Friday, December 31, 2010

some new ice fishing gear

Christmas was good to me and I found myself with a few extra bucks to spend. The final decision was made on my first ice fishing flasher. I was looking at the 3 entry level units from Vexilar, Hummingbird, and Marcum. After much thought and seeing it action I opted for the Hummingbird Ice35 unit which was purchased yesterday from Cabelas. I normally don’t find myself shopping there due to the distance from my house but Cabelas had the largest selection of ice gear still in stock. Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain were picked over and I was looking for instant gratification. There was no time for online shopping because the plan is to break it in this weekend.

hummingbird ice35
While shopping I also was able to purchase a Cabela’s brand pop up shelter which, compared to the other brands pop up shanties of similar sizes, seemed like a steal for only 129$ Here are it’s specs and expect a review after I break it in.

cabela's ice team hub shelter 6 x 6
Cabela's Ice Team Hub Shelter – 6' x 6'
  • Accommodates two to three anglers  
  • Covered in durable, 600-denier, 100% polyester
  • Absorbs solar energy and retains heat
  • Internal pocket for gear and bait
  • Four windows with covers
  • Dual doors for easy entry

Dimensions: 72"L x 72"W x 78"H.
Packed dimensions: 56"L x 10"W x 16"H.
Weight: 27 lbs.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Holidays

As the 2010 fishing season reaches its final few days Neal and I wanted to take the opportunity to say thanks for a great first year. As we move into the new year we have been doing some planning. We have some exciting trips scheduled, new videos in the works, and some interesting product reviews on the way.

In the last few weeks we have setup a Facebook fan page and are hoping that our return visitors will take the time to click the “like” button and subscribe. On the fan page we will have more photos, stories, and videos and not just the ones that make the blog. It will also be a great place to network as well as keep in contact with some of our returning readers. If you have ever enjoyed our site or found it useful then “click this link” and sign up as a fan.

Happy Holidays and have a great new year!
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

pistakee bay and petite lake double header

Thursday morning was our holiday office party and me and Neal had the rest of the day free to prospect for panfish! Even though very little work got done, those 6 hours seemed to crawl. After minimal work, holidays gifts, and an expansive buffet we burned rubber back north towards the Fox Chain of Lakes. There was plans to meet Damien out on Pistakee Bay fishing until dark and switching over to Petite for the night bite.

Met Damien and a couple of his friends out on Pistakee Bay around 2:00pm, they had been fishing since 11:00am. Our reward for showing up late was an abundance of predrilled holes, a refined location, and a dialed in presentation. They were not just on fish, they were on some big sunfish with a few crappie and bass mixed in. Pistakee was crowded and there were 2 major clusters of fisherman one in shallow and another out over deeper water. Damien had a hot hole and was crushing some huge bull bluegill consistently without even moving once. Neal and I scratched some nice fish here and there but found ourselves bouncing around a little more the Damien. We fished with them until the sun set and parted ways each with our fair share of fish.

my biggest was smaller then a dozen of damiens gills
After stopping for a quick bite (eaten in the car) and a pack of smokes we found ourselves standing in the middle of Petite Lake just after dark. The air temperature had to be 25 degrees and without a gust of wind, it was really quite a pleasant night to be out. We started to hand drill a series of holes which we marked depths from 5 to 12 feet. A few holes located close together had some steep drops in-between them and we really blanketed those drops with our tip ups. The shack was set in 10 foot and the propane heater deployed. We gave the holes in the shanty a good hour of fishing and tried to call the fish to us with some glow jigs and a swedish pimple pounded on the bottom. Not a bite or even a nibble was felt during that first hour and the decision was made to push out to deeper water.

Leaving the warm shack behind we grabbed just the necessities and headed out into to evening air. One lantern guided our way as I started drilling a second series of holes. I zigzagged our holes out towards the middle and Neal followed 2 holes back with the vexilar looking for even the slightest bit of movement. When something would peek his interest I came shuffling up quickly to have a closer look at the screen. Watching carefully as the bait fell, the reaction from the fish came quickly and almost for certain we would watch the 2 little red lines rise up from the bottom. A quick hook set and a fish played from 17 feet down would reward us for all the hard work we were doing. Hand cranking through ice is no easy task and when your finding a fish every 6 holes and it has to be a shared duty. We never found a pocket of multiple fish and we never caught a second fish out of the same hole (even returning later)! A handful of bluegill and crappie fell victim to the glow rat-finkie with glow plastic tipped with a spike. Mobility was a huge factor in our catches and I’m willing to bet that staying in our shelter would have left us fishless. Here’s some footage I shot while we hole hopped halfway across Petite lake.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

skunked in waukesha county

A lot of planning is involved in taking a 4 year old ice fishing. Making sure they are properly dressed for the elements is the number one priority. Lucas (my 4 year old son) and I were meeting up with Neal to fish a small Waukesha County lake that we had not visited since early September. This is smaller lake with some good depth and some clean water. Like most smaller lakes the structure (as far as I know) consisted of a few shallow flats, a main point and a few smaller ones, and a bowl shaped basin that quickly drops to 30 feet. The bottom composition has good amounts of sand and some larger stones present in areas. The previous outing was the first time we had ever fished here and this would be the first time through the ice. Both Neal and I have been eager to return, and passed on some decent bites to go out there and poke around and do some exploring. Catching a good multi-species bag the last time, we thought our chances would be good for getting on a variety of different bites. "Click Here" to view the trip from last time.

70 miles, the entire “Despicable Me” movie, and an order of hot cakes with chocolate milk is what it took to get there. We met Neal there at a quarter to eight and walked out to the main point on the lake. We popped about ten holes within a 50 yard radius and began to mark the depths. We had a shallow hole at 5 feet and not to far away it made its way down to 20. We placed out 6 tip-ups with a variety of sizes of fatheads and shiners making sure that we had all areas off the drop off covered. After the flags were placed we began to try to jig up some pan-fish to get the action started off. The sad thing is, the action never got started. We soaked to tip-ups and pounded those pan-fish rods for almost 2 hours with not even one bite. It wasn’t until a home owner came out and started to snow blow the ice that we decided to pack up and move. I guess they were making a skating rink but that made for a good reason to change things up.

the first area we fished
 We moved back to the north side of the lake close to where we put in. Here there was almost no structure but was where the creek channel enters the lake. We found the shoreline to have a much steeper drop and quickly fell all the way to 30 feet not too far from shore. Again we set our flags and again we pounded for pan-fish. We fished all the way out to 30 feet without even the slightest bit of action.

2nd area we fished
After 5 hours in total we decided to throw in the towel. Lucas was cold and had resorted to playing games on my cell phone 2 hours before then. It was then we finally excepted the skunk!

the skunk
In retrospect, I will never learn a new lake while fishing with a 4 year old again. Even though he still had fun spending the day with his dad and his buddy Neal I could tell he was disappointed. Sure there’s a few good lessons here-
  • Your not always gonna catch fish.    
  • Fishing is about spending time with family and friends.
  • Its called fishing not catching for a reason.
I’m sure the list goes on but nothing is better then the smile of pride he wears when we catch fish together!

there's that look!
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

early ice pond fishing (kenosha county, wi)

Made it out yesterday with Neal, Randell, and Luke. This was early ice and the pond was anywhere from 3 inches all the way down to 1.5. Some spots were looking real sloppy and wet so we avoided those. We all set out tip-ups and fished a panfish rod. Fishing was good early and slowed around mid day. Waxies and spikes seemed to do the trick. Fished plastics for almost 30 minutes before dropping a waxie back down the hole, hooked up instantly. Deadsticking helped detect bites from small fish and soft biters. We weeded threw 100 small panfish to find just one keeper but you will see from the video there were times when you could land 3 fish in one minute. Couple flags that resulted in 2 bass and one nice catfish for Neal. Crappie, bluegill, and whitebass were all present. Had a great first ice trip and made it off just as the rain started.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

early ice pond bass (kenosha county, wi)

Neal sent me a photo from his brothers that he received yesterday while we were at work. Here’s a shot of an early ice pond bass taken from Kenosha County, Wi. Neal’s brothers are out fishing while we are working but that’s ok cause us weekend warriors have some big plans for Saturday. I hope everyone is ready for ice season… Stay tuned to see how we make out!

early ice pond bass - is he smoking?
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

early winter action on the root river (racine, wi)

There are still some fish in the Root River. A trio of fisherman set out last Sunday looking for some last minute fish in the rivers before our local lakes freeze over. Moderate flows and clear water was what they found on the Root. The temperatures outside would freeze your boots the second they exited the water. To be able to last for any length of time out there, its sound advice to keep your feet dry.

The trio spent the morning drifting nymphs, streamers and egg patterns down in Island Park. The temps have been cold enough that sheets of ice were floating down river. Any misplaced cast could leave your line hooked on the edge of one of the pieces. The wrong speed on a drift and you would find your line stuck on or under the thin plate of ice.The hazards and the difficulty fishing that portion of the river quickly drove them upstream.

The trio found themselves at Quarry Park near the tailwaters of the Horlick Dam. Things looked a whole lot better there, no ice floating and some intermittent fish were being spotted in the pockets. The frozen 3 laid claim to their own respective spots and peppered their pools with an assortment of flies. They didn’t get one strike until one of them had a bright idea of downsizing to a size 10 yarn egg trailer. He tied this to a flashy streamer and instantly hooked up with a large fish that bulldogged its way to the center of the large pool. After a great big tug the tiny trout fly popped out of its mouth and the line went slack. That was all it took for them to dial in on a pattern. Two more fish were hooked after that. The big burly brown was lost in a small deep pool soaking the anglers arm as he tried to wrangle the fish. The last fish was landed and turned out to be a smaller coho. Cold day to get in the water.

early winter coho on the root
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

From Feather To Fish

GL Deceiver - Perch
From Feather to Fish
Just came across a new local Chicago based blog focused on fly fishing and fly tying. Nick over at “From Feather to Fish” is just getting his feet planted in the blogger world and I wanted to show him some Chi-town love. He seems to be a very skilled when it comes to fly tying and can’t wait to see what else he has to offer as his blog starts to take shape. Above is a photo from his blog, it’s a pattern called the GL Deceiver – Perch Pattern. I can’t wait to give this one a crack. Show Nick support and stop by his site and give him a follow. Click here for the link.
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