Fishing & Hunting

I had to chuckle somewhat at the latest debacle from here in Arkansas and it seemed only fitting that after not posting for a period of time now that I interrupt my recent blogging hiatus to share the news. A couple of weeks ago one of our local fishermen here in Arkansas made headlines around the state and beyond when he landed a whopper of a largemouth bass which set a new state record. The little critter came in at 16 pounds and 5 ounces.

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A few days later after much ado over the record his moment in the limelight ended abruptly when Arkansas Game and Fish Officers determined that the newly proclaimed record holder had no fishing license. Therefore the fish had been caught illegally and therefore any claim to any such record immediately nullified.

It does make one ponder as to why someone who surely knows they are fishing illegally without a fishing license would contact Arkansas Game & Fish authorities and go through the rigors of registering a new state record when they knew they had caught the fish illegally. Did he really think no one would ask to see his license? Did he think it would be okay because it was a new record?

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I must now return to the ‘man cave’ but perplexed I came and perplexed I will leave… 😕

Hello “Catfish”….

Just a follow-up to my previous journal entry….

I received a nice email this morning from Keith “Catfish” Sutton who related he was happy his suggestions and advice related in his published newspaper article helped me in my quest to land a Grass Carp with a rod and reel.

He also sent me another article that was published back in June of 2004 regarding my carp nemeses. There were portions of it that were absolutely hilarious. The article appeared on the “ESPN Outdoors” website and is titled “Out There: The Grass Carp Grand Slam”.

Thanks Keith ….. Handshake - 001

Dear Mr. Keith “Catfish” Sutton….

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Today after gloating for some two days over my success at landing the infamous Grass Carp with rod and reel after years of failure as related in my previous journal entry, I decided to see if there was some way I might thank the individual who made it all possible. With Google at my fingertips I finally secured information relating to a Keith “Catfish” Sutton who was a free-lance writer and photographer living in Arkansas that had numerous publishing credentials. This had to be my man so having located his website and contact information, I proceeded with sending him the following extended ‘thank-you’ note…..

Dear Mr. Sutton,
I recently read an article in our local newspaper, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, titled “The Fish That Eats Salad” and noted a Keith Sutton as the contributing author. Doing a little nosing around with Google I determined that you might be the prime suspect.
Assuming so, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your article on the Grass Carp, which by the way is not my favorite of critters. But for years past I had tried to land one of those fish with a rod and reel and never had. Growing up here in Arkansas it became difficult to live with the fact I couldn’t outsmart that rather loathsome fish.
As a last resort, in 2004 I took up the sport of bowfishing and extracted my revenge on a few of the critters. I referred to it as “select harvesting” to cover all my misses with a bow and arrow over the next few years. Probably got five or six in the 30 lb range while professing to be a bowfisherman.
Then three weeks ago your article came to my attention while reading the paper and I immediately questioned the credentials of someone who talked about catching Grass Carp as if it was as simple as simply tossing a hook in the water and waiting a few minutes. And the cherry tomato comment was almost more than I could bare. But then fate stepped in…..
While shopping the next week at Kroger I happened to pass by a bunch of cherry tomatoes all bagged up in nice little red bags. “Was it fate?” I asked myself. So I threw a bag in the cart and went on my way. Then this past Monday I decided to put this myth about the cherry tomatoes to the test. I drove down to a small local lake where I knew there were some Grass Carp. I baited up a bare line and hook as you recommended using only half a tomato. In less than five minutes I noticed the line slowly beginning to move away and after about 24 inches of line had submerged I gave it a jerk and oh baby – I had a monster. After about a fifteen second glorious fight my line broke right at the hook but I immediately knew there might just be something to the cherry tomato thing.
So I doubled knotted a new hook, tossed it out again and it wasn’t long before the old line started going under again. Another big tug on the rod and reel and I had a good one. Finally landed this one and it was around 15 pounds. That was it! I immediately packed my gear and headed to the house confident that the ones left behind were mine anytime I wanted.
The point of this email is to simply thank you for your article and your cherry tomatoes tip. One of the items I had on my “Bucket List” was to catch a Grass Carp on a rod and reel and thanks to you – it’s done and I am closer to dying in peace.
Yours Truly……Alan G

I’m sure Mr. Sutton is a busy man and I don’t necessarily expect any measure of response but in all good consciousness, I could not bear to not at least make an effort to let the man know he had contributed to my someday leaving this planet with a measure of peace. And given the man has apparently attained the nickname of “Catfish” which is an all but sacred name here in Arkansas, what more could I have asked for than having been advised by someone perhaps referred to by many here in Arkansas as a spiritual adviser.

What else are ‘cherry tomatoes’ good for?

If you know anything at all about Grass Carp, or for that matter carp at all, you know that they are not caught with your typical fish bait. Most folks use their own homemade dough ball concoctions to catch these scaled and finned critters. But more about that later perhaps.

After recently reading an article referring to Grass Carp as the “veggie fish”, the article went on to recommend cherry tomatoes as an excellent bait for catching one of these elusive fish. Having some doubts about the suggestion since I had on numerous times experienced trying to entice one of these fish to my hook over the years and never being successful, I thought, “What the hell – why not give it a try.” So last week when I was doing my grocery shopping I noticed by chance that they had little bags of cherry tomatoes for sale. So I bought one bag.

Yesterday morning I grabbed my rod and reel and decided to give the cherry tomatoes their chance to help me accomplish a long sought quest after years of pursuit. We have several very small lakes nearby, one of which I knew had a plentiful supply of Grass Carp. I went down and walked around looking for signs. I caught glimpse of a couple out a ways under the water. I cut one of the cherry tomatoes in half and I baited a hook with it, no sinker, weight or bobber, and gave it a toss. The weight of the cherry tomato took it to the bottom. It was only a matter of minutes before I noticed the line beginning to be very slowly drawn out farther and after waiting a moment, gave my fishing rod a huge tug and oh baby…..I had a big one. Unfortunately, about fifteen seconds into the fight my line broke right at the hook.

Obviously I was somewhat disappointed of course but not totally because I knew I had apparently just hooked my first Grass Carp with a rod and reel. I replaced the hook, doubling the fishing knot used to tie the hook to my line, baited it with the other half of the cherry tomato and gave it another toss. After about ten minutes or so I noticed the line moving an inch or so every few seconds. Then again it began to be slowly dragged away. Again, with a large tug on the rod, I had set the hook in what was apparently another big one. This time I won the battle and took a photo to properly document the event. I’m guessing the little critter weighed in at around 15 pounds.

Lakewood Lake No.3 - Grass Carp(Grass Carp Caught in Lake #3 in Lakewood – Click to Enlarge)

As soon as I took the photo and released the carp, I packed my gear and headed back to the house. No need to sit there and catch them all. My mission was to accomplish the goal of catching my first Grass Carp on a rod and reel and it was done! Now I knew all it took was a itsy bitsy little red cherry tomato. Who would have guessed?

I will have to relate more of my adventures concerning carp as time permits along with my introduction to the sport of bowfishing.

Legend of the Mermaid… Fact or Fiction?

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I have always assumed that if I ever had an encounter with a “mermaid” that it would be a happy occasion as reflected in the animated graphic above. Of course that is assuming that you have some measure of belief that these lovely creatures exist. Well….after my latest adventure I have come to a confirming conclusion.

Yesterday was a nice sunny and cool day so I decided early to head down to the Arkansas River and do a little bowfishing. The carp have been a little scarce this year in the location where I usually experience some measure of success but it was such a nice day I just had to get out in nature.

After about an hour of stalking the bank of the river in search of prey, about some twenty-five yards out from shore the water began swirling ferociously and I could not believe the size of this fish. I had yet to see it but it was quickly moving my way. I quickly assumed a firing position, drawing back my bow waiting in nervous anticipation hoping the huge fish would present itself for a shot. Then just as the fish was about to break water near the bank and give me a shot, it quickly changed direction, perhaps seeing my shadow on the water, and headed back toward the deep. I immediately let fly the arrow and within an instant knew I had hit my mark. It was huge and it had fight. After about a half-hour I finally was able to subdue the fish and get it to shore but that is where this story turns from exciting to unimaginable.

It was not, as I had assumed, a fish that I had just drug up onto the bank. No! It was a “MERMAN”! That’s right….it wasn’t a mermaid….it was “MERMAN”. I had never heard of a “MERMAN”….only a mermaid. I thought to myself, “It must be a “merman” because mermaids are supposed to have boobs.” Oh well…..let’s stay away from the technical aspects and get back to the adventure.

Unlike the solid nerves that I had exhibited in my younger years when known as “snake boy”, I was quite shaken by the events at that point. I quickly removed the arrow from the lower torso where I had snagged the creature. Except for a twitch every now and then, there was no movement. I was confused. What do I do? Within a few minutes the “merman” appeared lifeless. I knew I couldn’t get it into my ice chest for purposes of preservation. How could I get this creature back to civilization? It was far too large to drag back to my car which was at least a half-mile away. I knew if I called the game and fish folks on my cell phone that no one would believe me. My only choice was to try to hide the “merman” in some bushes until I could go and get a game warden or someone from the game and fish commission. I dragged it into some bushes close by. Then I decided I should take a quick photo in case I needed some measure of proof when I was soliciting help from the game and fish folks. So I took the photo you see below.

Mermaid On A Beach

I quickly drove to the commission office, related my story showing them the little photo on my digital camera display and off we went back to the river. But alas, once we reached the spot there was no longer a “merman” in the bushes. We could see where he had apparently dragged himself back into the water. They spent the next hour or so looking over the area and questioning me. I think they finally concluded that I had faked the whole thing.

Well, there you have it. That is the long and short of my bowfishing adventure yesterday. Regardless of what the game and fish folks think, I knew that sharing this story with my blogging friends would give me the support and belief I so deserve after this harrowing adventure. 😀

The Infamous European Wels Catfish….

Being raised in the South and having caught and eaten my share of catfish – well when I ran across photos and information a couple of years back on a monster catfish called the Wels Catfish that is quite common in many of the European countries I was quite taken back. At first glance the back half of the fish looks ‘eel-like’ while the front portion looks pretty much the same as our catfish species. And they commonly grow to well over one hundred pounds and several feet long. There is also an “albino” of the species which seems to be a mix of white and pale yellow in coloring.

Not being familiar with this particular species of catfish myself, I thought I would post a couple of photos of an informational nature to others who may be likewise uninformed. Of course, I had to add what I hope are a couple of humorus captions to keep things light. Here are just a couple that seem quite interesting…..

Wels Caatffish 1Looks good to me…..Let’s paint the next one red!

Wels Catfish 2Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places…..

Hope you enjoy the photos and I plan on posting others that I find educational and interesting later on down the line…. 🙂