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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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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.

Published in News/Events

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!  

 

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.

Published in News/Events
Monday, 22 April 2013 21:50

Top Water Fishing Season Tips

Eventhough we in the Midwest are getting a possible flake of snow in the forecast again this week, we at Shotem and Caughtem can not hold back the excitement any longer on talking about spring top water fishing.  Nothing gets us more excited than the time when fishing season becomes its most fun.  This is when the water temperatures rise and the predators come out to feast.  We prefer to lure or predators up to the surface, like Air Jaws (Great White Sharks down by South Cape, Africa since its almost Shark Week).  Nothing gets them to the surface like using top water fishing lures so here are some tips on what we use to get them leaping.  Let us know what you recommend in the comment section below or post photos to the gear section and tell us your stories.  Most of all get out there and Caught em'!

If you ask five different fishermen this question, you'll probably get at least three different answers, and they will probably all be right. You may have to try them all to see which one (or more) works for you. When is the best time to use them? Another question with several correct answers. In general, topwaters are most effective when the water temperature is in the high fifties or above.

The most common and probably the most popular topwater is the buzzbait. It's easy to use; just throw it out and reel it in, or so it seems. Throwing and reeling will catch bass, but a few variations might increase your odds of success. Throw the lure in the weeds, retrieving it over holes in the weeds, along edges, parallel to laydowns, or close to stumps. Start out with a slow retrieve in early spring and speed it up as the water temperature rises. Experiment with a varied retrieve; slow it down , speed it up, or jerk it every now and then to create more noise and a more erratic action.

Stickbaits such as the Rogue, Bomber Long A, Rapala Minnow and The Thunderstick are all excellent "twitch baits". Basically, in the spring, these lures are cast close to cover such as a weedbed, laydown or stump, and twitched to create a darting erratic motion. Try twitching and letting the lure sit for a short time or use a slow twitching retrieve. The fish will tell you which one they like. In the summer, these baits are very effective on bass feeding on shad on the surface. Just throw it into the scattering shad and retrieve it like it's hurt. They are also very effective on stripers when they are feeding on the surface.

Chuggers like the Chug Bug or the Pop-R are great summertime surface baits. These lures can be worked continuously back to the boat with a short jerking type motion, or they can be jerked a few times and left motionless for a short time. They can be worked in shallow water or over schooling fish. Vary the speed of your retrieve until you get the desired results.

The king of the big bass topwaters is the Zara Spook. Once you learn how to "walk the dog" with a Spook, you can consistently catch big fish in the early spring and fall. To "walk the dog", keep your rod tip down and make short (less than 1 foot) twitches with your rod tip while reeling at the same time. The lure will walk side to side as it moves toward you. Once again, vary the speed of your retrieve until you get bit. Spooks are especially good on points or in the backs of pockets where the big fish come to feed.

No matter which topwater you choose, they all have one common characteristic, the strikes that they trigger are heart-stopping. Usually, the fish explodes on the bait, sending water everywhere, and instilling in the angler an almost irresistible urge to instantly strike back. Don't do it! Wait until you feel the fish, then set the hook. Believe me, it's much easier said than done.

The down-side of topwater fishing is that you tend to lose more fish than you would when fishing other types of baits, but the excitement is well worth it. 

We at Shotem and Caughtem want to see your trout photos in the Caughtem gallery as the state prepares for next months season opener.  They are stocking places where reproduction numbers have been low to help with their sport fishing numbers.  Here are some of the details.

State Department of Natural Resources officials say they hope to add nearly 330,000 trout to Wisconsin waters before the inland fishing season opener next month. 
     
DNR fisheries crews have been stocking rainbow, brown and brook trout raised at hatcheries in Nevin, Osceola and St. Croix Falls. Volunteers and students have been helping, too. 
     
The crews are adding fish in waters where the habitat is marginal and there's no natural reproduction. 
     
The season opener is set for May 4. 
     
Interactive maps of trout streams are available on the DNR website's inland trout page.

Published in News/Events

We created Shotem and Caughtem so that people that love to hunt and fish could communicate and share with one another on a site dedicated to Hunting and Fishing.  A fun social network where people could connect based on their shared interested and find others who share their passion.  Over the past four months since we launched the website we at Shotem and Caughtem have had the opportunity to start just such a relationship with the women from the Queens of Camo.  They like us try to live as much of the Shotem and Caughtem lifestyle as we do and have become a great resource to help us promote and get the word out about the website.  Because of this relationship we have tried to repay their generosity by showing them how they could expand there own network by using Shotem and Caughtem as a resource.  We have started a place where our members can go and ask questions about their experiences and what has worked for them (Ask The Queens of Camo ).  Here is a little information as to who they are so that you might learn more about them.  

 

Published in User Spotlight

We at Shotem and Caughtem have been made aware, in what might be just a publicity stunt, the organization PETA might begin using drones over popular hunting and fishing areas to video tape and enforce laws and regulations.  PETA plans to purchase several Aerobot Cinestar Octocopters--eight-rotored octocopters designed for use by the film industry and landscape architects. The Cinestar is designed to carry heavy cameras and has a 20 minute flight time when carrying smaller cameras; it is also intended for use by a two-person crew.  Once deployed, the animal rights organization says it will use the UAVs to collect footage of illegal activity such as hunters drinking while in possession of a firearm, maiming animals for fun (leading to possible persecution on animal cruelty counts), and using locally-forbidden hunting or fishing enhancements such as spotlights and speed lures. In a prepared statement, PETA's Ingrid Newkirk said that “Slob hunters may need to rethink the idea that they can get away with murder, alone out there in the woods with no one watching.”

 

Published in News/Events
Well in true Shotem and Caughtem style this dynamic duo now holds a husband/wife largest blue catfish caught in the state of Kansas title.  Stephanie Stanley, of Olathe, got hers when she reeled in a 82.05-pound blue catfish at Milford Reservoir on Saturday.  As big as it is, though, it was about 20 pounds shy of her tournament partner/husband’s best-ever blue catfish. Robert Stanley holds the current state record for blue catfish at 102.8 pounds, caught from the Missouri River on August 11 of last year.  So you have a state record lake catch by the wife and the state river record by the husband.  We just thought this was too cool and wanted to share the couples unique and fun record.  Plus that is definitely a catch for the caughtem wall.  Show us your big catch this fishing season and tell us your stories in the comment section below.    
 
Published in News/Events
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 23:00

Monster Barracuda Caught Might be a Record

We at Shotem and Caughtem have had the opportunity to snorkle with a lot of different fish.  Some of which have made the hair on the back of our necks stand up.  One of these fish would have to be the barracuda.  You hear stories of how aggressive the can be and their sharp teeth and over all bad appereance doesn't help to calm ones nerves.  Most of the ones we have seen swimming through the water were around a 40 to 50 pound 3 feet long sized, but still commanded our attention.  So when we heard that 7ft 102 pound barracuda was caught we felt that this was one to report.  Gibson caught the huge barracuda while fishing for Tarpon on the Cuanza River in Angola, Africa.  It is currently under review as to whether it is in fact a new world all tackle record beating out the 101 pound barracuda also caught in Africa.  Share your big stories and catches on the Caughtem braggin wall and leave your comments in the section below.

 

Published in News/Events
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