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Ahab’s secret weapon

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Before he abandoned his palaces for a hole and then a cell, Saddam Hussein had a reputation for being a bit of an adrenaline junky. And it wasn’t just his penchant for torture, public executions and foreign conquest. Reportedly, he liked to unwind by spending a day fishing with mates. They would sail out to the middle of a calm, deep Mesopotamian lake, and there the dictator-in-chief would toss hand grenades overboard and wait for the fish to float to the surface.

Yes, fishing has been integral to human existence since the dawn of time. While traditionalists still prefer to give the fish an ‘old school’ sporting chance, the playing field has not been level since a bright spark introduced electricity into the equation (despite nature’s concerted effort to prevent this particular ‘synergy’).

And, of course, where there’s a will, there’s a patent.

In 1993, the US patent office issued a patent for the Electro Shock Fishing Wand. Fishing fanatics armed with these babies were in complete command of their chosen body of water. They could wade out to their waist (a la fly fishing), but instead of tantalising their dinner with well crafted casts and zen-like patience, our electrified wand-wavers with the bulky battery backpack could lower their electrodes into the water and send 1,000 volts through anything swimming past.

Tough break for the fish, but that’s fishing folks. Just ask Saddam.

The most important thing about electro fishing is you have to like your fish well done. None of this gourmet poached nonsense. That sucker’s fried! And what’s more, you’ve never felt more alive! Unless, of course, you manage to lose your footing and dunk the battery strapped to your back. Then you’re likely to be floating, too. Let’s call that a draw.

Now this is risk and reward fishing for the modern age. Who needs to go base jumping in the Andes or quail shooting with Dick Cheney? We might have harnessed nature’s most powerful elements, but we’ll never conquer our taste for natural conquest.

Critters of the world beware.

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