By Wendy Langhans
When it comes to fishing, I am the laughing stock of my family. My father and brother are avid outdoorsmen, so fishing is second nature to them. My mother loved to fish, and she often took my sister and I with her. So I learned how to bait a hook; I learned how to watch bobbers for the telltale nibble. But, for the life of me, I could never learn how to set the hook. More often that not, the fish got away. I was a total fishing failure.
“It’s simple,” I was told too many times to count. You “set the hook” when you “feel the weight of the fish.” But somehow that didn’t make sense. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I assumed fish bit into a worm like I bit into an apple. I’d been taught table manners; I didn’t “wolf my food down.” I chewed my food, using my tongue to keep the food in position between my upper and lower teeth. I kept my mouth closed and when I was done chewing, I swallowed.
But a recent story in ScienceDaily  made me rethink my assumptions about fish. According to researchers at Brown University, mammals and fish do not chew the same way: “Mammals use tongue muscles to position the food, so that jaw muscles can best use teeth to chew the food.” But fish use their tongues in a different way: “fish use tongue muscles primarily to funnel the food farther into the mouth.” In other words, mammals push the food forward, while fish use their tongues to “thrust the food backwards.”
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To see how mammals chew, here’s a video  of a cow and her calf, exercising their jaw and tongue muscles. Not necessarily good table manners, but it gets the job done.
To see fish chewing, check out this video  from the Brown University website.
When I saw that fish video, I had an “AH HA” moment! Maybe - “feeling the weight” occurs when the fish begins to thrust the bait (and hook) backwards with it’s tongue? Just maybe - THAT’S when you set the hook? It’s a theory that’s worth testing.
I’ll be travelling next week to Wisconsin next week to see my Dad. Our family is gathering to celebrate his 90th birthday. Perhaps while I’m there, I’ll ask him if we can go fishing.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, July 16th, 8:00 - 10:00 AM, Summer Birds at Towsley Canyon. Beat the heat of the day on this early morning stroll. We check out the local residents to see what’s up in the neighborhood. Beginning birders are welcome. Binoculars optional for this easy walk. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot. For directions and trail maps, click here .
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at email@example.com  for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, July 6, 13, 20, 27.
Saturday mornings, July 9 & 23.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The SCV Outdoor Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
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