Going Fishin'

Going Fishin'
Red Sunset

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tide Has Turned

The exceptionally cold, wet spring in Western Pennsylvania continues with high, muddy water everywhere.  Most depressing for someone like me who has been looking forward to the warm, sunny days of spring all winter long.  Fortunately, I had opportunities to fish outside Pennsylvania in March and April - but even then those accursed spring cold fronts preceded my arrival.

I caught crappies on Lake Eufaula with Todd Huckabee while testing new Yum crappie baits.  And I caught my first smallmouth of 2011 on Tennessee's Center Hill with Jim Duckworth as he demonstrated a Bandit crankbait pattern.  And I spent a cold night in Arkansas with Mitch Looper chasing double digit pre-spawn largemouth.  But I really longed to return home for the early Erie smallmouth fishing.

Finally, after a couple false starts on Presque Isle Bay of Lake Erie, I had a most exciting day of fishing with my wife Marilyn on April 30.  It took us about 45 minutes to locate a mid bay hump with a group of smallmouth hanging at the inside break.  Marilyn scored first with a Hopkins jigging spoon.

After that first fish, however, it only took 15 minutes to catch a smallmouth on each of our 10 pre-rigged rods.  Our early season PIB challenge is not to use a bait that has caught a smallmouth until every pre-rigged bait has produced a fish; it keeps us from settling into using the same old lures all the time.  So, in addition to the jigging spoon, we quickly caught bass on a Galida Grub; Kalin Lunker Grub; Marabou Pro 2.0 Road Runner; Rollin' Runner with Baby Shad; Northland Bug-A-Boo Jig, Storm WildEye Swim Shad; Silver Lucky Blade Bait; Poor Boy's Tube; and a Mann's Sting Ray Grub!  All lures were slow-rolled or deadsticked on the bottom.

With the green light to fish anything, it was tubes and grubs that produced the majority of our fish.  We landed 20-some smallmouth (missing a good number of strikes) that include six bass in the 5 to 5.5 pound range.  But our best accomplishment was a pair of 20-inch 6-pound smallmouth (weighed on digital scales).  This was the first time in nearly 40 years of fishing together that Marilyn and I each caught a six-pound smallmouth on the same day!

We are now energized for the rest of the fishing season! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rx For Late Winter Blues

This has been a particularly long and difficult winter in Northwest Pennsylvania.  So when Bruce Holt of G.Loomis invited me on a trip to Dream Lake Lodge in Alabama to test their new NRX bass rods this past week, I eagerly accepted.

Not only was I motivated to get out of the cold, wet, miserable Pennsylvania weather for a chance at double digit bass, but I was equally excited to try out G.Loomis' NRX rods that are all the talk in the tackle industry.  Even though NRX won Best of Show at ICAST, at almost $500 per rod, one has to wonder if a single rod is really worth it.  Besides, how could G.Loomis improve on the sensitivity of their GLX rods?

"Using new nano resin technology, we built a stronger rod with less material, resulting in blanks that are 15% lighter and 20% stronger than anything on the market." explains Bruce.  "And I want to stress this point: there is no change in our warranty.  NRX rods are covered by the long-standing G.Loomis Limited Lifetime Warranty."

"But are NRX rods more sensitive than GLX?" I ask.

"Fish the rod and see for yourself," replies Bruce.

My test rod - a NRX 7'1" 3-power casting rod - is as light as a feather.  Light weight is immensely important to me due to a lingering bout of tendinitis.  Two days of casting the rod with a Shimano Core Reel mounted on it did not impact my mildly inflamed elbow - thank goodness!

Fishing was unusually tough on both of the lodge's lakes due to a severe spring cold front, but we still managed to hook numbers of 2- to 6-pound bass.  The extremely light bites received on worms and jigs would have gone undetected with an ordinary rod.

While the really big fish were uncooperative, the chance to simply catch largemouth on the NRX rod was just what the doctor ordered.  My hot baits were the Gene Larew Salt Flick'r Worm; Yum 5-inch Dinger and Tabu jig with Berkley HAVOC trailer.  Bruce scored with a Strike King duo - a 3.5" Shadalicious Swimbait and VanDam Square Bill Crankbait.

Hospitality at Dream Lake Lodge was Five Star, and the home cooked meals were simply out of this world.  Next year when the northern winter wanes and spring lags behind, I know exactly what to prescribe: a trip to Dream Lake (http://www.dreamlakelodge.com/).  But don't wait until then to check out the NRX bass rods (http://www.gloomis.com/) - you'll want one for this fishing season.  And yes, if you are a serious angler, NRX rods are worth the price! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Ode to Endless Winter"

Fresh snow, deep snow
Wet snow, powder snow
Dirty snow, yellow snow
But never "no" snow

Snow blowers and snow plows
Snow shovels and snow piles
Slippery roads, salt, grit
Blowing snow and snow drift

Short day and long night
Lead to lack of sunlight
Vitamin D deprived
How do we survive?

Outrageous heating bills
Force supplement thrills
Use wood stove beater
Or kerosene heater

Wear a hat we are told
Or risk nasty head cold
Nasal drip, drip, drip
Lead to a doctor's trip

Artic Express forebode
Layered clothes overload
Thinsulate, polar fleece
Toe warmers for our feet

Nothing to do but ice fish
So safe thickness we wish
Hoping for solid clear blue
But crusty white often will do

Oh winter be gone
Open water we long
Desiring more on our line
Than these tiny perch we malign

Darl Black
February 2011