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Outdoor adventures: Hunter's guide to coping with an Indian summer

Are you drooling yet? It doesn't feel like hunting season, with the warm weather and all, but the bite on the Rock River is outstanding, as shown by this haul.
Are you drooling yet? It doesn't feel like hunting season, with the warm weather and all, but the bite on the Rock River is outstanding, as shown by this haul.

Eighty degrees ... are you kidding me? We have had enough heat for the year, in my opinion, and now that I got whitetails on the brain, the last thing I want is 80 dang degrees.

But sure enough, there was no typo in the forecast, and 80 degrees is what we got.

I knew as soon as I read it that I would be spending the day in the boat and not in a tree. So to the river I went, and what an awesome day of fishing I had.

Big slab crappies were the highlight. We weren’t getting them left and right, but fairly steady throughout the day. All in all, we must have brought some 50 crappies to the boat, keeping about 35.

But what really got me excited was some of our kicker fish – the resurgence of the ring perch, to be exact. Not since the days of ice fishing in the late-80s and early-90s have I seen good numbers of good-sized ring perch.

Well, if this week has been any indication as to what the future holds, I’d say they’re back. We landed about 15 of those pretty little bad boys, a dozen of them real good size, too. They were hitting my minnow-tipped jigs with authority and putting up a scrappy little fight. For their size, anyway.

Then there were the two rogue northern pike I hooked. These toothy critters really like to get it on. With light gear, you’re talking some serious fun.

Trying not to give too much or take too much is a tough thing to do. The whole time you want to pull them to the boat, you’re worrying about straightening out your small hook. So you give more line the whole time, yelling “Swim this way, stupid!”

Seems like they rarely listen to that logic, either. But it’s just a ton of fun battling good fish like that.

On the day we brought not only these three species of fish to the boat, but many others as well. Catfish, bluegill, bowfin and largemouth bass also fell for our offerings.

The doggone channel cat dang nearly ripped the pole from my buddy’s hands as he jigged, waiting for a small panfish to bite. We were unsure what he had until the fish got to the boat. We just knew it was a strong fish. No surprise it was a channel cat, though.

With the cold front rolling in, my mind is back to the monster buck I’m after. Reports abound of sightings of bucks chasing does, bucks sparring, and massive rubs and scrapes popping up. That gets a deer hunter’s blood boiling and makes thoughts of anything other than hunting incredibly boring.

What’s that old saying about hunting season? “We interrupt this marriage to bring you deer season.” It’s something to that effect.

Right now, I’m deep-frying crappie and perch fillets and hen of the woods mushrooms, to boot. What are you doing? You thinking about making a little trip to the river? Maybe a sit in a favorite tree stand? How about some eagle-watching?

Here is an idea for next weekend: Start with a Friday night deer hunt, then a Saturday morning duck hunt. Follow that with a mid-day playoff football game, then an evening back on the deer stand. After that, off to the river for a morning of fishing on Sunday. Enjoy a lunch of fresh fish and an ice-cold beverage, and then top the weekend off with a Sunday evening sunset. From a boat, a tree stand or your porch, a sunset is an awesome way to unwind and prepare for the upcoming week.

Remember, we only get so many, so enjoy every one like it’s your last.

Go Catfish!

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