Monthly Archives: April 2012

Catching a Fishing Rod

I can’t take full credit for this one, but this is a great thing to keep in the back of your head in case you ever watch your favorite rod sinking to the bottom of the lake. All you need to retrieve it is one of the metal style stringers, a couple ounces of weight and a flipping stick. I went to Wal-Mart and bought one of the metal stringer because I could not find one at any of the local tackle stores.

The first thing you need to do is cut off any excess chain on the stringer, so you are left with just the section of chain with the clips on it. Then, tie a swivel onto the line of your flipping stick (braid is my favorite for this). Open the swivel and clip on both the stringer and your weights. I used trolling sinkers because I just happen to have some in my striper fishing gear. I wanted a sinker that would not get too hung up on the bottom, and the trolling sinkers seemed like they would be perfect.  I also like to clip the weights to the front of the stringer, so I know the entire thing will be dragging along the bottom.  If you put your weights on the back, there is a chance that part of the rig will be pulled up off the bottom as you move it.

Run to the way point you marked as the rod was sinking and, if you have them, drop a marker. Back off the marker and start casting. Once the stringer hits the bottom, just slowly pull it like a Carolina Rig.

If you feel weight, keep constant pressure on it and slowly reel.  It could be a stick, but it could also be your gear.  Don’t jerk or stop reeling.  The constant pressure *should* keep everything tight and hooked up.

The last two rods that have gone overboard, I have been able to drag them up a few days later with this technique. Aside from some oxidation (I guess that’s what it is) on the thread wraps, they have been in great shape. This rod spent over a week in Lake Allatoona on the bottom in 30 feet of water. I’m still amazed I was able to catch it, and it only took 4 casts.

Drop Shot 101

If I could only use one technique to catch fish consistently, it would have to be the drop shot.  Thanks to the urging of some close friends, I finally picked up the drop shot about 5 years ago, and since then, my fish-less days have become much fewer and much farther between.  Some people will claim the drop shot only catches small fish, but I have a photo album full of big fish, especially big spotted bass, that have all fallen victim to the drop shot.

The great thing about the drop shot is that you can custom tailor it to almost any fishing situation.  It is so versatile that you  can fish it with 6lb fluorocarbon and a #4 hook or 80lb braid and a 5/0 straight shank flipping hook.  While I could probably fill a book with the things I have learned about the drop shot, that is not the point of this post.  This post is geared to the fisherman who has never picked up, or just picked up the drop shot.  The number 1 key to learning to fish this, and any technique, is confidence.  Hopefully this article will give you just enough that you can stick it out a few days and see just how great a technique the drop shot can be.

The body of water you are fishing will really dictate the direction you go as far as your line, hook and weight sizes.  I normally fish deep, clear lakes with spotted bass making up the majority of the bass population.  These lakes are highly pressured, and finesse is usually the name of the game.  However, if you are fishing a shallow lake with heavy cover, the concepts will be the same, just not the line/hook size.

The first thing you need to do is tie on your hook.  This is very simple.  If you can tie a Palomar knot, you can rig a drop shot.  Tie your hook on with the Palomar knot, but leave a long tag end (approx. 12 inches).  Once you have your hook tied on, take the hook and hold it between two fingers.  Hold it so that the hook point is up, and then run your tag end of line back through the eye of the hook.  Let go of the hook, and finish pulling the tag end through the hook eye.  Once the tag end is fully through the eye of the hook, grab your line above the hook in one hand, and below the hook in the other.  Pull it tight, and your hook should be situated so that the point is facing up.  This is very important to ensure you are hooking up with the fish that bite.  After that, all you need to do is clip your weight on the tag end and hook your bait on the hook.

Now, there are two basic ways to rig your bait, and it will usually depend on if you are fishing around a lot of cover or not.  The first is with the hook point exposed (nose hooking/wacky hooking) and the second is with the hook point buried inside your worm (Texas/Texposed style).  Generally I will rig my worms with the hook point exposed.  The area I usually fish has very little for the hook point to get hung on.  However, when I fish in heavier cover, I will go to a re-barb hook or even a heavy duty flipping hook to help keep from getting hung up.

Once you have everything all rigged up, the next step is to decide if you are going to fish vertically or cast your rig.  Vertical fishing will rely on your sonar reading skills, and your ability to get over fish, drop your bait down and tempt the fish to eat.  This can be extremely productive when the fish are schooling on your local body of water.  Lakes with a lot of vertical timber (such as Lake Lanier in Georgia) or brush piles, a vertical approach can be deadly.  If you have a lot of brush piles on your local lake, I would suggest rigging up a drop shot and sitting over those piles for a few moments and make a few drops straight into the pile and give it a few shakes.  You may be surprised what you pull out!

If the fish aren’t schooling, and you don’t have a list of brush piles to fish, don’t fret!  Most of the fish I have caught on the drop shot have been from actually casting it.  On my local lake, we have a lot of bluff walls, and I will fish down those with the drop shot, and many times be very successful.  Just with any technique, you will need to fish where the fish are, but the drop shot will give you a unique presentation over the typical Texas rig, jig and shakey head.  Simply cast your drop shot out over any are you feel may hold fish.  Let it sink to the bottom and then reel up a majority of the slack, but not all!  You will want a little bit of a bow in your line, and then start shaking.  You will want to make the bow in the line become tight but try not to actually move your bait any closer to you.  Of course the bait will work its way to you, but you will want to move it as slowly as possible, while still shaking it as much as possible.  It seems like some days you cannot shake the bait fast enough, while others they barely want the bait moving.  Just experiment until you start catching fish.

The final key to the drop shot is the hook set.  Depending on the style of hook you are using, your hook set will vary.  If you are using the Texas/Texsposed style rig, set the hook like you would with any other worm!  However, if you are using a nose hook the last thing you want to do is jerk to set the hook.  Simply lift on your rod to slowly apply pressure and reel like a mad man.  This will tighten the line up on the fish and the little bit of pressure will be plenty to drive the smaller hooks home.

Hopefully this little post will be helpful to some of the new drop shotters out there.  If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Finally, never let anyone tell you big fish won’t eat a drop shot.  This is a 5+lb spot that I caught on 6lb line, a #2 hook and a tiny fluke.  And this isn’t the only one, I have caught quite a few quality bass on the drop shot over the years!

 

 

Gel Coat Wet Sanding

When a boat oxidizes, it can look terrible.  But, with a little elbow grease and a long weekend, you can have it shining like brand new.  For some reason, the idea of sanding your boats finish does not sit well with a lot of boat owners.  However, if you go slow, and pay attention to what you are doing, there is little chance of doing major damage to your finish.  After all, if the finish were in good shape, you wouldn’t be thinking of wet sanding in the first place.

To get started, you need to pick up a few things, the most important of which is a high speed buffer.  I got mine at Harbor Freight for cheap, and it has worked out well.  If you watch their sale papers, you can pick one up for under $40 and many times they will have a 20% off coupon as well.  To go with that, you will need a couple of 3M pads.  One for compounding and one for polishing.  And finally, you will need a quality compound and polish.  A lot of people really like the 3M Perfect It and Final Glaze.  I was not able to find it, so I talked with a local fiberglass shop and actually purchased some from them (can’t remember off the top of my head what it was though).  After you polish up your new finish, and slap a quality marine was on it, it is also recommended to use a good polymer sealer.  Pro-Tec is generally the most widely used in this category.

Harbor Freight Buffer

 3M Compounding Pad

 3M Polishing Pad

During the whole compounding process, I didn’t take many pictures because I was so excited about getting the shine back on my boat.  Since the oxidation was not terrible, I started with 1000 grit sand paper (make sure it is designed to be used for wet sanding).  In a five gallon bucket, I put about 3 gallons of water, a few drops of dish washing soap, and my sand paper.  I also kept the hose handy.  As you are sanding, be sure to periodically dip the sand paper in the bucket to clean off any buildup and also have your hose slowly applying water to the area you are working on.  This will help you monitor the area, and once the water run off becomes clear, that is when you know you have removed the oxidation.

Since I was unsure of myself when I first started, I picked a small area on the boat and just worked on it.  After I felt like I had removed a majority of the oxidation with the 1000 grit paper, I stepped up to 1500 grit and started sanding again.  The idea with the 1500 grit is to smooth over the sanded area.  The same with stepping up to 2000 grit.  One thing to be very careful of is while you are sanding, keep feeling the area you are working on.  If you start to feel metal flake, you have sanded too far.  If you finish is oxidized all the way to the metal flake, you have a case that is too serious for wet sanding.

After you have completed the sanding, give the boat a good wash.  It will be covered in a milky white and need to be cleaned before you can begin to compound the finish.   The boat should look dull, but will be shining soon.

A word of advice before you start compounding, be sure to cover up your trim and carpet.  If you are not careful, when you hit the liquid compound with the buffer, it just may sling excess compound ALL OVER and can be a real pain to clean.  That is experience talking.

When you move on to the mechanical buffer, take it slow to start with.  You will want to keep the buffer moving and not let it stay in one place, as it just may burn through the clear coat.  After you have finished compounding, give the boat another good cleaning, and allow it to dry.  Once it is dry, switch to your polishing pad and polish, and repeat.

Once you finish with the polish, the boat should be really starting to shine.  Once you put a few good coats of wax on it, the results should impress you.

A few mistakes that I made when initially wet sanding my boat:

  • I rushed – I didn’t cover the carpet or trim on the boat.  I was so excited about compounding and polishing that I got the compound and polish all over everything.  Then, I didn’t clean it right away, so it dried.  I think it took almost a year for me to get it all cleaned up.  You can see the white specs/spray in the picture below.
  • Didn’t sand out all the oxidation – I was a little leery of the sanding initially.  Now that I am a few years out, I notice a few areas where, when the boat isn’t waxed, you can still see the oxidation.  After talking with others, I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t sand enough.
  • Buffer speed control – I thought faster was better when it came to the buffer, and there is one place I put a little bit of a swirl in the gel, and another where I went pretty much all the way through the gel and you can barely feel the flake.  They are very minor, and if you aren’t looking for the spots, you won’t see them.

Now, if you have any questions, I would HIGHLY suggest making your way to Bass Boat Central.  Some of those guys are pro’s when it comes to boat resotration, and know the in’s and out’s like the back of their hands.  In fact, here is the thread that inspired me to take on this project.

 

Siesta Key Surf Fishing

Living in North Georgia means that as I was growing up, most vacations would be spent along the Florida coast.  Every trip I would spend hours just thinking about sitting on the sand and *maybe* catching a fish or two during the entire trip.  If there was a pier near by, I knew that would be a sure thing because honestly, who can’t put a piece of squid on a small hook and drop it straight down.  My whole life, catching fish in the surf has intrigued me.  I think a lot of this has to do with trying it for so long, and never catching a single thing.  In fact, I remember being pretty young, walking down the Panama City beach one evening and there were two guys surf fishing.  All of a sudden one of them jumps up and starts reeling like mad. He ended up dragging a small catfish up on the bank, and I was amazed.  These guys were using the typical, 12 ft+ rods, giant spinning reels and very large lead weights.  When I saw this, a light went off in my head, and I thought I finally figured out surf fishing.

Well, fast forward almost 10 years.  I have acquired a few of these long rods and heavy weights.  My surf fishing success has increased a great deal, but the problem was there didn’t seem like much sport in it.  I would have to stare at the rods just to make sure I noticed a bite, and then when I did, reeling the fish in was little more than dragging in 5oz of lead that occasionally tugged back.  I was using a one size fits all approach to surf fishing and didn’t realize it.

That was, until I got to Siesta Key last year.  I decided to throw some of my bass fishing gear as well as a some of my freshwater trolling gear in with my few surf rods.  As it turns out, this was a fantastic idea.  The surf in Siesta Key was very minimal, and I was on a mission to downsize my gear to fit the conditions.  Not only did we catch a TON of fish (still mostly small sharks and catfish), but they were a ball to reel in.  I still had the old surf rods out, but this time I had much lighter line and much smaller weights on them.  Plus, I up-sized the bait some, and tried to target some bigger fish that would put an actual bend in the rod.  All in all, it was a great fishing trip, and a real eye opener!

Snook

The first snook I ever caught came from the surf on our last night!