Sunday, March 31, 2013

3/29,3/30 Rocky Fork Lake....Moving Shallow

This weekend we experienced the first warm weather of spring, so we took the opportunity to chase down a few crappie at Rocky Fork Lake. Friday we got off work, loaded the kayaks up and drove down to the lake. Our first stop was the Bayview bait store on North Shore Drive, here we picked up 12 dozen minnows for the weekend of fishing....6 for me and 6 for Amanda. At this point Rylan was already on the water and fishing at South Beach. So we decided to follow his lead, the North Shore boat ramp was packed and boats were lining the shore as far as the eye could see anyway. We got on the water around 4:30pm and the water temperature was in the mid 40's. We quickly headed into the small cove and found some structure in 8-12 foot of water. My initial plan was to suspend minnows under a float just above the deepest structure I could find, however the fish had left the deep structure. So the search began, who could find the fish and at what depth. After about an hour Rylan managed the first fish, a decent largemouth at 1lb  and 5oz and measured 13.5".
1lb 5oz 13.5" Largemouth Bass
A few minutes later he had landed another small bass, finally sealing the deal and developing a pattern. Shortly later Amanda and I caught our first fish as well, both largemouth. This was surprising on two accounts. One, we were catching more largemouth than we were catching crappie. The second thing that surprised me was the depth at which these fish were being caught. Instead of the fish biting deep like they had been all winter, they had finally moved shallow to soak up the suns rays. Most of the fish we caught were pulled out of 3-5 feet of water. Rylan ended the day on a roll, landing a half dozen fish within a half hour of complete dark.

Saturday, Amanda and I decided to go out and fish Rocky Fork once again to see if the fish would bite shallow again. We met up with our kayak wars team member, Russ, at the North Shore boat ramp. We got the kayaks in around 11am and paddled out about midway to the mouth of North Shore and started fishing. Water temperatures were in the low 40's, slightly cooler from the previous day. To make a long story short, the bite was not where it was the previous day...... at least not yet. We did manage two largemouth from 7 feet of water. Amanda got her first largemouth from the kayak at 15oz and 13" so we decided to take a quick picture.
At about 3pm we decided to give North Shore a break and head to the gas station to re-hydrate and refuel. We then decided to go see how things were doing at South Beach. We immediately headed to the spots we had fished the day before.....however the fish weren't there. After trying a variety of depths we moved on down the bank, this time to a spot that is rarely unoccupied.....a well known crappie hot spot. It didn't take long before we found a few fish. Russ finally got on the board with a small crappie, followed by a nice 12" crappie.

At this point it was about 6pm, similar to the time Rylan had found the hot bite at 3-5 feet deep so I asked Russ how deep he had caught the crappie. Sure enough he was fishing just under 5 feet deep. I quickly adjusted my floats to 5 feet and began to catch one after another. The difference this trip was that we were primarily catching crappie with largemouth bass, and a couple bluegill showing up. In the heat of the action I landed a fish almost identical to Russ's crappie. Here's my 12" crappie.


After it was all said and done we managed 4 largemouth, 2 bluegill, and nearly 20 crappie....considering that at 5 pm (6 hours into the trip) we only had 2 largemouth, I was very happy with the turnout.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Still Waiting For Spring

Today is March 26th and usually by this time of year here in southern Ohio the fishing is starting to pick up. That's not the case this year. For the past 3 days it has been snowing and the water temperature in the lakes and streams is still lingering around 40-45 degrees. March 20th was the first day of spring but winter still presses on. Last year we were spoiled by an extremely mild winter and early spring. I documented a trip on March 21st where the temperature hit 85 degrees last year. By the end of March the water temperatures were well into the 60's.

Despite the cold weather we have still been fishing without much to report. Last Friday after work I made my way to Rocky Fork Lake in search of crappie. After a couple nights with temperatures in the teens I was a little concerned that the lake would have ice, so I called a local bait shop and got a status report. They told me the ice was minimal and that was good enough for me. I arrived to find the portion of the lake I intended to fish to be ice free. I found a quick bite using minnow floats set around 10ft deep on a ledge I have known to hold crappie. Soon thereafter the bite died. I tried several spots that we have had success at in the past with no bites. By the end of the day I returned to the original spot which I had success at to catch a few more. On the day I caught 7 crappie. The bite was definitely slow and the crappie were biting very light.

Even though the fishing has been slow, it has been a good opportunity to get acquainted with my NuCanoe Frontier. I'm very pleased with it. I'll be doing a more detailed blog on my initial experiences with the Frontier soon. I took a couple pictures while out Friday to show off how spacious and comfortable the Frontier is.
Aboard my NuCanoe Frontier 12

Monday, March 18, 2013

3/15 Adams Lake Trout Fishing

Friday after work, Sean, Amanda, and I met up at Adams Lake. Adams lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout every year around the beginning of March. The trout stocking typically brings in quite the crowd of shore anglers for a few weeks after the stocking. I had some minnows left over from the previous weekend so I was hoping to find some crappie or trout. Sean and Amanda used corn for trout, a bait we have known to be productive for trout. We focused our efforts near the overflow on the deeper end of the lake. Initially I tried minnow floats set in the range of 6-12ft and also jigged minnows off the bottom. After an hour, Amanda caught the first trout and I hadn't had any crappie bites so I refocused my efforts on trout. The trout could be seen hitting the surface on occasion all over the lake. I set two minnow floats at 2-3ft while Sean and Amanda set their corn floats at 2-3ft as well. Near the shore seemed to be the most productive. We quickly caught three trout combined, one on a minnow and two on corn, and soon thereafter the bite died. It's hard to put a pattern on these stocked trout, they seem to just swim around randomly and it's just a luck and waiting game. I kept the three that we managed to catch for eating. Upon cleaning I found that two of the three trout had bellies full of corn. I decided to fillet the trout which I learned wasn't the best idea. In the past I've always had trout cooked whole in such a way that the skin and bones can easily be pulled off/out after cooking and for good reason. I found trout are full of bones, way more than what I was used to in crappie and bluegill. I salvaged what meat I could off the trout but It wasn't nearly as much as I expected. Here's a picture of the three Rainbow Trout.
Rainbow Trout

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ohio Boating Certification

Late last year I had some extra time so I decided to complete the Ohio boating course that is required for operating power boats greater than 10HP if you are born after January 1, 1982. Since I have plans to eventually own a boat with well over 10HP, I figured id get the course over with while I had time. I found that there are several options for taking the course online, one of which happens to be free at www.boatus.org. You can find other options for fulfilling the course here.

The BoatUS website was easy to navigate. The course is divided into 6 sections consisting of anywhere from 40 to 80 slides each. Each slide has a timer which must expire for you to move on to the next slide making the entire course take a minimum of 3-4 hours to complete. At the end of each section there is a 10 question quiz that you are required to get an 80% on to proceed, otherwise you must take the section over. After completing all 6 sections you must take a 75 question final exam and score an 80% or higher to get your certification. The best part is it's free and you get as many do-overs as you need. It took me approximately 8-10 hours to complete as I took my time and read the majority of the information.

A couple weeks ago I received my certification card in the mail from ODNR.

So to any would be boaters of the younger generation looking to be legal, it's pretty easy and free to get your certification online. Good luck and safe boating.

Monday, March 11, 2013

3-9,3-10 Kayak Trips

This weekend we got the chance to take the kayaks out for the first time. Saturday we loaded the car with the kayaks(and NuCanoe) and headed out to the lake. We got 3 dozen minnows apiece and took a look at the boat ramps at Rocky Fork Lake. The ramp at north shore had 10 or more boats so we decided to take a trip to Paint Creek lake and avoid the weekend traffic. Paint Creek Lake is a flood control lake and each winter it is drawn down 10 foot. However last week we had a few hard rains and the lake had filled up quite a bit.
We put the kayaks in at the boat ramp near the marina and paddled toward the islands. We had planned on fishing the steep ledges associated with the islands. On the way to the island we stopped and fished some trees sticking out of the water just west of the marina. The water was really turbid, visibility was less than 3 inches. We didn't have any luck fishing the trees so after an hour and a half we moved down to the island in order to find more productive water. After a couple more hours without bites we decided to head back to the boat ramp and unload the kayaks. I took some pictures of Amanda and Rylan as we paddled back to the ramp. Here's Amanda as she stops paddling to pose for a quick picture.

Here's Rylan showing off the stability of the NuCanoe.
When we got back to the ramp we unloaded the kayaks and took a ride on each others kayak. I started out with Amanda's Ascend fs12t. I had the impression that her's would be more stable than my Malibu x13 and that it would be significantly slower than mine because it was much shorter and wider than mine. However it was the complete opposite. Her Ascend was just as fast if not slightly faster than the Malibu X-13, and felt less stable. I also noticed that her kayak sat really low in the water, which I did not like. We got back to the ramp and exchanged kayaks once again. This time around I got to take Rylan's Nucanoe Frontier out. It was a tank, as stable as my 14 foot jon boat. However it did take slightly more effort to move than the kayaks. In both cases (ascend fs12t and Nucanoe Frontier) the seats were super comfortable, which made me realize that I need to invest in one shortly. After our joy rides we loaded the kayaks up and started on our way back home.

Sunday we took the boats out to a small lake that we knew would have several feet of visibility, Turkey Creek Lake. We still had minnows left from our Paint Creek Lake adventure so we brought them along. We knew that Turkey Creek Lake had crappie in it, but the population was very small. We had fished it before with minnows and caught a few small bass, but never many crappie. Amanda and I got the kayaks in at noon and started hitting fallen trees along steep banks. Rylan arrived shortly after and started fishing the other side of the lake. We didn't catch a fish until 2:30pm. At this point I had tucked in behind a tree and used it to anchor myself. I then started casting minnows on floats up against the tree trunk. I had a couple fish pull the floats under and then let go. The third time it happened the fish held onto the minnow. After a little drag slip and a half hearted jump, well more like a roll, I had landed my first fish in the kayak. The largemouth went 17" and 2lbs 1oz, which qualified us for 10 points in the Kayak Wars online tournament. Kayak Wars Website
I took a few quick pictures and then paddled over to Amanda to get a better picture.
Shortly after I released the bass Rylan landed his first kayak fish, a bass just under 1 pound. Amanda and I got a few more bites before calling it quits for the weekend. Rylan stayed a little longer and managed to catch another bass to end the evening. Amanda will have to wait until next weekend to catch her first fish from her kayak.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Kayaks

Sean

Amanda and I got our kayaks Friday from Bass Pro Shops. After a good bit of research we decided to get sit on top kayaks as opposed to sit in kayaks, because the sit on top kayaks are more stable and better suited for catching larger species of fish. At first we had decided to get 2 ascend fs12t kayaks, an affordable angler suited kayak. However the weight capacity of the ascend fs12t kayaks is only 350 pounds. I'm 6' and 270 pounds, so I would have very little weight left over for gear, bait, food, etc. I began searching the Internet for ideas on affordable kayaks that were suited for big fish and big people. I ended up narrowing it down to two kayaks, the Ocean prowler big game(550lbs-600lbs Capacity) and the Malibu stealth 12 (450lbs Capacity). Friday evening I decided to go to Bass Pro Shops and get all of Amanda's gear and her ascend fs12t kayak. I had planned on looking at the kayaks they had in stock for myself, but more about that later. Amanda ended up choosing the sand colored kayak over the olive colored one. Below is a picture of her kayak with slight modifications including 2 Scotty rod holders, 2 anchor cleats, Carlisle Day Tripper paddle, and a paddle leash.

The front of the kayak has a fairly large hatch for storing whatever you may need. The compartment is very spacious with foam to stop your gear from sliding to the back of the kayak.


The kayak came with a very nice padded seat as well as a small dry compartment for cell phones, keys, your wallet, etc.

Her kayak also has two rod holders molded in and a rear storage compartment with a maze of bungee cords.

All in all she was very pleased with her kayak. While we were at bass pro I got her a paddling life jacket with a high back, 3lb grappling anchor, anchor rope, Carlisle Day Tripper 240cm paddle, 2 Scotty rod holders, paddle leash, a set of pliers, and 2 anchor cleats. All that is left to purchase for her kayak is a folding net, milk crate, waterproof tackle boxes, measuring device, and rod storage tubes.

While I was at Bass Pro I took a look at the selection of kayaks. I found that the store had a few kayaks on sale. They had an Ocean Endeavor for $650, Malibu x13 for $699, and a tandem kayak that I wasn't so interested in. They also had a full line up of Ascend Kayaks, but none of which offered the weight capacity that I felt I needed to be comfortable. To make a long story short I ended up buying the Malibu x13. It's a $1000 kayak that was for sale at $699. It's 13 foot long, 29" wide, and has a weight capacity of 450lbs. It was, in my opinion a deal too good to pass up. The only problem was that the kayak was red, so much for the stealth aspect of a green or olive color. Anyway here it is:

The Malibu kayaks come with gator hatches, which are tremendously large. I have no doubt that I can put anything I want in it, even a full sized dog.


The Malibu kayak did not come with a padded seat like the Ascend but the seat is molded and a pretty good fit for my large frame. I plan on taking it out on a few trips before I buy a seat for it. It also has a huge storage area between the anglers legs. At first glance it appears that it would be impossible to open while sitting in it, but if you bend your knees you can actually open the hatch. I plan on using it to store pliers, scale, tape, etc., simply things I am going to use every trip.


The Malibu also comes with rear storage with a ton of space and a similar maze of bungee cords as the ascend.

I bought the same things as mentioned above for my kayak with the exception of the rod holders. I decided that I liked the appearance of the Attwood rod holders (High gloss) over the Scotty rod holders that were a flat black. The attwoods also have a octagon shaped ring that locks the rod into place, where as the Scotty rod holders have a round ring. I guess it was just my preference over Amanda's. I also bought a 12v deer feeder battery with a capacity of 7 amp hours for my fish finder. However I forgot to buy electricians putty to mount the transducer so I'll need to buy that as well as the things mentioned for Amanda.

Rylan

When we decided to get kayaks a few weeks ago I spent several days researching my options. The two biggest factors I was looking for in a kayak was stability and storage space. I looked at several brands including Jackson, Wilderness Systems, Native Watercraft, Malibu, Ascend, and NuCanoe. One in particular stood out among the crowd, the NuCanoe Frontier 12. The NuCanoe Frontier by far looked the most stable at a ridiculous 41 inches wide. Videos online showed people jumping around in them and even standing while going through white water. The NuCanoe boats are actually hybrids between kayaks and canoes, hence the name. As far as storage goes, the NuCanoe wasn't the best on compartments but I felt the wide open space on top would give me plenty of room to set things, including my entire tackle backpack. It didn't take long before my heart was set on the NuCanoe Frontier 12, which is the latest and greatest of the NuCanoe models.

Here's a list of all the basic specs of the NuCanoe Frontier 12:
Length - 12'
Width - 41"
Weight - 77 lbs
Capacity - 650 lbs
Draft - 3-5"
Max Power - 2HP or equiv.

Upon searching for a dealer, I found a place near Indianapolis called Wildcat Creek Outfitters that claimed to be the #1 dealer of NuCanoe in 2011 and 2012. They also sold the Frontier and most of the accessories through there website so it allowed me to browse everything they had. They even had a deal running in which you got 15% off all accessories with purchase of a NuCanoe Frontier if purchased before the end of February.  Even though they sold most everything online I still wanted to go check everything out in person, so last Wednesday (2/27), I made the three hour drive to Indianapolis in order to take advantage of the deal before it expired.

When I arrived they were very helpful in showing me around. Of the color options I chose the Hunter Brown. I then examined all the different accessory options and picked out what I liked. I ended up getting the following:

A Hunter Brown NuCanoe Frontier 12
A Charcoal Max 360 Seat
A Transformer Paddle
A NuCanoe Transport Cart
An Anchor Trolley Kit
A 3lb Folding Anchor
An Anchor Rope
A Battery Box
A Battery Box Strap
A Stand Up Handle
A Slide Mount
A Panfish Portrait Camera Mount
2 Ram Rod Holders with Screwball
2 Mighty Mounts 

All these accessories are sold through NuCanoe and can be seen on their website. I chose the the max 360 seat because I liked the swivel option. The Transformer paddle can be used as a normal two sided paddle, a one sided paddle, a stake out pole, or a push pole. I liked the idea of having this versatility. The NuCanoe Transport Cart I felt was essential. The cart easily connects to the transom and gives you wheels on one end of the NuCanoe making transport much easier. The anchor trolley seems like a good idea in theory, it gives you the ability to adjust the position of your anchor line. Of course an anchor and rope is a must have. Since I plan on mounting a trolling motor on my frontier I figured I better go ahead and get a battery box. The stand up handle also seemed like a nice addition giving you something to easily pull yourself up or lower yourself back down into your seat, plus it wasn't expensive. The slide mount gives me more gear mounting options so I felt it was a good buy. I definitely wanted to take pictures and videos and the Panfish Portrait Camera Mount covered this. Finally I needed a couple rod holders and the Ram rod holders with screwballs and mighty mounts gives me the ability to mount them just about anywhere on the frontier.

I considered getting the aquabox phone mount as well but found that it didn't fit my phone and I was unsatisfied with the design anyway.

The guys at Wildcat Creek Outfitters were very helpful. They even loaded it onto my truck and gave me some straps to use so I didn't have to use the rope I had brought. I'd recommend these guys to anyone looking for a new kayak or a NuCanoe.

Additionally I went to Bass Pro with Sean when he got his and Amanda's kayaks to pick up a few more essentails including two life jackets (one extra incase I ever bring someone with me), some carabiners, and a bungee strap.

Here's some pictures of it with everything setup.

NuCanoe Frontier 12
NuCanoe Frontier 12
Transport Cart
Battery Box, Anchor, and Life Jacket
Max 360 Seat
Slide mount with rod holders and camera mount
Front Storage Hatch
Front Storage Hatch Open (Extra Life Jacket and Supplies Inside)
Front Storage Hatch with Dry Bag Removed
I have three complaints with it so far. One, the stand up handles rope is a little too short if your seat is slid on the stern end. Two, some more storage compartments would be nice. Three, the front storage hatch or gear vault is advertised as storing rods and I've found that if the rod isn't extremely limp then it either won't fit or you have to bend it beyond comfort levels to make it fit. On the upside it's actually more spacious than I had imagined when looking at pictures.

This weekend, since the temperatures are supposed to be near 60, Sean, Amanda, and I plan to take our new toys out for the first time. We're all pretty excited to try them out. They will drastically increase our fishing opportunities this year giving us the ability to fish waters that are rarely if ever fished.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Smack Tackle, 2nd Order

So far I have only had two trips where I have had the chance to use the Smack Tackle line of baits. The first trip the water was high and muddy so the bite was super slow, however I did manage a few bass. The second trip Amanda wore the fish out with the flitterbait-2. I only had 3 flitterbait-2's at this point. She quickly caught half a dozen fish before I made the switch to one of the other flitterbaits I had. I only got to catch a few wipers before Amanda had lost her flitterbait to a snag. Shortly after I tossed one off a tree and busted it, which brought the count of flitterbait-2's down to 1. At this point I quit tossing flitterbaits and tried to toss gizz3's on my baitcaster, which was a bad idea. The wind made long casts impossible with the light gizz3's. After several birds nests I decided to switch to other baits and order more smack tackle.

Of course I had to buy some more flitterbait-2's, but I did have to make the decision of whether to use a spinning reel, or buy the heavier gizz4's to use with my baitcasters. The picture below tells the rest of the story.
My boss also wanted a few flitterbait-4s to use for musky fishing, and a couple flitterbait-2's for bass fishing. I ordered 8 flitterbait-2's, 4 flitterbait-4's, 1 gizz3 (and got 1 gizz3 free. lol), and 6 gizz4's. Hopefully we get a break in the weather soon so I can get out and try the gizz4's.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Little Three Mile Creek, 3/2/2013

Well I wasn't going to fish Saturday because the high temperature was in the low 30's. However my boss said he'd be willing to get out and brave the cold to catch a few fish. We got the boat in the water at 8 pm and were fishing by 8:30am. The water temperature in the main river was 38 degrees, 50 degrees at the mouth of the creek, and 66 degrees at the boils. Needless to say I wasn't too enthused with the water temperatures, but I was dead set on catching fish and avoiding the first shut out of 2013. By 12pm I hadn't had the first bite, however Jim, my boss, had landed 5 largemouth and 4 hybrid stripers. The air temperatures were frigid, however the wind was rather calm where we were fishing. I finally caught my first fish, a second, and then my third and final fish of the evening....all within 30 minutes of fishing. At 1pm we decided to head up to the boils and then drift and fish downstream to the mouth, at that point we were heading home.

Halfway through the drift, Jim hooked what looked to be a decent fish, and to our surprise he had foul hooked a small dark common carp. A few casts later and he had hooked another decent fish, however this fish was not foul hooked and it wasn't too happy about it. After a few slips of drag, and a few dives under the boat the fish had surfaced. We quickly landed the fish, took a measurement, weighed it, and released the fish to be caught another day.


The hybrid striper went 6lbs. 0oz and was 22.5 inches long, another Fish Ohio Trophy hybrid striper on the year. He was pretty happy to catch it, but to be honest I was probably more excited than he was.  Needless to say we both had a good time, got to catch fish, and get away from the house. It was pretty cold, cold enough that we had to dip our rods in the water on occasion just to get the ice off. Here's a picture of my spinning rod loaded with ice.

Half of our fishing this year has been to the warm water discharge and I'm getting tired of fishing the same stretch of water, so I'm looking forward to spring and warmer temperatures. Next weeks weather should help to melt the ice off the lakes.