Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Fishing

"We have to be crazy!", said Don as he came to pick me up to head out ice fishing today.  It was around noon and Don and I had planned to hit a private pond.  The temperature was -7 and that was without the windchill.  We quickly loaded my things in Don's truck and we were off.
Cloudy conditions, and snow in the forecast, along with the frigid temperatures, but an open day to ice fish is something I don't pass up on.  We set up in deeper part of the pond, about 15 feet of water and found fish immediately using the area.  There is a brushpile in this deep water area, but the fish were not using it today.  They were roaming the area and there were a lot of them, mostly bluegills.  The Vexilars made short work of catching them as they came in our area at all different depths. 
Don and I caught a few from each and every school that roamed through the area, making for a very fun day.   The bluegills were ranging from 5 inches to
just over 10 inches.  The crappies ranged from 4-inches to a couple giants at 13-inches. We caught dozens of fish through the ice, but the quality of bluegills we saw today is above anything I have ever seen before, perhaps Santa was looking down on us today...we must have been good boys this year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quick Trip to Hickory Grove Lake

I had a few hours yesterday and just couldn't pass up the chance to check out a nearby lake.  A quick call to a fellow ice fishing friend, Chad Pietig, and we were headed west to Hickory Grove Lake.  We went to one of my "stompin" grounds, very deep water, brush in the area.  After carefully checking the ice as we ventured out on the ice, we found 4-6 inches of nice clear ice everywhere.  (we were on the far west side of the lake)  I popped ten holes to begin with, as Chad checked the holes behind me for depth, structure and fish with a Vexilar.  Well, I didn't cut anymore holes the next 2 hours.  We had plenty of action to keep us going. 
School after school came through the 22+ feet of water and picked the off as they did.  We ended with around 20 gills and 20 crappies for our two hours of fishing.  Most of the gills were 7-9 inches and the same for the crappies.  I haven't seen that many crappie out of that lake for years, so perhaps this was a wave of a new year class for them...either way I, and Chad had a great two hours.  Just goes to show even a short trip can "pan" out for some great panfish action! 

The Vexilar FLX-28 on the "Bucket" has been a fantastic

upgrade for the ice season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

First ICE trip

One of the first fish of the day, a nice crappie that fell to the VEXILAR FLX-28
Yesterday was the first real trip on the ice of the year for me.  I did make it out on the ice the day after Thanksgiving, but that was a shallow, small pond.  It was fun to get out on that pond, but my buddy Kevin and I didn't stay long as the ice was melting/bending quickly.

David Bowles with a BIG gill
December brought in some awesome cold temperatures, and the ice is growing quickly here in Central Iowa.  This has me especially excited because VEXILAR has introduced a new flasher unit this year.  I have used it several times in the boat, but this was the first real test.  One word...FANTASTIC!  I can't wait to get it out on some public lakes with varied structures and depths.  Either way, it is a great unit.
 Three of my ice fishing buddies made it out on a local farm pond this past Sunday.  Mark, David, Brian and I made it out on this pond and were pleasantly surprised to see 5+ inches of clear, solid ice.  Holes were popped very quickly in the deep basin and it didn't take long for the first fish to come above the ice.

Brian with a "foot-long" crappie
  One crappie after another came out of the water to see the falling snow this day.  When the crappies weren't roaming in the deep basin at about 10 feet deep (18-feet of water), then we could catch a few bluegills roaming or coax a few off the bottom to bite.  It was a great first day on the ice with friends.  We have fished a few times before, and it was like a bunch of brothers getting together after a few years apart.  Which, in the end, after the fish are caught and released...isn't it all about good times had with friends?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hank's Bait and Tackle Ice Fishing Seminar

I was called a month or so ago by Vexilar to do a presentation at this event.  I have always heard of this bait shop, but hadn't visited it for over ten years.  I kept hearing about all the selection they had for open water fishing and ice fishing.  But how good of a selection could they have, they aren't a "big-box" store.  Either way, I had an opportunity to speak to some ice anglers, which is something I always like to do.
I had decided to talk about ice-ducers and what they actually tell us while ice fishing.  I had a few pictures to aid my presentation and help the viewers understand.  I was looking forward to this opportunity.
As I pulled up the address, I thought my GPS was wrong...this can't be the area???  However, it was, I couldn't believe that I had to park about 2 blocks away from the store, I was shocked.  This was only the beginning, as I walked closer to the store front...I realized that this was no little bait shop.  This place was huge.  I walked into the store and realized I was one of about 150 people.  I was once again blown away.  I immediately started to look around and once again...WOW, the selection at this place is better than any "big-box" store I have ever been to for ice equipment.  The amazement didn't stop there.

A FULL spread of ice shacks at Hank's Bait and Tackle, don't guess
which brand you will like, go see them all at HANK'S.
I was directed to Mike Everett, the store manager.  I have crossed paths with Mike for a few years at some bass tournaments, always a nice person to chat with.  I'm not sure where Mike found his staff for his store, but I'm not sure there is another store that has more knowledge about fishing anywhere.  So, if you are looking for any fishing equipment, especially ice equipment, this is the place to check out.  The selection is better, and the sales staff is more knowledgeable than anywhere to will ever find.  A real gem for this part of the state.  If you haven't visited it lately, or ever, put it on your list.
Hank's has every model of Vexilar out to see,
so you can make a choice on which model is best for you.

Now for the actual event. Hank's Bait and Tackle managed to get Professional Angler Tommy Skarlis (www.fishtommy.com), Shawn Knodt of Striker fishing (www.strikerbrands.com), and Scott Reed from Berkley (www.berkley-fishing.com).  This will most likely be the best group of reps at any ice fishing show in Iowa this year.  Again, I was amazed, and honored to be in this select group.  Seminars ran every 20-30 minutes, and anglers were able to ask questions and demo products.  Have I mentioned that Hank's B&T has everything ice fishing???  Just so you have an idea, here is a list of some things I noticed; at least 3 different brands of augers, numerous brands of ice shacks, every single model of Vexilar and all the accessories you will ever need for them.  Selection which is second to NONE in this state.  Hot food, and cold drinks were served, and it was a good thing, as some anglers stayed the entire time, from 4pm-9pm.  This event was huge, and immediately following the event, Mike was already talking about how to make it even next year. 
Enjoy your time on the ice, and if you have an open day, visit Hank's Bait and Tackle for all your fishing needs.  www.fishhanks.com