Archive for the ‘Free Fishing Days’ Tag

TIPS FOR BANK FISHING   1 comment

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To the casual observer bank fishing can amount to just sitting in a lawn chair, sipping a soft drink and listening to the ball game on a radio or stealthily working the shoreline in search of feeding fish. Regardless by following a few simple rules one can have a great day in the outdoors.

The key to fishing from the bank is finding structure and/or vegetation in the water. Fish follow pathways along and around structure.  They will follow one kind of structure until it intersects with another.  Seldom do they cross large expanses of open water.  It makes they feel vulnerable.  If an angler eliminates those large expanses of water from his pattern, he cuts down the amount of water he explores thus improving the odds that he will find fish.

It is smart to fish areas with two different kinds of structure intersecting. This can be where weeds meet a fallen tree or rocky area.  Areas around rocky points, dam faces, or jetties can also contain vegetation that attracts fish.

Other promising locations are where feeder creeks or canals bring warmer water, oxygenated water and washes in insects from flooded areas upstream. Creek channels provide pathways between structures.  Fish often use old creek channels as they move from weeds to brush or shallow water to deeper water.

Deep water drop-offs are popular with fish. It provides them security of deep water yet allows the opportunity to move up into warmer water of flats to feed.

Additional locations along the bank include such areas as those with partially submerged trees or trees that have fallen into the water from the bank. Vegetation such as water willow, cattails, weeds and lily pads also provide food, shelter and a safe refuge from predators finny or on two legs.

For those in search of smaller species, such as crappie, sunfish and bluegill live bait is best. The bait can be small minnows and pieces of nightcrawler.

The amino acids in live bait are an attractant to fish coming out of a long winter of minimal activity. They also feed on zooplankton and insects found in and near vegetation in the water.

The larger predatory fish, such as bass, artificial lures are popular. When working a lure through an area it is important to work it thoroughly.  Fan casting a dozen or so times is a popular method to cover lots of water.  However the most productive areas tend to be closer to shore as opposed to those out further.  The water closer to shore is warmer and more likely to have structure.

When working artificial lures it is wise to vary the speed or the retrieve and the depth at which the lure might run.

It is important when working water from the bank to remain flexible and portable. If a given location is not producing any strikes or bites in 15 minutes, it is time to try another one.  You have to be where the fish are located.

FAMILY FISHING IN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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Summer is here, school is out, vacations scheduled, and everyone is looking to the outdoors for recreation.  Fishing is a timeless activity that brings families together and forges respect for the outdoors.

Lakes offer good access with piers, rip rap, access trails, and fishing platforms as well as fish attractors usually submerged within casting distance.

IDNR fisheries specialists manage the fish populations through habitat enhancement, stocking of forage species as well as game species.

Fishing, properly supervised, provides values that make it a quality outdoor experience.  It offers an alternative to the high tech and social pressures of daily life.  Do not place too much emphasis with youngsters on competition.  Rather allow them to enjoy the experience.   One advantage to fishing with youngsters is that you do not have to be particular as to what species you catch.  Kids love anything that will tug on their line.

A combination of Mother Nature and some sensible regulation has made Rend Lake an excellent place to fish for crappie with the family.  Crappie fishing is the number one choice with largemouth bass and catfish close behind in popularity.

The crappie spawn usually is ending by June.

According to IDNR fisheries biologist Mike Hooe, the crappie population is very good to excellent.  He has found over 36 percent of the population to be over 10-inches in length.   The number of fish over 12-inches in length is at a 10-year high.

Small jigs in the 1/8 to 1/32-ounce sizes are preferred.  Some are with plastic tube bodies of white, chartreuse, or red/chartreuse coloration.  Probably the most popular are plain jigs with a small minnow attached.  They are suspended beneath a float at the depth desired.  This can be anywhere between 2 and 12 feet.  One has to experiment until the fish are located.

The lake and the surrounding land is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is located on the northeast portion of the lake.  Information on the Corps facilities can be obtained at the Rend Lake Visitors Center at the dam on the south end of the lake.  Just across the lake at the dam is the Rend Lake Marina, a full service facility.

 

WHERE ARE THE FISHING ACTIVITIES FOR SENIORS   Leave a comment

Recently the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook.com found himself on the spot when asked at a social occasion, “do you ever do anything to get the elderly out fishing?”

Powderhook.com is a Nebraska company with a motto of “finding a place to hunt and fish.”  It is an online conduit to pair hunters and anglers with accessible fishing and hunting destinations, both public and private.

Following the experience at the dinner, Eric Dugar did some online research to find almost no fishing, hunting or shooting events for seniors.

He did find that Census data reports about 41 million people over the age of 65 are living in the United States.  Dugar anticipates that the number will continue to grow as baby boomers move into that category thanks to longer and healthier lives.

His conclusions is that at a time when the outdoor industry is looking for new ways to activate lapsed hunters, anglers and shooters, maybe it is time to turn some attention to the elderly among us.

The elderly may come with a unique set of considerations from access challenges to fees on fixed incomes.  They receive outings well.  It is doubtful that the industry can keep up with them demand.

Powderhook is in a unique position to serve as a conduit for such events.  They work with the nation’s leading conservation organizations, retailers and manufacturers to bring together the industry to solve some of its most important challenges.

If you have an event or want to plan one, and need help, contact them at http://www.powderhook.com.

MAD DOGS AND OUTDOOR WRITERS IN THE NOON DAY SUN   Leave a comment

This morning I made my annual trek to the Free Fishing Day Kids Fishing Derby at the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge near Carterville, IL.  With no children, people often ask why I go out in the noon day sun.  After all “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun.”

Part of the reason is it is a good source of a lot of photos to illustrate articles.  But mostly it is such a hoot to see the little rug rats catch their first fish.

The free event sponsors are a group of local organizations and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  Volunteers staff the event.  The kids get a goodies bag with a free T-shirt when they register.  At noon they eat hotdogs, hamburgers, etc. and awards are presented in the various age classes.  The awards and door prizes go to almost every kid.  They all go home happy.

Some of the participants are portrayed in the album on my Facebook page in the photo album entitled Free Fishing Day.  The Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/#1/DonGasawayWriter.

YOU CAN ENJOY FISHING IN CROWDED CONDITIONS   Leave a comment

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Summer fishing seasons tend to bring out the crowds.  Regardless of the species involved, there are times when the anglers appear to close along a stream or lake shoreline.   To some this is a turn off and they decide to fish another day.

It is still possible to relish summer, the social atmosphere and consider a fish caught as a bonus.  Many acres of public access fishing ideal for summer recreation are available across the country.

The rules of fishing etiquette are unwritten.  It is possible to learn them only through trial and error.  It takes guts to fish in a crowded area.  Fishing in a crowd is always entertaining and can be downright enjoyable.  There are those seasoned “pros” eager to share their skills and a few verbal barbs.  The latter often lead to some great entertainment.  The carnival-like atmosphere can send an adrenalin rush coursing through your body.

The easiest way to outsmart the other guys and get the good spots is to get there early.  Scout the area a few days prior to opening and find the areas with eddies and how water flows under or over logs.  These are holding areas for fish.  The early morning fish is not very active due to the cooler water temperatures.  This fish will find resting areas next to current and let the water bring food to him.

Once you have picked your fishing area, get there before dawn and hold it.  Others will move in on you but you will still have the area you selected.

Another way to be successful under crowded conditions is to fish differently than the other guy.  This could be using a different lure or using another pattern.  Sometimes by such a change you are presenting something that the fish have not been looking at all day long.  It seems that they will get accustomed to a particular offering and just begin to ignore it.

Accurately casting a lure is vital in crowded conditions.  It not only keeps you from tangling the other guy’s line but also it puts your offering right where you want it.  You will be able to get your lure or bait right in some tight spots that others will ignore fearing getting hung up.  The best fish holding cover can be in the most inconvenient places.  A person who can cast accurately can make the most of those places.

Casting to those out the way places may require wading with care.  Falling into the water can be uncomfortable at best and deadly at worst.  Wearing waders is probably a good idea in any case.  The snug fitting neoprene waders have less water resistance.  Hip boots do not provide enough protection from getting clothing wet and ruining a good day.

Good traction is a key to wading safety.  A wading staff will help determine depth of water before stepping off into it.  It is good to keep the staff upstream from you and to lean into it forming a tripod (your two legs and the staff.)  Always make sure to keep two legs of your tripod firmly implanted on the bottom.

Finally, one tip to fishing usually crowded conditions.  Fish during the week instead of weekends, it is often less crowded.

Fishing those crowded days can be a pain.  But, it also can be a lot of fun as there are some really fun people out there with all sorts of rigs.  Be observant and courteous and you might make some new friends and learn some new techniques.  In any event, it is better than working all day.

BEST WAY TO BUILD A FISHING PARTNERSHIP   Leave a comment

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Most parents are aware that they are building the future in their children.  There are those who want to find constructive ways to spend their older years and those of their older family members.  Involving both of these groups in fishing can also build the future of fishing.

Mature adults and children do not measure the success of a trip by the number of pounds of fish caught.  For that matter, studies show that the average fisherman does not measure success by how close to a limit he can get.  It is a chance to enjoy the experience in a garden tended by the forces of nature.  It is pleasurable to be out in nature and sharing its abundance.  Children need that to continue in the sport.  Mature adults need to remember those happy days.

The true angler speaks of the social interaction with other fishermen and of trying to find the fish as being why they are involved in the sport.

Do not place too much emphasis on competition rather than enjoyment of the experience.  If the hero is the guy who catches the biggest or most fish it intimidates some children and turns off some adults.  They may leave the sport in frustration missing the basics that fishing is intended to enrich.  Fishing should provide values that make it a quality outdoor experience.  Fishing emphasizes values and experience.

We have too much pressure to succeed in our lives.  Fishing, if done correctly, can offer an alternative to the high tech and social pressures of daily life.

As the day begins to draw down, the angler with the feeling of peace that a good day on the water can provide will continue in the sport.  One frustrated by the failure of a new technology to produce desired results misses the point of the activity.  He is not really enjoying fishing.  He is just adding additional stress to his life.

So how does a parent introduce his child to fishing?  Or maybe one wants to take a grandchild or neighbor’s kid fishing.

Begin by making a big deal out of the planning.  Everything about the outing should be fun.  Remember that younger children enjoy their activities in short doses.  Older people can take it only in short doses.  Combine the activities with other fun things such as picnics, playing catch, flying a kite or just hanging out.  It is also a good idea that the parent is there to make the experience fun for the child, not the other way around.  This is the child’s fishing trip.

It is advisable that one start a child’s fishing career at a body of water that is not dangerous.  A park lake or pond is a good idea.  That way if a child should fall into the water, it is not life threatening or otherwise traumatic for them.  It is also easier for a parent if he is not constantly stressing about the child falling in the water and drowning.  Putting a life jacket on smaller children can be a calming experience for the parent.  Make it a game so that the child does not see himself as punished for being little.

During the planning stages, it is a good idea to make a big deal out of obtaining the things needed for the trip.   It does not have to be costly, but kids will need a rod and reel, a float (bobber), some hooks and sinkers, and possibly a bait bucket and bait.  It is not necessary to invest a lot of money in the purchase.

Once at the fishing pond, remember your manners and teach them to the child.  Do not let them intrude on the fishing of others.  If someone offers to help you with the kids fishing, let them and welcome the assistance.  This might be a good time to involve grandpa or grandma.

Fasten the float on the line a foot or 18 inches above the hook.  Thread or loop a small piece of worm on the hook.  You can tell the kids that worms are too dumb to have feelings.

Show the child how to flip, cast or swing the rig out into the water.  Then let them do it.  It does not have to get very far out.  You can practice at home in the back yard as part of the preparations.

Remember that whatever they do that does not threaten their safety or interfere in the fun of others is OK.  Collecting bugs, holding worm races, eating, racing up and down the hill and just about anything that does not disturb others is alright while fishing.  So is quitting and doing something else for the rest of the day.

Some kids can watch the float all day.  Some will want to bring it in right away.  It they want to bring it in and cast again, that is alright too.  Most anything they want to do is permissible except perhaps eating the worms.

If their attention beings to wander because nothing is happening, suggest they try another spot.  When the float beings to show signs of activity, you can make a big deal of it.  A fish even a little one is a big deal to a child.  Once the fish is caught encourage the child to let it go but if they decide to keep it, that is OK too.  The decision is theirs they caught the fish.  But it is a good time to teach about catch and release as an ethic.

If the child wants to keep his fish and take it home for eating, do it no matter how small the fish.  It is important to him that he caught a fish and the family will be able to eat it.

This is the time for teaching kids about fishing.  And a time to relieve past fishing trips with an older adult.  The fish are biting and the weather is warming.  Winter is over and summer has not quite arrived.  Get out with your children or borrow some of the neighbor’s kids and go fishing.  Do not have a living grandparent ask a neighbor who does not have a chance to fish very often.

OUTDOOR PARTNERSHIPS SPAN GENERATIONS   Leave a comment

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Most parents are aware that they are building the future in their children.  There are those who want to find constructive ways to spend their older years and those of their older family members.  Involving both of these groups in the outdoors can also build their future.

Mature adults and children do not measure the success of a trip by the number of pounds of fish caught or miles hiked.  For that matter, studies show that the average outdoorsman does not measure success by how much he can get.  It is a chance to enjoy the experience in a garden tended by the forces of nature.  It is pleasurable to be out in nature and sharing its abundance.  Children need that to continue in the outdoors.  Mature adults need to remember those pleasurable days spent afield.

The true outdoorsman speaks of the social interaction with others and friendly competition of matching their skills with their companions.  Introducing a youngster to the outdoors is building a lifetime of memories.

The adult who introduces a child to the outdoors is making a big commitment.  Those times often become the child’s favorite family memories.  Most of today’s youngsters do not grow up in a rural area with a pond or dove field near.  Many will loose any connection with the outdoors.

Activities such as hunting and fishing should provide values that make it a quality outdoor experience with emphasis on values and experience.  Too much emphasis on competition tends to intimidate the novice.  They will then miss the basics that outdoor recreation is intended to enrich.

We have too much pressure to succeed in our lives.  Hunting and fishing, if done correctly, can offer an alternative to the high tech and social pressures of daily life.  Instilling outdoor ethics in the youngster or other novice will most likely instill in him or her, a desire to continue to be an ethical adult.

As the day draws to a closing, the outdoorsman with the feeling of peace a good day with nature will continue in the sport.  One frustrated by the failure of a new technology to produce desired results misses the point of the activity.  He is not really enjoying himself.  He is just adding additional stress to his life.

So how does a parent introduce his child to the outdoors?  Maybe one wants to take a grandchild or neighbor’s kid fishing.

Begin by making a big deal out of the planning.  Everything about the outing should be fun.  Remember that younger children enjoy their activities in short doses.  Older people can take it only in short doses.  Combine the activities with other fun things such as picnics, playing catch, flying a kite or just hanging out.  It is also a good idea that the parent is there to make the experience fun for the child, not the other way around.  This is the child’s trip.

It is advisable that one start a child’s outdoor career at an area or body of water that is not dangerous.  A park or pond is a good idea.  That way if a child should fall into the water, it is not life threatening or otherwise traumatic for them.  It is also easier for parents if not constantly stressed out about the child falling in the water otherwise getting hurt.  Putting a life jacket on smaller children can be a calming experience for the parent.  Make it a game so that the child does not see himself as punished for being little.

During the planning stages, it is a good idea to make a big deal out of obtaining the things needed for the trip.   It is not necessary to invest a lot of money in the purchase.

Once at the fishing pond or park, remember your manners and teach them to the child.  Do not let them intrude on the activities of others.  If someone offers to help you with the kids fishing, let them and welcome the assistance.  This might be a good time to involve grandpa or grandma.

Demonstrate to the child how to learn the outdoor skills necessary to have fun with nature.  Then let them do it.  It does not have to be perfect to be effective.  Do this at home in the back yard as part of the preparations.

Remember that whatever they do that does not threaten their safety or interfere in the fun of others is OK.  Collecting bugs, holding worm races, eating, racing up and down the hill and just about anything that does not disturb others is permissible.  One exception to that might be eating the fishing worms.  Quitting and doing something else for the rest of the day is also OK.

If their attention beings to wander because nothing is happening, suggest they try another activity.  A fish caught, even a little one, is a big deal to a child.  It is a good idea for the adult to join in the celebration.  Once they catch a fish, encourage the child to let it go.  However, if they decide to keep it, that is OK too.  The decision is theirs they caught the fish.  It is a good time to teach about catch and release as an ethic.

This is the time for teaching kids about nature and man’s place in it.  It is a time to recall past outdoor trips with the older adult.  Get out with your children or borrow some of the neighbor’s kids and go fishing.  Do not have a living grand parent?  Then ask a neighbor who does not have a chance to fish very often.

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