Evening Shower Summer Crappies

     A couple years ago I noticed a pattern for summer crappies that I just have to share.  I stumbled upon it by accident and it has been so consistent that I wonder if it works in other parts of the country too.  The gear is simple, an ultralight up to medium rod (depending on the size of your crappies).  4-10 pound test line, again depending on what rod your using.  A crappie jig or lure (Echotail), the minnow look a likes seem to perform best.
     The pattern conditions are pretty straight forward.  On warm summer evenings following a rain shower and just before it gets dark, crappies show up in numbers at the point where a creek enters a lake.  At first I thought it was a fluke because this is a common spot to pick off a one or two crappies all summer long.  So what make this scenario special?  It has been consistently producing large numbers of crappies.  As many 18-20 keeper sized fish in less than an hour.  It seems a little to good to be true right?  Let me explain what I think is happening.
     As evening falls the crappies gather in their normal spots, schooled up, relating to structure, and suspended near weed breaks adjacent to deeper water.  As the rain falls insects are knocked from their perches along the creek and drop into the water.  When the creek begins to swell it carries this food supply into the lakes where it is distributed into the water column.  The smaller fry and "minnows" then move to the lake mouths to eat up the floating banquet.  Soon to follow are the ravenous crappie schools.  It's like my buddy always says, "to find the fish, find their food source".
     Whether you're vertical jigging, bobber plopping some shiners, or casting little spinners across the top of the school, around here the action gets intense.  Next time it rains give this pattern a test run in your area for me.  I am curious to hear if it works for you, or if it's a Madison only kind of thing.
Remember to limit your catch, not catch your limit.
     Tight Lines.

Fly Box Update August 2014

     So long story short I seem to be accumulating more flies.  I must admit that I enjoy just looking at them as much as I do fishing them.  This collection was supposed to be just for chasing bass and carp.  Then my goal was to collect musky flies over the winter.  Somehow I got distracted by the myriad of designs.  Which I guess is part of the fun.  Here is an updated list as of August 14th, 2014.

  • 6 Woolly Buggers in Black, White, and Brown
  • 4 Vernille San Juan Worms in Red and Tan
  • 6 Clouser Minnows in White, Black, and White/Olive
  • 2 San Juan Worms in Red with bead
  • 2 Gibson's Dragon Flies
  • 2 Predator Pounders in Green and Orange
  • 1 Dancing Frog
  • 5 Jan's Carp Ticklers in Green, Orange, and Red (love these)
  • 2 Crystal Buggers in Black
  • 2 Fluttering Blue Damsels
  • 3 TH Medusas in Red and Pink
  • 2 Graw Dawgs in Brown
  • 1 Superfly Terrestrial Assortment-6 Hopper Imitations
     Of course this is a list of just the newest flies.  The flies from last months inventory post are in the box still too.
   Tight Lines

How to Cast a Spinning Reel Without a Bail

     Casting a bail less spinning reel is easy.  All you have to do is practice and follow these 3 steps.

  1. Lift the line off the bearing.
  2. Hold the line against the rod.
  3. (Cast) doesn't count as a step since it's in parenthesis.
  4. Pinch the line back against the rod and reel in the line.
     For more information I made up a quick video to help explain the motions required.
     Tight Lines.

Removing a Spinning Reel Bail for Threadlining.

     So in my previous post on "Threadlining" I brought up the fact that the most commonly used reels were antique ultralight bail less spinning reels.  These reels are proving extremely difficult to find so I decided that I needed to modify a modern reel.  I located an inexpensive spinning reel.  This was a test after all, so I didn't want to destroy a perfectly good reel if this didn't work.
     First- you will have to remove the screw that attaches the non line roller side of the bail wire to the reel.
     Second- remove the screw that holds the line roller and bail wire to the reel.  This one is pretty tight so make sure you have the correct size of phillips screwdriver so you don't strip out the head of the screw.
Brace the reel if needed, it's really in there.
     Third- free the bail wire and line roller from the reel.  This will normally come off in one piece, but keep your eye out for any small parts.
     Fourth- step is a little tricky, you need to cut the bail wire off the line roller.  I used a hacksaw for this, but a dremel tool with cutting disc would be another good option.  Be careful not to scar up the line roller to bad or you will need to spend a lot of time polishing it so it doesn't damage the line while reeling (trust me).
1000 grit sandpaper and polishing compound may be needed to smooth it out.

     Fifth-reattach the line roller to the reel.  This is as simple as tightening down the screw.  Just a heads up, without the bail wire to hold it in place you may need a set of needle nose pliers to help hold the line roller while under tension.
     Sixth-this step is optional, but I found it helped.  Remove the bail trip assembly from the reel, being careful not to lose the spring.  Apply some super glue or epoxy to the housing and reattach the bail trip assembly to the reel.  This step is optional, the reason I say that, is that without the glue the reel will function fine and be ready to fish.  The reason I ended up needing to glue the housing in place was that even without the bail wire, I would instinctively try to flip the bail open instead of just lifting the line with my finger.  Having the housing glued in place helped me to learn the required muscle memory faster.
Careful not to lose that spring.
A little glue helps the process.
     Well that's all it takes to make a reel bail less.  Obviously some reels may require more work than others, but this is the basics.  Now that you have a bail less ultralight reel you can eliminate line twist, have a more even tensioned line lay (less line loops), and get a smoother more fluid cast.  With some practice you'll be casting as well as you did with the bail wire on the reel.  So how do you cast a bail less reel?  Will cover that in the next SB Hero blog post.
Bail less and ready to fish.

     Tight Lines.

Radical Ultralight Fishing and the Flip Cast

     A few months ago I saw a video that sparked a flame of curiosity.  It was shot with a high speed camera and showed the great Texas fly fisherman Joe Robinson demonstrating a series of casts with a spinning rod.  Casts that I had never seen before because the evolution of spinning rod design had long made them obsolete.  Mr. Robinson's term for this style of fishing was called "threadlining".
Photo Credit to Scott Wallace
     Threadlining was the use of extremely specialized gear to cast 1/64th-1/4th ounce lures to highly pressured bass and trout in crystal clear waters.  I quickly became intrigued by this specialized fishing style.  Not just because of the lack of effort in the cast, but because the gear was fascinating.  The rods are custom made from 0-3 weight cut down flyrod blanks, and the antique bail less reels were spooled with 7x fly tippet.  Not fishing line, just the tippet you attach to your tapered leader to turnover a fly at the end of a cast.  This is the radical edge of ultralight fishing and the catch potential of this style is off the charts.  Not necessarily huge fish, but lots of them.  Plus with the learned rod control that will come with mastery of the flip and snap cast, I should be able to get those little echotails into some pretty tight spaces (under trees, bridges, docks, etc).
     I have had some success playing around with the ideas, and only with more practice will I know if the theories work around southern Wisconsin.  For more information check out the video below or follow the link to buy a copy of Joe Robinson's book, at www.piscatorialabsurdities.com.
     Tight Lines.

Been Busy

     So these last few weeks has been pretty busy.  Started up the Zazzle.com store so I am know happy to announce that the Shorebound Hero hat and performance tee is now available, and shockingly a few have already sold.  Just follow the link to join the army of shorebound anglers who believe, you don't need a boat to catch a trophy.
     I received my new jersey from Rayjus.  It looks great and as always the crew over at Rayjus did an awesome job on the design and layout.  It is loud and gaudy and has already gotten quite a few people to ask me about the different companies displayed on it.  Which in turn gives me an opening to show off the lures and hand out business cards and promo information.
     Lastly, I have been doing a lot of template and layout changes to the blog.  I have added direct sponsor links, SEO optimization, and a language translator at the request of some international readers.  I have been back to my regular schedule of fishing and guiding 4-5 days a week after a rocky start to my summer due to a loved one losing her cancer fight.  Been doing everything from fly fishing, ultralight fishing, catfishing, musky fishing, and preparing to make a run on an IGFA line class record.  I want to thank all those who have supported me.  Vibrations Tackle, Nauti Lures, and Pink Fishing, if you guys need any help during the expo season in the booths let me know, I am happy to help.  Finally to all my readers THANK YOU.  
     Tight Lines.