Monday, 31 October 2011

Stone Cold Huron Walleye

Just returned from yet another successful road trip fishing-filming shows for Season 10, which by the way is into week #5 already on WFNHD & WFN across N. America.

Got a heads up from my buddy Todd Steele who lives in Port Huron MI, that the deep water walleyes we`re stacking up in good numbers and size`s along one of his favorite locations outside the St.Clair River in Lake Huron.
We`ll, it didn`t take me long to push some other business related items to the back and get on the highway 401 west to Michigan with cameraman in tow.

Despite the early morning, sub-freezing temps and frost covering everything in sight, the rising sun made it feel a whole lot warmer than the thermo was reading when we headed to the boat ramp to start our day.
With a slight southwind at our backs, we made our way to the mouth of the river and didn`t waste any time in tying up some of todd`s favorite "pill shaped: 5/8 oz jigs with shad like plastic imitations and headed to the first drift of the day in approx. 35+ feet of H20.
As is usually the case when fishing with Todd, his first drift, first 5 minutes, produces fish #1 of the day, a nice 2+ pound walleye with the jig stuck in the upper jaw.

Took me approx 15 minutes of trial and error to get dialed into the correct cadence and mental focus to constantly drop line to keep the jig off bottom while we drifted from 30+ feet down to 70+ feet of H20. But, once I did, the morning was filled with mega bites, hits, misses and dipping the lucky strike basket net into the lake Huron water to boat yet another chunk walleye for the cameras.

It amazes me how deep these fish are, yet with the good St.Croix`s and low stretch fluorocarbon line, you could feel every soft bite and leaf-life sensation signalling a bite. I rigged up a bunch of St.Croix Legend Xtreme spinning outfits from 6' 6" to 7' medium action with Ardent S2000 & S2500 Fishouflage reels & some casting outfits ranging from 6'6" to 7" with Ardent Fishouflage reels loaded with fluorocarbon in the 12- 17 lbs class for the soft shad baits and spoons.

It was imperative to keep our baits directly vertical below the boat, which is not an easy task when your down 30-70+ feet with a 4+ mph drift, but when you get dialed into the exact feel and focus, you can feel every slight bump and bite from these walleyes.
We continued the same pattern over and again, using the gps unit to repeat exact trail paths for the small pods of active fish we found, then would move slightly deeper or further away from the rivermouth when the bite slowed down, and that helped us locate more and bigger walleye on this trip.

Todd also used a jigging spoon on every other drift which produced a huge channel cat and some of the bigger walleye of our day.
All in all, it yet another fun experience sharing the boat with Todd, releasing the bigger gals and boating a bunch of tasty walleyes that fed the family this past weekend.
Looking forward to the early spring run of walleyes and dodging ice flows come next spring on the St.Clair river.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Strike King`s "New" Dream Shot Bait

When I was in Tennessee a few weeks back attending the annual Strike King Pro Team meetings I had an opportunity to spend some time with both Kevin & Jonathan Vandam between all the media interviews and video appointments to share some fishing stories.
Its good to be me, cause out of the blue the guys gave me a handful and then some of the brand new, not yet released or announced to the public, Strike King Dream shot bait that looked out of this world!
Needless to say, I couldn`t wait to get back to Ontario to try our these little bitty baits on some of my favorite smallmouth lakes in cottage country and the great lakes.
After a few days of attending to business related matters, I took off up north to one of my fav lakes on a cold, 25 km east wind day, with both rain and drizzle with little expectations of any great fish tales.

My rod lockers we`re still packed tight with all kinds of baits and presentations, and after a little organization issues, I dug out a couple of my St.Croix Legend Xtreme drop shot rods which we`re all ready to go, except for removing the traditional shad/goby-like baits, and hooking up with some of the new strike king dream baits.
Headed to a favorite rocky point, turned on the front sonar and saw suspended fish over 27+ feet of water.
Instead of dropping down to the bottom and doing the traditional lift and shake, I lowered my baits down approx 15 feet and before I could even begin my shimmy and shake, my rod loaded up with smallie number one, a solid fish that bull dogged in the depths and made slow but powerful runs pulling drag from my Ardent S2000 spinning reel.

The next 3+ hours we`re filled with similar results, but I was waiting for the big gals to show up or bite, which in this case just didn`t happen, but the sheer numbers of solid bass that ate this new little bait had me hooked, big time!
Most of the fish had the bait down the yap and the small Daiichi drop shot hook had to be removed with long nosed pliers before releasing the fish safely.
It didn`t even matter which color I tried, they all worked!
Let me tell you this, every once in a while a bait, lure or presentation comes along that catches fish like crazy with very little effort, this new Strike King Dream shot bait is one of those baits!!
Heck, I couldn`t even keep the northerns off it!
It opened my eyes bigtime to yet another tool to use on suspended fish in nasty cold front conditions. I can only imagine what this little soft bait, that looks and feels like it is custom hand poured, will do on favourable conditions!!
Yes, it really is that good!
I do know this much, if it was designed and created with the help of the Vandam boys, its good enough for me as they told me it was instrumental on the Elite Tour this past year as well.
Keep your eyes and ears open for the announcement of this new drop shot bait from Strike King Lure Co., cause I know this is going to be one bait that sells out, very quickly!!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fantastic French Lick Resort

Just returned from some quality R & R with my better half to the historic French Lick Springs Resort in West Baden Indiana.
Back in April of this year, I filmed an episode for Extreme Angler TV fishing for slab white crappie with Rusty Collier on a nearby lake and although the water levels we`re 13+ feet above normal pool, we managed to get some real nice slabs on Road Runners and Fruity Tooty tube jigs in the thick brush and flooded timber.
Only, on this trip, it was a special long wknd away with my wife who was just dying to visit this wonderful resort and region of Indiana that was the topic of many conversations upon my return home last April.
The West Baden Hotel and French Lick Resort located one mile apart in southern Indiana epitomize the most impressively grand hotels of the early twentieth century, both very historic, magnificent and host to many famous personalities.
The West Baden Springs Hotel is the essence of grandeur, boasting a six-story dome atrium among other extraordinary achitechural elements which has been honoured as a National Historic Landmark and has been dubbed the "Eighth wonder of the world".
Additionaly on this trip, I was fortunate to experience the somewhat very special extras that are offered at the French Lick Resort that I did not have the time to experience on my first trip there, like the 27,000 sq ft world-class spa and fitness centre; enjoyed a swedish massage and got to take the reins and go thru the countryside past the Lost River on horseback with my wife which was one of the highlights of the trip, not to mention the incredible meals that will have me hitting the gym 5 days straight this week to burn off those add` calories.
I can`t say it enough, family time is numero uno in my book, and trust me when I say the wives of professional anglers like myself put up with alot during the course of a busy season, so when I can arrange quality time away with my very special girl, it has to be something that will make memories that will last a lifetime. Our time at the French Lick Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel did exactly that...and it can for you too. Check them out next time you want to make a good impression with the one special person in your life.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Tennessee Road Trip

Just returned from my most recent road trip to sunny warm Tennessee to hook up with my fellow Strike King Pro Team members at the annual writers conference.
I arrived a few days earlier and headed to Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake in Hornbeak TN to fish/film a crappie show with my buddy Billy Blakley, spider rigging Rage Tail grubs amongst the stump infested lake and had a blast "stump jumpin" and watching those slab crappie pull our slip floats under all morning long. Caught a bunch of alternate species including Long Nosed Gar, sheephead and yellow bass.
Fishing with Billy is always a blast of fun, sharing crappie tips and laughs.

Headed to Paris Landing TN on friday so I could hook up with my buddies Tim Blackley and Jackie Van Cleave, the two newest Strike King Crappie pro team members and fish/film on Kentucky lake for more white slabs while they we`re practising for the upcoming Crappie USA Classic this wknd.
Boy, do these guys know there Crappie!
It was a real eye opener on how they prepare and scout new areas for tournament crappie fishing.
Fished most of the day in water depths ranging from 10-16 feet and put some real nice fish in the boat.
Finished off the day with a good old fashioned cook out with Mr. crappie as our main guest of honour with Tim`s buddy Bob who prepared everything from white beans, hush puppies and deep fried slabs with some ice cold pops, now that was "extreme".
Had a day to prepare for the Strike King pro team conference only a few miles up the interstate from Tim`s place at Fish Tale Lodge on Kentucky lake out of Paris Landing.

Fished and filmed with the the likes of KVD, Shaw Grigsby, James Niggemeyer, Mark Menendez, Mark Rose, Hack Attack, Denny Brauer, Jonathan Vandam, Luke Estel, Mark Davis and many other regional pro team members throughout the four days of the conference.

Also had the chance to test some NEW Strike King baits and colors for next year including a new drop shot bait that is out of this world and has been used by most of the guys on the team this year with some first place results...(I`ll be using it this week on some northern smallies), I can`t wait.

I have to mention, fishing and filming with these ELITE pros is a humbling experience let me tell you. You get to a level of angling where you pretty much think you have things worked out to a certain degree and then step in the boat with these guys and watch as they put on a clinic with casting prowess and overall angling skill, its an incredible experience.

Check out this shot of myself with KVD and Shaw Grigsby having a little fun in the backround...
good times with great folks.

I have a few days to test some of my new baits on my fav lakes this wknd and get ready for another great road trip next week to an amazing location in Indiana, the French Lick Resort with my better half....truly blessed.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Brown Bass Burner

Woke up at 4....hit the road shortly afterwards...arrived at the lake ramp @ 8:00 am and was greeted by a lake that had its water level dropped by more than four feet &three foot waves rolling into the back of the boat while launching my rig. Layered the clothes big time with long johns, insulated pants, 3 shirts, jacket, beanie, neckwarmer and ready to go fishing!
Forgot to "mic up" for video/camera and had to strip down again while trying to keep my balance in 3 foot rollers and stay on the trolling motor...actually pretty funny stuff if you we`re watching from shore.

Finally got set up and headed to a rocky point with a weed flat nearby and main lake basin within site.
Started tossing crankbaits and hit 2 small fish right away, and got bumped 4 times & lost a bruiser right under the boat.
Decided to pick up the jerkbait and use a longer pause cadence to see if these fish wanted the "long pause" before they decided to eat my baits...worked on 2 smaller fish again, but stung one big fish which might have been snagged, came off before I got a chance to view it.
Switched up between the 5XD and jerkbait for 45 mins to 1 hour with mixed reviews...fished the dropping edges from 8-14 feet and saw mega "hooks" on the front sonar...p/u the drop shot and starting catching peanut sized bass...not for me...I wanted action and excitement on this day so I decided to head to some sharp dropping rock points with scattered cabbage weed patches and hit 2 good fish back to back...the first one hit like a ton of bricks....the 2nd fish, bumped my bait, then locked it up bigtime...made for good tv!

Fished that point for maybe another 20 mins or so before heading to a similar point with a shallow back bay near by with mega pads and eel grass and hit another good smallie after about 25-30 casts on the inside edge of one of the eel grass patches.

Feeling pretty good about myself, now that I got 3 good fish in about 1+ hours of casting...BUT, the weather turned nasty, higher waves, rain , sleet and dropping temps put a slight lock jaw on the smallies until the sun came back out and went back to similar points and edges and caught 5 more decent, hard striking bass that made my day despite the cold hands and bone chilling winds.

Was fishing with Strike King 1/2 ounce burner spinnerbaits in white/chart tones with dual willowleaf blades, St.Croix legend xtreme rod-6'6" medium heavy with an Ardent C400 Fishouflage reel loaded with 15 pound fluorocarbon line.
Key to making the day a success was simply a case of sticking it out and keep casting, over and over again to the same locations until I either came across a fresh fish who entered the locations or provoked one of the fish in the area to finally smack the bait instead of watching it go by time and time again.
The scraps we`re very entertaining, but with the dropping water temps, these bass we`re in no mood to jump, but gave some awesome surface rolls when they we`re hooked and bull-dogged hard right to the boat....gotta love the hard fighting smallmouth.
Was back on the highway just before dark and getting ready for the next road trip to a place a bit farther southwest this time and an opportunity to put my shorts and T`s back on when I`m pitchin` & flippin` for buckets.