Tuesday, March 12, 2013

better days ahead

Fishing on Sunday afternoon was cold, wet, and foggy as all get out. Lord knows if instinct didn't take over, I certainly would have gotten lost on the way to a river I have fished countless times. 

Conditions then were on the rise, and now they are more comparable to flood stages. When we first started fishing the flows were moving at a slow and steady pace but at the end of the day the river was really starting to kick and the water had really colored up. 

My buddy flipping spawn and me swinging streamers both came up empty and soaked to the bone, but that’s just fine because there are better days ahead. 

flipping a nice run
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

ending my ice season

As the ice fishing season here begins to give way to warmer times, I finished my season in much the same fashion as it began. No, I'm not talking about anything outrageous. I didn't ice any monsters but the crappie bite this year was at least consistent. Trying to target the crappies a bit harder then say bluegill has made it a very enjoyable season.

Me and Damien set out at a down right reasonable time in the morning for a small little lake that typically is off the beaten path. It took a bit more effort then I remember in reaching the lake, though it has been over a year since my last visit. The snow on our route to the lake lay undisturbed by no one other then a few woodland creatures. Here you really could visualize the total snow fall from our last series of storms while stepping into almost knee high drifts. Not an easy walk.

our destination, a tucked away "little" lake
The ice was solid and thick but had a layer of water on top with another layer of snow on top of that. Every step would send my boot through the snow and slush til it found the solid layer of ice but quickly the water would seep in to fill any depression. This wasn't really easy walking but at least it was better then coming through the drifts on our way in.

I spent a good portion of the day fishing a Swedish Pimple which certainly helped keep away some of the smalls, but alas there were tons of these baby fish who liked to investigate our baits. The spoon did however give a few decent gills and crappie.

hand sized gills on the swedish pimple
the average sized crappies for around here
Damien did manage to connect with a few bass, and I popped a hook on one as well. This one if I recall took a panfish jig and wax worm and was just barely skin hooked in the top lip.

this bass sure peeled of some drag
And to wrap up the season, here was the best crappie of the day, Damien caught this 11 inch fish with a serious underbite.

funny looking crappie face
And now, I begin the process of breaking down my ice gear and moving it to my basement. Time to start preparations for spring steelhead and early season trout, both I hope to be fishing this month as much as possible. For those of you I know that are fishing the 2013 trout opener this weekend, good luck to you all.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

fox chain of lakes area ice fishing report

Given the bluebird skies and late winter ice, I thought that conditions weren't the best and we were prepared for sluggish fish. Within the first set of holes we drilled we found that the bite was anything but lethargic. These guys were spunky enough that they were hammering spoons dangled 4 feet above their heads. Not a bad start and we had a few gills and a crappie on the ice before even setting the tip downs.

The tip downs produced some very nice perch and these guys were as big as we have ever seen them in here. A few of them hit on the drop before the minnow ever reached the bottom. A good reminder to actually work your minnow as it descends instead of just letting it free fall.

a nice in-land perch
We had one of the best days panfishing yet. Fish came in packs and for a steady 2 or so minutes, you couldn't get the baits down the hole quick enough. But, as fast as they came was as fast as they were gone. That went on and off every 15 minutes or so for a solid 2 hours and gave us enough opportunity to sort out a solid bag of keepers. 

the truck bed of death
Oh, yeah and one consolation bass...

the lone bass of the day
Given the forecast for the next ten days and the solid cap of ice over 10 inches thick, I think we have a couple more weeks of ice trips to go. I'm not so sure how long before I get back out on the rivers but I'm getting that itch, so it may be sooner then later. We will see...

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

bass fishing with poppers

This year I have been truly blessed in the regards of getting some pretty wicked flies from other bloggers all across the country. Commenting on a few other blog posts has afforded me a few contest winnings and and few offers to send me a couple just to try out. Graciously, Kevin from "Fly Waters Edge" sent me a few foam creations to play around with come warmer days.

a stellar example of some foam poppers for bass
Here's the link to his original post-
   Depression Popper

Thanks my friend, I will be doing a follow up on what I can muster up on these come spring/summer. I hope to show you a few toads caught on these in the days to come. Here's to some warmer weather, despite the freezing temps and snow that we have in the forecast...
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Friday, February 8, 2013

channel lake ice fishing report - fox chain

My last ice trip has left me with a few questions. Sure, conditions weren't optimal. A bright blue sky at high noon on the second day of a serious cold front usually foreshadows a tough day. But, despite the cards dealt, I caught fish, and numbers of fish for that matter.

channel lake - shanty town
Where the quandary comes into play is in relation to the size of these fish and where they were caught. Setting up on the community hole this late in the season and catching smalls all day long makes me wonder how many of the bigger fish actually got sorted out? Is it possible the majority of the fish left in that particular bay were the medium to small sized? Or, was it that those were the only fish I could catch that particular day under those particular conditions?

I guess this is just one of those questions that I may never have the answer to, but I’ll be dammed if I go out there and do the same thing over again and expect different results. For me, I will be searching out some more remote spots for the rest of this ice season instead of trying to continue to beat up the same fish that have seen every jig in the box.

i know they get bigger then this...

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

the complete angler

Thanks CoolWaterFish for sharing one of the absolute best fishing documentaries I've ever seen on YouTube. I don't normally share too many videos from others but this is a cut above the rest.

It's forty-five minutes and I've already watched it twice this week and the second time through I found so much more I missed. I can hardly wait to watch this again.

Anyone else have a great fishing video on YouTube they like, please share it in the comments.
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

daddy daughter ice adventures

warm and ready to go
No fish I have ever caught can compare to the feeling of watching my children catch fish. At the ripe old age of four my daughter has taken quite well to the fascination of fish under the ice. This was the first year that we allowed her to come out and for being so young her attention span was remarkable. We spent two hours together fishing and every bluegill caught was as exciting as the first.

fun with the ice scoop
heater going, jacket off, and enjoying the fish

the one the poked her little hand
hitching a ride back home

Proud dad...
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Monday, January 28, 2013

night bite papermouths

sunset on Lake County ice
The photo above was take with my i-phone using the Photosynth app. It takes multiple photos as you manually pan the phone in a certain direction and stitches them all together. I really like the results even though there is a few areas I can pinpoint distortions. Check out the app, its free.

night bite crappies Lake county style
I had a terrible time catching anything other then 3 inch perch and rock bass. This was the first time fishing in heavy weeds and will say that the Hummingbird Ice 35 I bought a few years back has a hard time clearing the noise in weedy situations. Over open water and sparse cover it works perfect but over moderate weeds its just not as sensitive as some higher end models. I honestly spend 2 hours looking for a wire kink and loose connections thinking the unit was broken. Well I tested the unit again today over clear water
with no cover and back to working perfect. Hmmm... I guess I'm starting to understand the limitations of my equipment.

I'm thankful for good ice fishing friends who keep the conversation going and add the the keeper pile. 

Stay tuned for daddy daughter day on the ice!
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013


It has been an uneventful couple weeks on the fishing front unless you take into account the dozen or so flies I've tied up. Two weekends ago we experienced some freak weather reaching nearly 50 degrees with some pretty consistent rain. My better judgement kept me off the ice that weekend.

Last weekend I attended our annual sales training meeting for work. Even though the temps have fallen below a two year low, no fishing for me. Thankfully I have some pretty cool friends that have continued to plug away.

Shawn, thanks for the bang lake pike photo.

Neal, are those gills really as big as a 20 oz bottle?

Randall, when we going fishing?

I'm looking forward to this weekend more then most.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

double bunny streamer

double bunny streamer 

hook- streamer style to match target species
thread- any, I like the hot spot red makes on these colors
head- cone
body- two strips magnum cut rabbit strip, a few added pieces of flash added to the top

A versatile fly made from the joining of two separate strips of magnum cut rabbit. What I am liking most of all is the infinite color and size combinations, the possibilities are really endless. I tied my fly on a size 6 streamer hook but its an easy pattern to up or down-size. I'm making them in all different sizes for steelhead, trout, and bass...

The top strip of rabbit is fastened at the tail and the same single piece is then pulled forward to be tied off inside the cone. The bottom strip is pierced by the hook and run up the shank of the hook to the top where it should be set to marry with the top piece, tie it also off at the cone on the underside.
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Sunday, January 6, 2013

ice fishing report for the fox chain of lakes

The ice depth on our southern lakes are quickly approaching five inches. Snowmobiles and atv's are out in full force right now so foot travel in most places is relatively safe. Taking advantage of some of the firmer ice we made a long trek on a hunch to an area we believed might be an off the beaten path wintering hole.

footsteps on the fox chain of lakes
It didn't take long to realize that the pressure here was 100% local. This was one of those spots where everyone knew everyone but us, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. Not to say they weren't nice to us, in fact they were down right cordial. Small talk and a few anecdotes aside, the fishing was  down right decent. We came from far and wide searching for papermouths and with a good bit of sorting we took a respectable bag.

a fox chain of lakes papermouth pile
Warm weather and some rain looms in the near future and is predicted for mid-week stretching into the weekend. It's supposed to drop down to sub-arctic temps right after the warm front so I would imagine it wont make much of a dent in the ice, we shall see.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

ice fishing pistakee lake

A short report from new years day. We fished Pistakee Bay working our way from the south end up. It actually worked out well catching bluegill in the shallows progressively working are way to deeper water for crappies as it got later.

In the shallows it took many holes to get on a single fish but once I found that first good hole, it was really good. Some of the best bluegills so far this winter came to hand.

Pistakee lake bluegills
As we worked into the deeper water a few more crappies were caught along with a few nice whites (not pictured) and plenty of sheephead.

small crappie from Pistakee lake
Those not familiar with the chain or Pistakee lake in specific should note that Pistakee Bay is one of the few deep spots on the south end of our chain. The depth here provides a huge wintering pool for multiple species and the phrase "community hole" hits the nail right on the head. I don't think its such a bad phrase because at least people fish here for a reason. The reason is because there are fish here, Duh...

Knowing that brilliant revelation, now you just have to be smarter going about catching the fish. I've had some of my best success fishing plastics here. Showing the fish something different and once they are interested, take it away with reckless regard. Ice depth was over 4 inches and growing like crazy while we were there.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

big things come in small packages

“Currents” has long been one of my favorite fishing blogs. It’s somewhat local, yet far enough to feel unfamiliar. But, it focuses on those things that I love most about fishing; trout, smallies, fly fishing, the driftless, and tying. I've been following along post by post for almost a year now. Recently, I had made a comment on one of the fly patterns on their site called the “dirty mop”, a great looking bugger pattern that looks dynamite for some small stream trouts. Low and behold, a tiny package arrived at my door just in time for Christmas. Its contents, a handful of “dirty mops” that I promise to put to good use on the trout streams next spring.

John, thanks so much for the time you put into making my Christmas that much more merry. For the rest of you, be sure to check out their site. 

dirty mops (photo borrowed from Currents)
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