Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wanna see something explode?

It's topwater time! Start throwing topwater baits and shallow diving crank baits that go no more than 1' under the surface. Concentrate on shoreline weeds. Use natural or darker colors. Chug Bugs, Salad Spoons, Buzzbaits, Poppers, Zara Puppies, Larger topwater flies...they're all working, even mid day!

Get out and throw something on top. Explosions are fun!
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(Oh..the shirt? Send me an email and I'll tell you where to get one.)


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

Mike and Pat got out yesterday (5-24-07). Let's check in with Mike and see how they did.
Mike, take it away:

Here's Pat with his first fish he got in about 5 minutes while I'm still trying to tie my line. The thing about Pat.. or should I just say one of the many, many things about Pat that piss you off is he shows up with a big 14" clear Plano box with about 5 lures in it, all of which I wouldn't use other than the Husky Jerk and the Zara Puppy, no pliers, no clippers... and he schools you. This first fish was merely huge! Pat was born with 12" arms so you can really get an idea of the actual size of this possible state record bass (* cough cough). Too bad he doesn't carry a tape measure either.
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After throwing the Yozuri L minnow for about 10 minutes with nothing but weeds to show for it. I switched to the black Chatterbait and immediately struck gold on the windy (understatement) side of the lake.
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Nothing else for the next 30 minutes but a few bumps and misses and I'd had enough and looked for calmer water. Three casts later I got another nice fish while "Gabby" was on his cell phone about 50 feet away. The LM's were really skyrocketing tonight, flips, twirls... priohuettes (sp?) it was really something, you'd think they were smallmouth... anyhow as I got this fish close to shore, danged if there weren't 3 or 4 other LM's about the same size trying to grab the lure from it's mouth. If it would have had a treble hook I could've had a double. AND a foot deeper there's two big smallies in the chase trying to get in on the action.



"THROW BACK YOU IDIOT!" I scream, spitting the cigar out of my mouth.

Problem 1. - He's on the phone

Problem 2. - He doesn't have a lure on his line.

So I let this fish swim back and forth for 3 minutes with the rest of the school close behind as Pat tries desperately to tie a knot with me yelling at him... Needless to say he got nada. A senko or a hula grub would have been perfect but he only has 4 lures in his giant case because he only fished for "Muskies and Sharks and other BIG FISH" Whoopdie Doo!

Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda had a couple more of these...
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Well after that it poured rain and I had to make a mad dash for the car and not ruin a $1200 camera. That's when Pat fired up the Smallie Machine and proceeded to shut me up. Note to self. Let Pat stick to Sharks in Florida.

Another note: I catch a lot of grief for my "Fishing Rosary" as they call it. It's really quite handy though kind of goofy. I have my clippers, hemostat, hook sharpener, thermometer, flashlight and everything you need to poke yourself in the groin when you bend over... OUCH!

The alternatvie.. dropping all that stuff in the weeds somewhere or trying to fish it out of one the many pockets on my vest. Plus now it has turned into a goodluck kinda safety belt tiki god thingy for me. All hail to the fishing gods. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm'

Thank you Mike. In other news. I've been out a bit here and there. Topwater bite is still working for me. The Zara Puppy, A Strike King buzzbait, The Lunker City Salad Spoon, and ofcourse the Chug Bug. Work 'em close to shore.
Customfish resident Carne Asada expert Luis and I had a fun outting yesterday in 40MPH winds. Got alot of bass...nothing huge. But we did see God at one point.That was cool.

And finally, we leave you with this as we wish all of you out there a happy memorial day.
Be safe out there....and don't look at this while you're driving.
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meanmouth bass one got the right answer to the question.
The correct answer is....*drum roll*... It's a meanmouth bass!
What the hell is a meanmouth bass, you ask? It's a hybrid. A cross between a smallmouth bass and (usually) a spotted bass. There have been a couple hybrids of smallmouth and largemouth bass, also known as meanmouth bass.
Usually these fish are found only in southern waters. But fish get moved here and there by stocking either privately or by the DNR. I'm guessing this stocking was done privately. Non native fish can be found in the strangest places sometimes. Take muskies for example. I can point you to lakes in Colorado as well as Virginia that now host them.
So there ya have it. The next time someone mentions the much fabled meanmouth bass, you can now say that you know of a couple guys who catch them quite regularly.

Jamie with a meanmouth bass


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Different strains of smallmouth bass

Look at these two smallmouth bass. They are from the same waters. There is a major difference between the two. Look at the dorsal fin on each. One has the normal rounded fin. The other has much larger fins that come to a sharp point. We refer to the former as Northern Smallies and the later as Spike Smallies. This is not a genetic defect nor is it a difference of the sex of each fish. We've already ruled those two theories out.
My own personal theory is that the Spike Smallies are Neosho strain smallmouth bass. But I can't seem to confirm this theory. I've seen more spike smallies in pictures from southern waters and more round fin northern smallies from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. question to anyone who knows is this: Why are these two fish so different? please give some info and any links to follow leading to a concrete answer. The first one to provide the answer wins a free hat AND a bag of Storm baits.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The pictures tell the story. 5-17-07

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The word for the week: TOPWATER!

You guys know I like to keep my reports simple and easy. I'm not a fan of 4 page articles on the finer points of fishing a jig and minnow on a mid lake reef when the moon is full but only after the first week of August provided that there was at least 3 days of 70 degree temps in June btween the 14th and the 17th..blah blah blah blah.
So here goes. The official Customfish Report says:

There ya go. That's it. Find water. Toss a topwater bait. Catch fish.
What depth? I dont know. We've been catching them 1' from shore as well as over 20' of water. The bass are done spawning and they are on the feed bag!
If you get sick of tossing a topwater bait, then throw a shallow diving crank that makes alot of vibration. Vary the retieve. Let us know how ya do.
Our three baits this week:
White buzzbait.
Silver & black Chug Bug.
Wilson! ( Zara Puppy )

Proof? You want proof?
Ok... let's give ya some proof, baby!
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Enough proof???
Now go order a hat. You need some mojo!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday show and tell!!


Ok..we got some pics in straight from the water courtesy of two of our field reporters, Jade Miller and Pat Halko.
Jade's report has already been posted this morning as it happened. Congrats to Jade on the personal best 19.5" smallmouth bass!
Pat reports that he's bangin' some big fish on Rattle Traps over newly emerging weeds. One of the muskies is from 5-5-07, the other from 5-10-07 (an estimated 42"+ fish). The 20"+ bass and the carp were also from 5-10-07. Nice to see that he's taken a page out of my Rattle Trap in spring book. Nice catches Pat!

In other news:
I've had a couple trips out lately. The lakes I'm fishing have alot of rocks as the main bottom content especially along the shorelines. Gentle sloping shorelines seem to be better for bass right now as they key in on minnows and crayfish in the shallows. There's 2 lures I'm using right now...everything else stays in the bag right now. I found two that are gold this week and I'm sticking with them. The first is the Subwart. It's a small bait that makes alot of commotion as it runs. Bang it into some rocks in 1' of water and any bass in the are will stop at almost nothing to hit it this week. I had a 90 minute session on wednesday afternoon where just over 20 bass fell to the same trick. Largest of that day was just shy of 20" and I had a few forrays of 2 or 3 fish on back-to-back casts.
Pictured here is the typical bass of the week that is crushing this small bait I'm throwing.
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And they say big lures catch big fish??? That's true. But not always. You have to be diverse and don't get locked into one type of thinking. When I start catching fish on smaller baits I switch to 2 or 3 larger baits just see if they might work better on the same spots. Lately those larger baits have blanked. I tie on the smaller stuff again, cast back to the same spot..and whammo! The same fish that just saw three larger baits goes for the easy meal.

Now here's Jamie's Friday Commentary:
We leave you this friday with good news. The bass are almost completely done spawning in most areas. How do we know this? Ahhh. Secret weapon #1. Ya see, we are in possesion of a lure that tells all. You may know him. He's famous...or rather..'infamous' around these parts. He's single handedly responsible for more days of humiliation and shame to my fishing partners than any other lure I have ever owned. If he were to be snagged on any lake I'd swim to get him back. He is the Master Of Disaster..The King of Sting..The Count of Monte Fisto!
And there's not a spawning bass on the planet that is going after him. It takes one super charged, super aggrivated, super hungry fish to go after him. Case in point: Look at one of his first catches since awakening 2 days ago. THAT is one red-eyed-pi$$ed-off smallmouth bass.
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Yes people. He's back! And man is he cranky after being kept in a box for 8 months.
Welcome back Wilson!!

(to those who know Mike and I: If you would like the first two installments on Wilson from this year, send me an email and I'll send them to you directly. They can NOT be aired here to the general public. The language is extreme to say the least.'s Wilson. You know how rude he can be!)

And finally, this:
I promised you guys earlier today that I was going to put up one of the top muskie pictures we have ever done here at Customfish. Mind you, we've seen and done some of the biggest,baddest and best from Chad Cain to Gregg Thomas to Lee Tauchen to Tony Grant to Spence Petros to Mike Norris and on and on. We've seen a ton of 50's. Even a couple 55's from Chad.
And to all the professional fishermen who Customfish calls dear friends, we say this: Y'all just got beat. Every.Single.One.Of.You. Beat. And you've been outdone by the smile of 7 year old William Buhler holding his first muskie of 45". He managed to do what alot of grown men have never accomplished.
Thanks to Chris Juhas for allowing us to do this particular job. It made our week just to see it!
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We know that having this fish on the wall will make for a lifetime of great story telling! Want your muskie on the wall? CLICK HERE!!!!

Have a good weekend everybody! Get out and fish!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Instant report. 5-11-07

Captain Jade Miller has just checked in with this morning's report from the Mississippi.

"Slightly overcast and an air temp in the low 60's greeted me this morning when I arrived at the river at a little after 6. Threw the popper for a little while and did not have anything hit so I went with the old reliable of an 1/8 oz ball jig with a 3" power minnow. Yesterday it was 20:1 drum to whites. This morning it was 3:1 whites to drum. And big whites from the bank. Throw in a largemouth and a small smallie and I was having a bang up morning. Ran out of the power minnows so I put on a 4" jerk minnow on the jig. I think the brand was Rattlesnake. I placed a perfect cast right up against the dam face and had an immediate hit. Then the bronze missle launched. After the first jump I knew I had a good smallie on. He jumped again and now I am ****ing my pants since the line Bill Anderson said to use has not come in yet and I am using the 6lb stuff that I have had snap a few times. I did everything I could to keep that fish off the rocks and moving to slack water. 3 minutes later I got a solid hold of the bottom lip and hoisted up my biggest smallie to date, 19.5 inches. I am leaving work early today and will upload the photos ASAP. I was rattled after that and got 1 more good white. I am still shaking that i got a huge fish like that in on 6lb line."

It is now 8:45am. How's THAT for an up to date fishing report???
It pays to check in to

Later today I'll put up some pictures of a truly AWESOME muskie we did this week. You may have seen some great muskies in your time...but I can say that whatever you have seen does NOT compare to this picture. It truly is one of the top 3 jobs we have ever done. Stay tuned and get ready to see what muskie fishing is really all about.
Plus, later today: (*cue Darth Vader's theme music*) He's BAAAAAACK! The triumphant return of a living legend. Wilson!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

And now for something completely different.

We present you with The Luckiest Man On The Planet.

More pics from saturday's white bass run. Mississsippi River Pelicans.

We have a few remaining pictures from saturday's trip to the Mississippi River (pool 15 & 16). If you would like more information on the are, please contact us and we'll pass you along to Mississippi River Customfish Field Reporter, Captain Jade Miller. Just go to and send us an email.

And finally, this:
When I think of the Mississippi River in northern Illinois, I think about white bass, smallmouth bass, huge catfish, bald eagles, herons, cormorants....but I wasn't expecting to see these. Hundreds of these. The white pelicans of the upper Mississippi River.
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Oh..and by the was VERY hard to catch a fish in that spot. Wonder why??

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Know your camera

Same camera. 3 different standard settings (ya know..that little dial on the top that dictates 'AUTO', 'NIGHT', 'LANDSCAPE", etc). By just taking a couple extra pictures in different settings you can get different looks of the same subject. It's fast, easy, and gives you the choice of which picture works better.
*None of these pictures have been altered in any way*
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If you have any questions about camera settings, type of camera to buy, or any other photography related issues, please email

Monday, May 07, 2007

2 hours. 100 fish. 5 smiles.

Mike, Buzz, Pete and myself were guided by Jade Miller on his home water of the mighty Mississippi River this past saturday.

Jade reports "After evryone arrived we launched in Pool 15 of the mighty Miss and headed up to lock and dam 14. All gates were open leading to very stiff current and difficult boat control. The only real option was to head to a protected bend. This is when the rip rap shore started to produce bass of the largemouth and smallmouth variety. The first fish hit my Big-O right at the boat. I had another fish follow and swipe at the crank and Pete put two and two together and came up with a better method of catching fish, plastics!
Everyone caught some bass with a couple of nice 16" smallies as well(pictures on other cameras).

We then tried a flat off the main channel that turned out to be way to shallow. After that we went down tword the Arsenal Island. There is a very long lateral dam that seperates the main channel from the start of Sylvan Slough. This is a hot spot for smallies, but yet again the current proved too strong and we retreated back in to the slough for calmer water. Jamie got a white bass and I missed a fish that struck at the boat in there.

It was time for a change in plans. After trailering the boats and getting some gas we made for a launch in pool 16. Turns out Mike has fished the marina there before with great results, but the desicion was to run up to the dam I fish at lunch. Good choice.

At first when we entered I counted 5 other boats along with a slew of folks fishing the bank. We worked up a shore that I havecaught largemouth and whites on before and Pete did get a drum on a zip lure there. When we got to the dam we tried the fast water where I fish from shore with Pete snaging a shad. Thank goodness Mike, Jamie and Buzz went past us. In a corner of the dam where I have watched several boats fish without catching anything, these guys came upon a school of whites busting minnows. For the next two hours the action was virtually non stop.

Mike wrote: "I think in the last 90 minutes we boated around 100 whites between the 5 of us. Funny part was, the action was so fast and furious.... Jamie, Buzz and I didn't stop to take any photos. We had numerous triples and some of these whites were pushing 18". Best White Bass fishing ever! Period.

After the first 30 minutes Jamie and I switched to the 9' ultralights and 6# test. What an absolute blast. An 3# white bass in a strong current on a 9' ultralight is quite the fight.

We were the only people catching fish in that pool and the way the current lined up we sat right on the fish the whole time. Sure was hard to leave and as usual, I had to make the panic run home to get my ass kicked.

Kept enough big fish for a fry and released the rest. Jade we owe you one, or two or three.."

Pete reports on the trip: "I just love getting out to new places. It's even better when someone already knows a few spots to try. I got there first and had a half an hour to kill while waiting for everyone. Almost got my first topwater bass of the year at the launch but missed. We headed out and tried a few places that would have been good with a little less wind and current. Finally got in some slack water and landed a few bass with a couple being real solid keepers. By 11;30 we only had that handful of bass and I know Jade was feeling it. You always want people to come and when they do you want them to slay the fish. That didn't happen early. Jade mentioned locking thru and I told him I often trailer to different pools on the Illinois and its much faster and saves on the more expensive boat gas. He drove like a maniac the 20 minutes to the new pool and the miricle of the day wasn't the fishing it was that Mike and I didn't lose him trailering our 800 pounds of boat. Once there we decided to hit the spots Jade kills at in his lunch runs and this was the ticket. Whites were in one little area thick and hit just about everything thrown at them. Lots of people there had missed them or else they were looking for walleye and sauger. The way they were positioned was ideal as our 2 boats could surround them and keep everyone else away. Nice big whites in heavy current is a blast. Between the 5 of us we must have throw at least 10 different artificial and they all had there moments. We had to go or we would have continued to catch them as this area loaded with minnows and was going to keep on replenishing at this time of year. Here are the photos from my camera. I hope we all get together soon for another Saturday run somewhere."

And I report: "
There's not much to add that hasn't already been said.
I had the curse going strong for the first half of the trip. Anyone within 100 yards of me got virtually blanked and blanked hard. At one point Jade frantically waved our boat off, sighting the curse as the apparent stop to the action.
But all was not lost. It took time. Alot of bait changes. Alot of patience. But I finally connected with a nice smallie which was my first fish out of The Ol' Miss. That was in the first section of river, surrounded by cormorants and a hundred white pelicans.
The white bass we ran into at the second dam....I'm still in awe. Total awe. Never have I seen whites that big. The fish I fileted that night were unbelievably huge. I was cutting each filet into 3 seperate pieces for fish fry. I had some filets that were measuring 10" long by 8" high. Take out a ruler and look at that. THAT'S a big friggin filet. Several fish were in the 17-18" class.
The lures that worked were...well, just about anything that a white could hit. Bass and walleye lures were gettin' smacked by these huge whites with ease. Buzz was even catching them on a 3" Ika on a 1/8oz Slider head. Oh..speaking of Buzz; he does this annoying thing were he sits in the boat after banging fish for a while and fishes as stupidly as he can, refusing to stand up to land the fish, using some WAY oversized lure on some whippy ultra light....basically being a smart ass and tempting fate. He connected with a monster (what we think was probably a smallie) that bulldogged under the boat and came unglued. Nice goin' Buzz. Normally he lands those fish in his ever-so-lax style of carefree fishing, but karma finally slapped him with a loss. Still, for only his second day out this year he's good numbers-wise til Canada. I think all of us in "The Local Moron" (Mike's boat) are.
At one point Jade was automatic with a twister/float combo. It was insane. Every.Sinle.Cast. Pete was on a streak for a while as well. So was Mike when he switched to twister/float that he and Jade where drifting in the boils under a barge. I had my moments of madness with a white rooster tail and a plain 1/16oz jig and a 2" twister. Buzz had a stint here or there as well that set off his white bass fishing career.
Here's some pics from the trip.

Notice the mojo?? The Customfish hats. They're running out. You better get one soon to cover your mellon. contact and we'll toss in some free baits as well., I'm gonna change the subject here. Let's talk about danger a little.
THAT is without a doubt the most dangerous insane one-bad-move-and-your-dead river I have ever personally seen...and I've seen a few from the U.S. , Mexico, The U.K., Italy, and Canada. I'd like to put it into words what it's like in a boat 100 yards in front of the rollers, but I can't. If I never get that close again it's ok. There was no boat control in some spots. You could run the trolling motor full out and you were still going backwards while being sucked into this vortex or that. The boat got spun around a time or two with no way to hold it back. We missed a small ladder in a corner thingy once that, if we would have NOT missed it by 3" could have easily taken a piece of the boat off or thrown it off balance just enough to roll the whole dame thing. I'm not shittin' you...I got nervous a couple times. The power of the Mississippi if merciless and now that i have been in it I'll give that river my total respect. It's fast anywhere there's not a current break, and even the current breaks are a huge swirling vortex of spinning water. It makes high water on the Fox look like a weak stream. It's nuts. If you've never been on the Mighty Miss do NOT go out there blind and without a guide/map. There's more hazzards than you can count. The depths go from 20'-1.5' in a matter of a couple yards.
Anyway..we're all good. Lots of fish were caught. We laughed alot and had a great day out there. That's got to be at least an annual trip.

Check back tomorrow for even more pictures from our Mississippi River Trip.
Also included are some of Jade and his friends catches during the week. These guys have Mississippi River fishing down to a science. Keep in mind that most of these pictures are from short trips during lunch hour....these guys aren't wasting any time! They get on quality fish, land 'em, and still have time to eat. THAT is some pretty productive angling skill.

In other news, field reporter Pat Halko went muskie fishing. It's not good enough for him to go catching sharks from a kayak. So he comes back home and has an unreal day of muskie fishing. I'll post the details and the VERY impressive pictures if I get approval from he and his partner. Please stay tuned for that. You wont want to miss it.

Next up, here's Customfish Field reporter Ken with your fly fishing report:
" Larger flies are being ignored. Most of these fish were caught fairly shallow, on the deep side of a weed edge. When I sent to smaller files (mostly weighted nymphs) I am getting hits from large panfish and a few bass. I was out again yesterday for 3 hours and got probably 8-10 panfish and one 14" Largemouth. All on the 5 wt fly rod. The biggest challenge has been winds and finding the pockets where the fish are."
Here's a recent 18" trophy largemouth bass Ken landed on one of his 5 WT fly rods.
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And finally, some closing shots from Captain Jade Miller who is indeed ON FIRE.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

So...Pat bought a boat.

I'm sure you remember Pat, our shark-fishing-from-a-kayak field reporter here at customfish.
Well.....he bought a boat.
People, hear me on this. The picture you are looking at is NOT altered in any way. That is Pat's car...and Pat's boat.
Yeah... we are kinda speechless too. And he's our latex salesman???

In other news: The bass are spawning. Go fish for crappies for a week. The bass action has been a little slow lately anyway due to ever changing weather patterns.

And we close this session with these four links.
This guy lied. Alot.
Whoa...what's with the moose and Napoleon?
Your bald spot is sunburned, buddy.
Bad dog! Go home!