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I’m about to share one of the most fun recipes that you’ll ever come across! Proof? Okay, it requires that you go fishing...how’s that? It’s a cooler than normal August in Texas, but it's still August in Texas...Brutal heat that doesn’t really go away even at night. When I arise dark and early, I count is a blessing if the temp is below 80 and the humidity below 90. The heat and what to do about it is a standard part of every conversation. Well, here’s one of my favorite ways to battle the heat of a Texas summer. Ceviche!!!
Ceviche is a cold salad or salsa of sorts that includes any number of different ingredients, according to your personal taste, but one common denominator is FRESH fish or shellfish. Oh sure, you could visit the fish market and pick up some shrimp for your ceviche, but for less money, and in my opinion, equally great in taste when used in ceviche, sand bass or white bass or maybe they’re called silver bass where you come from, are delicious! Plus, you're way more likely to have a boat or a friend with a boat capable of catching up with some "sandies" than you are a shrimp boat so...let's go shopping...I mean, fishing!
Sand bass are plentiful in these United States, found in waters from Canada to the gulf coast, and catching them in the summer is an absolute blast! When we are in the mood for ceviche, as I am headed out to crappie fish or bass fish, I keep two rods ready and available for the sand bass. One is a small jigging spoon, the other a top water bait. During the hot summer months, sand bass will push huge schools of shad to the surface and gorge on them. This feeding frenzy will make the water appear to be boiling. When this happens, I drop the crappie stick and reach for the top water bait. Over the past few days that’s been a Whopper Plopper, but I’ve caught them on Zara Spooks, Buzz Baits etc. It is so much fun to watch the retrieve of a splashy top water bait as the sandies swipe at it. Sometimes they will hit the bait body, but not the hook and the lure will go airborne. Sometimes two fish will grab it at the same time. Sometimes it will go straight under on impact with the water. It's crazy!
These top water frenzies sometimes will last only a few seconds, sometimes 20 minutes. When the water stops boiling the fish are still there. Use your big motor to stay up with the moving pod of sandies and bait. When your screen is covered with bait, drop that spoon or slab directly down to the proper depth and vertically jig it up and down. My good friend, Omar Cotter with Luck O’ the Irish Guide Service in north Texas specializes in these fun to catch fish. He tells me that even when the top is boiling, he employs the jigging method, because the bigger fish are down deeper. Whatever floats your personal boat. In Texas, to keep a sand bass, the fish must be at least 10 inches
Five 10 inch sandies are required for this recipe. Once you have your fish, head for the grocery store. You’ll need:
Finely chop the vegetables and dump them in a mixing bowl. After filleting your fish, cut into small chunks, and add to vegetable mix. Add salt, more than you think you’ll need, but don’t go nuts. You can add more salt tomorrow when the ceviche is finished. For a little crunch, add sliced almonds. Cover contents with lime juice and stick it in the fridge, you’re done!
When you come back tomorrow, the first thing you’ll notice is that the fish has turned brilliantly white. Key indicator that your ceviche is ready. You’ve just cooked fish with chemistry! The acid in the lime served as your cooking element! Break out the chips and dip away the summer time blues. This is fun from catch to crunch for the entire family...Enjoy!!
August 10, 2017
Dad didn’t hunt. I never saw him shoot a gun. In fact, the only time that I ever saw him hold a gun was when he took me to Whites Auto in downtown Mineral Wells, Texas after school one day. I guess I was about 10, and he knew that I had a strong hunting bone! God put it in me. Dad didn’t teach me, and the 3 channels we pulled in with the TV antenna didn’t show much hunting activity. It had to be built into my genes when the good Lord formed me.
Dad didn’t say anything on our way to Whites. He seldom said anything at all; he was a very quiet man. He had simple perfected. I sat next to him, full of nerves on the evening of my first date. I didn’t know what to say to a girl. I just knew she smelled good, and I had asked her out to dinner. “Dad, what do I talk to her about?” “Tell her about your dog” he immediately replied. I did, and it was the perfect thing to fill awkward quiet moments. He’d obviously made arrangements with the guys at the store, because when we walked in they immediately reached under the counter and pulled out a single shot Stevens 12 gauge and a few boxes of shells. I thought “WOW”! Dad bought himself a shotgun! Does this mean that maybe he’ll let me tag along on a hunt or two? Maybe even fetch his birds for him? It was a standout moment in my life, even before he turned and handed the treasure to me. I was beyond stunned, and happy!
Dad loved to fish, particularly for crappie. We didn’t have a boat, so sometimes the wait on the bank between bites was hours. I never got bored with it. I can still see him squatting, fishing pole in hand, bobber afloat, waiting. He taught me a lot about hunting without even knowing it. “Crappie like cover”, he said, “and edges”. Turns out all critters do, you and I are no exception. “They will likely be around shad or some other food”...same as deer, elk, bear, turkeys, me, all. The crappie hole was special to me, because most of the time it was just me and dad. That was my private time with him. I cherish it now, and miss him so.
I had broken the Stevens down and cleaned it several times before we actually had a chance to go shoot it, but after what seemed a lifetime, the day came. I still remember my first shot. A meadowlark in flight. I downed the song bird. Immediate remorse weighed heavy. I’d killed this lark for the wrong reason. I would not eat it. Dad watched in silence. I’ve never shot another non game bird.
He taught through living. I picked up some of it and wish I’d learned more. Thanks Dad for the time on the creek banks, the love of critters and creation, respect for others both 2 and 4 legged, and the great gift of time. I will hug his neck in heaven. He heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he believed it in his heart. He asked God to forgive him of his sin and save him. God did. That’s the greatest gift that a dad can give his son, even better than a brand new Stevens.
Happy Father's Day!
June 15, 2017
I’ve spent my fair share of nights sleeping in uncomfortable situations. Pickup beds, rotted out farm houses and dilapidated old travel trailers, and of course the cold hard ground. I can remember a deer hunt that was so cold and wet that my hunting partner and I zipped our sleeping bags together to fend off the frost bite. On another trip, I dumped the lump out of my pillow case. The lump was a field rat. I awoke one morning so stiff from the pickup bed I’d used for a mattress, that reaching down to tie my boots seemed impossible. I’d do it all again too!
Our passion for this hunting and fishing heritage that we live can lead to some tough places and times, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve also been spoiled with some fine lodging, dining and terrific hunting and fishing opportunities. Robin and I have spent the past week at one of the absolute finest resort hunt/fish destinations that I’ve ever, yes I used the ever word, visited. Joshua Creek Ranch has the credentials. Two Tridents from Beretta, ORVIS Endorsed, heck, George Strait even visits for a little wing shooting from time to time. Everything, and I mean every detail at JCR is tended too. Your mattress, your view, your meals, your linens, your lodging, your everything will be the finest offered. It’s flying first class, and it's good! This is our third trip to this wonderful ranch located about an hour northwest of San Antonio, Texas.
The same detail that’s woven into your lodge experience is applied to the habitat on this near 1,400 acre ranch as well...Two decades plus of back breaking work by the Kercheville family. Years of cedar removal, planting, pond building, etc have produced perfect habitat for the wildlife that love this place. IT'S LOW FENCE. The critters have a choice where they spend time browsing, loafing and raising babies. That’s the best testament to this conservation project-an endorsement from the wildlife on this free range ranch in the Texas Hill Country region.
I’m here to hunt my favorite protein-Axis deer. Axis are found free ranging in very few places across North America-Florida, Hawaii and here in the Hill Country of Texas primarily. They love it here; I guess the country is very similar to their original home in Sri Lanka. Everything about an Axis is good! They are beautiful critters with an orangish brown coat accented by snow white spots just like a whitetail fawn. God must have favored the Axis a little more than the whitetail, because He allows them to keep their spots for life. Axis are bigger than most whitetails too...Up to 250 pounds for the bigger bucks, or "bulls", your choice. They are more closely aligned to elk than whitetail deer. Typical males will grow three points on each side-main beam, a couple of impressive brow tines and secondary points about halfway up the main beam. Thirty inches and longer is considered trophy. They are gorgeous animals and fine, fine, fine dining! That’s 3 fines from the red neck that has consumed a lot of wild game. No wang, no wild taste, better than beef! Axis are a challenging hunt as well. They are spookier than whitetails. If you bang or booger something up in their neighborhood, you might as well move along. They did. Unlike the whitetail rut where single males cruise the country, axis stay in groups most all of the time. Lots of eyes to spot you. They will flock to feeders. If that is legal in your state, jump on it. One of the coolest reasons to hunt axis deer is non-typical hunting times. Axis are considered exotic game in Texas, and can be hunted year round. It's June, and it feels great to be in the deer blind!
My most regrettable miss with rifle came about five years ago right here on JCR. I had a nice 30 plus inch axis in my sights after three days of hard, HOT hunting...Shot right under his belly at 135 yards. The bullet made a cloud of dust, and I’ve watched him run off in my head over and over again...Again this week, three days of hard, not quite as hot hunting with no meat to show for the effort. There are probably 25 to 30 blind locations on this ranch. We have hunted daylight to dark most of the time and visited maybe 10-12 of those blinds. We have glassed a lot of Axis deer too. Several hundred I’d say, searching for the right buck. About 1:30 yesterday afternoon, we made a move to a blind that we’d not hunted yet on this trip. When we rounded the corner in the road, I knew instantly that this was the exact spot in my reoccurring nightmare miss. I had been here before in person and many more times in bad memory. We spotted a small herd of Axis back in the thick cedar brush and one of them was a hard horned buck. I was hunting with Billy Torkildson, JCR guide, who can take a 5 second look at an axis buck and tell you how long he is to within a half inch of antler.
At about 4pm, the herd made a move, and out he stepped. Five seconds of analysis, and Billy T said, “shoot him”. I was situated in the same blind, taking aim from the same window, with a 30 plus inch Axis standing about 30 yards behind the missed shot from five years ago. I put that old memory behind me and collected my breathing and focus. Does were milling about, and I had to hold my shot for a couple of minutes, waiting for them to clear. When the opportunity opened, I was ready, and he fell in his tracks. 30 inches on his right side, 31.5 on his left, heavy bodied and beautiful! The ghosts were gone. Billy T had no idea that I had missed from this exact location before, or that this was my birthday. When I finally had my hands on this magnificent animal, I shared the story with him. Back at the lodge, I would enjoy a hot shower, delicious pan seared Axis steaks prepared by Chef Holden and an incredible mattress for the first full eight hours of sleep in several days. This time though, the dream was different!
If you go...
Axis can shed, be hard horned or in velvet at any time of the year, however, late May to September are the most active rutting and hard horned times. Take plenty of gun. These animals are extremely tough, and probably bigger than the whitetails you’ve been hunting. My setup: Weatherby Vanguard in .270/Winchester ballistic silvertip 130 grain. If you normally hunt with something smaller (.243) I’d step up a bit. The 300’s are good choices. Dress cool! Talk to your outfitter before you go. Will you be stalking or blind hunting. Stalking these critters is very difficult since they run in herds. If you are still/blind hunting, shorts, t-shirts etc. Light, cool clothing. Stay in the blind. Yes, they are active at the most popular times, dawn and dusk, but, you will see them meandering mid-day as well. Patience has killed more critters than Tarzan. Range finder. Great tool. In the rolling terrain that Axis favor, depth can be deceptive. Naked eye would tell you that my shot would be 120-130 yards. The laser reported differently-169 yards. Depending on bullet rifle combo, that’s enough distance to affect trajectory.
June 9, 2017
Now's the time for Bream!
We come here every spring, Robin, other family members, friends come and go throughout the 10 day stay. We drag boats, travel trailers, gear, dogs, stuff out the old wazoo. The 3 hour trek from Dallas/Fort Worth to Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border looks much like the opening to the Beverly Hillbilly’s. But it's worth it! The bream are bigger here on Caddo...Up to a pound and a half. Why get so excited about jerking a perch? Many reasons:
A little gas for the boat, lightweight spinning gear and a box of worms is all you need for everyone from the kiddos to the pappaws to have a great time and contribute to the family food supply. If you come…The first couple of weeks in May have always been good for us as we try to time out the bream spawn on Caddo. Johnsons Ranch Marina-Uncertain, Texas is over one hundred years old. Not only a rustic old fish camp, but well stocked with snacks, fishing supplies, guide services, boat fuel, breakfast and lunch items, fish cleaning station, fish cleaners!!! AND...a boat ramp.
Fish the shallows deep in the cypress breaks or islands. 2 ft of water or less. Hunt n peck til you find a bed, then load the boat. Accommodations are clean and comfortable at beautiful Caddo Lake State Park, just 5 miles from Johnsons Ranch Marina. RV hookups, and fully furnished cabins are available to rent. Walmart is just 15 miles up the road in Marshall. Last but not least, call me when you are headed out!
APRIL 21, 2017
(First Published May 2015)
I fried up some crappie a couple of nights ago along with fresh sliced tomatoes, some steamed squash and a few fried potatoes. That’s a meal that never diminishes in excellence. It is always better than I remember, and I remember that fried crappie is pretty dandy! Well, everything was wonderful except those dang tomatoes. The tomato industry should be ashamed of the product they lay out for us. It's kinda like modern day Nashville. They roll out a product that looks good, but is way short on the real reason you bought the product. Tomatoes are a whole nother story. Back to the crappie and how to land them in your grease.
Ahhhh, springtime! Spring is the absolute favorite time of year for most anglers. The various species move to the shallows to spawn and defend the nest against anything that comes within smacking range. You can load up a mess of keeper crappie this time of year, and they are accessible to anglers that don’t fish from a boat. I do fish from a boat, or at least use the vessel to get me in an area that I want to fish. The crappie will look for a hard surface for a spawning area. Hard clay or rocks maybe. The keys to look for are:
I employ several tactics in the springtime. If the fish are spawning on the rocks along a dam or bridge, I will place a float, or bobber about 6-8 inches above my jig, and as I drift or very slowly troll along the rocky bank, I allow the bobber to do the same thing. Very effective method. Another great way to sack em up is to look for shallow flats that are occupied by lots of button willows, or cattails, or stumps. PARK THE BOAT. It's too shallow to get into these flats with most boats anyway. Tie it off so it won't blow away and slip into your waders! Slowly, without disturbing too much water as you go, move from brush to brush to logs to other cover. A 9 to 12 foot lightweight jigging rod is recommended. This will keep you far enough from the fish to not spook them. Only allow about 6-8 inches on line with jig attached to dangle past the tip of the rod. With your free hand, pull the line and jig up snug to the rod tip so that there’s no slack. Ease along, much like a feeding heron does, and slip the tip of your rod at water level, deep into the cover. NEVER turn loose of the line in your free hand. Ease the jig down into the water and wait for the thump. When you feel it, pull the line with your line hand to set the hook and pull the fish up to the rod tip. Back him out of there quickly. Without constant control and contact with your line hand, you will be miserable, losing fish and tangled in brush all day. Stay in control of the line at all times. AND, check the last 2-3 feet of your line regularly. Your fishing in abrasive stuff and line wear occurs often. Re-tie, don’t break off that nice one.
I often see bank fishermen set up in a spot and stay there all day, which can be very productive if the fish favor that spot and the weather hasn’t moved them around or out. But how much more productive could you be with an inexpensive set of waders that help you cover a lot more water. Slip em on, slip out into the water, and slip up on some cover, then slip em into the cornmeal and grease.
A few thoughts:
The majority of crappie that you catch on spawning beds are males. They build the nest, mate with incoming females, then stay and guard the fry against predators. The females will be at the nest only long enough to lay her eggs and move back out. If there are hardwoods or stumps or other cover in nearby deeper water, don’t forget to check them regularly as well. That’s where the big girls are hanging out while not visiting the beds. You’ll more than likely catch your bigger fish here.
When? 62 degree or warmer water seems to be a key factor for the crappie spawn. A string of 60 degree or warmer nights (air temp) are a big deal too. When you have a string of 60 degree nights and a full moon in the forecast, mend the hole in the waders and string up new line on the long pole! Good fishing to you! Send me a picture or two of your success for the BBKO Braggin Board... and a basket full of home grown, vine ripened tomatoes!
MARCH 24, 2017
I'm back on open water now, and that’s comforting for a couple of reasons. Even though I was able to spend considerable time on ice for the first time in my life, I always had a nagging in the back of my mind with every step or scoot of the snowmobile that a sudden crack, pop and sink COULD happen. It didn’t. The ice was two feet thick and very safe. The second reason that I'm comfortable on the home lake is familiarity. Thousands of hours on these waters have me launching the boat without a specific game plan, nothing more than a targeted species in mind. I can launch, fire up the motor and head out without marking a boat ramp or even turning on the Garmin units until I'm near my starting point.
I do plan a return to the frozen country though. The people in Minnesota were so friendly, welcoming and enjoyable...the fishing was pretty darn good too. When drilling an eight inch hole to catch fish on a lake that's eighty miles long, you better know what's under there...could be a very long day of hit and miss without open water knowledge of what becomes rock hard ice late fall through winter. Woody Woods know where to set the auger to work. He’s been fishing Rainy Lake, Minnesota on the Canadian border for 45 years. He has fished so well that his peers put him in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. That’s a big part of why I chose Woody as a fishing partner on this trip. His knowledge along with his easy going personality made him a slam dunk decision for me. His business is titled “Woody’s Fairly Reliable Guide Service”; his motto, “90% of our customers come back alive”.
When the engines of the snowmobiles die down, 8-10 miles up a frozen lake in late February, the silence...REAL silence starts to creep into your ears. No planes, highways or boat motors. Just a light breeze through the pines, that stretch from the thousands of islands that dot Rainy. The latest snowfall buffers the sound and it’s the perfect soundtrack for the incredible beauty that surrounds you. The only disturbance was a bald eagle that landed on the ice about 100 yards away in hopes of stealing one of our fish. He did too! Swooping in so close behind me that the flapping of his massive wings raised my eyebrows and spun my head around.
I've fished all of my life, from the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf, to freshwater from Florida to the Rockies. This was a totally new and exciting experience. I've never been anyplace more beautiful. Put it on your bucket list, plan it and follow through. Here are a couple of tips...
Before you go...
MARCH 10, 2017
My childhood was so wonderful! I didn’t know it then, but I do now. I guess that happens to lots of folks after they melt a b’day cake with fifty plus candles. I grew up in a house that faced a pasture. That pasture was called “Jones” pasture. In that pasture was a pond. Yep, “Jones" pond. I can't tell you how many meetings I scheduled with childhood buddies at Jones pond.
It was full of bluegill and bass. If you caught a 2 pound bass, you were king of the pond. That pasture held deer and quail, and I had a single shot Stevens in 12 gauge. Quail were so plentiful in Jones pasture that at 10 years of age I could take that Stevens, walk up to whistling birds and kill a mess for the family without the luxury of a pointing dog. Most days I spent daylight to dark in Jones pasture, and most times alone. I couldn’t understand why other kids preferred the bowling alley, city swimming pool or whatever was showing at the Grand Theater.
There was always adventure in Jones pasture, and I wasn’t going to miss it. In my high school years I actually tried to mow a football field for the guys in the middle of it. The rock and cactus made it impossible, but a young man can dream. Dad wasn’t pleased with my decision to take his push mower out there and I don’t blame him. I forever changed that mower. Intense drama played out in Jones pasture. We were all about 7 or 8 when Joe Canterberry got too close to some kid casting a cane pole and took a hook clean thru the eyebrow…smooth thru from bottom to top…just below his flat top haircut…worm intact. He squalled like an alley cat. After we held him still for a few minutes so that we could all get a good look at that eyebrow, #2 eagle claw hook, red wiggler combo, Joe thought it was best to go see his momma. We agreed, but weren’t smart enough to clip the line to the hook, so some kid, cane pole in hand led Joe through Jones pasture like a dog on a leash, all the way home. That leaves an impression on a fella. It did me anyway.
Another time as I made my dash from the house to the magical pasture I stabbed myself. It was when I threw myself between the 2nd and 3rd wires on that old rusty barbed wire fence. I had run the knife thru my belt loop and when I lifted my leg to jump thru the fence, it entered my upper thigh in one spot and exited another. I just kept on going and know now that it was God that protected me from infection.
The worst episode is when I deceived my mom. It was pouring rain and I was told to stay in the house…but I couldn’t stand it. I was in Jones pasture when out of nowhere mom appeared, and she appeared mad. Stomping thru the mud, high heels in hand, blue dress soaked, and her hair that she made weekly appointments to keep perfectly puffed up was now hanging down like I’d never seen. I was scared, so scared that all I knew to do was run, she chased, she caught me…It was the only time that I ever ran from mom and I never lied to her again. I never met Mr. Jones, and I’m quite sure that he has passed now, but I’d like to run into him in Heaven and tell him thanks. His pasture, his pond, his willingness to allow an ol' Palo Pinto county kid to grow up within his cedar fence posts absolutely changed my life.
FEBRUARY 3, 2017
I love to fish for bass! I love the puzzle. Sometimes, I put it together and find the right combination of depth, speed, color and size and I catch a lot. Other times, I spend all day trying to figure it out and only pick up a bite or two, but I love to bass fish, every minute of it. I had the wonderful fortune to fish a Wounded Warrior tournament some years back with Staff Sgt. Jay Fondren. Jay had lost both legs, most of one arm and most of the fingers on his remaining hand, but Jay loves to fish too...so there we were lifting and lowering his wheel chair into the boat. And fish he could! With the rod tucked under what remained of his left arm, and reeling with what remained of his right hand, Jay won the boat that day. He out fished/out caught both Gary and me. By the way, Gary has qualified for 30 Bassmaster Classics, the long running world championship and most coveted title for a bass angler. 30! Only Rick Clunn has qualified for more with 32. Gary fishes the Bassmaster Elite tour and is one of the very best bass fishermen that this world has ever seen. Gary Klein loves to fish too. It was a brutally hot day and what little bite there was to be had, was on a plastic worm. Sloooooooow fishing. But we all were content and focused, because all involved that day enjoy putting the puzzle together, or at least trying. Hot as it was, slow as it was, Gary didn’t fire the boat up to make the 3pm weigh in until 2:55. We fished, and we enjoyed it.
Some folks don’t like to fish, they like to catch. I fully understand that, I get it. Catchin is fun! I put it right up there with fishin. Gary Klein and I have since that day had many opportunities to spend time together. He goes about bass fishing the same way that Ben Carson went about brain surgery, or Michelangelo went about the chore of painting the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. He analyzes, picks, positions and ponders every single cast, never losing focus. To Gary, fishing is what happens in your mind while on the boat. The tools in your hand and at the end of your line are just that...tools. It’s a cerebral activity.
That brings me to fishing with the preacher. Pastor Tom is a trusted friend, and Tom loves to bass fish. Tom and I were on the boat last week. It was slightly cooler than comfortable and the fish were not active. But fish we did, til there was just enough light left to safely load the boat and get it to the house. Pastor Tom twice on that day expressed how he was enjoying it, even though he hadn’t had so much as a sniff of a bite. He’d make cast after cast after cast, retying this bait and that bait with optimism that this next lure just might trigger the bass. Working on the puzzle, and he enjoyed it. I sat there on the boat thinking of how fishing somewhat mirrored Tom's life. As a fisher of men, he has made many casts, always with optimism that one might embrace the love and gift of God’s salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike the rod and reel in his hand, Tom can’t see the results many times as he fishes for men. He tells the Gospel truth, plants that seed, makes the cast. God tells us as believers to fish for men throughout the entire world, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14. Tom has fished for men in Russia, they even threw him in jail over there. Said he was fishing illegally. In truth, they just don’t want to be out fished. He’s fished in the Navajo Nation, and just about every place he’s set foot. Tom loves to fish.
I figured it was pretty safe fishin with the preacher, after all he’s a preacher. Not the kind your see on TV that wants your money in exchange for your own personal health and wealth. Those ol' boys, and in some cases gals, are lying to you. They’re fishin for something other than your eternity. Tom’s the kind of preacher that takes his Christian life seriously, and tries his best to live it Biblically. Tom's a man of God, I thought to myself, he hasn’t caught a single fish all day, and I’d only managed a 10 inch bass. He CAN'T lie about the results of this trip like some other fellas that I fish with do. Wrong! Before church last Sunday morning, Tom, me and some of the boys from church were visiting and Tom told a fish story. No, he didn’t “grow” any imaginary fish of his own, as he held his hands about 5 inches apart, but he shrunk mine! I’m gonna pray for you Tom.
DECEMBER 8, 2016
I'm asked from time to time to speak to different groups. It's always humbling to be invited and to actually stand before these groups. Even though I've been in the radio business and spoken publicly for decades, it also scares the bejeebers out of me. I'm much more comfortable alone on the bow of the boat searching out slab crappie or big bass.
When I do stand before these groups, I can tell of the 8 ponder that I caught last week. Where I found her, what bait I was throwing, water temp, water color, weather conditions and other details that MIGHT help these folks out. I can tell them about the brushpile deep in a body of water that holds mega numbers of crappie this time of year and that MIGHT help them some. I can give some stats, numbers and accounts of how remaining in your stand on guard for big bucks has paid off many times at 1 in the afternoon rather than at daylight or dusk.
But...What I have to say, or anybody else for that matter, is only yesterday's news, or a guess about tomorrow...unless...we are speaking God’s word. THAT is my only confidence. That is the only pure truth, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I'm not a preacher, God didn’t call me to that. I am saved by His incredible grace, and I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love, and that I can speak of with an overwhelming confidence.
There's lots of public speakers out there right now that are talking about walls, gun control, international terrorism, our suffering economy, how the US can be great again and so on and so forth. Yesterday's news and tomorrow's speculation. There is but one way to make America great again. I sure hope you'll call the family in, click on the LINK and listen to "Who is God’s Candidate?" You can have confidence when you base your vote and your daily choices on what God has to say.
JUNE 10, 2016
This is the time of year when even the most ardent land lovers glance at those shiney new boats and start daydreaming about big fish, evening cruises, and family time on the water. The water provides tremendous pleasure, even therapy. It’s a direct contrast to 5mph traffic, constant people contact and as my friend Will Primos put it “this cell phone, laptop, computer infested world”. Your decision to buy a boat or not is very personal and not one to be taken lightly.
Ask yourself this question and give a sincere answer. How often will you truly use a boat? There are 52 weekends in a year. How many of those will be consumed with work/family/duty commitments that keep you away from the water? Do you have 8-10 spare weekends in a year? 10-20? 20-30? If you have limited time but still want to hit the water, consider rentals. Someone else pays for the boat, storage, upkeep, insurance and licensing. You pay an exorbitant fee for a half or full day rental and refuel. But you pay as you go. One-n-done.
If you, like me, LOVE to fish, consider using various guide services. If you can't get to the water as much as you’d like but 1-10 times per year is an option, you don’t have the time to “figure out” the fish and their seasonal habits and travels. The guides do and the fee that you pay a guide is well worth the money for a much much higher catch percentage option.
If you’ve thought it over and decided that you and your family are indeed able to get to the lake more often than not, and you want to take the ownership step...good for you! Before you load a single fishing rod, wakeboard or water ski on that boat give some serious thought to safety. The law requires proper flotation for each passenger on your boat and a fire extinguisher, but...I like to take it a few steps beyond lawful requirements. Here's my short list:
~Weather radio...these are cheap and an absolute must! Buy one that allows you to switch it to alert only. Keep fresh batteries in it, and every time you head out onto the water-pretty day or not-turn it on. It can save your life, the lives of your family and friends, and your boat gear etc with early warning that lightening, big wind, foul weather is approaching.
~A VERY loud noisemaker. Some states actually require a whistle. I carry a whistle, and a compressed air horn. The air horn was designed to get a bear out of your face in the woods, but I promise you it will grab attention in distress from across the lake.
~GPS is waaaaaaay too common, inexpensive and user friendly these days not to have one with you. Mark your boat ramp before you take off on a new lake just in case you lose your bearings. Small handheld units are great, but I prefer to spend a few more bucks and install a unit that includes or can be loaded with lake maps, bottom contours for safe boat travel, local marina and emergency services information etc. I have two Garmin devices on my boat. One of them in red lettering has a man overboard button. If someone falls in, throw a float cushion and hit the red button. It will mark the exact location of the accident in the event that emergency personnel are required.
~Always...leave a plan with someone that will actually miss you if you don’t come back in time. That plan should include: 1) The water body that you will be boating 2) How many others will be in your boat, names, phone numbers 3) The boat ramp/parking area that you will access 4) A description of your vehicle and trailer, along with license plate #’s 5) A time to expect you back 6) A description of your vessel, and registration numbers from the exterior bow of your boat
Have a great summer and we’ll see ya on the water!
JUNE 3, 2016