IN THE THICK OF A FIGHT By Louie Spray When you are fighting a fish, always keep your rod at a right angle to the fish so that the spring of the rod protects your line when the fish lunges straight away from you, thus warning you to release your thumb from the spool. Never completely release your thumb but always keep a good stiff drag on the reel. Make him earn any line he wants. Suppose he is taking out line: With your rod at a good right angle, jerk him hard, at the same time slipping your thumb so as to protect your line. These jerks should be at the rate of about one every second. Remember, never let your rod point straight out toward the fish, he might snap your line. When a fish is taking out line, always keep your free hand away from the crank of the reel. Now, we'll say the fish is out there away from you, 70 to 90 feet, or any distance, for that matter, and all of a sudden he comes right toward you. This is IMPORTANT: don't just start reeling like mad, but, rather, get the line between your thumb and first finger, just ahead of the reel, and put a slight tension on the line to keep it from rolling up on the reel loose. If you just reel it in a big hurry, there will be loose line on the reel and then when he hits it, your line will cut into the loose spool, you might get a snarl and the fish might break your line. JUST A WORD ABOUT FOLLOW-UPS What makes a fish follow up and 'not strike? I wish I knew! I know nothing to tell you to do about it but to use every bait in your tackle box on them. I have done this already without success, but I have on occasions had them hit by changing baits. Don't make a dozen casts or so-give the spot a good working over if you have found a fish. If nothing happens, leave there for an hour or so and come back to it. Or come back later on in the day or evening because you found yourself a fish, now stick with him. The percentage is with you. And if muskies aren't doing anything, fish for something else-pan fish-anything to keep you happy. Then later on try for them again, but don't quit! The main thing is to keep that bait in the water. Editor’s Note: Remember, when Louie wrote this article he did not have the reel technology available to him that we have today.