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Volume xviii, Issue 10 ~ March 11 - March 17, 2010

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The Critical Link

You need the right line to connect with a fish

The 2010 fishing season is just starting. Even if you’re not a fan of the spring perch, crappie, trout and pickerel runs, it is still the right time to begin preparing your gear for the new year. The most important item in your tackle inventory is also the most critical link between you and the fish throughout the coming season: your fishing line.

Today the possible line selections for spinning, casting and trolling have grown to monofilament, copolymer (a thinner type of mono), fluorocarbon and the dyneema and spectra braids (Power Pro, Fireline, Spider Wire, etc.). The latter are sometimes referred to as super lines because of their high line strength and tiny diameters.

Further variations among each of these options include the color: clear, tinted, hi visibility and fluorescent.

Light-Tackle Line

Simple monofilament is still the best option for most light-tackle angling. It’s inexpensive and generally of good quality. Clear or lightly tinted lines are superior color choices.

Except for trolling applications, where it is essential to ensure that multiple lines are not crossed, avoid bright and fluorescent colors. Fish can see them even better than you can.

Select your line strength by reading the information on your rod tube in the front of the grip and choosing a size within the pound test range suggested. If the water you intend to fish is clear, choose a clear monofilament closer to the minimum test. The smaller diameter is less visible in clear water.

If the water is murky, consult the line capacities listed on your reel spool and choose a green-, gray- or blue-tinted line on the heavier side of the range. Keep in mind that you want your reel to hold at least 80 yards of line in freshwater fishing. If you’re angling the Bay, 150 yards is more appropriate.

Unless you’re skilled in spooling lines, have them done at a reputable sport store. Winding line by hand from a bulk spool onto a spinning reel invariably puts a twist in the line. A tackle shop will have a winding machine that puts line directly onto the reel spool without the twist. The shop will also put the correct amount of line on your spool for best casting efficiency and will wind it with uniform tension, another aspect of line spooling that ensures trouble-free use.

Monofilament is not an item to bargain hunt. You want line freshly manufactured and on the premium side. Seeking to save money here will at best save you a couple of pennies a yard and at worst loss of a lot of tackle and perhaps the best fish of the season.

The super lines are also good choices for light-tackle anglers using spin or casting gear who desire to get deep with lighter weight jigs and deep diving lures. Its thin diameters and no-stretch qualities allow lures to get deeper and stay there and still allow the detection of the slightest bite. It is also an advantage to anglers desiring to spool stronger, high-test lines on smaller capacity reels as 20-pound Power Pro is the same diameter as six-pound mono.

Light-tackle lure and live-bait anglers who are targeting fish in areas of extreme fishing pressure, as in the mid-Bay in summer, will benefit from spooling their reels with fluorocarbon line. It is much less visible underwater than any other line because its light refractive qualities are closer to that of water itself. It can be more expensive than mono, but it definitely results in fish in the box.

Trolling Line

Trolling mandates a different set of qualities for fishing line. Bright or fluorescent colors here will make an angler’s life easier as the lines streaming aft are easily seen and can be kept from crossing and tangling.

Monofilament is a good choice in 30- to 50-pound tests. This heavier test line will hold up well to the constant wear and stress imposed by hour upon hour of pulling large baits through the water. It is relatively inexpensive.

The super lines, though, can be a superior choice for trolling because the thinner diameters will cut down resistance, allowing baits to reach greater depths. Super lines also have no stretch, allowing an angler to drag baits far behind the boat and still be able to promptly set the hook. They are much more resistant to UV degradation than monofilaments and last almost three times as long, making their significantly greater cost somewhat more reasonable.

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Overall, today’s fishing lines are one of the least expensive of all your tackle outlays. Replace your line often and buy quality products. You won’t regret splurging on the best.

Fish Are Biting

The yellow perch run is on, finally. Though early spring has been much colder than last year, the temperatures are finally reaching the magic 50-degree mark. Large males have been taken in some tributaries, and the females can’t be far behind. Pickerel are biting in the same areas, and crappie should start schooling and coming on strong as well. The worst of winter is over — and the worst this year was definitely the worst — though we might still get a nasty storm or two.

In Season

The snow goose conservation season remains open until April 17.

Natural Resources Notes

Though suffering severe manpower and budget restrictions and operating with a virtual skeleton crew, Natural Resources Police still managed to arrest eight Rock Hall commercial fishermen over the last 10 days of the season for illegal gill netting and possession of oversized rockfish. Over nine miles of illegally anchored nets (55 total) were confiscated. Two of the men arrested were already under suspension for oyster poaching.

Not to be outdone by their Eastern Shore brethren, two Western Shore watermen were arrested in Chesapeake Beach when NRP officers chanced upon them after the season had closed unloading rockfish from their boat. To add insult to injury, they had over 200 undersized fish, 12 to 17 inches.

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