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Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas, Bob Hood Column: Getting Back to the Basics is What Fishing is About, and It’s Good Fun

September 16, 2007

By Bob Hood, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

Sep. 16–Robert Sirkis and his 6-year-old son, Jake, discovered some great fishing almost at their back door recently when Jake caught several catfish at the Chisholm Park pond in Hurst.

“I don’t generally write to reporters about articles they write but make an exception for your recent reports about fishing in the Metroplex,” Sirkis wrote in a recent e-mail. “I live in Bedford and my son Jake and I went fishing at the pond at Chisholm Park this past weekend. Jake had a blast as he caught several 15- to 18-inch catfish.

“I would have never thought there were opportunities to fish virtually next door.”

Jake’s experience brought back memories of when I was 6 and learning how to catch fish with my father at my grandfather’s small dairy pond in Comanche County. Although fishing tackle has gone through decades of improvement since then, the basics of pulling a fish out of the water with a hook and string really haven’t changed that much.

One day last week, Rick Rambo of Joshua and I went back to the basics to fish the “old-fashioned” way: with an earthworm on a small wire hook on a line with a split-shot weight and bobber. Our quarry was sunfish, the feisty, aggressive little fish that was the first catch for me and many others.

Sunfish are caught on a wide assortment of baits, ranging from crickets, worms and grasshoppers to bits of bacon, hot dogs, corn and bread to tiny lures. My favorite always has been earthworms.

Rambo and I caught several sunfish, but the action stopped suddenly, reminding me of a trick my father taught me.

“Make them think the worm they have been watching is about to get away from them,” my dad told me. “There usually is one greedy fish in the group.”

I reeled the bobber forward about a foot, and, a few seconds after I stopped, the bobber went under. I had one of the largest sunfish of the day.

For the next hour, I used the same tactic to trigger other strikes. If nothing moved my bobber after about 20 seconds, I brought it forward about a foot, stopped it, let the ripples disappear and then moved it again. I usually had a strike after the first move.

Dad later taught me to do something similar to catch finicky crappie — occasionally twitching my line with a finger to put “life” into an otherwise motionless crappie jig.

In my youth, most of the bobbers we used were cork, and plastic and balsa wood bobbers were also available.

Now, an assortment of Styrofoam bobbers is available, and I often prefer those with lead-weighted bottoms. The key is to choose a bobber that best fits the size of bait you are using and, depending on how much weight you used, will float upright at the desired depth.

I like my bobber to be just barely visible above the surface because I can detect even the slightest bite, but that’s an individual preference.

Besides being fun to catch, sunfish also are great to eat. As a youngster, I used a spoon to scrape the scales off them, then my mom fried them in a cast-iron skillet. Later, I bought a two-sided, aluminum fish scaler. An electric filet knife works great to remove boneless slabs of meat from large sunfish, but my preference — then and now — is the smaller fish fried whole.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to catch record-setting largemouth bass, big tarpons, huge redfish, speckled trout and other species, but I like going back to the basics.

For me, catching sunfish is where it all started.

I bet most of you can remember your first fish, too.

Community fishing lakes

Community fishing lakes, usually good places to take children fishing, are public impoundments 75 acres or smaller located totally within an incorporated city limits or a public park, or any impoundment lying totally within the boundaries of a state park. Many of them are stocked annually with channel catfish and/or rainbow trout. These lakes are under normal state regulations for licenses, sizes and limits, except:

For channel and blue catfish, there is no minimum length limit. The daily bag limit is five catfish in any combination.

Fishing is by pole and line only.

These community fishing lakes are in Tarrant County:

Arlington

Cravens Park

Gateway Park Lake

Karl Knox Park

Mark Holtz Lake

Randol Mill Duck Pond

Red Cane

Colleyville

Colleyville City Park

Colleyville Nature Center Pond 4

Kimzey Park

Fort Worth

Como

Echo

Fosdic Lake

French

Greenbriar Park

North Richland Hills

Glenview Park

Green Valley Community Park Pond A

Green Valley Community Park Pond B

Southlake

Bicentennial Park

Chesapeake Park

White Settlement

White Settlement

City Lagoon

White Settlement

Duck Pond

Others

Bedford Boys Ranch

Dutch Branch Park, Benbrook

Elkins Lake, Dalworthington Gardens

Chisholm Park, Hurst

Bear Creek Park, Keller

Kennedale City Park

Rose Park, Mansfield

Capp Smith Park, Watauga

Bob Hood, 817-390-7760

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Copyright (c) 2007, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

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