The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 15 No. 10 - December 31, 2014

reel time

Resolutions for anglers

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun

Bring in a new view of fishing in 2015

I think New Year’s resolutions were invented to remind us of all the things on our perpetual (as in they never quite get done) to do list. We start to become aware of them as the holidays approach and they begin to coalesce into lists as the New Year approaches. These are reminders of the way we would like things to be and although they might actually never get done, just keeping them in mind can be helpful.

Anglers are no different, listing resolutions such as keeping our tackle in order (being able to find what we want when we need it). It’s amazing how many times I’ve come across something I’ve been looking for, right when I don’t need it. And while it might not be needed at the moment, I sure can remember when it would have come in handy one day on the water.

Now after years of failed attempts at keeping resolutions, I think it best never to make them in the first place. After all, the things we really need can fit on a fairly short list. In thinking back over the years I’ve come up with a list that I think will make future resolutions obsolete. Here are my top items to improve your fishing odds over the coming year:

Make a plan to fish places you run by on the way to your favorite fishing hole. Spend a day fishing places you’ve never fished before and try different techniques. One of the things I highly recommend is that anglers that only fish live bait resolve to spend a day fishing with artificial lures. If you don’t have any idea what to use, start with jigs try spending a day really giving them a chance – you might be surprised.

While I’m a firm believer in having a plan, make sure that you remain flexible. Don’t be so focused on heading to one of your favorite fishing spots that you miss the signs of action along the way.

One of the most important things on any angler’s to do list is to have the right equipment for the kind of fishing you want to do. You won’t need a surf rod with 40-pound monofilament line to fish for trout and redfish, and you don’t want to take your 8-pound spinning outfit offshore to fish for grouper and snapper over ledges and wrecks. When you do match up your outfit, make sure the reel is the right size for the rod and that the line is the right size for the reel. Also make sure the spool is filled to capacity. Matching a 10-pound spinning or bait-casting outfit means the right reel for the rod and the right line for the reel. The same goes for a larger rig that you might use offshore.

Sure you can catch a 2-pound trout on a 30-pound rig and if you’re lucky you might land a large grouper on an eight weight outfit, but in neither case, will it be much fun for you or your catch!

Once you’ve got the right rig the next most important thing on the list is to set the drag. It’s a shame to lose a fish because your drag was too light and the hook wouldn’t set or if the drag was too tight and the line breaks. Know what you’re after and set the drag with intention before the bait or lure ever hits the water.

Learning to tie good strong knots and making sure you don’t forget important steps should be a high priority. Probably more fish are lost to poorly tied knots than any other reason. Remember that the line will part at a poorly tied knot, especially one that slips. It’s important to draw knots down tight with pliers and the aid of a little saliva. You don’t have to learn to tie lots of different knots, just make sure you do a good job on the ones you do tie.

Last on this list but definitely not least is making sure your hooks are sharp. Have sharp hooks sharpened when you hit the water and make sure they stay sharp throughout the day. I’ve learned from experience to have a hook sharpener on hand and to check the sharpness of the hook numerous times during an outing.

Have the right equipment, have everything in good working order, have a plan, be flexible with that plan and you’ll have all your angling New Year’s resolutions filled.