Monday, April 30, 2012

The Spot Remover

When it comes to bass fishing, various techniques, baits, and styles are a dime a dozen. Many days ill find myself debating what I want to try. Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite plastic worm rigs, the spot remover. A couple years ago Sean picked up some weighted bass hooks from bass pro to try called spot removers. Upon initial use he had great success fishing for largemouth in lakes and ponds. It wasn't long before I decided that I had to get me some to try as well. I found out why Sean liked them so much, they had great action and a unique vertical standing position when on bottom.

Rigging of the spot remover is just a simple texas rig with your plastic worm of choice. My personal favorite is a black 7 inch Berkley PowerBait worm but color could vary depending on the lighting and body of water.
Spot Remover hook and 7 inch Berkley PowerBait worm
Texas rigging is very simple if you don't already know it. With the spot remover first poke the head end of the worm straight in from the top with the hook to allow for the extruding point of the weight to be easily inserted into the head of the worm. Then slide the hook through the worm at an appropriate spot such that the worm will be straight. Finally push the hook back into the worm ever so slightly to inhibit snagging and make the rig somewhat weedless. The picture below shows the rig better than words.
Texas Rigged Spot Remover
Now on to the fishing technique. Fishing the spot remover is similar to fishing many other weighted bass baits. The two main techniques I use are either dragging the bait in about 1ft increments across the bottom with 5 to 10 second pauses in between or popping it slowly off the bottom at a similar speed depending on how active I think the bass are. Popping and dragging through the weeds and snags is generally the key. Bites are usually seen by watching your line, most of the time you will see the line either twitch, tighten, or move in an abnormal direction. Simply lower your rod tip and set the hook.

The unique factor that the spot remover has is that when it hits the bottom the flat head of the weight causes your worm to stand straight up for a few seconds or sometimes longer depending on the bottom surface. This standing position presents an easy target to a hungry bass. In the picture you can see the spot remover causing the worm to stand straight up.

Spot Remover causing the worm to stand straight up
A second method that I typically use is a swimming/dragging method. Instead of moving in one foot increments along the bottom, you allow the bait to settle to the bottom and slowly retrieve the bait. With the added weight of the spot remover and the curly tail of the berkley power bait worm, the bait looks like a swimming fish, or a salamander. Depending on if your fishing from a boat or on the bank, you may have to stop and let the bait sink back to the bottom and slowly begin retrieving once again. This will ensure that your bait stays a reasonable distance from the bottom. You can also slow the retrieve down so that you literally drag the bottom of the lake. This will create a good bit of commotion and gets the attention of nearby bass.
A Largemouth that fell victim to the Spot Remover

There are dozens of way to fish the spot remover, not all of which involve worms. Swimbaits would also make a good compliment to the spot remover, and as mentioned a lizard/salamander would also work. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Palomar Knot

When fishing, breaking your line on a big fish is probably one of the worst feelings. Knowing that the reason you lost that fish could have been your fault in some way. Whether it be tying a bad knot, failing to notice a bad spot in your line, or forgetting to set your drag properly, It's important to minimize these occurrences because those big ones don't come along very often. From my experience, the most common place for your line to fail is at or near the knot, thus having a good knot is key.

The Palomar knot is said to be one of the best knots in fishing. I've always herd this so this week I wanted to do some testing to see if this was true. But first, here is a quick lesson on how to tie the Palomar knot, or at least how I taught myself to tie it.

Start by doubling about 4-6 inches of the line and feeding the created loop through the eye of the bait, hook, or swivel.

The next step is to tie a simple overhand knot with the doubled line. I like to start by wrapping the doubled line around the tip of my index finger creating a loop holding it all together with my thumb. 

Once you have created the loop around your index finger, slide it off your finger and push the line ending loop through the newly created loop.

Next start pulling the overhand knot tight but not all the way.

Now bring the bait, hook, or swivel through the line ending loop.

Finally pull both lines tight making sure that the line ending loop is pulled snug all the way to the knot.

Now on to the line breaking tests. Previously I tested the clinch knot and how various tying variables of the knot effected its strength, I also determined that it may not be the best knot for heavier line. In my testing of the Palomar knot I used the same testing technique of slowly adding weight to a bucket that I used in Clinch Knot Part 2. I tested 4 different variations of the Palomar knot, 6lb test without lubrication, 6lb test with lubrication, 20lb test without lubrication, and 20lb test with lubrication. For lubrication I just used my saliva. For each variation I broke 3 lines to form an average breaking strength.The results were as follows.

6lb no lub. 6lb w/ lub. 20lb no lub. 20lb w/ lub.
5.0lb 7.0lb 23.5lb < 20lb
5.5lb 7.25lb 27.25lb < 20lb
7.0lb 7.25lb 30.00lb 25.25lb

As you can see with the lighter 6lb test, lubrication made all the difference maxing the breaking strength out on all 3 breaks. So with lighter line a properly lubricated Palomar knot proves to be an effective knot. Even so, I still prefer the clinch knot on lighter lines as it is quicker to tie for me and if tied properly can be just as strong.

The 20lb tests were a different story. Rather than the lubrication increasing the strength of the knot, it decreased it. This was because when I applied the lubrication, the knots became difficult to pull tight and did not pull together smoothly. With the larger surface area for the saliva to stick to the line gained too much grip. Maybe I was applying too much saliva, In the future I may re-attempt this test with a lighter coat of saliva applied each time. On a good note, the Palomar knot without lubrication on the 20lb test proved to be much more effective and consistent than the clinch knot.

In conclusion, the Palomar knot does trump the clinch knot in an overall perspective. One big advantage is the fact that there are less variables on tying the knot, like the number of twists applied with the clinch knot. This makes the Palomar knot much more consistent and an excellent knot choice for fishing, especially with heavier line.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Repairing Cracked Clear Coat on Fishing Rod Eyes

This weekend was plagued with cold weather and poor fishing once again. We fished Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Thursday we drifted Rocky Fork Lake for channel cats. We drifted for 5 hours and only caught one channel cat, 25.5 inches and 6 pounds 10oz. Friday we grabbed a few minnows and fished Rocky Fork for Crappie. We fished for 5 hours near Fishermans Wharf and managed 33 crappie, a bass, and a few bluegills. Saturday we ventured out to the river in hopes that we'd get into some larger fish, but nothing had changed since last weekend. We all managed to catch a hybrid striped bass during the daylight hours to avoid the shut out, but we had no action on our catfish rods. Rylan found a little hot spot and managed a hybrid striper, a gar, and a largemouth. With such lousy fishing and extremely cold temperatures we decided to stay at home Sunday.
25.5" 6lb. 10oz Channel
We'll it didn't take long for me to get the itch Sunday. I wanted to try and fish for smallmouth at Brush Creek, but once I went outside I knew that I would have to bundle up. Air temperatures were in the low to mid 40's and the wind was blowing pretty good. Smallmouth fishing is best when your rather mobile, so I knew that my odds of having a sucessfull day were slim. So once again I had to restrain myself and find something else to do. That something else just happened to be fixing Amanda's favorite catfish rod. For quite sometime Amanda's Berkly Reflex has shown some areas of chipping clear coat around her rod eyes. Since Berkly doesn't manufacture Reflex rods anymore, I had no choice but to make the repairs and try and milk it for another year.
Berkly Reflex

Clear coat/gloss chipping around the eyes
 This winter I had ordered some clear coat, the kind people use for lure painting, to fix her rod with. However the winter was mild and the fish were biting so I never got around to it. Every trip we take to the river makes me nervous because it could very well be the Reflex's last trip, if Amanda finds a feisty blue or a decent flathead they could easily tear an eye off. As with any type of painting the first step of the process was to get rid of the chipping paint. So I grabbed a flathead screwdriver and some sandpaper and started removing the clear coat that had visible cracks in it. 
Appearance after sanding
At first it looks like you have tackled more than you can handle, or even ruined the rod. Don't worry, the gloss covers a lot up. I sanded around the areas that I knew would require the most gloss/clear coat. Some of the eyes clear coat was chipped entirely to the thread that held the eyes in place, in these instances it was crucial not to damage the thread so I sanded very lightly. 
Exposed threads
The next step was to apply clear coat to the areas I had sanded. I began by applying large amounts near the seats of the eyes and around the areas that had exposed thread. I then added a fine layer of clear coat to the rest of the black, red, and gold area.
First layer of clear coat.
I then scraped off the cracked clear coat, sanded, and glossed the rest of the eyes. I allowed it to dry and gave it a second coat. Hopefully her Berkley Reflex will last for another season or two.

 A few of the eyes that were re-glossed.

Disclaimer..... After sharing this with friends on Catfish Freaks, I quickly discovered that this method would work in the short run, but other glosses work best for this situation. Lyle from Blackhorse Custom Rods was kind enough to share a few tips with me on the proper procedures, and I am very grateful. The clear coat I used is a temporary fix, for long term results its best to use a finish epoxy. The finish epoxy is slightly more expensive, but you get three to four times the amount. Best of luck with your projects.

Monday, April 23, 2012

14' Modified V Jon Boat: Sealing Rivets

Ever since I bought my boat I have had a few leaky rivets. I thought I had the leaky rivets patched up a month ago, but we took the boat out last weekend and I noticed the rivets under the back bench seat had water around them. The boat isn't leaking bad at all, but I'm the kind of person who has to have things perfect. (Or at least as good as I can afford.) This Saturday we had rain and thunderstorms all day so I decided to patch a few more rivets on the boat. I went to Walmart and picked up a tube of Permatex Sensor Safe Blue RVT Silicone Gasket Maker. I was told to use this type of silicone to stop leaky rivets before, so I used it on the rivets that I thought were leaking in the front of the boat with success.
8 Rivets between the middle and back bench seat.
When I got home I began preparing the rivets for silicone. I started by using soap and water to clean the dirt off of the rivets and surrounding areas. I simply added dawn dish liquid to the bottom of a cup and added water. I then used a wash cloth and paper towels to clean the dirt off.

From there the next step is to sand the area to give the silicone a good surface to attach to. I personally used what I had lying around, which happened to be 100 grit sand paper, as well as a fine sanding block. There's really no need to go super fine with the sand paper, since all you really want to do is create a rough surface. I also noted a few minor dents and dings so I cleaned and sanded them as well. I then cleaned the surfaces once again with water and soap to remove the excess dirt and aluminum that was created from sanding.

At this point all that is left to do is apply the RVT Silicone to the rivets. I started by adding a nickel sized circle of silicone to each rivet and tapering them off from the center to the edges. I then added more silicone if needed to completely cover the head of the rivet and to connect the two rivet areas.

All that is left to do is smooth the surface of the silicone out as best you can with your finger, or tool. I have found that these patches work best if the edges are super thin. This helps to keep them from ripping up when you walk on them. We took the boat out Sunday and the rivets had stopped leaking. Now I just have to find a way to keep the water from the anchor and anchor ropes from getting into the boat, maybe I'll use a small bucket for that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Selling my boat

So I've decided to sell my boat. Main reason being I plan on purchasing a bigger and better boat sometime soon. It has been a good boat and has seen some nice fish, many nice Channel Cats including my personal best of 11lbs 4 ounces. I purchased the boat summer of 2010 and it was my first boat. Being my first boat and with no prior boating experience it came with many learning experiences.

The boat is a 1976 Ebbtide trihull. It's 15' and some inches, maybe 15.5'. Weight capacity is 1185lbs, max motor size is 65 hp. The previous owner stripped the inside of the boat and added a deck and three chairs. It's very stable and doesn't have any leaks. It has a working bilge pump, stern light, and red/green navigation light. Also included are three life jackets, two oars, two anchors (one mushroom style and one homemade), an Autocraft marine battery thats less than two year old, and a Lowrance Mark 5x Pro fish finder which I bought new last year (manual included). The boat has a bow mount trolling motor but its currently not working. Last trip out, which was about a month ago, it quit on me. It may be possible to fix but may need replaced. The trailer has a spare tire and working taillights.

The boat is equipped with a 2006 9.9 hp Mercury Bigfoot (9.9 ELH BF 4S to be exact). It was originally purchased in 2008 and probably has less than 10 hours of running time, we never traveled very far. The motor is in great condition, was kept inside during the winter, and runs perfect. I have the motors manual and the manufacturers statement of origin. Included with the motor is a 3 gallon tank, an Autocraft starter battery, and a motor stand.

$2400 or best offer. Here's some pictures.

Update June 2012
Sold the motor for $1500
Sold the boat minus the fish finder for $400

Monday, April 16, 2012

River Trips and Sunday Boating

Thursday and Friday night we fished the Ohio River for catfish. I fished the river for a combined total of 15.5 hours and ended up only catching a few hybrid stripers while fishing for skipjack. The only fish that was caught came as we were leaving Saturday morning, in which Amanda reeled in her last pole to find that a freshwater drum had been patiently sitting at the end of her line. This happens quite often, in fact last year Rylan's girlfriend (Stephanie) caught her personal best drum as she reeled in her last pole to leave. The drum weighed 5lbs and 13 ounces and measured 24.5 inches making it a trophy drum, Amanda's third Fish Ohio trophy on the year.
5lb 13oz 24.5 inch Freshwater Drum
With no luck at the river we had planned to rebound with a smallmouth trip Saturday evening. However the weather had other plans. It ended up raining most of Saturday, and not the fish-able kind of rain either. The day was plagued with periods of high wind, intense lighting, and heavy rain. So, we decided to sit Saturday out and fish Sunday.

Sunday I took Amanda and my little brother (Jake) out on the boat. Jake had never been on a boat before, so I figured that I'd take him out. At this point its important to note that Jake's swimming ability is less than average, and I was told not to let him get in the water. We decided to head to Rocky Fork with the creek chubs I had left over from the previous river trips. We loaded the boat up and set off to Rocky Fork Lake around 9am. We got on the water and were quite surprised at the low numbers of boats out, that should have been my first hint. We put in at Fisherman's Wharf and trolled over to the nearest cove. We started tossing tube baits and grubs for crappie. It didn't take long to find the crappie. We trolled along for a bit and then decided to head down the lake a bit. At this point the wind had picked up a little, the weather channel had the wind at 12 miles per hour. We got to our next spot and we anchored up. We tossed a few live creek chubs out on floats and continued probing structure with tube baits and grubs. After about an hour we decided to head even further down the lake. I told them that Rylan and I had found a good crappie spot near south beach so I decided to take them there. So heading with the wind and waves we managed our way down the lake.  We trolled our way into the south beach cove and anchored up exactly were Rylan and I had caught crappie the week before. Jake was in the hot seat, I knew this ahead of time because Rylan sat in the front seat and had found the hot bite near the deeper water before. Sure enough Jake managed to catch a few crappie, Amanda on the other hand managed to snag every cast. After the fourth or fifth time of retying a jig she decided to quit fishing. 

About an hour into fishing this spot we started talking about moving to a different spot when my phone went off. It was an alert from the weather channel that stated that we were under a wind advisory until 6pm. I checked the weather once more and discovered that we were now experiencing winds of up to 28 miles per hour. I take a look out of the cove at the main lake to see that the water now looked like what you see on The Discovery Channels Deadliest Catch. Okay, not really but I could see at this point that the waves were making white caps. So in a 14' jon boat I had to make a decision. I had only been in serious waves once with this boat. Rylan and I were out at North shore and decided to test the motor out, we got out about 100 yards riding the waves and turned back against the waves. At this point water from the waves was being thrown into the boat as we slammed down after each wave. Rylan's facial expression was enough to make me realize that we weren't going to fish the main lake that day.

So at this point I have in the back of my head all of the stories of people swamping/sinking jon boats from waves over taking the boat....and I don't wanna lose all of my stuff, oh yeah and Jake cant swim. I begin to weigh my options, 1. we could wait until 8pm when the wind dies down and try to make it back, 2. we could try to follow the bank and stay in shallow water until we got back, or 3. we could call someone to pick one of us up at South beach so we can drive over to the Wharf and bring the car to South Beach. After some debate I decided to head out and see how bad the waves were. Once we got out there I decided to turn on the motor and give it a shot. We get out there and I tell Jake to sit with Amanda on the middle bench seat, this would help take the weight off of the nose of the boat and allow the boat to go up and over waves rather than through them. So with my plan in place we start to head back to the Wharf against the waves. At this point the waves are making 1.5-2 feet swells and breaking over. The boat would go up over the wave and crash into the next wave, throwing water into the boat. At first Jake and Amanda put there heads down, maybe even said a prayer or two,  and avoided the water. After a few minutes of hitting waves I realized that we were going make it with no problems. Within 2 minutes Amanda and Jake were like two little kids on a water ride at Kings Island. They were throwing water at each other and laughing. All the while those bass guys with 30 thousand dollar boats turn and look at us like were crazy.

We got back to the Wharf and I turned the trolling motor on, only to realize that I had left it down while motoring back. The motor prop must have tore the trolling motor prop off because the trolling motor prop and nut were now missing. So I turned the motor back on and we found a spot and anchored up out of the wind.  We fished for an hour and then moved again, sometimes using the wind and oars to move us down the bank. Eventually the wind died down and we caught a few more fish. Jake managed a half dozen crappie with the largest being 11" and 11oz.

I managed 8 crappie two over a half pound, several gills, and a nice little bonus carp on the tube bait. The 3 pound 10 oz carp put up quite the battle on the ultra light spooled with 4lb test. It's my first carp ever on an artificial lure.

All in all it was a decent day, with the exception of a broken prop. We built our morale up with panfish and were now ready to give the catfish another go this weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fish Tagging

For the past several years I have been trying various pond management strategies on my pond. Today I'd like to talk about an experiment I am trying this year, tagging my Largemouth Bass. Ever since I started trying to manage the pond, mostly to increase growth rates of the largemouth, I have always wanted to tag the bass. With the use of tagging I could monitor growth rates and catch rates to help me determine where my pond stands. Recently I found some tagging equipment that I decided to give a shot, but first I'll give some of the basic information about my pond and talk about some of the other things I've done to it over the years.

The pond is around two thirds of an acre by my best estimates. It sits at the edge of a forest but contains minimal amounts of structure (fallen trees, vegetation, etc.). The bottom is a layer of leafs and the depth maxes out at about 12ft. It has existed since before I was born (23+ years) and most likely has been there for a long time and I assume it is natural. It's fed by a small creek that flows in from the woods when it rains. As far as the fish go, it contains good populations of Largemouth Bass and Bluegill Sunfish and a few stocked Channel Catfish that are now quite large.

Many years ago the pond held some decent size largemouth, today that doesn't seem to be the case. Last year I recorded the length of every largemouth caught. A total of 72 largemouth were caught with an average length of 10.67 inches with the biggest fish being 16.25 inches and weighing 2lbs even. Of the 72 I personally caught 47 and I logged 39.75 hours at the pond putting the catch rate at 1.18 largemouth per hour, nothing amazing but I do fish it during all months of the year.  A few years ago I also did some bluegill surveying and found the average to be around 6.5 inches with the biggest fish around 8.5 - 8.75 inches. By these numbers one would say that the pond is somewhat balanced but balanced is not what I'm looking for. My goal is for the pond to produce trophy size largemouth and it hasn't for many years. It is believed that due to a trespasser taking large amounts of fish from the pond, the once trophy largemouth fishery was upset. This has caused the largemouth and maybe the bluegill to become over populated thus stunting the growth. I have considered trying to thin out the largemouth for a while now, I've just never committed to doing it as I enjoy catch and release fishing but this could be the year where I finally try it. Selective harvest is probably the best option for managing a pond. ODNR has an entire pond management handbook on their website containing details of various selective harvest strategies which can be here
My biggest problem may very well be my lack of harvest in recent years.

In 2006 I decided to stock the pond with some new species. I purchased 25 3-4 inch Hybrid Striped Bass, 25 9-12 inch Channel Catfish, and 10lbs of fathead minnows. The stocking went well, and we immediately started catching the baby channel on blood bait. The last time we caught one of the channels was in 2010 as we rarely target them and it weighed around 6lbs. Some may be approaching 9lbs this year but its hard to say. They may have reached the maximum size that they can achieve within the current state of the pond. To this day we have never caught any Hybrid Stripers. My best bet is that they all got eaten. If one did survive it would be pretty massive, although I don't think any have survived and also evaded being caught.

A couple years ago I decided I would add some structure to the pond since it was lacking in that department. The idea was that if the largemouth have more places to hide and stalk fish, they will exert less energy feeding and in turn grow faster. Not only that but catch rates would approve as the fish congregate in and around the structure. The primary source used for this structure was tree branches, nothing specific, just whatever we found laying around. We started by just throwing some in at select locations. This may have not been the best of methods as fresh wood floats. In hindsight we should have tied a bunch of branches to a rock or cinder block. Regardless, after the limbs got older they eventually sank forming some submerged snags. We also cut down an entire dead tree that fell in the pond forming the biggest snag in the pond. These new snags have produced many largemouth but its hard to say if the overall catch rates have improved.

Snag created from entire downed tree
Years ago the pond contained cattails but muskrats wiped them all out and today there are none. Cattails also provide structure for fish and this could also be a contributing factor as to why the largemouth growth has been somewhat stunted. To counter this I attempted to return cattails to the pond. I gathered some seeds from another location and released them into the pond but didn't have any luck and none grew. I may re-attempt this effort in the future.

Finally, on to the tagging. There are various types of fish tags. I chose one called a self-piercing clamp tag. This tag is a small non-corrosive metal clamp that you can attach to the fishes operculum (gill cover). One might describe it as piercing a fishes ear. I chose this type for many reasons. The main reason was that I felt they were small and would effect the fish minimally. I bought 100 tags, along with a tool to apply them from Jones Fish Hatcheries. I had done business with Jones before as they were who I bought the fish for my 2006 stocking from. Information on the tagging supplies on their website is rather limited and the price was kind of high for what you get but I went with them anyway. Upon receiving my tags and applicator tool I discovered that there were no instructions so I had to figure things out on my own. Below is a picture of a tag properly placed in the tool.

Tag placed properly in the applicator tool
With tagging supplies In hand I headed to pond to tag my first largemouth. Tagging went well, it was as simple as taking a couple measurements (length and girth), holding the fish in the swimming position, and finally clamping the tag on using the applicator tool. Below picture of my tagging station and a video of the process
Tagging supplies, including tags, tape measure, pen, paper, and applicator tool

So far I've tagged a total of 11 largemouth and haven't caught any of the tagged ones. Sometime later this year I will post an update of my progress.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This weekend and Smallmouth trips

This weekend was pretty much a typical weekend for us. Amanda and I fished for carp Friday while Rylan was at work. Once again Amanda caught a nice carp and I managed to trick a few panfish into eating tube baits in order to avoid a shut out. Saturday, Rylan and I took his boat out to Rocky Fork Lake for some crappie and bass fishing. The lake was extremely crowded, with boats lining the shoreline in 20 yard increments. We trolled around tossing crankbaits, jigs, and tube baits until the boaters cleared out. We found a few crappie, largemouth, and gills on some structure in about 13 feet of water. At about 7pm we drove over to a shallow cove and found a decent crappie bite. We managed about a dozen crappie, and lost probably a dozen, in about an hour. These fish were super shallow, coming out of less than 3 feet of water. At the end of the day we caught 21 crappie, 6 largemouth and 20 some gills and kept 12 crappie and 15 or so gills. We rarely keep fish, but Rylan had a strong craving for panfish so we kept a few for the table this time around. We got home around 10:30pm, put the boat up, and cleaned fish until midnight. Since we rarely keep fish, we are somewhat beginners at cleaning fish. The air temperature was in the mid 40's so that only magnified our poor ability to fillet fish. Needless to say we managed and soon Rylan will have a feast of gills, crappie, and morels.

For the last couple weeks Rylan has been fishing here and there after work. He fishes Rocky Fork Lake once in a while, his pond, and Brush Creek every now and then. On March 29 Rylan went down to Brush Creek to do some smallmouth fishing and managed a new personal best smallmouth at 1 pound 11 ounces. We typically don't fish for smallmouth as much as other species so our standards aren't as high as others, but a personal best is noteworthy none the less. He said he tossed everything at them including, in-line spinner baits, chigger-craws, grubs, crankbaits, etc. It wasn't until he switched to a top water Rebel Popper that he started to catch fish. He has since went back a few times and fished for smallmouth, but he has yet to bump his personal best again. He did manage to hook a few tree-fish with some poppers and has lost some of his drive to exceed the 2 pound mark. With a full season ahead of him, I think he'll manage to exceed the two pound mark soon enough.
1lb 11oz 15 inch Smallmouth
Easter evening we went out to look for mushrooms, but with all the cold weather and lack of rain they weren't up yet. So we ended the mushroom hunting trip early and Amanda, my little brother, and I went out to spend a couple hours smallmouth fishing. We grabbed our poles and a few drinks and made the 10 minute journey to the creek. The fishing started slow with only one lost fish coming in the first hour. Soon after though we all switched baits and started probing the currents once again. Amanda was throwing a huge top-water frog bait.  I told her that when she put it on that she wouldn't catch anything, I believe my exact words were, "That's not going to work, its too big." And as the past has shown, once someone doubts someone else's lure choice, sure enough it produces fish. Amanda managed to lose several fish at the bank and land a little smallmouth on her new favorite lure.
1lb 10oz Smallmouth
I managed one smallmouth on a white in-line spinnerbait, the smallmouth weighed 1 pound and 10 ounces just an ounce short of Rylan's fish a week earlier. This fish came off of my second cast with the spinner bait. Since my little brother hadn't caught a fish yet, I offered to let him use my rod while I took a weight, measurement, and a picture of the fish. As you can see from the picture, it didn't take him long to start casting away. He managed a couple smallmouth on it as well. All in all it was a pretty good day for a short, unplanned two hour trip.

Smallmouth fishing is by far one of the most relaxing methods of fishing we do. It is stress free, requiring less tackle, less preparation, is usually less competitive, and is one of the best ways to enjoy nature. To paraphrase Tom Cross, an avid outdoorsman and writer: Sometimes when smallmouth fishing in Southern Ohio you don't catch fish, but on those days when the fish aren't biting you can sit back and enjoy the surroundings and environment that the streams of Southern Ohio have to offer. Fish or no fish its hard to beat walking and or wading for smallmouth.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bob the Bullhead episode 2

Here's the second episode of my Bob the Bullhead series. This time around we see how Bob reacts to the most classic fishing bait around, nightcrawler. Its important to note that Bob is very hesitant to come out from under his rock when the light is on, even for some of the most tasty meals.

Monday, April 2, 2012

3-30-2012, 3-31-2012

With the weather for the weekend looking pretty rainy, Amanda and I decided to fish the Ohio River Thursday night and Friday morning. The weather channel was calling for 10% chance of rain until Friday at noon. So with the odds in our favor we had planned the night trip. We started by heading up to Rocky Fork Lake to throw net some shad at about 6:30pm. I began at Fisherman's Wharf and tossed the net all the way down the bank starting at the shallow end and working my way deeper. I ended up catching one ten inch shad and several 3-5 inch shad. At this point it was about 8:00pm and we decided to head over to North Shore to see if the shad were in there, just so happens that they were not. However I did end up catching a pretty nice sucker for bait, which was much needed. Other than that I managed to catch and release several 12" crappie, a couple pound largemouth, and even a couple saugeye. So with a bucket containing 1 large shad, 12 baby shad, and a 16" sucker  we set out to the river.

We went back to the house, put the bait on ice, and I set up our rods for the river. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and loaded the car. On the way to the river we stopped by walmart and grabbed some shrimp for bait, Ale-8-1s, redbull, and some water for the trip. The red bull was much needed, since we had both been running on less than 6 hours of sleep from the night before. From there our next stop was the river.....or so I thought. As I was heading through Manchester on 52, I noticed a car that I had passed was pulling a U turn. I quickly let off the gas thinking that I may have been speeding, but I clearly had not. After about 2 miles of the car riding my bumper, he finally flips his lights on. I pull over and get out my license and proof of insurance. He walks up to the car and states that I had been swerving, which Amanda informs me is how I drive, and checks to see if I had been drinking, We tell him we were headed down to the river to do some fishing, its important to note here that its now a little after midnight, its beginning to sprinkle, and a storm that's passing by south of us is putting on quite the light show. He looks back toward his cruiser, trying not to show his smile, and says, "Doing a little late night fishing eh?" He then hands me my license and proof of insurance back and tells us to have a good night. 

We arrived at the river and began loading up our stuff for the long walk down the bank. Less than a minute into the walk it begins to rain, and not just sprinkle, but a down pour. We quickly take shelter under some Honeysuckle, which make great rain shelters despite the tremendous impact its having on native understory plants. I look over at Amanda to see her facial expression, and she quickly states, "10 percent chance huh?" I look up and I tell her it will be over soon and that I can still see the moon. Sure enough as quick as the shower came, it was gone. We got down to the water, broke out the omni glow clip on light sticks and baited up. Amanda took the large shad head, and a creek chub I had frozen from the previous week. I tossed out a shad chunk and a piece of sucker. I then told Amanda that I was going to throw net for some shad to see if we could get more bait. I told her not to fall asleep until I got back. Within a few minutes I had caught a quillback, I look over to tell Amanda the good news and I see her standing at her rod. She picks it up and begins to reel. I yell out, "What are you doing? You just put that out." She replies, "I got one." So I head over to investigate and I grab the net. Sure enough, to the surface came a fairly decent sized fish.

The blue cat measured 39 inches and weighed 23lbs and 13oz. A fish Ohio blue cat by 4 inches. As we start taking pictures I notice her second rod tip is bouncing. I look over my shoulder to see that my rod had just loaded. We take a couple quick pics and released the fish. At this point Amanda's other rod is still getting hit. She reels it in and catches a 2lb channel. I quickly take it off and release it. I then head over to my pole which looks to be loaded. I pick it up and start reeling, only to find the fish had taken me into a snag. This was to be the story of my entire weekend, disappointment, letdowns, aggravations, etc. as you will quickly learn. We quickly baited back and retied rigs, Amanda insisted on putting the used shad head back on that she had caught her first blue on, so I let her. Hours went by and Amanda fell asleep, I managed to catch a baby blue, a gar, three 4lb channels and a 6lb 10oz channel.....which wasn't near a fish Ohio trophy. The fish would have been lucky to go 24 inches, but boy was it fat.

The entire night was plagued by brief light showers, the ones that just irritate you enough to put up your hood. While I was having fun with the dinker bite, Amanda's rod goes down again so I quickly wake her up. Once again this fish looks to be larger than my 6lb channel. After a couple good runs and some decent swirls we bring it to the bank. The blue went 37lbs 1oz, and measured 43 inches, her second Fish Ohio blue of the night.
After that things seemed to die down. I patiently waited for morning to come. An hour before daylight I re-baited and tossed back out. However on one of my casts I had a line pawl go out, which is the pin that controls the level-wind mechanism on baitcasting reels. So down one to one rod I take it as a sign to start throwing lures for hybrid striped bass. An hour after daylight I managed a small 2lb hybrid striper. At this point I was tired and I started thinking about making the trip back home. We packed up and called it a trip at 8:20am.

Friday evening we woke up and decided to go head out to a few mushroom patches. We only ended up finding a couple dozen in three hours. Amanda managed to find the first yellows of the year. It won't be long until the shrooms are in full swing.

Saturday morning Rylan, Amanda, and Myself set out to do a little carp fishing. Rylan and I had talked about hitting a lake that had a high population of 9+ inch bluegill, so we could get that fish Ohio out of the way. We get out to the lake and begin to bait an area with sweet corn. We quickly toss out half a can of corn in a 20 foot by 10 foot area. I baited Amanda and my hair rigs with corn and set the rods in rod holders as to use the bolt rig method of carp fishing. The idea of the bolt rig is that once a fish mouths the bait, the fish will feel the weight of the sinker and bolt off, once this happens the rod in the rod holder drives the hook further into the fishes mouth. Its a simple but effective rig.  Rylan however sticks to his guns and used his old standby, a baited hook with no weight, and a piece of Styrofoam crimped onto his line. This method allows the carp to eat his bait without feeling any resistance at all, as the fish swims off, the line pulls out and the Styrofoam moves with the line indicating a bite.

Once the carp rods were in place, Rylan and I began bluegill/bass/crappie fishing. After about 30 minutes my drag starts to slip as a carp has hooked itself. I run over and start to fight the fish, It makes a few good runs and pulls some drag. I get it close to the bank to see that its about 10-15lbs, but more than likely not the 20lber that I was looking for. After a few good rolls it spits the hook. (Like I said, the story of my weekend.) I then re-bait and toss back out and resume fishing for bluegill. Shortly after I make two or three casts Amanda yells that she has one. I head over and get the net. Needless to say her luck was better than mine. The carp weighed 20lbs 11oz, and measured 34 inches. Yet another fish Ohio trophy for Amanda.

 An hour or two goes by and I get a few bounces on my carp rod, I even loose another one to a snag. Meanwhile, Rylan and I begin to find the bluegill. He catches one that he thinks goes 9+ inches and as hes walking down the bank to his measuring tape it slips out of his hands and goes back into the water. (He's got the same luck as me.) As if the fish catch rates weren't uneven enough already, Amanda catches yet another nice carp. This time she shatters her previous personal best, with a carp that weighs 27lbs 13oz and measured 35.5 inches.

At the end of the day, neither Rylan or Myself managed to catch a carp. Rylan did end up with 19 bluegill and a largemouth. I on the other hand only managed 13 bluegills. All in all Amanda had one of her best weekends of fishing ever. Within the last week she has managed a five fish weight of over 127 pounds. Next time were out in the boat in the middle of a thunderstorm, or fishing for crappie in below freezing weather, or going on 48 hours without sleep to fish, fishing in 25mph winds, dodging hail, etc. I will point back to this week and tell her that's why we are here.