Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Voices from the Past: Skittering & Bobbing

Skittering and Bobbing

I often get asked questions on what these two Victorian (or older) methods of fishing are. Here is a concise definition ca. 1898 courtesy of Forest & Stream.


In the North this mode of fishing is sometimes used for pickerel, but is practiced little, if any, by bass fishers. In Arkansas and in Louisiana I have watched native anglers taking bass in this manner. They used cane poles with strong lines tied to the tips, and the line brought down and tied again to the butt, in case the pole broke. They worked from the shore, or from a boat, skipping a spoon or a minnow over those parts of the water which were free from weeds. It is quite hard work, and involves much entanglement among the weeds, but is quite successful. There was no chance in those shallow, weedy waters to give a fish a fighting chance for its life, and so it was "yanked" in by main strength. It did not appeal to me as a mode that promised much sport, so I didn't try it.


Many years ago, while fishing on Bistineau Lake, in Lousiana, with that excellent colored fisherman, Augustus Caesar Trulo...he asked: "Did yo' ever fish fo' trout with a bob?" I had bobbed for eels with a bunch of worms, but bobbing for black bass, his "trout," was a new proposition, and I wanted to know all about it; but beyond the fact that "it is made of a deer's tail, sah, an' is dragged behin' de boat" the information was not intelligible. He showed me one afterward, and it proved to be a great triple hook partly hidden by the hair of a deer's tail, and having several streamers of red flannel trailing behind--a home-made article which is said to be effective in the waters of that region. Dr. Henshall says it is common in Florida.

So Skittering was a method of surface fishing with a long rod in dense brush and/or heavy weeds, while Bobbing was trolling with a deerhair bucktail. Both methods have survived down to the present in slightly altered forms (Southern Bass anglers refer to Skittering as "Flippin'").

-- Dr. Todd

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