"To go fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men-for all men are equal before fish." -Herbert Hoover
It is the spring of the year and we find ourselves dusting off our fishing poles and changing the line to prepare to catch fish once again. President Hoover's words are a little spiritual and quietly revealing when it comes to the sport of fishing. Not so long ago it was not a sport, but a necessity for man to feed his family and himself. But we have grown beyond that need to feed ourselves from nature's waters. Yet the personal challenges of catching fish remains as important as it ever was when we need it to heal the soul of man. Something magical happens with a person as they stand alongside a quite stream and challenge themselves to be patient and skillful in the pursuit of a fish. Perhaps that spiritual feeling comes from a man long ago who was a fisher of men. When looking into the dark waters, we often can't see that which we are after, but you have faith they are there to be caught. Kind of like that fisherman from long ago, who had faith in man. A little faith goes a long way in both fishing and man.
For as long as man has gone fishing, most likely one fisherman has asked another, "How are they biting" Or, "What are you catching them on?" And I'll bet every fisherman at one time or another has said, "Boy, you should have been here yesterday, they were really biting." My favorite is, "You didn't hold your mouth right."
Fishing has been around since before recording of time. We know by archeologist's excavation of ancient settlements that fishing hooks were made from bone and bronze. Early fishermen helped to feed their families and villages as a matter of necessity from the abundant supply of fish in streams. The information on how to catch fish and what they were biting on was passed from one fisherman to another. This sharing of information made sure the village had the knowledge to gather fish from the nearby streams and rivers season after season.
Today, fishing is mostly a recreational sport. Catching fish as a way to feed our families has pretty much faded through the years. It has been over 20 years since the Ohio River was commercially fished. Two men from New Martinsville were the last to be licensed as commercial fisherman. Most of what they caught was sold to fish markets and to those who stocked ponds, both private and public. John "Catfish" Harman and Robin Clegg worked with the state DNR to catch fish for commercial use. Eventually the state decided for several reasons to stop commercial fishing in the Ohio River along the West Virginia shores. Other states along the Ohio still allow commercial fishing.
Fishing is an important part of our culture and the one thing that has not changed since the first fisherman is the importance of exchanging information with other fisherman, "Are you catching any and what are they biting on?" Two basic questions still asked today.
Now, I realize that many fishermen are often reluctant to pass information on to other fisherman in the competitive world of fishing. The secret of color and type of lure is often a closely kept secret. A fisherman who finds a honey hole with large fish that are biting is not likely to even tell his wife, even at the risk of his marriage. Brad Paisley may have said it best. "Today she met me at the door, said I would have to choose, if I picked that fishing pole today, she'd be packing all her things and she'd be gone by noon....well I'm gonna miss her when I get home tonight. Right now I'm on this lake shore, and I'm sitting in the sun! I'm sure it'll hit me when I walk thru that door tonight. Yeah, I'm gonna miss her. Oh lookie there, I gotta bite!"
Some years back, a young man decided he could come up with a way to pass on information about fishing. Perhaps he could answer those questions for himself and others. Perhaps he could even post it on the internet for others to use. At the time Zach Pittman first started, WVAngler.com he was a freshman at Fairmont College. His interest in fishing and a way to share information led him to establish a place for fisherman to record their catch and to tell other fisherman what they were being caught on. He realized that a web-page was the best way to share information with others.
WVAngler.com web page is a place where fisherman can go to find the hatch of insects on different rivers and streams. Those who are interested can find information on the many different species of insect and when they can be expected to hatch. Trout fishermen find this insight invaluable when deciding which stream to fish and which fly to try on the waters. You have a new Brown Stonefly lure that you tied last winter and you want to try it. The hatch chart will give you an idea when Stonefly's begin to emerge from under rocks. It tells of midsummer hatch in local streams. You're going to have to wait a few months to give it a try.
The site also offers a place to view pictures of trophy catches of musky and bass. But the main fish that is at home on these web pages is the prized trout. Tips for fly tying, fisherman blogs, rod building, finding fishing guides and outfitters can all be found on this site. It is well laid out and information is easy to find. The pictures are beautiful and well done. Whether you are a fisherman or not, visiting this site is well worth your time.
Zach is the owner and founder of the web site. He is helped by Jonathan Paine of Elkins, who is the web site administrator and Web-Master. These two men along with a group of avid fisherman called moderators help to keep this sight current with accurate information and helpful tips.
"Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers." -Herbert Hoover. One other thing the site offers is a list of fishing quotes that I have used in my story today. Here is one of mine that I will leave you with. "We each see life though different eyes as its waters flow before us, sometimes gentle in its passing and sometimes turbulent like the riffle in the stream. Perhaps we each can be happy as the fish that has been caught and then released to be free on his way in the waters of life. Neither the gentle stream nor our lives shall go on forever, except in a place where fish are always biting as we look Through the Lens.