Unexpected crappie catch from Hills Creek Reservoir

You have probably noticed I fish this lake often for a quick limit of trout. It is heavily stocked and most days the trout will bite nearly anything that is thrown in front of them. Which also makes it easy if you want to experiment with different trolling presentations and are not sure how they would work. As always when I go I bring a trolling pole and my normal trout gear. But this time just on a whim I tossed in some panfish gear I got in a mystery tackle box. I figured that hatchery fish eat anything and panfish gear was no exception. That and trout are fun on ultralight gear.

a bit of wind and a downpour greeted us. 5 minutes after launching it was nearly impossible to see down this section.

Normally When I am up here fishing I follow the old channel of the river since that is the coolest area and the trout tend to be a down about 20+ feet this time of year. Year ago when fishing with my grandfather I remember him talking about when he would troll and circle across the shallower side of the lake he would catch the occasional crappie on his trout gear. Since I brought the ultralight gear (Okuma Celio ultralight trout pole) I put on an underspin jig head and a small curly tail grub. I have not fished for crappie in a long time, and it has been over 20 years since I caught one over 8 inches.

I wasn’t sure about the pink but it proved to be effective

Within 5 minutes of cutting over to the other side I caught a smallish 8″ crappie on the jig. Since it was big enought to eat I kept it and continued trolling. within another 5 minutes I had another bite and had something way bigger on. Since I normally just catch trout I expected a holdover stocker trout. But it was a big 14″ crappie. This ended up being the largest of the trip and at just over a pound by far my personal best. The last largish one I caught was maybe 10 inches and that was when I was a teenager in the 90’s (yes I am old). The fish finder showed several schools in the area so I continued and just kept circling the area for them. Between the grub and a sixth sense crank bait I ended up with over 20 crappie total. Of those 6 of them were over 12″ and I lost several others that were the same size.

First three of the day.

Kept six of them for dinner. Total wight of the 6 fish was 6.76 pounds

Over all even with all the rain and wind it ended up being a very good day on the water. Didn’t catch a single trout but I did lose a bass that was about the same size as the crappie. catching these makes me want to try for more and to see how big of crappie I can find there. I have heard that Lookout point has had some caught up to 16 inches. With a state record of over 4 pounds for a white crappie that would be a fun fish to catch. Hard to imagine one that big though.

Practiced my fillet skills. I am very out of practice and need to catch more crappie, bluegill or bass to practice on.

Gear used in today’s trip:

Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

After the first test run using the motor there were several things that needed to be fixed to make it easier to use.

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • Adding a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling.
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box to see how much power is left in the battery
  • At full speed the motor wanted to shift in the cassette and would have to be held to keep it from angling.
  • Removing the motor from the cassette hole is very difficult if the blade is not straight up and down.

The first thing I adjusted was to make sure the motor is facing the correct way for how the cassette fits into the mirage drive hole and then sealing the top and bottom of where the drive post goes into the cassette with waterproof epoxy. This fixes two of the issues I was having. It prevents some of the kick up of the motor when started, and will keep the motor from shifting sideways at higher speeds.

Top section sealed with Epoxy.
And the bottom sealed up

One thing that I saw other people had issues with is the cassette vibrating and making a bit of noise. I did not notice that to much, but as a preventative I filled the cassette with waterproof expanding foam. This also adds some rigidity to the cassette since it is not very thick plastic. Make sure that the foam you get is outdoor spray foam. The indoor variety tends to break down quickly when exposed to the elements. Once the foam has been added and dried cap the hole with some silicone or epoxy so water cannot enter

A small hole drilled into both sides of the cassette to put the straw from the can of spray into.

And now for the control panel. I did not get any pictures of the build but the box is clear and you can see all the connections. I used a sealed Pelican box to hold the controller so that the electronics parts wouldn’t get wet. To keep it sealed I drilled holes in the sides and put a bolt facing out and then used a wing nut to hold it on with a drop of sealant on the bolt head to keep it sealed. One side the clamps from the motor can go on and on the other side O-clamps for wire terminals that the wingnut holds in place. Once turned on the speed can be adjusted by the just turning the nob up or down

I also added a volt meter just so I could do a quick look to see how the charge is

Now to take it on a test drive to see if there is any other tweaks needed. And maybe a video of the next test run.

Converting a watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak

Lately as I get older it has been a bit more difficult for me to always use the hobie mirage drive for all day. Finishing a day of trolling, and barely being able to walk due to back pain is a bit discouraging. So after some searching I found a build to convert a Watersnake 18 lb motor into a trolling motor that fits into a hobie mirage slot on the kayak. This build looks like it will work on any size of watersnake. But really I cant see the need for a bigger thrust then I currently have. Now for some long ocean trips maybe to deal with the current.

Things needed to do the conversion with link if you need them

Watersnake all ready to start the conversion. Total weight at start is just 8 lbs
First step as with most things is to remove screws. There are 4 screws that hold the top to the bottom part of the control panel
Before removing any wires make sure you take a picture of how it looks. This makes it a lot easier to reassemble after you shorten the shaft. There are only three wires that have to be removed. All three lead into the shaft so it is easy to tell which three they are
After removing the controller from the top you will need to insert a small PVC pipe into the shaft. These will keep you from accidentally cutting the wires as you shorten the shaft.
Before cutting the shaft you will need to get the the cassette plug set up to insert the shaft into it. The easiest way is to use a 1″ spade bit. A hole needs to be made on each side of the cassette so the motor shaft can fit into it.
Once the cassette is seated onto the shaft use a piece of tape to mark where you will cut it off. I put the cassette just above the blades of the motor and then added about 5 inches above to where I cut it off. This is right at 10″ cut off. Do not discard the top. You will need it as a template to cut out guides into the new shortened shaft.
Once the shaft is cut off you will need to cut out the gap and the hole through to reattach the controller. Once you have it cut out reassemble everything.
Once everything is assembled you are ready to go

Once you are done the set up is ready to go as is. There are several other adaptions that are useful in the long run while using this set up. At this stage you are limited to only the two speeds that are set up on the motor. high and just slightly less then high. Good for going from place to place but way to fast for trolling. At least for my trolling.

Some things to note from my first test run:

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • I added a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling. (worked perfect for this)
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box.
  • 21AH battery lasted just over 4 hours of trolling. A 2nd battery will probably be needed at some point.

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Since there were some tweaks needed I made a part 2 to better stabilize it. Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

Birthday Kayak trip to Hills Creek in late fall

Late fall lake fishing in Oregon can be a lot of hit or miss. When the storms roll through it can make for some high waves and a very difficult time controlling a kayak. We started out the day thinking we might be able to catch some walleye or something else in Lookout point reservoir. Even with our early start there was already some chop on the water, and as comfortable as I am in the kayak I am leary of trying to fish that lake with even a chance of wind. Lookout point is 12 miles long down a valley. I have kayaked it in the summer and it went from flat calm to white capped waves in 30 minutes.

Video fishing. I wish I had these when I was younger fishing in Alaska

Instead of taking a chance on the lake birthday boy Jeremy and I decided to hit our standby of Hills Creek. We do fish it a lot, but it is close and nearly always provides some fish for us to catch. It seems in recent years that the average fish size has increased in the lake. Or we are just getting much better at catching the bigger fish ( I like the 2nd answer myself)

Started out with drizzle but became a beautiful day

Today’s water was around 55 degrees for this late November trip. Not as cold as it will get but still cold enough I decided to wear my dry suit. Early in fall I was not paying attention and leaned over the edge to grab a floating cap and flipped my kayak. I can go out in two foot waves and heavy wind with no issues. But a glass calm lake and not even moving and I flipped. At least it had been warm still then.

For this trip I branched out and decided to try something other then my normal gear. 90% of the time I use a dodger with a Brad’s cut plug or troll a rainbow colored rapala. Both of those are highly effective in nearly every body of water I have fished. Except Odell lake, for some reason nothing hits a cut plug there. Well a mackinaw might but I haven’t trolled for them with a cut plug. That is part of next years fishing goal. Anyway back to the gear. instead of the cut plug I used a pink and silver wedding ring with a smile blade on it. It didn’t have quite enough weight to get down more then a foot until I added a quarter ounce weight to it. This was a highly effective setup! 10+ fish and nothing smaller then 12 inches. The only thing I caught on my rapala on the 2nd pole ended up being just a single landlocked Chinook. It was easily over 12 inches and a great fighter.

I realized I need to take more pictures for all of you to enjoy. But if you want to watch the video of the day please check out below.

Fall fishing Lookout Point Reservoir

When I was a youngster, many years ago. Lookout point reservoir was known only as a place to fish for trash fish. It wasn’t stocked with anything and the northern pikeminnows had pretty much out competed every other fish. You would catch an occasional trout, but for the most part suckers and pikeminnows were all. And then came the illegal stocking of warm water species into this reservoir. It is now one of those lakes that if it lives anywhere in Oregon then you can probably catch it if you learn the lake and where to target them.

For our fall trip down to the lake, we are trying to catch for us the elusive Walleye. Several years ago ODFW did a study in the lake to the percentage of predator species, and how they are distributed in the lake. I was able to get ahold of one of the biologists that were a part of the study and when they did the trapping for them they found several Walleye over 24″ in length. This was nearly a decade ago study so she believed that some of them could be pushing up to 30″ now. Neither Jeremy or I have ever caught a walleye so this would be a great catch to add to our bucket list of fish. Walleye are limited in Oregon to the Columbia river, small stretches of the Willamette river and now Lookout point.

One thing I have noticed in the last five years is the reduction in pikeminnow in the lake. Years ago when we trolled we would catch 5 pikeminnow to 1 of any other species. Now I rarely catch any at all.

Finding a place to walk down to the water is always a challenge since the lake is so steep. But we were able to find a place we could walk down and fish along the edge. A storm was coming in so our fishing time was limited before the heavy rain and wind hit. Third cast once we made it to the water my shad rap was hammered by a very nice sized Small mouth bass. Before this fish I actually didn’t know there was small mouth in the lake and thought the bass were limited to the large mouth variety.

First nice smallmouth bass I have caught this year

As with most reservoirs in the area there is also tons of stumps everywhere. After a near loss of the crankbait I swapped over to a finesse jig to try nearer the stumps. I will say now that I am not a bass fisherman. Or really much of a fisherman for anything other then trout and salmon. But I am trying got change that. Last month I signed up to start getting a monthly bag of bass gear from 6th sense. Using the finesse jig this was my first attempt at using anything other then a worm and bobber for bass. Jigging is a skill I need to work on, but I was able to somehow catch another bass near a stump using the jig. If you watch my video you can tell I am a bit excited about catching my first bass on a finesse jig

My first bass ever caught on a finesse jig from 6th sense.

With the short amount of time we had before the weather turned and we had to pack it up we caught three nice smallmouth bass and lost a couple of others. And of course lost several lures to the stumps. No Walleye on this trip but that just means we will need to go back and try again at some point. As windy as this lake gets it is hard to fish from our preferred choice of a kayak. But we will someday catch one even if it is tiny.

For more fishing or hiking in the area please check out these books

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Compact DIY Emergency fishing kit

No one can predict when an emergency will happen. It can be anything from as simple as having your vehicle break down, to a natural disaster that effects the entire area you are living in. One thing that is good to keep in a vehicle just for an emergency is a small kit filled with basic fishing supplies. For this kit I use a small metal altoid can. But any container that is small enough to fit in a glove box will work. The nice thing about these little metal boxes is that they can be used for several purposes once you have removed the fishing supplies. This also makes a great 5 minute craft to put together with children

Simple kit with basics in it. I do recommend more hooks and weights then what is shown in the picture.

Possible list of what you can put into your box:

Still some room that more weight and hooks can be added and a small folding knife

This list is for a very basic kit and can easily be customized to whatever works for you. As you can see from the pictures there is still lots of space inside the tin to add some other things to the kit. One additional thing that would be good to have in this kit is a compact knife. I always carry a belt knife so it is not needed for my kit. this would be very useful for gutting any fish and cutting a pole to use as a fishing rod.

The best way to store the line is to wrap it around the box and then secure it with tape. For this kit I am using 100lb nylon braid. Very strong and can also be used as cordage for any needs.
Wrap multiple layers of tape around the kit to secure the line and also to use in an emergency.

If making your own mini kit is not something you would like to put together then there are several pre-built kits available on Amazon that can be purchased.

This is a good list of books that are fairly compact and can be carried in the glove box or in an emergency bag.

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts (Regional Foraging Series)

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere This is the go to guide for most people looking into survival

And some good survival gear

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

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Hills creek fishing in the slippery mud

Fall fishing in Oregon tends to be either weeks of dry or so wet everything is a slippery mud mess. Today’s fishing trip was one of the later. And I’m sure the slowly lowering water in Hills Creek reservoir was not any help. In the Willamette valley most of the reservoirs are used for winter flood control. I have seen pictures from my grandparents of the yearly flooding in the valley every year before the dam’s were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. All the houses at the time were built up on higher ridges and that were just barely above the floods. Even with the dam’s in place there is still a chance of flooding year to year.

Lots of fish and mud shenanigans
Hills creek reservoir
Muddy and rocky everywhere this time of year. Luckily there are stumps available to stand on to keep from sliding in to the lake.

Today’s trip started out as mostly a mushroom hunting trip since the chanterelles are up. But since we stopped at the reservoir we decided that a few casts would be nice since the rain was holding off some. The forecast was for up to half an inch of rain so we both wore solid rain gear from head to toe. Before we even were able to cast out there were multiple fish jumping out of the water. Just from seeing that we had high hopes of catching something.

Our hopes were realized very quickly. In less then 30 minutes we had caught five fish between us. Blue fox and my generic jointed jerkbait were the ticket for catching them. One planted spring Chinook (only about 10″) and four nice hatchery rainbow trout. Most were a nice 12″ size but one was close to 16″. I am curious to see how well the holdover survival rate for them is going to be this year. Earlier I caught a very large 20″ hatchery rainbow in the same area. This is by far the largest trout I have ever caught in Hills creek. I keep hearing of larger landlocked Chinook or the rare Bull trout that are caught in the reservoir but I have not yet been able to catch one. Both tend to live down deep and the only way to get them is with a downrigger. I do have one that I adapted to use from my kayak but that is something that I really need to practice to be good at it.

Hills creek reservoir Hatchery rainbow trout
Nice hatchery rainbow on one of the first few casts

My last fish of the trip was the largest one of the day at close to 16″ and also one that nearly made me slide into the lake. Once I got the trout out of the water the line to the lure broke and I dropped the fish. The mud there is slippery enough I nearly slid into the water trying to get it. Luckily a stump stopped me before I hit the water. Otherwise I would have slid into water that was easily over my head in depth.

best lures of the day to catch fish:

  • Jerkbait close to what I was using sadly there is no marks on it on who it is made by
  • Jeremy’s favorite panther martin
  • and my normal Mepps aglia size zero. This works everywhere in Oregon for nearly everything. Both the silver and brass colors are equally effective.
  • For any other fishing areas near this please check out the fishing in Oregon book. I am slowly picking places and trying to fish them all.

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com 

Fishing and Hiking McDowell Creek falls

Terrace falls
Terrace falls. There is a path that goes up to the top, and stairs, lots and lots of stairs.

Fall in Oregon is a great time to get out and explore. The places to go is enormous and limited only by your willingness to get out into nature. With the start of some fall rains we decided this weekends adventure should be to a waterfall. Located between Lebanon and Sweet home McDowell falls is close and has multiple falls to explore. This area, due to it’s close proximity to the valley and local towns does get a high amount of traffic. Almost every small stream on the west slope of the cascades has some fish to catch. As is most streams in the area it is catch and release only in McDowell creek and restricted to fly’s and lures. Which is not really much of an issue when it comes to catching fish in these small streams. For more information on streams and lakes please check out the fishing in Oregon book. Lots of information on what lives in each water body.

Directions: From Eugene drive north on I-5 and then take the exit to Hwy. 20 east towards Lebanon. Once you have driven through the town of Lebanon continue 4 miles, and then turn left at the McDowell Creek Park exit. Follow this road for 10 miles then turn right into the parking lot. The parking lot is big enough for about 15 cars and tends to be full on nice days.

This is a very easy hike and the entire loop is almost two miles in length. Dogs are welcome but must stay on a leash. If you hike up the stairs to the top of Terrace falls it does get a bit steep. But there are plenty of spots to stop and rest on the way up.

McDowell Creek County Park map
The head of the trail has a nice map that tells you the different routes and the distance.

The fishing in the stream is actually fairly good. There is very little pressure on the stream, and the native cutthroats are feisty. During summer amid the low water flow most of the fish can only be found in the numerous pools in the stream. Most areas have been worn down to bedrock and the pools tend to be deep trough’s with undercuts for the fish to hide. The lower section of the stream where it approaches the Santiam river are private property, but the upper area goes through several sections of public lands. The largest trout I caught on our trip was only about eight inches. Small fish, but fun to catch on an ultralight pole and reel.

Small stream creek fishing
There are several bridges across the creek that provide a great view of the crystal clear water

To see a video of the fishing and parts of the hike please visit our YouTube channel at the link below.

Several great books for the local areas

Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes

Day Hiking Bend & Central Oregon: Mount Jefferson/ Sisters/ Cascade Lakes

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range

If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know.

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com 

Olymbros underwater fishing camera review

Olymbros Underwater fishing camera
Olymbros Underwater camera with swivel attached

From an early age I have always been interested in what it is like under the water from a fish’s point of view. As a low cost entry into getting a camera for trolling I purchase the Olymbros camera to see how it would perform while I was trolling. This camera can be used for more then just trolling, you can cast it out and retrieve, or hang it from a bobber and stationary fish with it. But my main purpose to get this was to see what I was having strike at my trolling gear and to see how the fish react before, and after they strike at the lure.

What’s in the box?

  • Camera
  • spare o-rings
  • Quick setup manual
  • USB charging cord
  • Attachment swivels

With everything in the box you only need to get an micro SD card to be able to start using the camera. But as with most things you should fully charge it before use. Mine had a partial charge and was able to fully charge up in about 30 minutes. From a full dead battery I was able to charge it in about 3 hours hooked up to my PC’s USB port. Since I wanted to get a large amount of video I opted to get the max sized SD card that the camera could handle at 32gb. Once turned on to record the camera records in three minute video sections in AVI format. On a 32gb card this means that every 9 minutes will fill up 1gb of the card. I was able to get about 200 minutes of video per trip. There is easily enough charge to on the camera to max it out. The one thing I found to be careful of is that once the card is filled to capacity it will start dropping the oldest file on the card and writing a new file over it. I made the mistake of leaving the camera running after a fishing trip and overwrote all of the fish strikes. Now for the technical details of this camera.

Device Specifications:

  • Lens: F=2.2, f=4.4mm 5P+1R
  • Video Resolution: HD 1280 X 720 Video
  • Format: AVI Cycle Recording (3 minutes)
  • Storage Support: TF Card SD/MMC Max.32GB
  • Video Recording Time: Up to 4+ Hours (under ideal conditions)
  • Battery Recharging Time: 4 Hours
  • Waterproof: Up to 65 ft.
  • USB Port: USB 2.0

This little camera performs great for trolling. As with any type of underwater camera the water clarity is the biggest factor on how good you video’s come out. For this camera after using it several times the setback for the lure works best at around 24 inches. If you use any type of crankbait or Rapala type lure the slight dive from the bill will put it at the borderline edge of the camera. An inline spinner or something like a Mack’s wedding ring worked perfect to keep the lure in the center of the video,

Olymbos underwater camera
Trolling for rainbow trout in a slightly colored water

Now for the good vs things I would love to see improved on newer models

The good things:

  • Easy setup
  • Instructions are easy to read
  • Small video clips make it easy to search and keep video’s of fish strikes
  • Slightly buoyant so if the line breaks the camera will float to the surface

Things that could be improved:

  • The slight buoyancy of the camera makes it good for retrieval but when trolling a weight needs to be added to get deeper then the surface.
  • Replace the plastic connectors on the camera with metal clips. This would make it easier to take on and off a fishing pole.
  • Some type of app that would allow for you to check the video’s without opening it up and having a connector.
  • opening the camera when wet to turn off/on is a bit difficult. Adding a waterproof button on the outside would help

Over all this is a great little entry level camera for fishing for under $100 that wont break the bank to use. If you are just starting out and would like to experiment this would be a great one to try. I can see how this would be a good camera for ice fishing or any other type of still fishing. I just have not tried to use it for this purpose yet. This is my first review so if you have anything that I should add or remove please let me know in the comments.

No one has paid me to write this review or given me the product to review. I just like to write about items that I use that are a good addition to the fishing collection.

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Urban fishing with my little Micro fisher

With a little bit of sun out my six year old decided that we should go fishing and have an adventure. There is a small creek just a few blocks away that we have never fished and it makes a perfect trip for a child that wants to explore. And it is not far from home in case of an early fall rainstorm.

Urban fishing

Once we climbed down to the creek we discovered a salmon ladder that had been built into bottom of the tunnel. For those of you that have not seen one before a salmon ladder is a series of gradually stepped down pools. These allow a salmon or steelhead to reach area’s to spawn that they would not be able to. Sadly a lot of small streams and creeks like this have culverts in place that have to steep of drop for the fish to jump and swim farther upstream. This is a large part of the issues with increasing salmon runs in the area. In the last decade there has been an increase in pushing to change out a lot of culverts with tunnels and other fish friendly areas.

Urban creek fishing
Urban creek fishing

Now what kid could resist exploring a tunnel under a road. Well since I watched the IT movie as a kid I would be one that would avoid it. No red balloons anywhere at least. As for fish we were able to catch two while we were fishing the pool. One looked to be a hybrid cuttbow (rainbow/cutthroat trout hybrid) and the other was a small salmon smolt that was close to the same size as the lure.

.

cutthroat

Later in the season we will need to come back down and see if we can see any salmon coming up the ladder and video them with the camera.

Urban fishing
Salmon ladder plunge pools

To see our adventures please check out our video on YouTube

Urban fishing with my micro fishergirl

And for the gear we used in today’s adventure

If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com