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A New Sport Takes Hold: The Zen & Art of Squirrel Fishing


-Emily Fraysse

Yes, you did read that right.

While the origin remains uncertain, the sport of Squirrel Fishing has been growing in popularity the past five years. What it ultimately entails is the challenge of “catching” a squirrel by attempting to lift it off the ground using some type of bait (usually a nut, preferably a peanut) that has been tied to a fishing line or string. The nut represents the strong bond that is developed between human and animal.

This abnormal activity has been practiced all over the states from Harvard University to the University of California at Berkeley to Penn State.

A woman named Annie started a website demonstrating the exact skills and equipment needed to perform this odd hobby. With the aid of labeled photographs, Annie states in the first step that, “a happy little squirrel should be within reach.” She warns that since squirrels are often found in public places, you must take the time to find a secluded area— it’s worth it!

For your makeshift or purchased fishing line, be sure that it is not too long. Annie nails the point by saying, “a shorter pole allows greater contact with your friends the squirrels, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?”

When on the hunt, remember to slightly crouch with bent knees. Although the squirrel may be in a guarded position, this semi-non-threatening approach will make the squirrel much more comfortable with coming up to you. Since squirrels are skeptical and skittish by nature, the guarded behavior is to be expected. Be patient—if their backs are turned or they fluff their tails, then they are not ready to be fished for. Annie’s advice is to go for the fat ones because they tend to be friendly and are slower runners. But make sure you have the arm strength to pick it up! Eventually the determination and lure of the nut will be so enticing that he will eventually succumb to the kernel.

Playing tug-of-war, pull up the bait slowly as the squirrel grasps to it, completely under the nut’s spell. The reward of this fine activity happens after the tree-crawler is lifted off the ground with his little stubby legs flailing in the air. Notice his beady black eyes, cute little belly, and sweet nose. After admiring the poor creature, let him have the prize, and continue on with your day!