October, November & December 2023

Pine Creek, Manistee, MI
Spawning run.

Fall Lk. MI Coho
Oct. 22, 2023

Yellowtail Rip Teezers
Production Run

Mega Deal
Tackle special
12/29/23  My most gracious thank you goes out to all who visited this site in 2023.  Soon we'll be looking at a brand new season with the promise it brings.  Plus, it's getting closer everyday.  Taking a few days off and I'll be back on New Years Day.  Happy New Year!!

12/28/23  Coyote hunting this afternoon.  Have the FoxPro 2 speaker call that I'm hoping works.  Have a 22-250 Swift Savage rifle that's useless around my property.  12 gauge with 00 buck should do just fine out to 100'.  Know there's too many Coyotes around my place.  There's hardly any deer, no raccoons, rabbits, possums, or skunks.
               Deer numbers are way down.  Possible issue is no deep snow over the past few winters that let's the Coyotes run them deer all year as a team.  Lead pusher with up to 6 followers in a pack.  Then, the pusher swaps out for fresh one.

12/27/23  To answer Marvin Gay's song: "What's going on?"  A whole lot of nothing.  Been researching Project 2025 that's going to require pre-machine work.  Not there with the complete picture yet.  Basic idea a good, if I can keep costs under control.

12/26/23  Limbo week between the holidays with not much happening.  Using this time to conquer design issues project 2024.  Need to get the mechanics rights before proceeding.

12/25/23  A safe and joyous Merry Christmas to all!

12/24/23  Merry Christmas comes with some challenges for Santa.  This year in MI he'll have to leave3 Rudolph and his sleigh at home in the N pole due to lack of snow.  He's made plans to use a fleet ATVs this year for all you good little boys and girls.

12/23/23  Day before the day before Christmas as we close in on the happy holiday.  This website was down yesterday due to server issues beyond my control.  My web hosting company has it fixed now.  This happens so infrequently it surprised me.

12/22/23  Project 2024 has a nice ring to it, that sounds good to me. By email spoke with my CAD designer about new tackle yesterday.  Hoping for another world first.
                Been down the development road before.  Each new product designed makes the next one a bit easier by knowing the process and timeline.
               Do know I'm a lot better as a R and D person than a CEO.  You can add better at making it, then selling it.  That requires a large workforce I want no part of.

12/21/23  I'm both honored and deeply humbled by the letter from Steve W. featured in yesterday's chat.  Lived my life with one simple mantra: treat everyone as I wish to be treated.  By doing so. it's led to more achievements in pursuit of Great Lakes Salmon and Trout then I could ever have dreamed of.  Looking back there's no regrets.  Looking forward there's still a fire in me to design new ground breaking tackle for 2024.
               1st day of winter begins today.  Tomorrow our days will gradually grow longer.  1 month from now we'll have over a 1/2 hour of daylight.  Then, it grows quicker.
       My snowometer seems stuck at under a 1' for the 2023-2024 winter season.

12/20/23  Longtime website visitor sent me a really nice commentary to share with you:

"Captain John, Went to michigansportsman.com again today, like I have daily for the past 20-some years, and saw your post about message board being discontinued.

A short note of sincere appreciation and respect...
Remember walking the dock back in August, 2003, looking for your boat.  Happened to just stumble upon your boat, meet you and shake your hand.  Remember ordering tackle from you in August and you leaving it on your boat for me to pickup.
                Remember you throwing in a hook sharpener for free with my order and me religiously using it now when setting lines.  Without a doubt, lost fish have decreased.
                Remember seeing your boat fishing out of Frankfort and kinda just admiring your skills and knowledge from a distance.
               Remember doing very well one year in East Grand Traverse Bay with 10" blue bubble flashers and blue flies fished right up against the bank.  Gave two of your flasher and flies to Captain Dale (out of Elk Rapids) and told him all about michigansportsman.com and Captain John King.  Followed up with him a couple times after that and he said your flasher and flies were regularly producing Kings.  He was happy to get away from Laker action.   My boys and I have lots of your tackle (tons of flashers, LED light, Rip Teazers™ & spoons) and reach for your stuff over the other tackle boxes. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts over the years...much respect 

Very respectfully, Steve W. Findlay, Ohio"

12/19/23  Discontinued my long running message board that goes back 20 some years.  Just didn't have the time to monitor and post.  Message boards can be a lot of work. 
Like it was when over 5k members were involved 10-15 years ago.
               Facebook has replaced message boards for the most part.  At one time all you had to do was listen to a marine radio to get an excellent idea of what charter boats were doing best and in what area.  That info has all went private by cell phone.

12/18/23  After today's snowfall, none is predicted past Christmas. Long range weather says Christmas will be in the high 40s.  Milder winters are becoming a fact of life in MI.
                This is causing a dramatic shift in winter sports.  Ice fishing is taking a big hit with ice forming later and leaving early.  Back 20 some years you could count on late November into early April to use a snowmobile.  That 4 to 5 month season has shrunk to weeks nowadays where I live in Manistee, MI.
                Upside is warmer Great Lakes water temps prolonging the growing season for Salmon and Trout.  Milder winters help the forage base of Lk. MI's Alewives too.

  3 days away from the official start of winter 2023.  The winter solstice is the 21st of this month. Best thing is the days will no longer become shorter as we add more daylight everyday.  Recent temps in the low 50s seems more like fall then winter.

12/15/23  What's new that's came on the Great Lakes fishing scene in the last 20 years?  Not much is my answer.  Know all my tackle has raised the bar with our meat heads in 2004.  Finally, a head that kept it's shape and always had the same rotation depending on speed and lasts forever.  Probably the most copied head on the market.
               If manufacturers concentrated on fresh concepts there'd have been more improvements instead of being a Xerox machine of their competitors.  My 20 years in the tackle business and counting seen that rise and fall of more than a few manufacturers.  Yet, the business model remains to imitate and not innovate.

12/14/23  Busy in the shop this morning making tackle.  Just didn't have the time to come up with anything meaningful.  This did allow me to think and come up with a good topic for tomorrow in the form as a question: What's come down the road in Great Lakes fishing since I broke the meat fishing program?  That's 21 years ago.

12/13/23  The LED trolling fly in the Mega Deal is mostly a blinking blue light.  Comes packed in a clear tube for long term protection.  Don't like the blue light?  ...no problem There's a 4 pack of LEDs included in the deal so you can swap a green, multi, or red LED.
                Just remember to kink the 50 pound test mono so your fly hangs straight as an arrow.  This helps the hookup ratio odds in your favor. Then, hang-on!

12/12/ 23  Change of pace with today's big question:  Do you believe in Santa Claus?  For me, the answer is a clear yes.  I'm all in on anything that's positive and what better example than Mr. Christmas, Santa Claus aka old St. Nick
               Being positive is another word for optimistic that translates into hope.  All fishermen have to be optimists, or you'd never buy a fishing rod.  The only thing that comes with a fishing rod is the hopes ...someday it will bend with a fish on it.
               Today's featured photo is from 2018 when Santa paid a surprise visit to my tackle shop and was greeted my shop dog in training, our Labradoodle pup, Scruffy who was about 5 months old at the time. Click for Santa and Scruffy.

12/11/23  Took the weekend off from anything too involved.  Last week got off on a tangent about making and where to get supplies to make pro-grade trolling flies.  This arts and craft project is easy to make fish catching creations you can be proud of.
                Tomorrow, I'll touch on our 10" flashers that were to the world's 1st. 10" fish shaped flasher.  There's been several who've try to copy.  In most cases, they just downsized the 12" model.  That don't work!  Been there done that!
               Area in the 10s is around 25 square inches.  Trick is the last 4-5 inches that controls the snap/roll.  Spent a lot of time engineering the tail section that sets our apart from the failed imitations that are in the trash heap of tackle history.

12/9/23  Making flies for me is akin to potato chips when 1 is not enough.  It's addicting to see your creation destined to be a jaw ornament for Mr. Fish! Click DIY fly info
              Here's a tip for the double sticky tape: use some electrician's  tape to hold it stead when you apply the banded Mylar fringe.  If your goal is 6 inches, pinch and tear the Scor tape.  Scissors are not necessary until the Mylar is in the double sticky tape.

12/8/23  The science of trolling flies is how the fly snaps, or whips behind any attractor.  Do not DIY any of your flies on monofilament testing less than 40 lbs.  50 is better. Stiffer line imparts more action compared to a smaller limber diameter that absorbs action.
               Have a wonderful weekend.  Christmas is 3 weeks out.  Then, January 2024 begins a whole brand new shiny season.  It's great to have something to look forward to.

12/7/23   Providing the exact links that we use to make flies.  1st stop is Purple Taco fly supply.  They sell the 4" banded Mylar in standard and thin cuts.  We used a lot of the green pearl 4" standard cut.  Click here for Taco fly material
              Next you'll need 1/4" double sticky tape to wrap the material around bullet heads. 5" to 6" is enough to make a top notch fly.  Double sticky 1/4" Scor tape
Drawback with the double sticky is the 5 rolls purchase. 
             ***Might want to look to other sources for a more reasonable 2 rolls at a time.  5 rolls is a too much, unless you're into manufacturing.  This is best I've found.***

           For a finished look to your flies, recommend clear 4" over-wrap to incase the fly forever.  Flies made with adhesives get better with time. Click clear 1/4" tape
           Bullet heads can be purchased off our webstore.  Click for bullet heads
             For a 100 bucks, or less you make more flies then you'll use in a season.  Personal reward is what you created vanquished your foe.  This is a great winter project.

12/6/23  Decided to make history of trolling flies today's topic.  In 1985 George Richey introduced a lineup of what he called, Metallic Flies.  They were made out of banded Mylar like today's flies, but the material was much harder to get.   In the early 1970s on, it was all squids and some hair flies.  Larry Crosby from Traverse City made one called the Alee fly in the 1970s and 1980s that was basically a bucktail fly. Click DIY fly instructions
             Mylar flies never gained much traction until the mid-1990s.  Today Purple Taco makes Bandaboo 4" Mylar in a ton of colors.  Tomorrow where to get all DIY supplies.

12/5/23  Explaining the 2024 Mega Tackle Deal continues today with the 2nd combo, being our top selling 10" BTI Silver Bullet flasher and XG Sea Green fly. 
               The fly, X-Glow Sea Green has quite a story behind it.  1st time I seen this blue-greenish fly came off Pete "Pedro" Ruboyianes boat after he won the richest money Big Boys Tournament in 2002. On spot, Pete gave me one off his winning rods.
                This was a Horse Fly called Sea Weed.  Ran this fly the next day with great success out of Manistee.  None were available in Manistee.
               Called a tackle shop in Grand Haven, MI that had 6 and drove there to get this fish destroying fly.  Yes, it was well worth the 200 mile round trip.
               About a year later seen Ken Warren from KRW flies had one he called, aqua gold that was a close match to the same blue green color.  When I introduced flies at our webstore in 2007 updated it with glow and a XG bullet head. 
               Both Pete and Ken have gone to the big pond in the sky, but will always remain in the continuing tale of our Great Lakes fishing history

12/4/23  Yellowtail combo flasher/meat rig™ goes way back with me.  Yellowtails were 1st introduced in the 1980 by Oscoda, MI skipper, Dennis Bidigary.  This pattern has put 1000s of fish in the box for me both on Lk. MI and Lk. Huron. Click Yellowtail
               Exactly matching Rip Teezer™ carries on the continuity from the bait head that's awesomeness to behold.  Hand painted strips is another world 1st by me.
               Paired with the deadly Clear Double Glo 10" BTI flasher takes it to the next level.  Clear D.G. 10 incher produced countless limits at central LK. MI ports.  That's why it's front row and center in the 2024 Mega Deal.  Click for deal more info

 12/2/23  The groundwork for a successful 2024 season begins months before you launch your boat.  Forethought is your friend when it comes to big water fishing.
               Tomorrow focus is explaining and usage of all the tackle listed in my Mega Deal.  Leader Lockers are up 1st from the top of the list  You will preserve the life of expensive meat rigs™ for years and years.  Have some that are 15 years old that are still pristine ready to hit the drink.  24 rigs at 20 some bucks a pop is at least $480.00.
                     It makes big sen$e to protect your tackle dollars!

12/1/23  Today is green Friday with the amount of money you'll keep in your pocket by purchasing our 2024 Mega Tackle Deal at 125.00.  You'll get an additional 125.00 in bonus tackle for a total price over 250 bucks.  Just finishing an all-nighter and more to come about this deal soon. Click to purchase Mega Deal

11/30/23  Goodbye November 2023 as we roll the calendar forward to the last month of this year.  US 31 drawbridge is supposed to be open this weekend, if the last 2 ships of the season don't experience unloading delays.
                Have this bridge under construction for a year has messed up local traffic.  Seems this job is like Bechtel's fiasco in during the never finished nuclear  power plant in Midland, MI. When you're on time and materials contract it doesn't pay to finish a project.

11/29/23  Extra busy yesterday with orders that slowed progress on the 2024 Mega Deal.  Under estimated the time to put this deal together,  Do have the combo fly and 2 fly meat rigs™ ready.  Issue is I have to build multiples for stock on hand for shipping.
               My front yard guestimation snow gauge is once again on duty with a total of 4 inches before it settled.  Other areas got a lot more, but Manistee dodged a bullet.

11/28/23  Focus is to package the 2024 Mega Tackle Deal and show it later today.  Yesterday was a lost cause from the eye doctor appointment.  Problem is when they dilate your eyes that don't return to normal for a good 8 hours.  With your pupil being wide open too much light effects everything you try to see.

11/27/23  Eye doctor's appointment this morning at 7:45am this morning for wet AMD makes today a wash.  Injection in my eye makes any work today impossible. 
                2024 tackle deal is on hold until tomorrow.  Have most of the web work done.  This year's special is $245 of tackle for $125.  Have excess inventory that needs to find a home.  All items will be useful to have aboard, because there's no tackle shops on the water.  Plus 2 proven combo selections all packed neatly in our Leader Locker™.

11/26/23  My time is pretty much spoken for web work.  On deck is getting the 2024 Mega Deal ready to go out the door.  Lots of tackle is included.  Supposed to get our 1st snow of the season today.  This is about a month later then usual.

11/24/23  New 2024 X-Glow Blue Green Dolphin along with the X-Glow Yellowtail are enhanced air brushed deadly Rip Teezers™.  Both are selections proven winners with a long track record that goes back to the 1980s.
                Working on a 2024 Tackle Special stock up the 2024 season.  Hopefully, this deal will debut this coming Monday, if can production goals can be met.  This will be my best deal offered with plenty of useful bonus tackle. 

11/23/23  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

11/22/23  Day before Thanksgiving with no snow so far.  Seen it spitting snow, but never enough to cover the ground.  Winter prep is done when the plow goes on the truck.
                Packaging the Rip Teezer™ to wrap this job up for 2024.  Best selling strips this year was XG Green Frog, XG GhostBuster,  XG Green Glo, Blue Mamba SUV and Silver Rainbow.  Glow strip out sold the non glow selections by a lwide margin.
               Working on a 2024 Tackle Special that will debut soon ...hopefully.

11/21/23   Effective April 1, 2024 several rivers in MI will have the daily limit of 3 reduced to 1 Steelhead per day.  This is a kick in the gut if you have a business in Wellston, or Brethren, MI.  Same if you're running river trips as a paid guide. Click more info
                Lk. MI limit of 3 looks to remain in place.  Think it's 5 Steelhead per day in WI.
So, bank beaters/river fishermen are a smaller group that got lost in this shuffle.  Fair is when all user groups  are treated the same ...which is not the case a-at-all!

11/20/23   Today's featured photo is a quality Mason, County, MI 8 pointer taken by longtime bud Capt. Kirk.  This  central Michigan buck this is a big guy to be proud of.
                  Good news to start the week with Cadillac Regional Fisheries Chief, Mark Tonello giving us the number of Chinook/King Salmon harvested at the Little Manistee Weir which was 3,891.  Spring run Steelhead was good too with 3,441 counted.
                  The approximate 4k of Kings at the little river is only part of the story that don't count the number of Kings returning to the Big Manistee River.  That number should be equal, or more from my rough estimate of 5k going up Pine Creek.  Please keep in mind 5k is only a guesstimate and not a factual count.

11/19/23  Covid booster shots last Friday was easy-peazy. My wife and I were already in their system.  So, we just signed the form after answering a 12 health questions.
                 Glad to report no side effects other than the place where the nurse stuck the needle that was sore for a day.  Last year's shot gave my wife severe chills.
                 Vaccinations for Covid is one of the few examples our federal government getting it right.  Both the Trump and Biden administrations are to be congratulated.

11/17/23  Covid 19 booster shots today for my wife and I at District 10 Health Dept. here in Manistee.  Names of the variants of Covid sound like they came from an episode of Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek.  Better safe than sorry is our take on getting stuck with a needle.
               Will have more info tomorrow, cause I'm not sure if this year's boosters are free.  Know our medical insurance will cover it if not?
                Great progress this week on all fronts with temps in the 60s.  Wrapped up Rip Teezer™ production with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

11/16/23  Admittedly, yesterday's production pic of a pile of the new XG Yellowtail Rip Teezers™ is not all that exciting.  Today's featured "glow in the dark" photo is a horse of a different color when the glow comes to light.  Click XG Yellowtail glow effects
               There is no single piece of tackle on the planet that uses more extended glow colorant than our RTs.  That's what sets me apart from not being cheap when it comes to making tackle.  To be the best? ...you have to make the best!

11/15/23  Have a safe and successful hunt today.  Be sure to know the CWD regs about disposing of your deer's carcass.  Just used to drag what's left after home butchering back in the woods and let the scavengers do the rest.  This is no longer allowed.
                Got a good handle on all of my fall projects.  Only this left is to mount the plow on the truck.  Note to self: ...check hydraulic oil level in the plow.
                I have an excellent glow in the dark photo of the new 2024 XG Yellowtails that's a reel eye opener.  Today's is production progress. Click not glowed strips

11/14/23  Wonder who's brain fart in the MDNR came up with the idea of reporting your deer kill online.  Just because we have the technology doesn't mean we have to use it.  Besides, what do you get got jumping thru this hoop?  Click DNR kill report
               What's next?  ...are we going to have to report every fish we catch?  Reporting a deer kill online shows just how deep the government reaches into our personal lives

11/13/23   Yesterday was extra busy trying to wrap up Rip Teezer production this week.
Left you hanging about the WD40 in the winch photo an  extra day.  Today's new photo shows the cable that goes nutso once the tension is released.  Click cable coils
                  It does not lay flat like a winch strap many of you have.  Cable can dig in-between coils and dig in and jam.  WD40 as lube can help free the cable.
                 My 1979 22' Sea Ray is too heavy for a strap.  Pet peeve with a winch that has a strap the mechanical advantage is lost the more the strap winds on.

11/12/23  After tires that roll the most important part of your boat trailer is the winch that pulls your boat on said trailer.  Boat trailers tend to be overlooked until they break.
               Doll babied up my old Powerwinch 912, after buying new Powerwinch with remote control.  Mistakenly thought the old winch was faulty.  Turned out it was the truck wiring with a bad ground and the old winch was perfectly OK.  Click refurb 912
               912's have the strongest single line (5/16" ss cable) pulling at 4000 pounds,  Enough power to pull bow eyelets thru fiberglass without a backing plate.
                 Tomorrow? ...why the can of WD40 is in the winch photo

11/10/23  T.G.I.F. as we look forward to next Wednesday's firearm deer opener.  Not exactly when hunters want with predicted temp at 54° and sunny.  Snow is a lot better spotting deer and makes tracking easier.  Need  to research MDNR's rules and regs.  Do know every deer kill needs to be reported.  Will have links for that soon.

11/9/23  The MI firearms deer season less then a week away and around my place deer numbers are way down.  I'm sure part of this is the coyote population that has grown over the past 5 years.  Coyotes use an effective pack strategy with one pushing the deer when the snow is deep and a pack of 4, or 5 not far behind to help with the kill.
              Black bears around me are down.  The big problematic female got hit by a car about a 1/2 mile down the road.  She was a big girl coming in around 300 pounds.  Never heard my wife shriek so loud when this bear went eye to eye with her thru the living room side window.  Wife' solution? ...pull the shade and scoot.  Mine was a .357 mag in case the she bear came thru the window.  My female lab who hates bears alerted us.

11/8/32  Consumers Power runs Tippy Dam to produce hydroelectricity.  There's a big hub-bub going on about possible dam removal.  Tippy was built in 1918 and has to be re-licensed by the State of Michigan to operate.  What's up in the air is the cost to remove, or maintain Tippy at $1.8 million a year.  It's said that this dam generates $400 million to the local economy and supports 400 jobs.  Click Tippy Dam article
              Tippy Dam's economic impact on Brethren and Wellston, MI is huge.  Losing this facility by removal will cause financial hardship to both communities. Click Tippy Dam

11/7/23  This is the Covid year the MDNR did not plant Steelhead.  Latest word from the Big Manistee River says it's been a tough go for the river anglers seeking Steelhead according to my neighbor (way down the road), who has a jet boat.
               While it's too early to tell, this might blow another hole in the DNR natural reproduction theory that cut the legs out from the King Salmon stocking levels.  Now, that the MDNR is planting more fish?...King fishing was really good this past season.

11/6/23  Strip production day that's perfect temp wise being the low 60s.  Frogs and Blue Mamba SUVs will happen before this day is done.  To me? ...anytime I get to play with a $6k machine it makes the job fun.  Learning curve making soft plastics was arduous.
              Initial glow in the dark test was able to improve blue glow on the Ghost busters by doubling the ratio.  Almost to the point it look as bright as the green glow which is the strongest.  In the dark photo test should confirm this soon. Click yellowtail test strips
              Photo of the paint test where you can see actual 1st time production being done makes a good background story. Decided to paint only one side, as not to cover-up the important glow properties.  Contrasting sides aids during rotation ...blink, blink, bite!

11/5/23  Paint test photo kind of says it all for today's topic.  This pricey paint is made just for soft plastic that's used to make our Rip Teezers.  Concentrated on the yellowtail pattern that was introduced to the fleet by charter skipper/ tackle manufacturer, Dennis Bidigeri from Oscoda, MI.  This was my number one color in the late 1990s early i2ks.
               So, it worthwhile to have in my lineup of spoons, flashers, meat heads and strips.  Drawback is the stinky smell during air brushing. Click yellowtail test strips

11/4/23  Fall back a hour tonight as we play clock yoyo that I'm not in favor with.  In the process of photographing the paint test for our 2024 Rip Teezers™.  Came out better than expected.  Hope to have this photo posted by tomorrow.

11/3/23  Back to Rip Teezer production today.  String of days in the 50s has me motivated.  Working on 2 brand new must have selections for the 2024 season.  Has special paint to expand the number of colors on the strips.
              Working on a spare electric Powerwinch 912.  This the most powerful electric winch there is. Have 2 winches and it's time to sell one.  Will show my refurb job extra wench in the not too distant future with necessary wiring kit.

11/2/23   If you've been bit by the fishing bug, consider yourself lucky.  It's easy to be fascinated by the never ending challenges facing all fishin' folks.  Weather, fish and bait movements stacks the deck against you from the git-go!
               People that fish don't use military style weapons in mass shootings.  Having an interest in life (such as fishing) diverts a lot of our everyday issues into nothing to dwell upon.  If there were more fishing rods, our world would be a far, far, better place!

11/1/23  Need to clear up the back story on yesterday's chat.  By happenstance ran across a 1 start Yelp review on an un-named Manistee tackle store.  Reviewer was complaining about forking over 16 bucks for frozen strips.
               This is not the tackle store's fault most likely.  Tackle store probably paid 10 bucks for the strips knowing with 30% markup is where the price came from.
               Frozen bait is a risk and understand bait dealers must make a profit.  I had $10k of bait freezer storage that went out of business and worried about loss of power some years ago.  Plus, servicing/trips to tackle stores just wasn't worth it.

10/31/23  Halloween update is about inflation and what frozen herring strips cost back in 2003 when I broke the news to the fleet.  In 2003 you could buy 6 premium Rhys Davis strips in a tub for about .50 cent per.  These were the all time ultimate best with no rivals since.  Adjusted for inflation .50 in 2003 has increased to .83 in 2023.
                This is a far cry from the going rate today, either for whole, or strips.  Lack of availability with price gouging manufacturers is a big reason why meat has fell out of the number 1 fleet favorite that it held for may years. Click Poll Page verification
                Gouging is the same as stealing from people with a low moral compass that will be covered in tomorrow's chat.

10/30/23  Results of our annual poll page for the 23rd year have been tabulated and noted.  Spoons won the commanding top choice approaching 50%.  Easy to understand why? ...with spoons requiring a minimal investment & ease of use. Click Poll Page
               Probably should have narrowed down the poll to July-August Salmon.  My 50 some years on the Great Lakes spoons took far less then any attractor program.
              It pains me to say meat is the biggest loser that lost more ground in 2023.  Will have a reason of why meat no longer takes the top spot.

10/28/23  Last Thursday and Friday started on 2024 Rip Teezer™ production.  If all goes well, should have some new selections ready for debut this fall.
                Spent most of yesterday getting my wood burning stove ready for the season.  Cleaning the flu pipes and chimney is time consuming job.  This week predicted lows in the mid-twenties says it's time to get off propane and onto wood.

10/27/23   Changed up this year's poll a little bit.  You can vote once a day for 2 selections in case your results are too close to come up with a clear winner.
                 Strip production is underway for 2024.  Look for 2 three color new selections made to match our flashers and meat heads.  Enjoy cooking up plastisol after trail and error fails in the beginning.  New 2024 strips are winner, winner, Salmon dinner!

10/26/23  Installed the annual poll about your best method to catch adult Kings.  Been running this same poll that goes back to 2003, making this the 20th anniversary. 
                This poll came about when I shared how deadly meat could produce from my charter results in 2003.  This is and was the biggest thing to hit Lk. MI in the last 20 years, barring none!  Trends upward and down are fun to look at.  Click Poll Page

10/25/23  Getting ready to make strips.  This is the part that takes the longest.  Been doing a time study on how to speed up meat rigs™.  It took me 27 minutes to make six 3-fly strings.  Identified most the time was threading the beads, flies and crimps.  Tested a new bright LED work light that seems to have helped.  Will time 6 rigs again soon.

10/24/23  Today's featured photo is a hen Coho caught yesterday out of Ludington, MI by Capt. Kirk.  You can tell it's a female, because the hinge of the jaw is not behind the eye sockets.  Telltale sign it's a a plump, full of eggs Coho is there's no spots on the bottom half the tail.  Great example fish that's much appreciated.  Click this hen Coho
             Coho are a great charter fish that's much easier to land big King.  Coho Salmon are much more aggressive than a King and bite all day long.  Silver Salmon/Coho stay hard-hitting on during their spawning run into rivers and streams.

10/22/23  27° this morning at my place in Manistee County, MI.  This our 1st hard freeze of the fall.  About a month later then what, over the years ...I've come to expect. 
                 This is good news for the bait in Lk. MI that will continue to keep temp more favorable to Alewives that don't adjust well to huge temperature swings.
                Yesterday, picked our last remaining tomatoes, jalapeños and cukes from the garden that benefited from the extended growing season. Home produce this late is good.

10/21/23  Nice weekend to get head start on pre-winter home projects.

10/20/23  Prep day to begin making our soft plastic herring strip replacements.  Low on many of the popular selections like the XG Green Frog.  Click Frog Rip Teezer™
                Making strips is job I enjoy greatly, because it's the basic ingredients that turn into a finished product pretty much unassisted.  Taking the liquid plastisol to 350° to transform it into a pliable plastic that lasts seasons, just not a few fish is rewarding.
               Like doing this when it's cool out.  Helps the molds not get overly hot to cool cycle them speeds up the process.  We let the strips air dry for a week to toughen.

10/19/23  One of the best upgrades to my 1979 22' Sea Ray happened when I installed an enclosed cooling system.  No water to drain, or pumping antifreeze thru the motor.  Just turn off the key and make sure the outdrive is in the lowered position.
               It wasn't all that expensive doing the work in-house.  Think $900 covered the tank and hoses that took about a day to install.  Block-off plate on the elbow exhaust manifolds took up most of the time.  Over the years not buying costly antifreeze and time saved makes the 900 seem like a bargain.

10/18/23  The markers are in place for 2024 to have another great season for King Salmon on Lk. MI.  Fall bait is a reliable indictor for next year.
                 Today's featured photo shows big wads of bait off Ludington, MI's harbor in 50' of water.   Just what we need to rebuild the fleet after some poor seasons for Kings.
I'm looking forward to 2024 with a lot of optimism.  Click 10/12/23 Ludington bait

10/17/23  Another major spawning stream for King Salmon is Bear Creek that enters the Big Manistee River from the N.  Probably, as many fish run Bear Creek, as in Pine Creek.
               My reel feelings is the 1 fish per 10' of stream is a lowball count and it's closer to 2 fish.  Resulting in a small trout stream getting a run of 10k fish this year.  It's not always this rosy, there are lean years.  2023 as a banner year and that's OK with me.
              Going to make an effort to visit Pine Creek in mid to late November when the Brook Trout spawn.  Normally hidden under the bank, Brookies come out on gravel bars.
With the amount of Salmon roe there has to be some monster Brook trout in Pine Creek.

10/16/23  50,000' is a ball park estimate of the length of Pine Creek to it's source at Pine Lake.  Conservatively, if there's 1 fish per 10'? ...that's 5000 King Salmon that run this tributary of the Big Manistee River.  2500 are females with 3 lbs. of eggs each? ..that's 7500 pounds of eggs, or close to 4 tons of eggs to create future generations of Salmon.
                Pine Creek has always fascinated me.  Evidenced by my 17 year photo study of the same gravel bar.  We, as fishing people, do not get to see fish roaming about naturally until King Salmon spawn in creeks, or rivers.  Click 17 year photo study

10/15/23  Measured the length of Pine Creek from it's source, Pine Lake.  Came up with 35,000' straight line.  Add in switch backs, because streams do not run linear.  Will have some fish count estimations for you tomorrow and other stats.
                Shop heater is working after replacing pilot light fixture.  Now, the focus will be getting ready for 2024 that's my 20 year anniversary in the tackle business.

10/14/23  This morning's project is to get the shop heater/furnace back up and running by replacing the pilot light.  Old pilot light was clogged and not allowing the thermocouple to heat up.  Micro voltage runs the thermocouple that turns on the regulator allowing propane gas to flow to the burner.  Hence, warming the shop.
               Temps in the low 30s this week made the shop to cold to get anything meaningful done.  In 2004 purchased this Empire direct vent 35,000 BTU unit for about 800 bucks.   19 years of inflation has pushed the price to $1995.

10/13/23  Took a trip to one of my favorite places in Manistee yesterday with a trip to Pine Creek.  This my 17th year photographing spawning Kings from the Huff Rd. bridge that only runs N from M55 in case you want to visit.  Click loads of Pine Creek Kings
                There was a love fest going on with more Kings then I've seen in many a year with loads of spawners working the gravel.  Most of the fish are not huge.  I'd say, for the most part, from 8 to 12 pounds.  It's rare to see a 36" King in Pine Creek.
            Today? ...Friday the 13th is no big deal to me seeing I was born on the 13th.

10/12/23  Covid varmints is still out there.  You can order free tests from the USPS.  Ordered and 4 kits that arrived promptly at no cost whatsoever.
                Your concern about Covid? ...I know, a lot depends on your age and medical condition.  43,000 plus have died from this deadly virus in Michigan. 
               So, we know this virus is not to be taken lightly.  There is a new booster shot out that my wife and I will probably get. Our coming winter drives people indoors making shopping, or any contact with the public risky.  Click free Covid test kits

10/11/21  Network tech difficulties shut my system down when I normally do updates.

10/10/21  Looks like tomorrow will have decent light for photos at Pine Creek's yearly King Salmon spawning run.  This is a regulated fast flowing stream that's loaded with spawners.  This place is a full tilt fish factory for natural reproduction.
                It's impressive to say this is my 17 year venture into photographic journalism.  Pine Creek is a wonderful place to visit. Click Pine Creek Page
                The bridge where I shoot pics from is on Huff Road N of M55 about 5 miles E of Wellston, MI.  It's closed to fishing with MDNR Trout stream regulations in place.

10/9/23  My annual trip to Pine Creek will happen this week.  Prefer mid week lighter traffic, because the bridge is at the bottom of the hill and the road is narrow.
               It's mixed emotions for me seeing these awesome creatures on a death march to meet their Tuna God.  Only buoyed by the fact these spawning Kings are raising future generations of MI's most majestic sport fish ...Mr. & Mrs. King Salmon!

10/8/23  37° at my place this morning says it's time to light the pilot light in the shop heater.  Wrong! ...dirty pilot light that would generate enough heat to activate the thermocouple.  Ordered a new one for 22 buck that will arrive this week.  There are micro thumb orifice drills made for this.  Unfortunate part is I don't have any.  Shop heater is 20 years old, so I can't complain about the service.  Just kinda tired of playing Mr. Fix-It. 

10/6/23  Fixed the broken parts on my RC30 Powerwinch which is a sister to the model 912.  These are the 2 most powerful electric winches on the market.  Basically the same internals with the RC30 being remote control. 912 has been around for about 50 years.
             Most boats spend more time on the trailer then they ever will in the water.  So, it's important not to overlook them. Click broken and new winch parts

10/5/23  Had to take yesterday off.  Over did it Monday stacking wood in 86° heat that  got the best of me.  Inside the closed-in wood shed was much hotter.
               Big change in weather coming soon.  This means N wind that will cool surface temps on Lk. MI turning this into an exciting top 30' fishery.
              Today need to play Mr. Fix-it on the RC30 Powerwinch on the boat trailer.  Self inflicted mishap leaving the handle on.  The RC stands for remote control.  When I pulled the boat last week the battery in the remote was dead and had to install the emergency crank handle.  Tested remote with new battery and the swing of the handle broke the electrical plug-in connector.  Self inflected repairs are always the most painful.

10/3/23  Capt. Dan S. from Big Dan's Charters in Soldotna, AK ordered more 12" flashers from me.  He said, in today's featured photo, "I've caught more then 40 Salmon in the last 2 days running  12 incher with a spoon.  Click for Mountain Dew 12" flasher
              Know it works, just don't see many in the Great Lakes doing it.  Flasher in the photo has held up OK after 5 season of saltwater use.
              Soldotna, AK is home port for the legendary Kenai River over 50 lb. Kings 

10/2/23  Leaves are coming down and the Salmon are coming up in the tributaries of Lk. MI tells us October is here.  This month presents some of the best big water fishing of the year when the wind gods take the day off.  Finding calm seas is October is rare.
              Those 2 and 3 year Kings I've been seeing in photos is super news for next year.  These juvi Kings should be available throughout this month with lots of Steelhead.  My best hours for fish in the boat came in 1994 when my customers boated 28 Salmon and Steelhead in under 2 hours based on lines-in to lines-out.  Click late season Steelead

Continued below back to the year 2000:

2023 Results
January, February & March

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

2022 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2021 Results
January, February & March

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

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