Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Knots, not Nots

I went to a fishing seminar this evening with a couple of friends. Even though I don't eat fish, I love the activity of going out on a boat, dropping out lines and waiting for the fish to bite. There's a skill to fighting, reeling in and landing your catch. I enjoy the whole experience -- every salty, smelly, gooshy, sometimes bloody bit of it.

Both of my parents loved to fish and started taking us out when we were really young. I'm proud to say that I've never been a squeamish girly girl when it comes to the sport. I cut bait, put bait on the hook, haul in my own catch and remove the fish from the hook. If we're using chum, I have no qualms about sticking my hands in the stuff.

When Dad was alive, he taught me how to tie line onto hooks. Actually, the night before a fishing trip, he and I would tie leader onto lots of hooks so that we'd have a supply ready for the following day. After he passed away and Mom graduated to captain, I continued using the skill.

Unfortunately, I haven't had much opportunity to use it since Mom's death back in 1998. Now I have my own boat and one of my strong goals is to captain it out on fishing trips. I'm doing pretty good on my boat handling skills, and now it's time to brush up on the fishing things.

I don't want others doing things for me. I'm embracing a "Will Do" attitude and am determined to master the skills. It's one thing to know how to throw a line overboard or reel in a yellowtail snapper or big grouper. There's other stuff involved -- like what pound of test line and size hooks are used for what type of fishing. How do you look for and find good fishing spots? Once you get there, if you know that you want the bow of your boat at spot X, and you're in X number of feet of water, how far up tide from spot X should you go to throw in the anchor?

Tonight's seminar focused on knot tying. The young guys teaching were very nice and both have been fishing and taking out charters for most of their lives. To some people, knot tying might seem boringly basic. Tonight for me provided several useful tips.

Tip 1: Instead of resting the but of the rod on the deck when you're ready to tie on a hook or extra line, put it in a rod holder. The holder will act like an extra pair of hands and keep the rod steady. *insert mental head slap* That makes such good sense, I don't know why I never did it that way!

Tip 2: Yellowtail snappers have good eyesight and can be skittish around colored fishing line. So, if your rod and reel have yellow or green line, attach about 20-30 feet of clear line to the end.

Tip 3: To make the most of Tip 2, the guy showed us how to tie clear, lower pound test line onto the main line of a rod using a "no name" knot.

Years ago, my father showed me one particular knot for fastening line to hook. I asked one of the guys if I could show him the knot so he could tell me when it should be used. It's been 12 years since I tied this knot, but I guess muscle memory doesn't forget. Not only did I get it right the first time, but the guy immediately recognized it as the uni knot!

Tip 4: Use the fisherman's knot (easy) or the uni knot (a little harder to tie but the strongest knot) for most hooks. If you're using a circle hook that needs to move more, use a loop knot.

The same guy answered my questions about anchoring. After he said that in 50 feet of water, I should use about 100 feet of line, I think he was surprised when I said, "So a 2-1 scope will do."

My friends and I practiced each knot a few times to make sure we had the techniques down solid. One of the instructors walked by our table. He looked at us, sucked in a breath, winked and said, "Ladies tying their own knots to go fishing. That's hot." I have at least 20 years on him, but I laughed and replied, "Even hotter -- I have my own boat."

Not to belabor the point of knots, I'll tie up this post with a simple conclusion. When we really want to learn something, the knowledge is out there, ready to be acquired. The failure is in not trying, not Knot Tying.

1 comment:

Hope said...

I don't eat fish, either but I have lots of happy memories of going fishing with my dad. :)