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Ryan Brod

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Best Baits for Ice Fishing Pike

Ice Fishing

Best Baits for Ice Fishing Pike

It was early March when pike patrol the shallows in pre-spawn mode. I was guiding seven anglers, several of whom had never fished before. I chose a shallow, weedy bay and spread my tip-ups to cover prime territory. I tipped my 3/0 red octopus-style hooks with lively golden shiners, 4 to 6 inches...
Fish Hunting: How to Sight-Fish from Flats to Freshwater

Freshwater

Fish Hunting: How to Sight-Fish from Flats to Freshwater

From the poling platform I spotted the dark shapes—five or six of them—milling over light-colored bottom. “OK Dad,” I said, “I’ve got a group straight ahead, 90 feet.” I poled the skiff quietly, keeping my eyes on the black backs of the tarpon. They resembled suspended logs, except that every once...
Stay Sharp: Why and How to Properly Sharpen Fishing Hooks

Gear

Stay Sharp: Why and How to Properly Sharpen Fishing Hooks

The big muskie ate my fly a foot from the rod tip. But the fight didn’t last long. I set the hook, the muskie shook its enormous head, the hook flew out, and I cursed so loud my ears rang. I inspected my fly: 10 inches of black schlappen and gold flash. I knew that hard-mouthed species like muskie...
How to Crush Smallmouth Bass Right After Ice-Out

Freshwater

How to Crush Smallmouth Bass Right After Ice-Out

The ice is out and I’m itching to get on smallmouths. The fact that I’ve been quarantining in my apartment with two roommates who can’t even talk fishing with me isn’t helping. Problem is, water temperatures are barely nudging 40 degrees. This means that although I’ve been daydreaming about big...
Last Ice: How to Stay Safe and When to Call it Quits

Ice Fishing

Last Ice: How to Stay Safe and When to Call it Quits

The ice at the lake edge is dark, slushy, and covered in standing water, as if the lake dug a moat around itself. Farther out, where I want to set my tip-ups for pre-spawn northerns, the ice integrity looks uniform and solid. I don’t see any obvious pressure ridges or widening holes that mark danger...
How to Fight and Land Big Fish through the Ice

Freshwater

How to Fight and Land Big Fish through the Ice

When I get to the tip-up, the silver spool spins fast enough to raise bubbles in the hole. It slows to a moderate spin, consistent, without stopping. I give a thumbs-up to my dad who trails behind me. He picks up his pace, navigating the lake’s crusty snow cover on his one good knee. By all...
Ice Advice: Staying Warm During the Coldest Fishing Season

Ice Fishing

Ice Advice: Staying Warm During the Coldest Fishing Season

In my earliest fishing photo, I’m two years old, stuffed in a baby blue snowsuit, shoveling Cheez-Its in my mouth on the floor of my dad’s ice shanty. Some 30 winters later, I’m thinking of that same photo—of my genuine look of comfort and coziness—as I drill holes through Clearwater Lake, in...
Hardwater Basics: A Guide to Tip-Up Fishing

Ice Fishing

Hardwater Basics: A Guide to Tip-Up Fishing

After augering 10 holes and clearing the slush, we moved on to setting tip-ups. My fingers were already losing function due to the cold, but the adrenaline kept me going. As usual, we were first on the frozen lake, my father and I. The sooner we set up, the sooner our jumbo shiners would swim at...
First Ice: Early Hard-Water Fishing Safety

Ice Fishing

First Ice: Early Hard-Water Fishing Safety

We stood in the trees near the shoreline, waiting for sunrise. The morning was frigid and windless. A few feet beyond, lake ice folded against land. As far as I could tell, we’d be the season’s first ice anglers; it was early December and a week-long cold snap had hardened my favorite local lake. In...
Muskie Fishing Basics: How to Catch the Premier Freshwater Predator

Muskie

Muskie Fishing Basics: How to Catch the Premier Freshwater Predator

When it finally happened, I was thinking about lunch: moose stew bubbling over the Coleman stove back at camp or turkey and cheese on a bulkie roll. I’d been casting since dawn, and both choices seemed tempting. Standing at the stern of my canoe, I gazed across the water into Canada. Large, spiky...