Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Surprise Hamburgers..Teach your Kid to Love to Eat and Make BBQ!

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***UPDATE***
Some of the guys and gals from bass boat central have tried this out! They LOVE it!

Like all things in life, kids learn what they like to do at an early age. There are a few (ok, I remember a lot) things from my childhood that really stand out. I was REALLY REALLY fortunate to spend a lot of time with various family members. Each family member  that I spent time with has their own "thing", which is what I blame for my broad range of hobbies. In this case, lets talk about where I got my love to BBQ...and how you can start your kids down the same path. Of all hobbies they have, this sure is a good one!

Every few years, my aunt (my mom's sister) would take me down to stay with her in Birmingham. She took this visit seriously and would plan all kinds of awesome things, from running a 1 mile Fun Run, to climbing up The Vulcan (google it). But, each night, dinner was an adventure. My Aunt Ann loves to cook. She is very eclectic in this area. But there is one meal that we always cooked that fostered a love for BBQ at a very early age.

It's called Surprise Hamburgers.

It's a simple thing, really, and I don't mean to try to pass it off as something new or unique. However, it will get your kids in the kitchen and outside to learn and enjoy the wonders of good BBQ.

What are surprise hamburgers? Well, we would take turns making each other's hamburgers, specifically, deciding what  toppings to use. I would make hers and she would make mine. Why is that fun? How did we do it? Well, I will tell you.

  • Patty out your ground beef into 6 inch diameter burgers. Get them as thin as you can. You will need 2 per burger
  • Season with just a few dashes of Worcestershire and Lowry's. Rub it in good and don't let it puddle
  • Decide on what kind of toppings you would like for you hamburger. I would suggest mushrooms, cheese, onions, and bacon.
  • Chop these toppings up very fine so that you can have a high density of toppings.
  • Lay these on the center of one of the pattys. Now, less is more. If you have too much, you won't be able to pull this off
  • Lay the second patty on top and gently seal the edges
  • When you move these assembled, use a large spatula...maybe even two. They will be heavy and unable to support their own weight.
  • Make sure the grill has plenty of non-stick spray
  • Only flip these burgers once, otherwise they might fall apart
  • When removing, utilize the same large spatula or two

Again, the trick is to have fun with it. Like I said earlier, we would take turns putting toppings in for each other while keeping it a secret. It's just as much fun to put your own toppings in...esp if you don't like certain toppings or don't trust your co-BBQ'er. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

NATA Open on Guntersville 2/23/13

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Check out the video here! Or you can find it on YouTube! video


It's the first "Big" tournament of the year, as far I as I am concerned. The guys from NATA run a great Open tournament that I have fished the last two years: 2011 and 2012. Now, if you don't recall my history with this tournament, take a second to brush up. Just click the links and read away.

Josh and I managed to prefish the Friday before, but the going was tough. We caught a few dinks here and there, but it was slow. In retrospect, we didn't really cover a lot of water. We stayed on the upper end of the lake throwing a large mixture of baits. The best producer was the XCalibur XR50 in foxy chartreuse.

We headed back to Goosepond, fairly dejected. Yet, everyone we had talked to said the day had been very tough. Yet, as I went inside to talk to the operators of the Bait Tackle and Gill and Goosepond, they told me to check out a fish that some guys had the in parking lot. Josh and I assumed that Jamie, the operator, was being facetious. But, when this Yankee (Joking) from New York reached in the livewell, our world was rocked.

When we asked if that was all he caught, he and his partner went on to tell us about the dream trip that they had, catching 2 over 6, 1 8 pounder, and this toad (12.14!)...plus other assorted fish. We just scratched our heads. How did these 2 dudes...from 18 hours away, come down here and do something we could ever do. Well, we asked. He said they had started out Thursday and had a very slow day. But, they received some good info...and that's all it took. That, and chunking a rattlebait all day instead of swapping off every 5 minutes.

So, that became Josh and I's gameplan. But, we had other things to consider. We were one of the first boats, so we had our choice of spots. With the BFL coming out of State Park, all the other tournaments, we better choose right and sit on a good spot. So, we decided to run up river an sit on a place that we knew held fish year 'round. We would chunk rattlebaits all day. All we needed was for the sun to come out on this spot, which featured scattered grass, pad stalks, and hard bottom. But, we knew from experience that the fish on this spot were lethargic unless the sun was out.

So, we made the run. We were the first boat there. In fact, we both noticed that not another soul came up river. We both scratched our heads, but went on about our day.

It took about 15 minutes for things to get started. I was yo-yoing a XR50, let it fall, and a nice fish loaded up. Swung him aboard and we had a nice 4 pounder to start. A few minutes later, caught a dink. (I HAD these on camera, but apparently there was a user error on my part and I deleted the file to make room).

That was it. The sun didn't come up. In fact, it became darker and colder. But, we decided to hold out, thinking that they would eventually come on when the sun came up. But, at 12pm, we had to fall back and punt. We ran to the back of Goosepond and had immediate success. We boated keepers on back to back casts. But the hole we were fishing didn't produce any more. We moved to a different pocket with similar attributes and again boated fish back to back. But the size just wasn't there. We had several 4 pounders, but we knew that with NATA only paying out 4 places, to get a check we needed 20+. Now, we thought it would be tough on most people, and indeed it was. We tried and tried to catch big fish, but they were all small. Calling it quits a few minutes early, I watched the scales to see if we needed to bother. Not nearly as many boats weighed in as you would think. But those that did had MONSTER sacks. It took 36 pounds. 36 POUNDS! To win. It took (from what I understand) 27 to get the last check, though it took 35 to get both the 2nd and 3rd place checks. WOW! Can you imagine catching 35 and not winning! I can't!

It' amazing to me that the NATA tournament was 10 pounds heavier than the BFL to win. Scary. I guess we should have fished the BFL!

Anyway, it wasn't a great day, but we caught fish and we learned MORE lessons. It seems we never quite get it, does it? On this date, we learned what we should have known already.
  1. Burn water until you find quality fish.
  2. Don't sit on areas that haven't produced.
  3. And just because you have caught fish in a place in the past, doesn't mean it's going to be on.
  4. Never trust your day to an Alabama weatherman

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Don't forget! SNUFISH is Closing In!



Hey all! It's hard to believe that I started plugging this even way back in November....and it's almost here!
For a reminder, here is the original post.

Tournament Basics
The tournament will be held on March 16, 2013 at Lake Guntersville State Park. It will be a Catch and Release style tournament, consisting of two angler teams with an option for a third angler ($25 fee). The tournament will be adhering to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which can be found at www.outdooralabama.com. When the form has been submitted you will be emailed a copy of the official tournament rules and regulations. Must be a licensed, insured angler with the State of Alabama.
Jared, the man in charge, has expanded to more social media, so you can now find the event on Facebook.

The registration can be found here.
The rules and regulations can be found here.

For more information:
email: sigmanu@uah.edu
phone: 256-443-9663

Don't forget, this is a unique tournament for many reason. First, it benefits The American Heart Association.
Secondly, it's cheaper than most benefit tournaments, at $50 a team.
But, my favorite....you can add a 3rd Team member! So, whether you want a 3rd to win, or maybe just want to bring your kids, you can hook that up!

Don't forget to get you a T-Shirt (that's my favorite part!).

I will be supporting for both my blog AND for PowerTeam Lures, who will be giving away FREE $10 gift cards for the first 25 Pre-Registered boats!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Presidents Day Weekend 2013

Well, I was able to fish Friday, and while I didn't do much good, it was still nice to be out on the water. But, I knew that I was in for a LOOONNGGGG weekend.

My wife, my friends, and even many of my followers (especially via my Facebook page) have all expressed interest in me writing about more than just fishing and survival. Which is why I changed the name to Best 5 Zach Outdoors. I encourage you to join, as it has lots and will have lots of Outdoorsy things for everyone.

Anyway, where to start? Friday night, dad and I came home to find that a dinner had been planned for my family of 5, mom and dad, aunt, and my grandparents. Sometimes I probably take things for granted, but I want to express how awesome it is to be able to have spent, and continue to spend, so much time with my parents and my grandparents. I've probably said so, but much of my youth was spent with my grandfather, whether it was hunting, fishing, camping, gardening,....anything outdoors. While I doubt my kids will get that kind of experience with him, since he is in his 80s, it's still great for them to spend time together.

So, dinner was...well...an adventure. Anytime you try to have a quasi-formal dinner with 3 kids, things get interesting. Plus, it wasn't scheduled, so dinner was a cornucopia of food from beef stew, to Japanese noodles, to winter greens. But, we wouldn't have it any other way. The kids played with great grandparents, great aunts, grandparents, one chocolate lab and 9 chickens. Good time was had by all.

Saturday was another long day for us. If you didn't know, I had been borrowing a GoPro to do my fishing videos. But, the owner has moved to Florida, taking his GoPro with him. I decided that first thing Saturday, we would go shopping for one. So, we all loaded up and headed to Best Buy. Despite getting the cheapest one, the Hero3 White,  I was still out $347.

Aubree had been complaining of not having new books, so we headed to The Book Shelf to buy some new books. Alas, she didn't find any new books....but I did :-)

From there, we ran the kids to a free hockey clinic. Neither of them play hockey, but Griffin will never be a football monster, just like me. Turns out, you can have all the speed, hands, fundamentals, and desire in the world...but if you are 5'4'' 140 pounds...you ain't playing college ball. Well, that's not fair. I could have played, but I chose not to play at smaller schools. Hockey, however...is a different matter all together. Josh is a great hockey player and he and Emily have encouraged us to look into it. So we did! While we were at it, we let Aubree take a crack!


Aubree had softball tryouts next. Well, technically  I had softball tryouts, since am the coach. It was in the 30s. Snow was blowing. And 20 something 8 year old girls were trying to do their best despite not really knowing what try outs were. I, on the other hand, was trying to write notes on each and every girl. It was so cold, the pen wouldn't write. Seriously.

After thawing out, it was time to celebrate Griffin's (our middle kid) 4th birthday! We had a banquet room reserved at Lone Star Steak House. What a great experience. Great service, great food! I am so happy to have had all the grandparents, great grandparents, and 2 Great Grandparents! Here is my Great Grandfather with my youngest, Gavin.

I put the GoPro to good use and took a LOT of still shots and videos! Check them out here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47DawL4hJxU
I am so proud of him. He was such a booger before he was born, requiring a LOT of hospital time. You would never know it now! And, he was so appreciative of everyone's love and gifts!

When we got home, he pulled out one of his toys, a remote control car...took the camera...and told me to put it together. I hadn't ever thought of it...but it sounded like a great idea!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-rtjXTJiPM

Well, that was all fun. This is where the trouble began. Sunday morning, as we were all piling in to head to church, I noticed a small puddle under the Yukon. Didn't think much of it. I haven't had ANY problems with it. But, after church....there was a much larger puddle. Of coolant. Great. So, after church, we had to do our softball draft. That didn't take long, so I used the remainder of the day to track down this problem.

Having seen this problem on several previous GM products, I tried the $12 fix, which was a new set of water pump gaskets. An hour later. Still leaking. With further inspection, the housing itself was leaking. Which meant a whole new water pump. Luckily, one of my best good friends, Kevin..who was a roommate in college, and still very close to, manages the local O'Reilly's. So, he hooked me up on the parts. If you live in the Harvest/Monrovia/Madison area...look him up. He's the man. He had all the parts in stock. I didn't have to wait. And the prices were great!

After 3 trips to the store, fighting daylight, I managed to get it back together, but not in time to check it. Which meant that, though the kids had school and my wife and I did not due to Presidents Day...we wouldn't be able to slip out for some fishing on our own. I guess we could have chanced it, but I didn't feel it was worth it.

So, Monday morning, instead of taking off for the lake, I was back under the car. While I was under there, I did a plethora of work including oil filter, plugs and wires, and a front brake swap. After fighting, scratching, and clawing (wait, that's not right...the car was doing all the damage), I was able to call it "done." But the day was essentially gone.

With the little bit of daylight left, I was able to at least do some cleaning and organizing in my garage.

The fun didn't stop there! Although yesterday was a weekday, it was my wife and I's 8th anniversary! But, she was throwing up sick all day. Sigh. I did the best I could for her, but it seemed like a waster anniversary to me. I couldn't give her the one thing she REALLY wanted...health.

But, I got this on video to cheer her up!



What a weekend! I KNOW I am missing a lot of our weekend. But, those are the high points. Just another weekend in the land of Best5Zach Outdoors!

Fishing Report for Guntersville 2/15/13

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Many of you may recall that my dad is a big deer hunter. Huge, in fact. In the last few years, deer prepping has replaced fishing as his "off season" hobby. And while it's taken a direct hit on how often we go fishing together, the results are hard to refute. As little effort as I put into hunting, his effort yields results for me!
So, when he expressed an interest in going fishing, I hoped that I could put him on the fish as well as he had put me on the deer.

We put in at Mink Creek. I wanted to test the causeways for big fish, since I have NATA Open coming up, and Mink has a small causeway right there. Plus, I knew of several good flats right next to the ramp that we could throw lipless cranks on.

The area had received a good bit of raid the night previous and the water was very stained. The wind was high. I guess I should have tempered my expectations right then.

I trolled back and forth in front of the causeway, ranging out from just a few feet to 10 yards, looking for baitfish. Alas, I really never found any bait fish on the causeway itself. After 30 minutes of pointless casting, I pulled up and ran us into Mink creek. I started fishing a point in 15 feet, slowly moving up to the grassline. Again, not much of anything to report. I swapped between a Lucky Craft deep diving crank, to a jerkbait, to the lipless crank...not that you care what I didn't catch fish with.

Dad did take this nice pic of me, though!

I gave up on this quickly as well and ran up river to North Sauty where I had fished just days before with great success. Yet, those areas that were packed with baitfish just 4 days ago didn't really have anything on them. I would find a small group of baitfish every once in awhile, and it might have 1 or 2 sportfish on it. I fished a hump that Jon and I had fished and caught a good mix of fish on. Depth finder reported fish on the hump, but they weren't interested in fast moving baits. I tried to slow down with a jig, but the wind prevented any real feel. I swapped to a leadhead swimbait and crawled it along. I did finally get a good bite, but I broke it off. I guess the slow day had pent up frustrations and the 10 pound Segaur wouldn't put up with it. Sucks, because on days like this...you have to make every bite count. If you do, good things happen.

Again, surprised that I couldn't locate bait, we pulled up and ran to South Sauty, where all the crappie and baitfish you could ever want usually hang out. I had told dad that if we couldn't catch bass, I KNEW we could get on some crappie, stripe, white, or other at the causeway.

After going under the causeway, I was amazed at the number of boats fishing. There must have been 6-8 boats fishing up and down the causeway. Wow! I guess it's that time of year! And why not. That's a great community hole, if you are comfortable fishing it.

Yet, besides the fish right under the causeway, where all the crappie fishermen were hanging out, we couldn't really find anything. Determined, I pushed the boat further and further out. After pushing almost 50 yards off the causeway, I came across the first bait ball that had arches on it. I knew it was probably stripe. So, I relocated them, told dad to throw directly behind the boat with the Yum Yumbrella Bama rig and he almost immediately hung a good stripe. That was his first Bama rig fish. No. Really!
I relocated the group of fish and started throwing a Strike King 6XD in Powder Blue Back and hung my own, which was almost a twin!

While catching these fish, I located an area way off the causeway that looked like it held bass. Threw the old leadhead out and....again....broke one off. Very frustrating! Guess it's time for a respool!

After awhile, we gave up trying to stay on top of the fish. The wind was brutal and already taking it's toll on the batteries. I decided that I wanted to relocated and fish somewhere out of the wind.

I ran down river to a main channel ledge with docks on it, which I have been fishing the last few years. While I know I shouldn't complain, this spot ALWAYS gives me fish, but I admit that I don't think I have EVER caught a measuring fish off of it. It's weird really. It's automatic. But, hey, short fish is better than no fish. So, I started throwing the old XCalibur XR75 in Rayburn Red.

It took a while, but as I was ticking it off grass, letting it flutter, one slammed it. Finally. A bass! HE wasn't worth taking a picture of, but he was one of those 14.75 inchers. Few minutes later, bagged another clone.

While I bet we could have kept throwing and throwing, maybe picking up fish, I decided...again...to move to better water.

Ran over to Churchhouse to one of my favorite spots. It's a nice set of islands with a saddle between them that runs about 7 feet. To be honest, it was here that I finally noticed something. The water was down. 2 feet or so. I had never seen that on Guntersville! Usually TVA would NEVER drop the water level on Guntersville. But, it explained a lot. Anyway, fished some more. No dice.

Ran down to another spot just down river, again, another of those areas we always caught fish. Nothing.

Deciding that between the muddy and cold water, the water level, and the high wind...we had enough and called it a day. Not a spectacular day, but we didn't get skunked, which is much better than pretty much everyone we talked to. And, since there were boats ever 3 feet on South Sauty, we were able to hear from a lot of them. Out of the 15 boats we talked to, I only saw 1 catch 2 dinks. 1 did catch 2 really nice fish.

So, the GRAND total....2 nice stripe. 2 dinks. And two break offs on a Reaction Innovation Skinny Dipper


But, hey, it was about spending time with my dad and that's more important than a number!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mystery Tackle Box Review for February 2013

Hey everyone! The coveted day that all Mystery Tackle Box subscribers wait for came YESTERDAY! I couldn't wait to tear into it! Unfortunately, I wasn't the first!


This go around, I did a video review. You can click the link here, or see it here:


This month featured the following baits:



Stanley Bull Ribbit
Backwater Tackle 7" Worm
Rage Tail Shell Cracker



And Flippin' the Bird

This kit looked like it was made for deep summer/early fall on Guntersville Lake! 2 fflipping/C-rig baits, and 2 frog baits. Kinda makes me wish it was that time....but then I would have to miss spring time, and I am having such a good time...

Anyway, the Ribbits are a fairly common bait to me. A terrific bait, really. It makes great surface noise and it doesn't get heat treated like many other soft plastic frogs, which makes it loose it's flappin' ability. Yet, those same legs are pulled off easily. But, you know, you can't complain if you are getting bites!

The Rage Tail Shell Crackers are a competitor to the Big Bite Baits Warmouth. I haven't tried either baits, but I have wanted to. I don't know if I will flip with it, but I will try it on the C-rig for sure. It comes smell impregnated with coffee scent. It's noticeable.

The Backwater Tackle is a 7" worm, which is goo because it fits a niche between the common 6" and 8" magnums. The head shape gives it a realistic feel. And BOY do they smell!

The Flippin' the Bird bait is a play on the common hollow belly frog, but with subtle differences. It doesn't have a traditional weight under the belly, it has hook slots to prevent hang ups, it has a lot more detail than some frog baits, plus a lot more silicon skirt.

Over all, a GREAT box, as usual!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review for "Debatable Space"



I don't know how, but the title for this book was stuck in my head. Someone or somewhere told me that this was a must read. Well, I was at The Book Shelf a few months ago and, lo and behold, there it was. Since it was in my head that I had to buy it....I bought it. It sat on the shelf while I read some other books, and when I was told that I needed to go to Utah for business, I found the perfect opportunity to read it.

If you are a penny pinching person such as I, you buy used books, either locally or on Amazon. The Amazon link is found here.

Here is a synopsis:

Flanagan (who is, for want of a better word, a pirate) has a plan. It seems relatively simple: kidnap Lena, the Cheo's daughter, demand a vast ransom for her safe return, sit back and wait.

Only the Cheo, despotic ruler of the known universe, isn't playing ball. Flanagan and his crew have seen this before, of course, but since they've learned a few tricks from the bad old days and since they know something about Lena that should make the plan foolproof, the Cheo's defiance is a major setback. It is a situation that calls for extreme measures.

Luckily, Flanagan has considerable experience in this area . . .
 
 
What I like about This Book: It swaps between the characters point of view. And while it doesn't leave to mystery what each is thinking, it gives a closer look into the different members of the cast. The action is none stop, very graphic, and there is an incredible amount of "back story" that you are fed in pieces. The writing style is VERY stream of consciousness, which is fairly rare, yet is the style that I myself like to use. The author, and the characters, have a sense of humor. The plot twists and turns in so many directions that it is hard to follow and the end is surprising. There is a LITTLE bit of actual science used in this science fiction. Each of the cast is wildly different, but complementary.The plot itself does hint quite heavily at what we currently experience in such a decadent time in history and where we could be headed in the future.
 
What I Dislike about This Book: While I appreciate plot twists and turns, the norm for media today is a shock factor, as if surprising you is more important than making the plot cohesive. That's definitely the case in the book. We think we understand why and how something is happening, then it doesn't. The plot, even in the end, seems incredibly random and far fetched. I had trouble picking the book back up and remembering what had happened previously. Yet, some things are totally predictable, like the relationship developed between Lena and Flanagan. The more we are let into the plot of the book, the more the plot seems entirely thin. Even in the conclusion, the killing of the bad guy is so unbelievable, it makes you question why you read the book to begin with.
 
My Overall Thoughts: What started out as a very unique writing style and prose, diverse and complimentary characters, and believable plot sprinkled with science slowly unraveled. To me, as the plot moved forward, it seemed that the writer was ready to end the book at least a dozen times, but decided to write in a miracle that allowed the crew to continue. I mean, for example, how we talked up Alby and his super race as being noncommittal to swaying the universe, yet he intervenes at least twice in the book. Or, being ejected out of space ships that are blowing up around them and managing to all live. Just about everything from the middle of the book on was unbelievable, in any stretch. Or how the pirates manage to have the universes smartest 10 year old who comes up with super weapons on the fly that the rest of the universe has never dreamt of.
 
I admit, however, that I read this book over the course of 3 days, and it isn't a small book. It definitely entertained me, yet I can't help but find the irony that much of the plot circulated around the mind-numbing and entertainment driven over-privileged people of the book's world and the fact that the book itself read EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
 
While I won't rape the book as bad as the reviews of Amazon have, I do have to say that it's a 2.5 Star book.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fishing Report for Guntersville 2/11/13

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First off...let me tell you how disappointed I am that I will not be able to put a video for this report. It sure deserved it...and I had videos...but because of a series of zach-isms....I only have 1 thing of footage. Cause number 1: I was borrowing the GoPro and I had to return it. Number 2: I haven't bought my own GoPro because I am broke. Number 3: I cracked the screen on my Flip video, so while we thought we were videoing our 5+ pound catches, we weren't. We only videoed ourselves putting the Flip back up.

No worries. I have the one video. It's a humorous and entertaining 30 seconds, but it doesn't have anything to do with the 20+ pound sack that Jon and I put up today. Le Sigh.

But, we did without videos for 3 years. So, life will go on.

I was itching to get back on Guntersville after last weeks adventures with Jim. Ironic since I have had such atrocious luck on Guntersville over the last year. I guess fishermen have to possess short memories. According to my wife...I do possess one of said short memories.

I had a good bit of comp time to burn after my last work trip. Jon is going to be going on a lengthy travel trip next week, so he wanted to get a trip in while he could. The weather was going to be.....not terrible. According to the weathermen.....

Anyway. Jon hadn't gone out of Goose Pond. Since I really like the area, I convinced him to meet me there. We were on the water by 730 and headed toward the North Sauty causeway. I wanted to show him some areas before the causeway that I had luck with. Specifically, big chunk rocks next to the creek channel. We found them and made a few casts on the submerged rocks. No luck. The wind blew us off of the rocks and we immediately came across a TON of bait with game fish of some sort on them. Well, if you have read the last posts, I put the new Zach Fishing Plan into effect. I picked up the spoon and started casting it around. Within a few casts, I had bagged 2 shad and NICE crappie.
We drifted over the ball of bait and Jon noticed an interesting area on the sidescan. Essentially, it was a slight contour change, rocks on the end of it, with 4-5 larger fish sitting on the bottom. He threw his spinnerbait out, let it fall to the bottom, drug it over the contour change, bumped the rocks, and something slammed it. Judging by the previous fish I had just caught, I assumed that it was a stripe, given the depth and the location in the creek channel. (I did video this anyway, alas the footage was lost...and it's too bad, because I was genuinely surprised to see the 4.5lb greenback).

Without finding much luck afterwards, we decided to fish out the rest of the pocket with lipless cranks. No dice.

Well, after the luck I had last week down in South Sauty, we packed up and made the run. Now, until this point, the weather had been bearable. But once we started running...WHEW! Boy, was it cold! I suddenly wished I hadn't left my coveralls in Jim's boat. But I survived.

We pulled up on the causeway, and low and behold, there wasn't a line to fish it! Aside from a few crappie fishermen and 1 bass boat, we were alone and had our pick.

Now, just a few days ago, that wasn't the case. Josh was out crappie fishing with his Grandad and watched Jim fish the BFL. Josh said there was a boat every 20 yards on both sides, front and back of the causeway. I guess that's to be expected. It's the stereotypical "Load the Boat with Bama Rigs during the Pre-Spawn Staging area". We idled around looking for the fish. They weren't where the had been. But we started seeing a lot of baitfish with sport fish on top of them further down the causeway.

I wanted to cover a lot of water quickly, so I was throwing a Strike Kind 6XD in Chartreuse Sexy Shad on a Duckett Cranking stick.

Man, I love this bait. It runs true out of the package and is easy to crank. And, that rod is so sensitive, you can tell exactly what kind of cover you are hitting. It took a while, but after a good many casts, a few retrieves with the Jewl Bait Hound, I hung into one. (again, I had some KILLER FOOTAGE! ARGH!). I didn't bother with pictures of this nice 5.5lb fish, since I THOUGHT I had it on video. But it was a NICE fish.

A few minutes later, I hung into another fish. I knew it was a stripe. You can always tell. I swung him aboard, knocked him off, and went back to casting. Or so I thought. Apparently, I had wrapped the line around the tip. And to the moon the bait went. We never found it. $7.29 down the drain.

Without having anymore luck, we moved to the other side of the causeway. The bait was plentiful, but the contour was...not right. You know, the kind that you don't get excited about. But, as we trolled around, we found a slight depression that dropped from 12-15 feet, and we found the bait in that 3 foot hole. Next to the hole,  like in North Sauty, was 4-5 larger fish. Jon made a cast to the spot, let it fall down to the bottom, and WHAM! Big 'un. Nice 5 pounder.

Again, it got slow, so we ran to a few spots Jon knew about in the back of South Sauty. We tossed around lipless cranks. We threw square bills. But eventually we gave up. Back to where we had success.

As we pulled back up to the causeway, we noticed this guy yanking out stripe after stripe. He was sitting about 100 yards off the causeway. I told Jon that I would rather catch stripe or white than catch nothing at all. So I tied the spoon back on and started chunking it. We didn't invade his spot and instead found our own bunch of suspended fish. But they wouldn't touch it. Surprising, because it seems only bass can say no to the spoon. Turned out, that was the case. I started chunking a Reaction Innovation Skinny dipper in Bad Shad

It didn't take long before I was nearly yanked in the water. Considering the location we weer in, with the stripe in the area, I just assumed I had gotten bit by one of those big ole stripe. Even the fight was serious. But, much to my surprise, I lipped in this chunk of a 5.5 pounder. (again, had a great video)


And, to top the day off, I ended on catching this:


Well, anyway, it was a slow day. But you know what they say about fishing this time of year: you won't get many bites, but when you do, they will be PIGS! That was deffinitely the case today. Despite the lack of bites, we still put up 20+ pounds! I'm not complaining. I went a whole year without catching a 5 pounder and now I have 4 in 2 trips. Sure, that's not going to set the world on fire, but it's fine by me. I never claimed to be any good, but I do try to improve. With the help of some good fishermen, I am progressing!



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fishing Report for Guntersville 2/5/13

Men get a bad rap for not asking directions when they are lost.
Engineers get a bad rap for not following instructions.

Since I am a male engineer from NASA, that would just about make the worst kind of leaner. Yet even I, in all my stubbornness can only take so much before I break down and ask for directions and follow the instructions I am given. In this case, I think we all know what I am talking about.

If you don't, let me lay it out for you with the dime tour. Guntersville has been a harsh mistress to me in the last year. I have had some OK days in the size department. I have had some OK days in the numbers department, but the fact is, that I haven't caught more than 5 fish in any one day nor had I caught a 5 pounder in the last year. That's unheard of for one of the most prolific "big fish" lakes. And for a guy that prides himself on being a "big bass" fishermen, it was painful. To the point that I refused to fish Guntersville.

That's where Jim has come to the rescue. You may recall my last post where I talked about Jim, so I won't go into all the history, but essentially, Jim has spent a lot of time on the Big G in the last few years. Like, 300 days a year.

He is trying to secure his reputation as a big stick on the G by using my blog, and I am using him to get me back on the right track. Now, don't take that the wrong way. We were good acquaintances before either of us decided to do this.

We have been out 3 times and caught fish all 3 times, but the going has been rough. Despite that, I have learned something each trip.

So, on this particular day, we met up with his friend Dusty, a 17 year old local who can flat out catch them. It was a perfect opportunity for me to have two good fishermen to video, learn, and maybe catch a few myself. I admit, thought, that we hadn't caught a lot the last few trips, so I didn't get my hopes up.

We put in at Goose Pond and visited with The Bait, Tackle, and Grill at Goose Pond. We were really looking forward to trying out Jim's care package from Spro, his sponsor, specifically the Aruku Shad.

As well as trying out the new Duckett Rods "White Ice", whom is also a new sponsor for Jim.

Here is Dusty and Jim reppin' the new Duckett gear!



We started out in North Sauty, hitting the backs of creeks real shallow with the lipless cranks. I decided that I would throw something a little slower moving, as both the other guys were throwing the same thing. I was throwing a Booyah jig in half ounce in blue/black with a Stanley Itzabug trailer. Ironically, I was using this combo because the Itzabug came in this months Mystery Tackle Box

.

I spent most of my time fiddling with the Go Pro, trying to get the angle right, watching how much memory was being used, etc. And in the mean time, I would make a cast or two with the jig. Now, as yall know, I am trying to use jigs more. I have had success on all the other lakes I fish, but not Guntersville. Well, that streak came to an end as one THUMPED the jig. I slammed the rod and brought in a nice 4 pounder. Without any more luck in North Sauty, we packed up and made a run to Preston Island. There, each of the boys bagged nice 4 pound toads on the Spro Aruku shad. Best part is, I got it on video!

But, it wasn't the success the boys were looking for. So, we picked up and made a run to South Sauty. Originally, we were going to "junk fish". Maybe we could come across some stripe or whites, maybe even crappie.

One thing Jim does extremely well, that we should all learn to do, is to rely heavily on electronics. I don't mean just for depth, or for fish stacked in the bottom cone of the transducer, but to use sidescan, down imaging...all the tools, to find the sweet spots. And if they aren't piled up, move on.

But we did find some piled up. We had been patrolling the South Sauty causeway back and forth, over and over. I didn't mind because I knew he was eliminating water....a valueable method. Now, I always thought that meant by actively fishing areas and if you didn' catch anything, your moved on. Not so. You find the fish, and we did. So we started throwing spoons. Yet, nothing bit them. And that was where some more of Jim's experience taught me a big time lesson,

He said:
"If I can see the fish, and they aren't biting the spoon, it must be largemouth." That had me intrigued, so I asked him about it.

He said:
"Bass are the only fish that can be packed up like that and not bite. If it were drum, stripe, or crappie, at least a few would always be willng to bite."

So, we had the fish targeted.They started throwing Yum Yumbrellas, which is their Bama Rig backed by Reaction Innovation Skinny Dippers.

Once again, I thought I would throw something different and slow, so I again relied on the jig. But the wind was terrible and couldn't feel the lure, so I tied on a custom 1/2 jig head and put on a skinny dipper. Jim quickly bagged a NICE 5 pounder on the bama rig. But, after we reset, we noticed that the fish had moved and shifted in the water column...another thing Jim did with the sidescan. So, after 30 minutes, we were able to target them...this time low in the water column. Dusty bagged a solid 4 pounder. Reset, find the fish, and Jim busted out a 7 pound  2 ounce TOAD. Well, by this time the fish count was 3-3-1. I was getting aggravated. So, instead of targeting the area they targeted, out away from the causeway, I threw the jig headed swimbait to the rip rap, let it fall, and crawled it along the bottom.

One NAILED it. I wrestled it in, Jim lipped it, and I had a 5lb 4oz....breaking the year long streak! About 3 minutes later, I bagged another bucket head, also weighing in at 5lb 4oz.

That's when we knew we were on to something. We had a 7, two 5s, and two 4s. If we could cull those 4s, we had a terrific sack. While we continued to catch MASSIVE fish, we couldn't quite find the right one. Dusty did, however, catch a MASSIVE 4 pound spot!

And cull them we did. Jim hung one that tipped the 7 and change mark. I took in a 5lb 7oz. And there it was. 30 pounds. We quickly took pictures, released them, and hit the dock.


For the day, we caught 11 measuring fish:
5.9
5.7
4.8
7.2
5.4
5.4
5.2
4.6
4
4
3.9 SPOT!!!!
Here is what you all wanted to see! The vid! I apologize that I am an amateur...both at taking and editing...but I am getting better!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Emergency Bags for your Automobiles

Don't forget to check out ALL of my Last Man On Earth Studies posts!
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So, we have covered Bug Out Bags, from full on disappear forever bags to 24 hour bags. But, let's be honest, are you going to have it when you need it? I think we have covered this in plenty of detail in the past, that the chances of you being at home on your couch with your BOB beside you are slim. What about all the other situations?

Ironically, about a month ago, Alabama had one of those Jesus Is Coming moments when the white stuff from hades started falling. If you don't catch the joke, it's that Alabama shuts down at the THREAT of severe winter weather. I was sitting here in my office when the loud speaker told us to go home. In the ice and snow. 2500 people all recklessly driving to pick up their kids. Not only does Alabama shut down, but Alabamians don't know how to drive in inclimate weather. Case in point is that on Interstate 65, wrecks caused 24 hour delays. 24 HOURS! Most of these delays were between exits in a VERY rural area. Families were trapped in their vehicles for a whole day.

So, my wife..ever supportive of this hobby of mine...saw a REAL application of survival prepping. She asked me to make an emergency kit for the car. While most of you reading would think about gas cans, flashlights, and tow straps, recall that many of us have kids. Young ones. We can't just start humping it up the interstate. We need food, water, and warmth. Now, I know times are hard and people have a tough time spending money on things they will probably NEVER use. But, you can't put a price on safety, convenience, or comfort. These things DO happen. All the time.

I am going to show you how to put together a simple kit that will buy you 24 hours of comfort and assurance. And I am going to do it on a budget that anyone can feel good about.

After a few weeks of procrastinating, I finally got serious (and got paid...) and got on to Emergency Essentials web site found here.

I started out by buying the 72 Hour Improved MRE kit. This cost $58 dollars.

In this kit are:
Contents of the Improved MRE 72-Hour Food and Water Supply

Contents:

Qty
  • MRE Heaters 9
  • MRE Main Dish Entrees 9
  • MRE Side Dishes 6
  • MRE Dessert 6
  • MRE Drink Mix 3
  • Water Pouch 18
  • Bread/Biscuit 3
  • Peanut Butter 2
  • Jam Packet 1
  • Cheese Packet 1
  • Hard Candy 3
  • Accessory Pack 9

Now, that's a big box, and honestly, as I counted up the calories, I realized that we didn't need all of this. I figured we needed a solid 1,000 calorie meal and days worth of water. After all, we are American and it would take weeks to starve us fat  people. But kids get cranky and it's hard to keep your wits about you when you have 3 of them telling you how hungry they are.
Turns out, by counting the calories in each item, it took 1 MRE main dish, 1 dessert, and 1 fruit for a 1,000 calorie meal. Multiple that by 5 and I actually had 1 person's day worth of food left over, which I added to my 24 hour bag.
While I was ordering this, I noticed that they also had a sale on wool survival blankets for $11.99. That's a steal. These things are heavy and huge. And they normally cost $25.
I added 5 Hothands Super Warmers. I bought these for $1 each.
I added 3 Mylar emergency blankets. I bought these in a lot of 10 from Amazon for under $5
I added 3 glow sticks. I bought these in a lot of 10 for $11
I also added a baggy of vitamins and OTC pills for headaches and what not.
I added one large flashlight I already had.
I have several other things that I think should be added. Games/cards, sanitary wipes/toilet paper, extra plastic sacks.
Here is what it looked like all put together.
It fits nicely behind the back seat of my Yukon. It isn't very heavy. And, the total cost, you ask?

Try under $60.

Friday, February 1, 2013

BassMaster Fantasy Challenge





Anyone want to get in on the BassMaster Fantasy Challenge? Here is my group: TVA River Rats


Here is the front page.


Winner will get Freebees from me! Only takes a few minutes a week! And...they offer big prizes!

Prizes
If you pick the top anglers in the Classic, you could win! The Top 10 Fantasy Fishing players from the Classic win a B.A.S.S.-branded jersey valued at $50. The person who performs best overall also wins a $2,500 gift card!