What a great way to start the new season! This issues articles section is packed with some excellent material submitted by our readers over the last few months. Special thanks to everyone who contributed!
Our first selection comes from Sandy Lindsey, whose work is seen regularly in Boating, Angler, WaterSki, Lakeland Boating, Sail, Florida Scuba News, Florida Keys Magazine, Campers Monthly, Camping & RV, Waterway Times, Florida Mariner, NCT Web Magazine, the Women's Fire arm Network Magazine, Ontario Sportfishing Online Magazine, Happy Times Monthly, Hi-Riser and Bowhunting News. In the coming months my articles will also appear in Today's Homeowner, Boating for Women, Sailing, Outdoors Women, Pennsylvania Sportsman, Fish & Game Magazine, The Fisherman, Power Boating Canada, Camping Today, Ontario Out-Of-Doors, Ontario Sportfishing Online, TrailerLife, Motorhome, Big Apple Parent, Parent Life, Better Homes & Gardens, Log Cabin Living, and Backwoods Home Magazine.
10 MORE COMMON FISHING TERMS EXPLAINED
WHAT A MASTER-ANGLER WILL NEVER TELL YOU ABOUT ATTRACTING FISH
THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY AT A STRANGE TACKLE SHOP
"All right, whose going to be a sport and show me their favorite fishing hole?"
"Anyone know who owns the red pick-up out front that I just hit?"
About the shop's merchandise: "Look at all this antique tackle."
"Let me tell you about a fish I once caught..."
"What! No high-tech lures? How can you people catch anything?"
"One of you has got to be named Bubba...let me guess."
"You do take travelers checks, don't you?"
"Your rods look as if they were wrapped at the Lighthouse Project for the Blind."
About a picture hung behind the cash register: "Are those some ugly fish you caught or is that a family portrait?"
"I only use imported hooks."
"I need a new rod. Do you have anything in blue to match my reel?"
When a woman walks into the shop: "Want to see my lure?"
And never, ever say: "You call this live bait? Why, in New York we..." (You won't get any further than that.)
To be put on the mailing list for a free e-mail subscription to The Sandy Lindsey Newsletter, please send your e-mail address to email@example.com
These next two come from one of our long time readers, Kent Eckman. I have to admit, we especially enjoyed the first one both for its entertainment value and its message!
I've always been interested in history as well as fishing. I enjoy reading early accounts of life in the Southeast, and thought some of my fellow anglers might enjoy the following text, from Travels of William Bartram, Dover Publications, Inc. New York. The original dedication reads;
TO HIS EXCELLENCY THOMAS MIFFLIN, Esq. PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, THIS VOLUME OF TRAVELS IS GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED, By his respectful friend and servant WILLIAM BARTRAM.
As a naturalist, Bartram began traveling "At the request of Dr. Fothergill, of London, to search the Floridas, and the Western portions of Carolina and Georgia, for the discovery of rare of useful productions of nature, chiefly in the vegetable kingdom; in April, 1773, I embarked for Charleston, South Carolina, on board the brigantine Charleston packet, captain Wright..."
Naturalists of the time were quite descriptive and eloquent and I think Bartram's account of the fishing opportunities then might serve as a reminder to us all of the damage we do to our waters and our need to be more conscious of environmental concerns.
At this point in his travels Bartram has gone off with a 'trader' for the day and returned to find the Native Americans they've been traveling with, they are on what is now called the St. John's river, in Florida...
"On my return, I found some of my companions fishing for trout, round about the edges of the floating nymphaea, and not unsuccessfully, having then caught more than sufficient for all of us. As the method of taking these fish is curious and singular, I shall just mention it.
"They are taken with a hook and line, but without any bait. Two people are in a little canoe, one sitting in the stern to steer, and the other near the bow, having a rod ten or twelve feet in length, to one end of which is tied a strong line, about twenty inches in length, to which are fastened three large hooks, back to back. These are fixed very securely, and covered with the white hair of a deer's tail, shreds of red garter, and some parti-coloured feathers, all of which form a tuft or tassel, nearly as large as one's fist, and entirely cover and conceal the hooks: this is called a bob. The steersman paddles softly, and proceeds slowly along shore, keeping the boat parallel to it, at a distance just sufficient to admit the fisherman to reach the edge of the floating weeds along shore; he now ingeniously swings the bob backwards and forwards, just above the surface, and sometimes tips the water with it; when the unfortunate cheated trout instantly springs from under the weeds, and seizes the supposed prey. Thus he is caught without a possibility of escape, unless he break the hooks, line, or rod, which he, however, sometimes does by dint of strength; but, to prevent this, the fisherman used to the sport, is careful not to raise the weed suddenly up, but jerks it instantly backwards, then steadily drags the sturdy reluctant fish to the side of the canoe, and with a sudden upright jerk brings him into it."
And so, although an avid fisherman I don't know a lot about the history of fishing, but it seems our Native American friends may have invented the treble hook and flyfishing. Even more interesting is his description of the "trout" his friends were catching.
"The head of this fish makes about one-third of it's length, and consequently the mouth is very large: birds, fish, frogs, and even serpents, are frequently found in its stomach.
"The trout is of lead colour, inclining to a deep blue, and marked with transverse waved lists, of a deep slate colour, and, when fully grown, has a cast of red or brick colour. The fins, with the tail, which is large and beautifully formed, are of a light reddish purple, or flesh colour; the whole body is covered with large scales. But what is most singular, this fish is remarkably ravenous; nothing living that he can seize upon escapes his jaws; and the opening and extending of the branchiostega, at the moment he rises to the surface to seize his prey, discovering his bright red gills through the transparent waters, give him a very terrible appearance. Indeed it may be observed, that all fish of prey have this opening and covering of the gills very large, in order to discharge the great quantity of water which they take in at their mouth, when they strike their prey. This fish is nearly cuneiform, the body tapered gradually from the breast to the tail, and lightly compressed on either side. They frequently weigh fifteen, twenty, and even thirty pounds, and are delicious food."
Perhaps we can learn a little from this manuscript, at the very least we know that a Native American in 1773 would have taken the trophy at any modern Bass fishing tournament, given the opportunity to bring his catch from the past. The biggest problems we have with our freshwater today is pollution, not overfishing. And we all need to be conscious of how we affect our waters. Is a beautiful lawn or shiny wheels on the car really worth it when you realize that most water pollution originates from the home? Yes; the pesticides, herbicides and "spray on-wash off" wheel cleaners do end up in the water eventually. Not to mention the engine degreasers and the flea and tick dip for Sparky (really bad stuff).The next time they aren't biting imagine catching a fifteen pounder on a cane-pole, using a fly the size of your fist made from deer fur and strips of red garter no less! It's something to think about, isn't it? And on public waters...Kent
FOR THE DOGS
I grew up fishing for bass, all of the panfish and catfish. Not necessarily in that order. I've probably caught more catfish than any of the other species and they were certainly the biggest fish I ever caught. I was raised, as we say in the South, in Southern Texas and then Central Alabama. Until I was old enough to handle a john- boat and a trolling motor I was stuck on the banks and docks. I still have a fondness for that type of fishing and until this previous summer had never been in a bass boat. I occasionally fish from a canoe and I'm always on public, often heavily fished, waters.
A couple of years ago I moved to Northern Georgia and suddenly I was in the mountains. Trout country! I was bound and determined to have a big time. I bought a fly rod before leaving Alabama and rented a house on the Toccoa River. Trout in my back yard. I could throw a rock into Tennessee and walk to North Carolina. Imagine my ecstasy, I called the place "Paradise". Trout streams everywhere.
I didn't know a damn thing about fly fishing and to be honest I still don't. I read an editorial one day and the author said that our former President, Jimmy Carter, was fly fishing for a Nobel Peace Prize. I knew exactly what the author meant, casting aimlessly all over the place and hoping something might hit. My landlord put me on the right track one day when he saw me fishing with ultralight spinning gear, from the bank in the back yard. He suggested that I use corn, canned corn. Either to tip my spinners with or to use as a bait, with split shot, by itself.
Corn? Has the old man gone crazy? But after a few questions I determined that he was still of sound mind and had actually caught trout using corn as bait. Go figure. He was adamant about it, so I gave it a try. Sure enough, with enough lead to get it to the bottom the trout would take it. "Amazing!" I thought "Vegetarian Trout, right here in North Georgia. Wait until the guys back home here about this!" And then as an afterthought, "Let's not let PETA know about it"...Later I learned that it was more important that the game warden not find out about it.
Yes, you can catch trout on corn nibblets. You also catch "Horny Head", a carp type creature with little warts on its forehead, hence the name. Some say they're edible. When I get "horny" for one some day perhaps I'll give it a try.
And then there was the day that I could catch nothing but Horny Head. I was irritated, I wanted trout! In a fit of genius I decided to cut one of the little corn stealing bastards into bait sized chunks and put a piece off to the side on my old Ambassador 5000, big enough to handle any old river monster. I set it up just like you would for a big Channel Cat in Texas; a big slip-shot weight and a big hook. It was only a matter of minutes before the rod tip began to bend.
I thought I had a nice two or three pounder for sure, until I saw a little flash of a red tinged belly during the fight... "What is this?" I thought, and didn't have a clue. It was a quick but aggressive fight and then due to the nature of the bank and my footing the monster was pulled gently into the weeds. As I parted the grasses the first thing I saw was a little hand waving at me. I jumped back and my heart skipped several beats. A hand? What sort of mutant had I tied into? I was close to the sulfuric acid plant in Copperhill, but upstream. Closer inspection revealed the biggest Salamander God had ever created, a world record salamander caught on an ultralight spin-rig. There wasn't even a category in the GA record books for it but I was sure there was a marine biologist somewhere that would make a name for himself with it. I would be semi-famous in the angling world myself.
I put him in an old ice chest and filled it with river water. Who would I show it to? I was new in town... I drove the little devil up to my landlord's house and he loved it. It was what the locals fondly refer to as a 'Water Dog'. They're everywhere around here and it wasn't even of record proportions, evidently they get real big. The actual salamanders I'm used to are called "lizards" among local fisherman. When my landlord was a kid the man that owned the local bait shop sold them in sm, med, lg and Xlg. You guessed it, he had a couple of water dogs in a big tank in the back, just to freak out people like myself.
I was expecting friends from Alabama so I put this big dog in an aquarium. They
on him just as much as I had, then we put the ol' catch and release into
practice. I hope to
meet him again someday because I neglected to take a picture.
Our next article comes from another long time reader and local expert, Len Taliaferro. As a NGTO message board regular I would like to thank Len for all the support and advice he has given over the years on the board and am very pleased to present this article about an interesting experience he had while serving his country.
Back in 1961, fresh out of college, I learned that I had flunked the eye exam for naval OCS. Rather than join the Navy as a swab or take a risk on being drafted for two years, I decided to join the Army Reserve for its 6-month (active duty),6-year(active reserve) program. I signed up with 444th Ordnance Company (Ammo Supply) out of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
It was July at the time and the unit was preparing to go to summer camp. After issuing my uniform and swearing me in as a PFC because of two years of Army ROTC, they told me not to come back until September following the unit's return from summer camp. "We don't have time to mess with a new boy," they said.
So September rolled around and I reported for my first Monday night drill where I got my assignment as an ammo records clerk in the headquarters platoon. Two weeks later, I went to my first weekend drill and a week after that, the unit was activated for the Berlin Crisis and assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.
Around the end of November, I was sent back to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas for basic training and then to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for advanced training. I returned to my unit at Fort Hood the middle of April 1962.
During my absence, the unit had set up a field ammunition dump and all of Fort Hood's artillary and armor units were drawing their ammo from us for field firing operations. However, since these were not full scale operations, only the section sergeant was required to maintain records and the four records clerks had nothing to do.
As anyone whose been in the Army knows, it's not safe to stand around with nothing to do because some sergeant will find some unnecessary and boring assignment for you. So each morning when the trucks arrived at the ammo dump, most of the guys grabbed their portable radios, magazines or books and headed for the surrounding scrub woods until time to catch the trucks back into post for lunch.
As we rode out on the truck that morning, my friend Gutnik warned me of this situation but I thought since it was my first day back, I'd hang around the headquarters tent and try to find something meaningful to do. I know, it was a stupid thing to do, but I thought I ought to show some interest and after all, I'd just finished training on ammo record keeping. I asked the sergeant if he had anything for me to do. He shoved a broom in my hand and told me to sweep the floor in the tent. The floor was dirt and I stayed busy until lunch sweeping the dirt.
It didn't take a second warning from Gutnik. After lunch, we walked quickly through the headquarters tent where Gutnik picked up two fly rods he had stashed. He led me down a path to a beautiful little creek about 150 yards from the ammo dump and completely hidden from view.
Flowing from east to west, the stream was about 20 yards wide with a fairly large rapid leading into a deep pool about 50 yards long. At the tail of the pool, the stream narrowed into a canyon of dirt with walls some 20 feet above the surface. At the canyon it became inaccessible for fishing except by boat and we didn't have one so we were restricted to the pool between the rapid and the canyon.
Gutnik had taken the flyrod with a small yellow bream popping bug on it and handed me the fly rod with a cork and hook. I asked what I was supposed to do for bait and he suggested I try to catch a grasshopper or find a caterpillar. Instead, I decided to wade out into the rapid to see what I could find under the rocks. The first rock I turned over had a large hellgrammite about three inches long which I carefully pulled off and baited my hook. I began fishing just below the rapid with no hint of a bite. Gutnik in the meantime was catching small perch on his popping bug about as fast as he could cast.
"Come up here," he said. "There's plenty of fish here." "Yeah," I said. "But my bait's bigger than your fish."
But I walked his way anyway. He was standing on a cut bank about three feet above the water's surface and casting to the middle of the stream. As I walked up to the cut bank, I dropped the hellgrammite right off the edge and eased the cork down to the surface of the water. The cork touched the surface and kept going down.
I watched it, stunned, wondering why it sank. I then try to pull it back to the surface but it wouldn't come. I obviously had snagged it on a log. I tugged a little harder trying to free it -- not too hard, though, because the leader was 3-pound test and it was old and brittle.
As I jerked lightly, whatever it was snagged on began to move.
"Oh god," I thought, "I've caught a snapping turtle." It was the only thing I could think of as it lumbered away from the cut bank toward the middle of the stream, gathering speed as it went.
Quickly, I started stripping line from the reel and it, whatever, it was, was now streaking to the opposite side of the pool. I had just enough line on the reel to reach the opposite side. Then it turned and came back toward me and I started cranking line in as fast as I could. The line actually went slack a couple of times, but apparently, it was hooked deeply enough that the hook didn't come out. When it reached the cut bank, it turned again and headed back across the pool and I started stripping again. This went on for some 10 minutes and whatever it was stayed deep as it traveled back and forth across the pool. I kept tension on the line as it went across and then cranked hard to get the line back in and prevent it from going slack on the return trip.
Finally, it rolled over on the surface and I got a glimpse of a forked tail. The only thing I could think of with a forked tail was a tuna so I started yelling to Gutnik that I had a landlocked tuna and to get something to put it in. He took off toward the ammo dump and was back just in time to get a collapsible canvas bucket into the water like a net. I led the tired fish into the bucket and we had us a 15-pound blue channel catfish--the largest fish I ever caught in fresh water. It was so long that when we folded into the bucket, its head stuck out on one side and the tail stuck out on the other.
We immediately returned to the ammo dump just in time to catch the trucks back into post. Gutnik, who lived with his family off post, said he would take the fish home and clean it and if some of the other guys would bring the beer, we'd have a fish fry.
Obviously, everyone had to take a look at the fish and word spread quickly. Gutnik headed for his house and 15 of us joined him. we had plenty of fish for all-- and plenty of beer, too. It was a great party.
The next day, a new order was posted on the bulletin board. "Fishing will no longer be allowed at the ammo dump," it said. Apparently, and typically for the Army, it was OK to fish as long as no one caught anything. Once it turned into fun, it had to be disallowed.
Undaunted, however, I began construction of a canoe built of scrap canvas and wood. But, that's another story for another time.
Our next article is presented by local angler Wesley Garrett. Sounds like you had a pretty good day Wes!
I am an avid trout fisherman and have recently been introduced to fly-fishing. I have lived in the mountains of north Georgia since birth and know most of the streams near my home. There was one however I had never fished. A friend of mine invited me to go to his "honey hole" where he had been catching several nice rainbows and a few browns. Knowing my friend, John, as I did I knew I better grab the chance to go while he was offering. We drove for miles on an old Forest Service road and parked to walk the rest of the way to the creek. I could tell few people knew of this place because of its location. Only dedicated fishermen like my friend would bother to battle brush and thickets to find a promising trout stream.
We eventually reached the water which was very overgrown due to the downed trees left behind from the blizzard of 93. Wading downstream to his trophy pool I began tying on a spinner. When we reached the pool, it was indeed looking very promising. One side was a sheer rock face reaching up about fifteen feet. The stream made a sharp right turn in the middle of the pool creating a deep hole adjacent to the rock. John took a position on the upper side of the pool and I took the lower.
On my second cast my line took an immediate dive upstream. I knew this was a large fish but couldn't see it yet. Working it back down stream I waded into the water below the pool and netted it on a sandbar. I was in shock. Before me lay the largest rainbow trout I had ever caught. Measurements showed it to be twenty-two inches in length. I gently removed the spinner and returned him into the water and watched him swim away. It was a spiritual moment. John and I fished for the rest of the afternoon catching several more nice fish but nothing like the first one.
Two weeks later I returned without John with my
flyrod. I crept to my position below the pool. I made several casts and
caught a few small brookies keeping them for the frying pan. I switched
flies and cast again. I almost fainted when I saw the flash as my fly
disappeared. I could tell right away that it was a large fish and I was
worried I couldn't land it on such light tackle. I fought the fish for a
solid twenty minutes before bringing him to rest on the same sandbar I had
gone to previously. This fish was even larger than the first. I measured
it to find that it was twenty-seven inches, five inches more than the first.
I have since returned to the same "honey hole" but never with the results I
In this next submission reader John Call describes a definite high point in any fly fishermans tenure. (John, the fly must not have been that bad if it worked!)
I have been fly fishing for bream and bass for years. Last year a friend invited me to go trout fishing with him on Noontootla so I brought my fly rod along. After fishing the creek all day my friend had some good success but I hadn't caught a fish. When I got home I decided that I would tie up some flies (which I had just started doing) and I would go back to the creek later.
About a month later I went back and fished hard and caught nothing. I came up on the prettiest pool I have ever seen and sat down on the bank to rest. The first thing I saw as a trout feeding on top water. Once...twice...three times. I couldn't see what he was feeding on so I pulled out a sorry excuse for a dry fly (one I had tied of course) and cast into the current. Boom! A hard hit and I missed the strike. I cast again and he hit again! I set the hook and landed a 6-inch rainbow. That fish has to rank as one of my favorite fish ever. Caught on one of my own dry flies, my first trout on a dry, and at the end of a disappointing day of fishing.
I released him back into the stream and watched him take up position
again to feed. Then I sat on the bank and just warmed in the sun
thinking I would never top that moment again.
Our last article comes from Bob Willis, now to be known as our official "dreamer". Wake up Bob! - Great story!
It was seven thirty in the morning. The fog had not completely lifted as I reached the river's edge. The Chattahoochee. Big river. It was eerie as I stepped into the cold water. No one was around. The only sound was the flow of the water breaking against the rocks.
Wading into the river to get in position to make a cast, I could feel my heart beating faster. Overhanging tree limbs and a large rock provided a perfect spot for a trout. Strange perhaps, but there are times when you know a trout is present and waiting.
I watched the tiny adams fly drift downstream under the trees and around the rock. I held my breath. In the quietness of the early morning, I watched and listened and waited as the fly reached its target. "Be ready to set the hook," I told myself. "Not too quick, be patient, wait, wait . . ." And suddenly the explosion! The early morning came alive with the sound of a rising trout taking the fly! Water and spray were everywhere as the trout made his first jump!
Downstream he went, stretching out the line. With his size and strength, he had to weigh at least six or eight pounds! He had to be taken! No one would believe me if I lost this fish. The drag screamed as he went downstream, turned left, then right. I tried to work him very carefully because of the light tippet.
At last, he seemed to be tiring. Reeling the line as fast as possible, the fish was now coming toward me. "Of all the days to leave the net in the car!" I scolded myself. Now the great brown was only about ten feet from me. He lunged again, but freedom was not to be found! "It's almost over!" I shouted as though the fish understood me. The great fish finally exhausted lay motionless. I reached down to get him, but then...
The alarm clock went off. It was Monday morning. Soon I would be in a staff meeting at work, but in my mind I would be somewhere else . . . the river, and the great brown would still be waiting.