Awhile back a couple of fishing buddies engaged in a heated argument over the proper way to put a cricket on a hook.
Both are normally two laid-back, easy-going sorts. They don’t get ruffled over things like our $17 trillion national debt, some nut's threat to blow up the planet, or modern science's inability to eradicate male-pattern baldness.
But they almost came to blows over how to impale a bug on a fishhook.
Ernie insisted that the hook should be inserted behind the cricket’s neck and threaded through its body.
Al argued for a sideways approach, going under one arm – or whatever appendage crickets have -- and out the other side.
I assume that any PETA readers have fainted by now, so I’ll move on.
Anglers have always quibbled about the best way to bait a hook. Take worm fishermen, for example:
There’s the Gob Mob – fishermen who advocate sticking as many worms as possible on a hook. They say the wiggling ends attract fish and entice them to bite. It's the same theory that lures gawkers into hoochie-choochie shows at carnivals.
Practitioners of the Single Worm Method, however, claim that the dangling worm-ends get nibbled off without the fish taking the hook in its mouth. But if a single worm is threated on the hook, when a fish bites the worm it has to also bite the hook. It cuts down on worm-waste at a time when nightcrawler futures have Wall Street buzzing.
Once a worm(s) is impaled, there is a debate about the effectiveness of spitting on it before it is cast out. (Note: Tobacco chewers should automatically rule it out.)
Minnow fishermen may be the pickiest of all bait fishermen. They fall into three general categories:
1. Lip lockers
2. Back stabbers
3. Tail nailers
The lip lockers prefer to hook their minnows through the lips. It does less injury to the minnow, which means that it's in a better mood and remains active longer. The drawback is that the hook may tear through a minnow’s fragile lips after a few casts and it will swim free, although it will never again play the saxophone.
The back stabbers impale their minnows through the back, just below the spine. It’s harder to tear loose, and gives the minnow more freedom of movement. The drawback is that if the hook hits the spine the minnow is immediately deader than Jimmy Hoffa.
The tail nailers insert the hook back near the minnow’s tail. Minnows hooked thusly tend to be extremely lively, darting and swimming against the pull of the hook. The drawback is that when a fish bites a tail-hooked minnow it doesn’t always get the hook in its mouth. (See dangling worms.)
That’s about all the live bait I use around here, but there’s a wide selection elsewhere.
Once in Canada I saw a fisherman catch a walleye on a leech, but I didn’t like the looks of the fat, ugly, blood-sucker. The leech also was fairly unattractive.
I’ve heard that ice fishermen up North use live maggots for bait, and keep them from freezing by storing them in their mouth. I find that hard to swallow.
My buddy Bob Sherborne swears he once caught a stringer of big catfish using hotdogs for bait, but said they stopped biting after he ran out of mustard.
I’m not sure I’ll bite on that one.