I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

• Local Fish Names

Keep in mind this post is not meant to spark controversy. The southern anglers are quite jumpy when you go telling them things contrary to what they've known all their lives. I'm what folks down here call a northerner despite where I was born. I learned most of what I know about fishing while living on the East Coast and the upper Midwest. Down here in Louisiana, they have some interesting names for some fish, some of which are dead wrong or questionable and others that have an intriguing Cajun influence. If I get any of this wrong, by all means, enlighten me. I'm always appreciative of learning something new. As proof that even I got caught up in their naming schemes, what the locals told me were white bass were actually Morone mississippiensis or yellow bass and I took what they said as truth.

I'll start out with the most controversial name in my opinion. A crappie to me can be a black or white crappie under the Pomoxis species. When the crappie are biting, head on down to the boat launch and listen to the locals talk. They call 'em white perch. Hmm...well that doesn't look like the white perch I know. The white perch I know doesn't swim in these waters. Morone americana looks somewhat similar, except it doesn't have the speckled body that a crappie has. In addition, a white perch has a very thin lateral line. People on the East Coast know what a white perch is. Course, southerners don't like northern ways. They also call crappie the sac-a lait, an understandable name if you're familiar with their skin pattern. The sac-a lait name appears to be more common further south, from what people have told me. Obviously, it has a French/Cajun influence.

Call a drum a drum down here and you stand out like a sore thumb. Gaspergou or Goo is the word you're looking for. I don't know the exact origin of this one, but Casburgot from the word "casser" (to break) and "burgeau" (a kind of shellfish) both point to a Cajun origin.

They won't know what you mean when you call a fish a bowfin. I came to know this fish as a dogfish. Down here they call it a grinnel or a choupique. Choupique sounds awfully Cajun, but ater doing some reading, appears to have come from the Choctaw Native American word for the mudfish and Cajuns took on their own spelling. The word grinnel seems to have a few possible origins. Brindle could have easily been misheard as grindle. Brindle is that brownish fur color with streaks of other colors mixed in. Other explanations include grindle with a german origin meaning ground or bottom, a British word, grindel, for a narrow ditch, grindel in Norse for fierce or angry, and Virginians make the claim that it came from John A. Grindle. I take all that with a grain of salt. Bowfin are definitely fierce fish. They will try to bite just about anything. I still call 'em bowfin or dogfish.

They have chain pickerel down here. The locals say they are bad fish and club them to death when caught. That's no way to be, but that's not what this post is about. Otherwise I'd rant about how they do the same thing to the alligator gar. The name given to the chain pickerel down here is jack fish. Northern pike are commonly called jackfish, but not the chain pickerel. I believe walleye/sauger are called jackfish sometimes too. When I hear jack fish, I think salt water, but that's just me. The point is, chain pickerel are not northern pike, a point they adamantly make down here as a reason it's not a sport fish as well as justification for killing them. However, they still call them a jackfish which is traditionally reserved for the northerns from what I understand.

One I'll let slide is the goggle-eye. The warmouth is a fun little fish to catch. The term goggle-eye is not limited to this particular area, but warmouth is probably more commonly used.

Why should the names matter? Certain state and local lake regulations place limits on catching certain fish. If you don't know the name of what you're catching, how can you expect to know the regulations in place? An easy example to illustrate my point goes back to the yellow bass I've been catching. SInce I was under the impression I was catching white bass, I also understood that there was a 50 fish limit, although catching 50 is a feat unto itself on some of these lakes. There is no limit on the yellow bass. Big difference.

There's always room to learn.