The Mysterious Fish Magnet

By Bob Baker

The best fishing is behind my boat, a 1967 Morgan. I know this because every time I settle into a new anchorage, one, two, or more fishing boats inevitably appear, only a fish’s throw from my cockpit. Clearly all the fish have schooled around my boat and the fishermen somehow know this. When they arrive they drop their lines, sometimes at an uncomfortable closeness. Not being much of a fisherman myself, I have never myself reaped this bounty off my transom.

I first noticed this phenomena in my home waters of Lake Michigan, but I recently took a sojourn down the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida and learned that my boat is apparently also a southern-latitude saltwater fish magnet.

And I’ve observed this 24/7. On Intracoastal backwaters, well off the main channel, I would awake suddenly at night to the realization that there was a skiff just off my stern. Disturbed, I’d look out to see only a boat packed with people innocently holding fishing rods.

The phenomenon persists at docks as well. One night, for example, tied up at a wide ancient industrial dock close to a small Cape Breton town, one old lone fisherman showed up and perched high above me and the old truck tires strung between pilings. He dropped a line over the edge and I said hello and received a wonderfully accented hello back. Then, more people soon emerged with rods and bait, lured by a sixth fishing sense that behind my boat was the spot. Over that evening, my quiet tie-up devolved into kids on bikes and people in cars stopping to stare over the edge at the fishing spectacle my boat presented. By late night I’m pretty sure every townsperson had seen for themselves. The lone old guy who thought he had a peaceful spot to fish had long since left.

I’ve considered ways to market this remarkable phenomenon, maybe by hiring out as a guaranteed fishing hot spot, or perhaps by simply asking for a fresh fish for dinner. However, fishing men and women are far more apt to stare than to chat, perhaps thinking there is too little in common between them and the non-fishing sailor.

I’ve also considered that my fish-magnet hypothesis is flawed, that there must be another explanation. Perhaps the old Morgan is just a pretty boat that attracts, a good fishing backdrop. I once before had a girlfriend of mine aboard. She wore a bikini on the foredeck and we did seem to get more attention than normal, even an offer of fish from a couple fishermen in a skiff. But that mate is long gone and I’m an old guy in an old boat and we’ve both received more surgical than cosmetic attention, so I stand by my mysterious fish magnet hypothesis.

Bob Baker is semi-retired with an accounting background and an interest in hiking and sailing. He got his first sailboat in 1994, a 24-foot Hunter, and currently sails a Morgan 34 that he’s owned since 2004. He’s sailed the Great Lakes in her and recently returned from a round trip to the Bahamas, via the Trent Severn, the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and the Okeechobee Canal on the way down and the Erie Canal on the return. He’s planning further adventures.

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