Archive for category Cancilla’s Fishing Blog

You Never Know

This past weekend I fished a PA TBF district tournament @ Shenago Reservoir. My dad and I practice most of the day on Friday and we only managed 7 bites between the 2 of us and only 3 keepers. If that wasn’t bad enough there was no consistency on how we got any of the bites. The structure was different for each fish, the lures were different, the colors of lures were different and the end of the lake was never the same. Over time I have learned that I tough practice doesn’t always mean a tough tournament, or a bad finish.

Coming into the event I was leading the points race because I won the first district event, so I really wanted to do well again. Not that you ever want to accept doing poorly. After the bad practice I had one spot that I though I could run to and at least get one keeper so that is where I decided to start. My rider and I pulled up to the spot and started working the bottom. There was a slight about of baitfish activity and my rider switch to a top water lure. His popper was quickly eaten by a short largemouth. About 2 casts later he hooked up with a keeper that came off half way back to the boat. My fish had came from working bottom bouncing lures through practice, but I quickly changed to a top water sexy dawg. My 2nd cast I hooked up with the first and only keeper we would land. A few casts later I lost a keeper that was bigger than my first.

On a lake like Shenago a lost fish as a boater or rider can just ruin your day. The next spot we hit we each lost another keeper on topwater. I knew at that point winning the tournament or even contending would be difficult. We fished hard all day and never caught or hook up with another keeper.

Coming into the launch I didn’t believe that I would even be in the top 10 as a boater with 1 keeper. I had told my rider not to worry about his 2 lost keepers because it probably wouldn’t have cost him money. The truth to the matter is that both of us if we had landed those fish would have won. The winning boater weight was 6.16lb and the winning rider weight was 3.16lbs. The 3.16lbs was caught by my dad which he won lunker and the tournament as a rider with the 3.16lb largemouth. My single fish of 2.27lbs enabled me to finish in the top 6.

The lesson from this tournament that I learned was to never assume that you don’t have a chance in any tournament no matter what body of water you are on. The winning weight with 4 fish on Shenago should have taken 12lbs, but it only took half of that. As a rider only 1 fish was needed. Never release a fish in a tournament as you just don’t know.



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Soft Plastic Molds

In my last post I stated that we would discuss the difference between injection and hand pour molds for making soft plastic lures. First, you need to know the basics about molds. Molds can be bought or made out of multiple materials. The highest end molds are made from aluminum. These molds have great detail and last the longest with little wear. You can also purchase molds made from resins and copolymers. Some guys make molds from wood and plaster of paris or POP molds. All molds can have the same amount of detail, however, if you want a mold to last stick with aluminum.

Injection Mold

Injection Mold

Let’s talk about injection molds a little bit. When it comes to injecting soft plastic the most important thing to remember is safety, safety, and safety. Start by wearing a respirator, protective glasses, and gloves. Injectors are very good, but all parts on them can come loose, or you can over shoot plastic. The plastic you are injecting is between 300 and 340 degrees. Injection molds will have multiple wing nut and bolt combinations or call for multiple clamps. Do not try to use the molds without all the bolts or clamps secured. Injection molds can come from as few as single cavity and can have as many chambers as the injector can hold plastic. Typically there will not be more than 20 cavities. My recommendation is to find a mold that has at least 2 cavities. It will be worth the extra money in the long run. After experimenting with molds I have found myself buying the highest cavity quanties that I can find.

Injection lures is not something that will come easily. You have to learn the ins and outs of using them and it is best to learn by trial and error. You will get frustrated but once you master the system you will be producing perfect baits at a much faster pace.

Hand Pour Stick Mold

Hand Pour Stick Mold

Hand pour molds come in many forms. They can be made from wood, plaster of paris, resin, aluminum and just about any other material. The molds can be 2 pieces or they can be 1 piece that is open to one side. Open face molds will always have a flat edge to them. Open face molds are good molds to learn from because they often take less skill and you can tell if you have made a mistake as you are pouring the lure. Two piece hand pours are typically made from aluminum and most of the time you will be able to use an injector in them once you mastered using the injector. Do NOT try to learn how to use an injector on a hand pour mold. Stick worm and beaver molds are very good hand pour molds that are 2 pieces. The 2 piece molds require you to pour the hot liquid plastic into a small hole in the top of each chamber. This takes a steady hand and some patients, but you will master these molds in a hurry.

There are many websites that you can use to buy molds that are premade. I recommend visiting them before you start. Often times the guys on those websites are willing to help you along and can really help you get started. Some of the companies will even send you samples of the lures so you can make sure that you like the lure the mold produces. Those companies charge for the samples, but it is worth the little bit of money to make sure you are getting the right mold for you.

In my next post I will discuss how to pour stick baits and what makes a stick bait sink and how you can change the fall rate when rigged weightless.

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TBF State Championship

Last weekend was the TBF State Championship held at Cayuga Lake in New York. This year I was fishing the tournament as a boater and with one tournament and weeks experience on the lake I felt confident that I could do well. After 2 days of practice I was ready to get the tournament started. What I had found was there were more fish shallow that were willing to bite that deep, but the deep fish were bigger.

Day one I left in the 3rd flight boat 60 of 71. I actually wanted this because the fish I had found seemed to bite better in the afternoon. My strategy was to go shallow and get 12-13 pounds and move deep to look for a kicker. This was a case of not knowing what I had truly found in practice until tournament day. I had never left the shallow water day 1 because I boater my kicker 4.89lb largemouth at 11:30 and would cull fish all day to get to a total weight of 15.89lbs. This left me sitting in 5th place with a chance to move onto the mid-atlantic.

Day 2 I drew boat 5 in the first flight so I was going to be able to lay my claim to the same water as the day before. However, day 2 would not go as smoothly. It started great because I landed a kicker fish of 4.88lbs at 8:30am. At this point I was thinking it was meant to be. My entire bite was based on sunny weather and I would sit in the areas waiting for 1 hour of sun if I knew it was coming. I culled throughout the day with overcast conditions, but couldn’t get enough quality bites. Then at 2:00 the sky got brighter and the big fish started to bite. The only downfall was that I couldn’t keep them on the hook. I lost 2 fish in the 3lb range on back to back casts. At the end of the day I brought a limit of 12.58lbs to the scale giving me a 2 day total of 28.47lbs. Which before the tournament started I would have expected that to get me to the mid-atlantic. I ended up finishing in 8th place just out of the cut line by 1.4lbs.

Normally, I try not to think about what might have been because everyone in the tournament probably lost a couple fish that mattered, but this one hurt a little extra. Some of the lures that helped me were Berkley Havoc Pit Boss, Chatterbait, Mann’s Minus 1, Spro Popping Frog, but most of my fish came on hand poured senko’s that I make myself. If you have never fished the finger lakes I highly recommend taking time to travel to that area and experiencing some of the best fishing our great country has to offer.

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Pouring Soft Plastics

In the past winter has been a somewhat unhappy time for me because the lakes are frozen and fishing is very limited. Personally, I have never been one to drill a hole in the ice and fish. However, lately I have found myself enjoying the winter months more and more. A few years ago I started pouring my own soft plastic and lead jig & weights. In my next couple posts I will show some pictures of lures, molds, and tools that I use. This post will show you some very general information.

First of all, I should tell you that after a couple years of doing this I can honestly tell you that I do not want to try to make a living pouring lures. It is a great hobby, but it is very time consuming and can become frustrating at times. Here are several things you should know before you start.

1. You should have a well ventilated area or work with a garage door or at least a window open.
2. Moltant plastic & lead are both over 300 degrees during pouring and have toxic gases. Practice safety by wearing gloves and a respirator at a minimum. (Safety glasses are recommended.
3. Getting started is the most expensive part of pouring anything. Molds can be expensive and it will cost you a decent amount of money for liquid plastic, glitter, dye and other supplies.
4. The internet is your best friend. There are many forums and guys out there willing to help you become successful at it. They might not give you the mix for this colors, but they will help you with any problems that you are having. This includes me. Any knowledge I have gained you are welcome too.

A good place to start looking for supplies is There are several good companies when it comes to molds. Aluminum molds are expensive, but they are worth the money. A lot of companies will send you samples of the lures before you by the mold so you can see if it is something that you want. In order to get the samples you will often have to contact them via email or by phone. Realize that you can get hand pour molds and injection molds. In my next post I will explain the difference between the 2 styles of molds and the basic equipment and supplies you will need for both.

As always good fishing!

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Dick’s Sporting Goods

This past weekend I spent Friday and Saturday helping Dick’s Sporting Goods with their grand opening at their two new locations in the area. Berkley and pure fishing had asked me to represent their companies and talk to folks at the new Cranberry location on Friday night and the new South Hills Village location Saturday afternoon. Doing this enabled me to meet a bunch of great customers, fellow fishing and future fishermen.

I would like to say thank you to Ted, a rep for eagle claw and seagar line, and Eric, a rep for Diawa, for sharing the experience with me and teaching me about their products. Of course I was happy to talk to them about all of the great pure fishing companies.

For all of us fishermen in the area the new stores are such an improvement in the fishing department. They each have an extensive fly fishing area. A better selection of rods and reels. The lures, hooks, accessories, and tackle products make these stores the most well stocked in the area. Both lodge managers told me that if there are lures in which we wanted to stock in any brand to tell them and they would see if they could get them in. Remember Dicks Sporting Goods sponsors the Keystone Bass Buddy Circuit (KBBC) so give them your business to show appreciation for their help in making our local tournament circuit function.

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The last couple of weekends I have been spending them at Pymatuning Lake.  Water conditions have been extremely low and the water temperatures are running much warmer than usual at this point.  This hasn’t stopped the fish from biting though.  The entire spring the water has been low leaving the bass to spawn in different areas than normal and fisherman having to adjust without being able to fishing in their normal areas.

Two weeks ago was KBBC event.  My dad and I are a team as always and have been catching a good number of bass up there.  Two weeks prior to the KBBC event we won a touranment catching prespawn fish on a staging area.  Because the spawn was going on for this event that spot wasn’t holding up.  We ended up flipping weeds with beavers and tubes to get ourselves to a 14th place finish.  Not a great finish, but when you can’t find spawners getting almost 15lbs of fish is a good day.

This past weekend I fished my first YRBA tournament on Pymatuning.  The guys in the club were really excepting and put on a nice tournament.  It was a 2 day event and we fished 6 to 2 on both days.  Day 1 Jon and I managed a small 11.85lbs of fish.  However, Sunday we managed to boat 17.26lbs in the boat by switching to ledge fishing.  That switched allowed us to win the tournament by .35lbs to a team that fished weeds both days.  I am looking forward to the next event I get to fish in that club.

Hopefully, before the next tournament up at Pymatuning the water level rises some.  If you are fishing a tournament there any time soon.  Don’t forget to keep your livewells cool with lots of ice.  Post spawn is very tough on fish in a livewell and they aren’t used to warm water yet.


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Preparing for 2012

The last few months have been very long for me. With some of the warmest weather I can remember in Pennsylvania I have not been able to fish. If you recall I had been dealing with a shoulder injury for most of the summer. Well in Septmeber after the KBBC Classic I decided to go ahead and have the surgery knowing that it would be a 4-6 month rehab. I am happy to say that I am about 2 1/2 months into the rehab and things are coming along nicely. I still can’t fish or hunt, but everyday life is slowly getting back to normal. Which means I have started getting ready for the 2012 fishing season.

December is a great month to stock up on fishing tackle. Most stores run Christmas sales, on-line sales with free shipping, or simply end of the year sales. Some places that I recommend checking are tackle warehouse, lang big fish, and cabelas. Often these sales don’t last very long so I tend to check the websites 1 or 2 times per week.

I have found that if you contact companies they will often give you bulk pricing on weights, hooks, and even lures. It never hurts to ask and when you are like myself and going to buy 200 bullet weights to get me through the year, you may as well buy in bulk and save money if you can.

Well good luck to you still heading out on the water. I know I would be heading out this weekend to try to get some last minute fish. Remember you might not get a bunch of fish this time of year, but you will usually get good fish to bite.

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KBBC Southside Tournament

Last Saturday was the final regular season tournament in the Keystone Bass Buddy Circuit (KBBC). Dad and I decided that because we were sitting in 11 place in the standings we were going to take an all or nothing approach to fishing the event. Which meant to us that we were going to try to lock twice. I know a handful of guys risk doing this every year and some guys make it back on time and some don’t. What we had decided is that no matter what we were going to start locking back up at 11:00, even though the tournament hours were until 3:00. We would start locking with or without a limit.

The tournament started at 6:30 and we ran to the first lock, and when we pulled up to it the doors started to open! We were very excited because this meant no wasted time. Once we got through that lock, we quickly ran to the next one. Another boat went up and pulled the chord so we stopped short to make a few casts. I think we were able to make 4 casts and they opened the gates again! Never in my wildest dream did I expect to have both locks line up and let us get to our spot by 7:40. I knew then that we had a better chance to do well.

Our first spot was a creek mouth that I had practiced the week before and caught a number of keepers and dinks. Turned out to have more dinks than keepers during the touranment, but we were able to get 2 keepers from the spot. One decent keeper and one that was around 12 3/4″.

Then we ran to a spot that I found were there was a metal wall, but there were a series of rock humps and wooden structure that was submerged. We got to that spot and I immediately caught a small keeper. It was around 12 1/4″. About 5 minutes later I caught a really nice 15″+ smallie. That would be the last of the keepers for that spot.

We fired up the boat again and ran to another spot by a couple of barges. Quickly dad caught our lunker smallmouth for the day and another keeper spotted bass. At this point we were really excited because we had our limit and it was only 10:30. The problem was that we were out of spots that produced for me in practice. We ran around fishing quickly for about 30 minutes looking for fish but nothing happened. So we decided to lock back through to the next pool.

Like clock work we were able to lock right up through and quickly ran to a spot we had caught them in practice. Once we locked back through we were able to catch 2 more keepers. One that culled and one that didn’t. One was off of a rocky bottom and the other was off of an old metal structure. We locked back through to the southside pool around 1:00. A 2:35 dad got a good bite, but the fish jumped and trashed away from the boat and was able to get off. The fish would have culled, but I think it may have only been able to move us up 1 or 2 places in the standing.

Overall, it was worth the gamble for a couple of reasons. First, we made it back on time. Second, we got away from the crowd. Third, we had decent fish located. Forth, we really had nothing to loose. Seven of the eight keepers we caught were on weightless stick worms. The stick worms were ones that I make myself that are very soft and are a slightly different brown color than most companies make. The other keeper was on a beaver that was green pumpkin that I made myself as well. I am a believer in making baits that no one else has and it has really paid off for us this year.

Congrats to Chuck Walker Jr. and Chris Covert for winning the points title for the year. Their 6th place finish shot them up to the top.

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Where Have I Been?

For those who follow the blog, know I haven’t posted anything in a while on my personal blog. I have worked on other parts of the website, but just haven’t posted much on my blog. There is a very good reason for this….Memorial Day Weekend I tore muscles and cartlidge in my shoulder. Although, it has been painful, I have tried to fish but have had limited success. To go with the limited success working at the computer tends to bring a little extra pain to my shoulder, so when I am done with work I don’t want to see a computer until the next day. I scheduled surgery in September. Don’t worry I schedule it so that I would be able to fish in the KBBC Classic and the Wednesday Night Championship.

This weekend dad and I will be fishing the last regular season event of the KBBC circuit at the Southside. At this point most guys know that I typically struggle at the river. However, because I have started to pour my own baits fishing the river is becoming easier as I am really keying in on color and size of the lures better. Maybe I am just getting a little bit better at river fishing? Who knows, it could happen. Either way I am looking forward to the event this year. Practice has went pretty well. I do not think I am on the right fish to win, but I feel that a top 5 finish isn’t out of the question. Let’s just hope that barge traffic and the locks don’t ruin my day. I have never made a gamble like this before and I might never do it again, but we are willing to risk it all for a chance to win. Good luck to all that are fishing.

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Good Fishing

This past weekend was one of the most unbelievable fishing weekends that I have ever experienced. It started with fishing the KBBC event at Pymatuning Lake on Saturday. My dad had practiced for the event on Thursday and was confident in his spots and what made me happy is where and how they were getting them. Plus, I had been there the previous saturday for a 1/2 day and my spots were close to his. That makes for a maximized fishing day. It took me about 3 flips and I had our first keeper and we never looked back. We had our first limit in the first hour of the tournament and had 1 good fish in the well. Then it was time to start culling. And boy did we cull a lot of fish. Switching between flipping, working soft plastic on breaks, and topwater we were able to boat between 45 and 50 keepers. The majority of which were largemouth bass. More than likely we caught 4 limits of 6 fish that would have been over 12lbs. It was a record setting day for the Keystone Bass Buddy Circuit. 81 limits were brought to the scales and over 1100 pounds of fish were weighed in. If it wasn’t for a 1/2 pound dead fish penalty we would have collected a check, but we still finished 22 with 15.11 pounds. More importantly we moved up to first in the standings. It is a long season, but this is by far the best start we have ever had.

Sunday we got up and decided to ride to Presque Isle Bay to try and get into the smallmouth bass. We got there and there was a very strong wind out of the northeast. These are not good conditions to fish the bay. Especially when the wind is blowing 20-25mph and raining hard the entire time. Unlike the weather the fishing was unbelievable. Between the 2 of us we boated over 50 smallmouth in 6 hours. A couple were over 5lbs and about 10 were probably in the 4lb range. most of the fish were in the 3lb range though. The key to the day was actually getting your lure to the bottom. If you didn’t you weren’t catching fish, but as soon as you got down you were getting bit.

If you are looking for somewhere to fish this weekend I highly recommend both of these fisheries, as this could be the best weather we have had in weeks to fish during the weekend. Good Luck.

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