There’s nothing quite like a tidbit of information to remind you of some of the basic gems that we as anglers should know. It’s possible that some of the things you know were insightful pieces of advice that dad or grandpa passed on down. And I’m sure that there are some useful quotes from gramps that well…quite honestly we’ll have to leave off the printed page…HA!
So let’s start with some of the basics here. Knots are one of the MOST important things you should learn to master at an early age. My son who is now 15 started learning very early on by tying the basic improved clinch knot. It goes without saying that every angler reading this probably started with this knot. My dad taught me how to tie this many, many moons ago and it is still a standard for me. There have been some modifications to the knot, but if you learn to tie one knot, this is the one.
One of the easiest knots to tie and one that I use regularly in my bass fishing adventures is the Palomar Knot. This is a perfect knot for tying a hook when rigging for a Texas rigged plastic worm, or when tying on a jig. I like the knot because it’s very low profile which doesn’t create large holes in your plastic baits. It’s also a very strong knot and great for those that fish with braided line. And if you’re going to enter in to a contest on who can tie the fasted knot…this is it! Just don’t tell anyone what you’re going to tie.
As a fly angler you have to know how to join two pieces of monofilament together, in this case were talking about tying tippet to leader…the Blood Knot. This particular knot is not the easiest to tie, but once mastered will save you from having to change out leader material on your fly line. You can use this knot when re-spooling your reels. It’s pretty safe to say that you probably use about 20% of the line on your reel. So instead of pulling off 150 yards of line to a bare spool, peel off about 50 yards of line, tie a Blood Knot to the new line and filler ‘er up. Great for bait casters and spinning reals that are used for close quarter angling.
If you have two different types of fishing line or diameters, the Surgeon’s Knot comes in handy. This is a pretty easy knot to tie and has its place in our list of things you should know. Joining braid and monofilament is a great example for the use of this knot.
There are dozens of knots that can be talked about here. Some anglers have their own version of the knots we listed here and some have invented their own that they completely swear by. Recently North American Fisherman had a segment called “Knot Wars”, where anglers would pit their own creations against some of the tried and true knots to see who’s fared the best. Some were exceptional…others not so much.
Yes…you should have one of these in your boat. But what should you have IN the tackle box? Pliers – How many times have you been out on the boat, hooked a really nice fish, hooked him well, and didn’t have a pair of pliers to help free that hook? Pliers are number one for the tackle box in my book.
Line cutter (clippers or knife) – essential! If you change your bait often enough you’ll be grateful for having a good line cutter in your tackle box. I carry quite a few rods in my boat, but have a few favorites that I use. Changing baits and lures is something that takes place all day long on the water. Keep a good pair of these handy…your dentist recommends it too.
Extra hooks – Kinda obvious I know, but we’ve all been there where we “think” we have enough of the right hooks for the fishing we’re going to be doing, opening up our tackle box in shocked amazement and with a few selective words, we realize we don’t have what we need. Take an inventory every now and then and stock up.
Bobbers – If you have kids or take kids fishing on a regular basis, make sure you keep a good stock of bobbers in your tackle box. I’ve gone through quite a few of these in one day as kids insist on casting their line out only to succeed and hooking a largemouth oak tree. I’m sure you’ve all seen what look like a Christmas tree out on a lake shore decorated with bobbers, right?
Extra line – It’s always handy to have a spool of extra line on hand, especially if you use rigs that require leader material. I keep that unused portion of a spool when I’m done filling my reels. Bottom bouncers, three way rigs and Carolina rigs are just a few that require a leader.
It goes without saying that the tackle box should be stocked with plastics baits, lures, spoons, jigs and anything else you can think of to master your craft. Just remember you have to be able to lift the tackle box up and put it in the boat.
FIRST AID KIT
This item can seem like a no brainer, but it’s a very important reminder to keep a first aid kit close and handy when you’re out on the water. And if you’re like me and have kids or inexperienced anglers in the boat, somehow a hook or sharp edge will find a way to draw blood. These kits don’t have to be extensive by any means, but they should contain enough of the essentials to take care of a wound, keep it clean and dry until if needed, you can get medical attention.
DON’T SCARE THE FISH
How many of you have silently slid your boat in to a nice quite cove, sure that there are bass lurking by the docks and hiding under lily pads. Using your best stealth moves, you reach down and pick up a rod. As you depress the line release in preparation for that first cast, suddenly from the back of the boat you hear WHAM!!! and “HEY PHIL!! YA WANT A DONUT!?”
In that instant you see swirls of fish zooming out in every direction. Wide eyed you turn to your partner and with a gritted grin you say with heavy breath…”NO thank you!” Calmly as possible you ask your partner to keep it down and don’t scare the fish.
He’s probably looking at you like, WHAT!? How can fish hear? Truth is they really can’t “hear” in a sense but the lateral is what gives bass (fish) the ability to sense movement. The lateral line, first discovered by scientists in the 1960’s, is a system of sensory organs in a fish that detect pressure and vibration. This provides a fish with special awareness and allows it to navigate through the water while hunting for prey and avoiding predators. It can detect movement in the water for quite some distance by acting as an accelerator; detecting changes in the flow of water. Unfortunately this gives bass a keen insight into anything occurring around them that seems out of place.So in other words…SIMMER DOWN!
BUG SPRAY, SPF 30, AND WD40
A little WD-40 on the line blocks the human smell and gives you better distance on your casting (grandpa gave me that one), while the bug spray and SPF keep you from dying a mosquito or sun-related death. Bug spray is not recommended for priming your outboard motors…guaranteed to clear the deck of a boat when it backfires! Also make sure and keep it off your line, along with the SPF.
WATCH YOUR LINE
When I first started bass fishing, in of all places the island of Oahu Hawaii, I cut my bass angling teeth on the plastic worm. If there was one thing I remember the most was the sound advice I got from my teacher…watch your line. This can be true for any type of fishing, but when it comes to using plastics or creature baits for bass or walleye, keeping an eye on your line is key. I’ve made the mistake on more than one occasion turning my attention to something other than the task at hand, in a moment a fish picks up my bait and starts to swim off with it. When I finally do notice the movement it’s too late. No matter how fast and how hard I try to set the hook that “8lb bass” realized it was chewing on plastic and dropped the bait. DANG IT!
HOLD YOUR FISH CLOSER TO THE CAMERA
We all love hero shots don’t we? I mean there is nothing better than taking that picture of a great fish and posting on social media. We want everyone to know how great we are as anglers. But…there are those times when the big boys and girls just don’t cooperate. You catch a lot of fish, but nothing you’d care to share. So photo tip for you…hold that 1lb bass closer to the camera and farther from your body. Suddenly that bad boy is 5LBS! WOW!! What a catch and all your friends will be so jealous.
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER –
PREPARE FOR THE UNWEATHER
We check our weather apps, watch the weather guy or gal on the evening news, all in planning for our next outing on the lake. We’re sure that we’ve got all the right clothing on and are prepared for the day. BUT, just like in true weather fashion, the unpredictable happens and the next thing you know you’re soaking wet and cold.
Most boats have pretty decent storage areas, and if not you can purchase water proof storage bins for the boat. Always take more than you think you’ll need and even if wet weather is not predicted, be prepared for it. I’ve been out on a lake a number of times not expecting rain only to have an afternoon soaker come in and give me an unwanted shower. And with nothing extra in the boat to change in to, my day is shortened or I’m miserable for the balance of my trip. Weather always plays a key role in what the fish may or may not do, so be prepared to face weather challenges above the water as well.
Okay, so admittedly this piece is about things every angler should know. But how about some words of wisdom for those of you that would like to date an angler, you’ll thank me later…
4:30 in the morning is not early if you’re up to catch fish! If you have plans for Saturday or Sunday you may have to modify the aforementioned plans just a bit. Especially during fishing season! Be patient…that’s why we call it fishing not catching. As we’ve already noted keeping the noise level down to a minimum is important while out with an angler. You don’t have to be completely silent for the entire day, but some quiet on the water is totally fine.
Keep an eye on your pole. This is of particular importance if the one in hand is borrowed. Your co-angler has probably spent copious amounts of money on his equipment and the last thing you want to do is answer the question, “what was that splash”, as you sit wide eyed sans pole.
If you happen to catch a fish be prepared for sound advice on reeling in the fish for at least 5 min. It may sound a bit stern at first but don’t fret…we anglers get a bit excited when a fish is on the line.
Bathroom breaks – it’s important to tell the fisherman well in advance of having to take a potty break instead of announcing, “I GOTTA GO NOW!” This will allow for ample time to get back to a dock, otherwise be prepared to use a bucket.
Bringing food along is totally fine. The fisherman will usually have food, but like most will forget that it’s in the boat and won’t eat much…I mean we are fishing after all.
Understand that fishing is their true love, you’re great and all but… don’t mess with their fishing;)
Sound advice…no? Tight Lines All!