By Andrew Cremata

Every angler worth their salt employs a fishing mantra at opportune moments with the sole intent of motivating sluggish fish to bite. To the uninitiated, randomly talking to fish appears as nothing more than desperation and/or madness, but experienced fisherfolk understand that there is real power in words.

Science seems unwilling or unable to tackle the question of fishing mantra efficacy, so the purpose of this article is to provide colloquial evidence firmly establishing the fact that spoken words have real power over fish.

First, it’s vital to explain the nature of a fishing mantra and why anglers use them.

For whatever reason, sometimes fish refuse to bite. This is especially frustrating when fish are visible or a fishing buddy is catching fish and you are not. After a certain amount of time, the unlucky angler will begin to question why they’re not getting any bites. Obviously, failure has nothing to do with skill (or lack thereof) so something else must be to blame.  

Unable to pinpoint the cause of their misfortune, the angler must fall back on blind superstition. Much like a magician conjures a rabbit from an ordinary tophat using a magic word like “abrahadabra,” the superstitious angler employs their own fishing mantra of choice. And make no mistake, every angler has one single fishing mantra they use because they have indisputable proof that it works. 

The overwhelming majority of fishing mantras directly address the fish being targeted. 

Any reasonable person reading this understands that fish do not speak English or any other human language but science has proven that fish are highly sensitive to vibration. Is it possible that fish somehow sense the intent behind the vibrations emanating from the angler as they utter their fishing mantra in the general direction of the stream, lake or river where fish are being targeted? 

Why not? After all, quantum physics proves that our entire universe is in a constant state of vibration. Even the largest granite boulder is nothing more than subatomic particles vibrating at a slightly slower rate of speed than that of the person observing it. This means that words hold the power to move mountains. Is it so absurd to assert that words can drive fish into a feeding frenzy?

What follows are my own firsthand accounts of fishing mantras working under a variety of conditions in wildly different locales. Kindly read these accounts with an open mind before passing judgement because, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. 

My father, Sam, is not a superstitious man. However, if he’s fishing and goes a couple of hours without a bite, he will suddenly turn his face toward the water, raise his voice and say, “If you fish don’t start biting, I am going to take my bait and go home.”

I’ve heard my father say this at least a hundred times. At least 75 of which immediately resulted in a bite and a fish. While at first glance one may think that 25 percent rate of failure is high, consider that hours had gone by without a bite. 

As a child, I assumed that my dad’s voice was being carried through the monofilament line into the water where the fish could hear it and act accordingly. To test the theory, I tied a string between two plastic cups and, after giving one of the cups to my best friend Rodrick, tested the quality of my makeshift telephone. 

Results varied, but I discovered that if I talked loud enough, Rodrick could hear me through his plastic cup. If I yelled, he could even hear me through doors and walls. 

Many years later, my cousin Phil routinely used his own fishing mantra whenever fish refused to cooperate. Unfortunately, I cannot share this mantra in a family-friendly newspaper like The Skagway News but it was only eight words long, seven of which can be found in a standard dictionary. 

Phil’s mantra was 90% effective. This high rate of success leads me to believe that fishing mantras that include passionate wordplay result in more robust vibratory effectiveness. 

As an adult, I acquired my own fishing mantra. As a traditionalist, I use one of the most common and proven fishing mantras ever devised by man. 

“Here, fishy fishy fishy!” 

Earlier this week, some family from Down South came to visit, including three of my nephews, ages three, six and seven. (I have yet to get a final count of all my nephews). I agreed to take them fishing for pink salmon in Dyea and share with them the most important fishing lessons I know.

After teaching them how to hold their mouth right, I explained that it’s necessary to say, “Here, fishy fishy fishy!” if they were serious about the work at hand. It soon became apparent that salmon were listening attentively because every time I said the words, I immediately caught a fish. I could only hope that my nephews were paying close attention.

Later that afternoon, my friend Nicole showed up, eager to catch her own salmon. Some time went by. Nicole patiently kept casting and retrieving. My seven-year-old nephew, Wesley, walked up to Nicole and said, “If you want to catch a fish, you have to say, ‘Here, fishy fishy fishy!”

Nicole, always eager to accept unsolicited fishing advice, repeated the words, “Here, fishy fishy fishy!” and was immediately rewarded with a hard hit and solid hookup.

“It worked!” Nicole exclaimed. 

Indeed it did. And if you doubt any part of this story, stop by the Elks and ask Nicole for yourself. After landing a healthy six-pound salmon, Nicole now fully understands the importance of having one’s own fishing mantra. It’s quite possible she is spending most of her free time developing her own magic words that will compel fish to do her bidding.

As for me, I’m going to stick with what works while taking great pride in my nephews who now fully understand the most important fishing secret you won’t find in any book.