Friday, May 23, 2014

My First Nothing...PUNCH!

Well it was bound to happen...

I started off my fishing career with 6 straight trips where I landed a decent fish. That is pretty crazy. Especially when you consider the lake I fish at is known for shutting out even the most experienced fisherman. I've already got some fishing stories about bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, blue catfish, and black crappie.

And now...a story about nothing...I finally went to the lake for a day of fishing and was completely shutout.

Let me tell you something you already know. Not catching fish is freaking frustrating. By the end of my day on the lake I wanted to punch everyone I saw. These two teenage girls laughing and chatting (and not fishing). PUNCH! The kids screaming and running past me on the lake scaring away all the fish. PUNCH! My fishing equipment that wasn't catching anything. PUNCH!

Not only did I come home with no fish, I lost 3 bobbers. I actually lost more but ended up salvaging them. PUNCH!

While this was my worst day fishing and I wanted to quit soon after, it was an important part of my fishing career. You have to fail to succeed (and other motivational quotes about people who suck and fail).  Blah!

Let's not let this happen again...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Fish Cleaning Disaster

So I finally caught a fish and didn't throw it back. The 6 inch bad boy bluegill I caught this day was going to be my dinner. I was really excited (and disgusted) that I was going to get an opportunity to clean a fish, and super excited I would get to eat it. I only had one problem...I didn't have a fillet knife.

Due to time constraints I didn't have time to do any research on filet knives. In fact, I was in such a rush that I would have to stop at Wal-Mart and get whatever they had.

The selection in hell was slim. They only had one fillet knife there so looks like that is what I would be getting. Was it good? Who knows. I didn't have time to think about it. There was a monster fish to be cleaned!

My fishing time had run late due to my lack of catching fish, so it was almost dark. By the time I got home I had 15 minutes to clean this fish. I had watched hours of videos on the subject, and had a good idea how to do it, but it was dark and my first time.

Because cleaning a fish inside would probably ruin the entire house, I flopped my bluegill on an outdoor table and pulled out my new fillet knife. Either the knife was not sharp out of the box, or my fish was frozen, either way what was supposed to be an awesome learning and eating experience turned into a disaster.

After 5 minutes of "cleaning" the fish in the dark, I was left with a pile of ... well ... I have no idea. It was some kind of mixture of bones and guts and fish parts. Oh...and there was no meat...


I was now fairly bummed out that I didn't complete my task. I didn't know when, if ever, I'd catch another keeper...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Taking Home A Whale

As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, my goal is to be able to catch my own least once in my life. On my past fishing trips I didn't even consider keeping any of my previous keeper bluegill, catfish, or crappie aka I was scared to touch the fish & to actually have to clean the fish. But it was about time for me to step up and get the job done.

So I grabbed a cooler and stopped by 7-11 on the way to the lake for some Ice. By day's end this cooler would be filled. Flash forward...It wasn't...crap...

After catching 5 delicious looking keeper sized crappie the day before and repeating the same rig and lake location this day, I yeilded 0 fish. After a few hours my ice was melting and I had no fish and I had lost 3 bobbers (beginner mistakes). This was going to be harder than I thought! Why didn't I bring the cooler yesterday!!!

Eventually I caught a bluegill that was iffy size. I looked at him and thought for probably 4 minutes about taking it home, but instead decided it was a hair too small and let the poor guy go. A mistake?

I continued to fish with no luck whatsoever. Was I going to go home empty handed after 5 fishing trips with good sized fish, all let go?! Was this $3 bag of ice a waste of money!! Why didn't I keep that gil!

Finally, a miracle happened. I snagged another bluegill. This one wasn't very big, maybe 6 inches, but it was bigger and fatter than the first one. This would do for my first fish cleaning experience. I placed the fish, named Gilly, in the cooler and headed home for the next part of the the fish...

Click Here To See The Day's Official Fishing Log

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Attack Of The Crappie

My home lake (Burke Lake) features three handicapped accessible fishing piers. At two of these piers there are two giant wooden crates sticking out of the water. I assume whoever maintains the lake has created some sunken wooden structures in order to attract fish. I decided to leave my secret cove and cast out here...and wow, what a great decision!

As soon as my jig hit the water beyond the structure my bobber was underwater. The fish jumped out of the water, over the exposed portion of the wood and headed towards shore. As I was reeling, I could that the mouth was enormous, so I assumed I had bagged my second largemouth bass (my first).

*Note: I was using a 1/16th minnow head jig with Gulp Alive chartreuse minnows. My first time using this new bait I picked up.

However, when I pulled the fish all the way in, I noticed it didn't really look like a bass. I wasn't exactly sure what it was. The fish was between 10-12 inches long, a pretty nice size. It was covered in black spots and the round look seemed more like a bluegill and less like a bass.  I took my photo, sent it to a friend for species confirmation, and released the critter.

Moments later, I cast out the same exact setup to the same exact spot. Once again within seconds I hooked another fish. I reeled it in and noticed it was the black spotted fish again, just about the same size. This one flopped off the hook before I could dehook him and at about the same time it hit the water the guy at the next pier reeled in one of his own.

After that second fish, I decided to Google "Crappie" as I thought I heard the man at the next pier mention that fish. Sure enough, the fish I caught was a Black Crappie.

The next 30 minutes was Crappie bonanza. Every 5 minutes or so myself or the man a pier over, would reel in another 12 incher. Between the two of us we probably caught about 8 of them. I had 4 of them myself.

As the sun faded a little bit so did the fishing. After the 30 minute fishing frenzy the Crappie must have gone away. I only ended up catching one more over the next hour before I decided it was time to head back home.

This was my first experience with a Crappie and man was it fun.

Click Here To See The Day's Official Fishing Log

Monday, May 19, 2014

New Lake, New Fish

So far all my fishing had been at one particular lake (Burke Lake). So I thought I check out another lake in the county (Lake Fairfax). I went there for a brief "lunch break" just to test out the waters. And wouldn't you know it! I caught a couple fish!

I found a nice spot on the lake where a tree was overhanging the water. There was a massive shade spot here and the rest of the lake was bright and sunny. I figured the fish may want to be like me and chill out a bit. I was right.

I was working a new Rapala Floating Lure, well a new color. This was a rainbow trout color. I pulled in a hand sized bluegill, not impressive at all and was starting to get discouraged as it was almost time to get back to work. Then, my lure hit the water and Explosion. I had a big one!

I caught a smallmouth bass before, but this fish that was on my hook had a much more exciting strike. I reeled it in hoping my line would be enough to take in the beast. I pulled him out of the water and saw it was a largemouth bass. I measured it at 12 inches and then set him free to go back to his father Lance.

This fishing thing is getting exciting!

View The Daily Fishing Log Here

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bobbers, Worms, & Catfish, Oh My!

After 2 days of torrential downpour the water level of the lake had gone up quite a bit. All the weeds that were sticking out of the water were now completely submerged. This was throwing off my game a bit, but it didn't stop me from trying catch all the fish in the lake.

My first two fishing trips were very basic. Just casting out simple lures, not really doing much else. But this time, I decided it was time to try a few new tactics:

  • I was going to use live bait
  • I was going to do some bobber fishing
  • I was going to fish multiple rods

I still had my lure set up on the Gil Slayer, but I now had 3 new old broken fishing rods. I decided to take two of those rods and set them up for some slip bobber fishing. Google showed me how easy it was to set them up and within a few casts I had figured out how in the heck a slip bobber worked (ok, it took me way longer than that).

I started out with my lure, but after catching a 5 inch bluegill I didn't even get a single bite. So I switched over to my bobber rods. Unfortunately my worms were all dead (or not moving) but I figured I'd get my money's worth and use them anyway. I cast one out to the left, and one out to the right...

I wasn't doing much but losing bait with these setups, but I didn't quit. I sat...and I sat...and I sat. Eventually I forgot I even had my lines in the water and I started making some phone calls to figure out what party I was going to that night.

After getting my plans set I looked back out on the water. What the hell happened to my bobber!!! It was gone.

I picked up the rod, assuming my bobber fell off and floated away, and started to reel in to re-rig. And wouldn't you know it, there was a fish on the line! It was a BIG ONE!. I reeled it in fairly easily, and as it was approaching shore I thought for a second I had caught a a freshwater lake...

Of course it was not a shark. And I could tell by the whiskers, that this guy was a catfish (one of the only fish I can identify). And a big one, measuring at about 14 inches long. (after some Googling I found out it was a Blue Catfish).

I held the beast in my arms and had one terrible time removing the hook. He basically swallowed the whole thing. While I was de-hooking that son of a bitch was hissing at me and trying to poke me with his fins! Is that normal!?

A crowd gathered to see this fish, which was cool. I was proud. "This guy must know what he is doing!" Ummm YEP!

About 20 minutes after releasing my first cat into the water and while I was re-rigging the line (I cut the hook off) my other bobber went missing. I reeled in again shocked to find that I caught another blue catfish! This one was much smaller, but nonetheless I was super pumped.

I'm pretty much the greatest fisherman in the universe!

View The Daily Fishing Log Here

Friday, May 16, 2014

Acquiring Some Extra Rods

So far, I have been fishing with 1 rod only, and exclusively using lures as bait. I've done that mostly out of laziness and lack of knot tying skills. I want to be fishing, not struggling with knots and constantly changing up rigging on the shore. In fact, I only knew one knot so far...the Rapala lure knot.

In order to solve this problem, I decided I would need to get a few more fishing rods (and learn a new knot or 2).  Here's the problem. I ain't got the money for that! Well wouldn't you know it, I went to my parent's house and found 3 nice fishing rods sitting in the basement storage room. Here's another Rod...

Now when I say the word "nice" , I really mean "the worst". These Two of the rods had broken tips and missing guides and the third was a massive baitcaster with a birds nest that a pterodactyl could sit in. But if you remember back to my first fishing story, I knew that these would be good enough to catch some fish.

I decided that I won't even change the line. I will go out there and see what I can do. And if they all fail, I'd still have the trusty Gil Slayer by my side. Here goes nothin!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

This Sort Of Could Be A Bass Maybe Probably

It was my second trip to the lake and I was really excited. My first trip started out as perfect as a fishing career can start out, but ended up slowing down severely after that. I pulled in one measly bluegill, but I can't complain, I got something.

I went back to the same exact spot as before, now called Chris' Cove because I decided it to be. I kept my same Rapala original floating lure on (size 3 - bleeding pearl) on the Gil Slayer and cast out into the same area.

After a while something pretty cool happened. As soon as my lure hit the top of the water there was a big splash and my line was coming off the drag. This was a biiiiiiig bluegill!

I reeled it in and as it got closer to shore I noticed that this was not a bluegill. This was something big. Something awesome.

I pulled the big beast ashore and looking at it I realized that I have no idea what this fish is. I snapped a photo and sent a text to a friend for fish identification. I'm a beginner!!!! Leave me alone!!!

Turns out my friend didn't really know either, probably due to the terrible picture (I don't hold the fish like that anymore). We decided on the fact that it was probably a smallmouth bass. I measured it at 11 inches which right now means nothing to me. To me it was a beast, to a regular fisherman it was probably small.

Later that day I reeled in a few more fish but they were all unidentified baby looking sunfish of some kind. This one, which I found out was a yellow perch, looked pretty cool.

Another fun day on the lake!

View The Daily Fishing Log Here

Monday, May 12, 2014

I Have To Do What To The Fish?

So I'm sitting on the lake. It's my first time fishing and I'm not expecting to catch anything. I have no experience and I have no idea what the hell I'm doing. It's all good though. I'm enjoying myself and getting some good "sitting by the lake" practice in.

Oh crap...why is my rod bending and my line pulling away into the lake with a splash...Oh no. Please no! I didn't! I couldn't! Oh shoot...I've caught a fish...NOW WHAT!

Not exactly the reaction you would think someone who caught their first fish would have. I guess we need to examine this more thouroughly...

I'm a man!!! I'm 40!!!! Well not quite, but I am an adult. And I like to consider myself pretty manly. I do things like lift weights (pink ones), grill steaks (on a Foreman), start campfires (with firestarters, lighter fluid, and lighters), and kill spiders (by calling my mom for help). You could say I'm pretty much a shorter Paul Bunyon.

But here's the thing. Fish are grody! EWWWWWWWW~!!!!!!

So now here we are. Back in the present and I'm reeling in a fish. It's a bluegill, 7 inches. A MONSTER of a fish!

This giant slimy creature from hell is now hanging from my fishing pole and I don't know what to do. The poor guy is hanging by his mouth spinning round and round. Where will he stop? Nobody knows!  What happened next was this video...except she did better than me:

After screaming like a girl for a while and poking and prodding the fish, scared to touch it, I finally took a deep breath and handled & dehooked the fish. It was the worst, most awful, most terrible, thing in my life. Why did I get into this hobby? I want my mommy!

My hands were slimy. My shirt was covered in fish goo. My hands smelled like fish. And what did I have to show for it? A blurry photo of a tiny fish. Next time I'm going to wear gloves...and full body armor...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The First Catch

This next event that happened totally hooked me (get it) on fishing.

After my weeks of watching videos, trolling fishing stores, and fine tuning my equipment selection, I figured it was time to stop messing around and get up get out and get somethin'.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I had about 2 hours to kill before I had to be somewhere so I drove over to the lake just to toss a few casts out and get my feet wet. I found an opening on the shoreline, cocked back the Gil Slayer, and casted my Rapala lure a whopping 10 feet out onto the lake.

Now what should have happened was my lure should have flown off the fishing line as the knot failed, gotten snagged at the bottom of the lake, or impaled a nearby child.  However, what did happen was something quite different and completely shocking...

I caught a bluegill!!!

What I wanted to do was run around like a maniac screaming and celebrating. This was an amazing feeling! However, I had a fish hanging on my line, and couldn't really move much. So I just did 40 fist pumps (in my head). Oh, I mean "fish pumps". XXX.

All those YouTube videos and equipment studies paid off. I held a magic fishing rod in my hand. The perfect rod for catching an unlimited number of Bluegills. I had succeeded and I was now on pace to catch a fish on every single cast.

I was now officially a fisherman!

View The Daily Fishing Log Here

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Additional Tackle

The next part of my equipment was not really researched thoroughly. I figured I'd just buy a bunch of random stuff and see what works.  Here's what I got to fill up my tackle box:

  • Bobbers / Floats
  • Bobber Stoppers
  • Beads
  • Hooks
  • Swivels
  • Sinkers / Split-Shot
  • Gulp Baits
  • Rapala Lures
  • Minnow Jigs

Also, I already had the following tools/equipment
  • Needlenose Pliers
  • Scissors to Cut Line
  • Fish Scale / Measuring tape

I'll go into more specifics later, but this equipment, teamed up with the Gil Slayer, was how I was going to hit the lake for the first time.

Was I missing stuff? Did I have too much stuff? Could I catch a fish with this stuff? These were questions that I would find out first hand on the water.

And OMG. I think I need this:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ladies & Gentlemen, I Introduce To You, The Gil Slayer

It was about time. I had researched fishing equipment and tackle for about a week now it was finally the moment to pull the trigger and make my purchases. The first thing on my list was picking up a good fishing pole with a nice reel and lining it up with some killer thread.

I was under the impression I needed the following 3 things to pwn Bluegill:

  • A fishing rod - Ultralight, slow action, short, 
  • A fishing reel - Smaller sized, 2-8 pound ready, front drag, more ball bearings
  • Fishing line - 4 pound test mono

This is what I ended up getting:

My Rod

Shakespeare Ugly Stick GX-2 Ultra Light 2 Piece Fishing Rod - 5' ($40)

I looked at a bunch of different rods in the $20-$50 price range. While this rod is a little clunkier than some of the other options, I figured that would make it more durable. This rod also had a lot of good reviews and was from a popular brand so that sealed the deal since I wasn't sure how to feel out the rod. I opted for the shortest available (5 feet long).  It's no lacrosse stick, but it will do.

My Reel

Shimano Sienna FD 500 ($30)

I picked my reel a little differently. I basically picked it based on reviews of both reels and reel brands. I was looking in the $20-$40 range and the Shimano appeared to be the best at the price point. I opted to go with the smallest one, despite hearing that the smaller the reel the more tangles are possible. I also read that front drag is the way to go over rear drag. Enough about drag.

My Line

Berkley Trilene XL Smooth Casting - 4 Pound Monofilament Test - Lo-Vis Green - 220 Yards ($8)

I really wanted to get some braided line (and I actually did, just didn't put it on). I picked lo-vis green because lakes are green seriously, that is why. I got 4 pound because that was what my research taught me. I got mono because I didn't want to make things complicated. I got that brand & kind because...I guess I randomly picked it.

Quite a nice little panfish setup if I do say so myself! Oh and in case you were wondering. This little diddy has a name. The Gil-Slayer...

"Lot's of people name their swords." ... "Lots of c***s" - Game of Thrones

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fisherman Recap

LOL. I still don't even have a fishing rod...

Ok. While there is still time to quit before I go out and get my equipment, let me take a look at what I've got so far:
  1. I have decided out of the blue that I am now a fisherman
  2. I have decided I am going to fish in freshwater
  3. I have decided I am going to target panfish
  4. I have decided I am going to narrow in on bluegill
I'm a bluegill panfish freshwater fisherman

I also have one goal:
I want to catch a fish, clean a fish, and eat a fish.

Bam! That's what I'm working with. I guess I'll go get some stuff!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Fishing Story

When I was 10 years old for reasons I can't recall, I started my fishing career. I took a toy lacrosse stick, some yarn, a fish hook, and created my very own homemade fishing rod. Every day  that summer (for a few weeks) I would head down to the creek behind my house with a few pieces of bread, put tiny pieces on the hook, and catch some very tiny fish.

The fish were so easy to catch. They were so hungry they would strike at lougies when you spit in the water. We could catch them sometimes without putting bait on the hook. Just drop the hook and bam, fish caught. Perhaps the frequency of the catches was the reason i liked it so much.

That was a long time ago. I don't even remember things like de-hooking the fish. I don't remember why I stopped. I don't remember why I didn't ask for a fishing rod. I just remember being obsessed with fishing and I'll never forget that custom rod.

My fishing story should tell you two things. First, you can catch a fish with just about any equipment. And second, fishing can become an obsession.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Plenty Of Fish In The Sea, Finding The Fish For Me

One of the things that occurred to me was that before buying equipment I may want to figure out what kind of fish I want to catch. Here's what I know about fish species:
  • I know people fish for bass
  • I know what a catfish is
That's it...that's the list.

I would have to do some research to figure out what fish to fish. I wanted to stick to freshwater, I wanted to catch something that was not extremely challenging, and I wanted to catch something that would be good to eat (the reason why I'm fishing in the first place).

According to online research (and the # of YouTube videos by 10 year olds) the fish I was looking for is called a Panfish. Just to drop some more Googled knowledge, A Panfish is just a name for a group of frying pan sized fish. Some of these types of Panfish include Bluegill, Sunfish, Pumpkinseed, Yellow Perch, and Crappie.

Specifically, I was going to target Bluegill. These are small and hungry fish that are allegedly easy to catch and that cook up well for good eatin'. And if 10 year olds all over the country are catching them, then a 30 year old adult should have no trouble at all.

Blues...Oh, so lonesome for you
Tears fill my eyes 'til I can's see
3 o'clock in the morning, here am I
fishin' here so lonely, so lonesome I could cry