Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ice Fishing in Colorado

Just typing that title doesn't seem like anything I would have ever write about.  Not in my lifetime did I think I would make a trip to Colorado, a state that I have never been to, to go ice fishing.  A combination of a lot of things made this trip happen.  A long holiday break from teaching, no ice in Central Iowa, an understanding wife, and a friend with a crazy idea made all this come together quite seamlessly.
Jacy and I packed the truck up at about 4pm Saturday and started to head west.  After seeing several landmarks, including the Lane Frost statue in Cheyenne we finally made it into Colorado near Red Feather Lakes.  We fished most of the day on Sunday, hitting three different small lakes.  To my surprise we only saw one other small group ice fishing.  The target fish was trout, a first for me while ice fishing, and a first in a couple decades for me to fish for trout.  We found the Rainbows really wanted a couple waxworms on this day, and that they were either close to the weeds or suspended in the five-foot range.  The Vexilar FLX-28's really helped us key in on those fish in the weeds and the suspended fish showed   This combination worked on each of the lakes.  Rainbows of all sizes and few smaller Brown trout were caught that day.  Quite a few of the Rainbows were over the 16-inch mark.  I was once again reminded how hard these trout fight.  A very solid and muscular fish gave our line and ice rod combos a test each time we hooked into one.  We decided to keep a few fish for dinner.  I filleted them out, added some garlic, salt and oregano and in about twenty minutes they were a fantastic way to end the day.

The second day we decided to hit the main lake from the first day and then hit one more before heading back to Iowa.  Nothing had really changed from the first day, fish were either directly tied to the weeds or suspended.  The main difference in this day was a large school or Brown trout that kept visiting us.  It was neat to the coloration on these fish and to watch them swim away in the crystal clear water.
To sum things up, it was quite an experience.  The scenery cannot really be put into words, the fishing was great, the company was equally great.  I even managed to eat a buffalo burger before we left Colorado...quite a whirlwind trip!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Talking Vexilar

The past two Saturdays I've had the opportunity to work along side the folks at the Cedar Falls Scheels Store.  I was there to help with product knowledge about Vexilar electronics.  These two days gives me a chance to get out to the public and speak to retailers and customers.  This gives me a valuable outlet to the numerous customers that already own Vexilars and potential customers. It is always fun to speak with people that already own a Vexilar and talk about he model they have, and normally they always bring up that it allowed them to "beat" their buddy ice fishing, or allowed their kids to catch some panfish at a pond.  Both scenarios are always great to hear about!
With each story and conversation there is always the inquisitive side of the consumer.  Even if people have owned a Vexilar for years, they always seem to have a question or two for me about heir model, or how is this model vary from another.  When this opportunity arises I turn to teacher mode and try to help them understand the many different products that Vexilar offers.  It is always fun and rewarding talking with customers and the staff at Scheels about the products and it is really fun to hear the great stories of fish catches that the Vexilar brought the anglers.
"CedarLoo" ice anglers have two great places
to check out Vexilars; Scheels in Cedar Falls,
 and Hank's Bait and Tackle in Waterloo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What a Vexilar is showing us

Recently I was asked to do a seminar on using Vexilar Electronics while ice fishing.  I have had the opportunity the past few years to do several of these, and interact with hundreds of people.  While conversing with all these avid ice anglers, one of the most interesting things people comment about or are glad to hear about is the explanation of the different colors of lines.  

Below you will see the graphic that helps people understand what the Vexilar is showing us.  The concept is easy, the green line is further away from the center of the transducer, the yellow is a little closer to the center, and red is directly below the transducer.  These simple facts are basic and are known by almost all ice anglers using a Vexilar, we all want to see red!  

We all can take our fishing to the level by understanding what the Vexilar is telling us though.  Not only do the colors tell us how far away from the middle they are, but it tells us the depth too.  As seen in the illustration below, all the crappies are at the 7.5 foot level under the ice.  However the Vexilar is telling us that one is at 7.5 feet, one is a little past 8 foot, and the last is well over the 8.5 foot mark.  The crappies are not stacked on top of one another as the Vexilar suggests.  Remember, a sonar works by sending a signal through the water column and bounces back up when it hits something.  The "green" crappie is further away from the transducer, so the signal travels just over 8.5 feet and then bounces back which reads that distance and marks it on the Vexilar.  So, we have to train our minds that the green and yellow marks are ALWAYS above where they are actually showing on the flasher, because those fish are away from the center of the transducer, thus the distance of the sonar signal travels farther to go the same 7.5 foot distance.  

I hope I have recreated a part of my recent seminar so that you can understand what your Vexilar is telling you, and so you can keep your bait above your "true" targets!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend crappie-time

The catch cleaned and ready for
the landowner's next family meal.
Once again the ice on larger lakes here in Central Iowa is just not ready.  So that left my buddies and I to head to some local farm ponds.  The smaller, more protected bodies of water will always freeze up more quickly.  Pond #1 held bass and bluegills for the taking, however their mood and location was a tough one to figure out.  David, Brian, Jacy and I managed about a dozen gills and moved on to pond #2.  

This pond is one I try to fish a couple times a year, it has bass, gills and crappies.  Jacy and I went into search mode with the K-Drill and Vexilar FLX-28.  Like in the past we found roaming fish in the deep basin of the pond.  We set up, shed our coats and had a wonderful time picking off the roaming fish.  Every single fish we caught was suspended making the Vexilar a key piece of equipment.  This pond provided the best quality of fish I have caught in this young ice season.  With the recent warm-up I'm not sure how the ice will hold up in this part of the state...with any luck it turn cold very soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Electric ice augers

Very lightweight when walking to your
ice fishing destination.
Ever since I started ice fishing back in middle school, there were two types of augers, hand and gas powered ice augers.  Nothing changed for about 20 years.  Over the past few years companies have introduced two new types of augers, electric and propane.

I have used many different types of electric augers and the Jiffy propane auger in the past couple years.  I don't have a comparison to the propane auger, but this winter I have been using an electric auger every time out.  The K-Drill has out performed and lived up to every expectation.

Why choose an electric auger when I already have a gas auger?  I know that is what many of you thinking right now.  The list of advantages of electric augers include: no gas mix, lightweight, small, easy to move place to place, and it is renewable energy.  The only real draw back of electric augers is that if you are planning on drilling a lot of holes through thick ice then your batteries may run out.  The ice hasn't been real thick, so I haven't had this problem yet.

Here is my grade report for the K-Drill auger attachment:
Lightweight: A+ (auger flutes are made of plastic composites)
Ease of usage: A
Battery/Cutting Life: A-   (using an 18 volt 4.0 AH)
Size: comes in 6 and 8 inch

This drill attachment is a home-run.  I have noticed that by keeping the battery off the drill and in a coat pocket does increase the life.  Recently I gave it a tough day on the ice. The battery lasted for almost 80 holes, which were about 5-6 inches thick.  Roughly put, it drilled about 35 feet of ice over a 3-hour period.

Here it is in action:

Please contact me via email with any questions you may have! Or if you live in Centrial Iowa hopefully you will be able to see it in action.

More information at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hank's Bait and Tackle Ice Fishing Seminar

Tommy Skarlis
The people who took part in this event for 2014 were not disappointed.  This annual event is held around December 1st of each year.  Like last year, Vexilar sent me up to Hank's Bait and Tackle to help with in-store sales and to provide a seminar about Vexilar products.  Each year this event, and it is truly an event, with food, drinks, all-day long seminar speakers, fully assembled ice shacks and more ice fishing tackle than one can imagine overachieves the year before.  I am not sure if it can get much bigger in 2015, but Mike at Hank's Bait and Tackle will most likely make it bigger and better if that is even possible.  The seminar speakers that attended this year included; Tommy Skarlis, Scott Reed, Tom Gruenwald, Adam Audette, Dan Johnston, Brian "Bro" Brosdahl, and myself.  I am honored to be a part of this group, and each seminar left its audience with a vast amount of new ice fishing knowledge.

If you have never been to Hank's Bait and Tackle in Waterloo, Iowa, make it a point to do very soon.  You will simply be amazed at the selection and the knowledgeable sales people they have.  Also, if they don't have it, they will get for you.  It's pretty amazing to have a shop like this in Iowa.
Brian BRO had all his tools of ice fishing on display throughout the entire day

I was able to sneak in and listen to brief moments of different seminars.  Each speaker was able to use their time to inform ice anglers of current trends in the latest ice fishing equipment, bait rigs and a glimpse into how angler should think while pursuing fish on the ice.  Each time a seminar concluded the mob of people would come out of the seminar room and be buzzing with the new information they hear about.  People were soaking in the knowledge being shared and that is what this great annual event has come to be.  A big applause goes out the guys at Hank's Bait and Tackle, especially the mastermind behind it all, Mike Everett.  If you missed out this year, stop in to see the huge selection for ice fishing, and make it point to attend in 2015.

Myself, helping out at the Vexilar section of Hank's