Monday, January 30, 2012

Move over Alabama-Rig, Here comes the CRAZY-Rig!!!

I love Dave Mercer's humor and quirky delivery style when it comes to fishing.  Here's a video clip he found that'll give the Alabama-Rig a run for it's money.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

DuPage Angler Ice Clinic with Pondboy

It's no secret that I fish a lot with my friend Dan aka Pondboy.  He knows me well enough to just have me try something knowing I'll like it.  Ice fishing is no exception.  The first day the ice was thick enough to get out on it this year he called, I went, and of course I enjoyed it.

Yesterday Dan organized a DuPage Angler Ice Fishing Clinic and had a eight people total out walking on the lake and fishing.  It was a great day for trying something new and at least one attendee is hooked.

I'd write up my thoughts but Pondboy did a good job of that so I'll direct you to his blog for the description and post pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Pondboy's Angling Experience - DuPage Angler Ice Fishing Clinic

Checking out the Ice

MWolf's first fish through the ice and the clinic's first catch.

From Left to Right Wacky Bass, Fluke, and Steelie Pete on the lake

BrimReaper standing and jigging

MWolf working the jigging and watching the spring bobber

SteeliePete baits his jig as others fish in the background

Touchdown? ;-)

Yeah, I'm jigging on a bucket

Pondboy gets a nice crappie inside the shelter

I got a nice bluegilll

Dan got a nice bluegill

I set up my underwater fish camera and saw a largemouth bass.  Of course Dan catches it

Dan with another nice crappie

BrimReaper with a nice crappie

MWolf jigging outside

MWolf and Dan's shelter


Bassin' the Midwest - Time to Suit Up

My friend Alan and his blog considering the pluses and minuses of rain suits designed for fishing.

Bassin' the Midwest - It's Time to Suit Up!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Know your knots, or you'll lose lures, fish, and patience

I come to this post pretty honestly.  When I first got back into fishing I learned one knot and thought it would be enough.  Unfortunately I didn't learn to tie this knot correctly and I developed an expensive habit; chucking spinner-bats out to the middle of ponds without my line attached.

Since life teaches you lessons when you pay attention to them I decided to improve my knots and knot knowledge.  I found a site on the net that showed me how to tie a few fishing knots.  Then I found a few more.   

When fishing we want the strongest possible connection between the hook/lure and our line; it's the only connection to the fish we want to catch that we have.  To this end the knots I usually tie are known as 95% knots.  This means the knot is only 5% weaker than the pound-test rating of the line you're using.  It's important to know that your knot isn't going to fail when you hook into what is pulling like it's the biggest fish you've ever caught.

The first knot you'll need to know in order to get line on your reel is the Arbor Knot and is the site where I first learned to tie it.

Arbor Knot from

Since I fish braided line on my wet-water rods for the added strength/thinner diameter it offers I like the Palomar Knot. (it's a 95% knot)

Palomar Knot from

A good knot to tie in monofilament (what most fisher-people use) to attach terminal tackle.  (also a 95% knot)

Improved Clinch Knot from

There are many more knots to learn. I have found it's good when wading to be have your knot of choice committed to knowledge as you're mid-river and not really able to look up much on the internet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I got off cheap

I got off cheap.

For less than what I spent last summer on a 7' carbon-fiber rod and baitcast reel I got enough gear to cut a hole in the ice and catch fish.

  • 24" Clam brand Ultra-Light rod and reel combo
  • 26" Clam brand Light rod and reel combo
  • Northland 2# test Ice line
  • An assortment of spilt-shot sinkers
  • 5-Gallon bucket
  • 5-Gallon bucket gear caddy
  • A pair of ice cleats (you CAN walk on ice without snow without them but you'll fall down a lot more often)
  • A pair of needle-nose pliers for the ice gear bucket. (I have one in my tackle bag and my wading chest-bag)
  • Frabill spring-bobber set (more on those later)
  • A pair of depth finder weights (more on these later too)
  • An 8" Lazer hand auger
  • And a jig-box which I filled (not exactly full mind you) with jigs, and plastics

The spring bobber is a strike indicator. Instead of floating on the surface this "bobber" is a spring that the line passes through at the very tip of the rod. When a fish takes your jig the orange tip at the very end of the spring bends down. It seemed foreign to me until I saw it then it made perfect sense; the tip stays pretty much straight while you jig then it noticeably bends when the load of a fish is applied. It's a very sensitive way to tell you should raise your rod and reel in a fish.

Depth finder weights are a simple clamp-on weight that clamps to your jig. You lower the weight through the hole in the ice until it hits bottom. Now you can reel the rod down to the surface of the water and slowly lift up. You can measure how much line is out by comparing where the weight is with your height. If it's not out of the water yet carefully reel down to the surface and stand back up again.

Once you know how deep the water is below you there are ways to set bait a foot off the bottom. Then two feet. Keep adjusting the bait and you find the fish. Once you find the fish you keep fishing that depth. It's a lot easier with electronics but this is the way I can fish in the winter inexpensively.

Like I said from the beginning, ice gear doesn't have to be expensive. I have enough now to make a nice hole in the ice, then locate, and catch fish.

I got off cheap.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bassin' The Midwest

I hadn't been on long before I discovered how many friendly and helpful people there were on the site.  Any question I had got answered quickly and in as much detail as I wanted; I soaked it in.  

I met Alan (aka Fluke) for the first time at Bass Pro Shops in Bolingbrook, IL.  We met there so he could show me the differences in baitcasting reels and what to look for in a carbon-fiber rod.  An engineer by trade he was able to explain what features gear had that were beneficial and which were fluff.

Fluke's inaugural post in his blog Bassin' The Midwest gives you a window into his fishing past and future.  I look forward to following his successes this year, his first year fishing bass tournaments.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why do I fish? - from a post on

I fish both as a way of relaxing in a meditative sort of way and as a way to connect with my father and grandfather.

My first fish was a bluegill or pumpkin seed and I recall while small it had the most beautiful coloration almost like an aquarium fish. I remember I was around 5 because my brother wasn't born yet and we went as a family to a house on a private lake. Cane pole, bobber, worm, someone to put worm on hook, someone to take fish off hook and put another worm on and I was loving it! My father was happy to impale as many worms as I wanted and remove as many slimy, icky, strangely beautiful fish from my hook just to see the joy and pride in my face. "Look Dad! I caught a fish!"

Once I got a little older Dad and I would get up before the sun came up and load fishing gear in the big 1970's family cargo length van (never know when you'd need to transport 10 people...Dad always was prepared) and drive to White Hen and get two sandwiches from the deli, a bag of potato chips, and a 2-liter of soda for each of us. A couple bags of ice for the cooler and we were on our way to Plainfield to fish one of the public pay for entry strip-mine pits there. Shakespeare rod, spincast reel, big red and white bobber, and a worm. Cast and sit. Sometimes catch. Sometimes just sit. I enjoyed the time with dad but hardly ever caught anything.

I fished on and off until I was in my early teens and decided that I was too cool for drowning a worm and sitting still. My father still went out but mainly to the pond by the Naperville Police station and mainly to fall asleep in a folding chair with a rod in a rod holder, bell on tip, and big red and white bobber.

Flash forward to 2011. For some reason I got a bug up my butt to start fishing again. I haven't thought about fishing since I was a kid. Dad died in 2000; I wonder if my brother tossed out his gear. Thankfully he hadn't.

I started searching the internet for forums to teach me how to fish in any way that didn't involve a big red and white bobber. I signed on to other fishing forums in the Chicagoland area but none had the type of people or fostered the nurturing attitude that DuPage Angler did.

I quickly learned and upgraded my equipment, developed a healthy addiction to standing in rivers, met some great people and developed friendships and the rest is yet to come. I look forward to experiencing my first spring fishing now that I have a better idea what I'm doing and my second summer fishing since I was a kid.

You know what? This summer I think I'll break out one of those bobbers and drown a worm for nostalgia's sake.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice Ice Baby: The sequel to yesterday's ice fishing

Just a quickie:

I went out again with Pondboy to the pond I got my ice-feet wet in yesterday.

This time we got four or five small crappie.

It's nice to see the juvenile crappie eating and getting bigger.  I look forward to fishing that pond in 10 years and catching slabs.

Washed the Skunk Off (and down the ice hole)

Today started off even earlier at a local pond that Pondboy and I had fished once before in the warmer months.

I was gung-ho to go.  I wanted to get out and experience not only ice fishing but ice catching too.

Pondboy's old trusty fish finder was confused by this hole; it seemed that the bottom was constantly moving.  It's a good thing the man knows his fish finder as that meant there were too many fish below us to get a good fix on the bottom.  Three more holes, a shelter set-up and bam we were fishing.

Technically I drew first blood.  Pondboy handed me a minnow rod and a jigging rod with a gold colored ice jig with a glow in the dark flesh colored soft bait that looks like a round ball with a thin plastic tail and I dropped it to 6 feet and tapped the rod....tap, tap, sproing..... Spring bobber down, hook set, and reel, reel, and hey look a, slap, flop, swim-into-hole.  Shucks.  Maybe I don't get to count that one....PB's dad always said it counts as a catch if you touch it.  So here is Pondboy with his first of the day; a cute sunfish with a fat, orange/yellow belly.

I wasn't going to let the second fish to bend my bobber get away so I did a good, high hook set and felt the wiggle, wiggle of a fish hooked on my line.  A sunfish for me too!

All total we must have caught 20 sunfish each.   The surprise came when Pondboy switched his panfish rod's normal waxie or spike larvae and changed to a plastic bait that resembled mine but it was bubble-gum pink with a bouncy thin-tail.

I dropped my plastic down to 8-9 feet in an area of 10 foot depth and tap-pause-tap-tap-pause, sproing goes the spring bobber and up comes an 6" largemouth bass.  

Pondboy puts his panfish rod down to take my picture with my first "non-sunfish through the ice" when his rod moves closer to the hole apparently all by its self.  Well, it was really moving because a 12" largemouth grabbed his little, pink, plastic.  

Seeing a fish of that size come through  the hole in the ice was pretty amazing to me.  Hey, this was my second day ice fishing and my first day of ice catching.  ;-)

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: River Grubs make for a Fall Lake Surprise

From my friend Pondboy's blog. I'm just happy I could teach him something after all he's taught me.

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: River Grubs make for a Fall Lake Surprise: Darkstar and I meet up and river fish when we can. He had received some info from Ken G on a grub he likes to throw. I have a whole box o...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First time fishing in 2012

It was less than 20 degrees.  It was early.

I arrived at my friend Pondboy's house at 7AM.  Today, the 21st of January 2012 I took my first steps out onto water.

The mild temperatures we had in December were finally gone and the sub-freezing temps that followed had finally frozen four inches of ice; the minimum that Pondboy feels comfortable fishing on.  I was going to go ice fishing for the first time.

First we drilled holes ten feet from shore, then twenty, then we got close to the middle of the pond and measured the ice thickness; 4 inches and a bit more.  Next we drilled test holes to determine where to set up the shelter.  To determine where the fish were a fish-finder was employed to test for the presence of fish.

Once we found a place that showed fish on the finder we drilled another hole a few feet away and moved the finder to the new hole.  If fish marked on the screen another hole was drilled again a few feet in another direction.  We kept making holes until we liked what the fish finder was telling us.  Three additional holes were drilled to make four in a line and it was time to set up the shelter.

The ice rods are wispy, short, and a little foreign to me, but they are rods with spinning reels and I'm comfortable with those.  It took a little time but I got one tiny ice-jig hooked into a few Spikes on the panfish rod and a Rosy Red minnow on the other rod and set up the slip float's stop string.

Rosy Reds are a purpose-bred color variant of the Fathead minnow and are a new-found bait trick to me.  There are local places I can get wax-worms, spikes, and other larvae for live wiggling bait but the closest place to get minnows that I know of is 45 minute drive in a perfect world.  Pondboy thought outside the box and went to Petsmart.  Any pet store will usually have Rosy Reds as they are a feeder fish sold for the purpose of being eaten by larger carnivorous fish; so instead of feeding them to my pet Oscar I am trying to feed them to a crappie or bass under the ice.

We fished two spots in three hours.  In the second spot both my minnow float and Pondboy's minnow float dipped then pulled under the surface.  I moved to set the hook in a slow and controlled manner and felt a small bit of resistance.  I reeled in the line and found my jig without the minnow.  Something grabbed the tail and hadn't gotten to the hook end yet.  Pondboy had a similar experience.

Fish registered on the finder but nothing else bit today.  Still I was amazed at how much fun it was; cat and mouse games with fish that show up on sonar when you drill one hole but once you plant your shelter they relocate.  Today we didn't have what it took to catch.  I have a sneaky feeling that we might try to go ice fishing again soon.