Monday, February 27, 2012

just another day in racine

Two cars pull into the river access at almost the exact same time, one car carrying a solo angler and the other with a duo. I'm sure we've all been there, you look at the other group gearing up and can just tell they are heading for the same exact stretch of water as you were planning to fish. Sure, there is plenty of water in the park, but you have already eliminated all that other water in your brain on the trip over. The bridge was gonna be holding fish and that was "the spot" today. So what do you do? You do exactly what any other weekend angler who has been trained in combat fishing does, you put your gear on faster. Thank God you fish in hip boots and not the full body waders that the opposition is faced with. But wait, a momentarily lost streamer box puts you back to a neck and neck pace. Hurry, come on lets go!

Both groups finish at almost the exact same time and the solo fisherman looks over at the pair. "Please let them head down stream, please let them head down stream," the thought runs over and over in his mind. Sure enough, it's too good to be true. The pair shut their trunk and turn and head upstream just a few steps behind him. What does one do now? Do you quicken your pace and slide right in to the pool and risk some dirty looks?

Instead, he turns to the group and said, "Where you fellows fishing this morning?" The two turn and look at each other quite confused. It wasn't that hard of a question but it seemed to stop them dead in their tracks. After the uncomfortable silence dissipates, the reply come back in broken English, "The bridge." Sure enough, yours fears are made real. With no thought the solo angler concedes the spot, "Sure guys, have at it and I'll just move upstream." Not sure that his words were understood, the angler just turns and heads one pool up from the bridge.

For the next hour he watches these two fools from the next pool up. The duo managed to snag almost every rock with their large weighted dropper rigs and splashed through the pool with heavy feet trying to free their line. After an hour they reason that there must be no fish hanging out under the bridge and decide to move one pool down.

Finally given the chance, the patient angler slides down to the bridge pool and goes three for three on brown trout. Two nice fish and one stocker fall victim to the black streamer in the next hour all while the duo were forced to watch from the next pool down.

wisconsin great lakes brown trout
best fish caught from the bridge pool
This was just another day in Racine...
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Monday, February 20, 2012

A Vacation Fishing Destination

  I have been M.I.A. for this past week due to being out of town. This past Sunday Feb.12th I boarded a plane at O'hare airport and set out for fabulous Las Vegas,NV. I have had this trip planed for a few months now, but it was missing something in the itinerary. Fishing!

 Every time I venture away from home I always try to investigate into some fishing waters. This time around was Lake Mead. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States by maximum water capacity. The lake was formed when the Colorado River was dammed in 1936. In recent years the water levels have dropped dramatically due to the fact it is a main water supply for Nevada,Arizona,parts of California, and Utah. Just recently before I made the trip out though the water level had risen 10 feet due to heavy rains and snowfalls in the area, which turned the fish on and supplied an early hatch of stripped bass.

 A few weeks before leaving town a friend of mine and I did some research on fishing guides on our set out destination. We happened to come across FishFinders Guide Service. Our Captain for the day was Capt. Kevin Durham a retired pit boss from one of the big Vegas casino's. I have been on many guided trips before all over the country, but I do have to say that this trip and guide was the best guided trip I had ever been on.

  After we had dropped the 23' Ranger in the water and pushed away from the dock, Kevin started telling us a little history and a few landmarks along the lake. Shortly after he proceeded to tell us how we where going to fish, why we where going to fish where we where, and why it worked so effectively. I have been on guided trips before where you pull up to a spot, and the guide hands you a rod and says start fishing. No explanation on why we are fishing where we are. I think this is a quality many guides will over look. Maybe it is just me cause I am a fishy guy, but I thought it was a unique part of our trip that the guide explained these aspects.

 Because it was late winter in Vegas the air temp only rose to about 63 degrees that day, with surface water temps hitting 60 degrees. The targeted species was Stripped Bass. Because of the warmer surface temps there was defiantly a feeding frenzy going on as we pulled up to our spot for the day. We were set-up with some ultra light spinning rods, with a drop weight and circle hooks that would hunker on a piece of frozen anchovy. As Kevin had explained to us at the beginning of our trip, we would be using a center chunk of frozen anchovy that would contain mostly guts in the center. Reason being is that the center gut portion was like the cream filling of a twinkie. The fish just went nuts for it! So we got baited up and dropped the lines in the water. The main key to this was to be roughly 2 feet off the bottom slowly rising the bait a foot or so higher and then slowly lowering causing a reaction bite on the downfall. Also after we had some fish in our zone, Kevin the guide would chum more frozen anchovy and corn over the sides of the boat to A. keep the fish around and B. start a commotion in the water of a feeding frenzy to bring more fish into our area. This tactic of chumming worked awesome! There was also a point where we had a fish on a rod and the guide said he was going to hold the rod and leave the fish on there and that it should trigger more fish to bite. He was right on with this assumption. Before we knew it all 4 rods had a fish on it. It was incredible that Kevin had tried all these things out and knew exactly what was going to happen and when. Like I mentioned before this was one of the best guided trips I have ever been on. All together we caught 25 fish roughly, all Striped Bass and 2 Catfish. It was defiantly a great day on the water. If your ever heading to the Vegas area and you want to get away from the casino's and the lighted strip give Capt. Kevin a call @ (702)499-7942 or visit them online at It will be well worth the $300 for a half day trip!

Body of Water: Lake Mead
Closest Town: Henderson,NV
Air Temp: 63
Surface Water Temp: 60
Sky Conditions: Partly Cloudy
Bait: Frozen Anchovy on Circle Hooks
Targeted Species: Stripped Bass
Fish Caught: 25 + 2 Catfish
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Friday, February 17, 2012

refined whitefish tactics

While our first day on Green Bay was spent in the twelve to fourteen foot range, our ride out on the second day  suggested we might try poking some holes even shallower. We fished from ten feet deep all the way in to about six with the best luck in the extreme shallows. These were fish that you didn't have to work up from the bottom. They were cruising fish that were feeding in the shallows and if they did pop up on the flasher they almost for sure were hot to bite.  With the crystal clear visibility we actually were able to get a couple of takes sight fishing.  When I first started thinking about what our first trip to Green Bay would be like, I had always envisioned us sitting out over a thirty foot hole dropping heavy spoons garnished with a variety of meats down to the bottom. Well, this certainly hasn't been the case...

early morning whitefish caught on Green Bay
Standard presentations from the research we did before this trip led us to spoons like the Swedish Pimple in a size four and gold in color. This was noted as an effective pattern used on its own tipped with waxies and minnow heads but also as a dropper fastened below a small jig and swivel. This is an effective rig for quick drops and also for pounding bottom to create quite a disturbance. Fishing such shallow water I felt that this presentation was a bit overkill. We eventually downsized to just a tiny tungsten jig head tipped with a glob of waxies, and we fished these on our ultra-light bluegill rods. This setup resulted in some of the best drag screaming fights of our weekend trip.

my personal best whitefish caught on a bluegill rod
Again, I can't say enough for the tip down fishing on Green Bay, they accounted for a third of our fish the second day as well...

our pile of keepers from a morning of fishing
This trip was a blast and is something I'm going to consider making a yearly ritual. For those who have never been or have thought about it before, I would highly recommend giving it a shot as a destination for the Chicago ice fisherman.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

the whitefish of green bay

Day 1-

With a true passion for all of the different fish found in Wisconsin, me and Neal are always ready to chase a new species no matter where they may reside. This past weekend we spent not one, but two days chasing whites on the vast expanses of frozen water found just outside of Dyckesville Wisconsin.

ice fishing whitefish
With our very first few steps on to the frozen bay, it was easy to see where the congregation of people were setting up camp. Hundreds of shanties grouped together in a semi circle, some set up  just a few short feet from one another, formed a new city on the ice. With big group fishing on community holes not really being our scene, we set up about a half mile outside of "shanty town" more towards the shallows.

another nice green bay whitefish
To say that the fishing was easy would be a lie. With everything new there seems to be a healthy learning curve with catching whitefish. With a high sun and blue bird skies, the consensus from the people we talked to was that the bite was tough all around. The two greatest equalizers we had were staying mobile and fishing tip downs.

be sure to bleed out your catch for best taste
We rotated holes frequently and revisited the same holes that produced over and over again. While most people were hunkered down we spent the entire day shifting gear and blazing trails. Above and beyond fishing our butts off, not one other group we came across was fishing tip ups or tip downs. It seemed like they were married to their jigging rods. What a shame, the tip downs fished with rosy reds just off bottom resulted in nearly one third of all our fish and put us just shy of our two person limit.

neal with our near limit, is that a mullet?
Stay tuned to see how we fared on day number 2...
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The New Honey Hole Continues To Produce!!

  I was able to get out again over the weekend, and my new honey hole is still producing. We managed to pull quite a few up through the hole of shaved ice. This time around though we caught more bluegill and less crappie and perch. To my surprise though the quality of gills just keeps getting better. As I was on the ice and the fishing was slow, I decided to drill more holes in the surrounding area. I came up empty handed on the 28 holes I drilled. This leads me to believe that my assumptions are correct. I had assumed that my new honey hole was a point with some structure(a ledge) where the fish continue to hang out. I can only hope that the ice continues to hang around along with the fish. Tight Lines!
A Nice Slab!

Location:Candlewick Lake(Poplar Grove,IL)
Depth: 15 FOW
Species Caught: Bluegill,Crappie, Perch
Colors Fished: Gold,Pink, and Orange/Black
Bait: Wax Worms & Red Spikes
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Finding A New Honey Hole

 Life has been busy for me lately to say the least, but I did manage to sneak out a few times in the past couple of weeks. Since the ice has gotten a little thicker the fish have been scattered a bit. The fish haven't quite staged in one of my usual honey holes, so I decided to do some searching on my home lake.

 About two weeks ago I started on a quest to find some more quality fishing spots. I filled the power auger with gas, and just started drilling. After many holes and countless hours of jigging, I came across a few new holes. The first spot is at the start of a drop off in 14 FOW. This spot has a sandy bottom along a weed edge, which is key for those winter fish. The other spot I managed to stumble upon is literally  50 feet from where everyone parks and walks onto the ice, but never thinks to try and fish here. This spot is 12 FOW along a weed edge with a sudden drop down to 18 FOW. This is a nice ledge that the fish are staying on top of. The key part is that there seems to be a pile of logs or old Christmas trees piled up here. I have always found that structure is key no matter what time of year or body of water that you are fishing. All in all my two new holes have produced 5 different species of fish, and steady action. Types of fish that have been caught here are:Bluegill, Perch, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, and so far one Northern Pike. So next time your normal fishing spot isn't producing move around and explore some fresh water, because you never know what you might find. Tight Lines!
The Night Bite Has Been Great For Crappie and Gills

My Little Brother With A Nice Crappie

Location: Candlewick Lake (Poplar Grove,IL)
Water Depth: 12'-16'
Ice Depth: 6"-8"
Species Caught: Bluegill,Crappie,Perch,Lgm Bass, Northern Pike
Colors Fished: Gold,Pink, Glow Green
******Candlewick Lake is Private, you must know a resident to fish here, and I am always looking for  a        fishing partner ******

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