The Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) exists as a species native to the eastern United States and Canada. Due the popularity of the Black Crappie as a sport and commercial game fish, illegal stocking efforts quickly expanded the Black Crappies range to all 48 contiguous United States, including Maine. Also known as Calico Bass or just plain Crappie, the Black Crappie possesses a rich silvery-olive to golden brown coloration overlaid with a pattern of dark black blotches. The laterally compressed body and dorsal fin spines makes the Black Crappie closely resemble bass and sunfish species.
The largest Black Crappie ever caught in Maine was a 3 lb. 4 oz specimen pulled from Sibley Pond in 1986 by Wayne Morey Sr.
Breeding typically occurs in spring in nests built by the male. Males build nests by using their tails to create shallow depressions in sheltered waters near shore. Female crappies deposit eggs in these depressions. Males release milt to fertilize the eggs and eggs and sperm become randomly mixed. After spawning, the male guards the nest until eggs hatch 2-3 days after initial fertilization occurs.
As fry grow into fingerlings and finally adults, they feed on a progressively larger and wider array of plankton, crustaceans, insects and small fish. Black crappies reach sexual maturity between 2–4 years, with those hatchlings fortunate enough to evade predators living for up to seven years in the wilds and fifteen years in captivity.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is the native range of the Black Crappie?
2. Due to illegal stocking, where can Black Crappies now be found?
3. What other names does the Black Crappie go by?
4. How much did the largest Black Crappie caught in Maine weigh?
5. When do Black Crappies breed?
6. What do Black Crappies feed on?
7. How long does it take for Black Crappies to reach maturity?
8. How long do Black Crappies live?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. The native range of the Black Crappie includes the eastern United States and Canada.
2. Due to illegal stocking, Black Crappies can now be found in all 48 contiguous United States, including Maine.
3. The Black Crappie is also known as the Calico Bass or just plain Crappie.
4. The largest Black Crappie ever caught in Maine was a 3 lb. 4 oz.
5. Black Crappies breed in the spring.
6. Black Crappies feed on a wide array of plankton, crustaceans, insects and small fish.
7. Black crappies reach sexual maturity between 2–4 years.
8. Black Crappie hatchlings fortunate enough to evade predators living for up to seven years in the wilds and fifteen years in captivity.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Many thanks to the Maine Honda Dealers and RealWorld Marketing for selecting my "distinctly Maine" vocal talents to provide the voice over work for several different television ads. Honda's "Mainer's Know" ad campaign was televised across the state of Maine in May of 2016. Links to the videos, now posted on YouTube, are provided below.
Monday, June 6, 2016
Preparations for the hunt started when both boys were just 5 years old, as this was the age that they both began shooting BB guns. Both children progressed to learn to safely shoot pellet guns, the .22 rifle, the .410 shotgun and as we moved closer to turkey season the 20 gauge shotgun. In accordance with Maine law, the 20 gauge is the lowest gauge allowed to hunt turkeys. As we progressed through our shooting practice, I noted that the 9 year old easily managed the recoil of the 20 gauge and was able to look down the barrel and correctly acquire the sight picture necessary to hit the turkey target at 30 yards. Unfortunately, as the spring turkey season crept ever closer, the 7 year old was just not understanding what he needed for a sight picture and even worse, was beginning to develop the bad habit of flinching at the recoil of the 20 gauge. Even at 15 yards, he was not consistently hitting the turkey target. Understanding these problems, I began researching other means of helping him successfully shoot his turkey. This is when I found the inteliSCOPE Pro+.
The inteliSCOPE Pro+ (http://inteliscopes.com) is an extremely innovative product that allows the Smartphone we all tend to carry to be used as a weapon sight. This is accomplished by the use of the inteliSCOPE Pro+ mounting system that firmly attaches to a picante rail of an AR15 OR (with a little finagling), to the rib of a shotgun. To the mount is securely fastened the users Smartphone (Android or iPhone). By downloading the company’s intelliSCOPE App, users are able to simply load up the apps crosshairs on the Smartphone’s screen, line up targets and pull the trigger. Now if that was ALL the entire app did that would still be great for most practical applications but it does so much more.
The intelliSCOPE app ties into your Smartphone location services making it able to provide real time wind speed, direction and GPS location. The app also allows the user to record video (perfects of hunters wanting to record their kill!), zooms up to 5x, the ability to change reticules and an adjustable sighting system that provides pinpoint accuracy at various ranges and calibers.
For the 7 year old and I, that meant we could sit together in the turkey blind and I could assist him in lining up his target. The large Smartphone screen, made it possible for both of us to effectively see the turkey in the crosshairs, allowing for an ethical shot. Additionally, because his cheek did not have to be firmly planted on the shotguns stock, to look down the barrel, he was able to fire the gun with less felt recoil.
Off and on through the months leading up to the spring turkey season opener, the 7 year old and I practiced with the intelliSCOPE system until I felt confident that he could manage his excitement and hit his target. Well, as they say, practice makes perfect and just one week into the season, a large Tom turkey strolled into his shooting lane . . . the boy took a deep breath, stared intently into the intelliSCOPE and pulled the trigger. Excited can not properly express how wildly thrilled the 7 year old was at that that moment when that old bird dropped dead to the ground with a single lethal shot. Many thanks to intelliSCOPE, who in the design and development of their impressive sighting system, likely never dreamed that it would someday be used to help a young boy shoot his first turkey, thereby forever adding him and his unforgettable experience to the tradition of hunting.
MORE INFORMATION: In an email discussion with intelliSCOPE President/CEO Jason Giddings, Jason mentioned that the intelliSCOPE system is currently being used to help folks with various disabilities continue to hunt. Individuals with visual impairments, loss of limbs, paralasis, etc. can mount the intelliSCOPE to their rifles or shotguns and control the aim with a chin-joystick, pulling the trigger by puffing a straw. This is an amazing gift for those individuals who wish to overcome their constraints and continue to chase their hunting dreams despite their physical disabilities.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
|Author Fishing with Son on Meddybemps Lake|
Bring the Action June is peak spawning time for black bass and for a few magical weeks while the fish are guarding their nests, the angling is beyond compare. The spawn, abundant forage and jacked metabolisms, make bass exceedingly voracious and they attack lures with contempt, struggling against taunt lines with every ounce of their being. Angling excitement runs high, as aggressive strikes create watery explosions and hooked fish fly high into the air, in displays of astounding acrobatics. Meddybemps Lake (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 36, D-4) and Big Lake (Map 35, B-5 and C-5 and Map 36, B-1) rank as two of the premier smallmouth bass waters in Down East and my personal favorites.
Meddybemps Lake at 6,765 acres contains numerous small coves, a rocky shoreline, abundant forage and a high quality spawning habitat. All of these essential elements combine to make the lake one of the best in the state in terms of the shear number of bass it produces. While bass are plentiful, they tend to decimate the available food supply, resulting in a below average growth rate. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has classified Meddybemps as an S13 classification, to encourage an increased harvest by anglers by allowing “No size or bag limit on Bass”, except that under the general rules, only one bass may exceed l4in. Anglers should expect to encounter lots of small bass averaging between l0-12 inches. A great boat launch for accessing Meddybemps exists just off route 191 in the town of Meddybemps. Anglers should use caution when fishing Meddybemps as the lake is notoriously rocky, so slow speed, while navigating its waters, is mandatory.
Big Lake at 10,305 acres also maintains high a quality spawning habitat and the lake consistently produces of bass 11-14 inches. While even larger fish are always a possibility, extensive time and luck will be needed to find them. Access to Big Lake is possible via the west Princeton road, just outside of the town of Princeton. Fishing for bass is all about location, find underwater structure and the bass will be there. Depth maps and fish finders help anglers study bottom structure and locate fish but nothing quite compares to general firsthand knowledge of a lake or pond. Locating beaver lodges, underwater weed beds, sunken logs and stumps, rocks, shoals, ledges, drop offs and submerged islands, will put you leaps ahead of other fishermen. Mark these areas with a GPS or write down locations and you will be served for years to come with fishing hotspots. Sluggos, Blue Foxes and Terminator spin baits all elicit brutal early spring reaction strikes and anglers would be well served to have several of each in a variety of colors available in their tackle boxes before heading out. Having two poles ready and equipped one with a weed less Sluggo and the other with a spin bait or Blue Fox, anglers are well prepared for whatever conditions they may encounter.
|Authors 2016 Spring Turkey|
An exciting hunt starts in Northfield (Map 26, B-2) and driving logging roads into Smith Landing, the beautiful Great Falls (Map 26, B-2) and continuing south, following the Machias River into Whitneyville. Birds can often be found along this route picking gravel from roadsides and feeding and strutting in the large expanses of blueberry fields.
After shooting a nice gobbler this season, most hunters will want to in some way preserve their trophy. While a majority of hunters mount the tail and beard, a lesser know way of preserving the memory is by making a turkey spur necklace or hatband. This is a relatively easy process, performed with a few basic tools.
1. Using a hacksaw, cut through the leg bone above and below the spur. This leaves a half inch piece of the leg bone with the attached spur.
2. Next, take a knife and scrape off all the skin from the bone. Remove a turkey breast feather from the carcass and use it to push the marrow out of the leg bone.
3. After thoroughly cleaning the spurs, let dry in the sun or in a bag of Borax and then use rough sandpaper to remove left over bits of dried flesh.
4. The leg bones (not spurs) may be whitened by soaking in a dish of hydrogen peroxide.
5. For a glossy look, spray the spurs with clear polyurethane. 6. String spurs on a leather string, using wooden beads as spacers.