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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.

Outdoors, Hunting, Fishing

SEPTEMBER’S OUTDOOR COLUMN

 September is here and Labor Day Weekend seems to be the turning point from fishing to hunting for many outdoors men. Many will put up their fishing gear and break out their hunting gear once the holiday passes. After the Labor Day weekend, many find themselves fishing on area ponds and lakes totally alone.
If you have smallmouth bass, big bluegill or even crappie in your area, fall is a great time to go after these resources. Especially crappie, since there’s always a good crappie run in the fall. Which makes fall a great time to stock your freezer with fish filets before the hard winter sets in.
Before you pack your tackle away at the end of the season, remember to take a little time checking your equipment over. Make sure you check for broken eyes on rods, bent or broken hooks on lures and reels that need cleaned. Then before you store them all away for the season in a moisture free location, make a list of what you’ll need come spring. If you take a little time now, you can avoid hassles when the season opens next year.
During the month of September, many hunting seasons occur such as Canada goose and teal seasons just to name a few. The waterfowl flight forecast is a great tool for a waterfowl hunter since many species are slightly down in numbers but ahead of the long-term forecasts. If you’re unsure of the season dates for your area, check your Natural Resources website. They’ll have season dates and other information you’ll need on these early seasons.
And if you’re interested in your local youth deer seasons, you can find those dates on your local National Resources website as well as all the requirements. Youth seasons is a great time for dad or grandpa to spend some time with their young hunter and pass down the traditions of the family.
September is also time for trappers to get their license and prepare for the season ahead by boiling their traps, cutting stakes, finding sign and preparing all the equipment to get ready for the season ahead.
Don’t find yourself frustrated with gear that isn’t working, things your forgot to repair or parts you need for this year’s hunting season and next year’s fishing season. Check out your Local Big R stores where you’ll find everything you’ll need to make your hunting, fishing and trapping seasons a success!

 

August’s Outdoor Column

August is upon us, which means it’s time for all the typical fall festivities. Bonfires, tailgating and of course fall hunting and fishing. Several seasons open during August, such as squirrel, Dove and small mouth bass.
While the number of squirrel hunters has dropped from many years ago, the number of squirrel to hunt has not. An active squirrel will challenge the best rifle hunters while a sitting squirrel will test the marksmanship of all hunters.
Doves have long been tabbed the “Gray Ghosts of Autumn”. A dove can be a challenge for the best of hunters, darting and zig-zagging across an open field. Many a dove has looked back and laughed at the person shooting at it. Dove breasts, especially those marinated before frying, are excellent. Look for and remove buckshot before putting the birds on a grill or in a pan. The same goes for squirrels if you are using a shotgun. Many a tooth has been chipped on a buckshot left in the meat.
As the temperatures begin to cool down in August, the fish will begin their quest for food by leaving the deeper waters before winter hits. Perfect time to slip off your shoes and go wading in the rivers while taking advantage of the small mouth bass season that opens in August.
Even though there are cooler days in August, you’ll still find a few of those “Indian summer” days where the temps soar. A few things you’ll want to remember when you’re hunting; 1. don’t lay your game directly on a hot truck bed which can spoil your meat very quickly, throw something in your truck to elevate it, which will allow air to flow under the animal and help keep it fresh. 2. Even though there will be cooler days, there will still be the chance for those bug bites. Grab some insect repellent before heading out. 3. Everyone’s favorite, spider webs are one of those fall nuisance you’ll run into while out. A little tip, if you’re hunting with a firearm, carry it up and down as you walk and it will save you from those big webs.
Don’t miss out on all the outdoors has to offer in August. Get to your local Big R Store and stock up on ammunition, fishing tackle and clothing for the fall months ahead!

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!

 

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.