Archive for January 2011

GIVE THEM GROCERIES   Leave a comment

Most of today=s trout in have been introduced.   Some areas have natural reproduction resulting in “wild trout.”  Most trout stocks do have to be supplemented from time to time.  Regardless, the trout is a fine game fish that is both sporting and a beautiful fish to see. 

Fish stocked into the bodies of water where natural reproduction is not possible tend to be just as likely to respond to fly fishing equipment.  They are fierce battlers requiring knowledge of how to entice them.  One way, according to Vernon Summerlin is to Give Them Groceries. 

The trout stocked into the waters of a creek, campground or state park are hatchery raised.  As such they are not skilled in finding the natural forage.  They soon will become accustomed to the food provided by the waters. 

Success for anglers varies from one individual to another.  Even sometimes lined up elbow to elbow along the shore some anglers will catch their limit.  Others will not catch a thing.  In some areas trout receive heavy fishing pressure.  As the numbers of fishermen thin out so do the numbers of fish taken. 

So what is the perfect bait for those trout?  Vernon Summerlin says it is to Agive them groceries.@  His theory is that since hatchery-raised trout are fed pellets, once released, they are soon the least selective feeders. 

Biologists tell us that rainbow trout can taste salt, sweet, bitter, and sour as do humans.  They are the only game fish that will respond to sugar and only when it is in high concentrations.  That explains why they like marshmallows.  

Tastes that are commonly found in living tissue cause trout to respond.  This explains why they like minnows, maggots, mealworms, nightcrawlers and worms. 

AWe know the colors of red, orange and pink appeal to trout,@ says Vernon.  AThese are the colors of one of their favorite foodsBfish eggs.@  In his experience, Summerlin used pimentos as a sight food since they are red.  But, they did not prove to catch fish.

Among the baits found in grocery stores are such things as marshmallows, corn, and shrimp that have been frozen and then thawed.  Cheese is a proven trout catcher.  All these items will catch fish.  Some other foods sometimes recommended that do not produce fish with regularity are: canned shrimp, oysters, clams and Beenee Weenies. 

Summerlin recommends using a Number six hook with a size seven split shot on four-pound test line.  The terminal tackle is suspended under a float for deep pools in calm water.  In more active waters Vern uses a modified Carolina rig.  It has a hook tied to one end of 18 inches of four-pound line with a barrel swivel at the other end.  A 1/8th-ounce egg sinker placed on the line above the barrel swivel.  This allows a fish to take the bait without feeling the resistance of the weight. 

Corn seems to be the best of the groceries for stocked rainbow trout.  A small piece of marshmallow can be added to the hook to keep it off the bottom. 

When you go out in search of trout, remember some groceries in addition to your worms, nightcrawlers and artificial lures.

Posted 01/31/2011 by Donald Gasaway in Freshwater Fishing

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“I am definitely into throwing swimbaits because it is a big bait, it is a big bite, and big fish,” so says Ish Monroe, national tournament pro.  Although he makes his home in California, Ish grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan fishing the nearby lakes. 

Swimbaits are large life-like plastic lure that range is sizes from 4 inches up to 12 inches in length.  The key to these popular baits is their natural look, even when fished slow and up close.  Their action when fished erratically appeals to the bass natural aggression.  Big bass do not peck at a bait, they inhale it. 

Swimbaits have been popular out in California for about 15 years.  Guys just began to talk about it these last 4 or 5 years. 

“Basically you fish the swimbait like you would a fluke or a crankbait,” says Monroe.  “You want to fish it slow.”  He adds that sometimes likes to fish it fast.  There are so many different things you can do with it.  Monroe explains that in some ways it is almost like fishing a spinnerbait.  “You don’t sit there and try to slam the hook into the fish.  You let it load the rod like you do with crankbaits and just pressure set the hook.”  

Monroe sometimes throws it out and winds it in or he will throw it out and burn it back.  

Monroe lets conditions dictate how to retrieve it.  In the early spring you want to make sure you slow roll it around the beds because the big females are up there.  They are looking to start spawning and they want to eat a big bait for the high protein.  As the post spawn and spawn go on you want to start burning it.  Especially in the post spawn.  Monroe wants to burn it on top like a buzz bait.  

“I probably have 20 different colors of swimbaits,” exclaims Ish.  “If I had to pick one color it would be the Millennium 3 which is a basic trout pattern.”  He maintains that you can use it anywhere in the country, even if there are no trout in the lake.  It looks like a rainbow trout. 

Another recommendation by Monroe is the hot Eagle bait (made by California Custom Worms) that is popular in the Baby E.  It is a five inch swimbait.  It is just the perfect size for throwing like a spinnerbait.  Their website is:   There are also sevens and nines which are great if you have a big forage in the lake.  A lot of people are afraid to throw swimbaits so that five inch is the perfect size with which to start.  You can throw it on your standard crankbait rod and catch fish.  

The one thing about a swimbait is all you have to do is throw it.  Anywhere you would fish a spinnerbait you can fish a swimbait.

Posted 01/28/2011 by Donald Gasaway in Freshwater Fishing

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Landowners and biologists in south Texas are investigating the early dropping of antlers by otherwise healthy bucks.  In 2007 and again in 2010 these otherwise healthy bucks shed their anglers during late summer and early autumn, often while still in velvet. 

Several the bucks began growing antlers again.  The second sets of antlers were small but they shed the velvet as is normal with deer. 

The first reports and requests for more information came to my attention through Deer Associates Newsletter of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center.  (

Daniel Kunz and David Hewitt began looking into this phenomen in 2007 when they found the deer in question had only a burr present or antlers only a few inches long.  They were mostly middle aged or mature.  The antlers were not broken, just stunted.  At that time they concluded the antlers resulted from a genetic abnormality in a small percent of the deer herd. 

The numbers of deer affected were perhaps a dozen out of herds of hundreds of bucks.  But in 2010 the situation arose again. 

One possibility was that both years had wet summers followed by a dry year.  At this point the scientists believe the cause can be that a specific plant, mold, or ingested material could disrupt hormonal balance in the deer or cause a condition similar to ergot poisoning in livestock. 

Initial testing found that the only difference between the antler shedding bucks and normal bucks on the same land is below average bone density.

 The plan at this point is to capture and tag the antler shedding bucks so that they can be observed next year to see if the condition reappears.


I recently sat down with a friend to talk about hunting for next fall.  This is not unusual for me but I just thought about all the people who wait until fall to plan that great hunting excursion.  It never occurs to them that they need to plan further ahead to enjoy great success. 

Would you purchase a home built by a contractor without the use of a blueprint?  Of course not!  But, that is exactly how many of us approach out hunting activities each year.  We don=t set any goal or make a specific action plan.  The end result is we hunt in areas that do not have the quality of game we are seeking. 

Planning and goal setting are keys to successful hunting.  Unless that is you are satisfied to just be away from home and to loaf.  Sometimes that is the goal.  If we are seeking that big buck or a full brace of birds advance planning will help us meet that goal. 

The first step is to decide the species to be hunted.  This could be as complicated as a foreign safari or as simple as a rabbit hunt.  But, you have to decide.  If you plan a simple hunt near home then the plans are simple. 

Decide on the date and duration of the hunt.  Are you to hunt alone or in a party?  Is a dog required?  Are accommodations required?  If so where?  Where will you eat?  If it is a day outing, then food or snacks can be taken along.  Is water available for the party and any dogs?  Not a big problem to plan such a hunt, but a little common sense will permit you more time in the field and less running around taking care the of necessities. 

Regardless of where you hunt it is important to check the harvest figures to see if there is a reasonable possibility of success.  For the trophy hunter, or guy in search of a big buck, studying record books is a definite must.  Search for places that account for multiple trophy animals.  Some areas offer better habitat, food, and nutrients for producing larger animals.  Decide what is an acceptable bag of birds or size of deer for you. 

Maps are a great help in planning a place to hunt.  Topographical maps are available from the U.S. Geological Survey and on the Internet.  Local maps can be purchased from county clerks or highway departments in the area. 

After the area is pinpointed contact county agents or conservation officers in that location.  Ask for the names of landowners in or near your hot spot.  Then contact them in person to seek their permission to trespass. 

For some species and states it is necessary to make your basic plans long in advance.  Now is the time to decide where you will hunt, line up the land owner’s permission, and to put in for a license in that area.  You may have to enter a lottery many months in advance of the season.  For detailed information contact the fish and wildlife people in the state you plan to hunt.  They all have websites with this kind of information.

For many locations and species a guide is needed.  It is not always possible for you to visit the location to thoroughly scout it.  Guides usually live in the area and have a well based knowledge of it.  Often they have exclusive hunting rights to the area you desire to hunt.  They do not come cheap.  But if time is a problem for you, then the guide might be the way you want to go. 

Guides can be found listed in outdoor magazines and at local sports shows during the winter months.  Most state game departments also license guides and have lists of licensed outfitters and guides.  Contact the guides as ask for references of hunters that have hunted with them in the past two years.  Then call them.  Do not just ask if they had a good time.  Inquire about equipment and accommodations.  A good question to ask is, AIf you would change anything about the hunt what would it be? 

Find out how many hunters are in camp at the same time.  How are the accommodations and food?  Sitting in a leaky cabin eating bad food will spoil the best of hunts.  Ask about the percentage of hunters who were successful in taking the animal they sought.  How many more saw game but passed on it or were not in shape enough to stalk into range?  

These, along with practice with your weapon, are a few of the elements needed to make a fall hunt successful.  Taking the time to do the homework will go a long way toward enjoyment of the hunt.  Begin now as it takes a lot of time to plan a great hunt.


Roger Sigler and his wife Sharon of Smithville, MO have added a new element to shed collecting.  “It is a wonderful sport for the entire family,” explains Roger.  It does not make any difference whether one is young or old, male or female.  You do not have to have a license.  It is just great fun.  

I met the Siglers at a QDMA conference some time ago.  The love they have of family, deer shed collecting and their dogs are apparent on first contact. 

The Siglers train “antler dogs.”  These are dogs that find and retrieve deer antlers. 

Sigler takes the dog out and it is like hunting birds.  Roger will walk down a path.  “Wherever I go the dog will correct and quarter accordingly.”  The dog appears to be working a bird.  They stop, they correct, they get it and they bring it to the handler. 

One can use the dogs to either prospect or to collect antlers to know what is out there.  There are multi reasons that one would want to use a dog other than just finding the sheds.  The sheds are the crown jewel to the use of the dog.  

Roger uses a reward based program called the “Science of Participatory Training.”  No punishment is used.  He has been doing this for years.  The dogs are started at 8 weeks of age.  They are started with an antler and there is no pressure, it is all fun.  Everything about the association with the antler has to be pleasant.  No pressure, no force.  

When Roger’s dog Ayla finds an antler placed in a seminar audience and returns it to Roger on stage, most people see this as a neat little trick.  But think about it.   The dog has to have complete concentration in whatever habitat she is working.  Antler dogs have to concentrate on antlers and work all day long out in the field looking for only for antlers.  

One may have a dog that will retrieve antlers all day long in the field, but if brought into a building will she still do it in that setting.  Antler dogs must be able to do so. 

The training is all based in science that began with Pavlov’s dogs in the 1860’s.  He would ring a bell and then feed the dog.  Pavlov was studying the enzymes in a dog’s stomach and was trying to get them to salivate.  After a few times all he had to do was ring the bell and the dog would automatically salivate in anticipation of getting fed.  

In the 1940’s, B.F. Skinner, father of modern psychology, took Pavlov’s writings a step further.  Skinner would wait for a behavior like fetch and then he would mark that behavior with a marker sound like a clicker or word or light.  Then he would reward the dog. 

In training an 8-week old pup Sigler will place the reward behind his back and point or say X feeding the dog.  He waits after three or four times doing that to see if the dog will look away.  If it does, he says X to see if the dog looks back.  He then knows the dog understands.  

As soon as the dog knows and understands, Roger will pick a treat and place it in my hand.  He then asks the dog to touch his hand.  As soon as he does so with his nose, he says X and feeds.  Then with no treat in hand and saying touch my hand.  The dog does so and Roger says X.  The reason is that they are starting to teach the marker.  

What is happening is teaching incrementally.  Dogs learn like a child learns to read.  They learn parts and learn to combine elements.  They learn sit, stay and come.  

Roger teaches a puppy to come, to stay, come to its name, a target and also maintain eye contact.  They learn eye contact as a form of begging.  The dog is saying I am willing to do what you want if you give me what I want.  

He also teaches the come back and forth by using two trainers to just send them back and forth.  Beginning a few feet apart the distance is gradually increased.  The dogs are sent back and forth with their name and the “I say X” explains Roger.  

Sigler believes that a puppy by the time they are 12 to 14 weeks of age can know and understand all the obedience they are going to need for the rest of their life.  Everything starts with obedience before moving to the more complicated discipline. 

“We sell puppies but we do not really sell puppies, says Roger. “What we really sell is training.”  What the Siglers will do is take a litter of puppies at 8 weeks of age and begin testing them.  

“You can’t tell anything about an 8 week old puppy,” maintains Roger.  What he does with the puppy is start training them.  Somewhere around 14 to 16 weeks he can determine whether or not they have the drive and skills to be able to do the work.  At that point he will sell them as puppies.  They already know sit, stay and come, have worked in the woods every day and have started swimming.  Roger is shooting a gun around them and they are retrieving antlers.  He knows whether or not they have a very good chance of going on to become an outstanding dog.  

The dogs that do not work out are given away as pets.  “It is all about the dog,” says Roger. 

If you have the wrong dog, you are wasting time.  If you go out a buy an 8 week old puppy and want to train it to be an antler dog there is a slim chance that it will work out.  The chance is probably less than 20 percent.  

Roger maintains that if you begin with the right animal it is pretty simple to train the dog at 14 to 16 weeks. 

He also plays a game with a sock.  There are dogs that will fetch a thrown antler a thousand times.  That is just a retriever.  Roger will actually teach the dog scent discrimination.  The dog has to understand what it is that he is hunting.  

In a piece of blue jean, there is a piece of antler tied.  In another piece there is none.  He starts with the antler in the blue jean and throws it out.  The dog will go get it and bring it back.  Without the marker this is almost impossible to teach.  He switches from one jean with the antler in it to the second with no antler in it.  The dog goes out and makes a mistake.  If you correct the dog for bringing back the wrong one the dog may get confused and think that he has done something wrong.  He will quit bringing them both back.  

The way to do it is throw the blue jean out and the dog goes to get it.  The minute he picks it up Roger will mark it by saying the “X” marker.  It tells the dog that he did the right thing.  When he Roger out and puts two of them down and says “search”, the dog brings back the one with the antler in it.  If he would bring back the wrong one, Roger folds his arms and stands perfectly still.  He does not say no or bad dog or anything.  The dog will go back and look at both of them.  If he even looks at the right one, Roger will mark it. 

This is a form of language that the Siglers have developed. 

For additional information about antler dogs check Sigler’s website at

PREDATOR CALLING 101   1 comment

The piercing sound broke the early dawn silence.  Then it faded.  All was silent.  The rabbit, caught by a predator, fell silent.  Or so it seemed.  Actually the sound emanated from an electronic game caller.  Its purpose was to attract a hungry coyote, coon, or fox. 

Suddenly, across the field a coyote loped along, nose to the ground, in search of an easy meal.  He had just appeared on the edge of a thicket and was a silent figure moving along toward the source of the sound. 

Everyone calls animals in their lifetime.  We often begin with here kitty kitty. 

The use of a call can lure hungry predators into more open areas and close proximity to the concealed hunter. 

Calls fall into two categories: electronic and mechanical.  The electronic calls use recording of animals that are played back by tape or CD.  Mechanical calls are made of plastic, wood or steel through which a caller blows air in a prescribed manner to achieve the same sounds. 

Electronic calls have powerful output, a longer duration of play, more accurate sound, a wider variety, can be operated hands free and usually use distress sounds to attract predators.  The advantage to the mechanical calls is that they are lighter weight, compact, inexpensive, have a variable pitch and offer great personal satisfaction. 

Both types of calls also have disadvantages.  The electronic call is a more expensive investment, has more weight to handle in the field, is larger and requires maintenance as well as the changing of batteries. 

Mechanical calls can have too much or too little volume according to the skills of the user.  They require movement of the caller which can call attention to his location.  They take some practice and in cold weather can freeze up due to saliva accumulation. 

A key to varmint success is to set up in a good habitat situation.  It might be brush near a creek.  Many animals use these waterways as highways to their feeding areas from a den or bedding area.  The caller sets up downwind from where he believes the prey might come.   Hunters must be ever mindful of his ability to conceal himself from the prey until it is too late. 

The ability to remain motionless is vital in this type of hunting.  Therefore, good optics and warm clothing are a must.  If the air is cold, then being under dressed can be miserable.  The good optics enable the hunter to see the quarry long before he would otherwise be able to spot him. 

Unlike deer, waterfowl and turkey calls, the predator calls are not types of communication between members of the same species.  They imitate food species that are in distress.  Most common is the sound of a rabbit that has been caught by either a predator or fence.  The shrill, high-pitched call is ear splitting.  As the predator comes closer to the sound he will become more wary of his surroundings. 

As a way of coaxing predators the last few yards, callers implement “squeaker” or coaxing calls.  Usually used are those calls that make a squeak of a mouse, a much softer sound. 

Coyotes are a normally nocturnal animal.  But, with the use of a call, one can lure them into range in the early morning or late evening.  On cloudy days, the sound of a call can stir the hunger pangs of my coyote during most any part of the day. 

Landowners welcome coyote hunters as a way of controlling the predation of their livestock.  The varmint hunter also is aiding ground dwelling birds and upland game by taking away a major source of predation on them.  By learning the daily habits of the quarry, studying the vocalizations that attract him, and exercising some patience, the hunter can find himself in possession of a fine trophy.

THE LADY OF THE LAKE   Leave a comment

During a recent discussion at a kid’s fishing derby, a woman mentioned that her daughter really enjoyed fishing but was not sure that was a thing that girls should do.  I told the story of Mary Satterfield and I think it alleviated any of the little girl’s doubts.


Guide Mary Satterfield has lived around and fished Lake Shelbyville, Illinois her entire life.  Her experience as a tournament professional and guide give clients a unique opportunity to enjoy the angling of the lake to the fullest.  Her dedication to the sport and the Lake Shelbyville waters has earned her the name, Lady of the Lake.  

Mary survived a serious auto accident in the early 70’s.  It nearly cost her life.  Four years of operations and serious rehab led her into the fishing business.  One of the few things she was able to accomplish during rehab was fishing.   Her love of the sport prospered during those years and led to her becoming the first women guide in the state. 

Satterfield has been a two-time winner of both the Midwest Bass Association Champion and Bass’N Gal Champion titles.  She has qualified for eight Lady Bass Classics, seven Bass’N Gal Classics, and for the 1991 Red Man Regional.  In 1986 she was Lady Bass Angler of the Year, 1987 Lady Bass Classic World Champion, and 1989 Lake Shelbyville Bass Bonanza Champion.  Additionally, she has won countless local and club championships. 

Mary has appeared at many times at boating and fishing shows where she taught fishing classes and seminars.  She has also been involved in Becoming An Outdoor Woman programs for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

More recently Mary has cut back on tournament competition due to health problems and to spend more time on her guiding business.  Today, she spends time with her family and writing a fishing report column for a regional publication. 

A structure angler, Mary does most of her fishing for species such as largemouth bass, white bass, crappie and walleye.   On an average day, she catches as many as 150 white bass.  Her success with crappie and largemouth bass tends to run along the same lines.  She is, however, quick to stress that there are no guarantees in fishing. 

According to Satterfield, most of her clients are repeat customers that come from as far away as Wisconsin and Missouri.  About 70% of them are from the Chicago metropolitan area. 

Mary can be reached on the web at: or by calling 1-888-761-8933.

Posted 01/12/2011 by Donald Gasaway in Freshwater Fishing

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