I have been fishing since I could walk. At some point, I talked my Dad into buying me a fishing package advertised on a comic book…. 6 ft. rod, open-face spinning reel, plastic tackle box, stringer, bobber, a package of hooks and a plastic weight for casting. I practiced casting in the yard for hours. I decided I needed a lure to cast so I went to the local bait shop. A wooden floating Rapala caught my eye. Its still the best lure I have ever used.
Rapala Original Floater
Rapala fishing lures have been around since the 1930’s when Lauri Rapala introduced the wooden minnow called the Original Floater. This is the first lure I bought. I don’t remember how much it cost, but I cut quite a few lawns to buy it. I think my original lure was 3 ” long. It was wooden with a medium bill and thin treble hooks. The lure rans to 3′ down. I still use that model in a number of ways for almost any kind of game fish. Its the best lure I have.
On the Surface
The original floater was made to run in shallow water, but it floated. I found that on calm mornings, over weeds or in lilypads, retrieving the lure on the surface was deadly. I would retrieve at varying speeds stopping and jiggling the stationary lure. Extending my finger over the bail would cause the lure, as I started to retrieve again, to jerk while moving forward. In warm water of up to 30 feet, surface retrieve worked.
Medium Depth Running
The bill on this lure created a dive of up 3 feet. Casting over any kind of deeper cover with a retrieve fast enough for depth is always productive. I learned to stop the retrieve for just a second, not long enough for the lure to float upward. Then begin the retrieve with a fairly serious jerk.
One summer I decided to use my Rapala to catch lake trout. They were deep. With a stiff boat rod and a bait casting reel, I dropped a lure using a make shift down-rigger. I trolled as I rowed a small boat. Success!! I learned that the Rapala worked at any depth. I just needed to rig it for the depth I wanted to fish.
That same shape has always worked for me in salt water. The smaller model is a killer during mackerel runs. Large models, up to 7″, that are deeper diving work on stripped bass. Jigging a small Rapala is a great way to bottom fish. I always have several Rapalas in my salt water tackle box. I use brighter colors in the ocean. This Giant Firetiger is a great example. Larger models attract any larger predators.
Lots of Lures
Rapala Fishing Lures makes an entire series of models. The variation on the original, that I like best, is the jointed minnow. There is also a solid and jointed chad that is popular. I don’t find
this lure as versatile as the original. The rattle bait has become popular over the last ten years. I find motion more important than sound in coaxing a strike. Rapala also makes a jerk bait that comes in various sizes. If retrieved properly, it can be a lot of fun.
I guess I just stick to what has worked and what is familiar. Over the years I have tried all kinds of fishing systems. I always come back to Rapala. They make the best bass lure I have used. The Original Floater is my favorite.
Take a moment to share your thoughts in the comment section below. What is your favorite lure? Is it versatile? How long have you been using it?
Your boat is your most expensive piece of fishing equipment. At the end of every fishing season, winterizing boats is important. Proper winterization makes spring launching easier and saves your boat from damage while sitting.
Storing the Boat
Your boat should be thoroughly cleaned, inside and out, before being stored for the winter. This is particularly important if it sat in the water all summer. In fresh water, algae can grow on the hull. Floating dirt gets caught in the algae. If not cleaned, the hull will eventually stain. Salt water can eat away metal fixtures and damage unprotected fiberglass and wood.
The boat has is covered with beer and food. There are mud and sand deposits everywhere. Often water saturates floor boards or carpet. Food and beer can stain the floor and upholstery. Moisture can cause mildew.
A pressure washer with boat detergent will do the trick. Before washing, remove the drain plug. Rinse the boat with water. Soap the boat in and out. Scrub the boat and rinse again. Let the boat dry completely inside before covering it for the winter. Tilt the bow of the boat up slightly to allow the wash water to drain after cleaning and to allow rain water to run off more easily if stored outside.
Preparing Your Trailer
Whether your boat is stored inside or outside, there are some things that should be done with the trailer. Raising the bow of the boat has already been mentioned. Its also important to block at least one wheel of the trailer. Its a good idea to block one wheel and the hitch. Because boat trailers move fairly easily moved on a trailer, blocking is used to reduce the risk of accidentally pushing the boat and trailer into another rig.
Even if your boat is stored indoors or outdoors in a fairly secure place, a trailer lock is a good idea. This can be a cable locking a wheel or a hitch lock. Both types of locks can be removed with some effort, but no lock makes taking boat and trailer just too easy.
If you have access to your boat, while it’s being stored, its a good idea to open the cover from time to time allowing the boat to “air out.” If your boat is exposed to the elements during storage, condensation can form on the inside of the boat cover causing mildew to form on the cover and the boat interior.
Storing Your Motor
Whether you have an outboard, a direct drive or an IO, your motor should be prepared for storage. Its a good idea to drain the engine block on water cooled motors. This is a must in cold climates. Many newer models have easy disconnect hoses that allow for quick draining. Older engines have drain plugs on the bottom of the block. This can prevent sediment and rust from causing problems.
The lower unit on an IO or an outboard should be drained. Engine can be installed to prevent rusting if needed. Sewing machine oil can be placed on the cylinders of an outboard engine and worked into the cylinders to present ceasing. The IO unit should not touch the ground. This can prevent accidental damage if the boat is moved. But, the unit should not be left fully trimmed because of the tension put on the trim mechanism over the months.
An appropriate additive should be used to preserve what gas is left over from the summer.
Winterizing Boats – Tips and Tricks
Be sure to remove any equipment from your boat or any unattached pieces on the trailer.
A bungee cord from one cleat to another under the IO unit can relieve pressure on the trim.
Removing the battery and storing it in a warm dry place, off of cement, can prolong its life.
Old (clean) shop rags can be placed over pointed edges on the boat to preserve the cover.
3/4″ PVC pipe can be used to build a stand to hold up the boat cover. Use your imagination.
If you do lock your trailer, make sure that the storage facility has a key.
A boat is a big investment. If it needs major cleaning or work when you are ready to fish, it becomes a big frustration. If you know how to winterize a boat and do it properly, the start of boating season will be much more fun.
Share your thoughts winterizing boats in the comment section below. What works for you, will work for others.
State parks can provide great fishing. We think of county and state parks as great places to hike, camp, picnic and play. When there is a lake, there is so much more to do. Type “state parks” or “county parks” into your browser. You will probably find a list of parks, in your state, that offer fishing and boating. These parks are accessible and inexpensive. They can be a vacation destination out of state or a great day trip. Fishing lodges and guided trips are great, but not a possibility for everyone. Not everybody can get to an isolated lake or stream to fish. Accessible fishing in parks can be fun for the family or someone who wants to get away for a few hours of fishing.
Fishing at County and State Parks
Parks provide the same fishing as any water in the region. In many places, rainbow trout are stocked by the parks system. These fish are hardy and adapt quickly in water with adequate oxygen and temperature. Man-made lakes can form a healthy, water ecosystem allowing predatory fish to thrive. One tiny, county lake in central California provides great bass, many well over 10 pounds.
Trolling or still fishing from a boat is most productive because its easy to move from spot to spot. The lake inlet is a great place for action. If the lake is artificial, deep water along the dam can be very productive.
A spot on the bank can be fun, too. Most parks maintain walking paths on some part of the lake. If someone in the family doesn’t like to fish, a hike along the lake can fill the time. In the right spot, kids can cast without concern for brush and trees. The day can be spent sitting in one spot or walking the shoreline fishing at likely spots.
Park lakes can provide a relaxing day in nature or some great fishing. With access controlled, the number of people on and around the lakes usually doesn’t get out of hand. The protected environment supports a healthy fish population. In many lakes, regular stocking adds to that population.
Boating at County and State Parks
County parks often provide some kind of boat rentals. Row boats and paddle boats are the most common form of boat rental. They require little maintenance. They also minimize the need for assistance, by park staff, because of break-down. Many parks offer boats with electric motors. If the lake is small, non-power boats protect the lake bottom and banks with the possibility of covering the whole lake on any excursion.
Larger lakes often rent power boats. These are usually 12- 15 ft. boats with small outboards. There are lots of lakes that rent ski boats as well as pontoon boats for touring. Some county lakes even offer house boats. Almost all parks allow the use of personal kayaks, canoes and paddle boats. Parks with large lakes allow power boating. They provide launch ramps for a fee. Facilities for lakes within park boundaries usually operate from dawn to dusk. Because of accessibility, launch times may be by reservation. As well, parking space may be limited as a means of controlling the number of boats on the lake. In most cases, gas is not available at state or county parks. Camp stores and restaurants are common. Park websites to list amenities you can expect.
Activities at State and County Parks
Parks with lakes offer fishing for everyone from the trophy angler to the novice dropping live bait over the side of a rowboat to the kid catching tiny bluegills from the bank. Well, used spots on banks not only provide fishing, but a place to sit and relax in nature. For a small entrance fee, which provides for park administration and maintenance, you can be in nature enjoying fishing as much as hard core folks who have backpacked into an isolated lake. But, this fishing trip is accessible from your home.
If someone wants a break from fishing, hiking is fun in most parks. Trails around lakes are scenic. Off lake trails are usually well marked in terms of distance and difficulty. If critters might be a problem, alerts are posted often with advice on how to react to some of the more wild visitors to the park. Many parks maintain stair systems to assist with steep inclines. As with any hike, its a good idea to take water and some food. Tables are provided at many parks to encourage picnicking.
Most parks provide some kind of information about the fish, wildlife and vegetation found in the park. This can take the form of guided tours on trails that provide easy access to trees, plants and flowers. Sometimes there are classes about things of interest in the park. In larger parks, films provide of a view of more isolated parts of the environment. Sign boards are also used to educate. They provide pictures and facts on fish and wildlife in the park. Often, the history of the park is displayed. Parks may have exhibits of past industry such as logging, mining or fishing. Education isn’t boring when its combined with a day at a lake.
Park staff do more than greet and collect fees. They answer questions and provide suggestions that enhance the day in the park. Many parks have small stores providing everything from clothes to bait. Fishing licenses are on sale, for customer convenience, in the stores. Restroom facilities placed around the park take some out the “natural” out of the park experience. Staff will periodically patrol the lake, by boat and on foot, checking for licenses and ensuring that park rules are followed. This protects the safety of the park and visitors. The ranger station is the place to go with questions or for help.
Don’t abandon the idea of a fishing trip because its too difficult to get to the water in the short amount of time available. Type “state parks in your state” into your browser. Or, look up county parks with lakes in your area. You’ll discover some great spots to create fishing memories. There are two simple rules to be remembered whenever you are spending time in nature: Carry in – Carry Out; Push Through Don’t Cut.
When asked what he thought about a county lake in California, Mitchell looked out at the water and said, “Its so peaceful. Its so fun.” That pretty well sums it up.
Take a moment to leave a comment below. Is there a park with a lake near you? How often do you use it?
Every fisherman wants to find hidden fishing spots with untouched water. Anglers ask, “Is there a good fishing spot near me?” It might be a rock sheltering fish in a creek. A drop off near the shore of a lake may attract feeding fish. A spring fed pond off the beaten trail attracts few people. A boat makes it easy to find an isolated spot on a lake or river. On board electronics make it even easier. On land, with so many people fishing, hidden fishing spots can be hard to find, but offer more fish.
GPSing Fishing Spots
You can find great fishing spots on old-school maps. Map and compass will get you to isolated spots. But, you have to be able to read a map. As well, you have to trust the compass. There are lots of people fishing. The closer to populated areas you are the more fishing pressure there is. Most people cannot navigate with a map and compass. These tools can relieve the fishing pressure.
A GPS is a valuable tool for finding you way to the body of water. How an you go wrong when someone tells you about every turn? Locating a specific spot, on that body of water, is fairly easy with a hand held model. Trust is still a major factor once you are off the road. But how do you find where to head off the road? How do you know when to begin to follow your GPS out of the parking lot? With miles of shore line, how are you going to find great fishing spots?
Find a Trail, Find Fish
If you don’t mind working your way through the brush with a map or GPS, just start walking to where you want to go. That’s called orienteering. Chances are, if you aren’t at a completely isolate body of water, other people will have moved through the woods toward some spot they know. Look for small trails. They will often lead you to get fishing spots. Of course, someone might have used the trail just before you. The trail, in the picture above, is fairly wide so its well used. But, at the beginning of the trail, there are no disturbed leaves or footprints. There is an undisturbed fall branch. This trail hasn’t been used for awhile. I am going to walk it and see where I end up on the water.
At times, I want to discover new spots. At other times, I will fish where others have done the work of creating a tiny trail.
Follow Run-off, Find Fish
Sometimes you know where the water is, but there is not trail. You can work your way through brush and trees. If I know I am higher than the water I want to fish, I will look for a tiny creek flowing to the larger water. If I find a dry run-off bed, I often will follow it to the water. This little, dry stream bed was running to a lake in the spring. I’m going to walk down and see where it leads.
There are times when this is fruitless. At other times nature works for us leading us to a pool or very fishable bank.
Rules for Finding Fishing Spots
There are two simple rules to remember when you are finding fishing spots or spending any time in the forest, for that matter.
Carry In – Carry Out
Push Through Don’t Cut
A map or GPS can help you pinpoint a spot on a lake or river. If you can read a map, use a compass or set a GPS hidden fishing spots are there for you. You can go into the woods guessing where to start to reach your destination. Sometimes that’s the only way. But, if you look for trails and run off routes, you hike to great fishing will be easier.
Take a moment to leave a comment below. How do you find hidden fishing spots? Do you fish off the beaten trail?
I love stream fishing in the spring. Its too late fish spoons as water levels drops. Its too early to have a lot of success with dry flies because of debris on the water. But, choosing the right bait is pretty easy this time of year. Almost anything will work. There’s water in every stream. The fun and challenge of stream fishing is reading the water and knowing where to find the fish.
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Stream Fishing – Still Water
There are long, level stretches on every stream. Current slows down because the surface widens allowing much more flow at less speed. Pools are created in this part of streams. The trick is to find the pools in the still water.
There are several ways to spot pools in still water.
In this picture, the darker water color, in front of the rock face, could be a long pool of deeper water or just bottom and shadow. I would test it by standing out of the picture at center left and casting across the current just in front of that leaning tree. The current would carry bait the length of the rock face.
Just above the top exposed rock there might be a small pool in the submerged rocks. A darker bottom can also indicate deeper water for fish to sit. I wouldn’t assume that I could see fish in the pool. I would walk a bit further upstream and float my bait through that spot.
There is a good chance that a steep rock face indicates deep water directly below. Casting across this pool to the rock face would allow bait to drift close to the wall. Since I can’t see anything at the base of the wall, I would probably hit the wall and let the bait slide in the water. This would allow it to drift right on the wall. There would be slack so I’d have to watch for strikes.
Lots of Fish
Still water will hold every species of fish that is in the stream system. There is a spot in that pool for everyone. Bass could cruise the bottom or watch the top for food following the slow drift before striking. Crappies can dart in and out of the current grabbing what drifts. Carp will just drift on the bottom sucking up what sinks. Trout will sit in the deeper, cool pools waiting for a bug or worm. Still water is a lot of fun.
Stream Fishing – Fast Water
Every stream, large or small, has fast water. A streams flows as elevation drops. The more the drop the faster the flow. Rocks create swells in the current and eddies in their lee. No matter how fast the water, it is a feeding opportunity for fish. Fishing the fast water of a small stream is the same as fishing in a huge stream. The large stream calls for heavier tackle.
There are several places to fish in this small stream. Drifting bait between the two rocks, in the center of the picture, will attract anything lying in that small eddie behind the rocks. Allowing the bait to drift over the small ledge will carry it across any pools that can’t be seen.
In my opinion, fish do not sit in the rapids, but behind the objects creating the rapids. Objects in the water create almost motionless areas as water flows by quickly on both sides. The object itself prevents fish from being battered directly by the current. I have caught walleyes in huge rapids where fish have hung suspended behind boulders hidden by the rapids. Strong fish can swim up stream in almost any current, but they “tread water” suspended behind objects.
In this small stream, allowing bait to flow straight through the current would likely be the most effective fishing method. In larger, faster water, casting across the current causes the bait to move back across a large expanse of stream as well as being carried down stream.
What Kind of Fish?
There is no way to predict what kind of fish, in a system, will be in the fast water. Bottom feeders are unlikely, but any species that waits and strikes can hold in fast water to snap a passing meal. I have caught everything from trout to chain pickerel in fast water. Just read the water and enjoy yourself.
Stream Fishing – Under Banks
Current under cuts the banks of a stream. Sometime, as with this picture, the roots of a tree form a roof over the stream. Sometimes a ledge is left hanging temporarily when the soil underneath has been washed away. Whatever the cause, undercut banks are a great place to lay your bait.
When the water is cold and deep, undercuts may not be as productive as still water and rapids. But, when the sun heats up the water, the cool, dark depth under a bank or root is a great hiding place.
The best way to fish an undercut is to stand upstream above it on the bank. The current will carry the bait the length of the hiding place. If this isn’t possible, standing at about the center of the undercut on the opposite bank or in the water is okay. An accurate cast to the top of the undercut will provide slack in the line and allow the current to carry the bait through the undercut until the slack is gone.
What Kind of Fish?
Any species in the system will seek the shade of an undercut in the summer. Earlier in the season larger fish tend to use this type of shelter. Some of the best trout I have caught in a stream have been laying in an undercut.
Successful stream fishing takes some experience. Exploring each of these three parts of any stream is essential for a great day of fishing.
Take a moment to leave a comment. Do you enjoy stream fishing? Have you experience success in each of these parts of a stream?
How do you store your boat? Years ago, our porch became a boat house. You may store your boat in a garage or undercover at a storage facility. Over the last few years, I have stored my boat, in my yard, under a good boat cover.
Why a Boat Cover?
There are good reasons to store a boat, long term, under a boat cover.
Boat Covers are cheap compared to Storage.
Covered boats are easily stored in a yard and kept safe.
The cover can be removed quickly and applied all season long.
A cover can be opened to get something out of the boat.
One person can put on the cover.
The cover can stay on when the boat is moved.
There are also pitfalls with long term storage under a boat cover.
Heavy weather can damage the cover causing leaks.
Strong sun will cause a light cover or plastic cover to break down.
Anything stored in the boat can be easily stolen.
Unless in a locked enclosure, the boat is can be stolen.
The cover can create circumstances that damage the boat.
Damage to the Boat
I once stored a covered boat next to my house for about a month. I discovered, the first time I wanted to use it, that someone had taken the lower of my outboard. This was a result of stupidity on my part. By moving the boat, 8 feet inside a locked fence, I could have saved the lower unit. I simply didn’t want to use the extra space.
Boat Cover and Moisture
Living in California, it has been over 3 years since I could put my boat in the water. During that time, it was covered and stored in my side yard. I own an ’18 ft., 135 hp IO. I started the boat, using ear muffs, 3 or 4 times each year. However, I did not think to put the boat in gear.
Did you know that:
Even though rain is kept out of the boat, the cover holds in moisture? I didn’t.
Even though the boat is high and dry, metal parts that don’t move can rust? I didn’t.
For the first time in years, there is water in lakes in central California. When I took my boat in for a tune up, I found that my cover had created problems.
My Gear Shift Cable Rusted
Each time I started the boat, the gearshift went forward into choke which kept the forward assembly and cables looses. I did not put the boat, running on “ear muffs” into reverse. My reverse motion was lost due to rust.
My Pinion Gear Rusted
I have stored outboards for years. Draining the thick oil and loading the lower until with sewing machine oil had always worked….. even in extreme cold. My mistake this year was not shifting into reverse when I started the boat. The pinion grear rusted and complained loudly when asked to work with other gears.
Leaving the cover on the boat after the little rain California experienced, when coupled with summer heat, caused rust.
Dry the Cover
As soon as convenient after a rain, take the cover off the boat and allow it to dry. Sure, you may get leaves and dust in the boat, but you will be removing the moisture in the damp cover. Even though a cover may feel dry on the outside, dampness is trapped on the inside.
Open the Cover
Moisture is already in the boat despite the cover after a rain. If the boat will be dry docked for any length of time, roll the cover back at both the bow and stern. This allows ventilation to dry out the moisture. Heat under a closed cover will grow rust and mold.
Its a battle. With the cover off, the interior can become cracked and faded. With the cover on, mildew can grow. Open your cover on a regular basis while the boat is dry-docked. If the boat is stored inside, remove the cover altogether.
I certainly knew to start my IO so that seals would not dry out and gas lines would stay free. Its also important to run the gears. Shifting from forward to reverse keeps things moving and lubricated. If a boat is not run for a year or so, each time its started, the gears should be fully engaged in forward and reverse.
Before I could get out onto any lakes this spring, I had to do $1500 worth of repairs to my boat. They were repairs caused by moisture during a time when California was in a drought. Store you boat properly. If you are using a cover, use it correctly. This sure will help you, Keep on fishin’!
Please take a moment to leave a comment below. What is an important boat maintenance issue for you? Could you do without your boat?
We’ve waited all winter for the chance to get into that stream or stand along the bank of that river. Its time, but fast water from spring runoff can make things challenging and dangerous.
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Fast Water Means Safety First
We should think about safety when we think of the fun of fishing in spring runoff. Ultimately, we want to be around to fish the rest of the year.
Fishing a lake, swollen by spring run off, is the same as when the lake is low. Always have adequate floatation devices on board if using a boat. Knowing the bank is important when fishing from the shore.
Keep Kids Out of Fast Water
The Center for Disease Control reported that in 2011, about 52% of child drownings occurred in natural settings. There are no statistics on what percentage of these accidents occur during fishing. Always monitor children when near the water.
Monitor a child every 5- 10 minutes.
Insist that a floatation devise be worn even if the child can swim.
Keep children out of fast flowing water.
Pick a fishing spot for a child.
Fast Water Safety Tips for Adults
For fast water, new to you, ask about conditions at a tackle store.
Wear belted chest waders not hip waders.
Go into the water off mud or sand to avoid entry from rocks.
When possible, don’t lift your feet when walking in current.
Walk with your shoulders parallel to the banks when possible.
Use a walking or “wading” stick.
Walk on land getting as close as possible to where you want to fish before entering the water.
Get out of the stream to move to a new spot in the stream.
Try to avoid fishing alone in fast water.
Fast Water Fishing
Fast water carries crubs, worms, beetles, ants and all kinds of other food. Consequently, spring run off is a great place to use live bait or imitation baits. The water is moving fast so hits are hard and instinctive. As a result, fish will hit what appears to be food immediately spitting out what isn’t. Usually, the hit seals the deal.
While both dry and wet flies will work in the eddies behind rocks and across deep, smooth run off pools, streamers work best in fast, high water. Throwing a streamer across the current allowing it to work into the current and the retrieval can be deadly. With extremely high water, a weighted line works best.
Spoons and Spinners
Casting across the flow and retrieving through the current accentuates the action of most of these lures. Smaller lures work best. Usually, they gain the depth needed to be effective as line is pulled across the current after the cast. I have found that golds and yellows work best in fast water.
Even if there is no row visible in the water, a row sack will often be effective where fast water flows into a deep pool. Even a single salmon egg rig can be productive in fast water. Artificial baits that imitate row are also great. However, new bait should be purchased each year as opened jars tend to dry out.
Weights and Rigs
Experience will dictate how you rig whatever bait or lure you use. In any case, in fast water, the bait should be in the center of the current,as much as possible, not bouncing off the bottom or swirling on the surface.
Any weight on the line can ruin action of spoons and spinners. The best technique is to throw the lure across the current allowing it to sink a bit as the line is pulled into the current. By the time the lure is in the current, the depth should be good.
The same technique can be used for streamers.
Live bait and naturals may need weight 6″- 8″ inches up the line to help them reach a good depth. The amount of Estimate the amount of weight needed and adjust as necessary. Of course, the bait will drift higher than the weight by the amount of line between bait and weight.
Spring thaw can mean a feeding frenzy for fish as food rushes by in the current. Because of this, its a great time to present bait and enjoy the fight enhanced by the current.
Take a moment to leave a comment below. Do you enjoy fishing in the spring runoff? What is your preferred bait at this time of year?
Sure, you may have been fishing all winter through the ice or in the ocean. Or you may live in a wonderful place like California where there is always open water. But its spring. As surely as that means the crack of a ball on a bat, it means fishing season. Its time to get ready.
I’m Gonna Keep On Fishin’!
Is My Equipment Ready for Fishing?
I’ve been using the same reels for decades getting them ready every year for hard work from spring through fall. I use a Mitchell 206 for heavier fish, but my favorite reel is a Mitchell 304. For durability and versatility it can’t be beat. I use a little grease under the spool and a bit of sewing machine oil on the crank and bail. I don’t like changing line. Consequently, I don’t remove old line until its absolutely necessary.
When you’re tuning up a reel,
Grease non-plastic gears.
Use machine oil on parts that move.
Clean out last year’s gunk.
Change the all line or add new line using the old as backing.
There really isn’t much to getting rods ready for the season. I travel with telescoping rods so I check them out thoroughly. For back packing or carry-on luggage, telescoping rods are great. There is nothing more disappointing than being on the water only to find out that your telescoping rod is now a 4 piece with 3 pieces.
Before you leave to fish, open and close a telescoping rod a few times. Flex the rod to make sure it stays together. Check all the eyes particularly the tip.
Checking a multi piece rod or a single piece ultra light is a little bit different. Because there aren’t any moving parts on a fishing rod, they tend to be overlooked as equipment is checked at the beginning of the new season. You can fish without a rod tip, but it looks silly and makes casting difficult.
When you check your multi piece rod:
make sure you have all the correct, matching pieces.
check all the eyes.
check the rod tip.
make sure the entire grip is solid.
If you buy all new tackle every year, you don’t have to worry about maintaining your lures. I do buy new stuff every year, but I tend to use the tried and true tackle until I loose if or it falls apart.
There are a lot of things you can do to make your first fishing trip of the season easier.
Untangle that knot of lures and sort them into your tackle box slots.
Remove all the swivels and leaders from you lures.
Take a few seconds to sharpen the hooks.
Make sure the eye is straight on each lure.
Check for broken bills.
Check for melted plastic tails and broken parts.
If you’re like me, you don’t take time during the season to sort through your tackle boxes. I have bunch of cases that I can pick up depending on where I am fishing. They are all a mess. During the season I just drop lures into the box. My leaders get tangled. Of course, the container of split shots opens. My extra hooks manage to come off the cardboards and my extra spools unravel. You clean out the trunk of your car. Clean out your tackle box.
Create small, fish specific boxes.
Throw away ruined display wrapping.
Dump dirt, dried seaweed and old bait.
Put hooks, weights and swivels in small containers.
Create spots for pliers, scale, cutters, stringer and a knife.
Getting Ready to Fish
Anytime you go fishing, some form of organized check lists needs to be completed. Even if you fish 50 yards from your house, you don’t want to be walking back and forth to get things your forgot instead of fishing.
Minimal Fishing Check List
Tackle box (complete)
Weather appropriate outer clothing
First Aid Kit
Fishing Season is here. Your first trip to the water will be more fun and less frustrating if you get ready.
Take a moment to leave a comment below. Do you check your equipment at the beginning of fishing season? Have you ever regretted not checking your equipment?
If you are ice fishing, you need a hole in the ice. Most people use power ice augers. What are the advantages to a power auger? Are there any disadvantages?
Power Ice Augers – Effective?
Of course, power augers are effective. They cut through the ice in seconds. But there are things to keep in mind.
They are heavy. A snow machine, hand sled or several trips with equipment is needed.
They are noisy. But, only while running.
They are finicky. Test start your auger before you leave home.
They can pollute. Make sure the gas cap is tight. Use the right oil mixture.
They are dangerous. Wrists can snap. Clothing can get caught. Feet can get augered.
They are expensive.
The speed and ease of a power ice auger more than makes up for these issues.
There are a number of models of power augers ranging in price from $250 to over $1200.
Price is determined by cubic inch of the engine. This determines the ease of drilling. The size of the auger is also a factor in price. Blades run from 6″ in diameter to 10″. The larger the blade the bigger the hole. Larger blades are more difficult to control. An extension can be purchased for power ice augers.
Early in the ice fishing season, many anglers carry a hand ice auger. It easily cuts through 4″ – 6 ” of ice. Hand augers are much more difficult to use than power augers.
It can be hard to start the hole with a hand auger.
It is difficult to turn the auger and hold it perpendicular to the ice.
Hand power often allows the auger to jam in the ice.
Hand augers can be difficult to pull from the ice.
But there are advantages to a hand auger
They are inexpensive ranging in price for about $35 to $175.
They are light weight.
They always run.
They are safe.
They are quiet.
Many people still carry ice chisels. They are very inexpensive and easy to haul. Ice chisels can easily be made out of threaded galvanized pipe and a strong chisel blade. Lead can be melted inside each piece of pipe for added weight.
The main use for an ice chisel is testing ice. Punching a hole every 3 strides can mean the difference between falling through thin ice and turning around. I have lost a few ice chisels by putting too much force behind them. With no They slipped out of my hand to the bottom of the lake.
Ice chisels are handy when a fishing hole has frozen over. Some people prefer a long handled axe to an ice chisel. An axe makings opening frozen over hole more difficult.
Ice fishing equipment ranges from the gas barbeque to a snow machine. With all that you carry to the lake, you had better not forget an ice auger. Power ice augers work the best on thick ice. Hand augers are okay for thinner ice. An ice chisel is a handy tool for testing the ice and clearing frozen holes.
Share your thoughts about this page. Which kind of auger do you use? Do you carry an ice chisel? What’s the best ice fishing day you ever had?
If you haven’t tried ice fishing, you don’t know what you are missing. You can sit in a shack. You can run between fishing holes. Watching ice fishing tip ups or jigging with a rod, its just fun.
Inside or Outside
In a Shack
Ice fishing tip ups and rods are used in a fishing shack. If a tip up is used, its generally set as a second line while a rod is used a few few feet away.
Rods makes more sense in a shack. You don’t have to go very far to tend a line.
Know you ice fishing regulations. Ontario, Canada allows two ice fishing lines per person. But, they must be 60 feet apart. This makes multiple lines in a fishing shack impossible.
On Open Ice
Tip Ups make it easy to fish multiple lines. Trails.com reports that one person can fish two holes at once in Minnesota. In Massachusetts, up to 5 lines can be used at once.
On open ice, rods are braced so they are visible from a distance. The bale is left open so the fish can take line. Tip ups are more practical on open ice.
Which to Use
Ice Fishing Tip Ups
Tips ups are very simple. They come in several styles but all work the same.
The base sits across the fishing hole. A fluttering flag signals a hit.
The line spool sits in the water. When a fish strikes, the line pulls a trigger which trips the flag. The spool lets the fish can run. Line is pulled in hand over hand.
Ice fishing tip ups are light to carry. They are easy to set up. Price varies. You can set a tip up and relax. You don’t even have to set the hook. That is done with the tension that triggers the flag.
Ice Fishing Rods
You won’t be casting when you’re ice fishing. You won’t be playing the fish when its hooked. You drop your line straight down and pull the fish straight up.
Any rod will work for ice fishing. Long rods are awkward. You have to drop a long rod to pull the line by hand because dragging a fish onto the ice can knock it off the line.
An ice fishing rod should not be more than about 32″ inches long. They are as short as 12″. Most ice fishing rods come in a combination with a small reel.
The flexibility of the rod is determined by the kind of fish you are after.
A light short rod is great for crappie, bass or trout.
A medium weight rod is a good for pickerel or northern pike, It should be a bit longer for leverage.
The strongest rod you can find is a good idea for muskie or lake trout.
Older rods can be made of fiberglass. New rods are graphite. They are both good choices. I think a fiberglass rod is the most sensitive.
Carry the best ice fishing equipment you can. You don’t need a reel that freezes solid. You don’t want a rod that gets brittle and breaks.
Pick Your Spot – Be Safe
Check the Ice
Always check ice thickness. Be careful early in the ice fishing season. You can seafch for official reports about ice thickness. Just google the name of your lake. Checking popular lakes in the area will give a good indication of ice thickness of all lakes in the area.
If you can’t find a report on your lake or river, check the ice before fishing. Poke a hole about every 10 feet moving away from the bank toward your fishing spot.
Go Where You Know
Ice fishing on a lake that you know will be most productive. If you know where a drop off is located, set up just on the inner edge. Put your sets along the ridge. Finding cover for fish is not an issue with ice fishing.
Although fish move to shallower water in the winter, fishing where you are successful in the summer will work.
Go When You Don’t Know
Ice fishing on a lake or river that you don’t know takes patience. Some people cut test holes to check the water depth. Unless the ice is to the bottom, if you cut a hole you might as well fish.
Fish for awhile. If nothing hits, go to another spot. This is more difficult with a fish shack than on open ice.
Ice fishing, in a shack or on open ice, is fun. Relaxing in a shack with a box or video is wonderful. On open ice, you can sip a hot coffee or build a snowman. Sometimes the action is fast. Sometimes its slow. Ice fishing is a great way to spend a winter day.
Take a moment to leave a comment below. Do you ice fish in a shack or on open ice. Describe the most exciting ice fishing trip you have had.
Cold Winter Fun – Ice Fishing – Growing Popularity
Ice fishing has been around ever since there has been winter combined with a need to eat. Ice fishing is cold winter fun growing in popularity every year. People pack ice fishing supplies wearing ice fishing clothes and head out to the lake.
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Ice Fishing Popularity on the Rise
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that ice fishing is on the rise. This is despite the high cost of necessary equipment.
Inside and Out
Ice huts are used across the north. They are an investment which can be used for decades. Furniture, heaters and TV’s make ice fishing a far cry different from the days of braving wind and snow for a fresh fish dinner.
Some intrepid folks still use hand augers to cut through the ice. They hunker down on a wind swept lake or pond. They endure the elements to catch a few fish.
Every state, with a winter freeze, encourages ice fishing. Every country with a winter freeze has ice fishing laws.
Even the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reports that more people are ice fishing every year. This state has a much shorter season than cold weather states. The state warns that common sense should be used when fishing private ponds and isolated lakes not officially checked for ice thickness. This is good advice for everyone going ice fishing.
Some say that ice fishing is as fun as watching grass grow. To the initiated, there is nothing more fun. Freeze up is welcomed with joy.
Even In the Movies
Ice fishing has been a theme in the movies like “Grumpy Old Men.” Walter Mathau’s “Green Hornet” fishing pole was the envy of his neighbor, Jack Lemmon. In “Snow Dogs”, an ice fishing colony was the setting for a show down between Cuba Goodings, Jr. and his father, James Coburn.
New Tech Ice Fishing
The Peninsula Clarion, one of the most popular newspapers in Alaska, speculates that new technology has given ice fishing a boost.
Think about how technology has impacted this winter sport. There are:
Portable ice fishing shelters.
Power ice augers.
Light, ice fishing clothing.
Efficient, safe heaters.
Reliable snow machines.
New fluorescent lures.
Light weight, ice fishing rods
High tech, LED flashlights
Digital cameras to record
Dried, easy to pack dried food.
Chemical foot warmers.
High tech, winter boots.
Light weight, durable snow shoes.
Specialized snow glasses.
Getting Ready to Ice Fish
You can’t just throw a couple of rods, a tackle box and some food in the car to ice fish. You’ll have a miserable day if you aren’t prepared. Ice is cold and wet. Lakes are exposed to weather.
If you haven’t experienced ice fishing, do some research on equipment. Do you want to use a rod or a tip up? Do you know what a tip up is? How will you cut through the ice? What kind of bait works best? How will you clear ice and snow from the water? Should you have some kind of shelter?
You can ice fish with any kind of fishing equipment. But, unique ice fishing equipment is best. Bait isn’t cast and retrieved horizontally. Its dropped straight down. Lures don’t wobble as they are pulled toward you. The action is in a vertical retrieve. You can’t see a bobber in an ice hole. A strike must be shown above the ice. Its hard to fight a fish through the ice with a normal fishing rod. You want to be as close to the fishing hole as possible. Ice fishing equipment does all this.
So, you’ve just stepped onto the ice. You slip and fall into a huge puddle. You’re soaked for the day. Water proof clothes would have helped.
You’re standing around your fishing hole trying to keep your feet warm. Its not working. Your feet are literally freezing while you enjoy this cold winter fun. You need a better pair of boots.
Its a beautiful sunny day, but the wind begins to whip across the lake. All you can do is hope the wind dies down. A shelter would be great.
You have a wonderfully warm coat, but the sun is beating down. Its too cold for no coat, but too hot for your coat. Consider buying ice fishing clothes.
After a great day of fishing, your truck won’t start. There’s no cell service where you have been fishing. Can you start a fire?
Ice fishing is cold winter fun, but lots of things can happen. Winter makes everything a little more difficult. Make an ice fishing equipment list for everything you will need. Check the internet for a comprehensive list.
Most species can be caught through ice. Check local regulations to be sure your catch is legal. Many places have put into place “intent” laws. If you are caught with bait or a lure, normally used to catch an out of season species you can be charged with “intent” to catch an illegal fish.
Local regulations will tell you how many rods you can use in how many ice holes. Its fun to see a strike across the ice. Running to set the hook can be comical especially if you get two strikes at once.
Its often good to fish shallow water and deep water at the same time. A third hole, if allowed, at a drop off is good. If you know the water where you are ice fishing, avoid rocks and logs. There is no way to play a fish out of this kind of cover.
Tips-Ups are the best type of rod. A flag pops up with each strike. The flag can be seen across the ice. Small jigging rods work well. To jig effectively, you have to work the rod. This means sitting in one place. Jigging rods provide more action. They can be set across a chunk of ice. The tip can be seen jumping from a strike.
People do use traditional fishing rod and reels for ice fishing. This means sitting farther from the hole. You have less control with a longer rod.
There are also people who simply drop bait or jigs to the bottom on a line. They pull the line by hand. Pulling the line up quickly attracts the fish.
Check on the safety of the ice at your fishing spot.
The ice of most accessible lakes, ponds and rivers will be tested by the county or the state. Test results are often published in local papers. Where ice fishing is popular, radio stations will report on ice conditions. You can also look on the internet for test results.
If you know that your fishing spot has not been tested, you need to test the ice thoroughly. The Minnesota Department of Natural Responses has put together this simple chart to make your cold winter fun safe.
But, you still have to test the ice. Cold doesn’t always mean good ice. Current can thin the ice. Heavy snow can insulate thin ice. Sudden warm weather can quickly rot exposed ice.
Always apply the 10 step rule when testing ice. Test the ice next to the shore by punching a hole. If its safe, take 10 small steps and test again. Repeat this process until you get to your fishing spot. A long handled chisel is best for testing ice.
The safest thing, if you don’t know anything about the ice on a lake, is to Stay Off.
Lots of Cold Winter Fun
Hopefully, you’ll catch your limit when you’re ice fishing. But, the list of fun things to do on a frozen lake is endless.
Have a snowball fight. Build a snowman. Do a little cross country skiing. Play football or baseball. Throw a frisbee. Have a picnic. Enjoy riding a snow machine. Fly a kite. Make sure the ice is strong and have some cold winter fun.
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Share you thoughts about the cold winter fun of ice fishing in the comment section below. Have you been ice fishing? Would you like to try ice fishing. How far is the closest lake where the ice is tested?
Fisheries have a catch and release policy to maintain fish stocks.
Catch and Release
Catch and release helps the natural fish population continue to breed. Healthy fish populations are important for lots of reasons. They provide fun for fisherman. They are part of the local eco system. They are a food for other animals. Fisherman release fish to maintain the local population.
The first official catch and release plan, in the early ’50s, helped reduce the budget for fish hatcheries. This was a new concept. The primary target was trout. People learned to fish for fun, not necessarily for food.
Does it Work?
Catch and Release has been studied over the years
What percentage of released fish survive?
What fishing methods are best for catch and release?
What type of water is best for catch and release?
Many factors determine the success of Catch and Release. Hardier species, like Muskie and Pike, have the best chance of survival. These fish are prized more for sport than taste. Trout are more delicate and more difficult to release successfully.
Shorter fights increase survival. Tournament competitors use heavy rigs to eliminate lengthy playing time to increase fish survival. Or course, they don’t want to loose a trophy. A Carlton University study determined that a strong, healthy musky can take 12 hours to fully recover from a lengthy fight.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources indicates that fish hooked in deep water have less the chance to survive. The struggle combined with the change in air pressure is decreases survival. Shallow water fishing produces the most successful Catch and Release.
Cold water produces higher survival rates according to the Ontario MNR. Fish caught in shallow water at the height of the summer have lower survival rates than those caught in the same place at cooler times of the year.
Barbless hooks create less trauma and are easily removed. Circle hooks improve survival because they are not as easy to swallow. Netting fish is discouraged. A cradle net is the safest particularly for large fish if necessary. Artificial bait is recommended. Natural baits are easier to swallow.
Successful Catch and Release
Here are some tips for successful Catch and Release Fishing from the Ontario MNR.
Use barbless, circle hooks
Use artificial bait
Catch and Release in colder water.
Decrease fighting time.
Allow larger fish more time to recover.
Avoid netting fish.
Use a cradle net.
Keep fish in the water as much as possible.
Don’t place your fingers in the eyes or gills.
Don’t hold fish by the jaw.
Hold fish with wet hands or wet gloves.
Photograph fish in the water when possible.
Don’t “throw” fish back.
Don’t release a bleeding fish.
Use long nosed pliers for difficult hooks.
Catch limits help sustain fish populations. Many people catch their limit. They continue to fish intending to release any fish caught over their limit. This is not a good practice. It might not be possible to release a fish. This puts the fisherman over their catch limit. They are then open to legal charges.
Fishing seasons conserve fish. Seasons are determined by spawning patterns. They allow a fish population to rest. Seasons prevent over fishing. The province of Ontario now has an “Intent” fishing law. If you are caught with equipment that shows you intend to fish for an out of season species, you can be charged.
Catch and Release has been proved for more than half a century. In some places, the policy is regulation. Most fishermen voluntarily support the fish population through Catch and Release.
Know your local seasons. Know you local catch and release policy. And know your catch limits. If we all do this and obey all fishing regulations, we’ll be able to Keep on Fishin’!
Take a moment to share your thoughts on catch and release fishing. Have you fished somewhere that had this as a policy? Do you catch and release wherever you fish?