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October’s Outdoor Column

October, the most beautiful month in the minds of many as leaves change their color and the entire landscape takes on a different view. Waters cool down, hunting season comes in as temperatures begin to fall. Not only do the changing colors make this a great month but the fact that crappie move up into the brush ready for that last meal before winter and the row crop gets harvested leaving the big bucks with less cover to hide.
October has always been good to me when it comes to fall fishing; there are fewer anglers on the lakes and the fish are less stressed. Slipping into an area of prime cover allows me to take the big crappie that begin to stir.
I have never been a minnow fisherman instead I like the tube jig tipped with a bee moth. I find the bee moth to have the most tantalizing effect on both crappie and bluegill over anything I have ever used.
Many anglers don’t slow their baits down in the fall like I do. I’ve always said, “Fish your baits as slow as you can and then slow down some more!” Working your baits slow will get you a lot of snags but will also get you some monster crappie that you may have missed by moving your bait too fast.
I start the day with 25 tube jigs already rigged with a metal jig head and sitting right on the boat where I can reach them when I lose one of these baits. There are days when 25 baits are not enough for even a two-hour trip! Many times, I’m working my bait in the depths ever so slow and it just seems to stop as though I have hooked into a big strand of algae; then it begins to move. From October 10th on it is many times a big black crappie at that time of the year.
Let’s move on to another subject involving deer hunters. October is a prime month for tree stand accidents; many of these accidents could and should be avoided.
I know hunters that go into a stand that they’ve set up last season never checking it first. Steps going up and down from the stand can become loose and break bringing a hunter to the ground. The stand itself may have worked its way loose over the past year making it unsafe to shift your weight in.
Many tree stand accidents happen on the way up or down from the stand, the most vulnerable time when weight shifts especially if you are in a hurry after downing a deer.
Don’t become a deer hunting statistic, check your stand well prior to the season and make whatever adjustments and repairs that you need to make. Have a safe hunting season this year. I know a lot of hunters in my area that did not follow this good advice and are paying the price now; one was even a fatality!
Shop your local Big R Store for all your fall hunting and fishing needs.

July’s Outdoor Column

 

Once July arrives the temperatures tend to get very warm and so does the water. This keeps a lot of people off the water as far as fishing is concerned. Sometimes during these hot periods, the fish slow down and bass, bluegill, crappie and walleye really shut down for a while.

I find this is a good time to fish for something else or to change my bass fishing tactics to something else. A good change of pace sends me after carp and catfish and many times I head for the rivers to get a little action. I have long been a fan of good fights with fish whether or not I land them doesn’t bother me. I encourage anglers to practice Catch & Release and not worry about how many you can put in your frying pan. Taking a big carp or catfish is just as exciting as landing a big bass or walleye and July is generally the month when the big river catfish can be caught, especially the flathead. Catfish have been known to tilt the scales at over fifty pounds in several of the rivers near where I live in east central Illinois.

Many of the big flatheads come during the month of July and you had better have some heavy-duty equipment if you want to land one of these big ones.
Shrimp, chicken liver, shad entrails, along with blood and cheese baits are all used for catfish but, the flathead has a different type of diet. The flathead feeds on clean live bait such as small bluegills and cut bait (fish that have been cut up and pieces put on the hook).

Of course, many big catfish are taken with bank lines, trot lines, nets and jugs but, to me, that doesn’t give me the thrill of the actual battle one can have with a rod and reel.
The same goes for carp; hang a big carp on a rod and reel and the fun begins. Catch that same carp on a light fishing outfit and you have won a battle lost by many.

Carp are generally caught on live night-crawlers in the early spring but in the hot summer, dough ball is considered the best bait. I make a great dough ball out of ½ cup of yellow corn meal, ½ cup of flour. Add enough water in a bowl to knead the two ingredients together to make a ball. Bring a pan of water to a boil and drop the ball in and let it boil for about twenty minutes. Be careful the pan doesn’t boil over. Find an old rag or towel and lift the ball from the water to the towel and let it cool. Wrap up the dough ball and head for the lake.

Of course you can add things like vanilla, licorice, or other ingredients to the boiling water if you wish but I prefer that dough ball just the way it is!

Your local Big R Stores have all the fishing equipment needed to land these big fish as well as pre-packaged baits so check out their selection and have fun trying to tame one of these big fish.

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!