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collecting technique (fwd)

J. L. Wiegert
 Dubotchugh yIpummoH.                      bI'IQchugh Yivang!
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 11:23:55 EDT
From: Ellasoma at aol_com
To: nfc at actwin_com
Subject: collecting technique

Killer Kick Nets
Konrad Schmidt - St. Paul, MN
Kick nets, dip nets, or riffle nets are identical to an angler's landing net
in construction and design except they have a much finer mesh (See
Illustration and Photo). In streams, they are extremely effective on darters
and other riffle species when the hoop is held stationary and flat on the
bottom while rocks are "kicked" on the upstream side of the net. Undercut
banks and submerged logs can be handled in a similar manner. In pools, schools
of fish can be herded by walking upstream with the net extended out to one
side. As the school congregates at the upper end of the pool, the net is
positioned immediately downstream in the deepest water available. A circling
charge is made to out flank and come back at the school from the rear. Most of
the fish funnel down through the deeper water and into the net. Polarizing
glasses provide a tremendous advantage in tracking the school. Kick netting at
night usually produces much greater catches and often larger fish. Five to ten
pound carp, redhorse, and catfish occasionally hurl themselves into the net at
full speed giving the kicker's shoulder a surprisingly powerful yank which is
followed by a thoroughly drenching shower as the trophy is hoisted from the
water. The spines of madtoms are another little hazard kickers should be wary
of. Probing recklessly through the catch can end in a searing sting which the
violent shaking of a finger and continuous string of obscenities provides
absolutely no relief. In lakes, a completely different approach is used. The
net is plunged like a pool cue at a slight angle under a nearby school and
then scooped up to the surface. Howev er, the scooping stroke's effectiveness
is quickly lost in depths over two feet. Some nets have telescoping handles
which can greatly extend the collector's reach to an unsuspecting school. The
"plunge and scoop" method also works very well along stream banks where
grasses and shrubs lean over into the water or around floating mats of aquatic
plants. One important tip to remember. These types of habitats conceal fish
extremely well and your quarry almost always must be pursued blindly.

Finding a kick net with a fine mesh can be a problem. Fortunately,landing nets
can be easily modified by replacing the sock with one-eighth inch or smaller
mesh. This does require a quick orientation to a Singer or old standby needle
and thread, but honestly, anyone can do a respectable job. Fabric material can
be ordered from Nylon Net or Memphis Net and Twine in Tennessee. Suitable
substitutes (e.g.; mosquito netting) can be found at camping or army surplus
stores. Socks which a deep and loose give fleeing fish a false sense of
security and also makes it difficult for them to find the way out. Socks which
are too shallow and tight lose most fish as they slam into the bottom of the
net and immediately "ricochet" out. Ideally, the kicker should be able to
comfortably reach the bottom of the net and sort the catch while standing
(approximately 26-30 inches deep). If the sock is too deep the net will have
to be laid out on shore after every kick.

The Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis uses a slight variation
called the Erickson Net which was designed by Jim Erickson who studied the
banded darter in Minnesota. The hoop is rectangular with a frame made of rebar
and a sock three to six feet deep. This much heavier net does work very well
when held stationary in riffles, but peaks in performance when slung over the
back and dragged through riffles. It really catches the fish and is
exceptionally selective for darters. Any direction through a riffle works -
upstream, downstream, or even across. Tall people can hold it in one hand
about mid-handle and brace the butt against a shoulder blade. The net's only
drawback is rapidly fatiguing the operator because of the great weight and
resistance especially in swift currents.

Regulations vary from state to state. Minnesota permits a hoop net up to four
feet in diameter, but can't be used for a short period in the spring when the
walleyes are running. Texas recently banned dip nets state-wide. Where this
occurs, a potential option may be a special use or scientific collector's
permit. It's definitely worth looking into.