“The common theory is you only need stout tackle to land big fish – muscle against muscle,” said Capps. “The truth is you need stretch – give in the rod, give in the line, and drag from the reel, all of these act together to allow you to tire a fish and bring it to the boat.”
To illustrate Capps’ point, here’s an example, a fish story if you will, of how light tackle was used to land an oversized fish, by design. I was the angler.
During an interview for a striped bass fishing story, a local fishing guide described that big fish were being caught using small baits. Instead of 5 – 6 long swim baits and live herring, big striped bass were feeding on young-of-the-year threadfin shad – tiny baitfish 1 ½ to 2 inches long. To catch the big elephants, you had to use peanuts for bait.
The guide, knowing my propensity for kayak fishing, suggested I give them a try from the pedal boat and suggested I bring along some crappie sized baits to tempt them. My plan was to long line troll 1/8 oz jigs tipped with 2 inch minnows. This is easy enough to do from a kayak using only four rods, two per side. I chose two Buck’s Graphite Jig Poles in 12 foot lengths and two more 9 footers to stagger the baits for trolling.
Marking bait and fish on the graph (yes, I have a sonar unit on my kayak), I began my troll, hoping the baits would swim through the feeding fish. Ordinarily, 3 – 5 pound hybrid striped bass, a striped bass/white bass cross, would not let tempting baits last long. However, the frigid 46 degree water had slowed the bite down. On the third pull, one of the 9 feet rods quickly bent double as the 8 pound monofilament line melted from the spool.
With new un-damaged line and good knots, 8 pound test is sufficiently strong. The key to not breaking a good fish off is to not let any aspect of the fight come in contact with an immovable object or at least an object with significant force to exceed the line’s breaking strength.
Two minutes into the fight, the big fish had emptied 105 yards of a 110 yard spool. That amount of line out gives a fish a lot of room to maneuver around a stump, dock, or tree. Fortunately it also allows a lot of line stretch. In my hand, the 9 foot length of graphite also did it’s job, acting as an accessory drag for the spinning reel, bending over double without breaking.
Of note to anglers familiar with kayaking is that even the boat acts as part of the drag system. Pedaling toward the fleeing fish, I managed to gain line and keep the fish out of nearby boat docks. Closing the distance, I also transferred the give from line stretch back to the rod, reel, and boat.
Another benefit of cold water is it saps a fish’s strength quicker than warmer water. Fifteen minutes of give and take and the 28 pound striped bass was brought to the bought, measured, photographed, and released.
While we don’t recommend that anglers use our rods solely to catch oversized fish, isn’t it nice to know that when that big striper, catfish, bass or other monster of the deep grabs the bait you intended for crappie, you at least have the right equipment to get it to the boat so you can brag about what a monster you caught on light line with a crappie pole? You can, so long as it’s a B’n’M.
At B’n’M we’re all about fishing. Crappie fishing, cayfishing, bass fishing or whatever your week-end plans have in store, B’n’M is behind you with the quality tackle that won’t leave you with tales of the big one that got away. When you do catch him, log onto our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bnmpoles and send us a photo of you and your catch.