There are plenty of items around the household you can put to use in a practical way for fishing, repairs, or both

Over the years I have put together quite a collection of outdoor tips, fun facts and just plain drivel. 

I do not believe there is a single topic related to summertime outdoor fun that I do not have at least a half dozen tips about. And now, mainly because of a severe case of writer's block, it's time to share some of this wisdom.

Have you ever been aggravated by those plastic “peanuts” that often arrive disguised as packing material? Well, believe it or not they do have several useful purposes. I have used them as hook keepers to protect the hooks on the lures in my tackle box from becoming tangled with any other lures. Those styrofoam nuggets also protect my fingers from those same sharp points.

Once I was visiting a friend who has a beautiful, tree-lined farm pond. He told me it was full of bass and sunfish, and I could help myself any time if I wanted to catch some. Unfortunately I did not have any fishing tackle with me.

But I did have my survival kit. It never leaves my vehicle. And inside I found some monofilament fishing line and some bare hooks. 

Also, lying beside the kit were two plastic peanuts that had been overlooked during some past trash run. So I cut an alder fishing pole, caught some grasshoppers and other insects, used one of the peanuts as a bobber, and spent the afternoon catching one sunfish after another.

Don’t leave the duct tape at home. It’s been said that duct tape can fix anything except a broken heart. It can be used as a temporary repair for canoe paddles or even the canoe’s skin, a leaky radiator hose, or holes or tears in tents. In a real emergency it can hold splints in place on a broken arm or leg. 

Everyone knows that various types of earthworms make dandy baits for panfish. But there are a number of other small critters that will also catch lots of fish. 

Live grasshoppers are great when fished on the surface. Live crickets can be even better. They can be fished either on the surface (best) or under a bobber. And remember that virtually any insect, caterpillar or similar critter will catch fish, so don’t be too choosey about only using worms.

Fresh, lively bait is always best for virtually all types of freshwater gamefish from bluegills to walleye. But finding suitable bait, especially in the late fall to early spring time frame, can be difficult if not impossible. 

But if you know of a pet store or any establishment that sells reptiles, there is a good chance those places will also carry an assortment of insects such as crickets and some items such as mealworms. We are talking great baits here.

The best panfish bait I have ever found is one I don’t recommend and probably should not even mention. The partly developed larva of paper wasps will entice panfish to bite when absolutely nothing else will. However, since collecting even a small supply of these critters is fraught with risks, I’d first suggest using crickets. Collecting a supply of them is a whole lot safer.

One of the most effective artificial lures for panfish is a tiny “popper.” When fished on a fly rod or with a bobber on a spinning rig it can be absolutely deadly on bluegills and their many cousins. 

Just remember to allow the popper to sit for 10 to 20 seconds after it lands before giving it any motion. It will appear to any nearby fish as a stunned insect just lying on the surface. Strikes will often occur during this initial period.

By the way, nothing can spoil a fishing trip faster than insects and rotten line on the reel. For rejecting pesky insects, a good repellent with a stiff dose of DEET is just the ticket. And replacing fishing line every other year will avoid the frustration of hooking and losing a lunker fish because the 10-pound test line that looked to be alright actually weakened to two pound test or less because of age (oxidation).

Hunters, remember that there is a bumper crop of woodchucks this year. Some newly mowed hayfields look like groundhog central. Just remember to ask permission from the landowner before trespassing.

* * *

Urban-minded individuals usually make me smile as I shake my head in wonder. They also often make me cringe as I shake my head in disbelief. And more often than not, they make me do both at the same time, which often gives me a headache. 

But occasionally common sense, or what might pass for common sense in the urban world, does manage to rear up every once in a while. And the NY Court of Appeals recently proved that point with one of its decisions.

It seems that the “Nonhuman Rights Project” is a group of individuals who have for several years attempted to persuade various NY courts to grant writs of habeas corpus. That fact would not be too unusual except that the writs were directed to (and for) chimpanzees. 

Those writs mean “that you have the body,” a legal term. Any judge that issues such a writ would essentially be in agreement that the animals could challenge the legality of their “imprisonment,” similar to what human prisoners routinely do within the legal system. Such a writ would also acknowledge that chimps are not “things” but are instead “legal persons with a right to bodily liberty.”

Believe it or not there are a lot of people who believe that chimps and many other species of animals should have legal rights. The people at the Nonhuman Rights Project (I believe) honestly want caged animals set free. But then again, there are many others that feel no humans should own any pets, or wear any fur, or go hunting or fishing or trapping. And most of those people live in urban or suburban areas.

Fortunately the Appeals Court was unpersuaded by the arguments. “The asserted cognitive and linguistic capabilities of chimpanzees do not translate to a chimpanzee’s capacity or ability, like humans, to bear legal duties, or to be held legally accountable for their actions.” 

Ah, at last some sanity. But for how long?

Now if the NY Court of Appeals would only reject the NY SAFE Act of 2013 for the catastrophe that it has been from its nefarious inception ...

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet  .net.