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!
Friday, January 27, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Each of these fish species can be caught on a number of reservoirs right now and the action can get hot and heavy. Huge numbers of fish, along with some big ones, aren't uncommon if you catch the right day without a howling wind. Even freezing temperatures of 32 degrees are tolerable if you dress for the occasion and winds are light.
Most fish can be found in or around brush, on river channel breaks or other changes in bottom contours like points, jetties or near standing timber. The best news is once you find one there's a good chance it's not alone.
I like casting or fishing vertical with a 7-foot medium-light action spinning rod. Favorite lures include any number of 3-5-inch swim baits on 1/4-ounce jig heads and spoons. Contact with the bottom on retrieves or jigging is crucial as many schools will stack up and cover it in 15-30 feet of water.
Just a couple words of warning for this time of year. The water temperature is in the mid-30's right now and a slight misstep can prove deadly in minutes. If possible, don't fish alone. It's a good idea to wear a lifejacket. If your boat doesn't have a ladder, tie a rope with a loop on the bottom to a cleat that you could reach from the outside to aid in getting back into the boat. As a last resort you can stand on the motor and raise yourself up with the tilt button on the side of most newer motors. Be careful about footing around icy ramps and rocks. A little caution will go a long way to having a safe and enjoyable outing.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
So with a little time over the holidays my kids accompanied me on another journey. We put out 19 traps and all but a couple were geared primarily at raccoons. We caught raccoons, possums and skunks, although our totals were a bit disappointing based on past history in the same place during similar conditions.
But New Year's Day brought a big surprise when I went to check traps. My boys had friends spend the night and I couldn't haul all of them on my ATV. So my 19-year-old daughter, Ashley, who was home from her first year of college gladly accepted the invite. She's always game for keeping me company on many outdoor adventures and we headed out.
Midway through our check we found a skunk in one of our traps. We neared the end and I feared we wouldn't have anything else. However, when I rounded the corner of the creek to check the last trap I was surprised at what I didn't see.
The large tree branch that had my trap attached to it was gone. Drags like this are commonly used as anchors and I didn't look far and there was my trap...with my first bobcat in it!
Ashley was as excited as I was with our first cat. Although numerous and common (Kansas tagged more than 4,800 cats last season, the seventh highest total ever) these animals aren't routinely caught by most trappers. I was fortunate and lucky to get one and learned that only 22 cats had been caught in Harvey County last year. The 25 pound tom was a healthy looking specimen with beautiful fur.
Ashley called home and told her brothers of our success. They met us at the truck when we pulled into the driveway and wanted all the details. They had to check out the cat and kept saying they wished they had been along, too. I did, too, but it was nice to share the outdoor experience with my daughter as well.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
"Oh, are we going to take YOUR boat?" I joked.
After three days of beautiful, mostly windless weather Friday's start was different. The forecast called for big winds which don't bode well for holding a jig steady in a brush pile waiting on a crappie bite. Plus, it was going to be cold with the wind chill. I pushed back our departure time to about noon hoping the weatherman was correct and the wind would subside towards sunset.
Ashley, a buddy and I arrived at the ramp and the wind was blowing 21 gusting to 32 mph. Ouch. Not many places to go to avoid it so we stayed in the cove for a while and tried our luck somewhat out of the wind. Nothing. An hour or so later the wind calmed down a little and we headed out to the main lake where the action had been good. But my boat was still bouncing 2-3 feet with each wave making it difficult to stay on a spot. Ashley caught the first crappie but her feat has an asterisk as she thought she had a stick. The wind died a little more and I was able to control the boat. But the fish weren't there this day and we only had a handful to show for our efforts.
I struck out for greener pastures a little after 4 p.m. and found another likely looking spot. It wasn't long and I quickly realized I wished we'd abandoned the original game plan much sooner. The action was steady and all three of us were catching fish, mostly crappie but an occasional white bass or two. A blue and chartreuse plastic tube on a 1/8-ounce jig head was producing well for me and Ashley and my buddy was catching them on black and pink. I commented aloud how nice the weather was now and said it was "balmy."
But she never whimpered and we fished until dark. In an hour's time we'd caught about 40 crappie. Our biggest fish were 12 1/2 to 13 inches and most were just nice fish that make perfect fillets. They'd look remarkable sizzling in hot grease. It was truly a beautiful ending to a very fine day.
As I waited for my buddy to back my truck and trailer down the ramp Ashley and I chatted in the boat.
"Did you have a good birthday, Dad?" she asked.
"One of the best!" I said. "Thanks for taking me!"