Ladies on the Lake - Volume 1

Although I have grown up in the great outdoors and love all things on the land and the lake, I am a bit ashamed to admit that I really know nothing about fishing. Then, why on earth am I writing for a fishing website you may ask? Well, to put it simply--to learn--from finding the best attire and equipment to discovering why bait comes in so many pretty colors (Hint: it's not just to look pretty). The first time I went fishing, I stood on the bank of my grandmother's pond and caught perch, named them, and then set them free. The first time that I went "real" fishing, in a boat, on the lake--I had quite the adventure, as you will see below. Turns out, it really is a lot more than just sitting there, watching a bobber in the water. It's relaxing, entertaining, and exhilarating--all at once. Therefore, I am starting a women's series of "all things fishing." I will be writing about some of the basics of life on the lake, cover issues targeted directly to women, and of course, interview and post stories of some fabulous ladies of the lake. I challenge you to no longer just "accompany" your husband or significant other on the lake! Take charge and show HIM a thing or too. So, won't you learn with me? This month's article is just a little teaser, meant to bring out a chuckle or two regarding a few lessons that I learned from personal experience during some of my first few times fishing--also known as "things to do and not do on and off the boat." So, if you want to learn right along with me, go out to Academy and buy yourself that pretty new pink fishing hat and shiny lures. Let's get started. Things NOT to do on the boat. 1. Nag your husband/boyfriend/significant other. This will get you nowhere. Do not whine or complain that you are bored/hot/tired/etc. You are in this for the long haul, which very well could mean all day. Know what you are getting yourself into. Nagging on the boat is the equivalent of a child saying "Are we there yet" on a cross country road trip, except the chances of him "turning the boat around" are not nearly as likely. You will most likely end up overboard. 2. Dress to impress. Sure, go ahead and wear that cute, pink fishing visor and shirt, but stop there. I once wore a cute sun dress. I regretted it not just that day (think wind and awkwardness getting on and off the boat) but for the rest of the week as I dealt with some ugly tan lines. 3. Forget sun safety. One word--sunblock--not tanning spray. I'm talking SFP 100. Put it everywhere, even on a cloudy day. Wear a hat. Wear a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt. Leave the bikini at home. Wear proper shoes--not flip flops. Flip flops are have the words "flip" and "flop" for a reason. Both apply when trying to get on and off a boat. Learn from my fail. 4. Work. You are here to RELAX. I once decided to try to grade papers (I'm a college instructor) and it was disastrous. Wind, water, and paper simply don't mix. My students thought their papers had been through a hurricane when I returned them with ink smears, water marks, and warped edges. As for taking a laptop or other electronic device? Well, I don't think I have to say that they obviously don't work well with water either. Things don't seem to work so well after having sunk to the bottom of the lake. Cell phone reception down there pretty well stinks too. 5. Talk (too much). Or squeal. I'm a "Chatty Cathy" as much as the next woman, but out on the lake, well, fish just aren't that conversational. And your fishing partner very likely won't be either. Conversation every now and again, (using your "inside voice") is fine and dandy, but don't go overboard, or you're likely to end up overboard. Things can get exciting when you catch the big one and that is cause for celebration, but there will be times when you see something or have to do something that you'd rather not. Don't squeal or scream. Yes, there are worms, and guts, and some smelly things involved with fishing, but you have to accept it. 6. Suddenly become a PETA advocate. This involves begging to throw all of the fish back, continuously trying to free them from the live well, petting them, or especially naming them. I'm as much of an animal lover as the next person, in fact, I love most animals more than most people, but God put some animals on this earth for a reason, fish included. If you name them, it's all over. When it comes supper time around the campfire, you are going to starve. Some of my fondest fish friends were "Carl," "Billy the Fish," and "Margaret." 7. Bring your dog. Unless your dog is specially trained to chase catfish, leave Rover at home. Although my three dogs love the lake, and even a boat ride every now and again, there's too much at stake. Rover could easily get in the way, fall overboard, get sick or even steal your dinner from the live well. Not to mention, all the dangerous hooks and sharp instruments and string that could easily get hung or hooked in his fur, or worse, throat. That's an expensive fishing trip--one that leads to an emergency vet trip. Settle for telling Rover all your tall tales when you get home. 8. Drink or eat too much. Obviously, drinking alcoholic beverages isn't ever a good idea when a motor vehicle is involved, so use caution, but regarding snacks and water and soft drinks---ladies, not only can continuous trips to the bank be time consuming, it can be dangerous. Muddy banks are where the gators and snakes like to play and when you make a "perfect 10 face plant" like I did while trying to jump to the shore for a bathroom break, then you might be in some real trouble. You'll likely knock the pee out of yourself and be covered in mud (although that can make for some pretty effective sunscreen). 9. Forget your lifejacket and license. When Mr. Game Warden comes along, you and your wallet will be much happier. Making sure you have your license is equivalent to having your car registration, and having your lifejacket is equivalent to putting on your seatbelt in a car. In other words, it's important, keeps you safe, and you'll save a lot of trouble, or even your life. 10. Be afraid. --of the water, of the fish, of the worms, of backing the boat down the boat ramp, of making a mistake. The fish certainly aren't going to judge you. You are out here to learn and making mistakes is the best way to do that. Things TO do 1. Learn. Observe. Ask questions. How else are you going to outfish your husband? 2. Be open-minded. When out on the open water, you may be exposed to all kinds of advice or conversation. Just go with it. This is also a great way to learn and expand your mind. 3. Enjoy God's work. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. Count the stars. Count your lucky stars because you are on the lake and not in the office. Take a camera (just not an expensive one!) Being in nature can really help you gain a new perspective on life. Take pictures to remind yourself. 4. Relax. Cast a line and cast your worries aside. There's a certain hypnotizing affect that drifting in a boat has on the soul. Don't think about all the troubles you may have at home or work. Leave your problems at the boat dock. 5. Be prepared for any weather. Rain, shine, hot, or cold--anytime is fishing time--and you may have to weather the storm--literally. Once, I was in a terrible sudden thunderstorm in the middle of the lake. The waves nearly capsized us and there was no shelter from the rain and wind. This also happened to be the time I took my dog. He nearly fell overboard and he got sea sick. It was not pretty. 6. Be safety conscious. I am extremely accident prone. I trip over nothing, cut myself on cotton swabs, and burn after 10 minutes in the sun. I've fallen off a boat, flipped a boat, and cut my hand on a hook. None of these things were pretty. Bring a first aid kit and be careful out there. It's a long trip to the emergency room. 7. Bring something to do. If you wish to do something other than fish, bring something to do. Bring a camera and take pictures, just not an expensive one. Unfortunately, pictures of the bottom of the lake just aren't that pretty and they come out a bit dark. Bring a book or a pillow--entertain yourself or take nap. 8. Hang out at the fishing lodge. There's more to fishing than just being on the boat. It's an experience, and a very social one at that. Meet the locals, talk to the owners of the Marina, ask where the good fishing spots are, look at the pictures of record catches, and enjoy the local food (most likely caught from the lake). 9. Listen to "tall tales" of old fisherman. Remember when you were a kid and you loved listening to fairy tales? Why not fish tales? Make someone's day and simply listen. You can learn a lot by learning from the wise who have "been there, done that." Learn about the "one that got away" or just "how big" that bass really was. You'll want someone to listen to your stories one day. 10. FISH! You'll enjoy the experience much more if you can actually put the "fish" in fishing. Otherwise, you're just doing nothing. Don't give up. Once, all I caught all day were sticks. Guess what? I still had a blast. So whether, you intend to catch a bass, gator, minnow, or even a guy, get out there and fish! You might catch more than you thought, but regardless, it's called fishing, not catching, for a reason. But, if all else fails, remember the following quote goes both ways: "Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend." ~Zenna Sch

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Hi: 49

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Mostly Clear

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jan. 19)

GOOD. Water stained; 55-58 degrees; 3.33 feet low. Fishing remains the same as we head into another cold front. Bass are good on Carolina rigs and crankbaits in the points, ditches and drains. Crappie are good on live minnows, then jigs after the live bite subsides. You will find them in creeks and river channels. Catfish are good in shallow to 15 feet of water, moving towards the creeks. Report by Lynn Atkinson, Reel Um N Guide Service.

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