Admiration

Another topic from the 30-day challenge is admiration. Writing about one person I admire or look up to in the outdoor world is so difficult. There are so many of them in the outdoor world. So many.

One who comes to mind is a man I was lucky enough to meet, and even interview, when he was being inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. Greg Bohn, the innovator who brought us slip bobber fishing – I do not know what I can even say about him. I wrote a two-part series about him, the first of which was entitled, “Faith, Family and Fortitude, triangulating a fishing career.” Honestly, that is what he is all about. His faith is so strong, and his family bonds seem even stronger. I was able to meet his wife and daughters at his inauguration party. What a down-to-Earth and genuine bunch of people. I do not say that lightly.

My interview with Mr. Bohn was like sitting down with a good friend I had never met before. We talked about how guiding, and fishing, used to be, with him telling me more stories than I could ever remember. I will always cherish that time, and will likely never delete the recording of that interview.

Another who comes to mind is a very good friend of mine, who may not be too excited about me telling the world how great he is, but I will take my lumps for that. Again, he is a man with a great deal of faith and a super strong family. I first met Gregg Kizewski through my late husband. He struck me as a no-nonsense tournament director who was also such a genuine human being. He used to own Super K Jigs, and has since sold that business, but I learned so much about jig fishing from him while he owned the business. One thing about Gregg is he is always willing to help. I can text him with some random question whenever, and he always gets back to me with a real and helpful answer.

Gregg was also one of the most important people in my life when my late husband was sick. Rod was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and we fought that for two years. During it all, Gregg took Rod fishing on the opposite week of his chemo treatments, at least as long as Rod was strong enough to get into a boat. When Rod got too sick to fish anymore, he wanted me to keep fishing and told me to find someone to fish with that we both trusted. I did that, but when Rod was home on hospice at the end of his illness, I was not sure if I should fish. Gregg came over and sat with Rod for the entire day. I was happy it was one of his last lucid days and the two could talk. Later Gregg brought me the last jig Rod ever asked him to make, a design the two came up with together. That jig has a prominent place in my fishing room right now and forever.

Later, Gregg came over to help me with the boat. I had several problems that he was right there to help me with. After my husband passed, once Gregg had become a concealed carry instructor, I took his class and, again, he helped me with weapon choice and made sure I knew what I was getting myself into and how to conduct myself in situations that we both hope I will never be in.

Gregg is first class all the way, and again this year, I am looking froward to fishing his newly revamped bass tournament series, The Upper Midwest Bass Challenge Series (UMBCS).

That would bring me to the reason I fish tournaments today, my late husband Rod Gaskill. He taught me a great deal, but also let me learn so much on my own. I remember when we were running a Thursday night league, he let me make the decisions on the water for the first time. It was on the lake that is now likely my favorite lake, Mohawksin, but at the time I knew little about it. I picked a bay that looked like perfect bass habitat. Rod pulled in there and put the trolling motor down. He fished what I thought was going to be super-productive water.

“So, are you ready to go somewhere with fish?” he asked about 45 minutes later. He knew the bay we were in, and had fished Mohawksin for many years. He knew we would not catch any fish there, but let me figure that out for myself. Of course I slapped him, well, backhanded him in the arm, really, but I doubt he felt it. He just grinned at me and idled out of the bay.

Over the course of almost 15 years, he taught me so much about bass fishing, and about owning a boat in general. We bought a boat for me several years before he died: a 1985 Tuffy Maurader with a 50 hp 1963 Mercury on it. Now that he is gone, I wish I knew or could remember every single thing he told me. But we all know that never happens. A certain amount of information dies with everyone who leaves us.

All of these men, and so many more, are those that I admire in the outdoor arena. One thing I have learned is that I can always learn, and I will always find more people that I admire. I will likely get in trouble for this one, too, but my boyfriend Chet Netzel is one of those that I have admired for his fishing skills, which was how we originally met. In fact, he was friends with both Rod and I, and we fished a lot of the same tournaments. When Rod told me to find someone to fish with that he could trust to not do anything crazy on the water, and I told him Chet had asked me to fish with him, Rod was happy. He knew Chet was a good guy. I did not know, for quite some time, that there would wind up to be more to the two of us than just fishing together, but he was another person who never let me be alone with everything I was going through with Rod’s illness. As a friend, he cared more than I expected anyone to. As a fishing partner, I learned a lot from him, as our ideas are much different. While it is sometimes great to have two people in a boat who fish very different strengths but can still be friends, to me, the most fun I have is when I am learning about how other people fish.

How many people do I admire in the outdoor world? As I said, there are really so many. Hunters in pursuit of all types of game, anglers, small business owners in the outdoor world, and other journalists and outdoor writers who bring the outdoor world to the page and electronic screen.

Who do you most admire? I would love to hear your comments…

Great things come in fours

This is another prompt in the 30-day challenge, which I decided to undertake for the month of April. We always say that bad things always come in threes. So, perhaps good things always come in fours! Four seasons, four elements (Earth, wind, fire, and water). Those were the two that stuck out to me. On a side note, yes there are WAY more than four littles in the geese photo, but it is a fun summer photo that I took that I wanted to share.

Four seasons. Every outdoors man has their favorite. Some of us cannot choose a specific one, as we find beauty and fun in each of them, but in much different ways. While I am not a fan of winter, and tend to dread some things that come along with it, I do have to say it can be quite beautiful. Crucnhing snow under my feet, pine trees heavy with a fresh few inches, animal tracks in the snow that give me an idea of “who” has traveled this path before me. I had the opportunity to do a bit of wolf tracking while I was up north, and that is something I may get into again, if for no other reason than to strap on some snowshoes and get out and do something in the winter.

Fall has been my favorite season for many years. Hunting season, and the beauty of the trees as they change and prepare to hibernate for the long, cold winter make that so. Those things have always been close to my heart. I enjoy getting together with other hunters to talk about what they do, how they do it, and how their most recent hunt turned out. I love all of the stories. I also enjoy the fall harvest and attending farmers’ markets to talk to growers about their season.

Summer, of course, is a favorite, too. It means fishing tournaments and bon fires, grilling out and gardening. There are so many reasons I can say that I love summer. And, I suppose, all four of the elements I mentioned above, are part of those reasons. When I became an outdoor reporter, it gave me a strong reason to learn more about photography, and summer allows for being out and doing a lot of that – and I am always learning. In fact, I have a Great Courses course on photography going in the background as I write this. Shooting storms as they come in is exciting and fun, really. I have yet to get the lightning strike I would love to add to my photos, but summer is the best time to get those. I am also a storm spotter for NOAA, so getting those shots is not only interesting, but important, so I can look back and see what I reported, and what I photographed.

Summer. How much is going on in the summer? I love to be out on the water. But I also love to dedicate my time to water quality and things such as aquatic invasive species (AIS) management. I am now also looking into monitoring a stream or two near where I live in central Wisconsin. This week I attended the Lakes and Rivers Convention online and learned about a stream monitoring program into which I fully intend to get involved. Those who know me know I will also dedicate my small balcony garden to pollinators. I had a bit of success last year, and I look to build on that this year.

It is interesting, too, how a person feels about season can change over time. Spring, when I was a child, meant picking rocks out of a garden that was bigger than the house in which our family of four lived. It was a job I would not want to do again – but then the year came that I decided I was going to try out for Little League. My sister had an old wooden bat, and I took it over. I batted rocks for hours per day, out of the garden and as deep into the swamp as I could get them. Suddenly, picking rocks was not so bad. On a side note, I did make the majors in Little League during tryouts, but my best friend did not make it, so I played in the minors that year.

Summer, too, felt different as a child. I used to have pretty harsh reactions to mosquito bites. My doctor told me mom I was allergic to mosquito bites, but I have no idea if that was the case. But I did have a bad reaction to them. A mosquito bite on my forearm, for instance, would soon become a three-inch welt at least an inch tall. If I were to get bit too many times, I would get a fever and start to feel pretty horrible. My mom would make me stay inside until I felt better, which could be days. I do not remember how many years this went on, but I know I did eventually outgrow it – thankfully! Imagine how different my life would be!

What is your favorite season? Can you pick one? Or do they all have their draw for you?

A great spinning reel for a great price

Since learning to use a baitcaster effectively, I have not been a big fan of spinning reels.  I am not a big finesse fisherman, and maybe that’s why I stay away from spinning reels.  But, at the same time, I know I’m missing out on some fish because I don’t like to throw light stuff.  Sometimes you just need that.

I was recently introduced to a company called Piscifun, and had the opportunity to try out their Viper II spinning reel.  The 2000-series reel is smaller than what I am used to, and maybe that makes part of the difference.  I was always throwing at least a 3000-series spinning reel at the urging of my former fishing mentor and late husband (who is one and the same).This may have been part of the issue, but I don’t think it was all of it.

The Viper II is very well constructed, from what I have seen so far, and I’ve had the chance to use it several times.  It feels good in my hand.  Everything is tight and secure. It lets me get those long casts out there and is small enough for even a klutz like me to keep out of my own way with it.  I have thrown both braid and mono on the set up with solid results.

The construction of this quality-priced reel will get you right out of the package. It is super light, at just 9.6 ounces, but just feels tougher than most. It did not give me the feeling of having a fairy stick in my hand when paired with the same Denali rods I have been using for several years now. The reel has a 10+1 bearing set up, which makes it really smooth.  The line went on the reel well, and, like I said, I had no problems casting it as far as I wanted to.  Not only that, but because the reel is light, it works great for pitching and flipping, too.  That makes a difference to me, and it might not to some, but I don’t like a heavy, bulky reel when I’m pitching all day.

Also, when it comes to pitching, I tend to want to pitch into some pretty nasty stuff, which is not always the best idea with a spinning set up. But, the 6.2:1 gear ratio in the Viper II helped me get some good fish out of some nasty stuff.  I’m not saying I “couldn’t have” gotten those fish out with a lesser reel, but I am saying after the first time I felt completely confident that this one would not fail me when combining the speed with a really strong drag.

Lastly, the reel just looks good.  While that is probably one of the least important things an angler should consider, I think we can all kind of agree, it’s cool to have a cool-looking reel. This reel is black with green highlights that pop. It also have a comfortable handle grip that is not just stylish, but it keeps your hand from slipping off when reeling in those big fish, no matter the conditions. Even an all-day rain will not make the handle grip slippery and, unfortunately, I found that out one day.  Hey, a person only has so many days they can get on the water. You have to take the weather you’re dealt!

Overall, I have to say, especially for the price (you can get this one on Amazon for about $40), I would recommend this reel.  So far I haven’t found any drawbacks.  If you happen to see me on the water this summer, take a close look.  You might just see something weird – me with a spinning set up in my hand!  I’d love to hear what other people think of this reel, too, so leave a comment if you’ve tried it and let me know what you think.

RIO HOW TO: The Double Haul

Check out this incredibly informative video explaining the double-haul in fly fishing. Fly fishing techniques can be intimidating, but this video really breaks it down and makes it easy!

The Ozark Fly Fisher Journal

From RIO:

In this episode of RIO’s “How To” series, RIO brand manager Simon Gawesworth shows how easy it is to learn the double haul – a highly useful casting skill that will give you more distance, greater line control and more effect in a tough wind. The Double Haul is an essential skill to master for anyone who wants to fish in saltwater.

RIO’s “How To” videos are a series of short films that explain all you need to know to learn a particular way to fish, or cast. Where applicable, each film talks through the gear that you need, shows how to rig the gear, how to read the water, and how to fish that particular technique.

These invaluable lessons for the fly fisher are packed with information and top tips, and each one is bought to you by a RIO employee or a RIO brand ambassador.

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Awash in Microplastics: Great Lakes Studies Raise Questions

A very interesting article about micro plastics. It’s not just microbeads that are the problem for the Great Lakes and their tributaries. A very worthwhile read!

The Outdoor Journal

16807991226_08b707d645_o Schooner Inland Seas sails on  Grand Traverse Bay as students study microplastics in the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of ISEA.

By Howard Meyerson

When the schooner Inland Seas slips her berth at Suttons Bay on June 24, her captain, crew and passengers will share in a voyage of discovery—a two-hour educational journey under sail to learn about microplastics, an emerging environmental problem that ills the Great Lakes.

The two-year-old program, called “Exploring Microplastics,” is offered by the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA), a nonprofit that teaches Great Lakes science aboard the 61-foot schooner. Its passengers will examine what crew members find while conducting a fine-mesh trawl for plankton. They will learn how tiny plastic particles enter the food chain and a lot more about how microplastics foul Great Lakes waters.

Jeanie Williams, ISEA’s lead scientist and education specialist, says plastic pollution is common in Lake Michigan. She and the ship’s…

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Spring hearings

Everywhere in Wisconsin tonight, in every county, outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen had the chance to voice their opinions. They had the chance to attend a spring hearings meeting to let the DNR know what they thought of any proposed rules and also to vote on some resolutions proposed by their peers.  _DSC0727.JPG

This was the scene in Oneida County.  There were approximately 70 people who stayed for the meeting.  Of course, there was the option to fill out the questionnaire and then leave.  And  few people did that.  I think it’s great that they took the time to come out and voice their opinions. I understand that everyone is super-busy and it’s hard to find the time to go and do these things.

One thing was interesting, and I just thought of it writing this.  There was only one kid in the room tonight, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone bring their children to the spring hearings in the last several years that I’ve attended. Outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen talk quite a bit about the next generation and what is best for them.  Yet they never bring their children to one of the best events every year, where kids can learn how the rule process works and how they can challenge the status quo in the world of the outdoors.  For kids who are the future of our outdoor sporting heritage, venues such as this give them a chance to think about what is important to them. They have a chance to learn and grow as thinking people. They will see not only their parents’ point of view, but the point of view and ideas of others. From there they can make their own informed decisions, and maybe even do more research, about different things that do and will effect the future of the sports we love.  Why are there no children at these events?  It’s puzzling. That one kid, by the way, is now a youth member of our CDAC, and I applaud him for stepping up. I also applaud his parents for allowing him to get involved in something he cares about and in something where he can make a difference.

Another thing that was sorely lacking – all of the people who have griped about columns I’ve written or articles I’ve penned in the local newspaper over the last six months.  Those people, the same ones who will call me in the months to come, as rules and regulations change, and complain that they don’t like those changes, they were the other element that was missing tonight. I did not see one of them there.  It seems not one of them was really willing to stand up for the things they call me or email me about. I understand it is much easier to sit in the tavern and complain to your buddies about what is wrong and how you could fix the whole system.  But the problem is, if you are given an avenue to comment, and you refuse to take the time to do so, then it truly cannot be that important to you.  So, before I hear from twenty of you when I print the statewide results (once they are available), please remember one thing.  It’s kind of like the election for president (or any other office) – if you didn’t vote, you don’t have the right to ….. gripe ….. about it.  Seriously.  Get out and make some meaningful change, if that is what you think needs to happen.

For all of you who made it to the spring hearings in your county, whether just to fill out your ballot, or if you stayed for the entire meeting, I applaud you.  I thank you, no matter if your opinion matches with mine or not, for taking the time to show you care about the future of the outdoors.  I wish there were more people like you.

Crankbaits are Great Fishing Lures for Fall Bass

Many anglers start to put their fishing equipment away and winterize their boats when fall hits.  But many other anglers know that fall can mean just the start of some great fishing.  When the water temperatures start to drop, that is the signal to the bass that fall is close at hand.  They start to feed heavily in preparation for winter.

In the winter months, when the water temperatures are at their lowest, bass prefer not to chase bait fish.  They don’t like to move around much at all, if they can help it.  With that being said, fall is the time that bass start to build up their winter reserves.  This is not to say that every day on the water in the fall will be a fish fest, but there can be some awesome fishing when the leaves turn and the temperatures start to dip.  There are a number of fishing lures that anglers can use to get more fish to the boat in the fall.

When hunting for fall bass, one fishing lure that anglers should not disregard is the crankbait.  In the fall, crankbaits with a tight wiggle, rather than a wide wobble, are best.  They do a great job at imitating sick or injured bait fish.  Not only that, but you can cover a lot of water quickly.    They can also be slow-rolled along the bottom to look like a fleeing crayfish.  For this reason, crankbaits are popular with bass anglers throughout the entire fishing season.  In fall, when fish are feeding heavily, they can help anglers cover water and pattern the fish more quickly.

Once you find the fish, you might want to change your fishing lure selection.  You may want to slow down and throw a jig or a plastic worm.  For instance, if you’ve found fish on rock humps with a crank bait, you can then slow down and throw a slower bait.  Fish often congregate near rocks as the water cools because rocks hold heat.  At other times, you may find fish holding near wood or brush piles in shallower water.  Likely there will be deeper water near that cover.  Many anglers use wood crankbaits in heavier cover because they float up faster once the angler stops reeling.  Often this can avoid some of the snags anglers would otherwise experience.  But, switching to a slower moving bait can trigger strikes that crank baits do not.

Crankbaits are great lures to use to cover water and find fish.  Anglers should keep in mind, though, that different conditions call for different colors and sizes.  Try to match the forage as closely as possible when using crankbaits.  In darker water, brighter colors may work great.  In clear water, turn to more natural colors.  It is important that the crankbait you are throwing looks as much as possible like the forage on which the fish are feeding.  The closer you can match that, the more fish you will bring to the boat.

Once an angler has decided on the fishing lures to try for the day, all that is left is to find a lake in Wisconsin to fish.  With so many lakes all over the state, anglers are sure to find a great place to fish any day of the week this fall.
This article was written in association with FishingTackleLures.com.au

Salmon season outlook full of uncertainty

Some thoughts on the Salmon season this year

The Outdoor Journal

Anglers can anticipate catching salmon again this summer, though the Lake Michigan alewife population remains at an all-time low. Photo: Howard Meyerson. Anglers can anticipate catching salmon again this summer, though the Lake Michigan alewife population remains at an all-time low. Photo: Howard Meyerson.

By Howard Meyerson

The 2015 salmon season is just getting underway and what anglers can expect remains uncertain. Lake Michigan fishing typically picks up in May but just where in the lake depends on water temperature. And so far lake waters have been uniformly very cold.

“It’s tough to pinpoint where the chinooks will be when water temperatures are the same around the lake,” said Jay Wesley, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan basin coordinator. “But, fishing for lake trout, coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout has been decent. And I know of one 17-pound (chinook) that has been caught.”

Charter anglers around St. Joseph have had intermittent luck with chinooks so far. One recently called to share that fishing was sporadic — a 30-fish-day with…

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The Tournament Season is in Full Swing!

Tournament season has started, and I’ve fished two club tournaments, and have another big one coming up this weekend.  I say “big one”, but it’s not like I’m fishing the Elites or the FLW or anything.  But, for me, it’s a bigger tournament than a club tourney.    I’ll be fishing the first tournament of the year with the Upper Midwest Bass Challenge Series.  These guys are definitely a step above how I view a lot of club tournaments.  Don’t think I don’t think the guys in either of my bass clubs are good sticks, though.  Here’s my take on club tournaments.

In club tournaments, you have a really great dose of competition.  Every angler wants to win and they relish in bringing in a heavier bag to the scales at the end of the day.  But, in club tournaments, everyone gets along, and often they not only fish together, but are friends outside of the club.  For me, bass clubs exist to help everyone learn more about techniques, bodies of water, styles of fishing, and different lures that come along.  I think that bass clubs are about learning from other people.

That is not to say that you can’t learn anything from other anglers at team trails, opens, and other events, but there is more at stake.  The pots are obviously bigger, as are the bragging rights.  I love that idea, but it also makes it feel different than a simple club tourney.  And it should feel different.  It’s a different playing field and the players are more competitive at that level.  I’ve fished another team trail, the Central Wisconsin River Series presented by Minn Kota, Humminbird, and Point Beer, for a couple years now.  But this will be my first year with the U.M.B.C.S., and I’m not going to tell you that I’m not at least a bit nervous.  And I think you should be, going into a big tournament.  I think being nervous is good, because it makes you think harder and it makes you concentrate more.  At least that is the case with me.

I don’t think you can progress as an angler without checking out other circuits, some opens, and maybe even fishing with more than one club.  I think it’s almost a necessity.  That doesn’t make it easy and, for someone like me, who is fairly new to the tournament world, it may even be a bit intimidating.  But you just have to trust in yourself and your abilities, and then let the cards fall where they may.  Win, lose, or draw, this weekend will be a great experience for me, and I’m looking forward to competing against these guys.

So, bring on the weekend, the new competitors, and the new body of water.  I’ve been on the water only once, but luckily Rod, my partner in fishing and life, has been on it before.  It’s been years, but he at least has an idea of the lay of the land.  I only hope I can be helpful in the decision making process on the water.  I’m looking forward to all of the challenges that this tournament fishing year has to offer.

Good luck and tight lines, all!

Bass Rules: Year-round catch-and-release proposed

These proposed rule changes are for Michigan waters, but it’s still close enough that many of us fish those waters, and I think it’s really worth taking a look at this article.

The Outdoor Journal

Fly anglers who enjoy smallmouth bass fishing, like Wayne Andersen shown fishing Hamlin Lake, will be able to target them all year under the expanded catch-and-immediate-release season proposed. Photo: Howard Meyerson. Fly anglers who enjoy smallmouth bass fishing, like Wayne Andersen shown fishing Hamlin Lake, will be able to target them all year under the expanded catch-and-immediate-release season proposed. Photo: Howard Meyerson.

By Howard Meyerson

Michigan bass anglers could soon be enjoying more time on the water. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is floating a proposed rule change to allow catch-and-immediate-release (CIR) bass fishing all-year, statewide – except on specific waters that are closed.

The proposed expansion of the CIR season would go into effect April 9, 2015, immediately following an approval by the state’s Natural Resources Commission. It was presented to the commission on March 19 at its Roscommon meeting. A final decision is expected at its April 9 meeting, in East Lansing. Meanwhile, the public has until then to comment.

Keeping bass is currently verboten outside of the possession season, which begins May 23 on most Michigan waters…

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