Friday, June 20, 2014

The How Well Do You Know America Quiz

I took this quiz after seeing a friend of mine posted a link to it on Facebook. It is not difficult but I expected to maybe get one of them wrong because I could not recall with certainty the correct year relative to one particular question; I guessed right though. I scored 15 right out of 15 questions. So how good is your knowledge of the US of A (probably much better than needed to ace this test, at least if you are 40 or older)! Take the test via this link:

A hat tip to Doreen M-D.

All the best,
Glenn B

Eagle Claw Minnow Trap - More Like A Sucker Trap

I bought myself an Eagle Claw Minnow Trap yesterday. Before I tell you about it, I guess I should start at the beginning and tell you why I bought it especially since I already own two other two minnow traps. When I was getting ready on Wednesday morning
to head up to Geneva, NY later that day, to pick up some guns I had the high bid on at an auction there last weekend, I went out to the shed and grabbed both of my minnow traps. I figured I would get in some fishing while I was upstate. Nope, not for trout, or bass or catfish - just for minnows. My water turtles love them. I made sure that each had some line and the clamp that keeps them closed that attaches to the line. Then I went and got my minnow bucket and two battery powered air pumps and some extra batteries for them from my basement. I was set to catch me some minnow.

After I picked up my guns in Geneva, I headed down to Windsor, about 20 miles south east of Binghamton. My uncle used to own a farm there and I spent enough time there to be familiar with the area and with the hot-spots for minnows. When I finally got to the first spot I wanted to try, at about 3PM, I opened the trunk of my car to retrieve the traps. Was I ever bummed out, they were not there. The minnow bucket and air pumps were there but no minnow traps; I guess I forgot to take them along (I need to check around the house cause I have not seen them since before getting home). I thought for a moment of going into Binghamton but figured that Deposit NY and the sports shop there was closer. I went there only to hear the word "nope" when I asked the proprietor if he sold minnow traps. Then I headed toward Binghamton and remembered a garage sale I had passed on a side road earlier in the day. I turned off the highway and headed there. When I asked the lady of the house if she had a minnow trap for sale she said maybe over there and pointed to the inner portion of an old metal minnow bucket - definitely not a minnow trap. She said to ask the man of the house if he had one and he told me he threw one in the lake the day before. I don't know if he was kidding, had just thrown it away or was trying to catch minnows for bait. I excused myself and was outta there headed for Dick's Sporting Good in Binghamton.

When I got to Dick's, I wasted no time. By my estimation, by the time I would be back at the minnow hot-spot it would be about 4:30. That would leave me enough time to hit 3 or 4 spots and also to get in a short hike. I grabbed an Eagle Claw minnow trap, paid for it and was off to catch little fish. When I got to the stream, and started to set up, I noticed that the trap did not close properly.  The opens ends that were supposed to come together to close the trap at its middle were not melding properly. I bent this and that and got it to fit somewhat better but did not want to bend too much and break anything. This minnow trap is not made like my old ones wherein the mesh wire of the trap fits neatly into a rim that is bent over the mesh. There were just steel rings there and the mesh was apparently welded to the rings. I also noticed that the tensioned clamp that keeps the two halves closed and connected was very weak in the tension department. Oh well, made in China - what would you expect - certainly not the quality of stuff made in the USA in the 50s or 60s. After getting the two halves together, I put a 25 foot line on the clamp so I could cast it out a decent distance and then retrieve it. Anyway, I finally got it set up and tossed...whoops what was that?

On my first attempt at tossing it maybe 10 to 15 feet away into a deep spot in the stream on the down stream side of a culvert, I saw something fly behind me. It was half of the trap and luckily it landed on the rocks at stream side. I got it, put it back together, and paid extra attention to the clamp assuring it was on right. I tossed the trap out and left it in the deep spot, then I went looking for crayfish under stones downstream. I did not find even a single crawdad and that is unusual in and of itself, BUT I did trap at least 18 or so minnows, in the minnow trap, while I was doing that.

I put them in the minnow bucket with stream water and turned on the aerator to keep them alive. I tried again but caught only one other minnow - the others having spooked. I moved on to spot two. Once there I tried another deep spot. Nothing ,not one after 10 or 15 minutes but I left the trap  sitting there with hope of catching something. (And yes there was bait in it, I did not forget to bait it, just to mention it sooner.) I walked up stream on the other side of the road under which the stream passed through a culvert. In the shallow water on the other side of the road, I found a school of about 75 or more minnows. I went to the deep spot to grab the trap and while headed that way, I gave one swift sweep with a net  I had with me. I scooped up a couple.

Well, I got the minnow trap out of the deeper water on the other side of the road and was about to head back to that school of minnows when I had the thought to give it 5 or 10 more minutes to let them calm down and re-school since they had been spooked when I netted that couple of them. What to do while waiting, I put new bait into the trap and tossed it out into the deep spot again. That deep spot has got to be about 7 or 8 feet deep. It should have been filled with minnows but all I could see in it after I tossed my trap was two silvery looking buckets of metal about 4 or 5 feet apart. The trap came apart in mid toss and the piece that was not attached to the clamp and line sank to the deepest point, the other half I pulled out still attached to the line.

The half that sank in the deep spot, it just came right off of that weak clamp when I tossed it out there. I was pissed on and off. Had I been of another mind, I might have stripped and dove right in. The water was cold but not that bad. I just was not in the mood and decided to leave; with my luck I a cop would have passed by and arrested me for indecent exposure or something. As for the half of the trap, I will try to retrieve it next time I am up that way if it has not been washed away. If it does wash away, I'll take a hike along the stream to find it. The stream is not more than ankle to knee high for most o the length though the state forest where I was trapping minnows. Now I have an excuse to go back soon. After that, I just left, I did not even go on my hike. I was simply not in the mood.

Now to that minnow trap - need I say much more about it! In my estimation it was an absolute piece of junk and a waste of about $11.00. I have never had one fall apart like that in mid-toss that I can recall. My other two minnow traps have been around for a combined total of at least 30 to 35 years, one of them at least 20 years old. I took a few more looks at the clamp that was supposed to hold the new trap halves together; it really is junk in my opinion, not like what they used to make. I think the clamp was not of the proper length to close securely nor was it strong enough to stay closed when I tossed the trap into the water or otherwise jostled it. As I said earlier, the two halves did not even fit together properly, there had to be at least a half inch gap between them for at least a few inches around their circumferences luckily I was able to squeeze that down to a bit smaller, otherwise I may have caught nothing except the two with my net.

While I cannot take a photo of mine to show you that gap, just look to the right at the photo that Eagle Claw has on their website because it shows it plainly (fair use to educate the potential minnow trap buyer).  Folks, next time I am in the market for one, if I cannot find a new minnow trap built like my old ones, I will look for used ones at garage sales. That should be enough said right there except to add that next time I will try really hard not to forget the old ones I already own.

All the best,
Glenn B