Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Know Knot What I Do

Fly Fishing

When it comes to fly fishing, tying a knot is not the most glamorous of subjects. Without a knot, however, you’ll not be snatching the Muskie of your dreams.

Fly Fishing Knots

First thing first, we need to get the lingo down since we wont be using illustrations in this article. Three basic terms will cover practically any aspect of the knot tying process. “Tag end” refers to the last ten inches of so of line you are holding in your hand, to wit, the pointy part you will be pushing through and wrapping around things. “Standing end” refers to the rest of the line. Yes, very complicated and difficult to understand. “Wrap” refers to the action wherein you move the tag end of the line one full revolution around the standing end. The wrap can also be called a turn, but you have the general idea.

As with practically anything in fly fishing, there are an infinite number of variations to knots. Mysterious variations include the Steroidius Double Flip [good for catching professional athlete fish], the Marigold Hammer [good for catching the neighbor’s plants while practicing in your back yard] and the Wifeous Annoyous [a complex knot that gets you in trouble with the wife since you’re supposed to be painting the garage], but you probably start with the “Aarrgg, Dammit…” knot common to beginners.

Fisherman’s Knot

Other than tying your shoes, the easiest knot to learn is the fisherman’s knot. Get your hook in one hand and tag end in the other. And a one and a two…

1. As you proceed, keep everything slack. We will be passing the tag end through loops we create. DO NOT tighten anything until told to!

2. Pull the tag end through the eye of the hook.

3. Bend the tag end back to the standing end and wrap four or five times. Make sure you do not tighten the wrap. [You should now have a closed loop through the hook.]

4. Take your tag end and push it through the loop formed by the wrap. Do not push it through the hook eye, just the bigger loop of line.

5. You will have just created another loop and should pass the tag end through again.

6. Slowly pull on the hook and stag end until the knot is tight. Watch those fingers.

Congratulations! If you’ve tied the perfect knot, it is time to hit local fishing spot. If you’ve made a mess of it, try again. Either way, you get to avoid painting the garage.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Fishing the Fall Salmon Run in Michigan - A Beginner's Guide


by: Gary Higbee

I decided to write this guide because a couple of years ago I was the "beginner." I don't claim to be a master at it, but I have lost my fair share of fish and have put a few in the freezer each year. Let me start by saying that, to the best of my knowledge, Michigan has the best Salmon fishery in the United States except for Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest (which is where our Salmon were originally stocked from). I also have to say that once you hook one, you will be "hooked" on the experience. I have broken this article into several parts to keep it organized, and from time to time the article will be updated as I learn more about it. This year I am going to try fly-fishing for the Salmon as well as bait fishing.

About the Fish

Salmon stocking started in Michigan in 1967 to combat the excessive Alewife population. The first species to be stocked was the Coho. As time went on the Chinook was added to the mix. Since that time they have taken off, and between the naturally reproduction that occurs and the DNR stocking we now have one of the best salmon fisheries anywhere. For pictures of the fish please refer to the Michigan Fishing Regulation book for the current year. In addition to the Coho and Chinook salmon you may also occasionally catch a Pink Salmon or Atlantic Salmon, but to the best of my knowledge it doesn't happen often. Maybe someone reading this can correct me if I am wrong.

Where to Go

We are lucky to have access to a state that has such a diverse fishery. Very few states have as many lakes and rivers as we do, or have the variety of fish that live there. For our particular purposes we need rivers that drain into the Great Lakes, since that is where the salmon spend their adult lives. If you search the internet you will find many rivers that have salmon such as the Muskegon, Big Manistee, Little Manistee, Pere Marquette, and Betsie, just to name a few. Some of these rivers have naturally reproducing populations of Salmon while others are stocked by the DNR. There are also several rivers in the Upper Peninsula that play host to salmon in the fall. In all the rivers you have to pay close attention to the fishing regulations because certain sections of the rivers may be closed to fishing to protect the spawning fish or have limitations on the gear you can fish with.

When to Go

The main salmon run occurs every fall. There is no set start date, but you can usually start to see fish in the river in early September, and expect the run to be pretty much done by the end of October. A lot of this depends on the weather. A lack of rain and/or warm weather can make the run start later, and extra rain with cooler temperatures can cause the run to start a little earlier. I guess it all depends on when the fall rains and cooler temperatures hit the area. If you go to the rivers during September and October you are going to eventually find fish, it's just a matter of timing it to catch the big run.

How to Fish For Them

This article is only going to cover techniques for the fisherman who wades. Most fishermen use either a spinning rod or fly rod and do the Chuck-and-Duck method. I believe this fishing method was named by the fly-fisherman because of the extra weight involved and the problem of getting hit in the head (Been There-Done That). You can also cast flies, such as Wooly Buggers, egg patterns, streamers, nymphs, and probably others I don't know about yet. Yet another method is to suspend spawn, flies, or jigs below a float of some type. Whatever rig you choose you will need some waders, a net of some type, a head-lamp or other light source for night fishing, rain-gear, and some warm clothes.

The Chuck-n-Duck method usually involves a three-way swivel, some type of weight, and a hook with salmon eggs or yarn balls. I have also seen anglers use flies or plugs instead of the hook and spawn. A diagram can bee seen at Figure 1 which is listed at the end of the article.

I personally prefer to use about a 3' leader when I fish this method but you will have to experiment and modify it to fit the conditions. If the fish are spooky you might need to lengthen the leader a bit more. You can also do a modified version of this without the three way swivel by using rubber-core sinkers for weight. To do this, tie the hook directly to your main line and then connect a rubber-core sinker above the hook about 18" for weight. This will get your lure into the current but not necessarily bouncing on the bottom. Again, you will have to experiment with the length of line between the weight and the hook, but I would keep it at least 12" from the hook. A diagram of this rig can be seen in Figure 2 which is listed at the end of the article.

Fishing flies for salmon is gaining in popularity. I have not tried it yet, but plan too this year. I understand that the usual flies are either egg patterns, woolybugger variations, big streamers, and egg-sucking leaches. I am going to try them all and see if I can get a hit. The nice thing about fishing the flies is that you also run the chance of hooking other trout species while searching for the salmon. If you want more professional instruction on fly-fishing for salmon there are several outfitters that are offering the service now. Do an internet search on it and you should have little difficulty finding one.

Thank you

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Catfish Can Smell

cat fishtango

NOW, we all know that catfish can smell right? They love stink!

? Lb. Limburger Cheese
Oatmeal (finely ground oatmeal is best)

Melt cheese over medium heat. When thoroughly melted remove from heat and mix in oatmeal until the mixture is stiff enough to stay on a hook. Try adding other ingredients in addition to the oatmeal such as liver meal, hog or dairy feed, or finely ground chicken livers.
Gutting a Shad

Most anglers know that shad guts make excellent catfish bait.The gut of the gizzard shad usually gets the most bites.This firm,tough piece of meat usually gets the most bites.

You can fish with.....

Fresh shad Gut: After catching the shad and removing the gut, you can begin to immediately fish with this bait.Although this bait will work anywhere at anytime,it seems the most productive in tailrace areas.

Frozen shad gut: Works fine, just remember not to thaw out more shad guts than you can possibly use during your fishing trip.Keep in a cooler until ready to use.
Aged shad cuts: Take the fresh shad guts and place them in a sealed Ziplock bag, and leave them in the sun for 3 to 6 hours, depending on the temperature, so that the guts become rancid but not rotten.

Scrap Bait

Take odd pieces of cut-up fish, clams, minnows, crawfish and eels, and put them in a loosely-covered glass jar. Leave this mixture until it turns to oil.Then mix one part oil of anise with five parts of fish oil. Use this as a dip for catfish baits.

Peanut Butter Concoction

Here's a old favorite stink bait recipe that uses 80% cheese, at least 3 years old, 5% calf starter that you can purchase at any feed store, 5% dried animal blood, 5% peanut butter and flour. Mix all the ingredients together, except the flour, until it reaches a creamy texture.Slowly add flour a little bit at a time, and continue blending until you achieve the right consistency.Use this bait with either sponge baits or tube baits.

Cheese and Honey Sponge Bait

Cook a large amount of cheese in a large flat disposable cake-pan over a open fire. Cook until thoroughly melted and hot. Next add 4 or 5 tablespoons of honey to the cheese,stirring the honey into the cheese and continuing to cook until you've thoroughly blended the mixture together.Cut up a 1/4-inch thick sponge into 1 inch squares.Use forks or tongs to lay out the sponges into the hot mixture.After the sponges has absorbed the cheese bait on one side, turn the sponges over, and let the other side soak it up.Transfer the sponges to a sheet of tinfoil,until cool and dry. Store in ziplock storage baggies until ready to use.Freezing's OK.

If you want to catch catfish,
try this home made bait:

1 carton chicken livers
1 package of limburger cheese.
Enough flour to stiffen the bait.

You'll need rubber or plastic gloves for the first part. Put the gloves on and mush the limburger, and chicken livers. Mix until thoroughly blended. Then mix in flour until you get the consistency you want. Let set in the sun for at least 4 days with the lid slightly open. (The bait will rise slightly.) Use this bait with catfish worms, or sponge hooks.

Squid!?. . .
Has any one ever used squid for bait? One time I was planning on going catfishing. I went around to all the stores in the hole town and no one had any mackerel or chicken livers. I was talking to this one butcher about going fishing he told me that they had no mackerel but he could give me some squid, yes, squid! He gave it to me for free, I thought what the heck, so I gave it a try and I never caught so many cats! Plus the skin is tough so it stays on the hook when you cast and you can use it over and over again so bait up and hang on!!!

Suckers. . .
One of the best all around baits I have found is “sucker meat”. Suckers can be found almost anywhere, and when you are cat fishing, you will more then likely catch a few. The trick here is to “leave the skin on” your bait pieces, and start the hook through the skin side so that the sharp point of the hook comes out into the meat side. This will make it almost impossible for the “nibblers” to get your bait off your hook, and the fish don't seem to mind that the skin is still on the bait.

O.K. You have tried the rest,
NOW try the Best....
Wheaties & raw Hamburger!!! Yes, you read it right! Make dough bait of Wheaties & water (just a-Nuff to make a very firm ball), now mix in an equal part of the cheapest Burger you can find (cats love cholesterol) Now throw in just a pinch of garlic powder & BAM!

Fish this mix under a slip bobber with the bait 1-2 inches off the bottom. I wade the lower White River (Indy area) & KILL THEM CAT"S using this bait! Just put on a ball about the size of a grape on the hook, drop it in the current & let it drift downstream 40 or 50 yards, if ya ain't got a fish on by then (a rare occurrence, but it could happen from time to time) reel it back in & try again, if you have trouble keeping this goop on your hook (ya put too much water in the wheaties) try using some of that plastic netting ya get when ya buy a bag of onions, you know the stuff! It seems to work a lot better than "PANTY HOSE" & your wife won't look at ya cross eyed when you ask for it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Summer Walleyes


With spring quickly slipping past us, we are on a crash course for the doldrums of the fishing season. Hot, sticky days without even the slightest movement of air. Sun rays so intense, you feel as if you are being baked alive in your boat. These are the dog days of summer, and can prove to be the most difficult walleye bite of the year.

Despite these less than desirable conditions though, there is some fantastic fishing to be had if you just key in on a few factors.

Location is the first thing to focus on. Now that the water temperatures are soaring, the fish will be leaving their spring habitat and making the transition to their summer haunts. Generally speaking, this is the main body of the lake which usually offers the greatest depths. The fish often suspend in these waters out from points, humps, islands and other main lake structure. The best thing to do when faced with this situation is to slowly motor over potential fish holding areas and watch your sonar. I highly recommend a high pixel unit as this will act as your eyes beneath the water. The Lowrance X85 is my personal choice with 240 vertical pixels as well as speed and temperature read outs. Once you have determined the area you want to fish, get out your rod holders and start up that kicker. Trolling is the best way to catch these fish as it allows you to cover a lot of territory and quickly eliminate areas that are not productive. Walleyes will often be deep this time of year. How deep, you might ask? Well, that depends on such factors as water clarity, boat traffic, bait fish, etc.. Last year in July, I caught fish as deep as 60 feet and talked to people going even deeper than that. During low light periods and windy days though, walleyes will often come up quite shallow. Put out as many lines as is legal and stagger the depths of each bait. This enables you to put a lure in several target areas at the same time. Once you catch a few fish at a certain depth, run all your lines in that zone. It is also a good idea to use planer boards which do two things to aid your presentation. First, they give your trolling path much wider coverage. Second, they keep lures out away from the boat which will sometimes get you strikes from otherwise spooky fish.

So what is the best bait to use? There is no magic answer to this question but it is hard to beat a crankbait. These lures can be trolled at high speeds which, once again, enables you to cover a large area quickly and seek out the fish that are actively feeding. There are many kinds that catch fish but Rapala crankbaits seem to put fish in the boat when nothing else will. The Shad Raps and Deep Husky Jerks are favorites among walleye fishermen everywhere and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. For color selection, a good rule to follow is natural colors in clear water and bright colors in stained water.

As the dog days of summer set in on us, don't get discouraged. Load up the boat and head for the lake. Bring some sun block, a cooler full of drinks, and your favorite crankbaits. It may take a while to find them, but the walleyes are waiting!

By Samuel Forbes

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Gettin' em Hooked for Life

Fishing in NY

I confess. I can't keep it a secret any longer and as difficult as this is to admit, it must be said: I'm an addict and a pusher.

That's right. It's true. I've been hopelessly addicted since I was only six years old. And guess what? My dad was a pusher and, believe it or not, he's the one who got me hooked.

I'll never forget that first high. Wow! What a rush! It left me with a lump in my throat. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and my entire body was shaking and trembling. After that first, smooth catch-and-release, I was left with an almost insatiable craving -- a deep burning desire to feel that same rush again and again and again. Right then and there I knew I was hooked for life.

When I was a kid, being hooked was easy to hide. My friends were all "Fishin' Junkies"-- each and every one of us was a mainliner. We needed our daily dose of fishing straight to the brain and we'd do almost anything to get it.

Afterwards, once I was married, my addiction was much harder to hide. At first it was only on weekends. I'd slyly tell my wife I was just going down to the store or out for awhile. Eventually, I'd show up at home well after dark and quietly slide into the house -- always hoping she wouldn't wake up and catch a whiff of that lingering fishy smell that always seemed to permeate my clothing and follow me no matter where I went. I knew the fishy odor would eventually give me away, so I tried to conceal it. I tried scrubbing my hands with toothpaste and strong soaps, but nothing seemed to work. Once after hearing it was a cure for skunk-sprayed dogs, I bathed in tomato juice, but even that didn't work.

As my habit worsened I'd slip away fishing every day after work. And then, I started missing work days altogether. It was becoming a serious issue. Close friends and my wife would casually ask if I was having any problems, was everything OK? I could never see a problem and single-mindedly maintained that everything was just fine. Clearly, the denial scenario had set in.

I became expert at hiding my high-priced fishing paraphernalia. Dozens of rods, reels, lures, nets and a top-of-the-line boat -- nothing but the best for me -- thousands of hard-earned dollars' worth. Always handy, but stashed away where no one would ever dream of looking.

I'll never forget the day I got caught -- the day the denial finally ended. Arriving home after a secret rendezvous with some silvery-sided coho up on Carefree Creek, my wife stared wide- eyed at my pants covered in small, sparkling fish scales. There was no getting out of this one. She most definitely had me. I squirmed, stuttered and stammered, although in the end I reluctantly confirmed her suspicions and told her that I'd been out, "ffffffishing."

Around our house, over the next week, the tension was so thick you could cut it with knife. I tried my usual lines with no success, my wife was wise to my tricks. Every day after work she found chores for me. One day I cut the lawn, another day I fixed the roof, then I cleaned up some large branches that had fallen. That was a big mistake. As I lifted one of those branches it felt like a twin to my sturgeon rod. I floated off into a dream world -- I was hallucinating and vividly imagined a huge diamond-sided beast of a fish pulling for all it was worth on my limb-like fishin' pole. That is until my wife brought me back to reality with a good, sharp rap to the side of the head.

Well, that's the story of my lifelong addiction. At the present time I'm enrolled in a rehabilitation program for overindulged fishing addicts. Our group, that meets each and every weekend, rain or shine, includes both men and women, the young, as well as the old. Why heck, some of my friends and neighbors attend these meetings. For therapy on the hopeless and most pitiful cases old Dr. Piscatorial has prescribed only one medication -- plenty of fishing and fun, as often as required.

Perhaps, after all is said and done, my entire family should get the blame for getting me hopelessly hooked on fishin'. Thinking back, they were all a pack of pushers. My mom and dad were both pushers; my uncles and aunts were pushers; my own brother was a pusher. They pushed me into every fishing trip they could afford. Now, I'm a pusher. I'm pushing my kids, the neighborhood kids and the kids at school. Truthfully, I'm pushing any kid. I give them their first sweet taste of fishing and the great outdoors -- hoping like any good pusher, that I can get them all hooked for life.

Ken Kristian

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Casting for the right fishing rods


Rods are an essential piece of the puzzle whether you're fly fishing, surf fishing, or deep-sea trolling. It's almost as if the fish can sense the quality of your rod even with the feet of water between you and him. Why bother getting reeled in by this piece of junk, they might say.

Seriously, the right rod has a serious impact on your skills. For instance, with flying , a proper rod can directly affect how well you cast. The wrong rod could leave you well wide of your wanted mark, whereas a high caliber rod can put you precisely where you want to be.

Plus, high quality fishing rods are also much more dependable than junkers. You may be able to pick up a rod on the cheap and save a few bucks, but imagine the feeling when that rod falls apart at the wrong moment. Say, you are finally on that vacation with your buddies to Minnesota, pull out on one of those beautiful one thousand lakes, when you're rod snaps apart in your hands. That's not a pretty picture to say the least.

Now that you're sure you need a quality rod, here are some of the telltale signs that you should look for. Check out the make and composition of your rod. Today's strongest and lightest models come with graphite composition or other alloys. Examine the cork, too. It should not require any tape or extra glue to fit to blank. The guides should be of a strong durable metal and perhaps even coated with some sort of rust protectant.

With these qualities in mind among others, do a thorough job with your research. Put as much effort into finding the right fishing rods as you would investing in the best set of golf clubs.

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