The trolling motor of the future is here.

What impressed this angler most at the ICAST show?

This old angler got about an hour to wander about on the last day. What impressed me the most? A stop at the Minn Kota booth revealed Minn Kota’s new Ulterra™ Trolling Motor.

The new Minn Kota Ulterra

The new Minn Kota
Ulterra

Imagine the Terrova trolling motor. Now add a feature we thought we would never see. That is right, automatic stow and deploy!

There is more. Push a button on the handy remote and you can trim the motor depth. The Ulterra is truly impressive!

Ulterra will be available Fall 2014 with manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing between $1,989.99 and $2,549.99, and will come in 80- and 112-pound thrust models with 45- and 60-inch shafts. Ulterra will also come standard with Universal Sonar 2.

Oh, yes. There were some great products in our booth. :) We will get to them later.

The Ulterra deploys and trims with touch of a button.

The Ulterra deploys and trims with touch of a button.

Blessings,

tj

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Of Fish and Men: A Little Surf and Turf

TJ Stallings:

Well how about that. My friends at the Patrons of the Pit tested some Road Runners. :)

Originally posted on Patrons of the Pit:

There are some days in the human condition when a man proper needs to catch his own protein. A time required when he simply, and to an end,  needs to fish. To stalk environs still wild, andIMG_46911 pluck from them that which lurks and swims in the murky underwaters. To hoist thy plunder proudly into the air, dripping there, sunbeams glinting of scaly flanks of slime, and declare that dinner is henceforth secured from this barren and trying land. And somewhere deep down, just past that soulish area where it ought to, it feels good. Indeed, it feels right. Such was the case recently, whilst afloat a lovely Wisconsin fishery that shall go nameless here, naturally, to throw off any would-be angling gumshoes, that my elder brother and I came into the good fortune of tight lines and nicely hooping rods. Pulling in assorted pan fish and frisky crappies…

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Been fishin’?

Stuart bagged a seven-pounder.

Stuart bagged a seven-pounder.

Sorry I’ve been gone so long. The traveling, working,  and a little fishing has kept me away. Here are some photos for now. Hope the fish are treating you well!

Mike bagged some Crappie too.

Mike bagged some
Crappie too.

Stacy  with her first Pymatuning Lake crappie.

Stacy with her first
Pymatuning Lake crappie.

Candice visited the boat for a while.

Candice visited the boat for a while.

Blessings,

tj

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Transom mounted transducers live dangerously until now.

The latest improvement on the G3 is the Spring Back Bracket™ by Transducer Shield and Saver®. This product solves three problems.

Side imaging transducers are big targets for stumps

Side imaging transducers are big targets for stumps. Notice the springs in the Spring Back Bracket.

Transducers are targets for stumps and flotsam. While they are designed to flip up, they may not survive. A new one can cost upwards to $400.00. This bracket is spring loaded to pivot and prevent damage.

If you are lucky, the old transducer flips up. Now you get to reach down to your shoulder to push it back down. The Spring Back Bracket pivots back on its own.

The last problem is positioning the transducer so it stays wet while running. (Without a huge rooster tail.) The Spring Back Bracket features a splash plate. This allows the transducer to run “down” and reduces the rooster tail.

Thanks to this great product, I can run nearly twice the speed without losing signal. This means finding more structure while running from spot to spot.

Blessings,
tj

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Get your boat out of the dark ages.

Quality boats last for years. (Think G3, Skeeter, Ranger, etc.) Nothing feels as good as fishing out of a boat that is paid for. However, your electronics are likely four to five years old. Depth sounders are like PCs, they age quickly. Think about what you use the most. Your trolling motor and electronics see more hours of use, than anything on the boat.

The quiet yet powerful Minn Kota is the best choice.

The quiet yet powerful Minn Kota is the best choice.

The first upgrade should be your trolling-motor. Minn Kota is the industry leader in quiet, efficient operation. Consider the Terrova and the Fortrex. A friend just purchased one
Driftmaster rod holders are a solid investment too.

Driftmaster rod holders are a solid investment too.

for his 1998 bass boat. He is thoroughly impressed by the power and the lift assist.

Update your electronics. One veteran guide stated, “I’ve learned more about this lake in three months than I have in the past thirty years.” as he pointed at his Humminbird. Enough said.

Awesome for finding brush piles and structure.

Awesome for finding brush piles and structure.

Protect your investment with a new boat cover. Try the industry leader, Dowco Marine. Visit their website for their “boat finder”. Choose your boat brand and select the model to find the correct cover. Off the shelf, covers are okay. You may be disappointed with the fit. A poor fit will result in ponding of water and leaves. Loose fitting covers will flap when towed.

Dowco offers custom covers for many boat brands

Dowco offers custom covers for many boat brands


The often forgotten trailer needs a little TLC. Check tires, rollers and the bearings. New radial tires will improve your gas mileage.

These improvements do not cost, they pay.

I found this ledge with my side-finder. Here is the result.

I found this ledge with my side-finder. Here is the result.

Blessings,
tj

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Is your fishing pattern three weeks late?

Even smallmouth are a little behind schedule.

Even smallmouth are a little behind schedule.

Fish do not punch a clock per se. Water temperatures dictate when fish begin their spawn. It is time to adapt. Crappies for example are still in 12-feet of water here. Fish a little deeper. We fished the Tennessee River last week. The white bass are still deep and rather lethargic. They too are a little late. Slow down your presentation. Observe, change and adapt is the mantra of better anglers this spring.

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Unwritten rules for anglers and writers that build relationships.

Writer, Darl Black wades the cool waters for the perfect shot.

Writer, Darl Black wades the cool waters for the perfect shot.

These are unwritten rules of course and just my observations. There is an old saying; “No fish, no photo. No photo, no story.” rings true. The objective is clear for the writer. The angler hopes to educate the writer and perhaps earn some ink for his guide business or sponsors.

Rules for the pro follow.
1. The morning’s golden light is best. Try to have several of yesterday’s fish in the live well for an early shoot. This is not phony reporting. What you did yesterday is just as important to the story. Fish often “color up” when spending a night in the live well too.
2. Your boat is your office. Good captains keep clear decks. You may find the writer lying on the floor of the boat, shooting photos from all angles.
3. Wear layers in bright colors. Grey, black, or white shirts rarely photograph well.
4. A good shave and genuine smiles for the photo shoot will pay in spades.
5. Save some dry storage for the writer’s camera bag. That bag is as important to the writer, as your boat is to you.
6. Keep snacks and water on hand. You never know when you may have a diabetic on the boat. They often need just a little something. Pros like Stephan Matt of G3 Boats often provide a shore lunch. That is a touch of class.
7. Be prepared for an interview. Detailed answers are what the writer are looking for.
8. The writer is often too busy with interviews and photography to fish hard. Clean a few fish if possible for the writer to take home. Now, you are a hero.

There are a few rules for the writer. (I am not picking on anyone here.)
1. Be on time. Enough said.
2. Help the angler launch. The quicker you get on the water, the more gold light you will have to shoot with. (Tip: Always ask, “Drain plug in?”)
3. Wipe your feet. Sand and mud can damage decks and carpet. Deck shoes are best when weather permits.
4. Never step on a seat to climb onto the back deck. This splits the seat at the seams. OEM seats run about two-hundred dollars each.
5. Thank your host. That guide may have nixed a paid, guide trip or bagged a day of tournament practice to take you out.
6. Send a few, low-resolution photos for the guide’s web page. You will be more likely to receive an invite back.
7. This builds a relationship that you can count on down the road for quick interviews and fishing reports.

I have been blessed to be both host and guest. Either way, the pleasure has been all mine to learn from the best.

Sam has hosted more writers than anyone I know.

Sam has hosted more writers than anyone I know.


Blessings, tj

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Bass and crappie begin prespawn dance.

Spring seems a long way off. However, fish are biting between the cold fronts. They have to eat. Choose your days carefully. Don’t be surprised to find crappie and bass around the lily pads. The sun warms these little “solar panels”.

Copyright Road Runner Lures

Lily pads are often the first place to warm up.

While crappie will be first in the pads, bass will soon follow. Ledges near these pads will hold the bass until the water warms enough to move in. Try the heavier, quarter ounce Road Runner along this structure.

Tip: The favorite water temperature of crappie is about sixty five degrees. Bass become more active in water temps of sixty nine degrees. Water temperatures are just one of the factors in fish activity. Your Humminbird depth sounder likely has a water temperature gauge. Check it during the day to see how much the water warms up.

Elite Outdoor Media

Rich bagged these fish along step edges.

Blessings,
tj

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A few photos from the St. Johns River trip.

The adventures and travel continue. Here are a few photos from the Florida trip. A few days in Titusville and Deland are just what I needed. The weather is perfect this time of year. I’d like to thank Visit Space Coast and Hontoon Landing.

Visit Titusville for fishing and lunch with an astronaut!

Visit Titusville for fishing and lunch with an astronaut!


American Shad visit the St Johns River once a year.

American Shad visit the St Johns River once a year.


Crappie Fishing on the St Johns River with Tim Gibson of B'nM Poles

Crappie Fishing on the St Johns River with Tim Gibson of B’nM Poles

The crappie love to hide in the lily pads near Hontoon Landing.

The crappie love to hide in the lily pads near Hontoon Landing.


The St. John’s River near Titusville to Deland offers so much beauty, so many fish!
Blessings, TJ
Dan enjoyed the "Specks" of the St Johns River.

Dan enjoyed the “Specks” of the St Johns River.

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Think you have seen it all? from Crappie NOW Magazine

This 14-inch crappie weighed 2.75 instead of the usual 2.50.

This 14-inch crappie weighed 2.75 instead of the usual 2.50.

Hang on. It does not matter your age; there are plenty of crappie lessons to learn. After fifty years, I am still learning. Reading CrappieNOW is a great place to start. What totally hits you between the eyes is experience. Here are a few examples.
A fun lesson was just a few months ago. Fellow Crappie NOW writer Jeff Samsel and I hit the water. The plan was to bass fish for an hour because he needed a bass photo for an article. After that we would crappie fish. We began to cast quarter-ounce Road Runners with four-inch BanG, Shads. Three hours later, we had sixteen of the largest crappie we could ask for. The lesson? Never underestimate what big crappie will eat.
The next lesson was that very night at the fillet table. I never weighed a crappie that was less than sixteen inches. These were “measly” fifteen-inch fish. However, they felt heavy. I was curious about two of them. They weighed 3.01 and 3.08 pounds! How many three-pound fish have I tossed back? The lesson? Weigh any crappie over fifteen inches.

Another lesson was a reminder of simpler times. Two older men motored by in a rickety boat. These anglers quietly anchored near a point. The greybeards held a cane pole in each hand and loaded the boat. The lesson? Keep things simple and you will have more fun.

Think back to your last fishing trip. What did experience teach you?
Mother’s Day is the 11th of this month. This is a great opportunity to take mom fishing!

Blessings,
TJ

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