Sunday, June 20, 2010 , , 3 Comments

This weekend my father and I went to Duluth, MN to fish for Muskie. I have been in love with the sport of Muskie fishing for a long long time, ever since I started traveling to Minnesota to fish. Muskellunge are large beautiful fish, apex predators and the culture surrounding them is very conservative minded. To keep a fish is almost a mortal sin amongst most anglers.

Muskie are called the fish of 10,000 casts and are notoriously elusive. The Wisconsin DNR notes on their website that the average density for Muskie on a lake is one fish every three acres and that it takes most anglers 30+ hours on the water to catch one fish. Talk to anglers who chase Muskie and seeing one is a good day. Well since we would only be fishing one day on this trip we went out with Pete Brzezinski of Muskie Northland Adventures. Last year alone Pete boated over 100 Muskie himself and many more for clients. His experience paid off: we caught three Muskie and saw four others. We caught two on bucktails and the third on a spinnerbait. Of the four we saw I lost one on a follow due to not going into a figure 8, one hit my lure from underneath throwing it into the air, we had one throw the lure out after being hooked, and one was lost during a figure 8. Of the three I boated two and my father caught one. It was a spectacular time and I am already looking forward to a few weeks from now when I will be in Minnesota again this time chasing Northern Pike. Here are the pictures:

The second and biggest fish of the day, a 44 I boated that my dad is holding. It was a strong fish. 

This was the first fish of the day, a 41 that hit really hard. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a weekend with my Dad. Despite the long drive it was well worth the time in the car and on the water spent with my father. 

My Dad learned from my previous mistake and didn't fail to figure 8 after each cast. After thinking we lost him on the first figure 8, he nailed the lure on second one. Nice 36.5. 

Lake Superior


Parma Woods

Sunday, June 13, 2010 4 Comments

Over the past two weeks I have taken both my cousin and a friend to Parma Woods for the first time. My cousin shot my Rifle, first time shooting a gun, and my friend fired her new Browning Buckmark Camper Pistol. They both greatly enjoyed their time and Andrea has already been back.

Parma Woods is a rifle/shotgun/pistol range located by Parkville, Missouri, just north of Cabelas. The rifle range sets targets at 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards. Pistol Range is 7, 15, 25, 50 yards. The best thing about the range is it is open to the public year round and it costs only $3 an hour. The only concern you may have is if shooting a firearm in a milatary caliber, ie. a .223 or .308 your ammunition must be inspected and approved.

Both Andrea and Brandt shot well for the first time using the guns and I did fair shooting approximately 2 MOA at 100 yards. My goal in this next year is to get it down to 1/2 MOA. Here are the pictures:

My cousin Brandt. 

Me shooting my rifle, a Savage 93R17 BTVS. Chambered in .17 HMR

Andrea shooting her new pistol. I was super impressed with the simplicity and accuracy of that gun. 


Rig Series: Texas Rig

Saturday, June 12, 2010 , , 0 Comments

I have heard it said on several occasions that more Bass Masters Tournaments have been won using the Texas Rig than any other lure. Don't get me wrong, Spinnerbaits produce great in the morning as bass are warming up. Top water is highly effective on calm nights and fun as hell. You can run and gun the edge of cover with crankbaits, especially during the spawn. But what do you pull out of your tackle box when they are just not biting on a hot summer day? With the increase in temps during mid-day the fish become lazy and some finesse is required. Its time to call in the Texas Rig.

Rigging the Texas Rig is simple. You need a curly tail worm, offset worm hook, and possibly a bullet weight. To rig it traditionally first place the bullet weight on your line pointed up. Next tie on your offset worm hook. Finally thread the hook into the top of the worm down the first 1/2 inch or so and then exit through the side. Now thread the hook back through the worm where the bottom of the hook meets it and push it through--but not all the way. The hook should be just under the other side of the worm but not penetrating. This makes it virtually weedless until a Bass bites setting the hook. For a even slower presentation do it exactly the same but forget the bullet weight. This is a more subtle approach for even greater finesse or great if your fishing really thick cover and your bullet weight starts catching weeds. 

This is what it should look like. I prefer darker colors in clear water and brighter, larger worms in murky waters or at night. 

Finally, since this is the first rig I have mentioned that uses plastics let me add that often you need to wait a second or two once you feel the fish start to take the worm. A sensitive rod is crucial to differentiate a fish from a log jam or weeds and to know when the fish has truly taken the bait. If you try and set the hook too early, often you will lose the fish as it may only have hold of the tail of the worm. This takes some getting used to but with patience you will come to love this rig.

*Note picture is a 3 lb Largemouth I actually caught tonight on a Texas Rig. 


Cat On A Fly

Friday, June 11, 2010 , 1 Comments

Wednesday Bret and I went to Lonestar Lake with the Free State Fly Fishing Club. They fish together at one of the surrounding lakes every Wednesday night and I am going to start making it a point to go regularly, as it seems to be an awesome group of guys and I can think of no better way to get better at fly fishing than to learn from their experience. However, this is not the exciting news. I did mediocre to poor that night, only catching a Crappie and a Bluegill, but Bret did spectacular catching two Channel Catfish and a Bluegill on a Green Sarge's Crappie Fly. Not only was it great that he caught two nice cats, one of which was four and a half pounds, on a fly rod but they were also the first fish he caught on a fly rod. Great job Bret. Pictures below.

Bret's first fish on a fly rod.

Ron and Bret with the first cat. 

The 4 1/2 Pounder! Tore that fly up. 


Happy Birthday Walleye

Thursday, June 03, 2010 , , 1 Comments

For this past weekend my parents came down to Lawrence on a surprise visit. Sunday we rented a boat and went fishing for a few hours on Hillsdale Reservoir. Caught plenty of Wiper, Crappie and one Walleye. The most productive lure of the day was by far a Salmo #4 Hornet crankbait in blue and silver. Salmo crankbaits have long been a productive bait for my Dad and I for several years, information we picked up from a guide in Minnesota. They dive between 6-12 feet dependent on how far out they are and have a tight distinct action. 

Here are the pictures:

First Crappie of my Father's life. 

World Record Class Wiper

My Birthday Walleye, just under 3 lbs. Caught on beetle spinner. 

And finally a nice Crappie from Alexander the previous week at Hillsdale. 


Rig Series: Slip Rig

Wednesday, June 02, 2010 , 0 Comments

I have decided to do a short series on a few basic rigs every angler should know how to use and in what situations to use them in. Things are warming up outside which means prime Catfish season so I will start with one of the most basic rigs of them all, the slip rig. 

To set up this rig you will need a circle hook, bead, barrel swivel, and either an egg sinker or a no roll sinker. First cut a section of your main line to the desired length of your leader. Now thread through your sinker onto your main line followed by a bead, if you are using a no roll sinker have the pointed end face your reel. Next tie the barrel swivel to your main line, I use the palomar knot here. To the other end of your swivel tie your leader on, I use the improved clinch knot. At the end of your leader tie on your circle hook. Your done. 

This rig allows the catfish to take your bait with very little resistance. I like circle hooks in this rig for two reasons. First they almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth making it easier to remove and less stress to the fish for catch and release. Secondly the fish sets the hook itself when the fish turns after swallowing your bait, taking the pressure off you to know when the right time is to "set the hook" and reducing lost fish. Length of leader is determined by the current and cover. The longer the leader the more play it will have, especially important if you are fishing live bait. However, it also increases the chances of your hook tangling on cover or wedged in rocks. If you are fishing a with very high flow such as a spillway don't use a leader or barrel swivel. Allow bead and sinker to come right up to the hook. The purpose of the bead is to provide a buffer between the knot and the sliding sinker. Often times we use large sinkers in excess of 3 ounces and the force of the weight slamming into the knot can weaken it or knock your leader straight off.

If you are fishing dough baits you may substitute a circle hook for a treble hook, dip bait hook, or sponge. When fishing this I enable the clicker on my baitcaster to both give me an audible warning on when the fish is on and to also let the fish take out some line with very little resistance. You can also modify this rig by using lighter weights or a roach walker weight for Walleye and Trout fishing. 

Top slip rig set up for catfish, bottom for Walleye or Trout.