Fishing 2013

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Pond Fishing With Randy Steele 05-31-13

It has been five or six years since I had the ole fly rod out to do any fishing here in Anson County, NC.  Most of my creek wading buddies have been too busy or getting to the point to where wading the creeks is more of a safety hazard than a pleasure outing.  I have fished Richardson Creek a few times since 2004 by myself but common sense tells me to fish with a friend for safety reasons since it is easy to slip and fall on the slick moss covered rocks even with good felt lined bottom wading boots.

Speaking for myself, I have certainly missed the comradery of friends enjoying the company of each other and the adventures of what takes place on a good crystal clear stream of water moving by at a gentle pace with various types of aquatic life going about their daily routine of trying to survive the elements.  It is not uncommon to see a copperhead snake swimming across the creek and crayfish scampering on the bottom as you slowly work your way from slow moving water to the much faster moving water caused by changes in the surrounding terrain which creates natural miniature rapids, shoals and gravel sandbars with the fish hanging in the slow moving eddies waiting on food to come by to quickly devour.  Around June or July the fish congregate around the shoals in the local Creeks such as Lanes and Richardson doing their annual spawning which is a fisherman's bonanza.  This is also a good time when one can reflect on how wonderful and beautiful our local habitat is without having to travel to some far distance and exotic place to enjoy and experience the same thing.  It is also a time to thank our Creator for all of his majestic creations and the opportunity to fully enjoy what we can of it!

Randy Steele of Cason’s Ole Field near the southern part of Anson County about a mile from the South Carolina State line invited me to fish one of his farm ponds for bream, catfish and largemouth bass of which I took him up on the offer going this morning.



I got my fly fishing equipment ready the evening before but was unable to locate my catfish tackle box which contained lead sinkers of all types, hooks and the necessary swivels to fish for catfish on the bottom.  One of my favorite rigs for cat fishing is to use the Carolina Rig which utilizes a sliding sinker anchored against a swivel with the leader and hook attached to the other end of the swivel. This allows the fish to take the bait and pull the line through the sinker without any undue resistance until you set the hook.  The catfish tackle box with all the lead sinkers must weight at least 25 pounds but I don’t have a clue where I have it stored in our full basement.  The last time I saw it  was in my woodworking shop area where I also have tons of other stuff stored which is sectioned off from the basement living area.  I did a fairly good search and it did not turn up at any of normal places it should have been.  I did get a few bait casting rods out that had the Penn # 9 and # 109 reels on them and the line was still good although they haven’t been used since my Father-in-Law Henry Adcock (now deceased) and myself fished in Blewett Falls Lake a couple decades or more ago.  Some of the rods I looked at are in serious need of getting the rod eyes rewrapped and the reels a good cleaning and oiling.  I tried to break the monofilament line on a couple of them but unable to do so….I believe the lines are at least 20 lb. test or more since we cat fished in swift water and needed to use larger weights on the line to keep the rig in place.  Then again, I might have gotten weaker than I thought…grin if you must.  Pixs of those antiquated stored rods and reels:

I was able to locate with ease my Cabelas fly fisherman vest that was still stocked and also had my mid 1970s Scientific Anglers single action fly reel made by Hardy Brothers in England stored in the back reel storage pocket.  My vintage Fenwick Graphite two-piece fly rod was close by in it's cloth case inside an aluminum fly rod tube and ready to go.

 

I got up at my regular wake up time around 0530 on May 31, 2013 and after my shave, shower, etc., made a cup of black coffee to go and loaded my fishing gear in the Little Red Ranger truck.  I stopped by BoJangles and picked us up a couple ham biscuits and
it didn’t take but about 15 minutes to drive to Randy’s home.  It was overcast and very foggy with visibility poor in a few low lying areas in route to Randy’s place and rather warm as well.

After Randy and myself had our mini breakfast of a country ham biscuit and coffee, we rode across the road to one of his ponds and proceeded to fish.  It didn’t take but a few casts before the largemouth bass about one pound or less began to hit the painted cork popping bug with rubber spider like legs trade named SPOOK like they were starved to death.  Picture below of the spook popping bug made by Accardo Tackle Co. in Baton Rouge, LA and is no longer available.  It seems like every time I find a product that really works for me, it will soon become extinct of which the Accardo Co. was bought out and then it's predecessor closed doors as well no doubt falling victim to foreign inferior and cheaper imports.  Wal-Mart carried this popping bug for years but guess they found a cheaper replacement which what I observed recently and do not like.   I think I might have a few years supply on hand if I don't hang them up on stumps or in long hanging tree and bush limbs....grin if you must.

It doesn't take a large fish to put a good healthy bend or arch in the graphite fly rod once they are hooked and they do put up a serious fight to get away.  Randy had two fishing poles out, one for catfish and one for bluegills and quickly he had both poles with the rod tips dancing around with fish on them at the same time.  It was fast and furious catching fish for a good while and I had to leave around 10ish for a workout at the Buff Monkey Fitness Company in Wadesboro, NC.  I probably caught around a dozen keeper bluegills and released a couple dozen small largemouth bass.  Pix of Randy in action:

Pixs of a few Bluegills beside my favorite fly rod and reel:



I called Randy in the afternoon after my bride and myself finished our mid day work-out at the Buff Monkey Fitness Company and he said he cleaned forty (40) fish with several speckled catfish in the bunch and they were headed to the freezer for a later fish fry.  I can almost smell and taste those golden brown deep fried fish as I type.  I later found out that he held out on me; he seasoned some of the catfish fillets with salt, black pepper and lemon pepper and placed in aluminum foil and grilled them....I told him he was definitely wrong for that!  We both got a good grin off that one.  Fish freshly caught, cleaned and cooked immediately; it just just doesn’t get any better than that.  Will add additional pixs of the pond at a later date and a pix of the fish that Randy had in his live fish basket that he took a pix of.

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter 05-23-13.

FISH FRY FOR TWO

Randy and myself fished his farm pond in front of his home on 06-05-13 and the wind was blowing briskly out of the East with a heavy overcast and the fish were not in a biting mood.  I had two catfish rigs out and Randy had one out and he was bass fishing on the other side of the pond when a fish hit his rig that was on the pier with me.  I cranked the ole boy in which was a good speckled catfish although he was much darker than the ones Randy caught on the 23rd of last month and put him in the live fish basket for an afternoon fish fry.  Randy caught several small largemouth bass but the only thing I caught other than reeling in the catfish on his rig was a large turtle and released him.  I kept the single speckled catfish and Randy gave me a small pack of catfish fillets from last week fishing to go with the speckled catfish I kept since since I wanted to fix my bride and myself some pan fried catfish.   It was quiet and serene with a flock of crows breaking the silence by their caw, caw, caw, etc and enjoyable to sit in one of the chairs on the pond pier deck and get in a total relaxed state of mind since the fish were not cooperating very fast for the makings of a fish fry.  We fished on until around 1130 and decided to call it quits for the day and try at a later date when the weather pattern changes for the better since rain is forecasted for the next week off an on.  Note:  Prior to heading toward the pond to fish, we observed two wild hen turkeys in the field below the dam feeding and it didn't them long to move out when we entered the field in his Toyota truck.

We still had a good relaxing time away from the normal daily routine of Life and when I got home, I immediately skinned and filleted the catfish and soaked the two fillets in cold salt water.  The catfish fillets were later cut into smaller pieces and coated with House-Autry Seafood Breader of which I added a teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning and pan fried them until they were golden brown.  I also  deep fried a batch of hush puppies and served with a baked potato and cole slaw.  It has been many, many years since I had fresh catfish fillets and they were delicious to say the least.  I certainly didn't take the time to do a photo shoot of the plated fish but did take a couple pixs while they were on the tray draining and cooling.  I pan fried the fillets outside on the deck using the side burner of my Jenn Air gas grill to keep the home a little fresher smelling....grin if you must!  Pixs below:

There was another half skillet of catfish fillets and only one piece of fillet was left when we polished off this fine fresh caught speckled catfish fillet meal.  This is the main reason I fish, for the skillet my friends although I do get great enjoyment from casting a line from a good custom made slow action spit bamboo fly rod or a medium action bass weight graphite fly rod!

The only thing missing was our departed family members that did enjoy a good fish fry and as I say so many times,  Two Of The Greatest Ships That Ever Sailed;  Friendship and Fellowship!

Web posted by Bill aka Mickey Porter 06-05-13.

MAKINGS FOR ANOTHER FISH FRY 06-25-13 

Randy and myself planned to pond fish the morning of 06-25-13 at around 0700 hours but  I got an earlier start than normal since I woke up around 0430 and got my normal shave, shower, etc and had plenty of time to spare.

I left our home around 0545 and stopped by BoJangles and pick-up a couple of their monthly special biscuits; two sausage and egg biscuits for 3:00 and hard to beat that deal unless it had been their bacon, egg and cheese biscuits.  I had already made a large cup of K-Cup Coffee House coffee and placed in one of my insulated stainless steel coffee travel mugs and was all set.  I took my time driving the 10 mile short trips to Randy's home and when I arrived I didn't see any lights on of which there might have been one on in his bathroom but hadn't had but a few sips of the "Ole Joe" aka coffee yet....grin if you must.  After a few knocks on the front door, Randy opened it and went inside and enjoyed the sausage and egg biscuit washing it down with the brewed cup of Java aka Ole Joe. 

After consuming the coffee and biscuit and catching up on some TV news, we drove to the pond behind his home and it didn't take too long to get the antiquated Fenwick Graphite #9 weight fly rod rigged up for bream.  I still have a few of the Spook popping bugs that are no longer available and tied it to the end of a custom hand tied tapered knotted leader which has an .008 diameter tippet on it and it is at least 9.5 feet in length.  The sky was overcast, wind fairly calm and appeared to be an ideal day for fishing with top water popping bug on a fly rod.  The water was crystal clear even with all the recent daily afternoon thunderstorms we had.  Below is a pix  of one corner of the pond where the shell cracker aka bream normally bed but didn't get much action there this morning. 

  

I worked my way around the entire pond but the wind started getting up creating some pretty good ripples on the once still mirrored surface water and only got several keeper Bluegills.  A Bob White Quail was not too far from the pond and was giving his mating call "Old Bob White" in hopes of luring a female quail to join him in hopes of laying the ground work to producing a brood of chicks.  Hmmmm, never called sexual activity ground work but it might be applicable....grin again!

There were several blackberry bushes adjacent the entrance of the pond pier and about one third of them had already ripened and turned black and ready for the harvest and I could almost smell a fresh blackberry cobber baking in the oven!  Randy forgot he had a hair appointment at Permanet Solutions Salon and had to leave and I continued to fish.  While Randy was gone, the wind died down and I started catching a variety of shell crackers, bream and bluegills about 3/4 of the length down with the fly line cast out to about 40 feet from the pier and was really working on them,  just about catching one every cast for about a dozen or so.  Those fish even though only about 4 fingers in width on my large hand,  really put up a fight on the fly rod and a pleasure to pull them in after they raced back and forth in the water with the line cutting the water very fast until the steady pressure from the bent fly rod over powered them.  While fishing off the pier, I heard a large cracking/snapping type sound and observed a large dead limb fall from one of the large pine trees on the far side of the pond and it gave a tremendous boom crashing sound upon hitting the ground.

Randy returned about 45 minutes or more later and I was steadily getting strikes from the shell crackers when the wind would be calm and gave Randy my camera to get a couple pixs for this page:

I have a bream on the end of the leader and about ready to remove it and add it to the fish basket.  Below a pix of the fish basket:

As evidenced by the pix of the fish basket, I have been keeping the ole fly rod busy while Randy was getting his hair cut.  The wind started picking up and the fish stopped hitting the top water popping bug and I definitely had enough fish for a couple or three good fish fries depending on how many is at the table...grin if you must!   Randy was fishing for bass this morning but the bass were not in the right mood and I only landed one small bass the entire time I fished. 

I had planned on working out at the Buff Monkey Fitness at 1130 but knew it would take about an hour and half to scale and dress that fine mess of fresh water shell crackers aka bream so will have to make up for it tomorrow. 

Click on the below thumbnails for a larger screen view:

I counted a total of thirty-three (33) fish that I kept which was a good sized dishpan full of them.  I soaked them in ice cold salt water for about an hour to remove any traces of blood, etc. and placed them in three separate freezer bags.  I didn't vacuum seal them since they will definitely not remain in the freezer longer enough to get freezer burn.

Below is a pix showing how I "clean and dress" fish of this size that do not need filleting:

My first step is remove the scales with the aid of a small hand held metal fish "scaler" probably 40 years plus old and then make an incision about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch deep on each side of the dorsal fin and pull the entire dorsal fin from the fish.  I next, make a vertical cut while holding the fish horizontal in my left from the pelvic fin past the anus or vent and beyond and below the pectoral fin which opens up the inside cavity of the fish.  Next, I make a cut from behind the head of the fish just past the gill cover and behind the pectoral fin terminating into the horizontal cut previous made.  I turn the fish over and do the same thing on the other side.  The entire head, intestines and stomach, etc. are then easily removed in one operation.  You can see the cuts made in the above pix which might gross the faint and weak of heart out.   I normally leave the tail on whole fish of this type since they are very tasty and crunchy if fried right.  Many people leave the entire fins on and some leave more than that on the fish but this works fine for me.

Randy picked me a "mess" of fresh squash off his vines and a couple hybrid ones to try also and a few tomatoes that had started to turn red.  I can almost taste those beautimous stewed squash and onions and a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich with Dukes mayonnaise slathered on the bread and a little heavy on the salt and freshly ground black peppercorns (Tellicherry).

It was a great morning to be out and about getting away from the daily routine enjoying the company of a friend such as Randy.

Two Of The Greatest Ships That Ever Sailed;  Friendship and Fellowship!

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-25-13.

POND FISHING ON 06-28-13

I acquired several dozen Catawba worms on 06-27-13 and called Randy Steele and we planned to give them a try in the farm pond in front of his home and went through my regular routine of going by BoJangles and getting a couple of their biscuits on special to start the morning off prior to fishing.  We got a pretty good rain the night before which sometimes puts the fish in a different feeding pattern but I don't think anyone has really figured out why and how the fish seem to starting feeding and then will stop as if you turned a switch on and off.  There are all kinds of charts based on the Moon phase but they certainly don't work 100 percent of the time and probably not even 50 percent either.

We got set up on the pond pier around 0730 and tried the ole timer technique of pinching the Catawba worms head off and threading it onto a small stick.  Pix below:

It didn't take but a minute before Randy had a keeper Shell Cracker on his hook:

One thing we learned real quick about the Catawba worms, those jaws used to cut the Catawba leaves will certain bite into your fingers and Randy simply pinched their head and that paralyzed them long enough to thread them onto the fish hook.  I can't say for sure that turning them outside in works any better than just threading them on the hook since the catfish were not in a biting mood.  However, the Bream aka sunfish were doing there thing with them.  We fished most of the morning and kept 27 Bream and I caught the only catfish that took the bait. 

Randy also caught an unusual stump fish that had a small 1/2 inch diameter hole going through it and his hook was inside the hole snagged;  It would probably take a million casts or more to duplicate that catch for sure:

Can you make out the head and eyes of the stump fish and the tail....don't grin too big!  Clue, head and eyes to the left.

Click on the thumbnail pixs below for a larger screen view:

After cleaning the fish, we sat back in the swing under a Magnolia tree with a view of the pond across the road and enjoyed chatting and sipping on bottled water.  I had plans of doing a mini-fish fry with the catfish fillets and a few of the Bream for my bride and myself but when I got back home, I took a good Senior Citizen power nap and it was time for both of us to get our hair cut, etc.

Randy and myself had a great morning fishing and just kicking back enjoying the beauty of the pond; there was a gentle breeze blowing and it was overcast and didn't get to hot.  There were four Ospreys flying overhead and fun to watch them use the air currents to their advantage.   I noticed I got a little tanned from the sun on my exposed arms.  I wore my ole straw hat to keep the sun off my head/face and hopefully ears since I had to have treatment this past year from a Dermatologist for Squamous Cell Carcinoma skin cancer on my left ear.  The "C" word will put fear in you very quickly. 

After the visit to Jennifer Johnson's Permanet Solutions Salon, I talked myself out of the fish fry and opted to go to the Rockingham Fish House on Broad Street in Rockingham, NC.

Two Of The Greatest Ships That Ever Sailed;  Friendship and Fellowship!

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-29-13.

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