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Spring is an exciting time; the ice and snow finally
disappear and it's time to get the boat ready to be put back in
the water. Now is the time to use a simple checklist to help make
sure your spring boat launch is a successful one. While this checklist
is an all-purpose one for any boat, it's a good way to start your
NOTE: Now is also the right time to double check your rod holders, tackle boxes, and fishing gear for wear and tear. Click Here to Read More and Print Out a Checklist
Our lakes and river water temps are hot and a lot of tournaments are still going on throughout the country. Most organizations have rules in place that penalize anglers for bringing in dead fish to the weigh-in scales. In professional tournaments I have seen this circumstance cost anglers $100,000's of dollars. Use these simple steps to help keep your catch alive in your summer tournaments and make sure you don't miss out on a potential payday or important tournament points that help to secure a spot in your trails' year end championships.
The first step in keeping your catch alive is starting with some cool water in your live well. I like to dump at least one bag of ice into my live well to begin the day. Once I catch my first fish, I fill the well to the top and place my controls on recirculation. This enables me to keep my live well water cooler than the lake water the fish are coming from. This helps immediately with stress and begins to create a comfortable place for the fish to be throughout my tournament day. I generally carry 3 more bags of ice for the fish throughout the day. I like to split my day into 3 segments when using the rest of the ice. I like to keep at least two of the bags available for after the afternoon time frame because that's when it's the hottest and the fish are most vulnerable.
If it is extremely hot, then I will also make myself aware of locations on the lake where I may be able to pick up more ice throughout the day.
The second most important aspect is using some additive to your live well. There are lots of good products on the market; Rejuvenate www.bassmedics.com, Catch-And-Release www.sure-life.com, and U2 Pro Formula www.keepfishalive.com, are just a few. These are must have supplements to help keep your catch lively for weigh-in time.
The final aspect you must be aware of in your fish care for both summer and winter months is the effects of pulling fish from deep water. Many fish that are pulled from 20+ feet of water need to be monitored shortly after placed in the live well to detect of the fishes air bladder has expanded and potentially needs to be adjusted to accommodate its confinement in the live well. This process of removing some air from the fish’s bladder is called fizzing. If anglers don't fizz these deeply caught fish then they are almost certainly to die prior to the weigh-in at the end of the day. You should check out this full video from Texas Parks and Wildlife about fizzing fish on YouTube
How many times have you made a cast, reeled in your slack line, and then all of a sudden you feel a bump, then BAM! You try to set your hook but you miss the fish? Sound familiar? Trust me; this happens to anglers all the time. I can't tell you how many times this occurs, especially while observing my 3-day students and charter clients. Most of them just can't figure out why they keep missing fish when they're getting the strikes. Don't feel bad if this sounds like you, but I was also an angler that did exactly the same thing for many years, in fact I was probably the worst at pre-setting a hook.
Setting the hook to early and missing fish don't just happen when fishing plastics on the bottom either. How many times have you thrown a top water lure, then all of a sudden a fish jumps on it and you JERK THE ROD! Just to miss the fish again. Hey, it happens all the time, especially on the surface because it's visual and probably the most exciting way to fish for bass.
There are certain times when using different baits that you want to set the hook immediately, and then on the other side of the coin, there are certain times when you don't want to set the hook too quickly. In this article I will try to help you understand a little more on the hook setting techniques when using a variety of different baits.
Since top water fishing is the most exciting to most anglers I will start with this type of fishing. One of my favorite top water baits happens to be a Zara Spook. This bait is probably (in my own opinion) one of the best "big bass" baits that has ever been made. Problem: Unfortunately, the only problem that I use to have with this bait is that I would make a cast, watch it hit the water, then as soon as it hit the water, immediately a fish would jump all over the bait (before I even had a chance to start working it) and seeing this happen I would immediately SET THE HOOK. Wow, I can't even try to tell how many fish I would lose by doing this.
Remedy: Now, after several years later and hundreds of fish missed by doing this I finally realized what I was doing wrong. I was just too impatient and way to quick on the draw when it came to setting the hook. I found that if you let the fish take the bait and wait until you feel the pressure of the fish before setting the hook you won't loose a fraction of the fish that you would miss otherwise. This technique will apply to most all top water baits including; poppers, prop baits, floating worms, jerk baits (hard and soft), and the best of all of course, the Zara Spook. Now, there is an exception to this rule if using certain baits such as a buzz bait, sometimes frogs (while swimming), or any action baits that you normally would work with a steady motion you would set the hook quickly.
Next, we will cover the "in-between"(sub surface, but not bottom) types of baits like the spinner bait, crank bait, swimming plastics, and action baits.
First, let's cover a crankbait. I have missed a good many fish in the past while fishing a crankbait because I wanted to set the hook to quickly (nothing wrong with that?), but what I didn't realize was that I wasn't using the right tool for the application. What I mean when mentioning the right tool is that I was using a rod that was too stiff, and when I would try to set the hook I would usually miss the fish because I didn't have enough flex in my rod causing the bait to break loose. You have to remember that most (not all) but most crank baits have little treble hooks, and these little treble hooks don't allow a lot of penetration. So after losing many fish over the years fishing crank baits I finally thought to myself 'DUH! Use a more flexible rod'. So I decided to get myself a very flexible rod for fishing a crankbait with those little treble hooks on them (they do make rods, especially for crank baits you know) and the problem was solved.
Spinnerbaits are a story of their own. When fishing a spinnerbait, keep in mind that it (normally) has only one hook, and usually the hook is a big one. This means that when fishing with a spinnerbait and using the "Chunk and Wind" (or cast and retrieve) technique, when you feel a fish hit the bait you need to SET THE HOOK! Do it quickly to penetrate the hook into the fish for a good hook set. The best rod for this type of application is a medium heavy action with some backbone. When using lighter action rods with single hook baits, the stronger set the better because the lighter actions have much more flexibility and you need to penetrate the hook as best as you can.. Now, most anglers prefer the "Chunk and Wind" technique when using a spinner bait, but what they don't know is that a spinner bait can be worked at least six ways (very successfully) other than just the "Chunk and Wind" technique. A couple of these techniques really don't require a very quick set, but again that's another story.
When swimming plastic baits and using action baits with single hooks, again, use a stiffer type of rod and set as soon as you feel a strike. Action baits along with spinner baits and swimming plastics are all quick reaction bites and you usually won&' get another chance to set once a fish grabs it.
Let's move on to some of the bottom fishing baits. Plastic worms, crawls, centipedes, just to name a few, are normally fished with single hooks either Texas rigged, Carolina rigged, Mo-Jo rigged, Mo-Wak rigged (which happens to be my own technique I came up with), the Drop Shot rig and the Wacky rig. This means once again that you may want a stiffer type of rod and a good hook set because of using the single hook. The best way I learned to successfully set the hook using some of these baits is to let the fish put a little pressure on your line before setting the hook. This technique is where most of my former students and charter clients have had the worst time catching fish because they had a tendency to set very quickly as soon as they felt a bite. After teaching them to reel in the slack and lift the rod tip, just putting enough pressure to feel a fish, and then setting the hook, most of them have been much more consistent and successful at catching instead of missing the fish. One very important thing I must mention is that when lifting your rod tip for the feel of the fish, NEVER! EVER! tip the rod down and back up when setting the hook. This causes a quick slack in your line and more times than not you will lose the fish.
If you feel you may wish to learn more about bass fishing with my 3-day bass fishing school, or just want to charter a day on the water, please feel free to call me at (518) 597-4240 or go to my website at www.basscoachfishing.com or just drop me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The advent of catch-and-release has been great for the sport of fishing. It has
literally re-cycled fish/opportunity for other anglers. However,
there is a proper method to returning fish to the water after you
catch them, that assures the fish's chances of survival.
Here are some basic tips:
NOTE: For the same reason the use of dip nets is not encouraged with fish you plan to release. And if you do use nets, those with rubber webbing seem to be less harmful in this regard than those made of twine.
The above image depicts the most commonly used
measurements for fish.The total length is the maximum length of
the fish with the mouth closed and the tail fin pinched together.
The best way to obtain this length is to push the fish's snout up
against a vertical surface with the mouth closed and the fish laying
along a tape measure, then pinch the tail fin closed and determine
the total length, DO NOT pull a flexible tape measure along the
curve of the fish.
Conversely, most marine (saltwater) regulations refer to the "fork length", and scientists often use "standard length" which is to the end of the fleshy part of the body. "Standard length" has the advantage of not being affected by minor damage to the tail fin, nor does it give too much credit to a fish for the relatively light weight tail when calculating a fish's condition.
"Girth" is best measured with a fabric ruler, such as tailors use. It can also be determined by drawing a string around the fish at its widest point marking where the string overlaps and then measuring the distance between the overlapping points on a conventional ruler. Knowing the girth is important when trying to certify a fish for a record, and provides useful information to biologists about the relative condition of a fish.
Using total length and girth you can get a rough estimate of a fish's weight using various formulas.
Length-Weight Formulas to Estimate Fish Weights:
Log (weight in grams)= -4.83 + 1.923 x Log (total length in millimeters) + 1.157 x Log (girth in millimeters).
Image and information courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Duane Ravers, Jr.
Murphy’s Law- If it can go wrong, it will
go wrong. We’ve all heard it before and experienced it at
one time or another. I’m not certain just who the infamous
Mr. Murphy was, but I do know this, he’s not welcome in my
boat, ever. A saying I’m prone to use is “Luck favors
those who prepare”. While I didn’t coin the phrase,
I certainly agree with what it is implying. If you’ve ever
experienced an equipment failure out on the water, you remember
how it affected your game plan. It may have cost you the tournament
jackpot or maybe you had to be towed back to the ramp. How often
was it a simple fix that made you say to yourself “Man, if
only I had a widget, I’d be back in action”? Lets look
at some items that could potentially save the day.
Fuses - keep a pack of the same ampere rating as those in your fish-finder and any other electrical items (livewell timer, nav lights etc.)
Spark plugs - Keep one or two pre-gapped plugs on hand. I have a two-stroke and I sometimes go a little heavy on the oil, risking a fouled plug.
Spare Propellers - This is the most costly item in the kit, but consider its value out on the water. Lose or destroy a prop and the day is done. I have been on both ends of the towrope. Spend enough time on the water and so will you. Keep both a trolling motor and outboard prop onboard.
Shear Pins - These are too vital (and cheap) not to carry. The funny thing is I’ve never had one do its job. If you’re unfamiliar with a shear pin, it’s the little pin that goes through your propeller shaft and propeller seats against. The purpose of this pin is to shear or break when the prop strikes and object hard enough to damage the prop. I started carrying only shear pins, since they’ve never worked; I’ve added the spare props.
Starter rope - These rarely fail without neglect on your part. You should replace it once it begins to show signs of fraying. Next time you see a lawnmower in the trash, stop and cut off it’s starter rope. It’s free and it works.
Basic tools - I keep a #1 flathead and Phillips screwdriver, spark plug wrench, crescent wrench, pliers, emery cloth, electrical tape, small can of WD-40 and a few miscellaneous hardware items (cotter pins, solderless connectors, wing nuts, washers etc.) onboard as well.
Storage- All of the previous mentioned tools and parts fit into an empty Army surplus .50 caliber ammo can with room to spare. The can is waterproof, durable, requires minimal space and weighs only a few pounds.
Rod repair kit - I keep a Fuji rod repair kit on hand. It has 5 or 6 different size rod tips, and some ferrule cement to install them.
Reel repair kit - I keep some oil and grease along with some small screwdrivers. I also have a small vial of screws and washers from old reels. I do not carry spare reels with me. Be sure to have some spare mono on hand too. You never know when the “bird’s nest” will appear.
Drain plug - Mine is fastened to my trailer’s tie-down strap. That way I CANNOT launch my boat without noticing it. You may laugh, but I’ve seen more than one boat launched and sink before anyone noticed. I keep a spare in my glove box just because of the vital role (and cheap cost) this item has.
Spare bulbs - Carry spares for your trailer in the glove box. The cost of these is negligible when compared to a traffic ticket. I found that if I unplug my trailer’s lights just prior to launch, I rarely ever have to replace a bulb.
Vehicle and trailer tires - Check the condition of your spares periodically. Check the compatibility of your vehicle’s jack and lug wrench with your trailer. Waiting until you have a flat is not the time to discover your trailer’s lugs are different than the tow vehicles.
Barring catastrophic failure, these items will keep you out on the water until you want to come home.
There are many different ways to fillet a Striper. We feel this method yields the best tasting meat. When cooking in a foil packet, you need the skin and dark meat removed. I also think that if you ice the rockfish well, and fillet it as soon as possible in this manner, it maintains better flavor.
1. I highly recommend that you wear a steel mesh glove. I had to have an operation and 3 months of therapy before I learned this step.
2. Make sure your knife is sharp. If you are going to skin the fish, you do not need to scale it. Simply rinse the fish and make your first cut along the edge of the head down to the backbone.
|3. Cut along the dorsal fin starting at the head, holding the blade edge tight against the backbone.|
4. Continue until you reach the tail. The cut along the backbone should be about half way to the lateral line of the fish at this time.
|5. Turn the fish over. (It is easier if you get both sides started before completing either side.) Make the cut along the head on this side the same as step 2.|
|6. Cut along the dorsal fin and backbone on this side the same as step 3.|
|7. Continue to the tail the same as step 4.|
|8. Using the forward curved part of your blade, slide it along the backbone until it reaches the skin at the tail end of the fish and until it reaches the ribs on the head end of the fish.|
|9. Slide the blade part of the way up the ribs on the head end of the fish. Then cut the skin pulling the fillet away from the fish. Do not cut the skin where it is attached to the tail.|
|10. Flip the fillet over the tail, using the attached skin to help hold the fillet stationary. Position the fillet at the edge of a cutting table, so that the knife blade can be held parallel to the table with part of your hand below the table.|
|11. Slide your knife blade along the fillet maintaining slight downward pressure on the forward part of your blade to keep from leaving too much meat on the skin.|
|<12. Turn the fillet over with the side that was attached to the skin up.|
|13. Cut along the dark meat all the way to the cutting board. Be careful to follow the dark meat closely to not lose the white meat.|
|14. Cut the same way along the other side of the dark meat.|
|15. Your fillet will now be in two pieces.Trim the remaining dark meat that you missed from the fillet.|
|16. Repeat steps 8 thru 16 to finish filleting the other side of the fish.|
To keep that fresh taste without freezing for a few days before cooking:
a. Wash the striped bass fillets good and put them in a sealable refrigerator bag.
b. Place the sealed bag in a bowl, covering the fillets with water.
c. Fill the bowl the rest of the way with ice cubes, making sure the bag is completely covered with ice.
d. Place in the refrigerator. Replace ice as it melts.Click Here for Fish Recipes
Keeping a record of your catches can help you improve your angling skills by allowing you to spot patterns and determine which baits work best for different itmes of the year.
When it comes to bass fishing, boat positioning
is probably just as important as having your rods and reels on board
with you. Using your boat properly while bass fishing can definitely
make the difference between catching bass or not catching bass,
especially when certain circumstances prevail during the course
of the time spent on the water. For example, let's say that you
were fishing for bedding bass during the Spring. Many anglers are
aware of the sensitivity nature of the bass during this time of
the year, they can be very skittish and frighten (or you can spook
them) very easily right? Now, you certainly wouldn't want to motor
the boat right up on top of the beds and scare the bass before you
had a chance to fish for them would you? of course not! In this
article I hope to help you understand the importance of boat positioning
by giving you a few scenarios that many anglers encounter during
the course of their time they spend on the water.
Many of my Bass Fishing School students are amazed when I teach them the importance of boat positioning, especially when they're actually shown How and Why one would position his or her boat a certain way while learning to fish the many different environments offered by many bodies of water through out the nation. As important as I feel this subject is, I always teach my students and even my bass charter clients how and why I would position my boat certain ways when fishing: drop-offs, fall-downs, gradual slopes, rip-rap, steep bluffs, current conditions, vegetation, channel contours, rocky areas, points, windy conditions, etc. just to name a few, and when the students and charter clients begin to start understanding the whys and hows of boat positioning, they can't help but to increase their angling skills, confidence, and ability to become better anglers.
Fishing beds - Now, let's go back and start with the Spring beds (or Spring bedding bass.) Many anglers that fish bedding bass usually will have trouble fishing them because they really don't understand how to approach these beds when they do find them. There are several factors one might consider before making a approach before fishing these bedding bass such as; what the daily conditions are (sunny, overcast, windy, calm), what the water depth is, how much vegetation (and types of vegetation) is in the area of the beds, what types of structure or obstacles may be in these areas (such as rocks, pilings, docks, etc.) and there are more, but lets just take a few of these factors I just mentioned and try to draw a picture of why boat positioning would play an important role when it comes to fishing beds.
Click Here to Read More on Boat Positioning
from the website "Animated Knots by Grog"
knots are designed to be tied in monofilament line and to run through
the eyes and rings of a fishing rod or rig. Compared to rope, fishing
line is cheap.
The emphasis for fishing knots is on compactness and reliability with no interest in being able to untie them.
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