Posted by: socalsalty | January 9, 2013

A Couple Things I Learned Last Year

Every year I dread the closure.  I end up going on some good trips anyway, but it’s a big mental adjustment.  One of the good things though about this time of year is it gives me time to reflect.  Here are a couple things I figured out that helped me become a better angler…

The John Collins Knot

One of the things I learned was to quickly and reliably tie a braid to mono/fluoro knot.  My friend John Anjard taught it to me.  It’s a knot that was popularized on the long range boat, the Royal Polaris.  I like it because it’s fast to tie, strong, and has a low profile (get’s thru the guides smoothly).

I have braid (spectra) spooled on a majority of my reels.  I tie on the appropriate mono or fluoro leader for whatever task I am doing. One advantage of this approach is you can pack a lot of line onto a smaller reel (braid has a smaller diameter than the same pound test in mono or fluoro).  Fishing a smaller reel is more comfortable.  When you’re more comfortable, you can focus on the task at hand and maximize your time on the water.  Another benefit of spooling up in this way is it allows you to be flexible.  The ‘right’ way to fish is what is right for the conditions on the water at that time.  Adaptability to changing conditions is key.  Knowing this knot really helped me be more adaptable this year on the water.

I was able to find this video of John Collins demonstrating the knot at the Fred Hall Show

The Halibut Bite

After my big sheephead win, I wish I could say I learned something about that fish.  I didn’t (sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good).  One thing I did learn this year though was being able to recognize a halibut bite.

My first legal...arms fully extended ;-)

1st legal…arms fully extended 😉

In 2011, I was able to get a just legal halibut to cross it off the Top 10 by the end of the year.  For 2012 I caught 7.  The thing about the halibut bite is it can be very subtle.  Whereas a lot of fish we target will inhale a bait…halibut sometimes like to just kind of gum it, maybe carry it around a little, spit it, come back…in short, they play with their food.  What I have learned is that when this play is going on, you need to encourage it and you can’t rush it.  I’ve seen some people leave the spool out of gear and use their thumb to control the line.  I’ve seen other people keep the drag very low and feed the line as this play is going on.  However you decide to handle it, you need to keep the lightest of contact with the bait.  When the fish finally commits, let them run a little and then set.

I caught my personal best (31 lbs.) on Memorial Day, but that fish jumped on the bait.  The one where I really felt like I demonstrated what I learned about this fish was the July trip to Santa Rosa on the Pacific Islander.  You can read all about it on the original post, but let’s just say that was a very playful fish.  I would NOT have caught that fish in 2011.

The playful halibut

The playful halibut

Hopefully, these two things I learned can help your fishing this year.  Tight lines!

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