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Zero to Start

Monday, January 28th, 2019 | Author:

“Bad start makes a good ending” is what one of my employees told me after we had a terrible first day of fieldwork on the farm. I took it as pure rationalization of not doing a good job of preparation. Bad start is what happened today and preparation had nothing to do with it. The fish just did not bite on Lake Enterprise. Jackson and I went even though we knew that the winner of a two day tournament had two fish that weighed 3 pounds. We also knew that Tom fished there five times recently and caught only two fish and he is an ace on Lake Enterprise. We must be a little hardheaded.  Three years ago there I went with Tom and we caught 20 with a water temperature within a degree of what it was today. We caught them in the same places and with the same baits we tried today and in the same spots as we tried today. Recency bias, if you want to call three years recent, may have come into play. Desperation played a part too as I haven’t been fishing in two months. With Tom three years ago:

The bottom line is no fish and even no bites. A bitter pill to swallow on the first trip. I WILL be back!!

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No Fishing Lately But Some Fun Has Been Had

Wednesday, December 05th, 2018 | Author:

On November 24th I ponied up to the hospital to have a hernia fixed. It all went well and was much less painful than I had imagined. I am on the mend but still have to pay attention to doctors orders, lift nothing over 5 pounds. So I am laying low. My tackle bag weighs 18. A couple of days before the operation, I took Mary Grace White, Harley IV’s girlfriend deer hunting in the rain. We drove into the woods in my truck that has street tires and had no problems as the rain had just started. We chose the last covered stand that was available and made the 400 yard walk without getting soaked. Pretty soon a doe walked out and crossed the disked up lane that had a good stand of wheat on it. The deer was at a 90 degree to the way we were pointed and time was spent scooting chairs around to get in the right direction. The deer took that time to cross the lane and get behind a bush. Mary Grace is from Seattle WA and had never held a rifle before. Some instruction before we set out on where to shoot the deer, safety, and how to hold the rifle was accomplished. I felt confident of her competence because his summer she did shoot a crossbow with a scope and bulls eyed the target offhand.

The doe was turned the wrong way and would not cooperate by turning around. About that time a hog, that I estimated at 75 pounds, came out into the other lane.  Again we scooted around and she got lined up for the shot. It was dead on and the hog dropped dead in its tracks, at which time there was much happiness. There was conversation about how good the hog was going to be after spending some time on the grill. Then some smaller hogs came out and one of them bit the dust, or rather mud as it was still raining. After about a minute that one scuffled off into the woods. We stayed a little longer, went back to get the truck, and drove down to the spot, spinning tires all the way. When we drove up, after the first try to lift, I had to go up on my weight estimation to 175 pounds. We struggled, tried a rope and anything else we could come up with to get the hog into the truck without even coming close. Finally as it was getting dark we gave up in disappointment and decided to try to get back to the camp. I was a little worried about the condition of the muddy road but we encountered no trouble. Back at the camp we reported in and when asked where was the hog we said it was still in the woods with a pair of deep ruts leading right to it. A couple of young boys said they would go down and get it for us.  How wonderful ! We went back to the cabin to change clothes and have a celebratory pop. By the time we made it back no one was visible except Rob, that when asked about if the boys found the hog said “its in the cooler”.  Again, how wonderful !

The next day I came and butchered the hog and put it in my freezer. On the day they returned, I had wrapped 1/2 of a backstrap, put it in a ziplock and put it in the checked luggage. It was still frozen on arrival.

What a great time we both had! Just don’t let me judge the weight of the hog you are about to shoot.

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Did It Again

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018 | Author:

Once again Lake Monticello sent me home with a zero. A few years ago I had a great day in October so I went looking for a repeat but I got one of those zero repeats. This is what I have been doing lately but have completed my required herd limiting requirements.

The wind was scheduled to blow at 15 MPH out of the South which means there will be no place to hide from it. I fished some of the North pointing coves by tying up to some of the snags and then fishing around the boat mostly with a swim bait. I hit one spot in 12 to 14 feet of water where I got two bites, one I hung and broke my line the other just grabbed the tail. The line breaking was because of a bad spot on the line because the bait had been dragged over so many limbs and bark. Throwing across the wind was treacherous as the bait would go where you wanted but the line would blow up against the nearest tree with bark still on it and you would become hung.  The Arkansas Game and Fish has done something that I think is really going to help the lake. The water has been lowered for dam repair and the banks are covered with vegetation. They have also cut trees and placed them on the banks especially on points.

I can just see a Ribbit frog coming over those weeds or a Rex spoon coming through them. At the landing I talked to a good fisherman who was willing to share what he was doing. He caught 6 the largest was 4 pounds with a 6 pound head. The larger fish he has caught lately have been skinny. Those 6 were caught by throwing a worm next to trees in 18  to 20 feet of water. The bites would come on the drop, about 10 feet down, as the fish were suspended. Was his first time to fish the lake in about a month but sometime this summer it was three times a week. When he fished last with his wife they caught 27 on Pop R’s. He saw the fish on his sonar about 4 feet deep schooling in the middle of one of the coves and backed off and caught them on top. A very nice guy.  Not a fun day but very educational.

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8 Pounds 1 Ounce

Sunday, October 21st, 2018 | Author:

This 8 -1 is the reason for no fishing posts lately.

  

First grandchild Albert Augustus Redvers Oldham was born October 5th in London. If you notice in the second picture, I have a firm grip on the little tyke because he made a “hoppergrass” move, one of those sudden jumps that babies do, and almost got away.

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Enterprise X2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 | Author:

After a good day, I just could not stand not going back for more even though I knew the last time I went and had a good day and then went back it was a bust. Jackson was working but met me at the ramp to pull the boat off the trailer. While we were talking, we saw some bass hit along the waterfront in front of town. I got out my Ribbit and promptly caught a goggle eye . It almost looked like a small mouth, brown and chunky. I had made a pact with myself that I was going to use my side finder more today to save some time. The plan was to idle by  a spot and see if there were any schooling bass there and if not go to another place. I did that in a couple of spots but then I came to one of the spots from the other day and started casting a DT-6. I had made quite a few casts when some bass came up right beside the boat chasing shad. On the first cast into them a good fish latched on, got halfway to the boat, and came up to the top and got off. Estimated 4 1/2. Started on a sour note but caught 3 more after circling the area a couple of times. The fish were out in the middle of the lake which is full of shad. One of the fish was the FOD  at 3-8.  When it was obvious that things had cooled, I high tailed it for the 72 spot. Did not ride by there and look with the side finder just started casting. I had the depth finder set on the look down mode and was watching it for bass. There were plenty of shad and finally I saw something that looked like a bass so I threw behind the boat. Caught a fish and then another and felt good about that. I kept looking at the depth finder but soon the look down mode malfunctioned.  Rather than picture like viewing I was reduced to the old type soar picture. All other modes worked fine but I had become dependent on the look down and was a little out of sorts. Some other places came to mind but I caught only one straggler. It was getting time for me to quit so on the way to the ramp I stopped at the first place that I caught fish. I tried the look down again just to give it one last chance and somehow it worked. Shortly afterward I caught another fish but saw no others on the depth finder. I was putting up my rods when a bass blasted a shad that was in casting distance. That spot got peppered but no bite was had . It was time to go. Seven bass and a goggle eye. Jackson gave some curb service by coming to the ramp, backing my truck down, and pulling me out. A big thanks for that! He told me that his computer would not start this morning and something electrical in the gin was haywire too. Must have been a small version of a solar storm centered on Wilmot.

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Lake Enterprise

Thursday, September 20th, 2018 | Author:

Not being sure I would be able to arise on time to go fishing, I did not call Jackson and ask him to go fishing . After I got up and was on the way I called him at 6:30 knowing he would be up. He was up but out of town so I went solo. Four rods is usually what I take but today because of the duckweed on Enterprise a fifth rod was added, my frog rod. I started off at 7:45 with a DT-6 and caught two before the third was caught with a Ribbit. About a half hour was wasted after that trying the large patch of duckweed that could be seen from the ramp. I started working the spots away from the ramp and came upon one of Jackson’s favorites that is out in the open. Still using the DT-6, I caught three in a row but could not catch another. I believe they were schooling and the small school just moved off. At that spot I even saw a bass or two chasing bait back in the trees and pursued them but could not make them bite.  Leaving there, I tried another spot or two before going to the place where I caught 72 a year or two ago. First cast, BOOM, a fish. Second cast, BOOM a fish. Third cast, BOOM a fish but it got off the hook. As I reeled up my bait there were three other fish considering biting it. I was convinced I was going to tear them up right there, but I could not get another bite no matter how hard I tried. Another school moving around. I left and tried some other places but returned to the 72 spot. They were biting a little better and around 1:00 it was going on, not catching one every cast but they were doing better. I noticed that they would not bite when the wind was calm, it took a little ripple on the water for the bite to be good. The fish never came up and hit on top . I ended up with 24 at 2:30 and a FOD of 2-13.

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Sunday Afternoon At the Private Hole

Monday, September 17th, 2018 | Author:

Went to early church Sunday so the afternoon was free to go fishing. At noon when I arrived there were five deer in the road and as I made it to my cabin I passed a collared bear, looking like someones pet, walking in a neighbors front yard. All of this activity told me the animals were active, and that meant the fish too. Loaded up the trusty Jeep and started out. It has been a long time since I fished the private hole last so I knew the boat was far from the water and that before the day was over the rack would have to be moved to a steeper location.  In preparing to launch the boat I noticed a string hanging over the transom. It was what I had tied to the plug and it had been untied. Someone had stolen my plug or borrowed it and forgot to return it! I prefer the word STOLEN. The other boat at the landing did not have a plug so the only thing for me to do was go back to the cabin and get one out of the other small boat there. It took almost and hour of time when the fish were biting. Returning, I laid some sticks behind the boat and pushed it to the water at around 2:00 while still muttering some unmentionable names of the thieves. I started with a DT-6 and caught one right away, but only one in that spot. Moving down the bank I came upon another in a spot where there are usually more than one. Fishing farther down I had put on a worm and caught one in a place that looks good but has produced not a fish this year. When I fished the other side of the top a fish bit and on the hook set the fish was became tangled in an old vine. The fish was still on but could not get the line loose from the vine. I hurried over and pulled up the vine to where I could see the fish and there was another larger one there trying to get the bait too. It all finally came loose but the big fish was gone and 8 more casts to the spot could not entice it to bite.  About that time an alligator in the 8 to 10 foot range slid off of a high bank into the water. It was right in a place I wanted to fish so I eased over after the creature left and crossed to the other side which was about 50 yards away. As I fished, the alligator began to growl or bellow. It stayed put but I noticed that it blew itself up with air when it growled and floated much higher in the water. Caught a couple more in that general area but then went into a long drought where I went almost all the way around the hole without a bite. Knowing I had to move the rack and winch, the cut off time was 5:00 and it was almost upon me. I was back on the DT-6 and one hit close to the boat and almost took the rod out of my hand.  It was a goo. Fudging a little on my time fishing continued and another hard bite but this time it was the 4-1 FOD which I was glad to see. Only caught 7 but got the rack moved to a spot where as the water falls I will not have to worry about getting the boat to the water.

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Chicot

Friday, September 14th, 2018 | Author:

Started fishing on Lake Chicot at 3:30 Thursday afternoon with no idea what is going on on the lake. Went to a dependable spot and saw no bass activity but plenty of shad. When the Booyah would hit the water shad would scatter everywhere.  Caught one where I was hoping to catch 15. Also hooked a LARGE silver carp in the tail with a red eye shad and had quite a tussle until the hook finally came out. Was scared of losing the bait. Went to another spot that is usually good. It had so many shad I had problems getting the bass to notice my bait. They were present and periodically hitting at shad. Caught one and had a hard puller take it down and hang it in the crack of the post. Only other excitement was an eagle flew across the lake from the town of Lake Village going East. Quit at 6:00 with 2 bass.

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Oh Canada

Sunday, September 09th, 2018 | Author:

Hal has been making a fishing trip to Canada’s Lac La Croix for, I think, 17 years with a year skipped for a quadruple bypass.

His first trips were in a canoe and camping after a couple of portages. He then started staying at Zup’s Resort which is something right down my alley.

We drove from Hernando , MS for 15 hours to Eveleth, MN and spent the night in preparation for an hour drive to our 8:30 pickup by boat. Going through Wisconsin we saw this bear on the side of the road and circled back for a photo. We got to within 50 yards or so before the bear noticed us and bolted back into the woods. The phone camera has it as a dot on the right of the road.

We reached the pickup point and got into a boat with a top and a rack with canoes on it and a big outboard. Jan our lady driver could really wheel that speeding boat down the winding river. I was in awe. We drove to the border where we stopped at another dock.  A Canadian customs officer came out and checked our passports, asked a few questions, and sent us on our way. A picture from inside the boat  and then a picture of one of the narrow spots we went through, albeit very slowly. We then came to a dock and all got out while the boat was driven onto a waiting trolley pulled by a cable.

   

The whole thing was then portaged about 300 yards to the river on the other side. We walked over on a rocky path where we boarded the boat for another stretch of river to another portage that put the boat into Lac La Croix where it took us to Zup’s Resort. Zup’s is owned and operated by the Zuponovitch (might be misspelled) family. The father, mother, and now a daughter are involved in its operation. I knew I was going to like it from the start. The dock boys were on the dock at out arrival and would not let us touch any of our gear. I was especially grateful for that as I really didn’t know what tackle to bring so I just brought it all and then some. My tackle was so heavy it made me resolve to go through every compartment when I returned home and take out everything that is unnecessary. They hauled it all to our comfortable cabin while we signed in. The cabin where we stayed had two bedrooms, a bath with a tub or shower, another large room with two small beds where we could sit and work on our fishing equipment. The cabin was only a few steps from both a boat dock and the lodge where we dined, and did we dine. Breakfast at 6:30 and dinner at 6:00. The food was good and so plentiful I couldn’t eat it all. Because when I was young I was encouraged to eat everything on my plate, I felt guilty leaving so much on my plate but my capacity is limited.

   

  The photos are a few of the main courses we had. The club sandwich was the only lunch we ate at the lodge, the rest being sandwiches, fruit and chips we took with us fishing so we wouldn’t have to stop fishing for lunch. Included in the photos are baked chicken over wild rice, barbecued ribs fried walleye (yum), peanut butter pie, and breakfast of eggs bacon and fruit. I was impressed by the soups each night at dinner. Each one was different and delicious. The employees at Zup’s were all just as nice as could be, always wanting to do something to help. The young ladies that served were excellent and most pleasant. One was from New Zealand and had come to work there as had her boyfriend.

After we signed in it was a race to get all of our rods and reels put together so we could fish that afternoon. Our boat was waiting at the dock. It was an almost brand new Lund 16 foot pointed prow boat with a 30 HP Yamaha 4 stroke motor. It had a Minkota 55 pound trolling motor with electric steering. Being used to a cable steering trolling motor, it took us a little time to figure out the electric steering. It ended up that the electric was easier for fishing there but I don’t think it would work here. The seats in the boat were very comfortable and the front one could be moved to the center for when you were running. I looked at boats of that style because I have a flat bottomed boat that will beat you to death in the waves. I wondered how a pointed prow boat would fish. It did well and took the waves like a champ. A couple of photos of the boat, one with the noble guide employing his binoculars looking for lily pads in a cove.

  

There were no days we could not fish because of the weather although one day we came in for dinner because it rained all morning but had quit by lunch. We just put on dry clothes and pressed on. The temperatures were terrific, 36 degrees the last morning we fished but we were back in our fishing shirts by 9:30.

Usually I have a good sense of directions, but for some reason, on this trip all that went out the window. Everything up there looks the same and there are hundreds of islands, most looking just like all the others. Good thing I had an experienced guide. Did I mention rocks? Everything is rock. The lake was made by glaciers and many of the huge rocks are are still laying where the  glaciers put them. Twenty feet in front of the rock face in the first photo it was 50 feet deep. In the second photo that thing that looks like a log sticking out to the side of the island is a rock.

 

The main fish we were trying to catch was the small mouth bass, or brownie as they are known . They are considered an undesirable fish as most people want to catch walleye or lake trout. They are also a fighter, I believe stronger than our largemouth and with more stamina. The water there had about 8 foot visibility and was around 70 degrees. We wanted to get as much top water fishing as we could but sometimes the wind would not allow it.  Our main baits were Ribbits, Whopper Ploppers, spinner baits, and swim jigs. I used a jerk bait a little but caught my biggest brownie on it. When a smallmouth bit a Ribbit, instead of making your line move like a largemouth , they would just sit there and chew on it. I tried to let them have it because their mouths are smaller but I would never see my line move. I finally would just set the hook sometimes on a fish, sometimes on air.

   

The first photo is of a fish I just held up in the sun so its beautiful colors could be seen. The second is of a 3 pound fish that I caught on a Ribbit. You can see the lily ads in the background. The third is of a 3 3/4 pound brownie caught on a jerk bait. The last is of Hal with the largest brownie of the trip that weighed 4 pounds. Overall I would have to say that spinner baits were the bait that caught the most fish. The smallmouth loved to hang around big rocks. If you could see a rock just under the water that was in water 6 to 8 feet deep, that was the spot.

And then there were the Northern Pike. The pike were the riffraff of the North somewhat like the gar down here but a little better. They have a bad temperament and are very aggressive biters. Many times rather than hit the bait directly they might jump over it and if they miss, just keep the bait moving they might hit it four more times eventually getting hooked. Once hooked they put up a good fight and are generally not through when they get to the boat. Did I mention they had teeth, and plenty of them. On my Whopper Plopper (a pricey bait) I used a small wire leader that saved my bait from loss but not from the effects of those sharp teeth.

   

As you can see they have plenty of teeth and are a hazard to your lures unless you have a leader. Hal said you would not lose many spinnerbaits usually. I took him at his word but still used some baits I never usually use. At first, if I thought it was a pike I pulled my bait out of the way. They were fun to catch so I got over that pretty quickly. The pike weeded out my old baits better than I would have and relieved me of a few ounces of spinnerbaits and a few hooks and Ribbit  frogs. The third picture is of a small pike just to show their pretty markings. It also shows where to grab one, holding them there is like the “sleeper hold” one of the TV wrestlers used to put on his opponent, except this one really works. The last one is of a pike Hal caught that I think weighed five pounds. The first one in the next to pictures is of one Hal caught that weighed 8 pounds and one I caught that weighed 10 pounds. After it got in the boat the 10 pounder opened its mouth and cut its way out of the landing net and got loose in the boat and had to be corralled with the Boca grip. After they get to the boat they are like John Paul Jones who when asked to surrender said “Sir, I have just begun to fight”.

 

Edward, upon hearing we were catching some pike, sent me this recipe for Vicorian pike from The Field magazine 1854:

Open your pike, rub him within with salt and claret wine; save the milt, a little of the blood and fat; cut him in two or three pieces and put him in when the water boils; put him in with sweet marjoram,savory, thyme or fennel, with a good handful of salt; let him boil for near half-an-hour. For sauce take sweet butter, anchovies, horse radish, claret wine, of each good quantity; a little blood ,shallot or garlic, some lemon sliced; beat them well together and serve him.

For me, throw out the pike, leave out the blood and eat the sauce.

We fished hard for 6 1/2 days, usually from about 7:30 a.m. to just before 6:00 p.m. . We caught 278 fish for an average of almost 43 per day. I consider that a very good fishing trip.

This is a photo of an eagle that we saw soaring high in the sky. I caught a small pike and we decided to see if the eagle would come down and get it. Hal held it up and whistled a couple of times. You could see by the eagle’s actions that it was interested so Hal hummed the pike out into the water after we had “anesthetized” it with a pair of pliers so it would stay on top of the water. The bird came diving down and circled the pike just over our heads, very close. Really neat to see a bird that big in close. It was a little nervous down that near the boat so I hit the trolling motor to get away from the fish. The eagle soared back down, picked the fish out of the water, and came flying by the boat where we could see the fish’s tail blowing in the wind. I was marveling at the whole thing but thank goodness Hal was on his game and took the picture just as the eagle had picked up the fish.
The morning we left was by a different route known as the Dawson portage. We were taken by boat to a small dock where we could see old vehicles on the bank. We brought an extra battery with us. The vehicle cranked and the trek started out on a road with alternating rocks and mud holes, some of which almost went down to the frame. We passed the old vehicle graveyard with about 10 dead trucks pulled out into the weeds. The bushes and trees on each side of the road were constantly brushing the sides of the truck. The government will not let them improve the road. It took a long time, never out of low range to make the 4 1/2 mile trip to a dock on the other side where we were met by a jet boat to take us to our starting point, customs, and the car.
Hal had all the details planned out for a fun and memorable trip. It was outstanding.

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Divine Providence

Friday, August 24th, 2018 | Author:

Thursday morning I launched on Lake Ferguson at about 7:00 and went straight to the shallow bank in the upper lake with intentions of perhaps catching a fish or two on a top water. It didn’t take long to see that plan was not going to work so I put on a redeye shad and continued along that bank. The redeye I chose was one that Hal and I found on Pickwick hanging in a tree 10 feet above the water, too high for anyone to reach. I had my “gitter pole ” that is about 13 feet long with a hook on the end so pulling it down was easy. With new hooks it is ready to go. The redeye caught the skunk chaser pretty quick which caused me to hang around in that area for a few more casts. Just when I was planning to leave a 4 – 9 latched on with a forceful bite. When I put my hand in its mouth, it shook and its teeth decimated the tender area between my thumb and forefinger. Bleeding, but trying to catch another I continued, but none showed up. I resigned myself to leave and another small bass fell to the redeye.  Relocation was in order and on the other side of the lake was a good spot. Some treetops were a place for a Booyah and it worked on one but missed two more. There was nothing in a couple of deep water spots so I figured shallow was the game and sure enough, in the chute another small one was caught on the spinner bait. That was enough for me to continue longer than I should have with no bites. By now , it was around 10:00, and as the day got a little hotter I felt a little deeper would work. At the 70 spot there was activity and one grabbed the DT-6 and as it came to the boat another was trying to take the bait out of its mouth. Just what I like to see. The school must have been moving  because I only caught three before things got quieter. I moved along the bank with the DT-6 until I came to a tree top in shallow water and caught one but no more. Just or fun, I threw a Booyah to the top and a 4 – 4 scarfed it.  A couple more came from there and some misses. After a couple more shallow fish, the total was up to 14. While fishing down the bank concentrating on shallow tops that stuck out I had a small backlash that I just wound up on the reel because the bait was up in the top and would get hung in a spot I might not be able to reach. To straighten the backlash out I just made a light cast out into the open water. As the backlash was being pulled out and the bait laying on the bottom the line became wrapped around the depthfinder  and about that time the wind started to blow. A real screw up in the making. The backlash was out but I could not reel. With the boat moving and dragging the bait I was afraid of the bait becoming hung. The line tightened up so I pulled it to keep from becoming hung up but it pulled back and the fish jumped. I forgot about the fish and concentrated on getting the mess straightened out. Finally I reeled in the fish. If one was out in the open, there may be more, so I investigated with a DT-6. Twelve fish later I finally decided to leave for the ramp after trying a lot more places that look just like that one. Nothing in those other places. It was lucky that that backlash happened or I would have just passed that school of fish by without even knowing they were there. Total of 27 bass with a FOD of 4 – 9. Best 5 fish, 18 1/2 pounds.

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