Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Monday, February 3, 2014

Jim Mansfield kept detailed records of his more than 100,000 panfish catches

Pat McDaniel down at Orlando, Fl, recently documented the catching of his 200,000th fish. It was a black crappie taken while fishing out of Lake Fairview Marina.
According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, McDaniel meticulously keeps records of all his fish, plus the amount of time he fishes. He spent 558,640 minutes pursuing those 200,000 fish.
McDaniel credits his wife, Carole with his latest angling milestone. He made no mention of what Carole thinks about the time he spends fishing, but it must be OK with her. They remain married.
The McDaniel story brings to mind Jim Mansfield, who was probably the best pan fisherman I have ever known. He also was a detailed record keep; maybe even more than the Florida angler.
Jim grew up in Southern Indiana where he played basketball as a teen at Otwell High School. At about six-foot-four, he was one of the tallest centers back in those days He also spent much of his free time fishing.
Jim, who later operated an interesting  combination store in Tell City, IN, just a few blocks from the Ohio River. The store was half bait and tackle shop, and half music store. His wife, Catherine also was a key part of his fishing. She and his son often staffed the store while Jim headed out fishing, usually to Patoka Lake.
Over the years before he passed away in 2004, Jim documented well over 100,000 pan fish, primarily crappie and bluegill. I can’t recall the numbers, but he might have been closer to 200,000 than 100,000.
Not only did he keep track of each fish, he recorded the water temperature on the trip, the weather, date, time and bait used. Think he also recorded the trip in relationship with the moon. He was a believer in increased fish activity just before and after a full moon, and just before a strong front moves through.
At one point, Jim wanted me to help him with a book utilizing his pan fish data. However, I knew I was too lazy to complete such a detailed project.
I’m confident most people can fish better than me. Besides just not being very good, I spend far too much time jotting down notes and wrestling my camera when I’m supposed to be fishing. But, fishing with Jim was fun, informative and frustrating.
Jim would land 10 fish to my one. He could detect the slightest movement of a bobber as being caused by a fish. I’d never even see or feel such a bite.
Over the years, Jim developed several combination long rods and reels for catching pan fish, and especially for crappie. I’m fortunate to still have one today. Although it has a broken tip, It still catches crappie for the old outdoor writer. It serves to recall memories of a great fisherman and good friend.

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