By Louie Stout
One of the most overlooked fish at Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park is the hybrid striped bass (also known as a wiper), a fish that grows fast and fights hard.
Indiana DNR Biologist Tom Bacula conducted a survey there last fall and came away impressed.
“There are crazy good numbers,” he said. “The wipers are doing fantastic and growing fast.”
The majority of the fish Bacula captured in a netting project were 19 to 22 inches and weighed 3 ½ to 5 pounds each.
“We had one that was 29 inches and weighed 11½ pounds,” he added. “There’s a ton of fish out there.”
Despite good populations at Worster, the fish isn’t getting much pressure, probably because most people don’t know how to fish for them.
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.
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.
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
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.