The water swirls, a 42-foot pole leans away from a 12 lb. fish as it burns towards the far bank of the suburban public water. A brightly colored elastic band shoots out from the tip of this mammoth fishing pole and the fish tugs at every last ounce of breaking strength on the 3.5 lb. line and tiny size 16 hook.

It’s extreme pole fishing and it is right here in the midwest. Anglers in the US are taking to this method of fishing, simply pole fishing – that anglers in many parts of the world have enjoyed for some 100 years now. It is modern fishing industry meets old-world techniques. You can see fishermen around Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Atlanta, Detroit, Ohio and even in California. It is catching on North of the border in Canada and there is even an international match US vs. Canada that pits the best anglers from the US against the Canadians.

The fishing was started in the US by Mick Thill, modern US proponent of the float. He could be heard in fishing halls and on the shores everywhere in his imitation of a Chicagoan’s accent saying “baaaaahhhhhber”- he hates the round plastic useless bobbers mostly because they don’t work.

The pole, unlike most rod and reels uses the tiniest bite indicators (floats) that can be held in place by the length of the pole. This can NOT be done using rod & reel because of the line out on the water and no tip to hold back the float against wind or current. The pole method is a deadly to catch fish with – the best. Hands down the most consistent way to catch the most fish on any freshwater venue including, lakes, rivers and ponds is the pole. The long poles are pulled in hand over hand. Comments from passers by often start with “what is that”, “what are you doing” and anglers usually respond with “fishing pole” or “fishing” but it doesn’t make sense to most- until they see all the fish that are being brought in.

The key to the long pole method is the ability to “hold back” against wind/current with that tiny bite indicator. If the wind is moving the water or current up top- the water on the floor of that body of water will be still- the angler defeats the movement of the top water without the use of excess weight. The system keeps in tact, the most sensitive system for putting fish on a hook in the world! Because there is very little weight used, the slightest movement below will show up top on the water for the angler. Fishermen can literally “see” when a fish is in the region or has approached the bait. Often times, the fish bump into the line or fin nearby and give away their position to the pole angler. Because of the pole, the angler can use a far smaller float than if they were casting.

So, how does a large fish get caught, since there is no fishing reel? Yes, that is right, no reel. The difference between a pole and a rod is that poles have no reel. When a fish strikes, elastic (in the last 2 or 3 sections of the thin tip) comes firing out and acts as one of the shock absorbers to battle long runs by a fish. The larger the fish, the more elastic they can take out. Doesn’t the fish break the line- sure. Pole anglers usually start with really delicate line to match the fishing. We often use line half-as-thick as shelf 4 lb. line to begin as this line will increase the number of pickups. The first puzzle in fishing is to get the fish to take the bait. If the angler breaks off, he/she will then decide whether or not to increase the strength of the rig or continue fishing the light line. The danger is, if you increase the line thickness, you may not get the same success in pickups and can in fact “kill” your fishing.

The long poles weigh between 5 and 8 lb. and the majority of the pole is supported under an angler’s arm. This technique eliminates a good percentage of the pole weight and makes it comfortable to fish the long pole. When I made the switch from regular old rod & reel fishing, none of it made sense, but I followed my teacher, Mick Thill’s advice and it was solid. The guy knows how to fish.

Pole fishing looks like work, but trust me, this extreme fishing is all fun. There are hundreds of details to add to the pole fishing system, but the one description that makes sense is easy. Hanging onto a huge fish on a 42-foot pole is a blast! It is like no other fishing you have ever done and it is catching on. If you would like to see the poles in action, check our schedule for the upcoming event dates and I will see you there. Be sure you don’t ask “what is that”… if we are pointed towards the water, odds are we are fishing. If we are using a pole, odds are we will be catching fish too…

Lastly, don’t be scared off by the large poles, our fishing club has two divisions suited for the beginning and intermediate angler. You will not go up against skilled pole anglers if you decide to participate in a MidwestAnglers event – even brand new anglers can pole fish successfully right away.