We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, January 18. 2014
Winter in Connecticut: Shadows
Sunday, June 9. 2013
Long Island Sound (and Long Island) Stripers
This is re-posted from a couple of Aprils ago -
Here come the stripers. Not the strippers.
It's the end of April, the Bluefish are beginning to show up and the Spring Spawn stripers cannot be far behind.
East Coast stripers (called Rockfish on the Left Coast) are an anadromous fish meaning that they spawn in fresh water, but live their adult lives in salt. There are four breeding stocks on the East Coast - Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River, Hudson River and Cape Cod. These four main schools provide most of the striper population along the East coast.
Recently, there has been some investigation about the Thames River (New London and Norwich, CT) over winter school being an addition feeder school to the Cape Cod stock. It is not unknown for the Thames River school to reach tremendous populations over winter and spawning up the Thames into the Yantic and Shetucket Rivers in the Spring.
Striper fishing is one of my passions - fresh water impounds down south or inshore in New England, stripers provide me with the best and the most honest type of fishing. I say honest because striper fishing isn't a case of chasing down a fierce predator like any of the bill fish or tuna. Stripers are basically lazy and thus require patience and knowledge of the bottom structure to obtain the best size.
A few of my favorite spots and techniques are below the fold -
Continue reading "Long Island Sound (and Long Island) Stripers"
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc., Our Essays at 09:15 | Comments (16) | Trackback (1)
Monday, June 4. 2012
Striper Greetings from SC, reposted from last year
Greetings from West Columbia, South Carolina from Captain Tom.
Lake Murray is a very interesting fishery. 50,000 acres of water and all kinds of micro-ecologies from amazing pan fish through it's premier striper fishery. 20/25 lb catfish are common and bream, shell cracker, crappie and your garden variety sunfish are in abundance in dinner plate sizes. The striper fishery is incredible - again, larger specimens of this fish are not uncommon in the 30 lb range with the average specimens running in the 15/20 lb class.
Lake Murray was built in the late '20s by impounding the Saluda River and its basin at Dreher Shoals a little Northwest of Columbia, SC. At one time, it was the largest earthen dam ever constructed. Water from the dam was used to power hydroelectric turbines for a large part of South Carolina and these turbines are still in use today.
Lake Murray also has an interesting military history. The Army Air Force during WWII used the lake's islands as bombing and strafing target practice. Five bombers were lost in the lake, four were recovered at the time for salvage, but the fifth, a somewhat rare B-25C, was lost until it was found in 2003. A salvage effort was launched in late 2004, the plane raised and it is now located at a restoration facility in Montgomery, Alabama.
Lake Murray is also famous for its Purple Martin Sanctuary located on Bomb Island (approximately in the middle of the lake). As odd as it may seem, this is a major tourist attraction for the area as thousands of Purple Martins leave in the morning and return in the evening to roost over night. A lot of boaters make an evening of picnics on the water watching the evening return of the Purple Martins to Bomb Island. If you Google up Purple Martins and Bomb Island, you will see some images and an incredible radar image taken of this daily routine. I don't have my pictures of this event - took the wrong laptop with me.
Ed. Note: You can read all about the remarkable anadromous and adaptable Striper here.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc. at 16:20 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, April 22. 2012
Salt Water Phly Phishing plus My Phishing Philosophy, re-posted: "I'll be glad to help out with advice, encouragement or commiseration if necessary."
My post about Mahi and Captain Beardsley's catch the other day brings me around to fishing the fly. This time, we'll concentrate on salt water although some of the techniques and gear I'll mention can also be used for big fresh water game fish.
However, before I launch into a short treatise, I'd like to spend a paragraph or two on my personal fishing philosophy.
Izzak Walton said Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learned. He also said God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling. While certainly true in some ways, neither statement quite explains the whole attraction to the sport.
Fishing, both bait/reel and on the fly can be as complex or as simple as you wish. Basic arithmetic is simple, quantum physics is complex - both are mathematics. A bobber, cane pole with hook and worm are simple - big game reels with three stage gearing, auto-clutch drags and tension monitors on custom carbon fiber rods, ceramic roller guides and high strength butts are complex.
Continue reading "Salt Water Phly Phishing plus My Phishing Philosophy, re-posted: "I'll be glad to help out with advice, encouragement or commiseration if necessary.""
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc., Our Essays at 18:53 | Comments (16) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, January 1. 2012
The Bigger They are
The Harder They Fall.
It has been a long standing theory of mine, starting back in the late '90s, that the more complex systems become, the easier they are to break. The complexity creates conditions in which a minor glitch in one system can create havoc in other associated systems all without human interaction. This theory also applies to society as a whole as far as I'm concerned meaning that the more rules, regulations, laws and policies are enacted, the ability to circumvent them becomes easier and easier.
Some other much smarter folks than I am agree.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hot News & Misc. Short Subjects at 12:23 | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, December 28. 2011
Fishing Tech: Do I Hear An Echo?
As a favor to one of the local guides, I took part of an over flow party out on Lake Murray recently for a quick fishing trip. One of the clients was commenting on how my digital sonar looked a lot different than his. A discussion began about sonar, how it works and why my depth finder/sonar looked different that his. Sonar seems to be misunderstood as a fish finding technique even among experienced sports fishing fans so it might be fun to clear a few things up.
Echo location is a fairly well understood technique – transmit a signal, it reflects back a certain amount of energy to a receiver (or receivers), a quick calculation is made (return time) and the results displayed. Bats, whales and dolphins, certain fish and as unusual as this may sound, a bird species called cave swiftlet all have a means of echo locating objects and prey.
Sonar (SOund Navigation And Ranging) uses the mechanical propagation of a sound signal to locate a target's position. There are two main sonar techniques – passive and active. A good example of passive sonar is a relatively simple technique used in the late 15th Century – a simple open at both ends tube stuck into the water with a listener on the dry end to detect approaching ships. Anybody who's ever spent some time underwater on a busy lake with lots of boaters can relate to “listening” to the props move the boats through the water – that buzzing sound you hear is a form of passive sonar. A sailboat would produce a “whooshing” sound as the hull creates the bow wave.
Continue reading "Fishing Tech: Do I Hear An Echo?"
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc., Our Essays at 17:29 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, December 23. 2011
Christmas Rapping, 1981
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Music at 15:39 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, December 18. 2011
Pimp your ride with cart lights
All it takes is to hook a doohickey to the 12 V battery, and you can ride in style. You can do it with your truck or car, too:
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 22:39 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, October 29. 2011
Wolves and Dogs
I don't know if you've ever heard of Mark Derr - most people haven't but he's written a couple of books about dogs and one about Davy Crockett - all of which are very good. He's of the opinion that most anthropologists and other social scientists are wrong about the dog/man team and how it formed. He has had this idea about it being a matter of co-evolution rather than co-dependency and has written a new book about it: How did the wolf evolve into man’s best friend?
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc., Our Essays at 11:49 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, October 24. 2011
Yesterday morning I left the marina at first light and headed out to one of the coves across Lake Murray for some largemouth fishing. I'm cruising along when I saw this thing bobbing along off to my left. At first I thought it was a submersible (hey, that is possible) or an errant catfish trot line (more likely), but it was moving too fast - about 1.5 mph. As I moved closer, it turned out to be a four point buck just swimming along enjoying a Sunday morning swim across the lake.
Of course, I didn't have my HD Flipcam, the point 'n shoot or my big DSLR - I had my cell phone with its crappy lens and awful telephoto. I moved in as close as I could and shot the video, but when I tried to get really close, he veered off away from land and I didn't want that. So I got what I could get, backed way off the deer and followed it into landfall. He made it just fine and dandy - got up on the beach, turned around, took a look and headed off into the woods. Job well done.
I knew deer can swim a fair distance, but this one was in for a good mile and a half of exercise given where he was and the direction he was heading.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 12:52 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, October 1. 2011
Our editor mentioned not being able to quite grasp the idea of freshwater stripers. Well, here is one I caught yesterday morning on Lake Murray, 26" - 15 lbs. Caught a total of four over a half hour or so - all in this range - 25 to 26", 15/17 lbs.
I was definitely on the wrong side of the bite, so I switched from bait casting to fly rod. Used a Ugly Stick 7' fast action rod (home build), Galvan T-12 large arbor reel, #12 weight forward sinking line, 5 yards of 48 lb lead core line, 6' 20 lb florocarbon tippet and one of my jig "specials" - 1/2 oz, lead core, foam covered jig head/hook with chartreuse/white bucktail with some transparent yellow colored foil for flash. All topped off with a 6" curly tailed grub.
Now I can here you thinking all the way down here - that's not fly fishing - that's bait casting. No it isn't. Its the same technique used to get the lure down to the fish as you would use on a stream, pond or small lake - it's just heavier with more "umph" if you will. The whole idea is to get the lure to present properly to the fish you're targeting. It
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc., Our Essays at 16:42 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, September 14. 2011
Lake Murray, South Carolina, last night. In fact, it's a reservoir built for hydro power, and was the largest artificial body of water in the world when built in the 1920s.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 18:21 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, July 21. 2011
Mother Nature – Showtime with Purple Martins
Living in my new home state of South Carolina, I’ve come across some really interesting history. The story of building the Dreher Shoals dam impounding the Saluda River and creating Lake Murray is a real story of trial, error, engineering expertise and perseverance. Built to provide electric power to Columbia and a large section of South Carolina, the lake and it’s watershed is under the control of South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G).
In addition to the interesting and varied flora and fauna, Lake Murray has a very interesting military history. Due to its rather unique layout, it was considered by General Jimmy Doolittle to be the perfect place to practice bombing runs prior to the raid on Tokyo. The target was Lunch Island – a small, 10 acre former hilltop located just south of the mid-line of the lake. Flying out of Owens Field in Columbia, the B-25s would circle North and start their runs from the North West. The United Stated Navy also used to practice torpedo runs on Lunch Island. Eventually, Lunch Island became Bomb Island and that name has stuck.
Post WWII and up until the mid-60’s, Bomb Island was partially used for recreational purposes – picnics and such. SCE&G would burn off the island occasionally to keep the brush down. It was around this time that Mother Nature decided that she would take control of Bomb Island during the summer and give it over to a bird called the Purple Martin.
The Purple Martin is a member of the swallow family and is the largest of the North American Swallows. It is primarily an insect eater and has the ability to maneuver like a fighter plane when munching down on mosquito’s, dragonflies, moths and other morsels it finds edible. Their migration pattern starts in early July to fly overland down through
What is also unique about the Purple Martin at least in the Eastern US is that they seem to have made
I witnessed this entirely by accident on Monday evening. I was out on the lake planning on taking some sunset pictures over Spencer and
It starts about ten minutes before sunset – you see one or two swallows swooping along the water, zipping up in the air and back down again. Eventually, one or two become ten or twenty, then a couple of hundred.
Eventually, they mass above the island in a cloud of birds – it is simply an amazing sight as they form these huge vortexes of swirling birds. They swoop down onto the island and they back up again doing this a couple of times before it gets dark and they settle down on the island with a few stragglers coming in behind the main group. This image is about 1/8th of the island and the birds above it. I apologize for the lousy image but I was using a long lens wide open at 1600 ISO to get the shot. I’ll try and get a better one next time I go out there in the evening.
It is estimated that there are anywhere from 750,000 to 1,000,000 birds on the island over night at the peak of the season. There are so many birds that they have shown up on radar images from
It’s an amazing show Mother Nature puts on over
Oh, just to put paid to the evening, I got this image – it was quite an evening.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in History, Natural History and Conservation, Our Essays at 13:27 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, May 31. 2011
Trains, Planes, Trucks and…Boats?
One of the problems facing the United States is deteriorating infrastructure. Everything from highways, byways, airports and freight facilities are in need of some sort of repair, renovation or downright replacement.
Recently at the launch/commissioning ceremony for the USS William McClean (part of the Navy’s Prepositioning Program) Fred Harris President and CEO of General Dynamics NASSCO (NASSCO is a large shipbuilding complex outside of San Diego) spoke of the need for a National Marine Highway System . Mr. Harris made the case that vital part of the national transportation is being neglected – mainly the Maritime Coastal routes and facilities.
America needs a marine highway system.
What Harris is talking about is using what used to be called “coasters” – basically small ships to handle freight movement along coastal routes. His point addresses a larger issue – that our maritime industry has fallen on some hard times. As a nation that relies on sea power to extend our military and diplomatic reach across the world, we have basically relegated our Merchant Marine to other nations to build ships and transport goods. Our Maritime tradition not only extended from the Merchant Marine through the Navy and Coast Guard, but at one time, the world’s second largest Navy was the United States Army!
The problems, of course, are simple – we just aren’t competitive in terms of labor costs and building/maintenance facilities. Our Merchant Marine is highly unionized with the attendant costs associated with union shops – including feather bedding. We’ve lost our ability to produce the tons and tons of high quality steel needed for a vibrant ship building industry. And the same infrastructure problems facing our highway and railway system also affect the Maritime routes that already exist. Our intracoastal waterways system is seeing less and less dredging needed to keep it open and traffic flowing. While the Gulf system seems to be fairly stable in terms of maintenance, the Atlantic system is in dire need of dredging and width repair in several places along it’s length. The last time I brought a boat down that route (a 53 foot Viking sport fisher) there where places in the Atlantic system where we were plowing through the sand and silt – not a good thing for raw water cooled engines. Tugs and barges are also restricted in certain parts of the Atlantic system.
There are other challenges facing a new, bigger and better maritime system. NIMBY is a huge factor in the placement of facilities to off load or on load goods and raw materials. The recent contretemps in Narragansett Bay over the LNG facility is a good example. “Honest” Dick Blumenthal when he was Attorney General of Connecticut killed the Long Island Sound LNG/oil platform facility with misinformation and downright lying about the facilities impact on both the LIS ecosystem and it’s financial impact. Last, but certainly not least, access to distribution points are almost not existent due to the sale of port facilities to real estate developers to build hotels, convention centers, sports stadiums and private marinas. Harbor real estate is expensive and the competition is fierce to obtain and develop it.
Mr. Harris has the right idea – a strong national maritime system able to move cargo, goods and materials using our long seacoasts and river systems should be a priority. I’m certain private investors would welcome the opportunity to be involved in building small ships, tugs, barges and facilities – as long as the government and the Maritime and Port labor unions can be kept at bay.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hot News & Misc. Short Subjects, Our Essays at 20:14 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, April 2. 2011
Yoga for New Englanders
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 12:23 | Comments (9) | Trackback (1)
Friday, February 11. 2011
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 05:53 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, January 30. 2011
Winter in Connecticut: Fire and Ice
Sunday, January 23. 2011
Winter in Connecticut: Syrup cart
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 11:54 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, January 22. 2011
Winter in Connecticut: Stacked Fence
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 15:51 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, October 6. 2010
Now that we've built a teaser, here's how to rig one
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc. at 17:00 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, October 5. 2010
Rent-a-Boat: More boating on Euroland rivers
Just catching up on my email and received this from my friend Captain Wayne Beardsley - a short video from his recent trip to the Burgundy region of France along the Seille River.
Monday, October 4. 2010
How to tie a teaser
I put this video together to see whether our readers might be interested in this sort of topic. If you are, I'll do more of them.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis in Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Guns, etc., Our Essays at 17:22 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, September 28. 2010
Ellison's sailboat, without its rigid racing sail. She can go 3X wind speed. That is scary.
Sunday, September 26. 2010
America's Cup update
Larry Ellison seeks to change the America's Cup rules, so it's not just for billionaires.
You know - I hope he pulls this off. It's his prerogative to change the design rules and site for racing - I hope he does it. When you consider the amount of money these one design hi-tech maxi-racers burn through, it sounds like he's on the right track.
State-of-the-art one design smaller boats with strict rules sounds good to me. Then it is all about wind, weather and tactics and not the biggest and deepest pocket.
Monday, July 26. 2010
Stumbled across this web site today. An oasis of calm in a world of chaos. As a semi-amateur photographer, I'm always amazed at the way creative people come up with new ways to make and create new and interesting photos: Mila's Daydreams.
Posted by Capt. Tom Francis at 15:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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