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Fish photography changes with time

Brent Bushy landed this 40-inch northern pike while fishing for smallmouth bass in shallow water. With the help of a measuring tape and digital camera, Brent has a photo of his catch and was still able to successfully release the fish. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Advances in technology have undoubtedly changed angling, sometimes impacting fishing in a positive way, other times negatively.

Take sonar for instance. Having the ability to see exactly what travels beneath your watercraft, especially when it accurately displays fish, baitfish, or a certain desired bottom type is surely advantageous.

But with the advent of such technology, some anglers become intimidated by the sport of fishing, concluding that if they don't purchase a sonar, GPS, underwater camera and top of the line boat, they won't have a chance to catch fish.

Although those electronic, scientifically engineered items can help, anglers still have to tempt the fish to bite their hook. And the practice of standing on the bank to cast a bobber and worm, the simplest of rigs, is still an intriguing adventure, no electronics or boat required.

My boat is wired with those electronic accoutrements and I do rely upon them for assistance. But it's also nice to have a bucket filled with "luck" on board. Even after years of practice and intensely studying the art of angling, a little luck never hurts.

Yet two items that have nothing to do with helping anglers catch fish have made an interesting impact on fishing; the digital camera and portable digital scale.

Back-track 25-years or so and fishing was much different. Electric trolling motors were becoming more popular, yet many boats still didn't have the luxury. Sonar was available, but not thought of as a necessity like today. And clean-burning four-stroke outboards weren't even an option for boat owners. Still, people ventured to the lakes and caught nice fish.

After a fish was caught, it didn't necessarily go into a livewell, since many of the late model boats people owned didn't have them, but were instead clamped or threaded onto a stringer. Next stop; the bait shop.

At that time it seemed nearly every bait and tackle outlet had a big fish contest. And if it was big enough, you might even get to put the fish on a massive block of ice to display in the store's front window for the day or inside a large aquarium.

Yet no matter the size, the bait shop employee would pull out a Polaroid camera from under the counter to snap a photo of angler and fish after its weight had been calculated on their scale. Newspapers would run the photos including information such as which lake it came from and what bait fooled the lunker. The practice commonly confirmed the notion that fisher-folks don't always tell the truth, since the lake and sometimes lure were often fabricated by the angler to protect their "honey-hole" or secret bait.

Today those sport shop photos are nearly non-existent. With a greater awareness of catch and release, accurate digital scales that can weigh a fish from the convenience of your boat and digital cameras that quickly capture a photo keepsake of the fish, a stop at the baitshop on the way back from the lake seems to be a thing of the past.

Fortunately there's an opportunity to bridge the past and present by sending your fish photos to the Hooked in Park Rapids photo gallery displayed at Photographs can be mailed to Fish Photos, P.O. Box 111, Park Rapids, MN 56470 and electronic versions can be e-mailed to