Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gearing up for the Ice Season with Vexilar

I have had the opportunity to speak with many anglers around the state about the upcoming ice fishing season.  Most conversations centering around the Vexilar units.  Clear Lake Bait and Tackle hosted the first "Ice Show" in Iowa for the year and Kevan Paul knew customers were wanting more information on how to get the most out of their flasher for the upcoming season.  Pictured above is the seminar session and the many interested participants.  It amazes me each year as I make the rounds at seminars that I see some of the same anglers from time to time.  Most want a refresher, because there is a lot to know about your flasher if you know what to look for.
Vexilar units were flying out the door that day and I know customers have a better grasp on what their units can tell them on their time out on the ice.

Next stop for seminars was Hank's Live Bait and Tackle in Waterloo, IA.  Again, anglers filled the store to talk and learn about ice fishing from the seminars and the friendly conversations around the store.  If you are in the market for any ice fishing gear, give these two bait shops try, if they don't have probably don't need it!

Here is a small section of my seminar that gets a lot of attention from those attending.  Just how much of the water below the ice do we see using our Vexilars?  What does the "cone" show us?  The answer always surprises anglers, and it is one thing that we must remember when searching for specific structures or school of fish.  Drill, Drill, Drill!

Be safe out there anglers...the ice is slowly freezing!

Fish Chowder

The Iowa Sportsman Magazine often highlights recipes for wild game.  With plenty of fillets in the freezer and wanting something different than another fried meal, I decided to give one a try. 

The featured recipe I tried was "Walleye Chowder".   I couldn't find any walleyes, but did find a bag of 10 bluegills, they filled in just fine.  The recipe was simple and had all the ingredients on hand except the red pepper.  I am not one to enjoy really "hot" food anyway so I left it out of the recipe. 

The chowder was great, and you could still get that hint of fish taste.  It makes quite a large helping, probably about 12 bowls.  So if you will not be sharing with many, you may want to cut hings in half.  Another thing, that red pepper that I left out, I am glad I did.  The cayenne pepper was plenty to give it a zip.  This is a great recipe to try, so if you have some fillets around give it a won't be disappointed. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Lineup from VEXILAR

Vexilar has once again upped the anti in the game of ice fishing.  This year the FL-12 and FL-20 got facelifts as well as new features added to them.  The FLX-12 and FLX-20 are the new generation of Vexilars.  I have had the new FLX-12 for a few months now and have tested it on the boat several times.  It is crisp, clean and has a very easy display to read and understand.  The features and specifications of the FLX-12 and FLX-20 are improved over the previous models...and the price barely moved.  All new Vexilar units come with a standard 2-year warranty, top-notch customer service and a product that will last many, many years.  Vexilar, a company that continues to put out products that will help you FIND and CATCH more fish.

Below you will see the comparisons for the FL models and how the FLX models are refined and improved.  Don't be afraid to give me a shout with any questions as to which Vexilar may be the best for you.  Or check out VEXILAR.COM for additional info and videos.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fall is all but gone

The leaves are down, frost is a regular morning sight and there is no doubt of crispness in the air.  Fall seemed to disappear very quickly this year, and winter is just about here.
This time of year always tears at me, one part me wants to be floating on the river chasing smallmouth and largemouth, while the other side of me wants a few days of solid 20-degree weather so that same river will freeze.  This past weekend I put my big boat away, but still holding out on my river boat...just in case.  The main channel water was 37-degrees...all I could think about was "just 5 more degrees".
However, I have found myself tinkering with my ice fishing gear this past week, mostly due to the big Clear Lake Bait and Tackle ice show that occurred last weekend.
I was asked to give a seminar on using the Vexilars on the ice.  Events like these seem to get my mind always gravitating towards ice fishing, but I am still holding out for a few more bass in the boat!  Choices...Choices...Choices!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

New Rod Series from Quantum

QuantumPT Vapor Reel and the
7'0" Med/Hvy GForce Rod
This past week I had the chance to use one of the latest new rods from Quantum.  The G-Force Series from QuantumPT is a $99 rod that outperformed that price tag before I even used it.  Some of the main features when it arrived included:  Graphite blank, 7 foot in length with a med/hvy action, PT Guide system (a hybrid between a stand and a micro guide), 10 guides and the tip, cork handles and a no-snag hook keeper.  This series of rods comes in many difffernet sizes and actions from 6'9" to 7'6", ranging from medium action to Extra Heavy action. The weight of the rod is also very comparable to rods priced over $200.  All in all I was excited to get thing lined up and get some casts on it.

I decided to pair this rod (7ft Med/Hvy) with a newer reel by Quantum also, the VAPOR.  I chose the 7.0:1 gear ratio for this combo because it will primarily be a pitching or swinghead rod in my arsenal.  I hit the local river to give this combo a try.  I was throwing a 3/8 oz swinghead jig on some shore line covered with river rock.  The rod, stout, but I could feel the rocks as I bumped the bait along.  Great sensitivity and castability, once I fine tuned the Vapor.  Long casts were made easy by the large rounded butt knob, I wasn't fond of this until I gave it several long casts, and it proved to be of great value.

It wasn't long and I had my first bite, or I should say line movement.  Fall water temperatures on this day were just about 43 degrees, there was no "bite", yet the rod did allow me to see the line load up and set the hook on the smallmouth.  No giant by any means, but the scrappy smallie gave me a hint as to what this rod is all about.  This combo will be one I turn to often this month and into the 2018 bass season.  A great combo, with a pricetag under $250 for both.  PT quality at a great price!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Time spent with the IOWA DNR

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to help DNR fisheries biologists in the Guttenburg area with research on walleyes and saugers.  It was a shocking research project where fish are shocked, kept in a tank, measurements taken and fish released back in the Mississippi River.  The Department of Natural Resources spend countless hours researching, collecting data, and managing the wildlife in the state.  Without this department, our trips to the outdoors would look very different.

I have some personal friends that work in the department and they have taught me many things that the department does "behind the scenes" to ensure good hunting and fishing opportunities.  For example, the testing I was involved with takes place for 2 weeks in October during the evening hours.  The biologists commented that it was difficult to change their family schedules they had from 1st shift to 2nd shift for a couple of weeks, all for the betterment of the Mississippi River.  However, the study is key to monitor the growth of the species, so it was just another day for the employees.

The biggest of the  night,
just under 7#
The actual research that night included shocking walleye and saugers to gather data on length, weight and testing dorsal fins for aging.  Dorsal fin samples of all sizes of fish were taken that night to be studied at another time to ensure proper growth rates of the walleyes and saugers.  This helps the DNR make sure fish populations are healthy and growing at the correct weights.  The study also helps the DNR set daily limits on fish catches as well, which is something they do not plan on changing anytime soon.  The big river is very healthy, and so is the walleye/sauger population.  A huge thanks to the DNR and the many different ways they help us outdoors people enjoy nature and all the creatures that swim, fly and walk in our nature.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Iowa BASS NATION State High School Bass Tournament

Zach and Vaughn
High School bass fishing has been around for about a decade.  However, it has only taken a steady stand in Iowa for the past 3 or 4 years.  The past winter the kids of Independence showed enough interest and the Indee High School Bass Club was formed.  The club is a Bass Nation club, which links them to the largest organization of bass anglers in the world, which naturally is call BASS.  Simple and to the point.  The organization as well as the Indee Bass Club is all about bass, where they live, how to catch them and what to throw at them.  It is a constant search that has consumed me since a very early age.

The high school bass club was started because I saw the a similar need for knowledge and experiences in the sport of bass fishing.  Students have learned the basic types of casting, different models of rods and reels and overall knowledge of bass habitat and the baits to chase after them. With those things coming pretty easy for
Brodi, Peyton, and Dave Wilson
myself, being in the field of education, I had no idea that in such a short time we could put together teams to compete at a state level and do well.

Do well is exactly what the Indee Bass Club did this past Sunday at the Iowa BASS NATION State tournament.  Indee had 3 different teams compete, which includes two club members and a boat captain each.  Students are not allowed to drive the gas engines during tournaments, but do control the electric trolling motors to maneuver into fishing and casting zones.  All three teams impressed their boat captains and all caught a few dozen bass each.  However, at the end of the day the scales never lie and a team had to be crowned the state champs.  Twenty teams from all over the state competed in the tournament, including schools like; West Delaware, Johnston, Janesville, North Scott and several Cedar Rapids teams.

The Independence team of Cyrus Butters and Parker Sweeney, captained by Kevin Christensen, came out on top of the leaderboard when all was said and done.  They had 5 keeper bass that weighed 14.43 pounds to take the title.  Brodi Wilson and Peyton Lolwing, captained by Dave Wilson, took 7th place with 5 keeper bass that weighed 9.45 pounds.  Vaughn Nabholz and Zach Davis, captained by Todd Reed, used every minute of the day catching bass, but none made the 14 inch mark, allowing them to keep them.  It was an unbelievable day for the kids, as each and everyone of them learned so much about fishing, and the Mighty Mississippi River.  Kids reported catching their bass on a variety of baits.  The champs boasted that Hot Rod Baits Jigs (Wig's Jigs) worked the best, hot Rod Baits tubes, spinnerbaits and Strike King lipless baits all caught bass and helped the kids reel in bass all day long.  Congrats to the group of 6 boys and 3 captains that made this day possible.  Also a huge thanks to the Iowa Bass Nation Youth director Joe Bagsby and Shanda Heath for putting the tournament on each year for the high school teams.

The competitive season is over for the Indee Bass Club, but students will continue to learn through club meetings held each month before regular school hours.  It is amazing how many kids will go to school EARLY to talk and learn about bass fishing!
Parker Stoner/Kevin Christensen/ Cyrus Butters