Thursday, July 28, 2005

BASS Magazine subscription Marketing Gone Wrong.

I have bought a subscription to Bassmaster magazine for years. It truly is a great resource of fishing information that I value greatly. Over the years I have paid anywhere from $12 a year to $25 a year for the subscription. Why the range? Well it boils down to marketing really. I ordered my first subscription off a commercial on the Outdoor Network one Saturday morning when I was in high school back in 93' and I think I paid $20 for a year. I got 11 magazines, plus the "Free" value pack. The value pack hasn't changed much, a spool of line, some lures, a patch and some stickers. I take it back, I don't think you get the patch anymore, just the stickers. A year later I got several renewal notices and all of them offered something different and included different prices. One sent to me a few months after I let my subscription expire was $12 for 11 magazines, but no "Free" value pack. Same thing happens year after year, but I rarely see the $12 offer anymore. Now I have to use someone else to get the $12 price, because in my opinion the value packs are worthless in most cases. The value packs certainly aren't worth the $8 to $13 they charge for shipping it, because the pack is "Free." If you're wondering where I renew my subscription for $12 a year? Mags On The Net will sell it to you for that price. :-) I'm sure you could call Bassmaster and get a sales person on the phone who would make you that offer, but I'd rather just do it online, quick and easy.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

July Texas Classic Bass Club tournament on Lake Austin

TCBC I fished the Texas Classic Bass Club tournament held on Lake Austin on July 23rd over the weekend and earned 3rd place with the help of Mike Amescua. It was a close finnish based on the weights between 1st and 3rd places, Results here. I can't take all the credit for my success in this tournament, because I used some of the tips provided by last years winners to lay out my plan for fishing this tournament. They said they caught the fish on docks near deep water with 10 inch black worms, so that's where I started in my prefishing, but by the time the tournament came around I had come up with a better idea of where to catch fish as I tried new areas and zoomed in on the pattern I put together before the tournament began.

So this is how the tournament went, I showed up at Walsch Landing at 11:10 PM ready to get this show on the road. I was very excited about the tournament knowing I had hooked a bass over 5lbs on every trip I had made to Lake Austin leading up to the tournament. Before I could really get the boat prepped for launching, Mike showed up with rods and tackle in hand ready to go. We launched the boat and just sat in the boat for about 15 minutes just talking out the plan for the night (12:00AM to 8:00AM). We headed up the lake past 360 bridge and stopped on a row of docks just down form Ski Shores and started fishing the docks. I'd caught several fish in the 3 lb range here prefishing and was confident in this spot. We started fishing at 12:00 AM and about 12:15 Mike put us on the board with a 1.8 lb bass he caught on a watermelon jig. We fished the row of docks down the bank, up in a little creek and back out with nothing, but perch bites. Mike was probably thinking I was crazy at this point, because it was about 3:00AM and we only had one fish. I assured him the fish just weren't biting yet and as it got closer to 4:30 AM the action would pick up.

We made a long run up past City Park to a long strech of what appears to be a "nothing" bank. There are a few small docks without lights and a lot of trees, but the real key here is that there was grass in about 3 to 5 feet of water that quickly dropped off into 15 feet. We started fishing and Mike quickly picked up a 1.5 lb bass on his jig. On down the bank I flipped a watermelon brush hog rigged Texas style with a 1/4 oz slip sinker into the heart of a grass patch and felt my rod shake as if the bass was giving me a warm hello hand shake. It's the kind of hand shake that you'd get from an old friend. Glad to feel that shake, I set the hook and wrestled a nice 3+ lb bass from the grass. While I was putting it into the live well, Mike swung an missed a nice fish in the grass only a foot or two from where I'd just pulled out a fish. Five minutes later and I put another 3+ lb fish in the boat on the brush hog. We made our way down to the end of that area and decided it was worth another run, turned around and headed back through there. This time I used a white buzz bait and Mike stuck to his jig. I tagged a near keeper on the buzz bait next to some low hanging limbs. About midway through this spot Mike finished out our limit with another keeper weighing 1.7 lbs. I'm pretty pumped up, because it's only about 4:15 in the morning and we haven't even gotten to the prime time fishing yet. We finish the run and I tell Mike it's time to hit another set of docks with grass on them that produced good fish while I was prefishing.

We head back down the lake past City Park again on the way and pull up. I get a little foggy here in my details because I was pretty tired from being up all night. We fished our way down the docks and pick up a few fish a long the way and Mike upgrades our smallest fish, so the 1.5 lb fish was set free. We pull into a creek that Chris had caught the 4 lb fish out of two weeks before at dawn. Mike catches a bass out of the exact same spot and upgrades our limit again, so the 1.7 lb fish goes free. I turn the boat around and we fish out of the creek while chatting with some guys in another boat fishing a different tournament. They're telling us tall fish tales about a live well full of 5+ lb fish, Funny stuff. They blast off and we're sitting on the point trying to decide our next move and Mike sets the hook on a "toad" that never turns before breaking the line. I make a cast two feet to the left of where Mike lost his bass and set the hook on our big bass, 5.02 lbs see pic below. We continue fishing the area and Mike later hooks into a large bass that looked big based on the size of the head. The fish came to the surface during the fight, mouth open wide and shaking it's head hard enough to sling the jig free. A few minutes later I set the hook and put another keeper in the boat making our smallest fish 2.0 lbs even. We finish out the rest of the morning hitting a few other spots, I set the hook on another big fish and loose it when it wraps up on brush. We were so close to winning the tournament, any one of those three fish would have put us several pounds in the lead, but we can't complain, because it was great fishing no matter how you look at it. Congratulations to Kevin & Larry for the win.

Day in Review:

Total bass caught was somewhere around 20 with all, but one being greater than 14 inches long. Final weight was 17.21 lbs which is fairly consistent with what I've been catching on all the trips I've made lately. We caught the fish on watermelon bush hogs and watermelon jigs in 3 to 5 feet of water.

Right now is a great time to book a trip for night fishing on Lake Austin and I'm running a special that'll put you on the fish during the peak fishing hours.

Click for details - Summer Special

Friday, July 22, 2005

Lake Austin 7-21-05 PreTournament Fishing.

I left Dell in Round Rock at 5:00 and picked up my boat on the way to the lake. I45/1325/Mopac/Loop 1, whatever you call it was stacked up, bumper to bumper as usual, so it was 7:30ish before I made it to Walsh Landing to launch my boat. Part of the traffic problem was caused by a rain shower moving through, but it had quit raining before I got to the ramps. The traffic didn't get me down though, I launched the boat and hit the reeds next to the launch. I started with a top water popper and switched to a watermelon brush hog after a few casts that didn't produce any action with the popper. The reeds didn't seem to be holding any fish willing to bite, so I packed up and headed up the lake to fish the bulk heads on the right side. I picked up a few short fish on the popper and brush hog fishing the main lake bulkheads, some of them may have been 14 inches, but I didn't bother to measure them. As the sun sunk down behind the hills, I headed up the lake past SkiShores to a set of boat docks and started fishing the grass out in front of the docks and boat houses. I saw three huge schools of shade out in 10 feet of water out infront of the docks. There were a few blow ups on the shad schools, so I gave them a shot only to have a white bass about 3 lbs follow my popper to the boat. I also had a large mouth about 3 or 4 lbs follow it as well, but neither would hit the lure. I ended up catching several bass over 3 lbs off the docks. The bass were holding off the end of the stalls next to the supports. I made another run futher up the lake in the dark past City Park to a patch of grass beds and docks there. I caught a few fish on the brush hog and switched to a white buzz bait. I caught two bass on the buzz bait fishing it over the top of the grass. Both were keepers and one of them was 5.2 lbs on my scale. I was definitely going to visit this spot again during the tournament the next night. That was pretty much it for the trip and I called it a night about 11:15 PM. Great fishing, skies were cloudy the whole time, and it was never over 80 degrees. I was the only person at Walsh Landing when I was loading the boat, so there wasn't anyone around to take a picture of the 5 lb fish I had or there would be a picture posted. :-(

Monday, July 18, 2005

Lake Austin 7-16-05

I was jolted from sleep on Saturday morning at the sound of my name being whispered. I heard, "Hey Clint, what time are we going?" or something along those lines. I responded, "Give me just a couple of minutes and we're going." I realized at that moment, I'd set my clock for 3:45 PM instead of AM and the voice that jolted me from sleep was my brother-in-law, Jonathan. He was pretty excited about going bass fishing for the first time in years. I got dressed, grabbed food for the road, and we were headed for Lake Austin in minutes. I forgot to check my phone for the time when we launched, but I'm guessing it was somewhere around 4:30ish? Anyway we launch out of Walsh Landing to avoid the $10 launch fee at 360 bridge. I motored over to a well known big bass spot, and started fishing with a black spiner bait with a colorado blade. We came up dry there, I can only imagine at least half my club has visited this spot in the last week while prepping for the tournament coming up this weekend.

With thunder rolling from clouds in the distance, I thought we should just hit the high percentage spots in a effort to put Jonathan on some fish before it started raining. My objective for the morning was only half about prefishing for my tournament, I wanted to make sure this was a guide trip as well. Once daylight began to creep over the horizon, I told Jonathan to prepare to run and gun. Then I explained what we were going to do for the rest of the morning, we were going to stop at spots and only make a few selected casts that would result in fish quickly. It wasn't until our third stop that Jonathan hooked up with a nice 2 to 3 lb bass on a top water popper, it jumped and came unbuttoned after a nice little fight on a long cast. Several other spots along the way would result in a repeat of this performance, but Jonathan was having a great time even if he hadn't gotten one in the boat. At 7:30 AM, Jonathan landed his first bass and made his day. It wasn't anything to brag about size wise, but it was the first bass he's caught in a very long time. With that milestone achieved, and only 30 minutes to spare, we headed back down the lake and stopped at the last of my hot spots for this section of the lake. I picked up my first fish hear, 12 inch little fighter on a watermelon brush hog. It hit right next to a wall in about a foot of water. We worked the creek fairly quickly and I missed another fish. We moved out on the main lake at 8:00AM I put a call into the boss, to let her know we were on time. Kelly was gracious enough to grant us 30 more minutes of fishing as a result of the call. While I was on the phone, I landed another fish off a boat house with the brush hog. Jonathan was about to fall out of the back of the boat in laughter, because Kelly didn't even suspect I was still fishing... hehe. We pulled up on a dock with a little dog viscously guarding it, I over cast at it and nearly caught him. :-) This was a little entertaining and we both got a laugh at the prospect of, "what if." That little dog almost go my lure in his mouth. I made a more accurate attempt at the dock and set the hook on a large fish, I got a look at it once before it made a powerful surge and pulled the hook free. The big one that got away, based on my experience I'd guess the fish was over 5 lbs. :-) 8:30AM and we were done for the day, and as soon as we loaded the boat, it started raining. We headed off to have breakfast at Benny's Bagels with the kids and my wife.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Summer Special

Summer Special – End’s August 31st.

As a promotional summer special, due to HOT weather during day time hours I am willing to offer a reduced trip and rate.

4:30AM to 8:30AM for $150 on Lake Austin only.

Night time trips are really great this time of the year with the weather being clear most of the time and temps in the 70’s. Standard fees apply to other lakes or times.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Lake Austin 7-9-05

Got up early on Saturday morning at 3:30 AM and was out the door by 3:45 AM. I backed my boat down the street to the dead-end and picked up Chris. Chris and I headed out for a great morning of fishing on Lake Austin. The weather was perfect, clear sky but the moon wasn't visible at this time. I was lucky enough to see a shooting star while I was looking for the moon about 4:30 AM. We launched at the 360 bridge on Lake Austin and headed up the lake to fish some grass beds that are known for lunker bass. After fishing for about an hour with no luck Chris started us off about 5:30 AM with our first keeper, about 1 lb just over 14 inches on a watermelon Whodaddy rigged Texas style with a 1/4 oz slip sinker. A few casts later I picked up a 2 lb fish in the same area, with a watermelon brush hog rigged Texas style with a 1/4 oz slip sinker. We burned down the bank because the sun was starting to brighten up the horizon and I wasn't to the spot I wanted to be on yet. I picked up 3rd keeper weighing 4.8 lbs on a white buzz bait and it put a great fight where the paddle boat is sometimes docked. We fished an hour more before I picked up another keeper about 3 lbs across the lake on the other side from the paddle boat place, didn't officially weigh it. We ran up the lake to a small creek and Chris later finished out our limit of five keepers with a 4.1 lb fish on the scales, man was he excited about getting it in the boat. I am glad he caught it, I'd suggested a bait to him for the spot the bass was caught from but it didn't pan out. I was about to leave and Chris asked me to hold up while he tried flipping the Whodaddy and it paid off on the first cast. Just goes to show, when you think you know your fish and the spot, you don't. :-) I was glad to see the spot pay off for Chris. We called it a day pretty much at 8:00AM but there was a tournament weigh-in at 8:00 AM and they had the ramps pretty much taken over for the moment, so fish the creek next to the golf course for a little bit. One of the guys I talked to said they had a 7+ lb bass and a total limit of 22 lbs, 10 fish limit by the way. I saw lots of fish in the 2 to 3 lb range released and a few 4+ lb fish but no giant bass that we saw. Below are pics of the two big bass of the trip. I've read a report that a 13+ lb bass was caught over the weekend about 10PM, no sure what day and taken to Cabela's for display, because the Share Lunker program did not want the fish.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Do It Yourself Seat Repair Work

My boat is a 1999 R73 Ranger and I've put a few miles on the seats with all the fishing I've done over the last few years. With the number of times people have stepped up and down from the back deck to the seats, it's a wonder they didn't wear out sooner. I also learned the hard way after reading up on boat seat care and repair work, one of the major factors boat seat cracking occurs is caused by Armor All products. Yeah your seats will look shiny and new for the first year or two that you're using that stuff, but over time the seats will fade, dry out, and develop major cracks. At that point, it's time to plunk down some $$ and face the music as I just did.

I did some searching on the web to figure out the best way to repair the seats and settled on just buying new seat covers from Ranger Boats. They were not cheap by the way and from what I hear, neither is getting them professionally installed. I got the seat covers in the mail and that's where the fun stuff began. First item on the agenda was getting the seat bench out of the boat. Funny story there, I found two of the six screws that had to come out of the seats to remove the bench on my first attempt. I made a call to a few boat dealers and they couldn't help, so I called Ranger and asked the customer service guy. He told me that the seats were either held down by additional screws or a few J-hooks, Ranger had been using two different kinds of seats on that model. Well it turns out I had the seats with extra screws, but the customer service guy lead me to believe I had the seats with J-hooks. His instructions were to remove the two screws I found, the lift the seats about three inches and shake the bench free from the hooks. Well that didn't work. In fact, we bent two of the four remaining screws when we were trying to shake it free. Home Depot sold me some new ones later. :-) My wife, Kelly, finally noticed that the bottom of the seats seemed to be removable, which lead me to removing the center of the seat backing, see pics below.

Picture of the seats after removing the seat backing centers. There were four screws behind the seat backings.

Little closer look at the seat backing and some of the cracking that needed to be fixed before things got out of hand.

Ok so Kelly and I spent about 3 hours total so far getting the seats out of the boat, not bad considering we didn't know what the heck we were getting ourselves into. Now here comes the really fun part, getting the old seat covers off the seats! This took us all of about 8 hours worth of work pulling hundreds of staples out of the bench, see pic below for what I mean.

It may be hard to see, but all those silver glimmers along the edge of the cover, but they are staples, hundreds of them!

This is a picture of Kelly taking out some of the final staples, what a trooper! I can't believe she blew a whole Saturday helping me pull staples out of those seats and recover them.

I took a little break to snap a few pics before we put the new seat covers on, see pic below.

If you can't tell from the pic, Kelly is thinking, "Damn this is taking for ever!" We're almost done though.

One last pic taken before the job was completed. Would you believe I didn't take a final pic of the seats after they were done? That's because it was about 12:30 AM when we were done on Saturday and we just wanted to take a shower at that point and get in bed... hehe. Kelly is truly an amazing woman to support me and the crazy stuff that comes along with fishing. Since I know she'll read this at some point, I love you sweetie! Thanks for the help!!!

Clint's Top 10 Things you should know if you are going to recover boat seats:

  1. You'll need a staple gun or two with stainless steal 1/2 inch staples.
    NOTE: Yes, the stainless steal ones are more expensive, but you don't want the seats to come apart after staples start rusting out because you bought the cheap ones.
  2. Needle nose pliers and a flat head screw driver are a must for removing the staples holding the old seat covers in place.
  3. You'll need some kind of table or saw horse to put the seats on while working, because working on the seats on the ground will kill your back.
  4. It will take you atleast a full day with two people working at it.
  5. A well ventilated garage with multiple fans is necessary when doing this in the summer with 100 degree heat!
  6. Entertainment for your kids is necessary, because you can't legally administer enough Benadryl to keep them knocked out long enough to complete the job.
  7. The fish won't bite any better after the new covers are installed.
  8. No your boat won't go any faster or get better gas mileage with new seat covers.
  9. After you recover the seats your next job is recarpeting the deck.
  10. If you're planning on asking me to help you do your boat seats, you can't afford me!