Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

An act of kindness by some young anglers

Cuteness like this must be rescued

Some young friends went fishing last weekend. They “caught” more than they thought they would. In doing so, they gave back much more than they caught.

Here’s the story, sent to me in an e-mail by one of the young men:

Yesterday, May 15, I went fishing with Caleb and his friend Matt. We fished at a pond in a local subdivision. As Caleb and I worked our way around the pond looking for bass, Matt fished a corner of the pond where there was a drain covered by a metal grate. A mother duck was swimming around that corner of the pond when one of her ducklings fell 4-5 feet down into the drain. As she circled back to find it, two more ducklings fell down into the drain. As we made our way back to that corner of the lake, Matt told us what had happened. By this time there was another couple there to fish and the 5 of us (Matt, Caleb, Man, Woman, and Myself) were trying to figure out a way to rescue the ducklings.

Water was pouring down into the drain (due to the large amounts of rain we’ve received recently and the lake’s water level). When we lifted the grate, water poured even heavier down on them and we were afraid we’d drown them. Knowing that they’d been struggling to stay afloat for about half an hour at this point, we decided to take action. I carry 1-gallon size Ziploc bags (to put trout in) when fishing. We attached a bag to two sticks and I was able to reach down through the grate and scoop up one of the ducklings (eventually). We returned it to the water where it started peeping loudly and the mother quickly herded it back to the group. We struggled to capture the other two ducklings, when Matt realized we could use his ball cap. We attached a hook and line to Matt’s hat, and I laid down prone on the grate. I lowered the hat down to the ducklings and within 5 minutes had the other two out safely. They were quickly reunited with their mother.

The e-mail’s writer said he wasn’t looking for any recognition for his and his friends’ actions. I think they deserve recognition, hence this post.

Someone needs to find a new poster child


Methinks the folks at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation might have created a wee credibility problem for themselves.

Their most recent online ad (seen at left)  features a photo of a fish surrounded by white flecks in the water.

Trouble is, the fish is a rainbow trout. A freshwater fish. Chesapeake Bay is a saltwater body.

To be perfectly fair, rainbow trout do at times move into salt water. When they do, they’re called steelhead. This almost always happens on the northwest coasts of the United States and Canada, in Alaska,  and on the Kamchatka Peninsula of eastern Siberia. If wild rainbow trout migrate to the salt in the eastern United States, they do it only rarely — and I’ve never heard of them doing it from the warm, poorly oxygenated tributaries that feed Chesapeake Bay.

Note to Chesapeake Bay Foundation leaders: Lose the trout. Find a nice photo of a striped bass.

Still legal!
Still legal!

For about the past year, I and some of my colleagues in the outdoors-writing business had wondered if we might one day be court-ordered to stop publishing photos of hunting.

The reason? A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against a  man who produced dogfighting videos.

In its ruling, the court broadened a law intended to outlaw the distribution of so-called “crush” videos and applied it to dogfighting and other forms of cruelty toward animals. Crush videos, for those of you mercifully unfamiliar with the term, depict small animals being crushed under women’s bare feet or high heels.

While those of us in the outdoors media detest everything dogfighting videos and crush videos represent, we worried that future courts could interpret the Circuit Court’s decision in a way that would allow scenes of legal and legitimate activities such as hunting to be broadly interpreted as “animal cruelty” and banned under a law originally intended only to outlaw crush videos.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed us ink-stained outdoor wretches to breathe a sigh of relief. An eight-justice majority ruled that the Circuit Court had interpreted the law too broadly. The Supreme Court’s ruling also set up safeguards that should prevent future narrowly focused laws from being too broadly interpreted. The Washington Post has details.

Meeting folks, tying flies — fun stuff!

The Denison, a married-wing classic wet fly
The Denison, a married-wing classic wet fly

This past weekend I had more fun than I’d had in a month of Sundays.

The good folks at Anglers XStream, a fly shop in Parkersburg, asked me and several other fly tiers to demonstrate the techniques we use to tie our favorite patterns.

Some of the guys tied trout flies. Others tied bass or muskie flies. I tied classic, married-wing wet flies.

Married-wing wets like the Ferguson, the Denison and the Parmachene Belle have been out of vogue for 40 or 50 years, but that didn’t seem to deter folks from gathering around to check out the techniques used to tie them.

At the end of nearly six hours’ worth of tying, my back was sore and my voice had just about given out. But wow, I had fun!

As I left, I borrowed a quote from Ed Buck, the legendary trapper from Richwood: “Thanks for the invite, boys. I ain’t had so much fun since the hogs ate my brother!”

Now THAT’s an effective warning sign!

funnysignApparently anglers seeking access to one of the incomparable trout streams of New Zealand’s South Island had run afoul of some local livestock. Owners of a fly fishing lodge erected a warning sign that gets the message across in no uncertain terms.

As Lt. Gen. George S. Patton so famously said: “If I want ’em to remember it, I give it to ’em loud and I give it to ’em dirty.”

Hat tip: WVAngler.com

The gamebird’s the word in Sioux Falls

The team's brand-new logo
The team's brand-new logo

The professional baseball team in Sioux Falls, S.D., has adopted the name of the area’s favorite gamebird.

A change of ownership brought on the name change. Henceforth, the team formerly known as the Sioux Falls Canaries (?!!) will be known as — wait for it — the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants! It makes sense, if you think about it; southeastern South Dakota is arguably the pheasant-hunting capital of the world. Every fall, hunters by the tens of thousands flock there to gun for ringnecks.

I spent a week in Sioux Falls during the summer of 1999, and the motel I stayed in was next door to the ballpark. The Canaries were in town, and some of my friends caught a game or two. They said the town was “crazy for the Canaries.”

One can only hope they’re as “fanatic for the Pheasants.”

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

Fishing gets a boost — from racing

mcmurraycar.jpegFishing got some seriously good publicity (OK, Bass Pro Shops got the pub — but maybe it got people thinking about fishing) when Jamie McMurray drove the Bass Pro Shops No. 1 Chevy to victory in NASCAR’s Daytona 500 stock-car race.

Good on ya, Jamie!

That darned rodent let us down again

phil.jpgBad news — Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells how.

Take heart, though. The vernal equinox (the first day of spring) is only six weeks and a few days away.

Hats off to a witty reader

speakout.jpgI agree with my friend Don Surber, whose wildly popular blog appears in our sister paper the Daily Mail. The clip in the accompanying photo was almost certainly intended to be sarcastic.

That doesn’t make it any less amusing.

The clip appeared in the Speakout column of the Kankakee, Ill., Daily Record, roughly a year ago. I guess that makes it an oldie, but a goodie.

For those of you who might have trouble reading the photo, here’s what the clip says:

“To all you hunters who kill animals for food, shame on you. You ought to go to the store and buy the meat that was made there, where no animals were harmed.”

Too funny!

PR people sure can proclaim the obvious

rangerboat.jpgWith breathless excitement, the public-relations folks at Ranger Boats have announced they will continue sponsorship of the bass- and walleye-fishing tournaments conducted by FLW Outdoors.

Gee, ya think?!

FLW stands for Forrest L. Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats — a fact the PR types didn’t think to disclose until the seventh paragraph of a nine-paragraph news release.