Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 New Years Resolution: Fit for Fishing!



Im not getting any younger, and standing on a boat for 8-12 hours a day can really put a toll on the body, back and knees are really starting to take a beating month in and month out.. and lets face it, Im a foody, so I love to eat (you all saw that Bacon Cheesecake recipe!).  Combine these two things and I think it is time to drop a bit of that extra weight and start getting readying for the 2012 Tournament season.

So being that we are on the brink of a new year it is time for a New Years resolution.. and my plan is to drop 40lbs prior to the start of the 2012 Bass season opener, and maintain the weigh loss through the remainder of the year.. to keep me honest I plan to track my progress here with 2 posts a month. Eating healthier and getting a bit more active is the way to go, i wont be joining a gym or trying to follow a diet plan, just want to see if i can do this as a regular Joe.. pass or fail it is worth the effort

Current Weight: 205lbs
Goal Weight: 165lbs
Loss YTD: 0

I'm thinking I can pull this off, but time will tell, I'll keep ya posted

Friday, December 23, 2011

December Recipe: Maple Bacon Cheesecake



So I have been falling a bit behind with my monthly recipies, but since we are all in the x-mas baking spirit, this is one I had to share with you. At my place of business we also close out the holiday season with a "baked goods potluck. This year I was looking for something a bit different and though why not just google "bacon" and "cheesecake" and see what comes up..

Surprisingly enough there were a few that came up, but the one that caught my eye, was the "Maple Bacon Cheesecake". This is the best of both worlds, something sweet, yet has that bacon salty crunchy goodness as well. So if you want to make your friends and families mouths drop.. check out this recipe..

Ingredients:

- 2 x 8oz packs of cream cheese
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup of heavy cream
- 1  cup maple syrup
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar (for the bacon)
- 1lb Bacon (maybe more if you want to really load it up)
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp Butter or Margarine
-  Crushed Graham Crackers
- 1 Spring-form baking pan (8inch)


(Candied Bacon!)



Step 1: Getting started

wrap the spring-pan in tinfoil and give it a slight greasing. Preheat the over to 375 degrees

Step 2:  The Crust

in a mixing bowl hand mix your graham cracker crumbs with the butter/margarine, you are looking for a "packing snow" consistency, so if should slightly hold together. Push it down into the pan until packed firmly.

Step 3: The Filling

with a hand blender or a stand mixer, blend your room temp cream cheese with 1/2 cup of the maple syrup (save the other 1/2 cup for the topping). Add in the cream and the vanilla continue to blend.

Add the eggs one at a time and make sure they are all fully blended prior to adding the next one. Once all are blended you can pour the mixture onto the crust. Give the pan some taps to get out all of the bubbles. (this is not a perfect science)

Step 4: Into the Oven

while the oven is preheating (375 degrees), place a shallow baking dish full of water on the lower rack to heat up. (Cheesecakes need moisture). Once the over is ready add the cheesecake to the rack above the water pan. Cook the cheesecake for about 30 minutes..

Check on the cheesecake after 30 minutes, you are looking for a slightly wet or glossy look, but a firm cake. If not there yet, give it another 5 minutes.. Once done, turn the oven off and leave the cake in the over for another 20-30 minutes to set.

Step 5: BACON!

while the cheesecake is cooking you can prep the bacon. I like to cook some of it standard, and some of if candied. For the candied bacon you can either oven roast or just pan fry with brown sugar. Give the pieces of bacon a nice dusting of brown sugar and toss in the pan . Fry to your preferred doneness or bake in the oven at 325 degrees (watch constantly to avoid burning). No cook time is supplied as it will depend on the bacon thickness. Then crumble. Leave them bacon on a paper-towel to get off excess grease and then pop in the freezer for a quick cool.

When the cheesecake has rested you can drizzle some maple syrup on top and sprinkle the crumbled bacon.. let cool in the fridge for 10-12 hours.. If you are making it a head of time and want to freeze it, i recommend doing so prior to topping it, then adding the Bacon prior to serving

Tip: If you plan to cut your cheesecake into squares, do it when froozen or as cold as possible. Cheesecake is hard to cut once it starts to loosen up



(I made this square to serve in bite size peices to a large group)

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas comes early.. New 2012 Dobyns Tournament Jersey


I made the mad dash home on my lunch break today  in an attempt to intercept the mailman who would be delivering the last of my wife's x-mas gifts, and to my surprise there was something a little extra in the mailbox for me.... my 2012 Dobyns Tournament jersey.

The jersey was done by Rayjus Outdoors . The color and fit is spot on, and I cant wait to get this baby out on the water.. now for the long wait till opening day 2012.


Dress Warm, Stay Warm.. & Stay Above the Ice!





I  have been ice fishing for about 10 years now and it is a sport I have grown to love and hate, depending on the winter. So far this winter has been a frustrating one.  It takes nerves of steal to step out onto a frozen lake for the first time each season, listening to the ice crack and grown beneath your feet, I dont care how long you have been doing it, that first step each season is still a hard one to take. Seasons like this, in which the ice has arrived late, some anglers are in such a hurry to take advantage of it, and the short time it is here, that they ignore the basic safety, and many lose their lives. 

Ice fishing more then any other kind of fishing requires many safety options. Whether it is safety from the cold or from falling through, you should take these steps to ensure you have a safe trip each time out on the ice


1) Dress Warm, Stay Warm

It is all about layers, from your toes to your feet layers should be used to keep you warm and dry on the ice. I start off with an Under Armour Cold gear suit as my base layer. This wicks moisture from the body and keeps dry when slugging in heavy snow. On top of that I wear a fleece top and bottoms for added warm, this layer is heavier, but easily removed if you get to warm. For a jacket you want something with warm but not a lot of bulk, you want to be able to move freely and fish but still keep warm. Ice Armour makes a great bomber style jacket that works as my third layer. A pair of standard track or sweat pants work as my 3rd layer on the bottom. The final layer is my Ice Armor suit, it has a shell for a jacket that works as a great wind break and keeps the wet snow off your body. The bibs are padded to allow for comfort when kneeling or sitting on a pail and keep you warm and dry for those long 8-12 days on the ice

If I start to warm up, I start by removing the shell, I use the shell mostly as a wind break or in heavy snow to stay dry.  On extremely warm days I may remove the fleece top and put the bomber back on, this still gives you some control over the dampness while still staying warm.

On my feet, I have a pair of Under Armor socks. They are moisture controlled and warm, the are not bulky and will fit in most boots with ease.  If you dont have a great pair of boots, a second pair of socks may help. Dress socks are nice and thin and will add a little warmth without the bulk. Finally boots are the key, I burnt through 3 pairs in my first three seasons on the ice, finally I came across the Cabela's Trans Alaskan series, they are super warm, and although they are expensive they are cheaper then replacing boots each season or the costs of meds when you catch phenomena.

For gloves, I bring two pairs, a thick mit style I use for getting on or off the ice, dont need the movement as much as the warmth. For fishing or tasks, I use a task glove. Frabill has a great task glove that offers some weather resistance and still allows for good finger movement.. keep you gloves dry! once they are wet through they will not longer keep your fingers warm

For a toque, I always bring two, a lighter version, and a heavier version, both need the ability to fit over your ears to keep them warm in windy conditions. A balaclava is a nice thing to have but is not required on most trips. I keep one in the inner pocket for my shell as a "just in case"










2) Stay above the ice

So the above will keep you warm, now lets focus on staying dry... When on the ice in early season I never leave home without my ice picks. They are around my neck and accessible at all times, to this day  I have not needed to use them yet, but Im always  happy they are there.  


Some Anglers opt for Float Suits over the standard bib and parka. In hind sight I personally should have went that route as well. the float suit has all the warmth and features of the traditional bib and parka but the extra safety features make it worth the extra cash. If you dont have a float suit, the next option is an inflatable life vest. These are great in open water and on the ice. they are thin enough to wear over your jacket and will keep you up right in case you go in (check your jackets instructions as some are not meant for use in -0 temps)
An Ice Spud is used like a walking stick. I tap the ice with the spud every few feet to check for strength. when not tapping I carry the spud horizontal, if by chance i fall in, the long bar can act and a beam across the hole and help you keep your head above the water. I have also added a sticker to my spud that acts like a ruler. this allows me to accurately check ice thickness after each hole is drilled. Early ice is very dangerous, even more so when on an unfamiliar lake, always spud your first time traveling a new path

Rope should be kept in your sled or portable ice hut, if by chance you or a buddy go though the rope can be thrown to help pull you out, without putting the rescuer in jeopardy. Even if you fish alone bring a rope, if you go through a passer by may not be prepared for a rescue buy you always will be.

Ice cleats on your feet is another important item during early ice. The lack of snow will make the ice slippery and falls can cause broken arms and wrists or a concussion. There are many options available on the market today, but I chose to drill studs into my boots as they are a permanent option and never slip off (yak trax are also a good alternative)

Last but not least.. extra clothes and blankets. in my car I keep a full set of extra clothes along with a blanket, If by chance you fall through you will need to change out of the wet cloths as soon as possible to get warm and dry. This is a must as part of any anglers safety kit 




These are just a few of the safety measures that will help keep you safe Ice fishing, stay safe, like you I cant wait to get out on the ice this year, but dont rush it, it is not worth your life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Numa Sport Optics... on the boat or in the blind

(Numa Sparta Frame Polar Smoke Lens Mirrored)

As a guy who has spent the better part of my adult life wearing glasses, i have a harder time then most getting my hands on a good pair of sunglasses.  There are so many restrictions on what can and cannot be done with a prescription I end up settling on something that wont break the bank, instead of the product i really need or want. But not this time, not only did Numa easily fit my prescription into the frame I wanted, but they applied many of the frame enhancements that make Numa the forerunner (in my mind) in outdoorsman quality sunglasses.


Numa Sport Optics are newer on the scene (2007) but are quickly gaining a reputation for great looking glasses that take some serious abuse. These glasses are built to withstand the everyday environment and the daily grind, fisherman, hunters, military and police put them through. Not many glasses available today can boast what Numa boasts.. 



If thats not enough, one of the best perks I have seen is the 3 lens pack that comes standard with all Numa glasses (non prescription orders only). How many glasses companies to you know that offer you three lenses with your glasses? A polarized smoke, a high contrast and a clear,  you are now set for all weather and lighting conditions.. gone are the days of buying and carrying multiple frames. With a quick snap you can change Numa lenses with ease.  

These glasses were created for you and me, they are made for the boat, the blind or on the trail. Dont get me wrong they look great, but they main thing here is that they will hold up all day long day in and day out. They have the outdoorsman in mind right from the start.. we were not an after thought like with many other companies... dont believe me, check out the below video



(Numa Glasses getting run over by a Truck!)


Take if from me, I have owned glasses from sports companies (Nike) and other leaders in the market (Oakley) and these are a superior product...

Bend, Smash, stretch, wear.. now thats a sunglass slogan I can get behind!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Bass Season Comes to a Close!



Today is a sad day, Dec 15ht marks the official end of the 2011 Bass Season (in Ontario) , An although Im in mourning I though what better way to celebrate the season that was by  spend some time reminiscing on some of the highlights of this season.

The focus here is mostly on new products and baits, not necessarily products new in 2011 (although some will be) but more products new to me, lucky finds that made my season better and improved my skills on the water

Lets start off with some of my favorites from the 2011 Season.

Yum Money Craw:

yes this bait has been on the market for a few seasons now, but it was something I continually overlooked. Early this year I decided to give one a test drive and I have never looked back. The money craw is a stellar flipping bait that easily slides into thick cover, and once out of the cover can be swam or hopped back to the boat. Some of the most violent strikes I received on this bait came as I was swimming it.

Colour recommendation: give the red shad color a try, this was my go to flipping bait in 2011






Live  Target Hollow Bodied & Hard Body Frogs: 

So if you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know it is mistitled as "BassJunky" and really should read "FrogJunky" and if 2011 was not the year of the frog then I just don't know what to tell you. It seemed like every major manufacture came out with new and improved Frogs. None better then the Live Target Hollow bodied and hard body (walking) frogs. These two baits not only carry with them the high quality and standards laid out by Live target in their family of baits, but they also improved upon some of current flaws as i see them on many other brands of Frog

The hollow body frog is a fairly light weight and soft shelled frog. It can still cast a mile and has one of the better hook-up ratios of any frog i use. The soft body is the best feature of this frog, far more collapsible then the Spro frog (the industry leader). With size and color options constantly growing the Live Target frog will be a force to rekon with for years to come

recommendation: Give the 55t in Green/Yellow a shot, this is the middle sized frog and mine got hammered so hard this season I had to put it into retirement.

As for the walker frog, this is a great top-water bait for beginners and pros alike. It walks with ease and is great to throw over and around timber. I wish I got to use mine more, but my tournament partner had his on so often i never really got the chance to break mine in. I don't think it ever left his rod all reason long.






Dobyns Rods:

Last but not least Dobyns rods are the biggest new addition to my arsenal, and I think that have made me a better angler over the course of the season. With so many rods to choose from it is hard for me to narrow down a couple to focus on. But as a frog fisherman, I would be crazy not to touch on two rods that really improved my game in 2011

Champion 735c, this rod is a great all around rod and excels in many techniques, one of which is buzzing frogs. Whether I had a mans hard nose, a gene larew triple leg or a Stanley Ribbet the 735c was always up to the challenge. The rod tip is perfect for placing this soft plastic baits into holes and the backbone has the strength to horse the nastiest of largies out of the cover.

The Champ Extreme 795 was my rod of choice for Hollow bodies. This feather lite rod is built like a tree trunk, no rod in my arsenal has the strength of the 795. I originally bought this rod as a flipping stick, but quickly saw the potential as frog rod.




I had a blast in the 2011 bass fishing season. I got to attend some seminars by some of Canadas best bass anglers, I got to test and try out some top quality new products, and I joined the Dobyns Pro Staff team. If I accomplish half of this in 2012 then it will be another stellar year.. until that time, bring on the ice!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Video of the Week: Drop shotting with Electronics

Well Dobyns Prostaffer Paul Meuller is at it again, here is yet another quality video on a technique that has proven its worth in over the past few years. In this video Paul takes the time to show you the value of using your electronics while drop shotting.. take a peek

Saturday, December 10, 2011

3rd Annual Radio World Seminar.. Keeping Ice Anglers Sane since 2009


A few buddies and I took in the 3rd annual Ice fishing seminar hosted by Radio World. This is our second time taking in the seminar, we attended the 1st annual event back in 2009 and were excited to see how much it has grown.

The first event was a crowded room of 19 anglers, and this year the crowded room was stretched to fit 90+ anglers. A diverse group of veterans and rookies listened to some off Ontario's best ice anglers as they talked about baits, rods, lines, electronics and lakes. As usual this event was free to all those attending and there was a ton of great draw prizes to be had.

These seminars help get anglers in touch with some of the sports best, as well as many of the leading manufacturers. Humminbird, Lowrance and Marcum all had reps in house to answer any questions the anglers had. As usual there are always some surprise guests and Pete Bowman and Angelo Viola from the "Fish'n Canada" Tv show popped in to hand out some goodies and spend some one on one time with this group of ice fishing enthusiasts.

This years guest speakers included... (below info provided by Radio World blog)

Barry Graves.. has been a professional tournament angler for over 10 years. He lives in Keswick, Ontario which is right on the south end of Lake Simcoe and home to some of the best mulitspecies fishing in Ontario. Barry is one of the best respected anglers in the industry and proves his skill as he competes on the CSFL tournament trails and other various bass tournaments.
Here is a short list of Barry’s most recent tournament accomplishments.

2009 Bass Pro Shops Open Champion
2009 Casey Cup Champion
2004 Bassmania Classic Champion
3 Time CSFL Team of the Year winner


Jeff Chisholm was born and raised in the Bay of Quinte area. He is an avid year round angler with a special interest in hardwater walleye fishing. Jeff enjoys the challenges of ice angling and discovering ways to make each outing successful. Creativity, innovation, and the latest technology are integral to Jeff’s approach. Jeff is co-host of the fishing radio show Hooked For Life and is also on the Rapala Canada, Humminbird, and Navionics Pro-Staff team.


Big Jim.. There certainly are not enough characters in this blog for an exhaustive list of everything “Big Jim” has done in is career which is approaching 30 years. He started his career as a bass tournament angler and seminar speaker. He is a two time bass Canadian Classic Champion and has 28 tournament wins to his credit. He founded what is now the country’s oldest and largest free fishing publication – Just Fishing with “Big” Jim McLaughlin. Some of the top names in fishing have been featured in Just Fishing like Al Linder, Dave Genz, and Ted Takasaki just to name a few.

Wil Wegman is a regular competitor on CSFL’s Bassmania Trail, he is also an accomplished ice angler. Wil was a member of Canada’s National Team at the World Ice Fishing Championships in 1991. He taught ice fishing courses at Seneca College from 1986 to 2006 and presents seminars on ice fishing across Ontario. Wil has several top ten finishes in the Canadian Ice Fishing Championship and won the 2006 Perch Trap Attack on Lake Simcoe. Most recently on March 12, 2011, Wil and his son Izaak placed 1st in the MS Perch Tournament on Lake Simcoe that saw over 75 teams compete.
Wil is an award winning freelance writer with many ice fishing articles published in various magazines as: Ontario out of Doors, Outdoor Canada, Real Fishing, Big Jim’s Just Fishing and In Fisherman.

This was an all day event starting just after 9:30 am and running until close to 3pm. After the seminar was over many anglers hung around to take advantage of some of the crazy deals that Radio World offered on many ice fishing devices. As mentioned above the surprise guests this year were Pete Bowman and Angelo Viola from Fish'n Canada. They took some time to discuss ice safety and sign some caps for all those in attendance. I think Angelo summed up the day and the event well, when he proclaimed it was great to be in an environment where ice anglers, retailers and manufactures all get together the better their knowledge and grow the sport (im paraphrasing here!).

I have to agree with Angelo, what other retailer do you know that will give up his day and part of his store to provide a free seminar to all those willing to attend. Lunch and coffee was provided and draws for radio world gift certificates kept the day moving. The day ended with a draw from a new Fabill portable hut.

With no ice in the foreseeable future, this keep me sane on a weekend in which i traditionally see first ice. I know I speak for 90 others when I say thank you to Jack and the Radio World crew.. see ya in 2012

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Bass Fishing Christmas List 2011



With Christmas fast approaching, there is no better way to put a bug in my wife's ear about the goodies I would like to find under the tree , then posting a blog (yeah as if my wife reads my blog)

Anyways, as a guy known to have everything there is still a few things I have on my 2011 Christmas list.. i bet a few on them are on yours as well..


Dobyns Coalition  Rods:

you'd think as a guy who currently has about ten Dobyns rods, i would be looking for something else under the tree, but nope, I can always use another Dobyns rod and with the release of the Coalitions series Im looking for a little camo under the tree this year. (for those new to Dobyns rod, I'd recommend giving the 735c a test drive)




Live Target Field Mouse:

as a frog fisherman you think it would be a little blasphemous to start throwing a "field mouse", but hey i already added a bird to my frog fishing arsenal earlier this season so why stop there. And can you really go wrong with Live target baits. There collection of frogs both hollow and hard bodies were some of the best baits I tied on my line this year. I dont think my wide has the heart to buy a mouse like fishing lure, so i dont expect to unwrap one of these beauties this Holiday.



Daiwa T3 Ballistic Reel:

This is another jump in tradition, Im a pretty hard core Shimano guy when it comes to fishing reels. But I have seen some very good reviews on Daiwa T3 Ballistic reel, and im a huge fan of the look and feel of this reel ( thing damn near looks like the bat mobile). The  t-wing design is an interesting spin on a standard baitcaster system and since Shimano continues to mess with a good thing (curado series) It's time to test the market. I have held this reel in my hand and take my word for it, this reel is light weigh and built tuff. Im also drawn to the exterior brake adjustments, the internal system is such a pain to use, this quick on the go adjustment is perfect for on the water.. and under the tree



Triton Mike Bull Shad:

A technique that I have not spent muck time learning is swim baits, and even more so.. big swim baits. The Triton Mike Bull shad is in a league of it's own, a high quality bait that makes fish angry, the Bull shad calls in big bass and they not only hit it, they want to swallow these things whole. Watching video after video of big bass smashing these baits put them at the top of my wish list this Christmas.







Sworming Hornet Alabama Rig:

whats Christmas without the odd gag gift? well to me there is no better gag gift then the sworming hornet Alabama rig, where did these things come from anyways? I think I would rather receive a singing bass (or should I say "another singing bass"). Im sorry I know there are some guys out there catching fish on these rigs, and maybe I will be eating my words down the road. But for now Im going to leave this bait on the stores shelve.




Stocking Stuffers:

whats Christmas without a stocking? here are a few things I would like to find in my stocking on Christmas morning

The Reel Glove - what better way to keep my new T3 Ballistic in mint condition, this is another quality product from the Rod Glove

VMC Spinshot Dropshot Hook - I enjoy throwing a drop shot rig, and this hook looks like it will help keep things running smooth when casting and dragging. Definitely want to give these a shot.

KVD Spinnerbait Slide Chart - there is no more talented spinner bait fisherman then KVD, and even though this thing looks oddly like my wife's Weight Watchers point guide, I still would like to give it a try. Hell it cant hurt my spinner bait technique.


Happy holidays and I hope you find what your looking for under the tree this year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Test Drive a Dobyns, drive away in a Ranger


Now, I would be very surprised if you have not heard about this draw yet, but even if you have, I thought I would take a minute to give you a reminder that the deadline is fast approaching... For those of you who dont know check out the below link for more information

http://www.dobynsrods.com/contestrules.pdf

ELIGIBILITY: THIS DRAWING IS OPEN TO ANYONE THAT PURCHASES A DOBYNS ROD OR PARTICIPATES IN A DOBYNS ROD DEMO PROGRAM THROUGH A PARTICIPATING DEALER BETWEEN NOVEMBER 15, 2010 AND DECEMBER 31, 2011.

HOW TO ENTER: TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DRAWING RECEIVE AN ENTRY FORM FROM A DOBYNS ROD DEALER WITH THE PURCHASE OF A DOBYNS ROD OR WITH PARTICIPATION IN A DOBYNS ROD DEMO PROGRAM.NTRY FORMS MUST BE RECEIVED BY JANUARY 12, 2012.

Dont forget: Deadline for entries is January 12th 2012

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Jaw Jacker Vs. The Automatic Fisherman



A few seasons back I was given what I thought to be a useless fishing gadget. The Automatic fisherman is exactly what it sounds like, a device that sets the hook for the angler while ice fishing.. needless to say i tucked it away in my fishing room (yes I have a fishing room, two actually) where gadgets go o die. But about a year after i purchased it, i decided that it would be good to take with me and use a  rod holder while dead sticking for splake. After missing a few bites I caved in and set up the automatic fisherman (forever after dubbed AF) and.. BAM, the next splake to hit my line, the AF fired and it was fish on.. from that day on I have been hooked (and so have many Splake).

This season while I was introduced to a new Vs. of the AF, this one has some slight modifications and is called The Jaw Jacker. Both of these devices have their place on the ice, let me explain to you the difference between the two, and the pro's and con's

The Automatic Fisherman

I have to start off with the original, as stated above the AF has been in my arsenal for a few seasons now, it is a quick to set up unit, with a hairpin trigger and enough weight to keep it on the ice even in the windy conditions.

The AF is made of a high density plastic and is rated for weather up to -90. It takes a beating on the ice and holds up to being dropped, kicked and knocked around inside you sled.






A metal arm extends out from the front of the AF and has a small metal peg that can be adjusted to set the sensitivity of you unit. I use my AF mostly for perch and splake so I have it set pretty light.

The biggest "con" to the AF unit is the abi\use it can cause to top guide of your rod. The AF trigger sits inside that top guide and can bend and put unwanted pressure on the guide.

You also need to watch your face, a very sensitive set up can be "fired off" by the slightest bump, and a rod whip to the face is not fun in the cold.

When setting up you AF there are two items that I do differently then instructed. First off there is a piece of orange/red tape that the Instructions ask you to wrap around the rod tip to act as a "flag" not sure now usefull this is other then ruining a good a rod. The second thing i change is the bobber. The AF instructions ask you to string a bobber between the first and second guides on your rod. This bobber hangs down and allows the fish to take some line prior to triggering the AF, i dont use this bobber as I felt i was missing fish, and if I wanted to use the rod without the AF I had to retie and restring my rod.. thats a pain.

Overall the AF is a good purchase,  I recommend saving yourself some cash and buying the unit without an enclosed rod. for more info check out the AF website here...


The Jaw Jacker

Alright now for the new kid on the block. I heard some chatter on the legendary ice fishing website http://www.iceshanty.com/ about a device similar to the AF called "the Jaw Jacker" being curious I clicked the link and watched all the videos and was sold pretty much on the spot.

The Jaw Jacker (JJ) brings some unique twists to the table not seen on the AF. First off the JJ is full adjustable, not only can you adjust where int he hole you want your line to drop, but you can also adjust the angle in which your rod sits. Pull a couple pins and "ta-da" your ready to go



 JJ is also rod friendly, it comes with some heavy nylon loops that and be strung through the side of your guides to lessen the abuse the actual guide takes when used with metal on metal pressure.(P.S these can be used with the AF as well)

I will admit I do find these attachments a bit cumbersome, but i much prefer them to the direct contact of the AF. I may look around and do some testing on other options I can find in my local hardware store.


The JJ also has a unique trigger. A small shark fin shaped piece of plastic that the nylon loop slides onto. Like the AF you slide you line into the holder and when the fish bites the lever drops releasing the loop and in turn the rod tip. The team at JJ will be the first to admit that have had a few issues with he trigger when it gets wet (in slushy conditions) it can freeze up, and they recommend spraying some windshield de-icer. I appreciated the heads up and can appreciate a company that says "were not perfect" and then offers some help

The biggest and only real concern I have with the JJ is the weight. This thing is light and not made of a hard plastic like the AF. I have yet to have it on the ice, but i don't believe it will hold up to much abuse if dropped in extremely cold weather (hoping to be proved wrong). One real nice feature of the JJ is that it is full collapsible, it stores easier and smaller then the AF and will fit into most rod lockers for easy transport.

to learn more about the Jaw Jacker click here... 

 When all is said and done you can really go wrong with either of these units. I know I will be carrying both of them with me while on the ice this year and let their performance decide who ultimately wins the battler between the Automatic Fisherman and the Jaw Jacker


(Jaw Jacker & Automatic Fisherman)



Monday, November 28, 2011

Quantum Exo Reel... it's like fishing with air, only lighter!

(photo from www.theifshingreport.com)


I'm not a Quantum guy, in my life I have owned two Quantum reel and promptly sold both of them. But when i started hearing the rumours about the new Exo reel, i thought, "this is something i need to get my hands on" and today i did.

Weighing in at 5.9 ounces the Exo reel does not even feel real in your hands. it feels more like a toy (or a hard marshmallow). This thing is so incredibly light weight it is hard to get comfortable with it. I found it awkward to reel and I had bad flashbacks of me breaking my nephews Wii fishing rod remote (only minutes as he opened it on Christmas morning). I was a questioning the strength and the power of the reel although by all accounts it felt durable.

For those of you reading this and looking for a review, i cant help you, i have not had this thing out on the water, this post is more of a reaction post to handling the lightest reel i have ever picked up.

Handling both the Exo baitcaster and the Exo spinning reel I will say I much prefer the look and feel of the baitcaster. There has been so much material removed from the spinning reel it looks like Swiss cheese. I know how dirty my reels get each season and with openings like that, id be real nervous about the amount of dirt that is getting inside my reel.

My tournament partner is braver then i am, he purchased one of the Exo baitcasters, and I jokingly said "I'm sorry to hear that", but in all honesty if this reel is as Strong as it claims to be, and i know it is as light as it claims to be, then i think we will see a bunch of these on the water this coming season (my local dealer tells me he has sold 10 already.. but all fisherman lie) I recommend that you search one of these reels out, and whether you are a Quantum guy or not, put that reel in your hand..keep your eyes open, or you wont even know it is there.

P.S. I also put my hands on the Exo rods.. very interesting, strange to see the micro guide trend carried over to a collection of spinning rods.. but i think i will stick with my Dobyns rods.

Quantum did a series of mock videos for the Exo, This is one of the better reel videos I have seen, worth a watch if you haven't seen it yet


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ice Fishing... A World of Plastics


When I first started ice fishing the biggest difference (other then the cold) was getting use to buying live bait again. Not since i was a child using worms did I spend time in an actual bait shop buying bait on such a regular basis. But over the past few seasons I have been spending less and less time in search or minnows and wax worms because in that short period of time the "plastics" market has exploded.

Although still dominated by some of the bigger names in the industry (Berkley, Northland) there are a number of small plastics manufacturers that have really started to product quality baits at a reasonable price. Here are a few you should keep an eye out for and maybe you too will spend less time hunting minnows this winter.

Customer Jigs & Spins:

Not exactly a new comer to the ice fishing game, CJ&S has been the standard in ice fishing plastics for years. Their line-up includes  the Ratso, Shrimpo and Rat finkee jigs and all are quality products and panfish slayers.

CJ&S makes each of these baits in close to 20 colors including my fav's.. Pink/White, Motor Oil and Pearltreuse. The bodies of these jigs hold up well and replacement bodies are readily available If you decided to take the plunge and make an order, I recommend picking up some of their "slender spoons" these are some of the best spoons on the market today

http://www.customjigsandspins.com/



J&S Custom Jigs:

J&S are new comers in plastics industry, they have 5 styles of bait available in just over 20 colors, including some glow options. I first heard about J&S when they made the smart move of becoming an sponsor on the icefishing website http://www.iceshanty.com/. Not only did they sponsor the site but they started out by offering a free sample pack that would have 1 of each of the baits they carry. I was so impressed i placed a $20 order to go along with my sample pack. (at $1.99 for a pack of 8, $20 bucks will get you a nice little collection)

The ice mite and paddle bug are my two favourites. they are the perfect size and both have great motion in the water.

You can check them out at the site below, or purchase them from Sportsmans Direct or ReelGoodGuides

be sure to try the glow jigs

http://www.jandscustomjigs.com/



Maki Plastics:

Ok, this part of the post could take a while, Maki plastics must be the most comprehensive of the plastics companies on the market today, with close to 30 different styles of bait and 11 color options of each of the baits, you could be there for a while.

The Maki plastics are a bit more expensive then J&S coming in on average at $2.79 a pack. I own a wack of these plastics, but tend to gravitate towards the "maki", the "eggi" and the "poli" all three make for a simple presentation while in the water with limited movement by the angler.

my colors choices are "glow", "motor oil" and the "red"
http://maki-plastic.com/

KJB Plastics: 

KJB is the first of these companies that I purchased from. They have 21 different bait options and nearly 40 color options.. yes i typed that right.. 40 Color options!

KJB's baits are the most durable of the plastics that I have yet to try. They are made of a firmer plastic but still impart great action while in the water. I will be the first to admit that some of the bait options they provide are kinda useless (the hummer and the grub come to mind) but they also have a few real nice baits.. check out the "V", "Spurn", Hook-Guard" and the "BB Body". for color choices you should give the "silver pearl", "pearlesence" and the "iridescence pearl"

KJB sells their plastics for $1.25  a pack, and ship pretty quickly.

http://www.kjbplastics.com/joomla/


(a close-up mix from some of the above companies)

I know most of these companies are small and not local to most anglers. But they are readily available on-line for good prices. I mix and match the above along with plastics from the Berkley Gulp arsenal. You cant beat the line-up of Gulp waxies, minnow heads, and maggots. They are a bit cumbersome and sloppy in those damn jars, but the product is good. As for Northland tackle they are currently expanding the "Bro Series" that was launched last winter. I really like the "bloodworm and "slugbug" both are excellent crappie and gills baits. but i tend to steer clear of the scudbug. One company I didn't really touch on was Little Atom, and I would be remiss not to mention the "nuggie" a main stay in may fisherman's arsenals. This bait is the best of two worlds, the egg like body holds well on the hook and give off the beaded look that drives many panfish crazy, and the long twitchy tails moves extremely well in the water. Little Atom makes a quality bait but is priced higher then most of the baits listed above

be sure to check out some of these while on the ice this season, they wont completely replace live bait, but you will quickly learn there is a whole new world out there once you get hooked on plastics

Monday, November 21, 2011

Straight line on the Ice .. just fancy talk for a "Fly Reel"




The world of ice fishing has been taken over by talk of "straight-lining" but what does this really mean? Well straight lining is just a fancy way of saying that we have started to use "fly reels" on the ice, and we are better for it!

Pan-fisherman, make up a good portion of the ice fishing population, im one of them, sure i chase giant walleye on the Bay of Quinte and set tip-ups for pike all over the Kingston area, but im most happy jigging for perch, crappies and blue gill on any lake that will hold my weight.  And as a pan-fisherman I know there are certain issues that come with the territory.. light line, and tiny jigs are one of those things.

tiny jigs weighing almost nothing tied to Ultra thin lines and dropped 12+ feet down through an ice hole into frigid water, can only mean one thing.. line twist. It happens, if you have an underwater camera you have seen it first hand, you jig spins when you first drop it and the fish that dont pass out due to dizziness often wander off from boredom as they wait for your jig to stop spinning. Swivel can help this, but with these tiny jigs they are not perfect.

So the other option you have is to join in on the straight-line craze, I know i have.

The first straight-line rod & reel i purchased was a Thorne Bros Quiver stick paired with an Okuma Seirra 4/5 reel. It was magic at first touch, not only does Thorne bros make some of the best rods on the market but they also  will cut the cork handle to fit a fly reel perfectly.  The Quiver stick is ideal for this method of fishing as it is super sensitive but also tuff as nails. You can pull huge panfish out of the depths with ease.



Okuma, makes a great fly reel, and with a few reels available under the $75 range they are the perfect fit for an ice combo. I settled on the Sierra as it was the best price ($35) and I liked the look and feel of the reel. I used some fly line backing (or braid) to fill up the back end of the spool, then attached a 2ft leader of Asso ice line (2lb). This combo is now ready for action.



As the craze slowly built up and then took off, other retailers got in on the action.  Frabill a formidable name in the ice fishing industry has jumped on board this season with a Straight-line combo of its own.  A Frabill branded fly reel paired with a 32 or 34 inch quick tip rod will run you about $60. This is about $50 cheaper then the Thorne bros rod paired with the Okuma reel above.


The quality of rod that Frabill produces is top notch, Im a big fan of of the Quick tip and Ice Hunter series, and I look forward to test driving this combo soon. The reel it self is not up to the standard of the okuma, but may be suited well for the ice.



If your a panfish angler it will be worth your while to give one of these combo's a try. Not only will they reduce (or eliminate your line twist) but they will help increase your catch ratio.. dizzy fish just aren't that hungry

see ya on the ice

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Video of the Week: Fall Turn Over Smallie Fishing

Like most of you guys I love to watch fishing videos, and today I was passed a video from a buddy showing some tips for Fall turn over fishing. I don't know about you, but for me the fall turn over is one of the hardest seasons to fish. In the video Paul sheds some light on some techniques to help put fish in the boat.. and he does that well, in this video.

As a Frog fisherman I learned early to make multiple casts to the same spot, but when fishing cranks and other steady retrieve baits this is often an overlooked task.. But as this video shows multiple casts to the same spot is one of the keys to being successful in the fall turn over. This is just one of the many tips Paul shares, and you get to watch him land one jumbo smallie after another.. take a peek




Be sure to check out more of Paul's videos on YouTube

Sportsman's Direct.com.. On-line Service with a Smile


I recently placed my first ever order with www.sportsmensdirect.com. I was looking for a specific product (Kens Hooks) that I could not find anywhere else and I was pointed in their direction.

When I got to the website for the first time I noticed that they were out of stock on two of the jigs I wanted to order, and not wanting to pay shipping for a small or partial order I emailed them to inquire when they may be back in stock. I got a pretty quick response asking what "out of stock" items I needed and the qty I required.

When I responded with what i was looking for, i got another quick response this telling me that they could take care of me, just place my order on line and choose the current items in stock but in the notes/comment section of my order advise them of what i really wanted (they are all the same price). So I did this and sure enough my order was filled. (and filled correct!)

I got an email letting me know when it shipped and a follow-up email the next week to ensure i got my order. They ship using USPS/Canada Post and cant track packages once they cross over into Canada, so they wanted to make sure I recieved it.. I did.

the last touch was a personal note thanking me for the order (written on my invoice) and a free pack of little atom plastics that had been tossed in with my order.. yes, I know that a pack of plastics is not a huge deal, but the thought behind it was.

I had a great experience ordering from SportsmanDirect, they are a Mom & Pop shop doing what they do best.. taking care of hunters and fisherman, you cant really ask for much more.. Thank you Beth and the SD team

Monday, November 14, 2011

100th Post, 9,000 Views.. Thank You


Wow, another season flew by too fast. In my part of the world there are only days remaining in the 2011 Bass season and then we put the big sticks away and pray for ice. Over the course of this season I have been able to share with you  00 posts.. well 99 if you don't count this one. I have had the opportunity to share my successes, my failures and some personal moments along the way. I thank you all for checking in to see how I'm doing, as this blog thing would get pretty boring quick if I didn't know there were guys out there reading them.

100 posts in, i think most of you can see where I'm coming from and where I'm going. You can expect to see a lot more of the same over the next 100 posts and the 100 after that. I will continue to test out new products as I buy them and share stories of my time on the water. (not to mention the occasional rant).

In the near future I will be posting my top baits list from the 2011 season, then it will be full fledged ice fishing talks. Once the Spring hits, Crappies will be on the brain again, and of course next summer Bass Season will be the hot topic. I hope you keep checking in over the winter months, as although things will slow down a bit on the bass front, there is a lot of fishing to be done.

thanx

Friday, November 11, 2011

GoPro or go Home!




This has been my dream purchase for awhile now, and with the release of the GoPro2, what better time to take the plunge then now! 

GoPro has been making cameras for extreme sports for awhile now (the GoPro2 is a third Generation Camera) and  I often  wonder if they realize now how this extreme camera has changed the way fishing videos & TV is shot and viewed. This tiny little camera can turn the average weekend warrior into a HD Fisherman with only 2 buttons.

Although designed for the extreme sport world the Hero2 is actually perfectly build for a fisherman's needs. the casing is waterproof, and shock proof, and the camera is designed to work in extreme heat and cold. so wether you are on the ice or the water this camera will get the job done. The array of mounts available allow you to place the hero anywhere and still get your shot. Hat/head/helmet mounts are very popular and can been seen on a variety of TV shows. The chest strap gives a great few of the battle and there are many mounts that will secure to your boat to ensure all the action is caught. I have even seen some of these cameras strapped to fishing nets, cook idea, and one i will have to try.

My favourite shots taken from a GoPro are those that watch the strike, the battle, and then dip into the water to catch the last few seconds of the fight from the fishes vantage point. no other camera can boast capabilities like this. (on the ice I love to see shots of the augers cutting threw from underwater, looks awesome)

One of the last perks i will mention is how great this camera is for the solo angler. I spent a lot of time on the water alone, and being able to take shots, of me fishing, and of my catch is pretty important to me, and the Hero is up to the task. setting up the stop motion camera allows it to takes pis every few seconds, a pose for a couple, and toss the fish back, no waiting on timers, no worries about being cut out of the shot. this seems to good to be true.. all i can say is now that i have on.. i want a second one










Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stanley Ribbit, a triple threat in size and tactics


Here it is, the last frog review for the 2011 season. In my area the bass fishing has slowed to a crawl and although I try to get out as much as possible weather and work seem to get in the way. But I did manage to get one last test in on a frog that i think is pretty popular in the market place. When i asked around about frogs to try , the Stanley Ribbit came up on a regular basis.. so here goes.

The Stanley Ribbit comes in 3 sizes, the standard size is 3.5" and the bully comes in at 4.5". then the hot foot and floating models fall in between at 4". (For me the bully and the floaters caught my attention so thats what I purchased on my initial order). The Ribbet is priced right, at under $4 a pack for 5 baits you cant go wrong. They are tuff, durable and fish really well.



Bully Ribbit

Pro's:

I mentioned a few of the "pro's" to this bait in the above paragraph. It has a lot of perks I look for in a frog bait. It is durable, the rubber/plastic this frog is made from is very tuff, it holds up well for multiple fish and has a nice weight so it casts really well and gives you a nice splash and sit-down when in the water.

I like baits that can be fished a few different ways. Many frogs on the market rely on fishing them a certain way to be successful. Not the Ribbit.  The deign allows you to slow roll this bait along the edge of cover, to high speed burn/buzz it or to drag across the pads/slop

The size options are nice, and with three sizes it is hard to complain that you cant find the perfect one. I find the 3.5 a bit small for my liking and prefer the 4 and 4.5 inch models.

The color options available are also pretty unique, especially when you get into the floating models. There are a ton of options many of which come with a white belly, something i have a hard time not buying when i see it. 


Floating Ribbit

Cons':

Not allot to talk about when it comes to cons with the Stanley Ribbit. They are a bit bulky when you get into the larger sizes, but since you have some options there is no need to complain about the larger size ones.

Im not a fan of the material used for the floating model, it is a weird soft almost foamy material. It is much lighter then the standard ribbit and something just feels off about it (love the colors though)

I guess me biggest complaint to these frogs is that they are not readily available in my area.. i have to order on-line. 



Size comparison: Bully (4.5") vs Floating (4")

Weapons of Choice:

As usual the weapon or rod of choice is a Dobyns rod. For me due to the heavier weight of the ribbit i would lean towards using a 735c or the 736c.