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CONTENTS • Ice Ice Baby . . . 7 The enjoyments of ice fishing from a beginners standpoint.

• DuPage County, IL, Forest Preserves . . . 11 Good ice fishing close to Chicago.

• Tournament Tactics of a Champion . . . 24 Master angler talks slick strategy on ice.

• Multi-Species at Warm Water Discharges . . . 43 Enjoy multi-species fishing at the cooling lakes of Central Illinois.

• The Quest For Big Blue Catfish . . . 49 James River, Virginia, Blue Catfish. The quest for giants.

• Spring Break Fishing: South Florida Bass . . . 69 Fishing the Sunshine State’s freshwater canal systems.

• Winter Down Time: Rod & Reel Maintenance . . . 79 Get your rods and reels working strong for the coming season.

• Hot Shots . . . 89

Submitted member and reader photos.

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Editor In Chief Sponsors and Advertising Partners

• Andrew Ragas

• Bearpaw’s Handpoured Baits • CB’s Hawg Sauce • Heartland Outdoors • Ragas Media Designs • Sims Spinners Inc. • Stankx Bait Company • Time on the Water Outdoors

Issue 2 Writers • Andrew Ragas • Jim Gronaw • Kenny Lookingbill • Bryan Blazek • Kirk B. Cahill Issue 2 Contributors

Contact Us

• Ted Pilgrim • Tony Boshold • Thomas Harris • Travis Brasfield

http://www.fishing-headquarters.com info@fishing-headquarters.com andrew@fishing-headquarters.com telephone - 708. 256. 2201

Contributed Photographs • Bill Lindner Photography • Blake Hamilton • Frank Weilnhammer • Jim Gronaw • Mike Goode • Thomas Harris • Travis Brasfield • Zack Wallin

Questions or Comments relating to Fishing-Headquarters and the magazine, and if interested in contributing or sponsoring, please contact Andrew Ragas at: andrew@fishing-headquarters.com Copyright © 2011 Fishing-Headquarters.com. All rights reserved. The usage of articles, excerpts, photographs, and any reproduction of this material is prohibited.

Layout and Design By • Andrew Ragas • Ragas Media Designs Fishing-Headquarters.com

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LEADING OFF.

“Bought an on whim, this bottle of New Belgium 2 Below seemed to be a perfect fitting to accommodate the lull of a 12 hour fishing day. Itstayed perfectly cold while the sun beamed through its amber bottle – if I can only get the white fish drawn to its hoppy flavors.” Photograph by Travis Brasfield. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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ISSUE-2, best to be read with cold brews in hand. A long read is ahead before completion of this brand.

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters | Page 6


ICE FISHING FOR BEGINNERS.

ICE ICE BABY The enjoyments of ice fishing from a beginners standpoint.

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters.com

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to catch a cold, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Neither did I see a purpose in sitting bored out of my mind on ice. During the beginning, the results were terrible that I seldom caught anything. If I was not fishing with groups of friends, and the folks whom I have met who had helped me along the way, I would not be By: Andrew Ragas in this position today to be sharing Editor In-Chief about my experiences. If it weren’t andrew@ďŹ shing-headquarters.com for them, I would resort to hibernating from December through February, and eliminating fishing from my life altogether. But in fact, neither he title of this article is has happened thus far. Nowadays, exactly the same as the well-known I casually journey to the ice five to song, originally inspired by Queen, ten times each year during the winmade famous by Vanilla Ice. I high- ter months whenever I see the need ly doubt that musicians of either to cure my fishing obsession. What led me to enjoy ice fishgroups ever ice fished during the height of their popularity. Unlike ing to some degree was that I dethem, however, I am only writing veloped a level of tolerance. If you the lyrics about my experiences thus ever intend on sticking with any sort of program in life, in this case ice far as a beginner in ice fishing. I began ice fishing in Illinois fishing, having the ability to handle and Wisconsin three winters ago. it and being up to the task is an esAt the time, other than dropping a sential trait to have. Once nonexistent, my tolersmall lure down a hole and waiting

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ance level for ice fishing may be presently attributed to several different factors ranging from attitude and enjoyment, to the quality of company, and material possessions (or lack of) such as gear and tackle. The ways in which I have learned to enjoy ice fishing are based on the following: Being creative with available resources; Following basic rules and staying within those parameters; Fishing with people whom you enjoy sharing frozen water with; Keeping the presentation and approach simple. I will elaborate for all other beginners and anglers who find themselves in my position and in need of some type of platform in order to start. Northern Illinois is littered with small ponds and other man-made venues that are home to healthy fish populations. Most of these places contain popular gamefish species such as bass, pike, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and sunfish. Some places are managed, while others simply are not. We are not at luxury like the nearby states of Wisconsin and

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters | Page 8


ICE FISHING FOR BEGINNERS.

Photograph by Andrew Ragas

Ice Rodeos, or formal fishing gatherings with several other fishermen, are when I enjoy ice fishing the most. Pictured are Dan Cahill (left with camera), and Michael Planthaber (on right, fighting fish). Nearly 20 website members and friends attended this southeast Wisconsin event in February 2010. Minnesota to have an unlimited number of lakes and resources that are full of world-class fishing. However, I think we are fortunate because many of these nearby small bodies of water do not receive much angling pressure, are generally easy to fish, and conquerable for those who are inexperienced. Creativity with what is available, maximizing your opportunities, and trying to make the best of the situation with an open mind will most often lead to success. Small ponds are everywhere in our state, and offer plenty of ice fishing when conditions are safe. Besides trying to focus on places that have good numbers of fish available for an entire day’s event, safety is a high priority for me. Due to some horror stories that Fishing-Headquarters.com

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have been told in recent years about people falling through and perishing, I will never venture out on ice by myself. Likewise, I will never find myself on ice unless it is thicker than four inches. Every time I venture out, I carry essentials such as at least 25 yards of rope, the “picks of life” that are always worn around my neck and a spud bar because you never know when something could go terribly wrong. Since I always fish with others, I know that help will always be somewhere nearby in case of emergency. Remember, safety first. The fish will come secondary if the rules are followed. During my limited ice fishing experiences, I have had my most enjoyable outings while being in the presence of friends, and large groups of people. Sharing the ice

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with those who are more experienced, willing to teach, and able to tolerate a party-like community atmosphere is magical. There is nothing better than being able to socialize on ice by throwing a barbecue, and drinking responsibly. The camaraderie expressed during such outings is what makes ice fishing enjoyable. Not only do you get to fish with other anglers who have the vast knowledge, but you get to experience nonstop entertainment at the same time while still fishing. On outings like this, enjoyment and feeling like you are a part of the ice fishing fraternity is what makes it fun for me. I have Photograph by Andrew Ragas. come to learn that it is not always about what you catch. Most often, it is all about with whom you fish and how the outing is enjoyed by everyone who is alongside of you. �


Before I began ice fishing, one of the biggest deterring factors for me was that I did not have any gear. Neither was I in the mood to spend a lot of money on something that I would do on such a limited basis. Nowadays, it seems as if everyone has sophisticated gear in the way of flashers, underwater cameras, portable shanties, snowmobiles and fourwheelers, and gas-powered augers. Ultimately, I learned how to ice fish without all of the above. While these items certainly make catching fish through the ice easier, they are not necessities for success and enjoyment. Anyone can get away with the simplicities of a hand-powered auger, a few basic jigging rods and reels, an assortment of jigs, hooks, spoons, and baits, and an even better understanding for what resides down below the ice you are atop of. My boats and tackle may be so blown out of proportion for fishing during the open water season. However, when it comes to ice fishing, I enjoy it more for the simplicity, and employing myself in the complete opposite as I do on a normal everyday basis. It is certainly a lot easier on my bank account, including my social life which I don’t have from spring through fall, that’s for sure. If you have ever found yourselves being in my position or have yet to go ice fishing for yourselves, just remember that ice fishing can be enjoyed in an infinite number of ways. How you ultimately enjoy your experience usually results in how you approach it and what you make of your available situation. By sharing these experiences as an ice fishing beginner, I hope that this offers some influence for those who are seeking it, and interested with starting another chapter in freshwater fishing.

Photograph by Andrew Keith Jasch Ragas. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 10


CHICAGO ICE FISHING.

Du Page County Forest Preserves. Good Ice Fishing Close To Chicago until the first signs of spring. For the rest of us, it is just the beginning of what will be an exciting hard water fishing season. Ice fishing can provide not only a break from cabin fever, but a chance at some of the best pan fishing of the year. With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of persistence one can find large schools of By: Kirk B. Cahill crappie, bluegill or perch that will Fishing-Headquarters Contributor be ready to take your presentation. The key is to do your homework before you leave the comforts of your home, allowing for more time on the or many fishermen in the water, fishing in the right locations. Over the past few winters I Midwest, the cold temperatures of early winter mean the end of the have spent a great deal of time on fishing season. With the first snows the ice fishing. Much of that time of December the boats are winter- has been spent fishing the local forized and stored in the garage. Tackle est preserves in DuPage County, IL. bags and boxes are organized, rods Quality fishing can be found if you and reels hung in their racks, and put in your time and research bethe landing nets are put away until fore heading out on the ice. DuPage

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County offers and manages 27 lakes and ponds that are available for ice fishing with over 500 acres of water for your winter enjoyment. There is also plenty of access to the east and west branches of the DuPage River but much of that water remains open throughout the winter. Take a look at their website at http://www. dupageforest.com. There you will find fishing regulations, maps, preserve hours, stocking information, as well as the latest DuPage County fishing report. Many species of fish are now available in the DuPage County forest preserves. Stocking programs in the past few years have included muskie, northern pike, walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass. . Pan fish are abundant throughout the county with crappie, bluegill and perch available for your angling excitement. Catfish, carp and bullďż˝


Image courtesy, Fishing in DuPage County booklet. (scanned image) Fishing-Headquarters | Page 10


CHICAGO ICE FISHING.

Photograph by Kirk B. Cahill.

We managed to get out on the ice at Pickerel Lake in Dupage County for a great day of ice fishing. A perfect winters day for being on the hard water, we managed to catch an assortment of bluegill, crappie and bass while fishing in 12 to 15 feet of water. The bass slammed the bait and took off running... just like the Bears! head can also be found within these waters. Rainbow trout are stocked each spring and fall at a number of the deeper lakes. Don’t forget to obtain an Illinois inland trout stamp when fishing for rainbow trout. Where does one begin? The first step is to find the body of water that best fits your target species. DuPage County lake maps can be downloaded and printed, allowing for you to mark your best locations before heading out to the preserve. A good quality flashing unit can make it easy to pinpoint depths, drop-offs, humps, weed lines, and other important structure. Not only that, it will allow you to find and target schools of suspended fish, that are a common place among winter angling. If you Fishing-Headquarters.com

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are unable to bring along or borrow a flasher, the key is to keep moving and constantly change depths until you locate active fish. Tackle can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be, but a light action ice fishing spinning combo is all you will need to catch most species. A few small ice fishing jigs and some wax worms, crappie minnows, spikes or wigglers is a great place to start for most pan fish. A basic tip-up rigged with braided or dacron line, a fluorocarbon leader and a small treble hook is an ideal way to catch larger fish. Try a golden roach or larger minnow suspended a foot or so off the bottom for northern pike, walleye, and bass.

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Equipment can be quite basic, with a hand held auger, a five gallon bucket, and some warm clothes. It can also be quite elaborate to include sleds, portable ice shanties, flashers, propane heaters, gas or drill powered augers, and hand held GPS units. Bring what you need to keep yourself comfortable, but remember the key to success is following the fish. If you aren’t mobile enough to keep moving, sometimes just 10 feet away, you will encounter hours with limited action. You must keep moving if you’re not catching fish, just as you would in a boat. It is not uncommon for a good angler to drill 20 different holes or more in an outing. The larger lakes within the


Photograph by Kirk B. Cahill.

county will offer plenty of room and a wider variety of fish species, but will also tend to have more fishermen on weekends or nice days. Target these bodies of water during the week for better success. Overcast or mostly cloudy days usually provide better angling over sunny days and tend to keep some fishermen home due to the colder temperatures. When all else fails, use the crowds to your advantage. Many times most of the homework will be done for you. Fish location, presentation and species, can be defined before you even start fishing. Most anglers will be glad to share their knowledge, and if not a good pair of binoculars will sometimes tell the whole story. If you want to avoid the crowds look for the same type of structure and depth in another area of the lake.

Most often fish will be holding in these locations too! Smaller DuPage lakes will provide limited species but many days it will be easier to locate fish, and once you do, you might have the lake and the fish to yourself. I have found some of the best pan fish action on a number of the smaller lakes. Don’t overlook them because of their size. It is especially important however, on these smaller bodies of water, to practice selective harvest and leave some of the bigger pan fish, to help maintain a quality fishery. Always remember to check ice conditions ahead of time. It is always a good idea to fish with a buddy and make sure you familiarize yourself with some of the signs of unsafe ice. Time spent on the ice, is the

best way to learn where and how, to some great fishing action in the DuPage County forest preserves. If at first you don’t succeed do not be discouraged. One of the best benefits of fishing a local lake is you can probably get back there a few more times throughout the year due to its close proximity. That in itself is a great advantage and a key to angling success! Good luck fishing this winter and we hope to see you out enjoying the fine fishing in DuPage County.

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CHICAGO ICE FISHING.

Photograph by Kirk B. Cahill.

The kids, Bryan and Tyler (son & nephew) made quick work of the bluegills as we caught 82 fish in 1 hr 45 min. The day before we had 51 fish in 2 hrs 15 min, 48 bluegill & 3 grass carp. Most of the fish were around 7 to 8 inches and taken over about 15 feet of water on wax worms. They both outfished me again, and I think that Bryan needs to start removing his own fish from the hook to slow him down a bit. Get out this winter on some of your neighborhood ponds and experience this great angling action. The kids love it, and it can make them forget about video games for a few hours!

Photograph by Kirk B. Cahill. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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O N T H E R O A D T O M U S K Y C O U N T R Y.

THANKSGIVING CAME EARLY THIS FALL.

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FROZEN IN FOCUS. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

By: Travis Brasfield Photographer & Contributor www.fourseasonangler.com

“A thin layer of water made the ice so clear you can watch the gold crushed Swedish pimple fall to the depth of twenty feet before it was out of site’s range; truly an amazing thing to witness.”

Photo courtesy, JacobBrasfield. Saylor. Photograph by Travis Fishing-Headquarters Fishing Headquarters | Page 18


FROZEN IN FOCUS. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

“Staring at the Marcum and through 15 inches of ice that has been shaved for the purpose of luring in Walleye; you can easily get lost in time.” Photograph by Travis Brasfield. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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FROZEN IN FOCUS. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

“Hoof it? You can’t make it out there on foot. No way! The Polaris ATV was a crucial tool on the ice.”

Photograph by Travis Brasfield. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photograph by Andrew Ragas.

“No matter how frozen you may be, you cannot help but be soothed by the warmth of sun falling behind the horizon.�

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Photograph by Travis Brasfield. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 22


TOURNAMENT TACTICS OF A CHAMPION.

By: Ted Pilgrim, with Tony Boshold Special Contributors

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ce fishing tournament ace Tony Boshold sweeps through jungles of panfish plants like a carpet cleaner. Proprietor of a highly successful, professional steam cleaning business, Boshold vacuums the flats with an ice auger, long rod, and box of his favorite little jigs. Having won on ice angling’s grandest stages, including the 2010 World Ice Fishing Championship and 2005 NAIFC National Championship, Boshold approaches every Fishing-Headquarters.com

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competitive event with never-ending enthusiasm. Always ahead of the crowd, the Chicago native tracks down pods of heavyweight bluegills and crappies as if they were little pots of gold. Nobody’s better, either, when it comes to sniffing out hot leads during pre-event sleuthing. “First thing I always do to scout a new tournament location is gather up as many lake maps as I can find,” says the captain of ‘Team Prowler.’ “Not all of our tournament lakes have been mapped by LakeMaster, so I’m often looking for any map I can find—sometimes it’s an old DNR survey chart, other times, it’s a secret homemade lakemap drawn up in a dimly lit backroom at the baitshop. Sometimes it almost takes a secret code to gain access to it. “The other thing I’ll do is dial up the lake using a satellite application like Google Earth. I want to see what the water clarity looks like; check for locations of weedbeds, rockpiles, major points—a lot of this stuff can be easily seen on a good aerial photograph.”

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Secret Maps Another sweet tool, Boshold says, is a mapping tool called Electronic Guide Service (electronicguideservice.com). “More and more competitors are discovering the advantages of having not only a digital lakemap in their GPS, but also a cache of key waypoints. For example, their mapping product of Boom Lake, Wisconsin gives you both detailed depth contours and 546 coordinates that show precise spots—39


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More and more competitive ice anglers use MarCum technologies to locate and catch tournament winning ďŹ sh every winter. Photo courtesy, Bill Lindner Photography Fishing-Headquarters | Page 24


TOURNAMENT TACTICS OF A CHAMPION.

Photo courtesy, Bill Lindner Photography

Preparation and concentration combine with Boshold’s choice in ice gear to yield continual tournament successes. verified sunken crib locations, as well as logs, stumps and rockpiles, hot vegetation zones, and even the known haunts of significant schools of fish. “You get a file that you can download right into your GPS, giving you immediate access to information that would take years to compile yourself. Really, it’s just an awesome tool that saves us time in tournaments.” Another resource for pre-tournament scouting, Boshold says, are state departments of natural resources. “As soon as tournament sites are announced, I want to be the first guy to call the biologists, as well as the creel surveyors. Lots of times, I won’t tell them I’m fishing a tourFishing-Headquarters.com

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-nament. If I come off like average Joe, they’re much more open with information on fisheries. Often, too, it’s the creel clerks who have intimate knowledge of where fish are caught, because they’re out there gathering real fishing data from anglers. They can tell you what’s being caught where, as well as when and with what presentations.” Which leads Boshold to his initial scouting missions on the ice. “On any lake, the first thing I do is head straight for the biggest shantytown (area with all the permanent and portable shelters). I hang around and talk shop with different fishermen. I might poke my MarCum camera down a few holes to get the lay of the land—look for available

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vegetation or fish. I also want to be there at dawn and dusk; need to determine when the peak bites are occurring. That’s the time when all the 4-wheelers and portables start showing up on the spot. I make note of this, so we can duplicate the pattern in other less crowded areas around the lake. “At the same time, my partner might be doing the same recognizance on another part of the lake. We’ll eventually meet up and compare notes. We’ll spread a lakemap on a big table and start penciling things in. We’ll rank spots by potential. Then we’ll divide ‘em up and go our separate way again; we can cover a lot more ground by splitting up than we can by going everywhere


everywhere together. I’ll grab my StrikeMaster Laser Pro and MarCum camera, and Mike (McNett) will take his stuff, including his ShowDown Ice Troller. “We’ll each be drilling and doing a lot of survey and camera work—maybe for an entire day before any fishing occurs. I’m always taking notes on the details—ice thickness, snow cover, fish size (I might catch and weigh a few bluegills or crappies), vegetation or other cover, and water temperature. My MarCum VS825SD camera has an on-screen water temp function that helps me pattern fish. Anytime I find a concentration, I’ll note the temp and try to find other areas hosting that same temperature. It can be a real key.” Regarding drilling, Boshold says that it’s best, if possible, not to Swiss cheese an area anymore than necessary, which prevents others from uncovering his spots. “I want to look as bored as I can during prefishing,” Boshold continues. “No matter how many fish I’m seeing, I don’t stop looking for very long. Other competitors are always watching. I never want to give the impression that I’ve stumbled across anything good, no matter how excited I might be at unearthing the mother lode. Also, I never erase my GPS ‘track’ after a day, because you never know when a new snow will move through and erase my holes. The GPS track function keeps me on good water all the time.” Coldfront Factoring Of course, even one of Boshold’s panfish “mother lodes” can quickly turn sour, given the arrival of a nasty winter cold front. But there’s an answer: “Just about every three days, you can rely on a front moving through,” Boshold

Photo courtesy,| NAIFC Fishing Headquarters Page 26


TOURNAMENT TACTICS OF A CHAMPION. observes. “What happens in prefishing is that most guys show up a few days before the event, find good fish, and then, on tournament day, the front moves in and they’re out of business. “I like to arrive when the previous front rolls through. If I can prefish through a front—before tournament day—I get to sample what happens to the bite; can see how fish react and move, during the bad conditions. If I can figure anything out at all during and after a front—even if I just barely eek out a limit— then that puts me way ahead of my competitors on tournament day, which always seems to coincide with the next front. Beyond Boshold’s slick trickery and occasional sleight-of-hand, there’s a real method to his tournament fishing madness. “Lots of times,” he states, “my partner and I simply drill more holes—cover more water—than anyone else. Along these lines, we do a lot of fishing while standing up, which keeps us on the move. With the new generation of winter wear, especially my Frabill FXE SnoSuit, I can stay warm all day long, right out in the elements. I like a long rod, too, such as a 36- to 42-inch St. Croix Legend or Frabill Ice Hunter. I can keep the rodtip close to the ice to avoid freeze-up, and I can dip my jigs and pull fish out of shallow water quick, without even turning the reel handle. A long rod also lets me move to various holes all around my standing position, without doing more than shuffling my feet. Hugely efficient, especially when panfish pack into tight quarters.” Fishing-Headquarters.com

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On the business end of things, Boshold remains steadfast on jig selection, although even here, he wanders from the crowd. “My favorite approach is to go ‘vertizontal,’” he quips, with a sly grin. “I’ll often tie up a vertical jig, such as a Northland Live Forage Minnow Jig or Little Atom Shmoe, and then dress the hook with a micro plastic bait rigged horizontally. When you rig a vertical jig this way, it swims to the side on the drop. When you engage the bail and stop its decent, the combo pendulums and swings back toward center, which triggers big panfish like no other motion I’ve found.” Boshold says that despite reluctance from many anglers, plastics like his favorite Northland Bloodworm and Little Atom Nuggies select for the biggest bluegills and crappies available. “Small fish might just nudge and sniff ‘em, but the bigger specimens absolutely gobble these baits up.” For Boshold, everything fits neatly into his continually evolving system. “The tools we use in tournaments must, by necessity, match our fast, efficient approach to fishing. Our Frabill Recon shelters hold gear and serve as primary fishing stations, while my custom-rigged StrikeMaster Glide Lite sled can quickly mobilize into a run-and-gun console on the ice. It holds a brace of prerigged rod-reel combos, a 5-gallon bucket, as well as bait, tackle, MarCum LX5 flasher and an underwater camera. I’ve even mounted Bait Pucks right on the sled, so bait and plastics are always within reach.” Indeed, with the 2011 NAIFC tournament season

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at hand, fellow anglers take note, visions of palm-stretching panfish are dancing in Boshold’s head, even as we speak.

Meet Tony Boshold “I eat, sleep and drink fishing. I like long walks with the family. We have two dogs, Jackson a Yorkie/Ahpso (aka hong kong fuey and the 1,000 tounge slaps) and Skruffy a Schnoodle, aka the yapper). Two cats, Stormy (Katrina rescue) she’s like a dog and Bucca (yes, like Sambucca). A painted turtle named Sheldine we “rescued” him from out back. And of course a fish who likes me best. I was born and raised in Chicago’s north west side. I work hard and play harder. I never give up, must have something to do with being a Cubs fan. I wear my heart on my sleeve.”

Get to know more about Tony by visiting the following websites:

www.tonybosholdfishing.com www.naifc.com


Let them go so they can grow.

Boshold goes ‘vertizontal’ for big panfish, including this monster taken on a Northland Live Forage Minnow Jig.

Photo courtesy, Bill Lindner Photography Photos by Andrew Ragas. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 28


TOURNAMENT TACTICS OF A CHAMPION.

ANGLER ACCOUNTS

Modern ice jigs like Northland Fishing Tackle’s NEW Live Forage series maximize strikes through ultra-realistic digital fish photo imaging. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photo courtesy, Bill Lindner Photography Photos by Andrew Ragas. Fishing Headquarters | Page 30 Fishing-Headquarters


BEHIND THE SCENES OF ICE MEN.

To see more, visit

www.icemen.tv - or - www.naifc.com

Photos courtesy, NAIFC Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photo courtesy, Jacob Saylor. Fishing Headquarters | Page 32


FROZEN IN FOCUS. Tom Harris is a member of the Legendary Trout Mafia, and friend of the Fishing-Headquarters. He is a professional photographer who graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009. His specialty photography work consists of architecture, landscapes, portraits and studio, and fishing scenes.

By: Tom Harris Photographer & Contributor www.great-lakes-angler.com

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Tom is currently living and working in Chicago, Illinois. Since his move to the big city, he has been chronicling all of his travels and fishing adventures throughout the Great Lakes region, often writing about them, and documenting with photos and his cool shots. The following images represent Tom’s latest travels and most recent photography work.

Clouds over Lake Michigan in January. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photograph by Tom Harris �


Photograph by by Tom HarrisRagas. Photos Andrew

Hoar Frost in Minnesota.

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FROZEN IN FOCUS.

“On the drive back from Hudson, Wisconsin to Chicago on January 2nd, I stopped the car a dozen times to check out snow covered fields, farm houses, water towers, cemeteries and other Wisconsin delights. None of them compared in uniqueness and complexity to the thousands of hoar frost crystal clusters that covered the ice on a favorite trout stream of mine in Wisconsin. “Incredible.”

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Photograph by Tom Harris

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FROZEN IN FOCUS. 95th Street Bridge - Chicago, Illinois.

Photograph by Tom Harris Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photograph by Tom Harris Fishing-Headquarters | Page 40


FROZEN IN FOCUS. Waves crashing at Belmont Harbor, Chicago, Illinois.

“I watched as waves built and wind speeds rose, finally things looked like they were going to peak and a couple of friends and I hopped in the car and headed into the gale. We arrived at a parking lot, only to be steered away by police who said the waves were too big and that we would not be allowed to leave the parking lot with our cameras. We scouted several other harbors, all of which had their token police cruiser. Finally we found a spot to slide past the patrols. We hiked a few blocks and across a wide field through storm force winds and snow drifts finally to find ourselves standing in awe at Lake Michigan in the darkness. Tremendous waves were rolling in on the backs of one another, crushing the seawall and throwing water in excess of 50 feet into the air. The gale and freezing temperatures would instantly turn much of the spray into snow, where it was whipped away from vision into the blizzard. “At long last we couldn’t handle the wind chill and we retreated to the car. I readied my camera and set the alarm for an hour before sunrise. I picked up my photographic counter-part, Matt Messner, and we headed again into the white. We were not impeded by police this morning and arrived at Belmont Harbor just before sunrise. As we set up the waves were crashing in with just as much force as the night before. All told we spent about 45 minutes getting coated in freezing spray, our cameras were fogged, iced, and every other undesirable thing that could happen to a camera. Tripods did little while perched on ice in 25 mph sustained winds, but we made the best out of what we had.”

Photograph by Tom Harris Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Visit Tom’s website, and see more of his photos at:

www.great-lakes-angler.com

Photograph by Tom Harris

Horse-Shoe - Montrose Harbor, Chicago, Illinois.

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WARM WATER DISCHARGES.

WARMWATER DISCHARGE MULTI-SPECIES FISHING

By: Kenny Lookingbill

Fishing-Headquarters Contributor

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as cabin fever affected you as hard as it has gotten to me? Are you tired of sitting on a bucket in the middle of a frozen lake, drilling dozens of holes, mesmerized by your bobber and waiting for a fish take your bait, sometimes to no avail? There are several situations throughout winter I find myself observing, playing with, and handling all of my open water rods and reels. In addition, there are times where I pull out all of my tackle, organize it, then change my mind again about its current organization and repeat the process over again. I found out that there is a remedy to this problem: Warm water discharge fishing. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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My experience with water discharges began a few years ago. I found myself killing time by reading online about some of the various central Illinois lakes; many of which were detailing and profiling power plant lakes. These particular bodies of water contain year-round open water thanks to the inflow of warm water being released into the lake from the discharge pipes. Realizing the possibilities of being able to fish open water in the midst of freezing winter temperatures got me excited and I wanted to try it with hopes of finding success. Besides, if I wasn’t going to have success with catching fish, at least I was getting the opportunity to soothe my desires by being able to cast my favorite reels for the first time since the end of open water season. One of my favorite destinations for discharge fishing is Clinton Lake, a 5,000 acre nuclear power plant lake located in Central Illinois. Clinton Lake is located halfway between the cities of BloomingtonNormal and Champaign, Illinois. The areas to fish near the Clinton discharge are located in the middle of nowhere. Coming across this area for the first time ever was a great experience because as soon as

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we reached our access point, all we could see was the open water and dozens of anglers fishing the water down below on a 25 degree day. During this first outing, we kept our presentations simple, using my go-to fish finding lure, the Charlie Brewer Slider jig. Soon after, we began to catch fish. Amongst our catches throughout that day were some white bass and very good sized crappie. All of which were meant for our dinner-plates the following evening. Since then, we have made several return trips back to Clinton. Many times, our outings have resulted in worthwhile satisfaction. When to fish? Warm water discharges can be fished year-round. To this point, I have found the general best times to fish them are from October through the end of March. Any time of the day is suitable, but usually the last hour of daylight to sundown is best. Some specific discharges have special regulations regarding hours of operation, times, and dates that these places can be fished. As a result, be mindful of any possible rules and regulations. Examples of cooling lakes that have such regulations include Pow-


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Central Illinois offers several bodies of water that provide year-round open water ďŹ shing. Pictured is Frank Weilnhammer, casting off the rip-rap shoreline at Clinton Lake.

Photograph by Kenny Lookingbill Fishing-Headquarters | Page 44


WARM WATER DISCHARGES.

Photograph by Kenny Lookingbill

Although warm water discharges are diverse environments amongst fish species, certain fish might be more abundant than others. Some of the most dominant gamefish species at the Central Illinois discharges are hybrid striped bass like this 5 pounder pictured. Posing with the catch is Frank Weilnhammer. erton Lake, located south of Peoria. This lake in particular has specific winter hours in which it can be shore-accessed and fished. Specifically, there is a period of time there that you have to be out of the lake by 3pm during the winter. In addition, the whole lake is closed for a week around Christmas. Besides Powerton, my beloved Clinton Lake also has a few regulations of its own. Certain areas by the discharge are off-limits and closed during the winter for the purpose of protecting wildlife. It is important to be aware of signs that indicate these boundaries. Occasionally, the power plants will be shut down for maintenance and the water will freeze up for duration of the work being done until they are back online again. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Where to fish? Most of the cooling lakes are man-made, and artificial in origin. Majority of the shorelines at these lakes will consist of rip-rap, which can provide a great deal of habitat for many species of fish. Besides rip-rap, other forms of habitat within reach may also be found from the shoreline to your liking such as woody debris and weedlines. Shore fishing is one option, but wading in shallow water is another option, and is a productive means for catching fish. Water temperatures on these bodies of water are usually comfortable, ranging between 50-70 degrees. Wind can also be a big factor in where to fish, but not in the clas-

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sic way you would think so. While the wind can blow the baitfish towards certain shorelines, it can also blow warmer water to different areas of the lake. For example, water temperatures at one particular area could be 45 degrees while elsewhere it could be pushing 65 degrees. It is always important to take into account the wind as following the warmer water will frequently lead to more fish. Ideal for multispecies anglers Warm water discharges are ideal for the multispecies angler as they attract and concentrate a variety of fish species throughout the winter months. Whether you are the panfish fanatic, or the bass fishing buff,


you will get satisfaction by fishing discharges. To date, I have had success fishing for walleye, largemouth bass, hybrid stripers, channel catfish, and most notably crappie. In order to catch fish of any species, the simplest thing to do is to tie on your favorite multispecies lures such as a small jig and grub. Do not be afraid to throw lures that you would normally throw in the spring or summer for more aggressive fish because the fish will have more energy than you would think due to the warm water. One of my favorite methods is to burn rattletraps, most specifically for hybrids. However, I have witnessed largemouth, smallmouth, and walleye being caught at discharges using this tactic. During slower bites a 4 inch soft plastic jerkbait will usually do the trick for predator fish. Minnows are also a great option if you also want to catch crappie as well as the predator fish. Last but not least, if you want to target catfish, chicken liver can be used with great effectiveness. Strap up the coveralls, layer up, and head out to your nearest warm water discharge. They are most definitely worth a trip or two, whether you want to catch a mess of panfish for dinner, or satisfy your cravings of going out and casting the new rod and reel. You will not be disappointed. Want more information about discharge fishing? Visit Kenny Lookingbill’s blog, titled, TROPHY HUNTING, and follow his adventures as he frequently fishes the warm water discharges during late winter and early spring. fishing-headquarters/trophyhunting/

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 46


WARM WATER DISCHARGES.

Photograph by Kenny Lookingbill

Photograph by Frank Weilnhammer Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photo courtesy, Mike Planthaber.

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THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS.

JAMES RIVER, VIRGINIA, BLUE CATFISH.

THE QUEST FOR GIANTS By: Jim Gronaw

Fishing-Headquarters Contributor

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters.com

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My friend, Charlie Wallace, gets up close and personal with his trophy James River blue catfish. This specimen weighed 60 pounds.

hey’re big, they’re bad, and now they exceed a hundred pounds. No, I’m not talking about cobia, black drum or even the everpopular striped bass. I’m talking about blue catfish; a non-native transplant that was stocked in selected tidal river systems more than 30 years ago by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. In particular, the tidal James River and its adjoining tributaries.Yes, catfishing is coming of age nowayears and as more and more big fish show up, regional anglers are starting to pay attention to this world class fishery that is right under the nose of millions of ‘back east’ anglers in the Mid-Atlantic. I had the chance to fish with catfishing legend Chris Eberwein on the James along with my son Matt in quest of these big cats. Eberwein has a guarantee for his clients…no citation blue cats (30 pounds and up) then no pay. Pretty good deal, if you ask me. Our first mate for the day was Dustin Eberwein, Chris’s 23 year-old son and a seasoned catfish angler in his own right. Launching out of the Jordan Point Marina a few miles downstream from Hopewell, Virginia, the Eberweins wasted no time in catching gizzard shad with the cast net and the gillnet to use for bait on the big blues. With bait in the box, they went about a mile upriver and set up just upcurrent from a series of underwater humps in about 25 feet of water. It took probably less than two minutes to anchor up on the hole and quickly their heavy baitcast outfits were heaved out with hunks of cut shad. After about ten minutes and a Fishing-Headquarters | Page 50


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS. few tentative strikes, I asked Chris how long do they usually stay on a hole. ‘We’re getting’ ready to leave now’ was the quick response. Dustin yanked the anchor as Chris idled up the Suzuki engine on his Carolina Skiff and we were off to the next catfish hole. This would be repeated at least a dozen more times throughout the day, being prolonged only by the hooking, landing and photo taking of fish. Run and Gun Catfishing The old concept of catfishing on a deep hole on a river and waiting the fish out is not what gets the cats for top area guides like Eberwein. In contrast to old school tactics of waiting on active fish to come to you, it is far better to be mobile and actively seek bluecats from one

spot to the other. As tides change by the hour, certain spots will draw big blues and you have to ‘run and gun ‘em’ as Eberwein says, to stay on top of an active bite. Tidal cats are different from those that are in ‘one way’ flowing rivers, as they have to adapt to the reversing of the tides every six hours. And then again, some spots only produce at a particular stage of an incoming or an outgoing tide. Some holes produce best at low tide, others do well at high tide. I asked Chris how many spots did he have to fish for these blues on the James. He told me that he had currently waypointed 619 spots on the river on his GPS. But he admitted that he only recorded spots that had ‘produced 50 pound or betta’ blue cats’ over the years. Sheesh, I don’t think I have fished 619 places

in my entire life, for all species, let alone just one specie in one river system. Wow! Soon, we pulled up on a ‘spot’ that was just a slight dip in the river bottom in about 20 feet of water. Eberwein pointed out that there was a fair concentration of brush and wood debris that had washed into this area and it was a drawing card for cats. Before we could get all the rods out, one of them was down to the waters edge and my son Matt jumped on it and started a steady ‘lift-and-reel’ tug of war back to the boat. Soon, the first Virginia citation blue cat, a chubby 35 pounder, was netted and flopping in the bottom of the boat. After a brief photo session and a quick release, another rod went down and I grabbed that one, which resulted in a nice 25 pounder.

Nobody gets excited about 20 lb blues in James River country.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters.com

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It should be pointed out that the current Virginia citation minimum for blue cats is 30 pounds. That benchmark is easily achieved during prime winter months, often several times a day, on the James. In the winter of February 2010 Eberwein told me he had a string of twenty days where he had ‘at least one 70-pouda’ every day. Top area guides actually prefer November through early March as the best times for upper end fish. And in truth, most serious catfishermen on the river don’t get too excited unless a 50 pounder, or better, hits the deck. After another thirty-plus cat and a couple of teenagers, the boys decided to pull anchor and look for bigger fish. We hit a few more areas of sunken brush and logs and I was surprised as to how structure – oriented these fish were. Often thought of as strictly fish of the deep, tidal blues are very much attracted to wood cover in the form of fallen, deep trees, washed-in logs and debris or submerged barges or old pier pilings. In our two-day run on the James, we caught some of our best fish in relatively shallow areas that would draw run-and-gun bass anglers. Rocks, Depressions, and More As good as wood can be, Eberwein also likes to fish submerged rock piles. We pulled up on just such a spot and set up quickly and picked up a low thirty and an upper twenty. After a few light strikers, one of the rods took a serious bend and I wrestled it from the rod holder. Initially, the fish came toward the boat, but once it realized it was hooked it made plans for escape. With an incoming tide running at a good clip, the fish was dramatically

Gizzard shad are the prime bait and fuel the fishery for giant tidal blues.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters | Page 52


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw

stronger than any of the others we had fought. Despite the heavy gear and 100 pound test leader, I took my time with this fish that just didn’t want to come up. Cautiously, I would gain line, almost see the fish, then lose line as it took of on a powerful, surging run. After nearly 15 minutes of give and take, I worked the big cat boat -side and Eberwein put the net under a barrel-chested blue that pulled the scales to 58 pounds. An easy personal best for me, I couldn’t wait to bear hug the beast for photos. We ended up with ten cats our first day on the river…not bad when you consider that most folks consider catfishing a summer time gig. We fished with Capt. Joe Hecht on our second day. He took us to portions of the James that were close Fishing-Headquarters.com

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to the city limits of Richmond. By fishing small wing dams and the eddys behind them, we managed 13 blues. Matt and I had one very hectic and exciting double were I got a 44 and he wrestled a 53 pounder, his personal best, on the same side of the boat and literally seconds apart. There are few places where a freshwater angler can fish with a reasonable certainty of landing several fish in any given day that will run from 30 to 50 pounds. The James River blue cat gig is one of those places. Back in March of 2010, my friend Charlie Wallace and I did the blue cat boogie with Hecht and Eberwein and found not huge, but quality fish, in as shallow as two feet of water as 15 to 20 pounders would move up into sun-warmed backwaters when high tide rolled in. At times Hecht admitted that’decent’

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fish, to 40 pounds, could be had in such conditions and it was a lot of fun ‘if you didn’t mind small fish’. Yeah… I think I could put up with that! On that trip, Charlie got the big-fish honors with powerhouse 60-pounder that struck in the last few minutes of the trip. Like most big fish do, the rod just pegged over and screamed and Charlie wrestled the rod out of the holder. Even with heavy gear, big blues can challenge both tackle and fish playing skills of any angler. Charlie kept the pressure on the fish and it literally looked like a small cow coming to the net. After many long, tense minutes, the barrel-chested fish was thumping the deck of Capt. Joes’ Carolina Skiff. It should be pointed out that the blue cat fishery on the James is an almost total catch-and-release


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Photograph by Jim Gronaw

Photo courtesy, Tom Harris - Great Lakes Angler.

HERE KITTY KITTY

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters Fishing Headquarters| Page | Page 5456


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS. gig, due in part to fish consumption advisories that are placed on a variety of species. Many locals eat some of the smaller cats, under ten pounds. Also this is an outstanding waterway for resident largemouth bass, slab crappie, migratory shad, perch and striped bass and top-notch smallmouth bass fishing upstream from Richmond. Big Cat Gear Tackle considerations are somewhat standard across the board for James River cat guides and serious catfishermen in the region. Ambassadeur 7000 baitcasters with 30 to 80 pound mono as the mainline and leader material ranges from 50 to 100 pound mono are popular, as are Okuma and Penn reels that are comparable. Fish finder rigs with 6 to 10 ounces of weight hold the cut shad near the bottom as most use one to two foot leaders with 8/0 or 10/0 Owner or Gamakatzu circle hooks. Portions of cut gizzard shad, steaked or filleted, are hooked with much of the hook point exposed. Rod selection can be a matter of choice. Fiberglass rods of 7 to 7 ½ feet are popular. Heavy or medium heavy Ugly Sticks or Tiger Series rods do well, but the locals all have their favorites. If you have gear for cobia, drum or big stripers then you can likely adapt without too much additional purchase. The standard sinker size for the fish-finder rig is 6 or 10 ounces. As pointed out earlier, Eberwein likes to fish wood, and sometimes that means losing rigs and even losing fish. But it is where they are. He uses 80 pound Trilene Big Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Hard to tell who’s uglier... Gronaw or cat? Game for a mainline and cranks the drag down pretty tight. When a fish pulls drag on one of his rigs, you know you’ve got one of the ‘boys’. By comparison, Capt. Joe Hecht, another top area catfish guide, uses 30 to 40 pound mainline and likes Quantum BigCat rods to do the dirty work. Capt. Hecht specializes in hauling big blues and flatheads out of wingdams and logjams further upriver as the James approaches the Richmond city limits. If you’re looking for some exciting, trophy catfishing you might want to consider a trip this winter to the James. The current Virginia record came from the James and went 102 pounds and 4 ounces. Many hundreds of 50 pound plus blues are taken annually, and the winter months see the bulk of those trophies. They are big, bad and in their own way, beautiful!

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Photograph by Jim Gronaw

Hire a Guide The tidal James is a vast waterway with shallow flats, large embayments, winding channels and large open areas that can quickly turn to whitecaps when approaching cold fronts put 15 to 20 mph winds on the river. Regardless of your boating skill or catfish savvy, you will learn more in one day from an experienced area guide than in a dozen trips on your own. Do the smart thing and contact one of these USCG licensed guides and let them put you on the catfish of a lifetime. These guys can put you on a bigfish trip of a lifetime. EBERWEINS’ CATFISHIN’- Capt. Chris Eberwein, 804-449-6134, www.catfishingva.com FAT CAT GUIDE SERVICE- Capt. Joe Hecht, 804-221-1951, www.fatcatguide.com �


Matt Gronaw with his 53 pound fish. Measured at 49 inches, This mega-fish took a live bluegill.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters | Page 56


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS. Chris Eberwein models the latest in James River blue catfish apparel.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Jim Gronaw plays a cat while Capt. Joe Hecht prepares the net. Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing Headquarters | Page 58


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS. Joe, Charlie and Chris watch a spread of rods on the James River.

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Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters | Page 60


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS. Charlie muscles up his 60 pounder.

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Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters | Page 62


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS.

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I peek over the top of my personal best 58 pounder from the James River.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters | Page 64


THE QUEST FOR BIG BLUE CATS. My son, Matt, and I with a sensational double. My 44 pounder, and his personal best, a 53 pounder.

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Photograph by Jim Gronaw Fishing-Headquarters | Page 66


TRIPS AND DESTINATIONS.

Spring Break Bassin’ Fishing the Sunshine State’s Freshwater Canal Systems.

Include rods within your luggage. Along with the typical party scenes are plenty of excuses for fishing South Florida’s freshwater canals.

Aerial Satellite Photo Courtesy, NASA Fishing-Headquarters.com

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2005 to 2010, I had the privilege of traveling out of Illinois three times for my annual spring break that always began on the last Saturday of February. For three straight years I vacationed in West Palm Beach, Florida, which is located within 60 miles north of Miami; straight up I95. For many individuals, the State By: Andrew Ragas of Florida is most commonly associEditor In-Chief ated with the elderly and retirement andrew@fishing-headquarters.com communities, beaches, tourism, party going, spring training baseball, and Mickey Mouse. However, I went for something entirely differcheduled during the school ent. Each time I traveled to south year each year is a designated periFlorida, my objectives were to take od in which students of high school and college age are rewarded with a a break from regular social life, to full week recess. In some cases, this visit my aunt and uncle at their wincan also apply to adults who also ter home, and to fish the plentiful need to take a vacation themselves. freshwater canal systems that are In popular culture, this period of the home to an infinite amount of anyear is better referred to as spring gling opportunities. The canal systems of Florida break. During my college years from evolved in the early 1900’s as the

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Image of what the south Florida canal systems typically look like - especially the larger basins. Photo was taken from my aunt+uncle’s backyard in West Palm Beach.

state experienced rapid population growth and extensive land development. This was the result of homeowners and investors who wanted to build valuable waterfront properties further inland and away from coastlines. The canal systems today, managed for water control, agriculture, and recreation, encompass thousands of miles worth of fertile and fishable inter-connected water. Some may question my motives for wanting to fish south Florida’s canal systems for three straight years whereas instead I could have gone to the popular Okeechobee, Toho, or Kissimmee lakes, or even taken a charter out on the Atlantic. The fact that my relatives had a back yard full of fish was the basis for my travel itinerary. Florida’s freshwater canals teem with popular gamefish species such as largemouth bass, peacock bass, channel catfish, bream (bluegill), shellcracker (sunfish), and crappie. In addition, the canals in-

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters | Page 70


TRIPS AND DESTINATIONS. nals include lesser known species such as grass carp, bowfin, snakehead, pickerel, tilapia, and four subspecies of gar. The canals are noted to be one of the most diverse bodies of water in the world amongst freshwater fish species. While I could have enjoyed a multi-species angler’s paradise by trying to fish for all kinds of interesting fish during my previous trips, I only focused on one in particular: The state fish of Florida, largemouth bass. My goal for three years was to always reach the magical ten pound mark. When comparing our northern strain largemouth bass to the Florida strain fish, the greatest difference is obviously seen in terms of body size and proportion. The canals are no stranger to this as they are loaded with abundant populations of largemouth bass. The factors that allow for such

great bass fishing are the canals habitat. Both emergent and submergent vegetation are at a premium, as is downed wood, and many channel depressions. With an infinite number of ambush points and hideouts for bass, the canals can be fished in a multitude of ways. You can catch fish all day long by fishing from small craft or from shore. Where I fish, at my relatives 10-acre shallow back yard pool located in West Palm Beach, my best option is to wade out into the shallow waters or fish from shore because I have no access to a boat. Fishing during spring break at the end of February and early March can be a hit or a miss as water temperatures usually dictate the moods of the fish. Two of my three trips were a success, full of numbers of fish and some big fish, while the other was a dud in terms of every-

thing. Patterning bass can be difficult because this season encompasses some of Florida’s coldest and most inconsistent weather of the year. You’d better hope for some warm spells in order to make that spawning period more predictable, and get the fish actively feeding. At this time of the year, water temperatures are normally within the range of 58 to 65 degrees. Largemouth bass are preparing themselves for the upcoming spawn that may occur within several days. The approach to catching bass is rather simple when fishing a long, yet narrow, canal system that contains depths no greater than 6 feet deep. Since shore fishing from one’s property does not offer ample access to multiple spots and large coverage of water, the key for maximizing success is to do the following: Fish early mornings and late afternoons & evenings; avoid midday sunlight

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters.com

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at all costs. My objectives on the canals have always been to keep myself busy with numbers of bass while always staying in pursuit of that personal best trophy. I have always gotten the best results by fishing with oversize larger baits that are traditionally meant for weeds and thick cover.

3/8oz BOOYAH Boo Jig

4� YUM Wooly Bug

One of my biggies from year-1, in March 2007. This 22 inch ďŹ sh fell victim to the infamous white chatterbait.

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters | Page 72


TRIPS AND DESTINATIONS.

Photograph by Andrew Ragas

Like several other Bass, this 7 pounder was caught on the infamous white Chatterbait. I can still remember the fight like it was yesterday. We let them go so they can grow. Since the shallow water and abundant cover requires fast-moving surface presentations as well as weedless and snag-proof methods for the bottom, my most frequently used baits have been the following:

Chatterbaits: Rad Lures and equipped with at least 10 lb. mono and 15 lb. braided superline. I feel Strike King Poisons that heavier action spinning rods enTopwaters: Storm Chug Bugs and able me to fish with more versatility in terms of casting, retrieval speeds, 4 to 7 inch propeller styles: Buzzand lure presentations. baits and Spinnerbaits. To date, I have caught hunPlastic Worms: 7 to 10 inch purple Due to airplane travel and the dreds of largemouth bass from the Culprit ribbontails, and lizards. fact I don’t have available cargo canals. However, roughly 95 perroom for long one-piece rods in the cent of the fish caught have been Craws: 4 inch YUM Craw Bugs motor transportation I am given, the small to southern standards in the and 4-5 inch flipping tubes. gear I am allowed to bring is lim- range of 14 to 18 inches in length. Despite that, out of every 40 or so ited. Creature Baits: YUM Wooly Bug I force myself to bring only fish caught, a small percentage of and Sooie; 6 inch Gambler Hawg. two rods (spinning), and a varied them will be large. My largest bass to date was selection of the baits listed above. Grubs: 5 and 6 inch with weighted My rods are required to be two- caught from these canals in March, worm hook. piece traveling rods, with medium 2007. It measured 24 inches and had heavy actions and lengths of 6.5 to a weight of over 8 pounds. Like a Jig and Craws: 3/8 oz. Nicholls; 7 feet. The reels are size 30 Quan- majority of the bass I catch in south Strike King swim jigs; Booyah. tums with powerful drag systems, Florida, this personal best fell vicFishing-Headquarters.com

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fell victim to a weighted weedless creature bait that was retrieved along the weedy bottom. Besides this one, some other noteworthy fish caught have been in the range of a respectable five to seven pounds. Although I haven’t achieved my goal of catching a ten pounder in the duration of three trips, I will have other opportunities to do so again in the near future. If traveling to south Florida for spring break for any occasion other than fishing, remember that good fishing will always be readily available and nearby. The greatest benefit of it all is that canal fishing occurs near some of the most popular Florida tourist destinations. These waterways might not be the most picturesque or world class, but they offer some of the best bass fishing one could expect in the Deep South.

After the storm - These 5 pounders were caught on a Storm Chug Bug, following a fast downpour. This dynamic duo is nowhere near being one of my most largest from the canals but it shows to you that there are plenty of modest size ďŹ sh like these swimming in the system.

Rad Lures Chatterbait Photograph Photographsby byAndrew AndrewRagas Ragas Fishing-Headquarters | Page 74


TRIPS AND DESTINATIONS. My biggest largemouth bass ever, 24 inches and just a tad over 8lbs. Fish was caught in March 2007 on a jig/creature bait that was worked along the weedy bottom. I remember the ďŹ ght so well and I think my spinning reel drag is still in pain!

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Another biggie - this one is well over 6 pounds, caught on a chatterbait in March, 2008.

Photograph by Andrew Ragas Fishing-Headquarters | Page 76


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ROD AND REEL MAINTENANCE.

D OW N T I M E Invest Time Wisely: Get Your Rods and Reels Working Strong For the Coming Season.

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Many of the people reading this have recently come in from their ice shelter, fillets resting comfortably in their freezer(or belly), and have many an ice fishing related task to complete before their next adventure onto the hard stuff. If you are reading this, and think that this applies to you, if you cant get the sight of fishies on your underwater camera out of your head, then go worry about ice fishing, and read this article later in the season when the ice fixation wears down a little.

By: Bryan Blazek

Fishing-Headquarters Contributor

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f you are like me, your winters are spent analyzing the previous season, preparing new angles of attack for the spring thaw, and examining and repairing your gear. For my first in a series of articles on ‘Down Time’, I will be discussing basic rod and reel maintenance; focusing on tear down and lubrication of a baitcasting reel. I have come to realize that all too many fishermen I speak with either do not perform any maintenance on their equipment, or send it to someone else for service. Fishing reels are precision machinery, (some more precision than others) and proper maintenance and cleaning will extend the life of the product, as well as insure that all components of the reel function properly. That being said, these are not computers or Swiss watches; fishing reels can be taken apart

and serviced with tools commonly found in your household. What it really comes down to is taking some pride in your equipment, and enjoying the quality of a well maintained setup. Today we will look at a setup of mine that gets a lot of use, a Cabela’s Prodigy med. action casting rod paired with a Tournament ZX reel. Now I realize this isn’t a top of the line reel to show maintenance on, however, the steps are about the same no matter what brand or type of reel you are using. Having a good diagram of your reel is nice for identifying parts needed for replacement, or helping with re-assembly, should you mix up your order. The other thing I wanted to point out is that these lower cost reels tend to have looser tolerances inside on the gearing, and there is more room for junk to build up in there, inhibiting smooth action. I don’t know about you, but I dig smooth action. That’s why I take down my reels a couple times a year for a thorough cleaning and lubrication. First we need to gather our supplies. The only thing you may need to purchase for this task is quality gear lubricant and oil. I happen to restore vintage road bicycles in my garage, so I have become comfortable with a particular tube of synthetic lubricant, and usually use either Abu brand gear oil, or have

cheated with some chain lube before. The key to lubricants is keeping corrosion off of tiny internal gears and bearings, and keeping them spinning smoothly.

Step-by-Step Instructions On Next Several Pages. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 80


ROD AND REEL MAINTENANCE. #1 Besides having a reel on hand,

the firt step is to gather supplies. You will need a #1 phillips screwdiver, a techie scredriver, a 10mm wrench (usually), a couple rags, a toothbrush, a can of WD-40 for cleaning, and a pair of long forceps or tweezers.

#2 The first thing we need to do is

to dis-assemble the crank side of the reel. I prefer to do this with the spool still in the reel, but these tasks could be interchanged. The first thing you should do is remove the small phillips screw on the handle, holding the bolt lock/cover on the main bolt. Once removed, you should have access to the 10mm bolt behind. Do yourself a favor at this point, use a proper wrench at this point, and not pliers like a little kid. Pliers mar the surface and make it look like junk, wrenches will give you professional results. Loosen the main bolt and remove the handle.

#3

Next we will need to begin to disassemble the crank assembly. Take caution, and be very meticulous on how you approach this. Take every part off with the same motion, and lay each part in order of how it was removed. Being meticulously organized will save you a headache later. After unscrewing the drag, you will see an assortment of washers and spacers, as well as the clicker for the drag. Be very careful to keep these in the same order by stacking them on your workbench.

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#4 At this point you should have a small assortment of parts layed out looking something like this. Continue to repeat this process for everything you take apart, and it will be easy to put back together.

#5 The next step will be to remove

the spool. A small peice of tape is nice to keep your line on the spool if you are going to reuse it. First we need to remove the side cover. This reel has a button to push as you twist the side plate. My Abu reels have a screw you need to loosen instead of a button, and Shimano uses various designs. Sometimes this can be tricky to figure out, but it is usually some combination of taking something off and twisting the cover.

#6 Next, get a firm hold of the pin in the center of the spool and pull it out. I usually disengage the spool to do this, however I am not sure it is completely necessary.

Once the spool is removed, take a look down in there and you see the gears, as well as dirt and sand that has worked it’s way down into the reel.

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ROD AND REEL MAINTENANCE.

#7 Next you need to remove all screws securing the cover on the crank side of the reel. There are usually hidden screws securing the cover to the frame from the inside of the spool side, as can be seen in the above image.

#8

Inside the cover you will find two bearings that need to be removed,one is the roller bearing, the other is for the cast brake control. Clean these with your toothbrush and WD-40, and lube them. Clean the entire inside of this cover thoroughly (note more sand) I wash this under the faucet. Remove the brake controller by unscrewing, there is usually a small washer in there, BE CAREFUL not to lose anything in here, clean and lube as above.

#9

Next looking down at the gears, you will notice some springs. These need to be carefully removed with your tweezers, cleaned and greased.

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#10 Next we need to remove the drag washers. Pay attention to what direction the washers face, as one side of the steel washer is usually polished to act a specific friction on the drag washer.

#11

Now we should have another cache of parts layed out.

#12 We are now fully dis-assem-

bled to the point where we can start cleaning. Use your toothbrush and rag to remove any old grease from the gears. Clean the entire frame and all surfaces with a cloth to remove gunk and grime. Pay careful attention to spots under gears, under the thumb bar disengagement, and the gearing on the levelwind. Your WD-40 can be used to blast grime and sand from bearings and parts, I usually carry them over to the sink and blast away. Be careful to then clean residue away before re-assembly and final lubrication. A general rule of thumb is: grease the gears, oil the bearings. Photo courtesy, Jim Gronaw.

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ROD AND REEL MAINTENANCE.

#13 The only place we want to

keep clear of grease and oil is the spool and drag assembly. Clean the drag assembly and washers with alcohol to remove any grease you may have accidentally gotten in there during lubrication.

#14 The next few pictures high-

light areas that need to be lubricated and cleaned.

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an exceptionally dirty cork handle I will use a hot cloth when scrubbing it. Check your line guides to make sure they are all aligned properly, and check the condition of the inserts. A loose line guide insert can be easily repaired with a clear epoxy. Hopefully during your own down time, you will have an opportunity to do some maintenance of your own. Working on your own stuff makes you feel really good when you make it out on the water and feel the results of the work you put in. Also, by knowing how your stuff works, you can fix it yourself, and save some money- better spent on hunks of metal and plastic to lose in the river. Stay tuned for another segment coming up as soon as my latest Tackle Warehouse order shows up. Tight lines ices guys!

Follow Bryan’s Fishing at his Fishing-Headquarters Blog!

#15 Now comes the hardest part.

Once you are satisfied with your level of cleaning and lubrication, it is time to re-assemble your reel. This is where you are patting yourself on the back for being so organized when you took it apart. First, get the drag washers back in place, then the springs. Slide the bearings back into the cover, and reassemble the brake control. Slide the cover back into place, and fasten with all screws in correct locations. Now wipe the shaft of the spool clean, and put the spool back in its place. At this point you should be able to turn the spool with the crank shaft, ensuring clean engagement and spinning of the gears. If every-

thing turns fine, reattach the side cover with the brake. You should now be looking at a reel with no crank. Go backwards through your pre-arranged pile of parts to correctly assemble the crank. Torque down the bolt with your wrench and put the lock back on the bolt, and you’re done! Once you have your reel assembled, spin it like you would test it new. Check for any loose parts, or things leftover on your toolbench. If everything is working properly, turn your attention to your rod. I use Windex to clean my fishing rods. I find it to work great at removing dirt and grease from the rod guides, the rod, as well as both cork and foam handles. Usually for

Bryan Blazek, who joined our website in spring 2010, is an avid Bass fisherman and student of fishing. Every day on the water is a learning experience as he fishes to gain insight into the behavior and seasonal patterns of the predatory fish- primarily in the Northern Illinois region. His favorite species to catch are Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass. Mostly you will catch Bryan jigging for bass in some local ponds, or looking for action on his many beloved local holes on the Fox River, near Aurora, Illinois. fishing-headquarters/afterclassbass/ Photograph by Andrew Ragas.

Fishing-Headquarters | Page 86


PLACE YOUR AD HERE. ACCEPTING ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP PROPOSALS. PURCHASE THIS ADVERTISING SPACE FOR A FULL CALENDAR SEASON! Ask to also receive a copy of our 2011 Media Kit.

Contact us at info@ямБshing-headquarters.com


WINTER HOT SHOTS.

Panfish Patrol: Time to fillet!

Photograph by Jim Gronaw. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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A portion of a ‘25-fish’ hole. Genz GillGetter and 1/100 oz hairjig w/waxies did it.

Photograph by Jim Gronaw. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 90


WINTER HOT SHOTS.

Photograph by Mike Goode. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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John Dyers drifting a stone fly on Indiana’s Trail Creek. To read about John’s fishing adventures, you can read his blog at:

http://www.lostandfoundfishingthemidwest.com/ Fishing-Headquarters | Page 92


WINTER HOT SHOTS.

“My dad has really wanted to catch a brown trout for the last couple of years, so he took out guide, Eric Haataja, for an ice fishing trip (and let me tag along). The fishing was pretty slow, but we did learn a lot, and the weather was great. This was our first time ever hitting the hard water and now we are both hooked.” - Zack Wallin

Photograph by Zack Wallin. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Zack Wallin with his first ever brown trout on his first ice fishing trip. The winter brown trout took over 15 minutes to bring in and was caught off of a minnow.

Photograph by Zack Wallin. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 94


WINTER HOT SHOTS.

Ice fishing for trout gives rewards for those who are willing to give it a try! Photograph by Zack Wallin. Fishing-Headquarters.com

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Photograph by Zack Wallin.

Zack and his dad, Kevin Wallin, celebrating the taste of victory with freshly caught trout.

Photograph by Zack Wallin. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 96


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W O R D F R O M T H E E D I T O R.

Issue-2 is now in the books. Did you enjoy reading this? We certainly hope that you enjoyed reading the articles and looking at photos with captions as much as we enjoyed putting this issue together. Over the course of the 2011 season, we hope to continue making improvements to the content, layout, and ideas of this magazine so that we have all seasonal topics of interest covered for a large and diverse audience. We would like to personally thank the individuals and readers who sent us positive, encouraging, and kind messages, and enjoyed reading our first issue that was released on 11-22-2010. Within one month following its release, over 1,000 unique readers and 10,000 visits were achieved. With positive news and outcomes such as this, we hope to eventually make something out of this venture that could lead to a print magazine, job opportunities, profit, and more within the fishing industry. This will be a FREE internet publication. Good things are set to come in 2011. Thank you for reading this second issue of Fishing-Headquarters Magazine.

Andrew Ragas Editor In-Chief, Designer, and Owner.

Questions or comments relating to Fishing-Headquarters Magazine, and if interested in contributing future articles, stories, and photos, or sponsoring and advertising, please contact us at: info@fishing-headquarters.com

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Photograph by Andrew Ragas. Fishing-Headquarters | Page 100


March/ April 2011 Issue: • Spring Walleye Runs. • Backwater Pike. • Trap Bite Bassin’. • Great Lakes Tributary Steelheads. • Coastal Fishing: American Shad. • Plus more!

Expected Release Date: March 15th, 2011.

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Pictured with 20 inch Walleye is longtime member, John Dyers. Photograph was taken in April, 2009. Springtime Walleye Runs are popular within the Great Lakes States as fish by the thousands migrate into rivers to spawn. Our headline article for Issue-3 will be centered on the famed Maumee River, Ohio, Walleye Run.

For article and photo submissions and advertising, contact us at:

info@fishing-headquarters.com

Photograph by Andrew Ragas.

Fishing-Headquarters Magazine  

Volume 1, Issue 2 of Fishing-Headquarters Magazine. Winter Edition 2011.

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