Editor’s Note: A couple weeks ago in an article titled, “Paper Graphs and Their Demise,” I mentioned a movement started by a MN Rep to Ban the Graph. Well, because of that I felt it might be interesting to look deeper into that subject. Here’s the story from the ‘75/’76 timeframe.
About 15 years ago Hummingbird rocked the fishing world with their Side Imaging® technology and people went nuts – in two completely different ways. In one camp, people were in awe of the fact you could ‘peer’ into the water from side-to-side – seeing fish, structure or even stolen cars you’d normally have missed with a contemporary unit. Although the cost of the units was on the high side of high, many anglers flocked to the new technology knowing it would bring more fish to their livewells.
In the other camp, though, were the people who felt the technology would destroy the fisheries. This camp was filled with animal-first types, of course, but it was also filled with anglers who felt the imaging technology was too advanced and took too much out of the game of hide-and-seek we call bass fishing.
Then about three years ago, 360 imaging by Humminbird and forward-facing, real-time sonar by Garmin rocked the fishing world, and the talk of banning this technology has hit new heights.
I have to admit, although I think the advent of these pieces of equipment is great, I personally feel a lot of bass fishing has been lost on GPS, Side Imaging®, 360 Imaging® and real-time imaging. Give me a topo map, a flasher, a paper graph, some buoys and let me line up on shoreline landmarks and I’m happy. Don’t mind the two 15-inch Solixs and Mega 360 on my boat, by the way.
Anyway, back to the topic. I was reading in the July/Aug 1975 issue of Bass Master Magazine and something caught my eye. (Click on the images for a readable copy of the article in full). The title of that issue’s Editorial was, Case of Sport: Minnesota’s “Ban the Graph” Movement. With all the rage these days to ban this or that from the sport, the subject line intrigued me. Here is some of the text from the editorial (no author was cited).
“The Ban-the-Graph move is the first assault on fishermen in the sweep of recent anti-sportsmen, anti-hunting thinking in this country.”
“Has the fisherman become too scientific for the good of the sport? Does the use of sonar units take unfair advantage of the fish? Has the ‘sport’ gone out of sportfishing?”
The legislation was being put forth by MN Rep Glenn Sherwood who, in 1974, introduced a bill to ban all sonar units. This created an uproar amongst the many anglers in the Land of 10,000 Lakes state and the bill got thrown out.
Sherwood wouldn’t be outdone, though, and again in 1975 put forth bill No. 503 to ban paper graphs – the bill passed the house. At this point Minnesota’s DNR backed the ban because they feared the new technology would decimate the already dwindling walleye fishery.
The Governor of MN also got in on the act too. Here is what he said to a “concerned angler.”
“If the angler becomes too effective in catching fish, then we will be forced to adopt far more restrictive regulations on season length than are now and limits in place.”
John Uldrich, president of Vexilar Co. located in Minnesota, was an obvious critic of the bill. Here are some of his words taken from the editorial.
“They aid in helping the fisherman find and catch what is allowed by law.”
“Once we’ve brought the fish and fisherman together, the basic tenets of good sportsmanship rule the day…The sonars make it possible to prove once again that the fish is more wily …and can continue to confound man through his total disinterest in succulent baits, lures and other enticements designed to bring him to net or gaff.”
The author of the editorial then goes on to say, “This isn’t to say the Minnesota game-fish officials aren’t concerned about their fishery problem. They are probably searching for honest answers, but these are dangerous solutions. This type of thinking could lead to a move to ‘ban the fish hook.’”
Reading this piece really made me think hard about all the “Ban the (Put Technology Here)” talk going on in the recent past and present. We need to be careful when we as sportfishers take up publicly against some new fishing technology, such as the umbrella rig, and say it needs to be banned. This is exactly what the PETA-types want from us – for us to shoot ourselves in the foot.