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Fish Hook in the Eye- Not for sensitive viewers

Now I'm not suggesting that you start wearing safety glasses when fishing but we should all be aware of what can happen.  If you Google "Fish hook in eye" you will find that this is more common that one might think.  In this particular case a guy managed to hook himself in the lens and a pretty good hook at that. 

What can you take away from this story?  Safety, safety, safety! Be aware of your cast, obstructions to your cast that may deflect your hook, and buddies or nearby fisherman who may not be paying attention to you.  I can't imagine that a fish hook in the eyeball would go down as anything less than one of the worst days of your life....


fish hook in eye



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Fish Photography 101- by Justin Hoffman Outdoors

If a picture speaks a thousand words, anglers all over the world must have many novels to their name. The art of fishing photography has come a long way from the days of “stringer shots” or “grip and grin” images, with new adaptations enabling anglers to better convey the excitement they experienced while out on the water. Taking a perfect fishing image does not have to be a difficult task, in fact, the skill can easily be achieved by following a few simple rules and preparing the scene before making that fateful “click.”
Come and explore the magic that the camera holds, and begin filling your photo album with spectacular shots – one fish at a time.

Getting That Great Shot

For the most part, an average fishing photo consists of a happy angler posing proudly with their prize catch in outstretched hand. Although there is nothing wrong with an image of this type, being creative while out on the water will truly make your photo album come alive.

The first thing I like to consider when striving for a great shot is variety. Make the effort to move around and shoot from many different angles for increased perspectives of the catch. This can be in the form of horizontal and vertical formatting and also close-ups and wide-angle shots. Getting down low in front of your subject or shooting from above the angler will enable you to achieve depth and interest in your finished product.

One of my favourite tricks I employ when on a photo shoot is actually getting out of the boat to shoot some film. Some of my better shots have been when I’ve set up on the shore or a dock and shot out toward the boat and angler. This can create an interesting perspective and really contributes to a dynamic shot. Some ideas for composition would be having the angler releasing a fish over the side of the boat, getting him or her to cast directly towards the camera (creating a three dimensional image if shutter speed is set accordingly,) or an action shot depicting the splashing and rod bending of fighting a fish. The possibilities are endless once you take a step out of the boat.

Another interesting technique I use is shooting close-ups of the fish themselves. Fish have the most brilliant colours in the animal kingdom, and this is really evident when they fill the entire frame of your composition. How about a close-up of the striking colours of a bluegill, or a lunker largemouth being gently released into a mat of lily pads? Perhaps a perch being brought up through an ice hole or a giant musky being held in the water awaiting release? Realizing that fishing photography does not have to always include an angler in the shot is a great step towards unleashing your creativity while out in the field.

Colour is one of the few things in fish photography that can either make or break an image. Without vibrant colours in the scene, the shot takes on a washed-out and unappealing look. There are a few tricks that you can use to make your pictures stand out and attract the viewer’s attention. Leaving the lure in the mouth of the fish will add contrast and a hint of colour that can tie a photo together nicely. A bright chartreuse crankbait against the brown body of a smallmouth adds appeal and contrast to the finished product. (Plus it acts as a life-long memory to what that trophy fish fell prey too.)

The clothing that the subject angler is wearing can also dictate how vivid or striking the end product will be. There are certain colours that stand out and “perform” best on film – red, yellow and blue being my top three to work with. Reds, in particular, tend to leap out of a photograph – especially when they are surrounded by more muted shades. Having the angler wear a shirt or pants in one of these hues will definitely draw the viewer’s eyes into the picture. While on a photo shoot I always make a point to bring an assortment of garments and hats to add variety to each of my shots. The end result is individuality in each of your images – something that just can’t happen when every photo in the album looks similar to the next.

Keeping your shots looking natural is necessary for a realistic image. Try to stay away from taking photos of your subject on shore (especially in the backyard or beside buildings!) or in their kitchen with an obviously dead fish. Keeping fish for the table is certainly ok, but photos of this nature seem too unnatural to give them any merit. Taking fish off a stringer before shooting your photograph is also suggested for a more life-like image.

Documenting the entire day is also a great way to record your fishing experience. How about a shot early in the morning as the boat is being launched, or of the Great Blue Heron you pass by on the way to your honey hole? Creating a storyline of the events leading up to a great catch will create a great memento to show off in your photo album.




Pay Attention to the Background

Let’s face the facts. We have all been guilty of rushing to shoot off a picture only to discover that the angler mysteriously had a tree “growing” from their head! Making sure that your composition has a pleasing background is one of the most important aspects to fishing photography, and believe me, the results will speak loudly for themselves. Finding a background that is both pleasing to the eye, yet not too “busy” looking is the key ingredient. Vibrant fall leaves, a row of cattails or a decaying boathouse are just a sample of backgrounds that will add boldness to your prints. Before taking that first shot, have a look around in all directions to see which area would make a more interesting addition to your masterpiece. If you have access to a livewell, carefully put the fish inside and take a quick scoot to see if anything of interest lies just around the corner.

The Sun – Friend or Foe?

The sun can work for or against you while out on the water, and adaptation is the key to having the yellow globe on your side. When shooting under bright skies, always remember to keep the sun at your back. Having the light shine on your subject will lighten up shadows and brighten the image. Mid-day sun, however, can create harsh light that may make your shots appear washed-out and over-exposed. Generally I choose to do most of my picture taking in the morning or evening hours when the sky takes on a soft glow, resulting in a more pleasing shot.

While on the subject of light, the use of a flash can be an important addition for superior shots. Using a camera flash will brighten the shadows on a subjects face (especially since most anglers wear hats,) and make the sheen of the fish more striking. Most cameras come with a “fill-flash” which has a striking effect in making the fish really stand out. Polarizing filters are a great addition to a photographer’s bag of tricks, especially when shooting around water. Using the same principal as a fisherman’s polarized glasses, a lens of this nature will eliminate glare from reflective surfaces and reduce the effect of haze. Colours become more saturated – skies turn bluer and grass is greener – because you have removed glare that your eye might not have even noticed. A polarizer works best when your camera is pointed at a right angle to the sun. Attaching the filter to the lens and rotating it until all unwanted reflections or glare are gone is as little as it takes for an improved shot. I shoot a lot of film with a polarizer, especially close-ups off fish in the water, during “blue-bird” skies and when I want certain aspects of the scene to stand out more vividly.

The Health of the Fish

It is critical to pay attention to the health of the fish when shooting photographs.

Have your camera and gear ready to shoot quickly when a fish is caught, and never leave a fish out of water for more than a dozen or so seconds. Utilize your livewell (if applicable) to ensure the shot (and cameraman) is set up before ever exposing the fish to air. Just like we would drown in water – the same fate is destined for a fish exposed to air.

Fishing photography is a great hobby and an excellent way to document your time spent out on the water. Take the time this season to try new and different things in order to improve the quality of your shots – the results are sure to dazzle and delight!

Pick up more great tips from http://justinhoffmanoutdoors.com!


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Mistakes an Angler Makes- by Justin Hoffman Outdoors

Justin Hoffman OutdoorsPutting fish in the boat on a consistent basis is easier said than done. On the one hand we have unavoidable external factors - such as the mood of our quarry – that is ultimately out of our control. But what about the bad habits and mistakes we routinely bring to the lake? Subconscious or not, these ‘negative’ traits often become a detriment to our angling success, costing us a bend in the rod on many of our outings. Plain and simple – mistakes are a deal breaker in the game of fishing.

Overcoming bad habits and recognizing the mistakes you commit can help lead you to more fruitful days on the water. Now is the time to forge forward with new habits and break the bad ones of yesteryear. Think of them as your new fishing resolutions for 2012.

Putting Too Much Faith in Confidence Baits

We all have our favourite lures. Those with the hearty teeth marks, scratched paint and weathered look. The baits we rely on day in and day out – comfortable to cast, easy to use and responsible for hooking that giant of a fish some six years back. Turning to confidence baits is one of the most common mistakes we commit as anglers. And we are all guilty of it.

Changing your mindset and forcing yourself to get away from your comfort zone when it comes to lures will increase your catch rates greatly. And really, what’s the point in lugging that massive tackle box if you’re only going to stick with one or two lucky charms?

Learn to become proficient with a variety of lures and techniques this season. Building confidence in other baits can only come about by using them. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by taking a handful of new lures out on your next outing. With ‘old faithful’ sitting at home, you will be forced to spend the day with something new – and this in itself is what builds confidence. In no time you’ll feel comfortable and proficient with a wide range of lures, allowing you to adapt to any situation you face and ultimately feel comfortable throwing what is bound to get bit.
For those struggling with change, give yourself a set amount of time to work a single lure. Use a stopwatch if it helps. If you’ve fished without a sniff for fifteen or twenty minutes, then switch up presentations and try something else. This is the best way to break your habit.

The Sunshine Syndrome

Raise your hand if you’re a fair weather fisherman? It’s not a surprise that a large percentage of anglers schedule their time on the water to revolve around favourable and pleasant weather patterns. Many see comfort far outweighing the merits of catching more fish. For those that have limited days on the water, such as many of the weekend warriors, this train of thought can negatively impact how much we get to enjoy our favourite pastime.

It’s far too easy to say, “boy is it windy!” or “way too wet” and have a day on the water slip you by. Even more so when you consider that many of our favourite game fish bite better when the weather turns a little nasty, including ‘ole marble eyes.

Force yourself to fish in less than favourable conditions this season. Inclement weather will often turn fish on, leading to invaluable feeding windows and better-than-average bites. You’ll also face less angling pressure, which is a bonus for you and the fish.

The most important thinking is to be prepared. Get a drift sock, buy reputable rain gear, and utilize your trolling motor or kicker to better work for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Challenging your comfort level is key to overcoming the syndrome. You may not come home with a tan, but you might bring a trophy of a lifetime with you.

Keep in mind that safety always comes first. If it is unsafe to venture on the lake then please don’t do so. But don’t let a little wind, rain, or the cold – and the weatherman for that matter - keep you from having fun.

Sonar Un-Savvy

Sonar’s offer a wealth of fishing information that is invaluable when working the water. And just like their moniker suggests, they really do find fish.
But how many of us are truly using these units to their full capability? Sure they come with a myriad of bells and whistles, but each one serves a useful purpose.
Over the years I have witnessed far too many anglers rely on their sonar for one thing – and that’s to show the depth. Big mistake.

How about using the temperature gauge to locate the warmest water when seeking pike in early spring? Or using the zoom function to dissect bottom structure and differentiate between various compositions of weed and rock? Better yet, mark those pods of baitfish that are suspended on the screen and waypoint it with the GPS to work over on a trolling run for trout. Or last but not least, pinpoint and mark that offshore hump found miles away from shore; keying-in on the subtle breakline gradient and finessing the visible fish hunkered down on the bottom.

Fish finder manuals are thick in nature for a reason, and soaking in the abundant information will allow you to better understand, and more importantly, better utilize your graph when out on the water. Most offer real-time and on-screen tutorials, where your fingers can control the action and give you a feeling for real-life scenarios – all before you put your knowledge into use on the water.
Sonar technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. Staying current with these advancements can only mean one thing, and that’s more fish in the boat.

Turning Your Back on Detail

Attention to detail can have a significant impact on the amount of fish we catch, or more importantly, those that we are able to hook and ultimately land. Since beginning the fishing game we’ve all had the same advice drilled into us – sharpen your hooks, check your line and knot strength, or reapply fish attractant regularly. Subconsciously we all know these ‘to-do’ items are necessary, but putting them into practice and making them a part of our regular routine can often be lacking.

Get into the habit of sharpening your hooks every thirty minutes and also after every fish or snag you encounter. It doesn’t take much to weaken the point on a hook, or create a burr, so being proactive in this department can really make a difference when that next fish decides to strike. In the greater schemes of things, it takes less than ten seconds to put a perfect point on a hook – an intangible amount of time for the hours you spend casting a line.

As for line, check the first few feet after every fish and every ten minutes when working heavy cover. Running your lips or fingertips quickly along the length can alert you to any weak spots – sure signs of a lost fish if left unnoticed. As for knots – get in the habit of retying at least every hour. Strength can deteriorate fairly quickly depending on the use and pressure we put on our line, and like they say, the weakest link between you and a fish is always your mono, braid or fluoro.

A quick shot of fish scent should be applied every fifteen minutes – if anything, it will mask the handling of your lure and boost the confidence in the bait you are using. For some species it can mean the difference between getting bit and not.
Attention to detail can run the gamut in everything we do on the water and isn’t only limited to line and hooks. When you think about it, bad habits are all about staying in our comfort zone. For instance – how do you cover a shoreline? We all know it is best to work into the wind for better boat control, to have greater control of our casts and to not blow by productive structure too quickly. But for some anglers, it is ‘easier’ to drift down a shoreline, make half as many casts and move to the next spot on the lake. An avoidable mistake for the most part.

Pay attention to the detail side of things next time on the water. They can range from small to big, but each can affect our fishing success, and many require us to only get in the habit of doing them.

Same Old, Same Old

How many of us launch the boat into an expansive river or lake yet fish the same handful of spots time and time again? This is another common mistake we make as anglers and it can really handicap us when it comes to catching fish.
Searching out new water can lead to great treasures, and some of my best fishing spots have come by way of exploration. Set a goal of fishing one new area each time you hit the water – no matter what. If the spot produces, add it to your list. If it fizzles, keep it in mind to try again during a different time period, in another season or when weather patterns are considerably different.
The aim of this exercise is to discover the entire body of water, or as much of it as you can. Because, when the fish aren’t biting in your handful of favourite holes, you’ll need to know your way around the water to put those fish in the boat.

Make it a personal mission to fish at least three new bodies of water this coming season. Part of the fun of fishing is exploring new fisheries and figuring them out. Unfortunately, bad habits often keep us tied to the lake closest to home. Branch out this year and break out of the mould – because really, the ‘same old, same old’ can get a little anti-climatic after a while.













Lack of Mental Alertness and Concentration

Concentration is a key aspect of successful angling. When a big fish strikes, being alert and ready for battle will up the odds in your favour. Make each cast count, work the bait to your utmost capacity on each and every retrieve (sloppy casts or half-hearted cranks of the reel will not suffice), and mentally be in the game for your time out on the water. Trophy fish are a rare breed, so think of the ‘next cast’ as being the ‘one’, and you’ll lessen the chance of losing her – or missing the strike completely – when she finally comes out to play.

Opt for a healthy breakfast the morning of your outing. I know, tough to turn your nose up at greasy bacon and sausage, but nourishment that won’t make you lethargic will make a big difference in giving you an athlete’s edge.

Staying hydrated can also be a key factor. A hot sun and lack of water can wreak havoc on your system – interfering with mental alertness, your ability to set the hook lightning quick, and ultimately, being completely and 100% in the game.
Stock up on healthy snacks for the boat and watch your concentration levels climb.

Mistakes in fishing can be common, but those that are preventable or result from bad habits can greatly diminish our overall success. Learning to identify and strengthening your faux pas - by fine-tuning and adjusting your approach - will lead to more fruitful days on the water. And that, my friends, is what the sport of fishing is all about. Here’s hoping your fishing resolutions make you a better and more proficient angler this coming season.


Pick up more great tips from http://justinhoffmanoutdoors.com!

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How to Fish- Random thoughts...

Perhaps it isn’t that fishing is complicated but rather that fishing is as broad as the lake, pond, river, or sea that you are fishing in.   Which fish are you targeting?  Every body of water can contains tens, hundreds, thousands, or more species of fish.  The anglers success will be determined by what species they are targeting and how well they know that species.  For any given fish species the fisherman should know where the particular species of interest lives, what they eat, what depth of the water they frequent, and how to locate them in the morning and at night, and the best way to attract them.

altSpecies sizes will vary drastically depending on location.  This may be partially due to genes but it is mostly due to weather.  An angler shouldn’t fish in a small pond in a northern state and assume that could get a 30 pound bass unless they know something special about that pond.  Typically the largest fish of any species will thrive and be abundant where there is an abundance of food.  For example, bass fishing is prime in states near the southern gulf as there is plenty of sunshine, no hard winters to lean the fish out, and a continuous abundance of large bugs, frogs, and prey for the fish most of the year round. 

So to be an effective angler it is best to what you want to catch, where it lives, and what does not live where you are.  Next learn how to use every piece in your tackle box and you will be on your way to ting the hook and finding a little more luck at the end of your pole.  

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So you're worried about scent control when hunting...but how about when fishing?!

Some of you are thinking right now... scent control when fishing?! He's crazy! But I beg to differ. Ask any successful angler and they will tell you that the number of quality fish caught is directly correlated with a fish's sense of smell. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why when catfishing, do anglers often use stink bait to attract and land lunker catfish fish? And why when deep sea fishing, do anglers chum the water to attract different fish species? The truth is fish have an acute sense of "smell". Take for instance... a bass fish's taste buds are located outside its mouth as well as inside of it. That means that a bass can taste an object before it enters its mouth. A bass fish's taste and smell are once again combined in such a way that a bass smells and tastes at the same time.

Several years ago a study was completed to determine the acuity of a bass fish’s sense of smell and taste. It was conducted in a 100 gallon tank. The results of the study were stunning. It was discovered that a bass can distinguish the scent or taste of 1/200th of a drop of a substance. If a bass tastes or smells bait that is unpleasing it will not take the bait into its mouth or it will only do so for a couple of seconds. If however a bass likes the taste or scent of a particular bait it has been known to hold on as long as half a minute before dispensing of the object from its mouth. This study can apply to all fish. This information is critical to any serious angler! Think about it, how many times do we quickly fill up the car or truck with gas, grab a bite to eat, wipe the sweat from our brow before grabbing out rod and reel and casting into our favorite honey hole for a little bass fishing or other fishing? These mistakes could be costing you a shot at those hidden lunker fish hiding deep in the water.

But don't fret, a couple simple steps can be taken to improve your odds.

  1. Remember what your mother always told you about washing your hands?! Well it's critical to do this to cleanse your hands not only from the oil it naturally produces but also from the other scents that those oils have collected.
  2. Air out your dirty laundry! By this I'm referring to your tackle box! Most synthetic lures now contain petroleum products that need to breathe otherwise they will begin to break down. When their chemical bonds break down they give off scent and they also begin to "melt" (not JUST due to heat). This is why after leaving your tackle box closed for extended periods of time often results in a mess and a trip to the local bait shop to acquire a new lure containing device.
  3. Finally, don't forget that any disturbance to the natural habitat can also give off scents that will scare fish away. If the prop on your boat cuts weeds in the water those weeds give off scents that alert fish that danger may be near. The same can be said if disturbance occurs while fishing from the shore line. Mud, grass, or other objects that are suddenly introduced into the water may signal your fishing prey that you are in the area and cause them to be cautious of any bait and lures thrown in their immediate range.

Let me know how these tips help you!

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