SBH Tips and Tricks Video Series

     I've started a series of ongoing simple tips and tricks on my YouTube channel.  The goal is to have a new video uploaded on a regular basis.  The videos will be short and limited to 2 minutes or less.  This will be an ongoing project, and currently it has no real direction.  I have tons of random information on all types angling, that doesn't really require an entire blog post to explain.  I've set up all of these videos to appear on a dedicated play list found here.
     Tight Lines.

Mazo Trout and Trail Fest

Good Morning!!!
     Last week I was given the wonderful opportunity to setup a booth at the Mazo Trout and Trail Fest.  I first heard about the event through the Orvis store here in Madison.  The store was hosting a fly fishing triathlon, an event I was eager to compete in.  I may not be overly competitive in life, but I was curious to see how I stacked up against some of the best local fly fisherman.
     Admittedly, the final decision to attend was kind of last minute.  I had a guided trip on Friday morning, and was leaving for Ontario at 2:30am on Sunday morning.  I still needed to rig rods, pack my clothes, and figure out how I was gonna get across the border without a passport.  Still...it was a local event and I wanted to be in attendance.  I fired off a few messages online and was put into contact with Ben one of the brainchilds behind the event.  He was quick to let me know that the festival was in it's first year and that he didn't want to mislead me.  When I asked what he meant he said, "I'm hoping for 200 people."  That's all I needed to hear to start loading the truck.  I've always been of the belief that exposure need not be to millions, but to the genuine interest of one.
Not a bad setup with only a few hours notice.
     Arriving in Mazomanie I found the location and was greeted by many familiar faces.  All the regulars on the local scene were present.  The boys from MadFlyCasters, Black Earth Angling Co, Trout Unlimited, and of course Orvis of Madison.  I found my spot and did my best to setup a quality booth to show off my guide service.  Once the event was underway I found myself talking more about the wonderful angling opportunities we have here in the Midwest, and less about my personal business.


Kids casting classes on the lawn.
     Wandering around the grounds I was pleasantly surprised by the people in attendance.  Everybody was so welcoming and friendly.  They had food available for purchase (for a local cause), kids fly casting instruction, and a tenkara demonstration presented by Badger Tenkara.  The kayaks generated a lot of interest and I was asked about available dates and if I would be interested in some doing some speaking engagements for a local fishing club.  It was a great time and I was felt lucky to be able to contribute.
Ben competing in the Fly Fishing Triathlon presented by Orvis of Madison.
      The Orvis Fly Fishing Triathlon was awesome!  The contest was happening right in front of my spot.  I watched a guy let loose a 90+ foot cast and saw some of the most accurate casting I've ever seen, seriously impressive stuff.  If you're wondering how I did?  Well, I fired off a 59 foot cast and finished right in the middle of the pack.  I always say I'm just an average angler, and I proved it in the triathlon.
     For a first year event this was a great time.  I really enjoyed the opportunity and would like to thank the Mazo Trout and Trail Fest for allowing me to attend.  Plans are already underway for next years event and you should make plans to be in attendance.
     Tight Lines.

Exhausted Surprises

So tired...
     I'm not gonna lie the last few weeks have absolutely worn me out.  So when my buddy Mike called to see if I wanted to join him and his dad for some shorefishing in Port Washington, WI I politely declined his offer.  After a few more texts back and forth catching up on each others lives, I decided I still had a few more hours of fishing left in me.  So I dragged my sorry butt off the couch and started rigging up a rod to chase King Salmon.
     Mike arrived bright and early as promised (coffee in hand).  While driving up to Port Washington in the dark we talked kids, jobs, married life, and of course fishing.  Once in the parking lot we noticed that our favorite spot was still open and made the mad dash for the railing, narrowly beating out a few others that were gunning for the same spot.
This is what it's all about, if you're lucky you might even catch a fish.
     We quickly double checked our knots and dropped our lines over the side of the wall.  It didn't take long before Mike was hooked up to a nice king, but as you all know, just because you have a fish on the line it doesn't mean you're gonna land it.  That crazy fish ran all over the side of the harbor wall before freeing himself.  Mike's rig was broken, so he retied it and we continued fishing.  This was the way the morning went.  We would hook up, fight the fish for awhile, then lose it. 
Can you tell I normally fish from a kayak?
     After a few hours Mike's dad arrived (with coffee).   That's the way he's been working it lately, "Why should I get up so early?" he always says.  "I'll let you young guys get up stupid early and battle for the spot."  I have to admit that he makes a really good point.  I for one would love to get up at 7am instead of 3am.  He got his rod setup and we continued to hook up and lose fish for most of the morning.  I kept losing fish because of braided line that wanted to dig into the spool.  They lost fish due to tangling up with the lines of other anglers.  It was an absolute blast and I was glad I made the decision to get up early and join these two for some fishing.
     Suddenly Mike hooked up and started the delicate dance of trying to avoid the other anglers lines up and down the harbor wall.  Just then I heard him yell, "It's a LAKER!"  I couldn't believe my eyes as I peered into the water.  For Mike and myself catching a lake trout from shore was kind of like finding the holy grail.  We have both had this fish on our short list of species we wanted to catch, and Mike had one on the end of his line.  I quickly reeled in my line and raced over to the grass to grab the long handled net.  After a quick fight, we had it.  Raising it up over the wall we both just stopped and stared at the beautiful fish.  It was like he had caught a unicorn mythical creature, we just kept on looking at in disbelief.  Still we had to act quickly, so Mike got it unhooked, and I snapped a few pictures.  We then carefully lowered it back down, releasing it into the cold water below.
     We talked about that fish the entire ride back to Madison.  It was one of those fishing moments, that I'll never forget.  Until next time...
Cross another species of the life list.
     Tight Lines.

Orvis Fly Fishing Triathlon

     Ever been curious about which one of your buddies is the best fly fisherman?  Looking for an athletic event that's more angling related?  Then get your friends together and sign up for the Orvis Fly Fishing Triathlon brought to you by Orvis of Madison during the Mazo Trout and Trail Fest.  That's right, a triathlon for fly fishing!!!

The 3 events will consist of:

  1. Distance Casting
  2. Casting Accuracy
  3. Speed Rigging/Rod Setup
     This event promises to be epic and the fact that it's held in conjunction with the Mazo Trout and Trail Fest means lots of fly fishing fun.  The event is both kid and bike friendly with lots of booths, tenkara rod demos, fly rod casting, net dipping, fly tying, and plenty of experts on hand to answer all of your fly fishing questions.
     For more information on the Orvis Fly Fishing Triathlon or to sign up for the event follow the link here.  To learn more about the Mazo Trout and Trail Fest you can find them on Facebook.
     Tight Lines.

Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Tournament Series Part 4

Can't beat the speed of the Propel drive.
     Standing on the dock of the marina, I was suddenly face to face with the one event I was honestly nervous about.  It was the last stop on the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Tournament Series and we were chasing king salmon, on Lake Michigan.  As most people are aware I have very little experience paddling kayaks on big bodies of water.  The waves were bigger and the water was rougher than any water I had paddled in before.  Add to it the fact that I had very little experience trolling for any species of fish and I knew I was in for a couple of hard knocks.
     I slowly paddled out into the harbor trying to remember what I had read online and watched on YouTube the night before.  I told myself to keep my speed down, to let the lines out slowly, to keep the nose turned into the waves, and don't turn to fast or the lines will tangle, the list went on and on.  As I turned the final corner and headed for the open water I was shocked to see how big the rollers were.  "The waters pretty calm today," one of the other anglers shouted over the wind noise.  "Just fish within your limits, it can be a little dangerous."  With that he pedaled away and started to make his way through the gap in the harbor wall.  "I know my limits" I thought to myself, "One quick pass in the open water, just so I can say I did it."
2 inches of water on the floor.
     One pass was all I needed to see that I didn't have the skill level or confidence to stay out on the main lake.  I was gonna be spending the day fishing the harbor.  It's not that I don't think I have the ability.  The issue is I have been battling a rather acute form of vertigo.  It has gotten a lot better, but I've noticed it's always right on the edge of my movements and it seems to show back up at the worst possible times.  Once I was outside of the harbor wall I got a bit of sensory overload and started to have issues keeping the kayak moving in a straight line.  Soon I took a couple of small waves over the side of the Slayer.  Nothing major really, just enough for me to realize that until the vertigo clears up entirely, I had no business being out in the open on a kayak.  I made a slow left turn and headed back for the relative safety of the harbor walls.
A nice view of the harbor and lighthouse from the kayak.
     I was perfectly comfortable inside the walls of the Manitowoc Marina.  I set about deploying my lines and paddling this way and that around the harbor.  Lots of bait was present both in the harbor and in the mouth of the river and I watched my Garmin with excitement as the down imaging constantly lit up with big red balls of little fish.  I lowered my Propel drive into the hull and was soon settled in to a nice (read to fast) pace.  For the next 6 hours I pedaled until my legs cramped up, at which point I would paddle till my shoulders cramped up.  It wasn't pretty, but for a 35 year old out of shape pack a day smoker I thought I was doing pretty good.  Before I knew it though time had run out and I was headed in for the day.  Yup, another tournament that I failed to land a fish.
     I arrived at the docks anxious to ask the other anglers what I had done wrong.  Turns out I had actually done a lot wrong.  The pace I was cruising at was about 2 miles to fast.  Also as it turns out I wasn't getting my baits down far enough in the water column.  It would also seem that my lure spread wasn't wide enough.  Guess I still have a lot learn about trolling for salmon.  Still a lot fish were caught and everybody was in good spirits.  Anglers were swapping stories of the fish that got away.  Many were triumphantly hoisting king salmon into the air comparing sizes and posing for pictures.  All in all 34 kayak anglers caught 25 salmon during this tournament stop.  Not bad considering that the water temps were still in the 60's.
     The days big winner was Mark Rasmussen.  Not only did he win the tournament, but he also won biggest fish, and the whole Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Tournament Series!
The proud series champion!!!
     A big congratulations goes out to Mark for his series win.  He's a phenomenal fisherman and did an outstanding job at every stop on the series.  This years tournament experience has been humbling.  I had no idea it would be so hard to fish in tournaments.  I've learned an amazing amount over the course of the series and would like to take a quick second to thank my family, friends, and sponsors.  I wouldn't have made it this far without all your support and I'm looking forward to an even better 2016 season.
     I really wish that this was the end of this post, unfortunately there is more.  We lost one of our fellow anglers at this event.  I don't want to give out to many specifics out of respect for his family, just know that one of our own didn't return to the dock in his kayak at the end of the day.  He was found by the coast guard unresponsive and couldn't be revived.  He was wearing his PFD and had an emergency radio beacon, but it wasn't enough.  PLEASE be as safe as possible when out on the water.  He left behind a family that loved him very much and a kayak community in which he will be dearly missed, both as a competitor and a friend.  I haven't been out on my kayak since he lost his life.  I still get sick to stomach just thinking about what his final moments on the water may have been like.  My sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends, I'm so sorry for your loss, for our loss.  Please be safe out there, and always remember to fish within your personal limits.
     Tight Lines. 


King Magnet Trolling Series Test Color

     Okay everybody I need your help with something.  For the last few years we've been asking Vibrations Tackle to release their sweet King Magnet Trolling series lure in the ever popular salmon color pattern wonder bread.  We all know the effectiveness of this color scheme on the flicker shads and it just seems fitting that a lure designed specifically to catch the mighty King Salmon should be available in this pattern.  I've been talking to the folks over at Vibrations Tackle and am hoping you can help me get them on board.  If you're interested in the pattern to add to your King Salmon trolling arsenal let them know by commenting below, asking them through the store, or hit them up on facebook.  I think this color pattern has a lot of promise and was able to get them to make me up a few for this weekends tournament.  For information on the King Magnet Trolling Series of lures just follow the link here.  To learn more about the Echotail please visit www.vibrationstackle.com.
Not yet available for purchase...
     Tight Lines.

A Couple Tips for Installing a Fish Finder on a Native Watercraft Slayer Kayak

     Over the last couple of weeks I have answered a decent number of questions through Google+, YouTube, and my personal email about how I have my Garmin EchoMap setup on my Native Slayer Propel.  I started working on a long in depth blog post before I realized that it would be easier to just lay it out in a video.  Hope this helps those that were wondering how I have it setup.  If you have anymore questions about fish finder setups on Native Watercraft kayaks, or any kayaks for that matter feel free to leave to a comment below.
     Tight Lines.

Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Series Final Stop

     This Saturday is the final stop of the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Tournament Series.  The target species is King Salmon and all kayak anglers are encouraged to attend.  This is a total payout tournament and the winner is sure to take home a decent chunk of change.  Lots of door prizes will be given away thanks to some very generous sponsors.  Cost is only $35.00 and can be paid in person the day of the event.  For more information on this and other tournament stops go to www.kayakfish247.com and while you're there, be sure to check out the sponsors page.  Hope to see you on the water!!!
     Tight Lines.