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Anti-Hunting Movement Helped by Some Hunters 

Wolves are the most misunderstood and persecuted predator in human history. That's why I wrote Revenge of the Wolf: Sometimes, You Should Be Afraid of the Dark. And that's why I wrote what  follows:

A Field & Stream cover from 1955 shows an attitude that still prevails today among some "hunters" who are quick to point out that they are champions for conservation. Also notice  the title above the art: "Strafing Arctic killers." Now read the comments below, which were posted with it at Instagram, especially the last two.

fieldandstream#tbt This here, is some wild and old-school carnage. On the February 1955 cover, a pack of wolves attacks a caribou, while a hunter guns down the wolves from the bush plane (notice the orange blast from the muzzle...and red blood from the wolf at the top right).

jdnovak97This needs to be legalized in northern Wisconsin

bradklosinski If you were a rancher or a hunter in areas that have wolves you would very clearly understand the importance of harvesting and managing the population. But you have no idea about management or what it's like to have thousands and thousands of dollars taken away because of these animals. If I had it my way I'd kill everyone I see. But yuppie faggots like yourself don't let that happen because there "pretty".@aroundthebend3

anyroadhomeWow @fieldandstream deletes the posts that advocate science and conservation biology??? I had no idea that this company was operated by those that turn a blind eye towards reason and critical thinking.@aroundthebend3

Now let me ask you this: Why were those "Arctic killers" attacking that caribou? For kicks?  For a trophy head mount? No, they are carnivores and they must kill to eat, to survive.

Many human "hunters," such as Brad above, don't want to share.  They are NOT conservationists, and THEY are the ones who have no idea about management.

Wolves should not be allowed to kill livestock indiscriminately, and they should be delisted in states where their number have recovered and their populations managed with hunts. But to say that you'd "kill every one" is the height of hypocrisy for hunters who think of themselves as conservationists. And such comments and attitudes hurt the argument on behalf of hunting as a wildlife management tool among the millions and millions in this country who don't hunt but do vote and influence public policies.

That attitude nearly led to the wolf's extinction in the Lower 48, with thousands shot, poisoned, and trapped by government hunters during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those same traps and poisons, placed throughout the western wilderness, also killed many other species, including eagles, livestock, and humans.

Now the wolves are back, as our wildlife agencies, at least, have recognized that ecological balance,  not total extermination of a species, is the best way to manage wildlife. Concurrently, we have an epic battle going on for the survival of sport fishing and hunting, as our population becomes more urbanized and less in touch with nature. Hunters and anglers--- many who truly are conservationists--- are pitted against an animal rights movement that is totally ignorant of the outdoors, yet grows stronger and more radical every day.

These people want to stop hunting and fishing. Period.  And people like Brad are among their greatest assets in convincing millions of people who don't fish and hunt to join their side.

If you'd like to learn more about this issue, as you read an action/adventure novel, featuring wolves, humor, romance, a psychotic killer, and a brawl at Bass Pro Shops, check out Revenge of the Wolf: Sometimes, You Should Be Afraid of the Dark, available as an ebook at Amazon.


American Shad Another Reason to Fish Florida Waters

Caught my first American shad today on  Florida's St. Johns River, while fishing with Captain Ron Presley and Dave Burkhardt, owner of Trik Fish fishing line.

Migrating into rivers to spawn, the shad ranges from Florida to Canada, and is a great sport fish on light tackle or fly rod. It's a dogged fighter, much like a smallmouth, and often will jump. Catches of 30 to 40 fish a day are common when concentrations of fish are found and they are feeling cooperative.

Shad start migrating into the St. Johns in December, with the run lasting into February. Largest fish caught in Florida waters weighed 5-3. Farther north, though, they tend to grow larger. World record of 11-4 came from Massachusetts' Connecticut River in 1986.

They once were the most commercially valuable fish in the Mid-Atlantic states. But by the late 1800s, overharvest, pollution, and loss of habitat had decimated the species in many waters. An annual harvest of 17.5 million pounds at the turn of the century plummeted to less than 2 million pounds by the 1970s.



New Book-- Revenge of the Wolf-- by Activist Angler

“Good morning,” the wolf said. “This is a fine, cold morning, is it not?” Its eyes seemed more green than gold in the misty light and its bushy tail, hanging loosely, reflected a relaxed attitude.

Richard cleared his throat, but no words came. He wiped his nose with his hand and squeezed his legs together.

“We looked through many windows before we finally found you,” the wolf continued. “You must have thought that we never would come.”

Richard nodded, finally regaining the gift of speech. “You’re right,” he said. “I never thought you would.

“Exactly what is it that you want anyway?”

The wolf smiled.

Excerpt from my  new book, Revenge of the Wolf: Sometimes, You Should be Afraid of the Dark, now available as an ebook at Amazon. Here's more about the book:

A child is dragged kicking and screaming into the wilderness. Livestock is brutally butchered. Pets vanish without a trace. Something is terrorizing Parkland. That “something” is a pack of wolves, residents believe. The most persecuted and misunderstood animals in history, wolves had not lived in this area of Missouri for more than a century. But just a few weeks before Christmas, they are back.

Only Richard, Bonnie, and Thomas believe the wolves are not to blame. They join forces to speak out for the animals that cannot speak for themselves and find out the truth behind the reign of terror.

 In a unique twist, wolves are the main characters in several of the chapters, as they hunt, court, explore their new surroundings, and care for one another. Ultimately, the man who champions the wolves is, in turn,  saved by the pack that adopts him as one of its own.

 This fast-paced eco-thriller is seasoned with mystery, romance, and humor, as well as a sprinkle  of Native American mysticism and the supernatural.

Robert U. Montgomery is the author of Under the Bed: Tales From an Innocent Childhood; Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature; Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen; Better Bass Fishing, and Heart Lights.


Confidence, Patience Just Two of Secrets for Topwater Success

I caught this bass on Sam Griffin's Offset Sam, my favorite topwater for big bass.

Its rubber skirt long ago dried up and crumbled into dust, but the old yellow Hula Popper remains one of my most prized possessions.

I haven’t fished with it in 40 years, and, as best I can remember, I caught only one bass with it.

But that one fish . . . well, it set the course that I have followed as a lifelong angler, including to my friendship with Sam Griffin, a lure designer and one of the world’s best topwater fishermen. That’s why I so love that Hula Popper.

Yet, I didn’t make the connection between that lure and my addiction to topwater fishing until I wrote an essay in my new book, Why We Fish.

As I started to write “The Proof Is in the Popper,” my intent was to point out that pleasant memories of previous trips are some of the main reasons that we fish. But then the essay took on a life of its own as I visualized that fall day on Turner’s pond so many years ago.

The water was flat calm, and I knew next to nothing about fishing a topwater. Since the bait was a “popper,” I popped it. In fact, I popped it as hard as I possibly could, sending ripples all across that pond.As the pond returned to glasslike following my second pop, water under the lure exploded, and I suddenly was tied fast to the biggest bass that I had ever hooked.

Of course, it wasn’t large enough to pull drag on my Johnson Century spincast reel. But at 3 pounds, it was a trophy in my eyes as I dragged it up on the bank. My heart nearly leaped out of my chest at the sight of that fish, and, after I put the fish on my rope stringer, I remember looking down to see my hands still shaking.In the decades since, I’ve caught thousands of bass larger than the one that I caught that fall day, including more than a dozen that weighed 10 pounds or more. And I have caught some of those lunkers on Sam’s wooden surface baits, mostly the Offset Sam.

But I’ve never caught one that excited me more than that 3-pounder did. And as I wrote about that, I suddenly realized, hey, that’s why I like topwater so much!

How can a 3-pounder that I caught on top as a child mean more to me than 10-pounders that I’ve caught as an adult?

If you’ve ever returned to the elementary school that you went to as a child, you know that the halls, the rooms, the desks, everything looks smaller to you as an adult that it was in your memories. Well, it’s the same thing.

I have no doubt that if a 3-pound bass were to blow up on that Hula Popper today in exactly the same way as that one from my childhood, the explosion would pale in comparison to what I remember.

But just as school is larger in our memories than in the reality of adulthood, so too is that strike.

That’s why I’d rather throw a topwater than anything else.  I remember how that blowup excited me, and I want more, in much the same way that an addict needs his fix.

And that’s why I’m so blessed to have Sam as a friend. It’s as if some higher power led the student to his teacher. For years, Sam made baits for Luhr Jensen, including the Jerk’n Sam. Now he makes his own line, including the Offset Sam, a slush bait, and the Lil’ Richard, a finesse lure that has been his biggest seller.“Keep throwing a topwater and eventually you will get bit,” says the man who has been designing and making topwater lures for more than 30 years and who has been living on and fishing Lake Okeechobee for most of his 70-plus years.  While guiding and “field testing” his lures, he has logged more time on the water than most any professional bass fisherman.

“My big things are to be confident and have patience. I’ll fish behind people throwing worms and crankbaits and catch fish they bypass. I like to fish that topwater slower and let ‘em read the menu.”

Sam Griffin making b

Sam’s Secrets

Here are some of the strategies that Sam has shared with me during our time on the water together:

1. On topwaters, most fish are caught on the front hook. That means it is important to have a bigger, stronger hook there.

2. Dress up the back hook. Sam has learned that he gets 25 percent more bites when he puts pearlescent Mylar tinsel on the back hook. It’s especially productive when the bait is still.

3. The same topwater bait will work anywhere. “It’s a matter of confidence,” says Sam. “That’s why there are regional favorites.”

4. Slow down. “Most of the time, people fish a topwater too fast,” the lure designer says. “They’re just pulling and pulling. I’d say that 85 percent of the time, the bite comes when the bait is still or coming to a stop.”With most topwaters, Sam will jerk the bait twice, creating slack in the line and allowing the bait to sit. Then he will swing the rod tip toward the bait, taking in line, and repeat the sequence. With a popper, he might jerk just once.

“Pay attention and fish will let you know what they want,” he says. “If you are fishing too fast, they will follow but not hit.”

5. “Early and late is a myth,” says Sam. “Those are not the only times to throw a topwater. People used to fish two or three hours before work and then come home and fish two or three hours. That’s the way that got started. I’ve found that 10 to 2 is the most productive time for big fish.”

6. Color is more important to the fisherman than it is the fish.

“When I develop a lure, I seal it so it won’t take on water, but I don’t paint it,” Sam explains. “Then I fish with it. I’ve probably caught more fish on those baits than with painted baits. I’ve sold a few like that too, but mostly they’re too bland for fishermen.

“I offer 26 colors, but black and white is what I use the most. It’s what I grew up with and what I have confidence in.”

7. Topwaters aren’t just for warm water.

“You can catch bass consistently on top in water that is 50 degrees or above,” the Florida native says. “Usually in colder water, you want to fish extremely fast or extremely slow, not in between.”

The popper is a good choice for colder water, he adds, because you can keep it in one place longer and because its tail sits down in the water, making it easier for the bass to take.

8. Topwaters aren’t just for calm water either.

“Take what the weather gives you,” says Sam. “In rough weather, you can throw in the ‘wind rows’ in grass. And you can throw in troughs between waves. Most of the time, you’ll want a faster retrieve in rough water, to take the slack out of your line.”

9. Not every topwater bite is explosive. In general, louder and larger baits will draw more aggressive bites. Smaller, more subtle baits will get the “suckers.”

“In cold weather and in calm water, when you’re using a small bait, it’s really important to watch your line, just like you would with other baits,” Sam says. “That’s because you’re more likely to get a sucking bite.

“With a soft, suck bite on the back of the bait, don’t set the hook hard,” he cautions. “Instead, lift up and reel. Otherwise you’ll pull the hook out. When you do get a fish this way, it’s usually hooked on the edge of the mouth or even the outside.”

If you want to incorporate some of Sam’s lures with his strategies, your best chance of finding them are in the bait shops around Lake Okeechobee. A few are listed from time to time on eBay and possibly you might find some at other websites as well.

Just as with that yellow Hula Popper, I’m not about to part with any of mine.



The Reasons Why We Fish Can Fill a Book 

I was hooked the first time that I went fishing, even though I didn’t catch a fish. Just seeing another Cub Scout pull in a bluegill with a cane pole was enough for me.

Until well into my teens, I fished to catch fish. Period. I didn’t just love to fish. I lived to fish.

That began to change in college, when I intuitively went fishing to relieve stress. But still I didn’t think about. Nor did it occur to me to wonder why we fish as a young outdoors writer, when I met fishing guides, bass pros, and folks in the fishing industry.

But as I met people who told me stories about the intangible value of angling, I did start to wonder. Soldiers stationed in Iraq shared with me that fishing over there made them feel closer to home. A father with an autistic child revealed how his son is happier on the water. And the organizer of a fishing event for children with terminal illness told me about how a little girl screamed with joy to feel the wind in her hair as she rode in a bass boat.

I also began to realize that going fishing as an adult awakened in me so many wonderful memories of angling trips with friends and family when I was younger.

And that’s what led me to write Why We Fish, a collection of essays that explores the many reasons, both tangible and intangible, that we go fishing.

What I’ve learned in writing the book and asking others why they fish is that most really don’t think about it --- until they are asked. Then they open up with a flood of wonderful reasons.

Enough of them, in fact, to fill a book.