First pike of the season

Fly Fishing for Big Pike in Western New York

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With the first Saturday in May being not all that far off, I need to be thinking about tactics for pike.  Northern Pike, plentiful in Western New York, are my favorite species to catch.  They grow big, are aggressive strikers, and decent fighters, pound for pound.

First pike of the season

One of my goals this year is to take a 24” plus pike on the fly rod.  I often catch smaller chain pickerel when targeting bass during pre spawn/spawn, but to go after the big pike, you need to think differently.

At the very least, you need to have an 8 weight fly rod.  Redington makes a Predator series rod in 9 or 10 weights, and they specifically recommended those to me when I asked them on Twitter.

Redington Predator Specialized Fast and Powerful Action Fly Rods Free WW Shipping!!

I also plan on using a thin gauge steel leader as a tippet, and likely tapered 10 pound material from the fly line on down.  The fly line itself will be floating, and the fly selection will be big poppers, thick floating bunny streamers with cork heads, and potentially sunfish patterns.

Fly fishing from a kayak is a rewarding experience.  You can quietly get into areas without making ground vibrations.  You do need to be careful of the shadow the kayak casts, but each appraoch will dictate how to handle that.

A few things to bear in mind:

1.) Paddle into your spots quietly.

2.) Be VERY careful setting your paddle down.  A dropped paddle on a hollow sit on top kayak sounds like a cannon underwater.

3.)  Fish near the kayak first, then extend out your casts.  Don’t line any pike you don’t have to.

Here’s a great video on tactics for hooking and landing REALLY big pike on surface flies. Enjoy!


Red Truck Premium Series Fly Rods

Red Truck Premium Series Fly Rods

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Red Truck Premium Series Fly Rods

Leland Outfitters has announced the new Red Truck Rod Premium Series Fly Rods.

December 5, 2010 (San Francisco, CA): With the growing popularity of Red Truck’s proven Diesel Series of fly rods, Red Truck raises the bar with its new Premium Series.

A New Approach for the Red Truck Premium Series Fly Rod

Backed by 200 years of combined fly fishing, guiding and casting instruction experience, the product development team at Red Truck offers their Premium collection of performance fly rods designed to compete with the best rods on the market. These lightweight, stable, great-tracking fly rods all share a true-progressive action. When using a modern, compact casting stroke, the result is amazing line control and effortless loops at any distance.

Sum of the Parts

Ultra-light, high-modulus blanks are adorned with the best components available. REC Recoil titanium snake guides are corrosion resistant, light weight and offer shape memory. This magic “memory metal” always returns to its original form if compressed. American Tackle’s titanium stripping guides are all but bomb-proof and further reduce rod weight.

A carbon-weave reel seat spacer, laser-etched gold anodized reel seat hardware and a top quality cork grip round out the component package. A quick-drying rod sock protects your investment cradled in the lightweight olive-died, carbon-weave rod tube. And of course, there’s a Red Truck “Brews-Key” bottle opener hidden in the rod tube cap…another added bonus for this ultra-light, high-performance casting tool.

The Red Truck Premium Series Fly Rod Line Up

The Red Truck Premium Series of 4- piece fly rods is initially offered in three single hand models: (9’#5, 10’#7, 9’#8) and two 2-hand models: (11’#7 Switch, 13’6”#7 Swing). Each model provides unmatched performance in the most popular weights.

Red Truck Premium Series Fly Rod Outfit Option

To compliment their Red Truck Premium fly rods, the team at Red Truck will offer a series of Premium fly reels. Machined from solid bar-stock, aircraft-grade aluminum, these anodized large-arbor fly reels incorporate a proven draw-bar cork disc-drag mechanism that is not only butter smooth but also powerful.

The Red Truck Challenge

Red Truck is so confident in their rods, that they bravely request you cast and fish them against your current fly rods. Regardless of brand and price tag, they believe it will be your new favorite fly rod. If it isn’t, they want you to send it back for a full refund.

The Red Truck Warranty

1. If your Red Truck fly rod breaks due to manufacturer defect, they will replace the broken section or make the appropriate replacement for your rod.

2. If you break your Red Truck fly rod due to normal fishing related activity, they ask that you pay the reasonable replacement price, at no profit to Red Truck.

The Red Truck Premium Series Bottom Line

Lightweight performance with the ultimate components at an unsurpassed value.

About Red Truck Fly Rods

Red Truck was formed with one goal: to make fly fishing better for everyone. At Red Truck, they think everyone should have the opportunity to fish with the best equipment available, at the best price possible. At Red Truck, you get more!

Mauch Chunk Lake is low, but it didn't hamper the fishing

Videos from my Mauch Chunk Lake Trip

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In September, I stayed with a friend in Emmaus, PA. I was able to fish at Mauch Chunk Lake twice during that trip. Once from a canoe, and once from my Liquid Logic Manta Ray.

I took some video from my Flip Camcorder.

This first one shows the unbelievably low water levels this September, which exposed these tree stumps in the west end of the lake. It was absolutely LOADED with pickerel.

Tree Stumps in Mauch Chunk Lake

Anchoring A Kayak In The Wind

The day I fished from the kayak, we saw a lot of wind. When I was down in the stumps, I used everything at my disposal to stay in place.

Anchoring a Kayak In The Wind

A Little Pickerel. A Big Senko

We all know that pickerel can be aggressive little things. This one tried for a weeks worth of food in one bite.

Pickerel Via Senko

Mauch Chunk Lake largemouth Bass

Mauch Chunk is loaded with keeper largemouth. It’s managed by the State as a big bass lake, although we very rarely see trophies here. This one fell for a black tube jig with red flecks.

Mauch Chunk Lake Largemouth Bass

Chain pickerel on the Fly Rod

My goal for the day was to land a 18+ inch pickerel on my fly rod. Unfortunately, I simply ran out of time as I was paddling back to my hot spot. The fishing was so good all over that I lost track of the sinking sun.

This 15 incher fell for a big slider bug. Great fight.

Chain Pickerel on the Fly Rod

Mauch Chunk Largemouth Bass

Kayak Fishing in Northeast Pennsylvania

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I was fortunate enough to have a week off in September, and I spent it wandering around the Lehigh Valley/Pocono Regions of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A couple of things that bear mentioning to my fellow New Yorkers if they intend to visit PA to fish:

1.) If you are fishing a Pennsylvania Fish and Game managed park, you NEED to get a launch pass for you kayak. They are $10 annually, and you can buy them online at the PFG website.

2.) You also, of course, need a PA fishing license. I opted for the 3-Day Tourist license. $16 or so. I also had to get a trout stamp for $10 though, because of where we were intending to fish. If you’re going near trout waters, get the trout stamp.

Day One – Mauch Chunk Lake, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Mauch Chunk Lake is low, but it didn't hamper the fishing

If you’ve never been to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, I can’t recommend it enough.  It’s a European feeling little city built into a valley.  Narrow streets, cramped sidewalks, and great food and beer.  There’s a picture to be taken every several footsteps, and something new to taste or smell as well.  Plus, you can whitewater kayak on the Lehigh River here, or rent mountain bikes and head off on your own.

The real gem, however, is Mauch Chunk Lake.  A man made impoundment, Mauch Chunk is loaded with bass, pickerel, and perch.  Imagine our surprise, however, as we pulled up and found the water resting listlessly 20 feet away from the docks.

Concerns over water level though quickly dissipated, as no sooner had we launched than we were into bass and pickerel.

Between the two of us, I’d say we brought 30 fish TO the canoe, and landed a good number of those.

Returning a Small Mauch Chunk Largemouth as the sun sets

Returning a Small Mauch Chunk Largemouth as the sun sets

Day 2 – Kaercher Creek Park

Out towards Harrisburg is Kaercher Creek.  Another man made impoundment, a dam backs up water into a pretty deep basin.  Trout rise along the dam, and bass and pickerel cruise the shady depths back towards the creek “mouth”.

Discovering that the water isn't low at Kaercher Creek

For this trip, I headed out in the LiquidLogic.  I threw some flies at the trout rising in the dam area, but no avail.  Sun fish were picking off the flies before the trout could get to them.  It was an interesting conundrum.

I tried the shoreline for a bit, and scared up a largemouth or two, but then I headed down to the creek end, which is very sloppy.  Duckweed, milfoil, lily pads, and other tangles cover that end, and in previous years, we had done well for pickerel and bass here.

This year?  One hit.  I’m beginning to think Kaercher fishes a little like Canadice.  As you get later in the year, evening fishing is the only way to go.  Maybe dawn as well.

My partners, Andy and Tara, did a little better working the deeper shorelines, but not much.  We pulled off the water right at sunset, and headed out for Mexican food.

Kaercher Creek - A building near the boat launch

Day 3 – Mauch Chunk Lake Again

I wasn’t going to let this trip go by without getting my kayak into the tree stumps on the west end of Mauch Chunk Lake. (Video coming soon).

So, with a fly rod and a spinning rod in hand, I nosed the Liquid Logic west, and got to work.

The wind was up a bit, so I had to be creative in anchoring and fishing, but I got used to it over a few hours.

Mauch Chunk Largemouth Bass

Mauch Chunk Largemouth Bass

Andy and Tara were drifting the middle of the Lake, and scaring up some nice bass.  I started in the tree stumps, picked up a few pickerel and a bass on the spinning rod, and then started to drift east as well.  The winds were heavy, so I wasn’t fly fishing.

The south shore is very rocky.  Even more so when the Lake is 10 or 15 feet higher.

Rocky Shoreline on Mauch Chunk

Rocky Shoreline on Mauch Chunk

I was running out of Senkos by this point, as the little pickerel just LOVE to chew on them, so I switched to black tubes with red specks.

Great idea as it turned out.  I was fishing one unweighted on the spinning rod, and with a tube jig head on the baitcaster.  The spinning rod started bagging pickerel and bass on almost every cast in these rocks.  In fact, it was working so well that I lost track of time, and really had to hustle to get back to the west end to try to catch an 18″ pickerel on the fly rod.

With the sun dropping like a deflated balloon over my shoulder, I hammered the water in the stumps with my fly rod.  I was using a big slider/popper/gurgler, and working it fast.

I had hits on almost every cast, and finally landed about a 14″ pickerel.  Then the sun dropped like a stone, and I had to paddle hard to get off the water before legal dusk.  I didn’t have a light on me, and as a guest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I didn’t want to push my luck.

I’ll post up the videos tonight!

Kayak Fishing Lake Ontario

Mounting a GPS/FishFinder in a Fishing Kayak

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Having spent a little more time on bigger lakes last year, I decided it was time to add a GPS/Fishfinder to my LiquidLogic Manta Ray. If you’re not familiar with that model of fishing kayak, it’s a sit on top, and mine runs 12 feet in length.

EAGLE CUDA 350 S/Map Sonar/GPS Fishfinder

There’s a few schools of thought on where and how to mount all of the necessary components. After doing some research, both online and in asking my local kayak anglers how they had mounted theirs, I determined both the location of the unit, and the method of mounting the transducer.

Mounting the FishFinder in the Kayak

I decided that I would mount the electronics on my center console. Of course, this does seem like the obvious and logical choice, but you must remember I do quite a bit of fly fishing, so adding additional items to the immediate cockpit area could cause problems with snagging fly line, etc. Nonetheless, I wanted to able to read it easily, so I added it there.

FishFinder in a Kayak

You’ll note there a Scotty Rod Holder mount right in front of the Eagle CUDA 350 fishfinder.

Fortunately, the mounting of the electronic unit only required 3 small screws, so if I get frustrated while fly fishing, moving it in the future won’t be impossible (we also left additional wire length, etc). We’ll see how this placement works out long term.


Mounting the Transducer in the Kayak

This was another interesting choice. For a sit on top kayak, there are essentially 2 tried and true methods of mounting a transducer. The first is simply to find a spot inside the hull, and use Marine Goop to mount the transducer directly to the hull, so that it’s as flat as you can make it. That’s important for acquiring accurate depth readings.

However, I decided to go with the “water bath” method. For this, I purchased a 4 inch PVC clean out, and the cap. The cap should have a nipple on top so you can get a pair of channel lock pliers on it if need be.

My first step was to mount the transducer itself. In my case, I drilled a hole through the top of the cap for the wiring, then I physically mounted the transducer using the manufacturer’s brace/mount to the screw cap itself. First, a word of warning about this. Make sure your transducer will fit properly like this. They are all different, but I can tell you that the Eagle CUDA 350 transducer mounts perfectly in this fashion.

Mounting the Transducer in the Water Bath

From this bottom view (below), it doesn’t look like it will fit. But trust me, it does.

Bottom View Mounting the Transducer in a Kayak

Positioning, mounting, and shaping the clean out itself is a little more work.

First step is to find a spot inside your kayak that is relatively flat, and will be touching the water most of the time. You might be tempted to head up to the nose of the boat, but if you’re bouncing waves a lot, you’ll end up with bad readings.

I chose a spot just far enough in front of the foot wells that I could slide the battery behind in it, and actually hide the battery in between the foot wells.

Mounting the Water Bath for a Kayak Fish Finder

In the photo above, you can see the foot wells.

We needed to shape the bottom of the PVC clean out with a grinder in order to have it sit almost perfectly on the floor of the kayak. Using a black sharpie, we were able to sketch out rough lines, and then we utilized a little trial and error.

For the adhesive, I used White 3M Marine 5200 Adhesive. I used the variety that takes 7 days to cure, but I believe a faster version is available. Home Depot only had the 7 day version. Once cured, it certainly felt like I could have lifted the whole boat by the clean out.

Then, when I get to the water, I simply use water from where I’m fishing to fill the clean out, and I screw down the transducer. I transport my kayak upside down, so I’ll have to do this every trip. Oddly, there always seem to be plenty of water where I go fishing. I make sure my transducer IS NOT plugged in to the electronics unit when I’m screwing down the cap, to prevent wire twisting.

Mounting the Battery in my Kayak

Mount is a relative term in this case. Essentially, since I wanted the battery to be stable yet easy to remove for kayak transport and re-charging, I simply velcrod closed cell foam onto both sides so that it snugly fits in between the foot wells. I also added a block of foam at the back of the foot wells, against the bottom of the center console to protect the screws from the fishfinder mount. I added a small plastic tray (top of a sealable food container) as well, to keep the battery from resting in the water that might collect inside the boat.

I used velcro so I could easily replace the foam when it becomes worn out.

I also decided to make a quick connect for the wiring. I bought a trailer hitch connector, cut the wiring in half, and shrunk wrapped the yellow and green wires to the wiring going from the battery to the fishfinder. BE SURE TO LEAVE THE FUSE INTACT. You always want to have the fuse intact.

So, to remove the battery, I simply disconnect the quick connect, and pull the battery out. This affords me the ability to make the connections at the battery itself as permanent as possible, to avoid them popping off on the water.