Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Indiana state parks will charge only a dime admission this weekend

Free fishing is available in Indiana and Kentucky this weekend, June 4-5,
and Indiana state parks will only charge a dime to visit

Visiting an Indiana  state park in Indiana on this weekend (June 4 or 5) will cost just pocket change—literally.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, it is part of Indiana State Parks celebrating their 100th birthday by “rolling back” gate admission to a 10-cents-per-person donation for each of those two days. 
It also is a free fishing weekend in the state. Anglers can try their luck without a fishing license. It is hoped the free fishing opportunity will bring newcomers to the sport or bring back former anglers.
The cost of ten cents per person to enjoy a state park is what visitors paid in 1916. The special donation rate applies to all 24 parks and eight reservoir properties operated by Indiana State Parks on June 4-5. 
Col. Richard Lieber, founder of Indiana State Parks, believed that the cost of operating state parks should be borne in part by users. Indiana’s state parks have had entrance fees since the beginning. 
According to information provided by the Indiana DNR, about 70 percent of funding for operating costs today comes from gate, camping and other fees,
Dan Bortner, director of Indiana State Parks. said, “We think that inviting our guests to make a donation at the 1916 rate is a great way to celebrate our centennial, and a way to encourage all Hoosiers to visit a state park and enjoy a day outdoors,” he said. 
Admission at most state park properties normally costs $7 per in-state vehicle and $9 per out-of-state vehicle. 
Visitors who have an annual pass or a Golden Hoosier Passport can still use those for admission. 

Additional fees for activities inside the park, such as off-road bicycling, horseback riding and camping, still apply at 2016 prices. At Falls of the Ohio State Park, the discount applies to the parking fee, but admission to the interpretive center will remain at current prices. 
Attendants will be collecting the donations at the entrance gates, so remember to bring your dimes and spare change. And while just 10 cents per-person will get you in, visitors also are encouraged to give a little more if they can. 
Generally, all revenue collected at gates, campgrounds and pools, and for programs and passes goes to one account to support operations at all 32 properties. For this weekend only, all donations collected at entrance gates will remain with the park in which they were received, and will support local property programs and projects. 
Turkey Run and McCormick’s Creek were Indiana’s first two Indiana state parks, established in 1916 as a gift to Hoosiers on the 100th anniversary of Indiana statehood. Cagles Mill Lake was the first reservoir property operated through the DNR, opening in 1953. 
A list of state park properties, including an interactive map to find the park nearest you, is at
A list centennial activities is at 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bats are good for eliminating mosquitos, but often misunderstood

One morning a neighbor called. “Hey, come over to my place. You’re the outdoor guy. I want show you something, and then I’ve got a couple of questions.”
That type call always worries me. I’ve been writing about the outdoors for half a century, but still know very little about it. There is so much to know. Usually what I do know, is who to ask for their expertise.
When I arrived my friend was still eating breakfast. “Come out here on the porch. Look up there.”
“Bats,” I said. There were three hanging between a couple of rafters. They were small and brown, but I had no idea what species they were. At least for me, it is nearly impossible to tell one from the other.
“What will happen to them this winter?”, he asked. “I thought they stayed in caves at night.” It was obvious to me that  some research was in order.
While I enjoy watching bats swoop and dart at dusk, my knowledge of the animal is nil. I know they eat a lot of insects, including pesky mosquitos, and that’s important these days with all the concern for Zika virus. 
Zika apparently is spread by mosquitos, and the government plans to spend more than one billion dollars to combat the disease. 
According to non-game biologist Brooke Slack, there are 15  known species of bats in Kentucky.
Most hibernate in caves during winter months, but migrate in warmer weather and will travel several hundred miles to a summer home.
Bats breed in the fall, however the females do not become pregnant until spring, according to Brooke. There is a technical term for it, but essentially, the sperm lies dormant until after hibernation.
According to an Indiana Department of Natural Resources website, “Bats are probably the most mistreated and misunderstood mammals. People believe that bats are carriers of rabies or that they have a desire to fly into women’s hair. Neither of these rumors is true, as well as the vampire stories that surround these harmless creatures.
“Bats are clean animals and are no more apt to carry rabies than a dog or a cat. Contrary to popular belief, bats are gentle creatures that benefit man by consuming large quantities of pesky insects.
“In spring, bats emerge from hibernation and migrate to their summer homes. Because they separate into smaller social units, little is known about summer habitat requirements. Females form maternity colonies of up to 100 bats during the summer. 
“Bats feed entirely on night flying insects, and a colony of bats can consume thousands of insects each night. A gray bat (an endangered species) will eat up to 3,000 insects per feeding. Bats locate these insects by emitting high-pitched sounds and waiting for the echo, which allows them to zoom in on the bug's location. 
“The fat reserves accumulated by devouring these large quantities of insects during the summer and fall allow the bat to sustain itself during hibernation.
As we sat on my friend’s porch, he explained the bats in his rafters spend their day hanging upside down from the rafters and disappear at dark. “They don’t bother anything,” so they can stay,”

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crankbaits will attract large crappie

Guide and crappie pro angler Todd Huckabee shows a crankbait used to catch large crappie.

When most anglers think of attracting crappie to a hook, they think minnows or jigs, or maybe a combination of both. They don’t think crankbaits.
This old writer is in that group. Crankbaits never crossed my mind. I never heard of using a sizable bait like a crankbait to troll for crappie until a couple years ago while fishing with several outdoor writer friends prior to a crappie tournament at Kentucky Lake.
On the particular trip, very few crappie were being caught. However, an angler from Missouri who fishes the crappie tournament trail, caught his limit both days we fished. He was using crankbaits, and not little ones either.
Todd Huckabee, a pro angler, guide, and crappie tournament trail angler, raised more than a few eyebrows later when he spoke to a meeting of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoors writers last October in Alexandria, Minn.
Huckabee debunked some of the popular myths angles have held for years about crappie when he explained some of the techniques used by tournament anglers.
He said trends and techniques used by tournament anglers are making their way to recreational fishermen who now are catching more and bigger fish.
“For so long, a crappie fisherman would go out and drop a minnow or jig into a brush pile or a weed line. If they didn’t catch a fish, they would say the crappie weren’t biting, and they would go home. What they are starting to find out is when the tournaments come to town, these guys, including myself, can catch a lot of fish on any lake no matter what the conditions,” said the 28-year-old pro.
Huckabee, who guides Oklahoma lakes for crappie, saugeye and bass, says  successful anglers experiment. “We are constantly trying to find new ways to catch crappie to give us the edge over the other guy (competitor)” he explained.
Among the techniques he listed were: pulling crankbaits, casting crankbaits, spider rigging with multiple rods, and using bigger jigs and lures.
Many of the veteran outdoor writers were surprised when Huckabee started talking about trolling crankbaits for crappie.
“People think these crankbaits are really too big for crappie. I’ve caught crappie just a little bigger than the lure on crankbaits
“Crappie are part of a weird myth that they have a small mouth, and that they feed on small insects. However, most of the crappie feed on the same forage as walleye and bass. They are really aggressive feeders,” according to Huckabee. “A lot of times if you really need to catch a bigger fish or a lot of fish, the crankbaits will get a really good reaction.”
He uses crankbaits where there are clean breaks and “not a lot of stuff to get hungup in.” He trolls the lures 70 to 100 feet behind the rod and from one to two miles per hour on eight-pound test line.
“It’s amazing how many fish you will catch,” he said with a big smile.
Another trend in crappie fishing he discussed is the move toward larger plastics like the two-inch Yum Beavertail, which is one of his favorites. It is a 3/16-ounce bait.
“It is a huge bait for crappie. I catch four and five-inch crappie on this bait, and I also catch bigger fish...With bigger baits, you still are going to catch some smaller fish, but you’ll catch more of the larger fish than you would have caught using a smaller jig,” he added. According to Huckabee, much has been learned by watching crappie underwater. “They will move up and suck in a bait and spit it out before you know it. With the larger baits and hooks, the fish can’t spit it out as quick. They will thump something and let you set the hook a lot quicker.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sucker fishing, snipe hunting aren't jokes; well maybe when you are a kid

Doyle Coultas displays a sucker in front of a dogwood tree. When the dogwood blooms, suckers are on the riffles.

Sucker fishing may be a bit like snipe hunting. If people have ever heard of either, they think they are jokes, but both are real.
As a youngster, we neighbor kids used to take a new kid “snipe hunting.” The newby was taken out in the dark and given a bag to hold, and we would drive the snipe to him. In reality, we went off somewhere and laughed, and finally the new kid figured out he had been tricked.
In reality, snipes are migratory birds and there is a snipe season. And, there also are fish called suckers, that in early spring are fun to catch and good to eat.
“When the dogwood blooms, the suckers are on the riffles.” is an old saying about sucker fishing. In early spring about the time dogwood trees bloom, suckers move up stream from lakes or deeper water onto gravel riffles in the streams to spawn. It's one of the best times to catch these bottom feeding fish.
There are approximately 80 species of suckers. The ones I’m most familiar with are called white suckers. 
Apparently the fish is commonly known as a “sucker” due to the flesh papillose (elongated and tube-like) lips that suck up organic matter from the bottom of rivers and streams.
White suckers, can be found in streams and lakes throughout the Midwest as well as in some other parts of the country. It is the most common and easily caught of the sucker  family
Suckers are fighters, especially during spring spawn runs, when they congregate in streams. Suckers from lakes try to make their way into streams feeding the lakes. They travel to the streams to spawn.
The spring spawning runs of suckers from larger streams or lakes into small streams signall fishing season is once again underway.
Suckers are bottom feeders and primarily eat invertebrates such as insect larvae, scuds and crayfish, and they can be caught on a variety of worms, and can be caught on most any tackle from cane pole to spinning outfit, to flyrod.
Four-to-six pound test  is good for suckers, since they probably will be found in clear water above gravel beds. Fish the bait directly on the bottom with a stationary rig using a sliding sinker, or a drifting rig that allows the bait to move along the bottom with the current.
Whether flyfishing or working with a more traditional rig such as a spinning outfit, you will find them in many locations from large lakes to small trout streams. In small streams, the suckers often are found in slower, deeper holes. However, fish which are actively feeding may be found in the main channel.
Interestingly enough, most good trout streams have sizable sucker populations. They like clear, clean water, and spawn on gravel bottoms. As a youngster, I hiked high into the Rockies and in a valley found dozens of trout in a small stream, but quickly learned they were suckers.
The Kentucky record for a white sucker is 1.63 pounds and date back to 1996 in Slate Creek in Montgomery County. The record for a redhorse sucker is nine-pounds, one-once caught in 2003 in the Rockcastle River.
While many people think suckers are inedible, the sucker actually has a very tasty, sweet meat. The problem is suckers are filled with tiny bones. The secret to preparing them is scoring the fish with a sharp knife all the way down to the skin, cutting the bones as well as the meat.
After scoring, the fish are battered in cornmeal or your favorite batter. When cooked in the hot grease, the smaller bones will dissolve and you will have tender pieces of delicious fish.
Suckers are fun to catch and good to eat. When the dogwood blooms, try your luck for some sucker fishing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Book features Kentucky bass fishing

Soc Clay has been a friend for many years, and I’ve always admired his photographic and written outdoor works. Truth is, he has been one of my idols.
I’ve learned a lot from Soc, especially related to outdoor photography. I just wished I had retained 10 percent of what he taught.
Soc, who hails from the hills of Eastern Kentucky near South Shore, has a newly released book. It is named “Bassin Around Kentucky,” and is said to be the most complete bass fishing book ever written about bass fishing in Kentucky. 
This treasure of bass stories, bass lore and bass fishing tips, is the results of more than 60 years of devoted bass fishing experience around the commonwealth by Kentucky’s senior outdoor communicator, Soc Clay.
He has fished with hundreds of Kentuckians on lakes, reservoirs, stream and rivers. He’s as handy with a casting or spinning rod, as he is a flyrod. And the application of all three methods to seek out bass from top to bottom at all times of the year.
Soc has been fortunate to fish with some of the best bass anglers who live in Kentucky and the pros who come to fish in Kentucky. Ray Scott, founder of BASS, is a personal friend and both have learned from each over about the bass fishing world and how it applies to both new comers to the sport as well as to seasoned veterans.
Readers will discover master advice from the masters of bass anglers across Kentucky. They will be introduced to legends like Charley and Ernie Taylor of Somerset, of Billy Westmoreland, Fred Martin, Buddy Banks, Tom Applegate, Freddy Hall Barry Dean Martin, Bob Dillow, Bill Sauer and a hundred others too numerous to name. 
Soc picks these anglers because they have special ways to catch bass.  There’s a story about Billy Phillips, a lady’s shoe salesman catching bass from six inches of water when water tempts are reaching toward 90 degrees. They will read about Ricky Craft a deputy sheriff, who knows how to catch bass in the middle of winter- in shallow water!
Also included is the history of the Kentucky Reels that was invented in Paris (KY) and the development of the casting and spinning reels from the early 1800s until today.                
Flyrodders will read about the history of fly-fishing in America- and heck, this is a big book, so they will hear about Soc’s upbringing and how he learned to fish.
The book sells for $20, tax and shipping included.  Autographed copies are available from Fern Hollow Publishing, 350 Fern Hollow, South Shore, KY 41175; or by phone at (606) 932-4126. This book will be available at several outlets in Kentucky and can be ordered from Amazon, Kindle and other online outlets

Monday, April 4, 2016

Not just the youngsters are winner; Clunn wins BASS tourney at 69

Rick Clunn takes BASS title at age 69.

At age 39-plus, Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl ring. The first one came with the Indianapolis Colts, and this one with the Denver Broncos.
The feat was exceptional for Peyton at his age. In fact it is exceptional for anyone at any age. However, what Peyton did as a 39-year-old battered National Football League player will long be remembered and admired.
So it was with interest recently that some writers brought up Peyton’s name in a comparison with the feat of professional bass angler Rick Clunn, who now is 69 years old and won the recent Bassmaster Elite series.
On Nov. 5, 1976, Clunn, who hails from Missouri, claimed his first B.A.S.S. victory in the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville.
It was his first giant step toward becoming a true legend in the sport of professional fishing as Peyton has become a living legend in professional football..
Earlier in March of this year, Rick won for the 15th time on the B.A.S.S. circuit — and in many ways, this step might have gone even further toward cementing his legacy.
Clunn, who will turn 70 in July, caught five bass that weighed 19 pounds during Sunday’s championship round and won the Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River in Florida easily with a four-day weight of 81-15. The win was bolstered by a monumental catch of 31-7 during Saturday’s semifinal round.
“I was certainly feeling some pressure after having such a big weight yesterday,” said Clunn, who finished 4 pounds ahead of second-place finisher Greg Hackney (77-15). “Through the years, you just learn to hide it better. Having my son (River) here helped a lot.”
After catching 16-11 and 14-13 the first two days, Clunn was in 31st place and seemed a longshot to make Sunday’s Top 12 championship cut. But the incredible catch of 31-7, which ranked as the third-best five-bass limit of his career, gave him the lead going into the final round with 62-15.
And while Peyton Manning has decided it is time to retire from the batterings in pro football, Clunn has not talked about any plans to hang up his rod on the pro circuit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Scouting before opening morning can lead to turkey successLocating turkey

Locating turkey tracks can lead to a successful hunt.

Some turkey hunters get lucky on opening morning. They forget and slam the truck door, as a result a turkey gobbles nearby, and within minutes they have bagged a tom.
The above scenario isn’t the norm. It is very, very rare, but I’ve been present when it happened. However, the best way to increase the odds of a successful hunt takes some time and work prior to opening morning.
The spring turkey season dates for Indiana are April 23-24 for the youth only hunt and regular season is April 27 through May 16.
The turkey experts at the National Wild Turkey Federation say, “As spring openers beckon, most turkey hunters practice calling, sight in their guns and ready their camo. One task is more important than all others, though: learning the whereabouts and habits of turkeys where you hunt.”
In a NWTF news release, it suggests the process of locating birds “should start weeks before the season. If you plan to hunt new or unfamiliar ground, learn everything you can about the layout, terrain and foliage.  
“Study aerial photographs and topographic maps. Walk the land, and take mental notes of fences, creeks, marshes, draws, ridges, buildings, agricultural fields, timber stands and property boundaries.
“As spring nears and winter flocks of turkeys begin to break up, begin your scouting in earnest. Take an outside-in approach by glassing fields and open timber from roads or high points. Sit at high ridge tops or the edges of timber to listen for roost-gobbling. Make frequent trips, and note how gobblers seem to be dispersing across the landscape. 
“Talk to landowners, mail carriers, truck drivers and other hunters to learn where they encounter turkeys. Their observations might provide a missing link you haven’t discovered.
“After you get a good sense of what’s happening, put boots on the ground to learn the details. Listen for early morning gobbling, and try to pinpoint roosting areas. Observe potential feeding and strutting areas, such as meadows, food plots, open benches or crop fields. Watch how birds travel to and from roosts to feeding areas. Note how turkeys react to various weather conditions, including bright high-pressure mornings and rainy, windy days.
“Turkeys won’t always be talkative or visible, so search for other clues. Tracks, droppings and strut marks can reveal travel, loafing or feeding areas. Droppings and feathers — especially primary wing feathers — near suitable trees might reveal roosts. Dusting areas can be hidden gems, as turkeys visit these frequently during the day. 
“As you find sign, look around for potential setup spots or ambush sites. A hot field edge might be the perfect place for a pop-up blind. A cattle-gate crossing with a large burr oak nearby provides a dandy setup.
Disturb your hunting area as little as possible while you scout. 
“Always listen and glass ahead of you, and move carefully to avoid bumping birds. Use locator calls if you wish, but don’t run turkey calls. The turkey talk itself won’t scare gobblers, but you don’t want to risk accidentally yelping in a bird and spooking it.
“In the days before the opener, take stock of all your information and plot strategy. Identify the best spots for fly-down hunts. Note places to intercept birds as they eat or travel. And plot out good plan B spots where you can cold-call or walk and call during quiet late mornings.
“One caveat: No matter how well you scout and prepare, turkeys will throw you curves, even opening day. That’s OK. Apply the knowledge you’ve gained and adapt your approach. You can never learn too much about the land and turkeys you’re hunting. Not knowing enough, however, can leave you shaking your head while holding an unfilled tag