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The Reel Truth Revealed in Better Bass Fishing


It’s been awhile since I shared with you some of the great how-to information in my book, Better Bass Fishing.

Here’s a portion of the section about caring for your reels:

Secret: Good maintenance advice to remember is to grease the gears and oil the bearings. But too much oil can be just as bad as too little. Too much will make the bearings sluggish. Just a drop is best.

Also, avoid using aerosols. Sprayed on oil is more likely to leave a messy film and more likely to evaporate, leaving no lubricant.

Here are some general maintenance tips for levelwind reels from Lake Fork Tackle Repair:

Outside of reel: Wipe the entire reel to remove dirt, salt, and crud. Use a cotton swab to reach into tight places.

Hub or brake drum: Use a cotton swab and alcohol to clean the brake hub or brake drum, as well as the spool edge. Then apply a small bit of oil to the inside of the hub or drum.

Spool shaft: Clean in similar fashion to that used for hub. Apply drop of oil to ends of shaft.

Bearings: If the bearings are dirty, clean and apply a drop of oil. If they are not dirty, simply add oil.

Cast Control Cap: Remove cap inner parts and clean with cotton swab. If copper part is dented, turn it over and apply one drop of oil.

Levelwind or worm gear: Clean with a swab or pipe cleaner. Add a drop of oil on each end.

Handle knobs: Apply one drop of oil.

Secret: Lighten up on both your drag and your hookset if you have put braided line on your baitcasting reel. Braided line typically is much stronger than monofilament and has less stretch. If you don’t adjust accordingly, you could rip a hook right through the mouth of a big fish or tear a large hole that allows the hook to fall out.

Secret: After making the first cast of the morning, be sure to “break” your drag free by pulling a few inches of line from the spool. This will ensure the drag system is in proper working order when it is needed. The drag system of a reel can stick after sitting for a few days and that extra tension on the line during a fight might be all that’s needed for your line to break when you are battling a big fish--- Matt Beck

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 Also, my new book, Why We Fish, will be out in a few weeks, published by Norlights Press. It’s a collection of essays exploring all of the reasons that we go fishing, from the practical (catch fish, catch lots of fish, catch big fish, etc.) to the philosophical (get back to nature, relax, quality time with friends and family, nostalgia, etc.)

Most of them were written by me, but I’ve also included contributions from others, including Bill Dance. In addition, my friend Ross Gordon at Mystery Tackle Box asked his Facebook followers to reveal why they go fishing, and I’ve included some of the best responses from that.


Colorado Heads List of Most Endangered Rivers

The Colorado heads the list of American Rivers’ most endangered rivers for 2013.

Others include Flint, San Saba, Little Plover, Catawba, Boundary Waters, Black Warrior, Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks, Kootenai, and Niobrara, with special mention to the Merced. Mining is considered the major threat to four of them, including world-famous Boundary Waters.

Of the Colorado, American Rivers says this:

According to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study (December 2012), there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the Basin’s current water demands, let alone to support future demand increases from growing populations in an era of climate change.

The Colorado River is often called one of the most controlled and plumbed rivers on the planet. More dams and diversions are planned, especially in the upper basin in Colorado. Currently multiple projects are being proposed along the Front Range of Colorado that would remove more than 300,000 acre feet of new water from the Colorado River and its tributaries– all of this would be removed even before the river reaches Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Read more here.


Obama Administration Won't Explain Specifics of National Ocean Policy

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs is trying to find what’s really going on with the administration’s National Ocean Policy (NOP).

And --- big surprise! --- the administration is being less than transparent.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the NOP is a plan created by Executive Order to “zone” uses of the oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes. Intentionally vague language allows for the zoning to extend inland as well. In other words, the feds will tell us where we can and cannot fish.

Earlier this week, the administration released its final plan for implementation of the NOP, prompting the subcommittee to convene an oversight hearing.

At that hearing, our elected representatives learned little from the Obama-appointed bureaucrats, including Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. For example, after being pressed to name who from CEQ or other agencies was involved in the development and implementation of the plan, she refused to specify one person or staff member who has contributed to this effort.

I can’t name specific people who developed the plan, but I can tell you unequivocally they belong to preservationist environmental groups that are not allies of recreational fishing.  They are the same crowd that pushes for “marine protected areas,” where no sport fishing is allowed, and they will use the NOP to create them wherever they can.

Following the hearing, Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, chair of the Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter to Sutley and John Holdren, co-chair of Sutley of the National Ocean Council.

“Over the past two years, the Obama Administration has repeatedly limited public transparency and frustrated attempts to obtain information about the cost, legal authority, activities, and staffing involved with developing and implementing regional ocean zoning plans and other parts of the National Ocean Policy,” Hastings said.

 “Ms. Sutley’s testimony before the Subcommittee did little to provide clarity or allay concerns about the funding sources, regulatory impact, mandatory nature, and role of States, local governments, Tribes, and interested groups in implementing the National Ocean Policy. This is unacceptable, especially now that the final plan has been released.”

Here’s some background from the Natural Resources Committee:

 On July 19, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13547 to adopt the final recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to implement a new National Ocean Policy, which includes a mandatory Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning initiative to “zone” the oceans. In this unilateral action, he established a top-down, Washington, D.C.–based approval process that will hinder rather than promote ocean and inland activities and cost American jobs.

The final implementation plan raises more questions than answers and provides even less information on what the Obama Administration will impose under the guise of a National Ocean Policy and the impending regional management plans.

Due to concerns about the impact of the National Ocean Policy on economic and recreational activities in ocean, coastal, and inland environments, the House of Representatives in both the 112th and 113th Congresses passed amendments by bipartisan votes to halt funding for President Obama’s National Ocean Policy. The Natural Resources Committee has held multiple hearings and sent a series of letters to the National Ocean Council to conduct oversight and get answers to the many questions surrounding this policy. 


Asian Carp Could Threaten Brackish Water Fisheries Too

Asian carp caught in Kentucky Lake. Photo by Steve McCadams

As Activist Angler has reported, the Great Lakes aren’t the only fisheries at risk because of bighead and silver carp.  The invaders threaten riverine impoundments in the Dakotas and natural lakes in Minnesota, as well as reservoirs along the Tennessee, Cumberland, and Ohio River systems.

And now it appears that brackish water fisheries, especially in Louisiana, are endangered as well, according to an article in If that’s the case, we now should worry about shrimp, oysters, crabs, redfish, trout and many other saltwater species.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Evidence of bighead and silver carp living in the salty, brackish waters of coastal Louisiana is worrisome because the fish family they belong to is typically restricted to fresh water, U.S. Geological Survey biologist Duane Chapman said.

“Asian carp appear to be the exception, which was a complete shock to us,” Chapman said. “We don’t have any real data yet on the effects of the fish on brackish water populations of other species. We don’t know what will happen, but we are very concerned.”

 Also in Louisiana, chef Philippe Parola, an angler himself, has been leading the way in encouraging fishermen to catch, keep, and eat Asian carp. Check out his website.

For a little light entertainment, check out the silver carp explosion during rowing practice on a lake off the Missouri River, near St. Louis.



National Ocean Policy Improved, But Still Threatens Recreational Fishing

I haven’t posted about this administration’s National Ocean Policy in awhile. But it still poses a threat to the future of recreational fishing.

That’s because those driving its implementation  refuse to acknowledge public access to fishing and other outdoor recreation as a priority.

The American Sportfishing Association says this:

“The sportfishing industry supports the improvements in the administration’s final Implementation Plan for its National Ocean Policy but still has concerns that the social, economic, public health and conservation benefits of recreational uses of our nation’s public resources did not receive the priority consideration that it deserves.”

And this:

“In the ‘plus’ column, the industry is pleased to see the heightened emphasis on the role of state agencies in any kind of marine planning connected to the National Ocean Policy and the explicit statement that regions choosing to opt out of NOP-directed marine planning can do so,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman.

“ASA is disappointed that the NOP failed to include a broader and more pronounced acknowledgment of the need to designate public access to fishing, boating and other recreational activities as priority uses, consistent with the administration’s ‘America’s Great Outdoors’ initiative.

“Nussman further said, ‘We welcome the plan’s emphasis on better science and data. ASA will continue to press for more pronounced prioritization of fishery data as well as socio-economic data that more clearly reflects who is tapping our ocean resources, their actual impacts on the resources and the economic engines they are fueling.’”

Read more here.