Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Youth Baseball

Three days a week my wife and I are busy, thank you. We both have prior invites that keep us committeed pretty much throughout the summer.
No, it's not black tie or even casual business attire. All you need is comfortable clothes-shorts, T-shirts and sandals are in vogue-a lawn chair and a good pair of lungs to cheer with.
We are hooked on our 12-year-old grandson Joshua Checkal's baseball games. Of course, once basketball seasons hits, we follow that too.
The games are fun, exciting, and in his case, his team-players and coaches-have been together for a long time.
Now we get to kind of reap the rewards and see these kids grow. They not only are bigger, but quicker, more accurate with throws and hit the ball harder and longer.
Josh is throwing smoke when he pitches. His control can use some work but for the most part he's right on.
That comes from the numerous catching and pitching camps he's been in 0ver the winter thanks to his dad. He's enrolled in about every baseball clinic around.
In fact, he just finished up a stint in one of Clarkston's Dan Fife basketball camps. He like both sports.
We do too. Give us someone to cheer for. In fact, we pretty much know the team so we get involved.
Beats whatever show the pros are putting forth. At least our guys try and they do appreciate a little recognition and a trip for ice cream after a win.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seasons come and go quickly too

Monday's posting had to do with how fast time flies. Today's mail brought catalogues full of hunting gear.
We are just getting into some good fishing when retailers are already bringing out the heavy clothing, shotguns and rifles, bows and stands, all the ingredients needed for hunting.
Just like Christmas being advertised months early, our sporting seasons seem to have followed this trend.
I guess it's a marketing thing. A need to get what is new out before the season arrives. Bottom line though, it's all about making the dollar.
Any day now I should receive promo releases on ice fishing equipment, what is new and what to buy for the coming season.
Do retailers think rods, guns, shanties, and other equipment wear out after a year's use? You would think so the way promotions go.
All in all though, it's fun to get these things and look them over. Some equipment are for dreamers like myself.
After all, you can shoot only one gun at a time. Happy browsing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Time flies

I could never figure out when persons older than me used to say, "The older you get, the faster time goes." Or, "Slow down and enjoy life. It's gone before you realize it."
I'm finding these words get truer with every year I add on. But still, I hurry through days, weeks, and even months, often looking a long way ahead.
For instance, I just got off the phone with my daughter residing in England who is expecting her first child this October. I wondered if she, the baby, and husband were going to up for the Olympics in 2012 in London. After asking I thought that is a long way off. No need to worry about that just yet.
But here I am looking forward to the arrival of a new grandchild in October, being in England, and spending time with her and my son-in-law.
Just weeks prior I was looking forward to September and kayak fishing for salmon. That went out the window when my wife decided to attend her class reunion in California over the time I would be gone.
The same is true with the Nov. 15 firearms opener. I had been invited to deer camp in the U.P. and was already looking forward to that trip. That also got cancelled due to the new arrival.
That's the way it goes sometimes. Our plans get nixed for others that take priority. It's good in a way as it keeps us grounded and more or less reeled in.
By the way, thanks to all who took the time to email or otherwise write in about my fishing buddy Bill Baker. He passed within a couple days of my seeing him.
His response when I shook his hand and said I would be seeing him again proved prophetic. "No you won't," he said.
On a hot day, the honor guard took over for a military funeral at the Great Lakes Veterans Memorial Cemetery. It was a most fitting goodbye to someone who loved his country and devoted part of his life to serving it. He'll be missed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weather, and what to make of it!

Sometime this coming winter, we'll look back on these hot days and wish we had a few. But for now, the weather maps are colored mostly red indicating super hot temps.
The last I heard, the long-range forecast is for continued hot weather on into September. As far as I'm concerned, the hot weather can go away then and let the cooler weather in that leads to hunting season, bucks thinking about the rut, and those fall colors we like to see.
Remember, when it gets this hot with equally high humidity, the formula for quick, sometimes severe thunderstorms is a definite consideration.
That means staying close to the radio or other news source, especially if you are on the water. Boaters and anglers need to keep a weather eye as they say. These storms usually show themselves late in the afternoon or early evening.
The good thing about them is that they move fast. The bad thing though is they can be very dangerous and destructive.
Stay safe and stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Copper Country means no traffic jams

During my visit to the Keweena Penninsula, I was given a guided tour by Laurium based outdoor writer Jim Juntilla.
He's sort of a transplant having lived all his teenage life in Laurium before heading downstate and college at Wayne State's school of mortuary science. His dad was an undertaker so it may have been assumed young Jim would follow in his dad's footsteps.
That didn't last too long. Young Jim was wooed into the advertising biz where he made a career out of doing public relations work and writing some of those catchy ads. When he retired he wanted to live in one place, back in his hometown.
Along with his name and contact info on his business cards, Juntilla includes "the northern most outdoor writer and photographer in Michigan. To date he's had no arguments or challenges.
Back to traffic or rather, a lack of it. "Wow, we've got a traffic jam. What was that, four cars that turned left at this intersection," Juntilla quipped while driving me around.
Roads are paved, two-lane throughout the peninsula with very little vehicle traffic. But if you're driving say on highway 41, kind of the main drag through the area watch out for both deer and bear.
"We've got more deer around here than people," Juntilla said. He wasn't kidding either. We did see deer but no bear.
However, not long into our tour, he took me to a spot not far off the road to show me an active bear den.
Then we were off to see more streams most of which he called good brook trout spots if you did some bushwhacking to get back in away from the highway.
Maybe, Oakland County with all of it's lakes resembled the Keweenaw years back. Take traffic, freeways, and a building boom, and you are left with two lane roads, plenty of woods and a lower population density.
If that is true, it had to be a long time ago. Checked out my story about the Keweenaw in Thursday's Oakland Press sports section.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fishing, pasties, and large cinnamon rolls

Everything in the western U.P. is large. From the largeness of Lake Superior to the large cinnamon rolls bakeries and restaurant's feature.
In Laurium you can't beat Toni's Pasty Shop for great baked goods, pasties, and wonderful, home style food.
Once you appetite is satisfied, head out to any number of small streams for a day of brook trout fishing.
Don't let looks deceive you. Many of these look like a trickle, but spend a little time bushwhacking and you will most often come up with a nice moving creek, narrow and covered with brush. That's where the brookies are likely to be hiding.
You might take a day off from water activities and hit one of the many museums in the area, or tour a mine shaft. Tour directors provide coats as the temperature rapidly cools when you go underground.
With miles of sandy beaches to choose from, pick a spot, take a picnic and good book and spend the day listening to the wave action, while having the entire beach practically to yourself.
If you must, buy a jar of thimbleberry jam. A small jar averages about $8 and are available in grocery stores, mom and pop stores or roadside stands.
Traffic, or the lack of it is no problem. This is one place where you can truly slow down and smell the roses.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Keweenaw and more

LAURIUM-This small village is right next door to Calumet in the Keweenaw Peninsula, about a nine-hour drive from Oakland County.
Whoever coined the phrase, "so many lakes and not enough time," should have included rivers. On my drive here, I passed or crossed water of all kinds; lakes, ponds, creeks, rivers, and of course, Great Lakes.
I'm always struck by the beauty of the Upper Peninsula and the wildness that the area seems to emit.
Heading north and west on highway 28 then eventually, highway 41, reminded me of bird hunting in this area several years ago.
That's because I saw so many lakes with no one on them. I vowed then to come back and fish as many as I could. Of course, I have never gotten to do it-too many other irons in the fire.
But passing Baraga State Park made me think of that vow. The park is located practically on the water; one of Lake Superior's many bays. It's actually on the opposite side of the road from the lake.
My thought has been to make the park my home base then head out from there to as many of the other small lakes and streams around it.
Whether you fish or not makes no difference. Kayaks, especially sea kayaks outnumber power boats in this reason. This is a great area for paddle sports.
It also works well for hiking, biking, sightseeing, or hanging around the many museums. As for me, I'm off to Lac La Belle ( French for Lake of the Bell's), for some kayak fishing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chasing Musky

This weeks story has to do with Captain Steve Jones and his musky charters on Lake St. Clair. Jones is known and respected far and wide by fellow charter operators and anglers who have booked a charter with him.
If you go fishing with Jones bring sunglasses, sunscreen, jacket, rain gear, something to drink, and if you are prone to getting hungry, a lunch.
Jones has the important stuff; boat, rods, tackle, and the most important bit, the ability to put you on fish.
With the catches he's been experiencing lately it would seem this would be a good time to book him for a trip.
The abundance of musky has to do with several things, one of which is the practice of catch and release.
"We revive the fish and get them back in the water as soon as we can," Jones said. "On this boat, we don't keep any musky," he added.
Catch and release does pay off. We're seeing it right here on Lake St. Clair with every musky trip Jones takes out.
The same could be said with the nice population of small mouth bass. Most are returned to the very water they were caught in. It no doubt is part of the reason Michigan, and Lake St. Clair have become destinations for small mouth and musky fishing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tournament weigh-in's, a thing of the past?

The actual live weigh-ins we are accustomed to seeing at fishing tournaments could be a thing of the past if tournament directors follow the lead of AIM.
Anglers Insight Marketing took the place of the now defunct Professional Walleye Tournament Trail (PWT) last year.
One of the changes in AIM's format is what is rapidly becoming known as CRR for Catch, Record, Release.
At AIM tournaments, anglers are issued a standard numbered ruler and a scorecard. On the water, they don't have to worry about live wells being too warm or bringing dead fish to the weigh-in.
Instead, one they catch and boat a fish, they lay it on the rule, nose against the bump board. The rule is clearly marked so where the tail ends is the length. This number can be seen clearly from a camera shot.
The pro or co takes a digital picture getting the fish and rule in the shot. This picture is relayed to tournament officials for certification. The length is turned into weight from an official chart.
Anglers can fish all day, and continue to measure and record fish. At the end of the day they pick the five or whatever the limit is, they want for their weight that day. Both the co and pro sign the card.
There are no dead fish to deal with, no fish going for a long ride in a hot live well, and best of all, no points knocked off the anglers weight due to dead fish.
When fish are caught, they are released in a matter of seconds right back into the very water they came from.
Anglers seem to like it. Crowds do too because they can see the days catches as they are displayed on wide screens around and on the stage.
Good for AIM.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cooler temps are easy for outdoors activities

We've all been waiting for a break in the heat and humidity and it looks like it's finally here. A good, steady, soft rain during the night for a couple of days would be just what the doctor ordered for those spindly plants in the garden and droopy plantings in hanging baskets.
No matter how hard we try to eliminate them, we can always grow weeds. Seems as though we just get everything cleaned out and weed-free when a little drizzle comes along making new weeds sprout all over again.
These warmer temperatures have reached as far as Copper Harbor in the U.P. Old friend Jim Juntilla who calls himself Michigan's northernmost outdoor writer says you can drop a kayak in one of the inland lakes and have water temperatures are 70-degrees.
But a couple blocks away, Lake Superior has hit about 60-degrees for it's summer time high. He mentioned temperatures so I would know what to bring for a fishing/kayak trip we've been planning.
Closer to home, thanks to all of you that took the time to write, or email about my fishing pal Bill Baker.
Bill passed on a couple of days ago. He was buried with full military honors in the Great Lakes Military Cemetery in Holly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat. We wish we had it during those winter months

When it gets this hot even the fish take it easy. And if you think a dip in that local lake is going to cool off, think some more. Often, depending on the size of the lake, it's like bath water.
I was covering my first Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta several years back. The Delta is a huge body of water with small outlets everywhere you look. That's one place you definitely need a GPS. Leave home without it and you could wind up in the Gulf.
I was on the water fishing with one of the Classic qualifiers the day before the tournament began.
Even the slightest movements brought out the sweat. Because it was so hot, many of us wore long sleeve shirts and hats to cover the ears and neck.
Sunblock practically melted off as soon as it was applied. The temperature-98-was about the same as the humidity.
I would stick my hand in the water every so often, hoping to find it cool. It was as warm or warmer than the air.
The only relief came when the big Mercury 225 was fired up and we ran fast from one spot to the next. The brief relief a fast boat ride provided was most welcome. We both looked forward to the ride back to our hotel in air conditioned comfort.
BASS officials saw to it that every boat was loaded with bottles of water and sports drinks. An ice truck parked in the boat yard provided all the bags of ice you cared to load.
Keeping hydrated was repeated to all of us day in and out. It was a good message on the Delta and it's just as good here in Oakland County during this extreme heat.
Save those big projects for cooler weather. If you need to do some outside work get it done early in the morning or tackle it toward evening.
Stay frosty as they used to say.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Take some time. Enjoy this heat.

No need to say it's hot. You know that as well as the people that forecast the weather. This is the time most of us look forward to in those months with the letter "r" in them. So quit your complaining.
But on the other hand, this isn't a good time to be doing any strenuous work outdoors. And if you do decide to finish a project, take your time, drink lots of water, and take frequent breaks.
Better still, find some shade, sit with a book, and relax. Most of us have probably worked hard enough already this summer.
If you are headed out on the water to do some fishing, cover up. Use sunscreen liberally, a hat that covers the ears, and think about wearing a long sleeve shirt. All of these will help protect you from unwanted sunburn, which can turn out to be serious later on in life.
Best bets for working outdoors or fishing without suffering from the refection off the water the sun gives you, is to begin activities very early in the morning with a deadline for completion around 10a.m.
Or head out during late afternoon or evening. Besides beating the heat of the day, the fishing is usually better either early or late. Good luck, stay cool, and work wisely.
In just a couple of months we'll wish we had more of this weather.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Asian Carp: Another species in the parade of invasives

Recent news proclaimed the finding of an adult Asian Carp just six miles from Lake Michigan. That's getting awfully close.
Time is certainly wasting on this issue. The Obama administration needs to hit the switch that controls the locks in the Chicago Sanitary Canal and close the thing off until other means can be found to stop these fish that will destroy our Great Lakes fishery.
In the meantime, politicians are getting on the band wagon by sponsoring legislation to control the migration and infiltration of these fish.
Just like Washington, it's a little but too late. We need good positive action now, and not while we wait for a congressional hearing on the matter.
This thing has been studied up, down, sideways, and inside out. All it takes is for someone to step forward and put a halt to it.
After the news broke about the captured carp, people were expressing their opinion that they think the carp are already here in some numbers.
While I doubt that, personally, due to the lack of any real evidence, it's a sure bet that once they do arrive, we just might not know it.
They could be here several years, breeding, growing larger, and becoming more voracious. Then all of a sudden-when it's too late-boom, we realize they are definitely here.
That's would be the good part, knowing they have arrived. The bad part? By then it would be too late.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Green Bay and it's fishery

I'm in Green Bay, Wisconsin covering an AIM Pro Walleye tournament. There are 66 boats with a waiting list of co-anglers. Heck, at $250 to fish two days and maybe a third with a different pro each day, it's cheap education.
The thing I've noticed around here-besides a great fishery-is the dedication and support for the football team, the Green Bay Packers.
I'm staying about a mile from Lombardi Ave. Then there is the Packer Hall of Fame and daily tours of the stadium, which I understand is outstanding, for $11.
Businesses are sporting the team colors. One truck went by with Packerland Electrical on the side.
If we had something like this in Detroit, I feel it would make a difference in how we are perceived and our local population would begin to build some pride back up for their hometown team.
We already have the fishery what with Lakes St. Clair and Erie. They are both winners. Now we need the winning team on the field.
At today's weigh-in the weights were huge. Sacks of 40 through 50-plus pounds were common. One more day of fishing for the entire field before the cut goes to the top 33. Stay tuned.