The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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We at Shotem and Caughtem know that it is not until warmth sets in and the fall rut is long gone that the male antler animals begin to shed their fighting sticks.  The time old tradition of getting outdoors to look for these natural trinkets is a fun way to get outdoors and collect some horns.  However, as is the case with many things, it is starting to grow in popularity.  As such many states are looking to make a little extra cash in helping protect our environment.  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.  

Deer and elk shed their antlers every winter and collecting them has become a lucrative pastime for some and an outdoor recreational activity for others.

There has been growing awareness that shed antlers have value. The antlers are used in a variety of ways, including as chandeliers, furniture or other decorative items.

Nevada does not currently regulate the practice of collecting shed antlers, but a regulation to be considered by the Board of Wildlife could change that. A workshop on a regulation that would establish a collection season will be held Friday in Reno.

Nevada’s estimated 17,000 elk are found throughout much of Nevada, from Mount Charleston in Clark County to Lincoln County to White Pine and Elko counties. The state’s 110,000 deer are likewise found throughout much of the state.

Other Western states have regulated the practice to protect wildlife during the winter months when they are most vulnerable due to the extreme conditions.

If Nevada follows suit, there would be a period established, likely from around Jan. 1 through mid-April, where no collecting would be allowed. A Nevada hunting license, which costs $33 for a Nevada resident and $142 for nonresidents, would also be required.

We at Shotem and Caughtem think the best way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is to think green.  Nothing during this time period makes us think green than grabbing a couple cold ones and head out to do some fishing.  Since St. Patrick's Day usually means spring is here we thought we would impart a couple of early fishing tricks we like to use.  Happy St. Patrick's Day to all our members.  We hope you have a safe and fun outdoor celebration.

At this time of year remember diversity is the key. Bring not only minnows, but also minnows ranging from tiny to large as the bite varies from day to day. Also carry not only waxies, but spikes and even an assortment of plastics. Due to this varying bite, don’t be afraid to switch up presentations. Just the other day, in fact, we finally got crappies to bite on the sixth lure we used and that was a 1/16-ounce spoon tipped with a tiny minnow.

Probably the most important thing to remember while fishing those lazy hazy days of spring is to trust your electronics. If you don’t see fish, move around the deep basin or flat you are fishing. There are some crappie and perch fisherman, in fact, who won’t even put in a line until they see fish on the screen.

Crappies will often hit up and when your spring tip goes from slightly bent to straight up, the fish is hitting up so use an immediate soft lift to hook it. If you don’t use a spring tip, be sure you have a “noodle” rod, as a deep-water crappie bite is subtle. What makes catching them so magical is it’s all in the touch, the finesse.

To all the great Irish people out there, even though you might only be a “toenail” Irish, happy St. Patrick’s Day. May the luck of the Irish be with ye. Enjoy all that is green. In fact, try to go northern Minnesota and get some of those black and silver and green crappies or the green barred perch for your green-themed meal.

We at Shotem and Caughtem have weighted in on the hunting and fishing debate.  Pros, cons and why we love the great outdoors.  We also like to draw from others opinions to help support our beliefs.  Since we have heard a lot from our followers and members about constantly battling this debate we felt it was time to once again hit on this debate.  We felt like bringing in another persons point of view this time.  Lucky for us the Atlantic just produced such an article.  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

We at Shotem and Caughtem could not be more excited for our favorite time of the year.  Yes.  Shotem and Caughtem Season is on the horizon.  It will be only the second time we have gotten to celebrate this special time of year officially as a company.  The time of year when we can tempt both our senses with the smell of gunpowder and the sweet sound of fishing line leaving our reels.  In this celebration we decided to offer some tips and a bit of research on all things Shotem and Caughtem.  Today we decided on decoy placement for good turkey hunting.  Let us know your tricks of the trade in the comment section below.

Have the jake turkey facing you at 25 to 35 yards. An adult gobbler can and usually will go to a jake decoy, and face it although they sometimes slip in from the rear. The gobbler, once his attention is riveted on the jake decoy, usually forgets everything else. Wait until the bird turns his body and lifts his head and neck to make that area visible for an accurate shot. Don’t shoot at gobblers when their head and neck is down to their shoulders.

If you know where the gobbler will come from, it's possible to position the jake decoy 20 yards out and 20 yards to the opposite side of your position. The adult gobbler will walk past you on his way to smack the fake jake around. It offers an ideal shot. Just make certain you have the shotgun up to your shoulder and be ready for a shot before he reaches the decoy. Things can get a bit frenzied when a gobbler goes after a jake.

An adult bird that spots a jake decoy may come or may not. He may be ready to fight, and may hang back. A long-spurred gobbler, once he gets riled up, will put the spurs to a jake. I’ve had more than one jake decoy shredded by the hooks of a big gobbler, and it doesn’t take long for it to happen. It’s a sight to behold, and there’s nothing nice about it.

Take an old aluminum arrow, cut it in half, and put a target point on the end that goes into the ground. The end of the stake that went into my decoy had a washer next to the insert, and then another target point was used. The threads went through another washer, and screwed into the insert. This allowed the decoy to move slightly in the breeze, which adds a convincing touch of realism to a decoy spread.

Want to go a bit further?  Find another scrap aluminum arrow, cut it in half, paint it dark brown. Which moves the decoy tail back and forth, and insert one of the stakes at each end of a half-circle swing. If the wind gusts, the decoy would move a bit but not too much, and it added even more realism to the set-up.

We dislike a motionless decoy. Watch real hens, and they are head-up, head-down, flapping their wings, shaking their feathers and moving around. Your decoy should do the same, but it’s hard to make that happen unless there is enough breeze to stir the decoys and make the move.

Have the hen decoys out about 15 yards past the jake decoy and away from where the gobbler  will come. Separate the hens (if using more than one) by at least 15 to 20 yards. They can be positioned facing in most directions away from the jake.  Most decoys are made so the stake can be placed at an angle. I like at least one hen decoy to be tipped forward with its head near the ground as if feeding. It makes your rig look more realistic.

One way to use an old shredded hen decoy. 

Use this hen and lay her flat on the ground, and place a jake decoy astraddle her. This can bring a longbeard streaking in to rescue the hen for his personal pleasure.  Spread your decoys out. Don't jam them together because this is what threatened birds do before they fly or run. Do not use decoys with erect heads. One with its head up is fine, but change the body and/or head position of the others. Don’t have all the hen decoys facing the same direction.

Decoys require some experimentation. Move them around, but we've found that keeping a jake decoy between hen decoys and the woods gives the illusion that the jake is keeping them corralled.

If a gobbler is seen coming fast or slow to the decoys, let the fake birds do their job. Too much calling  is a major mistake. Two or three hens, if they are feeding and spot an approaching longbeard, will usually shut their beak. Take a cue from the real birds. Don’t call too much but play this part of the hunt slow and easy. Do this, and you’ll probably punch that gobbler’s ticket when the season opens about three months from now.

So we at Shotem and Caughtem decided to get our nerd on this week.  Since temperatures are on the rise around the US and with day light savings creating longer sun warmth periods we wanted to know how do you gauge water temperatures by what is happening weather wise to guess what water temperatures might be in places we go to fish.  

What we found is that there are a lot of factors that go into water temperature vs weather to get an exact gauge but you can start to get close.  First lets find out the most important thing.  At what temperature do fish species spawn to be able to ride the two weeks prior of aggressive fishing that is close to being upon us.  

Here is a list of some of the spawning water temperatures for the most popular game fish.  The temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

Largemouth Bass 68-72

Smallmouth Bass 59-60

Spotted Bass    63-68

Yellow Bass   62-66

Cherokee Bass 55-57

White Bass    57-68

Striped Bass 59-65

Muskie   49-59

Walleye 45-51

Northern Pike 40-52

Sauger   40-45

Paddlefish 50-55

Warmouth   75-80

White Crappie    60-65

Black Crappie 62-68

Bluegill   70-75

Green Sunfish    75-85

Red ear 68-75

Channel Catfish 75-80

Blue Catfish    70-75

Flatheads    66-75

Bullhead Catfish 79-89

Carp    63-75

Rainbow Trout 50-55

Brown Trout    47-52

Brook Trout 45-48

These are typical temperature ranges where fish spawn and almost every species will spawn several times during the spring and move from areas that are too warm into waters that are just right as too warm or cold of water is lethal to the various fish’s roe.  The time of year that these fish spawn will vary by location due to the air temperature and other factors so one state in the south such as Texas may see their fish spawning long before Minnesota and you will see those up in some shallow pond spawn long before those in a moving river carrying the spring snow melt.  A thermometer to drop in at a depth of 3 to 8 feet might be more handy than you realize.

Weather affects water temperature in a lake every day and throughout the year. On a daily basis, weather conditions can cause subtle changes in water temperature. Seasonal changes in weather temperature can cause dramatic variations in a lake’s water temperature—even causing waters to mix.

Daily Changes

Strong winds can cause large waves that can mix a lake’s water. Cloud cover is also important. Skies can be cloudy, clear or a mixture. On cloudy days or foggy days, when visibility is low, the sun cannot warm top waters as quickly as on clear days. On clear, sunny days, a lake’s top waters may become warmer than bottom waters.

Seasonal Changes

Winter
Low weather temperatures cause a lake’s water to become cold. Sometimes the water near the surface gets so cold, it freezes. During winter, nearly the whole water column (the depth from surface to bottom) becomes uniformly cold and near freezing.

Spring
Sun begins to warm the cold water near a lake’s surface. When water reaches a certain temperature—exactly 4 degrees C or 39.2 F—it reaches its maximum density or heaviness, and it sinks. This process causes a lake’s waters to mix. Wind also plays a role. Winds get stronger during spring and help to mix the whole water column, from top to bottom. This seasonal mixing, called turnover, also occurs in the fall. This mixing also helps circulate nutrients throughout the lake.

Summer
Sun warms the surface waters of a lake. Winds die down and are no longer strong enough to mix the whole water column, or depth of water. Surface water becomes very warm, but the bottom water remains cold. Swimmers may notice this sharp temperature difference, called a thermocline.

Fall
In the fall, Great Lakes surface waters begin to cool. When the temperature of the water reaches 4 degrees C or 39.2 F (as it does in the spring), it reaches its maximum density or heaviness, and it sinks. This seasonal process causes a lake’s waters to mix. Wind also plays a role. Winds get stronger during fall and help to mix the whole water column, from top to bottom. This seasonal mixing, called turnover, also occurs in the spring.

We at Shotem and Caughtem talked yesterday about where your money from license fees goes due to all the rate hikes happening throughout the nation.  Lucky for us a story released today shows where some of that money ends up.  As outdoorsman and woman already know the key to a sustainable industry can only come from a robust eco-system.  Too many of one thing or not enough of another and things get out of whack.  With this in mind Texas has decided to reintroduce the paddlefish into a Texas lake that was once home to plenty of the species and plans to track how this fish and the eco system reacts to having them back in the picture.  We hope to share their story as it becomes more available in the years to come.  As is the case many times it becomes a learning experience as to just how much we are all apart of a larger picture and balance.

A cooperative effort between federal, state, local and private agencies and organizations is once again attempting to return paddlefish to the waters of East Texas.

About 50 of the fish that can be traced back to prehistoric times were released Wednesday in Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake, marking the first release of the fish since 2000.

This stocking, which is a joint effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy and Caddo Lake Institute, is different than previous attempts to bring the fish back to Texas because it is a science-based experiment. Positive results could lead to more stockings in the future.

The 2- to 3-foot long fish recently captured in Oklahoma have been fitted with radio transmitters. Three monitoring stations, one below Caddo Lake, one at the lake and another near Jefferson, will follow the fishes travels to see if they will stay in the lake and upstream in the river where a gravel spawning bed was built by the USFWS near Jefferson. The bed is already being utilized by more than 30 other fish species.

One of the keys to the restocking program will be the water flow in Big Cypress Bayou below Lake O’the Pines. For the past 10 years the participants in the program have been working with Northeast Texas Municipal Water District to create downstream flows that will mimic what would have occurred in the river naturally during wet and dry conditions.

It is believed the fish, which can live as long as 30 years and grow to more than 7 feet long and weigh 200 pounds, disappeared from the bayou after construction of the Lake O’the Pines Dam in the 1950s.

“The dam changed the natural flow patterns, including the high flows or ‘spring pulses’ that provided paddlefish and other fish species a cue to move to spawning sites and foraging habitat the high water made accessible,” said Pete Diaz, a USFWS fish biologist.

Texas’ dam building era of the 1950s and 60s may have also led to the species’ demise in the Sulphur, Neches, Sabine, Angelina, Trinity, San Jacinto rivers where they also existed.

A fish species that is more than 300 million years old, today paddlefish are considered a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act and is rarely found in Texas. While restoration projects have been successful, that hasn’t been the case here.

We at Shotem and Caughtem have noticed that once again the hunting and fishing permits are rising in many states.  We also know that one way to help off set the increases that seem to happen every year is to apply for a Lifetime hunting and fishing permit should your state offer them.  However, it still begs the question.  Where does all that money end up?

Lucky for us our law makers knew they would not be able to keep their hands off the money and made it so that all money collected by wildlife and parks must be used for wildlife and parks projects and funding only.  However, the lawmakers also found a way to use the money in a different way.  Got to love politicians.  They use the vast amount of unappropriated funds as leverage to cook the books in other departments.  So when the state roads department goes over budget they use the surplus in the wildlife budget to offset the overage.  

Now the bad.  Because they need to leverage the positive dollars in the wildlife and parks fund to go over budget in other areas, many wildlife and parks project money gets stalled.  Projects that would help expand or create a better environment for hunters and fisherman/woman to use typically get sidelined.  As is the case with many things follow the money.

The best way for many to help loosen the reigns on these funds is to make sure you stay active in creating areas in your own area worthy of spurring our environments.  Using the land you hunt and fish wisely and contacting your state government on projects you feel are worthy of our license dollars might just help get some of these projects moving.

So the positive is all those increases in fees go towards wildlife and parks.  The bad, much of the money never gets used for wildlife and parks.  It sits and accrues interest so that other projects look flush.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.  As always get outdoors and share your adventures in our galleries. 

As we at Shotem and Caughtem watched the bone chilling weather move across the Midwest this weekend our thought began to dream of spring.  The time of year right before the spawn when the fish come out from hiding with a ferocious appetite prior to the spawn.  It is a great time to catch fish.  It is a cool time which means you can wake up a little later than in the summer and enjoy a full day of fishing.  With this in mind and before our minds turn to the upcoming turkey season we thought we would pass along some tips we use when heading out to capture the first bites of the year.  Let us know your tricks in the comment section below and we hope to brag with you in the galleries as the water temperatures rise.  

Seasonal cold fronts in the spring will send bass back into their deep-water haunts. They will feed less but they will still feed. Fish from 8–-15 feet in depth, using electronics to locate suspending bass and target that depth. The wind and spring showers continue to warm the water, be as patient as the bass are.  Watch the water temperature to become 55 to 60 degrees. Warm water means bass will come out of the lethargic state and begin to move and feed. This is the time when some bass begin to move toward their spawning flats, as other older mature females will hold in areas from 8-15 feet for their turn and perfect conditions. 

Creek channels are traffic areas for bass, as the fish move into the spawning flats to reproduce. Points on these creek channels are great places to fish with a crankbait. Fish deep enough to scrape the bottom around points and drop offs. Use natural colors like green to imitate small bluegill or perch and reds, orange and brown to resemble crayfish colors.  In addition to fishing points and drop offs ledges, look for old road beds and focus on the ditches along side the road beds, these ruts that were once used to drain water off of a road, are now the road for moving bass. Also try rocky rip rap as well as grassy areas with close access to deeper water adjacent to shallow spawning flats.  When fishing the channel points located close to a spawning area, pull a scented tube along the bottom slowly. Try crayfish, pumpkinseed, and black and blue colors.  If you are not getting any bites, simply slow down your presentation. Remember that the temperature of the bass at their holding depth is the deciding factor that turns on the instinct to feed heavy before the spawn. 

The weed beds adjacent to a channel are a preferred area for emerging spring bass. On calm mornings and afternoon use topwater baits for a blast. Late morning through early evening, try big worms or lizards, or a slow-rolling spinnerbait through and between mats of weeds.  Look for sharp bends or humps in channels near large flat shallow areas, begin in the shallow area and fish back toward deeper water.  Look for shad and signs of crawfish in deeper coves. Try fishing a small jig with a craw colored trailer using a slow retrieve. The jig and pig fires up the smallmouth on the rocky bluffs at Dale Hollows deep coves.

We at Shotem and Caughtem read this article and it got us wondering.  What a great topic.  How many different uses of the things we carry in our hunting packs or fishing bags can we come up with to do things other than their intended uses.  We already use our knives, tools, lures, rifles, and bows in different ways other than their true intentions.  So we challenge you to leave different ideas in our comment section below after reading this article.

Take a rubber band and twist it. Keep twisting it until it starts to collapse onto itself and form larger loops—it's something you can do with almost any strand-like structure. Now, scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson are taking advantage of this property in everyday materials such as fishing line and sewing thread and using it to make artificial muscles.

The scientists took pieces of fiber that were a few hundred micrometers long and twisted them until they began to coil. As the pieces coiled, the twisted fibers became shorter and thicker; once tightly coiled, the scientists heat-treated them to prevent the fibers from unfolding. If heat is applied to the finished coil after this procedure, the individual fibers try to untwist. The untwisting causes the coils to expand in volume as they shorten in length, just like a muscle.

The researchers found that if they made the fiber form larger coils in the same direction as the initial twists, the fibers contracted. If the fibers were made to coil in the opposite direction from the twist, the fibers expanded. By combining large quantities of these twisted fibers, the team could produce artificial muscles with above-average characteristics.

In their study, the scientists compared their artificial muscles to natural ones. Biological muscles contract to only about 20 percent of their length, while these artificial muscles contract to over 50 percent of their length. In addition, the synthetic versions can lift loads over 100 times heavier than human muscles of the same length and weight can handle. The twisted fibers can generate over 5 kilowatts of mechanical work per kilogram of muscle weight, which is similar to the output of a jet engine.

These are not the first artificial muscles to have been created, but they are among the first that are inexpensive and store large amounts of energy. The team that developed them believes the heat-dependent contraction, low cost, and the ability to store large amounts of energy make these fibers ideal candidates for a huge range of applications, including medical devices, clothing, prosthetic limbs, and even home automation. Some day, your blinds may open and close on their own as coiled fibers respond to the weather.