Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Father's Day has come and gone, but memories of Dad still linger

        Father’s Day 2014 has come and gone. However, Father’s Day still  is lingering in this old man’s head. It probably has something to do with age.
This year’s Father’s Day for this old scribe was excellent. Time was spent with son, Erik and his family, and calls and emails were received from daughter, Michelle and her family in Tennessee. The weather was great for outdoor activities. The hot dogs and hamburgers hit the spot.
As the weekend came to a close, memories of my Dad remained.
Although my father passed away four decades ago, Father’s Day still brings fond memories of the many good times we had in the outdoors, and the things I learned from my dad. And this isn’t the first time I’ve written about him.
Dad primarily was a fisherman. He hunted, but back in those days, the hunting was limited where I grew up in East Central Illinois. There were squirrels and rabbits, but no deer or turkey.
We couldn’t afford to travel to hunt.
Like most people those days, my dad was a live bait fisherman. He had a few old plugs in a metal box he used for tackle, but I don’t remember him ever using them. He did have a casting rod with linen fishing line. However, our fishing was limited to cane poles.
During my preteen years, we didn’t have a car. Our transportation was our feet. I remember walking several blocks to the Big Four railroad track, and then proceeding a couple miles north to where the railroad bridge crossed Big Creek. There always were some deep pools in the creek around the bridge, and that’s where we fished.
It often was a hot walk to the creek, but trees lined the bank and it was refreshingly cool when we arrived. We rarely caught big fish. Mostly, we caught bluegill and sunfish. But after we carried them back home, they made a tasty meal, cooked by mother, who also usually walked to the creek with us.
Sometime around my 10th or 12th birthday, my folks gathered enough money for a down payment on a used Studebaker pickup truck. That red truck changed our fishing horizons, we could venture to the backwaters of Wabash River, the Embarrass River, and several farm ponds. That also meant we could catch catfish.
A prized bait was catalpa worms. My job was to help pick the ugly worms off catalpa tree leaves during the brief period of the summer when they were available. My dad thought they among the best baits for catfish. He also used chicken livers, night crawlers and cheese stink baits. He raised the night crawlers himself. One of the key components in the earth mix where he raised the crawlers was coffee grounds.
He also had a special recipe for dough balls he used to catch carp. We didn’t fish for carp a lot, but when we caught small ones during early spring in clear water, they were pretty good eating. The secret ingredient in dad’s dough balls was strawberry jello,
The old Studebaker also brought about our first fishing vacation. It was a week at Freeman Lake in north central Indiana. We stayed in a little cabin, complete with a boat and set of oars. The boat was just what we needed to put out trot lines. The lines contained as many as 50 hooks and primarily were baited for catfish.
We had good luck and hooked plenty of channel cats. My dad let me run the lines with him several times a day. It was fun to hold the heavy line and feel the cats hooked somewhere ahead tug and pull. I would lean over and hold the big line, while dad netted the fish, and took them off the line.
Yes, I’m still thinking of Father’s Day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Falls of the Ohio park will host George Rogers Clark Day last weekend in June

     Falls of the Ohio State Park will celebrate the life and times of George Rogers Clark on June 28 and 29. 

     George Rogers Clark Days will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the George Rogers Clark Home Site, 1102 W. Harrison Ave., Clarksville. The event is free. 

     Wes and Donna Griffin will perform period music on the hammered dulcimer on June 28. Re-enactors portraying members of the Clark Family and 18th- and 19th-century militiamen, surveyors and frontiersmen will appear throughout the event. The event also will include atlatl throwing (American Indian spear throwing), vendors with period crafts, speakers, musicians, children’s activities and more. 

     Special tours of the Clark and McGee cabins and gardens will be given. The McGee cabin was the home of Ben and Venus McGee who were indentured servants to Clark. The cabin represents one of the first freed-slave communities in the Northwest Territory, named Guinea Bottoms, which was built around 1812. 

     The Clark Home Site is part of the Falls of the Ohio State Park. 

     For more information and to make a group reservation, please call (812) 280-9970. 

     Falls of the Ohio State Park ( is at 201 W. Riverside Dr. Clarksville, 47129. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

No ties for Dad; take him fishing or for a picnic at an area state or county park

Dad will remember time with kids more than an ugly tie.

People survey everything these days. Most make one scratch the head and wonder why. Usually the finding was obvious before the study ever started.
Supposedly, someone did a study about what Dad wants for Father’s Day. Again, it didn’t take rocket science to determine the result.
Dad doesn’t want a new tie or socks.
What most dads want is to spend time with their offspring, if possible, and if they can’t get together for  fishing, a cookout, or some other family activity. They would like to hear from the kids with maybe a commitment to get together when the opportunity presents itself.
When giving some thought to Father’s Day, I came across several quotes that seemed worth passing along as this year’s day approaches.
Former baseball slugger Harmon Killebrew had an interesting quote. He said his father used to play with him and his brother in the yard. His mother would come outside and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”  He said his Dad would reply, “We’re not raising grass. We’re raising boys.”
One of my all-time favorite comedians, Bill Cosby once said, “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”
Some unknown wit reportedly added, “A father carries pictures where his money used to be.”
Although it it is not certain who the author of the following quote was, but Mark Twain often gets the credit.
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
Father’s Day today often is about gifts. People think they need to buy Dad something expensive or special; then, take him to a nice restaurant for dinner. 
That’s OK, but Father’s Day should be about creating memories. If possible, spend time with Dad. A cookout, a dinner, a trip to the creek or lake shore for bluegill just might create a special memory.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sad week, but Sissy and Beau bring some happiness back to household

Phyllis relaxes in sun room chair with Sissy (left) and Beau.

Last week was sad, devastating, informative, and finally happy. We lost our dog, Tyler.
It may be difficult for someone who is not a dog lover to understand the loss and devastation we felt when Tyler got lose from his leash for a minute and was killed by a car.
Tyler, a Teddy Roosevelt rat terrier, was my best friend. He went everywhere with me. I could tell what he was thinking, and he could tell what I was thinking. For some reason, he didn’t like it when I sneezed, and I could tell from his reaction, he often knew I was going to sneeze before I knew it.
My wife, Phyllis and I cried. She had difficulty sleeping. I didn’t want to eat. We knew immediately, we needed another dog. We also knew another dog would never replace Tyler. Just as Tyler could never replace, Augie, our rat terrier before him. Each has its own place in our hearts.
We decided we wanted a rescue dog. Most rescue shelters take dogs from “kill” shelters where the animals must be euthanized when they aren’t adopted in a relatively short period of time.
I have been aware of rescue shelters, but knew very little about them. We have always had dogs, but all came from someone we knew. So getting involved with a rescue dog and shelter was a learning experience.
Needless to say, Phyllis and I were anxious to find a dog to love and one that hopefully would love us. What we learned was obtaining a rescue dog can take a bit of time as nearly all rescue shelters are operated by volunteers; people’who have jobs and respond to telephone calls and emails as they have time. 
Rescue folks also are dog loving people who make sure the people who adopt the dogs will provide them with good homes, love and care. Most require adoption applications, some quite extensive. One required a home visit.
We set out to find a rat terrier or rat terrier mix. We found a number at pet finder internet sites. We made a trip to Lafayette to see two dogs. The shelter manager was very helpful and straight forward, and pointed out both dogs needed special care that we probably couldn’t provide.
We continued our search, and found another rat terrier type at a shelter named Rescue Farm near Poland, IN.. His picture was really cute, but we found he also had a problem. He had learned to climb chain link fences to escape and make his rounds. We have a chain linked back yard, but knew we could never have a climber. But, there was good news.
Rescue Farm has an adoption room, and Jodi brought in a small female dog believed to be part terrier and part dachshund. The dog acted rather shy, but we liked her. She was really cute and well mannered.
Jodi told us she was going to leave the little dog with us a few minutes while she brought in another dog to be with the first. When she brought the dog in she said it was the first dog’s brother. The female quickly became very happy.
Both looked like great matches for us. But, which one should we choose.
Jodi asked if we ever considered adopting two. She said she was just asking and that they often must separate dogs.
I told her we have had multiple dogs at the same time in the past, but at our current stage in life and the expense of properly caring for dogs, we had decided we couldn’t do it.
However, as the little bundles of energy put their paws on us seeking to be petted, Phyllis said, “There is no way we can split these dogs. If we can’t take them both. we can’t take either one.”
The brother and sister were called by the shelter, Sonny and Cher. No one knew there names, and Sonny and Cher are now Sissy and Beau and settled into the Junker household in just five days.
If you are considering a dog, consider a rescue dog. Be aware the process may be a little more involved than you might think, but it is well worth the effort for the pet and you.
As I finish this column, both Sissy and Beau are sleeping at the side of my chair.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

May and early June are top time to catch redear sunfish on the beds

Dennis Daniels  displays two reader (also known as shellcrackers) hr caught in Florida.

It’s one of the top times of the year in southern Indiana for redear sunfish. So what are they and how do you catch them.
The name redear sunfish pretty well describes them, but you also say they are much like a bluegill on steroids. They look much like a bluegill only usually are larger and often hit a bait like a fish twice their size.
Redear are called by many names. In the south, they are known as shellcrackers, and in some areas are called Georgia bream, cherry gill, chinquapin, rouge ear sunfish, and sun perch.
Redear can be found in many lakes and streams, including the embayments off the Ohio River,and have become popular for stocking in ponds.
Redear generally are bottom feeds and one of their favorite foods is snails. They get their southern name, shellcrackers, because of their ability to crack open snail shells, including the sound it makes. Some are powerful enough to crack open small mussels.
During spawning, the male redears congregate and create nests close to each other in colonies, and females visit to deposit their eggs. 
The spawn occurs at various times, depending on location and water temperature. Where I winter fish in Florida, the shellcrackers usually congregate just before and after the first full moon in April, however sometimes it is March. And the crackers, seem to return to the same beds.
When they are on the beds, you can watch them bump lily pads and they work the bottom in about four feet of water. If you find them, you can catch them by the dozens. But you can move 100 yards away in water the same depth and the same type of lilly pads and catch nothing.
The fish will hit worms fish right near the bottom, but you can fish a foot too high and have little or no action.
A recent news release prepared by Kevin Kelly of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources quotes Neal Jackson, western district fisheries biologist, describing catching big redear.
“When you factor in the roundness of the fish, it’s the size of a small plate,” Jackson said. “That size sunfish is something a lot of people haven’t ever seen. When you catch one it just blows you away. Even the smaller ones, the 10 inchers, are really impressive.”
Jackson said redears colonize like bluegill, but nest in deeper water. To locate shellcrackers, look for bedding bluegill up against a bank. Then focus your attention on deeper water a little farther out from the shore.
Shellcrackers often gather in the backs of the bays in areas with gravel bottoms and vegetation like milfoil or mustard flowers.
“The redear seem to key on the aquatic vegetation,” Jackson said. “I assume that’s got to do with the fact they feed on snails and mussels.”
A period of stable weather and consistent lake levels help improve an angler’s odds. The spawning seems to peak in this area when the water temperature reaches about 70 degrees.
Good baits include red worms, wax worms, mealworms and crickets, or small artificial baits like a jig in black or brown that mimics a snail or small insect. Fish these underneath a bobber and close to the bottom.
Another option is crawling a red worm. Tie a hook a few inches above a 3/16-ounce weight – anglers call this a drop-shot rig – then slowly move it along the bottom until you locate fish.