I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

• When Bass Go Under The Boat

So you hook yourself a feisty bass that can range from 3lbs to a monster of a fish. Now you have to land it. As you bring the bass closer to the boat, you can feel it pull and suddenly you get the sense that you are in for more of a fight than you bargained for. You are able to pull the bass close to the boat, but it has other plans and darts underneath you pulling your rod tip with it. A million thoughts fly through your head at this particular moment, most of which involve the dreaded break-off and a few choice words I cannot repeat here. You'd like to learn how to avoid losing this fish if possible. Let's change that moment of panic into a wide grin of excitement.

Preventative maintenance will save you a lot of grief and protect against break-offs in situations where a bass decides to run under the boat and escape. There are a few basic weak points to cover before we even begin to discuss manhandling this angry bass. The first is to make sure you've tied a solid knot. The best way to learn is to practice. Learn to tie a good knot. The second thing to do is to check your line for any damage and retie. I have learned to feel nicks in my line by running the last 20 feet or so between my fingers. You should also visually inspect the line and the line guides for damage. The third thing to check is your drag. When the drag is set too tight, your line could snap. A little give can be a good thing. Learn how to set the drag on your reel. These three things are easy weak spots to fix and worth doing if you want to brag about your catch instead of telling the story about the one that got away. The rod is another possible break point, but even the best rods out there break on occasion. For all intensive purposes, the main weak spots have now been discussed.

I'm going to assume you are using a baitcaster, not a spinning reel. Sorry spinning reel fans, I don't use them.

So back to the story. You need to be ready for this situation. Have the net nearby or if someone is with you, have them stand ready with the net. You might need it. As you feel the bass start to pull under the boat, lower the rod to go with it. Position one hand so that you can hit the thumb release on your reel and then immediately apply pressure on the spool with your thumb. This way, you control the amount of line coming off while fighting the fish at the same time. Don't be afraid to let your rod tip dip into the water. In fact, I encourage this practice. It is much easier to guide the bass along the side of the boat with your rod tip in the water. You are attempting to maneuver the fish from swimming perpendicular to the boat and out the other side to moving parallel to the boat. If that bass is still pulling, you might keep letting line off with your thumb. You want to be a little generous and give the bass what it wants, but still keep the tension on and control the situation with your rod. Slack line is your other enemy. When a bass swims under the boat, the hook can change direction in its mouth and the bass can come loose. Feel which way the bass wants to go and lead it in that direction. I usually do all of this one handed. When I know which way the bass is going, I simply guide it in that direction and make a circle bringing it right back to me and hopefully to my outstretched hand or into the net.

Should the bass make it to the other side of the boat, keep your thumb on your spool and swing the rod through the water around the front or back of the boat around either motor. Be ready to take up the slack once you are on the other side. Don't step on the trolling motor controls in the process. It's very easy to bump the switch and accidentally cut your line with the spinning trolling motor prop. Also be aware of your surroundings. Tree limbs, co-anglers, children, and boat seats could all be in the way.

This can all happen in a matter of seconds or it can take a few minutes to wear that bass down. At least now you are ready for it. Can you share any of your own tricks?