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Column: Coarse fishing about quantity

What do northern pike minnows, peamouth chub and carp all have in common.
James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the ORL Salmon Arm branch on Saturday, Feb. 25.

What do northern pike minnows, peamouth chub and carp all have in common.

Well, for one, they are all considered coarse fish and, for another, they will all be species of special interest in less than a month’s time at the annual Salmon Arm Kid’s Fishing Derby being held Sunday, June 18 down at the end of the Salmon Arm wharf.

Angling for coarse fish is not all that complicated. If nothing else, it is a great way to get kids into fishing.

When it comes to catching fish, young anglers are more interested in quantity than quality – they’d rather catch a bunch of coarse fish than fish all day for one nice trout. They want action, and casting a line into most waters will produce some sort of coarse fish.

They may not be pretty and you may not be able to eat them, but they are easy to catch and that is probably their only virtue, as coarse fish essentially live off the eggs and fry of more desirable sport fish such as trout and salmon.

When fishing for so-called ‘sport fish,’ an angler will more often than not have to seek their quarry by moving up and down the banks of a river or stream to find holding pools, or by making their way along the edge of the shoal or drop-off of a lake. Coarse fishing, on the other hand, requires far less moving around on the part of an angler.

Instead of going after fish, you let the fish come to you. Even the kind of a rod required is different.

Rather than a fly rod, which is most commonly used for trout, or a heavy drift rod often used for salmon, most coarse fish are caught on light spinning gear spooled with four- to eight-pound test line. Personally, I prefer to use a long, thin, flexible rod, around 10-feet long, with a soft flexible tip that allows me to feel each nibble and bite.

When fishing with light line, it also only makes sense that you will be using smaller terminal tackle – the smaller the hook the better.

Basically all that’s required for terminal tackle are some small split-shot weights, a swivel or two and a few small lures such as a Dick-nite or silver Len Thompson spoon to attract pike minnows and chub, and for carp, a bait hook, some split shot and a couple of floats. Pike minnows are fairly aggressive feeders and will often strike the moment your lure or bait hits the water, while carp tend to peck at their food several times before swallowing.

When a carp shows interest you will feel a number of small rapid taps on your rod tip or notice a gentle bobbing of the float. Always wait until the fish has committed fully before setting your hook, and try not to set the hook too hard or you may end up ripping the hook out of the fish’s mouth.

Keep in mind that only a small amount of bait is required on the hook. Too much bait and you end up feeding the fish rather than catching them. Most coarse fish are fairly aggressive feeders and will strike at anything they come across.

Carp are a little more selective and tend to feed closer to the bottom, so you need to make sure your bait is suspended just above the bottom. Carp can be taken on dough ball, worms and bait such as shrimp.

The trick to catching coarse fish is getting your bait into their feeding zone or passing your lure through the zone.

If a coarse fish sees what you are offering they will typically go after it. They can be easily caught in streams, rivers and lakes throughout the province between the months of May and September.

They can be found in relatively shallow waters of little more than a foot deep; however, most often they are found in waters at least five feet deep.

Mature coarse fish can often be found hiding in weed beds and near underwater structures where they can swim out and attack their prey – which, like I said, is often pretty well anything that comes their way.

One place that I know for sure where an angler can catch coarse fish is off a dock or wharf – such as the Salmon Arm wharf come June 18 - where they hide in the shadows waiting for food to come their way.