The use of the hook in angling is descended, historically, from what would today be called a "gorge." The word "gorge", in this context, comes from the French word meaning "throat." Gorges were used by ancient peoples to capture fish. A gorge was a long, thin piece of bone or stone attached by its midpoint to a thin line. The gorge would be fixed with a bait so that it would rest parallel to the lay of the line. When a fish would swallow the bait, a tug on the line would cause the gorge to orient itself at right angles to the line, thereby sticking in the fish's gullet.
Which of the various techniques an angler may choose is dictated mainly by the target species and by its habitat. Angling can be separated into two main categories: using either artificial or natural baits.
Many people prefer to fish solely with lures, which are artificial baits designed to entice fish to strike. The artificial bait angler uses a man-made lure that may or may not represent prey. The lure may require a specialised presentation to impart an enticing action as, for example, in fly fishing. A common way to fish a soft plastic worm is the Texas Rig.
The natural bait angler, with few exceptions, will use a common prey species of the fish as an attractant. The natural bait used may be alive or dead. Common natural baits includeworms, leeches, minnows, frogs, salamanders, and insects. Natural baits are effective due to the real texture, odour and colour of the bait presented.
The common earthworm is a universal bait for fresh water angling. Grubs and maggots are also excellent bait when trout fishing. Grasshoppers, bees and even ants are also used as bait for trout in their season, although many anglers believe that trout or salmon roe is superior to any other bait. In lakes in southern climates such as Florida, USA, fish such as breamwill take bread bait. Bread bait is a small amount of bread, often moistened by saliva, balled up to a small size that is bite size to small fish.
Roe is an excellent bait for trout, salmon and many other fresh water fish.
The capture, transportation and culture of bait fish can spread damaging organisms between ecosystems, endangering them. In 2007, several American states, including Michigan, enacted regulations designed to slow the spread of fish diseases, including viral hemorrhagic septicemia, by bait fish. Because of the risk of transmitting Myxobolus cerebralis (whirling disease), trout and salmon should not be used as bait.
Anglers may increase the possibility of contamination by emptying bait buckets into fishing venues and collecting or using bait improperly. The transportation of fish from one location to another can break the law and cause the introduction of fish alien to the ecosystem.
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