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.

Cappy's Pond on Youtube