The Ottumwa Courier


May 15, 2014

Homage to the unloved fish

I would like to use this column to pay homage to the less loved fish.

Those fish that, for whatever reason, never got a seat at the cool table because of the intractable stereotypes and stubbornly persistent biases that have distorted the thinking of many a fishermen.

So a long overdue tip of the hat to the common carp, the lovable rock bass, the folksy bullhead, the misunderstood drum, the ferocious northern pike and the feisty bluegill. While praising these fish in some circles might earn you strange looks and wisecracks, their reputations have been sullied for far too long without anyone offering a positive word in their defense.

I will always have a soft spot for the rock bass, the most adorable and heartbreakingly innocent freshwater fish in the world. In my childhood days of yore, I spent a fair amount of time dock fishing in Minnesota. And, alas, sometimes my noble efforts rendered pitifully little in the way of results.

More times than I'd like to admit schools of bluegills and yellow perch made off with my nightcrawlers like opulent bandits. My bait was disappearing right in front of my eyes, yet I couldn't hook the little rascals to save my life. It was at these times that the slow moving, eternally optimistic rock bass would come through for me.

While yellow perch hit in a distrusting, half-hearted fashion and bluegill would bounce my bait around like a school of annoying, yet ferocious piranhas, the rock bass would blissfully swallow the bait and wait for me to set the hook and reel him in.

It's almost as if the rock bass was put on this earth so children too impatient and hyper to catch anything else would have something to catch. Evolution may not have been kind to the rock bass, but youngsters everywhere have benefited from its naiveté.

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