Barbs and Backlashes

Lead ban? by whitetips
September 10, 2010, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

By now I am sure most of you have heard about the proposed ban on lead fishing tackle, for example, .  As you might imagine, there are a lot of politics involved in this issue and it frustrates me how the extremes always seem to drive the discussion.  I believe a lot of that occurs because reporting on those extremes makes for a “good story”.

I debated whether or not to even blog on this topic, because I do not necessarily want to tell anyone what position they should or should not take on any issue.  However; if you have been reading my blog, you know I have no problem campaigning for issues I believe in, but I would hope everyone that reads my “stuff” will think through things and make their own decisions.

I have read several position statements and papers on the proposed ban on lead fishing tackle.  I am not going to copy them here or post links to all the materials I have read because there is a lot of it.  Yes, there is documentation that several species of “water birds” will ingest lead fishing tackle and that ingestion can kill those birds.  However, there is also documentation that the populations of those water birds are not being negatively impacted.  Now read my words closely, ingestion of lead fishing tackle may very well kill THE INDIVIDUAL bird that ingests that item, but in terms of the entire population of those birds the mortality from the ingestion of lead fishing tackle may be insignificant.  Sorry, but that is how a pointy-headed fisheries biologist looks at it; fish and wildlife management is accomplished at the population level, not the individual level.  In some localized areas the ingestion of lead fishing tackle by waterfowl may be more of a concern in that specific area, but does that warrant a nation-wide ban?

May I point out that tangling in discarded fishing line likely affects more water birds than lead ingestion?  Again that is probably not enough of a problem to impact bird populations, but recycle that old fishing line and do not even think about leaving a wad of it on the shoreline!!! ,

Having read through some position statements, I believe the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, , has taken a reasonable and common-sense stand on this issue.  I would encourage you to read their news release here, .

So, that is my $0.02-worth on that topic.  If you are concerned, take some time and look through the links I have posted and then do a “Google Search” and you can read a ton of more information on the subject.  You can get involved in this issue, and I would encourage you to exercise that right, that freedom that we have!

Odds and ends, July 21, 2010 by whitetips
July 21, 2010, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

Spending some time out of the office, so this blog post has been prepared ahead of time.  I will try to have a fishing report or two when I get back.

In the meantime I have some odds and ends I thought I would share.

The first one comes from my buddy Teeg Stouffer of Recycled Fish, .  Teeg had a podcast awhile back that included a new product that really caught my eye.  Watch it yourself, .

Yeah, yeah, I know, some new product for the fly-fishers, but if you watched the video you will see the product will be very useful for all anglers.  I can think of at least 3 or 4 spools of leader material floating around in my tackle bags right now and that Shark’s Tooth Leader Keeper looks like a fantastic product.  I did a quick search on the internet and found you can buy those keepers here, .


A couple of weeks ago I had a post about crayfish, .  That post generated some interest and questions.  I said then that I was no crayfish biologist nor expert, but I have had to do a little (and I emphasize “little”) research into Nebraska crayfish.  Using some of the references in my earlier blog post, I put together a little summary of Nebraska crayfish for my own use.  I remembered I had that and I thought it might be of interest to some of you, so here is a very little bit more on Nebraska crayfish.


Some observations, June 28, 2010 by whitetips
June 28, 2010, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , ,

I do not have a lot to report, but a few thoughts floating around in my head–time for a quick blog post.

I know this will entirely ruin what little reputation I had, but I did not spend much time on the water last week.  Between the high and dirty water, hot and humid weather and other activities, I did not take the time.  I promise, I will spend at least a little time on the water someplace this week.  I do know that we are moving into the middle of summer and fishing success usually takes a dip during July and August.  I had some thoughts about that last summer, and you might want to go back and take a look, .


We had another successful Carp-O-Rama event at Pawnee Reservoir west of Lincoln last Saturday.  First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all the folks who volunteer to help at this event every year and to all of those who donated prizes, products, food, drink, etc.  Basically we just have fun with this event and I hope the folks who came out had fun too!  You can see some reports on the fishing along with some photos here, .

Besides being an avid fisherman myself, I have observed a lot of anglers over the years.  I can tell you that on any given day within a bunch of anglers fishing the same body of water there will be some who catch fish and others who will not.  Usually the difference between those who are successful and those who are not comes down to some seemingly inconsequential little detail.  It could be some little presentation detail, bait, rigging, equipment or just the right location, being right on the “X” where the fish are feeding.

I know some of you will think I am crazy, and I know that the brain of a common carp is still only the size of the end of your little finger, but carp have demonstrated that they are one of the “smartest” fish that swim in our waters.  It got busy at Pawnee on Saturday; there was a lot of traffic and a lot of folks fishing.  You can be sure that it did not take the carp long to notice all the activity and that made them harder to catch.  I will always tell you that the K.I.S.S. principle is the best place to start–Keep It Simple, Stupid–but sometimes you have to go beyond the simple corn-on-a-hook-sinker-on-the-bottom to something more technical, more advanced.  Carp feed by sucking baits in and blowing them out; they suck and blow to sort the food from bottom debris.  While they are sucking and blowing they can detect that an angler’s presentation is not something they want to eat.  The guy sitting on the bank sees something “playing” with his line, but it never picks it up enough for a hook up.  When that happens, it may be time to “kick it up a notch”.

Did you know that carp have teeth?  In fact they have teeth located at the back of their throats that look something like the molars in the back of your jaw! When feeding, carp suck food items clear into the back of their throats where they use their pharyngeal teeth to crush food items.  When they do that they can taste and feel the texture of potential food items and they will reject something that does not seem natural to them.  Hardcore European carp anglers have developed what they call a “hair rig” that is the perfect presentation considering the biology and behavior of the carp.

Basic hair rig baited with corn.

Do a search on the internet for “hair rig” and you will get more ideas than you know what to do with, but this one rig is like fishing a rubber worm or spinnerbait for bass anglers–absolutely fundamental!  If you want to catch lots of carp you should be using it, or something similar to it.  One final tip–tie your hair rigs with braided lines, something soft and supple.  Remember as a carp sucks and blows your bait it can feel textures.  If it feels a hard leader made of monofilament or fluorocarbon it will be more likely to reject the presentation.  A soft, supple line used for the leader, for the hair rig, feels natural and will not be expelled.

While you are doing your search, look up “bolt rig” too.  Used in conjunction with a hair rig, a bolt rig will increase your hook ups and you will catch more carp.  Basically a bolt rig uses a relatively heavy sinker that is fixed to the line or only allowed to slip along the main-line for a short distance.  When a carp sucks up the bait and then turns to move away it feels the heavy wet and spooks.  With a hair rig that carp has the bait in the back of its throat and the hook positioned right near the “lips”, and as it “bolts” away from the heavy sinker it automatically hooks itself.  I know, one would think a slip-sinker rig would work better, but it does not.

Anyway, there is a ton of carp fishing material on the internet.  Do some searches and read through some of it and you will see what I mean by important little details that can make a huge difference.  And I promise I will have more thoughts on little details that make a big difference for a variety of other species; today I have carp on the mind following Carp-O-Rama, and carp fishing made for a great example.

Speaking of carp . . .

I know some of you are reading this and thinking “brother, too much fuss for nothing more than a stinkin’ carp” (or maybe those with that attitude have quit reading before now?).  I will tell you that if I could wave a magic wand and all of the exotic carp species, including common carp, would be gone from North America, I would do it in a heart-beat.  Done.  Gone.  Our fisheries would be better off without them.  And I will tell you that as fisheries managers we will continue to manage common carp in many instances by attempting to kill every last one of them.  But, the fact of the matter is we have common carp; have had them for well over a hundred years now, and probably will always have them.  No, they are not as good on the table as yellow perch, walleyes, catfish, crappies or bluegills, but they can be eaten and if prepared right can be darned good.  No, it is not my goal to convert everyone into carp anglers.  I will confess that you will not catch me fishing for carp very often.  But, you WILL catch me as a proponent of fishing for a variety of species of fish; they are all fun to catch and all unique and valuable in their own right, yes, even stinkin’ carp.

Practice makes perfect

I am convinced that a lot of big fish are lost because folks have no idea what to do when they finally hook that “big one”.  Big fish are hard to catch; they are rare and most anglers never encounter enough big fish to practice catching them.  I have the perfect solution for that–go carp fishing!  The average size of common carp you can catch from most waters will be as large or larger than the big fish of most other more desirable sport fish species.  If you get into some truly big carp, you can catch fish as big as anything that swims in our fresh waters.  A day of carp fishing is an excellent way of testing out your tackle on big fish and practicing your fish catching skills.  Think about it, what better ideas are there?  Tying your fishing line to the family dog?

Will you be ready for "the big one"?

Watch these by whitetips
June 11, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

A quick post here before I head out of the office for the weekend.

All I am going to do is tell you that you HAVE to watch the videos that my buddy Greg Wagner has posted on his blog.  I know I keep harping on this topic, but until everyone gets the message Greg and I will keep preaching it.

My favorite is the one with the walleye in it, watch close.

Wear your life jacket!

What a drag! by whitetips
May 27, 2010, 10:13 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

I have used this photo recently to make a point about fish handling; am going to use it again here to make another point.  This time instead of looking at the big McConaughy white bass, take a close look at the reel.  See that “switch” on the left side?  Yes, the anti-reverse switch.  I use that switch a lot; in fact while fishing my spinning reels almost always have the anti-reverse OFF!  I NEVER rely on the drag on my spinning reels while playing fish.  Now keep in mind this is my preference, this is the way I like to do things, but let me tell you why I fish this way.

First of all, I have a distrust for mechanical gadgets on my fishing reels.  The more “bells and whistles” there are, the more things there are that could fail or break at the worst time.  I realize that a quality reel has an excellent drag system, but how many sad stories have you heard about big fish that got away because “the drag was not set right”?  If your preference is to use the drag on your spinning reels, then fine, good for you, but you better make sure to set the drag tension correctly and re-check it often.  Unfortunately you will find out that your drag tension was not set properly at exactly the wrong time.

If you pick up one of my spinning reels and check the drag tension, you will find the drag screwed down as tight as it can go (i.e. maximum tension).  When I set the hook on a fish, I do not want that drag to slip one fraction of an inch.  Yes, I know it is possible to break light lines with hard hook sets, but I would rather rely on the flexibility of my rod and the appropriate power of my hook set rather than have the drag slip.  In most cases I am not fishing with line that is that light anyway.

When I am playing a big fish, I have the anti-reverse switch on my spinning reels OFF, and I control how much line the fish takes by back-reeling.  Again I prefer this because I am in total control of the fish, in control of the fight, instead of relying on the mechanics of my reel’s drag.  If I hook a big fish in a tight spot where it could wrap my line around a snag, I can put the pressure on and get them out of that spot.  If I get a glimpse of a fish I am playing and discover that it is lightly-hooked, I can be very careful with it and give it all the line it needs.

I have specified spinning reels so far because you have to rely on the drag on casting reels.  Casting reels have a star drag alongside the reel handle that can be quickly adjusted even as a fish is being played.  I try to set the drag on my casting reels relatively light, so the drag slips with far less tension than would cause the line to break.  With the drag set like that on my casting reels I can apply my thumb to the spool during a hook set again to keep the drag from slipping.  Likewise as a fish is played I can fine-tune how much line slips off by applying thumb pressure to the spool, or I can make adjustments with the star drag.

Now I know there are some that are thinking I am full of it because if I hooked a bonefish or permit or roosterfish or some other marine species known for drag-burning runs, I could not back-reel fast enough.  I guess if I ever fish for those species I will find out, but I can tell you that I have caught wipers well into the double-digits and have back-reeled like a monkey while playing those fish.  Worked for me then.  I landed a 55-pound flathead on 14-pound test line and spinning equipment last fall and it worked fine then too.  Your preference may be to rely on your spinning reel’s drag, but for now I will keep a’ back-reeling.

Reports and observations, May 25, 2010 by whitetips
May 25, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , ,

I am back in the office today after spending the weekend at Ponca State Park, .  I helped with our Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop, .  Of course I did the fishing sessions and I believe every lady in one of my sessions except for a couple caught at least one fish!  Someone should slap me because I forgot to take any pictures this weekend!  I love teaching classes and helping out with our BO-W events.  I will tell you this much, if the ladies have half as much fun as I do, they had a great weekend and hopefully they learn something in the process.  If any of you have not taken advantage of our BO-W events, I would highly recommend them!

Anywho, the weather was cool on Friday night and Saturday morning, jackets or sweatshirts felt good, but by Saturday afternoon the wind was blowing out of the south at 101 knots and it was HOT!  In fact it was so hot that I came home yesterday and shaved my beard!  Yep, time for the summer pelage!

Last winter I mentioned that the pond at Ponca State Park, it is just west of the visitor’s center, now has water in it.  Well, it not only has water in it, it also has fish!  There are largemouth bass, bluegill and some 10-inch rainbow trout and the ladies caught all of them.  None of the bass and bluegill are very large yet; I saw some bluegills up to maybe 7 inches and one of my gals caught a bass that would have been 13 or 14 inches, but there certainly were fish to be caught and there were a lot of folks with lots of kids taking advantage even on Saturday in the 101-knot winds.

Let me offer some observations from the fishing.

Continue reading

National Safe Boating Week by whitetips
May 24, 2010, 10:05 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

I got an e-mail last week from our Boating Safety Administrator, Herb Angell, , letting us know that May 22-28 is being recognized nationally and in Nebraska as National Safe Boating Week.

I realize I mentioned boating safety a couple of weeks ago, but I saw something while fishing one of our public waters the other day that prompts me to mention this again.  I am not going to tell you which public water in Nebraska I was on because I want everyone to wonder if it might have been them that I saw.  I observed two different fellows that day fishing in two different boats; fishing by themselves.  Now, if you can take a partner fishing with you, that is the best thing to do, but I understand fishing solo–sometimes you have time to go and you cannot get anyone to go with you.  I fish solo myself, have done it a lot for a lot of years.  But these guys were in boats by themselves, neither one using life jackets and neither one using kill switches.  That is just asking for trouble.  When it started getting dark they both fired up their outboards and headed for the ramp.  It does not take much to get bounced out of a boat and if you are by yourself and not using a kill-switch that boat is going to keep right on going after you depart.  Chances are very good the boat is going to circle around and come right back on top of you if you fall out while the outboard is in gear.  If you are using the outboard, use the kill switch!  It ain’t that much of an inconvenience.

Secondly, I still do not understand why folks refuse to wear a life jacket.  That especially baffles me when I see someone without a life jacket alone in a boat .  We recently have had water temps. in parts of the state that are still in the 50’s; even if you are a good swimmer, that water is cold enough that you might not be able to make it to shore or safety if you fall out of the boat and the boat keeps motoring or drifting away from you.  I will again put a plug in for the inflatable life jackets.  The old excuse about the big, “in-the-way” life vests just does not hold water with the new inflatables.  The inflatable life jackets are comfortable, out of the way, and can be worn at all times.  When you wish you had a life jacket on, it is going to be too late to look for one and put it on.  Wear it!

We have boating fatalities every year that could have been avoided if macho guys would have worn their life jackets and used their kill switches.  I do not care if you want to be stupid, but it is heart-breaking to think of the wives, girl-friends and especially kids that get left behind.  Oh, and one other thing, don’t drink and boat either.

Still need some convincing?  Take a look at this website, .  Check out the videos!

Yep, going to show this image again. Some of you need to get the hint!