The ice is finally MORE THAN SAFE!!!!!
After a dragged out start to the early ice fishing season, we were pounded with nasty arctic temps for weeks, resulting in very thick ice all over Wisconsin. We fished a lake yesterday in Rusk County that had roughly 15-20" of ice on it, and just a few weeks ago, you would have been crazy to even be walking on it. It sure is nice to drive your WRX turbo with snow tires to your fishing hole and not have to drag all of your stuff all over. And quick heat when you are done is never a bad thing, either.
Yesterday, we fished our favorite lake for numbers of smaller fish in Rusk County. Typically you can catch 5-7" panfish VERY quickly, and once in a while an 8+" fish will be landed. We have been pleasantly surprised both in 2017 and 2018 to find the sizes to be up, probably an average of 2" per fish, on this lake in which I have spent the last 15 years ice fishing. Yesterday's visit was very very unique. The fish were present in large numbers. Our typical approach is start out with an aggressive flirty girty color and size, typically size #8 in white or chartreuse. My dad, Steve, started out with a chartreuse #8 and I chose to run with an Acme 3mm small golden nugget tungsten jig. We did not buy any live bait, we went with the Gullickson's Beavertail Baits that I bought in early winter. My dad had several follows, but no biters. My dad downsized to a smaller flirty girty in the super-subtle color purple, my go to in tough situations. I had the same poor results with my finesse jig. My beavertail was a wider cut, so I chose to modify it by cutting it half as wide. I then added JB's Fish Sauce as well, in "CRAWFISH" scent. Instant bites! As soon as they scented it, the school ignited and became competitive. The strange thing is they were not partial to either jig. The only way we could hook them is to ignite the school, then alternate jigs during a few minute feeding flurry of bites. Then it would fade off, we would hole hop, come back and eventually get a fish to rise several feet in front of the school and ignite them again. We played this game about 2 hours straight and were able to land around 30 fish, 12 in which were keepers for us. We both believe JB's Fish sauce was a major factor in getting bites this day!
We had a blast celebrating my dad's fresh retirement and my upcoming 40th birthday on the ice together. We will have even more fun filling our guts with tasty meat, unfortunately this was the only trip EVER where bluegills were not a factor on this particular lake. Bluegills are my favorite fish to eat! But we will NEVER complain about a 9" perch to fry up. On this trip I landed one that had 5 stripes on one side, TEN on the other!!! What a weird deal. But it sure looked cool pretending to be a smallmouth bass!!!
A POTATO LAKE YELLOW PERCH WITH DOUBLE THE STRIPES ON ITS RIGHT SIDE!!
"PAPA" STEVE CATCHES A 9" YELLOW PERCH USING A FLIRTY GIRTY WITH JB'S FISH SAUCE & A GULLICKSON'S BEAVERTAIL BAIT IN MID-JANUARY
MARTINEK FINDS THE 10's and 11's?????
JAMES GANG PRO STAFFER KEVIN MARTINEK IS ACCOMPANIED BY CEO ALEX JAMES AS HE LANDS HIS FIFTH BLUEGILL OVER 10" IN 24 HOURS!
Kevin Martinek decided the James Gang needed to have a little fun this January, as he pulled some strings to get us permission to fish a very special private lake in Northern Wisconsin. We made plans weeks ago, but cancelled twice due to brutal weather and dangerous ice weeks ago. He timed it out perfectly today as we had a nice front rolling in here in a few days, helping the bite improve, and warming the air up for some comfort on the lake. This particular lake has had quite a history with Kevin and his family, including an 11.5" bluegill weighing 1 lb 12 oz, a yellow perch weighing 2 lbs 4 oz, a largemouth bass weighing 7.5 pounds, and a very thick crappie for Kevin over 2 lbs as well in the past. Every trip doesn't guarantee a giant, but the potential is there. This protected lake is far from over-pressured, so the fish simply get old.
SUNRISE IN SAWYER COUNTY WISCONSIN
Kevin and fellow Pro-Staffer Doc Gilles made the trip a day early to scope it out, and get us on fish. What Kevin did yesterday morning was incredible, 40 fish, with FOUR bluegills over TEN INCHES LONG, including an ELEVEN INCH BLUEGILL, which we assume weighs more than a pound! What an incredible outing! Kevin kept only 12 fish, and intends on bringing his 11" to the taxidermist. The color of this fish is amazing, with bright, "powder blue" all over its face and gill plate. This fish is a true trophy!
Pro Staffer KEVIN MARTINEK WITH A 10.5" & 11" PAIR OF TROPHY WI BLUEGILLS
CAN CEO ALEX TOP BIG KEVIN'S MONSTER DAY???
Kevin didn't even give us a chance! He didn't slow down today either, well not enough. I mean he only got a 10.5" and this 9.75" pictured above. We weren't even close! Alex will get his revenge someday though. Alex did land a few though, and he spent the rest of the day clearing out our holes in the ice laying on the snow being goofy, following Doc when he checked tip ups, following Kevin trying to learn where to pick a good place to drill a hole, making snow angels, and eating snacks. No complaints at all from the boss, he had a blast enjoying nature and the warm weather that rolled through. He even found time to be silly. Like most of the day, that is. We headed home in the early afternoon and left very worn out and happy.
ALEX JAMES DOING A DANCE WHILE DOC DRILLS WITH HIS 3 HP JIFFY
ALEX FOUND A WAY TO BEAT KEVIN'S BIG GILL!!!!
3 JAMES GANG MEMBERS - KEVIN M, ALEX, & DOC
WHITE BEARDED ANGLER WITH AN 11.5" BLACK CRAPPIE
THE DOCTOR & JESSE JAMES "CALL IT A DAY"
Kevin Rogalski did some damage as well on Otter Lake this weekend....
BEE WHACKER Buzzbait Update.....
We are very excited to present our Bee Whacker now that we finished its improvements. Also the JUNEBUG (black & purple) color has turned out just gorgeous. We decided to make a quick extra parts order because the demand for this color is pretty high and our quantity planned was very low. This lure is going to catch some serious bass this summer, and I can't wait to prove it! Our new version has a longer main body, to create space between the buzzers and the skirt, the lure has a marble body added to increase casting distance, and the Kalin's Scrub trailer we added is really going to kick water and complement the obnoxious buzzers. Also the size of the Scrubs is just perfect for the 5/0 flipping hook on the lure. Buzzbait fans and topwater fans, you will want to try this lure out this summer!!
6 YEAR OLD KALEB G. ISN'T SLOWING DOWN!!!!
2017 JAMES GANG BASS CONTEST WINNER KALEB G. WITH A TEXAS BASS CAUGHT ON OUR BABY SQUID BAIT THIS MONTH
AND TO FINISH....GO UW-STOUT!!!!!!
The UW-Stout fishing team will be competing in the National BASSMASTERS CARHARTT college series next week on Toledo Bend Reservoir in Lousiana. Team President Zach Hansen stopped over to visit our operations this week, as well as pick up a few baits and some Fish Sauce to use down in the tournament. The tournament weigh in will be online Thurs-Sat at www.bassmaster.com. Watch for team Stout and root them on!
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.