December 19, 2006

Prime Time Bite

Last night I finally got out. I headed over to my local lake to catch the prime-time bite at dusk. After I unloaded my gear at the public access, I headed out on foot a 1/4 mile to my spot. Luckily, this season I have my GPS unit with the MN Lakemaster chip. I was able to get right on the spot, in not time. I drilled a few holes around the inside curve of a deep flat, adjacent to a break-line and midlake hump. I hole hopped for little bit and then settled into my portable for prime-time. I wasn’t as productive as I could have been, though, as I was tinkering and adjusting my equipment, getting all the bugs and everything worked out, typical for the first trip of the season. I manage to catch two little walleyes about 10-22″. The deadstick was not productive. About a half hour after sunset, I had just charged and dropped a JB Lures Rattling Varmit tipped with the head of a fathead minnow and watched as a fish cam up off the bottom of the flasher. The fish took my spoon hard and a lengthy fight ensued. After a few minutes I saw the slipknot on my line near the hole, I knew the end of my line was near. I watched through the hole as a nice walleye flashed her belly and white tipped anal fins as she swam by. I finally got the fish up to the hole and onto the ice. The only tape I had was my ice scoop and one of those C&R stickers that the DNR had given out years back, 40″ in length.
I brought the fish up to the sticker on the side of my sled tub and I had a rough 23 inches. I didn’t get an opportunity to lay the fish out or pinch the tail, so it could’ve been longer. The girth on the fish’s belly was pretty outstanding, as this was definitely one of the fattest 23″ walleyes, I’ve seen outside of their spawning run.
Come 6 PM, I wrapped it up as the bite begins to tail off. A brief recap on the first official field test of my portable mods is as follows:
The reflectix worked well and cut down on frost quite a bit, only the canvas on the sides had frosted up lightly. The LED lights worked out nice. Plenty of light, but maybe a using the headlamp is in order to tie knots quicker. It is doable, but 2 lb test or smaller could get difficult if you have limp line, especially if you are threading the small eyelets found on light panfish jigs. Taking out the extra seat definitely provided some extra room. The insert I installed in my sled was nice; It’s always nice to have an extra flat surface to lay tackle or or other things on, like my bait puck.
Hopefully we’ll get some snow soon, and I’ll be able to test out the new rigid hitch with my snowmobile.

December 8, 2006

My New Toy

I finally broke down last weekend and bought a snowmobile. With the onset of global warming and el nino threating our way of life up here in the snowbelt, and the assault of four-wheelers everywhere, why a sled you may ask? Even my mom, who is clueless about ice fishing life, asked why I got a sled over a four wheeler. Here are a few reasons.
The Wind. The wind coming off the prairie in Northwestern Minnesota can be quite brutal. Snow drifts can overtake permanent houses in a matter of hours. Passage on big windswept lakes can be all but impassible with a four wheeler under certain conditions.
Slush. If this winter turns out to be anything like last winter, a snowmobile will be the only way around a lake. Due to heavy snowfall early in the year last winter, many lakes had a crippling amount of snow on top of the ice, causing it to sag and flood the surface. This created slush ice. Throughout most of the season until Late February, most area lakes were plagued with 12-18″ of slush. Many a four wheeler were at the mercy of the sled last winter, hoping to get a pull. Conditions were so bad that I didn’t even drive on the ice once last year.
Trails. Simply put, a four wheeler cannot legally ride down a snowmobile trail. Often times, a snowmobile trail provides the only link between two bodies of water, or the only access to a lake. This is critical if you like fishing untapped resources. This is also important if you like to tour several lakes in a close proximity of each other, without having to go through the hassle of trailering your equipment to each lake.
I realize that potentially, I could ride a four wheeler year round. But to do so comfortably in the winter requires a few modifications to the wheeler like a windshield and hand covers and warmers. Also, if you are ice fishing with friends who are on sleds, it may be difficult to keep up with them. I am not interested in trail riding a four wheeler in the summer, as I would rather spend time on the river fly fishing, so it was a pretty easy sell to go with a snowmobile. This has also opened up the realm of fishing big waters now, like Leech, Lake of the Woods, Upper Red, Snowbank, etc. without having to worry about driving a vehicle on the ice. I am excited! I think my mom now understands why I chose a sled over a wheeler.

November 10, 2006

Pack It Up

I hate to say it but I think today might have been my last day of the season fishing open water. I was fly fishing the Otter Tail River this afternoon for walleyes and pike, and only managed to hook up on two small hammer handles. I admit that it was pretty slow out there. While a cold front was rolling in, I watched ice starting to reform around the edges of the pool after the warm week we had melted down most of it. The cold breeze didn’t bother me much this afternoon, and neither did the ice freezing up on my line and guides. I had come prepared and brought my insulated pants, fleece cap, and windproof fingerless gloves. No, it was the sense of the changing seasons and the urgency that I should be fishing through the ice, not in open water. Even though I was all alone in on that river, in perfect solitude, my mind was preoccupied and the day was not enjoyable as it should have been. Sometimes, with my busy work schedule, these days on the water are few and far between. As I was standing by my truck cutting the fly from my leader, packing up, reflecting, I should be grateful for every chance I get to spend on the water, standing in a river, waving a stick.

November 6, 2006

Portable Mods

I’ve been tinkering the past few weeks. I’m in the process of modifying my portable ice house. There have been a lot of good ideas being shared by the members of Fishing Minnesota. I am fortunate to have that resource to bounce ideas back and forth. After much thought, I decided that I want a partial insert to install in my flip-over. While, many FMers opted for a full-length insert in their sleds, I wanted something that would still be able to utilize the open configuration of the sled, and have the option of easy removal. I fabricated an insert that will fit about one third of the length of my sled. It is constructed from ¾” plywood and I carpeted the entire surface with some excess indoor/outdoor from my front porch. I opted to install two 12V power points and two LED switches. I mounted the switches and power points on a roughly 4” x 6” aluminum flat mounted on top of a cut out in the insert. This allowed for easier installation of the threaded collared switches. I installed a couple of brass plates to serve as a common ground and power junction to a fuse block for the connected accessories. The fuse block runs to the switches. I’ve installed two strings of 6’ long LED rope lights along the tubing hoops on the ceiling of the shelter. I am also going to install two 12V computer fans on the ceiling as well, to help circulate heat. I will finish the ceiling with some reflectix insulation.

October 27, 2006

Last Days

With only a few days left in the Stream trout season (lakes), I headed down to my local trout lake. While watching the sun rise, I managed to hook into my first trout. Not much for size, about 10″ long, but still a good fight nonetheless. Gotta love those rainbows! The water temps had cooled down considerably and much of the emergent vegetation finally receded. Thoughts of ice fishing this lake this winter filled my head. The rustling of leaves quickly diverted my daydreaming to a forked buck browsing behind me. After a few moments, the buck passed, and I resumed my attention to the task at hand, fishing. I caught a few more yearlings before I finally hooked into something nicer. After a few minutes of fighting the fish, I finally landed the rainbow, it measured about 15″. I’ve caught bigger trout before, but this was nice. I hadn’t been trout fishing since Fourth of July weekend in the Superior National Forest and BWCAW. All in all, I caught 8 trout this morning, two of decent size. It was nice to get out one last time for trout this season and enjoy the fall breeze in my face. Before long, winter will be upon us and I will be back in a few months chasing those trout on the ice.

October 25, 2006

Ice Fever is Contagious

Frosty mornings in Northern Minnesota, frozen sloughs, and small lakes with skim ice are all symptoms an incurable sickness known as ice fever. Like a drake wood duck coming out of its eclipse plumage during the fall, these visual cues are as enticing to an ice angler as a hen wood duck.
The rush begins. Portable ice houses come out of the garage to air out; anglers take their permanent shacks out of storage to put “fall air” in the tires. Following the trends seen at the latest modification get-together, we tinker until the early hours of the morning installing new LED lighting, or the new must have gadget. The frequent trips to the tackle shop begin, drooling over that new hammered gold holie angel that just came out, or those purple minnow-glow ju-jus. You get into a debate while standing in line at the store about which flasher is better and why. Some anglers are so affected by the fever that they even “practice” with their new jigs and lures in a 5-gallon pail when they get home.

January 1, 2006

The Clean Angling Pledge

“I pledge to Inspect, Clean & Dry my equipment to the best of my ability after every on-water use”

What is the Clean Angling Pledge?
The Clean Angling Pledge (CAP) is an individual statement of commitment to helping to protect our fishery resources from invasive species that might be inadvertently introduced by anglers, boaters or other recreationists.
Many of our waters are being attacked by plants, animals and/or microbes that have been introduced and are now established to the point that they are having significant impacts. These invaders often have no natural controls and quickly expand to cause harm. Most of these invaders have been unintentionally introduced, many by anglers pursuing a good day of sport. As anglers we all feel an obligation to protect the waters that we depend on and most recreationists would gladly take the time to perform the simple actions needed to reduce the chance that they are spreading the problem.
The CAP provides both an education message, what can you do and how do you do it, as well as a personal call to action. People who take the pledge will spread the word and help to teach the desired behavior to others.

What happens when someone takes the Pledge?
When someone pledges the first thing that happens is they get an immediate feedback in the form of a pop up window that thanks them for pledging. This is followed up by an Email sent to them that congratulates them on taking the pledge and offers them the opportunity to receive the free Clean Angling News electronic newsletter. If they accept the offer of the newsletter, it will be delivered to them monthly. It is filled with information about invasive species issues of interest to anglers, boaters and other recreationists and reminds everyone that controlling invasives is up to all of us..
Any person who does not respond to the initial Email will not be contacted again. We will not spam people ever. We do not provide contact information about pledge takers to any one for any reason.
People who take the pledge are actively encouraged to spread the Clean Angling Ethic to others. To reduce the spread of invasives everyone must participate. This will only happen when many people are promoting Clean Angling. We hope that the people who pledge will form the backbone of a new movement to popularize the ethic of Clean Angling.

Inspect, Clean & Dry seems kind of simple, shouldn't we recommend the use of disinfectants?
No. It is very intentional that the Pledge is based on cleaning with water only. The range of species infesting our waters is broad. Plants, animals, insects, microbes, crustaceans and mollusks are all common invaders and each has its own tolerances. Any chemical that is effective at killing all of the possible invaders will also be destructive to the environment and, quite possibly, to our equipment.
By using water only, we focus on what people have at hand. There is nothing special to remember, no special gear, special chemicals or special instructions. Instead, the simple actions of inspecting, cleaning and drying have proven to be very effective at reducing the spread of invasives.
The goal is to make Cleaning a habit that is an automatic part of every fishing trip. If we can get every angler to clean after every trip we will dramatically reduce spread.

How can I promote the Pledge?
There are a lot of ways to promote the pledge. The first and best is to take it and live it. Start cleaning your gear after every trip and you will soon have others following your example.
The pledge can easily be promoted in other ways. If you have a business, website, club or organization we can provide tools that help you promote the pledge. From print ads to online pledge forms to post cards, we can provide the tools you need to tell others about the pledge. Just let us know and we will help you get what you need.
The most effective way for you to promote the pledge is to embrace it as part of who you are. Personalize the pledge and use it to establish that your business is committed to protecting our fishery resources and that you are calling on all who are influenced by you to take the pledge and become part of the solution. Take our program and use it to your advantage by improving your “green” image with your consumers. Not only will you be helping to protect our waters, others will know that you care.
Every organization, company or other entity that commits to promoting the pledge in an ongoing fashion will be designated a Partner in the effort. Our partners are highlighted on the website and receives recognition in the Clean Angling News.
The Pledge is widely being accepted as the most effective program for individuals. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has adopted the program as their primary method for educating individual recreationists. Trout Unlimited, the Federation of Fly Fishers and many others have endorsed the program and in coming months many more companies, organizations and agencies will also be formally recognized as partners.

Who runs the pledge?
The CAP is a program of the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species (CANS), a 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to reducing the human caused spread of aquatic nuisance species. CANS is supported by grants from foundations and government as well as through contributions from private donors.

How do I find out more?
The best way to learn more is to visit the CAP website at Here you will find links to sources of information about invasive species as well as a sampling of the tools available to those who want to promote the pledge.
Contact us directly by phone or email and we will quickly get you whatever you need to better understand the issue and to help join the fight to slow the spread of the invaders that are threatening our fishing waters.

Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species
PO Box 1429
Livingston, MT 59047


the roughfisher
Jean-Paul Lipton resides in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, where he performs fisheries management work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. When he is not busy working on stream habitat restoration projects for the DNR, he enjoys spending time on the Otter Tail River where he pursues carp and other roughfish species on the fly.

Lipton applies his knowledge of stream biology, ecology, and geomorphology in his development and application of unconventional fly fishing techniques to pursue carp and other underutilized fish species. Lipton has spent countless hours studying and monitoring their feeding habits and diets, painstakingly developing fly patterns and the techniques necessary to convince a sub terminally mouthed fish to take an artificial fly.

Lipton is a member of the Pro Staff teams for Ross Reels, Scientific Anglers, Smith Fly, and CarpPro, and an ambassador for Loon Outdoors and Mountain Khakis. Lipton is also a signature fly tyer/designer for Umpqua Fly Merchants. His Umpqua flies include Carp Assassin, Carp Crack, and Dragon Slayer.

“JP is an important addition to our line up of Royalty Fly Designers. With his extensive knowledge of fisheries management, he is an authority on carp and other sub terminally mouthed species. His innovative designs strengthen Umpqua’s impressive selection of warm water fly patterns.”
—Brian Schmidt, Fly Manager, Umpqua Feather Merchants

Lipton and his flies have been featured in national print media including The Drake magazine, Fly Tyer magazine, and published in The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp - Kirk Deeter, The Orvis Beginner's Guide to Carp Flies: 101 Patterns & How and When to Use Them - Dan Frasier, and Best Carp Flies, The: How to Tie and Fish Them - Jay Zimmerman.

Umpqua Fly MerchantsScientific AnglersRoss ReelsMountain KhakisCarpProSmithFly

Caveat Emptor

This is primarily an angling site. No discussion regarding bowfishing or spearing will be tolerated. If you insist on bringing up the subject I will refer you to the websites or Also, while I will occasionally target fish other than roughfish, this in no way means that you are free to discuss walleyes here, unless you want to discuss the merits of this fish as a weak-fighting fish that many anglers and our state government foolishly waste their time, money and resources on.

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You are a dumbass.
Get some freaking skills you weak minded fool.


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