Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Christmas Present to Myself

So this years trout opener I decided that it was high time I upgrade my mode of transportation from float tube to kayak.  Don't get me wrong I love fishing from a float tube and have no thoughts of getting rid of the one I have right now.  However I like the added mobility and comfort that a kayak will give me especially in those cooler early season times. 
So what I decided to do was save my pennies and grab me a yak for next season.  With the decision to get one came the decision of what to get.  So I started reading every article about kayak fishing I could find and watching every youtube video available.  So after absorbing every bit of kayak fishing information available by osmosis I realized what things would be important factors in making my decision. 

1. Reliability was the number one thing I was looking for when checking out kayaks. From what I saw when reading reviews was that most kayaks were pretty good as far as the construction of the products.  Even the complaints on every kayak I looked at were things that were pretty easy to write off as random unfortunate occurrences in which kayaks leaked or were damaged. Not only that but a lot of the negative reviews I saw were more a matter of personal preference than manufacturers defect. So with that I saw that for the most part reliability shouldn't be much of an issue if I take care of whatever kayak I get, not only that but there is always a chance for some random manufacturers defect.  So no need to stress over what could randomly happen no matter what yak you get.  I know you get what you pay for but I also know that no man made product is without imperfections.

2. Sit on top or sit inside.  Well it didn't take too long for me to figure out I wanted a sit on top kayak. As when I started trying a few out I realized very quick that to me sit inside kayaks feel very confined which I don't care for all that much.  Also I had to consider that while I've kayaked before it isn't exactly something I do regularly so there is a high likelihood that I'll be going for a swim at least once in this thing.  With that in mind I know from summer camp experience that sit inside kayaks swamp if flipped (that's not to say that sit on top style yaks don't swamp cause they do) and can be a bit of a pain to flip back over and bail out if you take an unintended dip into the water. So sit on top it would be for me cause if I'm gonna be fishing from this thing from any large amount of time I want to be as comfortable as possible.  And when I do take a dip I want to be able to get back on the kayak as easily as possible.
3.  Size and weight were on my list of considerations. So when I say size I mean length and width of the yak.  Length because length plays a part in overall speed of the yak as longer kayaks tend to be faster than shorter ones.  Width because the wider the kayak the more stable the yak will be as well the wider the yak the more stable it will be if I get brave and attempt to stand and fish.  However increased width creates more water resistance and slows the kayak. So when it came to length and width I was looking for a good balance.  As for weight, this was actually more important to me than length and width. Simply because there are places I plan on fishing that don't have an actual dock to put in s I'll have to carry that yak to where ever I need to get. At least until I make myself a kayak cart. Not only that but I'll be the only person loading the yak on top of my truck whenever I go and if I find loading the kayak to be a pain odds are I just won't take it and I'll opt for the float tube.
A buddy of mine kept mentioning to me carrying capacity with my yak however this really wasn't a big deal for me since I don't weigh much myself and I personally like to fish in a minimalist fashion.

4. Price was the last of my considerations.  Not because I have a lot of money to spare but because I have no problem delaying my gratification to save and get what I want.  For that matter price wasn't really a big deal however my thought process was that this will be my first kayak so let's get something I can make some mistakes with and not break the bank since I know I'll be doing modifications to it.

With all of these things in mind I ended up picking the Bass Pro Shops Ascend FS12T (2012) fishing kayak as my Christmas present to myself. The kayak pretty much met all of my conditions and didn't break the bank which was perfect for me.  Here are the specs on the yak.

Length: 12' 0"
Width: 31"
Weight: 68 lbs
Weight Capacity:
Price: $499 (I paid $350 cause it was on clearance)
Rudder: No

Padded seat
Bow dry storage hatch
Open Cockpit Storage
Molded foot braces
2 flush mount rod hoders
1 Center mounted Scotty rod holder

Friday, November 14, 2014

9lb Smallmouth Bass On Video

I came across this youtube video and had to share it. This is by far the biggest smallmouth bass I've ever seen.  This thing is a beast!  Thanks for Planooutdoors on youtube for sharing this video.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Understanding the Different Types of Fishing Reels

SpinCast Reel:  The spincasting reel is also known as a closed face reel because the spool and line are beneath the spool cover.  A simple press of the line release button and a flick of the wrist is pretty much all it takes to cast with this type of reel.  This is why spincast reel is probably the reel you started with as a kid.  I personally remember having a zebco rod and reel combo that I inevitably caught my first  of many different species of fish on.  I caught everything from sunfish to catfish on that little rod and reel combo eventually burning it out after a few white bass runs.

Which brings me to the pros and cons of the spincasting reel.
Pros: This reel is a great teaching tool for anyone learning how to fish as it is by far the easiest reel to use.  As well the fact that it's inexpensive gives you the flexibility of starting a kid out in fishing without breaking the bank on a hobby they may eventually cast aside.

Cons: Unfortunately because spincasting reels tend to be considered entry level reels they're often not made for high intensity usage.  As a result many, not all, spincasting reels are not very durable as they are made of inferior materials.  As well this type of fishing reel is often not the best at long distance casting and suffers from a low hauling power which is needed for hauling big fish out of heavy cover like lilly pads and submerged vegetation.

Spinning Reel:  Spinning reels are probably the more widely used reels due to the relative ease of use as well as there moderate expense.  Spinning reels are also known as open faced reels because the spool and majority of the moving parts are located externally rather than behind a spool cover.  This makes the spinning reel ideal for surf fishing where there is a high likelihood of the reel getting wet with either fresh or saltwater.  The "open face" makes most parts of cleaning much easier than with other reel types.

Most of my reels are spinning reels just because I'm a bit more comfortable using them and the fact that I can get a decent quality reel for a reasonable price.  In addition I like the fact that reel maintenance is relatively simple for those times when I'm being my usual clumsy self and I drop a rod into the water while wading or on my float tube.

Quick Tip: When picking spinning reels I tend to opt for reels with front drag systems rather than rear drags.  As the front drag has large washers that exert force on a flat surface which makes the front drag system smoother than the rear.  Where as the rear drag pushes against the drive shaft of the reel which has a smaller surface area.

Pros:  Overall the pros of using spinning reels are as follows.
1. You can get a decent spinning reel for a moderate price.
2.  Due to their open spool design spinning reels tend to hold more line that the other reel types.
3.  Spinning reels are relatively easy to use and are easy to learn to use.
4.  They are great for casting long distances and are very accurate with practice.
5.  Spinning reels are great reels when using light baits.
6.  Not prone to birds nest.

Cons:  The cons of spinning reels are as follows.
1.  Spinning reels are prone to line twist unlike baitcasters which are prone to birds nest.
2.  Spinning reels come in very limited gear ratios which limits your options for reel speeds.
3.  Unfortunately spinning reels are not powerhouses like their baitcasting cousins.  Because spinning reels actually wrap line on the stationary spool upon retrieval rather than the spool spinning hauling the line on like a wench, spinning reels are limited when it comes to hauling power.

Baitcasting Reel
Baitcasting reels are quickly becoming just as widely used as spinning reels.  Where in the past you mostly saw more experienced and pro anglers using baitcasting reels now there isn't a day that I'm out on my local pond harrassing the bass and there isn't at least one other person out there using a baitcaster.

This is because more and more people are recognizing the benefits of using a baitcaster.

Pros: The pros and cons of using baitcasting reels are as follows.
1.  Baitcasting reels are wenches, of the different types of reels baitcasters have the most hauling power.
2.  Baitcasters work very well with heavier baits.
3.  Baitcasting reels offer many more gear ratios (retrieval speeds) so choosing the gear ratio that's more fitting for specific baits is far easier.
4.  Baitcasting reels also have very smooth drag systems.
5.  Baitcasting reels work great with heavier lines and super lines like braid.

Cons:  The cons of using baitcasting reels are as follows.
1.   Baitcasters are the most difficult reels to use easily getting birds nest on bad cast.
2.  Because of the steep learning curve with baitcasters it takes a bit more practice to be able to make longer cast.
3.  Baitcasters are not the best choice for lighter baits.
4.  As said before baitcasters are prone to getting birds nests in the line upon casting if not thumbed correctly
5.  Prices of bait casters can easily surpass a budget friendly place for the average person who doesn't fish that often.

Overall the different types of fishing reels are then to aid in different ways.  No one reel type is better than the other however they all just have different purposes.  As well with the technological progressions being made fishing reels are all being made with lighter and stronger materials as technology improves.  So choose wisely when choosing your next fishing reel and enjoy it for all it's worth. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Product Review: Matzuo Nano Kroaker Frog

Company Description:  The Matzuo Nano Kroaker Frog is the perfect floating bait for hard to reach bass.  Fish this bait in lily pads, timber or any other heavy cover.  The cupped mouth spits a large plume of water when popped. Offered in a variety of realistic finishes for nearly all conditions.  This floating frog bait is a true trophy producer!

Features Benefits:  The Nano Kroaker Frog has a cupped mouth for better popping action as well as multi-strand legs and duel weedless black nickel Matzuo hooks. The Nano frog comes in both 2 inch (1/4 oz.)  and 3.5 inch (5/8 oz) sizes to fit your desires.  Finally the Nano Kroaker has a small disk at the base of the frogs body which weighs the rear end down for longer cast as well as keeps the rear portion of the bait below the head for a more realistic action on retrieval.

Review:  Initially I fished this bait as is out of the box with no alterations.  To say the least  I was initially very happy with the bait as on the first cast a small 12 inch bass exploded from under some lily pads and inhaled it.

Honestly this was the case pretty often however what I learned pretty quickly was that this bait suffered
from the same issues as many of the other hollow bodied frogs.  First, the legs out of the packaging are far too long as a result when a fish took it out on open water many times the fish would grab the legs and pull it under on short strikes.  This ultimately resulted in more missed fish than I would've liked.

The second problem I noticed was that they hooks are bent in too deeply which didn't really make much of a difference with smaller bass that took the bait.  However whenever I set the hook on larger bass because of the sharp bend on the hooks often I'd pull the bait out of the fishes mouth not getting a good hook set.  That's not to say that the hooks aren't sharp, in fact the hooks are very nice especially given the lower price point of the Nano Kroaker Frog.

Lastly one unique thing that happens with this frog, not sure if I want to call it a problem just yet, is that due to the weighted disc in the rear of the body this frog sinks below the surface.  While this flaw is something I'm sure the people at Matzuo didn't intend to have it actually didn't stop bass from attacking
this bait.  In fact I've caught at least ten bass that attacked this frog while it was swimming below the surface.  Overall I give this bait a 4 stars because of the lack of floating and minor tuning issues out of the package and the fact that the cupped mouth really doesn't add much popping sound to the retrieve.

Pros:  The best thing about this frog is that when fish are not really interested in eating bigger frogs the Nano Kroaker Frog draws them through the muck.  As well with the weighted disk in the rear of the bait it imparts a great life like action with the flick of a wrist.

Cons:  First the legs, like on other frogs on the market, are too long out of the package which often leads to missed fish because they grab the legs rather than the body of the bait.  As well the nickel hooks are angled too deeply over the body which has led to several lost larger bass due to inability to set the hook.  Lastly the same weighted disk which aids in casting and imparts great action, causes the bait to sink rather than float as designed. 

Price:  $3.49 - $3.99

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How to Maintain Your Baitcaster Reel "Video"

Yet again I've come across a great video on youtube that gives a tutorial on disassembling and maintaining baitcasting fishing reels.  The two videos were made by TackleJunky81

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Proud Lake Trout Fishing Opener 2014

Every year on the last Saturday of April hundreds of outdoorsmen and women flock to many streams lakes and ponds to enjoy the opening day of "catch and keep" trout season.  For me this is usually my first major fishing outing of the year to fish lower Proud Lake.  In fact you've seen pictures of the results of last year's trout opener in my review of the Quantum Optix 30 spinning reel.

However for me the last two years I've been doing things a bit differently but before I tell you my change I'll tell you what the original yearly tradition was.  For a few years prior to this one my trout opener consisted of me lining up along the base of the dam with about 50 to 100 other people waiting with baited hook and rod in hand on the midnight hour to pitch my first line in the water to catch my limit in trout.  Can you say combat fishing at it's best.  I would literally stand shoulder to shoulder with people pitching as close to the dam as possible hoping to hook a trout and when I did hoping not to tangle up in someone else's line or legs to land my fish.  While it's very affective it was also very annoying so last year my fishing partner and I decided we'd no longer deal with the troutathon and float tube down the following morning.

For the most part this was probably the best idea we had for trout fishing last year.  Cause the following morning we pretty much had our choice of places to fish.  We saw very little other traffic on the river
outside of a few kayakers and waders where ever there was a place they could gain access.  However this year I think someone passed out a memo on the benefits of kayaking in because we saw at least 12 to 15 kayakers, several aluminum boats and quite a few canoes along the river fishing.  A big shock but a good shock in my opinion because I love to see other sportsmen and women taking advantage of the opportunity to fish and enjoy the outdoors.

Every year prior to this one I've always stuck to the same bait for trout and that is berkley powerbait trout bait.  Usually, because of fishing at night, the best colors for me have been the white and pink.  However this year pink drew no bites whatsoever but the yellow and white did very well.  In addition to powerbait big fish catchers this year were corn (an old standby for many fishermen), minnow baits, and white or silver inline spinners or rooster tails.  In fact the three largest trout I saw caught this year were taken on white rooster tails and a minnow bait like the original rapala floating minnow.

Overall I did pretty well this year catching my limit of trout (both browns and rainbows) on the opening day.  However unfortunately I wasn't able to get back out and catch some more that week but I plan on making a trip in the future up north to chase wild browns and rainbows when they start feeding on mice.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Product Review: Berkley PowerBait "Trout Bait"

Company Description: Berkley PowerBait makes novice anglers good and good anglers great!  Berkley scientists have spent over 25 years perfecting an irresistible scent and flavor - the exclusive PowerBait formula.  Fish love PowerBait so much they hold on 18 times longer, giving you the time and confidence to feel more bites, set more hooks and catch more fish!   

Features and Benefits:  The Berkley trout bait comes in many color variations.  Some of which are
already pre-molded into balls and others that need to be rolled into a bait ball.  Overall it's very easy to

carry and store due to it's glass container.  As well it's very easy to use by just rolling it into a small ball around hook and casting it where ever you think trout lay in wait.

Review:  I really like this bait, in fact I use it every year when I fish opening day of trout season and proud lake.  What I've noticed is that it's  a great bait that floats so you'll have to adjust how you rig it

according to where the fish are sitting in the water column.  As for Berkley's claim that it's the best trout bait on the market I believe it is good but not that good.  As with any bait it depends on what the fish are feeding on at the moment and how much pressure the fish have been receiving from fishermen using similar baits.
How I Used:  I've been using these baits over the last few years and have used multiple colors including white, pink, a mix of both and yellow.  From what I've noticed the white and yellow colors work the
best as they are closer to the color of the pellets farmed and released trout eat in the hatchery.  As far as wild trout all three colors worked well but egg colors work best particularly around the time of the salmon run.
I personally rig this bait two ways.  One way is with an slip sinker rig using an egg sinker, barrel swivel and #8 egg hook.  Adjusting the length of the leader so the hook will float into the fishes strike zone depending on where the fish are in the water column.  (Image courtesy of fishingnoob)
The other way I use this bait for when I'm fishing in deeper stocked ponds or lakes.  I use a kentucky rig where you tie a small bell sinker to the bottom of the main line with a snelled hook attached up the main line according to where the fish are suspended in the water column.  

Pros:  This bait really catches trout especially stocked trout.  It's easy to use and store also it floats which makes it easy to present to waiting trout. 

Cons: It can be messy smelly on your clothes and hands.  But guess what?  If you're fishing there is a fair chance you're not gonna be clean for long anyway. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Easter Fishing Ice Breaker

So this past Easter Sunday I decided, since I had the day off, to get out and jump start my spring bass fishing.  So as of the Thursday prior to Easter Sunday I was checking the weather to see if it would be nice enough to get out on the water and chase a few fish.  To my pleasant surprise the weather man said the temps would be in the high sixties this Easter and since I stay in Michigan I decided this is a huge blessing as it's not uncommon to get a spring snow fall or bout of very cold rain. 
    So with the excitement of being able to sneak out finally I set my alarm for a late 9am start, late for fishing but why not have a lazy day off.  My late start didn't exactly happen as a I'd preferred as my body is wired for not sleeping past 7am and apparently my cat Phil decided 7am was a perfect time to break out the early morning easter love, as seen in the picture above.  Whoever said cats aren't very affectionate haven't met "Mr. Lover Man" Phil.  So a few Sunday morning cartoons and a lot of kitty love later I was off to my usual haunt of Newburgh Lake to chase whatever fish I could.
   To my surprise when I arrived at the lake at about 10:30 there weren't that many people walking the shore or out on kayaks fishing, just a few of us chasing early season largemouth bass.  A couple of guys using large spinnerbaits, one gentleman throwing a rattle trap, another young man using a jerk bait quite successfully and his buddy who was switching up quite a bit from bait to bait.
    As for myself I decided since the water was still cold I'd start out with black and yellow beetle spin which was very successful for me to start.  In fact I caught about 5 smaller bass, all between 12 and 15 inches in length.  With the beetle spin I found that the bass were actually striking it pretty aggressively despite the cold water, but only when the beetle spin was being slowly and deeply retrieved.  So on every cast when the bait hit the water I'd count to seven to allow the bait to drop down just deep enough to be retrieved above the recently emerging grass then slow rolling it back resulting in frequent strikes.                                                                         After a while and a quick circuit of the point I was fishing I decided to switch back to an old standby of mine, an inline spinner I tie that has a brown wooly bugger as the tail end which I can only describe as a wooly spinner.  (I'll post a picture and how to blog later)  This made the difference for me this day, because even though this bait isn't much larger than the beetle spin it could be retrieved at a slower rate as well it's undulating wooly bugger tail and gold spinner really gave the bait a more lifelike profile in the cold clear water this day.  So while I caught 5 smaller bass on the beetle spin my little wooly spinner drew in another 7 bass 3 of which were over 17 inches. 
With the wooly spinner catching the fish that it did, the hackle and marabou of the bait started to get a bit funky looking so I switched out for a 6 inch black Zoom Super Fluke with green glitter around the head.  Unfortunately this bait didn't do as well as the other two baits but it did draw in 3 other fish which was cool cause by this point I was making my way back to the car anyway.  However the great thing about the breaking out the fluke is that there is a flat that is normally filled with lily pads during the summer that was pretty barren at this time except for a small patch of lilies about 50 yards out from the shore that I could reach with either of the other two baits I'd fished with earlier.  So I decided to give the heavier fluke a cast to see if I could get out just beyond that small stand of lily pads.  Well much to my happiness one cast dropped my fluke just on the other side of the middle of the pads.  With a quick pop of the rod tip the fluke jerked and hung up on a pad and with two more light jerks to simulate a stuck bait fish all I was was  sudden splash of water and the lily pads sway.  I set the hook and a few minutes of fighting later I landed one of my bigger fish of the day on the Zoom Super Fluke from the one location that everyone who I had talked to earlier handed had so much as a nibble.  (Sorry about the blurry image as my phone's camera lens has a a few scratches on it.)  Overall I had a great Easter Sunday thanks to an over affectionate kitty and quite a few bass willing to chase my baits.  :)

Thanks for reading,
Kwan & Phil

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Matching the Hatch: Elk Hair Caddis

For years fly fishermen and women have had one motto or truism when it comes to picking which fly to use next and that is "Match The Hatch".  In other words match your fly to what the trout are eating.  I've been thinking of this fact and wondering what I can do to make this statement come to life.  So I decided to make a Match the Hatch series of blog posts, possibly once a month, highlighting different baits, not just flies, and matching them to the bait species they imitate.  This way we can learn both how to fish said baits matching them to their real counter parts.

So with that in mind here is the first "Match the Hatch" post.  I first heard about caddis flies in particular the winter caddis when I lived in Connecticut and decided to learn how to fly fish.  The first question I asked that winter after learning how to casts a fly rod was which baits should I learn to tie first.  Well, the person working at Orvis, also a fly fishing guide, said I should start with the elk hair caddis fly but make sure I tied it in the winter caddis colors as that is what they were currently catching trout on the Farmington River with.  Which to me made no sense whatsoever because it was very much into the winter and from what I understood no bugs would be hatching or flying about in the winter.  Well I was wrong, caddis flies do hatch in colder months.  So a quick grab of the materials and I was off tying some not very artistic looking elk hairs with the hopes of catching a fish or two that winter. 

Needless to say I didn't get lucky enough to catch a trout on those flies that winter.  However what I did learn was that just about every fish in streams, ponds and lakes will gorge themselves on caddis flies during an evening hatch.  As that following spring I got lucky and experienced a hatch while casting wooly buggers for trout in a local lake.  So with a quick switch of baits I was landing way too many bluegill a couple of small bass and yes my first trout on an elk hair caddis, only on the tan color not the winter caddis pattern.  From that point forward I've always kept them in my fly box whenever I'm out fishing, which this year turned out to be another forgotten treasure as I learned pretty quickly that here in Michigan when the flying ants begin to hatch the elk hair makes a great imitation for them as well.
The materials needed to tie the elk hair caddis are:
  • Sizes #12 - #18  dry fly hooks  (Mustad R50-94840)
  • Elk Hair
  • Saddle Hackle in brown, grizzly or black
  • 6/0 Tying Thread
  • Super fine copper wire for ribbing
  • Dubbing your choice of color

The overall pattern is very easy to tie so it's perfect for someone learning, as we all are.  Below are  few videos with great examples and variations on this essential fly.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Use Straws For Waterproof Camping Storage

If you've spent any time in the outdoors where you were required to pack in to a given location then you know that limiting weight, saving space and water proofing are a must. So how do you get everything you "need" into your campsite whether you're hiking or canoeing in.  This is especially true when it comes to luxuries like cooking spices and necessities like fire starting agents such as matches.
Well, one of the simple tools I use to get small items into camp safe compact and dry are basic straws.  I personally store my cooking spices, matches, Vaseline soaked cotton balls and neosporin inside sealed straws when backpacking, kayaking or canoeing into my campsites.  Note: Make sure you label your straws with a needle nose sharpie so you don't mix up things like toothpaste and neosporin.  I don't think you'll like the taste...  Overall this is a very simple tool to make so below I'll show the simple steps of how to make straws into simple storage devises.

1. Assemble the tools needed to make your storage straws. A simple lighter, needle nose pliers (or small pliers of any kind) and a pair of scissors will be needed. 
2.  Cut the straws to whatever length you'd like.  I personally cut them pretty short in order to store spices in single serve sizes for camp meals. 

3. Pinch one end of the cut straw with your small pliers and burn the exposed tag end briefly in order to get the end to seal. (You may have to pinch the tag end with your fingers to seal it completely)

4. After having one side sealed place whatever you want to keep dry inside of your mini-container. Ie. toothpaste, spices, matches or anything else you can think of that you want to keep dry.

5. Repeat step 3 sealing the opposite end of the straw thus protecting its contents from the elements.

Here is a video of the actual process just to make learning this a bit easier:

Monday, January 20, 2014

How-to Properly Fit your Kayak Fishing PFD

I saw this video on youtube and thought it was a great, simple explanation of how your Kayak Fishing PFD should fit.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Breaded Venison Straps

I was on Facebook today when I noticed that Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo from Archer’s Choice posted this recipe for breaded Moose Straps.
Breaded Moose Straps!
Italian Breadcrumbs
Garlic Powder

Mix flour, Italian breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt & pepper in a bowl.  Mix eggs and milk in another bowl.  Slice straps real thin, soak in egg & milk bowl then dip into flour & breadcrumb bowl.  Cook in frying pan with olive oil & rough sliced onions.


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