Sunday, March 28, 2021

COLD Start to the Year

 The weather in Iowa just warm up, but looking into the long forecast that should change by the next blog update.  Today was only the second time out on Wapsi this year, but the largemouth didn't disappoint.  With the water temperature at 48-degrees, I knew it would be another "pitchin" day.  The water clarity on this body of water is really clear right now, so I went with a custom Wig's Jig in green pumpkin with a green pumpkin jig chunk on it.  I rigged the jig chunk in a compact way to decrease the profile of the bait in hopes of enticing more bass to bite.  Pitching and making long casts to the shoreline, laydown trees, and points proved to be what the bass wanted.  A perfect combo for this is the Quantum Special Issue 7'6in Med/Hvy Rod paired with a Quantum Tour High Speed Reel.  The bass remain lethargic in this part of the river, not much of a bite to detect, but like march bass fishing every bass I caught was a solid keeper.  Get out there and enjoy it if you can, you never know if that "big one" will be the next bite.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The 1st Time on the Open Water

13 days is a long time...without fishing!  In the whole scheme of things not really, but I am always a bit sad when the ice gear is put away for the year.  However it didn't take long before I was able to get the boat out and enjoy some fishing with the long rods.  Like the past several years, the Wapsi River was quick to thaw and made it simple and easy to enjoy an afternoon casting for bass.  Typical for early season bass, the bites were not numerous but they were quality fish.  It felt good to make long casts with the Quantum Rods and Reels, and to pitch a jig up against a log, and that first hookset...it produced!  A few bass were had on this first time out, all on slower baits including Wig's Jigs and Hot Rod Baits tubes.   Water temperature was hanging between 44-47 degrees, making for some very light bites.  A great first outing, everything worked as it should and some nice healthy bass hooked and released. 



Monday, March 8, 2021

The Last time for 2021?


 

Brushy Creek was a lake I have not visited this year yet, so it was time, as our time for ice fishing was winding down.  Brushy Creek is one of the deepest lakes in the state, and is also full of wood, standing timber, and brushpiles.  It is a fish factory!  

Warmer weather has hit Iowa this past week and the shorelines are starting to disappear.  The first 4 areas that we tried to access the lake were not going to allow us.  The shore had melted away and we couldn't get to the safer ice out in the middle.  Our fifth and final try we found a good access point that allowed us a place to walk right out onto the lake.  With all the safety gear in tote, three of us walked to our first destination.  As we walked I had my eyes on the Navionics GPS app on my phone.  I noticed a spot too good to walk over, so we stopped and gave it a try.  A wooded area that was just a little ways from a deep creek channel.  After a quick search with the Vexilars, we had found numerous holes will fish movement.  We started pulling up gills and crappies pretty regularly for the first couple of hours.  I even got tot angle with the large bass in the picture, it measured 17.5 inches.  It was great fighting that fish on a 36-inch rod with the Quantum Throttle reel.  I fully believe that without a reel that had such a smooth drag, I would never have seen that bass, let alone catch it.  That was the highlight of the afternoon/evening as we tried a lot of different areas but never found a huge school of fish.   Gills, crappies, bass and couple of perch made their way topside to the ice, and we kept about a dozen panfish for a meal.  



Will this be the last time...I sure hope not, but as I glance at the forecast for tomorrow, the high is set for 65 degrees and the low for the day is 49 degrees.  Be safe out there friends as the ice slowly melts away. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

SW Iowa Ice Fishing

 The last weekend of February took me to Southwest Iowa, a place where I have never iced fished before.  3-Mile lake was the destination for a weekend getaway.  I have fished on the boat for bass on numerous occasions here, but have never drilled a hole.  I always find it interesting and intriguing at the same time when I visit a lake after being on it in a boat.  Things are so different while ice fishing, and while scouting for fish.  At no other time of the year do I have my nose pinned to contours map than on the ice.  This particular trip was no different.

3-Mile lake is known for its big bluegills during this time of year, as well as the plentiful population of walleyes that seem to swim all over the lake.  These were the main targets for the trip.  With the bite being very good this winter in the area, it was a busy place.  With crowds congregating near the channel cuts, I found myself getting away from them a bit in the larger flats adjacent to the channel.  A large 19-20 foot flat is where our group did most of the damage, just off the 28-foot creek channel.  Stumps and old trees litter this lake, and it seemed the best flurry of bites were in holes that held some of that cover.  With temperatures in the forties and fifties, hole-hopping with a 36-inch Jason Mitchell Dead Meat stick with the Quantum Drive reel was the way to put a lot of fish on the ice.  Bouncing around from hole to hole with the Vexilar FLX30 made it easy to pick out brush from the fish.  I fond myself rotating between a couple different colors of the Reins Palpuntin Tungsten spoon loaded with spikes.  These spoons have caught me so many panfish this year, the slim tungsten design sinks like a rock to get back down to the school, and you won't find another spoon with as sharp of a hook.  Bluegills were roaming the flat most of the day and a few crappies came to visit too.  A half dozen nice, keeper walleyes couldn't resist the spoon either.  

It was an enjoyable trip with a lot of holes cut with a lot of fish caught.  



Monday, February 22, 2021

The Long Walk... Worth Every Step?

This past weekend we headed south once again to look for some crappies.  The lake has little access and no machines are allowed to move around on the lake.  A long walk through snow was something we were not going to avoid.  We were up to it for a chance to catch some big crappies that lurked in this small lake.

Once we got to the lake we started in the some of the deepest water the lake held.  This proved to be a good first move.  We started picking up fish slightly suspended off the bottom of the lake with our Vexilars and we started catching crappies, and we knew right then the walk was well worth it!  The weather was great for hole-hopping and we searched all day long.  I used a Reins Tungsten spoon most of the day, the quick drop on the Quantum Drive reel really makes fishing the deeper water quick and easy.  The middle part of the day was brutally slow, but then about 4pm, right on schedule, the crappies magically appeared once again.  It was a great way to end the day as reeled up our final catches of the day.  Dozens of crappies made their way to the top of the ice and some of those will make a nice meal soon.

Big takeaway from today was locating and fishing the active fish.  Fish were located on the bottom of the lake, 5-6 feet suspended and fish in the middle of the water column.  Only one group of these fish were the "biters" on this particular day.  The fish that swam 5-6 feet above the lake floor were the biters.  We were able to keep our spoons/jigs in that range to call the fish in from surrounding areas.  This no doubt led to bringing more fish under our Vexilars and helped us catch more fish all throughout the day.  





Monday, February 15, 2021

2021 Yellow Bass Bananza


Once again. the largest ice fishing tournament in the state took place at Clear Lake yesterday.  Kevan Paul and his crew at Clear Lake Bait and Tackle continued this tradition in a scaled down version.  There was not a large meal/bash the night before but as for the tournament itself, things were the same.  With all that is going on this year, and no banquet, the attendance for the event was right around 90 teams.  The weather and temperatures did not encourage any late entries either.  Temperatures plummeted this week with many days seeing temps under 0 degrees.  It was some of the most brutal ice fishing conditions I have ever fished in.  As we pulled into the event on Sunday morning, the temperature was -17 degrees, that did not include the wind, the "real feel" was -44 degrees.

David Gissell joined me at the event this year as my regular partner decided he didn't need his appendix anymore a week before the event.  The plan was to stay in the little lake, cover as much ground as we could and drill as many holes as we needed.  I had not visited Clear Lake this year at all, which is rare. I have fished this lake for many years and in recent years the "little lake" has treated me well.  I decided to go with history and fish areas I was comfortable with.  We fished water from fourteen feet deep all the way to six feet deep.  We found the typical perch, walleye, a white bass and caught about 45 yellow bass during the four hour event.  We found one area that the yellow bass kept feeding in, it was about half the size of a football field.  We kept moving and even hit old holes over and over again.  It worked out as we pinned this group of yellows in that 8-9 foot range.  The Vexilar FLX30 continues to impress me.  The fine lines and details of weeds really helps pick out fish and the size they are.  I could tell if small perch were below or if they were the targeted Yellow Bass.  Equipment is always key and today was no different in these adverse weather conditions.  I choose to go with a 24-inch Jason Mitchell Meat Stick to help me stay close to the hole while the wind whipped around.  A Quantum Drive reel with 3# test line tied to several spoons for the day.  The smooth drag on the Quantum reel was good insurance on this day as ice built up around the line, eyelets and everything else.  


The four hours went quickly, and the multiple layers of clothes kept me comfortable for the day...drilling a lot of holes keeps you warm too!  Our limit of 30 yellow bass weighed 12.02#.  I figured by getting 30 yellows in the bucket that it would put us in the  op 15, which was our goal.  However, as we talked with the many other competitors we knew we would be closer to the top than we thought.  As the prizes were given away, we ended up in 5th place.  The reward was the hottest electric auger on the market, the Strikemaster Lithium 40 volt 8-inch ice cutting machine.  

Another YBB in the books, my seventh in a row.  Jacy Large and I started fishing these events back in 2015 and ended up with a 5th place finish, 2016 was a 15th place, 2017 was 16th, 2018 was 150th, 2019 was 7th, 2020 was 9th and this year the 5th place finish.  It has been a fun run chasing these Yellow Bass all over Clear Lake.

Kudos to all the anglers that braved the weather today.  By staying on the hunt all day without a shack we were able to overcome Mother Nature and collect our share of yellow bass.  The reward was a place in the top 10 once again.  


Sunday, January 31, 2021

FLX-30BB- What's the BIG difference?

 

This year Vexilar came out with a new unit called the FLX-30BB.  Every few years Vexilar raises the bar a little more on the flasher market, which is designed for ice fishing, dominated by them and Marcum.  The latest upgrade to the Vexilar fleet has made quite a splash thus far.  If you are a Vexilar user, you already know the great things about their products and different models, however I hope this review sheds some light on the all new FLX-30.

Trials- I have used the unit on 12 different lakes/rivers this winter.  My fishing adventures have taken me to two feet of water all the way down to 32 feet of water.  I have fished in and around brush piles at many different depths and weeds from two feet all the way out to 12 feet.  As you can see, I have ran it through many different scenarios and now I feel that I can honestly give a review of the unit and offer you details on why this is the best Vexilar out there.

New Features- The BB stands for Broad-Band, or different settings for your transducer in kHz power.  The settings range from 160kHz to 300kHz and can be changed with the push of a button.  In the 160kHz setting the unit will show you a 19-degree cone angle, and can be adjusted down to a 8-degree cone angle in the 300kHz setting (7 different cones angles in total).  Another new feature is the addition to a third zoom option.  This unit will allow you to zoom to the bottom 18 feet of water, along with the standard 6 foot and 12 foot options available on other models.  Vexilar also added a 15-foot range on the manual range settings for this unit.  Another new feature on the FLX-30 is the ability to choose from normal(high) power, medium power or low power.  In the past, there were only normal and low power options.  Lastly, it comes standard with a 9amh Vexilar Lithium Battery.

Disadvantage-  The Ultra Pack (shown above) is the only option of buying this unit for the 20/21 ice fishing season.  While this is an awesome carrying pack, more options would be nice, and would bring the overall cost of the unit down too.  Hopefully there will be more buying options next winter.

Awesome Upgrades-  The biggest advantage I saw right away is how much smaller the lines on the screen showing your bait and fish are.  This allows for precise jigging, and location of fish.  This has also made fishing brush piles much easier with less clutter on the screen.  Another great upgrade on this unit is the the medium power, it has really been great for me while fishing weed beds this year.  Other Vexilar units offer either high or low power, much of the time low power takes away too much of what we can see down below the ice, while the medium power option is a perfect fit in most weedy situations.  Another nice upgrade to the FLX30 is the ability to change zoom settings by pushing the gain button.  On other units you must turn the dial to change zoom settings, which can be cumbersome with gloves on, a small thing I have noticed but has been a very nice difference.  Multiple cone angles is an important part of ice fishing, the previous Pro-View transducer thad this capability and when used correctly is a huge advantage to anglers.  This new Broad-Band transducer on the FLX30 is even better.  With a press of a button I can rotate through the seven different cone angles very quickly to see which screen I like.  When searching fish 160kHz is best as it has the largest cone angle of 19-degrees.  However, when fishing near brush, weeds or on top of a large school of fish, the narrower the cone angle the better.  I will be able to pick out my jig and how the fish are reacting to it much easier in a 9-degree cone.  Again, this is done by pressing the gain button and you can cycle through all 7 cone angles in the matter of a few seconds to see which screen looks the best for that particular hole you are fishing.  As you cycle through the different cone angles they narrow down as you push the gain button.  It really is amazing how a small tweak can let you see so much more of what you want to see.  

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As you can see there are many advantages to the new FLX30BB.  It is a fantastic system for those that like to visit many different lakes with unique fishing situations.  There has not been one case yet this winter that I have not been able to fine-tune the FLX30 to fit my every need.  It has led to a few more fish, no doubt.  Let me know if you have further questions about this system, I would be happy to answer them for you and compare them to the unit you have right now.  Email: treedbass@yahoo.com