Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Panfishing Last Week

Last Monday, 10/22, Stephanie and I took advantage of the 80 degree weather and headed out crappie fishing at Rocky Fork Lake after I got off work. I stopped and got some minnows from the bait shop near the north shore boat ramp to ensure success. Since we were already in the area we decided to fish the docks along the north shore channel. We quickly put some minnows out on slip float rigs set a few feet deep and started casting artificial lures such as spinnerbaits and spoons. It wasn't long before we started catching crappie on the minnow floats, although fairly small crappie at around 5-8 inches. We didn't have much luck on the artificial baits but the minnows were working quite well as expected. Setting the float about 2ft deep in the 5-6ft water seemed to be the best. We also caught a few bluegill and a couple bass on the minnows. After 4 hours we had caught 28 crappie, not to bad for being confined to the bank. The water temperature was 63 degrees. Stephanie caught the biggest crappie of the day, which I snapped a picture of.
11 inch 10oz Crappie
Saturday, 10/27, Sean and I went to my pond to harvest some bluegill. The gills were still biting well using the typical crawler floats and jigs. We ended up catching around 40 and kept 31 putting the total up to 118 harvested bluegill from the pond, only 32 more to go to meet my goal of 150. 
Another 31 harvested bluegill
Later that day we departed for Bass Pro to pick up some crappie baits. We planned to hit Rocky Fork Lake the next day for some crappie since the action was good Monday. The main target at Bass Pro was some crappie tube baits. A small tube bait rigged with a 1/32 jig hook is one of our favorite crappie baits. The hollow body of the tube creates a slow sinking action that the crappie can't resist.

Our preference in crappie tube baits at the moment is the Bass Pro Shops brand Squirmin' Squirt. They are one of the cheapest options and since we go through them so fast we get more for our money. Sean also got some Strike King Tooty Fruity Tubes to try in comparison. Crappie baits tend to come in dozens of colors, I tried to pick a good variety to try. Here's a picture of the colors I chose.
Squirmin' Squirt Tubes
We attempted to fish Sunday but wind gusts of 25 mph and rain lead to a quick departure. The water temperature had dropped all the way to 53 degrees. The effects of hurricane Sandy hit full on today, dumping a couple inches of snow. The recent cold weather, rain, and wind will put a damper on the fishing for some time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sand Spike, PVC Rod Holder

Lately we have been using the boat more and more, and fishing the bank has become somewhat of a rarity. I started cleaning the garage last week and I found that my rod holders were tucked away in a corner and needed a good dusting. I have posted on various forums our adaptation of the sand spike rod holder, so I feel that I could cover it in great detail here.

A few years ago a friend of mine turned us on to circle hooks, and since then we have fallen in love with them. We use circle hooks over 90 percent of the time, using J hooks only to suspend baits under a slip float. To efficiently use a circle hook, ones rod must be allowed to load, bend, until enough pressure is applied to the hook so that it buries into the corner of a fish's mouth. If a quick hookset is used the circle hook fails to find flesh more often than not. So for our bank fishing endeavours, we decided to make a cheap, portable rod holder that would allow us to engage our reels and let the fish set the hook on themselves without losing our rods. After a few hours of searching online for ideas we found one that suited our needs. We took the sand spike, a rod holder type primarily used on beaches for striped bass, and adapted it to our needs.

We began by taking a 1.5 inch pvc pipe, the minimum diameter that will fit our largest rods, and cut it to nearly 2 feet in length. We then cut a piece of thread all, a steel rod that has been threaded, to an estimated 3 feet. I then sharpened one end to a point as to make driving into hard surfaces easier. 
Sharpened thread all rod

I then attached the pvc pipe to the thread all rod with pipe clamps, as shown below.
Pipe clamps
I then made 6 rod holders just like the first, 2 for me, 2 for Amanda, and 2 for Rylan. I then painted my rod holders blue so we wouldn't get them mixed up.....not that any of them are made any differently than the others, but maybe one would have more luck than others.
Finished rod holder
I then took a rod holder out to the back yard and tested the strength. I pushed the rod holder a foot deep, put a rod in the holder and began pulling line until the drag slipped. I tightened the drag and pulled even harder as to test the limits of the rod holder. 
A fully loaded rod.
We have used these rod holders for well over two years now, and put them through an extreme amount of abuse...sand, ice, gravel, grass, etc.. We have yet to break them in any way.
Below is a picture of a line of rods in rod holders at Dayton Power and Light Hotwater Discharge in Aberdeen, Ohio.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blair Family Benefit Tournament: Wind, Waves, and Good Times

Last Saturday, October 20, 2012, I fished a tournament sponsored by the Ohio Hills Catfish Club (Ohio Hills Catfish Club Site) with Kip (Smoothkip) and Randy (Luckeywade) of Catfish Freaks. The tournament was held in order to raise money for the Blair family, who's son was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Kip, Randy, and I started off a half hour later than all of the other teams, because we were waiting for Amanda to bring our spare batteries. When I got to the Shawnee State Forest boat ramp Kip called me and asked me if I got his text, which at that point I hadn't. He asked if I had brought my spare batteries because they used all of their boat batteries to keep their truck running (alternator issues) on their 4 hour ride down to the Ohio River. So at 7am I called Amanda and asked her to bring the boat batteries to the river, an hour and a half later she arrived and we were off.

None of us were familiar with this section of river so we began to scout every bend, rip rap bank, exposed structure, etc. in the river. We found that this particular stretch of river was significantly shallower than the stretch of river that Rylan, Amanda, and I fish. After an hour of searching we settled on a rip rap bank in the 20 to 25 foot depth range. A few bites and a half hour pass and we pull anchor and moved to the next mediocre spot. The next spot had similar results, a few bites and no fish. At this point the wind had picked up and was pushing 1-2 foot waves up river. I looked at Randy and asked him if his boat was good with handling waves, he assured me that we would be fine.

We fished the third spot, once again no fish, and now the waves were really rolling, some of which were throwing white caps. Randy began to look uneasy. As we debated our next move, Kip stated that he wouldn't mind heading further up stream to check out a sharp bend, traveling with the waves, and I cautioned that if the waves get worse we'll be in for a long trip back. Randy didn't say what he wanted, so I assumed that he didn't want to disagree with Kip. I then began voicing my opinion for fishing the mouth of the Scioto River, which at this point was nearly halfway back to the ramp.....a safer route I felt. At this point Kip informs me that if we sink the boat, it wouldn't be the first time they have sunk a boat. At this point I feel that I may need a life jacket.

We developed our game plan, we were going to head downstream with the waves at an angle until we reached the calmer side of the river and then drive back down river against the waves. We took off and the 17 foot flat bottom G3 jon boat began to crash each wave, occasionally throwing a bit of water back into the boat. We made it to the other side, and to our surprise the waves were not calmer. So we traveled for 10 minutes, which felt like 30 minutes, crashing each wave back down river to the mouth of the Scioto River. Every now and then when I saw a good wave coming up I'd look back to see what expression Randy and Kip had on their faces. I cannot truly express in words the look on their faces, but I will try. Kip began to shake his head, his eyes grew two sizes, and he gave a half smile. As I looked back at Randy, he had his hood drawn tight around his face to keep the cold wind and water from hitting his face. He had a cigarette hanging out the corner of his mouth and as he saw the next large wave approaching he'd draw in another puff, and grip the steering wheel with both hands. At this point I found out that when I get really nervous (scared for my life) I laugh hysterically.

We finally got to the mouth of the Scioto River to find out that a few boats had also tucked in out of the wind. We tried our best to get around them without leaving plane in the shallow riffles of the small river. We anchored and fished a good cut bank with a decent hole for two hours. We ended up catching a small channel and tossing it back, because we knew it'd take a couple good fish to win. We then drove down river, fished a couple more spots, and returned to the boat ramp an hour early as to get things packed up before the weigh-in started.

Two thirty pound blues were brought to the scales, with a 39 pounder winning the big fish of the day, and the first place team weighing 4 fish in the mid 70 pound range. However that was not the true reason for the tourney or the biggest victory of the day. All winning teams donated their winnings back to the Blair Family and with the raffle and tournament fees the Ohio Hills Catfish Club helped to raise between $1500 and $1700 for the Family....the true victory.

I want to thank Kip for the invite, Randy for taking me out on his boat, JC (Jaybird8177 of Catfish Freaks) for giving us fresh skipjack, the Ohio Hills Catfish Club for holding the tourney, and everyone that showed up for the tourney.

I wish the best of luck to the Blair family in their battle with cancer. We will keep you in our prayers down here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Selective Harvest Pond Fishing Part 3

This week I took a couple trips to the pond to do some more harvesting. With it getting late in the year I wanted to hurry up and harvest the 5 or 6 largemouth bass that I had planned to harvest before fishing slowed down to much. My plan is to harvest 150-200 5-7 inch bluegill and 5-6 8-12 inch largemouth bass on the year. This is in hopes to increase the growth rate of the largemouth. More is explained in Part 1. Up to this point I had only harvested 87 bluegill.

On the first day the water temperature was 60 degrees. I started out using a weightless 6 inch purple worm. Fishing was slow, I only caught two largemouth on my first lap around the pond, both of which were not in the 8-12 inch range I was looking for. So I switched it up and tried a small spoon in hopes that they wanted something moving quicker than a plastic worm. After a few casts, I got my spoon stuck on some floating leaves. I managed to pop the spoon free and immediately got a bite on top water. I reeled in yet another bass that wasn't in my target range. After the top water bite I quickly switched to a popper. I made another lap around the pond with the popper catching two more largemouth, one of which I kept. On the day I caught 5 largemouth and kept 1.

On the second day the water temperature had dropped one degrees down to 59. This time I started out throwing a larger 7 inch Berkley Power Bait worm in black. I didn't have any immediate results so I switched it up to a small in-line spinnerbait. In years past a spinnerbait has been one of my favorite early spring and mid fall baits at my pond (generally when the water temperature is in the 50's). I don't know what it is about spinnerbaits but the bass really like something shiny and fast during those periods of the year. I quickly found success with the spinnerbait, catching several in my keeper size range. The action continued to be good until dark and I ended up catching 8 largemouth, 5 of which I kept. So in total I kept 6 largemouth meeting my goal. Here's the five from the second day.
Five 8-12 inch harvested Largemouth Bass

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Few Release Pictures

For quite some time we have taken release pictures of our larger fish. We were motivated after watching Robby Robinson, a well known Flathead Catfish fisherman of Ohio, take release videos of his trophy Flathead Catfish. We started taking release pictures for fun and recently I began using them for my computer desktop backgrounds. Since fishing has been slow lately, I wanted to make a post to show off some of our release photography.

In May of 2011, my little brother caught a 33 pound common carp. Rylan and I were quick to take pictures. Needless to say, Jake got a little wet.



In August of 2011 we caught an 8 pound channel while bank fishing Rocky Fork Lake. As we released it Rylan got a really cool picture of it diving to the bottom.

In August of 2010 I caught a 14 pound flathead from a local lake, which gave us a good release picture as it created a decent size wake.

This year we got to get a few different angles as we released fish from the boat. Below is a pretty neat looking picture of a nearly 15 pound flathead from the Ohio River.

We don't always focus on the larger game species, we also take pictures of panfish. Here is a picture I took of a decent 3 pound 6 ounce hybrid striper as it began to throw water into the boat this September from the Ohio River.

This May I took a picture of a 1 pound 10 ounce Crappie.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jake's new Personal Bests

My little brother recently graduated from his Army AIT, and when he got home I took him fishing a few times. Last year I took him fishing before he went off to basic training and he caught a 33 pound common carp. Which happens to be the largest common carp we have caught to date. Since the beginning of October, Jake has been out four or five times and he has set two new personal bests. On his first trip I took him to the hot water discharge at the Dayton Power and Light Power Plant located near Aberdeen, Ohio. The objective of the trip was supposed to be bait gathering so we could fish for catfish the next day, in other words it was a Skipjack trip. We got the first cast in around 5:30pm and bites were slow. So I told Jake to tie on a spoon and try to catch Hybrid Stripers until I found a hot Skipjack bite. Jake caught a couple dozen dinker (small) Hybrid Stripers and a few 2 to 3 pound drum before I found the Skipjack. I then told him to switch back to the sabiki rig and start casting for Skipjack. The very first cast he hooked something that gave him quite the battle. A two minute battle then ensued. It turned out that he had hooked four fish on the rig, three Hybrid Stripers and a Skipjack. The largest of which was his new personal best, a 3lb 9oz hybrid striped bass.
3 pound 9 ounce hybrid striped bass
Its not a monster, we typically catch a dozen Hybrid Stripers over this size each year, but he was glad to have it regardless. At the end of the evening I had caught a few dozen Skipjack Herring for our next few fishing trips.

A couple trips later Jake and I took the boat and some Skipjack out to Ohio Brush Creek, and drove across the Ohio River to fish the Kentucky side of the river. We anchored and fished for an hour or two before the waves picked up and began bouncing the boat around too much to detect bites. So we decided to find a new spot to get out of waves and extreme wind. So we anchored on the back side of a tied off barge and sat around for a couple hours. Fearing a shut out, a trip without catching a single fish, we began talking about moving to another spot. I reeled in my rods and Jake pulled in his first rod, I told him that we still needed to decide where we wanted to fish, and then his other rod went down. After a minute and a half he had landed his new personal best channel catfish, at 10 pounds and 9 ounces.
10 pound 9 ounce channel catfish
Previously his personal best was estimated to be around 6 pounds, so he was very appreciative to have a quality channel cat. After the fish was released, he looked to me and asked, "What do we do now?, Do we still move?" I told him that it shouldn't even be a question, we were going to stay a little bit longer to see if we were catching the beginning of a hot bite, or if we had just anchored where this channel had been staying. We ended up catching a few small blues afterwards, and leaving around 8pm.

The real reason for this post is to highlight the joy that can come with helping others get on nice fish. Currently I am in the worst personal fishing slump I have been in for quite some time. In the last two months I have only landed a few mediocre fish, while Amanda has caught and lost decent blue cats and set a new personal best Longnose Gar. A month ago Dad landed a new personal best blue catfish at 20 pounds, and Rylan also landed a new personal best blue catfish recently. All the while I spend days fishing with Amanda, Rylan, Dad, and Jake individually and each Saturday with Rylan and Amanda. Although I joke with everyone about fishing hundreds of hours without catching decent fish, I still get exited to see them catch quality fish.

At the end of the trip Jake made a very good point about the trip, he stated that each trip should be measured by the quality or quantity of fish that we catch collectively, not individually. Every now and then I get greedy and lose site of that point.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Warm Water Discharge Trip

Last Thursday after I got off work, Sean and I hit a local warm water discharge on the Ohio River in pursuit of trophy hybrid stripers. This is where we've been going to fish for the skipjack that we've been using for bait on the Ohio River. From the bait fishing trips, we knew the hybrids were biting good as they usually do this time of year. We also brought catfish rods and frozen skipjack to throw out while we were bass fishing. I decided that I would start out using a sabiki rig. This is what we typically use to catch skipjack but we also often catch hybrid stripers and many other species of fish on this rig. I decided this so I could catch fresh skipjack to put on my catfish rod and also catch some hybrids at the same time. Sean started out using spoons.

It wasn't long before Sean found the hybrids with the spoon, although only small ones. I caught a few myself and also landed a 3lb 10oz channel on the sabiki. Meanwhile we were both getting nibbles on our cut skipjack rods. Eventually my rod loaded and I reeled in a 2lb 1oz hybrid striper. It's pretty common for us to catch the bigger hybrids on cut bait. Later I did catch a fresh skipjack and rebaited with it. With the fresh skipjack on it wasn't long before I had another fish on. This time it was an extremely fat 3lb 9oz hybrid.
3lb 9oz 18.5 inch Hybrid Striped Bass
Later on I hooked into something that felt decent on the sabiki rig. Turns out I had multiple fish on, 4 fish and 3 different species to be exact. 2 hybrid stripers, a baby blue cat, and a 1lb 1oz gar. The highlight of my trip for sure. 
4 fish 3 species sabiki rig (blue catfish, 2 hybrid striped bass, 1lb 1oz longnose gar)
Soon thereafter Sean's skipjack rod went down and he reeled in a 2lb hybrid. After losing my sabiki rig I switched to a very large spoon in hopes to provoke a larger fish to hit an artificial bait. I did end up catching the biggest artificial bait hybrids of the day, two that were in the 1-2lb range. The warm water discharge fishing is definetly picking up with the cold weather moving in.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10/6 Ohio River Trip

Saturday, we once again set out for the Ohio River. With skipjack on hand we got on the water at 1:00pm. High winds and a temperature in the 50's made the boat ride quite cold and wet in Sean's 14ft jon. The river was definitely choppy, with some waves in the 1ft range. Doesn't sound big but in a small boat they feel big.

We setup on somewhat of a flat in the 23ft range, put out some cut skipjack, and waited. This flat is on the upstream side of some deeper holes we fished last week. About 30 minutes in one of my rods loaded up nicely. After a short battle and one good drag pulling run at the boat we netted a decent sized blue catfish. The blue weighed 15lbs 10oz.
15lb 10oz Blue Catfish
30 minutes later one of Amanda's rods went down. When she got the fish to the boat, we were surprised to see a huge longnose gar. We struggled to get the lengthy fish into the smaller net we had, a bigger net is something we definitely need to invest in. The fish weighed 14lbs 1oz and measured 53 inches. The biggest gar any of us have ever caught.
14lb 1oz 53 Inch Longnose Gar
The day slowed down significantly after that. I ended up catching a smaller 6lb gar and Amanda caught a 9lb gar. We tried several spots with no luck. The water temperature was still a surprising 70 degrees. Last week it was drum fest, this week it was gar fest, maybe next weekend will be blue cat fest? I hope so. The weather is looking good for this Saturday and we intend to hit the river once more, although we are thinking about trying a different boat ramp at a different stretch of river.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Abu Garcia 7000, Salvage

The other day I went to the bait store to pick up some P-Line Fluorocarbon for leader material on my bass fishing adventures. When I was paying for the fluorocarbon, Nathan Dailey offered me an older used Abu Garcia 7000. I told him I didn't really need one, but I had to ask what he wanted for it. He told me I could have it for $50, it was in pretty rough shape but I felt it was a good deal anyway. Abu Garcia has been a favorite reel of many fisherman, particularly those who fish for striped bass, catfish, musky, etc. Abu reels, particularly old reels, hold their value better than most reels so I felt that it was a safe bet to buy the reel. Either way, the reel would give me a few hours of work and keep me busy for an evening....if nothing else I could use it on a spare rod.
Initially the reel looked as if it had been submerged for a day or two in water. The reel foot, line pawl cap, and other parts were covered in some sort of dried vegetation.
I got a bowl from the kitchen and filled it with a teaspoon of dawn dish liquid and warm water. I then got an old tooth brush, a few q-tips, an old sock, some oil, and grease to clean and lubricate the reel. I then took the reel apart piece by piece and cleaned them individually. I began cleaning the left side-plate, worm gear, line pawl, etc.
I then focused my attention on cleaning the frame. After scrubbing for a few minutes I quickly realized that there were a few pits in the metal reel foot. 
Before

After
 With half of the reel finished I began taking the more complicated side of the reel apart, the right side plate. I took it apart carefully, making sure not to let any parts hit the floor. I removed the side plate and old grease, I then added grease to the gears and replaced the side plate.
After an hour and a half I had re-discovered a barely used 1991 Abu Garcia 7000. I had determined its age from the foot/serial numbers stamped on the back side of the reel seat. The sixth and seventh numbers read 01, which mark the year of manufacture plus 10. (2001-10=1991) I don't know why they add 10 to the year the reel was manufactured, but that is how they do it. I know this because I sent an email to Abu Garcia a year ago asking them how to read the serial numbers. They responded with a page describing how to decipher the 8 digit code. Maybe in a week or two I'll throw a blog together explaining how to read them. Needless to say, I had completed cleaning the reel and lubricating it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

9/29 Ohio River Trip

Saturday, Sean and I headed out to the Ohio River in pursuit of monster catfish. Sean has been hitting the river quite hard recently trying to figure out where the big fish are. Sean had stockpiled some skipjack for bait from a few skipjack fishing trips at a local power plant discharge, one of which I joined on. We used sabiki rigs to catch the skipjack and also caught a few gar as they were at the discharge thick. I also bought a pound of israeli carp so we would have a live bait option. With plenty of bait on hand we made it on the water at 3:00pm. Since we already had plenty of bait we didn't need to waste the daytime fishing for bait.

The previous day, Sean and Amanda had fished the river and Amanda lost an approximate 30lb blue cat and caught a 12lb blue in the same spot so we decided to start at that spot. The spot was the head of a 40ft hole on an outside bend of the river and the current was quite swift. Sean started the day with a big drum, and this would be a sign of things to come. The drum weighed 5lbs, unmeasured but a good chance it was a 22 inch trophy. Soon thereafter I got into some channel cats, catching two 4 pounders and a 7 pounder. Below is a picture of the 7 pounder.
7lb 5oz Channel Cat
We then decided to move to a new spot in search of bigger fish. We fished another 40ft hole downstream. This time I started out with a big drum. Soon after netting my drum, one of Sean's rods went down and he reeled in an even bigger drum putting two trophy drum in the boat at the same time. My drum was a 6lb 11oz 23 inch trophy, my 5th different species of trophy on the year, catching up to Sean who also got his 5th on a drum a month ago. Sean's drum was an 8lb 3oz 25 inch trophy.
6lb 11oz 23 inch Freshwater Drum
8lb 3oz 25 inch Freshwater Drum
Sean then caught a 3lb channel cat. I finally caught another 6lb 15oz trophy drum, the 4th trophy drum of the day, before we decided to move once more in search of bigger catfish. We tried several more spots with similar results. A few small channel and baby blue cats and yet another trophy drum of 7lb 3oz. By 2:00am we decided to call it quits as the bite had slowed down significantly after sunset.

All fish were caught on cut skipjack. I did get one bite on an israeli but it failed to load my rod. The water temperature was 71 degrees. On the day we caught 5 trophy drum, a few medium size channel cats, and several small/baby channel and blue cats. Nearly all decent size fish were caught in the daytime. Not the monster catfish we're looking for but better than being skunked.

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Catfish Gear, Quantum BigCat Rods, Abu Garcia 7000IHSN, and St. Croix Premier Rods

Quantum BigCat Rods

Last month I made the mistake of using my rod to break my line when I got snagged. The rod was a 7' Medium Heavy power, Shakeshpere Ugly Stik Tiger paired with an Abu Garcia 7000ic3 spooled with 40 pound Berkley Big Game monofilament. I gave the rod a few hard tugs and I heard a crack, Rylan and Amanda looked at me as to see what had happened. As it turns out, Ugly Stik Tigers are not unbreakable. The epoxy near the tip of the rod had splintered, I then gave the rod a few hard tugs and the line finally broke. Assuming the rod was still in working order, I continued to use it.

A few days later Kip from Catfish Freaks, www.catfishfreaks.proboards.com , and his friend Joey came down and fished with me one evening. Kip used that very same Ugly Stik Tiger and snagged it up and finally finished it off. A few days later I bought an older used Abu Garcia 7000 from my local bait store, so I had two reels without rods. This only meant one thing, that I needed two new flathead rods. After talking to a few guys on Catfish Freaks, I found that two of the most favored flathead rod choices were Shakesphere Ugly Stik Tigers and Quantum Big Cats. Since I had broken the Tiger, I decided to go with the Quantum Big Cat, still being sold from Catfish Connection. The rod is only sold in 7'10" one piece, Heavy power, fast action, with a line rating of 20-50lb test, and a lure weight of 3 to 12 ounces.


When I pulled the rods out of the box, the first thing I noticed was the craftsmanship of the eyes. They had inserts, which I typically don't like because I have had issues with other catfish rods. However each eyelet was connected at three different points to the rod and they were extremely thick braces (which will help to prevent the eyes from getting bent or crushed)....oh and they looked awesome finished in flat black paint too. Not like a hungry flathead will care, but I do like my rods to look nice.
I paired the BigCat rods with an Abu Garcia 7000ic3 and a 7000ics.


Abu Garcia 7000IHSN and St. Croix Rod

Since I had got new rods and a new (used) reel, Amanda decided to buy a few new catfish set-ups for herself. Last Christmas she found a few reels that she wanted, specifically an Abu Garcia 7000IHSN. She wanted to have a larger spool capacity than her Abu Garcia 6000's, and something smaller than a 7000. The only Abu Garcia that fit that criteria was the HSN Big Game model.

From that point we had to decide what rod was best fit for her, and by we I mean that I had to ask around to see what rods she would like. She knew she wanted a rod between 7'10" and 9', slightly slower tip than a Catfish Series Ugly Stik, and Medium Heavy power. After having a long discussion/s with Jordan (Skyline1506 of catfishfreaks.proboards.com), I told Amanda that the rods she needed were Surge Trophy Cats from Tombstone Tackle. So we placed an order for two of them from Catfish Connection. The very next morning I received a call from CatfishConnection in which they told me that they were out of Surge rods. So I broke the news to Amanda and we began looking for rods again.

It just so happens that we ventured into the bait store the next evening and she began looking through the rods. She began to gravitate towards the St. Croix rods, so I warned her that the price of those rods were a little steep. She began talking to TJ, a friend that helps to run the bait store, and he showed her a pamphlet of St. Croix rods. After a few minutes of discussing her options, she ordered two St. Croix Premier Rods. The rods she ordered were 8', Medium Heavy power, Fast action, with a line rating of 20-50lb test, and a lure weight of 3/4 to 3 ounces.

A few days later they arrived, and the first thing I noticed was the metallic flaked black paint. Sparkly paint is right up Amanda's alley. Since I noticed the eyes on the Quantum BigCat rod first, I closely inspected the St. Croix rod.

The eyes did not have inserts which I like, but they were significantly thinner than the eyes on the Quantum BigCat and only made contact with the rod twice. The thinner eyes will be more prone to getting bent while getting beat around the boat, or in the back of the car, but then again St. Croix rods have a great warranty, so she should be fine. However if one of my Quantum BigCats break I can buy 3 more before I reach the price tag of a single St. Croix Rod.

Above is Amanda's finished combo, in which a single combo costs nearly as much as the boat we fish out of.....but that's a discussion for another time.