Winter Fishing

by Ben Samann, General Manager

As many of you know, I kinda like fishing. Kinda. In the spring, I go fly fishing for sunfish. In the summer, I cruise the lake for bass. In the fall, it’s muskie. A few times a year, I head to Bermuda to catch pathetically small fish off the dock. All told, I probably put in a few hundred hours a year fishing.

But now, it’s happened. Fishing is over, for a few months at least. I just got back from Bermuda, and the lake is frozen. Ice fishing holds little charm for me, so it’s time to hang my hat, and my fishing rods.

What do I do all winter? Aside from work, playing with Toby and Daisy, and getting to play with my aquariums? I keep myself excited by keeping my fishing gear in top shape. Come spring, I can grab it and go.

Here are the things I do annually, and if you like fishing, you should too:

Tackle box:

  • Empty and clean your tackle box – take out everything in there, and rinse the box. Make sure to let it air dry. Depending on the style of box, you may need a soft toothbrush to get into the corners.
  • Now that all your stuff is out of the tackle box, sort through it. Empty spools of line? Bits of plastic? Lures that were stuck in the same tire you caught? Throw out stuff you don’t need, wash the rest. Let it all air dry, then sort it back into the box.

Reel care:

  • Take a close look at each reel, give it a few spins and really get a feel for how it’s working.
  • Lube ’em up – go to a quiet room, and really listen and feel it. The mechanism should be smooth and quiet. If it’s not, pick up some reel oil (I use the pen type, which lets you carefully put single drops where you need them). Sometimes it’s internal, sometimes it’s in the top, or bottom, or wherever.
  • Rinse them off – use warm water, and maybe a drop of soap, to rinse off any grime.
  • Check your line – After a season out in the sun, the first 100′ of line are probably worse for wear. Strip that off, cut the line, then use a nail knot or similar to put new line on. (Tip: you will rarely need more than 100′ of line, and usually a lot less than that. You can spool a cheap “backing” line onto your reel for the bulk of it, and top it off with a premium line.)
  • Rods, nets, pliers, and other tools:
  • These mostly need a rinse and an inspection. Pliers may need a drop of oil if they’re a bit rusty

Lures:

The most important thing: sort. Everyone has way more lures than they use, so really look at the lures you used this year, and toss the rest in a drawer.

  • I do a lot of different types of fishing, so I end up with a few tackle boxes. Why keep my carp rigs in my bass tackle box if I don’t even have my rods with me?
  • Check the hooks – A good sharp hook is the key to a lot of fishing. I buy hooks in bulk, and keep a close eye on rust, bent hooks, or even lures that came with cheap hooks. Saltwater destroys hooks and split rings, so I tend to replace these at least once a year, depending on use.
  • Pick up a small diamond hook sharpener and give a quick once over to every hook. I use a fly tying vise to secure the hooks, but you don’t need one. I test my hooks on my thumb nail – a sharp hook should scratch your nail with almost no pressure.

Important note: be careful when throwing out hooks. I use empty plastic bottles to keep them from puncturing the bag or getting jammed in someone’s finger. 

Other stuff: 

There are lots of other things I do to keep myself excited. I research new techniques I want to try, consult lake charts to find contours I might not know about, and keep an eye out for sales on common supplies (those people who have come out with me know all about my obsession with whacky rigs – I usually find the bait for 30% off in the winter).

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and enjoy forgetting – you don’t need every lure in the books. You need the stuff you enjoy using. There are always countless lures to be found that look good, and my wall of lures attests to how few I use – the ones on the wall don’t usually end up in a tackle box. But… look! that lure looks really good!

That’s about it.

 

You can follow Ben’s exploits on Instagram @BenSamann.


The Only Honest Fishing Story You’ll Ever Read… Sort Of

by Alyssa Joynt

One of the best parts of working at Viamede is that I am forced to spend my entire summer on the lake.  What a shame, right?  One of the worst parts of working at Viamede is that our GM Ben can turn to me and tell me to meet him on the dock at 6 o’clock in the morning because we are going fishing.  I am not an avid fisherwoman, but I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to “work” for my first real fishing expedition since I was a kid.

The last time I went fishing was when I was maybe ten years old, so it’s been a while.  Cutting through the morning mist hanging on the lake, Ben arrived in his boat to pick up myself and the mother and son joining us.  None of us were very experienced, so as soon as we were out on the lake Ben gave us all a quick version of Fishing 101.  He showed us how to hold the rod properly, familiarized us with some basic fishing terminology, and showed us how to cast.  He taught us that you always have to keep a firm grip on your rod with one hand, and showed us how to hold the line with one finger while opening the bail so that you can tip your rod back and cast.  I was probably the last person to get the hang of it – I just kept dropping an excessive amount of line right in front of the boat, which created quite the mess.  I ended up with clumps of tangled fishing line that Ben had to come and fix, but eventually I figured it out too.

 

I wasn’t the only one who needed help, though.  The little guy with us needed reminders on how to hold his rod properly with one hand, and we all needed to be told from time to time that we just needed to let our lures sink instead of drawing them in constantly.

It took all of us a while to catch any fish, although everyone caught a fair amount of salad, or vegetarian fish as I like to call it.  Finally, just as Ben was getting nervous that we were beginning to doubt the existence of fish, we started feeling some bites.  Ben, of course, caught the first fish, and despite it being rather small he was quite happy to show it off.

 

 

After that, the fish started to come out of hiding.  We caught largemouth bass and rock bass, and Ben taught us the difference between the two.  Rock bass have spiny fins and red eyes, so they’re easy to distinguish if you know what you are looking for.  As a fully trained fish identifier, I can now tell you with a very small percentage of certainty that this is a picture of a rock bass…

 

 

…and that this is a picture of a largemouth bass.

 

Check out the red eyes on this bad boy!

 

While Ben was having all the luck in the world (partially because he kept casting right where my rod was and stealing my fish), the boy with us still hadn’t caught anything.  We moved to a spot where there was a big rock that had a hole in the middle, and he caught the biggest fish of the outing.

 

 

All in all, it was a pretty cool experience.  While I’m still not convinced that Ben can go out and catch 15-16 inch bass on a regular basis, I will admit that fishing is pretty fun.  Between the mist on the lake, the music of the loons, and the excitement of actually catching a fish, it’s worth getting up early.  I’ll have to go out again so that Ben can prove the existence of big fish, and I’ll keep you posted.  Someone has to keep the fishing stories straight, right?