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Joined: Apr 2002
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Editor, Pond Boss Magazine
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Greetings, Pond Boss fans! As usual, it seems we're busier than we should be! But, I wouldn't have it any other way. As you may have read in another thread, the Queen and I took a drive to South Dakota.
Here's a pretty cute story. Last time I wrote this blog, I was in a hotel in College Station, Texas.
On Friday night, November 5, at dinner, I bit into a hunk of fantastic red meat...and broke a corner off a molar. No big deal. It was distracting, but no big deal. Later that evening, after we left our third stop...the Dixie Chicken (a famous College Station haunt), it was about 10 pm and that dang tooth was distracting even more. So, I did what any logical Pond Boss would do. I tapped into the Pond Boss network of best friends and made a call. You see, when I got home on Sunday afternoon, Debbie and I were immediately headed to South Dakota to give a speech to the AFS Chapter and others at South Dakota State University. The speech was scheduled for 6:30 on Monday, the 8th. That meant we would leave...and drive 840 miles from Sunday afternoon and arrive by 5ish on Monday.
So, at 10 pm on Friday night, I called Dr. Bruce Condello in Lincoln, Nebraska and asked him the odds of repairing a broken tooth on Monday morning around 9:30. He immediately responded, "100%!" Holy Cow! By 11 Monday, the Queen and I were back on the road, headed to South Dakota...and giving a speech at 6:30. Condello had done his dental magic and the tooth was way better than before.



The next day, Peter and Cindy Maffei, long time Pond Boss subscribers, hosted us for a fantastic day of pheasant hunting and good food.

Debbie and I climbed in with Dr. Dave Willis and Lily, his setter. Lily was in the kennel, but her heart was already afield.

We had a great day! Peter has done a fantastic job managing his 160 acres of perfect pheasant habitat. He's surrounded by corn fields and a stream/wetland gently strolls through the middle of his land. With serpentine shaped food plots and well managed native grasses...and virtually no hunting...wild birds have a chance to survive...and thrive.



Dr.Brian Graeb, fisheries professor, with Lady, Sauger, Yours truly, Lily and Dr. Willis and our quarry of the day. It was truly a memorable day...all of it.



Two of the birds were worthy of mounting, so the next day, Dave and I headed to a local taxidermist. As we left the shop, here's what we saw. That may be as close to the pot of gold I'll ever be.

Dave and I hopped in the truck that morning and tried our luck on public land. Lots of birds...but they were way smarter than this Texan.

That evening, Dr. Willis invited us to dinner. Dave Willis and his bride, Susie, were our hosts. Susie is 2nd from left. That's Debbie on the left. Also attending were Dr. & Mrs. Mike Brown, Dr. & Mrs. Brian Graeb and Peter and Cindy Maffei.



We were in Brookings until Thursday morning. Late on Wednesday, Debbie said, "Honey, I've never seen the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore...or any of that. Let's go." I bristled a little bit because she said it so fast that it sounded easy. She had no idea how far it was. But, I'm a sucker for her wishes and after I thought about it for a minute (or two), I agreed. It was 420 miles due west.

I kinda-sorta wanted to leave early. Not. So, we leisurely woke up...at least one of us did...we loaded, bid farewell to our hosts and headed due west. Saw some pretty cool things as we wound through the countryside.



We were clipping along a state highway about 65, topped a hill and saw this. A cattle drive. We stopped and gave them plenty of room. Pretty cool.



We hit the Interstate for a while and then went off for the circle through the Badlands. Rugged beauty.



Saw this herd of deer, about 30 yards off the highway.

After that, we made our way to the world famous Wall Drug. It was worth the stop.



With lots of miles behind us, we got to witness this beautiful sunset as the Black Hills loomed.


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Susie had booked into the The Game Lodge in Custer State Park. We arrived well after dark, but before closing time of the restaurant. Our timing was pretty good. We were the only ones in the restaurant, since this was the end of their season. We ordered some wine, looked over the menu and then another couple were seated next to us. If you've ever been around the Queen, you know what happened next. She struck up a conversation with these good folks from Pierre, SD and soon they had joined us for dinner. We had a great conversation, shared good stories and new friends. The food was outstanding. We retired for the night, but I needed to be up early, to call in to the Alan Warren radio show. Alan wanted to tape this version of the show and I needed to call in about 7. Well...no cell service, so I climbed into the car at 6:40 and started driving uphill. It wasn't quite daylight and I saw more wild game on that winding drive than I've seen in quite some time. I finally found a cell, made the call and we did the radio show. (If you want to listen in, go to www.woai.com on Saturday mornings, 5-7 cst). I'm a guest usually for one segment, at least. It's really fun.



I saw this young buck on the way back to the lodge.



If I saw one flock of wild turkeys, I saw at least 15.



As I made the last circle to the lodge, I saw movement to the right. Bighorn Sheep were coming down the mountain. I pulled over and got this photo. These creatures are definitely used to vehicles.

Oh, another cool story. One of my clients (and friend), Lee Roy Mitchell, had forwarded an email to me a few days earlier. Seems actor Judge Reinhold is planning to do a movie about bass fishing. Lee Roy thought I might be of some help, so he forwarded an email from Judge. I responded to it and, pretty soon, Judge and I were talking on the phone. He sent me a copy of the script and I brought it along on this trip. For some reason, I woke up about 5 a.m., went to the great room of the lodge and read the entire script before I headed up the mountain to call into the radio show. I have a cool life.

I got back into the room about 8 a.m. and Debbie was starting to stir. I made her some coffee and then looked out the window of our room. The bighorns had made their way into the yard. Here's what I saw out the window.



We had breakfast at the lodge restaurant, then decided to take the drive around the wildlife loop. Here's what we saw inside Custer State Park.











We savored each moment. Debbie wanted to hike in the mountains a little bit. The temp in the morning was 14, but by noon it was pushing 50.

Then, we headed to the town of Custer, shopped and enjoyed local fare before heading to Mt. Rushmore.


Teach a man to grow fish...
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We made it to Mt. Rushmore about an hour before dark. These pictures tell the best story.













As we left, there was a herd of mountain goats in the median next to the parking garage.

We headed south and made it to a Holiday Inn Express in western Nebraska. The next day, with six inches of snow on the ground, we headed south and east, into Kansas. Beautiful country, plains, farmland, the heart of the country. We made it home late Sunday.


Teach a man to grow fish...
He can teach to catch fish...
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We probably should talk about fisheries stuff, too.

It's been a wonderful fall, too.

We've done several fisheries surveys.



This was pretty interesting lake. Northeast Texas, overcrowded bass, but some of the best looking crappie and bluegill I've seen. This lake has probably been overcrowded with bass for several years. These are the consequences of that situation.



The bluegill on the left is a native female, the one farthest right is a coppernose.



Then, we did Dennis' Rodgers' lake. He and his boys had never seen anything like it.



This week, Chad and Josh electrofished former NFL player John Teltschik's(r) lake near Tioga, Texas.

Yesterday, I met up with Dave Davidson (DD1) and we spent the day making customer calls. I didn't even think about photos...my apologies.

Thursday, Bruce Condello confirmed he and his dad were headed to the Nebraska vs. OU Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington. I invited them to stay with me. They arrived yesterday, fished for a while and we had a great meal...ribeye's on the grill...last night. Debbie's big dog, Dakota, ran off with and chewed the top off Bruce's dad's muck boot and then a plank broke off a small dock and Bruce made his way into one of my ponds, up to his waist. He said it wasn't cold. Now, they're at Jerry Jones Stadium. They made the trip here without tickets to the game. I just texted him, they found two on the 8th row. Those boys.



Bruce enjoying his breakfast tacos with a little fork with a bass handle. Remind me, I'll tell you the fork story some day.



Just for fun, the Condello pose with a bass fork.

That brings us up to date.

Fish on!


Teach a man to grow fish...
He can teach to catch fish...

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