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Date: 25 October 2013. Fish Training 101.


You have to first understand that out here I do tend to entertain myself, and one of the ways I do that is an old family tradition. On our boat each time we would throw any food over the side we would slap the hull three times. Thump. Thump. Thump.

The family home for nearly 50 years

When you remain in a place for a time the fish will learn that good things come with a thump and last night, for the first time I thumped three times and a couple of fat catfish came up to the surface to enjoy the chicken skins I tossed overboard.

There is a secondary bonus to feeding leftovers and scraps to the fish. On a boat away from a dock and without an easy way to get rid of trash, it is essential to off-load *garbage. By virtue of chumming the fish and teaching them to come to the Thump, I am also making trips to shore less onerous because I will have less to haul in and dispose of properly.

*Definition of trash versus garbage: Trash will not biodegrade, so basically that is your packaging and plastics, glass and such. Garbage if left in the sun will stink.]

This is an idea I hope other boaters will take up -- for selfish reasons mind you. Three thumps and then food scraps equals fish trained to come for treats when they hear three sounds and if I happen to have one of those scraps on a shiny sharp hook? Well, it's all good. And tasty.

Just an idea...

Happy fish training!


Addendum 19 June 2015: An online friend tells me my method of tossing foodstuffs overboard is not appropriate in areas with little tidal flow. Summarizing an article read in his local newspaper the Seattle Times, Marin recalled reading:

"The results of a long-term study here in Puget Sound showed that fish and crabs do not, for the most part, eat the garbage boaters throw overboard. Banana peels, melon rinds, etc sink to the bottom where they DO feed the algae that deplete the water of oxygen. This, in turn, depletes the population of fish, crabs, etc.

Where this plays a significant role is in bays, estuaries, fjords, etc with a relatively low water turnover. Here in Puget Sound it's a concern because the water turnover is very slow, particularly in the south sound and Hood Canal. For example, I believe the time it takes for a complete water exchange in Hood Canal (which is a long, natural inlet, not a man-made canal) is one year."

Therefore, I hereby retract my advice to always throw your scraps of food overboard. Unless you are in an area with a good flow of water bring your garbage to shore. Be careful, and please do not mess up our waters.

Thanks Marin for the head's up. I learned something today.


I know we used to train fish down island. Do folks here in the states do the same?
What is your favorite chum?

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2013, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Fishing, Unmentionables, Vignettes, Wild Things

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