Oct 24, 2012

Your Daughter Shoots Like a Girl!

Growing up in a neighborhood full of boys, it wouldn't take long for someone to make a bad play during a street game and someone would mouth off to the tune off - you swing like a girl!.  Everyone would laugh and away we went.  Being all grown up now and having a daughter of my own I can admit that she does throw like a girl, shoots like a girl, fishes like a girl and hunts like a girl and I am proud of it.  Heck I wish I could shoot like a girl sometimes, because she is pretty darn good and getting better every day.  My daughter Kaleigh has always loved to fish and shoot, but just in the past couple of years has she taken the plunge into hunting and I must admit, she is getting really good at it.

With our busy schedules time in the field with my kids is limited so any time that our schedules open we jump on it and our schedules allowed us to enjoy an afternoon in a backwoods puddle for an waterfowl hunt.  I picked my daughter up at school, made a quick trip to the archery shop to have a quick fix done to her bow, grabbed some lunch and headed home to load up the gear and head off to the swamp.

On the way up the road I got a call from Busch Pilot who was on his way to join in the fun.  Kaliegh and I got the canoe unloaded and I loaded it up with the decoys and headed out to setup a spread consisting of some mallard decoys and some goose floaters.  While I was doing that, Kaleigh was carrying gear to the blind and keeping our lab Hannah from following me out in the canoe.  Once the decoys were set, I pulled the canoe up on shore and hid it in the brush and joined Kaleigh and Hannah in our hide.  Busch Pilot showed up about 30 minutes later and joined our group.  After BP got his  normal welcome of a face full of smelly lab tongue from Hannah, we settled in and started scanning the sky and listening for any hint of ducks or geese all while enjoying the incredible fall colors that were made even more vibrant with the setting sun.

It was a pretty quiet afternoon, right up until about 20 minutes before sunset, which is legal shooting light in CT, when I swore I heard geese off in the distance.  Busch Pilot and Kaleigh both claimed I was hearing things but I did convince them to hit the call and sure enough we got a response.  We couldn't see them yet but could tell they were coming in for the night and hopefully they would land on the X which was wide open and out in front of us.  I picked up the 4 geese just as they broke the trees about 50 yards behind us and they were low and heading in and looked like they were going to land short so Busch Pilot told Kaleigh to go ahead and take em.  Just as they were about to get their feet wet, she stood up with her Remington 870 and squeezed off a shot and two geese hit the water.  We all stood there in amazement with our mouths open and forgot about the other two geese that were making a hasty retreat for safety, which they succeeded at.

Kaleigh had fired one shot and had her limit of two geese while Busch Pilot and I were lighter a couple of shells and had to hit the drive thru for dinner.   So when I say she shoots like a girl there is nothing negative about that comment.  Heck, both Busch Pilot and I wished we had shot like a girl that night and couldn't have been more proud of her.  Maybe if we are lucky she will gives us a lesson or two.

You go Girl!

Oct 18, 2012

So Where Did That Canada Goose Really Come From?

For those of us who hunt waterfowl the fall migration is the holy grail and something we look forward to every year.  Migration means large numbers of ducks and geese leaving their northern haunts and heading south for the winter, but you never really know where that duck or goose was unless you are lucky enough to harvest a bird that has been banded.  For us waterfowlers, a banded bird is truly a special gift and one that causes a bunch of discussion in the blind until that lucky hunter can get home and report the band to find out where this bird was from. 

Bubba's Banded Goose

Last week was the Goose opener here in Connecticut and it found yours truly and the normal group of characters headed to the dairy farm for what we had hope would be a successful  hunt with a limit of geese to be turned into a fresh batch of goobasa, goose keilbasa that is. Little did we know that this hunt would turn special with one shot at a goose trying to get away, but it surely did.

It started out as a normal hunt on the farm, with an early morning gathering, setting out the decoy spread, hunkering down in the blind and waiting for the geese to start moving.  We had to deal with the fog and low visibility and birds that don't make much noise in the fog, but the second group of geese heading our way liked what we had to offer and committed to the spread.  Just as the first couple of geese touched down, the caller called take em, the door to the blind fell and there were 15 geese to pick from. We dropped 3 right away and one a little farther out to eh right and Bubba took a final shot at one trying to get out of dodge just about to the safe zone but he dropped it.  Once the shooting is done, the Chinese fire drill starts where a couple of us exit the blind and gather up the downed geese.  I had the pleasure of being set out for the long retrieve and as I approached the down bird, I got my first glance of the jewelry this goose was wearing - A dulled yellow neck collar.  Now I know no one say the collar or the goose would have been dumped a whole lot quicker, so I gathered up the goose making sure my hand covered the collar completely and the feet facing away from everyone.  As I approached the blind the guys were stammering about what a good shot that was and I asked who made the shot, hoping multiple people would claim it, but everyone pointed to Bubba and so I spun the goose around so everyone could see the yellow neck collar and you would have thought everyone was watching the winning run score in game 7 of the world series.  No one really payed much attention to the metal leg band at the time, so we put the goose in the blind and got set back up for the next flock.

We worked the next flock that came in and brok three geese away and they dumped into the decoys and all three stayed and joined the previous 5.  The next flock allowed us to break off just two birds which was exactly what was needed to finish off our 5 man limit, so the pressure was on for Busch Pilot and Chuck to drop the last two and it took an extra shot or three but they did their job and the mission was complete and it was just 7:50am.  A 5 man limit of geese on the 2012 Connecticut goose opener, man you could could smell the goobasa cooking in the smoker.

2012 opening day goose limit

As we were picking up and trying to get packed up and out of the field so as not to spook any geese coming in for a morning meal, one of the guys was looking over the banded goose and took the first look at the leg band and it read - Zoologisk Muesuem  Coppenhagen, Denmark.  This was obviously not the typical federal leg band that we have seen before and the excitement level grew and we could not wait to get back to the house to see what we could find out about this band.  After reviewing the federal band reporting sight and finding nothing, we did a quick google search and found a report from a New Jersey hunter that harvested a goose tagged in the same manner.  There were some links in the replies to his post asking for help and one pointed us to the European Union for Bird Ringing (http://www.euring.org/).   Where after review of their website we found a link to the European Colour-Ring Birding website (http://www.cr-birding.org/) which had links to search the ringing projects where we found two that matched the method and species of Bubba's goose.  There were two projects, one in Russia and one in Greenland.  Both projects listed contact information for the project coordinators so we sent off a couple of emails and by that evening Bubba had received a reply confirming that the banded goose he harvested was from the Greenland project.

Bubba with his West Greenland Banded Goose

The information received from the coordinator confirmed that Bubba's goose had been captured and banded as an adult female on July 23, 2008 on lake "F" in an area known as Isunngua (few of the lakes have names in this area) which was just north of the airport at Kangerlussuaq in West Greenland.  This goose had been reported as being sighted in Connecticut in November of 2008 and September of 2009 as well as back in West Greenland in 2009, 2010 and most recently in July of 2012.  Geese from this project have been reported from Canada to as far south as Virgina and as far west as Ohio. You can read more about this banding project and some of the geese from this project at:  http://greenland2011.wikispaces.com/Recoveries+and+resightings.   

Now we really are not sure how far this goose actually flew because we don't really know what flight path it took and what stops it made along the way from West Greenland this year, but the best I could come up with is approximately 2000 miles as the crow goose flies.   We may not know where the other 4 geese that were harvested in out of the flock with GNI, but you would have to think that she wasn't alone in this flock.

Remember to report all sightings and harvests of banded birds and a good place to start is the Federal band reporting website at: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/bblretrv/

Oct 3, 2012

Some local Stories and Shout Outs

I haven't had much time to get in the woods so nothing to really report so I  figured I would share some local news stories that I found interesting.  Hope you enjoy some of them.

Woman Scares black bear from her deck

Now I have had to yell at a few bears while hunting to shag them away, but never from my porch or deck.  This lady is either really tough or not playing with a full deck.  The guy with the video camera is definitely not playing with a full deck.  Yikes!

Click the link below to view the video

New Breed of Hunter Shoots, Eats and Tells - NY Times Article

There was a great article in the NY times the other day related to hunting which was kind of shocking because normally hunting doesn't get good press around our neck of the woods, but this article was definitely positive.  The fact that it also include a few of the blogs and people that I follow made it even more special.  Have to give a shout out to Tovar Cerulli from the Mindful Carnivore for being mentioned in the article.  I've been following his blog and his progress on writing his book and his hard work is paying off and he really brings a great perspective to hunting.  Stop by and visit his blog or pick up his book.

Click the link below to read the article.

Connecticut Waterfowl Stamp Artwork Winner will be represented on the 2013 stamp

Winning Artwork by Richard Clifton

With waterfowl season just around the corner many of waterfowlers have already purchased our season Federal and State waterfowl stamps and I am always amazed at the incredible talent of these artists and the incredible waterfowl creations they create.  Richard Clifton's artwork of 3 Wood Ducks on a log was chosen to be the 2013 CT waterfowl stamp and being a huge fan of wood ducks I must agree that this is a winner.

You can visit the CT DEEP Website to view all the entries and get information on the next contest by clicking the link below.

With the many hunting seasons that open in October across the Northeast, please remember to be safe and respect those that don't hunt and leave the outdoors better then you found it. 

Now get out and enjoy the great outdoors and fall colors and share the passion with someone!

Sep 13, 2012

Connecticut Hunting & Fishing Appreciation Day 2012

On September 22, 2012, the DEEP and Friends of Sessions Woods will be hosting Connecticut’s third Hunting & Fishing Appreciation Day at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington.
Fun activities for all ages are planned, along with educational programs and workshops about hunting and fishing. Best of all, the event is free to attend!

Why we're celebrating
Hunters and anglers have been at the forefront of the conservation movement for over 100 years. They showed their support by requesting taxes and special fees on hunting and fishing equipment to help pay for wildlife and fish management, habitat restoration, and other conservation programs through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program. 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of this very successful effort to conserve fish and wildlife in America. It is important to recognize the outstanding contributions that hunters and anglers have made and continue to make for fish and wildlife. Join us and celebrate 75 years of better hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation through WSFR.

To find out more about activities, vendors, times and directions visit their website at:  http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=462388&depNav_GID=1655

Aug 8, 2012

Who's up for a Fish-A-Thon?

Have you ever fished for 24 hours straight?  I've spent 12 hours on the water before but never 24 hours straight.  Thanks to Recycled Fish for offering up an opportunity to fish for 24 hours straight by participating in their 24 hour Fish-A-Thon.

The concept behind the Recycled Fish 24 hour Fish-A-Thon is anglers fishing for 24 hours straight to raise awareness and money for problems facing our fisheries all around the country.

From the Recycled Fish Website

Our lakes, streams and seas are in trouble. It is the result of many things, from over-consuming water to over-harvest of fish to pollution to invasive species. Many of the main issues come from problems in our broader environment because “Our Lifestyle Runs Downstream.”

Anglers – people who love to fish – are the first to notice, because we spend time on the water observing our surroundings. Problems in our environment often show up first in our waters – it all runs downstream. We’re doing something about it with the 24 Hour Fish-A-Thon.

We’re standing up as not just users of our natural resources, but as stewards. We’re raising the flag for simple things anybody can do to ensure healthy waters for fish and wildlife – and for each of us.
You can get more information about this event or register your team or even doante to a team in your area by visiting the Recycled Fish website here:  http://www.recycledfish.org/our-programs/fish-a-thon.htm

I won't be able to fish this event due to a previous commitment,  but I will be making a donation for certain.

Jul 27, 2012

Summer Fishing Nibbles

The summer has been super busy for me and extremely hot with little rain so my fishing outings have been limited so not much to report on my end.  Here are a few summer fishing bits and pieces.

Catch and Release Summer fishing post from Greenfish.

The only sound is the water running over the rocks. The pool, the one you’ve been staking out for the past few days, is still, but for the gentle current seams coiling effortlessly downstream.

You know the fish are circling slowly in a pocket above a big sunken rock, facing upstream. You spotted them from up on the bank, before quietly walking up the shoreline and setting up for the cast.

Just as you pull the line off your reel, a rainbow trout bolts out of the water chasing an insect that just hatched. Low-hanging branches on both sides and a small pool means nailing the first cast is everything. You make an accurate back cast and get the drift right. Slight mend … wait … wait…
Read Entire Post.

For those New England Saltwater fisherman make sure to check out the July issue of On the Water Magazine for some great articles on Live lining scup for striped bass or some tube and worm tips and even some offshore articles.  Something to get your thinking and the blood flowing.  you can get the online versions by subscribing here:  http://www.onthewater.com/magazine/online/

For those within driving distance to the Housatonic River in Northwest Connecticut there is a site that must be witnessed and it is the arrival of the white fly.  The white fly hatch is underway and that means lots of Smallmouth bass looking up and some big boys at that.  When the hatch is in full swing it is similar to a white out in a snow storm.  It is a must event to see and fish for those in the area and worth the trip if you can make it.  Check out the Housatonic River Outfitters facebook page for some recent pictures and make sure to stop in to HRO on your visit for the latest information and some flies.  If you need a place to camp, check out the Housatonic Meadows State Park. Get to the river QUICK!

Photo courtesy of Bluecrab.info - click the image to visit them

It's also that time of year to chase some tasty blue crabs along the Connecticut shoreline.  Stop by the Blue Crab Blog for some great information on Blue Crabs and updated Blue Crab fishing reports local to Long Island Sound. Another great siteis the Bluecrab.Info page which is  loaded with information about Blue Crabs that covers everything from identification and anatomy, to how to catch, cook and eat them as well as a user forum dedicated to blue crab and those who chase them. Blue Crabbing is a great way to spend time with the family while enjoying the great outdoors and it doesn't take a large investment in equipment.  Just some string and a way to secure some bait to it and a net and you will have loads of laughs and some tasty crabs for dinner.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and taking advantage of the great weather and all the outdoor opportunities that exist right now.  Remember to get outside, be safe, have fun and Share the Passion!

Jun 6, 2012

Spring Creek Brown Trout

My Dad, Brother Steve and I headed out to Central Pennsylvania for our annual fishing trip with hopes of experiencing the Green Drake hatch on Penns Creek once again, but thanks to mother nature and all the recent rains and evening storms we had to go to plan B, which we made up on the fly.

We rented a great little cottage at Schafer's Country Cottages  located on Rt 45 in Aaronsburg, PA just a short ride from Penns Creek, Elk Creek and Pine Creek.  Daryl and Deborah Schafer own and operate these cottages and they were extremely helpful and responsive to our needs during our stay and the cottages were very clean and well stocked and offered up everything we needed.  We arrived around midday on Wednesday, a few hours before check in time, but our cottage was available and ready for us so we got unloaded, grabbed our fishing gear and headed out on a scouting mission to find some fishable water.   A quick stop at Penns Creek found the water running high and fast and way off color and Elk and Pine were no better.  We decided to head up over the mountain towards State College and check in on Spring Creek as this little creek is known for clearing up and getting back to fishable levels quickly and it was a good decision.

We made our way to the Fisherman's Paradise section of Spring creek around 4pm and it didn't take us long to strike up a conversation with a local fisherman who was more then willing to help us out.  He gave us some great information on the creek, the fish in it as well as bug activity.  He was so helpful and fun we spent almost an hour talking with him before realizing we needed to get on the water fast if we wanted a chance to land one of these Spring Creek wild browns.  This section on Spring Creek consists about a 2 mile stretch of river that is only accessible by walking in or taking your bike so even with plenty of cars in the parking area, we had no trouble finding a spot to fish. My dad talked my brother into doing some dry fly fishing, but I would have none of that and broke out the Euro Nymphing rig and about 3 casts into a little plunge pool I was hooked up and brought my first Spring Creek wild brown trout to hand.  I went on to land another 2 fish in a nice run just down river and even a  few branches as this little section was narrow and had me up against the brush and I quickly forgot I was swinging a 10 foot rod, but nothing could wipe the smile from my face.  We worked down river back towards the parking lot stopping at different spots to check out the water.  usually during these stops the rising fish would entice my dad and brother into a few casts which gave me the opportunity to pick the next open spot below them and to nymph up another fish or two. We finally headed back to the truck and off to find some dinner before heading back to the cottage for some sleep.

My first Spring Creek Brown Trout

Incredible colors and markings on these Spring Creek Trout

We got up Thursday and decided to head back up to Spring Creek for another run at those wild browns, once again parking at Fisherman's Paradise and heading up river.  This time I had talked my brother into doing some nymphing and stopped to fish a run that was just full of rising fish the night before only to get skunked in this run.  My brother was starting to second guess his decision to listen to me but he hung in there and was rewarded with a really nice brown that jumped out of the net before I could get a picture of it.  He claims I threw him back on purpose so there would be no proof of his fish, but that wasn't the case.  One thing for sure, when these wild browns are laying in the net all calm, it's just a ploy to get you to put the net in the water which causes them to explode out of the net as if they were shot out of a canon.  Well that is my story and I am sticking to it.  The best part of this fiasco was gentlemen taking a walk up the road stopped to see how we were doing and suggested we take up golf and just as they said that my brother was locked up.  They had a good laugh when the fish jumped the net and even were good sports and made sure to give my dad the business when they encountered him just above us. My brother and I continued to nymph up some additional fish while my dad stayed true to his desire to throw the dry flies.

My brother and Dad contemplating how to get their flies out of the trees.

Another spring creek brown that fell to a Frenchie style PT nymph

We headed out for lunch and a trip to one of the local fly shops - Fly Fisher's Paradise which is just minutes from Spring Creek were we were entertained by the shop owner and made sure to support him by making some purchases.  I told my dad that I bought him the secret flies that would finally catch him some fish, turns out they didn't work so well for him, but they worked fine for my brother and I.  See that evening they shamed me into working myself into frustration by flicking fleas and dry fly fishing.  I refused to leave my nymphing setup at the truck so I carried both just so I wouldn't explode from frustration.  I did nymph up a couple of fish, but I did put it on the bank just in time to take advantage of a spectacular sulphur spinner fall where I hooked into some nice browns, some when I couldn't even see my fly.  My brother and I landed some nice fish while dad missed about a dozen.  It was way too much fun.

Looks like this little guy survived something trying to snatch it up

one of three hefty little browns that couldn't resist my rubber leg stonefly

We woke up Friday and Penns was still high and off color so we decided to head to the Little Juniata, but dad wasn't paying attention and by the time I noticed we were in state college headed the wrong way so I had him bang a right and head back to Spring Creek.  Of course I was blamed for being a crappy navigator, but I was also blamed for giving my dad flies that don't catch fish.  I just can't win.  We decided to check out the stretch of Spring Creek by the Benner Springs Hatchery which offered up some wider stretches of water as well as some deeper pools and runs.  We walked a long distance down stream to get away from the parking areas and easy fishing access.  We can to an old bridge that ran across the creek and I noticed two large fish feeding below and it was long before I was down in the water trying to entice one of those two fish to biting.  My dad stayed up on the bridge and would give me a play by play and about the 4th cast into it, my coiled sighter jumped and I set the hook and new right away it was one of those larger fish and with in seconds, he came unbuttoned.    Man was I depressed and when my dad told me he saw the whole thing and it was a big fish I almost puked.  Oh well, we decided to work our way up the creek back towards the parking area.  I ended up with another 3 fish hooked up for short lived fight before they all came unbuttoned and I was starting to get discouraged but I stayed with it and just feet from where I lost my last fish, I set the hook on a beauty.  My dad kept telling me I was snagged on the bottom but he realized quickly that I wasn't.  I knew it was a nice fish and was expecting it to take me down into the rapids so I had my dad unhook my net and head down river.  He claims I was barking orders at him and expected him to sacrifice life and limb to net my fish and quite frankly I most certainly did.  Well i got calmed down a bit and concentrated on the fish and kept him locked up until the 17inch brown was in my net. Redemption felt good.  By this time we needed some lunch so we headed out.

This hefty brown was one heck of a fight - good net job dad

Love the colors of these fish

Another fish that couldn't resist the rubber leg stonefly

That evening we came back to the Benner Springs section and worked farther down river from the bridge to find even more great fishable water.  The sulpher hatch was one and my dad and brother starting throwing dries and proceeded to miss a few fish, so I jumped in and cleaned up a couple quick before they got frustrated.  We headed back to the truck only to stop and let my dad and brother fish to some rising fish.  My brother got into a zone and was hooking up while my dad missed a few fish.  When my brother caught his fourth fish I took my dads rod and decided I needed to get on these fish before he caught up to me and it wasn't long before I hooked into one on my dads rod with the same sulpher spinner that the fish were refusing just prior.  Needless to say my dad was not happy and almost drowned the two of us, but we had some good laughs over it later.  It was back to the cottage and a late dinner of venison burgers and bratwurst.

Saturday morning found us packing and heading down to Penns Creek to spend the last morning of our trip before heading back to my dad's house in the Poconos.  Penns was still high and off color enough that it was hard to see the underwater structure and it was like fishing blind.  There was little bug activity and no signs of fish and it wasn't long before the kayakers started showing up.  We left Penns with no fish, but we were not discouraged thanks to a little creek called Spring Creek.

Steve, Dad and I at the end of the trip before heading home

Can't wait for next years trip!

May 30, 2012

Someday Yellowstone, Someday!

I am standing waist deep in crystal clear cool water at the tail end of a wide, deep and slow running pool just watching fish after fish rise to the surface sipping bugs.  They sky is the most vivid blue I have ever seen and spattered with large white fluffy clouds.  The mountains in the background seem to extend all the way to heaven and the grassy meadows seem to welcome wildlife at every bend.  Any guess where I am?  I'm willing to bet many of you guessed somewhere out west maybe even in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone River - Bellow Yellowstone Lake  - Photo Courtesy of: Big Sky Fishing.Com   

As much as I wish the above scenario was real, it isn't, but the above is something I find myself day dreaming about often as I am sure many of a fly fisherman or fisherwomen has done themselves.  For those that have actually had the opportunity to live out the above scenario, I envy you and hope you realize how special it was and how lucky you are.  When I hear the words like native, wild and pristine there are only two places that come to mind.  One is Alaska and the other is Yellowstone.  Both of these incredible places are on my wish list and reside at the top of that list. 

The nature and beauty of Yellowstone was so apparent to our ancestors that they were smart enough to see the need to preserve this area and protect it so it would remain as wild and beautiful as ever for many generations to come and in doing so Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872 and started a new concept on keeping wild places wild and open for all to enjoy.

Defining what is natural and wild can be an interesting discussion as many groups in the past have tried to restore certain specifies of wildlife or fish to an area where it once flourished as well as try to improve the numbers and quality for those looking to recreate and spend time there.  This balance is always a struggle and as good as a plan seemed years ago, it may not be that good today.  As many people visit Yellowstone each year and enjoy in the glory it has to offer, we must remember that there is a constant battle to keep Yellowstone truly wild, native, pristine and open for all and it is programs like the Native Fish Conservation Program that will be used to keep it this way.

The Native Fish Conservation Program is based on a National Park Service plan, approved May 2011, which outlines the park’s increased focus on restoring native fish and creating resiliency in fish populations. It lays out a detailed management strategy to ensure that native fish are restored to sustainable levels, so that they can support the natural food chain, native biodiversity, and sport fishery purposes.
The top priority of the NPS plan is to decrease the number of predatory, non-native lake trout, which in recent years have dramatically reduced the number of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Park Foundation funding of the Native Fish Conservation Program will allow for a significant effort to suppress lake trout through private sector netters on Yellowstone Lake. The goal of sustained efforts is to recover Yellowstone cutthroat trout to mid-1990s levels. 

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout - Photo Courtesy of: National Park Service

Maintaining that balance to what was truly native and belongs to that which isn't but thrived and brought tourists and dollars to an area is where our challenges remain today in keeping these wild places, truly wild and original.

Growing up in the city people are always amazed that I have such a passion for the outdoors and I always told my mother that I felt I was born to late and in the wrong state.  I know I will one day travel west and spend time in Yellowstone and hopefully try my luck at hooking and landing one of it's famed native cutthroat trout.  The real question is will I come back East or will I have a new home out West.  My wife knows the answer and it is one of the reasons she will not let me go alone.

Someday Yellowstone!

This is my submission for the Trout Unlimited, Simms, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Outdoor Blogger Network – Blogger Tour 2012 contest.

May 21, 2012

First keeper Striper of 2012

I'm running way behind on my posts thanks to work, work and more work and Captain Scotty is claiming I refuse to write this post because he out fished us, but that is jut not true.  Now let go of my arm Scott.

The spring striper run here in CT is one that many folks wait for with baited breath.  Fishing last years run was dampened thanks to all the spring rain and storms we had, and with the dry spring this year we were expected a early and heated run.  So when Captain Scotty called and offered up a boat rid for his first striper trip of the year I jumped at it, of course that was after checking with the boss if it was okay to go fishing on our anniversary.  Thankfully she is a great wife and said yes.

Capt. Scotty with the first keeper of 2012

I met Scott and his son Dylan at 5am at the local store for some gas for the boat and some starter fluid for the 3 of us and off to the river we went.  We hit the launch in Hartford only to find a line of fisherman waiting for the gates to open and no one knew when they would.  We gave it about 15 minutes, which was pretty good considering how impatient we were and decided to head south to another launch and it was a smart move as we had no wait to get the boat wet.

As we set up for the first drift we started looking for signs of life and it was void of any.  Not what we were hoping for but this is a drift that usually produces a few fish.  Half way through the drift, Dylan had a good hit but it was a swing and a miss.  I watched a fish come up and smack some bait, but couldn't get one to bite or follow.  We setup for another drift and that produced nothing and as we were reeling up to setup for another drift Scott got slammed and had that fish on for about a minute before it came unbuttoned.  One more drift and another sniff but nothing so we moved to our second spot and repeated.

I missed a run off on this drift and Scott got whacked again so we setup one more time and at the end of the drift Scott finally got the hook set and the first keeper linesider of the year was in the boat, well, after a few misses by the net man Dylan. Another drift or two with nothing and it was on to spot three which was occupied with two other boats and no one catching anything.  By then it was 1pm and the river was getting crowded so we decided to pack it in and head home.

It wasn't what we had hoped for but a keeper is a keeper and Scott has the bragging rights for now, but all it takes is one good fish to change the tide.

Apr 24, 2012

Another Successful Youth Turkey Hunt

Me, Dylan and Busch Pilot with Fingers

Passinthru Outdoors is all about sharing the passion for the outdoors with others and this past weekend Busch Pilot and I had the opportunity to take a youngster out for only his second turkey hunt ever.  Earlier this week Bubba was telling us about Dylan, whose father had just been deployed and his serving his country as a member of the Air Force and that Dylan had no one to take him Turkey hunting.  Bubba was going to be out of town with his family so we didn't hesitate to say yes when asked if Busch Pilot and I would take him out for youth day here in CT.  The chance to take a youngster out for a hunt is always top on our list, but to take a youngster who's father is currently serving our great country and protecting our freedoms is definitely number one on the list.

Turkey we named Fingers who was on our hit list.

Dylan had completed his hunter safety course last spring and got his license just in time to hunt the last day of the 2011spring turkey season.  Dylan was fortunate enough to tag his first deer last fall and was really looking forward to trying his luck at spring turkey and we were excited to be part of it.  Any time we take a new hunter out to the woods, especially a youngster, it always adds a little bit of extra pressure as you always take the opportunity to teach and you want that person to see game and have a positive experience and if possible to fill a tag.  Well this hunt offered up everything we had hoped for.

Busch pilot and I spent time doing our scouting and getting an idea for what was going on and it was interesting how things changed in just one week.  The birds were broke up even more and were much more quiet.  Even their roosting habits changed. There are hens on nests and we are catching them returning to roost very late in the day.  This is why scouting on a regular basis is important to successful turkey hunts.  Friday evening before the hunt we had 6 jakes work through the farm and head off to roost on the adjoining property, the good news was we felt they would work right back on to the farm or at least we could get them to do so as they would be well within range to hear us calling.

I picked Dylan up at his house at 4:30am and we made the short drive to the farm where we parked and waited for Busch pilot to show up because stopped down the street to talk with fisherman waiting for the 6:00am start time for Connecticut's opening day of fishing season. We got our gear loaded up and headed off to the lower part of the farm which would put us close to where those jakes headed off to roost.  The first signs of light were greeted with a long distance gobble, which perked all 3 of us up.  It wasn't long after that when the next gobbler sounded off and others responded.  We had gobblers close enough that we knew we could work one and it wasn't long before Busch Pilot was working his magic and talking turkey.  We had been talking and teaching Dylan about what was going on and what we thought might happen and he was very attentive and asked some questions.  The best question was when he asked us if we should load the gun!  We got caught up in listening for birds and explaining things to Dylan that it was almost 15 minutes into legal shooting and we still hadn't loaded the shotgun.  We all had a good laugh about that one.

Check Fingers off the hit list

We had gobbles not far from us and knew they had crossed the property and were in the lower pasture of the farm we were hunting and now all we needed was a visual.  I caught the first bird moving up the field and put the binos on him and could see it was a good tom so Busch Pilot gave him a few calls and he stopped and looked right into our setup.  As he stopped to look, we noticed more birds coming in the field below him and it was the 6 jakes from the night before.  All we needed now was for one of them to get interested in the sweet sounds coming from Busch Pilot's slate call.  When that tom took two steps towards us, we knew that this was going to happen.  That tom worked our way while the jakes continued up the field and out of sight.

I had the camera running, BP was calling  and we couldn't forget about coaching Dylan who was extremely calm and ready to go.  At one point when the tom was in range BP and I had a discussion and we decided to let him keep coming to the decoy to offer up a closer shot and the Tom obliged.  When he got to the jake decoy Dylan had the gun up and a bead on him and when we gave Dylan the okay to take the safety off and take his shot.  When the Remington 870 20 gauge barked that tom flipped over and Dylan had his first turkey on the ground.  I think Busch Pilot and I were way more excited at first but it didn't take long for Dylan to join in the celebration.  We exchanged high fives and hugs and let our adrenaline calm down and then sent Dylan out to retrieve his longbeard.

Dylan brought the bird back over to the blind and we looked it over, filled out his tag and took some pictures before breaking down the blind and packing up the decoys.  Dylan's first bird was a two year bird weighing 20lbs and had a 9" beard and had just incredible color.  His bird was also one of the birds on our hit list known as Fingers and there were plenty of folks in our crew hoping to claim his as their own, but not a one was disappointed in the news that Dylan shot fingers.  Matter of fact, everyone was extremely happy and excited for him, even my daughter who held out last weekend in hopes of getting a poke at Fingers.

Dylan with his first turkey - 20lbs 9" beard
 Just as we made it back to the trucks, some friends showed up to check out Dylan's first bird and offer up congrats for a job well done. We then headed off to Busch Pilot's house to clean Dylan's bird and call it  a day.  Dylan plans on mounting the tail and beard and I hope that every time he looks at it he remembers this hunt and thinks about how he can share the passion with someone new.  Because in the end, it's not about the trophies on the wall or the filled tags, but the memories of sharing the passion for the shooting sports with someone else.

Congrats Dylan!

Apr 17, 2012

2012 CT Youth Turkey Hunt Success

Saturday April 14th was the first of two turkey youth hunting training days here in Connecticut.  These days are designed to allow licensed youth hunters to hunt prior to the opening of the general season as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult.  Only the youth hunter is allowed to carry a firearm or bow and the only one allowed to hunt.  This offers up plenty of opportunities for the youth hunters to learn as the adults teach.  Great concept and very valuable in getting kids excited in our sport of hunting.

So Saturday Busch Pilot and I planned on taking out My Daughter and Bubba's youngest son Jared out turkey hunting at the farm.  This would be Jared's first turkey hunt and my daughters second year.  Last year Kaleigh was successful tagging her first bird on a youth hunt and we were hoping the same good luck would be with Jared.

A mature bird nicknamed Fingers - he is on Kaleigh's hit list

We have been watching the farm for weeks and knew we had plenty of birds using the farm regularly including 3 longbeards and a jag of young jakes.  At times during our scouting the filed would be full of birds as much as 20 at one time.  The Friday evening before we scouted the farm, and the birds did the exact same thing they've been doing as previous scouting trips which made our game plan simple. Busch Pilot and Jared would setup in the upper field closer to where the birds were roosting, while Kaleigh and I hunted the lower pasture hoping to catch one of the bigger toms skating around all the action.

Just as it started getting light the first gobbler sounded off and it started the typical morning chain reaction and we had birds gobbling on the roost all around us so we knew the kids would see birds today and hoped they would come close enough for a shot or two.  Once the birds hit the ground they got a little quiet, but there was a good mix of birds in the field and heading down off the upper field which would put them in view of Jared's setup.  Bubba had to work and couldn't join the hunt, but he was down on the road watching the show and his watch all while willing the birds into the Jared's setup.  Busch Pilot is our Turkey Whisperer and speaks fluent turkey and he gave a couple of soft yelps and purs and that strutting Jake turned to look and got his first glimpse of the decoy.  That strutting Jake walked right up to the decoy just 15 yards from where Jared sat and when that Remington 870 20 gauge barked that Jake hit the ground and never twitched.  Jared's first turkey ever was on the ground bit the field was still filled with birds so they sat tight.   Seeing we have a 3 bird limit on private land here in CT, Busch Pilot asked Jared it he wanted to shoot another one, which by the way was a stupid question, of course Jared did.  So Busch Pilot worked a another Jake and hen into the decoys and told Jared to shoot when the hen cleared out and was safe.  That hen cleared out, Jared shot and two Jakes hit the ground.  Yup, another Jake was running in as he shot and both went down.  So Jared's first every turkey hunt ended in him tagging out by 6:30am.  That wasn't the plan, but it happens sometimes.

Jared's first, second and third Turkey of hist hunting carreer

Kaleigh and I could hear the whole thing and would catch a glimpse of the top of a strutting tom's tail but the only bird to make it to us that early was a bearded hen. When Jared went to retrieve his flopping bird, the birds spooked and flew off so Kaleigh and I decided to stay put and let things calm down.  About an hour later we had hens talking and birds gobbling again so we got back to business and it wasn't long after that when we saw birds coming around the point and working are way.  Kaleigh had decided that she wanted a mature bird and was not going to shoot a Jake and I thought that would be thrown out the window at the first sign of a Jake and she was about to be tested, not once but multiple times.  As we watched the first bird coming our way we could see the second, third and eventually the 7th Jake coming down into the lower pasture.  We looked them over good at a distance with the binos and then I asked Kaleigh if she wanted to shoot one and I thought for sure she would say yes, so when she said no I was shocked.  I asked again to make sure and she reemphasized her no a little louder which was my signal to not ask again.  So I asked her if she wanted to have some fun with them which she agreed to, so we gave a few soft helps and those Jakes turned and walked right to us.  The milled around gobbled some, tried to strut there stuff but they seemed a little nervous which was probably due to the fact that Jared had knocked down 3 of their friends.

The Jakes finally headed off down below us and continued to gobble every now and again.  While all this was going on, we could hear two more gobblers off in the distance and we both knew they were most likely the mature birds we were looking for.  I felt that trying to work the mature birds with 7 Jakes less then 75 yards from us would prove to be ineffective, but we gave it a shot.  Just about 10 minutes after calling to those mature toms, that I hear that sound of a turkey strutting and peak out the window to the right and there is one of those Jakes just 10 yards from the blind.  Crap, they came back.  I once again asked Kaliegh if she wanted to shoot one and this time I got the head shake and a dirty look.  So we sat backed and enjoyed the show that the Jakes would put on for  almost 20 minutes.  They huddled up by our decoy at a mere 15 yards and gobbled and gobbled and gobbled.  They gobbled at everything.  Crows, planes, geese, other turkeys, actually they gobbled at just about anything that made noise.  All this time we could hear those two other gobblers still sounding off but getting farther away.  Not good, but we decided to sit and enjoy the show which we did.  We giggled at almost every gobble, Kaleigh took pictures with her cell phone and sent them to all her friends and she would ask some questions and I would answer.

Once the Jakes finally got out of our setup, we waited about a 1/2 hour and decided we would do some additional calling from our current setup to see if we could hear those other Toms before changing game plans.  We got a long distance gobble here and there but they obviously had their ladies with them and wanted nothing to do with us.  We did a little run and gunning but couldn't go to where those Toms were and nothing else responded so at about noon we decided to call it a morning and head out to get some lunch.  We ate lunch and ran back to the house to check in with mom and it was almost 1:30pm and even though we could hunt until 5pm on youth day, Kaleigh had a birthday party to go to that evening and decided to skip the afternoon hunt.  She was going to from camo and the turkey woods to a dress and heels all in one day.

Fingers the day after the youth hunt - Kaleigh took his picture

Success comes in many forms and success is really defined by the individual.  Jared had a very successful day no doubt about it, and some may feel that Kaleigh didn't.  The fact that Kaleigh made up her mind and stuck to her game plan and never wavered, even with multiple legal birds taunting her just feet from where she sat taking their picture, says different.  These youth hunts are also about training and opportunities to gain experience, I'd say the hunt provided us with plenty of opportunities to discuss and learn from and for Kaleigh to grow as a hunter and I was proud of how she handled the experience.  In my book that equals a successful hunt.

Apr 5, 2012

Connecticut Marine Angler Survey Program

Capt. Scott with a keeper Fluke - 2011

For those anglers that frequent Connecticut's shoreline and marine waters to fish there is an opportunity to help the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Marine Fisheries Divions by volunteering to participate in the Connecticut Volunteer Angler Survey (VAS) Program.    This program is designed to collect fishing trip information from Marine recreation anglers by giving them tools to recording their angling activities and catches in a log book.  At the end of the fishing season you simple send your logbook to DEEP where they will enter all the data into their computers and then ship your log book back to you to keep for your records.  It doesn't get any easier then that.

More information on the the VAS program and DEEP Marine Fishers Division contact information can be found by visiting the DEEP website at: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2696&q=322750&depNav_GID=1647

Mar 27, 2012

Shout out to Rick at Whitetail Woods

Have to give a quick shout out to Rick from Whitetail Woods.  Rick was running a great little giveaway that I was fortunate enough to win so Rick and I met up yesterday so I could collect my booty and talk outdoors.  I have featured Rick in my They Have the Passion posts and Rick's blog is always on my reading list as Rick does a fantastic job putting out tons of usual information, recipes and recaps from his outdoor pursuits.

The prize pack included:

I watched the DVD last night and couldn't sleep with all the gobbling and visions of strutting longbeards going on in my head.  I will be practicing with my new call tonight and hopefully getting those sweet looking decals on my truck.  Can't wait for the Camo jacket to come in either as I will most certainly be sporting that around town for sure.  Thanks to the companies above for participating in Rick's Giveaway and to Rick for sharing his outdoor passions with his readers.

Make sure you stop by and check out Rick's blog at:  http://whitetailwoods.blogspot.com/

Mar 22, 2012

My favorite Wild Turkey Recipes

With spring turkey season on deck I figured I would use this opportunity to share my favorite wild turkey recipes.

How to cook those legs and thighs:  I slow cook the legs and thighs in a slow cooker with some chicken broth and some seasonings and the real secret is low and slow.  I start them in the morning and cook them on low and they are done by the time I get home from work.  I don't want the meat to fall off the bone, but it's close to doing so.  Remove them from the crock pot and let them cool on a plate.  You can strain the liquid from the slow cooker and save for adding to the soup or use for another soup.  Once the turkey is cool place them in the fridge over night and then pick them apart cold.  It seems easier to separate the meat from all those pesky tendons after it is cold.  I've also picked them after letting them cool on the counter.  I then use this picked me in the recipe below.  If you are one of those folks that swear the turkey legs are no good, then give this cooking method a try and I'm sure you will change your mind.

The first is Turkey, Mushroom and wild rice soup.  I found this recipe on a states fish and game website many years ago when I was looking for a way to use the turkey legs and thighs which is the same time I came across the cooking method above.  I can't remember which one either but some of you may have seen it.

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
  • 3-4 cups of cooked turkey, cubed or pulled -I use turkey legs and thighs cooking method above.
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 pkgs of mushrooms sliced - what ever kind you like
  • 1 - 2 cups of cooked long grain wild rice
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 2 cups of milk
  • garlic - as much as you like but at least 2cloves - crushed/minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, I use shredded
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Water or stock (can use the stock from the crockpot here)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook the rice as directed.  In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic and cook until tender.  Add Turkey, wine and salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes while stirring.  Add cornstarch to milk, mix and add to skillet.  Cook until bubbly.  add rice to pain and remaining seasonings and Parmesan cheese.  Add water or turkey/chicken stock to make everything a little soupy.  Simmer for another 20 minutes and serve.  Add some biscuits or some crusty bread and you have a warm hearty meal.

The next favorite is what we call Turkey Poppers.  There are many recipes out there that are the same, but with a different name and no matter what they are called, these are great tasting little treats that everyone enjoys and go a long way when introducing others to eating wild turkey.

Southwest Turkey Poppers
  • One Turkey breast - boneless
  • Thick sliced hickory smoked bacon- your favorite bacon will work
  • jalapeno peppers - sliced
  • Southwest salad dressing - substitute your favorite dressing or BBQ sauce.
  • Toothpicks
Cut the turkey breast into strips just wider than your bacon - about two inches and marinate overnight in southwest dressing (substitute your favorite dressing or BBQ sauce).   Prepare the jalapeno peppers by cutting in half and removing the seeds and slicing them into long pieces.  Take a marinated strip of turkey and lay it flat.  Place a slice of pepper on the center of the turkey strip and roll up.  Place a strip of bacon around the rollup and secure with a tooth pick.  Now you can cook these on the grill, my preferred method, or bake/broil in oven until turkey and bacon is cooked.  Take care to not over cook.  

If you have a favorite wild turkey recipe feel free to share it in the comments section.

Mar 19, 2012

Weekend Photos 3/18/12

A few photos from the weekend.  Enjoy.

Carolina Wren

House Finch

House Finch

My Lab Hannah's fitness partner - Bun Bun

This little guy eats way to much

Colorful Rainbow trout - Willimantic River TMA

Lots of Stoneflies hatching right now

Mar 13, 2012

My Weekend Outdoors - 3/11/12

It was a pretty nice weekend here in the Northeast with warmer temps and clear skies, you know the kid of day you must take advantage of and spend as much time as possible outdoors and I did.  I did some backyard birding and photography, made a little maple syrup and even got into some trout with the fly rod and before I get yelled at, I even did some house work.

With the night time temps warming up the sugaring season may be coming to an end and I can't say I am sorry to see it end.  As tasty as pure maple syrup is, it is truly a labor of love and Monday started week 5 of the season which includes many late nights during the week and longer weekends.  On Saturday Bubba and I bottled up another 6 gallons which helped us get closer to the 60 gallon yearly average, down some from last years 101 gallons though.  When you poor this stuff over your pancakes you quickly forget about those late nights and long weekends. 

Where the Magic happens - 30 gallons of sap per hour

Finished Product

Makes the time all worth while

The activity at my bird feeders has really picked up over the past couple weeks with new visitors showing up which is a good sign spring is on the way as the birds start migrating back North.  The newest visitors around my house were Red-winged blackbirds, American Goldfinches, Common Crackles, Mourning Doves and finally a couple of Robins.  At one point I had 10 American Goldfinches enjoying my offerings at the same time.  I think that is a record for me.  The highlight though was a hawk that thought he would get an easy meal at my feeder.  He didn't but came close twice.  I'm not sure if it is a Coppers Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk as they are very similar and hard to differentiate.  I do hope to see the Baltimore Orioles come back this spring.

Coopers or Sharp-shinned Hawk?

Mourning Dove

Red-winged Blackbird
Sunday afternoon found me fishing the Willimantic River TMA which is a fly fishing only section open year round for catch and release fishing.  I took a quick lunch run up there last week and was skunked but today was definitely more productive as bent rods and tight lines produce some nice trout to hand.  All released to provide someone else with the enjoyment they gave me.  I broke out the Greys Streamflex 10' 4wt and rigged up to Euro Nymph using a coiled sighter.  I picked up fish on brown rubber legged stonefly, a Frenchie style pheasant tail and a walt's worm.  I did miss a few as well.  The two best fish was a 14"  hefty rainbow and a 13" tiger trout.

This hefty 14"+ Rainbow took a size 18 Frenchie PT w/Orange Bead

This Rainbow trout took the size 18 Frenchie

Tiger Trout took the Rubber Legged Stone

A little video from the release of the bigger rainbow.  Looks like I need to work on my one handed video release technique though.  This was taken using my Olympus TG-310.

My daughter and I even got a little archery practice in and man were we rusty.  Not bad for a weekend outdoors.  So what did you do this past weekend?