Apr 30, 2009

Gotta keep 'em separated

My in-laws bought me a chatterbait as part of a modest Easter present. What I didn't realize at first, and I suspect they're guilty of the same, was this is no ordinary chatterbait. It's manufactured by Booyah and has some technology I haven't seen before. I pitched the packaging, so I don't know the marketing name for this technology but I remember they claimed it will help keep fish from throwing the lure. If you're a regular, you'll remember I recently had trouble with bass throwing my chatterbait but don't worry, it wasn't this particular lure. While I was having fish after fish throw chatterbaits, this thing was waiting patiently for me to call it's name. It's patience was in vain and the real culprit is sleeping with the fishies.

You'll notice it has a piece of cable coming from the head, followed by a coil of some sort and finally the business end. I'm not sure what the coil is for, but the leading thought is it's simply a mechanism to help solder the cable to the hook. Perhaps it's designed to help hold on a rubber trailer. Either way, the real interesting thing is not the coil, look at the cable's flexibility.

I'm an engineer by education and trade and I think I'm going to buy into this, but I'll wait to try it before my hypothesis becomes theory. On paper, a flexible shank will help isolate the weight from the point. As a fish registers it's displeasure, the weight of the hook will not be pulling quite as much on the hook point, helping it remain safely embedded in juicy lip-flesh. Either that, or it will cause impact loading and leave you reeling in a jaw bone - hopefully one your fist will fit into.

Shazam! Shazam! Shazam!

Well here is the third in a multi-part series as I try to find the right logo. Above you'll see the fine specimen my father-in-law caught on the Chippewa Flowage near Hayward WI. If you're interested in seeing the color version click here.

Previously we discovered the dock is better than Dave. How does the Muskie stack up?

Apr 27, 2009

Ah shucks

Anyone have a cigar? I guess not.

Dark. With continued dark until partly scattered light in the morning

Just recently I mentioned our weatherman is a doofus so I should have known better this past Saturday. I went to bed Friday night with plans to hit the club lake we've affectionately nicknamed "The Bagel." With it's prominent island and oval shape, it reminds me of a bagel. The forecast called for thunderstorms starting at noon and lasting all night so Dave and I were planning to go out early. To heighten the excitement, we were to exchange txt and picture message updates with Scott who would be fishing his club the same morning. Call it a small competition for bragging rights with real time updates.

My alarm woke me up at 5:30 and I already had a picture of a big bass waiting on my cell phone, Scott's an earlier bird - he drives and hour and a half to get to his lakes. I made some coffee and headed out to get the boat ready when I noticed it was raining. What? The forecast was "updated" overnight to include morning storms followed by the expected storms starting at noon. After a quick phone call our trip was delayed slightly. And delayed slightly again when a county road proved to closed and forced us to explore other country roads, some winding and some gravel.

Finally hit the water about 8:30 - the wind was howling and the bite was hot. I was throwing a black/blue chatterbait but it was giving me trouble; I had decided to add a pork trailer and after trying unsuccessfully to get it on hook I bend down the barb...a mistake that cost me dearly. I had three fish strike the chatterbait in a matter of 15-20minutes, all of them threw the hook in mid jump. By the end of the day I had six fish throw the hook and one break me off on a log, but this is the first time I've seen fish jump so that's good. I should have taken it as a sign that my in-laws recently gave me a different chatter bait with some technology to supposedly help it stay hooked (more on this in my next post). Around noon the storms rolled in and we scurried off the lake. On the drive home it seemed the weather was clearing up so we headed over to a different club lake, responsibilities be damned, where we caught a few more.

The total for the day was seven fish (plus the seven that got off) of nice size, but nothing huge. We fell short of Scott's team who had ten, but while they were fishing earlier they gave up at the noon storm and missed the calmest, warmest day I've fished this year. It really was spectacular afternoon fishing. Plus I was really impressed with The Bagel, it is the best lake I've fished in the club so far. I'll have to go back after I try the two I haven't hit yet.

Here is a sampling of the fish, like I said nothing huge but all nice.

And after watching this video, I now realize how much I like fat prespawn fish. This thing isn't huge, but you can tell from my reaction how much I enjoy it after Dave gets done snuggling the thing.

Apr 24, 2009

Can it work for me too?

A fellow blogger, BassPundit, enjoys blogging about the tournament bass fishing trail. He says it works for him so I think I'm going to give it a shot. Ok, I'm not really copying. I would blog about this anyway. In fact, I've been waiting since February of last year to have a chance at this so here goes.

Today was a huge day for Illinois bass fishing as high schoolers from across the state hit the water in the Illinois High School Association's (IHSA) first ever bass fishing tournament. Today sectionals took place on eighteen lakes, results are starting to show up. As I write this, the sectional featuring my alma mater (Illinois Valley Central HS) has not yet wrapped up. They must still be fishing hard on my home waters, Banner Marsh. However the other local tournament took place on Evergreen Lake and has reported results. Looks like Normal Community HS secured first place with three fish totaling 5.72lb. The Normal Community anglers were Adam Bean, Andrew Bean and Dane Robbins. For that lake, there are only three teams reporting....I wonder if the other teams blanked or if only three teams participated.

With five lakes yet to report, it's clear Lake Egypt has the most impressive results thus far. All ten teams brought in five fish limits and eight of those creels weighed more than ten pounds. The lightest five fish weight was over eight pounds. Lake Egypt is pretty far south, so warmer water probably helped with that. That being said, I think Banner Marsh and Coffeen Lake could easily take over the top spot. I can say from experience that catching three pounders is easy at Banner and I expect to see a 15lb creel reported (call me the great profit when this becomes true.) Coffeen Lake is a cooling lake located in the middle of the state and I've never fished it but heard great things.

I anxiously await the results from Banner Marsh. Banner is by far the best bass lake in the area and I think we should see some good creels. We apparently have one good angler fishing Banner today and the weather was great; we hit the 80 degree mark for the first time of the year and clouds have come and gone all day. Unfortunately it's been pretty windy too, so we'll see if that effected the outcome. In fact wind postponed two sectionals. Regardless if my IVC Grey Ghosts advance to the state tournament May 8th on Carlyle Lake I'm happy. It really speaks volumes about the folks who pushed to get this through and then worked hard to make it happen. I hope high school bass fishing sticks around in Illinois and catches on to be country wide.

While I'm holding my breath to see if these tournaments are considered a success I'm pleased to report one very positive event has transpired, perhaps entirely due to the tournament. Earlier this week a local HS team was practicing at Banner when they saved a man from drowning. Who knows...if they didn't have a tournament to prepare for would they have been around to pull this guy out of the water?


Update: While the official results aren't posted on the official site, Prairiestateoutdoors has posted a snippet of info on the Banner Marsh sectional. While I was a little off on my 15lb prediction, Pekin weighed in 11.99 pounds to win. Close, but no cigar.

Apr 18, 2009

Can it shread personal documents too?

The weather man said rain would arrive sometime between 11:00 and noon. I didn't let that scare me and went to Banner Marsh to squeeze in a few hours, luckily our weather man is a doofus and I never felt a drop during 4 hours of fishing. I got in the water about 10am and waded up and down the reeds looking for bass. I caught a small one using a purple/yellow Clouser Mad Tom. Upon returning to the starting point I took a piss, tied on an orange/black mad tom and started the circuit over again. This time I found this:

The 14 inch beauty went 1 lb-10 oz (on my reliable digital scale). The fight was an interesting one. While I was busy trying to reel in the slack fly line, this fish swam right at me and bumped into my right knee twice. I wasn't fast enough to net it before it swam about ten feet away then came right back at me. The second time I was ready and the result was a tie for my personal best crappie. This one was caught on a 4/0 Clouser Madtom (yeah I know that's a big ass hook) while I was fishing for bass in 3ft of water. The last one was also 14" and came out of 14ft of water on a minnow.

Also, now for an official update. In my previous post I talked about how my mechanical scale is unreliable. I knew this because when I bought the digital scale all my fish got a pound heavier. Last night I hooked the mechanical scale to my digital scale and pulled it to the same point the fat largemouth pulled it. It was hard for me to read both scales at once so I did this five times and I can now officially say Wednesday's fish weighed 3.8 pounds. Not quite 4 like Dave and I thought, but at least this will stop the debates/arguments that have ensued the last two days at work. I would also like to point out that I was right about my mechanical scale being wrong, it read 3lb for the same force that put my digital at 3.8lb. And yes, I'm ignoring the possibility the digital is wrong for obvious reasons.

Apr 15, 2009

I'm sort of a fan

I'm becoming a real fan of the Clouser Mad Tom fly. For one it is real easy to tie, well the version I tie is but I've never bothered looking up the official recipe. For two it apparently catches fish. Dave and I went to Banner Marsh today after work for a few ours of wading and fishing. We hit the spot that I caught a bass and hurt myself a few weeks ago. Sometimes you have to face your fears, and it paid off for me tonight. I caught this beauty on a 2/0 orange and black mad tom. Sadly I lost the fly a couple casts latter, but you can kind of see it in her mouth if you look close.

After retrieving my fly from a log, I found myself located in hip deep water with the log in front of me and cat tails to my rear. To fish from that spot required a roll cast so I did it, quite poorly in fact. I didn't feel a strike, but the line got heavy and I thought for a split second I had another log, then the log moved and I set the hook. She put up a good but short fight before giving up, no jumping. I can't wait to fight a fish like this in warm water with a long rod. We measured her to be 19 inches long. I also weighed her on my old rusty scale, but that thing is not to be trusted and I won't report the weight until I can check the scale. Anyone out there in cyberspace know what a 19 inch pre-spawn female might weigh? For now let's just say that she was a fatty and here is the proof.

I have to apologize to Dave for making this next portion a foot note, but it needs to be said. At one point Dave was out of sight but within ear shot. I heard "AH SH*T!!!" I knew he either got wet or lost a fish. Turns out he broke off a big one - we'll never know how big. Until we find a fish with a meat whistle in it's mouth it's the one that got away.

I'm starting to like the video format for blogging and here are a couple more from this trip, let me know what you think of these tidbits. The first was when Dave had to cross some deep (we didn't know how deep) water to retrieve a fly. I pressed the record button hoping he was about to take a dip and...well...you'll see. Pure unadulterated excitement.

Secondly, here is me trying to figure out how to hold a fish and a fly rod at the same time. You can tell I'm new at this, next time I'll have a clue - I promise.

Apr 12, 2009

The best time to be on the water

Scott and went to another of my club's lakes yesterday and the fishing proverb held true. I don't know who to credit with this wisdom, but we confirmed the best time to be on the water is the worst time to fish. Friday's rain gave way to bluebird skys on Saturday and the fish did not appreciate the uptick in pressure. Add the technical difficulty of wind and we had our work cut out for us. We fished from 8-2 and I threw just about everything I have for a slow presentation. The total for the two of us was one fish. It was a small but egg filled female I picked up around noon on a black and blue jig 'n pig in about 10 feet of water. This is also my first ever fish on a jig 'n pig, a lure I've heard all about being great for prespawn but also a lure I've never been able to produce with (not for lack of trying.)

The day was slow but I'm not ready to write off this particular lake. This lake had very clear water, plenty of cover and structure variations between 30 and 5 feet of water. It was a totally different lake than the cloudy flat bottomed lake we enjoyed success on last weekend. For now, I'm content blaming this on the weather and I'll reserve judgement for another day.

Oh, and I saw a beaver casually browsing for lunch on shore. Granted, I never would have noticed if Scott wasn't with me, but I saw it and I'll count that as an experience - the kind I'm after.


Location: Private lake
Water Temp: 49-51 degrees
Air Temp: 34 degrees at 8am, 64 degrees at 2pm.
Weather: Clear skies with easterly winds
What worked: Black/blue jig 'n pig was fished heavily and caught one fish
What didn't: Powerbaits, Senkos, white crappie jig, fly fishing

Apr 8, 2009

The experience I'm after

It wasn’t planned and happened without notice. Now you’re finding yourself on the lake, hours into an outing. The lake is familiar and the fishing has been good, or bad - it doesn’t matter. You lost yourself focusing on the movements you know make your technique the best. Focusing on playing the wind with every cast, or the nearly imperceptible vibration telling you the blade is spinning. As you awake, the seemingly sudden sound of the distant highway surprises you but you know it’s been there all day. Traffic noise was drowned by your focus just like the world around you. Taking in what you can through the windshield, your mind shifts to mowing in the dark.

I’ve found it easy to forget the reason I started fishing, on a casual outing so many years ago. Back then it was about getting out there with a friend. It was about turning off and maybe catching a fish or two. Somewhere along the way I started focusing on the act of fishing and forgot the experience. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately and noticed for the past few outings. It started last year when a beaver caught my attention by getting a little too close and slapping a warning on his way under. How many times had that beaver swum past? I can’t tell you, but next time I will. Now I periodically find myself in the zone, time flying by just like a busy day in the office. When I see it happening, I take a break and soak it all in before zapping away two more hours. This season I’ll be looking to enjoy fishing.

Apr 5, 2009

A rare behind the scenes glance

While fishing Saturday I initially struggled with the new camera while trying to take a picture of Scott's bass. Little did I know my fumbling resulted in an opportunity for you to take a behind the scenes peak at Lunker Hunt. Upon returning home, a review of the pictures revealed this gem, sure to be a instant classic. Here is a rare chance to see how hard our fine staff works in bringing you, the reader, relevant journalist expertise.

Private waters

It's something I've been thinking about more and more lately. The likelihood of catching big fish is greater on private waters. I've been considering joining a club for a couple years now, and I recently saw something that gave me the kick I needed to do it. I'll see how this year goes before I sign up again next spring. My new club consists of a few strip pit lakes (the long skinny kind.)

Saturday Scott and I hit one of the lakes with high hopes. We spent a long time looking for bass, with a little success. No lunkers, but Scott did catch a nice one using a black/blue jig 'n pig. A little later I landed one on a minnow under a bobber. We totaled five bass, with all the bass being caught in fairly shallow water. We were unable to convince any bass to bite in deep water.

My first bass of the day was hungry. He hit my crappie minnow despite the fact he was struggling to hold onto his last meal. It looked like a blue gill, but I couldn't see well enough and a review of the photographic evidence is inconclusive.

Most of the time we bass fished, I was pulling a crappie minnow behind the boat with limited success. By the time we called it quits on the bass I had also caught two crappies and a blue gill. With the bass bite being slow we changed the game plan and focused on the crappies. They were pretty active and cruising in schools. In a couple hours we had boated twenty more crappies, including the nice ten incher Scott is showing off below.

All in all, my first time fishing this club was a pretty good. The bass bite was slow as expected for this early in the year and the crappie bite was good, as it should be. I was seeing lots of fish on the sonar, so I'm interested how this lake will fish in a month or so. Also, I was able to get a somewhat incomplete idea of the structure of this lake, and I found a few spots to check out as the weather warms.


Location: Private lake
Water Temp: 49-50 degrees
Air Temp: 34 degrees at 8am, 54 degrees at 3pm.
Weather: Partly cloudy with strong easterly winds
What worked: Minnows for crappie, 7" rubber worms for bass, and the jig 'n pig worked once
What didn't: Grubs for bass, 10" powerbait, fly fishing

Shazam number 2!

New logo! This one is a picture I took of Dave at Powerton Lake. You can see the original here.

As mentioned previously, I made a few of these and I plan to try them out until I find something I'm sure is right. Let me know how this stacks up to the last one.