FISH and FISHING is taking up lots of outdoor time this spring and summer. Why not? The weather is warm, the water is warm, and fish are feeding well after a long cold winter of little activity. Every farm pond, lake, stream of any size or even the big flood reservoirs are pulling in the people who want to catch fish.
Wanting to catch fish and actually catching fish are two different things. You can't catch them if you don't try. And the 'mystery' of when to go fishing, how to present the right bait in the right place at the right time from the right place is part of the reason bait and tackle shops have huge supplies to choose from. Every year new secret formulas are pushed by advertising gurus in hopes that you will buy their products. Just check out the ads in sporting magazines to see a huge array of the offerings. Have you ever seen a dedicated fisherman that has all the tackle he or she needs? The answer is no.
Fishermen and women also have a sixth sense about what works and what doesn't. They may share the secret or not. At the end of the day, they all live to tell the stories of the big one that got away. From time to time, pictures prove that not all big ones get away. The landing net and photographic proof tell it all.
Ed Moore of Marshalltown holds the 41 inch long, 19.6 pound Northern he caught at Lake Lac Soul in Ontario during the week of June 4th. The finny critter bit on a 3/8ths ounce jig and minnow bait to begin the ten minute tussle between man and fish. Once the photo was made, the big fish was slipped back into the water to finish growing up. Moore’s fishing companions for the annual fishing excursion included Jerry Rakowicz, Butch Bear, Bob Rider, Rick LaMasters, Harold Alliger and Don Niebuhr. The crew took enough walleyes to guarantee great shore lunches and legal fish to bring home.
Toby Brimmer is just one such fisherwoman. Her mid-April farm pond largemouth bass was 23 inches long. According to the trophy converter length to weight conversion table, a 23 inch bass should weigh in at 7.6 pounds. For comparison sake, a 22 incher will be about 6.6 pounds, 21 will be 5.7, 20 inch bass convert to 5.0 pounds.
If you or your kids catch a big one, be sure to record the moment with a good quality photo. If you want to share the adventure with readers of Outdoors Today, send the picture to me at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005. Great memories are made for those that take the time to go fishing. Enjoy the outdoors.
You may have seen the bumper sticker that reads...."God does not subtract from your lifespan those days you go fishing." So, my humble advice is this ... to live longer, go fishing often.
I happened to come across several turtles this past week. One was a medium sized snapping turtle, the other was a painted turtle. An interesting attachment to the painted turtle were four leeches. I pulled them off and brought them home for closer examination.
Leeches are not the most handsome of critters of the outdoor world. This oblong 34 segmented worm-like animal has a sucker-like foot at each end. The head end has grasping jaws and inside of that are many thousands of microscopic teeth to hold onto an animal. They feed on blood and can be found world wide in freshwater, terrestrial or marine environments. Leeches can use just about any animal: amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, fish and mammals as hosts for the temporary source for a blood meal. A fully developed leech can hold five times its body size in blood.
Medically, leeches have some amazing and puzzling qualities. When attaching to a host, they release an anesthetic to prevent the host from feeling the bite. They use a combination of mucus and suction to stay attached and secrete an anti-clotting enzyme into the host's blood stream. Once full of blood the leech will release its hold and fall away to digest its holdings. The blood meal within the leech does not decay over time nor coagulate. Leeches attached to a patient's wound by a doctor may promote fresh oxygenated blood to reach the area and speed healing.
The above example is just proof that Mom Nature has many secrets up her sleeve. If man-kind is ever able to fully analyze the fantastic chemistry found in all plants and animals, then medical history books will expand with huge volumes of knowledge. How man-kind learns to apply the science to every day situations will never end.
State High School TRAP SHOOTING CHAMPIONSHIPS have been completed. Many people do not know that this competitive sport is even offered. Too bad. For those with a keen eye and carefully polished hand-eye coordination, shooting clay targets is a very satisfying sport. More than 500 high schoolers met earlier this month near Cedar Falls to take their best shots.
For those schools that have a great tradition and shooting team, word of mouth spreads and other nearby schools begin to participate. Ben Berka, Iowa DNR shooting sports coordinator calls it the "cluster affect". "When one school starts, then another wants it."
The finals are the culmination of a two month competitive program from 130 different matches across Iowa. Results of the matches were posted on-line so all could see who is tops in a class. That is who one will have to beat at the state tournament. For the 2010 shooting matches, 70 girls and 465 boys attended the Cedar Falls State Trap Shoot facility to take aim and bust clay targets.
When the dust settled, or should I say gun powder residue dissipated, New Hampton won the team title in a shoot off against Maquoketa. Each team up to that point had broken 472 clays out of 500. Osage came in third with 458, Nashua had 454, Northwood Kensett had 453 and Mason City scored 449.
Individual boys dueled away after each had broken 99 out of 100 in four regular rounds. A shoot-off finally settled the title and it went to Cody Mercer of Charles City. Second place went to Samuel Beaver of St. Ansgar. The gals top winner was Calleen Anderson of Ogden who broke 88 of 100. Second place went to Kayci Klobassa of Osage.
Most schools in the competition offer the trap shooting opportunities as a club or school activity. Also available are sporting clays, skeet and archery. "It teaches shooting in a safe manner. Boys and girls compete equally", noted Berka. "Coaches and school officials tell us it catches a lot of kids who maybe aren't participating in other activities."
Shooting sports offer a venue to the outdoors in an increasingly urban society. To learn more about shooting sports, check out the DNR web site www.iowadnr.gov/law/shootingsports/.
If a turtle does not have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.