Apple Orchards – Apple Trees at a fraction of the Cost!

Starting an Apple Orchard can be very expensive, but there is a way to cut the cost drastically. How, by grafting scions or buds to rootstock and growing your own trees. Now you may think grafting is too difficult to learn, but you’re wrong, Apples are the easiest fruit trees to graft and it’s more difficult to do a bad graft than a good graft.

Here I will lay out the steps I take for growing my own trees from Rootstock. Grafting using scions, and/or buds is easy and the results are seen within a few weeks. I recommend using Scions as this is easier and quicker than bud grafting.

Step 1 – Choosing & Ordering Rootstock

The first step is to determine which type of rootstock you want for your trees. There are several different types which take into consideration; climate, tree size (dwarf to standard), soil type, and disease resistance. To make things easy for you many Orchard websites list their rootstock and give clear characteristics of each. So choosing your rootstock has been made easy for you, here is one example Raintree Nursery

Step 2 – Collecting Scions Or Using Buds

The next step is to find trees with the type of Apple you like and want in your Orchard. Note; When grafting, your Apple Tree will produce a perfect clone of the apple you took the scion or bud off. This is also how you produce different varieties of apples on the same tree.

Scions can be taken in November, December, or even March, just placed them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start planting in the Spring. Store the Scions in a zip-loc bag with a small moist piece of paper towel, then place them in the fresh food drawer until your ready to plant. If you prefer Bud Grafting then this is done in Mid-Summer, between July 15th and Aug 15th, but you will need to have your rootstock already planted, thus why I prefer using Scions when Grafting. The best Graft for Rootstock is the Whip & Tongue Graft then the Cleft Graft, followed by the Bud Graft.

Step 3 – Preparing Your Rootstock Plot

When growing your own Apple Trees from rootstock you will need to prepare a small area to plant and protect them in. These trees will be in this protected plot for two to three years before planting in the yard or orchard. To protect them from the Deer put a 5ft fence up around the outer perimeter, then just inches away from the new trees place chicken-wire to keep the Rabbits out, and lastly right before winter place white tree trunk tubing around the base of your tree to protect them from the Mice. Tip- To help keep the soil most and rick add a layer of wood chips on the ground and spread some fertilizer.

Step 3 – When To Transplant

When should you transplant your Apple Trees in the yard or orchard, when they reach a height of three to four feet. This may only take two years in the protected plot for some of the trees, but diffidently after their third year in the plot you will want to transplant them.

Walleyes – Three Days Three Different Presentations

Catching Walleye is fun, a good fight, and they are great eating, but catching them can be a challenge at times. On this three day adventure we found the Walleye bite different each night, requiring us to work three different presentations. The first night the Walleyes were very aggressive and slammed the crankbaits, the second night we had to change to a rig that allowed the Walleyes to run with the bait before siting the hook (leech on slip bobber), and the third night we had to change to a smaller presentation with a slow retrieval right on the bottom.

Most Aggressive Walleye Strikes – Evening 1

On the first evening of our Walleye trip we started off using the Bandit 200 & 300. We worked three different colors with the bandit 200 Purple Back producing the most strikes and the Bandit 300 Bumble Bee close behind.

The action was incredible as we caught over 15 Walleyes in just 2 hours. The Walleyes ranged from 14 inches to 22 inches, which is a good eating size. We kept just enough for a good meal that night and then set back to enjoy a few drinks as we told many of our past fishing and hunting stories.

Finicky Walleye Strikes – Evening 2

On the second evening we started off with our Bandit Crankbaits, but after 30 minutes and not one strike we needed to change things up. So we went with a slip bobber and a large leech, eight feet down (11 feet of water) just off a sandbar with a weed line cutting across it.

The Walleyes were very picky as the bobber would go down quickly, but if you set the hook right away you missed them. So we had to let them run, tighten up the line and set the hook once we felt tension. This worked great, as we again caught a lot of walleyes in less than two hours. We then went back to camp and prepared a meal for the neighbor, which he really appreciated.

Slow Retrieval Walleye Action – Evening 3

On the third night I finally remembered my GoPro and told the two Michigan Fishermen that I had to video tonight’s Walleye trip, and that anything they said I could use. They both agreed, I think?

So on this night we started with both the Bandits and a leech on a slip bobber. After ~30 minutes and only one hard strike on the bandit 300 Bumble Bee we figure the Walleyes had to be on the bottom and were even more finicky than the previous evening. So we took a small Jig, added a black/green Crappie Skirt, and tipped the hook with a small leech. It did not take long before the action was on, as you will see in the video.

The Walleye Action ranged from soft taps to almost ripping the rod right out of my hands. The retrieval needed to be slow with very little bouncing off the bottom. The Walleye Bites came in threes, so they had to be traveling in small schools. The video shows it all, enjoy!

How To Catch, Clean, and Cook Walleye & Bass

Catching Bass and Walleye is not that difficult and there are several types of baits that will produce fish, but the method and bait you decide on using can make a big difference in the strike and fight. So if you want to experience the best striking action continue reading!

Most Aggressive Bass Strikes

There are several types of baits one could use for catching Largemouth Bass and some of those baits will produce more fish than others. But are you after quantity, quality, or just good hard hitting action?

I prefer the sensation of seeing and feeling the Bass Strike, which limits me to top-water baits that require a continuous retrieval. Baits such as the Frog, Jitterbug, & Buzz Bait are just a few that fit this requirement. Next you will need to trial a few of these baits to see which one produces the greatest strike action. What I mean is a strike that not only is aggressive on the hit, but one that feels like someone just jerked your arm off. Let me put it like this; no matter how prepared you are for the upcoming strike, the hit is so fast and hard that you’re always caught off guard.

I have found the best top-water bait for producing the hardest strike is the Bass Buzz Bait (yellow/orange). Why, the line is always tight and the retrieval is moderately fast, so the fish is attacking a moving bait. And since the line is taunt majority of the hitting force is absorbed by your arm, which is an awesome feeling.

Modifying The Buzz Bait

I was going through a lot of Buzz Baits and even wrote the company about it. They were kind enough to send me a few replacements, but it still did not fix the problem. The issue with Buzz Baits is they have a weak point at each bend in the metal rod, especially when catching bait jerking Smallmouths. So I have made the following modifications; I first tie monofilament around the end where you attach a swivel, then I epoxy (5 min epoxy) both that monofilament and the skirt (both sides). These modifications help with the following; The distance from the propeller & hook are fixed (no more separation, no more breaking or flying apart after two Smallmouths), easier to get the bait to surface and ride on the surface during the retrieval, and the skirt will last a lot longer.

Most Aggressive Walleye Strike

Again, first ask yourself what are you after, quantity, quality, or a good solid arm wrenching strike? For me it’s the hard hitting arm pounding hit, so I use the 200 and 300 Bandit Crankbaits. The Walleyes seem to hit these on the run and what your rod can not absorb your arm surely will.

As with the Bass Buzz Bait the crankbaits are retrieved moderately fast so there is little to no slack allowing the strike to be absorbed by the rod and your arm, which again is an awesome feeling. Of course the amount of force that is transferred to your body will vary depending on the line you’re using and the action of your rod tip.

Cleaning Walleye & Bass

When it comes to cleaning Bass and Walleye I use the same method as with Crappie and Bluegills, Filleting. The only differences are; you will want to take out the bones that connect the fillets to the top edge of the ribs and remove the cheek meat on the Walleyes as shown in the video.

Cooking Walleye & Bass

There are two methods I like to use for cooking Walleye & Bass. The only difference between these two methods is part D, which can be skipped.

A. Clean the fillets in cold water (no bones)
B. Place fillets on a paper towel and let air dry for 1 hour
C. Season fillets with Garlic and Blackened Pepper (both sides)
D. Shake in Flour with Lawyer’s salt
E. Place in fry pan and cook with oil

Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Catching SmallMouth Bass

In mid June the Smallmouth Bass feed aggressively in rocky bottom areas, looking for small crabs and dragonfly Nymphs. So if you’re looking for a fight take up Smallmouth Fishing!

Smallmouth Action

When it comes to a great strike the Smallmouth is right up there in the top 10. Depending on the bait and presentation you can feel the strike all the way up through your shoulder. Sometimes I think they are trying to take my arm off or break my wrist. For me these Bass are a catch and release fish, so I fish them just to experience the action, and what action it is.

Smallmouth Bass Baits

When the Smallmouth are feeding in the rock bays it’s not that hard to catch them, but the key is what type of strike do you want experience. For a jolt of a strike use a Shad Rap, for a visual strike and a fight all the way to the net use a Buzz Bait, and for continues action try a leech.

The Hardest Strike – The Jolt

The hardest strike I have found is with a Shad Rap, I like the Bandit 200 and 300 series for this. When they hit one of these it’s a jolt on the wrist and arm, A jolt you never seem to be ready for. But the Shad will limit the number of Smallmouth you are going to catch since you are fishing on the drop-offs and in deeper water.

The Best Fight

The best fight and fishing method I prefer is with the Bass Buzz Bait. Here you will not feel the strike like with the Shad Rap, but the fight all the way to the net will be incredible. The Smallies will make sure to give you plenty of air time as well. My only issue with the Buzz Bait is after two or three Smallmouth the bait is basically destroyed or has broken in half, but I now have a solution for that. Something I just tried last weekend and you will see it in the video.

Catching With Ease

If you’re after catching a lot of Smallmouth then try a leech, even in shallow water of 3 to 4 feet. I did an experiment with my two youngest sons where we took leeches and used a good size jig. We then tossed that out with no bobber, straight-line. I set the phone timer and after 30 minutes and we had caught 25 Smallmouth between two and three pounds. Now the strike is light and the fight more like a Largemouth, but the action was continuous and the boys had fun…

Early Morning Bluegills – 2019

Catching Early Morning Gills

There is no better action than catching Bluegills on the Fly-Rod, however the majority of this fishing is done during the Spring, when the Bluegills are in the spawning season. Wait, there is another time when you can catch the Gills feeding on the surface…

Early Mornings – Calm Days

The best Bluegill action next to fly fishing during the Spawning Season is early morning on a calm day, when the water is like glass. You will find the Gills coming in to the bays or close to the weed lines chasing minnows and sucking flies and spiders off the surface. Starting mid June when the temperatures are high the Bluegills move to deeper water and come in early morning to feed. I have found this feeding frenzy to be around 6:00 am and last approximately one hour before the sun pushes them back to deeper water.

So if you’re willing to get up this early you can catch some really nice Bluegills. Baits I recommend are the following; Dry fly (spider), Gulp 2” minnow, and/or a small jig tipped with a Gulp Maggot.

Baits For Early Morning Bluegills

The Dry Fly- I prefer my homemade spiders that cost roughly $0.02/each to make. These things may not look pretty, but they catch a lot of fish. Start by purchasing a sheet of foam, cut out your pattern, tie the foam body to the hook, add the legs, and epoxy the thread and the legs at the exit points of the foam body. 10 minutes later you’re ready to fish. Making Dry Fly Spiders.

Gulp Minnow – Take a torpedo bobber, use yellowish-green (easier to see) and tie on 18 to 24 inches of line. Add a crappie hook and place a 2 inch Gulp Minnow on it. Make sure every cast that your minnow is all the way on or you will not get the action or catch the fish. See how to rig.

Gulp Maggot “Pink Lady” – The pink lady is just a name I gave to the Gulp Maggot so that my grandchildren would not shy away from it. And this worked great as they are not sky about grabbing them and putting them on the hook. To use the Pink Lady I start with a torpedo bobber and 18 – 24 inches of line. I then tie on one of my improved 1/64 oz jigs. How is it improved, by adding flashablu skirting and epoxying this on. The flashablu really gets their attention and makes a huge difference. Now tip this with a Pink Lady (Gulp Maggot), sometimes I think they hit it without being tipped.

Mayfly Hatch

Tip of the Day! In late June you will find that Mayflies have hatched and are all over the surface of the water or at least their exoskeleton is. So on a calm day watch the surface areas just off the weed lines, you should be able to see the Gills popping the surface and feeding. Once you see this grab the fly rod, put on a dry fly, and get after them, working the bay or down the shoreline as they move. You’ll be surprised how big some of these Bluegills are.