December 24th, 2014
Christmas Eve. I am sicker than a dog! Everyone in the family has the flu. I am in an irritable mood, my mind far far far away from the joyous holidays. I have not gone fishing since December 6th. Over two weeks! It would be another 2 weeks or more before I feel well enough to go out fishing again.
What is an angling addict to do? During the days of wandering aimlessly around my garage looking at fishing gear, I realize I had mice. Didn’t seem to be an infestation but you can’t have mice just running amok in your garage. After a brief consultation with the boss, I am told to evict them. “Evict”? Not “terminate”?
“If you didn’’t want mice in the garage, you should keep your fishing gear more organized.” the boss says. Well that’s true so off I go to set non-lethal traps. Since I am sick and bored, I decide rather than order traps, I would make a few and see if they would work.
Though I love to fish, I have never been much into hunting or trapping. Or rather I just haven’t had the time outside of fishing to pursue other outdoor hobbies. Can an avid angler take his expertise and use it for other purposes? Was my “fishing knowledge” a positive or negative when it came to catching these mice.
Here’s my month long saga and how my angling habits both helped and hindered my effort.
Dec 31, 2014
The first trap is set. A simple cardboard box, with a hole cut out of it. Laid a piece of tissue paper over the hole with a bit of peanut butter on it. These are mice, how hard can this be? Well not too hard I thought as I watched a mouse fall into the box on video within hours of setting it. Run out to the garage to check. No Mouse. WHAT?!?! I later learn that mice can jump over ten times their body height.
12 second video:
My Fishing Lesson: Do some research prior. No sense going pike fishing without a wire leader only to hook a fish of a lifetime on your first cast and promptly lose it.
January 1, 2015
I realize that the box trick isn’t going to work. So as typical when I get stuck on something...I ask for help. I have very few friends outside of fishing, so off I go to one of my trusted kayak forums for help. Much like with fishing questions, the suggestions vary widely. All good well intended advice.
I don’t want to make a dozen different styles, so like when I go fishing, I look at the suggestions. Are they applicable? Are they based on the posters personal experience or is it second hand advice? One forum member suggests modifying a container and using a mousetrap as the spring loaded door to trap them inside. He had apparently captured a snake years ago and that s how he captured field mice to feed them.
5 second video:
My Fishing Lesson: Learn to take in ALL information. Most of it isn’t going to be “right or wrong.” Learn to filter the info and apply it to your specific situation. You may absolutely know that a person is lying to you. That is fine. He didn’t have to give any information. Now consider why he lied? The point here is ALL information is useful, but you are responsible for filtering and choosing the path you go down.
I am terrible at building things. But my effort seems like a pretty good first effort and it was fun. But the trigger mechanism is pretty tricky. I am actually impressed with how well the triggers are engineered and how close the tolerances for placement of the wire and associated staples.
My Fishing Lesson: You can buy premade lures and equipment. It is a lot more fun and satisfying to use and succeed in catching fish with something you made yourself. BUT understand that the popular commercial brands have likely gone through the test of time and more minor things than you might think have been tweaked for better performance.
January 2, 2015
Trap is set but no love. I see mice in the area but the trap is failing to catch them. At first I thought maybe they weren’t eating the bait. Hmm….I need to learn more about these mice.
My solution: Go buy a couple and observe them.
My Fishing Lesson: It is critical to understand the behaviour of the prey.
I am getting hits on the camera but something isn’t right. I see glimpses on the edges above the bait on the rack. I figure they have to come to the bait at some point and time. But they never do. Hmm…..
Decide to switch levels and replace multiple style traps and focus on one trap in the right place.
32 second video:
My Fishing Lesson: It may feel right but you still aren’t catching, but if the direct evidence is telling you something different, ya gotta change things up. Also a focused approach always seems to do better than a shotgun approach...unless you are hunting ducks.
January 4, 2015
After reviewing multiple camera hits, I realize the mice are not triggering the trap despite entering. Still I get lucky and the first P.O.W. is caught!
I make a few modifications. Lighten the trigger wire. Lengthen the “trigger plate” by putting bait on the end of a wooden popsicle stick.
My Fishing Lesson: Small modifications such as sharpening your hook so less effort is required to set the hook plus or trailing the second hook farther than you normally would to catch thee short strikers can seriously up your percentage of hook ups.
January 6, 2015
I am KING of the MICE!!! Double success!!! The modification for the traps works successfully and I catch two mice!
Because the boss of the house has declared them to be legitimate enemy combatants in full uniform, I am told I must abide by the Geneva convention and house and feed them properly.
So now, I am housing three enemy combatants. Feeding them, giving them water, and even a nice little condo for their comfort.
I have three cute mice safely caught and I waste no time posting my success on facebook. I am now officially the “Master of Mice” and everyone should know! Every fisherman is an expert at one thing: Bragging about their catch!
After bragging about it, as is often the case in fishing, I can’t replicate my success even though I know I have at least one more mouse I keep seeing on the camera. 3 days go by uneventfully.
Still nature is interesting. We all know about the fight or flight response. In this video, the mice gets caught and then freezes for 14 seconds before going berserk. Interesting to see how it just lays so still.
47 second video
My Fishing Lesson: I personally think sharing your success is a good thing in fishing. But the day you get too arrogant or let your guard down, nature has a way of punishing you.
January 9th, 2015
JAILBREAK! WHAT? Are you kidding me? Ungrateful rats! Ok...mice. Friend Dave reminds me all prisoners have the right to attempt an escape according to the Geneva Convention.
I knew the cage wasn’t 100% secure. But they had been in it for several days without chewing on the plastic.
My Fishing Lesson: If your instincts tell you something can go wrong, it probably will. Listen to those warning voices in your head and most importantly take action or prepare to suffer the consequences. For example, secure your stringer. How many times have you looked at your fish stringer and thought “Hmm...I wonder if that will hold?” and then it didn’t! If you say never, you either don’t fish much or you are a liar! hahaha. It’s happened to me at least three times over 40 years.
SANITY! I am out fishing...on real water! I manage a small king making it five consecutive months I have caught a king from my kayak! Yah baby!
My Fishing Lesson: The only truth is fishing is that the “Fish are in the water.” If you aren’t fishing, you have a 100% chance of NOT catching a fish.
After spiking on the day of the jailbreak, the hits on the motion detecting camera fall off to one or two a day. Still I can see them glimpses of them and I know I had missed at least one prior. The discussion center around the question of whether they would leave a hostile environment and the answer was “yes...the cold outside. They aren’t leaving the garage.”
My Fishing Lesson: Instinctive nature of the fish will repeatedly cause fish to come back to similar spots. They may leave the exact area for some time but what made that area good in the first place will make it attractive to other fish and even the old ones I would think. Sometimes ya just got to rest an area.
Jan 15 & 16
My first capture after the jailbreak. Nothing really different. But by watching some of the videos, you could see them getting habituated to the traps and the chum left around the traps. At first they would only look at the chum and take off. Then they would slowly work their way onto and then finally into the trap. The entire process took 2 days.
I seem to get them in a few at a time. They stay away from the traps, and then it seems like when one finally commits, the others are willing to commit as well.
My Fishing Lesson: Fish are a lot like mice. They can learn. But I am going to give mice more credit than most fish. If you hook or disturb a fish they can be caught again. But larger more experienced fish seem to take longer to recover.
It’s the weekend! the weather is good! I am going fishing!!
Unfortunately for the first time in a long time, I get absolutely skunked. One massive P-cod and a one pollock. No strikes that seemed remotely like Kings.
Still I drove the mice with me to release at the first place I saw above freezing. Sorry Homer.
This was going to be my glorious good karma day. I go to dump the mice out and….uhh...maybe one mouse, even then I am not sure. I had the video running and didn’t see anything on the video but caught something out of the corner of my eye.
Roh Roh. Well they aren’t dead so I think I still deserve the good karma. Still, this story is getting old. Time to wrap it up. I think.
So no glory shots of fish or mice. ARGH.
So I think the two mice I took to Homer are out of the house. Maybe not. I continue to get motion hits but the mice are not coming anywhere near the traps. I’ll give it a few more days to see if I can get them habituated to the food again. Still the longer I wait, the greater the possibility of them breeding.
Trying to get good karma isn’t a bad thing. But like any obsession, it’s starting to interfere with my life. Sometimes you just need to make a decision about what’s more important. Unknown benefits like Karma vs known negatives about having cute fuzzy mice running around your garage.
Made a change in trap location. Mice get till the end of the week to get captured alive. Then I am going to consider lethal setups.
My Fishing Lesson: We all have superstitions, some of us may even pray for a strike. But at the end of the day, we need to focus back on to the basics and the science.
Finally got one mouse interested in the trap. But this one must have been caught before. It goes right up to the trigger and then avoids the trigger mechanism. Hmm. Well its starting to gain confidence as nothing happens and it pilfers the few sunflower seeds I left out. I think this one will get caught but it just needs time.
So with new intel, I better modify the trap. Need to have it trigger while it’s on the plate. I’ll need to think about this.
I also bought two commercial live traps. The design is pretty slick and super simple. My one concern is I don’t think these mice are too keen on “entering” anything. Video continues to show them hop on to the trap but not enter it. They know something is wrong.
This story is getting old. Not sure there is much more benefit from my fishing perspective. Lethal traps are waiting. I have the feeling they are going to be more effective. C’mon Karma, if you care for the mice at all, better convince them to jump into the live traps!
So now I am running two home made live traps similar to the ones shown above and one "stick" trap that is alive method.. I have two store bought traps raising my live traps to 5. Once I lay down the lethal traps, it will be interesting to see how effective they are relative to the live traps.
After watching mice for a 4 days with no success, it's time to say goodbye. If the tenant won't leave peacefully through live traps, then it time to go lethal. I place four lethal traps and over the course of 36 hours, manage three lethal kills.
I caught on video my first lethal kill. Didn't make me feel very good as it didn't seem to die right away. That bummed me out. I was seriously rethinking the lethal kills. Then I proceeded to watch the videos after the capture and realized I was MUCH more concerned about the lethal kill than the other mice. The dead mice's comrades were simply ignoring the dead mice. No fear but no care either. Just crawl around the dead mice like it was in the way. Funny how perspective changes things.
So I have come to realization that these mice are truly vermin that just happen to look cute. They have to go.
So today, One month and one day after this saga began, I will end my story. Or at least this chapter of the story.
Battle between mice and men will continue for the rest of history. I have been impressed with the mice's wariness and intelligence. Their ability to avoid capture is really impressive. They will be around longer than mankind will.
Still it was a lot of fun to try and craft methods that would outsmart nature. I guess at the end of the day that is what we anglers strive to do every time we are out.
I think the lesson I learned that I would leave everyone with is "HOPE is an overused and underperforming strategy for success." Make something happen. Get more info and change something up.