Deep Blue Coffee Company

There were a few reasons why I decided to start my coffee company, Deep Blue Coffee Company. First and foremost, I love coffee. Or maybe a better way to phrase it is that I need coffee. A lot. And I do happen to love it. In my opinion, there’s no bigger letdown to start a day than to have a lousy cup of coffee. A great cup of coffee, on the other hand, can start the day off just right!

In my life, I’ve been tremendously fortunate, and have been able to fish all over this wonderful country that we live in. And not just fish in tremendous places, but to share that experience with my brother as we filmed a television show spanning my culinary career and my fishing.

One thing that always came up, no matter our location, was that of coffee. In a new and strange town, where could we get a good cup of coffee? Finding a nice coffee house wasn’t usually a problem, but since we were fishing, we were often out on the water well before the coffee houses opened for business. Sure, fast food places have coffee, but that’s not very good, and in many of the towns that we were visiting, this fast food option wasn’t even a choice. Those dinky coffee machines in hotel rooms just wouldn’t suffice, either, not to mention that the coffee itself is always stale and rancid tasting. I even considered buying and travelling with my own coffee maker.

So my thinking was, as I guide every day with my Traverse City Bass Guide Service, why not offer customers the coffee that I’d be happy to drink in my own home. After nearly 6 weeks of testing, tasting and refining working with a local master coffee roaster, the Traverse City Bass Blend was born, and along with it, a viable coffee option to begin each and every guide day. And best of all is the fact that customers can now worry about getting to the boat ramp and not worry about having a quality cup of coffee in a new town.

Gear Check and Maintenance

During the shorter days of winter, when I look longingly out on the lake, wishing for the spring bass opener, I think of the things that I can do to get ready for the next season from the warmth of my workshop.

It’s during this time that I take the time to visually inspect every crankbait, jerkbait, spinnerbait and swimbait. I look at the hooks on each lure, inspecting them for sharpness, rust or bends in the hooks that can weaken them. I replace the hooks that need it, and neatly organize the lures back into their respective boxes that I’ve carefully labeled. Nothing can be more frustrating than digging through lure boxes or swapping hooks when I’m on the water with customers, trying to either locate a certain lure or having to replace hooks that I was too lazy to take care of when I had the time. Not only is it a waste of time, but also for me it’s unprofessional. So I make sure that I do the necessary maintenance during the off-season.

I also make sure that I look at the split rings on each crankbait, jerkbait and swimbait. These may not seem like a big deal, since they don’t get some of the perceived abuse that hooks do, but given that this is a crucial connection between the line on my reel and the bait itself, it’s worthy of a few seconds of attention. Catch enough fish on a bait, and there’s sure to be some weakening or bending of the split rings. With a good pair of split ring pliers, changing these out is a cinch, and will keep you casting and not cussing.

Winter Boat Maintenance Part 3

Trailer care is another critical component to boating. Not only from the standpoint of getting your prized rig to and from the boat ramp, but also in safety and long term enjoyment. Trailer maintenance is often an overlooked component to the boating experience. Nothing ruins what promises to be a fun day out on the water than something that could have been easily prevented. Believe me, once the excitement of spring fishing rolls around, I’m focused on my fishing gear and boat. Not the trailer that it sits on. A few simple steps when putting it away for the winter can really pay dividends next spring.

First thing I always do is to make sure that my tires are properly inflated. Seems basic, but it’s important to help prevent blowouts as well as help maintain peak gas mileage when towing. Secondly, I always make sure that my bearings are properly greased. Regular bearing maintenance can really help, especially for those that trailer their boats a lot, logging mile after mile chasing fish like I do. Improperly greased bearings can lead to overheating axles.

A few issues can arise should axles overheat. Obviously, there’s the risk of the heat melting other important things like brake lines or the trailer’s brake and signal wires. Excess heat can also make braking more difficult, which is never a good thing.

Most importantly, statistics show that the majority of blown trailer tires are actually from improperly greased bearings. The heat from overheated axles transfers to the tires, heating the air and rubber. Coupled with highway speeds, this heat can manifest itself in the form of catastrophic blowouts. A simple grease gun armed with marine axle grease can help during the season, but at the end of each fishing season, I make sure that I clean, lube and re-pack my trailer’s wheel bearings. That way when spring rolls around, I’m ready to go with no worries!

Winter Boat Maintenance Part 2

General boat care is fairly straightforward. On both boats, I make sure that there is no standing water in the bilge area. I simply open the drain plugs, and leave them out for the winter. This ensures that if there were to be any water build up over the winter, it would drain out, without worry of freezing and damaging lines or bilge pumps.

Another simple measure that I take is to make sure that all of my batteries are fully charged, and if possible, the main power shut off is turned off.

Another thing that I do with the boat itself is to clean it out if I know that it won’t be in use any time too soon. For most of us that store boats in unheated garages or storage facilities for the winter, this could be a very important step. This helps so that there won’t be anything left inside the boat to potentially mold or mildew, and as far as my tackle goes, there won’t be any rusting of hooks with the freezing and thawing cycles of winter.

Last but not least, I always like to put my boat away only after I’ve thoroughly cleaned, vacuumed, washed and polished the boat. It’s much nicer to hop into a boat in the spring that’s been put away cleaned than one that’s full of last year’s grit and grime.

Winter Boat Maintenance Part 1

There has been much written about boat maintenance, and most of it is good advice. For me, owning two guide services that each use different boats, boat and trailer maintenance is a must. I’ll turn this into a 3-part entry, beginning with the boat’s fuel.

With the new government fuel regulations, ethanol is here, and here to stay. Like it or not, we have to deal it, and deal with its consequences, which are very real. I always make sure to use a fuel treatment specifically made for ethanol. While there are several products on the market, I have always used Stabil. The one that is made to help treat ethanol in gasoline is blue, different from the red that Stabil always has been.

For winter storage, this will help prevent phase separation. The long and short of it is that if there is phase separation, we have a classic oil and water scenario to deal with. Phase separation occurs when the water that is present in the fuel (and ethanol carries with it a guaranteed high percentage of water) separates from the gasoline. If this happens, the water will sink to the bottom of the fuel tank, with the gasoline floating on top, hence the oil and water scenario. What happens next, if not detected, is that when the boat motor is fired up, the first liquid that is sucked into the engine is the water sitting on the bottom of the fuel tank. If this were to happen, it is now certainly an expensive visit to the marine mechanic.

After adding the correct amount of Stabil to my fuel tank, I always make sure to top off the tank. There is conflicting information about whether or not to top off or not, but most mechanics will agree that an empty tank left for any length of time will leave room for condensation from the ambient humidity of the air. Condensation, just as the water in the ethanol is bad news. Once the tank is topped off, I always make sure to run the outboard for a while to ensure that the Stabil is run into all of the fuel lines leading into and in the motor itself.

Outboard engine manufacturers recommend installing a second water fuel filter, which will help if there is a small amount of phase separation. This is something that I have also installed, but hopefully I can avoid this phase separation altogether.

Gearing up for the new season

Winter is upon us here in northern Michigan, and the bass boat has been winterized and put away until spring, after a thorough detailing and polishing. So what is a smallmouth fishing guide to do during the off months? Besides dreaming of warmer weather, there are lots to do to prepare for the next season.

To begin with, there are a few crucial elements of tackle maintenance that I always perform to ensure that my gear is in tip-top shape to begin the next season. First off, I always loosen the drags on my reels. Spinning reels, baitcasting or fly reels, it makes no difference. Today’s modern reels still need help to stay smooth and worry free, despite how advanced they are. Drags on reels, as advanced as they are, rely on pressure to work. Loosening the drag will release the pressure on either the cork or the washers or the ceramic surfaces that make up the drag, minimizing the potential for inadvertently misshaping the cork or washers or the ceramic.

The other item that I always make sure to perform is to make sure that all of my rods are either stored straight up and down on a rod rack, or are perfectly horizontal. Even though rods manufactured today are far superior than they once were, they are still prone to being damaged due to improper storage. If rods are left for extended periods of time by being either bent as they’re leaned up against a wall, or have harsh pressure points exerted on them, damage to the blanks can occur, weakening the materials. This can lead to premature breakage, which never starts the new season off on the right foot