Keep up with all things, outdoors, with Big Billy Kinder...
With the virus popping up on every checkout counter, workplace and TV channel that you associate with, most folks have been looking for a way to space themselves from fellow humans. Depending upon who you listen to, there is either not as much to the COVID as first thought, or it’ll drop you in your tracks before the day is over. Heck, the Governor of California seems to think that you catch the COVID by attending church. From the sound of things “out there” your best bet for a healthy tomorrow is to get in line with a mass of protesters and then tear down a John Wayne statue out at the airport. I personally like John Wayne. In fact I’m a big fan. Sometimes when I’ve had enough of the panty-waist politicians and street-gang thugs on TV, I flip it over to the Duke. It’s refreshing to watch him smash a bad guy’s face into a tree. Of course, that was back when folks knew the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. Hit a cop on the head with a stick...bad. Run an outlaw's face into an old oak...good.
If you’re not into protesting, looting or burning cars, you might try fishing. A lot of people have so far in 2020. One of my friends in the fishing industry recently told me that in the spring, the fishing business was up 200 percent! Wow! What church burning and window busting are for gun sales, the virus is for fishing poles! People put their masks on and went to Wal Mart. They bought a rod n reel and a few bass lures or maybe some stink bait for catfish. Some put the stink bait on the new bass lures. Some bought those disgusting looking dead minnows in the shrink wrap. Some dipped the stiff dead minnows in the catfish bait before hooking them on the bass lures. All of the above is okay!! In fact, its better than okay, its wonderful!!! When folks made the gear purchases, probably without even knowing it, they made a contribution to conservation. With that fishing purchase, they actually made America better and they didn’t even have to turn a police car upside down on the sidewalk. They proudly held that new fishing rod upside down, they reeled it backwards, they threw those brand new lures high into trees or over high line wires, never to be thrown again.
So…put the mask back on and now that you’re an experienced angler, go to Bass Pro Shop. You might pass out when you round the corner and see all of those glorious lures. You can buy stink bait by the bucket at BPS! You can even buy a shirt that makes you look legit, until you throw that new $18.00 Whopper Plopper up there next to the Wal Mart lures. At some point through dogged determination and countless casts, it will happen. Your bass lure will be firmly affixed to the mouth of a game fish, but like my late and wise friend Ray Sasser once said “it’s you that will be hooked” and you couldn’t be “hooked” on anything better than God’s great outdoors. It’s a wonderful side to a terrible virus, people are getting outside. Getting away from the news channels, honey-do’s, computer screens and frozen pizzas. In Minnesota there is an explosion in teens buying fishing licenses-TEENS! In fact, state after state are reporting big license sales. Do you have yours?
Let’s get started…
A 5 to 6 foot, lightweight spinning rod and reel combination or spin cast rod and reel combination. Less than $30 at Wally World. Small pan-fish hooks, bobbers and weights or sinkers. About 5 more bucks.
A box of worms. Couple of bucks unless you run into some COVID worm price gouging. From the bank of any creek, pond or lake, pinch off a small portion of worm, just about half an inch. Thread it onto the hook that is 4-6 inches below the weight, which is about 8 to 12 inches below the bobber. Cast to within a few feet of rocks, logs, boat docks or any kind of shade or structure in the water. When the bobber swims off or goes under, lift the rod tip and turn the reel handle at the same time to set the hook and reel 'em on in. There ya go! Your hooked!
Clean your fish. Yes, you can. Watch YouTube videos on how to fillet (boneless) or traditionally clean (bone in) your fish. Very simple. Wash the meat thoroughly. Bread your wet fish with cornmeal, salt and pepper mixture and place the fish in a deep fryer or hot skillet. (I fry my fish in a deep fryer at 355-360 degrees) It doesn’t take long. TIP: In a deep fryer, when the fillets float I give em another minute or so then pull them out.
Smile big at the dinner table, tell BIG stories to the family! YOU…are a fisherman. YOU have disappeared into the wilderness with rod in hand and reappeared at the dinner table with delicious fish. YOU…are something else!
C’mon, it’s the latest hot trend that doesn’t require you to sleep on a city street in Seattle or try to bust the CNN plate glass with your skateboard. (bettin that dude regrets that move) Really live it up on your radical journey to the neighborhood pond and tell someone Merry Christmas, Back the Blue or God bless John Wayne!
July 17, 2020
Before we get started, this is not a one size fits all crappie fishing guide. Your water in Florida may only be five feet deep. Your crappie in Minnesota may not know what standing timber looks like. We all live in our own little world, welcome to mine.
The calendar is slipping into middle May now and in Texas, that typically means the crappie spawn is nearly or completely over. If you will pay attention to the annual patterns that fish and wildlife follow, you can get closer to them and on occasion enjoy them on the table. This is true for all of God’s critters, but I’m zoned in on the crappie right now-zoned in for several reasons, not the least of which is dinner.
In the annual crappie chasing cycle, there are blocks of time. Predictable blocks when you know pretty much where the majority of the fish are located, and they are in that area in big numbers. There are also unpredictable blocks of time when the fish are scattered and can be tougher to find and capture. Predictable blocks of time are spring and summer. In springtime when the water temp hits 62 degrees or so, here the crappie come! They are headed for the shallows to make an investment in your grandchildren’s fishing future. The waves of crappie coming in and hanging out in shallow (10 feet or less) water can last for a month to six weeks or so. (notice all of the “or so’s…all of this can shift some from year to year) Typically, the very shallow water will hold male fish tail-fanning nests or protecting fry. Yes, the big females can be found there as well, but they move in to spawn then back out to slightly deeper cover, back in to spawn more eggs, out again deeper, five to ten foot water.
The spring spawn is a great time to impress the family with a big string of crappie and maybe even make the cover of “Wow! What a Fisherman” magazine. I fish a particular cove that features great shallow shoreline spawning cover.-reeds, brush etc. Within thirty yards of that shoreline is standing timber-two or three acres of timber. Drifting a jig or minnow just a few inches deep under a bobber in the shallows can catch a lot of fish! It’s the perfect time of year for the shore angler. Bigger fish are out there a little further, though, in those trees. Ease through the trees with a nine foot or longer pole to keep your distance and work a small jig from top to bottom and all around each tree stump. Recently, I caught all of my fish nine feet deep in ten foot water. The very next morning they were two to three feet deep in the same water. Typically, you will find a single fish on a tree, sometimes more and rarely a bunch…but it does happen.
Another predictable time is hot, hot, hot summer. A good fish finder on your boat and the knowledge to read and use it come in real handy! Side note…I know a fella that has spent many thousands of dollars on fish finders, always coveting the latest and greatest, but has never taken the time to learn how to properly use any of them. If you look at the simplest sonar units and don’t know what you’re looking at, throwing money at it will not increase your knowledge. It doesn’t take two or three thousand dollars to see fish on structure. There are great units for just a few hundred bucks out there these day: side and down imaging, sonar and gps technology for small money (small money for fish finder world anyway).
Okay, back to the fish. If you will spend your time doing homework with your fish finder, it will pay dividends in fillets! When the sun is high in the summertime, we like shade and air conditioning. Fish do too-boat docks, deep brush, timber, channel drops etc. The docks are obvious, the fish finder points out the other spots. In the midst of a Texas summer, I will usually find my crappie in eighteen to twenty five feet of water holding tightly to a brush pile or on standing timber. This time of year if you catch one crappie, drop your jig right back in the same exact spot and at the same exact depth and you're likely to catch another one, and another one and another one. When the bite slows on your jig, try a color change…sometimes that will fire em up again, or at least trick a few more. If you are concentrating on submerged brush, fish it completely. Even though the brush pile may be ten yards long, the crappie will hold in one or two small areas of the pile. If you are fishing standing timber, the shady side is key, so are limbs that produce shade. A big ol' narly limb or even better, a collection of limbs 20 feet deep in hot summer is a great find. It will also steal a lot of your jig heads. Take plenty of tackle.
In the fall, as the water temps cool and change, so does crappie activity...find and follow the baitfish because the crappie are. This is the time of year that I pull out the trolling rigs. I switch from jigs to live minnows and rig them on a weighted double minnow rig. Get up in the creeks and look for the baitfish. Set your rigs to troll at a depth towards the bottom third of where you are seeing bait. In other words, if the bait balls are averaging 5 to 8 feet deep in 12 feet of water, I will troll my minnows at 7 to 8 feet deep. Crappie feed upwards and will feed from under the ball of bait. I will either drift or use the trolling motor to slow troll my rigs. This is my least favorite way to crappie fish. My rods are in holders mounted to the boat, so I miss feeling the “thump”. You can still find large concentrations of fish but they are mobile, not “set up” on timber or brush like they were in spring and summer. You can be catching them pretty good one minute, and have absolutely no idea where they’ve gone the next. Like I said, fall is not my favorite time of year to crappie fish, but here is the good news. They taste the same!
There is a transition from spring to summer and summer to fall. These are the more unpredictable times to find and catch crappie. Big concentrations break up and individuals start making their way along the crappie trail. They are tougher to locate or catch great numbers at this time. Think about this. If you have a 20 mile commute to work, I have a good idea where you are between 8am and 5pm. I also have a pretty safe bet about your location between 6pm and 7am. However, it would be really tough to pinpoint your location from 7-8am and 5-6pm. But wait a minute…if I can do my research and find out where you like to stop for coffee, I can set up on a spot like that and intercept you during travel time. Same with crappie. They don’t leave point A with point B in mind and swim non-stop. They have waypoints along the trail that are good for resting, feeding, hanging out with other crappie and sharing the latest crappie news. These routes and stopping points remain the same year after year and generation after generation. That is unless flooding, drought or other related occurrences change that habitat. A mess of crappie may take a little longer and a little more “work” in these unpredictable windows, but it’s doable.
Winter-go deer hunting. It’s probably killed many a strong angler...trying to find crappie in the wintertime. It’s a little known fact that crappie dissolve in cold water. Crappie dust settles to the bottom of the lake and lies dormant until the first buds on the dogwoods bloom. Magically, God then calls the crappie dust to take shape and swim again. You ice fishermen are great people, but similar to duck hunters...a bit off-kilter. I’ve spent time with you. I’ve seen how you go about your crappie obsession. Dragging an auger where only weeks ago a very fast motor zipped you around in the comfort of your boat, beverage in hand. Now, you are drilling and drilling and drilling and moving and drilling and hoping and moving and drilling and hoping some more that there is a crappie under the next hole in the ice. Here’s a tip. Freeze a few in the summer and eat them in the winter. My version of ice fishing involves reaching into the garage freezer.
I hope this little outline helps you out season to season and that you become proficient at posing up for the magazine covers, websites and tv shows.
May 14, 2020
We've been locked up in our homes while making only the most necessary trips. We've Lysoled everything, a dozen times. We've watched the coronavirus news nonstop. Looks like we will be living this way for a while. A trip to the lake is wonderful therapy. An emotional band-aid. Even so, we can’t afford to let our guard down there either.
The Game and Fish folks in North Carolina have come up with a short list of recommendations for boaters. They are...
...maintain your distance at boat ramps and fuel docks
...avoid using boat ramp docks while other people are on them
...no beaching your boat right next to someone else
...no rafting up-keep your distance on the water
All good recommendations and I will add a couple of my own...
...if you are a shoreline fisherman, please don’t fish from the boat ramp docks-They are essential for boat passenger loading and unloading
...keep the hand sanitizer, bleach wipes and plastic gloves on the boat
...only boat with members of your household
...avoid all unnecessary contact with others
Spring turkey hunting carries new concerns this year as well. No long trips in the enclosed cab of a vehicle with members of a separate home but only with members of your home is not only a great idea, but possibly lifesaving.
Hunt solo, do your own calling. Don’t share calls, camo (especially face masks) or equipment. Common sense. (if solo hunting or boating be sure to leave an emergency plan with loved ones…where you are…time you should be back etc.) It’s a good year to skip the mouth calls and stick to your slates, boxes etc. Your hands back and forth to your mouth right now is not a good thing.
Once we have settled into that quiet cove or leaned up next to that tree in the turkey woods we can finally relax a little. Just be diligent.
April 16, 2020
It's surreal. The President of the United States steps up to the mic, surrounded by brilliant minds from science and medicine and reports the bad news. According to very reliable models, 100,000 to 240,000 of us won't be here just a month from now. Wow!! 30 days! You look at people differently as you drive down the road, run into and out of the grocery store trying to avoid others, briefly step out to gas up. Which of us will be here, who won’t? It’s not a movie.
We get caught up in ourselves, not only us Americans, I’m speaking of us humans. Many of us are spoiled to what we want-when we want it. In the blink of an eye, life has flipped to what will I use for toilet paper today-Humbling to say the least. Meat counters empty, empty store shelves where just days ago were everyday staples like paper towels, rice and baby wipes. We took the most menial day to day tasks and items for granted. How about that keypad at the checkout counter? Has it been sanitized lately? Has anyone stood here and sneezed over it recently? Yesterday? How long did they say this virus could live on plastic? What about the bags that I’m about to put my food in? How in the world can anyone find any peace?
This invisible killer is possibly every place I need to be. Guess what??? So is Jesus. Please don’t stop reading. This is also a life and death matter. THIS is more sure than the possibility of COVID-19 infection in your family. In case you have never heard it before, salvation through Christ is simply faith plus nothing. You can’t DO anything to earn eternal peace, but you CAN have that peace. It’s a free gift from God. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verses 3 and 4: “…Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day…” That’s it. The Gospel. Do you believe that? We are all sinners (Romans 3:10), and God wants none of us to suffer eternal punishment (2 Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 9): “…not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
These times are very hard, but peace exists. Only in Jesus is true and lasting peace. This is what I believe and am happy to try and answer any questions that you might have. Just give me a holler. 817-360-8090.
April 1, 2020
I hear that song about My Favorite Things around Christmas time each year. Some ol’ boy named Richard Rodgers wrote it back in the 50’s, then Julie Andrews made it famous in “The Sound of Music”, which I am proud to say I’ve never seen. I have, though, turned the volume up on the radio and listened to the lyrics of the song. That part about crisp apple strudel always conjures up a picture for me. I’m not a Broadway guy. Not much of a movie guy. I probably can’t name 5 show tunes with any confidence and that they actually came out of a show. In fact, I’m having trouble getting to two right now. But, ”My Favorite Things” kinda got me to thinking. We all have favorite things or situations that we cling to a little too much or dwell on while we should be thinking of more productive efforts. But what the heck, it’s okay to idle away a few minutes here and there I guess. You’re doing it right now, so, in no particular order...
The thump that you feel in the cork handle of a good crappie rod. The force with which a crappie sucks in a small jig is actually strong enough from 18-20 feet deep to send a vibration up the line to the rod tip and then to your hand that triggers a reaction in the brain, to send the thump back down the line and set the hook in ol spec’s mouth. All of this takes place in about 1 second. The thump is absolutely one of my favorite things.
Good dogs on point and birds that hold tight. It is amazing to watch what God put into a bird dog. The indwelling drive to hunt game birds. I’ve watched ‘em for years running at ¾ speed through dusty, windy, dry, rainy, thick cover. Meadowlarks, sparrows and chee-chee birds of all sorts popping up and flitting away as the dog runs, but he gives them none of his attention...none! Not even a glance, but 1 single molecule of scent from a quail, pheasant or grouse makes the dog flip back-end over front and land with a hard stop! Head and tail high, smoking the pipe. The dog breaths scent in with his nose, exhaling with his mouth which in turn makes his cheeks puff out and back in...giving the impression of a pipe smoker. Many times, a covey of bobwhite quail will hold tight on a snowy morning, so will early season young birds that have never met a birddog before. Walking up to that view will always be a favorite.
A big bass jig swimming from that shallow little pocket that you threw it in to. You know it didn’t come to life and start swimming on its own. No, a bass has that jig in her mouth and she’s headed for deeper water with her prey much like a dog will seek out a private spot to enjoy a treat. You “catch up” to her with your reel, then set the hook like your name is Klein, Brauer or Evers! Oh, what a feeling and favorite.
Any fish on a topwater bait. Matters not if its sunfish on a little popper delivered by your fly rod or a big 6 inch walking-bait targeting bass. When the lightning fast explosion occurs, that very second is on my favorites list. You want to see it again and again, the feeling never grows old! You could do this all day, but the sun climbs higher and the topwater bite dies off. Special moments reserved mostly for short periods of time and then left to bounce around in your mind while you should be listening to the preacher.
Pre sunrise in the pasture or on the lake. The temperature drops another degree or two as if the night is tightening its grip on your world not wanting to let go. The first birds of the morning, outside of chuck willows will or an old owl, start to make their presence known. Faint light begins to creep into your surroundings like water seeping into a marsh. The sun’s not officially up yet but is steadily working on it and is precisely on time, the same today as it was on that first morning when God put it in motion. The world is waking up around you. Barely visible are a couple of deer. How did they get there! I’ve been watching so closely, every second! It’s like they grew straight up out of the ground. Unseen turkeys lightly yelp from the roost and get more vocal as they fly down. In the stillness of pre-dawn you clearly hear the flapping of their wings and they depart the tree limb for breakfast. The slow gentle ride across quiet water to a favorite fishing hole with red and green lights leading the way. Trying not to spill your coffee as you go, you have just enough light to see “feeding rings” on top of the water, raising your expectations and thinking about that trusty old “Pop R” that you tied on last night.
Two-lane blacktops and worn dirt roads, especially those that you’ve never travelled before. Wonder and excitement, looking at new country and looking deeply for the flash of a white tail or a summer herd of elk. Snow topped high places in June. Ripe Montana choke cherries growing wild along a public right of way or wild West Texas sand plums in a pasture, ready for picking and making jelly. An old dry goods/grocery store from a bygone era that somehow manages enough business from area farm families and wide-eyed adventurers to keep the lights on. A winding Ozark farm to market road that leads toward the farm, not the market. As it leads you across the creek for the 3rd time, you catch a glimpse of a flock of eastern turkeys running up into the thick southern woods.
A crackling fire. The fireplace on a chilly winter’s evening, reading old Gene Hill stories for the 15th time. Maybe it’s a hot bed of coals with fresh logs popping on top, circled by satisfied hunters after a day in the field. Some facing the fire with glowing faces and cold hands extended, palms out, others warming their backsides with hands stretched backwards. Someone’s telling a story. You’ve heard it before and know the ending well, but the moment is so agreeable that you in quiet eagerness give it your full attention. The story is good, but so is the thick blanket of quiet that follows that laughter.
Smells...fresh gunpowder in the air on a clear blue morning, fish on your hands, spring flowers in the turkey haunts, smoke from the last pipe that exists in deer camp.
Time, places, experiences, tools of the trade, some people, well-mannered dogs. What was that?? Sounds. Peach pie in summer and my old Ruger Red Label 20 gauge. Just a few of my favorite things.
February 6, 2020
It has always kinda baffled me. A guy that LOVES to hunt whitetails, waits all year for it! Time in the woods is bigger than the shot. He/she loves everything about hunting but…they totally ignore the turkeys. What a treasure these birds are and absolutely delicious on the table. I truly have never eaten a pen raised bird from the grocery store that can hold a candle to a wild turkey. I think, in my humble opinion, that as the once plentiful turkey in North America plummeted in numbers during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we went several generations without hunting them and passing those skills and recipes down. Now turkey numbers are good, turkey hunter populations are low.
The bird, native to America, was found to be dang tasty to early settlers pushing westward-so tasty that we nearly ate all of them. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that turkey restoration was noted as successful and working. In 1991 turkey seasons finally were open in all of the 49 states that hold wild turkeys. We all have turkeys outside of Alaska. The great frozen tundra is the only state without turkeys. Yes, you can hunt them in Hawaii! 1960 and 1991 are just a blink in time back from now. That’s not a lot of time to re-establish turkey hunters. A generation is generally thought to be 30 years. If turkey hunting was all but totally shut down in the 19-early’s, that puts between 3 and 4 generations between the 1st North American turkey hunters and the youngster that wants to hunt today. We simply have a nation of folks that didn’t grow up hunting turkeys, don’t know where to start or how to go about it. It’s easier than you think. Turkeys are an exciting and rewarding hunt and a pretty inexpensive way to round up a great meal. So let’s get started, and this spring will be the time to do that. You will need a place to hunt...
• A lot of land owners don’t hunt turkeys and wouldn’t mind you hunting them. Ask! Maybe you have a deer lease and simply haven’t explored what it takes to kill a turkey. Turkey hunters require only a few acres as opposed to the quail hunter that needs thousands of acres or the deer hunter that prefers hundreds. Do your homework. You will need a place that holds turkeys; preferably they roost there on that property at night. Tall trees and creek bottoms are prime places to look for wild turkeys.
• You’ll need camo; turkeys have incredible eyesight. Blend into your surroundings, break up your outline and BE STILL. They will see movement at great distances. This sounds crazy but even with this tremendous eyesight, they don’t mind a pop-up blind. I don’t know if they relate it to a bale of hay or a bush or what, but if you’re regularly seeing turkeys at your deer feeder or know where they likely will fly down from the roost, set up a pop-up blind. When you set up a new blind in an area, the deer typically will shy away for a week or two until they realize it’s immobile and safe. Turkeys on the other hand will walk right into an area with a new blind setup that wasn’t there an hour ago. If you want to take the youngsters, buy a pop-up to conceal movement. You can find them for under a hundred bucks these days. You can actually stand up inside and walk your pop-up blind closer to the turkeys, and it won’t rattle them. Try it when they hang up out there and won’t come any closer.
• You need a shotgun and heavy loads. I prefer a 12 gauge with an extended “turkey” choke and 3 ½ inch turkey shells. These heavy-feathered birds are tough, and I like to throw a powerful punch. Plenty of turkeys have been taken with a 20 and even a 410, but my goal is to kill a turkey, and I place the odds in my favor here. I also enjoy hunting them with a bow. That’s a whole nuther subject and probably not the right choice for the new turkey hunter.
• Spring means love to the tom turkey, so learn to speak the language. You don’t need a vest full of calls to have success hunting turkeys, but after you call in that 1st one and shoot him, you will be hooked and buying an assortment of calls and goodies! To break this down to its simplest form: (1) buy a slate call or box call. These two are easy to use and they won’t require a ton of practice time. (2) Visit the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) website and listen to the recordings of actual birds. The NWTF site is a trove of great information!
Take advantage of that small family owned parcel of land, or that deer lease that gets locked down in late winter and not used again till fall. You will not believe the rush of excitement that a gobbling tom turkey brings at 10 yards!
Remove and thoroughly clean the 2 breasts from your wild turkey. Cut the breasts into strips approximately 2 inches wide. Use an egg wash, then bread them good in flour, salt and pepper. I double coat by using this process twice on each strip of meat. Deep or skillet fry at 350 degrees. Hint: I like Kentucky Colonel seasoned flour for chicken fried turkey breast, and it also makes great cream gravy! The recipe is on the box as white sauce. But its cream gravy.
This is simply a beginner’s guide to the thrill of hunting turkeys. Give it a try! If you enjoy the sights and sounds of a fall deer stand, just wait ‘til you watch spring bloom right before your eyes, and Mr. Tom comes running to your call, stops, gobbles and goes full fan right in front of you!! THAT is when you invite him over for dinner!
January 31, 2020
As I sit here at my computer deep into January, my thoughts more and more every day are filled with budding trees, gobbling turkeys, flowery banks along the lake, 60 degree water and jigs! I guess it’s my favorite way to bass fish. Flipping a big ol’ football jig with a proven trailer into a likely spot that just might hold a photo op! My only double digit bass came on a big jig. The video loop in my mind is still vivid. Murky muddy April water less than a foot deep. I know of a place where the creek channel runs 6 to 8 feet deep with a brushy flat that runs about 15 or 20 feet wide from the edge of the creek to the shoreline. That flat is 2 feet deep or less. It was that flat that I was targeting with a ¾ ounce football jig, dark skirt and watermelon/red rage craw. The water was too stained to sight fish, or visibly locate bass on spawning beds, so I was flipping the big jig close to the bank and slowly hopping it, inches at a time toward the creek channel where I would let it tumble down.
Big females will visit the shallow spawning bed to lay eggs, then move out to the deeper channel nearby, and revisit the bed, or even another nearby bed to lay again. On one particular pitch I landed the jig within a couple of feet of the bank. Hopped it back slightly 2-3 times, and then it happened. The visual that all jig fishermen are familiar with. My line started swimming out towards me. A large percentage of the time the fish will swim with your jig towards deeper water. Along the way she is trying to crush the meal in her mouth while she goes. In other words, she’s likely gonna hold on to it for a bit. A fast reel is necessary. Many times you’ll need to “catch up” with her or reel up your slack line before setting the hook. When I did set the hook that day and the fight began, I quickly realized that this was a new experience for me. I had never felt that “setting the hook in a stump” feeling that I’d heard about with giant bass before, but this was it.
When I set the hook, she didn’t turn, but she did shift gears and pulled the nose of my boat lake-ward. I always use 55 lb braid so breaking off wasn’t likely. When she surfaced I looked into a mouth that was similar to the top of an oversized coffee can. The big 3 pound can. I was alone, so I did the netting myself, and the weighing (10.3), and the photography then released her to finish her springtime chore. Away swam the only 10 pounder that I’ve ever seen on the end of my line.
Since that day there has been one other that might have broken the magical mark, but I never got my hands on her. After a short fight, she came up, shook next to the boat and threw my jig. But I had seen a mouth like that before. She was quality. Sometimes, its swimming line, sometimes you can visibly watch the spring spawner pick up your bait, sometimes you flip that jig into a bush and the whole thing shakes or the grass in the lake moves, the water swirls from a mighty tail doing a 180 to pick up your jig! It’s an exciting way to bass fish. Jigs are certainly not a spring only option, they work well all year, but for me in the springtime the flipping stick is in my hands more than any other weapon. I can safely say that the biggest majority of my 5 to 8 pound largemouth have come on a jig.
Set up your plan now, in January and February. Look at lake maps for ideal spawning areas to target. Go get a heavy backbone 7 ½ foot flipping/pitching rod and a quality reel that a giant fish won’t strip the gears in. It is truly a shock when you feel the strength of a BIG bass. A fast reel is crucial, 7:3 minimum. Practice in the back yard and get good at hitting small targets 20-30 feet from you. The before mentioned coffee can is a perfect pitching target.
*Keep an eye on the water temp. 60 degree water is the number that I watch for. Bass will start thinking about moving shallow at 55 degrees, 65 degree water is game on!
*The bigger females will spawn first. I don’t know if it’s a pecking order or a metabolism thing or what…but they do.
*As mentioned before, the females won’t spend all of their time on the nest or bed. Try running a chatterbait in nearby deeper water as well. I like a chatterbait that mimics a sunfish. Sunfish are bass egg eaters, and bass will attack them in defense of the nesting area.
*Send me a picture! www.bbkoradio.com
January 22, 2020
Has common sense completely evaporated?
To assume that the more than 17 million conceal carry permit holders in the U.S. and the millions more gun owners that don’t have a permit are a threat to society and should be restricted in our freedom to come and go as we please is simply fuel for a bigger agenda. It’s an agenda that seeks great power. Power that those pushing gun confiscation know isn’t possible if solid citizens are armed. That is why we have a 2nd Amendment.
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…”
~President George Washington to Congress in 1790
Common sense tells us, and President Washington knew, that it is the undisciplined criminal and not the gun owner that murders people.
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
~Thomas Jefferson quoting criminologist Cesare Beccaria, Commonplace Book.
Walmart announced this week that they would prefer you be an unarmed person when you enter their stores. They didn’t make that decision for your safety in my opinion, but to appease anti-gun politicians and media. The official word from CEO Doug McMillon was “…we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where open carry is permitted-unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.” Walmart says that once the existing inventory of pistol and short barreled rifle ammo is sold, they will stock no more. Walmart has also decided that folks in Alaska don’t need a handgun. That’s the same decision they made for me at my local Wally World and the other 49 states back in the 90’s. I understand that Walmart leadership had to say something. I get it. Walmart has been in the news a lot lately because nut cases have chosen to murder there. But, these decisions were made based on image, not sound logic.
It would thrill me to hear a major CEO in our nation stand up on his/her hind legs and quote Jefferson or Washington or maybe Benjamin Franklin when he said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.” (Historical Review of Pennsylvania 1759) How great would it be to hear a bigwig state that America is made up, for the most part, by hard-working, tax-paying citizens that are our greatest resource in economy, charity and safety. That the armed citizen is welcome here openly armed or concealed. To punish the millions of folks that do the right thing day after day because of the actions of a murderer is insane. If a big boss would encourage true freedom, he/she would have the safest shop in town.
Rattlesnakes hang out near deer feeders because they know the meek little mouse likes corn too and doesn’t carry a 44 mag. Is this a good game plan for such a strong, honest and armed nation? Leave the 44 behind, make it known through the media that XYZ company doesn’t allow personal protection, then show up at XYZ with your loved ones? Not according to smart guys like Franklin, Washington and Jefferson. Walmart’s decision this week wasn’t earth shattering. They didn’t say NO FIREARMS may be carried in our stores. But it was a sip of lukewarm coffee. No good. And it’s pushed me to rethink things a bit.
I plan to be a smarter shopper in the future. I will spend a little more time in this evil and dangerous world considering where I will spend my hard earned pay. Where I will spend time with my family and friends. I will worship, shop, work and play in areas where the world’s largest army, the armed U.S. Citizen is welcomed. I haven’t made this decision because of anger at folks like Dick’s Sporting Goods or AMC theatres or Chuck E Cheese or Jack in the Box. It’s America, and those folks can choose who to invite over, just as I can choose where to eat, watch a movie, or eat a meal. It’s just good common sense. Take your family to safe environments, and American citizens well-armed are safe. It’s so simple to web search retailer rules on personal protection.
Retailers with anti 2nd Amendment rules assume every day that the vast majority of us would never harm another. In assuming that we are all pretty safe folks, they, in wrong thinking, decide that only the rattlesnake poised by the deer feeder should be armed. Where is the common sense in that?
September 4, 2019
Often, I fish with a buddy as a co-angler. Trips in my boat are much easier, because loading my gear over to another guy’s vessel is much akin to inventory week at Bass Pro Shops. You at this very moment might just have a “yep, I know” look on your face. Sometimes we are fishing a tournament, and I want all of my “tools” at my disposal. Spinning gear, rods with various backbone and tip. Heavy flippin' stick, medium weight for throwing lighter weight baits and a truckload of medium heavy rods rigged with various ready to go baits; we are just getting started. My tackle bag weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty pounds. It’s like carrying a bale of alfalfa hay with you all day when your in another guys boat. He, rightfully so, is using all of the storage space because he never misses a sale at the local bait n tackle store either. So…there’s Bertha the bag. Smack in the middle of everything and surrounded by eight rigged rods ready to go.
Sometimes it’s a fun trip. Just fishin'! You meet your buddy on the dock as he motors in toward you, all the while explaining "how the large-mouth had been schooling for forty five straight minutes and would eat a lug nut if you threw it in their direction. Never seen anything like it…had to leave em to come get you.” Fun trips are easier. More like moving from a small apartment rather than a six bedroom three story. Here are a few common sense ideas for fishing from the back of the boat for fun and tournament fishing.
On a fun trip, think convenience-Convenience for yourself and your buddy. If everything you bring has three sets of treble hooks, the boat captain is gonna get sick of taking you to your hang-ups. Unless there has been an incredible crank bait bite or jerk baits are the only way to catch em right now, I lean towards single hook setups from the back of the boat. Your gonna hang up, it’s just a part of fishing. If you’re not fishing where the junk is, you’re more than likely not going to catch them. But, single hook setups cut the numbers waaaaay down. I think top, middle, bottom (water column) and bring one rod and reel for each depth. I take along a spinning rod with 10 or 12 pound fluorocarbon for drop shots and finesse stuff in case of a tough bite. I include a bait cast setup with 12-14 lb mono for search baits. Typically a spinner-bait or swim-bait. A second bait cast setup has heavier fluorocarbon, 14 lb for flipping creature baits into flooded timber, shoreline habitat boat docks/houses etc. With this mentality, I’ve now dropped from 6 or 8 rods to three. I’ve also left Bertha at home and now carry three bait boxes. A spinner-bait/chatterbait/swim-bait box, a finesse box with small terminal tackle and a worm box with bigger soft plastics, hooks, weights etc. Nothing you borrow will fit you better that your life vest. It’s the one you have confidence in and it’s important to bring it. Snacks, a couple of bottles of water…good to go.
Things change when you are fishing the back of the boat in a tournament situation. The thing that you need the most is the easiest and lightest thing to pack...knowledge. Homework is key. Previous tournament results, successful seasonal patterns, your boater's preferred techniques, the weather forecast and lake knowledge-all important pieces of a winning strategy. With that said, a lot of gear goes along with it. Baits that have had success on this body of water, the rigs that will fish them properly, rain gear, top middle bottom baits to match your boater's preferred areas (where the trolling motor goes, you go). Time and the thrifty management of it may be the difference in cashing a check and posing for pictures. Rods rigged and ready are big time savers. A half dozen on the deck. A pattern emerges during the day on a bait that you’d never have suspected…good thing you brought Bertha along…”cause I know I have a couple of those in here somewhere”. You’re gonna need your stuff. New backpack and specific to co-angler bags are on the market now that allow you to carry a ton of stuff (if not all of it), lunch and a few drinks in them. I use one of the new backpacks that allow me to stow my big bait boxes vertically rather than Bertha’s horizontal option, cutting storage space down to the floor between my seat and the front deck...perfect co-angler option. I can also lift and carry this backpack with one hand instead of needing both, meaning one trip from the parking area to the boat. One of the greatest discoveries that I’ve made is a lunch idea. Uncrustables! PB and J sammiches!!! Pre-made, individually wrapped, compact, crust trimmed away just like mama used to do it, time savers, sealed edges to prevent grape jelly on the carpet, delicious and perfect for boat or blind! And….they taste great.
Manners are another item that takes up no space but gets you invited back. Less is more, pack light. Pay for the gas, it's expensive to run all day or two. Bring the ice. Be handy with the net for your boater, back the trailer at launch and load. Offer up the Uncrustables...You're both gonna want several throughout the day. Share info without being a know it all. Pay attention to your boater. If he/she likes to talk…talk. If they don’t...shut the pie hole and fish. Cast to your water, it’s in the back like you, unless the boater invites you to forward cast. Don’t depend on the boater to supply your gear. Baits, culling clips, pliers, baits, rain gear, line, hooks, weights, towel, stuff...buy the big backpack!
June 28, 2019
Her name is spelled Xayden. It's pronounced Zayden. Don’t ask me. All I know is that she’s 3, adorable, a pain in the butt at times, more fun than a pickup bed full of monkeys, and she’s my granddaughter. We find very little common ground inside the house. I have no interest in those two pups she’s glued to on TV, and I hear that dreaded Mickey Mouse song in my head at night. Let me be clear, I do not give a solitary hoot where "Toodles" is. Yes, I play along with the stuffed animal parade, the endless desire for me to put down the latest copy of Bassmaster magazine and pick up a story book...again. I’m kinda shocked that by now we haven’t erased the words from the pages with our eyeballs simply by reading and re-reading. There is constantly a miniscule bug on the floor, under her chest of drawers, in total darkness where Pappaw has to lay face down on the floor with a flashlight to see. It is uncanny how she spots these things, but none get past her! Walking through the pasture with enough visual happening around us to overwhelm and amaze, she spots a dung beetle in a dark shady spot. God given gift of insecta-vision!
And THERE is my common ground with my Xady lady. We are hunters! It is outdoors where we enjoy our best playtime together! My heart grows younger out there, and she grows up faster. We meet in the middle with a butterfly net, a five gallon bucket and a feverish hunt for bugs to drop in the bucket. Mayflies were her quarry of choice earlier this spring, and she was very good at catching all of them that were at about 32 inches or lower. The natural course of things has moved us from mayfly season to her favorite...The roly poly. It's part of her big 5. I assure you that you’ve never seen a grown man grinning with an 8 pound bass in his hand any happier or more excited than Xady with a poly. When the weather warmed a bit more and the poly parade started in the cool mornings, she was ready. Yes, sadly some polys made the ultimate sacrifice during their time in poly compound. Over-handling, I believe the cause. Even tho death came calling for some of the weaker little insect versions of the armadillo, they still counted towards her tally. Near 20 on that particular safari. It was a tremendously successful outing.
Trips to the ranch are a big deal. She knows that the first stop for supplies is Buccee’s. Corn for the deer, hogs, birds, coons and coconut fudge for us. Once we pass through the ranch gate, it’s out of the car seat and riding shotgun with her head hanging out the window like a fella’s favorite hound. While I hoist the corn for distribution, she hunts. Everything is a wonder! Like the rock that she picked up and asked me about. I explained that it was actually a world record cow patty...true Boone and Crockett material... a dandy. “Don’t eat it.” I teach her these important things, and without her even trying or knowing, she reminds me that the blessing of time in the field, the boat, a conservation area, BLM, National Park or old deer feeder is very very special.
How callused and spoiled am I? Would I be happy for a couple of hours in the floor of the boat with a box of night crawlers? No, but to see her pure joy in that reminds and refreshes my roots with critters and the places they wander. Poly safari in the front yard, poop safari in the pasture…a precious little one’s squeal of pure joy as a night crawler slithers thru her fingers. Safari is a journey, an expedition, a mindset that anticipates with great eagerness what lies ahead. It’s the stop for fudge along the way, the ride through the pasture, the moment when the turtle first lumbers into sight. It’s sunrise in Cordoba when more doves than you ever imagined start lifting from the roost, or sunset on top of Going to the Sun Road.
Pre-dawn when it’s just light enough to see that yes, that’s the big boy I’ve hunted for three years. In a wink he’s gone, but safari still has had its full effect on your heart. Thank you Lord! There is a 3 year old inside of you. Turn her loose, send her on safari near and far. And if you net a poly that’s 3/8ths inches or more, call ol' Roy at Truelife Taxidermy.
May 24, 2019