Thursday, May 30, 2013

5/26/2013 Brush Creek Float

Last Sunday we decided to float a stretch of the Ohio Brush Creek in search of smallmouth bass. We got on the water at about 3:00pm and planned on floating 3.5 miles down to the next public access where we parked a second vehicle. Sean and Amanda started out tossing large jigs with crayfish trailers, just to be using something different I started out using a Rebel Wee Craw crankbait, a bait we have known to do very well in creeks. Sean got on the board early with a small largemouth and soon after I got a small saugeye, which was a pretty surprising catch. Fishing remained consistent throughout most of the day, not really hot, but not too slow either. Most fish were on the smaller side, but that was expected fishing in a creek. To our surprise, we mostly caught spotted bass rather than smallmouth.

Amanda got the first decent fish of the day,  a 15 inch 1lb 10oz smallmouth, a new personal best for her.
1lb 10 oz 15 inch Smallmouth Bass
Sean then got the best spotted bass of the day at 13.5 inches and 1lb even.
1lb 0oz 13.5 inch Spotted Bass
Amanda also hooked into a 3lb 10oz channel cat on her jig which gave her quite the battle in strong currents. Later in the day I got a couple decent fish myself. The first was a 14oz 12.5 inch spotted bass, a little smaller than Sean's but a personal best for me.
14oz 12.5 inch Spotted Bass
The second was a smallmouth at 15 inches and 1lb 8oz.
1lb 8oz 15 inch Smallmouth Bass
All these pictured fish except for my spotted bass were caught on jigs with crayfish trailers. My spotted was caught on the wee craw crankbait.

At one of the more severe looking riffles we came across I took the liberty to shoot my first video on my NuCanoe. It turned out to not be as bad as it looked.

Even if the fishing would have been bad, the scenery alone would have been enough to enjoy the day.

Monday, May 27, 2013

5/25/2013, River Fishing

Saturday we had planned on catfishing with Russ again, but sometimes plans don't work out. We had a predetermined meeting time of noon on Saturday. However, Friday night we failed to get bait, and Saturday wasn't much better. Saturday we woke up at 7am and hit a creek near the house to try and get a few creek chubs. After 3 hours we only had 6 chubs in the bucket. With limited bait, Amanda and I decided to throw them back and just go bass fishing instead. I called Russ and broke the bad news to him. He was set on catfishing, and offered us his bait. I told him that we'd go catfishing but I would have to go buy bait from a local bait store.

We quickly loaded the car up and grabbed some bait. We met up with Russ and hit the river. The water was teaming with fish at our launch point so we took a few casts with our bass rods. After floating for a few minutes Amanda landed a 27 inch gar.
After we let the gar go, Russ landed a small drum, then a buffalo, and another buffalo. He definitely seemed to be on a roll.
All the while I had yet to land anything other than one small skipjack....which later would come in handy. At about 6pm I had given up on fishing for bait and decided to start anchoring and fishing for catfish. I took a few pics of each spot as I anchored just to kill time and to remind myself of the water temp and water depth for my fishing log. Here's one of the better pics.
At about 8pm we found a good catfish bite. Russ was the first to miss a fish, and the first to land a catfish both on live bluegill. It was a short and stocky 18 pound 33" flathead.
I paddled down to take a pic and get a weight. Before I paddled back, I cut my skipjack in half and gave Amanda the tail half because I had plans for the head piece. Amanda quickly cut it up and tossed it out. It took less than five minutes before Amanda had landed her catfish of the evening. So once again I pulled anchor and paddled down to her to take some pics and weigh her catfish. It was a channel cat that went 8.5 pounds.
I then paddled back to my spot and started fishing once again. After watching them catch fish for the next hour and a half I decided to pull anchor and find a new spot. I quickly dropped anchor only to find that I had chosen to anchor in water that was too swift, the grapnel anchor began to slip until it caught a snag. At this point I had literally drifted to where I wanted to fish. I then tried to pull anchor....... I didn't get that anchor back. So down to one anchor I tried to find another with a log or something to tie off to. I quickly found a new spot and got my rods out, only to snag both on the first cast. At this point I was very frustrated. However in the distance I could hear Amanda and Russ' bait clickers going off and the sound of channel cats thrashing the surface of the water, so I regrouped and retied my rods. I pulled anchor and drifted into a fallen log to relax for a second. The kayak stayed fairly still and the water was pretty slack so it became my next fishing spot. I quickly put a piece of skipjack on my first rod and cast it out, I then began retying my second rod. Then the clicker began to would start and then stop, start and then stop. I quickly released the clicker and waited for the line to get tight. I then set the hook on my first catfish of the night, and the first catfish battle in my kayak. After a short battle I had landed my first catfish, a flathead that went 8.5 pounds.
After I got my first cat, I put out a small live carp and re-casted the piece of skipjack that I had caught my flathead on. After an hour I decided to meet up with Amanda and Russ to see what they wanted to do. We all pulled anchor and drifted down stream in search of our next spot. At this point it was well after dark. We drifted for about five minutes before I heard the rumble of water in the distance. Shortly after I look up to see Russ facing backwards making a straight line to the bank. We had come up on a rapid, and before we could react we were heading down the rapid at a very fast pace. We all made it down without dumping, but we were all ready for a break. We paddled to a rock island and discussed what else we could expect downstream. Russ quickly reminded us that there were several more obstacles awaiting us. After our heart rates settled down we pushed off the island and began floating back down river. We found another good stretch of calm deep water and tossed a few baits out. At this point I knew we were almost done fishing so I took my remaining chunk of skipjack, the head, and tossed it out just upstream of a nasty looking snag. Less than thirty minutes later the clicker began to slowly roll. Knowing that the bait was fairly large, I let the fish take the bait a little longer than normal. After a few seconds I disengaged the clicker mechanism, engaged the reel, and then waited for the fish to pull all the slack out of the line. I made a firm hook set and the fish began to take line. I felt three distinct head shakes and three drag slipps. And then it happened, the line went slack. The hook had failed to find flesh. After losing this fish I tossed out my largest carp, one at 7-8". I waited for a half hour and then decided to see what Russ and Amanda wanted to do. At this point Amanda was starting to doze off and Russ informed me of another obstacle just downstream of where we were fishing, one that we would have to drag our kayaks around. After this adventure we were all wet well over our knees and the air temps were dropping into the high forties, so it was the end of our trip.

All in all it was a decent trip, and I am definitely glad Russ was persistent that we go catfishing rather than bass fishing. We ended up catching 1 gar, 1 skipjack, 2 buffalo, 4 flathead, and over a dozen channel cats.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

More Bass Fishing

Here in the last week I have got out and bass fished a few times myself and caught a couple decent fish. The first one came at a local creek that Sean has found to be a very good quality largemouth fishery. Obviously we had never fished it before getting kayaks as it was inaccessible. We've yet to catch any smallmouth from this creek which is surprising. Anyway, last week I joined Sean on the creek for some bass fishing. Skirted bass jigs have been the bait of choice. I only caught 2 bass that evening but both were around 16 inches. This was the bigger one at 16.5 inches and 2lbs 5oz.
16.5 inch 2lb 5oz Largemouth Bass
This bass was pretty fat and most likely still full of eggs, so not all bass had started spawning on the creek.

The second one was from one of our favorite lakes for bass. A 19 inch 2lb 14oz I caught Saturday morning.
19 inch 2lb 14oz Largemouth Bass
This bass was somewhat skinnier than the bass from the creek so I'm thinking it was either a male or a female that had already spawned.

My primary bait has been a 1/8oz watermelon bitsy bug jig paired with a Berkley PowerBait watermelon Chigger Chunk and all of my larger bass have come on this bait. 50% of my bites happen before I even have time to engage my reel when casting right on the bank. The other 50% are after hopping the jig along bottom a few times and I will just feel weight.

Temperatures the last 2 days have been in the upper 80's and this has shot water temperatures well up into the 70's. It appears that all the lake bass are either spawning or done spawning from my experience. They say that the big bass spawn first and that fishing slows down after spawn for a couple weeks as they recuperate. With this in mind I'm liking the idea of targeting some different species such as catfish as Sean did this weekend.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kayak Catfishing

Well this weekend we decided to take the kayaks out to do some catfishing. My goal was simply to put my first cat in the kayak.

Friday we got off work, hooked up the trailer, and met up with Russ. We quickly got a dozen bluegill and then I decided to head up stream to a riffle where I had spotted some redhorse suckers the week before. This week the suckers were nowhere to be found. I did manage to spot a good sized channel below the riffle, a decent sized flathead waiting upstream of the riffle, 3 massive carp cruising a shallow flat with the flathead, and a nice spawning largemouth.....which was certain to be a flatheads dinner. Oh, and you can bet that I took a few casts at the flathead, however he wasn't interested in a jig and Berkley power bait chigger craw. I then heard a rumble in the distance, I turned to look over my shoulder to see a blackened horizon. With a storm approaching I decided to head back down the riffle to Amanda and Russ. I got back down to them and started tossing nightcrawler to catch a few more gills before the storm hit. Less than two minutes later it started raining, I looked over to Russ and Amanda to see how they reacted to the rain. Each of them seemed to be unphased by the light rain. Then the lightning started and the rain got pretty heavy, and once the lightning got close I made the decision to head back to the bridge where we launched from. We followed the bank back to the bridge and sat out the rain. Two hours later, we had all changed into dry clothes, got a bite to eat, and were almost certain that we were never going to see the end of the rain. At about 9 the rain had stopped and we got back in the water. Our game plan was to hit the area below the first riffle where we had seen the catfish while bait-fishing, and then slowly work downstream. On the first cast, seriously the first cast, Russ had hooked up. At this point I had re-tied one rod, set my anchor, and was working on my second rod when I heard the news. I quickly pulled anchor and worked my up to Russ. After a few quick runs, Russ had landed the first flathead of the night.

Russ' flathead went 12 pounds and 33". At this point I was super excited about what the night would hold so I quickly paddled downstream and began fishing. Shortly after I realized the creek had started to rise and started to get super muddy. The flow increased and we failed to manage another bite.

Sunday, Amanda and I went out to get our first catfish in the kayaks. We decided to try the daytime bite, my thought was that I could key in on where the fish were staging more so than I could at night. We got the kayaks in the water around 10am and fished until 8pm. I started fishing the shallow end of the creek and moved downstream every 30 minutes I spent without a bite. I got about 100 yards downstream (3 or 4 different anchors) from where I started before I got my first bite. The bites came from a hole on an outside bend, a typical holding spot for catfish. After missing a half dozen runs I decided to move on. That was a mistake, from that point on I didn't get another bite. At about 7pm I decided to call it quits and drift back downstream to the car. On the way down I decided to throw a 4" Berkley Power Bait Chigger Craw for bass. Turns out we should have been bass fishing, I managed 3 bass in less than an hour and one at 18".
Maybe next week Amanda and I will get our first catfish in our kayaks.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best Bass Fishing to Date

Monday, May 13th, and Tuesday, May 14th, Amanda, Jake (My little brother), and I took the kayaks out after work to do some bass fishing. We had some success in the lakes fishing the pre spawn bite, so we figured that the creeks were slightly cooler and possibly running a week or two behind the lakes. My thought was that the bite we experienced last week on the lakes would be similar to the creek bite this week. Turns out.....I was dead on, we absolutely tore the largemouth up.

Monday was pretty windy, 20 mph, and cold, 55 degrees. We started out tossing crankbaits, all of a different variety. To be completely honest the first trip was pretty rough until 6:30pm. At this point I had landed two largemouth on crankbaits at 14". However at approximately 6:20pm, Jake had moved off of the main creek into a tributary and started making funny noises. I looked over and he kept holding his arms up and saying he saw huge bass. I immediately dismissed it as carp feeding in the shallows. After about five minutes of hearing him go on I decided to check this fish out. I grabbed a black and blue jig and took one cast, and that's all it took. As I was fighting the fish Jake had hooked into a good one. We both landed largemouth within 10 seconds of each other....and each fish exceeded 3lbs. Mine at 3lbs 1oz, and his went 3lbs 8oz. Here's a couple pics of our first kayak bass double.
I told Jake to grab mine and take a picture with it, since he is 100 pounds lighter he would make the fish look much bigger than I would.
I then hooked a second and third bass out of this very spot that both went over 16". At this point, Jake and Amanda both made the switch to jigs and we began to make our way into the tributary. The action stayed pretty constant and we fished well past dark.

The second day was much warmer with temps in the mid 70's but the wind stayed in the 20mph range. This time around everyone was prepared, jigs pre tied. We talked about our game plan and decided to try and fish the main creek rather than the tributary.....for one reason, I wanted to give those fish a break and secondly, to see if we could find bigger fish. We caught a ton of nice fish again and I did manage to find one larger in the main creek than we did in the tributary the day before, but not much larger.

Here's my 3lb 10oz largemouth that went 20"...less than an inch shorter than Jake's 5 pounder from the previous week. The only difference is a belly full of eggs.
We caught a half dozen fish over 18", more than a dozen over 16", and lost quite a few smaller ones. Amanda had a rough time on both days, failing to land a fish over 18". Not to say that she didn't have the opportunity to land them, because she did, but she failed to bring them into the kayak. However, she did manage to get a giant green sunfish on a 1/4oz bitsy bug jig and 3" chigger craw trailer. The green sunfish went 9.75" and 11oz, a Fish Ohio trophy to add to her collection.
Everyone had fun, got out of the house, and Jake and Amanda got to take jig n craw 101. We had a blast and with the next few days forecasted to have scattered thunderstorms, it looks like we'll have a couple days to rest before the weekend.

With the last few trips we have managed to move team "esbfishing" on Kayak Wars up to 37th place in the worldwide freshwater standings, and 10th in the North East region of the USA Freshwater standings. Follow the tournament here. Kayak War Standings

Monday, May 13, 2013

5/9/2013, Pre Spawn Bass

Thursday, Amanda and I decided to head out to a local lake and try for some bass. The week before my little brother landed a 5 pounder that was full of eggs, so I figured the bass were close to spawning but was hoping that they had not yet started. So I grabbed the rods and kayaks and hit the water. We got the kayaks in the water at 4pm and fished until 8:30pm. The weather channel was calling for 6mph winds and 0% chance of rain until 8pm.........well they were wrong. At about 5 it absolutely poured for a half an hour, but it felt like much longer.

Before the rain started I managed to get 2 bass right at 14" on a black and blue mop jig so my hopes were high. Once the rain started I took a few pics of the rain and continued to fish while Amanda started to complain about being wet and cold. A few casts later I hooked up with a good one. I personally thought it was much bigger when I was fighting it, but it only went 20" and 4lbs 1oz.

After a few pics we released it back and discussed the situation......lots of rain. I took a picture of Amanda who at the time looked miserable.

Little did I know that the rain would last for twenty minutes or more. After the rain had started to lighten up I took another picture, at this point I was sure she was miserable.

An hour or so later I hooked into another good sized bass. After a few jumps I got the Fish Grips on it and pulled it into the kayak. This time around it was only a 3lb 2oz, 18" largemouth. I finished the day with 6 largemouth; 2 under a pound, 2 over a pound, 1 over 3lbs, and 1 over 4lbs. Not too bad for four hours of fishing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

NuCanoe Updates and Mods

Since getting my NuCanoe Frontier in March I've had it out a dozen times or so and I've got quite comfortable with it. Here's a look at my typical setup, nothing fancy.

I keep my seat back almost all the way to give myself ample standing room. I leave just enough room to tuck a life jacket between the seat and the battery box. I've not yet installed a fish finder or lights like I plan to so I'm not taking advantage of the battery box yet. I keep an anchor on each side of the battery box with the rope wrapped around a piece of pvc pipe. I have installed an anchor trolley on each side for each anchor. I tuck my Hawg Trough measuring device under my seat, these things are perfect for measuring fish for tournaments and such. I keep my rod holders towards the front out of my standing area. If I take more than 2 rods I tuck the others up the side. My tackle bag fits nicely in the front. I have a camera mount on the front of a freedom track next to my bag. Lastly I put my net over the nose of the frontier.

I've also bought a few more extras that I don't use or I've yet to install and also a second seat.

I decided to get a second max 360 seat so I could take my girlfriend out with me sometimes. It was cheaper and easier than getting a second kayak. Last week we tried out tandem fishing for the first time. It went pretty good. I stood in the middle most of the time while she sat on the front. I wouldn't want to both be standing. It was plenty stable with her sitting and wasn't too crowded. I've also bought 2 additional rod holders with screwball mounts. I'm planning on mounting some additional tracks on the rim of the frontier before using them. I like the idea of getting my rod holders up and out of the standing area. I actually won a 2 pack of 8" Yak Attack Geartracs in a raffle at the end of the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail Big Slab Crappie Challenge event last weekend. I was pretty excited since it was exactly what I needed. I plan to buy another 2 pack of the 8" tracks so I can have one track for each rod holder on the rim. For my transformer paddle I got some paddle drips. I found out on the first few trips that I was getting pretty wet while paddling. The paddle drips help. I also bought a slide mount and 4 mighty mounts which I don't use currently. I'm thinking about putting 2 of the mighty mounts up front so while tandem fishing the front person will have easy access to rod holders.

So at this point I still want to make a fish finder mount, install lights for night fishing, and mount some additional tracks and mighty mounts for more rod holder mounting locations. Also wouldn't mind getting a GoPro camera with some sort of remote trigger in the future.

This week I gave my frontier a good washing. It was quite dirty from several long trips and dragging it through muck.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BKFT Big Slab Crappie Challenge

Saturday, May 4th, Sean, Amanda, and I participated in our first kayak fishing tournament. It was the first event on the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail, a kayak fishing trail new in 2013. Obviously the trail is based in Ohio, the buckeye state. The first event was the Big Slab Crappie Challenge, the only event on the trail featuring crappie as the target species, all the other events are for black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted). There are 6 in person events including 1 main event at the end of the year, 2 online events, and big fish awards for select species (Largemouth, Smallmouth, Crappie, Walleye/Saugeye, Panfish/Rock Bass, Catfish, Pike/Musky). Currently I hold the biggest crappie of the year with the 14.5" I caught a couple weeks ago. The website for the trail is really nice and explains all the event details. I'd encourage any kayak angler in the Ohio area to check it out. When Sean told me that he was participating in the tournament I was skeptical at first but once I seen the website and how well put together it was I decided I was in too.

The Big Slab Crappie Challenge was held at Indian Lake, a lake that we have never fished nearly 3 hours drive away. After hours of research online we developed our game plan for finding the crappie on this 5000+ acre shallow lake. Check in was at 7:30am and Sean wanted to get an early start so we loaded up and were on our way shortly after 2am Saturday morning. We arrived at the lake at about 5:30am and first scoped out our planned launching point. By 6am we were at the check in location, the first ones there waiting. We watched dozens of boats cycle through the bait shop we were waiting at and learned that there were at least 3 bass tournaments going on and at least 1 other crappie tournament going on. We also noticed that the wind was already pretty bad, which was expected as it was in the forecast. The main lake appeared to have white caps. I wasn't looking forward to paddling against it and I hoped we could find a place to fish that wasn't effected by the wind as much.

The turn out wasn't nearly as big as we expected, 18 people registered. Entry was $20 with an optional $5 big fish pot. The tournament was CPR (catch, photo, release) with the 3 biggest crappie in inches forming your score. By 8am we were off and heading to our intended launch point. We got on the water at about 8:30am. Boats lined the shores every 50 yards or so. We headed to an area of the lake known as the game preserve, which was with the wind at this point. The lake was extremely shallow, 2-4ft in the areas we traveled. Visibility was about 6" and there was an abundance of lily pads lining the shores. Our plan was to probe these lily pads and whatever other structure we could find with minnow floats, crappie tubes, and small swim baits. My goal at this point was to just catch 3 crappie period while Sean set a more challenging goal of 30 inches.

Nearly an hour went by with no fish between us so it became apparent that it was going to be a slow day. We did however make it out of the wind for the most part. Finally Sean got on the board first with a nice 11.5" crappie, this gave me hope that maybe it wasn't going to be a numbers game and we would just find a few bigger crappie. This wasn't necessarily the case. I soon thereafter got on the board myself with a smaller crappie just over 9". Amanda followed suit getting on board with a crappie around 9" as well. After 3-4 hours we had all caught at least 3 crappie. Sean with a couple dinkers in the 6-8" range and his 11.5", Amanda with 3 around 9", and me with 3 around 9" as well. We had all also caught a few undesired species, bluegill, bass, perch, and even a carp. We had noticed that there were several carp splashing around in the lily pads, It appeared that they may have been spawning as I kept seeing 2 of them rolling around on top of each other. At one point they even hit my NuCanoe. So early in the day Amanda hooked into one of these carp and ended up landing it. It went 9lbs and 26".

So noon rolls around and at this point you couldn't fish a spot that hadn't been fished 5 times already. We were all just looking for bigger crappie to bump our scores. Towards the end of the day we all ended up fishing close to the same snag which was producing several crappie around 9", no doubt the hottest bite of the day. Sean easily weeded out his 2 dinkers with a couple around 9". Amanda found the biggest crappie of the day at 11.75". I also found several right around 9" so it was just a matter a bumping up very small increments.

Check in was at 4pm so we intended to paddle back at about 3pm. Shortly before this Sean and Amanda topped off their days with a couple 14.5" saugeye casting small swim baits out in the middle of the channel we was fishing. There was actually a bonus challenge to catch a 16" saugeye for some bonus points in the overall trail standings. They were both disappointed that they nearly had it. It was about a 15 minute paddle back against the wind for half of the journey. It was rough, especially for me in the NuCanoe which is effected by wind the most, but we all made it back. We loaded up and got to the measure in at 3:30pm. I measured in at 27", Sean came in at 30", and Amanda trumped us both at 30.25". We had no idea how everybody else did. While we we waited they made burgers and hot dogs, It's safe to say I was pretty hungry and we appreciated the generosity.

The final results came in. I don't remember all of the inches exactly, but the points and placement are posted on the trail website.

1. Chase Bateson 110 ~37.5"
2. Travis Belcher 100 ~36.5"
3. Amanda Jones 90 30.25"
4. Larry Haines 75 30"
4. Sean Stone 75 30"
6. Aarron Saldivar 60 ~28.5"
7. Rylan Hayes 50 27"
8. Bob Rusinko 40
9. Neil Farley 35
10. Jeff Schrader 35
11. Jeremy Haycox 20
12. Brad Lehman 20
13. Michael Hill 20
14. Luke Buxton 40
15. Kurt Nordquest 10
16. Quinton Echols 10
17. Kyle Kockheiser 10
18. Mike Wendel 10

So Amanda got 3rd, Sean tied for 4th, and I got 7th. Top 5 were in the money so Amanda got $60 and Sean got $30. The big fish of the day was a 14" by Chase Bateson. We were all pleased with our performance.

After the results they raffled off some stuff from sponsors which included some stuff from Yak Attack and some bait grab bags. If you were in the money then you weren't eligible for the raffle so I was the only one included in the raffle. They actually had more prizes than they did people and I was drawn early so I got what I wanted, a 2 pack of 8" Yak Attack GearTrac. I've been planning on mounting some gear tracks on the rim of my NuCanoe so I was pleased.
After the raffle we headed home, exhausted. Personally I ended up staying awake for nearly 40 hours. The next event of the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail is a 4 hour drive for us so as of now we don't plan on participating. We do plan on participating in future events though, Most likely the third event which is at Kiser Lake will be our next.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Couple Nice Ones.

Every now and then we have a trip that just isn't worth making a blog out of. Recently we have been having trips where we catch a bunch of average size fish with one or two notable fish mixed in. I recently purchased a third kayak for bringing other people along. I decided on the ascend d10t because of the price and the super wide platform. I'll write a blog about that later when fishing slows down.

Wednesday, Jake, Amanda, Russ, and I took a trip to a local lake to do some bass fishing out of the kayaks. I figured that the bass should be getting ready for spawn so they would be moving shallow and looking for nesting spots. Prespawn has always been one of our most productive times of the year for bass, so we loaded up the kayaks and hit the water. Upon arriving at the lake I noticed that the water was about a foot high and super muddy, so I had low expectations. Water visibility was very low, less than 3". I tied on a black and blue jig and decided to hit some of the shallow areas of the lake. I was the first to land a bass in a shallow creek arm. On the way out I met my little brother and decided to ask how he was doing. He said he hadn't had a I told him that I had caught one on a black jig right off the bank. At the time he was tossing a crankbait, I told him that he should switch to a slower presentation and fish near the bank. He tossed me his rod and told me to tie something on. I got in my flipping box and tied him on a weightless 7.5" Berkley PowerBait worm. I started working the mouth of the creek arm and he took off around the corner. About 2 minutes later I was talking to Russ and I see Jake paddling around the corner. I told Russ that he had a fish that he wanted to weigh....I guessed 2 or 3 pounds. Then I hear him say, "Get the camera", with a break in his voice. This is hard to explain in words but you could tell by his voice that he was super excited, that told me right there that he had one bigger than 2 pounds.

Sure enough he pulls a bass out of between his legs and I see what looks to be a 5 or 6 pound bass, as it shakes and about falls back into the water. He quickly paddled over and we took some pics, got it on a scale and released it to finish searching for its nesting site. The bass went 5lbs 0oz, and 20.75". She looked as if she was full of eggs so she hadn't dropped them yet. Her tail was red so I do think she was working on building one so it wont be long until they are on the nests.

That was about it for that day of fishing. Last week Amanda and I went out to do some crappie fishing and I managed to get a new personal best bluegill. I started at the dam of a local lake and worked my way toward the shallow end. I quickly marked a school of fish on the hummingbird, which I thought were crappie. I dropped my jig and Bobby Garland Baby Shad to the appropriate depth and started bouncing it back to the boat when I hooked what I thought was a good crappie. It put up a heck of a fight and even slipped drag a couple times. The gill went 9.25" and 9oz.

A decent fish between good trips keeps us content.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Morel Mushroom Hunting, Tips/Strategies and a Report

Saturday, I woke up at 10am and the local weatherman was calling for rain at 4pm. So with a limited window of dry weather I decided to go poke around the woods and see if we could find a few morels for dinner. During the trip I decided to take a few videos and write a blog on mushroom hunting. I have been hunting for mushrooms since I was 6 or 7 and have developed many techniques to help me find mushrooms. Here's a picture of a trip Amanda and I took in 2011, in Southern Ohio, not Michigan, Wisconsin, or any other state that is known for mushroom hunting.......just to show that I do know a little bit about mushroom hunting and add some validity to my strategies.
Here I'll highlight some of those strategies and then give a brief report with some videos at the end.

I typically hunt with 2 to 4 people other than myself and I have less than perfect vision. So I have developed strategies to give myself an advantage. I typically don't get the most mushrooms out of the group of people I hunt with but I finish a close second a lot.

Tips and Strategies:

First off you'll need to understand the mushroom season. Typically in southern Ohio mushrooms will start to come up the first week of April and last until the second week of May, when they dry up and the woods get too green. Mushrooms vary in color; black, yellows, and greys. There are variations of course, (spikes....morels that have an elongated shaft with a little head that's black in color, Whites.....very young grey mushrooms), however we only distinguish between the three. The black morels come up first followed by the yellow and then the grey. During the early season, (April) early black morels can be found on hills with southerly aspect (which way a hill faces). Hills with southerly aspect will receive the most sunlight, and therefore receive the most warmth. On our property we don't have south facing hills but some of the ridges and valleys have southerly aspects. On our first two trips we will look for fallen trees, thorn bushes, rocks, etc. that face south. Typically we find mushrooms right on the edge of these, our theory is that they collect the suns rays and heat the ground immediately in front of themselves. Other than aspect, variations in elevation also affect when and where mushrooms pop up. We hunt a hill that is well over 600 feet in height. It has been my experience that mushrooms will come up first on the top of the hill, and then they will pop up later in the season on the bottom side of the hill. One trip in the woods this time of the year and you will see a distinct line of green, where the vegetation has yet to pop up. We never find any mushrooms below the line of vegetation.

Once you have a general idea of where to look there are three techniques I employ to find mushrooms. The first of which is looking for color. Early in the season this is the style I use the most. When black mushrooms are up, and when the ground of the forest is somewhat dry, the black will contrast the rest of the ground. I search the ground for a dark spot and then focus on the exact spot to determine what the dark spot is. Mushrooms grow in patches so once you find one you will find another one, greater than 95% of the time. Therefore, once I find a mushroom I then employ the second technique of slowly looking at every detail of the ground. Its a slow and painful process, one that will give you a headache if you focus too hard for too long. (A good tip here is if its the first mushroom of the trip..... let everyone else in your group find the exact mushroom , this will let them know what they are looking for. It's also good to take a look at another persons mushroom to get your eyes adjusted back after long periods of time without finding a mushroom.) The third method I employ is looking for texture, I use this when the ground is wet when I'm looking for blacks or late in the season when the yellows and greys are up. Morels have a very specific look to them, wrinkled like a walnut that's lost its hull. Personally I cant distinguish the yellow and grey color from old leaf litter so I use this method later in the season. I simply scan the ground for the pattern of a mushrooms head, and once I run across something with the same pattern I'll then focus on that particular spot. Once I find a mushroom I then slow down and look at every detail of the ground in order to find its partners.  On occasion you will find a mushroom that has had its partners picked or one that is the first one of its partners to pop up. However, this is a rare occasion. If you ever find one and then lose the patch, go back to the spot where you found one and then make a circle around the spot until you find where the patch leads.

 As I said above I typically hunt with a group of people, and at times its pretty handy to have more eyes looking especially when looking for new patches. We start out in a line, probably 10 -15 feet apart and start walking a hillside. The first person walks below a flat, the second on the bottom of the flat, the third on the top of the flat, and then I walk the slope right above the flat. We start walking until we find a productive pattern.


Today we went out for a few hours and ended up finding around 150 morels again. All but 30 were blacks so its still early in the season. Were still waiting for some good rain to get those yellows really going.
While I was mushroom hunting I decided to take a few videos of mushrooms that I found. The first video I took was of a spot that had 5 black mushrooms and 2 yellows in a very small area.

The second video I took was of black, yellow, and grey mushrooms growing together. This is a pretty rare sight. Typically blacks will grow at one spot and then yellows and greys at a whole other spot.

The last video I took was of a mushroom I found and then as I was bending down to pick it I noticed a small speck of black on a leaf, to my surprise a mushroom was trying to grow through it.

All in all it was a pretty good day, however it did not rain and I could have went fishing. All wasn't lost, at least I'll have a morel dinner and I get a blog written.