Saturday, August 1, 2015

Enjoy Those Care-Free Angling Days, 'Cause They Likely Won't Last

A fisherman in his prime--generally speaking--takes each fishing trip for granted. When you hit 60, 65, or 70-plus, though, you don't take much of anything for granted, including fishing trips. And I know at least four of us senior anglers who share that philosophical boat.

Don't get me wrong--we all still have the same desire as we did when we were younger. It just boils down to how strongly we want to fulfill that desire, knowing full well all the consequences we're undoubtedly going to suffer in that pursuit. One of us put it in proper perspective the other day when he said, "It's just a matter of how big a glutton you are for punishment."

Consider, for example, I never dare leave home for a day on the water without my pill arsenal at the ready to deal with any of the multiple maladies I know from experience may strike without warning. This list includes but is not limited to everything from heartburn, to gas, to one of my cluster headaches. And, as if that isn't enough, I also often have to deal with my slightly enlarged prostate when I'm on the water all day. Unfortunately, all I can do with the latter is "grin and bear it."

These things all came into focus the other day as I engaged in a conversation with my buddy, Skip. We were discussing how different age-related events frequently impact our 8-hour tournament days when Skip suddenly asked me if I ever get leg cramps, or "charley horses," as we more commonly know them, the night following a tournament.

"Boy howdy!" came my response. I proceeded to detail a number of occasions in which I nearly have killed myself while trying to get out of bed to attend to a cramp. More times than not, one or more of my toes have snagged the sheet, or I've hit the floor so fast I momentarily lost my balance. Either way, I've found myself nearly taking a nose-dive into an immovable object.

In response, Skip told me about an idea he had tried the night before our July 25th contest to prevent any leg cramps in the first place. "I ate a couple of bananas and drank a tall glass of water before going to bed," he said. "And you know what? I didn't have a single cramp the night afterward." Skip went on to note that he isn't prepared to endorse this idea yet as a surefire, 100-percent-effective preventive measure after just one trial, but he added that it sure was nice to sleep all night long for a change without any cramps.

In researching this issue online, I found others who subscribe to the same or similar ideas involving water (six to eight glasses recommended daily), bananas, and sports drinks (diluted with a little water recommended for better absorption by the body) as a means to prevent cramps.

Another preventive measure espoused by some is to sleep with a bar of soap between your sheets or under your bottom one. Either way appears to work consistently and well for some but not at all for others. There seldom are cases of partial success. After a few months, however, users have to replace the soap or rejuvenate the old bar by scoring and shaving it to produce fresh surfaces. In a few cases, users report that direct physical contact with the soap is desired, but few claim it is essential.

Others advocate use of such things as magnesium or potassium, pickle juice, V-8 juice, turmeric, yellow mustard, or apple-cider vinegar as a preventive measure. Salt also may work, but if you're on a low-salt diet, pickle juice likely is out for you.

Once a cramp hits, here are some things you can do to help alleviate the pain:

     * Walk on or jiggle the affected leg and then elevate it.

     * Take a hot shower or warm bath, use a heating pad (for 20 minutes at a time), or apply an ice massage to the cramped muscle. I personally always try to grab an ice pack from the freezer, or failing that, get to one of our vinyl-covered bathroom floors. The coolness of these floors always helps a little, but the ice packs work best. It's recommended, however, not to use ice (or ice packs) for more than 10 minutes or until the affected area turns bright red, which signals that blood cells have returned to heat the cramped muscle. Make sure to massage the muscle with your hands after applying heat or ice.

     * For calf cramps, stand on tip-toes, or do a wall stretch. The latter is accomplished by standing about 3 feet away from the wall, with your knees straight and your heels on the floor. Lean into the wall, supporting yourself with your hands. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat three times. Another possible solution is to hold your calf with one hand while pulling your foot toward you with the other hand. The same instructions apply for a cramp in your foot. Just place your hand in the arch of your foot, instead of on your calf. In both cases, hold the stretch until you feel the cramp release.

In some cases, it may become necessary to see a doctor. His decision to treat someone with leg cramps depends on the severity and degree of impairment. If the pain is mild and self-limiting, topical and/or oral non-prescription analgesics may be appropriate. For more severe pain, or if the pain is referred, a doctor may prescribe quinine sulfate.

I've heard that some folks have tried drinking enough tonic water to get a doctor-prescribed dose of quinine. However, the typical doctor-prescribed dosage of quinine to prevent leg cramps is between 200 and 300 milligrams (mg). Considering that a liter of tonic contains about 83 mg, that means one 8-ounce glass has about 20 mg. Thus, you would have to drink about 10 glasses to get the doctor-prescribed dosage--not practical in most cases.

The bottom line here, folks, is just like I said in the headline to this post: Enjoy those care-free angling days, 'cause they likely won't last. Father Time catches up with all of us--some sooner than others.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It Wasn't a Bad Omen After All

When I went to West Neck yesterday to dump a little gas in my boat, there wasn't a single bank fisherman, no vehicles in the parking lot, and no one minding the store. I immediately figured that didn't bode well for my planned fishing trip today. My thought was that the bass perhaps had shut down completely, and everybody was just waiting for better days to return, rather than waste their time and gas just sitting out there baking their brains in the blazing sun.

When I launched at 7 o'clock this morning, nothing had changed from what I found yesterday, and I seriously was wondering if my original thought yesterday might be coming true. Nevertheless, I rigged my boat, dropped it in the water, and headed to the mouth of West Neck, with plans to work my way back toward the marina.

I built my plans for today around some things I had heard people talking about following this past Saturday's tournament, as well as some comments I had read online. Let's just say my plan was to start with a topwater bait and stay with it until the fish let me know they didn't want it anymore.

That plan paid off, as evidenced by this 1-10 that was one of five bass which I put in the boat today with my topwater bait. I also had a 1-1, a 1-4, and two dinks on the same bait. All the fish were caught between 7 and 11 o'clock, and that was it for the day, except for a nasty ol' grindle that snapped up my spinnerbait this afternoon while I was slow-rolling it.

Unlike my tourney partner, Rob, though, I got my spinnerbait back in decent shape, and I didn't even have to use the Boca grips. When he rolled up alongside the boat, I noticed he barely was hooked, so I kept tension on the line, and as he made his first leap, the lure came flying back over my shoulder.

Besides the topwater bait and the spinnerbait, I also fished a crankbait, Rapala Subwalk, and a soft plastic today, all to no avail. Couldn't buy a strike with any of them.

Likely won't get back on the water again this week, 'cause I have some things to do. Will shoot for a day next week, though, ahead of our next tourney on Saturday, Aug. 8th.

By the way, reckon I should explain that I wasn't the "lone ranger" after all today. Saw my buddies Joe and Tom pass me and turn south this morning. Also ran across a bream fisherman and a pleasure boat full of passengers before all was said and done.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Day That Would Have Made Ol' Dewey Proud

Nice weather prompted the best turnout of the current season, as 30 anglers in 17 boats showed up to vie for top honors in today's tournament.

Standing tallest at day's end was the team of (from left) Rob Peppers and Don Carter, who weighed a five-fish limit totaling 16.82 lbs. Rob also garnered the day's lunker award with the 5.02-lb. bass you see here in his right hand.

Finishing in 2nd place was Tom Acree and his partner, Joe McDevitt (not pictured), who, despite some boat problems, weighed five bass with a total weight of 12.23 lbs. Their big fish weighed 4.90 lbs.

Claiming 3rd-place honors was the father-son team of Mark (not pictured) and Grayson Kinzel, who brought five bass to the scales. Their total weight was 9.86 lbs., anchored by a 2.30-lb. fish. It's evident Grayson here takes his fishing seriously because, as reported to me by another angler, he took control of his dad's bass boat with the trolling motor while the senior Kinzel went to retrieve the tow rig for recovering the boat. The eyewitness told me young Grayson handled the boat flawlessly. Well done! young man. Your dad must be awfully proud of you--for good reason.

In 4th place at day's end was Jim Wilder, with a five-fish limit totaling 9.14 lbs. after a 0.50 deduction for two dead fish. He didn't weigh a big fish.

Fifth-place money went to the team of Wayne Hayes and Jared Allbritten (not pictured), who wrapped up the day with five fish that tipped the scales at 8.29 lbs. Their big fish was a 2.29-lb. bass.

Rounding out the day's list of contestants who took home a money envelope was the team of Luke Cooper and Justin Gainey (not pictured). They won the mystery-weight drawing. Their total weight was 3.88 lbs., which was closest to the 3.95-lb. tab that was drawn.

Here is how all the other competitors finished the day:

     * Al Napier, five fish, 7.89 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Ronnie and Chandler McLaughlin, five fish, 7.37 lbs. total weight, 2.75-lb. big fish.
     * The team of Randy Conkle and Bob Glass, five fish, 6.29 lbs. total weight after a 0.25 deduction for one dead fish, no big fish.
     * The team of Gary Coderre and Lenny Hall, four fish, 6.03 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Paul Celentano and Sid Ryan, five fish, 5.56 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Chris Fretard and Mike Miller, three fish, 5.42 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The husband-wife team of Nathan and Marjorie Gottsch, three fish, 3.63 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Rob Chatham and Ken Testorff, three fish, 2.58 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * Jim Bauer, one fish, 1.72 lbs. total weight, no big fish.

The following participants didn't weigh any fish: the team of Duane and Donny Kessel, and Skip Schaible.

Overall, the anglers today weighed a total of 62 bass for a total weight of 107.21 lbs. The average weight was 1.72 lbs.

In addition, three more competitors became Classic-qualified as a result of today's participation. We now have a total of 21 anglers eligible to fish our two-day season-ending event in October.

Congrats to all of today's winners, and thanks to all those who came out today.

For planning purposes, our next tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8th. Hours will be safe light (probably about 5:45 or 5:50 a.m.) to weigh-in at 2 p.m.

Rob and I fished a new game plan for us today. We both caught some largemouth but all on the small side. We also found some decent-sized fish but of the wrong species. Rob tied into a big grindle this afternoon that destroyed one of his homemade spinnerbaits, and I hooked a couple of stripers today--one on a spinnerbait and the other on a crankbait.

In all honesty, I can't say I was surprised at our lackluster day, given the dismal reports I've been getting from different ones for most of about two weeks now. There's no way of knowing if or when it'll get any better.

One can hope, though, that a change for the better isn't too far into the future. I can't remember the last time I found things as tough as they are at the moment. What I wouldn't give to be able to sit down and pick ol' Dewey's brain about this current dilemma.

Monday, July 20, 2015

'Twas Everything I Had Heard It to Be

Different ones have been encouraging me to visit the all-new Oceans East Bait and Tackle store ever since it first reopened. I finally got there yesterday and truthfully can say I wasn't disappointed by what I found. My friends indeed had represented the store accurately to me.

It's a bit mind-blowing to see everything this new store has to offer when you realize the establishment began in 1982 as a tackle shop no bigger than a two-car garage. Since then, it has become a popular attraction for fishermen, hunters and sportsmen alike, boasting more than 14,000 square feet of floor space.

The latest growth to Oceans East came in the summer of 2014, when it added a hunting division to the inshore and offshore, freshwater and saltwater fishing merchandise and apparel. This hunting division includes multiple lines of bows, crossbows and muzzleloaders.

Coupled with a knowledgeable staff always on hand to answer your questions, Oceans East is equipped with everything needed to make your next fishing or hunting trip successful.

And for all you fly rodders, I urge you to take a look at Charlie's blog. I was up there earlier today and noticed he has posted an item about a new store that has opened at Hilltop to fill all your long-pole needs. Here's the link to Charlie's blog:

Friday, July 17, 2015

North Landing Continues To Be Stingy

That appears to be the consensus of the majority of anglers I'm hearing from, and I'm in total agreement after spending today on the water. Having worked my way through a series of crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics, all I had to show for my efforts was one 12-inch bass and a big grindle that I was lucky enough to give a quick release to without ever having to touch him.

There were a few bass as well that worked their way into early releases, and it wasn't just one bait they were hitting. The lone fish I managed to put in the boat came on a Rapala Scatter Rap. This lure has been my "bail out" bait more than once when I've been staring at a skunk, as I was until 1 o'clock today.

Jim Bauer also was on the water and told me he put three largemouth in the boat, but his best fish of the day was this 2.2-lb., 20-inch striper. He caught it at the West Neck Bridge while fishing for crappie with an 8-wt. fly rod and 8-lb. leader. Said Jim, "It gave me quite a ride for a bit."

He wasn't the only angler with a fly rod in his hand today. While working a stretch of shoreline in the oxbow down at Pungo Ferry, I ran across Ray Scott, who just had come out of Albright's.

I asked what kind of day he was having, and Ray responded that he had "caught a bunch of bream on his fly rod." I watched him continue his "bream-catching ways" there in the oxbow. Every time I glanced over my shoulder in his direction for the next 20 minutes or so, he was busy taking another fish off the hook. I don't own a fly rod, nor do I have a clue how to use one, or I very well might have grabbed it today.

I can only hope the bass fishing picks up a little bit before our next tourney scheduled for July 25th.


I received an email today (7/21/2015) from my friend, Doc, who definitely seconds the suggestion that North Landing is being extremely stingy right now. He said today marks his third consecutive trip without a single fish. The only sign he had today that any fish even still are alive was three bumps on soft plastic.