Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Few of My Least Favorite Things

The idea for the following post was generated after I recently read a post created by Scent Free Lip Gloss. Her post entitled "A Few of My Favorite Things" is a reflection on the quality of this fine lady. It would not surprise me to find that she regularly goes to church, volunteers in a soup kitchen and gives vocal lessons to angels. I, however, have a healthy amount of sarcasm that frequently appears in my writing, therefore my post looks in a different perhaps slightly skewed direction.

A Few of My Least Favorite Things:
Rain during daylight hours. I mean honestly why haven't scientists figured out how to stop this from happening!

Hiking boots and sneakers that have to be "broken" in and blister my feet! We can send a man to the moon but can't mold plastic and foam to fit feet?

Blackflies, mosquitoes and basically any other blood sucking insect that seeks to destroy my time in the Maine woods.

Jello . . . Any food that wiggles just can't be trusted. I am also extremely mistrustful of jelly and jam.

Buckshot . . . It wounds deer and should only be used in specific circumstances. You know like if someone is breaking and entering your home and exactly what you want to do is seriously wound them.

Seatbelt and helmet laws for those over 18. Yes, I understand the reason for this law but at some point people need to be free to decide their own destiny.

Campfire smoke in your eyes.

Heavy mountaineering backpacks in excess of 70 lbs. Yeah, I used to carry them but that isn't to say I liked it!

Pickled beets . . . Honestly can you think of anything more foul . . . Well other than grits.

Starbucks . . . If I wanted a double late cappuccino with soy milk and sugar in the raw I would move to Europe.

Country music . . . If there is a purgatory "Buffalo Girls" will be played over and over for all eternity. On the other hand, in heaven, I could see "Buffalo Soldier" being played over and over while I sit back on a huge fluffy cloud and drink ice cold lemonade.

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) sorry but food should not have a 50 year shelf life.

Logs, rocks, stumps and any other below the water hidden obstruction that breaks the sheer pin on my motor or steals my new 10 dollar fishing lure.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my unusual looks at some of the things that generally try my patience. Please unleash your inner cynic by adding to the post a few things that really get you going!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Maine Winters

Some engineers from the U.S.G.S. surveyed some property and found that in a area, the New Hampshire and Maine border must be changed. They stopped to inform a farmer that he was no longer in Maine, but in New Hampshire. After a long pause, he grunted and said, "That's good. I couldn't take another one of these Maine winters."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Fishing 2010!

After a year of anticipation, the annual spring fishing trip is finally within “striking distance”. On this seasonably cold Saturday morning, I sit here amongst a cornucopia of old and new gear all awaiting inspection, rigging and finally integration into this years fishing outfit. On the top of the list are several exciting new items purchased or gifted throughout the course of the year and have lain dormant in the dark recess of my basement. Springs early arrival flirts with my senses and a primitive calling awakens my inner fisherman, driving me to rally the troops and prepare for the annual migration to the Grand Lake Stream water shed.

Added to this year’s arsenal (and pictured to the right), will be the Penn 209 “level wind” reel, Rhino medium weight 8 foot trolling rod, weighted lead core lines, Luhr-Jensen’s mini-dipsy and 5 blade Dave Davis in 50/50 nickel-gold. This outfit once rigged, will function as my deep water outfit to target large lake trout (togue). My secondary outfit, will consist of a Pflueger Medalist 1495 ½ Diameter Fly Reel, Eagle Claw 7 weight 8 foot fly rod and loaded with Procasts floating hi-vis yellow WF7 fly line. This basic outfit is identical to what I used last year for fishing the top of the water column to target salmon.

This seasons gear list, is almost as exciting as the new deep water trolling techniques I have been studying in various online sources and journals. After last years efforts, that produced mixed results, I thought it would be fun to experiment this year with sewn on bait, new knots, varied depths, lures and boat trolling speeds. Due to the thousands of variables it will obviously be impossible to draw any definitive results as to the effectiveness of last years (old) compared to this years (new) techniques BUT it is still FUN to try new stuff!

Here is a quick list of a few things I have been researching:
Sew on a Smelt
Trolling Techniques at Luhr-Jensen
Trolling Techniques
Fishing Knots to Know

So, with the stage set lets take a look at how everything went together. First, one fun thing I recently purchased was something called the knot tying game. The “Fisherman Version” of the game came with rope, dowels w/eyelets and 50 cards with instruction on how to tie various fishing knots. The “game” is played, by turning over the cards one at a time and attempting to tie the knot that is depicted. Players get points for being the first to tie the knot successfully. More difficult knots are assigned a higher number of points. While I have yet found anyone with a “geek factor” high enough to actually want to play the game with me, I have found the cards fun to review. For the purposes of preparing the line on my reels I used the knots outlined below. Secondly, to combat twisted lines we will be fishing with two down rigger directly off the back of the boat this year and the use of a mini-dipsy to pull one of the floating line to the far left or right to fish close to shore and outside of the fish disturbing wake of the boat.

Deep Trolling:
Reel to 100 yards of Backing – Tie over hand knot in backer, then thread backer around reel and tie to backer with two overhand knots.
Backing to Lead Line - Pull out 1.5 inches of lead from lead line and then secure to backer using a Blood Knot (See Picture).
Lead Line to 12 lb Mono - Pull out 1.5 inches of lead from lead line and secure to mono using Leader to Line Knot (See Picture).
Secure 12 lb Mono to Lure using Blood Knot or Palomar (if using braided lines like Firewire).

* Throughout the course of the adventure, this set-up will be modified with the incorporation of the Dave Davis, sewn-on-smelts and various lure classics as the Swedish Pimple, DB Smelt and Mooselook Wobbler). When this occurs the Dave Davis will be tied directly to a barrel swivel attached to the lead line. To the end of the Dave Davis will secured 16-18 inches of leader and a sewn-on-smelt.

Surface Level Trolling:

Reel to 100 yards of Backing – Tie over hand knot in backer, then thread backer around reel and tie to backer with two overhand knots.
Backing to Floating Fly Line - Secure backer to fly line using a Blood Knot (See Picture).
Fly Line to barrel swivel to Mini-Dipsy – Secure using blood knots.
Mini-Dipsy to 12 lb Mono – Secure using blood knot or Palomar
Secure 12 lb Mono to Lure using Blood Knot or Palomar (if using braided lines like Firewire).

* Throughout the course of the adventure, this set-up will be modified with the incorporation of lures including Gray Ghosts, Black Ghost, floating 6 inch Rapalas and DB Smelt.

As Mainers start fishing the cold waters of the state in pursuit of Lake Trout and Salmon I hope you enjoyed this brief synopsis of trolling techniques. If you use any of them and catch a MONSTAH please send me a picture and story as it would be great to post to the blog. Thanks for stopping by and good luck this fishing season!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maine Guide - Lost Person

Some of you may have noticed that my blogger profile has read “Future Maine Guide” as my profession for well over a year. This was done, in part, to motivate me to begin the preparations required to work toward my Maine Guiding Certification. After many years of dragging my feet, I have finally managed to make the commitment to getting certified as a Registered Maine Guide. Last week, I took a vacation day and drove to the Red Cross headquarters in Portland, where I completed the required first aid credentials. While there, for the fun of it, I also received a refresher on my infant and adult CPR rating. While not required for the Maine Guide registration, I thought it was a valuable skill set to know (especially with two active little ones). This small initial step, allowed me to complete the short two page “Maine Guide Application” document that I immediately submitted to IFW to get my testing date organized.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of becoming a Maine Guide, it starts with a battery of oral and written testing. The oral test, done before a small group of Master Maine Guides, is the most difficult part of the testing equation. These experts question candidates on a variety of woods and waters related scenarios in order to judge their ability to safely and effectively guide in the state. Two distinct sections highlight the oral exam. The first is navigation and the second is the lost person scenario. Failure to perform to high standards on either of these portions will result in immediate disqualification and the candidate must reschedule. Bye, bye thanks for playing but please move to the end of the line.

With my application now kicking around in the inbox at IFW I am now growing increasingly “anxious”. In an attempt to quell my anxiety, I spent about two hours last night pouring over several dozen pages of notes, comments, and suggestions that were provided to me by others “guiding” family members. This review was followed by a 50 minute telephone conversation with the old man who provided me with even greater insight on the lost person scenario and specifically what I should be expected to receive for questions. See Dad received his Maine Guide endorsement a few months ago and I am fortunate to have his experience in that endeavor working on my side.

I suppose I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the process and have reorganized some of his notes into a format that fits more with my minds eye. This entailed transferring most of this hand written notes to my Black Berry and greatly shortening some of the dialog to simple reminders.

Well better get back to studying, as according to IFW I may only have a month or so left before I get my test date! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Outdoor Cooking

Unseasonable but most appreciated temperatures, hovered around 65 F all day Saturday leading to the perfect set-up for a day spent in the yard cooking over an open flame. While the cooking was pretty much business as usual, there were a couple surprises that made the day particularly interesting.

Taking center stage, slow cooked to perfection, were of course my Grandmothers baked beans. The delicious combination of kidney beans, brown sugar, molasses and a full two pounds of salt pork created, as always, the perfect flavor balance of sweet and salty. Traditionally cooked in a large cast iron Dutch oven lends a “taste” to the experience hard to describe.

Also in the BBQ line-up were pork ribs and chicken legs rubbed in Denny and Mikes extraordinary enhancer “Pixie Dust”. Described as an all around rub for just about anything, it adds a light kick that is sure to please. As directed, I added the rub to all sides of the meat and let it set for a full three hours in the refrigerator. Before cooking, I dropped three full handfuls of water-moistened hickory chips to the fire pit and waited till they started lightly smoking before adding the pork and chicken. The end products were moist, with an injection of flavor and aroma brought about by the rub and containing a slight underlying smoky flavor.

In a grand experiment, I had wanted to build a reflector oven and have it ready for the weekend but time had not allowed. Needing a way to cook some type of roll or bread to accompany the baked beans, I finally decided on trying my hand at making bannock. Well, as time again grew thin, an emergency trip to the grocery store had me purchasing pizza dough. With many raised eyebrows, I rolled out long (18 inch) hotdog sized allotments of dough and wrapped them around hearty green sticks. These were then slathered lightly with butter as they cooked. The end product was a golden browned yeasty roll of bread that proved heavenly when eaten plain or drenched in bean juice.

Of course throughout the days activities, the kids enjoyed collecting hotdog and marshmallow sticks and receiving instruction on how to cook over an open flame without burning ones food or self. Also within the experience were many teachable moments identifying materials suitable to burn, such as those that were to wet or would leave food with an “off” taste. Hardwood and softwoods were identified by bark and leaf leading to many, many other follow-up questions by a very inquisitive 4 year old mind.

After a long Maine winter, the blessing of a day outside, surrounded by family and friends with food in abundance was a way to recharge ones batteries and be thankful for all of the small enjoyments life has to offer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Game Camera Pics

With the Maine winter coming to a abrupt end, nightly temperatures have finally creeped into the 30s. This change has allowed me to set the game cameras back into the woods, without having to change the batteries every week. January and February were brutal on battery life and had me reluctantly pulling the cameras until conditions improved. Last week, I set the cameras out on the back acreage in an attempt to see if there were any "trophy" gobblers wandering around. As of today, I have yet to capture any fowl but have been entertained by a family of raccoons and an invasion of gray squirrels.

Also, my new Moultrie IR camera managed to finally capture its first night video segment. Seeing what the camera can do without emitting game spooking light is impressive. Can't wait to try it on the coyotes.

video

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coffee

Coffee is the lifeblood of practically every outdoor related activity among my circle of family and friends. There is something distinctly comforting and relaxing about sitting around a campfire or breakfast table, enjoying a few quite moments over a steaming hot, hearty cup of this delicious substance. With those happy memories in mind, I decided to write a short post to salute the humble and often understated cup of Joe.

I don’t honestly remember when I that first delicious cup of rich black coffee slid down my throat and worked its wonderful intoxicating caffeinated actions on my central nervous system. My immediate recollection is that it probably occurred during some late night cramming session during finals week. Back in the decade of big hair bands, parachute pants and moustaches there was no “Red Bull”, “Pimp Juice” or “Full Throttle” instead we had to rely on that heartily brewed Colombian nectar hand picked by Juan Valdez.

Through the years that followed, I was a troubled and misdirected youth and frequently polluted my coffee with such vile and corrupt substances as cream, hazel nut, sugar, and God forgive me, even vanilla. Fortunately, the wisdom gained through the passing of time, eventually returned me to my “roots” and the purity of drinking coffee in its most basic form . . . black. While some of you are probably making gagging noises at even the suggestion of consuming black coffee, you may want to put a nipple on that Zima your drinking and have Mommy burp you before naptime.

Perhaps it is these early beginnings, learning to percolate potent brews, that best illustrate my current infatuation with creating “coffee” that has at times been described by some as “strong” or “overpowering”. I obviously try to take these comments in stride but often my feelings are stretched when the remarks turn to “Urine of the Devil”, “Heart Stopper Brew”, “Liquid Drano” or “Engine Oil”. To these individuals, who so mock my morning “eye opener” blend, I would suggest that maybe they should just drink tea or hot coco and leave the heavy lifting to the big boys. Though I don’t think my coffee is all that “strong”, I will admit that once I ran out of gas and used a ½ cup of coffee to make it the rest of the way home.

Over the years a few family members have developed a tolerance or perhaps more appropriately and immunity to my heavenly brew and now find it difficult to be content with any other “coffee like” substance. Dunkin doughnuts, Starbucks and even McDonalds all flounder in the shadow of my coffee, possessing a bite stronger than a pit-bull and more potent than a man bathing in Enzyte.

Hope you enjoyed this brief post; I certainly had fun writing it. Please drop a comment if you, like me, prefer your coffee . . . hot, black and bitter!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Maine Temperature Conversion Chart

60 above zero
New Yorkers try to turn on the heat....
People in Maine plant gardens.
50 above zero
Californians shiver uncontrollably.......
People in Maine sunbathe.
40 above
Italian cars won't start.....
People in Maine drive with the windows down.
32 above
Distilled water freezes.....
Moosehead Lake's water gets thicker (for non-Mainers, this is a lake in Maine)
20 above
Floridians wear coats, gloves and woolly hats.....
People in Maine throw on a sweatshirt.
15 above
New York landlords finally turn up the heat....
People in Maine have the last cook-out before it gets cold.
zero degrees
People in Miami cease to exist....
Mainers lick the flagpole.
-20 below
Californians fly away to Mexico....
People in Maine get out their winter coats.
-40 below
Hollywood disintergrates.....
The girl scouts in Maine begin selling cookies door to door.
-60 below
Polar bears begin to evacuate Antarctica
Maine's Boy Scouts postpone "Winter Survival" classes until it gets cold enough.
-80 below
Mt. St. Helen's freezes...
People in Maine to ice skating or skiing.
-100 below
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.....
Maine-iacs get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg.
-297 below
Microbial life survives on dairy products....
Cows in Maine complain of farmers with cold hands.
-460 below
ALL atomic motion stops.....
People in Maine start saying..."Cold 'nuff for ya?"
-500 below
Hell freezes over......
The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Kid Joins the Club

Yesterday marked my final digression from man to little boy. After years of walking the slippery slope of owning an ATV, I finally plunged head first down the rabbit hole. Minutes after a run down of all of the features, by a helpful technician from the local ATV dealership, I was cruising down a back road more excited than a 5 year old eating left over Halloween candy on Christmas day.

Unfortunately, the events that lead to this day were filled with a few moments of sadness, most notably, in the sale of my ’98 Yamaha V-Star motorcycle. That beauty and I had gone on 11,568 miles of adventure over the last 11 years and it saddened me to see her loaded on a truck and hauled away. It amazes me how much a “thing”, can connect itself to your life. I assume it isn’t the “thing” itself that creates the attachment but rather the recalled memories that are awakened when that particular “thing” is used, driven or worn. We all have that favorite pair of pants, hunting rifle, ice axe or other tool, implement or device that is connected to us in some strange emotional way.

While one chapter is closing, another is opening. If I am honest with myself, an ATV more closely matches who I am at this stage in my life. An ATV brings with it the ability to haul and carry people and equipment far into the back country, thus expanding my fishing and hunting possibilities. Already, I am planning the construction of an ice shack that can be hauled by my new ATV. Most certainly this new “toy” will open expanded opportunities for my family and I, leading to many years of new happy memories fishing, hunting and recreating. Slowly driving the kids around the yard yesterday, seeing the excitement on their faces, I knew that I had made a wise decision.

So, now that I am in the coveted ATV “club” what do I need to know!?!?!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mr. President's Hard Water Adventure II

As the sun crept slowly across the horizon and the temperature began to drop, I began to question if we would catch anything. We were fishing a shallow cove within spitting distance of the boat landing. Gazing out across the dozens of old ice holes dotting the lakes icy surface, I began to question my judgment. Could it be possible that due to its proximity to the boat launch the cove had effectively been “fished out”? As I pondered this thought, my concerns were momentarily directed toward the shifting wind, now forcing a considerable frigid breeze onto our position. Perhaps our increased discomfort would signal the fish to bite?!?!

Turning an eye toward Mr. President, I noted that he was getting out of his chair for the 3rd time in an hour to go and re-check his baits. Somehow an off hand comment slipped from my lips referring to him being a Master Baiter. In response, I received a disappointing look and a statement to the fact that lazy drunks who sit in their chairs all day never catch fish. At this point, I had just enough liquid courage in my system to refute this fact and specifically state the multiple occasions where the drunkest of the bunch had managed to catch exquisite fish specimens. As my brain began its digressions into the data behind previous successful fishing expeditions and the proportional high consumption of alcohol, I could quickly see Mr. President’s was completely unimpressed with my analysis.

It was at this point, that Mr. President yelled out an excited flag! I immediately noted that my furthest tip-up had sprung! Racing across the slippery surface my life flashed before my eyes on several occasions. Running 200 yards across a frozen lake has the same heart accelerating moments, as leaning back in a chair several dozen times and barely catching yourself from a bad fall.

Approaching the hole, I was please to see that the line was spooling off with authority, and then suddenly it stopped. Impatiently I waited to see if it would start moving again and minutes later the line again began its speedy descent to Davey Jones Locker. Upon removing the tip-up from the hole, a roster tail of spray erupted off the reel and I knew that I had hooked a pike. Gently setting the number 6 hook, I cautiously started to haul in the small gator. Even a small pike, could snap my 12 lb mono with its toothy mouth should I not be careful. Moments later I could see the pikes familiar snakelike shape swim by the hole and in one quick motion; I swung the fish up, through the hole and onto the ice. The 24-inch Northern Pike had managed to completely swallow my hook and a 5-inch dead smelt, I was using for bait, almost to its butt hole. Rather than risk losing a digit, I simply cut and retied a new leader. Experience from previous encounters with these finger shredders, had taught me to be respectful. Even in death these toothy creatures can inflict serious wounds.

After managing some pictures and high fives we retired back to the comforts of the shoreline and the warmth of a small campfire. Lunch was provided in the form of red hotdogs (a Maine ice fishing favorite). There is something about mystery meat and red dye number 7, slow roasted over the coals of the campfire, that make me want to flop down on the ice and shake my leg like a dog. It is almost to good to describe in words, that meaty charcoal flavor that is only accentuated by eating it off a stick in the great outdoors.

Of course leave it to Mr. President to get a flag right in the middle of my good time. Barely had that first succulent log of mechanically separated animal "parts" passed by my lips when he was off like a man shot from a cannon. His excited screams echoed across the lake, reminding me of a time when I threw a frog in with my Mom while she was in the shower. Racing off behind him, I readied my camera for his first “Pike” encounter. As I approached the hole, I could hear his shouting above the wind that he could see the Pike swimming back and forth in the shallow water. Odd I thought. Frantically pulling up on the line, his face twisted into a strange perverse shape and I knew that something had gone dreadfully wrong. Instead of a Pike Mr. President had procured the BIGGEST Mud Puppy I have ever seen.

Despite my multiple (taunts) suggestions, that he submit it to an official set of scales, to be added to the state record books, instead the slippery critter managed to find a new home in one of MY ice fishing holes . . . touché Mr. President touché.

For more lies, exaggeration and misdirection click HERE to visit Mr. Presidents retort!
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