Monday, March 31, 2008

Grouper Identification

It is important for anglers to be able to identify their catch for many reasons. If you keep fish for food then you need to be able to identify and differentiate between the safe species to eat from the poisonous fish. You will also need to be able to identify fish because similar fish can have different restrictions and keeping an undersized or protected species can cost you more than your dignity. Ignorance will not be tolerated as an excuse when the fisheries officers come inspecting.

Grouper Identification
For new anglers, and even experienced ones, grouper identification can be quite difficult. They have almost identical body structures and even the colors can be very similar depending on the species and age of the fish. Another confusing factor is the different names for the same fish when fishing different states or countries. It takes a bit of study and practice, but nothing beats experience for identifying fish. It is a great idea to keep a laminated chart or fish identification book on board.

There are also heaps of great online fish id sites to help with grouper identification. The following are a collection I have used and recommend.

Fish ID pdf (It is a great resource to save to your computer for future reference)
Southern Fishing grouper ID
Florida fish ID

I hope these help you out!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Barramundi Facts

The barramundi, or barra as it is affectionately known, is an iconic sport fish of Northern Australia. They are well known for their aerial fighting ability and exceptional eating qualities.

Barramundi Facts

  • The barramundi can survive in both fresh and salt water, but require brackish water to breed. They are frequently encountered in rivers and estuaries and have been stocked into many still water lakes and dams (where they cannot breed).
  • Barramundi undergo a change sex after at least one breeding cycle. Young fish are born male and become female. Therefore most of the larger fish are females.
  • The scientific name for barramundi is Lates calcarifer and it belongs to the perch family of fishes.
  • Barramundi can grow up to 300mm in one year. They can reach sizes of 2 meters and weigh up to 60kg (130lbs). The average fish encountered by anglers is about 70cm.
  • Barramundi feed on smaller fish and crustaceans. They are cannibalistic and are capable of eating smaller barramundi up to half their own body length.
For more facts and information on this great fish you can check out my earlier post - barramundi sportfish profile.

What Do Great White Sharks Eat

I have a real fascination with sharks and I have written quite a few posts about sharks which you can have a look through here - index of shark posts. I also promised more "fact" posts so I thought that I would combine the two to put together todays post.

Great white sharks are the biggest and most well respected of the sharks. They are a fierce predator and many stories have been shared at the local pub about the close encounters with these awesome animals. They are aggressive animals and the sight of a great white shark feeding is an unforgettable experience.

What do Great White Sharks Eat
Great white sharks locate their prey with smell and sound and they can smell their prey from kilometers away. Great white sharks typically stay below their prey and ambush them, taking them by complete surprise.
Great white sharks are carnivorous (meat eater) and feed on animals with high fat content. Primarily the great white sharks diet is made up of :

  • fish
  • tuna
  • stingrays
  • smaller sharks
  • porpoises
  • dolphins
  • whales
  • seals
  • fur seals
  • sea lions.

Great white sharks have also been known to eat sea turtles. I found it interesting that while great white sharks will attack sea otters and penguins they very rarely eat them. Great white sharks will also eat pig carcasses if they find their way to the ocean.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tackle shop addiction

Today was my once monthly tackle shop expedition and I am ashamed to say I visited 5 tackle shops and spent far too much money. Luckily my wife is a fairly keen angler and is supportive of my fishing habit (or should I say addiction). We trolled through the shops looking at all the latest and greatest bits and pieces. I found a rail mount snap lock rod holder which is Aussie made and designed. It locks the rod into place while still allowing for quick release when the fish takes the line.

I also found a great fishing chair, which should make it easier on my back when I am shore fishing. There really is nothing like a great fishing chair for a long day sitting by the waters edge.

Like always I spent heaps of time looking at the new range of lures including the new Berkley Gulp colors and sizes that I just had to have.

Do you have a tackle shop addiction? I would love to hear your stories - please leave a comment.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blue Crab Facts

The blue crab is one of the most important crab species in the United States and there is an extensive fishery based around this tasty crustacean.

Where do blue crabs live
The blue crab is native to the western edge of the Atlantic ocean (including the gulf of Mexico) from about Nova Scotia in Canada through to Argentina. Overfishing has caused the population boundaries to decline somewhat, but they are still regularly encountered within these areas. Unfortunately the blue crab has been introduced into Japan and European waters possibly through the ballast water from ships.

Blue crabs are found in brackish water near the mouths of rivers and they spend most of their time in muddy shores and bottoms.

Fishing for blue crabs
In certain states of the US fishing for blue crabs is a popular pastime and like other crabs the best way to capture a feed is by using a crab pot of some form with a tasty bait inside. They can also be caught using dip nets (to scoop the crabs up) and on handline by gently lifting the crab to the surface. One of the most popular baits is chicken , but any fresh fish bait will also catch crabs. Many serious crabbers have their own favorite baits, which are a closely guarded secret.

It is easy to tell between a male and female crab. You simply turn the crab over and look at the apron (see pictures)

Always check your local crabbing regulations.

What do blue crabs eat?
Like most crabs blue crabs are omnivores (and not that picky I might add). They eat both plants and animals and prefer their animals as fresh as possible.

Eating qualities
Like most crabs the blue crab makes superb eating and requires only a simple cooking method and the slightest of seasoning to make a delicious meal.

Interesting blue crab facts

  • They can deliver an extremely painful pinch and are noted for being particularly aggressive (even out of the water) and difficult to handle safely.
  • A mature fertilized female produces about 2 million larvae.
  • Blue crabs malt at various stages during their life cycle.
  • You can also tell the sex of a blue crab via the color of its claws.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How to fly fish for steelhead

Steelhead, called ocean trout in my home of Australia, are simply ocean going Rainbow trout. The time spent at sea causes their color to become silvery and their red band to fade. They have been introduced into every continent on earth (excluding Antarctica) and present a challenge to anglers around the world. They are most commonly targeted on fly tackle and provide great sport and excellent eating.

How to fly fish for steelhead
Steelhead are a difficult fish to catch and that is what makes them so special. They can be hard to find, finicky at certain times and down right frustrating. There are many "steelhead anglers" who have actually never caught a steelhead, and this fact alone is a testament to their appeal. Even though I have been lucky enough to catch one or two on a trip to the southern parts of Australia I am, by no means, an expert on the topic. So I went about finding the best articles from the web for you to read.

Steelhead Articles
Article 1
Article 2
Article 3 - This whole site is gold for any steelhead angler!

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fishing Knots: Haywire Twist (wire leader)

The haywire twist is a popular method of joining a hook, swivel or lure to single-strand wire leader. When tied correctly the connection is stronger than the wire itself because of the double-wraps. It is a popular knot for trolling and can be used for big and small game leaders when targeting fish with nasty teeth including wahoo, barracuda, mackerel and sharks. The wire prevents the fish biting off the leader. The haywire twist is declining in popularity since the invention of knotable wire trace, but is still a very useful knot to learn.

How to tie a haywire twist - video

Monday, March 24, 2008

Recipes for baked cod

Baked cod is one of the first meals I remember eating in my life and was a family favorite for years until I rediscovered my love of fishing and began bringing home to odd keeper for dinner. Cod has many nutritional benefits including Omega-3 oil, lower your risk of heart disease, control high blood pressure and many more. A four-ounce serving of cod provides 1/2 your RDI of protein and contains only 119 calories!

Easy Baked Cod Recipe
This video shows a really great baked cod recipe that is really easy to make yourself. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare and about 25 minutes to cook and requires the following ingredients:

  • 2lbs Cod Fillets
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter (can be substituted with olive oil)
  • 3 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Other easy baked cod recipes
  • 1 1/2 lbs cod fillet (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup half and half (cream)

Remove skin and bones. Dry with paper towel. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in baking dish. Place fish topped with tomato slices. Sprinkle with cheese and pour cream over all. Bake 25 minutes or until fish flakes

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lowrance problems

While looking through my website reports yesterday I noticed a strange anomaly - people finding my site with the term "Lowrance problems." Now I am sure that I have never written about the topic before and I am in no way affiliated with Lowrance, but I figured I should provide people searching for this term some information to point them in the right direction.

Marine electronic problems
For what it is worth half of the marine electronics in my boat are made by Lowrance and I have never had a problem apart from the time a new GPS satellite was launched and my receiver told me I was traveling at 30,000 km's per hour! However, I have heard stories of unfortunate people with a problem fish finder or GPS and no particular brand is immune to these types of problems. There are many problems that can go wrong with marine electronics and they are exposed to some of the toughest conditions each trip. They can suffer with software problems, a hardware problem or an external problem (like salt corrosion). Not everything is covered under warranty, but you should always check with the manufacturer before pronouncing your electronics dead.

Lowrance Warranty - (US and Canada only)
If you have a Lowrance product you are covered by a full one year warranty (extract from the lowrance website)

  • We don't just talk about quality and reliability, we prove it by backing our units with the best warranty in the business. In the unlikely event your unit malfunctions or fails to conform to the product's written specifications due to a defect in materials or workmanship, we will repair it absolutely free for one year from the date of your original purchase. (Some limitations apply. Read the Lowrance warranty statement enclosed with each product.)
They also offer a warranty extension for up to two years (3 year total).

Lowrance warranty procedure - US and Canada only
I have only had to deal with Lowrance customer service once and I found them to be very helpful. If something goes wrong with your product there are certain procedures you should follow (extract from the Lowrance website).
  • If you need to speak with a Customer Service agent, please call our toll-free Customer Service line at 1-800-324-1356. Technicians and representatives are available to help you Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, except holidays. Lowrance is located at 12000 East Skelly Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128 USA.
I hope this helps anyone who is having trouble with a Lowrance marine electronic problem. I hope that everything works out well for you!

Grilled grouper recipes (with video)

We catch a lot of grouper in my part of the world and while we don't call them that here in Australia we are still partial to these great fish. There are many species of grouper and in my experience smallish grouper make very good eating while the bigger ones are a little bit tough and tasteless. Grouper are an essential part of the reef ecosystem and because of this when considering taking a grouper for dinner you should always check your local rules and regulations and take only enough for your immediate needs.

Grilled grouper recipe
This video I found shows an amazingly simple grilled grouper recipe and one that can be made with only the following ingredients:

  • Grouper Fillets
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Fish/poultry seasoning flavors
  • Spices
The end result looks very appetizing and my trial of this dish turned out quite well (although I was using a different species of fish).

If you give this recipe a try I would love to hear from you - please leave a comment

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tarpon Lures

Tarpon are one of the most iconic sportfish in the world and anglers come from all over the planet to tangle with these magnificent fish. Choosing lures for Tarpon can seem like a difficult task, but if you follow the guidelines below you should find something that works for you.

Hard body lures
The general consensus is that Rapala make great hard bod lures for tarpon especially the Super Shad Rap and the Magnum. Select your color according to the conditions and if in doubt choose natural looking colors. It is worth carrying many types of minnow, bomber and rebel lures for tarpon.

Soft Lures, Swimbaits and soft plastics
There are almost too many lures in this area to choose from, but if you have confidence in your selection you should get some fish. Remember to think like a fish and try to find a soft bait that resembles tarpon food. However, if you are looking for a definitive answer I have heard good reports about the DOA Baitbuster and Terror Eyz (both pictured below)

Tarpon on lures - video
I had to include this video in my post because it is a really special video and it the angler is using
DOA Lures. This is some of the best tarpon action I have found on youtube and the best boat maneuvering by the captain I have ever seen. I really think you will enjoy it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How do fish reproduce

For some time I have been thinking of writing a how do fish post a week, but have never really gotten around to it. I plan to cover a range of topics including how do fish reproduce (todays topic), hear, smell and many more. If you like (or hate) the idea feel free to leave a comment.

How do fish reproduce
While there are exceptions to the rule most fish reproduce in a similar fashion. In over 97% of fish species the eggs develop outside the mothers body. The male fish then fertilizes these eggs in the open water and they are left to hatch.

The newly-hatched young are called larvae. Usually they are poorly formed and carry a large yolk sac, which they use for food. At this stage they will look very different from the adult fish and are susceptible to predators. This period lasts for a few weeks during which the larvae grow and change their appearence and structure to resemble a juvenile fish. At this stage the fish will swich from feeding on the yolk sac to feeding on zooplankton prey.

In about 3% of the fish species the mother retains the eggs and internal fertilization takes place.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to fish a river

It would be hard to find something more relaxing than walking along, in or sitting on the bank of a river casting a fly, lure or bait. While all rivers require slightly different fishing techniques there are many techniques that will remain the same.

How to fish a river
Whenever you are fishing it pays to think like a fish and this is no different when fishing a river. Remember that the food will be flowing past the fish very quickly and they will not have much time to decide whether to eat it or not. Whether you are fishing with bait, lure or fly remember to make your presentations look as close as possible to the natural food sources in the river. Sometimes fish will prospect with their mouth (they don't have hands after all) eating everything that flows past, they swallow the food and spit out the rest. When the fish are in this mood you will need to be aware of any indications of a bite and strike early. When the fish are not feeding you can try to annoy them into biting with repetitive casts over the same area.

Upstream or downstream
You can fish upstream and move downstream or downstream and move upstream and your choice will probably depend on the river you are fishing. Talk to local anglers and tackle shops for a bit of advice or just sit and watch some of the locals for a while. It also pays to learn and remember the following fly fishing ettiquette rules for upstream and downstream fishing:

  • If a pool is being fished downstream by wetfly anglers, start upstream of them.
  • If a pool is being fished upstream by nymph anglers, start downstream of them.
  • Start your angling in the opposite direction.
  • Don't start fishing a pool downstream when someone else is fishing it upstream
  • Don't start fishing a pool upstream when someone else is fishing it downstream
  • If in doubt, ask where to fish so as not to cause a disturbance.
Other river fishing etiquette
Nothing spoils a relaxing day like someone having a go at you for doing something wrong. Unfortunately not everyone is patient with new anglers so it is worth learning the following river etiquette tips to avoid this kind of trouble:
  • Respect other anglers already on the water.
  • Enquire politely about their plans.
  • At stream mouths, join a line of anglers at the end unless there is a large gap.
  • Ask if it's okay to join an already occupied pool.
  • If a pool is full, wait on the bank or move somewhere else.
  • If you join others fishing a pool, don't fish the water someone is just about to fish.
  • Do not monopolise a stretch of water, even if you're catching fish there.
  • Move upstream or downstream with every few casts unless you are alone.
  • When sharing a pool, accepted practice is to take a step every time you cast.
  • Leave plenty of room for your neighbour to cast, and to play and reel in a hooked fish.
  • Do not fill a gap left by an angler landing a fish - let them return.
  • If other anglers offend through inexperience, have a gentle word with them

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boating Knots - Water Bowline Knot (with video)

If you have spent any time on the water you have undoubtedly experienced, or seen, engine trouble of some kind. I think that my old man and I have been towed in about 5 times and it never gets more enjoyable. However, most boaties are friendly people and it only takes a bit of a wave or a call over the radio for someone to come to your aid. This is where the water bowline knot comes into good use.

The water bowline knot is one of the best knots for towing a boat with another boat because it can take the jarring towing motions and not become lose. I recommend that every boat owner should know this knot before heading out on the water.

How to tie a water bowline knot - video

Monday, March 17, 2008

What do crabs eat

I love catching crabs and enjoy eating them even more, but when other crab anglers get wind of your success they always want to know what bait you are using in your crab pot. I get asked about crab eating habits fairly often so I thought it might be worth writing a little post about what crabs actually eat.

What do crabs eat
There are many different types of crabs including the spider crab, hermit crab, mud crab, blue crab, horseshoe crab, fiddler crab and sand crab, just to name a few. Even though there are hundreds of different species all the research suggests that they have a very similar diet.

It might surprise people that about half of a crabs diet is plant matter, but that doesn't mean you should start putting rotting wood into your crab pots just yet. The other half of a crabs diet consists of any animal matter that it can scavenge. This is made up primarily of fish matter, shellfish, snails, worms, fungi and bacteria. Contrary to popular belief crabs are more partial to fresh fish than rotten fish. The later being popular with crab anglers due to the belief that crabs can find rotting animal materials because of the smell.

Other Crab Facts

  • The crab's teeth are in their stomachs.
  • Crabs live for about 3 years on average.
  • A crab can voluntarily detach its claw when in danger and its claw it will grow back.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How to anchor a boat

Anchoring a boat is not quite as simple as chucking the anchor over the side of the boat and tying it off, but with some simple tips to remember it doesn't have to be a nightmare either.

1. Choose the correct type of anchor
It is very important to select the correct anchor for the conditions and bottom structure you plan on anchoring in. There are many types of anchors and each is used in different conditions.

Danforth anchor

Danforth anchors have a very good holding power in very soft mud, conditions. Not suitable for reef anchoring.

Grapnel (reef) anchor
This anchors are used for reef, rock and wreck bottoms. They are designed to hook onto the coral and rock. It is quite possible for this anchor to find such a good hook that it is impossible to retrieve.

Mushroom Anchor
Designed to bury in the soft bottom and provide very strong holding power. Not suitable for strong current or reef anchoring.

CQR / Plough Anchor
A solid all round anchor that is suitable for almost all bottom types, but should not replace a specific bottom anchor.

There are many other types of anchors available and you should research this area further before deciding on an anchor type.

2. Chain
A 1-2 meter length of chain should be attached to the anchor. This provides abrasion resistance and extra weight for holding power.

3. Secure the anchor
Make sure that anchor is tied to the boat you can see my earlier post for instructions on this here - how to attach a boat anchor

How to anchor a boat

  • Determine the depth and type of bottom you are anchoring on.
  • Put your bow into the wind or current (whichever is having the greatest affect on your boat), motor slowly to just beyond where you want your anchor to lie.
  • Don't just throw the anchor, but gently release it and let the rope feed through your hands (gloves are recommended for this) until you feel the slack in the line.
  • Once it hits the bottom let the rope out about 7 times the depth of the water (eg. if the water is 10 feet deep let out 70 feet of rope.).
  • Tie the anchor off securely and slowly reverse the boat to help set the anchor in the bottom.
  • Pick some landmarks and watch these carefully to ensure you are not drifting (most modern chartplotters have an alarm for this very event.)
Never anchor a boat by the stern as it has caused many boats to capsize and sink.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How to smoke salmon (with video)

Smoked salmon is one of my favorite meals and it is easy enough to do yourself. Smoking it yourself can save you some money and it can be quite fun. In this video the presenter uses a cooktop smoker, which can be found for around $40 from most good stores. However, there are many different types of smokers and it pays to do a little bit of research to find the right one for you. Most people start off with a cheap smoker to practice with and move up to a high end model once they have mastered the art.

Salmon is high in Omega 3 oils, which is very good for the heart and developing brain. There has been extensive study on salmon and its health benefits and the general consensus is to try and eat wild salmon where possible.

How to smoke salmon - video

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A bad day fishing beats a good day at work

I managed to get the week off work and made plans with my old man to fish our local harbor today. Even though everything seemed right we just couldn't take a trick and the day ended with a quick run back to the boat ramp to beat one of the tropical storms we get. The fishing was slow and even though we caught a few fish they were all very small. Sometimes fishing is like that though and the uncertainty and challenge is what makes it fun.

Most anglers have heard the saying a bad day fishing beats a good day at work, but what I want to know is if you stand by this saying or not? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to cast a fly rod (with video)

Fly fishing is a rewarding way of fishing and even though I am not much good at it I still enjoy my time spent with fly rod in hand. Learning to cast a fly rod is probably one of the hardest learning curves in fishing and I certainly had (or should that be have) my fair share of difficulties. Fortunately these days learning to cast a fly rod is made easier with the Internet and I am going to share the resources that have helped me.

How to cast a fly rod

The Overhand cast (back cast)
The overhand cast is the basic fly fishing cast. It is used to pick your fly line up off the water and reposition your fly on a different target.

The Roll Cast
The roll cast is useful when obstacles behind an angler prevent a normal backcast. This instructional video shows the roll cast:

Fly fishing casting guides and resources
Basic casting technique
Roll Cast
Overhand Cast

There are many more advanced casting techniques and tips that you may want to eventually learn, but this information should help get you started in the wonderful world of fly fishing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How to attach a boat anchor (with video)

Surprisingly, even to me, I have written about attaching a boat anchor to the boat before. However, I get many requests each week for a post about this and it is about time I addressed this topic.

Attaching the anchor rope to the boat
The most important consideration when attaching your anchor to the boat is to make sure that you are using a secure and strong knot. I have heard countless stories of people attaching their anchor with a single overhand knot (or granny knot as we call them), or even worse not attaching it at all, and throwing it overboard. These stories usually end with someone diving after the anchor rope and finally in tears!

The anchor bend knot is my choice for attaching the anchor to the boat. It is a strong and very secure knot, but is surprisingly easy to tie. This knot can also be used for attaching the anchor rope to the anchor chain (or directly to the anchor in emergencies).

Instructional Video

I hope this little post was helpful.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fly Tying Instructions - Wooly Bugger (video)

The wooly bugger (also spelled woolly) is one of the most well known and versatile fly patterns available. It can be tied in a variety of colors, hook sizes and patterns to suit your fishing scenario. They can be tied to imitate a variety of different fish food forms including baitfish, crustaceans, insect nymphs salamanders and leeches. It is most often tied in green, red, olive, gray, grizzly, brown, black, yellow, white, and purple. This fly can be fished near the surface, or with the addition of weight it is often fished deep.

The wooly bugger is deadly on trout and salmon, but can be used successfully on a variety of species including bass. It is a big fish fly and consistently rates as one of the most popular flies. The Wooly bugger is a versitile fly and can be cast upstream like a nymph or cast across a stream and left to drift with the current. Fish the wooly bugger slowly while imparting a little bit of action on the fly.

How to tie a wooly bugger (video)
This video comes in two parts and is very well presented.

Part 1

Part 2

I hope you have enjoyed this post.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fish finders for kayaks

Fishing from kayaks is becoming quite a popular pastime. Even where I live I have seen people in ocean going kayaks going out to the close inshore reefs. That might not seem like such a big thing, but I live in an area famous for big crocodile attacks. Anyway onto todays topic...

Fish finders for kayaks
Fish finders for kayaks are really not much different than fish finders for boats. The main difference being that space is a premium and you will probably want a slimmer receiving and sending unit. Any portable fish finder will work as well as any streamlined boat model. However, make sure the model you purchase is usable with a portable re-chargeable battery.

Choosing a fish finder for your kayak
Select a model with as many pixels as possible for better definition. Spending a few extra dollars in this area can make a lot of difference. A cone angle of 20 degrees will be perfectly adequate. The power of the fishfinder is not really a concern when fishing from a kayak unless you are planning on exploring over 200 feet of water. Transducer selection is very easy with a kayak and the model provided with the unit will be perfectly usable, even through the kayaks hull.

Installing the fishfinder transponder on kayak (transducer)
I am not an expert in this area and there are already some very good resources in this area. It doesn't look overly simple, but most people should be able to follow the guide through. Here are some great resources:

Sonar install for a kayak

Video of kayak sonar installation

How to fish swimbaits

Fishing for bass, and other species, with swimbaits is becoming increasingly popular. Fishing with large swimbaits has become one of the most popular methods of catching very big aggressive bass especially during the spawning season.

Choosing a swimbait
Swimbaits vary greatly is sizes, colors and design. You can find tiny shad, crappie, and bluegill imitations to huge 12" trout swimbaits that will run very deep. Just like the fly fishing saying it is best to "match the hatch" and choose a swimbait that resembles what the bass are feeding on at the time. For really big bass during spawning try a large trout swimbait.

When to fish swimbaits?
Simbaits can be fish all throughout the year with some success, but they seem to be very popular between
January and May in the pre and post spawn.

How to fish swimbaits?
Fish swimbaits around structure and when during spawning near spawning areas. Top areas include main lake and secondary points, along deep or inside grass lines, and along creek channels running through spawning flats.

When fishing around wood cover, run your lure into stumps and through laydowns, pausing momentarily after making contact with the cover. Most bass will hit either on the pause or once the bait starts up again. In grass, make sure you’re getting your bait deep enough to tick the top of the grass. When your lure starts to snag, give it a sharp snap. Many of your bites will come as the swimbait rips free. (thanks to for this info)

As with all forms of fishing experimentation is the key. Work likely areas until you discover a pattern and replicate your success.

Rigging a swimbait
This video shows the basic rigging method, but there are many variations. You local tackle shop should be able to show you all the variants of this method.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Angler fish facts

I first saw an angler fish in the Iron Chef "angler fish battle" or was it Finding Nemo - I can't remember now, but it is one weird looking fish. However, angler fish are one of those weird creatures that seem to capture everyones imagination. It's weird looking, a little scary and apparently the liver is the only part worth eating (according to the Japanese anyway).

Angler fish facts

  • The angler fish is so named because of its strange method of catching prey. They dangle and wiggle a filament attached to their head (see the angler fish pictures below) to look like prey and attract small fish. When these fish get close enough the angler fish swallows them whole. Their jaws are actually controlled by an automatic reflex when their is contact with their tentacle.
  • Angler fish are deep sea fish by nature and are found worldwide.
  • There are many different species of angler fish - some are pelagic, while others remain on the bottom of the ocean floor.
  • In Japan the liver of the angler fish is worth approximately $100US while a whole fish will set you back about $150
  • Some angler fish have arm-like pectoral fins that they use to walk along the ocean floor
Angler Fish Pictures

There are many species of angler fish and some are very difficult to photograph because of the lack of light in the deep parts of the ocean they live. However, there have been some really great photographs of angler fish captured.

My personal favorite picture

Scary looking isn't it?

I hope you have enjoyed this post.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How do fish finders work

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will have noticed I have been answering some of the questions I get asked via email the last few weeks and this post is no different. I must get asked about this at least once a week so I thought it was time to tackle the subject of how fish finders work.

How do fish finders work
A fishfinder (also called a depth finder or sounder) is made up of two parts that work together seamlessly. The receiving unit processes the signal and interprets the data which it displays on an LCD screen. The sending unit, called the transducer, sends the sonar signal to the bottom and when it receives the signal back it sends this signal to the computer for interpretation and display.

The underwater part
A fish finder sends an acoustic pulse directly downwards to the seabed and records the returned echo. The sound pulse is generated by the transducer that emits an acoustic pulse and then “listens” for the return signal. The time for the signal to return is recorded and converted to a depth measurement by calculating the speed of sound in water. The time interval, measured in milliseconds, between the pulse being transmitted and the echo being received, allows bottom depth and targets to be measured.

Fish finders can be used to detect bottom structure like wrecks, reefs and snags. With practice anglers can even distinguish a hard reefy bottom from mud or sand.

Sound waves travel differently through fish than through water because a fish's air-filled swim bladder has a different density than seawater. This density difference allows the detection of schools of fish by using reflected sound. (wikipedia)

Why do fishfinders show arches

As the fish swim through the beam they are shown as arches. If your boat is stationary and the fish are stationary you will see a straight line instead (as the sound keeps bouncing off the fish).

This is best explained with a picture:

You can set up your fish finder to fish show symbols or arches. Fish symbols are shown when the sophisticated computer detects enough of an echo to be a fish. However the computer can make incorrect detections and most serious anglers use fish arches and choose to interpret the data themselves.

Two soundings - one using fish arches the other using fish symbols.

Do fish finders scare fish? Can fish hear the fishfinder?
The simple answer to this question is no. Fish cannot actually hear the sound emitted by the fish finder as the frequency is out of their hearing range. As for whether they can feel it in their swim bladder, that is still up for debate. For what it is worth I have caught good fish with the sounder on and off so I don't put much reliance in this theory.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have any topics you would like to see me post about or want to know more feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Where do sharks live

Sharks hold a certain fascination for many people and I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people visiting my shark posts so far. I have been watching some of the shark week on the discovery channel lately and I thought I would share some of what I have learned.

Where do sharks live?
Contrary to popular belief sharks are only found in 30% of the world oceans making 70% shark free. However, most coastal areas will be home to at least one species of shark. Research shows that sharks cannot live in water deeper than 1500 meters and this makes them susceptible to overfishing.

Great White Sharks are found in almost all coastal waters with temperatures from 12 and 24° C. There are large concentrations in Australia, South Africa and California.

Tiger sharks can be found close to the coast in almost all tropical and sub-tropical waters and will sometimes stray into temperate and cool waters.

Mako sharks are found in almost all tropical and temperate waters worldwide.

Interesting shark facts

  • The bull shark is well known for its ability to live in both fresh and salt water - imagine the surprise if one made its way into your local bass lake!
  • In the 16th century sharks were usually referred to as "sea dogs"
  • Sharks never stop swimming, even to sleep, otherwise they would fall to the sea floor.
  • Black-tip reef sharks have swum the Suez canal to colonize the Mediterranean Sea.
  • While snorkeling in Australia, Luke Tresoglavic was bitten by a small wobbegong that didn't let go. He had to swim to the shore and drive to get help with the shark still attached to his leg.
  • During an experiment a scientist plugged on nostril of a shark - it swam in a circle.
Sharks are susceptible to overfishing and many species are now on the endangered list. As you might expect sharks are very good fighters and can grow to enormous sizes. Some sharks are also good eating. However the fact that they are under so much fishing pressure and can be downright dangerous near a boat means that you should think carefully before purposely targeting sharks.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fishing advice

This question comes up a lot in my conversations with fellow anglers - where is the best place to get fishing advice? There are many places where fishing advice abounds including fishing forums, local fishing media, tackle shops, fishing clubs, other anglers and even pubs. However, not all of this advice is useful and it always pays

Before asking for any local advice remember to respect the locals and they will respect you. Buying someone a beer and listening to them for a while is more likely to get results than talking up your angling prowess endlessly.

I personally use a combination of all methods for finding fishing advice. I read everything I can in the local media including current fishing reports. I always ask at my local tackle shop for a bit of current advice (spending a few dollars always helps too.) I am part of a grapevine of local anglers that share information, which makes it very easy to find out where the fish are biting currently.

Fishing advice from forums
I think this deserves its own section and I don't want to offend anyone here, but I don't find all of the advice from them very helpful. I find it too hard to weed out the really useful posts from the people who are simply talking themselves up without any real useful information. After saying all that though if you are prepared to take the time you will find plenty of useful information.

Wherever you go for fishing information and reports there really is no substitute for exploring your local area and working out the hot spots yourself.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fishing Lure Earrings

Fishing lure earrings are exactly what you would imagine them to be, either lures that have been turned into earrings or specially made for the purpose. They are certainly a fashion statement and while not everyone can pull them off they can certainly work for some people.

My wife has a pair and wears them when we go fishing or as a talking point at various events. She even caught me looking at her ear one day when I had forgotten my spare lure box, but quickly shut me down with a "don't even think about it."

I am not really sure where you can get them from (if you know please leave a comment). I think my wife got them from our local jeweler, but we do live in a fishing crazy town. I saw a set of spinnerbait earrings on ebay the other day, which were so cool and this was the catalyst for this post.

There are more and more women getting into the sport of fishing and as this number grows you can expect to see more accessories targeting this market. Lately I have noticed more pink fishing rods than ever before and I read that one of the major tackle companies are donating some of the profits from these rods to breast cancer research, which is really great to hear.

Here are some of the cooler ones I found while searching the net:

I love these ones apparently they are "fun and waterproof" :-)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ice Fishing Knots

Like all forms of fishing ice fishing requires strong knots that can handle the tough conditions they will be put through. Choosing the correct knots for ice fishing depends on the line you are using. Contrary to popular belief you do not need a special type of line for this form of fishing either monofilament or braided fishing line will work well with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to withstand any abrasion.

Ice fishing knots

Line to leader
There are many good knots for this situation and the knots listed below work equally well with monofilament or braid. Just remember to add some extra turns if using braid.

Albright knot
This knot works well joining lines of very different diameters. You can find instructions (and a video) for this knot at my earlier post - how to tie an albright knot.

Uni to Uni (Double Uni) Knot
This knot is my personal favorite for joining my line to my leader. It is easy to tie, but still retains its strength. You can find instructions for this knot at my earlier post - how to tie a double uni knot.

Leader to hook (and other terminal tackle)

Improved Clinch Knot
This knot works well with mono and braid lines (increase turns when tying in braid). It is simple to tie and sufficiently strong for most situations. You will find the instructions for this knot at the post how to tie an improved clinch knot.

Jansik Knot
One of the most popular ice fishing knots the jansik knot is easy to tie and has one of the strongest knots strengths when tied correctly. I have not tested it with braided line. You will find instructions for the Jansik knot here.

Uni Knot
Another popular method of joining the leader to a hook is the uni knot. You can find instructions for the uni knot at the post how to tie a uni knot.

Advanced knots
Although the need for advanced knots when ice fishing is rare. There are a couple of advanced leader knots that may be useful.
Bimini Twist
Bristol Knot

I hope this little post has helped you out. If you would like to see any knots that aren't on the list (or think I have made a glaring omission) feel free to leave a comment.

Bass video lessons

Bass are probably one of, if not the, iconic freshwater sportsfish in the world. I have had heaps of requests for bass lessons or tips. These requests keep pouring in so I had to do something about it. Unfortunately I am not from the US and I have never caught and American bass. Luckily though there is plenty of information on the web and I was able to piece together this little informative post (with videos).

These bass video lessons are presented by Doug Hannon one of the most famous bass fishermen who just so happens to be called the bass professor.

Video 1 - Big Bass Tip
In this video Doug Hannon talks about the secret to catching big bass, that really isn't a secret at all. What he says can easily be related to your fishing.

Video 2 - Big Bass love structure
In this video Doug talks about finding the right structure and fish that are active. There are some fantastic underwater shots to help explain the different types of structure.

Video 3 -
Moon phases and bass
In this video Doug talks about the effects that the moon phases have on big bass and their feeding habits.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. There are many more video lessons available and if you would like to request anything in particular feel free to leave a comment.