Profile - Michael Hsiao - The Path to Becoming a Fisherman

Today is my friend Mike's birthday. It was a pleasure meeting and fishing with him this year, and I'm sure I will fish with him much more next year! So, it's with all my heart and soul that I dedicate this post to him: the story of a great fishing journey based on his comments and his past - Mike Hsiao's "fishing portfolio". Isn't it curious to know how one actually becomes a passionate and artistic fisherman?

Note: the pictures are not coherent with the portfolio's timeline. It just happened that the blogger website is not very good with picture posting options. Also, please, do not mind the structure of the text. Blogger is also very bad with that configuration!

Discovery is an exciting factor in every one's life when it comes to finding new passions. People may discover it in different ways, but it's through the acquisition of new knowledge that all of their hobbies come. Take fishing, for example: it is a passion that may be passed from father to son; shown by a friend; or sometimes discovered by mere curiosity. Many people start their fishing through one of these ways, but soon they turn it into a hobby instead of a passion - an action that can be practiced sometimes, for fun... a few, though, decide to follow the sport with determination and love - that's when fishing turns out to be a sport (sometimes even obsession) and art instead of just amusement. This is where Mike Hsiao stands: in the path of becoming an expert fisherman.

In order to be a fisherman that lives for the sport, two factors are essential: to have love for Mother Nature; and the disposition, curiosity, and open-mindedness to always try something new. Mike didn't lack any of those, even when he was a kid. At age of four, he was already astonished by the different sized creatures shown in the National Geographic episodes. At the age of five, he was already out in the nature, hunting and seeing different species of animals. His surroundings helped him develop his curiosity even more, hence he lived around woods and ponds in Montgomery County, MD.

It was around seven years old that he got introduced to the fabulous World of fishing, like many other children in this country were: through his father. After that, his interest in fishing became high. In addition to his other wildlife hobbies, he would fish the pond next to his house several times a month, targeting the Sunnies. His Bluegill adventures lasted for a couple years; however, things changed one day.

It happened when he was ten years old, while he was fishing for Bluegills at the same pond he always fished at. His neighbor Jay came over, and started fly fishing at the pond. The little boy, Mike, was awed by the gracefulness of that new technique - right in front of his eyes. Although he was content to see a new fishing style, his admiration for fly fishing soon turned into fascination, when Jay landed a 1.5lb Largemouth Bass RIGHT in front of him. Minutes after, Jay landed the biggest fish that ten-year-old ever saw in his life: a 3lb+, 20 inches Largemouth Bass. Mike couldn't believe his own eyes! He had been fishing that pond for years, not even knowing that those beasts were actually in it! He followed Jay home, watching him put the Bass in his tank. Then, even more surprised, he watched a phenomenal event - the big fish had literally eaten the smaller fish, which was half the original size of the big one. Mike was extremely amazed by watching the tail of the smaller fish hanging outside of bigger one's mouth, without believing that a fish could eat another fish that was half its size. It was after those events that he became very interested in Bass fishing - a passion that would be buried in his heart, never dying for the years to come.

Unfortunately, he stayed in his home-town for only six months after those events. After several fishing trips, he wasn't able to catch a single Bass from that pond. His obsession for Bass came after his first catch, when he was eleven years old. His family moved to Ellicott City, MD, and he came to find that there were several bodies of water around his house. All of them held Bass!

His first Bass came during a family event at Centennial Lake - a man-made lake that was five minutes away from his house. Soon, his mother had the first Bass. Mike was extremely jealous of her catch, and even more determined to catch his own fish. After fifteen minutes, the unexpected happened: he cast his rig with a float and a juicy nightcrawler on it, soon to be pushed underwater. He reeled in excited, feeling the weight of his first monster, which turned out to be a healthy 12 inches Bass. He was rewarded with his first Bass, and happy for his accomplishment. It was after that experience that the World had gained another fisherman obsessed with Bass fishing.

As an innovative kid, Mike soon switched from living bait to artificial lures. According to him, he enjoyed catching a fish with a lure because he felt that he truly outsmarted the fish. For some fisherman, it's the thrill of fooling the instincts of the fish that bring the excitement in the sport. However, Hsiao was very unsuccessful at the beginning of his lure career. His first lure was a 3 inch hula popper, which looked quite promising. He admitted that he never got anything on that. In the following years, he was still not successful, but he was motivated more and more about catching a Largemouth Bass on an artificial lure.

At the age of 13, the Plastic Worm had turned to be one of his favorite artificial lures. He became very skilled in throwing it in shaded areas around the Lake, and mastered the twitches and waiting time to induce strikes. As he matured in the fishing sport, his arsenal of lures increased, as well as his expertise.

During his teenage years, he was already dominating the Centennial Lake. He would ride his bike down with his 2-pieced rod, hunting the Bass all around summer. His favorite lure at that time became the Rattle Trap, which he would use constantly all around the lake. It was with the same lure that he landed his personal best of that time, on a cold November day. He managed to throw his lure thirty yards ahead, following a steady retrieve. After a couple seconds or so, the lure bumped into a sunken tree, getting "snagged" on a branch. For his surprise, the branch started swimming! That's when he realized that he had hooked up a lunker, a Bass of "a life time".

The Largemouth Bass came out to be 5lb and 10oz, 23 inches long. It was by far his personal best at that time of his life.

Around the age of seventeen, discovery took role in Mike's life once again. He discovered the wonders of Tennis, and buried his Bass fishing passion deeply inside his heart. His father was an accomplished tennis player in his youth, so it was easy for Hsiao to follow his steps. He had never played Tennis until his Junior year, and he was absolutely thrilled by it. Trained by his father, he made great accomplishments in his high school time, being number one by senior year.

His new fishing Chapter came in recently, during January of this year. He transferred to a certain University in Philadelphia, finally leaving MD. When he first entered his University, his goal was to continue his Tennis training, and getting inside the University's official Tennis team. However, around June of the same year, his passion for fishing aroused once again.

As he read through this blog, his fascination emerged once again. With the rumored 40 species running the Schuylkill River, he made sure to bring his fishing rods from MD. Soon he was catching dozens of Catfish at the Schuylkill River, ranging between 2-7lbs. However, his passion for Catfish died shortly, hence he was a lure-casting fisherman at heart. What his soul was really craving for was the tension of fishing Bass!

During his first trip to the Fairmount Dam, which he read in many articles to be famous for Striped Bass fishing, he caught his first Striped Bass - a solid 3lb, 20 inches on his favorite lure, the rattle trap. It fought much harder than any Catfish he ever caught, and he was hooked once again in the delightful World of fishing. Besides losing many lures at the Fairmount Dam, and catching only one fish that day, he was still very excited for his new Personal Best. Since that day, his expertise at the Fairmount Dam is unbeatable. His catches range between 3-7lbs, having a personal best of 10lbs, 32inches Striped Bass. Also, he caught many Walleyes out of the same location!

His passion for Largemouth Bass was high. He participated in two tournaments on the Northeast River in Maryland, finishing in 6Th out of fourteen, with 4 Bass (11.24lb total); and 4Th out of nine, with 5 bass (7.5lb total). He also explored the FDR park in South Philadelphia, and constantly caught Bass out of the Lakes, his PB being 2.5lb, 16inches over there.

This is just the beginning of Mike Hsiao's fishing portfolio in Philadelphia. As next year comes, many more adventures will emerge, and many more PBs will appear. As a fisherman, Mike had a wonderful childhood, and his determination and passion are top quality. Mike will move on... and so will his life as a fisherman.


Pic1: Largemouth caught in MD, a couple weeks ago.

Pic2: MH's Tackle boxes.

Pic3: MH's PB at FDR Park, in Philadelphia.

Pic4: Striped Bass caught at the Fairmount Dam.

Pic5: MH at tournament in MD.



Happy Birthday, Mike! I'll be seeing you next year in Maryland, for some amazing fishing adventures!

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.


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