The Great Outdoors

The BEST kindling for starting a fire

Searched online for something to light a fire. It said “no matches found”.

-Dad

I have started many fires in my life, (most of them on purpose), and it always seems like the hardest fire to get going is the campfire when you have people watching. There is nothing more embarrassing than trying for 30 minutes to start a fire with nothing to show for it but a small pile of ashes and some burned leaves.

There are several things you can do to increase your success at starting a campfire and I will do an entire post on them soon I promise, but for now I will leave you with this one small tip. One of the best things you can do when lighting a fire is to make sure you have good kindling. Kindling is the small stuff that a fire needs to grow into a nice crackling campfire that everyone enjoys with no accelerant needed (gasoline, kerosene, diesel, lighter fluid). There are several things you can use for this, such as leaves, pine needles, bird nests, hair (yuck), or you can use my secret ingredient.

save your dryer lint for starting campfires

Yep, that’s right! Dryer lint. This stuff makes for AMAZING kindling and it is 100% FREE. Just keep a shopping bag near the dryer to put your lint into when you clean the trap, so you always have a ready supply of some of the best kindling around. Dryer lint kindling works better than leaves, pine needles, cedar, or anything else I have found when it comes to flammability (the ease of which something catches on fire) and portability (imagine putting a zip-lock baggie in your backpack when hiking or camping.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Like and share this post and let you know you guys are out there!

The Great Outdoors

How to bait a hook with a worm

How do you stop a fish from smelling?

Cover its nose of course!

-Dad

Here is a dad’s sure-fire trick to baiting your hook using worms. This method will let you keep your bait for several casts (no wriggling off) and many times even let you keep your worm after catching several fish. I think my daughter’s record is 5 fish on the same worm.

Step 1:
Before you head to your fishing spot, be sure to pick up some worms. The good news is they can be found with relative ease almost anywhere in the world with just a little digging. I usually just head on over to the local gas station (which doubles as a bait shop) and pick up a dozen or two for a few bucks. When you get to be my age, a few bucks is worth not having to strain your back with a shovel and bending over to pick up worms from the ground.

I picked up these 12 worms at the gas station for a couple of dollars

Step 2:
Hold the worm between your thumb and first finger with about an inch of it exposed. Insert the hook into the worm being sure not to go all the way though. We want to thread the worm onto the hook.

Step 3:
Continue to thread the worm all the way up the hook, covering the curved part of the hook entirely as well as part of the shaft. If you mess up while threading the worm and the point of the hook comes out of the worm, just continue to thread the worm onto the hook and re-insert the hook (it happens, some of those worms can be quite energetic and hard to hold onto).

Step 4:
I usually exit the worm with about an inch left to go. This leaves a little wriggly bit at both the top and the bottom of the hook that fish can’t seem to ignore. Be sure to push the worm down past the barb on the hook, so that it is much harder for the worm to wriggle off or a fish to take without getting the hook in its mouth.

Cast out your line and reel them in! This method of hooking a worm gives it the best chance of staying attached to your hook. Many times even after a fish is brought in, you can still use the same worm. See?

Pro Tip 1:
Keep a rag or some paper towels nearby. Hooking worms is dirty business!

Pro Tip 2:
Keep a pocket knife handy in case your worm ends up being too long. Many times I cut my worm in half and use on two different hooks.

The Great Outdoors

How to cast a fishing line

I’m listening to a song about fish – it’s very catchy.

-Dad

Ahhhh…. Sitting out by the water, listening to the wildlife, and just watching the scenery. There is not much more relaxing than that. Pure serenity. No worrying about bills, your job, what’s going on with your significant other, kids, just bliss. You reel in the line on your fishing pole and cast again. SPLASH! Your line ends up about 10 feet in front of you and not exactly on the direction you had intended for it to go in the first place. “Well, so much for serenity”, you think as you reel you line back in, getting ready to re-cast, now irritated with yourself.

Let’s go over the basics of casting a fishing line to help avoid such tragedies in the future. There are a few advanced techniques to use when casting such as pitching, flipping, and skipping, but we are going to stick to the most basic of casts here: the overhead cast using a standard bait caster rod and reel.

Begin with your line extended several inches between your bobber (if equipped) and the tip of your pole. If you are not using a bobber, then make sure you have about 1 to 2 feet of line between your hook and the tip of your pole.

the thumb button on the reel releases the line

Choose the spot you wish to cast to and keep your eyes locked on the target. Press and hold the thumb button on the reel. Don’t let go until you are ready to cast (once you let go, the reel mechanism releases and line begins the feed out from the reel). Position the rod directly back behind your head at about 45 degrees.

position the rod behind your head at about 45 degrees

While still holding the button, begin moving the rod forward over your head in a fluid motion. Release the thumb button then the rod is directly overhead. Follow through the cast with the rod. (be sure you have a good grip on the handle… don’t ask me how I know)

follow through after letting go of the thumb button

With some practice and a touch of luck, your line went right where you were aiming for didn’t it? (mine didn’t either, but it got close enough)

making the perfect cast takes practice

Be sure to give your reel a few cranks to lock the reel and to bring in any slack. If you forget this step, even the perfect cast to the perfect spot with be for naught.

Happy Fishing!

The Great Outdoors

A dad’s fool proof method of tying a hook to a fishing line

I am addicted to fishing. You might even say that I am hooked.

–Dad

There are about as many methods of tying a hook to a fishing line as there are fish in my pond. Can you use a normal overhand square knot to tie the shiny hook to the end of your line? Sure you can, but the first time that knot fails after fighting with a catfish for several minutes or as you are raising that bass up out of the water, you might regret it.

Below is my method of tying a hook to a line. It is my own take on the fisherman’s knot or clench knot. This knot has never failed me on the water.

Step 1:
Pass the end of your line through the eye of the fish hook.

pass the fishing line through the eye of the hook

Step 2:
Twist the hook 7 times (yes 7 exactly, after all it IS a lucky number) to make the tail end and the rest of the line twist together.

twist the hook to wrap the tail and and the rest of the fishing line around each other

Step 3:
Take the tail end and pass it through the little loop just above the eye. Pull tight, as the will cause the wraps that you created when you twisted the hook around to bunch together at the knot location, just above the eye of the fish hook.

Step 4:
Make a standard overhand knot to finish the knot off. (an overhand knot is the first knot in tying your shoes)

make a standard overhand knot to finish this knot off

When you are done, simple attach a weight or sinker (if needed) and you are ready for some bait!

The Great Outdoors

How to put a bobber on a fishing line

Where does a fisherman go to get his hair cut?
The bobber shop.

–Dad

It may seem like one of the simplest tasks, but there is a right way and lots of wrong ways to attach your bobber (floater, indicator, or what ever you call in your neck of the woods) to your fishing line. Over the years I have seen bobbers attached upside-down, barely attached at all, flung off of the line during casting, you name it. Well, here is a sure fire trick to easily attaching your bobber to your fishing line.

Step 1:
Press down on the spring loaded plastic button at the top of the bobber, being sure NOT to press down the metal hook. This will expose the metal hook.

press down on the top of the bobber to expose the metal hook

Step 2:
Loop your fishing line through the hook and release tension on the spring loaded top button. The hook will catch your line and hold it in place.

insert your fishing line through the top bobber hook

Step 3:
Press down on the spring loaded top bobber button being sure to press the metal hook down this time.. This will cause a metal hook to be exposed at the bottom of the bobber.

Step 4:
loop your fishing line through the bottom hook and quit pressing the spring loaded top button on the bobber.

Congratulations! Your fishing line now has a bobber properly attached. (according to me, anyway)