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!

Advertisements

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.

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

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.