New Age Fishing

  • What would Gramps Say?
Some fishermen prefer to go old-school when they set out on northern lakes and rivers.

By Brent Frazee

I wonder what Gramps would think.

Sixty years ago, things were pretty simple when we went fishing. He had a small aluminum boat, an old Johnson motor, an anchor, a few rods and reels, and a coffee can full of worms.

Gramps was our GPS and the anchor rope was our depth finder. Gramps had the rope knotted every two feet so he would know how deep the water was when he lowered the anchor.  He didn’t need an electronic depth-finder to tell him how deep he was fishing.

Nor did he need a $50,000 bass boat, a 250-horsepower motor, a trolling motor with almost as much power as the outboard Gramps used. Nor high-composite graphite rods that cost $200 and reels that have an even higher price tag.

Yeah, I can just see Gramps shaking his head now. He would have a hard time believing what fishing has become today.

Sometimes, I feel the same way. Today’s high-tech era has brought fishing to unbelievable heights.

The fish no longer are able to swim to depths undetected. “Spy” technology has allowed fishermen to track their prey wherever they go.

Sensitive rods allow fishermen to detect even the lightest strike. And reels with multiple ball bearings allow us to cast farther than ever before.

Meanwhile, costs soar and fishermen dole out money at unprecedented rates.

I always come back to the same question: What would Gramps think?

And I always add a question of my own: Is all this technology a good thing or a bad thing?

Please don’t think I am being judgmental. I too have been swept up in this high-tech craze.

I have outfitted my bass boat with a 100-pound thrust trolling motor (outboards are not allowed on the lake I live on), a Hummingbird Helix electronics unit with down scan, side scan, and GPS, and I have hundreds of dollars invested in my rods and reels. I have a few fishing lures that I paid $25 for (a Megabass suspending stickbait, for example), and I have more tubs of lures in my garage than some small tackle shops do.

But every once in a while, I wonder if I really need all of this modern equipment. I think back to simpler times when I seemingly caught just as many fish.

I doubt that Gramps would have been lured by some of this technology even if it were available. He prided himself in being able to figure out what the fish were doing at any given time.

“You have to think like a fish,” he used to joke with me.

And somehow, I wonder if we’ve lost some of that. Some fishermen have let machines take over, relying on electronics to do the job they once did.

Every year, there is one new big thing that captures the imagination –and the dollars – of fishermen. This year it is the LiveScope, put out by Garmin. It features scanning technology that shows moving images of the fish swimming under the boat. For example, fishermen can see how fish react when a lure bumps against flooded timber, what causes them to scatter, etc.

Crappie fishermen are especially excited about the new device, because they spend most of their time fishing vertically.

“It’s almost cheating,” one seminar speaker said this winter.

So what’s next? A machine that reels in the fish for us? Electronics that give fishermen an approximate size of the fish below? A way to will tell us when fish will bite and when they won’t?

The sky is the limit when it comes to fishing technology. But sometime I yearn for the old days, when fishing was considerably simpler – and less expensive.

I picture myself in Gramps’ boat, an orange life jacket around my head, catching fish on a simple worm and a bobber, and I think that life wasn’t so bad back in those days.