November 20, 2022
I suspect if you are an angler you have to like to eat fish. Pan fried, off the grill, deep fried and breaded or blackened, it's all good.
But finishing it to perfection is not easy, sometimes. You want it soft, not mushy or undercooked; it should be firm, not over-cooked. There is a method which few people are familiar with – Sous Vide.
I won't get into the details of this cooking method here, but it allows you to fine tune your finishing texture and temperature to an accuracy of about 1/2°F. The result? A perfectly done fish. I have been experimenting with this process now for about a year on salmon – an extremely delicate fish to cook properly. After cooking it via sous vide, a very fast finish in a hot cast iron pan will give you that milliard crust we all enjoy.
Look up how to sous vide cook not only fish, but also steaks, pork and chicken. I guarantee you will rarely prepare fish any other way, again.
October 9, 2022
I purchased one of those common (but high quality) all-in-one needle nose pliers which includes the triangle to open split-rings. I gave them a fair shot and, again and again, tried to use them to open rings.
There is a small gap between the "tooth" on the top and end of the bottom of the nose. This gap allows the ring to not be held on the inside. The result: this style of pliers has no value for opening split rings.
After reviewing many other styles available, I obtained a set of the Halco pliers. The result: instance success and consistent performance. The split ring is held tightly and opened sufficiently to remove treble hooks and replace them with In-line, single barb-less hooks. Frustration is no longer; they work!
October 6, 2022
Needless to say, I was shocked to hear of the walleye tournament scandal. Cheating at fishing tournaments? Really? Damn, am I naive. Here is an excerpt from an Outdoor Life article that opened my eyes further:
By Joe Cermele | Published Oct 5, 2022 12:47 PM
Cheating in fishing tournaments, however, is rampant—something the non-fishing public doesn’t understand. Prior to the present scandal, you had big-bass guru Mike Long, who was exposed for cheating in 2019. In 2020, two bass anglers got nailed trying to weigh in fish caught days before a tournament on Lake Powell. This New York Times story from 2012 covers a similar occurrence in Texas that leads into a broader discussion of tournament fraud in several states. I could post links for days—and that’s a real downer.
It's a bummer; but human nature is what it is. I thought fishing was supposed to be fun and, I guess, for most of us it is just that – a great sport. Let's keep it that way. I'm also thinking that their sponsors and the industry should nail them, and all others, for fraud.
October 5, 2022
Yesterday was a beautiful day on The Chain. I spent the day before removing treble hooks from my Rapala Original floating balsa minnows F-3 and F-5, and replaced the F-3 #12 and F-5 #10 trebles with the #6 and #4 Vanfook single in-line, barbless hooks, respectively. With catch/release, I caught two small largemouth bass and two 12" stripers. One of each wriggled fiercely; I mean fiercely. I did not think fish of that size had that much power. The barbless hooks were not thrown from their mouths.
I have never had any luck safely removing barbed trebles. My fishing buddy removes 8 out of 10 for me. I was solo yesterday, and this time around, I simply grabbed the single hooks and removed them without any resistance. They slipped out as if lubricated with a high quality 10-W30 synthetic oil. I grinned from ear to ear, knowing there was minimal or no damage to the fish and my fingers. I can tell you this, all trebles and barbed hooks have seen the end of their lives on my lures.
September 28, 2022
Today I received my in-line, single barb-less hooks from Japan. I purchased 2 brands to compare the difference. They are the Vanfook and Cultiva series #4. The Vanfook are approximately 0.600" in length and the Cultiva are 0.718". The Vanfook have a wider gap – 0.365" vs. Cultiva 0.335" at the opening between shaft and point. The wires are also much thinner than domestic, at 0.028", with a hook strength suggested for fish up to approximately 4 lbs.
I'm going to mount the Vanfook on several Rapala minnows and the Cultiva on others, in order to try and ascertain hook-set/retention differences, if any. I'll keep you posted. This is exciting.
September 25, 2022
After a good fishing trip on The Chain, my partner was in the process of untangling a small crankbait with trebles from his rod tip. The nightmare happened! one of the treble hooks became embedded in his thumb. It was deep – well beyond the barb, making it impossible to draw out. I had to cut the hook. I talked to him later that evening. After a trip to the emergency room and surgery, all things turned out well. Pain drugs were ordered and a tetanus shot was administered. It was a bloody mess.
All the more reason to replace every treble hook from every crankbait I own. Also, the hooks which are arriving this coming Monday are barbless, ala Trout angler style. If losing a fish or two is in the offing, so let it be. Less harm to the fish and the angler. I'll keep you posted on hook retention differences. From what I have read so far, both from professional anglers and university studies, barbless hooks should yield a 98% success set/retention ratio vs. trebles.
Flying trebles behind me as I cast or coming at me as the fish lunges toward my face during retrieve, is no longer appealing.
September 19, 2022
A friend of mine and I went out at 7:00 AM, all geared up, and told ourselves it was going to be a productive day. And productive it was! It was coolish, the sun was shining and the cumulus clouds were stunning. We headed into Redhead Lake on The Chain.
As usual, we threw out a few frogs into the lily pads. And, as usual, nothing stirred – not a single strike. We have done this about 6 or 7 times now with the same results. Another angler came in behind us. I kept a close eye on him. He fished the pads for about 3 hours with no results. I'm selling my frogs. They are useless.
But, on the other side of the lake, we fished the docks and shoreline for 4 hours. Back and forth we went. The trolling motor was off most of the time. A slight current carried us, just at the right speed. We were getting strikes all morning. Each of us caught about 8 to 10 fish (we didn't count). I used my trusty Rapala 1-1/2" Original Silver Minnow. Bluegills, one after another; Crappie, Sunfish, Perch, a Bass easily over 14" and Striper were active. The action was exciting. I think chasing and hoping for the "Big" one is overrated. Constantly bringing one in, for me, is far more rewarding. I used a light pole with fast action and my friend had a 7'+ ultralight. We had a great day and lunch at 1 o'clock.