As summer comes to an end, our fishing trips become more limited in the Northeast. We spend much of our time in the woods doing a little hunting and preparing for the upcoming ice season. Right now is a great time to go through your tackle, charge electronics, and set your shanty up making sure the mice didn’t have an extra meal over the summer. We thought we would take a few minutes to highlight some new products for this season.
On that note, there are a ton of new products out from Clam Outdoors this year that we would like to introduce you to. First is the new one man portable fish traps; the “Legend Thermal”. “The “Legend Thermal” has all an angler will need and want in a one person shelter. Full thermal top, lightweight design, rod storage and deluxe seat system to name a few features. Genz himself put his stamp of approval making this the best one person shelter on the market hands down. I think we know which one he will be fishing out of next ice season!” A dependable portable shelter has been a major factor in our ability to stay on good bites and determine new patterns.
Set Up Size L 92″ x W 43″
Pack Size L 43″ x W 35″ x H 14″
Center Height 67″
Weight 70 Lbs.
Fishable Area 16 Sq Ft
THE ICEARMOR LIFT™ Cold weather suit is more than just a cold weather suit. Yes, it certainly will protect you from the cold, wind and ice. Yes, it is 100% waterproof and windproof. But More than this, the Icearmor lift suit includes an internal “lift” lining that provides added buoyancy versus our edge suit, giving the angler an extra “lift” when it’s needed. Yielding cutting edge design, look and function, the bibs and parka have the same great features as the original Icearmor blue/black edge™ suit. Everything you’ve come to expect from Icearmor —from strategically placed pockets to ballistic nylon-covered padded knees—this suit will surely fit the outerwear expectations of today’s ice angler.
Clam Outdoors has also entered the market with a new line of tungsten jigs this year. 70% denser and 30% heavier than lead, this makes for small jigs that fish heavy, punch through slush, sink fast, show up on electronics, and give you sensational feel as you pound ‘em. It’s like the difference between ‘glass and graphite. Instantly, you’re better at bite detection.
We have fished tungsten jigs for a number of years now and there is a noticeable difference in both presentation and fishability. They make for a more effective presentation using small micro plastics like the “Maki” from Maki Plastics, (also found at Clam Outdoors) and the heavier weight allows you to get your jig back to the fish after a catch.
Another product that we are really excited about is the new flasher that Vexilar has came out with. This season Vexilar has introduced the FLX 28 to the market and it is sure to make a huge scene.
The features found in the FLX-28 read like the wish list of avid ice anglers starting with digital depth, Auto Range, Two zoom zones, battery status, FIVE color palettes to select from for maximum visibility, five foot depth range adjustments starting at 10 feet, Maximum range of 300, Day and Night display brightness settings, Low power options for fishing in super shallow water, a unique Weed Mode for better performance while fishing in weeds.
- Frequency: 200 kHz
- Power output: 400 watts peak-to-peak (50 watts RMS)
- Display resolution: 525 segments
- Current draw: 200 ma at 12V DC
- Dimensions: 4.4″H x 6″W x 2.5″D
- Depth Range: Maximum 300 feet
- Weight: 1.1 Lb.
Recently, we partnered up for a monthly spot in The Outdoor Gazette which is focused on “stories from your neck of the woods.” Hunting, trapping, and fishing are among the various topics covered and Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine are some of the locations that are represented. This was a magazine found on newsstands everywhere but has gone paperless and now can only be found online. Appropriately, we will be focusing our section on fishing stories and techniques in the great state of Vermont. Check out and like their facebook page as well!
Our first article was published in the December issue titled “Tournament Fishing Vermont – Small State, Big Competition” on page 35. Take a minute to check it out as well as all of the other great articles for your enjoyment!
Our plan is to try to incorporate different modes of fishing through the year showing what helps us be successful for whatever species we are after. Currently we are plotting out some of our potential topics. We have schemed up these topics for this ice fishing season: sight fishing bluegill, tip-up/jigging lakers, chasing deep water roaming perch, and big baits for big crappie.
If you have any topics you would like to see covered contact us and we will see what we can do.
After working with the “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures with great success, we got a chance to try out some of their new Fluorotex Panfish Line. The description given to us of the line is as follows: “Lake Fork Trophy Lures’ new “Fluorotex” panfish line is an amazingly limp (extremely low memory), but strong, fishing line which is fluorocarbon coated. It has excellent knot strength and comes in both clear and fluorescent orange in 6, 8, and 10 lb. strengths.The spools have 700 yards of line and are retail priced at $9.99 each for the 6 lb. and 8 lb. test spools and $10.99 each for the 10 lb. test spools.”
For our needs, we requested the 6 pound test in orange. Neither of us had ever fished with an orange line with red being the closest. We were interested to see how it compared to the usual clear lines we fish. With panfish being our main target, 6 pound line might be considered overkill to many but at times we get off of our panfish kick and chase walleye and bass so being versatile is necessary.
Line diameter is an important dimension to what fishing line we select. Many of the jigs we fish have very small eyes and at times the line can not be threaded through. The line diameter of the 6 lb. line is 0.010″ (0.26mm). The other two options are as follows: 8 lb. – 0.11″ (0.29mm) and 10 lb. – 0.012″ (0.32mm). It is on par with many competitors products.
Detecting bites for many is done visually so having a line has good contrast against many different water coloration is important. The line was tested on several bodies of water as well as some streams. The line stood out best on some of the tannin diluted inland ponds and high elevation streams that we fish for bass and native brook trout. While fishing Southern Lake Champlain, the line proved to be highly visible against the stained waters that are frequent. The only time this line was hard to see was on the Connecticut River when pollen was pooling up as the colors are very similar. Being able to see a small tick in the line makes the orange color very useful in a variety of conditions.
Using this line, we have landed some toothy critters as well as some heavy fish. When you look at the teeth on pickerel and walleye, you would think that they would slice right through any line that isn’t braid. The ability of the line to function properly and resiliently even under the highly stressed areas near the terminal tackle makes it a great option for any angler who wishes to stay light and avoid braid.
Check out some of the videos we have put together using this line (as well as the “Live” Baby Shad) to see how well it has served us. If you want a line that is highly visible, limp, and durable. Don’t take our word for it, give some Fluototex a shot!
This is a list of videos where the line can be seen:
- Vertical Jigging Lake Champlain Crappie
- Jigging Walleye On The Connecticut River
- Remote Pond Bass Fishing In Vermont
- Lake Champlain Crappie Fishing On Structure
And a list where the “Live” Baby Shad can be seen:
Here are a few shots of some fish that were caught using Lake Fork Trophy Lures Products
Artificial baits have come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to baits designed to catch panfish. Many companies are producing baits with new designs and technologies, these baits have become an essential part of our fishing arsenal for both hard and soft water. There are many benefits to using plastics over live bait including: cost, durability, castability, and re-rigging time after a bite or hookup. Don’t get me wrong, live bait will still have times when it will out fish plastics but in general I will always choose plastics. The market for plastics has numerous options that can make one feel overwhelmed but here is a review on one company that has provided us with with some great success recently.
The bait this review will be focused on is the “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures. It is a patent-pending design, 2 1/4″ swim bait, that provides a fisherman with ample action from its combination of “swim slots” and a pintail to entice all types of gamefish”, not just crappie like we usually target. This bait was spawned after requests from many of their customers to slim down their popular “Live” Magic Shad. The bait currently comes in 35 different colors to meet just about any of your fishing needs.
The normal set up we fish for pan fish with is an ice fishing jig under a bobber with a length determined by water depth and the active zone for the desired fish species. The variety of jig we use depends on where we are fishing but a long hook shank with a wide gap is the best option. There is a lead ban on the Connecticut River, so our main choices are limited to tungsten or to meet the 1″ minimum jig length for all lead products. In general, when fishing tungsten, we run jigs made by Bentley which usually have short hook shanks and a narrow hook gap. Fishing anything but micro plastics with these hooks can be difficult at times but I still have very good hook up ratios unless targeting bluegill and pumpkinseed. The next best option is to go to just about any sporting goods store and buy lead heads. They come in a variety of sizes but 1/16 of an ounce is our hook of choice and is very common to be 1′ or greater in length. We know that there are other options for jig head composition but when fishing structure and brush we burn through quite a bit of terminal tackle… Lead is just the best option for the price!
At first, looking into purchasing plastics seems expensive. You can buy a 15 pack of “Live” Baby Shad for $2.99. When you count the number of fish that can be caught on one single piece the number of fish possible per bag can grow very quickly making the price seem far more reasonable. When you look at it this way, cost and durability go hand in hand. Unless you are catching toothy critters or having fish that are just biting the tail, it is hard to ever notice a bait getting beat up. Catching 50-60 fish per bait or more is not out of the question.
For instance, check out the two pictures below. Fishing for crappie, we find that the majority of the time the bait is inhaled so far that the bait isn’t even touched and is stuck in the roof of their mouth. That means no tearing of the bait and the tail is left untouched. Most issues that evolved with this bait, as with any swim bait, is tearing around the head of the bait where it was stuck initially with the hook. When this happens, depending on the severity, I just bite off as small of a section to get rid of the tear in order to halt its progression further.
Another benefit to fishing plastics is their ability to cast out with very little concern about the bait falling off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fished live bait and been limited with what is in my range for a cast because I can’t whip my bait. For all the times I’ve fished plastics, I have never whipped it so hard that my bait flew off other than when due to a faulty knot.
Now lets think about times when fishing live bait. Most bites result in stolen bait or a hook up. When you reel it in, chances are you will have to re-bait. This means getting into the live well, scooping out a minnow and hooking it while its flopping. With plastics its a matter of pushing the bait back up onto the bait holder and you are back in the water. If it is time to put a new plastic on, you don’t have to mess around with anything but a bag and they won’t die on you!
The action these baits by Lake Fork Trophy Lures have is amazing. The swim slots allow more side to side and vertical action than other similar styled “shad baits” because of their ability to twist more freely. When coupled with the pin tail and ball at the end, it makes twitching your bait even more effective because of the bit of added weight. Being that the sliver of plastic between the sections in the body of the bait are so thin, you would think that it is a weak spot. This is not true. We found no issues with the segmented body. There was only two places that the bait that ever ripped. The head of the bait around the hook shank as we mentioned before and only a few tails were bit off. During the period in which we fished this bait exclusively, the fish were very lethargic so a quick retrieve was most productive. This swimming action of the Lake Fork Lure only added to the triggering effect of the retrieve.
One of our favorite fish to catch is the bluegill. I’m sure that anyone reading this has caught or at least seen a bluegill up close and the size of their mouth. The area where the majority of this baits testing was done was loaded with giant gills so as our baits were being stolen it wasn’t too hard to figure out who the robber was. The difference between a feeding gill and crappie is only a matter of their ability to fit the entire bait in their mouth as they are both very aggressive.
The main drawback for us with the “Live” Baby Shad was the number of baits lost due to bluegills. When the fish were feeding aggressively, the size of the bait was no issue and the fish would steal far less plastics. When the bite was slightly negative, I found that the baits were being ripped off because the fish were grabbing just the tail. I have watched this over and over during the winter months on my underwater camera when the fish are only sucking on the baits. When I have a situation arising like this, I try to come up with a way to counteract the downfall. The solution to this was to bite off a section of the head before threading it on the hook. Also, I found some success in waiting a bit longer before setting the hook to allow time for the fish to actually take the bait. At times, a quick reaction is necessary though to get the hook setbefore the fish spits the bait realizing it isn’t actual forage.
When all is said and done, the “Live” Baby Shad flat out catches fish. The swim slot action gives the bait an extra degree of eat-ability. We highly recommend that you look into these baits if you want to catch more fish. The customer service is top notch and this company really cares about their product. You should check them out. Lake Fork Trophy Lures
Here are some other notable fish caught on “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures
If you are in the market for tungsten jigs, there are many different avenues that you can choose from. For me, I have yet to find a company that surpasses the quality being produced by Bentley Fishing USA. I have trouble fishing with tungsten under normal conditions because its expensive and I hate to lose one to a big fish when I fish light line. Between the thousands of jigs I own, I have great confidence in many of them so my options are always open. The majority of the time that I fished tungsten this past winter has been on the Connecticut River (due to the lead ban) and while fishing in deep water situations.
At the beginning of this week, I obtained my last shipment of jigs for the season. Along with the standard bumblebee and bug jigs, I received several new styles of jigs that will be hitting the US markets in the future. If you have checked out their site before, be sure to go back now as they have some new color schemes that look very promising!
The first jig I will link up is the G-Hopper. This jig has an advanced weight to size ratio factor and gets the your desired fishing zone quick. The rounded green and red Swarovski crystals reflect light in multiple directions better even in murky water. The other day when I was fishing deep water crappie, I noticed that as I reeled my line up the first thing I saw was the crystal. The reflective capabilities of these crystals are amazing!
Below are the new Caterpillar Jigs. Unfortunately they are already sold out for he season but I think that they will be a big hit when they come back. They are produced to resemble swimming larva and I think they fish similar to a rocker. This season I fished more vertical than horizontal jigs. I find myself getting better hook up ratios on vertical jigs but it is really all about how aggressive the fish are. Some of these jigs have multiple crystals or eyes rather than just one for different amounts of flash.
The remainder of the jigs are not available for purchase at this time. They are currently no named jigs only labeled by a number. They are only available in the Bentley European marketplace but be on the look out in the future!
This one looks like it will be killer on perch! Now I just need to get over fishing for gills and crappie for a day!
This one is shaped like a demon but has a more defined body because of the added tungsten weight. It will be great for deep water situations where demons are the preferred.
I haven’t tried these jigs yet but by the feel i think they will have quite a rocking motion. They are super top heavy.
Be sure to check back for reports of success’s and failures with these jigs. I’m sure there will be far more success stories but hopefully we can help guide you towards more productive baits. I will try to get some feedback before the ice is gone. With the current conditions, it won’t be long till the boats are out..
To pick up where I left off last night… I can’t even tell you how many times that I have been out fishing and come across trash or fish that were left by fishermen. Worm containers, knotted up fishing line, beer cans, “junk fish” (depends who you talk to- pike, perch, crappie, etc.) – the list goes on. Many times I come back with more than I went out with. I don’t know what people are thinking!
This past summer I can across Recycled Fish, a non-profit organization that promotes ” anglers living a lifestyle of stewardship both on and off the water because our lifestyle runs downstream.” They are gaining quite a following throughout the fishing world and I hope people take something from their mission. I have done quite a bit of research on their organization in the past months and found that one of their projects looks very promising for the future of fishing. The project is known as S.A.F.E. Angling which stands for Sustaining Angling, Fish, & Ecosystems. This project focuses on new products, practices, and tackle that have a reduced-impact on the environment. Such products include lead-free lures, biodegradable baits, hooks, and angling accessories like nets and scales. Some of the companies participating in the green revolution of fishing are big name including: Berkley and Frabill. Everyone and everything can benefit from fishermen using these ideas.
Be sure you check out the Key Differences section on how Recycled Fish is different from other environmental organizations. I know many people a hesitant to support groups that advocate for the environment because usually that means limitations on us the sportsmen but I think there is a lot to take from these guys. They are fishing fools and want to promote our passion in the best light possible! They are also big on kids getting involved.
Be sure to check out Recycled Fish and purchase one of their “short rods” shirt.” The money goes to a great cause and the shirts are a riot! Lets all work together to keep the wild, wild.