Saturday, June 11, 2005

Step 2A: Fishing.

Fishing is the simplest and one of the most enjoyable ways to provide some of your own meat.

There is an amazing number of fishing rods and reels available on the market. Some costing hundreds of dollars. But you don't need to spend much money to catch fish. I personally own one Zebco 202 rod and reel which I purchased from Mal-Wart for $10 and a Zebco 33 rod and reel outfit, that was $20.

If you've never gone fishing before don't worry, it's easy. First of all, for your first times out, forget about lures altogether. If you're bank-fishing a public body of water, they are useless. Go back into the garden that you've dug and root around till you've got yourself a handful of nightcrawlers, then put them in one of the containers that you've saved instead of thrown away along with some moist dirt and head for the fishing hole. When you get to the water you have several options. I personally like to have one rod rigged to set the bait on the bottom and one rod rigged with a bobber to fish closer to the surface.

For the bottom rig, take the line from your reel and put on an egg sinker (about half an ounce, doesn't have to be real heavy just enough to get the bait to the bottom) then tie on an eye swivel. After the swivel, tie on a short leader of line (can be the same stuff on your reel) and then tie on the hook. For the bottom rig, I'm targeting catfish so I like the slightly bigger hooks labeled 2/0. Thread a worm on that hook and cast her out and let her sit till you get a bite, then reel it in. Catfish will usually hit the bait so hard and inhale it so deep that you won't even have to set the hook, just reel 'em on in.

For the surface rig, tie a snap swivel to the end of the line from your reel, then clip a bobber above the swivel (I prefer the ones with a little weight to them). You can experiment with how far up the line you put it, some days fish might want it shallower other days they might want it deeper. You can either put the hook right on the swivel, or you can use a leader. When you are speficially going for the more spooky panfish, a light-line leader (ie-4 pound test) might be an advantage because it's not as visible underwater as the heavier line.

Some folks also put a little weight on the line. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't; I don't think it really matters that much for this type of fishing. The size hook you want to use depends on what you're trying to catch. When I use the surface rig I'm usually going for panfish (bluegill, crappie), and use a very small hook, No. 6 or even No. 8. This rig will also catch bass.

For the surface rig, I don't put a whole worm on the hook. Just pinch off a bit and stick that on there. Panfish are a little more tricky to get on the hook though. Sometimes they'll hit the bait hard enough to hook themselves, and other times they'll steal that worm right off without you even knowing it. You just have to practice. Watch that bobber, most times you'll see it start moving differently when the fish are inspecting it. Just about as soon as it goes under you want to lightly set the hook, there's what you have to practice. You don't want to jerk it right out of their mouths, but you don't want to let them spit it back out either. The most important thing in reeling in the bass or panfish is to keep that line tight, if you let them get some slack in it they'll spit that hook out faster than anything and they'll be gone.

Using these methods, if they are there to catch, you will catch fish.

When you leave the lake you're only half-done though. You still need to get them cleaned and put away.

I prefer to filet most of my fish. This is not the easiest way to do it, but it is certainly the cleanest. Take the whole fish, it's sometimes easier if you have one of those boards with the clamp at one end, make a cut down the side of the fish behind the gills. Then make a cut along that same side of the spine down the length of the fish almost all the way to the tail. Then proceed to gently filet off the meat from the ribs. Then filet the skin off the meat. This way is nice because you don't have to gut or scale the fish and there will be no bones in the meat.

Catfish can be done the same way, but it is a good deal more difficult. For one thing those spines will leave inflict a nasty injury if they poke you, and it will take a while to heal (so I've heard, I've been blessed not to have been poked yet). Some folks use their pliers and cut the spines off, which I'll probably do this year too.

Another way to prepare fish is to scale and gut them and cut off their heads. This way is probably better for the smaller panfish because you won't waste any meat (as often happens with me when trying to filet the little buggers). And I'll probably be doing this more often this year, now that we have a place to grill stuff.

When you find the right places to go, you'll be rewarded with a catches like these.


Anonymous said...

nice bass

Ozark Nick said...

Thank you!

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