Archive for December, 2010

Ice Fishing Jigs: how to organize your panfish arsenal

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

How bad do  you have it?  Come on, really how bad are you addicted to the sport of ice fishing?  Well if you have half the sickness that consumes me, here are some helpful hints for keeping your ice fishing panfish jigs organized and protected.

I started out with the small fly fishing boxes to keep things organized, but quickly realized that after four boxes,  it could lead to dilemmas down the road.  When the opportunity arose to purchase these bass plastics bags (meaning when they were on sale) I jumped at this new way to organize my pannie collection of jigs and lures.  I even labeled them by species; bluegill, crappie and perch.

Each bag came with seven pages with a clear plastic window, zippered pocket on the outside for additional storage, and two more zippered mesh compartments on the inside.  I keep diamond files, extra leader material and spare hooks each in bag.

This is the bluegill bag, and if you have been buying lately, you know that even the smallest ice jigs can cost  you more than a few bucks.  The foam inserts help hold the jigs in place, and protects them from bouncing around.  In other words, no more paint jigs at the bottom of your Plano boxes.  Each “page” in the book is by first brand and then style if need be.

Next up is the crappie bag.  The nice thing about this way to organize your jigs is that they actually overlap in their use.  There are times when bluegill jigs will catch more crappie, and times when the crappie jigs will catch more perch.  It becomes a very versatile way to keep things organized.  In this case I do have a couple of fly boxes in the picture, but they are actually for true flies that I use for dropping down the holes. Weighted or dry, they have thier place under the ice while putting more fish on the right side of the hole.

Last of all are the perch jigs, this is an expanded organizational method.  I have a small Plano tool box to go with the bag,  that also stores the 3500 trays and four more small jig boxes.  I just don’t use them for jigs, they are my perch and crappie spoons, Jigging Raps, Chubby Darters, Northland Airplanes and small Nils Jiggers.

That’s the panfish jig arsenal, safe and protected, as well, as organized!

Copyright, 2010

The Next Bite and the Ice Men on Versus

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

I caught a new show for Versus yesterday afternoon, The Next Bite.  It was all about trolling down by the Bass Islands in the spring during the temperature transition time period.  That time slot when it could go either way with the type of lures that you use, cranks or harnesses.

It revolves around that 50 degree mark we all watch that says its time to put away the cranks and break out the crawler spinner rigs. Not familiar with this little golden rule of trolling?  Below 50′ and you should be pulling cranks behind your boards, anything above and its time to dunk some worms behind the spinner blades.

But, like anything in fishing, every golden rule has some wiggle room.  When the temps hover right around that 50′ mark, +/- a degree, it becomes a gray area.  The topic of the show dealt with that very slot, and started pulling meat and cranks during the same sets.  Not a set on television show where the action takes place, but when you put your boards out, they are often referred to as your “set”.

Anyway, with any show about fishing, I was looking for content instead of flash.  The Next Bite provided both, but with more content than most shows.  Have heard for years guys tinkering with putting a piece of crawler on the belly hook of the crank, and they even said they will put a chunk of Gulp on as well.  Already started the wheels spinning, and think I nice big ol’ Jumbo Wedgee from Little Atom might be a nice added attraction to try this spring.

If you want to catch this particular show again on trolling walleyes on Lake Erie, you can watch again Thursday morning at 7:30 am, or set your recorder type device to tape/save it.

If you aren’t ready to start thinking about open water fishing  just yet and still need to get  your ice fix going, then tune in at 9:30 Wednesday morning to watch the Ice Men.  Its the start of season 3 I believe, and might show some of the action from the championship just completed in Rhinelander, Wisconsin the weekend before Christmas.

This season promises more in depth, how to stuff.  Again, more content than fluff.  What every angler really wants, more fishing and the techniques used to get the job done.  Looking forward to see how the changes pan out.

For those of you wanting to see what the competition is all about, you have to sign up and fish the Hamlin Lake event in Ludington, Michigan the weekend of the 16th in January.  The team is heading up Thursday night to get a couple of days of pre-fishing in before the Sunday tourney.  For more information, go to www.naifc.com  !

So Your Kid Wants to be a Bug Slinger: getting started in fly fishing

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Christmas is over, and you got your kid all the gear necessary to get started in fly fishing, or did you?

What does it take to get started in a whole new way to land fish?  First off, an idea of what the target fish will be is nice a way to start.  Often you will not have that advantage, in most cases it can be a spur of a moment infatuation with the multi-faceted sport that grabs the attention of the child and holds it.  But, if you do have an inkling of what species or group of fish the child wants to fish for, its the best place to get started.

You can start with a fly tying kit.  Try and start with a kit that includes a “how to” book or instructional dvd. This is helpful specifically,  if the parental units have no idea what the sport entails.  Don’t feel bad, its a tricky sport with a lot of details to be discovered, and that can be half the fun, learning with your child.

Lets start with panfish as a jumping off point.

The books can help you get started with patterns for tying flies for all manner of approaches. Skipping all the patterns till you read the book or watch the dvd’s available, there are two types of flies to deal with.  Flies can be either sinking or dry, to catch bluegills or sunfish in the depths, or near the surface. Some like the sinking  Spooky Spiders made by “Iceman” Barry Williams, start at the surface and do a slow fall into the depths to entice the fish to bite.

Once you make up an assortment of flies, you have to deal with the rod and reel requirements.  A master can make a 3 wt rod do the trick, but for the novice beginner, a 4 or 5 wt rod will work.  The same can be said of the reel, but to get started you should choose between a floating and sinking fly line to go on the reel.  That’s after you put backing on first, then the fly line, followed by more line, and then a tippit or leader.  The first time out, have the shop set you up, but have your child there so they can share in the process. Its a learning experience that will come in handy down the road.

Later if you wish, you should be able to pick up a spare spool to fit the reel so you can rig up with the opposite type of line.  Let say, you bought the reel and had it spooled up with floating line, get the spare spool rigged with sinking fly line.  Do this a bit further down the line, if this was your first purchase or foray into “bug slinging” for your child, lets make sure they like the sport enough to continue. 

Once you have he rod and reel figured out, its time to start practicing casting.  You can get a dvd that will show the steps, or you can go online to get additional information. Can you say, “YouTube”?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3WRMrVcf-M&feature=list_related&playnext=1&list=PL5B312991C2AE50B2

There are more resources available, but the above link is a good starting point for your young angler.

In addition, most of the big box stores will have fly tying classes and usually offer casting classes as well.  Another resource available are the local fly fishing clubs, they want to help the sport grow, so many offer classes as well.

Its not an inexpensive way to fish, but can be very rewarding for the young angler who ties his own flies and takes the time to learn the technique.

Copyright, 2010

This Weeks Michigan DNR Fishing Report

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Better late than never folks, with the unpacking and getting ready for the holiday things got a little behind schedule.  It also seems that the DNR has taken a bit of a vacation from the web, so this is actually the report from the 16th of December, will fill in some blanks with the latest reports that I have had as well.

The hardwater fishing in the SE Michigan area has gone into full swing with the exception of Brest Bay.  Even though some are creeping out, your best bet is to hold off a lil bit.  In the meantime, the lakes in the Brooklyn/Irish Hills area are froze over and there are fishing being caught.  Some have enough ice to break out the machines, while most are still walking.

Due to the holidays, the report will not be updated next week. If conditions improve for ice fishing, a brief update may be generated the week of New Year’s. Ice fishing was just getting started especially in the northern sections of the state. Anglers were fishing in shallow waters only. Heavy snow has now blanketed pretty much all of the state and the snow will slow the freezing process. These conditions could hamper ice fishing well into the first of the year.Southeast Lower Peninsula
Small local lakes in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties were starting to get a thin layer of ice on them however no safe ice to report at this time. 

Lake Erie - Metro Park Marina is producing some panfish.Huron River - Still has some steelhead for those willing to brave the cold.Lake St. Clair - Ice has formed on the cuts and canals in shallow waters only. Not much activity to report yet. It has been too cold and windy.Lexington - A couple anglers in the harbor caught a few perch and small rainbow trout. They are using the usual ice fishing methods and baits.Saginaw Bay - A few anglers were creeping out on the cuts, canals and marina basins last week as shallow water fishing seems to be the only safe ice fishing at the moment. Some perch were caught out of a cut near Pinconning. Heavy snow is not helping with the formation of ice but instead pushing the ice down and creating slush. Anglers are encouraged to use extreme caution and stay in shallow waters. Best way to stay dry is to go someplace like a marina basin and fish off the docks. Anglers will use half a cement block tied to a rope to punch a hole in the ice; then sit on the dock and fish through the hole.Southwest Lower Peninsula
St. Joseph River - Steelhead fishing continues to be fair. Boat anglers continue to do better than shore anglers. Spawn was the favored bait however a few fish were also caught on crank baits. River conditions continue to improve as heavy snow improved depth and flow considerably. Boat launches were still open from Berrien Springs to the lake.Grand River at Grand Rapids - A good number of steelhead can still be found up near the Sixth Street Dam when floating spawn or near the post office when using a white jig. A few walleye were taken on body baits. Those trolling plugs have caught steelhead and walleye. Water levels are still a bit low so fish the deeper holes. There is ice above the dam.Lansing - Ice can be found on the smaller lakes but still no safe ice to report in this area of the state. Those anxious to get out should fish in shallow waters only while exercising extreme caution. Snow cover will not only cause slush problems, but will also insulate the ice and slow the freezing process. River fishing is at a stand still.Northeast Lower Peninsula
Sturgeon River - Was producing some steelhead.Alpena - Anglers were starting to fish inland lakes in the area however catch rates were slow. The weight of the snow on the ice will produce slush. For now, fish shallow waters only.Grayling - Lakes in the area are frozen over but not safe yet.Higgins Lake - Had shoreline ice only. The rest of the lake is open water and will stay that way until the winds subside.Houghton Lake - Is getting ice, but also has snow cover. We have reports of ice anglers fishing in the East Bay and along the north shore.Tawas - Skim ice was reported on most of the inland lakes in the area. Some brave anglers were catching a few panfish on Tawas Lake and some of the smaller lakes in the region. Anglers need to use extreme caution.Northwest Lower Peninsula
Ice is just beginning to form in the region with some early reports of pike and bluegills being caught. Caution needs to be used especially on the first ice of the season. Strong winds will keep the large lakes open so anglers will want to fish the small, shallow lakes for now. 

Manistee River - Those not affected by arctic weather will still find some steelhead for the taking.Lake Missaukee - Had reports of anglers seeking panfish in shallow waters when using small jigs with wax worms.Lake Cadillac - Ice fishing has started however anglers are reminded to use extreme caution. Most are pike fishing in shallow waters only as the ice is not solid in all areas of the lake. Shoreline ice is also breaking up easily. The lake had over a foot of snow cover which will make for slushy conditions.Lake Mitchell - Ice anglers here are also starting to fish for pike, just be sure to stay in shallow waters only.Upper Peninsula
Lake Gogebic - Anglers were catching walleye in Bergland Bay. The ice is not safe yet on most lakes. One angler already fell through the ice on Lake Antoine in Dickinson County.Little Bay De Noc - Anglers have started to head out ice fishing as there is very little snow cover on the bay. Most of the activity is north of Gladstone near Kipling however a few were also south of the Day’s River. Until the ice has more time to harden, most anglers are traveling on foot.Indian Lake - Ice anglers were taking some perch, but caution needs to be used.St. Mary’s River - A few perch were taken in Fowlers Bay. 

Merry Christmas Everyone

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

While the kids are busy ripping up the wrapping on their gifts just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and very soon, a Happy New Year.  God bless and have a safe angling season on the hardwater, and streams in Michigan.

NAIFC in Rhinelander, WI for the Circuit Championship

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Well here it is two days before Christmas, and just getting around to typing out a report on how last week went in Rhinelander, Wisconsin fishing for the NAIFC circuit championship.  Been unpacking, reorganizing, and yes…even babysitting my (cute as button) niece, Lani.  Still have more to do in the reorganizing department, but that is the way it always goes coming back from the first time out.

It always seems that you pack too much for the first trip and by the end of the season, you get down to the nitty gritty.  Should have taken some pictures of the inside of the place we stayed at, but to be honest it was quite a mess with us and three other 2 man teams in the place.  Gear and laptops everywhere, kind of surprised the place cleaned up so nice.

Here are some shots of the group’s machines, last Wednesday morning in 20 below temps.

Lost a day of pre-fishing right off the bat last Monday when the battery on the quad went dead.  $130 bucks later at the local Polaris dealer, and she was firing up like a top. As of yesterday, still waiting for the Wisconsin ice to finish melting off the under carriage back in the shop.

Pre-fishing was tough, ended up eliminating a lot of water for the first couple of days.  By that I mean, didn’t find a whole lot of fish in the places we were looking.  Finally on Wednesday toward the end of the day, this crappie was suspended above a crib.  She was what we call a “Zoomer”, they see the bait, and ZOOM up to it, no hesitation, just try for a grab and run!

Thursday we left for the second lake on the agenda to scout it out.  Found some fish scattered and headed back to the first one for another day of tearing up the ice.  It was there that we discovered another place to catch some big crappie like this one.

That night there was the rules meeting.  Its a good chance to see the guys you have been buzzing around on the ice all week, but do not have the time to stop and chit chat.

Went back to the house and tooled up for the next morning after the meeting.  It was probably the quickest rules meeting I had ever been too, which was really nice.  Plenty of time to get back and rig up rods and take care of batteries!  These are the shots of the line up in the morning on Saturday.

Those are it for the pics, got caught up in the moments Saturday and Sunday.  We were a pound and half out after Saturday, and on Sunday…lets just say we swung for a home run on the big crappie and it didn’t turn out so well.  At least on my end, my partner stuck five nice crappie.  I rolled two on the hookset and lost a good one half way up the hole.  Not the best moment, but I keep telling myself that is why they call it fishing! 

Lots of good ice back  here now, and looking forward to getting on some before heading up to Ludington for a qualifier in mid-January.

Last Day of Pre-fishing, NAIFC Championship Weekend

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Have been up in Rhinelander, Wisconsin prefishing for the 2 day championship .  Tonight is the rules meeting and will be leaving in a few hours after getting geared up for Lake Thompson, the first of two lakes on schedule for championship weekend.  Sunday we move to Lake George.

Have been concentrating on crappies all week, with the sizes being pulled up though the ice, the bluegills have not been a major concern.  The sizes dont seem to be there, they will be an after thought I am afraid.  They just haven’t been showing any real size.  The crappies on the other hand could produce 10+ lb limits for 8 fish.  Here are some of the pics from this week prefishing.

NAIFC Championship Notes

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Day 2 of prefishing, been slow in the cold. One more day prefishing lake george, then off to fish Thompson for two days before the tourney starts on Saturday.

Michigan DNR Fishing Report: December 9, 2010

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

As we go through the transition between open-water fishing and ice fishing, anglers are reminded that first ice is dangerous ice, and snow cover will slow the freezing process. Lakes and rivers are starting to freeze however the ice is not safe yet.Southeast Lower Peninsula
Detroit River - A few walleye were caught in the lower Trenton Channel. Anglers were jigging a large minnow near the hot water discharge off Gibraltar. For perch, no big numbers were caught but some nice fish were taken around Rat Island.Lake St. Clair - Ice is starting to form in the canals however there is no safe ice.St. Clair River - Has good musky fishing especially in the North Channel. Most anglers are jigging but a few were using sucker minnows if you can find them.Saginaw Bay - Ice is just starting to form however no safe ice has been reported. Anglers might want to try fishing the shallow cuts and canals or off the docks in the marinas for perch. Boat anglers heading out to Spoils Island were catching walleye and perch but open water fishing may not last much longer.Kawkawlin River - Last weekend, anglers were open water fishing for perch but the river has just frozen over.Quanicassee River - Is also starting to freeze.Southwest Lower Peninsula
St. Joseph River - This is the first report in a while without low water warnings. The river is not high by any means but is closer to normal winter levels and should continue to rise with all the snow. Steelhead fishing remains fair for those drifting spawn. Some decent fish are also being caught by those using crank baits. Boat anglers are consistently out fishing shore anglers. All the launches between Berrien Springs and the big lake were open and not iced in however lake effect snow will make using the launches a challenge.Grand Haven - Those surfcasting may find some good steelhead action as more fish are apt to move into the shallows when there is wave action.Grand River at Grand Rapids - Is still producing a fair to good number of steelhead all the way up to the Sixth Street Dam. Spawn bags and flies were the favored baits. Walleye were hitting on bucktail jigs, twister tails and body baits.Lansing - Ice is starting to form on the inland lakes in mid-Michigan, but no safe ice yet. Anglers could be out by the weekend if the cold weather continues and we do not get a lot of snow.Muskegon - Whitefish are still being caught in the early morning or late evening.Northeast Lower Peninsula
Alpena - The peak of the whitefish action is pretty much done for this year.Thunder Bay River - Is freezing over and the launch ramp next to the Alpena Research Station is iced in. Shore anglers were catching small perch along with the occasional whitefish, steelhead or brown trout.Au Sable River - Steelhead are still available for those willing to brave the cold temperatures. The lower river is still best for those floating spawn.Tawas - Whitefish were still being caught off the state dock however catch rates were starting slow.Au Gres - Still has whitefish but it won’t be long and this fishery will be done.Northwest Lower Peninsula
Petoskey - Steelhead fishing continues for those surfcasting especially. Most are floating spawn bags in shallow waters.Boardman River - Had rumors of steelhead hitting on spawn or wax worms.Frankfort - Those surfcasting in the shallows have caught steelhead.Manistee - Surfcasting is the way to go in windy conditions. Look for steelhead in the early morning or late evening.Manistee River - Steelhead are still available for those tough enough to brave the arctic conditions.Lake Missaukee - Has ice however no safe ice to report. Remember; first ice can be dangerous ice. Snow cover will insulate and slow the freezing process.Lake Cadillac - Had ice however no safe ice to report. Cold weather this week will help the freezing process however heavy lake effect snow in the forecast will not.Lake Mitchell - Also has ice, but no safe ice. No anglers were out yet but that could change by the weekend. Those anxious to get out are advised to fish in shallow waters only.Pere Marquette River - Look for steelhead in the lower river.Upper Peninsula
Little Bay De Noc - Docks have been pulled out at the public access sites as boats are no longer going out. Open water fishing is pretty much done as it is starting to freeze up rather quickly with the onset of cold weather. The north end of the bay is starting to freeze over and ice is forming along the shoreline just south of Gladstone. There is no safe ice to report at this time. 

Bass Pro Shops, Auburn Hills: Dec 11th

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I will be at Great Lakes Crossing this Saturday to work for Northland Tackle during Bass Pro’s big ice fishing weekend.  Come out and see the new line-up of  “Live Forage” Northland products and talk ice fishing with your’s truly.  One day only, will be leaving for the championships on Sunday afternoon in Wisconsin!