Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lip-less crankbaits are top lure for covering largemouth bass territory

Lip-less crankbaits like the Rat-L-Trap are great baits for spring bass.

Lip-less crankbaits have always been a popular and productive lure for catching bass, and some crappie anglers even use them to land big crappie.
While fishing for crappie a few years back at Kentucky Lake, some of us were finding the fish uncooperative, but a couple of Crappiemaster tourney anglers headed out to use Rat-L-Traps for crappie. By far, they had the best success of the day.
Todd Faircloth, fishing pro sponsored by Yamaha, recently was interviewed related to his use of lipless crankbaits, and their special value during spring fishing.
A single glance in his boat will always reveal at 
least one, and usually several, tied on and ready to cast this season of the year no matter where the Yamaha Pro is fishing. 
After all, Faircloth’s two heaviest fish of his career, both 11 1⁄2-pounders, came on the vibrating shad-imitation lures. 
“The biggest advantage lipless crankbaits provide is that they allow you to cover a lot of water in a hurry, and that can be extremely important in the spring, ”emphasizes Faircloth, winner of the first Bassmaster® Elite tournament of the 2013 season earlier this year. 
“Depending on the water temperature where you fish, bass could be in pre-spawn, spawn, or post-spawn mode, which means they could be in a lot of different places. With a lipless crankbait you can do that easier than with any other lure I know,” said Faircltoh in  information released by Yamaha.
Lipless crankbaits are swimming, vibrating lures similar in size to regular diving crankbaits, except they don’t have the diving bills. They’re designed to look like small forage fish, and most pros like Faircloth use them primarily in shallow water less than 10 feet deep. The most popular sizes are 1⁄2- and 3⁄4-ounce. 
“Lipless crankbaits are reaction-strike lures, so you don’t necessarily need to have ideal conditions to fish them,” continues Faircloth. “They produce the best results when there is a light breeze and a slight chop on the water, but I’ve also caught bass on them when it was calm and bright. 
“Because they’re designed to attract reaction strikes, I use a fast retrieve whenever I fish them because I don’t want bass to have time to look at the lure.” 
The real key to fishing lipless crankbaits in the spring, however, is not only using a fast retrieve, but also keeping the lure in contact with bottom cover, emphasizes the Yamaha Pro. This could be submerged vegetation such as hydrilla or milfoil, as well as rocks, gravel, or sand. The lure is not weedless, however, so 
it can’t be reeled into thick brush or timber; instead, Faircloth retrieves the crankbait over the top of such cover, just ticking it slightly. 
“I don’t do much more than make long casts 
and reel the bait back,” Faircloth laughs. “There is hardly an easier lure to use in bass fishing, and I would guess a lot of today’s anglers probably caught their first bass on a 
lipless crankbait. I’m pretty sure I did.” 
# # # #
PATOKA WELCOME -- Patoka Lake will host a number of activities Saturday, May 4, designed to welcome visitors back to the recreation area.
There will be a flower and seed exchange from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.  Visitors can take those seeds and flowers taking over their garden to trade for some new varieties.
Then at 1 p.m. enjoy a Walking Stick Workshop. Participants will get to design and decorate their very own walking stick.  At 2 p.m. participants will hit the trail for a short guided hike along the Garden Rock Loop through oak and hickory forests, rock outcroppings, and over small creek beds.    The cost for this program is $5 per walking stick.  All supplies will be provided.
On Sunday, people can bring their kayak (or canoe) and join the naturalist for a tour on the lake at 10:30 a.m. at Painter Creek Boat Ramp.  
Participants can enjoy a morning on the waters of Patoka as they look for beaver, bald eagle, osprey, and other wildlife along the way.  Hear stories of the people who once called this area home. See old photographs and heirlooms from years gone by.  
Paddlers should bring binoculars and preferred refreshments for this journey. Non-motorized boat launch permits are required and will be sold at the event for $5, but may also be purchased at the Patoka Property Office from 8 a.m .to 4 p.m. daily.
For more information regarding this program or other interpretive events, please call the Visitor Center at 812.685.2447.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Safe turkey hunting equals effective, successful turkey hunting techniques

Photo courtesy NWTF
Setting up with a tree or other protection to your back is a good idea when turkey hunting.

After a long, cold winter, turkey season has arrived, and there should be plenty of birds for good hunting this spring.
Indiana’s youth turkey weekend is April 20-21, and the regular season opens midweek on Wednesday, April 24 and continues through May 12. Hunters may take one bearded or male turkey.
Safety is a key factor in turkey hunting as with any gun or bow sport, but is especially important in turkey hunting as camouflage is a key component. It’s also interesting that people who emphasize safety also are effective hunters.
  The National Wild Turkey Federation echos the importance of safety when you're in the woods mimicking the sounds of wild turkeys. The organization offers these tips to consider when you're in the woods:
Leave the area if you suspect there's another hunter already working the same bird.
Resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey. It is also unethical and could lead to an accident.
Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.
Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Watch out for red, white or blue on your socks, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, hats, bandannas, etc. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other hunters if necessary. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence.
Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling.
Maintain a clear field of view when using a camouflage blind or netting.
Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and make sure the head is not sticking out. If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you also should cover the bird's head and body when carrying it out from your hunting spot.
Put your gun's safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More than 4,000 types of mushrooms can be found, but caution required in eating them

Large meadow mushrooms are tasty, but you must know for sure what you are eating.

Morel mushroom season is here. It usually lasts three or four weeks, then it is a matter of waiting another year for more of the tasty fungi. Anyway, that is the way it is for most hunters who limit their hunting and eating of wild mushrooms to morels.
My father showed me how to hunt morels -- where to look and more importantly how to identify them. We hunted black morels, which usually arrive first deeper in the woods, white morels, and yellow morels. 
The yellows usually are found last in the short season. We also picked what we called “horse necks.” They have a long stem and a small cap or button top. Dad also picked a reddish type with a solid stem, that many books identify as poison. We ate them without problem, but we didn’t eat large amounts, and I suspect they could be a problem for some people.
Many years ago, when I was editor of a small daily newspaper in Brazil, IN, I became friends with a bait and tackle shop operator, George “Bait Kind” Timko. George claimed he could find and pick edible mushroom 10 months out of the year. I never doubted him, but didn’t feel I had the knowledge and confidence to pick and eat mushrooms other than morels.
A couple weeks ago, I had a chance to talk with Leon Hampton of Cornell, IA. who now spends winters in Florida. Leon is a year-round “Shroomer” (mushroom hunter).
  “There are more than 4,000 varieties of mushrooms...I have found them all over, even in Canada. But generally speaking, I find them around town. I find them in parks, cemeteries, yards and even find them just outside my RV (recreational vehicle) in Florida.” explained Leon. “it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open.”
“Sometimes, I drive around and I will see them in someone's yard. I will stop and ask the people if they pick them. Usually, they say they just mow them down. They often will let me pick them. I take them home and clean them, and then will take some back to the people where I picked them.”
Leon picks varieties from puff balls, which he says sometimes gets as large as a basketball, to “elephant ears” found on stumps, “toad stools”, to pasture mushrooms and many more.
Most of the mushrooms he finds are around decaying trees and bark. He says cemeteries often are a good place because there usually are a lot of trees.
He has a process and check list he uses to identify mushrooms and determine if they are poisonous. Most are not, but some are quite dangerous and require caution when determining if they are edible.
“A majority of the poisonous or mushrooms that make people sick are often from an interaction with alcohol,” says Leon, who by profession is a certified public accountant.
He finds enough mushrooms to keep a freezer well stocked with edible varieties.
Leon uses a check list from a book to determine the type and edibility of the mushrooms, if he is not familiar with them. He said when he returns to Iowa in a few weeks, he will send me more information to be shared about the check list. 
In part of the process, he places a mushroom upside down on two adjoining pieces of paper--one black and one white. After 20 minutes, he examines the spores that fall and their color helps in the determination.
And, he is adamant that bright red mushrooms usually are dangerous to eat.
I love mushrooms and would love to identify and eat more wild mushrooms than morels, but I need more training by an experienced “shroomer” before I try new varieties. 
And, I can’t recommend anyone proceed eating them on their own from what they read in a book. And, yes, I know Leon believes it can be done safely.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Most ticks harmless, however precaution best protection

Oh no, not another column about ticks. It seems like he writes about ticks all the time.
Well, he (me) does write about the nasty critters at least once a year. It's not because I like writing about ticks. It's because it is an important subject to anyone who spends time outdoors in Kentuckiana. For many, it may be a reminder, and for others new information.
The little, obnoxious creatures continue to be a growing problem, and in a some cases, more than just an annoyance.
For the most part they are just a pesky nuisance, but caution is in order as they can cause serious health problems. I have several friends who have contacted lyme disease, and for a couple of them, it was a very serious illness.
I'm a bit reluctant to write about tick problems as I fear it will keep some people out of the woods. It is true, some ticks carry lyme disease as well as other diseases. However, the outdoors can be enjoyed in tick territory, if proper care and precautions are taken.
There are hundreds of species of ticks, but only a few that really bother people. And of course, those are the ones to be concerned about. Among those, one of the most bothersome around these parts are called deer ticks. Some people call them turkey ticks, and others call them bear ticks or some unprintable bad words. I call them deer ticks.
People often think the number of ticks expands during a mild winter, and their numbers are reduced by really cold weather. However,  research reveals it is almost impossible to freeze out the tiny pests.
Dick Gadd, president of SCS Limited, a company that specializes in tick and other pest repellent, says ticks bore into decaying leaves, and can withstand prolonged periods of sub-zero cold. He says what does relate to their increasing numbers is moisture. Damp weather benefits tick productivity far more than a mild winter. So this spring has been ideal for ticks and bad for people.
In order for a person to become ill, a person has to be bitten by an infected tick (only a very small percentage of ticks are infected). It also is believed the tick must be attached to a person for 24 hours. A little prevention can eliminate the bites.
According to Yahoo's health website, not everyone infected with these lyme disease bacteria gets ill. If a person does become ill, the first symptoms resemble the flu. There may be a "bulls eye" rash, a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite. Often there is a clear area in the center. It can be larger than one to three inches wide.
People usually think of finding ticks in the woods, but they are just as likely to be found in tall grass. Make a special effort to avoid tall grass, and around your home, keep the grass mowed.
Repellents are effective in keeping ticks away from any exposed skin, and DEET has been the best bet for years, however a new product developed in Europe and Australia was introduced in the U.S. a few years ago.
Picaridin is an effective alternative to DEET that provides long lasting protection.  It was developed not only to repel insects but to offer a pleasant to use product that offered a light, clean feeling and odorless repellent. It can be found in several commercial products.
  SCS Limited has good website with pictures and information about ticks and other insect pests, how to prevent them, and much more. The site is: Various products and information is available at

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crappie fishing has been slow and difficult, but fish have been larger than usual

Paul Cooper from West Lafayette, IN, holds a nice Lake Kissimmee crappie.

Fishing in Central Florida this year has been slow, yet the crappie being caught have had good size. 
One of the problems encountered by anglers has been high wind. It doesn’t take a lot of wind on Florida’s shallow, unprotected lakes to make fishing difficult, if not impossible. And, it also can be dangerous.
My brother-in-law Paul Cooper from West Lafayette, IN, poses with a nice crappie from Lake Kissiimmee. He was fishing with Dennis Daniels from Lake City, MI. Dennis takes credit for his guiding ability and the photo.
For the most part, they have been catching crappie on minnows, but have had some luck with jigs.