The one that got away

It was a warm muggy June night in Indiana last night. Giant bait had been purchased at our favorite bait shop, #thefishinshedd. In fact tonight’s bait was extra giant. Normally we get some shiners and chubs, and maybe a monster chub. But last night the chubs were HUGE! So two of those babies for twilight and shiners plus some crawlers until dark.

We got out before dusk and found our favorite spot, anchored and put the lines out. First catch was a great chunky channel. Night was starting off well!

The action slowed down after this, but that’s pretty usual for early evening #catfishing on Lake Monroe.

As the sun was beginning to sink past the trees it was time for the big #livebait

Pictures a bit blurry but we went big! Going for a big #flathead. Bruce and I both have bait clickers, #okuma, and they are amazing for our night fishing. Trying to watch your line by dim light is hard on the eyes! We can keep the lights out, no bugs, and enjoy the beautiful night while we listen.

Then it happened, the line with a shiner began clicking…click click click and then steady. Bruce was fast to act but the fish didn’t stay. Then suddenly the other line took off – fast. There was no stopping it. Bruce felt the strength of the fish, knew it was a huge #flathead. He braced himself, turned off the feed and pulled back. The fight was on!

His rod doubled over as he worked the fish towards the boat, it would not move. This was quite a fight to watch! I knew it was a big fish seeing it rod bend in half, it has a strong spine to it and Bruce has to work to bend it. This fish had no problem.

I grabbed the net, which was not going to do us one bit of good. The fish got to the boat and was on the bottom, nestled into whatever brush was on the creek bed under us. Bruce was working it methodically, and carefully bringing it up.

It was still under the boat, he wasn’t sure how we’d actually get a hold of it. Me take the rod? I’d have to so that he could get two hands in it’s mouth and pull. Or do we have our friends 100 yards away pull anchor and come help? It was all happening so quickly.

Then we saw the sinker, the pyramid weight rose on the line as the fish was coming up. I didn’t want to rock the boat as Bruce was fighting this huge amazing fish so I didn’t lean over to look. I regret that I didn’t. The flathead was rubbing the 80 lb #braid along the hull. Oh no! And there was nothing that could be done in the short time this happened.

Then the unthinkable happened. Bruce lifted his pole, he could see the fish’s head. At least 12″ wide and very dark. A wise old amazing fish! And then a snapping sound. His pole went straight. The fish gone into the depths again.

Amazing sadness and yet a rush of adrenaline after his fight, and my witness of all of this. It was incredible.

All that remains is the shred #spiderwire

We’ll be back looking for another monster. This was too good to be true and we have a game plan for what to do differently next time.

There will be a next time!

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Still looking for the 16″ big crappie before it heats up

We’ve been back out on the water, checking all of our fishing spots we’ve been scouting for spawning crappie and especially spawning big crappie.  Our weather has not cooperated this spring, wet, cold and always beautiful during the work week.

This weekend was beautiful (and #mothersday) and warm!  Soon it will be hot and we’ll be switching into #catfish, but we want to keep on pan-fishing for as long as we can.

Last weekend was the first time I got to try something new with our tackle, bobber stops.  Bruce got us some #bobberstops, like these

bobber stop

I think he found them on eBay

Previously we’ve used the traditional knots, which usually work great.  Usually.  We’ve had many fishing days where the knots didn’t work well, unraveling, getting stuck in eyes, slipping through etc.  That’s with using a bead and slip float too.  It was getting frustrating so these bobber stops have been a welcome change.

Bruce loves to jig, so he’s been seeking our wall-hanger crappie with various jigs.  I absolutely love these new stops. They rigged up really easy and stay PUT.  Love that.  I do notice that they sometimes get stuck in the last eye of the rod, especially when I’m fishing shallow.  But when fishing 10-15′ I can set them to the depth I want and they stay where I put them. I can cast easily, they don’t tangle in the line or on the reel (I’m using a #Lews spinning reel most of the time).

We didn’t find any giants but did get two pretty good #crappie from the lake and one really nice channel cat

#channelcat

Spring seems to have arrived, along with the fish

We had the longest winter ever this year, what a relief to finally have the temperatures be back in the upper 60’s and 70’s!  As we’ve watched the air temp rise, and monitored the water temp, its been a slow start to our 2018 fishing season.  The lakes have been hovering around 53-55 degrees and the crappie haven’t really turned on yet, plus every time we’ve had a warm stretch we have another cold snap. So frustrating!  We’ve also had a very wet early sprint and Lake Monroe is up about 10 feet.  Another fishing challenge…

But the red buds have been blooming and last weekend we kicked some #bass!  14 total last weekend, and all good sizes, the #crappie are finally turning on and should really get going now that this week has been spring-like.

 

Highlights from the start of 2018

Fall Bite

Our summer of fishing is almost over, but not just yet – the fall bite has begun! We’ve been able to venture back into other areas of Lake Monroe in search of bigger fish and more variety, now that Labor Day has passed and less lake traffic.

The lake holds large crappie, bass and wipers but finding them in the summer months can be a bit challenging. Last weekend we passed over several HUGE schools of crappie and are planning our next fishing outing to find some slabs! #fallbite #slabs

Why do we do the things we do

Happy Friday!

It was a short work-week for us with the July 4th holiday, but as usual once back at work we entered the week in full force. Every week is in full force, its tiring, mentally exhausting and physically draining.

Which is what reminded me of why we do the things (fishing, hunting, being outdoors) we do?  Our garage “bait” refrigerator reminds me why, I love all the decorations Bruce has found in celebration of fishing. 

The real answer is because it is relaxing, and enjoyable and gets us (and you!) away from the hustle of everyday with all the worries, technology overload and busyness of modern life. Bruce and I spend easily 50+ hours working each week, some weeks the hours are much much higher considering we work in the field of engineering/machinery and IT software development.  By the weekend or vacation time we want to relax and unplug and enjoy our family – unplugged. Even our kids are constantly surrounded by technology, games, phones. Everyone is always “on”, ugh!

This article from the Muse 3 Easy Ways to Unplug inspired me for today’s post.  In other seasons of my life I would be entertaining friends and very social, checking out the local scene downtown,  or going to sporting events in an attempt to unwind.  But, as a true introvert (who has attempted being more out-going), time and again from my childhood through adult years I always gravitated back to enjoying the solitude of the outdoors.

I love fishing in the spring and summer, being outside and on the water, with the rock of the boat and beauty of the lakes we fish…fishing is what resets us after a long week. I love being outside with my boys, fishing or hiking or teaching them about hunting. You can read about birds and trees and geology, but actually seeing the trees, the landscape and foliage or hearing the birds sing, and woodland animal-calls with your own ears is amazing. And as a mother, getting to pass along generations of knowledge and appreciation of the outdoors that my grandparents taught my mom, and they taught me, priceless.

Soon fall and winter will be here, time to switch gears into hunting season and we can enjoy the beauty of the fall colors and autumn air, and with luck this winter…snow!  But until then…

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96: 11-12

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

1 Chronicles 29:11

 

What could be more patriotic?

What could be more patriotic than the 4th of July weekend, fishing and having our country’s emblem for strength and freedom watch over us? This bald eagle sat watch over us on Lake Monroe. It was great! I think he may have had better luck fishing from the tree top birds eye view than we did! Only two channel cats this afternoon. 

Happy Independence Day America!

Persistence paid off

What a beast! After, what…three years of heavily fishing Lake Monroe, a monster flathead. Many thanks to The Fishin’ Shedd for having monster live bait in stock.


This female weighed in around 40lb and was about 37″. It was a bit of a scramble finding a scale for a fish this big! Once weighed and measured Bruce released it back into the lake.

#fishinshedd #flathead #lakemonroe

not an everyday gift from the lake

After many many hours over the past 3 years of putting in our time on Lake Monroe, finally a 16″ crappie!

We had read and heard the tall tales of big fish lurking within the water, but had yet to actually find them. Time and again we would track the schools, watch water temperatures, follow the calendar (including when the Red Bud trees bloom) and always seemed to find smaller fish ranging from 3-6″. Definitely no complaints, and many were great for bringing home to cook, but we were waiting for the big one.

Almost all of our fishing is catch and release, to allow for continued growth and not deplete the waters we fish. This catch though is being saved and will proudly be on display at home. #crappie #lakemonroe

crappie

bring on the smoke

image_03

Bruce designed this based on a variety of factors and ideas, seen from other wood smokers. He wanted one that used only wood, no charcoal/gas/electric heating, and also large enough to smoke a variety of items.

Ours took a couple of weekends, working on and off, to pour the cement base, lay the block foundation, assemble the stove and attach into the foundation, then build the house and add the roof. The stove barrel and hardware for it and the door all came from eBay but the rest we purchased locally at Menards. This is a labor of love for us, we did it all and are incredibly happy with how it turned out!

The barrel has been seasoned to remove all manufacturing paint on the interior, as well as burn off as much exterior paint (it has been repainted with high temp stove paint). The initial seasoning of the barrel also allowed for the inside of the smoke house to be smoked, allowing the pine car-siding to be dried.

The inside of our smoker uses untreated pine for the studs, walls and roof. We opted for an inexpensive metal roof to cover the top, and found a dryer vent for the stack (must less expensive than a regular stove cap).

Our first try at smoking was a challenging one, smoked cheese, using hickory. We used Kroger brand sharp cheddar, swiss and mozzarella blocks. Heated the stove to get a bed of coals and the dampered it down to start the smoke. Bruce kept the temperature at about 100 degrees on the lower rack, and the cheese smoked for about 2 hours.

I am very happy with the results, especially for this being our first attempt! We didn’t melt it, turning the inside into a gooey mess, and smoking it for 2 hours gave it a good flavor. The softer cheeses were harder to keep from softening more and slightly cooking, even at a low temp. The mozzarella took it the worst, though we anticipated this too. The swiss came out great as did the sharp cheddar.

Next time we do cheese we’ll likely shorten the smoking time, and I hope to try other cheddar varieties, plus a Gouda.