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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

She wasn't quite a 20 incher...

She wasn't quite a 20 incher...but she didn't miss by much. This freaky warm weather combined with low clear water has made for some epic fishing. Today would have been a pretty good day on Lake Erie much less a fair to midling river in Southern Ohio. I guess I probably caught 20 with several more close to the ones in the photos. All on a pearl with blue back curly shad fished in the eddy seam of the first riffle right above a wintering hole.

Monday, February 20, 2017

2/20 SMB

With the truck in the shop and some chores to do at home made a short but sweet trip close to home. Nothing too huge but good numbers today. On a clear with glitter curly shad fished in some pretty fast current for the first time since november. Things are getting ready to really bust loose in a couple days

Thursday, February 16, 2017

a personal hero

I guess I was in my teens when I first met Dan Gapen. It was at the Cincy sport boat and travel show back in the day when there was still a lot of fishing tackle there. He autographed one of his books for me which I still have to this day. For those of you not so old like me you might be wondering who is this Dan Gapen fellow anyways. Well let me tell you for decades Dan was known as the River Rat. He traveled all over the United States fishing river after river for pretty much anything that swims and writing about it. I think it's safe to say that he has forgotten more about river fishing than us mere mortals will ever know. 
Dan's grandfather Jesse built a huge log resort in northeastern Minnesota which people flocked to from all over. His grandfather was also one of the first people to stock smallmouth in these waters which have now become possibly the best smallie fishing on earth. Well Dan's dad decided to strike out on his own and bought a resort on the Nipigon River. When Dan was just a boy he worked in the lodge and was "bait boy" till he began guiding at the ripe old age of 14 on the Nipigon River taught by the native Ojibwa Indian Guides  It was here that Don Gapen created the world famous muddler minnow one of the world's most recognizable fly patterns. Dan learned to tie at six and by age 8 was turning out flies to sell at the lodge. He received 1/2 cent a fly. It was also here on the Nipigon that the Gapens created the first weight forward spinner that would end up morphing into the famous Erie Dearie type lures. Dan started the Gapen Bait Company which he is still CEO of. Dan also in 1964 created the baitwalking sinker which has also morphed into a million different versions used to catch nearly everything that swims. And in 1964 he created the ugly bug, a soft plastic and rubber legged lure on a jighead, again a lure that has morphed into a million different styles that pretty much dominate river fishing today. Dan wrote extensively on various river fishing techniques and in his homespun way covered some very complicated subjects in a way that made sense. I think in one book I own there must be twenty pages alone on all the various styles of just wingdams and how to fish them. In another he covers vertical jigging with blade baits in rivers which is all the rage now in modern river fishing. And thru it all and over the years his enthusiasm hasn't diminished. Last week at the Columbus Fishing Expo he was all excited showing me underwater video of redhorse suckers striking his companies latest fly. He then gave me two. One of which will be put up unopened as a personal momento of one of fishing's legends. 

So let me tell you a little story...

Last week my truck started making horrific noises as I downshifted or accelerated. Horrific, I'm not driving it another foot noises. Bummer So I call a tow truck.Two hours later no tow truck. Bummer. I call them. "We are so sorry, a hydraulic line broke on the truck we will pick it up first thing in the morning". Bummer but OK. No call,no show. Bummer. Eagle towing BTW don't ever use them. So I call, no answer. Eagle towing BTW. I get off work call, leave another message. No answer. Eagle towing BTW. I call someone else they tow the truck to the shop. "Sir your roadside assistance only covers a tow of five miles you will owe the rest". Bummer. I drop off info and keys and go to fishing expo for three days. I get back, give them a day and don't hear from them. Bummer. I call. Well it turns out the owner has had a heart attack! and we "are not sure when we will get to your truck but we are so sorry". Understandable but still a bummer.So last night I go drop off unsold merchandise from the expo. Right by the river so I put a bit of stuff in the borrowed truck and fish a bit. Then today at work, in broad daylight, somebody breaks into three or four cars at work. Stealing the stereo out of the dash out of the truck I've borrowed so I'll have to replace that. My waterproof camera I love. my bulletproof winter hunting and fishing parka, my rod and reel, a small bag of tackle and my rubber boots! In broad daylight!!! Out in front of work!! Bummer.So by the time you total up a stereo, towing, whats probably going to be hugely expensive repair bill, my camera and some reasonably mid to high end outdoor gear I guess I'm going to end up out two or three thousand bucks for the last week. Bummer. I've had better stretches of luck....

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2/14 smb's

Got out for a bit this evening. Fishing as slow as I could thru an eddy with a small clear with silver glitter curly shad and managed a few decent smallies.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kids book...

I wanted to put out there that while you are at the Columbus Fishing Expo you can pick up something cool for your little fishing buddy. The Little Miami Conservancy has put out an excellent children's book. Instead of about dragons or fairies or something made up this one features characters based on wildlife that actually live in our rivers. Small Fry Sonny, an baby smallmouth bass, is swept downstream during a spring storm and carried far from his home and friends at Bass Island Bar. Sonny encounters danger along the way and gets help from several river critters in finding his way back upstream to home. Beautifully written by Bill Schroeder and cleverly illustrated by artist James Billiter, this book offers early readers an appreciation of conservation and river ecology. We will be selling the book for ten dollars in our booth at the show. I know my granddaughter loved it and you will be helping promote a cause dear to my heart, river conservation. And it is the only children's book I know that teaches your kids something about the fish and animals we have around here in our rivers.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sometimes size does matter...

I wanted to talk just a bit on something that I think is often overlooked when fishing soft plastics. This is especially so when it comes to fishing soft plastics in rivers and streams and dealing with current. Here are a few of Vic's soft plastics that I dug out of my fishing pack. I put each of these in turn on a small digital scale to weigh the amount of plastic in each. BTW shameless plug for Harbor Freight, I think the scale was under ten bucks there, love that place. So the 3 inch grub in the middle weighs 1.5 grams while the bigger grub on it's left weighs 4.3 grams and the paddletail swimbait on it's right weighs 4.7 grams. So what's that got to do with anything? Well the paddletail has three times the plastic than the 3 inch grub and even though I don't know how to measure it's surface area I'm guessing around three or four times as much surface area. Or to put it another way three or four times as much area to be acted upon by the current. We often talk about the profile of our baits and how in certain situations the flatter profile of the curly shad better matches the profile of things like shiners or shad. And we talk endlessly and there are millions of theories on color. And we have all seen the times when a certain color outperforms all others. What we don't hear a lot about is a third variable, how you can change your presentation in a river by changing the bulk of the bait you are throwing. Soft plastics allow us to do that in a way almost no other bait does.
I'm drawn like a magnet to seams. Places where fast water meets slower water. Or the seam of a strong eddy right where the water running downstream rubs against the water coming back upstream in the eddy. I think these kinds of places were made for bigger smallmouth bass. It's my theory that a bigger bass has a distinct advantage over it's prey, and smaller bass for that matter, in this situation. You see a fish's lateral line is kinda like an antennae. And the bigger the antennae the better the reception. So in the jumbled up water of a fast seam a big bass is able to pick up an approaching baitfish with his 18 inch long lateral line when the 1 or 2 inch long lateral line of the bait simply cannot pick out the bass at all in the maelstrom of conflicting currents. I don't think we can emphasize enough the importance of a fish's lateral line. I once saw a study done on pike in clear water. In clear water pike that had been blinded hit a lure with better accuracy than pike that could see the bait perfectly well but had damaged lateral lines! Anyway whether or not my theory holds water I do know that I catch an awful lot of big smallmouth bass on seams. Show me a seam below a riffle in a creek, below a lowhead dam in a river or below concrete rubble in a big river like the Ohio and those are the places I'll fish the longest and put the most effort into. I think many really strong and conflicting seams may not hold a lot of small bass because they do not have the length of lateral line to take full advantage of the situation like a big bass does. But they often hold the biggest fish in any given stretch of water.
The problem is that it is pretty much impossible to come up with a practical rule of "well the waters this fast so use a lure this big". I once wrote a piece about how I spent an afternoon floating fallen leaves thru a pool in a little creek. Turns out the water the water acts nothing like the arrows we see in most fishing diagrams. These drastically oversimplify what the waters actually doing. It might be going much slower right on the bottom where its rubbing the gravel than it is just a bit higher. Or tumbling along downstream rolling like wheel and there are certainly dozens of band of different speeds of current across the width of a pool. Plus water curling upstream in eddies or stalling out before continuing downstream. I love the old saying that it is impossible to step in the same river twice. Well trust me its impossible to float the same leaf all the way thru a river pool twice. What you can do, once you do find that big sexy seam is to experiment not only with lure color and lure type in that seam but with lure bulk as well. If I find a seam I like well I'm going to run a three inch grub thru it then a 2.5 inch curly shad and then a three and half inch curly shad and a paddletail swimbait thru there before I move on and possibly all again on a different sized jig head. That's probably one of the few places I'll put that much time and effort into before moving. Even if I'm achieving the same depth with different sized baits they are moving downstream at different velocities. Which often makes all the difference in the world.
It's pretty hard to fish something like a 2.5 inch curly shad or a 3 inch grub wrong. Chuck the thing out and wind it back in and thru most of the year you are going to catch some fish. But you can add so much more to your river fishing by knowing what your bait is doing down there. I have a great little book by Tony Bean called The Last Smallmouth and in it he advocates if you're new to grub fishing going to a small creek where you can see clearly whats going on and dragging your grub over the bottom and paying careful attention to what it feels like.  And doing this on a mud bottom and a gravel bottom and a cobbled bottom and paying attention to how each feels. I've written some pretty ridiculous stuff over the years comparing fishing a grub to everything from Zen to traditional archery. All because I think anything that can help you develop that extra sense of what your lure is doing down there will help you catch bigger smallmouth bass. I can get kind of mystic and full of hot air on the subject pretty easily. You can certainly catch a whole bunch of smallmouth by wading a lot of river and chucking and winding a curly tailed grub or a roostertail or a squarebilled crankbait. But I think over time if you slow down and fish a grub or other soft plastic by drifting it slowly thru good seams you will catch bigger smallmouth bass in rivers and streams. That is one of the real advantages of soft plastics in a river, we can endlessly tinker with retrieve and jighead weight and lure bulk to get the best presentation for any given spot. Anyway like I said I can get kinda full of hot air on this subject but hopefully I've given you a bit of food for thought and something else to try out on the water...

Friday, February 3, 2017

Columbus Fishing Expo time!!!

So I'm pretty excited about my involvement with this years Columbus Fishing Expo. First off it's going to be HUUUUGE, like 155,000 square feet of tackle and gear. And this year Vic and I have a booth like 4 times bigger than last year. Friday Vic will be giving away a sample pack of lures to the first one thousand people in the door. And at 5pm I'll be giving seminar on river fishing and on using soft plastics in rivers and streams at stage D. And I'm really excited about Saturday because I'll be following on stage D Steve Quinn, yep Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Steve Quinn of In-fisherman fame. He talks at noon and I'll be on at 1pm. And then Sunday I'll start off the seminars at 11am and be the warm up act on stage D for Steve Quinn. So I'm super excited about all of that. With the bigger booth we will have more room for everyone so It won't be as congested as last year and hopefully there will be room to do a lot more fish talking in the booth. If you want to go to a fishing expo that is still a FISHING show then this is the one for you. I was like a kid in a candy store last year looking at all the latest tackle. And the fishing seminars go non stop with everyone from the legendary Roland Martin, the latest top pros, top fly fishermen, and all around fishermen and top catfishermen like Ohio's own Mark Blauvelt.

The website for the show is check it out!  the latest in tackle and gear covering 155,000 square fee the latest in tackle and gear covering 155,000 square feet.  th the latest in tackle and gear covering 155,000 square fee latest in tackle and gear covering 155,000 square feet.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Homeless Piano Bar and Grill...

You know when you find a unicorn AND a piano it's been an interesting week's fishing. Lot's of camo fish with teeth on three inch grubs mostly...