Or Why I Can’t Be in the Fishing Hall of Fame
By Jack Sparacino
Lots of fishing reports focus on how well the people did and their excellent techniques. I’ve done well over the years and had a ball but also made my share of pretty dumb mistakes which I take full credit for. Here are my top 10, plus two more as a bonus. Maybe some of you can benefit from them.
1. Always check for sharp hooks and properly tied knots BEFORE casting, not after. (It’s a cart and horse type of thing.) This is easy to overlook when in a hurry, but it’s frustrating to lose a nice fish because of these oversights. Really really.
2. “Fish 360 degrees,” as Captain Judy in Savannah says. When casting, try all around you until fish are found. If they aren’t there, move and try again. Don’t stay put even if the fish WERE there the last time. (As my friend Captain Joe in Rhode Island liked to remind me, “yesterday was yesterday!”)
3. Be especially careful handling fish with nasty teeth or spines such as toadfish, a.k.a. oystercrackers, or stingrays. I tried picking one toadfish up from my crab trap to move it into the bait holder about four years ago and nearly lost a finger. Still have a scar.
4. Small bottom fish are often fun and great to eat; it’s best not to snub them as they may save the day (especially black sea bass).
5. Do have a net handy though it sometimes seems like carrying an umbrella and then it never rains. When you need it, you need it. Get a good one and a gaff, they will last practically forever.
6. Think about a practical means of keeping live bait fresh (flow-through pails are fine and cheap). Try to remember where you put such things.
7. Aim the rod at the fish when bringing it in, hold the rod up and don’t forget to pump it if it’s big (lift up rod, then reel as you lower rod, repeat). Focus mostly on the fish, not TOO much on the guy (gal) behind you with the camera or the other guy (gal) with all the advice.
8. Plan on losing bottom rigs, as in bring along plenty of them. They will get cut off from time to time, especially if the fish are heading into rocks and other structure, which is where you want to be fishing anyway.
9. Hose off rods and reels with fresh water after fishing in salt. Sooner than later, as they say. Reels especially do not like salt water baths very much.
10. Don’t leave rods unattended and unsecured when you have bait out. We’ve nearly lost several rods that were jerked into the water when fish hit while we were talking and not paying attention.
11. They call it basic gear for a reason. Keep several pairs of gloves on board to avoid line cuts and otherwise protect your hands. Also keep a tape measure and two or three VERY sharp fillet knives, plastic bags and lots of ice.
12. JACK! Where’s the CAMERA? How many times did we forget to bring one along. Trying to draw pictures afterward doesn’t really cut it.
So forget the hall of fame for me. Bring on the hall of trial and error.