Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Any Fool Can Catch Fish Guide... Basic Kit
So now that we realize that "to catch fish one has to fish" (our mantra), we have to look at the actual mechanics and needful gear of actually fishing...
Now to fish under sail implies movement, so for the moment we will concentrate on trolling and the basic tools involved. The basics are pretty simple: a bait of some sort, a hook, line, and a means of bringing said line in (hopefully with a fish on the other end).
So here is a basic, bare minimum fishing kit for a sail boat. A couple of hand lines of different lengths (50 foot and 100 foot) made up of 100# test line which is wrapped around some means of keeping the line controlled and tangle free (a 20-ounce coke bottle works fine, but the plastic yo-yos sold at tackle shops for a couple of bucks work even better). Throw on a big swivel/snap at the end and voilá you have a hand line... Not exactly rocket science, is it?
Now you need something to put on the end of the hand line that fish want to eat. There are two ways to go about this... real bait (like ballyhoo, mackerel, or squid) or an artificial lure of some sort. Lures win hands down as they last pretty much forever, don't smell, and are not messy. For a very spartan lure kit for a sailboat that will catch fish, I'd break it up into three basic types... some sort of squid, something that looks like a fish, and another that looks kinda like a cross between a squid and a door knob. For the moment you will be looking for lures that are already rigged, meaning that they have hooks and a leader and all you have to do is simply snap the leader to the end of the hand line and you're fishing! Later we will be talking all about making your own lures, various rigging methods and leaders, but for the moment pre-rigged lures are an easy way to get your feet wet.
The reason you want a squid-type lure is that squid is on the favorite yummy list of just about every fish that YOU want to catch. Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and so on, all love squid. Squid is found pretty much anywhere you sail. It's always an easy choice. Squid-type lures run from rubber exact copies to fanciful creations of plastic and feathers that look kinda squid like. They all work more or less, so you will have to experiment till you find what works best for you. But, for our bare bones sailboat fishing kit we'll start with something that looks just like a real squid...
For the something that looks like a fish... Well, there are so many various types you could die of old age before deciding, so just go to the local tackle store and buy something cheap that looks like a big sardine or an anchovy in the seven to nine inch size range.
Now for the door knob...
Fish like movement and they like bubbles... Lures with concave heads do both and, when combined with a skirt of some sort to mimic that squiddy look, a lot of fish just can't help themselves. For this sort of lure, look for something with big eyes, a concave head and, if it rattles when you shake it, all the better!
Fish also like various colors and reflections but they don't always like the same color, which is why our bare bones kit is built around lures that are as natural as possible. Later when we expand the lure part of the kit, we will add more variety in the color and shape department, but for the moment we will simply concentrate on lures that look like natural bait as much as possible.
OK... So far we have three lures and I'd suggest adding a couple extras. I'd stick with the same basic type but go for a different color while still keeping it in the more or less natural color palette.
One last thing to keep in mind on the lure front... Most lures are designed for a certain speed range and more often than not, saltwater trolling lures are designed to be trolled at speeds that are greater than the average sailboat speeds. So look for lures that are designed to be trolled from 3 to 6 knots.
OK, now we have a lure, line, and a means of coiling up the line. We're pretty much ready to go fishing except we need a means of connecting the line to the boat. For that, we will use a snubber made up of some bungee or, better yet, some surgical rubber tubing. We actually have to make this and we will cover this in depth in the very near future.
The rest of the gear needed is a couple of wooden clothespins, a gaff or net of some sort, cheap gloves, a small squeeze bottle of cheap vodka or rum (you know that bottle you bought on sale way back when that is too evil to drink... yeah that stuff), and a flasher/teaser.
Flashers and teasers are something you drag behind the boat to attract fish and make them think that there is a whole school of fish or some such behind your boat. They go from simple to outrageous, but for now we will just look at the simple. For this you want something like a piece of shiny metal polished to a mirror finish, hopefully with a pebbled finish to better scatter reflections. To use this, you simply make up a third hand line ten feet shorter than your shortest hand line and troll it whenever you are fishing.
More next time on the actual process of fishing...