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Mercury Report

Tone Up Those Muscles This Winter and Your Hooksets Will Improve

Hooksets are free."

That is a standard piece of advice proffered to new anglers, essentially telling them if there is any chance a fish is biting, then to set the hook. For the most part, it's good advice for beginners learning the difference between a bite and the lure hanging on grass or the bottom.

Hooksets may indeed be free, but they are not all equal. The proper hookset technique, combined with the optimal amount of force, is built over time.

Personal trainer and avid angler Hunter Hanks initiated Mercury's Angler Fitness series to help anglers experience better results on the water through stretching and strengthening exercises.

"Hooksets are the best part of fishing, and if you don't enjoy them, I don't know why you fish."

It's a bold statement, but for the majority of anglers, it is 100% true. Setting the hook and beginning the fight is when adrenaline kicks in. In addition to being fun, a solid hookset and subsequent tension on the fish is critical to landing it.

The Keys to a Good Hookset

"Fast-twitch muscles are the key," says Hanks, a former college baseball player. "It's not always the biggest people who have the best hooksets. Those who use their fast-twitch muscles the best are the anglers with the best hooksets, just like baseball or golf."

When strengthening the hookset, Hanks encouraged the use of resistance bands. He demonstrated the exercises on his boat's front deck, but they can be performed just about anywhere.

Click here for the #anglerfitness videos.

The key muscle groups in a hookset are the biceps, shoulders, chest, and core. Hanks recommends the following three exercises for improving the physical part of a hookset and the subsequent tension needed to land a fish.

  • Fast-twitch curls
  • Fast-twitch body cross
  • Fast-twitch core rotation

Fast-Twitch Curls

Place the resistance band under the feet with both hands resting at the side. Explode upwards and then slowly lower each arm back to the resting position. This exercise works mainly the biceps.

Fast-Twitch Body Cross

Place the resistance band under the right foot with both hands resting at the side. Explode upwards and across with the left hand across the body and then slowly lower the arm back to the resting position. Repeat with the opposite side of the body. This exercise works the shoulders.

Fast-Twitch Core Rotation

Place the resistance band on a doorknob and extend both arms out in front of the body. Explode in the opposite direction of the doorknob and then slowly return it to the resting position. Repeat with the opposite side of the body. This exercise works the core, chest, shoulders, and biceps.

For all these exercises, Hanks recommends ten sets of one perfect repetition.

“Concentrate on doing the exercises perfectly each time. One “perfect rep” completed ten times keeps our mind concentrated on what we are doing.

"The key with all these exercises is to explode up quickly and then control the bands down," said Hanks. “It's also known as time under tension. 

"I encourage people to work on both sides of their body with these exercises. Sometimes on the water, we are not in a position to set the hook with the same motion every time. The best anglers can set the hook well on the left side of their body and their right.

St. Croix Report

Downsizers Cater to Trends in Musky Fishing

Park Falls, WI - A bucktail spinner was the prototypical lure employed throughout the early decades of musky fishing. In the years since, however, musky terminal tackle has become increasingly diverse and highly specialized. As lure manufacturers cranked out the big, bigger and gigantic baits demanded by musky anglers, St. Croix Rods eagerly owned the mission of designing and selling the equally specialized rods engineered and built to effectively fish every one of them.

Musky enthusiast and St. Croix pro, Chas Martin, has witnessed the evolution of musky fishing. "We're seeing the trend now that anglers are scoring on waters with down-sized presentations. In response, St. Croix has a whole series of rods that cater to these smaller presentations and the design of these rods allows anglers to effectively throw smaller baits ñ cast farther as well as work these lures in the accurate way that's required," Martin says.

The St. Joseph River Valley Fly Fishers will offer a one-day fly fishing workshop designed for women on Saturday, July 20, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The workshop will be a hands-on class featuring the basics of fly fishing including gear and tackle, casting, knots, entomology, and safety. The workshop will be taught on a small pond and students will have the opportunity to hook and land a fish.

All equipment will be provided for the class, although students are welcome to bring their own equipment if desired. Students will need to bring their own water bottle, hat, polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, pen or pencil for note-taking, and a one-day Indiana fly fishing license.

The St. Joseph River Valley Fly Fishers (SJRVFF) will host a “Beginner Fly Tying Course” beginning Thursday, Feb 14.

The course includes seven classes for tying proven fly patterns for the local area and beyond. Instructors Dustin New and Jeff Stanifer will cover fly tying tools and materials and how to use them to create a wide range of patterns.

Classes will be held each week at the South Bend Kroc Center Bend from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

The class cost for nonmembers of the SJRVFF is $30.00 but includes a club membership fee. SJRVFF will supply all the tools and materials to tie during the class. Interested students can sign up the night of the class or contact New for more information by calling him at 574-299-4914.

Fly Fishers’ Tie-a-thon to Benefit Kids at Camp; Tiers Needed!

Fly tiers from various Fly Fishers International and Trout Unlimited Clubs from around the Great Lakes region will come together next April for the 13th annual Tie-a-thon to tie and donate flies to Camp Kita and the Mayfly Project, both of which are groups that cater to youths.

The event is being held at the Elkhart, Ind. Conservation Club, which has donated their use of their facility again. More than 113,000 flies from previous Tie-A-Thons have been donated since the first Tie-a-thon was held.

Attendance isn’t required to help out. As the Tie-a-thon has done in previous years, flies will be accepted from individuals who are willing to donate their time and materials and finished flies for this year’s two worthy causes.