Monday, August 29, 2011

Road Rage

     Hello interweb. I was in my car today, when I saw someone make the mistake of getting into the wrong lane and trying to come back over. Someone was in his blind spot, and luckily he saw them and heard them honk their horn so an accident was avoided. But the person who was inconvenienced did not see it as a lucky avoidance of someone's mistake. He continued to blare his horn, threw his hands up like Britney Spears after her latest break up and rolled down his window to begin screaming at this person like a coke addict on "Cops". After he "kindly" let the person over, he continued to blare his horn for about a half a mile until the point at which he switched lanes to run his super powerful four cylinder 2002 bottom of the line Lexus around this person just to cut him off.

     Why is it that getting behind the wheel of a car automatically makes most people turn into the love child of Mel Gibson and a batshit-crazy racist redneck with a goat beard? Oh wait that's still Mel. So the love child of Mel Gibson and a Nazi. I really think that I have had civil conversation with someone who let me go before them in line at a store because I had less things than he did, and then been flipped off in the parking lot by the same person. The transformation just doesn't make sense. Maybe I missed the government issued mandate that all persons must light their genitalia on fire for the duration of all driving operations. There are far more ridiculous laws in our legal system.

     I can't rationalize this phenomenon at all, but I really hate that it happens so often and to so many of us, so I'm asking for your help. Why do people seem to become raging lunatics as soon as they step behind the wheel of a car? 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Fishing Adventure (Deer Bait)

     Hey interweb. The other day I stopped by a local river to do some fishing while I had a little bit of spare time. It is one of my favorite spots to fish because it is shallow enough to wade around for a decent distance, it is convenient, and there are a lot of downed logs and things that provide good cover and consequently good places to fish. I usually just stop by when I am on my way to or from something and have some time to waste with nothing else to do. So I pulled into the gravel lot to a skidding stop like I always do, pulled out the fishing pole that stays in my car, and my backpack full of gear. I put my dollar store crocks on and headed down to the water. I fished for about 45 minutes, caught a few small mouth bass, some blue gill and other sunfish. I looked at my phone to check the time, and saw that I had about an hour left to fish. I decided to go the opposite direction for the remainder of my time to find some new areas to fish.
     As I turned around, I saw it. A huge 12 pt buck, a deer that easily weighed in excess of 175 lbs standing in the middle of the river taking a drink. I decided to try and just mosey around him and try to go unnoticed because deer can be quite aggressive. I thought it was going to work until I got to within about 100 feet of him, at which point he slowly raised his head to address me. I stood there, as still as I possibly could hoping that he would go back to ignoring my presence. He just kept staring. I thought that maybe he just needed to watch me go by to make himself comfortable so I started to move in his general direction again. At this point, he lowered and raised his head to display his antlers in a "do you see these?! I will cut you!" kind of display. Again I stopped, hoping that I wasn't about to be mauled in revenge for the death of Bambi's mom. Trying to control my elevating heart rate, I slowly started to walk backwards against the current. I tripped over a log and fell into the water, and he took a few quick steps forward. I did the only thing that I could think of, standing up and making myself look as big as possible.

     Luckily, the deer stopped. My decision was working so I continued with my ape pose and started to yell. The deer looked behind him, and started to walk away. At this point I knew that I could escape, went straight to the bank of the river and swiftly walked to my car while continuously looking over my shoulder. Who would have  thought that a deer can be so scary when they weren't staring blankly into your headlights? I can't really say that I learned a lesson, but it will definitely be a fishing trip that I remember. It always amazes me how seemingly mundane activities can turn out to be things that you will never forget. If you have a story of a mundane activity that turned into something scary, awesome, or just memorable please share it in the comments!  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Edited Media

     Hey interweb. The other day, I was watching the show "South Park" on a channel called WGN. During the show, a black screen came up saying something along the lines of "this image of the character defecating has been edited for your protection." At first I didn't know why it angered me so much to miss out on a cartoon's bowel movement, but then it dawned on me. Who are they to decide what I need and don't need to be protected from viewing? Now I know there were no secrets to life in that characters explosive diarrhea, but it is the principle of the matter. One of the greatest tools of oppressive governments is withholding information. This was the purpose of the infamous Nazi book burnings. They didn't want their citizens to know that there are better ways of life out there, that there are better governments out there, or that many beneficial advancements are being created beyond their borders.  Denial of information and misinformation are some of the most powerful tools in the act turning people into nothing more than cattle. If ideas cannot be spread and information not attained, then how can there be progress? How can human beings protect their rights? How can humans fulfill their right to be informed in the truth in all things? How can people escape oppression?

     Another thing is the types of things that people of power have decided that the public needs to be "protected" from. A pair of breasts and a bowel movement must be edited, things that all human beings have or experience, but it is perfectly fine to see malicious and intense acts of violence. Sex is somehow more offensive to the average person than seeing someone have their face shot off by a serial killer on a TV show. Oh and heaven forbid someone make a reference to GOD or say a curse word. These things are also far more damaging to a young child than teaching him how to fight, kill, or aggressively display anger and hate. If you are more offended by a naked human who has the same form as yourself than you are of seeing someone have their throat slit, maybe you should spend your time trying to transform yourself into a dairy cow instead of watching TV. 

     This goes right along, in my opinion, with seeing that message after you try to post a message on someone's blog. "Your message will appear after blog owner approval" or whatever it says. I understand that it is your page, but who are you to decide what I am and am not allowed to contribute to the discussion on your PUBLIC page.  If you are that concerned about what people will post on your page, make it a private page, don't allow comments, or better yet don't be on the internet. The last being a very big loss because so many people have so much to share and some of these "edited" blogs have great posts and images that they share with everyone. Don't edit people's minds and voices because you are afraid of offending someone. People have the right to offend and be offended, and share ALL information and ideas. They shouldn't be constrained to what you deem "appropriate." For these reasons, my comments will never be edited. If it weren't for people who came out and spoke against oppressive forces, we would still think that the earth is flat, we would think that the earth is the center of everything, we would not have modern medicine, we would not have equal rights, and America would not exist just to name a few things.

     As you can tell, missing out on this cartoon bowel movement really struck a nerve. In my opinion these social stigmas, embarrassment, and hatred of everything that makes us human are a primary root of some of the most troublesome social problems and individual psychological problems present in our society because it teaches us that the most innate parts of being human are disgusting and inappropriate. So what do you think? Should people be "protected" from the commonplaces of life that we are embarrassed of or offended by while extreme acts of hate and violence are considered good entertainment? 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Everyday Science #1 ("Zero G")

     Hey interweb. So for those of you who watched some of the last shuttle mission (and felt a part of your childhood be ripped out of your chest, stepped on, burned, and urinated on as the last shuttle touched down) you undoubtedly noticed that the astronauts seemed to float through the shuttle. I'm sure that you have known this since you were a kid with dreams of being an astronaut. It is especially awe inspiring when they pour out liquids, you see one astronaut one way and another one upside down, they show you what happens when "nature calls," or you see how they sleep. These effects are often referred to "zero G" or zero gravity. This gives the illusion that somehow when you are moving high and fast enough to break out of Earth's upper atmosphere that gravity simply turns off. This is not true in the least. You may have noticed when mission control was giving status updates they would say things like "Atlantis is now 700 miles down range moving at 14,000 miles per hour." And a lot of 17 year olds think to themselves about how their 1999 Honda Civic is faster than that now that it has a coffee can muffler. But really, 14,000 MILES PER HOUR. To put this in perspective, the speed of sound at sea level is only 768 miles per hour and the shuttle will continue on to over 17,000 miles per hour in low earth orbit. That is over 20 times the speed of sound! But back to how this relates to zero gravity.

     Think about throwing a ball. If you throw a ball it goes some distance before it hits the ground. If you throw it a little harder it goes a little farther. If you throw it faster still it goes even farther. Well if you were (insert favorite strong super hero) and threw that ball as fast as you could, it would continuously fall around the curvature of the earth making an "orbit" and come back and smack you in the head. That speed is between 17,000 and 18,000 miles per hour for low earth orbit. Now that you know how orbits work, you need one more piece of information to understand zero gravity.

     Think about what its like to be in your car going 60 mph. Inside your car it seems like you are sitting still but when you look at the things going by they look like they are going 60 mph (or 120 mph if its oncoming traffic). This is because RELATIVE to the car, you are traveling at the same speed and in the same direction so it seems like there is no force acting on you but gravity and you aren't moving. RELATIVE to the trees you are moving 60 mph so it seems like they are moving at 60 mph. This is the same concept as astronauts in "zero G." The astronauts are falling at the same speed and direction as the space shuttle in orbit so relative to the space shuttle they are not moving. Now the difference between the car and the shuttle is simply direction. Gravity "pushes" everything towards the center of mass causing the gravitational force. When you are in your car, gravity is pushing you or making you "fall" into your seat (down towards the center of the Earth). But if you and the car were lifted and dropped the car would also be falling and you would be falling at the same speed as the seat so there is no longer a force to hold you into it. This is why astronauts seem to float. Relative to the space craft, the astronauts are falling at the same speed as the shuttle in a continuous orbit so gravity is not "turned off" it is just having an equal effect on two relative objects falling at the same speed. In other words, the reason you are stuck against the ground and feel weight is because gravity has something to push you against, but if you are falling, gravity has nothing to push you against so you feel "weightless" or zero gravity and astronauts are simply continuously falling and not moving relative to their spacecraft making them appear to "float."

     Now maybe if we could get a few more people in the world to think about and appreciate these kind of things, then they wouldn't have so much time to think about how much they hate every other person's religion, color, or country. But what do I know?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Little Bit on Where Humans Came From

     Hey interweb. Today I decided to build a little on some of the notions in the Meteorite DNA post and discuss a little bit about where we come from. I just wanted to share some more knowledge. I promise that this is not a post about aliens altering monkey DNA, or superman pods, or even religion. I also promise to bore you as little as possible with a bunch of physics ramblings (I love my physics classes in college) but there are a few things that I think everyone will find interesting. In the Meteorite DNA post, I shared some evidence that pre-organic compounds like amino acids which are long molecules that link together and form proteins are readily formed and transported through space on meteorites. But you may ask "where did the building blocks of these molecules come from?" Then again maybe you aren't a nerdo like me, but if you are, I have an answer for your question! Scientists believe that not too long after the big bang and after the initial expansion (the part that causes the most problems in the theory), the first atoms began to form. Look at your periodic table of the elements and you will see that hydrogen is the smallest and simplest atom. Hydrogen is also the most abundant element in the universe. So even for simplistic reasons without any math, modern physics, or magic thinking you can come to understand why hydrogen was formed first. Now when you have hydrogen in space, it will clump together due to the laws of gravity.

When enough hydrogen clumps together the gravity in the clump increases forcing the atoms closer and closer together and it starts to heat up (the gas laws). Now once it gets hot and dense enough with enough gravity, the atoms are actually forced to fuse together in a process known as nuclear fusion and they form helium (a "noble" and inert gas) and now you have a star (like our sun). Skip ahead a few billion years and the star starts to run out of hydrogen (star fuel) to fuse into helium. The outward pressure created by the energy released becomes less and a lot of hydrogen (star fuel) falls into the "reactor core" very quickly leading to a supernova explosion (if the star is large enough and this is also the source of black holes.) Our sun is not large enough to supernova just FYI. Now when all of this hydrogen falls into the core, there is a HUGE increase in pressure, gravity, and heat just before the star explodes. This is the time period in which heavier elements are created because the helium and hydrogen are forced to fuse even further because of all the extra "heat and pressure." The elements that I am talking about include carbon, iron, calcium, oxygen, potassium, magnesium, etc. Most of these should sound familiar because they are what make up our world and even OUR BODIES! This is the point that I was leading up to. How amazing is it that we imperfect humans are actually made up of stardust?   

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Economic Crisis Controversy

     Hello interweb. I am going to bring up a controversial topic today because it is one that is waning on everyone's  mind, the United States continued economic crisis. Now, because of the complexity of the subject and the general ignorance that most people (my self definitely included) have on the topic as a whole, I want to discuss one facet of the "crisis" that affects each and every one of us, and with which we all have direct and tangible experience. This is education. First I just want to state a few facts that show the depth of the problem. In the United States, only 7 out of 10 students obtain a high school diploma. This is the fifth lowest completion rate out of 30 O.E.C.D. countries. United States children scored lower than about 20 out of 30 of the wealthiest nations given a standardized test in both math and science. Education in these two disciplines are unarguably responsible for the majority of economic growth.

     Now to start with, there are really four simplified and general things that make the education system "work." These are teachers, students, law/standards, and funding. Teachers blame the government, students blame the teachers, the government blames the teachers AND the students...etc. One or all of these parts obviously has a problem and is in need of reform. But who is right?  Now for those few that want to blame funding of public education you need only to look around at how many (public) high schools and now grade schools are putting up $100,000 electric signs, sports stadiums that rival a small college, and their access to technology and compare this to the countries that are scoring far better than our students. I don't think it is a lack of money causing US education to deteriorate. Now for the teachers who blame policy makers, most of them have very valid points. Giving only one example for the sake of keeping this post kind of short is the no child left behind act which was initiated by President Bush's administration. In VERY basic and oversimplified terms, what this law enacted was fiscal incentives and punishments for public schools based on student performance. Sounds great right? No. Put yourself in the situation of a school in a low income area that already doesn't have much funding and has many students that come from broken homes with parents who also lack education beyond high school in many cases. These are the students, teachers, and families who need the MOST help. They do not need what comparatively little they have to be cut even further, because they will inevitably be  among the lower scorers on average. For the officials who want to blame the teachers, I have some news. How can you blame teachers who have to teach kids who refuse to be taught. I know several elementary teachers very well, and one in particular had seventeen students at the age of 6 and there were over 40 suspensions in the school year. These were for actions that ranged from assaulting the teacher, assaulting other students, bringing knives to school, throwing chairs at administration, sexually inappropriate actions, constant cursing....the list goes on. These kids were 6! How can you blame a teacher for having difficulties teaching kids like this? (although this teacher's class left with scores that were above average) Discipline is taught at home. I know if I had acted like that at that age I would have been spanked and grounded and had the idea continually made very clear that the behavior is not acceptable. And if I had done it a second time....Lord help me. This lack of discipline, to me, shows where the problem starts and at a very young age. The majority of the problem lies with the students, the homes and societal environment that they are raised in.

     We live in a society of over entertainment, over stimulation, over indulgence, and immediate gratification. This, in my opinion, is causing the greatest amount of deterioration in the education system. Children all the way through high school are continually bombarded by new distractions from constant travel sports, to xbox, to playstation, to movies, to tv, to the internet, etc. And once you try to fit a large amount of each of these into each day there is no time or desire left for anything else. Too many of these activities (and often our parents) allow us to lose the sense of working hard for something. Almost all of them offer immediate gratification for small tasks or for doing nothing. How are we supposed to explain to kids that have this kind of gratification in so many parts of their lives, that they should work for 16+ years to get a good education and a good job? We simply need a society and especially parents who push their children for moderation and discipline. Even things that are seemingly good like intensive sports which provide exercise need to occur in moderation. A 12 year old in a soccer league that plays 6 days a week until 6 PM for 9 months of the year should not be acceptable. All of these things (yes even video games) have their benefits, but we need the benefits of all of them, not just one. Many economists and education policy makers agree that if the US could advance by around one grade level in math and science by age 15, that this could potentially lead to around a "$40 trillion" addition to the economy according to Andreas Schleicher, a senior education official at the O.E.C.D.

     I am definitely not saying that everyone needs or should have a college education to be successful, and definitely not necessarily in these disciplines. I am also not saying that people who are able and decide to attend college are exempt from this criticism, they get a large part of it because too many college students go away looking for the "Animal House" experience. But everyone, regardless of profession and education level, uses these disciplines on a daily basis whether they realize it or not. Math and science are the disciplines that teach us the greatest amount of problem solving, how to use parts to reach a whole, and how to apply previous knowledge to new situations. These skills are invaluable in life, let alone their importance in the workforce. This is my two (or three) cents and I am excited to hear what other people have to say.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Female Athletes in Bikinis

     For those of you who also followed the women's world cup soccer, I'm sure that you also now have a greater love for women's sports. If not solely for the reason that these girls kicked ass, then for the fact that there are so many beautiful women playing soccer. And the games were exciting! Anyone that didn't have their blood pressure go up a few points while watching USA vs France, Germany vs Japan, or obviously the final game...does not like sports. Any man who didn't also have their blood pressure go up a few points every time that Hope Solo came on screen...well we'll just say that you're different. I think that the creepy testosterone fueled troll that lives inside of every guy in the world simultaneously thought "she's got a purdy mouth." Yes women it is true, every man thinks south to north. But that brings me to the purpose of this post. As much as we guys like it, do you think that it detracts from a female athlete's validity as a professional when they pose in bikinis or are featured in Maxim Magazine? Or does it add to their validity by parading the fact that they can be beautiful, feminine, and intense, aggressive athletes all at the same time? As for me and my inner troll, I'm all for it!

A real example of what I am talking about can be found here.

I'm no artist, but you get the idea.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DNA on Meteorites

NASA image of meteor in the atmosphere.
     Hello interweb. For the past several decades, there has been an increasing body of scientific evidence edging towards the idea that we could not possibly be alone in the universe. I'm not talking about the townies who claim abduction or visitation, but the real stuff. We discovered that there are hundreds of billions of stars in each of hundreds of billions of galaxies. We have searched for and discovered other planets. We have discovered life on Earth living in conditions thought unlivable just a decade ago. The Catholic Church randomly announced that extra terrestrial life would not conflict with belief in God. Now NASA has announced that the building blocks of DNA and other similar chemical compounds were present on 11 of 12 meteorites studied.

     NASA believes that there is almost 0% chance that the samples were contaminated here on Earth. This is further evidence that basic biologic chemical compounds are readily created in space, and with all that space how is it possible that life only happened here? To me, whether life is a unique event or the universe is a petri dish of life, it is equally saddening and amazing at the same time.  On the one hand if we are unique, we are truly alone and there is nothing else out there in the vast expanses of space, no one looking for us, no hot space babes, and no Star Wars. But we would truly be a unique, rare, and special occurrence.  But if life is common in the universe, how humbling and slightly depressing is it that we are not unique? Humans have spent all of history believing that we are special, that the Earth and its problems are the center of the universe. But throughout history we have been continually humbled to our knees. We learned that we are not the center of the solar system, that we are not the center of the galaxy, and that we are not the center of the universe.

     We are the 3rd planet from a star that is 3/4 of the way out on a spiral arm of a galaxy full of stars and a galaxy that is one of many in an ever expanding universe. Only the moon revolves around our little blue planet. If life is common in the universe, it would be the final proof that we just aren't that special or probably even that intelligent. But to me, the universe would be a much more special place as a whole if it is teaming with life that explores, learns, and discovers. Leave a comment below saying how life's uniqueness or commonplace would affect you. Would it disappoint you? Comfort you? Encourage you? Break your faith or belief in a higher power? Prove your faith?  

Image source:

How to Tie a Simple and Reliable Fishing Knot

     Hello interweb. Too many people that I have fished with do not know how to tie a good fishing knot and end up losing both lures and fish because of this. The knot that I use most often is not technically the best for avoiding line weakness caused by the knot, but I have never lost a fish or had line break at the knot during a snag. The knot is simple, easy to remember, and effective which are ALL important when you have your hands full on the water.
First stick your line through the wire loop at the front of your lure or snap swivel.

Next, wrap the short end of the line around the long end 7 times.

 Next, take the remaining part of the short end of the line through the loop created at the lure or snap swivel.

Finally, take the remaining short end created on the side of the wrappings. Slowly pull the knot tight and when it is almost all the way to the lure or snap swivel, pull the remaining part of the short end tight and snug the knot all the way.

This is the line almost snugged to the lure or snap swivel with the short end pulled tight.

This is the line snugged all the way to the lure or snap swivel. All that you have to do now is trim the ramining short end with about 1/8" remaining and start fishing!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Started in Fishing

     Hello interweb. Fishing is a great past time that can be shared with almost anyone. It’s a great thing for friends to do together, for parents and grandparents to do with their kids and grandkids, and also great if you want some simple time alone. Getting started in fishing can be intimidating when you go into a sporting goods store with a fishing section that takes up half of the store. I assure you that much of this is unnecessary for the average fisherman and that choosing good equipment is neither overly expensive nor difficult. I will walk you through the things you need, how to choose them, and some of my personal preferences.

1) Buy a Fishing License!
     It is very important that you purchase a fishing license. The fines for fishing without one are quite expensive and I have my license checked by law enforcement while fishing on a regular basis. The money goes to conservation and stocking of the waterways that you fish so you do benefit from the money spent on one. Check your state laws about age restrictions as most states do not require minors to have any type of fishing license.

2) Choosing a Rod and Reel.
     When getting started in fishing, it is definitely not necessary to spend more than $50 on a rod and reel combo. My first tip is to not automatically go for the biggest rod in the store, or the most expensive. This is not the time to compensate for any errr "shortcomings." Take into consideration what you are fishing for and search the internet for what types of fish are in your area. While you will see pictures of people catching monster fish, remember that there are many more small fish than there are fish that have lived long enough to grow to massive size. This means that if you go with smaller tackle you will be able to catch more fish but not necessarily the biggest.

I prefer carbon/graphite rods when available because they have a sensitive feel and still maintain some backbone to be able to set hooks when you get a bite. For normal freshwater rivers and streams I would suggest a light action rod and reel combo. If you have access to a boat and a larger body of water, you will want to consider a medium-light or medium action rod because it will be more versatile and better for larger fish especially considering that you will have more room to cast a larger rod and will be able to cover a greater area and find different topographical features. This will most likely be the first of many rods and reels so don't worry, you will eventually have one for every occasion. One final thing to consider is whether to choose a one or two piece rod. If you are concerned about how to transport your rod (you have a small car or your seats don't fold down), go for a two piece. Otherwise a one piece is superior in every way.

     When it comes to choosing a reel it is primarily up to personal preference and the size of lure and fish you want to pursue. I prefer an open face spinning reel for almost every occasion. They are easier to cast, easier to undo tangles, and generally of better quality than the traditional spincast (closed reels) used by beginners. Go for the highest number of bearings and smoothest feel that you can find in your price range. In my opinion no beginner should start with a casting reel like you see the professionals use on TV. They are difficult to master and you will end up hating fishing on your first trip. But once you get more into fishing they are a great addition to any fisherman's collection because they offer superb casting for larger baits, fantastic reeling rates, and are faster and more instinctive to use once you master them.
     A good quality carbon/graphite rod that comes with a reel in a light, medium-light, or medium action should not cost you more than $50 if you do your shopping.

3) Stringing up That New Rod.
        For the beginning fisherman using a spinning reel, I would not even consider using expensive braided line. It is high tech and looks cool in many cases, but it is not worth the price for the average fisherman and it can cause some problems like gouging your line guides, embedding itself in the spool if you fight a snag (or big fish), etc. For general fishing and especially for the beginner I always go with a box of Stren. The original fluorescent is fantastic as are all of their newer lines that have superior strength and knot retention. For your light action rod, 4-6 lb test is all that you need and will be plenty for everything up to a 10 lb fish (remember that your reel has a drag setting should you hook a big fish). For your medium or medium-light action rod, I would recommend 6-10 lb test. Remember that the lighter the line that you go with the easier it will be to cast and you will be able to cast more variety of lure sizes.
     A final thought on fishing line is that learning how to tie a proper fishing knot is the most important thing. It doesn't matter if you buy the best line that money can buy if you cannot tie a fishing knot. **Snap swivels on the end of your line will also prevent you from having to tie a new knot every time you want to change lures.

3) Lures and bait.     
     This is where things can get a little confusing and finding what works will really just take some trial and error. If it is one of your first times out, always go with some kind of live bait to fall back on. Night crawlers are a great way to go because you can fish them almost any way that you want if you cut them into smaller pieces. If you're getting frustrated, don't be afraid to throw a float and a worm on your line and toss it in some still shady water. Catching fish is always more fun than not catching fish. When it comes to lures for beginners, spinner baits are very versatile and require little technique to catch some fish. Mainly just try different speeds of retrieval as you throw them out and reel them in. Inline spinners are fantastic and by far the best for rivers and streams. Traditional spinners are great for larger rivers and bodies of water. Hard baits are best left for lakes and reservoirs and are generally not as versatile as spinners.

     This said however; when fish want hard baits they can really go for them. For a beginner, I would stay away from top water lures as it is difficult to find the right topography and time of day for fish to hit them but have a buzz-bait just in case you see a lot of fish feeding on the surface. The trick is to have a variety and keep trying until you find what works. Lures definitely don't have to look like bait or food because fish have a brain the size of a pea. They like shiny things.

4) Finding the Right Place.
       If you don't already have a place in mind or don't have a boat on a lake, don't fear. Google Maps is here. Look at some satellite photos of the area surrounding you and just look for water and a place to park. Rivers and streams I have found are much better and easier to access if you do not have a boat because you can wade and walk along the shore many times without having to worry about private property. If you decide to fish in a river or stream, the key things to remember are that fish are lazy and that they like to stay in cover. This means that fish generally like slower moving water on the edge of faster moving water so that they can wait for food to float by.
     Key places are behind rocks and logs and in eddies (still or swirling water out of the main current). The same general thing holds for boat and lake fishing. Fish like outstanding features that provide cover, whether they are visible from the surface or not. Look for channels, coves, downed trees, piers etc. An infamous fishing quote is "If you aint snagging, you're not where the fish are."

5) Time and Weather.
      This is yet another thing that you will just have to experiment with. Luckily, however, there are some general guidelines that you can use. Fish generally feed heavily in the morning and in the evening. They generally do not stay active in extremely hot or extremely cold weather, just like humans. If there is a heat warning out it's too hot and if your anatomy is shriveling it's too cold. Fish also tend to feed heavily in the 12 hours after rain and then feed very little for the next couple of days. In many temperate regions, late spring and early fall are some of the best times to fish. The best way to find out what times of day and weather conditions are best at your favorite fishing hole is to keep an inexpensive rod in your car with some lures that work reliably (rooster tails are my reliable fallback) and stop by when you have an extra hour and just see if you catch anything. When it happens that you catch a few more fish than normal, take a mental note of what general conditions are present like temperature, time of day, and rain trends.

      Finally the most important thing to remember is that you will always catch more fish on the water than you will on the couch at home so just get out there, experiment, and focus on enjoying the time outdoors. Enjoy your personal time or your time with friends and throw your thoughts of other things out. This is the true key to being a successful fisherman. It really isn't about how many fish you catch, but having a good time doing it. The more time you spend enjoying being on the water, the more you will learn and you will slowly start to notice that you are catching more fish!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Simple Things

Rooster Tail Fishin'
     Hello interweb. A year ago I had one of the best days that I have ever had. I am just now writing about it because at the time I had no idea how strongly that day would stick with me. It was completely unexpected. I never thought that a day that was so unplanned, spontaneous, and seemingly simple fun would end up being so memorable.

     It started with a knock at the front door that came while I was still asleep. The knock startled me from my sleep and having freshly shit my boxers, I stumbled to the front door and slowly swung it open. Standing in the blinding light of a morning hour that I had no idea existed in the summer, was one of my best friends with two nice cigars in hand. "Get dressed bitch, we're going fishing." After gathering my things, we climbed into "speedy" (his 1990 Mitsubishi R.I.P.) and headed for the creek, the "wading crick" as we like to call it.
     This is a place that we had gone to many times in the past but today was different. We started early and spent the entire day wading up and down the creek further than we had ever gone. We found old leg hold traps (mildly terrifying), had to find a way to float our gear past a place that was so deep that we had to swim, and we both caught our biggest fish of the summer.

     We of course have a competition every time we go out to see who can catch the most fish and who can catch the biggest fish. This along with our conversations about people, cigars, cars, women, booze,  adventures, and the occasional subway jingle made for a great day. We then ended the day in a friends hot tub with a beer in hand until the sunset. Truly a great day.
     It's amazing that with all of today's available activities like theme parks, xbox 360s, bars, movies, paintball guns, and general hell raising that a day spent doing something that is as old as humans can be the primary activity of such a great day that you will remember for a long time to come.

    My advice to anyone needing a day like this is to buy some dollar store crock shoes (great for wading), an ultra-light fishing rod (more fun for small fish and easier to cast small lures), and a handful of small rooster tail spinner lures (easily the best lure for rivers and streams and you will need several because you will lose several to snags). Go to google maps and find a small stream and a place to park near it. Call up one of your buddies and get in the water. If you are at all outdoor oriented, you will not regret any day spent with a good friend on the water.