Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunny Monday is welcome

Despite the wind and cold weather over the weekend, today feels warmer and more like spring even with the winds still blowing making it for a chilly start for the week.
Ice is prevalent around the lakes here in Oakland County. East and North on the Great Lakes ice break up is under way.
I know it's last ice but stay off. You not only put yourself at risk, you risk the lives of those that come to your aid.
No fish is worth a life or the rescue efforts that go into first finding you, then getting you off the ice and home safe.
I haven't made it into the garage for a cleaning and organizing trip yet. With no heat out there it's a little like stepping into a freezer/cooler in a restaurant or butcher shop.
For me, ice out is going to be time for the first launch of the season for my fishing kayak. If it were today I wouldn't be ready to go.
Too much stuff laying all around with nothing in it's right place. I'm envious of those that have garages you can eat off the floor, look around briefly and find that rod, bait or tool you need with very little searching.
It's time to get rid of more stuff or bite the bullet, put the time in and get it straightened out once and for all.
At this stage of life I've learned how important it is to put things back where they belong. My dad was fond of saying, "You've got it in your hand, go put it away." Great advice.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

AIM Weekend Walleye Series headed for Detroit River

AIM (Anglers Insight Marketing) will bring it's 2015 AIM Weekend Walleye Series to the Detroit River April 19.
This is a team event consisting of two anglers per boat. If you have wondered how you would fish against pros and other anglers this is the event to enter.
"The great thing about this series is it doesn't time away from family life," AIM National Tournament Director Denny Fox said.
Fox comes out of a background of tournament fishing and boat sales. "I grew up on Saginaw Bay then moved to Wisconsin fishing Lake Michigan and Green Bay. I was all set to moved into the PWT when that trail closed," he said.
If matching talent with experienced anglers bothers or intimidates you, keep in mind they all had to begin someplace.
At one time they were new to tournament fishing, the particular water you will be fishing that you may not be used to and the pressures associated with tournament fishing.
I've been fortunate to have participated in several tournaments as a co-angler and understand the frustration that comes with being on rough water all day working against rain and cold weather only to come up empty handed.
It takes a really good mental attitude to stay focused and in the moment, paying constant attention to all that is going on around you.
Tournament fishing may not be for everyone but this activity could be the one that eventually grows on you.
Who knows. One day you may see your name on the Freshwater Hall of Fame list of inductees. Good luck!
Pro walleye angler and Hall of Fame Member, Mark Martin with a Detroit River walleye. Even Martin began as a newbie when he first began fishing tournaments. By Beukema

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fishing kayaks are affordable; makes lakes more accessible

Last Sunday's column in The Oakland Press talked about some of the advantages of a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
One of my big reasons is cost. Looking at a nice walleye or bass boat on top of a trailer in the garage would bother me.
Every time I walked by it I would be thinking I'm not getting my money out of it. Lets be honest. Many of us say if we had more time we would golf every day. In this case the comment is to fish every day.
No matter how much you like either sport, I think one would get sick of it in a hurry if you went every day. Besides there is the cost of gasoline in the tow vehicle, wear and tear in general and other hidden costs.
Looking at a big monthly payment on a trailer would bug me. On the other hand, a kayak hanging on the wall, probably paid for wouldn't cause much consternation other than wishing I was out using it but not overly concerned because I wasn't getting my money out of it.
Far be it from me to tell anybody how to spend their money. I've missed the boat and had some ill-thought purchases.
But owning a kayak hasn't been one of them. If I decide got use it tomorrow, hypothetically, it's a simple matter of sliding onto the roof of my pickup cap, cinching it down, tossing my tackle, rods and pfd in the back and I'm ready.
At the launch it's off the truck and to the water's edge where everything is loaded. Park the truck, put the pfd on and I'm off. Retrieval is just the exact opposite. In a few minutes I'm fishing.
And I don't feel guilty about not busting my hump to pay for the boat. If you are moving up from shore fishing, before taking a loan out the equivalent of the national debt think about purchasing a fishing kayak.

Grandson Josh Checkal admiring a bass caught out of a kayak. By Beukema

Monday, March 2, 2015

Springtime is getting close

Maybe I'm putting the cart ahead of the horse. But give me one day with warmer weather-even if it's in the 20's-and my thoughts go to cleaning the garage, slowly sorting through fishing tackle and just in general, staying outside longer, even if it is in the garage.
I have two kayaks that have been swinging from the garage rafters where they have been stored since last fall.
The trouble is they are just at the right height to chuck stuff into when I don't know where to put it. I think everything contained in both boats is related to kayak fishing but I won't know until I lower them or climb up so I can look inside.
Not the best way to operate but like many of you, I still fight the organization battle. And with me, it is a never ending battle.
I'm not going to tell you to get the yaks out, find the pfd's and getting ready for soft water. Not today, but if we get many more of these so called "nice days," I may cave in.
Soon, we'll all have enough to do and not enough time to get it done. Yard and garden work, those projects that need attending to on the house and gradually getting the warmer clothes to the front of the closet, putting the heavier winter stuff in the back.
But here in Michigan, one thing is for sure. Just when you think it's going to be nice weather and smooth sailing for awhile, bang, here comes another snowstorm.
Now where did I put my heavy coat and gloves?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Outdoorama rolls into town for the 42nd annual show

Outdoors folks of all ages and interests will no doubt head to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi for Outdoorama, February 26-March 1. Details on times, seminars and other information available at
The late Wilfred "Bill Baker," my longtime fishing pal talked me into attending this show back in the days when it was being held in several buildings at the State Fair Grounds.
We even booked a trip with Bill Chalis who owned a fishing and hunting camp, "...on Lady Evelyn Lake near Haleybury, Ontario, Canada.
Instead of getting there via the Bluewater Bridge out of Port Huron, for some reason, we went north the the Soo, crossed there then had to backtrack to get us head north and eventually on to our meeting spot.
It was the first time I met legendary fisherman, Dan Gapen, Sr. from Minnesota. He grew up doing the grunt work for his dad who was guiding on Canada's Lake Nippigon.
Known as a staunch supporter of river fishing Dan is known for pike, muskie, and walleye fishing in fast water.
His company, Gapen Tackle, is still operated from Becker, MN. He's been a member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame since 2000.
Known for creating various ice jigs and baits like Gapen's Spin Bee, Crankbaits, Ugly Bug, Bait-Walker, Walk-N-Lizard along with many others, Gapen's name is well known to anglers throughout the country.
Attractions for this year's Outdoorama include Big Buck Night, over 100 seminars, special prices on tackle and boats, and outfitters coming from all over the country and Canada to help you book that trip of a lifetime.
Enjoy the show, take plenty of notes and be sure to visit vendors for those great show prices.

Photo of Outdoorama attendees at an outfitters booth. Photo contributed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Saginaw Bay-Last stop for Fishing Vacation School

Sitting alongside Mark Martin in his insulated Otter Ice shack, you wouldn't know this longtime pro walleye angler was into the third and last ice school of the ear.
What singles Martin out from others is the "on" button he possesses. The guy is absolutely in gear and on anytime to talk about fishing.
He is the best representative of the sport I have ever come across. Not only does he fish hard and share his extensive knowledge, he works just as hard or harder presenting education-filled seminars, photography, personal appearances around the country and excellent spokesman for the products he uses and believes in.
Ask him a fishing-related question first thing in the morning. You may get a bit of a yawn then an explanation along with more information that you probably asked for.
In the evening after 14-hours of fishing, doing live interviews and working with students, that same Martin is still "on" and willing to answer questions, get up and speak or help rig your rod.
The most excited I have seen him is when I or someone else has a fish on. Yesterday was a great example.
I hooked into what turned out to be probably a five-puns walleye. With my rod bent double Martin moved to kneel alongside the hole I was trying to bring the fish through.
"That's it, keep reeling," he said. "I see him. That's a great fish." About that time the fish was just under the ice. It must have looked up, saw us and spit my glo-in-the-dark Slender spoon then headed back down into the 25-feet of water he called home.
We were using a Lowrance graph to show depth and fish. With the latest equipment, neither of us saw this fish come from the bottom right up to my spoon and attack it.
So much for having a world-class ice fishing professional seated alongside of you with all the latest equipment.
Sometimes it is about luck.
Mark Martin with a five-pound Saginaw Bay walleye. By Beukema

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Plenty of ice-fish it safely

It seems Saginaw Bay has had it's share and perhaps a little more of accidents including fatalities this winter season.
Several anglers have gone through the ice on a body of water that absolutely has to be respected. The size of the Bay, depth of water and the ever changing winds make for a challenging place to fish; summer and winter.
If you are going out in a group, stay with that group. Drive out and back in single file, leaving room for the machine in front of you. Toward the end of the line, someone should be carrying a length of rope.
Remember pressure cracks may be safe to cross in the morning but come nightfall they could have moved enough to make for open water.
Carry safety equipment. Ice picks worn around the neck are most beneficial to gain purchase on the ice if you go through. Make your own with a couple of old screwdrivers. Drill a hole through the handles to accept a length of rope. Tie each end off past the handle and hang the rope around your neck. (Some people have even used ballpoint pens to get a grip on the ice!)
Consider taking a boat cushion with a long section of rope attached. This gives you a throwable device and allows the person in the water something to hang onto.
Always, especially on the Bay, keep an eye on the weather. Check it the night before fishing and the morning before you shove off. Keep an eye on conditions throughout the day and be alert for any sudden changes like a wind shift.
Be prepared to pull up your equipment and head for shore. But do so in a safe manner keeping in mind those pressure cracks that may have expanded.