Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cabelas Polartec Power Dry Thermal Underwear

With a winter storm currently brewing outside, what better to do than a review on my trusty set of thermal underwear. For many the fishing season is all but over but for the truly passionate fisherman it is a year round affair. Fishing in the winter can be tough but also very rewarding. Keeping yourself warm is critical and the first step is a good pair of thermal underwear.
Cabelas Polartec Power Dry Thermal Underwear
For the past few years I've been wearing the Cabelas Polartec Power Dry thermal underwear. I've worn this set from temperatures of 70 degrees all the way down to 20 degrees. In the warmer temperatures they breathe very well preventing sweat and even if you do sweat they absorb moisture like no other keeping you dry. An interesting thing I've noticed about them is after washing, they feel nearly dry before you even put them in the dryer. On the other side of the spectrum they provide excellent heat retention in cold temperatures. This versatility makes the Polartec's great for fishing throughout the day and into the night where temperatures might vary greatly. As far as durability goes, I've not had a single issue, no holes or tears of any sort. They come in three different weights, silk, medium, and polar, the silk being for milder conditions while the polar is for the more extreme. I'm not positive if my pair is the medium or the polar weight. For anyone looking for a new pair of thermals, I'd check them out, they haven't let me down. Here's the links to the medium weights.

Medium Weight Shirt
Medium Weight Pants

Interested in more ways to keep warm during winter fishing? Check out my Hot Hands post from exactly a year ago, what a coincidence.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Great Day On The River

Saturday, 11/16, I took another trip the Ohio River. The weather was great, 60 degrees, light winds, and overcast, so I definitely had to take advantage of that. I got on the water around noon and decided to do a bit more exploring this time around. My first stop was a small cove that I had neglected on the previous two trips. This cove turned out to be very shallow, 3ft deep at most, but I still thought it might hold a few fish seeking shelter from the river current. I started out throwing the smallest lure I had tied on in an attempt to get on the board early, a 1.5" white grub on a 1/8oz jig head. 30 minutes went by without a bite before I hooked what I thought was snag. I gave it a couple good tugs to try and pop it free when I noticed this was no snag, it was moving sideways. So the battle began, I had no idea what I had hooked but It felt very heavy without much fight. 30 seconds went by until I surfaced the fish, it was a huge buffalo! Several minutes went by of this fish pulling me around in circles. Finally I was able to get the fish to swim right in my net. I had my GoPro installed for the first trip and realized after netting it that it would have been the perfect time to get a good battle on camera but I was too caught up in the moment and didn't think about it. It wasn't easy, due to the sliminess of these fish, but I eventually got a few pictures. It weighed 11lbs 13oz and measured 27.5". I've only caught a handful of buffalo so this one easily broke my old personal best of 6 or 7lbs.
11lb 13oz 27.5" Buffalo
11lb 13oz 27.5" Buffalo
I did get to try out my GoPro for the hero shot which worked out well.
11lb 13oz 27.5" Buffalo
I had never been so slimed by a fish in my life. Here's a picture of the aftermath.

I continued on fishing the cove for another 15 minutes or so when I got my second bite. I figured it was a small hybrid striper but to my surprise it was a really nice sauger. Yet another fish a rarely get the opportunity to catch. It measured in at 16.5" and in the excitement I forgot to weigh it. I've only caught dinker sauger in the past so it was easily another personal best and also a Fish Ohio trophy of 16"+. Two personal bests in a row, this day couldn't get better.
16.5" Sauger
16.5" Sauger
I stayed in the cove a bit longer with no more bites before heading out into the main river. The river was at 54 degrees. At this point I switched up to a medium size spoon. It didn't take long for me to find out that the hybrids were biting as well. My second hybrid of the day ended up being my biggest of the day at 19.5" and 2lbs 12oz.
2lb 12oz 19.5" Hybrid Striped Bass
I fished various areas that I had never fished before and continued to pick off hybrids on the spoon every 15-30 minutes for the remainder of the day which included two more over 18" with the majority being in the 10-14" range. There was even a white bass and a spotted bass in the mix. The fish definitely weren't schooled up tight but they were biting. I caught equal amounts of fish on a steady reel and jigging the spoon. Some fish were a little bit deeper, some were shallow, most likely wherever they had some bait schooled up. The bite picked up slightly around 5:00pm and slowed down around 6:30pm. By 8:00pm the bite was all but dead. At about 9:00pm I caught my final hybrid of the day which was the third 18"+ of the day. I took the opportunity to see how the GoPro handled a night picture, not so well as it turns out.

By 9:30pm I decided to call it quits as I'd only had one bite in the past hour which was the fish pictured above. I ended up catching 15 hybrids along with the other miscellaneous species for a 5 species day. It's days like these that keep me thirsty for more. Can't wait to get back out there.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shimano Stradic vs Pflueger Patriarch

With fall in full force and daylight savings time concluding my weekday fishing options are very limited. Seeing how I don't get home from work til 4:00pm and it is completely dark by 6:00pm. This makes it a perfect time to clean and review some of the gear that I have been using over the past couple years. So today I'll be putting a couple higher end spinning reels up in a head to head comparison. Specifically the Shimano Stradic CI4 3000F and the Pflueger Patriarch 9540. These two reels have become my go-to spinning reels.

I'll start with the Shimano Stradic CI4 3000F.
Shimano Stradic CI4 3000F
This reel has done nothing but please. The 3000F model that I own was the medium size option rated for 140yds of 10lb mono. Primarily I have used this reel for light bass and crappie tackle, I've kept it spooled with 8lb mono. Out of the box reeling was smooth as butter, significantly smoother than anything I had ever used. After owning this reel for nearly two year now I can honestly say it is still every bit as smooth to this day. The drag is very comparable in smoothness as well and has never let me down. The carbon construction of this reel provides exceptional durability in a lightweight package (7.2oz for the 3000 size). Something else I want to note is the reel contains 6 ball bearings. Compared to some reels this may seem pretty average but I have found that it isn't always about the quantity of bearings but rather the quality. With all that said I have absolutely no complaints with this reel. Check out the complete stats on the Stradic here.

On to the Plueger Patriarch 9540.
Plueger Patriarch 9540
This reel has been a solid performer. One of my first trips if not the first trip out using this reel I actually caught I very nice hybrid striper so I quickly gained confidence in it. The 9540 model that I own is a larger model rated for 200yds of 10lb mono. Primarily this has been a larger bass bait reel and even a carp reel on the few carp trips I made this year. I keep it spooled with 10lb mono. The Patriarch was also very smooth out of the box, although not quite as smooth as the Stradic. The drag was solid but not nearly as smooth as the Stradic again. One of the first things I noticed about this reel was the visible carbon handle and arbor, again carbon provides great strength in a light weight package. The 9540 weighs in at 8.1oz which is awesome for the size of this reel. I've not had any problems with this reel and it still functions nearly as good as it did the day I got it. My only complaint is it has developed a little noise when reeling. Check out the complete stats on the Patriarch here.

Both of these reels are in the $200 price range which is on the expensive side in my collection of reels. Are they worth it? So far I would say yes. Durability is one of the strongest considerations when I'm buying a reel and so far both of these reels have performed in that category. If I'm going to pay top dollar for a reel I definitely want it to last me a long time. So which reel is better? The choice is pretty obvious. Hands down the Shimano Stradic takes the crown. As I stated before this reel has done nothing but please and anyone looking for a new spinning reel in the $200 dollar range should strongly consider the Stradic.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Seat Base and GoPro Upgrades for the NuCanoe

This weekend to avoid the 15-30mph winds I decided to get some things done around the house and add some new upgrades to my NuCanoe Frontier 12. The first upgrade was a new seat base. About a month ago NuCanoe came out with a new lighter, stronger, and raised seat base. This seat base is to come standard on the 2014 model frontiers and they offered a 33% discount to all previous frontier owners. Needless to say, I took advantage of the 33% discount and made the purchase. This week my new base finally arrived. After taking the new seat base out of its box the first thing I tried was standing on it to see how strong it really felt. It was rock solid with barely any give. Installation was simple, here's some pictures.

The extra height made my seat even comfortable and the extra storage space underneath will definitely come in handy.

Next I had a new GoPro to mount. I knew I wanted to have some better options than the Yak Attack Panfish Portrait that I already had. I wanted to raise the camera up higher than the Panfish Portrait was capable of to make for some better pictures and potentially be able to film me standing and fishing. I knew Yak Attack made some additional components that would be perfect for this and I also had a $25 gift certificate to Hook1 that I won in the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail so that's where I started. After browsing the Hook1 website and having a conversation with Chad at Hook1 I had made up my mind what to purchase. I purchased the Yak Attack Panfish (not to be confused with the Panfish Portrait), a Yak Attack 11" extension arm, and a GoPro tripod mount. My package from Hook1 arrived this week as well, shipping was extremely fast as always.
From top to bottom: Yak Attack Panfish, Yak Attack 11" Extension Arm, and Yak Attack Panfish Portrait
 The GoPro tripod mount actually came with two different mounts.
GoPro Tripod Mounts
My preference was the mount on the left which would allow me to slide the GoPro in and out easily with one of the stock mounts while the mount on the right would require me to unscrew the camera to remove it. Here's the mount installed on the Panfish Portrait.

With the combination of the Yak Attack Panfish, Panfish Portrait, and 11" extension arm this gave me four different combinations of height to mount my GoPro. Not only that but I could mount it anywhere on the stock NuCanoe rails or on the Yak Attack Geartrac's and Mighty Mounts I have installed. Here's the four possible height configurations.
Panfish Portrait Only
Panfish Portrait + 11" Extension Arm
Panfish Only
Panfish + 11" Extension Arm
After taking dozens of videos/pictures from various locations and height configurations I decided my favorite option for typical hero shots was the Panfish only mounted on my middle Geartrac which is the mounting location seen in the four pictures above. I also found that the Panfish/11" Extension combo mounted in either a rear mighty mount or in a front Geartrac would be great for filming myself standing and fishing. Now all I have to do is capture some great video and pictures.

At this point I have finally got my NuCanoe to the point of what I imagined when I originally bought it and I couldn't be happier with it. Will hopefully share some videos soon!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ohio River Round 2

Sunday, 11/3, I took another trip to the Ohio River in hopes to find another hot wiper bite. This time around I started out with a 1.5" white grub on a 1/8oz jig, a Smack Tackle Flitterbait, and a Smack Tackle Gizz crankbait. My intention was to head to the warm water discharge again but this time I was going to make a stop at the hot spot from last Sunday on my way just to make sure it wasn't a good spot in general. The river was up about 1ft and contained a good bit of drift wood. I arrived at the hot spot to calm waters, I hardly expected fish to be blowing up the surface again. I threw the Smack Tackle baits around for about 30 minutes without any bites so I moved on to the discharge.

Not much had changed at the discharge. I noticed it was still infested with baby gar. This time I brought a couple rope lures with me so I tied one on. After 15 minutes of casting the rope lure I hadn't had a bite. I figured my rope lure was a little too large and intimidating for the baby gar. Two hours went by and I couldn't find a bite. I snagged the Flitterbait and switched to a swimbait. Shortly after I cast the swimbait into some slack water and got my first hit. It was a decent smallmouth measuring 13.75". An Ohio River smallmouth is always special since they are still a mystery to me.
13.75" Smallmouth Bass

I continued on without any more bites at the discharge which has been slow the past two trips now. So I headed back to the hot spot to see if the wipers wanted to come out and play at dusk once again. I spent an hour throwing all three of my baits around. There was an occasional splash on the surface but nothing near what occurred last week. I was getting a small bite every now and again on all three of the baits. I even hooked what appeared to be a small largemouth or smallmouth that came off the hook. Finally I told myself, "Alright, three more casts and then call it". I took three long casts with the crankbait across the area where I had seen the most surface disturbance. Sure enough I hook something on my third and final cast. It was a small 11.5" wiper. So I ended up staying for a few more casts after that but with no luck. On my way back down river I snapped a picture of the sunset.

On a side note, I got featured on the Kayak Angler Magazine Grip and Grin with the 15" crappie I caught A few weeks ago. Many thanks to Neil for sending that picture to them. You can see the article at http://www.rapidmedia.com/photos-kayak-fishing/item/1901-grip-and-grin-ohio-crappie.html