Choosing the right Ice Rod for Panfish

Choosing an ice rod for panfish sounds easy, just walk into the fishing department of a store and grab a 24″ ultra light rod with some reel and go fishing.

If you really think that, then this is probably the article you need to read the most, more than any other ice fishing piece you may read while considering what rods to get this year.

My philosophy came about almost 20 years ago while fishing my first Ice Team Trap Attack on a lake in Brooklyn, Michigan.  At first I just wanted to have more than a couple of rods so if something happened I would not be wasting valuable time trying to retie jigs in cold weather while dealing with numb fingers.  Within a year or two of that, I looked at the multiple rods bass anglers were using on open water and how they were specialized for particular techniques.

Taking that approach I started looking at various rods and how they might handle my approach to catching more panfish.  By that I mean, the different techniques I use for …you know what, lets scrap the panfish moniker, and just pick one, and in this case lets center on Bluegill.  Why bluegill, because they taste the best of course!

Looking back at that 24 inch rod off the shelf, although it’s not ideal rod for gills there are some purposes where the rod will shine.  Here in Michigan we are allowed three rods each while fishing any body of water, so if you are fishing multiple rods, why not have at least one rod as a bobber rod.  By taking a small slip bobber large enough to balance out with the jig you are using below, you have used up one of your three rods.  It’s also a great presentation for getting kids involved in the sport.

Taking that same rod, you can add a quality spring bobber to the end to make it more versatile tool. Where to start on the spring bobbers is the next question, luckily you have many options.  Depending on how you want to allocate your “fishing” funds, you can have set-ups for 3, 4, or 5 mm tungsten jigs.  If you want to start out slow, in my opinion I would choose the 3 mm set up.   On the tourney trail over the years I have learned you can never go wrong with a 3 mm in all situations.  If you are fishing lakes that aren’t pressured on a regular basis, then you can jump up to the 4 mm, specially if you fish some deeper water.  Will a 5 mm catch fish, yes, but in my book this is a highly condition specific type of approach that will rarely present itself to someone not fishing some deep water bite tourneys.

One last thing considering that off the rack 24 inch rod, and I know I stopped at only discussing gills for this piece.  That said, they make excellent spoon and swimbait rods for crappie and perch.  For a clear translation on swimbait, I mean a Jigging Rapala type presentation.

For the ideal adjustable spring bobber already on a rod, that will be covered by the Legend Ice Rod from St. Croix Rods. It’s a 24 inch ultra light rod with a unique “light” spring that can be adjusted for the weight of the jig.  This is accomplished by carefully pushing the spring in for heavier jigs, or further out for smaller presentations.  If I had to give a percentage on what a bluegill bite will look like while using a spring, it would be that 90% of the time a gill pull the spring down.  5% of the time the jig will not move the spring, just straighten it out.  The other 5% of the time, although more common with fishing for crappie, the spring will jump up while fishing shallow water weedbeds where the gills come up to aggressively feed.

Some rods, specifically custom rods are made with different presentations already in mind.  I don’t need a rod that looks like its been designed to be hung on the wall like a piece of art, which is not to say they wont catch fish, just not my style. I do have some custom “noodle” rods from Minnesota that are very sensitive, and I don’t mean so much by the feel, but what the rod tip will visually tell me is going on below.  These rods are usually my scout rods when I am looking for fish with a multitude of presentations.  This way I can go big or small.

My sight fishing rods are SHORT, 16 inches in length, but no bigger than 18″ is where I would tell anglers to start with while looking for a good rod.  My dual purpose sight and spring bobber rods are 17 inch lights from St Croix’s Legend series.  For those not familiar with sight fishing, it’s a method where you look directly down the hole and watch the fish as they come in to take your bait.

Tightlining rods are usually 20-22 inches in length, and they designed, or used specifically for watching the line in your hole.  Michigan anglers came up with this method before the introduction of electronics like Vexilar. A common misconception is that you just watch the line at the top of your hole, but you are really watching the line in the hole.  What the line is doing will show an experienced tightliner whether you have a fish on or not.  Since one indication of a fish taking your bait might be your line showing some slack, it’s generally accepted that your rod be a stiff ultra light or light action rod in order to set the hook.

And that would be your starting guide for choosing a good rod for bluegills, many of the same rods can be used for perch and crappie though.  Once you decide on how you want to approach a lake, you can determine which set ups will work best.   Don’t be pigeon holed by what others are doing though, find rod that feels right for your methods, and don’t be surprised if you look at multiple rods to find the ones that will fill your arsenal and help you catch the most fish.

Posted in Ice Fishing, Ice Products | Leave a comment

The Deluxe Spoon Box from Clam Outdoors

Large Deluxe Spoon Box

My staff order from Clam Outdoors came  in yesterday to the house from Minnesota.  If you are Facebook, you probably saw me go “Live”  showing the features of the new Stealth Spearfisher hub shelter.  One of the other items I picked up was the Large Deluxe Spoon Box that Clam introduced last year.

The Spoon Boxes come in two sizes, small and large.  With my spoon arsenal for big water walleye, there was no way I was going to be able to fit everything  into the smaller box.  Even with 81 slots in the large box, I had to pick my very best spoons to fill the box.

Why get the spoon box?  Two main reasons that come to mind right away deal with protecting your investment.  Tackle isn’t cheap and you want to fish with these lures for as long as possible.  My first concern would be the paint jobs, when you have them loose in a plastic case, they bounce around which leads to paint being chipped off the lures.  I like loud baits, which means a lot of my spoons have rattles attached to them.  The best way for your rattles to come off is for them to be bouncing around while traveling to your best holes.

The spoons stay secured in their slots, protecting both paint schemes and rattles.  Of course the obvious reason for protecting your gear in the Spoon Box are those nasty tangles that will steal precious minutes of fishing time while you try to get that one spoon you really want to use out of the mess. Also, another reason to purchase the box is for protecting the fins on your swimming/jigging minnows and perfect for sizes that are 2.5 inches or smaller.

If you are looking for that one item to enhance your experience on the ice this season, or wanting to get something for the ice angler in your life for Christmas, I suggest the Spoon Box from Clam.  Just about every retail location you can think of has the boxes in stock right now.

Protect your gear with the Spoon Box!

Copyright, 2017

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

Underwater Cameras, not just for ice fishing!

Last month I shared that using my Vexilar sonar/flasher was an integral component in my success while fishing a walleye tourney on the Saginaw River.  Proving yet again, your winter equipment can really be used all year-long to enhance your fishing experience.  But what if I told you another tool in the tackle box could be used for something more than just fishing?

Vexilar FS 8OO

That’s right, your underwater camera!  Of course you can use it on your boat, or even off of a dock, making it extremely useful all year-long, but that is not what I am talking about.  Across the Ice Belt there is another season happening right now, deer hunting season!

Whether in a tree or on the ground, you can use your underwater camera to your advantage.  Without the camera, you can see everything in front of you, you can even turn your head a little in either direction and see what is to the left or right of you.  It gets a little tricky though when it comes to seeing what is behind you.  This is where the camera plays a pivotal role.

This works really well on the ground in a ground or hub style blind or in a raised structure.  In a tree, you can hang it from a hook, and there is plenty of cable to reach the ground and place the camera there.  On the ground, place the camera on the in front of you, someplace out-of-the-way, but still visible.  Run the camera cable out the door and zip it down, placing the camera in your blind spot.  If you do not have a floor, just run the cable under the blind or over the wood you constructed your hideout with.

Now you are able to see what is coming up behind you without getting a sore neck, or making noise while sitting in a chair.  You can say that inside your blind you have a swivel type chair and don’t need the camera, but I promise at some point that chair will squeak!

You can choose the Vexilar FS 8OO or if you like to see things in color, you can use the FS 2000 or the Fishphone.  The Fishphone allows you to make use of your smartphone and connects to the camera system through its built-in wifi.  If you aren’t too worried what is behind you, but you want to take video of that trophy buck that comes into your blind or stand you can record the action on your phone, or get the DVR accessory and with use of the remote, start your video when the deer come in.  This is a great way to keep your hunt alive over and over again, or perhaps record your young hunter’s first time out in the woods!

Either way, making a video of the hunt or checking out what is making all that noise behind you, your Vexilar underwater system isn’t just for ice fishing anymore!

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Electronics, Ice Products, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

The Saginaw River is Heating Up…

…and more fish are staging to come into the river.  With the cold temps coming this week, the fishing should only get better until the ice takes hold.

Obviously I just got home from the Saginaw River where I fished the Fall Brawl Tournament put on by the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club, the same great folks that put on the Michigan Walleye Tour. My partner and I headed up Wednesday afternoon for Bay City, got the gear unpacked and the boat rigged for a long day of jigging on the river while looking for fish. If you ever hit a new lake for ice fishing, think of it as drilling a bunch of holes looking for fish, but a whole lot easier on the back.

We did a lot of driving, and checking out the fishfinder to see what was below us.  A lot of zig-zagging was involved trying to cover the most ground, as quickly as we could since we were only going to be prefishing for two days. Found some spots on the screen where the fish were just stacked up bottom to top.  We also found some good spots void of any marks at all.  We used just about everything in the arsenal and even caught this big ol’ shovelhead while checking out a reliable spot upriver.  Unfortunately this flathead catfish was all we found, but it was a fun ten minute fight by both of us and it came unhooked easy and never left the water.

Thursday started out with a thud, not literally…just a small setback, found two holes in the old Crestliner just below the water line.  Nothing a little JB Weld didn’t fix, and with an hour to wait for the mixture to take a set,  I rigged the boat up for trolling the flats and the main channel down from the mouth of the river. On went the Traxstech Planer Board Caddy for holding my Church Tackle planer boards.  Grabbed my six St. Croix telescoping rods, and for this tourney I had my older set of Daiwa trolling reels rigged up with mono for trolling cranks.

The goal was to ride an edge along the flat right were it dropped off and fish both sides of it.  One side of the boat was rigged up with shallower running baits like Rapala‘s Jointed Deep Husky Jerks and big Shad Raps, those would ride up on the flats.  Then I would set my boards to take deeper lures like the standard Deep Husk Jerks to ride the shelf down about 15 foot.  With all this thinking in mind, nothing came of it, the fish we marked Thursday weren’t there on Friday, so we did some more jigging the rest of the day.

Friday night before a tourney is always a work night, I picked out the trolling lures and got them on the rods with the lure wraps.  You have to have some semblance of secrecy while at the launch, but we probably had close to the same lures on as some other boats.  On the St. Croix Avids and Legend Tournament Walleye Series rods went on the jigs, most rigged with Fin-S Fish, but with the warmer water, also put on some Wyandotte Worms. I should have added another jig, but will touch on that later.

Saturday morning rolls around and we hook up with the other boats for the captain’s meeting at the Bangor boat launch near Independence Bridge and WW II ship, the Edson.  Saw some friends and talked some strategy with another boat we decided to team up with to save some time prefishing to check out different areas.  Everybody puts their boats in the river and we take off for our fishing spots at 8:00 AM on the dot.

A good chunk of the boats headed for our starting spot, but we were boat #3 in line and #1 and #2 peel off early and we get to our spot first.  The fish are there and still stacked up like we saw while prefishing.  We start our drift with the trolling motor just letting us slip back along the edge of a drop off.

This is where I have to veer off course for a bit and explain some of the technology I was using in the bow while operating the electric motor.  The Terrova from Min-Kota is equipped with universal sonar, which means I can hook up a number of different types of electronic devices to it to see what is below the motor.  My choice, based on my ice fishing experience was my Vexilar FL-22 HD, you can actually run any type of Vex you want like the FLX-28, 20, 12…etc.  I just love the 22, and know how to read it the best based upon my experience with it.

Back to fishing, seeing lots of fish both on the graph and Vexilar. A couple more boats come and start doing the same drift and it wasn’t long before we started seeing guys grab their nets while we aren’t catching.  With the help of the Vex, it was easy to see right away that the walleye were not interested in what we were putting down.  I could see them come in, take a long and then zip back down to the bottom.

We left the spot, went upriver and got rigged for trolling a combination of Rapala cranks.  Going with the current we were making about two miles per hour.  Set out the TX-22’s with the Double Action Flay System from Church Tackle and worked our way down to the power plant.  Unfortunately without a bite.

Went back to vertical jigging by the water intake at the old section of the plant without a bite there either.  Luckily my partner Cliff wanted to change-up lures and I tied on a Jigging Rapala.  We went back upriver and fished a break wall.  Soon into that drift, Cliff hooks a fish and it goes in the net.  I set the motor on anchor, and tie a couple on myself.  Finished that drift, and went back to the starting spot and soon I hooked into one too.  Unfortunately we only managed a couple of bites, but no hard takers and that was that, time to head back to the launch for the weigh-in.

Learned some valuable lessons, found some more spots to fish, it’s a growing process.  Always tie on one Jigging Rap as your go to presentation until the fish tell you differently, a very good lesson to be sure.  All this and some more information has already been written down in my log book for the Saginaw River.  Now next year, I can just go back and read all that information again to refresh my memory!

Huge shout out to the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club for putting on the event, cannot wait to go back next spring!

Copyright, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Tournament News, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Snapweights and Fall Trolling

Snapweights give walleye anglers an added tool in the tackle bag when it comes to going after the big fish that show up in the fall months prior to the winter freeze.  Big baits, small baits, rattling, suspending, all of these types can add up to increased catch rates when used in combination with these weights that are attached to  your line.  The purpose, at least in my book of “walleye tactics” is to get any type of lure down to where the walleye feed with the least amount of line out as possible.  Less line in the water equals less chance for something to go haywire.

Rapala Husky Jerk #14

 

Big baits equal big fish, that’s the story or perhaps the most common saying in fishing,  it ranks right up there with “match the hatch” or when it comes to muskie fishing, “You can use any lure you want, as long as it is black.”.  One of the most productive type of baits I have used are referred to as jerkbaits, and almost all of them rattle and suspend when retrieved or during the trolling process of making tight turns or momentarily putting your motor in neutral.  When used with a snapweight, this gets a bit trickier because the weight will dive taking your lure with you.  Be aware of the body of water you are fishing to make sure you won’t run into some nasty snags.  Instead of making tight turns, or throttling down, try more sweeping turns if the underwater terrain allows.  This will give you the extra benefit of covering a wider path and you will still get that slow down/speed up action that can entice walleye to bite.

Church Tackle Snap Weight Kit

Most snapweight kits will range from or around 3/4 of an ounce up to three ounces.  Going with my philosophy of using the least amount of line possible, I generally like using the heavier weights whenever possible.  When it comes to the kits, that usually means dropping down the 2 or 3 oz weights.  When going deeper in the water column, or trying to get the most control in the depths I am fishing, that is when I go heavy.

Lock Jaw clips and heavy weights

When I start “depth bombing” walleye, out comes the heavy pencil weights, in 4 and 6 ounce.  This is my homemade kit, so if you want to replicate something similar, there is some assembly required.  No worries though, to attach the weights to the Lock-Jaw clips from Church Tackle, I used some big duolock snaps, which can easily deconstructed in order to attach to the weights.  Once put back together, choose the weight you want to use and snap onto the clip.  You can also use the new Mini Lock-Jaw clips from Church, either will work effectively, but I do like the original clips for the heavier weights.

Nothing knocks these clips off, and they actually make excellent weed guards to keep your lures running free and clear of any debris that might hinder their action going through the water.

#9 Deep Shad Rap

Besides the shallow running jerkbaits, the use of snapweights works extremely well with lures that run deep, but maybe not as deep as you would like them to run.  Case in point, the big deep diving #9 Rapala Shad Rap.  These lures are a favorite of mine for trolling on Lake Erie in the cold water from October through December when the weather allows. Unfortunately, their max running depth is right around 16 foot of water.  Now, with the snapweights I can drop them right down to the bottom if I want without letting out a mile of line.

Quick sidenote, remember to consider your running depth of the lure with the amount of line you let out before attaching the weight.  Normally I run out 30 foot of line, then attach my weight, and then drop to the desired depth.  The 50/50 method is thrown out the door, and I can then use less line after dropping the weight down.  The four ounce is my overall weight of choice because it helps eliminate much of the guess work.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Perchnado V: the sequel x5

What an incredible perch fishing season we have had on the Michigan side of Lake Erie this season.  Lines at Jeff’s Bait and Tackle (boats/trailers/trucks) are stretching back towards I-75 on the weekends. They are a pretty well oiled machine in there though, and get you in and out pretty quick. If you get out early, the lines aren’t bad at the Sterling State Park launch, but you might kill a half hour on the water while waiting to put the boat back on the trailer.

Michigan 2-Fly Rig

Went back out Friday and Saturday and had a blast out in 27 fow inside the line just Southeast of Stoney Point.  Used nothing but my Michigan 2-Fly Rig and minnows from Jeff’s.  I came up with the name for the rig from going back to my ice fishing heritage when a lot of people in Michigan used a fly dropper above their ice jigs, and it was called the Michigan Rig.  Taking that a step farther, I tied another snell for using the second fly.  One goes on the wire hook (lear) arm, while I attach the second fly to the sinker on the rig.  I prefer an one ounce sinker for keeping contact with the bottom.

Michigan 2-Fly Rig

Friday the action was fast and furious and it only took a couple of hours for the Catch Counter to say it was time to go in.

You see a lot of the counters at the docks in the boats going out, and what a great way to keep track of how many perch you have in the boat.  After each trip, the count was right on the money as I put them in the Tumble Drumms to scale the perch.  Every bait shop in Monroe has them now, including Jeff’s outside the state park.

Everyone on Facebook is asking me where I have been catching the perch.  Still on the same numbers from the original “Perchnado” article.  Just Southeast of the point, and in 27 fow…still.

The water has been great so far, and all sizes of boats are coming out of the woodwork to get in on the action.  Its awesome to see so many families out there and watching the kids having a great time.

Flies for the Michigan 2-Fly Rig

Time to get back to tying those flies.  Jeff’s sold out of the Silver Ice and Glow Pink, early this morning.  Hopefully I will have at least two more colors available for this weekend.  If you don’t seem them right away, ask for them at the counter….or they might be sold out already!

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Lake Erie, Perch Fishing, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

The Hottest Perch Rig on Erie…

….for me anyway, is a rig/concept I came up with a couple of years ago.  The standard perch rig, also known as a crappie rig, consists of two perch arms called lears with two snells attached at the end.  Since in Michigan we are allowed to fish with three rods and a total of six hooks, it has become common practice to fish with two rods, and six hooks. When the action is really good, one rod is all you can handle, but I tweaked the rig a bit.

Almost all the action takes place on the bottom two hooks, so I got rid of the top arm and placed the remaining lear 10 inches above the snap.  Since I tie my snelled rigs in eight inch lengths, the hook rests 2″ above the lake bottom, right in the strike zone for the perch. On the bottom, I have several options, but placement, where I attach the snell is the key.

At first, myself like many others were attaching the snell to the snap where the sinker goes and it worked.  Over time though I learned that this way is a headache waiting to happen. The reason is simple, after catching a few fish the line that makes up the snell  can get tangled or will rub on the edges of the wire that makes up the snap.  To get a fool-proof, rock solid placement for the line, I started attaching it to the eye on the sinker.  Simply run the loop through the eye, snake the business end through the loop, and snug it tight.

No slip, no fuss and less of the line getting caught up in or nicked from the snap.  Now you have the last snell free-floating on the bottom, waiting for a perch to pick it up.  In the picture I have a fly of sorts from Dave Domka’s new bait shop on LaPlaisance Rd, but I think they are available on his website also.  If you strictly launch out Sterling and never make it down that way, no problem.  That was something new to try this year, but a single hook by itself works, and a single bead on the snell just above the hook always works.  Do colors of the beads really matter, I don’t think so, but there is something that make a difference.  Glow beads are a nice change of pace, and since they don’t glow really bright, they don’t spook the fish, but do seem to bring them in for a subtle approach to the baited hook.

Here is a quick rundown for the materials needed to make your own version of my perch rig.

-20 lb monofilament for the main line on your rig.

-12 lb mono or fluorocarbon for your snells, the fc lines holds up better, but is more expensive. Perch don’t have the best vision, so I don’t think the line makes a difference in catch rates.

-#6 hooks, I like the red sickle octopus hooks from Matzuo, but if you like the traditional gold hooks, they work too, but don’t go bigger than a #4 size.

-#5 mm beads for the snell, usually four works best.

-#1 indiana blade, I color mine with Sharpie markers, but silver or gold work ok too.

-#7 Swivel for the top of the rig

#2 or 3 snap for the bottom, sometimes the size three is just easier to deal with

– 4 inch hook lear, available at Janns Netcraft in Ohio

-(2) six mm beads for securing the lear 10 inches above the snap

-1 ounce sinker, that is my preference, but if you like 3/4 oz or heavier than one, go for it.

There you go, the basic instructions for a perch rig,  just like the one I use.  Good luck, and remember, it’s always better when you make your own gear and catch fish!

Copyright, 2017

 

 

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

How to Fizz a Fish

How to Fizz a Walleye: Catch and Release Fish From Deep Water

Posted in Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Perchnado 2017

So I sort of stole the title from the shark movies on that science fiction channel, but “Perchnado” sort of fits the bill after two days of fishing on Lake Erie where the perch were flying in the boat.  There were times when you would want to get the bait back in the water as fast as you can, wait a second or two, and wench them up the water column as fast as you could.  We also got some time on Monday to break out the Church Tackle boards, which proved to be sort of fruitful, but will get into that later.

We had grand plans for Monday, get our limit of perch and then bust out the Deep Husky Jerks, make one long pass back into the bay and call it a good day.  Truth be told, the grand plans hardly ever work out, often too much time is spent doing one or the other to get a limit and we just say phooey on the 2nd part of the plan.  Monday was a very good day though.

As we headed out into the lake, we almost stopped to fish in a pack of boats in about 23 foot of water (fow), but we didn’t want to be “pack animals” and headed out for deeper water. There were only three boats about where I had some waypoints from last year, and they all had some good separation between them, and none were on “my” spot.  We took our position, dropped the anchor and started fishing.  Less than a minute, probably closer to 30 seconds, BOOM.  First fish came up, a nice 9 inch perch and that set the tone for the rest of the day. Notice the fly of sorts that I was using on the bottom of my perch rig, it’s from Domka Outdoors, and it just gives a bit of flash to the shiner, and also a slightly bulkier presentation.  Which is a bonus when every bait shop in town has really small emerald shiners.  For part of the day I even ran a small Impulse shiner from Northland Tackle in addition to the live minnow to give it even more of a bigger presentation.

For the most part the anchor held, and we were off to a great start, and it really never slowed down.  Some times you go into a lull between bites, not so much on Monday.  All in all, we had 13 doubles (two fish on the rig at the same time), most of them coming on my neighbor Cliff’s line.  We had less than 10 throwbacks where we thought the perch were too small, and kept everything eight inches or bigger.  We had our 100 before two o’clock so it was time to break out the big St. Croix’s and start to troll our way back into Brest Bay.

 

I busted out the TX-12 boards from Church Tackle with the double action flag kit.  I have a tourney on the Saginaw River towards the end of October and wanted to get the flags dialed in before then.  We threw out a combination of deep running husky jerks to see what we could get into.  Standard colors, some customs from Big Eye Custom Lures and to get a little more action for the middle of the water column, the jointed version of the DHJ-12’s (JDHJ-12).  These do not run as deep at the original, but at the 2 mph speed we were trolling, they impart a lot of action to the lure, in my book, perfect for targeting walleye actively feeding in the middle of the water column.

 

Breaking out the boards means I get to bust out some of the tools of the trolling trade,  and in this case the Planer Board Caddy from Traxstech.  Although the TX-12 is quite a bit smaller than the TX-22 or Walleye boards from Church that I normally run out on Erie, they stayed locked in loaded in the Caddy through a pretty bumpy ride out to the perch grounds.  I made sure, several times I caught myself looking back to make sure, never had an issue!  Besides the boards, they hold tools, lures and I even zip tied my hand towel to one of the corners.  When mounting your track, will say this, position them where you will get the most use out of it, those back corners are where we bring the boards back into the boat with a fish on, and they are so handy to have right where you do the business end of trolling!

The TX-12’s handled the bigger cranks perfectly, riding nice and easy through the water.

The trolling pass back in came with one bonus walleye coming back to the boat.  This 18 incher wanted to sink the TX-12, but just couldn’t do it.  It buried the flag and jumped back three or four feet, but we broke out the Cumings net that I always carry while perch fishing, you know, for emergencies like this.  That was our one and only keeper, the weeds took over and fouled up a few lines when we got inside the bay, so we called it quits.

That was Monday Funday, with high hopes Tuesday morning we stopped in at Jeff’s Bait and Tackle outside of Sterling State Park and reloaded with some emeralds, its my one stop shop when launching out of Sterling.  The insulated buckets from Clam Outdoors are awesome for transporting minnows with the aerator.  One frozen bottom of water and the water stays cool for hours.  About 10 am we made our way back out for Perchnado 2.  The winds kicked up a notch compared to the day before, which was nice, there were times Monday when we were covered in bugs.  After a long bumpy ride there were a few more boats out there, but still we had our spot to ourselves so we dropped anchor.

After a minute I was starting to get nervous and then Cliff pulled in the first one.  In the first 30 minutes we had 21 perch in the Catch Counter Big Mouth.  Quick plug, in two days of perch fishing the counter was right on the mark both days.

The waves busted us off anchor a few times, but before we pulled up to get back to the waypoint,  there were 43 perch in the cooler.  Once back on spot the anchor got dropped and it was time to get back to fishing.  Nothing, not a nibble at first, and then one or two came up.  The anchor busted loose again and we dragged it for 100 yards or so before it took hold again.  The wind settled down and it looked like it would hold.

For a half hour, it was dropped the line down, hit bottom and wench them up.  The jaw jerking action was so good, I had to mark it, #136 on the GPS.  We had a slight stoppage in the action, and then it was game on again.  As the counter clicked higher and higher, I would name the perch after some of my favorite Detroit Lions; #54 Chris Spielman, #56 Joe Schimdt, and had to click off everyone on the Silver Rush defensive front; #60 Bubba Baker, #75 Dave Purifoy (EMU Hurons), #78 Doug English and #79 Bill Gay.  After tight end David Hill #81, it got a bit harder to think of names, but luckily the last 19 came in pretty quick and I didn’t have time to dwell on it anyway!

By 2 pm we were done again and heading home.  I broke out the twins, the Tumble Drumm scalers and loaded them up for a long evening of cleaning fish.  Twenty-five at a time, counting them out as I went, they were right on with what the Catch Counter read on the counter.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Lake Erie, Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Clam=Ice Fishing: New products for the 2017/18 Season/Shanties

I got a sneak peek of most of the new product back in August, but its time to go through the whole list on the website and see what “must haves” are out there for the upcoming ice fishing season.  It was a great experience to see the new gear up close in Minnesota before ordering new gear.   Because of that I missed some gear last year, so I will throw in some from last year too.

Kenai Pro Thermal Stealth

In fact I am going to start with the one item I know missed out on last year, the Kenai Pro Thermal Stealth.  I liked my Kenai Pro from the year before, so there were many things I liked about the new version before I saw it.  Perhaps the best part was the tub, or sled section of the shanty itself.  The tub section is more elevated than most shanties, and this is a bonus for many reasons.  You can sit in it comfortably without getting your legs extended out in front of you, or having to haunch over the hole while sight fishing.  When comparing to other single man shanties, there is more than enough room for anglers to set the hook on a fish.  What does the Thermal Stealth version give you?  Total blackout when the windows are closed, this is a sight fishing angler’s dream shack, your hole is lit up and you can see farther down the water column!  The material also heats up on a bright day, eliminating the need for a heater on most days.

Stealth Spearfisher

Hub style shanties offer anglers the most room and fishable space than any other style.  I was blown away by the attributes of the Jason Mitchell 5000 Thermal last year.  The Stealth Spearfisher is the same size so I get that same nine foot across space as the 5000, but I now get that fused layering thermal of the Kenai we already talked about.  When I saw this at Clam’s headquarters in MN, I knew right away what kind of anglers were going to go crazy over it,  anglers who love to spear pike!  Every year since the hubs came out, people have been asking me which one would be the best for spearing, now I have the perfect answer!  Not only that, but you could get a crew 3-5 guys together, sit over a weedbed and everyone be sightfishing.

Hey, did you know its the 20th anniversary of the Ice Team?  More than any other company Clam has revolutionized ice fishing with its innovation through constantly creating better products for us, the anglers who use them.  To celebrate the anniversary, Clam celebrates its Fish Trap heritage by the dressing up two coops that started it all, the Legend (formerly known as the Pro) representing the single seat division, and the iconic Voyager.  I still have my first generation Voyager TCX, and just last year, sold the last of my Pro’s.  Well built products to be sure!

Speaking of the Voyager, which back in the beginning was actually a 3 seat shanty back in the early 2000’s, Clam has brought that option back through the X300 Pro Thermal.  The ultimate big water shanty is BACK with a vengeance.  Everything is included with this shack; runners, cover, hitch and even indoor lighting.  But what I really like that you can enter, or exit through side doors, the back or the front panel in the super thick 1800 denier thermal fabric.  It is a beast, and will be a big hit for not just anglers on the Great Lakes, but those on some of the biggest inland lakes across the ice belt.

As the week, and weeks progress, will be checking out more from Clam and my other sponsors like Vexilar Marine Electronics and Jiffy Ice Augers for example.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Ice Fishing, Ice Products | Leave a comment