Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial weekend

Memorial Day and the weekend that surrounds it, is like a new beginning for many people. Some see it as the beginning of the camping season. Travel trailers, pop-ups, fifth wheels and other forms of camping will be making their way north on I-75 to get things started.
Others see this weekend as a new beginning for backyard vegetable gardens. If you've been around gardening you no doubt have heard the exclamation to "wait until Memorial Day before planting this or that."
That's because we equate this time of the year with warmer temperatures not only during the day but at night as well. By now the ground has warmed enough to allow seeds to properly germinate instead of rotting.
The boaters will be launching for the first time since winterizing chores were done last fall in preparation for a long, cold winter.
Maybe you'll wet a line for the first time. After all, Memorial Day signals the opening of bass season.
It may be the first backyard barbecue for the family, playing catch or pitching horseshoes. Later, if the mosquitoes don't drive you indoors, the topper could be a small campfire.
Sometime over the weekend, I hope you take a moment to think of all those who have gone before, sacrificing their lives so we can have these picnics, campfires, and bass season.
And don't forget to lower your flag to half staff. It's the right thing to do on Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boat safety

Warm weather brings out all different types of boats. From personnel watercraft (PWC) to sailboats, John boats, canoes, kayaks, and fishing boats of every caliber.
That creates lots of boat traffic. Add water skis, tubes, divers in the water, or still fishermen, and the obstacles and chances for something to happen increase.
Yesterday, fishing the Saginaw River, we noticed several large power boats, the kind built for speed, go thundering by.
Many had more people aboard than the boat was probably rated for. On all of the boats, we saw evidence of alcohol consumption.
At times we thought we were in the middle of one of those TV series about police and party boats.
Girls were scantily dressed, beer in hand, and yelling at every boat they saw. In one boat there were nine guys and one girl.
You wonder how many life jackets are aboard in these situations. One pontoon boat came out of a marina with barely any freeboard. In other words, it was in danger of going under due to the number of people on it.
Power boaters aren't the only ones to blame for serious or often fatal accidents. Recently, in separate incidents, two kayaks were found empty, with the owners pfd in the boat.
Further searches resulted in finding their bodies. Come on people. There are warnings every year, classes taught, and stories written about the importance of safety on the water and wearing a pfd at all times.
There shouldn't be any excuse for not wearing one. Think of how many lives would be saved. A least two here in Michigan that I know of.
Have fun on the water but first, be safe.

Monday, May 24, 2010

AIM tournament and kayak sales

BAY CITY-Talk to anyone who spent time on the water during last week's AIM pro walleye tournament and they'll tell you to a person they have never seen Lake Huron and specifically, Saginaw Bay, in such a cooperative mood.
For the three-day tournament the worst the water got as about one-foot waves. "You could head anywhere at full throttle and have a nice, smooth ride," Muskegon resident and long time professional walleye angler Mark Martin said.
While Martin finished down the list; 23rd, his experience was shared by other veteran Bay anglers.
"This has been truly great," Bay City resident Don Luenberger said. For a person who spends much of the winter fishing the bay's hard water, Luenberger was happy for fair weather. "We caught fish every day both in the river and in the bay," he said.
The overall winner was Jarrad Fluekiger from Alma, Wisconsin with 98.52 pounds. AIM (Anglers Insight Marketing) is the first pro tournament utilizing CPR (catch, photograph, record) instead of a live weigh-in.
Spectators can keep track of standings live through The next event is the Bay Mills Invitational, June 3-5 at Brimley, MI.
A few miles up the road from the AIM tournament, Frank's Outdoors in Linwood was the place to be for test-paddling a variety of kayaks. Chief among them were the sit-on-top fishing variety, with Hobie leading the way in sales.
That probably has to do with the Mirage Drive system that utilizes pedal power. Another key factor for many prospective buyers was the boats stability.
Which kayak is for you? That's an individual thing. It's best to get out and paddle as many different models before making a choice.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bugs and otrher critters

We must be in the pre-mosquito season. My neighbors, who like to sit out and enjoy these warm evenings haven't noticed any mosquitoes so far this year. When they do, out comes a large fan and the fogger.
They claim the fan actually blows bugs away. Just the motion of air seems to keep them on the run, or fly as it were.
There are some things we can do to help cut down on unwanted insects and at the same time doing it in a way that doesn't adversely affect nature.
If you garden and find a snake among your annuals or perennials, leave it alone. It's probably a harmless garter snake.
We used to have one that hid under our tomato plants. When we were weeding or picking veggies and got close to the snake it would crawl over a row or two and continue to wait for a feeding opportunity.
Snakes eat lots of bugs. That's good for the garden and helps keep the biting insect population down.
Bats and birds eat a lot of bugs too. For some reason-perhaps their looks or reputation for being carriers of rabies-people kill bats.
Like snakes, leave them alone. They have a purpose and a place in nature. Like the acrobatic barn swallow that dives and climbs in search of a bug, bats zero in on insects as a source of food.
This time of the year, with nests holding new life, birds are busy feeding those young mouths that never seem to get enough to eat. When they can, they'll get a mouth full too.
It's a great way that nature has of balancing out things. Maybe there is a purpose for those pesky mosquitoes after all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Be safe on the water this summer

With warm weather finally hanging around at least during the day, more of us will be heading to beaches and lakes to enjoy any manner of water sports.
Whether you fish, sail, dive, snorkel, paddle, or just float around on an air mattress, be careful and aware of what you are doing at all times.
If that means wearing a pfd because you or someone in your group can't swim, by all means put it on. As a matter of fact, get in the habit of wearing it anytime you are on the water.
Life jackets or pfd's these days are made to be worn comfortably. They are lightweight, go on and off easily, and most contain pouches for carrying all sorts of things you might find useful for a day on the water.
Non-swimmers should take extreme caution when approaching the water. Pay attention to those roped off areas. They are there for your protection. Go beyond them and you risk not returning.
Better still, remember the buddy system. Be sure to fish, boat or swim with someone else. Hopefully that someone has some swimming experience.
The water is a fun place but it's one place that needs to be taken seriously. There are no second chances. Once things start to go wrong they unravel like your mom's roll of yarn when the cat starts to play with it.
Consider taking swim lessons at a local school pool, lake or park. Be sure they are sanctioned and taught by qualified instructors.
Enjoy the water but be safe about it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fencing Molly

Many of you know that as of one year ago, we have a cute little Cavalier, King Charles Spaniel. Molly is just a little over a year old, full grown, and a healthy 13 pounds.
She's also full of energy and thinks our backyard is her personal domain. That means any birds that land on the lawn, squirrels, chipmunks or rabbits are trespassing in her mind.
If she sees any of the aforementioned, she's at the door wall, scratching to get out. Right now, we have a stake in the ground with a coated cable attached that we hook to Molly's collar.
Once she's hooked up, she's off like a shot chasing whatever has invaded her space. The downside is we have to be extremely careful when opening doors to go outside. If not, she'll run out and just like a Beagle, follow her nose wherever that takes her.
She's gotten loose several times so we are well aware of the excitement that gets generated trying to catch up to her and get her back home.
The problem with running loose is it's not legal. But it's also dangerous. She could be hit be a car. Another consideration is someone could easily grab her and keep on going. You know, the dogknap caper.
We've been going round and round about fencing, at least for the backyard, but haven't come up with a solution. It's style, cost, and other considerations that hold us back.
Back on the front burner is some sort of invisible fencing. Two of our neighbors use it and it seems to work well other than it doesn't keep other unwanted dogs out.
So it looks to be our solution so Miss Molly has a free run of the yard on her daily patrols. Besides, she'll get a lot more exercise having a larger area to roam.
Who knows, she may very well tire herself enough to get some nap time in. Such is the life of a dog.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kayak fishing seminar

If travels take you north, Frank's Great Outdoors will be hosting a "Get Outdoors" program, May 22-23.
The presentations will cover camping, hiking, fishing, as well as clothing and equipment for these sports. Plans are to set up a campground on store property for people to see first-hand how equipment looks and works out of the box.
I've been invited to represent Hobie and talk about kayak fishing. Frank's has a pond that allows kayaks and other small watercraft to be test paddled.
My plans include bringing the equipment I typically take on a kayak trip, along with baits, tackle storage, first aid, PFD's, radio, and paddle.
I'll also include some of the things I have made to help facilitate fishing while keeping it safe as well as intact. In other words, tied to the boat in the event of a capsize.
If you go to the AIM walleye tournament out of Bay City, Frank's is a nice drive north. Treat yourself and stop at the Turkey Roost for a great hot turkey sandwich and a strawberry shortcake made the way mom used to do it.
Hope to see you at the AIM tournament or up the road at Frank's.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ernie Harwell and fishing

For my old fishing pal, Bill Baker, fishing and Ernie Harwell went together like a rod and reel. Many summer afternoons we would head for Port Huron and the area known to locals as South Park, to fish from shore with set lines for walleye.
Once we had all the gear arranged and a couple of chairs set up, depending on how many people were fishing, we would cast out as far upstream and across as we could, letting the current take our bait down toward the bottom.
Attaching a small bell to the end of the rod, we found an empty rod holder, set the rods down, grabbed a soda and tuned in to Ernie and Paul Carey calling a Tiger game.
There was something homey, summer-like, friendly, and warm listening to these two while the St. Clair River drifted silently by.
Occasionally we would look around and see one of the huge freighters either up or down bound, barely making any noise as they went about their business.
Ernie Harwell helped pass the time while waiting for the bell to ring indicating a bite. He was always right there in the background, sort of a given. You just knew, probably took it for granted that he would be talking about the person from Garden City that just caught a foul ball, or "he stood there like the house beside the road."
Fishing won't change much along the river. But the music of Ernie's voice won't be heard any longer. We probably won't even taken a radio along the next time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

AIM walleye tournament, benefits local economy

BAY CITY-When walleye anglers start arriving in town, the local economy benefits. Actual tournament dates are May 20-22 with blast off and weigh-in's at Veteran's Memorial Park.
It's nice this event is being held so close to the Metro area. It's a short drive there to see many of the people that are featured on TV shows and in magazine stories talking about events just like this one.
You can easily be a part of it by heading to Bay City's Veterans Park where the annual Bayfest activities take place. Whether it be tall ship sailing or viewing, talking fishing tactics, or grabbing a bite on the run, make Bay City a stop for at least a day and experience the flavor of a fishing tournament.
While you are there, go into town proper and buy a bucket of fresh, homemade peanut butter from St. Laurent Brother's Nut House, 1101 N. Water St.
Check out the many choices for dining and antique shops to look for that special item.
For more information visit or Look for Thursday's column with comments from the pros about what to expect.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

No-Mo kayak fishing challenge, rough

WYANDOTTE-Rough didn't describe the conditions as 27 kayakers launched in and around Wyandotte for the first No-Mo tournament.
In places where water should have been several feet deep it was only inches due to the high winds that blew a lot of water out into Lake Erie proper. The good news was we all returned from the water very wet, cold and tired, most with no fish to show for the effort.
Anglers did catch fish, enough to received prizes. Chuck Bridges in 3rd place won a kayak rigging package, second place went to Jerry Glotfelty-$100 Hook one gift certificate-, and first place was David Lesar. He won an evergreen colored Wilderness Tarpon 120 donated by Wilderness and RKC.
Participants returned to RKC for the 3p.m. awards, to share stories, and have a bite of lunch.
Plans are already underway for the next No-Mo.
For more details read my column on May 19.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No-Mo Kayak fishing challenge

The countdown is getting close. Saturday is the day we fish the very first No-Mo (No motor) Kayak Fishing Challenge. No live bait is allowed and it's CPR-catch, photograph, release.
Nice prizes go along with this first attempt at staging this sort of tournament. Whether or not this is the very first or not is beside the point. It is the first No-Mo!
Come what may, I'll have a report in the next couple of weeks of the winners and how things went including any wrinkles that are bound to happen.
Next week's column is shaping up to take in the return of the walleye pros to Bay City. It's the second AIM tournament and promises to be as big as last years. Remember Tommy Skarlis walked away with the win weighing in 100 pounds. That is a credit to the bay fishery.
Right on the heels of the AIM tournament Mark's Martin and Brumbaugh will host an open water school on Saginaw River and the Bay. For details go to and click on open water schools.
At this time there is room for a couple more students.
Until next week, remember to be successful as an angler keep a line in the water!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mom and Pop Tackle shop

This week it's final prep for the first No-Mo Kayak fishing tournament. It will be held this Saturday May 8 with all festivities being centered at Riverside Kayak Connection (RKC) in Wyandotte.
Going along with tournament fishing comes the tools to hopefully make one competitive. There is no better place to use as a sounding board than a local tackle shop. Unfortunately, we have seen a demise in these operations over the past several years.
But KD Outdoors in Waterford continues to stand the test of time. Owner Ken Neeley is visible in the shop when not fishing one tournament trail or another.
It's that kind of one-on-one service and advice you can depend on from such a store. Neeley fishes and hunts, in other words he he walks the talk.
I went in to get some line spooled on a a couple of reels recently and to ask him to basically explain line differences and when to use which type.
Instead of a few minutes I wound up spending a couple of hours going from line to knots to rods, to lures, -well, you get the idea-and in between, answering customers questions.
KD Outdoors is a great place to get the word on all of these things along with where to go to try them out, straight from the horses mouth.
Read more in this Thursday's column about KD Outdoors and what to expect when you walk in.