Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not Enough Time in The Day.......

.....Bring out the lights! As usual I have bitten off a bit more than I can chew and I run out of daylight pretty much daily. A little honda generator and some sets of jobsite lights have remedied that problem! I actually got a head mounted flash light for Christmas.

Got the underground plumbing in on Wednesday evening and am getting ready to set the floor joists maybe even this weekend if I can get caught up on everything else. (Theres no hope of getting caught up, but such is life).

Every spare moment has been working on my house. During the days I have been to really cool places like Brownstown, St. Elmo, and Tolono. This week was extra special because on Tuesday morning down in Southern Illinois before a new lake consultation I was fed the best breakfast on the planet by Connie from Brownstown!

Yep, the highlight this week isn't fishing (there isnt a whole lot of that going on...) Gourmet French Toast, Homemade Biscuits and Gravy, Ham and Potato Casserole, and Cinnamon Rolls so good I keep dreaming about them several times per day.

Anyhow after I get done writing this blog post I will be putting together a lake stocking plan for Jim over near Burlington, Iowa. He has a brand new 6 acre lake that he wants to grow trophy largemouth, smallmouth, and bluegill. He doesnt want to wait so he is getting a heavy dose of shiners and fatheads and superior genetic bluegill first thing this spring, and then wants to go the route of stocking feed trained largemouth and feed trained smallmouth bass in advanced sizes just a couple months later. 50 LMB and 50 SMB per acre which is a bit more than what I normally stock for a trophy bass pond, but since all the bass will be feed trained we can support quite a few more than typical. He is gonna have a very fun fishing pond and a full fledge feeding program!

Ryan down in Southern Illinois has a brand new 5 acre pond that I will be posting pictures of next week. The habitat he has created on the bottom is unbelievable, stay tuned for those pics. Anyhow he also wants a trophy largemouth and smallmouth pond, but is going at it from a different approach. He is going to stock less fatheads and shiners initially and give them more time to populate on their own. Than we will stock fingerling not feed trained LMB and SMB. Ryan is still going to feed the bluegills which in turn will produce extra forage for the bass to eat. His feeding program will be way less intense, but he is going to have an unbelievable awesome fishing pond.

Every lake stocking plan I do is completely customized to the owner and their exact situation. I have been setting up lots of crappie ponds lately which is super fun!

Anyhow, there will be a wedding at this little pond in June for a clients daughter and I need to build a big removable dock and figure out how to do some awesome floating candles for the pond for the wedding/photos.

Also we are tinkering with the idea of fishing gear/fishing for them for some of the wedding photos as well. Here are some photos from my sisters wedding where I got the idea for them from. (these are printed photos that I snapped a pic of with a cell phone so the quality isnt too great, but you get the concept).

The thing I love about my job is the diversity and being able to be very creative. When I started the pond management company full time back in '07 I could only visualize killing algae and lake weeds and stocking some fish.

So right now I got quite a few different things on my mind, the bulk of which never makes the pages of the blog. First off main thing right now is those cinnamon rolls, and well none of the other stuff really matters...I'll get er all done. It was a shame how there was quite a bit of the icing left on the bottom of the cinnamon roll platter. I sneaked a couple scoops of it off when no one was looking, but really just wanted to pick up and lick the plate off clean. Brook's been trying to teach me table manners, but all bets are off when some really good icing could potentially go to waste....

I actually made some homemade egg nog on Christmas Eve. I read a few recipes online and then kind of took the best attributes from them all and created the best egg nog on the planet! I cant wait for New Years to make another batch.... I made a gallon and a half and it all got gobbled up pretty quickly. I never realized how many eggs were in egg nog, I am gonna have a whole shopping cart full of eggs this weekend!!

Drake got a stuffed fish for Christmas, among a million other things from grandparents, cousins, etc. Anyhow the fish is his favorite, booyah! Thats my boy. Brook got a pair of muck boots and some flannel lined jeans (for working on the house).

Hey, if we ever get ice, make sure to save the date of Saturday, January 21st. I will hopefully be posting the details soon, but make sure to SAVE that DATE! You dont want to miss this event, gonna be so much fun with super good food.

Jim is gonna have to wait till next year for his fish stocking plan, cause I got real tired finishing this blog post and my whole body is sore and getting stiffer by the moment from all the digging and grading of my basement floor. Only two days left of 2011! Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fishing Blog is Back!

Gonna try to catch up on the pictures from the last month. Got quite a few deer pics, fish pics, food pics and such.

First off I was pretty excited to find my pic on the cover of Fishing Facts January issue! I didnt have a clue until today. Be sure to pick up a copy at your local sporting good retailer!!

That pic was actually taken at Otter Creek Preserve last year while filming with InFisherman TV for the Ice Fishing Guide Series airing this season. Fishing Facts has been teaching people how to fish since probably before I was even born!

Speaking of Otter Creek, right now Chef Todd and I are putting together an ice fishing event of epic proportions on Saturday, January 21st at Otter Creek. Mark your calendars and save the date! More details about this event to come very soon, stay tuned. We actually filmed a commercial for the event this afternoon so definitely stay tuned for this one! Lots of fun!!

Chef Todd cooked a company Christmas Dinner for Lone Wolf Concrete. He had a special 10 lb lobster flown in and then he bacon wrapped the cubed lobster chunks, cooked em and then put the lobster bites back into the prepared shell and used it as a serving dish....Here is the before:

So here is a new way we found to cook loin meat and all kinds of stuff for that matter. Edwin introduced Jared who introduced me and now I am hooked! It is a Himalayan or Siberian or some sort of amazing miracle salt stone. Just heat up this stone made of salt in the oven or on the grill and then place it on the counter and put your meat on the stone. Less than a minute on the stone and your ready to eat fully seasoned meat. This thing is my new favorite contraption of all time! (I dont even own one yet, but am hoping to get one of my own for Christmas, hint hint, wink wink!)

Thursday was my 9th wedding anniversary. Nine years! Yep we got married very young, not too long after graduating from high school and still a teenager. I actually had no plans of getting married and most people had me pegged as lifelong mountain man, but when Brook came along it was game over for me...

So anyhow to celebrate our anniversary we got to spend some quality time together shoveling mud off of our footings and footing tiles until well after dark. We already had a baby sitter lined up for the evening... The rain the day before caused quite a bit of mud to cave in the sides of our basement and this time of year we can't afford any setbacks when trying to get the rest of the foundation in place so there we were scooping mud under the lights of my F250 which we also managed to get stuck and had fun getting out. Picture perfect anniversary!

We got er done and got the footing tiles in and covered with pea gravel and now are hoping to pour basement walls at the end of this week! As bummed as I am about not having ice for fishing, I am pretty thankful for the mild weather for building this house. Here are some pics of the boys watching the basement get dug:

Another story about Brook is that her birthday was last week as well. She got a new tool belt, tape measure, hammer, spead square, utility knife, push broom, and garbage can. The kids thought it was the best gifts ever and helped me wrap em each individually! She was definitely surprised!! Can't wait to see what Santa brings her for Christmas this year....

Here are some long overdue deer hunting pics. I only made it out for one morning deer hunt this year and actually just carried a video camera. Once my kids are old enough to deer hunt ( year....) I will be able to get back out into the woods!!!

These ladies are my nieces holding up the deer their daddy shot!

Greg Grimes shot this knarly buck out at Otter Creek:

Client from western Illinois emailed this pic of a snake from her pond eating a catfish.

Buddy Tyler shot this monster Fulton County 9 pointer earlier in the season!!!!

Ella and her younger sister (sorry Rachel and Drew, cant think of her name right now and Brook is already sleeping) holding up a 10 pointer that Jay shot.

My mom holding up a Fulton County buck. She wont admit it, but she was pretty excited to be on that hunt!

My friend Neil's son shot this beast earlier this season as well!

Good friend Steve Ryan has been catching some awesome fish this fall. About every weekend I get amazing pics from Minnesota, or Michigan, or Thailand, or somewhere crazy awesome to fish. He will be at Otter on the 21st snapping photos, but in the mean time here are a few recent pics from him this fall:

I still have a ton of Colorado trout fishing pics to post, but again will have to wait for another chance. I got to get to sleep. I just might have a few too many things happening all at once to function normally. Hey, any chance you get to email over some good hunting, fishing, trail cam or outdoor photos please do! Checking out cool photos is a nice break!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nate's Construction Blog

Unless we get some ice soon, the name of the blog will probably have to be changed to Nate's Construction Blog, as opposed to Nate's Fishing Blog.

On Monday, I am digging the basement to my house and man am I ever excited to build a house on nights and weekends during the dead of winter! I am excited, but its gonna be a pretty busy winter, even without building a house, but for anyone who knows me, I pretty much always have a few too many irons in the fire all at once. Business as usual I guess....

Keeping with the construction theme, the last few weeks I have been working on a poolhouse addition for a client in Morton. On top of that been working nights and Saturdays on building my brothers house near Wildlife Prairie Park (just two blocks away from where I will be building).

Also this week on Thursday I traveled to Tolono, IL to help an association come come up with a renovation plan for their subdivision retention pond. Tuesday I was in Havana going over some projects with the I am very excited and will announce some of that coming up in the next week or so! Last week I was near Camden, IL consulting with a guy who just picked up a new 300 acre farm for deer hunting and fishing! Very neat project!

Every other spare moment has been spent getting house plans, permits, writing articles for several outdoor magazines this month and playing with the kids. I have to say that I am only home one morning per week when they wake up and my 30 second long Sunday morning hug from Drake when I get him out of his crib has to be the highlight of my week. Changing his soaking wet diaper 1 minute later definitely isnt a highlight, but hey I guess it just comes with the territory.

The weather forecast doesnt look to good for ice fishing anytime soon, but it actually looks great for getting my basement dug and foundation put in. I don't know what type of weather to pray for this winter? Most of you are probably thinking duh, no brainer- cold weather for ice fishing, but the thought does cross my mind, maybe a 60 degree winter wouldnt be so bad just for this one ice fishing season.......

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Fishing Today!!!

I still have more Colorado trout fishing pics and recent deer hunting stories to post, just been busy finishing up some projects for the year and helping my brother build his house every spare moment, plus getting ready to dig the basement to my own house to build in about a week, lets hope for some good weather eh? I pretty much have a million things happening at all times, this winter definitely is going to stretch me a bit further than usual.....the last house I built took me 8 months of nights and weekends, but it sure wasnt during the dead of winter..... but anyhow here is a fish story from today.....First a quick pic of a cool Colorado trout:

I was standing 8 feet in the air on a ladder this morning nailing concrete siding onto my brother Chad's house when my mom and dad pull up to check on progress and drop off some supplies. They were headed out to the lake to finish winterizing a few things...We got to talking and dad said he sure would like to sneak out on the water this afternoon and try to catch a few fish before she freezes up solid.

Well it took him alot of persuading, begging, pleading, and convincing but finally after he literally dragged me down the ladder by my ear and carried me into the truck I decided to head out for one last fishing hurrah. Honest Chad, he really needed me today and forced me to go.

Anyhow we grabbed some minnows at Kersch in Farmington and were on the water in no time. It was windy, but warm enough to endure the stiff breeze. We found some crappie and bass hanging in the tree tops in about 14 feet of water. We had to anchor to fish them effectively. Just dropping jigs and minnows down onto them.

Then we went to the striper hole and sure enough they were still there, only hanging a bit deeper than where they hang in the summer. About 20 feet down and we hooked up with 7 stripers using half nightcrawlers slow bounced on the bottom. Man are they fun to catch!!!

We ran out of trolling motor battery about 50 yards from shore and ended blowing down a few hundred yards farther than the boat dock....

To be honest I really dont fish too much in November, but I always know I am missing out on some incredible fishing. I missed a couple very large fish today trolling out to my fishing spot today and last November I only fished like twice and caught these following BIG fish:

I might just have to start fishing more late fall, it just seems the changing of the seasons and cold weather turns our minds toward hunting and such. Anyhow, next year you can bet I will be doing quite a bit more November fishing. Today we only fished about 2 hours and last year probably only 6-8 hours for a grand total of less than 10 hours of November fishing over a 2 year span. Next year I am going to try and fish for 40 hours in November and see what I can get figured out and catch, gonna be interesting........

Monday, November 21, 2011

Elk Hunt Finale

So last night Dean spotted a mega herd of Elk grazing up near a place they call the Saddle! He figured they would mill around there all night and then head up the mountain early in the morning. Our plan was to get me and Jared posted into strategic positions well before sunrise. Supposedly there were only a few good places for the elk to pass through en route to their bedding zones. The wind direction that morning narrowed down the two best places to sit and wait!

So again I woke up this morning and couldnt move. I was basically paralyzed in my bed with internal chemicals locking up all my muscles. I needed some WD-40 or something to loosen up all the rusting joints......... Anyhow we ate some breakfast, I attempted some yoga like exercises and we were out the door.

We needed to get into position in the dark and had a couple miles of atv driving and a couple miles of intense hiking ahead of us. Adam, Rand, and I headed out one way and Jared and Josh headed to the other spot. Even though I am writing this in hindsight, we had a pretty good feeling about today being the day! Rand was coming along to film the adventure and he did a phenomenal job!! TV quality stuff he took, I will have the video hopefully ready in a week or so!

The intense hiking started out great, but when we realized the elk herd was already on the move before sunrise, our hike turned into a jog! Our trail was on a bluff overlooking the saddle and we could hear the elk milling about below us as, very very cool experience. A 300 lb man jogging at full speed and trying to be sneakily quiet on snowy icy trail in the dark along a cliff up in the mountains. This kind of thing you basically can only do in the dark, because in the daylight you can see and are much more cautious. It always amazes me how walking through thick timber and terrain is easier in the dark......if you spend time in the woods I know you have experienced the whole how did I make it through there once it gets daylight and you can see.....

Anyhow, we finally make it into a good position and there were already a handful of elk making there way through the pass. A small herd of 9 elk were just 250 yards away and coming into the perfect clearing for a shot. If you look at this pic, right in the center there is white snow covered opening in the brush halfway up the hill. The elk were moving from the bottom right of the pic up the trail to the left in a single file line. The first 5 elk had already made it past that opening and were in the thick brush. The other 4 elk were in the scrub brush near the center of the pic heading right into that opening in the center!

There was a big cow, a calf, a spike bull, and a yearling cow still to come out into the opening! I was huffing and puffing and trying my best to send oxygen evenly throughout my body! I got my gun up on the sticks and put the crosshairs onto the big cow in the scrub brush. I was pleasently surprised to find out that my scope was 50% frozen around the edges with only the center not frosted over.......not cool.

The cow steps out into the opening and the calf decides to come up and walk right behind the cow. They would take a few steps and the gingerly graze for a bit. They werent in a hurry. Just a waiting game that probably was only a minute or two and finally there was the cow in the middle of the opening with a clear shot. This was it, they didnt have a clue that we were there and I knew that this was the time.

It wasnt easy finding the cow in the frosted over scope, but I held er as steady as possible and gently squeezed the trigger! I put the 180 grain bullet from my 300 win mag right into that elk's heart at 218 yards! You can see in this pic that she ran a few steps down the hill from the clearing and then just died in stride and slid down the rest of the hill. She is laying at the bottom only 30 yards from where she was shot!

Man I was so pumped up, what an unbelievable feeling and also sense of relief to drop an elk in plain sight! Dream of harvesting an elk just came true! Big game hunting like this is something I have dreamed about my whole life and is one of those things that you just never know if you will ever take the initiative to make it actually happen.

When it became reality I just stepped back and thanked God for amazing experience and opportunity! There is something about the mountains that seem to draw you closer to Him. I also can't thank Edwin enough for turning the dream into reality, he made the whole trip possible for Jared and I! Putting together a big game hunt is kind of an intimidating task, the experiences I learned from this trip will stick with me and be an asset to me forever!!

So it turned out that we only spooked the first 9 elk coming through the pass. 3/4 mile away we could see a mega herd consisting of 79 elk and a big herd 1/4 mile behind them that was about 30 or so. They were headed this way too and we were fortunate to have an awesome front row seat for Jared's hunt!! The elk were headed our way and Jared and Josh were getting set up!

We watched Jared and Josh sneak into position about 1/4 mile behind and below us. By the time they got down the hill into a good position, they actually spooked the mega herd. In this pic, the mega herd is down along where the tree line meets the snow covered saddle. They made it through the pass while Jared was getting set up down in that pinch point.

Here is a zoomed in portion of the above pic showing the mega elk herd.

So the 30 or so elk bringing up the rear didnt get spooked by Jared and when they came through the pass Jared took aim and dropped his cow right in her tracks! A perfect 247 yard shot. So nice not to have to track elk through the mountains.

We were able to film his hunt from our location which was super awesome, but unfortunately we were zoomed in on the back part of the herd and he dropped a cow from the front. Oh well, not easy to film a hunt from 1/4 mile away, but still very cool footage to have both hunts on the same film with the camera rolling!

We both waited for the perfect opportunity and let me just say that how this hunt went down couldnt have been scripted any better! For this to come together so smoothly was no easy task! If I was just 5 minutes later getting into position I would have missed my opportunity at the elk headed up my trail. If Jared would have been just 2 minutes later getting into position he would have been too late as well.

Jared and his nice Cow! These animals are HUGE compared to whitetail deer. Unbelievable how big they are and how they move and live in the mountains!

Dean and his brother in law Dave pretty happy on this fine day!

The whole team dives right into the field dressing of the elk! (except Dean and Dave, they have passed on those duties to the young bucks!) Jared's elk dropped just a 1/4 mile down the saddle from mine! Very nice and convenient, especially since we could get the ATV's right up to each animal!

After we got done field dressing both elk, we decided to hike back heart attack hill as opposed to riding back on the atv's. Kind of like our last hurrah with the mountainous terrain, kind of like our we kicked some serious mountain rear end, kind of like marching back from war victorious, kind of like 30 more minutes of pain just because riding back on the atv's just didnt seem right. (sending the elk back on the atv's seemed perfectly appropriate though....)

We knew we could conquer the hill, because just about the time our own adrenaline would wear off, we knew Edwins energy beans would start to kick in!!

We finally, eventually made it back to camp and ate some lunch and took some more pics! Jared and I posing with our freshly hung elk meat!!

We got some fun photos with our whole hunting group!

After we got done taking care of the elk and eating lunch, we headed out to the only 2 ponds not frozen over to do some trout fishing! I ran out of time and will be posting more trout fishing photos in the next post!

One of the better days of my entire life. The sun was shining and I got to enjoy the fruits of some of the most remarkable lake and land management on the planet. What Dean and his family have put together over the last 100 years is simply uncomparable to anything I have ever seen to date. Definitely inspiring to see land being intensively managed by the same family for over 100 years! What I learned here will stick with me forever!