June’s Outdoor Column

kid in boat fishing


The month of June is always a transitional month for the fisherman. The fish have, for the most part, already dropped their eggs, the water is beginning to warm up and the muddy waters of spring are beginning to clear. Mosquitoes become a problem while fishing as well as gnats and ticks and these can cause a real problem for the angler.

Father’s Day always falls during the month of June as well as some Free Fishing Days, at least here in Illinois. This gives families a chance to renew their fishing times together as dad takes son or daughter or grandpa takes grandson or granddaughter.

Staying safe on a fishing trip is a must and I encourage anyone getting into a boat to be wearing a life vest whether you are an avid swimmer or not a swimmer at all.

Your local Big R Stores have long supplied its customers with their fishing needs. Insect sprays, life vests, and tons of fishing equipment are there for customers to stock up on for the summer.

Please check yourself for ticks when you return for your fishing trips. Ticks not only carry Lyme disease but they carry other problems as well.

You can remove a tick that is dug into your skin by placing a cotton ball covered with dish soap, such as Dawn, over the tick. This will shut off the air to the tick and it will eventually let go and become entangled in the cotton ball. If, after a tick bite, you become ill, get yourself to a doctor immediately and tick bites can result in some severe and permanent damage.

Another bad summer pest is a chigger. Walking through the tall grass to get to a fishing spot or a wooded area can bring you in contact with chiggers. These nasty mites can cause a welt which can itch like crazy. The best relief I have found for these is at a drug store; it’s called Chigarid. Back in the old days a chigger bite was covered with clear fingernail polish. Chigarid smells like it has fingernail polish in it but also has extra ingredients to stop the itch. The object to killing a chigger is to cut off its air supply.

A good insect repellent will keep chiggers, mosquitoes and many other summer-time pests from ruining your fishing trip or trip to the woods. There is nothing worse than coming home from a fun trip and finding yourself miserable for the next several days because you forgot to protect yourself from these unwanted pests. And while you’re at it; don’t forget the sunscreen!


May’s Outdoor Column


When May arrives each year thoughts turn to warm weather and with the warm weather comes fishing and boating and the big Memorial Day Weekend at the end of the month.

My thoughts always turn to nighttime fishing and big bass about this time of the year. I have taken some big bass in my lifetime and many of them have come after the spawn. I always mark May and up to mid-June as a prime time for me to take a monster bass and many of them have come at night fishing big spinner baits in the dark of the moon.

There is nothing like working a big spinner bait on a night when the waves are slapping against the boat and the fish are on. There is also nothing that will get my blood pumping faster that a hard strike after I’ve been lulled to sleep by the quiet of the night.

I like to fish big spinner baits with big blades, either copper or silver trailed by a big piece of pork rind. Together these are a big mouthful for a bass but they also attract big bass. The throbbing of the big blades against the dark sky can bring the big bass out of their hiding and give a person one heck of a thrill.

Big bass like big baits and almost all big bass are female. Most male bass don’t exceed four and a half pounds so the bass in the five to nine pound class are going to be females. These big females have just dropped a large portion of their body weight when they laid their eggs so they are ready to feed.

These hungry sow bass can go on a feeding frenzy and gorge themselves with large meals on any given night or day for that matter. I once caught a big bass on one of these big spinner baits that had just swallowed a full size bullfrog which still had its legs sticking out of her mouth. I don’t know where she was going to put the spinner bait since her gullet was already stuffed with the frog there was no way she could get the lure down.

I believe that many times they go on a feeding spree which they can’t control and just strike at things out of instinct rather than need. If you can find them on a night like this you can have some amazing fun.

Try going big this spring for big bass between mid-May and late June. This has always been prime time for a big bass and always will be. I trail all my spinner baits with Uncle Josh pork rinds, shaving them down with a razor blade when they have that big meaty end. I fish the Jumbo Frog, the 4-to-a-jar Frog, and the 4-inch Split-Tail Eel (Black). I find these better than anything on the market for wiggle behind my lure.

Check out your local Big R Store for all your fishing needs and do some night fishing this year; big bass prowl the nighttime hours and can give you some great fishing moments.

April’s Outdoor Column

April Showers and warm weather bring up the mushrooms and this sends many people into the woods to hunt for them. Most everyone agrees that they are fun to hunt and great to eat but what is really known about this group of fungi?

Mushrooms grow from a mass of tiny threads called mycelium. These threads come together to form the mushroom body which is nothing more than a reproductive structure containing the spores that will form next year’s mushrooms.

Mushrooms are neither male nor female but reproduce asexually. The bodies of those that aren’t found and picked simply turn to dust or spore. You can see this in the fall if you kick a mature puffball and a mass of what appears to be dust flies out.

A spore is not a seed as seeds are formed sexually with a male and female cell being involved. A spore is an asexual structure produced by the billions. If every morel mushroom spore survived we would walk on mushroom as we moved about.

If a spore lands in the right place, receives the proper nutrients and moisture and has sufficient warmth to grow the spore will begin to grow into these tiny threads. The correct nutrition is normally leaf litter and decaying trees, stumps and limbs. Some trees are better than others with the American elm being at the top of the list for mushroom production.

Certain spots are much better than others for producing the morel mushrooms but they can be found along fence rows, under pine groves, in old cemeteries and even in yards. They cannot be there one day and be there the next. It normally takes good rainfall and a moist ground along with the proper warmth.

Early in the season hunt the south facing slopes as these warm up the fastest due to the angle of the sun. Once they begin to show up it isn’t long before they can be found about anywhere.

Mushrooms have no caloric value so the only calories you get from eating them are the calories that come from the breading and the butter or oils that you fry them in. Many people say that the deer eat them and this has led to the reduction of mushrooms found. I cannot confirm or deny this but can tell you that very few animals eat something that doesn’t have caloric value for them. The only reason they would eat them would have to be that they simply like the taste.

In earlier times mushroom hunters used orange sacks or burlap sacks to carry their mushrooms in. These sacks would allow for the spores to fall out and help in propagating the mushrooms. Today most hunters use plastic sacks which hold the spores inside.

There is lots of controversy and lots of stories about mushrooms. Just get out this spring and enjoy the hunt and stay safe!