Nature Boost Podcast - Fishing
>> Hey there and welcome back to another episode of Nature Boost. I am Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation. I am very excited about this episode today. We are talking about a real seasonal activity that so many people enjoy in the warmer months. I am talking about fishing. Here with me to give me more insight into this activity is NBC's new wildlife artist, Alexis Joyce, she goes by AJ. AJ. I am so happy that you are taking the time to talk to me because you are a very accomplished bass angler.
>> Thank you so much. That means a lot.
>> Well, I mean, that is what I have heard. Your reputation around the office is that you are killing it in the fishing game.
>> Well I am glad it is spreading a little bit; it is something that I enjoy.
>> So how long have you been fishing?
>> Oh gosh. In reality, since I was a little kid. We used to always catfish when I was little. But bass fishing, probably since high school so maybe about ten years, just before high school. Probably about ten years.
>> How many tournaments have you been in?
>> Oh goodness. I don't know if I could even count now. I have been doing fishing tournaments probably since the same time as starting, and here recently within the last few years it has picked up the pace a lot. I am fishing anywhere between 5-10 maybe 15 tournaments a year now.
>> Oh wow, gosh.
>> Yes, especially now.
>> What really fostered your love for fishing? Was it your family? Is your family big anglers?
>> A little bit of that. It was a good pastime to spend with family. It was also a big thing with nature. I love being out in nature, it is another way to enjoy it. It also has a little bit of a mental stimulation to it, too. It is relaxing for me but also at the same time presents a challenge for me to figure out. It can be a lot of fun to enjoy with family, with friends, by yourself.
>> Well and that and this is something that I know listeners probably get sick of me talking about this. I bring it up almost every episode. But there is so much research about how being in green spaces, near blue spaces, near water, how that is just so relaxing, and it is good for your mental and physical health.
>> For sure. For sure. It was a big thing for me in college. It was like an escape from all the heavy workloads. Just to escape, and go on the water, even for an hour made a world of difference to my mentality and my work ethic. It was amazing.
>> Just a great way to destress, too.
>> Yeah. Oh yeah.
>> So, let's get into this. So, I really want to talk about if you have never fished before what are the absolute basics that you need to know about. So, the first thing that comes to my mind is okay, if you are going to go out on a fishing trip, you need to do it the proper way and obviously, getting a permit is very important.
>> Yeah. Very very important. You don't want to get caught by the law in the water.
>> Caught by Johnny Law.
>> So, we were talking about this earlier. A great thing for people to know about, you know we all have our phones with us, they are kind of an extension of us these days. But it is great because MDC has the MO Fishing App that you can get your fishing permit on this app and then that way it is always on your phone and very easy to keep with you.
>> Very easy. I have used it myself and it is a world of difference on the levels of easiness of access and finding it and keeping it with you.
>> So definitely check out the MO Fishing App. You can get your license on there. It is fairly cheap to get your fishing license, it is $12 dollars. That is for the whole year. Then you are totally set, don't have to worry about it, keep it on your phone and then you can just go out and enjoy your day of fishing.
So, the next thing we should talk about is obviously what kind of gear. What do you need to bring with you? What do you suggest for somebody who is just a total novice at this? An absolute beginner.
>> Just starting out, definitely your fishing rod, your fishing reel which goes on the rod. You have your tackle, so that can range from any sort of complexity. You've got your hooks; you've got your lures. I know a lot of people starting off like to use either live bait like minnows or worms. Some people like to use dough baits that are just a ball of mishmash of things the fish really like, which you can make them at home, or you can buy bags of them. They are great for like catfish and stuff.
>> Yeah, dough.
>> So just like balling up some bread or just. . . .?
>> It is a little bit of everything. I don't know what all goes into it. I haven't used them in forever. To be fair, the bagged versions of them smell awful. I don't know what is in them, but they smell awful.
>> I have never heard of that before.
>> Yeah, it's interesting. There is also just using household foods that you have - hot dogs, bread, don't give the bread to the birds, but give the bread to the fish.
>> Right, right.
Then there is the artificial side which a lot of bass fishermen use. Which is things that resemble the fish or crawdads or crawfish. There are other sorts of resemblances that they have out there that mimic what the fish usually eat. You need those things, you need your permit, sunscreen.
>> Again, that is a good thing too. You may not think about that. You are going to be outside for a few hours. You know you can get a sunburn in as little as thirty minutes.
>> Oh yeah. From personal experience and what I have always heard through the grapevine is that if you are going to use sunscreen use a spray one. The fish don't like it if you have handled a lure while having sunscreen on your hands. If you use like a rub on sunscreen.
>> Oh, pro tip!
>> It is interesting. I have never really tested the theory before, but I have always heard it. That and don't take bananas on the boat.
>> Don't take bananas on the boat?
>> Yeah. It is apparently gives you karma if you take a banana on the boat. I have never had an issue with it.
>> Oh, like bad karma?
>> Yeah, like bad karma.
>> Oh, okay.
>> I am like okay, I have taken a banana on the boat, admittedly and nothing ever happened but I know of some people that would not take a banana on the boat whatsoever.
>> Do you know the history of that? Like where that came from?
>> I have no idea. It has been passed down for a long time. I mean, tournament anglers always talk about it. Don't bring a banana on the boat. It's crazy.
>> I am going to have to look that up. I want to know the history. Okay, yeah but maybe to be safe if you are going out fishing, don't bring a banana on the boat.
>> Don't bring a banana.
>> Eat your potassium before you go out for the day.
>> Okay so we talked about needing your permit, needing your gear and some type of tackle, bait whether it be you know artificial or fake. Sunscreen, obviously, we said. Bring a hat, and sunglasses as well.
>> Yeah. Sunglasses are really nice. Polarized are even better.
>> Oh yeah. Then obviously, you want to stay hydrated.
>> I am the worst about drinking water while out on the water.
>> It is a perfect reminder because you are on the water and you need some.
>> Never crosses my mind when I am out there.
>> Well it seems to me it almost dehydrates you more to be near the water.
>> Oh yeah, I could be hydrated before getting on the water, and then I get off and I am severely dehydrated. It takes a lot out of you, especially in the summer months.
>> Oh sure. Whenever it gets really hot. So be sure to bring a little cooler and some drinks with you. Stay safe out there because it is possible. You feel really bad after being outside all day and it is really hot.
>> It wears on you.
>> It does! It really does! Okay something else I wanted to talk about that I think is really important to know whenever you are going out to fish is proper etiquette.
>> And being aware of your surroundings and other anglers near you. What do you suggest that people remember as they go out?
>> A big thing at least starting off is to give yourself space. If you are too close to other people starting off you risk tying up with their lines when you cast, you risk possibly hitting somebody. So just give yourself ample space starting off, get a feel for your rod and how to cast, be respectful to others if they are on fish and they have asked you not to fish their spot, maybe go somewhere else even if the fish are there.
Another big thing is like around docks and stuff if you are fishing either on lakes or some ponds have personal docks on them, be respectful that it might be somebody else's property. If you are allowed to be on it, if you are not allowed to be on it, getting your lure stuck on it, try to get them off if you can. Then picking up after yourself. Once you are done fishing, or even while you are fishing, I mean we constantly retie in bass fishing at least. It is a simple matter of putting your cutoff line in your bag and taking it home with you to throw away in your trash can and not on the ground. Or your lures that leave sitting on the bank. Make sure that you pick them up and put them back in your bag and just throw them away when you get home. Don't leave them out there for the wildlife to get into.
>> That is such an important thing to note. Leaving no trace whenever you are out in nature. No matter what you are doing hiking, fishing, hunting, you want to leave it better than how you found it.
>> That is so true. There is a park that I take my dog to a lot that has a little pond that people fish in. He loves to swim. I just can't stop that dog from jumping in the water. Nothing can stop him. It makes me a little worried because sometimes I will see that people have left their hooks and their lines.
>> Yes, it is really scary. I mean kids swim in a lot of these ponds.
>> Make sure you are picking up your hooks. It is one thing to lose a hook in the water because you got it stuck in a tree. Or stuck in a rock at the very bottom of the lake. I don't expect you to dive down and go get that. But around the shore and everything make sure you pick up after yourself.
>> Absolutely. So, something else I wanted to discuss you with is where would be a good spot for somebody just starting out to fish? Do you think they should try for a bigger lake or a smaller pond? What would be more doable?
>> Starting off, my rule of thumb is usually always to start smaller. There is a little bit of variation to that because some people enjoy the big lakes. I am a big lake person. I love getting on to a boat and being able to explore a whole lake. But if you are just starting off it is really good to just start on a small pond. The fish can't go many places in a small pond so if you are not as crazy minded trying to think of where the fish could be in a big spot, and I mean you get to cast more water doing that. You can learn how to cast. You can get familiar with your stuff. There is a tendency that smaller ponds don't get hit as hard sometimes. So, you might be on your own out there or there might just be a couple people versus a big popular lake where there is a lot of people to compete against.
>> Yeah, that is something good to note is that starting off small is better than biting off more than you can chew sort to speak.
>> So, tell me about, I keep reading this thing online where they call it reading the water. Tell me more about that.
>> Reading the water encompasses where the fish might be hiding at. Another piece of it is the water clarity. Certain places can be a lot muddier or dirtier than others and some can be crystal clear. Rivers sometimes have a lot of crystal-clear areas. It is kind of understanding where those fish could go in those situations. Usually in dirtier water, they like to hold more to structure. Even in clear water, you can see them a lot of times where they are located at. They could be anywhere. So, it is just learning how to understand that.
There is also, it varies sometimes, but seeing the bait fish population and seeing if they are flickering on the surface means that there is usually another fish underneath them eating. It is a good sign as to where the fish might be. Now there is no telling whether it is a bass or a bluegill but usually that is a good sign too that there is life in this pond and the fish are probably underneath there. It is a big thing on main lakes seeing that kind of thing. We follow bait fish patterns a lot because the bass tend to follow those bait fish a lot and feed from them. So, it is a good sign looking for that.
Birds. If birds are feeding in one area, that is a good sign that there is probably bait fish there, too. They may not be surfacing but you know they are there, and bigger fish are sure to follow.
>> Oh, I didn't even know that looking for other wildlife could be a clue.
>> Oh yeah, a lot of people won't go fishing in an area where there is not a single bird in it.
>> Really? Good to know. I never heard that before. That is an awesome indicator. Tell me more about weather. Does the weather affect?
>> Yes, weather is a huge factor. Another rule of thumb for me is usually just before storms there is lower air pressure, so it causes the fish to feed up more and start getting full because once the high pressure returns after a storm has passed, they become more lethargic and slower, so they are harder to get to bite after a storm.
But then you have just the simple things like an overcast day versus a blue bird sky day. Blue bird skies especially in the summer they like to hide under shaded areas.
>> I was going to say under the shade.
>> So, then it is a little bit cooler. Or they may even go deeper. If there are deeper spots in the pond or lake, they will go to the deeper water, so it is a little bit cooler.
Then in the overcast days, they will become a little more shallow, come out of the hiding a little bit and feed then, too.
You've got wind. Wind plays a huge factor as well.
>> Oh, how so?
>> It can push the bait fish around a lot on the surface. They will tend to follow those bait fish but there are little things that you get in the water, whether it be a tree sticking out or that has fallen over in the water that can create a barrier from the wind and the fish will load up behind that barrier.
>> Kind of congregate around there.
>> Yeah, because they are not being pushed around and the bait fish are right there so they can attack the bait fish without the issue of wind pushing them around.
>> Oh man.
>> So today is . . . it has been raining at least in Jefferson City for it feels like three weeks straight. It's overcast today, this morning, but we do have some rain in the forecast later today. So, I am helpful that maybe we can catch a fish. Alright. Very important to note keep an eye on the weather on when you are going out. That tells you how active the fish may be and plays a role in where you might find them.
>> Oh yeah, for sure.
>> Alright. Well, I am ready to get out there.
>> Oh, I am ready too.
>> We will take a quick break and when we get back AJ and I are going to head out to the pond and see what we can reel in. Stay tuned!
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>> Welcome back to Nature Boost! I am here with AJ and we are at a pond outside of MDC headquarters here in Jefferson City. What do you have for me today as far as gear?
>> For you we have a spinning rod or an open-faced rod. It is about the simplest rod that I have in my arsenal. There is also a spin cast rod which is another good basic beginner rod and reel combination. It is great for people who use it for catfishing, too. I know a lot of catfishers use that. But for you I have the spinning rod. I was going to give you an artificial lure, but I am kind of partial to giving you a hot dog and then I use artificial and see what happens.
>> I like it. Let's try both and then see what happens. Okay. That sounds perfect. Let's get it together.
>> Another good gear thing is having clippers and pliers on you. Pliers are good for when you are handling the fish and trying to get the hook out and clippers so you can clip your line and not use your teeth.
>> Yeah, it'll hurt your teeth if you aren't careful.
>> Just regular nail clippers.
>> Nail clippers, scissors, a pocketknife, anything with a sharp edge to it.
>> Anything you can use to cut. Okay, good to know. Something to have in your tacklebox.
How do you suggest tying your hook on your line? Just keeping it simple. Are there special knots that you know of?
>> There are special knots to use. I always use what is called a polymer knot. It is about the simplest they come and the most reliable to me. It is the only one I really use. There is probably hundreds of different knot tying techniques that you can have. There is some in bass fishing that work best for top water to get more action out of the lure if you tie it a certain way. A lot of it comes down to googling it and figuring out which might work best for you. But the polymer knot is always a good handy, reliable, trusty knot.
>> Okay, good to know. That is the one you recommend. Alright so we got cut up hot dogs on my hook. What are we going to have on yours?
>> On mine I am using what is known as a bait caster set up. It is a common one for bass fishing, but it is really challenging to learn how to use them properly. But what I am using - I have three different ones here so I can encompass all the spectrums.
I am probably going to put on a lizard-esgue bait. It is a natural predator instinct for bait to go against the lizards. It instigates a little bit of aggression out of them sometimes.
Yesterday when I was out here this is what they hit on before. It is reliable.
>> Alright, let's see if we can get one again.
It looks like a little lizard.
>> Yes, it looks like a little lizard. The arms on it are curled a little bit so in the water they make a paddling motion, and the vibrations attract the fish to it.
>> What is this?
>> That is a chartreuse dip, but it is scented like garlic. I don't know. It is always handy for me to use it. I dip the tails a lot of the time in it. Because the chartreuse color attracts the fish a little bit more.
>> I can smell that over here.
>> Yeah. It is potent.
>> It is potent! Look how green and neon his tail looks now.
>> Yeah. It is great too for these conditions - the overcast it allows better visibility on the bait because of that neon color.
>> Oh, right that totally makes sense.
>> Well that is handy. Are you cool if I cast?
>> I don't care. Go for it.
I am trying. See that is the thing. It is hard to . . .
>> Was that good?
>> Yeah, that was a really good one.
>> Oh my gosh. AJ. If you say it is good, then it must be good.
>> Especially using just hot dogs. It makes it a little lighter.
>> Oh my gosh I am literally just watching them eat this hot dog off this hook. So, with yours you are just constantly casting, reeling it back in, and it is that movement that they are looking for.
>> Yes, this is one that definitely requires a lot of movement. It can be retrieved either slow or fast, it depends on what the fish want. You just try it in a variety of ways. Let it sink or burn it across the top, too. It has its own methods and seeing what the fish like and take gives you insight on how they want it.
>> Now we are out here, and it is just lightly sprinkling. What do you think the fish are doing now?
>> They got to be feeding. I got to imagine they are feeding on something. It is the right time for them too.
>> I can't believe that fish. I literally just watched it take the hot dog off the hook.
>> It was just picking at it.
>> Yeah, it was it was just picking at it.
Have you ever been casting and a bird or something has taken?
>> I haven't, but I had a friend who had an owl try to take his lure a couple of times.
>> Oh my gosh!
>> Yeah. I have fought with a crane before. Because it sat there, I would cast, and it would try and take my lure it was a top water lure. And it would follow it and then try to grab it off the top of the water. I would cast the opposite direction; he would move and chase it. Then I would cast the opposite direction and he would move and chase it. I was so frustrated with that darn bird.
>> Did it eventually stop, or did you have to go to a different area?
>> I had to move and then it followed me to where I moved. Thankfully an osprey came down and spooked it and it flew off. I was able to really get away from it before it came back and tried to do anything else.
>> Oh, wow.
>> A couple quick ones down further.
>> This is how dedicated we are. Or, more so you.
A couple quick ones down here!
>> It is the stubborn in me.
You will hit things along the bottom that feels like a bite. There you go!
>> Oh, what? Look at it! Oh, dang! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. What kind? That's a bass?
>> That's a large mouth.
>> Hi, buddy. We didn't think we would see you today. Look at that guy. Dang!
>> You are a nice little guy.
>> Would you call that a Lunker?
>> He is a little puny.
>> How much do you think he weighs?
>> Not even a pound but he is a good twelve inches.
>> Yeah, I think that is a pretty okay size.
>> He needs to be about three more inches to be a keeper. There you go. There is your fish.
>> There he is. Little fishy. Little fish guy.
>> Get you back in the water, buddy.
>> Once you catch one you have the fish fever.
>> That is literally what it is.
>> It is the oh I got one!
>> That means there is more.
>> Whenever you do catch one, what do you do then? You make sure to safely take it off the hook.
>> Yeah, you take it off the hook. You can use pliers if it is hard to get to. You want to do as little damage to the fish as possible. It is really good if you are closer to the water, which we weren't, we didn't have access to it. But to usually wipe your hands before trying to touch the skin of the fish.
>> Oh really, why is that?
>> You are taking off their natural coating of slime if you are touching it with dry bare hands. It helps it a little bit. You don't always have to do it. It is not a huge deal. But you want to try to handle it as little as possible with dry hands, towels. Try not to touch it with towels, that sort of thing.
>> What about with their fins on the top, you want to be careful with those.
>> You want to watch out for the fins on the top. Catfish, if you are fishing for catfish also have their whiskers that you want to watch out for. But the fins on the top are something else.
>> They can be pretty sharp.
>> Oh yeah, I was fishing this past weekend and I had one on the boat with me that wouldn't stop flopping around and his dorsal fin went right into my leg. Yeah. It was not fun.
>> How do you recommend holding it if you are grabbing it, should they hold it a certain way?
>> When holding it, at least for bass, we tend to hold them by their mouths. You flip them. You can also hold them around their gill plates, and it helps if you kind of squeeze down on their gill plates. Don't bear down on it. But if you hold it strong enough that you aren't going to lose the fish, it helps also calm them a little bit and stabilize them more. Then that way you are also not risking dorsal fin in the hand.
>> That's true you are kind of steering clear of that.
>> But with other fish it all kind of depends. I know a lot of people will use pliers or fish grips to handle other types of fish.
Bluegill are kind of like bass. You can lip them. I mean it is hard, their mouths are puny, but it is possible. Catfish and stuff, they are so slimy I have seen more people either grab them full on or they will use a grip of some sort to grab them by.
>> Safe handling depending on what type of fish you end up catching, be careful of the dorsal fin. Don't stab yourself on the hook or anything.
>> Yeah, definitely watch out for the hook.
>> Well, do you have anything else to add? I know you are so determined. You keep casting.
>> I know, I keep casting.
>> Just go out and have fun.
>> Yeah, just go out and have fun. Don't overthink like I do. Fishing gets so in depth so quick. But just start easy, don't overwhelm yourself.
>> Yeah, start with the absolute basics. You can go out and fish with just your pole and line and some worms.
>> Yeah, you don't even have to move along the bank like I do. I do that simply because there are so many options. You can just sit on the bank and stay in the same one place all day and I am sure you will catch something.
>> Well, AJ, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today and taking me out fishing. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Nature Boost.
AJ, thank you so much for all the info today.
>> Thank you, this was a fun time.
>> It was a fun time.
>> I always enjoy getting to go fish a little bit more.
>> Oh, I am sure. I'm sure. Alright, guys, if you need more information on fishing in Missouri, be sure to check out missouriconservation.org or download the MO Fishing App, such a good app to have your on cell phone.
I am Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation urging you to get your daily dose of the outdoors.
>> You see that bird? It wants the fish too!