Thanks For A Great Season

She never fails to impress.  The most versatile kayak on the market today.
     Sunday's guided fishing trip marked the end of my open water guide season.  I would like to thank everybody that made 2016 a success.  We had a lot of fun chasing everything that swims in the lakes and ponds around Madison, WI.  I'm still a long ways away from being able to do it full time, but this year proved to me that it's worth pursuing for 2017.  For that I want to say THANK YOU.
     I've got big things planned for the 2017 season.  To start it off I'll be speaking at numerous events throughout this expo season.  Also I'm working out the details to expand my kayak guide service by adding a tandem kayak to the fleet.  This will allow me to handle the paddling and positioning duties so that anglers not familiar with kayak fishing can get more out of their time on the water with me.  This kayak purchase means I get to rig up another boat!  That's my favorite part of playing with kayaks, so keep an eye on these pages throughout the winter to see what I've got in mind for this new kayak.
     What else?  Oh right my book!  It's coming along and will be available in paperback or as an ebook in the next few weeks.  I've been busting my butt trying to wrap everything up and soon I'll be submitting it to Amazon for approval.  I want to thank everyone who's supported me in this little endeavor since I've never attempted anything like this in the past.  Turns out it takes a lot of work to put a book together and I'm excited to finally get this project completed.
     Finally, the Bluegills to Bull Sharks podcast is getting a format overhaul.  I've recently been contacted by some companies interested in sponsoring episodes of the weekly show, but I need to make some small changes.  Look for a brand new layout and more interviews in the coming months.  I've really enjoyed making the first 30 episodes and a second microphone and USB mixer were recently ordered so be sure to stay tuned (or subscribed on Itunes).
     That about wraps up this post on wrapping up my season.  I'd like to thank all of my sponsors for their continued support going into 2017.  Also I'd like to take a second to thank my kids and family for putting up with me and fishing.  I know this has been a hard year for me and the kiddos, but were keeping it together and pressing on.  Last up thanks to all of you that read the blog, booked a fishing trip, or listened to the podcast.  None of this would be possible without your engagement, so thanks.  On a side note... I know my guiding season is over, but that doesn't mean I've stopped fishing.  If you want to get out this fall or even head out on the ice drop me a line.  I'd love to fish with you.
     Tight Lines.

EP:30 Understanding Lake Turnover

EP:30 Fall Lake Turnover















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast we talked about understanding lake turnover.  For many this is just a term that they hear thrown around as the leaves start to change.  There's a lot of myths associated with this time of year.  These myths started because as anglers we know of the turnover, but we don't know what it actually is and how it affects the fish.  From the thermocline, to the epilimnion, to the cold and heavy hypolimnion layer we discuss what they are and how they work.  Using this information you can make better informed decisions on where and when to fish during this transitional time in the Midwest.
Leaving the lake and fishing the creek yielded this beautiful fall musky.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 30 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

What The Hell Is Urban Fly Fishing?

Chasing carp in beautiful Madison, WI.
     Do you really want to know?  Then stop by the Badger Fly Fishers meeting tonight at 7pm.  I'll be giving my urban fly fishing presentation at the clubs monthly meeting.  This seminar will focus on finding urban waters, gear selection, and two popular fly species you can find right here in Madison.  If you're thinking I'll be talking about carp and musky than you'd be right.  I'll be sharing all my favorite tips, local hot spots, and the best flies you can use right now to get your hands on these amazing fish.  For more information on tonight's event or to learn more about the Badger Fly Fishers follow the link here.
     Tight Lines.

Lucid Fishing Grips

     As human powered anglers we are often limited in what we can carry with us and still stay mobile.  When working the shoreline many times I am forced to decide on which items I take with me and which I am forced to leave behind.  Actually I find myself with this dilemma most of my fishing situations.  Everything I carry must serve more than one purpose if it's to accompany me on the water.  One item that has earned its place on the very short list of "must haves" are my Lucid Fishing Grips.

     I discovered the Lucid Fishing Grips at the Madison fishing expo four years ago.  I was browsing the aisles looking for a replacement net.  I stopped by the Thorne Bros. booth and asked them to show me a net that could fold down to under a foot, but with a bag big enough to land a musky.  As you can probably imagine they got a good chuckle out of my request.  Then a gentleman walked over and said that 2 ladies were selling lip grips at a booth near the main entrance.  I headed over to check them out and left with the 30 pound model (in hindsight I probably should have bought the 60 pound model).  Now that I have owned them a while I finally feel that I am qualified to give them a review.
Support the belly for a healthy release.
     The Lucid Fishing Grips are available in 2 sizes, a 30 pound model for smaller fish, and a 60 pound model for those of us that are after the big ones.  The grips are also able to be IGFA scale certified, the IGFA won't just certify any scale so the fact that they certify these grips gives me confidence in their accuracy.  With the comfortable grip, and smooth one handed operation I can land fish quickly and safely.  Most of the time I don't even have to take the fish out of the water to unhook them.  Another nice touch is the rotating head.  I can't begin to tell you how many times I have hooked the grips onto a musky or pike and have had them start barrel rolling in the water.  The head just spins around right with the fish.  I have seen more than one scar on larger fish from getting rolled up in braided line while sitting in a net.  This helps protect the fish, and when dealing with something as fragile as a musky it is a much appreciated feature.
     The first thing I did when I got the grips home, was adding a plastic carbinger clip to the wrist strap.  You might be wondering, why not just clip it to your bag or belt loop with the lip gripper end?  Because bushes and underbrush like the Lucid Fishing Grips as much as you do.  The carbinger clip gives you some added insurance that the grips will still be there when you arrive at your fishing hole.  SBH Tip: Use a magnetic net lanyard on your Lucid Grips when kayak fishing to keep them from going overboard.

     The grips also extend your reach, making them great for break wall casting, landing fish from a kayak, and ice fishing.  When fishing on break walls or steep rock banks that extra couple of inches can be the difference landing or losing a fish.  Using fish grips in a kayak keeps those annoying treble hooks out of your skin.  Besides nobody likes reaching into the ice water to scoop a walleye, pike, or big brown trout out of the hole.  With the Lucid Fishing Grips just work the fishes head up towards the hole and lock the grip on to the fishes mouth.  One quick pull and the fish is on the ice and your hands are nice and dry.

     But wait, I've read that lip grippers are bad for the fish.  I am sure you have all read this somewhere. Every time I post a picture with my Lucid Fishing Grips somebody pipes up and says "you need to stop using those".  Well a little common sense will tell you that driving a hook through the fishes mouth and then using pliers to rip them back out is probably more traumatic then using a grip to control their head. Also as long as you follow a few simple rules the fish are always able to swim off just fine.  First, keep the fish in the water!  I know this sounds crazy, but you won't believe how many people I see with the fish out of water for extended periods of time.  It doesn't matter if your using a net or lip grips, keeping the fish in the water will help with a healthy release.  Second, when you lift the fish for your photos and measuring keep them supported by the belly.  This takes the strain off the neck muscles, and helps to keep the grips from wearing through the skin on the fishes mouth.  Lastly, if your weighing the fish do it quickly.  No fish likes being hung by its mouth, or its gill slits for that matter.  You won't damage most fish species if you keep the weighing quick.  Another nice option would be to use a sling on larger fish and just clip the Lucid Fishing Grips to the sling.  Easy on you and more importantly, easy on the fish.

     So go and get yourself a set of Lucid Fishing Grips.  You'll love the freedom of not having to worry about transporting a net, and you won't have to carry a scale anymore either.  I gain some extra room in the backpack, and as a shore fisherman, that means fewer things I have to leave behind.  To learn more tips and tricks about the use of lip grips I'd go straight to the source at www.lucidfishing.com.  Until next time...

     Tight Lines.

EP:29 Kayak Fitness An Interview With Spencer Jones






















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast we interviewed Spencer Jones from Jonesin' to Get Fit.  Spencer is a kayak angler, writer, and personal fitness trainer.  He recently started an online business that caters to practical exercises for the outdoorsman.  He offers up a weekly newsletter that shows you exactly what you need to know relieve common issues such as a sore shoulder, lower back pain, even that numb leg feeling you get after hours in a kayak.  The guy even has a weekly cooking show that will help you with make healthy eating choices (and it's funny).  I would like to thank Spencer for taking the time to talk with us this week.  You can learn more about Spencer Jones and follow all his crazy adventures and exercises at spencermjones.com.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 29 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

EP:28 Cold Water Largemouth Bass Fishing

EP:28 Cold Water Largemouth Bass Fishing














     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast I discussed cold water bass fishing tactics.  Not so much the tactics and skills required to catch those strong and bullish smallmouth bass most associate with cool water.  I'm talking about the scourge of the waterways the largemouth bass.  I love to chase this species of fish and the fall transition can yield some quality fish, if you know where to find them.  We talked about locating largemouth bass, rod and reel setup, and even went into some specifics on lure selection.  I tried to give you an explanation of why squarebill crankbaits, echotails, and swim jigs, work so well on America's favorite fish.  So be sure to give these tips a try as we enter into fall here in the Midwest.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 27 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

3 Tips For A Better Hook Set

Spencer Jones putting it all together to land another Wolf River smallmouth.
     You've made the perfect cast, worked the lure through the water column, then suddenly you feel the bump.  Swinging back on the rod you feel the weight of what's sure to be the next state record.  Then after a quick struggle...it's gone.  It's a crushing blow, I know because it's happened to me.  I have nightmares about fish I've lost.  Honestly though sooner or later it happens to everybody that wets a line.  However you can do a few things to help stack the odds in your favor the next time a fish finds himself on the end of your line.
     The mechanics of a hook set are actually very simple.  Just apply pressure, bury the hooks, and don't lose tension.  See simple, but then why do so many fish still get away.  It doesn't matter if you're casting frogs, trolling, lure fishing, or ice fishing.  If you don't set the hook properly, you are going to lose fish.  With this in mind I thought I'd offer up 3 tips that will help improve your hook set and land you more fish.
     First up you've got to sharpen the hooks!  This is probably hands down the biggest thing people miss.  I learned this lesson the hard way chasing muskies.  Even brand new lures straight out of the box need have their hooks sharpened.  We all know it, but we don't all do it.  If your hooks are dull then it requires a lot more pressure to drive them home.  An expensive hook file or sharpener can make a big difference.  So quit making excuses and keep those hooks in top shape.
     Second, stay tight to the lure at all times.  The reason we joke about the swing and the miss is because of line slack.  Don't set the hook until you're tight to the fish.  It doesn't matter if you're hopping a jig, swimming a crankbait, or wiggling a worm.  If the line isn't tight then you're gonna miss fish.  So give the reel a couple cranks until the rod loads slightly or you feel the weight of the fish, then set the hook.  SBH Tip: When trolling from a kayak accelerate a few boat lengths by paddle or pedal before setting the hook.  This will take up any slack in the line allowing for a stronger hook set.
     Third is sweep the body (not the leg).  Sweeping the rod across your body allows you to put all the rotational forces of your torso behind the hooks.  That's a lot of force and will help guarantee the fish stays pinned.  Lifting up on the rod is just not enough to keep those hooks buried.  So do what the pros do in all those Berkley Trilene commercials and sweep the rod across your body.
     Putting these tips into practice will make a big difference in your fishing.  Especially the first tip about sharpening the hooks.  These are simple things that we all know how to do  As a guide I'm shocked at how often a client loses a nice fish because they didn't get those hooks buried well enough.  A good hook set is something that took me a while to master, but now it's second nature.  
A beautiful Lake Monona largemouth from the kayak.
     Tight Lines.

EP:27 Orvis Seminar On Urban Fly Fishing

EP:27 Orvis Seminar On Urban Fly Fishing















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast I did something a little different.  You see this spring I was invited to be a presenter at Orvis of Madison for their Happier Hour Series.  The presentation was on Urban Fly Fishing and I had the idea to record the seminar for future use.  Fast forward to October and here I am looking at emails that people have sent me asking if I had a way to share my seminars if they couldn't make it to hear me speak in person.  So this episode is the entire seminar I gave at Orvis of Madison on Urban Fly Fishing.  Hope you find it informative and maybe a little entertaining.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 27 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

Come See Me At Orvis Days!

     Come see me this Saturday October 8th at Orvis of Madison for Orvis Days!  I'll be on site all day for this annual event giving a seminar on kayak fishing and doing my best to answer any and all of your questions about fly fishing in this amazing area.  My kayaks will be rigged up and on display so that you can see exactly how far this sport has come in recent years.  Know what the best part is?  I'm only a little sliver of the action in store for you during a fun filled and action packed day.  You can hear seminars about fly fishing in Montana.  Get an inside look at hiking the Ice Age Trail.  Even enjoy some coffee while reliving the tales of the fish that got away.  It's a jam packed event that surely deserves a spot on your calendar.
     So make sure you get over to Orvis of Madison October 8th.  It's family friendly and will certainly be a good time.  For more information contact the store at (608) 831-3181.  I'm sure they can give you a run down of the full days schedule.  Also be sure to follow all the fun that the guys and gals get themselves into by following Orvis of Madison on Instagram.  Hope to see you there!
     Tight Lines.