Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Girls catch fish on first cast

Granddaughters Molly (left) and Kennedy caught
 a bluegill on the first cast.

About the only thing more fun for an angler than catching fish is helping a youngster catch fish. Last weekend, again I had that fun.
Granddaughters Molly and Kennedy were visiting for several days. They had announced in advance they wanted to fish. I was prepared with red worms and nightcrawlers.
Two rods and reels were at ready. I knew I wouldn’t need one. My attention was directed at assisting the girls catch bluegill or whatever decided to bite. Three chairs also were ready on the lake bank, under the shade of the big poplar tree.
The very first cast by Molly was successful. She hooked a feisty bluegill, and Kennedy was happy to pose with her sister and the fish in a photo.
Fortunately, the fish were cooperative and kept the girls and grandpa busy until supper time.
There’s nothing like it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

If there is water nearby in Florida, there also likely is a gator


Recently, a tragic event took place when a young boy was grabbed by an alligator, and the next day was found dead. I can’t imagine much of anything worse.
I don’t know the specific circumstances, of the alligator attack. Should the parents or Disney have done anything differently. I have no idea. But, I do know it was tragic, and I do know anyone traveling to the southeastern part of the United State should be aware of alligators.
When one lives in Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin or anywhere else in the northern or central U.S, you probably don’t know much about or think much about alligators. But if you head south, a bit of awareness is in order.
Alligators aren't just found in Florida. They can be found from southeastern Oklahoma and Texas on the west to North Carolina and Georgia, and Florida in the east.
While I’m primarily a midwesterner, I ‘m a Florida native and spend a lot of the cold weather time in the central portion of the Sunshine state. I’ve learned a bit about gators and written a number of stories about them. I’m no expert, but I respect them.
The thing I hear most often from locals and outdoors people is that gators are everywhere there is water be it lake, stream, retention pond or swampy area. 
“If there is water, there are gators,” is what you will hear. It’s true even if it is a pond at a shopping mall. A nearly 10-foot gator was captured a year ago from one of the ponds at the mall where we shop north of Lake Wales.
According to an alligator bulletin provided by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, “In Florida, the growing number of people living and recreating near water has led to a steady rise in the number of alligator-related complaints. 
“The majority of these complaints relate to alligators being where they simply aren’t wanted. Because of these complaints, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program permits the killing of approximately 7,000 nuisance alligators each year. 
“Using this approach, and through increased public awareness, the rate of alligator bites on people has remained constant despite the increased potential for alligator-human interactions as Florida’s human 
population has grown. 
‘Alligators are an important part of Florida’s landscape and play a valuable role in the ecology  of our state’s wetlands. Alligators are predators and help keep other aquatic animal populations in balance.” 
According to the FWC, “Although most Floridians understand that we have alligators living in our state, the potential for conflict exists. Because of their predatory nature, alligators may target pets and livestock as prey. Unfortunately, people also are occasionally bitten. 
“Since 1948, Florida has averaged about five unprovoked bites per year. During that period, a little more than 300 unprovoked bites to people have been documented in Florida, with 22 resulting in deaths. 
“In the past 10 years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received an average of nearly 16,000 alligator-related complaints per year. 
“Most of these complaints deal with alligators occurring in places such as backyard ponds, canals, ditches and streams, but other conflicts occur when alligators wander into garages, swimming pools and golf course ponds. 
“Sometimes, alligators come out of the water to bask in the sun or move between wetlands. In many cases, if left alone, these alligators will eventually move on to areas away from people. 
“Generally, alligators less than four feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous unless handled. 
“Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits  killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
# # # # 
GATORS HERE -- Gators can not survive the cold winter weather of the Midwest, however from time-to-time they are spotted here. These usually are small gators kept as pets that escape or are released when they get bigger.
A four-foot gator was found a half dozen years ago at Pine Lake near LaPorte, IN, and several have been spotted in the White River in Indianapolis in recent years.

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 stateparks.IN.gov/2392.htm
A list centennial activities is at INStateParks100.com. 

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; email-csocclay@windstream.net 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