Monday, September 24, 2012

Stocking Stuffers for Your Bug-Out-Bag..3 items that you should add TODAY!

Stocking stuffers! How many of you LOVED getting stocking stuffers at Christmas? My dad took special pride in his stocking stuffers. It really was the highlight. Dump that bad boy out. See what all the usefully little stuff Santa could cram in 24 inches of an old sock. Now, it took me a long time to figure out what he was doing. Mostly, as he was checking out at Wal-Mart  with our Christmas presents, he would look over at the junk racks. Anything that was useful, he bought....and some things that weren't. But, the stocking was first to be pilfered and always started Xmas out in a big way.

Now, to be fair, Wal-Mart does a terrific job, especially at Xmas, on making sure that the checkout aisles are filled with good stuff to catch your eyes. On this list are the obvious: batteries, magazines, gum. But, in Wal-Mart, everything is bigger, so you get BIG packs of gum and BIG packs of batteries. Also included are niceties like flashlights, doe urine (the hunters will understand), and Hot-Hands. All the things a little outdoors boy needs.

So, what does this have to do with our bug-out-bag?

Well, if you are like me, all the big items have been bought. All the basic necessities tucked firmly away. Only a few nook and crannies left to stash anything. But, filling these nook and crannies with useful items that catch your eyes and make your brain go "hmmm..wouldn't that be useful if..." could make or break you when the time comes. Don't just think about the pockets on your pack..think about the loops, the latches, anything that could make something useful easy to store and easy get to. These items are not usually things you would every think to put on your list, nor do the lists that appear on Amazon under "build your bug-out-bag". Sometimes you have to think of situations. Sometimes you just have the epiphany.

I can't really take credit for thinking to myself: "self, that would be a good addition to your bag!" In fact, most of the time, it comes to me as I guessed it....checking out at Wal-Mart (or Fred's, in my case...since I go in for $2 weed-eater line and come out $70 poor(er) ).

Let's get to it. What is Crazy Ole Zach shoving in a pack that is already to full?

Item #1..PPE Gear. Well, ironically, I was looking at other people's list, and PPE...personal protection...gear stared right back at me. Or, rather, the lack thereof. I have plenty of good cold weather gear, but that's not what we are talking about. We are talking about chemical suits and gloves, steel toed boots, chemical masks.

Obviously, some of these items won't find their way into the pack. Boots, for example. They are heavy and take up too much space. But, other than that, these other items are compact and easy to come by. And cheap. That leaves the other items. Chemical suit, gloves, and mask never crossed you mind. But they should. All of your preparations are for naught if chemical hazards become a concern. Even if that were a 1% chance, that 1% chance could be lethal at the expense over a few dollars and 2 pounds of gear. Now, initially, I thought about how these items were just dead weight otherwise. But, then I got to thinking....a Tyvex suit repels water just like any other chemical. Sure, it isn't the optimal rain suit, but it works. And a rain suit is a crucial piece of equipment. While it may rarely get to freezing temps here in Alabama, it gets to 33 degrees and rains PLENTY of time. Protecting yourself from exposure is a necessity. Even staying dry in the perfect temperature is crucial. I don't know about you, but I can't sleep when wet. And sleep deprivation because you are soaking wet is not an idea thing when you must keep your wits about you. Now, the use for it's actual consideration are easy to see. Chemical warfare. Biological "issues".

How about a chemical mask. Again, it's a single use item, but easily attaches to an outside loop of your bag. Saving you from a chemical attack is obvious, but did you think about it's use in a smokey environment? Well, folks, if you end up having to use your bag, rest assured that something somewhere will be on fire.

Chemical gloves? Again, it's true use is obvious. But, gloves are a necessity in a work/rebuilding environment. Again, it's not the optimal use of them, but it is a use. You will surely be busting through glass, or chopping wood, or generally using your hands at some point. Also helps you keep those phalanges warm when you otherwise might not have anything.

An item that will ALWAYS be overlooked is safety glasses. Face it, you can't really say that there isn't a point in your everyday life where you shouldn't have a pair of glasses wrapping around your eyes, whether its prescription, sun protection, or plane safety glasses. Even better are a pair that do all 3. The LAST thing you want in the EOTWAWKI (go look it up) is to be blind. Hey, stuff happens randomly every single day. Now imagine that you are in the thick of it.  Constantly on the move. Things are burning, blowing up. Bullet casings are flying. It even has a biological protection side to it...but we won't go there. I can't think of a worse thing. So, wearing a pair of safety glasses is an obvious need, even if it's not obvious to you at first. It's light weight. It costs nothing. It protects the part of you that is always the most venerable and perhaps the most important part of your sensory network. Even in it's most basic sense, the need to protect your eyes as you are building or working outside against wood chips and flying branches, protecting your long term vision against the sun.....we see the trend.

So, I think we get the gist of the need for PPE. In the end. It weighs next to nothing. Costs next to nothing. But it can and probably will address an immediate and deadly situation you will find in the EOTWAWKI

Item #2...Hot-Hands. Sure, my dad always bought me a case of them at Xmas. Hot-Hands have one single would seem. Keep your hands and feet warm. It sounds simplistic. But, 20 years of deer hunting has taught me one invaluable truth: The condition you keep your hands and feet in dictate your success. If your mind is constantly on how cold you are, you will not be 100%. Not only does being cold affect your attention span, but it affects your judgement. It's happened to me COUNTLESS times. I am on the tree stand. I get cold. I try to be tough, but eventually I give up. I move. The deer snort and run off and the hunt is over. Now imagine that you are hiding for your life. The last thing you need is to have your judgement impaired over something like cold feet. Spend the $2. Buy a case of them. They weigh next to noting and fit ANYWHERE.

They have secondary uses as well. While the pouch itself is a controlled chemical reaction, you can put the control into your own hands and create a fire, even in a semi-wet environment.

Item #3...Zip-Ties. It's obvious now, isn't it. Many of you probably have already added zip-ties to your bag along with duct tape. But zip-ties have an infinite use and are much easier and less bulky than a roll of tape.
I won't go into all of them...or even a lot of them. But here are a few you probably didn't think of.

1)Securing doors. Let's say you are running through a building trying to evade and escape. You go through a set of double doors with someone right on your heels. In the heat of the moment when you are on the run, you may not have time to search for a locking mechanism on a set of doors. Or it may be one that can be defeated easily. Maybe the assailant bashes the window of the door, reaches in and flicks the look. That's no good. Even 30 seconds of a head start will provide the range you need to escape. A set of heavy duty zip-ties will do the trick. Encircle the two door handles. Pull tight. Even if he has a cutting apparatus, he still has to fish it out. That's all the time you need.

2)Subduing an assailant. Yep. Let's say you got the drop on someone. Zip-ties are easy to handle and require no keys. A good set of zip-ties will prove to be too much for most anyone to break out of. Unlike a set of handcuffs, they obviously have more uses and aren't a dedicated piece of equipment in your pack.

3) Instant tourniquet. Need we say more? Don't need two hands to pull tight. You hope it never comes to it, but nothing can beat zip-ties for an instant tourniquet.

We can see the plethora of other uses for zip-ties for securing...whatever. I just wanted you to see 3 very real...very possible uses that you can use them for. Make them easy to get to. I loop mine through various pull strings and loops on my pack so they are right there anytime I may need them. Of course, I reverse them so they aren't permanently attached....not just because it would make them useless, but the last thing you want is to provide a way for an assailant to grab you. Carry various sizes. I have 3 sizes. The 8 inch length, 12 inch length, and 36 inch length. Each different length has increasing thickness.
SO, let's recap our very diverse and useful set of stocking stuffers.

The PPE list is a set of items that are very specific in their uses, though they can do other things, but commonly are overlooked. Not having them can be just as deadly as any other concerns that you put into your pack, yet probably not thought of.

The Hot-Hands are an item that again satisfies a very specific need, yet a .$50 extra may make all the difference in the world.

Zip-Ties are not thought of as fast as duct tape, in fact, are usually reference as "held together with duct tape and zip-ties". But I believe you should think of them first. A million and 1 uses and they weigh nothing and take up no space.

That's 3 freebies ( or near freebies)  for this week. I know it's a diverse set, and maybe even a bit random. But I made it diverse for a reason: To make you see the value in every day items and to make you think to yourself  "Do I have a little extra room? Will this make a difference?"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Choose your (hand to hand) weapon!

So, on my last post, I said that we would visit hand-to-hand combat the next week. Well, that was a few weeks ago.

Let's make it short and sweet. Just like the strike range we are talking about. Guns are great. They are effective and devastating.

They do have several severe drawbacks:
  • They are loud
  • They require ammunition
  • They jam and require maintenance and cleaning
  • They are loud
Let's examine some of these points:

They take ammunition. And ammunition is heavy. Like, it's lead. Take my new tactical vest (GASP! I haven't bragged on it yet!). That means you have approx 120 rounds of .223/5.56mm, 40 rounds of .45 and maybe another 40 rounds of .30-.06. That's not even that much ammo. 200 rounds, right? Well, it adds up. Quick. With all the magazines and cartridges, that's 15-20 pounds....not counting the weapons themselves!

I can hear you now: "That's ok. I can scavenge as I go." Well, sure. But, if you are popping off mags every few seconds, you are probably in quite the hurry. The last thing you want to be thinking about is, where do I find more ammo?

Guns require cleaning and maintenance. Sometimes they just jam, and it's usually at the wrong time. Heck, happens to me all the time just bird hunting! It's a potentially deadly problem. In the EOTWAWKI, you won't have a gun smith on hand to fix your problems when you are in a pinch. Nor will you have a gun shop to get an warranty exchange.

Yes, I realize that I posted "They are loud" twice. Why? Well, in the zombie apocalypse (and if you haven't figured this out by now, I realize that there is no such thing as it applies to ANY apocalypse), attractive attention to yourself is a BAD thing. The more you shoot, the more come after you. So you shoot more. You see where this is going? It's an exponential problem. In my world, we would call that a "higher order equation".

Sure, that's probably looking at the glass half empty. First thing that comes to mind is, if you are in a rural environment, a shot or two wouldn't be THAT bad. But in the case of suppressing firepower, even being in the great outdoors won't hide you forever.

Silencers are a way to get around this problem. But, silencers are expensive. Let's say I have 3 firearms that I would employ. That's AT LEAST $2,000 in silencers....not including threaded barrels and any gun smithing that you might need. Not to mention the raised eyebrows that the ATF might have if you call your folks over at Yankee Hill or Midwayusa ship you 3 silencers over a short period of time.

Ok, so lets say you are a big baller...which I am not...and you DO have silencers for all your weapons. Let's say you have one for your long range weapon, say a .30.-06, your assault rifle in .223/5.56mm and handgun in .45. Those weapons still only shoot as long as you have ammo for them.

OK OK OK. Lot's of problems with them, though we all admit that they are a superior choice. But, in the application of short a suburban environment? We have our noise under control, but operating room may become a concern. Your sidearm shouldn't be a problem, but your long guns require several feet of room to operate. If things get close quarters, you may not be able to bring your weapon to bear. Other than to club them with it. Now, if you have an old 1911 sidearm, that's not the end of the world. But with most precision firearms, bouncing it off of people's heads would probably void your warranty. And your ability to survive when it quits working. Or blows up in your face.

Another option is the old bow and arrow. It's a fantastic weapon that was the pinnacle of weaponry for 1,000 years. The ammunition is reusable. It's silent.  But, it too poses some serious consideration. Arrows DO break. And, if they don't break, they get dull.  You have a severely limited range. You have to retrieve them, which may not be particularly pleasant or smart. There is also some lethality concerns to it. It takes a LOT of practice to get good enough to make lethal shots with it. And, to be immediately lethal, we are talking about head shots. Then there is the problem with operating space. Sometimes, you may not have 3 feet to draw a bow.

Does that mean I am against it? Nope. Not at all. It CERTAINLY has it's place. But, it's severely limited. IF you are a good shot. IF you have a steady supply. IF you are dealing with short range, but not TOO close. Then, it's a solid choice. It's a terrific offensive weapon. But, if you are fighting for your life, then it's probably not your first choice.

So, we seem to have some trouble areas. Urban environments. Close quarters. Lots of baddies. You need something that is nearly silent, operates in close quarters, doesn't run out of ammunition. Capable of "one-and-done" blows. Something that I can wield as long as I can stand...and maybe beyond that. What are we talking about? Hand to hand weapons.

So, there are basically two types of hand to hand weapons with hybrids between them. We have blunt weapons and edged weapons.

Edged weapons are terrific tools of the trade. Nothing is more damaging than removing whole arms or legs. Or heads! But, while they have been used since the dawn of man, they present some interesting problems. They get dull. And when they get dull, they don't do the job as advertised, whether that is glancing blows that do no damage, or get stuck. And getting your weapon stuck in a zombie is a bad thing. Especially when you hank on the handle and pull a zombie into your lap. There are also some basic mechanics of materials problems (see, yall knew I would go all NASA engineer on you!) Basically, an edged weapon is thinnest at the blade. And for equal force exerted the smaller the area, the greater the pressure. The greater the pressure, the greater the stress. All that to say this: for a super sharp blade, you have a large possibility of cracking and destroying the blade on any hit. Any. The problem with the hack attack with edged weapons is, Zombies don't bleed to death, so other than cutting a head off, or just slowing them down, you aren't finishing the job. And, despite what the movies show you, hacking a head off is least that's been my experience with hunting.

For the sake of time, we won't venture down the rabbit hole any more than that. Fact is, I have a few blades in my back. But, they wouldn't be my last line of defense.

What would? A blunt object. Blunt objects are impervious to damage. They inflict massive trauma. And, like the edged weapons, they require no ammunition and no operating room. As long as you still live, you can swing it.

Now, as far as the world is concerned, that could be an object, ANY object  from the rock our ancestors first picked up to a modern day...whatever. But, as I thought about what blunt object I would use, I thought of efficiency first. I want something that maximizes the devastation, is impervious to damage, ergonomic to use and carry, and possibly has other uses.

I have a hatchet in my bag. Fantastic tool. It's sharp on one end and blunt on the other. It has TONS of uses. However, the moment exerted by my on my foe is small. A moment is force times distance. Since the hatchet is 8 inches, it doesn't exert much of a moment. Meaning that I would have to wield it mightily.

So, what about an axe? It's like a hatchet, but bigger! We see it in all the horror movies! It has tons of uses as well. But, it's heavy. An axe head weighs 8 pounds. That's a ton (not really a ton) of weight to swing around. But, if it has a 4 foot handle and weighs 8 pounds and I exert a rotation speed of see what I am saying. It's devastating. But again, it's heavy, and I already have a similar tool. Plus, a true axe has a fine blade. Which can have all the problems we have discussed already.

Police batons are terrific options. They fold up. They are light. They extend to long lengths. but again, without enough weight, it doesn't deliver the blows we need. In fact, a police baton is a weapon not even built to disable, but to discourage. That's not what we need.

I thought about a mallet or maul. It certainly has it's multi-tool use. It doesn't have the problems with the axe, as far as dulling. But, it still has some of it's problems, like weight.

So, we want something REAL blunt, and fairly long. Something that is light to carry but heavy enough to deliver deadly blows. Something that is ergonomic. Something that is tough. Something that could be used for multiple things. Something easy to store.

I tried and tried to think about something that had other uses that I could justify using. There just wasn't anything that I could think of that met all the criteria. But there was one that met almost all of them. While some of my ideas were just "ok" at most criteria and "great" in others, this one was perfect in all aspects. The simplicity of it was astounding. It is something that you all have in your house. It weighs in at 20-30oz. It's something everyone in america has used before.

The baseball bat. The PERFECT hand to hand zombie weapon.

Reminder! Eagle's Wings Benefit Tournament 10/20!

I wanted to make sure and remind everyone about the 4th Anual "Fishin' for a Mission" on October 20th on Holt Lake in Tuscaloosa Alabama.

A little about Eagle's Wings:

Eagles' Wings, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides day habilitation services for adults with mild, moderate and severe intellectual and physical disabilities, including those who are medically fragile.  We strive to provide a wide array of services to meet their spiritual, physical, emotional, social and vocational needs.  Our primary objective is centered on happiness for each individual in a respectful, secure, nurturing and structured environment which maximizes potential for independence, productivity and integration
with the surrounding community.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings
as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint."    Isaiah 40:31

For more information, check out their website:

or email:

It's been a fantastic tournament the last 2 years that I have fished it. This year, it's a change of venue.  Fishermen can launch from three different landings and will be allowed to lock through for fishing.  Dalton will have lock master times available for locking back through in time for weigh-in.

Don't forget about the pretournament dinner!

Some great deals this week

Thought I would share a few deals I ran across this week:
First off, Dick's Sporting Goods on University is doing half off selected Wright and McGill "Skeet Reese" rods. That's right. $49.00
Also, Bass Pro Shops Redhead Bone Dry Big Horn boots are half off. That's 800 grams of insulation, 9'' boot, for $60!

That's a HECK of a deal.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Softball+Soccer+CFB+Flag football+Fishing

I have always said that I would rather be busy than not. In fact, I am a firm believer that I am more efficient when I have a lot to do.

Plus, I have really found a new love for participating in sports. Not only do I love to play, I am a decent athlete, and it helps me stay in shape. Of course, as I get older, I have more aches and pains.

So, how far back do I go to start the weekend? Well, even though we had soccer practice Thursday night, where 8 8 and under girls run me to death, I doubt yall want to hear about that (though you prob don't care anyway, since it doesn't involve fishing, zombies, or both).

As a UAH graduate, I still qualify to play in their intramural sports. Now, when I was at UAH, intramural sports was something reserved mostly for the fraternities. As the school grows, the desire to participate in school sanctioned events increases. So, although I had played flag football for years, it's only been in the last few years that it was more than just a "eh, I don't have anything better to do". In fact, the last two years, we have had a decent team. We hold practices, etc.

Ok, I am getting a little ahead of myself. One of the recent developments is that they have added a softball league. It isn't big. In fact, there are only 2 co-ed teams. But, with the NASA league done for the year, and being a few months from a new Sportsplex season, it couldn't hurt to play. Especially when it's free! So, Alyse and I joined up.

I explained the the team captain that we were decent players, we played a lot, and we were dedicated. So, he was happy to have us.

Now, can you imagine the faces of these....well, I will call it like it Imagine their faces when we roll up and file out with 3 kids, a babysitter, and grandparents to watch. In fact, other than the UAH staff, we were the ONLY people to bring someone to the game.

Imagine our faces as we listened to the dugout conversations. Hey, I was there once...but man, was it an eye opener to gain an ensite into the lives of the modern freshman/sophomore.

Anyway, I led off with a double. Took a walk my next at bat, and flyed out my 3rd at bat. Alyse didn't do much better. But, we played well. No errors. Alyse played fairly great at 1st base. I didn't have a ball hit to me all night.

Before we knew it, the game was over. Ended in a 4-8 loss. Just like that, we were packing all the kids. Now, I found out there was also a men's league that plays after the co-ed. Since the same guys we played with also play that league, and since it is such a hassle to load up and get out there, I let them know I would play if they needed a player. The obliged.

Saturday morning, Aubree had a soccer game. This year has been very rough for me as a coach. I have spent considerable effort developing players. Not necessarily developing a winning team. Big difference. So, you can imagine how frustrating it is to get beat by teams who just want to win. Even at the cost of developing their players. Well, finally I started to see the light. My team played terrific, finally picking up the things we had really been preaching. Things like, don't bunch up, play on your side of the field, don't miss free kicks. We finally "won" (since you don't win in AYSO).

Fox picked up the Auburn game (gasp) against LA-Monroe. After watching them dismantle Arkansas, I had already conceded a loss. I really question OC Loeffler's play calling so far. There is never a reason to throw on 1st down. When you have a QB that has thrown more picks than completions, that should seal the deal. Despite doing everything they could to loose the game, AU came away with a win. So, Zach is happy. Sorta. Not really. So, after the game, I watched Tennessee (the Vols are back, yall!) prove that they are, in fact, not back. They were so terrible in the late stages of the game that THIS happened:

I improved to 10-2 in Fantasy football, including another 200+ point game. Whoot! Man, I love those boys from West Virginia(Stepman Bailey, Geno Smith, Tavon Austin) . My one loss this week came on the team where I started Matt Barkley, Silas Redd, and Robert Woods from USC, who fell apart against Stanford. Again. That's like 6 out of 8 years, folks. Jokers. The downside is that two of my favorite players have become utterly useless. Auburn's Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen. Seriously, the league has this to say about them:

Emory Blake: Quarterback Kiehl Frazier is really killing Emory Blake's fantasy value, to the point that he isn't worth owning outside of SEC-only leagues.

Lutzy: Quarterback Kiehl Frazier has Philip Lutzenkirchen's fantasy value tanked quite badly right now. He's probably not worth owning in any scenario.

Common denominator? Hmmm.

So, Sunday rolled around and we went to Church. Had a great lunch with my Church Family at the Madison COC.

And then....flag football time at UAH. Been looking forward to it forever, as had many of my friends. We have a core team of 6-7 guys, but you have to have more like 12-14 dependable guys. So, we picked up a few free agents. One in particular caught our eyes. Guy named Ethan. Looked like the QB we needed after losing our QB last year in the first game. I did my best last year, but at 5 foot 3, I am limited in seeing the receivers. Or the tops of the grass. Sigh.

So, for once, we have enough players to play a full offense and defense. Since we concentrate on D, I and my friend Nick, whom played football with me in HS, make up the defensive backfield and I call the plays for the O.

We went on defense first and forced a punt right off the bat. The O quickly went 3 and out as well. We worked the ball to midfield by calling some short plays. Finally, I spotted their corners stepping up closer to the line. Called the airstrike up. Outside receiver ran a deep post, slot ran a deep corner. Boom. 6 points.

The extra point failed. Right back on defense we went. Their drive stalled on a 3rd and 9, but they went for it. For some reason, our other safety had started birdogging their short routes. And there it went. Right over his head. The other team hadn't gained 5 yards all day and they put 6 points on us. The extra point failed. Tied ball game.

Our offense initially made a good drive on their end of the field, but with a costly sack, we faced 4th and a good chunk. But, being on their end, we went for it and didn't get it.

I already knew that my receiver was getting anxious. I had been baiting him for awhile...trying to jump his short routes. So, I looked back at Nick and let him know the bomb was coming. The receiver made a double move, I went with him, and here came the pass. It floated just a bit and I nabbed it. Up the sideline I went until I ran out of bounds on the 10 going in.

We had one play before half so we dialed up a misdirection. We ran everyone right and snuck Josh out of the center spot into the left flat. It worked perfect. But, though he is a quick guy, he isn't as quick as the guy that walled him off at the 1 yard line. Half time.

We came out on offense and orchestrated a flawless drive. Bang them short. Bang them short. QB draw. Bomb. TD.

We went for 2 and Ethan slid across the goal line. The ref was right on top of it and called it good. But the other ref...across the field and between 6 other dudes...waved it off! WAVED IT OFF! We couldn't believe it! He had NO ANGLE! But, what can you do.

Back on Defense with 6 minutes to go. They figured out that they couldn't beat us long so they started hitting draw plays and slants. We were stringing them out to 3rd and long and 4th and short, but they always seemed to make the play. No matter. When we got the goal line, it would get a lot harder on them. But, once again, our safety got caught bird dogging for a deep ball. Sigh. They went for the extra point and brought their tallest guy to my side. Before I could swap with someone taller, they snapped the ball, tossed it to the moon and told him to go get it. And he did. 13-12 with 1 minute to go.

Going again with body blows, we moved the ball up the field. At midfield, we dropped a costly open ball. 2nd down, hit our TE in the left flat for a good gain to set up a 3rd down. Called up the quick slants, but they jumped them. Our RB, Andre, came streaking across the middle but Ethan's pass was high and went off his fingers. 4th and too many. But, we did what we had to do and called up a deep crossing route.

Receiver came across the field, Ethan let a perfect ball fly. Nate, the receiver, got his hands on it, but the defense came over his back and knocked it away.

So, we took a loss. But what a HECK of a game!

To make the day go a little sweeter, I did what I had promised the kids I would do. I took them fishing at the Publix land trust. We fished for one hour and caught 10 fish. They were just a biting a weightless Yum Dinger!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Equipment Review for Bass Pro Shop Extreme Baitcaster

While on a trip to BPS a few months ago, I was looking for a high gear ratio reel to use on my frog rod. I want the ability to wrench a fish on top of the grass and keep him there. BPS Extreme Baitcaster comes in a 7.1:1 ratio.

I have to admit that I was concerned about high ratio gears and their relative strength. But, I figured it was worth the cash. BPS, at the time, was offering a rod and reel combo for something like $120 bucks. I did need a worming rod, but all they offered was a 6 foot 6 inch/baitcaster combo. But, the man working the reel counter happily set me up and told me he would fix any combo I wanted for the same price.

Anyway, I purchassed the combo, split them, and went about my buisness.

On the first trip out, I broke out the frog rod with the new reel on it. First hit I had, I set the hook and the drag wouldn't engage. The fish came off and I dejectedly reeled it in. I thought maybe I just didn't have the drag set right. Maybe I had it loosened all the way.

Nope. The friction disc was messed up and wouldn't engage at all.

I am sending it, my BPS Extreme spinning reel( you can read the review here:;postID=3757398467176246416)

So, one trip out and she was finished. Hopefully, I just have a bum reel and the next one will work. We shall see. But, until proven otherwise, I am 0 for 2 with the BPS Extreme stuff.

Equipment Review for Bass Pro Extreme spinning reel part 2

You may recall that I bought one of these earlier this year. I had not done really finesse fishing and needed to get up to speed on it. That's fairly hard to do when you don't own a spinning reel, so I bought one. I purchased it on January 31st 2012.

While my initial thoughts on it were that it was a terrific budget spinning reel, I have had to start rethinking that. Sometimes "budge" and "dependability/longevity" don't go well together. While it's true that this reel is great for entry level fishermen and/or those on a budget (who isn't, really), it would appear that it will not endure a lot of hard fishing.

I'd say that I have taken this reel out and used it in about 30 or so trips. It's caught a good number of fish. The rod and reel are both kept indoors when not in use and has been well taken care of.

However, about a month ago, I noticed that it wasn't acting as smooth as it had been. This weekend, it developed a severe binding issue in what I think is the gears.

Luckily, BPS has a 1-year warranty and it is going back to the shop for some work.

My other experience with the BPS Extreme series reels haven't been spectacular, either. That's in the next post.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Humphrey Lake Repairs Part 2

Some people have been very busy the last few weeks. Although I really want to lend a hand, somethings things happen so fast that you can't. Regarding lake repairs, it's a fluid schedule. Don't know how long it takes the lake to drain. Don't know how long it takes to dry. Don't know when so-and-so can be here with the backhoe/trackhoe.

So, when things do happen, and the stairs align, you gotta be ready to go. Having 3 kids and other responsibilities, that doesn't just happen for me. So, even though I wanted to be there to see the work get done, I wasn't.

But, I made sure to stay up to date on the work put in so far.

You may recall that over a month ago, dad and I had helped drain the lake down. Now, the intent isn't to drain it all the way, but just to where the valve is. There is no way that you will get ALL the water out, especially with a fresh stream always coming in. But you can open that valve and get it as low as you can. So, that's where we left off. The valve was opened for the first time in 40 something years and out went everything.

Recall, we didn't know where the leak(s) were. We had ideas. When the lake bottom was dry enough, the trackhoe was brought in. We had suspected that a rock ledge that ran parallel from the dock to the corner of the damn had developed a series of leaks. Looks like we were right about that. They did find a fair sized leak on that rock shelf.

Loads of clay were brought in and packed and several layers of plastic were put down for good measure.
As you can see, it doesn't take long for grass to really spring up! I guess all those years of fish poo will do that!

The next challenge has been the valve itself. It was never meant to be reclosed. So, that has taken a bit of ingenuity to figure out. After all, this is all being done on a tight budget and ordering a new valve isn't in the cards. So, as far as I know, the valve is closed and the lake will begin rise....that is...unless the valve doesn't seal. Or we didn't find the leak. Or the other potential problem we KNOW we have to address...the spill way.

At the far end of the dam is the spill way. You may recall that it has been repaired before. When water runs out, it takes with it essential dirt. Sometimes that dirt has concrete on top of it, and concrete doesn't do so well in tension. So, basically, the concrete has been washed out. In the past, it has been backfilled with concrete.

The problem is, no one wanted to spend money on something that wasn't the more immediate fix. What happens if we fixed the spillway and not the leak? Wasted money.

Well, eventually we will have to address it. No way around it. Hopefully soon.

Next habitat. The one thing this lake was lacking was offshore structure. What does that do? Well, it concentrates the fish on the edges of the lake. It makes a low fish density lake. This is something that I want to fix. How, you may ask. Well, that's for a future post!

Doublehead Resort/Wilson Lake Labor Day 2012

Years ago (I don't know when), my parents were invited to come visit our church friends while they stayed at Doublehead Resort on Lake Wilson. You can find their info here:

They decided that they wanted to make this an every year event as well, so they booked it last year. I didn't get to stay but one night, and while it rained the entire time, I certainly enjoyed the company and location. It was too bad that it rained because I didn't get to fish any and I really like Wilson. Always do well on that lake, which is funny, because it's the redheaded step child of the TVA lakes. But, honestly, it's the only lake I have fished on the chain where I have never struck out. In fact, most times, I catch a lot of fish. And, it's probably the EASIEST lake to catch a good mix of both smallies and large mouth.

This year, the family and I planned on going, especially since my sister and her husband would be coming as well. From the beginning, however, weather was a concern. With the aftermath of the hurricane moving up land, I was concerned that it was going to rain the whole time....again.

Friday rolled around and we packed the kids up. Doublehead is only about 1.5 hours from the house and, despite the rain, it wasn't a bad drive. Mom and dad were already there and my sister and brother in law would arrive late that night.

After unpacking, dad and I took my two oldest kids out on the boat for some fishing. Between their two poles flying around and the Gail force winds, it became a tedious affair. Besides, dad had to cook dinner, so he let me drop them off and go looking for the fish.

I broke out the map and consulted it. I had never fished this end of the lake (it's almost to the Wheeler/Wilson dam). Right off, I fished a secondary point where  Town Creek sweeps back towards doublehead. Nice 15 foot point with grass on it. The Hummingbird marked fish. I started shallow, flipping the scattered grass, but no takers. I pushed out a little deeper and didn't catch anything, though I have a feeling that the spot would be good. Yet, the wind was terrible. I needed to find something to shelter me, so I found a point at the entrance of Town Creek (where Doublehead is located) that featured a rock bank and a sweeping channel that ran parallel to it. So, I made the short run to that point. I cast across it with a variety of cranks. Started with the strike king series 3 in citrus shad. Pushed deeper with the Spro Little Jon DD.

Still no luck, and I wasn't really seeing and fish on the Hummingbird. Consulting the map again, I noticed a little slew, just a few hundred yards down lake from me that looked promising. Fired the old Johnson up and made the short run. The slew was deeper in length than I thought and had several boat houses on it. What I did like was the concrete retaining wall on the upriver side of the slew. Working it with the crank, I crossed the point, marking fish and chunk rock in 15-22 feet of water. For some reason, I didn't After working the upriver point, I proceeded to the other side. There were the remains of some concrete spans a few feet off the shore. I started out throwing a shakey head and started getting bites, but they were from bream. Swapping back to the Little Jon, I bagged a small fish. Thinking of my children, I tossed him in the livewell. They love nothing more than to watch a bass swim.

On the next cast, I was retrieving the lure and as it came up out of the gloomy water, a massive bucket head came after it! I hit the brakes and he slammed the lure. I had no more room to reel, so I tried to horse him aboard, but when he hit the boat, he shook the hooks out. It was a monster! But, he hit the boat, and house rules say that if it hits the boat, it counts!

About then, the call for dinner came, so I ran back to the cabin for a scrumptious dinner.

After dinner, my mom, wife, and older kids wanted to take a ride. Naturally, I obliged, and I wanted to show them where I had been fishing. So, I ran them to the spot. Naturally, I couldn't help but cast a line a few times. I bagged a short fish on the DD, then another keeper that shoot off at the boat. It didn't just shake off, but threw the hooks at my occupants, so, I decided to put that down and picked up the sissy stick.

Tossing the shakey head around those concrete spans, I was getting TONS of taps, but no fish. They wouldn't take off with it. So, on the next cast, I waited until I could see the line moving. Setting the hook, a little perch came FLYING at us. If it isn't hooks, it's fish!

But, it provided a little opportunity to show them how beautiful perch really are!

Looking up into the sky, i could see a big ole full moon. That explained the feeding of the perch, at least to me. They were feeding up so they could go into hiding all night to escape the gorging bass.

Of course, that was a bad thing for me, as I had a tournament the next morning on Wheeler (will post about that later).

So, I fished Wheeler with the club that Saturday. Watched my Auburn Tigers lose...Sigh....Slept in Sunday morning from shear exhaustion. Hung out with the family and church friends all day Sunday. But Monday and I got to get some fishing in.

We woke up early and I ran him to the spot I had been fishing. I started us a little upriver from where I had been fishing. I picked up my Lucky Craft Sammy

First cast, had a hit. Didn't hook up with him, though. Few casts later, cycle repeated. Meanwhile, dad was throwing a Rapala Rat-L-Trap....and slaying them with it! Of all things, a rattle bait was the LAST thing I expected to work. I didn't even bring any with me! He even managed to pick up a smallmouth with it. That bite didn't last long, but he did managed to catch something like 6-7. Giving up on the Sammy and the Crank, I went to the shakey head again...convinced that I should be able to catch something on it. Caught a few short bass, but nothing major. Then I caught this little guy:

Now THATS a small smallmouth! I finally did catch a few measuring fish, but before we knew it, it was time to start packing. So, we took the nicer fish to let the kids play with them.

After we packed up, Alyse and I deliberated on if we were going to take the boat to her aunts lake house, down on Shoals Creek. Of course, I was ALL for it, as long as I got to fish. But she didn't want to be out late which meant a late afternoon fishing trip wasn't going to happen. We compromised and decided that we would take the boat and leave around 7. However, the boat was on empty, which meant I had to put more gas in it...sigh....but I did it anyway.

While everyone swam and jet ski'd, I cast a line where I had caught a NICE spot a few trips back. But, my BPS spinning reel seemed to be having problems...seizing up....and after awhile, it gave up the ghost! Ugg...if I don't loose it, I break it. Looks like BPS will be getting TWO reels in the mail!

Later in the afternoon, our family members flipped a jet ski and I retrieved it in the boat since it wouldn't restart. After thinking about it, I noticed that we were out of gas. Already. There wouldn't be much fishing going on! Man...where did that 6 gallons go? I know this boat isn't good on gas...but dang!

Late in the afternoon, Alyse and her sister Hannah wanted to go out on the boat and fish. Packing along Griffin, we headed to some of my spots. First spot we hit was one of my favorites. A point where Shoals creek bends back to Brush creek, complete with a grass lined point. Initially, it was rough going. No bites. But, we started seeing schoolers busting. After I caught a few (including a drum) on the series 3, I handed it off to Alyse, who then caught her first crankbait fish!

She backed that up with this guy
She even caught a few more! I was VERY happy about that. Sadly, I couldn't catch any and neither could Hannah. When the schooling died down, we headed towards my magic spot.

As we pulled up, I could already see bait balls everywhere. So many that I managed to catch this guy!

Finally got on top of the spot and went to town on them with the Little Jon DD. The Little Jon DD is probably the only crank that works on this spot because it will reach down to that set of rocks in 18 feet of water. Not only that, but it gets there quick enough that I can keep the bait in the strike zone longer.  Let me tell you, you really have to work to get that thing where it needs to go. I would wrench on that thing, kneeling and reeling, until it hit the chunk rock. You didn't always find it, but when you did...they would kill it. First one I hooked into went to the surface and jumped 3 feet in the air, throwing the lure. It was picture perfect! I didn't mind loosing him to see that happen! Few casts later, caught this guy

Not a monster, but a SOLID Lake Wilson fish! Few more stragglers and it was time to head in.

Here are a few more pictures of the weekend, since it isn't all about fishing!