Thursday, September 22, 2016

Walleye 101, higher education for anglers

The first time I set eyes on Lance Valentine was seeing him seated in his boat, on a trailer in a field at the fairgrounds at Imlay City at a Woods N' Water show. That had to be tweet-plus years ago.
Since those days when the show was held in one cow shed and has now taken over the entire fairgrounds, Valentine too has moved out of the field and onto bigger things.
One thing that hasn't changed is his passion for teaching people how to fish. How to do anything connected to fishing.
In a sport where techniques, spots and even baits are held close to the vest, Valentine is one of the rare breed that is willing to share about anything he knows.
If you care on a early spring charter on the Detroit River with him and are not jigging up fish he'll probably tell you, "Move up here alongside me and try it."
I've sat in his boat and watched him tie night crawler harnesses. In a few minutes I was tying my own thanks to his instruction.
From a trailer in a field to an office, staff, and a large group of followers, Lance Valentine has come a long way.
Visit his website at
Lance Valentine in the gray pullover seeing to it that things are going smoothly with a group charter. Photo courtesy of Lance Valentine.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Too early to thing of ice fishing? Not to some folks.

Summer isn't over and gardens haven't been put to bed for another year. Yet the cold weather crowd is already making noise about ice fishing.
You know how it goes. First, it's they can't wait for colder weather and ice. Next they wonder out loud if it's too early to get the equipment out for a pre-season check.
It's much to early for me. However, because my garage has pretty much become my man cave, I'm out there quite a bit, changing this, adding equipment to this box, moving these baits from here to there and trying to figure out where things should be stored so they are accessible when needed without putting out a full-force search.
It seems like forever that I have been arranging, rearranging, shifting and getting rid of stuff I haven't used in years all in preparation to make taking a trip relatively easy.
Earlier this year I came into possession of a PWC trailer. Smaller than most boat trailers, it's perfect for hauling a kayak. With help from fellow kayaker Jeremy Crowe, we made adjustments to the rails so the boat sits on the trailer as though if grew there.
It's always been a chore for me to life my boat from the ground onto the rack of the truck. For awhile I has sliding it into the truck bed but about three feet stuck out the back. And I was worried about carrying rods, tackle and the rest in the bed without being able to close the tailgate.
Now everything fits nice with room left over. But not near enough room for ice fishing gear. That can wait a bit!
The way it's going to look in a few months. COLD! By Beukema

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Keep a first aid kit handy when outdoors

Last Saturday, fishing a kayak bass tournament on Central Lake near Jackson I got one of the hooks off a treble hook caught in one of my little fingers.
As soon as I saw how deep it was I knew it was either the ER or get another angler to help get it out.
Sometime ago a method was devised to remove hooks without cutting the shank then pushing the point through the skin.
The new method involves two people, a length of braid and  a push and pull. Russell Wilson from Central Michigan Kayak Fishing arrived to help.
"I don't have any pliers with me to cut the hook off the plug," he said. I didn't have any either. So Wilson began to slowly open the split ring and slide the treble off the plug.
Once the plug was removed, he had more room to work. He cut a length of braid and wrapped it around the hook's bend.
"Push down on the point or where it should be," he told me. As soon as I pushed on the point he yanked the line and out came the hook, pain-free.
I twas painful when I first got stuck and painful getting the treble off but the removal was painless.
I had my first aid kit with me. We squirted some antibiotic on the wound, covered it with a bandaid and I went fishing.
Check hook removal out on You -Tube. If you're ever in this situation, it's a good think to know.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

River Bassin comes to Michigan

Last Saturday, approximately 52 anglers in kayaks hit moving water in a 50 mile radius from Flint thanks to the efforts of Jeremy Crowe.
Crowe is an avid kayak angler. So is his finance, Shannon Williams. These two pre-fish tournament together, fish tournaments close to each other and travel out of state to fish river bass trails.
However, the two readily admit they have difficult figuring out where to fish lakes. But give them a river and chances are they will find some fish.
One big difference about fishing a river is the wearing of a pfd. If you ever had any doubt about not wearing one, don't let it be on a river.
Too many things can happen and most of them aren't good and most happen quickly on the river.
Reaching for a lure or rod caught in a tree can cause your yak to dump you.
Once in the moving water and especially near sweepers; those trees that hang close over the water with several limbs on top or barely underwater, can be the cause of your trouble.
Branches almost reach out and tangle you up in them. Once that occurs, the hydraulics of the river, the motion of the current, can pull you down in no time. No pfd is a good recipe for disaster.
Both Williams and Crowe can testify to finding themselves in the water several times. And both are devotees of wearing a pfd.
River and lake fishing or paddling is fun. But in no time it can turn into a serious situation when things start to go bad.
Who is the better angler, Williams or Crowe? Lets say Williams cashed a check Saturday.

Friday, July 29, 2016

What's the best equipment? It all depends.

I'm frequently asked to give my opinion on the best rod or reel, the best gun to hunt deer with, the best place to cross country ski and on and on.
Recently the interest in what is the best is about kayak fishing. You guessed it, what's the cheapest and best fishing kayak, recommend a good pfd, or where should I go to catch the most fish.
I won't give away fishing spots but from time to time, I'll share what's out there in the way of new equipment. If I don't like it or it doesn't perform well, I'm not going to bash it.
Either I feel it's something that would benefit the kayak community or other sport or I won't mention it.
That's not a cop out or middle of the road comment. What may not work for me, you might find perfectly suitable for your needs.
Here are there items you might find a need for.
1) Just a couple of years removed from it's introduction is the Assault Hand Paddle with its. hook blade and molded-in teeth.
Short paddle at 22-inches long, the paddle has a foam grip and wrist lanyard. It's perfect for holding you over a spot, grabbing a limb that has caught your favorite bait and takes one hand to use.
It's available in OD-green and orange. More and more yak anglers are carrying them situated between their legs or under the seat for quick use.
For more information visit
2) Clothing is an important issue. Because you are wet from wave spray or you decide to wade here and there, a swim suit works but doesn't really remain comfortable.
DryFins offers a chafe free, lightweight shorts made of quick dry materials. It comes with it's own bag, has a couple of pockets, looks good and is very comfortable to wear, especially in those wet conditions. Visit for more information.
I go through sunglasses like I change water bottles; frequently. Along comes Costa sunglasses with a great fit for me.
The Fantail frames (in memory of my Navy days) in tortoise color with green mirror 580p lenses and a croakie work great.
They are a comfortable fit I'm able to wear all day on the water and the drive back home. Fishing in a tournament near Lansing on Lake Ovid recently, I noticed right off the glare from sun was all gone. I could see down into the water which was very important on this weed choked lake. For more information visit
Dry Fins shorts, Costa "Fantail" sunglasses and Backwater paddle. Photo by Beukema

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kayak bass tourney, a success

Last Saturday, Fathers Day weekend, found 43 anxious kayak anglers hitting the waters of Lake Ovid in the Sleepy Hollow State park near Lansing.
With little wind, calm waters and minor motorized boat traffic the day seemed suited for a tournament with a couple of exceptions.
Temperatures were slated to go to near 90 degrees and humidity was high. Sun glancing off the water can burn skin quicker than a hot dog over a hot campfire. Long sleeves and pants with plenty of sunscreen were the order of the day.
The other exception was the mostly covered weed filled lake. Weeds were as thick as a farmers field with hay growing before the first cutting.
This wasn't a matter of throwing and retrieving lures over the tops of weeds. It turned out to be fishing for open holes in weed beds, getting a lure down deep enough as your boat slowly drifted past that hole and hoping for a bite.
I finally figured out some sort of pattern that got me a few bites; probably bluegills or perch. Then I had a good pull that turned out to be an eight-inch largemouth, too long to scale. Back in the water he went to grow up.
When you fish very hot conditions in seemingly impossible water making throw after throw with no luck it becomes easy to lose concentration and let your mind wander.
The higher the sun climbs and the bites not coming you begin to question yourself. I don't really belong here, I brought the wrong tackle, maybe I should retie and try the same baits over again and so it goes.
From each tournament there is something to learn. Ive gained several new things. They may not put me in the wind column but I think they will go a long ways toward boosting my confidence.
left is Jeff Sherwood, winner of tournament 2 in the MKS fishing series. Photo courtesy of Tom Mullins

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kayak fishing-always something new

I'm headed to Lake Ovid around Lansing for a kayak bass fishing tournament on Saturday. New to me will be fishing thick, heavy weeds in a lake supposedly holding lots of bass, still experimenting around with equipment and where to place it all, and finally, towing a trailer with a kayak lashed to it.
New tires, new hitch pin, registration plate and a good set of tie down straps should handle everything.
I'm used to carrying my yak on the truck roof or stuffed inside the bed under the cap. So this is completely different.
I've continued experimenting with what baits and rods to bring along with other equipment to leave at  home or bring along, "just in case." That just in case pile gets bigger overtime I look in the garage.
Bait selection is always difficult for me on any outing. I take some shallow diving crank baits, a few quarter ounce spinner baits and the rest is plastics of different sizes, colors and style.
I had hope to fool around with a stakeout pole for this tournament. Right now I don't carry an anchor but due to the shallow water depths, thought I could plunge a kayakers modified anchor-a stakeout pole-into the lake bottom to keep me in once spot.
This trip I'll be camping, so my equipment for that needs rounding up and loaded along with cooking gear, food and a heavy box with a tight fitting lid to deter squirrels and raccoons from sampling the food I bring.
Better get to it. It won't pack itself!
Grandson Josh Chekal with a largemouth bass caught from a kayak.