Monday, March 29, 2010

The pheasant revealed, and the panfish are biting

In my previous post, I challenged people to find the pheasant being pointed by the English Setter in the photo. When I took the picture, I didn't see the bird! Well, a few of you did see it, some did not, and a few weren't sure. Here you go:

The original photo

The hen pheasant was sitting tight on the other side of the tree! Click the photo for a better view

I made it back to the ponds over lunch again today, and the bluegills were fairly active, even though it is still pretty cold. Cubby jigs about 2 feet under a weighted bobber were the key. If there was wood in the water, there were usually panfish around it. The wood will absorb heat more quickly than the water and the panfish flock to dark wood early in the season. No real big ones today, but a good lunch. Totaled 8 'gils - all released.

I will be in Alabama on Thursday and Friday, trying to put my hands on some BIG bass. Last year, my son got one a little over 8#. It looks like we might hit it PERFECT this year. You'll get a full report over the weekend. My son is going back with me, but he has a handicap this year - he broke his arm on Friday. Luckily it was the left arm, so he can still cast and set hooks. We'll see how it goes. He'll undoubtedly catch a 12 pounder while I won't break 5!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More pheasants, and the fishing heats up

This pheasant thinks he's hidden

I had the opportunity to take a few customers to our hunt Club last week for pheasants. It's a great situation when your customers are also friends, and you look forward to getting to spend time outdoors together. We hunted Thursday and Friday. We all stayed at the club on Thursday nite and I cooked, so on Wed I thought I'd try to catch our hors d'oerves for the next night. I hit the pond over lunch. And, of course, I forgot my camera.

I fished for about 45 minutes and landed 9 nice (7" - 8-1/2") bluegills, 3 crappies , including one pretty big one for the pond (about 12"), and 2 walleye - small ones. Order of the day was the usual combination of Cubby jig and weighted bobber on an ultralight rod and 4# test. I filleted the panfish for the next evening.

We had a great time hunting both days. And - the fresh fillets of 'gills and crappie were GREAT! We also had thin strips of fried nilgai and bacon-wrapped pheasant breasts. (A co-worker had been in Texas a week or so ago and bagged a nilgai. I was the happy recipient of some cutlets) A little wine and snacks, and we were good to go.

The reason for the post is 2 fold - to let you know that the ponds in N. Illinois are picking up, at least with the panfish bite. And, I happened to get a picture on the hunt that I really like. It shows the manager of the club in the background, a pointing bird dog, and the pheasant. Can you find the pheasant?? Click on the picture to see it full sized.

Find the pheasant!

I plan to be out and on the water almost constantly from now on. My posts will try to be informative, and will try to keep you all posted on the progression of the fish activity in my area. It's not a blog to boast about the fish I catch, or where I go - I'm much more interested in helping others try to understand their waters.

And - don't forget - springtime is one of the best times to catch fish from the shores and shallows of any water, and is, IMHO, the BEST time to introduce newcomers to the sport. It is the "time of plenty".

Finally, not everything you see in the woods is BEAUTIFUL or PRETTY. On our club, there are always a lot of pheasants roaming free. And, free roaming pheasants attract hngry raptors. There are a LOT of hawks in the area, and they kill and eat a lot of pheasants. How do you know that a pheasant has been killed by a hawk? The hawks eat only the breast meat. So carcasses like this are fairly common sites throughout the property:

The hawks need to eat, too, and they capitalize on the relatively easy pickings of the plentiful pheasants.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

I couldn't stand it anymore - the forecast was for 70 degree + weather today. No snow. I HAD to get out and fish. But, I have very vivid recollections of getting shut out and completely frustrated on days similar to this in the past. You know the days - the unseasonable warmth after a long winter. The sun's rays belie the frigid water temps - ice out was only 2 weeks ago. But I HAD to give it a try. So I hit the ponds over lunch.

A picture of the best fish I've ever caught - the first one of 2010

Well, the weathermen were wrong. It was a nice day, but the wind was howling out the SW, and the temp never scared the 70 degree mark. But the SW wind was blowing the water from the very shallow end of the pond toward the deeper water around the dam. I figured the fish might be along the dam as well. They weren't, but I found willing bluegills in about 3' -4' of water. A Cubby mini-mite suspended about 18" below a bobber worked it's usual magic. The waves imparted all the action you needed. 10 minutes yielded a hit per cast, and 5 small-ish gills brought to hand. I have never been so happy to see small bluegills.

I decided to try the lower pond for the next 20 minutes. This is the pond that holds trout, crappie, and walleye as well as the usual 'gils and bass. It took a few minutes to find the fish, but I did figure them out, and ended this part of the afternoon with 6 nice bluegills, 1 crappie, 2 trout (about 16" each) and a surprise largemouth that was heavy and between 16" and 18". The hook slipped out just as I was ready to lip him (her?) and get a picture, so you have to take my word for the largemouth.



It looks like there will be plenty of posts to come from the ponds this spring and summer. I want to follow Butch's lead and try to incorporate at least 2 non-fish pics into the posts as well.

Looks like the summer of 2010 has begun!

I'll leave you with a few pheasants I saw on the way out. Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Four Points to Ponder

The following all happened this past weekend, and I believe it is a sign:

1) I saw a robin.

2) I saw a red-winged blackbird.

3) I heard frogs that, thanks to Wandering Owl, I identified as Chorus Frogs.

4) There was still daylight at 7 PM

I THINK, for the first time since November, that Spring might actually make it this year!!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fishing Ban??

[I try not to get on too much of a rant in these posts, but fear I might have failed with this one. Sorry in advance]

I was scanning the updates on my blog list and saw the title of Lizzy's new post at "From The Fisherbabe" - click on her site on my Blog List to read. I went to her site and read it, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. It is a well written and well researched piece. There is some background info that is not available in her post, so I'll try to fill you in on my understanding of some of the history involved.

The Task Force that Lizzy explains is absolutely stated correctly. The President is going to have the Task Force's recommendations for Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Management in the next 30 - 60 days. The part we all need to be concerned about is : How much will the task force include the interests of the sportfishing and boating communities into the National Policy Plan?

To us, it seems simple - a no-brainer, if you will. We all pay for our licenses, have the taxes on our purchases earmarked for continued well-being of our resources (Wallop- Breaux funds), and many of us actively seek to improve the environment itself, through donations, education, ... Pretty simple, huh?


There are contingents of people out there who envision ANY use of a natural resource as "too much". In the past few years, a number of Saltwater MPA's were established. MPA is a Marine Protection Area, and NO fishing is allowed. The rhetoric says these areas are overfished and need to be protected. If we could ever take the governments word as the truth, many of us would agree that, under those circumstances, the designated MPA's should be protected. The problem is that sport fishing is not separated from the commercial fishing interests. So, the sport fisherman who releases some of his catch, and is governed by ever tighter catch limits, is grouped in with the people who operate longlines, kill their by-catch, and historically rape an area of its fish until it is devoid of life before the set off to find a new area to kill. Areas off Hawaii, the FLA Keys, and California now have off-limits MPAs.

The cynical person thinks "Hmm - they already got through some MPA's in other areas - will they try in this new Task Force recommendation?" Color me cynical, because I don't believe that the sport fisherman's best interest is being taking into account. I believe the government reacts to the lobbyists with the deepest pockets, and the deepest pockets in this match are clearly those of the commercial fishing interests, followed closely by the tree-hugger types who think no one should ever fish.

Without seperating the sport fisherman from the commercial fishing operation, you clearly have an "apples - to - oranges" comparison. Every viable piece of scientific research has shown that the sport fishery has NEVER had a noticeable impact on a species survival. Where sportfishing has had impacts, the sportsman have embraced the actions needed to rectify the situation. I would point to the almost universal catch-and-release regulations imposed on many lakes in the far north country as prime examples. these areas have very short growing seasons, and any fish that reaches trophy size is a truly old, magnificent specimen that needs to be returned to the water. Whether the rules are decreed by the lodge, province, or self imposed by the fisherman, very few trophy sized fish are killed anymore in northern Canada. It has kept the trophy populations high, and people have shown they are willing to pay top dollar for the experience of the trip without having to kill the fish. It seems that none of this type of behavior is taken into account when the government creates a new rule that resticts sport fishing.

Recreational fishermen actually have a history of spearheading the imposition of limits on themselves, and their favorite species, as is evidenced by the striped bass laws that allowed the stripers to rebound from historic lows. (Do yourself a favor and read "Striper Wars" by Dick Russell. OUTSTANDING book about the striper situation.) We will do what needs to be done to protect our beloved ecosystems and resources.

The voice of the US Recreational Fishing Industry in Washington DC is the ASA - the American Sportfishing Association. they have provided the link that follows to allow you to email your congressmen, senators, and the President. Please take a moment to do so and make sure our collective voices are heard. The 3/9 update will link you to the appropriate page.
[I'm having trouble with the hyperlink - please paste the address below into the url]

Thanks for your help

Monday, March 8, 2010

A visit to Brookfield Zoo

(Remember - click on any photo to enlarge the image)

Zoo Entrance

We continued our excursions to Chicagoland's attractions by going to Brookfield Zoo on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, and a LOT of people figured the zoo was the place to be.

We have been members of the local zoo wherever we have lived. Brookfield, even though it is 30 miles away, is the closest to us now. Whenever there is a nice day and we don't have other plans - we go to the zoo. Its a great place to get a day's exercise while taking in the sites.

(Actually, my comment about going there on nice days is a misnomer. The BEST days are drizzly, cool, maybe some snow. It keeps the crowds down and you can have exhibits to yourself)

Saturday was a special day at the zoo. National Pig Day is March 1, and the zoo celebrates on the first Saturday after March 1. We have a standing joke in our house that I missed my National Day by one measly day (my birthday is March 2). I think I got the well earned reputation by being less-than neat and orderly around the house!

I also needed some more practice with my camera. So, I took a lot of pictures. Some of them actually came out OK. I hope you enjoy.

Our less than enthusiastic son at the National Pig Day sign. He was much less amused than we were.


Bactrian Camels. These animals are HUGE!

free flying fruit bats in the Australia House. Tough to get a photo with low light and no flash, but I tried! Click on image to see a few bats

Chinese newt

Dwarf crocodile

Macaw closeup

African Wild Dogs

African Porcupine

Lion statues at the South Entrance

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blog List Update

I have never posted about the blogs I follow, or why I find them so intriguing. I recently decided my Blog List needed to be cleaned up, and also decided this post was appropriate.

First and foremost, I don't list everyone's blog on my list. I list blogs that I like reading and, for the most part, are written by bloggers I interact with, and who reciprocate. That doesn't mean a person needs to comment on every post I make - not by a long shot. I generally don't do that, and don't expect it in return. But it IS nice to know that the people you are following and, in some small way, promoting, know that you exist.

There are blogs I read regularly that are NOT listed on my blog list. Many are very good blogs but are not primarily Outdoor related. I'll probably segregate the blog categories in the future and add those to the appropriate area but, for now, it's about the Outdoors.

Probably my key to having a blog listed (other than being one I like to read) is having a somewhat steady flow of posts. Since I opt to use the setting showing the title of the post and the time it was posted, those who have months between posts generally get dropped (Of course, if you happen to be in Afghanistan under rocket attacks, you have a good excuse! Right Albert?) This is why it is so frustrating for me when I get the periodic "Writer's Block" - I don't like when others slow down on their posting, so I certainly need to hold myself to the same standards.

My original blog list was all fishing blogs, because that's where my primary interest lies. I've expanded into some more hunting blogs and general outdoor blogs - my blog universe has expanded, and the blog list reflects that.

All that being said, I'd like to point out a few of the new additions to my Blog List, and throw out a few general comments as well. Click on the blog title on the Blog List to be directed to the blog.

BASS PUNDIT - there is never a lapse in posts on this site! But what makes this an invaluable resource is the MASSIVE list of bass, tournament, and general fishing site links pasted alongside his columns. I don't think I could follow them all if I spent the rest of my life trying.

DARK ART CASTER - Mizlan takes us along on his forays in Malaysia to catch snakeheads. I LOVE this blog on many levels: he fishes and posts frequently, his quarry is a fish that is known to us in the US as a potentially devastating exotic that has been illegally introduced to some waters here (but is native in his land), and the places he fishes for, and catches, these snakeheads are, to me, mind boggling! They are drain ditches, bogs, swamps - nothing anyone would ever fish here. And he always posts pictures, too.

MUSINGS OF MURPHYFISH - John entertains us from Wales with his lovely writing style. I am a voracious reader, and this is one of my favorite blogs to read. I just love his style of prose. Follow John and the Bog Monster along on their forays - I'm pretty sure you'll become a regular reader, too.

OUTDOORS WITH BUTCH - a newly found gem for me. Butch posts frequently and is a keen observer of the more subtle things in life. He takes and posts nice pictures to accompany his writings. I really like this blog.

TAMI CURTIS - What's Up Bass Fishing blog. I have followed this blog for a while but only recently added it to my Blog Roll. I've shied away from most of the Bass tournament blogs because I feel they are repetitious and self serving. But Tami's is informative, and her video work is outstanding. She fishes full time on the bass circuits, and I think people will be hearing a lot more about, and from, her in the months and years to come.

XSTREEM FISHING FIJI - What's not to love about a blog that posts pictures of Giant Trevally taken on top water plugs, and it is always warm???

And, finally,

I DON'T WEAR PINK CAMO IN THE WOODS - I really like the enthusiasm Kari shows as she blogs her way toward bigger and better deer taken with her bow. Now, however, I'm enjoying watching the blog morph into a fishing blog! After her first musky this year, it'll be all about fishing!

I've also experienced a resurgence in my desire to do more trout fishing. For me, that means fly fishing, but I couldn't care less how others pursue their trout. The interesting thing is that the newly kindled flames have been fanned by the blogs themselves. I USED TO fly fish for trout all over the country. When I moved to IL, with no local trout, that passion sort of faded into the background. But when I started reading the trout blogs, the desire returned, and now I'm making plans for an Idaho trip this year, with a couple other possible short diversions throughout the year. My TROUT BLOGS that I follow diligently are:






Finally, I really need to thank the "old-timers". That moniker sounds a little strange when you stop and think that it's only been a year and a half that I've been on-line and writing this blog, but they all feel like old friends. Kenny at KENNY's GREAT OUTDOORS, Mel at BLOG CABIN ANGLER, Lizzy at FROM THE FISHERBABE, and Owl at WANDERING OWL OUTSIDE have become more than just blogs to read - they've become friends.

It's strange how things evolve. Thanks for reading.