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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Savory Bacon Stuffed Venison Roast

The problem with venison is that it can be very dry. This recipe is self basting, meaning that as the venison cooks it will be constantly basted by a steady stream of wonderful bacon fat. This roast ended up being so moist and flavorful that even the picky lady eaters wanted seconds!

Savory Bacon Stuffed Venison Roast

  • 1 Venison Roast - A flat roast from a hind quarter is best
  • 1 Pound of cheap Bacon - Get the cheap, fatty stuff. We want the fat, not the meat.
  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Red Wine (more or less)
  • Butcher String
  • Toothpicks

Pre-heat Oven to 350.

Butterfly your roast. This is not as hard as it seems. If you can fillet a fish, you can butterfly a roast. Can't fillet a fish? Well....that sucks. Go fishing. Fillet a few fish. Then make this dish.

thanksgiving 001
Start with a long, thin, razor sharp knife

thanksgiving 002
Slice through the center, stopping before you cut all the way through

thanksgiving 003
Lay open

After you have flayed open the roast like a ninja, place one layer of bacon over the opening.

thanksgiving 006

Roll up the roast, keeping as much of the bacon inside as possible. Trim the bacon that sticks out....or don't. It won't change how it tastes. 

Tie it up with Butcher String. I placed string every two inches.

thanksgiving 007

Put the roast in a greased roasting pan. Cover roast with bacon, using toothpicks to keep the bacon in place. If you do not use the toothpicks the bacon may fall off as it shrinks.

Pour the wine over the roast.

thanksgiving 010

Slice the butter and stack it on top of the roast.

thanksgiving 011

Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. I can't tell you how long yours will take as all venison roasts are a different size and thickness. Mine took about 30 minutes. 

For best results, baste with drippings every ten minutes. 

thanksgiving 014

Remove the string and slice in thick pinwheels. We discard the internal bacon as it is probably not fully cooked and is only needed for seasoning. 

Serve with Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Sugar-Glazed Carrots for a great meal!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Attempt At Gyotaku

I have recently been inspired to try Gyotaku by Rob Choi over at Angling Addict. Gyotaku is fish printing. Basically, you paint a dead fish and rub a piece of paper over it. The resulting print is your artwork.

It is a LOT harder than it sounds.

A few weeks ago I had a small Bluegill swallow a hook. Since I knew it was going to die anyway, I decided to try and make a print of it.

This was my best one out of about nine tries.

Gyotaku is a really cool art form and a great way to continue enjoying fishing, even when you are not actually fishing. I plan on practicing and learning how to do it.

Now to just catch something larger than a 6" Bluegill.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Textbook Perfect Hunt

Sometimes the stars align and everything goes exactly as planned. This happened on my last deer hunt.

I was again invited on an early black powder hunt with my friend, Buck, near Martinsville, VA. We spent the first day without seeing a single deer, which is very unusual on the land we were on. So, Buck recommended we try another plot of land. Since he is the expert in the area, I gladly agreed and we moved our stands.

The land he recommended was as close to perfect as you can get. It consists of about 40 acres of poplars and pines surrounding a small field. The field is on the top of a hill. This property is adjacent to several hundred acres of woodland that is managed by a hunt club. The hunt club land closest to the land we could hunt on looked to be used as the deer's sanctuary. There are no roads, trails, or stands that we could find.

Deer come off the hunt club land to feed in the field. We found a few obvious routs that the deer were using to access the field and set up our stands there.


My stand was in a textbook perfect spot. It was halfway down a ridge in a nice open area. The hunt club land was to my left (my strong shooting side) and there were heavy log jams behind me and to my front. I was expecting the deer to come off the hunt club land and be funneled by the log jams directly to me. To my right I had a clear view of a thick bottom with a creek. The entire bottom was in range, so if something decided to work its way around me, I still had it. I had a good shooting lane on all sides, so if a deer came within 70 yards, I had a good chance.

The only downside was that it was raining. Not a heavy rain, just a light drizzle. Just enough to get your powder wet.

 At about 7:30 three does came busting down the ridge, angling away from me. I tried to stop them with a call, but there was no slowing them. They stopped in the bottom about 90 yards away, but I was unable to get a clear shot. It dawned on me that they were probably being chased by a buck.

The moment that thought ran through my head a deer came over the ridge at a steady pace. It was headed directly for me.

I stopped it with a loud NA-AA-AA and placed a 50 caliber, 300 grain bullet one inch behind its left shoulder. A perfect broadside, double lung shot at 18 yards.

 It ran down and then back up and away. I saw it try to jump over a log jam and fall backwards.

It was surprisingly difficult to find. There was a very clear blood trail, but the rain was washing it away. I found where I saw the deer fall, but no deer. This is where the blood trail ended.

After about 20 minutes of circling I found it at the bottom of the ridge. After it died it had rolled all the way down.

As I found it
It was not until I began the short drag to the creek for field dressing it that I noticed it was a buck! A small buck, but a buck nonetheless!

Most experienced hunters would not be excited by such a small animal, but this one was special. I have hunted for years, spend countless hours in the woods and have never killed a buck. Plenty of does, but never a buck. Finally, my first buck!

It may only have 1 1/2 points, but those little antlers are going on the wall!

Oh, and to make it even more perfect, the buck rolled down the hill to within 30 yards of the truck. No long drags this time!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sand, Surf, and Redfish

Youtube is full of lies! Lies I say!

After watching hundreds of videos on Youtube of people surf fishing, I decided to give it a try. On Youtube everyone either caught tons of small fish, or a few really, really big fish. Plus, it looked very easy. In one video a 5 year old girl caught what looked like a hundred fish! In another, this guy caught a dozen large shark in one night.

Easy, fun, productive, why doesn't everyone do it? Because it is freakin' hard that's why!

I already had chest waders and a 10' pole and matching reel, so I really didn't have to spend too much to get started. I did spent a little money and outfitted myself with a large frame spinning reel to match a 15' pole that was given to me. The only tackle I needed was weights, so I purchased a variety from 3 to 8oz. I made a couple sand spikes out of scrap from my workshop.

The plan was for me to fish for two days, find the fish, and then my Dad would drive down and we would spend a day together fishing.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. A nor'easter blew through creating very high tides and crazy surf. I tried fishing those first two days, but even my heaviest weights would just roll right back to shore. I'm talking 8oz hurricane weights.

I wish I took pictures of the crazy surf, but I guess I was just too awestruck to even think of it.

Needless to say, all I managed to do was tire myself out.

Thankfully, the day Dad came down was much nicer. The surf died down and we could actually keep our baits out on the water.

We even caught fish!

We both ended up with a 17" redfish and several smaller ones. Cut finger mullet was the bait of choice, with mole crabs coming in at a close second.

Dad and a nice redfish
It wasn't the fishing extravaganza I had hoped for, but we did end up having a lot of fun.

And by the way, one thing Youtube never mentions is how sore you will be after a day of surf fishing. My shoulders and arms ached after casting those huge rods and heavy baits. My legs and back were sore from fighting the surf. It was an amazing workout!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Fishing Phone

Those of you who read this blog frequently know that I love my iPhone. I've written several posts on apps and accessories that an outdoorsman can use. These posts are some of my most popular.

I generally take my iPhone with me hunting and fishing. I have a Plano waterproof case that is made for it. This case is bulletproof and my phone is 100% safe while it is in it. However, to use the phone I have take the phone out of the case.

Therein lies the problem. Those few seconds that I take it out to check the time, weather, or my messages are perilous. Many times my iPhone has almost been lost or damaged while I had it out of its case. Also, the main reason I keep my phone with me when I am on the water is for safety. It occurred to me that if I fall overboard I will not be able to call for help. My phone will not work when wet.

So, I have started using a second, waterproof phone when I am out in my kayak or boat.

I use Verizon and adding a second line only costs $10 a month. A good, used waterproof phone only costs about $25, so it is kind of a no-brainer. Especially when you consider that it would cost several hundred to replace an iPhone and a waterproof phone adds another layer of safety.

I use a Casio G'zOne. It is a very tough phone. I have thrown it across the parking lot at work without more than a scuff and I have confirmed that it can receive calls while under water.

An added bonus to this whole thing is that my workplace does not have my fishing phone number! How many relaxing fishing trips have been tainted by an "urgent" text, voicemail, or email? Too many. Way too many.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

12 Step Fish

I keep most of the eating size fish I catch. The only exceptions are large, freshwater fish. They are such a challenge to catch, I feel guilty taking them out of the system.

I keep most of the "keepers" I catch because my family eats a lot of fish. It is not uncommon for us to eat several pounds of the stuff a week. We have several recipes that we use. 12 Step fish is our favorite.

I call it "12 Step Fish" because it came from a list of recipes that claimed to only take 3 steps. This was a joke. While this recipe is not difficult, it has way more than 3 steps! It is kind of like those recipes that claim they only take 20 min to prepare, but include precooked meat and pre-chopped vegetables in their ingredient list. Anyway, "12 Step Fish" does not actually have 12 steps, it just seems like it.

12 Step Fish


Fish Fillets (light fish such as trout, croaker, stripper, or crappie are best)
1 Large Onion Sliced (2 if you really like onion, or you can substitute Garlic for the Onion)
1 cup Flower
2 cups Chicken Stock
1/4 cup Lemon Juice (Lime Juice or even Orange Juice will give it a diferent twist)
1 Tablespoon Butter
Olive oil

first day of school 003

Dredge the fish in flower. Coat a large skillet or saucepan in olive oil and cook fish over a medium heat. Do not over cook.

first day of school 004

When done, remove fish from pan and set aside. Cover the fish with a towel to keep warm.

first day of school 007

Caramelize the onion in the skillet. You may need to add some more olive oil. Make sure the are good and Caramelized.

first day of school 012

When the onions are done, add the chicken broth and lemon juice. Turn the stove to high and boil the mixture down to a thick sauce, stirring often.

first day of school 013

Once you just have a thick sauce, remove the skillet from heat and add the butter. Mix in the butter as it melts.

first day of school 016

Pour the sauce over the fish and serve. I like to eat it with sticky white rice and a green vegetable. Asparagus goes especially well with it.

DreamHost Promotional Code