Fishing Michigan Hits the Ice Team Annual’s Digital Magazine..

The newest release of Ice Team’s Digital Magazine has hit the presses or is it airwaves, or sounding a bit more impressive, the world wide web?  Lets go with that, sounds better.  Regardless my article on Michigan’s Backwater Perch Season is now out there for the world to read, and with the cold snap descending upon us, just in time for Michigan ice anglers to read up before hitting the ice. IMG_2782 Click on this link to read the entire magazine, and find the article on Page 14 of the Annual:  Michigan’s Backwater Perch Season   There is quite a big of good information in this edition, from upsizing baits to catch crappie and perch, to tips on walleye and catching tight lipped panfish! Copyright, 2014

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New Raps from Big Eye Custom Lures

I know, I should be totally focused on ice fishing this time of the year, but the USPS brought the goods yesterday afternoon. Fresh from Green Bay, my new Rapala’s arrived from Big Eye Custom Lures!  Deep Husky Jerks from the website, and six Rap Deep Taildancers in the TDD-11 size.

Big Eye Custom Lures, DHJ-12

Big Eye Custom Lures, Rapala  DHJ-12’s

These Deep Taildancers might be the best secret going on Erie.  The factory colors from Rapala are really sweet, and cannot wait to add this Confetti type pattern to the mix.  I came up with the idea from one of Big Eye’s harness blade patterns.  I had six different colors, on six different lures, and call it a pet peeve or a disease I hate going to the lake with one of anything, so I had Don (the owner of Big Eye) do his thing. One of the original colors had a red bill, again, just one of them had it, so I got them all painted red!

Big Eye Custom Lures, TDD-11's

Big Eye Custom Lures, Rapala TDD-11’s

And for being a really good guy this year, some pretty sweet willow blades, and a couple extra Colorado blades for good measure came in the package!

Big Eye Custom Lures

Big Eye Custom Lures

 

Here is a different view of the cranks, the colors really pop.  That Lime Attack pattern, first pic, second one down, was really effective this fall, and should be a really nice spring bait, as well! Plus, it has a watermelon twist and watermelon works anywhere you go.

Big Eye Custom Lures DHJ-12's

Big Eye Custom Lures DHJ-12’s

Big Eye Custom Lures, DHJ-12's

Big Eye Custom Lures, DHJ-12’s

 

The thought process is to pick up a few more willows this spring.  Will get them tied up in a variety of presentations, single blade, a unique two blade rig, and even a tandem spin harness.  Have had good success with doing tandems with the Colorado’s, so why not give it a shot, should look killer! I am sure Don, the owner of Big Eye will have some new gear to take a look at also, but for now…I should be pretty much set!  But…I know better, something new will come out, it will look killer and all previous plans will have to be rethought out, all over again.

Look up “Fishing Michigan” on Facebook, and give the page a like for more hints, video links and fishing throughout Michigan and the Midwest.

Copyright, 2014

 

 

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Spooling Ice Reels

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Just picked up some of Clam’s new Genz Ice Spooler Elite reels, which means…its time to get them spooled up!  For the past couple of years I have been using Sufix 3 lb orange Ice Magic for my panfish reels.  These reels are actually going to be going on some of deep water panfish rods, and when I say deep, I mean 20 to 30 feet of water.  Because of the fairly fast gear ratio of 2.3-1, I can bring up a deep water gill, perch or crappie fairly quick.  This is also going to free up ten of my Daiwa spinning reels, and will be re-spooling those with 6, 8 and 10 lb test for some walleye rods.

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Using my handy dandy spooling station, I hand cranked my line on. First off though, here is a good tip to keep in mind.  Remember I mentioned the reels gear ratio on the retrieve, when you put backing on the reel, you increase that gear ratio even more, so realistically, with the backing on the reel, I have pushed the ratio closer to a 3-1.  Backing also serves another purpose, you don’t need 1oo or 11o yds of line on the reel, in fact I can get three reels spooled with one pony spool of Ice Magic, or roughly 33 yards of line on each reel.

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One more trick, or helpful idea when it comes to spooling your panfish ice reels.  After putting the backing on, take a roll of electric tape, and pull off about a 5 inch piece.  Then with a pair of scissors, cut that in half length wise.  As you put it over the backing, stretch it out a bit and pull tight. Often you need the second piece to get both sides of the spool to get a coverage over the backing line.  Then put on your line that you will actually fish with, tie on the spool using an arbor knot, and again roughly, put on 33 yds of the 3 lb Ice Magic.

I learned this trick the hard way while fishing with some of my Schooley reels that I use in shallow water applications.  I use whatever line I have laying around the shop when I put backing on a reel.  It might be 2 lb test, but it could be anything, 4, 6, 8 or even 12 lb…you get the idea.  Rather than go out shopping for cheap line, just use the bits and pieces that wont fit on another reel.  My problem arose from tying the two lines together with a double-uni knot, or back to back, as it is sometimes called.  What happened is when I would strip off my line, my panfish line would rub against that knot, creating nicks in my line, eventually breaking on a pretty good crappie during a championship.  I went back to the cabin we were staying in that night and fixed that problem right away!

And that, is how I spool my panfish ice reels! Hope it helps you out too.

 

Copyright, 2014

 

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

Fishing Michigan Makes the Paper….Kinda

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Well I was in the paper Sunday and Monday…kinda.  Actually I was in the Cabela’s advertisement that was included in the delivery.  This Saturday and Sunday I will be in the store’s fishing department, particularly in the ice fishing section.  I will be there working with Vexilar flashers, Clam Outdoors and Jiffy augers, but will be more than happy to help with any ice fishing question you might have.

If you have a bunch of questions, save them up for the seminars I will be having upstairs behind the cooking and grilling section, just left of the deli area.  Each day at 1 pm, will be up there talking ice fishing basics, including clothing, tackle, equipment and first time strategies for tackling a lake for the first time.  For the more advanced angler, I will be sharing some advanced techniques mingled in, and during the Q&A, we get more into it then.

The seminars are always fun, a lot of give and take.  You learn something, and often I pick up a few ideas too, or even better, somebody at some point, always poses a question that makes me think of a solution that helps both parties.  Come on out, the ad was spread throughout our great state, and expect a lot of people to hit the store both days this weekend.  Come up and say hello, nothing makes these events more fulfilling to myself than when I get to talk fishing and helping folks out all day!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Community News, Fishing Websites/Stores, Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Product Reviews, Seminars, Store visits | Leave a comment

Day 2, Week 1…Ice Fishing @ Cabela’s in Dundee

All packed up and ready to get back at the ice fishing display area at Cabela’s in Dundee.  Had lots of questions yesterday on a wide range of ice related items including  Vexilar flashers, Clam shanties and Jiffy augers.  Some came in to check out the products, others are buying now.  It is plain to see after the ice we had last year, there is a new audience ready to jump into the sport this  year!

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I had this come up several times yesterday so dont forget, if you are a Cabela’s Club Visa cardholder, you had a mailing a while back that gives you $20 off on the $100 on your receit up to $500. So if it was an $500 item, that is $100 off. And all those points you saved up throughout the year, time to bust them out and get even more off your purchase.

Copyright, 2014

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

Fishing Michigan Hits Cabela’s the Next Three Weekends

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This weekend, next weekend and the weekend before Christmas I will be at Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan to answer all questions on ice fishing. Local lakes, big trips or just even if you are just getting started.  In fact next weekend (Dec. 13th and 13th), at 1 pm on both Saturday and Sunday, will be conducting seminars on just that upstairs near the Deli.  All the basics you need to get started; electronics, shanties, augers, rods, reels, line,  jigs and spoons…etc!

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Whether it is hitting Lake Erie, Wamplers Lake or making that big trip to a dream ice fish destination, we should be able to get you set up with all the gear you will need.  Also, if you are shopping for that ice fisher type person in your life, I can help you find the perfect gift for Christmas.  Vexilar, Clam, and Jiffy products and more.  And if you have some equipment but you need something extra to get the job done, maybe an extension for that Jiffy auger, if you fished last year at all, you know you needed it!

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Copyright, 2014

 

Posted in Ice Products, Product Reviews, Store visits | Leave a comment

This Thanksgiving, Go Corn Free on your Phone!

A couple of years I located a website with a listing of gas stations in Michigan/the country, that offered ethanol free gasoline.  It was a nice resource to have, not only for your boat’s outboards, or inboards for that matter, but for all types of engines around the house.  Ethanol is the bane of small engines, made with corn, it destroys carburetors, rots gaskets and drys up fuel lines.  Love the farming industry, grew up in a farm town, but talk about the 2-3% of the population controlling what goes into everyone’s engines.

Here is the link for Michigan’s ethanol free stations, there should be just one pump at each station that has ethanol free gas.  Michigan Pure Gas is the link, but if you live outside of Michigan, look above the list, and you will see the initials for your state also.

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Lets say you are not near your home, do you have a copy of your list in your vehicle?  Maybe, but now there is an app for your phone available that lists all the stations near your location that offer ethanol free gas.  I will list the Google Play and iPhone app links below, it works with your GPS on your mobile device, and even gives you directions on how to get to the location.

Pure Gas on Google Play for Android

Pure Gas on iTunes/Apple

With many already ice fishing in Northern Michigan and across the northern states, time to think about what is going into not only your ice augers, but snowmobiles and quads as well.  In fact, just picked up a snow blower, why would I run anything else in it!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

Michigan’s Backwater Perch Season

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As temperatures drop, ice fisherman across the country are gearing up to get on the ice.  They know some of the best fishing takes place during the first part of the season.  Here on the Southeast side of Michigan’s lower peninsula, first ice means targeting the backwaters of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.  It is in these out of the way areas where some of the best perch fishing takes place as soon as the ice becomes safe enough to walk out on.
As the winds of November and December blow in the cold artic air, perch migrate in to feed on schools of baitfish. By the time the ice forms, the perch have moved into the back canals, creeks and marinas along the shorelines.  It is during the first ice period these fish tend to be on the bigger side and are at their most aggressive when feeding.  Later in the season they become less active or move out to deeper late season haunts.
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On Lake St. Clair ice fisherman will lower their equipment onto the ice and traverse break walls to get out on the many canals found on the east side of the lake.  They walk into marinas in search of perch, any shallow water area is fair game during first ice.  What makes LSC perch fishing unique isn’t the quality of the fishing, although very good, but two very original methods used to put the fish on the ice.
Lots of anglers are familiar with spearing through the ice.  Many go into dark fish houses and drop spears on northern pike.  In Michigan and Wisconsin spearing sturgeon is also allowed.  On Lake St. Clair though, spearing perch is allowed, and as far as I know, this is the only lake in the United States where it is allowed.
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The second unique method employed to catch perch, like other areas across the country involves a rod, reel and a spoon.  Now when I say spoon, your first thoughts might go to a small spoon presentation like Clam’s Blade or Speed Spoons, tipped with maggots.  The spoons used on Lake St. Clair have been called many names over the years, but all have certain characteristics in common.  They are wide at the top, they narrow towards the bottom, have a sharp bend before a barbless hook, dressed with a plastic bead is soldered onto the blank.
The uniquely shaped spoon will dart off and flair to the side of the hole on the drop, covering a wider circle below.  When a perch hits the spoon, there isn’t any time to play with the drag.  It is literally a race to get the fish out of the hole.  Anglers on LSC use a stiffer rod, either a light or medium light rig, and the reels are spooled up with 6 lb test mono, remember the hook is barbless, so keeping tension on the perch is the key to success.  Once out of the hole you don’t have to handle the fish to get it unhooked, simply drop the rod tip down, let the perch hit the ice, and it will wiggle off the hook by itself.
South of the Detroit River, the anglers chasing perch will find them in creeks, boat clubs and marinas.  Anglers in Michigan are allowed to use three rods each, all year long.  Because of this, I might take as many as six to 7 rods out with me on any given perch trip.
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Whether sitting in my Fish Trap or kneeling on the ice in front of my Vexilar, I want to cover as much of the ice in front of me as I possibly can.  One type of presentation will be the active one, which means jigging a bait.  My other approach will be less active, either watching a bobber or using a dead stick.
One or two rods will be rigged with spoons, one will be more along the lines of a traditional spoon with a treble hook like Clam’s Blade Spoon.  I can either be aggressive when jigging, or just give it a little jiggle now and then.  On another rod, I will have a Speed Spoon with its short gold chain going to the hook.  Either presentation can be tipped with plastics, maggots, whole minnow or just the head.
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My other jigging rods will be rigged with either horizontal or vertical jigs.  In most cases I prefer using a tungsten jig, and last year, had the most success with Clam’s Dingle drop jig.  That short chain with a colored bead presentation helped to get the near sighted perch to bite when other jigs failed.  Sometimes perch can be fussy when feeding, so some rods will be rigged with a #14 jig.  Go as small as you can, when conditions allow.  Many backwater spots don’t allow you to go too small though due to currents flowing through them.  If the water is moving at a good pace, drop a #12 or #10 jig down the hole.  Keeping your line vertical is critical when telegraphing your jigging action on the rod down to the bait.
My second tactic is more passive, utilizing either the dead stick or bobber rigged approach.  They both have a sinker and hook on the line, but I let the conditions tell me which one to use.  When dead sticking, I can either use a very soft glass rod, or a rod equipped with a spring bobber, both types will let you see what the rod is telling you about the perch’s activity below.  I prefer to use a dead stick outdoors, bobbers freeze and lines stick to the ice shards…etc.
When conditions dictate that I need to be inside my shack, then I prefer to use a slip bobber rig on my other rods.  Once I set the thread to the right depth, it goes back to the same place in the water column.  This is key because of fishable space in the shanty and I don’t have move my Vexilar to a different hole every time I put the bait back down the hole.  Do it once, and forget about it.
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The perch fishing in SE Michigan can be incredible, and although the approaches are a little different, both Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie have much to offer.   The perch are bigger, more aggressive, and you can use any of the techniques to get the job done.  Just remember to target these sometimes overlooked backwater areas at first ice for the best perch fishing of the ice season.
Copyright, 2014
Posted in Articles, Ice Fishing, Lake Erie, Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Vexilar Flashers and the Transducer of Your Choice

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Vexilar has so many great products to choose from, and there is some exciting new news this year when it comes to the camera systems, but for today it is all about the flashers. Since my first days of fishing tourneys on the old Ice Team Trap Attack series, I have fished every single tournament with a Vexilar flasher, the models have progressed over the years, but the Vex label was on every single unit I fished with.  I can honestly say this, there is not another product on the market I would go to war with, other than a Vexilar.

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The market has become more competitive with a lot of companies to choose from out there, but when there is money or a title on the line, Vexilar is the one unit I would never be nervous about depending on.  Without going into too many details, I have seen other brands fail at critical times on the ice during crunch time.  Not so with Vexilar, the units take the pounding and just keep finding the fish.

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Way back in the day, circa 2001 roughly, I fished my first tournament with an FL-8 SLT.  Notice the original Dave Genz USL Blue Box that the unit is mounted to.  On the old boxes there were two places where you could mount your transducer arm, either in the front, or on the side.  I preferred the side so that the unit was more in arm’s reach, and if I had a big gill or crappie, I could get the transducer out of the hole that much quicker.  The newer boxes only have the hole for front mounting.  I don’t think Vexilar will be too upset if I mention that I drill a hole in order to still be able to mount the arm on the side.  Actually, the concept works even better now, because the boxes are more compact and the ducer can be jerked out of the hole that much faster.

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The transducers available for the models vary, you can get a 9, 12, 19 degree Ice Ducer, or the Pro View ducer.  Starting with the 9′ option, you would use it if you are fishing in really deep water for maybe lake trout, 80 feet or deeper.  Remember some models will handle fishing over 300 ft of water. 12 degree ducers are your mid-range option, say 35 to 80 feet of water.  For 35 feet or less, then the 19′ Ice Ducer is the option you want, specially if there is current pushing your baits away from the center of your hole.  There is some overlap as far as to which transducer you can use, this is because you can increase or decrease the flasher’s signal strength by adjusting the gain, a knob on your unit.

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Now the Pro View Ice-Ducer is a different animal altogether.  It takes the place of the old reliable Tri-Ducer.  Where the Tri-Ducer would allow you to switch between 9, 12 and 20 degrees, the Pro View extends your viewing window down below by having a 30 to 9 degree range.  At the 30′ setting, you increase your view by roughly a third.  With the Pro View there isn’t a selector switch, you actually control your view by adjusting the gain knob.  This makes sense, since you increase your strength by turning the gain up, which takes you towards the 9′ limit.

To get a better concept of the transducers available, click on the link below that will take you to Vexilar’s website.

Vexilar Transducers

Copyright, 2014

 

 

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Organizing Your Ice Fishing Walleye Baits

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I had a high number of clicks this morning on this article and thought it would be good to bring it back up for reading. Lots of new readers, lots of fresh perspectives out there.  The interest probably resulted in posting yesterday’s walleye lure/ice fishing article, so it is worth a new look.

Icing Eyes: Organizing Your Walleye Lures

The piece is two years old, but I had reorganized my baits to make things more compact when hitting the ice.  Ice fishing can boil down to storage and weight, and even though hitting the big water means employing transportation, it does mean you can fit more “stuff” in your Fish Trap!  And if anyone knows me at all, I am all about the stuff, and being ready for adapting to what the walleye want.

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment