General Tips and Advice Gleaned from Three Quarters of a Century

By O’Neill Williams

It’s funny that the older you get, the more you have to say to people, whether they want to hear it or not. The redeeming factor is that, at my age, one doesn’t care if you listen or not, agree or not, or can improve on the subject or not. The tips are here for the taking or just ignore what you choose. In no order of importance, here goes.

Try turning the tail of any curly tail jig up or down. If the tail is down, it will sink slightly slower because of the resistance. If turned up, it will sink slightly faster with less resistance. Rig them both on different rods with the same line size and see what works best.

When using a drop-shot, use a Road Runner or any other jig as your weight at the end of your line. This increases your chances of catching fish, as they might bite that instead of the drop-shot rig farther up. If you hook up, don’t be in a hurry to reel him in as there are others looking and feeding there also.

Pick one day a month as family outdoor sports day. Take the entire family fishing, hunting, boating, seashell hunting, hiking, sporting clay shooting, or even camping. Getting the family outside once a month can prove to be enlightening and fun for everyone.

Participate in shoreline cleaning events in your local area or even organize one yourself through your church or bass club. Keeping the banks and shorelines clean is a positive for the fishery and the environment.

Run a piece of cotton through the guides on your rods. If any of it sticks to the guides, there must be a crack in the fiberglass inside the guide and needs replacing.

Do not power spray your reels with a hose. It forces impurities into the reel that may cause corrosion. Use only a light spray and douse or submerge the reel in a bucket of water for a couple of minutes. Dry it off with a lint-free cloth and spray the entire reel with Real Magic. It will protect the reel and line from UV rays and help prevent corrosion.

Keep an angler’s journal. Each time you go fishing, write down as much data as possible about the weather, water color, temperature, wind direction and always include what you were using to catch fish. Do not forget about moon phases, barometric pressure and cloud cover. You can refer to this journal over the years to condition your approach to each body of water.

If you are a proficient angler and you want to pass on your knowledge, do some volunteering. Local high schools and colleges need mentors for fishing teams. These youngsters are the future of the sport and they need additional guidance.

Be respectful at the ramp. Have your rig ready to launch when it is your turn. Do not back up to park on the ramp then load the boat from your vehicle. This wastes other anglers’ time on the water.

Wash your boat off when moving from lake to lake. Contaminants from one lake can stick to your boat and wash off into another lake. This is how the zebra mussels infested lakes out west.

Use the long shank Tru-Turn, light wire hook for panfish. The longer shank makes it easier to grab and remove since you cannot get your fingers in a smaller fish’s mouth.

When fishing with younger kids, use a rod with a handle that floats. If the rig falls out of their hands, you will be able to recover it.

If you’re fishing deep for bass and you have one on and it gets off, don’t reel in immediately. Could be that many more bass were with that one and wanted your bait also. Leave it in the water at that level and don’t be in such a hurry to reel in. You will probably get another bite.

When using a buzzbait, or something similar, and a trailer hook, which I recommend, turn the trailer hook down instead of up and mash down the barb. You’ll double your catch.

If you get a bite on a buzzbait and it’s missed, have a plastic worm to throw back to the strike area. While the bass will not likely hit the buzzbait if you toss it back, he’ll almost always take the worm. I learned that from Rick Clunn in a tournament about 50 years ago.

Every time you rig up to go fishing, cut off one rod length of line. Start with a fresh 6 or 7 feet of line. This will require you to re-tie your lures and hooks with new knots also.

Want more incidental tips and shameless unsolicited advice? Tune in “O’Neill Outside” radio on WSB and the SB Nation affiliate network across North America every Saturday morning from 4AM to 6AM. We have many callers smarter than “O’Neill” to hand it out.