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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day Hope and Despair

I know, I know, I'm just the guy who writes about fishing but...

Random facts and thoughts. Half of which are awe inspiring and half of which will frighten the heck out of you...
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First an excerpt from The Story of World War II, one of the best books I've ever read. This is the story of Bob Conroy trapped in a foxhole during the Battle of the Bulge:

"About midnight I was sleeping - my buddy was on duty- and somehow or other, the Germans got within twenty yards of our position. Gordon got ripped by machine guns from roughly the left thigh thru the right waist. He then told me he was hit thru the stomach as well. Well, when your that far from your home base, and it's snowing and the temperature zero, you don't have a chance. We were cut off. The Germans had overrun our position and we were in foxholes by ourselves, so we both knew he was going to die. We had no morphine. We couldn't ease the pain and so I tried to knock him out. I took off his helmet, held his jaw up and just whacked it as hard as I could because he just wanted to be put out.  That didn't work and so I hit him up by the head with a helmet and that didn't work. Nothing worked. He slowly froze to death. Bleed to death.  The next day I looked at our gear and it looked as though I'd spent a day in a butcher shop. My clothes were all covered in blood. His clothes were all covered in blood and the territory we were in was all covered- it was a butcher shop."
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A recent poll found that 72% of students failed to correctly identify what war we fought against Hitler
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"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it."  ...John Adams
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According to a new poll by Marist, more than a quarter of Americans couldn't correctly identify the country from which the United States declared its independence.
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Ray "Hap" Halloran a captured B-29 pilot captured over Japan and his story:

Hap fell free from 27,000 ft. to approximately 3,000 ft. before opening his chute and landing in N.E. Tokyo. He was set upon immediately by civilians; and severe beatings followed. Mr. Halloran was near death when Japanese soldiers (MP's from Kempei Lao Secret Service Torture Prison) seized him from civilians and took him to Kempei Tai Torture Main Prison in Tokyo adjacent the moat at the north edge of the Imperial Palace grounds. Hap spent 67 days in solitary confinement in a cold, dark cage. Beatings and brutal interrogations followed. Hap lived through the March 10, 1945 fire raid on Tokyo were over 100,000 were killed by B-29s bombing from 0100 to 0400 a.m. The heat, smoke and firestorm were absolutely terrifying.
Then Hap was moved to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo where he was a prisoner in animal cage and tied to the front bars in his lion cage so civilians could march by and view a B-29 flyer. He was naked and black from non-washing and hair all over my face. Hap lost 90 lbs. and was covered with open running sores from flea-bed bug bites. He spent April 1, 1945 to August 1945 in Omori POW Camp contiguous SW Tokyo.         
On 8-29-45 Hap and others were liberated by marine/navy landing forces and taken aboard the hospital ship Benevolence in Tokyo Bay. Hap spent about a year in a hospital at Ashford General Hospital, in White Sulphur Springs, W.VA.
Hap received 39 years of nightmares after that ordeal. He later returned to Tokyo in 1984-85, 1989 and 1995, were he met Ambassador Mike Mansfield who was a great help. Hap was also reunited with a former guard (friendly) and many others including: Kaneyuki Kobayashi, former guard, Saburo Sakai, leading living Japanese fighter ace (now friend) and Isamu Kashiide, who shot down their B-29 over Tokyo on 1-27-45 and many others. Reconciliation and friendship finally eradicated the nightmares of 39 years.
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30% of Americans don’t know what the Holocaust was.

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During an attack by his battalion to capture German position son October 8, 1918, York's actions earned him the Medal of Honor. He recalled:
The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from... And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out... And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.
Under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early, four non-commissioned officers, including recently promoted Cpl. York, and thirteen privates were ordered to infiltrate behind the German lines to take out the machine guns. The group worked their way behind the Germans and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing a counter-attack against the U.S. troops. Early's men were contending with the prisoners when machine gun fire suddenly peppered the area, killing six Americans and wounding three others. The fire came from German machine guns on the ridge. The loss of the nine put Corporal York in charge of the seven remaining U.S. soldiers. As his men remained under cover, guarding the prisoners, York worked his way into position to silence the German machine guns. York recalled:
And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush... As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting... All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.
During the assault, six German soldiers in a trench near York charged him with fixed bayonets. York had fired all the rounds in his M1917 Enfield rifle, but drew his .45 colt pistol and shot all six soldiers before they could reach him.
German First Lieutenant Paul J├╝rgen Vollmer, commander of the First Battalion, 120th Landwehr Infantry, emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered in English to surrender the unit to York, who accepted. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines.
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 33 percent of respondents to a Newsweek poll didn’t know when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, 65 percent couldn’t say what happened at the Constitutional Convention, and 80 percent had no idea who was president during World War I.
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Marine Sergeant Dan Daly entered World War I as one of the United States’ most famous soldiers, having already won the Medal of Honor on two separate occasions for his service during the Boxer Rebellion and the U.S. occupation of Haiti. The 44-year-old continued to write his name into the history books during June 1918’s Battle of Belleau Wood, a month-long offensive that was one of the first major World War I battles fought by U.S. troops. On June 5, Daly bravely extinguished a fire on the verge of igniting a cache of explosive ammunition. Two days later, as his Marines were being shredded by enemy machine gun fire, Daly urged them to leave their cover and counterattack by supposedly screaming the famous words, “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?!”
Daly’s near-suicidal courage was put on display once again on June 10, when he singlehandedly charged a German machine gun nest, killing its commander and taking 14 prisoners. That same day, he made several trips into “no man’s land” to drag wounded troops to safety. Daley was wounded later that month during a second solo rescue mission, and suffered two more injuries during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in October 1918. While he was again recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions at Belleau Wood, the military balked at the prospect of any soldier receiving the award three times, and he was instead given the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Medaille Militaire. General Smedley Butler—himself a double Medal of Honor winner—would later describe Daly as, “the fightingest Marine I ever knew.”
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In the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, nearly 80% of 12th graders selected the wrong answer when asked which country was North Korea’s ally in fighting the U.S. during the Korean War. Even worse, it was a multiple choice question, allowing students to choose between the Soviet Union, Japan, China, and Vietnam.

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The stories of heroism and bravery above are just a few. Again going back to The Story of World War II by Donald Miller there are hundreds of stories in that one book alone just like the one's above. The incredible deeds done to protect our freedom boggle the mind. What equally boggles the mind is the fact that soon, soon, they will all be forgotten. I'm afraid the once proud country that stood "as a shining light on a hill", the freest country history has ever seen, soon that country will be unrecognizable. Let's all take a moment or two this weekend to remember why there is a holiday called Memorial Day.





Saturday, May 16, 2015

Heraclitus and the White Stripes

It's obvious to me the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus was a river fisherman. After all it was he who coined the famous phrase you can never step into the same river twice. Heraclitus also suggests god, like an oracle, neither declares or hides, but sets forth in signs. Again obviously alluding to the fish gods we are always making reference to. With no hard and fast rules the best we can hope for is to scry the signs and cast our puny offerings to the river.
Lately in my little part of SW Ohio the signs have pointed away from Micropterus dolomieu the Warrior and towards M. chrysops X M. saxtallis, the Hybrid, the Wanderer. My beloved smallmouth have spawned and the big girls for the most part are feeling a bit shy. Sure you still see posts evey couple days of someone landing a big smallmouth. It is fishing after all with no hard and fast rules. But for me and my style of fishing right now is just about the hardest time of the year to go out and intentionally catch a big smallmouth bass. So I take a mini vacation of sorts and chase that other vicious killer that stalks our rivers, the bass with the white stripes.
The problem here is that hybrids are great nomads. The tail that was filled to the rim with bass busting bait this morning might not have a hybrid within a half mile of it this afternoon. Instead we make educated guesses, postulate wild ass scientific theories and scry the signs.
Which is what led me to here. A rock bar, really a sand and gravel bar with a swift current flowing crosswise across its front and sweeping over the end before curling up behind in a big slow eddy. It's just breaking daylight, the coming day a long low tang colored band on the opposite bank. What's led me here is a dazzling profusion of small baitfish, not the bigger shad normally scouted out when looking for stripes but small minnows. But here in huge numbers and something else is here. Seemingly always out of the corner of my eye, out on the margin of wherever I happen to be looking at the moment, something is chasing the minnows. A spray of silver minnows scatters in a wave as fish strike at them from below. For a frantic few moments I try to see and cast to the busts but soon realize its futility and instead concentrate on making good presentations to the seam where fast water pouring over the bar meets slow. My lure of choice is a small curly shad, a
swimbait that's clear with silver glitter to try and capture somewhat the essence, the quiddity of a small minnow. Just as I begin to doubt myself the drag comes to life and the rod bends under the strain of a fishes run.
Like all battles with stripes of any sort the fish at first fools me into thinking it is bigger than it really is. I finally land it in a
shallow spot on the back of the bar and as I work the jighead free out of the corner of my eye I catch the sight of minnows skipping wildly running for lives from the predators below. Today at least, the fish gods are smiling...



Friday, May 8, 2015

Change of venue...

Well it was two or three hours after daylight. I'd left the house before daylight and I didn't have much to show for it. the rapidly warming water temperatures mean that the big smallies we had been running into here for the last couple weeks had packed up and left town. I think I had caught two or three since daylight and they were all small. I had caught a shovelhead on a curly shad which was pretty cool but I still had all day to fish so time to get out of Dodge.
When I got to the next place and headed down over the bank a great blue heron and two green herons flushed from the river bank. Sure enough as I neared the water a sheet of minnows scattered jumping wildly. Not a big shiner type minnow but little bitty crappie minnow sized ones. Ever little bit as I rigged up you could see them scatter as fish attacked them from below. I was feeling pretty good about moving.  :)
I tied on a three inch silver flaked grub to try to somewhat match the bait. On about the third cast the drag screamed as a hybrid whacked the jig. For a couple hours the bite was pretty good I caught five or six hybrids, three or four small smallmouths and a couple largemouths. It was getting pretty hot time for a siesta. all down the streambank walking in you could see spawning carp rolling in the shallows. Time for a sacrifice. After cubing a small carp into one inch chunks I waded in waist deep below a twisty set of runs and began throwing the chunks of bait on a hook with a couple spiltshot above it up and letting it drift back down to me. About every ten minutes the drift would be interrupted by a channel cat. wading along nice and cool and hammering channels it doesn't get much better than that. And much more basic, that's pretty much the way grandpa caught them sixty years ago out of the river. Fun and no better way to learn how to read a river. Drifting bait in and out of eddies and runs teaches you whats going on under there.
Finally it began to edge over towards evening, back to the spot. Away goes the great blue heron again while the little green heron just flies up into a tree thirty yards away. Pretty soon he flitted down and carefully edged down the side of a big rock and began to put away minnows like he was bottomless. I don't know where he put them all. Every little bit minnows would scatter as bass, white bass and hybrids attacked them. It was a horror movie if your a little fish I guess. It was a five star one show to me though. Sure enough the action picked up right where it left of this morning. I guess I caught nine or ten more hybrids before dark with a mixed bag of small smallmouth, decent largemouth and some white bass thrown in. I got home 13 hours after I left, a very tired but very happy camper
 









 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

It's go time...

Some of the better fish from the last week/week and  half.
Fake your own death, call in sick to work, tell your wife the lawnmower is in the shop.... In other words do whatever it takes to go fishing NOW. It might not ever be better fishing than it is right now. These photos are from the last twenty four hours. Only the close up of the smallie is a repeat, those are different fish. Oh and I guess the run is on, I kept catching stripey things on my smallie jigs.










Tuesday, April 21, 2015

If you get a chance to pick up a copy of THE OUTDOOR guide to the tri-state there's an article on local fishing by me that I thought turned out pretty well....

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wow, what a day...

Today Dan, Dave and I went to umm...that one place and did a little fishing in the rain. The water temp started out at 59 and was 61 the last time Dave checked it on his electric temperature ray gun. ( I was glad I forgot my $1 dollar store thermometer at home) and a great color. In other words perfect for the first time in what seemed like forever. After a bit of hunting for a stout limb to use as a wading staff we headed across the death riffle. If this riffle was anywhere else I'd never risk wading it but on the other side lies smallmouth heaven. I think twice last year this riffle got me and that was in lower water than this. Somehow after each of us feeling like we were going to buy the farm we all made it across relatively dry. We usually spread out a bit and I'm not 100% certain what everybody threw all the time but I'm pretty sure the hands down winners were grubs and curly shads for everybody. The action wasn't fast and furious but it was steady all day and the average was amazing. I started off with a smallie in the 16 inch range and a nice channel. Then I got lucky and landed a gorgeous 25 1/2 inch saugeye after it gave me a scare by going down the super fast water of the death riffle. And then an hour or so later Dan and I had the prettiest double I've ever seen. After a great fight I taped my smallie at 19 1/2 inches and Dan's was just a bit smaller! 
I rested a bit and threw out a nightcrawler catching a small catfish and watched Dave catch a hybrid striper, a largemouth, a smallmouth and a Kentucky spot so I know he was catching fish pretty good also. About then Dan caught a great hybrid that I'm guessing went 25 inches. Then after like only seven or eight hours of hard wading in the pouring rain Dan and Dave left. I sat for a bit again resting and catching a couple more small channels on nightcrawlers and waiting out the rain. Which miraculously stopped with an hour or so left of daylight. I caught a few more decent smallmouth with a couple in the 15 or 16 inch range when a dandy grabbed my jig right at my feet and danced across the surface. 19.25 inches! What a day! Exhausted  I headed home where my wife and granddaughter made fun of my for looking like a drownded rat.







Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A couple exciting things happening now....

two things happening now that I'm pretty pumped about:


I've started writing a monthly column for www.buckeyeflyfishers.com
in their newsletter "The Buffer".

And this Sunday night at seven I'll be a guest on Fox Sports 980 WONE radio show talking fishing.
www.wone.com