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Brad Laabs: Tips and tricks passed down from angler to angler

Now that our open water fishing season is in full swing, I am reminded of a few little tricks and tips that can help out your fishing outings. I can’t lay any claim to any of them. These have all been passed to me from others and most likely passed to them from others. As anglers, we improve our experiences by learning from each other.

If you use monofilament line, you will at some point contend with line twist. This is an annoying and frustrating problem that leads to line getting wrapped around rod tips, loops of line on the reels, impaired casting, and if left un-dressed, can lead to an unintentional macramé project in the boat.

Of course, peeling the line off the reel and re-spooling with new line is the sure fire fix for line twist, but you can try something else first. Cut the jig/rig/lure off your line and let the line run out behind the boat while idling at slow speed. Let about half the spool out and keep the rod tip inches from the water. Drag the line for about one minute and reel the line back in and onto your reel. Cut about three feet of line off as this will still hold some twist and will visually show line memory. This little trick will solve most line twist problems.

If the line continues to be trouble free for only short periods of time, it is time to re-spool with fresh line. To prevent line twist from occurring in the first place, make sure you don’t keep reeling when you hear your drag squealing. Learn how to keep pressure on the fish and use the flex of the rod to help you fight the fish.

Many times, reeling against the drag occurs when someone gets excited and is in a hurry to get the fish to the boat. Many experienced anglers learned how to “back reel” and let line out under control when a fish “runs” to minimize the amount of times the drag will be pulled out. This is a little bit of a lost art, as all the new line of reels have high quality and very functional drag systems.

Handling fish will get to be hard on your hands. If you end up with gill plate cuts, teeth scrapes, or other abuses to your hands from fishing, use a hand sanitizer to clean out cuts and prevent infection. Cuts will heal faster when free of bacteria.

Several products are out there that can help provide relief and protection from the cuts. One is a product called “new skin” and I am sure there are other similar products available. It covers and coats better than a Band-Aid and has an antiseptic in it to help prevent infection. Surgical superglue can also be used. Good hand lotions can help with the dry cracking that also occur to those that put a lot of time in the boat.

A great trick before cleaning your catch is to cut the throat of the fish and bleed it out in the livewell before heading back to the dock and draining your livewell. Bleeding out the fish makes for a much less messy project when cleaning, and no blood in the fillets that can be challenging to rinse out. Simply slip your fillet knife into one gill and cut the “crop” of skin on the neck between the two gills.

The use of a glove can help prevent your hands from getting beat up handling lively fish. If you aren’t planning on eating your fish in the next couple of days, vacuum pack your fish or freeze them in water in a freezer back to keep them fresh for your fish fry.

For the live bait “riggers” out there, keeping your bail open and your finger on the line will allow you to feed line immediately to the fish when you detect a bite. It is difficult to be fast enough to open the bail to let out line. With rigging, it is sometimes difficult to tell a bite from a weed grab or the sinker getting hung up on the bottom. Sometimes what you thought was a weed was a bite, sometimes what you thought was a bite will be a weed or bottom.

Time on the water and practice will help, but sometimes even experienced live bait riggers aren’t sure, so when in doubt, let it out. Time on the water is the best teacher so I hope you all get to make time soon.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)