Fished Germany Creek

On Saturday I fished in Germany Creek where my boat club is located. I sent several hours idling around playing with electronics, working with my Lowrance Carbon side and down scan that I finally got working right. It showed me rocks, brush and stumps on places I have fished for years but did not know were there.

I caught three keepers, one on a crankbait and two on a Carolina Rig. The sunny day had a good many fishermen on the water and some pleasure boaters, too. Clarks Hill is well stocked with stripers and hybrids and that is what most were trying to catch, but there was at least one tournament, too.

Monday was the kind of day I love this time of year. It was cloudy and a little foggy, so everything was muted and quiet. I saw three other boats all day, one of them a group of deer hunters riding to their stands near the lake. It was very peaceful.

Back in the 1970s and 80s I always stayed at the lake Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, fishing every day. One year I went to my place Christmas afternoon after dinner with my parents and Linda at their house in Dearing. For the next five days I fished every day and never saw another person.

I love it. The only reason I saw someone on the sixth day was I had to go into town and get gas for the boat. The lake is a bit more crowded now, but not too bad.

Again on Monday I spent most of my time on the water studying electronics, marking cover and structure I want to fish later. Some of it I knew about. Some of the brush I marked I put out back in the 1970s. Those cedar trees that stay underwater last a long time, and still hold fish.

I again caught three bass, all on a jig and pig off one ditch. It is similar to places Joshua and I fished on the other side of the lake. Bass like sharp drops this time of year and we used to camp at this place and called it the cliffs, since the ditch runs back and had banks that dropped straight down into the water about ten feet below. Those drops continue underwater, too.

Salt Effects On Stream Health

Road Salt Effects On Stream Health
By Scott Maxham, Izaak Walton League
from The Fishing Wire

Salting roads affects streams


As the days shorten and get colder, our thoughts shift from outdoor activities to spending time indoors with friends and family. When it’s time to snuggle up by the fire, many of us might think it’s also time to put stream monitoring and the Clean Water Challenge on hold until spring. But there is still work to be done, even when the temperature drops.

Although we typically suggest biological stream monitoring (finding macroinvertebrates) in the fall and spring, we should not forget about water quality during the summer and winter months. Each season presents specific threats to stream health. In winter, road salt can cause serious damage to water quality. That’s why the League created the Winter Salt Watch campaign – to help volunteers like you measure salt (sodium chloride) levels in local streams and alert local agencies when they spot a problem.

How exactly does road salt work – and how did we get to using up to 20 million tons of it every year?

Road Salt: A Brief History

Road salt was first used in New Hampshire in 1941 – and its use quickly snowballed. As automobile accidents decreased in New Hampshire, other snow-covered states took notice and began using road salt. In the 1950s, the U.S. highway system began a rapid expansion, and the increased mileage of roadways required even more road salt. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Americans began to realize the harmful effects of road salt on nearby lands and waters. Cities began to be more mindful of salt usage, but ultimately we were hooked and there was no easy alternative. Over the past two decades, some cities have looked into using salt alternatives, but other de-icers have failed to gain traction due to cost concerns.

Today, we use 10 to 20 million tons of road salt every year, depending on the length and severity of winter weather. The majority of the road salt we use comes from salt mines across the country (the same salt that is ground up for use on your dinner table). It is difficult to know when these salt supplies will run out, but it is certainly much cheaper to use domestic salt – on both our roads and our tables – than to import it from other major salt producers such as China.

The Science of Salt

Salt has the ability to both raise the boiling point of water and lower its freezing point. Fresh water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Salt water will resist freezing to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. However, road salt does not start working until it has dissolved into a liquid, so new technologies include applying a salt solution or pre-wetted salt to allow it to start working immediately.

Other elements, such as calcium chloride, can drop the freezing point of water much lower than 15 degrees. However, they are typically not used on roadways because they cost twice as much as rock salt.

Salting Local Streams

When road salt is used to melt ice, it eventually runs off into the soil near the road. When winter is over, spring rains flush this salt into our streams, rivers, and lakes. This is a slow process. Even if we quit using road salt today, the salt already in the ground can persist for decades, and the salt content in our streams will rise as salt continues to percolate through the soil.

I frequently used chloride test strips with children during Creek Freaks stream monitoring events. After the kids figured out that chloride gets in the water through salt (sodium chloride), they sometimes asked if that is normal or if the fish can just live with salty water like they do in the ocean. Unfortunately, most freshwater fish cannot adapt to salt in the water. Salt can also be harmful to the aquatic macroinvertebrates that we look for during stream monitoring – these freshwater bugs can only tolerate so much salt before the stream becomes uninhabitable.

The Cost to You

We all know that fast food and convenience munchies are often laden with salt. But did you know that we use more than 10 times the amount of salt on our roads than is used in all American food processing each year? Doctors have become increasingly concerned that as road salt infiltrates our drinking water supplies, it can cause problems for people with high blood pressure because water treatment plants cannot remove all the extra sodium.

Road salt can hurt your wallet too. Rust damage due to road salt can shorten the life of your car (and drop the resale value). Road salt and its application cost the U.S. some $2.3 billion a year – much of that paid through your tax dollars! One study in Ohio found that the state uses 176 pounds of road salt per person each year.

Traveling safely is important to us all. However, we need to ensure efforts to keep our roads safe do not destroy water quality in the process.

It’s easy to check how much salt is in your local stream using chloride test strips, which provide an instant reading – and you can get a FREE chloride test kit from the Izaak Walton League! Sign up for your free kit and start collecting data now to get a long-term look at chloride levels and the health of your local streams.

Fish Are Biting On the Alabama River and Clarks Hill

Based on a couple of trips in November, fish are biting on the Alabama River and Clarks Hill. Based on time of year and weather, they are probably biting everywhere in-between too.

I met Peyton McCord and Cole Burdeshaw, two Auburn fishing team members, last Tuesday at Cooters Landing on the river just outside Montgomery to get information for my Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month article. They won a team trail tournament there the end of September with ten bass weighing just under 30 pounds. They fish the river a lot, know it well, and are very good bass fishermen.

The River, as it is called locally, runs from the Lake Jordan dams near Wetumpka north of Montgomery for 80 miles to its lock and dam. It is not well known since it does not get the publicity of other nearby lakes. But it is a fantastic fishery.

Coosa spotted bass grow big and fight hard, and the River is full of them. It also has a good population of largemouth. They live in different places, with spots mostly on the main river channel and largemouth back in creeks and coves. Spots love current and live near it.

I stayed in Prattville at a Baymont Inn only 10 minutes from the ramp. Although we fished for only a few hours, we caught some nice spots in the 2.5 to three-pound range. Winter is a great time to fish it since spots are more active in colder water.

Peyton and Cole caught their fish in September on topwater baits, but that bite is about over since the water is cooler. They switch to jerk baits, crankbaits and a jig and pig for winter fishing.

It would be a fun winter trip to the River. There are good places to stay and eat nearby. And the bluff banks and points are easy structure to find and fish when you get on the water.

Last Friday I went to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill and fished for three days. On Sunday I met Joshua Rockefeller to get information for my Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month article. Joshua is a student at Augusta College and on the fishing team. He grew up in nearby Harlem, only four miles from where I grew up in Dearing.

We put in at Soap Creek on the Savannah River side of the lake. My place is on the Georgia Little River, only 25 miles away by road but almost 60 miles by water. Clarks Hill is a big lake and I know little about that side of it since I have not fished it much.

The pattern Joshua showed me is fishing ditches, creek and ditch channels back in creeks. Bass move back in them as the water gets colder and he told me about the numbers and big fish he had caught out of them in the past few years.

The water was 65 degrees, about the same as it was on the Alabama River. We caught a lot of small keeper largemouth and a few small spots, but the bigger fish have not moved back yet. They will as soon as the water gets down to around 60 degrees.

Joshua fishes jigs, crankbaits and a sled, a jig head with a flat head that makes it stand up and raise the trailer to mimic baitfish feeding on the bottom. I caught several keepers on a Carolina Rig and shaky head, but he landed about twice as many as I did.

Success on the Ice

Measuring Angler Success on the Ice

Ice fishing success


By Ron Wilson, North Dakota GFD
from The Fishing Wire

Erica Sevigny has heard her share of fishing stories this winter.

As a winter creel clerk for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department on Lake Audubon, Sevigny knocks on ice house doors to ask ice anglers a few simple questions about their fishing trip.

“I haven’t run into anyone who wouldn’t answer my questions,” said Sevigny, a North Dakota State University graduate who has worked with the Department’s wildlife division in summers past. “Some of them, especially if they catch a fish when I’m there, don’t want me to leave because they think I’m good luck.”

As luck would have it, at least for those anglers who consider Sevigny a lucky charm, Game and Fish will continue its winter creel survey on the popular fishery in central North Dakota until the end of March, or whenever anglers can no longer venture onto the ice safely to fish.

The Game and Fish Department conducts a creel survey in summer and winter on Lake Audubon every three years. During the open water months, creel clerks interview anglers at the boat ramps as they are leaving after a day of fishing.

When the lake is iced-over, creel clerks take a different approach.

“In winter, the creel clerks travel out on the ice to talk to anglers because there are just so many places to fish on the lake, including Lake Audubon refuge, which is closed to open water fishing,” said Jason Lee, Department district fisheries supervisor in Riverdale. “They’ll work a certain area on a certain day, or a couple areas on a certain day. What they’re trying to get is complete trip information, rather than just interviewing someone who has been fishing for 15 minutes or a half-hour.”

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, said there are three components – fish, habitat and anglers – to a North Dakota fishery, Lake Audubon included.

“As anglers are one of the main components of a fisheries management plan, we on occasion want to sample these people to gather information on fishing pressure, the number of fish caught, released and total harvest,” Gangl said. “Creel surveys are another monitoring tool that allows us to gather information that helps in the management of a fishery.”

The angler interviews are short, simple and to the point. Sevigny asks anglers what species they are primarily fishing for, how long they’ve been fishing, zip code and what they’ve caught.

“If those anglers interviewed have fish that they’ve caught, the creel clerks ask if they can measure them, which is information that we’ll compile at the end of the year,” Lee said. “This information tells us, for example, the biggest fish they catch and keep, or the smallest fish they catch and keep.

“During the open water creel survey on Audubon, for example, we learned that 88 percent of the northern pike and smallmouth bass caught were released,” Lee added. “And with walleye, 50 percent were released, I suspect because they were smaller fish they didn’t want to keep. This kind of information is interesting to fisheries biologists managing the fishery.”

With the promise of several more weeks of winter and little idea how things will unfold weatherwise, Lee said Mother Nature has so far made it easy for anglers and creel clerks to access Lake Audubon.

“The more interviews the creel clerks can conduct, the better our catch-rate information,” Lee said. “We try to randomize to some degree when we’re out checking on anglers to get a look at the entire fishing day, rather than just focusing on the sundown walleye bite.”

Anglers, no matter the time of day their ice fishing outing started, are also asked to rank the quality of their trip.

“This gives us an overall idea of how well they’re enjoying their fishing experience,” Lee said. “Without their help in the creel survey, we wouldn’t have any of this valuable information. In general, anglers have been great about taking a few minutes out of their trip, or at the end of their trip, to talk to creel clerks about what they caught, their experiences and if they harvested any fish.”

While North Dakota’s more popular waters, such as the Missouri River System, Lake Audubon and Devils Lake, are surveyed routinely, but not every year, Gangl said the Game and Fish Department will survey other smaller waters when questions need to be answered.

In 2015, for example, a winter creel survey was initiated in the south central part of the state to learn, among other things, who was fishing, where they were from, and what they were catching.

Instead of a lake specific survey, the survey was based in a region where biologists could travel from lake to lake, depending on where the hot bite was happening, to interview anglers.

At the time of the survey, Gangl said: “What we’re after is the size, catch rates, species and the quality of the fishing experience. Are anglers keeping medium-sized fish, small fish, only big fish, and what is their preference?”

No matter the location of the creel survey, or time of year, Gangl said the opportunity to simply talk with anglers, to put a face with the agency managing the fisheries, is important.

“A big benefit is that we, as an agency, get to interact with the angling population on things other than biology,” he said. “We learn how far anglers are traveling to fish certain waters and we get to gauge their satisfaction. We don’t have a lot of control over what makes people happy, but they are generally happy when they are catching fish.”

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew

When I first found this recipe for Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew it did not sound good. But since I had a bumper crop of yellow squash from the garden, lots of bell peppers that year, and a good supply of ground venison in the freezer, I tried it, and love it.

I have been making it for years and have adjusted my recipe Try it, you should like it! Its easy and quick.

I usually start in skillet then remember to put it in a pot for easier stirring.

Ingredients

4 or 5 yellow squash
large bell pepper
two 14.5 weight chopped tomatoes with chili peppers
a pound or so ground meat
bacon drippings
Tablespoon salt
half teaspoon black pepper

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew ingredients


Brown ground meat in bacon drippings. Add sliced squash, chopped bell peppers, cans of tomatoes, salt and pepper.
simmer for 45 minutes.

Tips for Mid-Season Ice Fishing

Four Tips for Mid-Season Ice Fishing Success
from The Fishing Wire

Changes in strategy can put more fish on the ice during the mid-winter blues.

MADISON, WI – After the rush to punch holes during first-ice, hot bites tend to cool off. Many ice anglers are left scratching their heads. Some call it the mid-season blues and leave it at that, but there are a number of tactics that can help adaptive anglers ice more fish, despite changes in fish behavior. All it usually requires is a change in approach.

Here are a number of tactics culled from anglers who spend countless hours on mid-season ice and consistently prove the period can be just as productive as first- or late-ice.

Big Walleye through the ice


Photo courtesy of St. Croix Rod

WALLEYES & PERCH—UNCONNECTED, OFFSHORE STRUCTURE

For walleyes and perch, look for offshore, unconnected structure from the shoreline—humps, reefs, crowns, etc. Bigger, more dramatic structures are usually better because they exhibit more nuances and, therefore, tend to hold more fish. That said, smaller isolated structures—tiny humps or rock piles—will still often hold fish, just not as many, so don’t overlook them. Ideally, find larger, offshore structure that’s adjacent to a flat, not a super-hard no-man’s-land break. Such flats provide a cruising area for fish and a comfortable approach to the structure. Look for depths in the 30s or 40s that shift into the 20s at the structure, keeping in mind that the deeper the tops of the structure, the longer the bites will last. Also, you want a larger structure crown—ideally, a big, flat crown with some mixed habitat perhaps including rock on one side, a slow taper on one side, and another side with a hard break. This means you can maximize your time by investigating a lot of different situations on one piece of structure.

From a mapping perspective, a mobile app like Fishidy is indispensable, which features mapping layers, contour lines, structure/vegetation, and Fishing Hot Spots. This can help you eliminate 90% of unproductive water from the get-go, saving time and energy. Then, once structure is located with the app, run the perimeter of that structure with your ATV, snowmobile, or vehicle to get a better picture of that structure’s area and pre-drill all your holes before ever dropping a line. It could be six holes or it could be 30, but you want to make sure you hit the entire piece of structure. If there’s fresh snow, all you need to do is follow your tracks around the structure as you fish or use your Fishidy app. And remember to drill three holes in each location—one on top of the structure, one on the break, and one off the break in deeper water. If someone gets on a bite, be prepared to drill a second sequence of holes in that spot, so keep your auger close while fishing.

WALLEYES—FIND GREEN WEEDS

Walleyes aren’t always out roaming the flats and reefs chasing shiners; a lot of times they’re in the weed beds snatching up young of the year bluegills and crappies. Savvy anglers know that not all weed beds die off in the winter, particularly coontail and some cabbage. Finding green weeds can be more challenging during the mid-season, but can still be accomplished with the help of hi-tech mapping and sonar, a tool like the Fishidy app, or the use of an Aqua-Vu underwater camera.

Once green, standing weeds are located, catching walleyes typically becomes a matter of working the holes and corners of the bed.

This is where tip-ups come into play, because you might be really stretched out. You may find a hole in the weed bed that’s 300 feet away from where you’re jigging. That said, green weed beds can be a great place for family fishing. Use lots of tip-ups and jig sticks to cover the most area possible, and a family or group can enjoys some banner mid-season days on the ice!

In summary, the magnetism of weeds doesn’t change throughout the winter. If anything, the remaining green weeds become super congregating areas for fish during mid-season, holding more fish in less area.

MID-SEASON LARGEMOUTH BASS

Don’t overlook the fun that largemouth bass can present during mid-season. A good place to find them is on the giant, shallow-to-mid-depth flats in bays or the mouths of bays adjacent to spring spawning areas. Green weeds are not a prerequisite in these areas, but if you find them, it’s game on. Contrary to what many believe, bass feed continuously throughout the winter and are not turned off at all. In terms of presentation, it’s tough to beat live bait on tip-ups in this application, like a shiner or sucker. Also consider hobbling the bait by cutting a fin or gills so the bass don’t have to chase it. Bass will also readily hit jigging spoons and even small jigs tipped with waxies or spikes like those used to target blugills and crappies.

WALLEYES—RATTLE BAITS

Mid-season ice fishing success doesn’t have to involve live bait. In fact, some artificial presentations—in the right circumstances—can outperform live bait. Jigging minnows and lipless rattle baits can be formidable weapons, and the latter is a real superstar in just about any mid-season situation because it fishes myriad depths, from shallow to deep. Something like a LIVETARGET lipless rattlebait fished on Seaguar braid with a fluorocarbon leader produces an ideal combination of strength, sensitivity, natural falls, and easy hooksets.

Cadence is key. The free-fall is especially important with rattle baits; you’ve got to limp line the bait down so it does everything it’s supposed to do without forcing it to have an unnatural wobble on the descent. Because the body profile of rattle baits is so natural, a lot of times fish will hit them on a dead stop with no movement. You can literally have one sitting motionless for a minute or more and a walleye will come up and hit it. The silhouette—even at a standstill—resembles young-of-the-year fish that spend much of their time barely moving, almost in suspended animation.

If walleyes are approaching small bluegills or crappies at dusk in the weeds and the panfish are shut down and the walleyes are still active, they are used to motionless prey. So, your jigging cadence doesn’t always have to be wild or active. Experiment with slower movements and even dead-sticking.

April Lake Lanier Tournament

Saturday, April 16, 15 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters held our April tournament at Lake Lanier. James Beasley won with 9.95 pounds, Lee Hancock placed second with 9.60 pounds, Pete Peterson came in third with 9.18 pounds and Mike Cox was fourth with 7.34 pounds and had big fish with a 4.27 pound spot.

It was a very frustrating day for me. I had been seeking pictures on Facebook of a lot of big spotted bass being caught at Lanier and some of the guides were saying they were shallow and on a predictable pattern and easy to catch.

Kwong Yu fished with me and we started on a rocky island, the kind of place I had been reading about and also a place where I had caught some three pounds spots this time of year. Everything seemed perfect, with a little wind blowing in on the rocks, and we tried a variety of baits but had only one short strike there.

We tried a couple of more places that I like to fish and Kwong got a good keeper on a jig and pig. I missed one on a spinnerbait. But after three hours we had only one bass in the boat.

Kwong suggested a place down the Lake and we went there, but one arm of the creek was unfishable due to the wind blowing into it. The other arm was more protected and I managed to catch a keeper spot on a Carolina rigged lizard. And we both caught some spots shorter than the 14 inch limit.

With about an hour left to fish we went to some docks near the weigh-in site. Kwong fishes them a lot but I don’t usually fish there. I caught a 2.5 pound spot on a jig head worm from one of them, and we caught some more throwbacks, but that was it for the day.

Two keepers weighing a little over four pounds in eight hours was not what I expected at Lanier. I had heard the best bait was a Rapala Wake Bait, a new version of an old bait, but I didn’t have any. I went by Berry’s Monday and they have ordered some. I just have to have the hot bait, even if the hot bait will be something else next week!

Fishing this spring has been unusual, just like it is every spring. It seems like the weather swapped for April and March, with warmer weather in March than so far in April. That is one thing that keeps fishing so interesting and frustrating, the only thing that is consistent about fishing is it is inconsistent!

Steelhead Rig

Two-Timing Steelhead Rig
By Buzz Ramsey
from The Fishing Wire

Catch big steelhead on this rig


It was co-worker Jarod Higginbotham who turned me onto the Two-Timing Steelhead Rig when he hooked two fat steelheads, in just a few casts, on this double rig suspended under a float while drifting his outfit through a pool where fresh steelhead were holding. The double set up works for more than just steelhead as we’ve caught trout, cutthroat, whitefish, and coho salmon while using it.

Besides being effective for nearly every river species, the Two-Timing rig is easy to tie up and use. It’s float fishing with a steelhead jig suspended under a pencil shaped bobber with a leader, 18-to-24 inches works, extending from your jig to a LiL’ Corky single-egg-imitation and hook. The Corky is pegged, held in position on your leader, a few inches above the hook by wedging a tooth pick where the leader threads through your Corky and breaking it off flush with the imitation egg.

The sizing of the hook and Corky are important because your goal is to offset the buoyancy of your Corky with a hook large enough to make it sink below your jig, but not so heavy a hook that it inhibits the Corky’s ability to look natural as it drifts along. In addition, you can increase your odds of success by setting your bobber such that your Corky will nudge bottom occasionally as it drifts downriver a few feet under your jig.

I remember Jarod being more than a little excited as he explaining to me how the buoyancy of the Corky helps float the hook point up (meaning you get hung on the bottom at lot less often) and how the larger/heavier hook required for this set up produces more-hookups-per-strike due to the bigger point-to-shank gap as compared to that of a smaller hook.

The first time we tried it together we landed four steelheads; three came on the Corky as compared to one on the steelhead jig located just a few feet up the line. With success like this, it’s like: why not add a leader and Corky to your steelhead jig when float fishing?

The Basics of Float Fishing

Float fishing is similar to the drift fishing method in that you cast out, across and slightly upstream, pick up the slack line between you and your float, and allow your float, jig and Corky (suspended below your jig) to drift downstream and through the holding water. Your drift is complete when your outfit nears the tail out, jig begins hitting bottom, or you cannot eliminate line drag by mending, which is when you’ll need to reel in and cast again.Float fishing consists of a series of casts, drifts, and retrieves. Because you’re fishing with your eyes rather than by feel, you’ll need to keep close tabs on your bobber at all times. When/if your bobber goes down/disappears (signaling a fish has taken youroffering) you must quickly and immediately set the hook.

What you need for a float rig


In all cases, a drag-free drift with your float moving at or a bit slower than the river current is critical to success. If you’re fishing a current edge, that is, where slack and moving water meet, on the near side of the river, you should have no problem with line drag. It may be a different story if you’re casting out into a hole or drift where river current, especially a strong one, can grab your main line the moment it hits the water’s surface and push it downstream faster than your float is moving.

One way to reduce or momentarily eliminate line belly and its effect on maintaining a natural drift is to mend your line. Line mending is something fly anglers do, for the same reason, to prevent their fly from skating across and downstream too fast. To mend your line, start with your rod tip at a low angle and pointed at your float, progressively pull your rod tip up and backward (toward you) while rolling your rod tip and line upstream. When you mend, it’s important to do so aggressively enough that your main line will be tossed upstream all the way to your float. Given a strong current combined with a cross current cast, you may have to mend your main line several times during a single drift.

Casting out at a slight downstream angle and feeding line off your reel fast enough that your bobber won’t be overcome by line drag can reduce or eliminate the effects of line belly on your bobber. If you’re a boater, you can cast out to the side or at a 45-degree angle downstream too, but you may find better success and eliminate all line drag by anchoring above the area you wish to fish and maneuver your bobber directly downstream from your anchored boat.

Float fishing works best when the rivers are medium to low in height and the water is clear. And although float fishing will work anywhere fish hold, it’s especially effective for fishing current edges, where fast and slack water meet, a place where steelhead often hold.

Most anglers will suspended their jig half to three quarters of the way to the river bottom when fishing areas where the water is eight feet or less in depth and within a few feet of bottom where it’s deeper.

The two-timing rig means adding an 18-to-24-inch leader to your jig – just tie the leader to the bend of your jig hook and slide the knot up the hook shank toward the jig head, which will allow your jig to suspend below your float in a horizontal position (the fish like this jig presentation best).

Lil’ Corky single egg imitations are buoyant so it’s important when fishing one under a jig to offset the buoyancy of your Corky with a single hook large enough to make your Corky sink/drift below your jig. For the right amount of buoyancy, what works is a size 12 Corky rigged in conjunction with a size #1 single hook –(what I use is the needle point hook made by Owner.)

In more turbid water or at times when fish might respond to a larger egg imitation, try a size 10 or 8 Corky rigged in combination with a size 1/0 single hook. The key here is to peg your Corky 2-to-3 inches above your single hook with a round tooth pick. The buoyancy of the Corky floats the hook point up so you get hung up less with it as compared to using a bead or other non-buoyant egg imitation. Although any hook color will work there are times when a red colored hook might out-produce a bronze or nickel colored one. This outfit can be even more effective if you set your bobber such that the hook pegged a few inches below your Corky taps bottom occasionally as it drifts downstream in the river current.

For more fishing tips and gear, visit www.yakimabait.com

Robins, Blue Jays, Crows and Snipe, Oh My

Robins have been all over my yard for the last few weeks. It must be spring.

In my youth I never understood how robins could be a harbinger of spring. My text books in elementary school as well as many stories I read talked about how robins showed spring had arrived. Here in middle Georgia, big flocks showed up in December and stayed until the spring.

After doing some research on robins and what they eat, it made sense. Robins eat earthworms, bugs and fruit. It is impossible for them to get to worms when the top of the ground is frozen, and bugs and fruit get very scarce. They must migrate south as the ground freezes.

Although they may arrive up north as spring arrives and the ground thaws, they arrive here in the fall and winter, seeking soft ground. Just like in my youth, robins are all us around right now.

I liked robins when young. They are pretty, but more important to me back then they were easy to stalk, get in range with my BB gun, and hit them. They were so easy that I seldom shot one unless I wanted to eat it.

On outings with my friends in the woods or when alone, we would often get hungry. It was easy to shoot and clean something, often birds that are protected now, and roast them on a fire. Robins had the same flavor of doves, but were tough and dry from our cooking method

Since I grew up on a farm and was taught to use everything for food we could, we even cooked the hearts, livers and gizzards on a flat rock heated in the fire. When frying them, mama used giblets from doves and quail for gravy. For some reason our dry, crunchy flat-rock giblets didn’t taste quite the same, but I liked the taste.

A bird I did not like was a blue jay. They ate our pecans and I hated their raucous cry. My parents paid me a bounty of five cents for each one I could kill. That kept me in .22 bullets to use on them.

We sometimes ate them, too, but they were much harder to kill on demand. They did taste about like robins, possibly because we usually did not have any water to wash the carcass or our hands after cleaning them, so there was a lot of blood.

They were wary, possible from me hunting them around the farm year-round. The easiest way to kill them was to sit still under one of our pecan trees so we seldom got one on our outings to eat.

I also shot as many crows as possible, but they were much harder to kill. I have read crows are one of the smartest birds in the wild, and they are difficult for a kid to get close enough to for a kill. I got 25 cents for every one of them I could kill.

We never ate a crow, probably because it was so rare to get one, and almost impossible to kill one on demand. And we knew they ate road kill, which was a turn-off even though we happily ate pork after slopping hogs. We might have tried them if we had lucked into one when hungry in the woods. I hear they taste good and will try them if I can kill one. I

A bird I saw occasionally in the swampy area between two of our fields was not as easy to get close to or to hit as robins. Sometimes when walking through the wet area in the fall and winter, a bird would take off with a loud whirr of wings, dart and dodge through the trees and be gone.

If I had my .410 with me, I would shoot at it if I could get my gun up in time, but never hit one. When a teenage I did kill one with a luck y shot. I had the 12 gauge with me and made a lucky shot.

The brown bird with lighter markings had a very long bill and long legs. I managed to find it in my encyclopedia. This was long before computers and Google. It was a snipe.

I had heard of going snipe hunting all my life, but that hunt involved night time, a sack and being left in the woods. I was surprised to find there really was such a bird as a snipe.

Later I saw a picture of a woodcock in one of my outdoor magazines and a little more research showed the two species are closely related. After realizing I was seeing a snipe fly, and finding they were related to woodcock, the nickname “timberdoodle” made a lot more sense. I also realized why hunters were so proud when they hit either.

I was used to shooting doves and quail, both of which pretty much fly in a straight line. With doves you usually see them coming in time to get ready. A dog on point on quail does the same. And woodcock hunters use dogs, too. But with snipe on our farm, no matter how careful I was to be ready, it was always a surprise to flush one.

Its been more than 50 years since I killed and ate a song bird, so the animal rights fanatics can calm down. I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out. I would not shoot one now, I obey the laws and they are pretty, but I was kid in a different world than we have now.

Individual Freedoms

Our country was founded on individual freedoms. Citizens were free to go about their business as long as their freedom did not interfere with others’ freedoms. An old saying “your rights end at my nose” was widely accepted.

Our Bill of Rights were added to the constitution to guarantee individual freedom from the government. Read it, each one of the articles protect the individual from the powers of government. Unfortunately, we have gotten away from the idea of individual freedom and it seems to get worse every day. Instead of individual freedom, too many seem to want to enforce another old saying “my way or the highway.”

And far too many people seem to think they are guaranteed an easy life, doing whatever they want with no consequences. They seem to think other folks owe them a living and they don’t have to give anything in return.

In the past, my freedoms were not controlled by your likes and dislikes. Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one. Don’t like eating meat? Don’t eat it. Don’t like what I say? Tell me why or walk away. Don’t like hunting or fishing? Stay at home and watch TV.

Now if you don’t like what I like, many try to use the government or mob violence to control me. Nowhere is it more obvious than with guns, but it permeates all our life.

Bill Nye, the pseudoscience guy, now wants folks like me that disagree with his true belief in global warming to be arrested for pointing out the silliness of his claims. Paid protestors try to stop folks from going to rallies of politicians they don’t like. They try to shout down anyone saying anything against their beliefs.

And law after law is passed to try to control individual freedoms. Now, if you don’t like big soft drinks, pass a law against selling them. Don’t like my opinion on guns? Condemn me as a baby killer and ban guns. Don’t like my hunting? Go out and make noise and fly drones where I am hunting to disrupt my day and ban hunting.

That is not democracy, or even representative government. People get offended by almost anything and think that gives them the right to stop me from doing anything they don’t like. But at the same time they expect me to work and share the wealth with them.

Robert Heinlein is one of my all-time favorite science fiction writers. He said something that many have said over the years in slightly different words.

“For when the people discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader.”

We are at that point.