June 11, 2013
This past Monday was a long day in the spray booth and by the time the afternoon rolled around I had fishing on my mind. Spraying out the final lot of jigs for the day, I decided I would take an adventure below Hauser dam to hunt brown trout. Asking dad if he wanted to go, he said “I have some things to get done and it’s been a long day Trev.” Bummed my partner wasn’t up for the trip; I grabbed my rods and headed out. Not even changing from my painting clothes, I made a quick stop for a couple Gatorades and to the river I went.
After catching a few smaller trout, I couldn’t help but notice all the dead crayfish on the shore. As I’ve said in all the seminars I do, “ALWAYS, ALWAYS pay attention to the different forage in the area your fishing.” About the time I was digging into my pack to tie on the Supercraw Glass Minnow, movement caught my eye on the dam. Somebody was walking across the dam; somebody that looked a lot like dad…it is dad!! I was like a kid in the plastic worm section of a Bass Pro Shop…dad was coming to join me!! As we combined forces, the witching hour was now approaching fast and it was time to get down to business.
Studies have shown that summertime fluvial brown trout can travel up to ten miles nightly in search of prey once the sun sets for the day. It has also been researched that HUGE browns usually only eat every so often…so the more you’re out there…the better the chance. Being a dedicated night fisherman anyways, this trip was nothing new…minus the net full of bats that were crashing into my headlamp. Dad was like, “My gosh, these little buggers are everywhere,” and I replied, “Think big browns dad, big browns.”
After a few more casts, I saw a set of glowing eyes in my headlamp as my jig neared the shore. Stopping my jig right on the surface, a 20” walleye grabbed my jig and retreated to the deep water making a top water explosion right at my feet. Trying to come to grasps with what had just happened, the little devil got off my line! Before I could utter a dirty word, my dad yelped, “Got one Trev,” and we watched as an awesome 23” brown trout came to the shore. After a quick release and a slimy high five, our rods were again singing and the Glass Minnows flying.
Since we had been finding most of the browns higher in the water column we were using 1/8 and 1/4 ounce jigs and fishing pretty fast. It is really deep where we are fishing and full of current so it’s hard to get your jigs down. Dad said, “Hey Trev, why don’t you try a heavier jig and see if they are deeper tonight?” So I dug into my tackle bag and found a 3/8 ounce Supercraw Glass Minnow and added a 3” new penny Gulp minnow to bulk up the presentation. As I launched my jig into the darkness, I gave it a few seconds to sink before starting my cadence. On the second jig up of the cast…BOOOOM!!! And I mean BOOOOM CHUCKA LUCKA!!
Getting bit by big brown trout is better than cold beer and pizza, better than a hot shower after a week at hunting camp, heck it’s darn near as good as it gets!! This brown hit my jig so hard it literally shook my whole body and about ripped my rod from my hands. As if that’s not exciting enough, the next four or five seconds is like having your jig hooked to the bumper of a sprint car blowing off the starting line!! This my friends, is why I spend countless hours out here doing what I do…because at this very instant, the hundreds of casts you took make it all worth it!! After a few more minutes of doing epic battle, we set eyes upon the beast…and a true beast it was!! As the behemoth neared the bank, dad scooped him into the net and the high fives were a flying!! Dad kept yelling, “What a freakin’ SLAB, did that thing swallow and NFL football?”
Yes that is Supercraw red and Fire Tiger green on my jeans...a friend of mine who saw the pick said "Heck, you ought to add a couple hooks and jig yourself by the looks of it"
Before our very eyes was a rare fish, a perfect specimen having beautiful color, length, shape and FAT!! The brown was 28” long, and by the looks of him I wouldn’t want to be a small trout in his river:) We snapped a quick photo (lucky my dad was there to take it) and slipped him back into the water. But not before laying a big ol’ slopping smooch on him (we call it “The Kit’s Stamp”.) After disappearing into his swirling realm, dad looked at me and said, “You think he will tell any of his friends he was kissed by a human?” Laughing, I replied, “I BET NOT; that would be pretty embarrassing for a fish of that caliber.”
The neat thing about brown trout is that they are all so different…and all so breathtakingly beautiful!! There is no way to describe the feeling of looking out across a river and then being lucking enough to lift a brown trout from its waters. The best way to describe it would be like lifting a three dimensional oil painting directly from Mother Nature’s garden. It is truly one of the neatest things I’ve ever encountered in this life-
We're here to rock....creek!!
June 6, 2013
A couple of babes that helped us nail down 4th place!!
Before I get lost in the wonders of Fort Peck, I want you to really think about something truly AWESOME first. The team that took the 2013 Rock Creek Walleye Tournament had just shy of ninety pounds of fish for a two day bag (ten fish.) Having caught a lot of big fish myself, it is still not easy to wrap my head around a nine pound average for the ten fish in the box…DANG!! My partner and I pulled an impressive two day weight of almost 54 pounds and finished in 4th place. There are not many tournaments where a team pulls a weight in the mid-fifties and gets 4th place…gotta love Fort Peck and the fishery it is!! The weather was so unforgiving the days before the tournament my partner Ken Schmidt and I were not able to pre-fish which hurt us on game day, but we fished hard and made up for it!! As for the tournament days, they were two of the nicest days (weather wise) I have ever seen on Fort Peck.
As I headed over the north hill out of Helena on the way to Rock Creek, I took a deep breath thinking about the riveting 450 miles in front of me. In fact, the drive to Fort Peck is so freaking exciting I would put it right up there with the time I went skydiving or having a 350” bull elk bugling his head off at ten yards…NOT!!! As the drive never gets any shorter, Fort Peck gets more glamorous every time I see her. After getting settled in and seeing all my Rock Creek friends it was time to rig a few rods and hit the sack. After a short night, it was time to ROCK, literally!!
After uncovering the boat we were ready to launch and I could already see the hesitance in my partner’s eyes. No matter how many times I back a boat down the darn ramp his big Ranger gets me every time…I make us look like real pros out there I tell ya. I can see Ken now telling people as I back him in, “I don’t even know who this guy is, he just offered to back me in.” Ha ha!! Being last out the first day, there was with no surprise a few boats in our spot. Before I could even get my jig in the water the walleye goddess was loaded up with big fish…and no, I’m not talking about my partner Ken. If you know Whit and Carly Rush or see a Ranger with a great guy and his wife and her pink rod…ahh the pink rod (What I wouldn’t give for that thing!!) you better watch out. As your fishing attorney, I advise you to leave the area because Carly will catch all the fish before you…TRUST ME!! Not only did she put on a jig fishing clinic, I got my butt whipped by a girl!! I tip my hat to the husband and wife team of Whit and Carly Rush…DANG!!
The walleye Goddess (aka Carly) with a HUMONGOUS walleye!!
Finally, with my jiggin’ arm burning for that “whack”, I set the hook in what felt like a log hooked sideways. As it started to move I told Ken, “good fish, good fish!!” We Helena boys do things a little different than the Fort Peck boys and Ken was on the edge of his seat with my 6lb Stren- Magnathin and my back reeling rather than using the drag. His exact words were, “I can’t watch man, tell me when to net him.” As the giant finally approached the boat, I saw that prehistoric head shake and began to shake a little myself. Before I knew it, the fish was in the boat and we were fist pumping!! It turned out to be a very healthy 28.5” behemoth that devoured a “Yellow Perch” Glass Minnow. With a few good fish in the boat we still had a long ways to go to stay competitive in the tournament.
In the next day and a half we used the techniques of jigging and rigging. We were tipping the Glass Minnows with small fathead and shiner minnows and we used the same minnows on the rigging rods. My partner is one of the best riggers anywhere with extreme knowledge of using his graphs and precise speed and boat control. I have to admit, I could never enjoy rigging until I went with Ken. He has taught me a boatload about the technique the how to let your rod load up before setting the hook. I still wake up in my sleep setting the hook on my dead rod to Ken’s voice saying, “NOW, HIT HIM NOW!!” Ahhh…damn fishing is some fun stuff!!
As day two came to an end we weighed our fish that we worked very hard for and thanked the lord for his blessings upon us. Not only was I able to fish one of the most magical places on earth for the weekend, I was able to do it my good friend and get paid for it!! Surrounded by great people and fun times the Rock Creek Tournament is a yearly fish -head jamboree I wouldn’t miss for anything. In fact, on Saturday night I think I set a new record for farthest drive hitting a golf ball off the top of an Old Milwaukee can…the golfers in the bunch said, “dood, you wanna be on our league?” “Naa”, I said, that’s just time away from fishing for me boys!!
Talk about a testimonial...Kit's Tackle ambassador Gary Cayko and his partner Brandon Babb with a huge 3rd place finish caught on Kit's Tackle Glass Minnows!! Congratulations STUDS!!
AND A HUGE THANK YOU AND SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS AND PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH MAKING THE ROCK CREEK TOURNAMENT HAPPEN!! Cheers to “Jiggin’ the Dream”at Rock Creek!!
Like AC/DC said, “For those about to rock, we salute you”
May 21, 2013
My ugly mug with one of the funnest fresh water fish to do battle with-
So full I can barely type, I am sprawled out on my couch with my pups after devouring a delicious 20” walleye from the waters of Fort Peck. While my stomach boils, I sit here reminiscing on our dreamlike trip to Fort Pecks Big Dry Arm!! What a rippin’ time in a land that is so primitive and holds so much solitude. I think this adds a huge dimension to Fort Peck…IT IS REMOTE…at all locations!! Last night was my first night home and I woke up at least a half dozen times setting the hook in big walleyes!! My wife wasn’t overly happy when I told her I have been fishing for three days and all I can think about is getting back out there…she told me I have a problem! As I smiled at her, I responded, “YES, YES I DO!!” She decided to let it slide since the Rosemary and Thyme barbequed fillets were so darn good…even the pups got to sample the flaky fare.
Rosemary and Thyme BBQ'd Walleye and potatoes...my fav!! And of course a margarita-
Make a tinfoil boat (use heavy duty) to place your fillets in. After you lay your fillets in the tinfoil I like to sprinkle the following over them:
Before you close the boat over the fish add a couple pats of butter to the fillets. I cook them on medium for about 10 minutes. I can assure you this is worth a try!!
Last Wednesday we headed to eastern Montana to the promise land…or water I should say!! Montana’s Fort Peck reservoir has over 1,520 miles of shoreline. To put this in perspective, it has more miles of shoreline than the coast of California. That adds up to a pike-load of shoreline waiting for my jigs!! As we approached the lake, I glanced over at dad and could tell we were both fighting for the first glimpse of Fort Peck…just like when I was a little squirt!! It’s funny how most things that get a little kid revved up diminish over time…NOT APPROACHING THE WATERS OF FORT PECK!! The same goosebumps that filled my childhood body were immediately back at the first glimpse of the enchanted waters.
We stayed at the Rock Creek Marina in a great little cabin at the South Fork of Rock Creek. If you need to contact the marina, is it (www.rockcreekmarina.com) or give wild Bill a call at 406.485.2560. It works out nicely with gas, bait, food and other necessities right at basecamp (not to mention a roof over your noggin’ when it’s pouring rain.) Within’ the first few cast of our trip we landed some awesome northern pike. In the days to follow, we got on some absolutely amazing walleye and smallmouth bass bites. We focused our technique on pitchin’ the Glass Minnows shallow…and it paid dividends!! We were tipping the jigs with Berkley Gulp 3” black shad minnows. One afternoon alone, we landed over fifty smallmouth bass and a pile of northern pike…not to mention a half dozen nice walleye!!
One of the many AWESOME walleye we jigged up on Fort Peck...notice the Glass Minnow hangin' from his beak!!
Getting right down to the nitty gritty, I didn’t change my carhartt jeans for 4 days…and I spilled GULP juice all over them the second day (not to mention crawler dirt and buckets of fish slime.) These babies would not only stand on their own…but they should be placed in some kind of red neck museum somewhere. And YES, I did change my underwear daily in the rare case you were wondering. Sometimes I laugh at myself as to why I even bring a cloths bag at all! I suppose it is better to be prepared than not, so they say…ha ha ha!!
All in all, this was one heck of a fun trip filled with big bites and great memories!! We sure feel grateful and blessed to have been able to spend a few days on Fort Peck…the land of the lost-
May 14, 2013
Well it's almost 11:00 p.m. and I am leaving for Fort Peck before dawn cracks...and yes, I am excited as HECK if you are wondering. You are probably also confused as to why I am still up; well let's just say I still have to finish my laundry for the trip. I will admit, I can fish with the best...but getting there is a whole different story. So while I'm waiting for the laundry to dry I will give a quick blab on my excitement for Fort Pecks Big Dry Arm in the spring!!
I can already tell your imagining the lotion ad on television where Shaquille O’ Neil is rubbing his arms down with Gold bond…you got me all wrong. I’m talking about Montana’s famous Fort Peck reservoir and its eastern side called the Big Dry Arm. I can’t even in my wildest writing begin to describe the magic this body of water holds…especially in May!! The one thing I will say is if a 30” walleye (or two or three) is on your bucket list I would make darn sure you do your best to make the drive to Fort Peck.
Walleye travel from the deep main lake basins up the Big Dry Arm to spawn each spring. After the walleye do “their thing” in April they sulk around for few weeks recovering from the rigors of spawning. Once starting to feel like themselves again they slowly start the migration back toward the main lake…with BIG ATTITUDES and APPETITES!! There is not a better place in this world to catch numbers of quality fish than the Big Dry Arm in May!! Last year, in a single morning I landed two walleye over 30” and another 28” on my rod alone…not to mention my partners fish!! And this is the time for jig fishermen to get ‘Jiggy with it’ …literally!! And if you’re new to jigging, I can’t imagine a better place to start your cadence!!
My friend Kris Keller with a 2013 May stud that inhaled the Fire Tiger Glass Minnow on the Big Dry Arm!!
Sounds too easy right?? Fort Pecks Big Dry Arm in May can be as unforgiving as it can be generous…prepare for the worst here. May is notorious for huge fluctuations in weather meaning BIG WATER!! I have seen Fort Peck go from glass calm to “oh s*%$!!” in about 2.5 seconds!! Although this sounds imitating you just need to play it smart and not take out a small boat or make big runs if the weather is questionable. I do have some good news on this subject though…you won’t need much boat gas this time of year. Usually in the month of May walleye are predominantly found between Rock Creek and Nelson Creek which is only about a ten or twelve mile stretch of lake. The big bonus here is that the fish are much more concentrated making them easier to locate and target.
With the high water the last few years Fort Peck has generated a utopia spawning ground for its numerous bait-fish species ESPECIALLY the yellow perch!! A larger reservoir pool also results in more available habitat and provides benefits such as nutrient release from flooded shoreline vegetation. In my opinion, the walleyes feeding dynamics on Fort Peck are changing significantly…what once was a principal deep water pelagic cisco bite is transitioning to a shallow water yellow perch and spot-tail shiner bite. For us jig fisherman, this is a good thing…a very good thing. The only downside with the high water is the shorelines are loaded with submerged trees and debris making a frustrating and expensive day of fishing. Once again you’re in luck; Fort Pecks water levels have declined drastically in the last six months meaning the lake will be free of submerged debris.
Two big key points here:
1.) Fish will see your jig from extended distances so you will get more strikes!!
2.) You will spend more time fishing rather than swearing at the submerged cottonwood tree that just stole your Glass Minnow!!
Nothing reminds me more of the Big Dry Arm than the song of our beautiful state bird. The meadowlark resonates the May air from the breathtaking sunrises of eastern Montana to the last jig ups of the evening. In fact, where I live in the Helena valley we have an abundance of meadowlarks in our neighborhood. I open my window every morning to listen to their sweet serenade while I have my coffee. If even for a moment before I start up the jig engine for the day, I close my eyes and do a little “Jiggin’ the Dream” on Fort Pecks Big Dry Arm.
Please remember folks…this is one of the world’s best walleye fisheries!! To preserve and maintain this awesome body of water for generations to come we all must adopt a catch and release tactic. Years ago, the In-Fisherman coined the term “selective harvest” which has proven to be the most important expression in advocating for future of fishing. I myself believe that harvesting a couple fish is a very important part of the “Hunt, Camp, Fish” experience. I can still recall a Memorial Day weekend about ten years ago at Forchette Bay on Fort Peck catching upwards of seventy smallmouths including a near state record. But the most vivid memory of that entire trip was the hot fried fish over the cast iron skillet back at camp that night with my dad. Larger fish need to go back to help sustain the fishery and create memories for anglers to come. The primary spawning walleye is 20-28” so it is of PARAMOUNT importance these fish be returned back to fight again. Here is some food for thought…a 25” walleye is pushing seven years old on average. If you keep five 25” walleye you are taking THIRTY FIVE YEARS of walleye in Mother Nature’s eyes. Please do the right thing!!
A Yellow Perch Glass Minnow equipped with a 3” Berkley GULP minnow!! The Big Dry Arm special!!
Walleye seek refuge in shallow water after the spawn seeking forage. My highest recommended method for success is to create a buffer zone between your boat and the shore…about twenty yards or so. Pitch your Glass Minnows right up to the shore and jig them back to the boat along the bottom. Post spawn walleye can be very aggressive so don’t be afraid to jig it like you mean it!! I like to add a series of “pops” when I’m jigging it along the bottom. What you’re trying to mimic is a crippled juvenile Yellow Perch swimming. This makes an EASY and DELICIOUS meal for big walleyes!! Most of the BIG walleye we catch this time of year are hanging in less than 10 feet of water...don't tell anybody:)
CHEERS TO “JIGGIN’ THE DREAM” IN 2013, BABY!!
Passing a parrot in the fast lane
May 7, 2013
The "War Department" keeping me in line at the Helena Walleyes Unlimited Banquet
Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m. the rooster started crowing (alarm clock) and the weekend was upon us. After we finished loading all the demonstration tools we were off to Missoula MT to give a seminar at Bretz RV and Marine for their customer appreciation day. After working a bomber week this isn't exactly a day off, but we are really starting to enjoy sharing our success on the water with others. In fact, I am really starting to overcome my fear of public speaking...heck, it's fun!! I can still remember my first public speaking class in college and being so anxious I almost filled my shorts!! I was honestly so nervous it looked like I had just come out from hibernating in a sweat lodge by the amount of perspiration rolling down my forehead. Anyways, as we approached Missoula everything was going well until dad yelled in a panicked voice, "Oh SH*#!!, I forgot the rods for the presentation!!" Knowing it was a simple mistake; we swallowed our pride and headed straight for Wal-Mart. We were going to come off as real pro's demonstrating with a bright green $19.99 rod/reel combo.
With fifteen minutes to go before show time, every seat in the house was filled and eyes were eager!! With five minutes to go before show time, there was a crowd out the door trying to get a standing spot in the room...talk about making a guy feel special. I'm going to go ahead and say this was our best seminar to date. Not only the awesome crowd and atmosphere, but dad and I really felt at home...even when we had to break the news about the demo rod Having an absolute blast, after an hour and a half we had to stop early for the next speaker to have his time. We were overwhelmed with the positive response and one very unique gentleman came up and said, "Young man, you sure have a nice set of hair. I see your dad does not, I'm betting that was your doing." After having a great laugh together he said, "I have been coming here for years and that was the best seminar I have seen." Dad and I truly felt humbled by his kind words and from the others that praised us.
Presenting at Bretz RV and Marine in Missoula, MT
What a great crowd!!
Switching gears, we had to get our butts back home for the Walleyes Unlimited banquet in Helena that started in a short few hours and we had a booth to set up! But with empty stomachs, before we left, we made a wild dash to Five Guys Burgers and Fries and pigged out...DELICIOUS!! Getting back to Helena with an hour to spare it was straight to the gas station for a nasty HI-REV coffee to bring us back to life. We got our booth up and running and the Glass Minnows looked as gorgeous as ever There was only two things left to do:
1.) Run home and get the BEAUTIFUL "Parrot" themed rod dad master-crafted for the live auction.
2.) HAVE A BEER!!
Exhausted, but reminiscing on how productive and fun a weekend it had already been we met with all our friends at the banquet. It was a fun night and the Kit's Tackle rod was the highlight of the evening. The live auction went wild and the "Parrot" rod went for $900 raising a big chunk of change for a great cause!! To get kids into the magical world of fishing!! Talk about a good way to end the night...dang!!
With this rod donation, it brings the total Kit's Tackle has raised for Walleyes Unlimited of Montana to
$1950 in 2013!!
The "Parrot" Rod
One of the most beautiful rods to ever leave our shop!!
Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" in 2013!!
The Spawn is on at canyon ferry
May 2, 2013
Who wouldn't like the opportunity to have a chance to land 50+ rainbow trout in one day?? The north end Canyon Ferry rainbow trout spawn is the most prolific spawn in the entire world; ok I made that up but it can sure feel like it with non-stop jigging action. The awesome thing about this folly endeavor is that shore access is very available and anglers can get big rewards without a boat. This is single handedly some of the most exciting spring fishing Montana has to offer...especially if you're a jig fisherman!!
I have a special connection with Canyon Ferry this time of year and chasing big bruiser bows on their beds...it is where I learned to jig fish. This is also where I acquired the famous "Johnson Jig" style that has filled the box time after time. There isn't a nook or cranny on the shoreline I haven't tossed a marabou jig into hoping for a line twitch. I can still remember my grandpa's enormous smile when I would hook a big rainbow and the drag would start squealing...talk about a slimy Disneyland for kids!! So get down with your bad self this May and head to Canyon Ferry for some incredible jigging action for HUGE rainbows.
Rainbow trout build vast spawning beds and protect them with all their life. They actually place small signs written in finhili around the perimeter with the warning "all intruders will be devoured on site!" While fishing rainbows during the spawn most strikes come from irritation and not predation. So in other words, using bright colored visibly noisy jigs is your best bet to getting bit. For example, if I was to sneak through the woods quiet or wrap myself in chicken bones and blow my hoochie mama cow call which would lead to a better chance of a Grizzly having me for lunch...I think you get the point.
My two highest marabou color recommendations for spawning rainbows:
Egg Sucking Leech
Leeches are notorious for robbing nest...mama trout gets very angry when she sees a leech swimming off with one of her babies. The best way to describe what happens next...do you remember the game Hungry Hungry Hippos??
This color pattern is proven to set off the warning alarms on mama and daddy trout's lateral line!!
Here is a Google earth map zoomed in on the north end of Canyon Ferry with the green lines indicating the best seven places to target spawning rainbows!!
April 29, 2013
While I sit here after a long weekend of manning the jig engine, watching Jeremy Wade (River Monsters) catch huge fish around the world is quite unnerving. Especially after dad I and had planned to take a short trip east to Fort Peck for the weekend to chase pre-spawn walleye on the full moon. As we were getting ready to make the final preparations for our trip the forecast changed and not for the best...like I've said before, the DAMN wind!! We have learned one to many times it's not worth driving upwards of five hundred miles one way to sit on shore and watch white caps roar. But golly gee whitefish pie, we sure could use a break from paint fumes and thread bobbins I'm sure if any of my vendors are ready this they are pleased to know their orders will be filled one week sooner now!!
Content with the decision to stay and work due to weather conditions, I took a short break and visited one of my local fishing spots that stole my heart at a young age. The stretch of river below Hauser Lake is known to many as "The land of the Giants" due to its big rainbows and brown trout. In the springtime, the rainbows make a huge migration from Holter Lake up to their spawning grounds in the river. If you're a jig fisherman...or want to be...THIS IS THE TIME AND PLACE to become a good stick!!
When I was a child, dad and I spent countless hours on this stretch of river. Rivers, unlike lakes, have a haunting alliance of swirls and eddies that will bring even the most greenhorn fisherman to complete dreamy wonder. It is almost as if time stops, and all back noise becomes distant, while the river, even the very current break your fishing becomes the most important thing in the world. Then, KAPOW!! Your rod gets hit so hard you think there must be Blue Marlin in the Missouri river and then starts the sequence of acrobatic stunts from a super chunky 23" rainbow on the end of your line. This my friends, is in-fact, what I call "Jiggin the Dream"
Mr. Me a couple years back taking a weekend from college to jig fish the Mighty MO-
A few tips and tricks:
1.) Light jigs work best in this stretch of river...I carry 1/8 oz only!!
2.) Remember, most rainbows have spawning on their minds. You will induce more wild strikes with bighter colored jigs!! Save the crayfish and sculpin patterns for another month or so!!
3.) Cast your jig upriver and work it back to you so there is no line drag against the current imparting unnatural motion. Face the river head on and cast your jig upriver at 9:00 or 3:00 (depending the river side) and work it back to directly in front of you then recast.
4.) Bring a camera...you will need it!!
April 16, 2013
Yours truely presenting the $100 gift card for kitstackle.com to the Montana walleye anglers of the year Doug Rohlf and Kerry Parsons
When I asked my friend Brian Rooney (Townsend Marine) if he was attending the State Walleye Banquet in Glasgow, MT his reply was "If I'm gunna drive that far out east there's gunna be a boat behind my truck." At this instant, even though excited for the banquet and to see all my Glasgow friends, my heart sank knowing I would be minutes from my beloved Fort Peck and not get to do some jiggin'. If this wasn't hard enough to swallow, as we passed both the Gates of the Mountains and Nelson reservoir on the way, they were both glass calm and calling our names. Wiping the drool from our jowls and dreaming of fishing, dad and I kept on truckin' until we arrived in Glasgow. One thing worth mention this time of year is the always astonishing beauty of the Rooster pheasant in his mating tuxedo. Always makes the drive more interesting...and remember, keep your windows cracked...you're in the land of Montana's state bird. Nothing, and I mean nothing, sings the lullaby of eastern Montana like the western meadowlark.
The culprit himslef taking an intermission from belting out his sweet chorus!!
Getting back to business, we checked into our room and headed for the Friday night social to meet with all our friends. I was very impressed with the amount of people that drove from all corners of the state to support the Glasgow Walleye Banquet. After seeing a million great people and getting a belly full of chow, dad and I settled in at a table with some great friends. As our pal Roger Twilliger would say "let me clue you" we had a darn good time. Stories went from turkey hunting to fishing to...let's just say it got interesting We all had a little too much fun...if that's possible!!
The next morning came early, and with a bit of stress since we had a HUGE day upon us. After dipping my head in the gas station coffee pot, I was ready to kick some adipose fin and get the party started!! Getting to the convention center, we only had a hair more than an hour to set up our entire booth. Running around like frightened baitfish, and with a little improvising, the Kit's Tackle booth was up and running. And let's just say in perfect time...HOLY COMOLEE the jigs were perceived well!! Our booth was so busy that dad and I didn't even have time to eat lunch, let alone take a sip of Gatorade. We heard tons of awesome testimonials, gave out a boatload of tips, and sold A LOT of Glass Minnow Series jigs. With as many jigs that went out the door, let's just say Fort Peck's game fish are in BIG TROUBLE this year!!
It was almost overwhelming being amidst so many hardcore and dedicated walleye fishermen. I can tell you one thing, the eastern Montana girls and boys take their fishing seriously!! And we couldn't be happier to be a part of their tackle box and start them "Jiggin' the Dream" in 2013!! As the clock approached 1:00 pm, it was time for dad and me to hit the stage for our featured seminar. This was the first time we used microphones over a PA system in a seminar and other than a few technical difficulties it went pretty smooth. It sure was nice that the Glasgow chapter let us do a seminar during the show so a BIG THANK YOU shout out to them!! After finishing up the seminar, our booth was like a beehive swarming with fishermen...it was AWESOME!! As the show wrapped up, we had to break down the entire booth we had just set up just a few short hours before. Phew...no rest for the wicked here folks. I felt more exhausted than a salmon making its river run from the ocean to its spawning ground.
Next was dinner, and a DAMN good dinner at that. Once again, the Glasgow folks can sure put on a heck of a banquet. It was very well organized, the food was AMAZING, and it was guaranteed to please. If you didn't have fun at the 2013 State Walleye Banquet I cannot recommend help for you After everyone was served, the live auction began and the Kit's Tackle "Yellow Perch" themed rod was first up as the big ticket item!! Dad built an extraordinary SCV (St. Croix's finest rod blank) that we donated to raise money for Glasgow chapter of Walleyes Unlimited. Not raising as much as our rods do at the western Montana Banquets, the rod still went for $475. Not only will winner be "Jiggin' the Dream" but so will the local Glasgow kids with the money we help raise to promote the future of the sport and to get the little jiggers on the water!! Always feels good to help out such a good cause...I'm a sucker for kids and fishing.
An in-depth look at the inticate thread art on the Yellow Perch themed SCV donation rod
Another shot at the "Yellow Perch" rod
As the banquet finally winded down, all I could do was think about sleep but I was in for a big surprise. My good friend, Ken Schmidt said "you're not getting out of the banquet hall until you dance with my daughter." Five hours later, EXHAUSTED and the sorest I have ever been, I crawled to my motel room. He didn't clue me that it was a twelve year olds birthday party and they wanted to dance!! I have done some extreme stuff in my time, but I'm not sure if anything compares to dancing for hours on end with a dozen little girls. With that being said, this was the most fun I have had in years and probably better than jiggin' on Fort Peck. I don't think I stopped smiling for a second during my hall of fame dance party. So I want to give a big thanks to all the beautiful girls that showed me the moves on the dance floor till the wee hours of the night.
Waking up Sunday morning, having only enough energy to focus on getting home...it was going to be a long drive. Mother Nature decided to blanket the ground with snow and turn the roads to solid ice making driving conditions BRUTAL!! Arriving home safely, I conclude my Glasgow adventure as a wicked wild, balls to the wall, Sh*% Show of a weekend!! And one hell of a good time with AMAZING people!!
April 9th, 2013
WOOFDA!! Man O' man the jig engine here at Kit's has been smoking hot!! We have been getting great reports from across Montana (and the whole NW) on the jigs...which really keeps us going when we don't have time to get out on the water. We are getting excellent reports from Canyon Ferry and the rainbow trout spawn with the Pro Series Marabou, incredible testimonials from the Flathead River for big pre-spawn small mouths on the Glass Minnows, and a lot of excitement from anglers chomping at the bit for the ice to come off their local waters. In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, dad and I were not able to make our annual trip to the Columbia River this spring because orders have been ringing in...who knew the jigs would be so effective across the board as a multi-species tool. The REVOLUTIONARY Glass Minnow Series have ultimately changed the world of jig fishing and the overwhelming amount of positive testimonials is FREAKIN' AWESOME!!
So I'm about to do what no walleye angler would ever do. I am admitting that as of today, April 9, 2013 I HAVE NOT yet landed a walleye as of this new year. There have been a few spiny yellows in our boat, but not on my rod and reel. Before you go scratching your head, there are a couple good reasons for this gobbledygook:
1.) My crew and I have been so busy manufacturing Glass Minnows that our time on the water has been very limited this spring. This is a good thing...right?
2.) Secondly, with the time we have been "Jiggin' the Dream" we have been tinkering with monster browns!! This new found form of jigging big baits for giant yellows is like fishing the Salt H2O!! And I'm ADDICTED!!
But don't think for a second I haven't dedicated at least thirty five hours to walleye this spring with no avail. We are big fish hunters and sometimes spend what feels like a million hours between big fish...sometimes five minutes. This is why fishing is so awe-inspiring to my father and I...especially jig fishing!! Nothing is more rewarding than inducing a strike from the action you imparted on your jig...GET SOME!! So the next time you see one of us holding a huge walleye or brown trout (which you most definitely will)...believe me not, we busted our jiggin' arms doing it. Just don't want anybody calling us lucky buggers...ha ha!! I even took an unexpected swim in 16 degree weather below Hauser earlier this year...still not sure if my buddies below the waist are fully recovered!!
As with any job, after working a million days on end with no rest, a guy is going to hit his breaking point...or jigging point I should say!! Dad and I were able to sneak out for a half day last Saturday chasing a big brown on Hauser. Although we didn't find Mr. Big we caught a few great fish and had a wonderful time with our four legged boat buddies. It's funny how sometimes just a half day on your local water can refresh and re-energize a fellow.
My two best friends!! My pup Pika snuggling up mad love for my insane passion in the boat~
March 26, 2013
With the ice coming off in full force, the fishing bug is buzzing hard!! We have been so busy manning the jig engine we have had very little time to think...let alone get on the water. With this being said, we did manage to sneak out to the Gates of the Mountains a few days back and land some great fish (included in the bag was the biggest brown trout of my life). This past weekend I traveled to Missoula, Montana for the Great Rockies Sports Show to cast the revolutionary Glass Minnow series deeper into the depths of the jigging world!! The Glass Minnows stole the show and the excitement they generated in the couple days we were there was AWESOME!! And since I did seminars both days I was able to penetrate a deeper understanding of our jigs and enthusiasm for the world of jig fishing. It was a fun packed wild weekend and I thank everybody sincerely who made the seminars and stopped by our booth to say hi!! Talk about "Jiggin' the Dream", baby!!
Our Booth in Missoula with the "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnows getting a workout!!
Getting back to the Gates of the Mountains, WOW...what a fun place this time of year!! After being served a nice slice of humble pie chasing walleyes all morning, we switched gears and started the brown trout hunt. Second cast into shore and I was hooked up with a beautiful 22" brown and things were looking good. After having the enjoyment of battling dozens of rainbows, it was time to bring out the big guns. Although every big brown we have caught has been on small 1/8 oz jigs I was feeling bold. Earlier in the week dad created a jerk bait fashioned jig that was approaching ten inches long. We both admired the jig dreaming of a giant brown mistaking it for an injured yellow perch. The best part about the story is one of my fishing comrades here in Helena saw the jig and his reply was, "are you planning on going musky fishing with that thing??"
As my first cast hit the water, dad and I both chuckled as the jig would barely sink and was bigger than most perch in the lake. After two casts, we looked over at each other and simultaneously said, "Holy Crap" that looks amazing in the water!! As my next cast found itself sloping off a rock cliff I started "the jerk" back to the boat. About the time we were going to say how good it looked again, a HUGE brown appeared tailing the jig. The giant beast had been bamboozled into thinking he was honing in on a delicious yellow perch. As my jig came within two feet of the boat, the giant sow faded back into the depths. Before we could sour the canyon with curse words, a huge flash arced under the boat and the silver hulk smashed my jig with RECKLESS ABANDON inches from the boat. I must now admit that I will never go to the lake again without a clean change of underwear in the glove box!!
All smiles with my beautiful brown
After having the rush of catching a fish like this and feeling their power I would fish a lifetime for that one BIG BITE!! This is fresh water BIG GAME fishing at its finest!! I have been chomping at the bit to get back after these wild majestic creatures this past week!! I have a file cabinet filled with empty files and folders of countless hours spent on the water...but at the back of a drawer is a special shiny file that holds the most magical moments a fisherman can encounter...this picture will be added
Until the next adventure and those magical goosebumps appear on the way to the water...cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream"
A young blue eyed bandit and his grampa "poppy" enjoying a shore lunch at the Gates of the Mountains Circa late 1980's~
March 11, 2013
Well folks, this weeks adventure was jam packed full of fishing with a great group of friends across our state of Montana. Although the fishing was awesome, I never actually landed a tangible fish. You see, I did do a very realistic job of landing a few bruisers at Snappy's Sports Senter for our annual banquet day presentation. What an amazing store, very knowledgeable staff, and an awesome place to give a jiggin' clinic. And the support from the local Flathead Walleyes Unlimited chapter and fishing public was huge and humbling to dad and I. So from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for coming down to Snappy's to see our presentation on such a beautiful weekend day. If you have not had the delight of visiting Snappy's, MAKE SURE YOU DO!! Their fishing manager, Chancey, runs one of the most impressive fishing departments in the state!!
Dad and I presenting at Snappy's Sports Senter
Since the Madison/Gallatin Walleyes Unlimited banquet was the same day as the Flathead chapter, we couldn't be both places at once. But a very intimate part of us did in fact travel up to Bozeman to make the banquet. Dad hand crafted a beautiful Glass Minnow "Fire Tiger" themed rod to be auctioned off at the banquet to raise $$$ for Walleyes Unlimited!! We are very proud to announce that this year the rod went for $575!! Not quite last years $1100, but hey, that's a lot of funds for a good cause and somebody will be "Jiggin' the Dream" in style
A sneak peak at the "Fire Tiger" themed custom rod master-crafted by dad-
Stay tuned for the next flavors of custom rods...we will be donating to the Walleyes Unlimited state banquet in Glasgow and the local Helena banquet. Yellow Perch?? Parrot?? Jailbait??
Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" in 2013
March 7, 2013
The "Pretty Boy Floyd" whitefish imitation. Can you say 10 lb brown?
I thought I would take the time to flash a couple pictures of a custom jig order. When you stand at the spray booth all day painting jigs it's inevitable to not try a few wild things. Some of my greatest jigs have actually come from accidentally over-spraying a color onto another. I am a HUGE believer in visual stimulation being the key ingredient in getting hooked up with big fish...so having confidence in the tackle you use is in my opinion the most important piece of the puzzle. There is an intimate level between Kit's Tackle and the jigs we create...not one single jig leaves our shop without dreaming about its future and what it might catch!!
A doctored up version of my personal favorite..."Baby Bass" Stand-Up jigs
These little babies have yielded some VERY large walleye on the Columbia River
Kit's Crayfish...you should see this little stud in the water...whooooeeeee!!
Mac Daddy Magnum Crawdad!! Need we say more??
We will be trying a few of these patterns on monster browns and walleyes over the weekend... "Jiggin' the Dream"
February 27, 2013
So we actually get asked quite often what we use and the brands we trust when we are on the water. We are by no means celebrity fishermen, but we are the real deal and do spend a lot of time out there regardless of the conditions. So i figured I would do a little questioner of the gear we rely on to function properly when we are on the water. And a couple fun questions we get asked occasionally. We are just a couple of insanely crazy passionate fish-heads that take fishing very seriously...I think
So here goes nothin'
Best thing about fishing:
-The thrill of the unknown and watching the excitement on kids faces
Favorite method of fishing:
-JIGGING, JIGGING, JIGGING!!
Dream foreign catch:
-Fresh water Dorado (Argentina)
My dream is to chase these bad boys with Glass Minnows!!
Toughest element in the fishing world:
-WIND, the "BLEEPING" Wind!! I know you can relate;)
Favorite universal jigs:
-Glass Minnow Series (Kit's Tackle)
-Pro Series Marabou (Kit's Tackle)
-Pete's Tackle Plastics (www.petestackle.com)
Favorite live bait:
Favorite crank baits:
-Rapala Husky Jerk
-Rapala Shad Rap
-5' for jigging for trout (ultra-light power, ex-fast action)
-6' for vertical walleye (medium power, fast action)
-6'3" for pitching for walleye/bass/trout (medium power, ex- fast action)
-7' for throwing big jigs/cranks for pike/browns/walleye (heavy power, fast action)
-A really big one
An 11, 12, and 13 lb walleye about to swim free!!
-Shimano Carbon Stratic CI4 (ultra-light for long days pitching jigs)
-18' Lund Pro V IFS
-Lowrance (HDS 8) No side scan...whatever that is
-Minn Kota Terrova with I Pilot
-Yamaha 175 VMAX
-Yamaha 8 (kicker)
-Go Pro Hero 3(video)
A stud 8lb brown from last weekend at Holter Lake
-Ocean Waves Sunglasses
-Simms Pro Dry, Sitka Outerwear, Arcteryx Outerwear, Carhartt Arctic Bibs, Kennetrek Boots
Favorite fishing snack:
-Jalapeno Cheddar Cheetos (Thanks Ken Schmidt)
-Motrin Ibuprofen/ Tylenol Extra Strength
Favorite hydrating drink:
Favorite boost drink:
-Diet Mountain Dew
Favorite cocktail after a long day on the water:
-Jameson Irish Whisky
Favorite cocktail immediately following the loss of a 16 lb walleye at the net:
-Jose Cuervo (the whole bottle)
Favorite fishing saying:
"Jiggin' the Dream", DUH!!
February 19, 2013
Me getting a quick shot with dad's brown beaut!!
If there is one thing that gets my fish lovin' heart pumping its hunting ice-off brown trout. Watching a bazooka sized banana yellow flash rise from the depths to turn on a jig is as good as it gets. In fact, as I sit here writing this, I can't think of one single thing I would rather be doing right now than rippin' jigs for a chance at a huge brown trout (and some breathtakingly gorgeous 20 inchers to hold me over in the hunt for big bertha.) Although I have never had the opportunity to fish for musky, I think ice off brown trout is very similar in angling fashion...you're going to take thousands of casts to maybe rise a big fish. Worth it...oh hell yes!!
Last Saturday at the Gates of the Mountains (before the storm rolled in) I had a beef cow sized brown trout take my jig right at the boat. This was the fish I dream about all day, every day. It was single handed (well maybe double handed) the largest brown trout I have ever seen in my entire life. Painfully enough to say, that was the last glimpse I got of the giant beast. After a very short battle, my jig popped out of the fish's mouth and I was left gasping for air. And just for the record, I still haven't slept since.
My name is Trevor Johnson and I'm obsessed and addicted to jigging brown trout. Does anyone know if there is a brown trout anonymous group that I can join?? I need some major therapy!!
Although the monster got away, we did manage to land seven beautiful browns and a boatload of rainbows. We (dad) did end up catching a very gorgeous brown that went almost 28" that topped the day off quite nicely. The rainbows are averaging 20+ inches and 3-4 pounds as well. It is a tremendous time of the year to be out and the fishing is incredible.
Remember, jig shallow Kit's Nation!! The "yellow perch" Glass Minnow and Brown/Orange Pro Marabou were our hot colors. Don't miss this exciting action, get out there and start "Jiggin' the Dream"
February 5th, 2012
Me holding a spectacular 2013 Super Bowl Sunday Brown Trout that fell for the "Black" Pro Series Marabou
We all have that special thing that haunts us before we fall asleep...no I'm not talking about my wife I'm talking about that magical place in our mind that we wander off to until we can dream about it further when asleep. I'm talking about the place of banana yellows and pale silvers with black splotches...any guesses??
I'm talking about the world of the elusive, sometimes intangible brown trout. I have a very sentimental connection with brown trout and their poignant attachment to my childhood. Since I was small enough to be fish food to a giant brown, my father has instilled his passion for the shark-like disposition of the Salmo Trutta and made them unforgettable to me. If there was a Disney movie of my dad and the brown trout it would be called, "The Trout King." As far back as I can remember, I can recall dad and my grandpa telling me stories of giant browns...most kids were hearing about the sports team that almost won and I was being poisoned by the romance of big yellow that got away. In fact, I can remember in grade school kids telling stories of the most epic sports team losses. I was assuring them they had nothing on the 20 pound brown my grandpa lost below Hauser Dam in the 1970's!! Not to mention the days we would land more than a dozen gorgeous brownies on the Little Blackfoot River together (and after all the hard work, with soaked sneakers and jeans, my grandpa "Poppy" would treat me to the Avon Café and I would always indulge in the Chocolate Cream pie.)
With a jig box full of memories, life progresses but the dreamy brown trout still encompass the very water I use to fish with my grandpa and dad. Since I was about twelve years old I can't remember a day that has passed I haven't dreamt of what it would be like to land a giant brown. My favorite artist, Tom Petty said it best on his Wildflowers album, "Was it something you could dream of, but never could quite touch." A couple years back I was blessed enough to be with dad when he caught the biggest brown of his life and witness first-hand how much it meant to him. I have to admit I am absolutely obsessed and so infatuated with the daunting nature of the brown trout rather twelve inches or thirty. If you're even one jig up as excited as me or dad to lay your eyes upon a wintertime brown trout here is my two cast to helping you land one of these magnificent specimens.
Kit's Tackle himself with a February brown thirty years prior on the same shoreline we fished Sunday.
1.) ICE OFF is the time for brown trout!! Mentally picture the size of your local lake and how deep it is and all the different depths and contours fish could be dwelling in. Now draw a mental line at the first ten or fifteen yards off shore and eliminate the rest. In my opinion, you are upping your odds by at least 75%. This takes the needle out of the haystack and gives you a much better shot at getting bit by a brown trout.
Brown trout immediately seek refuge in the shallows in early spring for two reasons. It is the warmest water for them to recover from spawning and also holds the most abundant amount of forage (depending on the dynamics of your lake.) So the key factor here is to focus your presentation in shallow water (under 10 feet in most cases.)
2.) Use LARGE profile jigs. In our local lakes my favorites are the Pro Series "Black" marabou and the "Iridescent Crayfish" marabou. Sculpin and crayfish imitations make easy prey for lethargic cold water brown trout. In low light conditions we switch it over to the realistic presentation of the Glass Minnows. Our favorites being the "Yellow Perch" and "Fire Tiger" flavors. My dad used to say, "a big brown is too smart to eat a bright fire tiger jig"...it was later that day my step-momma caught a slob of a sow brown trout pushing eight pounds on the very "Fire Tiger" Glass Minnow that couldn't
My two favorite marabou flavors for early year browns
3.) Cold water brown trout are a lot like fishing for pre-spawn walleye. It is not a numbers game; we are looking for a couple big bites that bring in BIG REWARDS!! When jig fishing and targeting big February-April browns it is of paramount importance to slow the cadence of your jigging rhythm down. You don't have to change the way you jig...just do it in slow motion (and let your jig sink a little longer.) Unlike rainbows that often hold higher in the water column, brown trout are bottom dwellers. Always let your jig sink to the bottom before the next jig and if you get snagged...it might be a giant brown;) And since browns are very lethargic this time of year, it is important to become a critical line watcher. The slightest twitch could be a 25" brown sampling your jig.
4.) We all know brown trout can be pretty nocturnal and for you night owls here are my recommendations.
a.) Big jigs are hard to beat (the same I mentioned earlier)
b.) Crankbaits...especially in the stick bait fashion with subtle action for this time of year (my favorites include, Rapala countdown, Husky Jerks and Bomber Long A's.) Save the noisy action packed plugs for summer and fall. Make sure you impart a stop and go action on your bait to mimic a wounded baitfish. Trust me, a giant cold-water brown doesn't want to chase a healthy looking plug (I'm not saying they won't, but you will up your chances by using a distressed action.)
A Rapala Clackin' Minnow that has a slow action and shallow dive
5.) CATCH AND RELEASE HERE FOLKS!! I don't want to sound like a broken record but no excuses on this topic. Brown trout are also very docile creatures once in your hands. They are a little more forgiving to handling in the cold water but always treat with upmost respect. Quick photos and maybe even a little smooch, then send them back along their way to smash your jig again someday. Browns are also notorious for doing the death roll when hooked and twisting themselves in your line. Always have a pair of cutter pliers handy to free a tangled fish.
6.) Don't get to mesmerized gazing away at the beauty of the brown trout...you might fall in the drink!!
Cheers to "JIGGIN' THE DREAM" for banana yellows!!
January 28, 2013
A vintage picture of the blue eyed bandit (me) holding a 17lb lake trout I caught jiggin' for walleye on Fort Peck. Picture was taken in the lakeridge Motel by Gene Moore.
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after" -Thoreau
This very quote sends chills up my spine...of course we're all there to catch a 30" walleye, but countless hours spent dreaming and working hard makes these fish a reality. I mean let's face it, if you caught a 30" walleye every time you went fishing would it really be the same? I'm sure a lot of you are thinking "heck yes, I would be ok with that" but if you really dig down and ask yourself why you're out there it isn't the size or number of fish. I think it is different for every person, but for me it is being as close as possible to truth and serenity. With that being said, I am dreaming of all species of big fish every day of my life. In fact, while standing at the spray booth air-brushing jigs rocking out to Tom Petty, I catch at least a dozen trophies a day. Just because I'm not out there doesn't mean I'm not fishing.
Since being old enough to understand, I have been haunted by the mystic enchantments of fishable water and its inhabitants. Fishing is so daunting to me in that you are constantly getting your butt kicked to better learn your skills. While drifting down the Columbia River in hopes of a 20lb walleye I think Mr. Buchan said it best:
"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope" -John Buchan
I must point out that after 30+ years of fishing I don't fully agree with Mr. Buchan. I have learned the habits and patterns (and the magic "Johnson Jig" style) of fish so it adds more confidence than just hoping. If you're wondering where I'm going with all of this...TAKE A KID FISHING!!! You are hearing words from me, an absolutely obsessed freak of a fisherman brought to you by my dad (a father that took me fishing...a lot.) In fact, we always joke about how he created a monster...funny part is, it's no joke!!
Myself included, in this day and age there is too many temptations to stray kids away from the outdoors. Just in the last few months the amount of violence and other bad things in the news is horrific. Every person we (you and I, a team) touch and invite into the outdoors is a new advocate for the future of fishing. Our younger generations are the future of this whole darn thing and it's of paramount importance they follow in our footsteps. Sounds easy right? Not as easy as you'd think.
Kit's Tackle's young ambassador Brandon Greger flashing his cash after winning first place at the Canyon Ferry Perch Derby!!
Handing a child a fish pole and giving them a good luck pat on the back is not going to turn them into a lifelong fishermen. This is the exact problem we are trying to overcome and avoid. I'm not saying you have to hand them every ten pound walleye you hook but my dad sure did for me. And I'll bet you the rights to the "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnow when I take kids I will do the same for them. The most important thing is to let them have fun and don't get too hard on them (meaning a pre-spawn walleye trip to the Columbia River in cold weather looking for two bites a day is not for introduction.) An ice fishing trip to your local city park or a day perch fishing in the boat are great ways to introduce kids to fishing. And since all fishing can be tough, focus on the other aspects that make the trip enjoyable. Have a cooler full of pops and snacks and be ready to tell some stories to get their blood pumping. Now being thirty one years old, I wonder if all the big browns that broke dad off were really true...or if it was an excuse for me to keep fishing
In the last few years I have had more fun introducing kids to the outdoors than fishing for myself. Like I said, of course I want to be selfish and catch all the big ones...but I have been very blessed with big fish and GIVING the gift of fishing is the biggest fish I will ever catch. Just remember, somebody showed you and if you're half as crazy about fishing as I am, the passion needs to be passed along to as many children as possible.
A few things to remember taking kids fishing:
1.) Have fun, be positive and encouraging!!
2.) ABSOLUTELY NO ALCOHOL
3.) Practice selective harvest
4.) Praise, praise, praise!!
5.) Make sure you go jig fishing!!
Our mission statement that we stand by everyday:
The mission of Montana-based Kit's Tackle is to be the leading high-end provider of specialized fishing products for the serious angler. We use only the industry's best, pre-eminent materials to hand-craft unique, one-of-a-kind jigging products while consciously maintaining and advocating for the future of fishing.
My Friend Trey with his catch he named "LEGENDARY" at the Gates of the Mountains
January 24, 2012
Amongst being so busy I might have forgot how to jig fish...I randomly thought about a magical memory and had some great laughs and tears in tonight's shower. What brought this memory to mind was a friend letting me know one of our local lakes (Holter, the Gates of the Mountains) is ice free and fishable by boat. Normally I would be dancing around my house and trying to high five my pups at this rare mid-winter news...except the only jiggin' Kit's Tackle will be doing is meeting deadlines and filling orders. But a couple years back, we had the day every true angler dreams of. Dad and I had just returned from a trip to the Columbia River (which yielded us a walleye over 15 pounds and multiple other 30"+ on the trip) and were stoned on Jigging!! We decided with the remaining day of vacation we had left we would hit the Gates of the Mountains and switch gears jigging for springtime trout with ultra-lights. I must admit the Gates is one of the most magical places in my book of memories. I can remember being so small I would curl up under the console of the Ol' Klamith boat while dad, my great uncle Herb, and my grandpa "poppy" would spend countless hours "Jiggin' the Dream." I can still here my dad say, "see those guys, they are dragging it and not jiggin' enough" and my grandpa "Poppy" would immediately chime in with his favorite saying "they must have gosh damn sawdust turds for brains."
Already having a twenty plus fish day on big ripper rainbows, dad pitched his 1/8 ounce jig into the shallows and KAPOWOWRIPPINWOWBANG!!! Then, before my very eyes, a whale sized brown trout came porpoising out of the water with dads jig in her mouth. My exact words were, "holy crap dad, that's a twenty pound brown" and he answered, "oh come on, it's an eight or nine pound brown." I immediately fired back with, "I don't know what the heck your smokin' but that is a huge fish dad." All I can figure is the sun was in his eyes or he was trying to stay calm about the whole ordeal. Yet to mention, also in the boat with us was my momma Marti and the dogs. As you can probably imagine, it was like a Chinese fire drill with rods and gear flying everywhere...now I know where the saying "like monkeys humping on a door knob" came from. After a few close calls, I had manned the electric trolling motor and we were following the giant sow. With 4 lb monofilament line and a four and a half foot ultra-light rod we had no choice but to follow and PRAY!! After getting her close a couple times we got a good visual on the jig and saw she was hooked outside the mouth...which gave us hope. Brown trout, although not as penetrating as Northern Pike, have a hell of a set of chompers on them!!
Approaching the fifteen minute mark on the epic battle, she was still not ready to succumb to our net. As I remember, this was still one of the most memorable battles of all time. Dad and I were screaming at each other, the dogs were running around frantically, Marti was doing her best to stay out of the way (and not laugh at us), and the sow brown trout was giving it her all. Finally, after a few more minutes, a few more curse words, and the giant brown almost getting away as it wrapped around the trolling motor shaft...she was in the net. So excited I started dancing like I was in the final seconds of a hula-hoop contest, I looked back at dad and his eyes were filled with tears. It was then I realized he had fished his whole life for this fish, this very brown in the net is what he had dreamed of since he was a child. Although my prediction of twenty pounds was off...it wasn't by much. Dad and I carefully got some great photos of her before we placed her back home. I have seen my dad happy and excited, but never in this fashion. He was happy in a way only he could feel or explain to you. Me on the other hand, I was in complete disbelief of the magnificent fish we got to place our hands on.
With this being a pretty random blog post, I am actually quite glad the memories of the story are now preserved in writing. And even though it's just the adipose fin of the story, I think you get the point:) I remember dad looking up to the sky and saying a prayer to "poppy." It is father and son memories like these that make this whole darn thing so freakin' cool. So rather your scenario is a father and son or a grandpa and granddaughter...go get that BIG FISH!! Or any fish for that matter, they all make a lifetime of memories. Always and forever, "Jiggin' the Dream"
Dad and his "BIG FISH"
I had to get a picture with dad's sow...can you blame me
January 15, 2012
My ugly mug rockin' our booth at the Great Rockies Sports Show in Billings~
Alright folks, I promise to do my best to keep my frustrations out of this blog!! Amongst having an incredible journey to Billings over the weekend for the Great Rockies Sports Show, we had a couple terrible family losses. I give a huge kudos to my teammate dad for being able to keep it together and rock the show with me. I give an even bigger kudos to my step-momma for being such an incredibly strong and amazing person staying home so we could do the show. As I was starting to get my spirits up this morning, I came around the corner to my English setter puppy indulging in my $400 pair of Kenetrek boots for breakfast. Before I gave her a swat on the butt and launched my shredded leather boots through the living room picture window, I took a deep breath and realized two things:
1.) I am the idiot that left my boots on the floor for Dixie to devour
2.) Life is not replaceable, material items are...don't sweat the small stuff
So in-other-words, Dixie received no swat on the buns and there is no draft of twenty seven below zero weather coming through my picture window. Just a pair of shredded Kenetrek boots to teach me a lesson that I should be more responsible with my stuff (especially expensive delicious leather boots.) My wife will probably fall straight out of her chair if she reads that I actually took the blame and admitted to needing to be more responsible. For any male readers, you know how hard it is to take the blame and not pin it on the dog. And female readers, I'm sure your impressed with my responsibility of taking the blame;) It was far from easy, and I forgot to mention the words that came flying from my mouth between deep breaths...it helped a lot;)
Getting back to the Billings Great Rockies Sports Show, it was a remarkable weekend filled with an incredible crowd of folks. And a lot of fishermen and fisherwomen went home with the Kit's Tackle "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnow to start "Jiggin' the Dream" in 2013, baby!! And even the folks that didn't go home with Glass Minnows were aweing over our fish tank display highlighting the realistic characteristics of the jigs. And they got a super cool Kit's Tackle fridge magnet cut out in the shape of our awesome state of Montana. We made a lot of new friends and had some great laughs throughout the weekend. It almost felt like a neighborhood community inside the Billings Metra and it was so neat to see the positive response to Kit's Tackle...we felt our display and local father and son created business was perceived very well. We didn't really know what to expect, but to be truthful; it couldn't have gone any better!! So from the absolute bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone that made our weekend a true success.
I would like to mention a few highlights from the show and the weekend. First, a very sweet and soft spoken older gentleman wandered up to our booth and asked if we knew why fish were smarter than most fishermen??? As dad and I laughed, we were left scratching our heads. He said, it's simple, "they spend more time in schools than us." What a great joke and it was the highlight of our seminar later that day. As we got talking with this fine chap, he told us before the cold front hit he was on the Missouri River waded out into the deep and caught seven beautiful browns in one day. He said he had some advice for us, "fish as much as you can, life is short" Talk about an inspiration to all of us huh?!?!
Oh, and the hotel...the FREAKIN' hotel!!! The first night after a very long day dad and I were super excited to soak some sore muscles in the hot tub. We put on our trunks and headed down the hall to the pool area. Little did we know that while we were walking to the much anticipated hot tub, some little dooder puked his chicken nuggets all over in the pool and closed the whole darn thing. By the time we were pulling on the locked pool door the Billings Hazmat team was arriving to the scene;) So in disgust, we returned to our room and soaked our muscles with a fine glass of Jameson whiskey. The next night (with the pool still being closed of course) we were just getting settled into our room and the fire alarm sounded in the entire motel. It was so loud my ears are still ringing and some obnoxious recorded voice kept beaming over the intercom, "there is a fire in the building, evacuate now." As I frantically ran around the room gathering the Glass Minnows the folks in the room across the hall obviously took the fire a little more serious than we did. As we left our room a guy and gal were running down the hallway to the exit in their undergarments...really guys, you couldn't have taken four seconds to put on pants??? So as the crowd waited outside for the fire department to arrive, I'm pretty sure the streakin' bandits with bare feet felt pretty embarrassed ;) They were dancing around on their tip toes in their underwear in the middle of Billings in below zero weather...I honestly don't know what drew more attention, the fire or the naked guest
As I mentioned in our seminar, we have always looked at our slogan "Jiggin' the Dream" as time on the water. As dad and I push to grow our local entity, we have found a new form of "Jiggin' the Dream." Even though our trip to Billings didn't yield any 30" walleye, we landed a lot of friends and had some good bites to Kit's Tackle. So cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" in any fashion!!
January 09, 2013
Dad and I rocking our booth:)
Over this past weekend dad and I had our very first authentic trade show here in Helena, MT with the Great Rockies Sports Show. First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to all that made it down and visited our booth to talk some Jiggin'. We have done some smaller trade shows in the past, but not quite the volume of this one. It was very fun to interact and receive feedback from all of our wonderful customers and hear stories from the water. To be completely honest, I almost felt overwhelmed by the positive response and warm embraces to Kit's Tackle. And while on a sensitive note, it sure was nice to have dad beside me interacting and sharing stories with folks. He really seemed at home and where he belonged while having a blast. There is a certain aspect of this whole thing that really hits home being a father and son team. As exciting as the three day show was for us, all good things must come to an end...or not.
We actually leave tomorrow for the Great Rockies Sports show in Billings this Friday through Sunday (11th-13th) to share stories and adventures with a whole new crowd of folks. We have a very attention-grabbing and exciting display worth taking a gander. We are highlighting our "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnows and have them fooling people all day long in their thirty gallon fish tank. We have them set up and swimming like crazy to show their true realistic properties...and of course how effective they are!! We sure hope you can make it down to share a few stories or laughs with us. We will also be giving a jigging clinic all three days of the show which will be full of tips and some good ol' stories from dad and I's adventures.
With all the frustrations that come with trying to grow a small business, there sure are some pleasant surprises that make it so rewarding. All your kind words this past weekend, the friends we met and the excitement I saw in dads eyes working the booth with me was incredible!! So cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" and YOU Kit's nation!!
Dad and I are looking very forward to seeing everybody this weekend in Billings!!
January 2, 2013
I thought I had hooked a beaver under the ice!!! As if I wasn't nervous enough, my partner got a glance he said, "DOOD...when I saw the head it swam by for five minutes before I saw the tail"
With a new year upon us what fishy possibilities await us in the year to come??? The biggest walleye of your life, learning how to fly fish, catch more fish??? In the first couple days of 2013 the most popular resolution I have seen on social media sites (ie. Facebook) has been to catch more fish. I feel I should do my part to help you net that resolution! I would like to anchor the focus on ice fishing since the hard-water has cast across our lakes. I was lucky enough to finish 2012 out with a big bang battling some giant rainbow trout through the ice. We were using the Pro Series Marabou (black, undeniably the best color under the ice in marabou) and the Micro Glass Minnow Series with the "Parrot" and "Rainbow Flash" being magic flavors. We were tipping the jigs with maggots (not the marabou) and we caught fish both jigging and dead-sticking the baits. The beauty of the Glass Minnows is even with no current the material is so subtle it undulates on its own driving fish crazy! They also play a large part in inducing strikes from BIG fish because of their realistic representation of natural forage. Big fish are big for a reason; they have big appetites, but the presentation MUST feel right to their lateral line for your jig to end up in their feeding hole. So let's not just focus on more fish, let's focus on more quality fish right?? I mean hey, I love catching big fish, don't you?
The first topic I would like to cover is the importance of color and "matching the hatch." We were fishing a prairie lake where the forage consists primarily of freshwater shrimp...so of course pinks and oranges would work great! So your probably wondering why we were using trout representations then right? Great question, although the freshwater shrimp imitations will produce, I'm looking to catch the pond monster and his family!! Believe it or not, our gently rainbow trout doesn't just feed on caddis and shrimps...they are a carnivorous beast from the deep that will gladly devour a juvenile of their own species or something out of the ordinary! It relates very well to me after coming home from the brewery after a few hard earned tipples. Of course I could go with the staple Doritos in the cupboard OR I COULD COOK A GIANT DELICIOUS PIZZA AND EAT THE ENTIRE THING!! I think you get the point...although after I destroy the kitchen my wife says I'm no big catch So the tidbit is, to have out the staple presentation to put fish on the ice and have the BIG GUNS to entice Grandpa Bow;)
The next topic I would like to drill on is rod or tip-up placement on the ice. I feel like a broken record here but every time I go ice fishing it never fails I see an angler with his spread set out in a circle. I think I will be stressing this point until the day I go to walleye heaven. UNLESS you're setting up around a sunken island or you're the Michael Jordan of ice fishing...NEVER DO THIS!! The Kit's Tackle police will be on patrol looking for you circulars out there;) Always...AND I MEAN ALWAYS setup in a straight line to INTERCEPT THE FISH ON THEIR TRAVEL ROUTE. Fish generally always travel contour lines parallel to the shore or underwater structure depending on the body of water you are fishing. My recommendation is to start drilling close to shore (or your point of beginning) and run holes every eight feet to the completion of your spread. This does two very important things:
1.) Intercepts fish in all travel routes
2.) The sets are still close enough together that if traveling in schools there can be multiple hook-ups
Here are a few more tips for setting your spread:
-Never set so far you can't get to a fish in time. Nothing is worse than getting to your rod (out of breath) and the fish is gone. Or worse, your rod gets sucked down the hole (of course I wouldn't know anything about this)
-If possible, set two rows parallel to each-other at different depths. Now you're intercepting the fish at all travel routes and depths. (ie. If fishing for rainbow trout have one spread down 6 feet and the other spread down 12 feet.) For the record, I didn't tell you that;) My dad would kick my butt!!
-If using a power auger, drill your holes at a slight angle (helps coast the fish up the hole, especially if they have some shoulders on em') and always use a 10" drill blade if possible. You don't want to know why I don't recommend a 8" ice hole...let's just say some fish won't fit;)
ADVOCATING FOR THE FUTURE OF FISHING!!
The next point I would like to cover is the importance or (unimportance) of electronics. This might be the death of Kit's Tackle, but I am a firm believer that too much time dedicated to electronics is dead time...meaning I'm already going to have fish on the ice. Obviously they are a very important tool in any fashion of ice fishing; just don't get too carried away. I once went with an electronics guru who spent the whole day searching for the perfect weed-line or the cup in bottom structure. If his frustration wasn't high enough, I had fifteen jumbo perch on the ice before his jig was in the water. All in all, what I'm saying is the old-school method of hitting it hard does pretty darn well for this guy;)
Here are my biggest tips and uses of electronics under the ice (remember I'm an amateur with technology and electronics.)
1.) My biggest use for graphs rather its open water or ice fishing is a fast track to find the depth. I can punch a set of holes and in a matter of minutes and know the depth of each set. Seventy-five percent of the time sonar is strictly a depth tool for us...I've caught more big walleye in open water with no arcs than with arcs. Don't rely solely on your graph!!
2.) I will be eating my words a little here but sonar is very productive (and fun) for calling fish and adjusting to fish. For any serious ice-heads out there you will know what I'm talking about here...nothing is more fun than calling a fish in and tweaking your jigging to induce the strike. The other game changer is when you're jigging for trout fifteen feet down and you mark a fish at six feet and reel up, give it a few pops and BOOM!! This makes even a technology Neanderthal like myself feel like a pro;)
3.) Although not a graph, underwater cameras can be very helpful when fishing. For example, if you're starting to drill your hole set for a three day trip at Fort Peck it's worth the time to see what you're setting your rigs in. I can assure you no matter how lively a minnow is it will not get devoured if buried in weeds or between two huge rocks. Plus it's pretty fun to get a fish eye view!
If you would like to learn more about electronics because you obviously didn't learn anything from me;) visit the pros at Vexilar which is the industry leader in ice fishing electronics.
Lastly, (since I could go on forever) and most important is to be safe and have fun! We are still with early ice conditions in most places so please use the most extreme caution when heading out onto the ice. Always go with a partner and carry a spud bar for testing ice conditions if there is any concern. And if kids are around, man up and ALWAYS let them catch the fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good luck on the ponds and cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream"
Christmas Day, 2012
Well today is my first ever Christmas blog and I will start by wishing everyone a very happy and Merry Christmas! I traveled to Denver, Colorado with my wife to be with her family and my adorable little nephew Chase for Christmas. I have to admit it is my first Christmas away from the mountains and lakes of Montana...I'm usually pitchin' jigs on the river or staring down a hole in the ice waiting for that magic moment. While missing my mountains and my pups, I feel so blessed to be with such a loving family this time of the year. The only setback is that I just found out there is a lake near downtown Denver full of everything from my beloved walleye to crappie and tiger muskie...that might be an awkward taxi cab ride The closest I have come to the fishing hole is the Denver Mall's fountain. I'm the kind of guy that has an anxiety attack at the local Wal-Mart, let alone the Denver mall. About the only crowded place I like to be is at the boat ramp during a big tournament or hot bite!!
I knew I was in trouble when it took us an hour to find a place to park in the mall lot. When we entered the giant concrete jungle I looked over at the "war department" and she smiled and said "come on, ya big wussie." I will gladly swim in shark infested waters or hike around with grizzly bears but the sight of all those people frantically running around almost made me dirty my droors!!! It was about to get real bad...real fast! We came to Christmas shop and I was about to spend my time at the mall shopping for a change of underwear When I thought I was about to get away with a clean pair of shorts, of group of mall carolers came around the corner dressed in Santa costumes and surrounded me singing and dancing at the top of their lungs. For anybody that knows me, I for sure pooped my pants and wanted to fall into the fetal position and cry. As they moved on and attacked their next innocent victim, I succumbed to being my wife's chauffeur for the rest of the adventure.
"Jiggin' the Dream" in the Denver Mall...yea I'm outta place but representing in style
Since I was on such a roll with my Christmas etiquette, I decided to tell my wife's family the story of the "skunk from the dead." A few years back (about fifteen) when my best friend Chris and I were in middle school, my garage got raided by a rabid skunk. One morning letting the dogs out, the striped beast sprayed his delightful liquor and darted into the garage. As the beast hid in the corner growling, my dad quickly grabbed the boat oar and mashed him right on the noggin'. That was the end of the striped stinker...or so we thought. We lived in a very family oriented neighborhood with lots of kids and large families. Chris and I got the bright idea to tie some 10lb monofilament line to the beast's leg and drag him out into the street. Ok, brace yourself for this As our first group of prey moved closer, Chris and I were hid more than a hundred feet back behind the screen door of the house waiting and peeking out in great anticipation.
When the family walking their dogs got about twenty-five feet from the skunk Chris yelled, "NOW DUDE, NOW, NOW!!!" and I started yanking on the mono as hard as I could. What was soon to follow was without a doubt our greatest accomplishment as a couple a good hearted hell raising kids. With the skunk's legs flailing around like me on ice skates, the dogs were jerking at their leashes barking their heads off while the parents were trying to gather the screaming kids. We kept the skunk floundering around while the family went running up the street like a group of striped-ass apes. Our next victim was a family driving down the road; once again as they came near I started yanking on the mono as hard as I could. When the car got close, the family swerved to the side and came to an abrupt stop...the entire family was pointing and screaming before they sped off in a burnout!!! As you can probably imagine, Chris and I perpetually tormented the neighborhood for the rest of the day. It is memories like these that make me who I am in this world...and my brother-in-law's response to my story was "ohhhh, hell no!"
So up and beyond a Merry Christmas I truly hope everyone is having a magical time with family and friends this holiday season. It is so important to have the stories and smiles and warm embraces brought only through giving and cherishing time with the ones you love...and of course ditching everybody to go fishing for an afternoon or so (hey, fresh stories are like fresh fish.) So cheers to large metropolitan areas (horrifying), almost getting arrested for testing the "Glass Minnows" on goldfish in the Park Meadows mall fountain, family and friends, clean underwear, a white Christmas and of course..."Jiggin' the Dream"
Ps. Remember, Christmas is about giving...unless Santa forgot your Kit's jigs under the tree
My kind of Santa...my nephew Chase
December 12, 2012
Jim "Jiggin' the Dream" on the Missouri River
HOLY HOT FRIED FISH STICKS BOLOGNE PONY do I have a treat for you this week!!! I want to give a big shout out and a huge THANK YOU to Kit's Tackle's Montana Pro Staff team, Jim Muscat and Dave Greger. I remember when I was young looking up to these guys thinking "man, those guys are the best fisherman in the world" and apparently I wasn't far off! It has been an absolute awe-inspiring couple years since dad and I's first conversation with these boys. The best part about the whole scenario is dad's exact words after we met Jim and Dave was "those boys are the real deal, Trev." It wasn't a couple days later I received an email from Jim and his words were "you Johnson boys are the real deal." The friendship and mutual respect has been there since that very moment. I will always look up to these boys, but it sure feels great to see how humble these guys really are. It's funny how people (myself included) build a mental image of certain people or things to find out how WRONG they really are. In other words, Jim and Dave are the most humble guys I have ever met that share the same passion as all of us. The only thing not humble about these boys is the size of their balls...because they have elephant nuts!!! I'm not going to lie, I do some pretty crazy wild stints in the outdoors but not like these boys!!!
I would like to highlight a recent winter trip they had on the Missouri River here in Montana. Jim, Dave, Penny (Jim's lab) and a box full of the Kit's Tackle "Glass Minnows" set out in the frigid winter weather to do what they do best. And this time of year it's not just as easy as dumping the boat in the drink and heading out to your favorite stretch of river. You know you have a dedicated pro-staff when every tire on their truck and trailer is fully chained up with v-bars!!! Not only that, they spent half a day shoveling drifts just to get to the ramp. This can be a very dangerous time of the year to be on the water for a million reasons...the biggest weighing in on the absence of others. Not to mention losing your lower unit dodging a maze of floating ice. If something goes wrong out there, it goes really wrong...really fast! As Jim and I talked, this is not fishing for the amateur or unprepared angler...this is Jiggin' Big-
With all the dangers weighing in on Jim and Dave they managed to get the boat in the river and start "Jiggin' the Dream." Trying a few different methods and applications it was soon narrowed down to the Glass Minnow Series!!! Jim's exact words were, "you know Trev, I started out on the jig head and Gulp while Dave pitched the Glass Minnows; I was up on fish but Dave had me on the studs." Just like I have mentioned before, big fish, regardless of the species are much smarter than the little guys. It compares very well to hunting big bulls...it is common to see spikes and rag horns feeding in a park but you'll be damn lucky for a big boy to even fringe it. All fish have a lateral line, and in order for your jig to end up in the feeding hole it has to ultimately feel right to the fish. By using a realistic representation of the targeted species natural forage base you are very much upping your odds on big fish.
The "Jailbait" Glass Minnow flavor fooled the lateral line on this gaint 30'+ hen
For anybody who hasn't seen the Glass Minnows in action, they are an absolutely incredible mimicking bait. In fact, the most common phrase when someone sees the "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnow in action for the first time is, "that looks more realistic than an actual yellow perch." I myself have always been a big fish ambassador and I have built so much confidence in the Glass Minnow Series it would be a rare site to see anything else tied on the end of my line. They have a ridiculously awesome stop and go action with UV enhanced material. When in motion, the material stays tight to the jig; when the jig pauses, the material flares just like natural fin flare on frightened bait fish. The reflective properties of the jig also mimic the transparent qualities of most natural forage in their juvenile state. An to put the proof in the pudding, just take a look at some of the river monsters Jim and Dave got to quickly put their hands on during their trip.
Lastly, but more important than the Glass Minnows or amount of fish you catch is the respect that MUST be used when targeting big fish. A big walleye is probably at least ten years old and a very rare fish in almost any body of water. It is of PARAMOUNT importance that you handle these fish carefully and release them back to their swimming hole. Just like our mission statement reads "...maintaining and advocating for the future of fishing." If you are lucky enough to catch a big fish and feel that incredible rush a 30" walleye brings when it hits the net...think about how lucky you really are. Wouldn't you want the next generations to be able to feel that same feeling? And heck, wouldn't YOU want to catch her again next year??? Also, I would bet my jiggin' arm the rush from watching a giant walleye swim off will far outweigh the rush of catching it...trust us, we know;) Dad and I's catch and release ethics are as important as the sport itself...another reason we chose Jim and Dave to represent the Kit's Tackle team. Their hardcore fishing mentality and sound ethics for the sport while testing and representing our products is a solid foundation that we cherish.
The pictures from their trip would make even Jeremy Wade from the popular reality TV fishing show "RIVER MONSTERS" drool all over himself!!! As Jim and I joked about, you are going to see the Kit's Tackle boys holding some huge fish...it's just going to happen. The thing is, it comes with countless days on the water and hours spent. Even on their recent trip they covered miles of river and worked hard in nasty conditions to find fish. A perfect example, I pulled a daylight to dark shift on our local Canyon Ferry the other day and never touched a fish...but I had that goose bump enhanced excited feeling with every lift up of my jig. Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" and a kick ass pro staff-
Dave with a giant male
Jim is all smiles with a HUGE hen about to be released safely back home
Dave with a Hauger Sauger that enhaled the "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnow
Jim signing out with my personal fav...the "Yellow Perch" Glass Minnow
December 5, 2012
After looking at the calendar today I was left scratching my noggin in absolute disbelief that it is already December. In my life, I can't remember such a warm and forgiving winter thus far (even when the cooler systems move in they are bumped by warm weather the next day.) So with this being said, I'm going to keep on pumping the open water game for the next couple weeks; then we'll talk hard water.
I would like to focus this week's post on winter jig fishing for the cold-water species. And not only on the traditional jigging rod, but also on the fly line. Kit's Tackle ambassador Jim Verzuh, from Bozeman Montana has been "Jiggin' the Dream" on Montana's rivers with his fly rod and the Pro Series Marabou jigs this fall/winter. Jim has mastered the technique of using the jigs on the fly line and I would like to share his three methods with you (of course I got his permission)
Here are Jim's techniques in his own words:
"I have found that the Kit's Tackle Pro Series Marabou jigs work on the fly rod with multiple techniques. I mostly fish them with a sinking tip line, yet a floating line works too. Casting across the river and allowing the jig to swing like a streamer definitely gets some good hits. A slow strip retrieve upstream seems to be the best with "the take" coming when the jig is dropping down in the water column. Recently, I have also found that dead-drifting the jig is effective in deep water where it is less likely to catch on the bottom of the river. All three of these techniques produce good hook-ups."
Jim with a brute rainbow "Jiggin' the Dream" on Montana's Bighorn River!
Jim with a Bighorn Brownie-
After reading Jim's very accurate description of fly fishing the marabou jigs and comparing it to my jigging rod techniques, there is one similarity that is of PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE in each application. FISH ALWAYS HIT THE JIG ON THE FALL...ALWAYS!!! Rather you are using a fly line or an ultra-light jigging rod, make sure you embrace the technique of letting the jig fall through the water column. The strip retrieve that Jim shared with us is the closest of the methods I use when jig fishing. I ALWAYS let the jig fall on a slack line (imparting no line drag on the jig) then giving it a good "pop" or two. The other GORILLA in jig fishing regardless of the application is watching your line...LEARN TO BECOME A CRITICAL LINE WATCHER!!! Once you can master the feel and the art of watching your line...well, it kicks ass!!! And you will in fact be "Jiggin' the Dream"
Yours truly with a gorgeous December Brown Trout from Hauser Lake near Helena, MT.
November 27, 2012
Man o man, where does a guy even begin? I suppose the first thing I should do is apologize for last weeks missed blog and anybody I neglected as I ran wild in the woods. And sure hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving with friends and family. It was the first time in a long time I took a week off from everything...and it was awesome!!! Had some incredible experiences throughout the whole hunting season and finished with a bang...not literally though I am only human like the rest of us and would damn sure click on a blog that had a picture of a big bull before not. With this being said, I hope you have still found yourself here! I have no picture of a big bull that has haunted me for four years now; but what I do have is a collection of the most cherished and magical memories. And about forty bulls that don't know how lucky they are to be feeding in a park right now I remember the closest I came to shooting a bull was in 10' and it was an awesome non-typical rag horn bull. He had a giant horn that came straight out from the side of his head. About the time I had myself talked into filling the freezer he walked up to a cow and gave her a giant sloppy kiss across the face...SAFETY ON!!! I have a huge deep respect for Mother Nature and all her wonderful children, but it grew immensely after I passed my first bull. Instead of pulling the trigger and seeing a flash of smoke...I clearly see my ghost white passion in their truest form. I have learned a lot and have got to see what very few hunters ever see. And I bet I've pulled the trigger with the safety on more than you...ha ha ha! I want to point out that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with shooting an elk of any size...I am just a full blown dumbass!!! I started this rant four years ago and it has been the wildest, most incredible journey of my life.
I would like to share just a couple memories from this season:
"A DAY WITH BIG D"
In the second week of the season I hunted a day with my partner Dale Smithson. We ventured up a ridge we both have been eyeing for a couple years now. Huffing and puffing by the time we hit the top...fresh elk sign! Moseying along it wasn't long before my nostrils filled with that deliciously rank aroma of elk. The forest started coming alive with elk and I had legal bulls within 100 yards. I scanned the forest like a search team for that elusive rack that haunts me every day. About the time I thought I had seen every elk, they caught wind of the even ranker human aroma and exploded off the ridge. There ended up being four branch antler bulls and a spike...and I am happy to announce I saw at least a couple calves!
High fiving from the awesome experience we had just walked into, movement caught both our eyes to the left. Dale said, "what the hek?" and I said "WOLF!!!" Let's just say nobody in this world no matter how big or bad wants to get between Dale and a wolf! All I remember was Dale saying "outta the way!!!" and he looked like a freight train busting through the trees for a shot. As he got his stance...BOOM!!! I watched the animal hit the ground and I yelled, "dude, you just busted a wolf." Well, apparently the excitement grew my eyes and the big bad wolf ended up being a wily coyote. But to add the potatoes to the pot, I wouldn't want to be a wolf in the woods with BIG D!!!
"Pine Needle Soup"
One night as dad and I were sitting (way too far back in like always) watching a park until dark we noticed a pine bough bouncing up and down. I quickly grabbed my rifle thinking an elk must have just bumped it and would walk out at any minute. To my surprise I spotted a big ol' male Blue Grouse walking up and down the bough. Wondering what the heck he was doing I raised my binoculars to watch this marvel moment. He looked like a teeter totter at a children playground bouncing from beak to tail. I have to admit I have opened up a million late season grouse and found pine needles exploding from their crops. What I have not done is imagine how they got there...I have pictured (and watched) grouse picking berries and chasing hoppers but never playing teetor totter on a pine bough. Although we saw no elk that night we can now add a teetor tottering blue grouse to the bag of memories...and a long walk out of a S*&%hole with headlamps!
"Obstacle Course from Hell"
One morning heading into one of the toughest places I hunt, I heard crashing to my right and to my surprise it was not the elk or mule deer I imagined. It was a massive white wolf that looked like it was from a horror movie. I only caught a glimpse and then I looked up at the atrocious dark downfall infested jungle he disappeared into. I will also add, I had just crowned the head of the ridge that has a grade so steep you almost need mountaineering gear to make it. Of course he would be at the top instead of the bottom, and I knew what I had to do.
With the elk park only a couple minutes away, I decided to give up elk for the day and pursue the timbered beast. WORST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE...HANDS DOWN!!! I have never been drug through such a monstrous forest in my life! It literally had layers of downfall and of course it was snow covered so it was slicker than cat poop. I have already broken one leg in the mountains and I must have been trying to break the other. At one point I was so frustrated from falling I thought there is no way it could get worse...WRONG! As I stepped over a down fall log onto another, my foot gave out and I came down almost leaving my manhood on a protruding limp. Let me tell ya, nothing like racking your nuts in the middle of a freaking jungle. The only reason I didn't curl into the fetal position and give up was because I was so twisted and stuck in the logs I couldn't move. Luckily now that I'm out alive with all body parts still attached I can laugh about it with you
Getting back on his tracks he eluded me even deeper into his realm. That scheming bugger would take me across a giant side hill (keep in mind I can't see more than forty feet in any one direction) and would loop around and get right back in MY tracks. Ohhhh, the nerve that elk eating machine had to tease me like it was a game! As the day continued he did this to me at least a couple more times before I ran short of daylight. I was so exhausted from the wolfing obstacle course through the thick I had depleted my food and water supply long before I gave up. Finally getting back to the truck...HAGGARD!!! I called my dad to tell him the story and he had some words that gave a great deal of comfort. He said, "Well, at least that bastard knows what it's like to be hunted now."
"Testosterone and a Snowshoe Hare"
As dad and I headed out for the last hunting day of the season, we were hunting as hard as ever, but no harder than we ever do. About forty five minutes into the last day we were blessed with two beautiful rag horns feeding through a park right in front of us. Deciding we would let them get a couple years on em' we patiently admired them doing their thing. Like I mentioned before, when you pull the trigger all you see is smoke. After a couple minutes of watching them feed, the front bull which was a broken horned four point turned and locked antlers with the five point. If we weren't blessed enough to walk into two legal bulls the last day...we got to watch their testosterone fueled duel for half an hour. Just plain cool...damn cool!!!
After getting too far back into the thick to walk out mid-day, we found a great perch overlooking the mountains and decided to build a fire. Collecting fuel from the trees it wasn't long before I was sound asleep by the fire. Talk about the life...the good life!!! After spending four lovely hours by the fire it was time to make our move. It had come down to the wire...less than two hours before the season ending buzzer. As we made our way down the ridge I caught movement to my left. Looking closer I saw a blinding white Snowshoe hare scurrying to the edge of the trail in front of us. Dad said, "walk slowly and I'll bet he just sits there." We walked by him giving him as much harmless radiance as we could and he didn't budge...we were within two feet of him. It is so neat how nature breaks down; the little fella knows how well he blends into the snow under his feet. It is experiences like this that will always hold my heart on the mountain.
As the day crept closer to its demise, the sky turned to an unbelievable pastel Easter egg purple with a pink border. Creeping along the ridge dreaming of a giant rack of horns in the final moments on such a gorgeous night it seemed to perfect to not happen. The next thing I knew it was too dark to see through the timber and the season had drifted away. The most bittersweet feeling a guy like me could ever have in this world...in a good way. I am thankful for my adventures this season has brought to me, I will cherish them forever.
A few more pics from the thick-
WASTED by the warming embraces of a fire-
We are not the top of the food chain!!!
ahhhh mom...tag soup again!!!
November 13, 2012
Elk steaks wrapped in peppered bacon awaiting their arrival to destination BBQ!!!
One night during my college days at U of M my comrades and I returned from downtown Missoula with an inebriated fueled hunger and all gathered around the fridge. As always, the first thing we did was remove a couple packs of elk meat from the freezer. Then it was an iron chef marathon adding all sorts of seasonings making a mess only kindergarteners with cupcakes could create. On this particular night, a light bulb of pure ingenious went off in my roommates mind. His exact words were, "DOODS...WE SHOULD WRAP THE STEAKS IN BACON!!!" We all stood there in a drunken stupor for a few seconds pondering the idea and then in exact unison we yelled "DELICIOUS" I'm pretty sure people six blocks away heard our excitement for bacon smothered elk steaks! As we rummaged through the cabinets to find toothpicks to hold the bacon around the steaks our excitement grew. As we applied our "fare from the gods" to the grill we were all slobbering like my lab at a hotdog eating contest.
When we finally tried the steaks, I'm pretty sure the bacon was burnt to a crisp (with the BBQ still on fire), the steaks were probably raw and it might have been the bear I killed that year instead of elk; but it was better than kissing a fifteen pound walleye!!! At that point in time, it could have been road killed porcupine wrapped in bacon and we wouldn't have known the difference. Not only did we get a glorious meat feast that night, but we created a page in a recipe book for a lifetime of meals to come. This has been one of my favorite meals ever since our bacon burning treasure was found! I love bacon...I would eat crumbled bacon on my cerial, bacon cake, bacon soda, bacon everything!!! In fact, when I was at the grocery store last night purchasing the bacon for the elk steaks the butcher said "oh shoot, I gave you a little more than the pound you asked for" and I replied "there ain't no bacon gunna go bad in my house man!!!"
As always the dinner turned out freaking amazing. I am a pretty simple meat and potatoes kind of guy, but there are many sides that go well with the bacon steaks. My personal favorite is the steaks, boiled red russet potatoes, and corn on the cob. And unlike my college pourfest days, a nice glass of merlot goes absolutely wonderful with the dish. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd's Mr. VanZant once said "Be a Simple Man"
Here are a few tips on making your Bacon Steaks a success:
1.) Use thick cut bacon preferably from the butcher (I like the peppered bacon)
2.) Use toothpicks to hold the bacon around the steaks (don't forget to take them out!!!)
3.) Lightly season the steaks before the bacon is applied. If using peppered bacon go light on the pepper. I like to use salt, pepper and garlic powder.
4.) Set the BBQ to LOW!!! Otherwise the local fire department will be putting out your BBQ fire. On low (300-400 degrees) I like to cook both sides for about five minutes each for medium rare. This is going off your average cut elk or other game steak. For thicker steaks cooking times will vary.
5.) The bacon will be blackened when the steaks are done. If you're like me, I leave the bacon on and it's mouthwatering goodness. If you want to remove the bacon, the steak inside will be as tender as butter with a slight bacon flavor. Either way, DELICIOUS!!!
Hopefully this will give some of you a new twist on cooking your wild game. And as always, cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" and BACON!!!
a gps and a mountain slogging beast
November 6th, 2012
Here is a picture of my Garmin Rino 655t and the trails that walked us right back to our truck-
For all you outdoor fish heads and mountain slogging beast like myself...a handheld (GPS) Global Positioning System is worth its weight in walleye;) For example, in the dry arm of Fort Peck with the water levels high again, the night fishing can be excellent...at least until you have to get back to the ramp. Or when you're still a couple miles back into a new hunting hole and it's getting dark when you cut a fresh bull track. I don't know about you, but I have gotten myself in some jungle freak bad situations doing dumb stuff. About eight years ago, I headed into a new area for an afternoon hunt. My plan was to get to the ridge and cut back a couple miles to an area I was familiar with and be out by dark. Low and behold...there is such things as finger ridges off the main ridge (SH*T.) Now with nighttime falling upon me (and of course dark of the moon) I was miles from my sought after destination. The canopy in the woods was so thick I could not see out to get any sort of bearing before it was dark. With nothing but a dying headlamp, my bow, my pack and my pee shooter 357 Magnum...I was lost!!!
Normally in a situation like this, you are trained to stay calm and build a fire...OH HELL NO!!! I was climbing over logs and running through the forest sweating like a rag horn in a rack bull fight. I was running and pulling through a swampy mountainside so thick I had to push myself through bushes at certain points. I was falling and blaspheming every word in the book...even though I was in big time grizzly country looking back I was pretty safe. Although the creatures of the woods probably got a pretty good laugh outta me that night. I actually didn't even know where I was going but with the shock setting in a guy starts to panic...in fact at one point I almost left my brand new Matthews bow in the woods because it was getting stuck on limbs. Finally after hours of hell, I was so exhausted when I came over a ridge and found a logging road I started crying in excitement.
I didn't have a clue in heck where I was, but it was one step closer to civilization. As I started walking the road out and trying to talk some confidence into myself the unimaginable happened. As I rounded a corner, I came face to face with big beady glowing eyes. I could make out the figure of a big tom Mountain Lion and almost died. I remember as clear as day closing my eyes like a dumbass and telling myself it wasn't true. As my eyes opened (and my underwear filled) the lion was on a dead sprint for me I did what any man would do and pulled my 357 and unloaded the quickest six shots of my life directly at that bloodthirsty felines head. I was so blinded by the cylinder arc, by the time I could see I was still alive and there was no mountain lion anywhere to be found. So if anyone found a mountain lion in the Lincoln area a few years back full of holes it was probably me. After spending half the night in the woods I finally found a main road and was safe...over 20 miles from my truck!!!
This whole story I just told you, which I hope you found more enthusing than I, could have been 100% avoided had I been carrying a GPS. There is not a more reassuring feeling in the world than that little computer screen. Last Sunday (not so funday) dad and trekked into a park we found on Google earth that took us almost three hours to get to. When we were finally getting close (about 45 minutes before dark) we were more worried about getting out of the woods than making it to the park. We stopped to collect our thoughts and I removed my GPS from my pack. The new GPS systems are so cool in that you can burn a line where you walked and make waypoints along the way. We made it the extra mile to the park which was beautiful and full of elk sign I must add...but no elk. Now with three hours back to the truck in the dark, pouring rain, and not to mention a horrible spruce tree slippery rock and downfall infested jungle the Rino 655t was going to be put to the true test. Although it was a long and miserably journey back to the truck there was no worry involved. I never looked more than fifteen feet in front of me (probably because I couldn't see that far in the mess we were in) and walked us all the way out with a handheld computer screen. Dad made one very good point in the middle of the thickest Sh*thole we could be caught in...at least we can't see how far this jungle goes in the dark
Finally making it to the truck, opening the cooler and seeing the gleaming blue cans of Bud Light was like opening a treasure chest full of elk teeth. I am a huge outdoor junkie as you all know and have made it through a couple life threatening situations. I'm not saying it's important to have a GPS if you're going to run like we do...it's an ABSOLUTE MUST AND CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE!!! We have the Garmin Rino 655t which is a great unit. There are some other good units available as well...just don't skimp on the good stuff. Remember, these things are a tool that can save your life. What I recommend to all new GPS users after you are familiar with the unit is to get a ways from your truck in the woods and use your GPS to get back. Make sure it is an area you are familiar with, then start walking and follow the screen until you run into your truck door...no cheating!!! You will be surprised of the amount of confidence this will build in your outdoor skillset. And is great practice for the real thing-
1.) Always carry extra batteries for your gps and headlamp
2.) ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS carry an extra pair of underwear for possible mountain lion encounters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keep smashing the woods and water Kit's nation!!! Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream"
Father and Son Rod Building Interview
October 31, 2012
Happy Halloween Kit's Nation!!! I decided to take this week's post and interview dad about his lifelong passion of rod building. I am always the one blabbing about something so I thought it would be fun to bring dad into the post by interviewing him. The other afternoon while walking through the woods I was actually wondering some things about dad's rod building talents myself. I have watched the most beautiful rods come to life and have been taught myself, but never wondered where dad got started. I figured I would share his response with everyone rather than keeping it to my ears.
Trevor: Dad, what sparked your initial interest in rod building?
Dad: My rod building interest came from wanting to go to the water with a personalized stick built by my own hands. It would be unique to my personality and be hand crafted to my exact specifications. It was a rewarding feeling to go to the water with home produced tackle and a custom rod.
Trevor: How old were you when you built your first fishing rod?
Dad: I was fifteen years old when I built my first rod and it was a 5' 6" Herter ultra-light blank. Years ago it was the most awesome fishing rod I had ever used. Looking back, I was able to touch the tip to the butt of the rod but it did yield me my second largest brown trout and fueled the fire to my lifelong passion of rod building.
Trevor: How can you sit at the rod building bench for hours on end doing tedious thread artwork?
Dad: Well Trev, that is a good question. I seem to get lost in every rod I build and time seems to drift by like a flowing river. I have built hundreds of rods making the steps come automatic to me, yet each rod is very unique. I fall in love with the custom handles and thread artwork that goes into each rod. Hand weaving custom wraps is an art form and the beauty it presents brings a lifetime of pleasure to the owner. I still have a hard time watching rods leave the shop as I build an emotional attachment to each rod I craft.
Trevor: Would you consider yourself a master rod builder?
Dad: Absolutely Trev, the quality of our rods is unsurpassed by anyone anywhere in the world. When you get a Kit's Tackle custom rod, I guarantee they will be splined perfectly, wrapped with the finest precision and beauty, and constructed with the industry's finest components. And of course built by hand from the blank to the final thread wrap ensuring a master crafted rod with dedicated precision.
Trevor: Has it been fulfilling to pass your rod building passion along to your son and turn it into a business?
Dad: Trev, the greatest fulfillment in my life was when you decided to take Kit's Tackle to the next level. Trevor has a keen eye for quality as you all know and is so observant on the water in the product refinement process. Trevor also has a special gift with people; being able to communicate so clearly and fluently with all. He is very energetic and you can feel his passion for the world of fishing and the tackle and rod building business. If you get an opportunity to catch a Kit's Tackle seminar, it will be a lively fun packed session with tips and tricks. Thank you Trev, for all you have done for Kit's Tackle and the adventures we have shared together. I love you son.
Trevor: Dad, is there any special events or fundraiser you donate your master crafted rods to?
Dad: Kit's Tackle is a very active participant in the world of giving and donating. We donate multiple rods each year to raise money for education, organizations like Walleyes Unlimited of Montana (getting kids introduced and involved in the world of fishing), and private fundraisers for people in need amongst our community. There is not a better feeling at the end of the day than knowing you are helping to better someone's life.
Trevor: Dad, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Dad: Actually yes Trev, I want all our customers and followers to know that it makes my heart so happy to know I can help be a part of their success on the water. We hope all of you have a chance to catch a fish of a lifetime on the custom build rod from Kit's Tackle. We invite you to start "Jiggin' the Dream" with us!!!
Well I hope you enjoyed the interview and will take a look at Kit's Tackle's custom rod page. A custom rod from Kit's Tackle would make an unforgettable CHRISTMAS GIFT this year. The possibilities are endless theming the rod around your favorite sports team to matching the colors of your boat. Not only will your rod be unique to the personality of its owner but it will take refined performance to the next level. Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream"
Here is a picture testimonial from Mike Benson (the man to watch out for during the Flathead Lake Mack Days) with his first lake trout on his new custom rod from Kit's Tackle that he calls "Sweeter than Cherry Pie!!!
Here is a link to our custom rod page for all the details and warranty information along with a picture gallery of our rods:
October 23, 2012
First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to all the successful hunters from the opening bang. Also, I want to give a big high five to the fisherman who trudged the weather to catch a nice bag of fish over the weekend. I have seen some great photos and heard some awesome stories from the field and also on the water so kudos to all you outdoor studs getting it done!
Friday afternoon, dad and I headed to the woods with childhood butterflies bouncing in our stomachs anticipating opening day. Although the butterflies still tumble in our stomachs, the way we hunt opening day has changed. We used to hunt a popular area with a good population of elk and a lot of hunters. We always had the most success in this spot due to dad's knowledge of how to hunt the area. In fact, I think we killed bulls and double bulls multiple years in a row on opening day. You are all probably thinking, "why the hell would someone change that?" When I was a kid the action was everything, as I have grown older I long for adventure and wild places. There is something about seeing another man track in the woods that makes me want more. I am absolutely enthralled with the feeling of being in remote places or where few men have ever hunted. The only problem is the chance of harvesting an animal decreases but the satisfaction of the hunt greatly increases which carries me through. Hunting in these remote places is quite the adventure seeing more mountain goats than we do elk tracks
As we were going to bed Friday night we started going through our phones listening to different ringtones for the morning alarm and I came across a tone labeled "Air Raid." As I clicked on the tone, it was that alarm that starts quiet and continuously gets louder like in the movies when an air strike is called in and people are sprinting for the bunkers. I instantly got the best idea I have ever had...although I would probably get shot for it. Already laughing so hard I had tears coming out my eyes; I tried my best to explain to dad what was so hilarious. I managed to get out how funny it would be on opening day in the area we used to hunt so heavily populated by hunters to release the "Air Raid" song into a giant megaphone from the top of the mountain about 30 seconds before legal shooting. By now, I had snot coming out my nose from laughing so hard thinking about the idea and dad wasn't far behind. Then to make it worse, I told dad after the "Air Raid" was over, I could in a very loud and clear voice broadcast this into the megaphone. "Attention all elk, rifle season has officially begun...RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!" At this point we were laughing so hard I couldn't breathe and the next thing I knew I was awakened to the alarm of an "Air Raid"
As we began our ascent up the mountain we were so graciously accompanied by pouring rain!!! Making it to the area we wanted to start hunting at daylight we were about half an hour early. With the rain tattering our faces we quickly looked for a big spruce for cover. While the next minutes passed we huddled together for warmth and comfort from the pouring rain. As the morning progressed, the rain slowly diminished and the sun began to pop over the forested ridge casting an orange illuminating glow over the ground. It was so gorgeous that I had to stop for a second and take it all in...just an absolute perfect morning in the woods. We hunted up a ridge with broken parks until about 10:00 am and then started pounding the timber. By the time mid-day had rolled around we hadn't seen the slightest sign that elk had been in the area and our wet gear was chilling us to the bone. Miles from the truck we decided to enjoy the comfort of a fire and hunt the afternoon out.
It's funny how some of the best and most vivid memories of hunting come back to sitting around a fire. Not the kind of fire you sit around with beers (although that's damn nice) I mean the kind of fire you sit around miles from anything to warm your core and unthaw your toes. The kind of fire you look straight in the eye and get lost recollecting the morning hunt and forestalling that giant set of antlers walking through the lodge pole forest. The kind of fire that makes that crackle that brings me back to when I was six years old miles back in that dad built for me after he killed an elk. There has just always been something so special to me about building fire in the mountains and gazing into its flames...it's almost as the world stops and I am frozen (unthawing) in time.
As we stopped fueling the fire, we collected handfuls of snow and churned the coals to make sure it was completely out. Even though the ground was covered with snow the fire danger is still very high because of how dry it is. We picked up our packs and away we crept with feather footsteps and the turtle walk. Killing bulls in timber comes down to the old saying about the "Tortoise and the Hare." Slow and steady wins the race when hunting elk where your maximum shot is fifty or sixty yards. My father has taught me to go as slow as you can then go slower. Although I don't have a picture from this hunt to prove this tactic, I have a photo album of its proved triumph.
The next couple days were similar to opening day with magical hunts although the woods seemed void of game. In three days of hard hunting we never saw a big game animal. This is where it is easy for the average hunter (and avid) to get a little discouraged. Actually feeling a little discouraged myself, I got a text from my best friend who killed a nice bull opening morning. He said after he shot his bull that seemed to appear from nowhere, he remembered something I once told him "the neatest thing about hunting is you just never know." And that is exactly right, the same goes for fishing and it makes sense because they are the two things in this world I take to with vigorous relentless pursuit!!!
So if you're ever feeling a little discouraged after working your butt off for a weekend or the whole season...remember, IT CAN ALL CHANGE IN ONE SECOND!!!
October 9th, 2012
Here is a picture of my ugly mug out of breath on the trail to the promise land-
As I lifted my pack from the ground to my shoulders I was instantly brought back to the strenuous, yet breathtaking journey ahead of us. I glanced over at dad and gave a smirky smile in excitement and a little in dismay. The trail (if you can call it that) ahead is some of the most inaccessible country I have ever left tracks upon. There is something so wild and remote about places where few men have ever traveled that greatly intrigues me. In fact, this is the same place where I broke my leg on that haunted mountainside that late September afternoon. Yup...you guessed it! This past weekend dad and I packed into the Scapegoat Wilderness that has been closed since late July due to fire.
With elk on our mind, this voyage has so much to offer visually that you can become easily distracted. As we finally approached the wilderness boundary with little to no sign of elk, it was only moments later we found out why. With hundreds of acres being closed to all access for months we figured it was going to be a wapiti paradise with elk running everywhere. Apparently we weren't the only hunters that had that hunch. Made just moments earlier, the most proficient hunters on land left their tacks in the trail. We had missed a pack of wolves by seconds and my wolf tag was burning a hole in my wallet.
As we looked up the drainage we knew we only had a few minutes to make our move before they would disappear over the ridge. Dropping our packs we started covering ground the fastest we could scanning the terrain for the great white of the woods. Stopping to catch our breath, we heard commotion to our left and the pack was busting through a small patch of timber to the ridge for safety. The trees were so tall that all we could see was the rocks the wolves were rolling as they scuttled up the slide to make their getaway. I sprinted as fast as I could back to the right in hopes of getting a glimpse of these predators but I was too late. I don't smoke cigarettes, but I would have loved to light up a wolf...hell I might have smoked the whole pack (sorry for the play on words)
To quote Tom Petty, our Scapegoat hunt was summed up by his lyrics quite nicely. "It was something you could dream of, but never could quite touch." We came damn close to harvesting a magnificent creature but still shared a super wild experience. We were within 100 yards of a pack of timber wolves...for the love of wild places-
Reflections (I wear my bling on the inside)
October 2nd, 2012
Dad snapped this photo of my 2008 backcountry bull just minutes before my accident-
As dad and I left the truck on September 29th 2012 it was the first time in four years we were carrying bows instead of rifles. Since my accident, we have paid tribute to the basin that left me clinging for life for a annual celebration hunt. There is a large fire burning in the scapegoat wilderness right now and all access in prohibited. Four years ago I severely broke my leg in the scapegoat wilderness packing out a back country rifle bull that I had killed. Thanks to a brave search and rescue crew, dedicated helicopter pilots and the man upstairs, not only do I still have my leg, but I'm more of an animal in the mountains than ever. Every year since the accident, dad and I have returned to the site on a hunt a say a prayer where the rugged trail took my footing away and the elk meat on my shoulders came crashing down. I was left on that trail helpless with a horribly broken leg, extreme shock, hypothermia, and not to mention in the middle of grizzly country surrounded by elk meat. At the time, getting eaten by a grizzly didn't sound that bad! To make things worse, my dad had to leave my side to head out of the wilderness for help (I'm sure he looked like speedy Gonzales jumping logs and debris.) I stayed strong to shake off the shock and after hours of distant hallucinations of helicopter whops I was rescued and flown to St. Pats in Missoula. I am truly so lucky and everyone involved was my guardian angel that night!!!
With the scapegoat being closed, we hiked into another area near Avon chasing that bugle that so many of us long for. I will admit I am absolutely beyond obsessed with hunting bugling bulls in the rut! Sometimes I feel like I would be more productive in life if my brain consisted of more than walleyes and bugles As dad and I approached the head of a remote drainage we heard that eerie ground shaking bugle that makes even the most savviest of adrenaline junkies just about piddle themselves. Looking at each other with ear to ear smiles we made a game plan and moved in on the beast. Inching our way down the mountain we spotted all his cows bedded in the timber. I moved in as close as possible without alarming the cows and let a bugle roar. The bull instantly jumped from his bed and started smashing everything in his close proximity. It was so awesome to watch this huge bull uprooting jack pines from the ground while screaming his head off. After a couple more bugles, dad cow calling behind, and waiting close to ten minutes he wasn't going to budge. I quietly removed my boots and started the sock walk to close the gap to get a shot on this magnificent bull. It was too bad I had twenty plus cows to sneak past because the bull was so wrapped up in demolishing anything his horns could find I could have walked in and blew my hoochie mama cow call right in his ear With the bull getting closer with every gentle step and things starting to look good...the forest erupted with elk and the closest thing I got to a shot was a bunch of white butts galloping through the timber. BUSTED by the law...the lead cow plucked me out and decided that she didn't think I was a moving tree like I had anticipated. That poor herd of elk definitely believes in Bigfoot now...they will be telling their story on the next episode of Squatch Hunters.
As I made it back up the hill frustrated as heck and put on my boots, dad made it down the hill to me. "Damn that was close Trev, but what an awesome experience." Dad was right on, no we didn't arrow the huge bull, but we had had an amazing experience together to celebrate four years from the day of my accident. There we were over four miles back into some of Montana's most rugged country...a pretty distant thought four years ago laying in a hospital bed after a huge reconstructive surgery. People often ask me, doesn't your leg hurt when you're out there? Well hell yes it hurts, but I feel so darn lucky to wake up every morning and stand on it that the pain is just reassurance that it is still there. So cheers to titanium leg bones, strong recoveries and all the folks battling what I went through four years ago.
For all serious outdoor enthusiast this is obviously a risk we all take when in the field or on the water. We all hear horror stories of these accidents but think they could never happen to us. I can contest that even the savviest of mountain people can end up in a life threatening situation. Is this a reason to be worried...HELL NO!!! Just good precautionary advice to be as careful as you can and always be prepared for the trail less traveled.
Huckleberry bushes and a fork horn
September 26, 2012
Bow hunting is such a bittersweet sport involving getting whacked in the face by ten million branches for that one chance to make a perfect ethical shot. This past weekend in the Garnet Mountains, I just about sealed the deal on a huge six point bull elk. I must first point out I spotted the giant bull coming down the mountainside to water through a burned area filled with vibrant red huckleberry bushes. I still have the image of this ghost white elk that looked like a vanilla barn door moving through the burning huckleberry bushes towards me. Keeping my composure, I slowly knocked an arrow and pulled my hat brim down. Peering out from under my hat, I could see the bull was in range so I waited for him to duck behind a few burned lodge poles and I drew my bow. I had a head on shot at about 25 yards, but that ethical side of me wouldn't let my finger release the arrow at his chest. As he finally got to a small group of jack pines about 15 yards away, I only needed one more step out of him and I would have a perfect broadside heart shot. Still completely calm, totally focused on the shot I was about to make I heard a big crash and ruckus behind me. Hoping I wasn't about to be breakfast for a grizzly bear, my bull wheeled and ran up the hill out of range. As I turned around with fear (and extremely angry) waiting to see a giant grizzly bear I was mad enough to fist fight; there stood a stupid fork horn mule deer that was bedded in the creek bottom that winded me. As I looked back up the hill at the set of giant set of horns that bull was carrying, I removed my blunt arrow to teach Mr. Fork horn a lesson. I ranged him at 32 yards and gave him a nice welt straight to the rib cage. You can bet that little feller is probably in the Bob Marshall still on the run as I write this.
The point I am trying to make here is that even though I was mad as hell at what happened, it was still an amazing experience with Mother Nature. Even though my arrow didn't harvest the bull, I harvested a lifelong memory of an incredible experience that I will never forget. Rather it's hunting or fishing, if we all sit back and think about it, it is the adventure we all long for...not the harvest. Catching a big walleye or harvesting a bull elk is just a bonus to the adventures we pursue in the woods and on the water. If you knew you were going to catch a ten pound walleye or shoot a big bull every time you go out, the adventure would be gone...so enjoy the adventure and where it takes you.
As always, cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" and what the hell...cheers to "Bugling the dream" while I am at it. Good luck on the water and in the woods and be safe while chasing your adventure.
Bugles, Blue Grouse and a Black Bear
September 17, 2012
Man, what a great weekend to report from the field!!! Dad and I headed out into the woods chasing the daydreams of a big bull. First, I most point out that is it now just past mid-September and the elk are going nuts. The woods were a symphony of bugles until 2 pm both days of the weekend. On Sunday, after chasing what sounded of a monstrous bugling bull over two mountains we finally closed the gap to his comfort zone. Letting out a bugle, he started screaming his head off and charged across the mountain at us. I was set up perfect in a grove of jack pines as he ranted down the trail. As his gleaming black horns started weaving through the timber towards me, I could see he was a small 6 point bull. An amazing bull for this country, but I decided I was going to let him walk. He came in textbook, presenting a broadside shot at twenty seven yards and dad cow called him and he stopped perfect. Let me just say, I now know how strong my will power is!!! What an amazing experience...especially with my dad in the middle of Montana wilderness. Although, I did have to run from dad who was trying to kick me in the nuts for not shooting him
After we both calmed down, we high fived for the awesome experience and headed out after a long weekend. On the way out, we must have stumbled across a blue grouse jamboree as they were everywhere. We managed to shoot five blues to make up for the bull I let walk away. Getting within a mile or so of the truck in a beautiful bottom, I couldn't believe my eyes. There stood a gorgeous little charcoal black bear mowing down grass. We were within forty yards of him and he didn't even care we were there. As I went to knock an arrow, he turned towards us and lay down putting his head between his paws looking at us. I couldn't get my arrow back in the quiver fast enough; it was the cutest damn thing I have ever seen. Talking to him gently, he finally got up and mosied over to the creek and drank for over a minute. This was one of the neatest things I've encountered in some years in the woods. He was a friendly little fellar that really didn't want to get shot. Some things under heaven are just cooler than hell!!!
So cheers to Mother Nature and good luck in the field and on the water!!!
Foxes flirting in a forest fire
September 12, 2012
It is still hotter than two foxes flirting in a forest fire during the day, but the evenings are starting to cool down quite nicely. Last Friday, the master (dad) took a break from chasing elk and spent an afternoon on Hauser pursuing walleyes. If the beautiful afternoon he was granted wasn't spectacular enough, the walleyes cooperated very well. Dad and a few fish heads were pitching Kit's Tackle Glass Minnows in the "Yellow Perch" and "Supercraw" flavors. They were tipping the jigs with half a live night crawler for added scent appeal. The person in the front of the boat was pitching "GULP" on a jig head and the "Glass Minnows" out fished the "Gulp" by 100%. When the guy in the back of the boat is whooping your butt, you know he has the secret weapon...Kit's Glass Minnow Series!!! It wasn't long before the front man changed up his presentation
Dad was fishing around Spokane Creek and up under Canyon Ferry Dam across from the gravel piles. They were targeting the fish very shallow pitching the jigs just inches from shore and working them aggressively back to the boat. Dad said the fish were super aggressive and a blast when they would smack the jig. They had a great afternoon landing over 20 walleyes and a couple nice fish over 19 inches. All fish were released except for a couple 17" for the skillet (I actually just had them for supper tonight...DELICIOUS!!!). Just to throw it out there...fried walleye, brown sugar squash and stuffing make a heck of a satisfying meal in my tackle box. In fact, my gut feels like I swallowed a state record walleye whole...backwards!!! Please tell me I am not the only one who gorges themselves at a fish fry? I always eat so much that I can't move a muscle, then I have a couple more fillets because they are so freakin' delicious!!!
If you would like to have a fun filled afternoon catching walleyes on jigs, Hauser is a great recommendation from Kit's Tackle for this time of year in the Helena area. It is more of a numbers game right now, but hey, catching fish is fun!!! Plus on Hauser you have great shot at a HUGE brown trout all duded up in their fall spawning colors. In my opinion, Hauser has the state's largest browns swimming in its waters...not to mention big rainbows and walleye. Like I stated before, the best place to target your presentation for the trout and walleye is in 2-8 feet of water. Create a buffer zone between your boat and the shore so you don't spook the weary fish. Don't be afraid to jig aggressively popping the jig back to the boat (make sure the jig hits the bottom between every "pop") and set the hook at any resistance. Dad said most of the walleye were hitting like trout, but the larger fish they caught were sluggish.
Good Luck "Jiggin' the Dream"
Rubber Boa's and Wind Surfers
September 5, 2012
I am sitting on the couch after a long day of painting jigs with my girls (my pups Pika and Dixie) pondering how I should start this week's post. When I asked my wife, she said I should make a joke about how "if I get to go hunting every weekend, then I should have to pay to have cable hooked up for her." Of course no matter how good a woman we lucky guys find, there are always details in the fine print. Although now that football season has started, I suppose I might let her get cable I surely wouldn't want her to suffer to badly while I'm out ripping up the woods.
Speaking of the woods, I came so darn close to a monster 320" class bull this past weekend with my bow! I was hunting near Ovando and the elk were already bugling like an orchestra. Talk about an incredible experience having a bugling giant running down a hillside at me. I needed about 4 or 5 more seconds and I would have had a shot. When he got to about 80 yards the wind switched and he came to an abrupt stop...away he went. Have I mentioned before how much I HATE the dang wind? In fact, I even curl my lip at wind surfers just because they are the only people in this world who pray for wind. As I drove by Holter Lake to head into the Beartooth WMA (wildlife management area) I noticed how much trouble the wind was giving the fishermen as well. I tipped my hat to them as we drove by for battling out the whitecaps brought by the same evil force as what soured my bull that morning...the damn wind!!!
My hunting partner and I headed into the Beartooth WMA not knowing it was a 6 or 7 mile hike before we would even see elk sign. Talk about a butt kicker in 90 degree heat but we trudged on to find the mighty wapiti. After jumping a small black bear, multiple nice whitetail bucks, and finding a rare and beautiful Rubber Boa (Charina Bottae...derived from the Greek "Graceful") we finally found an elk turd. I must admit I have never been so excited to see a pile of elk crap in my whole life...I even picked up a pellet and took a big ol' whiff of that familiar smell...DELICIOUS!!! Getting back to the Rubber Boa, they are a very neat creature that I have been lucky enough to encounter a couple of times in my life. Most folks (including my hunting partner) do not know that boa constrictors inhabit the wilds of Montana. Rubber Boas are very docile and gentle snakes that are ideal for handling for children or anyone that has a fear of snakes. They absolutely will not strike in any instance...if handled to rough they will emit a very unpleasant paste from their vent (all snakes do this.) **Check out the attached photo to see the rubber boa I found over the weekend**
I'm sure you're all wondering why I'm highlighting a snake and not a big bull elk with an arrow through him. Well, if you're like me you have to find magic in all of Mother Nature's offerings until that perfect moment comes together. Anyone that bow hunts must understand that is has to be perfect for the puzzle pieces to fit. Until the pieces come together, I like to admire all the outdoor puzzle has to offer. For me, finding this Rubber Boa on my adventure into the Beartooth WMA was a real wild experience. The closest I came to elk was the poop pellet I picked up that burned the inside of my nose with that musky aroma. But the adventure was still wild...and fun!!! After making it back to the trailhead a couple hours past dark, we headed back around the lake with sore feet a kicked butts. Talk about a bittersweet feeling watching a boat with two anglers in head lamps casting the shorelines for walleye. It is at these moments I know how passionate I am about the outdoors. If I'm hunting I'm dreaming about fishing and if I'm fishing I'm dreaming of the hunt...it's the good lifeJ
And for the love of god...pray for pale windless mornings in the mountains and on the water! Wishing everyone the best of luck for the continuum of bow season and for those on the water...I salute you!!!
Here are a few tips for calling in BIG bulls:
1.) BUGLE, BUGLE, BUGLE!!! This junk about big bulls not coming into a bugle in horse pucky!!! I have a very hard time getting rag horns and small rack bulls to bugles but if it's Mr. 300+ you are looking for let the horn rip!!! We have killed a couple huge bulls and have had dozens into close range with this tactic. Big bulls want to kick butt when a competitor walks on their turf. ALWAYS USE A WHIMPY SOUNDING BUGLE (remember no matter how big the bull is there was a time he got whooped...let him think he's going to kick a%# and he will come in without hesitation.)
2.) I personally do not believe in scent control sprays or washes but be careful of where your hunting cloths go. If you're lucky enough to have a wife that has supper on the stove when you get home from a long day in the field...leave your camo in the truck or outside. I promise the elk will not think the goulash on the stove smells as good as you did.
3.) For cow calling, I would bet my jigging arm you have a Primos Hoochie Mama cow call. I will admit I do to and it works great...sometimes!!! There are thousands of hunters in the woods pushing this call every weekend. Elk are not stupid...they learn these noises and associate them with danger. I highly recommend learning a mouth reed call or carrying a few different calls to differentiate yourself in the woods. This is only going to make you more presentable and realistic to a big bull.
4.) Cold calling can be very effective in the early part of bow season. I can't tell you how many times I have let out a bugle and with no response packed it up and moved on. Then about 50 yards down the trail I get busted by a giant 6 point bull tiptoeing in to take a peek at his competition. If there is fresh elk sign or you feel elk are present call for at least 15 minutes. I usually like to bugle once to get a bulls attention then do a few sequences of cow talking. Remember, when bulls come in silent it's like they are walking in on a nice fluffy cloud. They will be dead silent. Patience is a huge virtue here!!!
5.) Be ethical with your bow...don't shoot unless it's a good shot. Unless you have no heart it will eat you alive if you fling an arrow and never retrieve the bull. Five years ago I shot a gorgeous 6 point bull at 28 yards and it was a perfect shot. After three days covering ground we never found my bull...it haunts me every day, but the glue holding me together is the fact I made a true ethical shot.
BE SAFE and Good Luck rather you're in the woods or on the water. And remember to take in all our prodigious Mother Nature has to offer until the fish takes the hook or the arrow gets knocked!!!
Fall Cast N' Blast and Lifelong impressions
August 28, 2012
I can still remember early September trips to Fort Peck for the annual cast n' blast trips when I was a child. Even at a young age, the hardest decision we had to make was to head to the field or get out on the water. We would usually fish the early mornings until about noon and then trailer the boat (I always had a shotgun up front in the truck just in case a wily flock of sharp tails would pop out of the stubble on the way to the ramp). In the case that the fishing was great, we would sometimes fish all day and do a quick evening hunt. Fall fishing on Fort Peck is the days of trolling Chinook Salmon and jigging for exploding smallmouths. The fall is such a great time to cast a line because the weather is cooler (keeping my fingers crossed) and the fish are usually starting to get active. When the water temps start to drop, fish sense that the winter months are fast approaching and they better start gorging to store fat for the lethargic months ahead. I had the same thoughts watching the smallmouth bass fillets fry hot alongside the breasts of a couple fresh sharp tailed grouse for supper. A fresh grouse and fish fry campfire dinner is as good as it gets. If you have never had ruffed grouse and brook trout fried hot around a campfire it is a must do on the bucket list. There is something so wild and rewarding about cooking a meal fresh from the field that you harvested yourself, but even I bring freeze dried dinners for the days I starve on humble pie.
If the hot weather keeps haunting us, it can work to your advantage to hunt the early mornings and fish in the heat of the day. In fact, when bow hunting around Lincoln, I like to hunt the mornings and then fish the Big Blackfoot mid-day for Cutthroat and Brown Trout. When I'm hunting around Seely Lake I like to fish out of my float-tube at Clearwater Lake for HUGE Cutthroat and Brook Trout. Usually the heat of the day yields the best fishing in the fall. After chasing elk all morning or following my lab and setter through the woods flushing Ruffed and Blue Grouse, it feels very therapeutic to soak my bones in refreshing fish filled cold water. I must warn you though, when the fishing is good (which is always is) it's sometimes hard to get the afternoon hunt in when you're having so much fun. I have to tell you, I feel like the luckiest man alive to be able to hunt the high mountain ridges at dawn and be slaying stream residing trout by the afternoon. We Montanans are very lucky to live under such a big sky filled with endless adventures. For folks like me that love to hunt, but always have a twitching jigging arm, a cast and blast kickoff for Labor Day weekend is a great way to welcome the fall. Wherever your weekend adventure takes you, I hope it's filled with fish and game. Remember to be safe, have fun and as always, cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream."
Here are a few tips for fishing and hunting Labor Day weekend:
1.) If you're fishing rivers or streams, its peak hopper season!!! For kids, this is dynamite!!! Also, look for the marabou jig fishing to go bonkers!!!
2.) If you're fishing lakes...think BIG baits. Fish are looking to exert energy on forage worth their while for packing on the pounds for the coming winter months.
3.) With the hot weather, handle the fish gently and return them to the water as fast as possible. Fish you plan to release should be unhooked in the water...if its photo quality be speedyJ The hot weather is very hard on the fish.
4.) Switching gears to upland birds, look for the prairie crew (sharp tails and hungarian partridge) near water and the mountain grouse on the edges of big parks. The hot summer along with little moisture has brought very little grass to the timbered area's making the hoppers flood the parks. Also, with it being a poor berry year the mountain grouse will be relying heavily on big fat grasshoppers!!! So prairie birds where there is adjacent water and mountain birds in or on the edges of the parks.
5.) Elk and deer...Water=Success!!!
Here is a picture of a giant Kokanee Salmon I intercepted on his migration up under Canyon Ferry Dam near Helena, Montana. Circa 2006
August 21, 2012
Well, if you're like me you have been shooting your bow a lot dreaming of screaming bulls in the enchanted September woods. Actually this year, I have had such a magical time on the water I am having trouble switching gears towards bow season. One of these years I'm going to muster up the will power to fish all fall. Although I love my adventures in the forest chasing big bulls, when I release an arrow it is so final. When I bust a big brown trout I can place my hands on the specimen and then watch it swim free. I came to his territory and beat him and he has to live with it forever since I set him free. I have to admit it is the biggest rush a fish head like me can have! The fall is such an excellent time to be on the water for so many reasons especially the fact it is some of the year's best fishing! Some of the other highlights of fall fishing are:
- The colors are changing and it is a beautiful time of the year to be on the water.
- Most people are hunting and recreationists have slowed way down so you will see very few people (this means no wait at the ramps and less pressure on the fish.)
- The water temps have dropped making the fish more active and they are starting to gorge for the winter months. This reminds me of watching cartoons when I was little and the squirrels would be gathering nuts and stashing them away for the long winter months. Well, our underwater friends are doing the same thing, but they are storing the nuts in their stomachs.
- Montana's species that spawn in the fall (Brown Trout, Bull Trout, and Brook Trout) become more congregated and you have a much better chance at catching one of these gorgeous species. Not to mention they will be all duded up in their full spawning colors.
I would like to highlight the fall spawning crew for they are such a unique species and the handsomest of fish. They hold a mysterious aura in my heart and these species are highly piscivorous (meaning they feed habitually or mainly on fish.) Put in simple words, they are the "Grizzly Bear" of the river (the biggest baddest killing machines that take perch on the top of the food chain.) Rather they are fluvial (resident river fish) or adfluvial (meaning they are lake fish that migrate up rivers or streams to spawn) they will all make a strong migration to their spawning grounds. This is where the good ol' joke comes into play, "What did the spawning brown trout say when he hit a cement wall...DAM." The fall spawning crew will generally travel as far as possible to get to their spawning grounds which are usually under dams for adfluvial fish and impassable falls or headwaters for fluvial fish. This gives you, the angler, a much better chance at catching one of these impressive fish. For example, on my home body of water (Hauser lake) brown trout are spread throughout the entire reservoir during the summer months making them hard to target. By late August (right now) almost every brown trout in the entire reservoir has migrated (or is migrating) up under Canyon Ferry Dam making them much more concentrated and available to anglers. Another example would be the South Fork of the Flathead River in western Montana. The South Fork has a good population of fluvial bull trout, but all the adfluvial bulls out of Hungry Horse reservoir migrate upriver to spawn during the fall also. Basically, what I'm trying to say is the fall is probably the best time of year to be "Jiggin' the Dream" on Montana's wild rivers.
Here are a few tips for targeting the fall spawning crew.
-Use big and bright baits to irritate the fish and to induce a strike. Remember, fish are gorging for the winter months...they want a prime rib not a chicken strip if you know what I mean;)
-Do your homework on the body of water you intent to pursue. See if there are any radio telemetry studies available on the species you're targeting. Ask around and visit with the locals or with the biologist representing the body of water. The more information you have the more successful your trip will be.
-Always handle spawning fish gently (hands out of the gills and quick photos just above the water) and ALWAYS practice catch and release. Always!!!
-Make sure you know all the regulations for the area you are fishing.
-Make sure you have a good selection of Kit's jigs on board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And since I won't sleep tonight if I don't say it, take a kid fishing for darned sakes!!! And as always, cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream"'
A magnificent Brook Trout in his Fall Tuxedo-
August 14, 2012
I would like to dedicate this week's post to...well, us! I would like to share a little about Kit's Tackle and how it originated and where it has come. The first thing I should say is that we would have never come this far without your support and belief in us and our products!!! It has been an absolute dream come true to follow my father's passion and keep the rods swinging. He instilled his insane passion of the outdoors into me at a very young age (I'm talking 2 or 3 years old I was getting shoved under the console of the boat trolling for giant lake trout on Flathead Lake in the middle of frigid January). Looking back I don't think I ever really had a chance to say, "Dad, I would like to go to the water park today instead of sitting in the boat on Holter Lake for 12 hours in 104 degree heat fishing for walleye." Regardless of how you look at it, he created an absolute monster of a fishing fanatic. My burning enthusiasm and drive for the love of fishing and the outdoors is as solid as it gets. If I'm not on the water or in the woods physically, you can be sure that I am pitching jigs into a gorgeous rock pile mentally. With this being said, I take the same attitude towards Kit's Tackle (where I can be an outdoor maniac...indoors).
Since I graduated from the University of Montana with a business degree (or a master's degree in Jigging the Big Blackfoot and Clarkfork Rivers), I have gone wild taking the business to the next level. We have been very cautious in our growth model, focusing on incremental rather than exponential, so our bobber stays afloat. This has allowed us to create the best products on the market and listen to what our customers want, so we can focus all are efforts on the angler and the future of fishing. Kit's Tackle is now in over twenty retail outlets in the northwest and the website is starting to get a lot of traction. Being a small company, we have very little funding for advertising so word of mouth has been our saving grace. With such a unique and quality product line that out fishes almost anything, word of mouth travels very fast. Not to mention, Kit's Tackle is run by a father and son team and kept as local as possible, giving back to our community as much as we can. Although days at the paint booth can get very long, hearing testimonials from you makes it all worth it. With less time on the water now, I rely heavily on feedback and other people's experiences and stories. This is what keeps it all rolling along and keeps me "Jiggin' the Dream"
Here is an awesome article that Peggy O'Neill of the Helena Independent Record wrote featuring Kit's Tackle over the weekend that tells the rest of the father and son story of "Jiggin' the Dream."
Kit Johnson sits at his fly-tying table in the basement of his house on Eighth Avenue. He is surrounded by brightly colored marabou and thread. If he has a mind to, he can tie 80 jigs in an hour and 200 in a single sitting.
"I have two passions," the 58-year-old said, "being in the outdoors and tying flies."
He taught himself how to tie when he was 12 years old by taking apart Dan Bailey flies. After four decades, that's a lot of flies and a lot of time spent staring at feathers.
"It's a daydream time," Kit said. "It's almost like being on the water."
While he's sitting at his vise, his mind wanders back through thousands of fishing memories. He remembers everything about his first fish.
"I could walk to the exact spot on Snowshoe Creek. I remember the rod. It was a brown trout. I was 5 years old," he said.
Kit also remembers his son, Trevor Johnson, catching his first fish.
"It was on Canyon Ferry. Trevor was 3 years old. It was a big old rainbow," Kit says.
Kit talks proudly of the time when Trevor was 6 and pulled in a 16-pound lake trout on Fort Peck.
Trevor listens to his dad's story.
"That's where it all started," Trevor says.
The two became constant fishing and hunting buddies, Trevor inheriting his father's same passions.
"Everywhere I went, I took Trevor," Kit said.
Trevor, now 30, lives with pain in his right leg. Four years ago, he suffered a compound fracture while hauling out 100 pounds of elk meat from six miles deep into the Scapegoat Wilderness. He and Kit had drawn a backcountry rifle permit that year, and while the hunt was successful, the return hike left Trevor clinging to life on the side of a mountain. He survived, but not without a change of perspective.
"Having the accident, brought up a new light," Trevor says. "The outdoors is what truly makes my heart happy, so I could never give that up. But I decided to take that burning passion and put it into the business."
The business, which was once Kit's hobby, is making custom jigs. It's called Kit's Tackle. In the early 1970s, Kit started tying his own jigs and having tremendous success on the water with them. Other anglers noticed and would ask him, "What are you using?" He told them.
"Lots of fishermen are tight-lipped," Kit says. "I like to share."
He started making more jigs and selling them at Capitol Sports and Western in Helena. As demand increased, Kit's production increased. Demand continued and broadened, and Kit tied even more in his spare time - he has worked full time for 34 years for Mergenthaler.
Kit tears up a bit when he talks about Trevor joining the jig business.
"When he was in his teens, I would think, 'If I went away, it would all be gone,' " Kit says. "He got interested in his 20s. It was extremely rewarding to me that he picked it up."
The business is still in Kit's basement. One part of the room is for casting and painting, another part is for tying, still another is for building custom rods.
Kit's Tackle has become Trevor's full-time job (Kit still works for Mergenthaler). Trevor even changed his major at the University of Montana from wildlife biology to business.
"I realized that while I really love being in the outdoors, I do not care what's inside of a fish," Trevor said. "Plus I had a really hard time with cellular and molecular biology."
Trevor said he developed strong relationships with some of his business school professors who encouraged him to pursue the tackle dream. One of the business classes dedicated an entire semester to building a website for Kit's Tackle.
Kit's Tackle produces about 30,000 jigs a year. While Kit is the master tier, Trevor is the master painter.
The process starts with a bare hook, or actually several bare hooks. He casts a mold around the hooks - the equipment he has allows him to cast between 300 and 500 jigs per hour. Once the cast is dry, he cleans them up - sanding them smooth. Then the jig is sprayed with several layers - sometimes up to 15 coats - of paint. Then Trevor uses an air brush and an air gun to put on the eyes and stripes.
Epoxy is then applied and the jig is left to cure for 24 hours. That's when Kit gets to do his favorite part - adding the marabou and flashing.
"Every single product that goes into these jigs is American made," Trevor said, "except for a few of the hooks, which are made in Japan, but they are the best."
That's what makes the jigs different, in the Johnsons' opinions. And that's what makes them a little pricier than some - they average about $2.50 per jig.
"Our product line is well researched and well made," Kit says. "They're not the cheapest, but they're the best. They're for a certain demographic - they give you the confidence of having the best tackle."
Even though father and son have turned their passion into a profitable business, it hasn't taken the fun out of it.
"It's a Catch-22," Kit says. "It takes a lot of your free time away, but down the line, we'll get that time back."
In June, Kit and Trevor won the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival using their very own product - a glass minnow yellow perch.
"To make something with your own hands and take it to the water to catch fish - it's very rewarding," Kit said.
Glass minnows are Kit's Tackle's most popular product. And word-of-mouth is spreading regionally, if not nationally. Demand has forced the Johnsons to outsource some of the work from Kit's basement - several Helena-area stay-at-home moms are earning extra income by tying jigs.
The Johnsons believe their business will continue to grow, eventually becoming a large presence in the fishing industry world. But for now, they are thriving on fishing stories - those they hear from their customers and those they experience together.
Trevor's favorite story happened just a few years ago when he and Kit were fishing on the Columbia River in Oregon.
"It was a beautiful 70-degree day," Trevor said. "A guy came by and the words 'Livin' the Dream' were painted on the side of his boat.
"Right after that, I caught the biggest walleye of my life. And I turned to my dad and I said, 'You know, we're out here jiggin' the dream.'"
Photo taken by Eliza Wiley of the Independent Record
for the love of wild places
August 6th, 2012
This past Sunday my father and I had a beautiful and unreal day of fishing on the Blackfoot and its tributaries…no Bull about itJ While spending a beautiful morning together catching cutthroat, the last thing we expected was a giant 31-32” 12lb+ Bull Trout to engulf my Kit’s Tackle Marabou jig. I will add that this was an incidental catch of a species of concern while fishing for cutts so we were able to lift the fish for a few quick photos and then quickly return the majestic creature to his home. A Bull Trout of this size is an ancient fish that is probably 20-25 years old, so reviving him and watching him return to the depths was so awesome! I have to admit, a fish of this magnitude and beauty, while sharing the experience with my father, is definitely in the top three experiences I have ever encountered in my life.
So here’s the story…
Once again, just being in the mountains of Montana (not to mention holding a fishing pole) is a humbling experience in itself. Then, throw in the fact I was with my dad who is my partner and best friend in any outdoor adventure, and its memories of magic and a true wild experience. Anytime you can introduce a kid or someone new to the outdoors and fishing you could change their life…or create a monster like dad did to me!!! I dream all day and night of fish like the giant Bull that fell for my jig on Sunday in that giant pool of rapids.
After catching a half dozen or so beautiful cutthroat trout we could see an enormous hole coming up on the river with falls pouring into it creating a turbulent back eddy. As my excitement grew (as it always does approaching a good looking hole) I looked to dad and said, “If there is a big fish anywhere in this river it’s in that ocean of a fishing hole.” My dad sent me in and as I got ready to cast, I was envisioning a 20+ cutthroat trout and I could barely contain myself. I made a perfect cast into the whitewater at the bottom of the falls. I jigged one time and POW, like I had snagged a Boeing 737 jumbo jet flying down river. My drag screamed like my wife watching a scary part in a horror movie and I took off running after the giant. About the time we figured I must have snagged a beaver, the torpedo shaped beast came out of the water like a porpoise whale and I almost fainted. I yelled, “Giant Bull Trout Dad!!!!” as I scrambled down the banks of the river fighting the fish. When things were already at high nerve my feet came out from under me and I landed on my shoulder and was half knocked out lying in the river. Coming to, I still had my rod in hand and the drag was still ripping and dad was yelling, “Get your butt up!!!”
After about another quarter mile of river and the most epic battle I have ever had on rod and reel, I placed my hands on the true “Dream” in our slogan “Jiggin’ the Dream.” As I looked at this magnificent creature that looked as if it was painted by nothing else than a few swoops of gods paintbrush I realized how truly blessed I am. Not only was this one of the most magical and wild experiences of my life, it was with my father whom has instilled this burning passion of the outdoors into me. So cheers to Giant Bull Trout, sharing memories, the love of wild places and of course…”Jiggin’ the Dream.”
We caught all of our fish on the Kit’s Tackle Pro Series Marabou jigs. Black and Brown/Orange were the most productive flavors on our adventure.
A wedding and a weed line
July 31, 2012
Well, I must say I have caught a lot of big fish and very beautiful fish in my time. This past Saturday night I caught the “Big Fish” of my life. I was married to the most beautiful and amazing women this world has to offer…and she lets me fish like a wild man!!! So in preparation for our big day I was not able to hit the water the week prior. But I still had my radar turned to full strength waiting for the reports to come in.
The best reports I was getting from the local Helena area lakes (Canyon Ferry, Holter, Hauser) was pitching the weed lines in the back of bays. My pro staff member, Jim Muscat, landed a very nice walleye in the back of a bay on Canyon Ferry last week. I love this time of year because the walleye forage heavily on the weed lines ambushing prey that makes the fatal mistake of exploring out of cover.
To define clearly, to me a weed line is where the weeds stop and the open water begins. It is almost like your fishing against a giant underwater hedge. When fishing shallow, weed lines are very easy to see with the naked eye. If fishing a deeper weed line you will have to rely on your electronics to find the edge. For me, this can be the most fun and productive late summer method of walleye (and perch) fishing.
Tips for fishing weed lines:
1.) Targeting fish along the weed lines is usually best when the water temp reaches 70 degrees or more (this usually occurs right around the beginning of August.)
2.) We like to cast LIGHT jigs with LEECHES over the weed line and fish them back over the edge letting the the jig fall deep right on the line where the weeds hit the open water. This is where 90% of strikes will occur because the predator fish are waiting to ambush prey that sneaks out of the weeds. We stress very heavily on light jigs so you get a slow fall inducing more bites by being in the strike zone longer. And leeches because they are the main forage for the late summer weed line bite (just matching the hatch.)
3.) SLIP BOBBERS with a 1/8 ounce Kit’s Tackle Glass Minnow in the Fire Tiger color with a LIVE leech is about the deadliest presentation I can recommend. The action the live leech imparts on the jig and the undulation of the Glass Minnow makes this a gold metal combo. We recommend a live leech over artificial to give the presentation its action. Depending on the depth, I usually like to place the jig and leech about 8-10 feet below the slip bobber. Remember, you want to place your bobber right along the edge of the weed line.
4.) Even with the blazing heat, this presentation can be very effective all day long…even at high noon.
5.) And for any crankin’ fiends out there, running a planer board up against the weed line can produce huge. My favorite crank bait of choice for this application in the Rapala shad rap or Berkly flicker shad in bright colors (ie. Fire Tiger.)
Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" and hoping yourseason has been awesome!!!
Here is a picture of my "Big Fish" and I:)
July 22, 2012
Well, as the title hints, I am getting married this upcoming weekend to the best catch of my life; the one that didn’t get away! She is the one that lets me live the life I do and run wild in the mountains and on the water.
My best man and I headed up the North Fork of the Blackfoot River for some incredible action on Kit’s Tackle marabou jigs(and a few brews.) Looking past the fact we didn’t make it out of the tent until mid-morning, the fishing was a blast…minus the headache But hey, it was a bachelor party right? We started at the North Fork Trailhead and hiked upriver fishing our way through a gorgeous couple mile stretch. Just a friendly reminder, there is no trail on the river and navigation is pretty brutal. The crystal clear water filled with Cutthroat and GIANT Bull Trout is well worth the mild mountaineering undertaking. Please keep in mind, it illegal to fish for the Bull Trout here, but it sure is neat to see these giant creatures in the river. I actually had a monster Bull take my jig and run upriver and before I knew what was happening I had been “taken to the cleaners.”
We were targeting the Cutthroat Trout with Kit’s Tackle’s 1/8 ounce Pro Series “Black” and “White Perch” marabou jigs. We were using ultra-light rods with 4 pound mono line for a finesse application. We out fished the fly fisherman 20 to 1 on jigs and I had fun sharing a few 1/16 ounce jigs with the fly fisherman. Let’s just say after a few casts they were very grateful for the Kit’s Jigs! Even with the HOT weather, the elevation is high enough that the hoppers were nonexistent. By August, I would imagine it would be pretty beneficial and FUN to have a 3 or 4 weight fly rod and a box of well tied hoppers for this adventure. The other thing we did notice was the overall size difference of the fish caught on jigs and small flies. The fish that we caught on jigs were much larger on average than the fly fisherman were catching…food for thought.
So if you’re up for a fun adventure and a breathtaking beautiful place I would highly recommend a trip to the North Fork of the Blackfoot River this summer. Remember to bring your bear spray…we saw Griz tracks all along the river! Cheers to “Jiggin’ the Dream”
Here is a picture of a 21” Cutthroat that took my “Black” marabou jig soon finding it wasn’t the delicious sculpin he imagined it was! Poor feller probably won’t ever eat another sculpin
July 18th 2012
It is so incredibly hot right now I could fry walleye fillets on my sidewalk…and most places across the nation from the looks of it. After checking the extended forecast this morning it looks as if there are many 100 degree days to come here is Montana. Make sure to have plenty of liquids (water) and sunscreen in the boat to keep it safe. This extreme heat makes for some pretty tough and miserable days on the water in my opinion. With this being said, there is a cooler approach to fishing in the mid-summer heat.
With the water surface temperatures just about to hit the 70 degree mark on our local reservoirs we turn to the night bite. In our experience, when the heat turns on the daytime fishing slowly turns off. On bodies of water that don’t have a pelagic baitfish (ie. cisco) the daytime bite can get really tough. On our local reservoirs it is an active crayfish bite. We believe the fish lay adjacent to the feeding grounds and move up to feed heavily from dusk to dawn. This is when we do the majority of our lake fishing this time of year. We like to start a couple hours before dark and fish well into the night if possible.
Night fishing tips:
1.) When pitching jigs at night we recommend bumping up a touch in size to have better feel in the dark. We also recommend beefing up the jigs profile for visual attraction at night.
2.) We really like Rapala “Shap Raps” for casting at night. They have the perfect diving depth for casting to shore and a heavy vibration to attract fish. We like to impart a “stop and go” action on cranks at night to trigger fish to bite.
3.) Rely on the full moon whenever possible to aid navigation and to ease fishing in the dark. When fishing the dark of the moon we recommend a heavy power head lamp to see where you’re casting and a spot light aboard for navigational safety.
4.) Always use extreme caution navigating at night and always take it slow! Always go with somebody if possible…night fishing gives me the hebee jeebies:)
5.) We also recommend trolling the shallows with (Double Jointed Rapala’s) or (Bomber Long A’s) with a 3/8 ounce keel sinker about 36” up line from the plug. Letting out about 80-100 feet of line will get you down 8-10 feet which is perfect for the night bite. This presentation will also allow you to pull fish from up to 15 feet of water.
6.) If you find active fish, a lighted slip bobber can bring incredible excitement to the boat. A kit’s Tackle 1/8 ounce Glass Minnow rigged with a leech might be the deadliest combo I have ever seen for active fish!
7.) Last of all, please check your local waters regulations on legal fishing times. Have fun, be safe and get “Jiggy in the dark.”
June 28th, 2012
First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to all the amazing anglers and volunteers that make the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival possible. We feel so incredibly lucky to fish and compete amongst such a crowd of incredible and stand up anglers. So kudos to you all from Kit’s Tackle!!!
I have grown up tagging along with dad pursuing rainbows and browns on Canyon Ferry since I was two years old. We have spent countless hours casting out every nook and cranny of the lake, it has become second nature. With the trout being a blast, I used to joke with dad that this would be a perfect shoreline if walleyes were present. Little did I know, it wouldn’t be long before they showed up in Canyon Ferry. I will never forget watching my first walleye come to the boat in the crystal clear water on the north end of the lake. Since then, I have watched hundreds of great fish rise from the clear water to find our net. There is only one thing better than watching a big Canyon Ferry walleye rise from the clear water…watching them swim back into itJ
A week before the tournament, dad and I headed out in pursuit of the elusive “Canyon Ferry Yellow Mountain Trout.” With last year being a very tough year and little reports of quality fish and low net counts, we were skeptical. In forty plus hours of pre-fishing the 2011 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival, my largest fish measured in at a whopping 17.25 inches. Starting to cover water down by the dam, dad pitched in with the Kit’s Tackle Yellow Perch “GLASS MINNOW” and thump…27 incher!!! What a way to start and such a great fish!!! By days end, we had two more fish over 25 inches and I was so excited all I could see was yellow!!! Hoping this wasn’t a fluke, we were right back at it the next morning and dad put a 30 inch fish in the boat right off the bat (the high fives were flying) and we ended the day with a huge weight of walleye. Most anglers would be excited because of the big fish or finding them pre-tournament, but all I cared about is that the big fish STILL EXISTED in my home water!!! I love fish of all species in a way that is hard to explain, but nothing gets my jiggin’ arm twitching like big walleyes (it’s what keeps me up at night).
Still flabbergasted at the great fish we had caught, we needed to spend a few more days on the water “Jiggin’ the Dream” before game day. My good friend, Jeff Ingram, and I made it out Thursday morning for daylight to dark work day on the water. We didn’t as much as put down the trolling motor and on my second pitch in…BAM!!! My rod loaded up like a snag from hell…I looked at my rod, I looked at Jeff, I looked at my rod, I looked at Jeff and then the head shake!!! “GET THE NET,” I yelled knowing this was a big fish. Moments later, we watched as one of the longest walleye on my life rose up from the depths. In fact, Jeff’s exact words were “Holy Sh*^ Trevor, that’s a HUGE walleye.” Although it would barely fit in the net, Jeff did a great job getting her in the boat for a photo and release video. Wondering how we could be any more excited we went on to pull over 40 lbs of weight during tournament hours. Talk about a couple giddy fisherman!!!
Dad and I decided to take Friday off and give the fish a break before the big day. We worked up a game plan and decided to stick to it. When the alarm clock went off at 4:00 am on Saturday morning, I had monarch butterflies bouncing around my stomach. After launching the boat and waiting in suspense for the gun to go off, it was time to do what we do best…pull cranks (just kidding). On about the fifth cast of the morning, I banged a healthy 22 incher to get our confidence going. From then on, with the good lord’s help, we managed to catch all five fish including three upgrades. Our smallest of the five fish for Saturday was just shy of twenty inches which is an incredible bag of good fish for Canyon Ferry. Our biggest was a gorgeous north end beauty dad caught pitching the west shore around Painters Point. Happy with the great day of fun together we had, it didn’t cross our minds we would be sitting in second place overall.
I only slept for about an hour Saturday night with my nerves acting like a freshly hooked crawler squirming all over. And I thought I had butterflies on Saturday morning…in fact my stomach was so upset on Sunday that I almost had to use the live well as an outhouse waiting for takeoff. That would have been an embarrassing moment!!! We were the first boat north and with every cast I was waiting in anticipation for that magic feeling. All of a sudden, with only two fish less than 14” in the boat it was 11:30 am and we had to be back by 2:00 pm weigh in. With minor frustrations starting to build we kept our cool and fished our hearts out. We had the Yellow Perch “GLASS MINNOWS” singing through the air in a maniac rhythm. With thoughts of pulling the big ZERO we kept our spirits up and fished for HERO!!! We found a shore with the wind crashing into it and began our rhythm. In one pass we had two fish at 23 inches which felt great!!! I looked over at dad and told him how awesome this was to do together and we both teared up. I told him if I could ask God for one thing it would be a 29” walleye to end the day (why I said 29” I don’t know…didn’t want to get too greedy.) With only about an hour to spare I cast into a pod of carp close to shore and began to jig. On the third “pop” of the jig I bumped a fish and set the hook…nothing there. I told dad, “I pulled my jig into a damn carp but it sure felt like a walleye.” As I was just about to reel in my cast…POW!!! And I mean POW!!! Like no walleye I have ever caught…my drag squealed as the fish bolted up the shore. As dad grabbed for the net, I said, “don’t bother, it’s the same friggin’ carpholio!!!” Next thing I knew the fish was vertical to the boat and not coming up and I yelled “net dad, just in case, it’s acting like a huge walleye.” Never in my lifetime will I ever forget the feeling of seeing that white tail flash come up from the depths and the sounds of my dad’s excitement. God had granted me my 29 inch walleye to finish off the 2012 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival.
After hugging and celebrating and screaming and jumping around we started getting the boat ready to head back. We had forty five minutes to get back, but the wind started to pick up and we didn’t want to take a chance with the weight we had in the live well. We made it back with fifteen minutes to spare which was a smart move on our part and weighed our fish (saving the 29.5” for last of course.) We kept it very consistent both days and weighed in over 21 lbs the first day and just under 20 lbs on day two to put our total weight over 40 lbs. As the bite toughened up tremendously on day two we waited in anticipation for Dan Spence and Tianna Workman to return with their weight (Spence is an incredible fisherman I must add.) When they finally made it to weigh, I could barely watch as he pulled fish from his live well. I knew it would only take one big fish for Dan to pass our weight having five fish in his well. As he went for the last fish I held my breath and it was a nice fish but not enough…I looked over at dad and instantly teared up!!! The father and son team of Kit’s Tackle had just won the 2012 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival. I have spent countless nights dreaming of this top honor and to be able to do it with my dad is the true hook set. I will have this memory forever and nobody can ever take that away.
So cheers to my father for making me who I am and to the spiny yellow critters that I love so much!!! And of course, “Jiggin’ the Dream.”
A north end beauty from prefishing
A north end prehistoric beast from prefishing
The jig that brought home the bacon!!! Yellow Perch "Glass Minnow"
Elusive Canyon Ferry Yellow Mountain Trout
June 18, 2012
Well we had a couple fantastic days jigging on Canyon Ferry over the weekend pre fishing for the upcoming Canyon Ferry tournament. We had five fish over 25 inches including a 29 and 30 incher!!! Despite the fact we caught some big fish, there was no rhyme or reason to finding them. We covered every inch of shoreline from the dam to the mouth of the river on the south end catching a fish every millionth cast:) If muskie fisherman think they have it tough they should come pitch jigs on Canyon Ferry for a few days!This is why it is so easy to pull double zero's in this tournament but the pre fishing sure has been fun:)
The Glass Minnows are on fire for us to target the larger fish!!! We are tipping them with a 3" Berky Gulp Minnow and jigging them pretty slow. Every fish we have caught has been hooked inside the mouth which shows us they are devouring the Glass Minnows. I know what I will be using during the tournament:) I have also had some great reports on the Glass Minnows on the south end catching good numbers of eater sized fish.
Here is a pic from our Canyon Ferry weekend.
June 15, 2012
The annual “Catch Fishing Fever Day” hosted by the Upper Missouri River chapter of Walleyes Unlimited was a HUGE success last Saturday. If you are anywhere near the Canyon Ferry Lake area, I highly recommend you look into this great event in the future. The day is all about getting kids into the sport of fishing while teaching safety and education, as well catching fish!!! There were a lot of great volunteers that showed up to make this event possible. As busy as we are with the business, we fully understand how difficult it can be to donate your time. I can assure you that it is more rewarding than any day of fishing I have had (and I've had some good days.) Watching the kids light up when we would hook a fish was such a rewarding feeling…and quite humorous. In fact, so humorous I almost fell straight out of the boat with laughter. We had just put the fourth rod in the water and bam!!! We had a huge rainbow hooked and it was jumping behind the boat. As I looked around the boat, the kids were flying around and screaming with excitement; then I realized I was too. I handed the rod to the most polite, well behaved girl we have ever had on our boat. She was so excited, yelling that she had never caught a fish before over and over. As the fish neared the boat it made one last final run and the drag began to scream. Before I could dread what was going to happen it did…POW!!! The line exploded with a loud pop and the girl had the same facial expression as any of us when we get taken to the cleaners!!! Before I could begin to tell her sorry the fish got away, she said “I SO WANT TO DROP THE ‘F’ BOMB RIGHT NOW.” I can promise you there isn't a fish in the sea that could bring this kind of joy to anyone…I laughed so hard I had tears shooting out of my face. When I finally caught my breath I had to explain to the other kids on the boat what an ‘F’ bomb is…or isn't I should say (“something bad that happens when a fish gets away”) I can see it now, the kids getting off the boat running up to their parents saying they were dropping ‘F’ bombs on the Kit’s Tackle boat…GREAT!!!
Every kid on our boat got to fight and catch a fish and share some great memories together. A couple of them even got to go home with big stomach aches from eating to many fruit roll ups After we dropped the kids off on the dock, they all came running back and gave me a big hug and thanked us for the fun they had “Jiggin’ the Dream.”
A very rewarding day on the water in my book!!!
Canyon Ferry Report and Tips:
The rainbow trout fishing is AWESOME right now and should continue throughout the next few weeks until the weather heats up and drives them deeper in the water column. We trolled Rapala “Shad Raps” and Kit’s Tackle’s “Vibra-Blades” both in the Fire Tiger color. We trolled at about 1.5 mph and the sonars were loaded up heavy in the 10-15 ft range which was perfect for our presentation. We trolled around the hole in the wall just north of the Silos. This makes for a very fun and easy day of fishing!!!
If patience is your virtue, then you might want to test yourself against Canyon Ferry’s walleye. There has been some very nice fish caught on the south end. Most fish have been coming from pitching jigs along the current breaks tipped with Berkley Gulp. I have had some great reports from people using the Kit’s Tackle GLASS MINNOW Series “Supercraw” color. I will be heading out over the weekend so I can give my report on the walleye next week.
Cheers to “Jiggin’ the Dream”
fort peck rock creek tournament recap
June 6, 2012
Man o man, I’m still giddy thinking about how much fun I had fishing with my partner Ken Schmidt in the Rock Creek Tournament. If we would have caught half as many fish as we had laughs, there is no doubt we would have won the tournament. With that being said, out of all fifty nine teams that competed in the tournament, there was not a boat that wasn’t there to win. Unfortunately, only one team can win so having fun is a very important factor in tournament fishing. For anybody that fishes tournaments or is curious, they are a blast and a lot of HARD work! You will meet some incredible people (and fisherman), laugh your butt off, sleep like a baby after long days and fish with all you got to cash a check.
I don’t even know where to begin with the fun we had while fishing…from ferocious smallmouth bass dangling from Gulp to rhyming Michael Jacksons “Just Beat It” to “Just Eat It” talking about the fish eating our bait. You would have had to been thereJ We also went into deep conversation about if fish give survival seminars. We could just picture a 33” walleye giving a seminar saying “Now listen up everyone, you don’t get 15 lbs and 33 inches by eating anything that swims by. You have to learn to grab the end of the minnow without getting hooked.” Let’s just say we had a ton of fun and kudos to my partner Ken for being such a great guy!
Ken and I lost our big fish bite we found pre fishing and had to resort to putting five fish in the boat each day. We stayed very consistent and weighed almost 15 lbs both days which ended up fairing us well. I learned that during a very tough bite, sometimes being consistent is key. I was telling Ken we need to go hunt big fish but his experience in tournament fishing new better. We were sitting in 8th place after day one and by weighing almost the same weight day two we ended up with an incredible 5th place finish overall. We felt very good about our hard work and I learned a ton from Ken and the other anglers. Remember, especially in tournament fishing is super IMPORTANT to keep an open mind.
A few tips for any tournaments success:
1.) Have at least 4 or 5 good fishing spots going into a tournament.
2.) KEEP POSITIVE…if your partner is getting down; tell the best jokes you have. Also, remember it is not over until it’s over. We didn’t put our first fish in the boat until noon on the second day.
3.) Don’t get beat up on how other people are doing in the tournament. Have faith in your ability and do your best. You can’t win them all
4.) Have the best bait available rather it’s live minnows or fresh Berkley GULP!!! Makes a big difference.
5.) Have all your tackle and rods…you never know when a jig bite will go sour and the cranks will start producing.
6.) Have fun but don’t hit the bottle to hard…it’s important to be at your best!
7.) Be courteous…if someone pulls a big weight off a certain spot don’t pull in on them the next day. Tail piping will get you a bad reputation!
8.) Don’t get hung up on the past…just because a spot was producing a week ago doesn’t mean it will now. Try them, but don’t rely on memories and old spots.
9.) Have plenty of Kit’s Tackle…are you “Jiggin’ the Dream”???
10.) MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL…HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here's a few pics of prefishing for the game days!!!
My partner Ken with a big 31"
Me with a perch stuffed 25"
Preparing for a fishing tournament
May 28, 2012
As I sit down to write this, I am thinking of all my gear scattered from one end of the house to the garage and back. I’m starting to get a little nervous as to how it’s all going to come together by Tuesday so I can leave for the Rock Creek Tournament on Fort Peck this coming weekend. Before you give up hope on me, I’m getting to an important tip for packing for any outdoor trip, including tournaments. If you’re like me and have gear all over heck…MAKE A LIST!!! In my personal opinion, the most important part of any tournament is having everything you need when you get there. Nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of nowhere and missing something important to the trip’s success. A few years ago, after countless adventures all over the lakes and mountains, I made a couple of detailed lists. By doing this, I have all the essentials for the trip and avoid unneeded stress. Getting to a tournament without the sonar will most definitely make the pre-fishing a wee bit stressful. Having a positive outlook during a tournament or any fishing adventure is of paramount importance to success.
Now that were talking about success, I can assure you it makes a big difference for any angler in the fishing world. Picture this, when I was in fifth grade I had a shot at the class beauty queen and the day before the dance I got a horrible mullet haircut. Instead of sweeping my date off her feet, I landed her on her bottom and stepped on her toes from being laughed at because of my mullet. If you think dancing is difficult with no confidence…try fishing! Confidence puts fish in the boat, no doubt about it! Having confidence comes from having all your gear, quality gear you can trust, and believing in your ability. We have all had a few of those magic days were we just stroked the fish. Remember how good that felt? Position yourself in this frame of mind and believe in your ability to catch fish.
It’s always a good idea to get a preliminary report on the fishing or the part of the lake with the “hot bite” but don’t get carried away. I recommend building your own confidence and not wasting too much time chasing other peoples “hot bite” that might be long gone (if it was ever there). I’m not saying don’t give it a few passes; just don’t get caught up in the “tournament talk” shark tank without a cage. Another way to avoid the tank is not frying all your eggs in one pan…try a few different methods that catch fish. If you’re catching more and better fish on jigs, it’s darn well your “bacon move” but don’t write off the eggs. When you wake up on tournament morning with 25 mph winds, that “bacon” jig bite might not be executed as well with difficult boat control. It is important to have a backup plan that can be properly executed so you can put fish in the boat in any condition. It may not be your first choice, but it just might put a check in your pocket at the weigh in.
A few tournament tips:
1.) Fish with confidence!!!
2.) Have a back-up plan to catch fish in case conditions change.
3.) BE PREPARDED! Have more gear than you need…it’s easier to take clothes off than put on gear you don’t have. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard tournament anglers blame their whoopin’ on being soaked and cold. Just because it’s eighty degrees and beautiful the day before the tournament, doesn’t mean it won’t be in the fifties with wind and rain during the tournament.
4.) Have more bait than you need…I always go through a hundred more crawlers than I expect too. TRUST ME you don’t want a hot bite going Friday before the tournament and run out of crawlers.
5.) Find out little triggers that boost your partner’s morale to keep them going throughout the day or when bites get tough. For example, one of my pro staffers offers his partner a pop tart when things get down. He says it BOOSTS HIM RIGHT BACK UP…it is important so have a few of these up your sleeve.
6.) Have all your tackle so you’re not limited to a certain application…conditions change and so do the bites. Remember, don’t put all the eggs in one frying pan.
7.) Have extra rods rigged ready to go for a quick switch in time sensitive tournament days.
8.) Pack a good (but fast) lunch and drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. This is very important and keeps you at your best.
9.) Tournaments are meant to be fun...SO HAVE FUN:)
10.) HAVE PLENTY OF KIT’S TACKLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My friend, Ken Schmidt and I will be fishing the Fort Peck Series "Rock Creek Tournament" together this coming weekend. Stay tuned for the results and pics fro the trip.
Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream"
May 21, 2012
With the summer kickoff weekend approaching (Memorial Day), we are all dreaming of those “picture” perfect days on the water. Blue skies, glass calm water, friends and family and of course, "Jiggin' the Dream". It’s funny how we all have this misconception of what the weather can really do when we get on the water. Since the forecast is calling for cooler temps across the northwest for the summer kickoff, I will take this opportunity to give a few tips on “cold fish.” With a falling barometric pressure “falling temps” the fish that were actively feeding the last few days are now thinking about safety and security. Most fish have a defense mechanism that is triggered by cooler temps or abrupt changes in the weather. Although tougher to catch, there is some sunshine to this cloudy article.
Usually during a cold front, fish will become more concentrated and seek deep water basins. This is where we have to change up the game to help induce a bite from a fish that is thinking security over feeding. For example, picture a field full of kids playing soccer when all of a sudden it starts pouring rain. The kids all run for the nearest shelter and huddle together…this doesn't mean they won’t still kick the ball, it just takes a little enticing…like hot cocoa maybe What I’m trying to say, is with a little patience and determination, you can still have a productive day on the water with “not so perfect” conditions.
Here are a few tips that have worked for us so you can be the hero at the boat ramp this weekend:
1.) SLOW, SLOW, SLOW!!! Cold fronts should be considered early spring (cold water) conditions and fished with a very slow, almost methodical presentation. Rather you’re jigging Glass Minnows for walleyes or pitching Vibra-blades for smallmouth, try slowing your presentation way, way down.
2.) SCENT is everything!!! I mean load it on!!! When fish are sluggish any extra scent additive is a gold mine in my tackle box. How many times have you not been hungry and then walked into a kitchen smelling of something delicious and your stomach starts to growl? DELICIOUS!!!
3.) LIVE BAIT, in Kit's Tackle's opinion, will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS out fish artificial baits during cold fronts. TRUST US ON THIS ONE!
4.) ATTRACTOR vs. IMITATOR jigs:
There are two different kinds of jigs in the world of jig fishing: Attractor and Imitator.
Attractor jigs are usually brighter in nature and made to call fish from extended distances with a louder presentation (ie. fire tiger pattern). The Imitator jigs are usually made to closely represent and mimic a type of forage in a body of water (ie. perch or crayfish patterns.)
We have found that during a cold front we have much more success on the natural imitator jigs than the brighter attractor jigs. On high pressure (good weather) days fish become very active and much more ready strikers towards “louder” presentations. Remember the fish are thinking safety and security over feeding so a clean, natural looking, STINKY(delicious) presentation is the key to success in a cold front.
With all this being said, I'm pretty sure the weather man is full of it and we are going to have a GORGEOUS weekend on the water with friends and family and of course, JIGGIN' THE DREAM"
"Jiggin' the Dream" on Fort Peck
May 12, 2012
WOW...WOW...WOW!!! Fort Peck is one amazing fishery and a dream for the multi-species angler!!!
I have been home for just a few days now and am still waking up setting the hook in giant walleyes! In fact, last night I dreamt I made a perfect cast into a beautiful shoreline and WHACK...a nice 26 incher. It is amazing how visual and realistic dreams can be...let's just say I do a lot of fishing in my sleep:) The best part is when you do make it to the water, it can feel as surreal and magical as in your dreams...hence our slogan "Jiggin' the Dream." My friends, Jim Muscat, Dave Greger and his bother Mike, traveled to the Nelson Creek recreation area on the big dry arm of Fort Peck to chase the post spawn walleye bite. As we started out on the lake, the unmistakable sound of the meadowlark resonated through the air and I started to get goosebumps looking across the ocean sized lake. As our rod guides whistled in the prairie breeze, it didn't take us long to find our sea legs and start hitting fish.
Fort Peck is a unique lake in that the walleye make a huge migration back to the main lake after the spawn. This migration is set in place by the cisco which are a pelagic bait-fish (meaning they fluctuate in the water column.) Most walleye this time of year are headed to the deep main lake basins to forage heavily on the cisco. As many of you know, the water levels on Fort Peck have raised drastically over the last few years creating a 'picture perfect' spawning habitat for all species including bait-fish. With the increased number of bait-fish and flooded structure for walleye to forage in, we decided to focus on pitching jigs shallow instead of jigging or lindy rigging deep.
Being a multi-species angler, getting bit by any species of fish is just plain fun in my book! The northern pike population in this section of the lake has EXPLODED making for a super fun day on the water. We landed 20+ northern pike a day including a couple surpassing 10 lbs and a monster 40 inch eighteen pound gator(see attached photo.) We caught some great smallmouth bass,and holy baloney pony there is a lot of yellow perch to be had (make sure you have plenty of extra bait.) Along with an already great day of fishing, we had a true day of "Jigging the Dream" for monster walleye. In one day we landed three walleye close to and over 30 inches and another half dozen between 22-28 inches. It is days like these that make up for the days we spend out their getting our butts kicked:) Unfortunately, as many of you know I am a damn wind magnet and we only got to fish a day and a half out of our four day planned trip...but we made up for it. Sometimes it makes days like we had more memorable for the future!
Here's a few TIPS if you make the Dry Arm this spring or early summer:
1.) Jigging: With an overwhelming number of FEROCIOUS yellow perch lindy rigging and deep jigging are out! We had 10 inch yellow perch engulfing 5 inch shiner minnows like they were candy. Fort Peck is a eat or be eatin' body of water (I wouldn't feel safe being a four pound fish in this body of water.) If your presentation got any deeper than 12 ft you were getting nailed by perch. This actually worked out pretty good for us being jig fisherman and loving the shallow bite. With the warming water temps we found the walleye, smallmouth and northerns in very shallow water cruising the shorelines. I would recommend pitching your jig right up on shore and "hopping" it back to the boat. I would say most of our quality fish came from 2-12 feet of water. We were jigging aggressively and they were slamming our jigs which is very unorthodox of the typical walleye bite.
2.) Catch and Release: Just so your are mentally prepared if it happens, there is a tremendous chance you will catch a word class fish this time of year on Fort Peck. If you do end up with a giant in your net (and I hope you do) PLEASE think about preserving the fishery and letting her back into the beautiful blue waters of Fort Peck. I promise you the rush and self gratification of letting a fish like this go will last a lifetime...plus a great photo last forever:) The primary spawning fish are the 20+ inch so if you would like to keep a couple for the frying pan please keep it under 20 inches. The 15-20 inch fish make the best table fare anyways:)
Here's a few RECCOMENDATIONS:
"YELLOW PERCH" Glass Minnows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
These babies out fished everything and everyone and he fish EAT them! The Yellow Perch Glass Minnow is such a realistic representation of a natural forage they were flat out smashing it. Every fish we caught on the Glass Minnows were hooked inside the mouth with nothing but line coming out of their clamped jaws. This makes for much more confident fishing knowing your going to hook the fish when they bite.
We were tipping the Glass Minnows with a 2.5 inch Berkley Gulp Smelt Minnow or a small live minnow. Here is a photo to show the realism of the Yellow Perch Glass Minnow:
Here is a few more photo's to highlight our trip:
If you would like to watch us release these beautiful fish check out the Kit's TackleYouTube Channel
May 2nd, 2012
Just wanted to give a big shout out to a great 9th place finish to Kit's Tackle Pro Team member Chet Williams at the MWC on Pueblo Reservoir this past weekend!!! Chet was "Jiggin' the Dream" with the "Glass Minnows" to pull his great weight!!!
Here is a picture at the weigh-in...congrats again!!!
Post spawn pitching for walleye
April 30th, 2012
Hello fellow walleye fanatics, across the big sky state and bordering states many of the lakes and rivers are nearing or have turned to what we refer to as the magic post spawn number. The big 50 degree mark is what we refer to as the annual light switch that turns the ever elusive walleye on like a flood light and brings them to shallow water to hunt forage. By no means is 50 degree water bikini temps, but it's warm enough to get the walleye feeding aggressively. Picture yourself as a walleye that has had to handle the rigors of spawning the last couple weeks with little to no food or nutrition. Walleye in the post spawn are as about as hungry as I am am after a long day of fishing and envisioning a delicious cheeseburger on the way home! Walleye have one thing on their mind...FOOD!!!
As walleye begin to shallow up they become very active hunting forage rather than waiting for it to swim by. This is the time of year to cover ground and find the active fish rather then waiting out the bite. Walleye can be very ready strikers this time of year and act a lot like a smallmouth bass or rainbow trout. We have a saying this time of year and it's "Pitch Til' You Puke" meaning keep those jigs flying and rods swinging:)
1.) Always use the lightest jig possible for the conditions (ie. Wind, Current, Water Depth and Boat Speed.) We recommend 1/8 and 1/4 oz jigs for most lakes and river with heavier jigs required for some rivers like the Columbia River.
2.) Always let your jig fall on a slack line(fish always strike on the fall so they won't feel you and they will be able to suck the jig in.)
3.) Braided line gives you incredible feel for jigging applications. We recommend 4-6 lb Berkley Fire-line with a 12-16 inch fluorocarbon leader for pitching jigs.
4.) Pitch (cast) your jig into shore and gently work it back to the boat "ticking" it slowly across the bottom. Walleye can be very subtle biters so set the hook at any feel of resistance...better to be safe than sorry(trust me I know:))
Our favorite this time of year is the "Glass Minnows" for pitching due to their realistic representation of natural forage and their incredible undulating action. If you want to beef up your presentation even more try tipping with a Berkley Gulp minnow for added scent and visual attraction.
From beginner to expert, nothing is more exciting than jig fishing...it is between you and the fish! It's the most rewarding type of fishing and I promise you will be hooked. So CHEERS to "Jiggin' the Dream"
Here is a picture from a post spawn beauty that took a plain Yellow Perch "Glass Minnow" on Fort Pecks Big Dry Arm:) We will be traveling back later this week and will have a full report and pictures:)
Post spawn in MT before May!!!
April 23, 2012
Just thought I should share the success of our good friend Kris Keller putting post spawn into play before May in MT!!! I have to admit that I have caught PRE-SPAWN hen walleye this time of year and this blows me away. This is a heck of an early spring with water temps already touching 50 degrees on Montana's Fort Peck. The water temps on some of Montana's bodies of water are more than a month earlier than last year so it's time to start pitchin' those GLASS MINNOWS into the shorelines. After recovering from the rigors of spawning, walleye move shallow and start cruising the shorelines on the hunt for food! Now is the time to stay on the move and find the active fish!!!
Here is a picture of Kris with a great 31.5" post spawn beauty-
April 20, 2012
Well the water temps have officially reached the upper 40's on our local bodies of water and the spiny yellow critters we call walleye have disappeared from existence. It very much reminds me of tracking a mature bull through the forest...you know he is there but after hours of pursuing him you rarely get a glimpse. Heck, sound like walleye fishing in general:) So with the spawn in full swing we have spent a few days out chasing browns and rainbows with some nice fish being caught. The hot jigs the last trip out were the Brown/Orange Pro Series Marabou Jig and the Iridescent Crayfish Pro Series Marabou Jig and we also had a monster brown bite us off with my personal favorite the Yellow Perch Glass Minnow. I don't know what was worse loosing a giant brown or a Yellow Perch Glass Minnow
I thought I would take a quick second to introduce you all to my pups who I spend a lot of time with in the boat and when not fishing! We have recently added a new member to the family(who is tugging at my slipper this instant) that has been a gas! If you even mention the word boat around them all hell breaks loose!!! So looks like there will be some Cast N' Blast trips coming up this fall. Mmmm...pheasant breast and walleye fillets fried hot!!!
Myself, Pika(the yellow lab), and Dixie(the English Setter Puppy) taking a night off from fishing and the jig engine!
Dixie and Pika being snuggle bugs after a hard day in the boat catching fish!
Marabou Marabou Marabou!!!
April 11th, 2012
Kit's Pro Series Marabou Jig
Well thought I would take a quick moment and talk about how deadly and effective the marabou jig is for springtime trout jigging!!! Most species of trout spawn in the spring(excluding browns, brooks, bulls, ect) and are very protective of there spawning grounds. In fact, a lot (not all) of the trout that strike a marabou jig are striking out of irritation or just picking it up to move it away from their spawning beds. This makes the marabou jig absolutely deadly this time of year. The marabou jig has an undulating action that is matched by nothing else and it tantalizes fish into a ferocious strike.
I would like to highlight two of our favorite and most productive marabou jigs for this time of the year.
1.) Egg Sucking Leech: Nothing will bring a more shoulder into a strike than a sneaky leech swimming off with one of moms eggs. Leeches are notorious for stealing trout eggs off the nest and trout of all species are on high alert. It is also a double whammy because for the fall spawning trout and other species like walleye, ect it is a delicious looking treat! All fish love leeches and why not throw in a tasty trout egg and best of all...it is natural looking and the correct time of the year for the jigs application.
2.) Irridescent Crayfish: This little baby is my absolute favorite and for springtime marabou jig fishing nothing MATCHES THE HATCH like the Iridescent Crayfish Marabou Jig. In colder water (<50) all crayfish have a blue iridescent tinge to them when they dart through the water. For cold water marabou jig fishing this is our GO TO jig for the most realistic representation of natural forage. So if there is crayfish in your river or lake and it is the wise old monster of the deep your seeking this is the marabou jig for you!!!
Cheers to "Jiggin' the Dream" with the Pro Series Marabou Jig!!!
Columbia River Round Two-
April 10th, 2012
Well last Wednesday on a whim we decided to leave for a second attempt to get to fish the Columbia River this year. After getting blown off for four consecutive days earlier this year we were burning to get our jigs in the water. We made it to the Tri Cities with big hopes only to find water temps in the upper 40's(middle of the spawn) and a dutch chocolate milkshake of a river!!! Double bummer!!! Dad and I made the best of it and gave it our most dedicated shot and with nothing but straight fishing...I mean we were jiggin' while we were peeing;) Hearing of the impossible shot of fish with the conditions, we managed to work ourselves into a few nice males but only a tap for about every 6-8 hours of hard jiggin'...the hope of a giant hen kept is going:) We never did catch a female but had a great time breathing the Oregon/Washington air and seeing friends and fellow fisherman. Not to mention living in the wall tent for a few days sure does put a racing mind at ease.
Here is a couple pictures from our trip...CHEERS TO "JIGGIN' THE DREAM"
Nice male from the trip-
Lee Lafferty(Pro Staff) with a prehistoric bomber!!!
March 27, 2012
Well as a walleye fisherman and also a multi-species angler the wind sure can be brutal!!! I am starting to think the wind my just have it out for us;) If not being able to fish at the Columbia for four days wasn't tough enough we have been blown off Canyon Ferry(Helena's local walleye lake) both times we have gone. We tried again last night and fished until dark and then had a real "WESTERN" ride back to the ramp in five footers!!! We just like to get out this time of year to chase the big girls around...a chance at a real brute:) With our luck so far we might just stick to the jig engine from here on out the rest of the spring.
I do have a couple of pretty exciting things to report though:
The custom walleye rods we have donated to Walleyes Unlimited of Montana have been doing great at the banquets!!!
The two (Cat and Griz themed) rods at the Kalispell State Banquet raised $350 each
The walleye themed rod for the bozeman baquet raised......................$1,100!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME!!!!
TALK ABOUT SOME NICE CUSTOM STIX COMING FROM KIT'S TACKLE!!!!
Here is a picture of Kit's Tackle Pro Staff Kimo Gabriel and Greg Osborne with their HUGE second place finish at the Umtilla Spring Classic!!! Great workboys:)
Here is a shot of Kit's Tackle Pro Staff Leelend Lafferty with his day two big fish winner! Nice work Leeland!!! Caught on the Kit's Baby Bass Stand-Up.
WE SURE ARE OUR PROUD OF OUR PRO SATFF AND ALL THE HARD WORK AND DEDICATION THEY DO FOR US!!!
CHEERS TO "JIGGIN' THE DREAM" FROM KIT'S TACKLE-
"Glass Minnows" meet Salt H2O
March 19, 2012
Well the ice is starting to free from a lot of Montana rivers and lakes...all the "good ol' boys" are already trying to get in wherever they can. I have been seeing some really nice fish pictures from across our awesome state starting to come in. Sure makes it hard for a guy to spend his day in the paint booth with spring in the air:)
Well for a place that is surely ice free, a great gentleman named Tom Billman put Kit's Tackles "Glass Minnows" to the test in the Salt H2O recently. It has been a dream of mine to be able just to see them in the beautiful ocean water! Mr. Billman did this and a lot more! He said...well here is his exact words...
"On February 16th while on my trip to Marco Island Florida, I charted a boat from Bahama Joes Charters out of Naples Florida to do some jigging on the reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. Being in contact with Trevor Johnson with kits tackle before my trip, Trevor was kind enough to make me some jigs to go after some salt water fish. Being completely honest, I was not quite sure whether or not I would be able to catch salt water fish with tackle that was made to catch the monster trout and Walleye in the waters of Montana. Catching big trout, and walleye with these jigs is a proven fact... but catching the killers in the ocean was still a question in the back of my mind. From the very beginning Trevor had the utmost confidence that if I were to use his jigs the salt water killers would tear my arm off going after them and he was right. The other 5 people on the boat used bait provided by the boat and I used Kits jigs all day long and just slaughtered the fish. There were two things that really surprised with these jigs. First was how sharp these hooks are. No matter how much people talk about how sharp these hooks are it does no justice until you try some. I was jigging; just giving two quick little 12" pops to get them off the bottom and snagged 3 fish that day. I wasn't trying to snag fish, but these hooks are so sharp it happens rather easy. And the second and most pleasantly surprising thing was the variety of fish I caught with these jigs. I caught red grouper, gag grouper, blue runners, porgy, trigger fish, puffers, mackerel, and something that I didn't see that managed to spool me. The only thing I wished I would have done differently is taken my custom Kits Tackle fishing rod that Trevor made for me a couple years ago. The fishing was truly the highlight of my trip to Florida. Thanks Trevor and Joe for such an awesome memory!"
Wow Tom, thank you for the awesome testimonial and congrats on the great trip "Jiggin' the Dream"
Here is a few pics of fish he caught on the "Glass Minnows" in the Salt H2O-
March 6th 2012
Well Kit's Nation the ice is starting to come off the lakes and people are starting to launch boats on some local ramps. Can you believe they are calling for over 60 degree temps this weekend here in Helena, MT? Holy Cow...I wish I was going to be on the water!!! This weekend we will be traveling to the State Walleye Banquet in Kalispell MT for a great time with fun and friends. The banquet is at the Hilton garden Inn and we will have our vendor booth set up all day saturday so come say hi if your in the neighborhood:)
We wanted to give a shout out to our very own Pro Staffer Kimo Gabriel for his huge win in the Winter Walleye Classic out of Tri Cities. Kimo and his partner Greg roughed the big winds and nasty weather to bring in a huge bag both days. The boys ended up with over 50 pounds for a total weight...WOW!!! The tournament was won on Kit's Tackle. The "Big River Series" w/ Gulp did the trick...the color remains unknown;) Here they are with their AWESOME 1rst place plaques.
Nobody said Walleye fishin' is easy...
February 24th 2012
Defeat is never a word us tough fisherman like to use. We just returned from our five day trip to the Columbia River in pursue of huge walleye. The closest thing we got to huge walleye is HUGE waves!!! They should call it the land of "GIANT WAVES." We sat in Umatilla Oregon for five days trying to beat the weather...never broke! Sitting in the front seat of a pick up or a wall tent for 5 days with nothing to do can bring on frustrations to say the least!!! We decided we had both had enough, flipped the river off and headed home;) The boat never even got to taste the Oregon water...it's funny how things work out. I have worked a million hours and dreamt of this trip for days all to not even ramp the boat. Guess it wasn't meant to be
After returning I told a good friend of mine I should take up golf and he said "Na, I see those guys throw their clubs to much" ha ha ha
Life is one big adventure and any day I am blessed on the water is a good day! This trip was not blessed but it will make the next one that much better "JIggin' the Dream"
If you would like to see the river at it's worst....please check out Kit's Tackle on facebook and watch the video
Heading to the LAND OF THE GIANTS
February 18, 2012
Well Kit's nation, my father and I are headed to the "Land of the Giants" in the a.m. We are praying for good weather over the passes and on the water:) We are headed to the Tri Cities/Umatilla area of the river for a couple days. This time of year is long days on the water hoping for that shot at a real dandy. We will have some sore jiggin' arms that's for sure!
This is what keeps me up at night and what dreams are made of!!! We will be staying in a wall tent at the Umatilla Campground if you are in the area stop in and say hi.
So cheers to adventures and "Jiggin' the Dream" on the Big River!!!
Pics to follow-
February 9, 2012
Hello Kit's nation, boy what a couple of exciting weeks since the launch of the website. We have been busy minnows filling online orders and chipping away at the big spring orders. It has been so exciting to watch a few orders start coming in...especially for my father (Kit) who has watched the business he created turn into a full blown online store! We are a couple of super excited fishermen up here in Montana and have been having so much fun filling orders. Just a few days ago, I was hand brushing epoxy on a beautiful walleye jig order for a gentleman in Oregon and every time my brush hit a jig I wondered of its adventures ahead...
-Will this be the one to catch the first 20lb walleye from the Columbia???
-Is this one going to catch a catfish???
-Maybe this one will win the tournament at the last minute???
-Will this one end up snagged in the rocks to live a lonely life???
-Will this be the one to bring a child his/her first fish???
It is such an amazing feeling creating a product so darn good that you know it will catch fish...not maybe, but WILL. We have so much confidence in our products and it feels great shipping an order we know will catch fish as long as the person doesn't frame them. One of the first online orders we shipped out got framed...ha ha. The customer said "holy heck, these are a work of art, I can't fish with these." About a week later, we received an email with a couple of the jigs framed in a shadow box.
So I do have to admit that getting all these testimonials sure makes it rough on a guy! I do love making tackle, but my time on the water has been cut way back:( I do feel that every true fisherman needs to take some time for the water or he will end up with the whirling disease:) Dad and I are planning a trip to the Columbia River around Presidents Day weekend. No words can express how excited I am to be on the very river where our slogan came from, "Jiggin' the Dream." It is a river of enchantment and extreme conditions, but it holds HUGE walleye and we are going to jig till we drop. All big fish will be released, but we will surely snap a quick photo to highlight our trip. It will be a week of dad, me and my lab Pika in the boat. We will be fishing around the Irrigon area and will be happy to see anybody there. Make sure you come say hi if you see us on the water!
Here is a picture of the recent walleye jig order I spoke of earlier. These babies have been fine-tuned to catch big walleye!!! And of course we put a few extra in the jig engine for us:)