Friday, October 31, 2014

Jerkbait tips from Hillary Hughes!

Fall fishing can be one of the most fun season’s to fish. Big bass are chasing the shad and loading up for the cold months ahead. Many people know that jerkbait fishing can catch big fish throughout the cold winter months; what about when the water temperature is in the high 50’s to low 60’s and you can’t seem to get a bite on anything else? Match the hatch, find a windy point, and pick up a jerkbait!

There are a couple tricks to fishing a jerkbait. The Vision 110 is a great bait that comes in many colors, but Ozark Shad particularly stands out for this time of year. Change the front and back treble hooks to Round Bend Gamakatsu. Make the front one red while keeping the back treble hooks black to create an injured appearance, which can trigger strikes. This set up will also point the nose down at about a 45 degree angle, which is KEY! To finish the bait off apply a coat of UV. This will help to reflect sunlight the way shad do naturally. When retrieving your lure, remember you're trying to imitate a dying shad—don't rush the pauses between each jerk and always jerk on a slack line.

This is also where a great rod comes into play and I would recommend a 684 Champion Series Dobyns casting rod. Using a 6’8 rod is key for me because I was not blessed with being tall so it’s more comfortable to have a shorter rod and my rod tip won’t hit the water during retrieval. I usually use 8-10 pound fluorocarbon line because it sinks, which helps when trying to catch those deeper fish. If you find yourself in really clear water, downsize to a smaller line, from 10 to 8, or 8 to 6. Now go tie on your favorite jerkbait, and catch some pigs!

PS Don't tell Hank Cherry I shared this info with you! haha

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Are you protected from Lyme Disease?

There’s a rapidly increasing risk to all outdoor enthusiasts.  Ticks carrying Lyme disease are being found in large numbers, and in places where you would least expect them. If you’re not prepared and aware of the risk, you’re putting yourself and your loved ones at risk.  So here are some facts and some preventative techniques that can help you avoid exposure.


When most people think of ticks they immediately think of deer ticks, which takes their mind to rural areas.  “The woods”.  However, my dear friend and world renown scientist Dr. Ralph Garruto of Binghamton University has been conducting research that would shock you.  Ralph and I hunt and fish together, and we always thoroughly check ourselves and our dogs for ticks following any trips to the field.  Whether that be after we fished a river from the bank in town, or hunted pheasant in a field of high grass, or hunted deer in densely wooded areas.  But Ralph informed me that the focus of his research has been on urban areas, targeting parks, backyards, campuses, places that people would consider “comfort zones” where there’s no threat of Lyme disease.

“You may be at lesser risk when you’re hunting/fishing because you’re aware of the risk and you take actions and precautions that you don’t in the city” said Ralph.  “Our study is incomplete.  We are still in the second year and have collected roughly 5,000 ticks from Broome and Chenango counties in NY and have found that the rate of ticks infected appears to remain relatively constant, between 35-45% in both urban and rural areas.

Urban areas like this dam located near Dorchester Park in Whitney Point NY can be a dangerous place for unsuspecting visitors.

The Hudson Valley of New York State is comprised of the communities that stretch from the Albany and Troy area, all the way down state to Westchester County and Yonkers near New York City.  This area actually has the highest number of cases of Lyme disease in the country.  This is significant because anyone familiar with that area will tell you that it’s not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a rural destination.  Yes there are hills and beautiful arenas of outdoor recreation, but there are many cities and college campuses in those areas that are home to millions of people.

So what exactly is Lyme Disease?

Lyme is a disease caused by the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is infectious to humans, cats, and dogs.  How it is spread is fascinating.  Ticks have 4 stages in their life cycle that lasts roughly 2 years:  egg, larvae, nymph, and adult.  Eggs do not carry the Lyme bacteria. However, at every life stage beyond the egg stage, a tick must have a blood meal to progress.  The white-footed mouse is found to be the most competent reservoir for the infected agent.  Ticks that bite mice become infected 80-90% of the time.  What’s so incredible is that newborn mice are not infected at birth either, but they become so when bitten by infected ticks!  Ralph’s research suggests that areas that have high populations of the rodents, such as the white-footed mouse, have higher levels of human infection.

How do Deer play a role?

Deer act as a breeding ground and as a distributor of ticks over a large area. Primarily, adult ticks are found on deer in November.  An adult female must take a blood meal to mate and lay her eggs, so it is imperative that you be vigilant in coming weeks while hunting, fishing, apple picking, trick or treating, or hiking.  My friend Danny recently walked the boundaries of the property we hunt putting up posted signs and found 9 ticks on him after a few hours of hiking.

So how do we stay protected?

“The best defense is awareness” according to Ralph.  Aside from that, examine yourself thoroughly.  Take hot showers when you get home.  Shake your clothes off outside or put them in the dryer on high heat.  Tuck your pants into your socks or use Velcro strips.  Comb your pets.  Use repellent that’s got a high level of DEET, at least 25-30%.  And use an actual tick remover if you do find one attached.  If you pull it out with your fingers you could separate the body from the head and leave part of the tick imbedded in your skin.  Ralph also encourages everyone to see their local doctor if bitten and to take with them any ticks that were attached to have them tested rather than just discard them.  You can find more information from the CDC or The New York State Department of Health.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Three keys to better hunting and fishing

If you're like a lot of people you're struggling to sit in your treestand right now.  While there's a part of you that waits all year for a chance to hunt, there's a whole nother part that can't tear away from the incredible fishing that's happening right now as the fall feeding frenzy sweeps across the country.  Whether you're after bass, pike, trout, or panfish; it's safe to say that the best fishing you've seen all year is underway (or about to be).  But lucky for you, there are things you can do while you're in your favorite tree that will not only make you a better hunter, but that will improve your fishing trips as well.

To begin with, you need to be sharp and remain still.  Keeping your movements to a minimum will reduce noise and the chances of being seen.  A great way to do that is to have a smartphone and two apps:  Weather Underground and Fishidy.  Weather Underground is essential for several reasons.  It has doppler radar that will show you if a storm is tracking in your precise location, so you can be sure that you're safety isn't in question (that's always a great place to start).  WU also pulls data from millions of weather stations all over the globe, so you can be sure to get predictions for the week that are as close as possible to where you're planning to be.  I can't tell you how many times I've had people tell me "weather I hadn't anticipated ruined my trip".  This app will absolutely reduce that risk.

Fishidy is what's going to keep you engaged all day long.  With thousands of bodies of water to research and a community of anglers that grows every day, there's an unlimited amount of information at your fingertips.  Let's say you just found out that your cousin is getting married in Michigan next summer and you're gonna be there for a week and want to fish Lake St. Claire while you're there.  You can see hotspots, depths and contour lines, vegetation, places to launch, and detailed information from users on fish they've caught and what they caught them on (pictures included).  You can also subscribe to allow you to receive notification of future updates posted to that specific body of water.  This is a great way to research your trips.  Don't want to share your catches with everyone?  That's ok too.  You can adjust your settings so that you're trophies are visible to only you.

Fishidy is also a great way to take a closer look at places you're very familiar with.  Lakes and rivers are often changing, and there are many times when you'll catch a fish someplace where you didn't think you would.  Maybe it's a certain depth, or a transition area that you didn't notice before.  Now you can go and find other areas like that one and have some new places to check the next time you go out.  Imagine how closely you can examine a body of water while you're sitting uninterrupted in a tree for 12 hours.  It's hard to find the time to do that under normal circumstances, and even when have the time it's difficult to force yourself to do it.

Now I know that some people are saying "no way my battery will last that long".  You're right.  No cell phone battery will let you look at something with screen resolution that high for 12 hours.  But Snowlizard has a case called that SLXtreme that will protect your phone and charge it.  The case is completely submersible, and has a strap attachment (below) that will not only make it float if you drop it in water but it also acts as a pad so you can wear it around your neck without it being uncomfortable when you need to be instantly hands free.  But the real advantage to this case is the battery power.  When your cell phone is about to die, simply press the button on the back of the case and it will charge your battery back to full while you use it.  The four lights on the back will tell you how much power the case has to give (4 lights equals a fully charged case).  My SLXtreme has fully charged my iPhone 5 twice on one full charge, more than enough battery life to keep me doing research all day.  And if that's not enough, there's even a solar panel on the back of the case that will charge it in the sun.  The SLXtreme is available to smart phones as well as tablets, so you're covered no matter what you decide to use.


The last thing you need is to be sure to be warm and dry.  I wear my Stormr Stealth gear and it gives me everything I need from a camo suit.  I'm warm and dry, the Real Tree Max4 blends into any background regardless if I'm hunting trophy whitetails or geese, it's also dead quite so I can draw my bow without fear of being heard like other noisier jackets.

So there you have it.  You're a hunting and fishing, weatherproof ninja ready to take on the outdoor world and staying one step ahead of the competition.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014