Monday, May 24, 2004

Dan Gilmartin, one of my UCF connections, has a boss named Dr. Richard Crepeau, who is one of those serious baseball fanatics who actually makes sense without the use of psychotropics or shock therapy.

Dan sends this along from Dr. Crepeau:

May 18, 2004

Fishing is a sport that has never caught my
fancy, except for ice fishing
which is largely about drinking rather than
fishing. Growing up in the
state of Minnesota where fishing is akin to a
religious experience it may
seem strange that I have not joined the faithful.

In addition over the
past three decades I have been living in Florida,

the Bass Fishing capital
of the universe, where high stakes fishing is
considerably more popular
than the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here too I have
resisted the allure, or is
it the lure.

I have tried fishing, although I must admit never

fly fishing, and fishing
for me seems to be more a catatonic than a
religious experience. I have
heard people go on and on about fly fishing, I
have read Ted Williams'
comments on fly fishing, I even read the book and

saw the movie, "A River
Runs Through It." Nothing happened. I had no
visions, I was not
transported to another dimension.

Now comes news of another kind of fishing. I must

say that when I first
saw the headline in the New York Times, "How to
Catch Fish in Vermont: No
Bait, No Tackle, Just Bullets," I thought I had
come upon a piece of

Fish Shooting is legal in Vermont where the right

to bear arms has an
ominous meaning even for the fish. And it is
popular. So popular that
after fish shooting was made illegal in 1969 it
was reinstated in 1970
increasing the target species to ten in number.
It is so popular that the
courageous Howard Dean who took on the formidable

political machine of the
Bush family and assorted Democrats refused to
take a public stand on the
issue of fish shooting. It is obviously one thing

to denounce the Iraq War
and quite another to raise doubts about fish

I have heard of shooting fish in a barrel, but
must admit I had never
heard of shooting fish in a pond, river, or lake.

The law places no
restrictions on the firearms of choice for fish
shooting. Presumably no
one has taken an AK-47 to the little "wigglies of

the waterways" although
why should anything associated with this bizarre
activity be presumed by
anyone. If there was any presumption to be made
it would be that fish
shooting doesn't exist.

It does.

So pack up your side-arms, rifles, automatic
pistols, or .357 Magnum's and
head out to Vermont where men are men, the fish
are at a decided
disadvantage, and the state is a madhouse. This
is the sort of thing that
the mentally skewed just couldn't pass up. Maybe
it's something in all
that maple syrup consumed up there, or maybe it's

the winters. In fact
this sounds suspiciously like an activity that
might be hatched in a
drunken stupor in mid-January while ice fishing.

So how does it work?

There are several approaches to the revered
sport. You can simply sit on
the shore of a lake or bank of a stream and take
shots whenever you have a
visual sighting. You might go out in a small
boat, although you should be
careful to calibrate the size of the boat to the
power of the kick from
your fishing weapon of choice. Does displacement
ring a bell? For the more
ambitious you could build a fish blind thus
emulating the millions of duck
hunters across the globe.

For the aficionado however there is only one way
to approach fish
shooting. Climb a tree. Get out on the limb
overhanging the water and get
that bird's eye view of the fish. You will become

part of the landscape,
although there is a danger that your perch could
give way and suddenly the
fisherman could join the swimming prey on Golden

As in all the great sports there is an art to the

activity. Don't actually
shoot the fish. Shoot just in front of the fish,
creating a concussion
strong enough to break the fish's air bladder.
Then when the little
critter floats to the surface you retrieve the
trophy. Shooting the actual
fish makes them unsuited for the table as they
tend to shatter when shot.
Caliber of bullet may also play into this

Vermont fish and wildlife officials continue to
try to ban this sport but
luckily they have not succeeded. For many in
Vermont fish shooting is a
cherished tradition. Ban fish shooting, never!
Next thing you know people
would want to ban guns. Each generation passes
the folk knowledge and folk
wisdom surrounding fish shooting to the next. It
is a family sport, an
intergenerational sport, a Vermont tradition.

There is of course some danger in fish shooting.
Like all sporting
activities a little knowledge and a little common

sense minimizes the
danger. First, you never want to shoot at the
water over ten feet away.
This will virtually eliminate the danger of a
bullet ricocheting or
skipping and skimming over the surface of the
water. Second, you need to
remember that a human being is not a fish. Before

you fire be certain you
are not taking aim at a local swimmer. Size is a
good indicator. Third,
use caution when climbing a tree with a gun. You
never know what part of
your own anatomy might be in the line of fire.
Simple steps such as these
will continue to keep fish shooting a safe sport
and preserve it for
generations to come.

There are in fact few reports of injuries in the
sport demonstrating what
a great sport fish shooting really is, and what a

high caliber of people,
if we can use that word, are attracted to it.

One other word of caution: The next time you are
out along the shore of
Lake Champlain be wary of people in trees no
matter how docile they look.

On Sport and Society this is Dick Crepeau
reminding you that you don't
need to be a good sport to be a bad loser.

Copyright 2004 by Richard C. Crepeau