The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 28, 2013

Let's try to make fishing less of a drag

The Commercial-News

---- — There is a drag on your fishing reel; do you know how to use it? I’ve seen many anglers lose their fish because they didn’t have their drag set properly. The drag is used to fight the fish and, when used properly allows you to put a good fish in the boat and keeps you from breaking your line or breaking you knot.

Most anglers today use some type of monofilament line on their reels. The heavier the line you use, the fewer the strikes is a general rule of thumb. These monofilament lines get bruised, nicked and frayed over a period of time; this is why I recommend changing your line periodically throughout the fishing season. Even the sun and heat can damage your line.

Playing a good fish involves using the drag on your reel properly. Many anglers never check their drag and, if set too tight, can easily break off a fish even on the hook set. Many of those “man I laid into a big one yesterday” are only small fish that have broken a bad line or a bad knot. Some of those little bass that I call bait stealers can take a plastic worm under a tree root in a heartbeat making an angler think he or she broke off a big one.

You can land a big fish on a six or eight pound test line if your drag is set properly. Make sure when you adjust your drag that you can pull line freely from your reel. When I head into heavy cover I will adjust my drag so that the line will barely pull free but, once I get the fish out of cover, I loosen the drag and play the fish out in open water.

I use bait casting reels to fish for bass and closed faced reels to fish for crappie and bluegill. I can thumb a bait caster if I want to really put a charge into my hook set. It is important to wear your fish down; play it out so to speak before you net it or slip it in the boat by its jaw.

Find the drag on your reel and learn how to use it properly around the areas where you fish. Consider reducing the pound test of your fishing line and increasing the use of your drag along with checking your line and knot several times during your fishing trip.

August is one of my favorite months for bass fishing. Even though it is normally hot in August, the winds are quite often present making fishing the strip mines and small ponds bearable. Get out and enjoy what is normally the hottest month of the year. I’ve caught some good fish in the month of August.

The official opening of the Illinois hunting season begins Friday with the opening of the squirrel season and with that one has to begin thinking of the upcoming deer season. Most trees stop growing by August so it is a great time to begin clearing your shooing lanes around your deer stand and doing whatever repairs are necessary to your stand so that you have a safe way to get up and down from your stand. Since things change over the course of a year several safety checks are in order for the new hunting season.

Clear shooting lanes at approximately 30 feet out to help you avoid taking a shot that is not within your kill zone. By clearing them at this distance it allows you to avoid taking shots you don’t want to take. You will be surprised at how many arrows get deflected by the smallest of branches and even with these bows 25 yards is still a preferred shot by most hunters I talk with. Make safety your top priority this hunting season and don’t become a statistic. Once again, let the little ones walk away!

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: