My Shirley went on her annual visit to Colorado to play with our friend Valerie, so I and Rad played bachelor for a few days. Val was/is a former love of mine and is My Shirley’s best friend. When My Shirley and I eloped, Val was the only one with us. She was bride’s maid, maid of honor, best man, flower girl, photographer, chauffeur, and everything else we needed.
Val and her husband John now live in Westcliffe, Colorado with big game in their backyard, their dogs, and rattlesnakes. No neighbors, cell phone service, or stores. Church service is held in a barn. Quite the place for My Shirley to decompress and eat lobster and chocolate cake and watch movies and gossip and play scrabble. Girl’s nights out for them now are muchly different than they were when they were teenagers. I know. There was this one time… nevermind.
Anyway, it was Boy’s nights out at my place. Rad helped with everything, including hanging a new ceiling fan in our bedroom, which inconveniently threw out my back. I’m writing this in a doctor’s office, waiting for my MRI. Good times. My wallet also hurts, still smoldering after paying my deductible.
I got to go out fishing one night as my previous fantasies dictated. I planned to hunt catfish and bullfrogs. Both are delicious, and I have some delectable recipes for them. I went to my sportsman’s club where I shoot, to a couple of ponds I caught glimpses of before. The ponds were in the deep woods, yards away from the Kishwaukee river.
The mosquitoes blanketed me. Covered me. Suffocated me. Enveloped me. I squished many between my eyelids just blinking. I ingested scores. They tunnelled into my ears and nose. Beer was involved, and my American lingham was never at such risk to be bitten as on that night. Unbelievable. I kicked them out of the tall grass every step I took. I was so covered with bug dope I had a varnish-like sheen on me. But it worked. Remember to keep the bug dope off of many plastic items, in fear of melting them.
I view fishing gear the same as firearms, meaning, “Buy the best you can afford and use it to its capacity”. I do not baby any gear I own. This night I used one of my favorite St. Croix light spinning rods, a bulletproof Ugly Stik, a G Loomis and a Shimano, all with various Shimano spinning reels with braided lines.
My Skum Frog didn’t gather too much skum from the surface, and casted well, so that’s what I went around the ponds and reconnoitered with. No luck. Not many other lures would’ve worked.
The mosquitoes were being assimilated into every pore of my skin, and it was a mind game to not let them take over my world. Thank god for good bug dope. And lots of it. Often.
The frogs were too small to eat, but there were a goodly amount of them. If you have never gigged frogs, I highly recommend it. It is easy to do, but sometimes scary dependent on conditions. Sometimes I wade the shore with gig in hand and whatever lights I care to use at the time. Lights freeze frogs. Lights freeze frogs like statues. Be swift and sure and AIM HARD with your gig outfit of choice, bring them in and cut their heads off to kill them quickly. Take the legs and throw the carcasses back in for food. My current favorite gig outfit is a standard four-pronger, but the wooden shaft is from a 12 foot long branch-trimming pole I use to trim trees in my yard. I also usually drill a hole in the end of the shaft and install a large key ring, that I tie to about 15 feet of parachute cord that I tie to my belt loop in case I want to throw the gig and retrieve it again.
I also use a light spinning rod with soft body topwater lures like mice. Big bullfrogs will sometimes hop over lilly pads FAST like flailing aquatic coyotes and swallow the lure in a second. The lure has hooks, but invariably, they are not impaled. They’re just stubborn. They fill their mouths with the lure, and sometimes they’re not even choosy. They JUST WON’T LET GO! All you have to do is reel them in. The limit in Illinois is 8 frogs, so that’s 16 legs. Sometimes each leg is as big around as your thumb, and has lots of meat. This is extraordinary food with myriad preparations available.
My flashlights of choice that night were the Bushnell 165 lumen Anthracite LED flashlight, my bulletproof long term reliable Pelican 2680 Heads Up Recoil LED headlamp, my new favorite small headlamp, the Princeton Tech Tactical Quad headlamp, the ASP Sapphire light with blue LED that I always have as a minimum, and my favorite Browning Tactical Hunter light with the red filter in one of my tackle boxes.
I wore the outstanding ATN NVM-14 Gen 4 monocular for most of the blackest of night. In the midst of the black I was fishing and hiking, walking around in the sticky, stagnant, bug dope dripping, mosquito swarming fetid liquid air with my 12 foot gig and hiking boots and not much else. I could see several hundred yards using the headgear-mounted night vision monocular, since it was clear and the moon and stars were bright. I fished with the night vision unit attached for much of the night. Lots of good surreal experimentation in the deep woods.
I caught four catfish that night, too small to keep. I had so much fun, but missed My Shirley.