There are certain to be a few failures, flops and fiascos you wish you could forget from the 2017 fishing season. Do you want to minimize the mistakes you make in 2018? No problem. We have you covered. Banish these 10 things from your fishing repertoire, and you’ll be a much better angler.
1. Reel Mistake
Stop spooling reels at home. Instead, find a tackle store that has a hydraulic line tensioner and have all your reels spooled up there. The machine will not only be able to fit more line on the reel but also pack it tight at the optimal pressure, which means you’ll be able to cast farther and stop worrying about line cutting into the spool. Yes, we know it costs a bit more — stop complaining.
2. Dire Pliers
You know that hunk of rust you call a pair of pliers? Chuck it in the garbage and get a new pliers set. The fish will thank you for not forcing them to eat corrosion every time you take a hook out.
This one’s a toughie, but train yourself to stop hooting and hollering when you miss a bite. Sound carries through water, and that includes the sound of a human’s voice. Every yell probably spooks half the fish within casting distance. Anyone who’s ever fished somewhere like a bonefish flat, where you can watch the scared fish swim off, knows this is a fact. Same goes for waters with less visibility or more depth, except you can’t see the result of your rowdiness.
4. Five Gallons of Foolish
Stop using the same five-gallon bucket to hold baits or baitfish and for the washdown at the end of the day. Haven’t you noticed that most boat soaps are perfumed? And if you can smell it, what makes you think the fish can’t? Yes, yes, we know you rinse the bucket out after each use, but stick your noggin in there and inhale, and you may well discover a bit of that scent gets left behind in the plastic. Get a second bucket, and never take the chance of making an olfactory offense again.
5. DENTAL DISASTER
Don’t bite through fishing line with your teeth — ever again. Keep doing so and sooner or later you’ll chip a tooth. Many old-timers get reminded of this mistake every time they look in the mirror.
6. HEAD GAMES
Don’t stand on the swim platform when the boat’s zipping along at 55 mph to relieve yourself. ’Nuff said.
7. Not So Pretty Pictures
Turn your fishfinder’s fish icons off and never let them tarnish the LCD screen again. Those icons are huge compared to the arches and dots the raw data provide, and they can actually obscure and/or merge some returns. Meanwhile, they provide no additional insight into what lies beneath the boat.
8. Clunk for a Skunk
Quit shifting the boat in and out of gear, unless it’s absolutely called for, to maneuver over a school of fish. That big “clunk” you hear when the driveshaft engages? The fish hear it too. This is easily proven; just creep your boat up to some visible nearby fish, shift into reverse and watch their reaction. Savvy anglers will plan ahead, so they can drift into position without shifting, or they use a trolling motor once they’re in the fishing zone.
9. Life’s a Drag
Quit setting your drags by hand. Don’t deny it — we know you’ve yanked on the line, called the tension “about right” and started casting. The thing is, when Bubba strikes you need to know that drag is set exactly where it should be, not about where it should be. This is especially important for anyone going after big fish with light gear, when an ounce of pressure can mean the difference between victory and misery. Use a scale to set the drags — one-third of the line’s breaking strength is usually considered best — and you might be surprised at just how different that drag feels. You might also be surprised at how much more frequently you manage to get Bubba up to the boat.
10. Buggy Behavior
We hate mosquitoes, and we know you do too, but get that bug repellent off the boat and never use it while fishing again. DEET, the active ingredient in most bug repellents, is also a scientifically proven fish repellent. If any gets on your hands and makes it from there onto a lure or bait, not only will the mosquitoes stay away, but so will the fish.
The moment you step aboard the boat, pull that cellphone out of its easily reachable pocket and banish it to a stowage compartment — preferably one that’s soundproof. How many times in 2017 did you miss a bite because you were chatting it up or scrolling down the screen? Yeah, we thought so.