Monday, September 9, 2013

Bass Attack at Pena Blanca Lake!

My Fishing Equipment Transport Vehicle
A couple of weeks ago I found myself with a little bit of extra time and a bad case of bass fever. This has been an extremely busy summer, and I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like. Being rather late in the spring, it was definitely way past time to go fishing. Pena Blanca Lake was the recipient of some much needed restoration by the Arizona Game and Fish department. They completely drained the lake and pulled all of the garbage and sunken boats out of the bottom and dug out a lot of the sediment that had built up since the lake was first built. About two years ago they let it fill back up and started to stock some bluegill, grass carp, bass and catfish. These fish formed the foundation of the populations that will survive the hot Arizona summers and naturally reproduce in this lake. I have heard good things about the recently re-opened Pena Blanca lake, so I decided to load the kayak into the truck and head south to check it out.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Saga Interupted

As far as my summer fly fishing plan of trying to catch all of the trout species that inhabit Southern Arizona...It went out the window almost as soon as I decided I wanted to do it. As it sits I have been in trout waters exactly one time with no catches all summer long. I am not really all that heart broken over the lack of quality fishing time because along with remodeling our living room and kitchen, this past winter all of the cards fell into place to make the dream my wife and I had for a trip to Europe a reality. When I decided to make plans for fishing this summer I had no idea that the preparations for this trip would consume every spare moment I had for fishing trips. At the beginning of summer we also decided to host our second exchange student, and we spent a lot of time and energy preparing for his arrival. I am excited for the opportunity to learn about the Norwegian way of life and to share our lifestyle with a young ambassador. The down side of these exciting new experiences is the lack of extra time for recreational activities such as fishing and hunting. It even seems impossible to get to my local pond for an hour or two of cat fishing! 
I am sorry for the lack of good (or any) content over the past couple of months, but as the summer starts to wind down and the weather cools off a little bit I will be back out in the field fishing and hunting. so stay tuned for some great stories! Starting with a trip to Pena Blanca lake and some much needed fish catching!

 If you guys are at all interested, let me know and I will do a quick post about my trip to Europe and share some of the pictures I took. I didn't get to do any fishing while I was there, but I went to some exciting places and had some interesting experiences including my wife getting into trouble for taking a picture of a hooker in Amsterdam!
A Street In London

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Couple Of Hard Earned Bass

Mud And Milfoil
For Fathers Day I was finally able to pull my lazy self out of bed early enough for a half day of fishing at Arivaca lake. It has been a couple of months since I have really been able to get out for a morning with a fishing pole, and I thought this would be a good day to take out the kayak out for its first "real" fishing trip on a lager body of water. So I made sure my battery for the fish finder was charged and loaded up the truck with fishing equipment and the kayak, stopped for some gas, and headed for Arivaca lake.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Spud Factor of Quail Hunting Analogs

John target practicing with a .22 long rifle.
In quail hunting, as in all things, practice and planning are essential for success. Most people go to their local skeet shooting range in order to practice shooting their shotguns at moving targets. That is a great method for improving your overall aim and increasing your hit ratio. I would not recommend leaving that practice out, however it does not totally cover what is needed to effectively shoot a flushing quail, especially when hunting without the benefit of a dog. Even on the best of hunts when you are doing everything correctly the quail will flush with surprising speed and in unexpected directions. When they do flush they tend to take off low and head for the nearest cover. In most cases there is less than three heart beats to mount, aim, and fire before the quail are behind a piece of structure and gone. Even the best sporting clay fields do not give you a good representation of what this is like as you are perpetually at the ready and know when the clay will fly, where it will fly from, and and in which general direction it will go. Even hunters that use dogs to flush out quail have some advanced warning as to when a quail will flush so they can be at the ready when it does happen. Without a dog the flush will come almost unexpectedly and in an unexpected direction. This type of hunting relies on quick reflexes and perfect form more than aim to be able to consistently hit a target. How do you practice this? With potatoes!

Why potatoes? You might ask?
Shot from the side with a .22 rifle. 

Reason # 1: Mashed Potatoes Are Yummy and there is no more fun a way to make mashed potatoes! Assuming you can find any of the pieces after you shoot it. Potatoes tend to explode quite spectacularly when hit with a 12 gauge shot gun. Exploding spuds also supply an unrivaled giggle factor.

Reason # 2 Potatoes are biodegradable so you don't have to run around gathering up the pieces when you are done. Potatoes will rot away in just a couple of days leaving the area clean and just a little more fertile than it was before you were there.

Reason # 3: Potatoes are a renewable rescource. Under the right conditions potatoes will grow into new plants, resulting in more potatoes. They could potentially be a never ending supply of these little brown quail lookalikes!

Shot from the end with a .22 this one split rather evenly
Reason # 4: Potatoes are fairly cheap as compared to other types of shotgun practice materials such as clay pigeons, and they are reusable if you miss. When bought in the 10 lb sack at your local grocery store you will get somewhere around 25-30 potatoes  for around $5.00. That is a whole lot of practice for the money.

Reason # 5: Most importantly, they look like quail. The coloration and size of Idaho potatoes is very similar to the size and shape and coloring  of the Gambol's quail that are so prevalent here in Southern Arizona. This means that when a buddy randomly throws a potato baseball style toward any of the dozen or so nearby bushes, and you squint real hard while standing on one foot and listening to psychedelic punk rock, it looks just like a flushing quail. Potatoes also blend into the surrounding desert, have a similar speed, and stay in the air a similar amount of time. When the shot is taken starting with your shotgun in the resting position down by your hips You get a really accurate representation of the same reaction shooting needed to consistently hit the quail in a real hunting situation.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ricks Review: Native Water Craft Manta Ray 11 Kayak

Patagonia Lake, Arizona at sun set.
Fishing in the deserts of Southern Arizona is extremely limited. There just aren't that many lakes or rivers large enough to hold fish. Within a two hour drive there is one small river that is mostly surrounded by private land and Indian reservations, and the few lakes we have are smaller canyon reservoirs. This means they are narrow, long, deep, and surrounded by cliffs. Anywhere there is relatively flat space the vegetation is so thick that shore fishing becomes nearly impossible. These issues make a boat of some kind almost a necessity for fishing. There are five such lakes within 100 miles (close enough for a day trip) of my house. One is a tiny over-fished trout lake up in the Catalina mountains that doesn't allow boats at all, three have a 5 mph no wake speed limit or are limited to trolling motors, and one is large enough for a large boat to make about a 1/4 mile circle on one end for water skiing. This is bad for a fisherman stuck on the shore, but the limited number of people with smaller boats means this is great for fish populations in all of these lakes. and for the few fishermen who have a boat small enough to get to them. I want in on this action, so I need a small boat.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fishing Gear Overload? Four Ways To Cut The Clutter On A Family Fishing Trip.

Family Picnic
Every once in a while I am able to talk the wife and kids into going to the lake with me for a picnic and some fishing. we do not own a boat and none of them particularly like to go fishing, but they are a good family and go from time to time just to make me happy. When this happens I get excited because this is the time I am going to show them how much fun fishing really is. In my excitement, I start gathering up my equipment and loading it into the truck. I usually load up what I would normally bring on a fishing trip with a buddy. A couple of bait casters for bass fishing, two or three spinning rods for bait fishing, a couple of fly rods for bluegill and trout, four or five other poles of varying purpose and usefulness just in case. then I add in four or five large tackle boxes chock full of all kinds of baits, lures, and terminal tackle to cover any situation I might come across. I will also grab a couple of folding chairs and a small ice chest for sandwich stuff and throw that stuff in the truck. After I get every piece of tackle and gear I own, and every type of bait I can think of sorted, organised, and loaded, I turn around and see the large ice chest and several dozen plastic grocery bags containing a wide variety of picnic foods along with paper plates, plastic cups, a large bag of charcoal, and various other assorted necessities for a family picnic piled up and waiting to be loaded into the, now full, truck.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gun Control And The Second Amendment

Before deciding on being pro or against gun control legislation, read this one sentence slowly and carefully.

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." -The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States-

The Second amendment is as profound as it is ambiguous. It is the only constitutional amendment that states a specific and undeniable purpose for it's existence. That complex jumble of letters and punctuation alludes, but does not outwardly state, that there is a need of the people to have the weapons necessary to form or join an organised military for the purpose of securing or protecting the freedoms of the people. It also assumes that it is already lawful and even expected that the people are already allowed to own, keep, and carry weapons sufficient enough to form a military strong enough to protect the nation as a whole from another military power. It then states that owning and bearing arms is a right that can not be limited.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shotguns And Fishing Poles Turns One Year Old!

April 14 will mark the one year anniversary of publishing my first post The Urban Fishing Addiction and bringing Shotguns and Fishing Poles to life. I want to thank all of you guys who read this blog on a regular basis, and especially those of you who have given me a helping hand along the way.  When I started doing this I was looking for an outlet for my overwhelming need to talk about fishing and hunting with anybody I could get to sit still and listen to me. I also wanted to learn from people more experienced than myself, but didn't really have access to the few local clubs due to time constraints. When I went looking on the internet for more information on hunting and fishing I found tons of information in the form of blogs. Some were good, some were bad, but nearly all of them were written by regular people living regular lives.

As I searched through hundreds of blogs, I found a few from the west and even one or two from Arizona, but the vast majority are centered on the eastern half of the country. That inspired me to start writing about what does and doesn't work here in southern Arizona through my own adventures and experiences. Since then I have been having a blast writing about my passions, and learning new hunting and fishing techniques. In the coming year I have a ton more stuff I would like to learn about, and I already have a new kayak on the way to try out. I hope you will all enjoy reading my stories in the up coming year as much as I plan to enjoy writing about it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Two Lakes On Ruby Road, A Fly Fishing Odyssey Entry

For the first time this year I had a whole day to go fishing! I have been looking forward to doing this for over a week now, and I was about as excited as I get. I mainly wanted to get out and test my newly acquired fly fishing skills on the giant bluegill that always seemed so plentiful in Arivaca Lake, but fishing of any kind would do. I was out of bed a full half hour before the time I had set my alarm clock for. I started a pot of coffee and made some toast for breakfast before I went to work loading up the truck. I packed my brand new fly rod and tackle bag into the cab of the truck, and loaded my bait casters and a spinning rig in the bed with a folding chair and my large bass fishing tackle box. Arivaca is a bass lake after all, and being stuck on the shore I wanted to be prepared for any situation I might come across.  Then with the previous nights rain still falling in the form of a slight mist I pointed my old pick up truck south on interstate 19.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Fly Fishing Odyssey Begins, Rumors Of Rainbows and Browns

An Urban Rainbow From Last Winter
One of my fly fishing goals for this summer is to catch all five species of trout that live in Arizona waters. This will require me to do some exploration of places that are a bit off the beaten path. The Three non-native trout species; Rainbow, Brown, and Brook are prolific well established and easy to find in most of the highland streams and lakes, but the two native species of Gila Trout and Apache Trout are only found in certain streams in the larger mountain ranges of Arizona and New mexico These fish are rare and much more difficult to find due to the other three species taking over most of their native habitat. There is also another fish I wish to catch over the summer called the round tail chub. This is a warmer water species native to Arizona and highly protected as an endangered species. There is only one place, I know of, in Arizona to catch this fish and that area is only open for part of the year and is obviously catch and release only. Setting travel plans to the White mountains aside for a few weeks, the first thing I would like to do is explore some rumors I have heard about my local mountain range.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Fly Fishing Safety Tip

Any fisherman who has fished in popular areas or urban parks has had to deal with strange people standing directly behind them for no apparent reason, and with no intention of moving. The relatively short back cast of a modern bait caster or spinning rig can normally be altered enough to avoid hooking these people. A fly rod set up can have a long enough back cast to take this particular situation to the extreme making safety a much bigger concern. A less than vigilant fly fisherman may unintentionally give a teenage girl sitting at a picnic table 30 feet away a new caddis fly eye brow piercing.  Keeping track of the movements of nearby people can be a challenge when most of your attention is focused on not permanently disrupting your own field of vision with a fly. I try to make sure that there is nothing behind me when I am out there fly fishing, but I still catch trees and bushes all the time, and I am just waiting for the day I hook into an unseen toddlers nose with a woolly bugger on a back cast.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Back Yard Fly Fishing

I received my new Redington Crosswater fly rod outfit in the mail yesterday. This is a 9Ft, 5wt, 4Pc, medium action kit that comes complete with the rod, reel line, and a hard case for carrying it with. Redington recommends this rod as a good starter set for inexperienced fly fisherman like myself. I have been hearing great things about Redington equipment, so I ordered this directly from them because I do not have a near by shop that sells these.

I took it out of the box as soon as it arrived, and put it together. This rod was so surprisingly balanced and light in my hand that I couldn't resist stringing it up and trying it out. I spent the better part of 20 minutes in my back yard at 9:00 last night getting a feel for it by casting it over the neighbors wall. I bet they weren't too thrilled with me whipping their poodle from two yards over, but it was fun. This has a very different feel then my current fly rod. I can't wait to get out this weekend and try it on some water and chase some fish with it!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Fitting Arizona Quail Season Ender

The last day of the Arizona quail season dawned clear and clear and cold. The previous day's stormy weather gave way to cloudless blue skies and a light ground frost. Johny and I were watching the sunrise and munching on a couple of McGriddle sandwiches in the warmth of the truck while we discussed which direction we wanted to try hunting in. Being desert rats, neither of us wanted to go out into the cold so we were kind of wasting time while we ate the last of our breakfast. We finally decided on a general that way direction, turned off the truck, and stepped into the crisp morning. We unlocked the guns, and loaded our vests in near silence as we were listening closely for the tell tale chattering of Gambles quail waking up. This was the last hunt until October and we wanted to make the most of it. 

I was reaching into the truck for one last sip of coffee when we both turned toward a soft Chi-Caaa-Go sound coming from near by. We turned to each other and grinned sheepishly in anticipation of a good hunt. Both of us were excited as we finished getting our stuff together and set off toward the call stopping frequently to listen for more calls. We followed the birds for about a quarter of a mile when we finally got close enough to hear them chattering in a nearby bush. Johny and I split to either side of the large bush and crept up as silently as we could. Our guns were at the ready our wits were tight with the desire to knock one out of the sky, and we met each other on the far side of the bush without even hearing a bird. We searched for that covey for another half hour before we gave up on it. I have no idea where they went but we never saw them, and they kept silent after that. These birds had a doctorate in hunter avoidance and got away clean. 

A Green Spot Amid The Brown Of The Desert
We decided to go farther afield in this area than we had in previous hunts. The idea behind this was to see if we could find a covey that might be a little less educated then the closer to the road. After about an hour hiking out away from the familiar areas and found ourselves taking a break at the top of a hill. we hadn't heard a quail call since leaving the ghost covey. We were staring out towards the mountains and a striking feature jumped out at me. There was a small patch of vivid green right in the middle of all the brown foliage on the side of the mountain at the bottom of a large saddle. In the desert that can only mean that there is a pretty constant source of water in that spot. The two of us were needing an adventure, so we decided to go see if there really was any water up there.

This Type Of Moss Shouldn't Be Here
From our vantage point on the hill it didn't look like it was very far away, or a very steep climb. We were wrong on both counts. We hiked for about an hour and had to cut across several fairly deep washes and skirt some rather large rock piles before we made it to the base of the mountain, and then the hard part started. The bottom of the saddle was a narrow steep sided canyon. The sheer walls were about four feet across and rose about forty feet at their highest. starting at the base of the mountain the canyon zigged and zagged into hill side staying fairly flat on its sandy bottom and only rising where large rocks and debris created shelves in the canyon bottom. Then we reached what can only be described as a dry water fall.  rising almost vertically about twenty feet or so. at the top was our green spot, all we had to do was get up there.
A Look Down The Water Fall

We looked up at the top trying to decide if we really wanted to make the climb or not. I took a sip of water and was looking at a rock when I realized it had some moss growing on the underside of it. That little tidbit set the climb in motion. Now I had to see what was at the top so we took the ammunition out of our shotguns and scrambled up the steep rocky water fall. At the top we wed treated to some more damp sand and an incredible view of the valley spread out below us, but no water to speak of. Disappointed we headed back down the mountain.

The View From The Top Of The Waterfall
At the bottom of the hill we started heading out across a grassy knoll with a few scattered trees and about sixty yards out about thirty quail erupt out of a bush and head out over the next wash and land on the next hill. "Did you mark them?" I asked.

"Yes, I know where they went" came the excited reply.

"Well, lets go get them then" I said with a smile.

We carefully headed over to a large set of bushes where we saw them land. We got to within fifty yards of the bush and they flushed again. This time they split into two groups. The first group of about eight birds flew almost directly out in front of us across to the next hill. The second group flew to the right of us over a rather steep hill side and into a lower valley. We decided to follow the group that went out straight from us and started walking that direction. when we got to where they flushed a single erupted from a bush just a little ways ahead of me. out of instinct I shouldered, fired, and missed. In my excitement I didn't make sure I kept good form and my head stayed kind of high. I forgot to aim and missed the first shot I had all day. But the quail did something very strange for a quail. He stayed in flight and took a slow circle at about twenty yards out from me. This allowed me to carefully aim at him, and I missed him a second time! At this point I lowered my gun tipped my hat and thought "Well played little ninja quail, well played.

We topped the hill where the last covey flew and found it to be a patchwork of close but small bushes and prickly pear cactus. We slowly started dow the hill side with our shotguns shouldered and at the ready. We spaced ourselves about 25 feet apart and slowly zig-zagged down the hill side stopping beside every bush and cactus patch we passed trying to crowd the quail into a flush.  about ten yards down the hill I stopped at a bush for a second and listened carefully for any sounds that might lead me in the right direction. I knew in my gut that there were birds here somewhere, but they also knew we were there and were keeping quiet and still. I started walking again, and just as I got past the bush a bird flushed out of it directly behind me. I turned and fired at him, but he flew over the top of the hill and dissapeared unharmed. Again, in the excitement of the moment,  I had kept my head up instead of putting down on the cheek and getting a proper sight picture.

I heard Johny's shot and turned to see him flustered about missing his quail as well, that was the first shot he had ever gotten off at a bird, so he wasn't really all that heart broken about missing it. We canvased the area for another half hour trying to scare up a few singles, but had no more luck. Time was running low, so with reluctance we headed for the truck. We didn't come across any more quail on the long hike back so we loaded the truck kind of sad that we ended the last day of the season empty handed, but satisfied in the many miles we put on our boots. we also felt accomplished in having found a mossy, damp, (with no running water) waterfall we found.

This season is over for the year and between the three of us that were going this year, we managed to bag about a dozen or so quail in all. about a full meal for one of us, but we will cook them up at a bar-b-que and split them up so we can all share in the spoils of our efforts. Now it is definitely time for me to concentrate on improving my fly fishing skills, and Johny needs to work on college, and Tim will continue doing what he does least until the first fishing trip. I think Tim is itching to get up to Roosevelt Lake for some spring bass fishing. I plan on tagging along and trying to catch a few myself.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Cotton Tailed Quail Hunt.

North Side Foot Hills Of The  Santa Rita Mountain Range
 This entire quail hunting season I have been searching for a good area not to far from my house for Gamble's quail. There are quite a few articles about depicting the north side of the Santa Rita Mountains as a hot spot for quail hunting in Arizona, so I jumped on Google earth and went looking for some open land in that area. I found an area that looked promising. It had every thing good quail habitat should have. Plenty of open areas for them to run in, jagged canyons with flat sandy bottoms separating relatively flat plateau like areas with low berry bushes for food and shelter, and a lot of sparse grass, plus the added benefit of a couple of nearby (1-2 miles from where we were) high end neighborhoods with plenty of people that like to feed them. It was the perfect area to go check out so I called my son and set up a hunt for Saturday morning.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rick's Review: Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

Photo Courtesy Of Work Smart.
Just before Christmas The Outdoor Blogger Network and Work Sharp Tools selected me (among others) to review the Guided Field Sharpener. When the box arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find not only the sharpener, but also a t-shirt, a whole bunch of stickers with some rather catchy quotes, and a USB drive with some great professional materials that I could choose to use as part of my review. With all of that great stuff at my finger tips I was anxious and excited to get to work. Before I did, I gathered up a few blades and took a few pictures. Then the man in me took over and I did what any guy would do when he gets a new tool. I opened it up and went to work on the nearest knife I could find and tried to get it sharp enough to shave with.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Amazing Vanishing Act Of Gamble's Quail

The sun had just topped the hill as I pulled the truck into a wide clearing just beside the phone line access road we were driving along. Our anticipation was high as we started unloading the truck and preparing for our last Gamble's quail hunt of 2012. This was a brisk Saturday morning, but we both knew the temperature would quickly climb into the 70's as the morning wore on so we left the jackets in the truck and started loading up our vests with water and ammunition. We worked quietly and listened to the surrounding hills for the soft calls that would tell us where to start our hunt.