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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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Hunting the Right Place at the Right Time

Although research confirms that the whitetail rut takes place at virtually the exact same time every year, most hunters know that the rut’s intensity varies from day to day and season to season. As much as your head spins with the mental images of scrapes, full moons, rubs, monster bucks, and rut-crazed chase scenes, the best times to be in the woods will rarely coincide with calendar anniversaries. Through years of personal experience and research gathered from other hunters, I have discovered three critical rut-­influencing elements that can help you tame the annual madness, and also help you predict what I refer to as “high-­intensity rut-hunting days” with great precision. So, let’s leave the long-range rut prognostications behind and get down to brass tacks.

Published in Hunter and Angler Blog
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 23:25

Fish still bite after the melt

As the weather took a turn into the 60's today after about eight inches of snow just a week ago we felt it was a good time to remind people that just because it is cold doesn't mean there is still not great fishing to be done before the spring spawn.  Let us know your cold weather tips in the comment section below.

Since we like to sleep in, we really love the fact that the winter months allow anglers to get a late start.  Most often fish will be more active during the day under full sun conditions.  It’s almost a complete opposite of what we see in the summertime.  We’d say that the crappie, however, seem to bite a little better sometimes near sundown.

During the summer, we outdoor lovers preach fishing cover, shadows, darker water and getting out of the sun.  But in the winter, it seems that the gamefish will often be found in the shallower, clearer waters.  The little bit of warmth that the sun will offer is quite pleasant for the fish.  Bait fish will get into the brighter waters too, so needless to say, the gamefish follow.

Another reason for us to search for warmth is because the water is cold and fish being cold blooded will be less aggressive in colder water.  Their movement will be minimal. Although the fish will want to be in warmer shallower water, they’ll still stay close to some deeper water.  Call it the deep water sanctuary or fish’s home.  Fish like the quick access to the shallow water that can get warmed up with the sun and deeper water for safety.  Usually this is on the north side of lakes and northern shores of rivers where there are eddies and still water. That side is exposed to the sun longer.

With the cold water and cold fish, their bite will be light and hard to detect.  To catch fish like sauger or stripers from the river, light jigs and line with live bait (minnows) will be the way to go.

Published in News/Events
Friday, 24 January 2014 22:49

Cold Temps and Late Season Goose Hunting

We at Shotem and Caughtem would be remiss to not think that we may have the perfect weekend for hunting in store.  Recent cold temperatures in the midwest have made the goose populations rise.  Typically goose hunting is a cold weather sport.  However, this weekend much of the midwest will see a slight uptick in weather temperatures which may make for an unusually nice goose hunting experience.  

Goose offers that last quick hunt prior to a bit of a cold spell for hunting till the arrival of spring turkey season.  Goose hunting can also be the perfect practice session should you love turkey hunting.  Many of the same experiences hold true for both animals.  They require you to be still.  Practice your calling techniques.  Lay out decoys.  And lastly, let them get in close because many of them wear kevlar.  

We are lucky since we in the midwest have had decent moisture levels and the winter wheat fields started a decent growth prior to the deep freeze we have seen.  Also the fact that the wheat around our area at least has gone dormant means farmers are usually more apt to allowing small groups in their fields to help eliminate their goose problems should they have found their fields attractive.  It gives many hunters a perfect opportunity to meet new landowners by extending a helping hand.  "Sir or Mam, I was noticing that your wheat field contains a large goose population.  Would it be possible for me and a friend to help relieve you of some of your problems?"  Many farmers hate to see crop lose to geese since much of the plant is eaten by the animal and will not grow back once temperatures rise.  Also, geese will establish a pattern by hitting the same fields over and over sometimes completely wiping out a farmers crop.  

Let us know your goose hunting secrets or tricks in the comment section below.  As always share your adventures to the galleries and tell us your story.  

Published in News/Events
Friday, 10 January 2014 23:14

Willing to Brave the Cold?

We at Shotem and Caughtem thought we would end the week with a little trivia and information.  Should you be willing to fight through the cold or have access to a shelter on the ice and have the itch to fish, ice fishing is a great way to land a monster.  To wet your taste buds we thought we would find out some of the biggest catches on frozen waters.  Let us know your tricks to land the big one in the frigid cold in the comment section below.

As of February 8, 2013, Sederberg’s fish—estimated to be 40 to 44 pounds—officially replaces the Fresh Water Hall of Fame’s old world-record ice-fishing catch-and-release lake trout on pole and line, which was a 44-incher caught from Clear Water Lake in Manitoba, Canada, by Brent Danylko on April 11, 1920.

Still smiling Father Mariusz Zajak proudly displays his 18.30 pound walleye he landed while ice fishing on Tobin Lake, near the Resort Village of Tobin Lake, on Tuesday afternoon Jan. 4, 2005. The Roman Catholic priest now has legitimate bragging rights to the provincial record for walleye.

The all tackle world record, caught in New Jersey in 1865, weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces. It is the longest-standing, freshwater sport-fish record.

26-pound, 12-ounce catch is the new IGFA All-Tackle world record for landlocked Atlantic salmon. He set another record too catching it on 6-pound test line.

A Great Lakes muskie 58 inches long, with a girth of 29 inches. It weighed 58 pounds.

SOme massive fish are caught if one is willing to brave the cold.  We hope you take time to share your photos and adventures to the galleries and tell us your stories.  

Published in News/Events
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 23:18

Arctic Temps Will Change Whitetail Movements

Many states across the US are in Whitetail deer season.  Whether your are in the midst of rifle season or on bonus doe season the current weather conditions will have an affect on where you are going to find your prey.  We at Shotem and Caughtem thought we might provide hunters with some tips on where deer go to get out of the cold so that you spend less time in the elements.  We also felt it was a good chance for us to remind you to stay warm and look for signs that you might need to head in from the cold.  As always let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and stay warm. 

In winter, deer move to suitable cover. They move around less and decrease their metabolism and body temperature. This biological “fine-tuning” enables deer to conserve energy and survive our northern winters. Landowners in areas with deer winter range can have a direct influence on deer survival. The effects can be positive or negative. There are pros and cons about providing food for deer during the winter. 

In late summer and fall deer build up fat that will become winter fuel. Acorns and beech nuts -- often referred to as “mast” -- are valuable sources of this fat. Fat reserves can supply almost one third of a deer’s winter energy needs. Deer also produce hormones that regulate body activity. You might think deer would “crank up the heat” to stay warm, but the opposite is true. During winter the deer you see may appear normal, but internally they are operating in slow motion. Body temperature is lowered, particularly in the legs and ears. As the quality and quantity of the food declines, body functions such as digestion are also slowed. 

Deer also develop highly insulated winter coats. Dense inner fur and long, hollow outer hairs create a coat 10 times thicker than the summer coat. Newly-attired, they head for traditional winter ranges known as “deer yards.” 

Ideal wintering areas provide the shelter of conifers close to food supplies. Deer are able to conserve energy by “yarding up”. Conifers such as hemlock, cedar, pine and spruce catch snow on their branches and thus reduce the depth of snow beneath. Deer pack accumulated snow into a network of trails and runways. Trails allow deer to move easily between food and cover, saving valuable energy reserves. Conifers also reduce winds and moderate the temperature. On cold nights temperatures beneath heavy conifer cover can be ten degrees warmer than in open areas. Deer spend many hours lying under the protective boughs of these evergreens. 

In winter, deer subsist on buds and twigs of deciduous trees and shrubs such as yellow birch, hazel, dogwood, mountain, striped, red and sugar maple. Cedar and hemlock foliage also provide food. 

As winter progresses, the survival of deer depends on three primary factors: the amount of stored fat, the availability of natural foods, and the severity of the winter. Added stress or mortality can be caused by predators such as wolves or free-running dogs.

Things to watch for when out in the elements during these arctic temperatures.

Frostbitten skin will become warm and swollen and feel as though it's on fire. Blisters may develop, but popping them can cause scarring, according to the National Weather Service. If skin is blue or gray, very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb, go to the hospital immediately.

Frostbite stages:

  • First degree: ice crystals forming on your skin
  • Second degree: your skin begins to feel warm, even though it is not yet defrosted.
  • Third degree: your skin turns red, pale, or white.
  • Fourth degree: pain lasts for more than a few hours, and you may see dark blue or black areas under the skin. See a doctor immediately if these symptoms arise. Gangrene is a real threat.

Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature is below 96 degrees, and temperatures as low as 60 degrees can cause hypothermia

Published in News/Events
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 18:54

Striped Bass Fishing in Cold Conditions

With most of the Midwest getting covered in snow and hunting season coming to a close we thought we would focus on cold weather fishing.  Though we recently wrote about ice fishing, we in the Midwest have not had many days when ice has covered the waters.  So what fish likes cold water should we want to venture out to grab some good bragging photos.  After a little research we learned that the Striped Bass still thrive even when the water is cold.  There are many lakes throughout the Midwest that have Striped Bass populations such as Lake Texoma, Grand Lake, Table Rock, Beaver Lake, Lake Hamilton and the Colorado river to name a few.  Here are three potential methods that will help you land a fish.


Casting: Look for fish near points, flats, drop-offs, submerged islands and bridge pilings when using this technique. Also watch for stripers boiling water on the surface as they tear into hapless baitfish. You can use a variety of lures, including lipless crankbaits, deep-diving minnow plugs and Sassy Shads. But none can compare with the plain white bucktail jig, preferably with a single saddle hackle tied along each flank. The best weight is ¼-3/8 ounce. You can add a plastic twister tail to this if the water is stainy, but usually the jig by itself is best.

Cast this lure out to the structure described above and reel in slowly and steadily. It may seem boring. But it won't be when a 10-or 15-pound striper nails the lure. If strikes are slow in coming, try pausing halfway back during the retrieve and letting the lure sink down, like a wounded shad running out of gas. This often draws jarring strikes.

Trolling: This is another good tactic for winter stripers in the state. This method puts your lure down in the 15-30 foot range where stripers often hang out during cold weather. And it keeps it there constantly as you slowly motor over likely holding areas. Good places to troll include the mouths of tributaries, river and creek channel edges, humps, steep bluffs and near bridges.

Downriggers will allow you to troll any lure for stripers. If you don't want to fool with them, use large deep-plunging plugs such as the Storm Big Mac, Hellbender, Mann's Stretch and Deep-diving Rapalas. These lures dive 12-25 feet when trolled and often tempt jumbo stripers.

To make them even more effective, tie an 18-36 inch leader to the center hook of the front treble and then attach a ¼-ounce white jig or grub to this trailer. The stripers often are attracted to the large wobbling plug, but actually strike the smaller trailing jig.

Live Bait: Nothing can tempt a lethargic winter striper like a live baitfish. Shad are best, but if you can't catch them with a throw net, jumbo shiners sold at bait shops will work almost as well. Use 10-20 pound line and a size two hook. Attach a leader of two-to-four feet and the hook after threading a one-half to one-ounce egg sinker above it on the main line. Alternately, you can simply squeeze a few large split shot onto the line.

Hook the baitfish through the lips or lightly through the back and lower the offering down to the level where you find stripers on the depth finder or suspect they are holding. Drifting is a good tactic if there is a light wind or you can anchor out over a particularly inviting piece of structure.

Drop a buoy on the spot if you hook up, since there might be a whole school of stripers there. And if you do find a pack of voracious stripers, I'll bet you probably won't even remember how cold the air is!  As always post photos of your big or small catch to the Caughtem Bragging wall and tell us your story.