Creating Your Own Bucket Rod Storage System


Its closing in on tournament time for me, in a couple of weeks will be heading off to Minnesota for the North American Ice Fishing Circuit, or a little bit less of a mouthful, the NAIFC. Over the years I have gone through several ice rod ideas as far as what works best for me and the style of fishing I do, the one constant has been my bucket rod holders.  I just reorganized for the first time in six years, and I am pretty happy with the results.

Spinning Bucket

Spinning Bucket


One of my buckets is set up for rod combinations that have spinning reels on them.  Why spinning reels?  Because there are certain applications where I think spinning combinations work best. Best example would be fishing in deep water where I want to get down to where the fish are fast.  Yes, spinning reels have, or better yet, will add line twist to your overall presentation.  What I do is this, let the bait free fall until about 10 feet above to where I see them on the Vexilar.  At this point its time to close the bail on the reel, and hand strip the line out of the tip of your rod down to where the fish are.  What this does is allow you to work out some of the spin before reaching the fish.  What little is left can be controlled by the jigging action.  A good pounding of the rod tip will stop your bait from spinning if your line is not completely twisted.

For shallow water bites, its hard to beat the Schooley reel.

Schooley Bucket

Schooley Bucket

By reorganizing my rod holders, I was able to add three more for a total of 12 in the bucket.  Not only did I add, but organized them in a better system overall.  The four to $5.00 Schooley reel is the original tightline reel in ice fishing. Combined this with my first bucket, and I am hitting the ice with 22 to 23 rods rigged and ready to roll.

Any 5 gallon bucket will do, and you need to get some 1 and 1/4 inch PVC tubing.  Most hardware type stores carry it for something like 6 bucks per 10 foot sections.  Measure, and cut per roughly 5 inch sections.  For an accurate measurement, you can message me on Facebook, or email me at

1.25 inch PVC

1.25 inch PVC

From there, you need to notch a reel slot into the PVC, and I used a rotary tool to clean it up.  A drill press works best for making your holes.  Also, drill down below in order to fit a screwdriver through to bolt in the holder to the side.  Drill a smaller hole on the backside, just match up the small drill bit with the bolt you will use for mounting to the side of the bucket.  You can mount in a bucket holder, or combine your bucket with a milk crate fastened to  your machine.

Whether you fish with two dozen rods, or a half-dozen, this bucket style rig is the best for heading out on the ice!

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Ice Fishing, Ice Products | Leave a comment

The Clam Tackle Pouch

Of all the new items Clam Outdoors has introduced this year, perhaps the most overlooked may be the new Tackle Pouch.

Clam Tackle Pouch

Clam Tackle Pouch


As small as the item is, it could also be one of their best sellers this season.  The pouches come in three sizes, to fit the smallest panfish jig, up to your favorite walleye spoon or swimbait.  It helps prevent tangles, secures the bait from getting loose, protects your lures from wearing out or getting chipped, and most importantly in my book, getting snagged.

I love fishing the panfish circuits, but when February rolls around, I am itching to get out on Lake Erie and hunt some trophy sized walleye.  Most of the rods I use are 30 inches or longer so I use types or rod cases like Clam’s Rod Tube and Rod Lockers, it pays to protect your investment.  I usually wrap my smaller rod combinations in a towel in the locker style case, and that can lead to getting the baits getting stuck in the towel,  which to me, wastes precious fishing time.  Rod tube style cases, where I try to pack two rods in,  have man-made wool type cushioning in them, and if the bigger baits get loose, that leads to another headache.

Tackle Pouch saves me from all those troublesome tangles. Keeps me fishing longer, and in the long run, puts more fish on the ice.  Unlike most open water pouches, these are really economical because for a little over $4.50 per package, you get three pouches..  It’s an easy win/win decision!

Copyright, 2015


Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Lake Erie, Panfish Fishing, Perch Fishing, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Condensation in Your Shanty

From time to time, I have people ask me about condensation building up inside their shanty.  I smile, and say, “You have a really,  well-built shack.”  I get a puzzled look in return, and then I explain it’s all about balance. You need to balance outside temps with inside temperatures, and the good news….it really is an easy fix.


Everyone knows I fish with Clam products, have been since I started fishing tournaments way back in 2001.  When you have warm air inside, and cold air outside, it is going to produce moisture.  Its like two weather fronts colliding and producing rain or snow.  It really is a testament to how well Clam products are constructed, if the material used was inexpensive, then the warm air would escape, and you wouldn’t have to worry about moisture build up.


I did speak about balance, and within that concept lies the solution.  Each Clam or Fish Trap type shelter has built-in vents.  Often they are sealed with Velcro, near the top of the shack.  Depending on the temperatures outside, open the vent accordingly to achieve the comfort needed versus being cold, or too warm inside.

Often condensation develops while a heater is being employed inside.  Why not, everyone wants to fish in comfort. All you have to do is find that balance between indoor, and outdoor temps.  Simply open enough of your vent up to balance your comfort level and you will not have condensation on the material of your tent.


When they were first included into the construction of the shelter, everyone thought that the vents were there to avoid carbon monoxide from building up inside your shack.  They were, but that was far from the only reason.  When you consider the layers of clothing available, the use of  propane heaters, which both produce heat, use that vent to create the ideal fishing experience.  Not only will you have more fun while out on the ice, but you will avoid having that moisture from raining down on your head while you are catching fish.


Copyright, 2015


Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Selling: Clam Universal 3-Pt Auger Mount

I am selling a Universal 3-Pt Auger Mount, made by Clam Outdoors.  It is new in box (NIB).  Heavy duty materials, will last and last.  It retails for $60, and asking $40 for it, will take some offers.  Pick-up only, and can meet in the Dundee-Monroe, MI area.


You can email me at

or message me on the Fishing Michigan Facebook page.

Copyright, 2015

Posted in For Sale | Leave a comment

The 2016 Build: Clam’s Yukon X Thermal

I thought long and hard this year on which Clam I was going to get for the 2016 hard water season.  Slowly building up to the point where I can take multiple clients and guests ice fishing, but really wanted something just for me.  Studied the website, and wore out the pages on last year’s Clam catalog, and just when I thought I had it all figured out, BOOM…they come out something new to throw a wrench into my well laid plans, the Yukon X Thermal.  Within an hour or so, I knew this was going to be it for this year!

Clam's Yukon X Thermal

Clam’s Yukon X Thermal

I got it home, with a plan in mind, this baby was going to be all mine.  With a little subtraction, as in not installing the second seat, I would make this into the ultimate single seat Lake Erie walleye shack.  Roomy, warm due to the thermal insulation built into the tent and coupled with the  tough constructed tub, and runners for added protection.  Install the tow kit, and I would be ready to rock on the lake this year.


The build started outdoors, notice the orange contraption on the left, that is a hydraulic table, which makes transporting a large box an easier task.  Is the table a must, of course not, but it sure makes things simpler when you are doing everything by yourself.  Saw horses are a good idea, everything is easier to build when they are elevated to your level.

Clam Runner Kit

Clam Runner Kit



There are things you need to install before you start putting the shanty together, like the runner kit.  Whenever I am helping customers pick out a shanty, the #1 suggestion is to buy the runner kit.  You add years to even the toughest built tub, but if you buy later, after the shanty has been put together,  you are asking for a headache while trying to install it.

Clam Tow Hitch

Clam Tow Hitch

Another accessory I like to install before the rest of the shanty is the Universal Tow Hitch,  again its just easier to do before the rest of the hardware is installed.  You have two choices here, either buy the universal or pick up the new Pro Series Tow Hitch.  Here is my thoughts on this matter, you plan on un-hooking your shack, and moving it around, then the Pro Series with its handle is for you.  For me, this would have a great application for when I fish with my Kenai Pro and am moving from hole to hole panfishing.  My personal style on the big water is just leave everything hooked up to the Bearcat and make sure the backside of the shack is facing the wind.  Even with a thermal, every little bit helps.


That is why I went with the Universal Tow Hitch.  They are TOUGH, and easy to install.  Since I will never be using the tow rope, I patched up the holes with some heavy-duty duct tape on the outer shell of the tub.  I made the mistake of installing the rope on my Voyager TCX, the rope would slide out and drag under the shack while traveling, or even just that little bit of distance between the circumference of the hole, and when the rope is installed, will allow just enough snow or slush in to make things a mess when you get back home.


Next up, install the side plates for mounting the tube frame, and the crossbar for mounting the seats later.  This is probably the easiest part of the build.  The directions are dead on, and easy to do while on the horses.


The speed clips, where were these when I bought my first Fish Trap Pro?  These clips make opening and closing the shack a dream.  Also, very easy to install when putting the rest of the framework in place.  Note this though, go ahead and install the top sections, but leave the front hoop off until you are ready to install the tent.  Remember, you do need to slide that hoop section through the front sleeves of the tent.  It’s just much easier to do before installing the clips.  Not that I did it or anything….guilty.


Next up the seat, perhaps the best piece of advice here is to rotate the base of the swivel plate 90′, it just makes everything easier to work with.  Why the hammer, every build needs a hammer!  Actually, this was just for the plastic inserts for the seat’s cross poles.  These allow you to move the seat back and forth, and they are somewhat of a tight fit.



The seat is installed, the only thing I haven’t done yet is to install the Deluxe Seat Cushions that strap into place.  I never thought I would need cushions like this, but they are so nice, I even pt them on the seat in my Kenai Pro.  Luckily, with this model, they come as part of the package.



Even though I decided to make this into a roomy one seat shanty, I figured why not make myself an extra storage compartment of sorts.  By simply not installing the hardware for the second seat, I still made use of the frame and sling. Its stays at arm’s reach, and I can easily move it from one side of the seat or the other.  I can use it for extra tackle or even lunch.


The molding that goes around the back and sides of shack, this material is really stiff and hard to work with.  Strongly suggest having a hair dryer handy, or as another alternative soaking in hot water as stated in the directions.  Even though the booklet suggested starting in the middle of the tub and working your way out to each side, this wasn’t really easy.  After measuring the molding, and the distance to be folded in, I started on the side, and worked my way around.  My starting point was right where the skirts starts for shoveling snow around to keep the wind out.  I was well in the area the directions told me to be, and still had plenty leftover where I needed to cut some off with some strong shears.  No worries, they say you have to trim a little bit.


There she is, my new Clam Yukon X Thermal, or as I like to call it, my new Lake Erie Walleye Special!  There is only one more thing that needed to be installed, and they are a must for traveling at high speeds across any body of water, the Travel Cover.

Yukon Travel Cover

Yukon Travel Cover


The covers do everything; keep your gear dry, keep everything safe from falling out, and also for storage at the end of the season.  Just be sure everything is dry before saying good bye for the final time to the 2016 season.  The last thing you want is that mildew smell when you break it out for 2017.

Copyright, 2015




Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Fishing the Saginaw River



Just got back yesterday from Bay City, where I was fishing the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club‘s Fall Classic tournament on the river.  It’s one of the reasons there haven’t been too many posts in the last week and a half.  I used the tournament as an opportunity or as a good excuse to head upstairs into the shop and pour some jigs.

Do-It Walleye Jig Mold

Do-It Walleye Jig Mold

I used Matzuo hooks with the Walleye Jig mold from Do-It.  I poured three sizes, 3/8ths, 1/2 and 5/8ths ounce.  Just to cover the sizes I would use on the Saginaw River.  Why the walleye head, over a round ball, because the jig head is shaped like a “V”, and cuts through the water column easier.


TJ's Tackle Powder Paint

TJ’s Tackle Powder Paint

After pouring the jigs, I busted out the powder paint, fluid bed and toaster oven.  All the powder paint supplies are from TJ’s Tackle, located right here in Michigan.  I chose to do 6 standard colors, the John Deere Green that I mix myself, and something new for this tourney.  By the way, new for 2016, I was informed that JD Green will be available on their website for tying up this popular color for the Lake Erie jig bite.


I created a paint scheme that would match up with a popular Fin-S Minnow color, Blue Ice.  I did this by taking Candy Blue powder, and just painting the head above what could be called the lateral line on the jig head.  If you have seen freshly poured lead, you know that the metal is pretty shiny, so I took some clear coat powder that I had previously added sparkle flake to, and clear coated the whole jig.  This kept the silver type shine alive under the paint, and also mimicked the type of blue shiner popular in the area.  Sometimes it does pay to learn some information about the area you are fishing in.


Here are some of the combinations I used near the Independence Bridge while pre-fishing on Day 2 of the trip.  Although either rod combination of my St. Croix rods will do the job nicely, when I am fishing with two rods at the same time, I do like to use one set at a time.  Its a weight and balance thing for me personally. Although each of the rods per series has the action I wanted for jigging, they have slightly different feels to them while fishing.  So I would either be using a combination of my Avid medium x-tra fast rods, or my Legend Tournament Walleye rods at once.  In one hand (my left), I will fish the 6’3″, and in my right, will fish the 6’8″ rod.  There is a method to my madness on occasion, and in this case, it’s about keeping the rods separated while jigging in order to avoid tangles.


While trying to hide the location, my head got chopped off in this pic of the 8.6 lb fish caught while pre-fishing on Day 1.  It was caught on the upstream side of the Indy Bridge.  Although you can see a pretty good landmark in the background, it doesn’t matter when big brother has an eye in the sky, or in this case the drawbridge operator.


Stuff happens as they say, and you can’t do much about it!


Regardless, we caught some pretty good fish on Day 1, and had some pretty good hopes of things to come.  In the pic above is the self-dubbed Church Tackle Mafia, the tournament name we chose for our team. Myself on the left, and my partners Terri Boyd and Ken Clark on the right.  Good crew, under a good captain in that Ken is an actual charter captain and runs Fishmas Charters.


We caught some fish on Day 2, and had a pretty good game plan for tourney day on Saturday.  Not sure if it was the front that moved in along with wind and rain, or the fact that the water level seemed to be down about a foot from the previous two days, but we only managed two keeper fish for the weigh-in.


Again, it’s always a good idea to keep alert for those who might be watching you.  Or in this case, a very diligent tournament director, and club president Laura Shorkey.  She was just making sure that her “man” was safe while with our motley crew.  Terry was kind enough to show us around and act as our guide during pre-fishing, and joined us on Saturday, plus he caught one of the fish we weighed in.


Great trip, better people to fish with, lots of work, and really looking forward to doing it again!

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Saginaw Bay, Tournament News, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

The New “Across the Ice Belt” Series

There are fishing shows, and then there are fishing shows dedicated to walleye or even panfishing, but rarely do  you have a show available such as, “Across the Ice Belt”.  This one is strictly ice fishing, and not just fishing in Minnesota or Wisconsin, but literally across the ice belt.  Yes there will be panfish, but also walleye, trout, perch and big trophy pike.


Here is the link to the first show:  Across the Ice Belt: Red Lake Walleye


They are also available on the Ice Team website for 10 days following the day it aired, or you can go to YouTube, and follow the Ice Team for every episode.

That is all the info you need to find the episodes, but what are you getting back when you watch each show?  You get information and techniques from real people that make up the Ice Team.  Example in the Red Lake episode, you get to learn from fellow Ice Team member Matt Breuer who is top notch; good guy, a guide and all around outdoor type.  Have known Matt for several years, and look forward to seeing him each year when we go to Clam’s Pro Day in Rogers, MN.  Jeff Anderson is the host, and will be traveling across the belt, and sharing experiences with other members of the team. You will get some timely tips through out each episode from other members, including Dave Genz, who truly is the father of modern day ice fishing.


Copyright, 2015



Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Television Coverage | Leave a comment

Jigging Rap Sale Offer

Was going through my email this afternoon and found the latest update from the website  If you have been thinking about icing big walleye this winter out on Lake Erie, they have the sale for you.  Buy 3, get the fourth Jigging Rap free! With the new colors now out for the 2016 season, it works for getting a few new colors to try out and saving some money at the same time.


Even though the best sizes for the last couple of last winters were on the small side for what is normally run on Lake Erie, it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of an arsenal of Jigging Raps on hand when out on the ice.  Size #3 and #5’s were hot the last few years, this year it could be back to normal (#7’s and #9’s).  Why the disparity, well kind of giving away one of my tips/tricks, but I believe when there is open water, the current below can be wind driven.  When the entire lake is under a cover of ice, less current equals the need to carry the smaller sizes with you.

The sale is a good deal, and they offer free shipping on orders of $50.00 or more…score!

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Tip for Storing Planer Boards

IMG_3813Just a quick note about storing your planer boards away for the winter.  And yes, I know we have months before the hard water closes the trolling season, but the thought popped into my had this morning, so before I forget to bring it up, here we go.

Church Tackle TX-22

Church Tackle TX-22

For show and tell purposes, going use the pictures I took with the phone of one of my TX-22 inline boards from Church Tackle.  The normal running position, if you were looking at the back of the board as a clock dial, would be the 6 or 7 o’clock position. 7 o’clock is for most crankbaits, but will dail it up a little for high action lures like Rapala’s TD-11 Deep Taildancer and go to the bottom of the clock position.


At the end of the year, it is a good idea to back off the pressure on your double action flag system.  Even though they say you can go to 180 degrees before the spring will be damaged while running in the water, think of your board as a fishing reel.  When you store your reels, you back off the tension on the drag so the drag doesn’t take a set, this is the same principle.  Why keep a load on the spring over the winter, get more life out of it by putting it at the 9 o’clock position with the adjustment lever.


It will add years to the life of the system, and detecting bites will be a snap, a spring loaded one!

Copyright, 2015


Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Coming Soon on Lake Erie, the Fall Crank Season!

Its almost time to put away the perch gear and break out the trolling gear for Lake Erie’s fall cranking season.  The last chance before the ice locks up the lake to catch a trophy walleye!  What do you need to get the job done, the answer is lots of stuff, but the good news is that you probably have most of it already.


There are some things you need to do though before you get started.  The first thing I like to do before the bite starts is to put fresh line on the Daiwa’s.  I do it every spring, but think about it,  we have been fishing as early as March and then continued on through the summer months before breaking out the perch rods.  That is lot of fish, a few tangled lines ago, and why risk losing a fish of a lifetime to save a few bucks.  Go out, get a couple thousand yards of fresh line, and spool those reels up!


Next up, and this is really simple, take a look at your terminal tackle.  What I mean by this is take the time to inspect your snaps.  I like using 30 lb, duolock snaps at the end of my line, the round bend of snap allows my baits to have a little extra action versus a snap that comes to a point in its bend.  In a good year, where the action is more like catching, than fishing, the metal can fatigue and weaken.  Take a look, and if there is even a question, change out the snaps for fresh ones, like re-spooling your reels, in the grand scheme of things we are just talking about pennies.


Also, take the time to inspect your rods.  You put them through the grinder every season and things happen.  Case in point, I just had an eye on one of my St. Croix Premier Glass 8′ trolling rods repaired.  Something happened to where the insert busted out.  Couldn’t tell you when the damage was done, but these rods are my babies, none better for trolling my Church Tackle planer boards.  In most cases, this would be the extreme, but look for nicks in the carbon fibre and specially around the eyes themselves.  You don’t want the line to catch and get frayed to the point where you lose a fish.

You are probably catching on already, but a lot of these points I am bringing up is your basic preventive maintenance.  Its just good to do a lot of these things now before you really want to use  your equipment.  Its like taking a snowblower into the shop now, instead of waiting until its December when the repair guy is so backed up it will be weeks before you see it again.


I also like to get down my TX-22 planer boards and TX-007 stern planers from Church Tackle.  Just to inspect the wire, pins and springs. Again, “stuff” happens, and its a good thing to make sure these tools are good to go for the upcoming season.

IMG_20150130_095957988Last year I splurged on updating my mapping gear for the GPS and purchased the Navionics+ chip.  The great thing about this particular chip is that I can go back and actually update it.  You literally can go to Navionics website, and get the latest information for the lakes you fish!  So I will be going back here shortly and getting the download and will be ready for the season!


Finally I get to check out my collection of Hot Wheels, I mean crankbaits!  Literally it does bring back that old feeling I had as a kid, maybe that is just one reason I enjoy fishing so much, it keeps me young, at heart at least!  In the near future I plan on covering more of the cranks used for this time of year, but for now, just remember to glance through your boxes and check your treble hooks.  If a particular lure is hot one season, they get used a lot, when they get used a lot, every once in a while its a good idea to replace a treble hook here and there.  Not sure which hooks the factory installs, contact them.  I did earlier this year after the spring bite, my hot bait was a Deep Husky Jerk (DHJ-12), I knew the size, but not the model number.  I emailed Rapala, and they were as friendly, and as helpful as could be.  Just to be on the safe side, I ordered a couple packs of 25 and should be ready for years to come.

Big Eye Custom Lures

Big Eye Custom Lures

Besides just inspecting your treble hooks, its also a good time of the year to stock up on your baits.  You might lose a few here and there, but there might be some new colors coming out too, beat the rush and get your orders in.  If its a factory color, this is the time of the year that most have full inventories.  Think about it, most of the anglers are weekend warriors and put their boats away after Labor Day, and the demand goes down, but the shelves get topped off and the websites stock back up.  Get the lures now, before the bite starts.   Your custom guy, like the guy I go to (Big Eye Custom Lures) has time to fill custom orders, and is making sure the website has all the hot colors ready to roll.   It is the snowblower analogy all over again.


Check the gear, even make a checklist.  Once Halloween is over, the water will really start to cool down and the big fish will come back and then its game on.  Then the hunt will be on for that elusive 14 pounder to come out of Michigan waters.  After several 12’s couple of years ago, want to skip right over 13 lbs. and go for the big pigs, and the gear will be ready!

Copyright, 2015


Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Ice Fishing, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment