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Exploring Beech Lake

It’s been a long while since we’ve been able to update our blog, that’s because it’s been a long while since we’ve been able to go fishing. You know how life tends to get in the way of doing the things you want to do. Well our life really got in the way, last fall Diane and I moved to Tennessee. My plan was to take advantage of the better weather and better work hours and do a lot more fishing. What happened was we started a farm and spent more time than ever working.

We finally changed that. A couple weeks ago Diane and I agreed that from now on, weather permitting, Tuesday is boat day. It doesn’t matter where we go, or how long we go, but we intend to get out every week and do some exploring of the waters of our new home. We decided to start reasonably close to home at Beech Lake in Lexington Tennessee.

Beech Lake is part of the Beech River Watershed Development Authority (BRWDA) and is part of multiple lakes along the watershed. Right downtown in Lexington, TN., it’s 875 acres and has multiple species of bass, sunfish, crappie and catfish. Since we’ve been going when the sun is up and the the temperature is hot, the fishing hasn’t been spectacular, but Diane has managed to catch fish every trip out so far.

Last Tuesday we managed to get out early so we could test the new engine mount trolling motor on the Four Winns (more about that later) and also to test out my homemade mounting brackets for the portable fish finder I use up in Canada. Both worked great, I just need to get used to them now that I have them both working.

Diane’s First Beech Lake Catfish

Things started off a little slow, Diane managed to tease some small blue gills with a night crawler while I played with the trolling motor and tried to get a feel for pushing a big 19 foot bow rider around with a tail mounted trolling motor. Eventually we headed over to a small cove on the west side of the lake and anchored in about 6 feet of water. It was hot, probably too hot to be fishing that shallow, but the wind was blowing and it was the coolest day we’d had in a while so sitting anchored up was nice.

Then Diane tells me she’s hung up in the lily pads. I told her to give it a yank and the next thing I know she’s saying she thinks it’s a fish. From the way it was stripping line I was sure it was a fish, and a nice one. I’m watching her crank like mad and making very little headway with the fish, and what gains she was making were lost each time it got close to the boat. That’s when I realized that I might not have taught her how to set the drag. Sorry honey.

Once we got the drag set she did great getting him to the boat. I forgot the net, again sorry, so I had her come to the back of the boat where I could get a hold of him. Once we got him in the boat and secure I went to remove the hook and it broke in half when I touched it. No doubt that if we hadn’t landed it when we did it would have never made it in to the boat.

Fortunately for Diane though, she caught her first Beech Lake catfish (and you will have to cut me some slack, catfish are not real high on my must catch list so I have no idea what type of catfish this is). Easily the biggest fresh water fish she has ever caught. As you can tell, I think she likes it.

Fishfinders: Exploring A High Tech Solution

Fishfinders are very interesting not only in that they will help you catch “the big one,” but in how they work. In this article we will look at the basic technology behind fishfinders, and demystify some of their inner workings.

The fishfinding starts with SONAR. Your device generates a sound wave and sends it through the water. At first, the sound wave is very narrow, but as it travels it spread out much like the light from a flashlight does.

And just like light will reflect of a shiny surface, the sound wave will bounce off anything it encounters in the water. Hopefully it’s a school of fish – but it could be debris or vegetation. When the sound wave bounces off the object it will change directions and return to your fishfinder.

With the returned signal, your fish finder can compute how far away the object is. If the signal did not hit anything it will continue to the bottom. Soft bottom (mud or plants) will absorb most of the sound. Hard, rocky bottoms will bounce more of the sound back. Your fishfinder can tell the difference and give you a fairly accurate measure of both depth and bottom composition.

That’s the basic method of action.

If it’s that simple though, why are there so many different kinds of fishfinders sold? That’s because there are all kinds of upgrades, tweaks, and extras manufactures use to make the detection more accurate.
For example the sound wave travels in a cone shape. This cone is measures in degrees. Common measurements are around 20 degrees. The larger the degree here, the wider and broader the SONAR coverage.

What’s the right coverage for you? That depends on where you usually fish.

Let’s say your favorite lake is about 10 feet deep. With a beam angle of 20 degrees, your fishfinder will cover an area of only 3 and a half feet. As the water gets deeper the coverage would increase. You could also increase coverage with a wider cone in shallow water.

Some manufactures also use multiple beams for better “all around” coverage. A dual beam model might have a strong, narrow beam right under your boat, and a broader (but slightly weaker) beam spreading out more.

This leads to the next point: RMS power output. You’ll see this number thrown around a lot when reading fishfinder reviews.

In a perfect world, your fishfinder could just as easily find fish 10 feet under your boat, 20 feet to the right, and 200 feet down. But realistically, this would require a large amount of power and be overkill for most anglers. So to compromise and give you the best value possible, fishfinders have to make the best use of their available power and split it across all their sonar beams.

Taking a dual beam model for example: it might have both a 20 and 60 degree beam. The 20 degree beam will offer a cohesive look right under your boat. The 60 degree beam paints a much wider view – but would take exponentially more power to provide the same level of clarity the 20 degree beam provides. Why? Because the beam is larger and to provide clarity 200 feet away, it needs more “oomph” behind it.
If this unit has an RMS power rating of 150 watts, it could sound down to around 900feet. It would be a pretty good mix of up-close and faraway, without breaking the bank. In general the higher the RMS wattage on a fishfinder, the more expensive it will be, and the more accurate it will be.

Understanding Trolling Motors

Trolling motors can be an incredibly helpful – even indispensable – fishing tool, as long as you have the right one for your boat. There’s nothing worse than an underpowered trolling motor, or a battery that dies half-way through a great day on the lake. With the large number of options and motors available, it can be difficult to know which motor to pick. In this guest post, we’ll discuss a few of the most important things to consider and understand when it comes to trolling motors.


Trolling motors are rated by pounds of thrust, and the question of how much power is needed is likely the most common trolling motor question people have. Motors range in power for around 30 lbs of thrust for entry-level models to up to 100 lbs upper-end models designed for heavy, large boats.

The weight of the boat is the most important determinant of how much power is needed.   While boat length can be used as a proxy, boat weight is the best factor to use in order to accurately pick a motor with ample power.

A good rule of thumb is that you’ll want 2 lbs of thrust for every 100 lbs of boat weight. For example, for a 2,000 lbs boat, you’ll want a motor with at least 40 lbs or thrust (2000 / 100 * 2). When calculating, you’ll want to factor in the weight of a fully loaded boat with people, fuel and equipment.

If you’ll be relying on your trolling motor to perform frequently in strong winds or currents, you’ll want to get a stronger motor than otherwise indicated. The previously mentioned rule of thumb is a great baseline for calm water operations, but use in stronger waters will require more power.

Shaft Length

Shaft length often introduces confusion into the trolling motor selection process as many motors come with multiple options. Getting the shaft length right is important. If the shaft is too short, the trolling motor propeller won’t be properly submerged and power will suffer. If the shaft is too long, it makes trolling in shallow waters difficult.

The proper shaft length differs depending on whether a transom or bow mount motor is being used:

Transom Mount: 20” to 25” of the shaft should be submerged

Bow Mount: 25” to 30” of the shaft should be submerged

To determine the proper shaft length for your boat, you’ll need to measure the distance from the bow/transom to the waterline, and then add the previously mentioned “submersion factor”. For instance, if the distance from the bow mounting platform to the waterline in 20”, you’ll want a shaft length in the 45” to 50” range ( 20” plus 25” to 30” submersion factor).

It’s always a good idea to err on the long side (vs the short side) when it comes to shaft length. While you can usually raise the depth of the propeller/shaft with the motor’s sleeve adjustment, it’s impossible to lengthen a shaft that’s too short.

Battery Life

One thing you want to make sure of before pulling the trigger on a new motor is that it has enough power to last all day! Nothing is more frustrating than running out of power when you still want to fish. There are two important things to know when it comes to estimating battery life – battery ratings and amps drawn.

Trolling motors use 12 volt marine batteries, which are rated by amp hours. An 80 amp hour rated battery is capable of delivery a total of 80 amp hours of power on a single charge. This could either be 80 amps delivered for 1 hour, or 20 amps delivered for 4 hours.

While it can sometimes be difficult to find, manufacturers (and good retailers) will be able to tell you how much power a motor draws at maximum speed. A trolling motor that pulled 50 amps at top speed would run for about 2 hours using a 100 amp hour battery before running out of power. Approximating, you could assume the motor would run for about 4 hours at medium speed (pulling 25 amps) and around 14 hours at slow speeds (pulling 7 amps).

A few suggestions to get the most run time possible:

  • At a minimum, get a battery rate for at least 100 amp hours
  • Variable speed motors are more efficient that fixed speed motors, and will run longer
  • Purchasing a more powerful motor than you need will extend your run time. While a 50 lbs motor may draw 50 amps at top speed, an 80 lbs motor may only require 35 amps to produce the same 50 lbs of thrust
  • Make sure you never let your battery become completely depleted as this will significantly shorten it’s life and ability to hold a charge.
  • Once you have an idea of the thrust rating and shaft length you want, you can start looking at individual motors. The two most popular manufacturers or fishing trolling motors are Minn Kota and MotorGuide. While Minn Kota is better known and more popular, MotorGuide usually offers a little bit more motor for the money.

Specific Models

With dozens of different motors available, we’ve recommend a few of our favorite motors in different categories:

Best Value – Bow Mount

It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but the Edge series from Minn Kota is a well-built bow mount motor at a really affordable price point. While MotorGuide usually offers more value, the Minn Kota Edge series beats out MotorGuide’s comparable Freshwater bow mount line in terms of bang-for-the-buck. Edge only offers thrust up to 70 lbs, so this isn’t a great choice for larger boats.

Best Value – Transom Mount

For the money, you can’t beat the VariMax line from MotorGuide. The entry-level transom mount motors are priced similarly to Minn Kota’s Endura line, but also include variable speed motors and battery life indicators (Endura offers neither). Stepping up to similar variable speed models within the Minn Kota line-up will cost $50 to $100 more.

Best Features

Trolling motors have evolved with the times, and now offer some pretty amazing features. The Minn Kota PowerDrive V2 and Terrova series offer AutoPilot, wireless steering and GPS technology. The AutoPilot feature lets the operator set a course, and the motor stays on it without continual control or monitoring. CoPilot is an accessory that offers complete wireless motor control. The Minn Kota i-Pilot accessory uses a built-in GPS to control motor speed and direction, making it possible to re-trace routes or stay in place despite winds and waves. These features are also available on the Minn Kota Riptide ST and SP series, which are similar saltwater version motors.

Best Built

It may not boast fancy Minn Kota i-Pilot technology or wireless control, but the Fortrex line is built like a tank and designed to last. Using heavy-duty materials and single-pivots, the Minn Kota motor is designed to be used, abused, and counted on.

Dragon Baitcaster Revisited

24" Northern Pike

24" Northern Pike

A while back I wrote a review on the Dragon Baitcaster Reel. For those of you that missed it you can read it here.

To recap, I had issues with the reel right out of the box. It was hard to adjust, and after a few casts it started coming apart. For a $70 reel I was expecting more so I contacted OSI with my issues. They promptly shipped me a replacement reel without any hassles at all.

There is no comparison between the reel I had and the reel I have now. I took it with me to Canada for some walleye and pike fishing and abused it. For those of you that have caught 30″ pike, you know that they put up a lot of fight for their size, and they can strip line with the fastest fish in the water. The Dragon reel held up just fine. Once set it stayed set, and after hammering it for hours on end it showed no signs of breaking down any time soon.

So what happened? I can only guess based on my past life in manufacturing. Once in a while a bad part slips through. The important issue after that is how the company reacts. I was more than happy with the customer service and the quick replacement of the defective reel. And I’m thinking that this may become a standard reel in my box of goodies when I plan to do some casting.

We’ll see after I get back out to this new spot we found on the St. Joe River in Mishawaka. 😉

Don’t Be Afraid Little Duck-Walleye Fishing Short Lake

(Dave) Ice out was early, weather was looking nice, water temperature was up, and water level down. All good signs for stellar walleye fishing on Short Lake in Northern Ontario with Mattice Lake Outfitters… we weren’t disappointed. Our entire group caught more walleye than we have in a long time and nice sized ones. Two of us landed walleye measuring 26 inches and there were plenty in the 21 inch plus range.

Jig Hooked WeedlessThe lack of winter snow left the water   levels down further than we expected but the walleye were holed up and when you got on them, you REALLY got on them. The weather was great and the only real rain we got came overnight. We were predominantly jig fishing, with our jigs hooked weedless because of all the timber, and tipped with a night crawler. Pink, white, and pink and white were the favorite colors again this year. But there were times… many of them… where it didn’t matter what you dropped over the side.

(Steve) We were fishing? The last time we were up here I barely remember anything. It’s sort of a blur. This year’s trip was nothing short of amazing. As Dave said, the weather was perfect, in some cases almost too perfect. We found ourselves hoping for a little wind to get the walleye chop up and running. Note to self, be careful what you wish for, we do a lot of back trolling and 1 foot waves hitting the back of a boat going backwards tends to fill the back of the boat with water pretty fast. If only my bailing bucket hadn’t mysteriously vanished.

hehehehe… The bailing bucket ended up in the back of MY boat where it belonged. It was the first year I had a ‘leaker’ so I’m not complaining. I suppose there was a reason it was on shore, upside down, and without a motor.

This year we took along another Canadian newbie, Ted, to go fishing with us. Ted fishes a lot but had never seen or, or believed, the kind of fishing there is up there. His second catch he landed a 26″ fat walleye. I know that isn’t much for you Lake Erie fishermen, but up here that is a huge fish. The fishing was slow by Short Lake standards until the middle of day 2 when the winds finally picked and started driving walleye in to the now famous Osty Hole.

I went to school with Ted. He’s always smiling and laughing and it was a real pleasure he was able to join us. The Osty Hole… the water was only 3-5 foot deep and what was once the structure we fished in years prior was now islands. But when the wind was right, the walleye were stacked in there.

That started the first of several runs where you could barely get your line in the water before you hooked a fish. Much of the video we have posted was shot there and in a 15 minute span 6 of us caught more than 40 fish.

Yeah and that wasn’t the only “hot spot”. Many of the group had their favorite spots and caught more fish than they have in many years. One such spot was my favorite and Ted and I hit it late one afternoon. The amount of fish was simply insane. We couldn’t count past 5 before we were hooked up with a walleye. Ted was in the front of the boat (letting his beer get warm because he couldn’t keep the walleye off his line) and at one point looked at me and said… “I’m not using night crawlers anymore, they’re too far away.” We’d have stayed there longer but we figured 40+ walleye each was plenty that afternoon. That and we ran out of beer.

This was the first time I had fished a lake with water far lower than we had ever seen before. It was eye opening to see the details of the underwater structure we had been fishing. Assuming that the water is up next year, we will have a huge advantage against the walleye and all their little hiding places. The other eye opening aspect was all of the new hidden danger. What used to be high speed travel channels were now opportunities to do serious harm to both boat and boater so all travel was kept at a slow place while we relearned the routes.

Definitely. Water was down 4-6 feet in my estimation. Amazing what “pops up” when it’s down that much. Fortunately the fishing was great in many spots within 15-20 minutes of camp so we didn’t have to relearn a lot.

We also saw more wildlife this year than in years previous. Moose, ducks, geese, a few bear, even a beaver building a new hutch to replace the one that is sure to become the mother-in-law’s quarters since it is now out of water. But mostly we were entertained by a trio of snowshoe hares that decided that our camp site was the perfect place to have a high speed game of tag.

And for the record, at 3am, on a moonless night, while half asleep, trying to ‘relieve yourself’ behind a tree, it’s very hard to tell just how big something is when you hear its footsteps racing up behind you. All I have to say is that rabbit was wrong.. Dead wrong..

lol… Next time wake me up so I can grab the camera… film at 11.

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How To Fillet a Walleye

Dave takes some time from catching Walleye to show us how he manages to get a perfect, boneless, walleye filet every single time.

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Say What? Grouper Fishing with Captain Sean Black

Ah, spring time in Florida. Mid April is the time to be there, the weather is great and the snow birds are on their way up north leaving lots of room on the roads and in the restaurants for those of us looking to relax. And what better way to relax than by heading out on a fishing charter in the Gulf of Mexico? After asking around we decide to give Capt. Sean Black and the Say What a chance to show us a great time on the water.

Unfortunately it seems that our history of doing things the hard way continues to plague David and me.

Sure seems that way. We arrived on Marco Island on Saturday evening. Steve and I had our full day charter with Capt’n Sean on Monday. Gave us chance to unwind, spend the day Sunday shopping for food (and beer) and general site seeing. The full day charter on Monday would work out perfect! We didn’t have solid plans on Tuesday so we could just relax and unwind by the pool at the house if we liked, fish off the dock, and have fish to eat for the upcoming week.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Steve with a Grey Snapper

Steve with a Grey Snapper

We talked with Capt. Sean on Sunday night and he suggested that we reschedule for Wednesday. It meant juggling our boat rentals a bit, but better weather on the Gulf is worth waiting for. So we took Monday off and puttered around the island and fished from the dock at the house.

Not such a bad thing,  just hanging around the house. Fishing off the dock wasn’t exactly “trophy time” but fun just the same. But not only did we have to juggle boat rentals (the marina we were renting from wasn’t all smiles) but meals as well since we were planning on having fresh fish that we caught during the week.

Tuesday night rolls along and I give Capt. Sean a call to confirm everything for Wed. morning and he says those dreaded words, “I was just about to call you”. Crap. I hate when people say that. Those words are usually followed by a variation of, you’ll never guess what happened, or, you aren’t going to like this.

Capt. Sean broke his boat. Seriously. I think he’s been reading our blog and wanted to screw with us. Unfortunately for him he broke a shaft and lost a prop while in the Gulf on Tuesday with another charter. The good news is that the marina says that they can have him back in the water by 4:30 on Wed. and we can go out on Thursday. Another phone call to the marina we are renting our boat from to change our schedule with them, again, and we are set for fishing on Thursday.

Now the marina is really not happy since they lost another day’s boat rental. But they did end up with 2 out of the 3 days anyway.

Thursday morning rolls around, weather is gorgeous and we were all primed for a day out on the Gulf Fishing. We met Captain Sean, and his deck hand Captain Ron, this morning. Unfortunately, there were still a few things that needed to be done to the boat so we were about an hour late going out. No matter, what’s an hour in the grand scheme of things? Out to the Gulf of Mexico we headed while chatting and getting to each other a bit better on the way.

It turned out that I would have loved to have that hour back.

We traveled about 45 minutes to our first fishing spot and got out the light tackle to fish for some live bait and see what was up with the water. BAM! Right off the bat Dave and I caught a few small groupers and then the sharks showed up. Way too many sharks so we were off again. Switch to heavy gear and start looking for grouper at around 75 feet. We were using frozen bait, squid and pin fish.

None of us had fished with circle hooks before so we were on a sharp learning curve for getting the fish hooked up and to the surface. We all missed fish, but the fishing was very hit or miss. So every hit that we missed was a huge let down. We did have a few big hits. We are leaning toward goliath grouper hitting the line based on how hard they hit and went straight down. This was really hard on Diane, it was all she could do to hold on to the pole and yell for help.

This leads me in to a common complaint with every charter we have ever been on. Not enough training before we try to fish. I’m not saying we need to spend half the day learning to fish, but spending an hour in the morning on light gear learning how fish the local waters would have made the day a lot more enjoyable, especially for the girls. Poor Vicki spent much of the day just wondering why she wasn’t catching any fish. This isn’t a direct complaint at Capt. Sean, but a complaint on the way the industry as a whole treats charters. Especially with vacationers who are fishing the waters for the first time.

Also to add, every Charter has (or better have) fishing belts. You can put the handle end of the rod in the slot of the belt, grab the rod higher up for better leverage and have a free hand for reeling. Now I wished I would have had one later in the day, but at the very least, it should have been automatic for our wives. Why we weren’t set up with these only Capt’n Sean knows.

The View

The view for much of the day

Capt. Sean worked very hard trying to find fish for us. We put a lot of miles on the boat running from spot to spot, so I can’t fault him for not trying. And while Dave and I understand the need to find the fish, I know that Diane and Vicki were both getting tired of hearing, “pull em up we’re moving”.  At some point it would have made more sense to just stay put and fish for whatever was there rather than spend half the day running from spot to spot.

I echo the same sentiments. Captain Sean worked very hard to put us on fish… 5 star hard. I don’t know the waters… he does… and came with high praise from several people. But I tend to agree with Steve, as the day waned, it would have been nice to simply get on some fish, hang around a bit so we all could enjoy “catching” a little bit more. Who knows, perhaps a couple extra for cooler.

Remember when I mentioned I wished I had a fishing belt? Well, on the way back in, we stopped at our last spot for the day… a wreck. Point #1… when fishing a wreck, would be nice for the Captain to tell us and let us know a bit about “how” to fish a wreck.

We weren’t there very long, something grabbed hold of my line, then proceded to go straight down… fast. It was all I could do to hold on to rod with both hands watching as line raced of my reel. The whole time, Captain Sean was hollering “Get it Up! Get it Up!” (This is the part where the belt would have been VERY handly) Sadly, whatever it was, got into the wreck and was gone.

A very short time after that, same thing. Me, clutching my rod with both hands for all I was worth while line raced out. “Get It Up! Get it Up”… then nothing. Upon reeling in, the end of the line had the tell tale signs of a knot that failed. It happens. It wasn’t until after the fact, when I specifically asked Captain Sean if I should have increased the drag, that he told me that I should be using my thumb on the spool to slow the line going out. Point #2… would have been nice to know this before hand, at the very least, before the same thing happened a second time. Now I know.



It sort of sounds like we are beating up on Sean, and we really aren’t. It’s just the nature of charter fishing, a nature I would love to see change a bit. Maybe even start off the day with just asking the client, is your goal a full limit or to just catch fish and have fun? In our case it would be to have more fun even if it meant not hitting our limit. That said, I hit my limit 🙂

I need to chime in here. Not beating up on Captain Sean. I would definitely charter him again. But as Steve pointed out, it’s simply the nature of  charter fishing. I learned a lot about ‘how’ to fish just not quite soon enough. I’m a better fisherman than I was because of our trip.

If you find yourself down in Southwest Florida, and looking to do some Gulf of Mexico fishing, you could certainly do a LOT worse that Capt. Sean Black and the Say What? Charter. I’m pretty sure we are planning to use him next time we are down there, unless someone wants to volunteer to take us out for free in exchange for a little review here on Lunker Links.

I’m just sayin’

Dragon Baitcaster Reel Review

Our friends over at Easy2Hook have started selling their own line of baitcaster reels recently. I was looking to buy a new low profile baitcaster and though I would give them a shot, so I order a Dragon baitcaster reel.

The reel is a 6+1 ball bearing low profile baitcaster that comes in a right hand crank only design. The reel looks great out of the box and is very light. Additional features include a magnetic cast control system to help with overruns, 6.1:1 gear ratio, and holds about 130 yards of 12 pound line. I loaded the reel with 14 lbs Berkley Crystal Fire Line and took the Dragon with me fishing down to Marco Island, Fl., to give it a serious workout in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The first thing I noticed right out of the box was the the reel came with no set up instructions. This wasn’t a big deal for me, but if this is your first baitcaster with a magnetic drag you may find it to be a huge challenge to set up. I would love to see a small insert that explains the 3 drag adjustments. The reel also seemed a bit stiff to start with.

I put a medium weight spoon on the line and started playing with it while standing on the dock. Almost immediately I had an issue. On the third cast the brass line guide popped out and hung up in one of the guides on the rod. this caused a massive overrun on the spool and I ended up cutting out some 20 yards of line to clear out the mess. You can see the missing guide if you compare the two pictures.

I did end up using the reel most of the week. It worked better with heavier lures and really suffered in anything other than a downwind cast. And on real long casts it made a very high pitched squealing noise that was annoying. But, it did have some distance to it, or maybe it was my 6′ 3″ leverage going to town on it.

Toward the end of the week I noticed a clicking noise while reeling in and didn’t really figure out what the issue was until I took the above picture. At some point the line carrier guide shaft detached from the inside of the reel. Under load it let the line carrier move and jam and that was causing the clicking noises I was hearing.

When I got home I talked with the guys at Easy2Hook about the reel and the issues I had. No questions asked, they said send it back and they would gladly replace it. At this point I’m reserving judgment on the reel because this could have been a random bad reel, but I can say that the customer service is top notch. I should have the replacement reel in hand in a few days and after I get a chance to fish with it a few times I’ll be writing a follow up review to give my final thoughts on this reel.

USGS Real-Time Water Data

USGA Real Time Water Data

USGA Real Time Water Data

While sitting in the truck yesterday, looking at the frozen St. Joe River and then seeing all that water coming over the Elkhart dam, I got to wondering if there was a way to check water levels of the river near me. And no, that rock strike that tore apart my prop and bent the drive shaft on my boat had NOTHING to do with my curiosity. Nothing!

While do some searching I stumbled across our old friends as the USGS and their real time water data charts. While not “exactly” real time, most of the data is between 1 and 4 hours old. That’s real time enough for me. And since you can create custom charts, and they show historical data you can plan your next river adventure to match your favorite fishing conditions.

You start by clicking the state you will be fishing in and then you can pull up all of the rivers in that state. Select where you plan to fish, in this case I’m thinking downtown Chicago could be a lot of fun on the Chicago River.

The things that are most obvious and useful are the gauge height and discharge rate. The gauge height is based on the height above or below the set gauge or zero point. A 0 gauge does not mean no water, just that the water is at the level the USGS decided was a good average point. A gauge height of 10′ could be flood stage levels in many places, while a gauge height of 3′ could just be a very high water level.

The discharge rate is the volume of water moving over a set point in cubic feet per second. This chart also shows you a historical average discharge rate so that you can compare water flow with historical averages. You might want to stay away from rivers flowing at 5 or 6 times their historical average.

So the next time you decide to hit the rivers for a little fishing, it may make sense to take a look at the USGS charts for the previous week to help you make your best fishing location choices.

No knot hooks

Take a look at our very first video review. Easy2Hook sent us some free hooks to test and I sort of like them. To order some for yourself head over to their website at http://www.outdoorspecialtyinnovations.com/. Be sure to let them know who sent you to them 🙂

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