May 2007

May 2007
May 2007
May 2007
May 2007
May 2007
May 2007

BAIT FISHING IN LAKES


by Bob Jones

Some anglers question the use of bait while others oppose it entirely. Although entitled to their opinions, I have never believed that any one group of anglers has the right to force their beliefs or artificial standards on others. Angling with bait is a valid part of our fishing heritage, and many of us, including the most dedicated of fly fishers, got our start by impaling a squirming worm on a hook. If you doubt this view, please locate a copy of Roderick Haig-Brown’s masterpiece A Primer of Fly Fishing and read the first chapter: The virtues of fishing with worms.

An unfortunate truth about fishing with bait is that some trout are hooked deep in the gills, throat or stomach, which usually spells their doom, even if released. Those hooked in the gills are almost certain to die, for with their limited blood supply the slightest loss is usually fatal. Trout hooked in the throat or stomach stand a better chance of survival if the leader is simply cut and the hook left in place.

Enter the circle hook, long associated with saltwater commercial halibut fishing. Unlike traditional J-shaped hooks, circle hooks can be ingested and then usually withdrawn without hooking any vital organs or gills. Because of their radically turned-in point, as a fish swims away from the line of pull, the swallowed hook is withdrawn into the mouth and then turns and catches on the hinge of the fish’s jaw.

Yet another interesting concept in the field of hooks has been the anodizing process that creates bright colours like red, green and blue, all of which trout find attractive.

Then there are the upgrades in fishing lines. At one time the strongest line that could be used efficiently with lightweight and ultralight spinning tackle was premium grade 6-pound test nylon monofilament. Now, with 10-pound test monofilament Spectra even smaller in diameter, anglers have the choice of increasing the strength of their line or going to an even smaller diameter line. Upping the line test rather than decreasing its diameter follows the general rule of using lines and leader tippets as strong as possible to reduce break-offs of fish, and increases the rate of recovering snagged tackle accordingly.

Consistent bait fishing success often relates to using small diameter line, a bare minimum of sinker weight, and no extraneous items like snaps and swivels, thereby presenting bait in as natural a manner as possible. At times this means simply tying a hook directly onto the main line and eliminating the sinker. Obviously, extra-long casts are out of the question, but it’s surprising how far a large worm can be lobbed with light line. And how often they are picked up while sinking slowly and tantalizingly toward bottom.

Bobbers can help in many situations. Round models support a lot of weight but have two flaws: their low profile in the water makes them difficult to see, and their buoyancy warns biting fish that something is amiss. Better choices are slender torpedo- or cigar-shaped bobbers, for both types float high in the water for good visibility, yet are easily pulled under.

Available in wood, cork, flexible foam plastic and rigid hollow plastic, bobbers are usually positioned on the main line by means of a tapered peg forced into a centre hole or slot, or by a spring-loaded clip. A free-sliding bobber works best for fishing in deep water, for it move freely on the main line until reaching a “stopper” positioned at the desired depth.

The general rule for choosing bobbers is: no larger than necessary. Few things look as ridiculous as someone fishing for 10-inch trout with a fist-sized bobber on the line.

It wasn’t too many years ago when “bait fishing” meant using worms, roe, cheese, corn or whatever, but this has changed dramatically since the introduction of biodegradable, edible products like Berkley PowerBait and Mister Twister Exude. The range of colours, shapes, sizes and scents available is absolutely mind-boggling, so your best approach is to experiment and/or ask around to determine what works best.
The beauty of soft baits and action baits is they require no refrigeration and keep indefinitely as long as they are kept sealed in their jars or plastic bags between use. Some soft baits are buoyant, so they float slightly above bottom and make a more visible target, while action baits that resemble aquatic creatures or small fish can be cast and retrieved, or simply allowed to rest on the bottom.

Despite the popularity of these various commercial baits, natural baits still produce good results for many anglers. If you have ever wondered why earthworms are so universally popular, stroll along the bank of almost any creek or river after a heavy rain. Located in many quiet backwaters and pools you will often find worms that have washed out of the earthen banks. Which is why wherever streams drain into lakes, worms become a natural food for fish.

Red wigglers, garden worms, night crawlers (dew worms), and manure worms are the four most common earthworms found here on the Island. The first three are excellent baits, but manure worms (also called stink worms) are of questionable value.

Healthy, frisky worms make the best bait. Keeping them that way can be a problem during hot weather, but a few precautions will keep them lively. One of the best methods is to place them in a small wooden or Styrofoam box filled with damp moss, or layers of moist burlap or newspaper. If the temperatures are scorching, lay a freezer bag on top of the bedding and keep the container in a shady spot at all times.
Worms hooked once behind the “collar” last longer and present the most natural silhouette, but are easily torn from the hook by bait-stealing nibblers. Two, three, or even four small red wigglers threaded onto a hook creates a writhing ball of animation that is a real attention-getter for suspending beneath a bobber or bottom fishing.

Worms trailed behind spinners or gang trolls can be threaded on in such a manner that fish cannot easily tear them free. Besides, once attracted by those flashing spinner blades, trout are seldom fussy about whether their intended meal is streaming or in a ball.

Many “unnatural” baits also attract trout: cheese, miniature marshmallows and, so help me, small pieces of garlic sausage are some that I have seen used with varying degrees of success. There is some controversy over the use of canned corn niblets, the concern being whether or not trout can digest them. After researching the subject I have decided that this might definitely prove a problem where anglers are chumming with corn, thereby allowing fish to gorge on it, especially in cold water when their metabolism is slow. However, this is simply not a problem here in BC because our freshwater regulations explicitly prohibit chumming with any substance. Therefore, feel free to use corn if you wish. And if you don’t like natural yellow, simply colour it red or orange with food dye. This makes them look similar to single salmon eggs, which just happen to be another natural bait that is popular with bait anglers -- and trout.

 

Huxley’s Run: 

A FLY FISHERMAN’S THEORY OF GOLF


by Dr. Adipose Huxley

Theoretically, my ball would fly daringly low over the sand trap, skirt the pond, hook at the perfect time, land just before the green, and then roll to within inches of the pin. In reality, the huge pelt of fairway went much farther than that little white sphere of dimpled addiction, which bounded twice sideways into the water.

  theoretically, the 3-iron would rocket my ball out from the rough, neatly clearing two huge fir trees, then arc missile-like onto the green. In reality it ricocheted off several trees, parted my hair and that of my three companions, and ended up so deep in the woods that I would need bear spray for the search.

Theoretically, the cough in the middle of my back swing would not affect my concentration in the least. In reality, the torque created by my jump-started swing killed 32 earthworms, started a new drill site for the local mine, and drove the tee all the way to China.

Theoretically, the crowd gathered at the 18th green would hear that I was on my way to set a course record, and would wait anxiously for autographs. In reality, the gathered crowd were all of the golfers who were hit or forced to duck by all of my errant shots.

Theoretically, I’m a scratch golfer. In reality, I got this label because of my habit of raising one hand to my head and scratching thoughtfully after every shot.

Theoretically, the wedge is a vital tool that will increase your accuracy to the green, allow better ball placement there and reduce your total score. In reality, the wedge was the instrument of choice for medieval torture chambers, and its forced use is being considered by the Canadian penal system as a replacement for life imprisonment.

Theoretically, the putter was designed with a flat face to give golfers increased accuracy on the green. In reality, the putter has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and is only used by serious golfers who like to pretend they really want to make that five-foot putt and not take a “gimme.”

Theoretically, my first shot out of the sand trap would pop up perfectly just beyond the pin and then spun back to lip the cup. In reality, after my 20th shot in the sand trap, “someone” accidentally kicked my ball onto the green.

Theoretically, the sand wedge is designed to help golfers through that terrifying time when the beach awaits. In reality, the sand wedge is nothing but a makeshift ball retriever at water hazards for those who only wish their shot had landed in the sand trap.

Theoretically, I count every stroke, adhere to all of the rules and never, ever, take a gimme. In reality, does anyone know what 18 X 11 is?

Theoretically, for most golfers the sport is not that important in the grand scheme of things. In reality, yeah... right....

Theoretically, three-putting can be eliminated. In reality, yes, by four-putting.

Theoretically, beer and golf don’t mix. In reality, try whiskey then.

Theoretically, you’re not expected to replace your divots or fix your ball marks on the green. In reality, clumps of your hair pulled out forcibly by an irate grounds keeper will do just as nicely.

Theoretically, a grounds keeper mowing the fairways or greens is really just a target. In reality, do you really think it was the crow or eagle that made off with your ball from the middle of the fairway?

Theoretically, the hole-in-one is the ultimate in golf. In reality, just give me a birdie. A par? Bogey?

Theoretically, golf was invented in Scotland as a means to combine sport, camaraderie and genteelism. In reality, chasing those sheep in gumboots and kilt proved much too tiring.

 

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