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Gone Fish'n.....with a gun?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Rembrandt, May 12, 2004.

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  1. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    Found this in the New York Times.....never knew there was such a thing....

    ....as a firearm instructor we never condoned shooting into the water, ricochet can be similar to skipping a stone. Guess this is legal in Vermont....enjoy


    NATIONAL | May 11, 2004
    How to Catch Fish in Vermont: No Bait, No Tackle, Just Bullets

    Karen Pike for The New York Times
    Fish shooting is a springtime tradition for some Vermonters, despite periodic efforts to ban it. Paul Travis points his shotgun toward a fish.

    T. ALBANS BAY, Vt. — The hunter's prey darted into the shadows, just out of reach of Henry Demar's gun.

    "Come on, stand up and be counted," Mr. Demar whispered excitedly. "There was a ripple that came out of the weeds. There's something out there."

    Dressed in camouflage, gripping his .357 Magnum, Mr. Demar was primed to shoot. But this time, no such luck. With a flick of its tail, his quarry — a slick silvery fish — was gone.

    Fish shooting is a sport in Vermont, and every spring, hunters break out their artillery — high-caliber pistols, shotguns, even AK-47's — and head to the marshes to exercise their right to bear arms against fish.

    It is a controversial pastime, and Vermont's fish and wildlife regulators have repeatedly tried to ban it. They call it unsportsmanlike and dangerous, warning that a bullet striking water can ricochet across the water like a skipping stone.

    But fish shooting has survived, a cherished tradition for some Vermont families and a novelty to some teenagers and twenty-somethings. Fixated fish hunters climb into trees overhanging the water (some even build "fish blinds" to sit in), sail in small skiffs or perch on the banks of marshes that lace Lake Champlain, on Vermont's northwest border.

    "They call us crazy, I guess, to go sit in a tree and wait for fish to come out," said Dean Paquette, 66, as he struggled to describe the fish-shooting rush. "It's something that once you've done it . . ."

    Mr. Paquette, a retired locomotive engineer, has passed fish shooting on to his children and grandchildren, including his daughter, Nicki, a nurse.

    "You have to be a good shot," said Ms. Paquette, 31, who started shooting at age 6. "It's a challenge. I think that's why people do it."

    Her 87-year-old great-uncle, Earl Picard, is so enthusiastic that, against the better judgment of his relatives, he frequently drives 75 miles from his home in Newport to Lake Champlain. Mr. Picard still climbs trees, although "most of the trees that I used to climb in are gone," he said. "You can sit up there in the sun and the birds will come and perch on your hat and look you in the eye."

    There is art, or at least science, to shooting fish, aficionados say, and it has nothing to do with a barrel. Most fish hunters do not want to shoot the actual fish, because then "you can't really eat them," Ms. Paquette said. "They just kind of shatter."

    Instead, said Mr. Demar, "you try to shoot just in front of the fish's nose or head." The bullet torpedoes to the bottom and creates "enough concussion that it breaks the fish's air bladder and it floats to the surface."

    Often the target is a female fish come to spawn in shallow water, accompanied by several male acolytes who might also be killed, or stunned, by the concussion.

    "If you shoot a high-powered rifle, you can get a big mare and six or seven little bucks," Mr. Paquette said.

    Permitted from March 25 to May 25, only on Lake Champlain, fish shooting has probably existed for a century. It also used to be legal in New York, which borders the huge apostrophe-shaped lake.

    Virginia used to have several fish-shooting areas, said Alan Weaver, a fish biologist with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Now, Mr. Weaver said, the only place is the Clinch River in remote Scott County, where, six weeks a year, people can shoot bottom-feeders like "quill-back suckers and red-horse suckers." Virginia is the only other state where fish shooting is still legal, Vermont officials said.

    In 1969, fish and wildlife officials in New York and Vermont banned fish shooting. But Vermonters were loath to sever the primal link between fish and firearm, so in 1970, the Legislature not only reinstated the sport, it also added fish like carp and shad to the target list, bringing the number to 10.

    Since then, there have been several efforts to halt fish shooting. But they have been stopped by noisy objections from a small but dedicated bunch.

    Advocates crossed the state in a near-blizzard to one public hearing in the late 1980's, recalled John Hall, a spokesman for Vermont's Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 1994, fish-shooters "outnumbered the people who spoke against it by about four to one," said Brian Chipman, a state fisheries biologist.

    State officials say shooters' claims that theirs is a fading tradition that will die out on its own have not proved true.

    "We even think that some of the publicizing of this issue through efforts to pass laws against it has brought it more into the forefront," Mr. Chipman said.

    The issue is apparently touchy enough that Howard Dean, governor from 1991 to 2003, "has no interest in going on the record on that subject," said Walker Waugh, a spokesman.

    Hunters like Mr. Demar, 45, joined recently by his half brother, Calvin Rushford, 56, and Calvin's 9-year-old grandson, Cody, say they make sure that their bullets hit the water no more than 10 feet from where they stand. That way, said Mr. Rushford, who like Mr. Demar is a disabled former construction worker, "you'll have no problem because the bullet won't ricochet."

    Indeed, state officials say they know of no gunshot injuries from the sport. Bob Sampson, who allows occasional fish shooting on his marsh, remembers only one.

    "I think he got shot in the stomach area," Mr. Sampson said of a shooting that he believes took place about 40 years ago.

    Most hunters say the worst they have seen is people falling out of trees into frigid water. Mr. Demar said his brother Peter once "shot, lost control and did a nose dive." "He was purple when he come up out of the water," Mr. Demar said.

    But Gordon Marcelle, a Vermont game warden who shot fish as a teenager, said every hunter safety course taught that shooting at water was "one of the cardinal sins."

    State officials also say that fish shooting disturbs nesting birds and that killing spawning females could endanger the northern pike population (although so far there is no evidence it has).

    Worst of all, state officials say, many shooters do not retrieve all the fish they kill. They leave behind fish they cannot find or do not want to wade after and fish that exceed the state's five-pike-a-day limit or fall under the 20-inch minimum length for northern pike. Mr. Marcelle recently found 18 dead fish left to rot.

    Two dead fish recently greeted Mr. Demar and his companions at the marsh, a species he called mudfish. There were some frolicking muskrats, chickadees in the ash and willow trees plus shell casings from an 8-millimeter Mauser. ("Oh, that's made for blowing them out of the water," Mr. Rushford said.)

    There were not, however, enough live fish to shoot. So Mr. Demar tested his gun on a log in the water, and spray shot up.

    "I got a little water on my sunglasses," he said sheepishly. "That's the thing about pickerel shooting. Afterward, you have to turn away, or you get sprayed in the face."
    Last edited: May 12, 2004
  2. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 29, 2002
    This can't be for real.:uhoh:
  3. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    east Texas
    Bowfishing is very popular in Michigan. Not quite the ricochet effect there as with a firearm I'd think.

    I have to admit firearm fishing sounds intriguing. It seems that you could prevent the 'skipping' effect as long as you fired into the water at a severe angle, but that's just my hypothesis.
  4. nemesis

    nemesis Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Texas, On The Border
    The late Edward Abbey often carried a Model 29 in .44 magnum while he wandered in the desert. It was frequently used to gather food and firing a round into a desert spring would kill fish by concussion. They would float to the surface where he could grab them for the cook fire. He said it was a lot more efficient than the conventional methods of catching fish.
  5. MarkDido

    MarkDido Member

    Apr 5, 2003
    I generally carry a gun while I'm fishin', but that's to fight off the gators!
  6. sturmruger

    sturmruger Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    NW, WI
    As a kid in WI my budds and I would do a little fish hunting. We all had SKSs which worked really well. We would usually go after Sunfish, but would some times try to get larger fish. They are 100% correct they fish get stunned and float to the surface. We weren't stupid enough to let our fish go to waste. We would always take them home and see our moms would cook them for us.
  7. Chipperman

    Chipperman Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Essex Co, MA
    Yep. You can shoot fish in VT.
    Never done it myself, but my B.I.L. has done it. :uhoh:
  8. Thumper

    Thumper Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Rosenberg, Texas
    If you've never gar hunted with a 10/22, you haven't lived.

    Above note concerning ricochets applies.
  9. Sam Adams

    Sam Adams Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    South Texas
    I always go fishing, with every one of my guns, cuz I'm hoping to lose them all when the boat turns over. That way I can truthfully tell the JBT :cuss: that I lost 'em in a fishing accident.:D

    That info about stunning the fish with a shot to the water is VERY interesting. I bet that my fisherman uncle would be interested in saving lots of time.

    BTW, what do you use to stun a Great White, depth charges or 16" naval guns?
  10. 41mag

    41mag Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    western mi
    I read something almost identical to that years ago.I'td be neat to have a special fish-shooting season here.
    Doesn't really seem that different than when,as kids,we tossed m-80's off the end of the dock.:D :uhoh: :what:
  11. 444

    444 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I never knew it wasn't legal to shoot fish.
    I guess I never thought about it.
    Of course I haven't shot a fish for many years (I live in the desert), when I was a kid we used to do it all the time.
    I have shot fish with all manner of firearms but mostly with .22 handguns. As a kid, my best friend and I both had .22 handguns (He had a Single Six and I had a Ruger autoloader) that we carried everywhere we went. We lived in a rural area and spent ALL of our time in the woods, or fishing, or hunting or hiking or something like that.
    One thing that makes me laugh to this day: We used to walk or ride our bikes about 15 miles (each way) to some strip mine ponds to fish. An added bonus was a store on the way that would sell us chewing tobacco. Every single time we went, I would wait until my buddy caught a fish (on a rod and reel) and when he got it into shore, I would shoot it with my pistol. He was go crazy with rage. I must have done that a couple hundred times.:D
  12. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Richmond, Virginia
    I can't remember if our state regs for shooting fish are in the hunting rule book or the fishing rule book. If I could remember where the books were I'd look.

    From what I've heard it's not as easy as it sounds. Unless you're shooting straight down from a limb you have to learn to allow for the refraction.

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