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

A Very Perchy Weekend on Lake Erie

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day Weekend, and after two days on the water I am ready for some relaxing. As in, cutting the grass and plugging in the Tumble Drumm’s and scaling 100 perch!  Saturday was crazy rough on the water, but yesterday it was glass going out, and had a nice little wind to keep the bugs down and a nice little chop going in.  In between, we kept throwing perch into the Catch Counter cooler until it hit the century mark and we got our two man limit in the boat!


Saturday, the Detroit Beach Boat Club held a perch tournament that was open to the public.  Rough, and I mean five to six foot waves,  kept a lot of boats away, or in some cases disabled, but for those who stuck it out saw some pretty nice perch come back to the docks for weigh-in.  We were in position for the 7am starting time, but discretion being the better part of valor, turned the boat around when the conditions got worse.  We sat at the docks for two hours waiting for the skies to clear and winds to die down.  Which was ok, one of our ice fishing buds was also there, no names, but it made the time go fly faster.

We got back out around 10:30 in the morning, and although the conditions were better, we still had a shower or two after that.  Dropped the anchor north of the first set of buoys on the River Raisin Channel and the first fish right away was a healthy nine inch perch.  Thought it might have been a good sign of things to come, but not really.  We hit a few fish here and there, but only managed 20 total before heading in at 1:45 for the 2pm weigh-in.

We saw some nice fish, and quite a few teams brought in their 30 perch limits. Should mention, even though you can catch 50 in Michigan waters, that you just had to weigh your best 30 fish.  Congrats to everyone for showing up in the weather, and to the DBBC for hosting another fine event.

Sunday was another story, great weather, and even though we like cruising a steady 30 mph heading out, really was glad that finally some wind kicked up just a bit to take the edge of the heat.  Started out east of the channel and had no bites at all.  Then headed east and north to some 25 foot water.  There we picked up six fish, not the start we wanted to get and then I remembered that Captain Paul Doute had called when we left the dock, so grabbed the phone and made the call.  Paul runs Anglers Quest Charters and had some clients catching some pretty nice fish, and they were coming in nice and steady, so we made our move in to 22 fow nearby and started catching perch.

By that time it was around 1pm, and fishing was mostly steady, with only a few lulls in the action.  We had our St. Croix Premier ultra lights bent over on some really nice fish here and there for most of the day.  There were very few moments where we could pick up the phone or answer texts.  Despite steady action, the bites were extremely light, specially on the bigger fish. Luckily had all the reels strung with braid, and when using the right weight/sinker, you can draw your line up like a bowstring, and feel every twang!  Yesterday we were using 1 oz weights, the day before in the rough weather, I switched over to 1.5 oz weights.

We fished till almost sundown, pushing it until we got the two limit in the Big Mouth Catch Counter.  If you haven’t heard of the Catch Counter, it is the cat’s “tail” when it comes to keeping track of how many perch, as well as bluegill and crappie you catch.  No more worrying whether you are going over your limit or not.  I have tried the little clickers, and no matter the best intentions of keeping track, you always miss a few clicks and have to physically count to make sure of your count.


Keeps your fish in a cooler, and yes, a bag of ice will last all day inside, despite there being a big hole in the top of the cooler!


The counter is right in back of the “hood” where you put in the fish in.  Once the flap goes down, the counter counts another fish!


There are the 100, just waiting for me to finish this article and get cleaned.

Going in, we were treated to another great Lake Erie sunset.  God surely can paint some beautiful scenery in this world, and seeing some red sky on the way, should have made for a great day this morning on the water!  Perch season is under way, time to get you some!

Copyright, 2015

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

Smart Phones are GREAT Tools

I love my SonarPhone from Vexilar, it’s a wonderful tool to have while fishing.  You see everything that your sonar will show you, right on your phone or tablet!  But, for this article, there is another reason why your phone can be a great tool when it comes to fishing!


It is also a great memory aide for anglers, and a place to store information.  Take a picture and you have a quick reference, and if you have cloud storage, it’s there forever, even if your phone takes a crap on you.  This picture below is a great example,  Sometimes when you are running crawler harnesses, you know those walleye are running high in the water column.  You want to be able to change your weights quickly as conditions and fish dictate, so the split shot is a weapon most walleye guys have in their bag of tricks.  The problem is, all those weird numbers on the bag of shot do not translate to their real weight.  So I found a chart, wrote it down, snapped a picture and have it at the ready anytime I need it.


Now think about all the great pics of lures you see on Facebook or all the various fishing forums out there.  You want that color in your tackle bag, but for whatever reason you aren’t ready to place an order to your favorite custom painter (Big Eye Custom Lures for me), so you save the picture on your phone for later.  Even if it’s just a stock color that you don’t have, save the pic for when you go shopping again, or just for reference as you surf the web looking for that lure at the right price.

Big Eye Custom Lures

Big Eye Custom Lures

Big Eye Custom Lures

Big Eye Custom Lures

Also, when it comes to those pesky tools that never seem to go back in their right place when they came out of the carrying case for the first time.  Those, “How did that battery fit in there again?”, kind of questions are readily solved by looking up the pic on your phone!  The uses are almost endless, and when you think about it, you are almost never without a phone within grasp in this hi-tech world we know live in.


Copyright, 2015


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Perch or Walleye, Lake Erie is Producing Good Numbers

Whatever you prefer to catch, right now Lake Erie is having one of those late summer bites that come around every few years.  Walleye guys are catching perch, the perch people are catching walleye on their perch rigs, and limits are being caught out of Brest Bay, here in Monroe.


Those seeking walleye are managing quick limits, sometimes getting it done in three hours or less.  The question isn’t what is working best, but what isn’t working.  And the answer to that is, it’s all working right now. Reports are varied from crawler harnesses to every type of crankbait imaginable.   The most encouraging thing coming out of all this success is the numbers of short fish being caught.  Large numbers of walleye from 5 to 14 inches are being caught and returned back to grow some more.


Perch, perch and yes…more perch!  Although the size seems to be up, most fish are in the 8 to 9″ range, but there are some 12 and 13 inch fish being caught as well.  Using the traditional perch rig, with three hooks works the best.  The bottom two hooks have been most productive, but putting a large emerald shiner on the top hook calls the big perch in, and  producing a few bonus walleye as well.

For the most part, the white perch and silver bass are staying off the hooks.  So get up early, beat the heat, and start catching some fish!

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Fishing Reports, Perch Fishing, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

The Best Perch Rods for Lake Erie


The best perch rods are the ones you have the most confidence in, basically meaning what works best for you, is the best perch rod.  For me, I have a couple of St. Croix rods that work the best for me, and have confidence in both of them.  My first rod was a six-foot ultra light Premier,  loved that rod.  My second rod was a bit of a step-up, a 6’6″ Avid, light action spinning rod.


In my opinion, the longer the rod is serves two things, one you get some additional backbone and the 2nd being that you keep the ultra light sensitivity at the tip of the rod. I haven’t quite talked myself into a seven-foot, Legend Elite rod yet, but am really close to doing it, maybe next year!


Next in order to get the most out of your new perch rod, you need three things to complete the deal.  First off, you need a good quality spinning reel.  You don’t need to break the bank on this choice, depending on the brand, something in the $50 to 90 dollar range will do nicely.  My thought on this is to buy the rod first, then take it in to your local fishing hole and get a reel that gives you the most balance, and comfort with the rod. A Daiwa Exceler would be a great choice in the 1500 or 2000 size.  Good quality reel, that has a good drag in case you hook something bigger than a perch.

Secondly, you have the rod, and now the reel, time to spool the reel up.  In order to get the most of this rig, you must use a braid! Mono, in this case, just will not get the job done. In order to get the most out of  your perch rod, the use of braid will enable everything happening below to be telegraphed up the non-stretch line back to the rod, and ultimately your hand. The stretchy mono, just doesn’t do it as well. For this application,  what you will want to use is a line with a rating between 6 and 10 lbs. test.

Last of all, is the weight  you will be using.  You might have thought I would say the perch rig itself, but honestly those are pretty generic.  I enjoy making my own rigs, but you can get some pretty good ones at the bait shop.  Why then is the weight the key for this last installment of information.  Think of your whole set-up as an archery bow.  Your rod is the bow, the line is your string, and you drawing back is your weight at the end of the line.  In order to get that “twang”, the weight must be heavy enough to draw your braided line tight when you lift up on your rod.  It is crucial to keep contact with the bottom to get the most sensitivity out of the gear, without over doing it. Too heavy of a weight, and then your start to counter all the good things you have purchased to make the best perch set-up you can.

Due to the changing conditions on Lake Erie, I have a selection of weights that keep on the lake floor.  Three quarters of an ounce, 1 oz, and 1.5 ounce weights will do the job nicely.  If it’s a calm flat day, use your 3/4 oz weights, if you have some two foot waves, then I use the 1 oz weights, anything more than 2 ft. then the conditions will call for the 1.5’s at the bottom of your rig.

Through all of this info, it starts with the right rod. You won’t go wrong with a St. Croix, after all, as the motto says, they are, “The Best Rods on Earth”!

Copyright, 2015

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Who Makes the Best Crawler Harness?



The question posed today was this, “Who makes the best crawler harness?”.   The answer to the question is an easy one, and many anglers will say the same thing, I do!  Not to say, those many will say that I do, but as individuals, they will be saying the same thing about themselves.


Why is that, because by making your own rigs, you can make them to your specifications.  I use the parts I like best, like Big Eye Custom Lures Colorado and Willow blades for an example.  I trust their quality, performance, and most importantly, past results!  I buy the beads that work for me, and I choose to use folded clevises because I don’t have faith that the quick change plastic ones will hold my blades on.  Faith is a huge part in this, if you lack confidence in your rig, then you have lost half the battle already.

Confidence, you have to have it, and that’s why I choose 20 lb test for tying up my rigs.  I know 20 lb will hold up to trolling on Lake Erie, but every time I bring a harness back to the boat, I check it for any nicks before putting it back in the water…just in case.  I also trust the hooks I use, and I make mine with three hooks, because for me, two hooks are not enough.  First I snell two, #2 sized hooks, and then tie on a #1.  I like the #1 because often the fish will bite at the spinner blade, and also works best for me when using plastic worms when the time calls for it.

Trust, I believe in my 8ft St. Croix trolling rods, after all, they are the “Best Rods on Earth”.  But because they are 8 foot in length, I can tie my rigs a lot longer than most people.  I firmly believe that you should make your rigs as long as your rod can handle, so when considering the length, the bend of the rod with a fish on, I make my harnesses roughly 7 to 7.5 ft in total length.  Get them far away from your weight or diving device, less chance of spooking a good sized walleye, that is why I believe in my own hand tied rigs.

Believe, if you truly believe in your rig, then good things will come.  If you have confidence, and you trust your components, the belief part will come naturally.  So to answer the question for today, who makes the best crawler harness,  my answer stands….I do!  And if you make  your rigs, then you will be saying you do too!

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Do-It-Yourself | Leave a comment

Drifting for Big Water Walleye

You want to try your hand at catching walleye on the Great Lakes, but your boat might be too small, or its not rigged yet for trolling….no problem!  You have many options available, and they all produce almost, or on some days, as good as the fancy trolling set-ups.  Drifting for walleye is a highly effective approach, and a lot of fun, as well.

You can break out the old standards like your vintage golden nuggets, or classic Erie Deeries, but you can do better than that, and honestly it won’t cost you as much either.  I should have added casting to the mix to go along with drifting, but even with the vaunted Weapon Rig, you can drift and put a lot of walleye in the box.

If you are going to cast the weapons, here is what you will need:

(1) egg sinkers, in weights of 3/8th, 1/2, and 3/4 ounce.  I prefer casting with my casting St. Croix rod, so I like the 3/4 oz., but if you have a spinning rod, you might personally like the 3/8ths or 1/2 oz sinkers more.

(2) 5 mm beads in various colors to match up to your blades.

Big Eye Custom Lures

Big Eye Custom Lures

(3) although traditionally made with #3 size blades, don’t be overly concerned if you want a #4 spinner blade on your rig.  In fact, I prefer the #4’s because I can get more color options in my blades.  If I want to run my favorite Big Eye Custom Lures blade that has been killing fish in the #6 size while trolling, the website has the exact selection in #4’s as well.

(4) #4 octopus hooks, will leave the brand of hook up too you, way too many good ones out there to get into that discussion, but to name a few; Matzuo, Mustad and Gamakatsu all make good hooks.  You can be traditional and use one hook, but if you decide to run the #4 blades, you might want to run two #4’s or even a #4 octopus with a #10 treble hook.

If you want to run, or should say, “drag” a drift rig, here is what you will need for that set-up:

(1) bottom bouncers, in a selection of 1, 1.5 or 2 ounce weights.  Some may say they use a 3/4 oz. BB, but for me they are too light in most all big water situations when considering depth and wind.  Leave the .75’s for the inland lakes.

(2) #4 blades, preferably Colorado’s, they make a nice thump in the water to call the fish in.  Don’t overlook  the Smile Blade from Mack’s Lures, these light weight mylar “wings” spin in the slowest of wind conditions.

(3) 5 mm beads, again various color options, and yes….you can run these with the smile blades, without getting the stack beads or “ring” in the middle.

(4) the hooks are the same as the weapon rig, just use either two #4’s, or a #4 with a #10 treble.

Spinning rod and reel set-ups are perfectly fine, that’s what makes these rigs so appealing to anglers just getting started, you don’t need all the gear. A 6’6″ or 7′, medium light or medium action rod will do nicely. For casting I break out my trusty St. Croix Premier 7′ Medium casting rod, have had it so long, yes I could upgrade, but just love it.  When it comes to drifting with a spinning outfit, it is hard to be beat my 7ft medium light Avid. You will want the reels rigged up with a braid, specially when drifting, 8 to 15 lb test will fit the bill, and if you already have 20 lb on spooled up, the small diameter of the line will let you fish with that line too.


Now, if you want to get a little more advanced, here is how you can get dialed in.  Start with a Daiwa SC 17 LC3B reel,  this little version of the big water trolling reel is perfect for all baitcast rods you might already have.  Now you break out the newest tools available from Church Tackle and things really start clicking!  The new TX-005 Stern Planer works so well you would think it was made for the drifters!


The smaller version of the TX-007 that I use when trolling, -005 allows you to reach out and touch the walleye you are seeing on your graph.  Set your depth, attach the stern planer, and let it out behind the boat.  With no motor running in the background, they could have called this the “Stealth” planer!

Copyright, 2015

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

The Catch Counter, almost Perch Season again!

I saw what was trending today on the blog search type thing, and apparently great minds do think alike because I was just thinking about perch fishing last night, and breaking out my Catch Counter to keep track of all the fish as they come into the boat.


This is the first article I ever wrote about the Catch Counter, three years ago.

The Original Catch Counter

Last year.

Introducing the Big Mouth Version.


Converting to a bucket rig, for ice fishing and for use in smaller boats.

You really have three options when looking to purchase the Catch Counter.  The first one is just to get the head.  This works if you have some tools necessary to get the job done, and either a cooler or bucket you don’t mind putting a hole in its lid.

Second option is to order the cooler and head together.  Catch Counter does all the work for you before they ship it out, meaning….everything is pre-drilled and ready for you to install.  That is part is extremely simple.  Then if you want to make a bucket rig like I did in the Winter Conversion article, just trace out your hole by using the head as your template and go from there.  A bag of ice will last all day, even with a big hole in the lid!

Your third option is to get the bucket mounted Big Mouth Catch Counter.  If you have a small boat, this is a great option.  Later if you want to make it more versatile, you can convert it over to a cooler.  With the right tools, it might take you some extra time vs. ordering the cooler option, but you can get the job done.

Read the articles, and enjoy the information, and if you like them for perch, bluegill or crappie fishing, check out the website:


Copyright, 2015


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

New from Church Tackle for 2015

A couple of years ago when Church Tackle came out with the TX-007 Stern Planer, I started thinking about what it might be like to fish smaller sizes in the Upper Peninsula’s inland lakes.  Pike, crappie and even bass fishing could have uses for different sizes.  I contacted Church about the idea, they were way ahead of me and for the past three years I have been sitting on pics of planers in different lengths.  Now though, Church Tackle has introduced their latest release of the highly successful planer, the TX-005 Stern Planer!

TX-005 Stern Planer

TX-005 Stern Planer


Also, in addition to the launch of the -005, Church is releasing a flag kit for the TX-12 Mini Planer.  This is literally a HUGE thing, at least in my opinion.  Not only is this going to be big with the panfish guys when it comes to crappie fishing, but with using a flag kit with this smaller board, there are several new applications when it comes to walleye fishing!


Now sense my panfishing starts through the ice, and ends in the spring when taking my niece out crappie fishing, just think walleye applications with the new flag system on the Mini-Planer.  Inland fisherman should be drooling right now, specially in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.  You get all the benefits of running a Walleye Board or TX-22, equipped with a flag system, but in a much smaller profile.  Stealth mode in shallow water bite times!  Running small Glass Shad Raps, and regular Shad Raps, deep or shallow lips.  All kinds of small baits that excel on the inland lakes, but are just too tiny for the Great Lakes will really shine while being pulled behind the TX-12 and the smaller TX-005, as well!

Now, think big water walleye.  You aren’t a troller, you enjoy drifting and saving a little gas money at the same time.  When the wind is right, you can put trolling motor up, or shut down the kicker and drift with the wind like the old days.  Only difference is now  you are getting a wider spread, and getting your lines away from the boat too.   Bust out those 1 oz keel weights or bottom bouncers and rig them with some #4 Colorado blades, Smile Blades, anything that will spin at slower speeds on a consistent basis.  Remember, the wind has to be right in order to push the boat along at a good clip, but if you are going to fast, throw out the drift bags and slow your troll down.

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Panfish Fishing, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment