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Catfisher’s Prayer Book | of kings and gods

I had a dream. Whether it was the bass or bluegill or channel catfish or the hot sauce or the ketchup or the mustard or the trail mix or the bitter salad, I cannot tell, but I had dream.

I was a god, like Thor. I waged war with other gods against other gods. I took a wife. Her skin would change from light to dark depending on her season in life. We loved and made love.

At some point we came to earth and lived. As long as we lived on earth we never aged. On our own world I had developed a brain tumor. On earth it had gone away.

My time on earth I learned of a sect of people called Christians and the God they worshiped. I told my wife of the Christians and their belief and asked her about our own ancient writings. She knew them for she was made to study them when she was young.

Upon having scribes investigate the ancient writings, I realized the God whom the Christians worshiped was also the God who made us: the gods. We had worshiped ourselves, built halls and temples and systems unto ourselves.

Upon returning to my world, my kingdom had begun to deteriorate. Infighting in our halls threatened to tear the kingdom apart. In a meeting of the gods, tempers flared, each wanting his own way. I screamed until the plaster and pillars cracked. They quieted. A lone voice among the gods spoke honestly toward all happenings, and I knew the God of the Christians was the true, living God.

To the kings and gods of the earth, listen.

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Uncle John’s Pirogue Kit and Plan Review

Uncle John's Cajun Pirogue

Uncle John's Cajun PirogueDad died in October 2007. Shortly before his death I wanted to spend more time with the old man. He wasn’t sick or anything. It was life. Things get busy and we neglect our loved ones.

He spent most of the last 20 years of his life building a nice woodworking shop. Building a canoe or some kind of small boat with the tools he had collected would have been a great way to spend time, but how do you build a canoe?

I found a Web site called Uncle John’s General Store. The Louisiana-based company sells plans and kits for building skiffs, jon boats and pirogues. I had never heard of a pirogue. It’s sort of a swamp canoe/kayak, flat bottomed with little freeboard. Perfect for swamps and small waters.

I ordered a set of plans and a kit containing the support ribs and stems already cut, beveled and milled, a nice piece of kit. Unfortunately dad died a week after I received the kit. He died doing the thing he loved: fishing.

Pirogue Butt Block JointBuild Process

Although a big blow personally, it proved advantageous professionally. For the first time I had to do something on my own without dad’s help, a rite of passage. Dad left all his tools to me. He didn’t want mom to get rid of them. It was time to use them.

While the kit supplied the difficult-to-make components, you had to supply your own plywood, epoxy and fiberglass tape/cloth. The design was composite: wood for the shape, fiberglass and epoxy for strength, although plywood is strong in an of itself.

Composite designs give the builders many options: minimal fiberglass and epoxy to keep costs down or encase the entire boat in fiberglass and epoxy to last 100 years or more.

I compromised: covered the outside in fiberglass and epoxy, only coated the inside with reinforcing strips of fiberglass and epoxy.

The plans don’t require lofting: a long process by which you draw full-scale parts from a system of coordinates. Two 45 degree cuts for the stems, cuts to the width of the side panels, and cut the bottom to shape was all. The most difficult part was scarfing the joints. This pirogue ended up 15 feet 11 inches long. Well, plywood only comes in eight foot sheets. You have to connect them somehow.

Scarfing involves sanding or cutting the edge of the plywood at a long, shallow angle so the pieces fit together flush. This makes two pieces into one. The joint becomes stronger than the wood.

Once scarfed and cut to length, you connect the side panels to the stems in the kit. This point requires a little help from friends and family. Plywood doesn’t want to bend much, yet this boat has a good bit of flare. Flare is the banana-like shape given to many boats. It helps them turn easier on the water, more maneuverable.

Once the stems are in place, be careful because the boat is fragile at this point. It’s best to build a set of low-boy saw horses to make work easier.

Once set on the low-boys, place the ribs and temporarily screw them in place. Once set secure these with a mixture of epoxy and wood flour. After curing you can either remove the temporary screws or leave them in. I recommend leaving them. If the epoxied joint fails the screws will hold.

The bottom: The 16 foot scarfed sheet of plywood is placed on the boat’s bottom and cut to shape then secured to the bottom of the boat like the support ribs.

Fiberglassing the outside of the boat comes next, then the inside after that. Cheap exterior house paint works best. You can get any color and draw any shape or pattern you like. Duck hunters can use these as hunting blinds, painting them camouflage.

Uncle John's Pirogue | Painting


Value-for-Price | 5 stars
Epoxy and wood prices have risen. The great thing is you don’t have to use marine grade plywood. 5mm lauan from Lowes or Home Depot works! I used 1/4 inch B/C grade plywood from Marvin’s Building Materials. Buy economy-grade epoxy to help save.

Reliability | 5 stars
The design is a simple design meant for small waters and swamps. This is not an open water or river rapid craft. I had the boat out on a windy day with lots of current, boat traffic and waves. Once I got back to the boat dock I had not realized how much water I had taken on. Be safe and don’t go out in elements beyond the capabilities of the boat.

The flat-bottom design means it has good initial stability, but is hard to stand up in. Again flat-bottomed boat are easy to build.

Quality | 4.75 stars
The kit had milled parts with a smooth, clean surface. The design itself is easy to put together, but most days I could not stay in the boat more than two hours as my hip and back would pain and the groin would go numb. This is not a flaw of the design.

The plans were easy to read and understand. I would advise you to buy a boat building for beginners book or talk join their forums because certain things cannot be covered in concise instructions. Sometimes it’s better to learn from people who have done it.

Referability | 5 stars
Anyone building a boat for the first time without having a degree in naval architecture, this is a good way to go.

Good times, tight lines!



P.S., Visit Uncle John’s General Store.

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SHOUT! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine featured an article of mine!

Bucket of Bobbers: long and short stemsI wrote an article for SHOUT Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine titled “Old Becomes New.” You’ve seen my fishing floats. They look old, like something from yesteryear, yet they function as something new, a simple, elegant design reminiscent of childhood times on the river with your dad, uncle or old friends. The theme for the March/April edition of SHOUT! is old things becoming new. Check it out.

Special thanks to Matt Evans who gave me a chance to write for SHOUT! and to Brad Bloom for producing such a great magazine that combines Christian faith with outdoor lifestyle. Some people think Christians can’t have fun, but true fun is in seeking beauty, and the ultimate beauty is of God.

Of course thanks to Jesus Christ who came to earth, was tortured and died an unjust death, buried in a rich man’s tomb, and after three days rose again to bring new life to an unjust people. Anyone who is willing to trust Him will live.

Good times, tight lines!


P.S., Here’s the link:

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Three Places to Find Bait When You Can’t Find Shad

Catfish Pudding | Homemade Punch BaitIn catfish angling finding bait is everything. Sometimes shad are hard to come by. Here are three ideas to help you plan for the “inevitable.”

Choose Another Bait Fish

Bream, perch, suckers, carp or anything that can be use as bait, find and use those sources instead. Bream, bluegill, sunfish and shellcrackers are a easy to catch on my home waters. If you live where Asian carp have taken over, use them. A lot of people use skipjack as primary blue catfish bait. They’ll use shad as a secondary. If skipjack is your primary, replace shad with skipjack.

Be sure to obey whatever laws your department of conversation and natural resources have laid down.

Look in Your Freezer

Two principles of conversation: Use less than you have, always acquire more. When shad is plentiful, and you have far more than you need, take some of these and cure them in pickling salts. Put them in the freezer for future use during times when shad are hard to come by.

Fresh is better, but frozen it better than nothing.

Use Fish Oil from a Trapping Supply Company

In addition to pickling salts mentioned above. Consider buying a gallon of fish oil from a trapping supply company. Catfish love oils. If you have to use frozen bait, dip them in fish oil before casting out. Carp fishermen would call this a glug or dipping sauce. I plan to use it extensively for channel catfish this year as an edition to my paste bait. I’ll let you know more about this method as time goes on.

If you’re looking for a good book of catching shad, I bought Chad Ferguson’s “Catching Shad” e-book. I don’t receive kick backs, affiliate commissions or anything of the kind for mentioning it here. I’m trying to put together a top ten catfish book blog post, and most any category of catfish angling Chad’s e-books come up top. I bought and read this book about last year this time.

Good times, tight lines


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From “The Catfisher’s Prayer Book:” Ingenuity’s Plea

If I had a daughter her name would be Dorian or Ingenuity. Dorian from its musicological perspective is an interesting name, but Ingenuity personified is like Solomon’s personified Wisdom.

Here’s what I mean: Note the picture of the Red Swamp Crawfish in the link: Red Swamp Crawfish from Wikipedia.

Sipsey Claw Craw | Poly Dodger

Note the homemade crawfish pattern in the attached photo. The photo was tied on my fly-tying vise the previous evening. Ingenuity?

Thinking of next season’s fishing, I’ve decided to go with more tried-and-true methods. A tournament bass fisherman once told me that the Black Warrior River is great for spotted bass. I’ve caught several spotted bass in those waters trolling/dragging artificial lures behind the boat.

Spotted bass are much like smallmouth bass, and smallmouth bass love eating crawfish.

Back to the fly-tying vise. Normally I find patterns and recipes for such lures by searching online, but this time Ingenuity whispered.

“Do your own thing.”

It was so tempting to find a list of instructions, some YouTube video, blog post, or some set of plans that would tell me everything to do. No.

“You can do it. Study. Learn. Create.”

Ah, from the mouths of babes! I really believe that in every daughter is the potential to become the queen mother.

The Alabama Department of Conservation has an incredibly detailed log of animal species living in our waters. The red swap crawfish prevails in the Black Warrior. The river bottom above downtown Tuscaloosa is rocky because it is the true beginning of the Appalachian Mountain chain. Crawfish love rocks.

The picture above and fly-tying technique guide were the only references used in making the fly. For two days I observed the photo, noting its color and body shape, its coffee brown body, auburn legs, red polka-dotted pincers, eyes, tentacles and tail.

I bought no new materials, used only what was on hand. Yard for a body, bead chain for eyes, silicon legging for the legs, and brown black widow flash for pincers and tail.

Not to bore you to death, but you see the end result. A great relief and modest smile crept onto my face once finished.

Ingenuity was right. She is Wisdom’s hand-maid. When Wisdom’s house is cluttered, Ingenuity straightens it. She knows how to make more than what she has been given.

She creates. She thinks. She overcomes. She makes problems flee. All those who see her know that she is adorned in sapphire lace. She is strength to a solider and help to the helpless. She brings astronauts back from disaster, and she guides crippled planes to a soft landing on a river.

None is adorned like her. Even Wisdom admires her beauty.

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Hot Rod Your Mud Motor In Stages

Hot Rod Your Mud Motor e-Course

Hot Rod Your Mud Motor e-CourseOh, I just figured out how to give Darth Predt more power without him totally disintegrating. (Darth Predt is my SPS longtail for those of you who don’t know.) It’s the old stage system. In auto racing drivers and builders refer to a system of escalating stages for any motor build.

Here’s how it works. You buy a basic engine like a 212cc, 6.5 hp Predator, then follow this sequence:

Stage 0

  • Engine acquisition
  • Engine break-in with cheap oil
  • First oil change replace cheap oil with high-end synthetic oil
  • Zero modifications

Stage 1

  • cheap or easy modifications without modifying the motor’s interior components
  • this leads to significant increases in power because you remove the EPA’s restrictive exterior system components
  • add performance intake and exhaust
  • jet the carburetor
  • more power virtually no loss in reliability

Stage 2

  • more expensive or more difficult modifications without modifying the motor’s interior components.
  • billeted fly wheel
  • advanced timing key
  • stiffer springs
  • performance carburetor
  • even more power with little loss in reliability

Stage 3

  • cost effective but more difficult modifications made to the interior engine components
  • camshaft
  • governor removal
  • billet rod
  • high RPM
  • good balance between high power and engine reliability

Stage 4

  • all out, Mad Max, Evel Knievel mods of epic doom
  • high compression cylinder head
  • big carburetor
  • high lift rocker arms
  • lightweight push rods
  • crankshafts
  • basically a total rebuild from the bottom up with all racing grade components.
  • a custom build for a specific application. high torque vs high RPM.
  • most power output, least reliability: get ready to build a new motor after about five trips.

Keep in mind each stage builds off the previous stage.

If you want to know how to build and hot rod mud motors kind these, consider the free Hot Rod Your Mud Motor eCourse.