Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 10, 2012

When is light right?

By John Martino
Outdoors columnist


“I broke off four times,” a good friend explained, after recalling a recent bass fishing trip. “I had new line on, too.”

What he later mentioned was he was using 4-pound test.

On the other hand, if you want to see a one-sided fight, just watch a professional bass angler. With a heavy rod more akin to a pool cue and rope-strong line, he can skip a 2-pound bass across the water and into the boat in seconds. This scene is common throughout bass tournaments.

Over the past several years, many recreational bass fishermen are turning to more “sporting” tackle. Not only to put more challenge back into the fight, but also to catch more fish. To be the best fisherman you can be, you have to learn what tools are right for the job in certain conditions.

Although using light tackle when fishing for bass can be fun and extremely productive, the first consideration should be the fish. There is nothing sporting about using light tackle in heavy cover where a good fish is likely to snap the line and escape with hooks embedded in its lips and trailing fishing string.

But when is light right? It’s appropriate in open water where there are few obstructions. It’s good in gin-clear water where fine lines and long casts are a big help in catching spooky fish. It’s also great in heavily pressured waters where fish have seen it all and it’s necessary to use smaller lures and more delicate presentations.

For bass, “light” usually means lines in the 6- to 10-pound category. Line that breaks at less than 6 pounds is referred to as “ultra-light.”

When using lighter lines, I prefer spinning gear over bait-casting equipment. Casting rods usually have stiffer tips making them harder to use with thinner line and tiny lures. And, the higher energy used when making casts puts a lot of strain on finer diameter lines, especially if you are prone to backlashes. You can sometimes get by with this type of equipment provided you have a limber-tipped rod and a smooth operating reel.

Light lines are especially susceptible to abrasion, so it’s critical to regularly check for nicks and rough spots. Contact with rocks, docks, pilings and almost any other obstruction warrant a careful inspection. You also must tie perfect knots that maintain the most strength.

Although many heavy tackle users don’t worry too much about their drag, with light tackle it’s critical. Those powerful, sweeping hooksets common to bass fishermen aren’t right for lighter gear. The trick here is to make a quick reel up and set motion and then maintain constant pressure.

We have all seen saltwater anglers land fish much larger than the rating of their line. But have you noticed they do not engage in a strong-armed tug of war? They fight the fish instead of winching it in.

So to become even more proficient in your angling skills, learn when and where to use light line. Not only will you catch more fish but you’ll have more fun doing it.

Program Promotes Outdoor Play

Like free speech and due process, a child’s right to play outdoors is a pillar of American society that makes our city, state and country stronger.

Children who play outdoors are healthier, do better in school and grow up having better social skills. They also develop a stronger self image and lead more fulfilled lives. Furthermore, the future of conservation and stewardship of our natural resources depends on engaging children.

For these reasons, the Department of Natural Resources has put this previously unwritten liberty into writing. Working with the Association of State Park Directors, the DNR has drafted an Indiana Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights to help encourage kids to participate in outdoor activities.

The Bill of Rights is a list of 11 activities to help get kids outside. Some of these include climb a tree, visit a farm, plant a seed or tree then watch it grow and play in streams, lakes and ponds.

A complete checklist can be found at childrenplay

outdoors.dnr.IN.gov. Upon completion of all 11 activities, children can download a Hoosier Outdoor Child certificate from the website.

“Not all children live in a place where they can play in wide open spaces, but every child should have the chance to play outdoors,” said Dan Bortner, director of Indian State Parks and Reservoirs. “Our children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights reminds us that, as adults, we need to help our children and other Hoosiers get outside.”

Tournament Results

Wayne Nolder and Bob Rose came out on top at last Tuesday’s Delphi-Delco team bass tourney staged on Mississinewa Reservoir, with four fish totaling 7 pounds, 8 ounces. A 2-pound, 1-ounce largemouth also gave them the weekly event’s “big bass” award. Larrell Norris and Dave Robertson finished second with three fish topping out at 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Third place went to Mike Nolder with two fish weighing 3 pounds, 4 ounces.

Tribune Catches

of the Week

Bryant’s Outdoor Store: Jesse Camden hauled in six channel and blue catfish with his largest tipping the scales at 9 pounds, 14 ounces. Camden hooked his catch from Mississinewa Reservoir on cut bait.

Dave’s Bait Barn: Bill Ferguson caught and released his limit of five largemouth bass while plying the waters of the Kokomo Reservoir. Taken on a crankbait, his largest fish measured 16 inches

Peoria Bait and Tackle: Joe Amack landed a hybrid striped bass (wiper) from the Mississinewa River, weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces. The fish was taken on a nightcrawler. Kim Shuck also caught a hybrid striped bass dropping the scales at 4 pounds, 6 ounces. Nightcrawlers seemed to be the bait of choice.

Springhill Camp Ground and Pay Pit: Mike Strain had a memorable day as he pulled in 35 channel catfish sporting a combined weight of 59 pounds. Strain hooked his fish from the western Howard County pit on a variety of bait. Ray and Larry Williams also brought in five channel catfish, weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces.

U.S 31 Bait and Tackle: Karen Welsh caught and released a largemouth bass tipping the scales at just over 2 pounds. Welsh caught her fish from Nyona Lake on a topwater lure.

• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.