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River Variety

By Mark Romanack

Channel cats like this monster are a riot to catch
and they are most often found living in 
Cliches become cliches for good reason. Most of these overused phrases are based at least in part on the truth. The popular -- variety is the spice of life -- is one of those cliches that rings true in my mind every time I fish a river in Michigan! The list of warm water species I catch routinely while fishing rivers is a long one. Walleye, catfish, smallmouth bass, whitebass, largemouth, northern pike, musky and on and on.....         

The point is simple, Michigan rivers are an amazingly rich fishing resource and just about everyone can tap into the fishing fun with a modest investment in equipment. The vast majority of my river fishing is conducted from a modest 16 foot fishing boat equipped with a small outboard motor, electric motor, sonar unit and some rod holders. From this fishing platform there is little a river based angler can’t accomplish.

Mark's Mailbag - Printed books and DVDs

Mark's Mailbag are occasional posts to the blog in response to questions people submit on the Fishing 411 website.  Mark personally responds to the question and when relevant, we repost his answer here.  If you have a question you would like to ask Mark, please visit us at

On January 28, 2015, Tom writes:  Hi I AM a fan of the show especially walleye and perch on Lake Erie.Glad to see it in on WFN as i was bugging them to get it in their schedule.Just wondered if you had books or dvds out to purchase.I see this kindle stuff,not sure what that book?Iam old school and prefer a book or to watch a dvd or maybe something to consider?Thanks Great show one of the best in the WFN lineup.

Mark Replies:  Tom, thanks for writing. No one could be more Old School than me! I’ve written 13 books on fishing for the print media and all are out of print currently. I love to read books and magazines with a cup of coffee nearby, but the future of printed and books and DVD’s is downright pitiful. We stopped printing books about three years ago and DVD’s about the same time. Virtually everything you can find in printed form you can find cheaper in a Kindle, blog, YouTube or other digital medium.

We currently have three Kindle books for sale at and a fourth tips e-book we are giving away in exchange for anglers signing on to get our weekly fishing blogs. We are literally flooding the market with electronic information in the form of blogs, e-pubs, Kindle books, YouTubes and even full (commercial free) versions of the Fishing 411 show.

If you’re technology savvy enough to write this e-mail, you’re more than savvy enough to tap into these many ways we share information on-line. A great place to start is to visit our site and to start reading our weekly blogs. You’ll even notice we sometimes write a blog about a viewers question which makes the site interactive.

Everyone who writes me via e-mail, our website or through social networking channels gets a personal response. We take the sharing of fishing information very seriously and do everything we can to get the “good word” out to folks. Unfortunately printed books and DVD’s are just not a cost effective way of sharing information anymore.

Check out our website, sign on for reminders to our weekly fishing blogs and go to YouTube (search Fishing 411) to see all of the videos we have on-line as well. Thanks again Tom for writing and also for the kind words about Fishing 411. It’s folks just like you that keep of fired up to produce more fishing information every week.

Best fishes,

Mark Romanack, Host/Producer
Fishing 411/411 Productions

Getting Down With Downriggers

By Mark Romanack

The author caught both this coho and king salmon
with the help of a Cisco Fishing System 
and an Off Shore Tackle OR1 Medium Tension 
Downrigger Release.
The back of the boat looked like a porcupine. Fishing rods jutted out in every direction, their silhouette making a dramatic fishing scene against the rising sun. Strategically placed rod holders held more than a dozen trolling rods and the captain was preparing yet another line.

“When you’re trolling you use as many lines as the law allows,” stated Bruce DeShano.  The owner of Off Shore Tackle Company, and Riviera Downriggers, Bruce DeShano is addicted to trolling.      

DeShano knows that trolling is the quickest way to both locate and catch fish. Despite the growing popularity of planer boards, diving planers, lead core line and a wealth of other modern trolling methods, downriggers remain one of DeShano’s favorite ways to troll.

The Chairman of the Boards

By Mark Romanack

Bruce DeShano, owner of Off Shore Tackle Company, was
recently awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership from the
National Professional Anglers Association.
Bruce DeShano is a lifelong resident of Michigan and the owner of Off Shore Tackle Company. Affectionately known as the “Chairman of the Boards” among his industry colleagues and countless tournament pros, DeShano earned this title the hard way by fishing side by side with the nation’s top walleye pros on all the major professional walleye tournament trails.

DeShano quickly earned the respect of professional and amateur  anglers alike, by walking the walk and testing his own fishing knowledge and skills against the nation’s best. DeShano also used the tournament trail as a proving ground for his many trolling products and as a platform for critical feedback on how best to improve existing products. The many influences of the tournament trail and countless brainstorming sessions lead to a host of new product concepts.

Products like the wildly popular Side-Planer Board, Tattle Flag Kits, Tadpoles, Snapper Releases and the Pro Weight Kits all came to market thanks to input from Off Shore Tackle’s extensive pro staff of professional anglers. Bruce DeShano and his son Nick work closely together in their business and have hand picked an army of professional anglers representing all the species commonly targeted through trolling tactics. On the Off Shore Pro Team are anglers who specialize in walleye, trout, salmon, striper, pike, musky and even panfish like crappie!

Mark's Mailbag - Cheap Backer Line

Mark's Mailbag are occasional posts to the blog in response to questions people submit on the Fishing 411 website.  Mark personally responds to the question and when relevant, we repost his answer here.  If you have a question you would like to ask Mark, please visit us at

On December 25, 2014, Ron writes:  How do you feel about using something less expensive as a backing line on a reel and then top dressing with 100 yards or so of high-quality line to cut the cost of loading trolling reels?

Mark Replies:  Ron makes a good point and the short answer is that I do it all the time. Fishing line is expensive, especially the premium lines that we all covet and want to use. My suggestion is to use old monofilament line as a backing and just as Ron suggests top dress the reel with 100-150 yards of premium line. This works well for trolling reels in most situations.

For jigging reels that don’t require as much line, top dressing with just 50 to 75 yards of premium line is generally adequate and saves lots of cash.

My advice is to buy the good stuff when it comes to fishing line. I’m using Maxima Ultra Green for most of my trolling applications and Maxima 8 Strand Braid for pitching jigs, vertical jigging and some open water trolling chores as well. The investment in premium line is the best way to insure when fish bite, they are hooked and landed.

From a Father's Perspective

By Mark Romanack

Over the years I’ve written literally thousands of magazine articles and been interviewed for countless others for the pages of North American Fisherman, In-Fisherman, Outdoor Life, Field and Stream and many others. When the phone rings and someone wants to interview me for a fishing article, I barely raise an eyebrow. Recently I was contacted by the Detroit Free press, but they weren’t interested in interviewing me or talking about my fishing accomplishments. Instead, they wanted to interview my youngest son, 19 year old Captain Jake.

On The Trail of Trophy Pike

By Mark Romanack

The best pike fishing takes place in late May and early June except in the
far north where anglers can target big 
pike into July. This brute came from
the Pym Island Camp serviced by Hearst Air which is one of the furthest
north camps you can fish in Ontario.
Pike are easy to find and catch. Correction, small pike are easy to find and catch. Trophy class pike
that stretch past 40 inches and weigh upwards of 20-25 pounds are rarely an easy mark. It’s not so much that these fish are rare, but that most anglers don’t know how to search out the waters where these jolly green giants are abundant.

Pike in general are aggressive fish that are susceptible to a lot of popular angling techniques. Waters that see substantial fishing pressure rarely produce trophy class pike because these fish tend to get caught (and eaten) long before they have a chance to reach trophy status. In northern latitudes an adult pike in the 20 pound range can easily be 20-30 years of age! Growing big pike takes time and the fish must live in waters where time
and the odds of survival are on their side.

Seeking out remote waters that see little fishing pressure is one of the most important points to locating good pike water. The types of waters that best fit this category are the countless remote fisheries found throughout Ontario.

The Color of Money

By Mark Romanack with Darrell Wood

Darrell Wood of Sandusky, Ohio is pictured
here with one 
of his “custom creations”
aimed at helping anglers catch more
Lake Erie walleye.
In my family when someone’s hands smell like fish, we joke and say that’s the smell of money. I’ve
made a comfortable living communicating the outdoor lifestyle in magazines, on-line, in books, video and through outdoor TV. Promoting recreational fishing ranks at the top of my priority list and I’m never more happy than when my hands smell like fish!

Darrell Wood is one of the more popular and prolific National Team Pro Staffers for Off Shore Tackle Company’s. It’s hard to be on Facebook and not feel Darrell’s presence. His frequent posting of images, tips and fishing reports helps inspire others to get on the water and follow in Darrell’s wake.

Besides being a talented tournament angler, fishing educator, dedicated father and commensurate ambassador for the sport of walleye fishing Darrell owns Hi Tech Custom PaintedBaits, LLC. As an avid open water troller Darrell knows full well how important lure color can often be in fishing success. That goes double when the lures of choice are popular crankbaits and spinner blades used to target walleye.