How to get hooked on fishing

Winter has always been my season to repair and replace fishing equipment, but this year I have been forced into an early start.

I haven’t been snowed in, but the wind and rain have left my boat tied to the dock much too often. Recent experience has also forced me to redo some of my nightcrawler harnesses.

Fishing with a fat crawler behind one of my homemade spinners has been successful, but the knots have failed way too often. I do not know why, unless my less than perfect eyesight is to blame. Maybe the thin monofilament line is just too hard to see.

Then, maybe it’s the knot itself. There is no way I can take you through the steps of knot tying without pictures or sketches. There are many fishing books with step by step instructions, but I suggest you go to www.animatedknots.com. The animation at this site is fantastic and will help you understand today’s column.

Tying knots before monofilament came out was easy. Fishing line was made of cotton or nylon and a simple granny knot would bind a hook to your line. With mono I had to learn a cinch knot. It worked, but often slipped at a very bad time; usually when I had a nice fish on the hook. My solution was to learn to tie an improved cinch knot and like its name says it definitely was an improvement, but it was not perfect.

The improved cinch knots were the ones that failed on my nightcrawler harnesses and that is not acceptable. To make a harness I begin by tying a hook to one end of a 4-foot length of monofilament line. Then I thread on beads or sometimes a float.

Next is a clevis with a spinner blade. On the other end I tie on a barrel swivel so the spinner will not twist my line. Each nightcrawler harness therefore has two knots. Hence two places for failure. I obviously need a better knot, and I have chosen to use a Palomar knot from now on. I’ll even re-tie older harnesses.

If you go to the animated knots website you will see how to tie a Palomar knot, and I highly recommend it. After I switched from an improved cinch knot to a Palomar there have been no more failures.

Since fall is here and fishing season will be drawing to a close it might be next year before I really get an opportunity to test my new nightcrawler harnesses, but I feel confident that the Palomar knot will not slip and release a trophy fish.

Good reading

Over the years I have subscribed to many outdoor magazines and have learned from them all, but my favorite is Wild Ohio Magazine.

Wild Ohio covers subjects close to home in the Buckeye State. The latest issue, for example, has an interesting article on 75 years of hunting Ohio’s white-tailed deer and the year to year summary told me a lot I did not know.

Did you know that in 1904 deer were considered extirpated from Ohio? That means deer were basically gone from our state, but in 1932 the state released 1,000 deer in Scioto County. I guess we can call that the return of our deer hunting seasons.

I was surprised to learn that in 1943 we actually had a deer season in three of our counties. The number of counties involved slowly increased until our first statewide season was held in 1979. The increase in deer hunting opportunities might be credited to the Division of Wildlife’s mandatory harvest registration which began in 1962.

It is not easy for the DOW to manage our deer herd. On one hand there are some hunters who would like to see deer everywhere. On the other hand we have the need to keep the herd population manageable to protect farmers and limit highway accidents. So far all seems to be going well and Ohio has become a top deer hunting state for those who just enjoy the taste of venison as well as those who seek a massive buck for a trophy.

To learn more about the successful reintroduction of white-tailed deer to Ohio and other interesting facts about everything wild in our state you really need a subscription to Wild Ohio Magazine. Even those who never hunt or fish will find the articles and photos fascinating.

You can sign up for the $5 subscription at any store that sells hunting and fishing licenses, or www. wild ohio.gov. I think you will agree with me that this is a great magazine.