Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tackle Box Tip: Moisture Control

     I ran across this tip over the weekend while I was talking to a buddy of mine from high school. We were talking about tackle storage and I mentioned that after a choppy or rainy day I usually have to sit all my Plano boxes in the garage with the lids open for a couple of days to dry everything out. 

     What he suggested was so simple and so genius at the same time. He said that every time he buys a products that has a silica gel packet in it to keep the product dry he saves them and throws them in his Plano tackle storage boxes. Some of you probably do this already but I couldn't believe that I haven't thought of this before. It makes so much sense. Cutting down on the moisture and humidity in my storage boxes will definitely increase the life span of many of my lures and other tackle that can be damaged from corrosion. I love re-purposing things, especially when it come to my fishing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mercury Rising: An Environmental Reality Check

I receive a TCU alumni magazine from time to time, and it contains information about current Hornedfrogs and how they are impacting the world. It usually has some pertinent information about sports on campus and how TCU is transitioning into the Big 12 conference.  There was a very interesting spread in the spring 2013 edition that I wanted to share with my kayak fishing brethren because it affects us all that are on the water, and I am proud of my fellow TCU alumni for making strides to protect the forest and waters that we love.

I am not going to quote the entire article, but I would like to share what I thought to be the highlights and a general outlook of the information contained in the article. I am also going to include a link to the full article at the bottom of the page so that you can read it in full.

TCU researchers and scientist set off to investigate mercury contamination levels in many Texas lakes. They started their massive undertaking in 2004 at a place where many of us have been and one of the most beautiful lakes in our state, Caddo Lake. What they have found so far is nerve rattling to say the least. Mercury contamination is some fish and invertebrates are at dangerous levels in a six state study area. Many of these bodies of water should have posted contamination warnings, but don’t. Lawmakers are not sufficiently informed about the high levels of contamination in the wildlife because mercury monitoring programs are nonexistent.  Matt Chumchal (class of 03) says, “Although the oil spill (referring to British Petroleum spill of 2010) was an environmental disaster, it is small compared to the current mercury problem in our region of the south central U.S. The area covered by high mercury contamination levels in fish is much larger than the oil spill. While the effects of the oil spill are diminishing, the mercury is not going away. It’s not only bigger in geographic scale, it will last a lot longer.”

Chumchal says that he chose Caddo Lake because of its diversity of aquatic species. He has been collecting fish from Caddo and shipping them back to TCU’s Aquatic Ecology Lab in Ft. Worth. Two years later , after testing more than 1,000 fish, they have identified many factors previously unknown including; species, size, and age determine how contaminated a fish is.

I found it interesting that they also studied many ponds in the grasslands near Ft. Worth and they discovered that these ponds do not contain fish but the massive amounts of insects in them are loaded with high mercury levels. These little ponds have very little water but the big concern is what happens when water in flooded into these small ponds? What kind of damage will this cause? The research looks not only at fish contamination levels but also the insects they eat and the potential risk to humans, birds, and other wildlife that thrive in these areas.

TCU biology professor Ray Drenner says, “This is the title of a talk I want to give: Mercury in the South Central U.S.: When are we going to wake up?” He says, “Seriously. The southern part of the U.S. has the highest biodiversity of fresh-water fish in the world, and some of the highest mercury levels in the country. We have wonderful fish resources that are so contaminated with mercury they pose a serious health risk to humans and wildlife. We need to do whatever we can to identify the sources of this mercury to protect these irreplaceable resources. That’s why we do what we do.” 

                             Click here for full article:

Monday, May 13, 2013

B.L.T. & Top of the Line from Optimum

     Two lures from Optimum Baits have given me a fresh new tactic in bass fishing. These products are their B.L.T. (Baby line thru) and the T.O.L. (Top of the Line). I think both baits are very unique and creative in a way that allows the angler to fish them in a variety of different ways, and they both carry very unique qualities that are very specific to these two baits. I have been using the BLT for about a year now, and ever since I was introduced to the TOL I pretty much have one or the other tied on at all times.  

     The BLT, as you can see from the diagram, has a unique hook and line system that allows for the line to be tied directly to the treble hook. You simply skin hook the treble into the belly of the bait and cast. This bait is meant for a faster retrieve but I have found that the action stays true with any speed and will trigger strikes. In the past, soft plastics for me only last a few fish before they are too torn up to stay on the hook. With the design of the BLT the bait will actually slide up the line after a strike and the hook will remain in the fishes mouth and your bait will be spared from damage. This along with the action during the retrieve is what most impresses me about this bait. I have three in my bag now and with the thru line design I can use them over and over again.

     The Top of the line swim bait from Optimum Baits is very similar to the BLT with only a few differences. As you can see from the picture above the treble hook is located on the back of the bait instead of the belly. This allows me to fish this bait over heavy cover and thick grass without getting hung up. I also have the ability to let this bait sink to the bottom and work it without worrying about hang ups. I do not know of many other swim baits that allow the same. As with the BLT the bait will slide up the line when a strike occurs thus increasing the life of your bait.

     I love that I can carry both of these baits and fish any water that I come across. My one and only concern with these products are their life span in heat. I have had one split due to high heat when left in my truck, so consider this when storing them. Check them out at Optimum Baits and browse the impressive color selection and sizes of TOL and BLT swim baits.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

High Seat & PFD Review

     I was finally able to get out on the water and get a little fishing done, and I really wanted to test out my new Wilderness Systems AirPro  Elite Advanced Elevated Seat    and Stohlquist Fisherman PFD that I got from Mariner Sails.


     Before I even got on the water I had a few expectations about how this seat would perform. I expected it to me more comfortable than my previous one, and it definitely is. The subtle changes to adjustment straps, especially the hamstring support, are really well thought out. I also expected standing and sitting to be easier and again I wasn't disappointed. It was amazing how much of a difference 5" makes. I was able to stand straight up with using my hands as support, and I could sit back down without "plopping" back down in the seat. It was incredible to stand up and down so easily and quickly while sight fishing yesterday. One question that I had about this seat was if I was going to be able to sit side saddle in it. Side sitting was just as easy as my shorter seat which was a big bonus for me in the hot summer days. A small detail that is probably overlooked often, but I thought the was convenient, is the carrying handle. One aspect that I didn't expect was how much easier it was to turn around and get stuff out of my crate and rear tankwell. I was even able to reach over my crate and get the Powerade that I accidentally left back there. Another pleasant surprise was how much more effortlessly paddling seemed. I don't know for sure from a biomechanics standpoint if paddling from a higher angle is easier, but it sure felt that I had better leverage with my paddle. 

     I was really excited to use my new PFD because this is my first upgrade since I started kayak fishing. This PFD wa specifically designed for kayak fishing, and it shows. The first thing I noticed was how much range of motion I had in my shoulders for paddling and casting. It feels very non restrictive. The organization on this thing is well thought out and still open enough for customization. It has more features than my smartphone. I had almost as much fun "rigging" out my new PFD as do my kayak because of all the little ways that you can arrange gear to suit your fishing style. There are eight different adjustable straps for an almost custom fitting that allows for maximum comfort. It does feel a little bulky in the belly area but thats also where all your storage is at. The bulkiness is really a decent trade off considering how lightweight and free it feels everywhere else.

     If you paddle a Wilderness Systems Ride 115 or 135 I encourage you to find a way to demo this seat because I believe it will improve your time on the water. The Stohlquist Fisheman PFD is another great product to enhance your kayak fishing experience with organization and comfort. Both of these products exceeded my expectations and I look forward to getting them both back on the water.