Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Monday, August 27, 2012

During late summer, early fall catfish begin to feed for winter

Late summer and early fall is a great time to catch catfish. At this time, they begin feeding for cold weather.

        There's plenty of warm (and probably hot) weather left before fall's cooling breezes, and there's plenty of time to catch big catfish
During August and September anglers usually find some of the best catfishing of the year, including some biggest fish catches.
Hot late summer weather and warm early September days mean slow fishing for most species. Fish seem to slow down just like anglers in the heat but for catfish anglers, these hot days and nights can mean “hot” fishing. 
Some of the biggest catfish of the season are taken during this period of time. The state record blue cat (104.5 pounds) was caught in August from the Ohio River near Hawesville. During that week, several anglers caught cats over 50 pounds in the area.
A recent early August King Cat tournament on the Ohio at Vevay produced big catfish, especially for some participating Kentucky teams.
       Taking first place was the team of Scott Cress of Covington, KY, and Carl Crone of Villa Hills, KY,with an impressive weight of 190.1 pounds and earning $4,300. Scott and Carl were fishing the Markland Pool targeting fish in 30-50 feet of water using skipjack to catch around 60 fish over the two-day period. Each team was allowed to weigh in five fish each day of the competition.   
            In second place was Rob Benningfield of Bowling Green and Ricky Eisett of Louisville, weighing in a close 188.3 pounds and earning the team $2,000. Rob and Ricky were fishing just below the Markland Dam in 30-35 feet of water anchoring and drifting  using skipjack to  catch eight fish in two days.                                                                                           
         But these warm days of late summer aren't limited to river fishing, they also are productive in lakes as well whether fishing Kentucky Lake, Green River, Patoka or Monroe Reservoir, as well as Hovey Lake, despite it's shallow water. The Wabash River upstream from the Ohio also has plenty of catfish to fill a freezer for good eating months ahead.
Catfish can be caught anytime of the year and anytime of the day, but probably the most likely time to catch big cats in warm weather is at night. Catfish seem to prefer to feed late evening and early night. Some studies show there also is another significant feeding period in early morning, just before daylight.
Most cats go into deep, cooler, darker water in summer time, especially during the day. But like everything else, there are exceptions. They often will come up to feed in early evening,
Not all catfish are alike. There are a number of different species of cats and they have different habits, including what they prefer on their menu. Blue cats and channel catfish select from a varied menu and will bite on night crawlers, chicken livers, cheese and stink baits, and minnows. 
Channel cats at times can be aggressive. I’ve caught a number of channels on bass lures. What I anticipated was a dandy largemouth turned out to have whiskers.
Flathead catfish, who earn their name from the shape of their head, prefer a diet of live fish, and among their favorites are shad, skipjack herring and bluegill.  
In late summer, flatheads prefer deeper holes, but they will come up at times in search of food. And of the big cats, most fish eaters agree that the flathead is the best tasting.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Possible cases of deer EHD reported in Central Indiana

Several people in Indiana and Kentucky have reported finding dead deer, and their is a suspicion the cause may be EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease).
Approximately 20 dead deer recently were found in Putnam County, Indiana, plus several in Morgan County, and there have been some reports from readers related to western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
Some of the Indiana deer have been examined by state wildlife officials, but at the time of this writing, no official cause of death had been reported, although EHD is suspected. One sample from Morgan County was sent to the Center for Disease Control in Georgia, but results have not been reported.
The virus, called EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease), seems to occur every few years in white-tailed deer, and is not infectious to humans. However, it may mean hunters in some areas may see fewer deer during the upcoming hunting seasons.
There was a serious outbreak of EHD in at least six midwestern states--including Kentucky--in 2007. Southwestsern Indiana was hit hard.
EHD is caused by a virus and outbreaks seem to occur every two or three years. While in some severe cases, up to a third of the herd in an area may succumb to the disease, the deaths don’t have any long term negative impact on the numbers of deer.
The disease is spread by biting flies, also known as sand gnats, sand flies or no-see-ums. 
Outbreaks usually happen in late summer and early fall because of the increased presence of these biting gnats. Although deer affected with the acute form of EHD are most most often seen during this period, deer with chronic cases can be found during winter.
Signs of the disease depend on the strength of the virus and length of the infection in the animal. Hemorrhagic disease causes fever, labored breathing and swelling of the head, neck tongue and eyelids. Infected deer may die within 72 hours or they may slowly deteriorate for months from lameness and starvation.
Drought conditions this summer may be contributing to the current reoccurrence. During drought conditions water holes that remain have a higher level of salinity (salt) than normal. This water with increased salt makes ideal conditions for the gnats to reproduce in higher numbers.
Squirrel seasons opens Aug. 15 and, archery deer season open in a little more than a month,  so, hunters may find more dead deer. And while EHD can not be transmitted to humans, biologists say hunters should avoid eating any deer that appear to be infected.
EHD should not be confused with the unrelated brain disease, chronic wasting disease (CWD), which has never been found in Indiana.
EHD usually affects local deer populations until a few hard freezes kill the biting midges that spread the disease.

Monday, August 6, 2012

LTF lures provide exciting fishing action for bass and crappie

One of the perks of being an outdoor writer is from time-to-time, manufacturers send me free lures to try.
A number of months ago, a box arrived by mail from Lake Fork Trophy Lures of Emory, TX. Inside, there was a wide variety of soft plastic worms and small jig-types, presumably aimed at crappie.
I intended to contact someone with the company to learn more about the baits, but we never connected. The box sat among the other mess in my writing room.
A few days ago, late in the evening, I tied one of the jig lures onto the light line of my ultra-light rig, and walked to the lake behind the house. It was hot and the water low. I didn’t expect any action. The third cast, I landed a nice, but fairly small bass. Then I had several other hits and landed a bluegill before heading back to the house.
Last evening, I thought I would make a couple more casts. I had hits on my first three casts, and about five minutes later a large bass inhaled the small jig. It peeled off line, and made several more runs in front of me. I knew the four-pound test wasn’t going to bring in the fish. It didn’t. But, I had fun.
Now, I want to try some additionall LTF  lures, and learn more about them. I’m not sure why they work so well, but I hope to find out. That will make a future column.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lasting drought impacts squirrels, deer, other wildlife

        Squirrel season is almost here, and despite the heat and drought there should be plenty of squirrels to hunt.
The Indiana season opens Aug. 15, but due to the heat and leaves on trees, many squirrel hunters won’t take to the woods until later this fall.
Indiana’s season remains open through Jan. 31 of next year, and the daily limit is five.
Squirrel populations are dependent on a number of factors, however two keys include weather and mast (nut) availability. The nut crop one year impacts the population the following year. 
Based on last year’s nut crop, there should be squirrels around this fall. However dry conditions may make it more difficult to slip up on squirrels, but on the other hand they may be more concentrated around the remaining limited water resources.
Squirrel, fried crispy brown is mighty tasty, and there is nothing better than squirrel gravy made with the skillet leavings. Fried squirrel, and the gravy over mashed potatoes make a great meal, unless you are on a serious diet.
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DROUGHT PROBLEM --  Oaks are the most important tree species to wildlife in forests, but the impact of this years drought remains to be seen. White oaks are faring better than red oaks so far, according to information from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources.
         White oaks produce acorns that are a critical food source for squirrels, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear and many non-game species. White oak acorns are preferred by wildlife because they are more palatable. Acorns produced by red oaks contain tannin, which makes them bitter.
         White oaks can produce acorns every year. Entire crops are often lost due to late freezes and heavy rains just as pollination of oak flowers begins as well as summer droughts.
         Philip Sharp, a private lands wildlife biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in Crittenden County, said its too soon to make a prediction on the mast crop in western Kentucky, the area of the state most affected by drought. The situation in much of southern Indiana is similar to the conditions across the Ohio.
White oaks have small acorns now, but that is  pretty typical for this time of year. They can grow a lot in a short period of time and fill out in late summer, according to Sharp.
    Red oaks are not faring as well. Some areas of western Kentucky are really dry. There are places that have had about a half inch of rain in the past two months, said Sharp. “I’m concerned. The dry conditions are killing some of our red oak trees on ridges with thin soils.”
The impact on the oaks may have a larger effect on next year’s squirrel population than  this year.
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DUCK HARVEST LATER -- A Delta Waterfowl study has confirmed what veteran duck hunters have long suspected: harvests of many waterfowl are taking place significantly later in the year than in previous decades. 
The study examined data from the annual Parts Collection Survey. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has collected comprehensive harvest data from hunters since 1961. 
“With few exceptions, harvest dates for mallards throughout the mid-latitude and southern states have become consistently later,” says Dr. Rohwer. “Mallard harvest is on average 10 days later in Arkansas, 15 days later in California, 16 days later in Illinois, and 12 days later in Virginia.” 
The study found that most migrant duck species, including gadwall, ring-necked, pintails and green-winged teal, have significantly later harvest dates. Blue-winged/cinnamon teal and mottled ducks were the only species to run against the trend. 
In Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana milder weather seems to have delayed migrations, according to many waterfowl hunters. In fact, there has been concern that many of the waterfowl never completely travel south as they end up staying around open water lakes where there is food nearby.