Turtle Flambeau Flowage in Wisconsin offers comfort and Sounds of the Outdoors
Autumn Musky, Walleye, Bronzebacks on the bite with upcoming Fall Colors
By Bob Holzhei
Catching a limit of walleye was expected, however, I wondered if it was the call of a loon that echoed in my mind and brought me back to the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, located near Mercer, Wisconsin.
Our stay at the Gateway Lodge provided a secluded retreat. It located right on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, with a reputation as the Muskie Capital of the World. Gateway Lodge is the gateway to an unbelievable outdoor paradise. Owned by Wayne Riebe and his wife Melissa since 2005, the Riebe’s “love to cook.”
The lodge features two-person cabins/a bath, along with 3 and 4-bedroom modern private homes with two baths. Prices are very reasonable and begin at $100 per night for a one-bedroom, one-bath cabin, and more for luxurious homes with up to four bedrooms for an entire family. Specials are offered throughout the year, for more information, visit their website at the end of this article. It’s one of the finest and most elegant places I have ever stayed at.
Boat rentals include 23 and 24-foot pontoons, plus, there are 16, 20, and 23-foot boats equipped with Mercury outboards. Bait is available too, on-site. You can bring your own canoe, kayak or fishing boat, of course.
The on-site restaurant features a menu that includes lunch and supper favorite, including fish fries, burgers and melt-in-your mouth steaks, as well as additional items that will have a person wonder what shall I have for supper?
The Turtle Flambeau Flowage offers access to a 14,300-acre lake and some additional 26 surrounding lakes with 227 miles of undeveloped shoreline. Blend in more than 21,000 acres of nearby forests offering four seasons of outdoor adventure that include fishing, area campsites with full amenities to 60 remote campsites accessible only by water. There’s more: biking, backpacking, hiking, canoeing, paddling, snowmobiling, and wildlife-viewing in abundance. The woods explode in autumn in a panoramic display of fall colors.
The call of loons across the water from years past called me back for a return trip adding to the outdoor wilderness adventure. Mercer is well known throughout the Midwest as a consistent producer of trophy fish. The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is so similar to the Canadian Wilderness that it is hard to tell the difference.
I anticipate fishing the Turtle Flambeau Flowage for walleye in Wisconsin every time I think about walleye fishing. Tight lines!
For More Information: Gateway Lodge, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 715 476-7878; Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce, email@example.com, phone: 715 476-2389
Although I fished for walleye in the lower Niagara River before, this incredible fishing adventure provided pin-ball action, landing one walleye after another and yes, a limit of walleye was cleaned to take home for meals.
Fishing with Charter Captain Joe Marra who operates Niagara Rainbow Charters out of Lewiston, New York, I not only boated several 6-pound walleyes, but I lost count. When the 16th walleye was netted (yes, number 16), over two dozen walleye had been hooked.
My arms had actually become tired after fighting one walleye after another. Well, I’m 74 but I try to be a tough guy when it comes to fishing, like all my older friends too, because I just want to be fishing. Life is too short. Following each cast, the rod tip began to bounce as hungry walleye awaited the arrival of the nightcrawler tailing the homemade spinner baits which Marra creates. He rigs with a 1-ounce sinker to take the presentation to the bottom and off we go using the current and his motor for position control.
The Marra grew up in the Niagara Falls area fishing the river and has been chartering for over 20 years. He knows the area so well and likes to drop lines upstream of the two power plants in an area known as Devil’s Hole. The water depth ranges from 20-30 feet. We’d drift downstream, hook and land walleyes with a net, then boat back upstream to begin again. Exciting!
“I like seeing the smile on kid’s faces and adults when a walleye takes the bait,” stated Marra.
On this trip, I looked forward to using a new, custom, seven-foot-long fishing rod built for me by Tom Marks of Hamburg, NY. My Abu Garcia STX reel was loaded with 20-pound test braid and had a 15-pound fluorocarbon leader at the end. Marra’s 20-foot Lund boat was powered by a brand new 200 horsepower Yamaha outboard.
We stayed at Niagara Crossing in Lewiston, NY, where…in history, a house near this property served as a midway crossing for people escaping slavery and heading to enter Canada on the other side of the river. “I had a client once who chartered the boat to see the home where slaves were housed,” added Marra.
The fishing trip did not end at the Niagara River, it will remain with me for all time.
The sound of the rushing water in the Niagara River, just awesome. Just then, I heard some music, “The Sound of Silence,” it was playing in the background, “…and the vision was planted in my brain,” and it played on. A new forever role for me from Paul Simon, the song means so much more to me now.
As an outdoor travel writer, I sure enjoy catching these tasty Lake Erie walleye.
The history and vista view of Niagara Falls itself is inspiring, but the thunder and vibration from the falls is simply awesome
Lake Erie offers walleye, perch, smallmouth bass and musky
Lake Ontario offers King salmon, Atlantic salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, and Steelhead
Niagara River offers some of all those species in the Upper and Lower River sectors
By Bob Holzhei
It was a few years ago that I fished Lake Erie from the New York shoreline. It was time for a return trip to not only fish but to revisit the rich history of nearby Niagara Falls, U.S.A.
Niagara Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. Even though I’ve visited the falls before, each return trip is an experience of a lifetime. In addition, I love history, and Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in America. Fort Niagara was established in 1726! It makes me feel young. Costumed reenactments portray men and women dressed in primitive attire of the time during special item events held many times a year. Living history programs and artillery demonstrations take visitors to the park back in time.
Boat tours take visitors near the falls aboard the safety of a boat vessel named, the “Maid of the Mist.”
The “Festival of Lights” draws visitors from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany, on January 6th, each year.
“The Niagara Gorge spans 800 feet across and up to 200 feet deep, where the lower Niagara River flows below. Blend in the opportunity to fish the area rivers, streams, and legendary Lake Erie, it’s an amazing time. The world-renowned Niagara River connects two Great Lakes, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and also offers access to the infamous Erie Canal – the man-made waterway of the 1800s from Buffalo to Albany and New York City that was a big part of the industrial revolution.
What’s new at Niagara Falls, U.S.A.?
“A zip line over the Erie Canal in Lockport and a new improved Marina in Wilson, named Bootlegger’s Cove Marina,” stated Bill Hilts Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director for Niagara Falls Tourism Bureau.
Blend in several new breweries, downtown hotels, and a revamped Niagara Falls State Park, including a renovated “Cave of the Woods.” Outdoor activities have also expanded including hiking, biking, birding, and boating, so Niagara Falls has something for everyone.
The Niagara Falls Region provides opportunities to fish for perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, and Northern Pike.
In the Lake Ontario sector, where the Niagara River makes entry, it offers Chinook, Coho, Atlantic salmon, Lake Trout, and Rainbow Trout.
The Erie Canal Region is noted for slow-moving water making it great for family fishing. Species found there include walleye, northern pike, catfish, and carp weighing up to 20 pounds.
The “River Region” is open for year-round fishing. In the fall, salmon and brown trout lure anglers to the area. In winter, steelhead fishing is popular and spring is the prime season for trout and steelhead in the river. In summer, the muskie, walleye and smallmouth bass provide excellent action for anglers. Professional charter captains are available and take the guesswork out of fishing.
With a smorgasbord of outdoor adventure and fishing opportunities throughout the year, it is no wonder why Niagara Falls and the surrounding area is one of the natural wonders of the world!
FAST FACTS: Looking back over the years
1817-Erie Canal Construction Begins
1859-Hydraulic Tunnel Construction begins
Mid-1800’s: Freedom seekers escape slavery through the Niagara Falls railroad.
1885-Niagara Reservation created-Niagara Falls State Park consists of 400 acres.
1896-Inventor Nikola Telsa transmits electricity 22 miles from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, New York.
1901-Ajjie Edison is the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and survives.
1915-Herschell Carrousel Factory/Museum; the founder of the American Amusement rides & vintage carousel rides.
To request a visitor’s guide: www.niagarafallsusa.com.
Rattlesnake skin fishing rod handle by Master Rod Builder, Charter Captain Tom Marks.
Life is about sharing your passion, making new friends and finding that next…First Cast
By Bob Holzhei
No matter how old you are, there is always a next first cast.
I slowly walked to the pond behind our rental home in Punta Gorda, FL to field test the custom fishing rod I asked a friend, Charter Captain Tom Marks, to make for me. He is an avid outdoor angler from Derby, NY who vacations to Florida in the winter, and he lived just a short morning walk from our location. Lucky me!
Tom orders his rod building supplies from Mud Hole, a rod building and tackle crafting company from Oviedo, FL.
I tied on a Size 2/0 Mustad worm hook with a Mr. Twister Tri-Alive plastic nightcrawler, after Outdoor Writer Dave Barus, from East Aurora, NY showed me how to rig the hook to make the worm totally weedless. Weeds, lookout! Here I come!
The custom metallic red color 7-foot rod, complete with a rattlesnake skin handle, created a “one of a kind” treasure. It was my first cast with a new custom rod. I slowly opened the bail on the STX Abu Garcia Reel and gingerly arched the rod behind me. The bait was cast to the other side of the narrow pond. In that first cast, the line was suspended in mid-air for a moment and frozen in my memory. A motionless flying worm! I hoped a screaming osprey from the nearby swamp would stay where he was. He did.
I fished in my early years, once a year, but only if dad had a good year on the farm. We’d drive just over an hour to Tawas, MI to board a perch fishing boat – The Miss Charity Isle. A love affair with the natural world was conceived on our family farm that was nourished each year as crops sprouted from the ground.
As I got older, I’d ride my bicycle to nearby ditches and adjoining cuts located near Quanicassee, MI to fish for perch from the piers.
As I got older and married, I took my three boys on a charter salmon fishing trip out of Ludington, MI to rediscover the love for once-a-year fishing moments from my childhood. We boated 12 nice-sized salmon. Needless to say, I was all-in. The following spring, I purchased a used 18-foot 11-inch Sportcraft boat. I was hooked, reeled-in and would enjoy a lifetime love affair with the natural world through fishing.
Today, the boat has been stored in a pole barn for the past three years and I suppose I should sell it. Anglers go through stages of fishing, first fishing from nearby ditches, then to cuts, piers and eventually a boat is purchased. I’ve transitioned back to where I began and this summer am again fishing from piers with the first cast of the day once again near my childhood home.
As I returned 70 years later, I was surprised that the landscape had drastically changed. There were no perch or panfish in the area. The perch party boat had relocated to a southern port and was taking folks to fish across Lake Huron to Port Austin, at the tip of the Michigan Thumb. That’s a long way to travel across the lake for fish dinners at a restaurant. Perch could be ordered from various restaurants in the area and the menu clarified, “The perch come from Lake Erie.”
My wife and I camped for a month at a city park on Lake Huron, noticing first that between 12 to 16 campsites were vacant. This popular park was always filled to capacity. After visiting with campers, I found that the park had raised camping rates from $90.00 a month to an outrageous $1,000.00 per month. That just seems like too much for a campsite park with only water, sewer, and electricity. No additional amenities were provided. Internet and cell phone service was only available occasionally (or non-existent). After the first week, I longed for the month to end and will return to the west side of Michigan where Lake Michigan awaits our return.
I suppose it’s good to camp (and fish) at new places from time to time, to determine where my wife and I feel most comfortable taking that next first cast.
I think I can recall every one of those first casts – there have been many. The bottom line, I love to fish and revisit those old memories that helped make me who I am.
Get Ready for your Fall and Winter Hunt during the summer months. Click for How To Stay Safe.
Get ready for hunting “Above Ground” during the Summer Months
Get a full body harness, then learn how to use it
Carry a cellphone or signaling device
By Bob Holzhei
Each year, thousands of hunters are injured in tree stand accidents. In fact, according to the Treestand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA), there are about 4,000 emergency room visits each year due to tree stand falls.
Don’t wait until hunting season arrives to practice tree stand safety. Now, the summer months, are the ideal time to begin practicing to get ready for the fall hunt. When fall arrives, safety measures will become part of your routine.
As I got older, I gave up hunting from a tree stand and purchased a 10 by 10-foot hunting shack and loaded it onto my hay wagon. The insulated shack is heated with a Big Buddy Heater and is comfortable. My wife added, “You can go out there and sleep overnight whenever you want!”
There are a number of tree stand safety guidelines which will help educate hunters and are excellent suggestions to review prior to a yearly hunt.
First – Use a full-body fall arrest harness system, the meets stringent, industry standards. Wear the harness system every time you leave the ground, including ascending or descending from the tree stand. Single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer allowed. Serious injuries including death have occurred each year.
Second – Attach a Full Body Harness System according to the manufacturer’s directions. The tether should have no slack when sitting. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover to your Treestand.
Third – Always “read, review, understand and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.” If questions arise, contact the manufacturer.
Fourth – Always use a haul line to raise your backpack, gear, and unloaded firearm or bow to the Treestand. Prior to descending, lower the equipment on the side of the tree opposite your descent route.
Fifth – Practice using your Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System in the presence of a responsible adult, prior to using it in an elevated hunting environment. Learn what it feels like to hang suspended in the harness at ground level.
Sixth – Have a plan for recovery, escape, and rescue, including the use of a cellphone or signal device for use while suspended. If you are suspended before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape, hunt from the ground.
Approaching the age of 74 the hunting shack provides a comfortable place to hunt!
Ultimate outdoor eating solution integrated into one package
By Bob Holzhei
Our four children, my wife and I, have camped throughout our lives. We started first with a 9 by 9 tent, then moved up to a pop-up camper, then a travel trailer, and finally we purchased a fifth wheel travel trailer with four slide outs. Thing is, maximizing space throughout the years was always a priority, after all, there’s no use packing things that may not get used. That is one reason why I wanted to share some of my experience with those of you just getting started. Where space and efficiency is important, products from GSI Outdoors have met the mission.
My compact 4-person outdoor cookware set includes a 3-liter pot, 2-liter pot, a 9-inch frypan and 2 straining lids. The Pinnacle Camper Set also includes four 14-ounce bowls, plates and mugs-complete with sip-it-lids to complete the package.
For my family, it’s our ultimate outdoor eating solution integrated into one package that easily fits into a backpack too. At under 4 pounds and a wonderful 9 by 9 by 6 compact size, the kids can go on side treks and weight and size are not a factor. I could not believe it either.
GSI Outdoors is in the business of making cookware and dining products that adapt the comforts of home to active outdoor lifestyles at the campsite, cabin and anywhere in between.
They continue to expand their designs, adding additional innovative lines of outdoor cookware, tableware and accessories. It works for us outdoor folks that share a passion to be outdoors and have the additional need “to be small and light.”
When well-built hardware brings people together in the outdoors, I thought you’d like to know about some of the best I have found. You can find their products in many outdoor outlets or go directly online to: https://gsioutdoors.com.
Calypso’s Maiden Fishing Voyage – 106 miles from port in the Gulf of Mexico
Fishing Shark River, Outlet of the Florida Everglades
Four Roaring 350 Horsepower Mercury outboards
Shark On…the Adventure of a Lifetime!
By Bob Holzhei
“She was beautiful, gorgeous, erotic, and brand spanking new! Her curves and shape attracted the attention of fishermen everywhere and captured their hearts like falling in love for the first time. She was a virgin about to embark on her maiden voyage into the Gulf of Mexico ‘far beyond the sight of land,’ 106 miles from the dock at Sanibel Island Marina.
She was a mermaid in the water; I fell head over heels in love with her when I first saw her. As I boarded her, my heart rate increased in intensity. She took my breath away. A first touch, was followed by an embrace which led to anticipation in passion for the climax of the story! One never forgets falling in love for the first time.
“I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau as a kid, he’s a legend. His boat was named Calypso,” stated Captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct Fishing Charters.
“Cousteau was a French undersea explorer, researcher, photographer, and documentary host who invented diving and scuba devices, including the Aqua-Lung,” Kane added. “The television special – The World of Jacques – ran for nine seasons on ABC television network and had millions of followers. I had to name my new boat Calypso, it was only right.”
Calypso in Greek mythology was the daughter of the Titan god Atlas. Calypso symbolized forces that divert men from their goals, filled with intrigue and seduction. She was a nymph who fell in love with Odysseus after he was shipwrecked on her island of Ogygia. He refused to stay with her, so she detained him for seven years until Zeus ordered her to release him.
Captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct Fishing Charters is the best charter fishing captain in the state of Florida. We had fished with him before. My wife and I were invited to join Captain Ryan on the maiden voyage and it was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Calypso is 42-feet long and has four 350 Mercury horsepower outboard engines mounted on her stern. Loaded and fueled, she weighs close to 14,000 pounds at the dock.
Matt Hatrick, first mate, played such an important role on board. A wealth of fishing knowledge too, he rigged the lines and baited our hooks with 12-15 inch long Spanish Mackerel and Mullet, and some lines with mullet, then became a momentary picture star holding up various fish for pictures. He was fun to be around.
“I’m excited about this boat. It is in the forefront of boating technology. The forward angle and shape of her hull make the boat more gas efficient. I average 1 mile a gallon at a speed of 40 to 55 miles per hour, that’s pretty good for a boat this long and this heavy. It means comfort for all aboard and that why I bought a boat like this, for the clients,” added Kane.
The 42-foot tri-hull catamaran provided a smooth ride out to the fishing grounds, with one to three foot waves feeling almost non-existent.
Kane uses Dan James Custom rods and 60-pound line mounted on his Shimano reels. As we went fishing for sharks, he used size 8/0 Mustad hooks, strong and sharp.
“Fish on!” Interrupted the conversation. The rod bent double! It was a big fish! It was fellow outdoor writer, Dave Barus with the next turn to reel a fish in. He was having trouble fighting the fish, the line ran out as the fish was so big, so strong and not about to give up in the first minute.
“Want to take a turn and fight the fish Bob?” Asked Barus.
“No, I’ve seen too many fish lost when transferring the rod to another person,” I replied.
Following the 26-minute fight, a large six-foot shark came to surface as it neared the boat, however it made a number of runs diving down deep into the Shark River in the direction of the Gulf waters and out of sight.
Finally, the brute was tiring. A rope was put on the tail to haul the Bull Shark aboard for pictures. The Bull Shark was 6 to 7 feet long, we estimated the weight at about 100 pounds.
Barus told me he was sore and tired after the Bull Shark was boated. I believed him.
It was a fantasy fishing trip out that was real, pinch me, in the Gulf of Mexico. I will relive this entire adventure long after we are back home to Michigan.
Anglers from all over the world come to Port Sanibel Marina, FL to fish with Captain Kane. I can verify, the fishing adventure of a lifetime awaits you. He can run 200 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico to where no fish has ever seen a hook, and back to the dock, all in less than a day fishing. Same day trophy fishing! This represents capability that no other charter fishing boats currently can offer from southwest Florida: time and distance, and unparalleled fishing fun.
5 hour Offshore Fishing Trip, we caught more than 50 fish!
Cost was so affordable, all gear and bait was provided
Enjoyable day, the captain cleaned all the fish!
By Bob Holzhei
The fishing action in the Gulf of Mexico was like playing pinball. It was non-stop action baiting the hook and dropping the baited hook down to bottom, then reeling the line in three full turns. Bang! Boom! Hang on to the rod!
Dave Barus, an outdoor writer from western New York and I booked a charter with Captain Terry Heller. The boat was launched out of Placida, FL and we fished about 8-1/2 miles off shore, far beyond the sight of land. There were no other boats in sight as three-foot waves grew in intensity to about five feet. We were alone in the Gulf of Mexico and became part of the natural world that day, bobbing and bouncing around like a little cork for a few hours. The chop didn’t hurt the fishing.
A Lowrance GPS guided us to Heller’s many hotspots where he has been successful before. In each, a small buoy was dropped to mark the area and the anchor was released to hold the boat where fish showed up on the fish finder.
The bait was dropped in 50-57 feet of water, then pulled up from the bottom three full turns on the reel.
“Fish-on!” I yelled as the hook was set.
“Fish-On!” Yelled Barus.
After my first Key West Grunt was boated, Heller hurried to the other side of the boat to assist Barus with battling the fish. Ocean fish fight much harder than expected and a couple of times Captain Heller had to hold onto the rod as I lifted the rod up and reeled line in on the down stroke. “I gotta start a harder workout each day (note to myself).” The rod tip jumped again and again, and setting the hook hard was advised by Heller because the various saltwater fish out there have such tough mouths.
Captain Terry Heller baited the Eagle Claw size 3 hook with a variety of baits including shrimp, cut squid and sardines. A 7-1/2 foot Sussex rod with a 300-400 series Penn Reel had 20-pound braid line on it.
Heller started fishing with his father at 65 years ago when he was 5 years old and has been a full-time professional fishing guide for 5 years in Florida.
The center console walk-around 24-foot Polar boat was equipped with a 225 horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard and also had an 80-pound torque Minn Kota trolling motor on the bow.
Red and Gag Grouper were caught, Snapper, Sea Bass, Trigger fish, Tom Toms and Key West Grunts. Wow! Many fish were released back in the water because the season had not opened yet, but we caught more than 50 fish in 3 short hours of bottom dipping with bait in the right places. Caption Heller cleaned, filleted and bagged the fish for us, all part of the trip cost.
“When you like to do something you love, it’s not hard. I like taking 10-year old’s fishing, especially my grandkids. No only do they learn fast, but they also have patience. They really like catching big Groupers,” concluded Heller.
We fished for $165 apiece. A great value and a fun trip. For additional information, Captain Heller says you can call him at 941-587-4460.
Rod length, sensitivity, power, flex…all these factors matter
Setting the hook, it’s the best feeling with a rod you helped design
Rattlesnake skin and other custom handles personalize rods to the individual
By Bob Holzhei
“The sensitivity in any fishing rod can be determined by placing the tip of the rod against your throat while another person holds the other end of the rod. At that point, the person who has the tip of the rod against their throat begins to talk and at the other end, the vibration can be felt,” says expert angler and custom fishing rod-maker, Tom Marks, who vacations and fishes in Florida during the winter months.
Marks has been building custom rods for the past six years. “It usually takes me about 48 hours or three days to build a rod,” says Marks.
“I ask the perspective customer which type of rod they want me to build for them, whether it’s a spin casting rod, an all-purpose rod, and also ask if they are throwing crankbaits, need a worm rod, like to drop shot, if they are skipping docks, tossing jerk baits, Carolina rigs, need a bottom-bouncer for walleye, jig-flipping and pitching, or if they use a frog topwater bait or other top water bait. They’re all slightly different,” stated Marks.
“The purpose for which the rod will be used helps me decide on the power and speed of the rod. The power, which is how stiff the rod needs to be and the speed, which refers to how much flex is in the tip, both affect the style efficiency. Flex is the amount of bend in the upper 1/3 of the rod. The faster the rod, the more sensitive it will feel. For crankbaits, or moving baits which are trolled, a slower rod is sufficient because the strike or bite is much harder. The slower rod helps absorb some of the initial shock of the bite and also keeps the fish from throwing the hook,” added Marks.
Marks custom decorates his precision fishing rods according to customer wishes. Nylon and metallic threads can be used on the guide wraps, and many other variations. Marks also uses real rattlesnake skin on the handle and other decorative skins and wraps in the split grip and fore grip.
“I place a decorative thread band 12 inches from the front edge of the handle. Decorative work might include thread work cross-weaved with multiple colored threads or chevron patterns. Occasionally I marbleize the colors,” added Marks.
Marks began purchasing his rod building materials after he saw a Mudhole display at an outdoor show, located in Oviedo, Florida. Mudhole is a Rod Building and Tackle Crafting Company that can provide helpful process instructions and all the supplies for rod building. Visit www.mudhole.com or call 866-790-RODS.
Marks explained the steps in building a rod. “After the materials are ordered and arrive, I first take the order out of the package,” Marks replied while laughing. “First the spline in the rod is found, this is the backbone of the rod. I take the rod and put tension on it, while rolling the rod. The area of the spine will snap or hop. The spline is the heaviest part of the rod. The theory is the spline is found in one spot, it provides a keyway for guide location and better angler control later,” stated Marks.
Second, Marks determines what kind of rod he will make. The handle or grip is put on the rod. He reams out the handle to fit the blank. Then Pro-epoxy paste is put on to secure the handle.
Third, the guides are put on after measuring and marking the rod blank for the spacing between the guides. Mudhole provides suggestions on where to place the guides. Marks runs a line up and down the tip to insure the guides are lined up. He also uses a laser beam to insure the guides are correctly aligned. After the guide are mounted, protective clear epoxy is added.
Fourth, two additional coats of clear epoxy are put on and then 400 grit sandpaper removes any imperfections. Marks then field tests the rod to assure quality.
“If I catch a big fish while testing, I know that particular rod is a real good one,” kidded Marks with a grin.
“Building fishing rods is a great hobby and I never stop learning. I began fishing with my dad when I was 4 years old, and when I was 10, I really got into fishing and loved it. I learned from my father how to fish for walleye, since we lived within walking distance of Lake Erie near Derby, New York,” stated Marks.
I tagged along with Marks as he fished with the rod and learned as I watched his fishing strategy from a distance.
“The presentation is the key. The bite is what keeps me interested. When I set the hook – it’s a great feeling. There’s a rush of adrenaline! I could fish all day for the bite,” concluded Marks.
For more information: e-mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org; 716-997-6919.
Fishing Fun, Seashells, Sightseeing and Dolphins near Port Sanibel, in Southwest Florida
Bobbers, Shrimp, Speckled Trout and FEW SUPRISES made for a VERY RELAXING DAY
Screeching Drags, Fully-arched Rods, Tight Lines & Good Knots
By Bob Holzhei
The 36-foot Contender was impressive as we walked down the dock right after sunrise. There were three 250 horsepower Yamaha outboards on the stern and we were met with a giant warm greeting from Captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct Fishing Charters. The targeted species for the all-day charter included Kingfish, Mackerel, Barracuda and Cobia, according to Kane.
I had fished the Gulf of Mexico for the first time, years ago, as one of a dozen outdoor writers selected from the United States. The group was chosen from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers and included a writer from Outdoor Life Magazine in New York.
The opportunity to fish the ocean out of Port Sanibel, Florida, was exciting. Fellow outdoor writer Dave Barus, his wife Rose and my wife Shirley, all joined up for the all-day charter fishing trip. The trip had been cancelled twice due to high seas and on this day, the winds did the same, but we went anyway. The seas started at two feet, but eventually rose and crested to five-foot levels, which resulted in pulling the lines and fishing the shelter between two islands closer to shore.
Our trip began with a slow troll out of Port Sanibel Marina and then the fun started, as Captain Kane increased our speed to 30 mph. The three outboards roared, though they were just at half-throttle. The scent of the ocean salt water, the memory of over-cresting waves and the spray from the wake slapping the boat was frozen in time. As we arrived at the fishing grounds the lines were let out 90 feet behind the boat.
“I use 15 pound braid and 60 to 80-pound test fluorocarbon leader line spooled on the Shimano reels. These are mounted on my Dan James Custom Rods that I use because of their ability to hold up under the challenge of big, bad, ocean fish,” stated Kane.
“The Dan James Custom Rods do exactly what they’re intended to do. Other rods break under the pressure. The Shimano reels are ergonomically correct and anglers have an easier time with these reels, they’re a step above other reels. The way the reel is made, the size of the handle and the ease of using it, is worth the cost,” added Kane.
Kane field tests several other Dan James Custom Rods that are in the prototype or development stage prior to these going into production.
The wind speed rose yet again to 35 mph and Captain Kane was forced to head for calmer waters. We boated towards the safety of islands and dolphins surfaced, following us for the fun of jumping in the boat wake. Time stopped again and I also became air-born, but unlike the dolphins, I would not reenter the ocean. Rather, I would take flight on the never-ending memory of such an incredible experience. The dolphins were only three to four feet away! Their eyes and expressions were talking to me.
Eventually, we stopped to fish in a sheltered and secret Captain Kane spot. We caught speckled ocean trout and these have a slot limit between 15 and 20 inches under Florida fishing regulations. In addition, Shirley caught a handsome Bonnet Head Shark and we released it unharmed.
“Fish on!” Rose Barus yelped from the front of the boat.
I grabbed the rod that was in a rod holder right next to me. The drag was screaming! This was a bigger fish as line screeched and shouted from the Shimano open-face reel. I tightened the drag on the reel, but the fish was too green yet in its attempt to free itself from the hook. After 15 minutes or so, my arms and shoulders tired and I asked Dave Barus to take over. Barus moved from side to side of the boat as the fight continued bow to aft.
Finally we saw the fish, it was not a fish! It was a Stingray! The 40-45-pound Stingray stretched over three feet in width. When it first surfaced, I got my first look at it and it dove down deep again in an attempt to free itself. It surfaced a number of times, going under the boat in an attempt to get loose. Barus put his finger on the drag spool in order to add slightly more manual drag and keep the reel from burning up. The spool holding the line was actually hot. The battle lasted over 45 minutes before a gaff hook was carefully placed to bring the Stingray aboard where the venomous stinger was cut off by Captain Kane. The captain provided us with instructions to place the stinger in an empty water bottle for now and then later, add bleach until the stinger turned white. The venom would be neutralized then and safe to handle. Another stinger would grow on the ray.
“Get over here Bob, and get in the picture,” stated Rose Barus.
Following some quick photos, the Stingray was released into the ocean and swam back into its natural habitat.
“Southern Instinct Charters offers a world-class fishing adventure off the waters of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. Tarpon, Kingfish, Redfish, monster Snook, Wahoo, Tuna, Red Snapper, Cobia and sharks are additional species that Captain Kane will target at your request. Inshore and offshore fishing adventures are offered, in addition to shelling and sightseeing trips.
The memory of the day-long fishing charter will live on forever in my mind and I will once again experience fishing the Gulf of Mexico in the future to escape the frigid Michigan winter for this warmer climate.
Fishing the Gulf of Mexico was the fishing adventure of a lifetime and I plan now to return again and again to re-live the permanent memory of this experience. I will fish with Kane another year and it is no surprise to me that his open date list is short.
For anyone from across the country, if you seek the fun of a new big fish adventure, choose Southern Instinct Fishing Charters. It’ll be trip of a lifetime.
"Legends of Black Lake monsters supercede pictures and tales of monster walleye that exist here. Secrets are many," says Bob Holzhei, story writer.
Devils Lake, Part 2: Legend of the Lake Monster
Walleye, Northern Pike, Crappie, lots of fish here
Lures and Baits of all sorts Catch Fish on Devils Lake
By Bob Holzhei
Early European-Americans termed the lake “Bad Spirit Lake” because of high salinity water, making it unfit to drink. With summer, mirages were often seen across the water and the lake was referred to as “Spirit Lake,” as reflected in the Spirit Lake Indian Tribe.
Published reports of a “Lake Monster” date as far back as 1894, while Native American legends go back much further about a Loch Ness serpent in Devil’s Lake.
Whether fact or fiction, stories of the Devil’s Lake Monster have been reportedly sighted and recounted in many newspapers, including the New York Sun in 1984, the Bismarck Tribune in 1895 and the Wichita Beacon in 1904.
All descriptions of the serpent indicate it has alligator jaws and glaring red eyes, a tail stretching to 80 feet long and it usually appears at sunset during August. The serpent moves slowly, often seen about a half mile from shore and reported to circle the lake twice a day. A slimy green color, the serpent’s motion sends gentle surface waves along from head to tail with the wake visible as it pushes along.
Early accounts of the Devil’s Lake Monster may be sensationalized accounts reported in newspapers in order to draw tourists to the area. Whether fact or fiction, my camera did accompany me on a guided fishing trip to Devil’s Lake in August. Today I can attest that our guide did fish more than a half mile from the mainland shore. Hmmmm.
While we chuckled about the fabled monster chronicles, Devils Lake in North Dakota is an angler’s dream and is open to fishing all year long. Ice fishing is especially fun here with heated huts and the aroma of smoked sausage on the grill.
No matter the time of year, multiple species here keep every angler in action for most of the fishing day. Foot-long perch are common, walleye in all-sizes – from eaters to wall hangers are the usual resident and non-resident angler focus, northern pike ranging from 5 to 10 pounds are the largest predator fish, while white bass, panfish (crappie and bluegill) and trout, provide a variety of fishing opportunities at Devil’s Lake. It’s fun to fish here.
A variety of popular fishing strategies include slip bobber fishing, rigging, jigging, casting, trolling with crankbaits and enticing hungry fish with bottom-bouncers when the usual hot bite is off, which is not very often. We caught over 50 walleye each day of our fishing.
The Devil’s Lake Basin is the second largest body of water in North Dakota after Lake Sakakawea. Once the lake reaches a high level of 1,458 feet, it flows into the Sheyenne and Red Rivers, though overflow occurred only twice in the last 4,000 years. Historically the area is the site of the Dakota people who relocated there as a result of The 1867 Treaty with the United States.
The lake stretches over 380 square miles with an average maximum depth of about 47 feet. Lots of room for fish and fishermen, and the Devils Lake monster.
Hold onto your rod. You never know, you could become a legendary friend.
For more info on where to stay or who to call for guide services, contact: https://www.ndtourism.com/cities/devils-lake.
Mike Schoonveld caught our largest walleye of the day, but we hooked more than 75 fish, some nice perch too, in a half-day on the water. Imagine that.
Devils Lake is located in East-Central North Dakota – 1000 Shoreline Miles of Walleye Access
More than 100 Fishing Guides are Certified to provide Services on Devils Lake
Best Walleye Baits: Jigs, Crankbaits, Crawler Harnesses
By Bob Holzhei
There are 105 registered fishing guides who regularly host avid anglers to fish Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, many of them will find the fishing adventure of their lifetime. High expectations? Not really, especially when a person considers there is steady fishing action success experienced throughout the year, including ice fishing. The 180,000 acres of Devils Lake provide more than 1,000 miles of shoreline.
Walleyes were targeted the first day of fishing on Devil’s Lake, however, there are northern pike, perch, crappie, panfish, trout and white bass among other popular angler species.
The annual Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writer’s annual conference was held in September at Bismarck Mandan, North Dakota, and writers from all over the country discovered history, fishing, hunting and wonderful people. While there, an invitation was extended by Tanner Cherney, a host with the Devil’s Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to join him and others at Devil’s Lake to experience their excellent walleye fishery.
My wife Shirley and I arrived late at Devils Lake, but we were just in time to meet local guide groups and experience the walleye fishing on nationally renowned Devil’s Lake.
Captain Al Freidig, our local guide for the afternoon put my fishing partner, Dave Barus, and myself on the walleye. A total of 28 walleye were caught, many in the 12-14-inch range that speaks well for the future fishery here, all of these were caught and released, and we kept four for the table.
Crawler harnesses with nightcrawler bits on number 2 and 4 hooks were tied-up using 14-pound Berkley Fireline, these produced the steady action. Fenwick rods paired with Abu Garcia reels provided for easy fun in catching these fish in 18 to 27 feet of water. We used white spinner blade colors on the harnesses with the hooks baited with a half-nightcrawler. Bottom bouncing over a rocky structure near drop-offs was the fishing strategy for the day.
A professional fishing guide for 18 years, Freidig is sponsored by Devil’s Lake Tourism and he knows his stuff. He was entered in the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame in 2015 and is still active in lake access management, as well as maintaining boat ramps and cleaning stations Tobe free of charge and open to the general public. Freidig says, “Hang on guys, you’ll enjoy my 20-foot Ranger Fisherman and 250 horsepower Merc.” He zoomed us across the open lake to reach a variety of fishing spot in record time.
Freidig’s boat rule is a good one for future conservation promotion, as he asked us to only keep walleye over 16 inches in length, allowing the smaller eyes to grow over the next year. We sure agreed to that idea. If you haven’t been here yet, put it on your bucket list.
As a result of waterfowl and wetlands management, hunters and people enjoy
Waterfowl and Wetlands Emerge as Conservation Heroes
Cooperation and Passion feed Understanding and New Science
Ducks, Geese, People…all need Wetlands
by Bob Holzhei
The novel, The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, was published in 1939 and two years earlier, at the height of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, dried up wetlands across North America, resulted in plummeting duck populations.
The novel described the story of human unity, love and the need for cooperation. However, the effects of the stock market crash in October 1929 lasted long and the Dust Bowl created a sense of desperation as folks moved across the country and away from their homes.
In the midst of hopelessness and despair, an idea for an organization was conceived in New York City when waterfowlers met in 1930. They saw a need to raise money to preserve and maintain wetlands across the United States. The original organization was called More Game Birds in America Foundation, which established a 10-year plan for increasing upland game bird populations. The Federal Government created many wildlife refuges at that time focusing on flyways and refuges, thus creating breeding habitat in the North as well as migration and wintering habitat in other areas. Eventually the flyways became super flyways.
Discussion of the future of wildfowl led to wildlife management which was in its infancy stages. State and federal agencies became involved as a new science began, which was pioneered by Aldo Leopold, a professor of game management at the University of Wisconsin. Other colleges and universities also began developing courses in wildlife biology and management.
Suggestions for modernizing the name from More Game Birds in America Foundation to simply Ducks was made, however in Canada, corporations are legally designated as “Limited.” So the name didn’t fit perfectly, as the organization did not want populations of Ducks Limited. Thus, the name Ducks Unlimited came about.
In 1934 the first duck stamp was issued and the money generated was earmarked for duck habitat.
Ducks Unlimited was established in North America in 1937 as dried up wetlands during the Dust Bowl resulted in decreasing duck populations across the country. Ducks Unlimited emerged as a grassroots organization which was volunteer based consisting of members who were conservation-minded and outdoor enthusiasts.
The vision seemed unattainable as the idea was conceived. Perhaps the thought would settle in the dust and become buried. That did not happen.
As of 2017, the Ducks Unlimited annual report indicated 14 million acres of land have been conserved since the founding of the organization. The “Rescue our Wetlands” campaign was funded by donations from supporters and organizations across the United States.
Wetlands are crucial for many reasons. According to Ducks Unlimited, “Wetlands filter drinking water and refill ground water sources, prevent flooding, protect coasts from hurricanes, and provide recreational opportunities for birds, hunters, anglers and boaters.”
The despair from the years of the Dust Bowl described by Steinbeck transformed as a need for cooperation and led to the emergence of Ducks Unlimited.
Over time, The Grapes of Wrath became a beautiful vineyard, thanks to the efforts of Ducks Unlimited.