CATFISH ACTION IN AUGUST   Leave a comment

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Summer sunshine in August is often a sure sign that the fish will not bite during the day. Most anglers switch to night fishing or at least early morning and late evening. That is not the whole story.

If you adapt your program you might catch some nice fish.

In southern Missouri and Illinois, fishing 90-degree water calls for a change of tactic. These southern lakes and ponds contain smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill and some assorted sunfish.

I recently was introduced to a new pattern for these suspended cats.

Lakes and rivers experience a thermocline effect in the water during the hot summer months. The water below that level lacks adequate oxygen for most species of fish. As a result most fish suspend above the thermocline which is usually at a depth of about 20-feet.

The thermocline is a band of water in which the temperature is 5- to 10-degrees cooler than the water above. Below this band the water is even cooler. The fish will be in the water above the thermocline all summer but tend to hang close to it.

Catfish are usually at about 20-foot depth and with other species above them. They relate to any structure at those depths. For instance humps and sunken islands attract catfish. These fish are active in hot weather contrary to popular belief.

The shad in a lake will be in the top section of the water column driven there by white bass. Seagulls fly over the shad breaking the surface. It is the presence of the birds that alerts fishermen to the presence of potential action. Below the white bass is where the catfish lurk.

All the traditional catfish baits and lures will work in August just as they do the year around. Channel catfish will take almost anything but the blues and flatheads prefer live bait such as a sunfish or shad. It is important to place the bait/lure at the right depth. The slip bobber rig is a good choice to keep the bait off the bottom. In the case of crankbaits one can count down to a desired depth before retrieving the lure. A deep diving crankbait trolled at 2-miles per hour should run at about 18-feet down.

Crankbaits in shad imitation shapes and colors work in clear water. In rivers work the slack water behind structure as well as hollowed out holes in the bottom. There is more current above them and less down deep in the hole. In river situations you probably will have to travel more to find schools of fish.

As for color in the use of crankbaits adjust according to water clarity. Murky water calls for orange, chartreuse or yellow fire tiger baits. In clear water you can use blue or the more natural colors including brown and black.

 

FISHING TOURNAMENTS AND THE DIGITAL AGE   Leave a comment

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Recently a computer program has entered the field of competitive fishing. It promises to be great for anglers, tournament officials, their friends and family as well as provide marine information for fisheries officials and increase survival rates of the fish.

Waiting for the results of a fishing tournament can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. Take it from one who has spent thousands of hours doing just that to get story material or in response to a magazine assignment.  Sure it can be fun renewing old acquaintances but sometimes one has to cover several tournaments in a day or has a deadline and editors wanting material right now.

In the traditional tournament the anglers bring their catch of the day to a weigh-in and then they tally the totals to decide the winners. The officials announce the winners.  All this takes a lot of time especially with large entry fields.  Unfortunately often the crowd goes home and some fish die before the end of the festivities.

Mike Christopher of Dallas, TX points out that the main purpose of fishing tournaments comes in 4 aspects. The primary purpose is a protection of the resource both during the tournament and by supplying data to fisheries biologists to aid in management of the fishery.  Secondly is the promotion of fishing ethics while maintaining the third segment safety on the water.  And of course it is promote fun in fishing competition.

Christopher provides technical support in the use of iANGLER. The program is available on either the App Store or Google Apps.

iANGLER consists of two components. The web portal handles all aspects of the management of a tournament.  These consist of things such as promotion, assignment of crew members, scoring, weather and a live leaderboard.  The mobile application which is available to participants and remote viewers handles such aspects of a tournament as registration, logging successful catches, weather updates and the live leaderboard.

During a tournament the participants use the mobile app to photograph their catch and record basic information while still on the water. The image record immediately goes to the web portal.  The tournament director reviews it if there is an internet connection the transmission takes seconds.  If a digital camera is used the transmission is made later via the chip from the camera.

Once a catch record scoring is completed it is posted to the live leaderboard. If a catch is rejected the angler is notified immediately by email.  For those viewing the leaderboard either by cellphone on the water or with a laptop it is possible to hole the cursor on a particular creel and see a thumbnail image of the individual fish.  The tournament audience is able to monitor the angler progress on the leaderboard.

Once the contest is completed it is possible to finalize the results very quickly.

In addition to quickly determining the winners of the event, this system allows the quick release of fish within seconds. This goes a long way in saving fish lives.

Fishery biologists like the system as it opens up data for them to assess fish dynamics and habitat needs. All events fitted into the program have the identifying information of the angler removed before submitting the data to fisheries managers.

Tournament angling has long been involved in the digital age but this system is an advancement of the involvement. For more information about this program for your next tournament check out their website at http://www.ianglertournament.com.

KASI CATCHES CRAPPIES   Leave a comment

Kasi & Crappies

Speaking with Kyle Schoenherr the other day it was surprising to find that a significant number of his clients are novice anglers. Because of his reputation as one of the best crappie anglers in the country one might assume more experienced anglers might be his clients as they search for tips to polish their skills.

On further thought it is probably great that so many novice crappie anglers are entering the sport with an eye to learning it right from the beginning just as my pal Kasi is doing today.

As a rising young executive in business, Kasi McBride does not have a lot of spare time for the outdoor activities she so much enjoys. Most of the time she is involved in boating with friends and an occasional canoe trip down one of Missouri’s picturesque rivers.

Recently she was lamenting a desire to go crappie fishing. Kyle Schoenherr, who is one of the top professional crappie anglers in the country agreed to take the two of us for a short trip out on Kinkaid Lake near Murphysboro, IL.  The trip had to be short because Kasi could not get off work until 4:30 p.m. and the sun goes down about 8:15 p.m. this time of year.  Couple that with the fact that it is an hour drive from her work to the boat ramp.

Kyle operates All Seasons Guide Service (618-314-2967) and had another party booked for earlier in the day. As we start out he laments that the fishing bite was light today.

The heat seems to drive the fish down to cooler water and the bright sunlight has them staying under the milfoil. Kyle points out that the milfoil and other vegetation prevent his electronics from finding fish.  However he has waypoints marked on the electronics for structure such as boulders and tree stumps.

Kyle explains that the crappie like to relate to the stumps and other wood. In summer the weeds protect the fish from the bright sunlight and yet they still relate to the stumps.  In the post spawn period they leave the shallows for deeper water.

Kyle explains that he gets quite a few charters from novice anglers who, like Kasi, want to learn how. He says the main consideration is to keep the approach simple and uncomplicated.  It is important or the client to have fun.  Kasi is having a ball.

Kyle explains the rig for today is a simple slip bobber that suspends a lip hooked minnow a few feet below the weeds in this location. Long BnM poles are used to aid in dipping the rig into holes in the weed cover.

Kasi catches 7 crappie and two bass. But, the two bass are only about 3 inches in length.  I catch a couple of crappie including the largest of the trip.  Kyle out shined us both with an unknown number of fish.  There were just too many to count.

It is a great time to be on the lake. The temperatures are high with no wind but the boat ride from location to location is a pleasant way to spend a summer evening.  We must do this again one day.

IT IS FROG TIME   Leave a comment

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As the water temperature rises it is time to try out a new frog lure from Sebile. It is the Sebile Pivot Frog.

Not much of a frog fisherman, or for that matter a bass fisherman, this is going to present difficulties. As with most plastic lures one tends to wait too long to set the hook or does so too soon.

Most frog lures are for heavy vegetation. But they do work in clear water.  This weighted frog walks true through the water.  Unlike other frog imitations which have two hooks this lure has a single 6/0 wide-gap hook.  The hook point is within the body of the lure.  The body will collapse when a fish takes it.  Otherwise the lure moves through vegetation almost weedless.

As with other such lures you intermittently pause to give it action. Kevin Jarnagin, Blue Heron Communication spokesman, uses the Pivot Frog on 50-pound braided line to fish around grass edges.  By walking the frog easily on a slack line or with short strokes, he dips the frog just below the surface.

With poor depth perception the easiest way for me to fish it is to cast up on the shore and then drag it back so as to plop into the water like a frog jumping off the shore. Using care I make it land inches away from the shore as a natural frog would do.  From a boat one walks the lure back with the rod tip down while pausing occasionally.

The frog design is for fishing heavy vegetation. Boaters can move their craft into the grass and then fan cast along the edge.

For the ground pounder work the lure parallel to the bank about 3-feet out using the same retrieval. Keep to the more shaded areas.  This technique seems best early in the morning and later in the afternoon when the water is at its coolest.

If minnows or other small marine life is present and actively moving about cast the frog to the other side and walk the lure through the activity.

2016 HOBIE BASS OPEN   Leave a comment

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Perhaps the fastest growing segment of the marine industry is the kayak. Both as the oldest and newest addition to the fishing scene, these craft are increasing popular with anglers.

The first visitors to the North American continent came by way of the Bering Strait either by dog sled or kayak. Those craft were nothing more than animal skins stretched over a wooden frame.  They were a fry cry from the modern materials of today’s craft.

The early kayaks were to gather meat and fish for survival. Today anglers fish from them but also engage in the increasingly popular fishing contests.

A couple of weeks ago over 100 kayakers gathered at the Kentucky Dam Village near Gilbertsville, KY to complete for total cash prizes of over $11,000 and merchandise prizes from event sponsors.  The event is the second of a series of 5-qualifying events being held across the U.S. and Canada.  More details are available at http://www.hobiefishingworlds.com.

The contestants have a chance to fish both Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. The event is a Catch, Photo and Release format.  Each angler records his catch by placing it on a Bump board that has inches and fractions marked on it.  He places a token given to him at registration on the fish to verify his catch.  He photographs the fish with either an iPhone or point and shoot camera and the fish released.

If using an iPhone, the image is immediately sent to contest headquarters via iAngler.com, an online service that records the catch and keeps a up to the minute status of each angler. The top three fish of each angler counts toward his/her final score.

First place in the adult division wins not only $3,500 but also is entitled to fish in the 2016 Hobie Fishing Worlds Championship in Lafourche Parish, LA on December 4-11. He also receives an all-expense paid trip to the event.  Second place also qualifies for the Championship and a check for $2,300.  Third place gets a check for $1,500.

The top 5 anglers receive an invitation to the Tournament of Champions held in November on Lake Fork, TX.

 

 

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE FOR BOWHUNTERS   1 comment

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Is it time to kick the cobwebs out of you favorite hunting bow? Every year we all hear stories of the buck that got away because of equipment failure.  But it is one part of hunting failure that can be avoided with a little effort and common sense.

By doing the maintenance early, you can work with it longer and really be prepared for the hunting season in the fall.

The purpose of maintenance is to ensure that you have a bow that will launch the arrow that will have good smooth, stable flight and accurate results at the target. Generally speaking, good flight will have good results.

Begin by placing the bow on a table or in a bow vice with a white cotton cloth. The white cloth helps when if you have to look for a dropped screw or other small part.  Examine the bow beginning at one end and working toward the other.  Make note of any unusual wear of a part of the bow.  Look for dirty wheels, frayed string or cable, loose arrow rest, loose nocking point or peep site, or any broken parts.

After the initial inspection, look at your notes and order or purchase the parts you are going to need to fix or replace these parts. If it has been a year or more since you replaced the cables or string, you will probably need to do it again now.

Unless you have replaced a cable or bowstring on your bow previously, it is probably a good idea to have the pro at your archery shop take care of it. He has the equipment to do so without throwing your wheels out or alignment.  Remember that a compound bow is under tension all the time.  When you release that tension, the wheels move as do the limbs, cables and string.  Getting everything back together again can be a bit tricky.

While the bow is apart, check the wheel bearings and axles. Make sure they move freely.  Pull the axles and lube them as a preventative measure.  It is also a good time to lube the limb bolts.

Once these parts are taken care of you can do the rest of the maintenance yourself. Check the tiller.  The tiller is the distance between the base of the limb, where it enter the limb pocket, and the bowstring.  If you shoot a release, the tiller distance for the bottom and top limbs should be the same.  Some archers prefer a slightly longer distance at the top limb.  But, never more than 1/8th inch.  The advantage to always having the limbs at equal tiller is that if there is a difference, you know that something moved and should be checked.

Next check the synchronization of the wheels. For accuracy, the wheels should both turn at the same time.  Have someone draw the bow while you check the turning over of the wheels.  If they are not turning over together, check your owner’s manual or with archery pro-shop to see how to get them back in alignment.

Examine the condition of the arrow rest. If it shows signs of unusual wear or is broken, it should be replaced.  If it has adjustments for tension, now is the time to work with it.  Do so slowly so as not to over adjust it.  The instruction sheets that come with many rests, give information on adjustment and fine tuning.  Otherwise seek advice from a pro.

Once you are satisfied with the rest, it is time to install nocking points and peep sights. The location of the nocking point is dependent on the type of rest.  Shoot‑through models work better with the nocking point at one angle while plunger models and launchers require higher nocking points.

To adjust the location of nocking points, peep sights and kisser buttons requires the assistance of another person. The owner of the bow draws it with the release and arrow that he plans to use later.  The other person, adjust the points, peep and kisser.  Once the location has been ascertained, they are then installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Finally, check the bowsight for loose or broken parts. Repair or replace as necessary.  Wipe down the bow with a soft cotton cloth and you are ready to take to the field.

By paying attention to the details of bow maintenance, you are prepared to take to the field fully confident that it will perform satisfactorily. Practice with it and periodically check it out during the season to make sure nothing has changed or broken.

Posted 06/13/2016 by Donald Gasaway in Bowhunting

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FOR ANGLERS CATFISH ARE THE BEST CHOICE IN SUMMER   Leave a comment

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Throughout the Mississippi River drainage, catfish seclude themselves in root wads, submerged brush, deep holes and bayous. Ever since man arrived on the scene, the cat has been a primary source of food and sport.

Catfish are probably the most popular single species of fish for eating and catching.  Almost every angler has a theory on what bait to use as well as where to find the big ones.  Most towns have favorite locations for a fish fry, be it a restaurant, church social, civic function or someone’s backyard.  The catfish is king.

But, what about the angler who wants to catch his own catfish? Williamson county and southern Illinois are the places for him.  The large lakes of The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and Lake of Egypt have excellent populations of catfish.  It is not that people do not fish for catfish.  It is just that there are just so many fish in these fertile waters.

Of the catfish species mostly anglers pursue mostly channels and flatheads. All area lakes are home to both of these species with Channel catfish readily added to many area ponds.

The channel catfish is probably the most popular with anglers. Channels seek faster flowing and cleaner water with sand, gravel or rock bottoms.

Catfish anglers are usually the most laid back of fishermen.  They tend to prefer a leisurely time.  Their rigs are simple with a weight and hook on a line that cast into the probable location of some fish.  The rod is propped on a forked stick sunk into the bank.  There are other variations used from boats and shore.   But the basic is the same.  Bait used for catfish can be alive or dead and can range from minnows to leeches, crayfish, catalpa worms, leaf worms, red worms, frogs and cut bait.

More sophisticated catfish anglers have other patterns to fish. One of these, popular on small rivers and streams during the summer, an angler wades and fish live bait.  This involves fishing live bait below a slip bobber and allowing it to drift downstream over the larger holes, washouts, undercut banks and beneath brush piles or other dark hideouts.

The idea is to present a natural presentation of the bait by allowing the current to drift the bait in a natural way. The bait is set so that it floats just a few inches off the bottom much the same as any other food source.  Popular baits for this kind of fishing are grasshoppers, night crawlers and crayfish.

During periods of overcast or drizzle, catfish cruise flats in search of food much as they would at night. At this time one can employ a three-way rig. You attach the line going to the rod to one of the swivels.  The second goes to a drop line of about 8-inches that has a heavy sinker on it.  The third swivel attaches to a line of about 3-foot length with a hook at the end.  The float keeps the live bait, either minnow or leech, in a natural presentation.

Going back to the more leisurely approach to catfishing, one need only take a look at jug fishing and trot lining. Jug fishing is best in water with slow or no current with little or no snags under the surface.  Bait suspends below a plastic milk jug and allowed to float free.  A large number of jugs are usually used.  The angler sits back to wait for a jug to take off in a direction that is different from the rest.

Trot lines on the other hand are a line with a series of baited hooks tied in at intervals along its length. The snells are at varying lengths and baited with cut bait.  Varying lengths of snells cover the water at all levels from the bottom to the surface with baited hooks.  Anglers usually tie the line along the shoreline for easy access.  Sometimes they will go from shore to midstream.  Usually left overnight, or for several hours, then the angler retrieves the line and removes the fish.

Catfish are a marvelous fish for both sport and eating. They can be as finicky as any game fish and yet do not require a lot of expensive tackle or boats to pursue.  Catfish are king anywhere they are found.

 

 

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