Archive for January 2013

SOMETIMES A JON BOAT IS BEST   3 comments

Sangchris Lake 0005

If one asks a dozen anglers what they want in a boat, you will get a dozen answers.  It all depends upon the species sought, how one wants to fish, and where he does his fishing.  With the upcoming season, many of us will be looking for a new boat.

If fishing large lakes or reservoirs, then of course the large fast traveling bass boat may be the ticket.  However, bass seem to have separate home ranges dependant upon depths which change seasonally.  Some fish live deep, while others will always be in the shallows for part of it.  They might be up tight to the bank when feeding and pull out to mid range in a cove as conditions change.  This is where air and water temperatures come into effect.

You can catch fish with small home ranges from small boats.  Small boats also come in handy to get into ponds and lakes that are not easily accessible.  Once in the water, there is little need to move around at a high rate of speed.

In southern Illinois, there are a number of lakes that have horsepower limits for boat motors.  A large boat is more of a handicap when using these small motors.

The small Jon boat is the boat of choice for many southern Illinois anglers.  Coupled with a 9.9 horsepower motor, the Jon boat works on virtually any body of water within the state.

This is not to say that the Jon boat is perfect.  It can be dangerous if not respected. Although they have a flat bottom and are quite stable, a Jon boat that is overloaded can lead to problems.

The Jon boat has little distance between the top of the side to the water level.  They often are quite narrow across the beam.  One that is overloaded can shift and take on water very easily.  It is important to remain seated while fishing so as not to jeopardize the stability of the boat.

All boats manufactured since 1972 have a maximum capacity plate some where on them.  It is important in using a small boat to not exceed the load limit of the boat.  The plate will say that the limit is a certain number of persons or pounds.  It is important to remember that the number of pounds includes, the people, motor and fishing gear.

If two 200-pound anglers get in the boat and have a 70-pound motor, they are up to 475 pounds load.  If the load limit of the boat is 500 pounds, that leaves 25 pounds for anchor, safety equipment, tackle, cooler, etc.

Jon boats are popular with catfishermen on small and large bodies of water.  Some catfishermen will like to use two anchors.  From a small Jon boat, that is not a good idea.  If fishing in a river with fast current, one should anchor only from the bow.  To do so from the stern can cause water to drive the transom down toward the waterline and could plunge the stern under.

If anchoring with both a bow and stern line and with the boat across current, it is possible that the bow anchor may fail and the boat has only the stern line to hold.  If one is in this position, it is better to cut loose the stern line rather than try to pull in that anchor.  The act of pulling the line can force the transom down into the water.

If one is planning to fish a large body of water with a small boat, it is a good idea to check a map of the area for roads that will place you close to the area you want to fish.  Many wildlife management areas have service roads that dead end at the shore.  Small boats will slip into the water from such areas where a larger or heavier boat could not.

Jon boats are also good for moving between slips and docks where larger boats would find the going difficult.  The small boat can just get into and out of small places where the regular angler will not take the time to work.

Often maps will show a creek that empties into a good bass lake.  Several miles upstream, there may be a gravel road crossing that creek.  A small boat put in from the road, allows the angler to work that creek (both sides) down to the larger body of water and back.  This can present a fun morning of fishing action that most anglers might overlook.

Small creeks tend to be shallow and the people with the big expensive boats do not want to jeopardize the finish of them.  The person with a shallow draft aluminum Jon boat can work the water and take large bass that may be hiding there.

Another advantage of the small boat is the cost.  New such boats are not overly expensive, but there is a healthy market of used Jon boats out there.  Many anglers begin with small boats and then trade up as they become able.  Often the small boat is still in very good shape, it is just that the angler thinks he “needs” that larger boat.

The best time to buy a used boat is during the early spring, late fall, and winter.  There are boat shows with sales on the big boats and people want to trade up.  This leads to a large market of small boats with which the dealers want to bother.

There is not a lot to check out on small boats and motors. However, if you are new to boat ownership, it is a good idea to pay someone to check it out.  Motors that have been stored over the winter might need some cleaning up in the spring to make them “sea worthy”.

In today’s market of high-speed bass boats, the Jon boat is over looked.  Nevertheless, when it comes to catching fish, big and fast is not always better.

Advertisements

CHICAGO SPORTSMENS SHOW IN ROSEMONT ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

Family Fishing 0028

During the 30 years I lived in Chicago, I usually attended what would become known as “The Rosemont Show.”  It was originally held at the International Amphitheater on the Southside.  When the building was torn down the show moved to what is now called the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL on River Road near O’Hare Field.  It is a great example of the hundreds of outdoor shows that are open this winter across the nation.  This one is open today through Sunday.

All the hoop-la this week about the closing of the Eastern Sports Show in PA I thought about the old Rosemont Show was once owned by the same people, and how they almost destroyed it with mismanagement.  The Rosemont Show is now back and open this weekend.

For more information on hours and ticket promos check out their website at www.chicagosportsmenshow.com.  There is a Ticket Promo Food Drive for Discount Tickets.  All the food goes to Charity.  Kids under 11 get in FREE.  If you buy tickets on line for a discounted price you will receive a 1 year free subscription to Field and Stream or Outdoor Life.  Kids coming to the show in scout uniforms also get in FREE.

WHATS GOING ON AT THE SHOW

Hall of Fame Spence Petros Speaking and giving away marked lake maps of Lake Geneva and Lake Delevan on Friday.

Hall of Famer Bob Mehsikomer Speaks at the show with added discounts each day from A TEAM TACKLE.

Musky Panel on Sunday of the show features SPENCE PETROS, BOB MEHSIKOMER, DON PURSCH from Neilsons Fly In  and is moderated by Steve Sarley from the Outdoors Experience.

Grandt Rods release of their 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Series Rod line.  Thirty years of technology wrapped up in one special piece.

Speakers will include Jonathan VanDam Bassmaster Champion will be present. Tommy Skarlis All Time Money Winner in the Walleye Circuit. Mike Mlednick Smalllmouth bass expert from WI, Writer and full time guide.  Greg Bohn Mr. Walleye and Slip Bobber Techniques and Gene Ellison The Fishing Machine Bassmaster Champion.

MIDWEST OUTDOORS will present cooking segments and will be live at the show.

HUNTING EXPERT from the Outdoors Channel Mark Millis adds his expertise to the discussions.

Kids Zone is a real attraction to preserve our next generation of Anglers.

Illinois DNR Booth and Seminars are always popular.  Illinois Conservation Foundation Giving away Rods and Reels to the kids.

Chauncey’s Great Outdoors Programs present several hundred FREE TACKLE BOXES to the Kids on Sunday.  There is also the Kids Treasure Hunt on Saturday.

OSG TROUT POND has special promotions for the kids every day. Sponsored by Pure Fishing 50 packs of swim baits given away each day at the OSG TROUT POND.

3-D Archery Shoot at the show .

The Gun Show Presence at the show provides Education on Guns and Safety as well as some gun dealers and support.  This is the first ever gun show in Chicago Rosemont on Saturday.

RV DEALERS and BOAT DEALERS display their products, as do many retailers in Fishing and Hunting.

Lodges and outfitters from all over are present to answer questions and book that next vacation.

PLUCKY PRE-SPAWN CRAPPIE   Leave a comment

Cold Rend 0011

Lake of Egypt provides plenty of early season crappie action.  Located less than 10 minutes south of Marion, Illinois the lake provides challenges for the crappie angler.

Local anglers fish for crappie all year if there is no ice on a lake.  It is just a matter of knowing what type of cover attracts fish under specific weather conditions.

On Lake of Egypt, the water temperatures are warmer than other lakes in the area.  It is a cooling lake for a power plant.  The fish here relate to structure but it is different structure than is usually found in crappie lakes. The lake has a variety of structure from creek channels, rip rap, fallen timber, stumps, and roadbeds as well as weed beds.

This 2300-acre reservoir is located 3 miles east of Interstate 57, about seven miles south of Marion.  Located in Williamson and JohnsonCounties, Lake of Egypt is a power plant cooling lake.  The resulting warmer water results in a shoreline loaded with Milfoil and other weeds to a depth of 8 to 12 feet.

The lake has 93 miles of shoreline with a maximum depth of 52 feet and an average depth of 18.5 feet.  Much of the shoreline contains construction with the exception of that southern portion that is the property of the U. S. Forest Service and is part of the Shawnee National Forest.

When the Crappie on Lake of Egypt go deep, finding them can be very tough.  Casting jigs tipped with minnows to the outer edge of the weed lines in search for the crappie suspended there is the most popular pattern.  A favorite rig is to suspend a jig about 30 inches below a float.  Then mooch the jig to the boat in deeper water.

The fish tend to relate to woodpiles if they can find them in the deeper water.  Anglers will find suspended fish over woodpiles in 12 to 18 feet of water.  Locating that wood is the problem.  The brush piles in Lake of Egypt lie beneath the surface.

Egypt is a lake with many necks and coves.  Points at the main lake end of these coves often have brush and will hold fish this month.  The problem arises if the fish decide to move off the wood.  In the deeper water, electronics are helpful to stay on fish and to get a minnow down to them.

Local anglers sometimes use light line, seldom exceeding 4 pounds test.  They lose less tackle with the four-pound line, but catch more fish with the two pound.  They like to cast Road Runners with red heads and white bodies in the 1/16  to 1/32nd ounce size.  They also have good luck with a hot pink jig or occasionally fishing a minnow below a float on the weed line.

The staple of crappie fishing, the jig and minnow is also popular with local anglers on Lake of Egypt.  It can be cast to the weed line and jerked slowly back to the boat or dropped vertically into the crappies strike zone.

Water temperature at Lake of Egypt will effect the location of the fish.  The power plant at the north end affects the water temperature in that portion of the lake.  A north wind will usually push that warmer water over the weed beds located in that portion of the lake.

The best angling on Lake of Egypt occurs when the power plant at the north end of the lake is running.  It generates hot water into the lake.  Most anglers begin fishing at the discharge and work their way south.  The warm water attracts baitfish and the crappie follow.  If the power plant is down, the fishing slows.  If the water temperature is in the 50’s the fish will be in a transition period.  If they are not yet at the weed line, one can look for a rocky break line and woody areas on the east side of the lake.  Sunny coves on the north end of the lake are also a good place to look for crappie during this month.  The best fishing seems to come in the early morning and in the late afternoon.

When fish are deep, a crappie rig of a sinker on the line below two hooks can be deadly at locating the proper strike zone at which the fish will feed.  On warmer days late in the month, one can switch to a wood pattern.

Brush piles, although present, are unmarked.  With good electronics, they can be located and fished for suspended fish.  Stumps on eroded shorelines are areas available for the angler without such modern conveniences.

In spring, many frontal systems pass through Illinois.  They are full-fledged cold fronts that blast down from Canada which collide with moist warm air masses pushing up from the south.  This combination can cause severe thunderstorms with accompanying lightening.  Anglers should pay attention to these conditions.

The fish are more catchable just prior to the passing of one of the cold fronts.

Like most crappie lakes in Illinois, there is a 30 fish limit per angler.  Most crappie taken from this lake average one-half to one pound in size with some topping two pounds taken each year.  Some of the larger fish come in March when the female are getting full of eggs.

SHORTER PONTOON BOATS   2 comments

058084-R1-74-74

The smaller pontoon boats are popular with anglers and families just getting into boating.  They make a good first boat for the “barge crowd.”

Larger pontoons tend to get the press but the small ones seem to sell better according to some industry insiders.  Perhaps it is the smaller sticker price.  Perhaps it is the trailerability.  Perhaps it is the handling features of the smaller craft.  Perhaps it is all of the above and more.

Take for example, the 18-foot models from Missouri based G3. (Website at http://www.g3boats.com)  The Sun Catcher pontoon boats can be purchased in a cruise (18c) and a fishing (18f) package.  Looking them over, there are advantages to both packages and what is lacking in one may be available in the other.  The choice becomes the customer’s.

The purchaser of a pontoon boat needs to first determine just what he/she plans to do with the craft once they get it home.  For instance, the fishing seats and larger livewells on the fishing pontoon boat are better for the angler.  Perhaps the angler has small children or an unsteady elderly fishing partner.  Then he might prefer the higher railings and ladder attached to stern so that anyone falling into the water can more easily get back onto the deck.

Both craft are 18-foot by 8’5″ in size on the deck.  Both have 18-foot pontoons that are 23″ X 25″ with closed cell flotation foam.  The maximum horsepower rating is 75.  It fits nicely into the all aluminum motor pod.  The cruise model has a large fuel tank with 30 gallon capacity over the fishing model’s 23 gallon.  The livewell on the cruise model is 9 gallons compared to the 12 gallon one in the fishing models.

In addition to these small differences, the two models have more significant differences above deck.  The basic difference is in the deck arrangement.  The forward seating on the cruise model is more of a furniture arrangement.  The wrap-around forward couch is a design tailored to pleasure boating.  The fishing model has a lounge style couch and pedestal table as well as the captains seat that provide comfort.

Fishing models have two additional pedestal seats forward and aft  for anglers to enjoy comfort while fishing off the roomy deck.  Next to the lockable seven and a half foot rod locker, is positioned the console contains full instrumentation, rod holders and the aerated livewll.  Seated in the captains seat is located so that if affords full 360-degree view for safe handling whether docking or cruising.

Both models contain AM/FM/CD/stereo sound systems by Sony.  The standard 9-foot Bimini top allows one to fish in shaded comfort on the hottest days of summer.

Both models have 12-volt electrical systems.  The fishing model also has a 12-volt motor wiring and outlet for the trolling motor.  The entire electrical system is on breakers as opposed to fuses.   There are no docking lights but they could be added as an after market item.  There are navigational lights in the standard packages for both craft.  The floor level courtesy lights are a nice addition and helpful in locating tackle while night fishing or in low light conditions.

The comfort of the 18-foot aluminum Sun Catchers provides the angler and family with an opportunity for a quality outdoor experience at a minimal price range.  It is an excellent entry craft into the sports of fishing and recreational boating.

BUYING A NEW FISHING ROD   1 comment

Shrine Kids 0002

Have you ever gone into a tackle shop and someone called out, “Hey stupid?”  If you are shopping for a fishing rod, perhaps you think they are talking to you.

Rods are made of varying materials and the technical descriptions in the literature can be very confusing.  There are terms such as modulus graphite, action and sensitivity.  There are rods made for bass fishing, for salmon, catfish, panfish and just about every species imaginable.

Most of us look for a rod to catch whatever jerks our line.  So how do we pick the right rod for the job at the price we can afford?  Maybe the following will help.

It is possible for the average angler to find a very serviceable rod at a reasonable price.  You just need to stop and think about the purchase in advance.

Consider the rod from tip to grip.  Popular are the ones that have a blank that extends through the handle.  That is, the rod continues from the dip down through the handle providing strength and hook setting power without sacrificing the sensitivity to feel light bites.

The guides through which the line is passes should be of ceramic construction.  Heavy duty guides will spread the load force evenly and the ceramic inserts eliminate the most line friction.

We need to decide what species of fish we are most likely to encounter and the technique we plan to use.  That is, will we be suing a rod to haul in large catfish, or finesse a walleye with a delicate presentation?

It probably does not make common sense for someone who fishes only a few times per year to spend a lot of money for a high end rod.  We all should buy the best rod that we can afford.  The rod will give many years of service if treated carefully.

It is important to not exceed the recommended line or lure weight when using a rod.  Often that will void the warranty.  Altering the rod the rod will do the same.  Of course slamming a rod in a car door or letting Fido chew on it does nothing for its performance.

Rods are made of fiberglass or graphite.  The term modulus is probably the most misunderstood feature of rod blank materials.  It refers to the stiffness of the fibers and resins in the rod, and how quickly the graphite or fiberglass recovers after flexing.

Modulus alone is not a good way to choose a rod.  It does not control rod action and power.  The quality of the resin, the wall thickness of the blank, and the taper design affect a rod’s action.  This combination of design features provide a unique action and feel that makes all rods different.

The action of a rod is determined by where it flexes along the length of the blank.  Faster action rods flex mostly near the tip.  Moderate rods flex more near the middle and slower action rods flex down into the butt section.  The action is usually marked on the rod shaft in terms such as extra fast, fast, moderate fast, moderate and slow.

Power in a rod refers to the amount of pressure required to flex the rod.  It is expressed in terms such as ultra-light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy and extra heavy.  The importance of power is in determining what range of lure weight and line size to use with the rod.  You simply limit your choice of rod to those designed to cast the weight of lure or line size that you use in normal fishing.

Handles of rods come in a multitude of sizes, materials and configurations.  Perhaps the most popular are made of cork.  But, a black foam-like material, called EVA by Berkely, is available on rods in all price ranges.  The material choice of configuration and materials for handles is a personal preference.  It is a matter of what feels good.

Rod choice is not easy.  But if you do a little advance study and take time in consideration of the matter, a very serviceable rod is available at a price you can afford.

Posted 01/20/2013 by Donald Gasaway in Freshwater Fishing

Tagged with , ,

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS BOAT & FISHING SHOW   Leave a comment

058084-R1-62-62

The Southern Illinois Boat & Fishing Show returns for the fifth time to the Williamson County Pavilion the weekend of February 1 through 3, 2013.  The popular FREE event contains something for everyone and has become a sure sign of spring returning to southern Illinois.

Outdoor recreation is a way of life in southern Illinois and no one wants to miss this look into the fun ahead this spring.

Produced by Williamson County Tourism Bureau & Youth Outdoor Education Foundation, this popular event is an educational as well as fun event.

A combination of free parking, free admission, free seminars, an advance look at the latest is watercraft and fishing equipment, is enhanced with entertainment by Camo The Clown, and the Tom Cat Hill Social Club’s bluegrass music.

Boat dealers such as Harrison’s Sport Shop, Kentuckiana Yacht Sales, Kinkaid Village Marina, Mt. Vernon Mariner, Rend Lake Marine & RV, Rend Lake Marina and the Anna Jonesboro Motor Company will be present with the latest in boats and to answer questions about watercraft as well as their operation.  Other boat and fishing vendors will also have a variety of products and services available.

The Tom Cat Social Club will entertain with bluegrass music.  The kids will love Camo the Clown with his educational and entertaining seminars on conservation and outdoor ethics.

Fishermen will not want to miss the seminars.

The show hours are Friday, 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., Saturday 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

For further information contact Williamson County Tourism Bureau at 1-800-GEESE-99 or http://www.visitsi.com.  The email address is info@visitsi.com.  The show will be in The Pavilion at 1302 Sioux Drive, Marion, IL.  That is just north of the Illinois Star Centre Mall.

KENTUCKY LAKE EARLY CRAPPIE ACTION   Leave a comment

KY0001

It is a cold morning, but warm by Illinois standards for this time of the year.  Taking the crappie off the hook is a surprise.  It is like removing an icicle with bear hands.  The fish are cold but the action, like the air soon warms.

Beginning early in the year, crappie action begins to pick up in the famous fish factory known as Kentucky Lake.  As water temperatures reach 40 degrees the fish begin to migrate from the 20 to 25 foot range to more shallow areas of cover in the 10 to 15 foot range.  As they do, they also begin to feed for short periods if not disturbed.  It is the beginning of crappie season.

The lake is 180,000 acres of impoundment formed by the 8,700 foot dam across the Tennessee River.  The dam was built in l944 and forms a lake with a shoreline of 2,300 miles, much of which remains in its natural state.

The entire eastern shore is recreational area.  It is part is known as Land Between The Lakes.

Getting back to the crappie action, there are two things the angler must take into consideration:  what is the water temperature and what color jig to use?  As mentioned earlier, the water temperature determines the depth at which one should find fish.  As the water begins to warm, the fish will move to different depths.  Water temperature in the 40’s produces fish in 20 to 25 feet of water and suspended.

When the water reaches 50 degrees the fish will begin to bunch up in the 10 to 15 foot depths with some going as shallow as 4 to 8 feet to feed.

Crappies in the lake like to stay close to wood.  This makes areas with creek drop offs containing natural stumps a hot spot.  Next in popularity are those drop offs with brush piles.  A third area is any area with stake beds near submerged brush piles.  Stake beds are a popular fishing location.

They are nothing more than wooden stakes pounded on end into the lake bottom.  The fish relate well to them, particularly in the spring when crappie will relate to anything wooden.   Many of the stake beds are marked and locals can tell you where others are located.

As for the color of jig to use, water conditions will determine that for you.  If the water color is murky to muddy then a black/chartreuse, red/yellow, red/chartreuse or hot pink is good.  Chartreuse, white/chartreuse, smoke/blue and smoke/red usually produce in slightly stained water.  Clear water means that salt/pepper, clear/glitter, orange/chartreuse or any color with flash.  Jigs in the 1/8th to 1/32nd ounce size are best.

Another factor to keep in mind in fishing early season crappie is that they are very easily spooked.  Too much noise in a given area will scare the fish into moving or stop feeding.  To prevent this, once the fish are located, is to back off and make long casts.  A weighted float cast beyond the area, then pulled through the area with 30 second pauses, improves chances of success.  It is important to remember that crappie feed upward.

Keep lures above suspended fish.  Strikes will usually occur after a pull as the jig starts to settle to the bottom of the length of line under the slip bobber.  The bite will be light and knowing when to set the hook is a matter of experience.

Water clarity and bottom structure help locate fish.  If the bottom is sand and weed mix, then it will warm sooner as they hold the suns warmth better.  Cloudy water also warms up more quickly.

This information should help you locate early crappie on Kentucky Lake.  Later the fish will move shallower but that is another story.  Local marinas and bait shops are the best source of information on just where they are biting today.  The purchase of some jigs may just produce information on a hot area.

Regardless, if one likes to fish without a lot of competition and is tired of ice fishing this time of year, Kentucky Lake is the place to head.  More information about the fishing action is available at the official website: www.Kentuckylakefishing.com.

%d bloggers like this: