Category: How To

How-To: Catch and Release

An important aspect of fishing is learning a good basic knowledge of the species you hope to catch, the legal and seasonal status and edibility factors. Many fish are released for a wide range of reasons including exceeding your bag limit, the fish does not meet size limits for that species or the season may be closed for the take of that species of fish.

The following are some basic guidelines to follow that will ensure you do your part not to waste the resource.

While fishing, try to maintain and monitor a tight line so that a fish does not completely swallow a hook causing internal damage. An even better method is to employ the use of circle hooks, which are highly effective, yet almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. This has been studied and proven to reduce mortality in fish. A growing number of die-hard fishermen feel those are better than more traditional J-hooks.

Cut the leader close on a swallowed hook rather than trying to dig it out of the fish. Yanking on their guts is not responsible fishing, and the survival of the fish is not likely. Leaving the hook in, while not optimal, gives the best chance of survival. Embedded hooks are often encased by scar tissue, and the fish continues to thrive.

Fish also have a better chance of survival if kept in the water. If you do need to measure it or work with it, keep the “out of water time” to a minimum. Have tools and rulers at the ready and never grab the fish with a dry rag.  The slime coat is a vital part of the fish’s defense to disease and removing it degrades its ability to survive.  Wet your hands or gloves to prevent the slime from being wiped off. Rubber-coated nets are better than fin-splitting nylon ones. Flopping on a hot, dry deck or beach also tends to remove slime, so take precautions.

The use of dehooking tools can help speed the process of returning the fish to the water. Often fish from deeper waters need to be vented or manually taken back to depth in order to release or recompress the expanded gasses in their body. If this is not performed, then the fish is doomed to float away on the surface. There are a variety of venting tools available, and learning how to properly use them is crucial. Many anglers who deal with inflated fish keep a rod ready with a barbless hook and large weight, which acts as a diving sled to take the fish back to a depth where the gasses squeeze back into solution, and the fish is then released off the barbless hook.

If we all work to increase the survival rate of released fish, we will have more fish to catch.

How-To: Make a Double Drop Shot Rig for Trout

What we have here is a Double Drop Shot Rig. We use it for speckled sea trout when fishing the river system in deep water, and often there is a lot of current. This is very similar to a standard drop shot rig, but we are using a grub-style jig instead of a weight on the bottom. A shrimp-like lure is presented a few feet above.

To rig it, you tie your mainline to a simple barrel swivel, which is then tied to two leaders: one about three feet in length and the other a foot and a half. Tie the heavy jighead to the longer leader; that gives the rig the weight necessary to get the lighter-weight soft-plastic shrimp down to the deeper part of the water column, where it wiggles in the current.

Most of the trout bites will come on the shrimp lure first and sometimes the jig as it’s raised up and moving from the fight of the first trout hooked. So, sometimes you can catch them two at a time, or sometimes they prefer to eat the bottom jig. You just never know.

It’s a great rig because it’s easy to build, fun to fish and works great. Just toss it out, let it sink to the bottom, tighten up the slack and then twitch it back towards the boat. You can adjust leader lengths if you think the fish are closer to the bottom.

Anglers should experiment to see what is working best for the condition but do give this rig a try. because it can produce fantastic results.

How To Untwist a Spinning Reel

A spinning reel is a great tool for fishing.  We use them for casting distances and pitching lightweight baits and lures.  One of their only negatives is that the line can get twisty after a long fight or if the angler reels against the clicking drag. The line is both stressed by this and becomes troublesome for the next fish encounter.  Make sure the angler is not grinding against the drag, as this can eventually lead to line break.

It is a simple process to untwist the line after a fight.  It does require a moving boat and a minute of down time, but it is well worth it.  Usually, you can drag it on the way back to a spot after the fish has pulled you off.

The process is simple, cut off the lure or hook from the leader, and then let the line pay out behind a moving boat.  Let out the amount that was out during the fight.

If you hold the line slack in front of the reel and it doesn’t jump into a twist, you are back to fresh, untwisted line.  This is how I check to see if the line is untwisted enough while reeling it back in.

Drag the line for about a minute or so.  You can do it while running, but tighten the drag and pay attention because there will be a lot of pressure on the line.  (Don’t forget to reset the drag or else “zing pow.”) Hold your rod tip near the water, and pump the rod to facilitate the untwisting.  Reel back in under tension and do the slack line test earlier mentioned at various intervals as you bring it in.  Then retie your hook and you’re ready for another round.

If a spool of line gets extremely twisty, it’s best to set it aside, or pop on a spare spool of fresh line that is ready to go.  We check our lines on the way out in the morning and after each big fish fight.  You don’t have to do it after most small fish unless there have been a bunch of them.

With braided lines becoming more common the problem is lessened, but we still like mono for many types of applications.