Is peek-a-boo fishing over the line?

I was watching a TV fishing show the other day and it’s a wonder the fisherman didn’t get arrested for being a Peeping Izaak Walton.

The underwater camera showed the fishes’ living room, panned the kitchen, and even sneaked a peek in the boudoir spawning area. The images were transmitted onto a screen in the boat bobbing above. The ogling angler dropped his bait smack onto the fishes’ dinner table.

It was effective – the camera followed a fish as it swam over, licked its lips, and chomped down on the wriggling minnow that had been deposited on its plate.

Effective, yes.

Sporting? I’m not so sure.

When it comes to fishing technology – specifically “electronics” — how much is too much? The techies are treading a slippery slope.

Several years ago, fishing buddy Bob Sherborne and I sprang for an electronic depth-finder. The flickering screen showed the depth of the water from surface to bottom.

We thought we were high-tech. We no longer had to wonder how deep the water was whenever Sherborne fell overboard. Also, we could use the depth-finder to locate shallows where bluegill spawned, rocky bass points, deep catfish holes.

Then along came a new model that showed not just the depth of the water but the contours of the bottom and detailed the structure such as submerged trees and stumps. As a bonus, it displayed the water temperature, barometric pressure and Dow Jones averages.

Not to be out-done, someone came out with a down-imaging sonar screen that displays individual fish right down to their size and species. It’s like looking into an aquarium: a school of 10-inch crappie is finning around an old stump row precisely 17.3 feet below. You can count the scales on their belly.

As on the TV show I recently watched, all a fisherman – using the term loosely — has to do is lower a bait down and jiggle it in front of a fish’s nose until it gets hungry/aggravated and takes a bite.

Is that fishing or playing a video game?

What’s next? Lying in bed on a chilly morning and operating a remote-controlled fishing rod installed down on the dock? A sensor beeps when you get a bite. Press a button and the fish is hooked, landed and cleaned by a robot while you’re making breakfast.

More and more, the fisherman does less and less fishing.

I’m not advocating a return to the bygone days of cane poles and JFG coffee cans filled with redworms. But it seems there should be something in-between a bent-pin fishhook and a global satellite fish-tracker.

Part of the enchantment and excitement of fishing used to be not knowing what might be lurking down in the murky depths when you cast out your bait or lure. You were literally “fishing” for a bite. No longer. Now just dial up the GPS and check the sonar screen.

Looks like Bill Gates may replace Bill Dance.