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Setting the Hook The Key to Landing more Fish By Gary Howey

  It’s said that a definition of a fisherman is a jerk on one end of a line waiting for a jerk on the other end.

  You know there’s some truth to that statement!  If you don’t jerk or set the hook properly, you’re going to do a whole lot of jerking, not much catching and then feel like a jerk when you miss the fish.

  It’s happened to all of us, you feel a tug or a little extra weight on the end of your line and you instantly jerk back, which at times works out well!

  There can be quite a bit of difference when and how to set the hook and a lot of it depends on what you’re fishing for, what action rod you’re using and what type line you have on your reel.

  Let’s look at it from the fish’s point of view?  The fish is just lying on or near the bottom when along comes a tasty looking morsel, in this case a jig with a minnow. He  glides up to it, looks it over, decides it’s just what he’s looking for, flares his gills, sucking the bait in only to have it jerked out of the side of his mouth.

  What’s wrong with this picture?  Well to begin with the best place to hook a fish is in the top of the fish’s mouth, the boney part of its mouth, not in the side where there‘s very little bone and a whole lot of soft skin.

  So when you set the hook it’s best to pull straight up, because you have a better chance that your hook will penetrate the top of the mouth.  If you pull to the side, you’re more apt to pull the hook away from the fish or hook him in the soft tissue in the side of the mouth where it can easily pull out.

  If you’re using a live bait rig or jig and feel a fish pick up your bait, your best bet for a good hook set is to reel up the slack line eliminating any bow in your line.  Once you feel the weight of the fish on your line bring the rod tip straight up not side ways, forcing the hook into the top of the fish’s mouth.

The way you set the hook is extremely important with crappies as their mouth is paper thin on the side and a hook set to the side may result in the hook tearing through the side of the mouth.

  By reeling up the slack line, you’re removing the bow in your line, shortening the distance between the end of your rod and the hook, allowing you to drive your hook home with less effort.

  This is especially important if you’re using monofilament line because mono has a tremendous amount of stretch. In order to set the hook using mono, not only do you have to use enough force to penetrate the hard, bony top of the fish’s mouth, you also have to pull hard enough to make up for the stretch in the line.

  If you’re using one of the super lines like Fireline and Spider Wire, it’s a completely different story.

  To get the inside scoop on these super lines and how to fish them different, I contacted Berkley, the manufacturers of both Fireline and Spider Wire.

According to the folks at Berkley, “you’re going to have to fish super lines differently than you will mono since super lines have no stretch.

  If you fish Fireline or Spider Wire the same way you fish mono, you’re going to end up pulling the bait away from or tear it out of the fish’s mouth.”

  For walleye fishing, they recommend a rod with a fast, limber tip as this takes the place of the stretch in the mono, giving you a little give when you set the hook.

 

  When fishing for Bass, Pike and Muskie, you’re going to want to go to a moderate action rod which not only gives you a little give when you set the hook into these hard hitting, hard charging fish. The heavier rod will have enough backbone to drive the hook home and be able to bring them to the boat.

  This is especially true in current as you need to be quick with your hook set, but not so quick that you rip the bait from the fish.”

  If you’re fishing super lines in shallow water, it’s a good idea to go with a Medium Light rod.  In medium depths a Medium rods will work well and when you’re fishing water deeper than 25”, he’d recommend using a Medium Heavy rod.

  With super lines, you let the rod set the hook and that’s why a quicker tip rod works well.

The main thing you need to remember to become a more consistent catcher and not a jerker is to make sure that you reel up all the slack line once you feel a bite, that bring your rod tip straight up, driving the hook into the top of the fish’s mouth.

  If you set your hook to the side, more times than not, you’ll pull the bait away from the fish or tear the hook through the soft tissue on the side of the fish’s mouth.

  By keeping a tight line, you’re going to detect more bites and by setting the hook by bringing your rod straight up, you won’t believe how much your fish hooking ability will improve.

 

 

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Prepare now for ice fishing season By Larry MYHRE

I sit here writing this, the temperature outdoors is pushing 70 degrees. It is Nov. 5.

If you are an ice-a-holic, as I am, you too must be wondering, “Will our lakes and ponds ever freeze over this year?”

The answer, of course, is “Yes, they will.” And it may happen sooner than you think. Time just seems to rush by any more.

With this unseasonably warm weather on hand, it is a great time to begin getting your ice fishing gear in order. As much as we like ice fishing and the cold that comes with it, firing up your auger and inspecting your ice fishing shelter is better done when the outdoor temperature is 60 degrees, not 15.

Let’s check our auger first.

There are three areas that need immediate attention. The first is gasoline. It’s best to dump out last year’s supply and start with fresh. Add the right amount of oil to the gas if it is required. Old gas is one of the things that make augers start hard. The other is the spark plug. Pull it out and inspect it. Clean it a bit with steel wool or even a small file. Use a feeler gauge to set the correct gap. You may not need to replace your spark plug every year, but that also depends a lot on how hard you use it. A lot of guys carry a spare plug and a wrench with them out on the ice. Spark plugs on small engines can get fouled easily and a fresh plug can save a lot of starter rope pulling.

Next, inspect the cutters. If they are dull, replace them. If your ice chips resemble those found in a snow cone, it is time for new cutters.

Finally, start the auger a few times and let it idle. If it starts easily, it is ready for action. If not, take it to a small engine repair center.

Most of us fish out of a portable canvas shelter of one kind or another. Take it out on the lawn and set it up. Make sure mice have not nested in it and chewed holes in the canvas. If so, repair the holes or tears. You may need to clean it out and inspect the moving parts to make sure everything is operating correctly.

When your ice fishing shack is up to specs, take a look at your heater. Most run on propane. Start them up a time or two and let them run for a while. Make sure you have enough propane tanks on hand.

Most of us carry a Vexilar flasher depth finder. Charge the battery or replace if needed and make sure the unit runs correctly.

Rods and reels will need to be inspected and checked. Replace the line if it is mono. I repeat, replace the line. It’s that important. Old mono will retain the memory of the spool and come off the reel looking like a slinky. It is impossible to fish effectively with such line, especially with light lures. I like Berkely Micro Ice in four pound test for panfish and six pound for walleyes. Remember that you do not need to replace all the line on the reel. Peel off about 75 feet and cut. Attach the new line to the old with a barrel knot.

Check the line guides on your rods to make sure they are not broken or pulled loose. Check the reel seats for tightness or apply electrician’s tape to anchor your reel. Make sure the rod is still intact. I’ve found splintered tips on several ice fishing rods in the past. Better to find that now than out on the ice.

Sort through all of your ice fishing lures and clean them if needed or sharpen the hooks if needed. [Read more…]

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Ready for Next Season By Gary Howey

  In most years, by November, many outdoorsmen have put their fishing gear away and only thinking about hunting.

  With as warm as we’ve had and no water being frozen up, many open water anglers are still out there, spending time on the water and catching some fish.

  Once you do decide to give it up, you should check your fishing gear, tackle and your rods and reels, making sure everything is ready to go fishing next season.

   What I do before putting my rod & reels away is to look them over, getting an idea as to what needs to be done so they’re ready when the water opens up next this spring.

  You’ll want to wipe them down, and when you’re doing this, look them over closely.  On    your rods, you’ll need to check the guides and making sure, that they aren’t cracked and need replacing.

  Some of the guides may have a crack that’s you can’t see,  if you don’t find the cracked guide, the next time you go to throw a bait, that minute crack you didn’t detect may cut your line and the bait will be lost. Try running a Q-Tip over each guide and if some of the cotton stays in the guide, you’ll have to replace the guide or set it aside and go to another rod that you had preciously inspected.

  Many of the reels out there, when new, come with oil and instructions as to how to lube them. If needed lube the reel and make any adjustments that are required.

   It’s a good idea to loosen up the reels drag before putting it away. The drag on most reels is no more than two fiber washers that press against each other, creating friction, allowing line slippage when a big fish makes a run.

  If you store your reels with the drag tightened, and they are damp, the next time you go to use them, they may be froze up and not working and by loosening them up, they won’t be locked up the next time you go fishing. 

  On the reels I use most often, I’ll check my line, if I find any frays, nicks or weak spots. I’ll change the line on that reel, making sure that it’s done correctly, as winding line onto a spinning reel is done differently than line wound onto a baitcasting reel.

  On spinning reels, lay the spool on the floor with the label facing up, run the line through the last guide and tie it onto your spool with a good knot such as the arbor knot. Hold onto the line, while you are spooling up, applying a slight amount of tension. Begin reeling, if you have wraps or twisted line, turn the spool over and begin reeling again. You’ll want to check from time to time to assure the line is going on strait and not twisting. Continue filling your spool until there’s only about 1/8″ left on the reel spool. [Read more…]

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It is Time to Re-clean, Re-spool and Re-place By Gary Howey

It is those dark months of the year, January and February, where nighttime seems long and daylight hours are short. This is the time of the year when I have ice fishing or predator calling on my mind, not so much this year.

The ice fishing has been slow, partly because of the warmer weather had not made thick enough ice and then the freezing temperatures and gusty wind keep me in my office as well as out of the field where I could be calling predators.

When things slow, it is time of the year when I Re-Clean Re-Spool and Re-Place things in my tackle bags.

Once winter set in, and before ice fishing took off, I pulled all of my ice fishing gear out of storage, cleaned out my sled, buckets and tackle bags. I started by throwing away the empty wax worm containers, old line and Styrofoam cups which had collected in my sled. Once these things were discarded, I changed the line on my reels and added some new lures, added new lures, then replaced worn out and rusted hooks on other lures. One thing I have noticed over the years when ice fishing that seems to help me to hook more fish is to replace the treble hooks on lures with single hooks. When a cold-water fish clamps down on a single hook, he does not feel the three hard hooks and spits out your bait. With a single hook the fish will grab your bait, put pressure on your minnow or grub and hold onto it longer, giving you extra time to hook them.

After I finished with that chore, it was time for me to pull out my open water tackle and get it ready for spring fishing.

This week, I started replacing the line on my open water gear, my bottom bouncer, livebait rigging and jigging reels.

Tomorrow, I will tear all the old line off my catfishing rigs, replacing it with the heavier test line required for the size of the cats we hope to catch and the snag-infested waters these big bruisers call home. [Read more…]