Half Mine

June 11, 2012 by  

By Nick Simonson

When I was a young angler, watching bobbers off the dock with my cousin Kris Paulson of Grand Forks, N.D. was more of a competition than leisure or hobby.  We’d see who could catch the most perch, we’d see who could catch the biggest bluegill and anyone who caught anything other than that – especially a northern pike, no matter what the size – was the automatic winner for the day.
It came to pass one day in the ongoing competition that while Kris ran into the cabin to get a drink of water, I caught the bluegill that was pulling his red-and-white bobber under the surface of the lake.  It was large, and threatened to be the fish that would take top honors for the day, and my cousin was none too happy that I had taken advantage of his absence to seize the lead in our rivalry.
“That fish is half mine,” I recall him saying.
“Why’s that,” I questioned.
“Well, you caught it with my rod, and that makes it half mine,” he reasoned, and from that day, the “half mine” theory applied in my boat and in my fishing adventures has comically evolved.
The rules are simple; if you contribute anything to anyone’s fishing success, particularly with a big fish, that fish is fractionally yours.  If you borrow a rod and someone uses it to catch a walleye, then that walleye is half yours.  That tenet of the system remains unwaveringly set in the roots of the half mine structure, but from there on, it’s been developed over slow fishing outings, campfire chats, and moments where I’ve landed monster fish, with a little help from my friends, or vice versa.  What follows is what we’ve come up with.
If you borrow a lure to a friend and they land a fish, that fish is one-eighth yours if the lure cost over four dollars, if it was a less expensive lure, say like a jig, the fish is only one-sixteenth yours.  If you see someone’s bobber go down, or their rod jump from a strike and you alert them, that fish is one-two-hundred-and-fifty-sixths yours – congrats!  Having messed up a couple of landings in my lifetime, we’ve set the nominal rate for a good net job at one-sixty-fourth of a fish.  However, losing a fish when you should have had it netted is a minus-two against your record – you get credit for losing the fish and for the other guy’s one-that-got-away.
When I got into lure making, I knew that my flies, jigs and other tackle had to net me a small fraction when I borrowed them out or mailed them off to friends and family.  Boy, if the kids on the dock knew what my total was now, thanks to this evolution in the half-mine mindset, their eyes would bug out like those on a rock bass.  My lures have garnered fish for me personally, but it is those fractional fish that are the continued dividends as others patrol area waters with my creations. Anything anyone catches on my jigs is one-thirty-second mine; same goes for my trout spinners.
Just last week, my brother Ben Simonson of Valley City, N.D., flung out a double-bladed bait over the sunken island not too far from the dock where the half mine system originated and set the hook into his first muskie of the year.  That forty-three inch fish was one-sixteenth mine.  Why?  Because the value we’ve set for fish caught on my muskie baits is that amount, plain and simple.

If it sounds ridiculous – it’s supposed to; it’s a little lighthearted tribute to those days on the dock.  And when the campfire committee meets at the cabin in a couple weeks, I will present a new wrinkle in the half mine code.

What if for every person we teach how to fish, or help improve their success in tallying up their own list of fish with new techniques or lures, we get one-one-hundredth of their fish to add to our tally? That seems fair to me, particularly because I tend to teach a number of fishing classes and open my boat up to anyone who wants to hit the water.  And beyond the dividends that this Eighty-second Amendment to the Constitution of Half Mine will pay to me personally, it’ll be a great incentive to recruit more anglers and add to everyone’s tally…in our outdoors.


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