Back to Basics with Brad Whitehead – Part 1
By Phillip Gentry
Each day it seems the sport of recreational fishing gets more and more complex. From high dollar sonar units that provide real time images to expensive high-tech boats and motors, and all the newest fishing gear and gadgets in between, it seems the simple enjoyment of fishing has taken a back seat to bigger and better gear. The beginning angler or the casual angler often gets lost in the shuffle of the latest tournament tactics when all he or she wants to do is just have some fun catching fish.
This article is the first of a three-part series aimed at going back and explaining some of the more basic principles and practices of fishing for fun. B’n’M pro-staffer Brad Whitehead will walk through three of the most often asked questions he encounters when giving fishing seminars to the public.
“Probably the most frequent question I get asked when I give seminars somewhere is “Where can I go to catch some fish from the bank and what do I need to be using to catch them?””, said Whitehead. “Of course, that’s going to depend on where you are in the country, but I think what works here in North Alabama probably holds true for much of the country.”
A cork is a great way to suspend your bait below the surface, right at fish eye-level.
The first thing Whitehead recommends is to find a stable, safe location if you’re going to fish from shore.
“I’d recommend a public fishing pier first,” he said. “A lot of states have installed nice pier facilities and even placed fish attractors around them to congregate fish.”
If a public fishing pier is not available or fishing on the shoreline is your preference, he suggests a location that provides somewhere to park your vehicle and walk down to the water without fear of traffic. Other good options are bridge overpasses where access is provided for fishermen or perhaps a friend or relative’s private boat dock.
With a little advance research, most areas have plenty of places to fish, and catch fish, from the shoreline, pier or bridge crossing.
Next, Whitehead addresses tackle and suggests a visit to the local tackle shop might be in order to find out what fish you’re most likely to catch at your location.
“I can recommend a great, basic technique, and B’n’M makes rods for this style of fishing. It’s real simple and can catch you a lot of fish if done correctly,” he said.
The technique is a variation of simple cane pole fishing, using one of B’n’M’s Black Widow, Cadillac Combo, Little Jewel or Duck Commander telescopic panfish poles. If you want to use a reel, a good, simple choice is B’n’M West Point Trigger reel which comes pre-spooled with 43 yards of 8-pound test monofilament line.
The basic rig used with this technique is a cork, a split shot weight or two, and a small Aberdeen hook. The cork can be a cylinder shape that the line runs through and is held in place by a peg or it can be a round float that clips to the line.
“With the cork, it’s important not to use so much weight it sinks the cork or so big of a cork that even a small fish can’t pull it under,” he said.
For dock fishing, Whitehead suggests setting the cork between 4 and 5 feet from the hook. He said the average pier depth is around 10 – 12 feet so that should put your bait right about where the fish will be this time of year.
Speaking of bait, Whitehead said this is a straight live bait technique. The type bait depends on what fish are in your area. For crappie, a live minnow is the preferred bait while bream love crickets and bass and catfish will readily eat redworms or night crawlers.
Choosing the right live bait depends on what species of bait live in the area you’re fishing.
“For crappie fishing, I use a minnow bucket with a small aerator, and I buy medium shiners or tuffies from the bait shop,” said Whitehead. “The best hook is a #2 Eagle Claw gold Aberdeen hook. You want a light wire hook, nothing thick or heavy.”
Whitehead instructs to hook the minnow upward through the lips from the bottom lip up, being careful not to insert the point too deep into the bait which will kill it but not so shallow that the bait tears off when the cork is cast or flipped into the water.
He gives a final note on some handy gear to have. The first is a chair because as he says “standing around all day gets old quick, especially if you’re fishing with a child”. Use a small tackle box to carry extra hooks, sinkers and corks as well as a fish stringer and a small pair of needle-nose pliers which can be used to de-hook fish, cut line, or pinch the weights onto the line.
“In no time at all, you’ll start wanting to reach places further away than just right in front of you,” said Whitehead. “We’ll get into that in the next article.”
For all of your fishing needs, B’n’M has got you covered. Visit our website at bnmpoles.com and find what you need to get started fishing.