Monday, March 31, 2008

Say hello to my little friend!!!

Please excuse me as I put on my totally psychopathic, deranged, maniacal alter ego clown suit for a minute. you've all been following the ramblings of a madman (me) as I work day and night in my dungeon on an entire series of Frankstein-esque lures. Fueled by an endless supply of Starbucks coffee and a drink that Mike and I call "The Pipestone" (send me an email for the recipe. the visions came to life in grotesque forms of bastardized greatness brandishing ultra sharp hook and an attitude that could only be described as...well...piss in a bottle.
First was the Nemo Slider. I mean..really..think about it.. who the hell would take a child's iconic figure and turn it into an instrument of destruction? I'll tell you who. Me.

Next I thought 'why not take some nice cute unassuming tropical fish and...well...ya know....turn them into instruments of destruction.' And a series of Malawi Bucktails and Spoons were born. Awww..such a cute little fish. Too bad there's a massive friggin hook sticking out of it's....

Then, something went wrong. A bolt of lightning hit the house and ran thru the entire dungeon while I was in the midst of painting pretty,pretty flowers on a muskie lure. And from that incident was born something unseen by man. A boa constrictor skin wrapped Magnum Spook.

Yesterday though, something different happened. Something....well..evil.
Hey..have you ever seen 'Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde"? Yes? Ok, keep that in mind.

If you've been reading this site for a while you'll surely recognize this character.

Ah yes. Wilson. The legendary Wilson. The single most devistating topwater bass lure ever created by God himself. He is responsible for catching more bass than any other lure I or anyone I know has thrown. His record is superb. His offenses are relentless. His demeanor is ruthless. He IS the Master of Disaster...The King Of Sting..The Count of Minto Fist-O! He talks smack and backs it up with a bitchslap. He takes no prisoners. And the slightest hum of his theme music (Darth Vader's Imperial March) causes Mike to instantly drop his rod and cry out " Oh that's just great. Why don't ya just catch 'em ALL while you're at it. I quit!".
Yes. He IS the lure that I will take on ANYONE reading this article with. I'll take your money. He'll take your pride. And we'll both wipe that silly smile off your face!

For years I tried to think of an equal for bigger quests. We do, after all, go after things like this.

And while Wilson would be more than happy to enter the abyss of monster laden waters filled with thousands of angry competitors complete with sets of 400 razor sharp teeth each, I tend to hold him back. I'm not about to lose my secret weapon.
But what could be just as lethal to fish like that? Sure I have a Child's icon that is sure to send waves of hatred thru the water. And I have my cutesy Malawi bucktails that look rather unassuming, yet will surely pull your heart out and step on it with stiletto heals. And I even have a Spook wrapped in boa skin that just screams 'Go ahead...make my day.' But I had nothing that would strike fear into the hearts of men and monster fish alike.
Until now.
Maybe it was too much Starbucks. Maybe it was just a moment of genius. Or possibly a moment of madness. I needed help. Or at the very least a sedative. A call was placed to a fellow mad scientist with a steadier hand then mine.
The Magnum Super Spook was sent out with a note that read "let me know when it's done."
What I got back was a message a couple days later on my phone that said simply "..something wicked this way comes..." *click

And that brings us back to yesterday. I hereby announce that fear will now be felt in the hearts of all! For I now hold The Kingdom, The Power, AND The Glory! (can I get an 'amen'?!)
Behold..The cloned monstrosity that is pure evil personified!
WILSON 2XL!!!!!!!

I know what you're thinking. Probably the same thing I was thinking the first time I saw it. Something kinda like this?

You're lucky! I have to live with this thing. I have to keep the son of a b**** chained up in the dungeon! hell, as soon as I let him out of his cage he did THIS!

Then he went after the cat! All I found was this!

I took one look and said "That's cold man. Just cold."
He smiled,Winked and said "As Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction..."I'm a mushroom cloud layin' mother******. Mother******!"

The next time you will see Wilson 2XL will be in early june when we venture to Great Slave Lake again. I'm sure he'll be featured in several photos of himself with victim monster pike. He is, after all, on a mission. And as Roddy Piper once said " I have come here to chew bubble gum and to kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

(Wilson 2XL was created by a new company called Mad Scientist Productions. For info, send me an email at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I've said this before and I'll say it again: We don't get impressed that easily. That's why we love our customers.We've seen some huge muskies. We have shown you a few. There's a bunch more that we can't show you due to our policy of secrecy unless the customer gives approval.
You guys give us some jobs that are truly awesome. Some of the biggest and the baddest fish in the water.
We're sending out such a job today.
Previously, the largest muskie we have done was a monster caught by Chad Cain. We did that fish twice because he caught it twice. I'm sure you muskie guys know the fish I'm talking about.

BUT...alas we have a NEW CHAMPION. The benchmark has been raised and you guys now have a new sheriff in town to try to beat!
The new holder of the crown for 'Largest Muskie Customfish Has Done' is Paul Schlagel, owner of Enduro Guide Service out of Clearwater, MN. Enduro specializes in hunting down monsters like this on Mille Lacs and a few other lakes in the area. I strongly urge you to check out his site. He's got a great forum on there along with some truly awesome reports! ( c'mon...hit those links. Paul just earned the Customfish Muskie Crown. He deserves it!)

So..without further adieu, I present to you Paul Schlagel of Enduro Guide Service. Your NEW CUSTOMFISH MUSKIE CHAMPION with a monster that measured 54 1/2" x 27 1/2"!
Truly awesome Paul!

And to think, it only cost him $75 plus shipping to get all 54 1/2" up on a wall!
Someone remind us to end that insane sale soon...please.

We also did this print for an Enduro Guide Service client. This fish is also an absolute beast coming in at 54". Caught in july '07 while fishing with Paul, Josh nailed this monster on one of his own hot spots! Nice goin' Josh!

In other news:
Last night was the annual St. Pat's dinner at Casa Del La Libation (Mike's house). We had traditional Irish fare along with traditional Irish beverages.
Q: What do you get when a Slovak and an Italian try to be Irish for one day?
A: Nothing positive...I can tell ya that.
If someone could please remind us next not to drink Guinness, Killians Red, a nutty irishman, Jamison, and an irish car bomb all in the same evening...we'd appreciate it.
So from all of us at Customfish we wish you a Happy St. Pats week.

We leave you today with one of our favorites: "Fish On" by Primus. Enjoy.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

More Customlures Frankenstien series

Attention! Mad scientist at work!
We got our white lab coats on again and went back into the dungeon.
Here's the latest creations from the minds of the angling insane.
First up is our Boa Constrictor Wrapped Magnum Spook.
It's no secret that we go after numbers of truly big fish. We don't accept dinks unless we have the children with. Period. And when this one hits the water in June...we'll be hiding the children.

Here's another creation that may just be the next Master Of Disaster. We call it The Rattlesnake Trap.

It's gonna take some seriously big, evil, pi##ed off fish to hit these baits. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

IN other news, Mike saw a Bald Eagle in downtown St. Charles, IL today on the Fox River. That's a first in that area.
My sighting wasn't quite as regal, but I did see 2 robins. That means spring is almost here. Thank God.

As you surely know by now, we fish everywhere. We don't just limit ourselves to one river. We have waders, boats,a couple trucks,some plane tickets and a couple fast cars to get us wherever we have to go to catch the biggest fish available, whether it's huge smallmouth in Ontario, Steelhead in a creek somewhere, or monster pike up near the Arctic Circle. We are serious about what we do and how we fish. After wouldn't make much sense to own a business dedicated to HUGE prints if we were catching dinks, now does it?
Consequently you also know that we take alot of other pictures besides just fish. This weeks shots come courtesy of Jamie and Steve Riani while fishing the Spirit Flowage in Tomahawk,WI at first light. Enjoy.

I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

Well, well, well..
So, let me get this straight O' Codfather..

You think you might be able to handle this?

Ok. Fair enough. Can you handle THIS?

What about THIS?

Ya might just get THIS.

Either way, I'm sure it'd make for alot of THIS.

Don Carpleone

( To the producers of the show: Thanks for the note.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

picture article

In the fishing world it's all about the picture. Especially in the muskie fishing world. If you don't have a picture then what do you have? A fishing story. And who believes fishing stories? Better yet, who believes a fishing story about a 55" muskie if there's no photo? Heck...even WITH a photo there's still argument by some. But at least with a great picture you have proof, and ammo against the argument.
Think of it this way; Who would read Playboy if there weren't any pictures in it? (Wait..someone actual reads Playboy???)
You get my point.

First is the equipment. Now, unless you actually work for Playboy there's no reason to get crazy here. Some people HAVE to have the best and that's ok. But then again there's some guys out there that do some serious damage on muskies by throwing a $5 bucktail they've had since 1982. It's all in knowing HOW to use the equipment..not how much you spent on it. We have a couple different cameras. They range from 5 megapixel to 8 megapixel.
But...BUT..There's 12's...15's...20's.. Don't I need those??

Here. Let me show you what you can do with an 8 megapixel Canon camera.
This is Gregg Thomas' booth that we did for him. The center photo was shot by us. If you've ever seen Gregg's booth you'll know that it's huge. 8 feet tall by 10 feet wide. That would make that center muskie about 15 feet long if it were alive. And if you looked closely at his booth you saw that you can count the rings on the scales of that fish. There's no sawtooth grain. It's crisp and clean and virtually unaltered other than making it 10' wide.

My main camera is a 5 meg Canon Powershot A-95. My partner uses the Canon 8meg SLR.
We like these cameras because they are simple to use, have true color, are relatively inexpensive, and have a flip screen.
Flip screen??? What's dat?
A flip screen is a viewing screen on the back of the camera that can be rotated out so that you can actually see yourself when you are shooting yourself.

It makes shots like this not only possible..but incredibly easy.

And those shots are a little more interesting than these kind of shots...

Ya see. There's no real frame of reference. Nothing in that photo lets you know that that fish was 21" long.

But what if you have a muskie and you're solo?
Yeah..that's a problem. But we think we found a solution.

I leave mine screwed into the camera and ready to go in my backpack. (That's why i wear a single strap i can whip it around to the front and access everything in a second). If you're in a boat have it already set up and ready to go.
Have the timer pre-set and all the other settings on the highest possible.
Don't worry about getting the shot 100% level. Just worry about getting the picture taken correctly and in focus. You can level it in any iphoto or photoshop program later. Heck send it to me and I'll do it for ya.
The legs on the gorillapod can be molded to fit any surface no matter how curved,rocky,tackle infested..whatever. The legs flex and they can also wrap around anything, like the steering wheel of the boat.
It makes shots like this possible.

Now here's a word of advice. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Practice at home. Because the LAST thing you want to be doing is fumbling with a camera when a muskie goes crazy in your hands/net. You need to know what button does what. And HOPEFULLY when you set up the camera on the steering wheel BEFORE you started casting today, you took a practice shot of yourself in the EXACT spot you'll be holding that fish. That way you will have seen that you and your fish will fit in the frame.
DO NOT...I repeat...DO NOT...take pictures solo, check them, find out you aren't even in the frame, set it up again, and repeat the process 5 times. NO fish's life is worth that, just because ya didn't practice a shot first.

Batteries. Did you put the freshly recharged batteries in? Because there's nothing more depressing than turning it on to take a picture of a trophy and getting the "Change the batteries" message. I've done it myself. We all do that. But now i carry a couple things extra with me all the time.
1) extra batteries.
and 2) A cell phone.
Cell phone pictures suck. True. can also save the story. Plus it can prove to your wife that yes, you really are out fishing.
Here's a cell phone shot that I had to take because my camera batteries were dead. (duh!) a pinch it's better than nothing.

Remember when I mention using the highest settings? many muskies are you going to catch today? 1? 2? 5? (You BETTER have pictures if you're sayin' 5!)
How many pictures can your memory card hold?
900?! Really? Now that's impressive.
Wow. 900 pictures.
But that's 900 pictures at the LOW resolution setting. So basically you're going to take 900 pictures of ONE muskie and they are all gonna look like crap.
Ok..people. We're gonna catch 5 muskies today. Even if you ONLY get 70 pictures on your camera because the settings are ultra ultra high...there's no way you're gonna shoot 70 pictures of 5 fish!
See where I'm going with this? yourself a favor and always use the highest settings. That way you can have the best looking shots AND be able to make a wall out of them if you want to.

The sun: It can be a great thing to use in shots! Like this:

If you know a trick or two you can even do stuff like this easily:

BUT..The sun can also kill you. Like this:

That is why you should ALWAYS face the sun when being photographed. If you can't due to boat position then use a flash. A simple flash would have saved those last two shots.

Size Matters.
Sure does. It's our company slogan. And it's the idea behind big game fishing.
My best advice to you is this: GET SMALL TO GET BIG!
A 6'+ tall guy standing while holding a big fish looks great.

BUT..a 6'+ tall guy KNEELING/CROUCHING while holding a big fish looks AWESOME.
Like this:

And my last tip would be this:

There is nothing more ridiculous looking than that! Do NOT hold the fish out. Hey...if it's a big fish it'll look huge anyway! If you pose right ( like the older gentleman in that other featured pic. Chad Cain's client, Hershel Orenstein) it's gonna be the shot of a lifetime!
But NOT try to pull a "Louie Spray" and push the fish out to make it look bigger....or as in that last picture, try to make a muskie look like a beluga whale.

Oh..and last but not leat... SMILE. You just caught something that very few people on the planet can catch. Enjoy the moment.

Monday, March 03, 2008

3-1-08. Customfish TV is on the air!

Happy March everyone.
We have a couple new things we're going to be doing this year.
How about this? CUSTOMFISH TV!
Yep. It's happening. The first installment is in the can.
All the episodes are going to be right here. So check back often. We don't believe in set schedules.
We're going to show you alot. What we do. How we fish. And some stuff that just shouldn't be on video.
Sure Jimmy Houston gives his little fishies a kiss. But have ya ever seen anyone lick one???
Ya see where I'm going with this?

First up is going to be us freezing our a$$es of this past saturday. Luckily the fish cooperated and it's not just shots of Mike slipping the tongue to a fish, or Mike trying to quit smoking with the help of a cheese stick.
Our fish totals were pretty good. While everyone else is sitting on their butts inside we were out there catching a mix of smallmouth, largemouth and hybrid greengills. The biggest catches were a couple of 18" largemouth and a monster 16"+ crappie that one of the attending anglers caught.


PLUS..We're toying with the idea of some new apparel. Kinda in a different direction. After seeing the new breed of anglers at the shows in the past few years, it ocured to us that a new "look" in the sport may be needed. Something that reflects the general attitude of the 20-30 year old anglers who talk to us at the booth.
This is the rough draft of one of our own hand drawn pieces. We'll let you know when it goes into production. Drop us an email and let us know what you think.

Copyright 2008 by Jamie Riani
( Don't even think about lifting it :) . We track everything here.)

In other news:
I got the opportunity to watch a few fishing shows this weekend. Normally I stay away from fishing shows for 3 reasons. 1) We're "inside" the fishing business. So we know for every muskie you usually see caught on a fishing show by a "pro", there was about a week's worth of footage of him casting into nothingness. Plus I know of a couple "pros" that have people pre-fish spots for them and save them fish. That doesn't take skill at all. ( yes Bob..I was blatantly talking about YOU right there.). and #2) I HATE tournaments. Especially springtime tournaments where these guys are fishing bass off their beds and then taking them to a weigh in station miles away. And again, we're "inside" the business and know a few tournament anglers who we wouldn't have in our homes. So basically I'd rather watch Mike lick a fish than watch most of these guys yank a fish out of the water and flop it on the deck.
And lastly) We are either working, fishing, or spending time with our kids. Those three things trumps any fishing show unless we're on it. And even then we missed the last one.
So anyway, I got to watch Beat Charlie Moore. I like Charlie. Sure he's dodging me like a head-high fastball. He wants no part of this. Who would? Especially for a TV show. What? ESPN is gonna show their star getting his a$$ handed to him on his own show by the likes of us??
Next I watched The World's Greatest Fishing Show with Mark Zona. Thank God he has Pete Maina on who happens to be in the same circle of circus performers as us. Otherwise I might have changed the channel. I'm sure Mark is a nice guy and feely admits to not being the best angler or the best host..but c'mon! He's from this area and didn't know a thing about muskies?? I dunno..Zona just kinda irritates me anyway. I thought I was loud and obnoxious! I may very well be. But I also have enough calss to know not to bash the Packers while IN Pete's boat ON Green Bay.
Later that morning I caught some of the Musky Hunter TV Show. I liek the show but HATE the time slot. We just can't seem to be freed up at that time of a saturday morning.,fish,kids, all that stuff. But still, a great show. Hopefully you guys all caught Customfish Pro-Staffer John Mich on last week's episode.

John Mich with a Customfish muskie, seen on Musky Hunter TV.
It was great to see the video-catch-footage of a fish that we at Customfish put on the wall.
And finally, it's random picture time!
WWW.CUSTOMFISH.COM is all about the pictures. And man-o-man do we put up some good ones!
We have literally thousands of shots. So many that we have to host them on seperate hard drives.
So...we're starting something new for 2008. Random Picture Time!
We start with these 2.
I call this one "The Hot Seat"
It's an unaltered shot. No photoshopping. No cloning. Nothing. Just the right angle with the camera, a bench and a fire 6' apart.

And this one we call "Burro with a dish"
This is a trailer along side the Fox River. Mike and I hit this spot once a week on our usual milk run aboard his boat. that wall is a great smallie spot.
BUT....more importantly, the Burro Camper has a satelite dish.
What is this world coming to, we ask?

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