Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bass Fishing

Bass fishing is one of the most common types of fishing. Many bass fish are found in bayou water and salt water. They also move through lakes, ponds, reservoirs and streams. If you know the basics regarding conditions and places where bass are likely to be, you will have more success when you fish for them.
Many variables change the location of bass, such as water conditions, water levels, weather, and light and food availability. There are three main elements that must be present in a body of water in order for bass to survive: Food, oxygen, and cover.
A bass’ favorite meal is crawfish, which they prefer over shad. Basically, crawfish are usually more plentiful and they are easy for the Bass to catch. However, a bass will typically eat anything from rats, mice, ducklings, frogs, snakes, salamanders, worms, lizards, grubs, baitfish, insects, and leeches. Their ability to feast on one thing above another is why many people find such enjoyment from fishing bass.
Oxygen is another key component in finding bass fish. The basic rule of thumb is that the cooler the water, the more oxygen content. Therefore, if you are fishing in the spring, summer or early fall, you will find that the larger bass will drop down lower to find the cooler and more oxygen-filled water. They will also swim to find areas that are more concentrated in vegetation in order to find a better oxygen source. Trees, stumps, wind-blown banks, and power plants are all good sources of oxygen that will attract bass fish.
A bass relies on cover for a means of protection and way of ambush. Cover is part of a bass’ survival. The bass is known as a lazy fish, so they will hide and wait for their prey to come to them. The other reason for cover is that bass fish do not have eyelids and the cover is a way to prevent blindness. Some common cover areas to find bass in are around fabricated wood structures such as fencerows, docks, and pilings. They have been known to hide under floating pieces of wood or decaying wood. Weeds are the second best place to hunt for bass. Finally, rocks are the third place that bass will find cover. Rocks are not as reliable as weeds or wood, but sometimes a bass will find decaying pieces of food to feast on within some rocks. Remember that rocks do not produce oxygen, so the source is not as consistent.
When it comes to fishing, everyone has a different opinion. You will often find that these opinions range in location and source. However, there are some lures and baits that are recommended for bass fishing that may be useful if you haven’t tried them. Tequila colored 7-inch worms with added scent are recommended, as well as Rebel Wee-Rs. Hellgrammites are thought to be the best live bait, and many will say that you don’t need big lures to attract big bass. Everyone will tell you to tie up to an embankment, or find a dock to get close to, but it is really an art that could take years to perfect.
Bass are notorious for slow moving and lack of distance in their movements. Logically, you could sit 30 feet from the biggest bass of your life, and he is not going to swim to your bait out of pure laziness. Finding the exact spot is difficult and a lot of fishing has to do with luck. The only part that you can control is finding the most likely places that a bass may be and exercise some patience. Weather is important to bass as well. If it is a cloudy day, you might have more luck than on a hot summer day. However, overcast is probably ideal for water temperatures, but then you have to decide what you are willing to sit through in order to catch a fish. The bottom line with bass fishing is you can only do your best with the knowledge at hand.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Before you attempt to catch fish, you need to find out where they are.

Remember that fish are found nearly everywhere there is water with sufficient levels of food, oxygen, and cover. You are certain to be within a relatively close distance to a body of water that has fish living in it. For an angler, this is good news. They are there - now you have to find them! All fish are different. Because of this, they do not all live in the same kind of waters. Fish tolerate different environmental conditions. Some of these include differing levels of salt, amounts of oxygen, types and amounts of food, water temperature, and hiding areas. The most distinguishing element of fish is salt. Some fish do not live in areas where there is a lot of salt. On the other hand, some fish need salt to survive. There are also some types of fish that can live in both saltwater and freshwater. Freshwater ponds, reservoirs, and rivers contain significantly less salt than the ocean. North America has a majority of freshwater bodies. Some of the fish that you will find in these freshwater bodies are the bluegill, carp, catfish, crappie, and bass. In contrast, many species of fish live in the ocean's salty water. Thanks to their kidneys, these fish are able to keep the proper balance of salt in their body. The more popular saltwater fish are the bluefish, cod, sea trout, tuna, and flounder. Another factor that weighs heavily on where you will find certain fish is oxygen. All fish must have a certain level of oxygen to survive. Some fish, such as carp, survive on less oxygen than fish like trout. The living plants within a lake or stream directly affect the amount of oxygen in the water. They add oxygen to the water through photosynthesis. This process uses sunlight to make food. Oxygen also makes its way into water from the surrounding air. You will find certain fish in certain bodies of water based on what kind of food is there. It is based on the amount and type of food available in a setting. All fish need to eat, so the amount of competition with other fish is a factor that determines which fish will be in certain areas. Fish prefer different water temperatures. Some fish are flexible. They have the ability to live in a wide range of temperatures. Other fish, however, need either cold or warm water to survive. Trout is an example of this. You will only find trout in cold water. Your best bet for finding a certain type of fish is to learn about the type of water it prefers. They are most often found in water that is close to their preferred temperature.
We, as humans, can control one factor when it comes to where fish live. Water quality often determines where a fish will live and we have the means to ensure a high level of water quality. All fish must have water that has adequate levels of oxygen. Good-quality water will obviously support more species of fish than water that is polluted. Water that is stagnant, polluted, or lacking adequate oxygen simply cannot support a large group of fish. While some fish, such as carp, live in water that is not very clean, most fish need a high quality of water in order to survive. Discovering the places where fish live is the first step to successful fishing. Several factors come into play when looking for a fish's habitat. Some of these are the levels of salt and oxygen found in water. Another factor is the temperature of the water. All fish are different. Because of this, it benefits you, the angler, to take the time necessary to find the bodies of water in which they live.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fishing With GPS

In this day and age, you would be hard pressed to find a fishing boat without some sort of fish finding device. GPS devices have become the latest in technology and water safety when it comes to fishing. They are used as a means of navigation and a way to mark your spot so that you can find it again in the future.
A GPS is a Global Positioning System that is made primarily for navigational purposes. They work off a network of satellites that are placed into orbit by the United States Government. The best part about a GPS system is that because they operate off satellite, they can be used in any weather conditions at any hour of the day.
The satellites will circle the earth twice during the day and transmit signal information to Earth. The signals can then be used to calculate the user’s exact location by implementing triangulation and pinpointing exact spots. Triangulation means that the GPS receiver must be locked into three spots before a calculation of longitude and latitude can be displayed. After the satellites have mapped the location, the GPS can narrow in on other satellites for useful information such as speed, track, trip distance, destination distance and sunrise or sunset times.
The accuracy of the GPS system is very acute because of the multi-channel designs that are available. A GPS will lock onto a satellite and maintain that lock through one of their channels. A GPS fish finder is accurate up to fifteen meters while the newer models increase in accuracy up to three meters.
There are many benefits to investing in a GPS and people are using GPS more regularly and relying on them more than the more traditional ways of navigation such as maps and charts. If you have plot points that you have saved on a GPS, you may be able to save time and frustration on the open seas by going directly to the location that had the fish the last time you went out. Another advantage to the GPS is that it can detect hot fishing spots that may not be detected by older maps or charts. In addition, if you find a perfect fishing spot, you can share it with a friend when you go fishing on another boat.
GPS systems are also a great safety tool when you are out on the water. Many times, especially if there are many people socializing on a boat, it can be easy to lose concentration. People will easily be turned around or lost and a GPS is an easy tool to use to find your way back home. You can also use a GPS system if there is unexpected bad weather such as fog or heavy rain. GPS systems are also equipped with mapping software that makes it easier to find a dock. The GPS is so accurate that it is able to communicate exact positions to the Coast Guard or rescue crew if an emergency arises.
You can purchase a handheld GPS online or at your local marine or boating store. Ask a salesperson to help explain the different features and costs for the varying models. If you decide to purchase your boat from a dealer, you will need a built-in GPS. Your local boat supplier will be able to give you a reference to someone who can properly install your electronics. You should never rely on just one navigation tool when you are fishing. A GPS seems to cover all of the bases, but it is still a computerized tool. You should always be proactive about your safety and always have marine maps and charts onboard at all times. You should also have a handheld radio handy in case of emergencies.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Catch and Release Fishing

Fishing is a sport, but it has become less about survival and more about fun in recent decades. There is an issue of fish becoming depleted and many anglers are now employing the practice of catch and release fishing. Catch and release fishing is a great theory, but many people are doing it incorrectly and as a result many fish are dying. A few steps should be followed when trying to catch and release a fish. Once you get the hang of how to do it correctly, you will be able to enjoy your hobby and keep the population of fish full in your favorite stream or lake.
The best place to start is with the hooks. A fish that has a hole through its mouth is going to be more likely to survive than a fish with a hole in its lung or gill. If you happen to hook a fish in the gut, the best thing to do is to cut off the hook as much as you can then release the fish. Many times the hook will dissolve and the fish will spit it out, but they can also live with a rusted hook hanging from them. Whatever you do, do not tug on your line to pull a hook out or you will severely hurt the fish. If you are able to easily remove the hook, use a pair of needle nose pliers. The process of pulling the hook out is easier if you remove the barbs from the hooks, but try not to wiggle while you pull the hook out.
Fish are obviously unable to survive outside of the water. Therefore, the longer that it takes you to release them, the more it becomes as if you are suffocating them. The way that a fish is gripped when out of the water will make a big difference. For instance, avoid touch a fish’s body with your bare hands. The fish have a slimy protective coat that will be stripped if you touch them with your hands. If you have to touch a fish, make sure that your hands are wet. You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands from cuts or permeating fish smells.
Part of the fun in fishing is to “play out” the fish. The struggle can be what some anglers wait all day to do. Fish are like humans; when they “work out,” they build up lactic acid. When you are fighting a fish, they are fighting too. Just like when someone works his or her body out and it feels sore, a fish experiences the same thing. The build up of lactic acid can be toxic to a fish even days later. Therefore, if you are going to practice catch and release, try to keep the struggle to a minimum.
Try not to let a fish flop around when you catch them. A fish that flops around can bruise or damage its internal organs, causing them to die later from the injuries that are incurred. You can also revive a fish if you need to do so. A fish is likely to run out of oxygen and pass out, so to speak. In order to revive a fish, you place the fish in the water with their belly down and gently grasp their tail. Start to slowly move their tail back and forth until they give you the signal that they are ready to take off into the water. Sometimes you will need to repeat the process more than once, but don’t let a fish go until they are ready. A fish that is not ready to swim could get carried away and swept into rocks or embankment and cause serious injury.
More than anything, when you are practicing catch and release, have everything ready to go. Make sure that your camera, pliers, and gloves are in reaching distance. Try to take the precautions necessary to preserve fish and one of America’s favorite pastimes.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fishing with Live Bait

There are many myths that surround using live bait instead of artificial and most of them are not true. Live bait is still used by many anglers. The one factual part of live bait, which no one can dispute, it that is often messy, and it smells terrible. If you can surmount these two factors, you will be in good shape to try live bait on your next fishing outing.
There are some basic principles that should not be ignored when using live bait. None of the principles concerning live bait are clean or nice, but they are mandatory. You should never handle live bait when your hands are dry. Bait has a slimy layer on the outside, which is protective as well as inviting to predators, and if your hands are dry you will risk removing that layer.
If you are running short on live bait, try to save the bait that dies in your live well or in a nearby bucket. When your live bait has run out, you will still be able to use the freshly dead bait on your hook to attract fish. All you have to do is cast your line and bob it a little to give the appearance that your decoy has some life left. Be careful of the weight that you put on a line with live bait. Fish are going to spot a weight if it is too heavy and weighting down the bait. Your weight or sinker should be light enough to give the bait the appearance of free floating in the water.
Seasonal fishing can change the perspective on live bait. For instance, the summer months can be brutal, especially in the South. You may need to adjust your thinking and practices when the summer months hit. Keeping the bait alive will be the hardest obstacle for any angler in the summer. In order to keep your bait living, you will need to change out the water regularly so that the oxygen can keep flowing through to the bait. However, you can’t just stop at changing out the water.
The temperature of the water is crucial because the water on the surface is hot and deadly for living bait. Therefore, having ice on hand to put into the live well will be the most beneficial way of keeping your live bait happy until they reach the hook. There is also a bait shortage during the summer months on things like shrimp and live croaker. You will save yourself a lot of time if you call the bait shop the night before to ensure that the bait you want is available. The shrimp are the most common bait in the summertime, but they are not as effective as you may think. When everyone is using shrimp, the fish are not as excited by them because they see them everywhere. Try using a baitfish that is not as often used in the summer months and guarantee a better chance of catching a fish.
Some other tips you should keep in mind when fishing with live bait is to never hook your live bait in the eyes. The reason is that you want the bait to see the fish approach them because they will become more excited and it will cause the fish to latch on better. Another thing is that you should add water softener salt to the water that is holding your live bait. The salt will make the scales of your bait harder while instantaneously preserving the slimy coat that attracts predators.
Lastly, you should make sure that you know how to properly throw a casting net before trying to catch bait. People often times throw the net too hard or too soft and this results in frustration and a net that does not consistently open.
Live bait can come in handy when you are trying to have a big day out at sea. Reason and logic will tell you that a fish would be more attracted to real food as oppose to faux food. However, the live bait does increase the workload so make sure you are prepared to deal with the entire package before committing to fishing with live bait.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lure Terminology

There are many ways to lure in fish to your boat. Words like rigging, chumming, and luring come to mind. However, there are many varieties when it comes to lures and trying to decipher between all of them can be a confusing process. In addition, knowing when to “chum” as oppose to “lure” can be equally challenging when you are ready to catch the most fish that you can.
When deciding whether you should lure or chum, you should be aware of what type of fish you are trying to catch. Chum is a mess to make, distribute and to store so be sure that you are using it for the right reasons. Lures are used the majority of the time, but if you are dealing with fish who heavily use their sense of smell, lures may be a waste of time. As a general rule of thumb, chum is used in order to bring fish to the boat and lures are generally used for spot fishing.
When you decide to use a lure, what type do you choose? There are many different kinds of lures and they are used in different regions for a variety of purposes. If you learn the basics then you will not have to look like a novice by reading the back of the package will perusing the aisles in the stores.
A lure is defined as an object, often designed to resemble a fish’s prey, and they usually come equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish. You will attach a lure to the end of your fishing line and throw it out into the water until a fish takes a bite. The one exception to the rule is the fly lure, which is used to float on the water’s surface mimicking the movement of an insect. You can also troll lure behind a boat to create the appearance of a living animal in the water. Some of the different types of lures are classified as jigs, wobblers, spinner, spoon lures, plugs, fly lures, and worms.
Jigs are made of weighted metal heads and a tail that is made from animal hair, soft plastic, feathers, or rubber. A minnow can sometimes to be added or a piece of meat can be attached to the end of the hook. Jigs can be used for almost any kind of saltwater or freshwater fishing.
A spoon is a metal lure that looks similar to a bait fish. These lures are meant to be cast or to be trolled behind a moving vessel. The plastic belts are the most commonly thought of baits. They are the plastic worms that are sometimes scented in order to attract more fish. The plastic belts can be used with or without a weight, but a jig head, spinner, or a spinner bait always accompanies them.
Plugs are made from plastic or wood and can be used on top of the water. There is a separate category of plugs called diving plugs that are designed to plunge into a certain depth of the water.
The spinners have blades that spin around a wire shaft, and they are made of plastic or animal hair. The spinner baits are the lures with more than one blade that spin around a safety shaft. They are characterized by ‘skirts’, which are made of animal hair, vinyl, rubber, and other materials.
Lastly are the poppers and flies. These baits are primarily used for panfish, trout, and bass. Fly-tying is a harder concept to learn, making these lures unique.
Lures are tested and decided upon by the individual. Many lures are determined to be useful by trying them out time and time again. When you become comfortable with a certain type of lure, you will be able to expand on its possibilities, making it more individualized for your fishing purposes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tackle Box Must Haves

You cannot have success at any sport if you do not have the right equipment. When people think of fishing, they automatically think of rods, reels, and bait. However, you cannot underestimate the power of the tackle box because it plays an important role in the success of your fishing expeditions.
Many people covet their tackle boxes because they represent a lifetime of trials and tribulations regarding what methods work for which fish. If you are a novice in the world of fishing, you could find yourself overwhelmed with the possibilities and choices that are available. Starting your tackle box can seem challenging, but if you stick to the basics, you will be able to get started without a hitch.
The first thing that you need is to pick out a box. A tackle box should be strong and able to handle wear and tear easily. The plastic tackle boxes are usually thick and come with strong handles making it easier to lug back and forth between boat, river, and pier trips. The most important thing when deciding on a box is the latch. Your tackle box must have a sturdy latch because you do not want everything to spill out on the dock or into the water. When you are in a boating store, pull on the latch and test it before you decide on a purchase.
Some essentials to keep in a tackle box are hooks, lines, and sinkers. Hooks are an important part of fishing because without them you will not be catching very much. The larger the number size of the hook, the smaller the hook actually is. When you buy line, make sure that your line fits your reel. Keep an extra spool in your box for just-in-case purposes.
Sinkers are important for helping your bait to catch fish below the surface of the water. In order to get your line to the bottom you are going to need split-shot sinkers. Sinkers are made from different materials, but the safest are the ones that are made from steel, tin, and non-toxic metals. Some of the sinkers are made from lead and they can potentially poison some types of fish.
Lures are going to be the next thing that you add to your tackle box. There are many different types of lures ranging in all colors, shapes, sizes, and material. Different fish are attracted to different types of lures. For instance, a kingfish will be more attracted by a lure with glitter while a bass will be more attracted to a worm shaped lure. Make sure to know what the fish you are trying to catch like to eat before you buy.
Some fun gadgets that may be useful are the leaders, snap swivels, fingernail clippers, needle-nose pliers, practice plugs, stringers, and maps. Maps are obvious because you need to know how to get to your favorite fishing spots. However, the other things may need some greater explanation. A leader is a piece of line with a metal core that will keep a fish from biting off the line and escaping. A snap swivel will prevent tangles in your line and a practice plug is for casting. Lastly, a stringer will help you to keep your catch fresh in the water.
Once you start fishing regularly, you will find out which lures are useful and which one don’t help at all. You will discover the tools that you use the most and the ones that are just collecting dust. Hopefully, you will try new things and maybe put your own spin on some old ones and build the perfect tackle box for you.