August 31, 2009

Fishing in a hurricane (sort of)

I've come to the realization that in order to have the lake all to yourself, you need to get out when no one else will. This is, of course, aside from getting to the lake well before first light and getting first shot at lake's hot spots. A couple of times I had gotten to the lake so early, that I couldn't even see - and literally had to sit there and chain smoke until there was enough light to launch the canoe.

Ok, well Im not talking about fishing during a real hurricane, just during some of the crappy weather these large systems seems to drag along with them. I'm located in the northwest corner of the state of NJ - not exactly prone to hurrianes, but close enough to the point where you can feel their effects.

Back to back weeks of pretty miserable weeks at my "real job" usually only have one cure - getting on the lake. Getting nice enough weather to do it in - totally different story.

One week is was Hurricane Bill crusing along the eastern seaboard. Followed by Tropical Storm Danny. Now, these systems were nowhere near NJ - however their presence alone was enough to take a good looking weather weekend, into a pretty miserable one.

So I decided to take my stubbornness to a new level: I was going anyway. The forecasts pretty much called for: 90% chance of showers and thunderstorms, starting from 6am until 2pm. This was on subsequent weekends. I went fishing both times.

My wife already knows Im crazy. This just confirmed it once again.

So I packed up my gear, including a share of ziplocs to keep my phone and cigarettes dry, made sure I had my Frogg Toggs packe, and off I went.

This was definitely not any kind of weather that indicate a storm was anywhere near the area, not with this thick blanket of fog. The shoreline disappeared only after a couple of minutes.

The lake was as still as it gets, but sadly there was no topwater bite to speak of. But what was there was priceless - silence.

No other fishermen. Not a soul. My lake is dotted here and there with lakefronts, and for once, not a single whine of a leafblower or lawnmower to be heard.

Being a dad with two young small kids, and it being summertime, there is almost always something to do to have fun with them outdoors. One needs to take advantage of those nice days, before winter rears its ugly head, and its all indoors, all the time. But on days like this, when the only one who will go out is yourself, and the wife doesn't care that you're burning a crummy day to go fishing, its just win-win for everyone.

And the fishing turned out to be ok as well!

Now both days it wasn't exactly spectacular, but I did end up getting 5 fish each time I went, which is fine enough by me.

I got out of the house, had some quiet time, was on the water, stayed pretty dry, and did catch some fish. And no one called and asked when I would be home, and no one bothered me.

Except of course, the local beaver, which always deems it necessary to follow me around and slap his tail around wherever I go, until he gets bored and goes away:

Still better than the sound of a leafblower.


August 19, 2009

Turning Great Lures Into Awesome Ones

A few years ago, the very thought of someone 'modifying' a Rapala by repainting it would have made me cringe. I mean, how could someone possibly take something that is so perfect, right out of the box, and think they have the right (or the skills) to improve up on it?

Well, recently, my entire outlook has changed, and let me tell you why.

Since I am an avid ebay fan and user, I regularly scour the Rapala listings for something new, rare, cheap, and different. And different is what I had definitely found.

To backtrack a bit, this year I started asking various ebay sellers if they would like to have links to their Rapala-related auctions placed on my website, In return, all I would ask for is a simple tackle donation, in which I would use for various free Rapala lure giveaways.
(For more info on this, click here!)

Anyway, I have been coming across some unreal and eclectic Rapala lures on ebay lately - a lot! I wonder how I had been so blind to this for so long.

Or have I? I don't know if I had just been blind to it, or has the custom repaint business been a recent boom?

I can't really be sure, but all I know is, there are a lot of extremely talented people our there, and they are doing things to Rapala lures (and other models, of course) that I would have never even dreamed of before.

Well as we all know, fishing lures catch fishermen as well as fish, and I was hooked. I started taking a closer look at the custom Rapalas on ebay, and various other places, and it seems that with each artist, each one seems to make a few lures that are heads and tails over the rest - but you can't really say which lure artist is 'better'.

A few weeks later, I was able to team up with Joe from JoesCustomBaits; he recently got a new website, so feel free to drop by and see what he has, or view his current ebay listings. Joe has some really unbelievable patterns, and does repaints on Rapala lures as well as other brands.

What makes it so exciting, is that everyone does things differently, and it is this variety that makes it so very fun. As I started teaming up with some of these talented folk, little did I realize that one of these artists resides right on my site, and I didn't even know it.

Steve Polaski, aka 'muskiehunter' on RapalaNation, is an avid fisherman and Rapala fan, and is fortunate enough to have Lake Michigan right in his backyard. Before JoesCustomBaits got his site up and running, I posted all of his patterns on my site so my members could view them all.

A few days later, Steve started posting some of his own work, and once again, I was amazed at how a few coats of paint can really make a lure jump out at you. I hurriedly rifled through my tackle box, and threw a pile into a box and asked Steve to give them a makeover for me. It is a great way to get some new life out of those old Rattlin Rapalas, or take advantage of some Rapala sales on less successful models (such as the Glass Fat Rap)

You can view his entire line of work here, but I just wanted to display a sample of just some of his work. He keeps adding patterns all the time, I simply cannot keep up!

Mean Green Craw

Wavy Gravy

Lastly, I would also like to introduce your to Rob from Xtreme Lure Concepts; I am hoping that Rob and myself will be able to help spread the word about our respective sites, but he deserves mention here simply because of the beautiful work he does in his natural patterns series. You can see some examples below; Rob sells his baits to tournament fishermen, and is also an aspiring tournament fisherman himself. All of a sudden I just because very jealous of this man!
Rob also lists some of his customs for sale on ebay as well, if you're lucky you may be able to snag some of them for less than the going rate!

With all being said, my love and pursuit of Rapalas initially began to try to find different Rapala lures to fish with; with all of these great lure artists in the world, the possibilities are now inded endless.

Before I go, here are some custom lure sellers that you should definitely check out!