Ice Fishing?

Here in Oklahoma we’ve been socked in by ice and cold temperatures. I realize that temperature is relative…my Dad is currently sitting at -27F while I’m sitting at 10F. Oklahoma has a miserable, damp cold that makes it seem worse than it really is. I much prefer the dry cold my Dad has.

All of the ponds that I have driven past have been frozen over, but not long enough to actually ice fish. I enjoy ice fishing, I’ve done it in New York, Illinois and Nebraska…its a hoot to be sure. It definitely gets a guy to wondering if its possible though. We’ve had below freezing temps for 9 days straight and according to the weather forecast we will continue the trend for a week or more. It will drop to -8F this Sunday. And that’s COLD for Northeastern Oklahoma.

Maybe I’ll grab a bucket and give it a shot…then again, maybe I’ll just sit by the fire and stay warm. Decisions, decisions.

Maybe I’m just desperate to go fishing?


My friend came through for me! He got back from Key West the other day and brought this to me at work today.

I have wanted to try some of the Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum for ages but they won’t ship it out this way for some reason. I’m not a rum connoisseur by any stretch so don’t expect a ‘high falutin’ review about “nose” and “finish.”

I just wanted some…pure and simple. And I must say, as I’m sitting by the fire, relaxing and staring out the bay window at all of the ice and snow… it goes down smooth.

My friend…Thank You! You have indeed redeemed yourself.

However, your choice of fishing attire is another matter for another time! But we’ll consider it a “work in progress.” You’re off to a great start though.

The Wife’s Personal Best Bass…

We had heard about this local lake but had never been there. The previous weekend we ventured down to take a look around and to see if it was worth fishing. It didn’t take long to realize that fishing from the shore was all but impossible. It required a boat. No motors are allowed which is rare these days.

We made plans and loaded up the Jon boat with the trolling motor in preparation. The lake looked ideal for Crappie so we selected the appropriate tackle and headed that way.

We were fishing for about an hour and catching lots of little bass but couldn’t locate the Crappie. I decided to head over to the other side to see if it was any better.

Remember that cheap Chinese telescopic rod I mentioned in a previous post? That’s what she was using when she cast a Crappie jig up to the edge of a reed bed. Twitch, twitch…BAM! That little rod bent almost double and the drag started screaming. I reeled in my rig in record time and manned the trolling motor. No words were necessary to comprehend that she needed help.

I was chasing that fish with the boat as she was trying to gain control. We went to deeper water, then reversed course and headed towards shore. It went left, then right. Finally she got it close enough to see the flash and that’s when we realized it was a decent bass.

She managed to get it boat side and reached down and grabbed its lip and hauled it aboard. We were absolutely stunned. After the obligatory pictures with such a fine specimen, I asked her what she wanted to do with it. She smiled and placed the fish back in the water and held the tail until it was ready. I heard her say “Thank You!” as it glided back to the deep.

We sat and stared at one another for quite awhile…all smiles and wonderment. She couldn’t believe she caught it and I couldn’t believe the rod didn’t break! I was so proud of her.

No words were necessary and we headed back to the ramp. Loaded the boat and went home. What a spectacular day.

Patience Is A Virtue…I just don’t have any!

I FINALLY received notification that my new fishing rod was out for delivery. 26 miles in 3 days…hmm. But at least it’s moving in my direction. Second-string carrier pigeon perhaps?

Of course, it’s 17F outside and we’re socked in by ice. It looks like a “crystal palace” out there. So the odds of the rod actually showing up today are slim.

It’s not like I’ll be able to fish anytime soon, but still…”We Wants It, we needs it!”

Chalk it up to a character flaw or something. But I want my rod! All of the admonishments circulating in my head are valid…”this generation wants everything now!” etc etc. But people should realize that you NEVER get between a fisherman and his gear!

So I’ll sit here drinking my coffee and staring out the window. I’ll pace the floor for awhile. And I’m sure I’ll venture out and check the mailbox multiple times…all the usual things a fisherman does waiting on “his Precious.”

Stay warm folks!

The Leech!

No that’s not the actual suspect! It’s a pic I pulled from the web because it was close to the size of the “perpetrator”, albeit flatter since she wasn’t a “little woman.” I actually felt kind of sorry for that leech.

Years ago, I would travel up North to the Boundary Waters and Quetico once or twice a year.

At least one of those trips was with a Boy Scout Troop or Youth Group. On this particular trip was a female leader who regaled everyone in how cheap she bought all of her gear.

I hate cheap gear with a passion! Nothing ruins a “first-timers” trip faster than bad gear. Crappy water shoes, useless rain gear (NO PONCHOS) or “budget” portage packs. Yes, gear can be a costly investment, but from experience, it’s worth the extra cost. The worst offender by far is “outfitter paddles,” holy smokes those things are heavy. A kid will hate paddling for life and I make a point of letting each “tripper” try my paddle so they get to experience the “dark side” of nice paddles. In fact, after each one of my own kids’ first trips, I take them to be fitted for a paddle and let them pick one out. It’s a family tradition now. I can look at a person and tell what size they need…but having a “professional” go through the aggrandized procedure with your kid leaves a lasting impression.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand…On Day 3 of a 7 day trip, one of that lady’s water sandals blew out. We had no choice but to duct tape it onto her foot. It stayed like that until we made it out.

So let me set the stage for you…

We always stop at a certain Outfitter because they have a shower house that anyone can use for $5 bucks a head. There’s a section for guys and one for girls. The kids had gone in to take theirs before the adults so we were chatting as we waited. We’re separated by a wall so there’s “no peeking.” From the other side came a blood-curdling scream and we all just looked at each other. Me being ME, I just started laughing because I had a pretty good idea what had happened. Sorry, that’s just how I’m wired.

So we go outside and around to make sure everyone is OK. And there sits the “cheapskate Lady” mortified and nearly in tears. She had cut the duct-taped sandal remnant from her foot and attached to the sole of her foot was the biggest damn leech I had ever seen. It was almost as wide as her foot and clearly had been feasting for some time! A careful treatment with a cigarette lighter on each end and we removed the leech.

I’d like to thank Mr. Leech for proving my point so I didn’t have to waste my breath! Don’t buy cheap gear when going up North…you’ll be miserable. No doubt, that occasionally you’ll get lucky, but 9 times out 10 its an abject failure.

Heed my words…

Fish Farts?

No, this is not a dissertation about piscatorial bowel movements. Nor am I trying to be crude. It’s just an observation.

Many times when I’m fishing one of our local streams/rivers, I’ll be wading along and from behind me I hear something akin to flatulence. ( No, its not coming from me!) It’s not a “barn burner” or anything like that. It’s much more subtle.

Just a little “brrrrrrtt”. I am really curious by nature and often times I will sit on the riverbank and just observe things for awhile. So as I was sitting there one day, I happened to catch a smallmouth fingerling rocket out of the water while making that sound. Aha! That’s what it is…the sound of the tail smacking the water in extremely rapid succession as it breaches the surface while chasing some insect. If you’ve ever caught a fingerling you’ll know exactly how “wiggly” they really are.

Several times the wife and I have quietly approached a shallow bend in the river only to be greeted by a cacophany of “fish farts.” It’s really quite funny but it is also encouraging. We’re staring at the future!

It does our hearts good to know that our rivers and streams are healthy and that the native smallmouth bass ( the Velox ) are doing well and reproducing in meaningful numbers. With concerns of pollution, genetic inbreeding from introduced species etc etc. it gives us hope. And in this day and age, with everything going on…we need that.

Stay safe out there.


Not long ago, had you called me a Twinkie we would’ve been trading punches.

But age has a way of mellowing a man and forces them to see things differently.

The wife and I are now Twinkies. We have accepted the moniker and embrace it. It started off innocently enough through fishing rods. I had one she really liked so I bought her one. Next came the reels…same thing. Following that came the Patagonia Stormsurge/Stormfront Sling Pack. I bought us each one since it was perfect for our fishing style. Next up was the wading boots. She tried mine on and fell in love with them…yep, I ordered her a pair.

I bought a high-end Japan made spinning reel recently…”my Precious!” I’d catch her casting sidelong glances at it. I’d notice her playing with it. The Smeagol reference is perfect since that’s how she was looking at my reel. “She Wants It!” So what does any self-respecting husband do…order her one as well!

The irony of it all comes from the actual packaging of the Twinkies. I’m pushing 50 and have gained 10 pounds (who am I kidding…more like 15!) So the spongy, goo filled snack seems fitting. I guess I AM a Twinkie!

I just hope the myth is true. They never go stale or expire!

Let’s Talk About Etiquette…

YES! There are informal rules to fishing. It’s sort of a Gentleman’s agreement rather than being written in stone. I won’t cover them all, just the two I see way too often.

The first is referred to as “Camping.” It’s when people stay in one spot and fish that section to death while people are waiting their turn. Nobody likes to feel pressured or hurried when fishing…but come on! You can clearly see that people are waiting so fish the top spots and move on.

The second is called “High-holing” and is basically similar to jumping line. Everybody hates it and YOU know it. However, if you’re camping and get high-holed…you deserve it.

Uncommon sense dictates that if you have the river to yourself then the rules are shelved. Pretty simple.

It’s not that difficult to start a conversation. Keep it non-aggressive and casual and if there’s a section you want to fish several miles up-river just let them know.

For example, I got to the river really early one day and was gearing up to begin fishing. I’m standing on the riverbank fastening my waders when a car pulls up and two guys get out and start hurrying past me to fish the river. I caught up to them a few minutes later and asked how they were doing. (the weather is always a safe topic) I asked their permission if I could move past them because I wanted to fish a section of the river several miles upstream. I told them that I didn’t want to high-hole them and thought it best to inform them of my plans. They were somewhat perplexed and I explained the term “high-holing” to them. The light bulb clicked on and they sheepishly looked at one another. I wished them success and began my walk upstream.

I created dialogue in a non-aggressive manner, I informed them that I was not a threat to their fishing plans so I eliminated any pretense of competition or one-upmanship. It worked out and there was enough distance between us that we never saw each other until later that evening when we were all leaving.

It’s not that difficult to have a good time on the river/stream where everyone benefits. Now, if anyone can get through to the jet skiers…have at it.

A Fine Compliment…

My youngest son’s Scout Troop was planning a trip to the Boundary Waters and parts of Quetico. I vowed to make sure he was ready even though I had my hesitations due to his age and stature.

I took him on several float trips down one of our local rivers, teaching him the necessary strokes and when to use them. I taught him how to read the water and how to avoid obstacles. How to navigate through rapids and eddies and how to pick the most efficient line. A kid is a kid and you never really know for sure if they’re actually listening or not.

I was suffering from a torn rotator cuff and was scheduled for surgery so never had any intention of going on said trip. But I did my best to uphold my vow. And I lamented that I wouldn’t be there for my youngest sons first trip “Up North.”

The surgery came and went with a rotator cuff repair and a torn bicep tendon surgically reattached. Late one evening I received a call from a gentleman whose son was going as one of the adults and was informed that he had been in a bad car accident and wouldn’t be able to go. He asked if I wanted to take his slot. I looked at the calendar seeing that it was 3 months post op and physical therapy was going really well. I said OK, count me in. Of course I set some conditions, mainly being that I wouldn’t be able to portage a canoe.

As it turns out, these kids were too young to handle portaging canoes or to even carry the heavier packs. I had my work cut out for me and ended up carrying our canoe over every portage. My middle son was on the trip as well, acting as the Navigator because it was his second trip up there. To his credit he worked harder than anyone and always took the heaviest loads without complaint. Bless that child because he helped his old man more than he knew. My kids are 5 years apart and the middle son hung mostly with his friends. But he and his buddy always canoed close to me because I knew all of the shortcuts and best campsites. The leader was using a GPS and those only work on straight lines so you do a lot of unnecessary paddling. But it was good to share the experience with both of them.

On the way out, I had fallen behind the group a bit, just to prolong the inevitable end of the trip. And from the canoe to my left, one of the Dads who went, smiled and pointed to the bow seat of my canoe at my son. He said, “you can certainly tell who taught that young man how to handle himself in a canoe!” Also, “I’ve been watching you two paddle for the past hour and he never misses a beat and always anticipates the next curve of the river…he’ll be a pro just like his Dad soon.”

Wow! I got choked up and all I could do was smile and give him a thumbs up. I saw my son square his shoulders a bit from a swell of pride. Thank you sir for the compliment…you made my trip that much better.

And now I know that my son WAS listening! How cool is that?

It’s in my Gene’s…

This picture is of my Great-grandfather on a Canadian fishing trip circa 1928. That’s him on the right. And correct me if I’m wrong, but those sure look like pre-Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers that he’s wearing. It’s definitely a different era!

I could make this blog post about over-harvesting and things like that, but I won’t.

Instead it will be about what could quite possibly be genetic encoding. I am not a geneticist and this is pure speculation on my part…but I believe that fishing the North is in our genomic composition.

I know that my Grandfather and Father were fishing up there in 1953 or 1954. I’ve been up there 25 or so times. My wife and children have been up there as well…so that’s 5 generations that have fished the North.

I have taken my Father up there fishing with me twice and it was a memorable experience for both of us. And I know all four of my kids are wanting to go back. Three of them have already made multiple trips up there.

I have been to very few places that felt like “home.” As soon as I place the canoe in the water and make the first paddle stroke…it feels like a homecoming. I paddle in silence and just “feel” my way along the rivers and lakes. I feel the embrace of the trees as I make a portage. The smile and laughter of the wind on my face. It seems surreal sometimes and I dare not make a noise that breaks the reverie. I want it to last forever.

I’ve enjoyed sitting on a rock in the middle of the night staring intently at the Northern Lights. The green shimmer waving in and out and side to side. I was told by a First Nations gentleman that what I was seeing was the Ancestors dancing around their sacred fire in the next life. If you stare long enough you can see them. It’s incredible.

I never really knew my Great-grandfather because I was too young. All I remember was him being taken by dementia. I knew my Grandfather and loved hearing him tell stories and showing me things. I only fished with him twice that I can remember…but he enjoyed listening to me tell him about my latest trip up North. My Dad knows…he’s been there and experienced it. Hell, he lives in Canada!

So yah, I like to believe that it is encoded in my DNA and I sure hope I pass it along.

May the wind always be at your back and the sun on your face….

Lest You Think I’m a Drunk…

I know I’ve written two, maybe three, posts mentioning Whiskey…but I will confess, I’ve never bought or owned a Whiskey bottle in my life! But I have no qualms about partaking of someone else’s bottle if it suits me!

I do partake in adult beverages on occasion but the timing has to be right. Something memorable has to be happening or the “ambience” has to be perfect.

Wine? Not really my thing unless I’m dressed up and feeling “hoity toity” as my Dad says. Beer? Meh. I’m too picky. It has to be a dark beer for sure. The lightest I’ll go is a Newcastle or Murphy’s.

Now Rum on the other hand…that’s a different story. I don’t mind sipping Rum every once in a while. In fact, my co-worker skipped town before the ice storm and is safely ensconced on a beach down in Key West! Bastard. I sent a text to him asking for him to bring me back a bottle of Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum…we shall see if he redeems himself.

But seriously, he was going to be back tomorrow but I told him that he should stay put until this weather clears. He’s a great guy…even if he thinks I look like a polio patient while casting my “lefty.”

In short…I don’t drink much and have witnesses to prove it. Cheers!

Temper Tantrum Tuesday

Sometimes I get something stuck in my “craw” and can’t let it go.

I received several emails today from Outdoor Retail Companies professing to have Super Duper Holy Smokes Gee Whiz sales. It being close to Valentines Day, I decided something for the wife was in order. Forget it! What a complete and utter CROCK!!!

Seriously folks? I clicked the tab for Women’s Apparel and started perusing through looking for something that the wife might like. Aha! There’s something! NOPE. Only size was XX-Small…and the color options??? They looked like carpet remnants from the 70’s. Shoes? HA! Maybe if you wore a size 5!

Get real people!!! It’s not a “SALE!”…or even a “Spring Sale!” Who are you kidding? It’s February! The reality is (as I see it) that they’re trying to get rid of the “dreks” and “un-sellable stuff” that’s in their inventory. Needless to say…I unsubscribe from EVERY site that tries to pull that crap. The worst offenders are the ones you see where it says: “In Stock” and you get all excited only to find out they LIED. It’s backordered indefinitely. Do they honestly think I’m going to keep shopping for something else? Buh-bye

And then there’s COVID. A detestable virus AND the greatest excuse EVER. Seems to me that businesses are blaming every little hiccup on COVID rather than pointing the finger at themselves. Nothing I can do about that but add to my list of businesses to avoid in the future.

Anyway, I could go on and on but I won’t. I have to send out a search party for my missing fishing rod that was supposed to be delivered Monday. I’m thinking the carrier pigeon froze to death and crashed. The Regional facility is only 26 miles away and its been in transit for 2 days. That should narrow the search pattern down. USPS….YOU SUCK! End of rant.

Everybody else, stay warm and stay safe…

P.S. If you think I’m being too harsh on the USPS, consider this… I ordered 2 rods on the same day…one from New York and the other from Japan. I’m staring at the one from Japan. And before you go blaming the weather, I have an hour long commute each way, I’m driving in the same conditions because I have a job to do as well. Something to ponder.