Exciting Fishing Sites You Should Follow

Nominations for the 2012 IFishWrite Big Splash Award for Excellence in Angling Journalism

Providing knowledge is part of the value, but bringing it to you in an entertaining, inspiring manner feeds the dream. We’re constantly looking for angling sites that provide a number of criteria in a highly interesting manner. If you know of such a site we may have not yet seen or analyzed please share it by contacting us here.

Let’s Make A Splash!

And for that reason I have selected the following sites as the most outstanding angling urls thus far in my personal experience. (I have friends who will hate me–but I have a policy in place as well.) These site recommendations are nominees at this point, not winners. I’ll post more as I come across them and find them worthy of attention. I have a selected  review board of anglers who have agreed to participate as Judges in this first annual IFishWrite BIG SPLASH Award for Online Excellence in Angling Journalism.


I’m awarding four categories for this annual recognition:

Best of Content

Best of Photography

Best Outfitter

Best All-Around

Best Outfitter

Please participate with me by posting your recommendations in the comment section. We’ll consider and weigh every site suggested–please no spam–we’ll reject that and I’ll report you! I’m asking for legitimate site recommendations that have to do with FISHING.

I’ll post the winners of 2012 competition on or about January 1st of 2013. I have a select Board of Judges whom I’ll name at that time with links to their sites. (No they are not allowed to recommend themselves, nor am I. Read the Policy here.) Our idea is to link you to what’s really good and who does it, so that we can all improve our sites.

Here’s my list of contenders so far:

Bass Angling Archives (Content) Angling writers Terry Battisti and Pete Robbins combine their skills to bring their readers the best in bass angling history.

Tosh Brown (Photography)Texas-based Tosh Brown is a full time outdoor photographer and writer whose willingness to share technique and lore makes him exceptional.

Deneki Outdoors (Outfitters) Operators of quality fly fishing lodges in the Bahamas, British Columbia, and Alaska, these bloggers provide food of vision to inspire fishers of adventure.

Catch Magazine  (All Around)

The Criteria

Our selection is based on a review of these qualifying characteristics.  Does their site encourage, promote or have:

1) Original Content with rich purpose, crafted use of the language and a gift for insight

2) Captures and enhances the world of fishing for everyone

3) Inspires young and old alike to take up a rod of any sort and get on the water

4) Encourages anglers the world over of all ages to respect the water and all fish species.  to good ethics and principles of healthy conservation including harvest where appropriate

5) Promotes ethical relationships to the industry as well as principles of healthy conservation including harvest where appropriate

6) Educates on issues important to local, national and world fisheries management

7) Provide innovative, creative presentation of content including uniqueness of style in photographs and video

8) Teaches technique in presentation including the reasons why some products produce better results.

9) Provides links and promote other sites as well as their own

10) Uses Social Media effectively to enhance angling awareness

11) Promotes or provides stories and facts about the history of angling

12) Promotes safety through awareness

13) Carries relevance to today’s angling challenges

14) Demonstrates excellence in media presentation

Answers to the above questions are rated from one to ten. If you would like to suggest a qualifying question or become one of our deciding Board of Advisors, please contact us here. If you would like to suggest a website for consideration of the 2013 IFishWrite Award of Excellence in Angling Journalism, please contact us here.

All recommendations are reviewed for consideration by our select Board of Advisors. Nominations for next year’s awards will close at midnight Pacific Standard Time, December 15, 2012.

Good luck!

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite





Pick A System and Work that System

If you wonder why some bass fishermen are more successful than others, there are two good reasons. Neither one is more important than the other; so it’s not like one and two. They both count in the factoring of fish caught.

Crank bait system

When you're ready to learn, pick a system you know others are having success with and then use that system until your body memory understands the subtleties without you thinking about it. Switching back and forth between fishing systems weakens your confidence.

One is they choose a system and work the system. The system works. They’ve seen others using it, so they stay with it until they master the subtle techniques required in presentation bound inherently to that particular system.

The other is that they spend a lot of time fishing. Rick Lawrence, for instance of Fish N Fool Lures fishes his unique swim baits 3 or 4 times a week.

Al Lindner, of walleye and spiny ray fame, fishes close to 300 days a year–it’s been his business to do so.

Mike Robertson, a great trout crank bait angler is the same way. Pro anglers, like these, stick with the systems they select because they know it works and they master them.

Fly Fishing Guide Russell Moore has developed a unique system for deep water nymph fishing that has upped his catch and release count considerably over his competitors.

These anglers are masters in their own right because they learned a system and stayed with it. Do they innovate? Yes, they do. Do they explore and try new things; yes, of course. But they rely on their system of choice for the most part.

Your object lesson is to pick a system that works and work it until you master it. Then do your innovations or pick another system. You’ll learn more and catch a whole lot more fish.

~Dwayne Parsons, Twitter @IFishWrite

Tough Bass Made Easy

When weather and water conditions seem less favorable, you go on the hunt.

Like a couple of Blue Herons, two bass fishers await their opportunity by casting through the dawn for small mouth bass feeding on crayfish.

Do this and you may discover some surprising things. Bass are feeding in that predawn light, especially the bigger ones. It’s an excellent time to be up and on the water because predator fish are taking every opportunity to find their days meal. The crawdads, a night-time creature, are still out on the crawl and minnows are doing their best to stay alive.

It may stretch your waking time, but if you want to tie into a big bass, this is one of the magic hours.

~Dwayne Parsons, Twitter @IFishWrite

Highly Skilled Fishers

Highly skilled fishers, Bald Eagles of North Idaho have dazzled and amazed me since the first one I ever saw fishing. This West Coast Canadian specimen was captured on the take by outdoor photographer Don Whittaker of Calgary, Alberta.


What to do when you’re not catching fish

Think about it over a rich cup of Camp Coffee

When you're not catching enough trout under hot sun, clear sky days of summer, stay late by the river and brew a rich cup of Camp Coffee...think things over.

Camp Coffee

Have you ever experienced a hot summer day fly fishing where no matter what you tried you couldn’t hook enough fish? I have–more than once–and I know my insects. When that happens, there’s only one thing to do. Renew yourself with the real reasons you go fishing in the first place. It’s not about numbers. It’s about the whole experience of being outdoors, of connecting to the river and the life that’s in it because that’s a reflection of you, of who you’ve become and what you’re doing in life.

You have to humble yourself and think things over–replenish the dream–know what I mean? I fish because it connects me to the deeper things. When fishing becomes a chore, when I lose touch with the real reason I’m there, it’s time for a break. Pull out the camp coffee pot, dip into the grounds, eat dinner first and then sit around sipping rich black coffee the way Montana cowboys drink it.

Camping out is great

I love to camp out and I confess I go often enough. Recently I had a chance to sit around a well-built campfire with friends and talk about life and how great it was to be outdoors and to count stars between forested tree tops on a crisp moonless night. I  listened to the river sounds flowing and wondered what animal caused that noise in the dark.

Drinking coffee under those conditions keeps you awake for the best of all reasons: to experience the excitement of life, to set aside the stresses we take on, to put away the responsibilities and the obligations for just a little while and live again like a kid.

Unbelievably rich

I’ll tell you something really important: if you’ve never smelled fresh ground coffee cooked the old-fashioned way, starting with cold mountain water, brought to a boil and perked in the open cold air of a Rocky Mountain night–you’ve just not lived!

So you sleep-in a little the next morning, so what! You’ll wake up excited. You’ll fish better, appreciate more and go back to town with a happier gait to your walk.

~Dwayne Parsons      Twitter.com/#!/ifishwrite


What’s the best eating fish in American waters?

A Pend Oreille River walleye caught in late June

This Pend Oreille River walleye took a Shad-Rap crayfish crankbait in 7 feet of water.

Fresh Caught Walleye

I now release most of the trout and bass I catch, though some make it to the table. I like to eat fish knowing they are good for me and my guests, but some fish populations can’t take heavy cull ratios. So they go free.

But walleye…that’s a different thing. I’ve been on two trips now to Lake Roosevelt to fish with Jim Meskan of Kettle Falls. Both times I’ve come back with a limit of 8 about the size of the one above that I took off my dock in the Pend Oreille River.

A Basket'aWalleyes is every fisher's quest whose enjoyed a walleye fillet at the dinner table.

A wild rose compliments this basket of dinner-sized walleye taken from the Columbia River recently above the China Bend launch. It's an abundant fishery of fine tasting tablefare.

I’m a gourmet. I love to cook, especially for guests. Cooking was my profession in the early days when writing was far more elusive. Now it’s a daily hobby and a creative outlet. From time to time, I will post original recipes of fish I choose to kill.

I believe in releasing young and even large fish back into their environments, especially in areas where fishing pressure is great. But there are populations that need culling in order to produce larger fish.

Managing the ecosystems of various fish habitats can be challenging. But knowledge accrues and we’re seeing some fine success stories on waters like Lake Pend Oreille where the population of inland freshwater sockeye salmon known locally as Kokanee nearly collapsed for a number of reasons. Ultimately it was realized that an over abundance of predators in the lake system were taking out greater numbers of kokanee than we had reproducing. The culprits were Lake Trout and Gerrard Rainbows. I’ll get into that later; suffice to say, the bounty set on those two species achieved its intent. Kokanee (the next best plate of fish in American waters) are returning in numbers sufficient to lift the ban on catching them–probably next year.

For now, a monthly trip to Lake Roosevelt and membership in the Kettle Falls Walleye Club seems reasonable, even intelligent.

What’s your favorite dinner fish?

~Dwayne Parsons     www.twitter.com/#!/ifishwrite


What to do with Pike Minnow

Pike Minnows are considered a trash fish, but gourmets are discovering a long-kept secret.

A Pike Minnow like this healthy 2.5 pound Pend Oreille Lake example have a very high protein content, if you can figure out a way to cook them.

In The Same Water

Pike Minnow, that’s the politically correct name, but it’s a Squawfish by colloquial standards and most fishers still call it that, with no intent to offend anyone. “That’s what it is,” they say, shrugging their shoulders over the political thing. You might not believe this but I like catching Pike Minnows–especially if they have any size to them. This two and a half-pounder being held up by Go Fish! Charters guide, Chad Landrum, is half the size of what they can grow to be.

Just about everyone considers this a trash fish. It’s a rather voracious eater, fends for itself along shoreline structure and runs easily over deeper water, generally near the surface. It spawns on the sandy shore beaches in June. I noticed a Pike Minnow spawning bed in the shallow water sand along our beach this spring. They do very well in the larger rivers like the Clark Fork and the Pend Oreille. In the Columbia they have a bounty because they eat salmon and steelhead fry coming down toward the ocean in their first year of life. A five pound Pike Minnow can eat a lot of young fish.

One friend says, “If you find the Squawfish, you’ve found the bass.” He’s referring to small mouth bass because they like the same structure and feed on the same things: smaller fish, crayfish and insect larva. When you see a big splash from a rising fish on flat water, it’s generally a Squawfish. They like to put on the show–kind of a competitive thing I imagine. You’ll find Pike Minnows competing with trout as well.

Generally speaking, no one will eat them. One of the universities in the area did a study a few years back (I think it was Washington State University) to determine if Pike Minnow meat could be utilized commercially. They are just too boney to cook in the fry pan or bake–worse than Pike, hence their comparison name. Yet the study reported Squawfish have some of the highest protein content of any freshwater fish, if I remember correctly from reading the study.

People eat Carp, why can’t they eat Pike Minnow? The study recommended this abundant fish might be used in Surimi, flavored to taste like crab. But that went nowhere because a producer has to label the contents of a food package in the U.S. and too many people, evidently, know that a Pike Minnow is trash fish. What a label–trash fish! Consumers won’t buy it. So they tried cat food and garden fertilizer. I rendered fresh-caught Pike Minnow to my cultivated ground several times in earlier days of gardening, but found it attracted neighborhood dogs and skunks. Oh well!

I won’t give you the recipe here, not yet. You’ll have to come back. I’ll show you a way to can Pike Minnow that makes for happy guests at the hors d’oeuvres tray. Canning, of course, renders all the bones to a semi-crunchy, highly digestible calcium in the “flavored Pike Minnow paste your eating with that cracker.”

“Yum, it’s good!” they exclaim, going back for more. Most evening guests have no clue what a Pike Minnow is, I guess. It certainly won’t kill them. It’s a just reward for not reading my blog. The fact remains, canned Pike Minnow paste–the way I prepare it–disappears from the cracker tray faster than any other fish condiment.

Yes, I eat Dandelions too.
~Dwayne Parsons     twitter.com@ifishwrite

Spoiled in Montana

Missouri River female rainbow trout nymphing

She's a peach; Montana Fishing Guide Russ Moore brought this bright spring female Rainbow up with a deeply drifted nymph.

With more than 15 great trout rivers and streams to choose from, Montana remains a state of preference for many of the world’s top fly fishers. I asked 20-year fly fishing veteran Russ Moore which was his favorite and why. I couldn’t watch his eyes because we were on the phone, but I could sense his hesitation. Here’s the list from which he had to choose: The Gallatin, Madison, Bighorn, Yellowstone, Beaverhead, Big Hole, Black Foot, Clark Fork, Bitterroot, West Fork of the Bitterroot, Fish Creek, Rock Creek, Flathead, Missouri and Kootenai.

How would you make such a choice?

“I suppose it has to do with the day you had–they’re all great!” He explained that every stream or river is a little different, that as a guide his responsibility is to know the water and its insect life as best he can because that knowledge translates into big fish and numbers caught for clients.

“Some of it comes from just being there, as often as you can, so that you get to know the seasons of each river.  Over time you learn what to do, what to fish and why you should fish a certain way. A sudden spring rain can make a huge difference. You have to adapt to everything. Low water, warm water, high water, ice anchors–nothing’s ever quite the same except that you’re there and you grow to understand it.”

I let him off the hook and said, “So there’s no best river. Then what makes a river great?”

“Without a doubt it’s the genetic pool of the trout that are in it. What’s great about Montana streams is that the trout are largely pure genetic strains. Though the browns are imports, the rainbows and West Slope cutthroats have been there for centuries. They’re bred to the water and know how to adapt to various conditions. Trout that spawn naturally have a much greater chance of over-wintering an ice anchor, for instance, where a river freezes from the bottom up. That condition, when it occurs, kills the winter nymphs and greatly reduces the food supply. Native fish can survive that, where stocked fish seldom do. Montana’s great for native fish.”

“Are they better fighters?” I probed.

“That’s what makes a ‘best river’,” his voice lit up–long runs, acrobatics, large fish coming to the surface to feed, size, girth and length–all these things add up to a great experience. I’ve had brown trout come 3 feet out of the water and rainbows that jumped and jumped and jumped. High-energy fish with strength and stamina are well-fed. Montana streams have an abundance of rich food sources. So they’re all great! They’re all the best river to fish and every one of them is my favorite stream!”

Nice dance around the issue, Russ. Reminds me of the intro to Prairie Home Companion….

Leave a comment; tell me about your favorite water and why it’s become that.