Apr 28, 2011

The Funniest Video You Will See Today

Hat tip to Yukon for finding this....I wouldn't be a good Peorian if I didn't repost.

Fifty Bucks and You Don't Have to Get Up

Today is Thursday, tomorrow is Friday. After that comes Saturday and the end of the MNRiverdageous Lunkerdooress Scavenger Hunt.

Still Waiting on a Winner

So far the response is lighter than I expected, which means there is still a very good chance for you to win.  But you have to get off your butt and play...well, I guess you can play without getting up.

Click here to read about the contest and how you can win a $50 gift card to Cabela's. The card can be used at the store or on-line....again you can stay seated.

Apr 25, 2011

How to Rig and Fish a Senko

After a long winter of funny stuff, it has become time to offer real value to the world. Read this post to the end and you will know one of my best bass fishing secrets. Most of it anyway, some things you'll have to learn on your own. The bait is the almighty Senko - my secret is how to use it. Many seasoned bass anglers know all this, but every day someone new picks up a bass rod. Hopeful by posting this, the new anglers out there will get the bug. More bass anglers can only grow the sport and add opportunity.

Senkos have become my "go-to" bait and I draw a certain pleasure from the technical nature of their use. When a new day dawns, they always gets wet first. It is a numbers bait and will take fish of all sizes - you can plan on some sorting. Don't confuse it for a search bait though, it is most effective along with ample time for cigars, beer and casual conversation.

What is a Senko?

Many years ago I first heard the Senko name. Then I heard it again, and again. Interest piqued and I hit the web. I found a few articles here and there, those laid the groundwork for what I know now. Unfortunately, they didn't tell me where the hell to find them on a store shelf. I went and looked, then I asked for help. The kid looked at me cross-eyed and confused. So I looked some more before giving up and going home for more web work.

I was expecting to see Senko printed in bright bold letters across the bag front, instead I should have been looking for a tiny "Yamasenko" printed near the bottom. Somewhere in the world lives a marketing manager should be fired for bungling that up. For you I'll make it as simple as possible - here is a picture. Now go to the store and find it. Once you know what to look for, they'll jump right out at you.

The original version is sold by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. Today, there are many imitations on the market. The key to this bait's appeal is texture, density and shape...I have never found anything that catches fish like the original.  That is not to say there are no other worms like it, I'm just saying I prefer the the Yamamoto brand. That said, Yamamoto sells the bait under a different brand at Wal-Mart stores. The Wal-Mart version seems to be the same functionally, but the price is less because there are fewer worms per bag. Genuine Senkos cost $6-7 for a bag of ten - at Wal-mart, expect to pay $3-4 for a bag of five.

So Many Colors and Sizes!

If you find Senkos at the store, you will be faced with a huge decision. They offer a gazillion different colors in a few different sizes.  Four and five inch versions are standard, online you will find them as small as two inches and up to seven. I fish the five inchers exclusively, if the fish are interested in smaller offerings I'll dip into the bag for something else. I also have other worms if they happen to be interested in bigger stuff. For color suggestions, I'll give you a peak into my Senko box.

You'll find only dark colors, the darker the better. My experience shows the dark colors are vastly superior to lighter colors. In the past I tried lighter colors but now I don't bother. If bass do not bite a dark Senko go ahead and change to an entirely different lure. Most of my choices have a little sparkle too. My absolute favorite and most productive being black with silver flakes. A close second is black with blue flake or black/blue laminate if I can find it. Another good color is watermelon with red flakes.

How to Rig a Senko

There are a few different ways to rig a Senko. Wacky rigging is the sexiest and garners significant press time but below I will cover my favorite: the classic Texas rig.  If you already know how to Texas rig, don't skip ahead until you read the next sentence. When rigging Senkos, it is of the utmost importance to not use a weight. I will repeat with red text, capitalization and a dramatic pause for the full effect.

DO NOT......use a weight while rigging Senkos.

Got it? Good. A Senko must flutter slowly through the water column in a horizontal orientation. With weight, the bait will plummet quickly to the bottom with no action and no fish appeal. Once you see the bait's weightless action, you will understand. Don't worry about castability - weightless Senkos are heavy enough to throw a country mile with spinning reels. You can cast them effectively with bait casters too, but I recommend spinners to reach out a little farther.

Now, back to the Texas rig:

First, push the hook through the center of the fat end of the worm. Push it in about one half of an inch then bring it back out. You'll need an offset shank wide gap worm hook, for the five inch Senko I prefer a size 3/0.
Slide the worm up to the offset portion of the hook shank. It should cover the entire offset, and ideally also hide the eyelet and knot.
Hold the worm out straight next to the hook and take a mental note as to how far back the hook goes on the worm. This is critical for ensuring the worm sits straight on the hook. I pinch the worm at this point with my thumb to make sure I stab it in the right place.
Push the hook point perpendicularly through the worm at the spot you marked, make sure the worm sits straight and the point of the hook is resting close to the body. If the worm is curved or crooked, pull the hook back out and try again.
Finally and for an extra level of weed resistance, tuck the point of the hook back into the body. Just the point should be hidden. This will shorten the life of the worm but make sure there are no problems with moss and snags. Again, make sure the worm is straight.

How to Fish a Senko

Now it is time to get into the good stuff. Skills I will describe and you will need to practice before fully understanding what you read. This isn't just throwing it out there and reeling it back in.  It isn't even as simple as the bottom bouncing you're probably used to. It doesn't matter how you rig the worm, to fish a Senko properly a slack line must be used. Grab some polarized sunglasses, because you won't feel a single strike...you'll be watching the line for strikes.

A Senko is designed to flutter slowly as it falls and line tension will negatively effect action. Because you won't be in contact with the bait you will need to watch the line. Monofilament and braided line will float on top of the water and act as your bobber. Fluorocarbon line does not float, so it is my strong recommendation to avoid using it; with a slack sunken line you will not feel or see the strike. For braided line, I recommend a 2-3 foot leader of mono or fluorocarbon line.

The most basic instruction I usually give newbies is to watch for unnatural movements of the line. After you cast, most of your line will float on the water surface. As the bait slowly flutters to the bottom the line will make very predictable movements.  Once you know what natural line movement looks like, a strike is easy to see. Here I've broken down the sequence with beautiful hand drawn pictures (click to enlarge).

Click to Enlarge
After you cast to your spot, add slack into the line.  Watch the line at point A (see image) as the worm sinks slowly to the bottom - this will take awhile. As the Senko sinks, points A and B will slowly get closer together.  Once A and B meet, you're out of slack line but go ahead and let it sink all the way to the bottom. 

When the line stops moving, you know the worm has hit bottom. Let it sit there for 5-10 seconds and if nothing happens, slowly reel up the slack until you can just barely feel weight on the line. Be careful because there is probably a bass sitting there looking at the worm. Jiggle your rod tip slightly to make the worm wiggle and then let it sit on bottom for a couple more seconds. Pick up the worm, reel in some line and let it flutter to the bottom again. Rinse and repeat until you are ready to reel in and cast again.

Throughout this process you need to watch the line for unnatural movements. Most likely you see the line "jump" a couple times as the fish picks up the worm but does not swim away. Sometimes the line will move left of right as the fish moves off. If points A and B have joined the line might move away from you (instead of toward you). The hardest strike to detect is when points A and B are moving toward each other more quickly than normal. Throughout this process, you will feel nothing. If you see anything strange in the movement of the line, set the hook with authority- hook sets are free. If there is no fish on, reel in and try again.

It has been my experience eighty-five percent of strikes come on the initial fall - quite often a strike comes almost immediately after splash down. Ten percent happen after the worm first touches bottom. 4 percent happen while the worm jiggles on bottom.  Maybe one percent happens after that. I believe this may be because I've become skilled at picking fishy spots. I will often reel back in after the initial fall and cast to a new spot, not wasting time by fishing the worm all the way back. Someone not skilled at picking spots should probably fish each cast longer to increase their chances at getting into the strike zone.

Pro Tips and Advanced Topics

There are certain tricks I've learned along the way. Here are the ones I'm willing to share...
  • On windy days or choppy water you won't be able to see the floating line. With some skill and practice, you can reduce the amount of slack to almost nothing.  Doing this will let you feel a strike because the fish will remove slack for you when it strikes.
  • Senkos are not very durable: catching more than two fish per worm is a rarity. Once you've worn one out, you can stretch a dollar by rerigging the worm through the tail (the skinny end).
  • Texas rigged Senkos are very easy to skip across the water surface.  This will get you into tight spots below docks and overhanging shrubbery.
  • Just before the worm splashes down, I often pull my rod tip up and back aggressively.  This will slow down the forward velocity of the Senko for a lighter presentation.  If you do this, lowering the rod back down will introduce the slack you need.
  • If you are anal retentive, like me, you will find comfort while rigging if you only pierce the worm at the seams. This ensures the hook passes through the bait in the middle, thus reducing twist.

Have a question? Let me know with a comment or send me an e-mail. Also, I know there are many anglers who fish Senkos regularly. If you have anything to add or would like to disagree, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Apr 23, 2011

Prespawn Bassin' - You Love It or You Hate It

Fish full of eggs
In the past, this would be a serious contender for largest of the year. I'm hoping to do better.

Apr 22, 2011

100th Follower Spotlight: Utah Water Log

Picture courtesy of Utah Water Log

Today, LOAH became Lunker Hunt's 100th blogger follower. This mildstone is only mildly interesting to me because the full list of subscribers (RSS, email, facebook) surpassed 100 many moons ago.  However it's nice to see a c-note over there on the "followers" widget.

LOAH keeps Utah Water Log and only has seven followers right now. The blog is fairly new but already has a large chunk of content. The writing style is nice and the photograph is superb.  Make sure you check out the tiger trout pictures.

Apr 21, 2011

MNRiverdageous Lunkerdooress Scavenger Hunt


Four blogging powerhouses (and this crumby site) have teamed up to offer an exciting contest and I am pleased to announce it right here, right now.  If you've already started the contest, feel free to look around and contact me with your entry.  Search this blog using the search tool located at the top left of your screen in the black Blogger navigation bar. If you like what you see, please subscribe using those little icons at the top right of this page. 

If this is the first you've heard of The MNRiverdageous Lunkerdooress Scavenger Hunt, I advise you to read this in a hurry - others have started without you.

The game is simple and the reward is awesome.  Play along and you could snag a $50 gift card for Cabela's.  Maybe you'd like a silver and turquoise woof pendant?  Or perhaps a couple duck shaped wine bottle holders are more your style. I don't care, use the card for whatever you like!

It is easy to play.  Below you will find one question from each blogger (five questions total).  All you need to do is search for the answer and you can find it in the respective blog's previous posts.  Once you have all the answers, send an e-mail to any us and tell us what you found out.  We'll compile all the correct entries and the Random Number Generator will do the dirty work.  Watch for the winner to be announced on May 1st (ish).

These are four of the finest fishing blogs out there and each will bring something new to your life, I highly recommend you also subscribe. Be sure to read the official rules at the bottom of this page to learn about multiple chances to win.

The questions:

Lunker Hunt: http://lunkerhunt.blogspot.com/ - Facebook
"Which species of fish did I catch and then release without submitting for the state record it deserved."

Journal of a Minnesota Angler: http://www.journalofamnangler.com/ - Facebook - Twitter
"In which of my top adventures of 2010 did I catch my personal best largemouth bass?"

Troutrageous!: http://www.troutrageous.com/ - Facebook - Twitter
"I hate a specific day of the week. In fact I think it's the worst day of the week. What day is it?"

The River Damsel: http://theriverdamsel.blogspot.com/ - Facebook
"I took 'Idaho By Storm' with Rebecca 'The Outdooress' and Cardboard Kirk...What did we have for lunch?"

Outdooress: http://www.outdooress.com/ - Facebook - Twitter
"My first fly rod was a Redington Redstart. What was it's nickname?"

Official Rules:

  • Send all 5 answers to me, or any of the participating bloggers. See their post of this contest for their contact information.  Click here to view my contact info.
  • You must answer all 5 questions correctly, as determined by each blogger, to qualify for the drawing.
  • You are allowed to send your answers to multiple bloggers, thereby increasing your chances of winning. So if you send your answer to all 5 of us, you get 5 entries. 
  • We will put all the correct entries together, sort by date received and pick a winner using OBN's famous RNG.
  • Contest runs from today (April 21st) to 11:59:59.9pm central time on April 30th, 2011. Any entries coming after this time will not be considered.
  • Contest winner must be from U.S. or Canada. Gift card will be in U.S. funds.

Well that's about it.  Now get out there and win!

Are you a winner?

Apr 18, 2011

Happenstance and Effort

I've often said I'm not a photographer. Sure, I take a lot of pictures and occasionally they look nice, but getting a good shot is normally a product of happenstance over effort. I am more likely to be noticed for my photoshop skills but even that is amateur, boorish and not worth clicking to see. On the flip side, there are people in the world who go to great lengths for a perfect shot...like this one:

Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel and Peter Lik

I recently published Bighorn River - Montana in Pictures.  The post was not intended to be a photog's dream and I even confessed some pictures were not mine. At the time, I possessed a gazillion pictures from the trip and simply wanted to share them with the world.  Some of the pictures were note worthy, most were not. The post got some attention; the regulars posted comments, the lurkers quietly looked and Ben from The Weather Channel contacted me directly.  I know...kinda weird...The Weather Channel of all things...contacting me.  Well, they have a new show and a photography contest - you should take notice, it could affect you.

Ben wanted us to know about a new show on The Weather Channel called From the Edge.  The show follows Peter Lik as he goes to great lengths for the perfect shot. What this has to do with weather is yet to be determined, but I know Peter is a master photographer known for breathtaking panoramic landscapes.  His work is displayed in galleries around the globe and can reportedly be found in the private collections of the Queen and many US presidents. He's also Australian, which means he is tougher than you.

Next week's episode takes Peter to the Mojave Desert, and I can't wait to see what he does in Death Valley.  You can find it on Thursday April 21st, 2011 at 8pm eastern.

Now this is where things get interesting for you.  The show is sponsoring a weekly photography contest you could win!  Peter will choose a weekly winner, and all the winners will be eligible for the grand prize. The grand prize is an all expense paid trip to Vegas.  You and a friend will receive a tour of Lik's gallery, a helicopter tour and picnic at the Grand Canyon and $500 to lose at The Golden Nugget.  Sounds pretty good doesn't it? You have to enter to win: use the Facebook Application by clicking here.  This week they are looking for desert pictures.  The desert is something I don't have pictures of; with me out of the running you'll have a chance this week but don't get comfy.

Maybe next week they'll be looking for scenes from a warm stagnate mud puddle, the bucket mouth's lair.  That is something I can probably win.

Disclaimer: I was contacted by a representative of The Weather Channel and offered a copy of Peter Lik's book Spirit of America in exchange for this post.  To be honest, I haven't even watched the show but you can bet where I'll be Thursday night...on the couch watching Peter sweat in the Mojave.  Also, I'll probably accept the offer for the book but I haven't decided yet, I'm not huge on owning huge books.

Apr 9, 2011

Shorts and Flops

Today I took my kayak out for the first time of the year.  I wore my fishing shorts, sunglasses, flip flops and sunscreen...it was beautiful out.  All I hooked were sticks - a bunch of them.  I considered making a Vimeo montage of all the "hook ups" but I didn't even get good video.

In the mean time, please pretend I made this...which I didn't.

HD Ultimate Black bass fly fishing from COX on Vimeo.

Now it is time to enjoy my reward, while Spoon rocks Austin City Limits.

Apr 5, 2011

Bighorn River - Montana in Pictures

Oh, I've got so many pictures from Montana.  Where to start...where to start....

 Some scenic pictures perhaps? Lets start with the Bighorn Car Lot...

Too boring for you?  How about some with people in them?

Still here?  You must be looking for fishing pictures....

That his honestly a fraction of the number of pictures I have.  Thanks to everyone who brought cameras and Tim for compiling all the pictures.  Special thanks to Luis who has a special eye for great photography.