While I am happy to identify as the Chief tank filler at Dive Source Scuba or occasionally, the “Scuba Guy” with my friends at Fish’n Canada, I actually grew up as a “dirt between my toes” kinda farm kid, working on our families apple farm & roadside market. Although work and family came first, I quickly discovered my Dads only real hobby was fishing. With family vacations and Dad’s occasional days off usually spent on the water, going along for a boat ride or fishing was perfectly ok with me and a better alternative to weeding tomatoes, pruning apple trees or picking corn.
When I think back, these were special days filled with incredible opportunities for a youngster like myself, this is where my love of the outdoors and water began. Although catching fish was the catalyst, I started becoming very curious about observing them in their own environment and soon half of my time was spent holding a fishing rod and the other half holding my breath. Donning mask, fins and snorkel, Brian the “Fish Whisperer” was born and I spent countless hours around cottage docks chasing bass or even jumping off the side of our boat swimming down as far as I could and pretty much believing I was Jacques Cousteau. Today I still go talk to fish, but I don’t have to come up for a breath, since I now use a scuba tank!
Scuba Diving and being underwater weightless like an astronaut is amazing and something I love to share and teach people to do, but watching the fish and critters that live there brings its own rewards that can actually be quite valuable if you are an angler. The first thing you learn is that the world of fish is very much three dimensional and it is fascinating to see how they relate to their environment below the waves. There are so many variables underwater like temperature, sun, shade and especially structure, be it a plant, rock, coral head, shipwreck or dock. The “fisheye view” I have gained from being a scuba diver, has been a real advantage for me as a fisherman and something anyone can learn be it with scuba gear or just snorkeling.
While today’s modern electronics have incredible imagery and have taken sonar to another level with breakthroughs like Panoptix and LiveScope they do not show you how curious fish can be at times or how they have personalities and specific behaviors or relate to structure etc.. Along with seeing fishy behaviors, you see the colour changes and water colour effects related to depth, sunlight filtering as well you will never forget what a thermocline feels like when you swim through a 20 degree temperature drop and truly understand the impact this has on fish behavior.
Scuba diving and snorkeling, opens your eyes beyond what shows up on a fish finder or drop camera screen and I will never forget the time I saw a perfectly camouflaged northern pike come out of a weed bed like a rocket and grabbed a perch right in front of me like some underwater heat seeking missile. I never looked at a weed line and our freshwater lakes the same way again.
Diving, just like fishing, is a sport that I can never grow tired of or have finished learning about, so if this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to drop into your local dive shop and take a scuba course or get some decent snorkel gear and go say hello to our finny friends… I am betting you will want to go a bit deeper and become a fish whisperer too…