Friday, December 28, 2012

Recipe's Off the Water

Blackened Crappie Fish Tacos

This is one of my all-time favorite good eats and one that requires zero guilt for enjoying. Crappie is a wonderful dish and ever since leaving Minnesota for the warmer climates and flowing water of the Tennessee River, I've traded in walleye for the ever popular crappie. Don't get it twisted, walleye's the BOMB but so is cold water crappie and these slabbers are stacking up in brush piles by the dozen. Even a diehard bass angler such as myself finds it a worthy stop for a quick few minutes. I'm out there anyway, may as well catch Bri and I some free dinner.

There's nothing wrong with the traditional up-north style crappie eating where we roll 'em in Shore Lunch and give 'em a good frying before opening up a can of beans and a bag of Old Dutch potato chips. Now being in the south and picking up on the home-style way of eating, there's also something special about deep frying these tasty filets smothered in beer batter, alongside some fresh made coleslaw, greens with pepper infused vinegar, jalapeno hush puppies and maybe even some rice and beans. Let's not forget a generous portion of Bri's homemade spicy chow chow all up on there! Son!!

With my upcoming tournament season right around the corner, I've been looking for better ways to eat by parlaying that with a healthy workout regimen. As I said before, I love taste but find taste is not something that I have to go without just to eat right and stay healthy. Learning to sub spice for sodium is a terrific way to enjoy true flavor and live right at the same time. Also finding ways to work around deep frying is beneficial too, but by all means you still got to live a little so everything in moderation.

Back to the tacos, after all that's why you're still reading. These are truly delicious, relatively healthy and a different all around way for you and your family to enjoy.

Here's what you'll need:

Blackened Crappie  

1 lb. Fresh Crappie Filets
3 teaspoons Spanish Paprika
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Ground Thyme
3 teaspoons Basil
1 Full Ground Dried Cayenne Pepper

Jalapeno Tarter

1 cup Mayo
1 tablespoon Pickle Relish (Bri's Homemade Relish if you're fortunate enough)
1 tablespoon Minced Onion
1 Diced Jalapeno fresh or pickled
1 teaspoon Tobasco Sauce or Tobasco Pepper Vinegar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
Pepper to taste

Corn Relish

1 Diced Roma Tomato
1 Diced Roasted Red Pepper
1 cup Frozen Corn or Grilled Corn
1 Fresh Diced Jalapeno
1/2 cup Diced Cilantro
Black Pepper to taste

You'll also want to choose between corn tortillas and flour tortillas. Corn are much healthier and are more authentic as well as less expensive, but no matter your taste, either will work. Just make sure they're the standard soft taco size. You'll also want 1 head of cabbage.

Preparation is simple! First Prepare your tarter and corn relish and place in fridge to unify. Pretty simple to understand, just mix those above ingredients together, it's self explanatory. If you're not following perhaps you should stick to simply carry-out.

The tacos are next and you'll want to put a little butter and/or olive oil and bring it to medium high heat. Roll crappie filets in a gallon ziplock with all above spices and shake until they're well covered. Place filets in oiled skillet and let cook until filets turn from a translucent raw look to a white and flaky look, flip every minute. Once cooked through, place in a cooking dish and put in oven at 400 degrees. At the same time, place your corn tortillas (only if their corn) in the same oven on a cookie sheet and flip after one side starts turning to a light brown. After tortillas are cooked to your liking pull both the tortillas and the filets out of the oven. This should only take several minutes with a preheated oven. Take a spatula or a wooden spoon and break up the crappie filets making a big ole' dish of torn up blackened fish.

Take your warmed tortillas and spread a little jalapeno tarter around, add a heaping spoon full of blackened crappie, top with corn relish and fresh chopped cabbage. Add a little Cholula Hot Sauce and/or cheese if you're like my wife, as well as a little squeeze of fresh lime or lemon. ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

My first Tennessee Christmas has come and gone and will be one I'll never soon forget, summing up all the reasons why my wife and I packed everything and now call the Tennessee River home.

There's no denying that the holidays are hard when you're 1000 miles from home and away from all your family and friends that you love so much. However, it's also hard to be in Minnesota when your sole reason for living is virtually impossible due to the 3 feet of frozen ice covering all our great northern lakes for 6 months of the year. It's a give and take and though family and friends take rank over fishing, having the ability to hit the water on Christmas sure helps take away from the home sickness.

My good buddy and fellow bass pro Andy Young, decided to make the trip south and spend Christmas with Bri and I as well as help me exercise some of the fat Lake Chickamauga bass and boy was his timing right on! As I was saying in my previous post, Chick was days away from opening wide up and all the lake really needed was a good old fashioned cold snap to get the shad twitching and the bass eating.

The days before Andy's arrival and we got just what we were asking for as the overnight temps dipped down into the 20's and started grouping the shad up. The bass followed suit and instead of being one here and one there, they were one after another as the big ones starting eating up for the upcoming winter. In fact, as Andy was driving down I was putting a hurting on 'em and would have really put together a day but I threw a 8 pounder at the boat that was barely hooked with my Biovex Amp Stay80 Jerkbait. Heartbreaking for sure but signs of what was about to go down.

The fishing stayed great as we were using basically anything that would move to catch bass. I caught some nice ones the first day off a Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbait and a balsa flat sided crank. Andy did work with a big ole squarebill and we both found some success with jerkbaits. We basically had one of each from a Biovex Amp Stay80 (Hot Shad) smaller profile jerkbait all the way up to a Megabass Ito Vision 110 for the larger size. We even got into some Alabama or I should rephrase, Tennessee Rig fish tipped with 3 Biovex Kolt Ridgetail Swimbaits in both 3" and 4" versions. I got to give props where props are due and give a shout out to Scott with Hog Farmers Bait Company and his 3 Arm 6 Blade Rig that outperformed all the rest that we had in the boat. It was a great couple days of fishing and we found most our success using my Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch electronics to find creek channels, road beds and points as well as looking for shallow dead grass to put 'em boat.

In fact, at one point we bagged up our best 5 going for just over 31 pounds and caught them in less than 20 minutes! Dude! It was so awesome we even caught a few 5's in that time frame that didn't even help! I'm telling you all, Lake Chickamauga and the Tennessee River is alive and well. Probably never been better.

I'll soon be in the process of obtaining my USCG Captain License so that I can guide the Tennessee River and it's lakes including Lakes Chickamauga, Nickajack and Guntersville. Until then, I'm running a special on my On-Water Lowrance Training Program, where I'll take you on the water with your rig and help customize your setup and teach you all that goes into these great Lowrance products. I promise after one trip that you'll be very in tune with your equipment and be able to better read what the water is telling you and catch big stringers of fish! My winter 2013 promotion for my On-Water Lowrance Training Program is half off, 4 hours for only $150 dollars! A great value when considering my normal price of $300 for 4 hours. Contact me at to take advantage of this limited offer and book your Lowrance lesson today!

Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! See ya'll on the water!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tackle Update: Biovex USA PRESS RELEASE

BIOVEX™ Lures from Japan, Now Available in U.S.

BIOVEX™, one of Japan’s highest quality lure companies announces its launch of their freshwater lures in the U.S.


Since 1997, BIOVEX’s success in Japan comes from the precise calculation of technical specs to make easy to catch, result oriented lures for both professional and novice anglers. Better yet, their lures are a fraction of the price of other Japanese companies with an average price of $8. They have recently established their U.S. headquarters in Orange County,California.

U.S. Professional

Josh Douglas, professional tournament bass angler from Shakopee, Minnesota will be competing in tournaments such as Bassmaster and FLW in 2013. Josh uses BIOVEX™ lures and said “proven winners such as the BIOVEX™ Deep Runner and BIOVEX™ Wake I have so much confidence in.”


Currently the fresh water bait available in the U.S. is 9 types of Hard Bait, 2 types of Soft Bait and 3 types of Wire Bait in many sizes, weights and colors. Salt water bait will be available in summer 2013. For more information, visit

For further information, please contact:

Hiro Zusho
(949) 478 - 5695
P.O. Box 7905
Newport Beach, CA 92658

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holding Off on the Winter Blues!

What a change of pace! This time last year, I was day dreaming through a Minnesota winter with thoughts of four pound largemouth choking my Biovex Stay80 jerkbait on a cold December afternoon. I was well aware that this winter I would be calling southeastern Tennessee and Lake Chickamauga my new home. Fast forward to today and indeed I do call the flowing waters of the Tennessee River home. I'm out living the dream of being able to launch my Ranger and fish just days away from Christmas, instead of rustling through three feet of snow to stare at my baby in the garage.

Everything I was dreaming of last winter is basically right on par, except of course for the fishing. As I said, I was envisioning I'd be throwing my favorite jerkbaits on main-lake points with a cadence so slow I could check my emails in between jerks. That's just not the case. So far the winter has been mild enough that the bass aren't predictable at all. The grass that welcomed my arrival in early October is all but gone leaving helpless strands floating around only good enough to ruin a perfectly thrown cast. The shad that should be twitching so hard they make bass drool are so abundant and healthy that they roam from the main river channel, all the way back in creeks and everywhere in between.

The fishing is very hit or miss and wouldn't you know it, I'm loving every second! You kidding me?! To be junk fishing days before Christmas! I was born for this man! You can catch them all over the lake right now and as long as you got a bait in the water you're liable to get your arms ripped off!

I'm not exaggerating either. I can catch them in the backs of the creeks on a frog over whatever floating dead vegetation is left back there. An Outkast Swim Jig tipped with a Lake Fork Hyper Boot Tail is killer right now for that big bite. The main lake is also holding some good fish on key structure and nothing calls to them better than a Biovex Deep Runner. Heck, you can still whack a giant on a Spook!

I along with my new buddy, up and coming bass pro Gavin Smith have been out trying some new things teaching each other a little something and putting a few dandies in the boat in the process. The bite may be tough but you know where I'll be........gone fishing!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tips of the Trade - Say NO to Rust!

What pisses a guy off more than one of his high end crankbaits getting rusted out? I'll tell you what's worse, when his entire crankbait box gets rusted out! That high end Japanese Biovex Crankbait and that old school Bagley's that seemed to always pull the biggest bass away from cover, now are loosing the battle to the number one crankbait disease, the cancer if you will of our treasured underwater runners, rust.

It's not the high end baits that are causing the initial problem, it's usually that one old bait that still has that ancient split ring that causes the initial catastrophe. From there it slowly creeps one by one until it's a ravaged every single plug in the entire box. Sure there's ways to slow this process and clean up some of the damage, in fact I did a blog post on this very website last March. There's a way you can clean the body of the bait and switch out the hooks to better anti rust options like the Trokar trebles as well as switching out all the components. Though this will assist in slowing the natural process of rust it surely won't fix the problem. Like a car the only way to fix it is to sand it down, prime it and repaint it and even then it may creep it's way back. I don't use the term cancer lightly but you can see the relation.

So are we doomed? Will all our crankbaits eventually meet their maker through this natural process? I think not, but the key is to prevent the problem before it ever happens. Here's a few steps that may assist you in the future.

First off, don't by cheap tackle. This doesn't mean you need to run out and buy $30 dollar jerkbaits but you'll get what you invest. There's plenty of perfectly good plugs in the $6 to $10 dollar range, but one of the biggest reasons they are more affordable is because they use cheaper components. I won't name any names here but I'm sure you all know of some great baits in that price range. It's simple and affordable to make these baits all the rage by simply taking off the cheap terminal components and replacing them with better. You should always be changing these out anyways. You wouldn't use the same worm hook for a entire year, that just sounds stupid! So why would you use the same trebles for an extended period of time? Get you some Trokar Trebles and Eagle Claw Lazer Oval Split Rings and know that not only are you protecting your precious cranks but you're also pimping them out with the best business side of the crank possible.

Next, you aren't getting bit and you decide it's time to make a change on the fly and switch baits. Perhaps the bass aren't appreciating your sexy shad color and would be better dialed in on a chartreuse black back. This is what makes a great fisherman, follow your gut and make the change but by all means don't throw that bait right back into the box! Instead, lay that bait down on your boat deck or in a cup holder and let it dry off, putting it away wet is what is killing your entire box!

To really get your brain going, let's step it up a notch. Of course I'm not the first one to foresee the problem of my fish catching arsenal being overtaken by one of Mother Natures best weapons. In fact, many companies are introducing rust free tackle storage options, but let me also tell you I'm not too impressed. I've been duped myself, in fact just yesterday I was doing a deep clean on my boat when I lifted up my square bill box and instantly got all the inspiration I needed to bang out this blog post! Last year I personally had went out and had bought a rust free box for my favorite crankbaits only to find that rust had indeed did what rust does best.

The only sure fire way to prevent rust is to use high end components and allow water to naturally evaporate. There's a company out there that makes tackle boxes that are loaded full of small holes that in return allow moisture to escape, this in fact is a great idea although after doing much internet research I come to find that the holes are a little to big for their britches and allow hooks to come through meaning a trip to the E.R. with a full tackle box stapled to your finger is inevitable. So instead, let's not be lazy and lets also save a buck by taking your favorite boxes that you already own and put a little elbow grease into them. Take your drill and drill a bunch of holes strategically into the box from every angle. Be sure to use a small enough drill bit to not allow your hooks to pop through because I promise you, you're in no way any kind of match for a Trokar. Also, be careful to not push to hard on the drill as you don't want to crack the plastic, let the drill do the work.

Rust is nothing anyone wants to mess with under any circumstance except of course those golfing types that want to get a little more spin out of their wedges but that's not a conversation for this hardcore bass fishing website. In fact, the only golfing we're going to talk here is how one should seek out the golf courses on your local lake as all the fertilizer makes for some of the best grass beds on the entire body of water. Nothing like a little hopped up run off to hold a heavy sack of fish!

I promise, if you take the time and follow these steps you'll be throwing your favorite crankbaits for much much longer!

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