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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, 15 August 2013 21:28

Rainy Midwest brings Duck Hunting Tips

Rainy days here in the Midwest have made the team at Shotem and Caughtem a little worried.  The fishing has been difficult with the amount of rain we have been experiencing after three years of drought and with dove season right around the corner we are just crossing our fingers that the weather doesn't cool and push birds south too early.  However, like any loyal hunter and fisherman/woman knows when one door closes another opens.  What it does mean is between the cooler temperatures and the influx of rain it is shaping up to be one heck of a duck hunting season.  So it is a perfect time to start prepping your favorite pond, field or potentially flooded stream and here are some tips.

A hunter knows that when it comes to migratory birds the only thing on their mind is food, shelter and heading to a better climate.  In order to create a pleasing area for waterfowl to stop and take a siesta they just need the basics like any other animal.  With cooler temperatures right around the corner and the increased moisture one of the best ways to secure a nice duck pond is to plant some food.  If your once dry earth is now a beautiful pond or flooded stream, the recent drought might have left the food supply a bit lacking.  Waterfowl like the high fat content giving foods such as millet, buckwheat and corn.  Add in some cat tails and water grasses for cover and the only thing left is making sure you have the proper blind.    

It also might be a great time to approach farmers who have has fields ruined by the flooding.  Corn crops that have been pushed to the ground and rendered unusable by farmers could be purchased by hunters and re transplanted next to your potential honey hole for fake cover and maybe a little nutrients.  If you are getting a late start there are an abundance of ways to create a visually stunning duck atmosphere capable of bringing them close enough for a shot.  Just like well positioned duck decoys the appropriate positioned nutrient sources and cover could be the perfect combination.  Pampas grasses, millet grasses and other plants from a variety of local stores mixed with a little of the ponds environment might make the perfect flooded area into an enticing resting spot.

Let us know your duck hunting prepping tips in the comment section below and keep posting your photos to the galleries as we start the changing of the seasons.  

Published in News/Events
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 15:46

Missouri The Dove Hunting State

If you have the love for hunting Dove like us at Shotem and Caughtem then Missouri might be the place to go this dove season.  Not only have they raised the number of birds one can hold from 30-45 but they have done some impressive work to make sure there are plenty of public access fields planted to help drive the birds in and keep them around.  Thanks to the Missouri Conservation Department we know what is happening this season in the state.  


Published in News/Events
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 16:10

After the Heavy Rain Fishing Tips

We in the Midwest have been experiencing some unusual heavy rainy season this summer.  It has made the fishing in the lakes and rivers difficult to say the least.  We and Shotem and Caughtem felt it was a perfect time to discuss some tips when fishing in conditions like the ones we are experiencing.  

Initially fish may hold at the original water level before moving shallow. But soon afterwards bass adjust to rising water, presenting opportunities for catching aggressive feeding bass by following the water as it rises. Bass follow the water as it rises into newly flooded areas of shallow water. First start ultra-shallow (if the water temperature permits) and work to deeper water. Fish visible cover such as trees, buck brush and lay down trees as well as lawns, pastures and other clean areas with spinner baits, buzz baits, top water baits and shallow running crank baits. When contact is made with a fish take note of the depth, type of cover, lure retrieve, and how the fish took the bait. Then slow down and repeat the scenario. Use slower baits such as jerk baits, lizards, worms, jigs, etc. to pick off any of the less aggressive fish and to find larger bass that may not have bit on the first pass.

Another consideration when fishing after heavy rains is the influx of muddy water. Bass in lakes that are clear will be affected more than the bass that live in stained water. When a lake muddies the fish "should" move shallow and tight to cover. Bass will follow the water in search for food. This makes it easy for an angler to locate fish. Look for any visible cover such as logs, stumps, and laydowns. Also, consider fishing vegetation. Grassy areas help filter the water and will clear up faster than non-grassy areas. When fishing, remember to slow down and try to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible. First try horizontal baits such as spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and crank baits and top water baits. Spinner baits with chartreuse blades and skirts as well as black spinner baits with copper blades. Chartreuse and bright reds and black for jerk baits and crankbaits are preferred. Use crankbaits with rattles and a wide wobble to displace lots of water to help bass locate the bait. If these baits don't produce, try bulky vertical baits such as jig-n-pigs, brush-hogs, worms and craw-worms that stay in the strike zone longer. Shake the plastics while fishing cover to trigger a strike and help bass find your lure. Also remember that scent and sound become more of a factor when water muddies. Try using rattles on soft plastics or use baits that make a lot of noise. And, use scent on plastics to increase your chances of a strike. FISH SLOWLY!

When waters begin to recede fishing can become really tough. Fish will become inactive and suspend. Often bass will move into deeper water suspending around cover or near break lines away from the bank and shallows. Try moving out to the next line of visible cover away from the bank in your search for fish. Use a slow methodical approach to your fishing. Remember to try to appeal to the bass' senses of sight, sound and taste as well as reaction to baits. If a reactionary flash of a spinnerbait doesn't produce, try vertical plastics and jigs fished slowly, making repeated casts to cover and to entice a strike. You have to be confident the fish is there, be patient and persistent. Keep the bait in the strike zone and keep your confidence up.  Most of all leave your comments below and post your photos to the Caughtem Gallery and tell us your story.

Published in News/Events

We at Shotem and Caughtem love when we get the opportunity to hunt feral hogs.  We already have talked about tricks to use when night hunting and thought since the summer is upon us that we would also tell you about some tricks we use to hunt them during those hot days ahead.

Wild Boar definitely have a daily pattern.  Due to the fact that pigs don't have sweat glands they must rely on a couple of things during the hot summer days.  They need shade to get out of the sun, water sources for wallering and keeping cool and mud to keep the insects at bay.  They have a great sense of smell but they lack good vision and hearing.  So how to find a place to obtain a good shot or lure them in should you not have the luxury of a feeder.

One of the first things to look for is places where they have been coming to obtain water or to waller in the mud.  Because of their destructive patterns these areas are not hard to find.  If these places should go dry they will look in the near vicinity for options.  Like deer, pigs love to escape the heat by finding bushy areas to nap and stay cool.  You will be able to track these areas by finding game trails and looking for low hanging broken branches and tracks.  Note these areas will also be close to the water source they are using at the time.

Should you find a good wallering place and want to help your chances of luring in the animals to stay for a while for a clean shot here are some tips.  First is rotten corn.  You can take a 5 gal bucket, fill it three quarters of the way full of corn and then fill the rest with water.  Seal the bucket and leave it in the sun for a couple days and you will have what you need.  You can also use different fruits such as apples or oranges a bit of vinegar and water and do the same thing.  Another good tip is save your table scraps or unused vegetables from your kitchen place them in a bucket and then pour cherry or strawberry flavored cool aid on them to help as an attractant.  Once you find a good spot, dig a couple of holes and bury part of the bounty and throw the rest around the area to help cover your scent.  We always take out a spray bottle with diesel fuel in it and spray it on the bottom 3 feet of trees around the area.  They will rub their bodies up against the diesel laden trees and use that scent and oil as an insect repellent.

Let us know what tricks you use to lure in hogs on these hot summer days in the comment section below.  As always post your photos to the galleries and tell us about your adventures.  Most of all have fun and be safe.

Published in On Location
Tuesday, 11 June 2013 21:58

Father's Day Hunting Gift Idea Day 2

It is day two of gift ideas for that hunting and fishing Father in your life and we at Shotem and Caughtem thought we would start with a great gift for the hunting father in your life.  One of our top best items in our hunting stock would be a trail camera.  This wonderful little device offers us the ability to see what is in different areas of our hunting properties when we are not around.  It tells us whether or not we are providing our respected animals with the appropriate wants and needs that we insure success as hunting season approaches.  They allow us to consistantly monitor and enhance different areas.  The avid hunter will never have enough cameras.  However, if they do have all their camera needs met, there are a variety of supporting options avalable.

Supporting items for trail cameras are endless.  Whether it be wireless web adaptations, small viewing and downloading screens for your sd cards or even different ways to attach the cameras in places that don't have a proper tree.  There are plenty of different devices in varying price ranges based on your budget that can increase the ease by which your dad can access or view the results from his hard work.

When it comes to trail cameras there are a couple of options that we would recommend a trail camera have to increase their longevity and effectiveness.  There are good reasons for and against whether or not a camera has a flash.  Good reason is that the cameras with a flash have a lower in price.  Bad reason is should you want to capture people treading on your hunting spot the flash will give your camera position away and probably cost you a camera.  Many cameras these days are all digital.  These cameras though user friendly seem to not have the longevity due to them being in the elements day after day.  They are also hard to program with bulky clothing.  We have found that a camera that has switches to program times, delays and number of shots offer more advantages and tend to last longer.  Date and time stamps are a must and should not be over looked.      

If you have or used some great products in this realm we would love to hear your feedback in the comments section below or post photos in the gear section and tell us how your set up has enhanced your favorite hunting spot.

Published in News/Events

Sunday of this week is Fathers Day and we at Shotem and Caughtem thought we would dedicate this week to great gift ideas for those men who help in our appreciation for the great outdoors.  Whether you have a hunter or fisherman as a father or a father you know that needs a great gift we thought we would start with gift idea number one, TIME.  One thing we realize, as we not only look back on our own time with our dad's but also with the kids we have watch grow up, is that time goes by too fast.  Many feel in order to celebrate their dad's achievements that they need to go out and buy him something.  Many fail to realize that grabbing the fishing rods or rifles and spending the day outdoors can be one of the best presents.  Those eight hours alone with you and your dad can actually mean more than any gift you could ever buy off the shelf.  As a matter of fact many of the lakes and rivers in various states are being stocked with fish to help celebrate the day.  Food plots can start being prepped for fall planting.  Or just taking a drive out to one of the parks, dropping the tailgate on the truck with a case of beer, a grill and some steaks could mark an absolutely great gift for any Dad.  

If you plan on taking your Dad out for a Sunday adventure or have a suggestion we hope you leave a comment in the section below.  As always we hope you will post photos of your adventures in the galleries and tell us your story.  


Published in News/Events
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 13:02

How to Filet a Fish Tips and Tricks

With fishing season starting to be in full swing we at Shotem and Caughtem thought we would do a quick line on the steps it takes to appropriately fillet a fish.  As any outdoorsman/woman knows the best food we eat is that which comes straight from the water or field to our plate.  This definitely holds true with fresh line caught fish.  When procured from a good habitat the taste of fresh fish does not have the tastes that store bought net fish have with a slight exception for bottom feeders.  

Bottom feeders such as catfish, halibut, etc. take a little more time and care should you want the best tasting fish.  For these fish we recommend having a tank or horse trough filled with clean water and a an aerator.  This is not always the case and you can usually tell by the color of the fish as to whether it will need this extra step.  If pulled from a clean/clear lake or stream they will have their bright clean colors.  However, when pulled from a muddy or dirty river or stream you will notice that the color of the fish is also muddy or off.  For these fish a trip to the tank can provide you with the clean tasting fish you are craving.  You will notice after the fish couple of hours the color of your tank water will start to change as the fish cycles out the toxins and muddy water from its body.  We usually have to change the water out a couple time to achieve the right color on our fish.

Before starting the steps below we recommend finding the sharpest set of knives you have and not just one.  As with any animal, when it comes to skinning or filleting their tough skin and scales can make quick work on even the sharpest knife.  Make sure you have a knife sharpener.  Also a fish cleaning board or something that will allow you to nail the tail end or the fish to the board will help you make a nicer fillet but is not required.  


Here are some steps to follow when filleting your fish:

Step 1 - Put the scaled fish on a chopping board and, using scissors, trim off the fins by the head on each side, and any fins that run along the top and on the underside of the fish.

Step 2 - With the tip of the knife, pierce the stomach of the fish using the small hole by the tail as a guide. Run the knife from the tail to the head, cutting open the stomach. Clean out the contents of the stomach and rinse the fish in cold running water or by dipping it into a bucket of clean water.

Step 3 - Return the fish to the chopping board and make a long cut around the head and just below the gills on both sides: remove the head.

Step 4 - Tail towards you, run the knife down the spine to the tail in a gentle slicing - not sawing - action, working the blade between the spine and the flesh. Repeat until the fillet begins to come away - lift the fillet to see where you're working.

Step 5 - When you get to the rib bones, let the knife follow the shape of the fish and slice over the bones. Once you've removed the fillet, set it aside.

Step 6 - Turn over the fish and repeat with the second fillet, this time starting at the tail and working towards the head. Be careful - the second fillet may be a little trickier to remove.

If you have any tips or tricks you think we missed add them to the comment section below.  Most of all post your photos and tell us about your adventures in the galleries.  

Published in News/Events

We at Shotem and Caughtem spent another weekend hunting Turkey.  As the season is coming to a close the weather is finally starting to cooperate.  Along with the nice Spring weather another one of our Nemesis's has come out of hiding.  Of course we are speaking of ticks.  This is especially a factor for turkey hunters as many of us choose to hunt the thunder chicken sitting in chairs or on the ground in dense woods or grasses which just happens to be where these blood suckers like to breed, hatch and hang out waiting to host on their prey.  Just last year I found out after picking off a good dozen of these little suckers that I had fallen prey to one of the diseases they carry, lime disease.  Unfortunately many of the diseases ticks carry can be confused with the common cold many of us get during the fluctuating weather conditions seen during spring turkey hunting season.  Since this last weekend I picked another half dozen of these guys off of me I thought it would be a good topic to write about since I have first hand experience.  I recently have purchased a chemical called permethrin and have heard that it is not only fatal to ticks but can prevent them from ever wanting to be around you.  It is sprayed on your hunting clothes 48 hours prior to being in the field and is not for skin contact prior to drying.  Way better than the Off with Deet that appears to have little effect on shying them away from me.  Let us know in the comment section below if you have had any experiences like mine and as always share photos of your prized hunts in the galleries and tell us your story.

Five Tick Diseases to Watch For:

Lyme Disease: Spread by the black-legged or deer tick, this disease is most common in the Northeast. Symptoms include a circular rash at the site of the tick bite, tiredness and neurological and facial muscular problems.  The rash literally looks like a bullseye (Tick bite site with a red circle around it).  My big tip off was that when I drank a glass of water it tasted exactly like aluminum (sounds weird but very true).

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Common to the Southeast, symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever, headache and muscle pain, followed by development of rash. The disease can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and without prompt and appropriate treatment it can be fatal.  This is the sleeper disease.  I have many friends hat have fallen prey to this and it can be very bad if not diagnosed.  Should you have been in the field and have cold like symptoms after going a blood test can rule out this potential and can save your life.  Well worth just running by your doctor and having a little blood drawn to rule it out.  

Ehrlichiosis: Common to the Southwest, this disease is spread by the lone star tick and is carried by dogs, cattle, sheep, goats, and horses. Symptoms include a fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Babesiosis: This disease is carried by deer ticks and is found most often in the Northeast and upper Midwest. Symptoms include a nonproductive cough, headache and increasing malaise.

Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis: HGA is increasingly recognized as an important and frequent cause of fever after tick bite in the upper Midwest, New England, parts of the mid-Atlantic states and northern California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other symptoms include headache and malaise.

Published in News/Events

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.

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. 

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