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Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category


Hooked on Fishing

This summer activity puts the entire family in touch with nature and each other.
 
My dad was a great parent in every way, but he was an immigrant, and some of the things most dads and sons shared — like baseball and football — were unknown to him. But there was one activity that we enjoyed together, and that was fishing, a sport practiced worldwide and one he had shared with his father many years ago on Sweden’s Lake Mälaren, Dad taught me to fish when I was about 8 years old on Wisconsin’s Lake Puckaway, helped me land my first fish, a plump lake perch of about 8 inches, and then taught me to clean it and cook it. We fished together for many summers thereafter on lakes throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. A passion for fishing was something we embraced, and it kept us close and communicating well into my teen years.
 
Kids and fishing are meant for each other. And there’s no better way for an adult and a child — or an entire family — to bond than on the water, away from distractions. You don’t need a lot of gear, but having the right equipment helps ensure success. When I was a wee one, a fishing kit had to be purchased piece-by-piece. Today, rod and reel combos provide everything one needs to land that first fish in one inexpensive package. And Dunham’s has a range of choices in stock, right now.
 
Rod and Reel Combos
 
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Combo is a great choice for your sons and daughters. With a tough rod, your choice of spinning or spincast reel, spooled line and a 7-year warranty, it’s perfect for the up and coming angler.
 
For the young ladies, Dunham’s offers a Shakespeare combo that pays homage to the Disney “Frozen” movie. The fully spooled reel is a spincast design that is easily mastered. A practice casting plug is included so basic skills can be taught in the backyard.
 
Consider also the range of Abu Garcia Max series bait-cast combos and reels. Meant for serious fishing, they are as tough as the biggest fish in the pond.
 
South Bend Ready2Fish combos are engineered and designed to provide everything you or your youngster needs to start fishing today. In addition to a spooled reel and split grip 5 ½-foot rod, each spincast combo comes with floats, brass snap swivels, a hook assortment, jig heads, a 1.4-ounce red and white spoon, 3-inch grubs, a shad dart, and easy-to-read instructions. Various other Ready2Fish models, including some with spinning reels and a pink set for the ladies, are also available at Dunham’s.
 
Dunham’s carries South Bend’s Microlite S Class Combos as well. Great looking and ultra sensitive, a Microlite spin or spincast combo is perfect for mom, dad and junior. With a handsome cork-handled rod, a Microlite outfit delivers performance and value.
 
Essential Gear
 
Augment your youngster’s fishing kit with a South Bend Worm Gear tackle box. Available in various colorful hues, the durable box comes with a removable tray and 88 gear essentials, including a hook remover, stringer, sinkers, swivels, floats and hooks.
 
Speaking of tackle, the Mepps Aglia spinner, available at Dunham’s, is a critical piece of equipment. This type of spinner doesn’t imitate minnows, worms or any of the other critters game fish like to eat. What it does is call attention to itself and prompt a fish to think something is invading its territory. Mepps spokesman, Jim Martinson, says spinners and trout go together like peanut butter and jelly. Jim recommends matching the size of the spinner to the size of the trout. The #00, #0 and #1 Aglias are perfect for small brook, rainbow or brown trout. Large trout may strike more often on a #2 or #3 Aglia.
 
Basic Skills
 
Before taking your youngster out to the water, have them practice casting in the backyard. If your combo outfit came with a hookless practice plug, attach that to the end of the line. If not, use a metal washer or nut.
 
Demonstrate the correct technique, guide your child’s arm on the first few attempts, and keep encouraging. My five-year-old granddaughter got the hang of it in five minutes or so.
 
Another important skill you can teach is knot tying. If your offspring can’t tie a hook onto a line, they won’t be able to manage on their own. And it’s important that they quickly learn to handle the basic gear prep chores. Too much reliance on dad or mom will take the fun out of fishing and diminish the sense of accomplishment that youngsters so enjoy.
 
The improved clinch knot is probably a slip-proof knot that can be mastered in minutes. To tie it, simply pass the line through the eye of the hook. Then leaving a small loop at the eye, wrap the line around itself four or five times, pass it through the loop you left at the eye, pull tight and trim the end. Simple and effective.
 
Nothing beats fishing for family fun. Strength and athletic skills aren’t really a factor, so everyone can do it. Success breeds togetherness and happiness, and few things in life are more pleasing than smiles all around.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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The Prespawn Bass Breakfast Bash

When the bass head for the shallows, it’s time for you to get up off the couch.
 
Like many of us, big bass get awful lazy during the winter. Unlike most of us, they have enough sense to stop eating a lot when they’re pretty much immobile and not getting very much exercise. But when it’s time to get up and move about again in early spring, those bass sure are hungry. For most of the bass I’ve run across, that early spring wake up comes just before the spawn, and as the bass start moving toward shallower water, they suddenly realize it’s been a really long time since they’ve had a good meal. It’s the perfect opportunity for some great fishing, and most anglers call it the prespawn. As a bass fisherman, it’s your job to help those bass find something that appears to be a good meal and then get them in the boat before they have a chance to digest it.
 
Finding the Fish
 
But first you have to figure out when the fish are going to leave the deep water where they’ve been waiting out the winter and where you might be able to intercept them as they travel back and forth to the shallows to feed. In most lakes the prespawn begins when the water temperature rises above 50°F or so. In terms of where you might find them, the key lies in locating the path the bass follow when moving from the deep to the shallows. There will be stopping off points along the way, frequently at the edge of a drop off and often where there are structures or debris on the bottom. Tree stumps, rock piles and even old fence posts seem to spell dinner for prespawn bass.
 
Gather up Your Gear
 
You’re going to want a good durable rod and reel, and Dunham’s offers a large selection. The Ugly Stik GX2 combo is always a good choice as are the Abu Garcia Max series bait cast combos and reels. I like to wind some tough-as-nails Spider wire line.
 
What kind of dinner entrée should you offer to the hungry bass? Dunham’s has a lot of choices on the menu. A slow-moving worm or jig is just fine for just about any half awake and slow-moving bass. If you’re using artificial worms, treat them with some scent. A slow retrieve on a good spinner like the Strike King Mini-King or Mepps Aglia Spinner works really well for many bass fishermen. But I wouldn’t hesitate to tie on a crank bait either, although I’d fish it slower than I would in warm weather. Many fishermen report excellent success with Rapala Husky Jerk and Shad Rap crank baits. Shad Rap closely resembles baitfish found nearly everywhere. The KVD Square Bill crank baits from Strike King are another good choice. Crank baits can run deep in those drop offs you’ll find right before the shallows. Slowly bounce them off some underwater structures, and the bass will move in for a meal.
 
If you don’t get any strikes in 20 minutes or so, move on to another good-looking spot. The fish are going to be schooled somewhere between the deep and the shallows but likely more toward the shallows. Your job is to find them. They most definitely aren’t out looking for you.
 
Try to Stay Warm
 
Fishermen in the Midwest and North Central states will probably be fishing for prespawn bass long before it’s pleasant outside. In fact, it might be pretty darn cold, even after the water temperature has reached 50°F. And once you’re out on the lake, it’s going to be too late to put on another layer of clothes. You can always take something off.
 
A snowmobile suit is a good hedge against old man winter’s last gasp. Ski outfits are pretty darn warm as well. If you don’t want to spend that much of your gear money on clothes, do like some of us did back in the day: wear two pairs of pants and two shirts, plus that winter jacket or parka. Don’t forget some good flexible gloves and a warm hat as well.
 
While some anglers are going to wait for warm weather to get out on the lake, those folks are going to miss some of the best fishing of the season. Get up out of that winter easy chair, head out on the lake and treat a lunker bass to breakfast.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Do It On The Ice

Real fishermen & Women don’t call it quits when lake freezes over.
 
Fishing through the ice is a great way to extend the season. It doesn’t require a lot of gear, since casting isn’t part of the equation. What is necessary if you want to fish in comfort is an ice fishing shelter. Dunham’s, your ice fishing headquarters, carries a range of shelters in hub, cabin and flip-up styles.
 
Hub-style shelters provide plenty of room. They’re inexpensive, sturdy, light and easy to set up. Attached to the ice with anchors they remain in place when the wind howls.
 
Dunham’s stocks three Fatfish hub-style shelters from Eskimo. The Fatfish 767 measures 76-by 76-inches at the base and stands 67-inches tall. Collapsed, it can be carried on your back. Fatfish 949 and 949i shelters measure 94- by 94-inches at the base, stand 80-inches high and can accommodate three to four. The 949i is insulated, making it 35% warmer than a non-insulated shelter.
 
Two Shappell hub-style shelters are available. The Wide House 5500 has a floor area of 75- by 75-inches and is 68-inches high. The Wide House 6500 has a floor area of 90- by 90-inches.and is 80 inches tall.
 
Cabin-style shelters are heavier than hub-style shelters and set up like a tent. They come with a built-in floor for extra warmth. Once setup they should be anchored.
 
The Shappell DX 3000 shelter measure 45- by 72-inches and is 72-inches high. Features include six removable windows and two fishing holes with covers.
 
Flip-style shelters are for anglers on the move. If you fish more than a couple of spots each time you head out on the ice, a transportable flip-type shelter might be right for you. Built on sleds they can be easily raised and lowered.
 
Two flip-style shelters from Shappell are available: the FX100 and FX 200. Both feature solid one-piece flip frames. Full width padded sliding bench seats provide plenty of comfort and help reduce the amount of gear that you have to carry. Because the base is a sled, packing up and moving is painless. The FX 100 is 44-inches wide by 85-inches deep when set up. Overall height is 59-inches. The FX 200 is 60-inches wide by 88-inches deep at a height of 61-inches.
 
Also available at select Dunham’s locations is the Wide1 Inferno flip-style shelter from Eskimo. The shelter measures 85-inches by 51-inches at the base and stands 60.5-inches tall. Fully insulated for extra warmth, it comes with an expandable bottom and a comfortable swivel seat.
 
The fish await, so let’s gather up some gear, head out on the ice and drill some fishing holes. Few other outdoor activities are as inexpensive, entertaining and rewarding.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Herding Cats

Catfish are fun to catch, remain active in summer’s heat, and make a great meal.
 
When I was only about four feet tall or so, my dad and I caught a mess of bullhead catfish on barbecued chicken – leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. I’ve also caught bullheads and other varieties of catfish on worms, grubs, chicken livers, dip bait and cheese. The common element that seems to characterize can’t-miss catfish bait is odor. While catfish can’t see well, they have an excellent sense of smell and the barbels near the mouth, which resemble a cat’s whiskers and give the species its common name, enable catfish to taste and smell food. That makes them easy to catch. And because they like warm water, they can provide a lot of summer fishing fun.
 
Bullhead Catfish
 
Bullheads are the smallest member of the catfish family found in our lakes and rivers, and they’re also the most common. There are several varieties of bullhead and most are around 10-inches long when fully grown. But they’re fun to catch, putting up a fairly good fight, and they are excellent table fare, fried with a cornmeal crust or blackened. You can catch them in the shallows of most lakes feeding near the bottom all summer long. I’ve caught a mess of them at noon on a hot day, when other fish just weren’t interested.
 
Channel Catfish
 
Channel cats aren’t much bigger than bullheads and are also quite abundant. Like bullheads, they’ll eat almost anything, but natural baits seem best. Small panfish cut into 1-inch pieces work well as do minnows or nightcrawlers. Fresh or frozen shrimp are said to work well. Dunham’s has a selection of baits that are sure to attract the channel cats. Berkley Powerbait chunks in liver, blood or fish scent are irresistible to any variety of catfish. Dip bait is among the most popular for catfish angling, particularly in summer months. Dunham’s carries Uncle Josh dip bits in rotten shad and liver. Also available are tube baits in the same delectable rotten shad and liver flavors.
 
When fishing for catfish, it’s important that you fish just off the bottom of the lake or stream. That’s where the cats will be searching for food.
 
Monster Catfish
 
Catfish angling gets serious when you go after the blue and flathead catfish. These big boys can grow to over 100 pounds, and 25- to 50-pound specimens are reasonably common in a lot of the nation’s river systems and lakes. While they can be found in some smaller lakes, they’re most prevalent in the big lakes. Like other members of the catfish family, they like warm water, so they’re a good species to go after when other fish are lying low in the midsummer heat.
 
Like their smaller relatives, big cats will happily feast on a variety of live bait, including minnows, crawfish, worms, chicken livers, cut-up panfish or man-made stink baits. Again, the preserved baits and dip baits available at Dunham’s are a sure way to attract the big cats.
 
Trotline Angling
 
Many catfish anglers set trotlines at night to catch a mess of cats. The trotline is a long piece of sturdy fishing line with multiple hooks attached to secondary drop lines that branch off the main line. Each hook is baited with some nasty bit that the cats will love. One end is tied to a tree limb or some other sturdy spot on shore. The other line is weighted and dropped into the water. A float can be attached to the anchor end via a piece of line long enough to reach the surface with the anchor on the bottom. An empty plastic gallon-size milk or detergent bottle works well. On streams with trees on both sides, a trotline can be strung between two trees. When I was a teenager I watched some older anglers bait and set their trotlines in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. They were using massive hooks and baiting them with cottonseed cakes. They set the trotline at dusk and hauled in some mighty big blue cats in the morning.
 
Catfish Gear
 
Dunham’s can provide everything you need to put together a trotline, but most of us like to take our fish on rod and reel. Dunham’s offers a wide variety of heavy-duty rods and reels that are perfect for catfish angling. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik is a favorite of many cat fishermen.
 
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing says the Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods and combos are tough enough to land the biggest cats, and Dunham’s has a wide selection of this gear. He also recommends loading your reel with Berkley Trilene Big Cat Monofilament line in 20 lb., 30 lb., and 40 lb. weight. Another good choice that you’ll find at Dunham’s is SpiderWire Stealth Braid line.
 
A great way to get your feet wet in catfish angling is with the South Bend Ready to Fish Catfish Combo. This all-you-need kit includes a rod and reel, along with a tackle box and some bait that is sure to make any cat sit up and take notice.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Where the Summer Bass Play

Those Lunker Bass Aren’t Taking Summer Off. They’re just vacationing in a different part of the lake.
 
It’s summer, and the world is taking it easy. The cicadas sing, dawn comes early, and the warm sun feels good on your skin. However, the bass that you hope to catch might not be as fond of summer as the rest of us.
 
Your big bass may be lollygagging in the deep water, lazily avoiding the warm shallows. The bass probably move into somewhat shallower water, say 10- to 20-feet deep to feed, but they’ll be scarce near shore. Unless of course, they’re hiding in the shade of some underwater weeds.
 
If you’re fishing a man-made lake with underwater structures, count on the bass to huddle near submerged trees or areas that have an uneven lake bottom, such as an underwater gully or creek bed. Fishing in the right place at the right time is key to success when it comes to angling for bass.
 
Fishing the Deep with Crankbaits
 
While knowing where to find the fish is important, having the correct equipment is also essential. If the bass are congregating in the deep, you’ll have to use bait intended for deep-water fishing. Today, that most often means deep-diving crankbaits. Matt Jensen of Rapala says the Rapala DT crankbait helped win the BassMaster Classic. “It dives to the specified depth and stays there,” he said. “The DT06 dives to six feet and stays there for the entire retrieve. It’s easy to target fish and be more consistent with a crank bait.”
 
Of course Rapala makes crankbaits that run much deeper. The DT Metal 20, for example, will run at 20 feet of depth and can be easily cast 150 feet, enabling a long retrieve in the target zone. As with any lure, you may have to try several different colors before you find a crankbait the fish hunger for.
 
Scott Ingram of Bomber Lure Co. tells us that their line of crankbaits includes a lot of choices for the bass fisherman. Bomber’s Fat Free Shad® crankbait has won millions of dollars in prize money and comes in both rattling and silent models. It even includes a new version that can dive to 19 feet and work those deep holes in the middle of the lake. Dunham’s stocks a wide variety of Bomber baits.
 
It Looks Like Dinner
 
When bass do migrate to shallow water, they usually head for the weed beds. Find a hole in the weed bed and drop your bait there. A bass could be lurking under those weeds, and it might fall head over heels for a nice, fat plastic worm – a long-time favorite for summer bass fishing. The Matzuo plastic worms you’ll find at Dunham’s come with a free pack of worm hooks.
 
Jim Burrows of purefishing wrote to remind us that Dunham’s carries a number of baits from the Berkley Gulp!® line of live-looking dinner entrees, including night crawlers, minnows, shrimp and more – all with a long history of success on Bass fishing waters. When choosing a worm to tempt a big bass, remember that it doesn’t have to be of the same hue as a real worm. A bright red plastic nightcrawler can look like the perfect meal to our fishy friends.
 
Rods and Reels
 
While bait is what attracts fish, a good rod and reel can help ensure you won’t lose the lunker after hooking it. Dunham’s offers some great rods and reels from all the top manufacturers. For big bass, a rod of 6- to 7-feet in length is ideal. The South Bend Shredder is a top choice of pro fishermen. With multi-layer construction, Shredder rods will bend but not break. Abu Garcia rods are also highly favored by bass fisherman. Dunham’s carries the Vengeance, Vendetta and Villain models from that maker, as well as Abu Garcia bait casting reels. And check out the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Rods as well. How can you go wrong with a rod called “Ugly Stik?”
 
If you’re new to bass fishing and just want to dip your bait in the water to see how it feels, you might want to look at the South Bend R2F Bass combo. It has everything you need to get started immediately, including rod, reel, and even a tackle box with some lures inside that are sure to tempt Mr. (or Mrs.) bass. Speaking of combos, you’ll also find some nice bait-casting combo outfits from Abu Garcia at Dunham’s. In other words, Dunham’s has a lot of gear from which to choose, and there are a lot of bass out there just waiting for you.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Puddle Wonderful

The snow has melted, the grass is green, and it’s time to play.
 
It’s spring when the world is puddle-wonderful,” wrote poet ee cummings, heralding the season many love most. Almost everything about spring is wonderful: the greening of nature, the change from bitter cold to just right, the feeling that this is a time for new beginnings. The urge to break out the sporting gear and head out to the lakes, baseball diamonds, links and soccer fields.
 
If you don’t enjoy a sport, spring is a great time to take one up. If you’re a seasoned sportsman or sportswoman, it’s time to get up and go!
 
On the Links
 
I was a golf fanatic as a teenager, couldn’t wait to get out on the fairways come spring. And sometimes I didn’t wait. Back about half a century ago or so, a buddy and I headed out to a public course in Chicago in late March, only to find it was all mud and snow. The clubhouse was shuttered, but we tried to play a round. We made it through three holes before our feet were wet and our hands numb.
 
Getting out too early isn’t recommended, but you do want to be ready for opening day at your favorite course. If you’re just getting started and would like some helpful hints, golf instructor Nick Lico’s article, “Beginner Golfers Can Play Like the Pros,” can point you in the right direction. Nick’s tips can help you avoid the frustration that ill-prepared beginners can experience.
 
Seasoned golfers on the other hand, will want to brush up on the latest gear – equipment engineered to lower that handicap. Mr. Lico has the straight dope on what’s new for 2014. See “Advancements in Golf Technology = Better Scores.” You might be surprised to discover how much high science goes into producing low scores.
 
Batter Up!
 
Nothing says spring like the crack of a bat, and nobody knows baseball better than Dunham’s. In this issue, we sort through the needs of beginning players, helping moms and dads figure out what’s required for success in Tee Ball and Little League. It all starts with training aids and equipment geared to the needs of young players. You’ll find a review of what’s available in the article titled “Play Ball.”
 
If you’re an experienced ballplayer moving up to senior leagues, high school ball or NCAA competition, you’ll also want to move up to equipment that’s as good as your game. We talked to experts at Easton and Wilson as well as Dunham’s baseball consultants to put together a review of equipment engineered to help every player succeed in the upper levels of amateur baseball. It’s all in “Moving on Up.”
 
We’ve Been Kicking this Around
 
While baseball and football may be America’s most popular spectator sports, the game we all play is soccer. (Just to keep us confused, our friends in other countries call it football.)
But there’s really nothing confusing about soccer. The basics are simple: two goals, two teams, a ball, and no hands please. The last part is the hardest for youngsters to learn. If you watch mini-kid soccer games, you’ll hear the coaches shouting, “no hands! NO HANDS!”
 
Because it involves high-speed action, soccer is great exercise; with minimal risk of injury, it’s one of the safest sports for kids. And come spring, many kids, teens and adults can’t wait to get back out on the soccer field. Today, with indoor soccer growing in popularity, they don’t have to wait. “The Ins and Outs of Soccer“ takes a look at how the indoor game differs from outdoor soccer and reviews the equipment you or your child will need to take up the indoor game. Find all the soccer equipment you need at Dunham’s.
 
The Ice is Out, the Kayak is In
 
The ice has melted on our lakes and streams, and it’s time to get out the kayak. Or should we say the kayaks, because kayaking is an ideal family sport and many of us have several or more boats stashed in the garage, waiting for the first day of the season.
 
If you don’t have kayaks stashed in the garage, you should. Kayaking is easy with the right equipment, and it’s great exercise for the entire family. Our article, “Families Who Kayak Together Have More Fun,” offers some hints on choosing boats for one and all.
 
The Season Opener
 
Me, I’m going bass fishing on the first day of the season, which is the Saturday before Memorial Day on Michigan inland waters. I’ll probably take a baitcasting reel and rod and some crankbaits and see if I can get some love from a lunker largemouth on one of Michigan’s 10,000 lakes. If you’d like to try your hand at bass fishing, you’ll find some tips in the article titled “Tempting Mr. Bass.”
 
That’s a wrap for now, but don’t forget that Dunham’s has everything you need for every sporting season, along with the expert advice that can make your game more fun. Stop by your Dunham’s store today for everything you need to get in the game.
-Your Friends at Dunham’s
 
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Tempting Mr. Bass

The right equipment and correct technique can help you land a lunker.
 
I caught my first bass in 1967 while fishing for northern pike on Canada’s Lake of the Woods. On a slow morning I tossed a daredevil out toward a weed bed and a big fish grabbed it and ran. At last, a good-sized pike, I thought. The fish fought hard, broke water, and I saw a flash of gold. It wasn’t a northern pike. It was a muscle-bound bass, and both he and I were hooked.
 
I’m a casual Michigan fisherman now, but our waters are chock full of bass, smallmouth and largemouth. Over the years I’ve learned that even a rank amateur like me can catch fish using the right equipment.
 
Dunham’s is the right place to find the right equipment. I learned that soon after moving to the mitten. And their sales consultants can help you choose gear that works.
 
I grew up with baitcasting reels and love the Shimano Caenan and Citica reels wound with Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, which is invisible underwater. With fast retrieve, either reel is great for bass, which often strike rapidly moving baits. They don’t like to see a meal escape. Dunham’s offers numerous spinning reels as well. Either style reel is well suited to bass fishing. It’s a matter of what you’re comfortable with.
 
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing tells us that Shakespeare® has a new Ugly Stik® GX2™ rod for 2014. With Ugly Tech Construction, it’s warranteed for seven years. “No doubt this will be the winner for the upcoming 2014 fishing season,” says Jim.
 
Two excellent bass baits that work well with a rapid retrieve are the Rapalo Rippin Rap and the deep-diving DT Series crankbaits. They run below the surface and are favored by tournament pros. Toss them with a light- or medium-action rod of about 7-foot length.
 
A correct drag setting is important. Too much resistance is an invitation for Mr. Bass to break the line and head south. You can adjust drag by tying on a weight that’s half the rating of your line. If your reel is wound with eight-pound test, a four-pound weight should be able to overcome the drag setting and pull line off your reel. That will allow a hooked fish to make a run but will wear him down.
 
Let’s not forget worm fishing. When I was a wee lad fishing with dad, I’d grow impatient and wiggle the rod tip. Dad would tell me to sit still, but that doodling would often produce a bite.
 
Doodling is what they call it today. It’s a worm fishing tactic practiced by some of the best bass fishermen. With a 4 – to 5-inch plastic worm on an Eagle Claw Lazer Wide Gap Worm Hook, wiggle the rod tip for a few seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. If there’s a bass in the neighborhood, he’ll probably take the bait.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Memory Walks

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Do your brain a favor … make walking a part of your regular routine! Evidence that regular walking benefits brain health continues to pile up. If you’re not a walker, this should convince you to start!
 
A recent study from The Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois involving 120 sedentary people aged 55-80 found that walking increased the size of the hippocampus, a critical area of the brain for new learning and creating long-term memories. Participants of the study had not engaged in more than 30 minutes of daily exercise in the six months before of the study; they then took part in exercise groups for a year. Half of the participants walked three days a week, starting out 10 minutes per day and increasing to 40 minutes per day as their fitness levels improved. The other half did stretching and toning exercises for the same amount of time.
 
Participants were assessed at the start of the study, at six months into the study, and at the end of the year for spatial memory, fitness levels, and levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an essential fuel for the growth of new neurons in the brain. They were also given brain scans to track physical changes.
 
The assessments showed that fitness levels for the walking group improved more than in the stretching and toning group. The walking group also had an increase in the size of the hippocampus. Spatial memory and levels of BDNF increased in both groups, but only the walking group was found to have increased the size of the hippocampus. Studies have shown that had the participants continued to be inactive for the year, their hippocampus would have shrunk by one to two per cent, while walking just three times a week boosted their memory and increased the size of their hippocampus.
 
While this study concentrated on walking, it is believed that any aerobic activity could offer the same benefits. If you can’t get out for a walk due to weather conditions try walking on a treadmill.
 
If a knee injuries get in the way of your walking routine, try weight-lifting. A study conducted by scientists at the University of British Columbia focused on women ages 70 to 80 with mild cognitive impairment. They found that after six months of exercise, either walking or weight training, the women performed better performance on cognitive tests than they had before. It is interesting that while both exercise groups improved almost equally on tests of spatial memory, the women who had walked showed greater gains in verbal memory than the women who had lifted weights.
 
So get out there and walk … you’ll build strength and memories!
 
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Dr. Dunham’s Cabin Fever Cure

 
“I’ve got cabin fever, it’s burning in my brain. I’ve got cabin fever, it’s driving me insane,” sang the Muppets in their 1996 blockbuster, “Muppet Treasure Island.”
 
Well, in truth the movie may not have achieved blockbuster status, but most of us won’t soon forget the “Cabin Fever” song. Perhaps because it hits close to home.
 
Cabin fever has been recognized as a very real affliction for almost 100 years. It results from being confined to one place for an extended period of time. It’s exacerbated by inactivity. The usual result is extreme irritability and feelings of anxiety. It often strikes in winter when many of us shun the cold and curl up on the couch for the duration.
 
The most obvious cure is getting outside and interacting with the rest of the world. For those of us whose favorite activities include things like gardening, swimming or hanging out at the beach, the winter world may seem foreign and forbidding. But winter sports can be invigorating and entertaining. And there’s no better cure for the ills of cabin fever than the crisp air of a January day.
 
Did we hear someone say it’s too cold to play outside? Well, that’s only true if you’re not dressed for outdoors. Today’s winter clothing is light yet warm, so there’s no need to fear the frigid air, and bundling up need not cramp your style.
 
Winter Games, Out and In
 
Once you’re dressed for the occasion, the possibilities for winter entertainment are almost unlimited. Those who appreciate a good workout might try cross-country skiing or snowshoe hiking. Snowboarding and downhill skiing can provide a good amount of exercise as well, and few thrills compare to that of racing down the side of a ski slope at speed.
 
Ice-skating and sledding are a bit less taxing than skiing but can be just as much fun, particularly for the younger set. Most towns have a good sledding hill or two, and winter afternoons will likely find a happy group of kids enjoying the ride downhill. Ditto ice skating rinks or frozen ponds. You can find them everywhere, and there’s always something special about tracing lines on the ice as gentle flakes fall from a moonlit sky.
 
Of course you can invent your own winter games. When I was a kid, a zillion years ago, we would play football in the snow – on our knees. That required only a small parcel of land, which was all that was available in the urban area where I was raised. But while the playing field was small, the games were big.
 
For those who hanker to get out and do something but would prefer to minimize the strenuous part, there’s always ice fishing.If you’d prefer to fish on open water, some fast-moving streams in Colorado, like the South Platte River, offer winter fly-fishing.
 
On days when it’s just too cold to go out, try changing your indoor routine to relieve symptoms of cabin fever. Table tennis, a popular indoor sport, is a great way to stay active. There’s also billiards, air-hockey and Wii games that are played in front of the television. Some games, like Wii Grand Slam Tennis, mimic outdoor summer sports and can provide a pretty good workout. Or for a top-notch workout do some cardio and resistance training to get ready for swimsuit season.
 
Getting Away From It All
 
If you really have to get out of town to cure that cabin fever, then get out of town. There’s a winter resort in the U.S.A. for any winter sport you can think of, and accommodations range in price from very affordable to lavish and expensive.
 
Looking for something novel? Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado offers ski biking. Another Colorado attraction, Ouray Ice Park, offers ice climbing in the Uncompahgre Gorge. In Alaska you can try dogsledding. Skijoring, which is popular in Minnesota, is a melding of dog sledding and skiing.
 
What’s that you say? You want to get away from the cold? Then head south or west to Florida, Arizona or California. Caribbean and Mexican vacations can be very affordable. There’s always somewhere where one can find a bit of summer in the throes of winter.
 
A Cure That’s Sure To Work
 
But you don’t have to leave home to defeat the winter doldrums. Why not organize a winter Olympics for the neighborhood? And your event doesn’t have to focus on winter sports. Playing softball in the snow is a hoot, as is Frisbee golf. Picnic games like a three-legged race are even more fun in the snow.
 
Plan a post-Olympics tailgate with plenty of hot chocolate, some hot dogs or pizza, a blazing fire pit and some marshmallows to roast.
 
That’s a sure cure for even the worst case of cabin fever.
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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