Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:40

Lessons for anglers from a fishy education



By Rex Bledsoe

Humans have a tendency to believe most animals are relatively stupid - especially fish. When anglers believe fish have limited powers of observation and intelligence, they tend to exclude the lessons most schools of fish teach their young. When they do so, they continue to believe old wives tales and misguided assumptions about fish behavior. In particular, they underestimate the capacity of the fish they are pursuing to practice the hook-avoidance techniques that are a regular part of a fishy education.

If we humans were able to hear and comprehend the information conveyed in fish schools, anglers would be less likely to continue to make some very traditional mistakes in pursuing their prey. If we were to listen in, we might hear some of these lessons from a fishy education.


These are all examples of fish hooks - single, treble, barbless, and barbed. A fish hook is to be avoided in any way possible. Fish hooks are inventions of the humanoid monsters who try to prey upon fish. These evil devices have a very sharp pointed barb on the end. These can become caught in a lip, gill, or even your side if you are in the wrong place at the right time. Their primary function, however, is to tempt you to bite the "bait" they put on it and get the hook caught in your mouth. Once a hook is attached, you will be pulled out of the water by means of the line tied to the other end of the hook. And, once you are out of the water, you will certainly die.

STUDENT: Does every fish that bites a hook die?

INSTRUCTOR: No. Small, young fish are sometimes removed from the hook and released back into the water. And there are some of the humanoid monsters who always release fish back into the water. These humanoids are called "anglers" and they think catching fish on their hooks is fun.

STUDENT: Are these anglers everywhere?

INSTRUCTOR: No. Many of them stay close to the shore or in shallow water. Some of them sit in big floating pieces of wood or inflated cloth farther out in the water.

STUDENT: How do we know where the anglers are and what their hooks look like?

INSTRUCTOR: You will learn to see most of the anglers. They are big globs of color that you can see when you look up to the surface of the water. When you see these big globs of color, you should not eat anything you see nearby. You can also hear some of them, and you can see them stir up the bottom when they move around.

Their hooks are very frightening because they are carefully disguised with things that are very attractive foods. Some of the hooks are embedded in feathers, bugs, worms, and other kinds of food. It is very hard to see the hooks, so it is very important to look for anglers.

But there are some anglers you will not be able to see. These anglers cover themselves with something that makes them invisible to us when we look to the surface. Fortunately, most of the anglers don't know how to become invisible. So, always watch for anglers and don't eat anything when one of them is nearby.

We know fish see color. The eye anatomy of a fish has been repeatedly studied and ample information about how they see and discern color is abundant. Anglers go to great lengths to choose the perfect fly when they are fishing. They think about the color, the shape, the design and the way the lure moves in the water.

Many anglers, however, have not yet figured out that if a fish that can see size 20 fly floating on the surface of a lake, it can also see a bright orange glob created by a 200 pound, 6-foot tall fisherman standing nearby wearing the latest trendy fishing shirt color.

Successful anglers, on the other hand, have learned to blend in with nature and become invisible to their prey by wearing water camouflage clothing. Some even wear water camouflage that reproduces the patterns of light and shadow seen by fish as they look to the surface.

Stay tuned for Lesson #2 from a Fishy Education.

About Rex Bledsoe

Rex Bledsoe is General Manager of Aqua Design® of Melba, Idaho. Aqua Design is the world leader in manufacturing water sport camouflage apparel. Their complete line of water camouflage includes shirts, hats, pants and vests in five colors that duplicate the various fishing environments.

For more information, visit or call 208-495-2090.

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