Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Boy catches ‘severed foot’ while fishing

The 'foot' (AP Photo/Lake County Sheriff's Office via the Daily Herald)

Relax, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. From the Associated Press:

ANTIOCH, Ill. (AP) — A boy fishing in a northern Illinois lake hooked — and then lost — what he thought was a human foot, but a search determined the appendage had belonged to a mannequin.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports that divers and sonar teams spent nearly 10 hours searching Lake Marie, near Antioch, before they located the fake foot Wednesday evening.
Authorities say the boy reeled the foot to within three feet of his boat before it fell back into the murky water.
Gurnee Fire Department Battalion Chief John Skillman says the search was launched because the boy was considered a reliable source.

A 19-year-old largemouth bass?!

Ten-year-old Garrett Frost and his 19-year-old catch

It’s rare, but they apparently do get that old. The surprising thing to me was the bass’s relatively small size. Then again, bass grow pretty slowly up north, and Kalispell lies just a few miles south of Montana’s border with Canada. From the Associated Press:

KALISPELL, Mont. — A 10-year-old Kalispell boy using a rubber worm caught a largemouth bass in Western Montana that wildlife officials say is nearly twice as old as he is.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Mark Deleray said the bass caught and released by Garrett Frost in Rose Creek Slough on July 16 could be as much as 19 years old, which may be the oldest on record for Montana.
The fish was 20 to 22 inches long and weighed about 3.5 pounds.
Garrett removed a tag that had been placed on the fish in 1997 in another Flathead River backwater area about 5 miles away. Biologists estimate that the fish was 5 years old when it was tagged, based on the fact that it was just over 14 inches long and weighed 1.5 pounds at the time.
“We can be pretty confident about that age,” FWP spokesman Mark Fraley said Wednesday, adding that a bass can’t grow as big as 14 inches long in less than five years in Montana.
Tyler Frost told FWP officials his son hooked the fish on a rubber worm and landed it himself.
Most literature says largemouth bass can live to be 15 or 16 in the northern United States, Fraley said. Fish tend to grow slower and live longer in colder waters.

Great white shark leaps into boat

White shark breaching

Imagine how surprised a boatload of research scientists must have been when an 1,100-pound white shark leaped clear of the water and landed square on the boat’s deck.

The incident occurred in South Africa’s Mossel Bay not far from Seal Island, a renowned location for white shark research — and a spot where breaching sharks are a fairly routine sight.

The shark thrashed about for a while and did some damage to the boat, but was eventually lifted from the deck and returned to the ocean.

The Cape Times has the full story.

Bear captured after 200-mile jaunt

Tennessee wildife officer Andy Tweed darted the roaming bear (TN Wildlife Resources photo)

Young male black bears are known to roam a bit, but one adolescent bruin has taken his footloose nature to quite an extreme.

The bear roamed more than 200 miles through parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee before it was captured by Tennessee wildlife officers. After a brief stay in a zoo, it will be relocated to the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the story, which is both entertaining and fascinating.

The roaming nature of young male bears is well known among wildlife biologists. Joe Rieffenberger, for decades the principal bear biologist here in West Virginia, complained that adolescent bruins captured and relocated after nuisance complaints usually made a beeline back to the very area where they were captured.

He once told me of a nuisance bear captured near Cabin Creek in Kanawha County and hauled more than 100 miles to the Cranberry Backcountry. Within days, the bear returned to Cabin creek and resumed its dumpster-diving ways.

“I call those young males ‘long-legged bears,’ because they tend to roam so far,” Rieffenberger said.

The Tennesseee bear seems to have been cut from the same cloth.

Woman gives birth while on fishing trip

At least the big one didn’t get away…

From the Associated Press:

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas family returned from a fishing trip with more than mere fish to show for their outing.

Lorraina Fortine (FOR’-teyn) was 39 weeks pregnant and scheduled for a C-section Monday. But her doctor told her she wouldn’t go into labor before then, so the family headed Friday to Cheney (CHEE’-nee) Lake for the weekend to celebrate her 3-year-old’s birthday.

But her new baby wouldn’t wait. Fortine told KWCH-TV she woke up Saturday morning in labor, had a few small contractions, and gave birth — in her tent.

The newborn girl is named Summer Fortine. She came into the world weighing seven pounds, 13 ounces.

Three Indian elephants electrocuted

Indian elephant

Tragic and strange. From the Associated Press:

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Three elephants were electrocuted at a wildlife sanctuary in northern India, apparently after they uprooted a utility pole and were caught in its wires, a forest official said Friday.
The charred bodies of the elephants entangled in the wires were found Friday at the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh state, Vijay Pandey said.
The elephants appeared to be part of a herd moving through the park in the Himalayan foothills, Pandey said.
He said veterinarians will conduct autopsies on the elephants before they are buried in the park.
The park is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
India’s wild elephant population is estimated at about 26,000.
Although the threat to elephants in India is not as dramatic as that facing tigers, the steady decline of their population worries wildlife activists.

A new way to ‘snake’ a toilet

Not your average toilet dweller

Here’s a story guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies.

A Pennsyvlania woman got the fright of her life recently when she spied a 4-foot black snake slithering out of her bathroom’s toilet.

Here’s the story, courtesy the York Daily Record. Brrrrrrrr…..

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.

‘Flying’ sturgeon strike again

Florida’s sturgeon must be reading silver carp press clippings.

Why else would they suddenly start leaping out of the water to clobber speeding boaters? It’s happened five times already this year, and the latest victim suffered a broken leg.

Silver carp have gotten a lot of media play, largely for their highly telegenic tendency to leap clear of the water when a boat goes speeding by. Perhaps sturgeon have had the same tendency all along, but now it’s getting media attention.

Tina Fletcher of Cross City, Fla., certainly got more ink than she wanted after she got her leg broken by a leaping Suwanee River sturgeon. The full story is here, in the Gainesville Sun.

How the heck did that kiwi get to Russia?

A long way from New Zealand

I can never look at a photo of a kiwi bird without thinking of the Johnny Hart comic strip, “B.C.”

One of the strip’s recurring themes was for one of the characters to be accosted by a bird whose first words were, “Hi! I am an apteryx, a wingless bird with hairy feathers!”

There’s a good reason why I associate kiwis with B.C.’s apteryx. The five known species of kiwis all fall within the Apteryx genus. The flightless birds are native to New Zealand and are found nowhere else.

Well, almost nowhere.

A kiwi has turned up on the Black Sea coast of Russia, nearly 10,000 miles from the remote Southern Hemisphere islands of New Zealand. No one seems to have a clue why it’s there.

One thing’s for sure. It didn’t fly.

The full story is here, in the Guardian.

Feathers-in-hair fad irks fly tiers

Grizzly saddle hackle hair extensions

On the way home from work yesterday afternoon, I dropped by the local fly fishing shop to shoot the bull with the owner.

While there, I noticed a large bare spot on the wall where a display of dry fly saddle hackles used to be. “Oh, no,” I said. “What happened? Did some featherheads raid the store?”

He grinned. “Yep. Two beauty-shop owners came in and completely cleaned me out.”

Oh boy. The “featherhead” fad has come to ol’ Wild and Wunnerful. For those of you not familiar with it, check out the accompanying photo. Women are paying big bucks to have long, skinny feathers from the backs of chickens — saddle hackles — woven into their hair.

The fad has just about dried up the supply of dry-fly grade saddles countrywide. The demand is insane. Yesterday, on eBay, a purple-dyed grizzly saddle sold for $328. Before the craze, it would have sold for about $50.

It’s easy to see why beauty-shop owners are scouring every fly shop in the country in search of these feathers. A good-quality saddle contains 200 to 300 feathers, and the shops get $10 a feather to weave them into womens’ hair. The profit margin is insane.

Fly tiers, of course, are indignant. They’ve seen an abundant supply of top-quality dry fly hackle disappear practically overnight. Some fly shop owners now refuse to sell to anyone who isn’t a bona fide fly tier. 

Like many fads, this too will pass. My hope is that chicken farmers will dramatically ramp up production to meet the current demand, only to have the phenomenon fizzle. Should that happen, there would be a glut of top-quality saddles on the market and prices would plunge.

If that happens — no, when that happens — I’ll be waiting, credit card in hand, to buy some nice, cheap dry-fly saddles.