Live Bait Selection made easy! The Bait Interrogator!
Here’s a quick video of our new product, the Bait Interrogator! It fits a five gallon bucket and makes baitfish selection easy on the angler and the live bait! When ice fishing your hands stay dry as you reach for a live bait. The stress on the baitfish is much less then when you chase the live bait with dip net, often settleing for the live bait that lands in the dip net and not the baitfish you really wanted.
If you fish the same way year after year, your results will be simular each year, if you use new tactics and ideas and especially if you come up with your own techniques and ideas, your fishing results will change for the better. The time and effort it takes to try new tactics will eventually pay off. This is the difference betwwen a good angler and a great angler.
Catching live baitfish for your fishing needs can be fun and rewarding, it also can save you a bunch of money. If you know of a pond that holds Golden Pond Shiners,
you can catch them on hook and line, even through the ice! Chumming your spot with bits of bread or a can of cat food should increase your catch. Use a very small hook #10 or 12 and for bait you can use bread, very small piece of Garden Worm, Spike, Grub or Mousie.
You can also catch them in a shiner trap, baited with bread or canned cat food, I use the catfood in the winter when shiners are closer to the bottom, the cat food sinks, insted of floating up like the bread.
Al the “Hitman” Sims is an accomplished inventor and expert Fisherman!
Thanks for viewing
New Ice Fishing Tactic!
I have used this zip tie system for several years and it makes ice fishing easier, I figured it was time to share it with the ice fishing community! Visit often for more ice fishing innovations!
Thanks for viewing! Any feed back on this tactic would be greatly appreciated!
Al “Hitman” Sims
As I have mentioned in earlier blog posts my fascination with spawning fish began when I was a young boy watching the behavior of Bass and Sunfish which are the easiest bedding fish to find and watch.
Later in my early teen’s I was still observing spawning fish on their beds and it was my favorite time to fish, I had a couple of lakes that I would fish from rock cliffs, I could sneak into my spot way above the bedding fish and sight cast to the beds.
One time I witnessed a male largemouth Bass repeatedly taking a Painted turtle in it’s mouth and spitting it out several feet from the nest, I realized that the turtle was trying to eat the bass eggs.
I tossed a spinnerbait to the bed and the bass grabbed it instantly, I couldn’t feel anything, I lifted the rod to set the hook only because I could see that the bass had in-hailed my offering but the spinnerbait came right back out of it’s mouth and I never felt a thing! I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t witnessed it myself.
I was amazed, I was very in-tune to the feel of a bass hitting each type of lure I fished with especially rubber worms.
But a bass swallowing my lure and me setting the hook on nothing and feeling nothing even though I could see my lure in it’s mouth was an awesome learning experience, I didn’t realize it all then, I still learn from it today!
In the last few years I have seen lures simulating turtles and It brings me back to the day I saw the turtle and bass going at it.
Although I haven’t thrown a turtle bait, It’s safe to assume it would make a great lure to attract bedding fish.
I’m not going to go into all the obvious info that you can find in any generic article about bass spawning, at least not in this post but I would like to touch on little known facts about the spawning habits of the Largemouth Bass with no particular order just as they come to mind.
First was my observation above, a big bass can be holding your junk in it’s mouth and you have no clue as it spits it back out of its nesting area.
Bass will spawn in deeper water than the normal 3-6 foot depths especially in clear lakes. I have seen bass on beds in 15 feet of water.
The male is ready to spawn 1 year after it’s first birthday and should be about 10 inches in length at that time.
The male builds the nest first then waits for a female partner.
A male bass is capable of spawning with more than one female.
The mortality rate of male bass is high during the spawn because they build then defend the nest for 2 weeks after the spawn when the fry can leave the nest on their own, they do not feed during this time so they can be left very weak after the spawn.
Young female bass 2-4 years old have way less fear than a large experienced female, they will be very predictable and not as cautious as Mama bass about the location they chose for spawning.
A female Bass could be so big that there is not a dominant male large enough or excuse my expression but with the balls to mate with her.
Individual bass spawn at different times during the spawning season, they don’t all start on the same day. There can be weeks in between.
The spawning period of the Largemouth Bass is regulated much by moon phases and not just water temperature.
A female bass can chose not to spawn at all! Many reasons could influence this,
not enough dominant males.
To crowded with spawning beds, a bass want’s it’s privacy and likes to be about 30 feet from other active bedding bass. Too much fishing pressure can also have an effect on when or if big Mama bass spawns at all.
If you catch a big female with eggs in her well after the spawn, those are not next years eggs, she has only partially spawned or chosen not to spawn at all, she will then try to absorb her own eggs.
The actual spawn, “when the female releases her eggs and the male fertilizes them” can take from 1 to several hours but happens in 1 day.
The weakend female returns to her pre-spawn locations on cover in deeper water, these ares are now known as post spawn spots and will become the best area to fish as the female regains her composure.
The boss man stays and plays Mr. Mom for a couple of weeks until it’s offspring is ready to venture off on their own.
How do I know all this stuff? Years of hands on fishing, reading and retaining fishing info like a sponge, in school I was the kid studying the Field and Stream magazine carefully hidden in my math folder, heck you don’t have to know algebra to count fish!~
At BlackOps Fishing our prime goal is to teach anglers that there are fish to be caught all year round.
The 3rd Saturday in April is the traditional “opening day” of fishing season but that applies to trout stocked lakes ponds and streams and even some stocked trout waters known as TMA’s, Trout Management Areas, are open year round on a catch and release basis but other than Trout stocked waters most fishing in CT is open year round.
This year I already have well over 60 fishing trips and “opening day” is still a week away. My point here is many people think you start fishing on opening day and the truth is you never have to stop fishing! I get asked ” Hey Al, you ready for opening day”. And receive a look of shock when I reply that I’m already fishing!
As soon as the ice is too thin to support my weight, I switch to open water fishing,
this year we have been targeting Bass, both Large and Smallmouth with great success!
Water tempetures are usually around 39 degrees soon after ice out and bass are still in their winter modes at this time I find vertical jigging with a Blade Bait likre the
Heddon Sonar Flash pictured below, a great way to catch schooling bass.
Bass will still be lethargic but can be caught in good numbers by marking schools and vertical jigging with Blade Baits.
As soon as the water temperateness rise to the low 40’s Bass are starting to think about spawning and are beginning to go into their pre spawn modes, the smallmouth Bass action picks up first as they like to spawn after the water hits the 58 degree mark, while Largemouth Bass prefer water temps of 62 degree’s before they start to get busy.
As the water warms to the low 40’s my lure of choice is a jig tipped with a soft plastic offering. My favorite is a black and blue football jig with a black plastic creature and that’s what I would start fishing with for 15 minutes or so, if there are no takers then I play with color and size until I find a jig that works.
Big pre spawn bass can be caught on jigs worked very slowly in areas where deeper waters transition to spawning waters which are normally 3-6 feet deep and not usually more that 15 feet from shore, Bass will lurk in these deeper areas and begin to feed more heavily as they enter their Pre Spawn patterns.
Bass instinctively know they need to fatten up because they won’t be actively feeding during the spawn. That’s what makes pre spawn Bass fishing one of the best times to catch Bass!
The Hitman shows off a Big Pre Spawn Bass that fell for a slow rolled Mepps inline spinner, water temp was 51.4 she was in 3 feet of water.
When the water temp hits 47 degrees I add Spinner baits, lipless cranks and inline spinners to the arsenal.
These lures will produce very well during the pre spawn period and allow you to cover more water, then the Blade baits and jigs.
I work these lures very slow at fist, slow rolling the spinner bait or my favorite a big Pike size Mepps inline spinner, as temps increase and Pre spawn bass become more aggressive, I will speed up my retrieves.
50 degrees!!! Is when pre spawn bass become quite active, venturing from deep to shallow, scoping out their spawning areas and feeding much more aggressively, this is a great time to hook up with a Lunker!
Some fisherman just wont change their methods with the times, I have a friend that is a very good fisherman but he remains stuck in the 1980’s he continues to fish the same way he always has, how much experience can an angler gain doing the same things over and over?
I have always changed with the times, often innovating new ideas and approaches of my own. I try to learn something new on each fishing adventure.
This blog post will pertain to more advanced Ice fishing equipment and methods, they change rapidly in today’s world of modern electronics.
Here is an example: I purchased the Humminbird Ice 55 sonar, just last season and it was one of the best sonars on the market, Humminbird now has more advanced units, like the 597 ci hd that includes sonar, gps and more options then previous year models. A unit like the 597 can put an ice fishing angler on a previous location using gps system! This is a huge breakthrough for ice fisherman. Imagine knowing you are sitting exactly on top of a brush pile or log crib designed to attract fish!
Another example would be Ice fishing Augers, I own one of the best Ice fishing Augers on the market but now I’m drooling over the new Ion Electric Ice Fishing Auger, electric Ice Fishing Augers will be the Ice Fishing Augers of the future!
Lets go ice fishing with a Sonar unit for checking depths and finding fish.
Using a Sonar to set up your ice fishing tip-ups.
When using a Sonar unit to set depths on your ice fishing tip-ups, you will get a much more accurate setting and the confidence that your bait is exactly where you want it in the water column.
When you use your sonar for ice fishing, remember to adjust the sensitivity on each trip, this is very important, modern sonar units will allow you to view your bait as it descends, you you should pick up a signal from the bait, split shot and barrel swivel, if you do not, you need to adjust the sensitivity on your sonar unit, water clarity also plays a roll in properly adjusting your sonar.
Setting your tip-up’s with a sonar will assure you are fishing at an exact location and depth.
If your an avid angler in colder climates ice fishing is an ideal and productive way to extend your fishing season. An Ice fishing trip can make a great family outing and create memories that will last a life time.
Ice fishing can be simple and inexpensive or you can invest thousands in tackle and electronics just like open water fishing.
In the next few blogs I will share some of my 40 years of ice fishing experience with you.
An old rule of thumb is 4 inches of ice will safely support an angler and gear but never consider ice to be totally safe, there can be weak areas in the ice caused by many different reasons, like an underwater spring feeding the body of water or a snow covering insulating and hiding a weak spot in the ice, you should always be ready for a potential plunge through the ice but if it’s reasonably thick and strong ice you wont have to spend your day worrying just be prepared with the proper safety equipment.
A charged cell phone in a water proof case, Ice pics (on your shoulders, ready to use), rope with a float attached, life vest, whistle or horn, cleats( for your boots), dry clothes in your vehicle, flashlight, also tell your family or friends where you intend to fish and when you intend to return. I also carry extra ice pics ropes and a flare gun in my emergency kit, you never know if you may have to rescue a person in distress.
Where to fish:
One way for a newbie to find good ice is to go out and scout for a body of frozen water with ice fisherman already enjoying their sport.
Another way would be to ask your local bait and tackle shop for suggestions.
What can you expect to catch? Any fish you catch in open water can be caught through the ice but like open water fishing you need to use the appropriate gear and bait selections if you seek a particular species of fish.
There are two basic ice fishing methods
jigging or the use of tip-ups also known as traps or tilts.
The number of traps allowed per ice fishing angler varies from state to state
Check your states guidelines and laws pertaining to ice fishing rules, baits and allowed methods.
Always put your name address and phone number on your tip-ups.
Bait: both artificial and live bait can be used when ice fishing just like open water fishing.
That being said, lets go Ice Fishing!
Old school tip-up fishing gear:
You need a tip-up loaded with ice fishing line, or several if you have them, (6 per ice fisherman is the law in Connecticut), (this article will pertain to stick style tip-ups, I will talk about tip-up styles in a advanced ice fishing article), A method of chopping a hole through the ice, a depth sounding weight, barrel swivels, leader line , hooks, bait and safety equipment
A quick scouting mission at the lake can help you find a good spot to start ice fishing.
Look for other ice fishing anglers, they may have experience on the body of water you have chosen to ice fish on.
If there are no ice fisherman around check for old ice fishing holes, look for an area with signs of many old holes a clean ice fishing hole may be a sign that an ice fisherman had no luck in that particular spot. A hole littered with weeds, blood spots, bait pieces or just a lot of footprints, could mean that an ice fishing angler had success at that particular hole.
Assuming you have loaded your tip-ups spool with sufficient backing 50 to 100 yards of Dacron line followed by a barrel swivel and a 36 ” leader of fluorocarbon or mono your split shot and a hook about 10 inches below, you’re ready to fish.
remember this is just a basic ice fishing guide for a beginner I will get into more complex ice fishing methods in the next few blog posts.
A good depth to start ice fishing would be about 8-16 feet of water , this should be a good depth for a beginner to see some action, we will be trying to catch pan-fish bass, trout (if they are present) and Pickerel which are very active feeders during the winter and easily caught on a tip-up baited with a minnow, if those depths do not exist at your chosen spot,( some good ice fishing lakes are very shallow) you will have to adjust your depth settings accordingly
Secure your depth sounding weight to your hook and allow it to sink to the bottom.
Now that you have found bottom you need to mark that spot on your main ice fishing line, many ice fishing anglers use a shirt button threaded on their main ice fishing line before attaching their barrel swivel and leader line.
The idea here is too get your minnow swim about three feet off the bottom, a good starting point for a new ice fisherman fishing without modern electronic depth finders , flashers and GPS systems.
Not to worry, I caught hundreds of fish through the ice before I had the luxury of electronics by doing exactly what I am teaching you now.
Use the button or hold the marked spot on the main line between your fingers and slide your fingers 3 feet down the line towards your barrel swivel, now determine the length that your tip-up extends through the ice when set up, usually around 8 inches and raise your main line that much higher thus assuring you are about 3 feet off the bottom.
Remove your depth sounding weight from the hook and attach a minnow by carefully penetrating the the bait-fish through it’s back, (there are several way’s to hook a shiner or minnow for ice fishing but through the back is a good method for a new ice fishing angler to start.
Deploy your shiner to it’s position ( approximately 3 feet off of the bottom) and carefully set your tip-up’s flag and place it in the over the hole.
Repeat this process with the rest of your tip-ups setting your minnows at some different depth levels if you like, after about 1/2 hour without a flag,
you should consider resetting the depth or moving that tip-up to a new hole.
The Chatterbait is one of the countries top selling Bass baits, It was invented around 2003 and in it’s early days it could be found on Ebay for 50 bucks a pop until it hit the store shelves in 2005, a Bass angler named Bryan Thrift got hold of these early baits and started winning some major tournaments He caught most of his fish with a ChatterBait. Other anglers got a look at what he was using and the Chatterbait craze began.
What makes a Chatterbait such a great Bass catching lure? Well first of all it’s new! I’ve been fishing long enough to see this happen with several lures, Bass are all over them at first and once they become educated to that bait the fishing slows a bit, this could take years but it does happen, find a lake where that bait has not been introduced and you may have a very successful Bass fishing trip as a result!
Some anglers call the Chatterbait the “new Spinnerbait” It actually is simular to a Spinnerbait, they are both essentially jigs, the spinnerbait a jig on a wire with various blades attached and the ChatterBait a jig with a metal lip blade, designed to rattle and make the chatter sound.
They both wear skirts and they are both very versatile lures. They each have a place in my tackle bag but the Chatterbait is the one we are talking about in this article and the bait I have been experimenting with lately.
The Chatterbait is a fun lure to fish with you can fish it very slow or quite fast, when you reel in you will feel the chattering of the blade and you will instantly know your bait is swimming properly, if it picks up weeds the chatter action will stop. It’s not weedless but performs surprisingly well in weedy areas.
I caught bass with the Chatterbait right off the bat, I tried various retrieves and caught a few bass, since many strikes come on the initial fall of the bait, I find that making the Chatterbait repeat the dropping motion by lifting and lowering your rod on the retrieve is one method that works well.
You can work a Chatterbait with a super slow retrieve to entice inactive bass , or just cast and retrieve your Chatterbait as you would with a crankbait varying the speed of your retrieve to fish at different depths. Over all the Chatterbait is an easy to use bait, that is extremely effective for large and smallmouth Bass!
CT Fishing Report July 14,2012 presented by BlackOpsFishing.com Downloadable PDFDelivering the most up-to-date, hottest and precise fishing reports on the planet! At this point all reports are relative to the CT area but we will soon be covering many more areas. Please subscribe to our blog and youtube channel, we at BlackOps Fishing truely appreciate your support. The first 100 subscribers will be entered in a contest to win a BlackOps Hoodie! Also becoming part of the BlackOps Mafia will improve your fishing skills and knowledge and it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE! And Y’all RememberNow.. help keep CT waters clean by taking out what you bring in plus one piece of garbage and PLEASE practice safe catch and release fishing!!
Here is the audio / video CT Fishing Report For July 14, 2012…Enjoy : )
“What is this crazy thing?” Kyle thought he had another catfish on the river bank but a closer inspection made him
jump back and call for Shawn to help him with this prehistoric looking fish Shawn had never seen one in the flesh but was convinced he was looking at a Bowfin, I had just told him there was an upsurge of Bowfin in the Connecticut River a few days prior to their catch. They quickly snapped a picture on a cell phone and sent it to me for confirmation.
This scenario is happening up and down the Connecticut River! Connecticut Outfitters in Wethersfeld can attest to this, they have had numerous customers come into the shop with a picture or description of a Bowfin wondering what they had caught!
“The bowfin is a primitive type fish and the sole representative of an ancient fish family dating from the Jurassic period, appx. 180 million years ago. Other names — grinnel, brindle, blackfish, spot tail, mudfish, dogfish, shoepike, cypress bass, cypress trout, choupique, scaly cat, buglemouth bass, German bass, brindlefish.”
“Body color of the bowfin is dark olive above with lighter sides and cream-colored belly. The long dorsal fin is dark green with a narrow longitudinal olive-colored band near the top margin and another near the base. The males have a dark spot on the caudal fin, bordered with yellow or orange. Lower fins are green, vivid as fresh paint, during the breeding season. There are 66 to 68 scales in the lateral line. The dorsal fin contains 47 to 5l soft rays and the anal fin 9 or l0 rays. The head is more or less flattened on top and the mouth is large. The teeth are sharp and strongly set in the jaws. Weights of 6 to 8 pounds or more are commonly attained. The swim bladder serves as a lung, giving the bowfin air breathing capability”.
Bowfin are well known for their incredible strength and fearlessness and a tackle busting fight that will get an anglers adrenalin rushing!
How to catch a Bowfin
Your rod and reel: I have caught many Bowfin while bass fishing with a typical bass fishing rod and reel although folks who actually target the Bowfin will often use stronger tackle with lines rating up to 40 lb. test and stronger hooks on their lures or bait
Yes, Bowfin will strike lures with a vengeance!
- A Bowfins diet is very similar to that of the bass, loving crayfish, live fish, shrimp, insect larvae, frogs and more and they have an incredible appetite and are very capable predators changing their diet from insects to live fish when they reach an approximate size of only 4 inches .
When using fresh cut bait nothing beats a nice chunk of fresh eel! That is what Kyle caught his Bowfin on.
- To locate a spot that would be an ideal habitat for Bowfin, look for lakes or slow moving rivers with underwater vegetation, rocky areas, undercut banks and other structure.
Although some folks eat the Bowfin and claim it is good table fare, they contain up to 5 times the mercury levels of any fresh water fish so I’m not an advocate of eating Bowfin.
Right now is the best time to catch Bowfin they love warm water and can thrive in many water conditions, including low oxygen and polluted waters since they have an air bladder that operates much like a lung allowing them to breathe air and live out of water for extended periods of time.
The most productive method would be cut bait fished in the Connecticut River in one of the coves or bends from Middletown north up the Ct River, Keeney Cove in Glastonbury is one very good location. Your rig will be a simple hook and sinker set up as you would for Cat fish or other bottom fish.
The Bowfin is said to fight better than many well known game fish and they are very colorful and beautiful fish, so why not target the Bowfin on your next fishing adventure.
BlackOpsfishing.com presents the weekly fishing report with Downloadable PDF
Delivering the most up-to-date, hottest and precise fishing reports on the planet! At this point all reports are relative to the CT area but we will soon be covering many more areas. Please subscribe to our blog and youtube channel, we at BlackOps truely appreciate your support. The first 100 subscribers will be entered in a contest to win a BlackOps Hoodie! Also becoming part of the BlackOps Mafia will improve your fishing skills and knowledge and it”>ABSOLUTELY FREE!
Here is the 3rd Ever Audio and Video Ct Fishing Report for April 20,2012….Enjoy