Reel Report: Enlist the kids to build a worm bed

Posted 4/24/20

In this time of change, the Department of Game and Fish would like to encourage anglers to stay home, mend equipment and prepare for the upcoming fishing season. In the weekly fishing report, provided by Dustin Berg of Go Unlimited (supporting disabled anglers) and the Department of Game and Fish, we will be sharing tips and tricks to help you be ready to go on future adventures. Each week we will feature some different flies, lures, activities or cooking recipes that can be done at home.

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Reel Report: Enlist the kids to build a worm bed

Posted

In this time of change, the Department of Game and Fish would like to encourage anglers to stay home, mend equipment and prepare for the upcoming fishing season. In the weekly fishing report, provided by Dustin Berg of Go Unlimited (supporting disabled anglers) and the Department of Game and Fish, we will be sharing tips and tricks to help you be ready to go on future adventures. Each week we will feature some different flies, lures, activities or cooking recipes that can be done at home.

Closure Information

Social distancing is a challenge for all anglers; the itch to go fishing just keeps growing. But this is a time for all New Mexicans to pull together for the overall health of all our citizens and stay home. The department reminds anglers it is their responsibility to be aware of closures and contact land managers for properties of interest when restrictions are lifted.

Removing a hook embedded in the angler

Many anglers, both seasoned and beginners, have accidentally caught themselves instead of their intended targets. We’ve talked about how to remove a hook from a fish’s mouth. Today, we will go over a method for removing a barbed hook embedded in an angler’s skin.

1. Don’t cut the hook. You will need the eye and the shank of the hook to aide in the removal process.

2. Cut about a 1.5-foot long piece of heavy pound test line.

3. Wrap the piece of line around the curved shank part of the hook.

4. Pull the line taut in the opposite direction that the hook enters the skin.

5. Press down on the eye of the hook to disengage the barb of the hook as much as possible.

6. With pressure on the eye of the hook, quickly jerk on the line to pull the hook out of the skin.

Here is a video that demonstrates how to execute this method of hook removal: youtube.com/watch?v=hbFSYpfoX04.

Building a worm bed

This is a fun project for kids and adults alike. Worms reproduce fast, so building an environment for them to thrive and multiply in can produce an ongoing source of fishing bait.

Today, we will use two Styrofoam coolers, one for the worm bed, and one that catches “worm juice,” which is a great source of fertilizer for your garden plants. If you do not want the fertilizer, just follow the instructions for the bed which is the worm bed/top box.

1. Choose a box that is 8 to 12 inches deep for your top box. A Styrofoam cooler with dimensions of at least 2 feet long by 1 foot wide works well. Poke 12 evenly spaced screwdriver size holes in the bottom of the box.

2. Mix shredded newspaper, rich soil and compost in the top box. For compost you can use leftover fruits/vegetables, coffee grounds and eggshells. Water the worm bed until it is nice and moist.

3. Add worms. Worms caught local to where you have your worm bed are a good choice because they have already proven to be successful in the temperature and environment around you. Red wigglers are a popular choice for trout anglers looking for store-bought worms. Night crawlers and earthworms are other options that can also be purchased. Place your worm box in a shady cool spot so that it does not get too hot and dry.

4. Place the second box below the worm bed/top box to capture the juices created by the feeding worms.

5. Keep your worm bed moist and replenish with compost once a week or so. Don’t over compost (the bed should maintain primarily dirt). Check the bottom box for “worm juice” once a week or so. Any juice you have, dilute to the color of weak tea and use to water plants you wish to fertilize.

This video demonstrates the process of creating your own worm bed: youtube.com/watch?v=arb2RX_69uQ.

Tying a pheasant tail nymph fly

The pheasant tail nymph fly generally mimics a wide variety of underwater invertebrate bug species that fish eat. The fly works well in ponds, streams, rivers and lakes, enticing strikes from fish including trout, crappie, carp and bluegill. In New Mexico waters, I have caught many trout using the pheasant tail nymph fly from Cimarrón to the streams and rivers in the Jémez Mountains to the southern mountain high country waters surrounding Ruidoso – and waters in between such as Navajo Lake and Ute Lake where we caught crappie and bluegill.

This is a great beginner/intermediate fly to tie. Here is a video from Stone River Outfitters with instructions on how to create your own fish-catching creation – the pheasant tail nymph: youtube.com/watch?v=RvQkupfNgOs.

Red River trout fishing with bait or fly

I’ve always enjoyed the winding scenic drive from Albuquerque to Red River. You never know if you will see elk, deer, bighorn sheep or bald eagles as you venture north from Santa Fe to Questa along the Río Grande. On the south end of town (Questa) the Red River flows southwest out of the wild steep Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

If traveling north on State Road 522 toward Questa, just before you reach the town, there is a left-hand turn onto State Road 515 that will take you west to the Red River Fish Hatchery. I have found this boulder-laden section of river from the hatchery downstream to the confluence of the Red River and Río Grande to be an excellent place to hone your trout-angling skills.

When I was young, my dad and I would visit Red River multiple times each summer. We’d park at the hatchery and fish our way down to the confluence of the Río Grande. We fished with open spin casting reels that came with a basic rod/reel combo purchase. Our lure of choice was a Panther Martin spinner.

One day, we were fishing and met an older gentleman with a stringer full of trout. We had only caught a couple of small fish and were inquisitive as to what this man was doing that was so successful. He was on his way back to the parking lot but kindly took a moment to visit with us and share his angling technique.

His setup was extremely simple. It was just a small size-8 hook baited with a single salmon egg and a #4 split shot weight crimped onto the line about a foot up from the hook.

The small hook, and the way in which this simple setup is fished, is the key to its success. With only about 6 feet of line extending from the tip of your rod, you carefully sneak along the river’s edge subtly dipping about two to four feet of your salmon egg rig in the slack water behind each boulder.

After dipping your line behind a boulder three or four times you move on to the next boulder – fishing every bit of slack water that could potentially hold a trout protected from the main river current.

My dad and I caught a lot of fish using this technique on that day, and on many other future trips. We hiked a lot of miles along this stretch of river and have seen some incredible sights and beautiful fish. You just never know when you are going to drop your bait behind a rock holding a big hungry trout.

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