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Cane Pole Fishing

Fishing with A Cane Pole


Male Bluegill In Full Mating Colors

This male bluegill is in full mating colors. You can see how muddy the pond water is behind it. The fish weighed just over a pound.

2006 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com
If you really want to keep it simple (KISS fishing) while fishing, go back to cane pole fishing. This is one of the most simple forms of tackle you can use but it is still very enjoyable. All you need is a pole, line and hook. A sinker (compare prices) and cork (compare prices) will come in handy for some kinds of cane pole fishing, too, but you can catch fish without them. There are no guides on a cane pole, the line is tied to the tip.

When I was a young kid I used a cane pole six feet or so long. My mother and grandmother were much more skillful and used 12 to 14 foot poles, standard length for a grown-up. We usually bought them but sometimes we went to a cane patch and cut our own. Bought poles were ready to go. When we cut our own we had to strip off all the leaves and husks on the stalk, or the cane, and hang them with a weight at the end so they dried straight.

For years cane poles were really cane poles. Now you can buy collapsible fiberglass poles like the Breambuster. They are easier to transport. With a cane pole in a car you open the back window some and stick the poles in, with the butt at beside the front seat. The fiberglass poles slide down into themselves and will easily fit into the car.

We always wrapped the line around the end of the pole, starting about 18 inches from the tip and ending up right at the very end. That was to insure landing a bigger fish if it broke the very thin tip of the pole. The line should be long enough to reach from the tip to the butt of the pole. For transport, the line was spiraled around the pole and the hook stuck into one of the joints to secure it. That makes a tidy package.

Bluegill and small catfish are the usual targets when fishing with a cane pole so a #6 light wire Aberdeen hook was what we always used. Line was fairly light, eight to ten pound test, and split shot in a small size can be clamped to the line above the hook to make your bait sink and your cork stand up. We always used long, thin corks and they were really made of cork. They had a hole through the middle running the length of it with a slit down one side. You slid you line into the hole through the slit and stuck a small stick in the end to hole it in place.

Earthworms were our usual bait but we also used crickets, meal worms and even chicken liver when going after catfish. We fished local farm ponds and creeks. Even after starting to fish for crappie at Clark's Hill in the spring we used cane poles, swinging a cork, sinker and #2 or @1 hook baited with a live shiner minnow. I eventually switched to a fly rod with a cork and small crappie jig on the end of the line but the idea was the same. You swung the bait out and let if drop by a shoreline bush where the spawning crappie were holding. It was much more efficient than trying to cast with a rod and reel.

The fight of the fish is different on a cane pole. You raise the rod tip to fight the fish. Since there is no reel and a set amount of line out, the fight is limited to the length of line. No drag system means you have to learn to let the pole do the work and even dip the pole tip down toward the water if you are fighting a big fish.

There was a variation of cane pole fishing we used for bass. We would attach a section of braided line to the end of the pole, with about three feet wrapped around the end to the tip and three more feet hanging free. A fairly large 5/0 or 6/0 treble hook was tied on and a deflated balloon hooked through the end. That piece of rubber was sputtered along the surface along shoreline cover to attract bass. They gave you quite a fight on a short line and 14 foot cane pole.

Some really big grouper have even been caught in saltwater on cane poles, but all the components are much heavier.

You can still get real cane poles and the fiberglass ones are easy to find. Get one and give simple fishing a try. You might love the old time ways.

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