Archive for November, 2010

Vexilar: how to use videos on YouTube

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

So you want to go ice fishing? Want to get a flasher, but never used one before and not sure which unit is right for you?  Welcome to the next century, there are a TON of videos out there that explain it all to  you.

Check out the video from Vexilar:

This was made before introduction of the new FL-22 HD model.  Here is a video from the ICAST show, which is where the companies all go to introduce the newest and bluest in the fishing/angling world.

Spring Bobbers: How to Choose…..

Monday, November 29th, 2010

How to choose a good spring bobber for ice fishing, its a lil’ more complicated than you might think.

Back in the early days of ice fishing, you really had two choices available to you as an ice fisherman when it came to spring bobbers for rods.  Either make your own, or buy some primitive form in your local bait shop, if they carried them at all.  Now some guys were pretty creative when it came to making their own, while some smashed up a Bic lighter or push top pen to get the spring mechanism out of.

Although the pic below isnt one from a lighter or a pen, you can get the idea of what they looked like from this model from HT Enterprise.

For most of us, St. Croix came out with the first hybrid system, with an action to fit all your needs. 

These were the first introduction here in the US of a specialized tip/spring to fit an angler’s needs on the ice.  Although each model is designed to match up the weight of the lures you will be using, you can go further in your sensitivity by pushing the spring in, or out to adjust its action.

A few who got turned onto them a bit earlier than the St Croix’s, went with the springs from the European style of rod.  Today you can them here in the states through  on their lineup of ice rods.  You can also choose which strength to get to fit your type of fishing.

While fishing the Ludington qualifier for the NAIFC circuit last year, I got turned onto these springs from .  Loved the action, wasn’t so crazy on the clip for attaching to my rods.  My ice rods were just a bit thin in the blank near the tip for it to work properly.  So being the tinker that I can be, I cut the clips, grabbed some epoxy n thread and attached them to two of my fav St Croix’s.  Had a top 20 finish the next time out in Wisconsin.

Since then I have contacted the company, worked on a few ideas, and had the “micro light” action springs mailed out to me, without the clips.  Now if my next batch of St. Croix’s get here in time, they will be rigged up and ready to go for the national championships in Rhinelander, Wisconsin on the 18th and 19th of December.

Gone Mobile

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Well I went and done it, two firsts for this angler.  One, went shopping in the early morning hrs of Black Friday, secondly picked up a laptop to go with the home office.  Additionally went to the wireless router route, so typing now live from the fishing HQ, other wise know as the shop or man cave.

So will be able to touch base from seminars and the ice tour…etc.  Plus get some work done on the road….bonus  :)

Northland Tackle: Live Forage Bait Video

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Check out the video of Northland Tackle’s new line up of lures designed to replicate the action of live bait.

3 Weeks till Wisconsin

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

A buddy just asked me if I was ready for ice fishing, and wanting to go is a lot different than being ready to go.

I have been charging the batteries for the camera, flasher and Ice Gator auger.  There is a lot more to do though.

Need to spool up the reels with fresh line, get some new leader material.  I have six St. Croix’s coming in the mail, and need to put new spring bobbers on those. Have to remember where I put the electrical tape to attach the reels to the rods.

Ok, side note:        Why do I get rods with the “tennessee” handles, instead of  the ones  with the screw to tight the reel down? Because of the balance.  You can choose the spot where the reel feels the most comfortable that way.  Not too far back, but right where I want it when go through the jigging progression, then eventually on the hookset, as well.

Need to get the shanties and sleds down,  and check the runners and the material of the tent for holes…etc.  Something always comes loose during the previous season, so it is a good idea to get in their with a socket n wrench and tighten everything up.  Better to take care of it now, than for something to go phooey out on the ice.  Yes, phooey is a word, Hong Kong said it was!  (old cartoon reference)

Clothes, if you were smart, you put them away in one place.  Unlike myself last year, where some are in the basement, some in the bedroom, the utility room, the fishing buckets or even the storage box back on the quad out in the shop :(  Get them washed, organized and put in that one spot where you can find them again, or go out and replace that one glove you lost to the pair, and will only find when you buy a new pair, HALF WAY THROUGH THE SEASON.

Check your machines!  My tourney partner is out shopping for a new battery for his sled as we speak/type.  I know I need to get out to the shop and check tire pressure, now was it five pounds in the front, and six in the back?  Time to get the Polaris manual out and check it again, its not stamped on the fancy tires for some reason!!!!  Also need to check radiator fluid levels and get my filling kit ready for the trip.  Ever have ice build up around the fan and the engine over heat?  It can happen, then try to get the front cover off to the engine with an auger rack attached!  Have the hose and the funnel to fill up through the reserve!

There is more, but make your own list, and in the spirit of the season coming up, CHECK IT TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What Shanty Fits You

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

For a lot of my ice fishing, towing a Shappell Jet Sled behind my quad is all I need when hitting the frozen lakes of Michigan.  Its a run and gun approach at its best; find the fish, stay on the fish and put fish in the bucket.  But there are days when the sled cannot do what a good shack (s) will do.

Before those days come up, you the angler has to ask the question, “What shanty fits my method of fishing  or even “My needs on the ice?”

First off, you need to define how you fish and what you want out of a new coop.  Do you have a hot spot all picked out and want to be in comfort while jerking fish on the ice?  Do  you try new lakes and need something light and mobile?  How about hitting the big water on a regular basis and looking for durability with a lot of elbow room and storage?  Are you a tightliner or do you like to watch the action below while sight fishing?  These questions need to be answered before you willy nilly go into the store and purchase your investment.  Yes,  investment, not a purchase.  You are getting another tool needed to complete the mission, and it has to be the right fit.

Let’s dive in with you are the type of angler who likes his comfort and know where you are going.  What would be the best type of shack for you?  In the old days I would have said you need a cabin style shanty like the Clam 5600.

Love my 5600, roomy enough for two and most of the gear.  Could even hang my parka from the support poles when it got warm enough.  These days though, you can get comfort and quick set up with the new pop up style shelters on the market.  Slightly larger than my beloved 5600 is the new Summit Thermal.  Insulated walls, light weight, lots of floor space and can be packed in a sled or on the machine of  your choice.

Not a sit in one spot kind of ice fisherman?  No worries,  when you are on a new lake, or you know the fish you seek are going to transition throughout the day,  then light weight and mobile is the way to go.  I used to do it in a Fish Trap Pro from Clam.

These days you can sight fish and run n gun in style in a Trapper.  Small, light weight.  Its the perfect first ice or sight fishing  coop coming in at 38 lbs.  Also, a nice shack for fishing tourneys like out at Knutson’s in Brooklyn or the NAIFC tour.  If you have never been to one, you have to go at least once.  You learn more about fishing in three days than you would in three winters.

Or if you do not mind a little extra weight in a one man shack, the Pro TC ( TC = thermal cap) give you some elbow room and comfort.  The thermal cap which was introduced a couple of years ago holds in 15% more heat without adding a whole lot of weight to the product.

Now if you have a quad or sled to haul things around, you are the guy who hits the big water with a lot of gear and a buddy or the kids, then the big flips are for you.  Heavy duty tubs for your base, HD tubing make up the poles…they are just beasts on the ice.  The Voyager TCX  which I picked up last year is the cat’s meow.

Look at all the fishable space inside…

Throw in the comfy swivel seats for two…

I got this thing for hitting the big water; Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Little Bay de Noc.  Plenty of room for loading up all the gear I would need for a weekend of fishing on some of Michigan’s best walleye waters. It is the ultimate flip for durability and comfort while being in some of the harshest conditions Michigan has to offer.

Not sure what style is right for you, email at for more info.  I am on Clam’s pro staff and can fill you in.  There are more choices than what I highlighted today, and you can go to to see them all.

Looking for the right sled for  your needs, ask me anything about what Shappell has to offer, always willing to promote a good Michigan (Grand Ledge)  product and they offer a variety of sizes to fit your personal needs on the ice, in the woods or the marshes.  Email away with questions or check out the product yourself at many of the retailers through the state or at their site,

Copyright, 2010

Michigan DNR Fishing Report: 11/19/2010

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Not only is this a great time of year to fish, but anglers will find more room to do so because boat launches, docks and other types of fishing piers are not crowded. This is when shore anglers catch steelhead and whitefish. Inland lakes and the backwaters of rivers also provide excellent fishing opportunities for pretty much any species out there including bluegill, crappie, perch, bass, pike, and walleye.

Southeast Lower Peninsula

Lake Erie - Is producing a few nice perch for those fishing off the docks at the Metro Park Marina. The bluegill bite has been slow however a few crappie were caught.

Huron River - Anglers are getting steelhead. Some are fishing between Flat Rock and Rockwood while others are concentrating near the mouth. Try a jig and wax worm or small crank baits.

Detroit River - This is the time of year to catch big perch. Anglers have done well around Sugar Island on perch rigs with minnows. Walleye are hitting on black jigs with natural colored worms near Gibraltar and Horse Island.

Port Sanilac - Pier and small boat anglers are fishing for perch and brown trout inside the harbor and around the piers.

Harbor Beach - Still has one dock in at the launch.

Port Austin - Also has one dock in at the public access site.

Saginaw Bay - Had no reports however anglers should still be able to find some walleye especially near the mouth of the Saginaw River. Check out the cuts and canals for panfish.

Southwest Lower Peninsula

St. Joseph River - Water levels remain very low which means boat anglers need to use extreme caution especially if you do not know the river. Boats are consistently coming in with engine and hull damage. Steelhead fishing remains good. Boat anglers are catching more fish than shore anglers. Spawn was the bait of choice.

Grand Haven - Is still producing some steelhead and whitefish. Early morning and late evening are best.

Grand River at Grand Rapids - Is still producing some steelhead up near the dam for those floating or drifting flies, streamers or spawn. Those fishing near Fulton Street are doing well with Hot-n-Tots or spawn bags in the early morning.

Grand River at Lansing - No reports on steelhead this week. Not many anglers were out except for a few taking pike over at the Moore’s Park Dam.

Looking Glass River - Usually produces some good pike action this time of year.

Muskegon - Both pier anglers and those surfcasting have caught steelhead.

Muskegon Lake - Walleye can be found along the weeds and drop offs when trolling rapalas or drifting crawler harnesses.

Muskegon River - Those fishing the lower reaches have caught steelhead. Water levels are low and clear which makes fishing more difficult.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Alpena - Good whitefish action is the story this week. Opening day of deer season also marks the date when the peak of the whitefish spawn occurs in Lake Huron. Try the reefs in Thunder Bay with ice fishing jigs and small minnows at dusk and dawn.

Thunder Bay River - Steelhead have been caught up near the dam. Brown trout have also been caught and whitefish can be found in the lower river.

Au Sable River - Some really good steelhead fishing is to be had from Oscoda upstream to Foote Dam however low water levels are making it harder to catch fish. Whitefish should be in the lower river as they prepare to spawn. Early morning and late evening are best when using small jigs with a minnow, wax worm or single egg.

Tawas - Whitefish are schooling along the breakwall. Try ice fishing jigs with small minnows or other small lures. Best fishing is dusk and dawn.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Petoskey - Recent reports say fair to good steelhead fishing in the harbor. Wind and weather determine if the fish move in or not and a northwest wind is best when fishing in this area. Try floating spawn bags off the city dock in town or off the beach between the river and the breakwall.

Charlevoix - Is producing steelhead and whitefish. Fishing off the rocks into the boat slip at the Medusa Plant is a good bet. A single egg is good for whitefish and steelhead however those floating spawn bags off the bottom will catch more steelhead.

Lake Charlevoix - Those fishing near the mouth of the Boyne River have caught good numbers of steelhead. Boat and shore anglers are catching jumbo perch.

Betsie River - Steelhead fishing has been slow. Those fishing above the M-31 Bridge have caught fish on spawn and black streamers. A few chinook were caught on flies at the Homestead Dam.

Manistee - Pier fishing and surfcasting for steelhead continues with good catches on the right day.

Manistee River - Has been crowded on the weekends. Steelhead fishing continues to be the main game however the clear and low water levels are making it difficult.

Pere Marquette River - Needs rain to bring up water levels. Those fishing the lower river have caught a couple nice steelhead on flies, eggs or streamers. A few brown trout were also caught however they were small.

Upper Peninsula

Marquette - Shore anglers are looking for menominee. Best action comes from a small hook with a single egg or wax worm off the Lower Harbor breakwall.

Little Bay De Noc - Had fair walleye fishing with most anglers trolling crank baits in the flats between Saunders Point and Garth Point or just off the reefs in 10 to 35 feet of water. Some were also drifting chubs along the weeds. Best time to fish was late evening and into the night. Some large fish were caught off the east bank along Stonington in 8 to 30 feet of water. Overall, good numbers of fish were marked throughout the Bay with catches increasing every week. Perch fishing was still fair to good from the Narrows north to the Day’s River. Try minnows in 10 to 25 feet of water from the Second Reef to the green buoy just off the Day’s River.

St. Mary’s River - Walleye are being caught in Munuscong Bay.

2011 Ice Fishing Gear, Part II

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Continuing  from yesterday before the run for some chinese lunch interrupted the thought process…..

Refresh:  Yesterday brought up charging batteries, changing line and replenishing  jig n spoon supplies.

Today,  reels and rods, maybe a few more things too. Its six am and the dogs got me up early an hour ago!

Love my Daiwa Caprices on my ice rods, smooth drag and easy to reel.  Besides, the looks I get when a big gill or crappie starts pulling line and the drag starts talking, was worth the price of the reel by itself!  Reel maintenance is always the key, but think in reverse folks.  Less grease is good,  too much and the handle will become sluggish or  freeze up on you.  In fact, its been years since I have added any grease to these reels, but I use them strictly for ice fishing.  If I was going to break them out again in the spring I would touch them up a little with a shot or two of grease to keep them running smooth.  Wondering about the Crown Royal bag?  They make GREAT reel bags for storage during the off season.  Luckily I know a few people who enjoy CR and was able to get a few bags here and there when I needed them.  Another good source is from your local bar or tavern.  They hardly ever get thrown away and they are usually saved for their regular customers.

Find reels that you like with the same qualities and match them up to the rods.  Normally for an open water rod, I would do it in reverse order.  Pick the rod first, then find a good reel to check for feel and balance, But, with ice fishing with everything being on the small size, sometimes you just cannot do it that way.

Rods are perhaps the most discussed piece of equipment out on the ice.  Feel and balance is such a personal preference that you can really ruffle a few feathers if  you voice your opinion too strongly.  The easiest way, is just to say, this is what I like and let the discussion take off from there.  My approach is match up the rod with the presentation.

Taking the Bass Approach to Ice Fishing             This is the link back to a piece I did about rods and ice fishing a few weeks ago.  My really small jigs get rigged up on St. Croix rods with the Legend spring bobbers. My mid sized jigs go on my Thorne Bros. Power Noodles.  Which reminds me before I head off on another tangent or two….

….inspect your rods now before the season starts.  Check the eyes on the rods for any burrs, and make sure your blanks are in good shape.  I just had two repaired, and already were sent back. Love a good company and the service they provide.  The rods are your tools out on the ice like any other piece of equipment, if one fails, it doesn’t matter what kind of shape the others are in.

I do like my perch rods to be a bit stiffer, somewhat because the jigs and spoons that will be going down the hole are going to be  the bigger sizes.  Not too mention that perch are usually more aggressive when feeding, you almost always know when a perch strikes your bait.

Walleye rods,  what can one say?  They come in a variety of sizes,  powers and actions.  Depending on your needs and fishing style, in today’s ice market, you can find them all.  My rods vary from 26 inch  up to 42″,  I could be fishing inside my Fish Trap or I might be running and gunning across the lake and fishing basically off the quad.

The hook size and approach dictate which rod to choose.  On the smaller spoons, which of course have smaller trebles I want a rod that will have the backbone to set the hook, but have the tip action that won’t  rip it out of the mouth, but gives it a chance to sink in.  Bigger baits equal bigger hook gaps in the trebles and the stiffer rods can be used then.  If fact, they are preferred when driving the big hooks.

Time to break this up for a while, dogs are getting anxious to do their thing outside and the coffee thing is sounding pretty good right now!

Copyright, 2010

Ice Fishing Around the Corner

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The North American Ice Fishing Championships are just around the corner,  and got the itch to get ready now.  Batteries are all charged up for the new Vexilar FL-22HD flasher, underwater camera and IceGator electric auger.  Already to hook up the quad and head to Wisconsin!

I had to come up with a checklist of things to get done first though.

First off, need new line to spool up the reels.  With heavier lines you might be able to get by for a year without respooling, but when dealing with two pound test, don’t be a cheap skate.  Its not worth losing a big fish, it could be your wall hanger. Love the high vis gold line for being able to see my line during tightlining, but the same applies to my leader material.  Well worth getting new fresh  fluorocarbon, just not worth losing the fish or my jig.

Next up, replenish any jigs that worked really well last year that were lost.  Even though each one is like a prized Hot Wheels car in a collection, you do lose a few here and there.  Get them now, avoid the rush when they might be sold out!  Also take a look at any new product that might be out there, Northland has some SWEET looking new jigging spoons and a blade bait under the “Live Forage” banner.  The small size looks like a crappie and perch killer.

More things for your checklist tomorrow, have just been told we are going out for Chinese, love lunch!

Boat U.S. : good idea to have insurance on the water

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Well after Saturday’s little adventure with the battery dying in the dark, while out on Erie in four and five foot waves, if you don’t have tow insurance on your boat, you should.  Its reasonably priced, and the first time you have to use it, it more than pays for itself.  The Boat U.S. franchise out of Bolles Harbour was everything  you could ask for when you are stranded on the water.  They wasted little time getting to the boat, the operator was knowledgeable and courteous, kept in contact with us and most importantly, got the job done right.

Here is the link for the website: