is no better than the other in the overall scope of the universe and fishing. They all catch fish on any given day or the other. The love of the outdoor experience and the dream of one more cast helps fuel our passion for the sport.
Good luck and good fishing.