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 www.backwaterpaddles.com.
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 dryfins.com 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 costsadelmar.com.
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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Memorial day and bass fishing

This is the second year I'll be attending the annual get together of the Michigan Virginia Mafia, better known to this group of characters as the MVM.
For the past 10 or 12 years the same guys have been getting together to fish Lake St. Clair and it's smallmouth bass, all catch and release.
Members include Marke Cicero, John "Mini" Maniaci, Bill "Mac" McElroy, Scott Hammer, Carlos "C" Hathcock III and Shawn Dalton.
The late Ken Neeley, owner of KD Outdoors in Waterford is considered a member and throughout the week is honored and well thought of by the group.
This gathering includes lots of good food, plenty to wash it down with, great humor, lots of fishing stories and remembering those that are no longer with us.
It's absolutely held at the right time, right around this countries Memorial Day celebrations where we remember those that have given everything for all of us.
Butch Runyon pictured with his dad's WWII canteen cup.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Magical trout opener

On the Manistee River, about 45 minutes toward late afternoon turned out to be magical. Until then, the wind was blowing upstream or from the south. It blew steady and chilly.
We woke up to temperatures in the low 30-degree range. No one was in a hurry to get dressed for a go with the long rod.
Following breakfast, I head to Frederic to see old friend, fly fishing guide and fly tyer Sam Surre. I was daily confident he would be at home, holding court to friends about all things fly fishing and other subjects.
"The weather has thrown everything off," Surre said. He was referring to warmer weather several weeks earlier that had triggered a good hatch of bugs. Colder weather put a stop to that, driving bugs away and trout that weren't interested in rising for the sake of rising.
Surre feels things should improve later this week. "Warmer weather is supposed to come in later in the week which should turn things on again," he said.
About 3p.m. Rob Ward and his buddy since high school days Andy Gordon began making noises about suiting up to fish.
A few minutes after they got into the river, I walked down to see how they were doing. "There's a hatch right now," Rob said as he set the hook and missed a fish. "I've caught three right here," he said.
I got into waders and rigged up my 3-weight with a tiny olive on it. As soon as I was in the river I noticed fish rising all around me but they didn't want my fly.
I'm not good at insect identification or fly identification. If someone asks what I'm using I usually hold it up for them to see or say, "one of those little ones that's grey and black."
Although I lack in certain areas, I have paid attention and from Surre how to approach feeding fish.
I noticed a lot of bugs in the air, some dipping down to the water surface. I thought those were Hendrickson's or Hennies as the more experienced refer to them.
Taking the fly off that wasn't attracting any hits, I luckily found a small Hendrickson imitation of some kind. No sooner had a begun fishing it than I began getting trout rising to it.
As I was fishing an active trout, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a huge fish, probably over 15-inches clear the water after a bug.
Surre's lessons began paying off. Slowly and carefully I moved downstream stopping above where I had seen the rise.
After a least a dozen casts I finally manage a drift right into the lunch room of the fish I had been watching. He went for it and i set the hook. Feeling a good strong pull I thought for sure I had him.
However, he thought otherwise spitting the hook right back out. So goes the trials of fishing. That's why it's not called catching.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fly fishing-not so mysteriousg

Instead of grabbing your favorite spring or bait casting rig, how about taking one of the long rods along on your next fishing trip?
Granted, it will take experience, the right kind of flies and some luck to get a limit of walleye on a fly rod, but there are other fish that are willing to hit or be caught.
For instance, fly rods and some form of topwater bait were made for panfish, especially in and around weeds.
At the end of your tippet or leader, tie in a small foam-bodied spider or something else that has long, shimmering, rubber legs.
Don't bother with false casting-swinging the fly back and forth in the air before delivering it-rather, make your cast and follow your line and bait to the top of the water with your rod tip.
Matt Beukema looks for a spot to through a bug-by Beukema
Take in any slack and let everything sit still for a moment. Sometimes, the bite happens as soon as the bait hits the surface of the water.
If you haven't had a strike, begin twitching the bait slight by snapping the rod tip a little, very little. There's enough action in a fly rod to really move something as small as a tiny bug without much effort.
Or you can take the line in the opposite hand from the one holding the rod and give it slight tugs. This too will add action.
Watch the bait carefully and be ready to set the hook when it goes under or you see a splash near it. Usually fish won't inhale your bait, rather they get it stuck in the lip or mouth where it's easy to extract.
Once a fish is on, no matter the size, it will put a bend in the rod and make the business end jump around like a five-pound bass had gotten it.
If you worry about fish swallowing the bait, grind the barbs off a few. That will make for a quicker and easier release.
For some "dinking around action" give a fly rod a try. You'll definitely have some action.