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63 Years Ago in Texas Game and Fish

How wartime technology altered the future of fishing.

By Jon Lucksinger

Many great scientific leaps were made during World War II, but back in June of 1944, Texas Game and Fish was interested in just one of them: radar. Though the technology had only been made (somewhat) portable around 1941, and was not publicly available, the Fish and Wildlife Service had already tested its effectiveness on fish.

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From the June 1944 issue of Texas Game and Fish:

Anglers… Get Ready for Radar

A fishing trip after the war is going to be a major expedition if we are to believe the latest dope coming out of the laboratories of the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

At present someone mentions a fishing trip. Into the back of the car go the rods, fly and bait box, and perhaps a pan or two. And in a few minutes you are out on a lake trying to entice a nice fat and sassy bass to strike at your lure. Sometimes your patience is rewarded; more often, it isn’t.

But after the war — well, it’s going to be a different story. Even the rankest amateur fisherman will be coming home with all the fish the law will allow him to catch. No more stops at the fish market on the way home after a fruitless expedition for a nice mess of fish. No more alibis to think up to explain just why your lure didn’t hold some enchantment for at least one fish. No more blaming the weather, or what have you, for the failure of Mr. Bass to toy with what you have chosen to ease him out of the water and into a frying pan.

Up to now the odds have been with Mr. and Mrs. Bass. But after the war, Mr. Bass isn’t going to have a tinker’s chance of playing you for a sucker. No, indeed. You are going to cast for Mr. Bass and he is going to get himself all tangled up in your hook and line. Radar is the answer.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says that experiments have proved that fish can be located with radar — that radar can tell you the direction in which the fish are going, their approximate number and the speed at which they are traveling. With radar at your disposal, then what chance has Mr. or Mrs. Bass got to be out when you call at their home?

This mention of locating and catching your fish by radar also brings up some other possibilities. For instance, is there a fisherman so craven that he will go out to his favorite lake with just a radar set on his back and a book of instructions in his pocket?

No, the fisherman of the future will leave his home in a jeep. At the lake he will transfer to an LST — the abbreviation for a landing ship tank — and proceed out on the lake. He will set up his radar set, and read a few last minute instructions. When the radar has located the bass family and has determined just where the family is going and how, but not why, the fisherman will bait his hook or select what he believes is the proper lure, and cast it into the water. Then he will sit back, pick up a copy of Vernon’s annotated stat-utes, giving complete information on Texas’ vast and conflicting fishing regulations, take a squint at the barometer and probably take a sip or two from the jug if the barometer reading is right. The jug is optional.

Within an hour or so, he will have his limit of bass and the journey home begins — a smile on his face, a heart that threatens to burst into song, all because fishing was good. Thanks to radar.

Editor’s note: This is the first installment in an eight-part series commemorating the 65th anniversary of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine (formerly Texas Game and Fish).

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