Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Largemouth Lightswitch

I took a trip to Timber Lake in West Chicago.  Timber Lake is part of the DuPage Forest Preserve District and a pretty little pond.  I figured I'd work it over to see what I could catch and then jet on my way to some other location.  I was loaded for bear.  I had five rods two ultralights with live bait on slip floats, a baitcaster with a spinner bait, a baitcaster with a Texas-rigged craw, and a spinning rod with a swim-jig with a Big Hammer trailer.  I walked the pond and worked it but didn't get so much as a nibble.

Well, if this pond didn't want to play nice I figured I'd go to another.  I decided I'd take my two newest rods out and try to catch fish with them.  I picked up an ultralight and a Abu Garcia/Bass Pro combo during a recent sale and I had yet to catch fish with either.  I set my mind the task of doing that right away.  I had wax worms (waxies) and night crawlers and my ultralights and that sounded perfect for catching bluegills.

I drove to a pond I ice fished this past winter and set up my slip float at 3 feet.  Two waxies on a hook and side arm fling later and I was watching my float bob into place...and then bob under the surface and stay down.

Math tells me that 30 waxies divided by two per hook equals fifteen baited hooks.  Some caught two bluegills so I probably had around twenty gills in my walk around this pond that I caught with waxies.  I did have to keep ducking under the cover of tree branches to avoid the spotty rain showers.  

I was enjoying myself and being out of bait wasn't going to stop me.  I remembered the words of Marty aka Wacky Bass on the DuPage Angler forums. Take a Gulp Grub and cut the tail off, thread it on your hook and you've got a bait that bluegills will eat all day.

He was right!  Bluegills loved the grub-body and the thing was practically indestructible.

Then a funny thing happened.  The rain really started to come down.  I plopped down on the dry ground under the cover of a small tree to wait out the rain.  Since there were no other trees around me I could side-arm cast sitting down.  Ok, fling the indestructo-grub with the slip float set at about four feet.  The weights pull the float upright then the float shoots down.  Like a light switch had been thrown the grub that had been catching bluegills now began catching bass.

I caught a few small guys and then a nice little 12" guy which was a hoot on the ultralight.

Once the rain broke I packed up and left.  My day of fishing was fun, I got to prove that the big yellow ultralight can catch fish, and that there exists, if only in my mind a Largemouth Lightswitch.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: 6.5lb Bruiser Pre-Cold Front

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: 6.5lb Bruiser Pre-Cold Front: If I know a front of some sort is coming like a storm or cold front, I try to get out before it hits to make a few cast to see if fish are...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: Smallie Fun

My friend Dan Byrne aka Pondboy and me wading drift fishing. Saturday's nature excursion.

Pondboy's Angling Experience -DA ProStaff: Smallie Fun: DarkStar and I hit a creek for smallies today it was pretty cold early and it was a tough bite with many of the fish-able holes packe...

Monday, April 16, 2012

ZAP Spinnerbait Bassin'

Last year I was given a ZAP Spinnerbait from DuPage Angler co-founder Patrick AKA: Toadfish at a DA Event I was out fishing at.  I was to take the spinner and try it out, noting the fish it caught and report back.  Well, it ended up in my tackle behemoth and I forgot about it until I got an email from Pat asking if I could have a write up soon.  I went out the next day and fished two ponds with the spinner and ended up catching 30+ fish.

Flash forward to yesterday:  It was a windy day post-rain and the pipe-bite was on but DaveO and I ended up fishing a pond as we had little time to run-and-gun fish after cleaning up and sanitizing our beer equipment all morning.  I knew with the overcast skies but the strong winds that finesse fishing was out of the question and this pond has lots of wispy weeds so crank bait fishing was out too.  Enter the venerable spinnerbait.

I recently got a small bag to complement my fishing setup and take some pressure off the straps on my tackle behemoth.  I transferred lures and baits I'd likely use when out bass fishing and put them in cute little bag.
Knowing the sun wasn't out much a flashy blade wouldn't be as important on a spinner as a blade that thumps and gets the bass' lateral line stimulated to track down dinner.  I showed DaveO the selection of spinnerbaits and he gravitated toward the ZAP.  It turned out to be an excellent choice!  I give to you a sampling of DaveO's fish caught on the ZAP spinner bait with the hammered copper Colorado blade in a single pond, on a single afternoon, one spinnerbait got over a dozen bass to say: Spinnerbait...that's what's for dinner!

One of my two on two different Strike-King spinners.  I need to order some ZAPs!
So if you're looking for spinnerbaits that will perform well beyond your expectations in terms of design quality and fish catching ability look no further than ZAP Lures and tell Dennis that you heard about his quality spinners from the fine folks at  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Inch by Inch - A Measured Approach to Fishing

After some postings in's forums this week about estimating a five pound largemouth bass visually I decided I'd measure and weigh the bass I catch and then run their length and girth measurements through a calculator to see just how close they were to real life measured weight. (the formula used is the same as I used in THIS post.)

My equipment was simple: Tape Measure, BogaGrip scale, my spinning rod, a Strike King Tungsten bullet weight, and a pack of Berkley Crazy Legs Chigger Craws in Pumpkin Green color.

I had an Owner #3 EWG hook tied on just south of the weight then I Texas-Rigged the craw and tossed it out to slowly work back with a slow, upward rod sweep punctuated with "twitch-stop-twitch-stop" until my rod was pointed straight up. Then I would reel back in slowly as I dropped my rod tip so I kept tension between the weighted bait on the bottom of the pond and the tip of my rod.

Now all I had to do is wait for a tap...single or double. Depending on the bass and the position of the bait I found that I had to wait for two taps like I would on a Texas-Rigged worm before a hook-set.

Fish #1
3.5 lbs. Unfortunately I didn't think to measure this one so here's the "money shot" for your viewing pleasure.

Not a bad picture of a nice fish that I had the pleasure to bring to the surface world. Observe how the bass can look thinner and thus appear lighter due to the angle of the photo. No girth shows so weight estimations can be off. Unfortunately in my excitement to get her back in the water she didn't get measured. I'd leave that for pond number two fish today.

Pond Two
16.75" x 11" 3.5# weighed

14"x10" 2.5# weighed
Calculated weight 1.5#

17"x12.5" 3.66# weighed
Calculated weight 2.86#

18"x13" 4.5# weighed

Here's where I messed up. I got excited by landing a 4.5# bass and in the effort to measure her, weigh her, and photograph her I missed the photograph step. My biggest bass to date and I can't prove it. %$^@#$^#^%$@^$#%$....ok..I'm better now.

Calculated weight 3.28#

14"x11" 2.5# weighed
Calculated weight 1.82#

So as can be seen by the weights versus calculations there is an mental-math difference of .75# when estimated versus weighed.  I never figured the formulas were going to be spot on accurate; that's what a scale is for.

Speaking of my scale the Boga Grip is calibrated at the factory but in the nine months or so I've had it could have thrown it off a bit. I'll take it to the grocery store and weigh bags of produce then compare them to the produce scales until the produce manager asks me to leave just to show my dedication in trying to be accurate in this situation.

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and wish all tight lines and downed bobbers!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wading before Pond Hopping

Sunday I went fishing with my friend Dan who everyone knows as Pondboy.  We started off in Plainfield wading in the DuPage river.  The weather and water is still too cold for smallmouth bass to be in the stretch of river we were in.

Thinking on our feet we made several stops in a Pond Hopping run.

Dan was ready to cast first and got a hit on his ribbon-tail worm immediately after casting.  He went to set the hook and *SNAP*....Fireline broke off.

Like a good fisherman I cast to the spot near where he broke off and set the hook on this bass.

You can see my tackle behemoth behind me in this picture.  Weighing in at 30 pounds it is what makes my pond fishing trips an aerobic workout.

Dan kept working this pond but mentioned another adjacent to where we were that was a little more sloppy/swampy.  I was intrigued and figured I'd go take a look at that area while Dan fished this pond.

While I was walking to the other pond Dan made up for his Fireline's shortcomings and caught these bass on a black ribbon tail worm and a Case Helgramite.  

Meanwhile I was seeing water boils near shore while I was walking.  I cast to one and missed a bass.

I worked the area around where I missed on purpose because I was not going to miss a second time.

I didn't.

On the drive home I was insistent on helping Dan embrace braid.  I had a similar experience with Fireline and I won't buy it again.  I stripped the Fireline off Dan's casting reel and spooled it with Power Pro 30# with a 12# Mono backer.  Of course he had to try the set up out....and of course I get this picture and thanks for helping find a quality braid.

Another happy Power Pro user.  Heck, anyone with a fish in their hand is a happy user of the equipment they have but I'm a big fan of the Power Pro and I think Dan is becoming one too.

Three Jasons and a Dave

This past Saturday my friend DaveO organized a trip to Shabbona Lake with his college roomate Jason, our mutual friend from high school Jason, and of course me the third Jason in the group.

We arrive early and braved the chilly weather, rented boats, and putted off as fast as our trolling motors could take us to a few spots on the lake.

We were hoping for a good bite but it is still early in the fishing season.  Our first few spots didn't yield so much as a nibble on the live bait and no strikes at all on lures.  Any of the other boats that were close enough to talk to had the same story as we did.  The bite was off for bass, walleye, and muskie that day.

As the weather warmed we decided to leave the sheltered area we anchored in and move to a deeper area called the forest.

The forest is literally a stand of trees that were left in place on purpose when the lake was created in order to make structure for fish to relate to.  We tied off to the tree trunks as our anchors wouldn't have reached bottom and they would have broken branches on the trees; it's a Shabbona rule that is told to everyone that comes with a boat.

So...cold weather, tough bite, structure...what to do?  Well, you slip-rig for crappie, that's what you do!

Jason boats two nice sized crappies and Dave catches one that had his float down for thirty seconds or so before he noticed and set the hook. Sadly his boat was close enough to communicate with but too far away for a good cell phone picture of his catch so we can assume that for this day Jason was the master angler in the tallies and I was his boat "rider" in tournament speak.

We all had a great day out on the water and definitely will be back again this year.  A fun day fishing with friends!