I love a good fish story. Even if the fish tend to grow a few inches over time or the drama increases with each retelling, it’s always fun to hear about other anglers’ memorable adventures.
Because fish stories typically are passed along by word of mouth, there is a lot of room for lines to blur and details to become fuzzy. And as the years go by, some stories lose all or part of the truth behind them.
Thus, fishing myths and legends are born. When I talk to readers, students in my fishing classes, friends and other anglers, I’m always surprised by the amount of misinformation that gets around. So it’s time to end the speculation once and for all with some fishing myth busters.
- It is illegal to fish at night. I’m not sure how it started, but there is a real perception among anglers — especially less-experienced folks — that fishing after dark is a no-no. There is no such rule in Idaho, though there are a few exceptions. Many public parks close at dusk, so ponds there would be off-limits. Salmon and steelhead fishing is limited to daylight hours. Other than that, night fishing is perfectly above-board, and it can be a lot of fun! Sturgeon, catfish, trout and bass all bite at night, especially under a large moon. Because of the limited visibility, I recommend fishing with stationary bait lines to limit tangles and snags in the darkness.
- It is illegal to use corn as bait. I hear this one all the time, but nothing in the Idaho regulations forbids the use of corn (except for waters where all bait is illegal). Some states ban or frown upon the use of corn because it is easy to chum the water with (chumming is illegal in Idaho, and pretty much everywhere) and because some fish have trouble digesting it. But corn is an effective bait for trout, kokanee salmon, carp and tilapia, so as long as you don’t dump an entire can in the river, you won’t be breaking the rules or causing too much heartburn for our finned friends.
- Catfish will sting you with their poisonous whiskers. This one is at least half-true. Most catfish do have poisonous spines on their body, but the whiskers, while creepy-looking, are just harmless, fleshy appendages. The real trouble is located on three fins — the dorsal fin on the back and the two pectoral (“arm”) fins. Avoid touching the three spines by holding a catfish firmly by the mouth with one hand and placing the other under its belly. Channel catfish are the most common offenders, and smaller fish tend to do the most damage because they are tougher to handle and have sharper spines. If you do get stung, there’s an old saying that rubbing the wound on the catfish’s slimy skin will help ease the pain. I can’t say I’ve tried it myself, but the next time I get stung, I’ll put that myth to the test, too.
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Have another fishing rumor you’d like confirmed or debunked? Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and they might appear in a future Fish Rap column. Tight lines!
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at email@example.com.