Angler Education

Land that Lunker

Fishing season is here, or at least a lot closer, throughout the Midwest. Are you going to try to go fishing more often this year? If so, that increases your odds of catching a big fish, a true trophy. The more we go, the better the odds of catching one of those fish that memories are made of.

Now, when you get that big one to eat your bait, will you be ready? There are several things we can do to increase our chances of success once the big one bites.

Of course you need to get that big one to bite first. The number one rule of fishing is that you’ve got to put your bait in front of the fish. Keep this rule-of-thumb in mind. Early in the year, the fish will usually be close to shore. That’s where they spawn, and spawning season is early in the year. As the year progresses, the fish will follow their food. Could be deep, could be shallow, could be suspended. Find their food and you’ll find the fish.

You’ve done everything right and you’ve got a memory-maker on the end of your line. Are you using good, fresh line? If so, the odds for landing that fish just went up a lot. Too many fish every year are lost due to an angler using old line that has been weakened. Fishing line gets a lot of abuse. It is constantly rubbing against rocks, weeds, clams, maybe there’s a nick in one of the guides on your rod, these will all degrade your line. One little nick will cause your line to lose a lot of strength. Make sure your line is fresh.

You don’t need to change the entire spool of line. Simply pull off forty or fifty yards and tie new line to the line that is remaining on the spool. That works great for casting. If you’re trolling, you should pull more line off, as you usually troll with more line out than if you’re casting.

If you’ll be trolling, consider a superline like FireLine. The thin diameter of FireLine allows baits to dive deeper, and it’s really tough stuff. If you prefer monofilament, there are several selections from Trilene. XL is an extra limp line, XT is extra tough. The new Trilene Maxx is a combination of the two. Decide which qualities appeal to you the most and tie some on.

Alright, you got the fish to bite, your line was fresh so there were no problems there, now you have the fish at the surface right at the side of the boat. Is the bag on your net capable of lifting that trophy into the boat? Check it before you go fishing to make sure it’s in good shape. There have been more than a few really big fish go through rotten landing nets. The bags on Frabill nets are strong, they’re easy on the fish, and many are made so hooks don’t catch in them.

Now all you have to do is decide what you’re going to do with that lunker. Some folks are happy with a photo, others like to release the fish and have a replica made. If you keep the things we just talked about in mind, that’s a decision you’ll have to make this year.