Into The Outdoors: “Dog Days”


As we all know, we are almost into the “dog days” of August. It’s hard to believe how fast things go after the Fourth of July. There are lots of explanations for the origin of the term, but here are two of the most common. One is the belief that dogs have a greater tendency to “go mad,” or contract rabies during August. The other is that a dog, for whatever reason, becomes more amorous at this time.  While these stories are quaint, they have no basis in fact and are, when you come right down to it, ridiculous.  

There is a lot of dog days folklore regarding water, and most of it is bad.  Many people in my age group can remember the horror of polio season, which came around in late summer, before the development of the Salk vaccine.  Many people, including my mother, believed that polio might be spread by the foamy scum that is common in rivers and creeks during this time of year.  Special fear was directed at mosquitoes and other bugs which hatch in water.

There were, and still are, many myths surrounding fishing in August.  Many people still believe to this day that pike, muskies and walleyes lose their teeth during August, and that other fish just quit eating.  Of course, none of this is true.  The fact of the matter is that fish neither lose their teeth nor quit eating during August.  They just change their habits a bit, so the angler, in order to be successful, must do likewise.

Since it is fishing time, let’s take a little look at what might be the most overlooked item in the angler’s arsenal.  That would be the sinker.  There are many varieties out there. Probably the best known and most widely used is the splitshot. They are, of course the primary sinker used in trout fishing.  They also, however, come into play when fishing in a pond or lake, or when fishing the river from the bank.  

One of my personal favorites is the bullet sinker.  True to its name, it is shaped somewhat like a bullet, with a hole running its length for threading the line. The main advantage of this shape of sinker is that, when retrieving it, it is a bit less likely, due to its pointed shape, to hang up.  It still happens, but saving even a few snags is well worth it.

Then, we have the egg sinker. As is apparent by its name, it is shaped like an egg, once again a hole running through it lengthwise. These, too, are somewhat resistant to snags, but I prefer the bullet.

These are by no means the only sinker shapes available. They are, however, probably the most commonly seen.

For many years, sinkers were made exclusively of lead. Nowadays, due to environmental concerns, steel sinkers are widely available, especially from Eagle Claw. I have used them from time to time. They are made of steel. It should be noted that they are lighter in weight than lead, and you must adjust accordingly.

In closing, the Allegheny is looking good, and the fish are biting. There is no telling how long that will last, so get out there and enjoy it. Steiner’s Outdoors and more sponsors catfish contests. By the time you read this, the latest one will be over. Keep an eye out for future events.

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