March '09 Reader Tips

Here's an easy, fish-friendly solution for releases

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Stir It Up
I've been bottomfishing for most of my life, and I love to use dropper rigs with multiple hooks. One problem I always seem to have with them is that the dropper loops tend to spin around the main line and tangle. I came up with a way of stiffening the branch lines to keep them away from the main line with the help of plastic coffee stirrers. The ones I found are about 6 or 7 inches long, and I cut them in half. When I make my dropper, I start with about 4 or 5 feet of 60-pound monofilament. I slide the straw on, put the mono through the hook of my choice and then pass the mono back through the straw. Then I finish the branch with a standard dropper knot. Repeat the process three or four times and then finish the rig with a swivel on one end and a bank sinker on the other. This setup catches plenty of red grouper and vermilion snapper and a bunch of other species.

Tony Fernandez
West Palm Beach, Florida

Help From Above

Most of my fishing is done from bridges and piers that are high above the water. I'm often concerned when releasing an oversize redfish or out-of-season snook that the fall from such a height might be detrimental. Here's an easy, fish-friendly solution I came up with. I start by drilling holes along the length of  a piece of 12-inch-diameter (or larger) PVC from 25 to 30 inches long. Next, I take a 3-way swivel and form a yoke using polypropylene rope. Each end is attached so the PVC fish cradle  hangs level from the swivel. I then attach 30 feet or more of poly rope to the swivel to make the hand line. When I have to release a fish, I slide it into the tube and lower the cradle. When it reaches the water, the holes fill the tube with water and the fish swims away unharmed, no worse for the wear. I am sure that this would work for stripers and other species as well.

Nick Theocharakis Jr.
Tampa Bay, Florida

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

The tongue of my trailer has a bunch of wires and chains that tend to make good chew toys for my dog. To nip this problem in the bud, I took an 18-inch length of 6-inch plastic drain pipe and split the seam on one side. I then slipped it over the end of the trailer tongue, encasing all the wires and chains, and used a bungee cord to secure the pipe in place. And here's another tip: If you are keeping your boat in storage for an extended period of time, try spraying everything down with lubricant before buttoning up, and it will keep corrosion at bay.

Rodney Hall
Harrisburg, North Carolina