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Backlashes, Broken Rods And Electronics That Have gone Too Far

2/2/2018 11:27:41 AM

There was a day in my earlier guiding career where the only electronic aid was a flasher. For those of you who are not old enough to remember, the device was simply a screen on which a spinning red light turned within a numbered circle. The red light would light up somewhere on the screen and at that point one could tell the depth by looking at the adjacent number. The device was a quantum leap from the string and weight that we had used in my earlier fishing forays. This simple depth finder was an off shoot of a device used by the early riverboat and keel boats that worked the Mississippi and other rivers when the west was just beginning to be settled. Someone, usually a young lad was stationed at the bow of the boat and at spaced intervals he would toss out the weight and allow it to hit the bottom of the river. After marking the string he would wind the line back around his arm and the yell back the depth to the captain. In fact one of the greatest writers of our times used the riverboat lingo as a pin name. The guy on the bow of the boat would yell "mark twine" and then the appropriate depth to the captain. You readers might possibly know this writer, Sammuel Climmons, aka. Mark Twain.

What does any of this mean to any who happen to read this column other than reveal to you that I am older than dirt. I just want to take you through the evolution of electronics in the fishing game. A few years after the advent of the flasher some wise people figured out how to make the point where the flasher came on etch a scrolled paper. Thus the paper chart was invented. These devices were so far removed and so advanced that fishing became much easier for the average angler and a given for the pros. As the technology advanced, it soon became possible to mark the location of the fish and spots where fish were caught on the chart paper. One could then go home and transcribe the marks on the paper to a map. Now it was possible to return to the "honey hole" area on the next trip. We true old timers had perfected the art of triangulation into a fine science in the early years and this new technology made it possible for us to locate a spot no bigger than a gallon can in twenty or more feet of water. While the chart made fishing easier for the novice most never learned the true technique of triangulation.

A case in point was a spot shown to me on Lake Tawakoni by a good friend. He had discovered the spot by observing feeding fish that seemed to surface right in the middle of the 33,000 lake. To find this spot it was necessary to line up with a hole in an oak tree on the north bank and with a flag pole on the eastern shore. It took a very good eyesight to see these markers but if one knew the spot limits were almost guaranteed throughout most of the year. Even though the exact spot remains a secret modern electronics made the location of the area much easier for the average angler. For those of you who fish Tawakoni regularly you know the area as Sun Point. Figuratively millions of fish have come from the shallow shoal which sits out in the middle of a vast lake. Old guides and savvy anglers had been mostly able to keep this and other spots secret for many years, that is until the next leap in electronics was spawned.

The LCR, liquid crystal recorder, came on the fishing scene with much fan fare and contrary to most "pie in the sky" inventions, this technology took the fishing industry by storm,pun intended! Now it was no longer to be an amateur mechanic to keep the stylus operating properly on the paper chart, or to buy the expensive paper which required some learned expertise in its replacement or occasionally have the drive motors replaced. Oh, did I mention the noise. At time the constant clack-clack could be deafening! The liquid crystal were sound free and they required no expensive paper. As the technology progressed the units became capable of marking spots thus eliminating the need to master the triangulation game.

From their humble beginning the LCR's overtook the very accurate paper charts and have now so far replaced them that the paper chartsr have become but forgotten memories. The units now come in full color which aid in determining bottom hardness, fish size and often the thermocline in deeper lakes. They also have GPS which will allow one to unerring return to the exact spot from which fish were caught yesterday or last year. Most of the better units have maps of your chosen lake and built in compasses to keep one from getting lost. The units have trail markers which allow one to travel a great distance at a slower speed and mark the obstructions so that on tournament day one can hammer down with reasonable certainty that the trip will be safe by following the red marker trail from yesterday. There are ways to mark spots from home by punching in way points that can be obtained without ever going to the lake. For the uninformed, this is what the pro bass anglers can do. They may have a hundred or more so marked spots before they ever get to the lake. Every wonder why the local guys almost never win a tournament on their own lake?

Some of the units today will talk to you, guide the boat to a spot and then hold over that spot which means one never has to bother with an anchor again. They tell you how far you have traveled and how far it is back to your starting point and in some units will pilot the craft back to the beginning point. I guess it could be said that the boating industry beat the car manufactures to the driverless vehicle! Now just think what the future holds.

In coming years the electronics will help one launch the boat. It will no longer be necessary to have one person drive the boat from the trailer as another backs the craft into the water. Just back up until the boat floats free and the unit will take over and pull up to the dock while the owner parks the tow vehicle. It will then crank the big engine and take the angler to the designated hot spot which was acquired from the internet during the drive to the lake. The unit will instruct the angler on what lure to use and the reels will automatically retrieve the lure at just the right speed given the temperature, depth of water and other pertinent factors. The unit will talk to the electronic lure and tell it exactly where the fish are located and with its stored data base will know exactly how the lure is to react. Once the fish is hooked the automatic reel will bring the fighting fish in, never applying too much pressure so as not to break the line. The unit will signal the angler through a series of beeps that a fish is alongside, awakening him from a much needed snooze from all the mental activity which has been exerted so that he may now net the fish.

If my scenario seems to futuristic just wait! At some point it would seem that enough is enough. While electronics have made my job as a guide much easier I believe the technology has somewhat distracted from the learned expertise of catching fish. In the era of instant gratification we just may have pushed the envelope too far. Take the never fail lure for instance which has been banned in all 50 states. The folks where I grew up in Louisiana made this lure a house hold name many years ago. The lure is about six inches long, an inch thick and comes in red or orange paper wrapping with a four inch fuse. An infamous angler in the Cajun Country whose technique was such that when using the miracle lure he never failed allowed a Game Warden to observe his fishing technique. The Warden had a million questions as to how his system worked. The crafty rouge took out the miracle lure from under his shirt, lit the fuse and handed it to the Warden. The old Cajun gave the young Warden a wink and asked, "'Are you going to talk or fish".


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