Increase the Life of Your Balsa Crank Baits

     Balsa wood crank baits are a main stay in the arsenal of many anglers.  All of the major manufacturers produce them.  They come in every size and color pattern you can imagine and are amazing fish catchers.  However by their very nature they can be extremely fragile.  Especially when they are visited by the teeth of various freshwater predatory species.  This means that a balsa wood lure is only going to last you a few fish if the bite is on.

     At least that's what it used to mean.  While attending a seminar this winter I was shown a great tackle tip.  It was the use of heat shrink tubing to extend the life of balsa wood baits.  As you can see in the picture above, adding a small amount of tubing will keep the lure from being ripped in two when it's struck by a fish.  All you have to do is remove the rear hook, slide the heat shrink onto the lure, apply some heat (carefully), and then reattach the hook.  It's a great way to extend the life of your lures.  It should allow every salmon, walleye, or pike angler to get a few more casts out of their lucky bait.
     Tight Lines.

EP:03 Fishing Kayak Questions

EP:03 Fishing Kayak Questions


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     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast we covered some of the questions first time kayak anglers fail to ask when choosing a fishing kayak.  We talked about the need to base your purchasing decisions on species, water type, and angler size.  I also shared my personal story on learning how to properly transport the kayak.  Real thought should be given on how you will move your new kayak from place to place.  So we talked about the various methods as well as the advantages of using a trailer.  

Below are some links to the products I've used in the past to help with kayak transport.
     I hope that the information we covered in this episode will help you make a more informed decision when purchasing a fishing kayak.  Buying into the world of kayak fishing can be a bit pricey, but if you take your time and do a little research you can be sure that you're money is spent wisely.  Thanks for listening to episode 3 of Bluegills to Bull Sharks.  While you're here please take a moment to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.  It's full of tips, tricks, stories, and fishing from myself and others.  It only happens once a month, so make sure to get signed up.
     Tight Lines.

EP:02 Finding Urban Waters

EP:02 Finding Urban Waters

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      In this episode we covered some of the tricks to finding urban fishing waters.  Not all anglers have the time to get out of the city and travel to a quiet stream.  Many don't have the cash flow to take off on exotic trips to the Bahamas.  However a great many more don't realize the fishing opportunities they have close to home.  We covered how to find productive waters, how to get access, and gave some tips for the drive by angler.  I also discussed the use of 2 great apps that can help any angler find more fish.

Here's the links to both great apps:

     Hopefully this episode gave you some useful pointers that can aid you in the pursuit of trophy fish.  Remember that the best way to find out if the waters close to you have fish in them is just to get out there and cast a line.  Please keep those questions coming.  You can drop me a line at  If you like what you heard on today's episode consider subscribing on Itunes or Podcast Garden.  If you haven't checked out my blog yet at, make sure to stop by and take a look around.  While your there be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. It's full of great tips, the occasional discount code, and some subscriber only content.
Here's the bass from that pond I drove by for years.  Caught him on the first cast!
     Tight Lines.

EP:01 Search Baits for Cooler Water

Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast Episode 1

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     In this episode we covered popular baits for searching out fish in cooler water.  This could be opening weekend for many of us here in WI.  Or it could be any angler out looking for a bite with waters at or below 50 degrees.  We covered multiple species including bass, pike, musky, and catfish.  We even went through a couple options for the warm water fly anglers we have in the listening audience.

Below is a list of links you can use to find the baits we discussed:

     Thank You for listening to the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  If you like what you heard, please subscribe once it's available on Itunes.  Until then you can follow the show on Podcast Garden.  While you're here make sure you sign up for my free monthly newsletter (top of the page).  It's full of subscriber only content, tips, and occasionally some discount codes for my favorite fishing products.
     Tight Lines.

Even I Don't Trust My Sense of Direction

     I must admit it was my fault we got lost.  To be honest though neither of us are particularly good at finding our way.  We miss exits, turn left instead of right, even fish on the wrong side of the lake sometimes.  That's exactly what happened last week when I offered to take a buddy of mine out catfishing.
     We met up mid afternoon in the hopes of getting after some of those fat prespawn Lake Mendota channel catfish.  I had all the rigging we needed, all he had to do was meet me at the launch with his kayak.  Using the word "launch" might be a bit of an overstatement since really it was just access.  I wanted to take off from Governor's Island and pedal out to the end of a bay near the river channel.  At that point we just had to drop anchor and cast out our lines.  "Simple" I told him, "Nothing to it."
     So that last part was a bit of a lie because getting our kayaks to the waters edge proved to be challenging.  Every place we could find to enter the water had about 5 yards of knee deep mud we would have to cross.  We abandoned the kayaks and started walking the shore line looking for a spot that didn't require us to sink to our deaths like that poor horse in The Neverending Story.  Remember that movie?  With the flying dog/dragon and the child like princess!  Anyways... after some searching we found a sketchy log strewn launch point and got the kayaks out on the water.
Don't tease him just because he pedals a Hobie.
     We pedaled over to what I thought was the channel and baited up our lines with some fresh cut suckers.  We caught up a bit while we waited for a bite.  Most of the conversation focused on the upcoming tournament season.  Boats came and went and I was shocked by how slow the action was.  "Do you think we should move?" my buddy asked.  "Let's give it a few more minutes" I told him, "This should be the spot."  I sounded confident, but I wasn't sure anymore.  I pulled out my phone and looked at the waypoint I had pinned on Google Earth.  I stood up and turned around and noticed that the map didn't turn with me.  "Uh, I forgot to turn on my phones location setting before we left shore."  "What do mean?" he replied.  "I mean were on the wrong side of the island," "The river channel is over there."  The look on his face was priceless.  I couldn't stop laughing as we reeled in our lines and pulled up the anchors.  Just another day out and about with the Shorebound Hero.
     Tight Lines. 

A Weekend Full of Free Local Seminars

     Over the weekend I had the opportunity to sit under some amazing local anglers.  I'm always looking for information, especially when it's free.  Learning from others that are experts in their fields is a great way to shorten the curve when out on the water and these anglers didn't disappoint.
     The first angler I heard was Rob Wendel of the Regional Hobie Fishing Team.  He was giving a seminar at the Lake Michigan Angler tackle shop on Trolling for Great Lakes Salmon and Trout.  I've been following Rob for awhile now on social media and his catch photos are seriously impressive.  From giant kings to monstrous browns he has the knowledge and know how to land big salmonids from our little boats.  He covered everything from basic rigging to advanced techniques and took the time to answer every body's questions.  His ideas on trolling spread group dynamics were thought provoking and impressive.  Everything is accounted for in his setup.  His lure spread works to the strengths of the kayak angler while appealing to the feeding nature of his target species.  If you ever get the chance to fish with Rob (he's starting a guide service) take it.  To see the big fish he catches check him out on Instagram by following the link here.
     The following morning I headed over to Cabelas to hear a seminar by Jeff Van Remortel.  Many of you know Jeff as the workhorse behind WDH Guide Service.  He is hands down one of the premier musky guides in the state of Wisconsin and I have had the opportunity to hear his musky seminars on multiple occasions.  However it wasn't until recently that I learned of his penchant for landing large steelhead.  Once again his seminar didn't disappoint and he covered a wide range of topics.  I love getting the chance to talk to Jeff because he is both a fly and conventional gear angler.  His insight into the way fish respond to angling presentations is amazing.  We learned more in an hour listening to Jeff than most anglers would pick up in years out on the water.  Jeff is definitely an authority when it comes to catching steelhead on Great Lakes tributaries, you probably should of been in attendance.  To book a trip with WDH Guide Service for steelhead or muskies follow the link here.
     The last free seminar I attended over the weekend was Home Water Opportunities taught by Noah Humfeld and Steve Varsos.  Those that follow the blog already know about Noah Humfeld from previous posts.  Noah is an amazing multi-species angler that thinks he only knows walleyes.  This makes for wonderful conversations because he is constantly giving out great information and he normally has no idea that he's doing it.  Noah and Steve developed this presentation to help local anglers find their favorite species on opening weekend here on the Madison Chain of Lakes.  They covered species specific tactics, and gave personal recommendations on lure choice.  Every popular game fish species was covered and I'm sure that all in attendance will have an advantage opening weekend because of this great presentation.  To get in contact with Noah follow the link here.
     It was a great weekend and I have a ton of notes and a bunch of new tactics to try out on the water.  Hopefully you were also in attendance at many of these free seminars.  As always I'll try to keep everybody up to date on upcoming seminars in the area as they get announced.  It's the easiest way to improve your angling knowledge and get introduced to future fishing buddies.
     Tight Lines.

The Madison Angling Experience

     Over the weekend I was cued into something new hitting the Madison fishing scene.  It's the brain child of two anglers who have their pulse on the Madison area.  It's a one stop shop for everything that makes fishing in Madison great.  The new site is full of information on the local lakes.  You can watch videos, get tips, and read informative blog posts about chasing your favorite species on the Madison Chain.  The coolest part is their list of social event links.  As we're all aware Madison is home to many events over the course of the year.  By checking out The Madison Angling Experience now you can plan your fishing trip around more than just when the fish are biting.  See upcoming social events, tournaments, even beer tastings!  This site has it all and is just going to get better as the game fish season gets underway.  Check out the site by following the link here.  To stay up to date on all the fun subscribe to them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.  This is going to be a great resource for every angler that's looking to get the full Madison Angling Experience.
     Tight Lines.

Upcoming Podcast and What's Going On

     So lately I've been pretty busy over here at  I've been out fishing, attending sponsor meetings, working on the kayak, delivering presentations, and getting everything together for a new podcast.  That's right a new podcast!!!  A whole new content medium for me to explore and share with the angling world.  The new podcast is going to be called Bluegills to Bull Sharks with Israel Dunn and I've finally finished the cover art and trademarked the name.
     I'm getting pretty fired up about it and have been working hard to learn the in's and out's of podcasting in the hopes of creating a quality listening experience.  The learning curve so far has been pretty steep, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.  Below is a test file (not the podcast) that I recorded recently to try out the equipment.  It's kind of random, but will serve as the latest post about what I've been up to and some exciting upcoming events.  To listen to this audio blog post just hit the play button below.

Audio Test/What's Going On Audio Blog Post
     Let me know what you all think of the audio quality if you don't mind taking a few seconds to comment or send me an email.  I've been working hard on this as of late and am interested in any feedback whether it's good or bad.  Also as promised the links to the events I'll be attending this weekend are listed below.

To check out Noah Humfeld's Walleye Presentation click the link here.
To get more information on Rob Wendel's Presentation click the link here.
For more on Orvis of Madison's Happier Hour Series click the link here.

     That should just about wrap this up on my end.  Remember to keep an eye out for the upcoming Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  I'm currently shooting to have it live on iTunes at the beginning of May.  Of course that may just be wishful thinking on my end, but I have everything set it motion.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the kayak rudder cable replacement, BlackPak Fishing Crate Setup and Review, and any of my random fishing outings.  Finally, don't forget to sign up for the new monthly newsletter.  You'll see the pop up when you visit the site or you can sign up with the widget all the way down at the bottom of the blog.
     Tight Lines.  

5 Tips for Early Carp on the Fly Success

     As the seasons change and winter loosens its grip on the Midwest a lot of fly anglers turn their attention back to the water.  I'm no different here in southern Wisconsin, so I thought I would offer a few tips to help my fellow anglers in their pursuit of the "Golden Bonefish."

1. Find Warm Water
This is hands down the best tip I can give as we head into spring.  Warm water normally equates to active fish.  Since most fish are poikilothermic (cold blooded) they need the warmer water to get moving.  You can normally find warmer water near discharges, in small ponds, or over shallow sandy bottoms.  If you can find water with a noticeable temperature increase that is holding carp, then you've probably found some feeding fish.

2. Stalk Slowly/Blend In
Remember that these fish have been sheltered by the ice all winter.  Carp are easily spooked first thing in the spring.  Wear muted natural colors as you approach the water.  Look for cover to hide behind whether it's a bush, a tree, or even a park bench.  Carp are normally pretty sluggish this time of year, but they will leave in a hurry if they see something out of place.

3. Downsize Your Flies
Early spring food options can be a little scarce.  Turn to smaller sizes of your favorite carp patterns.  Nymph and worm patterns are surprisingly effective when the water is cold.  Just remember that the bait is moving as slow as the predator so keep your stripping to a minimum.  I also normally leave my crayfish patterns at home until the water is in the mid forties.  My local carp just don't seem interested in a big meal right after the ice leaves the lake.

4. Light Leaders and Delicate Tippets
In my neck of the woods the water is clearest right after ice out.  This clear water makes it a lot easier for the carp to scrutinize your presentation.  Although I normally fish 0x tippet throughout the summer months, I'll go as light 3x in the spring.  Just remember to adjust the force of your strip set accordingly.  Otherwise you may find yourself unintentionally popping a few fish off when setting the hook.

Everything moves a little slower when it's cold outside, myself included.  Make deliberate casts and really choose your shots.  Lead the fish by a few more feet than needed and let the fly linger in the water a bit longer.  You'll certainly notice that the fish don't seem to be in any hurry when working the bottom.  It's a patience game when it comes to spring carp on the fly.  I promise though that the effort is worth it.
     Tight Lines.

Musky Guides vs Milwaukee Brown Trout

Lake with a view of the Milwaukee sky line.
     This is a simple story, a story about two musky guides who decided that they wanted to catch a brown trout.  Not your run of the mill Driftless brown trout, nope they wanted to catch a fish worth bragging about, a Great Lakes brown.  Now to be fair I should tell you that both anglers normally strike out when they head to Milwaukee.  The odds were stacked against them when they left the driveway that morning.  Still they had a nervous optimism as they rolled down the highway.  The story goes something like this...
Little Boat.
     Late Wednesday night my phone lit up with a text notification.  It was JJ of the Madison Musky Addict guide service.  I read the text in disbelief, "I want to try and catch a brown trout for the new smoker."  I read the text again just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  You see JJ is a musky guide, only a musky guide.  He puts his boat away when the water gets over 80 degrees.  If the musky season isn't open in Madison, chances are he isn't fishing.  Seizing the opportunity I replied as fast as my fingers and auto correct would allow.  "I'm available Saturday and I have everything we need to try and land a brown trout."  This was a slight overstatement to be honest, but I was really excited to go fishing with JJ for something other than muskies.  As the next few days came and went we exchanged many text messages about where we would be fishing, what gear we should use, and whether or not we wanted to troll.  We decided to stay in the harbor since it was his first time on Lake Michigan in his trusted sixteen foot Yarcraft.  I rigged up rods Friday night (after a quick trip to Cabelas) and desperately tried to fall asleep.  Because as everybody knows, you just don't sleep well the night before a fishing trip.
     JJ arrived a little early, it's the guide in him he's always early.  I finished pouring my coffee as we discussed the day that lied ahead.  JJ was talking about the upcoming musky season and what he heard the hot new lures of 2016 were going to be while I finished getting my Ice Armor on.  I loaded up my gear in his truck and we started down the road headed for the McKinley Marina, in beautiful downtown Milwaukee.
Big Boat.
     First thing I noticed when launching the boat was how small that Yarcraft suddenly seemed.  Lake Michigan commands respect from every angler and it had our full attention as we left the dock.  We made our way out of the marina and quickly decided that we both had no interest in trolling.  JJ asked, "Where should we start casting?"  I had no idea.  "Let's start near shore." I replied.  "By the shore?"  he said, "Only you would get on a boat and start thinking about shore fishing."  He was right of course, but I really wanted him to get a brown trout and the only way I have ever landed one was with my feet firmly planted on the ground.
     We made our way around the harbor casting towards the shoreline.  I told JJ that the best bait this time of year was darter head jigs with 2" Gulp minnows.  He quickly pointed out that I didn't give him a Gulp minnow.  He was right, I explained to him that I don't use Gulp because it always spills in my backpack.  So we were using the Powerbait equivalent.  Over the years I've become a believer in Berkley products.  The Powerbait line just plain works and today it didn't disappoint.  It wasn't long after we crossed the river mouth that my rod doubled over.  The fight was over much quicker than I expected and soon I had a nice little brown trout resting comfortably in the musky sized net on the bottom of the boat.
Brown trout come in such an amazing variety of colors.
     Around this time the wind started to pick up and that little Yarcraft was getting tossed around a bit.  JJ recommended that we turn the point and move up the river mouth a little bit.  I agreed with his decision as the boat rocked back and forth beneath my feet.  We continued casting along the shoreline making sure to cover as much of the water column as possible.  Then just as JJ was making an argument for maybe switching out his swim jig for a crankbait he got a hit.  Now it should be noted that JJ isn't used to playing fish.  He's used to using big rods, heavy drags, and 80 pound braided line.  The look on his face was priceless as he desperately fought all his instincts and let the fish run and jump all over.  "Keep the rod bent!" I kept yelling, "Work the head towards the net!"  "I know how to fish!"  He hollered back at me.  It was absolute chaos, but soon his first brown trout was secured in the net.  I hoisted the net up over the side of the boat and we both watched as the lure dropped effortlessly from the fishes mouth.  It was a high five moment if ever we have had one.  JJ grabbed the fishing grips and lifted the trout for a picture.  As you can see, he couldn't have been happier.
     We fished a bit longer before deciding to call it a day.  The wind had picked up it made for a fun albeit wet ride back to the launch.  We had an absolute blast that day on Lake Michigan.  It was the first time we both landed a fish in Milwaukee.  Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to just get out on the water with the company of a good friend.  Not guiding, not competing, not testing gear.  Just being outdoors with somebody who gets you.  Somebody that's just as excited to be in the same moment as you are.  So as you can see this really was a simple story.  A story of two friends who went out to catch some fish.
     Tight Lines.

Come Join Me at Orvis of Madison

     This Thursday, April 7th I'll be the featured speaker for the Orvis of Madison Happier Hour series.  I'll be giving my newest PowerPoint seminar, Urban Fly Fishing the Madison Chain.  This new presentation will cover how to find productive water, the rigging and gear required, and some species specific tips for chasing local fish.  Will go more in depth about how to pursue carp, bass, and even muskies with a fly rod on the Madison Chain of Lakes.  So join me at Orvis of Madison this Thursday at 5:30pm for Urban Fly Fishing the Madison Chain.
     Tight Lines.

UK Pro Pole 38HDF Review

UK Pro Pole 38HDF
     About a year or so ago I decided that I needed something more versatile than a tripod for taking pictures when out fishing solo.  My daughter was quick to recommend that I buy a "selfie stick" which made my wife burst out in laughter.  "Those things are stupid!" she said, "Seriously, how vein do you want to seem?"  She had a point, so I dismissed the idea and kept lugging my tripod around on my backpack.  The issue I was having though was taking pictures for the blog.  I needed some different camera angles to make my photos look more professional.  It was really starting to bother me that my images constantly had parts of the fish missing because they just wouldn't fit into the frame when holding my camera at arms length.
That would be my arm dominating this photograph.
     Then one day while talking with my soon to be brother in law about my photography issues he said, "It's not a selfie stick if you use a GoPro pole."  He had a point (petty I know), so I set my obsessive researching mind into motion and found the UK Pro Pole 38HDF.  Although I had reservations initially about the price, I placed my order and a few days later it arrived at my door.

     First impressions after taking it out of the package was that this was a serious tool for the outdoor filmmaker.  It feels like pro quality compared to the other selfie sticks (poles) I saw around town.  I've since had it out in the kayak, strapped to my backpack, and have even dropped it in the water on more than one occasion.  The UK Pro Pole 38HDF is an absolute work horse.  Let's take a look at the spec sheet.

The UK Pro Pole 38HDF features:

  • A lightweight aluminum and stainless steel construction
  • Hi Visibility Non-Slip Grip 
  • Oversized Integrated Float
  • Standard GoPro Attachment Point with Oversized Knob
  • Locking Expansion Collars
  • Adjustable Wrist Lanyard
  • Expands from 16 inches to 38 inches
     I'm not gonna sugar coat it, this thing works flawlessly.  The expansion collars are easy to use and lock tightly every time.  I love the fact that I don't have to flip up or down any levers to adjust this pole.  Even with wet or fish slimed hands it is easy to setup.  The grip is similar to one you'd find on a motocross bike and is holding up well.  Having a quality grip is a nice feature since I'm not a fan of the foam handles I've seen on other poles.  The float actually floats the pole which is nice.  Whether you drop it over the side of the kayak or lose it on the shore line, you can rest easy knowing that your camera isn't at the bottom of the lake.  Add to it the robust aluminum construction and it's damn near unbreakable.
     The UK Pro Pole 38HDF has quickly become one of the few fishing accessories I can't live without.  It gives me the opportunity to take great pictures and videos while out fishing solo.  Pictures that I use on social media, in articles, my presentations, and on this blog.  You can find out more about the UK Pro Pole 38HDF on their site by following the link here.  At $59.99 it's definitely more expensive than your gas station selfie stick.  However, I believe it's worth every penny if you take pics in situations that place you in or around the water.  Using this pole allows me to get the photographs I've been after.  Until next time guys and gals...
Arm free fish picture goodness.
     Tight Lines.