In my last post, over a month ago now, I said that I was going to try and get back in here an write more…but that just hasn’t happened. I’ve been spending most of my writing time on other projects. Its not that I have lost interest here, it is just that I have been too short on time!
I have been out for some turkey hunting the last couple of days. Season came in here in WV on Monday. Unfortunately, we also got a snap of really warm weather. The turkeys talked a bit on Monday, but Tuesday, they were absolutely silent. We covered several miles of mountain top, and never heard a single bird! Monday, we had one turkey willing to do a bit of gobbling, but we simply could not get him to climb the hill between us, so he never even came close. I am not sure that I will get the opportunity to get out any more, as I don’t have any land close to my house where I can hunt. I guess there is always next year! So far, I haven’t been able to bag a gobbler, but one of these days I suppose I will connect. I’ve only been out a handful of times, so maybe I should take it a bit more seriously and see if I can have a bit better luck.
I also have been able to get out on the trout streams a couple of times. The first day I made it out, it was incredibly cold and windy. We fished for several hours without even a strike. Later in the day, as the water warmed up a bit, I was able to finally get a few nice trout. In fact, I was able to catch 3 trout over 15 inches out of the same lie. Evidently, they were stacked up in there. I know that isn’t huge for those who get to fish in the West, but for here in WV, they are nice stream trout. The second day we were out, the weather was much nicer, with temperatures in the high 70’s. I was able to catch a few trout, as was my fishing partner for the day. It was nice to get away and spend the time on the water, even though we weren’t able to catch a lot of fish.
Things in the rabbitry are going pretty well. We have another litter added to our number. We have expanded from 5 rabbits to our current 29. Of course, that will be fluctuating a lot as we will begin to sell and butcher. We did sell one rabbit as a pet recently. Since we are growing, I am now trying to come up with a name for our rabbitry. I have started to build a website for the rabbitry, to keep everyone updated with what we have on hand, and how we are expanding, but I have no name for it! Hopefully, you all will be able to help me out with this. I am thinking about making a contest out of it, so start thinking about it but don’t tell me yet. Check back in the next couple of days, when I have come up with a good prize, I will have a post about the contest. From all suggestions we will pick the best, and the submitter will win the prize.
It is that time of year here in WV. There just isn’t a lot of outdoor activities to take advantage of. The hunting seasons are over, and the fishing hasn’t really picked up yet. It is kind of like the professional sports season. There is a dead zone between the end of Football and the beginning of Baseball. I know there is Hockey and Basketball, but I don’t really pay attention to them. I am hoping to be able and get some fishing done sometime in the next few weeks.
The state actually starts stocking trout in January, and there is no closed season for trout in WV. However, the trout streams are in the mountains, and the mountains get a lot of snow. The state also does not clear many of the mountain roads, so the rivers are not very accessible. We have had several days that the temperatures have raised, but I’m sure the ice pack is still present up in the mountains.
I only got out one time last year, as the gas prices were ridiculously high. I am hoping that travel will be a bit more reasonable this spring. I really want to break out the fly rod and see if I can catch anything. It has been 2 years since I had the fly rod out!
I would like to get some further comments based off of my last post. There were a couple of folks who voiced their disagreement with catch and release fishing, as well as the hunting that is done with tranquilizers. So, my question is this: do you think that catch and release fishing is the same as I described in the last post, or is there a difference? Would you (or do you) practice catch and release fishing, and yet oppose the hunting counterpart? I am interested to see the reasoning behind those who practice C&R fishing but oppose the hunting tactic. By the way, as I mentioned before, I do practice C&R fishing some times. Perhaps I’ll share my thoughts a bit later!
Not too long ago, I wrote a post about taking my kids fishing. I told you that I was going to take Jacob to get an Ugly Stik Ultralight rod and reel. Well, we were able to get out to the local Wal-Mart and find the combo last week. We ended up with the 4’6″ one piece rod, with a matching Shakespeare reel.
Last Monday we finally got out to a local lake to fish for some bluegill and bass. We bought a bunch of night crawlers and some octopus hooks, along with some bobbers and headed out to the lake. It didn’t take us long to start catching some fish. In fact, I got my daughter, Skylar, set up with her little Tigger fishing pole, and turned around to get Jacob baited up, only to see Skylar’s bobber start diving under the water. Sure enough, with a little help, she was able to pull in a little bluegill. So, we got that fish off, and got her line cast back out into the lake so that I could help Jacob get his pole ready. Sure enough, another bluegill bit Skylar’s night crawler and headed for the bottom of the lake. I had to help her get the second fish reeled in, and Jacob didn’t even have his line in the water yet! He was getting pretty aggravated, as he wanted to get to fishing too. I finally was able to help him get everything ready, and get his line out in the water. It didn’t take long until he was able to start reeling in little bluegill as well.
We had quite a day, and caught a lot of little bluegills. Jacob also was able to catch one little bass. He was thrilled to death about it! Of course Jacob and Skylar were “competing” to see which of them were the best fisherman. I think they decided that Skylar caught the most, but Jacob caught the biggest one. That bass put him over the top. He even caught that one all by himself, without any help from me (except I cast the line out for him).
One thing I learned on this trip was that it can be tiring to try and cast for two kids! They were wearing me out, as I would cast out for one, and then help the other to reel in a fish, only to do it all over again. Jacob thought it was hilarious that it was their first time and they were able to catch more fish than dear old dad. I didn’t catch hardly any fish…every time I had one on the hook, I’d let Skylar come over and reel it in. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
After a while, the kids started getting bored with the fishing. The fish weren’t biting as well as when we first got there, so they started getting a bit antsy. They began running around and playing, which was fine, since we went to a place that had a good play area as well. They were able to play a while, and then come back and fish a little bit. It worked out very nice, and they had a blast.
Skylar found herself some ducks to follow around. She would try to sneak up on them if they were on the bank, then she would just walk along the bank while they were swimming in the lake. She has a much different personality to my son. She will play by herself, and was just as happy as could be to be by herself with the ducks!
We took several pictures throughout the day, as you can see from what I have posted on here tonight. I can’t believe it took me a week and a half to get this all posted. It was a great day, and I know we will be doing it more this summer!
Here are a few more pictures:
A few days ago, I wrote a post about my first fishing trip of the year on the Williams River in the mountains of West Virginia. Overall, it was a very good day, and we enjoyed ourselves. However, I did try a new product that day, which turned out to be a disappointment. I have done a few reviews on this site, and I think all of them have been positive. I guess there is a first time for everything!
Every year at the beginning of the season, I replace the old fishing line on my poles with new line. I am always looking for strong, fine line that is smooth and easy to use. I have tried several, some with good results, some with not so good results. This year’s experiment was of the latter experience.
I chose the new SpiderWire XXX (using that name will get my blog blocked by some filters!) Super Mono in 4 pound test. My first indicator that I wasn’t going to be extremely pleased with this line was when I got finished putting it on the reels. The line seemed a little stiff, and would jump over the reel, making it difficult to keep it from getting tangled right off the bat. I thought I may have just over filled the reels, so I didn’t worry too much about it.
However, when we hit the water, i found there were several other problems with this line. I found out very quickly that the line was not very smooth, as most of the time when I would tie knots, I could not get them to tighten down properly. It was as if there were knicks in the line, which kept it from getting tight on the hook. Several times during the day, while tying on hooks, the line simply broke off instead of drawing down tight. There were a couple of times during the day that I broke off fish at the hook, which indicates a weakness in the line. Some may think that perhaps I just didn’t know what I was doing tying on these hooks, but I have used tons of line, and been fishing hundreds of times…I think I know what I am doing. For reference, I was trying to use an improved clinch knot to tie on hooks.
Also, in my previous post, I told you about taking my friend Chad fishing for the first time. He had a lot of trouble with the line. It did keep jumping over the reel, as if it were too stiff. Being inexperienced, he didn’t know what to watch for, and ended up with several real messes. A couple of times, the line jumped the reel, and got tangled in the gears behind the reel. Granted that the broader problem was a result of his inexperience, but the line jumping the reel, especially when it had begun to run down after the first several tangles.
My take on this line is that I will not ever be using it again. I was tired of fighting with the line by the end of the day. i will be removing what is left of the line, and putting something else on my reels. If you all have used this line, and had better experiences, let me know. I may have just gotten a bad box. I did write a note to SpiderWire on their website. We will see if I get any kind of response.
After a long spring, with bad weather, and a lot of extenuating circumstances that kept me from making it to the mountains for a fishing trip, I finally made it out last Friday. It is about a 3.5 hour trip for us to make it to the Williams River, which is 20 miles from nowhere, with lots of peace and quiet. We headed out at about 4:45 AM, and drove through the mountains, going through the little towns of Craigsville and Richwood. We drove across the Scenic Highway, which crosses the mountains just north of the famed Cranberry Glades across to the Williams River.
The day was beautiful for fishing. Clear skies and sunshine was the order of the day. We started fishing around 8:30 AM, and it wasn’t long until I caught the first fish of the day, this chunky stocker. You will notice that the color of these stockers is not nearly as bright as that of native fish, or of fish that have been in the river long enough to “go wild”. Normally, I do not keep fish unless someone I am fishing with wants a few for eating. This time around, I took a friend with me, and he wanted to bring some home, as he really likes the taste of trout.
This was my friend Chad’s first fishing trip. He had never experienced stream trout fishing, and didn’t really know what to expect. I think he enjoyed the day, and even caught one fish on his first time out (which is pretty good). Stream trout fishing is so much different than what most people are used to. Most people see fishing as an easy, slow day. When we are stream trout fishing, we usually walk several miles, and wade fast moving water for most of the day. It is tiring, but a lot of fun!
I think I have Chad hooked on trout fishing now. He seemed to enjoy the day, and as you can see in this picture, He really enjoyed catching his first trout. The only problem for this day of fishing was that it was the first nice weekend of the spring, and every fisherman in the state decided to take advantage of the nice weather to be out fishing. There were tons of people on the river, and the fish stopped biting pretty quickly in the day. It seems that the fish saw every kind of bait in the world floated by them, and they just weren’t interested in biting after a while. I think next time I will try to take a day off in the middle of the week so that we might have more success. I was also surprised by the water levels this weekend. It was obvious that they had not gotten the same rain that we had in our part of the state. We have had so much rain that all the rivers are just now getting back down to normal levels. The water level of the Williams was pretty low. All the holes that I usually head to were low, and the water was very clear. That also makes the trout very difficult to catch.
But, we had a very good day over all. Chad and I met up with another friend, Alan, and my Dad at the river. We caught a few fish, and Chad was able to bring enough home for a good dinner. No one got skunked, so that made it a pretty good first trip out. It was a relaxing, though tiring day. Now hat I have been able to get out and go for the first trip, I am ready for the next one! I hope it doesn’t take so long to get up there next time. It looks like it is going to continue to be very busy over the next few weeks, but there might be a free couple of days calling my name to the mountains. I might even try to break out the fly rod next time.
This article reminded me that Pennsylvania has an actual trout season. It comes in, at least in part of the state, March 29th. This short article also gives some good information for trout fishermen to remember as time draws closer to opening of the season. However, the purists among us may cringe at the advice of this expert fly fisherman.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I am fishing, I am willing to use anything that is legal to catch fish. Sometimes, I like to bait fish, using salmon eggs, worms, mealworms and the like. Sometimes I like to fly fish, and I use streamers, wet flies, or dries, depending on what the fish are biting. And, I am not opposed to tying on a glo worm, or a San Juan worm, what Mr. Daniels calls “candy flies”. I figure you have to go with what is biting! Along those lines, I enjoyed a post over at the Tennessee Valley Angler, which discusses some of the snobbery that sometimes surfaces around fly fishing. Elitists may not enjoy the article so much…
One thing that is mentioned in this article that is important is to remember to take the proper clothing for any kind of weather. I know that when I am going up into the mountains to fish, I often forget that the temperature is going to be quite a bit lower than where I live. The evenings can be especially cool. I try to remember to take sweatshirts, jackets and rain wear for every trip. You can never tell what will happen with the weather in the mountains!
I am glad that there is no closed season for trout fishing here in WV. We can fish for trout year round, and there are several places that hold trout over through the summer and winter. Through the spring, the DNR stocks a lot of rivers, and we also have several streams that hold native brook trout.
I still haven’t had the chance to get out and fish yet this year. I am hoping to maybe hit a stream later this week. We’ll see if I can actually get out, and if I can actually catch anything. It has been so long since I have been on a stream, I may have forgotten how to catch fish…
A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about trout fishing here in West Virginia. At that time, I wanted to show you all a picture of a native brook trout, but unfortunately, I did not have one. I was reading over at the Tennessee Valley Angler, and lo and behold Nathan had a great picture of colorful native, this one from Tennessee. He was gracious enough to let me share the picture with you here. Thanks Nathan!
So, here is a picture of the native brook trout. You can click on the picture to see a larger version. Notice how colorful they are, even in comparison to the brookies that have been stocked here in the state. These little fish, as least in West Virginia, don’t grow very big. They typically inhabit the feeder streams from the high country. Many of these streams are difficult to access, which means very light fishing pressure. The fish are very spooky, so you have to approach the streams very cautiously. However, if you can float something colorful over them, they are ravenous feeders. They are a ton of fun to catch, and often if you find them, they will be plentiful.
As I mentioned in my last post on this subject, the streams found by anglers are highly guarded secrets. A lot of the fun in fishing for these fish is trying to find the streams yourself. Many of these streams are unnamed, and nothing but a little blue streak on a map. I have not gotten out to fish for these little beauties as much as I would like to, but the few times I have gotten into them have been a blast.
I noticed the last time I was down in the Smokies that Tennessee, or at least the Smokie Mountain National Park has been working to try and protect the brook trout streams, and bring back a good fishery. I suspect, however, that the high mountain streams of Tennessee are much like those found here in WV, filled with fish, but unknown to the general public.
Much work is being done by anglers and Trout Unlimited to support the brook trout, as the sole native species of trout in the eastern US. A program called Back the Brookie has spread throughout the country by way of individual TU chapters, helping to protect these great fish. You can read more about it by clicking the link, and poking around a bit.
Again, thanks to Nathan and the Tennessee Valley Angler for the great picture!
When spring comes, I found myself wanting to get out on the rivers in the mountains of West Virginia and catch a few trout. I always start getting the itch a little early. The last few years, I have gone out too early, only to be met with snow, ice and extreme cold weather. Not only that, the water was so cold, that the fish just wouldn’t feed. It can get a bit annoying to be able to see trout in the ripples, and float everything in your box past them without them going for anything. Nonetheless, I am already getting the bug to get out on the river! The picture over to the left is on one of my favorite rivers in the state, The Williams. I am probably most familiar with this river, as I will almost always make a few trips per year there. I know where to go to catch fish, whether I am fly fishing or spin fishing. I hope I didn’t insult or offend all the purists by admitting that I enjoy both types of fishing!
Our best trout fishing kicks in around the middle of March, and goes to about the end of June. The West Virginia DNR does a good job of stocking trout in a lot of rivers, and there are many stretches that are designated as “Catch and Release”. Most of these”catch and release” sections are in the coldest, most aerated sections of the river. These are often also the most inaccessible sections of river, which make them fun to fish. There are plenty of other waters that provide opportunities for keeping a few fish. The limit is 6 fish per day on rivers, but I rarely keep more than a couple for the frying pan. I don’t feel bad about keeping these stocker fish because they cannot survive year round in most of the water that is not catch and release.
Last year, I didn’t get out too often, but I was able to catch some trout. I came across this picture of a brookie I caught, and it reminded me of a good day on the water. This is a stocker brookie. Some of these can be pretty good size. I love catching these, as they are beautiful fish. They are probably the prettiest fish in our waters. This is one of the larger brookies that I have caught. I was happy to have a camera along to get a picture of this one before turning it back to water. I purchased a small, inexpensive camera just for the purpose of taking pictures of the fish that I have been fortunate enough to catch. Most of the time, none of my fellow fishermen are close enough to snap a picture for me, but on this day, I had someone there to be able to get a snapshot. This is one of the few pictures I have of a fish I have caught with me in it!
We also have a lot of wild trout streams here in West Virginia. There are many streams that are just full of wild, native brookies. These fish do not grow (in most cases) to be as large as the stocker trout. In fact, a 10-13″ brookie is really good size for a wild fish. These streams are guarded with secrecy by the people who fish them–it is considered taboo to even name them in a public forum. It is kind of like your favorite hunting spot. You just don’t give that information to anybody. You only share it with your closest hunting buddies (and, only selectively then). These streams are great to fly fish. The fish are not big, but they are beautiful. You just can’t beat the colors.
We have another claim to fame here in the Mountain State. It is the Golden Rainbow Trout. This is a rainbow trout that does not have the same pigmentation as the normal ‘bow. It has a golden color, with a rainbow streak down the side. This is a picture of a golden that was caught by a friend and fishing partner, Alan. As you can see, it is a beautiful fish. These fish are stocked at about 1 golden to 6 rainbows. So, if you see one of these beauties in a hole, you can be sure that there are a lot of rainbows in there that you cannot see. This color phase breeds true, so the DNR has worked to continue the line so that they are plentiful in the state. I believe these fish have also been shared with Pennsylvania and Maryland. This is not the true Golden Rainbow that can be found in California.
The golden rainbow is perhaps the most difficult of trout to catch. This is true because they are so visible. Since they are easily spotted, everybody can float something past them. They see every lure, fly, egg, and clump of Power Bait that comes down the river. It is not surprising that if they make it past the first day or two, these fish are very difficult to catch.
I’ll leave you with one more picture of one of my favorite fishing holes. This is again, on the Williams River. It won’t be too long till I’m wetting a line there!
By: Kris Brewer
Every type of fishing has its own unique methods and times. But, for me, fishing for catfish is a whole new game. Fishing for catfish takes a whole new approach, and often, a whole new set of tackle.
First, let’s address the perfect time for catfish. Surely, you can catch catfish at just about anytime of the day. The largest catfish I caught was in the middle of the day in an Alabama farm pond. The temperature was quite hot, and I didn’t get many bites even though I knew the water was full of good sized cats. The truth is, night time is far better for catfish. Since catfish are scavengers, they will lay up in their beds all day, and then come out and feed actively at night. Most of the time, if you catch catfish during the day, you have happened to find a bed of them, and dropped the bait right in the middle of them. At night, they will be very active, and you can catch them cruising the channels of a river, or lake bottom. So, if you want to be successful on catfish, plan on spending the night on the river bank, or boat.
Next, let’s talk about methods for catching catfish. In reality, the method is pretty simple. Most species of catfish can be caught on any number of baits. There are a lot of commercial baits available, any one of which will do the job in most areas. Some of these baits can be very hard to handle, and very messy. Dip baits, especially, are difficult to deal with, and can be quite messy. If you get them on you, you will certainly smell bad for the rest of the night! Many times, homemade baits are used for catfish. Anything from cheese to Kool-Aid is used to make a paste, or dough, for fishing for these ravenous eaters. Most fishermen will swear by their own concoctions, and will keep them as secret as the perfect location for fishing them. Another bait that is used quite extensively for catfish is hot dogs. They are cheap to purchase, and stay on the hook well. Cheap hot dogs may catch as many or more cats as the most expensive of dip baits. Again, since the catfish are scavengers, they are looking for something with a strong smell. Often times, the cheapest of hot dogs have the strongest smell, and therefore are the best baits. Finally, my favorite catfish bait is raw chicken livers. This has been the most productive bait for me, especially on the channel catfish that are prevalent in my locale. A couple of cartons of liver, usually very cheap at any grocery store, will last all night long, and catch many fish. The greatest problem with using liver is that it easily falls off of a single hook. This can be solved by fishing with a treble hook, in a size that is compatible with the size of fish you are trying to catch.
Finally, let’s consider the method of catching catfish. The best method is to put plenty of weight on your line, in the form of lead or lead alternative sinkers. You want your bait to sit close to the bottom, without catching it on any structure that may be on the bottom. Finding the perfect depth will put you “in the zone”, and allow you to catch more fish. Some try putting a float on their line, which will work if you are not fishing in water that is too deep. Often, however, in lakes, you have to get your line too far down to put a bobber on the line. If you are fishing in 20 or 30 feet of water, it is impossible to rely on a bobber. Therefore, you must stay alert and feel for the gentle tug of a cat on the end of your line. With catfish, it is important to let them take the bait and run briefly before setting the hook to make sure that they have the bait in their mouth, allowing for a secure hook up.
Catfishing, especially at night, is a great experience. Given the right spot, and sufficient fish numbers, you can catch more fish than on your typical panfish outing. In fact, I have caught more than 100 fish in a single night using the baits and methods outlined in this article! One word of warning: remember those sharp fins when fishing at night. The wrong grip can cause you to be in pain for the rest of the night!