Sunday, May 14, 2017

Office Bushcraft

A plethora of raw materials!
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My office and laboratory are situated in two trailer house...excuse me, "modular facilities" at the far edge of the chemical plant where I work. Outside my window is the loading dock where truck after truck filled with 55 gallon drums of chemicals come in and leave all day long. Everything is cement, steel pipes, forklifts, and chemical tanks...not exactly the sort of place where one would think "bushcraft".

But my modular facility butts up against the plant's security fence and on the other side of this fence is small ditch then the road. The ditch disappears into a cement culvert under the loading dock and pops back open about 90' away. Surprisingly, this muddy ditch in the middle of manmade hell is loaded with all sorts of wild edible plants....but it's also filled with minnows, frogs, and crawfish. I have no idea how the minnows got there. The nearest pond or stream is 1/2 mile away. Yet, there the minnows frolic. I like to watch them on my lunch break.

After watching them for a week the idea of seeing if I could trap a took hold of my mind. The bush crafting internet is filled with all sorts of fish traps made of all sorts of materials, both wild and manmade. They all boiled down to some sort of wide tube with a funnel-shaped entrance. Fish swim in but they can't easily find their way out again. The concept seems easy and thanks to my coworker's addiction to Diet Dr. Pepper and my own occasional spurge on non-Yaupon holly tea, our recycling bins had just the raw materials needed to make a minnow trap!

I get no advertising kickback for this picture. :-(
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Once I had the two bottles all it took ways a few minutes with my little pocket knife, some tape, a binder clip, and a length of paracord. To bait this crazy creation I sacrificed a bit of instant oatmeal from my daily breakfast.

The top of the Dr. Pepper was cut off and inserted into the bottom of the ice bottle to make the funnel into a container. Small holes were cut in the tea bottle to let out bits of food as bait. Paracord was attached to the trap so it could be placed and retrieved easier. The binder clip allowed me to attach the paracord to the security fence.
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I still had 45 minutes left of my lunch break when I placed the trap in the ditch.
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I figured it'd be best to just place it there and then walk away rather than watch it. I went back to my desk to read but after 30 minutes I just had to check it. Pulling it up I was thrilled to see not only three large minnows but also to two small and two medium sized crawfish!! Woohoo!! I brought my catch into the office to show my coworkers and they were amazed... Apparently the previous R&D manager didn't use trash to catch things from the nasty ditch out back.

The catch transferred to a beaker.
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Alas, lunch was rapidly coming to an end and I had just enough time to return the creatures back to the drainage ditch they call home. I can't wait to take this trap on my next adventure to try and catch some bait...or additional protein for my meals!

Adventure! Excitement! Bushofficecraft!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Handline Fishing Kit

I like fishing but I hate carrying around fishing poles, especially while hiking. Growing up, I was enthralled by my older brother's Ronco Pocket Fisherman but even that's too big for daily carry in my woods kit. Over the years I kept coming across stories of handline fishing and was intrigued by it. So finally, I made my own handline setup and it actually worked!

A fish!
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Handlining involves simply wrapping your fishing line around an old Coke bottle, large pill bottle, piece of PVC pipe, or even a custom, hand-carved piece of exotic wood. It is a bobber/sinker/hook/live bait form of fishing where you unroll some of the fishing line from whatever it's wrapped around and toss it into the water as far as you can away from wherever you're sitting. This usually isn't all that far...maybe 10' with a bit of practice. Then you wait for a fish to take your bait. Reeling the fish in consists of just quickly rewrapping the fishing line back around whatever is your spool.

Before.
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For my spool I used a "New Whey Protein Drink" tube. These are made of thick, heavy duty plastic with a screw-on, watertight lid. Small swivel snaps were attached to both ends of 20 yards of 8 lb fishing line. One end of the line was held in place with a section of bicycle inner tube and the rest of the line was wrapped around the New Whey tube away from the bit of inner tube. A second piece of bicycle inner tube was then added to keep the working end of the line & swivel in place. A wine cork was cut into a rectangular slab into which were stuck hooks of assorted sizes and styles. Assorted other bobbles, sinkers, and lures that fit into the New Whey tube were added along with some scented fake "live" bait stored in a small pill bottle. Finally, a hole was drilled in the screw-cap cap of the New Whey tube and a bit of glow-in-the-dark cord was tied through it to make a wrist strap. I didn't want to lose my new creation!

After.
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What's in the tube? All this stuff!
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Stinky artificial bait...
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Moments before catching the nice sunfish.
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This crazy creation actually caught fish! I have a couple of these tubes so I'll be making a few more to stash in my truck and assorted hiking kits. Getting the right swing on the line during casting took a little experimenting and I wish I could fit a bigger bobber in the tube but so be it. Here's a link to my Amazon store with everything in the kit except for the wine cork.

Adventure! Excitement! Fish!