My top 5 life moments, in no particular order: Getting married. Having kids. And, in 5th place, catching a monster bass with my drone. It was truly a spectacular moment.
It was a project I had brewing in my head for a while. Others had fished with a drone, but only half-heartedly. One guy caught a tiny crappie in a pond and tried to pass it off as a bass. Another couple used a drone to hook a tuna in the ocean. The video was awesome, but they really only used their drone as a kite up-rigger, and once the fish was hooked, the line detached from the drone and they reeled the fish in on a rod.
I was going all in. No worm. No small pond. Trolling a lure on a real body of water. I had tried it on several occasions on various lakes, with no success… Flew the drone around until the batteries went dead, totally fruitless. But this day was different. This day the stars aligned.
I was on the Canadian side of Lake Champlain. No clouds, sunny and warm. The green algae had subsided, if only for the day (it was back the next day). The water was calm. Trolling a jitterbug on 20 feet of 8-pound test, attached directly to the skids of the drone, I was going through the motions with no real expectations of success. I mean, the drone is noisy. It has to scare the fish. And you have to work hard to get the right action on the lure.
But with 35 percent left on the batter, that’s when it happened. The strike. The fight. For fish jumped out of the water lake a river salmon. It’s fat body slapping on the water as it landed cracked the early morning silence. I grabbed the drone midair, and pulled in the fish with my hands. Pure, unadulterated joy I had to immediately share with my family, even though it meant leaving my drone and cell phone by the lakeshore while a ran home with a 3.5 pound bass in my hand. The video tells a story that words will always fail to tell.
I edited the video together the same day, and uploaded it to the net. Had to edit out a few of the “om my gosh”, because there were too many even for me. And I’m used to me.
The Monday after I posted the video, WCAX Vermont called me for an interview. The reporters were giddy to listen to me recount in juvenile excitement the tale of how it all happened. The story aired the same day.
A week later, I was googling to see who was reporting on the story. And then I saw a follow-up story, in which WCAX was addressing the legality of what I had done. The reporters had gone from giddy to sinister, saying that after airing the story, they immediately got calls asking them if it was legal. And it turns out, in Vermont, it is not legal to use a drone to take (or attempt to take) a fish. Luckily, in Canada, above and beyond standard drone laws which don’t prohibit this, there is nothing specifically prohibiting the use of drones in fishing. In British Columbia and Saskatchewan, you can’t use a drone to assist you in hunting, but that is separate matter (since they use the drones for surveillance purposes, effectively turning one hunter into a squad of stealth scouts).
There is nothing about this “method” of drone that makes catching a fish easier. In fact, I believe it was a fluke that will never be repeated. But it does highlight the need to ask yourself the (sometimes ridiculous) question, and a question that can only make sense in a world increasingly encroached upon by government: Might this, something that is totally innocuous, be illegal in my jurisdiction?
It was not by luck that I knew the laws of my jurisdiction. Being a drone enthusiast, and knowing how drones are subject to increasingly rigorous regulations, I had done my research. But it was humorous that WCAX had gone from giddily reporting on the story, to solemnly warning their citizens not to attempt this feat in the beautiful state of Vermont.
p.s. I tried to fish with my drone again. The results were not quite as awesome. lol.