Monday, August 29, 2016

Catching bass and watching for water snakes

I have no idea what Staci said after the words "water snake" came out of her mouth. I went into panic mode wondering if I was going to snag one with my fishing pole or if every bubble that came up from under the canoe was a snake below us. But, the plan was to catch bass and we climbed into the canoe and paddled off to do just that.


We started off with frog lures and within the first two casts, I had a bump on my line but nothing hooked. After a few more casts, Staci was landing bass on a regular basis.

One of about 15 bass that Staci caught
She was out fishing me almost 10 to one and I knew that I needed to hook something.  I cast into the shallows under one of the fallen down trees and boom! had a bite.  The fish hit and dove.  I could see the bass' light colored belly as it turned and went under the canoe.  Then, all of the tension was gone and so was my lure.  The fish grabbed everything and completely straightened my swivel.

I quickly got a new swivel and bigger lure tied on and kept casting.  Staci pointed out a fish that had surfaced a few times behind us.  That wasn't a fish!  We gave each other a look of understanding, put of rods down and paddled as the snake's head lifted out of the water and swam towards the opposite shore.

When we were a safe distance away, we started casting again.

Staci landed more bass and her first Pickerel. We talked, paddled, had a few motor boats pass us and fished. It was a beautiful day.  I was enjoying my time on the water and the beautiful scenery.  This was what made Maine fishing great.

Staci with her pickerel
After several hours, we decided to head back and get some lunch.  I was still unsuccessful in landing a fish. Staci went right back to catching bass.  One one cast, I had another bite and saw the long, skinny body of a pickerel under the water.  I was grateful that it threw the line before I got it into the boat.

My next cast was almost comical; I watched as the entire set up went flying into the water.  My line broke completely.  I was struggling. It was not my day on the water, that was for sure.

Staci fixed the line and put on a dark blue, crayfish lure.  It had a bright red hook attached to it. In my mind, it was too big and so odd colored (dark blue, really? will a fish see it?) that I was sure that I would throw out a few more casts and call it a day.  Staci was determined to have me catch at least one fish!

We paddled up to the dock where we had launched and started casting.  Boom! something grabbed Staci's line.  She set the hook and reeled. Whatever it was, it was big and not going without a fight. Suddenly, her reel snapped up and her lure was gone. The count was up to 3 at this point... good fishermen lose lures, right?

Another boat passed us and asked if we were catching anything.  I let her answer and I sat there and smiled.  I wasn't paying attention when I threw out my next cast and almost immediately, my pole was bending. Please, don't let it be a snake! I thought as I started reeling.  I was totally focused on landing this fish. I knew that once I got it close enough to the boat, Staci would have to help me net it.


I kept the line tight and when he came to the surface, I reeled more to get him as close to the boat as possible.  It took a few tries, but we got him into the net.  That blue crayfish lure had worked!  Staci and I each held it and estimated that the fish was between five and six pounds, which is impressive for a small mouth!  It is the biggest fish that I have ever caught, of any species!

Note: I am not holding the fish OUT for photos - I have my elbow braced on my knee to keep the fish up.

We had a very successful fishing trip! For the most part, we avoided the snakes, lost lures and hooked some great bass along the way. You can't beat a great fishing trip with a friend.



Friday, August 26, 2016

Trying to capture the twins

One of the does that we have around the house had twins.  Our landlord asked if we had seen them and at the time, we had not.  I set up my Moultrie, threw out a few apples and waited.




I have gotten some great photos but I have yet to see both fawns, which makes me wonder if the other fawn has died or if this is a different doe/fawn combo.

I am running out of apples but am planing on keeping my camera up to see if I can get any photos of the two fawns together.  And if not, I will move the camera and try to figure out where the bucks are around here. I may also move this camera up to the Sky Condo and check out some old rub lines to see which bucks are roaming around.

It is looking like it will be a good deer season!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Every outdoor woman needs...

...Other outdoor women who support and push them. Plain and simple.

Robin Follette, Taylor Follette and Me. These women make me want to be a better outdoors woman!

In the month that I took off, there were blog posts flying around about who outdoor women are, what we like and don't and how, even into adult hood, those damn cliques from high school pop back up.

Here are a couple of links to check out in case you missed them:

Field & Stream's survey on "real women weighing in on hunting." I took the survey but anyone could have told you the results and at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with my hunting. Following Eva Shockey on social media does not make me a better hunter.  Feeding into stereotypes doesn't help my shot placement. The only great thing F&S did in that issue was put the rock-star hunter Mia Anstine on the cover and highlight her along with other women who are breaking stereotypes and changing the face of the outdoor industry.

My friend Staci at MyMainelyGirlAdventures wrote a great blog about not fitting into the commercialized version of what a female hunter should look like. She nails it.  Dad is lucky if I remember to brush my teeth before we go out hunting and to see me waddle out of the woods after sitting for 4-5 hours... I am the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man dressed in green wool pants and a red/black plaid wool jacket. I am warm.  I am comfortable. And I can still shoot my rifle.

Staci Warren. Everyone needs a Staci to help push them, laugh with them and make any unsuccessful fishing trip a learning experience. 

I've written on more than one occasion about the barriers that outdoor women face and those that we put up ourselves. I am fortunate to have found a group of women who support me, encourage me, keep me safe while bear hunting and make me want to learn and be a better outdoors woman.

It doesn't matter what a survey says or what other outdoor women's groups think a hunter should look like.  If it doesn't make you a better hunter/fisherman/trapper, move on and find the type of people who will have your back and push you when you need it.  THAT will improve your skills!

Friday, August 19, 2016

First bone and spots of the season

They may be small, but I love seeing both of them!






Monday, August 15, 2016

What is on my doe?




I posted these pictures on the Facebook page and asked people what they thought was going on with my doe's shoulder.  We got a few different responses but I am not sure. Warts? Burdock? a horribly placed bow shot? I am hoping to keep watching her and see.  This is the first time that we have seen a deer with something like this.  On the flip side, she looks very healthy.

Friday, August 12, 2016

I'd rather have a coyote

How can you not be excited when you are checking trail cameras? The suspense, the unknowing... one of the first pulls of the season gave us quite a shock.

A dog.  A big brown, pit bull looking dog at the Sky Condo.




It looks healthy enough but the last thing we want is a dog up there.  Is it friendly? Who knows but now we may need to carry more protection than we usually do when we are checking the cameras and making tweaks to the food plots.  I would rather see a coyote; they are skiddish of people and don't tend to come out in daylight hours.  Plus, you can shoot them on sight and resolve the problem.

Dad thinks he knows who own's the dog but regardless, it doesn't belong running in the woods. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Alaska: Fishing the Russian River

When I woke up, I had gotten two and a half hours of sleep in the past 24 hours.  With the time change, I knew that I had to trick my mind into thinking that it was like any other morning and that with copious amounts of coffee, I would be able to function.  I had to; I was going fishing!

It was just me and the guys, heading to the Russian river to try our hand at salmon fishing.  Some had fished before and knew the Alaskan river well.  Some of us planned to just do what we were told.  We loaded up the waders, some lunch and fishing poles and drove two hours south.



It was a beautiful day! Warm but not too hot and no bugs.  We were using regular fishing poles with a hook but instead of a fancy lure or a fly, we tied pieces of bright yarn to the line. I was told that the goal was not to appear to be lunch but to annoy the fish enough that it bites.

The water was only a couple of feet deep and more often than not, never rose above my knees. That worked for me.  The hard part was casting.  The current kept a constant pace but because of the water depth and the lack of weight on the look, you had to use a fishing pole and cast like it was a fly rod. 

I found a guy later in the day who knew what he was doing and had fish on every other cast, it seemed. He was using a fly that was specifically for the river and it seemed to be working.  I watched as he caught a salmon but because it was not hooked in the mouth (he caught its back), he had to release it back into the water and try again.

Someone who knows how to fish the Russian



These pictures are of the only live salmon we saw all day.  They are big, ugly fish that, I am sure, would have tasted amazing had we caught one.


But, is there ever a bad day of fishing when you are in Alaska?  I was lucky to have had the chance to experience birds and a bear while fishing for salmon. And that is good enough for me.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Did she just yell bear?

The only other Mainer on the trip, the bride's brother and I were walking down the wooden pathway to see how far we could go to not have a bunch of fishermen in the water. The answer was; not possible.  We hit the stopping point and started backtracking to find our group. 

We hadn't gone too far when we heard a women yell something.  I turned to Ben, "Did she just yell bear?" The friends that we were fishing with us had warned us about bears coming down and taking fish (which is why you must always keep you fish inches away from you at all times.)  I wanted to see a bear. I was so excited and pictured this fantastic brown bear emerging from the trees as I dropped my fishing pole and got my camera out.  The fishermen in the water were slowing backing away from the opposite bank.  This was it! I was going to see my first brown bear!

Then, a black bear waddled down to the water.  I was disappointed.  Happy that I was watching a bear, but I can see black bears in Maine.  Still, this was an Alaskan black bear.




The bear did not seem to care that there were people around (unlike Maine bears that would have been long gone) and went about its business of trying to find some salmon bodies floating down the river. Realizing there were not in this area, the bear got out of the water and made his way back into the woods.

Ben and I continued back towards our group, talking about this bear and the bears back home. We rounded a corner and heard a couple of fishermen yelling at us. I waved and said hi. Yes, we had seen the bear.  When they started pointing, Ben and I realized that the bear was currently 30 feet away from us.





The bear had been successful in finding some fish leftovers and had climbed onto a fallen tree to get out of the water and eat.  We stayed on the boardwalk with that plastic safety net between us and the bear.  Within a few minutes, the bear got sick of being an attraction and pivoted with its fish and headed back to the opposite shore.

When Ben and I reconnected with our group, they had heard about the bear being sighted but had only seen him when he was leaving to go back into the woods.  I was pretty excited to have gotten some decent pictures.  It wasn't a brown bear, but I will take a black bear over no bear any day!