Newsflash: Fish feeling fretful about upcoming Kids' Fishing Tournament
KATE MAAS Bass, bream, mullet and other fish in Smythe Park Lake recently received an urgent tail-a-gram from a secret underwater source warning them about the annual Kids Fishing Tournament at Smythe Lake on Saturday, June 17, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. This year, it seems, the advantage may go to the anglers if the fish aren’t careful. A letter from the secret source, who goes by the name “Deepfin,” advised great caution:
Dear fish, We’ve had it pretty good in this man-made lake. No one to bother us except some dumb birds and a few serious situations where some of us got reeled in. But on the whole, it’s a quiet life here.
But, recently, word out on the water is that trouble is coming. Young anglers, ages 4-15, are a lot more savvy this year about how to reel us in at the Fishing Tournament on June 17 held right here at our lake! That doggone fishing expert, Captain Greg Peralta, is giving kids tips on how to find us in our special shade-filled grassy hangouts in the lake. And he’s telling them about our weaknesses, too - like the shiny metal lures that glint in the sunlight and even vibrate - music to our “ears”!
Why can’t the guy just stay out in the ocean!?
So, heads-up! I mean down! Whatever! Just be super careful between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on June 17. Remember, don’t trust anything - especially if it looks interesting!
Your friend and secret informant,
Secret Agent “Deepfin”
Deepfin’s got it right. Captain Greg Peralta, Daniel Island’s own master angler (and fishing columnist for this paper), was spotted a few weeks ago at the Daniel Island Library, schooling (pardon the pun) an audience of more than three dozen participants - avid young fisherman, their dads and those interested in learning more about fresh and saltwater fishing. Peralta explained that the focus was on “special techniques that master anglers use to get you out of the madding crowd.”
Ideal spots to catch fish on the lake:
Peralta instructs his audience that successful anglers look for the same characteristics that fish seek out in fresh water lakes, ponds and rivers. Watch for these characteristics and, with patience, anglers are sure to catch a fish!
Structure - Just like people, small fish, such as minnows, enjoy hanging out near structures that offer some sense of protection, like large rocks or the culverts (large pipes) that jut out in Smythe Lake. Also, any big rocks or tree limbs in the water count as protective structure, as well as areas where the bank points into the lake. An additional benefit of culverts: Water that flows from the culverts creates protective “pockets” in the lake grasses that attract minnows - and the big fish that eat them!
Depth Transition - Look for irregularities at the bottom, any abrupt shift in the deepness of the water. Grass is usually a big indicator of a depth transition. Depth transition offers shade and forage for minnows ...and a buffet line for bass and bream!
Shade - The sun’s rays aren’t good for us - and they’re not good for fish either. The shadier the spot, the more likely you and the fish are going to meet up. (Hint: don’t waste precious fishing time at the wall along the southwest side of the lake. Isn’t the wall a structure, you might ask? Yes, but since it’s flat rather than irregular, it offers little sense of protective camouflage for the fish).
Recommended equipment for younger or beginner anglers
Rod: Peralta suggests that younger or first time anglers use a light weight rod to better enjoy the experience and really feel the catch.
Lure: Floating lures are easier to cast and bob in the water when fish start to nibble as well. Also, the vibrations of metal rattles that glint in the underwater light often work well as bait since fish are enticed by any movement they see or sense as potential food.
Hooks: Light wire hooks are a good choice for beginners.
Casting the line: An easy, overhead cast usually works best for beginners.
Suggested equipment for more experienced anglers
Rod: For lure fishing, purchase the best affordable rod. Peralta recommends 7’ fast action, light or medium rods (he uses light and medium 7’ St. Croix Legend Elite Rods).
Lure: 1/16 oz. Brook Hunter. Peralta suggests letting the lure sink (one foot per second). Suspended below the surface of the water, the fish can’t miss it as the lure will be right in its face! General guideline is to use a lure that works the whole water column.
Hooks: Variable depending on size of fish, but most big mouth bass can grab any size hook.
Casting the line: Experienced anglers can use side casting as well as overhead casting methods. However, during the tournament, watch for other anglers nearby.
Additional equipment- Beginners and Experienced Anglers:
Sunglasses with polarized lenses will help anglers spot culverts and other irregularities in the lake where fish are more likely to go.
Peralta’s long-time neighbor and fishing buddy, Luke Bishop, a sixth grader at the Daniel Island School, demonstrates that, when anglers make sure to look for characteristics attractive to fish, they most likely will catch one! Luke’s been fishing with Captain Peralta for many years, and knows the Captain’s advice is gold when it comes to the sport of fishing. After reeling in (and releasing) several bass in the course of an hour at Smythe Park Lake one recent Friday afternoon, Luke responds to a question about why he enjoys fishing: “I can’t imagine NOT fishing,” he insists. “I fish at this lake and other ponds on Daniel Island almost every day after school…Fishing is an exciting, challenging sport. It’s also very relaxing.”
Peralta agrees with his protégé’s assessment, adding: “Fishing is definitely not about the fish. It’s about having a truly enjoyable experience that, ideally, you are sharing with someone, like a good friend or family member. Some of my favorite memories are about the wonderful times I’ve had fishing with my son. Time gets suspended for a while. You find yourself slowing down, being in the moment - and really paying attention to the person you’re with. Of all the fishing advice I have to give, I’d say the most important is ‘enjoy the experience!’”