Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Shout Out #5

Today I'm featuring artist , outdoorsman and blogger , Tommy Ellis. I "met" Tommy through Twitter and the OBN , and I've been planning to feature his blog , Following Ghost , for quite some time. In addition to painting and blogging , Tommy also makes custom fishing lures , Turkey calls and sweet looking camoflage boats. In other words , he's got the kind of talent most of us can only dream about.

One of my favorite paintings
" Memories Anticipated " by Tommy Ellis
Another one of my favorites
" Forgotten Dairy " by Tommy Ellis
I'll let the rest of Tommy's paintings speak for themselves. Be sure to check them out at his blog Following Ghost.

Now on to the other reason I'm featuring Tommy and his blog here on Something's Fishy today. He is turning , rigging and painting custom made cedar plugs. They are beautiful and if all reports are true , very effective. After seeing reports from another fisherman on Twitter , I had to have one and I'll probably order more. Just the feel of a quality hand made lure and the time I know Tommy puts into every one have made me a very happy customer. I can't wait to get it on the water!

A lure very similar to mine
A very nice Shad pattern prop bait
And one I'll probably be ordering soon
Amazing paint job!
Head on over to Following Ghost and look around at more of Tommy's artwork. You won't be disappointed and you can even pick up a new turkey call , some hand made lures or one of his great watercolors

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Easy Steps to a Slimmer You

Or How We Catch Catfish on Smith Mountain Lake

If you've been following along with things on the blog lately , you know that I recently fished the Cave Spring Optimist's Fishing Tournament here on my home water with a good friend of mine. I've fished with him for close to 20 years now and every time we get a chance to go we have a blast. I try to act like fishing is serious business here on the blog , but in reality I go to have fun and it's far from a serious affair when I'm with my old friend. We joke around a lot and eat a lot and just kind of float around on the boat until something happens.

The basics of our fishing methods for Spring fishing on SML are fairly simple. We start out jigging with small jigs custom made by my fishing partner for Trout that work equally well for Crappie and small Bluegills. If we find a nice school of Crappie , we'll fish for a while , but generally we just catch about 20 small Bluegills and/or hybrid Bluegills to use for Catfish bait. We fish the jigs on small 1/32 and 1/16 ounce jigheads , tipped with a wax worm (or not). The fish love these jigs. We normally end up catching a few bass on them , some yellow perch and even an odd catfish or carp.
Jigmax1's custom jigs
My stash of custom jigs.
Once we have a supply of the right size bait in the cooler , we head to a secret spot full of submerged brush and catfish. I usually anchor the boat up and we start fishing. I use a simple rig for cats consisting of an egg sinker , swivel , 18 inch 30 lb. mono leader , and a 2/0 hook. Normally we hook the bluegills through the nose or through the tail and send them on their merry way.

This is when the fun starts. If we have bait in the water for a while with no strikes , we bring them in and send them for a Something's Fishy spa treatment. These lucky customers at the Something's Fishy spa are put through our exclusive 5 step program that leaves them looking and feeling thinner almost instantly. Seeing a satisfied customer as he or she leaves the spa in search of catfish always brings a smile to my face.

So what is the secret of our 5 Easy Steps to a Slimmer You © Spa treatment? It's really a fairly simple process and it's a surprisingly effective weight loss regimen for small panfish. Step one involves bringing the bait out of the water and into our luxurious facilities aboard the Gun Boat where they will be pampered with an unparalleled spa experience , custom tailored to fit their needs. In step two these fish are checked boat side for general liveliness and presentability as a viable catfish bait. During step three , the lucky recipients are laid out on our genuine plywood massage tables ( the deck of the boat ). Step four is a bit more complex. In the hands of our experienced staff , the bait is ran through a gauntlet of procedures designed to help them achieve their weight loss goals ( I stomp them with my size 13 boots ). Step five involves our staff admiring their handiwork and making bad jokes about how much weight the fish lost. Then our satisfied customers are sent back out into the water , so they can continue their search for big catfish.

Catfish love slimy , greasy , smashed up Bluegills.
Something's Fishy Jr. with the catch of the day.
This post is dedicated to my good friend Jigmax1 , who has been with me on some of my best (and worst) fishing trips regularly for the past 20 years. Wouldn't be the same fishing the tournament without you old buddy! Always a blast!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recommended Charters

Memorial Day is fast approaching and in this part of the world that means people are gearing up for summer vacations. It also means the fishing is picking up and will soon be red hot with just about every species imaginable putting the feed bag on.

So , if you're not an experienced fisherman or if you want to take a ride out on the water to get away from the crowds on the shore and at the pier , why not book a charter for some fast paced action?

If you plan on being in or around New York this summer give Captain Paul at Maybe Tonight Charters a shout. Captain Paul is a die-hard Striped Bass fanatic and he will do his best to put you on the fish. You can read an interview I did with the good Captain HERE that should give you an idea of the type of fishing to expect and also what a great guy Captain Paul is.

Not traveling that far North? No problem! Head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and book a trip with Captain Lenny at Soundside Adventures. Captain Lenny offers several different trips , including nature tours and bird watching trips that are sure to please the kids in your life. I recently interviewed Captain Lenny , and I must say he's a great guy that can tell a heck of a good fishing story. Be sure to check out what he had to say HERE.

Both of these fine gentlemen will try their hardest to put you on the fish and make your trip as fun and as safe as possible. Book a trip and hit the water , you'll be glad you did!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gear Review : Okuma Citrix Baitcaster

Back in April , I received word that I had won a gear review opportunity over at The Outdoor Blogger Network . I was excited , because I'm the type of guy who never wins anything. Never. I was even more excited when I found out it was an Okuma Citrix baitcaster. Joe from OBN mentioned in the original post that these higher end Okuma reels were top notch and I have to say I agree after getting my hands on one. Like many people , I made the false assumption that Okuma mainly manufactured entry level reels that were a bargain because of their low price. I was wrong.

First some specs.

The Okuma Citrix Baitcaster features the following :

  • ALC: Rigid diecast aluminum frame
  • A6061-T6 machined aluminum, anodized V-shaped spool
  • Multi-disc composite drag system
  • 7BB+1RB bearing drive system
  • Micro-click drag star for precise drag settings
  • External adjustable centrifugal cast control system
  • Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Graphite side plates on both sides
  • Easy change palm side plate access port
  • Ergonomic handle design allows cranking closer to body
  • Zirconium line guide inserts for use with braided line
  • Available gear ratios: 7.3:1 and 5.4:1
  • 7.3:1 gear ratio available in left hand retrieve

MSRP for this reel is $119.00 , which isn't bad at all considering the features.

First impression : Like any kid with a new toy , I was ready to get busy with this reel as soon as it got here. I tore open the packaging and started going over the reel with a fine tooth comb. One of the first things I noticed was that the clicker in the star drag seemed to be of a higher quality than several of my other high end reels. It's louder and just feels sturdier in my opinion. The centrifugal cast control system was a bit of a shock. It's externally adjustable , like the older magnetic brakes , with settings for 0 , 3 , 6 and 9 brakes. This makes getting the reel dialed in easy and I have to say it's an improvement over other centrifugal braking systems I've used before. This reel is super smooth due to the 7 + 1 bearing system and the anti reverse seems to work flawlessly. The only thing that concerned me at first was the narrow spool (more on that later).

I paired this reel with a 7' MH casting rod from one of my favorite manufacturers and spooled it with 50 lb. Power Pro braided line. I see a lot of use as a Bucktail Rod for Striped Bass in this combo's future and also a few trips to throw lures to bass.

Casting : After I had it on the rod and full of line , it was time to test it out. I tied a 1 ounce egg sinker to the line and started playing with the free spool knob. It's a little sensitive due to the precision manufacturing , but I got it adjusted with a few tiny turns. I started with the 6 brake setting , but found it to be way too much. With the centrifugal brake set on 3 , I let it rip. Perfect casts every time. My longest was probably close to 75 or 80 yards and I'm confident I could get to 100 with a longer rod. Of course this was with a sinker only , by a professional driver on a closed course , but you get the idea. This reel casts like a dream. The only problem I encountered was with the centrifugal brake. I wish it had more settings to allow you to adjust in smaller increments. No brakes was a disaster , while 3 left me feeling like it was cutting into my distance.

The centrifugal braking system on this reel is ideal for anyone new to casting reels. My neighbor's 17 year old son was kind enough to help me with testing this reel. He was new to casting reels , but with a couple of minutes of instruction and the brakes set to 9 he started cranking out a few good casts and was ready to back the brakes down to 6 after about 10 minutes. He tossed out a few 40-50 yard casts with it set at 6 , but had a backlash at 3. Another reason to want smaller increments in the cast control department.

On the water : I used this reel during a recent tournament here on my home water and I am impressed. The excellent casting , paired with a quick retrieve and a smooth drag make this reel an excellent choice for anyone looking for a small casting reel. It handled fish nicely and seems like it will hold up to the abuse I put my gear through without any problems. The drag is smooth , almost to a fault. While adjusting the drag , it would feel like it was set just right , but I found myself tightening it down a little when I had fish on. No big deal. This reel certainly has a place in my arsenal from now on and in my opinion holds it's own against some of my more expensive reels.

Final thoughts : I'm truly impressed with this reel. I honestly didn't have high expectations because of my inexperience with Okuma reels. This reel is comparable to a lot of more expensive reels from better known manufacturers. I'm sure it will be a welcome addition to many anglers' tackle. The pricing is very competitive considering the features and overall functionality of this reel.

If I could change anything , it would be the spool. It's narrow and I have big hands , so I was a little concerned. It wasn't a problem , but I would be more comfortable with a wider spool and it would bump up the line capacity. It's still a great reel for the price and it will definitely make me look at Okuma reels more closely before my next purchase.

You can find out more about this reel and other great Okuma products HERE.

My thanks to Okuma Fishing and the OBN for this great gear review opportunity!

Disclaimer : I received this reel free of charge to use and review for Okuma through my affiliation with the Outdoor Blogger Network. I received no other compensation for this and the review above is my honest opinion.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Results of the 2011 Cave Spring Optimist's Tournament

Nothing official here , but this is how it went :

Largemouth Bass : All four places paid out with fish between 5.8 and 6.8 pounds

Smallmouth Bass : All four places paid out with fish between 3.6 and 3.8 pounds

Crappie : All four places paid out with fish between 1.5 and 1.8 pounds

Catfish : Not sure this one paid four places , because two anglers were disqualified over being unable to take the polygraph test. Winning fish were between 23.1 and 27.94 pounds.

Striped Bass : Only two fish entered this year 20.06 and 20.82 pounds. That one was close.

Muskie : Once again , no fish entered this year. I need to learn how to catch them on SML.

I caught one Crappie that was close , but probably not a winner. See pic below. It tasted good :)

I like to keep track of these numbers from year to year so I'll have a ballpark idea as to how big a fish needs to be to place. Saves me a lot of time and gas if I know a fish isn't worth taking to the tournament headquarters.

Hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to finish my review of the Okuma Citrix baitcasting reel. It's a great reel , so be sure to check back for the full write up.

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Struck Out in the Tourney

I didn't catch anything that placed , so anyway , Boo Hoo ! I'm not complaining. We caught a bunch of fish , a few really nice crappie and a catfish. It was a lot of fun and great to actually get some fishing time in. I also got to try my hand at shooting a little video and editing it for Youtube. I suck at it. I can only get better (I hope).

Let me know if there are any issues with the vid. It might give you a headache. Or motion sickness. I'm bad with the camera.

Didn't film much , but it was fun. Hopefully I can do more of this in the future.

More about the tournament soon after I hear the final results. Until then , have a great week!