Fishing with Otters
If other fishing methods fail you, maybe you should consider getting your own trained otter. Otters have been used by man for fishing since at least the seventh century. Chinese writers during the time of the Tang dynasty (A.D. 608-916) refer to the use of otters for fishing. In the fifteenth century, they were used to drive fish into nets in Europe. King James I of England, who reigned from 1603-25, kept otters for fishing. The practice existed well into the 1900s in parts of China, India and Malaysia.
An unusual method of catfishing is used on Louisiana’s Lake Bruin. When catfish begin spawning, local anglers start “bucket fishing.” The participants sink weighted buckets with a semicircular hole cut in the lid. Catfish enter the containers to spawn and are captured by lifting the containers from the water using an attached line. The technique is highly effective.
The Dancing Fisherman
Lots of catfishermen still enjoy jugfishing, where the participants follow floating jugs to which baited hooks and line have been attached. It’s been more than a century, however, since anglers employed a special type of floating fish-catcher called the “Dancing Fisherman.” For this means of fishing, a jumping-jack (a small, jointed man whose limbs are moved by jerking a string attached to them) was fastened to a stick secured in an upright position on a float made from a board. Through a hole in the float passed a string attached to the jumping-jack, and tied securely to this were the hook and line. When a fish took the bait and pulled on the string, the little figure would throw up its arms and legs as though dancing for joy at having performed its task so well.
Bobbing For Eels
American eels are popular food fishes in our northeastern states and often are caught for holiday meals or to make into sushi. Anglers sometimes catch them using an unusual method called “bobbing.” Using a needle, numerous night crawlers are threaded on a six-foot piece of heavy sewing thread. The worms are then wrapped into a ball, and the ball is tied with stout line. The line is tied to a pole, and fishing commences. When an eel grabs the bob, the thread entangles in its teeth. Eel on!
Churning For Catfish
A method of catfishing popular in the 19th century seems quite strange today. Known as churning, it was done like this. “A flour barrel was taken, both ends knocked out, and the hoops secured; then a half-dozen boys and men, thus provided, would range themselves across a canal, and moving in concert, would each bring his barrel at intervals down to the bottom. The moment a fish was covered, its presence was betrayed by its beating against the staves in its efforts to escape.” When the men heard the fish flopping, they reached in the barrel, caught the cat and threw it to companions waiting on the bank.
Chairmen of the Boards
Another strange fishing method is used by Chinese fisherman. On one side of each small fishing boat is a white-painted board. The board slopes from the gunwale to the water’s surface at a 45 degree angle. For some reason, upon seeing this board gleaming in the moonlight, fish cannot resist the temptation to leap over it, and right into the boat.
Splashing in the water scares fish away, right? Not always. Anglers in Venezuela often splash the water with a fishing rod to attract the toothy payara, also known as the Dracula fish. This popular South American gamefish is drawn by sounds of splashing, perhaps because the noise mimics schools of feeding piranhas, the payara’s favorite food.
Dapping For Trout
Have you ever seen a trout angler dapping? This once popular fishing tactic seldom is used these days. It’s done using a live mayfly on a long pole with light line. The idea is to flutter the mayfly across the surface without the line touching the water. It’s said to be deadly on rising trout.
Fishermen have devised some very unusual ways to catch fish, including fishing with tame otters.