The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More
These days I enjoy many different types of hunting. I’m an avid, some might say rabid, waterfowler. I love to bowhunt and have traveled the country doing so for various big game species, although I’m fairly content with Kansas whitetails and turkeys now. And when it’s not hunting season I’m usually fishing. I love to fish for walleye, crappie and channel catfish. I’m at home on the front of my boat on a big reservoir or wading a small Flint Hills stream. It’s all good.
Throw in a recent bout with the trapping bug and decades of camping with family and friends and it’s obvious I have an addiction for the outdoors.
Many of my most memorable outdoor experiences in recent years have centered on those with my children. My 18-year-old daughter and twin 12-year-old boys have been a major part of my outings. Watching their eyes light up as they realize the wonders of Mother Nature and her bounty likely has even more meaning than my own personal satisfaction. Spending quality time with them outdoors carries significant and substantial meaning, no matter what we’re doing.
In this Blog I’ll attempt to relay some of the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from being outdoors. Topics covered will be broad in scope and run the gamut. It’s all fair game. If you can sit at your computer and read a particular entry and it stirs you to try it, or helps make your experience more enjoyable, I will be pleased. And if it does nothing more than make you smile or laugh that too, will please me. The outdoors is truly a great place to be!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
This get-together has become somewhat of an annual event organized by several friends. Since my boys were old enough to wander around much they've invited us to participate. It's a great time with anywhere from 15-30 people most years. The evening starts with a wonderful beast feast of fried fish, frog legs, duck kabobs and all the fixin's. Tall tales are told and the kids run around fishing, playing washers and enjoying the great outdoors.
The main event starts shortly after dark. Armed with flashlights and mesh sacks, teams of froggers head off into the darkness. Only hand to web-footed combat is allowed with no gigs or nets used. Adults, high school and college-aged kids are on their own and head to a huge watershed pond. Youngsters like my twin 12-year-old boys and a couple others still have adult supervision. They've been dubbed the FFA (Future Froggers of America) and get to hunt their own smaller pond.
The evening was a huge success. Drought conditions made visuals on bullfrogs easy and some grabbed were nearly as big as a Chihuahua. It was discovered the next day when they were cleaned that one of the larger ones had a baby bird in its stomach! Dozens of frogs were bagged and sacks grew heavy. My two boys were proud of their catch of eight frogs with plenty more that got away.
A few run-ins with snapping turtles and giant water snakes added even more excitement to a truly fun-filled evening. Sure, some participants lost tennis shoes, got cut-up, bug-bit and bruised. Anything wrong with the evening will soon be forgotten when they all remember how much fun it was to chase Kermit's relatives all over the pond.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I recently took my sister and her family to Marion Reservoir for a catfishing adventure. Reports were good and anticipation was high, despite an early morning departure of 6 a.m. But after only a couple catfish would cooperate it was obvious my crew was losing interest.
So enter a few big ol' carp. They're nasty critters as far as I'm concerned but to novice anglers they put a whopper of a bend in a rod and fight like crazy. That's really all one could expect and half the fun is in the battle no matter what's on the end of the line.
My sister caught a monstrous carp and my niece and nephew caught a few smaller ones, too. It was the only saving grace to a day filled with little catfish success. And even though it's considered a "trash fish" by some there's one giant member of the minnow family in particular that will be remembered for a long time. It trashed my boat and earned my sister the title of "carp queen" for a day...maybe longer.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The walleye bite at Clinton Reservoir had been going strong since the first of July. A buddy had been catching plenty of 'eyes and didn't mind Dylan and I joining him last weekend for an early morning trip. We were on the water by 6:30 a.m. hoping for the best. I sat in the middle of the boat and instructed Dylan on the finer points of pulling spinners. He took charge of our two rods in the back. He got hands-on experience as I left most of the responsibility up to him. He soon learned what to look for in a hit, how much line to let out and when to check his bait.
But for the first two hours he learned nothing of actually CATCHING a fish. Not even a dink. It didn't look good and my buddy wondered aloud if a good thing had come to an end. But we were planning to fish at least 'til noon anyway and kept after it. Dylan probably wasn't real impressed with this "new to him" way of fishing.
Dylan got the hang of running the rods, net and baiting hooks. He learned a lot in a short time. He never complained once about the heat, slow start or being hungry. He was a good student for sure and he's looking forward to the next class no matter the lesson.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
|Nick Neff and Eric Sher with some spider-rigged Hillsdale crappie|
I learned a lot about spider rigging in just five hours. Nick was a great teacher and anxious to share his techniques and tactics which work really well. He and Eric enjoyed catching fish and being on the water. The only thing more impressive than their fish-catching ability was their enthusiasm for the outdoors. They truly enjoyed it.
I enjoyed it, too. It's all good in the end and I'm proof positive you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I had just picked up some catfishing supplies from a small, local sporting goods store on my lunch hour. As I headed for the door I noticed an older, unassuming gentleman in a wheelchair sitting nearby. I nodded and said, "Hello" as I passed.
He responded with, "How's your new puppy doing?"
I stopped in my tracks.
"He's doing well," I said as I turned around. "He's got a ways to go to catch up to his ol' man, though."
"I'm sorry to hear about your old dog," he said with compassion.
We chatted for a bit about dogs, fishing and the like. Although our conversation was brief it was truly refreshing as well as rewarding. The gentleman was pleasant and sincere. And the fact he initiated a conversation to talk about something near-and-dear to me was indeed humbling.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
We targeted a well-known chum hole and dropped anchors. It was a nice morning as I baited every one's hook, a task which keeps me busy with five others in my boat. Shyanne hooked the first fish of the morning and excitement was high. Dylan was next on the board with another feisty channel catfish.
The fishing wasn't fast and furious by any definition. However, we were catching enough and missing plenty more bites to keep things interesting. Over the course of the next few hours we managed to put 19 cats in the livewell weighing between 3 and 5 pounds. We called it a morning about 11 a.m. when the temperature started soaring, kids were getting hungry and the girls in the boat had to find a restroom.
Both Shyanne and Dylan were busy snapping photos on their cell phones to share with their friends when we got back to camp. We took a couple groups shots and it was nice to see the smile on everyones' faces holding up a couple fish. It's always fun to share the experience. The kids and my sister will remember the trip each time they sit down to a fried catfish dinner. They're already looking forward to our next outing in a couple weeks. Hopefully, it will be worth the wait.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Our guide, Travis Barker, picked us up at the dock at 5:30 a.m. the first morning in a boat more suited for the ocean but right at home on Texoma's 90,000 acres. Outfitted with dual 250 hp Yamaha 4-strokes we were stylin' and it didn't take us long to get anywhere. Our first spot didn't yield much, but it wasn't long and news of good fishing spread over the radio. Many of the guides share information and there's usually plenty of fish to go around.
Travis was a flurry of activity trying to keep our four rods in the water as fish bit nearly non-stop. We used live threadfin shad he'd caught prior to picking us up and most times we fished them three to five cranks off the bottom. Stripers typically don't mess around and sometimes hit like a freight train and then act like a runaway one when hooked. My boys had no trouble discerning a hit and we all caught a mess of fish in a hurry. Our limit of 40-fish (10 each) happened almost too fast as we were back at the dock, fish cleaned and headed back to our motel room by 8:30 a.m.
All four of us had a great time. We spent more time on the road than we did fishing, but the overall experience was a package deal. It's nice to do something different and I'm certain I'll have plenty of anxious participants should we do it again.