Chicago Tribune

Microfishing targets smallest fish around with pocket-sized rods and minuscule hooks

Gerry Hansell has too many worms.

Otherwise, he's well equipped for a lucky weekday afternoon spent fishing - microfishing, to be specific: the art of chasing not trophy bass or trout, but tiny species most fishermen regard as bait, if they regard them at all. Hansell's rod is so small it collapses to fit in a pocket. His hook? So minuscule as to be nearly invisible. But those worms ....

He's brought an almost embarrassing surplus, a whole cup of wigglers he retrieved from the back of his fridge, where they've been cooling their heels since a bigger fishing trip in late August. He cracks the lid of the cardboard cup and shrugs. Today he will need only a tiny chunk of flesh to bait his hook. His entire expedition won't require even one whole worm.

Luckily, worms are resilient, and these will go back to the fridge. Meanwhile, Hansell puts on his fishing hat and crosses the parking lot of a well-tamed north suburban forest preserve, headed for his fishing grounds.

Microfishing, which involves line fishing for species that rarely grow above a few inches in length, some warier and rarer than others, has been

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