My wife, Linnet’s father, Harvey Gaither passed away this past Tuesday from his third bout with cancer. He was a real trooper, as they say in dealing with it. He kept his composure and his sense of humor and spoke of it very frankly. When the time came he had everything in order he could have thought of and was surrounded by family. That seems to be all there is to say, on the surface.
During the days afterward the outpouring of love and support from friends and family was overwhelming. People came by, brought food, soft drinks, prayer blankets, hugs. We even got a box of farm fresh eggs. This went on in each household directly connected to this loss. Harvey had many friends.
My father in law touched many lives in his time on earth. He kept the books at Sun Graphics for thirty some years and knew everyone who ever worked there and kept in contact with many after his retirement. He also poured his time and support into the church and more pointedly into the kids. He thoroughly enjoyed the teen quizzing program and even challenged the kids to a contest once that ended up with him coming to church on Sunday morning dressed as Papa Smurf, blue face, white beard and all to announce the quiz meet results.
I remember washing dishes and ending up running around the yard with him popping each other with wet tea towels like a couple of kids. We staked a goat in his yard and a sign on his roof for his fiftieth birthday. He loved it. He cooked hamburgers for the whole family so many times and looked after his kids and grandkids constantly. He fathered three daughters and raised six. He had heart to heart talks with his sons-in-law and always wanted to see the Deer I got.
So many people don’t have the opportunity to live around such folks. I did, from the time I was nineteen and feel as though I was unfairly blessed. We will really miss him in the years to come and we will strive to meet him in heaven. But the real lesson here is I watched a man grow and help people grow, live and help people live and I hope that when I am gone from this earth someone will be able to say the same about me.
Terribly sorry for the absence, unfortunately life has a funny way of changing things on you, but it’s time to get back to the fishing. The weather seems to have a mind of its own, and it’s obviously wearing thin on patience. If you’re starting to get the fish itch like me, then one suggestion is to get organized, and get ready mentally. If anything, it gives you a wonderful excuse to wander (somewhat) aimlessly through the aisles of your favorite tackle house.
To start the year, I like to lay out all of my stuff and organize it by type, size, application and what have you. Then I compile a list to see what is needed, and what can be added or eliminated based on my prior year of fishing. I plan, and shop and get what I think I’ll need to get going.
I also try to set a goal of learning at least one new technique each year, and that plays an important factor in my purchases at the beginning of the season as well. Goals are the driving force in becoming a better angler. Whether you’d like to pursue a career as a professional angler, or just want to catch more fish on your weekend excursion, setting a goal is harmless, easy, and can aid in making you a better person as well. Your goal can be anything. Maybe you want to win a local tournament. Perhaps you need some practice using electronics. How about your drop shot? Yes, the simple, effective, silent killer. Or maybe you’d like to learn a baitcaster, and toss a frog over some cover to see the explosion? All in all, if you accomplish your goal, that’s another trick in your bag, and one more step to becoming a well-rounded angler.
This year I plan to focus on my drop shot, and the jig. These are two things I do not have enough experience in. I’m not afraid to admit that, you’ve got to start somewhere, right? With the jig, my main obstacle will be slowing down and relying on feel and technique to get more bass. The drop shot is something I believe every angler should master, so master I shall.
I’d also like to mention the upcoming BASSMASTER University at Bass Pro Shops here in Springfield, MO. There will be FREE seminars from some legendary and great anglers including Kevin Van Dam, Rick Clunn, Jimmy Houston, Wally Marshall, Edwin Evers, Tim Horton, Gary Parsons, and Ott Defoe. There are multiple seminars scheduled, and plenty of activities for the kids. What better way to spend some time with the family, learning more about something we all love? You don’t want to miss it.
Thanks for reading, I hope to update more often. Don’t be a stranger, and happy casting.
The Bearded Tay January 30, 2015
I went to a funeral today. It was not a normal funeral as one would think of as normal but rather something like I had never experienced before. This man was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was just ten years older than I and had passed away in a nursing home. I was there because a friend had invited me to come along and basically keep him company.
I obliged him and we met shortly before 9:00AM and headed for the Ft. Scott National Cemetery. If you’ve never been there, it is quite a place to see. Row upon row of white headstones just like on T.V. with meticulous care taken to make the grounds look just so. I had driven through the cemetery on a couple of occasions but never had a reason to be there before.
When we arrived we were met by a man who led us to the ceremony sight where eight VFW Honor Guardsmen stood at attention. We unloaded the casket, draped with a US flag and they escorted it to the proper place under the canopy.
Military rights were afforded, prayers were offered and a beautiful rendition of taps was played. Salutes were snapped at the proper time and the flag was properly folded and placed upon the casket.
I guess I haven’t told you that the people I’ve mentioned here were the only ones in attendance. This veteran had no family, no wife, no kids, no nieces or nephews. No close friends to come pay their respects. The national cemetery provided the plot and needed services upon proof of his being a veteran. The funeral home, knowing there would be no payment provided their services anyway because it was the right thing to do.
I did not know this man, I saw his name but did not recognize it but I was thinking the whole time how sad it was that this man died alone save a few acquaintances from the nursing home. I cannot imagine being that utterly alone and facing death here on earth. I’ll admit I shed a tear during taps as I stood with my hand over my heart and these old soldiers saluted with shaking hands genuinely sorry to see one of their own being buried in this lonely manner.
I played no part in this event, like I said I was just “along for the ride” but I am ever so much more honored to have had the opportunity to witness this military sendoff of a boots on the ground nature, if you will. I am also thankful that in this country fraught with so much turmoil there are still people willing to take time out of their busy lives to see to it that a soldier, whom nobody knew was given the proper honor and respect when he was laid to rest.
I am thankful for all the friends I have and especially for my family, without them I would not make it through my days here on earth. But mostly I am thankful for my God whose promise of eternal life would be enough for me had I been in this man’s situation. If you see an old soldier, be sure to tell him or her thanks. One never knows, that might be the last time they hear it.
So gun season has dawned and the Deer are, by now what one would call SKITTISH. I awoke at the crack of TOO DANG to discover it was 61 degrees outside. I immediately switched from long johns and sweat shirts to the more seasonal Hawaiian shirt and shorts.
I still had a Doe tag so I went out with my son Steve, who still had a buck tag this morning to a new place. I was in there on the previous Thursday and saw a mess of Does so I figured there must be a buck around somewhere...not. Not even a doe today.
But hunting is just that and not killing so we amused ourselves by counting and stalking the elusive Red Squirrel. I quit counting at fifty and as far as stalking, well we were the ones being stalked.
The impenetrable brush to the west of us produced a steady stream of the little tree rats and they delighted themselves with sneaking up on us and checking us out from the safety of a young Elm tree overhanging the creek sometimes four or five at a time.
If you've never had a Squirrel try to get you to move you have missed out. They bob and weave and cuss in rodentease while running from limb to limb all the while keeping a sharp eye out for any sudden movement on your part. Fortunately for us they could not get directly overhead or they would have dropped...well, stuff on us. And yes I have had that happen on occasion.
Anyway the squirrels and the Deer won today, I guess I don't mind losing once in a while since that means I get to try again. They say the brain of a deer, and for that matter a Squirrel is greatly inferior to that of a human...Obviously scientists don't hunt.
My Dads Deer rifle was a Ruger RL in 257 Roberts. He accurized it himself and, boy could he drive tacks with it. Then one day he got the itch to improve it again. We took it to an old friend of his named Marion Reed who lived along Butler Creek near Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a gunsmith of no small talent. He had it a week and viola a 257 Ackley Improved. 117 grain bullets now flew at 3100 fps. He charged $100.00 because he had to make the cutting tools first.
Marion Reed did a lot of work for the late Frank Phillips and his son and at one time had an exhibit at the Woolaroc museum near Pawhuska, Oklahoma in his honor.
I was hunting with this rifle one day and I scanned the woods with the thought in the back of my mind that since it was near the end of deer season this place was hunted out. I managed to make it to the west side just before dark and low and behold...Deer. One, two, three...fourteen Deer, and a couple of them bucks, were just standing... in the middle of a cut field... 300 yards away... on property across the fence.
Hmmm... Think fast boy. I called the owner of the property I was hunting and asked for the number of his neighbor. Then I called him and told him I was looking over his fence at fourteen deer. He just simply asked “why don't you shoot one of them”. I'm pretty sure I said thanks before I hung up.
Taking a rest with Dads rifle over a post, I leveled down. Gloves, they get in my way. I usually don't wear them when I hunt but my left hand gets cold real fast anymore.
I bit my middle finger trying to pull the right one off, picked out the biggest Doe and... well, let's just say that Dad's old gun performed like he would have wanted it to.
A long shot is no big deal for an expert marksman, but I never claimed to be that and I guess it goes to show that an expert's gun can make anyone look good.
I looked skyward and thanked the Lord for a deer to eat, then said quietly, thanks Dad.
WEEKEND ANGLER: SLOW IT DOWN, MAN.
It’s hard to believe that summer is quickly transitioning to fall. It seems like just last week I was reading an article about pre-spawn bass fishing, and now we’re winding down and looking forward to some relaxing fall fishing. If you’re like me, your daytime job prevents you from fishing as much as we’d love, and you have to become a magician of sorts to drop a line and reel ‘em in. Most rely on the weekends to find the one that got away, and that can easily lead to disaster if weather, bad luck, or other things get in your way.
With fall comes less traffic out on the water, and you can use this to your advantage. One thing I’m constantly trying to remind myself of, is to slow down my bait presentation from the hot summer burn, and give the bass something to consider. My go to bass bait has been a 7-1/2” YUM ribbon tail worm, and I prefer texas-rigged. The Bass Pro Shops 10” Tournament Series ribbon tail worm is also a favorite. In various air and water temps, different cloud cover and time of day in different lunar phases, this bait has consistently paid out keepers. YUM infuses the bait with their F2 Ferocity attractant, and the action of their tail is outstanding. I’ve found these for a buck a bag, and three bucks a bag, but worth every penny. BPS ribbon tail uses 8up Scent, which they cook into the worm. This worm is always great for bigger bass, and optimistic little guys. BPS has a great selection of color and size, and for a reasonable price, usually a pack of 9 is around two and a half.
In addition to slowing down, take time to enjoy the outdoors, and our beautiful landscape. We live in an incredibly special part of the country, and our fall colors are wondrous. Even if the fish aren’t biting, consider it a nice way to be out in fresh air, take in nature, and generally be happier. Fishing is great, but letting a bad day on the water ruin your day, or mood is silly. We can all take some time to cleanse, and immerse ourselves in nature without distractions of the material world. A bad day on the water beats a good day at work.
Get out there and hunt those bass. Take time to enjoy nature. And be good to one another.
The Bearded Tay
September 10, 2014
Taylor, but I'm easily confused for a lumberjack. I'm a teddy bear in disguise, and I am The Bearded Tay. My main goal for this blog is to entertain, tell a story, and talk about my mediocre attempts at fishing. I've grown up in Springfield most of my life, and lived my early years just a stones throw from Bass Pro. I've fished for as long as I can remember, but not until a few years ago did I get really hooked. (hahaha) I'm slowly but surely trying to learn different techniques and rigs to optimize my outings and catch the biggest fish I can. I enjoy fishing with my brother, and being able to talk fishing and stories with him. I feel like I belong in a log cabin near a lake where I can fish all day, for the rest of my life. (Who doesn't?!?) I hope to get some positive feedback, and also input for conversation pieces or topics.
Here's to the big one, and the one that got away!
I took the day off today to get a long weekend.
Plan to take the Excalibur out on the water and try out the new Lehre 5hp outboard and the new transom configuration. I hope this runs well. I have seen issues with water coming up close to the motor on lots of the Scadden toons out there but with the Excalibur XX I have the rear cross section of pontoon where you sit when you don't have the frame installed, so I hope that keeps the water surge from the toons down. We'll see!
Eventually I will cut the cargo plate down to fit inside new transom configuration. This should all but eliminate the water if any that may want to surge up around the motor.
Transom design for my Scadden Excalibur XX with the two person LaserX frame. I didn't want to use the regular cargo plate that comes with the frame due to it not being wide enough or strong enough to handle my 5hp lehre propane motor. I decided to Mod the second person frame section and make it modular take down configuration. This way I could make a transom that was completely attached to the first frame when I want to run this inflatable in zodiac orientation and then reassemble back to the two person when I want to run with another person.
To start: I ordered 4 8" pieces of aluminum tubing from North Fork Outdoors that they use to connect their sections, so I could pin my cuts back together (it turns out I had to turn down the 4 sections (outer most parts of frame) as they were a different thickness tubing). luckily the local weld shop had some tubing they could turn down for me.
I purchased 16 tab locks to hold the sections in place (5/8ths I believe).
next I marked lines across the top of the tubing where I was going to make my cuts so i had registration marks to line back up after cutting.
After cutting the frame pieces apart I drilled each section (starting with the small foot piece) and worked my way from the final transom assembly back out to the two person original frame. This was pretty tricky. The important thing to remember was drill and pin one hole at a time and think about what you are doing before any drill holes are made otherwise you could end up with pins and tab locks that dont match up. Fortunately it worked out great and no mis matches.
I then had a block of aluminum welded to the seat section, which I turned upside down so I had room to screw tighten the motor and make sure the new transom block was not too high for my short shaft motor.
Isn't it funny how the non-retired gripe about the weather and stay home while the retired go fishing if it is anywhere between 125 degrees hot and 1 degree cold....rain or shine, sleet or snow, wind or calm, high water or low water, sick or well. How can you hate the weather if you stay in because of it, and how can you hate the retired because they dont let the weater bother them
Love'm both and get outside!!!!!!!!!
White River Walleye on Worm Harnesses
In 1919, Norman Rockwell painted two covers for successive issues of a magazine called The Country Gentleman. The images are now in the public domain.
The Fishing Trip
Even Norman Rockwell knew worms catch the fish.
Why many people avoid using worms and insist on artificial baits would make an excellent topic for a psycho-social doctoral thesis. I won’t be writing that. Instead, this article is intended as a primer for fishing worm harnesses in Tablerock and the other White River impoundments. What I will share comes from fellow walleye fishermen who have showed me a number of tricks. In particular, I want to thank Chuck Etheredge of Holiday Island, Arkansas. Chuck holds the Holiday Island Marina walleye record at 14.5 pounds, and he is the one who taught me about his harnesses for brush fishing crawlers.
Nightcrawlers are one of nature’s perfect animals. They aerate the soil, they help break down leaves and other dead matter to soil, and they are so valuable to growing plants that people buy them to put in their gardens.
While brown trout guides below Bull Shoals dam say they use red worms because they are “more natural looking in the water,” the real reason is stocker rainbows that can’t and won’t leave the nightcrawlers alone.
In the last several years nightcrawlers have become a major farmed and/or harvested crop. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and even Walmarts sell them. Typically, the containers are Styrofoam or cardboard and are filled with potting soil or mulch. I buy at several locations and find the overall quality quite good. However, I always check the contents before I leave the store. Temperature or stock rotation disasters do happen.
Next important tip: As soon as you get home, place the worm boxes in the refrigerator and keep them there until the fishing trip. Crawlers will last several weeks if left alone in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. If you are not the cook, label the boxes “worms” to avoid screams and other domestic difficulties.
On the day I intend to use the crawlers, I pack the boxes in an ice chest with ice. The ice will not freeze them in their containers and will keep them cool and lively. Once I am in the boat and ready to fish, I put some ice and lake water in a flat bottom plastic bowl and add four or five crawlers. The ice water plumps them up and washes the dirt off so your boat floor stays cleaner. In addition, you will be in and out of your cooler less often. When the ice melts, merely add another piece or two.
An alternative I recently learned was to bathe a day’s worth of crawlers at once, then place them in the now empty Styrofoam containers with ice.
In the event you wish to buy crawlers in bulk, they are available from several mail order sources, including Cabelas. Several chapters of the classic book, Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers, cover the long term care and feeding of nightcrawlers.
The Worm Harness
A worm harness is nothing more than one or more hooks combined with one or more devices to attract fish. The early Crème worm was a rubber worm on a primitive worm harness. I caught my first lunker bass on this rig.
Literally hundreds of commercial harness makers exist and a Ebay search for worm harness or crawler harness will prove it. Cabelas and Bass Pro each carry more than one brand and several varieties for each brand. The sheer number intimidates anglers seeking to try a new method. How can you know which ones work best?
For those wanting instant gratification, the “norm” consists of two small hooks, size 2, 4, or 6, snelled on 10 to 20 pound test line. Above the hooks, you will find 3 to 8 beads, and in front of that a size 3 Colorado or Indiana blade. The entire harness will run on a single three to four foot strand of line with a swivel or loop at the end opposite the hooks.
Variations abound including those with single hooks; Smile, Dakota, or Willow blades; and even what appears to be a wedding band in the build.
To help understand the reason for blade choices I’ve built a chart:
Easiest to spin; an offset propeller; relies on flash/ color
Medium and Large
Easy to spin; mostly flash
Imitates shad well
#4 and 5
Easy to spin; resembles either a double willow or a cutout Indiana
Medium and Large
A cross between a willow and a Colorado
Combines thump and flash
# 3, 4, and maybe 5
Requires more speed to spin but thumps
Great for stained or muddy water
# 3 and 4
A variety of harness colors will work. I suppose you could catch a walleye on anything if you fished long enough with a crawler attached. However, the purpose of the harness is to attract the walleye to find the worm. Certain colors and styles tend to work consistently.
As a side note, the common forage of walleyes in our chain of lakes explains the color choices. Walleye in the White River chain primarily feed on shad and bluegill. As yellow perch, common walleye forage in the North, become more prolific in Bull Shoals, the color choices for that lake may change somewhat.
Bodies with chartreuse, red, green, pink, and white are the most commonly used. I own a box of plastic beads I bought from Cabelas for tying traditional harnesses. It contains no less than 24 different shades that are variations on all of the above except white. Traditional harnesses frequently use more than one of these colors.
Common blade colors include silver, copper, and air brushed or painted blades using the color palate listed above. While I have had some success with half silver/half gold blades, harnesses with solid gold blades have never proven successful for me. Again, the yellow perch in Bull Shoals may change that.
Copper Colorado Blade/Pink Float Beads
Silver/Yellow/Red Colorado Blade/Chartreuse Float Beads
Silver Willow Blade/Firetiger Float Beads
Painted Colorado Blade/White Float Beads (Wonderbread)
In a previous article, Trolling for Table Rock Walleye, I wrote extensively about where and how to locate walleye. I urge you to read or re-read that article for location information.
Depth and speed are the other variables that combine with location to determine whether you have success. Fishermen successfully use harnesses for fish holding as shallow as 6 or 8 feet. The harnesses are equally successful on the Great Lakes at 45 feet behind downriggers. For the White River lakes I do not advise downriggers. Instead, those who target walleyes use three way rigs or bottom bouncers.
A three way rig utilizes a three way swivel. The main line attaches to one ring, 12 to 24 inches of line with a bell sinker at the end attaches to the second ring. The third ring holds the harness line.
Those who use this rig do so because they can quickly change the amount of weight or adjust the height off bottom. I suggest any who use this rig make sure that the strongest of the three lines is the main line to the reel. The second strongest should be the line to the harness. The weight line should be weaker than either of the others.
The alternative to a three way rig is a bottom bouncer.
The main line attaches at the junction of the “L.” The harness line attaches to the swivel at the end of the unweighted arm. As the boat moves forward the weighted arm tip brushes the bottom while the harness follows behind the weight and somewhat above it.
Bottom bouncers come in a variety of weights, ranging from ½ ounce to 4 ounces. What size to use? Traditionalists will tell you to use 1 ounce for every 10 feet of depth you will be fishing. That advice is accurate and useful under normal circumstances, especially when combined with the traditional advice on speed and how much line should be out.
If you search the internet for articles on using harnesses and bottom bouncers, almost all will tell you the ideal configuration will have the main line running from the boat to the bouncer at a 45 degrees or less. Those articles also suggest the bouncer should only “bounce” from time to time. These articles are absolutely correct, and professional walleye fishermen use these “rules of thumb” every tournament.
The last element of traditional harness fishing is the speed. Most days a speed of .8 mph to 1.4 mph will be the most effective. Be aware the type of blade can change the effective speed. A Willow spins far more easily than a Colorado. A Smile blade can spin with even less speed. You should go at least fast enough to spin the blade.
However, the ultimate decision maker on speed will be the fish. Sluggish fish may want a slow presentation. If so the weight will be less and the blade choice would be a Smile or Willow. On other days, hot water fish may need a fast speed to trigger bites. In that case a heavier weight and more line may be needed to reach the depth desired.
Chuck’s Secret Method
Careful readers may have noticed the pictures of my harnesses above are different from what they see in stores or some of the sketches I have drawn and inserted. The differences are only a part of the “secret” method Chuck Etheredge taught me two years ago. His method is an adaptation of the traditional ways; one that is designed for the highland reservoirs with submerged timber, brush, stumps, car size rocks, and house foundations.
Chuck wanted a harness that was less likely to sink when the bottom bouncer stalled because it hit a rock or limb. To that end he substituted floats for the sinking beads. If you put one of his rigs in the water and lay the bouncer on the bottom, the blade slides down to the weight, but the floats, hook, and worm stay up.
He also experimented to see if he could avoid exposed hooks. He took from the bass fishermen the idea of Texas rigging the worm. Yes, it is a soft, real nightcrawler, but the embedded hook had to help a little. In addition, one hook point instead of two equaled half as many hang points. He found a worm hook in size 1 or 1/0 was every bit as good as the traditional two small hooks in sticking fish.
Last, to keep the float beads and blade from pushing the worm down into a wad, he made another innovation. He uses a bobber stop to hold the beads in place.
In addition to changing the harness, Chuck defies conventional wisdom as to bottom bouncer weight. He intentionally uses about half the weight considered standard. At 20 feet he will use one ounce. At thirty feet he will have on a 1.5 or 2 ounce bouncer. To reach the bottom, this means he must have out considerably more line. The change in angle between the boat and the bait is exactly the reason for his unorthodoxy. He believes the “flatter” angle aids in pulling the rig up and over limbs and logs.
The combination of differences works for Chuck. On more than occasion I have watched him fish snag filled flats and timbered channel edges with his worm harnesses. Yes he will sometimes hang up, but far less often than anyone would expect. And while he is at it, he catches fish.
The first time he showed me his ways, he tried to explain his uncanny success at staying free from hangs. In my words, he does it like this. When he feels the line begin to rub over a limb, he does not jerk. He waits until the line between the limb and harness shortens. As this happens, braid line will sing or vibrate. Quite often the rod tip will feel heavier. Just when he feels the bouncer arm contact the limb, he lifts the rod in a high arc to pop the rig and harness over the limb. He then lets the bouncer fall back to the bottom. Many bites happen on that drop.
Please note that Chuck’s method requires the angler to hold the rod and feel for the key moment. This is different from those who put the harness rod in a holder.
Every article about a fishing method should include a few pictures to vouch for the method and the author.
A Table Rock Limit from 2010 when Chuck showed me his secrets
Three from June of 2011
My personal best, 13.75 pounds, July 8, 2011, on one of Chuck’s style harnesses.
Source: Trip Report Thursday, 4/12
WORKED ALL DAY FOR 42 SCATTERED CRAPPIE ... LARGEST WAS 1.8 POUND....FISH WERE ANYWHERE AND EVERY WHERE, MINNOWS AND RUBBER JIGS WORKED WELL,..STARTED PICKING UP WALLEYE AND CRAPPIE AROUND 4PM COSE TO THE SHORE IN ABOUT 10 FEET OF WATER ON JIGS,AND ROADRUNNERS TIPPED WITH MINNOWS AS WELL AS NIGHTCRAWLERS.
.CAUGHT SEVERAL LARGEMOUTH AND WHITE BASS WHILE CRAPPIE FISHING COSE TO SHORE AREAS.
Went out about 7:30 this morning and started by trplling for walleye for awhile. Said the heck with this and went to a favorite spot and caught 13 total. 1 was 15 " one was 14" and the rest were either 12. I did catch one that was 10" and the other one I didn't keep was about 8". All in about 2 hours. I was around the one mile long bridge. Good day.
My Calendar Runneth Over
By Brian Wright email@example.com
Before the beginning of each year I work on my schedule for the upcoming seasons. First, I review the past year, evaluate my body of journalistic work, and determine if I accomplished what I set out to do. This helps with planning the year at hand.
Seems as though this should be pretty easy.
Since I primarily focus on angling and/or destinations, you would think planning the year would be easy. After all, look at all the opportunities that abound for outdoor enthusiasts in our region. In addition, I co-host The Outdoor Guys weekly radio show on ESPN Radio in Kansas City (www.outdoorguysradio.com), thus giving me an additional 52 weeks of opportunity to promote the great outdoors.
But that’s exactly what makes developing a schedule so difficult.
I typically write in the neighborhood of 12 outdoor articles in a given year — not counting editorial pieces such as this column. And with the weekly radio show, I spend more than 50 hours each year on live radio in a pretty big market. Given these numbers, and the plethora of story ideas bouncing around my cranium, therin lies the problem.
A rough breakdown of the articles will include some 10-12 straight-up fishing articles (how to, or where to go type articles). Then there will be another six to eight destination articles focusing on great places to go and what to do when you get there. The radio show integrates nicely with the writing.
My favorite articles to write, and radio interviews to conduct, are human interest stories. I love to sit down with people, ask them questions, and share their story. I could easily find enough interesting people within 250 miles to write at least a dozen of these stories each year, and do so for many years without repeat. However, time, money, and space dictate that I will probably write six to eight human interest stories in a given year.
Do the math and you will begin to see the dilemma of an outdoor writer/radio host in the Midwest. I’ve already alloted enough editorial as outlined above to fill my quota for the year. And I haven’t even touched on boating, camping, turkey hunting, and black-powder guns — all of which have a high level of interest to me.
I suspect many of you have equal difficulty finding time to follow all of your favorite pursuits.
That’s exactly my point of planning.
With the proper organization and planning I’ll be able to pack an enormous amount of outdoor activities within the next 12 months.
You see, it doesn’t really matter if you are planning your outdoor activities in conjunction with your job, as I do, or just planning your outdoor activities. You must rely on your principles and goals to guide you.
Although I spend a lot of time in the outdoors, I’m just like most of you. I have family, friends, a household, and other business interests which must all be planned for as well. And the better job I do of organizing my tasks, the more effective my actions are.
In Stephen R. Covey’s exceptional book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 2 is to “Begin With The End In Mind.”
I’m certain — proven through personal experience and the actions of other effective people — that Covey, and others scholars, have identified the habits of success.
For me, beginning with the end in mind is critical. To effectively organize and balance our lives, we need a plan that has a specific goal to be reached in a realistic timeframe.
I have two key phrases that I continually tell myself. First, a saying from Thomas Edison which states, “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” This reminds me that if I work smart, and hard, I’ll be successful. The second phrase I use to motivate myself is by the philosopher Goethe who states that “things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”
I have found a beautiful balance between work, family, and recreation by becoming organized and focused.
Find your own motivational statements, and grab a pencil and 2012 planner/calendar. Develop a plan which is ruled by your principles and leads you where you want to go!
Chilly Nights and Indian Summer
By Brian Wright a.k.a. Hillbilly Deluxe
According to Wikipedia, an “Indian Summer” is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs in autumn, in the Northern Hemisphere. It is characterized by a period of sunny, warm weather, after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost, but before the first snowfall.
In my neck of the woods, on Indian Point at Table Rock Lake, Indian Summer generally occurs in early November. There’s something primeval about this time of year that instills a sense of purpose for man and beast.
The fall season — with its chilly nights and warm, Indian Summer days — also seems to create a sense of urgency in our woods.
Just as early American Indians harvested their crops of squash and corn — and took to the fields to harvest wild game for fur and meat — this time of year triggers modern day outdoor enthusiasts to take to water and woods to enjoy their own fall harvest.
For many of us, that means hunting. Kansas and Missouri offer some of the finest hunting land in the nation. Monster bucks are in the rut, upland game birds are looking for food to sustain them through the winter, and waterfowl are moving through the area by the hundreds of thousands.
If fishing is your passion, you know that late fall will have many species of fish gorging food in preparation of the grip of winter. The lakes and rivers throughout our region are simply outstanding this time of year, especially my home lake of Table Rock.
For campers, hikers, and canoeists, the Indian Summer offers a few last days to enjoy the natural beauty of the Ozarks before winter.
No matter what your pursuit, there’s just something exciting about this time of year — right down to deciding how you will layer your wardrobe.
Personally, this is my favorite time of year. Spring comes in a close second. I must admit that when spring arrives, I always say it’s my favorite season, but in reality, at that time, I’m heavily influenced by suffering through several months of frozen ground, frozen lakes, and frozen toes.
Mid-autumn is superior. There’s nothing quite like gathering with friends and family to sip hot apple cider by the firepit. The aromatic smell of wood burning, and the cool fall air, are intoxicating — especially after spending an Indian Summer day in the outdoors.
The first few weeks of November find the forest floor covered with a patchwork of color courtesy of fallen leaves from maple, hickory, ash, and dogwood. The canopy above is highlighted by the deep colors provided by oak leaves which cling to their point of origin —refusing to fall until the bitter winter winds of December rip each petiole from its branch.
As an avid fisherman, I cherish each day I spend on the water this time of year. Early November provides the opportunity to find schooling, active, fish. Most of the fair weather fisherman have moved on to watching football, leaving the lake eerily quiet and nearly void of boats.
This is also a fantastic time to explore the lakes. I often navigate the coves and creek channels this time of year and take in the splendor of the season.
The cycle of seasons will soon bring winter, and with it, shortened hours of daylight, hibernating animals, and dormant plants.
No matter what your personal pursuits are this time of year, there is one thing for certain. You must enjoy the Indian Summer when it arrives. It won’t last long and winter will be close behind
TROLLING FOR TABLE ROCK WALLEYE
Rumor has it that fools up North take two foot long, fairy wands out on ice and dabble something called pimples up and down through holes for walleye. That's just wrong. I once read an extended debate on a walleye message board over exactly how many and what size chartreuse and fluorescent red beads needed to be arranged in what order on a crawler harness to catch walleye. Bear in mind, these were grown men arguing over worm fishing. However, the true depths of walleye madness are the men who knowingly put their bare legs in bogs full of leaches to attract and capture bait for walleye. This article is not about freezing, bait fishing or being bait. This article is intended as a primer for walleye trolling in our White River system.
Walleye thrive in four of the five upper White River lakes, although natural reproduction is limited in most. Both Missouri and Arkansas regularly stock walleye to supplement any natural reproduction in these lakes, and both impose 18 inch minimum length limits to protect the species from overharvest. The abundant shad within the lakes of the system help numerous specimens to exceed that length. Walleye to 30 inches are captured every year and larger fish are known to occur.
The first step is to remember some basics about the fish. Walleye are large, toothy perch. They are predatory, nomadic, and tend to loosely school. Their eyes, for which they are named, enable them to hunt well in low light. Although they will gleefully feed on worms, frogs, crawdads, and even leeches, their primary forage in our river system are shad and sunfishes. The key to finding and catching walleyes is their forage.
Both shad and bluegill spawn in the Spring, at or near the full moon, when the water reaches the upper sixties and seventies. During that time period, the walleye will be holding outside of the shallows during the day and will move in during the low light. Mature threadfin shad are almost exactly the same size as number 5 and 7 Shad Raps. Mature sunfish, like bluegill and redear, are larger but have the same profile as Rapala's Dives To series. These baits, trolled along spawning banks such as rip rap and hard gravel and sand surfaces will pay off. The shad actually spawn in the extreme shallows and are usually visible during the key time. Sunfishes typically spawn in 3 to 10 feet of water. Because of the shallow depths, some fishermen use planer boards to place lines nearer the bank than the boat and avoid spooking fish.
After the shad spawn, the walleye will be as scattered as the shad. For a period of four to six weeks in May and early June, the most reliable means of finding walleye is to watch early each morning for explosions as white bass or small black bass forage over flats. These will mark locations of scattered shad, often near the edge of the flat where it rolls into a channel. More often than not, these locations will be an inside bends of the channel. Baits trolled a foot or two above the bottom of the flats will be the most frequently successful. Be aware that walleye will sometimes suspend at the depth of the flat but will locate out over the channel. Trolling patterns should include this open water as well as the flat. In normal years at the upper end of Table Rock (Big M to Holiday Island) the usual depth for the described flat trolling will be 15 to 25 feet during the day. At dawn, dusk, and on cloudy days, the fish may move shallower.
During June a different pattern will begin to develop. Walleye will begin to suspend in trees, especially where the timber is at or near the channel edges. The key to this pattern developing is the formation of the summer thermocline. As more and more of the bait and small fish begin to hold at its fixed depth, the pattern will continue to improve. Although counter intuitive, trolling is an effective way to take advantage of this pattern. The ideal location is where the tops of the remaining trees are at or just shallower than the depth the fish are holding. Almost as good is visible flooded timber sitting on a channel edge with only a few scattered trees standing in the channel itself.
After the thermocline drops deeper than flat depths, the walleye may well continue to hold on some flats if the flat is brushy and has ambush/shelter locations in that brush. This pattern usually exists adjacent to a creek or river channel which cuts through the flat. As an example from the upper end of Table Rock, one such flat is 16 to 20 feet deep in normal late summers. The river channel is 30 to 32 feet. Once the thermocline is deeper than 32 feet, the productive area is up on the brushy flat. Where this pattern exists, the most productive trolling usually involves plowing a trolled crankbait along the bottom, often at speeds faster than one would expect.
A final location tip is also a late summer/early fall, deep thermocline pattern. The best description for this pattern is "broken bluff." Look for a location where an outside bend bluff is interrupted by a creek entrance. Troll at or slightly above the thermocline depth parallel to the bluff and continue the troll from where the bluff ends through the creek mouth and on to where the bluff begins once more. Shad schools often hold suspended at the junction of the creek and river channels. Where they do, the walleye will cruise.
Once October temperatures begin to chill the water and the thermocline weakens, these location patterns slowly disappear.
DEPTH AND SPEED
Depth and speed are the two variables that must be combined with location for trolling success. Tackle and equipment choices should be based upon controlling depth and speed.
The speeds most frequently effective for walleye are 1.5 to 2.8 miles per hour. The lower speed is where the angler counts on bites from feeding fish. At the higher end of the speed range, the bites are commonly reaction strikes. Instinct compels the fish to attack before the quick bait escapes. Depending on water temperature, the two causes for bites overlap somewhere in the middle. A GPS, handheld or integrated into the sonar unit, is invaluable for walleye trolling. The tool allows the fisherman to repeat any speed which has provoked a strike. It also enables a thorough testing of different speeds.
One method to reduce the time spent looking for the right speed is to maintain a set speed with the boat, but change the bait speed. Pull forward on the rod, hold at the forward point for a few moments, and then allow the bait to stall by dropping the rod back. Strikes may occur on the pull forward, on the pause and slow down, or at the restart of the normal speed. On some outings, the only success may be on speed changes. In tree top trolling, many of the strikes happen when the bait temporarily hangs on a limb and then pulls free with a sudden acceleration.
Another speed variable is the lure's best speed for action. Before deploying any bait, test run the bait at various speeds within view from the boat. Not only can you verify the bait is tracking straight, but also you can find the speed at which the bait has the desired action. Select the bait based upon the anticipated speed range you will use.
Depth of the lure can be controlled by weight or by the dive curve of the bait. One alternative, especially useful on large lakes without timber like the Great Lakes, is the downrigger. The large cannon ball weight is sunk to a set depth on a wire line. The lure is clipped to run some feet behind the cannonball. The strike pulls the bait from the clip and the fish is landed directly. The depth control is precise with this system. Unfortunately, in impoundments such as Table Rock, the presence of submerged timber renders downriggers problematical. He who chooses to downrig in Table Rock limits himself to fewer fish holding locations.
Another alternative used elsewhere to control depth is to use snap weights. Lead weights are clipped to the line as it is released. By using predetermined weights and clipping at measured points, the depth of any lure can be controlled. With snap weights, the weight stays on after the strike and is removed as the line is recovered at the boat. When fishing alone, this recovery can become quite tricky. The snap weight system is not timber friendly, although it does outperform the downrigger system in marginal areas.
The weighting system used most effectively on Table Rock is lead core line. Lead core line is made by covering a thin wire of lead (or a politically correct metal) with a braided sheath of nylon or dacron line. The color of the sheath changes every ten yards. Thus fishermen ask one another how many colors they had out. The weight in the line adds sink to the lure, and the longer the length of lead core out the greater depth added. Most sources state that each color adds five feet of depth to the lure's dive curve. This depth is speed dependent: speed up and the added sink reduces; slow down and the depth increases. The advantage of lead core lies in the ability to troll lures such as #5 Shadraps and floating minnows like Rapalas at depths they would otherwise never reach.
Field testing by reliable comrades has developed a formula which appears to be accurate at 2 MPH. Allow 5 feet of depth for each color plus add half the expected dive depth for the length of line out.
The usual lead core rig is a larger level wind reel on a moderately flexible rod. Typically, fishermen will spool a Dacron braid on the reel then attach five or more colors of lead core line. A monofilament leader is then placed at the end of the lead core. The usual method for attaching to lead core line is to strip an amount of the wire from the braided sheath and then tie the lines with the empty braid.
Lead core avoids many of the disadvantages of snap weights and downriggers. However, it does require dedication of an entire rod and reel rig to the method. In addition, anglers must become accustomed to planning trolling passes and course changes which allow for line which sinks when it slows.
The fact that so many weight alternatives exist suggests fishermen have not been satisfied with the alternative – long line trolling. However, developments in the last decade have reinvented the method and increased its effectiveness.
METHOD AND EQUIPMENT
Long line trolling requires some specialized equipment, but that special equipment is not necessarily expensive.
The trolling rod can be any length, but most anglers find 6'6" to 7'6" the easiest to use. The rod should be medium power and have a moderate action. The medium/moderate action is more forgiving on the strike, during the typical walleye headshakes, and at the lunge walleyes always make at the boat. This avoids ripping the bait from the fish, an especially critical factor if you use low stretch braided line.
Many fishermen use Ugly Stick's, as they possess the desired action and are inexpensive and durable. Other alternatives include the Shimano Voltaeus or the Falcon HD series. I use an older Shimano Compre I bought to fish for large Brown trout as one rod and a Falcon HD for the other. I have an Ugly Stick as a spare for guests.
The reel selection depends on the line choice, so let's discuss lines first. As stated earlier, depth control can be critical so the line choice makes a difference. The larger the diameter of line, the more that water pressure pushes the line, and the lure, toward the surface. The depth a standard Wiggle Wart reaches on 15 pound test monofilament with 100 feet out will be only half as deep as the same lure on 10 pound braid that has 2 pound diameter (known as 10/2).
When long line trolling, 100 to 200 feet of line out becomes common. Braid not only shortens the length of line needed to reach a depth, it also increases the feel transmitted to the rod tip. Based upon these factors and experience, I strongly suggest using braid. However, not all braids are equal. Certain brands exhibit a greater tendency to fray; others snap at midline too frequently. While the different brands all have fans, I suggest you choose from Power Pro, Suffix, and Berkley's Fireline. Each brand is of excellent quality. Furthermore, I suggest 10/2 or 15/4 pound test. Personally, I use the Power Pro 10/2 line exclusively.
Choice of line not only affects the depth of the bait. It also determines the type of reel to be used. As the amount of line out determines depth, knowing that amount becomes important.
Old school fishermen rely upon linecounter reels. These reels have gears which flip a displayed number for every "x" spool revolutions. When properly filled with line, the number of revolutions to flip a number is roughly equal to one foot. By letting out 150 "feet" of line with a line counter reel, the fisherman can determine a rough depth for the lure and can return the lure to that same depth time and again.
An alternative to the linecounter reels is to use metered line. The line is colored with a different color for every 25 feet of line. In that way, six colors are equal to 150 feet. Both Suffix and Power Pro make metered braid. Power Pro's is a 10/2 line and Suffix's is a 10/4 line. By using metered line the fisherman can avoid buying a bulky linecounter reel.
If you opt for a linecounter reel rod and reel combination, the Daiwa Sealine series enjoys the best reputation, although the expense of the Shimano linecounter may explain why it has so few fans.
If you choose to use a metered braid, any ordinary casting reel with a smooth drag may be used. I use a Shimano Citica on one rod and an Okuma Serrano on the other. Both were reels I replaced on bass rods with upgraded casting reels.
A final piece of equipment remains for discussion.
Some years ago Mark Romanack and several others performed research by sending a diver down to observe the actual depth achieved by various crank baits when trolled on specific lines. The result of that research was a book titled Precision Trolling, also known as the Troller's Bible. The book is now in its 9th or 10th edition and printed on Tyvek to make it more water resistant. Go to fishing411.com to view the information and acquire a copy. This tool will save you time and money in presenting the baits at the right depth and speed.
Naturally, the research that Mark and his colleagues did has variables. The line diameter, the lure size, and, in the case of lead core trolling, the boat speed all affect the lure depth. You will need to experiment with your actual presentation and learn to adjust his dive curve graphs to your reality. For example, I know my choice of 10/2 Power Pro means I get an additional foot or two below his maximum depth of Wiggle Warts. Regardless, the book is worth it!
The method, once you are equipped, becomes simple. Move to the depth slightly shallower than what you expect to work. Begin to troll the areas you have selected, using the baits and enough line to troll the bait at the target depths. Move out to greater depths when you do not find success. Once you are 10 feet deeper than your start, move back to shallower than you started and try that. Sometimes they are shallower than you expect. Twice this last year, I caught very large (10+ pounds) fish only after I moved to shallower depths after starting and moving out from my starting depth.
If you troll Table Rock, or any of the White River reservoirs besides Tanneycomo, you will hang up. It is not a matter of "might" but "will." The Corps of Engineers cleared some areas, but even the cleared flats boast stumps, fence lines, and brushy stick ups from submerged gullies. After more than 60 years under water, creek channel edges, bluffs, and the old river channels still have cedars and some hardwood trees. To complicate matters, on the flats, walleyes tend to congregate at the changes. The places where the flat humps, bumps, dips, or drops to the deeps will produce best. And those changes are the most likely to have snags. Based upon these inevitable facts, some walleye fishermen simply don't troll lures. However, the fish are there and if you intend to catch them you will need to put those lures at risk.
Uttering those brave words does not mean I enjoy losing lures. Instead, it means I have sought compromises. I have tried to find the most effective lures among those I can buy inexpensively. I have factored in the CHF as well. CHF is the comparative hang factor. The ugly truth is that some lures hang more easily than others. The newish Bandit walleye lure is an outstanding example. It catches fish. However, its triple hook arrangement means it hangs more frequently than the Reef Runner against which it competes. The Bandit has a higher CHF than the Reef Runner without an appreciable difference in FCA (fish catching ability). If you compare the price versus the CHF and then factor in the FCA, the Reef Runner is the winner.
All of the following comments are the result of my field experience and subjective comparisons of the FCA to the CHF, with expense considered. You are welcome to experiment and reach your own conclusions. I do ask you share what you learn.
First, all Rapala baits work really well. The only problem is their expense. 6 to 8 dollars per bait is expensive. Berkley Flicker Shads are an alternative to Shad Raps. Storm Thunder Cranks works as well or better than Tail Dancers. Bomber Fat Free Shads substitute very well for for DT's.
Second, buy the Cabela's Reef Runner knockoff and spend half as much.
Third, even though Normark (Rapala) now owns Storm, the company's original series lures remain among the best at catching walleyes. The Wiggle Wart, Hot N Tot, and Thundercrank excel as inexpensive walleye lures. Just be sure you buy the original series and not the variations introduced by Normark to reduce costs of manufacture.
Size and color are additional keys. White with blue or purple, silver and silver with black and blue, Firetiger, and bone are all good. 2 to 4 inches baits are great. Do not be afraid to go larger than 4 inches. 5 to 10 pound walleye are accustomed to feeding on gizzard shad to 10 inches and bluegill from hand size to hogs.
I hope this will help those who wish to enjoy the excellent walleye fishing available here in the Ozarks.
I've been thinking about Alaska since being stationed in Panama some twenty years ago. Finally after realizing that I've been thru Desert Shield/Storm in a Mech Infantry Unit and a year in Afgahanistan after 9/11, and that I've turned fifty years+ old...what am I waiting for?!
Booked a flight from KC to Denver to Anchorage. Surprizing less than I thought, about $560 round trip. (Book early)Reserved a car for two weeks. (about $700) Planed on fishing (2 week license $88) and exploring the Kenia Peninsula staying at bed and breakfast inns($89-$130 a night). Staying in Cooper Landing and Homer. Packed some recomended fishing gear and way to much other stuff for the trip, and took off. (This was August 6th to 18th)
Now at first I was reluctant to go to Kenia Peninsula. I've read of the crowd of tourist standing in line and the backed up traffic. Thoughts of Branson traffic on a weekend almost changed my mind. But then I thought why does everyone want to go there? Must be a reason. To my pleasant surprise, no crowds, no traffic, great weather - except on arrival.
Arrived in Anchorage at night & raining. Slept that night in the car at the airport, no problem. I would have missed one of the most beautiful drives of my life that next morning along the Seward/Sterling highway. Stopped along the way to watch the tide coming into Cook Inlet..awesome, and the mountains...awesome.
Cooper Landing..beautiful. Stayed three days fishing on my own picking up tips from others and the tackle shops. Next time I'll take a guided day float/fish trip. Finally seen some bears with cubs on the Kenia & Russian river on the third day. Just follow proper awareness and bear saftey you'll be fine. Also figured out the "Kenia Flop" as one guide put it for salmon, and hooked a sockeye for a ten second fight before breaking off. Went to a fly rod for C&R rainbows.
Drove on down to Homer...I love Homer and want to retire there now..all tho I have not wintered over there yet. The Anchor river is a 14 mile drive back. (Along the way a Moose and two yearlings grazed along the road side.)Good for wade fishing silver salmon coming in on the tide. Hint, dont be on the other side of the river at high tide. Nuf said. Again hooked a silver for a breif fight. Took a half day charter boat for halibut ($100)and caught two, the limit. The fish was less than average size. only ten pounds of fillet. Next time take an all or multi day trip. Spent time on the "Spit" with a helpful local who was bank fishing for cod, halibut or what ever was pulled in. What a view..fishing surrounded by mountain glaciers, float planes and great weather.
I had met several people from the northern US who fly up to Alaska two or three times a year to fish a few days and take thier catch back home.Fesh salmon & seafood in the frezer. And the international visitors from Italy, Germany, Australia and Russia. But when I met a man and his son fly fishing on the Anchor river (only ones there that day)and he was from just down the road Carthage, and that he has also hunted Alaska(some thing I also want to do)for six years..WOW.
I had wanted to see Denali while there so drove all the way back to Anchorage and 100 miles north. Stayed at the Princess Crusie Lines Mnt Mckinnley Lodge. Found to my great discomfort that 'crusie line tours' is no way to see Alaska and I advise anyone to never do that. Unless doing nothing is your plan. Anyway, the employees were nice but I didn't like the 'cold corporate' fake atmospher compared to the warm personal touch and local knowledge of a B&B. I really liked Homer and besides..I'm on vacation! So drove back to Homer for four more days of fishing, beach combing and just relaxing.
I found that to me Alaska is a lot closer than I thought. (6 hours there & 4 hours back from Denver)and more affordable if you make it that way. I packed to much clothing and things I didn't use which cost over wieght baggage fees. I wasn't going on an expeditionary deployment as in my military life,its a fishing trip on vaction. Just a couple clothing changes, fleece jacket & rain gear. I also packed a few days of Mnt House freze dried meals & bought at a grocery store,dinng out is expensive. I also packed a small tent and sleep bag that - had I used at one of Seward or Homer camp grounds a night or two like many other people were, I would have saved a little more. The economy rental car was great!I could go where and when I wanted and if the weather changed..so did my plan. The highways on the Kenia have several pullouts to easliy access and fish the many rivers and lakes there.And trail heads to get into the mountain lakes.
Well, if your thinking about it, got a couple of weeks vacation to plan out, and a bit of room in your finances..go! My trip total was about three thousand on the credit card(airline,car,rooms,gas,some meals and gifts) I have the winter to pay it off. But the experience and satisfation that..'Yes! I went there and did that." will last the rest of my life. I came back with hailbut,cod and silver salmon,froze, vacum packed & boxed for the air line. But Alaska is a lot more than fish. I feel blessed that I got to fish a salmon run with black AND BROWN bears in the river. Had to slow down because of moose in the road. Reeled in a halibut from 150ft of water. Had a beer by a fire watching the moon rise over glaciers on Kachemah Bay. Meet people and the dogs of the Iditorod. And yes I'll be going back.