Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BaitKeeper 20 Gallon Livewell/ Shad Tank

The other day I started seriously thinking about buying a kit that converts a cooler into a livewell for fishing small channel catfish tournaments. My boat is a 14' modified v jon boat that has a max weight capacity around 900 pounds, so I cant afford to use up too much of my weight capacity and possibly sinking the boat. Usually I think about things for a week or so before I act on them, but this time around I went down to the local bait store to see what they had in stock. Sure enough I found a kit that had a 500 gallon per hour pump, hose, filter, and a spray head with suction cups/mounting hardware.
I started to look around for a cooler that I could use as a livewell. In a corner I found a small round tank that held 20 gallons of water. I thought to myself, I could use a round tank for keeping shad alive....something we have had great difficulty doing in the past. Shad tend to run into corners in a square tank, and end up beating themselves to death. So by purchasing this tank, I wouldn't have to engineer any contraption for a cooler to keep shad alive. I could also use the round tank for keeping crappie and bluegill alive in case I don't catch enough keepers for a meal. Although it wouldn't be large enough for channel cats, it would serve a purpose, and the fact that the aerator kit can be mounted and moved easily to a cooler for those channel cat tournaments made it even more tempting. After a few minutes of debate, and asking the guys a few dozen questions, I bought the tank with the intentions of buying a cooler down the road.
I got home and started to assemble my new shad tank. It wasn't hard, just made a few connections and mounted the submersible pump to the bottom middle of the tank. I then mounted the spray head on the top of the lid.
At this point I added water to the tank. I then began experimenting with the spray head location to determine which location would ensure the best rotation of water in the tank. I also experimented with the spray head size, 1 bar and 2 bars. I found that by reducing the spray head to 1 bar, the pressure got too high and might damage any fish that traveled near the top of the tank.
I tested the direction of flow by placing a small float in the tank and watching it as it floated around.
I found that the best location was attached to the lid at an angle that pushed the water toward the outside of the tank and then around the tank. Once I mounted the spray bar in the final position I pumped the tank out using the submersible pump. To do so I removed the hose from the spray head and tossed the hose over the edge of the tank to pump the water out.....into a cooler since I was in my garage. If I were on a boat, I would have tossed it over the edge of the boat.
I plan on adding a large in-line filter soon to filter out scales and slime. My thoughts for a filter is a 1" pvc pipe caped and filled with charcoal and cotton balls. Hopefully the 500 gallon per hour submersible pump can pump water through the filter without loosing too much pressure. I'll make a post when I get the filter put together.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2/18/13 Presidents Day Fishing

This week, Sean and I both had Presidents day off work and the weather was good so of course we took the opportunity to hit the water. We decided to try a local bank spot on Brush Creek for smallmouth and rock bass. Upon arrival we were surprised to see that the edges of the creek had significant amounts of ice preventing us from fishing where we originally intended to. So we decided to fish a short distance upstream where the water was shallower with more current and minimal ice. After an hour of trying various baits we had failed to get any bites. At this point it was either go home or head down to the hot water discharge on the Ohio River. Since it was a nice day and we still wanted to fish, we chose the latter.

The dinker hybrid stipers were biting pretty well at the discharge. After a few hours we had caught over 40 combined on small jigs and swimbaits with the biggest going 1lb even. The water was pretty cool for the discharge at only 61 degrees where we were fishing, although still much warmer than the friged Ohio River water in the 30's. Towards the end of the day I decided to experiment with some new baits and my first choice was a P-Line Kick'r minnow swimbait on a 1/8oz Gamakatsu weighted superline EWG hook. I was very impressed with this baits look, action, and scent. After tossing the swimbait 20-30 times I hooked into a decent one. The fish ripped off line in the strong current and surfaced several times. After a couple minutes I had the hybrid stiper near the bank and by that time Sean had come over to help me land it. After one final burst, Sean lift the hybrid from the water. The hybrid was rather skinny for its length of 22.5 inches,  weighing 4lbs 5oz. 22.5 inches was good enough for my first Fish Ohio trophy of the year, 21 inches being the qualifying length for Hybrid Striped Bass.
4lb 5oz 22.5 inch Hybrid Striped Bass
4lb 5oz 22.5 inch Hybrid Striped Bass
We caught a few more dinkers before sunset and calling it a day. It's safe to say I'll be ordering some more of the P-Line Kick'r minnow swimbaits.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2/9/13 Hot Water, 2/10/13 Ice Adventure

Last weekend we had some decent weather, at least for this time of year, so we took advantage and went out fishing both Saturday and Sunday. We weren't sure if the lakes were still iced over so Saturday we decided to head down to our local warm water discharge to do some hybrid striped bass fishing. The day started out pretty slow with only a few small hybrids and a small spotted bass. I was using spoons and white grubs while Sean focused on larger swimbaits and smack tackle baits he recently purchased. The water temperature in the river was 36 degrees while the water from the discharge was 76 degrees so the water was plenty warm. The skipjack were also no where to be found. Later in the day I hooked the only decent fish of the trip on a 3 inch salt and pepper PowerBait grub on a 1/8 jig, one of my recently homemade jigs actually. The hybrid striper weighed 2lb 9oz.
2lb 9oz Hybrid Striper
The day only got slower and we called it quits before sunset.

Sunday we were pretty confident that the lakes would be clear of ice so we headed to Rocky Fork Lake to do some crappie fishing. We arrived and quickly found out that there was still plenty of ice on the lake. The boat ramp we chose had ice well over a half inch on all but one section and the best section still had over a quarter inch. The ice was also not limited to just the boat ramp, it extended hundreds of yards out from the ramp into the main lake. Sean didn't hesitate to put the boat in anyway with intent to plow right through the ice. For the first attempt Sean decided to bust through some of the ice solo, I took the opportunity to film it.

It's safe to say I wasn't thrilled about riding through the ice myself. Sean circled around and picked us up and we were off. The ride was rough and loud. I took another video of the mayhem.

Once we made it out of the ice and into the main lake we found that many of our favorite crappie spots were also covered in ice. Originally we cleared them off by making several passes with the boat through the area. Some of the ice was up to 1.5 inches thick but we still managed to bust through it. Fishing was even slower than the previous day. It was several spots and hours before we found our first crappie. The water temperature was a chilling 34 degrees. We tried the traditional crappie baits such as minnow jigs/floats, small tube baits and swimbaits, and wax worms. On the day we only caught 6 crappie and 2 largemouth with only 1 of the crappie being keeper size.

Later in the day we learned a pretty effective way of clearing ice from a spot. Creating a large island or iceberg as I called them by cutting through the ice in a big loop and then pushing the island out with the boat was quite effective. I took a couple videos of Sean pushing out some pretty large pieces of ice.

We didn't catch many fish over the weekend but we still got out and enjoyed some decent weather and learned a thing or two.

Monday, February 11, 2013

New Domain Name

If you haven't already noticed, we recently purchased the www.esbfishing.com domain name. You can now navigate to our blog via www.esbfishing.com or www.esbfishing.blogspot.com, they both go to the same location. Thank you to all of our readers and followers, we hope to continue to grow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Smack Tackle

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Scott Smith of Smack Tackle through an online forum. I quickly found out how small the world really was. Scott informed me that he had grew up with Amanda's uncle, and had been following Amanda's fishing adventures through her mom's Facebook page. He told me to take a look at his website. Initially I was hesitant because on that particular forum I get a lot of people telling me about their blogs, or their websites, and I had been there and done that too many times. After sending a few personal messages back and forth I decided to take a look at his website.

I took a look at the home page and it appeared that Scott and his buddy Todd were in the lure making business, and were darn good at it too. I then began browsing the forum section of their website and noticed that nearly every fishing report had fish caught from the smack tackle lures. Now that's what I would expect from a website that sells lures, but the shear numbers and size of the fish that were coming off of these lures was unbelievable. Well not actually when you take a look at the paint jobs.
Flitterbait 4 in Black Back
Smack Tackle makes 3 different lure types, the flitterbait seen above, the gizz series of lures, and the smack jack. The flitterbait is a spoon-like crankbait, if that makes sense. Its heavy and aerodynamic like a spoon, but has the realistic lifelike action of a crankbait. The gizz series of lures is a crankbait style lure, with the most realistic paint job of any manufactured lure on the market today, at least in my opinion. The smack jack is a lure that I chose not to purchase, because its a rather large jointed floating wake bait....which I feel would work well in the warmer months but I still have 3-4 months before I start tossing surface lures. All of the smack tackle lures are painted to look exactly like a gizzard shad, the primary forage fish for 99% of the bodies of water we fish. So it made sense to me to buy a few and try them out.

I ended up purchasing 6 flitterbaits, 3 of the size 4's and 3 of the size 2's. I also purchased 3 gizz3 shallow diving and 2 deep diving crankbaits as seen above. I haven't had the opportunity to take them out yet, but I have no doubts that they will produce fish. Here's some more pics of the awesome paint jobs.
Gizz 3's
Flitterbaits, size 4's on left, 3's on the right.
Check them out at http://www.smacktackle.com/ .