Last August, on one of my adventures down into South Jersey, I stumbled upon this little Musk Turtle that I surmised had apparently became the failed “dining-attempt” of a Cormorant or some other aquatic bird.
The little turtle is missing his right leg, so more than likely, a bird had this little fella in the air and dropped it. Hence ending up on his back, wedged between stump and rock, this became his final destination in life.
I was rather amazed at how intact this little creature was or as my friend Jason Beck put it, “Mummified” –
So I decided to take the little guy back home with me to Port Murray………as I had an idea.
Figured this would be a nice one to add to my list of “Winter Projects” – The little Musk Turtle.
As you can see, he had become sort of “bleached-out” from basking in the sun over time, so the first thing was to attempt to add color back to the shell. But I didn`t just want it to look like it was just painted black and lose all of it`s character. So the I actually gave it a coat of shellac, rather than add color first. Once dried, I carefully stripped the coating of shellac down to almost nothing. Normally you would stain something, then shellac it, but I knew this would give me a nice, sort of translucent effect that I wanted.
Next I took a urethane-oil based Expresso stain and submerged the entire turtle in it for two days. The idea of using an oil-based stain was because it would “hold” or set better as compared to a water-based one. After it`s two-day bath in stain, I sat the turtle on bamboo shoots to partially dry. The trick here was to not let the stain fully dry.
After three hours, I took the stripper again, and very gently worked away the oil stain, exposing the detail of the shell. After I got it to a point where I liked it, I then took an Expresso water-based stain and gently colored in the shell simply using my fingers while wearing rubber gloves.
My idea worked and I restored a very nice hue back to the little Musk Turtle! Then in my travels, I found a nice piece of driftwood while out and about fishing out on Spruce Run one afternoon.
NJ Ice Fishing on Spruce Run Reservoir is another awesome Wintertime activity that I enjoy doing with my very good Friend, Curt Ryder.
I gave Curt a ring on the phone on my way home last Friday night to see if he was up for trying his hand at a little ice fishing the next morning. He said, Sure…let`s do it!” – So we planned to meet up at the Reservoir at 7am the next morning. However, the day didn`t start out too good, as I got a phone call from Curt at 6:30am saying he had just hit a deer with his truck. He said, It`s just the bumper cover,….. only cosmetic” – I said, “Well do ya wanna forget about it today? Curt said, “Hell no……let`s go fishin`!” With that I got the bait and headed over to Spruce Run.
Loaded up the tip-ups, jigging poles, ice-auger & bait in Curt`s Ice Fishing Sled and set out on the ice at Spruce Run Reservoir.
The Reservoir is probably about twenty feet low water level-wise, so we had to hike a good ways in order to get out into twenty four feet of water. We were after
these monster slab crappies that we saw a few guys catch out here last Winter.
Curt and I discuss our hard water ice fishing strategy as we hike out across Spruce Run Reservoir. Me, “I got a feelin`
it`s gonna be a really good day
out here Curt” – Curt, “You always say it`s gonna be a good day no matter when we go fishin`!”
I drilled out our first set of holes as Curt followed with setting up the tip-ups. You`re allowed five tip-ups per man, but if you each jig, then you are only allowed to se four tip-ups each plus a jigging rod. Curt figured that the crappie would likely be in the deeper water as we didn`t connect with any last weekend in the ten to fifteen foot depth that we fished the tip-ups at. Also we saw a guy catch two Pike the previous weekend in this area that we were setting up in.
We fished till around 12:30 and only had three flags tipped so far for the day….. and we were both getting hungry. I decided to take a break and go get us lunch at a local general store. After getting lunch and heading back out on the ice towards Curt, I could see him talking with two other guys. These two Hispanic guys from Bethlehem Pa. had nervously wandered out to see what exactly Curt was doing as they had never seen anyone ice fishing before. I wasn`t sure if they had ever seen or been on ice for that matter!
These two guys really made our day…….they were an absolute riot! I don`t think they knew what to make of me at first, with my `coonskin hat as they just stared at it as I approached them as they stood next to Curt. They went crazy when they saw a few of my YouTube Videos as you can see in the pictures.
By late afternoon, the only fish we had caught were a bunch of little perch that were anywhere from five to eight inches. It just wasn`t panning out to be a good day fishing on the ice.
Curt and I had been ribbin` each other as we usually do, most of the day. He claimed he has a “Secret Formula” that he was spraying on his jig and I was braggin` about my “Game Changer” that I was using on my set up. Now my “Game Changer” as I call it has Anise Oil in it and I do believe this makes a difference when ice fishing. I think the strong smell of licorice is very appealing to fish under the hard water.
We both started to jump from hole to hole hoping to catch those slab-size crappies or a nice bass.
As I went to my next hole of choice, I loaded up my Swedish-Pimple and Butter-worm with a good dose
of the “Game Changer, then started to jig.
Then all of the sudden ice pole crazily bent as a decent fish jumped on my jig! WOW! It really felt good!
Curt could see I had something nice on and rushed over. As the fish got closer, I could see it flash under the ice and said to Curt, “It`s a nice bass!” – As it came to the top of the water I saw the all too familiar whiskers…… a Catfish! As I pulled the catty through the ice, the line snapped as the fished laid half-way on the ice. I swatted the nice fish with my hand and sliced my finger on the catty`s barb as flipped up on the ice. We weren`t exactly sure what kind of catfish it was, then Curt said, “It looks like a yellow-catfish” – As we looked it up on my phone, it was indeed just that. I have never caught a catfish in February Ice Fishing and the even odder part to me was that the catty hit a jig…….yes…….with the “Game Changer” doused on it. It made sense. As Catfish are attracted to smell/odor, the anise oil was the calling.
**Enjoy the Video of our Ice Fishing on Spruce Run Adventure below;