Monday, December 31, 2012

A Few Resolutions

I'm not big on New Years resolutions. I find that I either make them so grand that I cannot possibly attain them, or so simple I accomplish them in the first week.

That being said, I do have a few outdoors goals for next year.

  1. Catch a citation fish. I don't really care which species, but am going to target the blue catfish. This seems to be the most attainable as I live very close to the James river which is known for large blues.
  2. Learn to fly fish from my kayak. I'm fairly good on land, but have a feeling that doing it from a kayak will be a different challenge.
  3. Catch a walleye. I've never caught one and have an itch to catch one. My in-laws live 30 minutes from Philpott Lake, which is one of the best walleye fisheries in Virginia.
I think these goals are reasonable.


As for any goals for this blog..... I don't have any. I have been enjoying my leisurely blogging pace and plan to continue doing things exactly as I have been. Since I learned that making money from this blog is unrealistic, I have been enjoying it much more.


I hope you have a great new year and a wonderful 2013!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Contour Roam - First Adventure

After over a year of shopping, comparing, and dreaming, I finally purchased a high quality action camera. After being burnt by the worst camera ever made, I was very careful with my decision.

If you have done much shopping for action cameras you know that there are a lot out there, but only two or three real choices. For me, the choice came down to the GoPro Hero 2 and the Contour Roam.

Both are great cameras. The GoPro is by far the most popular among kayakers in my area. I'm not going to go into specifics, but I chose the Contour because it was about $100 less expensive and has all of the features I want in a camera.

The biggest drawback is that the special mounts for it are ridiculously expensive. Fortunately, I can make my own. Like this one:

I set it up to take a picture every second. The Contour Roam gets about 4 hours of run time in this mode. I figured this would be more friendly for my blog and still catch all the action I could want.

I was right!

I got more great shots in one short catfishing trip than I did all last year with my regular cameras.

I foresee the photography on this blog getting better and the fun level of my outings going up!

Don't disregard the Contour Roam. It may be less expensive and less popular, but it is a great camera with an impressive set of capabilities.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How To Humanely Kill a Catfish

Catfish are hard to kill. I have seen them still moving after being out of the water for hours.

I never liked keeping catfish because they are so hard to clean and kill. I refuse to fillet a live fish. I am convinced that fish do feel pain.

That is, I did not like doing it until I learned this method of killing them instantly.

Basically, you make a small slit over the soft spot on their head between their eyes. Then slide a thin piece of wire into the soft spot, destroying the fishes brain and central nervous system.

The fish will shutter for a few seconds and then go limp. Large catfish require a long piece of wire.

Here is a video I made on how to do it:



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review - Scotty Bait Board

Occasionally a product comes by that it so simple, yet so useful I think "Why didn't I invent that?"

The new Scotty Bait Board is one of those products.

Basically, the Scotty Bait Board is simply a cutting board attached to a Scotty mount that you can place in any Scotty base. Most boats or kayak have a few Scotty compatible bases scattered around. My Trident 13 has 9, and I plan on adding more!

A bait board is a nice luxury. It helps keep things clean and organized. I hate using the top of a Plano box or my kayak to cut up bait. When a hook gets dull or I try a new lure the old one usually get tossed into my footwell to be forgotten. The Scotty Bait Board gives me a place to put this gear.

Who wants dead eel slime on their kayak or tackle box?

Like all Scotty products, The boards construction is very good. I am tough on my gear, but I have full confidence in this. It is most certainly sturdy enough to cut bait on, even big baits. Once it is in a holder it is like it is a permanent piece of your boat.

It is easy to move around. I keep it in the mount on my Rod Pod farthest away from me and move it forward when I need to use it. I have landed quite a few fish with it attached and it has never gotten in my way.

This setup may not work if you have big feet, but it is perfect for me.

It is designed to hold lures around the edges and has built in mounts for other scotty products like their camera mount and cup holder. I found one of the slots perfect for my knife.

The Scotty camera mount (which is not included) worked particularly well, positioning the camera almost perfectly for trophy shots.

Like this monster!
You can purchase a riser to raise it up and customize its position. I may do this, but it is certainly not necessary. I think the pictures would benefit from it being higher, but am afraid it would begin to get in my way.

There is very little bad I can say about this product. It is well made and serves a much needed purpose. I foresee it becoming one of those things I use every time I go out.

I purchased it from Hook1 for $17.99, but it can be found at most online fishing retailers for about $20.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jigging For Catfish

The last time I went fishing I had an revelation.

I was sharing the lake with two old guys in a John boat. We were fishing a section of lake that is known for holding catfish. I was keeping a respectable distance from them, about 100 yards. This was far enough to stay out of their way, but close enough to see what they were doing.

Not that I was paying much attention, the fish were biting with a hit almost every cast. I was vaguely aware that these old guys were not catching anything. Suddenly I heard some cursing and one of the men loudly proclaimed: "If I had expensive stuff like that guy, I would be catching too!" Then they turned their boat around and went home.

I don't have expensive stuff. Granted, my gear may have been of a higher quality than theirs, I don't buy fishing gear at Walmart, but I don't use anything outrageous. My favorite line is the $4 stuff from Bass Pro. I wasn't using any fancy live baits like eels or crabs and my fish finder is currently broken.

Two of my favorite things. Incidentally, the kayak and poodle cost exactly the same.
I do use fluorocarbon leaders, Spro jigs, Gulp! Alive, and a $1000 kayak......they may have a small point. Regardless, I don't think that made a difference this time.

It took a few days for me to realize why I was catching more than them. They were bottom fishing cut bait. I was also bottom fishing cut bait on one rod, but with my other I was using a bucktail jig. All of my fish were caught on the bucktail. I got a few bites on the cut bait, but never even hooked a fish with it.

This made me realize that every catfish I have caught this year was on a jig.

I know, I know this flies in the face of typical cat fishing practices. Catfish love stinky, dead bait. Right?

I think that catfish will eat dead bait, but prefer to eat fresh stuff. Catfish are super predators. Every part of their body shows that they were created for it. They have keen eyesight and good hearing. Their ability to smell is almost unsurpassed. They are powerful swimmers with gaping mouths. In many ways, catfish have a lot in common with sharks.

When you view them like this it makes sense to fish for them like you would a predator, not a scavenger.

There are a few tricks I have found for targeting catfish with jigs. First is the jig itself. You need a jig with a heavy hook. Many times I have hooked a big catfish with a light hook and had it straighten the hook out. I like bucktails made by Spro and Hurricane. I have never had problems with these two brands.

The color of the jig does not seem to matter, but I do believe they need to have a little flash. A flash can make it easier for the fish to home in on your bait.

A bucktail alone is not going to catch you much. It needs a trailer. I prefer a piece of Gulp!. All Gulp! types seem to work the same. Good results can be had with shrimp or cut eels too. I believe the action of the jig attracts the catfish and the smell of the trailer makes them bite.

I get best results from swimming the jig 3 to 6 feet off the bottom. A slow retrieve is required. You should try and make you jig look like a lost, hurt baitfish. I have tried a quick jigging action, high sweeping jigging, and even a steady retrieve. They all seem to do well one day and poorly the next. Experimentation is key.

The hits usually feel like a quick thump, then slack line. Set the hook quickly or you will loose the fish. I think they are following the jig, open their mouth to take it, and then just keep swimming.

One thing of note when trying this tactic: I usually catch a lot of fish in the 2 - 10 pound range, but nothing huge. If you are trophy hunting, you should probably stick with traditional methods.

The biggest thing I like about using jigs for catfish is that I often catch other species of fish. Bass, pickerel, and who-knows-what can join the fray!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Venison Carrot Chowder

 This recipe is commonly found in the Shenandoah Valley, but rarely anywhere else. Most people are tuned off by its main ingredient. Don't worry, the carrots only add a mildly sweet flavor! They are not overpowering. This chowder is actually tomato based.

early december 003

While you can use lean beef or ground chicken, venison is perfect. Venison lends itself well to soups, chowders, and stews because it is lean enough to not leave a greasy film like beef, but will also not dry out as easily as chicken. Venison also has a mild flavor, allowing the vegetables to take center stage.

early december 001

If your kids like tomato soup they will probably like this one. Pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich and some chips or pretzels and you have a great family meal!

early december 002

It also makes a great base for experimentation. Leave out some ingredients  add some, it will change subtly and be great!

This recipe almost requires a food processor. Otherwise you will be slicing forever! For best results slice the vegetables as thin as a credit card. 

Venison Carrot Chowder

  • 1 pound Ground Venison
  • 4 cups Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can Cream of Celery Soup (or Cream of Chicken, although the Celery is better)
  • 3 cups Shredded Carrots (use a cheese grater or your food processor)
  • 1 cup Thinly Sliced Celery ( I used the slicing attachment on my food processor)
  • 1 cup Thinly Sliced Onion (again, food processor)
  • 1 cup Thinly Sliced Green Bell Pepper (yup, food processor again)
  • 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed
  • 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional, but adds a lot to the taste!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream

Brown Venison with olive oil. 

In large pot or dutch oven, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for half an hour  for a chunky chowder or up to four hours for a creamy chowder. I prefer creamy.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.


Try adding some cyan pepper, diced potatoes, black beans, or corn for a different flavor!

Monday, December 10, 2012

An Unintentional Catfishing Trip

I went out looking for a few fat stripers today. I couldn't find any, but I did run into a bunch of catfish.

They started out small.

But got increasingly bigger.


I ended up with around a dozen. No monsters, but these blues are fun to catch on light line.

They were all caught on Spro bucktails with a Gulp trailer.

DreamHost Promotional Code