Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fishing vacation coming up

One of the spots we go in West Virginia is a place called "the trough" on the South Branch of the Potomac River in the Eastern Panhandle.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

OK, now I'm about to get back on the water the way I prefer to, and that's with me driving the boat, er ... canoe or maybe even kayak this time.

One could say that technically, brother-in-law is guiding me because he plans where we go bassin' when I visit West Virginia on our semi-annual fish-offs over the July 4th holiday.

But once we're on the water -- whether it's together or in separate rigs -- it's every man for himself. Heck, I even have a hard time getting him to steer the canoe to a better spot if need-be if I have a lunker on so I can land it, let alone help me net it.

Then he wonders why I celebrate like I'm in the Bassmaster Classic when I finally get a nice one in the boat. Cooperation? Well, it's like pulling teeth sometimes with him.

Really, I just feel like you should have some fun when you're out on the water. Get the blood pumpin' so you know you're alive. Blast out a few whoops and hollers and maybe even rattle your competitor in the process as well. Oh, yeah.

If there's another thing I've learned when matching wits with Mike, is I had better come with a loaded tackle box.

He overtook me on the last day once because of a run on green pumpkinseed Baby Brushhogs. That's what those doggone bass were tearing after in the late afternoon, I was cleaned out and therefore, finished.

So I'm sure a stop at Bass Pro Shops outside Toledo, Ohio, or at Cabela's near Wheeling, W.Va., will be in order, which makes for more vacation fun.

When I'm talking about a loaded tackle box it's because we use only artificial lures to hook bass.

It's much more fun that way.

And it's like I say: Anybody can take a deer with a rifle or a shotgun, but how about with a bow? Same with bass fishing: Anybody can hoist a big boy into the boat with a live worm or a leech, but what about on a rubber one or a spinner bait?

Makes it a little bit more interesting. Sometimes a lot more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letting someone else drive

Longtime pal Mike Avery of Colorado, left, joined me on a Lake Erie walleye charter June 19.

MAHFS photo by Walt Lucken

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Sometimes it's nice to let someone else be in charge of a hunting or fishing expedition.

Just kick back, take it easy and have them bring the action to you.

Although I'm not sure if this Father's Day voyage had all the characteristics of "easy does it."

It was quite the choppy adventure June 19 on Lake Erie but to no fault of our captain, Ron Levitan of R & D Sportfishing Charters in Milford, who once again made miracles happen under seemingly impossible conditions.

The 4-foot to 6-foot waves, sometimes rolling up to 8 feet, sent one in our party to the edge of the boat in a desperate act.

In all, the catch of 27 walleyes deemed "mediocre" for the time of year but not bad for the conditions by Levitan, was loaded with several real nice walleyes, with the biggest stretching out to 26 inches.

Capt. Ron Levitan of R & D Sportfishing Charters checks out a catch of walleye.

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

He told us before we left the dock he signed on a shipmate because he knew we would encounter many "junk" fish and many sheepshead and white bass would be knocked off lines on this day. But true to his word, the two of them kept the lines clear and in the water.

For me, what topped the trip off was being part of the "team" we gathered together. One of the friends who joined the party was a longtime pal, formerly of Birmingham, Mich., and now living in Longmont, Colo.

I hadn't seen Mike Avery in nearly 20 years. What a treat it was for us to take in the great fishery that is Lake Erie and catch up on times while reeling in goggle eyes.

Maybe even better was when he called the fish fillets I prepared later that night "the best walleye he has ever had."

This amazing table fare was really a simple recipe of light oil, patted down on each side with Old Bay, covered in foil with sprigs of dill weed and cooked over a grill for 10 minutes. (I'm getting hungry just thinking about this.)

A fall trip is now in the works.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bait ban and attitude

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Man, I have been snoozin', haven't I?

On Thursday, June 9, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted 4-3 to end a ban on baiting and feeding of whitetail deer in most of the state's Lower Peninsula.

According to an Associated Press article, "baiting will be legal again in most of the Lower Peninsula from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1. The exception is a northeast section where bovine tuberculosis remains a problem, including Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Presque Isle counties."

The limit is not to exceed two gallons -- which seems like a low amount to me -- and must be scattered about instead of placed in piles.

Apparently the ban will be up for vote again in three years or sooner, likely allowing for a stoppage if a case (or cases) of chronic wasting disease pops up again.

For some guys I'm sure it won't really make much difference since bags of carrots, corn and beets have been stacked for purchase outside gas stations from Wadhams to Mackinaw City when the ban was put into effect in 2008 and they never stopped baiting at their sites in the first place. Or others who simply don't follow the practice when in the woods and choose other methods of drawing deer in close.

My thinking is it's a good thing.

Most of what I hear is how hunter numbers are constantly dropping every year, and here's something that makes it easier for a new or a less mobile hunter to bag a whitetail.

So if there's no real threat to the deer herd -- as founded after the CWD case in Kent County in 2008 was confined -- we might as well break out the bags of carrots and corn again.

Personally, I first learned how to deer hunt in West Virginia where baiting is illegal so I can get by without it if need be, but I still like having the option to bait.


The other item I wanted to mention was a Michigan Department of Natural Resources news release I read a few days ago on how the deer kill was down by 6 percent in 2010 than in 2009, yet a hunter survey still "found the season more enjoyable than the previous year."

Of the estimated 656,500 hunters, 44 percent reported killing at least one deer in the survey, which overall tallied nearly 418,000 deer on the season.

I can report I had a much less "enjoyable" season with the one small buck killed and remember seeing much fewer deer than in previous seasons.

And after a subpar spring turkey season, where I didn't hear a gobble until May 22, here's to hoping the 2011 deer season will not be anything like 2010.


On the archery front:

I was a no-show at the Huron Pointe shoot in Lenox Township this past Sunday when I decided to opt for the convenience of the backyard range after my partner got the dates turned around and couldn't make it.

The rest turned out to be a godsend as well.

Then, later this week during another backyard shoot, the string I had on the bow gave out so I might not have lasted long anyway had I been on the course.

I'm definitely going to hit the circuit this summer. Just waiting for the planets to get into proper alignment.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Where'd he go?

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Nope, I'm still here. But definitely catching up on sleep and regrouping for the next bit o' fun, which likely will be a Sunday romp at a Richmond, Mich., 3-D archery gig.

Sorry, I don't have the name of the range off the top of my head but if anyone is interested, I can come up with it.

This time around I will be using the recurve, but on a breaking news front, I did order a fairly inexpensive long bow on line.

Ever since I purchased it, I've been wondering if I got taken but who knows, maybe I'll get a pleasant surprise. Due on the doorstep next week.

On the fishing front: I'm not sure when I'll get down to the St. Clair River next but I do have a Lake Erie walleye charter on tap in two weeks with some good friends coming in from all over the country -- West Virginia, Colorado and Michigan.

Had some tentative plans to hit the waters in West Virginia for bass and muskie later in the summer but both seem to be pipe dreams for now.

And of course bass season opens later in the month here in Michigan. Looking at kayaks ... always something, isn't it?

At least that's what my wife always says.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Moving on

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold
These two hens, joined here by a deer, interfered with my Michigan 2011 spring turkey hunt nearly every day I was out.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

In case anyone was hanging on what happened on the last day of my Michigan's 2011 spring turkey season: it could be summed up by phrase, "hell has no fury like the scorn of a woman."

The woods and farm fields I hunted primarily in Michigan's Thumb region was dominated by two hens.

I called these two in -- sometimes mere steps away -- nearly every time out.

Sometimes bringing the hens in is a good thing as most turkey hunters know for they'll also have the big boys in tow.

But in this case, no, not good. And on the final day of my season, where I was posted at "The Spot," they came out of the woods but without their boyfriends.

Oh, I could hear them all right, gobbling 400 yards to the west of the farm and another one 300 yards to the north on a neighboring farm.

It seemed like after their romancing of the day before, the girls had had enough and sent them packing to the fringes.

I can this: I was at least happy the action picked up before the season ended. I was beginning to wonder was happening to my turkey nation.

The girls and I will hopefully hook up in September, when they will be on the menu with "either sex" being legal during the fall season.

A payback if you will, coming their way.