April 29, 2004


Hooking the Gullible: Fish researchers analyze the science of a lure (Sid Perkins, 4/24/04, Science News Online)

Just about everywhere you go in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hayward, Wis., you'll find lures. On the walls and in display cases, vast arrays of fishing lures dominate the exhibits. Many of the baits mimic a fish's natural prey, such as insects, small fish, and frogs. One lure appears to be a creature straight from the Star Wars cantina. Another looks like a Ping-Pong ball–size Pacman with froglike eyes and Andy Rooney's eyebrows. Another resembles a hockey puck with an airbrushed paint job that would look at home on a 1970s muscle car. Yet another lure has the size, shape, and maybe even the hydrodynamic characteristics of a shoehorn.

"I think you could put a hook on almost anything and catch fish," says Ted Dzialo, the hall of fame's executive director.

As it turns out, hunger is only one of the factors that drives a fish to lunge for a lure. Research into fish behavior has been revealing other cues that fish find hard to resist, clues that lure designers might use to blind a fish to the sharp truth about what really awaits it on the end of a monofilament line. As for understanding what goes on in anglers' minds when they're choosing lures . . . . Well, that's another story.

The first U.S. patent for an artificial lure was issued in 1852 to Julio T. Buel. While taking a lunch break on his boat one day, Buel accidentally dropped his spoon overboard. As the shiny utensil fluttered toward the lake bottom, the Vermont angler saw a huge fish zoom from the depths and repeatedly strike at it. Buel went home, chopped up his silverware, added a few hooks, and spawned America's fishing lure industry—or so the fish tale goes.

Lures? You should see how many surface if you toss in a stick of dynamite.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 29, 2004 9:52 AM

I've always found canned corn to do wonders too -- both as chum and on the hook. (BTW, both the dynamite and corn are illegal in many states)

Posted by: jd watson at April 29, 2004 10:59 AM

How does that work anyhow? I've never seen anyone fish with dynamite. I've often wondered why the water wouldn't just put out the fuse.

Posted by: Brandon at April 29, 2004 11:40 AM

The trick is to attach it to a dry fly.

Takes practice, though.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 29, 2004 12:20 PM

It's called a "Kentucky Fishing Pole". M-80s were known as "Kentucky Fishing Lures". Subsititute redneck/hick/hillbilly geographic location as appropriate.

(You have to use a fuse that doesn't rely on air to supply the oxidizer. Something to do with perchlorates, I'm told.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 29, 2004 12:34 PM

Altogether too much hassle. Machine guns work better.

Posted by: Peter B at April 29, 2004 12:51 PM

Roberto Farinacci could have explained explain to you the downside of fishing with dynamite, with which apparently he had great experience.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at April 29, 2004 1:35 PM


One word - thermalite.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 29, 2004 1:55 PM

This week's New Yorker, has an article an article by John Lee Anderson that has one of the best opening lines I've seen in a long time:

"The day in mid-April that the Iraqi mujahideen executed an Italian security guard who had been taken hostage near Fallujah, I went dynamite fishing on the Tigris."


Posted by: H.D. Miller at April 29, 2004 2:07 PM

Prof Miller--

"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.

'Very good, Ali,' I quavered in Spanish through the closed door of my master bedroom. 'Take him into the bar and give him a drink.'"

Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers, chapter 1, page 1

It's practically plagiarism.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at April 29, 2004 3:21 PM

Brian, that IS a good first line. So good, I've just ordered the book from Amazon.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at April 29, 2004 8:19 PM