A great spinning reel for a great price

Since learning to use a baitcaster effectively, I have not been a big fan of spinning reels.  I am not a big finesse fisherman, and maybe that’s why I stay away from spinning reels.  But, at the same time, I know I’m missing out on some fish because I don’t like to throw light stuff.  Sometimes you just need that.

I was recently introduced to a company called Piscifun, and had the opportunity to try out their Viper II spinning reel.  The 2000-series reel is smaller than what I am used to, and maybe that makes part of the difference.  I was always throwing at least a 3000-series spinning reel at the urging of my former fishing mentor and late husband (who is one and the same).This may have been part of the issue, but I don’t think it was all of it.

The Viper II is very well constructed, from what I have seen so far, and I’ve had the chance to use it several times.  It feels good in my hand.  Everything is tight and secure. It lets me get those long casts out there and is small enough for even a klutz like me to keep out of my own way with it.  I have thrown both braid and mono on the set up with solid results.

The construction of this quality-priced reel will get you right out of the package. It is super light, at just 9.6 ounces, but just feels tougher than most. It did not give me the feeling of having a fairy stick in my hand when paired with the same Denali rods I have been using for several years now. The reel has a 10+1 bearing set up, which makes it really smooth.  The line went on the reel well, and, like I said, I had no problems casting it as far as I wanted to.  Not only that, but because the reel is light, it works great for pitching and flipping, too.  That makes a difference to me, and it might not to some, but I don’t like a heavy, bulky reel when I’m pitching all day.

Also, when it comes to pitching, I tend to want to pitch into some pretty nasty stuff, which is not always the best idea with a spinning set up. But, the 6.2:1 gear ratio in the Viper II helped me get some good fish out of some nasty stuff.  I’m not saying I “couldn’t have” gotten those fish out with a lesser reel, but I am saying after the first time I felt completely confident that this one would not fail me when combining the speed with a really strong drag.

Lastly, the reel just looks good.  While that is probably one of the least important things an angler should consider, I think we can all kind of agree, it’s cool to have a cool-looking reel. This reel is black with green highlights that pop. It also have a comfortable handle grip that is not just stylish, but it keeps your hand from slipping off when reeling in those big fish, no matter the conditions. Even an all-day rain will not make the handle grip slippery and, unfortunately, I found that out one day.  Hey, a person only has so many days they can get on the water. You have to take the weather you’re dealt!

Overall, I have to say, especially for the price (you can get this one on Amazon for about $40), I would recommend this reel.  So far I haven’t found any drawbacks.  If you happen to see me on the water this summer, take a close look.  You might just see something weird – me with a spinning set up in my hand!  I’d love to hear what other people think of this reel, too, so leave a comment if you’ve tried it and let me know what you think.

A new journey

After just over 3 years, I am leaving the Lakeland Times and Northwoods River News.  Time has come for new adventures.  I loved the job and hope I can keep some of the same contacts I had over the years.  I will be getting on with the business of life, but also with the business of Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine, starting in January.

The first edition will be some of the stories I had set up for the May edition – when my husband’s cancer finally started taking over his body, and our lives.  It was not an easy few months, and the months since have been harder than I could have ever planned.  But here we are, on the other side, ready to embark on a great new adventure.  Stressful, for sure, especially moving into town with two 10-year-old dogs who have only ever known country life.  Apartment living will be a big adjustment, for all of us.  But enough about all of that.

This blog will come alive again, with all of the things I would normally put in a column for the newspaper. I will write about whatever comes to my head in the way of the outdoors, and I will not have to worry about it being taken as the newspaper’s opinion.  It will be all my opinion about facts and known changes that may be taking place in the world in which we live.

From time to time, everything needs to be reinvented to stay fresh and current.  So here I am, starting something new and different and fun and exciting.  Bring on the world!

Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine is in the works

Are you a tournament angler in Wisconsin?  Are you interested in fishing tournaments?  A new magazine is about to launch that you will want to check out.  It’s called Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine.  Each month the magazine will be filled with stories about Wisconsin anglers – maybe there will be a story about you, your club, a friend or someone you’ve fished against for years.

As I read through magazines like FLW Bass Magazine and Bassmaster Magazine, it bothered me that no one was writing about the local, state-level angler. No one was writing about the guys and gals who are the grassroots of our sport. All of you put in a great deal of work with unlimited drive and dedication. Someone, I decided a few months ago, needs to tell those stories.  Wisconsin Tournament Angler Magazine will do just that.

There is also a forum set up for Wisconsin tournament anglers to chat, either in the forum or in real time through the Shout box. I am also in the process of setting up a calendar of tournaments attached to the forum.  The forum can be found at http://www.wisconsintournamentangler.com.  Those interested can also like the magazine on Facebook @WITournamentAngler.

Wisconsin Tournament Tales will be back at the beginning of the season, still covering tournament results. This is a weekly newsletter sent directly to your inbox. Links to each edition are also available on the Facebook page @WisconsinTournamentTales.

I encourage you to check out the forum and chat with other anglers as well as to take a look at the magazine.

 

RIO HOW TO: The Double Haul

Check out this incredibly informative video explaining the double-haul in fly fishing. Fly fishing techniques can be intimidating, but this video really breaks it down and makes it easy!

The Ozark Fly Fisher Journal

From RIO:

In this episode of RIO’s “How To” series, RIO brand manager Simon Gawesworth shows how easy it is to learn the double haul – a highly useful casting skill that will give you more distance, greater line control and more effect in a tough wind. The Double Haul is an essential skill to master for anyone who wants to fish in saltwater.

RIO’s “How To” videos are a series of short films that explain all you need to know to learn a particular way to fish, or cast. Where applicable, each film talks through the gear that you need, shows how to rig the gear, how to read the water, and how to fish that particular technique.

These invaluable lessons for the fly fisher are packed with information and top tips, and each one is bought to you by a RIO employee or a RIO brand ambassador.

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Awash in Microplastics: Great Lakes Studies Raise Questions

A very interesting article about micro plastics. It’s not just microbeads that are the problem for the Great Lakes and their tributaries. A very worthwhile read!

The Outdoor Journal

16807991226_08b707d645_o Schooner Inland Seas sails on  Grand Traverse Bay as students study microplastics in the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of ISEA.

By Howard Meyerson

When the schooner Inland Seas slips her berth at Suttons Bay on June 24, her captain, crew and passengers will share in a voyage of discovery—a two-hour educational journey under sail to learn about microplastics, an emerging environmental problem that ills the Great Lakes.

The two-year-old program, called “Exploring Microplastics,” is offered by the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA), a nonprofit that teaches Great Lakes science aboard the 61-foot schooner. Its passengers will examine what crew members find while conducting a fine-mesh trawl for plankton. They will learn how tiny plastic particles enter the food chain and a lot more about how microplastics foul Great Lakes waters.

Jeanie Williams, ISEA’s lead scientist and education specialist, says plastic pollution is common in Lake Michigan. She and the ship’s…

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Opening weekend of fishing season

The day so many anglers have waited for is finally almost here! Game fish season opens in Wisconsin tomorrow.  Of course, in the north, where I live, musky season isn’t open yet and smallmouth is catch and release only until June… but it still marks the beginning of what every angler hopes is another successful season. It does not matter if you are on the water in search of dinner, or to bring home tournament winnings. If you love fishing, this weekend is something that gets you excited.

Now, that is not to say that all of us head out on opening weekend.  Quite the contrary. To me, I prefer to let the tourists and the weekend warriors fill the boat ramps (sometimes for up to 20 minutes while they prep their boat, which should have been done long before they moved into the actual launching lane….). This year I don’t have a tournament that I’m prefishing for, so I might just stay off the water on Saturday.  If I were to have prefishing plans, though, I’d launch at first light and attempt to be off the water by 11.  But, for many bodies of water in northern Wisconsin, that can be the best idea anyway.  For the most part, you have the water to yourself with other fishermen when you fish early.  The later in the day it gets… well, I think it goes without saying.

I’d really like to wish everyone a successful weekend, but more than that I hope you all stay safe.  I’ve already seen an ambulance go by three times this evening, and most people aren’t even on the water yet.  If you haven’t towed your boat anywhere since last fall, please check over your wheels, tires and trailer. Sometimes we get so excited to get out fishing finally that we forget the simple things. And, to be honest, a bunch of the people towing a boat to their opening day destination don’t tow anything that often.  If a trailer tire blows, it can cause a huge issue the they aren’t prepared to deal with.  It can happen.  I think many of us have seen it. A lot of these problems can be rectified by doing some basic maintenance before leaving home. It’s not only a good idea, it could save a life.

I also hope everyone stays safe once they get to the water. No one who doesn’t already wear their life jacket all the time wants to hear, “wear your life jacket,” but I’m going to say it anyway.  I want you to be here tomorrow and next week and next year, reading my blog and wondering if I ate lead paint as a child (I think I might have, but you can hardly tell anymore!). Things happen on the water, and they happen quickly. Our best defense is a good offense, as the saying goes.  Wearing a life jacket, especially when water temps are low – most reports I’ve heard are in the 50s – may save your life.  I recently read that it is not hypothermia that kills 75% of the people who fall into cold water.  The biggest killer, they say, is the involuntary gasp reflex when a person hits that cold water.  It’s a reflex, and it’s not something you can prevent.  It just happens.  With that reflex, water enters your lungs.  If you are wearing a life jacket that can hold your head above water, your chances of expelling that water and getting back to safety are much, much better.  I wear an automatic inflatable, pretty much from the time I step on the dock until I have the boat back on the trailer.  I don’t swim, so it’s really important to me. But, even if you see yourself as a strong swimmer, life jackets are still a good idea.  If you should happen to fall out of the boat and hit your head – I won’t finish that.  I’m sure you can fill in the blank.

But, enough about life jackets.  I hope you wear one.  I hope you make everyone in your boat wear one.  Okay, one more thing:  I heard this statistic and I think it’s probably pretty close.  I was told it came from the Fish and Wildlife Service, but I don’t know that to be true.  So, here it is: 90% of fishermen who drown (males) are found with their zipper down.  So, don’t think drowning just happens when you’re running across the lake, hit a big wake wrong and fly out of your boat. Is it true?  Who knows for sure, but it’s a fun fact, so I like to throw it out there.

From what I’m hearing, the weekend should set up pretty well for fishing. We’ve got a pretty good front coming through right now as I write this and the temperature is dropping, but that’s to be expected when the mercury head over 80 in May (Wait.  do they still use mercury?).  The wind has picked up quite a bit from the time I sat down at the keyboard, and I am hearing a bit of thunder.  The radar looks ugly to the north.  From Park Falls through Minocqua and Eagle River are getting a pretty good size thunder storm and it seems to be heading my way.  That could change things up a bit for fishing tomorrow, but I think it will still be a great day.  The walleye are done spawning in many lakes and should even be coming out of their post-spawn funk.  So, if that’s what you’re targeting, I hope you find your dinner.  Make sure to check the signs at the launch ramps for any size and slot limits.

For pan fishermen, you should also be sure to check the signage at the ramp.  There are three new panfish regulations in place that might change the number and kinds of fish you can take. The regulations have changed bag limits on 93 lakes in Wisconsin and are part of a 10-year management plan.  The idea is to see which plan on various types of lakes achieves the goal of more panfish and larger panfish.

The 25/10 rule states that 25 is the daily bag limit of panfish, but an angler may take no more than 10 of any one species.

The Spawning Season 15/5 rule says that only 15 panfish may be taken during the months of May and June, and only 5 of those may be of any one species.

Under the 15/5 rule, only 15 panfish may be kept and only 5 of those may be of any one species.

Obviously, not all lake are affected by these rules. But anglers should make sure they check any signage at the launch ramp, or check with a local bait shop, to see if bag limits on their destination lake have changed.

I wish you all good luck and tight lines this weekend.  And remember – hook sets are free!

 

 

Spring hearings

Everywhere in Wisconsin tonight, in every county, outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen had the chance to voice their opinions. They had the chance to attend a spring hearings meeting to let the DNR know what they thought of any proposed rules and also to vote on some resolutions proposed by their peers.  _DSC0727.JPG

This was the scene in Oneida County.  There were approximately 70 people who stayed for the meeting.  Of course, there was the option to fill out the questionnaire and then leave.  And  few people did that.  I think it’s great that they took the time to come out and voice their opinions. I understand that everyone is super-busy and it’s hard to find the time to go and do these things.

One thing was interesting, and I just thought of it writing this.  There was only one kid in the room tonight, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone bring their children to the spring hearings in the last several years that I’ve attended. Outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen talk quite a bit about the next generation and what is best for them.  Yet they never bring their children to one of the best events every year, where kids can learn how the rule process works and how they can challenge the status quo in the world of the outdoors.  For kids who are the future of our outdoor sporting heritage, venues such as this give them a chance to think about what is important to them. They have a chance to learn and grow as thinking people. They will see not only their parents’ point of view, but the point of view and ideas of others. From there they can make their own informed decisions, and maybe even do more research, about different things that do and will effect the future of the sports we love.  Why are there no children at these events?  It’s puzzling. That one kid, by the way, is now a youth member of our CDAC, and I applaud him for stepping up. I also applaud his parents for allowing him to get involved in something he cares about and in something where he can make a difference.

Another thing that was sorely lacking – all of the people who have griped about columns I’ve written or articles I’ve penned in the local newspaper over the last six months.  Those people, the same ones who will call me in the months to come, as rules and regulations change, and complain that they don’t like those changes, they were the other element that was missing tonight. I did not see one of them there.  It seems not one of them was really willing to stand up for the things they call me or email me about. I understand it is much easier to sit in the tavern and complain to your buddies about what is wrong and how you could fix the whole system.  But the problem is, if you are given an avenue to comment, and you refuse to take the time to do so, then it truly cannot be that important to you.  So, before I hear from twenty of you when I print the statewide results (once they are available), please remember one thing.  It’s kind of like the election for president (or any other office) – if you didn’t vote, you don’t have the right to ….. gripe ….. about it.  Seriously.  Get out and make some meaningful change, if that is what you think needs to happen.

For all of you who made it to the spring hearings in your county, whether just to fill out your ballot, or if you stayed for the entire meeting, I applaud you.  I thank you, no matter if your opinion matches with mine or not, for taking the time to show you care about the future of the outdoors.  I wish there were more people like you.