Whether fishing on our own or alongside some of the most talented anglers in the Northeast, the staff at On The Water has racked up quite a few hours of fishing experience. Along the way, we’ve learned a thing or two so we started making a list of some tricks and tips that make fishing more productive and more fun. Here are ten of our favorites.
With indelible markers, you can add a number of realistic baitfish patterns to your soft-plastic baits. Get creative! Over time, the colors will “bleed” into the bait, giving them a unique fish-attracting appearance.
The most important links in your connection to a fish also happen to be the easiest to lose in your tackle bag. To better keep these tiny pieces of terminal tackle, slide them one at a time onto a large snap, then attach that snap to a lanyard worn around your neck. It keeps the snaps and swivels in easy reach when it’s time to re-tie in the middle of a hot bite.
Swap out the trebles for single hooks on most swimming plugs and you’ll change, or even ruin, the fish-catching action. To keep the plugs swimming right but gain the easy-unhooking benefits of single hooks, simply clip off the points on two of the tines, just behind the barb. Pliers will cut most freshwater hooks, and a bolt cutter can take care of sturdier saltwater hooks.
The dreaded wind knot can be prevented, or at least reduced, by manually flipping over the bail on your spinning reel after a cast. This keeps the line from twisting as it works its way from the bail to the line roller, which it does when the bail is snapped shut automatically by turning the reel handle.
Diamond jigs are a classic striped bass, bluefish and cod lure that can be dressed with a bare hook, a colored tube, or a feathered Siwash hook. The faster you can switch out these different dressed hooks to find the color and style that the fish are responding to, the faster you will be into fish. To do this, replace the split ring on the bottom of your diamond jig with a sturdy lure clip and swap out hook styles.
Short-biting fish like sunfish, perch and scup will use their small mouths to grab the dangling end of your bait and tear it from the hook. To stop them from stealing your bait, use an Aberdeen hook with a long shank and a small gap, and then thread the bait on the hook like a sock so that very little hangs off the end. This works with night crawlers in freshwater and sea worms and squid strips in saltwater.
Instead of a wet, sloppy rag or old slime-soaked tee-shirt that has to be thrown away after each outing, pick up a pack of plastic kitchen scrubbing pads. They are easy to store and great for gripping eels. Eel slime rinses right off, and they can even be tossed in the dishwasher between trips.
If you’re fishing a topwater lure and the stripers keep blowing up on the plug or tail-slapping it without hitting it, try stopping it cold and counting to five. A lure bobbing on the surface looks like a stunned baitfish – easy pickings – and will often draw a vicious strike.
When ice fishing with live shiners, a frisky bait can be tough for sluggish cold-water predators to chase down. Try slowing it down by clipping its tail fin with a pair of small scissors. This works in other situations too, like when fishing menhaden for stripers.
Create a deadly lure for shallow-water striped bass by using a file to shave down the plastic bill on a swimming plug. With a slow retrieve, the plug will stay on the surface making just a light wiggle and sending out a v-wake like a big silverside or other baitfish.