Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blake Rasch's Strikes, Bites, and Fights!: Using Spinnerbaits During Bedding Season

Blake Rasch's Strikes, Bites, and Fights!

Here is a fine young man starting on his way to becomeing a fishing guide:
Blake Rasch's Strikes, Bites, and Fights!: Using Spinnerbaits During Bedding Season

"Using Fish Creek Spinners for Largemouth Bass
During Bluegill Spawn

The bream start bedding pretty early here in West Central Florida, and when I see them start to make their beds, I take out my spinnerbaits and start working the areas just outside the beds. You know that the bass are hungry, and are looking for a meal in the shallows where the panfish are bedding."

I like his style, and he seems well on his way to a professional career! Stop by and say hello!

Mike Spin

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jerky Making Tips and Techniques

Making Deer Jerky: Some Tips

Frankfort, Kentucky - Every year I look forward to making deer jerky. The scent of spicy marinade fills my kitchen as I thaw, cut, soak and dry, gradually emptying my freezer full of deer meat. I beam like a kid on Christmas morning when I lift the top of the dehydrator, revealing tray after tray of perfectly dried strips of venison. I pack the cooled jerky into plastic bags with various marinade labels, and can't wait to give them to friends, family and co-workers.

If I seem over-enthusiastic about making jerky, it's probably because I can't cook. My attempts have led to small kitchen fires, burnt breakfast pastries and even my Mom's classic dinner-table comment, "Well, at least we have a good dessert."

My point is, if I can make jerky, anyone can. 
Entire books are written on this subject, and there are many ways to do it well. But there are a few things I wish I'd known when I started. Through trial and error I've learned to use a lot of meat, clean it well, cut it consistently, marinade it for just a few hours, and dry it longer than it seems to need.

It takes a lot of deer meat to make a small amount of jerky. Ever heard the saying that our bodies are mostly water? The same is true of deer. Ten pounds of venison becomes about two pounds of jerky after drying. So set aside plenty of meat if you plan to share. It's amazing how quickly your jerky will disappear. People love this stuff.

The cleaner your meat, the better your jerky will taste. Remove the whitish membrane, or 'silver seam', from the outside of the meat, as well as all the gristle and sinew that you can cut off. If you don't plan to make jerky right away, wrap the meat tightly in butcher paper and freeze it, then move it to the refrigerator a couple of days before you're ready to begin. Meat that is still partially frozen is far easier to cut than completely thawed meat.

I use only the large muscle groups like hams and shoulders for jerky. Large sections of meat are easier to cut and dry more consistently than smaller, more irregularly shaped pieces. Save the small cuts for stew or hamburger meat, and the tenderloins for steaks.

Be consistent in your cutting, making all strips the same thickness. It's a pain to remove jerky from the oven or dehydrator in shifts, but that's exactly what you'll be doing if your meat isn't a uniform thickness.

If you like brittle jerky, cut across the grain. If you want chewier jerky, cut with the grain. Some people prefer to turn their venison into hamburger first, then use a jerky gun to make uniform strips. I prefer the texture of cut jerky, but either method can yield good results.

Soak the cut strips of meat in marinade for a few hours to overnight, depending on how strong you want the marinade flavor. Turn the meat several times while it soaks. Marinating too long can overwhelm the taste or lead to mushy, stringy meat.

An oven works just fine for jerky making, and many people prefer this method. I prefer a dehydrator. It takes a lot of the guess-work out of the process. I know exactly how long it will take to dry a quarter-inch thick piece of venison, and I know that every piece is drying at the same temperature. Besides, making jerky is messy, and I can throw my dehydrator racks in the dishwasher. I'd rather dress a deer than chisel dried, caked-on marinade out of my oven.

Dry the jerky a bit longer than it seems to need. The jerky's surface should crack when you bend it, but the piece should not break apart. Moisture will build up during storage, and pulling it too soon will result in sticky jerky within a day.

Good boy! Mmmm! That's good!

For marinade recipes, storage tips and more, buy a good jerky-making book or search online. There's plenty of information out there to create this convenient, high-protein snack. Best of all, even the worst cook can make great deer jerky.

Author Hayley Lynch is an award-winning writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She is an avid hunter and shotgun shooter.

Related Posts:
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: How to Smoke Fish: Two Methods.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Catching Humboldt Squid

California Anglers Ask About Humboldt Squid

Editor's Note: The following comes to us from Carrie Wilson of California Department of Fish and Game. It seems Humboldt squid are making things interesting for California offshore anglers.

Good numbers of Humboldt squid have been showing up off the California coast in recent years. Although there are no bag limits at this time, anglers should be conservation-minded and take only what they can comfortably use. One large jumbo squid can easily feed an entire family for quite a long time.

Question: There's been a huge population of Humboldt squid showing up off the central California coast in recent years. As aggressive as they are, I am curious what effects they may be having on our game fish populations. These squid are also really fun to catch and it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the fishing when you get into a big school of them. Unfortunately, the result is often boats and their anglers wind up harvesting more than they can handle, and many of these big squid end up going to waste. Should we have bag limits on them? (John P., San Jose)

Answer: Humboldt, or jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) have indeed made their return to California waters, and in a big way. They are now being caught on party boats from San Diego to Fort Bragg. Special evening trips that specifically target the squid are catching behemoths ranging from 12 to 40 lbs.

As far as what impact the Humboldt squid may be having on other game fish populations, the jury is still out. The squid's major prey items include lantern fishes; however, lantern fishes are prey to a lot of other game fishes, so it may be more of a competition aspect rather than strictly a predator-prey aspect. Humboldt squid are more efficient predators in low oxygen environments than fish predators and can out-compete these species. However, they also feed on a wide range of species from northern anchovy, Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel, juvenile rockfishes, and squid species (including themselves, hence their reputation) so there is great potential to directly affect game fish populations.

According to Senior Marine Biologist and DFG squid expert Dale Sweetnam, "Researchers have been observing the expansion and shallowing of oxygen minimum zones off the West Coast in recent years. It is that environment that Dosidicus flourishes in and is probably the reason that they are still out and about and in no hurry to leave."

Although there is no limit at this time on the number of Humboldt squid that can be caught, anglers should be conservation-minded and take only what they can comfortably use. Landing reports indicate that large numbers of squid are not only being caught, but also being kept. The DFG is also receiving disturbing reports of a number of fishermen actually then dumping these dead squid when returning to the docks. Not only is this unethical but it also constitutes violations of wanton waste which is willfully wasting the state's fish resources (CCR Title 14 Section 1.87.)

For everyone who gets the fun opportunity to fish for these enormous mollusks, take only what you plan to use. One large jumbo squid can easily feed an entire family for quite a long time. By being thoughtful and helping to conserve the state's marine resources, we hope these animals will keep coming back in good numbers for years to come.

Seared Humboldt Squid

If you catch a jumbo squid and do not plan on eating it, please release it back into the water. These monster-sized creatures are a lot of fun to catch and they will usually survive when released to be caught by another angler on another day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Self Sufficiency with The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles


Mr Rasch, intrepid host and editor of The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™ has recently put together a series of articles on Self Sufficiency.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: How to Smoke Fish: Two Methods.: Smoked fish are fish that have been cured by smoking. As part of our Self Sufficiency series, we have researched the process for smoking fish for our faithful and errudite readers. The preservation of fish has been an integral part of every culture that subsisted on fish.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Drying and Preserving Fruit: Drying has to be the simplest, most cost efficient, and most natural method of preserving food.Drying is a creative way to preserve foods and use home-grown fruit, extra produce (e.g., ripe bananas) and roadside market specials.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: QDM: Fruit Bearing Trees for your Land: A well planted and designed orchard will not only provide an irresistable food source for deer, (And other game too!) but will definitly increase the value of your property! While it does take longer to get an orchard established, the long term cost is much reduced compared to other food plots. Maintainance is less, and the production can be quite long depending on the species of tree planted.

Mike S.