Trophy Anglers' Tackle Co.

Turning Circles

"Going In Circles"  photo by Mick NelsonSometimes change can be difficult. Particularly during periods of rapid change. Human nature is to be static. It's how cultures happen. From caves to condos, the adaptations haven't come easy. When something seems to work we don't see the need to change.

However, we all know that things don't stay the same, they are really not static, look at the social technology these days... Anything new is outdated in three years. We, as a culture, now spend about ten times what we used to spend on phones and TV. My last landline had a price of $25 per month, and if you avoided long distance charges that's what you paid. TV was free. Now we have a digital media bill that's pushing $350 per month! That's more than you need for a new luxury vehicle. More to choose from, but content isn't necessarily better. Change for change sake can be a futile endeavor.

That's one of the reasons people resort to outdoor activities like fishing and the like, as a means to retreat back into a simpler and less complicated daily regimen. We go to the cabin or camping and go fish much the same way we had our whole lives. We emulate those that came before us, honoring a timeless tradition fishing the same we always have. Drifting across a structure with jigs, or going in circles around it, trolling fish that aren't moving. Not catching, but, "enjoying the scenery". What a wonderful life, why change it? But, let's understand all the adaptations we have, like sonars, gps, trolling motors that have auto pilot and gps anchoring, not to mention boats that cost 4-5 times more than a new car, that have livewell systems that filter and chill the water to help keep the fish better. As you see, these adaptations can and have changed the culture of fishing.

Fishing as a whole has also changed with the introduction of slot limits. Whether you're a proponent, or not, of that policy, it is clear how different the culture is now than even 25 years ago. Nowadays we practice tournament style fishing, where guys go all day and count the total of fish caught. If they take any they need to go through many fish to find the ones that fit the slot. Then all the fishermen are doing this in order to find a few in the  target size. Hundreds more fish are being hooked and handled in order to perpetuate this process. On certain popular bodies of water this has virtually removed year classes at a time. Gone are the days where you could take six walleyes, it's four now. Or two, or none in some cases, regardless, fishermen are still hooking and handling dozens and dozens of fish per day. We used to stop after we got our limit, handling only around a dozen fish, then moving to a whole different species. We would sometimes catch the "slam". We took more fish than now, but, handled a tenth of what has to be handled now to accomplish the same thing. I don't remember the last time I completed a "slam". You see change is hard. Again, change for change sake is not necessarily a good thing. It can lead to unwanted consequences as well.

One thing that prevails through all of these changes is that old adage, "necessity is the mother of invention". Someone invariably comes up with a positive solution to a negative dilemma. Trophy Anglers' Tackle Co. has done just that with the Trophy Anglers' Livewell. The applications in this product are answers to many unwanted consequences, from the releasing of healthy fish via catch, recover and release to changing fishing styles like control drifts to trolling. It helps control the boat in so many ways. One in particular is what we call "turning circles". While drifting across a piece of structure, turn on the trolling motor to create a large, slow circle going counter clockwise. Allowing the wind to slowly skate you across the piece while slowly turning left. This creates a "lea area" in which to jig in and control the bait, while covering more area in search of the fishes pattern there, rather than blow through with your jig at an angle and having trouble tickling bottom. An unusual solution to a nagging problem. In this case change is a good thing.

It also remedies the problem of wasted fish. They are back in the lake where they came from as opposed to banging around in a hard well, in the pitch black suddenly, breathing artificially charged air, along with all their own waste and stomach contents. If you only catch a couple, you still have the ability to let them go. Just imagine the millions of fish that have been needlessly wasted through traditional practices that have been good enough. Change can be a good thing.

So, we won't be afraid of change when we see how good the change can be. We can and do adapt in ways that we don't even mean to. We can all take charge and change as we see fit.  Change for change sake is not necessarily a good thing. With the Trophy Anglers' Livewell, change is a great thing.

Written by Mick Nelson — February 26, 2017

Simple Chores

photo by Mick NelsonTake care of your stuff, my Dad always said. I hated it, it wasn't the fun of doing it. He hounded us boys on this. Not because he loved things and not out of some convoluted idea that it was a status symbol. No, it was out of a great respect for the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to bear down and work hard enough to even attain these things. His attitude was a virtue. He was no stranger to the blood, sweat , and tears as a carpenter and a sheet metal tradesman. He had tools (some are still around) that are older than me (let it suffice-I'm old), and they are still in service. My boat is in very good working order. It may have a few battle scars but that's ok, it shows character. I've owned it since 1989. I have no need to replace it. With taking care of it, I may never have to.

As with the Original Trophy Anglers' Livewell, if you take care of it, it can/will last a lifetime. In fact I still have one in use from 1989 (maybe before that). With some simple steps yours can/will last "forever" too. After filling the Livewell and then filling the freezer (with a legal bag limit), all that is needed is to thoroughly rinse the Livewell and hang outside to dry. Usually by the time I pack up the truck and load the boat, the Livewell is dry. Simple as that. I would seriously recommend this if used in saltwater. If you fish the salt you know how necessary it is to thoroughly rinse down EVERYTHING before storing. Another good reason to thoroughly dry (preferably in the sunshine too) is to prevent the spread of invasive species. Then they rest in the boat in my garage and I have never had an odor problem as long as I do that simple task of taking care of my stuff.... Thanks Dad.

Written by Mick Nelson — September 30, 2016

What's In A Trophy?

In a recent conversation, I was asked, "why would you want to hurt a fish, just to have it stuffed and call it a trophy?" Briefly I froze, as the multitude of offenses ran through my head about the confrontation. The assumptions and judgements made against me, the obvious lack of understanding about the subject, and the audacious manner in which the conversation started knocked me off my base and I almost fell for the baited argument. I simply responded, "a trophy is different things to different people...", "what's a trophy to you?". It didn't really matter what that trophy was for that person, my point was it was something. That deserves respect in and of itself. Just the fact that someone has worked in a direction to accomplish a set goal and achieve that goal. I didn't try to disprove a negative, I simply pointed out the similarity between them and me. That point opened the door to true discussion and I hope, anyway, that it is clearer what is in a trophy, at least for me.

I was able to explain that I don't kill them, I only have one "trophy" on the wall, but lots more in the water, and thousands of "trophies" have graced my dinner table. The Trophy Anglers' Livewell is designed for all of those goals mentioned. It supports captive fish in a way that actually "hospitalizes" the specimen while you continue to fish. The moving Livewell forces the fish to swim which keeps them upright and allows their metabolism and air bladder to reach a more normal condition, so you can release them in a truly healthy state or keep them alive until it's time to eat. 

You see, a trophy to us is an accomplishment, it doesn't have to be a huge fish or a monster buck for it to be considered a trophy. When my daughters caught their first sunfish or a bass by themselves, those were true trophies. They weren't huge, but they are huge in my memory. Fortunately we did get pictures of some of the "biggest" trophies of my fishing life that were caught by my girls or others. A trophy is something different for everyone.

The idea behind our name, Trophy Anglers' Tackle Co., follows the premise that angling is not easy. It's not a mindless pastime. "Trophy Anglers" put a lot of effort into accomplishing the goal of understanding fish biology well enough to consistently find and catch fish, let alone huge fish, and spend a lot of resources to do it. Great effort is taken in conserving the resources like venting tools, barbless hooks, and even by not allowing certain species to even be raised from the water. Modern day anglers are devoted conservationists and have displayed an attitude of improving the environment and fisheries. We've been at the forefront of changing and improving the processes by which the resource is utilized. The same level of devotion and effort is necessary to accomplish any goal, whether it be at sports, work, academics or anything else where a person derives some sort of award for their accomplishment. I am proud to be a "Trophy Angler". Call them what you want; degrees, diplomas, awards, etc. They are trophies. We are anglers, therefore, "Trophy Anglers". Life is full of trophies, so what's in a trophy for you?


Written by Mick Nelson — February 21, 2016

Help Stop The Spread Of Invasive Species

It is well known that across the country we have seen an explosion of various invasive species. Zebra mussels, spiny water flea, and Eurasian water milfoil to name a few. Here in Minnesota it may be necessary to have your boat steam cleaned before you can launch. Or perhaps throw very costly bait on the ground or in the garbage because of the uncertainty as to where the water in your bait bucket came from. Oh yes, it happens all the time. They even have large containers to hold the gallons of wasted bait. The potential to have any number of invasive species in a minnow bucket are there, especially if we are lake hopping from known infested waters. So more money gone in the effort.

Millions upon millions of dollars are spent every year in an attempt to stop the spread of invasive species, yet they continue to increase in population and advance in range  in spite of all the efforts. But, that's no reason not to try. As the adage says, necessity is the mother of all invention, and a very simple device can be used to help stop the spread of invasive species, and save the bait. That device is the Trophy Anglers' Livewell. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Rather than only randomly pour out bait containers so the water does not enter the system, we can pour out all bait containers at the lakeshore through the Trophy Anglers' Livewell and then save the bait by placing in the lake. Fresh bait can then be put into bait containers using the water from the current lake. Or just use the Trophy Anglers' Livewell as your bait container. We now have fresher bait and we can help stop the spread of invasive species.

Written by Mick Nelson — October 04, 2015

Trophy Anglers' in Canoe Areas

I opened my left eye just a crack, trying to stay in the moment, all snuggled up in the first awesome sleeping bag I ever owned, on top of a state of the art bed pad. I was momentarily amazed at how nice it was in my bed at this time. The bliss was leaving me by the moment however, as I admired how well my new gear worked. After all I was enjoying this bliss on a cold, early summer morning in a wilderness area that can only be accessed by canoe or kayak. Or by rowboat, too, I guess. But, to be sure, no motors of any kind and no wheeled assistance either. This area is one the last true wild places at least in the lower 48, the famed BWCA, in northern Minnesota.

Annoyed at the interruption, I realized it was futile to pursue this endeavor as I listened to the noise that hauled me unwillingly from my dreams. Then it occurred to me that I was this comfortable in one of my favorite places on earth, and this was an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful, peaceful sunrise. Except that incessant noise. That splashing! Splashing? Like I was hit with the splash water, I realized the noise was something ravaging our stringer of walleyes, that was submerged just off the shore of our camp, in about 10-12 feet of water. We put them there in an attempt to keep shoreline predators from stealing our catch over night. Alas, we did not account for turtles. But turtles don't make those kinds of splashes, so I thought "Bear!" As I eased my head out of the security of my tent, I was relieved it wasn't a bear. But astounded that it was seagulls. These scavengers, who strangely enough were actively feeding even before the sun rose, were dive bombing our stringer and succeeding! Pulling out fish pieces with every dive, in 12 feet of water! What a shame. All the fish were decimated.

The previous day's fishing was one of those days that you dream about. My Dad, brother Dan, and I arrived in our paradise with only about 2 hours left of light. We had planned on eating the fish we caught for that day's supper. The concern was we were so late that we may have to eat bread and water. We were greatly pleased by a huge school of walleyes that chose residence just 100 yards or so from camp. We effortlessly stringered a cool dozen fish in plenty of time to get a fire going before dark. We ate like kings and looked forward to a fish filled trip. Both belly and soul. This was going to be one heck of a trip, we thought.

About an hour or so after the beatiful, peaceful sunrise, we were greeted by the obligatory rainstorm that seems to accompany every entry into this wilderness. It can be nice everywhere within 500 miles, but it will dump on you when you go there. Be prepared. It stormed for the next day and a half, which kept us tent bound contemplating an early exit from this piece of Eden. As the sun began to shine, the hope was rekindled, we were going to have a great, rest of the trip. That was about the time the wind arrived, 20-30 mph winds out of Canada made its way upon us and ended our dilusions. Even a hike over land to the area that provided the fish at the beginning of this "adventure", proved fruitless. We were able to fish from shore, the same area the walleye were residing in, only to find they had either left or contracted lockjaw from the cold front. We did not catch another fish the rest of the trip. We ate more pancakes, dried potatoes, and oatmeal than I ever would again. Luckily for us the weather turned just as it was time to leave this wonderland, so our exit was the highlight of the trip.

The subsequent days led me into another storm. The one in my head. I could not get over how the events of that trip came together to ruin what had started as a dream trip. I kept thinking there had to be a better way to keep fish alive when in the boundary waters so I wouldn't be caught short again, if possible. I even harkened back to a 36" behemoth walleye I caught as a kid on a trip into Canada with uncles and cousins. I was disheartened to not be able to keep it alive long enough to get it home to mom and dad. Surely they would let me get a fish like that mounted. But, I was overruled by the leadership and the fish was processed through giant fish fry that evening. I couldn't stand the idea of these type of events. Necessity is the mother of invention. My baby is the Trophy Anglers' Livewell. At only 2 1/2 lbs. it packs in and out with ease. It can easily be tied to a pack, or even in an armful of paddles and life jackets. It isn't hard to portage in and out, and allows for the "long term" holding of fish. An insurance policy for the bounty.

It tows alongside your canoe and actually helps stabilize the canoe steering. There is a lot less switching back and forth, particularly alone too. That lends itself well to kayakers as well, as you are generally alone while using one. It has spent quite a few nights deployed and full of fish. I am pleased to say I have not lost a fish that was kept in the Livewell. Except for one, a smallmouth bass that waited for its chance to escape. As I removed the fish for pictures, forgetting it had been in the water for days, fully recovered and fresh, the fish shook so hard it ripped the pad on my thumb which broke my grip and the clever smallmouth bass fell free into the water and escaped. I haven't had the same experience since. No more stringers. No more buckets. I've even been able to take some fish home when the trip is done because they can be held alive until the trip out. We always have some ice left, certainly enough to get to a place where we can get more, so now we actually can plan to take some home. I won't go there without it.

The Trophy Anglers' Livewell was made for the boundary waters, or for that matter, anywhere one may paddle.


Written by Mick Nelson — March 06, 2015

HEY! Get Your Hands Out of Your Pockets!


Any day I'm able to be on the water is better than a day when I can't. There is a plethora of reasons to be denied as I make that decision, whether to "hit the lake", or stay in. There have been just as many days as reasons not to go, where I was wrong about my decision to be there. Many of those days go into the category of "adventure" or "an experience you can't get on the couch at home". Euphemisms for "I shouldn't have been there". However there are those days that kind of say "go home and take a nap", or "get inside and thaw out my hands, I can't feel the rod let alone a bite!", but the fish still bite. So we created the "Hot Rod Handle Wrap". It is a hand warmer for your fishing rod handle. It helps you keep your hands out of your pockets and on your rod. 90% of all hook sets happen while holding the rod...... In all seriousness though it does help to power through those days that want to chase you in, and some of those days can be gangbusters. It's useful for almost any cold hands fishing situation, such as big fall smallies on Erie, or early season walleyes on Mille Lacs. It's great during ice fishing season too. I even use them on the shooting rail while hunting, or on my rifle wrist so I keep my firearm ready in hand for that moment of truth. Simply add any "charcoal pillow" type handwarmer and wrap around the reel seat area of your rod and fish. As long as the charcoal pad stays dry, your hand will stay warm while holding the rod. Instead of big heavy gloves where you can't feel anything or your hands get too cold to operate, you can just keep fishing. Doubling the active fishing time doubles the chances for actual fish. When it's not so cold a charcoal heater isn't needed, but still cool enough, you can use it with just the insulating foam and still keep your hand warm while fishing. Not instead of fishing. So order your Hot Rod Handle Wrap today and get out in the "not so sure days" and find out just what might happen when you can just keep fishing. Good luck out there. Don't catch em all, save some for me.

Written by Mick Nelson — February 09, 2015

Keep Fish Alive Longer

   When you come from a family that has fished throughout its history, generations that have ranged from Europe to Canada and now the US, you can't help but learn to appreciate the idea of preserving fish and fish habitat. Over the years we have seen plenty of trophy fish and  your plain ol' eater size fish grace many a camp kitchen, wall, or photo album. But, unfortunately we have also seen a lot of good fish go to waste due to some inadequate or just plain out dated fishing practices such as buckets and stringers. Even boat livewells force the fish to breathe CO2, ammonia, and breathe in water that has been chemicalized or tranquilized.

That is why we have created the Trophy Anglers' Livewell. Instead of depleting one of our most precious natural resources, the Trophy Anglers' Livewell provides the opportunity for every fisherman to actually assist in the cultivation and propagation of our fish populations. Yes, now there is another way to help improve everyone's chances of catching their limit or landing that trophy. Take the Trophy Anglers' Livewell along the next time you go fishing and we all can help improve the fishery. We can also improve the quality of the fish we bring home to our families. We firmly believe the only reason anyone didn't like fish was because the fish they ate weren't any good for various reasons, such as dying on the stringer, in the bucket, or even in the boat livewell. The common denominator is the fish were dead far too long to be fresh. The longer you can keep a fish alive the better it will be at the table.

The Trophy Anglers' Livewell allows you to release the fish that you just caught quickly and unharmed and keep it, comfortable suspended in its own natural environment. The versatility of the Trophy Anglers' Livewell also lets you use it in varying ways in order to care for your catch. Keep your catch on the end of the dock, or submerge the Livewell in case of bad weeather or to keep your catch in a more preferred temperature and oxygen level.If the preferred temperature isnt known, we suggest 55 degrees farenheit is  a good general temperature in which to do this. It will generally not be necessary to submerge the Livewell in more than 15 feet of water in order to find a good temperature and oxygen level. However temperatures will vary from region to region, and from season to season. Also a good spot to submerge the Livewell would be near cooler moving water. The Livewell is towed alongside the boat as well. It serves as a counter balance to the interference of wind, so it allows for better boat control while casting shorelines or other structure. It features 4 depth adjustment strings, placed at quarter intervals and woven into the walls of the Livewell, which raises the bottom ring thereby accomodating shallow water less than the 22" depth of the livewell. Because of the Livewell's shape and the materials used, it moves over, through, and around any structure situation with ease. it doesnt even mind stick ups, laydowns and deadheads. There is a drawstring top that opens automatically with one hand while you control the fish with the other, allowing you to put the fish right back in the water they came from. Trolling is still an option as well, while maintaining a troll with a spinner rig or crankbait. The Trophy Anglers' Livewell can also be used as a drift sock by letting out a little tow line. also because the top ring causes a suction to the water surface you get less bow bobbing as well as a slowed drift. Many professional anglers agree that boat control is key to catching fish. the sturdy construction protects your catch from predators of all types. we have seen turtles fail, and have never seen a predator able to accomplish the taking of fish or the damage of the Livewell, especially if it is kept submerged. Yet the soft pliable netting doesnt harm the fish in the way that wire baskets, buckets, stringers, or even the hard sides of a boat livewell. The Trophy Anglers' Livewell is the answer to keeping fish long term as well, such as going into the wilderness where boat livewells won't do any good. So you see the Trophy Anglers' Livewell is the most versatile fish keeping device on the market today. Yet it is more than just a fish keeping device, it is the floating fish basket that keeps fish alive longer!


Written by Mick Nelson — October 07, 2014