Tag Archives: Bentley Fishing USA

2-14-13 – A Crappie Valentine’s Evening

With a few hours to kill before my wife came home from work, I decided to take a ride in search of a few crappie for dinner.

I arrived to the pond a little before 4 pm and punched 6 holes in the area that usually holds a few decent crappies, perch, and pumpkinseed.  The first hole I fished was the most productive of them all producing many perch and a few seeds.  I fished around those holes for and hour or so without a crappie sighting so I decided to make a small move.  I had found a nice weed flat adjacent to deep water this summer and thought I would punch a few holes on the inside turn.  I cut two holes and dropped the transducer for my Vexilar FL-18 down the hole.  I was met with 12 feet of water, this is usually a little shallower than I thought the crappie would be holding in this pond but I have it a shot.  I usually don’t fish a hole in deep water for crappie unless I’m marking suspended fish, but thinking to myself that I wasn’t really in deep water I should drop my bait down and see what happens.  My bait reached three feet under the ice and I was all of a sudden marking a big red racing up towards it.  I was using a Bentley tungsten jig with Maki Plastics.  The fish literally pounded the bait and out came crappie number one.  The times in the past when I have fished this body of water had been slow but productive.  I had never caught more than one crappie out of a hole and I had never caught more than six in an outing.  Well to make a long story short the next 45 minutes ended up being the best crappie fishing I have ever had in my life in terms of numbers, aggressiveness of the fish, and overall quality.  It was stacked with fish, they were marking from 5 feet all the way down to 12 feet of water, and they were hungry.  At one point my plastic ripped off and I was catching 11 inch crappie on nothing other than the glow jig.   I iced 52 crappie in about 45 minutes of fishing, and that was even with a stop to teach a local about the Vexilar.

It was a fantastic outing, one of best I have experienced.  I hope to get back there for a morning bite to see if the fish are as aggressive as they were that night.  The best part was that I managed a limit for the freezer and still made it home in time to clean fish and await the arrival of my wife.



1-26-13 – Cold Day To Be A Crappie

Having been tied up with other responsibilities for the past two weekends and not able to fish I was excited to get back on the ice.  I decided to make a day trip to a spot 2 hours away.  We arrived at our location with decent conditions.  The mercury was finally above zero for the first time in five days, and the wind at this point wasn’t an issue.  I loaded my shack and made the 80 yard walk to where I would be fishing for the day.

I drilled out an area, shallow to deep.  It’s always a good idea to cut your holes first thing, one it will save you time later and two, it will spook the fish only once if the fish are sensitive to sound.  I started fishing the deep hole to begin with.  The vex was marking fish in 16 feet of water all through the water column.  First drop produced a small crappie, second drop, small crappie.  One thing that I have noticed about this spot is that these fish school in relation to size most of the time.  If you’re catching small fish you’re in a nursery school of fish.  I made a move to the next hole working my way out of the deeper water up towards the shallower shelf.  Right off the bat I hooked into a heavier fish, bass.  OK; well now I know the bass are set up waiting for those small crappie to make a mistake, I made another move, this time more drastic.  I found ten feet of water, fish were stacked on the bottom four feet.  First drop was a beautiful 13″ crappie.  Next few fish were all decent in size, bigger than before.  We continued to work the 10 foot range and were able to produce several decent fish through out the course of the next few hours.

As the morning went on the wind picked up and it became difficult to fish outside of our shacks.  As the sun went higher the fish slid shallower.  This is something we have noticed before while fishing setbacks off the main river.  The fish tend to seek out more cover even if it means going shallower when deep holes are present.  Large weed flats are great places to find active fish during high light conditions.  Another important thing to note was that the fish were not tolerating a presentation for long.  I was constantly changing my jigging cadence and my Maki Plastic to keep the fish interested.  These plastics teamed with a Bentley gold colored tungsten jig worked well for both the deep and shallow water applications we used today.

All in all it was a good day, unfortunately I wasn’t able to “fish” the way I wanted to as was confined to my shack for comfort.  It was a good day learning a few new tricks and applying some older ones to be successful.

“Must Have’s” for Spring Time Crappie (part 1)

Thought I would take a quick moment to write about the baits that have been effective this spring and their presentation.This is the Baby Shad made by Bobby Garland.  This bait is a recent addition to our Crappie arsenal and has proved it-self over and over again.  This bait is made in 45 different color combo’s and they also have it in 10 glow patterns.  The presentation has been pretty straight forward.   All we are doing to rigging the bait on a small jig head.  Dylan has mostly been using a an ice jig made by Bentley.  I’ve been using nothing more than a 1/64 or 1/32 oz painted jig head that you can buy just about anywhere.  We are fishing these baits under and bobber, adjusting the depth as needed depending on the fish.  The presentation when the fish are there and active is simple.  Cast out to the school, count to “3” and set the hook.(that’s Dylan’s way)  When the fish are acting a little fussy, a good technique is to bounce the bobber back towards you.  This will make the fineness tail of the Baby Shad flutter and trigger a lot of bites.  Another great presentation is simple, swim the bobber back in, using frequent stops.  Sometimes the fish just want the bait moving.  You’ll have to try your own techniques to see what’s going to work best for that day.

We have recently been talking with the guys over at Lake Fork Trophy Lures, they have had many requests to slim down a very popular bass bait for use on Slab Crappies.  What they have come up with looks dynamite!  Lake Fort lures has a 2 1/4 “Live” Baby Shad which is the smaller version of their Magic Shad designed for bass.  From what I have seen through reports and pictures, this bait is going to be a must have for me.  Their design is a little different.  They have patented their segmented “swim slots” into the baits which gives it a swimming action as if it were a live shad.  This bait is offered in 35 colors right now and we are very excited to try these baits out.  Look for a thorough review later!

4-6-12 – A Quick Trip To The River

I had a bit of time and the water levels looked good on the Connecticut River so I took a quick trip today.  The report that I got from a quick search on the internet in regards to water level of the downstream dam was that water was flowing out of holding at a rate of 10,200 cfs until 1pm then slowing to 1,300 cfs till 6pm. We haven’t gotten any good reports from these spots lately so I was hesitant but had to try with such a nice day!

The spot that I was planning on fishing today is rather shallow so I knew that I needed water in order for it to be productive. When I got there, the water was already at the base of the reeds so I bypassed it and headed to the next potential spot. The water here looked much better being that there is a good deep channel at all times. I fished up and down the setback and only was able to locate fish at one sheltered and channelized end.

Being that I was on the river, I was limited on my tackle options. I was fishing Bentley tungsten under a bobber tipped with a chartreuse and red flake Bobby Garland. I began fishing at a depth of 3′ and after a slow start I adjusted my depth just 4.5′. I changed the depth of my bobber for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t catching many fish and 2) the current had my bait swimming just below the water level because it was moving so fast. It was comical how fast my bait was moving when fished close to shore in the current.

About the time I changed my depth the water level stopped dropping rapidly. Noticeably, my casts were lasting much longer before being pushed to shore by the current. Because I was now fishing deeper in the water column and my jig was moving slower I was able to really work each cast the way I wanted to.

The first few casts in the new conditions produced some real nice perch. In the next 45 minutes I landed about 35 perch between 9-12″. They were all males as evidenced by the presence of milt. It was fun catching these fish as they were aggressive biting but slow to pull the bobber under. Their bites resembled crappies so much that each fish got me excited for its reveal!

I am positive that I rolled at least one flat fish today because I was able to see the fish as soon as I set the hook. The semi-clear and low water level  made it so the silhouettes only took a second to appear and one was a big round oval. Maybe next time I will know better!

I was limited as to what parts of the setback I could fish today because I didn’t have my boat or kayak. I could see fish on the far shore popping at the surface for part of the time I was there, mainly when the water flow slowed. I would imagine they were crappie because of the distinct sound they were making. All in all it was a good mid day trip and I will be back there soon!

Searching For Ice Out Crappies

So the end of the ice season has come for most of us, and for many areas in the country the search for pre spawn and spawning crappies has already come and gone.  Here in the northeast, ice out on our lakes and ponds usually happens towards the end of March to mid April.  With ice out, surface temps rise and the crappie start thinking about the next life cycle; the spawn.  Crappie typically spawn in shallow sheltered water.  Small cuts or setbacks off the main lakes are great places to look.  These spots may not be fishable in the summer though.  They have enough fishable water in the spring due to run off and rising water levels on the lake.  At this point, the water levels flood shoreline brush making ideal spots for giant crappies to lay up in and spawn.  I have caught fish in as little as 6″ of water.  Ideal depths to look for are flats in the 4′-6′ range.  Shelter and cover are key components to be mindful of.  Crappie are lazy, they will look for the warmest water closest to their deep winter basin’s and weed flats.  Brush and other structure also create great habitat for spawning and are sheltered from the wind and spring time chop on the lake.

Pay very close attention to the surface temp.  Crappies will start searching for spawning locations when the water starts to consistently hold in the low to mid 40’s, however they won’t actually start to spawn until it reaches the 60’s but it’s not unusual to see them spawning in the upper 50’s.  One degree in temperature change  can make all the difference in the world. Creeks and culverts flowing into the main lake are also great areas to be aware of.  The afternoon bite is typically better since the daytime air temps have warmed the water up.  Run-off water is warmer than the main lake temp creating another hot spot for ice out crappies.  We use our Navionics to find cut backs and flowages on the lake when in search mode.  Once we find them, we cast small jigs tipped with minnow under a bobber or a small micro plastics by Maki Plastics.  Cast to the brush and pop the bobber back in.

My spring time Crappie Fishing setup consists of a 7′-9′ noodle rod.  I like the 7′ Eagle Claw and the 9′ Ultra Lite  Rod made by Riversider.  For shallow water I like to use the fixed Thill bobber made by Lindy.  Under that I am usually running tungsten jigs from Bentley.

Good luck out there searching, the fishing is going to get good real soon!

Cut Back Spring Crappies from Lake Champlain

Searched out River Crappie

New Jigs From Bentley

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..

3-6-12 – Working On The Whites

At the beginning of the year I set myself a few goals. Although they weren’t too high of a standard for most, I knew it would be enough of a challenge for me. Being that this is my first full year of fishing panfish, that’s where most of my goals were focused.  The first goal I planned to get after was catching a limit of crappie from the Connecticut River. My other two panfish related goals were to catch a white crappie from Lake Champlain and to catch a fish to mount. I don’t care if it is a bluegill, pumpkinseed, or crappie. My final goal is to catch a legal walleye.

Earlier this season, I had several days that I caught limits of crappie on the river in different spots. Not only was it good to be able to check off one of my goals but I put a few quality meals into the freezer at the same time! I was off to a good start! Until yesterday, I have only had one shot at catching a white.

I got an invite to go fish on southern Lake Champlain. We were going out to target deep water crappie and I that I had a good chance at a white! It wasn’t very hard to convince me to leave home at 3:30am to make the 100 mile trek. I beat the guys I was going to be fishing with for the day by only a few minutes and after packing up the sled and four wheeler we got out to the spot.

It didn’t take long for us to start catching fish but the bite was short lived. With my first hook up only 15 minutes into the day, I was eager to get my hands on my first white. After a few seconds of cranking the fish up what do you suppose it was… A black crappie! Damn! I unhooked and released the fish as it wasn’t very big but after only a few more drops, I snagged into my goal. Although it wasn’t a monster, I had the opportunity to up my personal best.

Throughout the morning, we all caught a few more fish but they were pretty tight lipped. The best bite for me in the morning was on minnows hooked with a size 4 tungsten jig made by Bentley Fishing USA. Even though jig color probably didn’t matter, I stuck with burgundy all day while the other guys used silver and white.

Mid-day, we entertained the idea of packing up and moving to a different location so we could pass the time until the evening bite by jigging up gills, seeds, and maybe some crappie. We decided not to move because there was a shot at a mid day bite. The majority of the fish we caught mid day were bass. Some hogs at that!

After a slow mid day, we were all looking forward to the evening bite! Unfortunately, that time never came on strong. We got some really nice fish but we were just picking at them sporadically all day. I’m glad I got to get out with Jamie and crew for the day. I learned how exciting it is to jig deep water fish on minnows. I can’t wait till the opportunity presents itself again!

Oh and I set my personal best 4 different times. This was my best at 14″.

Jigs – An Addiction

For the type of fishing that we generally do, a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of jigs are a necessity. Panfish tend to be very picky with even the slightest abnormality in a presentation. In many cases, you can catch at least a few fish on any jig but I am confident that everyday there is one specific bait that will drive the fish crazy somewhere on your selected body of water.

Fish develop a search image for whatever food source is their primary diet at the time being. If you can piece together a bait that resembles their desired prey you will be successful. There is more to catching fish than just using right bait though… You need to give the bait the correct action, speed, and put it at the right depth. Once you figure this out, stick with it and stay mobile. There are always fish that are active and some will not bite regardless of what you do. By continuously moving, you are able to catch the active fish in each hole and not waste much time beyond that. Panfish usually are on the move so make sure you keep track of holes that have produced and be sure to return to check for fish again as these holes will likely be replenished.

As you will see below I have more jigs than I will ever use in one day. I’m not ashamed to admit these are just the ones that I have in my pocket for every trip. I have boxes of extras for when I break off and need to refill my pocket boxes. It’s a bad feeling when you are on a good bite and you lose your last jig that the fish are pounding on.

I have four main boxes of jigs and they are sorted for different applications and locations. The jig boxes that I use are made by Rose Creek. They hold even the heaviest jigs very well. The categories the jigs are sorted by are lead horizontals, Lindy, non-lead verticals, and tungsten. New Hampshire put a ban on the use of lead jigs under 1″ or 1 ounce starting this year so I can’t even bring it on the ice. Its definitely not worth getting a ticket just because I want to fish with a lead jig when there are many just as good options to use!

So onto the boxes…  The first one here is my tungsten box. Tungsten has the largest size to weight ratio of all metals. It is good for situations when you want to downsize your presentation and still be able to fish deep water, fast. It is also very useful in thick weeds because you can punch through them to get to the fish. Jigs in this box come from several distributors. On the left side of the box, the top three rows are from Sportsmens Direct. The next three rows are a new option this season. They are “hard rock” jigs by Northland Tackle. The remainder of that side are Fiskas. The right side of the box is filled with jigs from Bentley Fishing USA.

This is my non-lead vertical box. I have been using these jigs more and more lately and am finding that I get a better hookup percentage! The entire left side of this of this box are  Caty jigs. The right side of the box is mostly random jigs and proven flies that I have picked up at bait shops through the years.

This is my Lindy box. Unfortunately, all these jigs are lead and I cannot use them on the river. I used them quite a bit last year with great success! It is stocked with only three styles of jigs but they are good ones! These fish very heavy and show up on the flasher very well even in deeper water! On the left side at the top you see the Genz Bug, below that is the Fatboy, and on the right side is the Worm.

This is my final box. All these jigs are made of lead so they don’t get too much action anymore. All the jigs on the left side excepts for the last row are made by Custom Jigs & Spins. These are a very good option for beginners because they are cheap and have a big selection of colors and sizes. The top three rows are gill pills. They have a flat bottom and when jigged have a very good flutter action. The next four rows are diamond jigs. They fish very precise and work better than tungsten at times because they sink a bit slower because they weigh less. The last row on the left side is composed of Northland gill getters. The right side of the box the top row is he CJ&S mini mert. The next two rows are primarily Northland forage minnow fry. The remainder of the right side is made up for “shad dart” style jigs from CMT Tackle.

These have been my go to jigs this season. From top to bottom and left to right they are: CMT super glow butt silver/orange size 12, Bentley black  size 4, Custom Jigs & Spins diamond jig pink size 12, Bentley chartreuse size 3, Fiskas gold/glow bead 4mm, Custom Jigs & Spins gill pill red glow size 12, Caty jig teardrop orange/chartreuse size 8, Caty jig willow pink/glow size 6, Custom Jigs & Spins demon gold size 6, and finally a tiny no name glow jig I picked up at Classic Outfitters.

I hope this helps you be more confident with your future jig purchases. There are a lot of choices out there and its hard to know where to start. I am still learning every day and am always trying to find better options. Stay tuned for future posts on the topic of jigs. There will be one in the soon by Bobby taking you through the steps of jig making and how anyone can do it!