Great Lakes Angler Blog

St Croix Intros 3 Models of Salmon Rods

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

PARK FALLS, WI – If you listen closely, you can actually hear the sound an inferior fishing rod makes under pressure.  Read Full Story

Frabill Bags Ice Gear

Friday, November 29, 2013

PLANO, IL  – So what’s the no-brainer this winter? Try Frabill hitting bait shop shelves with ice fishing specific tackle storage. When Plano, the masters of tackle storage solutions, took on the trusted leader in ice fishing gear, within mere weeks plans were hatched for the Frabill Softbag.  Read Full Story

That 70s Show On Ice

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CORALVILLE, IA  – What’s in a name? Everything. Just ponder all the products we use today whose names represent the category itself.  Read Full Story

New Snow Shoe Tip-Up Stays Atop Deep Snow

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PLANO, IL – Ice fishing in some snow-belt regions can get downright daunting. Thick snow blankets the hoarfrost, making hole to hole travel an adventure in itself, let alone finding the right fishing equipment to handle the knee-deep bog of white frozen fun.  Read Full Story

New Hooks Wicked Awesome on Cats

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CHAMBERSBURG, PA – Selecting and then baiting up with a circle hook carries with it a small measure of uncertainty. Will the fish engulf the entire bait? Will the hook find purchase and penetrate the fish’s jaw? When do I grab the rod and start reeling?  Read Full Story

Ice Fishing from a Boat

Friday, November 08, 2013

CROSSLAKE, MN – Just because your favorite lake has yet to freeze over doesn’t mean you can’t go ice fishing. No, we’re not talking about performing miracles, or walking on water like another ancient fisherman once did.


Rather, it’s all about the fact that as water temps move into the mid to low 40s, fish of many species are fairly settled in the same spots they’ll be once the surface seals the lake shut. Find ‘em first in a boat and you’ll be light years ahead of the pack once safe ice arrives, with fresh hungry fish awaiting lures below.



Last year, three top teams at the North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC) Championships hopped into boats a month before the December tournament and discovered some real gem fishing spots—places that eventually lead to monster crappies and winning weights. Anglers Shawn Bjonfald, Kevin Fassbind and Brandon Newbie travelled to Mille Lacs Lake in Central Minnesota on a cool fall day to literally search the water for hotspots.


The key, Bjonfald noted, was the use of GPS alongside Humminbird Side Imaging sonar, which made clean sweeps of large shallow flats. The anglers’ eventual quarry—palm-stretching crappies and sunfish—were known to haunt very specific patches of vegetation. But on Mille Lacs’ shallow southern bays, the best plant patches—including pondweed, elodea and coontail—only grew in small gardens. The choice greenery housed the biggest panfish, too, but was often surrounded by empty acres of clean sand substrate.


“Finding these spots with Side Imaging in a boat,” noted Bjonfald, “was infinitely more efficient than it would have been on ice. We searched hundreds of acres of featureless, fishless water before finally finding our best spots; can’t imagine how many holes we would have had to drill had we waited to start searching at first ice.”



For Bjonfald, Fassbind and Newbie, the strategy involved motoring slowly across expansive 10- to 15-foot flats in a parallel grid pattern, simultaneously inspecting 100 feet of real estate on both sides of their boat.  Bjonfald’s Side Imaging unit clearly uncovered not only the location of vegetation, but revealed the tallest pondweed stalks interspersed with little openings—perfect habitat for monster crappies and sunfish.


“Not only did the Humminbird reveal the best weed beds,” he said, “Side Imaging also let us zoom in and drop GPS waypoints on tiny pieces of turf—areas we returned to during the tournament to catch big panfish.” Bjonfald and his comrades noted that the coordinates were often so precise that literally just one hole was needed to position them directly over a sweet spot.


The teams also attributed their precision and eventual success to Aqua-Vu Micro underwater cameras. “In prefishing, anytime we saw something promising on screen, we would drop the camera optics and verify it—often spotting fish relating to specific plant stalks. When we returned to fish the Championship, the fish were still there.”


After the two-day competition, which hosted nearly 100 top-qualifying teams from across North America, the enterprising anglers had nearly made a clean sweep of the tournament, capturing 1st-, 3rd- and 4th-place finishes. Bjonfald took “big fish” honors with a trophy 2-pound crappie, eventually finishing 4th. Fassbind and partner Nick Smyers took 3rd, while Brandon Newbie and partner Ryan Wilson iced nearly 25 pounds of panfish to win the Championship by over 6 pounds. Newby and Wilson also won two other qualifying events in the 2012-13 NAIFC season, leading to a Team of the Year title.


Recently, Bjonfald and company were back afloat Mille Lacs. Once again, they searched the shallows for those elusive giant crappies and, perhaps, another successful showing at the upcoming 2103 NAIFC Championship, December 21 and 22.


Even though most of us won’t be fishing for anything more important than bragging rights among buddies, the same strategy of scouting for fish prior to the big freeze can make you a big winner. Wait for one of those nice, calm late November or early December days. Launch the boat and you’ll likely have the lake all to yourself— and set the stage for the best ice season you’ve ever had.


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MULL BLOG Baits that Talk to You

Monday, November 04, 2013

SUFFOLK, NY – Outdoor writers and editors get a lot of press releases in their email inboxes, and quite a few of them end up in the little cyber trashcan. But every once in awhile, one comes across the computer screen that trips the trigger, so to speak, showing some new item that just tells a guy it's going to work. This happened last week with a release from the EVOLVE Fishing Co., known for innovative soft plastics like the VibraGRUB, DarkStar Swimmer and KOMPAK Craw. The release announced its subsidiary, Soul5 Tackle Labs, is now shipping hardbaits and one in particular, the Flat Sider 75,  is easy to envision hanging out of a steelhead's mouth. 


Flat Sider 75s

The company calls the Flat Sider 75 "a hybrid lipless, lipless, flat-side, squarebill, and traditional shallow crank combined, drawing from the best, fish-catching characteristics of each." That's a little misleading. It's basically a thin, deep-bodied crankbait with an oyster-style bill, and it rattles. The video on the Evolve website shows it in action at different speeds. I'm pretty sure some of my steelhead addict buddies who like to troll into the current are going to have some ready to go in their winter fishing boats. The company also says the bill "maintains the rolling, swimming action seen in a standard round-bill, but flares out at a wide angle to capture some of the cover-deflecting qualities of a square bill." That will make it good for avoiding some river-bottom snags. The bait dives to four feet deep, which will make it great for low-water situations. I'm thinking some of the colors are going to be hot for offshore trolling for steelhead and early-spring trolling for cohos, too. Watch it in action here.

The company has some other new hardbaits, too, and they look like they'll find fans around the Great Lakes--especially the SoulJerk 115. It's kind of talking to me, too. Check out the SoulJerk in action here.

SoulJerk 115


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Iowegian Sees Mississippi Crappies Sideways

Thursday, October 24, 2013

EUFALA, AL – Fishing pro Tommy Skarlis is no stranger to seeing his name on the top of tournament leaderboards. But what stood out about the Waterloo, Iowa, native’s latest first place – along with partner Kyle Steifeldt during the recent 2013 Crappie Master National Championship on Mississippi’s Lake Grenada—was the species of fish the duo were targeting.  Read Full Story

Frabill Straight Line Tip Up Gets Rid of Coils

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

PLANO, IL – Fact: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Fact: Straight fishing line is more manageable and reveals strikes much better than a coiled tether. Fact: Frabill is progressive, almost prophetic in their forward-thinking tip-up program. Fact: Frabill has notched yet another victory for equipment evolution with the new Straight Line Tip-Up.  Read Full Story

EVOLVE Spreads Its Fins

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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