A Nice Modification to your Fish Trap!

Last year Clam Outdoors introduced a great feature to their flip-over style Fish Trap ice shanties, a layer of grey inside their tubs.  What this did was make anything that might fall into the sled while fishing easier to locate against the lighter background.  It was such a big hit, that this year they added it on to some more models, and next year more models will have the feature also.

This year, I picked up my first single man Fish Trap upgrade in more than 10 years.  Although I loved my original Pro shacks, I wanted to be even more efficient on the ice, so in order to avoid extending poles, I went with the new Kenai Pro.  This shack is the one for me for several reasons.  Two features make it a sight fisherman’s dream; the higher seat makes looking down the hole easier than ever, and without the quilted thermal material offered on a lot of models, no excessive light gets in.  That is a must for sight fishing!  Another feature is simply the height of the tent itself, even when I am not sight fishing, I don’t have to worry about snapping rods on the hook set when you have those days when the wind is whipping and it is brutally cold outside!

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That said, the grey interior on the sled is not offered on this model …. yet!  So, I borrowed the idea of fellow Clam pro staffer Steve Berry, and decided to make it happen on my own.  My first choice for painting the tub was DuPont’s Fusion paint, because it bonds to plastic.  My local ACE Hardware only had it in white and I thought that would be too bright.  After talking to one of the helpful employees, I went with this Rust-Oleum product which also works on plastic, and it came in “Winter Grey”, perfect!

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Anytime I am putting one of my new shanties together, a pair of saw horses are a must.  Way back in the day, when I had an apartment, I would use the kitchen table.  When company would come over, I must say I did get some strange looks when they saw a shanty on the kitchen table!  Anyway, the saw horses are a big help and makes the job a whole lot easier when you can work with an elevated platform.

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First I dry wiped any large particles of dirt out of the sled, then took some glass cleaner to get any small fragments out before applying the paint.  I let that dry for about 20 minutes, and then applied blue tape, the kind for painting to avoid any overspray.   That was easy to do, even for me and I strongly dislike taping things off.

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The painting process itself was fairly easy.  I shook it up the can for several minutes, and once I started painting just kept the can moving constantly to avoid any runs of excess paint.   I will say this though, I would install the runners that protect your tub’s bottom first.  Unfortunately I had two things working against me, during our packing back from Clam’s HQ in Rogers, MN, my runners got put into my buddy’s shanty box, so I have to wait a few days for the installation.  The other factor, to be honest…I couldn’t wait to see the outcome, I just had to paint it right away!

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Loved the outcome, and even if I did not have the runners to install before putting the rest of the shack together, I would suggest adding another coat.  One reason, the paint was priced really reasonably at around $4.00 a can, and the other reason, if it looks this good with only one coat, it should look twice as good with the application of another layer.  The more I think about it, for right around $15 bucks total, I just might add a third coat.

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If you love the idea that Clam introduced last year, and the shack you want doesn’t have the grey interior option yet, or even if you want to give your old Trap an upgrade, here is your fix.  On the older shelters, I would take as much of the hardware off as you can, bust out the old Sunday paper and a lot more tape before applying your coats of paint.  You don’t want to take off your tent, you already have it secured around the lip of the tub.  Tape and paper as best you can before getting started. Ideally, you start out with a new tub, and who knows, you might love your shack, but if your tub could use replacement, Clam has those too!

Copyright, 2014

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

Good Morning … from Minnesota!

Ice fishing is literally around the corner, from where I am sitting this morning that is.  Here in Rogers, MN, you will find the new home of Clam Outdoors, which was actually built last year.  Not familiar with the name, then you haven’t been in an outdoor store during the cold weather months and have not seen all the blue ice fishing shanties on display.

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Here I am, down in the breakfast area of the local Super 8, waiting for the time to come around to go to our Ice Team Pro Day.  Its a combination of talking ice fishing, which is always a good thing,  and getting aquainted with all the new ice fishing items that Clam will have to offer for the 2014-2015 season.  There is a lot of new gear in store for the upcoming season!

Most of the new items are up on the website now:  www.clamoutdoors.com .

You can get a sneak peak of all the new gear on the webite now, get an idea of what you are looking for way before you head into the stores to go shopping this fall.  Actually, quite a few retail stores are starting to get their ice fishing gear in right now, and some are even starting to get their ice sets out on the floor with more to come soon.

With that teaser for the rest of the day, its time to head back to the room and get ready to tackle the rest of the day.  More to come!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing Seminar: Topics of Discussion…Part 3

To use spreaders or not, that is the question!

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In most cases, my answer is a resounding no! But, there is always a “but” to every fishing philosophy.  And, in some cases there is a place for spreaders in my perch fishing arsenal. Sometimes the perch themselves dictate that action, while most times it is the style of fishing that guides me.

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If you are employing a rod holder, or using multiple rods like you can in Ohio (2) or Michigan (3) they can be very useful.  If holding both rods, then I will almost always prefer the rig.  Again, let the perch dictate what they want, and in some regards the wind and waves as well.

When the wind is kicking, I like the rig over the spreader.  You can use the rod to keep in contact with the bottom with the rig.  With a spreader, specially in a holder, then the spreader is going crazy and can end up being a tangled mess when you bring it up to check your bait. On calmer days, while using a holder, then the spreader tends to be much more effective.

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This is the one type of spreader you will never find on my boat, or in my perch fishing arsenal.  Changing your weights is crucial in order to be effective.  Having a standardized spreader to fit all situations is limiting your yellow belly catching potential.  Some days when they want the spreader, but are biting light, they want to mouth the bait a bit before taking it all in.  If  you are using a heavier weight, then they tend to spit it out because they can feel the weight.  Another good thing about lighter weights when it comes to spreaders is that the current can be strong enough to push out of that perpendicular alignment.  This allows the spinners a little more action, which can attract perch in.

I like to have a variety of weights with me.  When it comes to the spreaders though, my range of weights goes to the lighter side.  3/8ths to 3/4 oz gets the job done, with 1/2 and 5/8ths in between, I have just about every possibility covered.

Tomorrow, rigs and why I like them best!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing Seminar: Topics of Discussion…Part Deux

10610679_10203797745775484_5864171300943625998_nYesterday I started discussing potential topics for a perch fishing seminar I am going to be doing for the Huron River Sportfishing Club.  The first discussion was on minnow care, a key to any successful perch fishing trip. Next up on my “weapons list” would be the rod and reel component of perch fishing.  Since the line is so important, will talk about that too. Perch fishing is all about the feel.  Feeling your sinker on the bottom, and either the slightest nibble or that jack hammer attack when it comes to setting the hook. The first area to be addressed would be rod selection.  Now this is more of a personal choice and I prefer an ultra light or light action rod.  I use spinning rods from St. Croix’s Premier series.  An Avid or Legend would be sweet, but the Premiers do the trick nicely.

They work well with a 750 or 1000 sized spinning reel. Speaking of reels, a decent drag is required, but necessarily a high dollar one.  Something in the $50 to $70.00 range would be plenty.  In some cases, depending on the bite, you really wont use the drag, or you will want to keep it tight and just jerk them up as possible.

In my book, spooling your reel with a non-stretch braid is essential! While working in conjunction with your rod and sinker, your line will be like an early detection device.  Literally telegraphing every action taking place on the bottom of the body of water you are fishing.  Since in most cases boats are anchored, line diameter is not an issue.  In fact a little overkill is not a bad thing.  Because braids are much thinner than monofilament counterparts, anywhere from 8 to 15 lb will do the job nicely.  At the most you are looking at a 6 lb diameter, and with the thicker lines, than say a 5 lb braid, you wont have to change out the braid as often as the smaller test lines. Lets face it, braided line is not cheap!

More tomorrow on perch topics.

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing Seminar: Topics of Discussion

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Here it is September, and I have been asked to do a perch fishing seminar for the Huron Valley Sportfishing Club in a couple of weeks.  So I started thinking on the topics for the presentation for the members.  Its perch fishing after all; drop an anchor and put line in the water…pretty straight forward stuff.  Or is it….

…think about it.  What makes one boat more successful than others out on the water.  Well first off, you have to find the fish.  Really there is no rhyme or reason, sometimes you are in a group, or as we joke about, a flotilla of boats, and sometimes you are best off to strike out on your own, away from the packs.  Some areas will continue to produce year after year, other spots only stay active for a few days.  That part of it is a crapshoot, pay attention to the winds and temperatures and you can make some decent educated guesses though.

There are several factors though that can help you catch more fish, and keep things a little more manageable.   Here is the first of many installments.

1) Keep your bait frisky!  Although on a hot bite, perch don’t seem to pay attention to whether your bait is alive or dead.  When the perch are tight-lipped though, it pays to have your minnows alive and wiggling.  That wounded baitfish action will pay dividends.  Several things that you can do, to keep minnows alive are:

A.  Have an insulated bucket, love my buckets from Clam!

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Love having three buckets, the big two gallon bucket is where I keep the bulk of the minnows.  The two smaller buckets are for the anglers to keep a small scoop or two at the ready.  If you can keep the majority of the minnows cool, then the fresher they stay.

B. Little bottles of frozen water.  Those small 16 ounce bottles that everyone drinks, well keep a few of them after they have been drained.  Fill them to 3/4 full and freeze.  Works great in keeping the water cool, and it goes a long way in keeping the shiners alive.

C.  Bubbler, you have to keep pumping the water full of air.  If you don’t want a bunch of floating minnows, then an aerator is a must have.  I have been using Metal Marine products for years, and the B3 has a battery life of 85 hours!

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More tomorrow where additional equipment will be talked about!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Vexilar’s New DVR-100…You can take movies on your Fish Scout Camera

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The last few years I have seen Vexilar roll out one hit after another.  The FL-20 flasher, the Fish Scout camera systems, and then the revolutionary FLX-28 flasher with so many new features.  The company has been popping out some sweet accessories as well, upgraded ice ducers like the Pro View,  and the DD-100 which allows anyone not using the FLX-28 to get a digital reading of how deep the water is where you are fishing.  Sure you can read the depth on the dial, but if you have ever fished with anyone who is looking at a map chart and they want an exact number, saying 34 feet, sounds better than somewhere between 32 and 36 foot.  This year, if you buy a new unit, it will come standard in the box on many of the available units.

This year Vexilar has come out with a sweet new tool for your ice fishing arsenal, not only that, but it will able anglers to keep a video log of some of their best catches.  The new DVR-100 not only allows ice fisherman to record what they are seeing on their Fish Scout camera (any model), but it is AFFORDABLE TOO!!!  At only $89.00 this is least expensive recording device on the ice!

The DVR-100 utilizes a mini-SD card to record the images. Now here is the kicker, there isn’t an on and off switch on the device, it is on a key fob like device.  No reaching over to turn it on while taking your eye off the jig and incoming fish, just have it around your neck and click “on”.  You connect it to the camera cord and then on the back of the unit where “video-in” would be. As they say, “Easy peasy”.

Think of all the people you know that have been debating on getting an underwater camera, and even which unit to buy.  When you couple the ability to capture a video record of the fishing action, at such a low price for the DVR-100, the choice becomes really simple.  Cannot wait to hook it up to my Fish Scout 2000 DT.  You can watch the intro on YouTube on the link below.

YouTube DVR 100 video

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Tangled and Gnarly Perch Hooks, No Problem….

….here is the solution.

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You have been fishing for a few hours, and your perch snells are starting to look a little rough.  I have the solution for when employing spreaders, and that third bottom hook on a standard perch rig. Most anglers have them, and you can get them at just about any chain store, if not some of your better bait shops…the swivel!

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Installing them on a spreader is easy!  Like this plain spreader I picked up from Janns Netcraft, just slide up the coiled springs, slide one end of the swivel into the loop section and slide the coil back down to lock it down.  Then just slide the loop section of your snell into the other end and run the hook section through and snug down.

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Now when you are fighting fish, they are fighting a second and third swivel on your spreader set up. It reduces line twist, kinks …. etc!  Now, I did mention the perch rigs too.  If you are from Michigan, you know you can use three hooks on each rig.  You have the standard two up on top like any normal set-up, but over the last two or three years we have been using a 3rd snell down on the snap where you place the weight.  I like 1 oz by the way.

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If any hook is going to get torn up, it seems like it is this one gets the most damage.  If your experience is anything like mine, all the action comes on this hook, and the snell of the bottom lear.  That is the wire arm sticking out from the rig, I use the term all the time, but some readers might be new.  What I like about the swivel on the snap is two-fold. One reason, no more twisting and the snell lasts all day. The second reason is that it keeps my loop away from the wire of the snap itself.  Without fail, at some point during a day of fishing my loop gets hung up on the closure portion.  If the snell is going to break, this is where it is going to happen, so I eliminated some of the risk of losing a big perch!  Win…WIN!!!!

Type of swivel is up to you, will you have better luck with ball bearing swivel…yes.  Will you/could you spend more money on them… yes.  For my purposes a crane swivel works just fine. Either way, if one place sells one type, they usually sell the other, so will leave that option up to you.

Give the swivel idea a shot if you have had some pretty snells on your spreaders and rigs at the end of the day, it works and you will not be out a ton of money if you get a couple of swivels.  It is well worth the small investment, and if you happen to be crazy about fishing like me, you probably have them lying around already.  Like me, your biggest problem just might be finding where you put them last!

Copyright, 2014

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

Original “Perch” CatchCounter For Sale

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This is the original model of the CatchCounter “Perch Counter”.  Perfect size for catching, counting and storing your perch while on the boat.  Throw in a bag of ice or a gallon jug of ice and it will remain cold all day.  I am selling it for $35.00 with the cooler.

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As pictured on the boat, the cooler will easily fit 150 perch with some room to spare because of the raised shape of the cooler’s lid.   The CatchCounter mountable head goes for $35.00 by itself, and with a cooler, sells for $64.00.  The unit I am selling is two years old and functions extremely well.

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Available for pickup, or meeting at Jeff’s Bait Shop near Sterling State Park on weekends.  If interested, contact me at fishingwithmace@yahoo.com

Copyright, 2014

Posted in For Sale, Perch Fishing, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

The 2014 Perch Season Has Started…..

….for me at least!  I got out yesterday and put 52 perch into the CatchCounter!  We actually could have caught more, but ran out of shiners!  Will say this though, the crawlers I brought in case we limited out early and would drift bottom bouncers for fun, were useless!  As the minnow numbers in the bucket started to dwindle, I put some bits of crawler on the hooks and not one bite.  Lesson learned, might have to bust out the ice fishing soft plastics, maybe a little Northland Bloodworm action for the bottom hook!

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Actually our first stop was inside the bay, just southwest of Stoney Pointe in 19 foot of water, we caught nothing, not even a bite, so it was time to haul anchor and try some different spots.  One more move and it was on, we hooked a TON of perch, but only 52 went into the BigMouth to be counted.  We tried to keep only 8 inch or bigger fish, and caught a lot of smaller perch.  Classic case of two scoops of minnows not being enough to get the job done!

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We fished in 24 fow out in front of the River Raisin, a little northeast of the buoys. Most of the fish came on the bottom hook, but all three hooks were getting hits.  We must have had a smattering of bigger fish in the school below because we pulled some 10 inchers but nothing bigger.  There were plenty of small fish to go around and if we didn’t have a bite within a couple of minutes you had your hooks stripped more than likely.

When we got back to the docks at Sterling State Park, the young man who keeps track of the incoming creels said we had done the best of anyone so far.  That was around 5 pm, maybe 4:30 pm.  As it was, I think at least, if you weren’t holding your rod in your hands, you were probably not going to catch fish.  The little perch were like piranha and did a fine job of cleaning off the hooks if you weren’t looking.  The action was so steady that I put down my second St. Croix ultra light, and only fished with one rod.  It was pretty hectic when both rods were getting hits at the same time!  My neighbor Cliff actually pulled off his first ever triple on his perch rig!

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What shouldn’t surprise me anymore is that even though there is a pretty big hole in the top of the cooler where the perch go in to get counted, the frozen bottles of water still had ice in them at the end of the day. I think the perch actually insulates the ice.  Granted it wasn’t an extremely hot day, but the sun was beating down pretty good, and there were some pretty red faces back at the dock when we came in!

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Once home, it was perch cleaning time.  Unloaded the CatchCounter cooler, and put roughly the same amount of perch into my Tumble Drumm scalers, and 35 minutes later, I started slicing some tasty treats off the bones.  There is nothing better than scaled perch when it comes to eating what Lake Erie has to offer!  OK, one more added benefit to scaling perch, it really makes the cleaning process so easy.  Any time you lose from waiting for them to come out of the scaler, it is more than made up for compared to having to fillet them.

Time to get ready for the next trip, tie up some more perch rigs and get to snelling some more hooks!

Copyright, 2014

 

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Perch Fishing, Product Reviews | 1 Comment

Clam Pro Tackle’s New Time Bomb Spoon

New for the 2014-15 ice fishing season, is Clam Pro Tackle’s new “Time Bomb Spoon”, the unique cousin of last year’s Bomb Spoon.

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The brass plate/washer creates a rather unique, but loud rattling sound.  This clacker will call in crappie, perch and walleye as well.  With its bullet shaped weight, it will cut and keep a straight and tight line even in deep water.  Soon you will be able to get more information on Clam’s website:  http://clamoutdoors.com/ice_fishing/tackle.html

In the meantime, you can watch a very good presentation on YouTube.  It explains the rattle action, and gives several rigging options:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FLMZ0DcLkg&list=UUvAU-BmaW1Azs2OreO40zFA

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment