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Showing content with the highest reputation since 12/16/2014 in Blog Entries

  1. 3 points

    My Life

    I grew up in North West NJ, Sussex County. I'm an Appalachian Mtn. Born and Raised Country boy. I'm not from Joisey Proud son of the Skylands region of NJ , near the border of NY, NJ and Pennsylvania in the Kittatinny Mountains. My family has history as some of the first inhabitants of the Milbrook Village in the Delaware Water Gap. A pretty popular tourist location with one room schoolhouse, black smith shop and all the trappings of the old world. http://www.njskylands.com/hsmillbrookvillage My Nanna, Pop-Pop and family were some of the initial inhabitants of what is now National Park...Part of the Tocks Island Project. The Gov. gave life rights to land owners and the plan was to flood the region for a giant reservoir.... Thankfully this beautiful land never was flooded but we lost family legacy and land. I will take you through this journey of my life and family as I have time and reflect on the things that made me who I am as an outdoorsman and naturalist. My hope is this will give some insight into who I am and what I stand for and the foundation of my youth and the cornerstone of my psyche. In short I have a love of the outdoors instilled by my Grandfather and Father. It's a journey I hope you will take with me as I relive the escapades and moments that are at time cringeworthy, funny and worthy of personal growth and the love of all things in the Natural world. Check back as I up date and record my life. Pop-Pop (Joseph Lowick..."Joe") It's the mid 1970's - Dog days of summer have passed. Damp fall weather is setting in on the Ridge "Kittatinny Mtn Range in Sussex County NJ". Been raining a couple days now.... but Pop-Pop said on his weekly visit to say hi (watch the fights on the Cable TV)........ "You come help in the garden and help me get prepped for the Indian corn" I got a surprise for ya. Then he unceremoniously spat in his hills bros. coffee can. A process repeated all day every day as evident by the stain on his white short whiskered chin. Surprises always meant Eel fishing the Delaware River with a drop line. It also meant a stop at the store to pick up pickled pigs feet, more RedMan for Pop-Pop, and Yoo-Hoo for me. If we were lucky and got an early enough start, we got to bring the pitchforks and hunt for baby Lamprey Eel. (Pop-Pop would scoop the pitchfork into a brush/twig pile known to house and protect the young Lamprey Eel from fish and other predators and scoop it out onto the embankment where the fun ensued) Lamprey Hunt = A fast reflex game great for kids catching the squiggling young lamprey before it can get back in to the creek. We hunted the feeder creeks for about an hour looking for Lamprey nests as we called them (not allowed any more). If we got skunked we reverted to use the garden worms we dug up before leaving to head over the mountain. I can only remember doing this twice growing up because it was a rare occasion.. Other times we'd just pick Indian artifacts along the Delaware in the plowed up fields being made ready for winter wheat Anyway - Pop-Pop didn't disappoint. We got to go Eel fishing but the real surprise would come later.......My first time working the Eel Weir. Pop-Pops commercial Eel Harvesting Operation. The Weir Hawkeye and Pierce just had a back and forth that caused a belly laugh with Dad and I to close out the night's episode of MASH when I heard the front door creek open to Pop-Pop saying his customary entry....No-Bah-Dee Home! He appeared out of the dark entry into the glow of the TV light spilling from the living room into the dark foyer. "YOU READY????" Now,.... I wasn't sure what ready meant...I had been Eel fishing that Saturday and ABC's Wide World Of Sports wasn't for another couple days. So it wasn't "Ready" for Boxing and Howard Cosell and the fights we loved to watch.. Always got a kick out of hearing Pop-Pops commentary on the fights... even more so then Howard's...which is saying a lot. He said get your play coat..... I obliged...I didn't ask Mom or Dad...apparently didn't have too....it was a given this was ok...I guess cause they never said... school night or you'll catch a death of cold or none of that silly stuff. Off we went....Just down the road from the house at the bottom of the hill was the Paulinskill and the town Gristmill that just so happened to have the most fabulous Eel Weir I have ever seen or come to know... I've seen Many.
  2. 3 points

    Kids, family and fishing

    Did you take your kids fishing this year? My kids are all grown up with kids of their own now. And I think grandkids are the most fun because of course I can spoil them and send them back home. Really though, I absolutely love my kids and my grandkids, so much so that I take them fishing about as often as I can. This all started back when I was a kid and like many of you we went fishing with one or both of our parents or maybe a grandparent or other family member or even a friend. It doesn’t matter who we went with it just matters that we got to go fishing. I can still remember what I believe was my first fishing experience. It was at a little body of water in Oklahoma called Hula Lake. My mom and dad took us kids to the lake and while I don’t remember my brothers being there with me I do know they were there, and since they were older they were probably off fishing on their own. Anyway I was seated on the concrete dam dropping a worm and cork in the corner of two concrete walls. I pulled up fish after fish and I remember laughing out loud each time and the fact that I couldn’t wait to get my rig back in the water. There was a man there who, as my dad explained was going to set a trot line that day and he wanted all the perch I could catch for him. I was more than happy to oblige him, of course and never even gave a thought to his taking my fish. I remember knowing what a trot line was or at least knowing he was going to catch big fish with my little fish. I guess one of the advantages of growing up in a family of hunters and fishermen is that one receives an education in such things without knowing it. I suppose I learned most of the basics about life just listening to my folks talk with other people about what was going on in their lives. My dad owned a second hand furniture store in Bartlesville, Oklahoma called the Idle Article. I used to spend days there before I was old enough to go to school and during summer break when I was older. I always tried out the bicycles as soon as they hit the store and he took me with him sometimes to pick up a load of furniture he had bought. I don’t know how long he owned it but I do remember when a new street project was planned he sold out and went into business with his brother making horse trailers in Dewey, Oklahoma. Now that shop was a dangerous place for a little kid, what with all the cutting, grinding and moving machinery. I did get to go with him sometimes but it was usually on Saturday when only a few people were there. I remember my mom driving me by the old store on the new street, which was actually a much wider by-pass sort of thing and seeing the outside of the building and a concrete retaining wall just six or so feet from the front wall of the building. The parking lot in front was gone and without having it explained to me I knew just why dad didn’t have a business there anymore. That’s progress though and I’m sure it created more opportunities than it erased. That word progress is sure used a lot. We use it to describe the good things that go on and we use to define the failures of government also. Personally I like to use the word “progress” to describe my fishing prowess. I started out fishing by myself in a pond behind our house with my best friend Tony Parker. Please understand the words “by myself” mean without my dad or mom or brothers you know, the people who told us we couldn’t jump in the pond or off the back of the dam into the creek. This little pond was a perfect spot for a couple of kids to explore. We sought out bullfrogs and bass along with all the trotline bait we could catch although, we never baited a trotline. I also saw the absolute biggest snapping turtle I had ever seen. Thinking back now it was probably only sixteen or so inches across but that was one third of my height back then. When we got a little older, like maybe ten we began fishing the creek that ran by the park a little farther from the house. I later learned that creek was the Caney River or maybe the Little Caney. I still don’t know which but I’ll bet I could look it up on Google Maps real quick and find out… now that’s progress. My folks took us fishing in a number of places. I remember we camped for a week or so at Beaver Lake in Arkansas the year it opened for fishing. We were there with my Uncle Donnie and Aunt Joyce and my Grandpa “Pappy” and Grandma “Pansy”. This is the only memory I have of grandma Pansy as, sadly she died later that year. I believe we caught all the Sand bass out of Beaver lake year that trip and I’m sure my mom got tired of cold hot dogs in her sleeping bag but she didn’t complain. That was the year my dad tried to explain to me what blacktop was. Let’s see now, was it the whole road or just the black stripes we actually drove on that made up the blacktop. One can probably figure out the questions I had and the exasperation my dad must have felt as he patiently told me again what it was. I’m all grown up now with kids of my own and grandkids too, as I mentioned earlier and I can hear myself in the questions that all of them have asked over the past thirty years. Why is Deer poop so small when a Deer is so big? Why do Coyotes howl at night? Do Channel cats really talk to you when you unhook them? Will you take me fishing? Parents probably have no idea how many questions they answer over the lifetime of raising kids but it has to be in the bazillions. I seriously doubt if all those questions were ever answered but I didn’t mind, I just asked again. When kids ask you to take them fishing and you are tempted to put them off with being too tired or it’s too windy or cold or you’re too busy please remember that one day our kids will have memories randomly pop into their heads about their parents and what we did with them when we were little. I just hope my kids remember me taking them and not putting them off.
  3. 3 points

    Little Cops and Robbers

    We played cops and robbers the other day. My son set it up with his wife and included two of his three boys, ages four and two as the cops, (a two month old cop just wouldn’t work). The call came in about 1530 hours of an armed robbery of cookies at Sissy’s house. We arrived at the scene with the boys dressed in their kaki’s and polo’s sporting badges and notepads. The victim was interviewed and foam dart bullets were seized as evidence. A description of the perps was taken down and footprints were photographed. The victim managed to photograph the getaway car and license plate, which was a real bonus. After they processed and cleared the scene the boy cops were on the hunt strapped in their car seats in Grandmas van. Detective R.J. told us the victim said she heard the robbers say they were headed for a pink building in the woods so we looked around town for some place that fit the description. We settled on the Arboretum where we soon spotted the somewhat pink building. The detective boys asked a couple of girls playing Frisbee golf if they had seen any suspicious characters. They looked them up and down and smiled at their SWAT vests, helmets and toy guns and said “I think they went that way”. We located and approached the suspect vehicle and confirmed the tag with the notes Detective R.J had written in his notebook and then spotted the bad guys eating cookies in a shelter house surrounded by woods. The scene was surveyed and an approach plan was hatched. Detective Ivan and I quickly put a tree between us and the bandits and began our stalk while Detective R.J. and Grandma skirted around to the side. One of the bandits spotted us and shouted “It’s the Cops” and headed for the hills, right into the waiting arms of Detective R.J., who ordered him to his knees and slapped the plastic cuffs on him saying “You’re under arrest Daddy”. In the meantime Detective Ivan swooped in and secured the other bandit with “Stop right there Mommy”. The bandits were escorted to the patrol vehicle and transported to jail, Grandma’s spare bedroom closet, while the Detectives munched on evidence. The culprits were soon afforded bond and released from jail to the waiting arms of their little Detectives, who immediately wanted to do it all over again.
  4. 3 points

    Personal Writing

    Every once in a while I attempt to finish a writing to a publisher standards. What follows is one of those attempts. Growing Up The year I was five, my mother and father started looking for a new house. Danni was three; Amanda was one. The place we lived wasn’t large enough. I remember riding around with them as they looked. One place we looked was a corn field just off South Lewis. It was over a mile outside the Tulsa city limits. The next summer mother and father moved us to a new house on the new street in that corn field. We were not the first family in the addition; we were the second. Several other houses were under construction. The new addition was popular. Lewis was, and still is, a major North-South street in Tulsa. For my first birthday in the new house, I got my first bike. Father spent the time needed to teach me to ride, and then the parents set the rules. I could go anywhere on the bike, provided I did not cross Lewis, 51st or 61st Streets. Joe Creek diagonally cut the section of land within those limits and made the fourth boundary. I was expected to behave and to be back for dinner time. Their rules left me nearly 320 acres to explore and terrorize. About half, mostly to the North, was housing. To the South the land was more rural with two farmhouses, barns, sheds, and fields. Along the creek, scrub oak, grapevine, and underbrush formed a forest. This became my world. Their boundaries were really not a limit I felt. Jeff Cope and I built forts, caught snakes, and did boy things. The scar on his forehead marked the time I jumped from a ledge to catch a branch. The branch broke and smacked him square in the face. As time passed, I became obsessed with fishing the creek. I charted the numbers of perch and catfish I caught. As I grew older, the cornfields began to disappear. New houses popped up in their place. To fish unspoiled creek, I had to go farther each year. Eventually, I had to go under the bridges where Joe Creek crossed Lewis and 61st Street. Each bridge had a path along which I could walk or push the bike. I do not remember how it happened, but, eventually, my parents found out I was fishing on the wrong side of Lewis. My father had an incredible temper. It didn’t come out often, but it was scary beyond belief. I explained that I had not broken the rules. I never crossed Lewis or 61st; I went under them. My mother laughed, but that only made Father madder yet. That was not a good evening. Not long after that, my parents sat me down and set new rules for me. I was allowed beyond both 61st to the South and Lewis to the West. However, I had to check with one of them before I went; if I was on my bike, I had to walk it across; no aimless wandering; and all of the other rules about behaving applied double. My new kingdom seemed boundless again. I was grown up. From my old home, Joe Creek meanders South and East for six miles before it enters the Arkansas River. I fished every hole in the river. My parents understood. When Tommy Meason got knocked down on Lewis by a car, I was afraid they would change the rules. He was a kid who lived two houses up the street from us. He wasn’t with me when he got hit, but I was sure it would make Mother uneasy. That night mother and father talked about it at the dinner table. When Father asked how Tommy was, mother told him he would be fine: “Betty said he’s just like his father, and he landed on his head so he wasn’t hurt.” From then on, when I checked with mother before I left, she would tell me, “Be careful crossing Lewis.” She expected an answer, too. After I turned 16, I passed my driver’s test and got my license. I did not have a car and when I drove I used my mother’s Rambler American station wagon. It was clearly the slowest and ugliest car driven by anyone I knew. However, it was better than nothing as it moved the boundaries farther still. I was grown. The new rules: I had to ask permission and the parents had to know where I was going and why. Each time as she handed me the keys, she continued her habit from before and warned me of Lewis. Mother and father insisted they drive me to college for my first year. Once we unloaded and unpacked, father was impatient to be on the road. On the other hand, mother had a prepared speech she needed to give. Father waited while she lectured, “Write. Study. Don’t drink too much. Be careful crossing Lewis.” Sometime after I was at school, mother and I began to talk by phone late at night after father went to bed. We covered many topics and little was out of bounds. My two favorite dirty jokes of all time are ones she told me during talks. I didn’t realize it at the time, but somewhere I really had grown up. During the fall break of my senior year, I took Nancy home with me. Mother and I had a late nighter during that visit and she eventually asked about Nancy. I talked about this, about that, and about how I admired Nancy. Mother always read me better than I read myself. At the end of the talk about Nancy, she concluded with an enigmatic, “Well, be careful crossing Lewis.” After graduate school, Nancy and I moved back to Tulsa. We went to work; we had children; we went about living, all at that impossible pace only young people can maintain. Every month or two mother and I would stay up late and talk. Some times those talks became a way for me to talk about frustrations and worries, or ask advice. My mother offered advice whether I asked or not, often from the “Get over it” school of tough love. Sometimes she made constructive suggestions. From time to time a gleam would come to her eye and she would use her phrase. When mother got the cancer, it seemed like she was confined to bed and on heavy drugs the next week. I will always admire the unflinching, honest way she faced her own death, but near the end we never knew if we were talking to her or the drugs. Sister Danni came up from Houston and stayed at the house. Every day I visited father in his nursing home and mother at home. I cannot fathom how Danni endured. On my last visit before the night she died, mother didn’t say anything. I sat for a while, musing. When I rose to leave, she tried to say something. I could not hear her. I bent down and she tried again, “Be careful crossing Lewis.” I told her I would and left. It was sometime later that I finally figured out, given the circumstances, the answer I should have given was, “You, too, mom.”
  5. 2 points

    The Funeral

    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.
  6. 1 point

    Wormin For Walleye - Part 1

    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 The Catch 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. The Bait 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. Harness Blades 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: Blade Type Description Comments Normal Size Smile Easiest to spin; an offset propeller; relies on flash/ color Clear waters Medium and Large Willow Easy to spin; mostly flash Imitates shad well #4 and 5 Dakota Easy to spin; resembles either a double willow or a cutout Indiana Often painted Medium and Large Indiana A cross between a willow and a Colorado Combines thump and flash # 3, 4, and maybe 5 Colorado Requires more speed to spin but thumps Great for stained or muddy water # 3 and 4 Colors 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) How 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. Results 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.
  7. 1 point

    I almost went Bull Riding once

    Back in the day as a Sheriff's Department Detective one of my jobs was as a sniper. Now don't go getting excited, It never really amounted to much, thankfully. I spent a lot of time punching holes in paper and was called to a few situations which resulted in deployment and then peaceful surrender. The most noteworthy call came one hot summer day from the local stockyards. The owner called the Sheriff's office to ask for a sharp shooter to cull a Black Angus bull that had gotten loose and was causing considerable trouble. I happened to be close by and took the call. I soon found myself among some cowboys on horseback on the North edge of town. The story, as told to me went something like this. A very large and cantankerous Angus bull of about a thousand pounds had gotten loose from the stockyards and, after wooling a couple of cowboys and charging a horse or two had left the compound and headed southeast toward town. The last report had him wandering the brush in a creek bottom with some cowboys in pursuit. I enlisted the aid of a local PD officer whom I trusted and asked him to bring along his shotgun loaded with slugs as backup. I uncased my trusty Ruger M77.308 complete with a Leupold 4-12 x 50 Vari x 3 scope and recoil arrester. I loaded up five Winchester Silvertip 165 grain boat tail rounds in the magazine and closed the bolt. It was time to go hunting. We entered the brush, which was a forty or so acre creek bottom and very low flood plain area, undeveloped and unused. Visions of Capstick stalking African big game danced in my head as I moved forward at a slow pace, my trusty gun bearer trailing. Now having never hunted anything larger than a Whitetail Deer and certainly nothing intent on doing me great bodily harm I couldn't help but recall the tails of the aforementioned Peter Hathaway Capstick. Capstick was a professional hunter in Zimbabwe back in the sixties and always recounted his adventures with precise detail. Usually with much flare and humor. He also told of the damage an angry Bovine could inflict on the human form if he so desired. Now this was no Cape Buffalo we were hunting but I was not going to take any chances, I mean, after all how romantic would the story be of a cop being stomped by a cow up by Wal-Mart. Never the less I employed what stalking skills I had and finally located our quarry. He stood at the edge of the creek breathing hard with his butt to the high bank. There were three cowboys sitting atop their horses a considerable distance west while we stalked in from the north. I whispered to Jon that I could see him and pointed him out. The brush was quite thick and it did take a bit of looking to make him out, but once we saw the whole of him he couldn't be missed. The bull was standing his ground looking back and forth at us and the cowboys. I maneuvered to my left for a better shot and closed the distance to about thirty yards. This bull was actually pawing the ground and blowing snot with each breath. To say that he was somewhat perturbed would be an understatement. He continued watching us until we stopped, then one of the horses made that noise that horses make for which there is no real literary term, especially when it startles the bejeebers out of you. This was the break I was looking for. I took careful aim and settled the crosshairs on his massive neck, trying to calculate the distance between the bullet's path and the crosshairs in my scope so as not to muff it and BOOM. The rifle had no kick and I saw the animal drop like a bag of hammers. A cowboy whooped and shouted good shot, while another replied "Well it was only thirty yards". Reality bites, and at the right time too. We approached the bull while the cowboys stayed where they were. I should have wondered why they did this but... I poked the bull with my gun barrel and determined he was dead. I then pulled a rookie mistake and sat atop the behemoth with his left foreleg sticking out from between my knees, sticking straight out between my knees mind you. With my rifle, fortunately in my left hand I smiled at Jon who smiled back and to this day I wonder if he saw it coming. The old bull was hit through the neck and momentarily paralyzed. As I perched atop his mass of black hide and muscles he suddenly came to life and snorted a breath and kicked his two left legs, which if you will remember were sticking straight out and one of them between my knees. For a second I thought I was a goner but then my training kicked in and suddenly my .40 caliber Smith and Wesson was in my right hand and headed for the base of his brain. I don't know if it made contact before it went off or not but it did its job well and the beast went limp. Suddenly I realized I was about ten feet away and looking at the bull from a different angle than before. The owner, standing up the hill on the road shouted at us asking what was going on. In true Capstick fashion I replied, "just paying the insurance".
  8. 1 point

    I Like To Think While I Fish

    This evening I had the chance to head to the creek. It is spring, despite what the weather seems to say about it and that means White Bass. (Sand Bass for those with an accent). I arrived about two hours before dark thinking this water is too much like chocolate milk to catch fish, but fish have to eat so I stayed. I managed to catch about fifteen Whites before it got dark and, I had a good time doing it. The real fun was in my head of course, remembering the times I brought my dad there and all the fish we caught together. I also thought about the times mom fried fish and Morels for lunch or made her delicious catfish gumbo for supper. I heard a deer snort behind me. I knew what that was because my dad taught me to recognize the sound and imitate it myself. He could call crows with his voice, you know. A beaver slapped the water in front of me and I remembered the time late at night, us fishing the strip mine pits and I heard that noise for the first time and my dad had to show me what it was… and reassure me it wouldn’t get me. There were Ducks on the creek tonight and Geese honking around the bend. Then about dark the owls began their chorus of “Who cooks for youuuuu” and that evil laugh they make. My boys used to listen with young wide eyes to the owls when we entered the woods before daylight on a deer hunt. I guess it sounds like a Sasquatch when one is ten years old…or fifty-three. When I walked out of the woods tonight I thanked God for my family who taught me to pray, took me fishing and went fishing with me, taught me to survive in the woods, build a fire and eat something I found on the ground. You know… the important things in life.
  9. 1 point

    Looking Ahead

    LOOKING AHEAD 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
  10. 1 point

    My Dad's Old Deer Gun.

    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.
  11. 1 point

    Weekend Angler

    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
  12. 1 point

    My Bas University Experience

    I have had a week to reflect on my Bass University experience in Shreveport, La. During that time, I have had a lot of folks ask me, "was it worth the trip". I usually start my answer the same way. It was worth it for me. Not because of any ah ha moment. If I was new to tournament angling, I am sure there would have been some. During the two days of seminars, I didn’t find a magic lure, a new presentation, or some closely held secrete technique that will catapult me to the next level of tournament fishing. But that wasn’t my purpose for attending. What occured last weekend fueled my passion. After the Shreveport trip, I am more dedicated to pursuing my dreams; but The Bass University was no Anthony Robbins “Date with Destiny” motivational seminar. So, what was it all about? Why did I decide to attend? What was my Bass University experience? I hope to answer all of these questions. What was it all about? Bass University has a lineage back to Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS), but the latest edition comes to us from Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek. They call The Bass University, the institution for advanced anglers. It was two days of seminars that consisted of twelve separate blocks focused on proven tournament angling tactics and techniques. The seminars were delivered by six of the world’s best professional bass anglers. Even if you think you already know everything you need to know about topwater, cranking, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics, the breakout sessions and “the daily weigh-in” may have held a surprise for you. The breakout sessions allowed us to go one on one with the pros, digging into their tackle box and into their years of knowledge of tournament fishing at the highest levels. The pros were frank and honest with no questions off limits. “The daily weigh in” was another special treat. No matter what was on the seminar schedule, “the daily weigh in” brought the pros back in for a discussion on the topic of the attendees choosing. So back to the question, was it worth it? The answer was simple for me. What is having any and all your bass fishing questions answered buy some of the world’s best professional anglers worth? My answer is priceless. Why did I decide to attend? I approach tournament bass fishing with a passion fueled by the competition with the hope of making it a future career. Just like in all life’s endeavors education is the key. Not just primary and secondary education, but I believe in the culture of lifelong learning. Even though, I have taught numerous fishing seminars over the years and have been relatively successful competing against some of the best local and regional tournament anglers. I still have the desire to learn and grow. For me, reading articles on new tackle and equipment is not enough. Spending hours on the internet doing tournament research is not enough. Learning from my peers and competitors is not enough. Spending every available minute on the water still doesn’t fulfill my desire to learn everything about the sport. For me, The Bass University was the next logical option. What was my Bass University experience? It was a reaffirmation, a rededication of sorts. It was two days with like minded people digging into the insights of six of the world’s best professional anglers. Did I walk away with something completely new? No. But, do I have new insights? Absolutely. The insights into details that will no doubt help me make better and faster decisions in the pursuit of becoming a better angler. I left Shreveport with a renewed confidence and a deeper conviction about my bass fishing knowledge and abilities. My experience was a reaffirmation on why the details mean so much and directly lead to success or failure on the water. I left with a rededication to the work ethic that it will take to reach my goals. Mike Iaconelli said, “No bites are accidental” and that resonated with me. The work that remains ahead is figuring out the why of each and every strike. I know that this experience hasn’t propelled my abilities to some new cosmic level. However, my Bass University experience has left me with an endless yearning to improve my abilities and a renewed dedication to achieve in the sport I love. In closing, if you ask me do I think you should attend one of the Bass University events next year? I would say, it depends on what you want out of the experience. If you want to find some hidden secret to catch fish, don’t waste your time. If you want to become a better angler, then don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime. But you will need to answer that question for yourself. To read more of Larry’s Blogs go to http://larrystoafer.com/
  13. 1 point

    X-rap Shad

    It won’t be a shock to anyone who reads my articles that I'm a big fan of Rapala lures, I've used the plain minnow for bass and trout for as long as I've fished. I remember reading an In-Fisherman article in the early 90's about people in the Ozarks doctoring up their Rapala minnows with weight to get them to suspend, and catching winter bass like dynamite on these customized lures. I doctored a few, and it worked just as they said. When Rapala came out with the Husky Jerk, I was a happy camper. They usually suspend right out of the box, and bass eat them right up. Trout, especially big browns, do too. The Shad Rap and I go back almost as far, and I have used the smallest shallow Shap Rap as a go-to bait for trout for years. Here you see the whole Rapala family that lead to the X-Rap Shad, at bottom. It starts with the Husky Jerk and Long Cast minnow, which gets you the X-Rap. Cross with the Shad Rap RS, and there it is. The only problem with these lures is that they are light, the Husky Jerk is plastic, the original Minnow and Shad Rap are balsa. The bigger Husky Jerks cast O.K., but the balsa lures are frustrating in the wind, even with fairly light spinning tackle. Rapala answered the problem with the Long Cast Minnow. A patented weight transfer system inside the lure consisting of a metal ball that rolls inside a track allows long casts, but normal action when the lures is retrieved as the ball locks in place until it is cast again. These lures must be a pain to construct out of balsa, and they don't seem to be selling well for freshwater anglers, which is a shame. The smaller size is my favorite Brown Trout lure when fish are aggressive, and has scored my two biggest at TaneyComo. The larger size is a great warm water bass jerkbait. I guess most bass anglers don't use floating jerkbaits enough, or maybe don't know about this one. Whichever, it is available only in the saltwater line as I write this. Here you see the Long Cast Minnow in two sizes. A great overlooked bait. The weight transfer system was a great idea, and too good to stay only in one lure. Rapalas answer to high priced suspending jerkbaits, the X-Rap, was an instant success. It is plastic, but borrows the diving bill placement (further forward) and long cast weight system from the balsa Long Cast Minnow. The first one I tried caught a bass on one of the first few casts. A good omen indeed. Now the X-Rap is available in different sizes, deep water long billed versions, saltwater, etc. But the Shad Rap kind of stayed where it was at. The plastic Shap Rap RS (Rattling, Suspending) was a mild success, but even made out of plastic still was hard to cast. The Husky Jerk(Left) and Long Cast Minnow(Right), which combined make the X-Rap(Bottom). Now the Rapala family tree brings the long casting, suspending nature of the X-Rap to the shad family with the X-Rap Shad. It even has the same color-coordinated "dressed" rear treble hook like the X-Rap. X-Rap Shads in Silver/Black and Purpledescent. I had tried to doctor some lures up to be more of a suspending shad imitation, but nothing worked quite right. The "Swimmin' Image" Shad weighted to suspend. I had tried the Shad Rap RS, but again it didn't cast well in wind, so it was out, except for a trolling bait. I think the new version of the Shad Rap will prove to be a great success both as a standard crankbait, and as a stop and suspending bait for coldwater bass. The new X-Rap Shad has the same deadly nose down then slowly right itself on the pause action that the original X-Rap does, and can be twitched like it's jerkbait kin to good effect. It retains the tight action of its Shad Rap forefather on a straight retrieve, although it's bill is slightly different than either the Shad Rap or Shad Rap RS. Diving bill shapes are slightly different for all three shads: Shap Rap RS (Left) X-Rap Shad (Center) Shap Rap (Right) Rapala has demonstrations on their webpage showing the swimming action of all their lures. http://www.rapala.com/products/luresdetail...eshorsalt=Fresh The new bait comes in 5/16 and 1/2 ounce sizes, the smaller version running 8 to 10 feet (depending on line diameter), perfect for cold water or finesse type situations, and the larger size is going to go deeper, sure to compete with some of the much more expensive deep diving lures for summer structure cranking. I really like the colors on the new lures, one of the colors that I like is the "Purpledescent." Sort of a purple back that fades into faint chartreuse sides, with a pearl white belly. I need a regular X-Rap in this color, and now am on a campaign to email Rapala every time I think about it until they get one out there. It really looks good in the water, and I decided to use this color of X-Rap Shad in the smaller 5/16 size to try out. I don't think it will ever replace the standard jerkbait, but in a few situations, I think this lure will stand out. Anytime you want to get down quickly to 8-10 feet, then let the lure sit, like around isolated tree, this lure gets the call. Most of the time I just cast a standard jerkbait past the cover and retrieve it back, but when fishing this past weekend I found a perfect spot for the lure. A large tree down on a bluff, the only cover on this stretch of bluff for 50 yards, and no way to cast beyond it to work a regular jerkbait down very deep. I cast the lure tight to the bluff, just slightly past the tree, reeled down a few cranks and twitched the bait, followed by a long pause. Twitch a couple of more times, followed by a faint "tick" on the line, which was this nice red-eyed Spotted Bass. I think anytime you want a more subtle crank (which is almost every time you fish Table Rock) the new lure will work great as well. Oh, and for colors, Rapala really needs to get a crawfish color going on with the new lure, too. Are you hearing me, Rapala guys? Oh, it retails under 7 bucks, too. My only dig at this lure is the way the line attachment fits in the bill. The Shad Rap RS had the same problem, and that I like to take the split rings off my lures and use a snap. A standard small snap is really hard to get onto the lure, although you could just leave the split ring on and clip to that. The Norman Speed clip that is popular around the Ozarks isn't a problem at all to get on there, so really it's just my pet peeve. Really only the lack of a crawfish color and the snap thing stop me from giving it a 10. So solid 9 out of 10 for the new X-Rap Shad.
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