The Carp and the Duck

Well it is cold and rainy.  It was a perfect day to stay in.  We got up, ate breakfast, went to church, picked up Lane and laid around.  I have not been fishing.  I don’t have a report for you all so I think I will just tell a fishing tale.

I was blessed to have so many outdoorsmen and women in my life.  I spent much of my youth in the woods or near water.  I think a lot of folks in this area have been blessed in the same way.  I want to talk a little about Conley Bottom.  For those of you familiar with Lake Cumberland most of you will know where Conley Bottom is.  It is situated in Wayne County KY, my uncle Ralph Thornton and I spent days and days there.  We would fish for blue gill near a big willow tree off to the left of the dock, between the dock and the campground.  We caught tons of fish around that tree and we sure ate a bunch of them.

A typical trip would begin early. Monk, as we lovingly called uncle Ralph Thornton,  would show up, we would load up and drive to Louie’s bait shop.  We would pick up a snack, a canned Gatorade apiece some worms and head out.  Monk drove a 1978 red Chevrolet Chevette which was garage kept and still in great shape when I left for WKU.  He would load his old fiberglass rods paired with old green Johnson reels.  The reels were religiously spooled with Stren Mono clear blue florescent.  We would tie a number 2 gold crappie hook on, a split shot, and a bobber.  We would be set up to fill a stringer.

I remember him always cautioning me to watch for snakes, while I never wanted to get bit I would have liked to see one.  I would play in the rocks and in the edge of the water.  Looking for any type of critters I could find.  A water dog or a crawfish was always an exciting find.  I fished a lot too.  Monk never was the be still, be quiet kind of a fisherman.  He understood I was a kid and loved the wonderment a child can bring to an outdoor adventure.  He let me reel every fish he caught in.  He would let me hold the fish and examine the fish.  He also had me help in the cleaning process.  I would stand in a chair and scale while he did the knife work.  We would do dissections and have lessons on what parts did what.

I hung into a huge carp one day.  It ran and pulled up and down the bank. I walked, Monk coached.  My brother had caught a big carp once and I wanted to beat him.  After a long battle it broke the line.  I was very upset, Monk tried to calm me down by saying we could not eat it any way.  I did not care about eating that thing I wanted to brag about it.  This carp taught me not to force a fish, it was the first big fish I had a hold of.  The next lesson the carp taught me was not about fishing, it was about Mothers.  It just so happened there was a mother duck and a bunch of babies on the bank up from where I lost the fish.  I wanted to sneak up on them and catch a baby duck.  Monk said thats not a good idea but go for it.  (thinking it would swim off)  I sneaked up and as I got closer I made my move.  All the ducks made a move for the water one little duck tripped and i scooped it up.  It of course went crazy peeping.  Here comes momma duck and she was out for blood.  I threw the little duck in the water and ran.  She gave a little chase but once she learned the baby was fine she went back in the water with the babies.  Monk laughed, I cried.  Mommas will sure protect their babies.  I remember talking to Monk about not wanting to hurt the little duck I just wanted to pet it.  He told me no matter your intention that Mother duck did not know, she just did what came natural.  Her response to the her baby being in possible danger.

Life is much like that duck situation.  Sometimes we set out with good intention and end up hurting someone.  It is times like that we need to lean on grace, and prayer.  Like that duck, people can be reactive and protective if they feel threatened.  I think it is inevitable as a human to sometimes fall short.  I have found if we own up to our short comings with honesty and humility it helps people find the grace they need.  Another thing is when we feel threatened or wronged, we should be willing to offer grace and love to those who have wronged us.  When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment?  He said Love the Lord God with all your heart.  And love your neighbor as you love yourself.  The reply to Jesus was something like but who is my neighbor?  Jesus said the real question is, are you a good neighbor?  Mathew 22:34-36

This is just the tip of the iceberg on the things I learned about life in the outdoors.  I will share more of them with you all as time goes by.  I hope this reminds you of someone in your life.  Ralph Thornton was the most Christ-Like man I ever knew.  He loved people, he worked hard and prayed harder.  His faith was as big as this great country.  He was solid and honest.  Just plain and simple the best man I ever knew.

Thanks for taking the time to let me share bits of my life with you all.  Good Luck and God Bless.  image

It is Cold!

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People are upset with this cold blast of air we are dealing with in South KY.  I for one am excited to see it.  It will bring the water temperatures down and heat up the bite on Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow Lake.

A cold grey day is what I like to look for.  When the conditions and water temperature line up a person can boat some of the biggest fish of there life this time of year.  I personally look for wood cover or a slide, a lot of times the fish will really school up deep this time of year.  If you can get them fired up action can be fast and fierce.  Finding them and getting them eating at times can be frustrating. It pays to do your home work.

There are many different ways to be successful in cold water.  Live bait, NED rigs, Silver Buddy, crawling a jig, crank baits.  All will produce and all are fun.  My favorite for this time of year is the NED.  Those of you who have been reading my work have heard my NED success stories before.  For cold water it is a killer.  If its crappie you are after live minnows are almost impossible to beat this time of year.  Long lining shiners on Dale Hollow, or Cumberland with a split shot rig is a good option too.  The hot thing going now is the good old float and fly.  Both Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow offer trophy fish and this method is deadly.

You can find fish on long points, on bluffs and around fallen trees or brush.  Old slides are always good provided the wood is still there.  That is where doing your homework comes into play.  Different situations will warrant a change in technique.  So I will have a silver buddy if I think a shad die off has happened. (hint cold weather brings this on)  I would think it has hit.  If you can find where chad have been holding rip that think off the bottom and hold on.  NED is good for this too, but I usually cast open my bail and let it free fall.  Always be watching your line.   The hits will be violent and fast from bass.  Crappie can be different. I have caught them on both these baits but they tend to be a bit softer in there strike.

So in Closing I hope when this weather turns warmer you all are ready to go get them.  I welcome any questions about techniques, or what I look for.  I also hope everyone makes a resolution to fish more with their families in the new year.

(Feature picture is Jason Bean with a huge Dale Hollow Musky)  Congratulations Jason,

He caught it on 6 lb test line on a spinning rod.

Good Luck and God bless!