July 31, 2007
Swordfish are among the toughest big game fish to swim as young Rachel Olander just found out. She was soaking a dead mackerel on a circle hook 60 feet down over a 1,200-foot drop called “The Spur” off Destin, Fla., when the big fish ate. An hour into the fight the fish finally showed itself confirming Capt. Donnie Brown’s early comment that this fish had definite shoulders. “I didn’t realize just how big it really was,” Brown said.
Rachel is a fit marathon runner. Still, the fight was epic. The fish was hooked at 3:30 am. It finally came to gaff 7-1/2 hours later at 11:00am.
Donnie Brown raced his 55-foot Hetteras See Ya back to Destin’s Harbor Walk Marina where it pulled the scale down to 363 lbs. before an awe-struck crowd.
Angler Rachel is the daughter of Doug Olander, editor of Sport Fishing, part of Outdoor Life’s magazine family. Her fish was taken on a Daiwa Saltiga rod fitted to a Daiwa MP 3000 Power Assist Reel spooled with 150-lb. Daiwa Dendoh Braid. Although the reel has automatic winching capability, Rachel elected not use the feature. She chose to crank manually all the way.
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July 25, 2007by
Over the years I’ve answered a lot of questions about fish-swallowed hooks, hooks lodged in fish jaws and other areas, and what to do about them. Most times, if removing the hook will obviously cause more damage, the answer is to cut the line close as possible to the hook eye, then release the fish if it’s not destined for the table. There are many studies that show hooks dissolving in fish stomachs, hooks actually passing through stomach walls, through sides of fish, where they sloughed off along with scar tissue, leaving the fish swimming grandly. OK, so how about animals that scoff a baited hook—and swallow it? How about our favorite dog?
If you’re a dog person, you know the unbelievable things they can consume without (mostly) ill effects. I had a Lab that used to eat the kids’ toy soldiers and trucks, and once ate a needle and long thread. Had a shorthair that regularly ate the allegedly poisonous leaves from one of my wife’s plants. We took her to the vet who didn’t think much of it, even after the dog foamed at the mouth for awhile. After the third episode the dog no longer foamed and the plant turned bonsai and grew miniature leaves to render itself less showy. Then there’s the story of the Jack Russell named Candy, owned by Elwyn and Sylvia Thomas.
Candy grabbed a baited hook just as Elwyn was about to cast. And she swallowed it in good shape. An X-Ray showed the two-inch hook lodged in the dog’s stomach, but the vet suggested something other than surgery—banana sandwiches. Soft, high-fiber food usually does the trick, the vet allowed. Sure enough, two days later nature took its course and the problem was solved.
“Candy proudly brought the hook to the back door to show us,” said owner Thomas.
Ever have a fishin’ dog incident yourself?
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July 18, 2007by
Few anglers who tow full-size bass, walleye, or bay boats, or good size family runabouts doubt the value of brakes on their trailers. But there’s good reason to consider trailer brakes on somewhat smaller boat/trailer packages, too. Even if your tow vehicle is a full-size muscle truck you need to consider ever more crowded roads, the idiots on them, and the increased possibility of panic stops. And given today’s gas prices lots of outdoorsmen and women have downsized their towing vehicles. Lighter tow rigs can take longer to stop.
For most of us the trailer brake choice can be simplified. Just choose surge type disc brakes—period. (If you want to know why I pass on drum or electronic brakes just ask me here or email me at email@example.com).
Second decision is the type rotor—that’s the circular metal disk that the brake pads (mounted on their calipers) pinch to slow/stop the rig. My choice is the simple slip-over rotor. It just goes over the hub and is held in place by the wheel and wheel nuts. If either hub or rotor goes bad you keep the good part and replace the bad. The other type rotor is called integral and it includes both the hub and rotor together. The studs are part of the rotor. The complete unit needs replacement if anything goes bad.
Third decision is the type metal/coating for the rotors, calipers, caliper mounting brackets. Forget standard auto finish for boat trailers. E-coating is the best value for fresh water and very limited salt water use. Silver cadmium plating offers best value for saltwater protection (rust begins forming under salt water spray tests between 400-600 hours). Stainless steel offers the best protection for salt water (negligible rust forms under the spray test after 1000 hours), and it’s the most expensive.
Most manufacturers offer brake kits whose parts can have a mix of different coatings/metal—e.g. stainless rotors, aluminum cast calipers, etc. so check carefully to assure you get exactly what you want.
Recently I retrofitted and upgraded my brakes. The pads had gone, and I wanted to switch from the integral hub/rotor to the slip-over type, and also because my trailer regularly takes a saltwater bath I decided to bite the bullet and go full stainless. The only kit I could find in stainless for all components—rotors, calipers, caliper mount brackets and bolts is made by Kodiak Trailer Components (www.kodiaktrailer.com ; 817-284-2324). I also decided to change my hubs (galvanized is best) and bearings at the same time.
My kit came with good step-by-step instructions. I had changed out hubs and bearings myself in the past, and this brake job looked pretty easy. Still, I decided to work with a specialist to make sure. It turned out that the mechanic had never installed boat trailer brakes, but we worked hand-in-hand and it was easy. Check out the main steps in the pictures and you’ll see. (If your trailer has never had brakes, you’ll need to buy an actuator hitch coupler and brake lines.) Once new brakes are installed, don’t fail to “bleed” the lines to get max performance. It’s easy and all explained in your instructions.
Just as you regularly check your bearing protectors for proper grease (or oil in oil bath systems), you should check your brakes. Simply jack up, pull a wheel and you’ll be able to inspect pads for wear (and also the rotor and caliper). You only need do this once a year (unless you’re hearing evil noises) VS the more-often inspections you do on your bearing protectors.
More tips: organic brake pads wear fastest but you can put several thousand miles on good ones. Metallic pads can rust especially in salt water. The newest ceramic pads are best. (Kodiak’s are lifetime warranted with free replacements if you register them.) Replacing pads, is a simple job you can do with no help. Just remove two caliper nuts. The calipers swing down and you pop out the old pads.
Everyone has heard the horror stories that surround towing with insufficient bearing grease (or oil in bath systems) in the hubs. The same applies to worn-out brake pads resulting in metal-to-metal contact. You can destroy the rotors, bearings and eventually axle spindle for a total destruct scenario.
Gone Fishin’ visitors who’d like even more detailed info should feel free to contact me any time.
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July 10, 2007by
My report on the two new “Radical Reels” column in the August issue of Outdoor Life promised my “curmudgeon test” report after some intense on-the-water use of the products. Those two reels include Doug Hannon’s Wave Caster, and US Reel’s SuperCaster 240SX.
The circumference of the Wave Caster’s spool lip features little teeth that remind me of a miniature skill saw; their purpose is to eliminate line loops on the spool and following problem of birds nests when you make the next power cast—when line just balloons off the reel into the first guide.
The SuperCaster 240SX is a compact, small frame model with an extra-large spool diameter that is advertised as both cutting down on tight-coil line memory that comes from very small spools, and thus increased cast distance. Much was made of the well-tuned drag system as well.
So far I’ve used both reels in both freshwater (for small and largemouth bass) and in an inshore saltwater environment on smaller striped bass and bluefish. I’ve done my regular cleaning routine after saltwater use so only more time will tell if there’ll be any long-term corrosion issues here. Both reels are said to be able to handle the marine environment no sweat.
Besides my own use, I was able to put the Hannon WaveCaster into the hands of some pretty vile casters who’ve in the past frequently reduced my spin reels to an inoperative state—usually during a hot bite—from the old loop/birds nest problem. That’s always caused by slack line being cranked onto the spool. A loop instantly develops followed by more line being wound over it. I’m happy to report that WaveCast truly does do what it’s supposed to. Oh, occasionally some loops formed but they did not produce birdsnests on the cast. And on the subsequent crank-in, they were gone.
Nor did those skill-saw teeth on the spool lip prove uncomfortable (they’re smoothed) when you feather or stop the line outflow at cast’s end by touching the lip with your forefinger. You do feather your cast for accuracy or prevention of slack, don’t you? Well, a lot of casual anglers do not, which helps lead to that above-mentioned slack, and this reel simply eliminates an ensuing problem. I’ve used both braid line and monofilament on the reel with equally good results.
The drag is quite smooth, too, and can be cranked down to very heavy setting that will bring murmurings of joy from ardent largemouth bass fishermen. The round, ported knob on the crank handle has produced raves and retches from anglers. Obviously it’s different from the usual paddle or flattened knob on most reels. You’ll either love it or hate it. In use, it revolves so easily the feeling is of the entire handle nearly floating in your hand. Personally, I like it a lot. If you don’t you can change the thing out.
A second-generation model is out now. It has a spectacular new feature for changing line. By removing the front spool drag nut, the lip of the spool screws off. Now you can strip off all the old line in one wad in seconds with your hand. The new real has increased drag and the gear case is totally sealed against saltwater. There’s a removable plug and lube port for maintenance.
The reel comes in a nice neoprene case. There’s a stretchable line protector cover for use when storing the reel. This is a very cool, sports-car-looking piece of gear that, with its generous 10 bearings, runs silky smooth. There was a change from the contact in our August issue. The new website is
www.wavecast-reel.com. You can buy direct.
What seems to first impress everyone is this reel’s sensation of lightness when matched to an appropriate rod. True, the physical weight is light when compared to any reel with similar line capacity, but it also comes from the compact—call it “squatty” design of the unit. High line capacity reels— especially with really long front spools hanging out in front of your hand—can result in more fatigue after an entire day of hard casting. If you don’t need to spool on all the line the reel is capable of holding, you can save money by using the included snap-on arbor. That reduces a capacity of 254 yards of 12-pound mono to 168 yards.
As I mentioned in OL, the spool diameters on the SuperCaster family are larger than normally found on reels of such small frames. This makes for an all–around comfortable situation in several areas. First, the line comes off the spool quickly and easily during the cast—you definitely do need to use your first finger to stop line outflow for precision casting. I found the reel makes flipping and pitching techniques a breeze—especially using light finesse rigs.
Big spool diameters help cut down on line memory using stiffer monofilaments. That’s not a problem with braid lines but the shortened, wide diameter spool on this reel has an advantage when using braid. With long spools, especially of smaller diameter, the top braid coils can sometime catch under coils on the way out during the cast, either shortening distance or pulling off loops. The SuperCaster seems to eliminate the problem both for me and others who’ve used it on my boat. Because I tend to jam a lot of rigged rod/reels into my tight rod lockers, I’ve found that the wide spool with its attendant rotor and bail tend to take some jiggling and finessing to nest in with a bunch of other outfits. Also, I wish there was a somewhat larger knob on the crank handle.
The reel’s drag system is excellent. As mentioned it was designed with input from an engineer who has had extensive experience testing reel drags from all manufacturers. There’s no problem really cranking the drag down to yank-‘em-out settings, but when targeting fish that really run, the lighter settings allow silky performance; no jerks and starts which can pop lighter string.
There’s a yet larger model promised for the coming year aimed at jetty and surf anglers and for bigger game from boats. This could quell the sometimes dubious reactions from beach anglers used to the Humvee muscle look of the heavier, large-capacity reels they normally use casting big artificials and bait. The 240SX appears to be a more finesse-oriented reel, but thus far it’s handling heavy-duty freshwater work as well as inshore species, and with the great drag should prove great fun with fish that tend to be long-distance runners. www.usreels.com
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July 2, 2007by
It figures. Since the delusional PETA People discovered that their recent tough love tactics flopped—you’ll remember their campaign of killing rescued animals, throwing the bodies into dumpsters, and the billboard images of the puppy with a treble hook lure distending its mouth—there’s been a tactical sea change in their war room. It’s all about cartoon-cuddly now, and what better way to plant the brain worm of unreality in the minds of kids.
The campaign—it’s been on-going a little while now—is called the Fish Empathy Project. One of its get-involved “good works” had supporters contribute to a Fish Empathy Quilt. Yes. Participants have stitched-up 100 squares that once assembled bloomed to 300-plus square feet. It’s all in “honor of the billions of fish who are abused and killed by humans every year for food and sport.”
Wait, don’t puke yet.
Now on this quilt in places is the fin-jerk mantra from that cute (and error-riddled) movie Finding Nemo. Remember? “Fish are friends, not food.”
Supporter/fundraisers have a kit bag of talking points to trot out in their efforts. Stuff like “Fish talk to each other, tend well-kept gardens, build nests, and collect rocks for building hiding places where they can rest.” Some of the many factoids have esoteric foundation, but the convoluted presentation is, like PETA thinking, other worldly.
That’s the problem. Non-reality in the form of soft, cuddly cartoons that humanize even the nastiest of critters (I expect a kids book devoted to the misunderstood cockroach shortly) are effective tools to hammer home even the most ill-conceived of messages.
I don’t like typing it but you need to see the kind of propaganda the P-People spew. Check www.fishinghurts.com and click around there to see.
If you spot some of this stuff being slipped into kids library reading hours, school programs, or wherever, I want to hear about it. Likewise, I hope to hear your thoughts on all the above, in general—including maybe ways we can help punch it head-on.
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