An exhibit at the Great Outdoors Show this past weekend showed why it can be so dang hard to catch a fish.
A 4,000-gallon tank built on a goose-neck trailer served as the temporary home of about 60 largemouth bass, crappie, bream and one little pickerel.
Professional anglers stood on a mock boat mounted at the top of the tank and used it to demonstrate techniques for lure retrieval, yet the fish generally ignored the lures.
That wasn’t because the fish are accustomed to living in the tank and getting fed regularly. Last week they were all swimming around Lake Tobsofkee in Bibb County. Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers captured the fish by shocking the water. The fish were to be put back into the lake Sunday evening after the show ended.
Occasionally one of the fish would chase after a lure and a demonstrator would snag one, but it wasn’t very often.
Billy Hurt, a professional fisherman, was one of the demonstrators and is the owner of the tank. He said what audiences saw was not that different from what might be happening when they are casting out lures in a lake. It could well be, he said, that a lure is darting past many fish that are just ignoring it.
“Fish do not feed all day,” he said after giving a demonstration Sunday. “They don’t eat unless they are hungry. They can go two or three days without eating anything and it doesn’t affect them.”
That’s why he said patience is the key to successful fishing.
“You would be amazed,” he said. “Hundreds of fish see your bait every day and they never react to it. A very, very small percentage of fish are going to react to it. You just can’t see them but they are there.”
He is from Jackson, Tennessee and built the tank himself. He did that because it’s difficult to make a living as a professional fisherman, so he was looking for a way to supplement his income. He takes the tank to shows all over the country.
The Great Outdoors Show, held annually at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, benefits the Georgia Wildlife Federation. It’s a non-profit group that advocates for good management of natural resources. The show is a combination of what had previously been separate shows, the Fisharama and the Turkeyrama.
Sam Stowe, programs manager for the federation, said the fish tank was a popular attraction at this year’s show, which he said drew at least 10,000 people. He said the show last featured a demonstration tank 11 years ago, but with the popularity of it this year he thinks it may be back next year. He said no fish died in the tank.
“It’s been big for our crowd,” Stowe said as he stood by the tank Sunday. “They get to observe the natural habitat of different species of fish.”