Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Late fall and early winter crappie can provide fish for winter meals

Todd Huckabee displays a fall crappie caught while on a Minnesota fishing trip.

There are three good times to crappie fish. First is during the spring spawn, second is late fall and early winter when waters cool just before really cold weather, and the third is anytime you get a chance to fish.
Lat fall crappie (“slab”) fishing is time for putting crappie in the freezer for winter meals. They taste mighty delicious with fried potatoes and slaw when the wind and snow are swirling around the door sill.
Most anglers prefer spring crappie fishing when the fish will hit almost anything around the time of their spawn. During this time the fish don’t travel much. They are relatively easy to find and catch.
However, fall has its advantages . There usually are fewer people fishing, thus less competition. And, the weather can be beautiful. Spending a day on the water on a crisp, fall day is hard to beat. They usually are some sunny warmer days in December.
It’s true that crappie are likely to move more and be more scattered during the fall. As the water temperature begins to cool, the fish will begin to move from deeper water into the shallow to feed before winter. They are looking for food, especially minnows, and you are likely to find the crappie where you find minnows. Many anglers look for the minnows to find the fish.
Even though crappie may be scattered, they still will move close to the shoreline and shallow water. They can be found around structure such as rocks, weeds, ledges and channels. Then as winter arrives, the fish will start gathering together and form schools once more.
Two other productive fall techniques include drifting and spider rigging trolling. Both ways include multiple hooks. One caution is to make sure the number of hooks you want to use is legal where you are fishing.
Whatever method is used, patience and persistence is important. It may take time to locate the slabs, but when you do, they can be caught. 
Much like early spring, late fall usually has lots of cold front and they can completely change crappie behavior. The fish change may require fisherman change as well. It probably will require a slow presentation of the lure or bait. The fish may be hungry, but still will not hit a fast moving bait.
In the spring if you catch a couple of crappie, you likely will find more in the same area. You probably can fish one general location and have a good outing. In the fall, the fish move and the fisherman needs to do the same. If you aren't catching fish, you need to be on the move.
Since crappie are on the move in the fall, one of the best methods of fishing for them is casting small lures,using techniques much like bass fishing. Not only is it one of the most productive methods in the fall, it also is fun.
As long as I’m catching fish, I’ll stay in the same general area, but once the action slows it is time to move on. If you think the only way to fish for crappie is to sit in one place, you’ll probably think fall fishing isn’t much fun or productive. Trolling is another way to cover a lot of water as well as find fish.
If you are casting, small lures in the range of one-sixteenth ounce work well .Road Runners, jigs, curly tail grubs, and small crankbaits all work well at times. It’s always a good idea to ask local anglers what lure and color seems to be working best.
A guide friend says his motto is dangle the bait if the fish are deep, cast if they are shallow.
When fish aren’t interested in your bait, don’t be afraid to change. What works one time, may not work the next.
A plate of fried crappie is a good way to end the day, but may taste even better when taken from the freezer this winter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Far more hunters are injured in tree stand mishaps than from guns

Far more hunters are hurt in tree stand accidents than from mishaps with guns.

While deer hunting is a relatively safe sports compared to others, there still are too many injuries -- most  which could be easily avoided.
To the surprise of many, most deer hunting injuries are not caused by guns or bows. They result from accidents caused by improper use of deer stands.
There aren’t a lot of statistics on the subject--and it may be a bit hard to believe--but if viewed over a person’s hunting lifetime, a hunter has one chance in three of receiving a serious injury from tree stand use.
For as long as I’ve been aware of deer hunting with tree stands. the possible dangers associated with them have been in the back of my mind. However a number of years ago, the danger became impressed on my mind.
While visiting a patient in Indianapolis’s Methodist Hospital a number of years ago, a nurse became aware of my outdoor writing. She asked me if I had time to visit a couple of patients on another wing. “I know they would appreciate it,” she said. “Both are hunters.”
The nurse explained both were hospitalized due to unrelated accidents. Both had fallen from tree stands and both were at least temporarily, partially paralyzed from their falls.
Both hunters were upbeat about their situations, but both also wanted people to know about the dangers of tree stands, if proper caution isn’t used.
Already this fall, I’m aware of at least three serious falls in Indiana, and read that a Pennsylvania man died in a mishap.
It is difficult to know just how many hunters are injured every year. Not all accidents are reported, and not everyone who falls required medical attention. And, not all tree stand accidents are recorded as a category at hospitals. There also is no national collection of data.
A nearly 20-year-old study by a deer hunting magazine found that 37 percent of tree stand hunters some time will fall from their stand, and about three percent will suffer some sort of crippling injury.
Three-quarters of the accidents happen while the hunter is climbing up or down on the stand.
Also especially telling was that most hunters injured were not wearing a safety harness or vest.
Whenever a person uses a tree stand, they should be familiar with the equipment and associated safety. Most commercial stands come with instructions, and there also is a quick safety test on-line at Also, Kalkomey Enterprises has an on-line hunter education course which contains a section on use of tree stands. ( Check it out.
Here are some safety items recommended by the Pennsylvania Game Commission:
Do not set up in a dead or dying tree because those are the unsafe tress. If the bark is already slipping off it it, don’t set up there.
Read the directions before you put the tree stand together. Manufacturers know best about how to put your new piece of equipment together, make sure to follow their guidelines.
Inspect the stand before you sit in it, especially, if it’s been sitting out all year and the season has just started. The straps should all still be secure and the nuts and bolts should be tight.
Pay attention to the weather. If it’s too windy that day, it might not be a safe day to go hunting.
Use a tow rope to haul up gear once you yourself are safe and secure in the stand.
And last, but surely not least, wear a harness, the ultimate lifesaver. If you think a harness may be costly, think of the cost of medical care and time spent away from work.
And, the following are a couple rules, I would add:
Always hunt with a plan, and if possible, with a buddy.  Let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and, who you are hunting with.
Always carry emergency signal devices, such as a cell phone, whistle, walkie-talkie, signal flare and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach, even when you are suspended in your tree stand. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sometimes no plan is the best plan

Rustic cabins at Cedars Resort are a good place to get away and enjoy the great outdoors.

        Some of the best vacation plans are impromptu, maybe no plan at all. Certainly planning can be beneficial, but sometimes it is fun just to do it, “go with the flow” as flow used to say.
For our 25th wedding anniversary, my wife, Phyllis and I had a well planned trip to Ontario, Canada. We visited three different fishing camps. It was a great trip. However, 25 years later, things were different. We had less coins in our pockets, less mobility in our bodies, and less time between doctor appointments.
We had planned to take a trip in June, but that didn’t work out. Then came July, followed by August, and finally September rolled around. There was a week on the calendar with nothing scheduled.
As to planning, we only knew we wanted to head north and we would like to spend at least part of the time in a cabin surrounded by the great outdoors.
Using the internet, I found Michigan’s Pure Michigan tourism site. It is a good site, packed with information on visiting the state whether you are looking for antiques, top-notch hotels or golf resorts, or looking for a northwoods getaway. Somewhat by accident, I found a link to Cedars Resort near the small community of Central Lake in the far northwest corner of the lower peninsula of the state.
It is not unusual to find a place that looks better on the internet than it does in reality. But, after talking with Jo Ellen at Cedars, I decided it was the place with a cabin in the woods on a lake for us. It didn’t disappoint. The cabin, the resort, and the owners were far better than I anticipated.
And, I found heading north after Labor Day, rates at most motels and lodges are less than summer season rates, and most places you visit are less crowded. There may be a few exceptions during peak fall foliage time. We also discovered some businesses close early for the season, and ferries on the lakes run less often.
On the way north, we had a late pleasant lunch at the Streamline Family Restaurant in Rochester, IN, and then spent the night at a local motel at Montague, MI, a pretty little town near Lake Michigan.
The next day we headed on up the west coast and stopped in Ludington to view the lake. At a lakefront park, we also found a dog park where our rat terrier Tyler could get in a run on the beach. Then it was on north to Central Lake and Cedars Resort.
Cedars has five rental cabins on one of several interconnected natural lakes, which eventually make their way to Lake Michigan. The lakes offer plentiful boating and fishing opportunities. Panfish probably are the primary target of most anglers, but there are walleye, northern pike and several area lakes contain muskie.
One of the other cabins was occupied by a pair of young men who specialize in muskie fishing. They primarily fish Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. In the Hoosier state, they concentrate on the Tippecanoe chain of lakes in the northeastern part of the state.
Cedars is centrally located between Traverse City and Petoskey in Antrim County. There also is skiing, snowmobiling, golfing, hunting, kayaking, canoeing, and lots of opportunities for exploring back roads and small towns as well as a large variety of shopping and restaurants.
The Cedars is operated by Chris and Jo Ellen Dick, who have been operating the resort for 14 years. Boats are included with the full-furnished cabins.
We enjoyed side trips to Traverse City, Torch Lake, Petoskey, Charlevoix, and a visit to a friend at Lake City.
As always, we found a wealth of god places to eat, including many locally owned family-type restaurants. One unique spot is the Front Porch in the village of Ellsworth (less than 400 people).
Several years ago the community’s only restaurants went out of business. There was no place for locals to gather for breakfast or lunch, no place for coffee drinkers to gather and discuss the happenings of the day.
So folks got their heads together and opened the Front Porch, It is a nonprofit that was opened by the local ministry. Only the cooks are paid, the rest of the staff are volunteers. There are no fixed prices and the foot is great. People pay what they feel they can afford.
Should you decide to visit Ellsworth and the FRont Porch, there is a wonderful shop across the street that features Michigan raised or built products.
The Junker’s trip was a pleasant getaway with very little planning. For the most part, it just happened. The weather was beautiful and nothing was more enjoyable than a sunset across the lake one evening after a rain. The sky was golden, and I was lucky enough to grab my old Nikon for a photo. It will be a lasting memory of a fun trip with wife, Phyllis, and our dog Tyler. And by the way, Cedars Resort is pet friendly.
If you go, possible websites:
Pure Michigan tourism:
Cedars Resort:
Front Porch:

Monday, November 5, 2012

As fall arrives, so do changes, including deer regs, boat storage

        It’s fall and change is in the air. There are new rules for deer hunting,. It’s time for changing your boat motor from summer fun usage condition to winter storage. And, there is a change to full-time radio contact for conservation officers across the state.
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DEER CHANGES -- There are a number of changes in Indiana deer hunting regulations this season. Among the most significant are”
• A special antlerless deer firearms season will be offered beginning in late December in designated counties. 
• Hunters can use a crossbow during archery season.
• Early archery season and late archery season have been merged into a continuous archery season.
• Youth hunters can now harvest more than one deer during youth season.
• An “earn-a-buck” requirement for hunters working toward urban deer zone bag limits has been made.
• A new deer license bundle is offered. 
More information about these changes and more hunting information is available at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website: 
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BOAT STORAGE --  Nearly full tank or nearly empty tank? That is the big question facing boaters now in the midst of preparing their boats for the long winter hibernation. The concern is ethanol - an octane enhancing gasoline additive that has some unfortunate, harmful side effects on marine engines. 
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some tips learned from fuel industry insiders on how to store a boat with E-10 gasoline (containing 10% ethanol) over the winter.
The octane issue: Some boaters choose to leave their boat's gas tank mostly empty over the winter, and then refill in the spring in the hopes of "refreshing" the fuel to regain any octane loss. However, a nearly empty gas tank introduces a bigger problem: the strong possibility of phase separation with the E-10 gas. Incidentally, over long winter storage periods, E-10 gasoline loses octane at about the same rate as non-ethanol gasoline.
More water, less absorption: The problem with leaving a tank mostly empty is that it increases the tank's "lung capacity" to breath in moist air (water) through the tank's vent. If the tank is mostly empty over the winter, there will also be less E-10 gas in the tank to absorb the moisture. Adding fresh gasoline in the spring would not remedy the problem - the phase-separated ethanol remains separated at the bottom of the tank.
The Fuel Additive issue: Fuel additives are good for many reasons and should be used when laying up a boat for winter, but no additive will stand up to a good-sized slug of water. And once too much water has entered the tank and the gas has begun to phase separate, no additive will return the fuel to its original state. The only solution to phase-separated gas is to have a professional drain the tank and start anew.
The best advice for storing E-10 in your boat's gas tank over winter:
Keep the tank nearly full. This greatly reduces the volume of moist air that can enter the tank via the fuel tank vent when temperatures fluctuate in the fall and spring. With any fuel, an antioxidant (found in many additives) will help keep it fresh during lay-up. 
Finally, never plug up a fuel tank vent - it creates pressure that could cause dangerous leaks in the fuel system.
For more information go to A free, downloadable winterizing checklist is available at
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FULL-TIME DISPATCH -- Indiana Conservation Officers  are extending their Central Dispatch Center  to a 24-hour operation in order to maintain radio contact with Conservation Officers across the state.
  The Central Dispatch Center has operated daily from 7 a.m. to midnight. The 24-hour operation was scheduled to begin at midnight Oct. 29. Central Dispatch is located at Paynetown State Recreation Area on Monroe Lake near Bloomington.
  Maj. Michael Portteus said, “For the first time in the history of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, Indiana Conservation Officers may be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-812-837-9536.”
  Central Dispatch provides a way for the public, other law enforcement agencies, and DNR properties to gain immediate assistance and response from DNR Law Enforcement.  The TIP (Turn in a Poacher) reports also can be made to this number.