Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Vid and Nothing Going On Here.

Not sure if anyone still checks this or not - I know I don't..  

In any case, everything I've done this year has been, or will be, uploaded to my YouTube channel.

Here's my latest:

Also, check out my Facebook page.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

CB's Gone YouTube.

You may have noticed, then again, you may not have..  I haven't been doing a lot with this blog lately.  It doesn't mean that I haven't been fishing, in fact, I think I've logged more fishing time this year than some past seasons combined.  But, I have been busy otherwise, too.

Having changed jobs early this past spring, I've had to focus a bit more on that than I have on writing about my excursions.

That said,I did pick up a GoPro at the sportshow this year so I've been playing with that a little bit in my spare time.  I've also posted a few videos already, so feel free to head over, check things out, and let me know what you think but keep it constructive, please.

I've also started a Facebook page so feel free to take a look at that.  There are some things that end up there that I don't post here or on G+.

In the near future I have a few entries planned for the blog here but the one I'm looking forward to the most is a write up about my first tourney that I participated in a couple weekends ago.

Until then, it's hoodie weather up here in the northland and the fish are chewing on spooks and spinners.  Stop reading this and go catch something!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Enter Kayak

I made a decision earlier this year, well, actually a few years ago - I just finally did something about it this year.  And that was to fish more and fish different lakes.  However, there is one distinct problem with that:  I normally keep my boat in my slip where I camp.  Generally, that would only leave shore fishing and/or wading, which is fun in its own right but won't necessarily help in exposing you to the different elements that you would experience fishing out of a boat.  In addition, some of the waters near my home are off-limits to gas powered motors and offer little more than canoe launches to access the water from.

I figured it was time to get a small water craft of some sort.  Did you know how many options there are for small water craft?  You would think it would be an easy choice, but...   Well.  It's not.  Not really.  You have float tubes, inflatable rafts, inflatable pontoons, canoes, and kayaks.  And probably something else that I've forgotten (or blocked).

The break down of my options went as such:

Float tubes:  I felt like I would be required to have a case of beer circa 1996 Apple River.
Problem:  I don't drink and don't really want to be 16 again.

Inflatable raft:  After my experience fishing out of my buddies raft last year...  No thanks.  I am too old to be that scrunched up.

Inflatable pontoon:  There is still that whole filling it up with air thing and if there is a slight possibility that I can put a hole in it, I'll find it.  And somehow manage to do it.

Canoe:  I'll be honest, for a while, I was leaning this way.  Ample gear storage, fair stability...  The only problem is that I was never that good at handling a canoe in Boy Scouts.  In fact, I was told that I could not solo anymore at Tomahawk..  While things change with time...  I figured that I'd keep looking and come back to this one.

Kayak:  Did you know that there are (at least) three different kinds of 'yaks available?  Most of the 'yaks that are marketed for fishing are the sit on top variety.  The problem I had with these, though, is..  Well, how do I put this delicately...  I'm a putz.  Most of these, I would fall off of just trying to get into it.  Entertaining for those around me, for sure, but not my idea of a good time.

I kept looking, resigning myself to the eventual fate of a canoe and then happened upon a Youtube video of this guy standing of a kayak/canoe hybrid trying his best to tip it.

 I waited for the spring sportshow to roll so I would have an opportunity for a better price and stopped by the Clear Waters Outfitting booth, looked at the boat they had on the floor and pulled the trigger on the Nucanoe Frontier 12.

As I alluded to earlier, stability was a huge factor for me.  The Nucanoe boats have a nice wide beam so I'm able to stand up and pitch around cover just as well as I can in my boat.  The only difference is that I'm a little closer to the waterline and once in a while my pitch is a little lower than needs be - but once you get used to it and adjust, no big deal.

I also got the 12' over the 10' model for the bonus of a little more space.  Which means that, at some point, I'll be able to do that BWCA trip I've been thinking about since I was...  10?

Here is a picture before I really started getting it rigged up.
I've made a few changes to the 'yak since this was taken and I'll post about those as time goes on.  Until then...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pool 2 - Mississippi A Guided Adventure and a New Personal Best

This adventure started out innocently enough:  I met with another local angler, Rich Lindgren, at the Northwest Sportshow this past spring and asked him about navigation on the Mississippi.  Naturally, the lake ice was beginning to get a little softer and knowing that there is a year-round catch and release season on Pool 2 and I was getting antsy to get out.

Well, information is sometimes better processed by seeing and doing rather than hearing, so I asked if he knew an area guide that I could head out with.  Not with an emphasis of finding specific spots, but to learn more about navigating on the river, at least enough to have confidence to head out on my own.  All of my personal experience thus far has been on small rivers like the Sauk and Snake - no big deal.  No barges, minimal deadheads during highwater, and certainly no wing dams!

For a little background, growing up, my family would routinely boat on both the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers - but this was twenty years ago and if you think a 12 year old is going to be paying attention to what wing dams look like then you'd better think again!

Back to the story, he recommended Josh Douglas.  I got in touch with him and we decided on a date just after the start of May, figuring that the worst of the flooding would be behind us (well, that was my idea, anyway.  haha).  When all was said and done, between prolonged high water periods, a ridiculous current, and cold water we waited to head out until just before bass opener.

This was my first guided trip so I was a bit nervous and didn't really know what to expect.

We met up at a gas station close to the launch and were on our way down river shortly after.  Prior to hitting the main channel, we quickly went over wing dams and closing dams and how to spot them in the current and using GPS mapping.  I just recently picked up my first GPS unit this past winter, so that was some good info to have.  Before that, I'd had the Navionics app on my phone which Android would sporadically have arguments with, not to mention that looking at your phone can be a little distracting while you're running - I'm sure my insurance agent would be less than thrilled to hear about that.

We talked a little bit about barge traffic and locking, which made sense since we met one while we were running to our first spot.  Incidentally, I don't remember the wake from a barge being quite that massive.  Of course, back in the day, we would be on plane and I thought catching air off of those was fun.  Fond memories.

We got off the channel and hit our first spot, an area where pre-spawn smallies would be setting up.  Josh asked if I was comfortable dragging a beaver, and up until then my experience had been pitching this texas rigged bait to docks and veggies in the summer (and any other time I was in/on open water).  He gave me a quick run down of what to expect as far as feeling and how to make sure the bait was still on the bottom.  All good stuff.  We started down the bank to a nice looking area, overhanging bushes with a rocky bank.  I was using a G. Loomis/Shimano combo he had set up, which is a sweet little combo.  Good sensitivity as I felt every time the bait would come over a rock. 

It didn't take long to find some takers.  The first fish was a nice 3.48lber, which was a new personal best for me!  

3.48 Smallie - Personal best
We caught a few more in the area before having to move.

Our next spot was an isolated shell bed and getting to it was a chore to say the least.  I always thought the pictures of bass boats shooting massive rooster tails in shallow water was more for show than anything else, but, nope.  It's not!  Once we managed to get to the bed, the fish were less than cooperative so we moved on pretty quickly.

Our next stop was another rock covered bank, similar to the first spot we had fished.  And this...  This turned out to be an exercise in patience.  I landed a couple in quick order and toward the end of rip rap there was a fish that was very adept at picking up the bait and moving it away in about the same amount of time that it took me to reel down and swing.  Including one instance when I swung and cracked Josh upside the head with the rod.  Oops...  (Sorry about that, dude..)

Locked in and not about to quit until that brownie gets stuck.
I also found out how quickly time really goes when you set up to catch one fish, as I have a tendency to be stubborn at times and this was no exception - I was going to stick that buck.  As it turned out, it wasn't to be as we just plain old ran out of time.
One of the dudes at our last spot.
At the end of the day, I had learned a ton about the river and I had learned a new technique that I was able to put to use up on the Snake the following week. 

I call that a winner in my book!

If you're interested in getting together with Josh, here is a link to his; Website and Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bass Opener 2014. ...finally.

Wow.  My first post for the year.

I'm blaming the cold for that. 

Lots going on so far this year.  Early this spring, I made a career change that will enable me to pursue my long-term (non-fishing-yet-slyly-related-to-fishing) goals more realistically, depending on your perspective, of course.  Transitioning from working in a very social production environment to an autonomous home office has been daunting, even for an introvert like me, but the dog is happy that I'm here and not somewhere else for ten hours a day.

Excuses out of the way.  I have been able to get out a few times since the ice went out.  I bought a kayak this spring, which will let me get into some lakes that I can't launch the boat at due either to motor restrictions or having a "low maintenance launch."

For Bass Opener this year, my friend Ian and I decided to revisit the same lake that I nabbed my personal best largemouth in last year.  I have to say, at first it was tough.  The wind was gusting out of the south which wasn't too bad because our first spot was on the north end of the lake.  Ian got there a little while after I did and I had only boated one small fish by then directly across from the launch on the east side of the lake.  Once he got caught up we worked our way to the north end and found some fairly consistent action around old lilly pad roots, but the size wasn't what I was looking for.  We had come looking for a big Momma not her rambunctious nephew.

Ian ended up calling it a day early and the fish had stopped cooperating so I paddled to the south end of the lake where things are a little more isolated.  And about 200 yards after I passed the launch, the wind picked up a little more and I started rethinking my move.  I pushed through and made it to the other side of an island of reeds.  The compelling thing about this spot is that the water was 3-4 degrees warmer than the other side of the lake and there were isolated clumps throughout the bay along with pockets of reeds along the shoreline.

If for no other reason than the visual and all the possibility, I was in heaven.

I dropped anchor within casting distance of three separate clumps and started firing away with my usual swim jig.  I didn't have to wait long before connecting with a little chunk.  I caught three more on that same chunk of reeds until they got wise to my ruse, but I had the start to a pattern.

The next area I moved to was a pocket in which I found a single, very small runt mixed in with a bunch of spooky panfish.  I moved again into the next pocket and made a cast, got hit, but failed to hook up.  I anchored again in the middle of the pocket which gave me the ability to fish the entire area.  I started pitching into the little notches and turns and was immediately rewarded with this chunk that went 3lbs 14oz on the scale.

I caught a couple more 2lbers with the same bait before the wind started blowing me around too much to hold position.  But it was fun picking the area apart and really keying on where they were hanging out.  That is part of a technique that I learned on my first trip out on the Miss' in nearly 20 years - but that is a post for another time.

To say that this was my favorite opener to date may not be true, but it was, by far, my most productive.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Review

I can not believe that 2013 is nearly over and 2014 is less than a day away.  Where did this year go?  At the beginning of this year, I, like many of us, came up with a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish in regards to fishing.  To refresh my memory, here is the list with my results for that goal:

  • Find a better balance between family/work/fishing.  
    •  While I do my best to keep personal business off of my blog, I found myself single again toward the end of July so as a silver lining I was able to take more time to fish.  Balance achieved.
  • Identify three different bass patterns on the Pokegama chain.
    • This past summer I had a seasonal spot on Pokegama near Pine City so I was able to spend a lot of weekends trying to figure the lake out.  I didn't accomplish what I had set out to with the time I had there, having only been able to identify a dock pattern and a wood pattern.  All the milfoil that rimmed all of Pokegama made it very difficult to get around and my inexperience with punching heavy cover, or knowing where to start, kept me from making much progress there.
  • Work on getting familiar and comfortable using different presentations.  I relied on the swim jig a little too much the past couple years and I think that hindered my success a bit.  
    • I did start working on punching during a trip to Chisago and Bald Eagle in late summer and was pretty happy with the results.  I do plan on picking up a rod that is a little better suited to the style at the upcoming Northwest Sportshow.
  • Fish five new lakes during ice season.
    • During Icefishapalooza, we hit Bone Lake and Chisago.  Chisago was great, Bone lake not so much.  In prepping for Icefishapalooza my Uncle and Father-in-law scouted out Lake Jane which was disappointing to say the least.  With the early ice that we've had this year, I've been getting out the last couple of weekends and have fished a couple of small lakes with a really nice pannie population.  So this goal is complete.
  • Find some more shore fishing opportunities in the north metro that haven't been beaten to death by others (that being said, Centerville and Pelltier are out).
    • Oh man.  I dropped the ball on this one, bad.  I tried fishing this small spit of water by my place, Golden Lake..  I'm planning to get a kayak this coming season so I will try this one again next year, but I'm skeptical...
  • Get the project boat up and running again.  It may not look pretty to begin with, but for right now it only needs to float and run.
    • No progress at all - I do have some pretty drastic plans in store though.  More on that to come in the future.
Hopefully your year treated you well and the new year is even better!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Here Comes The Ice

It looks like the ice season is on us already, I know a lot of people have been getting out and popping holes and it isn't even December yet! 

I'm getting excited too, I just got the call from my local shop that my auger is ready to pick up after having the gas tank replaced. I find myself needing to take a quick pause and temper that excitement, though. The average ice thickness I've been hearing is 3" in the cities and 4-5" as you go farther north. That's just not enough for me to be comfortable with yet - thankfully I still have plenty to do before I hit the ice. Northstar Angler posted a few weeks ago about hard water prep, and the article can serve as a nice checklist for making sure that you are prepped and ready to go once the ice is at a thickness that's right for you.

As long as we're on the topic of ice thickness, there has been a chart floating around for a while that shows how much ice forms at different average air temperatures.  Remember, though, it is a rough guide - so take it with a grain of salt.  Some folks need to be told, there are all sorts of factors that affect ice development; water current, snow cover, springs, sand and rock bars, and, of course, air temperature.  Here is the chart:

The Minnesota DNR also has a lot of good ice safety information, so while you're chaffing in your seat, give it a quick read.  Who knows, you may pick up a new tip that could save your life - or another person's. 

Of course, in the meantime, you can always find one of those rare MN hot pond gems and get your smallie on!