December is busy for a full time guide. My boat has been sold, my new one ordered which involved deciding how I wanted it to be equipped and any changes Skeeter made. I also maintain my deals with my sponsors for the new year and establish new ones as well. This takes a lot of time and communication. I have been very fortunate to have strong supporters like BoatUS ANGLER, Skeeter, DEKA batteries and many others over the last 20 years.
But this time of the year is more than business. It is a lot of fun as I get to spend time on the water in the winter months. Not a lot of boat traffic, it’s pretty cozy with all of the great high tech clothing like SealSkinz socks and gloves, Teva sandals and warm thin layers from outdoors clothiers like Redington. It’s also time I get to visit with my fishing buddies. We get together on and off the water. We repair reels; replace hooks on crankbaits, sort through tackle, and we fish!
Fishing is the best part. Cold-water fishing is all about SLOW! Light line, spinning rods and compact baits. It’s the best time to use Silver Buddy lures, Punisher hair jigs, Mizmo tubes, and Mann’s Stingray grubs. The fish still bite and if you can catch them in the winter, you can catch them anytime! And once you find them, you can stay on them, as they become depth oriented! However, it’s more than the great fishing. It’s a chance to spend time with my buddies! During my guide season, a phone call every once in a while is about all I can spend with my close friends. But the 6-8 hours on the boat gives us time to catch up during the cold months. It’s a blast, there's no pressure to produce…although I still have a bit of guide in me that wants to share my experience and techniques.
It was winter fishing that gave me my first national exposure. I needed to make a national splash somehow, but the top pros and guides in the country had dominated most good weather techniques. Not many were even interested in fishing during the winter. Most were off hunting or doing shows and seminars.
I was really flattered to be interviewed and photographed by outdoors writer Darl Black. I had met him in 2000 and we chatted about fishing Sliver Buddy lures. I also mentioned I used a Mann’s Stingray grub as a follow up bait. This was an old soft plastic that I had used in the 60’s. Darl pitched this story to BASSMASTER Magazine and they ran it! Since, Darl and I have become friends and he often gives me advice on photography and writing. I try to visit every fall to take advantage of fishing for smallies in NW PA.
My enjoyment for this time of the year has many layers; friends, great fishing and a fondness for the season that helped me gain national recognition for what I do! A brief respite until I have to hit the show circuit with seminar preparation just ahead. But for now, it’s fishing with friends!
With all of my trips, I start with the optimism of a new day, a memorable fishing and learning experience. I avoid excuses; rather I explain the degree of difficulty and how we can still catch fish. However, if I feel the conditions warrant cancellation of a trip, I offer this as an option. I have several clients who will go out no matter as the challenge has been laid down for them. Accept the challenge to take someone fishing!
I’ve written a DIY piece in the BoatUS ANGLER Tacklebox on how to organize your tackle when removing from your boat either temporarily for a trip to the shop, or long term in between boats – http://www.boatus.com/angler/schaconas_20121113_organized_storage.asp
My next BoatUS ANGLER DIY column…modifying lures with dyes….blades, soft plastics and crankbaits!
Until next time, see you on the water. WEAR A PFD! I’m gone fishing.
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