April, May and June 2021

April Perch
Manistee, Lk

Strip Teazer LT
5/15/21 Lk. MI

5/30/21 Fairport, MI
Salmon Buster spoon

6/25/21 Strip Teazer
GhostBuster 10" Combo


Click here for my first Salmon I caught on Oct. 1, 1968

Archived Daily Log 
(Dating back to the year 2000)

6/30/21  My bench of fishing contacts is getting pretty thin.  Life has taken it toll on former fishing buds.  Some have passed away.  Others medical issues come into play. 
Fishing with friends and having a few laughs is a cherished memory never forgotten.  My sources for fishing reports dating back 20 years has dried up too for the same reasons.
              4th of July weekend is when summer hits full tilt in Manistee, MI.  Hope to take a few days off early next week before the summer rush.  3rd week of July is the kick off for adult summer Kings.  Once that starts? ...time off won't happen till the end of August.

6/29/21  Today's topic is catching Kings is EZ.  These are aggressive fish that grow from 1/4" egg into a 25-30 pound adult in 5 years.  MI does not have any other specie of fish that has this growth rate.  Kings are programmed to hit/feed as much as possible.
               Locating them is the hard part in today's fishery.  Used to be, find the bait and you'll find the Salmon.  This is a double edged sword, because in these times, bait can be scarce.  So, are the Kings with historic low numbers from the Little Manistee Weir data.
               There are local hotspots with lots of bait.  The extreme NW corner of Lk. MI from Escanaba to maybe Manistique has plenty of bait and respectable numbers of Kings.
               If I wasn't swamped with work? ...I'd done a trip to the UP yesterday.

6/28/21  Productive weekend.  Spoon inventory is in good shape.  Strips continue to be a problem keeping in-stock.  That's why I worked the weekend to keep my head above water.  Figure time spent now will allow me to go fishing that's only a distant dream for now.  Reason I'm pushing myself this hard?  I'm only a little over a 1/3 of the way to being in the black with our Strip Teazers. 
              Tooling cost is the big bite with injection machine and custom designed CAD molds being the lion's share.  Extended glow colorants come in around 5k.  Made sure not to underfund the strip project.  Previous cheapie strips have never gained wide scale fleet acceptance and failed.  Made sure to avoid this pitfall.

6/27/21  Spoon production day.  Inventory is low on several of our spoons.  4.65s are outselling the standard 4.0 model.  Should be caught up by the end of today.
               Mentioned yesterday about the trial and tribulations of our Strip Teazers.  This is what you get when a raw base product transformed into fish catching tackle.  Strips start life in a 5 gallon bucket.  So, this is a ground-up operation from scratch.

6/26/21  Before even making prototype strips last year, watched several You Tube videos about making soft plastics.  Little did I know, what I watched was for hobbyists that injected a mold for a few lures.  So, I thought? ...hey, this was easy!  ...Wrong!
              Making production runs of over 100 pieces is labor intensive.  Granted it's not hard labor, but it's a process that uses a lot of time.  1. premix the goop with scent.  2. add color/flake.  3. heat to over 350° to change a liquid into a  solid.  4. Load machine, or hand injector.  5. shoot the molds.  6. remove parts from molds.  7. trim sprues.  8. hang to cure.  9. remove hangers to apply more scent.  10.  Finally, package ready to sell.
              This is on the short side is a 3 day process.  Usually more to get a better cure.  After pouring 25 gallons of soft plastics, learned the hard way this is a tough job.  If I even had an inkling of the time involved, doubt I would have ever went down this road.

6/25/21  Haven't spoke much about our Salmon Buster™ spoon this year with our strips grabbing most of the attention.  Our spoons rank 3rd in sales.  Meat heads are number 1. Strips in second place.  3rd place is big deal being ahead of our flashers and meat rigs™.
               Salmon Buster spoons are almost a forever purchase proven by Top 40 Charter's featured pic of the day, a 4.65 Pearl Passion spoon with a decent King.
               Know this spoon is the best part of 5 years old and still catching fish.  Minus a few teeth-mark scratches, this spoon will last a lifetime.  How many spoons do you have that are still in service 5 years after date of purchase?  Click 6/22/21 Top 40's spoon
                      Tomorrow? ...what I've learned about making strips.

6/24/21  After 3 tries finally nailed the Black Mamba Glo Strip Teazers.  1st effort the black peeled and are being warranted.  2nd try looked like 3rd graders did it.  3rd was a charm when I did the final mix yesterday.  Good this is the photo does not do it justice.
             That's OK, because after the purchase, ...seen in person, it looks even better.  This is opposite of McDonald's golden arches where the burger photo looks yummy. 
              Then, when you open it up? ...your Big Mac looks like was made by a bunch of one-arm howler monkeys. Click Blk Mamba Glo Strip Teazer

6/23/21  Side tracked yesterday with a heavy workload in the am.  Today's focus is contrasting blends of color in our 2 tone glow Strip Teazer soft plastic fish chow.
                Most glow lures of and kind ...spend the majority of their water time in daylight conditions.  Have a bi-color like in our XG Frogs, Super Smurfs and Green D.G. adds another plus on your side when there's 2 colors rotating and flashing: BITE ME!
                We already know solid glow colors work.  Proved that last August. 

6/22/21 Today's topic is scheduled to be about glow lures that spend the majority of their usage in full light.  This will have to wait until all orders in the queue are shipped.

6/21/21  Posted a photo of a 31 pound King caught last Thursday out of Fairport.  Fairport is just west of Manistique, MI.  So, I'm semi familiar with this part of MI's UP.
              Word is the this northern part of LK. MI is choked with bait/Alewives.  Quality for now describes this fishery with Kings way over 20 pounds.  Just not in big numbers yet.
             Today's photo shows it's hard to grasp the actual size of this fish with nothing as a reference point for scale.  My thanks for Reid for sending it in. Click Reid's 31lb King
                        This jumbo King came on a Super Smurf Strip Teazer.

6/18/21  Father's Day Weekend and time to share some one on one time with your dad.  Life does have an expiration date.  So, make the most of this special day.  My father has long since passed and this opportunity no longer exists for me. 
              Taking the weekend off.  Been burning the candle at both ends and in the middle.  We all need personal time to recharge.   Be back Monday with a 31lb King pic.

6/17/21  Today's featured test photo shows exactly how to ruin our soft plastic herring replacement strips.  Top 2 strips were soaked/submerged in baitfish oil.  This shrunk and hardened ...turning into hard plastic, worthless chunks of junk.  This test happened over a period of 10 months going back to August of 2020.  Plus, it removed any hint of color.
              Bottom 2 were strips made in clay molds.  They were processed with a light coating of the same fish oil.  Then, stored in our clear cello-bags that we use now.
              Outcome is obvious with the top 2 being reduced in size.  Found out from the manufacturer, too much fish oil will remove the plasticizers in the soft plastic.
              More on test soon.  This is an important subject that needs more depth.

6/16/21  Strip Teazers are a great insurance policy of never having bait to fish with.  These strips can live aboard.  This means no extra ice/cooler for bait.  Brine is another bothersome steps that eliminated with the jar.  This means no spills.
              I have to keep reminding myself I'm not Superman when it comes to building tackle.  The covid crisis wipeout a lot of our reserve tackle inventory.  Only recently we were able to hire more help that's still learning the job.  Be prepared for a 2-3 day wait when it comes to items we have to make to get out the door.
             Tomorrow? ...long term strip test revealed on what not to do!

6/15/21  World debut of our new 2021 King Smurf Glo Strip Teazers.  Added a light trace of blue flake to help identify this pattern.  This is our brightest blue glow teazer.  You can expect a high intensity blue glow for a good 30 minutes.  Then, it dims over time.  At the 4 hour mark something weird happens, because it changes to a dim white glow.
             When ever my next trip happens, know I'll pair this color up with our popular XG-Smurf combo/meat rig™/flasher. Click new King Smurf Glo Strip Teazer

6/14/21  Yesterday's featured photo confirms how versatile our Super Mag heads are.  Never tested Strip Teazers with the Super Mags.  Just didn't have the time.  Mags and Super Mags are the same size, with the supers having a larger pocket for whole bait. My thanks to Reid R for sharing his photos for us to see. Click Super Mag, strip & 24lb King
              Close to 100 baby King Smurf Glos were born yesterday and are undergoing the scent curing process that takes a few days.  The blue glow is off the charts. 
              We just used raw colorant with no whiteners.  Most of the Kings I've seen this year, blue is the common thread.  So, the new 2021 King Smurfs was a no brainer to bring into production.  Photo of this new glow weapons grade tackle tomorrow.

  Reid R. sent in today's featured photo of a 24 pound King he recently caught on a Super Smurf Strip Teazer.  This a great un-staged photo live shot that show cases the strip, as it should.  These are the kind of photos I find most rewarding for all the hard work that went into developing herring replacement strips.  Click Reid's 24lb King 
              King Smurf Strip Teazers are in the labor process and will be born this morning.  We welcome this new addition to our soft plastic herring replacement strip family.

6/12/21  Salmon Buster™ are producing some Pacific Ocean Kings off the central coast of California.  These plastic spoons are a great choice, because they're less effected by the salt water compared to metal spoons.  Waiting for pics of these fish to share.
              Last 3-4 dozen spoons we've sold has went to the west coast.

6/11/21  Productive week for yours truly.  Have 3 new hires that seem to be working out just fine.  3 of the 4 interviewed made the cut.  So, we're in good shape for prime time.
              Handled many business admin tasks yesterday to keep the wheels moving.  Picked up a new tackle store to handle of Strip Teazers in St. Joe, MI.
              Next week, it's supposed to be a bit cooler and strip production will be front row and center.  Following week, all our laminates, or 2 color strips will be next.
             My not in the trenches view of this year's population of Kings is anyone's guess.  Do know, our spring Kings didn't take a whoopin' in southern Lk. MI.  This could mean more in August, or this year's crop is going to be a little bit on the thin side.

6/10/21  Back in May, on my only fishing trip this season tested the plastic push pins used for decoration to peg strips.  These pins worked fine.  Proven when a Lakers chewed on a Black Mamba Glo Strip Teazer.  90% of the time been including these pins as a freebee on ReScent fish oil attractant purchases.  Click pin use and care video demo
              When rigged just for soft plastic strips, our 2 and 3 Fly Meat Rigs™ are equipped with 8mm beads for hook spacers.  Thusly, eliminating toothpicks.
              Today's topic came to mind, because "I thought" these pins would work is a terrible statement until it's proven.  Thoughts mean squat.  Proof on the water does.

6/9/21  There are Coho still being caught in the extreme S end of Lk. MI.  It's about a 6 mile run N of E Chicago, IN to reach 50-60' of water.  Click Strip Teazer Coho
            Today's featured photo is from Tom M who fishes this area.  His first Coho came on a X-Glow Green Strip Teazer.  Tom said this bait wasn't in the water for 10 minutes when a 4-5 pound Coho met his fate.  The growth rate of these Coho continues to amaze me.  What was a 16-17" Coho 2 months ago are now pushing 5 pounds.

6/8/21  Busy, busy, busy with orders since 3am last night.  Today's chat is postponed.
It's better for me to work in the wee hours, because there's no distractions. 
Hired new personal that's still in the training stage to take some of the heat of me.

6/7/21  This coming weekend is the MDNR's free fishing weekend.  Going back to when I used to charter? ...an easy weekend to book.  Cost of a fishing license didn't keep customers away, it was the extra hoops they used to have jump thru.  Online licensing has changed that and made buying a fishing relatively easy.
             Also, no recreational passport is required at state run boat launches and state parks.  This passport is a $12 user fee on top of a user fee paid you camp at state parks.

6/6/21  Day off after I installed 5 new LED light bars in my pole barn where Strip Teazers are now being made.  LEDs that replace fluorescent tube lights burn a lot less juice, don't need replacing, and never have that annoying hum/buzz.
            This week's entries include free fishing weekend and a new X-Glow color that will soon be added to the lineup of our herring replacement strips.  This was a no brainer!

6/5/21  Current hot spell means strong winds from the S that keeps the small boat fleet dockside.  90s are considered not normal for central and northern MI. 
             Last report received from Manistee's shelf was pretty lackluster.  One thing I know about Manistee?  When the first dropoff, or shelf is tough? ...you have to move deeper out to 300' and beyond and hopes to find a few pockets of fish.

6/4/21  Training new help today to machine meat heads.  This is a simple job, once the drill presses are setup.  Difficult part is getting the spacing right.  0.005" room for error and that's not much to centerline the holes for proper placement.
            My ad on Craig's list has been so-so with not many seeking a job that can be done at home, at your own pace.  Hiring help in Manistee County during summer is probably the worst time, because that's when the seasonal tourism jobs kick in.

6/3/21  We all need a place to start when it comes to color choices on what to offer Mr. Fish.  A common thread that goes back to the recent MI City, IN tournament is blue.
            Blue was mentioned in yesterday's report from Steve T. being a blue fly.  I've done OK on spring Kings over the past few seasons on our Icy Blue Salmon Buster™ and XG Bluetail spoons in the 4.0 size, both in Ludington and Manistee.  It's good to see that at least a few Kings are showing up. Click XG Bluetail big Ludington King
            This is the fish that drives our fishery.  Reason? ...tell me of any fisherman that don't who want to do battle and catch a fish over 20 pounds.

6/2/21  Today's fishing report is courtesy of Steve T. who fishes out of Arcadia, MI. 
He's been a member and friend of this website since the early i2ks.  I take his word as gospel.  On 5/30/21 Steve fished a short morning trip 7am to 11am.
             Inside, near shore was all cold water and they trolled out to deeper and found 48° water over 400' of water.  Steve had 6 hits and ended up with 2 Kings to 17 pounds and a couple of Lakers.  Their biggest King, a heartbreaker over 20 came unpegged right at the back of the boat.  Click 17 lb. Lk. MI King Salmon
             Weapons of choice with 10" BTI flashers and flies.  Something I don't mention, or push, but know my BTI flashers are deadly with 2 fly meat rigs™, or flies.

6/1/21  Today's planned discussion about the MDNR's free fishing weekend this June 12th and 13th will be expanded on tomorrow.  3 days off were not enough to catch up on what needs to be done.  In the process of hiring more help that seems to be working out.

5/29/21  Welcome to Memorial Day Weekend 2021.  Weather is cool with frost warning for Manistee, MI.  Lk. MI looks decent to fish.  Sorry have no reports to share.
               Been hard at work revamping my pole barn into a complete workstation to make our Strip Teazers.  Hope to finish this project and start production again soon.
               Have a safe weekend and enjoy the unofficial start of summer.  Taking a few days off and regular updates with fish reports (I hope) will resume this coming Tuesday.

5/28/21  Every cloud is supposed to have it's silver lining.  After seeing the color peeling on the Black Mamba Glow Strip Teazers discovered how good our scent process is. 
              By accident left the dissected strip sit on a sheet of paper 12 hours.  When I went to toss the cutup strips found an oil stain on the paper.  Click paper stain
              We take great care during the curing process once the strips have been injected.  So, after being trolled for 8 miles and sitting on a desk for days, fish oil was time released enough to leave marks on paper.  Impressive is the word that comes to mind.

5/27/21  Did some detective work tracing the color fail/peeling on the Black Mamba Glos.  This model had red flake that did not play nice with the black flake.  It pushed the black out on the top.  While the glow bottom migrated to the top.  Click for this pic
               Cut open both the regular and glow versions of the Black Mamba Strip Teazers.  Turns out the regular, non glow Black Mamba had no issues what-so-ever.
               Any strip that has a problem will be replaced for free with no ship charge.  This is a brand new product and a few hip-cups fine tuning the mix were bound to happen.

5/26/21  This website is on autopilot today.  There's plenty of instructional articles and videos to be reviewed at:  Click for Tips & Trix  Click for our YouTube videos
              Tomorrow's update will be about what's up with our Strip Teazers.

5/25/21  Covid 19 is headed towards the down-low.  This has opened up opportunities to hire more help.  Put an ad in Craig's List and have 3 good candidates I'll be interviewing soon. For this 15 months, Wayne J, my wife and I, just 3 people, did workload of many.
              Wayne helped carry my tackle company doing heads, machining heads, making meat rig strings, and all products requiring the melting of lead.
              Plus, Wayne was instrumental in the development and manufacturing of Strip Teazers.  That's too of a heavy load for just one person.  More on this in the future.

5/24/21  Posted a chart of the surface temp from Manistee to Ludington, MI on 5/21/21.
More recent charts were skewed by cloud cover.  When Manistee lights up with good fishing for spring Kings there will be 50° on the shore-side dropoff (shelf).  On the outside there will be a big temp break with colder waters in the 40° range. Click surface chart
             This is secondhand info from a trusted source about N of Ludington producing decent opportunities for Kings.  Need to confirm this before we take it as gospel.

5/23/21  With the bad comes the good.  After the Black Mamba Glo color peeling issue fail, learned that XG Frog Strip Teazer still had a slight fish smell.  This happened a day later when I cleaning and organizing the boat for the next outing.
               What makes this even better?  This froggy had been in the water and trolled for about 8 miles.  So, our 2021 Re-Scent fish attractant is on point and performed far better than expected.  This is the same juice we used in last Augusts' test sessions.  
              Another thing learned? ...putting scent on will keep the mess down if it's done inside a small plastic container/baggie.  Like something used for sandwiches, or smaller.

5/22/21  Discovered a color flaw in our Black Mamba Glo Strip Teazers.  Top is black and that came off during last week's trip.  Cause was the black flake was allowed to get too hot and rose to the outer part of the strip with poor adherence. 
              Now, this only happened to 1 strip.   Rest could have been fine.  This question will be answered with more testing in the future.  Click for color fail
               It was good to learn of this early in the season.  Working on fix by around June 1st.  Denial  does not make problems go away.  Upgrading them does.
              Any strip that does not perform up to my high standards will be replaced free of charge.  Just email me a photo of the issue, and I'll ship out an improved product.

5/21/21  Got 4 hours of lines in the water time 2 days ago out of my home port of Manistee, MI.  Surface temp was 47°.  Suspended fish marks on the sonar that could have been spring Kings were a no-no.  Made a big loop from 2 miles N of the harbor in 50' out to 200' zigzagging in and out to 120' S about 2 miles S of the pier heads.
              Easy Laker fishing from 2 weeks ago for "up off the bottom" LTs has dried up.  Did manage 1 small Laker we tossed back.  This was my 1st trip with Strip Teazers on all 6 rods.  Did learn a bunch and tested several colors that will be covered in future chats.
              Another first is? ....an all attractor program in May since my spoons came out 5 years ago.  So, this is going to take some dialing in to get this program fine tuned.
           Tomorrow, "de" Nile is not a river in Egypt concerning a product flaw.

5/20/21  Skipping today's update.  Trying to keep up with orders has me burning the candle at both ends.  Looks like I need to hire more help.  Must live in Manistee County due to supply pickup and parts delivery.  All jobs are at least twice the going minimum wage.  If you're looking for at home piece work? Email me for more info

5/19/21  Tangled Tackle in Manistee, MI now carries our 2021 Strip Teazers.  So does Fat Nancy's Tackle Shop in Pulaski N.Y. along with Grimsby Tackle in Grimsby, Ontario.
               Hope to expand to more dealer outlets as the 2021 season progresses.  New injection machine have made mass production a lot easier.
               Congratulations' to Spencer Turnbull  and the Detroit Tigers for his no hitter in Seattle, WA last night.  Since the Tigers became a major league team in 1901 this is only the 8th no hitter ever thrown by a Tiger pitcher.  This is a big deal.  It's great to see some fans back in the ballparks as we crawl our way back to normalcy from Covid 19.

5/18/21  2 days ago crossed into a new realm of production.  In about an hour, Wayne J and I did close to a 100 strips.  This includes time to heat the goop and shoot 12 8-cavity molds.  Plus, we took 2 ten minute breaks waiting the goop to heat and during cool down.
              Prior to purchasing our new injection machine this would have taken hours doing it with hand injectors and never reach the same quality.  Click new SUVs being born
              Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose when it comes to buying new tooling for any type of production.  This was a win-win 10 times over.  Now, in one day, we can get as much accomplished as 3 days by the old style manual hand injector method.
              Working smarter, not harder is the theme of today's chat.  Increased production with less effort now opens up the possibility to offering our strips to tackle stores.

5/17/21  "Tried out the strip teasers this morning.. we used them to sort out small Lakers.  Ended the day keeping our three man limit and releasing 7!!  Half came on strip teasers!  I now need a few other colors to go with!  Thank you for being innovative"
Guest update from Jared G. Detour, MI (Lk. Huron). Click 5.15.21 Strip Teazer Laker
This is reason why we need to ramp up production is from awesome customer acceptance.  With a new product you never know if the fishing public will give it a thumbs up.  In our case, it's been an overwhelming success story.  Keeping enough in stock to handle our web sales has been a chore.  Let alone, make enough to stock tackle stores.
Which is our goal before the summer season arrives.  Tomorrow report on new machine.

5/16/21  Task at hand for today? ...dial-in our new injection machine.  This was a pricey close to a 6k purchase that will boost our production current ceiling of around a 100 strips.
               Injecting the soft plastic by hand is a lot more work than needed.  Know this machine will triple our output from stone-age tech i.e. hand injection.  Full report, photos & a You Tube video will record our 1st steps with the new machine.  Click for machine
               Title of new video? ..."Soft Plastic Injection for Dummies."  Be sure to tune in tomorrow as Wayne J and I work thru the idiosyncrasies without looking like idiots. 
                 Tomorrow? ...the reel-reason we need to up production levels! 

5/15/21  The reel facts about strontium aluminate, Boron oxide, Europium oxide, are used in what's called extended glow colorants.  90% of the glow is used during the first 30 minutes.  Then, it dims, but can still glow for many hours.
              Glow J-Plugs were a staple for harbor patrol when I was a charter skipper.  This glow was not extended and lasted to the outside 15 minutes.  Lit up, or glowed up bright J-Plugs new got hit until the glow subsided/dimmed.  That's when the touchy harbor adult Kings would whack it hard during low light.  So, it's a delicate balance on the right amount of glow that flips the switch for full grown King Salmon.
              Know on evening trips, when the fishing is done, lines are pulled, and we're headed for the dock, all my tackle has the right glow as night falls.  Seeing my tackle glow and it hasn't seen a light source for hours is rewarding for yours truly.  This means I've done my job!

5/14/21  New injection molding company hit a home run with the 2021 production run of  X-Glow heads.  Glow properties are excellent, but there's more to this story.  Having a white head that glows green covers all light conditions.  From total darkness, to low light, up to full sun, these XG heads are a reel-winner.  Click new XG heads
             Feels like we hit the lottery with our new company.  Thrilled to see their quality and attention to detail.  The hoops that we jump thru to get this hard to get, costly XG colorant makes it all worthwhile, ...when I look at today's featured photo

5/13/21  Tons of stuff going on all pointed at restocking tackle for this year and beyond.  Out of stock is the kiss of death when you don't have items to sell.  Yesterday, 101 LED UV black lights restocked.   This the best way I've found to charge glow in the dark tackle and do it fast.  Plus, being LED it's easy on 3 AA batteries. Click UV black lights
              Today some of our 2021 Magnum Meat heads will be in-house and ready for the machining process.  We were down to our last 20 SUV mag heads.  This is a major relief!
               Working on boosting Strip Teazer production that's a dreadfully slow process with hand injectors.  Before we can inject the molds? ...colors have to be mixed.  Then, heated to the proper temperature prior to injecting.  Hanging strips to cure is a process that takes days before strips ever see packaging.  Let alone being shipped out.
              Know today's chat is not as exciting as a double on big summer Kings, but it's all part of the behind the scenes effort that makes the double possible with our tackle.
              Can't be in 2 places at once is the biggest reason I've yet to fish Lk. MI this year.  Covering the bases solo to keep moving forward is a bunch more important.    

5/12/21  Improving weather will end the freeze warnings we've had in Manistee, MI.  This will brighten the outlook to spend some time on Lk. MI.  Hard for me to get motivated when we're averaging 20° below normal.  Wind is going to be down for the next few days. 
              It was a chilly 27° this morning at my place.  Temps this cold can turn docks into frosty ice skating areas dangerous to walk on, if your goal is to start early.
              Everything is pretty much set with our web based tackle store for 2021.  Added a lot of content here about industry leading Strip Teazer herring replacement strips.
              This the time of the year when we run tackle specials to spur sales that are limited time offers that always sell out. Click for 2021 tackle specials

5/11/21  At work installing new Tackle Lockers at our webstore.  These are the popular Plano ProLatch 3731 utility boxes are built to last.  Same as our Leader Lockers™ box, less the inserts.  This is a great way to organize several items in small space (14" x 9-1/8" x 3-1/4").  Special sale price: 3 for 30 bucks, or 10.95 each  Click more info

5/10/21  Best fishing reports I've heard on spring Kings is off Gary, IN in 40' to 50' of water that's holding large schools of Alewives.  Catches are still about 80% Coho with the Kings running from 12 to 17 pounds.  Not much to report on ports further north yet.
              What I noticed is not many Kings over 20 pounds have been caught.  MI City, IN tournament about a week ago only weighed in a King, or 2 over 20.  There were over 60 boats in this event that provides a decent sample size to form a consensus.
              Central Lk. MI ports like Ludington, Manistee and Frankfort should have action on spring Kings in a week, or two.  Until then, the Lake Trout are picking up the slack.

5/8/21  Weather for Mother's Day weekend is going to be OK, compared to this past week.  April and early May temps have been well below long term averages.
             My Thursday fishing trip that turned into a fizzle from the drizzle was a step in the right direction.  Fishing trip prep depends on 3 action cams.  2 GoPros and a Sony that cover all bases like: underwater capture, narration shots and head cam to shoot the fish coming aboard.  Plus, a Nikon P500 for still photos of caught fish and what they ate.
        Have Great Mother's Day.  Be back Monday for regular update/chat sessions.

5/7/21  Planned fishing trip fizzled out with a cold rain that lasted longer then expected.  Decision maker is when I went outside around noon it was chilly 43° in a light drizzle.  Checked the radar at 1pm showed more rain on the way.  This squashed my ambition, want, and need to make my 1st trip of the season.  Want to fish and enjoy the outing.
            Used the time to handle several issues to get our 1st supply of Magnum bait heads for 2021.  Been working with a new company, after my old one went out of business.  SUVs and X-Glow heads were almost out of stock.  Patience won this battle. 
I'm glad to inform you, we will have a supply of heads in all colors for this year & beyond.

5/6/21  Day off for fishing if the forecast stays favorable.  Working on Meat Rigs™ yesterday rigged for Strip Teazers.  3 beads between the hook and tail of the meat head seems perfect.  Plus, it allows for artistic expression coordinating bead colors.
            Hope I can find a spring Salmon or 2 this afternoon.  Reports on LTs have been good, but I don't want to change my last name to Lake Trout.  King sounds a lot better!

5/5/21  Strip Teazer fishing report for you today from Manistee, MI.  Dave V drew first blood with our 2021 Strip Teazer soft plastic herring replacement strips by finishing 3rd in last weekend's MCSFA small boat tournament.  Here's his exact words:

"Sunday May 2nd, 2021  Manistee, MI.   3 fish combo 43.4 lbs. 2 of 3 came on green double glow strip teaser/herring oil."  Dave V.  Click for Dave's catch

Intriguing part is Dave caught this jumbo trio of big Lakers suspended in the water column over 50'-55' of water ...while a Spin N Glo ran tight to the bottom did not produce.  

5/4/21  Tomorrow we will not be shipping orders, unless it's something real simple requiring no assembly.  Want to get my boat out of the pole barn to fish in a few days.  Boat is ace double ready.  Tackle is not.  Must make sure I'm ready to fish everything from spoons to meat rig combos and that means a good selection of Strip Teazers.
            Word from Manistee, MI is some Lakers are being caught.  Heard there were an oddball King being taken every now and then, but don't count on it.  So, this means a wide array of tackle to cover all the bases and that takes time.  Don't get to fish very often and must make sure everything is aboard.  If I try to work and do orders?  There won't be anything left in the tank to hit the pond this Thursday, if the forecast holds true.

5/3/21  Still working on restocking Magnum Meat heads for this year.  This dates back to last January when my former injection molding company closed up shop.
            Do have a new company ready to roll except for one reason.  They have 16 injection molding machines and only enough employees to run half of them.
            I know their longtime existing accounts have priority over my order.  Labor storage is a big problem for our country, as we awaken from the Covid 19 crisis.
            Factor in unemployment compensation that has a lot to do with this.  I can't find fault with anyone making more money staying at home compared to going to work.
            In time this problem will rectify itself as things get back to normal and unemployment benefits run out.  There's a lot of illegal aliens at our southern border who would scoop up these jobs in a heartbeat, if labor shortages are here to stay.

4/30/21  Going to leave this page as is, and take the weekend off.  We all need time to decompress by getting away from the job.  Internet free weekend for yours truly.

4/29/21  Video update not posted before, because this was a long ways from looking professional.  This fish made Wayne J. and I look like Dumb and Dumber.  This was a case of being too careful to showcase what soft plastic strips are capable of.  It was a heart breaker after a long fight to have 25 pound King get wrapped up in the kicker/trolling motor.  Stay tuned for the ending to see how Frit and Frat (Wayne & I) handled this.

Click for Mid Morning Strip Teazer King Video

4/28/21  Finished the 2021 tackle specials at the webstore.  Creating new pages with balanced symmetry explaining the point is rewarding for me.  Having a enough basic webmaster skills to do this has been a godsend.  I know, it's exactly how I want it to look, less explaining it to a second party who's livelihood does not depend on the format.
              New combo specials is what I rely on, when I absolutely must catch.  That's why the FireDot and XG Frog were part of the birthing process of Strip Teazers.  Last August testing sessions relied on only these 2 selections. Click for combo info

4/27/21  Today's featured photo is a scan from 35mm film.  1999 digital cameras were in their infancy.  This photo is from the Bob L. charter.  I estimated at around 400 pounds of Kings.  Most of these fish hit a "00" Firedot in the harbor pulling a green glow squid.  Kicker is? ...we still had a few Kings in the coolers that never made the photo.
               Fast forward my Strip Teazer test sessions last August out of Frankfort, MI we used this same FireDot pattern with a green glow ST.  It's easy to see the parallel of years prior.  When it's August and I absolutely need fish?  The FireDot always earns it keep.
               FireDots will never win a beauty contest.  They will win the battle of putting fish in the boat and have proven this reel fact over last 50 some years.  Timeless, iconic colors don't come with an expiration date.  Click Firedot test specials

4/26/21  In my 50 some years of chasing Salmon on all 5 of our Great Lakes, only a few colors/patterns have reached iconic status.  Some on this list are Green Glow J-Plugs, Silver Streak Yellowtails and silver/chrome attractors. Click 400lb catch Firedot Kings
              Number 1 is Firedot.  First met this yellow school bus with fluorescent red dots as a Manistee Wobbler spoon in 1969.  By the mid 1970s Firedot pattern came on dodgers. 
              Talk about weird? ...1st dodger I saw, then purchased had more in common with a license plate than anything imaginable for for Salmon.  Turned into reel-believer in dodgers the first time I sent them swimming.  Caught some on dodgers, but was never really dialed in until I choked up the leads to 48" to 42" behind the cannonball. 
             Then, it was a quick limit cities for both Kings and Coho off the Lk. MI Port of Frankfort, MI in the 1970s, 1980s into the 1990s.    To be continued...

4/25/21  Fast moving fronts with big temperature swings usually comes with a lot of wind.  Been looking for a decent day with light winds to no avail.  Don't get to fish much and want a comfortable, enjoyable day on the water.  So, I'm biding my time.
              One of the big reasons this website is skinny on early season fish reports from trusted sources is Covid 19.  Some of my best who I counted on for years are recovering from the virus.  One who got sick last January is still in long term recovery mode.
              This is a nasty illness that can last for a longtime.  Get vaccinated!

4/24/21  Planning ahead is what any business is about.  Our focus lately is increasing Strip Teazer output.  It's slow process.  1st is the color mix.  2nd is the heat the soft plastic.  3rd is to load the injectors.  4th is to inject the mold.  5th cool down period to remove the strips from said mold.  6th trim and hang strips with more scent induction.
             None of this is hard, but it takes time.  My best day on output pushed 80 strips.  Staying around 50-60 is a lot more reasonable with safety precautions in place.
             My biggest concern is once the fleet starts catching ST fish, like Wayne J and I did last August out of Frankfort, MI ...we won't be able to meet demand.
            So far, just keeping all Strip Teazer colors in stock has been pushing our limit.

4/23/21  We're a couple of weeks from ports like South Haven, MI showing good opportunities for spring Kings.  Manistee, MI can happen anytime, but the last part of May is more traditional.  Been saving my time up for spring Kings when the fish arrive.
              Can't wait to use color keyed long producing combs like the Black Mamba 10" with matching meat rig™.  Same for the Black Mamba Glo combos with cloned Strip Teazers.  This is styling in my book when everything matches.  Is it necessary?  Probably not, but having options like this are confidence building weapons to have in your arsenal.

4/22/21  In the process of replenishing strontium aluminate, Boron oxide, Europium oxide, Yttria, ect.  In simpler terms, glow colorants used in our tackle.  Those big fancy sounding names comes with a high cost.  China has the world market cornered on anything to do with rare earths that make this 21st century extended glow material.
              Our Strip Teazer herring replacement strips use massive amounts, because we're casting a solid piece with glow throughout.  Painted metal spoons only need a small amount, a few thousandths thick to cover the surface.  Our usage exceeds 0.250, or a 1/4".  To me? ...it's worth it to have a spectrum of glow colors.  STs feature red, blue, green, and yellow (chartreuse) X-Glows that raises our strips to a whole new level.

4/21/21  It's going to take a while to decompress from the Covid 19 crisis.  We've been under the cloud of avoiding crowds/people and staying home was the best option.
               This is why my early season usual contacts that send in reports are MIA.  Fishing reports that I've relied on for years are nonexistent.  This makes my job to share fishing info with you next to impossible.  I don't like pulling fluff out of the air for a chat.
               Over 30% of MI has been vaccinated.  The shocker is we (MI) leads the nation, our USA in new infections.  There's no shortage of ignorant people not willing to heed what the medical experts have been preaching.  Seen this myself last April when a crowd lined up shoulder without masks waiting in line to buy ice cream.  During a statewide lock-down.
               There's 22k residents of Manistee County, MI.  We're at almost a 1000 confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus.  Multiply that 7 to 10 times for the actual number.  My guess is about 50% of Manistee County have been infected.  Symptoms, or not. 

4/20/21  It's my great pleasure to post the 1st verifiable 2021 King caught on my tackle.  Know this high teener King came on a XG-Frog Meat head by Team JZ that fishes out of Burns Ditch, IN a lot.  They're known for putting fish in the boat.
               Fishing in the part of S Lk. MI has the same vibe of when I used to charter down on Lk. Erie in the late 1990s out of the Raison River (Monroe, MI) by the coal fired Detroit Edison power plant.  Indiana waters is urban fishing with a lot of smoke stacks that's radically different the further N you travel on Lk. MI. Click 1st 2021 King

4/19/21  Work continues on 2021 tackle specials that will be done sometime today.  Having massive web server issues, so like Arnold, "I'll be back" when everything is fixed.

4/18/21  Have a great Sunday!  Working on some tackle specials to kick off the 2021 season.  3 Leader Lockers™ with quick stow wrap around line protectors for 79.95 is a great way to store 72 meat rigs™ and flies in a compact 14" by 12" by 10" space..
             Deal 2 will be two 4 packs of assorted Strip Teazers for a total of 8 strips.  4 will be extended glow and 4 will be sure-fire regular colors with a bottle of Re-Scent.  Haven't done the pricing, but have 8 strips aboard means you'll never run out of bait ...priceless!

4/17/21  According to Sea Grant's Dan O'Keefe the average charter operator lost over 10 grand in 2020 due COVID.  That translates in to about 20 trips in round numbers.  Charter skippers might get some relief for the Cares Act, but that's a wait and see deal.
              Being a charter skipper is a tough go.  Loss of 20 trips in 2020 means less trips on the books in 2021.  I used to run about a 70% repeat charter groups.  Some that I'm still in touch with to this day. Click 2020 charter revenue loss article
              Missing 20 charters last year, right off the bat, means you'll have 15 open days to fill this year in a business that darn near impossible to turn a buck in nowadays.

4/16/21  T.G.I.F.  Trying to stay positive in a negative world can be done.  Don't have the total solution, but I'm working on it.  Been looking at the small victories and staying away from news as much as possible.  Disappointed in myself for not making time to escape into the land of reel-fishing.  This will change and soon too, I hope.
              60 hp Suzuki, purchased January of 2020 has 3 of the 10 hours on the break-in oil before the 1st oil change.  My 16' Grumman saw little use in the era of the pandemic.  Next warm decent day? ... Project 2022 testing is on the schedule with my 16 footer.
           Tax day April 15th has been extended to May 17th to file personal taxes.

4/15/21  Here's some info that needs expanding.  M55 bridge over the Big Manistee River by Meijer's is closed until November.  There is a detour (Stronach Rd.) where you go into Stronach and around S end of Manistee Lake, turn W by PCA boxboard plant and come out at the BP gas station on US31, on the far S end of Manistee, MI.
             This is fine for now, but this will be a major choke point when summer traffic hits.  I'll be avoiding the US31 BP way and going thru Filer City, if the MDOT don't install a traffic light on US31.  Look for a map later this year to steer clear of this traffic snarl.
                           Posted for this summer's visitors to Manistee.

4/14/21  Today's pic shows how a fishing trip turns into a catches trip when there's lots of bait around.  Area this photo was taken was probably someplace between Gary and Burn Ditch, IN by John Z.  Team Z caught a helluva box of fish with 3 anglers punching their 5 fish per ticket/license.  Click sonar data and bait balls
               I can only dream of what it's like to be on the water again.  Busy doing orders as the Lone ranger without Tonto.  Better days are coming for yours truly.

4/13/21  My tackle business has been about solving issues lately that I have little control over.  USPS Priority Mail, once rock solid, is a joke when we ship anything to New York.
               Shipping delays of 2 weeks when it should have been a 3 day delivery.  Spoke to an post office insider and his exact words were, "I've never seen it so bad."  Delayed shipments eat up a lot of my time that could be better spent going forward, not backtracking/retracing and contacting post office branches.
               Big deal on our list is increasing production on our 2021 Strip Teazers that are a huge hit at my webstore.  Hand injection is dreadfully slow with a lot of risk to get seriously burned.  Soft plastics we work with range in temps from 360° to 320°.  Not to mention the wasted material from the runners/sprue during the injection process. 

4/12/21  Not many boats have been fishing Lk. MI in my circle.  Most have been beating up on the resident Perch in Manistee Lk waiting for the Lk. MI Perch to come in the harbor.
              Best thing about Perch is how good they are as table fish.  It's a time consuming chore to clean a good mess of them.  Click recent Manistee Lk. Perch
              S end of Lk. MI has good reports with large schools of bait and limit Coho catches out to 50' of water off Gary, IN.  A few Kings & Lakers have been caught too.

4/11/21  Today we have a guest update from Wayne J sharing the history of the lumber boom that built Manistee, MI in the later 1800s.  There we a number of major saw mills in Manistee Lake processing lumber and cedar shake shingles.  Billions of feet of lumber were floated down the Manistee Rivers to the many saw mills operating on Manistee Lake. 
If you fish Manistee Lake you'll hear a lot about the old "slab docks."

"This piece of wood is probably close to 150 years old. It was part of a “slab” dock that had been used for processing wood.  Slabs were wood that were produced while processing good wood.  Click piece of 18th century slab dock
             They threw away the small pieces into a crib type structure and that formed a dock.  The schooners would pull up to the side of the dock and load lumber for city’s that were in need for building.  Lots of history here." WJ

4/10/21  Have a great weekend.  A future topic will be about my Past Results page where I've archived 21 years of daily updates and how I use them. Click Past Results

4/9/21  Summertime record and near record high temperatures are going to turn more normal in the next few days with rain predicted.  We need the rain, the forest is parched.
             Working on a new deal for 3 Leader Lockers™ with EZ stow protectors (cut-up pool noodles) for 79.95.  There will be 2 sizes of EZ protectors that's a big step up from wrapping flies and meat rigs™ around any style attractor.  When mono dries is shrinks a little.  Leaving kinks in the leader line that's not helping longevity. Click EZ stows
             Of course you can make these yourself.  Electric knife is the best way to slice up the noodles.  I cut 2 half moons, think just a single cut will work better.
             For the approx. price of 3 meat rigs™ you can protect and stow 72 rigs, or flies that fit in a tight compact space.  Get the most out of your tackle dollar by organizing and protecting your tackle.  Been using these since 2005 and have rigs 15 years old. 

4/8/21  Administrative is a fancy word to describe dealing with the everyday issues that comes with running any business.  Unfortunately, this has kept me on the dock until things smooth out.  This the same scenario just like last year I was hoping to avoid.
            What little I have heard about LK. MI fishing off Manistee, MI is not all that thrilling with the wind handicapping the small boat fleet.
            Those targeting Perch in Manistee Lk are catching some.  Wigglers and wax worms are out producing minnows by a long ways as Perch bait.

4/7/21  Hallelujah, removed the snow plow off my Ford F250.  This my out of town rig when I put the camper on with the extended hitch to accommodate the boat.  Considering South Haven in May for a 2 night getaway.  Chartered there in the late 1990s-early i2ks. 
             So, like Saugatuck I'm very familiar with this port.  Plus, I do have a contact person, Dan A. to advise on when the 1st signs of Kings are showing up.  Big deal is to avoid the tournament time when port becomes crowded.
            The bait Wayne J and I marked last mid-August of Frankfort, MI was an encouraging sign.  N rim of the Herring Hole was wall to wall bait.

4/6/21  Fishing report from the S end of Lk. MI courtesy of Tom M:

"Fishing is very sporadic on this end with very few boats getting limits but there has been a few nice kings caught.  I'll be letting you know when I get out and put the New teaser strip Froggie down.  Maybe next week if my back is feeling better hope everything is good with you and your family." Tom M from E Chicago, IN

4/5/21  Probably the nicest Easter Weekend in recent memory,  Temps around 70° are welcomed, as we crawl our way out of long winter.
             Perch spawn in the spring and are a target for the small boat fishermen.  Perch are the best eating fish we have in MI.  Best Perch fishing I witnessed was off Harbor Beach, MI wall in the mid to late 1980s with 5 gallon buckets full of tasty fish.
             The "not so secret" place many fish for Perch in Manistee, MI is off Penny Park located on the NE corner of Manistee Lk.  Click good sized MI Perch
             It's not unusual to see over 20 boats fishing.  Action there was sparse there last week that will pick up with warming waters soon.
         Finally seen no below freezing temps for the nighttime low for the next 10 days

4/3 - 4/21  Easter weekend update shows part of the process to infuse more scent into our 2021 ground breaking Strip Teazers that are a viable replacement over frozen herring.
                 There was no roadmap, no instructions and we had no previous experience with soft plastics that dominate the Bass tackle scene.  Click scent being infused
                  It's taken several months of hard dedicated work to make sure we are the reel-leaders in this technology.  A long journey that's been fascinating for yours truly.  Learning is a life long process that has it's own rewards for a job well done.

4/2/21  Mother Nature pulled her own fast one for April Fools with an inch of snow and temps last night in the mid teens.  Not exactly spring-like conditions.  Much improved forecast for next week with warming temperatures this weekend.
             Purchased my 2021 Senior Fishing License off the MDNR's website for 11 bucks.  This is the best $11 I'll spend this year to experience the agonies of success and failure.  Online purchase comes with a file you can print copies of.
Online Fish Licenses
             I'm ready to fish.  Fish is a risk word with many definitions.  Hope to change fish into catching soon.  Have a great Easter Weekend.  Be back Monday

4/1/21  Not into foolish April fool's pranks.  Seems I always fall to somebody acting like a smart #%s with nothing better to do, then think they're funny.  Those are the real fools!
            Seen the 1st Robin Redbreast in the yard a few days ago.  This is a sure sign of spring is actually being here.  Opening day for the Detroit Tigers is another strong hint.
            Something that I looked forward to since last November when I can shut my wood stove fireplace down Saturday.  Wood heat is a lot of work, but it's the most comfortable the way, as convection circulates the heat thru every room.  Costs less than propane too.

Continued below back to the year 2000:

2021 Results
January, February & March

April, May & June

2020 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August & September

October, November & December

2019 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2018 Results
January, February & March
April, May, & June

July, August & September
October, November & December

2017 Results
January, February & March
April, June & June
July, August, & September
October, November & December

2016 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2015 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August & September

2014 Results
October, November, & December
January, February, & March
April, May, & June

July, August, & September

2013 Results
January, February, & March

April, May, & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2012 Results
January, February, & March
April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2011 Results
January, February, & March
April, May, & June

July, August & September
 October, November, & December


2010 Results
January, February, & March

April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2009 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August, & September
October, November, & December

2008 Results
October, November & December

July, August, & September
April, May & June
January, February & March

2007 Results
October November & December
July, August & September

April, May & June
January, February & March

2006 Results
October, November & December
July, August & September
April, May & June
January, February & March

2005 Results
October, November & December
July August & September
April May & June
January February & March

2004 Results
October, November & December
August & September 
June & July  April & May
January, February & March

2003 Results
Jan Feb  Mar  April & May
June & July  Aug & Sept

Nov & Dec

2002 Results
Nov & Dec  Oct  Sept  
Aug   July   June  May  
April  March  Feb  Jan

2001 Results
April Brown Trout  
May & June
July Salmon
Aug. Tuna Time

2000 Results
Dec. Nov.
   Oct.  Sept.
July   June
May  March & April
January  February


For complete results of all fishing trips, fishing reports & general info
and a peek into my archived log for the past seasons, 
click the below link:

Past Results



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