Fishing Tips

When it comes to Fishing, we've been there, done that, now serving 258 tips in 21 categories ranging from Author Intro to When the Bite is Tough.

Is it important to change fishing line on my reels every year even if I did not use it much last season?

Spool Up New Line for the New Walleye Fishing Season

Considering that one of the most important connections an angler has to a fish is his or her fishing line, starting off the season with last season’s line still on your reels is not a good idea. Whether your target is walleye, bass or panfish, fresh fishing line will ensure you get the best performance from your presentations, not to mention you'll be more apt to end the fishing trip with stories of great catches instead of tales of the "one that got away".
For you walleye anglers, most of the early season action is typically centered on jigging. This means your spinning tackle should get first priority. When it comes to lines for jigging, no-stretch “super lines” or braided lines are tough to beat. These lines feature thin diameter for their pound-test weight and great sensitivity, allowing you to feel every bite. If you are an angler that prefers monofilament style lines, stick with lines in the 6 or 8 pound test range. Monofilament offers a little more stretch for fighting big fish and are generally much less expensive than the braided varieties.
Pay close attention when spooling your reels making sure the line does not twist as it goes on the spool. To make sure you put the right amount of line on each reel, spool the line on until there's about an eighth of an inch of spool lip visible.
Don't start your fishing season off on the wrong foot. Spool up with fresh fishing line and be ready to land the big ones.

Are there any modifications to "standard" bass lures that will make them more effective?

Building My Favorite Popper for Bass Fishing

I LOVE fishing topwater lures for bass! There's simply few angling experiences more thrilling than the surface explosion of a fish taking a bait as you watch it happen before your eyes. And while there are about as many types of topwater lures as there are ... well, let's just say there's a lot ... I find few as versatile and effective as a popper.

But as a self-proclaimed "Tackle Tinkerer," I've never found a "perfect popper" right out of the package. For my money, it takes a few modifications to make the Perfect Popper, and it starts with the right lure, a Storm Rattlin' Chug Bug. I like these because they have a more subtle pop than most other poppers, and with the right modification and a little practice, you can "walk the dog" with this bait adding to it's deadlines.

Step #1: Change out the factory hooks for more premium hooks - I use Mustad Triple Grips, including a Mustad Dressed Triple Grip Treble on the rear. (I like a red hook on the front - just personal preference.) The feathers of the Mustad Dressed Treble give a much more seductive action than the stiff and flashy dressing that comes on the factory rear hook.

Step #2: I add an oblong split ring for a line tie. I just find this to be an easy and effective way to ensure the best action when working the lure. The oblong split ring also makes it tougher for the line to get caught in the wire of the ring when fishing, lessening the chances of break-offs from line wear. This style of split ring is a little tough to find, but well worth the effort.

Step #3: The final step may well be the most important one, at least as far as making this lure "dance" like no other. I add a Storm SuspenStrip to the belly of the lure near the rear. The SuspenStrip is a small (1" x 1/4") self-adhesive strip of lead tape. The added weight makes the lure sit "tail down" when at rest. It's my opinion that this position combined with the action of the feather tail helps trigger more bites when the lure is at rest between pops, as well as making it easier to "walk" the bait on a steadier "stop & go" retrieve.

There may not be any "Secret Weapon Lure" when it comes to bass fishing, but in my experience, a well fished popper that has been modified to get the optimum action and attraction is tough to beat.

Which end of the boat do I anchor from in a river?

Anchoring Safely

Never anchor from the stern, or the rear of the boat, in a river. When the anchor line is attached to the rear of the boat the force of the current pulls the boat against the flowing water and the stern will submerge, causing the boat to sink. Always, always anchor from the bow of the boat. Your bow will keep you above the water level except for in the swiftest water and you'll stay on top of the water where you want to be.

Having an anchor rope for a small fishing boat that is five to seven times longer than the water is deep is about right for safe anchoring. Any less means fast water can pull you dangerously low and you can risk swamping or having your anchor give way. Too long of a rope means you will come to rest hopelessly far from where you tossed the anchor overboard and you'll have to make your way back upstream to reach your fishing spot.

Safety on the river is first. You'll be underwater with the fish if you're not anchoring safely.

How do I tell the difference between a sauger, saugeye and walleye?

Tricky Identification

Identifying a saugeye from a walleye or a sauger is no easy task. Saugers are primarily big-river fish and there won't be too many walleyes and saugeyes crossing paths with it. The real problem lies in distinguishing the saugeye from a walleye. Saugeyes are the hybrid between walleyes and saugers that are commonly stocked into shallow lakes. They grow fast and within three or four years can be 15 inches long or so, and though usually produced under artificial hatchery conditions, the hybridization can occur naturally as well. They're a lot of fun to catch and taste great on the plate.

Saugeyes have markings on their sides that resemble saddles, similar to the sauger, but may have some white pigment on the lower part of their tail in combination with dark bars on the dorsal fin membranes. Walleye don't have the saddle markings on their sides, have white pigment on their tails and sport solid shading on the dorsal fin membranes.

What's a fool-proof way to take rainbow trout?

Rolling a Worm for Rainbows

Fishing for rainbow trout means fishing with finesse. Many anglers specialize in dry or wet flies, spawn sacs and other creative but sometimes expensive methods of catching these beautiful fish. But even with the help of modern fishing technology, there isn't much that beats rolling a worm for rainbows.

Simply thread a small or medium-sized earthworm onto a tiny trout hook on line no thicker than 2- to 5-pound test monofilament line. Line any thicker will spook these wary fish. You won't need any weight except for a tiny sinker a foot or so above the hook.

Toss the worm into current and let it roll down into the dark depths of a hole in the river bottom. The hole should be bordered by an undercut bank, overhanging tree or tree roots, or a drop-off created by the current washing around a rock or a log. Any trout that is in the hole knows how to work the current for food that might be swept into the hole, so let the worm drift freely. A trout that is the least bit interested in a snack will readily take the earthworm with little problem.

Use fresh worms that are lively enough to attract the attention of the trout. You may have to change worms frequently. Make certain that you are silent on the bank, using gentle footsteps that will muffle any vibration. Peeking into the water can kill the bite in a heartbeat as rainbows can be spooked easily.

How do rainstorms affect river fishing?

Don't Give Up on that Fishing Hole

Many anglers make the mistake of trying a river spot that looks promising and then abandoning it when it fails to produce. What they don't know is that what may have been a dead section of river can tomorrow be a hotspot.

Smaller river fishing intensely affected by rainfall and far more dependent on the flows and water levels than are lakes. A rainstorm will raise a river as much as a few feet and completely change the nature of a given stretch of river overnight. What that means to the wise angler is that he needs to treat it like a new spot.

A particular hole may hold a couple of carp and a bullhead for weeks with little sign of anything else. A gully-washer that nearly overflows the banks can go through with the result that this same hole in the riverbottom is now filled with scrappy smallmouth bass, rock bass and big sunfish. Another gully washer in a week or so can move these fish downstream and bring in the catfish.

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Phyllis Serbes
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