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Old 12-14-2011, 01:05 AM   #1
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A new way of fishing (for me)

For years I have bottom fished for halibut and ling cod, trolled for salmon, and fly fished for steelhead.* While living in Hawaii I regularly fished for mahi mahi, ahi (yellowfin tuna), aku (albacore), marlin, and ono (wahoo).* But a few days ago I got to experience first hand a fishing method I had read about as a little kid but never thought I would get to actually try in my lifetime.

My cameraman and I got to go fishing on the Li River in China using cormorants.* The fellow pictured in the the photos below showed us how to do it and then we got to try it ourselves.* Underwater the bird catches the fish sideways in its beak and then comes to the surface to reposition it for swallowing whole.* The fishermen use ivory rings or string loops slid down over the bird's neck prior to putting it in the water so it can catch but not swallow a fish.* In the first photo the bird in front of the fisherman has caught a fish but the string loop constricts its neck just enough so he cannot swallow the fish.* You can see the fish tail sticking out of its mouth.*

Working with the cormorants was really cool.* They are suprisingly light for such a large bird.* They have no oil on or in their feathers which is why they are such amazing swimmers.* However, with no oil they get waterlogged so periodically they have to sit with their wings outstretched to dry out before they can dive again.* Otherwise they will eventually lose their floatation and drown.* The bird on the bow of the boat in the first shot is doing this--- it's not a shot that captured it while it was flapping its wings.* Around here they will sit like this for long periods of time on buoys, floating logs, rocks, and even power lines drying their wings.

So far as I know cormorant fishing is mostly done as a hobby these days although some fishermen may still use the practice commercially in China or Japan. The fellow we fished with is a hobbiest and our fishing trip was arranged by one of our drivers who happens to know him.* The fellow holding the cormorant is my cameraman, shots 4, 5, and 6 are of the Li River that we fished on.

Cormorants are very common in PNW waters but after this experience I'll have a whole different perception of them.

The boats used on the Li River are traditionally made of bamboo and you still see a lot of these today in the smaller boat sizes.* However these days the bigger ones are made using PVC pipe that's bent up to form the bow and stern.* While the boats we fished from were poled by hand to eliminate any risk to the birds from propellers, the boats used on the river for transportation are powered by the ultimate in "long shaft" outboards.* I have attached a photo of one of these so you can see what they're like. The motor and drive pivot and tilt on a fitting under the motor.* The river level fluctuates greatly thoughout the year but* these boats can be powered quite fast through water that is only inches deep.

*


-- Edited by Marin on Wednesday 14th of December 2011 02:35:40 AM
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:27 AM   #2
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Pretty cool!* Sounds like a great trip to.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:48 AM   #3
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

WOW! Talk about gorgeous scenery! How cool and big thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:05 AM   #4
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Very interesting and beautiful pictures. Thanks for those. I've seen Cormorants all my life and never knew they where used for fishing!
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:10 AM   #5
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

How do they tame them?

I assume they steal them from the nest when young.

Or is there more to it?

SD

*
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:12 AM   #6
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

I've always wondered why/how the birds put up with having their catch robbed.

Most birds are a lot lighter than they look.

Gotta go now.* It's my morning for working with birds at Lindsay Wildlife Museum.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:25 AM   #7
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
markpierce wrote:
I've always wondered why/how the birds put up with having their catch robbed.

Most birds are a lot lighter than they look.

Gotta go now.* It's my morning for working with birds at Lindsay Wildlife Museum.
*Mark, do you think you can train some of your coots to do this?
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:37 AM   #8
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Glad you're back Marin.......are you?

See how the stern is turned up for good disp hull form in the last pic? That's basically what I've wanted to do to a NT, GB or other basic trawler.

About the birds .....that would be a very big pet bird. *
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:42 AM   #9
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Although I see no evidence of it in Marin's photos, I have seen other photos of these birds fishing with a string (light line) tied around their necks to keep them from swallowing their catch as well as retrieving a wondering bird.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:51 AM   #10
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

It is not a new way of fishing, but the best method that I have found for fishing involves sitting at a table and reviewing the menu. Will it be Gouper or Mahi Mahi tonight?
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:10 AM   #11
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
yachtbrokerguy wrote:
It is not a new way of fishing, but the best method that I have found for fishing involves sitting at a table and reviewing the menu. Will it be Gouper or Mahi Mahi tonight?
Exactly, even if the price is $30.* You always get one, it is cleaned, cooked and at most good places tastes good.* Far cheaper than trying to catch them.*
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:13 AM   #12
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Very cool, Marin. Imagine the bruhaha if we tried that here with our cormorants. Great shots...Thanks for posting!!
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:27 AM   #13
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
skipperdude wrote:
How do they tame them?

*
I have no idea.* However the fellow we fished with said that one develops a relationship with one's birds that "....can be better than the relationship with your wife."

Walt-- If you look closely at the first of my photos you will see that there is a loop of line around the base of the neck of the cormorant in front of the fisherman.* This one had caught the fish which the fisherman is removing in the second photo.* He took the line off the bird as soon as he started to remove the fish.* The birds also have a short length of line tied to one of their legs that the fisherman can use to pull a bird to him in the water.* However the way they are retrieved is by extending the long bamboo pole out to the bird when it surfaces with a fish at which point the bird steps onto the pole and is swung back to the boat (photo below).
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:29 AM   #14
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Remember this from when you were a kid?
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:47 AM   #15
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A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
nomadwilly wrote:
*

See how the stern is turned up for good disp hull form in the last pic? That's basically what I've wanted to do to a NT, GB or other basic trawler.

*
Don't read too much into the design of the rafts, Eric.* The ends are turned up to help prevent water from slopping up onto the platform when going forward or backwards and to make it easier to slide the boats up onto the shore either bow first or stern first.* I don't think anypone had any sort of hull efficiency idea in mind when they designed the things some 2000 years ago :-)





-- Edited by Marin on Wednesday 14th of December 2011 01:27:54 PM
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:20 PM   #16
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
JD wrote:yachtbrokerguy wrote:
It is not a new way of fishing, but the best method that I have found for fishing involves sitting at a table and reviewing the menu. Will it be Gouper or Mahi Mahi tonight?
Exactly, even if the price is $30.* You always get one, it is cleaned, cooked and at most good places tastes good.* Far cheaper than trying to catch them.*

This is all very true from a boring, objective viewpoint :-)* A few years ago in the middle of a heavy snow, high wind storm with prolonged power outages in the Puget Sound area we drove up to Bellingham and bought a generator (Seattle was sold out of them) because the cost of a generator was far less than the value in terms of the cost to obain it of the halibut and ling cod stored in our freezer.*

But included in the cost of actually fishing for fish is the experience, be it from being out on the water in a fantastic environment or the excitement of bringing the fish in or the wonder of using nature to catch nature as the cormorant fishermen do.

In my book, a firsthand experience is worth every penny paid for it.* You only go around once and in my opinion fishing by ordering what you want at a restaurant is like looking at pictures or a TV show about the Inside Passage as opposed to taking a boat or plane up it in person.

On the other hand, the more people fish by ordering in a restaurant or experience life by watching it on a screen the better, because it means there will be that many less people out cluttering up the landscape which means the experience of actually being in the landscape is that much more enjoyable. :-)
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:42 PM   #17
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
Marin wrote:
Exactly, even if the price is $30.* You always get one, it is cleaned, cooked and at most good places tastes good.* Far cheaper than trying to catch them.*
Quote:
I don't even want to think about how much my home grown tomatoes and peppers really cost!* Way, way more than at the roadside stand.
*
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:43 PM   #18
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Yep.**If i was to calculate the cost of halibut I would be paying around $50.00 a pound.

Worth every penny in my mind.

SD
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:52 PM   #19
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

Quote:
Marin wrote:In my book, a firsthand experience is worth every penny paid for it.* You only go around once and in my opinion fishing by ordering what you want at a restaurant is like looking at pictures or a TV show about the Inside Passage as opposed to taking a boat or plane up it in person.
*I don't disagree.* But doing it once is different from doing it regularly.* Seeing the Inside*Passage from a boat or your own plane is great I'm sure. But even that would get old about the fourth or fifth time.*That said I have fished.* So did that have the Tee shirt and on to other things.* Which leaves time for new things.

To each his own.* None the less a great presentation and I'm sure experience.

Thanks.
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:06 PM   #20
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RE: A new way of fishing (for me)

It doesn't take long for birds to adjust to humans.* The photos of my daughter and a closeup of double-crested cormorants below are from a tourist trap near Miami (the Anhinga Trail).
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