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Batten Kill River Not Very Productive Any More

Sadly, trout fishing is on the decline in many places in upstate New York

Maybe you have a few secret places where you can catch a few brook trout or brown trout, but make no mistake about it, trout fishing is on the decline. There are many reasons of course, but my focus here is on the Batten Kill River which runs from Vermont through upstate New York where it enters the Hudson River.

Sure, you might snag a monster brown now and then using a Rapala. (This is a very effective lure but I refuse to use it because it kills too many fish.) So you can catch an occasional big fish in the Batten Kill, but they come far and few between.

The fish simply are no longer in numbers in the river like they were years ago. The Batten Kill gets pounded by fishermen and that certainly has some impact on the low trout population. Many other things contribute to the lack of fish in this river and it’s not just because of over fishing.

The usual reasons that we hear about for the decline in fish include degraded habitat, warmer water during a few recent heat waves, and would you believe, hundreds of people floating the river. I say hundreds and it may very well be thousands. On any given Saturday you will see canoes, kayaks, and flotillas of tubers. No, not floating potatoes, but hordes of people drifting down the river on tubes.

In fact, I have witnessed a few confrontations between river floaters and fishermen. Floaters and fishermen both have the right to share the river. However, some people don’t even try to avoid the fishermen who are wading and casting. Some of these confrontations get nasty, but I digress.

Hey, you can’t blame people for being attracted to the Batten Kill. The river is clear, beautiful, and scenic. There are numerous places for a river side picnic. And yes, I float it every summer with friends just like the other hundreds of people. What effect does all this activity have on the trout population? I’m no biologist, but I bet the fish are seriously stressed.  Between the warm water and all the human activity, I wouldn’t be surprised if it results in trout mortality.

I wonder if other fishermen in other places have experienced the decline in fish production. Trout fishing is very special. Sure, we have those warm water species in ponds and lakes, but there is something special about those cold-water trout. I hate to see the go the way of the carrier pigeon.

 

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Why Every Avid Fisherman has to Visit Alaska

First of all, the rugged beauty of Alaska will take your breath away. If you fly into Anchorage in June or even later, the snow capped mountains seem to be reaching up to greet you. They almost look like ice cream sundaes with marshmallow toppings. Stunning.

We decided to stay in Sodotna because there was easy access to the Kenai River where the yearly run of salmon runs high. We didn’t need a guide, but if you wanted to go for the King salmon, a guide with a boat would give you the best shot at catching one. We hooked a couple from shore but it was like trying to haul in a locomotive. That was okay because we were after the best tasting salmon in the river, the red salmon.

We leaned all about what they call combat fishing where you stand shoulder to shoulder to other fishermen. As for the word combat, I didn’t witness any disagreements on the river but such disagreements are not unheard of. To keep the peace, you simply need to give the guy next to you enough space so that he can land his fish. Part way through the week, a conservation officer gave us a few tips as to where to fish with fewer fishermen.

One tip I can give someone considering a salmon fishing trip to Alaska, is that you take a quality fishing reel. I thought I had a quality fishing reel and learned the hard way that it wasn’t. The river was filled with the pink salmon or “humpy” salmon as they are called.  They spawn every two years and you will catch them whether you want to or not! They are not the best tasking salmon and most people throw them back.  Even if you get tired of hauling the humpy salmon in, you can’t avoid catching them. Why is that? There are literally thousands of them swimming up stream.  When you fowl hook one, the stress and strain on your fishing reel is intense. My reel started making strange noises and seemed to remain in neutral. I blame the humpy salmon for destroying what I thought was a good reel. ( It was a great reel for catching small brook trout back home, but lacked the power to haul in bigger fish.)

Pun intended… a friend bailed me out with one of his extra reels! Another lesson we learned the “wet way” was the weather. It rained just about every day for 17 days and the temperatures remained in the low 60’s. Alaska seems to have a personality disorder when it comes to weather. You may find it too hot or simply too damp an cold. Be prepared for both! In closing, check out www.fishingreeldeals.com We don’t want you lose the big one because of a faulty reel.

 

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Snorkeling When Confronted by Huge Barracuda

Have you ever seen a barracuda? When you see one in the ocean, it’s enough to make you cling to the beach area. I went snorkeling in the Keys at John Pennekamp State Park at Key Largo where this story begins. This is a national park completely under the water. Here you can take a dive boat out to where there is a huge statue of Christ about 12 feet under the ocean’s surface. The statue looks just like the one on the mountain top in Buenos Aires. However, the one on the mountain top does not feature any large fish with sharp teeth!

Anyway, we jumped into the water and admired the coral reefs and the many small and colorful fish.  Beautiful!

Then we approached the statue of Christ with its out stretched arms. On the statues shoulders were coins that some diver left for good luck. That’s my guess. Leave it to  the kids with us to dive down 12 feet to the statue to retrieve the coins which they did. My diving can get me down to about eight feet before my ears are about to explode.

I became obsessed with the idea of at least touching the statue’s head…for good luck. After several attempts, I did it in spite of the great pain in my ears. (I can’t clear my ears as they say in snorkeling parlance.) I bobbed to the surface excited that I had done the impossible…for me that is. I then ducked my head in the water and saw the creature.

A huge barracuda about four feet long was circling the statue going around and around and I was inside that circle! I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to take off my gold wedding band. (We were told that barracuda are attracted to bright objects!  Gulp!)

 

Coward Does the Right Thing

The dive boat was about 30 yards away and here I was with a barracuda circling round and round as if he was guarding the statue of Christ.   Remember, I was above the statue and inside the circle.

I timed my escape when the big fish was on the opposite side of the statue  from where I was.  I then swam like an Olympic athlete to the dive boat.  I scampered up the ladder like the true coward I was.  I felt proud though.  I had touched the head of the statue and it did give me luck.  I still had ten fingers and ten toes.  Maybe that barracuda just wasn’t hungry.

Check out this video of a Barracuda jumping into a boat:

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Crappie Fishing for the Thrill of It!

If you haven’t fished for crappie, you are missing the boat! This little fish is plentiful, easy to catch, and excellent table fare. Crappie are easy to identify with their mottled green and black color.

These plate size fish make up in fight for what they lack in size. In the North Country, crappie run a bit smaller than the ones that you see in the southern states. The ones that I catch go from about eight inches to twelve inches. My fishing buddy caught one that was just under 16 inches but that is a rarity up north. Like I said, their southern cousins run bigger.

 

In Crappie Fishing Size Doesn’t Matter

I don’t think there’s a fish out there that fights more for its size than these mighty tough guys. But if you want to catch them you need the right equipment. For the best in sport fishing, you have to have an ultra-light fishing rod. The ultra-light rod with four to six pound test on your reel will make a crappie feel like a large mouth bass on the end of your line. The sensitivity of a crappie’s bite is also easier to feel with lighter equipment.

 

Best Lure to Catch Crappie

The best lure to catch crappie has to be a marabou jig. If you go to any fishing store you will find marabou jigs sold by the card full. They come in different colors, but I think the white ones work best. Actually, you can catch these fish on any number of lures but I will stake my claim on the marabou jigs every time.

 

Where to Find Crappie

You can’t catch crappie if they aren’t in the lake you are fishing. A general rule of thumb is this: If there are bass and other warm water species of fish in a lake, it’s a good bet that there are crappie in there too. That is to say that crappie are a warm water species of fish. Another way find out what species of fish are in a lake is by contacting your state conservation department. (The name may be Environmental Conservation Department in your state.)

 

The Challenge: Live Bait VS the Crappie Jig

I have lived this challenge and can tell you the absolute winner here. There is no argument that crappie will devour every minnow that you toss at them…assuming that you have located the school. That’s right, crappie travel in schools. If you find one, you have found a couple of dozen. In fact, you won’t be able to throw minnows to these voracious feeders fast enough. And therein lies the problem. Remember the challenge?

I can be fishing in my boat right next to the guy using minnows and I will out fish him every time. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but let me explain. Have you ever fished with minnows? Then you know the frustration of chasing them around your minnow bucket. Then you attempt to hook them up and guess what? You will drop some of them even before you secure them to the hook. Meanwhile, I will get two or three cast with my jig all the while the minnow fisherman is hooking up.

Can you see it now? More cast equals more fish every time. Another advantage of the crappie jig is that you can change directions as the school of fish swim in a different direction. These little guys are marauding feeders that are always on the move.

 

How Do You Find The School of Crappie?

Once you are on the lake, go to just outside of the weed line. This is the best way to start. Guide your boat just outside of the weed line and you are likely to find a school of crappie. While doing this, keep your eye on the surface of the lake looking for a disturbance as minnows are jumping to the surface. Guess what? Those little fish are running for their lives as they are being attacked by a school of crappie. Toss you lure right in the middle of these jumping minnows. Wham…you got one!

Check out our Products for crappie or any game fish, you need a quality reel.

Also, check out this crappie video:

 

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Grew Up as Outlaw Fisherman

I couldn’t help becoming a game warden’s nightmare. It’s the way I was brought up by my foster parents. From an early age I trekked behind my foster parent and his buddies to private trout ponds. There we would catch our limit of trout and hike the mile or two back to the road. When it came to deer hunting, I was given these instructions: If it has four legs and is brown, it’s going down!”

What if it’s a big brown dog? I asked. Same response: If it has four legs and is brown, it’s going down. What if it doesn’t have horns? I asked. Yup, I got the same response. Not that this hunting sidetrack has anything to do with trout fishing, but it gives you an idea where I was coming from.

This attitude affected my reading skills. There wasn’t a poster sign or a Keep Out sign that I could understand or read. Any body of water having trout with poster signs on every tree was still fair game.  I was told that trout can’t read either.

The trout that we were after were brook trout, one of the most beautiful fish you will ever see. Sometimes these colorful fish were called native trout and speckled trout. The ones we caught in ponds ran about eight inches to twelve inches. One time I hiked alone as a teenager to one of the private ponds in upstate New York. At the far end of the lake was a club house that was normally empty on week days. However, on weekends the place was crawling with it’s wealthy members. That’s why I was there in the middle of the week.

I was so caught up in hauling in trout, I didn’t see the caretaker until he was 40 yards away. He was rowing the boat with a shotgun resting across his lap. There was no sense in running at that point,so I made believe I didn’t see him and causally kept casting and retrieving. Suddenly,he called out. “This is private property and you can’t fish here.”

I didn’t wish to argue with a guy with a shotgun but I did have a reply. “Oh, I said, doesn’t state land cover this end of the pond?”

Absolutely not,” he said, “and I suggest that you leave right now.” Like I said, you don’t argue with a man with a gun especially if your are trespassing and I reeled in and left.

Another time I heard about a monastery in Vermont that had a large pond stocked with brook trout. The monastery was at the far end of the pond from where we accessed it by walking a mile on a wood road. So far so good, except for one thing, there was a road that circled the pond with no trees or bushes to hide the poachers. Oh, shucks, I thought, we’ll  fish it anyway. I hooked a fat brook trout on my first cast. By the time I hauled it in, a vehicle was coming down the road from the monastery.

We made a run to the woods before we could apprehended. In a monastery they pray. I was there for a different kind of prey. I was there to prey on their trout.

Please be informed that I reformed in later years. I became a teacher and having my name in the news for poaching would not have been a good thing.

Here is the kind of brook trout fishing that I really love. Pond trout are bigger but you can’t beat what you will see in this clip:

Hey, check out our Products to catch the big ones, you need a quality reel!

 

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Fishing for Carp

One of the most ugly fish you will ever see has to be the fresh water Asian carp. What makes a carp so ugly? I guess it has to be the huge scales, the golden yellow color, and the huge sucker – like mouth. When I was a kid we would fish for these ugly creatures because it was fun to haul one in. We also had another motive to catch carp. An old man would pay us 25 cents for every carp we delivered to him.

 

Secret Carp Fishing Spot Revealed

We did have a secret place where we had the best luck for catching them. It just so happened that the town’s sewage pipe drained into the Hudson River where the carp gathered. Yes, I know what you are thinking.  As kids we never gave this situation a second thought.

We baited up with homemade concoctions of rolled up bread and other stuff that held the bread together. We would lob our gobs of bread out into the river and before too long, wham you had a carp on the line. Pulling these fish in was a real battle.  They weighed up to about 12 to 20 pounds and they can get much bigger.

 

 Carp Imported For Food

Carp were imported in the 1800’s as a food source.  Today, carp are regarded as an unwanted nuisance. If you research carp, you will learn that they do really well in polluted water where other fish couldn’t survive. When I think back to where I fished them in the Hudson River as a kid, I can agree with that fact.

 

 Menace to Southern Rivers…The Silver Carp

Today, we have another kind of carp raising havoc in southern rivers called the silver carp. These are the carp that jump out of the water when a boat passes by. And yes, people have been injured by “flying carp.”

Video of the silver carp :

Also, Check out our Products. You need a good reel to haul in the big ones.

 

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Carp…The Imported Fish from Hell

In the 1800’s, Asian people missed one of their favorite foods, the Asian carp. It wasn’t long before Asian carp were imported and released in American rivers and lakes. Guess what, the Asian carp loved it here and reproduced at an alarming rate. It was a fish that Americans had no desire to eat.  Eventually the carp found their way into just about every river in the country.

I am writing about carp because they were the biggest fish I could catch as a kid. We knew right where to find them in the Hudson River which was right in front of the village sewage pipe that drained in the river. And yes, we are talking untreated, raw sewage.  Carp can thrive in all manner of polluted water where other species couldn’t.

Did we eat the carp that we caught? Heck no, but we had a guy in town who would pay us 25 cents for every carp that we could catch. The fact that the carp dined on sewage never really dawned on us. We thought the carp were too ugly to eat. They had huge scales and were golden- yellow in color with a large sucker- like mouth. There was no way we could consider eating such an ugly fish. Also, we never heard of anyone in town who would eat one other than the old guy I mentioned.

 

Spear Fishing for Carp

My step father used to take me to this bay in the spring where the carp were spawning so he could spear them. This was a bay on the great Sacandaga Lake in upstate New York. The spring run-off would raise the water level until it covered the tall grass along the bay’s edge. Here in the water, dozens of carp would be spawning. He would walk slowly while I followed along on dry ground. Suddenly, he would stab his spear into the water and pull up a large wiggling carp. He thought he was doing the lake a favor as he tossed the carp up on dry land. I am sure the raccoons appreciated it!

In some places people hunt carp with a bow and arrow. I’ve seen some monster sized carp killed this way on television sports shows. Regardless how many people fish or hunt for carp, there seems to be no way of getting rid of this ugly foreign invader.

 

Silver Carp: A Threat to Our Waterways

If the Asian carp that I describe that are in our northern waters aren’t bad enough, you should hear about their cousin, the silver carp. This foreign invader reproduces faster than guppies! Not only that, these fish have a terrible nerve problem that makes them jump high in the air when they hear the sound of a passing boat. Boaters have been clobbered in the head by these fish and have sustained some serious injuries.  It looks like great fun until you get walloped by one.

The only thing keeping the silver carp from entering the great lakes is an electronic barrier which seems to be working so far.

If you think I am exaggerating about the silver carp, check out the video:

Also, if you try carp fishing you need a good reel.  Check out our Products for some excellent reel choices.

 

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Why I Hate Fly Fishing

Believe me, I have major respect for fly fishermen, but it’s not for me. Oh, I do it now and again and own about six fly rods. The typical fly fisherman is darn good at what he does. He has the knowledge of a biologist when it comes to various flies hatching along any stream, pond, or lake. That takes special learning and research. I must admit, most fly fishermen catch a fair amount of fish too. Maybe it’s my imagination, but fly fishermen seem to be more genteel than us worm droppers and lure tossers. The avid fly fishermen that I know also have great respect for the fish they catch and they practice the fine art of catch and release.

 

Got Patience…You need it to be a Fly Fisherman

You would think that I would like to join their ranks, but that ain’t going to happen. One of the biggest reasons is my lack of patience. When you lose a fly or wish to try another one, you must clip one fly off, assuming you didn’t lose one, and then painstakingly tie on another one. Anytime I did this, it was like I had ten thumbs. Meanwhile the light is fading, the trout are jumping, and frustration is settling in. By the way, the best time of day for fly fishing is in the waning light of day. In the last gasp of daylight, a little flashlight must be employed to attach a fly. Do you know how many cast I can take with my spinning outfit in the time it takes me to tie on a different fly. Many!

I have watched fly fishermen work their lines and marvel at their expertise. Fly fishing is truly and art form and there is beauty in watching a skilled fly fisherman casting to the rise. Yes, I would stop fishing myself to observe such a sight. And fly fishermen stop momentarily to observe me. Maybe it’s my imagination again, but they seem to appraise my efforts in a sympathetic or should I say in a condescending way. The message I get is that lure casting ranks right up there with using dynamite and gill nets in the eyes of a fly fisherman.

Since I keep very few fish meaning that I support catch and release fishing, I think there is room for both kinds of fishermen on a stream. When I went to Alaska the last time, I started out using my fly rod. Since there were so many fishermen along the river, you could only use the role cast. That was okay by me because any other kind of cast I could do would have put everyone’s eyes at risk. It wasn’t long before I retired my fly rod for my spinning outfit. And yes, I got the same kind of looks I described above by the fly fishing purist. I caught just as may salmon as they caught and maybe even more.

I live near the main headquarters of Orvis. They have pools of brook trout and rainbow trout so big it’s enough to scare you. I usually buy some the fishing pellets that you can get from a little coin operated dispenser. When you toss a few into the water the trout attack like a school of starving piranha. If and when I ever catch a trout anywhere near that size, they will be released. However, the joy of catching a fish that size and getting a good bragging photo would make my day.

If you visit Manchester, Vermont on a Saturday, you may catch…no pun intended, the Orvis fly fishing school in action. You can watch the pros and beginners like casting fly in the training pond. It’s amazing just how far a good fly fisherman can toss a fly and with uncanny accuracy. Maybe I am a little bit jealous of fly fishermen deep down inside.

They are a close knit bunch, and share a great love for the sport of fishing. I also observed that many fly fishermen are active in Trout Unlimited volunteering on weekends in stream rehabilitation projects.

Even though fly fishing is not for me, I think along the lines from the old play, Oklahoma. Instead of “The cowboy and the rancher should be friends,” let’s change it to “the fly fishermen and the spinner fishermen should be friends!”

Check out our Products for great fishing reel scoop.

Also, Check this video of person fly fishing…actually a beautiful girl. Do you think her bikini attracts fish?

 

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Bullhead Fishing for Dinner

As a kid, the fist fish that I became an expert at catching was the bullhead. I say this not to brag, because anyone can catch bullhead. Take a kid trout fishing and he may end up disappointed. Trout present a bigger challenge to catch than the common bullhead. When a youngster catches fish of any kind, there is a good chance that they will love fishing. Take that kid to a pond with bullhead and that kid will be hooked on fishing for life.

As a teenager, I fished in the Hudson River for Bullheads along with a few adults. We go at dusk, set up our lawn chairs and build a nice warm campfire. The river bullheads fed mostly at night and that is when we fished for them. If the truth be told, I spent half of my time trying to unravel my snarled fishing line. One night we had an unexpected thrill. One of the guys hollered out, “This one must be a monster.”

Monster from the Hudson

It was a monster alright. It was a three foot snake-like eel. When on shore it writhed and slithered in every direction. The guy clubbed it and vowed to take it home and eat it. It’s a fact that we judge the food we eat by the way it looks. For that reason, I would not eat an eel no matter how good you told me that it was. I wouldn’t eat a carp either because they are simply too ugly.

So how did the lowly bullhead escape my avoidance of eating something ugly? Bullheads are black with horns sticking out of their head along with worm like feelers. They sure fit the bill for being  ugly. To make matters worse, they are difficult to clean. So why is the bullhead an exception to my ugly rule? Because they are delicious!

The river bullheads ran from about ten to fourteen inches. The pond bullheads we caught ran much smaller. The lowly bullhead has an interesting cousin called the cat fish. These fish look like the smaller cousin but reach lengths of three to four feet. If I hooked one of those, I think I would have to cut my line

I mentioned snarled fishing line and the reason was a faulty reel. Check out our Products a good quality reels at www.fishingreeldeals.com

Video of a kid fishing for bullheads:

 

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Fishing Fiasco

After studying maps and learning about these fabled beaver damns filled with brook trout, I decided to take an over night trip to the Adirondacks. A trapper familiar with the area told me that the Miami and Jessup River near Speculator, NY were loaded with small trout.

When you are a back packer, you are supposed to store your equipment all in one place if possible. My equipment was in several places: my garage, my office, my attic, and my bedroom. Can you see the problems here?

When we arrived in the rain, I couldn’t find my rain gear…it was back on my porch along with my wide brimmed hat. At least I remembered my boots…Oops, no I didn’t, they were in my garage. (I had several items in a neat pile by the garage door that I never even opened.)

I was prepared to catch those small beaver pond trout and  to then toss them in a frying pan. Oops, I forgot the fry pan in the garage. But I did have a bag of chopped onions, garlic, and a few slices of lemon!

Well, we located the Miami river. With such an impressive name, I expected to see a river but instead, we saw a small trickling stream.  In many places you could step a crossed it.

The “river” itself was hidden in a tangle of blow downs, briers, four foot nettles, along with an impenetrable snarl of  mixed vegetation. My bootless feet became cold and the pouring rain did not add joy to this grand occasion.

We struggled down the stream tripping, falling, and scaling huge blow downs. Finally, reason took over and we abandoned the stream to the mosquitoes and black flies.

My fishing buddy, Frank, didn’t fare much better than I did. He too forgot numerous items too, and topped off the day by slamming his fishing rod in the trunk of his car. Been there; done that!

Here is a video showing successful small stream fishing. No, this is not a video of my experience!

Check out these quality reels: www.fishingreeldeals.com

 

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Barracuda

Have you ever seen a barracuda? When you see one in the ocean, it’s enough to make you cling to the beach area. I went snorkeling in the Keys at John Pennekamp State Park at Key Largo. where this story begins. This is a national park completely under the water. Here you can take a dive boat out to where there is a huge statue of Christ about 12 feet under the ocean’s surface. The statue looks just like the one on the mountain top in Buenos Aires. However, the one on the mountain top does not feature any large fish with sharp teeth!

Anyway, we jumped into the water and admired the coral reefs and the many small and colorful fish. Beautiful!

Then we approached the statue of Christ with its out stretched arms. On the statues shoulders were coins that some diver left for good luck.  That’s my guess. Leave it to  the kids with us to dive down 12 feet to the statue to retrieve the coins which they did. My diving can get me down to about eight feet before my ears are about to explode.

I became obsessed with the idea of at least touching the statue’s head…for good luck. After several attempts, I did it in spite of the great pain in my ears. (I can’t clear my ears as they say in snorkeling parlance.) I bobbed to the surface excited that I had done the impossible…for me that is. I then ducked my head in the water and saw the creature.

A huge barracuda about four feet long was circling the statue going around and around and I was inside that circle. I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to take off my gold wedding band. (We were told that barracuda are attracted to bright objects! Gulp!)

The dive boat was about 30 yards away and here I was with a barracuda circling round and round as if he was guarding the statue of Christ. Remember, I was above the statue and inside the circle.

I timed my escape when the big fish was on the opposite side of the statue  from where I was. I then swam like an Olympic athlete to the dive boat. I scampered up the ladder like the true coward I was. I felt proud though. I had touched the head of the statue and it did give me luck. I still had ten fingers and ten toes. Maybe that barracuda just wasn’t hungry.

Check out our Product to find a reel that can catch the big ones!

 

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My Favorite Six Trout Lures:

Blue Fox – They have a couple of different spinners that you must have in your tackle box!

Panther Martin – Here again, there are several designs and I love them all. A small weighted lure, great in beaver ponds.

Phoebe – This crooked lure has crazy action and I think trout hit it out of anointment. Any color works!

Mepps – Any serious trout fisherman has a couple of the various Mepps spinners. Terrific!

Rooster Tail – They offer a variety of spinners and are all great trout lures.

Rapala – They come in various colors and sizes. If I want a trout to eat, I will use one. They are deadly on trout and that  is one reason I refuse to use them. If you catch a trout with one, the many hooks do a number on the trout. Can’t release a dead trout!

Lake Clear Wabbler – This is the most popular attractor in the north country for trolling for trout. You can put a three foot on the back of it and trail a night crawler or  a streamer.

 

 

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Nut Case Fishing Fanatics

The most nut case fishing fanatics of a single species of fresh water fish please stand up and be counted. We have a winner folks: Large Mouth Bass Fishermen win by a land slide. There are more bass fishermen in the US than all fishermen  of other species combined…or damn close to it. How many pro bass tournaments are their across the US every season. I have the answer…hundreds.

How many trout, northern pike, walleyed pike and any other fresh water fish are known for tournaments?  I have the answer…not many.

 

World Record Bass

The world record bass was caught 83 years ago in Montgomery Lake, Georgia by George Perry. That monster weighed in at 22 pounds and 4 ounces! A man from Japan caught one just as big in recent years to duplicate the world record.

In the north country where I live, if you catch a 6 pound bass, that’s a monster. Sure, people have caught much bigger bass in upstate New York, but nothing close to a 22 pounder. If I am wrong on this, let me know.

Bass Fishing Video:

 

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Remote Adirondack Pond

One ice cold spring, I located brook trout nirvana. I was in the middle of April when a buddy and I hiked three miles to a remote Adirondack pond. There was ice along the trail and a few occasional snowflakes, but we weren’t going to let that stop us. After all, “ice out” time is supposed to be the very best time of year to catch brook trout. We were going to test this theory in spite of the fringed temperatures.

Cold Enough to Freeze Your Eyelets

We arrived at the pond and could see that the ice was partially out. The bay where we had luck in the past had enough open water to test our piscatorial skills…or lack of them thereof. It was so cold that our line would freeze in the eyelets. We even questioned our own sanity for even being there. We were casting our lures from the top of a large boulder that rose about eight feet above the water.

Biggest Brook Trout I Ever Saw

After casting multiple times and shivering from the onset of hypothermia, we considered quitting when something amazing happened. With the noon time sun shining overhead, we could clearly see the gravel covered bottom of the pond below our rock perch. That is when we saw the largest brook trout we had ever seen. This amazing fish had speckles as large as dimes and slowly swam by where we could clearly see it. That amazing fish appeared and disappeared like the phantom trout that it was. We estimated the fish’s weight at five or six pounds. The conservation department has some huge brook trout on display, but none of them could have matched that phantom trout.

We suddenly forgot all about the frigid temperature and started fishing in earnest. In our excitement, we realized that we were retrieving much too fast as we tossed our lures in the direction where the monster fish disappeared. After many futile casts we decided to try that famous natural bait that we had in our back packs…yup, you guessed it, earth worms. We baited up, tossed our bait far into the pond, and retired to a camp fire just below the big rock. Our rods were resting on top of the rock where we could watch them.

Big Trout Drags Rod Toward Water

Suddenly we heard a scraping sound as one of the rods went sliding across the rock toward the water. Whatever was pulling it, had to be big. I raced to the rock and grabbed the rod just in time. I set the hook and whatever it was on the line did not budge, not for a mini-second anyway.  The ensuing battle was epic. I jumped off the rock and battled the fish to shore, but not before it took long runs creating a frothy wake on the surface. I looked at the magnificent brook trout of about nineteen inches and am shocked as to what I said. “It’s not the big one,” I said. Here I had just landed the biggest trout I had ever caught and I was disappointed because it was not the “big one!”

We never caught that phantom brook trout, but we did manage to catch our limit of the largest trout we ever caught. All of these fish were over fifteen inches and my first one weighed three pounds and seven ounces. I returned to that magnificent pond many times, and managed to catch a few trout, but nothing compared that icy cold April day.

Fishing and remote Adirondack Ponds:

 

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Snorkling for Lobster in the Florida Keys

We were in the Florida Keys one July to take advantage of the three day season for catching lobster. The Florida lobster is nothing like the Maine lobster. In fact, the Florida lobster is really a kind of crayfish that resemble the Maine lobster in looks but on a much smaller scale. They also lack the huge pincers of the Maine lobster. As you can guess, the tail of the Florida lobster is the delicacy that you are after. Let me tell you, fresh caught and cooked, the Florida lobster is every bit as tasty as the Maine lobster. (Remember, I said fresh caught and fresh cooked.) I bough some frozen ones that were tasteless.

We did most of our lobster fishing in three to ten feet of water. We would swim along the surface until we saw the two long feelers sticking out from under a rock or coral. Then with a pair of garden gloves, we could grab the lobster and place him in a bag. Sometimes we would use a net to catch them while poking a “tickle stick” under the shelf where they were hiding. That would flush them out where you could catch them in the net.

Greed Almost Got Me Killed

I was in eight or ten feet of water which was too deep for my comfort level. There, on the ocean floor was the biggest lobster I saw all day. He was peeking out of a round hole in the coral. I hyperventilated my breathing and dove down to grab him. As I touched him, he retreated out of sight in his hole. I went to the surface and gulped down air. I threaded water for a few minutes catching my breath for another attempt.

I dove down again and stuck my hand in the hole and could feel the lobster backing up deeper into the hole. Again, I surfaced and gulped air. Determined to catch this monster sized lobster, I dove down a third time. This time I stuck my arm into the hole right past my elbow. I had my hand around the lobster and was pulling him out of the hole when my elbow became stuck. I was out of air and had to surface but couldn’t pull free.  Finally, I put my feet under me and pulled with all my strength. I ripped the skin all around my elbow but was free to surface. I was so scared and out of breath, I almost forgot that I had the giant lobster in my hand. Yup, this was one of the dumbest things I ever did.

It wasn’t until later that I fully realized how close I came to being permanently attached to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. And yes, I had nightmares about this very incident.

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Suckers?  Who Catches and Eats Suckers?

Well, no self respecting fisherman I know would intentionally catch a bunch of suckers much less eat them. Why not, you may ask. Besides being ugly, there are other fish better to look at and exciting to catch. But, hey, not every fish can be a trout. So what’s all this nonsense about catching suckers for the dinner table?

This story gets worse. My buddy asked me to go with him to catch a bucket of suckers for his grandfather. Maybe the old man had dementia, I don’t know, but he wanted the suckers for his dinner table. To confuse me even more, I was told to leave my fishing rod home because we were going to catch the suckers in a burlap bag.

I was totally confused. “Catch suckers in a burlap bag,” I asked incredulously, “are you crazy?”

All he said was, “You’ll see.”

We drove to a small brook leading to the Hudson River. Right away, I could see numerous suckers in the pools. It was spring time and the suckers were spawning. I never saw so many suckers at one time. The brook was loaded with them. My friend knelt down at a narrow part of the stream and used some surrounding rocks to create what looked like a funnel with only a narrow opening for the flowing water. He then placed the burlap bag on the bottom of the stream just behind the narrow opening he created.

Looks good, “I said, but do you expect the fish to swim in the bag?”

I sure do, “he said, “with your help of course.”

I was instructed to go down the stream below a few of the pools that were filled with suckers. I was them instructed to simply walk up the stream driving many of the suckers forward. I felt like a sheep herder but in this case, I was driving suckers. Up the stream they swam trying to avoid the clod splashing after them. By the time they reached the narrow opening my buddy created, the suckers were bouncing off the make-shift wall of rocks with many of them swimming right into the burlap bag.

After two attempts, we filled a bucket with suckers from the upper Hudson River. If you insist on eating suckers, here is a method that really works. (And yes, the upper Hudson River is clean and as beautiful as a Winslow Homer painting.)

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No, I didn’t catch all the red salmon in this picture, but I caught my share. I would have caught even more if I hadn’t  become the official netter of out group of three. That title is something I didn’t want; it just happened. Unfortunately, I was good at it. I never lost a single fish in my capacity as the netter. I saw another fisherman who was the netter of his party and he clubbed the fish half to death with his net. That is, the ones that he didn’t club off the hook! And it’s a fact, if you are netting a fish, you are not catching one. One of my buddies was so far out in the river, he had a great excuse. I never had the chance to get that far out in the river because I was getting stuck as the netter.

Finally, I started slowing down on purpose so that I too could catch a fish. The result was my “deep in the river buddy”, put so much torque on his rod, it snapped in half. He almost cried and blamed me for not netting that fish. That was his favorite Orvis rod but he did have a replacement in his car. When we returned to our cabin, he called Orvis and they shipped him another rod over night.

The next day we were again hauling in salmon and as before, I was the designated netter. And again, as before, I finally slowed down so that I could catch a few fish myself. And, as they say, history does repeat it self. Mr. Deep Water had a salmon on and screamed, “Get the Net!” Mr. Netter was putting on a new rig for the one he just lost and ignored Mr. Deep Water. Again, he raised his new Orvis rod so high it too snapped in half just like the first one. Yup, Another Orvis rod bit the dust! This time he screamed at me, “Why didn’t you get the net?”

The answer, “I was busy fixing my rig. When you fish the Battenkill back home, do you have an official netter with you?” Maybe you are wondering about the third guy in our party? Well, he simply kept fishing and ignored the two of us. He did break down and net a couple of fish but his netting skill was questionable at best. I hate to brag, but I am a darn good netter; a job I love to hate.

Video of Salmon Fishing in Kenai:

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Walleye Fishing YoYo Style

Walleye fishing done the traditional way involves trolling slowly over hot spots using a spinner rig trailing a night crawler. Sometimes the walleye don’t cooperate and your hot spot becomes a cold spot. There is a method my buddies and I have used that I call the YoYo method. No, I didn’t invent this method. Fishermen have been using this method for years…when they think of it.

We found this method a great way to catch walleye in Lake Champlain in upstate New York. When the walleyes are spawning, we have used this method to catch the walleyes because the brooks outlet wasn’t conducive to trolling. So what did we do? We lowered various weighted lures over the side of the boat and bobbed them up and down.

Rapala makes a great weighted jigging lure. Regular jigs also work just fine. As for the hot spots in deeper water, this method will work when the fish are lethargic and ignoring your trolling efforts. I think the bobbing lure irritates the walleye to bite even if they are not on a feeding frenzy.

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