Archive for November, 2011

Hanging Your Auger at Home: do it yourself project

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

With ice fishing around the corner, lots of folks will be buying new augers to drill through the ice with.  An easy way to store your new, or even your old auger is to hang them from the wall.  The cheapest, and easiest way is to hang them from the studs in your wall with ladder hooks.  If you decide to go with a four stroke engine, this will also eliminate any chance of oil seeping into places it does not belong.  The hooks should cost you less than $11 dollars at your local hardware.


If your studs have been covered up by drywall or panelling, the use a studfinder first before willy nilly screwing the hooks into place.  Ice augers are expensive pieces of equipent, and you do not want to have the hooks pull out from the weight of the auger.  Also, make sure to measure the width of your auger handles before you go shopping so the hooks will cradle the auger in place.


Copyright, 2011

Protecting Your Ice Reels during the Off-season

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

I made a post the other day on Facebook about putting the trolling reels to bed for the season. Which means, its also time to bust out the ice fishing reels from their slumber!  One of the best ways to prevent your reels from gathering dust during the off-season is to store them in a reel bag.  You can get the fancy ones at the bigger box type stores, or order them online even.  OR, if you are on good terms with the owners of the local tavern or pub, OR if you or some friends drink Crown Royal Canadian Whisky …. collect those purple sacks that the bottles are packaged in.  They make great bags for storing your reels when not in use.  If you have a lot of reels, they are also easy to label by taking some masking tape, write the type of reel it is, peel off and wrap around the pull cord, and if it has to look pretty, use some scissors and trim the edges!

Copyright, 2011

Save the Cork on Your Fave Ice Fishing Rod

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Its a given that the best ice rods allow you to tape your reel on the handle where it feels the best for you.  Where you feel the right balance while holding the rod with the reel attached,  for what could be hours on the ice and comfort will matter.  The problem will come at the end of the season, when you cut away that black electrical tape and put the reels away until the next season.

When you start to pull that tape away from the handle of the rod, on that last layer you will notice little pieces of cork being pulled away from the handle.  Now the cork or the handle itself is the second most important piece (after the blank) in the make up of an ice rod, and after a couple of seasons your handle will seriously start to fall apart on you.  Here is the issue, the reason for the use a quality cork handle is for additional sensitivity, but how do you maintain your equipment as well?

The answer can be found already in many households.  We use it for putting away clothes, boxing up holiday dishes and decorations, and protecting floors and windows while slapping paint on the walls. Although often overlooked during the ice season, the answer to the question is masking tape.  Put your reel on the handle, slide it up and down to where it feels the best.  Then remove the reel, and wrap just enough masking tape over the handle to be able to attach your reel with electric tape.  Now at the end of the season, you can cut away the electric tape without causing any damage to the rod handle, and you just leave the masking tape on the handle until its time to do it again.

Copyright, 2011

Updating the Ice Fishing Electronics: GPS

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This week while I gear up for the national championships in Wisconsin,  will be reposting some of best ice fishing blogs from the past four years.  Although this one was done recently, electronics, specifically GPS’s have given ice anglers an edge over mother nature.  I chose the Lowrance HDS-5m, an unit that is entirely a GPS, not one of the ones that doubles as a fish finder.

Click on the link below, to follow up on the advantages a big screen can give you.


Lowrance HDS-5m


Copyright, 2011

Building Runners on Your Sled for Ice Fishing

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

I  wrote this post a couple of years back, but it holds true still today:

If you run and gun on the big water, or your favorite inland lake during the ice season, it makes sense to get the most out of your investment.  The steps are all there, and it will add years to the life to your equipment like the feautred Shappell XL Jet Sled.

How to Choose an Ice Line: General Rules and Concepts

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

With the North American (NAIFC) championships right around the corner,  the time has come to gear up for the 2012 ice fishing season.  One of the first things I look at is getting line to respool the reels, it really is key to have fresh line for each season.  There are some general rules anglers need to consider when choosing what to put on the reels.

I would like to say it is as easy as saying if you fish outside, then you use monofilament, or if you fish inside a heated shanty, then go with using a braid on your reels.  The type fishing you are doing, and the weight of the jigs being used, should be the determining factors when choosing the right line for your purposes. As a matter of fact, using a braid is a rare thing for myself in most applications.

When I do use braid,  90% of the time it is fishing inside a heated ice house.  Regardless of claims, braid will freeze up on a reel.  It is true that some braids will not absorb water, but the nature of the line itself allows for water to cling to the line during the retrieve more than monofilament.  That property is what causes the line to freeze into a solid mass on the spool.  There are times when the outside temps allow you to fish with braid out of a shack, taking in a cloudless day with no wind, but I would not choose it as my choice for all the reels, all the time.

When in a shack I do like braided or fused line for walleye, northern pike and lake trout.  The typical types of lures are much heavier than used in the hunt for other species and they hang better.  Braid does give you an advantage in situations where current is involved.  Ten pound mono is definitely thicker than 10 lb braid with its smaller diameter, which  on average has the diameter of a 4 lb monofilament line.  They (braids) really shine fishing in rivers for walleyes and pike because they cut the current better.  I also like that the no stretch properties are effective for sensing bites in deep water for both species, as well as lake trout.

When it comes to panfish, including most applications for perch I like a high visibility line like Sufix Tangerine or Stren Hi-Vis Gold. Two to three pound test is all that is needed when using a good reel, sometimes four is ok, but most times the jigs and lures are too light to pull your line down tight for that quick read.  That means tightlining, reading your line before you feel the bite or see the action on a spring bobber can be huge when it comes to going home with a limit a just a few light biters. I have found that ordering 2lb gold Stren straight from the factory ensures that I get fresh line that has been produced during the current year.  Its well worth the shipping price because I like to get the 330 yd filler spools versus the pony spools that are only available during ice fishing.  But,  keep in mind I spool up a dozen reels for panfish, and if you only have two or three reels, a pony spool of 100 or 110 yds will go a long way during most seasons!

For running and gunning, hitting the holes off the back of your machine its truly hard to beat spooling your reels with a smooth line like Trilene XL from Berkley.  XL means its limp and spinning reel ready for the coldest temps.  Six to 8 lb test will catch the biggest of walleyes through the ice, and if you want gear up for bigger toothy critters, 10 and 12 lb mono will fetch some nice pike through your holes.

Regardless of what type of line you use; braid, clear mono or high vis stuff, fluorocarbon for a leader is almost always a must.  When it doesn’t, well with pike for sure, those toothy critters just do not care.  But for all other apps, break out the FC like Vanish or Berkley’s 100%, and tie on some leaders. From two to 4 lb for the panfish, six to 10 lb for walleyes and 12 to 14 lb for the big fish, it pays to have the invisibility factor on your side.

Copyright, 2011

Michigan DNR Fishing Report: 11.17.2011

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Lake Erie: High winds tend to slow the perch and walleye bite. Those
fishing off Sterling State Park and in the Metro Park Marina caught bluegill and
crappie. Perch were caught near the mouth of Swan Creek which is south of Pt.
Mouillee. There were reports of a couple steelhead caught up near the mouth of
the Detroit River.

Huron River: Has a good number of shad up near Flat Rock which makes
steelhead fishing more difficult. A fresh batch of fish did move into the river
with all the rain. Try using a wax worm under a bobber above the dam or bouncing
flies and flatfish below. Purple Hot-n-Tots also caught fish. Look for bluegill
and crappie in the backwaters.

Detroit River: A few walleye were caught near the Edison Plant and the
Trenton Channel between the Free Bridge and the Toll Bridge. Try #11 floating
rapalas when hand-lining or trolling. This is the time of year to catch big
perch. Try 9 to 12 feet of water north or south of Sugar Island, around Celeron
Island and off Belle Isle.

Lake St. Clair: A few anglers had limited success for walleye near the
North and Middle Channels just before sunset. Crappie and bluegill were taken in
Anchor Bay.

Lexington: Still has one dock in at the boat launch. Perch fishing was
good but the bite has since slowed due to minnows and shad in the harbor. Pier
anglers and boats anchored inside the harbor are catching steelhead and brown
trout. Most are casting spoons such as small cleo’s.

Port Sanilac: Still has one dock in at the boat launch. Perch fishing
was spotty with all the baitfish in the harbor. Pier anglers caught steelhead
and brown trout on small spoons or spinners in the early morning and late
evening. No whitefish yet.

Harbor Beach: Still has one dock in at the boat launch. Look for
walleye and brown trout behind the Edison Plant.

Saginaw Bay: Perch were caught in the cuts and canals along the west
side of the bay including Eagles Landing at Linwood.

Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

St. Joseph: Pier anglers are catching whitefish on a single egg or wax

St. Joseph River: Steelhead are being caught in fair numbers near St.

Kalamazoo River: Is still producing some good steelhead action.

Grand Haven: Pier anglers fishing early morning or late evening have
caught steelhead and whitefish.

Grand River at Grand Rapids: Continues with good steelhead action up
near the dam. Try floating or drifting flies, streamers, spawn or small spoons.

Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead are still being caught in Prairie
Creek near Ionia and below the dam at Lyons. No word on steelhead in the Lansing
area. Catfish were caught over at Moore’s Park. No action at North Lansing due
to repairs being done on the dam.

Muskegon River: The water is clearing back up after the rain. More
steelhead moved into the river and some nice fish have been caught by those
using flies, spawn or black and copper leeches below Croton Dam.

Northeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Alpena: Whitefish are flocking to the reefs of Thunder Bay as opening
day of the firearm deer season usually marks the peak of spawning season for
whitefish. Action over the next two to three weeks will be excellent between
dusk and dawn.

Thunder Bay River: Has good steelhead fishing below the 9th Street
Dam. The occasional brown trout and whitefish have also been caught.

Harrisville: Some of the steelhead coming into the harbor are part of
a new study to evaluate how well fish do if acclimated in streamside raceways
before being released. The fish are missing their adipose fins and have
coded-wire tags in their snouts. Anglers can lend crucial assistance to this
project by turning in the heads of these fish at one of the locations on the
Coded Wire Tag drop-off list on our web site. Most of the fish will be small 15
to 18 inches because the study just started. Returning the heads from even the
small fish as long as they meet the 15 inch minimum size limit is important to
the study.

Au Sable River: Has good numbers of steelhead in it and some of these
fish are part of a new study to evaluate how well fish do if acclimated in
streamside raceways before being released. The fish are missing their adipose
fins and have coded-wire tags in their snouts. Please turn in the head of these
fish even if they are small but still meet the minimum size limit. The division
will get back with cooperating anglers to let them know the stocking history of
the fish they turn in. A few brown trout have also been caught. The whitefish
run in the lower river is in the early stages and will improve over the next two

Tawas: Has good numbers of whitefish and quite a few anglers fishing
off the breakwall. The bite will be slow at first as the fish are thinking about
spawning and not eating, but that will change soon as the spawning period
progresses. Anglers have also caught a few small perch, brown trout, pike and
the occasional walleye.

Northwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Boardman River: Has good steelhead action all the way up to Sabin Dam.
A few brown trout were also caught.

Betsie River: Catch rates last week were on the slow side as sometimes
higher water levels cause the fish to not want to bite. There are a few coho in
the river still even though the salmon run is pretty much done.

Manistee River: Fresh steelhead did move into the river after the
recent rain. The number of fish in the river did come up but fishing techniques
tend to change with the higher water as fish are on the move and not wanting to
bite. Try bigger and brighter spoons or flies during high water. Those fishing
up near Tippy Dam did manage to catch a few leftover coho.

Pere Marquette River: Also had a good push of steelhead after the
rain. Try bright colored flies and spoons, yarn or fresh spawn.

Upper Peninsula Fishing Report

Little Bay De Noc: Water temperatures have dropped to the low 40′s.
Lots of walleye were marked north of the Narrows and those fishing at night
caught fish. During the day, anglers were fishing near the Kipling Flats and
around the reefs but catch rates were spotty. Limit catches were reported by
those trolling crank baits in 10 to 28 feet of water. Fair to good perch fishing
was reported around Butler Island with minnows in 8 to 14 feet of water and
along the Narrows in 18 to 30 feet of water. Several nice catches of northern
pike were taken just off the mouth of the Day’s River when trolling crank baits.

Big Bay De Noc: Had fair walleye fishing.

Southeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Top Walleye Spinner Blades of 2011

Thursday, November 17th, 2011


It is that time of the year, the last of the crawler harnesses have been broken down.  The components have been separated to be used again next year.  It’s also time for my annual look back at the spinners that put the most walleyes in the box during the 2011 walleye season.

Quite a few blades had their turn to shine, some produced big numbers of fish, others  just produced big fish.  This year the old adage proved to be true, “bigger is better.”  It also didn’t hurt that I made a decision to run bigger blades while the spring rains were mudding up Lake Erie’s waters.

Rarely did I run anything smaller than a #6 colorado blade, the reason was simple , bigger blades would make a bigger thump in the water column.  More vibration, and more of what I call, “Max Flash”. Longer blades like #5 whiptails and willows lay back against the line, and when ran up high where the water would be somewhat
cleaner produce more flash to the fish below.  Part of the plan was to get bigger elsewhere too, with running  big #8 indiana’s,  with #7 and 8 colorado’s, as well.

D&B Fishing makes some really nice patterns and are locally produced in the Lake St. Clair area.

D&B Whiptails


Their whiptail blades ROCK, like a willow blade they lay back along the axis of the line with a slight difference.  As it spins, it bulges out slightly creating a bigger bubble in the water as it travels through.  All this means that it makes slightly more vibration than what your traditional will do under the same circumstance.


Maui Waui

Depending how often you check in and read Fishing Michigan during the spinner rig season, you probably have an inkling of how much I like running blue blades.  A couple of years ago a guy asked if black was the new purple when it came to spinner blades and their success on Erie.  I thought to  myself that it may be, but neither of them
really touch the success rates of running blue blades.  Last year I went to D&B and said I wanted to see a Maui Waui pattern and Darren (owner, along with his wife Kathy) nailed it.  In fact so did the fish, the pattern produced more fish consistently all season long.


Northland Tackle

Northland Tackle just may have started the blade craze with their Baitfish Image holographic spinners.
Classics like Sunrise, Gold Perch and Rainbow still produce good numbers of walleyes for me year in and year out.
But, its during the mayfly hatch/bite that one blade has a special place behind my boards.  Golden Shiner during
the bug bite is highly effective, that pattern with its mix of browns and gold tints drives the walleyes crazy while running in all depths throughout the column.


Yeck Willows

Several years ago I became a believer in running willow blades, and that was due to Fishlander’s  Hedgehog blade.  I wish I had gotten more of them before the company went out of business, but luckily another company carries on with their own lineup of serrated willow blades.  What I like about Yeck Lures is that the colors really pop in the sun.  Granted it wasn’t until mid-June this year when the silt in the waters had settled, but when they did these lures produced some nice fish while running over their heads and getting them to rise up and slash at the flash.

I shouldn’t really phrase this quite the way I am going to, but Big Eye Custom Lures is my “newcomer of the year”.  Really it’s more to the fact that I didn’t discover this Green Bay, Wisconsin based producer until the beginning of July, maybe late June.  I was looking for a specific pattern, and got to the point where I posted the question on Facebook, and Don Dumas was one of the first to respond.  I ordered a dozen in Copper Oriole and three other patterns, liked them so much I ordered 4 more patterns when they were introduced a short time later.  Like a week later, and here I was calling Green Bay saying,  “Hey Don, it’s me again!”

A couple of years back I was working a spring show for St. Croix rods at the Bass Pro Shop at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills.  While there I met C.J. Baker of Puddle Jumper Charter’s,  he was booking trips (out of Brest Bay Marina) and representing Silver Streak/Wolverine Tackle.  A little later I briefly met Chip Cartrwright.  Then a few weeks later while at Fisherman’s Warf in Port Clinton, OH I ran into the guys again.  So now whenever the guys have a booth at the MI-OH Sportfishing Expo (Monroe Co. Fairgrounds) in February I stop in to see
what the newest and bluest items they have to sell.  This past Feb.  I looked over the blade displays and they hit
me, the #8 indiana blades.  There were only a few there, but I grabbed up six Pink Panties and six Angry Dog paint
schemes, just to try out.

I broke out these big indy’s as soon as the water temps hit 48’ and we got about a foot or two of visibility below the lake’s surface.  First time out, Pink Panties produced a 6 and 8 lb fish. The week after that, one fish just below 11 lbs, and another that was over 9.5 lbs.  Having already lost two PP blades, it was time for a re-order,  messaged a bud who had the number, and called to get more of each pattern, plus wanted to go with a couple of metallic colors too.  The picture does not do justice to the NASCAR pattern, but Doughboy came out pretty well.

Silver Streak Indy's


As big those blades were, I wanted bigger colorado’s, also.  I remembered some Tommy Harris Spider Blades that I had picked up at Frank’s Great Outdoors in November of 2010, while giving a Vexilar seminar.  Went to the website, but all I found were more #6′s.  So I sent off a message to Tommy who called me back, it wasn’t long before more #7′s were on the way, along with some #8.  Got them a little late in the year, but perfect for trolling out by West Sister in the deeper water.

Big Blades = Big Fisb

If you are like me,  you are already thinking about next season.  Think BIG, you will not be disappointed.

Copyright, 2011

Great Day on Television: Lions and Walleyes

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Not only do we have a great day on the football front with the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears going at it today with wild card implications, but the FLW Walleye Tour will be having their coverage of the championship from the Missouri River on today at 1pm on the Versus channel.

FLW Walleye Tour Championship

36 Yrs Ago Today, Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Tragic reminder how quickly the seas can turn on any sized boat.