15. Unhook a Bird
Uninten-tionally hooking up with a seagull can be downright humiliating or even frightening to some anglers.
STEP 1: To safely release the bird, drop a clean cloth, towel or jacket completely over the bird, covering its head, back and wings. Not only does this protect you from an errant beak, but if the bird can't see, it calms down quite a bit. Place gentle but firm pressure on the bird's back. Once it sits down, fold its wings to its body and wrap the cloth around it. Hold it away from your face. Take care not to hold the bird too tightly or pin it down, because it may lead to suffocation or broken bones.
STEP 2: Remove the line and hook. Snipping the line at a convenient distance rarely resolves the problem. The seabird may fly away but line can wrap around a bird's legs, wings or beak. Unable to fly, swim or feed, starvation quickly results. Make every attempt to remove the hook, too. Leaving a hook in a bird will cause infection-plus you'll loose your plug. Crimping the barbs on your hooks will make removal a lot easier. Push the hook forward through the bird's skin, until the barb is exposed and clip behind it with wire cutters. Back the hook out. For treble hooks, cut them where they join, then push each hook forward and remove it.
- Capt. John McMurray
16. Wire with Care
The phrase "wiring" a fish means taking the leader in hand to lead the fish next to the boat for gaff and capture or tag and release. However, done improperly, wiring can be downright dangerous, especially on large, unpredictable fish. Many professionals with years of experience have been cut to the bone by the leader, pulled out of the boat or even drowned. Extreme care should be taken on any fish when bringing it alongside the boat. In those instances when you must lead a fish to the boat, here are a couple general rules of thumb to follow.
Try to keep the boat moving slowly forward or in a turn as this helps to lead the fish alongside the boat. A dead boat and a darting fish can create a lot of problems.
Wear quality cotton gloves or, when using mono leader, try a pair of yellow gripper gloves available at most tackle shops.
Keep your eyes on the fish at all times and be prepared for its sudden and often unexpected moves to free itself.
To leader a fish properly, you must take wraps of the leader. Begin by placing your palm up, under the leader and wrap the line around the meat of your hand. To prevent it from slipping through your hands, take two wraps and pull the fish to you so that you can get another set of wraps around your opposite hand.
Keep your elbows bent and try to finesse the fish to the boat - using brute strength results in lost fish and injury.
In the event you should have to let go to prevent a break-off or to keep from being pulled over, simply open your hand and point it toward the fish and the line will fall off your hand. Practice this technique on every fish you leader from bluefish on up so that it becomes second nature. Never second guess letting go. If you think you should, dump the leader off your hands and let things settle down for another try.
17. Fish the Rip
Rips form when swift currents hit a ledge, reef or shoal forcing the water to compress and sweep over the structure at an increased speed. A series of standing waves, called a "rip line," is created when the faster, upwelling water collides with deeper, slower water behind a reef. Along the bottom, this surging motion causes a vacuum-like effect with relatively calmer, slower water just ahead of the structure, commonly called the "sweet spot." Predators hold here to conserve energy and then rocket up to ambush baitfish trapped in the rip above, and this is where you should fish.
How to find it You can locate the sweet spot on the up-tide side of a reef where it slopes upward from a flat bottom. Because it takes time and distance for the upwelling water to reach the surface, the sweet spot will be located a short distance - depending on the depth - in front of the rip line.
How to work it Once you've found a rip line, motor up-current from the waves while watching your depthfinder. After the reef flattens out, stop the motor and fish while drifting back toward the rip. Drifting, rather than anchoring, allows the boat to keep pace with the tide-swept lure or live bait, and you'll cover the sweet spot more effectively. Or you can troll by "stemming the current" so your deep-running lures pass through the sweet spot.
How to fish it Pay attention to where you catch fish on each reef. Using triangulation, electronics or an anchored float, you can return to that exact spot on successive passes.