Tag Archive: fishing


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The more I get into the great outdoors the more respect I have for the ‘old timers’ and am amazed that human beings, before organized agriculture survived and thrived enough to bring us to the point where we have 7 billion people on this planet.

Hunting, fishing, gardening, plant identification (wild edibles), and making do with what was found in your local environment…woah…lots of work, patience and knowledge is needed for it all! And HOMESTEADERS way back in the day did by themselves with knowledge learned the hard way (hit and miss, mostly miss) or learning by/from example through practical knowledge and know how learned from the elders or just from someone who has more miles than you do on a particular subject.

 

Personally, I prefer to learn the easy way…from others. The advent of printing and finally the internet we have access to so much information/knowledge that I believe many are falling prey to THINKING they know how to do something or could do it, after all, it all sounds so easy But applying that knowledge in a hands on situation is another matter entirely. Finding someone who already has that hands on know how, well, that can be a daunting task, but it sure makes it a lot easier, especially when you learn from someone who will let you learn how you need to learn instead of by a strict set of rules. Guidelines are great, ridgity is not when you are trying to learn a new skill, unless it’s a safety rule.

 

Case in point, my partner in crime who has had the pleasure of trying to teach me how to hunt and track has taken on the challenge of teaching me how to fish. Now, you might think that fishing is easy and honestly, its easier than hunting! But there are so many ‘things’ involved in being successful (you can see his posts here on fishing at VaCreepinOutdoors) that its crazy, at least to me, but on the otherhand, me being an herbalist/homeopath I am sure he feels the same way about trying to learn from me about what I do well. And sometimes, just plain luck is involved too. I have spent hours just learning how to cast the line and am now comfortable enough that I am practicing getting it under trees. VCO showed me the basics and then let me run with it. Even got a compliment Saturday that I actually looked like I knew what I was doing!

 

Well, we went out carp fishing this past weekend and he cast in, first cast he caught a channel cat. Here I am sitting going: ‘reel it in! reel it in!’ and to me it looks like he is playing with it, letting it run out, reeling it in, letting the fish run back out, reeling it back in. This went on for a few minutes with him telling me that he didn’t want to bring the fish in with it ‘still green’. What the HECK DID THAT MEAN???? It was a nice size catfish, big enough for eating (wound up releasing it) but why in the world did he let it run? I mean, you hook the thing and bring it in right? That’s what you do with blue gill and the other smaller fish so why not these bigger guys?

 

Fast forward an hour or so, we’re just standing there with bread on the hook doing not much but watching the line for movement (there is a trick to ‘hooking’ a fish too by the way) and I am thinking, screw this and told him “I bet if I sit down I’ll hook a carp” he laughed and said, ‘yeah, then you get to figure out how to stand up with that thing pulling!’ I thought, ‘whatever’ and proceeded to sit down and dang it, do you know that within minutes my line was busy running out really fast and I am sitting on the ground trying to reel who knows what back in from the sitting position? He’s telling me to let it run out and then reel back in and all I can think is ‘gotta land this sucker’. But I slowed down, followed his directions (kinda) and lo and behold, after a good fight out comes this 4 lb carp! Big fish, strong and a fighter. It was kinda fun, but man! Reeling that thing in was like trying to keep two pitbulls apart that wanted to fight each other.

So, I learned something…what it means to ‘not reel a fish in green’. It means that you let it wear itself out (kinda like putting the 2 year old outside to run around) before trying to bring it onto land. A fish flopping around crazy on the ground is not fun to get your hands on as many of them have fins that will cut you or the darn thing will flop back into the water (have that happen to me before). And getting the hook out so you can put it on a stringer…well, its better, easier and much less painful to let that fish wear itself out than to fight it on land too. Lesson learned about ‘green fish’. The fight was fun and now I am hooked, but next time, I will let it run and fight in the water until it almost gives up. And it was released. Yes, it was pretty small compared to what a lot of people catch size wise but lesson learned about big fish fishing…let them run, play with them. Much less tiring that way and you are less likely to get hurt and keep the fish too or get the hook out with minimal damage to the fish. Btw, I still let him take the hooks out if he’s around.

 

Just for fun…I learned there are no hard and fast rules about bait that day too, you can catch bass with bread. I did it that same day. VaCreepinOutdoors calls it top water fishing…but with bread? He said he’d never heard of such thing…guess the joke was on him that day. Granted it was only a 4 inch big mouth, but by bouncing the bread through the water, it jumped right on.

 

Have fun, get out there and learn! Now I gotta figure out how to get new line on the reel.

Surviving off the land…fact or fiction?…do you believe, that in the event of an emergency situation that you could simply go out into the woods and survive? Or that in order to get food on the table that you will take that old .22 and go kill some meat in the woods or that simply dropping a fishing hook in the water everyday that you and yours could live? That foraging alone in the woods and fields will get you what you need on a daily basis? That all you have to do is throw some seeds out there and presto, within weeks you will have an abundant selection of veggies to eat daily? This is a myth…and the golden hordes (read that city dwellers) that may or may not come out if and when the supply chain or money dries up don’t know it is a myth.

Dream on and don’t come knocking on my door when you figure out that its all a lot harder than you thought it would be and you are starving because you failed to ‘get’ the fact that subsistence living or living ‘survival’ style in the woods just won’t get it no matter what the ‘professionals’ say. Remember that word ‘professional’ and what that means, it means THEY DO WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING AND DO IT WELL AND REGULARLY!!! And they always have back up…which you don’t see…just in case (hmm, 3 is 2, 2 is 1 and 1 is none).

Fact is that hunting, fishing, gardening and foraging are all SKILLS that must be developed and even then, it is HARD WORK that takes a lot time. And even if you have the skills do any hunting, fishing, foraging or gardening, there are no promises at the beginning or end of the day that you will get what you need for that day, let alone for future days when you get nothing on a particular day.

Case in point, I have for a few years tried my hand at gardening. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t mean diddly when it doesn’t ran or rains too much…or frost comes early or you get an attack of bugs (or critters!) that kills your plants or eats your hard won fruits and veggies before you can get to them. Have had it all happen plus other interesting things…such as some veggies and fruits just won’t grow on my property despite how much work I put into them. Some methods of gardening just don’t work in my area. It is has been and is still a process of learning my own land and area that has led to some successes and a lot of failures that teach me what not to do and sends me back to the drawing board to try something else/different the following year.

Another case in point that I have recently learned….hunting and fishing are hard work and frankly, start up costs are EXPENSIVE. Now you could argue that you don’t ‘need’ a lot to get going with either and I would agree with you, but you need the basics…A fishing pole, bait and that’s all right? Hmm, well, if you think so…depends on what you are after and if you are innately talented at fishing to get by with just any old fishing pole and bait. How are you gonna clean it? Do you know how to use that pole? Or even tie a fishing hook onto the pole? Yeah…are you getting the idea now? And by the way, there is skill involved, tricks to the trade if you will…last time I went fishing (see the bluegill video) my friend caught 5 in minutes and me, well, lets just say that once I could get a cast off those little suckers ATE THE BAIT and I got nothing.

Now we can go onto hunting…where do I start there. I was kinda one of those persons until recently that thought all you did was get the rifle and go out. First off, you better be able to hit what you are aiming at…so do you know your ‘weapon’? are you good with it? Because the last thing you want to do is take a shot and spook dinner down the hill or forbid this from happening, you don’t make a clean kill and the thing runs off and dies somewhere and you either don’t find it or have to go miles trying to track it (do you know how to do that?). Did you know that an animals senses are super sensitive? The can, in general see us, hear us and smell us long before we see or hear them. So can you sit still? Walk quietly in the woods? Do you know how to blend in smell wise or better yet, NOT SMELL? (try that one when you haven’t had a bath in days and its 90 degrees outside). Okay, now, do you know how to get up in a tree? Trust me when I tell you that if you think a climbing tree stand is EASY to use you got another thing coming and from what I am told, hunting from the ground is iffy at best, though doable if you can hide yourself well enough. Good luck sneaking up on a deer or rabbit or even a squirrel. Can you find a trail or the signs that an animal is a frequent visitor? If you can’t then you are relying on luck and stupidity of an animal that is used to being hunted one way or another. And lets not forget that there are most certainly others out there looking for the samething as you are.

I have spent the time, effort and energy to get my self set with gear for hunting and fishing. Archery season just started last weekend…I got the bruises and weary muscles to prove that I now know how to use a climbing tree stand. So up I went last Saturday after getting up at 4:30 am to get to a spot that my friend, who has hunted for years picked out for me beforehand. And I will tell you that just GETTING to that tree that I had to climb was interesting (lesson learned: make sure all gear is secure on the body otherwise you will be chasing it in the dark). Then up the tree I went right around dawn, get settled, get the gear up to me (do you know how to safely do that???) and there I sat, watching, waiting, just sure a deer or turkey would come through…okay, next thing is this, its hard to stay alert when you can’t move. Think I nodded off a couple of times. Then after a few hours of sitting in my ‘perfect’ spot I hear some people further down the trail yelling and then a dog barking, not to mention it was getting hot. (Did I forget to mention did you think about what you were going to do when nature called?? Haha! Yeah…) I sat there so long and still enough that the squirrels were paying me absolutely no mind. And those things are sensitive suckers (never did get one earlier in the season, but there they were this time, lots of them!). I could go on and on and on, but long and short of this story is that hunting IS NOT WHAT YOU READ ABOUT OR SEE ON TV. Its hard and iffy in good times, now imagine that if a good hunter can’t get a kill during the good times (such as my friends that I went with last weekend) then what will it be like when you are hungry, tired and stressed out to the max? Back to the drawing board and practice more and cross my fingers that next time providence is on my side. Oh, by the way, do you know how to clean that animal and field dress it? I think you get my point…And I will tell you this, when it hits the fan I am NOT stepping out into the woods for a few weeks, I want to live and with a lot of people thinking they will just go out and kill to eat all I can foresee is a lot of accidents happening and none of them ending well. Every year people are killed and maimed hunting by accident and this happens in the ‘good times’.

Lastly, foraging…forget depending upon it for long term survival. It’s a good fill in IF you know what you are looking for (and you had better be good at plant identification unless you want to get sick or die) and can then find it…but it is what it is…foraging for survival and again, it is a skill and takes time, practice and knowledge…if you think that just having a few books on hand will get you what and need without actually going out there and doing it…good luck…And did I mention that you will be out there with the critters competing for the same food?

There is a reason why humans gathered into groups and began establishing formalized agriculture and animal husbandry (raising animals). It created conditions in which civilization could be established and more reliable food sources. But even then, things happen and fail (look at the hippies for confirmation of this). Can you imagine the hundreds of people who ‘think they can’ only to finally conclude that they can’t? Then what? Failure happens more often that success, remember that.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but what I am doing is trying to point out some basic facts, that IF YOU FAIL to do something now, learn how to do something NOW and PRACTICE that NOW you will not just be able to go out and ‘do it’ and in fact, you may just get yourself killed in the process since you will be under stress and most likely tired and low on energy and most likely there will ALOT of others ‘trying’ to do the same thing, in the same place, at the same time as you are (and I won’t tell you the stories about idiots who will shoot at a noise in bushes…hmm…is that the bush you are picking berries from?)

And that brings up one last skill that we as a collective have laid by the wayside…situational awareness…basically that means you know what is going on around you and are alert to potential dangers and CONSCIOUS enough to identify them and take the appropriate action, at the appropriate time.

Instead of playing video games or going to the mall, start to practice growing a garden…go find someone who can hunt or fish and partner up with them to learn how to do this NOW. Do you really need that new iPhone? Or a ‘new’ car? Or that extra night out eating? Invest your money in the best equipment you can afford now or trade for it. Take the time to go out and actually do what you think will help you in the future to get by during the hard times. The learning curve is steep people, because trust me, its not as easy as you think and even those with the can do, do or die attitude will fail at some point in time. Learn skills now while you can, when it doesn’t count so much and when the time comes, you will have the advantage.

Anybody can catch a bluegill. Right????.