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April’s Outdoor Column

Spring is finally here. There will be a lot of outdoor activity starting up as the weather finally breaks. Mushroom hunting, turkey hunting, fishing and trout fishing begin in April check to make sure you have the proper licenses.
 
Let’s talk about fishing. Many boats have been heading up and down the road for well over a month now as anglers head for the warm water power lakes in search of a place to fish during the cold weather. Some of the best fish I have ever taken as far as bass is concerned come during the early part of spring on days when most people wouldn’t even think of going out.
 
Here are a few of my secrets: Bass fishing, or for that matter, fishing for most anything. The more times you go fishing the more likely you are to be in the right place at the right time when a big bass is going to feed. You won’t catch them sitting on your sofa watching the pro’s fish a tournament. A big bass doesn’t feed often and being there when she is ready is the key to putting her in the boat. I live with the jig and pig during the spring of the year. I like a jig trailed by a split-tail eel and I use black almost all the time. I make my own jigs with a very soft weed guard and work the brush of the lake.
 
Another bait. Crankbaits, look for the lead hook on the front treble and cut it off leaving me with five hooks instead of six. look at how your bait would be traveling on your retrieve, observe the lead hook and cut it off with a pair of side cuts. This allows me to fish the crankbait around and in the brush without hanging it up. If you can bounce your crankbaits off the brush and not hang it up it will increase your number of strikes. Remember, if you’re not in the brush, you are not in the fish! This is an old saying that has been around for a long time.
 
Another old saying. That ten percent of the fishermen catch ninety percent of the fish. This is because they know how, when and where the good fish are going to bite.
 
Your local Big R Stores supply all your fishing needs so come in and see what is new for this spring and stock your tackle box, so you are ready to go!

November’s Outdoor Column

When November rolls around the major hunting seasons of deer, upland game, trapping and waterfowl begin to open.

The seasons differ if you live in Illinois or Indiana so hunters need to be aware of the laws that govern their hunt. Your local Big R Stores offer you most everything to outfit your hunt, whether it be clothing, footwear, ammunition, heaters, traps, or items for processing your game. Making the most of your hunt requires preparation prior to the hunt or the setting of a trap-line.

Don’t fall victim to assuming everything you put up last winter is in tip-top shape for this fall. Check every item you are taking with you and make sure it is ready to go before you head out. Tree stands need to be carefully checked. If you are an archery deer hunter you probably have already done that.

If you haven’t done that yet, do it now while you still have time. Most accidents involving a tree stand happen on the way up or the way down. Check your steps going up and down the tree carefully. Check the strength of the limbs you might use to secure yourself climbing up or down. Check the security of the stand itself to make sure bolts or screws haven’t come loose during the months it has set idle.

Waterfowl hunters need to do the same. Many times, these hunters find themselves out in extreme environmental conditions and, if something goes wrong or doesn’t work, the problems begin to mount for the hunter. Trappers need to have their traps ready to go. This means boiling and dyeing the traps and making sure all springs and triggers are working properly.

Scouting is most important in all phases of winter hunting and trapping. If you don’t scout out your area and just go in cold turkey, you may find your hunting or trapping season is over before it starts. Locating sign, finding feeding, roosting and sleeping areas is a must for most forms of hunting. Staking dens and setting wires ahead of the season can making trapping much easier, especially if it turns bitter cold.

Don’t forget the fishing gets good when the water turns cold. November has long been a good month for taking a big bass, walleye, trout or musky. Big fish prowl late looking for that last meal ahead of the hard freeze. Safety is a must during the cold weather whether you are hunting or fishing. Most accidents that happen to the hunter or the angler can be avoided by using a little care. Don’t become a statistic this winter; live to enjoy the spring!

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.