Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:21
December 5, 2013
After our planned September trip to Brazil was postponed until December, I was actually a little bit glad. I figured that by the time December rolled around I’d be more in need of a fishing vacation than ever.
In the intervening months I spent a lot of time on the Port of Manaus website, watching the changing water levels (and appreciating the value of the Google translator). They have lots of historical water level information which allows you to gauge general trends in a given year. At the same time, it’s an inexact science – even if water is dropping quickly in Manaus, it may not be doing the same thing on a tributary a few hundred miles away. It’s somewhat similar to watching the levels on the Mississippi at New Orleans when you’re trying to plan a trip to fish the Mississippi in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, I was heartened by the fact that the water seemed to be going down, which is good, even if it wasn’t nearly as low as it had been during last year’s exceptional trip. That’s why I was so disappointed to find out last week that we’ve been postponed again, this time until next fall.
At this point, with one good trip, one great trip and two reschedulings under my belt, I’m wondering if maybe I should count my blessings and cut my losses and make next year’s “exotic” trip to someplace else, like Argentina or Costa Rica, where the conditions aren’t quite so unpredictable. It was tough to reschedule once, and life may get in the way if we’re forced to do it again next year. On the other hand, the trip into the Amazon is so utterly breathtaking, and the fishing so spectacular, that it’s hard not to roll the dice and try it again. Fortunately, I have at least a few months to decide.
In the meantime we’re headed on a last-minute trip to St. Lucia to sit our butts on lounge chairs and drink our sorrows away. This year has featured some great fishing – most notably El Salto and our trip to Michigan to fish with Kevin and Kerry Short – but also some disappointments. I’m ready for it to end so that I can start 2014’s fishing season with a clean slate.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 07:07
December 3, 2013
Every family member needs at least one hobby. Mine are fishing and accumulating fishing tackle. While my wife likes to fish, when we’re in Illinois around her friends and family, her hobby is visiting…as in, sitting on a couch, an armchair, or around the kitchen table just talking. We arrived up there Thursday morning and by Saturday afternoon I was talked out. Big time talked out.
Fortunately, my dad (who was equally talked out) took pity on me and asked what I needed to regain my sanity. Two words: Tackle Store – and I knew the right one. We hopped in the car and 30 minutes later we were at Lee’s Global Tackle in Elk Grove Village. Within a minute or two, back in my element, I was at peace.
If you haven’t been to Lee’s, it’s their selection of JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) tackle that makes them special. Of course they carry Lucky Craft, Jackall, IMA and Megabass, but you can see those at quite a few other tackle stores these days. What makes him different is the extensive selection of products from companies like Gan Craft, Norie’s, Evergreen and O.S.P. (Osprey Spiritual Performer). There’s a dedicated section along the back wall for the JDM hard baits along with a small separate room that is wall-to-wall soft plastics. Sure you can find some of it on ebay or a few online retailers, but it’s a different experience altogether to ogle and fondle the goods.
I might’ve exercised the old Visa a little bit.
For that opportunity I am thankful.
My only regret is that I didn’t spend at least twice as much.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 09:06
November 26, 2013
Long after the Pop-R was no longer the “secret lure of the pros,” the largest member of the family remained something of an outcast. The P70, a 3 ¼ inch, 9/16 ounce beast was far less popular than its smaller brethren, so eventually Rebel discontinued it.
I’d heard about the P70 in a few articles or occasionally on a message board, but every time I bid for one on ebay I ended up losing out, usually by a large margin. When PRADCO finally brought the lure back to the market, I ordered a few. I recalled stories of Tennessee pro Craig Powers flipping the P70 around flooded brush, into places most anglers would only try to penetrate with a jig or a Texas rig. That sounded like a technique that would work in the flooded bushes at Buggs Island.
Unfortunately, this was the first year since 1995 that I didn’t make a trip to Buggs.
The first time we went to El Salto, in December of 2009, the topwater bite was incredible in the low light hours, and I figured the P70 would be a key bait when we returned. On our trip this past May we caught plenty of big fish, but very few on topwater. The P70 remained in the box.
Frankly, there are so many good topwater poppers out there – the original Pop-R, the Rico, the Splash It and the Yellow Magic – to name just a few, that it’s a category where it’s hard to bring a new player into the rotation. I’ve depended on my dwindling stock of Yamamoto Sugoi Splashes for a long time, and with this year’s addition of the Shibuki popper that’s another one whose applications I have to assess.
It’s an embarrassment of riches, but I still need to figure out on my own why those P70s were so coveted.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 November 2013 07:33
November 25, 2013
In 2010, Byron Velvick and Skeet Reese won back-to-back Elite Series tournaments on opposite coasts using Jerry Rago swimbaits. Velvick’s victory came in the vegetated environs of Clear Lake, where the Rago’s protective fins prevented the lure from getting boogered up in the grass. Skeet’s win came on Smith Mountain Lake, a pond in my home state that I occasionally fish. Therefore I believed that the lures had some applications to the varied bodies of water I fish, so I headed straight to Tackle Warehouse and ordered a few – both the top hook and the line-thru models.
Four years later, I haven’t even thrown them. Once or twice I’ve placed them in the boat with the best of intentions, but I don’t believe they’ve yet left the packaging. The swimbait “revolution” hasn’t spread east quite to the extent that Skeet’s win indicated it might. Of course people are throwing them on eastern waters, and occasionally winning tournaments on them, but most of those wins seem to come on hollow-bodied paddletails.
That’s not a good excuse for why I haven’t thrown them – I’ve been plenty of places in the interim where you’d expect them to work, most recently El Salto – but I just haven’t gotten around to it. When you don’t have a local swimbait mentor in your boat all the time kicking your butt with the old tennis shoes it’s hard to keep trying new ones. Even when you do try them, it’s hard to be sure you’re using the right one, or using the right one correctly.
Maybe I need to head out to California as an exchange student, placed in a full-time swimbait immersion program, no bubba baits allowed.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 09:03
November 20, 2013
I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested.--Sheldon Cooper
I can’t blame my failure to throw the PH Custom Lures Crazy Ace on anyone but myself. After all, I was the one who broke the story of Bill Lowen’s favorite topwater when I wrote about it in Bassmaster. When I received one in the early portion of the year, I’m pretty sure that you could count the number of people anywhere who owned one on one hand, so if it worked it would’ve given me a distinct advantage.
I toted it to Okeechobee in January, but never really got on a topwater bite there. In April and May I got on a decent prop bait bite, first around some spawning bass and then later around bream beds, but I developed so much confidence in the other more conventional prop baits from PH (the “Squeaky P”) that the Ace stayed locked up in the box.
Next year, if that same situation arises I better get the little Pac Man imitator wet. Unfortunately, they’re now sold on the open market so I’ll never again be certain that I’m showing the bass something altogether new.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 07:33
November 19, 2013
I am not a marine technician, an agricultural economist or a scientist. On the other hand, I read a hell of a lot about bass fishing and bass boats – in magazines, on websites and on various message boards (not so much in the form of bathroom graffiti).
Over the past several years, in each of those venues, I have seen bass anglers unite in anger over the harms caused by ethanol in our gasoline supply. I’ve seen arm’s length editorials and first-hand accounts of ruined outboards. I’ve heard of anglers driving many miles out of their way to purchase ethanol-free gasoline.
Some believe that the ethanol conspiracy is a boondoggle for certain corporate agricultural interests. Others seem to think that it’s the work of green terrorists. Many seem to blame both of those seemingly strange bedfellows. The bottom line is that for a group that can rarely seem to agree on anything, in this case our little corner of the world seems to be in agreement on one thing: ethanol sucks. Two things, actually: the second is that E10 is bad and E15 would be worse.
That’s why we should have been universally joyous to find out that last Friday the Environmental Protection Agency published a notice of proposed rulemaking which, if promulgated, would reduce the amount of ethanol required to be blended into the gasoline that we use in our outboards and tow vehicles. It doesn’t necessarily mean the end of alternative fuels – it just sets the renewable fuel standards for the coming year, as required by 2007 legislation. Nevertheless, it seems to me like it would be a pretty big victory for boaters, even if it’s just temporary. After all of the criticisms and complaining, we’re finally headed on a path that would seem to be in the right direction. At the absolute very least, it would seem to mean that we’re headed away from increased reliance on E15 gasoline.
So, is anyone at any of the major fishing organizations dancing in the streets? Issuing press releases? Deciphering the legalese that fills this voluminous Federal Register document?
More importantly, are they planning to submit comments during EPA’s public comment period? Are they encouraging anglers to do the same?
From what I can tell, it’s mostly the sound of crickets. I expect that in the coming weeks we’ll hear a lot more about some “revolutionary” crankbait, a “new and improved” flipping stick or some middle-of-the-road pro’s plans for 2014 than we’ll hear about how to have an impact on ethanol going forward. I understand that the rule just came out, and that there are 60 days from the date of publication to comment, but if we’re going to put forth a coordinated and meaningful campaign, time is flying by. As a writer, I’m proud of editorials I’ve written for various fishing magazines and websites, but those are mostly cases of preaching to the converted – now’s the time to see if our numbers mean anything – or if perpetual bitching is the new normal.
Every time a controversy comes up that affects less than one percent of us (e.g., the payout at the B.A.S.S. Wild Card event), lots of anglers get their rainsuit straps in a tangle. Let’s see if something that truly impacts the 99% (of all bass boaters) will garner even a fraction of that enthusiasm.
I understand that there’s a sizeable contingent among our ranks who feel that government (or at least certain aspects of government) is irrevocably broken, and that we’re helpless to effect change – and many of them would probably argue that this one action won’t make a bit of difference. On the other hand, the constant refrain I see and hear is that rights and privileges are not eliminated in one fell swoop, but rather incrementally, a small bit at a time. If that’s the case, then it’s foolish to expect that the ethanol problem will be resolved with one stroke of the pen. The only way to get where we want, over time, is one small step followed by another and another.
None of the opinions in this blog post should be construed as legal advice, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of any of my employers or editors.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 07:34
November 18, 2013
As I’ve emptied the boat to be sold and started planning my 2014 tackle purchases, I’ve come across several lures that I had every intention of throwing in 2013, but circumstances, favoritism and sheer forgetfulness got in the way. In some cases, I’ve realized that I’ll probably never use them, but in others I’ve renewed my vows to put them to the test in the coming year.
Back in college, there was a popular party girl who some of my friends referred to as “The Shovelface” (might’ve been two words, not one, but we never committed the name to writing). Part of the rationale for the development of that nickname was because we were obnoxious, insecure, snot-nosed little punks. Boys are cruel. The other half of the equation is that she truly looked like someone had taken a steel shovel and whacked her upside the head. Probably the nicest, smartest, most interesting girl you could ever meet, but all we could see was the flattened face. Twenty five years after graduation, I have no idea what she’s doing but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that she’s a supermodel, a CEO or our country’s answer to Mother Theresa.
That kind of reminds me of this F-Sonic from Deps, a lipless crankbait that I meant to throw in 2013 but which somehow never left the pegboard. I’ve got scores of original Rat-L-Traps, Redeye Shad and Cordell Spots, along with “new and improved” versions like the Ima Rock N’Vibe, the Megabass Vibration-X and some of the Lucky Craft LVs. I tend to wear the paint off a few of them every spring on the Potomac, which has long been known as a lipless crankbait hotbed. Unfortunately, I never really got on that bite all that well this year, so when I was chunking and winding I tended to stick with known commodities. Couldn’t take the time to investigate something that looked different.
No doubt about it, the F-Sonic is weird looking. It reminds me of an anteater more than any creature found in the water, and I’m not really sure what the extended snout will do for me – maybe it provides a different wiggle or prevents the lure from getting snagged as much as the competition – but I intend to find out. First appearances can lead to improper conclusions.
Last Updated on Friday, 15 November 2013 07:27
November 15, 2013
Do you remember when it was a big deal to go to a Bass Pro Shops outlet? If you’re old like me, you remember when there was just the Springfield, Missoura behemoth, which to a kid in Maryland seemed about as remote as Alaska. Then, as they started to proliferate around the country, they became destinations, places you’d go for a day trip with a couple of buddies when the weather sucked too much to fish and there was nothing good on TV.
Now there’s pretty much one on every corner. If you live in North Dakota, New Mexico, Utah or Wyoming, plus a few more neatly-bordered states, you’re generally S.O.L., but anywhere else in the country you can make a quick trip of it. Hell, in places like Florida they’re nearly as prolific as Starbucks. [Side note: within five city blocks of my office I can count five Starbucks franchises, along with several other competitors – is there really that much coffee lust and/or sleep deprivation to justify those expensive leases?]. By the time the short-term BPS expansion plan is completed, there will be over 80 places to buy some jigging spoons or next year’s calendar featuring Uncle Buck’s Bassmates.
The ultimate sign to me that the empire has really taken on a life of its own, far beyond our little sport, is that they’re building one in Anchorage, Alaska – in the only state that has no bass. You may not be able to get Alabama Rigs or Senkos there, but I bet old Johnny Morris will have everything necessary for your own Deadliest Catch excursion.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 07:52
November 12, 2013
After yesterday’s blog about the Double Chug Bug, one Pete Weighs In reader who asked not to be identified pointed me in the direction of the Strike Pro Twin Minnow, a “Siamese Twin” style jerkbait that won the Best New Hard Lure award at the 2011 EFFTEX show (Europe’s version of ICAST).
I’m not terribly familiar with Strike Pro’s lineup, although I can relay that more than one pro has raved to me about their Hunchback wake bait.
Twin Minnow is such a mild name, though, and certainly won’t do much to bring it to American consumers’ attention. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw it was the “Buttmunch” (a la Beavis and Butthead) but that probably wouldn’t go over too well with the average US angler. Either way, we’ll need a ruling from the powers-that-be about whether this sucker is legal.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 07:49
November 11, 2013
Judging from all of the gnashing of teeth that has ensued in the two years since the Alabama Rig – sorry, the castable umbrella rig – was unleashed, you’d think that Andy Poss and Paul Elias had purposely set out to jumpstart World War Three. I can’t speak directly to their intentions (other than to make money and win tournaments, respectively), but it’s clear that the impact on the industry has been huge.
Whether you’re for it or against it (and I’m pretty much agnostic on the topic), the excitement over the A-Rig/C.U.R. has by-and-large omitted any discussion of past multiple-lure rigs. Sure, occasionally someone mentions the Double Fluke rig. Once in a while you’ll hear about a dropshot rig with a jig instead of a weight at the end. As far as I can tell, however, no one has mentioned my all-time favorite two-timer: The Double Chug Bug.
The Double Bug was born when enterprising pros (I believe that the always-crafty Ken Cook was a leader among them) took two standard Chug Bugs, removed the rear hook from one and then attached it to the nose split ring of the other. Eventually, Storm released an official version to the market. Must not have sold many, because one or two BPS Master Catalogs later they were gone.
Since I’m a long-time sucker for anything new and semi-innovative, I recall that I have one somewhere out in the garage, a black-bug-body paired with a shad-colored one. Not sure if I ever threw it, but I might just head out there and try to locate it among the graveyard of both used and unused topwater plugs. If I can find it, I’m going to make a point of throwing it the next time I find an aggressive topwater bite, just to piss someone off.