Friday, January 18, 2013

Ice Fishing Video

The much anticipated (probably not, but I will tell myself that) video footage from the GoPro camera!  I am also playing around with some different video editing software, so I put it into a trailer type video.  Lots more footage to come as I figure everything out!  If anybody has any thoughts or comments on how to improve either the video footage or the blog itself, let me know.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trapline 2012

    Trapping has long been a part of the American heritage and was the original basis for most of the early exploration.  Fur was often regarded as currency in these early days and the trappers of the time were known to disappear into large watersheds for months at a time in pursuit of beaver pelts.  While most modern day trappers are not so dedicated, but rather pursue the fur bearers in more of a recreational manner, there are a few motivated individuals who still pursue the fur in the deep woods for long periods of time.
    I am in the category of recreational trappers who pursue the fur bearers of Northern Maine on a part time basis.  I got my start in trapping thanks to my uncle Bob Hersey.  As a kid we would always go visit around the holidays and I was awe struck by the piles of fur in his shed.  My fascination grew and then Bob offered for me to tag along on his trapline.  I quickly agreed, jumping at the opportunity and desperate to learn more about this fascinating hobby.  His patience was unending as I asked question after question soaking up information faster than a sponge.  I quickly learned that when trapping, every morning feels like Christmas, as you never know what might await you.  After tagging along once, I was hooked.  I proceeded to take the Trapping Safety Course, which is a requirement for all new trappers in Maine, learning additional information from the instructor Jerry.  I wanted to go back and take the course every year, as I had so much fun.  That first fall, Bob very generously offered to set a joint line with me.  I know he did so sacrificially, because had I not been hanging traps next to his, the likelihood of his catches would have been increased, but he showed me the ropes and I had a blast.  We trapped muskrats, mink, otter, fisher and beaver.  I had a very successful first season, in large part due to the fact that Bob guided me and taught me how to read animal sign.  I was familiar with looking at deer sign, but the small signs that I would have otherwise missed Bob pointed out.  He also showed me how to handle the fur after I caught it.  The painstaking process of preparing a beaver hide, the delicate cuts on a mink to miss the scent glands and skinning muskrat quickly were all lessons that were taught and committed to memory.  Check out the picture below for the fur picture from my first season.

My First Trapline
     I have trapped a little almost every year, only missing one or two years when I was in college and not able to find a place to put up my fur and store my traps.  This past year I had decided to do a little more targeting fisher and marten.  I knew that I would not have the time to devote this past year for canines or to put up any beaver catches, so I focused my efforts on what I could handle.
      Starting the first week of November, I started hanging steel at every opportunity I had, before work or on my lunch break and before I knew it, I had a respectable trapline set up.  I tried to keep about two dozen traps up for most of the season.  I was very pleased with my results, as I had a minimal amount of time to devote to trapping and all in all put up some good numbers.  I like to look back at the pictures and see the transition as the season progressed.  The season started with temps up into the 40's and rainy then got gradually colder until we finished the season with more snow than I could navigate through with my four-wheel drive pickup.  The season ended with the following total - 19 muskrats, 10 raccoon, 5 fisher, 5 marten, 2 mink, 1 beaver and one weasel.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Opening Day - Ice Fishing 2013

The first day of 2013, found me waking with the sun to do a little “hard water” exploring, often referred to as ice fishing.  Most of the lakes here in Northern Maine open to ice fishing on January 1st and it has long been a tradition of mine to fish opening day.  This was something I always used to do with my grandfather, so I am trying to carry on the tradition and get out and set my “flags”.  Brent and I headed out to check the ice thickness and drill some holes.  As we left, the mercury was hovering in the single digits and the wind was howling.  The windchill was somewhere around 24 below zero Fahrenheit which is hand numbing to say the least.  As we eased onto the ice the presence of several ice shacks gave us a sense of security, but we still stayed close to shore as we ventured past the shacks to the unclaimed territory.  After we had given everyone a wide berth, I drilled a test hole and found about 9 inches of ice.  Six inches of it was the nice black ice that is the strongest and the top three inches were the slush ice that has a white appearance to it.  I urge caution to everyone as the venture out, as there were spots of only 1-2" of ice.  We proceeded to setup our "base camp" and start setting out flags.  We only had a couple of traps up when Brent had a flag.  Running back, we saw the line flying off the spool indicating the sure sign of a running salmon.   Brent set the hook and quickly pulled in the yards of line as we anxiously awaited a glimpse of the silver streak at the other end of the line.  It's arrival at the hole showed the undersized fish, so we quickly snipped the line to let the fish grow.  It was in the 13" range.  We continued setting flags and just before we finished Brent had another flag.  This fish had taken lots of line and the smelt, but pulled a disappearing act as it was not tugging on the other end of the line when we arrived.  We finished setting and then it was my turn for a flag.  I quickly set the hook and pulled the fish in hand over hand only slowing as the flash got nearer the hole.  This fish was larger and a quick measure put it at 16 1/2", which meant it would have been my only fish I could keep over 16".  As it was still early in the day this beauty was released to swim another day.  The rest of the day was slow as we had a few flags with some bait thieves and I iced a large yellow perch.  Brent managed to pick up another of the undersized fish which we pulled out for a quick photo op before sliding it back into the icy depths.  A quick reminder to everyone that if you are planning on releasing a fish, keep it in the water as much as possible.  The fish do not fair well when they are pulled out onto the ice.  I brought along my new GoPro camera and got some really nice footage.  Check back soon for the compiled video as well as my trap line post which is almost finished!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope this finds everyone doing well, recovering from the hectic holiday season.  I know for me, the brightly colored packages under the Christmas tree produced several outdoor related items that I can hardly wait to try out!  Mad Bomber, GoPro, Abu Garcia and Cabela’s are just naming a few of the brands I had under the tree.  This year, I am also going to try and write some more reviews about products that I am trying and using to let everyone know what I have discovered about the products you should or shouldn’t count on for your outdoor adventures.  Stay tuned, as I am writing a piece about my trap line this fall and also opening day of ice fishing, which should be up by the end of the week!