Thursday, July 3, 2014

More Fish Bait

More Fish Bait


    Everyone re-cycles when fishing, bait that is, I've see way to much garbage floating in the water and washed up on shore to believe most of them re-cycle anything else! We get short on bait we'll tend to take the fish we have, clean them and us the guts as bait for more or take the smallest fish and use the whole thing for bait. here In Wa. lots of times we'll have a pole out with a smelt jig on it (little bitty hooks) I like fried smelt but I like using them as bait for salmon much better.

   You have be kind of careful fishing if you end up doing it in different states to make sure know what the laws are. Uncle Henry only fished with rod and reel in Ariz. but when he came to visit Okla. all he wanted to do was use limb lines. throw lines or trot lines. I always just figured it was because he didn't have a boat and the places we went to on his favorite lake didn't have any trees growing around the bank. Just never thought to ask. I did find out when I was older. We were fishing at Canyon lake one year when I decided to do some night fishing. Canyon is one of those lakes that has crystal clear water, the kind where you can look through ten feet of water and see every pebble laying on the bottom. What surprised me was by shining a light down through the water I could see some big catfish moving along the bottom. It surprised me because I've always associated catfish with muddy water . All of the catfishing I had done before that point had been in the rivers and creeks in Okla. I had been to a "clear" lake with my Uncle Short and to a "clear" river with my Uncle Bill but the only fishing I had done at either was bass and crappie. Anyway, I tried to catch a catfish that night but I only had plugs, I didn't even have any guts from the crappie we'd caught that day because unlike normal I had cleaned them as we caught them but I made up my mind that we were going to get us some catfish the next time we came up.

   I put together a hundred hook trotline so I was ready the next week end. I figured i was going to have trouble finding bait. Normally my first choice would have been perch but there wasn't anyplace around to catch enough perch for trot lining and you sure can't buy them any where. There were lots of blue gill in the lake but the same problem there, trying to catch enough. I never had a catfish bite on a waterdog but I knew that at the same bait shop that had them also had crawdads, not the best bait but it would work. We hit the first snag when we got to the bait shop. They were out of everything except waterdogs and worms. Next option, stop at a grocery store and pick up some chicken liver. You can catch catfish with it but it's a real pain to keep on hooks. I used it in Okla. with a rod and reel but I'd cut up a set of panty-hose and make little bags so I could keep in on the hook.

   We pulled into a little strip mall that had a grocery store and I hopped out to run in and get the liver. Half way to the grocery store I noticed that there was a pet store right next to it. I didn't pay much attention until I saw the big sign in the window saying there was a sale on large goldfish. A gold fish is just a little fish, right? I know it's really a carp but it swims around like a perch and even though I had no idea if catfish would eat them i figured, what the hell. I made a deal with the guy to buy all the goldfish he had. He looked at me kind of funny but he seemed pretty happy to get rid of them and never asked why I needed so many.

   We got to the lake a little late in the day after all the stops an running around but we still had time to set the line across the cove where I had seen the catfish the week before. Guess what! Catfish like goldfish! We spent the night running the line and even though we didn't catch any super big ones (biggest was only a little over 10 lbs) we had a ball. It was almost like being back home, sitting around the fire shooting the bull and running the line every couple of hours. I think that was one best trips I'd ever had to an Ariz. lake. At least it was until we were running the line for the last time the next morning.

   Our plan was to run the line one last time then take it up after we got the fish off. We had only covered the first 25 hooks when another boat pulled into the cove with us. I was busy pulling up the line and didn't pay attention to what it was until Lee kicked me. When I looked back at him he just pointed at the other boat. I looked over to where he was pointing and the first thing I saw was the Fish and Game sign on the side of the boat. I still didn't think anything about it, we both had out licenses and I didn't see anything to worry about so i kept pulling the line. I was just getting ready to take a fish off when the game warden ask what we were doing. and smart ass me said "fishing" (I mean, DUH). He said he could see, what he wanted to know what were we fishing with. I figured that even if he wasn't from the right part of the country he should at least know what a trot line was so I just pulled it up to show him. I only had the hooks about 2 feet apart so when I lifted it out of the water you could see that there were multiple hooks on it. "You guys know that your only allowed one pole with no more than 2 hooks on it" he asked. No it was my DUH moment because no, I didn't know that. I will have to say he was pretty nice explaining all the stuff we were doing wrong to us. it seems that you can't use a trot line in Ariz. You can't even use limb lines or throw lines because you can't go off and leave them, you have to be "in control" of your pole at all times. He told us to go ahead and take the line up and he would follow us over to the bank and explain the tickets we were going to get. He was still being real nice, right up till we got a half a dozen hooks down where I pulled one up that still had a goldfish on it. Now the game wardens in that state seem to be pretty nice folks and they are polite, even when their writing you a ticket. they are even nice when you REALLY screw up but it also seems that they get really excited over what they call "introducing an invasive species". In other words, he didn't see the humor of us using goldfish as bait! After close to $800.00 in fines and losing several pounds from the ass chewing we got form not one, not two but three different game wardens we were finally able to slink away, poorer, and lighter but Ohhh so much wiser.


   On a more serious note (the last one was pretty serious as to the out come). I doubt that many women will do this but for the guys. Did you know that bass will eat mice? It's true. You need live mice but if you can catch a few take some line an make a little loop harness that will fit right behind his front legs. Rig your hook so it hangs from the middle of his chest and an inch or so below his feet. Attach him to your rod with a barrel swivel and cast him out. It seems to work best when the bass are spawning. Cast him as close to the bank as you can and give him a couple of jerks to stir the water and bring him out a little, then jus let him swim around. Way better than any top water plug!


   Speaking of pests. I stopped off at Aunt Betty's to meet up with Kenneth so we could go do a little limb lining down on Deepfork river We were sitting out on the porch after getting everything ready just visiting with Aunt Betty for awhile before we took off ( I always loved her house with the big porch around three sides of it. Great place to sit and visit!) She was telling Kenneth that she sure wished there was a way she could get rid of those birds. I thought she meant the starlings that were flying around under the porch roof and was telling her that maybe she should get a cat. She said it wasn't the grown ones and told me to listen. We got quite and then I could here a bunch of baby birds chirping away. I realized the sound was coming from inside the attic where the porch roof met the house. Kenneth and I got up to take a look and found places all the way around the porch where birds were going in the attic and building their nests. Aunt Betty told us they were driving her crazy with their chirping. This was something we could fix! Kenneth and me gathered up some scrap wood, hammers and nails and went around the porch blocking off every hole we could find. It took us less than an hour to make the attic bird proof and we sat back down feeling proud of ourselves for taking care of the problem. Aunt Betty was happy with what we'd done but she have a question, what about the birds? Kenneth started telling her that was what the wood was for, to keep them from getting in the attic. She said she understood that but what about the babies already in the nests? Sure didn't like the idea of them dying in there, the chirping was bad enough she didn't even want to think about the smell. Couldn't argue with that so up in the attic I go to see if I can get the babies. Them starlings really like her attic! It seemed like there was a nest at least every foot all the way around the house! I had a grocery sack I was putting the babies in and filled it almost to the top! There must have been at least a hundred.

   Now what? I've got a sack full of live baby birds, can't really just go out and dump them in the garbage. I tried showing them to Aunt Betty and Kenneth's sisters Debbie to one peek in the sack, squealed and all of them disappeared in the house. I told Kenneth that we could just take the to the river with us and dump them out somewhere down there where they wouldn't go to waste. Don't mean to sound heartless but they were starlings after all and they were going to die, might as well put the somewhere that other animals would benefit. We tossed them in the pickup and off we went.

   I didn't think about them again until we had our camp set up and were sitting out the lines. We were using perch for bait and as I finished sitting one out I remembered the birds. I wonder. birds build nests in the trees that hang out over the river. There had to be baby birds that fell out of the nests. You can see where this was going. Guess what! Flathead catfish like baby birds! The biggest one we caught on a perch was around 20 lbs, the biggest we got with the bird was a little over 40!