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Monday, August 8, 2011

Tips for hooking fish (and not hooking you)

Last weekend when the Hutchinson family was visiting and we were trying to keep track of 9 kids who were tubing, knee-boarding, fishing, swimming or careening off the end of the dock, our 2 littlest (Wesley and Ella) came to us with fishing poles in hand.  Wesley is an accomplished 5 year-old "fisher-boy" but Ella (who is only 3 1/2) was still trying to figure out how to not tangle the line or get a hook in her finger.  So I mentioned to Kate a few of  the tricks we have learned along the way, especially since Wesley wants to fish A.L.L  T.H.E  T.I.M.E. 

We are far from professionals (ha!) but I know a few good fishermen who have made some great suggestions that we have put into practice with our kids.  These tips are meant for your own peace of mind (safety) - and so your little kids can fish without the frustration of tangled lines, stolen bait, and hooked fingers.

#1.  Of course there are the obvious fundamentals about casting.  Little kids cannot control where that hook is going and so we start the kids out with the child fishing poles where you push the button on the reel and the hook drops.  Drop it and reel it - until they are old enough to cast without hooking you or their nearest sibling.

We catch lots of blue gills (Wesley calls them "bluegers") and bass in our lake - right off the end of our dock.  Oftentimes the kids can see the fish hiding in the shadows under the dock, under the hoist, or even under the paddleboat when it is tied to the dock.  So there really is no need for them to cast a great distance - they have the best luck dropping a line close to the dock.

#2.  We used to buy worms or the little, fat, white meal worms - but I personally did not enjoy the "juice" that came out when you put them on the hook so I was eager for the kids to learn how to do that on their own.  The other problem with the meal worms is that the fish "slurp" them off the hook and you have to keep baiting your hook without catching a fish.

A friend suggested we try "Gulp" which is available everywhere including Walmart. They look like a meal worm and they come in a jar with a smelly/stinky oil that helps to attract fish (it rinses right off your fingers) - but the best part is they stay on the hook longer because the fish can't easily slurp them off.

If you pinch down the barb and slightly blunt the tip of the hook,
your little kids can bait a hook easily without pricking or puncturing their fingers.

#3.)  I pinch down the barb on the hook with a little pliers for two reasons.  First - IF you or your child ends up with a hook in the finger, when the barb is pinched nearly flat the hook comes out much easier.  If the barb is left in place, and a hook goes through the skin, you won't be able to pull the hook out the way it went in, you'll have to snip the end so you can push it all the way through.  From what I have been told in graphic detail, you don't want to do this, so pinch down the barb! 

Pinch down the barb (blue arrow on right) and
blunt the tip so it is not so sharp (blue arrow on left).

The second reason I do this is because the fish come off the hook much easier without the barb.  We're not trying to catch a trophy musky where the barb is critical so that the fish can't thrash itself off the hook.  We're just looking to catch the fish that practically put themselves on the hook - and there are plenty of those! 

When the barb is pinched flat, you can tip the hook upright (like a candy-cane) and most of the time the fish will fall right off the hook.  Easy!

#4.  On a brand new hook, after I pinch down the barb, I tap the tip of the hook a few times with the pliers just to blunt the tip a little bit.  New hooks are really sharp and they will puncture the skin easily.  If you have a little one who suddenly decides they want to try casting and they hit you or a sibling with a sharp hook, it will puncture the skin and they will go right on trying to cast without noticing they have hooked you!  A blunt tip will usually bounce off your skin harmlessly.  (I speak from experience.) :)

1 comment:

The Davidsons said...

Great advice Karen!! I'll be sure to have Dave check this out.

Robyn (scared of both hooks and worms)