My Favorite Native Watercraft Accessories Part 2

     Gadgets and accessories are a big part of the angling experience.  We all love them and happily hand over our money in exchange for an item that promises to improve our time on the water.  Kayak fishing is no different, so here is a couple more Native Watercraft accessories that I can't live without on the water.
Cam-Lok Double Paddle Rest
     First up is the Cam-Lok Double Paddle Rest.  This handy little device holds your paddle when on the water.  It mounts to your kayaks groove track system and allows you to securely rest your paddle across your lap.  Just set the paddle down in the soft rubber cam strap and you're fishing hands free.  Need to paddle again?  Just lift the paddle and the Cam-Lok Double Paddle Rest will release and your back in motion.  No more fumbling around trying to cast while balancing your paddle at the same time.  This little tool makes fishing from a kayak a breeze and since it's made of rubber it won't scratch or mar your carbon fiber paddle shaft.  As a sweet bonus, it fits in all aftermarket track systems so you can use it even if you don't own a Native Watercraft.
Fishing Buddy with Rod Holders
     Next is an item I feel is a must have if you fish from a kayak.  It's the Fishing Buddy with Rod Holders.  It's a fishing crate, and so much more.  We all have a fishing crate to hold gear when out on our kayaks.  The difference in this crate design is most evident when you're leaving the water.  This fishing crate has handles!  This makes packing up your gear and getting it to the truck much easier.  All I have to do is toss all the electronics, tools, and my PFD into the Fishing Buddy with Rod Holders.  Stick my rods in the holders and grab my paddle.  One trip to and from the vehicle, this saves a ton of time.  It holds 6 rods, has multiple pockets, and is built like a tank.  I have been extremely hard on this accessory and it has taken it in stride.  Once again this works in any kayak so you can reap the benefits regardless of the brand of kayak you currently own.
     These two Native Watercraft accessories will change the way you fish from a kayak.  As anglers we are always looking for an advantage on the water.  Whether you fish in tournaments or fish a local pond on the weekends anything that makes life easier is a plus in my book.  Check out these and all of the other great kayaking accessories at NativeWatercraft.com.
     Tight Lines.

Merry Christmas!!!

     Been crazy busy tying flies, booking booths at Expos, and fielding emails lately.  Hopefully next season is just as busy as this has one has been.  Hoping to get out for a few more days next week to close out the musky season here in Wisconsin.  Right now I'm enjoying the holidays with my family and am hoping all of you are able to do the same.  So as the title implies, Merry Christmas!!!  I'll see you out on the water, or ice, should we ever get any.
     Tight Lines.

A New Jersey for a New Season

     This year I ordered my tournament jersey with a change of mindset.  In the past I have always ordered my jersey with the goal of using it to get others attention.  I wear my jersey for guiding, speaking engagements, fishing expos, and at various tournaments around the Midwest.  The design and layout of my jersey has always been to attract others with big logos and bright colors.  I wanted to make sure that everybody that saw it knew exactly what Shorebound Hero was, so naturally that logo was the primary focus.  As I've gotten more comfortable in my own skin over the last year or so I noticed that those jerseys didn't really fit what I was trying to accomplish as an angler.  I'm not a professional bass angler, I'm a kayak angler and fishing guide.  So this year I've laid out my tournament jersey very differently than in the past.
     One of the first things you'll notice is that the color pattern isn't the standard bold and bright "look at me" patterns I've used in the past.  Why?  The reason is 100% fishing related, I simply don't want the fish to see me.  It sounds crazy, but when you think about it, bright colors don't lend themselves well to stalking carp in shallow water.  Also when you consider how much closer you are to the water when in a kayak muted colors that break up your silhouette against the sky just make sense.
     Another thought I had while reviewing my photos from the 2015 season was that I wasn't really doing justice to my sponsors when out on the water.  Well actually, it was my son who noticed my lack of sponsors logos...Thank You Tsion.  Tsion made the comment that you couldn't see the logos on my jersey when I was wearing a PFD or using my backpack.  Which upon further review was all the time!  I had never thought about that before since lots of logos on the front and back of a fishing jersey is normal.  I needed to move the logos to the sleeves so that they would be visible in pictures.  I struggled with this at first since the jersey looked empty, but in the long run I think it makes sense.
     My final thought was that this season I wanted a jersey that was more comfortable while out on the water.  That's why for the first time I ordered a long sleeve jersey with a quarter zippered front and a collar.  Last season I wasn't the most comfortable while fishing from the kayak or while trumping around the shoreline.  I believe I can better regulate body temperature and limit my contact with harmful UV rays with this jersey design.  Only time will tell, but I know from watching other pros this past season at kayak tournaments that this type of garment is much more versatile during a day of fishing.  As the season progresses I'll post an update or two about how this jersey is working out.  Until next time...
     Tight Lines.

2016 Upcoming Expos and Events

     Expo season is coming fast and I'll be out and about supporting my sponsors, sharing the blog, and preparing for the 2016 guide and tournament season.  I've gotten a few emails asking what events I will be attending, so here is a short list of the places I am certain I will be traveling to.  Some are speaking engagements, some are for advertising, and all of them seem like they'll be a lot of fun.
     First up after the new year is the SWTU Icebreaker on January 16th.  This is their 33rd annual event and promises to be a great time with local anglers.  I will be in attendance for the event and am donating an 8 weight fly rod and reel combo as well as a collection of carp flies that are proven producers in the Madison area.  As an added bonus a 4 hour guided fly fishing trip will also be auctioned off.  This will be a you CHOOSE trip, so you can pick what we pursue and how we do it if you're the winning bidder.  We can shorefish, wade, kayak, canoe, whatever you want.  You get to CHOOSE, which should make the outing one to remember.  For more on the IceBreaker check it out here.
     Next on the list is the Badger Fly Fisher's Spring Opener February 13th.  This will be my first time attending this event and SBH will have a BOOTH!  Everything I've heard about this event in the past has been positive and I'm super excited to have a chance to get some exposure at a new venue.  I'll have guided trip information as well as the full line up of SBH stickers available for purchase.  I'll be donating a 4 hour guided carp on the fly trip for this event to be redeemed in June after the spawn.  They will have fly tying demonstrations, vendors, and a featured speaker so make sure you mark your calendars and plan to make a day of it.  Rumor has it that my tournament kayak might even be able to attend.  For more information on the Badger Fly Fisher's Spring Opener follow the link here.
     The Wisconsin Fishing Expo is February 26th-28th and my kayak and myself will be in the Rutabaga Paddlesports booth.  I'll be helping out as their guest and answering your kayak fishing questions and my Slayer will be modeling the newest accessories from Native Watercraft.  It's a great event with 20,000+ people in attendance.  Lots of vendors, speakers, and great fish stories are always present.  For more information on the Wisconsin Fishing Expo check out the link here.
     Rutabaga Paddlesports presents CANOECOPIA is March 11th-13th at the Alliant Energy Center.  This is the largest paddling expo you can attend and it really pays to attend all 3 days.  Everyday has new speakers, demos, and deals.  Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a beginner there is something for everybody at CANOECOPIA.  I will be in Native Watercraft's booth for the event and will be giving a presentation on their behalf.  It will be my first time speaking at such a large event, but with the support of my fellow angler/paddlers I'm sure I'll be fine.  For a complete list of all the goings on, follow the link here and make sure to follow them on Facebook.
     That same weekend I'll be at the Madison Musky School on March 12th.  I will be teaching my Shorefishing and Kayak Muskies class.  This is my 2nd year to teach at this wonderful event and it will be my 5th year in attendance.  I will have my guide service information as well as free stickers available for those that ask.  You can't beat this school when it comes to catching muskies.  The best anglers in the country will be teaching on a huge variety of topics and a wonderful lunch is INCLUDED.  For more information on this or other events put on by the Capital City Chapter of Muskies INC follow the link here.
     Now for something a little unrelated, but totally worth mentioning.  Orvis of Madison is holding a new series of drop in seminars starting in January.  These events will be held the 2nd Thursday of each month from 5:30pm-7pm.  The best part?  They will focus on what's happening now!  Winter trout in the winter, spring steelhead in the spring, summer carp in the summer, you get the idea.  Find out what's working on local waters as its happening, and it's FREE.  Just another example of a local shop reaching out to better its angling community.
     That's all the events I'm currently planning to attend for Winter/Spring 2016.  These should keep me busy for the next few months at least.  If I hear about any other great local events I will of course keep you posted.
    Tight Lines.

First Ice Perch Fishing Primer

For many anglers, early ice is the best ice.
     As fall turns to winter here in southern Wisconsin my focus slowly shifts towards the upcoming ice fishing season.  I start to dream of large wandering expanses of frozen water and of the giant schools of panfish that exist beneath them.  When first ice arrives I watch as photos start showing up on social media sites.  Monster pike, slab size crappies, and huge walleyes start to fill the screens of my mobile devices.  However the real early ice fishing prize for myself and a select few anglers is the yellow perch.  In this post I will go over some of the basic information you'll need in order to track down and catch this little gem in our Midwest lakes.
Echotails and yellow perch just seem to belong together throughout the ice fishing season.
     Some of you maybe thinking, "Aren't perch more of a late ice species?"  The answer to that question is a resounding YES!  Perch schools are much easier to find and catch in deep water during stable weather patterns under 2 feet of ice.  However if you know where to look, you can find perch, specifically big perch during first ice.  
Dress in layers to stay comfortable on the ice.
     So when I say first ice, I don't mean unsafe ice.  I only venture out on the lakes around Madison when we have at a minimum 3 inches of ice.  You have to remember that the early ice period (when ice is still forming) can be some of the toughest conditions you can fish all year.  Not because of the bite, but because of the weather.  Temps change dramatically this time year.  The winds pick up and drop off unexpectedly, and if you're not careful you can unintentionally put yourself in some unsafe conditions.  So use common sense when heading out and keep these things in mind.

  • Dress in multiple layers.
  • Let somebody know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  • Consider wearing an inflatable PFD.
  • Check ice ahead of you with a spud bar.
  • Stay away from the cloudy looking ice.
  • Keep a spare set of emergency dry clothes in your vehicle (Just in case).

     Now that we've covered the required "Safety Speech" let's get back to the perch.  The best way to find perch is to use the Lake within a Lake concept.  In a nutshell you want to find bays and backwaters that are the first to freeze because they are smaller, but that exhibit similar traits to the main lake.  A good example of this in Madison would be the Triangle on Lake Monona or the beach front on Lake Wingra.  When you look at these areas on lake maps or the Navionics app you'll see that they have good defined contour breaks and normally hold fish into late fall due to deep lush weed beds.  If you can identify areas like these on your home waters, waters that freeze early and have the correct structural elements, then you're sure to find schools of perch.  The question of course is, where?
Limit your catch, don't catch your limit.
     The short answer is on the drop offs.  Any drop off can hold perch, but not all drop offs are created equal.  You're looking for a contour drop that allows perch to crush the bait fish.  It's not how deep the drop off is, although most seem to occur in the 4-16 foot range.  More importantly you want a drop off that relates to structure.  Structure can be a weed line, sunken timber, even a gravel to sand transition.  If you can locate drop offs of a foot or more that butt up against structure you can be certain that schools of perch are in the area.
     To catch the perch in these schools I like to use tight lining rod and reel setups.   Tight lining uses simple 1:1 ratio reels that allow you to quickly and efficiently fish shallow water.  I normally spool up with 6 pound fluorocarbon line and attach my lures with a small clip and barrel swivel.  The clip lets me change lures in an instant and the barrel swivel keeps line twist to a minimum.  Lure selection is largely dependent on the body of water, but one thing that I love about early ice is that the forage species are at there biggest so big lures perform wonderfully.  I like to use spoons tipped with minnows or the ever popular Echotail blade bait.  The Echotail is the only blade bait that incorporates a barb to hold soft plastic tails.  This ability to change out the tail means I can use any soft plastic on the market.  So I can add scent by using Gulp, flash by using Uncle Josh, heck I can even use live minnows on them when the bite is extremely tough.  Another great benefit is that the walleye love them, so you can always count on a few bonus fish while out perching.  They are probably the most versatile lure you can have in your ice fishing tackle box.  You can learn more about the Echotail from Vibrations Tackle and check out the 2015 ice patterns here.
First ice yellow perch on Lake Monona.
     For early ice keep the lures moving.  Aggressive jigging and lots of pull and pause seem to really get the bite this time of year.  Subtle movements can be saved for later in the season.  Just remember that a lot of the bites are going to come on the fall.  That is, you will get bit while the lure is dropping in the water column.  One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when jigging through the ice is just letting the rod drop haphazardly.  You want to make sure that you stay in contact with the lure at all times.  This is easily accomplished by following the line down with the rod tip at the end of your jigging stroke.  If your line goes slack when jigging you're doing it wrong.  More fish are lost on the drop then at any other time when jigging, so keep the lure moving, just don't lose contact with the lure.  I can't stress this enough, No Limp Lines!
     Hopefully these tips will help you find some first ice perch this season.  Just please remember to use your head and stay safe.  The early ice is easily the most dangerous ice.  If you are not sure if the ice is safe then error on the side of caution and wait a few more days before venturing out.  The fish will still be there when you come back and your family will love the fact that you're still around.  Now go get those auger blades sharpened and some fresh line on your ice combos, because the perch are biting.
A couple of Lake Mendota yellow perch fillets for dinner.
     Tight Lines.



Disclaimer- Shoreboundhero.com is in a professional relationship with Vibrations Tackle.  I serve on the prostaff and help with product testing, promotion, and occasionally sales.  Although I could potentially benefit from this relationship I will never recommend a product I don't believe in or that I wouldn't feel could be of value to my readers.