STORIES OUT THERE FISHING By: Keith 'Catfish' Sutton 12 Ways for Outdoorsmen to Save the Day When in a Pinch Sometimes a day spent hunting or fishing does not go according to plan, these 12 tips will help you improvise when out in the wild When things seem to be going wrong, quick and easy solutions may be closer at hand than you think. (Keith Sutton photo) When we’re fishing or camping, it’s helpful to know tips for improvising when we find ourselves in a pinch. The situation may be serious or not, but we have a problem of some sort and need to resolve it successfully. Let’s say, for example, we forgot our alarm and are worried we won’t awaken in time to be on the water at dawn when the fish are biting best. What to do? Well, we could do what outdoorsmen did before alarms were readily available. To be sure they awoke at an early hour, they would drink a good draught of water before retiring and let nature wake them. If they wanted to rise even earlier, they would drink even more. Problem solved. Simple pointers like these can be invaluable when you need them. You’ll find plenty more to try in this collection of problem-solvers. Minnow Maximizer Sometimes crappie and other panfish are more easily caught if you tip your jigs with live minnows. But what if your minnow supply runs low? In a pinch, you can extend your bait by cutting a single minnow into several small pieces you can add to the hook one at a time to produce scent that draws more bites. Spoon Scaler Forgot your fish scaler? No worry. In a pinch, a sturdy tablespoon can be used to remove scales when you want to pan-dress your catch. Easy Threader As we age, eyesight problems can make it more difficult to thread fishing line through the eyes of hooks and lures. If you keep an old-fashioned sewing-needle threader on hand, though, you can use it in a pinch to quickly and easily run the line through so you can tie it. Grocery Bait In a pinch, you can make a superb catfish bait by picking up some cheap hot dogs, minced garlic and unsweetened strawberry Kool-Aid at the grocery. Cut the frankfurters into bite-sized pieces, then add to a zip-seal plastic bag with three heaping tablespoons of minced garlic, the Kool-Aid and enough water to half fill the bag. Allow to marinate overnight, and you have a bait eating-sized catfish can’t resist. Breakfast in a Paper Bag In a pinch, you can cook a fishing-camp breakfast Boy Scout style inside a lunch-sized brown paper bag. For each breakfast, you should have two bacon strips, 1/2 cup thawed frozen hash browns and two eggs. Open the paper bag and place the bacon strips on the bottom. Toss in hash browns. Break in the eggs. Now fold down the top of the paper bag at least three times but leave at least three inches of air space above the food. Insert a long, green, pointed stick through the bag and hold the bag on the stick about four to five inches over hot coals for about eight to 10 minutes. Be careful not to touch the coals or hold the bag over flames or you’ll set your breakfast on fire. When the aroma makes your mouth start watering, remove the bag from the heat and carefully pull out the stick. Open the bag and fold down the paper. Eat right out of the brown bag. Throw your “dishes” in the fire. A Cheaper Scent Alternative A little cod liver oil, readily available at pharmacies and discount stores, can replace commercial fishing scent products if you find yourself in a pinch. Fill an empty nasal-spray bottle with plain cod liver oil. Squeeze a drop of oil to the tip of the bottle, rub your lure in it and you’re ready to fish. This works especially well with marabou and bucktail jigs, and sometimes means the difference between lots of bites or none. Leak Stopper If your boat springs a small leak in the backcountry, you may be able to stop water from seeping in by plugging the hole with some pine pitch. Pitch is waterproof and sticky, making it perfect for use in a pinch. Trail Marker Keep a piece of neon-colored chalk in your pocket to use in a pinch for marking your trail to that backcountry fishing lake. It’s great to use for leaving signs on trees and rocks that will help you return to your starting point, and the next rainfall will erase your trail markings. Pump It Up In damp or rainy weather, you may need some help stoking up your campfire. In a pinch, try fueling the fire with oxygen using the foot pump you brought to inflate your raft or air mattress. This creates a blast-furnace effect that really gets a fire going quickly. Just be careful you don’t melt the pump hose. Lemon Float Can’t find a big enough bobber to float the big baits you use when fishing for stripers, catfish and other large fish? In a pinch, you can use those lemon-shaped squeeze bottles for lemon juice. Loosen the cap, wrap your fishing line around the screw threads and then tighten the cap. The bright yellow plastic shows up very well on the water. Easy Fish Cleaning In a pinch, you can use an ordinary office clipboard to make the job of dressing panfish much easier. The clip will hold the tail or head firmly while you scale or fillet your catch. Handy Dandy Worm Holder In a pinch, you can make a jim-dandy worm holder from an empty Pringles potato chip container and two snap-on lids. Use a can opener to remove the canister’s bottom, then put a snap-on lid on each end. Worms will go to the bottom of an upright container. Turn the container over when you need bait, removing the lid to expose worms that were on bottom but now are on top.