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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Wednesday, 07 August 2013 19:44

Poisoned Fish Inhabit California Lakes

We at Shotem and Caughtem built this website based on our love of the great outdoors.  Even more important to us is the ability to pass this tradition down to future generations.  Many groups have been attacking the sport, but reports like this are usually made as a result of our industry as a whole.  Unfortunately the mistakes of past generations has a direct bearing on what we leave behind for the next.  As such, the northern half of California has issued a ban on fish consumption from local rivers and lakes due to high mercury levels contained in the fish.  

The new advisory recommends that women between the ages of 18 and 45 and children under 18 should avoid eating bass, carp and brown trout larger than 16 inches because of a risk of methyl mercury exposure, which has been shown to damage the brain and nervous system.

Some species of fish, including bullhead, catfish and bluegill, are acceptable for consumption at one serving a week. Species that are safe to eat include wild-caught rainbow trout and small brown trout. The advisory and guidelines stem from OEHHA's evaluation of 272 lakes and reservoirs, and 2,600 fish samples.

The advisory combined mercury data from fish in California lakes that currently do not have advisories and compared those mercury levels to acceptable human exposure levels.

In the Sacramento region, at Folsom Lake and Lake Notoma, the advisory recommends following the new guidelines if the fish caught are not covered by already set location-specific guidelines.  In the Sierra, the guidelines apply to lakes including Lake Wildwood, Scotts Flat and Bullards Bar, as well as the Union Valley Reservoir.

The guidelines dovetail with what is known about streams in the Delta, where fish sampling has established the presence of high mercury levels due to historic mining operations in the late 19th century, where mercury was widely used. A recently released study found that sportfish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed had higher concentrations of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) than anywhere else in the state.

The advisories can be found at www.oehha.ca.gov/fish.html.

 
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 23:43

Pike County Kids and Great Fishing

We at Shotem and Caughtem could not be more excited when we hear these three words.  Kids, outdoors and competition.  So when we read this story we felt it was worth repeating.  We only hope that some of our younger ones will take apart of sharing their bragging rights here on Shotem and Caughtem in the galleries.

Girls took the top prizes in all three age divisions at the 2013 Pike County Kids’ Fishing Day at Clay Hill Farms and they did so with flair and style.

The winner in each age division was determined by the total weight of their stringer of fish.

Autumn Adamson won the five to seven age division with 10 fish weighing 16 pounds. Brianna Adkinson caught nine fish that weighed 12 pounds to take the prize in the age eight and nine division. The age 11-13 division champ was Haley Middlebrooks with 10 fish at 13 pounds.

Pike County Conservation Officer Jerry Jinright congratulated the winners of the fishing competition as well as all of the boys and girls who came out to participate. He also expressed appreciation to the parents and other adults who spent a morning fishing with the children.

“We had a very good turnout for the free Kids’ Fishing Day this year,” Jinright said. “We had 68 kids who caught 170 catfish with a total weight of 223 pounds. The fish were biting and everyone seemed to have a good time.”

Let us know your comments on sharing the great outdoors with your children in the comment section below or share to the bragging walls.

When we at Shotem and Caughtem were young our Dad took us to Aspen Colorado for Memorial Day Weekend.  While we were there he had planned a trip to one of Aspens great trout fishing lakes.  We hope that some other Dad's out there will be making the same kind of trip this Memorial Day Weekend.  Aspen Colorado has some of the best fishing lakes and streams in Colorado.  As we reported earlier last week it is a perfect time to go trout fishing with the recent caddis hatch and we wanted to give you a fishing report. 

To match the recent hatch it looks like the weather will be perfect for spring trout.  Temperatures all weekend look to be in the low 70's making some of the hikes needed to get to the best lakes and areas very comfortable.  Also, it will bring the fish closer to the shoreline during the mid day so the fish can warm their bodies and hunt.  

We at Shotem and Caughtem have a great trick for those of you that have never tried trout fishing in lakes.  Especially the ones that are rarely fished because they require a bit of a hike.  Just an hour hike can get you to some great lakes around Aspen.  Here is the tip.  With a small rod and reel, a handful of small hooks and weights, a couple of light weight bobbers, and a can of Jolly Green Giant Corn you have all the gear you need for fishing.  I was able to fit all this plus some survival gear in a small backpack weighing about 10 pounds.  

If you know of a great Aspen Colorado fishing lake and have some tips and tricks you use for trout fishing let us know in the comment section below.  As always share your Memerial Day catches in the Caughtem gallery and share you story.  Please check with local laws and regulations before your adventure.  

 

We at Shotem and Caughtem read the news that spring Small Mouth Bass fishing Season has been halted in Pennsylvania and we thought we would pass along the news.  Many fishermen and woman love small mouth bass fishing throughout the United States.  Noticing conditions that have caused the problems in PA might help other states react faster to not cause this type of cancellation in other states.  If you have witnessed some of your catches showing signs like the ones in PA please advise your state Wildlife and Parks division.  Noticing these types of signs early might help prevent declines or transfer of a potentially harmful disease to other fish species.  Let us know if you have had similar occurrences in your area as many states have fought algae blooms due to the recent drought conditions in the comment section below.  

Over the past decade, the decline of one of the most prized freshwater sport-fish species -- the smallmouth bass -- has puzzled anglers and scientists.

Populations that once thrived throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed -- including the lower Susquehanna River -- have experienced fishkills and perplexing illnesses, according to a recent report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The problems include lesions, blotchy skin, shorter lifespans and abnormal sexual development in which males grow eggs in their testes, said Harry Campbell, the foundation's Pennsylvania executive director.

A myriad of influences are coming together to threaten the smallmouth bass, Campbell said. Phosphorus and nitrogen pollution have been linked to spring algal blooms that create low-oxygen conditions that stress fish.

"These algae blooms occur when our smallmouth fry are most vulnerable to infection," said John Arway, executive director of the commission in a conference call hosted by the foundation.

Younger populations of smallmouth bass are dying at "unprecedented rates," Campbell said.

With shorter lifespans for adults and juveniles not living to adulthood, the overall population is feared to be near collapse, he said.

The loss of this species will have serious environmental and economic impacts, Campbell said.

In the Susquehanna River, smallmouth bass populations have plummeted, with catch rates of adults falling 80 percent between 2001 and 2005, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Subsequent studies by the commission have found that populations have not recovered.

This decline prompted the state agency to impose emergency regulations that prohibited fishing for the species in much of the river from May 1 to June 15, 2012, and again this year.

 

We at Shotem and Caughtem discussed last week our ideas on how to get access to great fishing spots on private land.  However, what if you have the land, a water source and want to create your own perfect private fishing hole.  Here are some great ways to go about planning a fishing spot of your own.  Let us know if you have created a pond before and what has worked for you in the comment section below.  As always post your photos of your big catches in the Caughtem Gallery and tell us your story.

Site Selection

A good fish pond should cover no less than half an acre and be six or eight feet deep over at least a quarter of its total surface area. The ideal spot for locating a mini-lake is in a well-banked gully that can offer five acres of watershed for each acre of pond surface. Such a land hollow will provide a ready-made basin for your little reservoir, and any narrow section of the draw will present a logical site for your dam.

When you're first choosing a site for a fishing hole, you can use stakes, string, and a level to predict the general shoreline that will be created when a dammed up area is filled. Just as important, though, is the need to figure the total volume of the projected body of water (you'll need such information to help you properly stock and manage your fishery). The easiest way to determine the capacity is to first calculate your lake's surface acreage. (If the pond's contour is irregular, you can estimate that area by sections and add the segments together . . . just remember that one acre equals 43,560 square feet.) Then take several measurements at different spots until you can reasonably approximate the average depth of your pond. Finally, multiply the latter figure by the surface acreage, and you'll have the pond's total volume in acre-feet. (For instance, a one-acre pond that averages six feet in depth would have a volume of six acre feet.)

Leaking Ponds

The pondmaker's worst nightmare—leakage—is easier to prevent than it is to cure. If your property is composed of predominantly clay soil, the ground will probably seal well without any trouble. (You can test your earth's water holding ability by squeezing a lightly dampened handful of the soil in your hand. If the clod retains its shape when you open your fist, you should be in business.)

But if your land is mostly made up of rocky or sandy soil—or if you've heard of other ponds in your vicinity going dry—it will be best to take some preventive measures. One common tactic is to cut a key way, or trench, where you plan to erect the dam: This vertical slot should be carved so deeply that its base lies below the lowest point of your intended pond. You can then fill up that trench with trucked-in clay (or line it with heavy grade plastic), packing the barrier tightly as you work . . . and continue to pile up the waterproof material to form a firm core that's as high as the finished dam (see the accompanying illustration).

You may also need to seal the bottom of the pond. Many folks use overlapping sheets of dirt-covered plastic for this task . . . but simply covering the bed with a tightly tamped foot deep layer of clay soil also works quite well. Or, you might want to try the do-it-yourself sealer-developed in the U.S.S.R.—known as gley. To make the "biological plastic," first thoroughly cover your pond's bottom and sides with pig manure. Then add a thick layer of vegetative matter — such as freshly cut grass, green leaves, and flattened cardboard cartons — and follow that organic matter with a layer of soil. Tamp the three-tiered sealant well, let the mixture cure for three weeks, and then fill your pond.

Another trick many do not know about is here in the Midwest we are watching a lot of drilling rigs go up in the area.  Go and ask one of the foreman if they have anywhere they are dumping their slurry.  This is the bi-product of drilling usually consisting of clay, rock and water almost like a liquid concrete.  They have trouble finding places close by to dispose of the bi-product and will gladly dump the material essentially sealing your pond for free (cost wise at least).  It usually comes out of a spray attachment mounted to the back of the truck to help give you a nice even coat.  Allow the material a week or two to dry since it usually has toxins that could hurt your ecosystem.  Do not stock your pond right away since it takes a little time to re balance from the slurry (hence the not so free aspect).

Managing Your Fish Populations

You may wonder why I'm making all this fuss about proper stocking when you could probably seed a pond yourself, using a few wild fish caught in a nearby creek or lake. The problem with such stocking shortcuts is that "local" fish will too often set your pond out of balance and thus severely reduce your useful protein yield. When you caretake a miniature water world, you're responsible for maintaining a complete, ongoing aqueous ecosystem, and — as you'll soon learn — keeping the fish population in a pond properly balanced between predator and prey species is the most difficult job in fishpond management.

In fact, having an incorrectly proportioned stock of even the proper piscines can actually throw a pond out of whack as quickly as will introducing the wrong species. Suppose you're sorely tempted by the fast-growing foot-long bass you see in your new pond. So you throw out a line and catch—with ease—most of the eager, finny youngsters.

Well, all of a sudden your bluegills (who will have fewer predators to limit their numbers) will start multiplying rapidly. You'll soon have more fish sharing the same amount of food, and—before long—instead of raising "two or three to a pound" eating-size bream, you'll find yourself stuck with lots of tiny "30 to the pound" utterly useless specimens. (On top of that, the excess bluegill will then eat bass eggs along with most all of the bass fry still left around . . . and you'll wind up with a very few lunker bass and a jillion minnow-sized bluegills in your pond.)

Of course, it's also possible to find yourself with the opposite problem: a pond full of too many small bass and a few large bream. To avoid such extreme situations, you'll have to continually work at keeping a proper proportion of the two fish species in your pond. This task is not always easy. All too often, an owner lets his or her pond get too much fishing pressure in its first year, and then not enough use after that.

It's generally best not to fish the pond at all during its first year. The bluegill (which should be stocked half a year before the bass) will then have a chance to spawn and provide better forage for the predator species. You may also need to wait until after the second year of your pond's life to begin harvesting any of the bass (to give the slow-reproducing fish a chance to spawn).

When both bass and bluegill are ready to be caught, try to harvest the species according to the same ratio—by weight—in which they were stocked. You should be able to monitor the yield by watching your angling success. When you're catching undersized bluegill faster than you can bait a hook (while once in a while landing a huge bass), your pond is out of balance. But when you haul in a mixture of five-to six-inch bream that weigh six to eight ounces apiece, along with one-to two-pound bass (and some smaller throw-them-back largemouths that are coming along fine) . . . well then, your fish populations are in good shape.

We wanted to talk about management before stocking because many people get so excited to use there new fishing spot that they immediately start throwing in fish they love to catch.  The most important rule to a good fishing pond is finding that perfect ecosystem.  Each pond or lake can be different that the one sitting right next to it.  One might spawn the largest bass you have ever seen and the next have awesome catfish with no bass at all.  Funny part was you never put catfish in either one.  Mother Nature always has a way of naturally stocking a pond.  It might take a little more time but she always finds a way.  Waterfowl carry fish eggs from streams and ponds to other streams and ponds and before you know it if your pond has the right stuff you have fish.  A friend had the "perfect stocked pond scenario" until three years later when we pulled a couple of crappie out of his water.  "I never put crappie in there," turned into a nice crappie hole with little to no bass which was not what he designed.  

More importantly the perfect fishing pond is different for everyone.  What has worked for your neighbor might not work for you.  The most important part of the equation is not to get frustrated and realize the basics.  If you have a good water source that can provide life through the workings of mother nature with a little tweaking you can create a perfect environment for a great fishing pond.  If it happens the first time out, pat yourself on the back, history says it might take a little trial and error to find the perfect balance. 

We at Shotem and Caughtem love fishing.  Some of the best spots to catch fish we have found are the little honey holes located on ranches and farms all over the nation.  The only hard part to this equation is getting the nerve to ask permission to access some of these hidden gems.  While many ranches and farms are leased for hunting, many ranch and farm ponds go decades without even having a line dropped in the water.  We feel it is the last great hidden gem and ponds/watersheds like this have gone unfished for decades.  Many times this equals big fish stocked by Mother Nature.  Here are some tips on how we have gained access to some of the best untouched fishing spots around the country.

For the last decade farmers and ranchers have been bombarded by people asking permission to hunt or lease their property.  Many have ruined the old school way we were able to access these great waters.  When I first got addicted to the Shotem and Caughtem lifestyle a nice smile, and giving the landowner some food or drink was all you needed to gain access to great ponds.  Those days are long gone.  Most ranches and farms now supplement their incomes with leasing out property to hunters but not many people want to fish these properties.  So how do we get access?

As always much of this can be a who you know kind of scenerio.  You might have a family member or friend that could act as your broker to access your ability to get to a hidden gem.  We have found that good old fashioned hard work and sweat are the best way to gain access.  Many ranch and farm owners are starting to get older.  They find that many of the chores they did around the farm are getting hard to do.  With their limited income in their later years they can not afford to hire someone to get things done.  

Enter eager fisherman.  Many of the great spots we have had the opportunity to get access to have come from us doing the things that need to be done in exchange for some quality time at their watersheds.  We use google maps to find great watersheds, county maps and parcel information to get the names of the owners and then track them down through different means of public records.  A simple phone call can answer many questions as to whether you might gain access.  Do not lead with I want access to your watershed.  It might take you a couple of visits to gain the trust of the landowner and some extra work to show you are on the up and up.  Many afternoon days are too hot for good fishing.  Early morning and nights are the best times.  It works out perfect.  We show up early get a couple hours of fishing in then work mid morning til mid afternoon then back to the watershed.  We get access to great spots and the landowner gets some help around the property.  Win, Win!

Let us know how you get access to your favorite watershed in the comment section below and share your monster fish photos in the Caughtem gallery and tell us your story.  Happy Fishing!  

 

With drought conditions in the Midwest continuing to put pressure on water levels in rivers, lakes and ponds we went looking for solutions to how we can still get to good spots for fishing.  Many water levels will be low enough at the start of the spring fishing season that many spots we would normally fish will be hard to access by different types of fishing boats.  Boat ramps, river access points and low water tables will make it hard and risky for many fisherman and woman to get to many areas that provide the best fishing spots.  Due to the fact that areas prime for fishing will be crowded by those who have not thought of other means, we wanted to find a great way to get away from the crowd.  We think the solution is the Kayak.  

Kayaks are not just a boat used to whisk ones self down a river of rapids.  They have evolved to be quite the nice little fishing rig for conditions such as the ones we might be facing this year due to the drought.  They are fairly light weight, small and could be pulled by hand or by smaller machines to give you access to areas many boats can't.  They need very little water to travel through so hitting some low spots here and there to get to deeper water in rivers and along edges of lakes and ponds where trees and other hazards might start to become a factor will be less of a problem in a kayak.  Many of todays kayaks offer multiple places to hold rods, tackle and other needs as well as live wells for your big catches.  They can be transported on roof racks, small trailers, pickup truck beds, by ATV's and UTV's allowing you to get to even the most remote spots with all the gear you need.  

Some other pros from fishing from a kayak might come during the catch itself.  Due to its light weight nature should you hook into a decent size fish the capabilities of you and your vessel being involved in the fight itself is greatly enhanced.  Many fisherman talk about hooking into a good size fish and being dragged around by the fish as it fights its way towards and away from the boat.  

Some of the Cons to fishing from this vessel are the fact that it tends to be a one man or woman in one boat type of adventure.  They are not a platform that we would recommend buying one day, loading up and going out the next.  They require a bit of time to get use to when it comes to proper weight distribution and making sure you are comfortable paddling so that you avoid tipping over.  More importantly they do not allow you to transport the amount of beverages that we feel is necessary for a successful fishing trip.  

Though many of the pros will outweigh the cons once you have mastered the capabilities of the kayak, we at Shotem and Caughtem feel they will provide a perfect vessel to access good fishing spots.  With drought conditions likely to continue this year we feel they might be a good option for those that might worry that their fishing boats might just collect dust or not get them to the spots they love to go.  Let us know how you might get to remote fishing spots in the comment section below or post your solutions to the Gear gallery and tell us your story.

Friday, 15 March 2013 20:23

Fly Fishing's Fatal Attraction

Those of us at Shot em' and Caught em' would not say that we have devoted the time to fly fishing but the art of it is mystifying.  The beautiful sway back and forth that takes so much time to perfect.  The look of a shallow stream and the sun glistening off the rapids.  It all makes for quite the scene in our minds.  But for Dan Blanton it comes down to finding the big fish and he found the perfect fly to bring them to the shore line.  We thought we would pass along the information of what he calls a Fatal Attraction.  Let us know what you use on your fly fishing rigs in the comments section below or post a photo to the Gear Section and tell us your story. 


As the warm weather is quickly approaching, it is time to blow the dust off the rod and reels and get ready for some summer fun. Be it sitting on your favorite farm pond or zipping across the bass filled lake at 70 mph to beat your buddies to your favorite fishing hole. Shot em' and Caught em' thought these proven tips might give you a bigger bass to post to the Caughtem Gallery and brag to the world.  We found this article/video and thought we would pass along the information.


Friday, 01 March 2013 21:30

Early Spring Fishing Tips

So we at Shotem and Caughtem can not wait to start fishing.  With the Midwest covered in snow we thought we might use this time to dust of the tackle boxes and ready the lines and poles for it won't be long and water temperatures will start to rise.  The itch to watch a bass fly out of the water chasing a hoola popper and the beginning of Turkey season means that we outdoors men and woman can come out of hibernation!  With this in mind we thought we would offer some cold water tips and tricks for fishing.  As always leave us your comments below and we can't wait to see what our members start pulling out of the water on our Caughtem gallery in the months to come.

In early spring water temp. is probably the most important factor for me. The second would be water clarity. By asking these two questions I can pick out what part of the lake or river I should concentrate on, in order to locate the most aggressive fish for this given time of year. Notice I said the most aggressive, because you can catch fish on other areas of the lake. I want to find the best area, and then fine tune that pattern to the next step.Water temp is crucial because I have to keep in mind that the bass and its food source is cold blooded. So I want to find the warmest water that I can find. This is where water clarity will play into the picture. Water clarity will let me know how the bass will be able to hunt its prey.

Lets look further into water temp first. If the water temp is 55 degrees then the bass will be moving fairly slow, but not at a turtles pace. So the bass will need either cover or another camoflauge to aid him and off colored water will enable him to be successful. Off colored water will also be warmer this time of year and the reason is because the dirt particles in the water will also collect and hold heat. Lets say if the water temp. is 65 degrees then I may choose clearer water because then the bass would be able to use its speed as an aid in capturing its prey. But in a colder water situation he will use his surroundings in every way possible, a bass will and so will all predators use its surrounding to stay alive but we must learn how and when he will feed depending on the season/ current weather. This will enable us to be much more successful as well.

Depending on the geographic region of the lake, will tell you a lot about the lake itself. I classify lakes in six different categories highland (rocky), midland (hilly), lowland (semi hill with flatland), flatland (usually river type lake), river systems, and natural lakes. I will discuss further into this in an later article, but just be aware of this.

All lakes can be broken down into four sections. The first is the lower section and that is the dam area, the second is the mid section of the lake where the lake usually starts to narrow down and the lake will have more creeks in this area, the upper section is the third area and is where the lake begins to turn into more of a river, and the forth would be where the lakes river runs into the head water, you will have more current here and it is usually present year round.

For a quick run down on how I will begin fishing the lake in the early spring and on into late spring. I will focus on the second section in early spring on most lakes. The reason is this area will have some off colored water that I spoke of earlier and the water is a little shallower as well and this will help in warmer water. (the deeper the water the longer it takes for it to warm up.) I will look for the main river or creek channels that will swing in close to a bluff wall or channel bank and I will want it to have some type of cover on it rock, gravel, or stumps. I’ll fish a crank bait or a rattle trap in a crawfish pattern until I locate some fish. It would appear that I would be fishing fast, because I would keep my boat moving but at the same time I would be fishing my bait fairly slow. One of my favorite technuqes for this time of year is to fish a rattle trap and hop it or yo yo it off the bottom like a crawfish trying to escape.

I will fish these channel banks moving from one to the next until I locate a school of fish, and once I did that I should be able to go to the next creek and fish the same section/location of that creek and duplicate the pattern. (note that I will keep fishing several creeks until I have eliminated all of them in this section of the lake.

As the water keeps warming I will be able to go to the third section of the lake and repeat the same thing all over again, then I’ll move to the river section and finally to the dam area. This process will last for about three to four weeks depending on the size of the lake.

What I am doing here is keeping myself in the prespawn stage and this will be the easiest fish to catch in the spring.

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