Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angler of Next Week!

I just wanted to give some props out to Andrew Ragas of the Fishing Headquarters for his nice 51 inch Musky he caught today 9/29/2010. I am sure we will be reading and hearing about this one for some time. When I catch mine it will be worse. Congratulations on a great fish! I will give him the Angler of the Week honors for next week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Live Bait Tip

I made a trip to Gander Mountain yesterday morning, to get some minnows and some other tackle for my upcoming musky tournament next weekend. Looking around the store, I noticed the new displays of ice fishing gear that were being set up for the fall/winter season. Hard to believe that winter is on its way when the temperature outside was pushing 90 degrees. I figured on going fishing in the Fox river a little later on in the day so I was in the mood to load up the cart again. Not something that Shirley would want to hear when I'm still trying to find a job to pay for my fishing hobby.

The local bait store in town closed its doors at the end of July (another victim in this endless recession) and since then I haven't used any live bait in the Fox until this week. On Tuesday, feeling the need to start fishing for walleye again, I decided to get some minnows, head to the river and find out where all the fish have been hiding. One of the gas stations in town had minnows in oxygenated bags for $1.59 for 6 large fatheads or 10 small fatheads. Better than driving all over for minnows I thought, not knowing the smell that would emanate from the bags upon opening. The store clerk gave me a discount, for a few of the minnows had seen better days, and as I walked out the store I promised myself it would be the last time I purchase live bait from a gas station.

So here I was on a Thursday at Gander Mountain getting some minnows and tackle and realizing that the "superstore" had run Don out of his little bait shop and clear out-of-town. It doesn't make you want to spend your money at Gander Mountain but I was limited by my options at this point. There is another bait store on the north side of Elgin but it is not exactly close to me and road construction will make it seem even further away. All this chatter is leading to something I promise.

I purchased a Min-O2-Life Magnum bait bucket made by Frabill it comes with a battery operated aerator, insulated walls and a lid. Now when I make the trip to the bait shop across town or to Gander Mountain, I can get enough bait for a few days of fishing and can keep it alive until I get home. Once home I switch the battery operated aerator to one I had for my old fish tank and plug it in the wall outlet. This should keep them alive at least a few days (I will let you know) and save me a few trips to the bait store. One side note to that is as the weather gets cooler the minnows should last longer. Last winter I kept my small minnow bucket in my garage for a week and all my minnows (a few dozen) were still alive from the last weekends ice fishing trip. Frabill always has new and innovative fishing products that can help make your fishing trips better than ever.

I am confident that this will be a formidable solution to my bait store problem, at least until I can find enough money to open my own store in South Elgin. Wait! How then will I find the time to go fishing? I don't think that is very good option at all for someone with a hobby like mine. Sometimes the water always looks better to fish from the other side of the lake, if you know what I mean.

Remember that you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water. Please join me on Facebook at Cappy's Pond or on the web @ Comments on my blog sites are welcomed or you can e-mail me @

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lucky In Love and Bearings...

My brother Keith called me on the way over to my house last Sunday with our boat in tow. The trailer was making some noise while he was driving and he was concerned about it. Upon his arrival we took a few laps around the block to give a listen and we both agreed we had a wheel bearing starting to fail. Not the kind of thing you want to hear when you are leaving Monday morning for a 335 mile trip to go fishing. I had a birthday party to attend that afternoon for my nephew Johnny, so I planned to start to work on the trailer the next morning, delaying my departure to go catch a few crappies.

Shirley (my wife) and Scruffy (my dog) were quite disappointed to hear the news about the trailer as they were both very excited about getting away for a 5 day trip to the north woods. After jacking up the trailer I decided to watch a few videos on YouTube showing how to replace and/or repack trailer bearings. Good thing I did, because I quickly learned a few tips and pointers to make the job a little easier and saved myself a few headaches and some vacation time. It always helps to have the right tools for the job, and in this case I was missing a few along the way.

The big mistake that I made was thinking that the left wheel was where the noise was coming from and in fact it was the right wheel bearings. Oh well, once I saw that the left side wasn't damaged I knew I would be replacing both sides. Trying to save money and time I only purchased bearings for the one side. Back to the store for more parts, only to find they didn't have another set of bearings. Shirley was kind enough to go to a few other stores to track down the parts for me, returning just before evening. If you have never had the pleasure of removing 20 year old wheel bearing races from your trailer hubs it is something you must experience. Especially when the seals leaked and the bearing races were rusted. I was lucky we noticed it before being in the middle of nowhere.

We finally left on Tuesday at noon for our trip to St. Germain WI. The weather was perfect for driving and we made the trip in about five and a half hours. I went to unhook the trailer from our 2006 Chevy Trailblazer when I noticed transmission fluid all over the chains. We decided to call it a night and we would have it looked at in the morning. Shirley made a good dinner for us and we relaxed for the evening.

The next morning we drove the truck over to Parsons of Eagle River (Chevy, Buick) and had them take a look at the transmission. The service department was busy, but great, and they drove us into town for some breakfast. I knew it would be a few hours before they had a chance to look at it, so Shirley and I spent the afternoon walking around Eagle River in a steady drizzle, window shopping and a visit to the Depot Museum. Parsons called us early afternoon to tell us they had found the trans fluid had come from the overflow not the seal, and it may have been overfilled. We were told not to worry but recommended a transmission flush and fill when we got home as a precaution, and to check for any debris in the fluid.

We arrived back at the cabin late Wednesday afternoon to a steady rain. I took Scruffy for a walk and quickly returned to the comforts of the indoors, after a few lightning bolts and some loud rumbles of thunder. No fishing on this day, and another great night of relaxing with my wife and dog in the cabin. A pork chop dinner and a couple of good beers while watching Prince Poppycock try to win America's Got Talent. The rain continued into the late night and we went to bed with the sound of heavy rain hitting the skylight in the kitchen.

Scruffy woke me up early on Thursday morning for his walk. We went about 2 miles down the road and back with the squirrels chattering and jumping from tree to tree wondering what he we were doing in their neighborhood. The rain had ceased now but the wind was blowing from the northeast with a full cloud cover. Shirley won't fish in this but I was hopeful that it would brighten up by noon.

The weather got a little brighter and the wind eased a bit so we decided to launch the boat for the remainder of the afternoon. It was around 1:00pm when we started to fish and we had plans to go out for dinner that evening so I knew we only had until 5:30 before having to return to the launch site. We drifted the upper east bay of Little Saint Germain lake with crappie minnows under a split shot rig and after trying a few different locations we managed to find a few takers. The crappies were all between 9 to 11 inches. Not huge but perfect for eating. Shirley continued to catch them on the bottom while I suspended a slip float with a Cubby mini-mite jig. The bites were quite light and the float was the key to get them to hang on to the minnow a little longer. We ended up with a good mess of crappies by 5:30pm and headed back to the launch, packed up the boat and returned to the cabin. It was the only fishing we did for the week, having to leave Friday morning for home.

Our dinner at the Pub-n-Prime was very good as usual and we enjoyed the few days together relaxing in spite of the weather and the car/trailer repairs. I am quite lucky to have met Shirley and have the wonderful marriage that we have. It wasn't the best vacation I could have planned for her, but we did what we could afford with me being unemployed and the availability of my brother Kevin's cabin. I always said that fishing isn't about catching fish. It's about the time you share together with family and friends fishing, and on this trip with Shirley that was certainly no exception.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ice Fishing - Get Prepared Now!

I know most of you still have plenty of open water fishing left to do this year (myself included), but it isn't too early to be preparing your hard water equipment for the upcoming ice fishing season. Here are a few reasons to start early, and it will save you a few headaches and some frozen fingers come winter.

Auger maintenance is the first thing on my list. Whether you are using a power auger or a hand cranking model it is important to check your blades and make sure they are sharpened. Nothing is worse than trying to drill a good clean hole in the ice with a dull blade. Also be sure to give that power auger a good test and tune-up before it is too late. You can take it in to your local dealer now and still get it back in time for ice up.

The next thing I like to do is head to my favorite tackle store and start refilling the tackle bag with enough ice fishing jigs, line, tools and accessories to last me well into the season. The stores are stocking the equipment now and if you wait too long most of the good items will be gone. Waiting for your favorite style jigs to come in while the "first ice" bite is on can make your hair fall out. Trust me on this one. Have you seen my profile picture? I am wearing a hat for a reason.

Check your boots. With the great quality of insulated boots we have on the market today, these should last you quite awhile but it is worth a look to see if the soles are worn, stitching is loose, or if they need to be sprayed with a water-repellent to keep them in top-notch condition. You hunters have probably done this already, but the fishing only anglers need to take the time. Wet, cold feet can ruin even the best hard water bite.

Go out to the garage and open up the portable ice shanty and see if it needs any repair. Check the bottom, top, and sides for any rips in the seams. These can easily be fixed now and keep the rips from getting worse later. Check the poles, springs, ropes, carpet, depending on what style you have. We have had our shelter for a number of years and a little maintenance can keep them in great condition for many seasons.

There are other items that need to be checked also. Your electronics need to be checked and tested. Battery terminals and connections should be cleaned of any corrosion now, so you don't have them fail while you are jigging over your favorite crappie hole. Fire up the portable heater and make sure it is in working order. Have you checked the elements in your lantern? Do you have any spares?

For you snowmobilers, you better get your sleds tuned-up and running early to avoid any delays at the repair shop once the snow starts to fall.

Enjoy the rest of the open water season. I know I will, but it is never too early to be thinking of the great ice fishing season that is ahead of us. A little preparation now can mean a whole lot of success this winter.

I will be heading to Saint Germain, WI on Monday with my wife Shirley for some early fall crappie fishing and maybe a musky or two. Looking forward to some great fishing, and a few good dinners too! Will be posting pictures on our Facebook site at Cappy's Pond and on or on

Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Top 10 Reasons For Fishing Today!

(#10) Honey do list. If you go fishing today you can put that off till next weekend!

(#9) If you are out fishing, someone else has to clean the grill.

(#8) Relatives, need I say more.

(#7) My brother Kevin needs an excuse from having to paint the cabin.

(#6) I have no's all I can afford to do.

(#5) Fried Fish tastes real good!

(#4) It's a great way to spend time with the kids.

(#3) Cappy's pond needs new photo's.

(#2) It's the Labor Day weekend!

(#1) Your boss called and said you could have tomorrow off!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Touch of Fall

It is hard to believe that the beginning of September has crept upon us, but it is definitely here to stay. Most of the kids are back in school and the rest of them will be starting next week. I wish all of the students a good start to the new school year, and continued success throughout the coming months. Football practice has begun in our high schools and many have already played their first games of the new season. The sounds of the Big Ten (or is it 12?) and MAC conference marching bands will be filling college stadiums on saturday afternoons. Fall has arrived.

A Canadian goose (although he probably resides right here in Elgin, IL) just flew past the back window and reminded me that no matter what the outside temps are reading, nature instinctively knows that fall is approaching. Shorter days (and hopefully) cooler nights will bring brilliant colors to our north woods, delicious apples ready for picking, and golden sunsets across the farm fields of the midwest.

The waters of our lakes and streams will start to cool from the hot summer days and the fish who reside in them will put on their feed bags to store much-needed fat for the coming winter. A doe will stop at a trickling stream to take a drink, but only for a moment, as a buck chases her back into the thicket. Squirrels are busy running up and down the oak trees, gathering and storing acorns for the long winter ahead. It is a busy time of the year for everyone.

I am looking forward to the coming fall. My son Bryan is back in school and will have too much homework to tell me that he is bored. Shirley, my wife, will be working more hours than she can handle between all her jobs. My time will be spent continuing to look for a job, coaching youth basketball, playing chauffeur, and fishing.

If you haven’t gone fishing in a while, now is the time to do so. After the last holiday weekend of the summer, the lakes will be clear of the pleasure boats and the fisherman will return for a good chance at a trophy. Some of the best fishing of the year will take place in the next couple of months. Salmon will return to the spawning areas to complete their life cycle, crappies will school up in big numbers making themselves easy to locate with your electronics. Walleye will be on the move and willing to bite again in your favorite rivers. Of course the classic musky period known as “the fall bite” will quickly be here. Large and small mouth bass will reach maximum weights before the icy water temps arrive. So grab your gear and go fishing.

Shirley and I will be traveling up to Vilas Co. WI to give her some needed rest and relaxation. Morning walks with Scruffy, our jack russel terrier will be first on the list, followed by some afternoon sightseeing for fall colors. Maybe even a little evening crappie fishing might also be on tap. Please don’t tell Shirley about the crappie fishing…it’s a surprise. I hope everyone has a fantastic fall fishing season and I look forward to posting more articles from my future trips in the weeks ahead. Remember, you can’t catch any fish if your line isn’t in the water!

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