This picture is a good example of how the basic squirrel fishing model works. It’s best to find a fairly open space with enough room to walk around a bit. We stayed away from a group of ne’er do-well hippie hooligans who were playing games, as they were likely to inadvertently interfere with our fishing agenda. Keep in mind that squirrels often live in public places, so it might take time to find a secluded area. Trust me, though: it’s worth it in the long run. It doesn’t matter if people are somewhat close (see the man in the picture). Once they see what you’re doing, they tend to keep their distance.
There are two ways to go about casting a line. Evan opted to use his line sans rod, using a key to weigh the end down. This method was what I initially tried, but on my first cast, I wasn’t holding on to the string tightly enough. A squirrel grabbed the bait and began to run away. I chased the squirrel in an effort to regain my equipment, but he was too quick for me. I wound up falling on my arse and slipping in the grass. Chattering, the squirrel ran up a tree and defiantly nibbled on the nut. After a considerable amount of work, I was able to reclaim my fishing gear, but I decided to create a makeshift fishing rod.
Just be sure to select a sturdy twig and tie the line tightly around the end. I wouldn’t suggest using an actual fishing rod and reel, as that could cause problems with ornery park rangers who do not appreciate the fine art of squirrel fishing. Plus, a shorter pole allows greater contact with your friends the squirrels, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
Form and Technique:
Here, Evan demonstrates how to effectively lure the squirrel. Notice his slight crouch and bent knees. This position says to the squirrel, “Hello, squirrelie! I am your friend! I’m not a big scary human – I’m a nice human who wants to meet you!” The squirrel, though hesitant, will approach slowly. It’s important to refrain from sudden or jerky movements; this will frighten the squirrel, who usually scampers up a tree.
I’ve found that the human voice is music to a squirrel’s ears. Squirrels seem to be entranced by a soft coo or a gentle greeting. Evan and I took different approaches to the vocal lure.
Me: “Oh, hello, lovey! Hello, squirrelie! Oh, come HERE, I have a lovely treat for you, sweetie! Come on, lovey! That’s nice!”
Evan: “C’mere. C’mere, bub.”
You can guess who the squirrels came to see first.
Zen and the Art of Squirrel Fishing Maintenance:
Assuming that the aforementioned steps were maintained, a happy little squirrel should be within reach. But the rodent does not yet trust the human; the squirrel is by nature a skeptical creature, and he requires careful surveillance.
Gauge the squirrel’s temperment. Research has shown that squirrels may appear to be relaxed, but if they turn their backs to you or fluff their tail, they are not completely prepared to relax. You can help to de-stress your squirrel by being patient and tempting it with the bait. Eventually, the squirrel will become so intoxicated with the nut that he will overcome his fears.
Watch the squirrel and get to know his style. Some squirrels are skittish and jumpy; these tend to be the thinner, smaller ones. On the other end of the spectrum lie the chubby squirrels, who tend to be less inhibited when it comes to approaching humans. Go for the roly-poly ones. They’re friendlier, and fat for a reason.
As this picture illustrates, it’s fairly simple to bring the animal near you. Nuts entice the squirrel, rendering him under your spell. The larger the nut, the closer the squirrel.
Capturing the Creature:
Jackpot! We’ve caught a squirrel!
If the bait is tied securely to the string, then you should be able to play a bit with your catch. Try playing the classic tug-of-war game. Or pull the bait up with your pole, watching as the squirrel toddles about on his hind legs. These variations are always amusing and adorable.
Keep in mind, though, that teasing the squirrel too much will result in frustration for the little tree rat. After a bit, it’s important to give the squirrel what he wants, and that’s the nut. Sometimes they are clever enough to bite the nut off the string, in which case you will just tie a new nut to your equipment. However, this does not always happen, and on occasion you should just toss out a nut to the squirrel. Yes, it’s giving away nuts for free, but it wouldn’t be fair to just taunt the squirrel. In addition, giving the squirrel a nut will help create a special bond of trust between human and animal.
Once you’ve caught the squirrel, you should appreciate the fine features of his appearance. Take time to notice his cute little nose and his plump, furry belly. As he looks at you, his paws curling around the nut, know that this is your reward for your work in squirrel fishing.
The Joy of Squirrel Fishing:
Look, it’s a happy and satisfied squirrel! And it’s all because of squirrel fishing, the sport of the future.
For more information on squirrel fishing, please visit Yasuhiro Endo, who inspired our adventures.