Be My Buddy At Fishwithme.net

Proudly rocking the colors.
     As many of you are aware I'm pretty picky about who and what I support in the fishing industry.  Our sport is full of companies, products, and gimmicks.  Everybody's out to make a buck (myself included).  So when I met up with fishwithme.net at the FishX expo earlier this year I was skeptical of what they were pushing.  They talked about a network of anglers that were looking for fishing buddies.  Fisherman that wanted to find friends, share charters, split event costs, and share tactics.  Admittedly I was reluctant to sign up, but the free 1 year membership offer had me curious.  So I signed up, struck a deal to share with all of you, and setup my account.
     I love the concept of this site.  One of the struggles I hear a lot from anglers is that they'd fish more if they had more fishing buddies.  This site solves that problem.  You can search for members in your area, check their bio, and then message or buddy them.  Instant fishing buddy for life.  It also allows you to post events you're attending so you can meet up with other anglers that you already know.  This eliminates that whole, "I want to go, but I don't know anybody" argument we all have with ourselves the night before an outing or tournament.  You can even pay or split costs for a charter using this site.  This means those trips of a lifetime are suddenly in reach.  It's an amazing platform and it's built for anglers!  I can't get enough and will gladly pay the annual membership fee of only $36.00.  The best part of all this is that they worked out a special deal for you the reader.  Want to try out this service?  Then send me a message on Facebook and I'll share with you a secret code that you can enter to get the first year free!!!  I know you won't regret it, just be sure to make me your first buddy.
Fish with me over at fishwithme.net
     Tight Lines.

EP:45 Still Exhausted

EP:45 Still Exhausted















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast my mind was wandering.  I'm still trying to recover from the whirlwind weekend I had while attending the Sailfish Smackdown in Pompano Beach, FL.  It was an amazing event with some great anglers, big fish, and a lot of painful growing pains.  Still I survived it and had a great time and I'd like to thank Joe Hector and the crew from the Extreme Kayak Fishing Series for putting on the event.  I also answered some questions that were sent in and mentioned an old blog post about how I choose which fishing PFD to wear depending on conditions.  For a full recap of the 2017 Sailfish Smackdown though the eyes of a landlocked out of towner be sure to tune in to next weeks show.
Hooked Up On The Atlantic Ocean In My Kayak
   Thank you for listening to Episode 45 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe please 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.

How To Make A Kage Gaff

     While planning for the Sailfish Smackdown this year I realized that since I live in Wisconsin there was a lot of gear I simply didn't own.  Fishing in saltwater for pelagic species is a world away from the normal angling I do chasing muskies and bass from a kayak.  The rods, reels, and terminal tackle were simple things to acquire.  However one piece of gear I needed would have to be built.  That item was the Hawaiian Kage Gaff.  A cage gaff was developed by kayak anglers on the coast to subdue large fish species before pulling them over the side of a plastic boat.  This is extremely important because large struggling fish could break bones, destroy gear, or even capsize you.  Using a kage gaff solves this issue by killing the fish and allowing it to bleed out while in the water.  Much safer for you and much more humane for the fish.  After a lot of research I built a couple for me and my buddies.  Here's how I did it, step by step, one cold afternoon.
     First you need to get all the materials.  I used a 1 inch shovel handle because it fits in a paddle clip I use on my kayak.  Then I picked up a 2 foot section of 5/16" threaded rod from the local hardware store.  I also grabbed some wood glue, a 12 inch drill bit, rubber caps for a chair leg, and some 550 para-cord to wrap the shovel handle for better grip.
     Next you need to cut the shovel handle to the length you want your kage gaff to be.  I went with a length of about 32 inches.  Remember that you'll have a 12 inch section of threaded rod inside the handle and that you need to be able to reach out over the water to stab the fish so don't go too short (dogs in the house) on the kage gaff handle.
You'll also notice that I wrapped a couple sections of the handle with tape (black rings).
     Then I clamped the handle securely to a table and began slowly drilling the hole for the 5/16" threaded rod.  Take your time with this step remembering to work the drill back and worth to eject the wood shavings so that the bit doesn't become clogged and deflect inside the wood.  Use some tape to keep the wood handle from splitting while you drill.
     After you've finished drilling, pour some glue into the hole and insert the 5/16" threaded rod.  Allow the glue to setup and then drill a 5/16" hole in one of the rubber chair caps.  Slide the cap down the rod and work it onto the handle.  The end result should look something like this when you've finished this step.
     Now it's time to wrap the para-cord handle.  This step is to long to explain in pictures.  I had never used para-cord before so I went with a simple wrap that would hold tightly in place and look half way decent.  It turned out really well and after fusing the ends with a flame the kage gaff was almost finished.  To learn how to add a wrap like this to your handle just follow the link here.
     The final step is to grind the end of the 5/16" threaded rod to a point.  That's all it takes, follow these steps and you'll soon have your own Hawaiian Kage Gaff.  After I made the first one I sprayed the others ones with some leftover clear coat paint I had in the garage just to help seal the wood a little, but that's it.  It's really strong and should make quick work of any pelagic species you want to bring into the kayak.
     Tight Lines.

EP:44 So You Want To Start A Fishing School

EP:44 So You Want To Start A Fishing School















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast I sat down with Pro Duffy Kopf, Steve Reinstra, and Geoff Crandall, directors of the Madison Musky School.  We talked classes, process, and why they felt that an off the water musky school would benefit anglers.  Now in it's 16th year of operation the Madison Musky School has become the pride of the Capital City Chapter of Muskies Inc.  The classes are filling up fast so make sure to reserve your spot by the following the link here.
     As promised in this episode here's the link for those rod leashes I use when out on the water.
The musky school has been teaching anglers to catch big fish for 16 years!
   Thank you for listening to Episode 44 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe please 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.

Going Live, Packing For Florida

This is just the beginning.
     The first trip of the year is coming fast!  In just a few days I'm leaving for the Sailfish Smackdown Tournament in Pompano Beach, Florida.  The crew that's driving down from Wisconsin is starting to pack up our gear and I want to share the experience with all of you.  I will be doing a live stream of the gear I'm using in the tournament, the gear I'm taking for shark fishing from shore, and just how I plan to get it all to Florida in a worn out truck.  The live feed will be at 7pm Tuesday February 14th.  Yes, I know it's Valentine's day, but I'm single now so I don't have anywhere to be and really need to get all this crap wrapped up and in the truck.  You can follow the adventure by following me on Facebook.  See you all Tuesday night at 7pm.
     Tight Lines.

Sailfish Smackdown Facebook Live Mini Series

Sailfish Smackdown 2017
     Next weekend is the Sailfish Smackdown tournament.  It's part of the EKFTS tournament trail and I'm fired up to finally be in attendance.  This tournament is the only kayak sailfish tournament in the world and for a guy from Wisconsin it's going to be a once in a lifetime experience.  I'm traveling down to Florida with my good friend Spencer Jones and he's been working on something great.
     Spencer is working with a series of sponsors to bring a Facebook Live Mini Series to the web.  He'll be filming each day of the adventure and you can follow the fun for free!  You can see how we pack for the trip, travel across the country, and how the tournament is going in real time.  It should be really cool because for the first time you can follow a group of anglers through a major fishing event as it happens.  It's more than just a recap, more than just a video, and it's way cheaper than making the trip yourself.  Here's the promo video, hope you can follow along.

     Tight Lines.

EP:43 Herding Rabbits

EP:43 Herding Rabbits















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast I talked about preparations that are underway for the upcoming Sailfish Smackdown tournament.  I also covered all of the upcoming events in the area.  This is the busiest time of year for myself and many others in the fishing industry here in the Midwest.  For more information on these and many other events be sure to check out the Out and About post.  It's a crazy couple of weeks and I wouldn't trade them for the world.
It's a crazy time of year!
   Thank you for listening to Episode 43 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe please 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.

How To Make A Roof Mounted Fishing Rod Holder

A handy tool for any angler.
     As my angling career has progressed so has my need for gear.  One piece of kit that I've been lacking is a convenient way to carry my fishing rods.  I used to just put my rods inside the cab of my truck.  That worked fine until I started guiding and competing in tournaments.  I needed a way to carry multiple rods outside of my vehicle to free up space for other things.  I really needed to buy a rod locker.  After a lot of research I discovered that rod lockers are EXPENSIVE!  All of the options on the market hover around $500.00.  That just doesn't work with my limited budget so I started exploring alternatives.  After lots of reading and of course some YouTube videos.  I discovered that many anglers are turning to a popular product from the construction industry.  It's a readily available and easy to build conduit carrier kit. This kit makes it possible to have a rod locker for less than $100.00.  Here's how to build it.
     First you'll need to unbox the contents of the conduit kit.  Make sure you have all the pieces and then head over to the hardware store and buy a piece of 6 inch diameter pvc pipe.  The shortest length I could find was 10 foot.
     When you've got the pvc pipe home you'll need to trim it to size.  The longest one piece rod I own is 7'6" so I chose to trim the pvc down to a length of 8 feet.  Depending on the rods you own you may need to adjust the length.  A simple hacksaw works well to cut down the tube.  Just make sure to measure twice and cut once.
     Once you have the pvc trimmed to size you can customize it.  Many anglers paint the tube to the color of their choice.  I didn't have that luxury because I live in Wisconsin and everything is frozen.  Besides I don't need it to look nice because my truck looks like it's been through a train wreck.  I just added some stickers from my collection to spruce it up a bit.
     Next it's time to fit the end caps.  Even though the conduit carrier kit comes with self tapping screws I found that it helped to drill some pilot holes.  Be sure you take your time and keep the end caps snugged up tight against the pvc pipe.
     Then you just need to drive the screws into place.  It's really important that you don't over tighten them because if you blow out the threads you'll need to rotate the end cap and start the process again.  Once you have all four screws tightened down just repeat these two steps on the other end of the pipe.
     The final step is to mount the rod locker to your roof rack.  This is a pain in the ass so try not to do it outside in winter.  The important thing is to make sure that it's centered across the bars and that you leave enough room to accommodate the use of anything else on your rack.  The nuts are 15mm and I found that using a gear wrench made quick work of tightening up the U-bolts.  If you have round bars on the rack you'll probably have to bend the mounts slightly to allow them to grip the bar.
     That's all it takes to build a rod locker of your own.  As you can see they have plenty of room to hold multiple rod and reel combinations.  Make sure to use rod sleeves and reel covers to keep the combos in good shape.  I've read about anglers that have been able to fit as many as 17 combos inside a single 6 inch tube.  I don't even own that many rods, but if you're a tournament bass angler I'm sure you'll appreciate the space.  To purchase a conduit carrier kit so you can build a rod locker of your own just follow the link.
     Tight Lines.

Which Brand Of Fishing Kayak Is The Best?

Which company makes the best kayak?
     One question that I always get asked when working a fishing expo or giving a seminar is, "Which brand of kayak is the best?"  It makes me smile because it leads to in depth discussions about hull design, stability, and accessories.  The conversation moves through brands like Native Watercraft, Jackson, Wilderness, and Hobie.  Even the Pelican name has been dropped in the mix lately.  The truth is brand doesn't matter, just don't tell my sponsors I said that.
     You see once you hit a certain price point, the differences in the boats kind of blur together.  It reminds me of the old, "Ford vs. Chevy" argument.  If you've ever been to a car show then you understand what I'm talking about.  The supporters of each brand are fiercely loyal their favorite truck.  You'd think that they were getting a paycheck from the factory with how aggressively they defend the blue oval or yellow bow tie.  Lately, I've noticed that many kayak anglers feel the same way about the brand of plastic boat they choose to paddle.  Anglers get pretty worked up about which pedal drive is better or what seat is the most comfortable.  One day at a show I even overheard two people arguing about rod holder design...rod holders!
      The reason I say brand doesn't matter is because a quality kayak is guaranteed to be a good purchase.  You won't regret buying a name brand boat, regardless of the BRAND NAME on the boat.  The important thing is just that you get into a kayak and out on the water!  I don't care what you paddle when we head out together for a fun filled day of fishing.  I believe it's crucial that as kayak anglers we include everyone that wants to pick up a paddle and chase a fish.  It's important for the future of our sport and our fisheries.  Of course if any of my sponsors asks, tell them I said to paddle a Native Watercraft.
     Tight Lines.