Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Monday, April 14, 2014

Morel mushrooms are fun to hunt in spring, and great to eat

Morel mushrooms come in various size, and may be black, brown, white and yellow.

Some people never have heard of morel mushrooms, and many have never hunted or eaten them. They don’t know what they are missing.
From a selfish perspective, it would be just as well if newcomers never tried them. But yes, it would be selfish. There is something wonderful about hunting, and especially, eating them. However, a caution is in order, don’t eat them unless you know for sure what you are eating.
Morels are a sponge type mushroom that is found during the spring. There are several varieties. I hunt and eat ones that are black, white and yellow. There are hundreds of other types that can be found throughout most of the year. Not all are edible and some are poisonous, so make sure you know what you are picking and eating  It is wise to have an experienced morel hunter check your mushrooms, if you have any question about whether they are edible.
Morels start appearing in the southern  U.S. in March and can be found in far northern state until July. However, in this part of the country, they generally are found from late March though mid-May. 
The earliest I have ever found morels is during the last week of March, and that was only a couple time over more than a half century of hunting. But, late March isn’t too early to start looking. The initial hunting can be combined with scouting for turkeys.
The first of the morels to appear are the black variety. They usually are found in deep woods and often initially appear on the southeastern sides of hills where much of the first warm sun strikes.
Morels range from very small to three of four inches tall. Most of the black are a couple inches tall and can be a bit difficult to see among dead leaves and sticks.
Some small white also appear early, but most come a week or so later after the blacks first appear. The yellow sponges usually are the biggest and appear last, usually about mid-May.
The yellow morels often are found at the edge of the woods, in fence rows, and a favorite place to hunt is in an old orchard, especially around apple trees.
Morel mushroom numbers seem to vary widely from year-to-year. They need warm weather and moisture. Often they will appear after a warm rain. followed by sunshine.
My friend Doyle Coultas from Perry County says a winter with considerable snow is good for producing the tasty fungi, so this may be a good year.
When I return home after a successful mushroom hunt, I cut them in two pieces lengthwise. Rinse off any dirt and bugs, and place them in a bowl of salt water. I let them soak in the salty water overnight to kill any bugs missed in rinsing. There will be some. That’s part of mushroom hunting and eating.
When I’m ready to cook them, I rinse them again. Next I roll them in flour, salt and pepper, and place them in a skillet with about a half inch of hot canola oil. However, I cook up several cut up pieces of bacon in the skillet for flavor, before adding the oil. In my opinion, it enhances the flavor.
I cook them until golden brown, then place them on paper towels to drain prior to serving with the rest of the meal. Unfortunately, I seem to sample so many, it’s tough to cook a serving plate full. Don’t put paper towels on top of the fried morels or place them in layers after cooking. It makes them soggy.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring's arrival presents outdoors person with many choices


According to the calendar, spring has arrived. It seems to be far overdue. No getting around it, it was a really lousy winter.
As we begin to experience some better days, it’s time to think about the wealth of opportunities and choices spring brings us. There are almost too many for most folks who love the outdoors.
Of course there is yard work and other spring chores, but after the snow and below zero temperatures, we deserve to move some of the fun things toward the top of the list.
Crappie, bass, trout and even catfish action is upon us. Big muskies become active at Green River Reservoir. Turkey season is almost here as is morel mushroom hunting, and Kentucky’s spring squirrel season starts in early June.
And should you not really be into fishing and hunting, there is no better time for a hike in the woods with your favorite camera.
Crappie are among the favorite fish of spring. The action will continue to improve as the water warms. 
Although crappie fishing can be productive throughout the year, the best time to catch these tasty fish is around the time of the spawn.
Generally, the best action and the spawn occurs when the water temperature is between about 58 degrees to 66. However, when the water temp reaches the upper 40’s to low 50’s, the fish will begin to move to spawning areas where they will make their nests.
Spring brings with it some of the best Kentucky muskellunge fishing of the year.
Kentucky anglers looking to tangle with a big muskie are fortunate to have an abundance of options – from Cave Run, Buckhorn and Green River lakes and their tailwaters to native muskie streams like the Licking River along with Tygarts and Kinniconick creeks.
Not having a boat doesn’t mean you have to sit idly during this active time. There is good early spring bank fishing at Cave Run and Green River lakes.
Kentucky turkey season opens April 12 and runs through May 4. Turkey youth season is scheduled for April 5-6., and the state’s spring squirrel season will be May 17 through June 20.
Depending on the location and weather, morel mushrooms will begin to pop up at the end of March, and usually can be found into early May. The blacks and tiny white morels appear first, followed by the larger whites, and then the big yellow sponges.
There are days when you can turkey and morel hunt in the morning and crappie fishing in the afternoon. (Forget the yard work for another day.)
The woods are beautiful during spring, and this year shouldn’t be an exception. It is amazing the variety of wildflowers to be found and the forest floor and the variety with of blues, yellows, whites and reds, and a variety of shades in between.
There also is an abundance of wildlife taking advantage of the meals they can make from the new green sprouts, and box turtles seem to  travel everywhere. And if you get out early enough, the birds provide a morning symphony. 
Fortunately, we are blessed in this part of the country with a wealth of places to enjoy a spring walk in the outdoors. Most of our local and state parks have trails we can enjoy close to home.  For longer treks, there is a 65-mile north to south trail across the river in Land Between the Lakes as well as many others in the Bluegrass state.
There are good resources for these longer hikes with numerous books which can be found in libraries, book stores, or on the Internet. There also are Internet websites to help people find trails and get in touch with hiking and backpacking clubs.
Get out an enjoy spring in the woods whether you hike, fish, hunt or some other activity. But, don’t forget the bug and tick spray.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fried spinach; yes, I tried it


       Enjoying a good meal is something I do too frequently. Anyone can look at me and see I’ve never missed many trips to the table.
I was raised as a meat and potato kind-of-guy. As I grew older, I expanded my “likes” and became more adventurous. However, I’m far from an Andrew Zimmer (Travel Channel) bug and intestine eating person.
Earlier this week, I added a new “try” to my list.
While eating at the Crazy Fish in Lake Wales. FL., fried spinach was listed on the extensive seafood menu. It caught my eye. I had to try a side dish of the green stuff.
I like a good spinach salad, but I’ve never been into  eating it cooked.
Our waitress was very pleasant and helpful, so I asked her about the fried spinach menu item.
“It’s really good,” she offered. “It just sort of melts in your mouth.”
She sold me. I wanted to try it.
When it arrived at the table, I was quick to sample the dark green leaves. It was tasty, and yes, it did melt in your mouth. It was quite good.
I have no idea how it was deep fried and still retained it’s shape, but it did.
Glad I tried it, and I would order it again.

With turkey season approaching, finding a place to hunt is key


With all the cold and snow, it has been challenging to think about turkey season. However, it is almost time for the season opener.
Indiana’s youth season is less than a month away. It is scheduled the weekend of April 19-20,
The regular Hoosier state season opens April 23 and runs through May 11. Hunters can take one male bird during the season.
Across the Ohio River, the regular Bluegrass state season opens April 12 and runs through May 4. Hunters may take one bearded bird daily with a limit of two during the season.
Just what impact the extended cold and snow of this nasty winter has had on the turkey population is not yet fully known. Early indications point to some negative impact in certain local areas, however overall it appears there will be plenty of birds available for hunting.
In planning for a spring turkey hunt, there are many factors to be considered. There’s knowing how to call a tom into range, how to judge shooting distance, patterning your gun, and much more, but according to the National Wild Turkey Federation, one of the most important things is finding a good place to hunt.
The NWTF reports a small handful of hunters own their own land and even more are able to join hunt clubs and leases, many others search every year for that perfect spot. And for a lot of these hunters, it means finding good public land.
“The first step in every hunter's search for good public hunting lands should begin with their state wildlife agency,” according to the NWTF. “These agencies are responsible for managing much of the land available for public hunting, such as wildlife management areas or state forests. 
“Wildlife agencies can usually provide complete information on areas close to your home and those areas with the best opportunity for tagging a wild turkey or whatever game it is you seek.
If you are considering hunting other states, state wildlife agencies there also can provide information about available public land.
 Game departments such as the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources (Indiana Department of Natural Resources) can provide license requirements, costs and additional fees that may need to be paid to hunt some areas, along with maps and info on access roads, parking and even local camping or lodging. 
Another place to check is large military bases or federal government facilities. Many bases in rural areas take up thousands of acres used periodically by the military for training exercises or sites unused for future military needs. As such, many of them provide hunting to those willing to secure a permit. 
Realtree Pro Staffer and Wild Turkey Bourbon/NWTF Grand National champion Joe Drake is one experienced hunter who does the bulk of his turkey hunting on a military base in central Georgia. 
To find out if a military base or federal installation near you has hunting opportunities, contact the base's public information office, which will be able to provide you with the info you will need to obtain access and take part in some of the great hunting these areas can provide.
For more good turkey hunting tips, check out the NWTF website (www.nwtf.org).. Membership information also is available at the website.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Burbot ugly fish, but good eating


Fishing a bait near the bottom at Aerobus Lake in Northwest Ontario, something on the end of the line put up a pretty good fight. When It finally was lifted into the boat, the response was, “What the heck is it?”
It probably weighed about two pounds, and was strange looking and ugly. It looked like a catfish crossed with an eel It was a burbot.
Burbot also are called eelpout, mariah, lawyer fish, and ling cod. There probably are other local and regional names as well.
I released the burbot back into the cold, clear water and Aerobus, and later did a bit of research on the creature from the deep.
The following year, I decided I would try to catch more burbot. I decided I would try worms fished deep. No luck. Not another one was caught.
Then recently, my friend Jim Zumbo, outdoor journalist for the Outdoor Channel, who lives near Cody, Wyo., posted a picture on facebook of several tubs of bubot. They were taken through the ice at a special tournament on Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Wyoming-Utah line.
The burbot at Flaming are an invasive species. They were illegally introduced to the lake and apparently are causing considerable damage to the salmon and smallmouth bass populations. 
Recent discoveries of burbot in the Green River at Flaming Gorge Reservoir have concerned wildlife biologists who fear that the burbot could decimate the sport fish population in what is recognized as one of the world's top Brown Trout fisheries, because it often feeds on the eggs of other fish in the lake like Sockeye salmon. 
The Utah Division of Fish and Game has instituted a "No Release" "Catch and Kill" regulation for the burbot in Utah waterways. The recent boubot tourney on Flaming Gorge was a means of hopefully reducing some of the numbers of the fish. Most of the tourney fish were caught at night through the ice.
According to Wikipedia, The name burbot comes from the Latin word barba, meaning beard, referring to the single catfish-type chin whisker or barbel.
Looking like a cross between the catfish and the eel, the burbot has a serpentine-like body, but is easily distinguished by the single barbel on the chin.. The body is elongated and laterally compressed with a flattened head and single tube-like projection for each nostril. The mouth is wide, with both upper and lower jaws consisting of many small teeth. The burbot is commonly confused with its close, ocean dwelling cousin, the lingcod.
Burbot live in large, cold rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Primarily preferring freshwater habitats, but able to thrive in brackish environments for spawning. During summer months, they are typically found in the colder water below the thermocline. Burbot usually aren’t found below the 40th parallel.
The average burbot is about 16 inches long, but the adults range a foot to nearly four feet, and weight ranges from a couple pounds to 25 pounds. The record is held by a Canadian who caught a 25-pound, two-ounce fish in Batcchawana Bay in Lake Superior. The Indiana record was set in 1990 with a seven-pound, 11-ounce fish taken in Lake Michigan by Larry Malicki.
Burbot are tenacious eaters, which will sometimes attack other fish that are almost the same size and as such can be a nuisance fish in waters where it is not native. 
Burbot reportedly are good eating and called by some the “poor man's lobster”. People take the backstrap, boil it and dip it in butter like lobster.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crappie will look up for a bait, but their eyes don't look down for a lure


Sometimes I don’t take my own fishing advice. Some of my angler friends would say that’s a good thing.
Recently while fishing in five-foot deep water filled with lilly pads and pencil reeds in Lake Kissimmee, Florida for crappie, the fishing was much better than the catching. 
Three of us were dipping minnows for the crappie and it was resulting in an occasional fish. In my mind, I was thinking i was fishing too deep. Using a slip bobber, my minnow was probably within a foot of the bottom.
My friends who have fished the pads for crappie more than me, convinced me I needed to be fishing down about four feet down.
Now, I know I was fishing too deep for the crappie.
For years, I have known crappie look up and will bite up, but don’t look down. They don’t look down because their eyes are on the top part of their head. So, it is important to have the lure or bait at their level or above, and not below the eyes of the crappie.
After the recent fishing trip, another fishing friend, Paul  Keeler, asked me how many crappie we caught. They had been fishing near us in the lilly pads.
“Six,” I responded. “How about you guys.”
“Thirty” was his reply.
Paul said he fishes the pads with his minnows about 30 to 36 inches deep.
Well, maybe I was fishing too deep. I’ll find out next trip to the pads. But, then maybe it’s just that I’m a fishing jinx.
# # # #
CRAPPIE TIPS -- Don’t set the hook too hard. Crappie have thin mouths and it’s easy to pull the hook right through them. My Dad always called them “paper mouths”.
Use light line and a light rod so you can properly fight the fish without pulling out the hook.
-- Go small, Crappie have little mouths, so you need to use small lures and hooks.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pro bass angler John Murray answers questions about dealing with late winter, spring cold fronts


Late winter and early spring are notorious for cold fronts in Indiana (Kentucky), and the fronts can shut down fishing. 
But pro anglers like John Murray have to deal with them. Wind or rain, cold front and heat wave, they must fish and catch fish when a tournament is scheduled, not when they want to fish.
Murray, who is sponsored by the Plano tackle company, recently was interviewed by one of the folks from Plano while he was prefishing 69,000 acre Lake Guntesrville prior to the Bassmaster Classic.
  The weather early on during pre-fishing was anything but stable, as last week’s arctic plunge with associated snow and ice did not spare the Lake Guntersville area. Plus, the 70-plus-mile-long body of water is large enough that competitors can experience slightly different climate conditions in different locations. This got us thinking… What’s Murray’s take on cold fronts, warming trends and producing a bass bite in early spring?
  His answers aren’t just significant to Guntersville during the end of February, but relevant at Patoka Lake, the Ohio River embayments or anywhere largemouth bass roam as winter wanes and warming weather comes and goes. Much of the information also relates to other types of bass and species of fish.
  Question: John, what’s the biggest challenge anglers are faced with during their particular spring season, no matter where they cast?
  Murray: Water temperature, and how quickly it can change. For example, the first day of pre-fishing for the Classic the lake averaged 36 degrees Fahrenheit, but by the last day it had warmed to 53. And there’s a cold front predicted, so I’m sure it will cool off again.
  Question: So the bass moved shallow and the catching improved as the mercury rose?
  Murray: Not necessarily. Most anglers would assume the fish start getting active when their sonar shows the water is warming. But that’s not always the case. 
Although the surface temperature may have heated up considerably in a short period of time, the water five feet down may not have and it’s still cold. In this case, the bass don’t just swim right up on the bank just because the surface gets warm.
  Question: Where should bass anglers start their search during this timeframe?
  Murray:  They need to pay attention to protected areas away from the main lake basin like bays or areas that narrow, say, where a bridge crosses. It’s these sheltered areas where the water will be quickest to warm.
  Question: Are all protected areas created equal?
  Murray: Not even close. The ones that have new vegetation sprouting out of the lake’s floor will have fish in them, while the areas that don’t will not. 
For instance: two bays, same size, same depth, same everything but weed growth - the one with vegetation will win out every time. And better yet are the newly-forming weed beds adjacent to deep water. And it doesn’t have to be 100 feet deep, but water starting at 10 feet or more. It’s off these breaks the fish will go when the water gets cold again.
  Question: Like most lakes and reservoirs, Guntersville has a variety of forage, from shad, young-of-the-year fishes and crustaceans - what will you be picking out of your Plano boxes to fool fish at the Classic?
  Murray: If the water’s cold, below 50, crankbaits with a lot of vibration are always a good go-to. Once the temperature reaches 50 and higher, I’m a big fan of spinnerbaits as they can be fished slowly, even in shallow water. This is also the time of year the crawfish start poking out of the mud, and if that’s the case, I’ll pitch a 1/2-ounce jig. And if the water’s clear, swim baits are a must try.