Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paying tribute our way

Zac hoists the bass he caught on the Monongahela River in West Virginia on June 24.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I've recently returned from West Virginia where the family held services on June 24 for my deceased father-in-law Fred McCauley.

It went as well as something like that can go. A somber event where tears and laughs were shared while friends and family recalled memories of the once hard-working coal miner.

Many of the discussions of him centered around bass fishing, which was his passion until his last breath. He died Feb. 28 after falling into the Monongahela River while fishing along a dock in Star City, W.Va. His body wasn't found until June 7.

So now the closure can begin.

My son Zac, 8, and I wanted to pay tribute our own way by doing a little bass fishing ourselves before the service.

After a slow morning where all we got were rolling waves courtesy of the bass tournament anglers and their fancy boats and a couple small hits on our lines, I was treated to watching Zac battle a fish.

It all unfolded in front of me.

"Dad, I think I got a fish," he shouted and then leaned back in the front seat of the canoe with both hands on his fishing pole.

"Reel that baby in," I instructed him. "Don't let off the pressure."

And just like that, after the shimmering fish made a few laps out in front of us, he lowered the bass into the canoe.

It was awesome.

A perfect tribute.

His papi would have enjoyed the moment for sure but likely would have told him, "Now, catch a bigger one."

Me? I was just happy we didn't get skunked.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Heat equals bass fishing

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold
My brother-in-law Mike McCauley trails the boat in his canoe during one of our fishing gigs last summer on the Monongahela River in West Virginia.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Sure is hot out.

When I went to my car during a break at dusk, I thought to myself that it would be nice to be in the canoe casting just outside an eddie of flotsam on some quiet part of a river.

And when I'm thinking a river, most likely it would be a West Virginia one.

Not because I prefer to fish there necessarily, but because that's where I usually vacation during the summer with the in-laws being there and all. And when I vacation with the in-laws, what we would do is bass fish.

Of course, bass weren't the only fish on the agenda for this glory hound. I also would pursue "the fish of a thousand casts," otherwise known as the muskellunge, at least when we were on the Monongahela  River or Dunkard Creek.

But this summer will be different. That's because my father-in-law Fred McCauley passed away this spring.

Anyone who has kept up with this saga will remember he was swept down the Monongahela River in Star City, W.Va., in February.

He was just found about two weeks ago near Point Marion, Pa., which is about 10 miles away from where he fell in at off the fishing pier in Star City.

The memorial service is Sunday. I will make the trip.

It was supposed to be the following weekend on July 1 but the miners he worked with for many years complained they would be gone on vacation that week and wanted to be there.

I thought that was pretty cool.

I'm looking forward to meeting some of them and hearing their stories of what he was like in the mines -- he worked nearly 36 years under ground.

He never said much about it other than it "wasn't for most people." Isn't that the truth?

There was one story he told about how he went to pick up a electrical cable that was laying on the track and turned out to be live. Fred said it knocked him off his feet and sent him backward about 10 feet.

Wish the circumstances were different because I could use a vacation.

Doubt there will be an opportunity to fish but you never know. I was hoping to do a memorial outing on the river because that's the way I like to do things.

It'll probably have to wait until later in the summer.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Rehab 101

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Don't take the title the wrong way. I'm far from being in drug or alcohol rehab.

In fact, I'm very sober. Nearly 25 years so.

I'm talking about getting the shoulders back into condition, mainly the right one.

First, for returning to the dojang in July -- which remains tentative at this point but I would like to achieve a full black belt in taekwondo -- and later for the fall festivities: goose, turkey, grouse and woodcock, possibly bear, and lastly, deer hunting seasons.

Now that the magical 120-day mark has elapsed, which is when most of the healing has been completed, I've started to lift weights and hit the punching bags in earnest to coincide with the bi-weekly 2-mile runs.

And also since turkey season has ended as well. Can't forget that point. It's tough to toss iron around in the man cave after a near-90 degree outing in the gobbler woods.

Unfortunately, this doesn't make for "spectacular" hunting and fishing copy, so I apologize to any readers who are disappointed.

But I will be getting out into the outdoors for some fun -- bass fishing from the canoe the most likely endeavor.

I just haven't figured out yet where I want to go.

Although the thought occurred recently that the salmon and trout gig from the wall along the St. Clair River could make for a relaxing day. And some good eating if I actually landed a couple.

For now, until the autumn party begins, it'll be mostly random ramblings from this outdoorsman's at times bizarre mind that will appear here, but isn't that what a blog can be at times anyway?

Friday, June 01, 2012

The next best thing

The sun rises in Sanilac County, Mich., on the final day of the 2012 spring turkey season. It would set without me filling my spring tag.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

With spring gobbler now officially over, and no new bird to proudly display, I'm left with staring back at "Harry" over the bench in the man cave for another year or at least until fall. (Harry is a turkey I took a few years back and had done in a strutting wall mount.)

And it's OK. I'm at grips with it.

As a friend of mine on Facebook said, "It wasn't for a lack of trying."  I went 15 days out of the 25 allotted in Michigan's second season.

I gave it all but the birds just didn't seem to cooperate.

Well, one did, but he putted his butt away with HEVI-Shot whistling through the air on May 15.

Tough to accept it was a "one and done" situation but that's exactly what it was. I know from past experiences that is how a season can go, so you best make the shots count.

So what to do now?

There will definitely be some fishing gigs with the canoe -- a full summer's worth no less -- and bow shoots this summer as usual. I see the one at the Silver Trails Boy Scout Camp in Jeddo is scheduled for June 16-17.

It's about 15 minutes from the house and I appreciate the low-key approach of the fun course there.

But what really needs to happen in the upcoming three months is a serious rehabbing on the right shoulder. I took the compound out one day for turkey season and realized when in the tree that it took all I could muster just to pull it back to full draw. This can't happen in October when the king of seasons -- deer archery -- comes a callin' in October.

For all those wondering why I just don't go with a crossbow, I can't get to where I want to with a crossbow. Regardless of whether it is the stigma that is still attached to crossbows vs. compounds, the goals I have set for myself are with either a compound or a recurve. Just the way it is,

And if there was anybody who was a truer candidate for a crossbow tag -- two shoulder surgeries -- it would be me. I guess I'm just me and a little stubborn.

So the weight room awaits and it's time to get down to business.