Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 December 2011 09:28
December 28, 2011
As we close in on the end of 2011 and embark on what surely will be a wonderful 2012, I hereby present to you my first year-end award ceremony. Depending on feedback and my mood next December, this may become an annual event.
Awards are issued totally at my discretion and whim. No trophies will be awarded. Recognition may not be bartered for a wrapped boat deal. Cash value is less than 1/20 of one cent.
Next year, budget permitting, we may have Dave Chappelle host the ceremony.
So without further hubbub, I present to you “The Peteys.” Unlike your six year old’s tee-ball league, not everyone gets one, but then again, not everyone wants one.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 December 2011 08:19
December 22, 2011
According to various published reports Charlie Sheen has taken his formerly estranged wife, Denise Richards, along with their gaggle of kids, on a little tropical jaunt for the holidays. Being the red-blooded (tiger blooded?) all-American male that he is, the former Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn set out for a little solo angling.
En route, he tweeted the following:
6:30 am Hemingway would be proud… “I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today.” Hell… I’m proud of me…
After returning victorious, he once again updated his Twitter feed:
Hello fish!! hmmm... Small but feisty!!! but a man is not made for defeat. a man can be destroyed but not defeated.
Angling may be a great equalizer, but if I showed up at a BFL and drew the former Mr. Estevez as my co-angler, I might have to have a word with the tournament director.
December 20, 2011
I’ve had the current boat for just under two years and I’ve yet to have the first tire issue – a flat, a slow leak or anything of that sort – which means that I am DUE. Ever since buying my first floating tub and matching trailer in November of 1996, I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without experiencing any tire problems.
That’s why I’m taking any and all precautions possible. Under the theory that “if you have it, you won’t need it” (for example, buy one of those newfangled million dollar rainsuits and you can be sure it won’t pour for a year) I’ve invested thirty of my hard-earned clams in the Trailer Aid product pictured here. Yes, I have a jack (several, actually) but they always seem inaccessible when you really need them, and besides, they’re often less than ideal for dual axle trailers like the one under my Puma FTD.
I don’t expect to trailer as much in 2012 as I did in past years, but I have a number of 500 mile round trip excursions, plus another that is 600 miles each way through the crowded northeast corridor. The idea of fumbling on the side of the road with a jack made for cars as traffic whizzes by is less than appealing.
I found out about the Trailer Aid on the Facebook page of former FLW Tour pro Jeffrey Thomas and decided to give it a try. I’m sure there are occasions where you could use a curb stop in a similar fashion, but they’re not always handy when you need one. A carefully crafted block of wood might also serve the same function, but this Skeet-color-coded gadget will be a lot easier to find in the rear of my cluttered Suburban.
[Hoping against all odds that I’ll never have to use it.]
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 December 2011 07:41
December 15, 2011
Steve Yatomi of Adventure Travel Alliance (www.adventuretravelalliance.com), who led our excursion into the wilds of Brazil last month, just got back from the jungle again. On his more recent trip, he had a bunch of luminaries in tow – not just Elite Series pros Skeet Reese and John Murray, but also current and former major league pitchers Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay and BJ Ryan.
Before we went, the redheaded wife and I bought travel insurance. Not only did we want to be covered in case the trip got canceled due to reasons beyond our control , but we needed the option of being shipped out by MedEvac should we get bitten by an anaconda, fall out of the float plane or suffer a debilitating case of the green banana quick step. On paper, it appears that I’m worth more dead than I am alive, but I still felt it was in our best interest as a couple to protect against finding out if that was actually true. I wonder if the players took out similar protections. The cost of the trip might be a pittance to Carpenter and Halladay, who made $14,259,403 and $20,000,000, respectively, in 2011. That’s not including any other endorsements or incentives. I’m sure Ryan, who last played in 2009 and whose last contract was for five years and $47 million, isn’t eating cat food, either (unless he really, really likes it). Do you think their teams and their families were at all nervous that they might get machetified out of a job? One thrashing peacock bass impaling a valuable hand with a 4/0 treble is enough to make baseball’s winter meetings come to a halt.
It sounds like they all made it back OK, insurance or not. I don’t know whether their MLB skills translated with a rod and reel, but apparently their caiman-hunting abilities are world class. This big sucker they brought back to the boat could have eaten either of the two that we captured.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 13:29
December 14, 2011
Last week Bassmaster.com ran a generally positive piece entitled “American Originals: New Nostalgia” in which it praised the efforts of lure manufacturer Luck “E” Strike to produce a line of hard baits manufactured entirely in the United States and retailing for less than six bucks apiece. Comments at the bottom of the page were generally supportive of the company’s effort – as one commenter said “To hell with the global economy, buy American made.”
But that concise opinion doesn’t necessarily summarize everyone’s view of this particular situation. On internet message boards including the Texas Fishing Forum and the board run for Bass Cat owners, the discussion became a little bit more nuanced, although not necessarily heated. Not everyone agrees that blind support for American-made products is warranted.
As one tackle industry figure (someone who works with both domestic and imported products) wrote to me: “Are you #%@# kidding me? Yes, I am all for made in the USA. We've got a factory here and have all the control over everything we make but I also think we need to reward ingenuity, innovation and craftsmanship!”
The particular gripe seems to be that maybe Luck “E” Strike (does anyone know why the “E” is in quotation marks?) might not have been the best poster boy for this baseball, hot dogs and apple pie campaign for Americana. LES, a longtime figure in the soft plastics industry, has more recently entered the hard bait market, and in doing so has ruffled some feathers.
Notably, LES has introduced the RC STX jerkbait, pictured here:
The general consensus is that the RC STX is a shameless knock-off of the Megabass Vision 110, pictured here:
The Vision 110 is among the top three or four Japanese lures in terms of impact on the American tournament scene. At one FLW event on Beaver Lake earlier this year, nearly every angler in the top ten used one for most or all of his catch. I’m pretty sure that 99% of the field had at least one in the boat.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 07:51
December 13, 2011
I'm sitting here at a computer terminal, damning my work schedule, cursing the bad weather and lo and behold a text message pops up on my increasingly obsolete Blackberry. It’s Terry “Tater” Battisi holding some sort of octopus contraption with a bass attached to it? Has anyone seen one these before (not tall Idahoans; the rig, you big dummy)? Maybe I’ll be the first outdoor writer to write about it.
On the right is Alabama super-guide Jimmy Mason, who was kind enough to take Terry and Clemons out on the TVA chain for the day. After a day in the boat with the two of them, he’s gotta be craving a bit of silence.
December 7, 2011
Over the years I’ve made no secret of my Japanese tackle obsession. It’s not quite debilitating, but with any luck it’ll get there soon. Simply put, I’ve been quick to put my eggs in the basket of luremakers who produce specialized, high-quality products for highly-pressured fish. That’s not to say that I haven’t caught two truckloads of bass on $2.99 Rat-L-Traps (I have), just that when the going gets tough I like to have a little edge.
Turns out that perhaps some of my overseas efforts should have been directed inward, toward the middle of the country.
Many of the same conditions that have made Japan a hub for high-quality hard baits – lots of pressured bass, lots of skilled craftsmen – also come into play in Ohio. More specifically, they’re evident in the works of the avid anglers along the various pools of the Ohio River, where bass are pressured and cautious and wily. That region has long produced a lot of super-stealth cranks like the D-Bait and the Wee Bait. Elite Series pro Bill Lowen has seen them all, thrown almost all of them and caught bass on most of them. That’s why I take his word for it when he endorses a product on the sly and why I got excited when he told me about the baits his friend Phil Hunt of Indiana (still part of that Ohio River region) produces. My tackle obsession is particularly bad when it comes to topwaters and Hunt produces a prop bait of the ilk that has been lighting fires in tournaments around the bream spawn. His “Squeaky P” may look similar to some others, but it has an aluminum tube that prevents the tail end of the balsa from getting too boogered up after you catch a few fish on it. He also makes it in four different sizes, all the way down to a midgetlicious two-inch version that’s built for ultra-pressured loonkers.
You may not have any now, but they’re available at Hunt’s website, www.phcustomlures.com. If you’re a junkie like me, you won’t be able to resist.
Last Updated on Monday, 05 December 2011 08:17
December 5, 2011
I’ve fished the tidal portion of the Potomac River since 1995 and one thing I’ve learned along the way is that Potomac River catfish will smack the snot out of a spinnerbait, crankbait or plastic worm. While I’ve caught more than my fair share of whiskered fish while chasing bass, I’ve never caught any of the really big ones – the type that when you pump their stomachs you end up with license plates, rodents and old Timberland boots.
That changed yesterday, thanks to Capt. Josh Fitchett (www.rivercatn.com). My friend TJ Maglio set up a trip with the good Captain Catfish and invited me and the redheaded wife to tag along in his quest to get slimed.
If the first fish in the boat, my wife’s 42 pounder, had been the only thing we caught, I would have left convinced that Josh knows what he’s doing. But the fact that it was the fifth biggest fish on the day (dwarfed by Hanna’s 59, TJ’s 51, my 48 and TJ’s 45) just scares me. How many more of those freaks swim down there and how big can they possibly get?
Do the math again – our five biggest fish totaled 245 lbs., an average of 49 pounds per cat.
This multi-species quest could get kind of fun. If you go (and I highly recommend that you go), don’t wear your Gucci suit or your Prada shoes. After our arms, shoulders and backs got a workout fighting big fish, our washing machine got a workout cleaning off their residue.
November 30, 2011
While the jungle of Brazil may be outside of the area code of this humble bass fisherman, I was able to stay in my comfort zone because, after all, we were still fishing for BASS.
Well, no, not really.
Peacocks aren’t closely related to our American largemouths and smallmouths. Sure, they have the same gills and fins and other fish bits, but that’s where the similarity ends. Accordingly, I spent the trip broadening my fishy horizons.
The same could be said for our fellow traveler Ray Kawabata of Seattle, who was on his first peacock journey. Still, Ray’s a much more diverse angler than your trusty blogger. He’s got the bass thing down – in fact, he’s even fished my home waters of the Potomac – but a lot more beyond that. As I tried to impress with stories of Guntersville and Falcon and the Cal Delta, he effortlessly topped my efforts by talking about steelheading near home or setting up a topshot rig for big tuna off the coast of California. I’d felt the same way a few days earlier in Manaus, when our driver Enilson (“Eni” for short – “call me eni time, eni where,” he said), boasted that in addition to English and Portuguese, he spoke Spanish, German, Japanese and perhaps a bit of Mandarin Chinese. Armed with only a modest grasp of English and Spanglish, I felt wholly inadequate. Brazil proved me to be both linguistically and pescatorially monochromatic.
I left with the distinct feeling that I have been living in the bass bubble too long.
Are peacock bass just a gateway drug? I don’t envision myself going all troutalicious on you all any time soon, but the one bug I took home from Brazil was a fever to chase redfish and tarpon and tigerfish.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 12:05
November 28, 2011
I was away at a tournament at Buggs Island in April of 2000 when my then-girlfriend delivered the message: “I’ve picked out a puppy,” she said. This came as a surprise to me for a variety of reasons – the relationship was already on weak legs, I didn’t know where she was going to get the money to buy a dog, and, perhaps most significantly of all, she had never mentioned any intention of adding a dog to our time-deprived household.
I was focused on the tournament and didn’t have the effort to engage in yet another fight.
“Fine,” I answered. “But if you think I’m going to miss any fishing trips to stay home and care for him, you’re sadly mistaken.”
A few weeks later we made the 30 minute drive to the breeder’s house and left with about two pounds of wrinkle-faced pug. She slept in my arms the whole ride home. I started to melt. That night she cried and whined and since I’d never had a dog before and didn’t know what to do, I pulled her out of the crate, placed her on my chest and we slept peacefully until morning. I melted a touch more.