Don’t Let the Big One Get Away

You don’t have to talk about “the one that got away” after your next fishing trip. Today’s fishing gear makes it easier than ever to reel in that trophy bass.

Gone are the days of trolling along the shore, hoping to find the best fishing hole. Today’s fish finders guide you right to the perfect location. Anglers can find just the right model to meet any budget. Even basic models like the Humminbird® Fishin’ Buddy® provide sonar data and water temps. More sophisticated models from Humminbird and Lowrance® have full color displays showing water temperature, depths, shore contours, GPS and more. Fish finders like these are stand alone units that can be added to your current equipment.

Finding fish and getting them to bite are two different things. Fortunately, fishing gear tech has stepped up to the challenge of helping you snag the prize.

Today’s lures have all the appeal of live bait without the drawbacks. Simulating live bait is more critical than ever. Recent court rulings prohibit transporting fish into and out of lakes to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between fish. The result is that many anglers cannot bring their own minnows and other bait fish into the area.

Manufacturers like Berkley® and Rapala® have put their engineers to work in creating life-like lures. The Berkley® PowerBait® 4 Hollow Belly™ swim bait has been field tested and tweaked by the top Berkley Pro’s in order to give themselves a significant competitive advantage on tour. As if the PowerBait® scent and attractant weren’t competitive advantage enough all by itself, this Hollow Belly bait is loaded with other features as well that has made it the “choice of champions” when conditions call for a super swim bait. Unlike most other swim baits on the market, the body is truly hollow from nose to tail, and easily collapses around the hook when bit to insure a solid hookset. The Rapala lineup features lures that are hand-tuned and tested to recreate the swimming actions of a small fish that attracts larger fish.

The sophistication of today’s lures doesn’t stop with simulating live bait. Many lures have buoyancy ratings of floating, slow sinking and fast sinking. Getting the most out of your tackle box requires choosing a rate of fall suited for your fishing conditions.

Even colors are a big factor in selecting the right lure for the right day and the right water conditions. Pradco® lures cover the color spectrum with dark hues for dark days and light colors for light days. Picking the right color is just as important when selecting your fishing line. Manufacturers offer a variety of fishing line colors to blend in with the water so fish cannot detect the attachment to a lure.

Landing a trophy bass also requires having the right rod and reel. No two anglers are the same so one type of rod and reel won’t work for everyone.

Okuma®’s Diemos Rod/Reel Combo offers different lengths and actions to meet individual needs. The Diemos combo features a four-bearing reel with aluminum spool. The rod is a carbon composite blank with cork grips and split butt design. These features combine to make this the perfect choice for inland lake fishing.

Other manufacturers are introducing rods with adjustable lengths and high strength titanium. Pair one of these rods up with a new reel designed to reduce friction for further casting and you can stay on the water all day without getting tired or having to worry about your tackle handling the challenge of reeling in a bass.

The days of tying a string to a pole and hoping to catch a fish are gone . . . and with the latest technology, so are the days of talking about the one that got away.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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Stay Dry and Fish Longer

If you still think waders are just rubber overalls . . . it is time to change your thinking.

Wader technology has come a long way since the days of heavy, rubber outfits that sprung leaks and trapped moisture. Sure, tradition latex waders are still available and fine if you want something very inexpensive, plan on spending only a couple hours fishing and don’t mind patching leaks.

But, for anglers looking to spend more time fishing than drying out and making repairs, there is an alternative. Outerwear manufacturers are going high tech with new fabrics.

Frogg Toggs® has a line of wade-wear using DriPoreÔ technology. DriPore makes Frogg Togg waders 100% waterproof, 100% windproof and breathable. The patented process uses three layers of polypropylene material with pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a droplet of water.

Frogg Toggs also feature a seaming process that eliminates needle holes. Put this technology together and you have waders that prevent water from getting in while allowing body moisture to escape to keep you cool and comfortable.  Frogg Toggs wade-wear goes one step further by wrapping the DriPoreÔ in an ultra-tough, nylon microfiber outer shell for added durability and comfort.

Fabric is just one part of making the right choice of waders.  Standing just off-shore requires different wading gear than if you prefer standing in deeper water with a rocky bottom. Think about how you use waders and you will be more satisfied with your gear.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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Hooked on Bass

They say that once you’ve hooked a bass, you’re hooked on bass fishing for life.

The popularity of the sport suggests that old bass-fishing aphorism has a lot of truth to it. Contributing to the sport’s popularity is the fact that bass fishing doesn’t require a lot of travel or money. You can probably find a good bass fishing spot nearby, as the big fresh water fish is plentiful in our lakes and rivers. And some basic equipment can have you fishing with little money spent.

The Fish

Before thinking about bass fishing, think about bass. Two varieties are common in U.S. freshwater: smallmouth and largemouth. Smallmouth were originally native to the central states, while largemouth lurked in central and southeastern states. However, both have been introduced to most of the nation. Both are similar in appearance and have large mouths, although the largemouth’s yap is a bit bigger. While smallmouth rarely exceed 17 inches, largemouth grow to 26 inches.

Bass travel in schools. So if you catch one, you’ll probably catch more. When bass feed, it’s usually near the bottom of the lake or river. Whether they hang out in deep water or shallow depends on temperature. They’re likely to feed where the water temperature is 60° to 75° F, and they frequently congregate near weed beds or underwater structures.

The Rod and Reel

If you’re new to bass fishing, don’t invest in fancy equipment. You can catch fish with a basic outfit. The Zebco 404 spincast fishing combo is inexpensive and well regarded. The bargain-priced Quantum Vibe Series Spinning Combo features a graphite reel and two-piece rod. The South Bend Ready-2-Fish Inshore Spinning Combo is a good choice as well.

Not as basic as these but still affordable is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik® rod, fitted with a Pflueger Trion spinning reel. This medium action rod is suitable for a number of bass fishing techniques.

The Bait

Most bass fishermen prefer artificial bait. There are plenty from which to choose, but plastic worms and tubes are most popular. Plastic worms are self-explanatory; tubes resemble a minnow moving through the water. You won’t find either appetizing, but bass will.

The Texas Rig

Texas rig bass fishing with plastic worms is very popular. The hook is shielded by the worm, so it won’t snag on underwater plants or debris.

For this rig, you need a size 3 or 4 hook and a plastic worm. You also need something to weigh the line and bait. Brass weights are better than lead for obvious environmental reasons. A ¼-ounce weight will work for most conditions, although in calm, shallow water, some fishermen go lighter, and heavier in deep, choppy water.

On bright days, a light colored worm works best; if it’s cloudy, choose a dark color. For murky water, select bright colors; the Berkley Power Worm is a good choice.

To assemble the rig, slide the weight onto your line, then tie on the hook. Hold the worm in one hand and push the hook into the end of the worm with your other hand. Push the hook through and out, so that about ¼-inch of the shank is covered. Pull the hook until the eye is right up against end of the worm. Turn the hook so the point is facing the worm and push the tip into the worm until it almost protrudes from the other side.

A tube bait can be Texas rigged in much the same way. A 4-inch tube is usually good for bass fishing. Color choice is dictated by conditions, just as with worms.

The Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig is useful in water with poor visibility because it allows for plenty of action; fish can spot it readily.

The main difference between the Carolina and Texas rigs is the location of the weight. To make a Carolina rig, slide a ½-ounce weight onto the line then tie on a swivel. Attach a leader of 1 ½ to 3 feet to the swivel. The shorter it is, the easier to cast. But long leaders are better in deep water.

Tie a size 3 or 4 hook onto the end of the leader, then hook the worm as described above for the Texas rig.

The Wacky Rig

The wacky rig is simple, and the bait reacts with a lot of action, so it’s another solution for low visibility. To assemble a wacky rig, position the point of the hook so its shank is perpendicular to the worm and run the hook through the exact center of the worm until it protrudes fully.

The Drop Shot Rig

This rig ties the hook into the line 6 inches to 4 feet above the sinker. It’s meant for deep water, so the position of the hook will depend on where the fish are hanging out. Insert the line into the hook’s eyelet from the side opposite the point, tie a palomar knot, then push the line into the hook from the other side. Pull your line through and tie on a 3/8-ounce bell-style sinker.

Your equipment is in order, so it’s time to head for your favorite lake or river and drown that bait. And don’t forget to take a youngster. Every kid should learn to fish.

Okay, Let’s Fish

The key to successful fishing is presenting the bait in a way that makes it look like a tasty meal.

Bass are stationery fish for the most part, so you have to bring dinner to them. Cast your bait just beyond where you think your lunker may be lurking: 10 feet past that sunken tree stump or mass of vegetation. Before you begin to retrieve the bait wait 20 seconds.  If the bait’s splash spooked the fish, they’ll have time to return. Then retrieve slowly, providing action by moving the rod tip and alternating the speed of your wind.  When fishing a Carolina rig you may want to stop intermittently. When fishing a Texas rig, a steady retrieve can sometimes produce the best results.

Drop shot rigs are well suited to fishing over structures, like sunken boats or the remains of trees and buildings at the bottom of man-made lakes. All underwater structures are favorite hangouts for bass, and the drop shot lets you position your bait just above them.

Whether you’re fishing the drop shot rig on a structure or on the bottom of a deep lake, you should give the bait 20 seconds to settle after your cast. Then, after retrieving it a few feet, let it rest for a few seconds. While it’s resting, wiggle it just a bit by moving the rod tip. Retrieve it a couple of feet and let it rest again. Give it a few wiggles, then repeat. Continue until the bait is back at the boat.

Whatever type of rig or water you’re fishing, when you feel the slightest nudge on the line or see the line move in an unexpected way, set the hook immediately with a quick lift of the rod top. Don’t give the fish time to reject the bait. Setting the hook doesn’t cost you a thing. Failing to do so will cost you a fish.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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Ice Surprises!

If you’re an ice fishermen, you’ll enjoy some unexpected surprises this season – not only in the size or amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch – but also how quickly and easily you’ll be able to drill through the ice to reach them, and the whole new level of comfort and convenience you’ll enjoy once you do it.

If you’ve used any other hand ice auger before, you’ll really be surprised how quickly and easily Eskimo’s Barracuda hand auger tears through the ice without tearing up your arms. The Barracuda has three height adjustments, includes a palm grip handle for added comfort and it’s also available with a choice of 6-inch or 8-inch dual stainless steel TurboCut blades. TurboCut blades are tough, durable and curved to help you drill faster. They’re also replaceable and include a blade protector to help guard against accidental damage. And, with Eskimo’s two-piece Crossbolt Takedown System, the Barracuda can be disassembled quickly and easily with just a twist of a knob.

If you prefer to power your way through the ice, grab hold of Eskimo’s Stingray power auger. The Stingray is equipped with a high-performance 33cc Viper engine rated at 1.2 horsepower. Eskimo Brand says, “Eskimo saw the need for an economical high performance engine. We found an engine manufacturer with a large engineering staff that was willing to work with our engineers to develop a high performance engine that hit our price target. The Viper is a powerful, durable and reliable two-cycle engine that really will surprise you.”

The Stingray also features primer start, muffler and carburetor guards, a see through gas tank, a heavy duty gear case and 8-inch diameter dual stainless steel Quantum blades for maximum performance. According to Eskimo Brand, “Our Quantum blades cut faster, last longer and have smoother breakthrough than any other power auger blades. The design also features an exclusive centering ring that prevents drilling angled holes. So, the Stingray delivers outstanding power and performance at the best price.”

And, once you’re on the fish, you can now also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience. Frabill, Inc. of Jackson, WI is celebrating 70 years of providing the most trusted gear in the fishing industry by introducing the Refuge, a new cabin-style ice shelter that’s loaded with unexpected surprises.

“We’ve put a lot of extras into the Refuge,” says Frabill. “For example, we added a pre-assembled galvanized steel Quick-Set frame. Just flip it up, and go fishing. Refuge will accommodate up to three anglers, plus gear. It has two oversized doors with heavy-duty zippers, a fully carpeted floor, four removable clear-view windows and a four-foot by six-foot footprint with 72-inch of head room.” Mobility is another welcome surprise. Cabin-style portables aren’t supposed to be mobile, but the Refuge folds into a tight package and weighs only 44-pounds, so it easily fits into most smaller SUVs and trucks.

If you need more room, just step into Frabill’s Outpost Hub Shanty. It’s ready to fish, with room for up to three anglers plus their gear. The Outpost features a Quick-Set frame, has a six-foot by six-foot footprint, includes four removable clear-view windows and the high-profile roof design offers 80-inches of head room. An oversized corner door with a heavy-duty zipper allows easy entry and exit, and Frabill’s adjustable MaxVent system helps minimize interior condensation.

According to Frabill, “The Outpost is ideal as a base camp, cook house, warming house or final fishing destination. And, room isn’t the only pleasant surprise. The Outpost is also incredibly lightweight, weighing in at only 24 pounds.”

Both the Refuge and the Outpost feature amazingly durable, high-quality 300 Denier tent material with extra polyurethane coatings for water-resistance, durability and maximum protection from extreme weather conditions. The black exterior color also warms faster.

Or, if a “quick fish” single-person ice shelter is more your style, Frabill’s Recon is designed just for you. The Recon has a molded sled runner base for easy towing over snow or ice, a durable steel conduit frame, includes two removable clear-view windows, and has a 50-inch by 29-inch footprint with 57-inches of head room. Recon’s exclusive “flip-over” windbreak roof design also includes a vented roof to improve airflow and minimize condensation. The Arctic Armor Tent provides superior protection from the elements, yet remains pliable no matter what the temperature. It’s also removable for cleaning and off-season storage. The Recon is also compact enough to fit into most car trunks and weights only 32 pounds.

So, now you can tear through the ice more quickly and easily than ever before, and also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience after you do it. The only surprise left is size and amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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