Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 As Good As It Gets!

Hooray for spring! Oh, wait a minute, it's the first few weeks of winter, but you wouldn't know it if you looked outside of our house. The sump pump is working hard in the basement to keep up with the melting snow, and heavy rain, that fell last night over Chicagoland. It's hard to believe that just three days ago my son, nephew and I were sitting on our buckets over ten inches of solid ice and complaining of freezing fingers (from catching a mess of bluegills).

How quickly the weather can change here in Illinois. The old saying goes something like this. If you don't like the weather here in Chicago...just wait two minutes. Without a doubt, the weather here is about as up and down as it gets. After forty-three years you would think I would be used to it.

The kids, Bryan and Tyler (son & nephew) made quick work of the bluegills on Tuesday as we caught 82 fish in 1 hr 45 min. Monday we had 51 fish in 2 hrs 15 min, 48 bluegill & 3 grass carp. Most of the fish were around 7 to 8 inches and taken over about 15 feet of water on wax worms. They both outfished me again, and I think that Bryan needs to start removing his own fish from the hook to slow him down a bit. However his hands would have been cold then (like mine) and he wouldn't have wanted to keep fishing. Get out this winter on some of your neighborhood ponds and experience this great angling action. The kids love it, and it can make them forget about video games for a few hours!

The break in the fantastic ice fishing we were experiencing gives me time to reflect on one of the best years of my life. I'm being really honest here, even while being unemployed for all of 2010, I have learned to enjoy the simple things in life more than I have ever before. The time that was available to me, made it easy to concentrate on my fishing, plan a few more days out on the water (& ice), and gave me moments to reflect on how special it is to spend our time outdoors.

What a fishing season we had in 2010! (see photo collages below) Ice fishing locally last winter for bluegills & bass. April gave us a beautiful a day on Lake Michigan searching for jumbo perch, although we never found them. May trips to St. Germain, WI (Little St Germain) for crappie, perch & pike, and Fremont, WI (Wolf River) for whitebass & catfish. June included our first trip to Whitewater Lake, in south central WI for largemouth.  Don't forget the outstanding week we had in August at Pelican Lake in Orr, MN catching big smallmouth. The fall brought us back to the St. Germain area and Big Arbor Vitae, for muskie action. In between all of that fishing we found time to pond hop local hot spots and wade the Fox river. Now you know why I had the best year of my life!

I'm looking forward to 2011 and many new opportunities for Cappy's Pond! The Outdoor Blogger Network has made my blogging experience the best it could be, while also increasing the site views and following. Can't wait to see how many people come fishing with us in 2011!

Lastly I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the great comments you have added over the year to Cappy's Pond. Without you, the readers, this blog would be nothing! When I see a link from someones blog roll to Cappy's Pond I immediately think back to when this all started and what little if no future at all I thought this blog would ever have. Now I am thinking about taking Cappy's Pond to new waters in search of more than just a place to share a few thoughts about fishing.

Have a great start to 2011 and remember to take the pledge to introduce someone new to fishing this year!                         

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gift of Family & Friends

I wanted to take the time today to wish you all A Very Merry & Blessed Christmas Season. No matter what religion or beliefs that you follow, we can probably all agree that there is no greater gift than the gift of family & friends. My hope is that all of you can share in that special gift with the ones you love!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from The Cahills & Cappy's Pond!                 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ice Fishing Update From Labor & Delivery

Today started out with some excitement as I sat down with my laptop and a fresh cup of coffee. While reading the home page of the Outdoor Blogger Network  I noticed I was selected by the random number generator for the Frabill Deadstick Rod/Reel Combo! What a way to start out your morning. I will put that combo to good use this winter across the frozen lakes and ponds of Chicagoland. Stay tuned for my upcoming review at the OBN!

Currently, Shirley & I are sitting in the "New" Sherman Hospital, Elgin, IL in Labor & Delivery waiting for the arrival of our new grandbaby. It's going to be a girl and I already know the name but just in case it is a boy or they change the name, I can't let the cat out of the bag too early. We are both so excited! Shirley is not quite as relaxed I am, which is why I brought along the laptop to do some blogging while she nervously paces the hospital waiting area. It's going to be a long (great) day!

Yesterday we managed to get out on the ice at Pickerel  Lake in Dupage County for a great day of ice fishing. A perfect winters day for being on the hard water, we managed to catch an assortment of bluegill, crappie and bass while fishing in 12 to 15 feet of water, less than two feet off the bottom. The ticket was a wax worm tipped on a small blue ice fishing jig (see picture from my last post). The kids had a tough time getting the fish to take the bait, as it took some persistance and teasing to entice them. I caught the most fish (again) as I clued in on the trick. While leaving the rod in a deadstick position for a few minutes and then moving the jig upward quite slowly, the fish would be a little more aggressive. The bass however, were a little bit different as they slammed the bait and took off running... just like the Bears!
I was glad to see the boys having a good time as everyone caught a fish! We got them to put the video games down for a bit, and get them all outdoors. I think they had the most fun drilling the holes in the ice and now that I'm going to be a grandpa that's going to save a little wear and tear on old Cappy.
I don't think we could have enjoyed the day anymore than we did except that we forgot the portable grill and the Johnsonvilles! That will never happen again, while ice fishing.

So a few more hours from now I should be holding my new granddaughter and telling her how much fun she is going to have fishing with Grandpa Kirk & Uncle Bryan! I think we are all going to have a perfect Christmas together...I hope that you all do too!    

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Really People, I Do Fish

It seems lately, that every time I write a new post I'm telling you that I am planning on going fishing. Once again that plan still hasn't been carried out. The rain we had on Saturday, scared me back into my man-cave to avoid drowning. This could have happened above or below the surface of the backwaters of the Fox river, as it was really coming down in buckets. Ice buckets to be exact.

The cold winds came overnight and the rain changed to snow but I couldn't try setting up a portable ice fishing shelter in fifty mile an hour wind gusts. Or could I? No. Sunday was another day to just hang in the man-cave, curl up with the dog, and dream of crappies and bluegills, instead of catching them.

The good news was that the Packers lost to the Lions and the Bears were on next. This football game will help me forget about ice fishing for a while.(forward to end of first quarter) That didn't last very long and I again had to find something to keep me busy. Lucky for me the Christmas tree still needed to be put up, but the assembling of the eight foot pine only made me long for the north woods cabin and the frozen lakes that abound there.

Sometimes this can be the most difficult time of the year. Too much ice to take the boat out and not enough ice to make it safe for a group of anxious fisherman. With the cold weather again here to stay, a few more nights will give us that safe ice we are waiting for here in Northern Illinois. Today will be spent lubing up a few more ice fishing reels, sharpening a dozen or so ice fishing jigs, and loading up a couple more maps into the portable GPS.

The Bears don't play until Monday so the weekend looks free to go fishing. I won't waste the time on Sunday to worry about the Packers beating the Patriots, they too will fall victim to superior coaching and talent. Another day to ice fish! My son Bryan is off of school starting next week and I will have to find something to keep him busy (hint, hint). So, hopefully in the next few few days I will go fishing again, and I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Christmas Collector of Unused Fishing Gifts

This weeks writing prompt from the Outdoor Blogger Network asked us to come up with a Christmas wish list to provide for our friends and family to help ease their holiday shopping. I took a little time to think about this one...and here is what came to mind. Please do not buy me anything for Christmas. I have a better idea!

Last week my 23 year old stepson Jeramie moved out of the house to begin his adult life with his girlfriend Jackie. Along with their new apartment they are expecting a baby girl to be born in the next couple of weeks. A new born baby at Christmas is about the best gift that our family could ever receive. Shirley and I are excited about becoming grandparents but are also concerned for the challenges that await for their new family. We wish them all the best of luck.

Shirley, Bryan and I need to come up with a plan for all the extra space that we now have in our home. One less car parked on the street makes it easier to back the boat into the garage when it's not at my brother's house or in winter storage. An empty bedroom that could be used to...I don't know...maybe a fly tying room? How about a nice warm place to hang my fishing rods, store my reels and decorate it with a few replica mounts of that muskie I'm going to catch next summer?

Our crawl space now has room for all kinds of things. I could store extra tackle boxes, boat cushions, life jackets, an ice fishing shanty or say a new power auger. Whatever we decide to do with the space is still yet to be determined, but it's nice to have the space.

I bet most of you wish that you had more of that space? Well, Cappy is here to help all of you and save the day. Here is my idea. Go through all of your fishing tackle and equipment, and whatever items that you have never used, just send them all to me! See... I told you I didn't want you to buy me anything. I'll go through all of the stuff, use whatever we can, and pass the rest on to my nieces and nephews.

All of the fans of Cappy's Pond will be helping me fill up some unused space and I will be doing my part to give you some extra room that you so desperately need. A win win for all involved. I told you I had a good idea!

No items will be refused (as long as they have to do with fishing) just contact me to get my address and ship the items prepaid (of course) and I'll take care of the rest. If I catch a fish while using one of your items I'll give you a plug on our facebook page at Cappy's Pond. What a service I will be doing for all of you, fishing with all the equipment that you never use. So send me an e-mail and I'll get you that address so your items will be sure to get here by Christmas.

Thanks in advance for helping me....and I assure you that it's no problem at all.

Enjoy your newly cleared space!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Fishing Thoughts At 12:38 AM

I was just about to turn out the last light in the house when I took a look outside the kitchen window. A few stars were shinning brightly above the rooftops of Mulberry Grove and I could see the steam from the furnace flues as it made its way across the night sky. The snow cover below had a glistening sheen to it, now that the frozen winter chill had begun to settle in.

Our furnace kicked on again, my toes quickly warmed from the heat coming up from the register. I made a cup of hot tea and stood and watched in wonder at the cold winters night. Our resident bunny was making his way through the back yard, looking for a little food and maybe a warmer spot to seek shelter from the frigid night air. A cough from upstairs, from my wife Shirley, reminded me as to why I had been inside all day. My cold which started on Thanksgiving is still lingering on and Shirley's is just a few days behind me.

The blower on the furnace shut off again, and and a peaceful quiet was once again in the house. Shirley fell back asleep and I sat down at my laptop to check my email, facebook, and share a few more thoughts with you. On and off the furnace went and I thought it must be really cold out there. I checked the thermometer and it read only 7 degrees. That explains why the heat keeps coming on.

New thoughts raced through my head. A week of this weather and we will have nice ice conditions for next weekend in Northern Illinois. Ice fishing before Christmas is very rare for me as I tend to be on the safe side and wait for a few more inches of ice than the die hard winter angler. What a special week it will be if I can get out on the Chain-O-Lakes on Friday or Saturday and catch a few bluegills and a crappie or two.

The furnace shut off again and a chill began to nip at my toes under the kitchen table. A few last warm drops of my tea and off to bed I go. Winter has indeed arrived in Illinois. It's 1:50 AM. It's 7 degrees outside, and I can't wait to go ice fishing!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gummy Worms!

This photo from a past vacation is a real treat! My good friend Krystn took this shot. We were sitting around the campfire eating Gummy Worms and pretending to be different species of fish. This one captures Cappy eating a lemon-lime flavored gummy while imitating a Pelican Lake bluegill. I'm sure I washed this one down with an ice cold Budweiser. The "King of Beers" most likely had played a small role in getting us to behave like our finned friends from Pelican Lake.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Ramblings

Well it's Thursday morning the 2ND of December, 2010 and as I try to conjure up another fishing story from the past, I am reminded that there are only 23 days until Christmas! The good news is... that there is only three more weeks until the holiday rush is over and our wintry thoughts can now focus exclusively on ice fishing. Until then I will try to make the most of this Christmas season.

Snow flurries fell in Chicago yesterday! The flakes didn't add up to much but it really looks like winter is here to stay. Forecasters predict a few inches of white powder for Friday night and cold temps for most of next week. The ice should get to forming quickly but in Chicago there are no guarantees that safe ice will stay during the beginning of December. We will keep our fingers crossed.

Shirley has now fell victim to the head cold that has plagued me since Thanksgiving day. I hope she will recover a little bit quicker than I have. It could be a long day around here fighting over the better couch, the tissue box and the TV remote. Something tells me she will not be up to watching fishing videos all day.

This cold infected mind couldn't come up with a new fishing story, so I thought I would share with you a post from about a year ago. I read it all the time and it is probably my favorite post. I hope you enjoy it!

The First Snow...

As my son Bryan walked down the stairs this morning, his first word was "WOW!" The sight of the first new snow of the season had filled his eyes. It can have that affect on you. Although I knew that a coat of fresh new powder was waiting for me, I followed him down the stairs with almost the same reaction. I grabbed my first cup of hot coffee, bundled him up for school, and sent him out the door. "Is it snow or is it Christmas sugar?" I asked. "Christmas!" he shouted back.

He walked toward the bus stop with an extra bounce in his step. I closed the door and stopped to take in the beauty of the new Christmas snow. Then I began to remember my youth and the excitement of that first snow. Sitting in a classroom at St. Theresa's and watching the first new flakes falling from the sky. How I couldn't wait to spring from that chair to go out and become a part of its wonder. As I stared out the now half snow covered window, a sudden pull of the rope from Miss Gorman had now closed the shade and I was quickly reminded that I still had half of the school day to complete. Those last 3 hours seemed like they would last forever.

I headed back to the kitchen to pour another cup of coffee, and I started to think. How lucky we are in the Midwest to be able to enjoy the splendor of the four seasons. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. The first new fallen snow, the warm days of spring, the golden evenings of summer, the bright red and orange maple leaves of fall. We are truly blessed with what we have been given.

As a fisherman I experience that magic many times during the cycle of the seasons. It never stops amazing me. Raindrops falling on a still lake, the rings how they merge together. Each sunset on the water is more beautiful than the one I had witnessed the day before. Reflections of the fall foliage on a calm bay as my lure makes that first splash. The sound of ice shifting beneath your feet on a quiet overcast winters afternoon. Those are the moments were time stands still. A picture, painted in my memory forever. I had one of those pictures painted for me today, of my son, standing on a snow covered sidewalk shouting "Christmas." Thank you God!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Buckets, Bears, and Birds

I couldn't help but notice a few frozen puddles on the side of the road this Wednesday morning. My eyes opened wide and the lights turned on inside my head, like the lighting of the Christmas tree last Saturday, at An Almost Winter Day. Time to clean out the five gallon buckets, turn them over and sit on them for a few minutes to see if they can still handle two hundred pounds of pure fisherman. The hardest part is waiting for the ice to become thick enough to support me and the bucket, but with a little luck we will be catching a few ice gills before too long.

The big topic around Chicagoland this week, is not ice fishing however, it's about a bird. No, not that bird. You were thinking of the turkey weren't you? I'm talking about the eagle and not just any eagle. This eagle can't fly but he can run around faster than most turkeys being chased by a farmer and his hatchet. Yes, our beloved Chicago Bears are going to be in the spotlight this weekend. I'm just hoping that we can have better luck in the headlights, than the deer I saw last night on the side of Randall road.

Now getting back to that turkey...if you haven't taken the bird out of the freezer, stop and go do that now! You can always return to read the rest of my stuffing later on. Did I just say stuffing? Did you remember the stuffing? I hope so, because a turkey without stuffing is kind of like a five gallon bucket with no ice to place it on. You need to have all of the parts to make the whole. Did I just say hole? I can't wait to drill that first ice hole, sit on my five gallon bucket and catch that first fish of the hard-water season. All in due time...

Cappy's Pond was selected as a Featured Outdoor Blogger of the Week at the Outdoor Blogger Network and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Rebecca & Joe for the honor. I am a huge fan of the OBN, and if you haven't had a chance to visit these excellent blogs, please take a few minutes to visit the site. You will be glad to add the OBN to your favorites menu.

To all the followers of Cappy's Pond, I sincerely hope that you will have a very blessed Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, food, football and maybe even a little fishing.

If you haven't done so please join our facebook group at Cappy's Pond and thank you again for taking a few minutes to come along fishing with us.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reel Reel Reel Slow Slower Slowest

OK! I know you were all waiting to see what happened on day two at the pond so here are the details. Thursday turned out to be another nice day and I awoke with the itch to get back over to the fishin hole and try to improve on the ill-fated fortunes from Wednesday afternoon.

Instincts were telling me that if I tried a different bait I might have better results so I opted for a spinnerbait. Strike King has a spinnerbait called the Red-Eye Special in a 3/8 oz model that is a white skirt with white willow leaf blades. I have fished many different brands of spinnerbaits over the years and this model has caught more bass and pike than any other model that I've thrown. Strike King doesn't pay me any money to endorse their product. It's just a darn good lure!

I started working my way around the pond, casting to the weed edges and turning that handle on my baitcaster just enough to keep that lure at a uniform depth. The tip of my 7 ft Shimano Convergence rod was pulsating with the vibration of the blades like a helicopter settling in on the landing pad.

About thirty minutes went by until I felt the first bump and I knew I was working the right bait, but maybe not the right area. On the next cast I found out I was in the right spot too! Watching the line, and lure on the retrieve, I saw my spinnerbait disappear right in front of my eyes, felt the weight of the fish and set the hook. Fish on again, only this one was much bigger than the day before. I managed to reel this one all the way to about 4 feet in front of me and got a good look at the bass. A good estimate was 21-24 inches and 5.5 to 6.5 lbs. Not too shabby for a pond 200 yards from my back door. The bass made one more run from right to left and I (stupidly) tried to turn it around instead of following it down the shore. I turned it around and a 3/8 oz spinnerbait came flying right back at me only it wasn't holding on to a 6 lb largemouth anymore.

Of course I started cussing and I probably drew some attention to myself from the residents who were sitting on their patio enjoying a perfect November afternoon. I'm just hoping it wasn't anyone who likes to fish with Strike King spinnerbaits. During the next hour I managed to catch 3 more bass but nothing bigger than 15 inches and they all looked like babies next to that other one. The good news is I know where it lives and I don't think that pond has ever seen an ice fisherman (until I start drilling some holes in a month or so) This is going to be man vs. beast, until the man finally wins. Cappy is looking forward to the fight on 2 lb test line and my Frabill ice fishing rod. Fishing is truly a 365 day adventure. Thanks for sharing a few minutes of your day at Cappy's Pond.

Friday, November 12, 2010

No Planes No Trains Just An Automobile

This Blog entry is my submission to the Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Blogger Network writing contest.”

Well, it's Black Friday today and (while you are all out shopping for deals) I am partaking in my own special way, sitting on the couch with black sweats, a Chicago Blackhawks sweatshirt and a good cup of coffee (black). A rather nasty sinus headache and cold has put a damper on what was to be a great Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

Twice each year, for Easter and Thanksgiving, my wife Shirley and I travel south from Elgin, IL to the town of Red Bud IL, to visit Shirley's brother and his family. Red Bud is a small and mostly quiet town about 35 miles outside of St. Louis, MO and around 325 miles from Elgin. A great place to visit for an outdoorsman like myself, since Red Bud is located near the town of Baldwin and the Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area. However, in the 11 years I've been traveling down here, I have never made it over to Baldwin and had a chance to tangle with any of the superb fishing that is available there. If I don't start feeling better soon, this trip will again end without a cast. Cappy is not too happy about that!

We started the drive on Wednesday, late in the afternoon, but a little earlier than usual. The trip takes about six hours or so, depending on how many times we stop. Traffic was quite light, for the busiest travel day of the year, and getting out of Chicagoland was easier than in the past. As we made our way south we encountered some extremely heavy rain, frequent lightning and gusty winds. A few times I thought about pulling over to the side of the road, but we pushed ahead. The worst spots were the underpasses, where the water was not as deep, then plowing back into the deeper water after clearing the overpass. We hydroplaned one of those times and I was a bit more cautious after feeling all the wheels of our Chevy Trailblazer leave the road.

The good news was that we never saw a car travelling the wrong way on the famed stretch of I-55 from the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A classic Thanksgiving movie where Neal Page (Steve Martin) tries to get home for Thanksgiving in a snowstorm. If you have never seen the movie, this holiday weekend (and after reading this blog post) would be a perfect opportunity to take the time to see it.

As we drove through the city of Bloomington IL, I was reminded of a snow and ice storm that hit the area, during one of our trips to Red Bud. The traffic wasn't moving at all and Shirley and I decided it would be safer to get off the interstate after seeing multiple cars and semi-trailers in ditches. We saw an eighteen wheeler off in the distance, that was traveling southbound. I figured the road wasn't plowed and the snow cover would give us better traction than the ice, so we opted for the next exit ramp. It was hands clenching the wheel the entire way, but I liked the fact that I didn't have to be concerned about any other cars hitting us, because the road was nearly empty of vehicles. When the road cleared we made our way back to I-55 and contnued safely on our way.

It sometimes makes me wonder why we go through so much, for a little time to spend with family and friends around the holidays. Wouldn't it just be easier to stay home, mail a greeting card, and say that we're not coming this year? Could we save the money from the traveling expenses and buy that new HD TV that I want for Christmas? Those thoughts have crossed my mind, but when you walk through the front door, and are greeted with hugs and smiles from family or friends that you care so deeply about, it makes all the effort in going to see them, worth more than anything in the world. The gift of family and friends is truly the most special part of the holidays, and if I would just start feeling better, I might even get them to share in that special holiday fish or two.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reel Reel Reel Pause Twitch Twitch Pause.....

Stepping out to the garage, I slipped into my old gym shoes, tied on a Husky Jerk Rapala (Perch) and walked 200 yards down the street to the retention pond. A sweatshirt and a pair of jeans was all I needed to keep me warm on Wednesday afternoon. The breeze was light and from the south, giving the water a nice ripple and blowing some of the falling leaves toward the north shore. I started to make a few casts over the submerged weed beds with a reel, reel, reel, pause, twitch, twitch, pause, rhythm. The cadence was taking my jerk bait to optimal depth as I could feel the tops of the weeds ripping from the treble hooks as I retrieved each cast. Experience told me that I was going to catch a good one if I was patient and continued to stay on course.

I only had an hour and a half or so and Bryan would be getting home from school so time wasn't on my side. I continued fishing in and around the weeds, and when I managed to snag a few of them, was surprised to see how green they were. Other observations were made. The pond is quite low (for this time of the year) and concern is starting to set in that we might have a fish kill this winter, if it doesn't rain soon.

Cast after cast, twitch, twitch, pause, reel, reel, reel, pause, but I was losing confidence that my technique was going to pay off. Then, right on the pause I felt something different and I pulled back on the rod and set the hook. Fish on! At first I wasn't aware of the size of the fish, as it swam towards me and headed for the surface. I dropped the rod low to keep the largemouth from breaking water and succeeded to that point. The weight now felt hefty and I thought it would all be over soon. It was, but not the way I envisioned it. The bass must not have been hooked good enough and when I dropped the rod down toward the water it must have jostled loose and came free. The bass was gone.

I fished another fifteen minutes or so before calling it a day, returning home for Bryan. After not fishing for a few weeks, it just fueled the fire to go fishing again today. I will be heading over for another round around 3:00, with hope of another tussle with a good largemouth. This will be the last nice afternoon before the big cold front comes through and shuts things down again for a few days. Twitch, twitch, pause, reel, reel, reel, pause...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Call of Duty : Black Ops....Ahead of the Game!

You're probably wondering where this post is headed after seeing the title, but I can assure you that somehow I'll be writing about fishing. The perfect week of weather we are experiencing in Chicagoland is making me stir crazy. Temps are pushing 70 degrees and there isn't a cloud in the sky, and I haven't been able to wet a line in over two weeks. I really need to set my priorities.

I am going to take Bryan to NIU tonight to see the Huskies battle Toledo in a MAC conference football showdown that should decide the conference champion. A nationally televised game with a packed crowd at the "Dog House" will add to the overall excitement of the evening. We are both looking forward to a victory! Go NIU!

Right now I am waiting for UPS to deliver the new Call of Duty : Black Ops video game for the Wii to my front door. The plan is to get a few hours of practice on Black Ops before the nephews come home from school. There is a chance I could actually level up a few times before I play them and not get my butt kicked. I know that it is just a dream, and after a few days I won't stand a chance, but it's worth a try.

The thought crossed my mind that if I can learn how to play their game maybe I can get them to play mine. My nephews all like to fish and I enjoy taking them out on the water and spending time with them, but only Tyler has taken fishing to the next level. He has developed a passion for angling that is much deeper than the others. I think I'll challenge the rest of them to a duel. If I beat them in Black Ops they have to spend a day fishing with me on the river. Sounds like a win win to me except I have to find time to get better than them at this video game. Today is that day. Wish me luck!

Some food for thought......If we share with our kids their passion for gaming, and connect on their level, we might just get them to join us for a little outdoor gaming of our own.

Thanks for visiting Cappy's Pond. Take a kid fishing, and remember that you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Scruffy is always ready to go fishing.

Our four legged companion is named Scruffy, a three year old Jack Russell Terrier who has every bit the energy of most 3 year old children. He is a great friend, and always at my side. Sometimes too much at my side. As I am writing this he is dropping his football at my feet, calling for a play action pass.

Scruffy loves to go fishing as you can see from this photo but sometimes he doesn't even make it out of the garage before he is in the boat. A hunting dog he is not, unless you count the birds, squirrels and rabbits that frequent his back yard. Crying at the patio door he has to let each of them know who is in charge and chases them out of his territory. Hope you enjoyed this photo of our little JRT!

Full Circle

This November 17TH will mark the one year anniversary of Cappy's Pond. In the last year I have changed the name of the blog a few times, changed the look of the blog a few times, and changed the location of the blog a few times. One thing however has remained the same, my love of fishing and the enjoyment of sharing those experiences with you.

Since being released from my previous place of employment in August of 2009, I have wondered where life's new road will take me. Job interviews have been few, and when I have managed to get that far, have fallen way short of expectations. On the morning after mid-term elections, I remain confident that this economy will turn around, providing once again a means to support my family.

The silver lining in all of this, is that I have been fortunate enough to have found a passion other than fishing, and that is writing about it. Since joining the Outdoor Blogger Network in mid October, I have gained many new readers to Cappy's Pond. I welcome all of you, and in return have enjoyed reading many of your blogs that I never knew existed.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of Cappy's Pond I wanted to share an excerpt from one of my previous posts. I wouldn't be here writing this if it wasn't for Dad. His love for fishing and the patience to share it with us, has made my life more than I ever hoped it could be. So here is a little bit of that post to convey to my new readers how Cappy's Pond all got started.....

[ Some day I will have to do some digging to find the video tape my mother has of me opening my first tackle box. It was filmed on an old super 8 movie camera with no sound, but yes, it's in color and I'm not that old. Mom later converted all our movies on to video and added some cheesy background music to them. I haven't watched them for quite awhile, and I think it's time to entertain Shirley and Bryan with a night at the old house, watching some classic movies of a kindergarten kid in checkered (or were they striped?) pants.

The tackle box was made by Plano, a dark green hard plastic, with one white tray, and a clasp at the front . I sat on the patio and opened it up, remembering to this day the items inside. There was a new Zebco 202 reel, a hand held gray telescope, a few Mr. Twister spinner packages, and a couple of Beetle Spins. Also included were a package of red and white floats and some Eagle Claw hooks. By the look on my face in the video, and the shaking of my arms up and down, (with lures in hand) you would've thought that my parents just gave me the world. I wasn't aware of it at young age of five or six, but they did just that.

Thirty seven years later, on the 22ND anniversary of my fathers passing, I find myself thinking of that little green tackle box and all that was given to me inside. It was full of so much more! Items can be lost, worn out, or replaced, but the memories of that moment and the ones that were created from it, will be a part of me forever.]

Cappy's Pond will soon come full circle. One year of writing, posting and sharing fishing memories with all of you. I couldn't be more pleased with the year of fishing and blogging that I have had, and I am looking forward to blogging well into the future. Dad is with me each and every time I hit the water. Through Cappy's Pond I know that most of you will be there too!

You can follow me on twitter @ cappyspond. If you are on facebook you can join our group page listed as Cappy's Pond, and remember you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Friday, October 29, 2010

So Many Lakes & Rivers... So Little Time

Over my forty plus years of fishing I have been quite lucky to have traveled to some of the finest fishing destinations in North America. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites over those years, and to look ahead at the places I'd still like to cast a line, even if only to fish for a day or two.

There are so many lakes and so little time that I wonder how I managed to catch as many fish in as many locations as I have. The people that surround me, grant me those opportunities and to them I am forever grateful. My family and friends understand what fishing means to me, and fear from knowing what I would be like without it.

Each year I try to plan as many trips as I can, but vacation time, raising a son, and financial obligations cut into the amount of days I can dedicate to fishing. Many of these destinations have become repeat trips year after year, making it even harder to travel to new locations. So here is a few of my favorite places to fish. I hope you can make time to experience these special waters.

Alaska - I don't think it matters where you fish, or what you are after here, the scenery will make any day of fishing one to remember. We spent our day deep trolling for pacific salmon in Ketchikan. A picture perfect day.

Seal River, Manitoba - About six hundred and fifty miles north of Winnipeg this home to the arctic grayling, northern pike, walleye & lake trout is a true fisherman's paradise. Moose, bears, wolves and eagles, added to the excellent fishing. A wilderness fly-in that will never be forgotten.

Lake of the Woods, Ontario - I have been to Lake of the Woods a number of times, and I love the diverse fishery that it provides for any angler. Crappie, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, lake trout and muskie. Around every corner of this famed lake is another unique experience. I'll be back there again soon!

Wolf River, Wisconsin - This river is home to the town of Fremont, "the white bass capital of the world" and for good reason. Each spring hundreds of thousands of white bass migrate up river to their spawning grounds. If you time your trip right to the Wolf it is the fastest fishing action you will ever see.

Pelican Lake, Orr, Minnesota - Our family has been vacationing at Pelican long before I was born. An action packed fishery with some of the best largemouth and smallmouth fishing in northern Minnesota. Pan fish abound in this beautiful lake. Pelican holds a special place in my heart. Take your family, and when you return, tell us about it.

The problem with being a fishing fanatic is that there just isn't enough time to fish all the places that we'd like to. I am no exception to this rule. Here is a few destinations, where a few casts would certainly be appreciated, hopefully before too long.

The Florida Keys - I can only imagine what it would be like to wade the flats and cast a fly ahead of a cruising bonefish. This is one that has to be experienced!

Ireland - The one overseas place I would love to visit because of my Irish heritage and the beautiful pictures I have seen. I'm sure I could find a few places to fish while I'm there. Wouldn't you?

Lake Okeechobee, Florida - I love bass and the bigger the bass the better. Give me a big white spinnerbait with double willow leaf blades and let me cast "The Big O". I might not return to Illinois until sometime next spring.

Blackfoot River, Montana - I think this is one place I wouldn't mind being lost, then I would never have to return. We have all seen the movie "A River Runs Through It" if you haven't go watch it right now!

Lac Seul, Ontario, - Walleye are all over this huge body of water. I think this will be a trip forthcoming soon. A great fishery for numbers of fish. Can I go wrong with this lake for my son Bryan's first Canadian fishing trip? I don't think so.

How come every single time that I sit down and share my thoughts with you I want to go fishing? Do I do that to you too? I certainly hope so. I think it's time to start planning our next trip. Where do you think we should go? Wherever it will be, I am sure it will be right where we belong.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thoughts That Blew In From Somewhere

For most of us, life is a constant change from day to day. We roll with these changes as best we can, enjoying the highs, dealing with the lows and somehow we manage to level out once in a while.

Today, Chicago was awaken by a powerful storm that made us all feel a little bit smaller in relation to the bigger picture. I received a phone call around 7:00 AM, that woke me from my slumber. My nephew Tyler (who is becoming quite the fisherman) told me about the tornado sirens that were blaring in his neighborhood. I only live a mile or so away, so I was quite surprised that I didn't hear them at all. Maybe it was the rain that was pounding against my living room windows at such a force that I couldn't hear them, or was I off in some peaceful dream catching another crappie or bluegill from a submerged tree?

I quickly grabbed my family and headed for a safer part of the house, waiting for the storm to subside. Within a few moments the rain had stopped, the wind let up a bit, and the all clear was posted. There was no damage to my home or anyone around us but the "what if" segments have played back in my head a few times throughout the day.

Life is like that sometimes. It kind of slaps you, when it needs to, and reminds us who we are, where we have been and where we are going. I'm glad that it does. Wouldn't we find life a rather boring place to be if it didn't shake us up once in a while? I know I would.

We roll on again after a morning like today, taking a piece of it with us, leaving a piece of it behind. Just as we do every time we go fishing, on our favorite river, lake or pond. To me fishing is that leveled out time of our lives, the one constant that pulls it all together and allows us to roll with these changes. It is always there for us, like a mother to a child, and a master to his dog. Providing a space for those of who love the outdoors and fishing. Keep on rolling!

Please join our Facebook group at Cappy's Pond, and thanks for reading. Please share the link with family and friends who love to fish. -Cappy-

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Apple Tree, Fried Shrimp & Perch

Saturday was one of those days you never look forward to, but once it's over you're glad you were there to experience it. The morning started early, with a drive to drop off Shirley at the hospital, where she works in outpatient registration, followed by Bryan's basketball game back here in Elgin. We won the game 22-14 but only had six kids that were able to make it, so it was a little tough to keep five fresh sets of legs on the floor. Nonetheless we have two wins in two games so we'll take it. After basketball we went out for breakfast with my mom and step dad, who came out to watch Bryan, then headed home for a quick stop to let out Scruffy.

After taking care of our jack russell terrier we got back in the car and headed to Cabela's to exchange a few shirts I had bought the night before. I think Cappy's mid section is filling in a bit, watching an endless supply of football and hockey, while probably not fishing as many hours as I should. With a little bit of luck I will be able to sell that excuse to Shirley and free up more time to be out wading the river.

On the road again, we headed in to Chicago to help my aunt Rita trim her dwarf (not if you seen it) apple tree. My brothers met us there and within about four and a half hours we had trimmed the tree back from the power and phone lines, and cleaned up all the debris. As my family and I always do, we made the most of the time together, with good conversation, some great laughs, and a few tasty beers to wash it all down.

Aunt Rita asked if we would stay for dinner, and we all agreed that after some hard work and calorie burning it was a good idea to refuel before heading home. Hagen's Fish Market is just down the street from my aunt's house, and one of our favorite places for fried shrimp and perch. I took the short ride with aunt Rita to pick up the food, looking around the store at the fresh fillets, smoked fish, and special sauces and seasonings that make Hagen's a special place in Chicagoland. The business opened in 1946 and is still owned and operated by the same family, now third generation. Hagen's Fish Market has the only remaining indoor hardwood smokehouse left in Chicago. If you are going to pay a visit to Chicago you have got to experience a few pounds of fried shrimp and perch the Hagen's way.

We enjoyed our dinner, said good night to aunt Rita, and rolled out the door. On the way home I thought to myself, I might be going back to Cabela's to exchange those shirts for the second time.

Please join our Facebook group at Cappy's Pond and remember that you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Name Change to Cappy's Pond!

Cappy's Blog - Stories from an American Angler will be permanently changing the name to Cappy's Pond - Stories from an American Angler. The search engines were picking up other Cappy's Blogs and I didn't like being on the second page for a search of Cappy's Blog. This should help to clarify things a bit. If you have Cappy's Pond -Stories from An American Angler listed on your blog roll please make the change when you get a chance. Thank you again for your support.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Suick In The Air

I shot this picture from my cell phone camera October 3rd, during the 22ND Annual Greater Wisconsin Muskie Tournament, St. Germain, WI. The photo was taken with a Sprint LG camera/phone and is the original photo just as it was shot. I was taking pictures of the sun coming up over the trees and fog. I did not know that I caught the suick in mid air until reviewing the photo later that morning. I think this is my brother Kevin's suick which he proceeded to catch a 39 inch muskie only a few casts later. He finished in 7Th place for the tournament. It is quite an impressive shot considering the events of the day. I hope you like it!

Remembering The Beginning - From The Godfather.

My first godchild Danny, is having another birthday tomorrow, and I seemed to have misplaced the years that have passed since he was born. I'm certain that it was just yesterday when my sister Cindy and husband Mike asked Christina (my first wife) and I to be the godparents for their new baby boy. We both were very proud and honored to be chosen for this important role, and to this day he will always hold a special place in my heart. Cindy & Mike named him Danny, after my father, for he was the first boy born into the family. A perfect tribute to dad, and our grandfather.

I'm not going to sit here and write a long story and tell you all the funny things that Dan (that's what he likes to be called now) has done over the years, but rather show you in a few pictures, why I am so proud to be his godfather. Happy 19th Birthday Dan! Wishes for you for the best year ever. Keep giving life the best that you can, and you will be rewarded.


Uncle Kirk

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cappy's Blog Joins The Outdoor Blogger Network!

About a week ago I received a Facebook invitation to join the Outdoor Blogger Network. I hit the like button, just as I do for any group that pertains to fishing and the outdoors. I read the description, clicked over to their web page and browsed around a bit, stopping abruptly when I saw "Submit Your Blog For The Directory Today". Within a few minutes I had done just that and my blog has now found a permanent home.

Within the last year I have worked very hard at getting Cappy's Blog to a prominent position within the blogosphere. I have published posts on two separate locations to try and drum up a few more readers. Most of you have been following the blog from this location, but I have also posted the blog on WordPress at Cappy's Pond. I will continue to do this for some time because I feel it will extend my readership to different demographics throughout the web. However, I have already noticed a spike in page views since joining the Outdoor Blogger Network, a place where people will go to read blogs about fishing and the outdoors, instead of stumbling upon my blog while searching for other interests and never staying to read a full post.

So it is with great appreciation for what is being started here at the OBN that I invite you to take a look for yourself at the Outdoor Blogger Network!

Please join our Facebook group at Cappy's Pond, and thank you, as always, for stopping by and sharing a few minutes of your day with us.

Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

River Woes

Tuesday, after Bryan went off to school and Shirley had gone to work, I decided to hit the river for a few hours of fishing. I tried a section of the Fox that I hadn't fished for quite some time, hoping to find a few white bass and smallies to do battle. Reports from around town had told me to try an area a little further down river than I normally fish and that the white bass were schooling down there.

I parked the car, got in my waders, tied on a new spinner and hit the water. With the air temps in the upper 70's the water felt cool on the legs but not like it should for the middle of October. I made a few casts, snagged a few floating leaves and had a small (and I mean small) white bass hit the spinner right at the end of my fourth cast. OK! So far so good. After another 50 casts I realized this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.

Wading down river for the next two hours I managed to catch two smallies and two largemouth none of which had exceeded 8 inches in length. I circled up the other side of the river and saw nothing other than a few carp swimming carelessly over the shallow rocks. Where have all of the fish gone? A good question is sometimes followed up by a good answer.

For the last sixteen years I have been chasing smallies, walleye, white bass and crappie in the Fox river from Elgin to Montgomery, IL. There have been numerous days in those sixteen years of twenty-five plus smallmouth bass on spinners and small twisty tail jigs. I remember a June evening where I caught six good walleye casting from shore to the middle of the river with a plain Fuzzy Grub jig. Catfish would always hit my spinners and jigs, and I snagged a carp almost every time I would wade. Freshwater drum, an occasional muskie or northern pike would always join in on the action.

In the last five years the fishing on the Fox has steadily declined, and I'm betting that I know the reason why. The reconstruction of bridges, parks, and buildings have taken it's toll along the river. Some of these changes were needed and the cities have done a great job to limit the destruction of natural habitat, by replacing rocks after construction, adding wing dams and returning native plants along the edges of the river. But with everything in nature it takes time to re-create what has been lost.

A reconstruction project such as the one at Elgin's Walton Island took a few years to be completed and the long term effect on the fishery may be just starting to show up now. The riverbed, banks, rock walls, pilings etc. were all changed and the larvae and small insects that lived beneath them were disturbed to say the least. The replaced structures take years before all the algae growth returns. Algae that is needed to sustain life along the river. One or two years of disturbed spawning habitat near bridges or dams could cause a long term effect on the numbers and size of fish.

The Stearns road project that is nearing its two year completion, consisted of building a new four lane bridge over the river about a mile and a half south of the existing South Elgin dam. With about six more miles of river below the construction site, until the Saint Charles dam, it is potentially blocking the migration of fish northward into South Elgin. Fish that would travel north during normal to high water stages have been turned away by the constant noise of construction and the changes to their natural habitat.

In spring of 2010 illegal dumping of toxic chemicals was reported in South Elgin, IL. Fish were found dead along a creek that flows into the Fox just north of the town dam. There is no doubt that many fish were lost during this illegal dumping, and who knows just how long it was going on.

Catch and release has always been a priority amongst the many local fisherman who wade the Fox river. These anglers have witnessed time and time again, the removal of undersized fish, and catch and release only species that were taken illegally from the river. State of Illinois cutbacks from the Department of Natural Resources in recent years have limited both the manpower that patrols the Fox, and the funds for additional signs, education, and public awareness. These cutbacks are also having a negative impact on the river.

Although there is great concern for the future of the fishery along the Fox, I believe that we will once again see the return of numbers of fish in Elgin and South Elgin. Once the reconstruction projects are complete and the State of Illinois budget is restored, the river will return to being one of the best places to fish in Northern Illinois. For now, I will continue to enjoy my time on the river, without the crowds, and prepare for the good ole days that lie ahead.

Please join my Facebook group at Cappy's Pond, or register to follow this blog on the right side of this page. I thank you as always for reading the posts and sharing it with friends and family. Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water. -Cappy-

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cold Front Muskies In the Fog

We arrived at the boat landing a little after 6:30 am on Saturday morning, dressed in multiple layers and a wind whipped drizzle. The outside air temperature was in the low to mid 30′s and our Evinrude 120 V4 took a little extra time before it was warmed up and ready to leave the launch. Our fishing team (we were # 99 “The Great One”) consisted of the Cahill brothers (Kevin, Keith, Kirk) and a good friend of Kevin, Walter Zimmerman. Four people in a boat can be tough when throwing large baits for muskie, but with years of practice we have become quite efficient at making the most of the tight quarters.

The first obstacle we had to overcome was the mildew smell that had permanently entrenched itself within my rain gear. The 17 foot Lowe boat that we own, was stored outside for a few weeks near Kevin’s cabin. Numerous days of rain had seeped into my gear and had created quite a stench. At least I didn’t have to take a shower for the rest of the weekend, I could just blame it on the rain suit.

We started to fish not far from the launch site and noticed that most of the weeds were still quite green. Knowing that muskie will be relating to these green weeds, we were quite positive that we would see some fish, and we did. A small fish under 30inches took a swipe at my Buchertail just after I completed my figure 8 and was removing the bait from the water. I missed him but it gave us the confidence that we were doing the right thing and that patience was going to be the key.

After a few drifts through the weeds with no takers we decided to move out to some mid lake points and deeper structure. The rain was spotty and the sun now made its way in and out of the showers for the better part of the morning. Our team continued to work the deeper weed line throwing Bull Dawgs or Curly Sue’s and our favorite, the Suick over and along the weed line. Occasionally we would work the inside edge of the weed beds looking for active fish, and again we found no muskie. Knowing that we had been fishing in prime muskie waters for the body of water we were fishing, we concluded that the fish were not aggressively feeding. It would be a difficult task to catch a fish under these cold front conditions.

The rain was gone now and the wind continued to blow. Air temperatures now were around 45 degrees with high pressure building in behind the front. Kevin said we should go back near the landing to the shallow weeds and give them another try. It was the only place we had seen any action at all, so we all agreed. Keith made a few casts again with a Suick and had a mid 40′s fish blow up on the bait just after he made his first jerk. The muskie missed the lure completely and the team was quite deflated, but had reason for hope, we again had sighted a muskie in the shallow water. We fished until the end of tournament hours (7:00 pm) returned to the cabin and regrouped for the next morning.

Sunday came and we awoke to a heavy fog that had settled in among the warm water lakes. The four of us have fished enough times for muskie to know that the low light conditions with the fog were optimal for any chance for success. We started casting again around the landing and the shallow cover. I was taking a few pictures of the sunrise over the top of the fog when a muskie slammed Kevin’s Suick and he belted out “Fish!” After a few good runs and a dive into the weeds the muskie made its way to our Beckman net. Now we had to find a boat to verify our catch. Walter had heard a boat about a hundred yards away from us and we headed in that direction until we came upon them. Kevin’s muskie was measured at 39 inches and released after a few quick pictures.

After the measurement and signature on our slip, we parted ways with the other boat and headed back towards where we had caught the fish. Within 15 minutes we heard the other boat yelling and slapping high fives over another muskie. We knew they were excited and with good cause, in fifteen years in the tournament they had never boated a legal muskie. This was a big moment for team #102 and muskie fisherman Todd Klingaman. They made their way over to us and we measured and verified the 40 inch muskie and watched its release back into Big Arb.

Our window of opportunity was now quickly fading away as the sun began to burn off the remaining fog. We tried a few different locations to give ourselves a lucky chance but the high pressure and clear blue sky would make our remaining hours quiet ones. After all the slips were tallied and the winners were awarded their trophies, only 4 fish had been caught on Big Arbor Vitae and we were witnesses to two of them. I guess we were doing something right. Weren’t we? Of the 250 fisherman spread across 10 lakes in the region, there were 21 muskie caught and released. I know the next time we encounter conditions similar to what we had last weekend I’ll be holding on a little tighter waiting for another cold front muskie in the fog.

Please join our Facebook group @ Cappy’s Pond and on twitter @ cappyspond.

You can’t catch any fish if your line isn’t in the water!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angler of Next Week!

I just wanted to give some props out to Andrew Ragas of the Fishing Headquarters for his nice 51 inch Musky he caught today 9/29/2010. I am sure we will be reading and hearing about this one for some time. When I catch mine it will be worse. Congratulations on a great fish! I will give him the Angler of the Week honors for next week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Live Bait Tip

I made a trip to Gander Mountain yesterday morning, to get some minnows and some other tackle for my upcoming musky tournament next weekend. Looking around the store, I noticed the new displays of ice fishing gear that were being set up for the fall/winter season. Hard to believe that winter is on its way when the temperature outside was pushing 90 degrees. I figured on going fishing in the Fox river a little later on in the day so I was in the mood to load up the cart again. Not something that Shirley would want to hear when I'm still trying to find a job to pay for my fishing hobby.

The local bait store in town closed its doors at the end of July (another victim in this endless recession) and since then I haven't used any live bait in the Fox until this week. On Tuesday, feeling the need to start fishing for walleye again, I decided to get some minnows, head to the river and find out where all the fish have been hiding. One of the gas stations in town had minnows in oxygenated bags for $1.59 for 6 large fatheads or 10 small fatheads. Better than driving all over for minnows I thought, not knowing the smell that would emanate from the bags upon opening. The store clerk gave me a discount, for a few of the minnows had seen better days, and as I walked out the store I promised myself it would be the last time I purchase live bait from a gas station.

So here I was on a Thursday at Gander Mountain getting some minnows and tackle and realizing that the "superstore" had run Don out of his little bait shop and clear out-of-town. It doesn't make you want to spend your money at Gander Mountain but I was limited by my options at this point. There is another bait store on the north side of Elgin but it is not exactly close to me and road construction will make it seem even further away. All this chatter is leading to something I promise.

I purchased a Min-O2-Life Magnum bait bucket made by Frabill it comes with a battery operated aerator, insulated walls and a lid. Now when I make the trip to the bait shop across town or to Gander Mountain, I can get enough bait for a few days of fishing and can keep it alive until I get home. Once home I switch the battery operated aerator to one I had for my old fish tank and plug it in the wall outlet. This should keep them alive at least a few days (I will let you know) and save me a few trips to the bait store. One side note to that is as the weather gets cooler the minnows should last longer. Last winter I kept my small minnow bucket in my garage for a week and all my minnows (a few dozen) were still alive from the last weekends ice fishing trip. Frabill always has new and innovative fishing products that can help make your fishing trips better than ever.

I am confident that this will be a formidable solution to my bait store problem, at least until I can find enough money to open my own store in South Elgin. Wait! How then will I find the time to go fishing? I don't think that is very good option at all for someone with a hobby like mine. Sometimes the water always looks better to fish from the other side of the lake, if you know what I mean.

Remember that you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water. Please join me on Facebook at Cappy's Pond or on the web @ Comments on my blog sites are welcomed or you can e-mail me @

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lucky In Love and Bearings...

My brother Keith called me on the way over to my house last Sunday with our boat in tow. The trailer was making some noise while he was driving and he was concerned about it. Upon his arrival we took a few laps around the block to give a listen and we both agreed we had a wheel bearing starting to fail. Not the kind of thing you want to hear when you are leaving Monday morning for a 335 mile trip to go fishing. I had a birthday party to attend that afternoon for my nephew Johnny, so I planned to start to work on the trailer the next morning, delaying my departure to go catch a few crappies.

Shirley (my wife) and Scruffy (my dog) were quite disappointed to hear the news about the trailer as they were both very excited about getting away for a 5 day trip to the north woods. After jacking up the trailer I decided to watch a few videos on YouTube showing how to replace and/or repack trailer bearings. Good thing I did, because I quickly learned a few tips and pointers to make the job a little easier and saved myself a few headaches and some vacation time. It always helps to have the right tools for the job, and in this case I was missing a few along the way.

The big mistake that I made was thinking that the left wheel was where the noise was coming from and in fact it was the right wheel bearings. Oh well, once I saw that the left side wasn't damaged I knew I would be replacing both sides. Trying to save money and time I only purchased bearings for the one side. Back to the store for more parts, only to find they didn't have another set of bearings. Shirley was kind enough to go to a few other stores to track down the parts for me, returning just before evening. If you have never had the pleasure of removing 20 year old wheel bearing races from your trailer hubs it is something you must experience. Especially when the seals leaked and the bearing races were rusted. I was lucky we noticed it before being in the middle of nowhere.

We finally left on Tuesday at noon for our trip to St. Germain WI. The weather was perfect for driving and we made the trip in about five and a half hours. I went to unhook the trailer from our 2006 Chevy Trailblazer when I noticed transmission fluid all over the chains. We decided to call it a night and we would have it looked at in the morning. Shirley made a good dinner for us and we relaxed for the evening.

The next morning we drove the truck over to Parsons of Eagle River (Chevy, Buick) and had them take a look at the transmission. The service department was busy, but great, and they drove us into town for some breakfast. I knew it would be a few hours before they had a chance to look at it, so Shirley and I spent the afternoon walking around Eagle River in a steady drizzle, window shopping and a visit to the Depot Museum. Parsons called us early afternoon to tell us they had found the trans fluid had come from the overflow not the seal, and it may have been overfilled. We were told not to worry but recommended a transmission flush and fill when we got home as a precaution, and to check for any debris in the fluid.

We arrived back at the cabin late Wednesday afternoon to a steady rain. I took Scruffy for a walk and quickly returned to the comforts of the indoors, after a few lightning bolts and some loud rumbles of thunder. No fishing on this day, and another great night of relaxing with my wife and dog in the cabin. A pork chop dinner and a couple of good beers while watching Prince Poppycock try to win America's Got Talent. The rain continued into the late night and we went to bed with the sound of heavy rain hitting the skylight in the kitchen.

Scruffy woke me up early on Thursday morning for his walk. We went about 2 miles down the road and back with the squirrels chattering and jumping from tree to tree wondering what he we were doing in their neighborhood. The rain had ceased now but the wind was blowing from the northeast with a full cloud cover. Shirley won't fish in this but I was hopeful that it would brighten up by noon.

The weather got a little brighter and the wind eased a bit so we decided to launch the boat for the remainder of the afternoon. It was around 1:00pm when we started to fish and we had plans to go out for dinner that evening so I knew we only had until 5:30 before having to return to the launch site. We drifted the upper east bay of Little Saint Germain lake with crappie minnows under a split shot rig and after trying a few different locations we managed to find a few takers. The crappies were all between 9 to 11 inches. Not huge but perfect for eating. Shirley continued to catch them on the bottom while I suspended a slip float with a Cubby mini-mite jig. The bites were quite light and the float was the key to get them to hang on to the minnow a little longer. We ended up with a good mess of crappies by 5:30pm and headed back to the launch, packed up the boat and returned to the cabin. It was the only fishing we did for the week, having to leave Friday morning for home.

Our dinner at the Pub-n-Prime was very good as usual and we enjoyed the few days together relaxing in spite of the weather and the car/trailer repairs. I am quite lucky to have met Shirley and have the wonderful marriage that we have. It wasn't the best vacation I could have planned for her, but we did what we could afford with me being unemployed and the availability of my brother Kevin's cabin. I always said that fishing isn't about catching fish. It's about the time you share together with family and friends fishing, and on this trip with Shirley that was certainly no exception.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ice Fishing - Get Prepared Now!

I know most of you still have plenty of open water fishing left to do this year (myself included), but it isn't too early to be preparing your hard water equipment for the upcoming ice fishing season. Here are a few reasons to start early, and it will save you a few headaches and some frozen fingers come winter.

Auger maintenance is the first thing on my list. Whether you are using a power auger or a hand cranking model it is important to check your blades and make sure they are sharpened. Nothing is worse than trying to drill a good clean hole in the ice with a dull blade. Also be sure to give that power auger a good test and tune-up before it is too late. You can take it in to your local dealer now and still get it back in time for ice up.

The next thing I like to do is head to my favorite tackle store and start refilling the tackle bag with enough ice fishing jigs, line, tools and accessories to last me well into the season. The stores are stocking the equipment now and if you wait too long most of the good items will be gone. Waiting for your favorite style jigs to come in while the "first ice" bite is on can make your hair fall out. Trust me on this one. Have you seen my profile picture? I am wearing a hat for a reason.

Check your boots. With the great quality of insulated boots we have on the market today, these should last you quite awhile but it is worth a look to see if the soles are worn, stitching is loose, or if they need to be sprayed with a water-repellent to keep them in top-notch condition. You hunters have probably done this already, but the fishing only anglers need to take the time. Wet, cold feet can ruin even the best hard water bite.

Go out to the garage and open up the portable ice shanty and see if it needs any repair. Check the bottom, top, and sides for any rips in the seams. These can easily be fixed now and keep the rips from getting worse later. Check the poles, springs, ropes, carpet, depending on what style you have. We have had our shelter for a number of years and a little maintenance can keep them in great condition for many seasons.

There are other items that need to be checked also. Your electronics need to be checked and tested. Battery terminals and connections should be cleaned of any corrosion now, so you don't have them fail while you are jigging over your favorite crappie hole. Fire up the portable heater and make sure it is in working order. Have you checked the elements in your lantern? Do you have any spares?

For you snowmobilers, you better get your sleds tuned-up and running early to avoid any delays at the repair shop once the snow starts to fall.

Enjoy the rest of the open water season. I know I will, but it is never too early to be thinking of the great ice fishing season that is ahead of us. A little preparation now can mean a whole lot of success this winter.

I will be heading to Saint Germain, WI on Monday with my wife Shirley for some early fall crappie fishing and maybe a musky or two. Looking forward to some great fishing, and a few good dinners too! Will be posting pictures on our Facebook site at Cappy's Pond and on or on

Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Top 10 Reasons For Fishing Today!

(#10) Honey do list. If you go fishing today you can put that off till next weekend!

(#9) If you are out fishing, someone else has to clean the grill.

(#8) Relatives, need I say more.

(#7) My brother Kevin needs an excuse from having to paint the cabin.

(#6) I have no's all I can afford to do.

(#5) Fried Fish tastes real good!

(#4) It's a great way to spend time with the kids.

(#3) Cappy's pond needs new photo's.

(#2) It's the Labor Day weekend!

(#1) Your boss called and said you could have tomorrow off!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Touch of Fall

It is hard to believe that the beginning of September has crept upon us, but it is definitely here to stay. Most of the kids are back in school and the rest of them will be starting next week. I wish all of the students a good start to the new school year, and continued success throughout the coming months. Football practice has begun in our high schools and many have already played their first games of the new season. The sounds of the Big Ten (or is it 12?) and MAC conference marching bands will be filling college stadiums on saturday afternoons. Fall has arrived.

A Canadian goose (although he probably resides right here in Elgin, IL) just flew past the back window and reminded me that no matter what the outside temps are reading, nature instinctively knows that fall is approaching. Shorter days (and hopefully) cooler nights will bring brilliant colors to our north woods, delicious apples ready for picking, and golden sunsets across the farm fields of the midwest.

The waters of our lakes and streams will start to cool from the hot summer days and the fish who reside in them will put on their feed bags to store much-needed fat for the coming winter. A doe will stop at a trickling stream to take a drink, but only for a moment, as a buck chases her back into the thicket. Squirrels are busy running up and down the oak trees, gathering and storing acorns for the long winter ahead. It is a busy time of the year for everyone.

I am looking forward to the coming fall. My son Bryan is back in school and will have too much homework to tell me that he is bored. Shirley, my wife, will be working more hours than she can handle between all her jobs. My time will be spent continuing to look for a job, coaching youth basketball, playing chauffeur, and fishing.

If you haven’t gone fishing in a while, now is the time to do so. After the last holiday weekend of the summer, the lakes will be clear of the pleasure boats and the fisherman will return for a good chance at a trophy. Some of the best fishing of the year will take place in the next couple of months. Salmon will return to the spawning areas to complete their life cycle, crappies will school up in big numbers making themselves easy to locate with your electronics. Walleye will be on the move and willing to bite again in your favorite rivers. Of course the classic musky period known as “the fall bite” will quickly be here. Large and small mouth bass will reach maximum weights before the icy water temps arrive. So grab your gear and go fishing.

Shirley and I will be traveling up to Vilas Co. WI to give her some needed rest and relaxation. Morning walks with Scruffy, our jack russel terrier will be first on the list, followed by some afternoon sightseeing for fall colors. Maybe even a little evening crappie fishing might also be on tap. Please don’t tell Shirley about the crappie fishing…it’s a surprise. I hope everyone has a fantastic fall fishing season and I look forward to posting more articles from my future trips in the weeks ahead. Remember, you can’t catch any fish if your line isn’t in the water!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

July, Summer, and Fishing Memories

July always was my favorite month of the year and this year is no exception. Independence Day is a chance for all of us to remember how lucky we are to be able to have the freedoms we often take for granted. I sit here now in my living room writing to you, enjoying those rights that were secured for me by my forefathers and I am truly proud to be living in this beautiful country.

My late fathers birthday, which has come and gone on the 7th, always makes me think of the summer party that mom would have for both of us and the fun that we would all share. Life is much more complicated now and trying to have a party for Bryan, who turned 9 on the 6th was both an expense we can not afford right now and a difficult one to plan with my wife Shirley working almost everyday. I am hopeful that things will change, jobs will return, and we will once again live a little more comfortably.

My neighbor Mark, made my birthday on the 9th one I will not soon forget. He gave us tickets to the local NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway and I was able to go and watch my favorite race car driver Jeff Gordon try to win for the second time while I was at the track. He finished 3rd but my best friend Rich and I had a great time and I was so lucky to have been able to attend this years race.

Now we are anticipating our summer fishing trip to Orr, Minnesota and a week of great fishing. My brothers Kevin & Keith, Kevin's stepson Noah and Kevin's father in law Jim, my friend Rich and his son Rick, Bryan and I will be heading to Pelican Lake. This is the first year in a long time that the men are going solo, so I am sure it will make for lots of laughs and some interesting moments in the cabin, to say the least. It has been many years since the three brothers have fished together on Pelican and I am sure we are all excited to have the opportunity to share the experience once again.

Summer will move on, the kids will return to school, and I will hold on to the memories of July 2010 until next year rolls around. Today is only the 16th, so I still have a few more great weeks to go in my favorite month of the year!

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Friday, July 9, 2010

The Big 3 for Big Bass!

Most of us dedicated fishermen take the time to study a lake map before we go fishing. I agree that it's well worth the time and a good idea to have a plan of attack when you get out on the water. We all know that locating fish can sometimes be the most difficult part of the trip. For that reason, I like to spend a good amount of time re-checking my tracks after a full day of fishing. I pull out my maps either on-line or my fold-up versions and try to determine why I caught fish from a particular location. In order to do this I use my GPS unit to re-trace the places that I fished, carefully noting the areas, time, and methods that I used to catch them.

Some days it can be a rather simple process. For example, you are fishing for smallies and you notice while reviewing your lake map that you caught all your fish from rocky humps in less than 10ft of water. You make a log (or in my case just file it away in the back of my mind) for the next time I fish that lake under those conditions. Other outings can be much more complex and a little bit harder to figure out. On a fishing trip a few years back we caught largemouths from only a few locations across the lake, and while I was in the boat I was a bit perplexed as to why that was occurring. I took a look at the map later that evening in the cabin and I was able to determine that the points where we caught fish on that day, had a combination of rock, weed, and depths of 5ft or greater right near the shore. We also noticed that the wind was blowing directly at them. We used that information to target the bass the next day and had quite a successful remainder of the week.

In doing this over a period of time and remembering where I caught my biggest bass, I have noticed that three main elements have always been a constant during each of those catches.

The first one is deep water access. Now when I say deep water, it can be the difference of a few feet in a river or pond, or as much as 15ft to 35ft depending on where you are fishing. The key for me has been that big bass like to evacuate to deep water from time to time and they don't like to travel too far or spend too much energy to get there. That's probably why they get so fat! Use your map to find good locations next to deep water and I guarantee you'll catch more big bass.

Our second constant is a little bit harder to determine but if you do your homework you can figure this one out without leaving your map. Big bass need lots of food. Check the map and find out what forage exists in the lake. Not only will that help you to decide what lures to use to catch them, it will also help to determine where the fish will be located at certain times of the year or under varying conditions. No food where your fishing probably means that you will not catch any big bass.

The third key is the most important and not always the most obvious, but big bass need to find and relate to heavy cover. This could be a log, weeds, tree, sunken island, docks or whatever. Find the cover and you'll find the big bass. Big bass won't chase your lure very far so it is critical to cast as accurately as possible, and be ready for the few chances that you do get. These fish don't get to be the biggest bass in the lake by being out in the open water roaming a flat waiting for you to throw them an easy meal. There are exceptions to every rule (smallmouths especially) but the majority of the time big bass will be in heavy cover.

Key in on these three points on your next trip and you will increase your odds of finding and catching big bass. Don't fish with blinders on. Get a good map of the lake before you head to the launch and take the time to study and mark the good locations. It can make all the difference in making it a great day of fishing. Pinpoint the areas where you had success and note the reasons why the fish were there. That will make the process much quicker the next time your out on that body of water. Have a great time fishing and remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water!

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Bass Tip # 1

I thought it was time for me to share with you a few things that I have learned over my 30 something years of chasing after Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. All of us who have been fishing for Bass long enough, know that sometimes you look like a genius on the water and other days you couldn't catch a fish if you threw every lure in your tackle box. It can be quite frustrating at times and I've seen it played out time and time again. But over the years, the bad days have been less frequent than they used to be, and I think I've finally started to understand why this is.

To explain it to you, I have to go back to something I observed while watching my brother Keith fishing for Muskies. During our tournaments that we have fished in, Keith has consistently out fished me in his Muskie angling. I always thought he just had a lucky horseshoe up his (insert your own reference here) but have come to realize that there is a big difference in the way that he works his lures over a particular spot than I do. There have been times when we have worked the exact same lure over an area and I won't see a fish, but he will have all the action. It comes down to only one thing. He works the bait correctly to achieve it's maximum potential. He is in sync with his lure.

Now go back to Bass fishing where I have done the same thing to Keith on a number of occasions. We have fished the exact location with the same bait and I have out fished him more times than not. It relates directly to how I am working the bait over the specific structure or area. What I have surmised through watching all of this is that once you have determined where the location of the fish are, and the mood or strike zone of the fish, it comes down to knowing how to work the lure you are using.

We all have our "go to baits" when things get tough. It may be a spinner bait that can be worked over water fast to locate active fish, or it might be a plastic worm worked over the cover slowly to target inactive Bass. Whatever method you choose, it is the knowledge of how to work that individual bait, that will obtain the best results. That's why we consider that bait as our "go to bait". It is because we know how to work it. By using the lure correctly, and knowing what works, we develop confidence in that bait, and that is the key to consistent success.

When you are out on your favorite body of water, remember to try this tip. Stick to what you know when the bite is slow. This will give you the most confidence, and you will know that you are working the bait correctly. When the bite is on, switch to a lure that you are unfamiliar with and test it to see if you can learn how to correctly work that bait. This will help you to develop other methods and lures that you will build confidence in. The more "go to" baits that you have in your arsenal the better Bass fisherman you will become.

Grab your tackle box, head for your favorite fishing hole, and remember it's not always what lure you use, but how you use your lure. While you're out there, testing and learning about your unfamiliar baits, don't forget you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Who Is To Blame? I Am!

I've been trying to avoid writing this for some time, thinking that if I turned my head and looked away it would all be over. As most of you can see from watching the news each night, or following on the web, this devastation in the Gulf is not going away and will be far more damaging than any of us could imagine. It would be easy for us to sit here in the Midwest and think that the oil spill doesn't mean that much to me, but it in fact, it will have a trickle down effect on the ecosystem that could last well into the next few generations.

Our issues closer to home consist of a term "invasive species" that have altered our lakes rivers and streams in ways we could not have envisioned. The list goes on and on. Water Milfoil, Zebra Mussels, Rusty Crayfish, Asian Carp, to name a few. I would consider oil to be a little invasive too, although it is not considered a "species".

What is most bothersome to me about the oil spill is that I do not blame BP for what has happened but I blame myself for taking part in creating this disaster. As an American I have helped contribute to our continuing demand for oil production. The car I drive, the boat I fish from, the plastics I use, all come from the oil.

The fishing industry in the Gulf, both commercial and for sport, has been decimated by the oil slick. How ironic it is that each and every one of those vessels had to fuel up each day with gas derived from the oil. The oil rig platforms dotted amongst the Gulf were in fact a haven for many different sport fish. Many times I have watched fishing shows where the hottest action was right next to these offshore pilings.

So where do we go from here? I think it's about time that America considers another fuel source that will be far more environmentally friendly than our growing need for oil. There are alternative fuels out there that need to be developed and tested. Alternative "friendly" plastics are already being used, and we can all do our part to recycle as much of the plastic we use as possible.

The next time I'm out on the water and I fire up the V4120 Evinrude and buzz across the lake, or up my favorite river, I'll remember that I took part in creating the BP oil spill of 2010! As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I got to say about that."

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