Thursday, December 29, 2016

Interesting and Fun Alternatives to Conventional Freshwater Fishing

The reasons to go fishing are many. It is a time-honored sport that can be relaxing, fun and contribute to a healthy mind and body. A rod and reel are what most think of as the primary tools, but a few alternatives to conventional methods for catching freshwater fish, namely bow fishing, cane pole and survival fishing can also bring another level of fun and excitement. Catching a fish is challenging enough even with the most sophisticated equipment and years of experience. On the other hand, it is a sport that can be done with success by a young child under adult supervision with equipment that can cost less than $25. To the angler who is experienced and thinks they would like to try an alternative, using more primitive methods can be rewarding to connect the fisherman with traditional methods, ways that were once the only means to provide fare for the table. Additionally, the target species of fish caught by these primitive methods are nongame and non-native fish, which are a threat to native game species.

Bow Fishing is done with archery equipment but using a fiberglass arrow with a barbed point, and the arrow is connected to the bow via a mechanical reel or simple spool. Done from land or by boat, during the day or night, this is an exhilarating challenge. Image left is Gus in 1976 with Gar and bow in hand. Photo description below.

Cane Pole Fishing often referred by Florida statute as the cane-pole exemption, because cane pole fishing does not require a license. The law states, “In Florida you must be a resident who is fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines that are not equipped with a fishing line - retrieval mechanism, and you are fishing for noncommercial purposes in your home county. However, you must have a valid fishing license to fish by any method in a fish management area.”

Survival Fishing is simply cane pole fishing, but without the pole. Using natural or artificial bait, natural or synthetic string, this method will strip away most of the technology and just leave the fisherman verses the fish.  If successful, it will bring a sense of confidence to the angler that perhaps they could survive in the wilderness with minimal tools. Exciting!

Although Florida fishing laws are used as an example, other states have similar laws and/or exemptions so checking with the state game commission on a regular basis is important. Fishing regulations change so what may be legal this year may not be the next.

Since not all Florida fish can be taken by all methods, clarification is necessary. Florida freshwater fish are divided into game fish that have specific bag and length limits and may only be taken with pole-and-line or rod-and-reel, and nongame fish, which are all others.

See the chart for types of Florida Game Fish. Non-native fish are those that do not occur in Florida naturally; most should be harvested and never released. Florida Nongame Fish includes all freshwater fish that are NOT defined as game fish. A license is required to take nongame fish, but additional gear types are allowed (as mentioned above).

** See regulations for exemptions other than Cane Pole.

♦ See regulations for special region-specific restrictions.


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Freshwater Fishing Regulations, 2016-2017.

Photo description: The photo was taken by my Mom when I was 16 or 17 years old in Fort Worth, TX after a day of fishing on the Trinity River, downtown Fort Worth.  My buddies and I would go there regularly to shoot Carp and Gar. Although some were just thrown away (because they eat game fish), most were harvested and given to resident neighbors to the river who ate them.  We made a lot of friends when we gave away our catch. In the background is my first car, a 1967 Rambler American which I kept until 1982.

This article also appears as a University of Florida / IFAS, Brevard County Extension Fact Sheet Number 6175, by Gus Koerner 4-H Program Assistant.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Greeting To My Friends at B.O.S.S.

Merry Christmas to my friends at B.O.S.S.!

I just wanted to check in and wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I like to check in every year or so, and as I've mentioned in the past - in 1979 I was a student in the month long BYU Youth Leadership 480, Course D-12 under Doug Nelson. It changed my life to this day. I was inspired to attend by my Dad, Karl Koerner who attended two years earlier, and at the time was the oldest person to complete the course at age 56. Wow - I'm 57! Where have the years gone?

Some of my life long memories of the course include:
  • My 7-day solo spent in an overhang on the Escalante River. That inspired me to devote much of my adult life to study the outdoors, ecological theology, and share that with others in my career.
  • To this day I still remember scrubbing my big #10 can in the river every morning and on my way back up the mesa would collect more Brigham Tea. One day a baby Rattlesnake greeted me by my shrub, so I gave him his alone time and found another bush to harvest.
  • I remember laying by my fire, eyes fixed upon Polaris and through the night watch the Big Dipper rotate around that fixed beacon that always points north.
  • I remember starting my fire in the first 30 minutes of my solo and while blowing on the embers getting a piece of glowing ash on my arm. I have a scar to this day, and it’s a sweet reminder of my days in the desert.
  • Thanks to technology, I've deduced the location of my solo spot is N 37.774437° W -111.423868°
  • I remember my ~13 mile run in from the river basin into Boulder. I think I came in 1st or 2nd! When I got to Boulder I called my family from the payphone for a nickel!
  • I remember sharing pot holes of water with my brothers and sisters on our small group week. One of my buddies later got Giardia.
  • I recall my breath taking traverse through Devil’s Canyon, knowing Butch Cassidy and his gang might have followed the same route.
  • I’ll never forget my deep gratitude to God and for the sacrifice the sheep made of his life to feed our large group.

Does any of this ring a bell to you?  Since then I’ve had a number of friends and family attend the course upon my recommendation and it made a profound effect on their lives too. Professionally I work in Youth Development through the University of Florida 4-H Program. Here is a synopsis of the program I developed, in part by my experience with BOSS.

The Youth Ecology Series (YES!) is a unique University of Florida / IFAS / Brevard County Extension 4-H program for youth ages 10 to 16. The mission of YES! is to teach and inspire young people to learn about and conserve their natural outdoor environment with a combination of hands-on, classroom and field activities. The goal of YES! is to give young people a broad overview of our natural ecology and tangible skills to thrive and participate in nature and an appreciation for the methods of sustaining our fragile ecosystem. Side benefits of the program include having fun, meeting new people and getting to know some of our local outdoor treasure sites, organizations and related programs.

If any of you would like to participate in a consulting role to my programs I would welcome it. Feel free to share this letter, or parts of it with your staff and alumni. Give them my best and tell future participants they can do it! and are part of something very significant and that the program you deliver is having a positive effect on its students and beyond. 

Blessings to you all.