Some sporting dogs like to fish
MINOT -- Dogs don't have to be limited to the back yard, the walking path, the fields of autumn or the trial or training grounds. Some of them are at their best in the fishing boat. Yes, the angling dog is here to stay. For many fishermen, there'...
MINOT -- Dogs don't have to be limited to the back yard, the walking path, the fields of autumn or the trial or training grounds.
Some of them are at their best in the fishing boat.
Yes, the angling dog is here to stay. For many fishermen, there's always room in the boat for a well behaved dog.
"I wouldn't fish without him. I can't leave him home," said Pete Harsh, the 2008 FLW Walleye Tour champion.
Harsh can be found on the leader board at FLW events. When he's in his Ranger boat, so is his beloved Labrador retriever. Even on the highly competitive FLW circuit, Harsh won't fish without his dog by his side.
Other fishermen feel the same way about their canine companions, elevating them to the same level of importance as their fishing rods and reels. They won't consider going fishing without them.
Some fishermen go so far as to claim their dogs can smell fish in the water. It's hard to prove.
One fisherman, who asked not to be identified for fear of being subject to ridicule, said his dog would often get off the deck and peer over the side of the boat just before a fish was hooked. He said it happened a little too often to be just a coincidence. He claims his dog was almost as reliable as his sonar when it came to locating fish.
While most fishermen probably wouldn't admit to such claims, they certainly don't leave their dogs at the dock. Dogs can be great company in a fishing boat, provided they keep their noses out of the bait bucket and away from treble hooks. They help keep a boat neat too because all tackle must be properly stored as a prevention against unwanted accidents.
Harsh isn't the only fishing champion who relies on canine companionship. Janine and Jeff Wetzel of Mandan are regular participants at Badlands Bass Bandits fishing tournaments. Janine was the season points leader in 2008 and the runner-up in 2009. The Wetzels' two dogs get plenty of boat time at the tournaments as well. The dogs seem to enjoy bass fishing as much as their owners do.
When Tom Pabian of Foxholm leaves the dock to spend a few hours in the fishing boat, it's a solid bet that his golden retriever Mandy will be included. They enjoy each other's company and Mandy keeps herself busy checking out all sections of the boat and watching closely as fish are brought aboard or released. Dogs develop a keen sense of what is supposed to be happening during a fishing trip.
After most dogs experience a fishing trip or two in a boat, they become familiar with the routines and the time involved. Like any good fisherman, dogs need to learn a little patience, and time in a fishing boat is an excellent teaching tool. A few dogs may fall out of the boat once or twice before getting their "sea legs" and respecting the action of the waves. Most learn that lesson pretty quickly, especially if the water temperature is colder than expected.
It's a good idea for fishermen to keep a few dog treats in the boat to make dogs feel as at home as possible. However, most dogs will keep occupied by watching their surroundings. A stop along shore once or twice during each outing is helpful. It gives anxious dogs a chance to swim and relieve themselves. With their most pressing needs met, dogs usually settle down within moments of getting back in the boat.
All dogs, but particularly dark-coated breeds, need some protection from the sun on warm days to prevent them from overheating. Dogs will let you know when they are getting uncomfortably warm, usually by seeking out shade under a boat seat or steering console. Letting a dog go for a swim is an excellent way to cool the dog down. Keeping a dish of water in the boat is also a good idea and a water supply is always close at hand.
Owners of boat dogs will attest that the dogs showing excitement over hunting gear will become just as excited when the tarp is coming off the boat.