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Scott Rall: Tips and myths and fishing opinions

Scott RallDaily Globe outdoors columnist I made it out on the water over the weekend and this was my first time in Minnesota this season. The aerator in the boat did not work, and I often wonder how it can work when I put it away and several mont...

Scott Rall
Daily Globe outdoors columnist 

I made it out on the water over the weekend and this was my first time in Minnesota this season. The aerator in the boat did not work, and I often wonder how it can work when I put it away and several months later it just dies without cause. So goes the life of a boat owner.
Anytime you do something that you have not done for a while it takes just a little time to get back in the groove. I fished with my brother McChyne from Brandon, S.D. We were talking fishing in general and I thought I would share a few fishing myths that I dispelled in the boat that day.
The first is that you need a boat to catch fish. Nothing could be further from the truth. My neighbor told me Sunday that he had caught more fish this year than in almost any other recent year. He has three boats and has caught almost all of those fish from shore.
Find a spot with a little current and you can catch fish. With all the rain we have had this year, shore fishing in and near current areas can net lots of fish.
There are times when a boat is a great help but it is not mandatory to have one to enjoy fishing and catch fish. Shore fishing does in many cases have a narrower window of opportunity. Early mornings and later evenings are the best shore fishing times whereas a boat trolling can catch fish in the middle of the day.
Another myth is that you have to change your fishing line every year.
The company that came up with this recommendation has made tons of money ever since. The key to maintenance of your fishing line is to avoid leaving your fishing reels in the sun or in a shed that is 120 degrees almost all summer. I keep my stuff in my garage and I change out my line about every three years or when the spool gets empty from break-offs and abrasions. The same person who thinks you should toss out your aspirin bottle when it hits the expiration date must play golf with the guys who make fishing line.
Sunday I was fishing with a friend who wanted to go get some live bait. We decided to troll artificial baits instead and had very good luck.
The third myth is that you need live bait to catch fish. This is no longer true. Sure, there are times when nothing works better than live bait, but in many cases you can use some of these soft plastic lures that imitate live bait and do as well or better.
You can buy these artificial baits at the outlet store in Spirit Lake for far less than the cost of first-run packages, and I try to avoid the mess and use artificial bait in every case where it can work. Other times a pound of jumbo leeches is still just the ticket.
My very favorite fishing myth is that you have to travel long distances to have good fishing. This is just not true. You have a better chance of catching an 8-pound walleye within 60 miles of Worthington than you do in almost the entire state.
I know anglers who catch many walleyes over this weight every year. You have to go the right lakes at the right times of the year but our shallow prairie lakes have the fastest growth rate of anywhere in the state.
Just look at Lake Sarah. This is the best big fish lake in the state. Sure, there are lakes where you can catch more numbers. I have fished Upper Red Lake for the past 13 years only because it is a trip I take with my son Brandon and it is nice to get away.
In all of those years the largest walleye we have have ever caught was 23 inches. These fish are common in southwest Minnesota.
There are lakes with better opportunities for larger numbers of fish per day, but when it comes to quality fish we are the sweet spot of walleye fishing in Minnesota.
I have a few little fishing tips when you encounter some of the most common fishing problems.
Twisted line is one of the greatest frustrations you can have while fishing. Twisted line casts badly and, whether casting or trolling, a twisted line will always try to wrap up around the very tip of the rod.
Line twist can come from many causes. First is, that line was put on the reel incorrectly.
I could fill an entire column on how to correctly put line on a reel but for now lets just assume your line is twisted. In a boat the very best way to fix this problem is to remove the lure and all hardware and then let out about 50 yards of the line from the reel and troll the line. The resistance of the line in the water will cause the line to untwist. After a few hundred yards of trolling 50 yards of line then let it out to 100 yards and after a short time run it out to 150 yards. It only takes about five minutes of this effort, and when you wind in the line there will not be a twist left in it.
If you are a shore fishermen you can achieve the same results in the wet grass. Find a big spot of mowed grass and release the reel and start walking with the end of the line. Walk out about 50 yards and then drop the line and walk back to the reel. Hold the rod tip near the ground and then reel in the line. The resistance of the line in the grass will untwist it. You might have to do this about four times, each time going a greater distance because the grass does not work as well as the water.
When you do this in the boat the thing you will notice is that even without a lure on the end of your line the rod will still bend over as if it were there. This shows you that most of the bend in the rod is caused by the resistance of the line and not the resistance of the lure.
My second tip is to help you avoid line twist in the first place. Never reel a spinning reel against the drag. If you are turning the handle and no line is being gained you add many twists to the line every time you crank the handle one rotation.
If you get snagged or have a really big fish, do not reel against the drag. This will eliminate almost all of the line twist most anglers have with line on a spinning reel. Cranking against the drag on a bait-casting reel does not create the same issues. They function differently.
My last tip will help you catch more fish and spend less money on fishing line.
When you are fishing with a rig that uses a bobber or leader, use two different weights of line. For example, when slip bobber fishing use an 8-pound test main line and a 6-pound test fluorocarbon leader. If the rig gets snagged, the six pound line will break and you are out a single hook but retain the bobber, swivel and slip bobber knot. Same with a live bait rig or spinner. Loosening the end of the rig and not the whole rig saves time and money.
Fluorocarbon line is almost invisible to fish and will get you more bites. I carry a small spool for just that reason and only that reason. It is usually too expensive to fill the entire reel with it, but it works great for leaders.

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The Worthington Trojans earned their highest ever place at a Minnesota Class A True Team meet with a score of 174.525. Big Lake won the meet with a score of 176.2.
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