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NFC: Cast Nets

Well, Bill, you inspired me to write a little about my past adventures
with cast netting, and the like.  Here's my comedy. :)

I've been using cast nets on and off for about 8 years, and have gotten
fairly good at it.  I can get the net at-least half-open every time, and
10-20%% of the time, I'm lucky enough to see a bit more than that. 
Typically, I don't catch anything but twigs, rocks, and gunk, but I can
often bring back a few minnow-like fishes.  

Last year, we had a brief instruction at school on fish-collecting
methods for surveys.  Was a great experience, as I had little
familiarity with some of the methods used to catch larger fish.  Setting
100' long trap nets is a fun experience, fi you haven't done it.  

We went over all the nets, and set-out to demonstrate.  It wasn't long
before the cast-net came out.  Everyoen had to have a try at it.  Couple
of people managed to get it to almost-half-open.  Only one person got a
fish.  Then it was my turn.  Now, naturally, no one thought I'd hit the
water, let alone get the net to open.  Naturally enough, realising this,
I took bets.  Whoooop-- net goes up.  Net hits tree.  Net doesn't come
down.  "Okay, okay, double or nothing... assuming we get it down."

We managed to get it down... and -- WHOOOP, net rushes out of the water,
lands perfectly, and sinks down.  Draw it in, a few sticks and gunk, and
about forty Common Shinner.  Collected 50$ that day. :)  

On to the trap nets. . . . 
I doubt many of you have seen these... So, here's a description..
They're made of large mesh, maybe 2" square.   There's a mesh box,
similar in shape and design to a minnow trap.  There are three "wings"
attached to a good one.  Two go out to form a V, and a third runs along
the middle.  The V area helps guide a fish inward, and the straight
peice helps bring it in.  Obviously, such a large trap needs to be
anchored at the ends of these wings, and at  the box.  The box also has
to have a buoy attached and float.  The float keeps the trap open. 
Unfortunately, the floats typically don't work very well, and a large
stick ahs to be put in to it to hold the trap open properly.  Obviously,
the trap has to be in the water and partially opened to manage to wedge
this stick in.  

So, the steps in deploying it are:  Lower the box in, bring out the
wings, in the order they've been folded onto it (remember, the wings are
100' long!), anchor the wings, anchor the trap, put the floats on it,
put the stick in, and attach the buoy.  And, during all this, hope
you've got the dang thing floating right-side up, without twists, etc.

Now.... all of this must be done by canoe.  After all, 100' out of shore
is deeeep water. :)  The box, typically, winds up not too far from
shore.  It has to be completely submerged, of course.  

So... we break up into teams of six .. and naturally enough... we're not
divisible by six.  We're one person short, and that person's me.  Yea,
yea, yea,  had to mention that I kayak...  So.. the five of us manage to
get this thing MOSTLY into the water.  We then realise that even though
the wings are right-side up, the box is upside down.  Its mid-may, in
the Adirondacks.  There's snow on the ground, etc.  So, being the
logical sort we are... One person from each boat strips to their
underwear and jumps in.  I don't know how this could have possibly
happened, but it is naturaly the two girls in our group who have to do
this. :)  Lucky me was in a boat by himself.  :)  They turn it over, and
my wing gets pulled really hard, while I'm holding it -- it had multiple
twists in it.  The canoe starts to tip, I lose the wing, and my paddle. 
Worse yet, the wind picks up, and I have no paddle.  My canoe blows
across teh lake, finally into view of the other people, who are
wondering, "What happened to ...."  My hands are in the water,
flailing.  Someone on shore tosses me another paddle, and I paddle back
out there, passing a funny Y shaped stick.  


They lost the stick that goes in the middle.   The two girls are now on
shore, huddled up and freezing (still in their underwear, rather than
dressed....  The other two guys are still holding onto wings.  I'll
never figure that one out.  

So, I paddle back out, and get the stick.  Now, there box is colapsed in
the water, and I have to tie my canoe to an anchor lead and jump in. 
When I jump in, I find something squishy under my foot, and realise I've
landed on a fish.   Yeck.   I hook the stick in, and notice something,
which most of you have probably already figured out. 

If the box was upside down originally, wouldn't the left wing now be on
the right side and REALLY twisted?  

So... now we have the task of slipping the side wings under the middle
one, and fixing the thing.  At this point, the guys who were laughing at
us on the other side of the lake have come over to laugh at us in
person.  Somehow, we recruit three of them to help us... at the price of
50$.... and get the damned thing finally straightend out.

A few days later, we come back to check the trap.
After all that... there's only one badly squished fish in the net. :)

Joshua L. Wiegert
NFC Lists Administrator                          JLW at pi_dune.net
www.geocities.com/RainForest/Jungle/1680/        owner-nfc at actwin_com
ICQ 69553561                                     AIM UID: Etheosoma
Feel free to contact me by any of the above means for any reason.
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