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Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Tie a Uni Knot - Big Game to Power Pro

9/29/14 Update: Well, the uni knot test ended poorly yesterday. The knot failed and I lost my hook, inline lead, hair rig, etc. I was not casting anything heavier than normal. The knot held up for 10 or so casts, but eventually failed. :-(

9/27/14 Update: I tested my strategy of fusing the 15 pound test Trilene Big Game to 30 yards of 50 pound test Power Pro yesterday. It casted pretty well and I landed a nice 9 pounder on it. As I need to replace the Power Pro on my other reels, I'm going to use this strategy. Instead of 4 new spools annually and occasional replacement spools of Power Pro throughout the year, using the Big Game in conjunction with the Power Pro should save me $150 - $200 a year.

I just finished spooling up a test reel with 225 yards of 15 pound test Trilene Big Game monofilament fused with a uni knot to 30 yards of Power Pro braided line. I think I may have put on too much monofilament and not left enough room for the Power Pro. If the first try doesn't work, I'll just make adjustments and try again.

Vomit Corn for Carp Fishing

9/29/14 Update: I tested the "vomit" corn on one rod. I put it straight on the hair rig and used the same Panko and cream corn pack bait that I always use. I didn't get any activity on that rod at all, until I switched it back to my normal flavored pineapple flavored corn I always use.

I boiled up some corn several months ago with intentions to use it in my Panko ground bait this summer. I failed to realize how far a 5 gallon bucket will go for carp bait. I still have 2 1/2 gallons of the boiled corn. It's starting to stink something fierce.

I've been reading online about using "vomit" corn for carp fishing. The boiled corn I made is starting to stink so badly it does in fact smell like vomit at this point. So it ought to be very productive as carp bait at this point, if that is a legitimate qualifier. We'll find out tomorrow.

I have another day off from work and will spend it at a local lake enjoying this early fall weather. I plan to use the corn on a hair rig exclusively on 1 rod. If that rod catches carp, then I'll consider the experiment a success. If I catch carp on the other rods, but not on the "vomit" corn, I'll consider the experiment inconclusive pending further testing.

Wish me luck.

September Sunshine Carp Session

Today is my last day for carp fishing this September. October is just around the corner and last year the cooler temperatures yielded 2 new personal bests. But first things first...Here are a few pictures of some carp we caught today at a local lake.

It was a great day to be outside today
First fish today

Second fish today
Close up of the second fish

Biggest fish caught today

I loved the colors on this fish

Close up of the release

Back in the water, ready to add a few pounds before we catch him again some day

It's back to work tomorrow, but we have plans to fish a new spot on Saturday that holds some large carp from time to time. It's in the Ann Arbor area and relatively close by, but I've never had a chance to fish there before. I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fish Weights

I posted a picture to a Facebook carp fishing group recently of a fish my wife caught. It was a very nice fish. A fish I would have been very proud to catch myself. The fish weighed 24 pounds and 2 ounces.

Someone posted a comment on the picture insinuating that the fish did not weigh that much. I didn't really think much of it at the time, but the more I think about it I'm bothered by his comment. The comment has since been removed by the fellow who made it, but that doesn't mean he didn't really mean it.

I do use a hand held digital scale, but I regularly ensure it's accuracy by weighing a 15 pound kettle bell that I have on hand. The kettle bell weighs in at 1 ounce below 15 pounds on my digital scale.

If anything, I under weigh the fish I post to the web. My Resistance Tackle sling weighs 1 pound and 10 ounces when it's completely dry. So when I weigh a fish I subtract 2 pounds when the sling is dry. If the sling is wet, I weigh the fish first and then re-weigh the sling after returning the fish to the water and subtract the difference. The sling is heavy from the water absorbed when returning the fish to the water. Most of the time I just round the weights down to the nearest pound for the sake of simplicity unless it's close to a new personal best.

For the fish in question yesterday, I am guessing the photograph caused the commenter to question the fish's weight. But what the commenter didn't realize is the fish would not hold still long enough to snap a high quality picture with our cell phone. The fish had one thing in mind - returning to the water as quickly as possible. If the fish is wiggling when the picture is snapped, the tail generally bends forward or backward, which distorts the true size and length of the fish.

Some fish cooperate and we get quality pictures. Some fish don't cooperate as much. They are only fish after all and we catch them because it's fun; it's exciting and we enjoy showing them to friends and family.

I post pictures of the big fish and the small fish a like. Whether I catch a 9 pound fish, or a 24 pound fish; I enjoy it the same. I am not a sponsored angler. I don't have a professional photographer follow me around to take pictures of my catches. Those that know me understand that I do not have a big ego; so I have no reason to say a fish weighs more than it really does.

I hope this clears up any doubts any past or future readers have about pictures of fish I post and how much they weigh.

Here's a blooper picture of a 9 pound fish I caught yesterday. I don't remember what I was looking at, but it must have been interesting.

First fish caught using Trilene Big Game fused to Power Pro with a uni knot

We do our best to get high quality pictures, but sometimes lighting and background plays a big part I the picture quality. It's generally a bad idea to take pictures with a water background like in the picture above. In the interest of time, we still do it sometimes - especially for average size fish.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Personal Best for Linda - 24 lbs 2 oz

It was a wonderful fall day in Michigan and we headed out to our favorite big carp fishing hole today near Lake Erie. I arrived at 7 a.m., got things set-up and had 3 rods in by 8 a.m. Linda joined me about 9 a.m. Her rod went in shortly after arriving rigged up with her favorite bait -- a pineapple flavored pink pop-up dumbbell.

Up to then I had 2 hook-ups, but landed neither.

We were down to 3 alarms, so Linda's rod rested on an inexpensive rod holder from Wal-Mart. Those rod holders work well (I used them all last year exclusively), but the downside is a need to keep a close eye on things to make sure you don't miss any carp runs.

It didn't take long for Linda to get a run. It started innocently enough. Linda was gaining ground quickly. Then the fish moved a little to right. It looked like it would tangle with my left rod, but then the fish turned back to the left. Linda kept reeling. The fish turned right again and did in fact tangle with the line on my left rod.

At that point I grabbed the net and put it in the water. The fish was nearing the net, but decided to make a hard right turn again and actually tangled with the line on my middle rod. Not content to make a mess with two of my lines, he made a hard left and then swam straight toward the bank looking like he aimed to "beach" himself.

He flopped a few times doing his best to escape the hook, but by that time I had the net in position and secured him. It was a very nice fish and I knew right away that Linda had just caught her new personal best common carp on her pink dumbbell pop-up bait.

Linda can't pose the fish very well, so I am posing this one for her - 24 pounds 2 ounces.

Here's a picture of the release for the big boy.

I caught a small 9 pound common carp a little later I the day.

My little 9 pound fish was tiny compared to Linda's catch

This sling from Resistance Tackle has been one of my favorite purchases and work very well
A here's a shot Linda took while I returned the 9 pounder to the water

Friday, September 26, 2014

Catch More Fish With Sharper Hooks

When I started carp fishing I lost a lot of hooks and line to snags. Based on my inexperience I made a lot of beginner mistakes that caused many of the snags. After awhile I became sensitive to the money being spent on hooks and braided line.

Hooks for bigger carp cost more and likewise the braided line is about 3 or 4 times the cost of monofilament line. So I starting cutting corners to save money. Instead of using new hooks I re-used old ones. You don't have to use new hooks every time you fish, but the chances of catching fish increase when the hooks are sharp.

I was given a hook sharpener by a friend. At first I didn't use it. I figured sharp is sharp, right? Wrong. Real sharp is real sharp.

I run my hooks over the sharpening stone about every 3rd or 4th cast now; and I am catching more fish. It could be coincidental, but probably not.

Courtesy Rapala.com
The hook sharpener in the picture sells for $7.99. If you don't misplace or lose it, the sharpener will last for years and years. And if it improves your catch rate by 10%, that's a significant number of fish per year.

For example, I am approaching 100 carp for the year. A 10% increase accounts for 10 fish and over 5 years that's a potential 50 additional fish than I may have caught without the hook sharpener.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fantastic Day at Ford Lake

I had today off from work and spent it at a local lake with a large population of common carp. This was my 3rd day of fishing out of the last 4 days. Here in Michigan it's going to get cold soon, so I want to spent as much time as possible fishing while the weather is still cooperating.

I caught so many fish I lost count. I didn't get pictures of all of them, because the action was fast and furious for 90 minutes or so. I would land one and immediately get another run. I had three doubles today and couldn't keep up with all the fish. I lost 2 fish in the process of landing those doubles. But one of the doubles stands out above any of the doubles I've landed. Check out the pictures below and see if you can tell which fish I'm talking about.

17 pounds
Close-up Swim Away

One of many I took after my photographer had to leave
In the net
Another after my photographer left
Another net shot
15 pounds
My first mirror carp, 14 pounds
 I have seen people catch mirrors at Ford Lake, but after catching 60 - 70 common carp from the lake this is my first mirror carp. This was the first fish caught during a double run. I wish I'd had more time to enjoy my catch, but the alarms were screaming.

If it hadn't been for another fisherman who snapped this picture for me, I might not have been able to land this nice specimen. I was trying to land 2 fish at once. Luckily, this one didn't get away.

Another net shot landed shortly after the mirror above. This was the smallest fish caught today.

The day ended with another double run and I landed them both.
 As I started to pack up supplies to leave I caught these two commons during a double run. The larger fish tipped the scales at 15 pounds.

12 pounds
That last picture was taken earlier in the day and was the 2nd fish I caught today. I really like the scale pattern on this fish.

Overall today will go down as one of the best days of carp fishing I've ever had. I've caught more numbers before, but all but two of these fish were caught after my helper/photographer left for the day.

It was good to meet one of my readers who happened to be fishing nearby today. He landed some doubles today as well. Between the two of us I think we caught 20 - 25 carp today.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Carp Fishing Live Action Video

Catching Carp, River Rouge Michigan

We headed out this morning to try a new spot. The big fish haven't yet arrived at the normal spot, so I thought today would offer an opportunity to fish some new waters. Chances of rain are also near 90%, so I decided to stick a little closer to home.

We found a nice spot with shore access and were set-up by 8:20 a.m.

I got the first 2 rods in quickly. While working on the 3rd rod, the first rod got a run. By the time I set everything down and walked to pick it up, the run stopped. I tightened the line a little and returned to cast the 3rd rod. Before I could cast, the first rod got a run again. I set the 3rd rod down and before I could pick up the first rod the run stopped. I hesitated a few seconds, but picked it up anyway and cranked it a few times. I had a fish on!

It turned out to be a little guy, but little guys grow up to be big guys someday so I enjoy catching them just the same.

3 pound common carp

Within 30 minutes, I had a second fish.

6 pound common carp

The rain clouds moved in and out for the next 2 hours. There were several false alarms with the rain starting and stopping; starting and stopping. We had a few more mini runs, but no more fish were caught.

When the fish weren't biting, Linda found a way to entertain herself at my expense.


And here I am surveying the situation

A bank of nasty looking clouds rolled in so we called a day shortly before noon.

Bank side view of today's spot near the Rouge River

If the weather cooperates, I'll be out fishing again tomorrow somewhere.

Hopefully, I don't go anywhere that looks like this:

This Rough River tributary was looking pretty rough this morning
after the strong rains last night.

The possibilities for productive carp fishing here in Michigan are plentiful. Someday I'll head back out to this spot when things calm down a little more.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Carp Fishing Session

I had a day of vacation, so I decided to spend it fishing for carp. It was a perfect day with calm winds, a beautiful sunrise, calm water with a smooth fog on the water early in the day.

Sunrise shortly after 8 a.m.
I am a big fan of pineapple, but today I used grape flavoring for the first time. I was surprised by the strength of the scent, but the strong grape flavor and odor yielded this nice 17 pound carp.

17 pounds

A little while later I caught another nice sized carp that was very thick around the middle, but skinny in the tail section. As the carp lay in the net I actually thought it had a bent spine. Do fish get scoliosis?

Bent tail
The tail straightened out nicely when I posed it for a picture. If the fish ever grows a tail to match its middle section it would probably add another 5 pounds in total weight.
14 pounds
 A short time later I landed my 3rd fish of the day - a nice 9 pounder.

9 pounds

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fourth Tip for Catching More Carp

Last year I used to mix up my ground bait for a carp fishing session before leaving the house. I mixed 2 TBSP's per can of cream corn. Also, I used to mix up 2lbs. of oatmeal all at one time. Needless to say it dried out, before the session ended.

Photo courtesy ShopBettys.com
This year I have been mixing my flavors into my ground bait after arriving at my favorite fishing spots. I mix it in smaller batches, which reduces the tendency to dry out. I've also been using much more flavoring per can of cream corn. I think the smaller batches creates more intensity of flavor in the ground bait as well.

I firmly believe this small change in methodology has added several more carp to my fishing totals in 2014.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thinking Positive to Catch More Carp

Many carp fishermen are a little superstitious. Some have a favorite hat, shirt, socks, shoes, boots, rod, reel, line, bait or other gear that they are absolutely convinced increases the chances to catch carp. Sometimes it's easy to dismiss these superstitions as meaningless and ineffective, but maybe there's a lesson to be learned that will help us all catch more carp.

A few years ago author Rhonda Byrne wrote a phenomenally popular best selling book called The Secret. It's a positive thinking book along the lines of Anthony Robins, Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill many others. In fact, while at Greenfield Village today, I flipped through a book written in the mid-1800's that focused specifically on how to use positive thoughts to live a better life and be more successful.

There is a popular positive thinking guru who writes a blog and hosts webinars telling us that we all manifest vibrations that float through the universe and influence our lives positively or negatively by changing our spirituality and impacting our personal fate with these good or bad vibrations.

Elite athletes use mental imagery to see themselves jumping higher, running faster, throwing farther, and more accurately to achieve victory. Baseball, basketball, football, golf...you name it; it's prevalent in sports at all levels. These days it's even being taught in Little League by some of the more progressive and dare I say successful coaches.

Another train of thought is that such positive thinking is kind of hokey, that it doesn't really work because in the end only God can help guide us to success and we as individuals have little to no control over anything.

I'm not writing this to favor one theory over another, but I think there is something to be learned in this intellectual exercise that will help us all catch more carp.

During a fishing sessions yesterday an acquaintance of mine spoke about his ability to literally look at his fishing rod and "will" a fish to bite. We all kind of chuckled when he said it. I have to admit that I sometime "hope" that it's possible to will the fish to bite; and I spend a lot of time staring at my rods, but I can't point an instance where it's actually happened according to my "instructions". It usually happens at times when I least expect it.

For example, one day last year I fished for 4 hours after work without a bite. After I packed up all the equipment and 2 of 3 rods I caught a nice sized carp at the precise instant that I started to retrieve the 3 rod and leave. During a session last Saturday something very similar happened and I caught a very nice 23 pounder. Just last night, after a very difficult day on the banks, I was helping a friend who had a double run and two carps on the hook, and got a run on my own rod catching a nice catfish.

In my personal examples, I was completely relaxed and had already resigned myself to the possibility that I might leave without catching another fish. I wanted to catch a fish. I badly wanted a fish to bite, but ultimately I was o.k. if it didn't happen. I was Zen - as my wife sometimes calls it. The pressure was off. My negativity was released; and then positive things happened.

Many times while fishing I'll be reading the newspaper, surfing the internet on my phone, or talking to my wife and paying absolutely no attention to my rods; and then get a nice fish on the line(s) (or even 2 at the same time not long ago).

What are my conclusions?
  • Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to catch fish.
  • It's easy to overthink things.
  • When fishing is slow we overcompensate sometimes and stray from the normal things we do that have worked in the past.
  • Mistakes cause more mistakes. Sometimes we might be better off packing up and going home vs. enduring more painful time on the bank.
  • We generally catch more fish when we least expect it.
  • We often try so hard not to hit a well-known snag when casting that we cast directly to it.
  • We often try so hard not to tangle our lines when fighting a fish and we tangle them anyway.
  • We often try so hard to make the perfect bait and we add too many ingredients and actually do more harm than good.

My own goals:
  • Put more fun back into fishing
  • Enjoy time outdoors in the sunshine and good weather because winter's on the way
  • Learn from mistakes; but don't dwell on them
  • Enjoy the small fish equally as much as the large fish
  • Enjoy the catfish equally as much as the common carp/small mouth buffalo

Candidate for October Discovery Month for C.A.G.

I think I'm going to give Pavilion Shore Park on Walled Lake a try during October Discovery month for C.A.G.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Common Carp and a Catfish

Today was one of the toughest days of fishing I've had in quite some time. It was especially difficult for me because I was getting a lot of bites and runs; but I only landed two small fish. I hooked 7 fish, but lost a bunch due to hook pulls. I was experimenting with shrink tube. My only logical conclusion is that the shrink tube was rigged incorrectly causing the hook pulls due to poor hook penetration.

I also snagged 5 times in one of my favorite spots on the lake. I have never snagged in that area before, so I was either lucky or something has been purposely submerged in that spot during the past week or two, since I last fished that particular spot.

This small 5 - 6 pound carp came early
This small channel catfish came later in the day

This guy's been playing in the mud

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Great Camera for Fabulous Carp Close-Ups

This camera/lens combo is probably overkill for most carp fishermen and fisherwomen, but if you are the kind of person who absolutely wants the highest quality equipment for every job, then look no farther for your carp camera needs.

Sony Alpha SLT-A99V Full-Frame SLR Digital Camera

  • Full Frame 24 Megapixel resolution
  • Uncompressed Full 1080 HDMI® output
  • Up to 25600 ISO Range sensitivity
  • World's first Dual AF system10
  • The World's Lightest Full Frame DSLR Camera

Sony SAL-85F14Z 85mm f1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T Coated Telephoto Lens 

  • 85mm f1.4 telephoto lens boasts professional performance for portraits and close-ups
  • Astonishing sharpness at fully open aperture
  • T* coating to reduce flare and increase contrast
  • Smooth, visually pleasing background effects
  • Focus hold button for full creative control, auto clutch to stop manual focus ring rotation

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

3rd Reason I Started Catching More Carp in 2014

I discovered imitation sweet corn on the internet carp fishing discussion boards and decided to buy some try based on the recommendation of a friend who fishes for carp. I store my "fake" maize in my flavored "real" maize container.

Available at BigCarpTackle.com
(Photo courtesy Big Carp Tackle)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day at the Lake Catching Carp

It was a pretty slow day at the lake. There were four of us fishing and 3 carp caught. On the plus side though, all the carp were bigger than 17 pounds.

I caught this nice 20 lb. 3 oz. specimen early on and hooked two others I didn't land.

20 pounds 3 ounces

This fish fell for a piece of yellow maize tipped with a piece of fake fluorescent orange maize.