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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Organization-Another key to ice fishing

Mike Schneider of Twin Lake is on the pro-staff working with Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation Schools.
"I've known Mark for 30 years," the often quiet Schneider said. Hardly ever sitting down, Schneider can be found loading or unloading equipment, helping students and fellow anglers and is usually within talking distance of Martin to help with anything unexpected that comes up.
Last Sunday at the Town Pump in downtown Lake City, Schneider was the first of several seminar speakers.
"I'm going to talk about keeping organized and I'll leave fishing and rigging to the others," he said as he began his talk.
A fan of Plano or Rapala large, plastic tackle boxes that come with heavy foam covering the inside, Schneider explained why he likes these boxes.
"When I first started ice fishing, I had a bunch of really nice spoons and jigs loose in a large box. When I got home that day after fishing, I looked at the box and all I could see was lead-looking baits. All of the paint had been chipped off those expensive lures because they were banging together all day."
A good way to solve that problem is to cut small slits in the foam then insert a lure into the opening. Each lure has it's own spot and is protected by the foam which holds the bait tight to keep it from rattling around in the box.
"It's the details; the little things that make a difference in any kind of fishing," Schneider said. "This sport is a lot of work."
The night before fishing, Schneider goes through a check list that includes his clothing, safety gear and tackle.
Give it a try and save some dollars! (Mike Schneider speaks in seminar on ice fishing in Lake City) photo by Beukema

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Think skiing is tough? Try juggling going downhill on the snow!

Tommy Tropic (Petrie) is a good downhill skier. Give him three bowling pins and the East Jordan resident will juggle them all the while negotiating turns, going downhill on the snow and talking to people, especially children on the way down.
Tropic has been juggling for 30 years and does it full time. "It's how I make my living," he said with his warm, big smile.
When he's not on the hill, he'll juggle and do magic tricks indoors at one of the slope-side restaurants or warming huts at Treetops Resort in Gaylord.
Even if you don't ski and can't stand winter, book a weekend-Tropic juggles on Saturday's-get in on some resort specials and head to Treetops.
Book your trip for January 24, 31, February 15, 21, and March 7 and ask about reserving your spot on    a Wilderness Sleigh Ride that includes a gourmet, four-course dinner at the Wilderness Cabin.Call (855) 222-5449 for more information or visit

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Be extra careful on river ice

The DNR warns anglers that while fishing rivers through the ice may be productive it can also be potentially dangerous. That's due to moving water that has difficult freezing enough to allow for ice fishing.
You definitely need a pfd on river ice and absolutely should know the rive, it's currents, and any other pertinent local information to help give you a safe day.
Wear creepers and carry ice picks and a rope. Let someone know where you will be fishing and when you intend to be off the ice.
Slush or snow on ice is a warning that the ice may be unsafe. Stay off the ice in those conditions. When you do go out, wear bright colored clothing and carry a cell phone.
Keep an eye out for large cracks or depressions and avoid those areas. Places like Saginaw Bay are famous for cracks that form, getting larger as the day goes on.
Because you are over moving water remember that it doesn't freeze as uniform ally as lake ice does.
If you do fall through, turn back in the direction you came from as that ice may be stronger. If you have ice picks a screwdriver or even a pen, drive the item into the ice to give you some kind of hand-hold.
Pull yourself onto the ice and remain prone, crawling until you get to thicker ice. Then get a call into 911 for help, warm clothing and heating up your core temperature.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Be careful on the ice, despite recent cold temps

We've definitely had colder weather this past week with even lower temperatures predicted for this coming week.
"She's makin' ice," is a common expression among hard water anglers. She may be making ice but be sure, before heading out, that there is enough to support you.
Last night, on my way home from mass, I saw several guys on clear ice on a couple different northern  Oakland County lakes.
The good thing, they weren't out very far. I don't know if there was a bad side to this other than it was dark, the ice was clear and we haven't had that many cold days yet.
I've said in other columns and blogs that test the ice before getting too far out. Wear a good pfd and take a spud along.
Use the spud to test the ice in front of you. If it goes through easily, turn around and get back on shore as soon as you can. Don't try and find another way across the ice thinking the ice may be thicker over this or that way.
How much ice is safe ice? No DNR official or sheriff's department water rescue will give you a number. In fact, most will tell you there is no such thing as safe ice.
So, before you head out, get information from local sporting goods shops, other anglers, then knock the dust off that spud you no longer use because of a power auger.
Leave that auger at home for the first few trips and take something along that will test the ice. And wear a pfd.