OUTDOORS: Line-counter reels can create duplicityWORTHINGTON — Tomorrow is the 2010 Minnesota fishing opener. This is a day that many Minnesotans’ look forward to more than any other.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Tomorrow is the 2010 Minnesota fishing opener. This is a day that many Minnesotans’ look forward to more than any other.
I visited with a friend of mine by the name of Les Bench. He is a member of the Lessard/Sams Outdoor Heritage Council with me. He was all pumped up about the opener as he was going to be one of the many guides that will be participating in the Governor’s Opener on Saturday.
Communities compete fiercely for the opportunity to host this opener event. I looked into it once as the president of the Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club about 15 years ago. The sponsoring organization had to commit over 100 guide boats to host the event and all of the media personnel and other dignitaries that follow along.
It would have been great fun and there was a chance that we could have scrounged up 100 boats, but it was the additional $25,000 that was needed to host all of the social events that pretty much killed the idea.
This leaves the larger tourist communities and the organizations that support the industry in the driver’s seat when it comes to where the governor might go fishing. I have always said that if he came and fished with me in southwest Minnesota, he might actually catch a few fish over the course of a day.
The weather on the opener during the past few years has not been all that good, so he has a pretty good alibi for his catch rates. I hope that the next governor will keep up the tradition of the fishing opener event along with the deer hunting opener, as well.
I have been watching the weather guesses, and earlier in the week it was supposed to be 72 degrees with very calm winds on Saturday. As of Thursday, the weather guessers had reduced Saturday’s high to 68. This is way better than the last few weeks, and we can only hope that they have gotten somewhere close to how the day will shape up.
I am going to spend my morning on Lake Okabena trolling a few crank baits and seeing what develops. The one thing that you just can’t avoid on the opener is a ton of company. It is not hard to sit in my boat in the middle of almost any lake within 60 miles and count over 100 boats on that body of water. Even the smaller lakes can see 75-plus boats throughout the day. This means long lines at the boat ramps and the opportunity for many of those folks to try backing up a boat for the first time.
One of things that I have incorporated in my fishing during the past 15 years is the use of a line-counter reel. This is a reel that counts in feet the line as I let out my bait. You might wonder why this is important, but the fact of the matter is that without this type of equipment, you are severely handicapped.
The key to success in trolling crank baits is duplicity.
When I start out, I will attach a five-pound, deep diving shade rap to 10-pound test monofilament line and let it out 120 feet. This is my starting point. After 20 minutes or so, I will change that distance to a little longer or shorter. Each of these distance changes will change the depth and action of the lure, and be recorded on the number counter on the reel. Once I catch a fish, I can then return my bait to that exact length, depth and action for the most repeatable outcome.
It is amazing how the same baits trolled at the same speed but at different distances will vary in success. Once I have tried a variety of distances and speeds, I will change lure color or lure shape. It is the angler that is willing to make many different presentation changes that will ultimately find what the fish want on that particular day. It changes day to day and only the anglers willing to experiment will track these changes with success.
There is one thing that you will want to take in account if you are considering the purchase of a line-counter reel. This is the biggest decision factor for me. That factor is, what is everybody else using for a line-counter reel?
Different reels count in yards instead of feet; 125 feet on one reel should be 125 feet on any other line counter reel, but that is not the case. I have seen substantial differences when you take that test in the back yard. You will find that not all reel counters are created equal.
The other factor to success is how full the line spool is. Line counters actually count spool revolutions, not the actual line distance. If your spool is really full, then one rotation is a greater length of line than one spool rotation if the spool is half empty. Use a cheap package of 20-pound test to fill the spool three-quarters full. Then add 200 yards of your favorite 10-pound test until the reel is completely full.
If you use 10-pound line and your buddies use 12-pound line, then the results are very different and your ability to duplicate their results will not happen.
The most common line counter reel in my heyday of fishing was a Diawa LG27. We all had/have the same reels loaded with the same line and we could repeat exactly what another fisher person had done to be successful.
This allows you to call a fishing buddy and get a report that will sound something like this: “It was a perch five-pound deep diver at 135 feet at 2.6 mph. I caught five between 15-18 inches.”
This is a fishing report that you can really use.
I have always said that if the fish are trying to commit suicide (really biting aggressively) then little differences don’t really matter.
On the other hand, if the bite is neutral to negative, then these little differences can alter the result from “I got skunked”to “I caught three keepers.”
Line counters that match up with your fishing partner’s equipment that are all loaded with the same line will go a long way to helping everyone catch more fish.
Remember to wear a life vest and if you won’t do that, at least keep it really close. Make this opener a safe one and while you are at it, sign up for the Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club Fishing tournament. This can be done at the Bob and Steve’s Shell and is a one-day tournament.
The prizes are spread over 20 places and the 20th-place prize is bigger than the five before it. You do not need to place high to get a good prize. The cost is $10 and the first 50 get a free car wash from Bob and Steve’s.
See you on the water Saturday, good luck.