Spring classes are about half-way through, but I am looking to add several exciting new classes in the summer and fall semesters!
Soil Amendment & Composting – 6PM, May 21st @ Crisp – Learn about your living soil, including several popular techniques like Lasagna Gardening.
Beginning Phenology - 5:30PM, April 16th @ Crisp – Phenology is one of my favorite classes about everything and nothing. In general, Phenology is the study of the progression of the seasons – When birds migrate, buds open and fruits ripen.
Modern Hunter Gatherer - 5:30PM, April 9th @ Salem – A deep look into the wild edibles of Illinois, and how to safely gather them.
Late Season Gardening – 5:30PM May 19th @ Crisp, or April 30th @ Salem – Want to have fresh greens for Christmas? A look into season extending through easy garden practices.
In addition, I will be teaching a Webpage Design course April 27-29th, 5:30-8:00 PM at the Crisp Technology Center. If you have any questions about any of these courses, feel free to drop me a line.
This past Sunday I headed up to Shelbyville spillway to try to add some species to my 50 fish challenge. Overall, I didn’t see many fish come out of the water. Ben Cantrell came down, and managed to pull out a Common Carp. Earlier that morning I had a musky hit a double-bladed chartreuse spinnerbait so hard that it flew out of the water, but even with a trailer hook it didn’t get hooked. Otherwise, I saw a couple smallish walleye and a buffalo get caught. I started right at the gates at sunrise, and worked my way down past the bridge. Skunked for the first time this year.
However, I took my daughter down to Catfish Pond in Centralia Foundation Park and we hooked her first fish together. We missed the first few, as I was trying to teach her how to set the hooks. She ended up being the designated bobber watcher, and told me when it went under. I set the hook for her, and she reeled it in. I ran some more line out and let her reel it in one more time. She threw it back in by herself, but she drew the line at giving it a kiss. I’ll count this one as a catch for both of us
So, I had some time one Saturday morning, and decided to head up to Newton to fish. I dropped in the local bait shop, which had a great selection – Rauch’s. Don’t go there by Google Maps, I’ve submitted a map correction for it but I wasted fishing time driving to a cow pasture.
I headed up to the North end, parked at the state’s parking lot and set off towards the bank. You might notice if you go up there, it’s all been washed out. The trails are gone, and it took some climbing to get down to fish. But a couple 1/2oz dark brown finess jig casts later and I had a new fish on the line.
That’s right. I’ve done a fair amount of fishing, but I’ve pretty much only went after Catfish, Walleye, and Sunfish on purpose, and just haven’t had much bycatch (that I can remember). I’ve just never been a bass fisherman. So this is my #1 First Largemouth Bass. I caught a whole lot of them that day. It was in the 20s, and I had ice in my beard, but I caught fish. So that’s good. I rigged up some crawlers for panfish and threw up into some necks. Newton is NOT a panfish fishery, buy any stretch of the imagination, but there are some there. I’m glad I did because I caught a new species doing it. The neck was just full of these little longears. They were really small, and had very light coloration.
It was still a little slow, so I thought I would try my hand at catfish. I feel like, although my dad is the Guru of Catfish, I have a pretty good handle on a few sure-fire ways to catch them. So I went down to the dam, tied up a carolina rig with 2 oz. worth of a snagless sinker (slinky-type) and threw as hard as I could. The sinker actually landed behind me in the road. I had been protected from the wind from the trees before…but now it was impossibly strong. I put on 4 oz, which was the most I could throw on that rod, and it landed in front of me this time…but only by a few yards. If I had it all to do over again. I would have taken a BB Gun and used balloon rigs to float it out from one of the points north of the dam.
A few short weeks ago, I went fishing on vacation to Oahu. My Father-in-Law and I booked a charter on the North Shore with Chupu. Captain Jared Dow took us out and we were treated with this beautiful sunrise. To sidetrack for a minute, I had been thinking earlier in the year about doing a “Species Challenge” for the year, and setting myself a goal of X number of fish to catch. Since this was my first fishing trip of the year, I pulled 50 out of the air for a random goal. There are around 120 some species in Illinois, the greatest majority are in the minnow size range (I’ve never microfished before), so it may prove to be quite the challenge. I’m going to try to complete the challenge without micros, however we’ll see what happens closer to year’s end.
It wasn’t long before Jared got us into some bait balls and we started pulling up Pacific Jack Mackerel. We were catching them on home-grown sabiki rigs 3-4 at a time. I hooked a Giant Trevally which put up quite a fight. Once he got the the boat, he had had enough and straightened the hook and swam off. These guys were nice fish for Southern Illinois, but they were pretty small by even bait standards here. We rigged them up by threading a piece of string through their eye tunnel, twisting it and attaching it to the hook. Then, a trailer hook was stuck near the tail for trolling. Wasn’t long until we had our first customer.
My Father-in-Law and I both got into these Keel-Jawed Needlefish with the Jack Mackerel. They flopped around quite a bit, the guide didn’t really want us unhooking them. I’ve unhooked a coon and coon-dog before, can’t be any worse, right? We started rigging up for the big guns at this point. We really started seeing whales. They were humpbacks. I don’t mean we saw a whale here and a whale over there, there we everywhere. They would come up surprisingly close to the boat and check us out. Every once in a while they’d start breaching in waves. It’s really something to see so many tons of animal launch themselves out of the water like that. We got into some tuna then, and they were MONSTERS.
You may notice I have a fighting-belt on here. Didn’t really end up needing it for these guys. We caught a fair mess of these guys, and they were DELICIOUS. They also ended up being bait for our southern-Oahu explorations. The weather started calming down and sea legs were working a little better. Then we caught two back to back Mahi. I have been waiting to catch a Mahi forever, don’t really know what my obsession was with them. For whatever reason, they just don’t bite up in Southern Illinois!
We ended up giving the Bull Mahi and the Jack Mackerel, as well as half the tuna to the captain. We took the rest of the fish home on a 3 hour bus ride where two rednecks tried to figure out how public transportation works in Hawaii. We may or may not have been held up by shaved ice and cheeseburgers… which are a mystery to me. I would probably be considered by most of my friends and family to be just a little obsessed with cheeseburgers and fries. Two of the best cheeseburgers in my life came out of this trip. One was from a little restaurant on the North Shore, which I cannot successfully Google for some reason, and the other came out of Delux Burger – Terminal 4 at Phoenix “Skyharbor” International Airport. I’m trying to come up with vacation plans that will get me back to Phoenix, because I have a new favorite burger. The shaved ice problem was, that Hawaii is known for is Shaved Ice. Maybe I’m a little prejudiced, but I swear my Dad does it better. Here is Hawaii’s score card from various stops:
-5 Pts. for undertempered ice, -10 Pts. for how can you realistically call that flavor Pineapple WE ARE IN HAWAII.
+10 Pts. for awesome pineapple flavor, -10 Pts. because you shaved it too coarse and the flavor just ran through it.
Ice Was OK, Flavor Was OK, But Now I’m just disillusioned with Shaved Ice. Nothing to write home about.
So, day 2 rolls around and I start sweet-talking my wonderful wife into walking over to the Sports Authority and browsing. Came back with a 7′ South Bend Trophy Stalker for <$20 bucks. It was medium-heavy, strung it up with 8# mono. Bought some adjust-a-bubbles, curly-tails, jig-heads and a giant chartreuse bucktail which got hung up on the first cast. We were going to try what the locals call whipping.
The first time my Father-in-Law and I tried it we went at night, and caught a fair amount of these guys:
They loved curly tails. Especially the Glow-in-the-dark 3″ walleye variety that I borrowed from my daughter’s “Fishie” collection. I replaced them when I got home, you won’t see her without them too much. You just about couldn’t catch anything else at night where we were at, since they are pretty much designed for night-time predation. The camera flash washes out most of their red coloration.
Rachel and I went out for some sunset fishing at one point, and caught one baby Bluefin Trevally before the bigeyes took over. Our vacation was really getting in the way of fishing! Finally we had one last night to make it happen. We had to leave our room, but our flight wasn’t leaving till around 11PM. High tide was peaking around Sunset, so I ran out, whipped out a white curly tail a few times and caught the final fish of my trip – a bluespotted cornetfish. I didn’t even know that these existed. My Father-in-Law also caught a small, very pokie fish. When we got to the resort, one of the workers there wanted to see what we caught. He had several things to say about the pokie one, mostly involving not touching them. He said that the ancient Hawaiians loved to catch cornetfish in lagoons and that they and the Hawaiian big-eyes are very delicious. I managed to slide into the hot tub beside my wife just before sunset, and if she noticed that I smelled like fish she didn’t say anything. Did I mention that I love my wife?