It’s fishing season. To get a smile on your face like this you need to grab your fishing gear and hit the water. I have a few tips for you on how to catch more fish in this week’s column.

Oh, man…the fishing bug is biting! Open water and warmer temperatures make me want to get a line in the water. I’m sure other people are feeling the same way. From deep within void between my ears, here are a few handy tips that may help your fishing or simply make your time outdoors more enjoyable.

· Fishing with a bobber is one of the most basic ways to practice the sport. You can increase your odds of catching fish by using a pencil bobber rather than a round one. A round bobber will ride higher in the water and tend to be more buoyant. These characteristics cause much more resistance when a fish tries to pull it under. Many times a fish will notice this resistance and drop the bait. A streamlined pencil bobber offers much less hindrance to a fish, so it is more likely to continue taking the bait.

· The primary reason anglers fail to catch bass when fishing top water lures, is a straight-line, steady retrieve. Try varying your speed of retrieve or make a few random erratic jerks and twitches while cranking your lure back in to you. It is also a productive technique to let the lure lie still for a few seconds after one of these moves. The quick movements followed by a “rest” mimic the actions of an injured baitfish and can trigger a bass to strike.

· Fish can “hear” or feel the vibrations caused by an angler moving through the water from long distances, especially if the stream bottom is a rocky one. All the little “click and cracks” you hear are magnified and radiated out from you in all directions. To minimize the chance of spooking fish, move only in short steps. Carefully place you foot down just as if you were still-hunting a deer. If you do make some “loud” noises, stand still for a while. Fish seem to forget what bothered them in a couple of minutes and then you can continue to fish.

· Fish have a highly developed sense of smell. Some species, like sharks, are well known for their ability to “smell” blood in the water from great distances. All fish can pick up scents from the water. Catfish can detect food scents down into the parts per million range. I believe that bass and pike are other species that depend on their sense of smell to verify food. I have watched many bass and pick follow a lure for long distances without biting. I feel that they are “scenting” the bait to determine whether it is really something to eat. Anglers can improve their odds of catching fish by eliminated unnatural scents, like gas or oil. Carry a bottle of unscented dish washing liquid in your tackle box. If you do get a foreign odor on your hands, you’ll have a handy method to remove it before you pass it on to your favorite lure.

· Some species of fish, like northern pike, have a reputation of being a “strong” tasting fish. I believe most of the “fishy” taste is in the skin. Careful cleaning and preparation of your catch will get rid of most of this trait. If your palate still senses a rather strong flavor, try soaking your filets in something like 7UP or Sprite for a few hours before cooking. The lemon-lime flavors really mellow the taste.

· Mosquitoes and other biting bugs can be a nuisance when fishing. There is probably a great insect repellent right in your bathroom closet or cabinet, Vicks VapoRub. The camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil gives off the equivalent of noxious fumes to most insects. You don’t need a lot of Vicks to do the job either and its much less expensive than commercial insect repellent formulas.

Night Crawler Caller

Here’ is another little trick that can provide you with a lot of bait for fishing this spring and summer. I call it my “Night Crawler Caller” recipe. It’s simple, it’s inexpensive and it works.

Find a five gallon bucket with a lid that seals tight. Take two large white onions and chop them into little pieces. Place the onion bits into the bucket.

Fill the bucket with warm water from the tap (about ¾ full). Place your lid on top and seal the bucket. Let this mixture stand overnight.

The next morning when you are getting ready to go fishing, select a likely spot for night crawlers to be in your yard and pour the onion/water solution out on the ground. Let this solution soak into the ground, and in a few minutes the night crawlers in that area will come to the surface and you can pick them up for your next fishing trip. You can also use this little tip to get worms to transplant into your garden to help work the soil.

Good luck and good fishing.

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