It has been a super busy few weeks and not just with fishing. Lots of fishing related stuff going on right now as we prepare for the season. I will be relieved when all this new stuff comes to fruition. One of the biggest and most exciting of those things is a new boat!
I've settled on a Nitro Z19 with a 200hp Mercury Pro XS. I've never owned a Nitro or a Merc but I am excited to see how they perform. Nothing against the two Skeeters and Yamahas I've owned though, they were great boats and motors, but several other things made me make the switch. I was ready for something different, just to change it up. One of the biggest was what D&R Sports has been doing for bass fishing in West Michigan the last couple years with their tournament trail. Good payouts, ton's of contingency money (especially for running a Nitro/Mercury), and a great tournament. Supporting the guys who are supporting fishing in Michigan is huge in my book, it doesn't matter what trail you fish. Those sponsors are there to make sales and the local guys need to support them. Trust me no one is there just to give out free stuff and get Facebook likes. I believe if we all supported companies helping the tournament scene, there would be more contingencies and more events Like the West Michigan Bass 4th of July open a couple years ago (big bucks donated by sponsors). Anyway there are several people/companies I would not hesitate to buy a boat from locally right now, but for me, getting in a Nitro makes the most sense right now and working with Miles Hanley up at D&R has been a great experience!
You also may have seen a teaser of the wrap on social media. I'm very excited to be running the Reel n Smoke wrap this year! There will definitely be some changes and additions to that so stay tuned to see what comes out of it. In other Reel n Smoke news, ClearH2O Tackle is now a dealer. They stock a full line of jerky, sauce, and seasoning. I'm sure we will have some up at the Grand Rapids sports show for everyone to check out. ClearH2O is also blowing out a bunch of their ice stuff right now. If you need something literally call them or find them on Facebook and make an offer. It is time to be switching to thinking spring!
I've also been staying busy with other fishing related things. I gave an electronics seminar at the West Michigan Fishing Seminar Series run by the guys at Great Lakes Guide Service. I had a good time sharing some of the things that Humminbird electronics can do. I appreciate everyone that came out and hope you all learned something. I've also had a chance with the shady ice conditions to sit down and write a few things. First, was a couple new articles in the FishSens Magazine, that will help you with SondeCAM use while ice fishing. Also, I kicked off the monthly recipe blog for Reel n Smoke. This is a totally new thing for me but it is going to be a lot of fun. Check out the first recipe "crisped up wild duck"! Future recipes are also going to feature a Michigan beer pairing, so stay tuned for that this week.
Now just because I've been doing a lot of non fishing stuff doesn't mean I haven't been fishing. We had to get creative a couple times with unsafe ice and actually carry a boat across the beach to get it done, but it was well worth it, one of the times anyway. I finally was able to access the area I had wanted to perch fish all season, and we smoked them. However, we went back a couple days later and it sucked, despite moving around a bunch. It was kind of strange anchoring in 30 plus feet of water and dropping Clam Outdoors speed spoons on regular fishing rods. The Dobyns Rods DX 701 is an absolute perch killer by the way, super sensitive for feeling those light bites.
I've also been getting out on the ice and the bite has been absolutely incredible. We have been getting easy limits of gills/sunfish with anywhere from 5 to 15 bonus perch per trip. Clam Maggot Drop jigs and Speed Spoons have been the hot baits. We are tipping them with spikes or Maki plastics and catching a few bass too, which has been fun. We are fishing a popular area and one of the keys to our success is to get away from everyone and drill a lot of holes. I try to avoid fishing in a crowd whenever possible, simply because I want my bait to be the only option down there for the fish. Another thing about this place is the weeds are patchy so you need a lot of holes to find the best spots. I'm not talking a hole every 20 yards but every ten feet. The funny part is it is never the same weed patch that is hot, however it is all within the same area. The area is just full of life; bass, pike, perch, gills, crappies, and sunfish. I fully expect the perch bite to keep getting better and better as we get later into winter. One interesting thing is the perch are all feasting on young of year bluegills. Also, I've learned a lot with the FishSens SondeCAM there. Most of the bluegill and perch behavior is pretty typical, but the bass behavior has been pretty interesting. I've been really surprised at how many bass are coming in and mouthing the lure. Not just once but the same fish multiple times, it has been really interesting watching the same fish continually work the area. I also witnessed a whole school of perch (nice ones) swim by on a mission, I was frustrated they didn't stop to eat though. Little did I know they were being followed by a school of largemouth. It is an eat or be eaten world down there and stay tuned to my social media/youtube for those videos.
I'm sure a few of the purists that only bass fish get a chuckle of my obsession with catching small fish on the ice all winter long. I won't lie I can't get enough of catching anything, especially when you are particularly destroying them. Not to mention I do love a good fish fry, but I can promise you my instincts will be sharper come bass season. I don't care what species of fish or game for that matter. Constantly adjusting to conditions and fine tuning your tactics to be more successful and efficient can pay huge dividends when it's time to launch the bass boat.
That is all I've got, see you on the ice this weekend!