7.6 Miles North of Huroc Park there is also a Meijer which carries fishing tackle and some live bait
7.6 Miles North of Huroc Park there is also a Petsmart which carries crawlers, wax worms, mealworms and red wigglers
5.3 Miles south east of Huroc Park the people at Bottom Line Bait & Tackle can help with any bait and tackle you need whether you're chasing bass, steelhead or walleye.
Lake St. Clair: Heavy snow has covered pressure cracks and has made traveling on the ice more difficult because of the slush. Many anglers had a hard time getting around on quads. Anglers have reported seeing a lot of inactive fish.
For a more accurate report on Lake St. Clair I suggest reaching out to the people at Sportsmen's Direct as their weekly LSC fishing report is usually far more in depth. Phone: (586-741-6052)
Saginaw Bay: For those heading out, ice conditions have not improved much and new snowfall has covered areas of thin ice and soft spots making them harder to see and judge. Anglers need to be extremely cautious. A good rule of thumb is; if nobody is fishing in a particular area, there may be a good reason for it and maybe you shouldn't go there either! Many walleye anglers were going miles offshore but some have taken limit catches 1 to ½ miles out from Pinconning south to Linwood in 10 feet. The biggest share of activity was off Linwood in 17 to 20 feet. Catch rates were hit-or-miss with some getting limits while others did not do as well. Perch anglers were getting fish in 6 ½ to 7 feet off the end of Linwood Road. Quite a few anglers fishing 7 to 8 miles off the Bay City State Park were getting walleye. Anglers did well around Spoils Island off the mouth if the Saginaw River. The fish were suspended at 18 feet in 30 feet over the shipping channel and were hitting on smaller jigs and lures. On the south end of the bay, walleye anglers were going 7 miles out from Finn Road to fish in 20 feet however anyone that goes out from Finn Road needs to watch out for thin ice created by the Hot Pond discharge. Perch fishing finally picked up off Vanderbilt Park near Quanicassee in 8 feet but so many people descended on that area that apparently the fish left. Fishing should be better during the week when there's less pressure. Sunset Bay Marina had a lot of activity with walleye anglers fishing along the Bar which is about a mile west of the deepest part of the Slot. Ice conditions off Thomas Road are not good and anglers should avoid the area. Perch fishing was slow from Sebewaing to Bay Port. Not many anglers were out and the deep snow made the ice hard to judge. There was open water off the Sebewaing VFW and off Rose Island. > In Wildfowl Bay, some did really well on perch but most caught very few. The key seemed to be spending enough time on the ice and either sitting tight and letting the fish come to you or moving around a lot and finding some active fish. At Caseville, ice anglers hugging the south side of the pier caught a few lake trout and walleye. They also reported seeing whitefish but were not catching many. Port Austin had little activity with only a couple ice shanties out. Nearby Bait Shops Include: Franks Great Outdoors (989) 697-5341 GW's Fishing Lures (989) 684-6431 The Party Dock (989) 684-2150 West Marine (898) 667-2100 Michigan Sportsman Bait & Tackle (989) 893-6550 Live Bait(989)992-7770
Saginaw River: Fishing along the lower river was pretty good with lots of anglers around the U.S.S Edson and at the river mouth getting good numbers of walleye, but the snowstorms on Friday and Sunday stopped everything as anglers reported marking lots of fish but they would not bite. Good depths were 17 and 23 feet downstream of the Independence Bridge near the Edson, and in the channel in 28 feet at the mouth. Anglers are cautioned to be extra careful where they are walking; as an angler went through in a large fishing hole that was cut and abandoned without being marked near the Edson. There's been so much activity at some locations, the ice looks like Swiss cheese. At the upstream end of the river, there wasn't much activity off Wickes Park but the turn basin by Ojibway Island had a few anglers and many were scattered all the way from First Street to Bay City, but success was spotty and small fish dominated the catch. Watch for bad ice conditions around both sides of the Zilwaukee Bridge and around Crow Island.
Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
The inland lakes have ice and now slush because of all the snow. The bite was good in the evening just before dark for bluegill and crappie using wax worms and tear drops. The pike action was good for those using tip-ups or spearing.
St. Joseph River: Froze up during the cold spell but warmer temperatures this week should help to open it up. Anglers have caught steelhead during the warm ups.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Look for increased steelhead action with the warmer weather. Steelhead and walleye anglers can usually be found below the 6th Street Dam. Look for steelhead in the Rogue River as well.
Lake Lansing: The bite was slow but some bluegills and crappie were caught on wax worms. The better fishing was just off the bottom in about 10 feet in the early morning.
Jackson County: Those fishing the inland lakes reported fair to good panfish action.
Muskrat Lake: In Clinton County was producing some bluegills in 10 to 12 feet.
Gratiot County: Had reports that the ice in this area of the state was not safe.
Crystal Lake: In Montcalm County was producing bluegills and crappie. Those spearing have taken some pike.
Muskegon Lake: Perch anglers are getting fish near the black buoy and to the west of it in 30 to 45 feet. Fish were also caught out from the sand docks in 42 to 44 feet. While many were heading out further, those fishing about 50 yards offshore were taking a good number of fish. They are sorting out the small ones but those putting in the time have taken some limit catches of good size fish. Pike anglers were still taking a fair to good number of fish off Heritage Landing.
Muskegon River: Water levels were up some with the snow melt. Those seeking steelhead have caught some nice fish on flies and streamers.
Northeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Black Lake: Fishing slowed but some walleye were caught on minnows in 18 feet in the morning or at dusk. Many of the walleye were around 21 inches but some were undersize. Some 10 to 12 inch perch were caught on wigglers, spikes and minnows in 10 feet. A few 24 to 36 inch pike were speared or caught on tip-ups with large minnows. There were no reports of any musky caught.
Burt Lake: The better fishing for walleye and perch was in the morning or evening.
Mullett Lake: Fishing activity slowed but anglers were still getting some perch and a few walleye. A couple large pike were speared.
Higgins Lake: Ice fishing continues but anglers should still use caution near the inlets. The lake had 5 to 7 inches of snow on top. Pike spearing continues with some nice fish taken in 15 to 20 feet. The lake trout bite slowed. Perch anglers are getting some but were also doing a lot of sorting to get some keepers. Most of the action has been around the Main Island, Sunken Island and on the south end. Smelt anglers were still getting fish mainly at night in 40 to 60 feet. Nearby Bait & Tackle Shops: Higgins Lake Sport & Tackle: (989) 821-9517 Sports Barn: (989) 821-9511
Houghton Lake:Anglers are still advised to stay clear of the large pressure crack in the East Bay which runs from the canal on the west side of the East Bay and shoots northeast. Anglers can fish inside the East Bay but do not try to cross over into the main body of the lake. There is also a pressure crack at the entrance to the North Bay so use caution. Walleye anglers are seeing fish but the bite was slow. Orange and glow jigs tipped with a wax worm seemed to work best.
Tawas: Ice fishing was kind of spotty off Jerry's Marina and out near Tawas Point. A few perch were caught near the reef. Walleye and pike fishing were slow but a decent number of pike were speared.
Au Gres: Walleye and pike were caught on the northeast side of the breakwall. Off Booth Road near the tip of Pointe Au Gres, some walleye and lake trout were taken in 8 to 9 feet. Down in Wigwam Bay, anglers going out off the end of Hale Road caught walleye and perch to the south or southwest towards the mouth of the Pine River in 8 to 10 feet. The perch were running 7 to 10 inches with a few up to 12 inches. Be sure to watch for the active pressure crack out there!
Northwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Thumb Lake: In Charlevoix County was producing some perch. Anglers were catching splake but many were small.
Portage Lake: Lake herring fishing remains strong over the deeper water. Perch fishing was hit-or-miss. Most anglers were concentrated along the shallow sandbar off North Point and to the west.
Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Ice anglers are getting a few walleye. Panfish including crappie and perch have been caught on both lakes including the coves on Mitchell.
Manistee Lake: In Manistee County had a lot of anglers fishing out from Penny Park. Rumor has it they caught some nice pike on tip-ups or when spearing. Perch and crappie were also caught.
Big Manistee River: Steelhead fishing should pick up with the warmer weather especially up around Tippy Dam. The river was frozen in the lower end.
Pere Marquette River: Should also have some good steelhead action.
Keweenaw Bay: Smelt fishing was good at the head of the bay as well as out from the Baraga Marina after dark. The lake herring action was fair in 40 to 60 feet. Lake trout fishing was good out from the Whirl-I-Gig.
Little Bay De Noc: Catch rates slowed considerably and as a result angler participation was low. Walleye anglers reported very few catches even though they were marking fish. Anglers were as far south as the Ford River but no reports came in. Most of the walleye fishing was near the Escanaba River and south to Portage Point when jigging rapalas in 25 to 40 feet. Mixed catches of walleye and perch were reported off the Second and Third Reefs when using rapalas tipped with minnows or wigglers in 30 feet. Overall perch catches were down but some nice jumbo fish were caught. Many small perch were reported around Butler Island. Walleye were caught at the mouth of the Day's River but most were undersize. A few large northern pike were caught in the same area when using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 18 feet.
Munising: The ice was holding within the Bay. It is not recommended that anyone try to cross the channel especially from Sand Point due to unsafe ice and strong currents in the area. Ice anglers did fair to good for coho and whitefish and fair to good smelt action was reported off Sand Point. Coho were averaging 14 to 16 inches and whitefish up to 18 inches. Coho anglers were using jigging spoons such as Swedish Pimples and the smelt anglers were using Hali jigs. The splake action was slow and the majority of fish caught were undersize. Those burbot fishing at night have done well with fish up to 28 inches caught on cut bait or smelt.
Grand Marais: The harbor had fishable ice and anglers did well for Menominee. There is ice just beyond the bay but it was not safe at this time.
Cedarville and Hessel: Fishing was slow around the Les Cheneaux Islands once again. A few perch were taken on minnows, wigglers, wax worms and mousies in 15 feet. Many were around 9 inches with a few up to 12. Anglers are seeing smelt and splake but no fish were harvested.
The clouser minnow is one of the most famous flies in the world. Famous, not for its flash but because it simply catches fish. In fact Lefty Kreh has caught 86 species of fish on the clouser minnow and I'm making it a personal mission to catch and pass his species count.
The clouser minnow was created by Bob Clouser for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass. I believe that from the first time he used it the clouser minnow has been a hit with bass and fly fishermen alike. From personal experience I can to say it is the most productive smallmouth bass pattern I've ever used. In fact I've caught quite a few species on clouser including: bluegill, crappie, carp, largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass and striped bass.
What makes the clouser minnow so effective? The steamlined body and jigging action of the clouser minnow is what makes predator fish fall for the bait. The bucktail of the body is just stiff enough to give the bait subtle lifelike action just like a minnow or shiner. And the dumb bell eyes cause the fly to have the jigging or darting action that mimics fleeing bait fish so well. It's a combination of these to features that make any wary predator fish take a bite.
Clouser Fishing Quick Tips:
Make sure you're using a heavy enough rod to handle casting clousers. Since they are heavier flies due to the dumb bell eyes, using a lighter weight rod will not be able to load properly to cast the fly.
Keep your rod tip low when retrieving clouser minnows.
Clouser require an active strip, so accelerate and pause the stripping of fly line to give the clouser that fleeing action. What makes clousers so effective is that they never stop moving.
When fishing with clousers at night use darker colors like purple and black.
When tying clousers for striped bass fishing tie your clousers with sparse bucktail.
Fishing in shallow rocky streams or creeks use clousers in a brown and orange pattern to imitate crayfish.
Match The Hatch: Clousers are by far the most simple fly that matches a large variety of forage species. Why? Because they match all small bait fish with no problems. All you have to do is match up your bucktail colors to the forage species you're imitating.
What are the materials used to tie the Clouser Minnow: Hooks: I personally use the Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Billy Pate Saltwater Fly Hook L067S in sizes #6 to 2/0. However pretty much any streamer hook will work for clousers I just prefer the saltwater hooks as they are what I've always tied them on. But any similar hook will work. Thread: Danville Flat Wax 6/0 or 140 denier Body Fur: Bucktail, craft fur, flashabou & squirrel tail for extra small clousers Eyes: Bead chain eyes or Dumbbell eyes
Company Description: This is the lure that started a revolution and a new category in fishing lures. The Slug-Go is the original lure that created a generation known as Soft Stick baits. By having a slender profile and erratic darting action this lure broke the boundaries and was the first to expose the effectiveness of having action that was imparted to be random in movement and not repetitive as all other lures before its time.
It was originally developed to be a bass lure but soon anglers around the world found the effectiveness of this design to catch all game fish both fresh and salt.
From the smallest 3" version to the 12" large model there is a size to adapt to your angling. From drop shotting to fishing the sea.
Review: The slug-go is a bait that has had a spot in my tackle box since I was a kid. The first time I had seen the slug-go was on a saturday morning, when I was around 8 years old, watching Bill Dance Outdoors on tv. I remember being mesmerized by how many bass Bill Dance caught on this bait, as a result I had to have some. Especially since at that time largemouth bass were by far the hardest fish for me to catch and obviously these magic baits would catch buckets full.
So with my mind made up I ran to the room to get my mom and began my petition for her to purchase me a pack of sluggos. Well, it didn't take much convincing to get her to purchase me a pack but we'd soon find out that we had one problem, at that time sluggos were mail or phone order only. So my mom helped me place my order and a week later I was in my first package of sluggos.
That was almost 30 years ago and I've always kept at least one package of slug-gos in my tackle box sense. Why? Because they catch everything from bluegill to bluefish.
Sizes: 3 inch, 4 inch, 4.5 inch, 6 inch, 7.5 inch, 9 inch, and 12 inch
Colors: 61 colors available, both in standard weight and sinking slug-gos
Hooks: Worm hooks, Extra wide gap worm hooks
Jigs: Darter head jigs, walleye head jigs & bullet head jigs
Quick Tip: For 3 inch and 4 inch sluggos use small screw locks through the nose then hook the screw lock with a appropriately sized octopus hook. By nose hooking the smaller slug-gos you're gonna get the full action from the bait without inhibiting hook ups.
Price: $5.99 to $14.99 Quick Tip: When fishing below dams with heavy current for striper and hybrid striper. Use a popping cork set up with a white sluggo on a darter head jig to keep your bait suspended at the depth the fish are feeding at. Twitch your rod tip often and hang on for explosive bites.
Match the hatch: Below are just of couple of the forage species that slug-gos imitate in the water.
Channel catfish are one of the most widespread game fish species in the united states. Wide spread, game fighters and easily topping the 10 lbs, channel cats are the favorite of many fishermen and women. In fact they are the first large species I've introduced my family to. Needless to say they love catching big cats. Not just for the fun of it but also because how easy it is to find bait for them. A couple minutes digging in the dirt or a quick trip to the grocery store and we're all baited up and ready to go. For this reason I wanted to share my top five baits for channel catfish.
Possibly every child's first fishing experience includes the use of worms. Why wouldn't worms be a part of our childhood fishing memories? You can find them anywhere there is dirt and a simple stick used as a shovel will help you fill a container with enough bait to fish all day. Not only that but you can pretty much catch any kind of fish on a worm and channel catfish are no different.
When fishing for catfish with worms, size matters. Because worms produce a lot of by-catch you want to use as large a worm as possible when targeting catfish. If you don't have large night crawlers on hand you can simply thread multiple night crawlers on your hook in order to present a larger meal for catfish.
Use a slip sinker rig for deeper and faster moving waters in order to keep your bait along bottom. And in cases were the water your fishing is rocky or very snaggy use walleye floats to lift your hook above the snags. Also when fishing fast moving waters make sure you're using no roll sinkers which do a better job of holding your bait in one spot.
On the other hand in still water you can use either slip sinker rig or a slip bobber rig. When using this right you're gonna use split shot to get your bait just above the bottom where it'll avoid snags.
Next to worms chicken livers are probably the easiest bait to find. No, you can't dig them up in the backyard but what you can do is pick up a container of chicken livers in just about any grocery store in the country. At a price under $3.00 they are affordable for fishermen and women with even the most modest of budgets.
Due to their consistency, chicken livers are best baited on treble hooks or bait holder hooks. When using treble hooks just pack and wrap on as much chicken liver as you'd prefer. However in the case of using bait holder hooks there are two ways to rig up chicken livers effectively. The first way is to put the livers in the freezer for a short amount of time. The partially frozen livers will be firm enough to easily grab and thread on to your bait holder hooks. The other way is to wrap your chicken livers in spawn sacs and hook them that way. Using Spawn sacs is by far the best way to do it as the sacs will
hold chicken livers on the hook longer, even when there are smaller bait stealing fish around to peck at your livers.
Dip / Dough Baits
As a kid one of my grandmother's neighbors would always talk to me about his dip bait recipe that would catch every catfish around. When I was kid hearing this had me mesmerized with thoughts of catching huge catfish, larger than anything I'd ever seen. If you're like me you've heard of or know of someone who has they're own dip bait recipe that they swear by. It's for this reason that dip baits make my top baits list.
I'm sure there are countless recipes for dip baits that are just a google search away. However if you don't want to deal with the process of making your own, then powerbait makes a great version of catfish dip bait. Also if you're gonna fish with dip bait you wanna use a treble hook made specifically for it. There are many version of hooks made for dip bait, some with plastic casing and some with just a wire coil around the hook shank to hold the dip bait to the hook. Lastly if your're gonna use dip or dough baits in high currents use spawn sacs to keep pre-rolled dip baits attached to your hook. As well when fishing in snaggy areas simply adding a couple walleye floats to your line will lift your treble hooks out of the rocks yet still in the strike zone.
For me cut bait is a weapon of opportunity rather than a bait of quick choice. If I happen to catch the shad die off on time or if I have some by-catch like bluegill while I'm fishing then that's when I'll opt for cut bait. However just because I don't run to it as my bait of choice doesn't mean its not extremely effective. In fact I have a few friends whom will pretty much only use cut bait for large channel cats.
Due to its size cut bait is a great bait to use for weeding through smaller fish to get to the bigger fish waiting to be caught. For this reason I believe cut bait is not just effective for catching large channel catfish but blues and flat heads as well. With the size of the bait in mind you want to use hooks that can accommodate cut bait. For this reason I recommend bait holder or circle hooks sized #4 to #5/0. large circle hooks are more than able to hold large and small pieces of cut bait on with out the bait hindering your hookup ratio.
When using cut bait you'll find that some pieces work better than others. In my experience is that the head of any fish you catch is gonna be your most choice piece of bait for pretty much any species of catfish. The head is followed by the stomach, with the internal organs inside, as the next best piece to use. However something I do when I have the opportunity to catch and prepare cut bait early is I let it soak in the blood from chicken livers to give it more smell in the water. I've found that this helps me keep the bite going a little better when catfish tend to slow down biting.
Shrimp is the last of my top five baits for channel catfish. It came in last not because it lacks in catching ability behind any of the other four baits but because I'm allergic to shrimp. As a result this requires me using gloves to rig shrimp up which is just bit of a pain to me.
Allergies aside though, shrimp is an extremely effective bait for channel catfish. Not only is it effective but it is easy to find, a simple trip to any super market will have you in a bag of bait.
If you're gonna use shrimp as bait you wanna keep a couple things in mind. First thing is to remove the shell from the shrimp as it will hinder hook ups. Second is to use either bait holder or circle hooks sized #4 to 1/0, there really is no need to go much larger as the shrimp are only gonna be so big. Third, if you find that you're getting bites but not hooking up, pinch off some of the shrimp as the size of the shrimp may be inhibiting your hook ups. Lastly fresh shrimp tends to work best in my experience so keep it as fresh as you can.
Thanks for reading my short list of my top choices for channel catfish bait. Please let me know in the comments below what your favorite channel catfish baits are.
Company Desciption: Guaranteed to bring Miss Hawggy charging in for a place at the dinner table. The Bass Pro Shops® Kermy Frog features an incredibly realistic body design cutting through the wind and lands belly-down, ready to start kickin' its way through the heaviest cover. Superactive silicone rubber legs respond to every movement of your rod tip. Exciting blowups await!
Features & Benefits:
Realistic body design
Superactive silicone rubber legs
Heavy Gauge Sharp Hooks
Review: The Bass Pro Shops Kermy is the budget hollow bodied frog that I'll buy whenever they go on sale. At $2.99 on sale its a price you cant beat. It's often said that you get what you pay for but in this case I think it would be misstated. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure people have had some quality control issues with this frog. But for me I havent had a problem with them at all. In fact I've used the same frog the last two years with no problems. It hasnt begun taking on water, the belly weight hasnt flown out and it still rights itself when it lands upside down. All of this and I've caught at minimum twenty bass on this frog.
The hooks are stout and sharp out of the package. In fact after fishing last years season with it I checked the hooks and they weren't bad, hence the reason I fished the same black Kermy frog this year. I can honestly say I didnt lose any fish due to dull hooks on this frog and the fish I lost on this frog were due to me setting the hook too soon or having too much vegetation in the way of the hook set.
The only downside I've noticed about the Kermy hollow bodied frog is that the paint job doesnt last very long. Don't get me wrong its a good looking frog out of the package but over time the paint comes off, which I expected.
The overall action of the frog is pretty good, much like any other hollow bodied frog. However it's not the easiest frog to walk the dog with. But with eventually I figured it out.
Overall the Bass Pro Shops Kermy frog gets a 5 stars for me simply because it does the one thing I want a hollow bodied frog to do. Catch Fish!!
How I Used: I fished the frog over thick scum mats, lilly pads and even from the bank into open water. When fishing in cover like mats and pads I fished it relatively slow so bass could zero in on the bait with no probems. Set Up: 6ft. 6 inch Medium Berkley Lightning casting rod with a Abu Garcia Silver max reel spooled with 45lb braided line
Colors: 15 colors available Length: 2 3/8' Weight: 5/8 oz.
Price: $6.99 (2.99 during the fishing classic) Pros: At 5/8 oz. the Kermy cast long distances. As well it has held up very well for me, in fact I've fished the same black Kermy two years in a row without it taking on water or losing the belly weight. Bass pro did a great job with this hollow bodied frog.
Cons: The only con I've found with the Bass Pro Shops Kermy frog is the fact that the paint job doesn't too long. After a fair amount of fishing the paint begins to wear off.
It seems as though this year has been a year of late starts for me when it comes to fishing. Every time I've had a chance to go I've either hit the snooze button too many times or due to my lack of organization gotten on the water far later than I would've wanted. So why should this day be any different, I got this day started a few hours later than I would've wanted because I was indecisive on whether or not I even wanted to go fishing. Not only was I indecisive but I failed to pack my stuff up the night before, despite my wife telling me I should get ready. So the late bird has to spend more time than needed packing up the rubber worms.
Despite my late start though I made it to Newburgh lake excited and ready to fish. I jumped out the truck and reached into the back seat only to find that I left my tackle bag at home on the couch. Really... After all that work, I get to the lake and have no tackle to actually fish with. However, thank God I wasn't as organized as I'd like to be because I had my junky backpack in the back which had a couple of packs of plastics in it and I still had last years frog tied on one of the rods. Eureka!! Hopefully my pack of black sluggos would save my fishing trip or maybe I was already smelling a skunk.
A quick paddle across the lake and three cast in and I hook up with this little guy under a downed tree. At just over 13 inches he's no monster but a heck of a fish for a guy with no tackle. I assumed this little guy wasn't alone under this downed tree he was sitting in so I threw several more cast in and around it. Probably around my fifth cast I hooked into fish number 2. Shortly after pitching into the spot and a couple twitches with the soft jerk bait he smashed it. This little guy was only about 15 inches but well worth the fight.
I ended up fishing this area for about 15 minutes before deciding it was time to move about 30 yards down to another downed tree that was surrounded by scum. I ended up fishing that spot for about 10 mins with nothing more than one swirl at my bait. However right when I was about to leave I saw a bass blow up not far from where I was. It was time to paddle on and grab the rod with my Basspro Shops Kermy frog on it.
When I got to the spot where I saw the fish blow up I pitched the frog close to where I had seen the fish. However due to not so accurate casting I was a couple feet off from where the fish had shown itself. "No biggie... I'll just make another cast", I figured. One more cast to the bank just behind where the bass had blown up and I was walking the frog right back to where I had seen the largemouth. That first few feet of walking the frog and nothing so I decided to pause the frog right at the spot where the fish was spotted. No sooner had I paused it and "splash" she had nailed my bait and was quickly becoming the highlight of my day.
Once I'd gotten this fish to the yak I couldn't be more excited. At 18 inches this fish was not my largest bass by far. However for a day that started out with me leaving all of my tackle at home and with it my hope of catching anything, this fish made the trip worth it.
After I caught that fish I ended up fishing for about an hour more. I ended up losing 3 more bass 2 on the frog and one on the sluggo. But hey, even losing 3 fish is better than sitting in front of a computer at work dreaming about fishing. Tight lines everyone and thanks for reading.
Let's face it, some of the best fishing you'll ever encounter is at night. This is especially true during the dog days of summer when even the fish are not too happy about the extreme heat of the day. Whether you're catching catfish by starlight or crappie by streetlight, night time fishing is always a blast and almost always productive.
No matter how productive it is, when fishing at night from a kayak, safety is your biggest concern. As we all know, when fishing at night your sight is extremely impaired. With that in mind you have to remember that also means the vision of pleasure boaters and bass fisherman, whom you share the lake with, is also impaired. Not only is their vision impaired but we as kayak fisherman and women are sitting far lower on the water than they are so we're even less visible to other people on the water. For that reason your number one safety tip for kayak fishing at night is to light it up.
1. Light It Up!
Depending on where you live the laws may require you to have a light on your kayak that is visible up to 300 feet with a 360 degree field of view. Whether the law requires it or not, you need to have a light that is positioned higher than you are on the kayak so you extend your visibility. Your first priority with kayak fishing at night is making it home at the end of a successful night of fishing. Having a light that is visible from a long way off is the first step of letting anyone you're sharing the lake with know you're out there. A kayak light I recommend is the YakAttack VISICarbon Pro. You can get it with pretty much any mounting option you want, from geartrac guides to ram balls. However if you're not interested in paying for a yak light and you're pretty good at tinkering you can make one yourself for less than half the cost.
Another great option, that requires a bit more work on your part, is to add LED light strips to your kayak. Kayaks with LED strips can pretty much be seen from the moon. Well... Maybe not the moon but you get the point, they can been seen a long way off. Actually they look pretty eerie crossing your local lake at night. Credit for the LED Lit kayak to the right goes to Amazon.
Now that you're kayak can be seen by anyone on the lake you're fishing on, it's time to consider you're field of view. Fishing is a sport that requires a large amount of tedious tying of knots, accurate cast, changing baits and dodging sharp fins that are eager to test their sharpness in one of your hands. All of these things require you to be able to see what you're doing so lets talk options for opening up your field of view so you can actually fish in comfort.
The first option you have is the use of handheld flashlights. While they're not a perfect option they're an option. Hand held flashlights will give you light to work however the problem with them is that they require you to use one of your hands which limits how efficient you are when tying knots etc. I personally keep a small flashlight in my dry hatch with my phone in case of my primary source of light goes out or gets wet and shorts out. But beyond that I don't expect to get much use out of a handheld flashlight.
The next option is the use of a headlamp. Headlamps are compact and hands free which makes them a great light source when its time to unhook a flapping fish. As well with most head lamps you can broaden or tighten the beam as needed. Not only that but you usually have an option for using a different color light. This function is great because the one big drawback to using a head lamp is the fact that lights attract bugs. The change of color will lessen the amount of flying insects hovering around your head.
Probably the best option is to make an overhead light for your kayak. It'll keep the bugs out of our face while giving you the light you need to perform any task you may have. As well they are great for those of us who film our outings. As we all know gopro cameras don't do well in low light but an overhead light will give your gopro the light it needs to make filming successful. Click here for a great example of a diy overhead light created by: Kayak Catfish
The other great function of an overhead light is, depending on how you build it, it can function as a spot light as well. So when you're paddling in at the end of a good night of fishing it can give you the light needed to guide the way.
Where lights do a great job of making you visible and giving you a larger field of view at night, placing reflective tape on your kayak and PFD will help people see you by reflecting their lights back at them. Reflective tape is a great back up plan in the instance your lights fail due to battery failure or any other malfunction.
Beyond reflective tape I've also added glow in the dark spray paint to my rod holders that are attached to my crate. Is it overkill? Possibly, but it's one more thing that keeps me visible and safe on the water.
Just because this is number three on the list doesn't mean it's not as important than the first two items on the list. Wearing your PFD is the absolute most important thing you can do at night. Let's face it there are just two many variables at night that can have you going for an unwanted swim, so wear your PFD. If you fish rivers that have dams upstream of where you fish you should have on a PFD because the water flow can increase very quickly and that increase can wash large debris down with it that can knock you in the water. I could go on forever with different scenarios on why you should where a PFD at night but I won't, I'll just leave you with this.
When my dad was teaching me to drive he said to me, "When you're driving you have to constantly be accounting for the actions of others. Assume that everyone else on the road is stupid and compensate for that stupidity in order to keep yourself safe on the road." While his analogy was a bit cynical his lesson was very true and even more true when it comes to kayak fishing at night. We've all seen how pleasure boaters and bass fishermen in boats can do some pretty careless things. Things that could easily hurt one of us had we not been paying attention. So magnify those careless things by 10 when you're out there fishing at night, because not only are they possibly being careless but they also can't see while they're doing it. Wear your PFD.
4. Know Your Surroundings
When your eyes are limited as a source of information you have to compensate for that in some way, familiarity is that way of compensation. Take some time to fish that spot during the day and familiarize yourself with every aspect of that spot. That familiarity will allow you to dodge objects that your eyes can't see. It's one thing knowing there is a sunken log in the lake it's an altogether different thing knowing exactly where that log is. It's the difference between having fun fishing and taking a miserably cold swim at night.
The other aspect of knowing your surrounding is constantly looking around. Just because you know the lay of the lake doesnt make up for those unpredictable things that can happen. Things like floating debris, other boaters, or getting to close to a swans nest are things that can ruin your night if you're not constantly looking around. So keep your head on a swivel and be vigilant in your awareness while out on th water.
5. Take a buddy
The only thing better than your eyes watching your back, is having a second pair of vigilant eyes helping you stay safe. Your fishing buddy is your second most important asset while kayak fishing. Your buddy is there to see things you may not. As well two of you are an irreplaceable first aid tool for each other, a helping hand if you go overboard and the best way to keep fishing fun throughout the night. So choose your fishing buddy wisely. 6. Make Yourself Heard There will be times when you're on the water and someone in a boat is driving completely blind and don't see your reflective tape or the lights attached to your yak. Either that or its just so foggy that they can't see the reflectors or lights as fog refracts light in weird ways. Either way when they can't see you make sure they can hear you in the case of an emergency. Keeping a whistle or an air horn within reach on your yak will get the attention of even the most oblivious person driving a boat. Not just that but blasting the signal for S.O.S. will help people locate you faster in the case of emergency. 7. Leave a note with your location (lattitude and longetude)
Kayak fishing is a pretty safe sport however things can go wrong in a hurry. One thing that can help you in case of an emergency is leaving a note telling someone where you'll be fishing. It doesn't matter where I'm kayak fishing nor how familiar I am with the spot, I always leave a note telling someone where I am. This is doubly true when I'm fishing on the great lakes or any large bodies of water for that matter.
My notes always have an image of the area I'm fishing with my put in and out point clearly marked. As well the spots I intend to fish are marked on the map to make life easier for any would be rescuers. Beyond the image in my note I leave the longitude and latitude of where I'll be as well as any address that available for where I'll be putting in. The only other major info in my note is what time I'll be on my way home and should be home, that way if for some reason I'm too late my family knows to look for me. This step isn't just for you but it's for your loved ones who have a huge stake in you making it home. 8. Be GPS & Radio Ready
When fishing large bodies of water like the ocean or Lake Erie, as I try to do as often as possible, its not hard to get out of cell phone range so you need to be prepared. A simple way to be prepared is to have a VHF radio with you whenever going long distances off shore. The VHF radio will work out of range of a cell phone as well it will reach other boats in the area when calling out. Unlike a cell phone the VHF radio will reach out to anyone listening where a cell phone is specific to whomever you call. This will give you much higher chance of rescue in case of an emergency.
The other thing you'll need to have is a GPS. The GPS will point you in the right direction if the shore is no longer in your line of sight. Additionally it will give your exact location in case you have to hail for help over the VHF radio.
9. Be Organized
Kayak fishing at its core is a minimalist sport. Pretty much you're limiting yourself to what you can carry in a milk crate and the pockets on your PFD. So the best thing you can do is when it comes to kayak fishing at night or during the day is be organized. Good gear organization will save you frustration and possible injury while fishing in the dark. There is absolutely nothing worse than having to fish around for your fishing pliers while turned around uncomfortably and trying to hold down an angry 15lb catfish. That's a recipe for disaster, so save your self from wayward fins, and sharp hooks by being extremely organized.
10. Blaze your take in and out trail Many of the lakes I fish have traditional launches that I use regularly. However some of the larger lakes I fish don't have traditional boat launches close to where I want to fish so that requires me to get a bit dirty with my kayak launches from. By dirty I mean there are times when I have to cut through some wooded areas to get to the best places to launch. Besides mosquitoes and possible poison ivy contact that presents a major problem. How do I find that random spot when it's time to get off the water after a night of fishing.
The best answer to that question is to use hunting trail tacks to blaze my trail in and out of the water. A simple scan with my flashlight or spotlight and the tacks reflect back to me where I need to go to get back to my car safely. So use reflective tacks or tape to blaze yourself a trail for nontraditional launch points.
Overall when fishing at night safety is your biggest concern. Hopefully these ten tips will help you stay more safe the next time you're out at night chasing big fish. Please comment below with any other night fishing tips you can offer to our fellow anglers.