Friday, May 2, 2014


When I fished commercially we called any species that was caught unintentionally while hunting for a certain target species bycatch. I worked as a halibut longliner in the waters around Kodiak and Afognak Islands and the primary bycatch was grey cod. The cod is a nasty fish with soft white meat that turns into the a stinky paste-like substance when handled. If you have ever ordered fish-n-chips at a restaurant here in Colorado that is what you ate, sorry to break it to ya... Gutted cod went for fifty cents a pound back then so it was pretty easy and lucrative, as halibut was only going for about $2.00 a pound. The other bycatch (ling cod, eel, octopus and what-not) was just turned around and used as bait on the next mornings set. 

But that was another lifetime ago...

Now I am a born-again catch and release fly angler. I guess it is atonement for my past, not that I have any guilt. I still hit Wholefoods in Boulder on Fridays when the fresh fish is coming in. I may not be a saved man, just a hypocrite. None the less, it is funny to listen to the landlocked young blokes behind the seafood counter spout forth handed-down knowledge and strut about in their very new looking orange bibs and Xtra Tufs. I smile and say nothing as I am an asshole, but certainly not a d-bag.

Now my bycatch is whatever I did not set out to find, which is ever-changing. I do my best to mix things up as much as possible to keep things interesting. I try to let the season and the weather dictate what I do, with the hope that this will increase my odds of a good day. It is my way of "standing on a soft seventeen", but like in Blackjack this only increases the odds slightly. We gamblers and fishermen put great stock in slight odds.  Today Erin, Banjo and I went on the search for some largemouth bass, but after a few hours of driving about and checking on (casting blindly into) some of our favorite spots, we were coming up bass-less. There were some juvenile carp around that ate willingly, but that was bycatch. It is funny, when actively carping we call it getting "bass blocked" when a bass zips over and steals your carp fly. It is usually a bummer, especially if the spoiled cast was made to a good-sized carp. After awhile we decided that bass fishing was just not in the cards (maybe the water was still too cold?) and made the full mental switch to the pursuit of carp.

It doesn't take a genius to predict what happened next. Damn bass.


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