Hooked on fishing
March 22, 2017
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It had been almost nine hours already. Diamond Bar High School junior Andy Chou stood next to his fishing rod at the California Aqueduct as he waited for a sign of the striped bass the aqueduct was famed for producing.
After countless hours of inactivity, the nightcrawler worm he used as bait had been nibbled on. Now, as Chou gazed into the aqueduct, his rod screeched and dipped toward the water. Amidst a flurry of nets and splashed water, Chou pulled up a wriggling five and a half pound striped bass.
Chou started fishing as a toddler when his parents — both of them longtime fishers— introduced him to it.
It started out as a family activity, and it wasn’t until his freshman year when his grandfather showed him the finer points of fishing, did Chou start to invest more time into it.
“[My grandpa] was the one who really showed me that is more to fishing than just casting your line and waiting,” Chou said. “He was the one who introduced me to real fishing.”
His grandfather, Dewei Chen, a fisherman with over 60 years of experience, taught Chou that “a great deal of patience comes a long way in fishing.” Chen had started out by fishing bare-handed and with a bamboo pole in China. With his experience, he showed Chou the advantages of using better equipment, techniques for casting, vital fishing knots and tips for fighting large fish.
Chou now goes fishing around once a week either by himself or accompanied by his grandfather, parents or friends. For Chou, fishing offers a chance for him to immerse himself in nature and bring home a fresh catch to put on the table.
Fishing is often seen as an activity that rarely strays from sitting around and waiting for fish. However, Chou says fishing can be tiring, especially when using a lure. He describes it as “active,” since the fisher has to constantly move the lure to attract fish.
“When you feel the first bite, you’ll feel the anticipation and set the hook.” Chou said. “Once you set the hook, the fish usually starts pulling really hard and that’s the best feeling ever.”
One of Chou’s favorite fishing spots is West Jetty View Park in Newport Beach, where the abundance of diverse fish available makes it easy to fish— sometimes taking only roughly 15 seconds to catch a fish.
For fishing at the Jetty, Chou brings a light action rod for small fish like bait fish and perch, a larger rod for bigger fish like seabass and bat rays. In addition,Ugly Stik GX2 is used to fish for octopus and eels between the rocks of the Jetty. Chou also brings shrimp and squid— some of the best baits for ocean fishing because of their universal attractiveness for nearly all types of fish.
Newport Beach is one of the locations where he fishes. Chou managed to catch his largest fish, a roughly 30 pound bat ray off the side of a charter boat. Although it was considered unofficial because he never properly weighed it and estimated its weight based on the 30 pound line it broke, he made his largest official catch, a 20 pound carp, at Lake Perris.
While the excitement of landing a fish is exhilarating, Chou says that it’s always disappointing to lose a fish.
“Losing a fish is always heartbreaking, especially when you’ve had a long day and you just want to get that one bite and you miss it.” Chou said. “It’s frustration and regret of what you could’ve done better.”
Although Chou started looking at fishing seriously just two years ago, he says he plans on developing his passion even after he graduates high school.
“I was searching for a way to get out more and seek freedom,” Chou said. “[Fishing has] become part of me, in a way.”