A Message From The Author:

Welcome! I hope you enjoy the content. I try to keep it up-to-date with my latest stories. If you like what you read, I encourage you to leave a comment. You can do so by clicking the numeric link beside each blog entry title. I typically make several posts each week, so if you would like to keep up, you can subscribe to my feed by clicking on the orange icon just under the banner image on the right. If you have a suggestion for a new topic, or a link to a pertinent web site, please leave a comment describing the details. You are welcome to use my content for commercial and non-commercial purposes, as long as you quote the original content unaltered, give me credit, and provide a link back to the source. If you use my content, I would appreciate being notified about the way it is being used, and where it can be viewed.

Best Regards,

Scott Gaspard

Millwood Lake

Millwood Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engeers recreation area in southwest Arkansas. It is considered one of the Nation's premier bass fishing lakes. Millwood Lake is located on the Little River upstream from its confluence with the Red River about seven miles east of Ashdown, Arkansas. The lake is stocked with over 2 Million Florida Largemouth Bass, and almost entirely consists of flooded timber. Bass up to 14 1/2 pounds have been caught, and 10 pounders are not uncommon.

I have reserved a camping spot on Millwood Lake for the 4th of July week. I fully intend to catch one of those giant bass. You can be sure that I will tell you all about it.

Finding Nemo in Aransas Pass

Jim called me on Friday at about 11:00am. Apparently, he was so ready to go fishing, that he couldn't get any work done. We had intended to leave early Saturday morning, but Jim wanted to leave early. I said, "What time do you want to leave?". He said, "How about 1:00?". It takes me about 30 minutes to get to Jim's house from mine, so he pretty much meant "How about right now". I was planning to take my time after work, to get my boat ready and my stuff together. I have to admit that I wasn't getting much work done either, so I told him that I would make a couple of calls to see if I could leave early, and if I could break away we would try to leave by 2:00. We decided to try to get a motel, but I packed my tent and a couple of cots, just in case we could not get a room. So, I wrapped things up, got everything packed, then hit the road.

We arrived at Aransas Pass at about 5:30. It took three and one half hours, and a full tank of gas. We thought we were lost a couple of times, but we still made pretty good time. Since there was another 3 hours of daylight left, we decided to do a little fishing, then look for a motel when we were done.

The boat ramp I had found on the Internet was easy to find, and there was lots of room. It was a four lane ramp, and there was plenty of dock space so launching was easy. We were on the water in about five minutes.

I had researched the area on the Internet, and programmed my GPS unit with what looked like might be a couple of good fishing holes. I was a little uneasy about navigating the bay; there are lots of underwater ubstructions, and the water depth can go from twelve feet to six inches very quickly. Luckily, there was what appeared to be an experienced boater in front of us, so I followed him into the flats.

The GPS is a great tool, because it draws a line that tells you where you have been. I figured that as long as I did not hit anything on the way into the flats, I could just follow my trail back out. So, this is exactly what I did.

There are channels cut through the flats that are marked with white poles, but since the poles on the right and left of the channel are the same, it is sometimes difficult to tell if you are looking down the middle of the channel, or off to one side. After a while, I got the hang of it, so there were no major mishaps. I did manage to run up on a sand bar once, but I saw it before I hit it, so I was able to shut down the motor and slow the boat down before my motor skeg hit the bottom. I saw a few other boaters that hit sand bars and reefs at full throttle, and from the looks on the captain's faces they did not get away so lucky.

A bass boat has certain disadvantages in these waters. The obvious ones being the low freeboard makes any kind of wave action difficult to handle. The not so obvious disadvantage is that because you are seated and close to the water, it is difficult to see obstructions in the water until it is almost too late to react. Because of this, I used just enough throttle to stay on plane, but did not get into a hurry.

My fishing plan was to work the deeper area just past hog Island. My thoughts were that at low tide, the fish would be hanging out in the deeper holes next to the flats. As the tide would come in, the fish should try to ambush any bait that was moving from deeper water back into the flats. When we arrived at about 6:00pm, the tide was at its lowest. I eased the boat back into this hole, past some very shallow grassy sandbars. I cast a red and gold weedless spoon toward the incoming tide, and worked it back to the boat with the tide. I was trying to mimic a bait fish, and apparently it worked because on about the fifth cast, I caught a very nice keeper sized Speckled trout. I thought that this was a very good sign, but it turned out to be the only keeper we caught that day.

Catch of the day

At about 7:30, the tide started coming back in a big hurry. I moved the boat back out into the main channel, because we could see some Redfish tailing in the grassy areas adjacent to a small island on one side of the channel. I tried to use my drift sock, but it is much better in the wind than in the current. There was not much wind, so the drift sock moved at about the same speed as the boat, so it did nothing to slow us down. We made many casts into the shallows, and even went back a couple of times to work the area again. I caught a small Redfish, and Jim and I both had larger ones on the line that let go before we got them up to the boat. My line kept getting fouled because the spoon I was using was spinning, causing my line to get twisted. Eventually, I made a cast that snapped my line, and caused me to lose my favorite spoon. It was beginning to get dark, and I did not feel comfortable navigating these relatively unknown waters after dark, so we headed back to the dock.

After loading the boat back onto the trailer, I filleted the trout I kept so that it would be easier to carry. I managed to find a water hose and a bar of soap, so I cleaned off as much of the fishy smell I could before I got into the truck. The first stop we made was Walmart, to stock up on fishing spoons. Unfortunately, they only had the standard brass and chrome versions, so I could not replace my lost spoon.

Finally, we got something to eat, and started looking for a motel. After finding about five motels with no vacancies, I was beginning to worry that we would have to pitch the tent after all. It was hot and muggy, so I was not looking forward to this. Luckily, a friendly front-desk attendant at the Best Western made a phone call, and I managed to get the last room in town. The room was not very nice, but it beat the heck out of sleeping in a tent. I was thankful to have a shower and a bed, even though I dared not sleep under the covers.

We set the alarm for 5:00am on Saturday morning. Jim snored all night, but when the alarm went off he claimed that he did not sleep a wink. I kind of laughed, because it was I who did not sleep a wink. I was still somewhat rested, and now that I was at least partially familiar with the water, I was ready to do some fishing. We cleared out in a hurry, and headed toward the dock. As soon as we left the hotel, you could see a line of about 100 trailored boats, waiting to launch at a nearby boat ramp! There appeared to be some kind of tournament, and I hoped that all of the boat ramps were not this backed up.

We stopped at about three bait stores along the way to our launch point, and all of them were completely sold out by about 5:00am! You have to start early if you want to get live bait around here! The preferred bait are croakers, but there was some shrimp left, so we picked up a pint. Jim found a bait store that had a few croakers left, so we got what we could. I prefer to fish with artificial lures, but if the fishing is tough, it is good to have a backup plan.

The water was a few feet deeper in the morning, because the tide was at its peak. The water clarity was very good, and the wind was very light. It looked like it was going to be a very good day.

The first spot we tried was a large open area beyond a line of grass beds that were adjacent to the main channel. There was a small cut through between the channel and this area that we idled through. We spent about 30 minutes here, made many casts, but did not catch any fish. We decided to go back up the channel to see what other fisherman were doing.

We followed a boat past hog Island, and headed toward the Old Causeway, which is a series of small islands left over from an old washed out bridge. When we motored up to the spot, you could see the trout everywhere! There was jumbo shrimp jumping out of the water, and the trout were having a feast in the shallows. I parked the boat in a good spot, and we tried just about everything to catch one.

Nothing worked. Eventually, I put on a popping bobber and a shrimp, and cast past the drop off to the deeper water. I almost instantly caught a small sheepshead. The trout were really working in the shallows, and we saw a few redfish as well.

This prompted us to pole our way further into the shallows, which was a mistake. My bass boat did not pole very well, and all we managed to do was to get ourselves stuck. Jim had to get out and pull on the bowline as I pushed with the pole. After wasting about 20 minutes trying to get back into the deep water, we were both exhausted. So I moved the boat about 20 yards off the deep water break, and anchored down.

I cast my popping bobber toward the break, using a shrimp for bait. I started catching small trout. Jim wasn't catching anything, but he was trying. I caught a small redfish on a spoon, but most of the action was from the live bait.

There was lots of traffic in the channel, including a couple of larger shrimp boats, so when I got the opportunity I moved the boat around to the backside of the island, where another channel cut from the main channel into the flats. I anchored here, and started catching fish once every 15-20 minutes.

Eventually, I felt bad that Jim wasn't having any luck. Jim did not have a popping bobber, and I only had one. Since I knew there were fish here, I decided to use artificial and let Jim use the bobber. The water was very green and clear, and the sky was very sunny, so I used a chartreuse salt-water assassin on a jig head. Although Jim started catching fish at last, I actually caught several on that jig, including a couple of nice keepers. I rigged my other rod with a small weight, and a croaker. I cast out and used my rod holder to tight-line the croaker off the bottom. After a while, I caught a very nice trout on the croaker! Jim caught a few trout, and a small needlefish.

What the heck is that?

By about noon, we were running out of water, and it was getting extremely hot. We decided to go back to the dock, and take a break. I cleaned the fish that I had caught before we headed back out, so we could put the fillets on ice in the cooler. I was afraid that keeping those fish in my live-well all day was not very humane, and I did not want to risk killing the fish and spoiling the meat. The livewell in my boat is not very efficient (which is a big reason why I usually catch and release).

After lunch, we headed back to the same spot. This is when I miss-judged the entrance to the side channel, and ran up on that sand bar. After we anchored down, we saw two others hit the same sand bar. Someone should plant a pole there, because it is easy to miss.

We did not catch any fish here for the next couple of hours, and the wind started picking up. I saw a couple of small thunder-heads on the horizon, and it was unclear whether they were approaching or receding, so we headed back toward the ramp. We fished a couple of cuts along the way, but nothing worth keeping. I decided to head east along the ICW on the south side of the flats. I was looking for a couple of good cuts from the flats out into the channel. The fishing was slow, but I did find a spot where there was a couple of large fish in the area, apparent by occasional splashing, and a few large wakes chasing bait in the shallows. I put on a red weedless spoon, and tried to cast ahead of these larger fish. Eventually I got one to grab my lure, and it was huge! I think it was one of those wall-mount sized trout, because it bent my rod all the way over. I got a couple of good splashes out of it, and managed to get it about three fourths of the way back to the boat before it threw the lure. Damn! That one would have made a great picture, and who knows? It might have been an entry in the CCA Star Tournament. Oh well. That would have ended the day on a very positive note. The wind was really howling now, so we decided to call it quits, and headed back home.

Now that I have experienced navigating shallow bay waters, I'm not so timid about taking my boat. I'm planning another trip to San Luis Pass in the fall, but I imagine I will make at least one more trip to the coast before then. Until then, I will leave you with this picture of Jim, and his big fish of the day.

Jim's Nemo is really hard to find!

Aransas Pass

I'm almost ready; just a few final things to do. I'll be leaving at about 3:00am tomorrow, heading toward Aransas Pass to try and catch some redfish. I'll pick up Jim at around 3:30, then we should arrive at about 6:00. I'm taking my boat -- I'll admit that I am a little nervous. This will be my first time taking my bass boat to the coast. We are going to fish Estes Flats. I plan to take the boat around the flats to Hogg Island hole, and maybe California hole. Since the tide will be peaking at about the time we get there, we will be fishing a falling tide all day long. This is not ideal, but my plan is to get my boat up into one of those holes where a creek channel empties from the flats. I'm guessing that the redfish will be coming off of the flats, and waiting in the deeper holes for the bait to swim out with the tide. We might try to pole around the grass flats early, then work our way back out to the deeper water.

I have my video camera, and digital camera ready -- I hope I have some good pictures to post when we get back.

I cleaned out my boat in preparation, removing anything that is unnecessary to try to lighten things up so we draft as little water as possible. I converted my anchor box into a fish box by installing a drain that goes into my bilge, and insulating all around where the plastic anchor box sits. Its not perfect, but it should hold ice for several hours. I also organized my rod box, and installed some brackets that will help keep my stuff from rolling around and spooking the fish.

I've been studying a satellite image of the area we will be fishing, and coordinating that with my GPS and Hot-Spots map. I have a good plan of attack, that I think will pay off well.

Jim bought us a push-pole, so I plan to kill the motor and trim it up as we get close to the fishing spots, then use the push-pole to get us the rest of the way in. Instead of using the anchor, I will use the push-pole, by pushing it down into the mud, then tying off the boat to the pole. I think this will be less damaging to the sensitive grassy bottoms than dragging an anchor across.

I also signed up for a CCA Membership, and enrolled in the Star Tournament. Who knows, maybe I will catch a tagged redfish, and drive away with a new truck and boat!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuna Time

Here's some great pictures of my nephew, Justin. These were taken last weekend off the coast of San Diego. Justin went fishing with his dad and grandpa on the Bright and Morning Star, which is a 100-foot Sportfisher charterboat, that holds 34 passengers plus crew. The boat has sleeping quarters, so it goes out for days at a time in search of Albacore, Yellowtail, Baja, Bluefin, and Benitos. I believe they fish off the coasts of Isla Guadalupe and Isla Cedros, in Mexican waters.

Justin is turning into a terrific fisherman!

Justin has picked his spot on the boat, and is ready to catch a fish!

A very good start!

Look at the bow in his rod!

Another nice one!

Here we go again!

Wow! What a fish!

The Bright and Morning Star

Trinity River Catfish

My wife reminded me of a story I once told her about a trip I made to the Trinity River when I was a teen. My friend Andy's parents had a small cabin, waterfront to an oxbow lake south of Lake Livingston along the river. There was a pot-belly stove, but no air conditioning. There was a little pier, and they had a small john-boat with a 12 horsepower motor. We would get up early, and drive the boat down to the river. We would go up the river for a couple of hours, set a trot-line across a fishy looking spot, then drift downstream back to where we started, fishing along the way. We would make it back by lunch-time, then head back after lunch, and do it all again. By the time we would get back to the trot-line, there would usually be several fish on the line.

This one time, we made it up to the trot-line to find it sagging deeply in the middle. I thought we had a snag, so I started working my way down the line from the outside to the middle, pulling off small catfish along the way.

Like a fool, I was standing up in the john-boat, with two hands on the line. This was not a very large john-boat, so it was not very stable. As I stood over what I thought was a snag, I pulled up with both hands to see if I could get it un-snagged. As I looked down into the water, and pulled the line up to the surface, I saw these two huge eyeballs come up from the deep. It was a giant catfish! This scared the u-know-what out of me, and I dropped the line. This was too much action and reaction for the little boat to handle, so I fell in. Right on top of that huge catfish! Now I know that Jesus walked on water, because I am positive I did at that moment! I was back in the boat in less than half a second.

We did not lose the fish -- it was a 45 pound blue catfish. I know blue cats get much bigger than 45 pounds, but that was the biggest fish I had ever caught. With the exception of a few large sharks, it is still the largest fish I have caught to this date.

Little Rock

I spent the afternoon in Little Rock, Arkansas today. The plain ride there was over some interesting terrain. I saw lots of natural lakes from the air, and several reservoirs, with lots of trees. I remember fishing in South West Arkansas once, as a kid. I seem to recall catching a really big bass on a Zebco 33. The reel fell apart as I brought in the fish, but I still managed to get it in the boat. I was only about 12 years old. The guide didn't seem to happy that I caught that huge bass. The more I fish, the more I realize how elusive the really big bass seem to be. The largest I've landed in three years has been about six and a half pounds.

I also remember catching a bunch of rainbow trout on the Little Red River in Arkansas. That was a great experience, too. I remember we used a salmon egg on a small hook, and floated it above the bottom by one foot. We were on a fast moving, shallow but wide stream in a river boat. I found a large old-timer knife on the stream bed in excellent condition, that I kept for years. I would like to fish there again -- maybe I'll plan a camping trip, someday.

Estes Flats

I've decided to take my boat to the coast. This will be a first for me; I have never driven my boat on anything but inland lakes. I bought a fishing hot-spots map, and I've been impressed with the level of detail. I'm planning out my trip, including how to navigate the grassy areas around Estes Flats, which is near Aransas Pass. I admit that I am a little bit nervous about taking my bass boat into salt water, but I have been assured by a local guide that there are lots of people who navigate these waters in a bass boat. I'm going to strip down my boat to essential gear. I won't be bringing any bass related stuff. I'm going to convert my anchor box into a fish box -- I'll fill it with ice in case we catch any keepers. I'll bring my drift sock, and my dansforth anchor. Maybe I'll try to make a push-pole out of PVC, for the really shallow areas.

Slow day on LBJ

I found out Friday that my boss will be coming to town during the 4th of July week. He recently bought a new bass boat, and I have been bragging about all of the fish I have been catching lately. He hasn't done so well in the first few times he has taken out his boat, so I offered to show him around Lake LBJ, and practically guaranteed we would catch fish. When he called me to ask if we could go fishing on July 6, I decided that it would be a good idea to do some scouting in advance of the trip. So, Jim and I went fishing on LBJ again this Saturday.

Actually, we had intended to go fishing anyways. Initially, our plan was to try Buchanan. I plugged in my battery charger on Thursday to get ready for our trip. When I plugged my charger in, there was a red light flashing on my accessory battery bank. I soon figured out that my batteries were not holding a charge. I checked, and the batteries were almost dry! I left it unplugged for the night, planning to get some distilled water on Friday, to top them off.

After work on Friday, I bought some distilled water and topped off the batteries. I had to remove them from my boat to do this; there is not much room to work in the back of my boat. Actually, only one battery needed topping off, but I had to remove both batteries to check. I used my volt meter, which registered 2.5 volts on battery and 3.5 volts on the other. Not good. I re-installed the batteries, and connected my charger. The red light stopped flashing, so I took this as a positive sign. I left them to charge all night.

On Saturday morning, I checked and the batteries were still not fully charged -- at least according to the indicator lights on top of my charger. I checked the voltages, and each battery reported 12.8 volts. I was concerned that they would not last long on the lake, but the wind wasn't blowing, so I figured that if I took it easy on the trolling motor, we could make it through the day.

We got to the boat ramp at about 6:00am. The parking lot was already full, so it was apparent that there was a fishing tournament going on. With the blue sky, no wind, and a fishing tournament, it was shaping up to be a tough day.

We fished all of my regular honey holes, and even ventured up to the north end of the lake. We only managed to catch five small bass. The ones we did catch were away from shore in ten feet or more water. I think that with a little more patience, a carolina rigged worm or grub worked across the sand bars next to deep water might do a little better. I will try that next week. Maybe a few long casts would find the fish. I could then mark the spot on my GPS map, and approach the spot from the deep side, and anchor down to work the area more thoroughly.

I saw a feature on some of the GPS systems, which allows you to follow your trail, and mark your range from a waypoint. The fishing guide on my trip to Freeport was using this feature to keep us over an offshore pile of rocks. In open water, there is nothing to keep your bearings on, so the GPS really helps. I think my Lowrance 332c will do this, so it may come in handy.

I think the problem was that there was too much fry in the water. I kept seeing small dead shad on the surface. There were schools of white bass working these areas; I'm sure all of the bass species were gorging themselves. The shad were shiny and silver colored. With the clear sky and the full moon, I bet they were eating all night long. Now that I think about it, the bass we caught had disteneded bellies. I'll bet they were full of small shad.

I don't like to fish with live bait if I can avoid it. Its not that I'm squeemish about live bait -- its just that I prefer the challenge of using artificial lures. I simply find it much more convenient. Using live bait means my hands will likely be slimy, my clothes will be fishy, and I have to do more work when I clean out the boat. I try to catch and release as a general practice; it strikes me as wrong to kill bait if I don't intend to kill the fish that I'm after. I should bring my casting net though. I could catch a net full of shad, then let them go just to see what they look like. I might find a lure in my tackle box that can approximate their shape and color.

I have a couple of small spoons that are about the same shape and size as the shad I saw on the surface. They have small treble hooks, so they tend to catch small white bass. I like catching large white bass, but they do have sharp spines, and the ridge up like a porcupine when they are excited, so they can be difficult to handle. I usually end up with a sore finger or two by the end of the day. I consider chasing white bass a diversion from my primary prey, which is the Largemouth Bass.

That being said, its good to know that white bass are in the area. It means that there is forage, and there are likely black bass close by. I bet there were some big 'ole lunker bass down deep beneath those schools of shad, leasurely feasting away. Catching them is the hard part.

After fishing the South end of the lake for most of the morning, at about 10:30am, we decided to look for tournament fishermen, to see where they were fishing. As we were motoring up to the north side of the lake, I passed a big slick, with a large school of stripers feeding at the surface. Unfortunately, I did not see this in time to slow the boat down without spooking the fish. I quickly tied on a big 1oz chrome and blue rattletrap. I can cast it a mile, and it sinks quickly enough to get down to where stripers like to feed. The water was very because of the wakes from passing boats. I wasn't getting any strikes, and there was lots of boat traffic, so after about 10 minutes, we decided to move on.

Why is it that jet skiiers feel so safe on the water? They make the stupidest moves, rarely if ever travel in a straight line, and the noise from their engines keeps them from hearing horn blasts from other boats on the water. Those jet skiis are way too fast. I had one pass my boat at over 50 mph! He was weaving and doing little stunts without looking, and was heading straight into my path. He was approaching from my port side. The rules say yeild to starboard, otherwise stay on a straight course at present speed. Of course when the rules break down, its time to take action. I blasted him about nine times with my horn, which is plenty loud, but he did not acknowledge. He probably had water-proof earphones on. I had to stop my boat to avoid a collision. He finally noticed me, and gave me this little look. I think they should be outlawed all-together. I know they are fun, but they lend themselves to stupid behavior, and are typically piloted by teenagers who think they are invincible. My house is only a couple of miles from Lake Travis. We see the life-flight helicopter heading toward the lake at least a couple of times per month.

We fished a couple of coves on the North side of the lake, but caught nothing. After a couple of hours, we headed back toward the launch point. I had been wanting to fish the jettie that goes from the power plant to the main body of the lake. The water drops off quickly on the Eastern side of the jetties to about 35 feet deep. We drifted the entire length of the Eastern side of the jetties, but caught nothing. So, that was that. I'm going to have to go back a couple of times this month, to figure out where the fish are.

Good Knots and Lessons Learned

This is nothing new, but I was just thinking about what lessons I have learned since I purchased my boat.

First and foremost, you have to look at buying a boat in terms of total cost of ownership. The purchase price is just the beginning. The good news is that if you take care of your boat, the ongoing expenses come down quite a bit after the first couple of years, but you will probably double your boat payment in extra stuff before that.

Learning to operate the boat wasn't always fun. Believe me, the first couple of times I had to launch or retrieve my boat at a busy ramp was daunting, to say the least. Especially when I was by myself. It reminded me of learning to play golf (which I have since given up permanently). All you really have to do is line-up, step-up, take a smooth swing and hit the ball. But after a day with a golf-pro, you are thinking about so many variables, there is no wonder you end up slicing the ball. The same is true for retrieving a boat. There are so many questions going through your head -- Is there room at the dock? Am I going to have to beach the boat? The wind is blowing 20mph, how do I get between those two boats at the dock without having an accident, especially when some jerk just threw a two-foot wake past the boat ramp? Luckily, with a little practice, these things become second nature. Someone gave me a simple piece of advice once, which in retrospect seems completely obvious -- head into the wind or current. This makes perfect sense, because since you steer the boat from the rear, you need some sort of wind or water flowing past the steerage in order to control the boat.

After operating a boat for a while, you learn to be prepared -- to anticipate problems, and take steps to avoid them. Getting out of the way of a drunk water-skier is a no-brainer. Its the little things that will get you in trouble. On one of my first fishing/camping trips with my new boat, I took my wife and dog with me on the lake. I learned a couple of important lessons on this day.

First lesson - make sure you walk the dog before you put it on the boat. Trust me, dealing with dog-poop on a boat becomes a whole new experience. My poor wife bore the brunt of that attack -- I noticed my dog (which is a 60lb German Shepherd) was looking quite uncomfortable. I thought it was just a little scared of being on the boat. At one point her uncomfortable look turned into a look of panic, so I stopped the boat just in time for her to have an explosion. Right on my wife's lap! At least she didn't soil the carpet. Good girl! My wife was in shock. She had to jump in the water to clean off! Afterwards, my dog looked much more content, but my wife was the one looking uncomfortable.

Second lesson - expect the unexpected. We were on Lake Buchanan, which is a pretty large lake, with decent size swells on the water. I was using my trolling motor to navigate around some rocky bluffs, while casting a crankbait against the shoreline. My wife was reading a book, and my dog was keenly eyeing my lure every time I cast it out. The sound of the rattling lure, and the whine of my reel as I made each cast eventually was more than my dog could stand. She was wearing her collar, and her short-leash so that I could control her if necessary (or so I thought). I made a long cast, and she decided that she would fetch the lure! So she leaped into the water to catch the lure! We were in a pretty deep part of the lake, with a moderate wind blowing -- not the kind of place you want to give up control of the boat, even for a minute. After calling her back to the boat, and hauling her on board, we had drifted dangerously close to the rocky shoreline. I went to start up my motor, to get us to a safe distance, when I noticed that my motor would not start! I looked down to try and figure out what was going on, when I noticed my kill-switch lanyard was gone! When my dog jumped overboard, the leash had snagged on the kill switch lanyard, and pulled it in after her! Of course, it sank straight to the bottom of the lake. Luckily, I had a pair of lockable pliers in my tackle box, so I pulled out the kill switch, and locked my pliers onto it so that I could start the motor. Just in time, too -- it was definitely getting too close for comfort. Needless to say, we went straight back to camp, and I made a little trip to the marina store. I bought two kill switch lanyards, and a few key-floats. I attached a key-float to each lanyard, and my boat keys, and put the extra lanyard under my seat. When I told the marina attendant what had happened, she looked at me like I was an idiot. She said, "You should wrap the lanyard around the throttle control when you are not driving, and clip it back onto itself". This seems obvious now, but at the time it was quite a revelation. I don't think I'm an idiot; I was just a little green at that time.

There are some accessories that come in handy. I spent some time rigging my boat out for night fishing. I installed a series of red LED lights up under my gunwale, with a switch on my console. At night, when I flip the switch, the front and rear decks are flooded with red light. The red light does not interfere with your night-vision, and there is plenty of light to tie on a lure. I installed the lights close to the deck, so that from a distance it would not confuse other boaters. The red and green night running lights on the bow of a boat, combined with a white light at the stern, are designed to let other boaters know whether you are coming or going. I also installed a white map-light under my console, so that I could get a better look at something if necessary. I installed two marine DC power adapters (cigarette lighter style), one for the starboard side, and one for the port side. I have a couple of submersible lamps that I can plug in, and drop overboard for serious night-fishing. This works extremely well.

Another great accessory is a keel-guard. This was somewhat expensive, but I saved money by installing it myself. It was not easy to install, and sealing it was not pleasant. But I have been very pleased with the results. It has opened up a whole new realm of opportunities, because it makes it very easy to beach the boat. This helps tremendously when launching my boat alone at a ramp that has no dock. I have also brought my wife and dog out to picnic on an island in the middle of the lake. The keel guard, plus a good trick another boater taught me, made that possible. The trick involves a long rode, and a few good knots.

Before I tell you the trick, I need to explain the knots. It's helpful to know a few good knots. However, it does you no good unless you can quickly tie the right knot when necessary. I taught myself while watching TV by tying knots over and over again on a scrap piece of rope. Eventually, I got to where I could tie a few useful knots with my hands tied behind my back -- just kidding, that would be something though, wouldn't it! I can tie them quickly without looking, and this has helped me on numerous occasions. I wont tell you how to tie them -- a Google search turned up over 2.5 Million web pages that will show you. If you found my page, you can probably figure it out pretty quick. One good resource is Knot Knowledge, which has easy to understand instructions and illustrations. Another good resources is the US Powerboating Course. I will describe the knots, and what they might be useful for. You can figure out which knot to use, and look up the details yourself.

One of the most useful every day knots is a bowline. A bowline knot is easy to tie, and more importantly, it is easy to untie. It is a loop knot that doesn't cinch up, and it can be tied mostly with one hand. It is easy to tie around another object, such as a bow ring, or a drift sock. I have read that it should not be used under heavy load, and that you should leave a tag end that is about twelve times the diameter of the rope. If you are paranoid, consider tying a figure eight knot on the tag end, to keep it from slipping out. I have a small boat (17' Skeeter), and I have used it as part of a system to secure my boat to land without problems. The method I will describe to you takes most of the strain off of the line anyways; it is used primarily to stabilize the boat. Incidentally, a line tied to the bow of a boat is called a 'bow line'. Do not confuse this with a 'bowline knot', which is a type of knot that makes a loop.

Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I am not a certified boat captain, so if you are concerned about the safety of this method, or anything else I might tell you, I defer to the nearest authority. My knowledge comes mostly from experience, and I am learning new things all the time.

Another couple of knots I use in this method are the 'In Line Figure 8 Loop', (a loop that can be tied in line with a rope, even when the tag ends are not free), and the Tautline Hitch (also called a 'Rolling Hitch', it is a knot that can be fastened back onto the standing end of a rope, with easy adjustment, and locking ability).

The first time I used this trick, it was to secure my boat for over-night camping. I was camping at Black Rock Park on Lake Buchanan. I managed to get a decent camp-site, close to the water. I wanted to beach the boat where I could have easy access to it, that way I could take the boat at my leisure, without having to launch and retrieve the boat. Lake Buchanan has a rough sand made up of decomposed granite. Its interesting that they call it Black Rock Park, when the rock is mostly red granite. The sand is fairly abrasive, but it lends well to beaching. I was having trouble securing the boat -- I was worried about an approaching thundershower, so I wanted to make sure I didn't anchor the stern down in such a way as to flood the boat.

This other camper, who had also beached his boat was watching me with some amusement, as I struggled to secure my boat. Finally, he offered me some advice. There was a sandbar about 50 feet off the shoreline. He told me to run up to the sandbar at idle speed with the motor trimmed up, then turn off the motor before the keel runs aground. Once aground, he told me to trim down my motor, so that the skeg would dig into the sand. After this, I tied a bowline knot at one end of a 100' rode, securing it to the bow ring of my boat. I walked the line around an upright tree on the shore. I tied an in line figure 8 loop about halfway between the boat and the tree, on the standing end of the line, with the loop facing toward shore. I ran the tag end through the loop, then walked back toward shore to take out the slack in the line. This acted as a pulley, allowing me to double my pulling force on the front of the boat. I pulled the line as tight as I could go to swing the bow of my boat around, in line with the rope. Finally, I secured the tag end to the standing end using a taughtline hitch. This kept a good tension on the line, so it kept the boat from swinging out in the wind, and working its way free. It worked so well in fact, that I had to chase off some children who were using the tight bow line as a swing set.

The bow line was used primarily to keep the bow of the boat from swinging around in the wind. The keel of the boat rested on the sand. The motor skeg held the stern of the boat in place. This worked exceptionally well, even though we had quite a deluge from that passing summer storm.

The water facing camp-sites at Black Rock park face toward the South. Ideally, you would want to beach the boat facing South, because most Summer storms come up from the South East. Its better to have waves hitting the bow of your boat rather than the stern. I did get a small amount of water in my bilge, but I think it was mostly from the rain, because I did not see any waves breaking over the transom.

I have since used derivatives of this method on several occasions. If you are trying to beach on a desert island, with no trees, you could run the line through a mushroom or dansforth anchor, then bury the anchor in about two feet of sand. If you feel the anchor slipping when you cinch up the line, bury it more deeply.

Another useful knot is the Butterfly Knot, which creates a loop that can be tied without access to the ends of the rope. The loop stands straight out from the line, and is useful for making a lean-to out of a tarp and two trees. If you have a long enough rope, you can tie a butterfly knot that aligns with each grommet in the tarp. You create a frame by staking out the bottom corners of a square that extends at a 45 degree angle from the ground to the tree trunk. Secure the ends of the rope to the two trees, 45 degrees up from the corners of the rope square. Now, use bungy cords to attach the tarp grommets to the butterfly knot loops you created. I have used this to keep firewood dry in a rainstorm, and it works well. The bungy cords absorb the shock from the wind, and the water runs off the tarp well away from the wood.

that's enough from me for now. If you have any stories about using knots in interesting ways, please post a comment.

Huge Gator Lurks in Lake Conroe - debunked!

Look at the size of this alligator! It has a whole deer in its mouth. These pictures were taken by a KTBS helicopter flying over the west end of Lake Conroe! Lake Conroe is in Conroe, Texas which is about 45 miles north of Houston along IH-45.

Wanna go fishing?

BTW, I did a quick Internet search, and found out this is a hoax -- it had me going, though! Here's a link to the real story!

About me

  • I'm Scott Gaspard
  • From Austin, Texas, United States
  • I really like to fish. I go every chance I can. You can pretty much bet that at any given moment, I'm using whatever spare cycles I have to plan my next trip.
  • My profile

Web This Site

Site Map

Recent Stories







Fishing Reports

Web Sites

Unrelated Blogs I Like

Previous Stories