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Here's a few tips...knot tying, and Night Crawlers....


jim bielecki
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I came across a good tip I need to follow more often. It has to do with tying on your lures prior to fishing. Anyone who preties their lures should be WARNED! Tieing your lure prior to fishing such as the day before, getting ready for a trip or pretying your rigs is risky business. You are weakening your line every time you tie a knot in your line...the breaking strength of a well tied knot is about 90% of the line weight. When you pretie...you are allowing the knot to dry, if you wet the knot, and become brittle. Pre-tying your lures may have a breaking strength of 70% or less of the original line weight. Best practice is to take your time, and tie your lure the day you are fishing. Make sure you wet the knot with saliva and pull firmly. I've seen my brother make both mistakes...he's confident he tied a good knot and is proud to show me he's pre-rigged and ready to go...but when I test his expertise by pulling on the line and lure he's dumbfounded when it easily breaks. Who know how long he has been ready for a trip...I'm sure the type of line also plays a role however, a good knot tied properly can never be underestimated. The knot IS the last connection between the one that got away or the big one you land. And I don't need to mention to retie often after fishing for a while and look for wear in the line above the hook eye of your lure.

 

My next tip has to do with Night Crawlers...if you are like me and pick up the Spring rain worms, next time try soaking walnut shells in water. Then dump the water in the area where you collect your worms. I guess it's supposed to make more worms come to the surface for the easy pickins.

 

Also be warned...many bait shops import worms from Europe. Quoting Outdoor Notebook, "Minnesota has no native earth worms, angle worms nor night crawlers. they also are not navtive to Michigan the UP and Northern Wisconsin Many of the worms found in Minnesota are actually imports from Asia or Europe. So...with this in mind, just like any other exotic, be sure to throw your unused worm in the garbage rather than on the ground. (ust like minnows it's proper practice to dump them on the shore. ) It turns out that the unwanted earthworm in parts of Minnesota are doing damage to the forest floor and changing the ecology. Once it's there, it's impossible to remove. check the website www.nrri.umn.edu/worms.

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That's a new one to me also. Looking forward to the source info for that one. In the meantime though, while on the subject of knots, I have a few links to some interesting pieces on them.

 

Braided knot strength test article

 

Very cool technical paper

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Brian, great resources!

 

This site quotes that a knot has a breaking strength 50% of the origial strength...

http://www.caves.org/section/vertical/nh/50/knotrope.html

 

Here's a knot you may want to try...

http://www.in-fisherman.com/magazine/guide...2003Sp_Uniknot/

 

Here's some other kinds....

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fishinginmd/knots.pdf

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OK, I'll throw out two more myself.

 

Cool animations, just click on the knot you want to see...

 

Animated knots

 

This second one is kind of sad, but what I found paricularly interesting was the testing that ensued showing that even in cable strand, knots can significantly reduce strength. Ever find a wind knot in your line and fish through it for a while because you didn't want to take the time to retie? Never again for me...

 

knots decrease material strength

 

-BW

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Hi Brian,

 

I marked the animated website as a favorite...thanks for the info! I plan to practice and try out a few before spring gets here.

 

I usually use the clinch knot or the improved clinch...I've gotten really good at it but every now and then I like to broaden my skills a little.

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Jim,

 

Thanks for the link to the earthworm study. I just happened to be in the process of doing some research on this topic because of the ban on live bait in Quetico. This explains the rationale behind the ban on crawlers, now I'm trying to get info on leeches and their potential harm. I spoke at length to the park superintendent and this may come as a shock to some but....... they view the smallmouth as an invasive species in Quetico. They want to see more smallies and fewer walleye, for shore lunch.

 

As far as knots go, I have been using the palomar for at least 30 years. I remember reading that it was one of the few knots that tested stronger than the line itself. Any breakoffs I have had were due to weak spots above the knot.

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I spoke at length to the park superintendent and this may come as a shock to some but....... they view the smallmouth as an invasive species in Quetico. They want to see more smallies and fewer walleye, for shore lunch.

 

Mike, count me among those shocked. I thought smallmouth's pre-Columbian range extended into that area.

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Here is the document you'll want to read: Quetico: Fisheries Stewardship Plan.

 

Warning...this is a large file (4.3MB) so don't link in if you are not on a fast hookup.

 

Anyway, according to this smallies were introduced into the Park in the 1940's and have now been around long enough to be considered naturalized. However, they would still like to manage with increased pressure on the smallmouth fishery. Other non-natives include black crappie, rainbow smelt, spiny water flea and rusty crayfish. Some of these are much more recent in terms of their introduction. A very interesting read if you've got the time (55 pages long).

 

Quick edit: a link to one of my favorite blogs with a discussion on the invasive earthworm deal: Bootstrap Analysis

 

And, I'm also a Palomar knot fan. Only knot I ever tie and been using it for decades now. Reason; one of the few knots that will not slip under pressure.

 

-BW

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Thanks for the link, Brian.

 

Put me down as dubious regarding the "invasive" status of smallmouth bass in Quetico. I agree a "naturalized" invasive should be treated differently from a native species, but Quetico should have had a natural population of smallmouth in the recent past. They're common in the Great Lakes drainage and Minnesota all the way up to the park (although the park is on their northern boundary). Perhaps they are considered invasives only in specific lakes.

 

I wonder too if Quetico is over-extending research done in Algonquin Provencial Park that shows smallmouth bass out-compete and harm lake trout populations in low-nutrient lakes. That research is cited in the management plan.

 

Nobody repeat this, but I hear there is a bias against warm-water fish species in some quarters. ;)

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I like the palomar knot a lot, but it's difficult to tie on flies with it, since you can't easily double the line, and get it through the small hook eye. For flies I use the Improved Clinch Knot. I've found that how you tie the knot, and if you lubricate the line while tightening, has a big effect on breaking strength.

 

One easy way to compare knots that you tie, is to take two hooks and a piece of line. Tie one knot to each of the hooks. Grab the hooks with pliers, and pull. The one that breaks is the loser. Do it a dozen or so times, and you'll find out which knot that you tie has a higher breaking strength.

 

I tried this comparing the improved clinch knot to a knot that was (supposedly) much easier to tie, called the Davey knot. I used SA tippet material. The clinch knot won by a huge margin. I had also read an article about a knot that was reported to have almost 100% breaking strength, called the Eugene Bend. I did the same comparison against the improved clinch knot. The Eugene Bend won the first three tries, but after that the clinch knot won several. A few times the line broke in between the two knots! It eventually turned out to be a tie. I still use the improved clinch knot since, to me, it's easier to tie.

 

At least a couple of times though, both knots broke with significantly lower force. Either I tied it wrong, tightened too fast, or there was a bad spot in the line. I wish I knew why.

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Tim,

 

It is fact that smallmouth are not native to Quetico and most of if not all of the Bwca for that matter. The story that has been handed down for generations now, on how the smallies arrived is that they were originally planted in Lac La Croix in the 1920"s by a resort operator whose name I believe was Bill Zup. There is much speculation as to whether or not he knew what he was stocking. My first trip to the BWCA was way back in 1972, and while a few lakes had smallies, walleye, lake trout and northern were the predominant species. Now smallmouth are just about everywhere and are continuing to expand their range. The locals don't much care for them and blame any decline in the walleye and lake trout populations on smallmouth.

 

When I first heard about the ban on leeches and crawlers, I just about blew a gasket. since I use leeches when I'm up there.

I decided to do some research and find out what scientific justification, if any, there might be for the ban. The links posted on this forum could not have been more timely. After speaking to the park superintendent the other day, and reviewing some info on walleye populations throughout the province of Ontario, I came away with the feeling that the ban was put in place more to limit the harvest of walleye's and to encourage some harvest of smallmouth. When I asked about any research concerning the affect smallmouth have had on the walleye or lake trout populations, he said that they had none.

 

Thanks to Brian for the link to the Quetico management plan. I read through the first half and they make no bones about it. Walleye populations are stressed in several lakes due to a number of reasons, but primarily the motorized guiding by the Lac La Croix Indians, and by a biased harvest favoring the eating of walleye but not of smallmouth. Quetico was supposed to be completely off limits to ALL MOTORIZED TRAFFIC but they caved into demands by the Lac LA Croix tribe about 14 years ago to allow motors on a several select lakes, so that they could earn a living guiding. They did not want to guide by canoe, no, it had to be done by motorized boats. Now they admit to an over harvest problem on those lakes. HMMMMMMM.

 

The ban on leeches and crawlers is not law yet and may not go into effect this year. The outfitters are fighting it so who knows what will happen. The issue about crawlers and worms being an invasive species in the Great Lakes region is a new one to me. One article I read stated that they ASSUME worms and crawlers could not have survived the glaciers, but are conducting research to determine if in fact that is true.

 

Once again, thanks for the links guys.

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It is fact that smallmouth are not native to Quetico and most of if not all of the Bwca for that matter. The story that has been handed down for generations now, on how the smallies arrived is that they were originally planted in Lac La Croix in the 1920"s by a resort operator whose name I believe was Bill Zup. There is much speculation as to whether or not he knew what he was stocking. My first trip to the BWCA was way back in 1972, and while a few lakes had smallies, walleye, lake trout and northern were the predominant species. Now smallmouth are just about everywhere and are continuing to expand their range. The locals don't much care for them and blame any decline in the walleye and lake trout populations on smallmouth.

 

Mike,

 

I'm buying that the fish were spread further and faster than they would have on their own. It would have been better if that had not happened. In those lakes they are "invasive", and they may well be posing problems in specific oligotrophic lakes where they would not normally have occurred. However, if you look at the range maps in Page and Burr's Freshwater Fishes, BWCA and Quetico represent the northern edge of the smallmouth range. I suppose that range map might be wrong. That would surprise me because Larry Page is an expert in the field and his range maps specifically differentiate between native and introduced range. If this source is correct, then smallmouth bass were native to at least some systems in the Quetico area.

 

It might be reasonable to manage smallmouth as a catch and kill fishery in Quetico, but it doesn't seem that they're invasive there the way they are in Idaho or California where they were stocked with biota that have never before had to co-exist with them. Over the scales of hundreds of years, it seems likely that smallmouth would have passed through Quetico a time or two. Species wink in and out of local systems all the time for lots of different reasons. In the 19th century, Stephen Forbes didn't find smallmouth in the Middle Fork of the Vermilion (even though that's ideal smallmouth habitat). They had been pushed out by possibly by siltation from mining and spotted bass, but have returned in force since then. The process of local species turnover occurs more slowly in lakes, but it still occurs.

 

Again, it also seems likely that smallmouth populations would be expanding into new areas in Quetico even if sportfishers had not put them there. With gradual warming, you can expect the smallmouth (and even largemouth) to do better and better in Quetico over time. Those systems are getting appreciably warmer. One of the best indicators of global warming has been the gradual shift of ice cover in lakes in the upper Midwest. Here's a century and a half of data from Lake Mendota.

 

http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~sco/lakes/mendota-dur.gif

 

Here's an article about a global survey of ice out dates, showing an average decline in annual ice cover of 18 days.

 

http://intranet.lternet.edu/archives/docum...all00_pg06.html

 

Northward expansions of warm water fish and contractions of cool water fish ranges are the rule, not the exception these days. Steelhead populations are under stress and declining from heat well into northern Califorina, yet in the last 100 years, they occurred as far south as Baja. Two hundred years ago, some streams in Chicago would have had more brook trout than smallmouth. As temperatures rose and stream quality declined, so did the brook trout. Smallmouth probably contributed to that decline too. We should keep those streams as clean as we can and if it were possible to re-establish brook trout there we should (don't hold your breath)...

 

...but I'm not willing to call smallmouth invasives in Chicago. The term seems only slightly less grating in Quetico.

 

*note...I believe I once told Paul T. that smallmouth bass were non-native in Algonquin and not Quetico, but I notice here that Page and Burr also include Algonqin as part of the native range of smallmouth bass. Those systems may be more similar in character than I realized.

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Here's the dagger to the heart on the smallie question :o . Don't own the book mentioned (Canoe Country: An Embattled Wilderness; Minocqua, Wis., 1991), but might try and get my hands on it. Sounds like an interesting read...

 

Sigurd F. Olson

 

And here are a couple more interesting sites concerning the issue:

 

General smallie intro article

 

Lake Trout - SMB competition

 

-BW

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I've been doing a lot of research into Quetico while planning my 1st trip in 2008. By then some of these proposad management plans like no live bait, barbless, and possibly no lead will be in effect. I think its great that there are still protected places out there that are relatively untouched or altered by man.

 

Much of what I've read puts the introduction of smallmouth to the BWCA/quetico sometime in the early 1900's. Some speculate that the stocked fish came via the trains which were popoular in those days. With many of the lakes connected by river systems it didn't take long for them to spread. Quetico and the smallmouth bass seem like a perfect mirrage even if they were an introduced species. The deep clear lakes with plenty of rocky habitat is perfect for them. For most of the year the smallmouth use a much different habitat area than the lake trout and even the walleye. The smallmouth will no doubt compete with the native species but there may be bigger factors like global warming or selective harvest choices. I think pike taste pretty good if you learn how to do the boneless 5 fillet method.

 

From what I've read nightcrawlers are not native either. I'm not sure what negative impacts worms could have but you hate to mess with a place so prestine. I'm fine with the live bait ban since it should only protect what is already an outstanding fishery. I plan on going in the summer when most species will readily take artificial offerings. Live bait sounds like a hassle anyway when you are portaging and primitive camping.

 

Who's up for a Quetico 2008 trip to help with some fish population studies? It sound like with the new border crossing laws you can't be a convicted felon or even have a DUI on your record to qualify for a RABC (remote area border crossing).

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I suppose I'm going to start looking obstinate here. I might even be wrong. So be it.

 

Much of the land area of BWCA is in the Lake Superior basin. Lake Superior is clearly in the historial range of smallmouth bass. During periods of warmer climate they would have easily entered the drainages adjacent to the lake. During cold periods, they would have winked out again. It would have been harder and less likely for smallmouth to have entered the Hudson Bay drainage, but that's also possible during a warm period.

 

Less than 100 years of anecdotal historical data is barely a tick on the clock for what matters in these systems. Wide-spread stocking of smallmouth bass was not a good idea, but it's just not plausible to me that smallmouth bass were not in that area at some point in the last several hundred years. In the case of what's truly "invasive", hundreds and thousands of years are the appropriate time scale rather than dozens of years. That's because the relevant process that moderate the strength of an invasive event are evolution and natural selection. That's how long it takes evolution to operate. Species that have adapated to each other tend to affect each other less strongly. In this case, these are species that compete along a temperature gradient. Cold favors the lake trout walleye and white fish, warm favors the smallmouth. A natural see-saw of range distributions should have been occurring in the area over thousands of years.

 

Larry Page is no small potatoes when it comes to icthyology ( http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/staff/Page.htm ). I'll trust his range map for now.

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Wow, you have to love a good science mystery/discussion! :D

 

Here is another interesting paper related to the subject: Native and introduced populations of smallmouth bass differ

 

Included on page 41 of the paper is a native range map for SMB from (Robbins, W. H., and H. R. MacCrimmon. 1974. The Blackbass in America and Overseas. Biomanagement and Research Enterprises, Sault Ste. Marie, ON Canada.).

 

It pretty much matches the range map from this site: Discover Life In America though I don't see any crediting for the map to Robbins, et. al. I also have to admit that I haven't seen the L. Page map or details yet to compare to.

 

This whole issue of fine lines between what is native, what is invasive and what is just natural expansion reminds me a lot of the spotted bass issue and their encroachment into many of the river and creek systems. :blink:

 

And not that it matters any in this discussion, but I have been to Quetico a couple times B) , the first trip going back to the early 1980's...and the smallmouth bite was pretty good even back then. Currently the second greatest place I've been to as far as personal wilderness experience is concerned, behind my #1 pick, Alaska.

 

-BW

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This whole issue of fine lines between what is native, what is invasive and what is just natural expansion reminds me a lot of the spotted bass issue and their encroachment into many of the river and creek systems.

 

The Page map is similar to the one you cite, Brian, except it extends the range around the western margin of Lake Superior, Brian. I don't know what data Larry uses to justify that map.

 

The analogy to spotted bass/smallmouth bass is a good one. In this case, it's temperature rather than silt that seems to be the critical environmental factor. If you don't want spotted bass in your stream, limit sediment and erosion. It's interesting to note that some web sites will blame spotted bass range expansions on stocking. Stephen Forbes 19th century data from the Middle Fork of the Vermilion, demonstrates that spotted bass have always been around.

 

I do buy into the "native" vs. "exotic" dichotomy. It's true that the details around the edges are sometimes a bit difficult to sort out. But there are strong biological reasons to care about what came from where. Evolutionarily novel species are more likely to strongly affect ecosystems when they enter them. That can lead to extinctions and disrupt ecosystem function.

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From what I remember IL is at the lower range of the northern pike's natural range. Could continued global warming cause our local pike populations to disappear?

 

Yes, Paul. On average, if the pike we have don't adapt and temperatures continue to rise, they will be under more temperature stress and they will eventually disappear in Illinois. It's not impossible that the pike won't adapt. Some esocids don't mind heat. I used to catch chain pickrel (jack fish they were called), in my native state of Louisiana.

 

There is a substantial amount of research funding being channeled into "global warming" issues like these. They're virtually frantic in California right now trying to deal with heat issues in their already stressed salmonid populations.

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Paul,

 

I'm always up for a BWCA / Quetico trip. It will depend on time, trip length and type of trip. Just added a 57th candle to the cake so I cannot do trips that require travelling every day. Haven't done those for years. Generally set up a trip to move every 2nd or 3rd day. I work hard to stay in shape, but it gets more difficult every year. Spent 10 days up there last year and am going back this year, so these trips are my motivation to continue working out.

 

Quetico is a terrific place once you get beyond the bottom 1/4 of the park. Since most of the traffic goes in from Ely, it gets congested down along the border routes. The top half of the park is paradise. Depending on the route, it's possible not to see anyone for several days. They allow on 1/10th the number of people that the BWCA does. The other great feature is that you can camp anywhere, so you don"t have to worry about racing someone to the last campsite left. Hate to admit it, but I've done it.

 

We will have to talk more. right now I'm off to Salt Lake for a week of skiing, my other passion, which keeps me motivated to stay young. Heck 57 is the new 39.

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