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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 have noticed that throughout the fishing world it is peek season for the Take your Kids Fishing Programs.  There seem to be a plethora of different events and programs throughout the United States geared and stocked to get the fishing world to grab a child and get them outdoors.  We could not be happier and more supportive of any program that involves special things to get them out and teach them about the great outdoors.  All of us hunters and fisherman/woman remember our childhood and our times with friends and family in the great outdoors.  These programs have either done some extra stocking of rivers and lakes or have set up some fun filled events surrounding fishing and the great outdoors.  We hope that many of our readers will look into the different programs in their local area and take advantage of these events to help train and educate the next generation about the great outdoors.  If you find any great events in your area post them to the events section in the caughtem gallery or tell us about yours in the comment section below.  Most of all post your monster catches with your kids to the Caughtem Gallery and brag about your adventure.  Here are just a few of the tips if you happen to be taking advantage of these great programs.

Monday, 06 May 2013 22:52

Midwest Turkey Hunting Last Weekend

We at Shotem and Caughtem ventured out again last weekend hoping the warmer and colder weather might have broken up the turkey allowing us to call them in this weekend.  As you can see from the lack of photos we were again unsuccessful.  Though our buddy seemed to be in the right place last weekend, we again this weekend witnessed that many of the toms and jakes were still henned up.  Due to this reason we were not able to break them away from each other and lure them into our decoys.  We are planning to make another trip out soon and hope that the warmer forecast will increase our odds of a successful hunt.  Let us know if your still in turkey season what patterns you have witnessed in the comment section below.  As always brag about your accomplishments in the Shotem Wall.  We hope that some of us soon will be able to play the my beard is longer game!


Yes we at Shotem and Caughtem have been doing a lot of blogs on the invasive feral hog problem.  Luckily so far they have stayed clear of Kansas but this article started to raise even our eyebrows.  We have hunted hogs in Oklahoma and Texas and have witnessed this animals destructive power and ability to out wit and out breed even the most dedicated hunters.  But know they are starting to have problems in even the far Northern States and we felt we would add our two cents on the subject.  If like with any invasive species the Wildlife and Parks for each state would adopt the Missouri rule of thumb I doubt we would have the problems of illegal transport of these horrible wild animals.  Missouri has waged an all out war on the animal and we praise their efforts in this fight.  No license, no permits we don't care just help us get rid of the animals is Missouri's stance.  Day or Night.  We at Shotem and Caughtem do not want to see armed men and women roaming people's properties or state parks shooting at everything they see but we also know that no farmer or rancher want these animals anywhere near their properties.  Candace, one of our members, of the Queens of Camo has plenty of experience with hogs should you need a second good resource to ask questions about hog hunting.  Send her a message on their discussion forum http://www.shotemandcaughtem.com/groups-main/viewdiscussion/5-ask-the-queens-of-camo.html?groupid=2

But the pig wars are moving north. In Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania — states where not long ago the only pigs were of the “Charlotte’s Web” variety — state officials are scrambling to deal with an invasion of roaming behemoths that rototill fields, dig up lawns, decimate wetlands, kill livestock, spread diseases like pseudo-rabies and, occasionally, attack humans.

In 1990, fewer than two million wild pigs inhabited 20 states, according to John J. Mayer, the manager of the environmental science group at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C., who tracked the state populations. That number has now risen to six million, with sightings in 47 states and established populations in 38 — “a national explosion of pigs,” as Dr. Mayer put it.

The swine are thought to have spread largely after escaping from private shooting preserves and during illegal transport by hunters across state lines. Experts on invasive species estimate that they are responsible for more than $1.5 billion in annual agricultural damage alone, amounting in 2007 to $300 per pig. The Agriculture Department is so concerned that it has requested an additional $20 million in 2014 for its Wildlife Services program to address the issue.

There is wide agreement that the pigs are undesirable — like the Asian carp that is threatening to invade the Great Lakes, but far bigger, meaner and mounted on four legs. But efforts to eradicate or at least contain them have been hampered by the lack of a national policy to deal with invasive species as a whole, the slowness of states to recognize the problem and the bickering between agencies about who is responsible for dealing with them.

“As a nation, we have not thought through this invasive species problem, and we just have disaster after disaster after disaster,” said Patrick Rusz, the director of wildlife services at the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. Dr. Rusz, who travels around the state educating farmers about the menace posed by the wild pigs and encouraging them to set traps on their land, is so avid a hog-hater that in the early stages of Michigan’s invasion, he went to bars to eavesdrop on hunters who might have spotted the porcine invaders.

At least in Michigan, Dr. Rusz said, the pigs appear to be winning — their numbers are estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 and growing. Wild pigs are virtual Houdinis, able to dig or climb over almost any barrier; pig experts are fond of saying that “if a fence won’t hold water, it won’t hold a wild pig.”

Allowing hunters to shoot them in the wild all year round, as Michigan and other states do, is not in itself enough to limit the population, Dr. Rusz said. So trapping is an important component of wild pig control, as are bans on owning or breeding the animals.

But state bans like an invasive species order issued by Michigan in 2011, which prohibited ownership of Russian wild boar and other feral swine, have been opposed by shooting preserves and other businesses with a stake in keeping them.  We at Shotem and Caughtem hope all states change their minds and let us hunters start to post more photos of our kills as long as we have permission and a hunters license from any state.  Let us know your feelings on the subject in the comment section below and as always we will be bragging about our Wild Hog kills in the Shotem Gallery.

Thursday, 02 May 2013 13:52

Some Basic Fishing Tips and Tricks

We at Shotem and Caughtem, as is probably the case around much of the United States, have been frustrated with the recent weather.  Hot, cold, hot then cold.  This has not only wreaked havoc on our Turkey Hunting Season but has also caused a delay in our fishing.  Hence the reason we have not been flooding the galleries with new photos of our adventures.  So we decided that getting as much information to help us start the season right was the best way to calm our need to be outdoors.  With this in mind we thought we would offer some tips on getting ready to cast that first line in the water.  Let us know some of the tactics you use to catch that monster fish in the comment section below or post your photos to the gallery and tell  us your story.  Don't worry the season will be here before you know it.

• Use the right gear: No matter how you slice it, there’s no one rod, reel, bait, or lure that will get the job done in every situation with as much success as gear tailored to specific fishing tasks. Choosing the right tackle means thinking about more than what kind of fish you plan to catch. Your surroundings, weight of baits and lures, distance you need to cast, and fighting ability of the species, are just a few factors that must be considered when gear shopping.

• Farm your own bait: Worms can attract more fish than any other bait, but they’re often difficult to find just when you need them most. Consider propagating your own steady supply of wigglers with a worm farm.

• Perfect your techniques: In many cases, subtle nuances that change the presentation of bait or lure in a minor way can produce major results. The more techniques you have in your repertoire, the better prepared you’ll be to catch fish under any conditions.

• Listen to Mother Nature: Believe it or not, there are other methods of figuring out when the fishing’s hot besides looking up Internet reports. For example, if it’s fall and you want giant walleyes, wait until the same time leaves start falling. The air temperature will likely be cold enough to lower local water temperatures to a range that kicks on the walleyes’ instinct to pack on the pounds before winter.

• Find your secret fishing spot: Those little ponds in manicured neighborhoods and tucked behind strip malls can surprise you with bass, pickerel, crappies, and bluegills that are bigger and less pressured than those in the closest reservoir. Use Google Maps, to find those small bodies of water, searching a mile or two at a time in all directions. For hidden gems, focus on housing developments, shopping centers, and office complexes.

• Sneak Up on Fish: Fish are extremely sensitive to vibrations and instantly become wary when they sense an intruder. After wading into a new area, stand perfectly still for two minutes. It will feel like an hour, but you’ll get more strikes. In a boat, approach the area you plan to fish at a low speed and wait two minutes after shutting off your motor before casting.

We at Shotem and Caughtem had an interesting conversation on twitter last night with one of our followers.  He had taken a picture out of his back window of a wolf standing by a pond on his property.  We commented on what a beautiful animal it was and he commented back about how they have effected the Elk populations in his area.  This started the discussion on hunting predators as a need to maintain a balance.  It was a great debate so we felt we would get others input on their thoughts regarding the predator and prey balance.  He is from Idaho where the increase in bear and wolves have had there effects on deer and elk populations.  We are from Kansas where coyotes and hawks have had an effect on our rabbit, turkey, quail and pheasant populations.  However, the lack of apex predators such as mountian lions and wolves has caused an increase in our deer populations.  Their has also been pressure from the drought conditions we have experienced in the Midwest.  So we have not only done a little research as to the nature selection process but we have also set up a forum discussion to get more peoples input.  We hope that it gets both sides of this age old debate to think about our involvement as hunters and conservationists.  We always want to make sure that we have hunting available for not only ourselves year to year but also for future generations.  It is striking that balance that has been debated across the world.  We hope you leave your thoughts in the comment section below or join our discussion in the forum section  http://www.shotemandcaughtem.com/groups-main/viewdiscussion/8-predator-prey-balance-hunting-and-conservation.html?groupid=2



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!  


We at Shotem and Caughtem reported on the possible bill a couple of months ago.  Now it is official.  Oklahoma landowners can now take to the skies to hunt feral wild pigs and coyotes.  Let us know your thoughts on the subject in the comment section below or post photos of your hunt to the Shotem gallery. 

Oklahoma landowners would be able to take to the skies to hunt feral hogs and other “depredating animals” under a bill signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Fallin signed the bill Wednesday that’s intended to help landowners control growing populations of wild hogs that have become a problem in many rural parts of the state. The wild animals are known to tear up cropland, destroy fences and spread diseases.

State law already allows the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to authorize people with a big-game commercial hunting area license to hunt wild hogs and other depredating animals— like coyotes — from aircraft. The bill signed by Fallin expands the law to include landowners and those hired by landowners.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 20:09

Tarpon Fishing along the Florida Coast

The spring fishing season has started to kick off along the Florida Coast.  After watching this past weekend of River Monsters with Jeremy Wade, apparently Tarpon season is in full swing along the coast as they migrate to spring spawning locations.  Here are some tips to landing your own River Monster should you be in the area or thinking about making a fun fishing trip.  Let us know about your experiences in the comment section below and share your photos of your River Monsters in the Caughtem gallery section and tell us your story.

Tarpon are making their presence made from down in the Ten Thousand Islands to off Fort Myers Beach. These are the big fish on the annual trek up to Boca Grande, and then offshore to spawn.

Fish are being hooked up that range from 80 to 180 pounds, and the two favored methods are live bait or cut bait. One of the most effective cut baits is the lowly catfish.

Catch a few catfish, cut off the head and the tail, and put the chunk on an 8- to 10-ought circle hook. Put the bait out in a likely area, and then place the pole in a holder. Sit back and enjoy a cold one while you wait.

When one of the large silver-side monsters picks up a bait, you quickly will understand the power these fish can put out. Make sure you use appropriate tackle. While it is nice to use lighter tackle, it can really stress out the tarpon. A well-worn-out fish also makes a great target for a huge shark. Get your fish to the boat quickly and take a picture with the fish in the water, and then safely release the fish for another day.

The linesider snook are also in the mix, and they are really starting to bite well. With spawning months of May through June just ahead, the fish are more than eager to eat an offered bait. Artificials work well early in the morning and later just before dark. For the rest of the fishing day, live pilchards are the best bait around.

When the water is somewhat high, make sure to get your bait well under the branches. While we are seeing a good number of slot-sized fish, a lot of us don’t think that there are enough to warrant the reopening of snook season this fall. There are a lot of snook, but not enough of the large breeders when compared to the year before the big freeze back in 2010. Please carefully release all snook.

Large trout continue to fill out dinner menus for area anglers. Some of these fish are so large you will think you have latched onto a good-sized red. Remember that these trout don’t freeze well. Keep only what you will eat in the next day or so. Trout are hitting live bait, shrimp, and a variety of artificial baits. Look for them anywhere from the passes to the grass flats.

Pompano are to be found around the passes, and especially on the flats adjacent to those passes. If you are running on plane over one of these areas, it is not uncommon to “skip” some pompano behind the boat. If that happens, make a big loop, shut down and fish that area where you saw the fish. Bright-colored jigs that are tipped with shrimp work well, but sand fleas are hard to beat.

Red grouper are on the feed in offshore waters. Fish in the 30-inch range are being boated by area anglers. Live bait or cut bait will work well on these guys. If you don’t have some “numbers” for a fish-producing area, use your bottom reader to find some hard bottom, and try a drift or two over the area to find the fish. Once you get a hook up, hit the man-overboard feature to instantly mark the location. You then can go back and anchor up to see if the area will produce numbers of fish. A little chum will help.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 19:44

Midwest Turkey Hunting Last Weekend

We at Shotem and Caughtem took advantage of the nicer weather last weekend, except for the wind, to venture out and go on our first Turkey hunt of the season.  Though we did not come home with a turkey we did make some observations that might delay many hunters from going out in to the field here in the Midwest.  This is what we observed and our thoughts on how the weather has effected the season so far.  Let us know how your hunt has gone so far, your observations and what has worked for you in the comment section below.  As always post your adventures to the Shotem gallery and tell us your story.

This weekend we got the opportunity to watch plenty of turkey from a distance, just did not get the chance to bring one home.  We arrived to our hunting spot around 2 in the afternoon in hopes that the warmer afternoon temperatures would split some of the larger toms away from the groups.  We were excited since on our way into our location we had seen a couple of birds at a distance so we knew they were within calling distance.  After about an hour we saw one turkey at about 250 yards pop out from a hedge row and begin foraging in the field we were hunting.  After a couple of calls with no response we figured it was a lone hen.  This made us hopeful that the larger groups might have started to break up which would allow us to call in that big tom.  Unfortunately, a couple of hours later a large group of about 12 hens, a large tom and a jake rounded the corner about 200 yards away.  Though I was able to get a couple of responses from the tom when calling they never separated from their flock.  Not even the smaller Jake.  

We took this as a sign that many of the hens from this flock were still in need of a partner and that the larger males from any of the two larger groups we saw were going to have nothing to do with our calling or our decoys.  The recent weather fluctuations have apparently caused a delay in the breeding season which means unless you have a tom decoy and can provoke a fight, the larger toms are not going to leave their flocks.  We only saw a few birds that were not in the larger groups and have concluded that they might have just been temporarily separated from the flock and not the random toms out looking for more mates.  We are planning to go out again this weekend and will let you know how things have changed.  

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