Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What a Vexilar is showing us

Recently I was asked to do a seminar on using Vexilar Electronics while ice fishing.  I have had the opportunity the past few years to do several of these, and interact with hundreds of people.  While conversing with all these avid ice anglers, one of the most interesting things people comment about or are glad to hear about is the explanation of the different colors of lines.  

Below you will see the graphic that helps people understand what the Vexilar is showing us.  The concept is easy, the green line is further away from the center of the transducer, the yellow is a little closer to the center, and red is directly below the transducer.  These simple facts are basic and are known by almost all ice anglers using a Vexilar, we all want to see red!  

We all can take our fishing to the level by understanding what the Vexilar is telling us though.  Not only do the colors tell us how far away from the middle they are, but it tells us the depth too.  As seen in the illustration below, all the crappies are at the 7.5 foot level under the ice.  However the Vexilar is telling us that one is at 7.5 feet, one is a little past 8 foot, and the last is well over the 8.5 foot mark.  The crappies are not stacked on top of one another as the Vexilar suggests.  Remember, a sonar works by sending a signal through the water column and bounces back up when it hits something.  The "green" crappie is further away from the transducer, so the signal travels just over 8.5 feet and then bounces back which reads that distance and marks it on the Vexilar.  So, we have to train our minds that the green and yellow marks are ALWAYS above where they are actually showing on the flasher, because those fish are away from the center of the transducer, thus the distance of the sonar signal travels farther to go the same 7.5 foot distance.  

I hope I have recreated a part of my recent seminar so that you can understand what your Vexilar is telling you, and so you can keep your bait above your "true" targets!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend crappie-time

The catch cleaned and ready for
the landowner's next family meal.
Once again the ice on larger lakes here in Central Iowa is just not ready.  So that left my buddies and I to head to some local farm ponds.  The smaller, more protected bodies of water will always freeze up more quickly.  Pond #1 held bass and bluegills for the taking, however their mood and location was a tough one to figure out.  David, Brian, Jacy and I managed about a dozen gills and moved on to pond #2.  

This pond is one I try to fish a couple times a year, it has bass, gills and crappies.  Jacy and I went into search mode with the K-Drill and Vexilar FLX-28.  Like in the past we found roaming fish in the deep basin of the pond.  We set up, shed our coats and had a wonderful time picking off the roaming fish.  Every single fish we caught was suspended making the Vexilar a key piece of equipment.  This pond provided the best quality of fish I have caught in this young ice season.  With the recent warm-up I'm not sure how the ice will hold up in this part of the state...with any luck it turn cold very soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Electric ice augers

Very lightweight when walking to your
ice fishing destination.
Ever since I started ice fishing back in middle school, there were two types of augers, hand and gas powered ice augers.  Nothing changed for about 20 years.  Over the past few years companies have introduced two new types of augers, electric and propane.

I have used many different types of electric augers and the Jiffy propane auger in the past couple years.  I don't have a comparison to the propane auger, but this winter I have been using an electric auger every time out.  The K-Drill has out performed and lived up to every expectation.

Why choose an electric auger when I already have a gas auger?  I know that is what many of you thinking right now.  The list of advantages of electric augers include: no gas mix, lightweight, small, easy to move place to place, and it is renewable energy.  The only real draw back of electric augers is that if you are planning on drilling a lot of holes through thick ice then your batteries may run out.  The ice hasn't been real thick, so I haven't had this problem yet.

Here is my grade report for the K-Drill auger attachment:
Lightweight: A+ (auger flutes are made of plastic composites)
Ease of usage: A
Battery/Cutting Life: A-   (using an 18 volt 4.0 AH)
Size: comes in 6 and 8 inch

This drill attachment is a home-run.  I have noticed that by keeping the battery off the drill and in a coat pocket does increase the life.  Recently I gave it a tough day on the ice. The battery lasted for almost 80 holes, which were about 5-6 inches thick.  Roughly put, it drilled about 35 feet of ice over a 3-hour period.

Here it is in action:

Please contact me via email with any questions you may have! Or if you live in Centrial Iowa hopefully you will be able to see it in action.
email-  treedbass@yahoo.com

More information at www.icefishingtoday.com

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hank's Bait and Tackle Ice Fishing Seminar

Tommy Skarlis
The people who took part in this event for 2014 were not disappointed.  This annual event is held around December 1st of each year.  Like last year, Vexilar sent me up to Hank's Bait and Tackle to help with in-store sales and to provide a seminar about Vexilar products.  Each year this event, and it is truly an event, with food, drinks, all-day long seminar speakers, fully assembled ice shacks and more ice fishing tackle than one can imagine overachieves the year before.  I am not sure if it can get much bigger in 2015, but Mike at Hank's Bait and Tackle will most likely make it bigger and better if that is even possible.  The seminar speakers that attended this year included; Tommy Skarlis, Scott Reed, Tom Gruenwald, Adam Audette, Dan Johnston, Brian "Bro" Brosdahl, and myself.  I am honored to be a part of this group, and each seminar left its audience with a vast amount of new ice fishing knowledge.

If you have never been to Hank's Bait and Tackle in Waterloo, Iowa, make it a point to do very soon.  You will simply be amazed at the selection and the knowledgeable sales people they have.  Also, if they don't have it, they will get for you.  It's pretty amazing to have a shop like this in Iowa.
Brian BRO had all his tools of ice fishing on display throughout the entire day

I was able to sneak in and listen to brief moments of different seminars.  Each speaker was able to use their time to inform ice anglers of current trends in the latest ice fishing equipment, bait rigs and a glimpse into how angler should think while pursuing fish on the ice.  Each time a seminar concluded the mob of people would come out of the seminar room and be buzzing with the new information they hear about.  People were soaking in the knowledge being shared and that is what this great annual event has come to be.  A big applause goes out the guys at Hank's Bait and Tackle, especially the mastermind behind it all, Mike Everett.  If you missed out this year, stop in to see the huge selection for ice fishing, and make it point to attend in 2015.

Myself, helping out at the Vexilar section of Hank's

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Third time in November

Cold...warm...cold...warm...cold!  Mother Nature just couldn't make up her mind in November, and on the last day of November, the wind chill was below zero, go figure.  There is really only one thing to do when the weather is like that, go ice fishing.  Actually I wasn't too sure any fishing was going to take place today after the warming weather we had earlier in the week and temperatures near 50 yesterday.  However, there is only one way to know exactly how thick the ice is...go out and check it.  None of the local, larger lakes are even close to being ready for ice fishing, so I obtained permission to look over two different farm ponds south of town.

I wasn't expecting much, but found good ice at both ponds.  The ice is still very inconsistent, we saw 2-inches of ice all the way up to almost 6-inches of ice.  Crappies, bass and mostly bluegills were found today.  The bluegills were actively roaming the deeper basin of the second pond and feeding heavily.  The Vexilar FLX-28's were lit up most of the time with schools of bluegills roaming through the area.  Most fish were suspended about 3-4 feet of the bottom, so picking them off with the Vexilar made things pretty easy today.  The gills did prefer a white colored jig, and any color plastic or waxworm would work.  The key on this pond today was getting into the deepest water where the gills were feeding.

Hopefully the cold weather forecast for the week is correct and some larger lakes will ice up this week, if not some more ponds might be the place once again next weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quick trip before the rain

A look at how the first pond appeared.
After "icing" a few fish on Wednesday, I was so eager to get out Saturday morning and check a few area ponds.  The temperatures were on the rise, reaching into the 50's with light rain, however Sunday was even worse with more rain and temperatures in the 50's all day long.  I know the current ice that has formed on a few small ponds is no doubt turning to water as I type.  Mother Nature can be cruel...this just proves it once again.
Saturday morning was an opening in the weather though, so Don, Jacy and I headed out to try a couple small ponds that we had permission for.  The first pond we got to didn't look good at all, I really didn't want to go out on it to test it.  However, the adrenaline kicked in, and out I went.  I found 4-6 inches
This is a view I never get tired of.
of crystal clear ice, I could hardly believe it.  I gladly shouted out, "let's catch some fish!"  We all managed to catch a few fish at the first pond, all bluegills and some real solid ones too, reaching toward the 9-inch mark.  There is no real structure in this pond, so we just waited the fish out until they cruised by our baits and gave us a chance to catch them.  Days like this made us all glad that we had our VEXILARS with us to show us the deepest roaming areas, and when the fish were below us.  A few hours passed and we all decided to head out.  Don called it a day early, however Jacy and I forged on to the next pond, hoping to see good ice, which would hopefully lead to catching some more fish.
Good ice was found once again, averaging about 4-5 inches thick.  So a fishing we went.  At this pond, the bluegills seemed more active, we caught numerous gills in the couple hours we there, a couple small bass and even saw a huge catfish up at the hole several times...however it never made it on top of the ice...after a lengthy battle the line broke.
All in all it was great morning, November 22nd and we were ice fishing in Marshall County...I have never done that in the past 15 years.  However, I type this as the rain has been eating the ice away pretty much all day here in Marshall County.  What will the ice look like a few days...it is really hard to say, but I do know that temperatures right now are around the freezing mark and are supposed to stay that way for the next several days, so there is hope. Be safe out there everyone, and enjoy this early winter.

A typical 8+ inch pond bluegill

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

FIRST ice of the Winter

Rope, flotation device, and ice picks 
are necessary this time of year.
The only nice thing about this arctic blast of cold weather is that the lakes/ponds are starting to freeze at record rates.  I have lived in Central Iowa for 15 winters, this is by far, by a couple of weeks the earliest I have ever "walked on water".   FACT: I was catching bass out of my boat just 10 days ago!

 I have been monitoring an urban pond, and tonight was the night to take that first step.  The first step led to a few more, and then plenty of test holes.  The ice varied A LOT, form about 2 inches all the way up to 4 inches.  This is no doubt because of some recent snow we received this past weekend.  Snow on top of ice actually slows down the process of freezing the lake water.  Either way, with all the proper safety gear in hand we made our way onto the ice and ended up with a dozen or so fish in about an hour.  It was sooooooo nice to see the RED lines on the VEXILAR, and then feeling that bite!  A very successful and much anticipated trip on the ice.  I hope this weekend finds me on the ice for some more November ice fishing action!

    The fish fish through the ice!                           David with a "double-digit" Crappie