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Sunday, October 27, 2019

A big walleye from last night. On the Ohio River off a 45 degree rocky bank about an hour before daylight. I also saw another guy catch a fish about the same size about a half an hour before mine hit. Shallow in maybe three or four feet of fairly swift water. On a minnow plug I've been testing for Vic fished slowly against the current casting along the bank instead of across the stream. I think right now we are just starting the best time to catch big eyes. Walleye and saugeye and sauger migrate over the winter upstream and stage below both lowhead dams on medium sized rivers and big hydro dams on the Ohio where at the end of winter they spawn. At night all winter you can usually find them feeding on these shallow rocky banks if you are stealthy.

A bit of carping

Out in the garage I have an old freezer which holds all the stuff Brenda wont let me keep in the other deep freeze. Zip lock baggies of shad and cut bait for catfish. And baggies of leftovers, rice, beans, corn, bread, that kind of thing for carp. Well the thing was starting to fill up, time to go carping. Into a five gallon bucket went the leftovers, a bit of vegetable oil and a couple cups of corn meal. I like all the chum bits to be coated in oil and corn meal so there is constantly a smell and tiny bits dispersing thru the water. Bait was some boilies I made about a month ago and also put in the freezer. These I made out of flour, corn meal, eggs, anchovy paste, and vanilla. Form a dough roll it into little balls and boil. It's kinda fun if you are in the mood.
The rig is a flat no roll sinker, usually 1 1/2 or 2 ounces above a swivel and then a rubber band is tied in a knot around the line above the sinker to keep the sinker from sliding on the line. Then to the swivel is tied about an 8 or 10 inch leader to the hook. The boilie is not hooked on the hook but instead is attached with what is called a hair rig. Which basically means the boilie is tied off snug against the bend of the hook but the hook is free. There are a million you tube videos which show you how it is done. Then Mr. Carp sucks in the boilie and the hook sticks in his mouth when he tries to blow it back out or swim off. Then in his panic he runs and sets the hook against the heavy sinker. I'm usually a bit of a cheapskate but since the hook has to be super sharp to hook the fish on it's own I buy the best I can find in a size 6 or 8. There are several live bait hooks and specialty carp hooks that do a wonderful job, just buy a high end one. The pretty much look like a circle hook without the point turned in.
So I hit a section of river that is kind of a shallow flat but that still has a reasonably firm bottom that is out of the main current. I then broadcast the chum from the bucket as far out as I could throw it. Around the sinker and swivel I loosely packed some of this mix so that when I cast out the boilie there would for sure be chum lying all about it. This big mess I then lobbed into the middle of my chum bed set the rod into a forked stick, flipped the lever over on the baitrunner and sit back and watched the river while I waited for a fish.
Like usual it took a while for things to start up. The carp have to find the chum and then feed comfortably till they gain confidence before they will take your boilie. Because they are so plentiful and widely distributed in the US it is easy to overlook the fact that they are in fact among the smartest of all fish and actually not that easy to catch.
But once the action started it was pretty steady. Unfortunately this trip the fish ran a it on the small size averaging four or five pounds with the one decent one you see in the photo. If you have never tried it don't knock it. You can reasonably expect to catch a dozen extremely hard fighting fish from five to ten pounds on the average trip with the prospect of a big fish or two thrown in during the warmer months. In cold weather you will probably catch less but it seems like you have a better chance of a big fish. Try it you will like it.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Fishing with Goggins

So one of my personal heroes is David Goggins. It's actually realistic to say that David Goggins might just be the toughest man alive in the world today. I didn't say the most athletic or the best fighter or the best whatever, no just the toughest. David Goggins was a fat 300lb guy with a dead end job who looked in the mirror and said f#*k you, you pathetic loser this is not acceptable. in the next year he's 106 pounds lighter and a navy seal. And then goes thru Ranger school. David Goggins saw combat in Afghanistan then comes home and decides I'm not done. He becomes an world class ultramarathoner, races ultra long distance bicycle races, breaks the world record for pullups in 24 hours. 4030 chin-ups in one day. And lots more I can't remember off the top of my head. And he accomplished all this not thru talent but thru being tougher than anyone else, taping his ankles up when he has stress fractures, racing with piss and poop all over him because he's been too hurt to go to the bathroom but too mentally tough to quit the race. Elite athletes who have trained with the guy are in awe of his drive and obsession. He preaches that in the Seals if you had to go thru a door and clear a house there's never any doubt you are going thru the door. And if you're going thru the door anyway don't be remembered as the guy who barely opened the door and peeked in scared who was killed. Be the guy who went thru the door like a hero, with everything they had. And you need to do that with everything you do in life. If it's not worth being completely obsessed over it's not worth doing at all, if you are going to go thru the door with anything don't halfass, it go thru the damn door.

Whats this ultramarathoner  got to do with fishing? Obsession. Drive. Five years is 1825 days. I fished at least some on 1112 of those. Two days out of three. And I've done this for decades, it's just who I am. Like right now this time of year thru say January with my work schedule and short days I might only fish two or three times a week, summertime with long days and warm weather I might fish five or ten or twenty days in a row. Rain? Go fishing. Snow? Go fishing. Flooding waters? Go fishing.

I'm not very talented. People probably post a couple times a week I wish I could fish like you. I wish I could catch big fish like you. No you don't. I'm not using any secret technique or secret lure. I just go enough. Enough to know before I even go what I should do that day, What the river looks like, what the fish are doing today, where are the fish. To quote David Goggins talent is not required. What is required is the will to go. To fail and fail and fail and fail. Till eventually you learn where the fish are, what the river really is. Till in one of the suckiest parts of the country to fish you catch smallmouth like you are fishing Erie or the Susquehanna or the New.

Google David Goggins. Listen to what he says and apply it to whatever you are passionate about in life, cooking, fishing, rock climbing, backpacking, selling shoes, it doesn't matter he will change your life. Just be warned, he is the least politically correct person on earth. You will hear hundreds of curse words, you will hear truth. No "oh you are just big" No, your fat mother%$@#.  David Goggins makes you look in the mirror and see the truth. And says it's okay to be obsessed, it's okay to give everything you have to get to whatever goals you have in life. Even something as silly as learning your own little creek better than anyone else ever has.

Monday, October 21, 2019

lovely fall day

What perfect weather. It's just a joy to be alive on an evening like this. An evening where it's easy to be lazy. Which was how I started out. Like one of those old dogs you see on a country road that doesn't see much traffic. Where the old guy is just lying there in the sun right in the middle of the road hoping no one comes along and makes him move. Which is how I started out. I'd sleepily cast this minnow plug of Vic's across and upstream give it a couple sharp yanks to get it down then slowly work it back. Watching for deer across the river and listening to the tapping of a woodpecker back in the woods. You could tell it was coming though, there was bait everywhere. Constantly a baitfish or two would skip away spooked by the minnow plug if nothing else. There was just too much food here, the fish will come. The sun dropped a bit in the sky and the river turned to obsidian black and you could no longer see into the clear water. And as the light turned into that beautiful golden light that photographers love there was about a half an hour or so where the minnow plug had a hard time getting back before something would nail it. I've said it before but it's worth repeating. When this happens I try anymore to take a second and admire each fish before turning it loose. It's too easy to unhook and throw it back without even looking at it in our rush to catch another. Then the light lost it's golden magic and so did the fishing. I cast a bit longer as night fell on the river but nothing was happening now. A flock of geese flew upriver feeling the whole valley with noise. And then a great blue heron, looking like a pterodactyl in slilouette against the sky. The leaves crunched loud underfoot walking out in the dark. Not much is better than being on the river in fall.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fishing with the Huldre

Since fishing gets me out at odd hours when normal right thinking people are home asleep in their beds and fishing also gets me out off the beaten paths it seems like every year the most interesting people I meet are people I run into out fishing. So, I'm in one of those beer, bait, broasted chicken and gas stations somewhere down in Pike or Scioto county. It's 1030 in the morning Saturday and I've just drug a deer out and I want to eat, drop the deer off and go fishing. (Yeah, the perfect day, I know.) So I ask the lady behind the counter if it's too early to get a sandwich. She replies Honey is there ever a bad time for a sandwich? I lean against a rack of off brand potato chips and listen while she talks to me about her mother while she makes my order. (Ham and spinach, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, on dark rye. Perfection) It seems her mom used to warn her not to wander too far into the woods because the Huldre would get her. They were Danish and legend had it that back in the day God visited their little village in the woods. One mom with a lot of small children didn't have time to wash all her children before God got there and hid some of them in the woods. God decreed these unwashed children were to always haunt the woodlands. A warning to children every where to wash up and stay out of the woods I guess. As she wrapped up my sandwich and rang me up she said softly she never knew she would end up living where every living soul seemed to be a Huldre. Smelling of woodsmoke with deer blood on my jeans I certainly didn't have room to talk.
Later pulled off beside the river I googled a bit on my phone while eating my sandwich. It seems the Huldre or Huldra are woodland versions of mermaids tempting men to wander out into the woods and never return. Looking at the turning leaves and the clear water of the river I can think of worse fates than wandering these hilly woods in Southern Ohio hill country forever.
The fishing was just what it's supposed to be with these water temperatures, which is to say it was great. I'm testing a minnow plug my brother is thinking of having made and today the fish love it. I'd reel it fast for a foot or two then full stop before burning it again. You would start cranking again and the rod would load up or fish would launch skyward. These precious fall days are simply as good as life gets around here and I'd come here for the great fishing rather than any great truths or woodland spirits though I guess you could find either here among the worn weathered stones and fallen sycamore leaves along the creek. The experience of stream fishing smallmouth will never be better than it is right now, get out there and get you some while it lasts.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

How to build a fire.

So a friend texted me the other day. A bit of a new to the outdoors kind of person. Well they were outside, had a bunch of paper and were trying to start a fire and couldn't. I honestly think your average person anymore without lighter fluid or gas or something similar would really struggle to start a fire out in the woods with nothing but say a lighter or some matches.
So here's my little short course on getting it done. We are going to use a lighter and a pocket knife. Because well you should always carry a pocket knife, if you don't have one go out and get one. Better would be a nice fixed blade sheath knife but a pocket knife works. First, short of using a blowtorch you are just not going to get anything going bigger than a pencil. You really want stuff much smaller than that.
Look around, usually somewhere close to you is always drier and better drained than anywhere else. Walk over and look closely at the ground, even if you dont see sticks or limbs there are usually tiny sticks smaller than a matchstick down to say a third that diameter lying about in any woods. Gather as much of that as you can. You really cannot get too much. A nice big bunch that you would have a hard time fitting in a brown paper lunch sack would be ideal. Okay now lets try and find some good stuff. Are there any small dead bushes about? In most woods small trees and bushes are continuously sprouting up only to get shaded out and die when they are about head high. If not look for small dead branches on larger trees. If you find enough of these you can skip the first step of gathering tiny stuff off the ground. Break these up into short, say ten inch lengths and sort according to size. You want again a nice healthy pile of each size. Its much better to have too much than run out and have your fire die. All of the work in building a fire is in the preparation. Now take a few of your sticks that are say as big around as your thumb and carefully shave off some till just the end of each shaving is attached. Then repeat over and over till the end of your stick has a big wad of shavings attached. This is called a featherstick BTW. Any shavings you cut off you should save too. If its wet these will be your main fire starters. In damp conditions using the pocket knife to shave down sticks will expose the dry inside wood so your fire will take.
So lets start our fire. Lay down a layer of sticks side by side as big around as your wrist to create a little platform to build your fire on. In the center leave out say three sticks so you can put your match or lighter under your small stuff to light it. On top of this platform lie a big double handfull of your smallest driest material and or any loose shavings you shaved off with your knife. Under this bundle of stuff hold your lighter or match till this tiniest stuff starts.
On top of this, as it burns carefully lean your shaved sticks and small sticks in a tepee. Adding bigger and bigger material till you have a fire.
All of this is a lot easier with a fire starter of some sort. I personally am a huge fan of cotton balls and Vaseline. Smear some Vaseline on cotton balls then shred the cotton balls as you work the Vaseline into them. they start super easy and burn long enough to start and even dry out small tinder like tiny twigs or shavings you have made with your knife. They then smash down to nearly nothing and you can stow a ziplock baggie of them in your daypack or even in your car and never know they are there. just pull out a bit, fluff it back up and you are ready to go.  The shavings in the photo were made with a cheap 4 dollar Walmart knife. You don't need a survival knife and beautiful feather sticks you have created to start a fire though it certainly makes the job easier. Again we are not trying to recreate the wheel here or get too fancy and go into flint and steel or ferrocerium rods or other cool stuff like that, we are just talking the average joe thru a simple fire with a bic lighter.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Wakefield Indian Mound

Visited the mound cemetery this past week in Pike County, Ohio. Four distinct mounds that are all connected at their bases in a way I've never seen before. From what I've read they were built by the Adena people who lived the area from 1000 to 200 bc.  I was a bit disappointed to see gravestones on the mounds themselves till I looked a bit closer. The tallest mound is probably 30 feet tall and has a stone right at the peak. But the stone is pretty amazing too. Its the stone of Lt colonel John Guthery who was born in 1744 and died in 1823. He was in the Pennsylvania militia during the revolutionary war. In fact the whole section around the mounds are covered in graves dating to the 1800's. There are several revolutionary war, war of 1812, and civil war veterans buried here and it's just about the most interesting cemetery I've poked around in despite it's small size. The history just keeps going and going. In addition to the indian mounds and old gravestones the place is right at the confluence where an ancient stream connected to the Teays river. The Teays was like a preglacial version of the Ohio river and drained this whole part of the country. The New River and Kanawha in West Virginia follow the path of the Teays but then in it's lower reaches it ran more northerly than the Ohio river and the flowed North thru the valley the Scioto flows south in now. At the old confluence here the tiny Big Beaver Creek now joins the Scioto. As far as I know no real scientific work has ever been done at the mounds but back in the day some locals dug into one of the small mounds and found a girl buried there wrapped in bark. It's not more than a minute off route 32 so if you are out that way it's an easy and quick visit.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The perfect storm

If conditions were ever going to be perfect this was going to be it. Right time of year, right water temperature, full moon, clear water, storm front moving in, jeepers it doesn't get any better than that. There was just one problem, by the time I got off work there was only going to be a few hours of daylight left. And THE SPOT was the spot because it was a royal pain to get to and if it took an hour to get there and an hour to get out what was I going to fish, a half hour?
The answer was to spend the night at the spot and thus fish till dark and get out in the morning.  But there was a front blowing in. Mid thirties for the low. Correction MID THIRTIES and RAIN! Did I mention to me this seemed like the best day of the year to fish?
So I loaded the yak with a tarp, rope, a rain parka and my insulated bibs I deer hunt in. Shelter was as fast as I could put one up. Three poles tied together in  a tripod, two legs five or six feet long and the third maybe fifteen. Over the long leg I tied the tarp and out front piled as much firewood as I could get. Good enough time to fish.
OMG. Right on the edge of the riffle you could literally see smallmouth chasing minnows, flashing in the clear water and two small 7 or 8 inch fish clearing the water they were slashing at bait so hard. Five minutes in and the medium fast action Little Miami Rod was bent into a C as a giant smallmouth ripped off drag. A minute or two later it came off right at my feet, and I remember thinking well there went my chance. Wrong. The last hour till dark was one long feeding frenzy with I dunno three or four more fish Ohio were landed. Including the big girl you see in two photos. All on a smoke metalflake three inch grub on a 1/4 ounce jighead. Right at dark it started to rain. I started the fire as fast as I could and really piled on the wood. The good news was right behind camp was where in floods the river left all its debris so there was a huge supply of wood. Which really was the only reason I'd risked camping on the river on a night like this. An hour ago I was in a tee shirt now the wind was blowing hard and I could already see my breath as I pulled on bibs and parka. The wind and rain was making a h#&! of a racket on the tarp and gusts of wind had the bonfire throwing off showers of sparks halfway across the river. It was going to be a long night. I would get cold every hour or two wake and crawl out to pile wood on the fire. When I woke about five thirty it was calm and thousands of stars shown in a clear dark sky as the moon set. Out of my pack I dug a container of nightcrawlers and with my back to fire caught a couple decent channels. After every fish I'd warm my freezing hands on the fire and I thought I'd better check the temperature on my phone. 35 degrees. 35 degrees, rain and wind, it had been one heck of a night. But totally worth it, that last hour the evening before was as good as I've ever seen it. The fishing was slow right at daylight and I had family obligations so I left early but not before watching two beautiful deer cross the river thru the mist. It was the kind of adventure you always dream of but so seldom actually get to experience.

Monday, October 7, 2019

This weekend I spent camped out on our land in Scioto County doing a little bit of deer hunting and fishing. My old friend Mr. Bear is still hanging around, I found some hair he had rubbed off scratching his back on a tree and I'm pretty sure I heard him prowling around camp one night. At least something rather big was circling camp in the dry leaves and I cant imagine a deer being that interested in camp. Probably the smell of a grilled cheese sandwich cooked on the fire lured him in.  The highlight of the camping tho had to be a big pale green fireball that slid across the night sky. My land sits down in a little valley and no lights are visible at night in this deeply rural setting and the meteor literally lit up the sky. It was easily one of the best I've seen on the hundreds of nights I've spent out in places like this. Probably ranking just behind a spectacular meteor show years ago when I counted meteors by the hundreds and a magical night sky in the boundary waters aglow with the northern lights.
Then Sunday saw me chased out of the tree right after daylight by a strong thunderstorm so I spent the entire day fishing. First on a beautiful tiny creek full of spotted bass that came readily to small topwater plugs and then on a larger stream where smallmouth bass hammered a chartreuse metalflake grub. Stream fishing doesn't get much finer than October though I have a feeling this just might be the last trip of wading wet this year. If you can get on your favorite stream right now, its the best fishing of the year in many ways.

This week in oldcountry stores.