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It’s the little things In fishing By Gary Howey

  With 68-degree temperatures predicted the week I’m writing this column, I’m in the mood to get ready for spring fishing.

  Last spring, I was in such a hurry to get out and do some summer fishing, I threw things into my tackle bag and didn’t think about re-organizing it. Unfortunately, I did the same thing with my fall fishing gear and now my tackle bag looks as if a bomb went off in it. My walleye spinners are intertwined with my live bait rigs and my jigs and crankbaits stuck together.

  Most of the time, I’m Mister organized, but not this time of the year as everything is in turmoil and I have to get things straightened out before the water opens up.

  All of my Plano 3700 tackle boxes in my walleye tackle bag are lettered; jigs, live bait rigs, crankbaits and bottom bouncers, so I know where this gob of tackle that’s stuck together should go.

  The first thing I’ll need to do, because it takes the longest is to untangle my live bait rigs from the spinners. This is a real pain, especially now that most of my tackle is tied with lighter line and my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be.

  I went to lighter line on these to eliminate the coils or memory that I had with the heavier line. With the heavier line, the spinners and rigs didn’t lay out as smooth or run through the water straight, so by going to lighter line, my line has less memory.

  Once I have them untangled, I’ll coil them, put them in small Ziploc bags which allows me to see what’s there and return them to my livebait tackle box. It may take a little extra time, but worth it when I hit the water this spring.

  Next, I’ll work on my jigs, the ones that were not only tangled with my other baits, the ones that were wet when I threw them into my bag.

  It doesn’t take much to clean them off; all that’s needed to clean them is to wipe them off with a clean rag. On jigs, the first thing you’ll want to do is to remove any hardened bait; minnows, pieces of crawlers etc. that wasn’t removed before you tossed them into your tackle bag. If you were using Berkley Gulp, it may take a sharp knife to cut through it, as Gulp will become rock hard if not returned to its original airtight container.

  The main thing you need to pay attention to before putting them away is the hook; you want to make sure it’s sharp. To check it for sharpness take the hook and run it across your fingernail, if it’s sharp, it should scratch the nail.  If they don’t, grab your file or diamond hone and sharpen them until they do.

  With crankbaits, you’re going to have to wipe them down, get the crud off them and then check the treble hooks, when crankbaits snag, the treble hook is the culprit and to get them loose requires a lot of pressure, which can bend or disfigure your treble hook. Check them to make sure they’re straight and if not, straighten them using needle nose pliers. You shouldn’t need much pressure to bring the hook back in line but, if the hook has become rusted, it may break off when you straighten it. If it does, it’s not a problem, as replacement treble hooks are easy to find. Now you’ll want to check to see if the treble hooks are sharp and if not, sharpen them as was mentioned previously in this column.

  This time of the year, when there isn’t a whole lot to do in the outdoors it’s a good time to get your tackle cleaned up and if your tackle boxes inside your bag identified, as it makes it easier for you to find what you need on the next trip. [Read more…]

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Tackle Tips, Getting into the sport of Fishing By Gary Howey

 At the seminars and on my web page, there are many questions on what type of tackle is needed to get  into the sport of fishing.

  The information in this column will give you information on the basic tackle needed if you are thinking about going fishing.

  This is a good time to start checking out the fishing department of a sporting goods store, as this is when they start to restock their shelves.

  As I mentioned in previous columns, when it comes to fishing you need to keep it as simple as possible.  There are thousands of lures, hooks and baits out there; the only problem is that many of these baits have caught more anglers than fish.

  It’s best to start with the basics, the hook, line and sinker, your basic live bait rig.

Hooks

  When it comes to hook size, you’ll want to match your hook to the species of fish that you’ll be going after.  I’d recommend that you purchased snelled hooks, those that are

pre-tied, having the monofilament line tied to the hook as snelled hooks are easier to attach to a swivel or rig.

  A good rule of thumb is if your fishing for small fish such as trout or panfish is to use a size 4, 6 or 8 hooks.  Use a long shank hook when ever possible as this makes it easier to remove the hook from a smaller fish’s mouth. 

  For bass or larger fish, you can use a size 1, 2, 1/0 or 2/0 hook.  Walleye anglers prefer a shorter more compact hook in a size 6 or 8.  The main thing to remember is to match the size of your hook with the size of the mouth of the fish that you hope to catch.

Line

As far as line is concerned, depending on what type of fish you’re after and where you’ll be fishing for them, I’d suggest you use the lightest light possible.  Generally, if you’re fishing water that’s not full of snags a 6 or 8-pound test for walleyes works well. If you’re fishing for bass or catfish in or near weeds, brush, submerged timber or areas where there are a lot of rocks and snags it’s a good idea to go with 12-pound test or heavier

  The colder the water temperature, the less active the fish are and the more finesse you’re going to need to catch the fish, so as water temps drop, so does my line diameter as smaller baits perform better on lighter line.

  The larger the line diameter, the less action you’re going to get out of your bait. This is especially true when using diving bait as heavier line has more resistance and won’t allow your bait to go as deep (crankbait) or sink as fast (jigs).

  In addition, heavier line has more memory, it won‘t lay out as nice as lighter line, and not allowing your lure to work properly.

  One thing that you really need to pay attention to is the knot you use to attach your hook or lure to the line.

  Avoid the old overhand knot as it won’t hold, will slip, come loose or break, use a good knot such as the Palomar or TRILENE Knot. Illustrations of these and other useful knots are found at www.animatedknots.com/indexfishing.php

  Before you pull your knot tight, be sure to wet the line, if you don’t, the friction created by the line rubbing together will melt the line.

“Sinkers”

The amount of weight or sinker that you’ll attach to the line depends on what type of water you’ll be fishing.  When fishing in a river, dealing with current, it may require a heavier sinker.  If you’re fishing from a boat, you probably won’t need as much weight because you’re fishing vertically.

  I carry an assortment of split shot, a few 1/4 oz. and 3/8 oz. sinkers.  With these, I can fish just about any body of water in the Midwest.  If you need a little more weight, it’s easy to add more weight or attach a small split shot above your weight.

  The basic rule on what weight to use is to use the smallest weight possible.

I know what some of you are saying, “What about fishing in the heavy current in the river?”

To be real honest with you very few fish will be in that heavy current as it takes a lot more energy for them to fight the current than it does to sit behind a point, sandbar or submerged rock pile where there is little or a reduced amount of current.

  Sure, you’ll find some fish in the fast water, but the majority of them will be behind something that breaks the current (current breaks) like those that I mentioned earlier.

If you use too much weight, and a fish tries to inhale it, as most fish do, and the bait doesn’t move, many fish will move on.

  Crappie Rigs are another item that you might want to try.  A Crappie rig is a pre-tied two-hook rig with a swivel on the top that you tie to your line and then attach your sinker to the snap at the bottom.

  Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about some other lures that you might want to try. [Read more…]

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It’s time to inspect ice lures, old and new By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

If this cold weather keeps up, it won’t be long before we can venture out on the ice in pursuit of fish. With that in mind, now is the time you should get out your ice fishing lures and check them over.

First thing to look at is the hooks. Make sure they are sharp and haven’t been damaged. Look for things like bent out points or rolled in points. Either fix them or replace them.

Most of the lures made for ice fishing will fit into three categories. All are designed or can adapt to fishing vertically. They would be lead head jigs, jigging spoons and swimming lures.

First would be what I call the lead heads. This would include most panfish ice lures, such as tear drops, or any lure with lead in its makeup, including the regular lead head jigs. Using very soft plastics to tip these lures is very popular right now. And tungsten jigs are hot among ice fishermen. These new jigs, when tipped with very soft plastics, have produced a lot of fish.

Believe it or not, but there are now jigs for fly fishing. When tied they imitate insects that fish like to eat in the wintertime; they should be fantastic. I’ve used flies for ice fishing for a long time since fly tying is one of my hobbies. But these new jigs created for fly fishing are a big step up. They consist of a tungsten bead that fits onto a small jig hook with a 45-degree angle bend.

I’ve tied up a bunch of them for fly fishing, and I can’t wait to take them out on the ice.

While some of the soft plastics can be fished without bait, most lead head lures need to be fished with bait. Wax worms, spikes and minnows are most often used.

I like to fish wax worms on a gold tear drop for bluegills. I simply hook the waxie in the middle and squeeze out the juice. This adds some scent to the presentation and, since bluegills have such small mouths, makes it easier for them to get hooked. Those two flaps of skin flapping on each side of the hook also makes a tempting presentation. [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…]