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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Biggest Fish of 2015

Here is a picture of my largest fish caught in 2015 - a 24 pound common carp caught on Halloween.

It's going to be several months before I can get back out on the banks, but at least I have my pictures to tide me over in the meantime.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sonik 6000 FS Reels One Year Later

I purchased the Sonik 6000 reels on a promotional sale last year and have used them for 1 full season at this point. I thought I'd post my impressions of them after catching 140 carp on them this season.

I agree that the sales information posted on Carp Kit is accurate. Here it is again in case you need it:

A superb new bait-runner style reel, with a super smooth trouble free operation and sleek black cosmetics. Supplied with two spools, they feature S-curve Oscillation for even line lay, instant anti-reverse, front and rear drag, balances twin handles, thick Aluminum black bail arm, Titanium coated anti-twist line roller and a 4.6:1 gear ratio, which recovers a full 87cm/34 inch of line per turn of the handle.  
  • 5+1 Stainless Ball Bearings
  • High Strength Composite Body/Rotor
  • Instant Anti-Reverse
  • S-Curve Oscillation for even line lay
  • Line Recovery Per Turn of Handle - 34inch/87cm
  • Balanced Rotor
  • Balanced Twin Handle
  • Titanium coated
  • Anti-Twist Line Roller
  • Thick Aluminum black bail arm wire
  • Free spool feature
  • Sensitive sealed drag
  • Gear ratio 4.6:1
  • Supplied with 2 graphite spools, capacity of mm/m 0.30-460 0.35-340 0.40-260/lbs/yds 15-375 18-340 22-225.
  • Reel Weight - 460g

These are sturdy reels. They look good and they produce as advertised. I have snagged hooks with them occasionally and jerked, yanked and ripped to free the snag and the reel did not falter. I even tightened down the drag once reeled until my hook bent with no obvious ill effects, although I don't recommend you do what I did.

I like the black finish on the reels and it has worn well with minimal scratches. The only reason there are any scratches at all is because occasionally I got a little excited and dropped the reels when unhooking fish.

I'd buy them again if I needed new reels. I think they are a good intermediate reel for people who are getting serious about catching lots of carp on a regular basis.

Sonik 6000 FS

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fishing Bloopers Video

As anyone who has ever tried to take a video with their cell phone can probably attest, the first few times trying to use video on a new phone is a little tricky. I did the best I could with this one. Taking the video ended up being the easy part. Posing the fish and then trying to narrate the results proved to be even more difficult.

Maybe you can relate. I would love to see fishing blooper videos from others who would be willing to share them. We can all use a laugh or two now and then.

Carp On, Carp On, Bang a Gong

I have truly enjoyed the prolonged fall this year and certainly took advantage of the extra chances to catch some fish. I had the day off from work, so after checking the forecast and seeing 60 degrees I headed out for what will likely be my last carp fishing session for 2015.

It's always a risk to fish this late in the season. It's a fine line with water temperatures that will prompt the fish to remain active. With the colder evenings the water is getting colder and it's inevitable that the bite will slow down before too long. Last night we had air temperatures in the low 30's. When I arrived at my spot today, the air temperature was 33 F.

I was fortunate to catch 9 commons today. Most of the fish ranged in the 8 to 10 pound range with a few larger fish for good measure. The biggest fish today weighed 22, 20 and 16 pounds.

Here are some pictures and a couple of videos of my captures.

22 pounds and change

20 pounds and change

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Carp Photo Gallery

This slideshow includes a few of my carp catches in 2015.

Nice Looking Girl

After spending the dark and gloomy winter months indoors, hiding out from the rainy, sleety, snowy and miserable cold and eating lunch at the company cafeteria I always look forward to spring and warmer temperatures so I can eat my lunch outdoors.

There is something about springtime that renews the soul. The sunshine, the warm gentle breeze, budding flowers and trees all heighten expectations for good things happening and this year was certainly no different. It didn’t take long before my annual habit of eating my bagged lunch at the local park kicked in again. It was a nice way to escape the conference calls, questions from management, complaints from customers and questions from employees that reminded me why the job paid so well.

I had a supervisor several years ago that liked to remind me that if the job were easy, he could hire the janitor to do it for $5 an hour. Luckily I earn more than that, but unfortunately he was right, it is not easy.

City parks are a flurry of activity in springtime. Senior citizens walk lap after lap around the “loop” to get some exercise, landscaping crews mulch, trim weed and mow grass, co-eds from the college with their IPods arrive after morning classes. There are housewives walking the loop with cell phones to ear, grandmothers and father, mom's and daughters, babysitters and other caregivers of every age, shape and size bring their preschool kids to the park to work out some of the childish and nervous energy before putting them down for their afternoon nap in exchange for a few hours of quiet time and maybe get the dishes washed or a few loads of laundry cleaned and folded.
I always choose a picnic table near the parking lot, but very near the lake to enjoy my daily ritual. It offers a nice view of the deeper water near the spillway, but it is also close enough to the walking loop for people watching.

I saw her the first time a few weeks ago and she was beautiful. Long, lean and good looking; she was the best I'd seen in ages, but definitely a shy girl. She would hang out for a while and I’d watch her, but then bolt toward the other side of the park on the shallow end of the lake where it was covered with lily pads and cattails concealing the view. No amount of neck bending, torso twisting, or eye squinting would make it any better. I could only hope she’d be there the next day again. I started looking forward to these daily meetings from afar and dreamed of the day I’d make my move and see her closer up.

I decided to try again on a Saturday in early May. Spring transitions into summer way too soon and with the rising temperatures she may go elsewhere in the heat. The time had come to take control and go for it or regret the missed opportunity and what might have been.
Countless nights awake thinking about her until I fell asleep. I dreamed of her a lot. The dreams made it all seem so vivid and real, but the morning alarm signaling the pending sunrise returned me to reality. I offered my bait and waited hoping this would be the day I finally caught her.

It didn't take long before the planning was rewarded. I caught her - all pre-spawned 33 pounds 11 ounces of her. She was my new personal best.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Leveraging Fishing Information for Mutual Benefit

Short cuts. The easy way, not the hard way. Sure things. It's what we all want. Its human nature to want those things. We don't desire to spend time with trial and error methods, when a short cut will do the trick. And short cuts can potentially save us quite a bit of money that we won't need to spend on things that will not work.

It's what we secretly want from fantasy football picks. Girlfriends. Career advancement. And on and on and on. We want to know something that others haven't noticed. A tidbit of information that helps us get an edge or a leg up on our competition. But of course most of us would never lie, cheat, steal, or do anything illegal to gain the advantage...at least I wouldn't; because it's just not worth compromising my values and ethics. But I can't speak for everyone else.
It's no different with carp fishing. We want to know what rod, what reel, what bait, what hook, what flavor, what maize, what color, what lake, what river, what location, and on and on. It's a never ending quest.

Why spend years learning through trial and error when we can take a short cut and get results much faster?

I'm not going to twist this around and try to convince you that we should all want to learn on our own because its more rewarding or fulfilling. Others might disagree with me a little. I know some folks who disagree vehemently.

We learn from others and others are more willing to share their special knowledge more freely if we offer something in return. We leverage the experience of an older brother or sister. A father or mother can provide the benefit of their past experiences as well. Or we can pay for lessons to learn a new skill whether its guitar, piano, singing, cooking, performance driving, etc. But it doesn't always have to be money that is traded to gain this knowledge. We can trade knowledge for other knowledge. I'll teach you how to fish if you help me change the brakes on my car, as one example.

Another alternative is to share fishing information directly. Share results with others because they share them with you. Leverage each other's experience. But using these methods requires a lot of trust in the one(s) you are sharing with. It requires like-mindedness and respect.

I joined a carp fishing club online to leverage information via a membership. In return for $10 I gained access to member only information, social events, fish ins, discussion boards and local carp fishing contacts. It cut several years of trial and error off the learning curve. I'd recommend joining to anyone who wishes to learn how to catch large common carp or buffalo.

The club will only take you so far, however; because like many organizations I've belonged to it does have some limitations, but there is still a lot of value in belonging to those kinds of organizations.

And there is value in cultivating your own local friendships, contacts and alliances. I have friends I fish with who share information with me because I share it with them. We have an informal alliance and mutually benefit. Our alliance doesn't have a name, it's not a club, it doesn't require membership, it's not a competition, it's a common interest and friendship based on a hobby that we all enjoy.

I'd like to see more of that.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fishing for True Giants of the Depths

If I ever relocate from Michigan back to Florida at some point in the future I am definitely going to start grouper fishing.

Improve Your Health, Start Fishing for Carp

By most accounts, I live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. I work indoors. I sit at a desk. My daily work is more mental than physical. At times it's very stressful, but there are no physical aspects to it whatsoever.

When I was several years younger I loved to run, ride my bicycle, walk for miles, play basketball, etc. But that type of activity halted once I had surgery on both of my knees several years ago. Those years of physical activity put a huge strain on my knees and now I have degenerative arthritis in both knees.

But exercise is not always physical. There is also mental exercises that provide fantastic benefits too.

The nature of fishing for carp requires physical exercise, mental exercise and a certain amount of quiet time where you are doing next to nothing while waiting for the fish to take the bait being offered.

As I continued carp fishing into the second year and now as I head into my third year it became clearer and clearer to me that the quiet time means almost as much to me as the time spent fighting and landing fish. I have spent the last several weeks trying to pinpoint what it is about the quiet time that is so attractive.

I now understand that the quiet time on the bank while carp fishing equates to meditation. The benefits of meditation are scientifically proven.

Here is a list of some benefits that I have noticed:
  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Improved concentration
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Better sleeping habits
  • Improved decision making
  • Improved mental strength
  • Improved mood
  • Improved creativity

LiveAndDare.com published an article that lists many more benefits as well.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

November Carping Session Provided 9 Common Carp

I wish I had some out of the ordinary story to share about my fishing session today that would make this story more interesting like catching a 40 pound mirror carp, a triple run, a thirty fish effort, a couple of 30 pounders, a new personal best, a girl in a bikini, a 75 degree temperature Indian Summer day, or something else to keep you interested, but these pictures contain none of those items. But they do depict my opportunity to spend the day fishing with my faithful carping buddy Bill Wazelle at our favorite fall carp fishing spot near Lake Erie.

I arrived at 5:45 a.m., off loaded my gear into the little red wagon, and proceeded to my chose spot on the bank. I got everything set up and had all 3 rods in by 6:40 or so.

Number 1.jpg
20 pound common carp

Things started off well with a nice 20 + pound fish shortly before 8 a.m. in a spot that has yield 2 prior PB's for me, so I was excited at the possibilities. A second fish in the upper teens fell for my peach flavored maize dipped in 4 seasons 3D powder within 20 minutes.

Number 2.jpg
Upper teens common carp

I caught a 3rd and 4th fish after re-baiting the rods about an hour later.

Number 3.jpg

I was happy to catch a 4th common carp, but size was definitely headed in the wrong direction with this little 5 pounder.

Number 4.jpg

Number 5 joined the party a little later.

Number 5.jpg

And then I got number 6 on my third rod and as soon as the fish hit the net, number 7 sent the alarm screaming. Without Bill there, it would have likely been a one arm paper hanger moment (or Bad News Bears if things went badly). Both fish weighed in a little more than 14 pounds.

Number 6.jpg

Number 7.jpg

Numbers 5 and 6 Double.jpg
Twin 14 pounders

 The biggest fish of the day weighing more than 22 pounds sounded the alarms a little later on. We actually weighed it with two different scales because the fish looked much bigger than 22#'s to us. The second scale confirmed it was a little lighter than we thought.

Number 8.jpg
22 pounder

By this time it was 1 p.m. and there was still plenty of time to get the PB I was hoping for. If had a couple fish I lost to hook pulls trying to net them around 2 p.m. and then the sun decided to go hide behind the clouds for the rest of the day and fishing action slowed dramatically and it actually started raining for a while.

I did manage to land fish number 9 before packing it up and heading to the house.

Number 9.jpg

We have had mild October and November weather in 2015 and I'm grateful for it. The fishing luck has provided several quality fish for me too. I am sure the weather will return to normal Michigan ranges soon and fishing will slow to a crawl around here. I am going to enjoy it while I can, but today may turn out to be my last outing for 2015 unless we can hold onto 50 degree temperatures for another weekend. I am not holding my breath, but I'll take what I can get.

Friday, November 6, 2015

What Carp Does This New Spot Hold?

I will have to wait for spring to find out, but there is ample food as evidenced by some other large gamefish caught at this location.

My new secret carp fishing spot (LOL)

Carp Fishing Video

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Carp Killer

Patrick put the GMC Sierra in reverse and eased the trailer hauling his top of the line fiberglass bass boat down the boat ramp like he’d done 100’s of times. He put the truck in park as the trailer’s rear wheel rolled into the water’s edge. He winched the boat off the trailer and into the water, then tied it off so he could return to park the truck and trailer. The morning was shaping up to be a great day for fishing.

He returned to the boat and fired up the 200 horse outboard motor, circled the boat 180 degrees and thrust the throttle forward. The boat was humming at full speed within a few seconds. The wake slammed onto the boat ramp as he left the launching area and proceeded to the main lake.

Fifteen years ago, Lake Wannabee had enjoyed a reputation locally as the Holy Grail for bass fishing. There were three professional tournaments and numerous other amateur level events hosted annually that raised thousands of dollars for local and national charitable organizations.

Patrick grew up fishing the lake. He joined his grandpa almost every Saturday morning when the weather was hospitable from the age of 8 for several hours on the water. They’d take the fourteen foot aluminum jon boat and its puny 9 horse outboard to fish the outer edges for blue gill, crappie, and catch an occasional bass or channel catfish. Using night crawlers for bait, they’d cast out a bobber about 10 feet from the boat toward the shoreline and wait for the bobber to drop below the water line, jerk the line slightly by moving the rod tip upwards, reel like hell and land the fish. It didn’t much matter what they caught, but that they caught something. Anything would do. It didn’t much matter, but it was a way to get out of the house and spend time with grandpa.

By his 17th birthday, he’d saved enough money earned mowing lawns to buy the first boat of his own. It was a ragged out flat bottom painted flat black. The guy selling it said he used it for duck hunting. It was ugly as hell, but he didn’t care. It was a boat and it meant he could fish on his own anytime he wanted. Many times he’d head out in the late afternoons during daylight savings time months and every Sunday after church during the fall of the year and even some winter weekends as long as the lake wasn’t iced over.

He traded up to an aluminum V-bottom and then to his first used fiberglass boat with a real live well. He fished his first bass tournament in that boat and even finished a respectable 9th in the event. Truth be told, he should have won the tournament. He’d spent more time fishing every nook and cranny of the lake; more than the other fifty-plus contestants combined. But with their sponsorships for tackle, rods, reels and a few who were pro staff for the big three boat manufacturers who also provided sponsorships to include fully rigged bass boats, he was outgunned.

And now ten years later he’d been a pro staff angler himself for two of the same three bass boat manufacturers. They were practically throwing money at him at times hoping for a few minutes of precious TV time; a priceless product placement worth its weight in gold or a least it’s weight in plastic or silicone so prevalent with the manufacturers of popular bass lures. It was a good gig for those lucky enough to get the opportunity.

All the time on the water, traveling the country fishing the professional bass touring series events had been hard on his marriage.

Patrick married Kelly two months after high school graduation. She was voted homecoming queen as a senior and named most likely to marry a redneck by her classmates. He was definitely redneck, but what the hell; he was her redneck after all. Besides they’d been going steady since 5th grade. They were the “it” couple throughout high school and getting married was almost an afterthought. It just happened, as everyone expected.

They lived simply the first couple of years with Patrick preferring to spend any spare money left over at the end of the month on fishing equipment instead of saving up for better living conditions, clothes, groceries, or a better car for Kelly. When she’d suggest a purchase for her convenience, he always resisted preferring instead to prioritize everything toward fishing.

She had to admit, he was good at it. He was getting paid to fish, something he’d been doing for free two-thirds of his life. His first win at a $10,000 to win out-of-state event down in Okeechobee, Florida turned into a nice second honeymoon. They left Okeechobee Sunday night after the final weigh in and arrived at Boca Raton a few hours later. They got a room at a beachfront hotel and spent a week lounging around the pool and on the beach watching the waves rolling in from the Atlantic. He won the next three professional tournaments he entered and used the money buying a second bass boat, a new 4 x 4 to tow it with and even bought a little house for the two of them.

Through the years she’d always played second fiddle to fishing. Fishing paid the bills, but for the past few years, money from fishing was slowing a little.

Patrick pulled back on the throttle and let the boat settle in the water as it neared a shallow bay on the north end of Lake Wannabee a full 3 miles from the launch ramp. It’s where the bass came to spawn. Lately he’d been spending more and more time in this area of the lake than years past. He’d need a calculator to count the numbers of prize winning bass he hauled out of this honey hole. Three of the keepers he caught here during the bass tournament a few years ago, clinched the tournament and the $25,000 purse. He won enough to pay for the new hair plugs to cover up his balding head and replace the veneers on his upper and lower teeth. He needed to look good in the winner’s circle, on the TV commercials his sponsors insisted he be in and for the occasional out of town rendezvous becoming more and more common as he spent more and more time away from home. With the slowing economy the big money tournaments were fewer and farther between and Kelly didn’t like spending so much time away from home anymore. She knew the deal; keep the fisherman happy and the checkbook stayed fat and happy. She sure as hell didn’t mind spending the money he won.

His favorite fishing spot was cooling off lately. In year’s past, fishing this area guaranteed a 7 or 8 pound fish or even two or three every fishing trip. Something was definitely up and hurting the fishing. And it wasn’t only in this area of the lake. It was getting harder and harder to catch a trophy sized bass in the lake period. There were rumors some of the manufacturers were considering pulling out of the sponsorship deals on the annual pro tournament. And with sponsorship drying up, that would put an end to local pro tournament events on the lake requiring even more travel to events farther from home.

Some of the locals said the slower fishing might be caused by the algae blooms that were becoming more common each year. The theory was that with more housing development near the lake and a couple of luxury resorts catering to out of town bass fishing weekend warriors.

Who could blame them anyway? If you got the dough to build a mega mansion you ought to have the right to fertilize the grass to keep it green. Run-off? The water’s got to go somewhere right? If it’s near the lake, it’s logically going to run into the lake. Right?

The way he saw it, the realtors and developers were making money from his reputation anyway. It was his fishing success nationally that was bringing in the weekenders wanting to fish where the pro’s fish anyhow. They should be paying him a commission.

The development could be causing the algae blooms, but little could be done about that. Patrick had another theory. It was caused by the freakin’ invasive species - German carp - that were taking over the lake. You could hardly spit off the boat these days without the spittle hitting one of them.

Everybody knows carp eat bass eggs during the spawn. He’d met one of the biologists from the university once and asked him about the carp eating bass eggs. The biologist was not really definitive with an answer, but he said it couldn’t be ruled out, but he didn’t really know for sure.

Who cares if they really know for sure. Who knows anything for sure anyway? If it couldn’t be ruled out, then that was enough for him.

But he had a fix for them freakin’ kraut fish. He had some control over them. Damn jack wagon mother… Errgh! He was getting all worked up just thinking about it. Time to get to work.

The boat had drifted 10 feet from shore and sat in two feet of water. This area was always good for some of the larger carp that seemed to school nearby. If bass spawned here then it stood to reason carp probably did too. But who really knew for sure? All he knew is the German carp were costing him chances at some prize money. And what if the damn carp took over other popular bass fishing lakes? How many more tournaments were in jeopardy?

Those carp are not going to jeopardize my livelihood. Stupid trash fish. Stupid bottom feeders.

He took the compound bow from storage and selected an arrow.

It’s the biggest ones I’m after. If a 5 pound bass spawns 2,000 eggs, how many eggs does a 20 freakin’ pound carp spawn? 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? With that many carp spawn, those bass don’t stand a chance. How’d the carp get in this lake anyway?

He preferred broad heads on the arrows rather than the quick release variety. In his experience the broad heads provided more penetration and a cleaner kill.

Those carp have thick skulls sometimes. But everyone knows you’ve got to shoot the carp just behind the gills.

He steadied himself in the boat and trained his eyes on the water below.

Where are those mothers…? Here carpie. Ahh, there you are.

Come to daddy.

Let it  fly! Got him!

In a matter of a few hours, Patrick killed more than 30 carp – the smallest of them weighed 22 pounds – which is an average sized adult carp in most area lakes and matching the weight of the largest largemouth bass ever recorded caught in the state during the depression era.

A few weeks ago he mentioned to Kelly that he’d been out shooting carp with bow and arrow. She started asking questions about what he did with all those dead carp. He could tell she didn’t approve. She’d never questioned the bass he caught, because the bass were caught and then released. In the tournaments, there were penalties if the fish were not brought to the weigh in alive. Aware that a dead largemouth bass could cost an angler a big pay day, she did not approve of killing fish – even carp – and just throwing them on the bank for the coons and buzzards to scavenge.

Later that day he arrived home, unhooked the trailer and headed into the house. Dishes in the sink remained in sink, unwashed from the prior night’s dinner meal. Laundry lay on the couch where it was placed after removal from the dryer earlier in the morning. An empty bag of potato chips and empty container of sour cream dip lay on the foot rest.

Why should he be surprised? Did she ever do anything anymore?

He checked the basement workout room. He checked their bedroom. The bathrooms. Nowhere to be found. He found her outside later on lounging in the pool on a large floating lounger sun tanning in a pink bikini. The blue colored lounger had cup holders on both armrests. She had a margarita in one and a daiquiri in the other.

Did she even own a one piece suit? Didn’t she know she’d outgrown that bikini at this point? It’s a good thing the pool was in the backyard. The neighbors don’t want to see that.

And then it happened again, she started in with the third degree about the carp.

Did he throw them on the bank? Did he leave them for the coons and buzzards again? Why’d he kill those poor little innocent fish? It’s barbaric she said. You’re a monster she said. Why did he shoot the biggest ones first?

Didn’t she realize those poor little innocent German carp were jeopardizing the lifestyle she’d grown so accustomed to?

I bet it’d be a different story if I don’t keep bringing home that prize money and endorsement checks. That ungrateful little b….

He headed out to the garage and pulled the bow and broad head tipped arrow out of the boat. He walked through the gate into the pool area. Took up a position, steadied the bow, drew back the arrow, took deliberate aim, and let it fly.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Carp Fishing Video

I made this video on Halloween while fishing for carp near Lake Erie.

I apologize in advance that the carp is out of the frame for part of the video. I didn't have anyone to help take the video and had to prop the phone up on a 5 gallon bucket I use to store my ground bait and particles.