Enjoyed the snake article very much (“Is That A Water Moccasin?,” June 2016). Maybe it will make folks stop killing every snake they see.
Just wanted to interject a few things from my perspective. Having been a fisherman and a hunter for 60 years, I have spent a few hours in the field and on the water. One thing you failed to mention concerning the identification of the cottonmouth which is also true of the copperhead and rattlesnake; when in the water, all of these pit vipers appear to be floating when at rest or swimming. with most of their body being visible. They appear to be very buoyant as opposed to the non-poisonous water snakes. When swimming, only the head and a portion of the neck is visible compared to the pit vipers. Just one more way to ID a snake in the water. Also, elliptical (cat-eye) is the proper nomenclature for the pit vipers.
Also, western cottonmouth is the given name; water moccasin, stump-tail, etc are the AKA’s. There is also an eastern cottonmouth and a Florida cottonmouth as well as a southern copperhead and a northern copperhead.
I live on a 3,500-acre private lake south of Longview, Texas. I saw a cottonmouth by my boathouse several years ago and guessed it to be over five feet long and I have seen a lot of them but this was the largest.
The magazine is the best one around. Keep up the good work.
Editor: Thanks for sharing your heart for wildlife and interest in snakes. We will be doing a special snake ID video series in the spring with our Department. of Wild and actually demonstrating what you are talking about with a snake swimming. On copperheads there are actually three subspecies in Texas. They are the southern, broad-banded and the Trans Pecos—beautiful but at least slightly dangerous.
I just read your article “Small Fish, Big Reward” (“Doggett at Large,” August 2016)and enjoyed it very much.
As a boy 60 plus years ago we very poor and my dad would make boats out of whatever wood he had around the farm. We had nothing but paddles to power them with and nothing but cane poles to fish with and a minnow seine with which to catch some bait.
He would fish off the front of the boat with a paddle in one hand (this is called sculling) and a cane pole with a long line on it with a minnow on it in the other, and he would move around trees and docks quietly just flipping those “shiners” as he called them up against the tree stumps and docks. around Caddo Lake.
He would always catch a bucket full of perch, crappie and bass and occasionally a really big bass up to 10 pounds and you could not get any more basic and simple than that, but it always worked. He did this up until his death in 2001, but he did finally get a little outboard and jon boat, but never changed his style or method of fishing and never stopped catching fish when others did not.
He taught me the same style, and it worked. I would put a 20-pound line on with a bit heavier hook than the crappie hook he used, because I lost some really big bass with the lighter hook. Once on Casa Black near Laredo, when I was 18, we caught six fish one day on cane poles and minnows, and I know I lost one I am convinced was over 10 pounds. I can still see it in the air out front of that cane pole and it deep black with blood red gills.
Later in life I was able to afford the big bass boats and as I live right between Ray Roberts, Texoma, Kiowa, Murray and Moss Lake I used them for years, but one day I recalled my dad’s method of fishing and decided to go back to it. I purchased a 14 foot jon boat and put a plywood deck on the front of it and a seat right on the lip (one for fishing with my feet in the water for fly and pole fishing and one on the top of the lip for rod fishing) and a trolling motor right by right hand and a 9.9 Mercury motor on the back, and it has three depth finders and two trolling motors.
Let me add that I use this method around the marinas at Lake Texoma, and they are all over deep water and out of the wind out on the lake and many of the dock owners feed around them and place debris under the docks. I always have good luck up in there, and it is safe and don’t even have to use the big motor.
So your article is right about catching more fish on lighter lines and small rods.
I saw Bill Dance do a show about this very concept recently and he called it finesse fishing.
I was out at Moss Lake a few months back ,and the Gainesville Bass Club guys were coming in at dark, and they were all saying they had not had much luck. When I told them I had caught three bass around a pound, six crappie up to two pounds and a three-pound catfish on my light tackle they all wanted to know what I was doing and how with my little boat.
—Dr. Ben Slack
Doggett: Thank you for the email on the “Small Fish, Big Reward” column. Most of us started with light tackle and small fish (and those who didn’t probably should have, to teach proper respect for bigger and better things to come). And, in its own right, the light tackle/little fish combo can be a great angling experience. With the right mindset, it’s all-relative. And, as I stressed, no matter where you fish, the small ones way outnumber the big ones. I enjoyed your references to old days in a simple Jon boat. I fished from a wooden boat with a paddle for four summers at a boys’ camp on the Ouachita River in Arkansas, and those memories remain bright, some of the finest. I used a light spinning rod and a Mitchell 308 reel (ultra light) with 6-pound line; never caught a smallmouth (“brownie”) or largemouth larger than two pounds but many fish far bigger have been long forgotten. Thanks again.
Thank you so much for your video in the Dept. of Wild on the blackbucks (https://fishgame.com/2016/08/dept-of-wild-invade-the-blackbuck-antelopes-territory/). We have free-ranging blackbucks come through our lease and we see them on our game cameras, but never on the stands. Now that I think about it, I have seen large piles of dung along a particular treeline but had no idea what it is. Hopefully I will be able to set up there and get one of these blackbucks.
Your love for wildlife shines through and your knowledge on these matters is one of the main reasons I keep going back to the website and magazine. Thank you!
Editor: Thanks for checking out our new video series. The blackbuck thing is something you don’t hear much about but it is a biological fact and is the kind of thing we are doing to try and keep putting out there for the public. We want people to learn how they can make their time in the field more productive and enjoyable while creating a deeper respect for our wildlife.
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