Saturday, January 19, 2019

In Case Anyone Is Wondering

If past experience is any kind of teacher, I'm guessing that a few readers, especially the regular ones,  of this blog may be wondering why I've not posted anything new for a spell. To save you the bother of sending me an email, as some have done during other dry spells, I decided to explain myself.

The problem this time started this past Monday. It had all the familiar earmarks of a run-of-the-mill cold--sneezing, a little hacking, feeling a tad feverish at times, and some minor aches and pains. Rather than let it get a foothold on me, I immediately launched an attack. My go-to response always is Coricidin HBP, which I've used for years--basically, dating back to when I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure. It normally does the trick, and this time was no exception.

After three days of treatment, I was turning the corner, but then came a surprise. I got hit with a case of acute prostatitis, brought on, as some of you already may have guessed, by the Coricidin HBP I had been taking. Yes, the precautions on the container spell it out that people with an enlarged prostate might want to think twice before starting this medication. However, I've never let that warning stop me in the past, because the family doctor always tells me at physical time each year that mine is only slightly enlarged.

For some reason, however, this time around proved to be a wake-up call. My slightly enlarged prostate ballooned far enough to deliver a double-whammy. I have the usual pain all victims of prostatitis incur when passing fluids, and as a bonus, I get to deal with a feeling like I need to take a dump all the time. Don't you know I'm praying for at least some of that swelling to disappear soon. It goes without saying that this is one "bonus package" I easily could do without.

And, as if this situation isn't bad enough, I'm still waiting for what amounts to the usual finale to any cold to hit--you know what I mean, blowing my nose nonstop and coughing up phlegm for days on end. Neither of those two things have reared their ugly heads yet, so I'm left to wonder if whatever invaded my body in the first place has just taken up permanent residence, or maybe it's just waiting for me to get past this double-whammy and then sock me with a vengeance.

Who knows how this will end? All I can tell you is that I certainly hope it doesn't take much longer. And P.S.--Here's hoping none of you find yourself in the same predicament. Instead, go catch a big fish and send me the details, so I'll have something new to write about.

Oh, and by the way, I'm on a thousand-milligrams-a-day dosage of an antibiotic to nudge this double-whammy out of town.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Winter Boating Calls for Extra Precautions

The colder air and water temperatures of winter make it crucial to be prepared for anything if you head out on the water.

Here are seven tips from the U.S. Coast Guard designed to keep you safe:

File a float plan. This can be as easy as telling a loved one where you are headed and when you plan to return. Leaving this critical information with someone on shore can help rescuers narrow down where to look if you don't return as scheduled.

Always wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket that fits properly. Just as important as wearing one yourself, always make sure the people with you are wearing one, too. With the many different types available these days, it's easy to find one that fits your needs and lifestyle and keeps you safe.

Have some form of communication on you at all times. A marine-brand VHF radio and handheld GPS easily allow you to call for help and give rescuers your position if necessary. Cellphones, on the other hand, don't always have reception in the areas you may be going. The Coast Guard always monitors VHF Channel 16 for distress. If you're staying close to shore on a kayak or paddleboard, the next best thing to have is a cellphone. Keep it and your other valuables in a ziplock bag to keep them safe until/if you need them.

Dress for the water, not the air. Even though the outside temperature may be 60 or 70 degrees, the water temperature could be near freezing. It's always crucial to check the water temperature and know the proper protective equipment that will keep you warm in the worst-case scenario.

Know the 1-10-1 principle. Knowing this basic cold-water immersion principle can greatly increase your chances of survival if something goes wrong. 1 - You have one minute after being submerged in water to get your breathing under control and realize what has happened. If breathing isn't controlled immediately, the possibility of drowning drastically increases. This is often referred to as the body's response to "cold water shock." 10 - After gaining your awareness, there are 10 minutes of meaningful movement to help someone self-recover. After 10 minutes, it's likely the cold water temperature will cause a loss of dexterity in fingers and arms, lessening the ability to recover yourself. 1 - There is approximately one hour until hypothermia will set in and someone could become unconscious.

Maintain situational awareness at all times. Whether it be knowing what is happening in and around the boat, keeping an eye on changing weather, or even knowing where the boat is, good situational awareness can help a bad situation from getting worse.

Always be responsible, and never boat under the influence. Boating under the influence decreases overall situational awareness and lessens your ability to recognize dangerous situations before they occur. There always should be a designated boater when heading out on the water. The safety of each person aboard depends on it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Next Time You're Having a Bad Day...

Just click on this link:

and you'll be taken to a story written by Bassmaster's Don Wirth.
I give you my solemn word that this "gem" will pick your chin up off the sidewalk and have you grinning from ear to ear--if not busting a gut laughing--faster than you can throw a whip knot in braid on a windy day. Incidentally, Jimmy, thanks for this link--it's a winner, for sure.

When the Tried and True Doesn't Work, Try Something New

That's the concept I used to turn what otherwise would have been a one-fish day into a six-fish day last Sunday, and it all happened in a matter of about an hour and a half.

Starting at 9 a.m., I had fished for three and a half hours, with only one fish to show for my efforts. I was fishing the upper reaches of West Neck Creek with my favorite jerkbait. The day had showed some early promise--I had missed a couple of strikes in my first dozen or so casts. I soon followed up with a dink, but things then had lapsed into boredom, and I talked to a couple of friends who were having the same luck.

Having fished to the S-curve and a ways back down the other side with absolutely nothing to break the monotony, I decided to pick up and run to the other end of the creek. My plan was to target two areas that had lots of wood cover. And instead of staying with the jerkbait, I put it away and picked up a rod with one of my favorite shallow crankbaits attached.

Somewhere around my third cast at the far point of the first selected stretch, I was ever so slowly bouncing the crankbait amongst the wood when I felt a fish and boated my first keeper of the day. Moments later, I hit another keeper and decided to stay with the same crankbait for the rest of the day. After an hour and a half, I had boated a total of five fish, including three keepers (the biggest of which weighed 2-11) and two more dinks.

Everything I've ever read has noted that a wise angler concentrates his/her winter-fishing efforts in northern areas, which warm faster during the day this time of year. That's why you usually find me fishing above the West Neck Bridge once cooler weather locks in. And more often than not, I will live and die in that area this time of year.

This past Sunday, however, I decided to go looking for more fish, and I'm glad I did. The generally accepted thinking is that wood cover creates enough warmth to draw fish in, and given my recent experience, I would have to agree.

As I see it, there are a couple of distinct advantages to fishing this time of year. For openers, you usually don't see that many other people on the water. And secondly, the best fish-catching times typically are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That's not to say a couple won't bite at daybreak and dusk; they just likely will be few and far between. So take the opportunity to sleep in and enjoy a more comfortable fishing experience with the warming day.

For the Week Ending Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019

Monday, Jan. 7 (from Ron)...Fished upper North Landing from 4 to 5 p.m. Had a few swirls and followers, but they weren't aggressive. Managed to entice two to hit the XTS Minnow. They weighed 1-3 and 1-7 (both close to 14 inches).

A Sign It's Been Too Long Since You Last Went Fishin'

Our phone conversation had gone something like this:

"Hey, Wayne, I couldn't get the trim 'n' tilt switch on the bow to work at all Sunday."

"When can we meet at the marina so I can have a look?" came the response from Wayne. "You busy this evening?"

"Nope," I said.

With that, we decided to meet at West Neck last evening, and just as Wayne had removed the "suspect" switch and was holding it in his hand, he said, "You know, the main power switch has to be 'on' for this thing to work."

The dumbfounded look on my face prompted Wayne to add, "Reckon that means we probably can chalk this up to 'operator error.'" And with a quick flip of the power switch, he had proven his point.

Forgetting something so elementary seems nearly impossible, but it's typical of what can happen when it's been two months since the last time you dropped your boat in the water. Reckon it could have been worse, though--I could have forgotten to install the drain plug before I launched last Sunday.

Fortunately, I was able to save a little face by asking Wayne if he would mind mounting a new bow strap for me. That way, the trip out there wouldn't be a complete waste of his time. FYI: The hook on the old strap had gone belly up some time back, and he had replaced it with a hook that he happened to have available at the time. Problem was, however, that it wasn't strong enough to work right very long, and I had had to replace it three times already. What I didn't realize, however, as I asked him about changing the strap, is that I was handing him yet another problem.

He quickly removed the reel assembly, only to find that the bolt preventing the strap from coming all the way off was so tight he couldn't bust it loose. This was the point where I likely would have just tossed in the towel, but not Wayne. As he thought about the situation, he took a look at the new strap I had purchased at Walmart and discovered it was far inferior to the one currently on the boat. He then handed it to me and asked that I check to see if the hook worked OK on the boat.

The new hook worked fine, so he asked if I would like to have him simply put the new heavy-duty hook on the old strap. I agreed, so he began making the swap.

Moments later, he had reassembled everything, tested it, put away his tools, and was on the way home.

As I, too, squared away things in my storage shed and readied for the trip home, I had a chance to think about all those little preparations I had been taking for granted only two months ago. Never have liked wasting a man's time, even when I'm paying him for it. Hopefully, it won't be another two months before I get on the water again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

For the Week Ending Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019

Tuesday, Jan. 1 (from Ron)...Started the year out without a skunk! Fished upper North Landing from 3:30 to 5:20 p.m. and found a small bass and a small crappie. Productive lures were the XTS Minnow and Berkley Pitbull crankbait.

Wednesday, Jan 2 (from Ron)...Went to Lovitt's Creek at 3:30 and fished till 5 p.m. The bite was on. Caught eight bass and lost a big chain pickerel as I tried to lip-grip him. XTS Minnow was the ticket, but tried Booyah Prank, and a few hit that as well, especially one tiny aggressive dink. One bass I caught may have had a bit too much pie over the holidays--'twas a fat little fella, or he may have just been misshapen. Also caught my second ever tagged bass: a 1-8. Biggest weighed 1-13, and all the rest were around 12 or 13 inches.

Wednesday, Jan. 2 (from Ken)...This would have been my first day on the water in 2019 if everything had cooperated with me. As it turned out, though, the piece-of-crap trim & tilt unit on my rig decided to pick today to call it quits. I'm just glad it happened before I could launch. Called my buddy, Wayne, when I got home, and by about 4:30, he had removed the old unit, loaded it in his truck, and took my money, with a promise to have a replacement in a few days. Have already told him I'm not going to nurse any more boat problems this year. Plan to fix everything that's wrong and then plan to get back to fishing like an old retired guy. Checked my records a couple days ago and learned that I only fished 40 days in all of 2018. That's anywhere from 15 to 25 fewer days than I used to fish when I was working full-time. UPDATE: As of  5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, Wayne had replaced my trim & tilt, tested it, and everything worked perfectly.

Saturday, Jan. 5 (from Ron)...Gusty winds today forced me to fish Okum Creek for some shelter. Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., caught three chain pickerel and two dink bass. The chain picks were all the way in the back. Not great, but sure beats a skunk. Pickerel were hitting a micro spinner bait. The bass liked the XTS Minnow.

Sunday, Jan. 6 (from Ken)...At last, I got a day on the water, and it turned out a lot better than I expected. As usual, the weather gurus got the predicted winds all wrong, but I was determined not to let that get under my skin. Caught a total of six bass: one on a jerkbait and five on a shallow crankbait. My best three weighed 1-1, 1-9, and 2-11. The other three were 6-to-8-inch dinks. Missed a couple more strikes this morning on the jerkbait. The water temp reached 51 degrees. Saw about eight boats on the water today. Only talked to one angler, though: Dave Anderson. He told me had about 8 keepers for the day, plus a number of dinks, all of which he caught on a jerkbait, in the upper stretches of West Neck.

Sunday, Jan. 6 (from Ron)...Launched about 2:30 at Lovitt's and fished until 5 p.m. The bite picked up about 4 p.m. A micro spinnerbait caught nine dinks, a 2-0, a nice chain pickerel, and the first of the season yellow perch. Wish I could have found a few more yellow perch for tacos. Will start targeting them.

Monday, December 31, 2018

These Scissors May Prove To Be OK

Was wandering aimlessly through the fishing-tackle aisles of a local Walmart store yesterday while my wife shopped when I happened upon a pair of scissors like the ones in the accompanying photo.

I really haven't been looking for a pair because, after trying countless other pairs, I had come to the conclusion that no one has yet figured out how to make a good pair. That point is readily apparent with just one look around our home. Failed models are strewn throughout.

This particular pair of Cuda 5.5-inch braid shears, however, grabbed my attention. The packaging made note of the fact these titanium-bonded, 3X-harder-than-steel, dual-serrated blades stay sharper longer. And the grips have a non-slip scale pattern.

The recommended care for this tool is to rinse it after each use with fresh water and dry, using a clean towel. Sparingly apply a lightweight oil to the hinges or joints on a regular basis.

Best of all, these Cuda shears come with a lifetime warranty, which reads as follows: "At Cuda, we believe our legendary products should be supported by an equally legendary promise. If your Cuda product fails to perform its intended use, due to defects in materials or workmanship, we will replace it, regardless of age. Normal wear, sharpening, industrial use or abuse, misuse or neglect is not covered. Send the product in its original box for proof of purchase, along with explanation of defect. You may have other rights, which may vary from state to state."

Just in case these braid shears prove to be worth the $6 I paid for them, I picked up a spare pair today.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Finally--A Story About Someone Who Kept Her New Year's Resolution

The Internet is filled with tales of people who failed miserably in keeping their New Year's resolutions, along with a generous number of suggestions about the types of resolutions you should make in the first place, as well as a vast amount of guidance on how best you should go about keeping them. I was just about ready to give up on finding even one account of someone who had managed to make good on their resolution when, low and behold, I found a winner.

For some unknown reason, the author of this particular account chose to withhold her name from the story. However, I can tell you that it appears to have first been published nearly 40 years ago--in January 1979, to be exact. Here's that first-person account, in its entirety, with only minor editing:

"The idea came to me one afternoon in late December. I had just completed a six-week challenge suggested by a magazine article on doing good deeds daily. Some of the author's activities had included writing letters, calling people he had intended to telephone for a long time, taking someone a pie, a plant, or a small remembrance, praying for others, and sharing the joy of living. It was such a joyful experience that he challenged his readers to emulate his experience.

"At the end of my six weeks, I was absolutely ecstatic about all the good things that had happened. Then it hit me--why not make it a year-long adventure and commit myself to doing something good for someone every day? It intrigued me to think that, at the end of the year, I could have touched the lives of 365 people. And I could keep track of my successes or failures in my personal journal.

"As the year began, I could hardly wait for each new day. It seemed so easy to think of good things to do. For example, I could catch up on my correspondence and lend a helping hand to neighbors with small children.

"I was doing well through February, until one night, after a particularly exhausting day, I suddenly realized that I had not done one good deed. I couldn't bring myself to record a failure, so I crawled out of bed and wrote a letter to a long-forgotten friend.

"Not all of my good deeds were preplanned; some just happened. I recorded in my journal the following example:

"We had an early dinner and looked forward to an evening together with not one meeting scheduled. We decided to relax and watch a favorite television show. I had just popped some corn when the doorbell rang. 'Now who can that be?' I groaned. I opened the door to see three young girls grinning at me.

"My heart sank as they scattered their bodies in the entrance way, but I hid my feelings as they began to talk. After two hours of just listening, I was really a part of their lives. At that exact moment, they had needed someone to listen to them. Although I had missed my television show, I thanked my Father in Heaven for the opportunity He had sent that night to touch the lives of three young girls.

"I was able to touch other lives, too, through my church callings. I had never before realized how tuned out I had been to the needs of those around me. I began to see those who were lonely, those who needed an arm around their shoulder, and those who needed something to spark an otherwise dull day.

"April and May found me making little spring treats to take to friends. My activities were developing a new dimension: Not only was I touching those around me, but now I was reaching out to people I never knew before. I still felt the excitement of my resolution, but added to it now was a deeper spiritual feeling that made me feel much closer to my Father in Heaven.

"I came closer to my children, too, with another unplanned good deed. School had let out for the summer. My 7-year-old son reminded me, 'Hey, Mom, you promised to take us all hiking.'

"'Oh dear,' I muttered, 'why do I make such outlandish promises in weak moments?' But I hadn't done my good deed, and here was a chance.

"We all climbed into the car and headed for the hills. I gave them (the kids) some basic instructions for hiking in that area, and then we set forth. The sun was shining, the lizards were running, and I was hoping that we wouldn't be joined by a rattlesnake. My 5-year-old stumbled over rocks and fell into crevices and kept thanking me for taking him hiking. My 6-year-old daughter grabbed my hand and said, 'This sure is fun just being in the dirt with you.' I felt so full that I could only respond by squeezing her hand.

"When we returned home, my children's wide smiles thanked me again for the time I had taken to be with them. 'That was a lot of fun,' I thought, 'and I was able to touch four lives very special to me.'

"As the summer days lengthened, I wanted my family to experience some of the joy I was finding in my 'journey of love.' We set aside Thursday for making treats or doing something nice for others. The children did the baking and delivering, with me at their side, and they delighted in the joy that they brought others.

"By September and October, my resolution had become a daily habit. Oh, I was still human. Sometimes my heart was not fully in tune when I started out to visit someone ill or down, but I always came away with a strengthened testimony of doing good.

"For example, on the first day of school, my youngest child and I stood on the doorstep, waving goodbye to my other children as they left for classes. I had intended to do some long-delayed house cleaning, but I also had a strong urge to visit a new acquaintance, a bedridden 12-year-old girl. When we arrived at her home and walked into her bedroom, I noticed big, black circles around her eyes and sadness in her face. 'Hi,' I said. 'Thought we'd come and see our favorite person.'

"Her face lit up a little. 'Now tell me, what's the best thing that's happened to you since we were last here?' I asked. She looked at me with her tired eyes, smiled faintly, and said, 'The only good thing is having you come again.'

"Tears filled my eyes, and I hugged her tightly, so that she wouldn't see the tears. We talked a while, then as my little son and I left her home, I took hold of his hand. 'Oh, Danny--' but that was all I could say as the tears streamed down my cheeks. Once again, I was coming away from a visit with much more than I had taken.

"As the year progressed, I came to realize that charity is not always convenient, and that it sometimes takes much thought and planning. At first, I was proud of all the 'good' I was doing, but as the year came to an end, I was humbled to realize how selfish I had been all my life. As I left the home of the bedridden, or listened to frustrated teenagers, or climbed the hills with my children, I often thought of all the lives I could have touched in previous years if only I had taken the time. My one consolation was knowing that I could make a similar journey in all the years ahead."