END OF OPEN WATER - BEGINNING OF ICE SEASON PREP FOR KNOXVILLE FISHING SHOW, ADVENTURES OF THE JAMES GANG CALIPER
LIVE BAIT VENDING FOR ICE FISHING IS BACK IN BLOOMER WI
24/7 Live bait vending on Hwys 64/40 in Bloomer WI
ICE FISHING HAS BEGAN IN NW WISCONSIN!! HERE IS A QUICK AERIAL VIEW OF LAKE MENOMIN AS ANGLERS FIND LIMITS OF PANFISH ON EARLY ICE:
PREPPING FOR THE EAST TN FISHING SHOW!!!
We have finally reached the exciting moment of reality - IT'S TIME TO GET TO WORK!! Our booth fees and contract have been taken care of, our new table runner has arrived, lure parts are arriving, and our shopping bags and accessories for the show are being made this week. Alex and I started hand-crafting our first lures for the big event tonight. Its been about 5 years in absence from exhibiting in shows, and the Knoxville event is something we dreamed of showing at many years ago. We are excited and determined to hand-craft enough Lovertail 2's, Dunkin Frogs, and Bee Whackers in enough colors to impress the local bass anglers in Tennessee. We also plan on bringing a small variety of some of our non-wire baits that can really produce a lot of fishing success, including the Bass Jerker, Baby Squid Bait, Katana Blade, and our weedless swinging jig called the Nest Invader. We started with a batch of these jigs, as we wait for the rest of the components to ship in for the wire baits that are coming to the show. The show will take place in the Knoxville Expo Center on Clinton Hwy the last week of Jan 2024. This will be our longest event, with 4 days and longer hours than previous shows. Attendance is claimed to be one of the biggest in SE United States, and I personally know that area is crazy about bass fishing! We are super excited and are looking forward to hand-crafting lures, improving our booth appearance, traveling through some new cities, documenting our trip with camera and drone videos, and most importantly interacting with passionate anglers in the event. Here's a quick teaser of what our first night of prepwork resulted in:
There will be more much information to come, and we will delay our personal ice fishing season until most of the lure-crafting for this huge event is complete. If you are interested in the show, here's the map to the event for the last week in Jan 2024:
A SENTIMENTAL PIECE OF THE JAMES GANG COMES HOME!
JESSE & PAUL GEHIN WITH THE REMAINS OF OUR CALIPER DISPLAY FROM 2018
During our trade shows, our customers were often fascinated by a unique wooden caliper display that is found on our table. This caliper was crafted by CEO Alex Piontek's grandfather Bob Simmons, and his great-uncle Dale Simmons. The caliper can be used to measure fish, as its sliding design can adjust to take a proper measurement of the trophy when the situation arises. Of course this piece of art is too nice to actually use on a slimy fish, especially those STINKY pike! It's a special piece of our adventures that is something to chuckle about and start conversations about when a customer is caught off-guard by its presence.
In January of 2018, we were leaving the Wisconsin Fishing Expo in Madison Wisconsin in the Alliant Center. We load dup all of our booth belongings and headed into the dark to load our vehicle up to head home. When we arrived at home, we brought in all of our belongings, but couldn't find the caliper anywhere. The only scenario we could come up with was that our driver placed the caliper on the roof of his SUV and left it there, allowing it to fly off of the interstate at the first interchange.
Obviously this missing piece greatly saddened us as we worked an expo the following year without it. During the off-season, it has a special display location on our wall of our lure shop to acknowledge it under Alex's fish mounts and lure displays. Understandably, the two relatives that hand-crafted this art were very sad about its loss as well.
As COVID-19 arrived, the expo scene was shut down. Deteriorating health issues that I was experiencing due to a stroke and neurological Lyme disease prevented us from considering doing any expos for 4 years. Earlier this year, we made the decision to get back into the expo game and go BIG, going to the biggest show we wanted to exhibit - KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. Shortly after we verbally agreed with each other that its time to get back into it, I received a random message in social media from a stranger. The person was named Jackie Gehin and was looking for the owner of James Gang Fishing Company.
Jackie began telling me a story about how her husband Paul was a highway worker in Dane County, WI, and came across a unique item on the side of the free-way in 2018. They were unsure of what it was, as the sliding arm was missing and there was some major scuff damage to the paint. She placed it in their house for years to protect it. Out of the blue in early 2023, she decided to pull out the relic and do some research. I told her that there was a piece of our display that was missing in that area that we absolutely thought flew off into the ditch as we merged onto the interstate near the Alliant Center. Jackie immediately became excited, and made plans within a few days to meet up in Wausau, WI to return the caliper to us!
THE CALIPER IS REPAIRED, RESTORED, & READY FOR KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE!
(PICTURED - DALE SIMMONS, JAMES GANG CEO ALEX PIONTEK, BOB SIMMONS)
When I returned home with the damaged caliper, Alex's grandfather was quite surprised. He thought that the damage was able to be repaired, and that he was able to replace the sliding arm with a new piece that he could craft. After a few months of being out of our hands, we were surprised with a visit from Dale at Alex's grandfather's house, with a completely show-ready caliper freshly painted with some awesome updates. Dale decided to paint on all the lures that Alex covered in his TV interview on the OUTDOOR SHOWCASE, as well as a painting of Alex's giant 7 lb peacock bass that he caught the previous year with Monster Mike Fishing in Miami, Florida. THANK YOU DALE & BOB FOR THE AWESOME REPAIR & RESTORATION OF THE CALIPER!
GOOD LUCK ICE FISHING!!!! SEE YOU OUT THERE SOON!!
Ice-Out to Pre-spawn
BRAD PEPLINSKI FINDS HIS FIRST BASS OF 2023
The 2023 open water season arrived at an average point of the calendar year for NW Wisconsin. Although we were trending for a late ice-out, we gained ground the week before the WI Fishing Opener and had open water just in time. The month of May showed steady, comfortable temperatures with a lack of frost at nights, which led to a spawn season ahead of schedule by a couple of weeks. The bass were tough to get to bite for the James Gang in the colder water temps, but as it began to heat up the panfish showed up and were cooperative.
PAPA STEVE WITH A 13" & 12.5" BLACK CRAPPIE CAUGHT IN DUNN COUNTY, WI
JAMES GANG MLF - LAKE ARBUTUS AT SPAWN
The sunrise was beautiful at the launch of the 2023 James Gang Fishing Company MLF event on Arbutus Lake. A gorgeous fog began to lift as the anglers arrived to launch their boats and fire up their outboards.The fishing started off decent in the early morning, reached a very difficult lull for about 4 hours, then lit back up in the final hour and a half as the scoreboard began bouncing all over the place. Matt Smith and 6 year old Sullivan took the lead with 2 solid bass in the final 24 minutes remaining as the duo held off 3-angler teams for the victory and the Daily Lunker Award with a 3.58 lb smallmouth bass! 69 bass were registered in this event among 20 teams, most of them being smallmouth bass. The weather held up throughout the week and made the fishing conditions very comfortable in this super-tight event. A FULL RECAP TO COME IN A FUTURE BLOG!
A FOGGY START TO THE JAMES GANG MLF EVENT ON ARBUTUS LAKE
DRONE FOOTAGE OF ARBUTUS LAKE WI - DAN HACKETT PHOTOGRAPHY
BRAD PEPLINSKI WORKING THE REEDS ON ARBUTUS LAKE
CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS 6 YR OLD SULLIVAN & MATT SMITH!
$120 DONATED TO THE IKE FOUNDATION & FISHERS OF KIDS ANGLER ACADEMY
RUSTIC CAMPING & BASSIN' WITH THE JAMES GANG
3 RUSTIC SITES IN 3 NIGHTS - ARBUTUS, SMITH LAKE, TURTLE FLAMBEAU FLOWAGE
At the finish of the MLF event, 3 members of the James Gang hit up three rustic campgrounds in 3 nights for a relaxing and mosquito-infested tent expedition. The goal was good food, good bass fishing, and good laughs. All three goals were exceeded! It was much-needed after the dismal performance by our team in the recent tournament. At our 2nd lake, we managed to catch several small northern pike roaming the Flambeau River near Park Falls, WI on Strike King Naked Rage Blade baits. The next morning was when things really turned around. Several smallmouth bass made themselves present as they smoked multiple finesse presentations. Dan Hackett landed a beautiful female smallmouth getting prepared for spawn in the cold northern waters of the Flambeau River. Kevin Martinek did some damage with a very powerful northern pike that fell for the James Gang NEST INVADER weedless swinging jig in "Mississippi Mayhem" skirt patterns. Multiple friends of that pike joined the party as Kevin continued to land fish.
DAN FINDS A SOLID SMALLMOUTH, JESSE HITS A SPREE, DAN WITH A PIKE
27" NORTHERN PIKE ON A JAMES GANG NEST INVADER JIG
CRAWFISH BREAKFASTS, DEER DOG DINNERS, DUCK BREAST DESSERTS AT CAMP
UNCLE JESSE IN HIS ELEMENT ENJOYING NATURE & MAKING MEMORIES
PRIME TIME TURTLE FLAMBEAU FLOWAGE
LOG JAMS = SMALLMOUTH BASS = JAMES GANG FISHING MAGNETS
Another wild time at the rustic Turtle Flambeau Flowage took place in late-May, and the end result was boated fish - lots of them! 21 Small mouth bass, 13 Northern Pike, 4 Rock Bass, and a surprising walleye came out to the party in this undeveloped beauty of a reservoir. We started the day carrying over some of the lures that worked on the Flambeau River from the previous day - sinking worms by Scheels Outdoors, Kalin's Jerk Minnow Jrs, James Gang Nest Invader Jigs, and Strike King Naked Rage Blade. Like usual, the presentations had to be adjusted to the location and the conditions, and we quickly dialed in the patterns as the bass and pike smoked the 3/8 oz James Gang BABY SQUID BAIT in "Mississippi Mayhem." Other lures that played very well were the weighted worm, as well as the Strike King Ned Rage CUTR worm as a comeback bait after a miss. Topwaters failed to produce, but ultra-finesse showed to be the correct choice during this outing. After hooking into some nice smallmouth bass and northern pike, Dan shocked us as he yelled "get the net!" while his lure was directly under the boat in only 2 feet of water. I grabbed the net and scooped up a pleasant surprise - a 20.5" walleye! Since we don't target these tasty fish and seem to only accidentally hook smaller ones, we didn't bring the fillet knife or livewell to this adventure. We took some shots of this golden-colored beauty and released her back to grow.
DAN HACKETT WITH HIS 20.5" WALLEYE & UNCLE JESSE WITH A MEATY BASS
KEVIN MARTINEK SHOWS OFF THE ARTWORK OF THE TURTLE-FLAMBEAU FLOWAGE
On the night of our Turtle Flambeau stay, Uncle Jesse set the hook on a beautiful smallmouth bass that appeared to be the lunker of the trip. This was in a brand new area of exploration in the flowage. We try and check out a new area every year before resorting to our previous successful waypoints. The bass instantly broke the line off while using a VMC worm hook and a Kalin's jerkshad. We left the area and caught several fish before heading in to camp for dinner. The following morning, we set back out to that area in search of that particular fish. Uncle Jesse felt that an ultra-finesse lure with a perfect cast could entice a bite from that lost fish. Dan missed a large fish that swiped at his sinking worm at the end of a dock. Uncle Jesse quickly tied on a Strike King Ned Rage CUTR worm and threw it where his fish was broke off from the previous night. The line tightened and a power hook set was employed. Dan grabbed the net and the lunker of the trip was landed - with the hook from the previous night still sticking through the roof of her mouth!
LUNKER OF THE TRIP - 16.25" SMALLMOUTH BASS 2 LBS 9 OZ
GOLDEN SHINER BASS JERKERS IN STOCK NOW!
THE JAMES GANG BASS JERKER SUSPENDING JERKBAIT IS IN STOCK IN GOLDEN SHINER OR BLOODY CISCO, OUR 2 BEST COLORS FOR SMALLMOUTH BASS, LARGEMOUTH BASS, NORTHERN PIKE, AND WALLEYE! BLOODY CISCO = CLEAR WATER. GOLDEN SHINER = STAINED RIVERS AND LAKES! TO ORDER PLEASE EMAIL email@example.com for PayPal billing.
JAMES GANG BABY SQUID BAIT ON FIRE! AVAILABLE IN OUR ONLINE STORE!!
BABY SQUID BAIT finesse tube spinner 2 pk
This ultra-finesse spinner has been our #1 fish-catcher since 2018. Black and blue work in stained waters, especially rivers, and on cloudy days. Baby Gill ( Green Pumpk/Chartreuse blade) works excellent in clear to stained waters with heavy bluegill populations or around bluegill beds. Green Pumpkin / nickel is the go-to in the clear waters of the Great Lakes with secchi disk readings up to 25 ft deep. Great for any spring fed, difficult bodies of water in your area.
CONGRATS TO JACE ON HIS 17" SMALLMOUTH BASS!
JACE USED A JAMES GANG BABY SQUID BAIT WHILE SHORE FISHING IN WISCONSIN!
JAMES GANG CEO ALEX & HIS FISHING PARTNER MASON ENJOYED SUCCESS ON THE ICE!
Late fall was good to the ice anglers in Wisconsin, as we found safe ice at a pretty early date in 2022. Small lakes & ponds froze hard around Thankgiving, and by Mid-Dec, our region had 7" of ice. The woods and the roadsides were gorgeous after the heavy, wet snowfall rocked our area. Jesse Piontek of James Gang Fishing Company teamed up with local angler Trevor Meeks to do some scouting for some rainbow trout opportunities with LiveScope. We found a small window of feeding at sun-up that lasted about an hour, resulting in 2 rainbow trout, 3 largemouth bass, and a few panfish. These fish were biting on Acme 3mm tungsten jigs, tipped with Gullickson BeaverTail Baits, and dipped in JB's Fish Sauce scent. The Live Scope can be a very fun tool to watch, as the fish educate the angler with visual movements on screen that are hard to imagine with standard flasher usage. We always have fun learning new bodies of water and overcoming the challenge of finding fish and coaxing them to bite!
HEAVY, WET SNOW CREATED GORGEOUS SCENERY IN MID-DECEMBER
TREVOR MEEKS WITH AN 11.5" RAINBOW TROUT
JB'S FISH SAUCE & BEAVERTAIL BAIT
We began using Beavertail Baits and JB's Fish Sauce during ice fishing around 2017, and found it to really be the difference-maker when fish are in a neutral to negative feeding mood. I like to take a knife and cut the Beavertail in half length-wise, to create two long & skinny pieces of beavertail. Experiment with colors such as white or pink. I then cut a V-shaped fish tail into the end of the bait and hook it on to a small jig, such as a 3mm Acme hammered tungsten jig or Flirty Girty #10. I dip the entire jig in JB'S Fish Sauce, using the JB's Jelly or the balm sticks with hands-free lanyards on the ice. My favorite scents for winter are crawfish, black magic, or perch juice. I start with natural colors such as silver or gold jigs. If the bite is aggressive I switch to pink or white Flirty Girty jigs and usually step up to a bigger size, such as #8 or 4mm. When tip-up fishing, I dip the treble hooks for northern pike with JB's Fish Sauce to add an oil trail to key them in to the live bait location. These tactics have helped me become much more efficient and productive during my ice-fishing expeditions in recent years. Keep your jig a foot or two above the fish on your flasher and try to get them to come up to the jig. This is usually when you trick them into committing to a taste. The scent is can be what changes them from wanting a taste to wanting to inhale the jig.
USE PROMOTION CODE "JJPF10" for 10% off all JB'S FISH SAUCE ORDERS!!!
LIVE BAIT & TACKLE VENDING 24/7 AT BACK 40 IN BLOOMER!!
Waxies, spikes, live crappie fatheads, and tackle. Credit or cash accepted 24/7!!
PIKE FEST 2023 BECOMES KIDS CRAPPIE FEST!
GAVIN & HIS DAD HAD A GREAT DAY CATCHING CRAPPIES UP TO 11"
Pike fest 2023 showed minimal pike to speak of, but no one was complaining as they were replaced with an abundance of crappies in the 9-12.75" range on this beautiful 31 degree day of ice fishing! Three children and 4 adults headed north near Turtle Lake, WI and took home 52 of these delicious panfish to throw in the lard pan at home. Josh Weirich caught the biggest crappie of the day, measuring 12.75" long. Josh was using a pink Flirty Girty on a panfish jig pole. Mason Krueger caught a 12" crappie as well, and Alex Piontek & Gavin Duncan both put 11" crappies on the ice with the several solid keepers they took home through the day. We celebrated the day with hot dogs and brats on the grill before we headed out. Live crappie minnows, Flirty Girty jigs, Beavertail Baits, & JB's Fish Sauce all put the crappies in the mood to eat breakfast. The kids all had a blast, and don't forget to find time to teach children the enjoyment of adventures in the outdoors!!
JOSH WEIRICH WITH HIS 12.75" BLACK CRAPPIE
JAMES GANG FISHING IN 2023
BASS JERKER SUSPENDING JERKBAIT BY James Gang Fishing Company
It's been a rough couple of years at James Gang Fishing Company, as health issues have taken a huge toll on marketing, time, and finances, as well as time for MLF events, trade shows, and crafting lures. Substantial progress has been made in recent months in the health concerns, so we look to getting back on track in growing the company and returning to trade shows in future years. We are currently dedicating our time and money strictly to website lure sales and stocking our 24/7 live bait & tackle vending machine near Bloomer, WI at Back 40 Dining & Cocktails, a location on the way to Island, Long, Potato, MarshMiller, Cornell, Rock, and so many other lakes. The best way to make lure purchases through us is still through our website store, or through an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our guide service will remain on hold through 2023 as health is still a concern at this time, and we are unable to acquire the needed equipment at this moment for a safe & enjoyable guide experience that is needed for the price of the trip.At this time we allowed our guide license to expire, and will reconsider when health, economy, and outlook lines up together. Expect more video content on our www.rumble.com channel in 2023, and better quality as we upgraded to our business computer and are using better software. We are now entering a transition as CEO Alex is beginning to learn the book-keeping and marketing aspects of his business, much different from when he started the beginning stages of his vision at just 4 years old with fun videos, pictures, and fun commentary on YouTube. We only promote what we believe in, and at this time, we highly recommend giving our Lovertail 2 in white crappie or bull bluegill, our Baby Squid Bait in Baby Gill, our Bass Jerker in Bloody Cisco or Golden Shiner, and our 1/4 oz Nest Invader weedless skirted jig in Mississippi Mayhem a whirl. We will continue to develop new lures in the future, but these lures we have extreme confidence in as we have landed so many fish over the years with them! Please submit your order to the online store and we will order the parts to custom build them by hand when they arrive. Thank you for your support and good luck fishing!!
Losing ice, gaining fishing opportunities....
It was a long, drawn-out Winter in 2021-2022, as ice lingered around for much longer than average. Water temperatures stayed in the 30s near the end of April, giving anglers a delayed start tome prime riverbank fishing activity, a delayed crappie bite, and a deep off-shore cold-water bass bite close to our annual gamefish season opener. We took a few trips with some middle school kids in the region to the Chippewa River, in hopes of catching suckers, carp, smallmouth buffalo, freshwater drum, yellow perch, walleye, or an accidental lake sturgeon. Although we did catch a few fish, it was slow, the water was low, and the fish were very young.
LOCAL ANGLER WYATT B HOLDS UP A JUVENILE LAKE STURGEON
ICE-OUT BASSIN, TURTLE FLAMBEAU ADVENTURES, RED CEDAR LAKE ESCAPADES
Always a fan of learning new experiences, I challenged myself to some very cold-water as the ice was melting off. My first trip included a small water excursion in which our Helix 12 HD side imaging exposed schools and schools of fish laying on the main lake deep-water basin, still in a winter-hole phase in 37 degree water temps combined with 25 degree air temps. The fishing was slow, the wind was dead, the water was flat, and we had the chance to fish slow and methodically, trying to temp some deep-water bass. Unfortunately my fishing buddy for the day may have had a largemouth of a lifetime near the surface, but lost it on a head-shake on his treble hooks, which so often happens. We came back for round 2 the following morning, and to our surprise, this beautiful 18" brown trout made up for the previous day's loss:
DAVID XIONG WITH A 18" BROWN TROUT
ALEX PIONTEK'S CRAWFISH BANDIT IS OUT OF HIBERNATION
JESSE JAMES WITH AN 18" LARGEMOUTH BASS IN 14' WATER DEPTH
I came across an affordable TourneyX event for the month in Wisconsin, so I joined with 28 other anglers. It was open to kayaks, boats, canoes, banks, you name it. This would fit me well for the month, as I was planning a few trips, but didn't have it in me to meet people at set dates or times, or had the health to battle through 8 hour fishing tournaments. My first stop would be on a small bass and panfish 90 acre natural lake in Rusk County, a place known for numbers of bass, but not necessarily size. With a water temperature sitting at 47 degrees, I wanted to rule out anything tight to shore or aggressive. Of course, I did try shoreline areas with long casts and reaction baits, with zero success or sightings of any fish. I decided to do some slow speed scanning with my Helix 12, and was finding clear markings of massive fish in around 14' of water, tight to the bottom. This lake does not have northern pike in it, it does have some musky. I don't believe it has a walleye population, so I assumed these were largemouth bass I was seeing, working their way in from their winter locations. There were also cribs all over in these contours. I pulled out a brand new Molix deep-diving jerk bait, and was running this slow and as deep as possible. I was able to make a lot of bottom contact to generate a reaction-strike. As always in tough conditions, I loaded the back treble very heavily with scented JB's Jelly, by JBs Fish Sauce. With every pass down the contour, I found success, as I landed 4 solid largemouth pass in 4 passes. These fish were very sluggish with the cold-water, and were very easy to net. What a fun time as I saw myself rise in the TourneyX standings to 3rd place early in the month, without having a 5th fish to fill my limit.
BIG CHETAC PERCH FEST
OUR CRAPPIES WERE HIDING BUT THE PERCH WERE JUMPING INTO THE CAST IRON
TURTLE FLAMBEAU - SCENIC, RELAXING, REWARDING
My annual Turtle Flambeau Flowage trip went about as well as expected - the scenery was amazing, the fishing was tough, the giant smallmouths were present and girthy, wildlife was abundant, and the boat trailer sustained more injuries. Just another weekend at the Turtle. I started the trip by towing the boat to the Lake of the Falls County Park, for my second year in a row. This is an affordable way to be able to charge boat batteries, and have shower access. Remember - this flowage is full of islands with free camping on a first-come first-served basis with no registration involved. If your batteries are charged ahead of time, you can just stay out on the islands for free and find all the peace and quiet you are looking for (besides the loons all night.) I was limited on fishing time due to health reasons, and the bite was definitely a challenge. As usual you have to stick with your plan and keep an open mind, and over time you will have opportunities. I tried scouting a new area to me, which is something I do every trip. This time was Blair Lake. The water was muddy and cold, and it felt dead in there. After a few hours, we split and tried some of my previous spots near fisherman's landing, and found a few hooksets on quality fish. Unfortunately both fish missed the net, the first one may have broken my all-time longest bass for the Turtle. I was able to catch #5 for my online TourneyX event, so I gained some ground after slipping back several places from not fishing for a few weeks.
VIEWS NEAR FISHERMAN'S LANDING AT DUSK AS WE IDLE IN TO THE LAUNCH
THE BEST PLACE TO ESCAPE IS THE SANCTUARY OF A TENT AND TIKI GLOW
MY FAVORITE WAY TO END A DAY OF FIGHTING WAVES WITH A TROLLING MOTOR
RED CEDAR CHAIN OF EVENTS
UNCLE JESSE PUTS A JAMES GANG BOOTYKICKER TO WORK ON HEMLOCK LAKE
Mid-May was leading us on, as it appeared that Mother Nature was going to give us a record early spawn. We had 66 degree water temperatures on May 17, as the bass and northern pike were feeding heavily, and the bass were busy cruising or making beds in spawning areas. Brad Peplinski and I light up 30 bass and 10 northern pike, with most fish caught on a James Gang Fishing BASS JERKER suspending jerk bait in "Bloody Cisco," while a few were caught on James Gang NEST INVADER needles swinging jigs in 1/4 oz size. Zoom Fluke Jrs as well as large spinnerbaits caught the rest of the fish. A return trip two weeks later surprised us as we found water temps back down in the 50s, and a very negative feeding attitude. A few fish were caught on the James Gang BOOTYKICKER, a small walleye on a ned rig, a few smallmouth on a James Gang NEST INVADER, and a few bites on a plastic craw. Both trips I was able to cull out my lowest fish and move up in the standings. I finished in the Top 10 for the month out of 29 anglers, and besides my 18" bass, the rest was a nice 16-17" average to fill by bag limit. It was a lot of fun, and I was very proud of my production on these limited windows of opportunities that I found in the month of May.
It's been a wonderful start to the 2022 Spring fishing season. Summer will be here soon, and after the bass are done with post-spawn, we can enjoy or times froggin and chasing prime time bluegills on the lakes, catfish on the rivers. Always remember to invite a child when you can on your next fishing trip, and focus on relaxing and enjoying the outdoors whenever you get the time!!
A DELICIOUS MEAL OF TAINTER LAKE PANFISH CAUGHT WITH JB'S FISH SAUCE & BEAVERTAIL BAITS
ICE FISHING SEASON IS MELTING AWAY
As spring arrives in Wisconsin, the game fish seasons close, the ice can no longer handle pick-up trucks driving on them, and eventually the safe ice melts off into the open water. This year was a very successful year for many Wisconsin anglers on the ice. First ice in December was its usual dependable self, as the majority of anglers found the fish to be very aggressive as their first jig sightings of the year showed up. As the ice thickened and fishing pressure increased, anglers often had to downsize their approach and use less aggressive colors to activate some feeding to put a few on the ice. Enhancing your presentation with JB'S FISH SAUCE is always a wise choice, as the oil-based scent trail can help convince some "tasters" into "biters" when they are in sampling mode. A great alternative to live bait is using Gullickson's BEAVERTAIL BAITS as a finesse trailer on small tungsten jigs. I find myself almost always cutting them in half (length-wise) with a knife when ice fishing to mimic a spike or silver wiggler vs a large waxie. More often than not, this small detail can really increase your odds of hooking up. I did struggle at times this year because on most trips they really wanted a smaller presentation. I was generating bites but on very small tungsten jigs, which ended up in several lost fish during the retrieve to the hole. There isn't much that you can do in these situations, other than maybe trying to increase drag tension slightly, but not to the point that leads to broken off fish. I guess in the end, I would rather lose a few quality fish than not get bit at all using a bigger presentation. Our good buddies Kevin & Trevor found success this winter with me, and we even got to play with LiveScope for the first time on one of our trips. Live Scope has absolutely exploded in popularity this winter in Wisconsin, and because of that the anglers are able to chase down moving schools of fish instead of waiting for them to cycle through at very slow paces. Fish catching is getting much easier with theis new technology, please responsibly harvest and avoid slaughtering our local fisheries on your best days of the year.
ENJOYING THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES
JAMES GANG FISHING CEO ALEX JAMES HOLDS AN ALLIGATOR IN THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES
Alex James decided to take a week vacation from his schooling and head down to the Florida Everglades for 4 days, hitting the beach, chasing alligators, swimming with dolphins, and catching peacock bass. Alex found his first flight ever to be a pleasant experience, as he made it from Minnesota to Miami, Florida in just 3.5 hours. As he stepped outside of Miami International Airport, he saw his first palm tree and a 60 degree jump in temperature compared to back home in the midwest. Alex had a choice of which Turo rental car to ride in, a 2017 Porsche convertible, or a 2018 Dodge Challenger. Alex chose the Dodge, as the Challenger was one of his favorite cars from Zum Off Rentals. The Lamborghini and the McLaren were slightly above our budget.
TURO RENTAL CAR OF CHOICE FOR THIS TRIP WAS THE 2018 Dodge Challenger V6 WITH 293 HP
Alex had never seen such a large city before, as we drove past skyscrapers and changed lanes quickly in 16 lanes of traffic headed to Hwy 41 West. After 9 miles of craziness, the highway slimmed down to 2 lane traffic straight through the Florida Everglades. The sides of the roads all had guard rails separating them from canals of water and backwaters of the Everglades. Thick trees, vegetation, small Cyprus trees, palms, and tall, wet grasslands were to be seen from all directions. Wildlife is very thick here, as birds were hunting for food. Occasionally you would see parked cars on the side of the freeway as all of this water was public domain, you can fish anywhere! These waters contained saltwater fish as well as alligators. The drive was beautiful for 51 miles as you work from eastern Florida, through Everglades City, to Marco Island on the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way there are plenty of Florida panther signs, and even Gopher Tortoise crossing signs. We didn't see any alligators in the road, or any other wildlife besides turkey vultures. I think the guard rails probably do a pretty good job of keeping them off the road. On day one we arrived at our beautiful and affordable hotel, Port of the Islands Resort in the Everglades located on a gorgeous marina. The property was full of palm trees, and even had alligators and crocodiles hanging around the waterfront. We were fortunate enough to see a manatee in the wild eating next to shore, as well as dolphins attacking a school of mullet fish, and those gators & rare crocs.
PORT OF THE ISLAND RESORT IN THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES IS A GREAT PLACE FOR LODGING!!
WALLY GATOR IS NOT VERY SHY AS HE MAKES LAPS AROUND THE MARINA WATERS AT PORT OF THE ISLANDS
After our exhausting day of flying and driving, we crashed for the night at the Port of the Islands hotel. Since we arrived after dark, we were not aware of how beautiful this property was. Sunrise was unbelievable, the the property was surround by palm trees, yachts, dolphins, and more. The marina was full of houseboats that were in use as the owners enjoyed their time relaxing in the harbor. Alex and I headed to Everglades City to check out what its like to rip through the famous mangroves in Florida in an airboat. We did our research and found that Captain Jacks's was a popular place. After the ride, we were invited to visit their zoo, attend an alligator show, and have Alex hold an alligator for a photo opportunity. The driver was an awesome guy, and he entertained us with some pretty funny comedy over our headsets as we traveled through the crazy mangroves of the Everglades.
EVERYONE ON BOARD WAS SMILING DURING THIS AWESOME AIRBOAT RIDE IN THE EVERGLADES!!
During our trip, we were able to see schools of hungry catfish (that love to eat orange peels) and a solo alligator hiding in the shade in the mangroves. Our driver spun us around for some fun donuts on the water, and ripped through the mangrove tunnels at high speeds. The 30 minute trip was so much fun! At the Wooten's Zoo, we saw lots of wildlife, including wild gators and lots of fish outside their fenced in property. They had a nice gift shop with lots of clothing, dried alligator heads and feet and much more for your display areas of your dining room.
FATHER & SON TEAM OF JAMES GANG FISHING ARE LOVING THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES AFTER AN AIRBOAT RIDE
After our fun looking at alligators and riding on boats, we decided it was time to head to Tigertail Beach on Marco Island, which is located on the Gulf of Mexico. This city is full of picture-perfect mansions on the waterfront. Palm trees everywhere. A slow, relaxing place without heavy traffic. A perfect way to spend the afternoon in the sunlight. Alex enjoyed his first tall waves that the Atlantic Ocean threw at him, but he did not care for the taste of salt-water that he accidentally swallowed more than once. The beachfronts were white & sandy, the water temperature was tolerable, and there was some pelicans hanging around chasing some baitfish for supper. Local real estate was on fire as there were homes listed from $4,000,000-9,000,000! This is a high-dollar beautiful place for retirees that have a solid amount of money invested in their retirement.
TIGERTAIL BEACH AT MARCO ISLAND, FL ON THE Gulf of Mexico
The next day in Florida led us to a drive in the Challenger across the Everglades to Miami, Florida. We drove through all the traffic and skyscrapers to cross the ocean on a bridge to Key Biscayne Island. The final destination was the Miami Seaquarium, a zoo filled with wildlife with marine animals including dolphins, orcas, sea lions, flamingos, manatees, manta rays, sharks, fish, and more! Alex treated himself to an adventure in which he was able to swim with the dolphins in the park for 30 minutes with the dolphin trainers. In this time, Alex was taught hand signals to instruct the fish to do flips and shake "hands" (or fins.) He experienced feeding them fish treats, felt the dolphin's belly, and for the grand finale, Alex grabbed on to a dorsal fin and went for a ride across the entire pool. As an animal-lover that loves being in water, this was the ultimate experience for him. He thought the dolphins were hilarious as they were very fun and playful with everyone.
SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS - HANG ON TIGHT!
After spending the morning with his bottlenose buddies, Alex had me fire up the Dodge Challenger and head back across the Everglades back to the hotel to swim in the 85 degree pool and eat some fresh-caught sea trout, baked to perfection at the Angler's Cove restaurant. Alex said the pool was much better than swimming in the ocean, even though he missed the waves, he did not miss the taste of salt water. The palm trees surrounding the hotel pool were neat to look at, and the large pool had a lot of deep water for him to swim under. We ran out of time to fire up one of the many barbecue grills on the property, but we did find time to search for gators and crocs at the marina and located across the street at the Port of the Isles Recreation Area.
PORTS OF THE ISLANDS POOL IS SCENIC AND HEATED TO 85 DEGREES FOR PERFECT COMFORT
PORT OF THE ISLES RECREATION AREA IS FULL OF REPTILES AND HAS MANATEES PRESENT NEAR THE HWY 41 BRIDGE
PEACOCK BASS FISHING WITH MONSTER MIKE IN MIAMI'S CANALS
A few years ago we were watching another episode of "GOING IKE" with Mike Iaconelli, and there was this hyper, crazy guide named Monster Mike leading Iaconelli down the banks for Miami looking for peacock bass and exotic fish in the clear canal waters. Later on, Mike brought National Geographic Wild's film crew down these same canals to re-connect with Monster Mike on his Miami episode of "FISH MY CITY WITH MIKE IACONELLI." The passion from Monster Mike was as wild as Iaconelli himself, and I thought that this was a guy WE NEED to fish with someday. Since our flight and car rental were based in/out of Miami, we checked with Monster Mike's guiding partner Bryan "The CEO" to see if there was an opening on our final day. We lucked out and were able to book a half-day trip with the 2 guides before heading back home at night with our 8:30pm take-off. We took our final trip across the scenic Everglades Hwy 41 back to Miami to meet the two at their local bait shop. Monster Mike bought out the remaining shiners in inventory as we waited for Bryan "The CEO" to make an appearance. As Bryan pulled up in his HEMI Ram, we fired up the Challenger and followed them through neighborhoods of beautiful homes in southern Miami. We stopped several times as we hole-hopped different canal locations through the day of fishing. On my first cast that hit the water (my first cast was in the trees - or as Monster Mike and Alex called it - I caught a TREE POUNDER) I hooked up into a super aggressive peacock bass! This fish would end up being the smallest one of the day, but even at under 2 lbs it really put up a huge fight!
MY BIGGEST OF MANY PEACOCK BASS THAT I CAUGHT WITH MONSTER MIKE FISHING - THIS ONE APPROACHING 3 LBS
The previous day brought on a cold rain to Miami, and it sure seemed to affect the fishing on this day. We had a very slow start after the first cast peacock that I had landed. Monster Mike and Bryan "THE CEO" made decisions to try other locations. The sun came out and the temperature began climbing, and eventually it turned into the warmest day of our vacation. As the temperature increased, the peacock bass became more aggressive. I was feeling bad as Alex wasn't having any luck, but I was catching them at each location it seemed. We ended up sight-fishing for all of our fish, and I saw a "flared" peacock bass under my feet at stop #2. As I dropped my shiner in front of the colorful fish, a bigger one shot out from the rock undercut on shore and smashed my shiner. I saw it happen so I gave it my best power hookset, and nailed that peacock with all that braided line could handle. It gave me an awesome fight and was easily the biggest one I would catch all day. With a super orange belly, this was one of those that I was hoping to snap a photo of by the end of the day.
As the bite picked up, Alex noticed a pair of peacock bass in front of him at stop #3. He dropped a shiner in front of its face and the smaller one instantly erupted on it. Alex gave it a tournament-style power hookset (jacked him) and he landed his first peacock bass, a colored 2 pounder. While he was holding the fish with Monster Mike for a photo, Bryan "THE CEO" hooked the larger of the pair, so Mike had to hold Alex's fish as he ran to reel in his 2nd peacock bass in less than a minute. This one was much larger, weighing approximately 3.5 pounds! We noticed that this larger fish had a huge lump on his head. Monster Mike & Bryan "THE CEO" said that the trophy peacock bass typically get that lump and grow a much taller back to their shape vs the younger class peacock bass. As we sight-fished the area, Monster Mike continued scouting the shores looking for trophy fish lurking around. After fishing this stop out, he had 2 more on his mind that he really wanted to try out. The next stop would be where Mike Iaconelli was filmed on National Geographic Wild reeling in a large cichlid for the show.
MONSTER MIKE & BRYAN "THE CEO" PUT ALEX ON THE LARGEST FISH TO DATE IN 2022 - A 23" PEACOCK @ 6.75-7 LBS!!!
We hopped back into the Challenger and followed Bryan to the location where Iaconelli was filmed with these two guides. Instantly, Mike notices several peacock bass present as he scouts the banks of the canal. Bryan "THE CEO" sees a trophy busting on the surface numerous times, but finds its way into hiding from us under a thin cloud of debris on top. After a short time, the wind shifted directions and the could of film leaves the area, exposing all of the peacock bass. We caught a few smaller ones, but then I noticed the larger one under my feet. I kept casting at it, getting several missed swipes from the fish. Monster Mike got up close and estimated it to be well over 4 lbs, and was super excited to get one of us on this fish. Monster Mike had us step back towards the truck to prevent spooking the fish. As we stood motionless, he made multiple casts past the fish trying to get it right in the strike zone. After he experienced some missed strikes, the peacock hooked up. Alex quickly took over as we assumed we were dealing with a 4+ pounder. During the fight, the drag was screaming on 20 lb braid, and the fish kept rising towards the top. Once it reached the surface, we realized we were fighting with a GIANT peacock bass! Bryan coached Alex all the way down the shore, reminding him to let the fish take drag, and let the rod do the work before reeling. Monster Mike positioned himself on the bank near the "landing station" that they often use when helping their clients land peacock bass. As he grabbed the fish by the mouth at shore, we all let out an Iaconelli celebration scream - the beast was landed! With incredible colorations and a massive build, this was truly a fish-of-a-lifetime! Monster Mike estimated the weight to be around 6.75-7 lbs with a length of 23." We safely released the fish unharmed after photos and high fives, and will be ordering a fiberglass replica of this trophy peacock bass. These fish have the most stunning colors of all fish in North America, and I highly recommend booking a trip with these two fantastic guides! Monster Mike Fishing can also be found on YouTube, so go ahead and LIKE/SUBSCRIBE to his fishing channel as he puts peacock videos as well as comedy videos on YouTube on a regular basis. Also find him on Instagram to see his entertaining content that he creates with Bryan "THE CEO."
LOVERTAIL 2 Weedless INLINE SPINNER SALE!
LOVERTAIL 2 inline spinners are ON SALE now with FREE shipping! These are great for catching largemouth bass, northern pike, and other large gamefish. Our top 2 fish-catching and selling colors are offered in our current sale - BULL BLUEGILL & WHITE CRAPPIE! For more information, click below to our online store link:
Lovertail 2 Weedless inline spinner BASS
WHAT IS A LOVERTAIL 2? It is a premium-quality weedless IN-LINE SPINNERBAIT! These lures are fantastic around weeds and wood cover, and great for catching that giant kicker bass that you need in the tournaments. Northern Pike LOVE these lures as well, a fun time to be had in Canada!! Throw this lure where you would NEVER dare to throw an in-line spinner!!!! The lure is hand-crafted on a 300# stainless steel wire, using tarnish-resistant nickel-plated blades and beads. Following the beads is a beautiful UMBRELLA-FLARE silicone skirt. A stainless steel split ring attaches a swinging VMC HD weighed hook designed by Bassmaster & MLF WORLD Champion and AOY MIKE IACONELLI.
Check them out in YouTube https://youtu.be/AxCu5ejXchs.
The LOVERTAIL 2 is the top-selling lure crafted by James Gang Fishing Company and will help you catch more 4-5 lb or bigger bass, like it has for Tyler Theide, Kayak Guide, Kevin Rogalski, Pro Staffer, and multiple satisfied customers from Missouri to Louisiana.
JAMES GANG FISHING Lovertail 2 Weedless Inline Spinner in "BULL BLUEGILL"
THANK YOU FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND FEEL FREE TO JOIN OUR JUNE 12 MLF EVENT ON RED CEDAR LAKE. 2 PERSON TEAMS $35/ANGLER. SEARCH "James gang" ON FISH DONKEY APP TO REGISTER!!
2021 JAMES GANG BASS INVITATIONAL
18 ANGLERS PARTICIPATED IN THE OLD ABE MLF EVENT IN 2021
The Event Begins......
The long-awaited 2021 James Gang Bass Invitational was an exciting event for us, since we were forced to cancel all of our 2020 events due to COVID scheduling conflicts. The 18 anglers that showed up on May 22 at Old Abe Lake in NW WI made up for it, with positive attitudes and smiling faces in incredibly comfortable fishing weather. I chose CEO Alex James as my fishing partner, hoping that the soon-to-be 13 year old could finally land himself a Kid's Big Bass Award in his final event before he would no longer be eligible. I began the early spring by scouting new areas to us in the Cobban Bridge area, using our side-imaging to mark ledges and visually look for eddies from the current that is pretty consistent on this body of water. We have fished this flowage many times during the 2000's, but felt the last 5 years that the fishery was losing its ability to produce quality fish. Several outings from 2015-2019 were terrible outings, failing to hook into or even see a single legal bass in all of our trips. Word around the area the last few years was that Old Abe was alive and well, full of the girth smallmouths that attracted us anglers. We thought we would give it a go and prove or disprove what the fisheries status really is.
6 AM equals "LINES IN"
All of the anglers showed up early, giving us the ability to start the event 30 min early at 6AM. We were hoping to see a hot morning top-water bite, as the water temperatures were hinting that we were around the annual spawning season for the local smallmouth bass. Our strategy was to run up river to the previously scouted Cobban Bridge area, as we assumed the bulk of the field would hammer the dam and islands areas close to the boat ramp. To our surprise, not a boat was in sight when we launched our boat! We decided to improvise and simply start fishing at the boat ramp. I began throwing a James Gang Spitter Pop, a heavy duty, hand-carved wooden popper for top-water success. Six minutes into the day, our FISHDONKEY app began blaring a donkey noise, as Doc Gilles registered the first 12+" smallmouth bass of the tournament, weighing in at .75 lbs. This fish put Doc & his partner Todd Lundquist in the lead. His lead would be passed up moments later, when David Xiong boated a 15 oz fish at 6:25 am to take the lead over Doc.
DOC GILLES & TODD LUNDQUIST START THE DAY WITH THE LEAD ON OLD ABE LAKE
ALEX FINDS A POTENTIAL WINNING PATTERN EARLY
JAMES GANG FISHING CEO ALEX & I had prepped our rods with multiple James Gang Fishing lures, as well as a Strike King Rodent 3" and a Strike King Rage Craw in Ned size. Alex had discovered a unique way to rig the Rodent a few years ago while catching nice largemouth on Rock Lake by Bloomer, WI. He found that a VMC HD weighted swimbait hook, with the hitch hiker screwed into the bottom of the front point, gives the rodent a keel shape, resulting in an aggressive walk-the-dog presentation. Even though he knew he had that trick to rely on, he started off by dead-sticking the Rodent (soaked in JB'S FISH SAUCE Pinch O' Garlic mist) in 2' deep spawning areas. It created a reaction quickly, as he began catching quality smallmouth bass on beds right at the boat launch area. at 6:26AM, Alex had landed his first legal bass, a 1.38 lb smallmouth that put him in the lead. 3 minutes later, the FINDONKEY app woke up the lake as Brent Forsman and his 14-year-old son Matthew began finding a strong pattern for themselves, taking over the early lead and the temporary BIG BASS lead with a 2.13 lb smallmouth.
TEAM FORSMAN GOES WILD!
14-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW FORSMAN AND HIS DAD TAKE A COMMANDING LEAD
Brent Forsman and his son Matthew went on an absolute fish-landing frenzy the following half hour. With every check of the FISHDONKEY app, their lead grew, fish after fish, with some quality bass in the 2+lb class. By 6:53 AM, Team Forsman was feeling comfortable with just over 12 lbs verified with the lead. Most of the field was at 1 lb or less. Then 12-year-old Alex began producing a quality fish, as he took his time working the prime areas producing a strong fish here and there. At 6:32AM, he boated fish number 2, a 2.25 lb bass once again on a Baby Rodent.13 minutes later, a Rage Craw Ned in black and blue was fired up near a log, and as his line tightened up he gave the bass a perfect hook-set, and a fight was on. I reminded him to keep pressure on the fish and make sure he doesn't point the rod at it. As I scooped up his girthy giant of a 16+" bass, the weight pushed him to the top of the BIG BASS lead, at 2.81 lbs! Alex single-handedly put us halfway to the Forsman's weight, and high above the other 14 anglers in the field when the first hour of fishing was complete.
BRENT FORSMAN IS PUTTING HIS TEAM ON A GREAT PATTERN
THE REMAINING FIELD COMES IN TO PLAY
CODY SCHEIDLER PUTS THE PRESSURE ON ALEX WITH A 2.44# SMALLMOUTH BASS
As the Alex vs. Forsman show fizzled out for a few hours, the remaining field began registering some fish, including several in the 2 lb class that made it appear that Alex would not retain the lead for 8 hours. We really believed a 3lb bass would be needed to win the Daily Lunker Award for the biggest bass of the day. Just before 8AM, Jon Small and his son Wesley made us very nervous as they put themselves on the board and nearly took the BIG BASS lead with a very thick 2.56 lb bass. 17 minutes later, Cody Sheidler and his partner Shawn Malison put a bass in the boat near 2.5 lbs as well. A little over an hour later, James Buresh and his son Cody put a very nice 2.63 lb smallmouth up towards the top for Big Bass. Team Buresh jumped up the scales at 6.45 lbs and were in contention with as as we tried to gain ground on the Forsmans. Sneaking in the background was a team from Cumberland, slowly edging their way up the entire time, as Jonathon Howell and his partner Dustin was nearly tied with the Buresh team trying to run down the top team with us and Team Buresh.
DUSTIN & HIS PARTNER JONATHON HOWELL OF CUMBERLAND WORKED THEIR WAY UP THE LEADERBOARD THE ENTIRE EVENT
BRENT & MATTHEW BACK IN THE GAME, BUT SO IS ALEX!
Jesse James is an avid fisherman that loves smallmouth bass fishing, loves spending time with his family, with other family-orientated people, and loves seeing children fish. A huge fan of BASSMASTER Elite Mike Iaconelli, like Mike, he is known to be a little strange, and obnoxious, but only to have fun and make people laugh.