My Latest New Book

My Latest New Book
Fishing Different

Monday, May 28, 2012

Whats Happening to Common Courtesy?

I spend a lot of time on the water, fishing and gathering information for my books. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't find myself getting irritated by other boaters or personal watercraft operators who seem to feel that when they are operating a craft, everyone else must give way to them. I have learned to tolerate this lack of consideration for others most of the time but on holidays like this one, the level of ignorance reaches dangerous heights. Add to the problem a hot summer day with bright sun and some alcohol and you have the formula for desaster.

What in the world has happened to intelligent people having common courtesy for their fellow man. Has the "me" generation really taken over our national culture? I understand that when I was young I was taught to open doors for women and people older than I was, and that has now dissappeared. Those habits that change with time are understandable to me because they have always been a sign of progress as the generations move forward. But a total lack of consideration for other people, in favor of doing whatever makes one happy, will never settle in my head.

I have had young people speed by my boat while I was fishing, and they actually cheered because they came so close to my boat that they cut my fishing lines. I had one man in a sailboat cut accross the rear of my boat, hooking my lines and pulling my rods overboard, and then claimed that he had the right to do that because he was not under power. Sail boats indeed do have the right of way when not under power, but that does not apply when the sail boat is to your rear.

I have on occasion blamed the problem on the youth of many of the boaters, but I have witnessed many times, a boat load of young people with an adult driving, doing very dangerous things. Showing a bad example in this way is part of the problem. If it's good for the adults then it's good for all the kids.

Unfortunately I do not have the solution to this problem. Requiring safety courses for all boat and watercraft operators would apear to be a partial solution, but then there is the problem of enforcement. On large water bodies, enforcement is nearly impossible. Unfortunately I believe that this is simply an example of the direction that our American society is moving and it is not a direction that I like. I have decided that the only thing that I can do is try to continue to set an example for the young people and try to find ways to make that example stand out so it is noticed. Perhaps if we all try we can make some progress toward a more compassionate future generation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Advice For Beginner Fishermen and Women

There are a growing number of adults and youngsters alike that have never had any exposure to the excitement of freshwater fishing. Each month when I deliver my fishing lectures, someone always appears from the group in attendence, that has had no fishing experience and is lost for a direction to take getting started. "How do I get started" is always their first question.They are often surprised by my answer.

I start by telling them not to start by purchasing a lot of expensive equipment. Fishing can become an expensive sport, but it should not start out that way. My second piece of advice, offered in a joking manner but intended to be serious, buy one of my books and read it cover to cover and see if this is what you would like to try. The third piece of advice sometimes surpises people, invest a small amount of money to hire a fishing guide for a few hours of controlled fishing. This will offer the opportunity to try the various techniques offered by the guide, and also see first hand the type of equipment that he uses for the waters being fished.

If, after all of this, you still want to move forward, buy yourself a spinning rod and reel combination for less than $35. Get a few hooks and bobbers and some worms and try to find a small farm pond where you can sit on the bank and catch some sunfish or an occasional bass. Since these ponds are getting harder to find these days, you may have to go to a public access area of a local lake and try the same fishing technique. As you grow accustomed to this simple fishing technique, you will be in a better position to decide how far you want to dive into the sport of fishing. If you still like it, you can then buy another of my books to take you deeper into the different fishing techniques available to you.

Fishing is a great family participation sport.You don't have to be an athlete to participate, it includes a competitive element that brings fun to all participants, and it gets everyong outdoors and away from the computers and TV for a few hours of constructive fun. Try it you may like it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Alabama Rig--Good or Bad ?

There is a good deal of controversy about the emergence of the Alabama Rig for bass fishing. The configuration of this rig has actually been around for years and was called the Umbrella Rig, a name that still exists for that configuration. The Umbrella Rig was and still is used for deep water trolling and was designed to create an image to the fish, of a small school of bait fish swimming along in unison.The Alabama Rig is simply a smaller version of the Umbrella Rig with shorted rig arms and a resulting lighter weight. This smaller version permits the rig to be used as a casting rig, not just for trolling. One version of the Alabama Rig is shown below.
The controversy that has developed results from the existance of 5 different hooks that have been causing injuries to the fish as they tangle in the rig when attacking it. Some professional fishing organizations are also banning the use of this rig in tournaments because they feel it takes some of the sporting challenge away. Regardless of the controversy, this rig does indeed catch fish.

I have not been a big fan of the Alabama Rig for two main reasons. First, as a casting rig, it is heavy and requires heavier equipment for its use.Repeated use as a casting rig easily tires the fisherman. Also as a casting rig, its weight makes control of the rig difficult, especially in shallow water. My main complaint as a trolling rig is its cost and ease with which it is hooked up and lost. When completely outfitted with jigs and plastic bait attached, the cost is  close to $20, which is very expensive for most non-professional fishermen. To help reduce loss of this rig, I have done some testing and constructed a chart that shows the relationship between the boat speed when trolling, and the depth that the rig sinks at different boat speeds. This will help a fisherman keep the rig far enough off the bottom to prevent loss of the rig. There will of course be some variations in the numbers based on the size and type of jigs and plastic bait used. For my tests I used 1/8 ounce jig heads and three inch plastic minnows. The chart that I developed is shown below.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Couple of Favorite Stories

You would think that being a writer of four books, I would have a million stories to tell that would be of interest to everyone. The problem is that my books are not stories and usually do not contain stories unless they relate to the instruction that I am giving. A couple do however come to mind.

When Mac Byrum and I were researching for our latest book "The Catfish Hunters", we made a special trip to The James River in Virginia. This was to be a night fishing trip and we were after a big fish, hopefully a personal best for both of us.We used large bait because we didn't want to be bothered by the smaller catfish.We had flown to Richmond in my plane as we had many times before, and by the time we started fishing, Mac was getting a little sleepy. He decided to go up front on the deck of the boat to take a small nap.It was my turn to watch the rods and take the next fish that hit the lines.

Mac was sound asleep when the rod closest to his head suddenly went down hard with a big fish. The bite was so fierce that it woke Mac and he instinctively grabbed the rod and started to retrieve the monster fish.Having caught many big catfish before Mac knew that this was a big one, but the reel was jammng and it was nearly impossible to make an effecient retrieve. Using all of his skills, Mac managed to land the fish and it was indeed his personal best 56.5 pound blue catfish. After the fish was weighed and photografhed, Mac let the fish go and went back to sleep, but not before saying, "Jake you can have the next one"

The other fishing story that I have told many time is short. We had been fishing in a remote lake in Ontario Canada. The fishing was great all week and on the last day of a seven day trip, the fish suddenly stopped biting in both boats at exactly noon. We fished the rest of the day but neither boat got a bite after noon.

We talked about this strange phinominon at dinner that night but never could decide why the fish stopped biting after being active all week. We went to bed about 10pm and no sooner had we rested our heads, when there was a tremendous roar and our remote cabin was struck be a tornado. It all happened so fast that we hardly knew what was going on when about 10 minutes later, the same roar again and a second tornado struck, just a few feet away from the first one. Maybe we didn't understand why the fish stopped biting but the fish must have known something that we didn't know.

Thank God no one was hurt, but we did have a story that we have told over and over again. Nature does funny things.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Watching The Rods..A Guard Dog

I couldn't resist taking this picture the other day while fishing with a relative. The fish were biting and it wasn't long until this pup decided to do his part standing guard over the rods, waiting for a bite. The bite did come but the dogs owner just couldn't resist bringing it in himself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Everyone can enjoy my books.

There is one characteristic of my books that helps broaden the reading audience: Each time I give a class or lecture, I take note of the questions that are asked during the session. When I write my books. I address all of these questions so that the material in my books covers a broad range of interest groups- from the young beginners to the experienced fishermen and women.

I find it interesting that attendance at my lectures always includes young folks and usually a mother or two. I have seen an increase in interest being shown by young girls and women of all ages. I think that my reading audience has broadened to include many women and children because the books are easy to read and even easier to understand.

Even though my books have a unique characteristic of blending the science of fishing with the sport of fishing, I try to present the science in a way that is not complicated and can be absorbed by the young folks. Women are finding  out that fishing is a great activity for family participation in these days when the family unit needs tightening. often the work schedules of the parents does not permit the husband or the wife to have the time to teach the young ones how to fish so, my local fishing club provides classes for the kids and their parents to bring the whole family into the activity.
This was Gianna's first attempt at fishing with me and doesn't that smile on her face tell it all! it wasn't a monster bass that she caught, but for her it meant memories. My books help people like Gianna how to understand aquatic life and how fishing fits into the overall scheme of natures plan..

Last year when I took Mary Lou and her sister out on the lake fishing, she caught this nice striper as her first fish even. There are many men who would like to have caught a fish like that.

One aspect of my books that makes them easier to read is that they are not written with a plot, so the reader does not have to read the book in sequence from the beginning to the end. The table of contents can be referenced and whatever area is of interest can be read without necessarily reading all the material that came before it.

All of my books can be used as a gift for fathers Day or even Mothers Day, but for the men, I would not suggest that you give one of my books to your wife as a Mothers Day gift.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Have you ever fished for Peacock Bass?

There is only one area in the United States that you can fish for Peacock Bass, that's in the Miami Florida area. I fished there two years ago and I got hooked on Peacock fishing. I thought that Smallmouth Bass were big fighters until I hooked my first Peacock, they fight like Smallmouth bass on steroids. That first experience didn't satisfy my hunger to fish that species because I wanted a trophy Peacock for my memories room, and it would take a 5 pounder to make that grade.

So I decided to give it a try again this year. Peacocks are very sensitive to the water temperature so I consulted with my friend and guide Chuck Westlake to pick a date when the water temperature would be just right to bring the big male Peacocks up to the surface.Chuck suggested the middle of April, so thats when I went down to Florida.

One of the interesting parts of fishing for peacocks is there location. They reside in the flood control canals in residential Miami. Fishing these canals is an experience in itself. You pass areas of beautiful floral surroundings such as the one shown below
I wasn't there however for the beauty, I wanted that 5 pounder. There were plenty of females lurking around the rocks along the banks. Peacock fishing is a combination of sight fishing and trolling. Chuch Westlake, with his polaroid glasses would spot the females along the bank, and if interested, I would flip a cast in their direction. Since I wanted a big male, I trolled most of the day, waiting for the males to come up to the shallow water, but they never did and that 5 pounder eluded me again this year. Got 17 smaller fish however, like this 3 pounder shown below.
Peacocks are beautiful fish, unlike any other freshwater species, but they are also very smart. They are not really bass, but since they look like bass and fight like bass, they have taken on the bass name over the years. Who knows, maybe I'll try again next year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Latest magazine article

Active outdoors is a new internet magazine that attempts to get people off the couch and active in outdoor activity.Check out my latest article for this