Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tip - Storing Crankbaits

Are you tired of pulling out your favorite crankbait or jerkbait out of a compartment of your tacklebox only to find that all of the crankbaits are hooked together with your favorite one and exit the box at the same time?  Then, you spend another fifteen minutes to separate and restack them back in your box because they no longer fit as the tangled mess, and you still haven't tied your favorite one on the line?
When bass like this are on the crankbaits, don't waste time separating a tangled mess while you could be fishing.  And, if you take Bass Junky's tip to heart, using quality hooks will ensure that you land rather than lose fish like this.
Well now I have a tip for you!  Remove all of the treble hooks from your crankbaits.  And, while your at it, buy quality replacement hooks, premium extra sticky sharp hooks for reasons detailed in Bass Junky's latest blog post, Switchin out your trebles..a must?.  Place the hooks in a compartment or separate box and put them on after you remove your crankbait from the box.
Now you can avoid this tangled mess and store as many crankbaits or jerkbaits as you like in one box.
 You'll need a pair of split ring pliers to remove all the hooks, and also they help to put the hooks back on.  Carry them with you in your tackle bag or box.  If you forget them, you can always use a spinnerbait blade to open the split ring in an emergency. 
Split ring pliers like these come in handy even on the boat.
The only thing that you'll have to remember if you use this tip is to not forget to bring your hooks, unless all you want to do is practice getting bites!

What advantages does this tip give you?  Well, as Bass Junky noted, premium hooks mean more hookups and less chance of losing fish.  And with this tip, you won't have to purchase two hooks for every lure.  Just keep a dozen of each size that you need in your box, and switch them out between baits as necessary.  You won't lose all of your crankbaits in one day, but you may lose a couple.  Even then, you should still have plenty of hooks.

If you're like me, you probably stuff as many crankbaits that will physically fit into your box without breaking the lid.  With this tip, even using an entire compartment for hooks, you can actually fit more crankbaits in your box than before.  And, when you take your favorite out, it's not tangled with ten other crankbaits.
Now you can stuff your box full of crankbaits and never worry about a tangled cluster of crankbait mess to separate.
You may ask, "Doesn't it take a lot of time to add the treble hooks"?  My response would be, a lot less time than untangling a mess of crankbaits and restocking them back in your box.  Once you get the hang of using the pliers, which may take all but a few minutes of working with them, then you should be able to add the hooks back to the lure in less than a minute.

Oh yeah, before I forget, leave the split rings on the lures.  They're small and can be dropped and lost easily if you separate them.  You may have to change out old rusty ones eventually, but that's an easy task especially if you've already removed the hooks.

You may ask, what if I'm shore fishing or wading and can't do this in the field?  Simply add the hooks to the lures that you want to fish with prior to your trip.  I've used medical tape on the hooks before, so when it's not practical to use this trip, that's a good alternative.

Another variation of this tip would be to leave just one of your favorites in each tackle box compartment with hooks rather than remove them all.  That way, if you're in a hurry to change baits on the water, you have your favorites already rigged up.

In summary, spend less time untangling, more time fishing, and use quality premium hooks to stick and land more big fish.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's the Buzz?

I had a small window of time after work last night to put in about an hour at best to fish at a local lake.  It sure didn't feel like a typical March day much less the first official day of Spring.  My plan was to fish from shore for a few quick bites and hopefully for some willing largemouth bass.  It was warm, muggy, buggy, with frogs and toads hopping out in front of me like deer crossing the road in front of your car at night as I hurried along a path to my fishing spot.  I had a hard time stepping around and over them in an attempt to avoid making frog or toad path pizzas.

I would have been in heaven if I had experienced that in my youthful life.  I loved to collect frogs, toads, and salamanders as a kid.  I had some pretty awesome terrariums throughout my life.  Amphibians are for the most part easy to keep, easy to feed, and become quite tame after a while.  I cringe at the thought of using them for bait because, well, they're my buddies.  However, I don't frown on other anglers using them, it's just my taste in fishing.

So, here I am fishing my cold weather early spring patterns, tossing worms and working them slowly through the water column without any bites, working dropoffs near shallow water but in the deeper holes.  There was a fair amount of panfish surface activity, so perhaps that approach wasn't the right way to go.

I decided to work the parallel to shore, wondering if the fish were up against the bank in the shallows in ambush of Kermit the Frog going for an evening swim.  I could work the dropoff and a good portion of adjacent shoreline doing that.  I had a bite and missed it, most likely a youthful bass or yellow perch, with not much weight to it.  But it was a clue that the bass were in shallow.  A couple casts later, and I had a good pickup, and set the hook into a chunky fourteen inch largemouth bass.
A chunky fourteen inch bass like this one fell for my plastic worm.  But I wanted bigger...something different.
But maybe I needed something different.  I just had a good feeling about it, frogs and toads hopping about, panfish surface activity everywhere, bugs in the air, warm temperatures and that evening calm on the lake... the lake was calling out to me for topwater. 

Luckily, I decided to pack my buzzbaits with me.  So, I dug one out and tied it on.  After several casts out to deeper woody cover without a bite, I decided to again work the shallow banks, casting parallel just inside the dropoff for my last hurrah before dark.

On my first cast doing that, with the lure heading towards me about ten feet away, the water erupted.  I hooked a good fish near the bank that was probably in the three pound range.  I gloated, and hooted and hollered to my buddy laughing that I hooked a bass in March on a buzzbait.  I wanted to land that fish badly, but it had other ideas, throwing the hook as I bellowed my frustration across the lake, scaring the geese that had landed just minutes before that were now cruising on the mid lake surface.  It just goes to show, that just as you can't count your chickens before they hatch, you can't count the bass before you land them.
I was spoiled, a few days earlier, I boated this 21.5" fat largemouth on a lipless crankbait.  I wondered if big sows like this were cruising the shorelines looking to eat Kermit the Frog.
It would have been my first ever bass landed on a buzzbait in March in Maryland, but instead, became my first ever bass hooked on a buzzbait in March in Maryland.  Heck, there have been years that I was still ice fishing during this time of year much less tossing topwater lures for largemouth.

This could be a trend!  More warmth on the way the next three days.  Time to break out the topwater!  Oh what fun we could have!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tip - Hands Free Shore Fishing

If fishing from shore, and you have access to enough shoreline to move about freely to find fish, here are a couple tips that will save your back and give you more fishing time.  Most anglers will carry multiple rods to either offer different presentations when fishing for the same species, or to fish for two different species.  If you like to move around to find fish, constantly putting down your extra rod or tackle box gets old real fast, causing back aches in old fellows like me, and it wastes time.  After a while, you might be content to stay on one spot longer than you'd like simply because you don't feel like bending over to pick up your stuff and move.

So, since mobility is important to find and catch more fish, you have to be innovative to gear up to be mobile.  Here are a few tips to help.

1)     Wear a fishing vest to stow the tackle that you might need for the day.  Some of them have a large back pocket for extra gear or even a lunch.  I pack mine full of everything that I might need for a day.  The amount that you can carry is limited to the number of vest pockets that you have and the strength of your back.  You can carry a lot of stuff like me and be prepared for anything, or you can go as light as you wish.  That's a personal preference.

2)     Use a fanny pack or some system to pack water or more gear that won't fit in your vest.  I currently have one that has two water bottle holders and I'll stuff the main compartment with more tackle.  I carry my spinnerbaits in a soft tackle pack that I can clip to my belt or wear with a strap over my shoulder.
Notice the vest packed with tackle and the rod clipped to my vest behind me.  This enables me to fish hands free without having to bend over to put stuff down and pick it up all day long, maximizing my mobility.  I also have a water bottle and spinnerbait pouch clipped to my belt.  Here I am tossing spinnerbaits with my baitcasting rod, but have a plastic worm rigged on my extra rod clipped to my back for a back up presentation.  My brother Kyle, fishing behind me, found a way to attach and carry his extra rod on his fanny pack.
3)     Attach a clip large enough to fit around your rod blank below the bottom guide to the loop on the back of the neck of your vest.  That way, you can carry an extra rod for a separate presentation.  Make sure that they clip is easy enough to open and close to enable you to access the rod easily without removing your vest.
 A couple things to note when doing this, watch out for trees and don't forget that you have a rod clipped to your back.  All you have to do to get around a tree is to reach around and grab your rod blank, and pull it over your shoulder horizontally to get around tree branches.

Now, when shore fishing, you too can be mobile and catch more fish.  Try my tips above or come up with your own way to be mobile.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Save Money on Braided Line

Everyone knows that superlines like braid, fused lines like Fireline, or molecularly linked Nanofil, are much more expensive than monofilament and fluorocarbon lines.  But the advantages are that superlines last much longer, are much more durable in most situations, have much stronger breaking strength than other lines, are much more sensitive, have no memory, and have no stretch for rock solid hook sets.  If you are fishing for species that don't make long runs when hooked, here's a tip that will save you money and stretch out the cost of these no superlines.

Don't put it all on one reel spool!  Fill them all!
Suppose you just purchased a new spool of braided line.  When spooling up your new line, don't empty your old spool of monofilament or old fluorocarbon lines.  Rather, peel off about half 50 to 75 yards of line and leave the rest on as backing for your new braided line.  That way, depending on the diameter of the line and spool size that you're filling, you can fill several reel spools of line and stretch your fishing dollars.

You will lose some line inevitably from changing lures and other reasons, so when your spool gets a little low, peel off the braid and wrap it around an empty Coke bottle or something, and add some backing to replace the amount of braid that you lost, then reconnect your braid and spool it back on.  Voila, you now have a full spool again.

I like to add new line each season, but with braid, you should be able to get more life out of your line depending on how much you fish.  So, here's another tip within a tip.  Instead of trashing your old braid, tie off the end to a fence post (or something outside) and pull off the braid by walking.  When your braid is out of your spool and rod, clip it off from the backing.  Walk back to the fence post and reconnect the other end of your braid that was once your most used end to the backing.  Then, reel it back on.  The end that was once connected to your backing is now the end that you tie your lures on, and is just as good as newly spooled braid.  Since I've been doing this, I've been changing my superlines out every other year.

How does this save money?  If you assume that 150 yards gives you two spools using 75 yards, then switch the ends as described above, you actually get four spools of line out of your 150 yard purchase.

This is the first of a series of fishing tips posts.  I will be posting periodic fishing tips and will index them on a separate page.  If you check back and have missed my tips posts, rather than scrolling through old posts, check the fishing tips index page and click on the ones that interest you.