Friday, July 25, 2014

Mosquitoes and the British are a bad mix

My family all came home for our anniversary party. Son-in-law Jeff is very fair skinned. For some reason the bugs are attracted to him
He had barely been here a day and had been outdoors very little when the pesky bites began. Waking up the next day, he showed me his legs. They had huge red blotches calf-high and included his feet.
The next day most of them turned into blister-like bumps. No over-the-counter creme or anything else had any effect.
The bits were hardly bearable due to the extreme itching. H's very difficult to convince it might be a old time to go to the doctor but we finally did.
Diagnosis: Mosquito bites. Treatment: A prescribed creme that didn't have any affect. He's back home now in England and finally saw his doctor. He's under a regular course of treatment to get through this.
I know everything was put here for a purpose but what the purpose these bugs make is a mystery to me.
Remember to cover up, get that repellent on and if you can, avoid going outdoors at dusk.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Essetial kayak equipment

Besides the kayak itself and a paddle, you'll want a well-fitting pfd. If possible, find one with pockets in it to carry small items; first aid kit, a couple of tackle boxes and the various tools anglers use.
To carry tackle,  couple of Plano 3700's tackle trays should hold enough. Get a milk crate on something similar to keep the tackle in.
Bungee the crate and the trays to the boat. Because water runs in and out, figure out a way to raise your crate. There are all sorts of ideas on You Tube.
Fishing at night is going to require a white light visible for all 360-degrees mounted in the rear. During the day, a brightly colored flag will help other boats see you.
Remember, you'll be sitting very low on the water, practically on the surface. Do all you can to be visible.
Fish with a buddy or let someone know where you'll be fishing and when you'll return. Above all, wear that pfd. Good luck and happy paddling.

Friday, June 27, 2014

VanBaalen not quite at VanDam's level

Waterford resident Patrick VanBaalen won his first bass fishing tournament recently. The 16-year-old was entered in the The Bass Federation Championship on Pontiac Lake June 7.
The field was separated into two age groups; 11-14 and 15-18. Two anglers; one from each age group, were assigned to boats owned and driven by adult anglers.
Each boy had charge of the boat for three hours. This allowed them to tell the operator where they wanted to fish, and gave them the front of the boat along with running the trolling motor.
"I had fished the lake a week before in my kayak and caught a nice four-pounder," he said. VanBaalen had control of the boat first. He had the driver take the to this area.
Patrick VanBaalen with two bass he caught for the win on Pontiac Lake. Photo submitted.
"I was throwing a crank bait in the same area I caught that fish the week before. I had something big on but it got off," he said.
When the other boy got his turn he had the driver take them near the ramp, around the beach area in 10-12 feet of water, with lots of weeds.
"I started drop shooting and caught four in a couple of hours. I finally ended up with a limit of five fish and won the tournament," he said.
The win gives him a trip to Lake Murray in South Carolina, August 15 for the TBF National Championship.
"Lake Murray is huge. There is 600 miles of shoreline with 50,000 acres of water to fish," he said. He'll be fishing against 40 kids from across the country that are considered the best in their respective age groups and states.
What a great opportunity for a young man whose goal is someday to be a full time tournament angler. "I know that is a difficult goal to reach but I'm prepared to work hard to get there," he said.
Good luck Patrick. I'll check back with you after your Lake Murray trip.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Water is not always the best thing to sustain a marriage

Yesterday, June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, is an historical day not only for the significance of the bate the U.S. and other allies fought on the beaches of Normandy, France but coincidentally, it's also the 50th anniversary of my marriage to Patricia Ann Heermans.
Another interesting fact occurred about four years ago when we had a chance to visit the invasion beaches where 1000,000 solders died trying to come ashore and gain control over the Nazi regime that was in poster at the time.
Now that you have some historical perspective and understand the importance of June 6, both as anAmerican for personal reasons and as a couple for our own reasons, I'shed some light on the marriage end of things.
We, or I should say my wife Pat raised our four children. They've all turned out to be honest, productive citizens who make anyone proud.
Wherever we go we received complains about how polite, helpful, and concern for others our children has done."You two did an amazing job of raising them the right way," is the usual comment.
To set the record straight, my wife did the raising. She brought her sense of values and how people should be reared into our marriage learned at the knee of her dad who was an Episcopal priest for 50-plus years.
For an example, before we had children and early in our marriage, I was attending the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Academy. After class one day we went out. I noticed someone on the street and made a derogatory comment about them.
"Why would you say that, Roger?" You don't know that person. "Well our instructor today on patrol tactics said he always looked for the bad in people and had never been disappointed."
"Of course he hasn't been disappointed. It's harder to look for the good in people and find it," she said.
Good advice I should have listened to. As our family came along she began to be tagged with the household duties and teaching the kids right from wrong while I was working eight hour shifts as a policeman, tun drinking all the alcohol I could find during my time off.
I wasted a lot of years, working and sleeping hangovers off therefore missing some great family actives.
I'm not proud of my actions. I am proud how my wife had the internal strength to step in and do the right things while putting up with me and my behavior.
So for 35 of those 50 years she supported me in very way possible. I say 35 years because it's been that long since I've had anything to drink stronger than wine at communion.
I'm one of the lucky that lived through all of this without hurting someone or myself. Goodness knows what it did to my family.
And I am very fortunate to have a wife that was wise enough to stay in the background, go about her business and prayer very hard that some day I would come around, see what a beautiful family I have and change my life.
If someone were to ask me what is the one thing I would do different, without hesitation it would be o never take a drink.
The rest of the changes, like spending time with my family and being a real dad and husband would have naturally followed.
Happy anniversary Pat and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you have done for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When it's nice to fish, the mosquitoes get into the act

Good friend Bill Semion emailed from his place on the AuSable River after being chased off the river by hordes of mosquitoes.
"It's the first time I have ever had to leave the river because of mosquitoes," he wrote. Like a lot of fly fishermen, he fishes in the evening, sometimes quite late.
That is the witching hour for the large trout that like to sneak out from their cover and slurp bugs in the air, or as the float by on the waters surface.
But mosquitoes like we've been experiencing, can ruin a perfectly fun-filled experience. You can wear long sleeves, caps, slather on your favorite repellent and the things still come at you. And get some bug spray on your hands then change flies and you'll find fish won't like the flavor of Deep Woods Off.
Neighbors just home from an extended camping trip in the north complained about the bugs this year and how there seem to be so many more. Possible a result of the brutal winter?
I know everything was put on earth for a purpose but why mosquitoes and what good do they serve?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A cup of coffee isn't free, but fishing is this weekend

Free Fishing Weekend is June 7-8. There is no cost for state residents or non-residents to fish those two days. However, all fishing regulations apply.
There is a second Free Fishing Weekend in the winter for the ice fishing crowd. Either weekend is a good chance to test the water, if you will, but for people who have never fished, they can give it a go without investing a lot of money.
If you don't own a boat, no problem. Fish from one of the many piers scattered around the state, or closer to home and right here in Oakland County, try some bank angling.
A lot of the people you see in boats will target shores to make casts to with the idea fish will ambush bait from the cover of banks.
Keep costs down by borrowing equipment from a friend or relative that fishes. Or if you decide to take the plunge and invest in equipment, visit a good bait shop like KD Outdoors in Waterford.
They'll give you good advice on what you need to get started with while not breaking the bank.
Speaking of borrowing gear a neighbor, mention you're interested in seeing what fishing is all about. Fishermen are normally a gregarious bunch and usually are only too happy to take a newbie out and show them the ropes.
If shore or pier fishing is as far as you get, remember to wear a life jacket or PFD. You may be able to see bottom from either place, but it's probably deeper than you think and could drop off fast.
Be safe, have fun, and give fishing a try.

Photo courtesy of DNR

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Don't forget to fly your flag at half staff this weekene

Not only is it proper flag etiquette to fly the American flag at half staff during the Memorial Day weekend, it's a good reminder to all who pass by why we celebrate the day.
Memorial Day means just what those words imply, a memorial or memory to honor those who have died defending during times of war.
Without their individual sacrifices we may not be able to enjoy the boating pleasure, picnics, grilling outdoors, up north travel and all other activities we take for granted.
My wife and I visited the beaches where the Normandy invasion took place during WWII. I kept telling her and my son Matt that if we hadn't gotten up those hills and through the sand to the well-built German gun posts, we all could be speaking German today.
After all, they had the advantage, defending the high ground, making it relatively easy to throw our troops back into the sea by way of devastating fire.
Not until some foot soldiers were able to make higher ground to continue the fight on a somewhat even playing field, did the tide begin to turn. By that time, many Americans lie mortality wounded on the beach and in the water around Normandy.
Some of us will visit a cemetery where a loved one lies in perpetuity. Graves are usually tended and flowers or small American flags placed near headstones.
There are still a few parades left, usually in smaller towns, to celebrate or remember the occasion.  Whatever is your tradition, take a moment to remember those that have gone before, especially in defense of our country.