Kiest Lake

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Wanting to branch out our North Carolina expeditions, we set off for Kiest Lake, near Fort Bragg Military Reservation.  It was a hot ass day, upwards of 90 degrees F with at least 80% humidity. We settled on the South side of the lake, where there was a  fairly large clearing we could pull the truck into. Little Brook was suffering though. No shade. SO hot. We left the car door open for her just in case, but she improvised on the shade;

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Yup, she hung out under the truck! We stuck her water bowl down there too. And don’t worry– every hour or so, we turned on the truck, pumped the air and cooled off our little daughter. Gotta be careful this time of year in the Southern United States. There are countless cases of pet dogs dying of heat exhaustion,  but at the same time we love our dog and want her to have fun and be included. We take every measure possible to ensure she is comfortable and well taken care of.

Anyways, Dan set up his massive carp rig because supposedly there’s huge common carp in this lake. I don’t have any pictures of the set up but I will take some next time it is used. It’s similar to a catfish set up, only the poles are lying parallel to the surface of the lake instead of perpendicular. There is also this motion detector device that beeps when the line is pulled. Unlike a catfish rod, you do not want “tight lines” on this rig. The drag is almost completely loose, allowing carps to suck the bait in and run with it before hooking themselves. We experienced a few beeps here and there but nothing seeemed to stick. Turns out, there were an astronomical amount of turtles in there!

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Here’s a little one I managed to pull up with our landing net. They’re some sort of box turtle, and love to nibble fishing bait. Since they have those little beaks, they don’t get hooked and just steal the bait! While Dan worked on his carp set-up and tossed in a few senkos for bass, I set up some catfish lines and threw in a few casts of my own. The bottom of this lake is incredibly weedy, so the “secret technique” was an absolute no-go. Instead, I used a foam stick bobber and set it up about 2 feet above my bait (nightcrawlers).

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I managed to catch a gill on this bobber set up that I turned into cutbait. In the mean time, neither the carp rods nor the catfish rods were getting much action. It was such a hot day, that I assume the fish were very slow moving and avoiding the heated up shallower ends. Likely in the middle of the lake, just treading water down below. After I while, I did get a pull on one of the cat rods, though! Reeled t his one in, pretty excited. With it came an enormous hunk of weeds, but hidden beneath the weeds there was indeed a fish!

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This skinny guy was trying to eat himself some gill. Definitely did not expect to pull up an LMB on the cat rods, but lo and behold there she was! I let her go, recasted the rod and then continued to throw out the bobber set up. Dan was preoccupied with some mysterious beeping on his carp rods,  but nothing seemed to set. Somehow, I managed to pull up another small bass on the bobber.

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No action following this for quite a while. We decided to call it, and head back. After all, poor little B was probably burning up in her little yellow fur coat. Not a terrible fishing day, but the heat was tough to bare– for us, and apparently for the fish. Supposedly this lake is filled with bass, so we certainly just scraped the surface on this one. We will return to see what we can garner next time.

McKellar’s Pond #2

Given our success at McKellar’s the first time, we decided to go at it again and see what we’d come up with. This time, we entered from McKellar’s road to a dirt path that had little wooden posts next to it– more of a “main” entrance. We took a left, following the small creek that borders the pond, and settled  in the north, directly across from the Peninsula. We took with us two Shakespeare 7′ Ugly Sticks, and one 7′ PLUSINNO Spinning telescopic rod, in addition to a 5′ telescopic for casting. We used both size 5/0 treble hooks, and size 5/0 circle hooks. Bait was chicken blood doughs, little stinker dip bait, and cut bait we saved from last time (blue gill). The setup was the same as last time– casted out as far as possible, and posted into the ground with rod holders. At the same time, we threw a couple free lines in for baitfish. As soon as evening hit (6pm and forward) the hits started coming!

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We were catching a lot of channels, but at the same time missing a lot. This sort of brought up a hook size debate. Circle hooks in particular work by turning and grabbing the side of the fish’s lips, which is why you generally do not have to “set” the hook like you do bait hooks and others. But the issue is if the bait covers the space between the tip and the rest of the hook too much, the hook has a tendency to bounce out. We experimented a lot with bait sizing, but we only had the 5/0 hooks so stuck with them.

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Seriously, the cats kept coming in! It was a great fishing day. Brook had fun, too. She is very well trained now so she is allowed off the leash and she is too scared to run away from us in the dark anyways. I do worry  about other angler’s trash though. God forbid she get into a discarded hook. Let that be a lesson– PLEASE clean up after yourself when fishing. If not for the good of the environment, for those of us who bring out furry friends out there.

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I just had to add this picture in because it was taken right after Dan slapped himself in the face with a big chunk of stinky cut bait, which I found HILARIOUS. As usual, he was mad at me for laughing at his expense, hence the facial expression…

The next cat we pulled up was a WEIRD surprise. Since we are relatively new in our channel cat angling escapades, we do a lot of studying of the fish’s anatomy, skin, fins, etc in order to better identify. We snag up a seemingly normal fish and Dan goes “This one’s all white!”

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Now check that out!  A ghost catfish in the night! Here’s it next to a regular channel for comparison:

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If you watch The Last Airbender, my immediate reaction was we have captures the OCEAN and the MOON spirits! Twi and La! Really cool catch anyways! It turns out to be an Albino Channel catfish, which is a VERY rare sighting in the wild. Similar albinos are bred in captivity for small fish tanks (much much smaller than this channel). It was a really cool surprise, and likely something we may never see again! Of course we released the beautiful moon spirit, lest the entire world fall out of balance.

GREAT day of catfishing on McKellar’s pond. This pond is quiet, pleasant and chock full of channels. We will be back!

 

 

McKellar’s Pond

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In eastern/central North Carolina there are a few common types of American catfish: Channels, Blues, bullheads and flatheads. Since we often had success catching Amur catfish we decided to go after their supposedly delicious American cousins. McKellar’s pond is located in Fayetteville, NC tucked into a few backroads. The pond overall isn’t very well kept. It was littered with trash and remains of slobby fishing parties. Sad– they do not have any staff or conservationists to clean up; It’s the fisherman’s responsibility and it looks like people just don’t care around here.

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Anyways, we set up three catfish rods (two ugly sticks, and one telescopic) with different baits ranging from chicken liver flavored dough baits, to “Little Stinker” dip bait, and even some night crawlers. We casted out the rods as far as possible, then tightened the line up and placed the rods into individual rod holders. Finished it off with a little clip on bell that way when a fish bites, we are alerted. We used treble hooks for the dip/dough and circle hooks for other baits. In the mean time, we used our short rods to do a little spin fishing for bass or panfish. We went the first few hours without too much luck until I ended up catching this little guy:

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Channel catfish are known to like to eat bluegill, so we cut him up into small 1-1.5in sections, discarding the fins and spines and slipped it onto circle hooks. It’s important to note that the way a circle hook works is that it twists and punctures the side of the fish’s mouth. So when baiting a circle hook you want to ensure you keep the gap between the point and the hook fairly clear. Bigger bait isn’t always better on a circle hook, especially a smaller one like the 5/0 we were using.

 

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Once the bluegill was on the hook and the sun began to set, the bites started coming. It’s a whole lot of fun when the bells start ringing on all the rods!

We ended up with a good amount of channel cats after the sun went down. Catfishing is a lot like carp fishing in Korea, where it’s pretty stationary and passive, but man it’s fun to bring ’em in once the bell jingles. In the mean time, we just hung out, drank, and played with Brook the entire time. We kept 3 cats to take home with us, and released the rest.

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We cleaned up our catches the next day, using a fairly simple technique of a diagonal cut behind the gills, a cut down the spine to the tail, and just slice the meat off the skin. We got four good filets out of it, which we pan fried up with some seasoned breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper and created some delicious cat fish po’boys.

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Always a great experienced to catch, clean, and cook. We have finally figured out how to catfish in America!

Dick’s Creek

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In the past few days, Dan moved up to North Carolina with Brook, and I am still in Georgia. My friends and I decided to plan a camping/fishing trip for the gang and our resident North Georgia native chose the beautiful, mountainous region of Dahlonega. The campsite we picked was located in an area called Dick’s Creek. This was a stunning creek bed, tumbling over a few waterfalls and stretching as far as the eye could see. We drove about 3 hours to get there, and nestled into a site in the corner. The trout was stocked seasonally with both browns and rainbows. Since we had never trout fished before, my friend advised us on a few different types of bait to try: canned corn, and salmon eggs. Similar to when we’re freelining for bass, you want to use as small a hook as possible with little to no weight.

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Of course little Brooky had to come with us. That’s basically my negotiation piece for anyone that asks me to hang out… its either both of us or none of us! Anyways, we head down to the river, and Dan and I decide to throw a couple lines in right at the base of that magnificent waterfall picture above. Brook didn’t like when we got more than an arms reach away from here, so she was yipping a little bit… It didn’t take us too long to start bringing ’em in! I started up on a piece of corn and reeled in a really nice Brown trout.

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Dan caught a few shortly after. We were able to walk up and down the creek to try different spots, and kept all our catches on a trout line in the water so they would stay fresh for the open fire cookout to take place later.  Honestly, we would have stayed in the same spot, but as usual once folks caught onto that we were bringing em in, they all congregated to adjacent locations and casted directly in front of us. Being Georgia, these people also had on overalls without any shirts underneath, etc…

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Here’s a picture of one of the rainbows I caught as well. We ended up with a total of 5 trout. We and my friend (after he fell into the creek, gave up, and went out again) brought in 6. He taught as a very simple way to clean the trout. Just make a clean cut behind the gills, then slit the bottom from cut to anus. After that, simply pull out the guts, toss them away and squeeze out the blood pooling near the spine. The camping trip was a huge success, lots of games, drinking, cooking, and fun. We had burgers and buttered trout cooked open the fire. Truly a good ole fashioned American time. Brook was having a great time, too, running 100mph around our camp site.

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Really fun first time trout fishing. Sadly since then, a wildfire burned most of Dick’s Creek area down to the ground. I am happy we were able to experience it before that disaster.

Twilight Pond (Again)

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Now this was a great day of fishing. A bit after our initial success at Twilight Pond, Dan, Brook and I decided to make our return. We used nightcrawlers again and a similar method to the first time– a sort of modified slow-pitch jigging. Almost off the bat we were getting bites left and right.  I was fighting a bass for a while, when I finally hooked him. I reeled him in in a frenzy and DISASTER STRUCK. The fish got away, and it felt like a big one, too. When I brought my line out, the hook was nowhere to be found. Was it big enough to have broken the line? Well, it happened AGAIN! And as it turned out, my knot was coming undone. Let me admit that I’d been really lazy with my spin reel knot tying because I never expected to get anything huge. Like I said before, my luck had been pretty poor in Georgia. So instead of a figure eight with a bight, I’d been doing like 5 square knots in a row. I know, I know… really idiotic. So I go over to fix this problem, and in the mean time Dan steps in my spot.

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And comes out with a HOG! We didn’t have a scale, but it was around 18 inches long, so assuming 3-4lb. A great catch! I have to say though I was a little butthurt that I moved away for a second and he snagged my nemesis. I definitely get a little competitive with catching! Anyways, we were fishing for food today, so we knocked this bad boy out and put him in the cooler. I retook my spot and got another bite.

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To my surprise I pulled out this flathead! Had no idea there were even catfish in this pond since it had recently been drained. Threw him in with the LMB to add some catfish nuggets to our future meal. Our luck kept going at this point.

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Pulled out 3 more pigs! Really great day of fishing since we were only there a few hours! Here’s one in comparison to Brooky:

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She always likes to give the fish a little sniff and a lick. Anyways, we threw a couple back and kept 3 largemouths and the flathead to go. Cleaned all four fish, and got some nice filets out of them. We seasoned with salt and pepper, washed with egg, and bathed in a combination of breadcrumbs, salt/pepper/garlic and other fry seasonings. We pan fried the bass in filets and the flathead in nuggets.

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Came out amazing. There’s always something extremely satisfying about catching, cleaning and cooking your own protein. Overall, a really successful day for fishing.