A Few FishingTips on Catch-and-Release

Catch-and-Release programs have been around for years.  The idea behind it is that we be mindful of the limits of our resources.  Keep the fish you can eat and return the rest to the wild.

Catch-&-Release requires some preparation. Here are some tips!


What Dry Hands You Have!

Think about the slimy feel of a fish, fresh from the water.  That membrane on the fish’s body protects his skin from infection and disease.

If you handle the fish with dry hands, you can send the fish into shock because of the reaction between the germs on your hands and the fish’s skin.

“When even a small portion of the slime coating is removed, the fish will bleed electrolytes from its body into the surrounding water.” *

Have You Fixed Your Hook?

As I mentioned in a previous article (How Sharp is Your Fishing Hook?), bend down the barb on your fish hooks.                        

Planning on catch-and-release? It is important to use pliers to mash down the barb. That part of the hook is what keeps your fish from sneaking away.

This process makes the hook kinder to the fish … and it is easier to unhook the fish and put it back in the water.

Another option is to use barbless hooks.  Check it out at your sporting goods store.

3 More Tips

  • Return the fish to water as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t toss the fish back.  The fish is already disoriented enough without the shock of hitting the water without warning.
  • Release the fish gently by hand.   Place the fish in the water facing upstream, holding it under water.  It will move out of your grasp as soon as he is able.

Catch-and-Release is becoming a more popular option all the time.  With a little advance planning, you can become a master at the technique!


* from “The Slime Coat is one of the Fish’s Main Defenses Against Infection and Disease,” on the website Fish Slime Coat


‘The Prize’ is used by permission of Restyler’s Choice Graphics


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Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on A Few FishingTips on Catch-and-Release  
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Things You Need to Know to Catch Fish!

Catching fish requires some knowledge — of fish and their habitat.  The more you know, the more fish you will haul home!

In no particular order, these are some of the facts great anglers say are important!


Getting a Lot of Fish Action Requires You to Know Some Fishing Basics!


The Senses of Fish

No doubt about it, fish can see, hear and smell.  If you can see the fish, they can see you!  This is no time to wear your hot pink polka dot shirt; mustard, blue and beige are better color choices.

Fish may not hear soft talking, but they do feel the vibrations of a boat motor.  Folks who insist on shouting to others — are alerting the fish, as well as their friends.

Fish are a lot like bloodhounds — they follow the scent of a favored food until they find it.  That is why tossing chum into the water is so effective; fish rush to the stinky fare.

Remember, odors carry better over water than on land!  Thus, smoking or handling kerosene, oil or gasoline is a dead give-away to fish.

Also, be careful with suntan lotion or insect repellent — remove the odors of these items from your hands before casting.

What Fish Like

Have you ever wondered why there are so many colors of plastic worms and lures?  Fish like colors and motion — however, they must seem natural.

On bright days, leave the chrome and nickel lures in your box.  You want to dazzle the fish; but fish are frightened when the light is too bright.

On bright days, it is better to stay with black, copper or brass colored lures.

Fishing in turbid (muddy) waters?  Yellow just might be the best color for the situation.

Fog lights are yellow because they are easier to see (than white) in murky, foggy or dark conditions.  This holds true for fish; they come toward lures they can see in darker waters.

An attractive, noticeable color is nice, but realistic action is what brings the fish in for a bite.

In fresh water, fish like slower moving lures; while saltwater lures need to move rapidly to catch a fish’s eye!

Come Back Tomorrow:  More Things You Need to Know to Catch Fish!


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How Sharp is Your Fishing Hook?


Fishing Hooks Get Dull Quickly -- from Scraping Against Rocks, Dragging Along the Bottom of the Waterway, Etc.

In a phrase:  Probably not sharp enough!

When You Open a New Box of Hooks

When I was a kid, a new box of hooks meant something:  every shiny hook was razor-sharp and ready to go!   I don’t find that necessarily true today.

I’ve even had a sales clerk tell me (with a straight face) that the new hook “is ready for you to apply the sharpness you want for your situation.”  (This is fancy double-talk for:  Here are the hooks, you make them usable.)

Whatever ….

Into catch-and-release? It is important to use pliers to mash down the barb. That part of the hook is what keeps your fish from sneaking away.

If your hook is dull, you are going to lose fish. Also, it’s easy to drag your hook over a rock and grind away the edge.

Look at this photo. Although it is hard to see, there is an area between the point and the barb that should be beveled. Also, the point AND barb should be sharp.

Fortunately there is a way to correct this problem. Most sporting goods stores sell a hook sharpener.

I found a site with instructions and photos. Go to http://fishing.about.com/od/basicfishinginstruction/ss/Sharpen_Hooks.htm for info on sharpening hooks.

It seems that any quality file will work — the author (above) even suggests taking an emery board fishing for emergency repairs.

Hook Tips

Expect to sharpen all hooks, even new ones.

Vary the coarseness of the grit for different hooks:

  •  coarse grit for large trebles,
  • medium grit for average-sized hooks and
  • small hooks need a finer grit.

Expect to change your hooks often.  With use, hooks get brittle and fail just when you need them to snag and keep the fish.


‘The Prize’ used by permission of Restyler’s Choice Graphics


Saturday:  Another Joke

Sunday:  Come See a Variety of Army Graphics!


Upcoming Attractions: When Humans Try to Domesticate the Javelina


Hunting Javelina and Wild Hogs

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Getting Your Share of Smallmouth Bass Action!

Disclaimer: There are many ways to fish successfully.  This is one of them.  There are other ways … but this one works for me.  I expect newbie anglers will be my audience.

Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass have enough differences that we treat them separately.  Today– Smallmouth Bass.


Small Mouth Bass are Feisty Fighters and Fun to Catch!

Smallmouth Facts

A member of the sunfish family, smallmouths are rather picky about the waters they honor with their presence.  The temperature in streams, rivers, lakes, etc., must be rather cool.

In the spring, the females move to spawning flats * when the water temperature heats up between 48 to 55.   When the water temperature reaches 60 to 65, smallmouths get frisky and start the spawning process.

Smallmouths are also picky about pollution.  They will not live in polluted waters.  Even better, they prefer oxygenated waters.

Using This Info to Catch More Bass

Understanding the paragraphs above will help you catch more bass.  First, let’s talk about oxygenated water.

As water splashes against rocks and other barriers, the water mixes with the air.  This makes the water more oxygenated.

Thus, you will want to fish for smallmouths wherever water can be re-oxygenated – around boulders, in riffles and under/in underwater structures (weed beds, rock formations, log jams, etc.).

Spring Fishing

Try smaller lures and hooks in the springtime.  Look for water with a gravelly bottom.

When you are thinking about live bait, consider the crayfish.  We carefully polled as many smallmouths as we could find and they assured us that they prefer crayfish.

Summer Fishing

Smallmouths are not interested in the heat of summer.  As the water heats up, they move to deep pools (during the day).  They only emerge from sundown till sunrise.  This is the best time to fish.

They will move into shallow areas, rock piles and in reefs.

Fall Fishing

Now the water is cooling down and the smallmouth bass prefer the deep pools because the temperature is steady. Again, these bass will come out of the pools to eat at night.

Winter Fishing

Smallmouths stay in deep pools – where the temperature is constant.  They are not very active.  Mostly, they chase small bait fish (that are also in these deeper pools) during the cold months.

Favored Lures & Bait

Crayfish, Mepps spinners, Rebel, jig and pig, Rapalas & spinner baits.


* Spawning flats have a gravel floor in 8 to 10 feet of water.


** Smallmouth Bass Tailwalking Profile is used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics

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Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 1:11 am  Comments Off on Getting Your Share of Smallmouth Bass Action!  
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A Few Freshwater Fishing Tips

Fishing in Small Streams

Newbie anglers are often surprised when I recommend  keeping a low profile when fishing in these waters.  The axiom is:  ‘If you can see the fish, the fish can see you!’

Dress for the occasion in mustard, beige or yellow clothing.  It is harder for the fish to notice these colors.

Although fish do not have ears (as we know them), they can tell humans are near by the stomping of anglers, shouting, loud talking, revving up boat motors, etc.

Since there are fewer fish in small streams, you don’t want to spook the ones available!  It may take hours before they return to your site.

Is This Your First Time Fishing in a Large Stream? Some Hints.

Fishing in a Large Stream

Fishing in a new area?  One of the best ways to scout a new large stream is to move around and try to find the deep holes.

Have a GPS device?  It’s the ‘new fangled way’ to mark holes and/or great fishing spots for future use.

Fish like to use features of the body of water to their advantage.  For example:  Predator fish like to hover in piles of debris (collected logs, rotting trees & branches that may have piled up in the water.

Predators like to hide in weeds, holes and behind submerged boulders — waiting for their next meal to stroll by!

Look around for structures where fish may hide.  One of my favorite fishing locations is to drop my line near an exposed boulder.

If I can get my line in the right place without snagging it on submerged logs or rocks, I have a very good chance to catch a bigger fish (that is preying on smaller fishes).

What amazes me is that I can continue to harvest fish from those rocks for some time.  When I catch one predator, another takes its place.

Fish are nervous creatures.  Instead of moving around in the open areas of the water, they prefer to use the underground structures.

I guess it is because no matter how big a fish you are, there’s a larger one looking to invite you to be their supper!


Just received some new “amazing photos.” Will post them soon.


Come back Sunday: I’ll show off some new items  — Native American Graphics!


Don’t Forget: My NRA Rear Window Graphics are on Sale during the month of February!


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We now have 900 + Graphics in 26 Categories!

Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm  Comments Off on A Few Freshwater Fishing Tips  
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When Lightning Strikes a Person!

You know to abandon a fishing trip when lightning starts flashing.  However, how do you prepare for lightning when there is only light rain?

In a word:  You don’t!

When Lightning Strikes

Thunderstorms Can Gather Quickly on Water!

Sometimes, there is no warning … no way to prepare … but a bolt from nowhere can take your life!

Scientists say that a single lightning bolt is between 100,000 and 1 billion volts of electricity!  Obviously, this can kill a man.

A Cautionary Tale

The following is an interesting story about a guy who did all the right things and still suffered a freak accident.

Dale Nash of Many, Louisiana, was competing in the McDonald’s Big Bass Splash at Sam Rayburn Reservoir with friends about 18 months ago.

Since rain and thunderstorms were forecast, he was ready to either don his rain suit or abandon fishing, depending on the weather.

About 11:30 am, a light rain started.   The anglers heard thunder rumbling miles away.   After checking the conditions, Mr. Nash put on his 100 mile/hour rated rain suit — and continued to fish in one of the 3 boats.

The last thing he remembers is casting his line.  When he awoke, he was lying in a different boat — almost nude — and aching all over!

What Happened

There was a deafening clap of thunder and the friends watched Nash fly out of his boat.  His clothing was flying like confetti.

By the time the closest angler got to him, Nash was lying in the water, about 10 feet from his boat.

Doctors state that Nash’s heart had probably stopped before he hit the water.  However, hitting the cool water shocked his heart into beating again!

While the friends were struggling to get Nash into a boat and race him to a hospital, other anglers called 911 to alert authorities.

The Damage

Dale Nash spent 4 and 1/2 days in a Burn Center with 1st and 2nd degree burns — to his arms, legs and back.

The impact of the bolt of lightning also knocked the fishing rod from another friend’s hands (in a nearby boat).

However, Nash’s boat and fishing equipment took a direct hit.  Lightning melted both of Nash’s fish-finders, fried the entire wiring system in the 1 year-old boat and seared holes through the fiberglass.

The lightning strike caused the trolling motor’s control unit to explode, ruined the 300 horsepower outboard motor, popped the glass facings off some of the gauges — and more.


Dale Nash counts himself one lucky man; he survived!


‘Lightning’ used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics.


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Why I Like Night Fishing!

In this very hectic season, I like nothing better than an evening of fishing.  However, I might be in the minority;  night fishing isn’t for everyone.

Peace and Quiet

When the sun sinks below the horizon, there’s something wonderful about the

Fishing in the Evening is a Great Way to Wind-Down from the Busy-ness of the Daytime Hours!

quiet that takes hold. I find night fishing more restful and serene than fishing during daylight hours.

Although there can be more dangers with reduced light, there seem to be many pluses — it’s a chance to tune into the night noises — frogs and crickets singing and the stars winking down from the night sky.

Fish Aren’t So Picky

Without elbow-to-elbow fishing that often occurs during the daylight hours,  fish don’t have so many choices for a meal. Biologists say that fish seem to increase their feeding behaviors  just after the sun goes down and around dawn.

Whether out on a boat or on shore, I like to go out when the moon is full.  The water might be as slick as glass after sundown, and the moonlight is enough light to keep an eye on any rippling in the water.

Dining on Bugs and Lures

By using top water lures, I’m able to throw my line out where the top feeding fish are dining on the mosquitoes and bugs that are skimming along the water.

The Down-Side of Night Fishing in Texas

In the southern parts of Texas, we seem to have 10 months of summer, 20 to 30 days of fall, a couple of days of spring and whatever is left over we call “winter.”

At present, it is still fall; our winter is in January.  All those mosquitoes that have left colder climes are chewing on us — still.   I’m convinced we buy and use more bug spray than any other state in the nation.

Next time you grumble that ‘some folks’ can still fish at night in short sleeves, remember that mosquitoes usually come along for the ride!


‘Sunset Dream’ Rear Window Graphic is used by Permission of ClearVue Graphics!

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Published in: on November 29, 2010 at 2:04 am  Comments Off on Why I Like Night Fishing!  
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How Weather Fronts Affect Bass Fishing


Weather Changes Affect Fishing!


Weather has a profound effect on fishing.  Today, I want to talk about one aspect of weather:  fronts.  Naturally, there is a yin and yang:  a cold front and a warm front.

I know you don’t want a weather lesson.  However, to be able to use the information, you need to understand a bit of weather.

A Warm Front

From Wikipedia:  “A warm front is … the leading edge of an advancing mass of warm air; it separates warm air from the colder air ahead.”

A warm front can occur in any season.  These 2 factors determine if this front will help you in fishing for bass.  If a warm front blows through your fishing area in the winter or early spring, fish will get frisky and eat more.

However, if a warm front comes in during the long summer, fish will move to deeper water and eat less.

A Cold Front


Understanding how Weather Affects Bass - and Other Fish - Will Help You Become a More Successful Angler! *


Since bass and other fish like warm conditions, a cold front usually means that the fishing will slow down.  However, there are a few exceptions.


After the long, hot summer, the first cold front send fish into a feeding frenzy.  Once the live bait starts moving, bass and the other fish follow. 

As the water starts to cool, fish instinctively know they must “fatten up” for what might be a very cold winter.  Your choice of bait at this time is less important that the fact that you have your hook in the water!

Bass notice shiny things that move rapidly.

During the winter months, it is important to fish before the front strikes the area.  Fish increase their eating before the front — and get quiet for a few days after the front blows through the area.

Remember, bass — and other fish — move to deep pools during the winter months.  However, you can try an alternative idea:  The bass that don’t move to those deep pools bunch together in reedy, grassy areas.

Since the water is cold, fish don’t move very quickly.  Make sure you slow down the movement of your bait!

It is going to take a bit of bait “charm” to get bass to move out of their safe spot.  The fish won’t bother to move if the bait moves too fast.


This Bass Rear Window Graphic is Used by Permission of ClearVue Graphics.


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Fresh Water Fishing vs. Salt-Water Fishing

We live near the Gulf of Mexico and our family has done more salt-water fishing than fishing in fresh water.

From a Kid’s Point of View

Of Course, These Aren't Dogfish!

As a child, I always thought dropping my hook in a lake was rather tame compared to going salt-water fishing.  The tackle was larger (for salt-water fishing) and the game fish seemed to have a lot more fight in them.

There was nothing more exciting than fighting a dogfish puffer (I’ve never seen any dog that was as ugly as this fish)!  It was an absolutely useless fish for eating, but it was a great adversary.

(I’ve been all over the net looking for a photo of this awful looking little runt, to no avail.  I don’t think they were members of the shark family.

They were rather fat, short, with pock-marked faces — just generally ugly.  Does anyone know to what I’m referring?  This must have been a local name for this fish — I can’t find a photo online.)

Charter Trips

The great thing about going on a ship fishing, was the size of the fish available 16 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.  However,  the long rides were a drag.

My father worked for printing firms that often offered fishing trips to their employees (this was in the dark ages, just after the dinosaurs stopped roaming the earth).

After a couple of trips, during which I up-chucked my hastily eaten breakfast, I learned to eat very little, until I got used to the rolling and pitching of the boat on the water.

It took a long time to learn to enjoy the trip out to the oil derricks where we fished.  As the eldest of the 4 kids, I understood that the long rides were necessary —  to get to the redfish and snapper we were hoping to catch.

After a couple of trips, my brothers decided to bypass these “adventures” for a few more hours in bed.

Forget ‘Quality’ with Kids …’Quantity’ is King!

These fishing trips, although worth a great deal of money, were never as much fun as just driving down the Gulf Freeway to Galveston and dropping our lines off a pier.  Why?

Getting in the car to drive to the ship, to ride some more, seemed to take too long.   Kids want ACTION!

As kids, we didn’t appreciate the value of those “expensive fishing trips” because it took too long before we could do battle with fish — and (usually) lose!


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Published in: on July 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm  Comments Off on Fresh Water Fishing vs. Salt-Water Fishing  
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Critical Fishing Tools: Besides a Rod, Reel & Tackle

Going fishing is a chancy thing, right?  You may or may not connect with fish.  Is there anything that will increase your chances of finding fish — besides a GPS (Ground Positioning System)?

Amazing Tools

Finding fish can be a lot like ‘Russian Roulette’ – everything depending on chance.  However, once I learned about the lake maps where I fished, things changed.

There are a variety of maps available, depending on the popularity of the body of water where you want to fish.

The most common ones are available from the local bait or tackle shop.  They are also available online (Google: list the name of the body of water + map) from map companies and (often) your state fishing department.

In some areas, you can get them from the local fisheries.   I’ve even seen them offered by County Extension Agencies.

What Kind of Maps?

Maps offer differing information.  A contour map shows the contours of the water where you want to fish.  Here’s a simple contour map of Balsam Lake in New York).

This map indicates the shallow edges of the lake, where the water drops to 5 feet and where the deep hole is at 10 feet.

Most bodies of water have a number of deep holes and sand bars and the contour map will indicate them.

The Latest Lake Survey Map

This useful map has a wealth of info:  game fish available, aquatic vegetation types (their locations and which fish call them home), water quality, and much more.

One of the most useful features might just be the information on the forage fish populations.  If the game fish are bass, then knowing which fish they use for food will help you select likely baits and a successful strategy for fishing.

Keeping a Log

Second to the maps in value, to my mind, is keeping a log of fishing experiences.  Things I include in my log:

  • Type of water,
  • Season,
  • Water temperature
  • Cover type (sandy bottom, sparse vegetation, are examples)
  • Structural patterns (if any)
  • Water level,*
  • Water depth,
  • Water clarity,
  • Time of day

I’m amazed how quickly I forget important facts.  Without my log, I wouldn’t be able to learn nearly as much from my past experiences.


* If you find that the water level has dropped, most likely the fish have moved to deeper water.  If the water level has risen, the fish are likely to have moved to shallow areas.


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Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm  Comments Off on Critical Fishing Tools: Besides a Rod, Reel & Tackle  
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