Fishing Guns

Best Bullets for Bass?
21

During a recent editorial strategy meeting on the panoramic top floor of the 50-story GUNS office building in East Bumphrey, someone discovered a new trend. Trends are important to the publishing industry because everyone is constantly chasing them, hopefully luring one or two into a capture net in order to domesticate the shifty little beasts and milk them for all they’re worth.

Of course, GUNS has mostly ignored the trend of trends, but sometimes we trend towards being trendy like all other trendsetters. In this most recent case, somebody suddenly shouted “Eureka” during the meeting when they were suddenly reminded fishing had become a hot new “thing.”

Never Gone

Actually, fishing has always been popular and never “went away” but many who don’t regularly partake in piscatorial pursuits didn’t know this. Now, with all the quarantine restrictions and generalized upheaval of society over the last two years, somebody observed the local fishing hole is packed shoulder-to-shoulder and obviously something was afoot.

For those of us who own as many fishing rods as firearms, we already knew the only change was many people have concluded sitting alongside the water, bored and doing nothing, is vastly preferable to sitting at home bored and doing nothing. Therefore, larger numbers of folks were grabbing a fishing rod and heading out for a day on the water when they weren’t allowed to do much else.
Regardless of reasons, to the chagrin of dedicated anglers everywhere, it is indisputable more people are fishing. This clearly qualifies as a trend and thus once identified, any forward-thinking business team asks the all-important question during critical strategy meetings: “What time do they serve lunch?”

Since the noon meal was still an hour away, we returned to the discussion and somebody pointed out a marriage of firearms and fishing would be a truly unique niche for a magazine. As the oldest consumer newsstand firearms publication, we discussed perhaps GUNS could start a new title focused on this pursuit. But one major problem remained — what editor could we possibly find who is completely nuts about both firearms and fishing rods.

Who, Indeed?

I frantically raised my hand in the manner of a fourth-grader who drank too much fruit punch. Fortunately, after the Second Vice President in Charge of Acknowledgement realized I was asking to make a point, I began my earnest pitch.

First off, for better or worse, I’m the obvious choice to helm this new publication. Though firearms consume approximately 27 hours of my brainpower each day, I also spend one or two minutes each hour daydreaming about fish and fishing. I’m equally happy lying behind a precision rifle, whanging steel with my .45, cradling a side-by-side 20-gauge while following an English setter with a nose full of quail — or stumbling down a creek armed with a flyrod intent on pestering the local smallmouth bass or taking my boat onto the ocean in search of disappointment (I’m not a very good saltwater angler). Shooting is both my vocation and avocation, but overall I prefer to think of myself — to steal a term from the late Peter Hathaway Capstick — a “Professional Small Boy,” full of wild and terrible enthusiasms which encompass both shooting and angling.

Thus, I’m the perfect person to meld the world of fish and firearms. Thus emboldened I proposed a whole new magazine based on “Gishing,” a portmanteau of “Gun” and “Fishing.” I thought it was a very catchy name, though I’ll admit it sounds like a veterinary procedure or some obscure rule of grammar.

“Sorry, Jim, I can’t meet you for lunch. A bunch of the cattle need gishing and I probably won’t be done until mid-afternoon….”
Regardless of any potential title confusion, I think it’s a strong concept. In fact, I’ve already written the first cover story and will now share some excerpts from “Bustin’ Caps on Carp and Crappie: Best guns for any fish!”

Bluegill — Everyone’s first catch, the bluegill is a popular and easy-to-find species, making it ideal for everyone from the novice to the expert. As bluegills are unpretentious, small and often caught by kids, a lighter, easy-to-use gun such as a Chipmunk rifle in .22 Short is ideal. Of course, adults enjoy catching them also and as such anglers tend to be panfish specialists, a high-quality .22 rimfire trainer is perfect.

Bass — The “Bucketmouth” is truly “America’s fish” and as such, deserving of a classic 12-gauge pump such as the Remington 870, Mossberg 500 or perhaps an heirloom side-by-side. Of course, if you’re down south where the bass grow big and burley, more firepower is necessary so 3″ double-aught buck or even slugs aren’t out of place in your angler’s tackle box. If you’re targeting swifter, more aggressive smallmouth bass, a quality semi-auto in 20 gauge is perfect.

Crappie — As crappie tend to hang in groups ranging from 100 to a million-plus, a high-capacity firearm is important. Most anglers on the Professional Crappie Hunting Tournament Series use something belt-fed, the most popular being the M249 Light Machine Gun and the H&K HG4.

Trout — Trout have a certain panache so you’ll need a stylish gun — preferably something requiring a credit check prior to purchase. To ensure being welcomed into the rarified club of hardcore trout junkies, the best choices in firearms include classic double rifles from Westley-Richards, Holland and Hollard or Purdey.

As trout are thin-skinned and easy to take down once cornered, lighter calibers or slower non-magnum cartridges are most appropriate. While some trout stalkers will go extremely light and choose things like a custom .17 HMR, these speedster calibers often cause too much meat damage and result in waste. They also ricochet like mad!

Catfish & carp — The bottom-feeders — and the anglers who chase them — are an unpretentious lot and the guns should be likewise. Many who pursue ’cats feel an old hardware-store utility-grade gun, the more battered the better, is ideal. An elderly Stevens single-shot 16 gauge that has spent the past 40 years rattling around behind the seat of a farm pickup truck without the benefit of a case, is perfect. Wrist-rockets, recurve bows and roadside fireworks purchased anywhere south of the Ohio River also work well.
Muskie & pike — These fast, mean fish require large-caliber firepower in a quick-handling gun. Semi-auto pistols such as the 1911A1 are perfect though the magazine capacity is a bit small for the speedy and tooth-laden predators. In fact, larger hunting revolvers such as the .454 Casull or .460 S&W aren’t necessarily overkill, especially near the Canada border where these species grow large.
Of course, don’t accidentally cross over into Canuck territory with your handgun — it’s easy to do in trackless wilderness — or you’ll be the guest of the authorities for several months and might miss a good part of the fishing and hunting seasons.

Inshore saltwater species — If you’re targeting things like redfish, sea trout, grunt, sponge or snook, any medium-caliber hunting rifle works fine as the ranges might be long but the water is usually shallow. As these species are abundant and typically weigh under 15 lbs., a favorite .30-30 lever action or .270 bolt-action deer rifle fits the bill perfectly.

Offshore big-game — Are you ready to head offshore and take on giant marlin, tuna, shark, frigate or whale? If so, you’ll definitely need big-game gear for such world-class quarry! All of these giant species present serious danger by their sheer bulk and aggressiveness, and require lots of power to quickly subdue. More than one angler has been killed by the thrashing, smashing throes of a huge, vengeful marlin brought to the side of the blind, er, boat. This is why serious dangerous-game weaponry is required: minimal required firepower starts at the .45-70 with hard-cast bullets and goes up from there. In fact, many pro bluewater fish stalkers have twin .50 BMGs mounted on the stern.

Exclusive Preview: Next month’s Gishing cover story — “Dum-dums for dolphin — the definitive guide.”

Disclaimer: this article is merely satire and was written after spending too long in the poor-ventilated den with an open bottle of gun solvent. Please know shooting into the water is dangerous and, in most places, illegal. Likewise, firearms are not generally considered legal sport-fishing equipment and you would be subject to a fine or even arrest if you attempt anything listed in the story.

If you do insist, in spite of legal, ethical common-sense rules, laws, warnings, admonitions, directives, rebukes and guidelines to the contrary, please send photos to Your Most Obedient Servant, c/o GUNS Magazine, East Bumphrey.

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