Silent, Wind-Proof Pants to Warm your Bottom!

  • Prepare early for the next chilly season.
  • Hard to find comfy-warm pants that are silent too and provide safe storage zipper pockets in 8 places.
  • These pants have a waistband that keeps them there.

By Forrest Fisher

When you’re hunting or fishing where frigid air temps can be expected, you need your gear ready at a moment’s notice. Savvy outdoors people know that comfy-warm pants that can carry gear are hard to find. These new SKRE Kodiak Pants have 8 zippered pockets. They allow for the ultimate organization of small gear items with 100 percent containment.

The interior grip waistband on the Kodiak keeps the pants in place, even when climbing up a hillside or treestand. When temperatures rise, dual hip vents open for maximum airflow. The Kodiak pant features 4-zippered cargo pockets, 2-zippered rear pockets, 2-zippered hand pockets, and the wind-resistant technology of MTN-X2 soft-shell (silent) face fabric is bonded with microfleece on the interior skin-contact surface. Add YKK Zippers – the kind you find on boat covers, zippered side vents, and a durable, water-resistant outer shield layer.

These pants are durable but light in weight (1 lb., 11 oz.) and are available in men’s standard sizes online at www.skregear.com.

Additionally, the SKRE products are backed by the company’s True Lifetime Warranty – an industry-best unconditional warranty for quality and workmanship. If, for any reason, you are unhappy with any SKRE gear, return it for a full refund or exchange. SKRE Gear also makes hardscrabble jackets and pants and their complete line of innovative outerwear, base layers, and accessories for all seasons.

About SKRE Gear: SKRE Gear, founded in 2016, was forged in mountain country with the quest to craft the best extreme hunting gear utilizing the finest technical fabrics with zero compromise in craftsmanship and materials. Visit https://skregear.com/

Musky EXPO will Draw BIG FISH Lure-Makers from across the USA

  • EXPO event set for shores of Chautauqua Lake Musky Fishery
  • Baker Lures, Red October Monster Tubes, Custom Clarkey Baits, Top-Line Bait Company, Smuttly Dog Baits, Bam-Bam Bait Company, D&R Jerk Baits, LiLa Lures and many others will display their wares.
  • Expert Seminar Speakers, Lure-Swap event, and Kids Fish Corner are among the top draw attendance features 
Anglers from near and far are drawn to lure colors, lure sizes, and the mystique of certain brands of musky fishing lures. Zach Baker photo

By Forrest Fisher

Musky fishing is often considered legendary and mystical due to the elusive and unpredictable nature of muskellunge, also known as muskies. The magic of the musky fishery and related special hook-bending moments is upon us this weekend with experts in town. The hottest event for the coldest weather month of the year is focused on the biggest fish that swim in Chautauqua Lake. The New York Musky EXPO 2024 will run this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 3-4, from the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center at 215 W. Lake Road (Route 394) in Mayville, NY. Admission is $15 for a 1-day pass and $20 for a 2-day pass; doors open at 9:00 a.m. both days. Kids under 12 and ages 13 to 17 are free when accompanied by an adult admission.

More than 75 booths will share their fool-em and hook-em wares, not to mention colorful fish fables and fairy tales about musky. It’s fun. I like that the show is open for everyone to learn more about our magical musky that calls Chautauqua Lake their home. Musky are the fish species that can provide chills and thrills on any day you drop a fishing line into Chautauqua Lake. Casting, trolling, drifting, bobber fishing – no matter, a musky might surprise you.

Knowledgeable musky fisherwoman, Katia Rivers, co-host for NY Musky Expo 2024, shares one of her Chautauqua Lake musky catches. NY Musky EXPO photo

Whether you fish or not, the biggest freshwater fish that swim in the Northeast thrive here in their native habitat of Chautauqua Lake. From Jamestown to Mayville, the 17-plus miles of Chautauqua Lake beckon to anglers of all ages and experience levels. If you are a fisherman or not, no matter where you go in western New York, northwest Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and even West Virginia, and in many other places around the country, there are bent-hook and broken-line fish stories about a finny Chautauqua monster locally called “Methuselah.” The “Big Flipper Fin” musky critter that got away at Chautauqua Lake.

Educational and professional seminars are included with each admission pass, and the price of admission also includes entry to the remarkable “Lure Swap Saturday” event set for Olives Restaurant (located inside the hotel) from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Lure swap stories often provide that one missing thing that anglers were searching for. It may complete their quest for better fish-catch understanding. Such details might mention lure rattles, glow paint, extra sparkle, color, and who knows…flash from finger-nail polish. You never know. If you like pizza, the Lure Swap event will include free gourmet pizza courtesy of the show sponsors.

The seminar schedule includes famous musky people who plan to deliver a handful of fishing lore and share secrets, talking about how, where, why, and with what for catching musky.

The NYSDEC will be on hand to share talk about the Prendergast musky hatchery and can help answer any questions for visitors. News about musky biology, habitat, and the science of aquatic resource decision-making, including proactive fishery resource management, will start seminar talks off on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) Director Dr. John Farrell and Dr. John Paul LeBlanc (Aquatic/Fisheries Scientists from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry). Look for Captain Vance Kaloz from All Day Musky Charters at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the “Art of the Drift,” seasonal bait fish changes, and how to adapt. At 3:00 p.m., listen to lure modification secrets with Brian Clark of Captain Chaos Musky Guide Service.

Big lures, like these “Jammers” from Lila Lures, as well as musky fishing advice, will be plentiful at the Musky Expo 2024 set for Feb. 3-4, 2024 at Chautauqua Suites Hotel and Expo Center in Mayville. Greg Jones photo

Then, on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., an All-Star Panel of musky fishing guides that includes Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters, Todd Young of Muddy Creek Fishing, Ed Pascua – of Medicine Man Charters, and Doug Vanasco/Joel Morrow – Of banging Bottom Outfitters, will offer an advice-filled treat for all to hear. At 12:30, The Niagara Musky Association will provide an advice-filled Musky 101 seminar to include proper gear presentation and catch/release logic with renowned NMA Musky Magazine author Scott McKee and Niagara River musky expert Joe Wilczewski. You can ask Wilczewski to share his delicious Musky Chili recipe. There is a rumor that he made 12 gallons of the yummy chili to share.

Katia Rivers, New York Musky EXPO 2024 hostess, says, “There will be door prizes every hour of the show, courtesy of Fins Braids (Made in the USA). There will be Sunday-only specials, raffles, giveaways, and one-day-only lure deals. In addition, NY Muskies – Chapter 69 will feature the “Kids Corner,” where youth anglers will find interactive activities, a scavenger hunt, a build-your-own lure event, a coloring contest, arts and crafts, a casting game, and more. Youth prizes and pick-a-lure from our donations will be a choice for each attending youth. The goal is for every child to leave with their own lure.”

Imagine a bit, but realize and accept what lure-maker Bucko Muro shares on lure size. “A musky can consume a meal 2/3 of its own length.” Those 14 to 18-inch wall-hanger lures at the show might be too small for Chautauqua musky! But not all musky baits must be big to catch these big fish. Evan Schoss makes his famous “Meatball” lures, which are smaller sorts of lures (5-6 inches) in a variety of hot colors, including the new “insane clown.” Chautauqua Lake Charter Captain Todd Young of Muddy Creek Fishing swears by the Schoss baits. That’s the big and little of it. Maybe not.

On the flip side, Noah Clarke from Custom Clarkey Baits will have his 17-inch “Yo-Daddy rattling minnows loaded with exterior glitter and two interior knocking sound chambers. I want to shake-shake-shake those lures. Another bait-and-switch lure includes full-time carpenter Adam Mueller with Top Line Bait Company. Mueller adds a hot-color rubber tail to a lengthy XL Dipstick wooden lure to make it even longer. This year, Mr. Toothy Jim Reynolds is bringing his freshly crafted 14-inch Lex Luther crankbaits among many other show newcomers this year. Big fish, big lures, you get it – the proverbial go-get-em advice for catching big fish.

Captain Mike Sperry (R) and his guests have shared several hefty musky catches this year in Chautauqua Lake. Visitors can chat with Sperry at the Musky Expo. Chautauqua Reel Outdoors photo

Famous lure makers will fill vendor booth hallways. Mark Smith will be there with his Smuttly Dog Baits. Steve Gould with Trophy Time Leaders and Lures, Zachary Baker with his jointed cedar wood Knocker Lures. The 5-inch and 7-1/2 inch Zach Baker musky lures have been a musky “best bait” for years now. Last year, musky fishermen identified that some of the newest hot musky baits made with a glow paint finish earned an instant reputation for fooling musky during daytime hours. Look for Mike Sperry from Chautauqua Reel Outdoors with those locally famous “Leo Mojo” and “Shayla Shad” lures, and check in with Brady Martz to learn more about the BamBam Bait Company baits with his popular large rubber-like Bowfin Lures in various colors. Bucko Muro will have his hand-made “Dive & Rise” (D & R) Jerkbaits that feature his famous screw-eye construction, variable weight inserts, and epoxy coat finish. Muro uses poplar wood for his walk-the-dog baits and old-growth white pine for his D&R baits. Greg Jones will be on hand with his famous 9-inch “Jammer” made by Lila Lures. Famous musky fishing lines “Barbarian Braid” and “Fins Braid” will also be on hand for show-goers. Red October Baits has a brand new showcase with their 10-inch MONSTER TUBES.  Many of the best musky lures are made by small shops and single-person business owners making ends meet through these outdoor fishing shows. The best thing? These mom-and-pop shop lures really catch big fish. Every lure has some secret associated with it. Just ask these lure makers to explain their details. It’s a fun weekend to visit Mayville, NY.

On Sunday (Feb. 4), world-renowned musky lure maker Zachary Baker will offer a show-special 5-inch Baker Musky Rattle Tiger Lure for an unbelievably low price. That’s a deal breaker! I was once at a Niagara Musky Annual Banquet to watch my table partners, Gary and Hope Melnyk, bid $125 for one of these smaller Baker musky baits. I asked, “But why? It’s just one lure, right?” Gary said, “You don’t understand, it’s a Baker Lure! I gotta have it.” Legends begin this way, they say, especially when they work.

The NY Musky EXPO 2024 show hours are Saturday, Feb. 3, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. For additional details on parking, hotel room availability and restaurant options, contact the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center at 716-269-7829. Every room reservation includes a breakfast buffet each morning. Show sponsors include Baker Lures, the Muskie Hanks Podcast, Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle Shop, the Cortese Auto Group, and the Northwoods Sportsman’s Association, to name a few. Maybe one more “best part about this show” is the idea of fishing across the street in Chautauqua Lake to catch a panfish dinner for the trip home. Visit www.tourchautauqua.com for free Chautauqua Lake contour maps, fishing advice in story form, winter shore access locations, secret fishing tips from local pros, fresh maple syrup outlet sources, and winter (or summer) lodging locations.

Bring a kid with you if you’re heading to the Musky Expo!

God bless tight lines.

Key Facts About Hunter and Shooter CONTRIBUTIONS to American Society

DID YOU KNOW?

✔ Sportsmen contribute nearly $9.4 million every day, adding more than $3.4 billion every year for conservation.

✔ Hunters and target shooters have paid $11 billion in excise taxes since the inception of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937.

✔ Hunting in America is big business, generating 680,000 jobs in the United States.

✔ For more than 80 years, sportsmen have paid more than $20 billion for on-the-ground projects in every state, protecting our natural environment and our fish and wildlife.

✔ The $6.4 billion in annual federal tax money generated by hunters’ spending could cover the annual paychecks of 210,000 U.S. Army Sergeants.

Hunters Pocket Fact Card – get one to talk knowledgeable about hunting with non-hunters and other groups.

At some point, nearly every hunter will be called on to point out the merits of hunting. Will you be up to the task of defending this great tradition by citing well-sourced facts in your discussion?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, can help you make your points with its newly updated Hunter’s Pocket Fact Card. The card can be downloaded in PDF format free of charge.

 

 

2024 SHOT Show Concludes with Record-Breaking Success

  • All-new Archery Pavilion

    The firearm industry has partnered with over 15,000 law enforcement agencies to distribute over 40 million free firearm safety kits.
  • Education Sessions 
  • Dedication to Firearm Safety
  • Off-Site SHOT Week Highlights

By Forrest Fisher

SHOT ShowHeld in Las Vegas, the 46th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade ShowSM (SHOT Show®), owned and operated by NSSF® — The Firearm Industry Trade Association — concludes with resounding success, setting new benchmarks for industry innovation, collaboration and engagement.

NSSF works to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons at the retail level through its Operation Secure Store®Don’t Lie for the Other Guy™ and FixNICS initiatives. These programs are collectively known as Real Solutions for Safer Communities® and are helping to save lives.

The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and 115 countries. Some 13.9 miles of aisles lead to displays of firearms, ammunition, gun safes, locks and cases, optics, shooting range equipment, targets, training and safety equipment, hunting accessories, law enforcement gear, hearing and eye protection, tree stands, scents and lures, cutlery, GPS systems and other electronics, holsters, apparel, leather goods, game calls and decoys.

With an expanded show floor, a record-high number of exhibitors, and an array of new features and networking opportunities, the 2024 SHOT Show was the largest to date.

More than 55,400 industry professionals packed the 13.9 miles of aisles over four days at The Venetian Expo and Caesars Forum, eager to view new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement.

NSSF and the firearm industry leads the way in creating safer communities through proven partnerships with law enforcement, elected officials, and community leaders. Photo courtesy of https://www.nssfrealsolutions.org/.

“The energy on the SHOT Show floor this year was off the charts,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “The feedback we’ve received from our exhibitors and attendees has been amazing, and we can’t thank them all enough for helping us make the show what it is: the greatest trade show in the world.”

This was the largest SHOT Show ever, marking the third year of expanded exhibit space at Caesars Forum, in addition to The Venetian Expo. More than 2,600 companies displayed products and services in booths covering more than 821,000 net square feet and attracting attendees from 117 countries and all 50 states.

Sentiments from the Show Floor

“When we’re here, we’re able to network with our customers; we’re able to see all of our dealers. There really is no better place for us to be during this time,” said Shaundi Campbell of Browning.

“SHOT Show 2024 was filled with tremendous excitement that our industry needs,” stated Kevin Paulson, Founder of Huntinglife.com. “When talking with companies and individuals on the floor, the energy was palpable from the moment the show opened all the way through Friday afternoon. As the publisher for Hunting Life Magazine, it is great to see new companies coming into the show floor and the industry growing together.”

“It’s been a great show with a great return for us,” said Aaron Deckert of Infiray Outdoor. “We keep coming back for the connections and great attendance at SHOT Show.”

“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen that are familiar, but I hadn’t had the chance to connect with yet. So, getting numbers, making those acquaintances, and just driving my business forward, that wouldn’t be there without this venue,” said Risky Chrisky of Leviathan Group.

“This was my first SHOT Show,” said Jordan Zwart, President of RubLine. “It was absolutely awesome, absolutely overwhelming, but in the best way possible. Everything that you can think of, you are going to find here.”

“SHOT is really beneficial to law enforcement. Every year I come back there is new equipment, new optics, new gear to try out,” said Kevin Boyd of C&G Holsters. “It’s great for networking, providing us the opportunity to meet with multiple different departments and agencies.”

“I could not even recap all the amazing people I saw, conversations I had, and relationships that were built. A very productive week for me, and just feeling really motivated and hungry for this next year,” said Marissa LaRen, Staccato Brand Ambassador.

Government Officials and the Outdoor Industry

The 2024 SHOT Show facilitated dialogue and collaboration between government officials and outdoor industry professionals at both the State Attorneys General Forum and the 3rd Annual Governors’ Forum. The first-ever Attorneys General Forum was a resounding success. One of the most well-attended special events, the 3rd Annual Governors’ Forum was standing-room only, where seven governors discussed the importance of firearm businesses to their economies and their efforts to attract firearm- and ammunition-related companies to relocate to their state. Across America, the $80.7 billion firearm industry supports more than 393,000 jobs.

All-new Archery Pavilion

This year, the SHOT Show introduced the all-new Archery Business Pavilion, featuring exhibits from leading manufacturers and suppliers in the archery industry. The new area of the show provided a focused environment for archery retailers and industry professionals to explore the latest trends, products, and business opportunities in the archery sector.

“This is our first year here; the floor traffic has been great,” said Eric Griggs, Owner and President of GAS Bowstrings. “It’s been great to see a lot of crossover folks who are thinking about adding an archery department or already have one. Everybody comes to SHOT, so having an archery-specific section provides a level of convenience. I imagine this section will really take off in years to come.”

Honoring Industry’s Leaders

NSSF announced its 2024 Hall of Fame inductees, honoring three industry leaders who left indelible marks on the industry and shooting sports. The NSSF Hall of Fame was launched at the 2020 SHOT Show to honor industry leaders for their contributions to NSSF, SHOT Show and the heritage of target shooting and hunting in America. This year’s inductees were Don Gobel, Grits Gresham and Bob Morrison.

NSSF presented its highest honor — the Ken Sedlecky Lifetime Achievement Award — to Steve Hornady, President of Hornady Manufacturing Company, for his long-term commitment to the success of the industry and his support of NSSF’s mission to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.

SHOT Week Supplier Showcase

The SHOT WeekSM Supplier Showcase, a two-day event and a key component of the SHOT Show garnered widespread acclaim for its success in connecting suppliers with manufacturers, fostering collaboration, and driving efficiency across the supply chain. This year featured over 560 OEM third-party suppliers meeting with exhibiting manufacturers and exploring their needs for extrusions, fabrication, fabrics, machinery, metal, plastics, software, logistical support and tools.

“Having suppliers available is a big deal because I have different options for the product now that I didn’t have yesterday,” said James Mark Busbee of CSAT Tactical Shooting Supply.

“You need to come to SHOT Show to see the latest and greatest technology, new designs and what people’s needs are so you can provide them a nice solution to get their product launched,” said Ron Natale, Precision Laser Technology.

“We came to find potential new suppliers, meet up with all our current suppliers and get new ideas and insights into industry trends. It’s one of the most important shows for us,” said Petra Polson of Benchmade Knife Co.

Education Sessions

Education sessions for firearm retailers, shooting range operators, exporters and law enforcement professionals continue to be an important segment of the SHOT Show. With SHOT University™, Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) – in partnership with American Cop – and Export Training Sessions offering in-person classes on compliance, marketing, training, exports, operations and much more.

Dedication to Firearm Safety

The topic of suicide prevention had high visibility at this year’s show, with NSSF’s Have a Brave Conversation booth and the announcement of the all-new BraveConversation.org website. NSSF’s Project ChildSafe® also exhibited, along with NSSF’s partners, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The photo is courtesy of the all-new BraveConversation.org website. Click the photo to visit website.

Many official show events cluster around the four days of the SHOT Show, creating SHOT Week. Among them was the NSSF/Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) Golf Classic in support of HAVA, a firearm industry-run charitable organization that helps the healing of disabled combat veterans through participation in hunting and shooting sports.

Also, Industry Day at the RangeTM on the day before the SHOT Show gives invited media members and buyers a truly exclusive opportunity to preview and test the latest guns, gear and gadgets before anyone else in the industry. This year featured over 120 exhibitors and over 2,300 media and buyers, a record-high attendance.

Expanded Networking Opportunities

Networking took center stage at the show, with the return of the popular SHOT After Dark, All-Star Jam Concert and nightly industry networking receptions. This expanded lineup of events and opportunities facilitated meaningful connections and collaborations among industry stakeholders.

“We are thrilled to see the tremendous success of the All-Star Jam Concert at SHOT Show. The energy and enthusiasm from all who attended was phenomenal, and we’re proud to have been a part of this fantastic experience alongside NSSF,” said Matt Hutchings, President and CEO of Outdoor Sportsman Group.

Recognizing the Show’s Sponsors

Major sponsors of this year’s show were Daniel Defense, USCCA, C&H Precision, Outdoor Sportsman Group, SAR Firearms, Silencer Co., Silencer Shop and TrueTimber.

Preparations have already begun for next year’s 47th SHOT Show, which is slated for January 21-24, 2025 in Las Vegas.

-30-
About NSSF
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.

Float Suit Saves Ice Fishing Fatality in NY

  • The ice looked solid, but there was no one out there ice fishing.
  • It was my birthday, and this has been a tradition.
  • So glad that I had that Frabill Float Suit on.
When fishing over chilly cold water for musky in the fall and early winter, Carl Schenk includes that wearing his “Float Suit” provides an extra measure of protection. John Pensyl photo

By Forrest Fisher

Ardent musky angler Carl Schenk was fishing on his birthday Wednesday with his buddy Tom Reinhardt at the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor. When Schenk arrived at the harbor, he noted there was no one out there, but there was ice, and it looked solid enough for two hard-water fishermen not afraid of a little chill in the air. Testing the ice with a spud bar, the duo accessed the water at the old boat ramp near the restaurant. Not too far out, they auger-tested the white ice to find 4 inches of seemingly solid, safe ice. Then the air warmed up, and it had rained shortly before. It was Carl’s birthday, and Tom tagged along for the safety of the celebration moment when Carl would catch his first fish and call the day a success. It was Carl’s annual birthday custom, and he turned 69 years young this year.

It didn’t take long. Using a 3-pound test and a lightweight fishing stick, Schenk counted the first fish. As he sat there, he noticed the ice began to sink in a large, wide circle around him. He hollered over to Tom that he thought they should head back. “It might be getting mushy,” Carl hollered. Tom said he was fine. “I’m heading in,” Carl said.

Lucky angler, Carl Schenk, credited his “Float Suit” with saving his life on Wednesday when he crashed through the ice at the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor. Tom Reinhardt photo.

“I broke through the ice in 9-feet of water. I was wearing my Frabill float suit and spudding my way along the route we came in on. The spud bar went through, and I was going in before I could back up. Luckily, I threw my body forward, rolled a couple of feet, got onto my hands and knees, and scampered to better ice. I was soaked to the waist with my boots full of water, but it sure could have been worse. I was damned happy to reach the shore.” Tom came in, avoiding my body hole in the ice, and was OK.

Schenk added, “I went home to dry out and sat on the couch with a cup of coffee, waiting for the adrenaline rush to leave. It was a memorable experience that, hopefully, I will not ever repeat. That water was cold!”

For complete safety, float suits are essential gear when it comes to all-season ice fishing. Schenk explained, “The Frabill Float Suit is the only one rated as a Type 3 USCG Approved personal flotation device (PFD). Yes, it’s pricey at about $500, but on that day, it was worth every penny. In addition, it’s so warm and comfortable – and now I can attest to its buoyancy rating, too, that I wear it when fishing for muskies from my boat in the fall and early winter. You never know!”

In the end, it was one birthday celebration that Carl Schenk and Tom Reinhardt will never forget.

Niagara Falls USA Winter Fishing precedes Annual Greater Niagara Fishing EXPO 2024

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls managed to catch steelhead from shore this week despite poor conditions in the Niagara River.

By Frank Campbell

First and foremost, the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo is set for Feb. 15-18, 2024, at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. The show’s motto is “Teaching Fishing,” it offers the fishing community a long list of educational opportunities focused on fish, fishing, boating, and all the components needed to succeed on the water. The Expo offers over 250 seminars delivered by over 80 qualified instructors this year. The website is www.niagarafishingexpo.com.

After all the rain and snow melt during this last week of January, the Niagara River and area tributaries were trashed for a few days. They are slowly starting to make a recovery, and conditions should be suitable by the weekend. They are calling for sunshine two days in a row, a rare occurrence for this winter, just like our Buffalo Sabres winning back-to-back games!

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls got the itch to hit the shoreline in the Niagara Gorge, and he was rewarded with some chunky steelhead. When he first went out, there was only about 1 to 2 feet of visibility, making fishing difficult. White and silver spinners and bucktail jigs did the trick for him, with the best fishing above the power plant. By Tuesday, he found 3-foot plus visibility and was 5 for seven on trout. If the water is stained, shore fishing is the way to go.

The first boats hit the water this week, and on Monday, Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters was excited when his first drift produced three trout with customers Sean Robinson and Bob Lewin of Philadelphia, Pa. It was slow after that. He was using egg sacs to entice the fish to hit. As the water clarity improves, so should the fishing from boats.

Sean Robinson (left) and Bob Lewin, both of Philly, caught some steelhead with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters this week in stained water.

Streams were high and muddy, according to Matt Vogt of Newfane. He’s been checking the tributaries, and places like Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek were speedy and high. Small streams were unfishable earlier this week, but when they come down, there could be a push of fresh fish in many tributaries. When the water is stained like that, Vogt says to increase the size of your baits and stick to colors that may stand out, depending on how stained the water is. Last week, he had safe ice in Olcott and Wilson harbors, but that is all gone for now. Nothing is safe. 

Wear a wonder. Shop Niagara Falls USA apparel, drinkware, and gifts at the Niagara Falls USA Official Visitor Center, or browse our online shop.

Hot Lake Erie Tributary Steelhead Fishing

Steelhead are among the beautiful fish to catch, most anglers catch and release these fast and sleek fighting fish, as they have a typical life span of over 20 years and can spawn thru most of those years. Andrew Steele Nesbit Photo

-Story Focus is on New York Streams

-Hot Flies Patterns that Work

-Fun for All Anglers

Steelhead are among the beautiful fish to catch, most anglers catch and release these fast and sleek fighting fish, as they have a typical life span of over 20 years and can spawn thru most of those years. Andrew Steele Nesbit Photo
Steelhead are among the beautiful fish to catch, most anglers catch and release these fast and sleek fighting fish, as they have a typical life span of over 20 years and can spawn thru most of those years. Andrew Steele Nesbit Photo

By Forrest Fisher

The warm summer and warm autumn have helped keep trout and steelhead anglers off the famed Great Lakes tributary streams this year, but the heavy sequence of monsoon style rains the northeast received late last week has made all the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario tributaries more normal.  Two days later, thanks to the drought, these streams were generally running clear again – a measure of just how dry the water table was.

With the high number of steelhead anglers that abound in Western New York and northern Pennsylvania, and many others that travel to the Lake Erie tributaries from West Virginia, Ohio and from farther origins, they were all waiting for that first prolonged cold rainstorm to get the Lake Erie Steelhead and Pink Salmon into the many tributary creeks and to start their journey upstream.

Lake Erie Steelhead have started their annual run upstream tributary streams of New York and Pennsylvania, providing a unique autumn opportunity for world class fishing action. Andrew Steele Nisbet Photo
Lake Erie Steelhead have started their annual run upstream tributary streams of New York and Pennsylvania, providing a unique autumn opportunity for world class fishing action. Andrew Steele Nisbet Photo

The fish are in the creeks now and the chillier weather forecast for the northeast this week and next will keep the fish upstream.  Even the smaller creeks have fish right now, allowing local anglers to access them before or after work, if they know where to drop a line.  The steelhead like to swim as far upstream as they can go before resting and feeding (they stay thru the winter), so look for them at a man-made dam or natural waterfalls in the creek’s you fish.

Here are some BEST PLACES: The Como Park Lake dam on Cayuga Creek, the Blossom dam on Buffalo Creek, the Legion dam on the east branch of Cazenovia Creek, the high waterfalls on 18-Mile Creek in Hamburg, the riffles of the Cattaraugus Creek below the Route 5 bridge in Irving, the Springville dam on the Cattaraugus located 17 miles upstream from the mouth (Scobie Hill Rd.), the short series of waterfalls and riffles on Silver Creek in downtown Silver Creek, the big pool on Canadaway Creek below under the Route 5 bridge, the many holes and waterfalls of Chautauqua Creek near the mouth in Westfield and also upstream, are a few of the usual great fishing spots for anglers to try to fool a whopper steelhead.

While I fess up to not knowing that much about how to properly fish for steelhead, my fear about “not knowing or not doing the right thing” was quickly laid to rest when I fished with two top notch guides last year: Drew Nisbet and Alberto Rey.

Nisbet will always provide humble suggestions that work with shared conversation that makes four or five hours in waders seem like five or ten minutes – you can meet him at the Orvis Store in Clarence, New York, where you can also learn from him directly about the right lines, leaders and hook sizes.

Alberto Rey is internationally famous as a wildlife artist and nationally recognized as a stream fishing outdoor guide who has provided leadership for helping many people all over the world with regard to understanding clean water, improving fish populations and conservation.

Both are Orvis-certified fishing guides – that means they are among the best of the best.  I asked them why they prefer Orvis fly rod tackle and they simply shared that there is so much cheap, nasty tackle out there to frustrate anglers, that new anglers especially need to think about Orvis because their tackle is durable and top quality, why risk the annoyance?  I agree that you usually get what you pay for.

One-egg or two-egg fly pattern rigs work well on the steelies right now.  The two-egg rigs are tied about 10 inches apart, they’re tiny, are hand-tied using #14 and #16 scud hooks (from Orvis) that have a heavy bead head for weight.  An indicator float is typically placed above the egg flies to help the angler see when a fish grabs the enticing fly lures.  Other flies work too, larger flies, including streamers and wooly bugger patterns.

While a large assortment of fishing tackle options is open to steelhead anglers, my all-day use of a 2-3/4 ounce, 9-foot, Orvis Access 6-weight fly rod and matching single-action fly reel is proof that good equipment will not tire you out. The use of flies is very effective and preferred by anglers that will catch and release the fish, as steelhead can live for more than 20 years and spawn in the tributaries for most of those years.

Lake Erie steelhead will also commonly hit natural baits, including real hand-tied egg sacs or live worms, though spinning rod anglers also use minnow-type stickbaits, in-line spinners and small spoons.  Those who are brand new to steelhead fishing, see the www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/60290.html for information on steelhead fishing equipment, locations and hot links to stream maps.

Our WNY salmonid and steelhead fishery is world class, to visit with these top fishing guides that usually fish Chautauqua County, contact Alberto Rey at 716-410-7003 or visit www.albertorey.com.

The extended, relatively nice, weather and the colorful leaves offer a unique and beautiful time right now to discover the WNY steelhead resource.

Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example.

Hot Lake Erie Tributary Steelhead Fishing

Steelhead are among the beautiful fish to catch, most anglers catch and release these fast and sleek fighting fish, as they have a typical life span of over 20 years and can spawn thru most of those years. Andrew Steele Nesbit Photo

-Story Focus is on New York Streams

-Hot Flies Patterns that Work

-Fun for All Anglers

Steelhead are among the beautiful fish to catch, most anglers catch and release these fast and sleek fighting fish, as they have a typical life span of over 20 years and can spawn thru most of those years. Andrew Steele Nesbit Photo
Steelhead are among the beautiful fish to catch, most anglers catch and release these fast and sleek fighting fish, as they have a typical life span of over 20 years and can spawn thru most of those years. Andrew Steele Nesbit Photo

By Forrest Fisher

The warm summer and warm autumn have helped keep trout and steelhead anglers off the famed Great Lakes tributary streams this year, but the heavy sequence of monsoon style rains the northeast received late last week has made all the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario tributaries more normal.  Two days later, thanks to the drought, these streams were generally running clear again – a measure of just how dry the water table was.

With the high number of steelhead anglers that abound in Western New York and northern Pennsylvania, and many others that travel to the Lake Erie tributaries from West Virginia, Ohio and from farther origins, they were all waiting for that first prolonged cold rainstorm to get the Lake Erie Steelhead and Pink Salmon into the many tributary creeks and to start their journey upstream.

Lake Erie Steelhead have started their annual run upstream tributary streams of New York and Pennsylvania, providing a unique autumn opportunity for world class fishing action. Andrew Steele Nisbet Photo
Lake Erie Steelhead have started their annual run upstream tributary streams of New York and Pennsylvania, providing a unique autumn opportunity for world class fishing action. Andrew Steele Nisbet Photo

The fish are in the creeks now and the chillier weather forecast for the northeast this week and next will keep the fish upstream.  Even the smaller creeks have fish right now, allowing local anglers to access them before or after work, if they know where to drop a line.  The steelhead like to swim as far upstream as they can go before resting and feeding (they stay thru the winter), so look for them at a man-made dam or natural waterfalls in the creek’s you fish.

Here are some BEST PLACES: The Como Park Lake dam on Cayuga Creek, the Blossom dam on Buffalo Creek, the Legion dam on the east branch of Cazenovia Creek, the high waterfalls on 18-Mile Creek in Hamburg, the riffles of the Cattaraugus Creek below the Route 5 bridge in Irving, the Springville dam on the Cattaraugus located 17 miles upstream from the mouth (Scobie Hill Rd.), the short series of waterfalls and riffles on Silver Creek in downtown Silver Creek, the big pool on Canadaway Creek below under the Route 5 bridge, the many holes and waterfalls of Chautauqua Creek near the mouth in Westfield and also upstream, are a few of the usual great fishing spots for anglers to try to fool a whopper steelhead.

While I fess up to not knowing that much about how to properly fish for steelhead, my fear about “not knowing or not doing the right thing” was quickly laid to rest when I fished with two top notch guides last year: Drew Nisbet and Alberto Rey.

Nisbet will always provide humble suggestions that work with shared conversation that makes four or five hours in waders seem like five or ten minutes – you can meet him at the Orvis Store in Clarence, New York, where you can also learn from him directly about the right lines, leaders and hook sizes.

Alberto Rey is internationally famous as a wildlife artist and nationally recognized as a stream fishing outdoor guide who has provided leadership for helping many people all over the world with regard to understanding clean water, improving fish populations and conservation.

Both are Orvis-certified fishing guides – that means they are among the best of the best.  I asked them why they prefer Orvis fly rod tackle and they simply shared that there is so much cheap, nasty tackle out there to frustrate anglers, that new anglers especially need to think about Orvis because their tackle is durable and top quality, why risk the annoyance?  I agree that you usually get what you pay for.

One-egg or two-egg fly pattern rigs work well on the steelies right now.  The two-egg rigs are tied about 10 inches apart, they’re tiny, are hand-tied using #14 and #16 scud hooks (from Orvis) that have a heavy bead head for weight.  An indicator float is typically placed above the egg flies to help the angler see when a fish grabs the enticing fly lures.  Other flies work too, larger flies, including streamers and wooly bugger patterns.

While a large assortment of fishing tackle options is open to steelhead anglers, my all-day use of a 2-3/4 ounce, 9-foot, Orvis Access 6-weight fly rod and matching single-action fly reel is proof that good equipment will not tire you out. The use of flies is very effective and preferred by anglers that will catch and release the fish, as steelhead can live for more than 20 years and spawn in the tributaries for most of those years.

Lake Erie steelhead will also commonly hit natural baits, including real hand-tied egg sacs or live worms, though spinning rod anglers also use minnow-type stickbaits, in-line spinners and small spoons.  Those who are brand new to steelhead fishing, see the www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/60290.html for information on steelhead fishing equipment, locations and hot links to stream maps.

Our WNY salmonid and steelhead fishery is world class, to visit with these top fishing guides that usually fish Chautauqua County, contact Alberto Rey at 716-410-7003 or visit www.albertorey.com.

The extended, relatively nice, weather and the colorful leaves offer a unique and beautiful time right now to discover the WNY steelhead resource.

Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example.

Lake Ontario Fishing – Orleans County Report: Sep. 5, 2017

Today is Tuesday September 5, 2017.
First, I would like to congratulate all of the winners of the Fall LOC Derby.  Some fantastic catches were weighed in showing that Lake Ontario is very alive and healthy despite having a little extra water right now.
Right now is the time of transition here in Orleans County and all across Lake Ontario.  Slowly we change from the fantastic Lake Ontario fishing to the fantastic tributary fishing that is offered by our many streams and rivers that feed the big lake.
Already some of these majestic fish are right outside our tributaries waiting for that just right time to make their spawning runs.  Those casting from the piers have already caught brown trout, steelhead trout and even a chinook or two, but fishing on the big lake is not over quite yet.  There is still plenty of action in the 100 to 200 feet of water range and should continue at least for the next couple of weeks.
On the lower stretches of the “Oak” and on Marsh Creek, Perch fishing is picking up with the cooler temperatures.
Lake Alice is still offering Bluegill around the Waterport Bridge area, bass in the upper stretches and a mixed bag in all the other areas of the lake.
The Erie Canal is still a favorite place to enjoy some great warm water fishing and offers a wide variety of species.
From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County, let’s make everyday a great fishing day right here in Orleans County.

New Edge for Fishing – in so many ways!

 

  • Catching fish is a lot about knowing how….there’s one source to check in the future if you are heading to Florida: Darcizzle Offshore TV.
  • Keeping and eating your catch requires training and a sharp knife: Check out the Darcizzle fillet knife from Smith Products in Arkansas.
  • Keeping the blade sharp is no easy task, until now. See about the “2-Step Tool” in the story. 

By Forrest Fisher

When Florida cold fronts approach, thick-scale saltwater Sheepshead go on the hot bite. Catch ’em and discover that they are tough to fillet with an ordinary knife blade. The Smith Darcizzle fillet knife simplifies the deal.

Fish on! The Pompano are running! The Sheepshead are biting! Anglers everywhere share a common goal to catch fish when the fishing is hot. Putting fish on the line is pure passion for so many, me too. Except I did not know a thing about catching Pompano or Sheepshead. I’m new to Florida. When you need to learn, I do what everyone does today, I check YouTube.

Scanning the YouTube channel for “How-To-Catch,” you can type in pompano or sheepshead, or anything else. I hit the brakes when I watched a bright-eyed young lady in a bikini screaming “Fish On!” As she reeled in the surf of the Atlantic Ocean near Miami, another rod went off that was set in a beach rod holder. Excitement! 2-hook line sets, snag-wire weights, dropper loop knots, Fish-Bite baits, all were there. Great show. Her TV show is called Darcizzle Offshore and features Darcie Arahill and her boyfriend mentor, Brian, nicknamed Puddin’. They visit a variety of waterways using a multitude of tactics that always end up in their kitchen. Watching the videos allows the viewer to learn from top to bottom, start to finish. Of course, before the kitchen, there is a clean-the-fish job that needs to be completed.  The next show featured sheepshead. Learning in the modern world can be simple.

With each show, Darcie demonstrates how to clean the catch. The eye-stopper for me on this recent show was the EASE with which she cleaned their recently caught sheepshead. The tasty sheepshead is no easy task to fillet. They offer tough, heavy scales and a structural, thick-boned rib cage. Darcie provides easy-to-watch videos that simplify the process.  While she did not mention the name of the fillet knives she was using, it aired at the end of the show. I watched for it. Identified as the Darcizzle 6-inch and 8-inch curved-flex fillet knife, the knives come from Smith Consumer Products in Arkansas, USA. After Darcie quickly transformed the half-dozen tough-skinned sheepshead into delectable fillets, they moved to the kitchen at their house where Puddin’ shared how-to cooking secrets for the meal that followed.

Never thought I would purchase yet one more knife for my cleaning drawer, but this one made a difference. Even my wife likes it for everyday kitchen work.

There is nothing like a great knife that holds its edge. Every fisherman I know is always looking for another “best knife.” So, I had to do it. Did I need another knife? NO. But…yes, I got online and found the Darcizzle knife products at https://smithsproducts.com/knives-9.  In a moment, an invisible force pushed my mouse pointer to “BUY.”

2-Step knife sharpening tool with 3 adjustable blade angles all on the same tool. Gotta love innovative products!

The 2-Step Tool: A few pages later, I also found the 2-Step Diamond Adjustable Knife Sharpener that features two diamond rods and two ceramic rods with 3-preset sharpening angles of 15, 20, and 25 degrees. The first time I have ever seen this idea. This is an uncommon kitchen gadget innovation in my eyes, and it fits in a pants pocket. Just switch the tab to match the factory angle on your knife blade, and achieve a razor-sharp edge in no time. Three or four strokes through the carbide sharpening slots will restore the edge on a very dull knife in seconds. Follow that with two or three strokes on the other side of the stone, where the matched angle ceramic rods provide a quick-touchup finish of the knife edge.

After having used the Smith Product Darcizzle knives for about 5 weeks now, the edge retention is great, they are corrosion resistant in saltwater use (3Cr13 Stainless!), the non-slip ergo-friendly handles keep you safe, and the slip-on sheath that has a locking sheath (it never falls off until you take it off) that allows this sharp tool to stay within easy reach when kept in your kitchen drawer.

Once or twice a day, my wife says, “Where’s my Darcizzle knife!?” OK, so I borrow it every now and then. The point is when my better half for the last 53 years likes a new knife that much, there is something special about it.

I learned more about catching Pompano and Sheepshead, cleaning each of these species, a surprising new knife product and how to keep it sharp – all in an hour or two of flipping through the Darcizzle Offshore Fishing channel on YouTube…and my wife loves me more.

Hard to lose with all that going on. Just saying…you might wanna try one of these new blades.

Larry Whiteley to be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Larry Whiteley to be inducted into Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

  • Conservationist & Outdoor Journalist, U.S. Navy Veteran.
  • Host of the Great Ozark Outdoors from 1976 to the present.
  • Public Relations Manager for Bass Pro Shops for 23 years.

By Dave Barus

You might say that Larry Whiteley is a common and uncommon, outdoors Christian man. You would be correct, but there is so much more. He shares his life with others in a special way. With listening, honest caring and effective suggestions.

Larry Whiteley is a 1964 graduate of Nixa High School. A military veteran during our country’s time of need, he served in the U.S. Navy. Whiteley has hosted an outdoor broadcast show through The Great Ozarks Outdoors, Inc., his family corporation, since 1976. That includes 30 years for the award-winning Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Radio, carried by more than 1,200 radio stations – including those as part of the American Armed Forces Radio Network.

He also was the Corporate Public Relations Manager for Bass Pro Shops for 23 years. Additionally, his voice was the one carried over every Bass Pro Shops store in America, as it welcomed customers, noted the latest sale and gave outdoor tips. He also was a crucial part of conservation and kid’s outdoor education programs.

To date, Whiteley has voiced more than 18,000 radio shows and written more than 5,000 articles communicating the great outdoors to people worldwide. He still writes for newspapers and magazines, including Hook & Barrel, Outdoor Guide, Show Me, CrappieNOW, ShareTheOutdoors.com, and Missouri Conservation Federation.

Whiteley, a winner of numerous awards through several outdoors associations, also is an inductee of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Through all this activity, Larry Whiteley, the gifted communicator that is everyone’s friend, has remained a humble man at every turn. Never looking for credit at any time, Larry is always encouraging others to step in and get going. With an ear-to-ear grin, he is a human spark plug for inspiring others.

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame CEO & Executive Director Jerald Andrews unveiled the Class of 2022 in early December. The inductees will be honored on Sunday, February 6 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. A reception presented by Reliable Toyota will begin at 4 p.m. that day, with the evening program to follow at 5 p.m. Associate sponsors are Advertising Plus, Bryan Properties, Great Southern Bank, Hiland Dairy Foods and Hillyard, Inc.

Hats off, and hearty congratulations to Larry Whiteley!

 

 

An Outdoor Paradise for All Seasons

Summer or Winter, there is one place to add to your Bucket List!

  • In Winter, the Switzerland Alpines can be found in Gaylord, Michigan – snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and river rafting peace and quiet
  • In Summer, relax and unwind with camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, surf-boarding, wake-boarding…the list is long!
  • All year round, enjoy the forests, fields, the peace of sinkhole lakes, rivers and creeks –  all offer adventure and opportunity
During the winter season, scenic rivers offer the adventure experience of a winter wonderland from a river drift boat.

By Larry Whiteley  

Are you thinking you would like to go somewhere this year where you can get away from all the politics, COVID and the division that’s going on in America? Do you want to go to a place where you can really enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer and not have to worry about any of that other stuff? No matter what season of the year you want to go, I have just the place for you.

When you get there you will feel like you are in an alpine village in Switzerland, but instead, you will be in the small town of Gaylord located in beautiful Northern Lower Michigan. Gaylord and the surrounding Otsego county area is an outdoor lover’s paradise. You can just relax and unwind from all that’s going on in the world or you can choose to enjoy a plethora of outdoor adventures.

If it’s water you seek for your adventure, Otsego County has over 90 inland lakes and the headwaters to five major rivers start here. The sinkhole lakes in the Pigeon River Country State Forest is also something you have to experience to believe. If you’re a fisherman, this is truly paradise. You can catch tiger Muskie, northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout just about any season of the year. Choose from open water, hard water or flowing water. Otsego Lake, the county’s largest lake, offers the opportunity to try and catch huge sturgeon which can grow to over 7-feet long and weigh up to 200-pounds. During winter Otsego Lake is known for its great ice fishing.

Depending on the season you can also enjoy canoeing, kayaking, boating, wakeboarding, wake surfing, water skiing, tubing, swimming or just relaxing on a sandy beach. There are plenty of rental places for whatever fun you want to try and several sporting goods stores where you can purchase your fishing license or anything else you might want for any season.

If hiking or biking is your passion there are 282 miles of trails in and around Gaylord for any age or skill level. The trails wind through meadows, along lakes and streams, and they climb the hills. When you get to the end of the trail, your reward is the view of the valley below. If you come to Gaylord in the spring, wild birds will be singing their songs, trees will be leafing out, and the mating song of peeper frogs fill the air. You’ll see butterflies fluttering around the wildflowers that include Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bloodroot, Marsh Marigolds, and many others are everywhere. Bring an empty sack with you just in case you find some delicious Morel mushrooms during your journey. You and your family might also be thrilled to see a baby rabbit, a young black bear or a newborn fawn.

The Gaylord area is also known for its enjoyably mild summers, so now you know it’s not too hot to be on one of those many trails in the area. Sunsets and sunrises are magical during this time of year. If you visit during the fall season, you will never forget it. This area is known as one of the best places in America to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. A kaleidoscope of colors awaits you. Brilliant displays of red, orange and yellow are everywhere and if you are on the trails or on the water, these are among great places to enjoy the view. It’s also a fun time to visit the local farmer’s markets and pumpkin farms.

Come during the winter season and truly experience a winter wonderland. The trails now become fantastic for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Snowmobiling is also a popular wintertime activity. If you come during the winter season you have to try rafting on the scenic Sturgeon River. It’s another adventure you do not want to miss. Your whole family would also love taking a sleigh ride. You can also enjoy downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing at either Otsego Resort or Treetops Resort. Both also offer golf in the other seasons on renowned championship golf courses. There are 17 other golf courses in the county making it a mecca for golfers. If you enjoy camping there are lots of places to pitch a tent or park your RV. There’s also plenty of cabins, resorts, hotels, motels and even a dude ranch to choose from.

There are plenty of things to do between all your outdoor adventures. Gaylord has that small-town charm but still offers plenty of dining and shopping opportunities. While you’re shopping, be sure and purchase some of their famous and delicious chocolate-covered potato chips to take home with you. There’s also another trail you might like and it is right in Gaylord. It’s the Craft Tap and Beer trail leading to craft and micro-breweries throughout the town for your tasting pleasure. Don’t miss taking a trip to the city park to see the elk herd that the city takes care of for locals and visitors’ enjoyment. The Call of the Wild Museum is also a great place to visit. To really appreciate any place you travel to across America it makes it even more special if you know the history of the area so I also suggest you visit the Otsego County Historical Society.

If I have painted a good enough picture with my words to get you thinking you might just like to travel to Gaylord and Otsego County, then I encourage you to get on your computer and visit https://www.gaylordmichigan.net/. Watch the videos, enjoy the pictures, and read about all there is to see and do. My hope is you will pick a season and go experience this beautiful part of America. I am willing to bet you will love it so much you will return again to sample another season and then another season and then another season. Gaylord, Michigan, and Otsego County will stay with you forever in your memories. It is an outdoor paradise for all seasons.

 

Winter Fishing the Niagara River (NY)…Without Ice!

Mike Ziehm continued to use a No. 4 spinner to take nice steelhead like this one from shore in the Niagara Gorge.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022
  • From Destination Niagara USA
  • Happy New Year!
Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls caught some dandy steelhead while he tested the waters before running a trip this week.

As the fishing action starts to improve again in the Niagara River, remember that the walleye daily creel limit in the Lower Niagara River changes this time of year. Hopefully, recent winds will not muddy up the water too badly. In the meantime, it is important to remember that the daily creel limit on walleye changes after the first of the year to March 15 to help protect large females. The daily limit drops from 3 to 1 fish with a size limit of 18 inches.

In the lower river, steelhead and lake trout are both being caught in the lower river section below Niagara Falls – from the gorge to the Niagara Bar.

Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports lake trout action on the Niagara Bar has been good. Steelhead and brown trout have been hitting in and around Artpark.

For the boat guys, live bait like minnows and shiners are working well, along with Kwikfish and MagLips fished off three-way rigs. Shore guys are using spinners and jigs, as well as egg sacs and beads and fished under a float.

Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls caught this lower Niagara River steelhead this week on a BnR soft bead.

Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls sends word that even though the water is finally clearing, the steelhead fishing has still been a little picky — probably because the river is full of bait. He’s never seen so many birds feasting on minnows and large numbers of baby smelt. The best bait for him has been beads, but he recently switched to BnR soft beads in chartreuse, peach, orange and pink, very effective for him.

The Bar has been pretty good the past week with golden shiners. He has been catching mostly lakers, but a few nice brown trout have started to show up there, too. Hair jigs and blade baits have also been good to use.

In the upper Niagara River, Scott Gauld and his son Alex of Tonawanda had some banner days on smallmouth bass – one on New Year’s Eve. Using Ned rigs to take a pile of bass, all catch and release. Trout and walleye are still being caught at the Foot of Ferry Street on big minnows according to Lake Effect Bait and Tackle in Tonawanda.

Scott Gauld of Tonawanda and Nick Sanderson of Williamsville with a pair of Niagara River bass caught on New Year’s Eve!

Tributary action off Lake Ontario saw an uptick in fresh fish after recent rains. Trout are being caught, although fishing pressure has been limited. The coldest day of the winter so far was Monday, but it will be in the 40’s today, so it’s anyone’s guess what will happen to the tributaries with rain and snow in the forecast.

This is the Ned rig that worked best on bass for Scott and Alex Gauld, as well as Nick Sanderson. This was a green pumpkin candy 3-inch Venom Salty Sling they were dead dragging on the bottom.

 

 

Stay safe out there!

Frank Campbell, Director, Outdoor Promotions

Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
We know that brighter days are ahead. Until then, let us be your destination of hope. Click here for our video message.

 

Anglers’ Best Tool Kit, and Where to Keep It – 3 Essential Tools No Angler Should Be Without

Can't find your Clippers? Not anymore.

  • 3-Tool Package: Scissors, Needle-nose Pliers/Crimpers, Hook Remover 
  • Cut wire, mono, braid easily…and will cut off hook shanks when required
  • High-Quality – priced under $45
Today’s fishermen are gearheads, no doubt about it. There are a myriad of specific rods, reels, lures, terminal tackle, and accessories to help them be successful in freshwater and saltwater, no matter the targeted species. Regardless, there are three tools all anglers should always have – pliers, scissors, and a hook remover. The Anglers’ Best Tool Kit conveniently combines all three, each of the highest quality designed to last a lifetime. All for under $45.
The scissors are razor sharp, with a non-slip handle and are perfect for trimming everything from line tag ends to jig skirts and more. The needle nose pliers are designed as a multi-purpose tool, ideal for everything from crimping to removing lure hooks of all sizes. To accommodate the different types of lines, the pliers are crafted with a special place to cut braided line. A non-slip handle provides a perfect grip at all times. The hook remover in this kit is an oft-overlooked tool that not only makes hook removal quick, safe, and simple, it also helps you remove the hook from fish without hurting the fish itself. It creates less wound and increases the chance of the fish survival rate in water almost significantly. Thus, a fishing hook removal tool helps you to save fish and enjoy the fun of angling at the same time. The Anglers’ Best Tool Kit is sold individually, suggested retail price – $44.99.
Best of all, every tool in the Anglers Best Tool Kit is designed to fit in the Lazy Joe, Anglers’ Best’s patented-designed tackle box and accessory holder that fits around your boat seat pedestal. It keeps your baits and accessories within reach without having to leave your seat or trolling motor. It saves valuable deck space and rotates around the pedestal for easy access to all your tools and accessories.
Tool storage is easy. The Lazy Joe pedestal tool and accessory holder comes standard with three Bait Boxes. Suggested retail price is $149.99.  The weather resistant, angled body keeps the Lazy Joe out of your way while keeping your tools and accessories within reach.

For more information, visit www.anglersbest.com.About Anglers’ Best: Headquartered in Danville, Ala., Anglers’ Best is a designer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art fishing accessories. For additional information on Anglers’ Best write to: Anglers’ Best, 8237 Danville Road, Danville, AL 35619; Call: (833) BAS-SNET or visit www.anglersbest.com.

Lake Trout Limits on Lake Huron – No Monkeying Around!

Lake Trout tussle very well in Lake Huron near Alpena, Mi.

Bob Holzhei and first mate, Justin Grubaugh, admire the size of one of our lake trout.By Bob Holzhei

Lake Trout were targeted on this fishing trip and it wasn’t long before the first fish was boated. It was caught on a Monkey Fish lure. Then another and another until our limit was met! It was exciting! Gaylord, Michigan, was the selected Annual Conference site for the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW). Journalists, corporate members, and radio and television personalities from all across the United States are part of the trilogy that comprises the membership.

On this day, our morning departure from the Treetops Resort began at 8:00 A.M., arriving at the Alpena City Marina an hour later. Our boat was a 21-foot Voyager named Depth Charge with Captain Kevin Drummond.

We began fishing in his “honey hole,” in 110-120 feet of water, using 8 rigged fishing lines to cover the depth, which ranged from 30 feet to 120-foot depth. “I began fishing as a kid at 16 years old and only lived a block from the lake. Lake Huron has an amazing lake trout fishery, and I get pleasure from watching people catch fish,” stated Drummond.

The author strains as the 15-minute fun battle with another tenacious, large lake trout continues.

Also on board among my fishing partners was David Gladkowski, a staff writer with the National Turkey Federation and Brady Laudon, Assistant Director and Sales Manager for Visit Bemidji, Minnesota. Each year, three locations are chosen by AGLOW to present a conference bid, that is, to host a future conference.

“I’ve never done any fishing like that, being a South Carolina boy.

Of course, I’ll be back. I was thrilled! Gladkowski stated. This was also the first time Brady Loudon fished Lake Huron. “Our fishing party limited out on Lake Trout. I couldn’t believe how the honey holes produced so many fish,” added Laudon.

In addition, to a yearly conference, AGLOW – along with corporate sponsors – offers “Communicator Camps,” which consist of 6-10 outdoor journalists. Members apply for a spot and are selected by the tourism bureau. The Communicator Camps provide opportunities for CVB’s to gain additional exposure.

The excitement throughout the morning and afternoon continued, and soon, there were three lake trout in a battle to free themselves at the same time.

The anglers had to slow down the pace at bringing the fish in. The fishermen on our boat took turns landing the fish, allowing time to rest from the strenuous battles. Drummond spoke highly of the success with the Shimano Tekota reels and Talora Shimano rods. The reels spooled with a 20-pound test line, one item among the tools used to reach our limit of lake trout, a couple steelhead and a salmon.

“Lake Huron is also a world-class Atlantic Salmon fishery, perhaps the world’s largest landlocked Atlantic Salmon, and the finest angling,” according to Jim Johnson, a retired fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

According to Johnson, Lake Superior State University faculty and students have been stocking 20,000 to 35,000 Atlantic salmon in Lake Huron annually since the late 1980s.

Thanks to Captain Kevin Drummond and his first mate, Justin Grubaugh, on a boat named “Depth Charge” for a successful and unforgettable fishing day out of the port at Alpena, Michigan.

A significant difference between the Atlantic’s and Chinook salmon is that the Chinooks die after spawning. At the same time, the Atlantic’s can spawn multiple times and live longer. The Atlantic’s have been marked by removing the adipose fin and implanting a tiny coded wire tag in each fishes’ head. The tag provides information about the stocking date and location, which assists the DNR in measuring the stocking success. Anglers are asked to forward the heads to the area DNR office.

As we boated ashore, the rich memories of this fishing trip would resurface until I returned to fish with Drummond again!

For more information, contact: Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau 1-800-345-8621, www.gaylordmichigan.net and Alpena Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 1-989 354-4181, www.info@visitalpena.com.

New York Canada Goose Seasons OPEN September 1st in many areas of State

New York Canada Goose Seasons Open September 1st

One of the first seasons to open every year is the September “resident” Canada goose season.

Although they may look the same, “resident” Canada geese are those that breed in the United States and southern Canada, unlike “Atlantic Population” (or “AP”) Canada geese, their relatives that breed in northern Canada and migrate through New York. Typically, resident geese produce more young per pair and survive at a higher rate than AP geese. As the resident goose population has grown, season lengths and bag limits have been liberalized and hunters have successfully stabilized the population.

The September season is an important opportunity for New York hunters, as AP goose seasons have been restricted to 30 days and a one-bird bag in most areas to protect this more vulnerable population. For more information on the differences between resident and AP geese, visit DEC’s website.

You can find details on waterfowl hunting regulations, season dates, hunting area boundaries, and bag limits for both the September and regular seasons on DEC’s website.

To participate, hunters must: (1) possess a 2021-22 hunting license; (2) register for the 2021-22 New York Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP; see below); and (3) all hunters 16 years of age or older must have a 2021-22 federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (i.e., “duck stamp”) signed across the face of the stamp in ink.

Photo courtesy of T. Van Liew

Jake’s Lost Life: Gun Safety is #1 – for ALL Hunters, for ALL Ages

Remember that Gun Safety is #1 at ALL TIMES. James Monteleone photo

  • With a profound passion, Jake loved to hunt for deer, turkey, waterfowl.
  • Does a deep passion for hunting and familiarity with firearms contribute to a lack of discipline for firearm safety? Keep safety rules in mind….always.
  • Shooting a firearm MUST INCLUDE THE COURAGE  TO CORRECT A FRIEND for any lack of gun safety: Where are the bullets? Where is the gun pointed?  
  • Read, learn, share with others – GUN SAFETY FIRST!

By James Monteleone

Jake, to my immediate left, was interested in the outdoors and hunting from a very early age. 

Dear Mr. Average Teenager – I turkey hunted once with a kid named Jake. Yes, I know there is a strange connection to the young hunter’s name and a young turkey. Jake’s real name is Jacob, and other than Jake, he is called “Spud” by those in his close circle of family and friends. I was introduced to Jake by a friend, and our paths crossed when I was co-hosting a Youth Day seminar. It was easy to see that Jake had the benefit of some good instructions when it came to using a friction call. His notes and cadence on both a box call and a slate call were better than the average man, much less a young teen.
The day we hunted was pretty ordinary as turkey hunting days go. Chuck Tiranno (my friend) and Jake headed down to the far end of a long field. I split off to the left to cover a long stretch of woods that bordered the same field. There was some gobbling from my left and I was set up in a great place to intercept the birds as they closed in on my position. I called in and saw four “jakes” that morning. They did their usual hard-gobbling routine and put on a little show for the decoy, but they were not my intended target that morning.
After 8am, I heard three shots coming from the spot where Jake and Chuck had set up. The timing of the shots led me to believe that someone may have missed. When we met up at about 9am, I found out that Jake had, in fact, killed one of several birds that came in to his calling. His shots were an attempt to anchor the bird that was a little farther out than the effective range of his shotgun. Chuck, who lives across the street from Jake, has been a mentor to Jake and wasted no time putting the teenager in his place for shooting at what he considered an extreme distance.
Jake, who developed a proficiency for trap shooting and archery hunting for deer, loved waterfowl and turkey hunting too. His ability to call in ducks, geese and turkeys gave him a unique ranking within his peer group and allowed him to compete with adults in pursuing these sports. Chuck always insists on youths like Jake patterning and sighting in their firearms. In addition to these steps, Chuck stresses the need for practice and safety. These are all part of the collaborative effort on which we focus during Youth Day seminars and lectures to all age groups.
In some ways, Jake is just an average 15-year-old boy. Although his hunting and shooting abilities are comparable to an adult level of participation, he, like many 15-year-olds, thinks he is a “top dog”. I think it’s great when a youth has an outlet for his energy and takes an interest in the outdoors. Jake won’t see his 16th birthday. Jake won’t be out for the deer season, and we will never know what Jake may have been able to offer the youth of future generations.
Jake lost his life to a terrible accident. Not an accident that you would have foreseen in his future. He died due to a gunshot wound that came while he and a friend were handling a gun before a waterfowl hunt. The other details are not necessary. But these young men have been drilled at almost every opportunity in the safe handling of firearms. I will not speculate as to the actual events other than to state the obvious. If you question why I would state the obvious, then think about what any and all of us could do to avoid situations like this in the future.
It’s too late for Jake. It’s not too late for the rest of us to take a lesson from a situation where a young boy who grew up around guns may have failed to take charge of a situation where his friend was not being safe. There was an adult in the home when the accident occurred. Could there have been a stricter approach to the firearms being handled that day? Of course, we can all use hindsight to say “Yes” emphatically. But that time has passed, and we need to honor Jake’s memory and the other people who have lost their lives in firearm-related mishaps. How do we honor those people?
We never miss a chance to reinforce the need for safety in handling guns and other weapons. Those basic rules like “treat every firearm like it’s loaded” and “always point the muzzle in a safe direction” and “be sure of your intended target” and “supervise all young and new shooters in the use of firearms.”

When more than one hunter is in a group, firearm safety becomes the ultimate consideration. Muzzle direction, chamber open, safety position. National Shooting Sports Foundation Photo

This has been difficult for the parents, Jake’s young friend and the community in general. I saw and heard the grief yesterday as I stood in front of the casket of a 15-year-old boy. He was dressed in camouflage, and the pictures displayed at the entrance showed a young man with a passion for the outdoors. He posed with his turkeys, some geese and several of the deer he had taken. The pride of competing in a man’s game and winning was etched on his face. Ironically, Jake had taken a deer with his bow only days before this tragedy took place.
Having had Jake as one of the participants in my presentation at the Youth Day seminars and seeing him in death was a painful reminder that nothing should be taken for granted no matter how many times we preach the safe handling of firearms. We cannot over-emphasize safety. No one is invincible or immune from a lapse in judgment. Don’t be embarrassed to remind people (and insist if necessary) that safety is an absolute part of our sport. It doesn’t matter how long you have hunted or how proficient and knowledgeable you are about firearms. Danger doesn’t take a day off. Yes, people can be dangerous; guns are only a part of the equation.
Put safety first. I have said to Jake and many others, “There is no deer, turkey, elk, bear or any other animal that is more important than coming home safely.” We all stress that “you can’t take a bullet back once it’s fired. You have lost any control that you have over the outcome of that shot once you pull the trigger”.

Hunt in pairs to stay safe, but always remember that guns are dangerous when safety rules are taken for granted. National Sports Shooting Foundation Photo.

There are no “do-overs” where guns are concerned. I doubt that anyone among us has not witnessed the poor and unsafe handling of firearms. Are you embarrassed to remind the offender of his duties to protect himself and others? Jake’s parents wish someone would have done that for him. If you appreciate this reminder, don’t thank me, thank Jake. He gave up his life to a lapse in judgment. His father said to me yesterday, “I hope something good can come from this,” and I told him then, “We have to be Jake’s voice now”. That’s my objective in writing this the day Jake will be buried. I want to be Jake’s voice. Not just today, but every day when there is a firearm present.
Will you join me and honor Jake by being his voice? It’s so much more important than “Good Hunting and Great Memories.”

From my friend, Tony TirannoMay Jake rest in peace.  I pledge to be “Jake’s Voice”.

THE 12 GOLDEN RULES FOR SAFE GUN HANDLING:

  • Always treat the gun as if it is loaded.
  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
  • Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
  • Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the gun you are using.
  • Always use proper ammunition.
  • Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting.
  • If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for several seconds, then with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, carefully unload the gun.
  • Don’t rely on the gun’s mechanical safety to keep it from firing.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when handling guns so you don’t trip, lose your balance or accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.

Snake Boots FIGHT the SWEAT & the BITE

Lightweight Snake Boots that eliminate sweat! Irish Setter Boots.

Not many folks think about snake boots for hunting with sweat and scent control, but if you hunt or live in areas where the heat index soars to above 110 degrees, you really do need to consider this primary element for a successful hunting experience.

On this note, I found the MudTrek snake boots from Irish Setter to accomplish scent and sweat control for your feet while staying protected from venomous eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and cottonmouth water snakes that we have in Southwest Florida.

The Irish Setter TempSens technology helps regulate the temperature within the boot to maintain constant foot comfort. The system reacts, so moisture is hyper-wicked away from the foot in hot conditions, allowing for evaporative cooling. This helps keep feet cooler, drier and comfortable. In colder conditions, the system also pulls moisture from the skin but traps it to create a thermal barrier that helps maintain a constant, comfortable temperature inside the boot. Warm or cold, the ScentBan™ antimicrobial scent control helps eliminates odors within the boot. I found all-day underfoot comfort with these “safety boots” and excellent traction in slick or tough-walking terrain. The self-cleaning lugs help remove mud and dirt with every step. The vulcanized rubber upper design makes them waterproof and durable.

Also important, these snake boots are light, and they offer a traditional, roomier full fit with a wider leg and ankle openings. And, there is a convenient side zipper for easy on/off. I need that (I have big feet!). They are 17-inches high and are vulcanized rubber in a brown color boot design that features foot and lower leg comfort with resistance to fangs and thorns. These elements make the Irish Setter SnakeGuard boots the essential comfort tool for hunters and hikers in snake country. They cost about $230; visit www.irishsetterboots.com to learn more.

The “SpoonCrank” Tackle Box provides Tangle-free Lure Access

  • Lure organization for crankbaits and spoons – tangle free lure access means less wasted fishing time
  • Wet protection, rubber seal barrier in the cover
  • Transportation vibration isolation, keeps shiny lures shining
  • Partition by color, size, lure type – store up to 90 spoons or 50 crankbaits, or any combination

This durable box will organize all your lures with room for 50 crankbaits or 90 spoons, or any combination of these two quantities – or more if you double up on some spaces.

By Forrest Fisher

Ever ask yourself, what’s essential in a tackle box? Most fishermen don’t think about it. Most go to the store, search available inventory, then pick out what might work to carry their selection of lures. Anglers usually do not look for separation and organization, and easy access. Now they can get all that in one tackle box. Imagine a tackle box with lure separation, easy one-look fast access, and keeps lures dry even when it’s raining, or the waves are crashing over the sidewall? Not many boxes can do all that. When visiting the Niagara Falls Outdoor Show last year, I found a new tackle box aptly named “The SpoonCrank Box.” This durable box will organize all your lures with room for 50 crankbaits or 90 spoons, or any combination of these two quantities – or more if you double up on some spaces.

The box consolidates the usual wasted tackle box air space of many other tackle boxes with divider separation and wet-protection capability. Nobody needs rusty hooks. Water cannot get into this box with the rubber seal around the inner top cover. Walleye anglers use assorted stickbaits with lots of treble hooks. Bass anglers, too, use lots of crankbaits with multiple treble hooks. They’re all sticky sharp and can catch fingers or other lures easily. The separation dividers provide isolation from travel vibrations that can wear out a shiny lure finish. Spoons big and small, a favorite lure selection for salmon and trout trollers, are aptly and safely stored for easy access in this same box.  

Done fishing? Close the cover; the lures are safe and ready for next time – tangle-free. That’s not all. The box’s top lid provides a hidden compartment for pliers, snippers, clippers, fluorocarbon leader reels, snap clamps, and various personal preference gear. In using the box for a while now, I also discovered one other option.

The “hidden compartment” sits above the lures under the handle.

If I remove some of the vertical separation panels, there is enough space to add two or three small compartment boxes (jig heads, split shot, hooks, etc., and a fishing reel or two. Yep, still all in one package. Of course, I’ve got way too many lures to do that. The box was designed to safely provide lure transportation, protection and access for the focused angler. There is no other box that can safely carry and protect 90 lures in an

organized, easy-to-find and easy-to-remove fashion. The box is high quality, durable, handsome in outdoor marine green color, fully functional, and affordable. The SpoonCrank Box helped to make me, a sometimes messy angler, appear quite organized and systematic.

While I am not usually that way, I have been trying to that my whole life! Worried about security? The box is lockable. You could chain it to your trunk or the boat deck if that was needed. The box is available in two sizes. Visit www.spooncrankbox.com to review size options or to order one.

The bottom line is that you can be a more effective and successful angler when you can find the lure and color pattern you are looking for when you need it. No wasted time.

Get out fishing with a new organized focus! I like this box.  

 

America is Rediscovering the Outdoors – RV Sales set New Records

FLORIDA KEYS, LOWER KEYS — Beach-front camping can be found throughout the Florida Keys. Campgrounds vary in size, with some capable of accommodating recreational vehicles, others only tents. Some sites offer lecture programs and guided nature walks conducted by park rangers. Photo by Bill Keogh/TDC/NewmanPR

  • Family Campfires set new pace for outdoor fun as RV Sales Skyrocket during Pandemic

By Bob Holzhei

Sales of recreational vehicles (RV’s) have skyrocketed during the pandemic, as people discover a safe way to embrace nature! Enjoying the outdoors while camping is a safe way to travel while social distancing during the post-coronavirus pandemic era.

There are a lot of first-time buyers as well as veteran campers wanting to upgrade and travel. Folks are tired of being “locked down.” Camping provides one safe way to maximize family time while controlling the environment. And yes, RVs are becoming harder to find, with companies on lockdown.

Each morning and evening, I went to the Manistee Lighthouse to capture the many moods of Lake Michigan. Bob Holzhei photo

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), recreational vehicle sales were up more than 75 percent in May of this year. Many folks are discovering the joy of tent camping while cooking meals over a campfire. There’s something intrinsically worthwhile about enjoying the outdoors and getting back to nature. The RVIA adds, “The median annual usage of RVs is increasing from 20 to 25 days per year. This increase is indicative of the changing attitudes towards remote work and the ability for more people to be able to work from a destination more frequently than traditional vacation days afforded in the past.”

The author admits, that having a fresh fish for supper is an added bonus to camping.

Outdoor activities offer many benefits. A 40-minute walk each day reduces stress and calms people. 

I’ve camped in my backyard to experience a change of scenery. Camping at home allows me to think about things I need to take along on the first camping trip of the season. A picnic around a campfire in the backyard is a great way to wind down and discover a new perspective on life while slowing the pace of life down.  

Take a walk or hike as part of your daily routine, capture the memories by taking photos and share them later with friends and family.

Our family started camping with a nine-by-nine tent, eventually upgrading to a used pop-up camper, then a used Del-Ray pickup camper, which had a foot of floor missing by the entrance door. The $600 cost of the camper was affordable, and I repaired the flooring with a piece of steel and plywood. We owned this camper for 16-years before selling it for $400 to a gentleman who wanted the furnace and stove to place in his horse trailer. Tales can be told about that stove!

Eventually, a 26-foot new trailer was purchased, which had a bathroom in it. My wife was finally pleased to have indoor plumbing. The following RV was a 34.5-foot fifth-wheel followed by a drive-around 26-foot motor coach, which now allows us to explore the Wild West.

Many healthy outdoor opportunities await discovery while slowing down the pace of life.

 

Informational resource: https://www.rvia.org

Milford Lake offers Kansas Wonderland for Giant Crappie

Joe Bragg, operator of Thump 30 fishing guide service, scouted Milford Lake for spawning crappie.

Acorns Resort (www.acornsresortkansas.com) is on the Farnum Creek arm of Milford Reservoir, offering cabins, camping, pool, and a restaurant.

By David M. Zumbaugh, images by Jon Blumb

A generous offer for a guided May crappie fishing trip on a premier reservoir in Kansas buoyed my spirits after the restraining misery of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a long-time member of the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas (OCK) has its privileges! The weather predicted for the weekend was invitingly mild, but was to be accompanied by the classic, relentless, gusting south wind. I packed an assortment of outdoor and camping gear and headed west to Milford Lake, the largest in Kansas, impounding 16,000 acres.

Milford Dam, seen from East Rolling Hills Park, which includes a swimming beach in the foreground, a playground, picnic shelters, two boat ramps, and lots of walk-in access to the water.

The first stop was an enlightening tour of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Milford Lake Fish Hatchery. Pioneering work on the propagation of striped bass, developed here, has been shared with other USA hatcheries to enhance the stocking of many lakes throughout the country, according to hatchery manager Daric Schneidwind.

Daric Schneidewind, Manager of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism’s Milford Fish Hatchery, answered questions from members of the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas.

A tour of the Milford Fish Hatchery was given to the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas by Daric Schneidewind, Manager.

Walleye and other popular sport fishes are grown and distributed from this facility to aquatic impoundments. When they mature to keeper size, they put smiles of delight on many a Kansan face.

For supper, the OCK conference group was invited to an old-fashioned fish fry at Grandpa Boone’s Cabin (www.lakemilford.com) in Milford, Kansas. Ironically, the lake was named after this city, which had to be moved to a new location as the lake was created by damning the Republican River in 1967. Brad Roether is the proprietor of Grandpa Boone’s and the nearby Milford Tropics (a great place for a “cold one”) and the Mayor of Milford too!

Outdoor Communicators of Kansas held their spring business meeting, led by President Nick Neff, at a cabin at Acorns Resort.

It was rewarding to get reacquainted with OCK pals, meet new members, and interface with Michele Stimatze from the Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mike Miller, Assistant Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, received a special award for his contributions to the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas.

After a scrumptious meal, our group gathered at Acorns Resort for more camaraderie and a “Bottled in Bond” bourbon tasting session.

Four selections of Kentucky whiskies were featured in a tasting conducted on Friday evening by member Rob McDonald.

While no one over imbibed, I doubt anyone can remember the favored rankings of selected spirits. This resort features cabins of various capacities, an RV park, yurts, boat rentals, The Cove Bar & Grill, and even an events center. A popular place for outdoor recreationists throughout the year for sure.

I arrived at my comfortable Army Corps property campsite at a reasonable hour, only to be disturbed by some happy campers until the wee hours. Unfortunate, as entrepreneur Roether promised to put me on a longbeard at an early hour the following day. He did not disappoint me. With clear eyes and intent mission, I stealthily conspired to slay a gobbler. For temptation, I placed my hen decoy in a newly planted field. 

Soon, two curious Toms espied the imposter and had a contest to see which could puff up the most disgraceful display of feathery testosterone; but the pageantry occurred just out of range. Unluckily, three white-tailed deer browsing for breakfast interrupted the ambush by wheezing and snorting, warning my quarry to safer quarters in the creek bottom. When hope for a turkey dinner faded, I dejectedly trudged out of the woods for a 9 AM rendezvous with Joe Bragg of Thump30 Guide Service (www.thump30.com) to pursue his specialty, crappies.

Photographer Jon Blumb and I were welcomed aboard Joe’s well-fitted, very comfortable boat and prepared to angle for speckled treasure. We did not have to wait long. Joe put us on fish almost immediately, and the bite was intense and frequent. With Buck’s graphite poles rigged with Z-Man jigs, the fish couldn’t resist. In just a few hours, we had enough fish in the cooler to keep us busy at the fillet table, a few whoppers exceeding two pounds.

Bucks Graphite Jig Pole, a favorite of Joe Bragg, is available in 8, 10 and 12 foot lengths.

Other OCK conference attendees were successful landing species Milford is renowned for, including smallmouth bass, walleye, and blue catfish. May is a prime time for hitting Kansas lakes, with both bank fishing and on-the-water opportunities plentiful.

Mike Miller, left, past Secretary/treasurer, received an award for service to the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas, presented by past President Brent Frazee, center, and President Nick Neff, right.

KDWP&T publishes a Fishing Atlas, providing access locations throughout the state, presenting bountiful opportunities regardless of your skill level or favorite fishy preferences. A search of the KDWP&T website will identify kids fishing clinics, always a novel way to introduce youth to the outdoors.

Kansas in spring is a wonderland. Hiking and biking trails abound, along with other popular outdoor pursuits. Paddle sports (kayaks and paddle boards) are gaining momentum with rentals available at various locations, including Council Grove Marina.

Saturday’s creel of crappie, from the boat guided by Joe Bragg, was ready to be cleaned and chilled at Grandpa Boone’s Cabin in Milford, Kansas.

Joe Bragg stretched one of his favorite favorite crappie baits, the Z-Man jig, to demonstrate its amazing strength.

Mushroom hunting in eastern Kansas can be outrageously good. May is a key month for bird migration, and all habitat types are represented, from deciduous forests and marshes to arid grasslands.

More than 450 species have been confirmed in Kansas. Did I mention wild turkeys? While fishing at Milford, bald eagles were competing with us, noisily complaining about our success.

So, get outside and take a field trip to the Sunflower State soon.

Contact Info:

Rare Gulf Sturgeon caught in the Surf – near Orange Beach, Alabama

David A. Rose with a rare Gulf sturgeon caught in the surf at Orange Beach, Alabama.

  • Weighing 120-130 pounds, the rare fish fought for 40-minutes, was landed, then was carefully unhooked, and safely released alive and well.
  • Gear: Penn Battle II – 5000 series spinning reel, 8-ft Penn Battle II surf fishing rod, 20-lb Silver Thread mono, 40-lb test shock leader, and a Dusty Hayes Pomp Rig w-1/0 Circle hooks.
  • Secret: Live ½ shrimp bait, wrapped to hook w/Atlas Mike’s Spawn Net & Magic Thread.

Story by the angler, David A. Rose

When it comes to surf fishing the freshwater beaches of the Great Lakes and inland lakes near my home in the Traverse City, MI area, I can usually hold my own. On the other hand, when it comes to casting and proper fishing in saltwater, I’m an apprentice.

Ever so slowly, though, I learn something new about surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The sugar-sand near Orange Beach, AL, provided the fun. The date was March 6, 2021, and my regular morning catch included the usual whiting, croakers, flounder, Gofftopsail catfish, and the like. Then at about 11:35, one of my two rods signaled another tell-tale hit. The day was about to change! About 40-minutes later, after coming close to spooling me twice, this fish, a Gulf sturgeon over 6-feet in length – a fish with prehistoric roots – was tailed, beached, and released.

This particular fish—one of the rarest species on earth and protected by the Endangered Species Act–would likely have been the all-time world-record catch for hook and line. No one on hand recorded any official length or girth before the behemoth was unhooked and freed to swim away, no worse for wear. I didn’t want to take any chances of injuring the fish.

To get an idea of the sturgeon’s length, I spread out my arms—which have a span of about 6 feet. The nose and tail of the fish were both well beyond my reach. I tried rolling the fish over to remove the hook from its mouth, but it was too heavy. The fish was on the sand, it was impossible to move the fish without possibly harming it, and I estimated that it weighed 120 – 130 pounds. It wasn’t until a large rogue wave rolled in that I was able to gain enough leeway to swing the tail so it could swim out. It still had the hook secured in the mouth, but thankfully, it could swim out, taking about another 100 feet of line with it. I reeled the giant in once more, this time to water about 2 feet deep. That’s when the fish could be turned belly up, and I was able to finally remove the hook.

The rig I used was a hand-tied “Dusty’s Pomp Rig – 2/Drop,” with multi-colored floats made by Dusty Hayes of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, of Orange Beach, AL. The fish ate half of a live shrimp that I purchased from nearby Lost Bay Tackle & Guide Service and I had wrapped with Atlas Mike’s Spawn Net & Magic Thread in orange color.

The fish ate half of a live shrimp purchased from Lost Bay Tackle & Guide Service in Orange Beach that I had wrapped with Atlas Mike’s Spawn Net & Magic Thread. It’s a neat trick that kept the bait tight to the hook during the cast, allowing the scent and sight of the bait to work as it should. The rig was a hand-tied “Dusty’s Pomp Rig – 2/Drop,” with multi-colored floats made by Dusty Hayes of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, also of Orange Beach. The rig is comprised of 20-pound-test Momoi Diamond monofilament and size-1/0 Mustad circle hooks. I fished the rig in the building surf with a 4-ounce pyramid sinker.

The rig is comprised of 20-pound-test Momoi Diamond monofilament and size-1/0 Mustad circle hooks. Mamoi photo

As for my gear, the reel was a 5000 Penn Battle II spinning reel spooled with 20-pound-test Silver Thread AN-40 monofilament, tied up a 20-foot shock leader of 40-pound-test Berkley Big Game mono. I used a Uni-to-Uni knot to bring those lines together. The rod was an 8-foot graphite moderate-fast-action Penn Battle II surf spinning rod rated for 12- to 25-pound mono. As a combination rig, it was enough to subdue the goliath.

Before getting a good look at the fish, there was no doubt in my mind that I had hooked some species of shark. But when its back broke the surface, there was no dorsal fin. By the time the fish was reeled in, over 100 spectators had gathered. When the fish started to tire, an onlooker—who, it was obvious, had some knowledge of fishing—tried tailing it for me. The armor plating of the fish was too slick. So, I asked my wife, Carol, to hand him my Rapala Fisherman’s Gloves. These allowed him to get a firm grip. That’s when the Sturgeon was able to be beached.

An educated guess, at the time, had me thinking the fish was an endangered species. So, I made sure the head and gills stayed in the surf while I posed for a very quick photo and checked for any tags. None of the latter were found.

Earlier that day, I had chosen my casts in the 2- to 3-foot surf along a section of a riptide that was flowing into the Gulf, thinking it would be an area fish would congregate to forage on bait wafting out with the current. My guess was correct. This particular fish was hooked out front of the Phoenix VI condominiums, about ½ mile west of the Perdido Pass jetty.

Gulf Sturgeon reside in the Mississippi Delta and east along Florida’s Gulf side. Via social media, a few people stated they’ve seen Sturgeon breaching at the mouth of Perdido Pass. After another post about this catch on the Alabama Gulf Coast Surf Fishing Facebook page, I hoped that local biologists might become aware of the catch. The ploy worked.

I discovered that the Gulf sturgeon is an anadromous fish (living in saltwater but spawning in freshwater). “Overall, these rare fish spawn in the freshwater rivers of the Gulf region in spring,” says Jeff Powell, assistant field supervisor from the Alabama Ecological Services Field Office for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Powell added, “Our studies are showing there may be a few that migrate and spawn in the fall, as well. The Gulf sturgeon you landed is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime catch.”

The one thing I love most about fishing saltwater? You never know what species you’ll hook next. This fish, a species so rare to even see let alone catch, is proof of that.

Branson Fishing Lakes rank among BEST-IN-AMERICA

The Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas includes fishing hotspot waters, including Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake.

  • World class fishing is found everyday in the famous Tri-Lakes region of southwest Missouri.
  • Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake & Bull Shoals Lake offer trout, bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, perch and more.
  • Visitors discover affordable family fun, family fishing, family entertainment and restful accommodations. 

Big trout live here, including this 40-pound 6-ounce Missouri State Record Brown Trout from Lake Taneycomo.

By Larry Whiteley

Where can you go and fish three different lakes for 23 different species of fish in one trip? The answer is Branson, Missouri. Located in the famous Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas, this family fishing hotspot includes Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. All have been ranked among the best fishing lakes in America. In 2018, Branson was named #1 in ”Top 10 Lake Towns,” then in 2020 was ranked #2 in ”Top Affordable U.S. Lake Towns” by www.realtor.com.

Wrapping around the eastern border of Branson is Lake Taneycomo, renown as the “Trout Capital of America.” It is internationally known for world-class rainbow and brown trout fishing. The Missouri state record brown trout was broken twice in 2019 with a 34-pound 10-ounce fish, followed seven months later with a 40-pound 6-ounce brown. The world record is 42 pounds 1 ounce and was caught in New Zealand. In 1997, a dead brown trout was found floating in Taneycomo that was 41.75 inches long, and based on those measurements, it would have weighed over 44 pounds. Will the next world record come from Lake Taneycomo? The fabulous trout fishing is not the only great fishing that Taneycomo offers. The diverse fishery also features catfish, crappie, bass, sunfish and walleye that all thrive in the cold, nutrient-rich waters.

Massive fish thrive in the Tri-Lakes region, like this 65-pound 10-ounce Missouri State Record Striped Bass from Bull Shoals Lake.

Tasty yellow perch are among colorful fish to be caught here. This 2-pound 7-ounce Yellow Perch was taken from Bull Shoals Lake, it’s a Missouri State Record.

Table Rock Lake is also a big part of the fishing and fun in the Branson area, with shorelines covering both Missouri and Arkansas. When I say big, I do mean BIG! The 43,100-acre reservoir has excellent bass fishing year-round and is annually ranked in Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes listing. If you have dreamed of catching the “Triple Crown of Bass” (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), this is the place you could make it happen. White bass are also in these waters, so I guess if you caught one of them along with the other three, you would have a “Grand Slam of Bass.” There are also a limited number of striped bass, but I have no idea what you would call it if you caught one along with the other four. A miracle, I guess, and something you can tell your grandkids about. In addition to all the bass species available in Table Rock waters, there are also white and black crappie, walleye, goggle-eye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, carp, bluegill and longear sunfish. If you are into catching something really different, Table Rock is also home to ancient paddlefish.

Bull Shoals Lake is a short drive from Branson, and like Table Rock, is in both Missouri and Arkansas. It, too, is nationally known for its excellent bass fishing. Largemouth weighing up to 12-pounds have been caught here. There is also hybrid bass, smallmouth bass spotted bass, stripe bass, and white bass too. Bull Shoals is not known for hybrid bass, but a local angler recently caught a state record 29-pound 1-ounce hybrid that might very well also be a line-class world record if it passes all the judging criteria. A 65-pound, 10-ounce state record striped bass was also taken from these waters. Bull Shoals is also nationally recognized as a fabulous walleye lake. The Missouri state record at 21-pounds, 1-ounce came from Bull Shoals. Crappie fishing is also popular and, if you’re into catfishing, there’s plenty of those too. There are a limited number of rainbow trout and a few of the historic paddlefish here. Another fish in Bull Shoals, and conservation folks are not sure how they got there, is the yellow perch. This species is very popular in America’s northern lakes and in Canadian waters. The Missouri state record is 2-pounds, 7-ounces, which is a good size for this good-tasting cousin of the walleye.

Besides fishing, there are many family fun things to do in this beautiful area of America. Go to www.explorebranson.com and check it all out for yourself, then come explore all that Branson, Missouri has to offer for fishermen and families. For additional information regarding travel or accommodations, you may also  contact the Branson Visitors Bureau by phone: 1-800-296-0463 . 

Wes Logan, Local Pro, Gets First Bassmaster Elite Series Victory At Neely Henry Lake

Wes Logan, of Springville, Ala., has won the 2021 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake with a four-day total of 57 pounds, 9 ounces.  Photo by James Overstreet/B.A.S.S.

In Gadsden, Alabama — Wes Logan said memories came flooding back to him throughout the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake.  That’s bound to happen when you’ve fished a place since you were 5 years old.

Logan now has countless new reasons to think fondly of his home water after claiming the tournament title here on Championship Monday. The 26-year-old from Springville, only a 30-mile drive from the Gadsden City Boat Docks, caught a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 57 pounds, 9 ounces. He capped the competition with a 14-1 limit Monday, the third-heaviest of the day.

Logan earned $100,000 for the win, his first in 26 B.A.S.S. events.

The second-year Elite Series angler charged into the lead on Day 3 with a 16-15 bag that tied for the heaviest of the tournament. That made him the last man to weigh in Monday and the only one with a chance to knock Connecticut pro Paul Mueller from the hot seat.

Logan peeked silently at the scale while his bass were weighed. When his winning total flashed on screen, he let out a victorious yell and pumped his right fist over his head. Then he hugged Mueller and hoisted his first blue trophy for his home-based fans to see.

“I started tournament fishing with my dad when I was 5,” Logan said. “We’d come here, Logan Martin and Weiss … I went into practice trying to not put pressure on myself. I wanted to fish like I’d never seen the place before. I wanted to figure out a pattern.”

Having an open mind, even on water he knows so well, was critical this week. Neely Henry was a difficult read for most of the 98 anglers who started the tournament on Friday, postponed by a day because of heavy rains earlier in the week. The storms sent the water table rising and shot sediment throughout the lake. The Elites scrambled to find stable water, many relying on junk fishing to see which lures and techniques produced the best bites.

A trio of lures worked best for Logan — a 5/8-ounce Dirty Jigs Matt Herren flipping jig (black/blue skirt) with a Zoom Big Salty sapphire blue Chunk; a Dirty Jigs No Jack swim jig with a Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer; and a frog, which he used to fill his Day 3 limit.

Logan started the tournament strongly, putting 14-1 on the board Friday, good enough for ninth place. He caught 12-8 on Day 2, climbing to eighth and surviving the cut to 48. He made his move on Day 3 with the 16-5 haul, pointing to a pair of unusual catches as the turning point.

“I caught two bass under a bridge right by the Gadsden City Boat Docks on a crankbait,” he said “I’m not a crankbait fisherman. It was about 11:30, and I only had two keepers at the time. But I caught a 2 1/2 there, and then two casts later, I caught a 5 1/4. I only got one more bite that day.

“When you get that kind of bite when you’re not supposed to, that let me know I had a chance to win. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen all the time.”

Logan didn’t divulge specifics on the crankbait, other than to say it’s specially painted, similar to a black/chartreuse combo.

“I keep that one in my hand around here,” he said. “It’s a confidence thing.”

Logan planned to fish down-lake from the start, but low water in that area made him choose otherwise. Each of the 20 bass he weighed was caught between Cove Creek and Minnesota Bend — both only a 10-minute run from the Gadsden City Boat Docks.

Mueller, meanwhile, went straight for the lower end of Neely Henry and found success. He seized the lead after Day 2 and was in second place going into Day 4, trailing Logan by just more than a pound. Mueller caught the heaviest bass of the tournament Monday, a 6-6 largemouth, but his 13-13 closing weight wasn’t enough to overtake Logan.

“My pattern went away today and I knew that would be the deal,” Mueller said. “I had to fish new water. I was able to catch some fish, and I had a good day. I’m glad at the way this turned out. As short as the morning bite was, I could have been sitting in sixth or seventh right now.”

Mueller caught his best bass, including the 6-6, on a Deps Evoke 2.0 squarebill crankbait (chartreuse/brown back). He earned an additional $2,000 for having the Phoenix Boats Big Bass on Day 4 and overall.

Alabama native Gerald Swindle caught the second-heaviest bag on Day 4 (a 15-0 limit) and finished third with 54-2 overall.

Mueller took home an additional $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and fourth-place finisher Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Logan earned $4,000 for winning while Christie claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

Minnesota pro Seth Feider finished 12th in the derby and didn’t qualify for Championship Monday, but he still left Gadsden with a commanding lead in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. His season total of 525 points gives him a 41-point cushion over Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., (484) with three tournaments remaining.

Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., is third with 464, followed by Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, with 462 and Christie with 457.

Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., is leading the Rookie of the Year standings with 372 points.

The City of Gadsden and the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism hosted the event.

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Rapala

2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partner: AFTCO

About B.A.S.S. – B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk

Sandbar Pompano at Sanibel…During Spring Break!

Sanibel Island sandbar Pompano. Shelley Crant Photo

  • The tide flow is key for picking WHEN to fish.
  • The place WHERE to fish can change from day-to-day. Newly formed sandbars and emerging weed flats hold both – baitfish and predators.
  • Fish often hold to the current boundaries- FIND them, find the feeding fish

Shelley Crant shares, “Fishing lightweight jigs with the right retrieve, the right place – that my husband seems to able to find on every trip, can result in tasty Pompano near Sanibel Island.” Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

There is nothing so fun as going fishing with friends when the fish are biting! When chilling inshore winter waters begin to transition to their annual warming trend in spring, coastal species of many saltwater varieties take note. On the incoming tide, it’s feeding time! 

Fishing near Sanibel Island and Fort Myers, a slow boat ride at low tide with polarized sunglasses will often reveal newly-formed grass flats and sandbars. Holding hotspots for baitfish and predator species know that. The island and beach areas are constantly changing with winter wind and the related current flow changes. As March begins, new grass is growing on the flats, and that draws even more baitfish.

We were rigged with lightweight jigs targeting Pompano on this day. Add a 7-ft medium-action spinning rod, 30-series open-face reel filled with 15-20 pound braid, and a short 3-ft length of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader – we were set for inshore fishing magic of any sort. The new YoZuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon leader has proven it is tough and abrasion resistant, and it’s essentially invisible to the fish. 

Heading out to fish, Dan said that there are several places where all boats are required to slow down to allow Manatee safe passage. There are so many more boats today than 30 years ago, it’s a good idea.” Forrest Fisher Photo

With the Sanibel Lighthouse in the near distance, our drift started in just 2-feet of water. We were within casting distance of small slots and caverned hollows in the sand where the water looked about 3-5 feet deep. The water was crystal clear.

Dan dropped the bow motor down and kept the boat angled. All four of us would have a primetime chance to cast alongside the depth break line and into the swift current edge occurring with the onrushing tide. We could hear beachgoers enjoying the clear water and warm sand in the far distance.  

Shelley took the first cast, and before the lure went 5-feet, she smiled and said, there’s a fish! Using a ¼ ounce silly jig with a little sparkle fly that Dan had added to the rig, we all watched as the rod bend seemed to dance to the music from the beach. A minute later, Shelley was smiling with an ear-to-ear grin as she brought aboard a 2-foot long Ladyfish. “Oops, guess they’re here too! They’re fun to catch!” She unhooked and released the fish that many consider an excellent baitfish for other saltwater species. 

All the fish we caught, like this beautiful speckled trout, were carefully handled and safely released alive and well. Forrest Fisher Photo

A minute or two later, Dan hooked a beautiful speckled trout of about 25-inches. We were releasing all the fish today, except for Pompano, the one legal species we had planned to keep for the day.

In the next hour, among the four of us, including my better half, Rose, we had caught 18 fish among five species, but no Pompano yet. A local expert, Dan whispered in his ever-humble voice that we might have to move out just a bit, but not too far – a few hundred yards or so, to find the Pomp’s. Finding a similar bottom area with subtle drop-offs that went from 4 to 7 feet along several sandbars, we started a new drift. In the next hour working that area, we caught another 20 fish. Among these were Spanish Mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Speckled Trout, Lizardfish, two different species of Blowfish, and, yes, Pompano. 

Dolphins – not a usual friend of anglers, seem to chase predator fish away as they feed on baitfish in the same areas we fished. Didn’t affect our catch rate! Forrest Fisher Photo

Jigs from 1/4 oz to 1/2oz were among our best artificial baits for the day. Forrest Fisher Photo

Dan was casting a ½ ounce chartreuse color jig, Rose was using a 3/8 ounce in solid pink, Shelley was tossing a ¼ ounce in pink/white, I had a two-tone chartreuse/white jig in the 3/8 ounce size. We all caught fish. Rose said, “I’ve never seen so many fish caught in such a short time! This is fun,” and grinning while she added a new whining joke-tone, “But now I’m getting sore arms.” We all laughed. Shelley said, “That means this has been a great trip!” Dan said, “Well, it’s almost noon, about time to head back. Is everybody up for one more pass?” Indeed, we were.

Shelley’s pink/white jig was the hot bait for the day, including for the Pompano. Her finesse method allowed the lure to sink slowly to the bottom of the deeper edge areas, then flipping her rod quickly upright about 1-foot or so, in vertical jig motion, then reeling in a few feet of line to let the jig drop again and repeating the action all the way to the boat.

The lightweight braid allowed for long-distance casting, and the heavy-duty leader allowed for surprising durability as we caught fish after fish. It was a blast!

Coated with choice of sour cream or mayonnaise, then covered with a mix of bread crumbs and spices, 4-minutes in the microwave is all that is necessary for a perfect, healthy, fish dinner. Forrest Fisher Photo

Inland waterway charter fishing trips are not expensive here in Lee County, Florida. We had used lightweight lures, fishing specifically for the sight-feeding Pompano. Still, we had also caught so many other species – that is a testament to the clean waters found here. On one drift, we were treated to watch surface-feeding Tarpon – that happened on two separate occasions with two different fish. It was amazing. Such big fish! Then on another pass, a 10-foot long Manatee came in, swimming right under and alongside the boat in the shallow water we were fishing. That was another thrill! 

There is nothing like a healthy ladyfish for a lady fisherwoman to add some fighting fun to the end of your fishing line! Forrest Fisher Photo

Fishing, sunshine, clear-clean water, giant Tarpon, Manatee, beach sounds of fun in the distance. Sound good? It was! If you’re looking for a place to stay, a guide to fish with, or a pristine beach to visit for the fun of finding the treasure of seashells and fossilized shark teeth, check this link: https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/order-travelers-guide, or call toll-free, 1-800-237-6444. Ask for their free guidebook. The pictures in it are amazing.

Invite yourself and your family to this party.

Carefully releasing fish we caught was part of our conservation-minded fishing trip. The future is in our hands. Forrest Fisher Photo

 

Ducks and Gators forge new Wetlands Preserve Partnership

Photo by the Late Joe Forma, a life-long supporter of wildlife conservation.

  • Ducks Unlimited and the University of Florida work together for conservation at the DeLuca Preserve
  • Land donated to the University of Florida by Elisabeth Deluca

Photo by the Late Joe Forma, a life-long supporter of wildlife conservation.

Thanks to the tremendous generosity of Elisabeth DeLuca, more than 27,000 acres of iconic Florida prairie and wetlands habitat have been permanently protected through a unique partnership between Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the University of Florida.

The land was donated to the University of Florida by Elisabeth Deluca, and a conservation easement was set up through DU’s land trust – Wetlands America Trust. The easement will protect important wildlife habitat and natural values on the property in perpetuity.

“This Kissimmee Prairie landscape is in the Everglades headwaters, yet at the edge of central Florida’s tourism and development core and is now a permanently protected piece of the conservation puzzle,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “For generations to come, students and researchers will make new discoveries alongside migrating waterfowl, endangered red cockaded woodpeckers and grasshopper sparrows on this massive outdoor laboratory. Future ranchers, water-fowlers, nature lovers and wildlife scientists will be able to apply what they’ve read in textbooks to what they’re observing on the landscape, thanks to Elisabeth DeLuca. This partnership between the University of Florida and Ducks Unlimited benefits waterfowl, wildlife and millions of Floridians who value clean water and the protection of the natural landscape.”

This property will continue to be grazed using sustainable methods, thereby protecting its grasslands, one of the most threatened ecosystems in the country. Rates of grassland conversion in the U.S. have continued at a rapid pace, with a significant portion lost to non-agricultural uses.

“Elisabeth DeLuca’s generous contribution of such a significant property is a gift to all Floridians and really, to people everywhere,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “The preservation of this land and what it will enable our scholars to learn, teach and achieve will reverberate around the globe.”

Through a multi-faceted partnership, DU and the University of Florida will utilize the property for education, outdoor engagement and working-lands conservation, including the training of future generations of natural resource and agriculture professionals in a living laboratory. The easement serves as a perfect launching pad for Ducks Unlimited’s expanding conservation programs in Florida. While this is the first conservation easement held by DU and WAT in Florida, DU has conserved more than 33,000 acres in the state through other programs. This easement is also the largest in the history of Ducks Unlimited.

“Located between a global tourism destination, with the Turnpike as a boundary, the DeLuca Preserve is an epic win for conservation, and an international model for research, education and outreach,” Putnam said.

This property, along with other state and federal lands, comprise 250,000 acres of protected areas of the Northern Everglades Headwaters which is an important ecosystem for wildlife corridors, watershed protection, flood mitigation and endangered species habitat. Livestock grazing is a highly compatible and economically important management strategy on this landscape.

The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund provided critical funding via the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to help endow Ducks Unlimited’s permanent conservation easement and other costs associated with this once-a-generation gift of land.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Ducks Unlimited and the University of Florida to help conserve this outstanding habitat, which will serve as a national model showcasing how wildlife management, water conservation and ranching can thrive together,” said Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. “We are grateful to our customers who, by rounding up purchases in our stores and online to the Outdoor Fund, directly support key conservation projects like this.”

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved almost 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.

Colored Egg Sacs and Mag-Lip Lures catching fish in Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario

Dave Mika of Tonawanda, NY, with a lake trout he caught while fishing out of Olcott.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, March 31, 2021 from Destination Niagara USA

Capt. Ryan Shea of Tonawanda, NY, with a Niagara Bar lake trout. 

Happy Easter! April 1 is the traditional opener of the state’s inland trout fishing season. Of course, this does not include Great Lakes tributaries (they are open all year). However, it does include Gill Creek, Hyde Park Lake and Oppenheim Park Pond. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the state will not be announcing a specific time and date for when fish will be stocked. One way to keep tabs is to call the fish stocking hotline at 358-2050 to see when fish are stocked after the fact. They are usually stocked the first week in April. The NYPA Fishing Platform, including the elevator and the fish cleaning station, should be open starting April 1. Check the hotline at 286-6662 to see the status. The upper reservoir and the water intakes in the upper river are both open as well. Some mixed smelt reports in the lower river. We heard of one decent report prior to the water changing color, but most are coming up empty. Water temps are good and there are an awful lot of lanterns on the Canadian shoreline across the river.

Dave Mika of Tonawanda, NY, with a lake trout he caught while fishing out of Olcott.

Water clarity took a serious hit in the Niagara River after the wind and rain last week. With more wind and rain in the forecast, it will continue to have an impact on fishing success. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he was down in the gorge this week and found 1-1/2 feet of visibility. He did manage to catch a small female steelhead using an orange/chartreuse No. 5 spinner. There should be some fresh fish around when the water starts to clear. Boaters have really been struggling, but a few fish have been caught on live bait like minnows and plugs like MagLips. Brightly colored egg sacs are also producing a fish here and there, which is what Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston was using last weekend down river Anthony Gomez Jr. and Sr. from West Seneca. Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston found some steelhead in Devil’s Hole.

For Lake Ontario, the kings are starting to hit off St. Catharines, Ontario, according to reports this week, which means it will not be long before kings will find their way off the Niagara Bar, Wilson, and Olcott.

Mark Mika of Newfane reports that he wanted to share some early season action out of Olcott. He boated 15 Lakers, all big healthy fish, fishing with his brother Dave of Tonawanda and Paul Karelus of Williamsville. They were fishing in 60 to 65 feet of water between Olcott and Somerset using spoons and homemade body baits. A dozen were taken on an old Sammy Pac 07 that he repurposed for some added fun.

Capt. Richard Brant of Tonawanda was out on the Niagara Bar fishing for lakers this week and he got into them well trolling east in 65-75 feet of water on spoons with chartreuse and gold colors.

Evan Dietter of Ancramdale, NY, with a lake trout he caught in the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston.

Todd Ceisner with In-Fisherman was out trying to jig up bass and lake trout last week while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell in the river and out in Lake Ontario. He pulled a walleye from the river that was released immediately, and then had several hits on lake trout using a jig tipped with a plastic smelt imitation. Swim baits worked the best.

Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports that steelhead fishing has been good at Burt Dam. Egg sacs or egg imitations like beads. Action was good off the piers but slowed after recent storm activity.

Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane,NY, with a big Lake Ontario lake trout he caught off Olcott.

Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters to his first smallmouth of the year last weekend with some customers. After that last rain, lake run trout are dropping back and out of the system while smallmouth have started moving in. It is a slow pick of scattered singles in the tributaries now.

The Niagara County Bullhead Tournament is coming up April 9-11. This is a shore fishing only event, with anglers vying for the best 2 bullheads total weight to win the prizes. The contest starts at 5 p.m. on April 9. Weigh in on April 11 at the Wilson Conservation Club from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. when the tourney ends. For more info call Eric at 628-6078.

 

Frank Campbell – Director, Outdoor Promotions

Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
We know that brighter days are ahead. Until then, let us be your destination of hope. Click here for our video message.

At Niagara Falls, USA – Steelhead Bite is Good, but use Long, Clear Leaders

Gary Hall of Niagara Falls with a chunky lower Niagara River steelhead caught over the weekend. Capt. Frank Campbell photo

  • Niagara River is fishable, clear water and mild temps beckon to attract more angler action
  • Longer fluorocarbon leaders help get Steelhead bites for boaters.
  • Smaller Lake Ontario tributaries of Niagara County, NY are holding trout when weather allows shore angler access
  • Fishing Forecast for March 17, 2021 from Destination Niagara USA

Kerry Dillon of New Jersey caught this fine steelhead in the lower Niagara River this week fishing with Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island. 

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

With the arrival of spring this coming Saturday, March 20, it will not be long before area foliage will be turning green. We have more mild temperatures in the forecast and there are rumblings that the ice boom off Buffalo may be coming out soon – another sure sign of Spring.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught 3 nice steelhead like this one using a No. 4 spinner on Tuesday. 

In the Niagara River, action has been tough due to clear water conditions. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reiterated that, combined with some cold north winds making fishing that much more difficult.

From shore, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reported 7 to 8 feet of water clarity on Tuesday, and he used No. 4 spinners to take 3 steelhead in a couple of hours.

In boats, Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he has been out twice the past week and that bucktail jigs have been really working well for chrome, catching two rainbows and a steelhead in the Whirlpool and beyond. In some back eddy pockets, water is crazy clear at 6 feet plus. Down river of the power plant it is a little more stained, but still clear. All these days with the southwest and west wind gusts have been making it tough to drift bounce. Jigs in orange and white and all-white jigs have been working for Ziehm. Water seems to be getting clearer with each passing day.

It has been a bit tough for the boaters, according to Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston. Minnows were working well for him over the weekend on Saturday. With super clear conditions, extend your leader a bit longer and use fluorocarbon line. Smaller hooks when using egg sacs or minnows will help with hook-ups. Sunday it was a different story as fishing became much tougher.

The Niagara Bar has been yielding some brown trout and lake trout when the north wind is not blowing.

Clint Bentley of Rochester caught a couple big steelhead in the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston. 

Remember that walleye season is now closed. It reopens on May 1.

Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that some of the smaller tributaries along Lake Ontario are holding trout. Steelhead fishing at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek has been decent according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Egg sacs or egg imitations are good baits to start with.

The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will be getting their salmon and trout pens ready for DEC stocking on March 27 at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott starting at 9:30 a.m. Normally they would ready the pens the first weekend in April, but that is Easter weekend this year. Bring wire cutters.

On another note, the first week in April is normally when Hyde Park Lake and Oppenheim Park Pond are stocked with trout by DEC, but there will not be a formal announcement prior to the stocking to avoid crowds due to Covid. These waterways will be stocked some time in early April.

Frank Campbell – Director, Outdoor Promotions

Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
We know that brighter days are ahead. Until then, let us be your destination of hope.

Shipwreck Fishing in Southwest Florida – Red Grouper and Snapper Fun

Red Grouper fun in Southwest Florida. Rod, reels, rigs and how.

  • Fish: Red Grouper, Lane Snapper, Vermillion Snapper….30+ miles out
  • Rig: 200# test braid, 80# fluoro leader, 10-oz slip-sinker, 9/0 Gamakatsu Circle Hook
  • Bait: live shrimp, live sand perch, frozen squid, frozen ballyhoo

Nick Weaver with one of the healthy red grouper we landed while fishing not far from a sunken offshore shipwreck.

By Forrest Fisher

The hi-energy growl of the 400 Hp Mercury Verado coming out of the hole is a beautiful sound. As we departed the Placida boat launch, Nick Weaver brought the flared high-bow of his 26-ft Caymas (boat) up to plane quickly. We were soon skipping along at a humble 25 miles per hour in Lemon Bay and then made the turn west as we slid past Little Gasparilla Island into the Gulf of Mexico.

Controlled boat positioning is among primary keys to offshore bottom-fishing success.

It was a relatively calm day. The open seas forecast of one to three feet looked good as Nick moved the throttle forward and kicked the boat into high speed. I looked over to fishing partner, Marty Poli; he had a broad smile on his face as we both reversed our hats, rims to the rear. The boat came to cruising speed as Nick set the Raymarine electronics to autopilot for the destination 36 miles out: the Bayronto shipwreck. After surviving a U-boat torpedo attack in 1917, the 400-foot-long Bayronto ship went down during a hurricane while traveling to Tampa in 1918. In our modern times, more than 100 years later, the fuselage has become a fish-attracting magnet for anglers (and divers) that make the offshore trip. Forage and predators abound! Nick still had to consider the gently rolling swells that were about 200-feet apart on this calm day, so he slowed the boat down to 35 mph. Even at that, it didn’t take long to get there.

We all talked on the way out. Nick shared rig details, gear options and what we had for bait selections. Then he offered the fish plan to identify our goals.  We were going to first focus on the wreck for yellowtail snapper, after that, the bottom-feeding, reef-dwelling, red grouper. If time allowed, we would then target amberjack after that. We all grinned a bit as he said,” Why not? We have the whole day!”

The plan was to stop short of the wreck to catch live sand perch, known locally as squirrel fish, for bait. In 88 feet of water, Nick deployed the MinnKota Ulterra, and we zeroed in on the bottom for a bait school. Hitting anchor lock, the boat stopped and stabilized, maintaining our location. We delved into the bait well, where there was 18-dozen beautiful live shrimp (TNT Bait & Tackle, El Jobean, FL). Cutting the shrimp in half, we used lighter Penn rods equipped with open-face Penn Fiarce II 5000 series reels, 65# braid, 35# fluoro leader, 3 oz hot-pink hog ball (Captain Chappy).

After we caught some bait, along with some vermillion snapper, lane snapper, and other species like blowfish and remora, we moved onto the wreck. It was time to the Penn Battle II 6000 series rod and reel, 80# braid, 40# fluoro, 6 oz slip-sinker, 3/0 Gamakatsu circle hook (Fish’n Frank’s Bait and Tackle, Port Charlotte, FL).

On a sunny day without shore in sight, we enjoyed many fun moments of “Fish On!”

On the first drop, I had removed the shell from half-a-tail of shrimp – an old friend told me that the fish will eat that no-shell shrimp bait faster – from pure scent attraction. It hit bottom in short order. Not 5-seconds later, I held the rod in my hand when the rod tip dipped swiftly into the water from a vicious strike. I yelled, “Fish on!” The reel drag was pretty tight but was screaming. The fish was swimming so fast, going away in the opposite direction. It was a throbbing, bobbing action on the rod tip. My hands were wet from the shrimp and I was worried about the rod slipping away. I gripped the rod tighter as this fish was massive in strength. Nick hollered, “You got a big mangrove snapper! There might be amberjack here, you might have one of those.” A few moments later, the line snapped, my fish was gone. My heart was beating so fast! “Ugh,” I groaned. “I lost it.” Nick said, “Reel in Forrest, let’s see what she did.” The brand new Spectra braided line was sheared and was ragged at the breakpoint where the fish had apparently headed for the safety of the wreck on the bottom. “Whatever you had, it was huge,” Nick added.” We’ve got lots more hooks and sinkers, tie one on.” This was going to be a fun fishing day!

We moved from that spot to stop at three different places before finding what Nick called “live bottom.:

Here we discovered a rock-hard bottom (w/coral-like caves) surrounded by bottom growth all around the spot, and, of course, this was home for a large school of red grouper and various multiple snapper species.

After you locate a “live-bottom,” maybe the most challenging part of the fishing plan, enjoy the catching. Once you find such a spot, save the GPS location to your electronic memory.

We switched fishing rigs to level-wind Penn Fathom II line-counter reels (FTHII30LWLC) with matching Penn Carnage II rods (Fish’n Frank’s Bait & Tackle, Port Charlotte, FL). Our connection to the fish was not fragile. The reels were filled with 200# test braid, with a 10-ounce slip-sinker to a 200# swivel, then a 5-foot long 80# Yozuri fluorocarbon leader, all terminating to a 9/0 Gamakatsu circle hook. Nice rig. So powerful. We would discover that this rod-reel rig was such a powerful workhorse set up as we hooked and landed more than 50 fish in the next 3 hours.

A 10-ounce slip-sinker, 200# swivel, and a 9/0 Gamakatsu circle hook…that was the hot rig.

The target fish (red grouper) were big, were plentiful, and the best part, they were hungry. It didn’t take long before we ran out of our live bait perch, but Nick’s emergency backup planning paid off with his last-second find of frozen ballyhoo (10-12 inches) at the bait shop. These worked as good as our diminished supply of live sand perch.

We each kept our fish limits, and thanks to Nick’s knowledge and investment in an air bladder venting tool (www.oherofishing.com) and a descending device called a SeaQualizer (https://seaqualizer.com/product/seaqualizer-descending-device/), we also safely released everything else to live another day. With the fish we kept, Nick provided colored plastic tie-wraps to identify whose fish was theirs and make it easy to remove the harvested fish from the fish well – it saves the fingertips. Saltwater fish have big sharp teeth.

The venting tool allows the angler to simply expel the fish’s air bladder so it can swim back to the bottom. The SeaQualizer is equipped with a jaw clamp that connects to the fish and allows the fish to be securely descended and safely released at a predetermined depth of 50, 100 or 150 feet using a secondary fishing line rig with a heavyweight. All that without venting the air bladder. Conservation at its finest!

The venting tool was used to exhaust the bloated air bladders to allow the fish to swim back to bottom in the deep water.

As the sea winds began to change direction and kick up a bit, we decided to stow the Ulterra and head home for a fun time of fish-cleaning. We had a healthy supply of fish to fillet. Nothing can replace the fun (and sweat) of reeling in these hard-fighting red grouper. Our legal grouper limits of fish ran from 23 to 27 inches in size and were quite heavy.

Vermillion snapper, lane snapper and other species were among the catch.

The grouper fillet slabs were about two-inches thick, and my wife suggested we slice them in half to make grouper sandwiches. We vacuum-packed the slab harvest of grouper and snapper to keep them unspoiled for future delicacy meals.

The moral of this story is simple: Use adequate gear (rods/reels/line/MinnKota Ulterra) without disturbing the bottom.

After you locate a “live-bottom,” maybe the most challenging part of the fishing plan, enjoy the catching! Once you find such a spot, save the GPS location to your electronic memory. Tried and true deep holes are usually repeatable all year long. Some of the best spots are rocky, snag-filled and rough in structure content. Use new leaders and replace them often. Remember that fluorocarbon leaders are much more durable than braided line. Don’t believe that? Ask Josh Olive, charter captain and publisher of the weekly Sun-News Waterline Newspaper Magazine (https://www.yoursun.com/coastal/boatingandfishing/), to demonstrate. I was surprised too. We never stop learning.

Visit the brand new Fish’n Franks location (4425-D Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL, 33980, 941-625-3888, https://fishinfranks.com/) for advice and gear. Don’t forget to carry a sharp knife, pair of needle-nose pliers, hook-remover, sunscreen, sunglasses, a wide-brim hat and lots of bottled water. Dehydration is common on offshore trips.

One last note, Marty and I never stop learning from Nick Weaver. The deep waters we fished were probably never fished by anyone else ever before. Imagine that?! Nick has a passion for healthy water, healthy people, working hard, sharing knowledge and natural resource conservation. Let’s all never stop fighting for clean water. Might be good to start that all of us learn about and understand more about the outflow of Lake Okeechobee, maybe put it back to the way nature wanted it. The Everglades depend on it.  There’s so much more to know.  Visit Captains for Clean Water, please: https://captainsforcleanwater.org/.  We gotta save and restore our ecosystems.

Tight lines, everyone!

Marty Poli enjoys the red grouper fishing fun in Southwest Florida. 

Bass Bite Begins – Steelhead, Lake Trout and Browns offer Tough Bite in Lower Niagara River

Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls with a lower Niagara River smallmouth on a jigging spoon.

  • Warm weather has encouraged anglers to visit waterways in boats and from shore.
  • Lack of rain and runoff have allowed extremely clear water conditions – it’s a tough bite on those days.
  • Lake trout, steelhead, brown trout and smallmouth bass have all been landed by fishermen, though. 
  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, March 24, 2021 from Destination Niagara USA

Andrew Bartlett of Lockport with a steelhead from the lower river he caught fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane. 

Unseasonably high temperatures have brought out the fishermen to the streams and on Lake Ontario. Some boats have started to work the waters in the main lake. Remember that if your boat is less than 21 foot in length, everyone on board should have a personal flotation device on (wearing it) until May 1.

Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane reports he did well catching brown trout and lake trout out of Olcott last Sunday. The lake is warming up already, at 36 to 38 degrees. The brown trout fishing now is tough due to the lack of rainfall/runoff making the inside waters really clear according to Oakes. If possible, try and find some dirty water if looking for browns says Oakes. Best baits for browns are stickbaits and smaller spoons.

Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane with an Olcott lake trout.

The lake trout action is extremely good right now between 50 and 100 feet. Any lure with some flash will work if fished towards the bottom. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports he fished the lake on the Niagara Bar the last two days and did well. The brown bite is slow right now, though. A few bites early then it shuts off. The water is clear and cold, 36-37 degrees according to Yablonsky.  The laker bite between the green and red can on the Niagara Bar is good.  MagLips on 3-way rigs or trolling with spoons on riggers and divers has been working well. In the river, Yablonsky reports the bite is pretty much non-existent for boaters. With the fish spawning and the crystal-clear water conditions, the bite is tough.

In the streams, Jim Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports there is good trout action at Burt Dam, some fish are being caught off the piers in both, Wilson and Olcott.  Olcott harbor is producing steelhead and perch with minnows.

Despite clear conditions, Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught some dandy steelhead – like this one – in the lower Niagara River. He was using a homemade jig. 

In other tributaries, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that the streams have been reduced to a very slow pick of scattered singles. There has been no rain or meaningful snow melt in 2 weeks. Warm weather and low, clear creek conditions have created full on spring conditions early this year. That could all change with a warm rain Friday. That should bring in more steelhead, as well as smallmouth bass.

Mark your calendars for the Niagara County Bullhead Tournament set for April 9-11, 2021. This is shore fishing only. Best 2 bullheads total weight wins the prizes. Weigh in on Sunday at the Wilson Conservation Club. For more info call Eric at 628-6078.

The LOTSA pen rearing project work party is at the Town of Newfane Marina at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 27.

The big news for next week is that the NYPA fishing platform, as well as the other NYPA fishing facilities (Reservoir and upper river at the Water Intakes) – they will open on April 1. They hope to have the elevator working, too, on the platform, but no guarantees.

Action has been slow in the lower Niagara River according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle.  The main reason is clear water.  The rain in the forecast for later this week should help.

Shore anglers are using spoons, spinners, and jigs. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports catching 3 steelhead on Sunday, all above the whirlpool.  All were taken on homemade white and silver jigs. Water was low and slow with at least 7 to 8 feet of visibility.

No reports on smelt yet. Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls was in search of smallmouth bass and found some bass using a jigging spoon over the weekend in the lower.  Remember that for almost all locations around the state, it’s catch and release with artificial lures only…if you are targeting bass.

We know that brighter days are ahead. Until then, let us be your destination of hope. Click here for our video message.

Tom McKelvey of Long Island with a big Lake Ontario brown trout he caught fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown this week. 

Frank Campbell – Director, Outdoor Promotions
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Firearm Industry Economic Impact RISES 232% since 2008

National Shooting Sports Association Photo

  • Total economic impact for the USA firearm and ammunition industry increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $63.5 billion in 2019.
  • Some 342,330 full time jobs are supported by the firearm industry, averaging $56,400 each, in wages and benefits in our economy.
  • Over 100 hundred million law-abiding Americans rely upon the firearms and ammunition industry to  to safely enjoy the recreational shooting sports, as they exercise their right to keep and bear arms.

National Shooting Sports Association Illustration

St. Patrick’s Day 2021 brings us stunning data regarding positive economic news from the firearm industry. Just released in a report from the National Shooting Sports Association (NSSF) – the total economic impact of the firearm and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $63.5 billion in 2019, a 232 percent increase! The total number of full-time equivalent jobs rose from approximately 166,000 to over 342,330, a 106 percent increase. The data is according to a report released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation®, the industry’s trade association.

On a year-over-year basis, the industry’s economic impact rose from $60 billion in 2019, to $63.5 billion in 2020. Total jobs increased by more than 10,000 in the same period, from nearly 332,000, to over 342,330. The broader impact of the industry throughout the economy, supports and generates business for firms seemingly unrelated to firearms, at a time when every job in America counts. These are real people, with real jobs, working in industries as varied as banking, retail, accounting, metal working and printing among others.

The firearm and ammunition industry paid nearly $7 billion in business taxes, including property, income and sales-based levies.

“The firearm industry has demonstrated amazing resilience and these economic impact figures are the result of every man and woman who comprise our industry,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO. “These professionals are the reason our industry continues to grow and contribute to our communities, states and nation. These workers and our member companies produce the highest quality firearms and ammunition that over a hundred million law-abiding Americans rely upon to exercise their right to keep and bear arms and safely enjoy the recreational shooting sports. This growth equals more jobs that add to our local economies, averaging $56,400 in wages and benefits. Since 2008 we increased federal tax payments by 170 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 89 percent and state business taxes by 125 percent.”

Data supplied by National Shooting Sports Association

The Firearm and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report provides a state-by-state breakdown of job numbers, wages and output covering direct, supplier and induced employment, as well as federal excise taxes paid. Access the full report here.

About NSSF: Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide.  NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry.  Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. For more information, visit nssf.org.

Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – Fish are Biting

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught from shore using a homemade spinner.

  • Weather in warm-up mode, spring on the way.
  • Mag-Lips w/Kishel Scent is hot lure for steelhead drift fishing n Lower Niagara River.
  • Shore fishing on upswing too, w/sacs+beads under a float

Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston (left) and Kevin Kishel of East Aurora with another steelhead caught on a MagLip lathered with Kishel’s Fish Scent.

Air temperatures are scheduled to break the 60 mark today so being outdoors is a must. While it will be cooling back into the 40s by the weekend, spring is just around the corner. March 15 is the final day for walleye, pike, pickerel, and tiger musky action in the state, but there is still plenty of trout fishing to be had here – in both the tributaries and the Niagara River. Our tip of the week comes for Captains Ernie and Nick Calandrelli, who took Kevin Kishel of East Aurora out on Tuesday in the lower Niagara. The trio did very well on steelhead using Kishel’s Fish Scent on MagLip plugs, and fished off 3-way rigs. It really seemed to make a difference. Lower Niagara River trout action is picking back up again and best baits have been egg sacs or egg imitations, minnows or shiners and any kind of a body bait like a Kwikfish or a MagLip from boats, all fished off 3-way rigs. Water clarity is good.  Fish can be found through the river and the Stella drift was productive last weekend.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead Tuesday in the lower Niagara River, casting a white hair jig from shore.

Shore guys can still catch some trout consistently by tossing spinners or jigs according to Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, who caught some good fish in the gorge on Monday. Drifting sacs or beads under a float will also catch fish. Rzucidlo even caught a nice chunky 5-pound rainbow just above the upper rapids above Niagara Falls on a spinner on Tuesday.

For the Lake Ontario tributaries, the warm rain in the forecast for late Thursday could be what the fish doctor ordered to pull fresh fish into the streams. Some reports on the sly show that action has already been picking up on 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam. Egg sacs and egg imitations are good baits to start, but jigs tipped with a wax worm will also work. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that waters were cold Tuesday from ice melt. He will always make sure to fish his fly “low and slow” in these conditions.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught from shore using a homemade spinner.

One sure sign of spring is the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s pen rearing project preparation. Assembly for the pens will take place at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott on March 27 starting at 9:30 a.m. Dress warm and bring your side cutters to clip zip ties. The work party is early this year because of an earlier Easter.

Frank Campbell, Director, Outdoor Promotions

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Overpopulation of Deer?

Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection 

  • Warm winters, High summer nutrition, Fewer hunters = TOO MANY DEER
  • Do we need DNR to consider additional expanded seasons?
  • Farmers need help, Home Owners have property damage and deer disease concerns (Lyme, CWD, etc.)

Wintering deer herds salvage food from all available sources, but there are concerns for overpopulation in many parts of the country. Concerns for spread of Lyme disease via deer ticks is one more concern. Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection 

By Bob Holzhei

Within a one-mile radius of our farm in Clinton County, MI, I counted over 40 deer. They were traveling in two different herds on our property, woodlot and an adjoining property.

This population of deer was much higher than in previous years, increasing by about four times what I had witnessed in the past.

What factors accounted for the high numbers? A mild winter this past season was possibly one factor. The immediate question is, do the high deer numbers have consequences as apparent overpopulation occurs?

“Overpopulation is more deer than the habitat can support.  This numbers growth occurs simply by having survival exceed mortality. We may be witnessing the survival theory that may have occurred for a more prolonged period of time than thought.  “The distribution of deer can vary throughout the year,” according to Chad Stewart, a Biologist and Deer/Elk Population Specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“During the spring-time is when deer are clustered on the landscape, primarily around food sources. As green-up occurs, deer numbers redistribute themselves to more normal levels, and the concentration of deer in large numbers is likely to diminish,” added Stewart.

One way of looking at it might be that a reduction in hunter numbers means an increase in safe spaces for deer to evade hunters. Add high summer nutrition to high winter survival rates and mild winters, we might expect the trend to continue. For farmers, I am a farmer, crop damage occurs when deer numbers are high. The field edges are hit hard, but damage can extend into field centers as the deer numbers increase.

Healthy deer numbers are increasing rapidly with fewer deer hunter numbers. Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection 

“Clinton County, MI, has seen increasing trends in populations over the past 6-8 years,” stated Stewart. “Research has shown that about 20 deer per square mile is the threshold for detecting deer damage to forests.  Keeping deer numbers below that threshold is ideal for forestry management.”

“The Michigan DNR, in an effort to manage deer numbers, has liberalized the license structure by offering more flexibility for hunters to take antlerless deer with a combination license during the firearms and muzzleloader season.  The antlerless licenses are also transferrable between counties and properties.  A late antlerless season has also been extended in southern Michigan,” concluded Stewart.

If you enjoy healthy, high-protein venison steaks and burgers, this coming season could be a very special time for you and your family. AND, you could be helping the farmers with your harvest.

About the author: Bob Holzhei is a published author with more than 450 published outdoor adventure stories from across the United States. He has authored four books, including Canadian Fly-In Fishing Adventure, Alaskan Spirit Journey, The Mountains Shall Depart and The Hills Shall Be Removed. The latter was nominated for Pulitzer Prize consideration. His books are available at Amazon.

Fish-Catching, Beaches, Baseball and Sunshine. A GOOD Winter Day!  

Fishing for Saltwater Gamefish near Fort Myers, Florida, in the Winter.

  • The conjunction of natural creeks and man-made canals in the Fort Myers saltwater canal system are where big fish can hide.
  • Circle Hooks allow for easy presentation of live forage bait and quick release of gamefish.
  • After you hook a few trees, then catch a few fish, the positive state-of-mind begins to form for the next fish. The fun begins!

Rich Perez with a young snook taken from a canal waterway off the Caloosahatchee River near Fort Myers, FL. The fish was held gently and carefully released a few seconds after being out of the water.

By Forrest Fisher

Within the bustling livelihood of Fort Myers in Lee County, Florida, the Caloosahatchee River and its many tributaries form a network of lush vegetation and age-old mangroves within the fertile canal systems found here.

The eddy currents formed at the conjunction of natural creeks and man-made canals often allow the tidal flow to create deep pockets where big fish can hide. The constant tide reversal and related current changes beckon to schools of forage stocks to find relative safety among the mangrove roots, with the occasional live oak tree acting as a mangrove bundle anchor. The big fish in the area know the forage is among the roots, as snook, redfish, speckled trout, tarpon, and other species often spend feeding time here. There is magic to be found in this silent and peaceful water flow system.

For the fish, it’s breakfast and dinner with a menu. For the anglers that can learn the secrets of tidal flow profile, consistent fish-catching adventures await them.

A power-pole makes anchoring in the canal system easy and silent – that makes fishing more fun.

A decades-long Floridian, humble Rich Perez shared with me that he is new to saltwater fishing, but with a confident voice, added that he is learning more from savvy fishing friends each day he can make it to water. A busy family man, when time allows, he explores new fishing areas and generally reverts to time-tested live bait methods. Using Circle Hooks to present wriggling live shrimp or live forage minnow bait, such as pinfish, he knows it’s easy to verify that a spot may or may not hold fish with live bait. With the minnow bait, he carefully threads the Circle Hook through the hard-nose area to keep the bait alive and in the free-swimming state. Perez says,” I’ve learned that this is the ultimate live bait meal method to use for roaming gamefish, sometimes, really big gamefish.” He catches fish often.

First, though, besides learning to be a perceptive fisherman, he is a hard-worker. He believes that good fishermen should catch their own live bait. They don’t go the easy way and just buy it. So he has practiced hard and learned to throw a 12-ft cast net. Of course, succeeding in this native art form of bait-catching is not painless. It takes time to practice, with a skill developed over time. He’s been doing it for 3 years now and is tossing near-perfect circles to 15 feet from the boat. He admits that he visits the local live bait supply shops on some days with his busy work schedules.

“With a full baitwell, you can ensure your bait is fresh and enjoy perfect live bait presentations no matter where you explore new areas. I like to invite friends and family out fishing too, so I try to make sure the baitwell is well-stocked. It’s not always easy to find the forage, but eventually, with some patience, you do find ’em. I look for diving birds or surface ruffles to find the forage schools, that’s the easy way.” 

With a 7-ft semi-stiff fishing rod, medium power, Perez uses Penn 40-series open-face fishing reels loaded with 20-pound braid and a 2-ft long/30-pound fluoro leader tied to a 2/0 or 3/0 Circle Hook. He doesn’t lose fish, day or night. “The hardest part for most newbies like me is casting precision. You really gotta get the bait right alongside the edge of the mangroves, especially during daytime. The fish are usually there with an incoming tide current,” Perez adds.

Perez continues, “Sometimes we catch yearlings, other times we catch old fish, big fish, all with this simple, uncomplicated live bait system. We release all the gamefish to live another day. It’s great fun and even more fun to watch my dad or friends land a nice fish…or catch a big mangrove treetop. We laugh a lot. We joke about who caught the biggest tree for the day. With the fish, we take a quick picture and watch the fish swim back home. It’s a good feeling.” 

Perez throws a 12-ft cast net to catch live forage bait, though this native art form takes time and practice to develop effective skill.

Over the day, Perez shared that good fishing is really a matter of gaining enough confidence to make that perfect cast every time. After you hook a few trees and then catch a few fish, the positive state-of-mind fun begins to form for the next fish, even the next trip.”

I could not agree more that good fishing is a state of mind. When it happens to you, it’s a sure thing that the next trip is not too far away.

This Fort Myers area is home to a fleet of charter captains and fishing guides that share their skills in the nearshore waters and far offshore. To discover more about the outdoor adventure and pristine beaches found here, or to just rest for a few nights between fishing fun, you can request a free guidebook from the visitor’s bureau online at https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/order-travelers-guide, or call toll-free, 1-800-237-6444.

There’s more than fishing too. During March, near Fort Myers and Sanibel Island’s Beaches, the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins are back for spring training and competition in the Grapefruit League. I love baseball! The Lee County Visitor Bureau also has a free mobile savings passport for locals and visitors with access to exclusive deals on attractions, restaurants, and experiences here. Sign up at https://explore.fortmyers-sanibel.com. The passport will be delivered to your mobile phone via text. Redeem it on your mobile phone at participating businesses. Pretty cool.

Fish on!

Extraordinary Fun Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

  • Fishing sunrise to noon, we caught 8 species of saltwater fish, and well over 150 fish total, as a 3-man group.
  • Captain Terry Heller, Fish-On Sportfishing Charters, was savvy, funny, and deadly serious about having fun – we laughed a lot out there! So good for our pandemic souls!
  • We experimented with Circle-hooks vs. J-hooks. The circle-hooks hooked and landed fish 80% more effectively…a lesson for all.

Vietnam Veteran, Randy Baugus, retired minister from Burlington, KY, with a hard-fighting Gag Grouper that was released to swim another day.

By Forrest Fisher

It was dark when I left the house in Port Charlotte, Florida. The stars were spectacular, gleaming brightly above, but there was a warm orange glow on the eastern horizon, the sun was about to rise, suggesting a nice, warm February day – a sunscreen day. A great winter day.

About 30 minutes later – it was 6:25 a.m., I joined the right-hand turn signal line to enter the Placida Boat Launch area, a state park-like zone with a boat launch, ice-filling station, and restroom facilities that can accommodate about 100 cars and boat trailers. There is a frozen bait and live bait tackle shop (Eldred’s Marina) right next door, wonderfully convenient for boaters and anglers heading for Gasparilla Island shore fishing spots.

Affable Captain Randy Heller, Fish-On Sportfishing Charters, with another  nice porgy we caught, a tasty fish for the table.

Not long later, I met my fishing guide for the day, Captain Terry Heller of Fish-On Charter Sport Fishing, an ever-friendly source of fishing knowledge. He made catching fish easy and fun and seemingly transparent – like you’ve had the necessary skills all along, even with newbies and veteran anglers alike – young and old, no matter. Onboard, I met 70-years-young Randy Baugus from Burlington, Kentucky, a minister and Vietnam veteran, and his brother-in-law, 78-year-old Gary Barnes, originally from Columbus, Ohio, but now a happy southwest Florida native who is enjoying his retirement years in the Sunshine State.

Captain Terry started up his nearly silent 225Hp Yamaha as the wide, spacious and sturdy 24-ft Polar (fiberglass boat) gently idled away from the dock. As we moved into Lemon Bay toward the Boca Grande Causeway Bridge, a bald eagle showed her head on one of the nearby island treetop nests. The tide was at a complete low as we came up to plane in the channel in Gasparilla Pass.

With Captain Terry using the navigational GPS map technology onboard, he marked safe passage for us. It wasn’t long before we were at 35 mph cruising speed on the way to secret offshore spots that Heller has identified over his years of local fishing here. About 20 minutes later, we slowed, shore was no longer visible, and after making a few circles into an area seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Heller dropped a marker buoy for boat position reference. Settling his electric motor into the water (with a 7-foot long shaft), he used blue-tooth technology to move away from the buoy toward one of three spots that we would eventually fish. All of them were within 200 yards of the brightly colored marker. “The marker is for letting others know that this is our fishing area for the moment. Other guys usually honor the courtesy of staying away from your fishing zone,” he said that with a half-smile.

Heller opened up two of his three live bait wells to show us that if we wanted to keep any fish, they could go in there and that he would let us know what fish was legal and what was not. “Now for the fun, guys!” He passed out a fully-rigged rod for each of us with a small bucket of cut-bait ready to rig. The rods were 7-ft long and were equipped with open-face Penn fishing reels. The 30-pound test braid mainline was attached to a 2-ounce egg sinker, then an 18-inch long leader of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a size 3/0 or 4/0 circle hook.

Randy Baugus with the second Remora that we caught that day, a nice 25 inch specimen. Remora usually are attached to the skin a shark. We released the fish to find a new shark buddy down below.

Heller is a happy sort of guy as he quipped, “Now guys, listen, you’re gonna catch a lot of fish out here, so if you get tired of reeling ’em in, don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of beverages onboard, and you can rest up.” We all looked at each other and sort of rolled our eyes a bit. Randy said, “Sounds like your pretty confident Captain!” Gary said, “I wanna drop my line.” A moment later, Heller showed us how to slide the cut baits onto the hook. He rigged all the lines for us.

“The water is 48-feet deep here, guys, so it won’t take too long for your baits to reach the bottom. When they do, reel up two turns or so and watch closely for a bite. When you get one, start reeling to set the hook. One more thing, there is one rule on board here, for good luck, you gotta yell, FISH-ON! You all know that’s the name of my charter. It’s for a good reason.  Our adrenalin flow talks to the fish!”

About 10 seconds later, Randy hollered,” FISH-ON!” His rod enjoyed a healthy bend toward the water. A few moments later, Gary shouted, “FISH-ON!” Before both lines were not yet in the boat when I, too, shouted out the same. A 3-Fer! Half-giggling and laughing a bit, Captain Terry said, “Are we having fun yet?!” We all agreed.

We moved around to a few other fishing zones on the bottom. They were configured sort of like the moon surface with craters and high points, next to cavernous hollows a few feet deeper around the crater edges. “The fish come out of those little holes down there to test your baits. They’re always hungry out here in this secret place.”

Gary Barnes, originally from Columbus, OH, is now a Florida resident and enjoys fishing in his retirement years. He released this small grouper.

We moved to other spots a few times, and in each location, we caught at least 50 fish among the three of us.

The live wells were getting crowded with good-eating reef fish. These included Porgy, Squirrel Perch, and some Key West Grunts., some were nearly 2-pounds each. We also caught Blowfish, Remora, Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, and Spottail Snapper. My shoulders and arms were getting sore as Heller said, “C’mon guys, let’s reel up and go try one more spot where there might be some bigger snapper and grouper.

About 10-minutes later, we motored northward, we arrived about 1/2 mile from the 9-mile reef. The electric motor came down, and we were fishing. Wham! “FISH-ON! Randy hollered. A few seconds later, Gary screamed out too, then me. Four hours into our trip, it had been a fantastic day on the water. The sea was smooth, the water so clear, and the fish were definitely biting.

Our cut baits consisted of octopus, shrimp, squid, and sardines. All of these worked.  One of the cool things about fishing with Heller, his charter – Fish-On Sport Fishing, provides all the licenses, all the gear, and all the bait you need. Plus, you are welcome to keep your catch, and Heller will clean and fillet it for you. Maybe the most significant part not mentioned with “things provided” is Heller’s precision savvy about where to drop your line. That part is priceless!

Happiness is! Fishing dreams are made for days like this. I met new friends, caught lots of fish, laughed for about 5-hours! So fun. We released this small, hard-fighting grouper. Terry Heller Photo.

As we motored back to the Placida boat launch, it was 1:30 p.m., and the air temp was 87 degrees. A slight sunburn on all of our faces, I joked to Gary, “Pinch me, I think I miss shoveling my driveway back home in East Aurora, NY.” He groused back, “Yea, me too, NOT! I love it down here.”

Captain Heller asked us to follow him back to his nearby home, and he cleaned 81 keepers. It was probably about 1/3 of the number of fish we actually landed, as we had to release all the short gag grouper and red grouper. We had caught dozens of them—an excellent sign for the future of Florida fishing. We split ’em up, and there is only one or two choice words for the meal that followed later at my home. Scrumptious! Delicious!

There is nothing quite like a fresh caught fish fry! My better half does these up with four, egg and crushed crackers coked in olive oil…healthy!

I fell asleep that night with my ears ringing a bit. It was that tune from earlier in the day…”Fish On!” Can’t wait for the next time out. To fish with Captain Heller yourself, you can check schedules and open dates at: Fishing Booker.com 

National Deer Association (NDA) has Solid Plan to Empower Deer Hunters

NDA Photo

  • Education, Biology, Legislation, Recruitment included in the new plan.
  • Karlin Dawson named as Deer Outreach Specialist to Work with Missouri Conservation (MDC)
  • Special focus on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Field-to-Fork Programs

NDA Photo

During July 2020, the National Deer Alliance and the Quality Deer Management Association joined forces to merge their two groups, combine the strengths, resources and core initiatives to better serve deer and hunters more effectively when the need is greatest. Then in November 2020, they announced their new group name: the National Deer Association. They are a non-profit group and beyond a name and a logo, they also assembled a unified team, created a new strategic plan, and announced a Board of Directors. 

The National Deer ASSOCIATION is planning to focus on four critical areas: (1) education and outreach, (2) recruitment, retention and reactivation, (3) policy and advocacy, (4) deer diseases. Teaching the non-hunting public about the keystone position of deer in all wildlife conservation (success or failure) will be among new goals. Similarly, the new group will empower hunters to be more informed, and hence, more successful and engaged stewards of deer and wildlife, including mentoring young hunters. Deer diseases, including the invariably fatal chronic wasting disease (CWD), present a severe threat to all deer species’ future and related wildlife conservation/health. Wildlife policy and legislation are part of that new goal, at the same time bringing hunters, the non-hunting public, and wildlife managers together with a common education and realization theme. The new group includes memberships across all 50 states and Canada.

The National Deer Association (NDA) is pleased to announce that Karlin Dawson has joined the organization as a Deer Outreach Specialist in northern Missouri. A Missouri native and lifelong deer hunter, Karlin comes to NDA from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), where she served as the naturalist for the Runge Conservation Nature Center.

Highly qualified Karlin Dawson has joined the National Deer Association (NDA) organization as a Deer Outreach Specialist in northern Missouri. Photo courtesy of NDA

“I am honored and excited to be joining such a wonderful organization,” said Karlin. “I cannot wait to continue my work in conservation and supporting our natural resources.”

As a Deer Outreach Specialist, Karlin will assist MDC staff with the facilitation of the state’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMA). Among mission objectives will be to provide guidance to landowners and deer hunters conducting deer population surveys and other data collection efforts, host local habitat management training, work with private landowners to establish and support Wildlife Management Cooperatives, coordinate and assist with chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling training, and organize hunter recruitment and mentoring initiative – like NDA’s Field to Fork program, in northern Missouri. She will also serve Missourians by helping promote numerous private land assistance programs alongside MDC staff. 

Karlin’s duties will include helping increase NDA awareness by recruiting new members and publicizing NDA’s national programs and conservation partner programs.

“I am excited to have Karlin join the NDA staff,” said Matt Ross, NDA’s Director of Conservation. “Her past experience working as a public educator and naturalist for the state of Missouri, her enthusiasm for wildlife and the sustenance it provides, and her general knowledge and passion for the outdoors make her a perfect fit for this position.”

Karlin received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Westminster College, where her study emphasis was in conservation, ecology and field research. In addition to her recent position as a naturalist with MDC, Karlin worked as an assistant manager and whitetail guide at Safari Unlimited LLC, a Missouri-based commercial outfitting business specializing in worldwide hunting and fishing adventure travel and offers a free-range deer and turkey hunting service in the Show-Me state. She is a certified Hunter Education instructor, a certified CWD sampling technician and has substantial experience in virtual and interpretive conservation programming, including a unique content series about wild edibles, game recipes, and cooking. 

Landowners and deer hunters in northern Missouri who want to learn more about DMAP, deer management, or with interest in establishing a Wildlife Cooperative can contact Karlin at karlin@deerassociation.com.

Special Thanks to Brian Grossman and the NDA for details regarding Karlin Dawson.

Firearm Industry Embraces Real Solutions Over NEW Gun Control Call

  • Demands that Congress ban the modern sporting rifle (MSR).
  • Call to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a law passed with wide bipartisan support.
  • Reality of crime is that more murders are committed with knives, fists and clubs than all rifles combined.

With a reminder note from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) in Newtown, CT – the anniversary of the tragic and senseless murders in Parkland, FL, three years ago remind us why the firearm industry is committed to Real Solutions. Safer Communities®. The loss of innocent lives because of the unthinkable acts of a criminal defies explanation but deserves our efforts to try to prevent them from occurring again.

President Joe Biden’s call for his gun control agenda is not working to address the shared American goal of reducing criminal misuse of firearms. His demand that Congress ban the modern sporting rifle (MSR), which he knowingly mislabels an “assault rifle” and “weapon of war,” denies the reality that more murders are committed with knives, fists and clubs than all rifles combined. Over 20 million MSRs are in circulation today, used daily for lawful purposes.

President Biden’s call to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a law passed with wide bipartisan support, panders to the radical base of his party. Rolling it back would be akin to allowing activist lawyers to sue Ford for the wrongful deaths caused by drunk drivers.

The criminal responsible for the horrors thrust on Parkland, and the nation, must be held accountable for his crimes. Anything less is a whitewash of the failures of local, state and federal authorities to act on any of the 45 instances of warnings, tips and police responses prior to his final terrible crimes.

The firearm industry has been willing to take on this hard work. It has not waited. The firearm industry provides Real Solutions, including partnerships with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and local law enforcement to include:

  • Partnering with 15,000 law enforcement agencies to distribute 40 million firearm safety kits, including locking devices, for safe firearm storage through Project ChildSafe®.
  • Fixing the FBI’s background check system by changing the law in 16 states and in Congress to increase reporting of disqualifying adjudicated mental health records, resulting in a 266 percent increase.
  • Partnering with the ATF to prevent illegal firearm straw purchases and warning it is a crime punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
  • Improving security at firearm retailers, with ATF, to deter criminals from stealing firearms.
  • Matching ATF reward offers up to $5,000 to bring criminals to justice that steal firearms.
  • Preventing firearm suicides with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The firearm industry is committed to the shared goal of reducing and ending criminal misuse of firearms, as well as accidents and suicides. That is the common ground. These are the proven answers to achieve this goal. Click here to learn more about Real Solutions®.

About NSSF – NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

Finally, a GUN SAFE made in the USA

  • WAY TOO HEAVY to carry, but this safe assembles in pieces easy to ship and move
  • 21 million NICS checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm in the past 12 months
  • NSSF estimates that 8.4 million people purchased a firearm for the first time in 2020

By Forrest Fisher

Anyone that owns a firearm, one or more, is concerned about safe storage of their ammo and guns. Especially now. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Americans have registered record-setting firearms stats earlier this month.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported that 21 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm in the past 12 months. That’s a 60% increase from 2019 with 13.2 million background checks, and it shatters the previous record of 15.7 million in 2016. NSSF estimates that 8.4 million people purchased a firearm for the first time in 2020.

Outdoor friend Kim Emery says, “It’s a good time to share gun safety information with new gun owners as well as those increasing their firearm collections. Gun safes are an essential component of this training.” From my perspective, what could be better than protecting your firearms with a fire-insulated safe made in the USA? There is such a company: Steelhead Outdoors.

The best safes are big and hard to move, so Steelhead Outdoors makes their safe products modular. Modular gun safes are easily moved and assembled by two people. You will not need to hire a specialized safe-moving company, which is costly, or enlist your family and friends on a dangerous do-it-yourself heavyweight moving adventure each time you move.

In a recent interview, Steelhead Outdoors co-founder Corey Meyer says, “Don’t wait until you have found your “forever home” to invest in proper protection and security of firearms and valuables. We created Steelhead Outdoors to solve the problem of fitting a safe into your lifestyle and home space. Modular safes can be moved into spaces that a traditional safe cannot. Plus, at Steelhead Outdoors, with our custom-designed options, we can literally create your dream safe.”

The classic Steelhead Outdoors Nomad series offers ceramic fire insulation rated to 2300 degrees and is non-moisture trapping. That means no dehumidifier is required (and will not release steam into the safe in the event of a fire). How cool is that?!

Size: Model 26: 26” x 18” x 54” assembled. The Nomad Model 26 is the perfect safe for smaller gun collections and small spaces. It is perfect for apartments, townhomes, temporary living situations and fits beautifully into most closets. The assembled safe weighs 375lb, every panel is easily moveable and weighs less than 100 lbs. The interior can be configured from 6 to 15 long guns.

The Model 38, size: 38″ x 24″ x 60″ assembled. The Nomad Model 38 is the perfect safe for larger gun collections and can be assembled in places a traditional safe could never get to. The assembled safe weighs 600lb, every panel is easily moveable and weighs less than 150 lbs. The interior can be configured from 10 to 34 long guns.

Both safes are available with a mechanical dial lock or a push-button digital lock. Custom color options and configurations available. To learn more about modular gun safes and the best options, visit SteelheadOutdoors.com. Follow on Instagram.com/SteelheadOutdoors, on Facebook.Com/SteelheadOutdoors, and watch how-to videos on their YouTube channel.

About Steelhead Outdoors: Founded in 2016, Steelhead Outdoors is an innovative safe company offering the only American-made, modular, fire-insulated gun safe available currently on the market. Longtime friends, engineers, and avid outdoorsmen, Charlie Pehrson and Corey Meyer, searched for a gun safe made in the USA, was adaptable, and offered a respectable level of fire and theft protection. Still, they soon realized this product didn’t exist. Since they couldn’t buy it, they decided to build it. Learn more at SteelheadOutdoors.com

Turkey Hunting: Making the Box Call Sing

  • My favorite Turkey Call is the Box Call, it can make turkey music.
  • The type of wood can make a huge difference, reasons why some turkey hunters carry more than one box call
  • The 4-Play call is single box call that can make more notes, at more different pitches, than any 2 to 4 standard box calls combined!

By Mike Roux

I give dozens of game calling seminars and demonstrations each year.  Every single time I pick up a call, I explain to the folks watching and listening that the device in my hand, although it is described as a game call, is really no more than a musical instrument.   I also tell them that game calls operate on the same two principles as do all musical instruments.  Those principles being, rhythm and pitch.

If you can master the rhythm and pitch of a given call, you can be successful in the field as you use that call.  And, like a musician, practicing their instrument alone, imaging what it would sound like with the full orchestra, you must practice your calls imaging what they will sound like outdoors, at some distance.

Over half of my seminars each spring deal with calling and hunting the wild turkey.  The spring gobbler is still one of the toughest and most sought after game trophies to collect and his popularity grows each year.  Mastering the turkey call can make you a hero in your hunting group.

My favorite turkey call, by far, is the box call.  I have had lots of professional experience calling turkeys.  For over 40 years I served on the Pro Hunting Staffs for a couple of national call companies.  So, my box call is like an extension of my own hands.

Not all box calls are created equal.  You must be very selective when choosing this call.  Not only does the type of wood make a huge difference, but also the workmanship itself is critical to the performance of a box call, just like any other instrument.  Box calls that are made of plastic, or stamped-out mass-produced wooden calls will not give you the sound or the success you desire.  Pay the extra money, up front and get a custom-built box call that will drive the toms crazy.  That is why my box call preference is now the 4-Play Turkey Call.

Until recently I carried 2 box calls in my turkey vest.  One of these makes the sweetest yelps on the planet.  But its clucks leave a lot to be desired.  Likewise, the box call I cluck with is not worth a plug nickel for yelping or cutting.  That is why the 4-Play Turkey Call is the ONE box call I carry now.

The 4-Play call is made of different woods within the same call.  It has four sound rails, all of which can be different wood types, instead of just two.  By rotating the paddle around one end of the call you put 2 different rails into play.  This single box call makes more notes, at more pitches, than any 2 to 4 standard box calls combined.

Once you have decided upon and purchased your box call, you must learn how to play it.  I do like the box call because it is so easy to use.  But do not be fooled by that statement.  It still takes lots of practice to “master” all the sounds that this call can make.

All too often, turkey hunters fail to operate, or play, this instrument correctly.  Pressing the paddle onto the box may help increase volume, but will likely cause you to loose the desired pitch.  Quality custom-built box calls are designed for the weight of the paddle to be sufficient pressure to make the box play.  Most paddles will have a sweet spot.  Find this spot and you have found the key to your spring success.

Yelps are easily reproduced on a box call by dragging the paddle over one of the box lips.  At this point you are looking for, and listening for, pitch.  I will remind you that if you practice indoors, the pitch will sound profoundly different outside.  Practice outdoors as much as possible.

Once you have mastered a single yelp, line-up several yelps into a short run of calls.  At this point you are working on rhythm.  Combining rhythm and pitch will give you a very accurate imitation of a wild turkey.

There are a couple of different ways that you can hold this instrument as you play it.  My preferred method is to hold the box upright in my left hand and operate the paddle with my right hand.  This allows the weight of the paddle to do its job correctly.

Another variation that I have seen, but do not subscribe to, is holding the box upside down with the paddle in your left hand, striking the paddle with the box, which is held in the right hand.  To me, this method is cumbersome and eliminates the true resonance that the call can produce.  Either way, learn to play your box call with the method that is most comfortable for you.

By laying the paddle on the lip and popping it sharply upward, you can make an excellent cluck with your box call.  Putts can be made in much the same way.  By slowly dragging the full width of the paddle over the lip, a very seductive purr can be accomplished.

One of the most exciting and effective sounds the box call can reproduce is cutting.  To do this, hold the box in your left hand, paddle up and laying on the lip.  Use your left thumb as a “bumper”.  Tap the paddle with your right hand allowing it to rebound off your left thumb.  Practice this until you get the pitch, then work on the rhythm.  This call can really fire-up old tom and vastly improve your chances for success.

The key to this turkey call and to all others is practice.  There is no substitution for listening to live birds and reproducing the sounds you hear them make.  I would like to recommend a specific box call for you to try this spring. The 4-Play Turkey Call is the most versatile and productive box call I have seen and used.  Get one.  You will not be disappointed.

About the 4-Play Turkey Call: This innovative call is hand-manufactured by Cutting Edge Game Calls, a forward thinking company intent on creating and bringing to market innovative alternatives to help hunters be successful. Among their hunting products is the 4-Play Turkey Call. The company is staffed by creative-minded people who love hunting and whose innovative ideas are brought to life by talented craftsmen. To remove all risk about the 4-Play Turkey Call, they offer a 30 day trial! We realize the 4-Play is new and different, but that shouldn’t stop customers from trying it out. Order one today, try it, love it, or return it within 30 days for a full refund! For more visit: https://4playturkeycall.com/.

About the author: Mike Roux is an award-winning outdoor writer. He freelances more than 100 outdoor magazine and newspaper articles each year. Adding to his list of talents, he is also an accomplished speaker who annually books several speaking engagements nationwide – including banquets, game dinners and other outdoor events. Mike Roux has been a professional guide and game caller for over two decades. He has worked with the Pro Staffs of several outdoor products manufacturers. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of American, as well as the Missouri Outdoor Communicators. For more, please visit www.mikeroux.com.

Conservation Pioneers, a Never-Ending Love Story

Bob and Barb Kipfer – medical professionals, parents, conservationists, heart-warming people – two lives well-lived through sharing.

By Larry Whiteley

From time to time in life, you meet people with hearts as big as the outdoors they love. It is hard for those who know these two unforgettable people, Bob and Barb Kipfer, to think of one without thinking of the other. They are husband and wife, but they are more than that. They are friends, they are a team, they are life partners in a life well-lived.

The first chapter in their book of life begins at Kansas University Medical Center. Bob was a medical student in his first year of patient care in the hospital wards. Barb had just arrived as a newly graduated nurse on her first job. During his daily classwork around the hospital, Bob took particular notice of Barb. One-day, Bob saw her going into a room where nurses went to dump bedpans. He followed her in, closed the door, and asked her out on a date. He thought he might get dumped-on too, but she said yes. They were married on September 4, 1965, and another chapter in their life had begun.

Two years later, Bob received his draft notice, then served with the infantry in Viet Nam as a battalion field surgeon. That meant he traveled into battle with the troops and worked in field hospitals in the battle zone. Barb continued nursing back in Kansas and caring for their newborn son, Mark, hoping Bob would make it back home. I am sure there were times when Bob wondered the same thing. Like most Viet Nam veterans, he doesn’t talk much about that time in his life. Needless to say, he did make it home to his family after his tour of duty ended. They settled down to somewhat normal life during four years of his residency at the Mayo clinic. Their family also grew with the birth of their daughter, Amy. Life was busy, life was good.

Bob, on right, during his tour in Vietnam on the field surgical team.

In 1973 Bob and Barb and the kids moved to Springfield, MO to start a new chapter in their lives. Bob practiced Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine at a local hospital. Barb began to teach at a school of nursing. They bought a home and moved into an urban neighborhood where they still live today. Their lives were busy, but they managed to find time to go fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing on weekends. They played tennis. They traveled. They made lots of friends at work, in their neighborhood, and through social activities. One of those friends owned land with a cabin in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri, where Bob and Barb visited often, and they soon started looking for land of their own. That search led them to land with a clear-flowing creek running through a beautiful valley with forested hills and lots of wildlife. They fell in love with this special place, and another chapter was to be written.

Bob and Barb continued to work at their medical jobs during the week and stayed at their home in town. Unless they were traveling to places all over the world, visiting their kids and grandkids in other states, or going to social events, they were at their valley cabin on weekends.

Ten years after buying the property, Bob decided it was time for another chapter to be written. He had been working in medical administration, in addition to his medical practice, but having more fun on their property, he retired. He gave up tennis for a chainsaw and a tractor down in the valley. Barb waited two more years before retiring just to make sure Bob was house broke.

Retirement started another chapter to their story. During their time spent in the valley, they started working with the Missouri Department of Conservation to clear trees to bring back glades that were once there. They also worked with the department to plant trees for bank stabilization to protect the stream and their land. They even planted over 2,000 tree seedlings themselves for the same purpose. This all sparked their interest in conservation and fed their desire to conserve and protect this special place.

Barb provides an educational ecology tour for kids.

Their transformation from medical professionals to dedicated conservationists and conservation educators is an amazing chapter in their book of life. It’s about how their love for conservation grew and changed not just their lives but changed and touched the lives of so many others—more than they will ever know.

They became involved with the Springfield Plateau of Missouri Master Naturalists. Bob writes an informative blog for the group, Barb represents them on the Grow Native board. She leads educational tours of their urban yard in Springfield, where she has planted over 100 native plant species. She even made a video tour of what has been accomplished so far to be used for virtual education. Barb spends a lot of her time in the valley trying to rid their land of any kinds of invasive species or plants not native to the area. They have restored warm-season native grass fields and work at endangered species protection. They collect native butterflies, raise moths, volunteer at special events at the Butterfly House, and host mothing events at their property. A somewhat unique event.

They implemented a forest stewardship plan for their property, and it is now a certified Tree Farm. They were named State Tree Farmers of the Year in 2015 for all their work with timber stand improvements and even hosted a Missouri Tree Farm Conference.

Their land in the valley has grown to 400 acres and includes another cabin with their land additions. The valley and the house are used by college students for stream ecology studies. The Audubon Society has access to bird counts and education.  They have hosted Missouri Department of Conservation tours, a black bear study, Boy Scout activities, wildlife studies of plant and animal species, wild mushrooms studies, and field trips for groups studying plant and wildlife identification. Their land is open to other conservation-minded groups for retreats and ecology field trips, woodland management, and stream education.

Bob conducts a hands-on session sharing secrets of life in the outdoors for kids to learn more about conservation.

They were named the 2017 Conservationists of the Year by the Conservation Federation of Missouri. I would bet if you asked them what they have enjoyed doing most of all the things they have done, it would be their work with the public schools’ WOLF program. They teach fifth-graders in weekly classroom sessions and host kids in their valley for educational classes several times a year. Bob and Barb have profoundly impacted conservation in the lives of all the kids and people they have taught. The kids love them and will never forget Bob and Barb. This world could use more people like the Kipfer’s. Their impact on conservation has been immense.

One of these days, I hope in the far distant future, Bob and Barb will no longer be able to manage their land. When that time comes, they have donated it to Missouri State University under a protected agreement to sustain the valley’s natural ecology and use it to educate students who will be our future conservationists and conservation educators.

When Bob and Barb are gone, their ashes will be added to the old cemetery in the valley they loved. Their passion for conservation will continue through these students, the Wolf School kids, and all the other lives impacted by these two people. It will not be the final chapter of their book of life, though. Their story will go on through all the lives they have touched. Those people will pass on their passion for conservation. The Bob and Barb story will continue.

That makes this a never-ending story.

Winter Contest Idea…to Increase Fish Line Recycling – $30,000 in CASH PRIZES!

  • $30,000 in cash prizes on the line for best solutions

Ever wonder what happens to the discarded fishing line you put inside this recycling tube? It’s not pretty, according to BoatUS Foundation. But maybe you have a solution.

Winter is annual maintenance time for many anglers. Re-spooling with new line is a must-do task. Ever thought about what happens once you dispose of the old line in a fishing line recycling tube?

It’s not pretty. Turning fishing line into new products is labor-intensive, requiring a series of workers to manually comb through, sort, clean, remove hooks and weights, and separate out miles of encrusted debris in entangled fishing line. So as you pile up a few reels of line to be recycled this winter, the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is asking for your ideas on how to help grow the volume of line recycled each year.

Teaming up with fishing tackle company Berkley, the BoatUS Foundation’s Recast & Recycle Contest seeks out new ideas and improvements to the process, new ideas for recycled products, or technology breakthroughs for the current process that will increase the volume of line and soft baits that are recycled. Entry is simple – all you have to do is send a short video or one-page summary explaining your idea. Thirty thousand dollars in prize money is at stake for the three best ideas submitted through May 14, 2021.

“It’s great that anglers recycle,” said BoatUS Foundation Director of Outreach Alanna Keating. “Now we need to ask for help with scaling up recycling with a greater volume of line, whether it’s a time- and labor-saving process improvement or creating a new market to fully sustain recycling efforts.”

Judges will add weight to contest submissions that actually work, are practical, innovative, and have the potential to have a significant impact.

The first-place prize is $15,000, second place receives $10,000, and $5,000 will be awarded for third place. Contest submissions can address any part of the process (or multiple parts) of taking discarded fishing line and soft plastics from end of life to a new beginning. Professionals, amateurs and students alike are encouraged to apply, as are school teams and groups. Contest entries can be submitted with as little as a link to a video demonstration of the idea or a one-page graphic summary. Videos are limited to 4 minutes.

Contest rules and conditions, details on the current recycling process and videos on how various plastics and soft baits are recycled can be found at the Recast & Recycle website BoatUS.org/Contest.

Delicious Venison Gumbo – for 10

By Fern Fisher

The perfect quick-to-make meal for Super Bowl Sunday, or any other day. Most everyone has these simple ingredients in their everyday pantry.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground venison
  • 6 cups of diced (3/8 inch) white potatoes
  • 2 cups diced sweet white onion
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 TBS table salt
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 1 TBS basil
  • 3 TBS salted butter
  • Two 15 oz cans of black beans
  • One 15 oz can of cannoli beans
  • One 15 oz can of sweet corn
  • One (1) 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • One (1) 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
  • One (1) 24 oz can of spaghetti sauce
  • 16 oz box of Rotini noodles

Cooking Instructions: Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, 1 cup of diced onion and 1 TBS minced garlic to a 2-gallon cooking pot. Add enough water to cover the mix by 2 inches or so. Add 2 TBS of butter, salt, pepper, and bring to a boil. Set to simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft.

In a large fry pan, add the burger, 1 cup of onion, 1 TBS butter, 1 TBS garlic, a dash of salt and pepper, and about 3-4 TBS of water, and cover. Cook to a gentle steaming simmer until the burger is browned. Add the burger to the potato cooking pot.

Now add the tomatoes and sauce, cover. After reaching a gentle boil, add the black beans, cannoli beans, sweet corn and Rotini noodles. Bring back to a slow simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked and expanded. If not, simmer a bit longer. The noodles absorb the watery flavored liquids and add gentle chewy stock to the gumbo.

Serve: Spoon it out to a large coffee cup or soup bowl. Add a slice or buttered bread or a sliced roll.

Enjoy. Delicious!

Browning Maxus II – Autoloading Rifled Deer Shotgun

This new Browning shotgun has a number of features that elevate it above run-of-the-mill deer hunting shotguns. For 2021, the evolutionary new Maxus II sets its sights on whitetails with a Rifled Deer model.

The Maxus II is a fast-handling autoloading shotgun designed for hunting deer with a fully rifled barrel for accurate use with slugs.

A 22″ long, thick-walled rifled barrel includes an attached, cantilever Weaver-style sight rail that makes attaching optics and cleaning the shotgun without affecting zero a snap. Always important to accurate shooting, the Maxus II Rifled Deer features the precision Lightning Trigger that offers a lighter, crisper pull with less overtravel than other designs. Hard-hitting 12-gauge, 3″ slug ammunition is ably cycled by the proven reliable Power Drive Gas System.

The Maxus II Rifled Deer also includes a new stock design with a straight heel buttstock that allows for customizing the length of pull by either adding spacers or trimming the stock down. The 1 ½” thick Inflex recoil pad features directional deflection and is coupled with the new SoftFlex™ cheekpad, both of which are designed to soften recoil against your shoulder and face. Rubber over-molded panels on the pistol grip and forearm improve grip and feel. Enhanced operational features include an enlarged trigger guard that is ramped for fast loading, oversized bolt handle and release that are easier to use and a traditional threaded magazine cap. The raised rib sight picture and flat point of impact puts shooters on target faster and more consistently. To learn more about the features and specs and to access downloadable hi res images please visit:

Maxus II Shotguns

Maxus II Rifled Deer

Features:

  • Mossy Oak® New-Break-Up Country® camo finish
  • 22″, thick wall, fully rifled barrel for use with slugs
  • Cantilever, Weaver®-style scope mount for easy optics attachment
  • New SoftFlex™ cheekpad increases shooting comfort
  • New oversized bolt release and bolt handle
  • New composite stock can be trimmed and is shim adjustable for cast, drop and length of pull
  • New rubber overmolding on stock and forearm add grip in all conditions
  • New trigger guard is ramped for easier loading
  • Nickel Teflon™ coating on the bolt, bolt slide, shell carrier and bolt release
  • ABS hard case included

For more information on Browning products, please visit browning.com.

Winchester SX4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland Shotgun

Gotta love the new durable camo coverage and protected metal-part finish on the new Winchester firearms in this modern world.

The Winchester® Super X4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland features a classic Woodland camouflage paired with a Cerakote Flat Dark Earth finish on the receiver and barrel. The is combination is an functional eye-catching performer. Rain or shine, fast cycling is never an issue with the proven Active Valve Gas System. Adding an extra level of durability is the chrome-plated chamber and bore.

This model includes 3 Invector-Plus choke tubes – including a choke wrench, TRUGLO® fiber-optic sight, reversible safety button, larger opening in trigger guard, and larger bolt handle and bolt release with a Nickel Teflon coating on carrier and bolt release button, .

To learn more about the features and specs, as well as access downloadable hi-res images, please visit:

Super X4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland

Super X4 Shotguns

Features:

  • RECEIVER –  Aluminum alloy; Flat Dark Earth (FDE) Cerakote finish
  • BARREL –  Chrome-plated chamber and bore; FDE Cerakote finish; Ventilated rib
  • ACTION –  12 gauge – 3 1/2″ and 3″ chamber; 20 gauge – 3″ chamber; Gas operated with Active Valve system;
  • STOCK –  Composite; Woodland camouflage finish with an Inflex® recoil pad
  • FEATURES –  Three Invector-Plus™ choke tubes (F,M,IC); TRUGLO® fiber-optic sight; New Inflex® Technology recoil pad; Length of pull spacers; New larger bolt handle, bolt release and reversible safety button; New larger opening in trigger guard; Sling swivel studs

MSRP is $1079.99. For more information on Winchester Firearms, please visit winchesterguns.com.

One Man – His Fishing, His Family, His Favorite Boat

  • 64-year-old Polar Kraft Jon Boat looks and works even better now than it did in 1957!
  • Memories are one key to future fishing fun, make them with your family
  • Humble Pat Richardson has won 43 fishing tournaments, his story follows

Humble, but savvy angler and friend of the outdoors, Pat Richardson, is ready to cast a line from his age-old Polar Kraft Jon Boat. 

By David Gray

One thing can be said about the sport of fishing, it doesn’t take long for extraordinary memories to start. Pat Richardson, a fisherman from Louisiana, will be a young 80 years of age in April this year. Like many of us that enjoy a passion for fishing, he remembers his early start with squirming fish from a very young age.  His introduction to fishing came at age 5 when he participated in an annual family tradition.  Pat’s Dad fished, but it was his Mom who really got him started as a fisherman. “Mom liked to fish, and she always used a cane pole.” Every Good Friday, the family would gather at the Bayou with cane poles, lines, hooks, and worms.  The fishing fun started upon arrival, and after catching enough Bream, everyone headed for the traditional family fish fry.  Delicious.

While Pat has enough fond family fishing memories to fill volumes, he went ahead from those early years to make new ones.  Pat used his cane pole to fish until he was 14, that’s when he got his first store-bought sport rod.  It was a fly rod.  When asked why not a casting rod? Pat said, “Back then, casting reels and glass casting rods cost more.” The fly rods and reels were in his price range.  Pat noted that first fly rod is gone, but he still has that fly reel in the original box with a price tag that says $1.05.  The whole rig, 8-foot rod, reel, line, and tippets went for $7.50.  It was easy to catch Bream on the fly rod, but catching Bass on it was another thing.

It wasn’t long before some Fenwick casting rod blanks became available. A friend wrapped them up and Pat went in search of Bass with casting gear. The challenge, then, was that Bass were not as easy to catch as Bream.  So Pat began paying attention when and why he caught them on some trips and not on others.  With special consideration to details and conditions, he learned more.  The more fishing logic he acquired, the more Bass he caught.  Pat said, “Dad was a kind of fair weather fisherman, but when the bite was on, he liked to go, so I would take him.”

We were fishing in old wooden boats back then.  You know the type—paddle some, bail some, fish some – the whole day.

One day Dad surprised us by saying, “You boys (3 brothers) love to fish, and I am going to buy you a good boat. They are making boats out of metal now, and we are going to get one.”  Off they went to the Western Auto Store in Gonzales, La.  Dad negotiated for a new 14-foot Polar Kraft Bateau, a 12Hp Wizard outboard, 2 life-preservers, and a paddle.  All for $300 – the year was 1957. For those not blessed in the language of the Louisiana Bayou, a Bateau is a flat bottom Jon boat.

Following the initial clean-up and restoration process, the Polar Kraft Bateau (Jon Boat), is ready for paint and new gear.

That Polar Kraft Bateau served them well.  The boat helped Pat learn more about how to catch Bass.  Pat got quite good at catching Bass, so he decided to try fishing tournaments.  At first, they were “Fruit Jar” tournaments.  All the anglers gathered at the launch ramp Friday evening and put $10 in the fruit jar.  They launched, and the tournament weighed in at midnight. The winner got the jar.

Pat needed a boat upgrade to fish bigger tournaments so a bass boat with a 45hp outboard was purchased. The Polar Kraft Bateau was retired to the back of the backyard.  Pat won 43 open tournaments in the next 8-year period.  Pat also joined a Bass Club and took first in 11 tournaments and second or third in 7.  Pat said, “At one of those tournaments, I took first place, big Bass for the tournament and big Bass for the year.  Then the club switched all their tournaments to Sunday.  I never fish on Sunday, and the club knew that, so I guess it was a polite way to ask me to look for another club. I got my son, Patrick Wayne, fishing and at 14 he fished his first tournament with me.  I like fishing tournaments, but it was never about the money. It was the competition and camaraderie that made it fun for me.  Because it was fun, I kept entering open bass tournaments and did pretty well. Well enough that it caught the attention of some sponsors.  My last tournament rig had a 225HP motor. Quite different from the 12 HP Wizard on the Bateau from which I learned so much about Bass fishing.

One day I got to thinking about the Bateau.  We had caught thousands of fish, literally tons and tons of fish out of the Bateau.  Bream, Gar, Bass, and when not fishing, we used it for pleasure cruising.  The Bateau was a family heirloom, a part of our family, and I thought about it lying in the backyard with junk piled all over it.  So in 2019, I decided to pull this 60-year-old Polar Kraft out of the pile and see what shape it was in.

I took it to the welding shop and was sure it needed a new wood transom board.  I asked them to check the entire hull and fix everything and anything needed to get it back in the water.

When I went to pick it up, the shop said, “This was a well-built boat.  We only had to replace 3 rivets and tightened 6 others.” That was all it needed.  The 60-year-old Polar Kraft Bateau was ready to fish.

But Pat decided that was not enough.  He would totally upgrade up. “I decided I wanted to convert to bass boat style and dedicate it to Dad, who took us to buy it.  The family approved of the dedication idea to Dad. We added fishing decks, Bass Boat seats, a new 20Hp Merc 4-stroke electric start, Xi3 trolling motor, bilge pump, and a Lowrance sonar with map. My Dad’s name was Clyde, he died in 1976, so we all agreed to name the boat after him and to honor his US Navy military service. So we added Mr. Clyde and Pacific Theater 1944 and 1945 to the new paint scheme.

At 64-years young (old for a boat!), the famed childhood Polar Kraft Jon Boat is restored and ready for the water – the high hand rail is an aid for access and exit at the dock for Pat Richardson.

This 63-year-old Polar Kraft Bateau is not only seaworthy, but it was ready to help us catch thousands and thousands more fish. I added a hoop hand-rail to help me get in and out of the boat, at my age, when I’m at the dock.”

Pat added, “It is those fond old memories of family tradition and fishing competition that helps me share that love for squirming fish and free fun on the water with family and friends, and others. Remember this, if you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.”

Author Note: Special thanks to Kristen Monroe for details and interviews noted in this story.

Remarkable Hunting – Lightning, Rain, one Old Barn and one Old Deer

  • As I sat there, I thought, “Deer hunting is about sunrises and sunsets, the wildlife that go about their daily routines not knowing you are there. It’s about all the memories you make with family and friends or alone in a barn.”

By Larry Whiteley

The rain stops. Through my binoculars, I see a buck by himself – he has a weird set of antlers. Then I think about next year.

The forecast for opening day of the firearms deer season was for rain with a chance of thunderstorms. My son was out of town, and my grandson was at college in Kansas. It wouldn’t be the same without them, so why not just stay home? Wait a minute, this is opening morning I’m talking about. A tradition for goodness sake. How many years in a row have I enjoyed this special day? I had to be out there even if I was going to be by myself. Even if it was raining.

The alarm jarred me from my sleep. I got the coffee pot going, brushed my teeth, did my duty, grabbed my hunting clothes and rifle, filled my thermos, and was out the door. I could see stars in the night sky, so maybe, just maybe, the weatherman was wrong. My truck came to a stop at the metal gate on the gravel road, and I got out to open it. No rain! I drove on down the road, crossed the creek, and pulled up to the old barn sitting majestically in the field.

My plan was to leave the truck there and hike across the field to a tree where my stand waited for me. I got out of the truck, thunder rumbled, and lightning cracked and lit up the dark sky. I was sure thankful I had gone to the bathroom before leaving home. My hair would have stood on end if I had any.

I quickly decided I did not want to walk across a field with the lightning while carrying a rifle to go sit in a metal treestand. Then the sprinkles started, the thunder and lightning continued, and I got back in my truck. As I sat there thinking about what to do, the sky lit up again, and it seemed like heaven opened. I swear I heard the angel chorus singing hallelujah and trumpets bugling. There before me was the answer that would save this day. I would deer hunt from the old barn hayloft. My son, grandson, and granddaughter had all taken deer from the old barn before, and so had I.

I jumped out of the truck, grabbed all my hunting stuff, and ran inside. Then I remembered I had a folding chair I used when hunting in blinds, it was still in the truck, so I ran back out to get it. The rain was getting heavier, but the old barn would keep me dry. It was still dark, so I was in no hurry to climb up in the barn loft. I looked around with wide eyes, and my headlight assured me there were no wild animals in the barn ready to attack me. I also made a mental note not to step in all the groundhog holes in the dirt floor.

 

The old barn was built over 100 years ago by a gentleman named Christopher Columbus Meadows. I remembered the old black and white picture the owner of this land had shown me of Christopher Columbus holding a horse by the reigns and standing next to the barn.

My headlight shines on, the big stacked rocks and hand hewn beams light up. These are the foundation on which the old barn has stood for over 100 years. I look at the ax marks on the wood, and I see, in my mind’s eye, Christopher chopping and shaping the log to become this foundation. I imagine him in the wooden wagon, pulled by the horse in the picture, going down to the creek to find the flat rocks for the beam to set on.

I look around at all the weathered wood that covers the old barn. There was no electricity in this valley when the barn was built and wouldn’t be for another 30 years or more. So how did they get this wood to build it? How has the wood lasted this long? There is no paint or sealant of any kind on it. Where did they get the old rusted hinges and nails? I will never know the answers.

My mind travels back in time, and I see the horse in the picture standing in a stall. I see corn stalks stacked in another area. Maybe this was where they milked the old cow. Is that daylight coming through the cracks? It sounds like the storm has let up. I better get up in the loft.

I climb the stairs that are just as sturdy as they were when they were built but step carefully around rotted boards on the loft floor. I set up in the big opening where they once brought hay up from below to be stored in the barn loft. My chair is comfortable. I pour a cup of coffee and stretch out my legs. This is a great way to hunt deer, even if it’s not raining.

I look around the old loft, still amazed at how they built the old barn this big and how it has stood this long. The owner tells me it’s home to barn swallows, field rats, mice, a pair of black vultures that come here to raise babies every year, and the groundhogs who made all the holes, these will probably be the biggest reason the barn comes down someday.

The rain stops. Through my binoculars, I see a buck by himself – he has a weird set of antlers. On the left, it is normal but only three points. On the right, it is short with two points and ugly. He slowly saunters across the field with his head down. I figure all the bucks have teased him about his weird rack, and the females don’t want anything to do with this ugly buck.

I think for a moment about putting him out of his misery and click off the safety. But then I think maybe next year when he grows back a new set of antlers, they will be prominent and handsome. Then the ladies will be attracted to him, and the bucks that made fun of him will regret it when he kicks their butt. I click on my safety.

Rain starts again. He will be the only deer I see this day, but that’s okay. I don’t know why we have to get older to realize that deer hunting is not just about getting a big buck you can put out on social media to brag about. Deer hunting is about sunrises and sunsets, the wildlife that go about their daily routines, not knowing you are there. It’s about all the memories you make with family and friends or alone in a barn.

This day will be added to my storehouse of memories. Before I get too old, and as long as it remains standing, I would like to have a few more days of deer hunting from the hayloft of the old barn.

Spring is an active time for wildlife!

  • Be prepared for encounters, do your best not to disturb them

Springtime is an active time for wildlife in Florida, with sea turtles beginning to nest on beaches, manatees leaving their warm-water winter refuges and gopher tortoises starting to stir outside their burrows.

Sea Turtles are laying eggs along the sandy beaches in spring. Florida FWC Photo

With warmer weather, a variety of species around the state are following their internal biological clocks that tell them to move, mate, feed and nest. These species include black bears and their cubs, nesting waterbirds and snakes.

Florida Blackskimmers on the beach. Florida FWC Photo

Because of heightened wildlife activity in springtime, people are more likely to see and encounter all kinds of animals, both adults and their young. Florida’s residents and visitors can help by being aware of how to avoid disturbing wildlife during the rites of spring.

“Viewing wildlife is one of the pleasures of being outdoors during spring,” said Kipp Frohlich, who leads the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “It helps if kids and adults know the importance of not disturbing wildlife. Keep your distance, so you don’t startle a sea turtle, gopher tortoise, manatee or nesting bird that you happen to see during your outdoor adventures.”

Tips on how to enjoy and help conserve Florida wildlife during spring:

  • Sea turtles – Help sea turtles by keeping beaches dark at night and free of obstacles during their March–October nesting season. Bright artificial lighting can disturb nesting sea turtles and disorient hatchlings, so avoid using flashlights or cellphones on the beach at night. Turning out lights or closing curtains and shades in buildings along the beach after dark also will ensure nesting turtles aren’t disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings won’t become disoriented when they emerge. Clear away boats and beach furniture at the end of the day and fill in holes in the sand that could entrap turtles.
  • Manatees – Look out for manatees when boating. Chances of close encounters between manatees

    Injured wildlife are common finds by outdoor adventure folks. Call for help. Florida FWC Photo

    and boaters increase in the spring, as manatees leave their winter use areas and travel the intracoastal waterways along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and other inland waters. For boaters, it is a critical time to be on the lookout for manatees to avoid collisions with these large aquatic mammals. Boaters should follow posted speed limits as many areas have seasonal zones in spring that reflect manatee migration patterns.

  • Gopher tortoises – Spring days are a good time to spot a gopher tortoise, as Florida’s only native tortoise becomes more active, foraging for food and searching for a mate. If you see gopher tortoises or their half-moon shaped burrow entrances, it is best to leave them alone. You can help a gopher tortoise cross a road by picking it up and placing it in a safe location along the roadside in the direction it was heading. But only do this if it is safe for you to do so, and Remember the tortoise is a land animal, so never attempt to put it into water.
  • Nesting birds – Keep your distance from birds on the beach or on the water. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close. Disturbance can cause birds to abandon their nesting sites, which exposes their eggs and chicks to predators, sun exposure and other harm. Because shorebirds and seabirds build well-camouflaged shallow nests out of sand and shells on beaches, their nests, eggs and chicks are vulnerable to being stepped on unless people look out for them. Wading birds, such as herons and egrets, and pelicans also are nesting now on mangroves and tree islands.
  • Bears – As spring temperatures warm, bears become more active, increasing the opportunities for conflicts with people. Don’t give bears a reason to stay in your neighborhood. Remove anything that might attract bears, such as unsecured garbage or pet food. If they can’t find food, they’ll move on.
  • Snakes

    Scarlet King Snake. Florida FWC Photo

    Watch out for snakes in your yard or when hiking. What should you do when you come upon a snake? Just stand back and observe it. Snakes don’t purposefully position themselves to frighten people. They’d much rather avoid encounters and usually will flee.

  • Injured and orphaned wildlife – If you find a baby animal, it is best to leave it alone. Baby animals rarely are orphaned; a parent may be nearby searching for food or observing its young. Instead, report wildlife you think may be injured or orphaned to the nearest FWC Regional Office.

It’s illegal to disturb or harm wildlife, so if you see someone not following the rules – or spot an animal in distress – call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

Learn more about where and how to view wildlife at MyFWC.com/viewing.

Frog Fshing! Time for BIG Summer BASS

  • Summer is here, frogs are breakfast food for big bass
  • Not all frog lures are created equal, learn about differences below
  • Heavy frogs, light frogs – when to use each of these

Plastic frogs have come a long way as an angler bait and they catch fish, big bass, when the summer weeds seem unfishable. LiveTarget photo

By Forrest Fisher

Did you know that bullfrogs never sleep? Some say that’s why big bass never sleep either! With summer water temperatures following the countrywide heatwave this year, the weeds in our waterways are thick and matted. The result is shade for massive bass that wait in ambush for critters that share use of the matted weeds for ease of movement, including frogs, bugs, mice, and the like. So it makes sense that fishing with an artificial frog bait might be a good idea to catch some of the bass hiding in their new weed shadows. Truth is, the biggest bass seem to always be in those weedy shadows.

I discovered “frog fishing” with artificial surface frogs about 60 years ago. As a kid, at first, we baited real frogs, but after we ran out we would head home and try to find more. Into the early 60s, plastic frog lures were invented and we learned how to use them. It was much easier than trying to catch live frogs. Our light rods were flimsy for what was needed, that’s all we had, but the explosion of the fish making their way through the weeds to engulf our plastic frogs was exhilarating. So we used our flimsy rods anyway!

Fishing with fake frogs was noisy, even spooky fishing, but most of the time we lost the fish because of our gear. As we grew older into our teens, my brother and I transitioned to start fishing the frogs with short deep sea fishing rods and wide-spool, open-face fishing reels loaded with 40-pound test Gudebrod braided line tied direct. Those old plastic frogs were very basic and most were only hollow, air-entrapping, plastic caricatures of frogs that floated. They sank after a while.  Today, there are new “super frogs” out there, with many offering a popping action and you might say they are sophisticated frog lures. The new frogs are more durable and are “killer-effective,” the fish seem to love ’em.

Scum Frog designed the shape of the original Trophy Series with single focus to create Topwater Froggin’ perfection. Scum Frog Photo

Among the top choices in frogs, the age-old Scum Frog. At the Scum Frog factory (Southern Lure Co.), they do nothing but design and manufacture hollow-bodied frogs. They are among the originals in the industry and are among the true innovators in the design and development of frog fishing from way back when. They offer a painted trophy series that features 10 new hand-designed colors relying on a proprietary system that digitally patterns the frog color. The Scum Frog Painted Trophy Series is durable too, and was designed to give anglers all of the benefits of many high dollar frog baits at an unbeatable price (under $6). The Scum Frog displaces water, an excellent attractant quality, and is available in 1/2 and 5/8 ounce options (solid brass weights), so casting is easy. The new skirts are made from silicon, they float higher and accentuate the movement action of a live frog. DEADLY. Best yet, these Scum Frogs come with a pair of tough, sharp Owner Hooks perfectly fitted for big bass dentures.

Many pro anglers say that summertime bass yield to the white color frog more than any other. Why? The difference between oatmeal and hominy grits is what I think. Very little, but it seems to matter if you live down south, not sure why. Plus, white frogs allow the angler to see the bait a little better while working it. I like ‘em for visual identification of where they are.

Most frogs offer a two-hook design with extra strong hook points that cozy up to the collapsible plastic frog body, making them weedless. The only thing between you and the fish is your line and if you fish these in thick cover, you will need to check your line often. Use a good, modern, braided line and a positive knot with an extremely stiff rod that will allow you to haul the fish out of the thickest weed cover you might imagine. I like the 60-pound Gamma Torque braided line, you simply cannot break it. Other brands work too, but I think you could tow a tree with Gamma and it is thinner and slicker to cast than most others, this allows greater casting range. Visit: http://gammafishing.com/.

Another favorite is the “Signature Series” frog from LiveTarget Pro Angler and TV personality, Scott Martin. It features a hollow body frog popper that has become a favorite in the topwater tackle box for many anglers. The frog has a narrow profile with a cupped face that makes this bait unique when you walk it across the surface.

With either of these two frog brands – there are many more, the popper face creates a unique sound message below. “Hello, I’m food, c ‘mon, get me.” It offers a different sort of visual splash attractant message to join with that sound message.

I tried several colors over the years and while I like the white for ease of sight, the natural green frog colors seem to get the biggest hits, especially in heavy, super-thick cover. It is still a mystery how the fish can even see the bait in really thick summer weeds like we have this year.

The acid test for your frog gear? Here it is. Drop a 5-pound anchor in the thickest weeds you can find, then move your boat 30 feet away and see if you can rip that anchor up and out without breaking your line, your rod or the gears on your reel. That is your goal. This is tough fishing for really big bass, but that’s how I measure the gear. If you can’t put a rig together like that, go fish a frog anyway. It is unbelievable fun!

For the frog, don’t forget about frog size and frog weight. The thicker and heavier frogs are for working extra-thick matt and the lighter frogs are for thinner lily pad cover.

If the bass don’t wack it in the weeds themselves, they seem to panic and inhale the lure when the popping action occurs at the weed edge. They don’t want that easy meal to get away. To learn more, see additional color offerings or to buy the frogs described, please visit: https://americanbaitworks.com/pages/scum-frog and https://livetargetlures.com.

Have fun fishing!

Sitting on a Big Flat Rock in Winter

A big flat rock in the middle of a warm winter is more than a big flat rock. Larry Whiteley photo

By Larry Wisher

It’s a warm day. For winter, that is. I’m sitting on a big flat rock in the middle of the woods. The sun soaks deep into my bones. Days like this don’t come that often in winter, here where I live.

I take my jacket off and use it for a cushion and insulation from the cold of the rock. Except for the sound of a deer mouse rustling through the dry leaves enjoying the warmth too, or the occasional chatter of squirrels or crows talking to each other – it’s quiet here.

My eyes get heavy. Just as I start drifting off to sleep, an old dead tree comes crashing to the ground and startles me back to reality. What is that old saying? If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? My heartbeat slows back down to normal. I stretch my legs back out and enjoy my rock again.

You know, I hadn’t noticed so many dead trees out here before. The wood-eating insects must have got to them. Then the woodpeckers got to the insects. Then the holes the woodpeckers made became home to other birds and flying squirrels.

Someday, when no one’s around to hear it, they too will fall. Then mice will build nests in them, snakes will hibernate, and they will be an excellent place for storing nuts. Eventually, though, they will return to the ground from which they came. It’s amazing what you think about when you’re sitting on a big flat rock in the middle of the woods…on a warm winter’s day.

Looking skyward, the trees are like me, recharging for spring. Larry Whiteley photo

The musty smell of decaying leaves reminds me of how unique nature really is. In a few months, tiny buds will start appearing. Soon after, green leaves will burst out and unfurl. These woods, which now seem dead, will come to life again because of the nurturing power of the decaying leaves mixed with sunshine and rain.

As I scout for turkeys or begin looking for mushrooms, I will notice the buckeye trees first because they are the first tree to leaf out around here. The oaks, maples, hickories, walnuts, sycamores, and all the others will soon follow. Serviceberries, with their dainty white flowers, will be the first to bloom. They will be followed by the redbuds with their tiny purplish flowers. The white blossoms of the dogwood will not be far behind. Their colors add beauty to the spring woods.

It will be so much different than it is right now. Except for the brown leaves, blue sky, and green of the pines and cedars, I kind of feel like I’m watching an old black and white television. Don’t you remember those? Well, you probably wouldn’t unless you’re getting as old as I am.

The fully leafed trees add cooling shade to these woods as I come here for morning hikes in summer. Summer also brings ticks, chiggers, and snakes to these woods. Because of that and the hot and humid days, I’m not here as often as I am in other seasons.

As summer ends and fall begins, the chlorophyll that gives the leaves their green color begins to break down, and the true colors of the leaves are revealed. These woods become a kaleidoscope of red, gold, orange, and yellow. Trees drop their nuts to the ground while deer, turkey, squirrels, and the mice that call this place home, enjoy the bounty. Once again, I will be hiking, scouting, hunting, and sometimes even camping. It’s my favorite season of the year and a beautiful time to be here.

A little bit of wind, a little snow, and the acorns of autumn will bury and join the life of spring a few months from now. Larry Whiteley photo

But then, those same leaves that burst forth in spring will wither and fall to decompose and give nourishment to the same tree that gave them life. How does that song go? “Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snow, lies a seed that with the sun’s love in spring, becomes a rose.” Here in these winter woods, it will be beneath the dead leaves and sometimes a covering of snow. It will be a seed or a nut, that in the springtime with the sun’s love, sprouts and becomes a maple, dogwood, redbud, oak, papaw, buckeye, or hickory. Maybe even just a scraggly bush. Life goes on.

Wow! Again I will say it’s amazing what you think about when you’re sitting on a big flat rock in the middle of the woods on a warm winter’s day. If a man talks or sings to himself in the woods and no one’s around, does anybody hear him?

I feel a little like an acorn.  My eyes are getting heavy again.

Rocky Mountain National Park – EXPLORE the Amazing and Unique Alpine Tundra Ecosystem found here

  • Elk, Moose, Black Bear, Birds, Fish, Mountains – Great Views…Bring a Camera!
  • Take note of National Park Entry Permit Requirements, VISIT www.RECREATION.GOV
  • One memory here can last for All Time, especially when you stand on the Continental Divide, located here. East to the Atlantic, west to the Pacific. Wow.

Black Bear in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo and story, courtesy of National Parks Service at Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado, USA

Compiled by Forrest Fisher

Our bears are searching for something scrumptious!

With a nose 280 times more sensitive than humans, they are world champs of food hide-and-seek!

This time of year, Rocky’s black bears (there are no brown bears in the park) are especially hungry as they prepare for hibernation—a phase called ‘hyperphagia.’ Rocky has seen an uptick in bear-related property damage in the past few weeks. There are many ways our visitors can help keep our bears wild as well as protect themselves!

• When visiting by car: Store food properly in LOCKED cars with all windows ROLLED UP during the night and day. Do not store coolers (even with only water in them) in truck beds. Clean dirty dishes before storing.
• When backpacking: Store all food and scented items (deodorant, toothpaste, chapstick, sunscreen) in a bear canister. When sleeping, place this canister at least 200 feet (60 m) from your tent.
• When camping in campgrounds: do not cook or eat in your tent. Do not bring food inside your tent. Lock all food in provided food storage lockers.
• Dispose of trash promptly and appropriately (in bear-proof bins when available.)
• If you see a bear, act big! Yell and clap, and it will likely move away. Do not run from a bear, and do not abandon food in a hasty attempt to leave.
• Report any bear-related incidents to a ranger.

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

It’s also home to some of the most fragile. While only 0.2% of the US land area is alpine tundra, Rocky is lucky to say that almost 1/3 of the park is comprised of this amazing ecosystem. Because of its fragility and susceptibility to changes, it provides a canvas for scientists to explore change over time through long-term monitoring.

Sunset on the Alpine Tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park. NPS/C Hernandez 

Since 2015, Dr. Sarah Schliemann, a professor of environmental science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has been investigating the release of carbon dioxide from alpine soils, also known as ‘soil respiration’ (#ParkScience).

We are celebrating the amazing alpine tundra this year at Rocky Mountain National Park! As part of that, we are sharing Dr. Schliemann’s work through a 4-part series of posts. This is the first in that series. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park on Facebook to learn more about Dr. Schliemann’s work and other park research. See more here: https://www.nps.gov/rlc/continentaldivide/research-highlights.htm

Elk enjoy feeding on fresh growth on the unique Alpine Tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park. Kiley Voss photo.

From NPS Park Ranger, Kiley Voss, “I’m beyond excited as a Park Ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer season! I’m overjoyed for the opportunity to spend a summer living in the mountains on the west side of the park, for a moose study, for a town surrounding an alpine lake, for search and rescue training, for the headwaters of the Colorado River, for helping update signage and photographs, for a Colorado October full of aspens, for wildlife watch programs and tundra stewardship, for historic site talks and ranger-led campfires.”

Reservations are required to enter all areas of Rocky Mountain National Park from 6am to 5pm. Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm or simply visit www.Recreation.gov.

4-PLAY for Christmas! …A Love Story

  • Woodsy turkey call sounds combine screech and scratch controls
  • Henry C. Gibson and Eric Steinmetz each provided sound innovations about 120 years apart
  • Tone and tune change in one box that allows clucking, purring, yelping and cackling is about pure genius 

By Larry Whiteley

Now some of you probably read that headline, and your mind drifted off to another kind of foreplay. However, this is not that kind of foreplay. This 4-Play is something that can get a turkey gobbler all excited to come looking for love.

Let me begin with how this kind of 4-Play started. You see, the first box-style turkey call was patented in 1897 by an Arkansas farmer and fence supply manager, Henry C. Gibson, of Dardanelle. Though there may have been box calls before his patent, Gibson sparked a new industry with many imitators creating box-type turkey calls.

For over 120 years, the turkey box call has never really changed much from the original wooden box and paddle design. Then along came avid turkey hunter Eric Steinmetz. Eric built his box calls for years and had terrific success with them. He even sold a few to local hunters. Eric couldn’t get the thought out of his mind about coming up with a call that was more versatile and more effective than the standard box call design. He would think about it as he drove down the road with his traveling sales job. When he was home and wasn’t turkey hunting, he was in his shop tinkering with different designs and wood types.

He finally came up with the idea of building one with a forward-mounted wheel that would allow the paddle to be moved to both sides of the box. That way, it could be used on any of four sound rails, each made with different wood types to have four different tones. Thus came the name for his call, the 4-Play. He also found that since the wheel allowed the lid to be moved forward and backward, he could strike the sound rails in multiple locations, adding to his box call versatility. The 4-Play is a turkey box call like no other you have ever seen or used.  

The U.S. Patent Office agreed that Eric’s box call was so innovative they awarded him a Utility Patent. 4-Play turkey calls are available with Cherry, Walnut, or mahogany bodies, and all have sound rails made of walnut, eastern red cedar, sassafras, and poplar. If you’re a turkey hunter, you have to have one of these. For more information, watch videos, read reviews, and order, visit https://4playturkeycall.com/shop. Or, give them a call at 610-984-4099. They would love to visit with you.

“It is a versatile call,” says Eric. “With a little practice, you can make an almost unlimited number of tones and pitches. I just want hunters to use it and then hopefully send us pictures of them and their Gobbler. That’s what would make me feel successful.”

Eric has since sold the 4-Play patent to Brian Benolken, but he is still involved with the business, working shows, building calls, and of course, turkey hunting. He’s even won several calling competitions with his 4-Play. Brian is busy growing the business under the name of Cutting Edge Game Calls, and his goal for the company is to offer you products for making you a better and more successful turkey hunter. Brian and Eric both are continuously thinking of new innovative ideas.

This old turkey hunter has never seen anything like it in all my years of turkey hunting, so I just had to have a 4-Play. I love it! I can’t believe all the sounds I can make with it. I’m clucking, purring, yelping, and even fly down cackling with it. I can’t wait until spring turkey season. My wife can’t either! Can you believe she banned me from the house and makes me take my 4-Play and practice out in the barn?

If you are a turkey hunter, you might try hinting to your wife or girlfriend that you would surely like to have 4-Play under the tree for Christmas. If they look at you like you’re weird or something, you might have to just order online or call Cutting Edge Game Calls to order one for yourself. But if they smile, this could be a very Merry Christmas in more ways than one.

 

 

 

Florida Youth Hunting – First Deer for Kingston, 11-years old

  • Learning to shoot well, whisper in the stand, control our scent and be there at the right lucky time…made it all happen.
  • Face camo adds to the youth hunting fun, making that first shot good sure makes it unforgettable.
  • The crossbow allows a friendly introduction into accurate shooting potential at the very young age of 11 for my son.
  • An unbelievable experience, for dads and moms too!

That first moment of deer hunting success is hard to capture, but my son Kingston overcame the odds (trembling) to make an accurate shot on this healthy 7-point Florida buck in south Florida. My heart rate might have been a bot elevated too! 

By Jeff Liebler

Kingston, my 11-year old son, has always been in love with the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, campfires and more. So this summer, I made a deal with Kingston – if he completed his Florida Hunter Safety Course, put in some serious practice dialing in his crossbow – from the ground and in the treestand, we could hunt deer together and he could try for his first-ever deer. I was excited that he was excited from the get-go! Together with his cousin (Hunter), we needed to rebuild the old tree platform at his grandmother’s house where we hunt. It was a big chore, but Kingston was all in.

Last year, when he was just 10, we hunted the same stand together and he became familiar with watching for deer and using the range finder for yardage. He was my lucky charm, he helped me take a beautiful 11-point archery buck from that stand. It was fun, sharing with him in whisper-tone things about scent awareness and sound control.

Our trail cam allowed to understand there were some good bucks in the area, and lots of doe as well.

This year, he completed his hunter coursework and after practice shooting his crossbow dozens of times, checking trail cams, replenishing food sources, and hours of tree stand bonding, Kingston made it happen. 

Here’s how it went:

On Saturday, Oct. 3rd, two days after the harvest moon, we decided to try our luck in the light rain. We’ve actually spotted more deer together on rainy days than we do on dry days. We knew that day we had a chance for good luck if we could ride out the afternoon precipitation. We threw on some light camo gear and scent blocker, then snuck into the stand at 3:20PM. The black-bellied whistling ducks were sounding off above us, and eastern gray squirrels scurried around the tree trunks below us. We were crunching down on our treestand favorites, red apples, and cracker jacks. A quiet first hour, then another quiet hour, and I was becoming doubtful. Then suddenly, just before six o’clock, a doe and her yearling came by to sniff out some corn but didn’t hang out long. This was a fortunate opportunity to study their reaction to our scent and position. With optimism, we adjusted and used their presence to prepare for a shooter buck to come by. The woods went silent for a bit, the light rain kept on, and we finally ran out of things to whisper about as we approached “buck time,” usually about 6:30-sunset this time of year. 

We were right this time, and just two minutes past seven o’clock, the usually nocturnal antlered king of the swamp used the damp woods floor to silently creep into our whole corn and apple buffet feeder area. The northwest wind was on our side as the brute showed us his target zone long enough for Kingston to set his crossbow for a good shot. I picked up my phone to record the action as I watched Kingston’s elbows tremble. I mumbled, “30-yard shot, breathe, exhale, hold, then take your shot.” He squeezed the trigger.

Taking the shot in the rain, and then Kingston’s reaction. Unforgettable!

THUMP! Then a massive kick from the buck as Kingston sent the most perfect bolt home. We watched the burly buck hit the turf only 40 yards from us, and we cheered with each other.

Kingston was still shaking as he properly approached his downed deer from behind.

We celebrated his life and shared that special bond and heartfelt feeling of harvesting his first deer together. Ecstatic would be an understatement at this point, so we took extra precaution and waited a bit while we gathered our gear to safely climb down from the tree stand. When we aren’t in the woods together, Kingston and I enjoy watching Buck Commander and other hunting videos on YouTube. I took out my phone again for a video of our own. I was able to record Kingston walking up (from behind, like he learned in his hunter safety course) on his first harvested deer, a beautiful buck. The excitement on Kingston’s face as he wrapped his hands around the chocolate-colored antlers and burst out with, “It’s the 7-point!” It’s a moment I will never forget. After talking about shot placement and recording our official Florida harvest report, we snapped a quick interview to talk about how it all came together. He was so excited! Then the work and after-celebration began. Kingston’s cousins, who have also been hunting since they were kids, came by for moral support and heckling too, with his first buck, and they helped us field dress and quarter the deer and into the cooler. The rituals and shenanigans were flowing. Some of those stories are better left at deer camp with the guys if you know what I mean.

Days after a successful hunt, the work is still ongoing, but there’s something about it that doesn’t feel like work at all. On Sunday, “Mama”, as Kingston calls his mom, cut up and vacuum-sealed a little under 10-pounds of backstrap butterfly steaks and tenderloins from this Florida stud buck. Yesterday I surprised Kingston by signing him out of school early so we could go back and walk the footsteps of that first-deer memory at the tree stand one more time. Then we stopped to drop off some critical cargo, the deer head, and rack, to JC Taxidermy in Lithia. Kingston was overjoyed to now be “one of the boys” with his cousins and have his very own trophy on the wall coming soon. To complete the hunt and harvest, we drove to Riverview to stop at Al’s Wild Meat Processing, where they will be packing up roasts, maple venison sausage, and ground meat, that we will eat and share over the next year. Now that my little guy took down his big guy buck, I’m hoping to look for similar good fortune with my compound bow, as I set my sights on adding to the freezer with more local organic deer meat.

We shared that special bond and heartfelt feeling of hunting together, and sharing the outdoors.

As you know, hunting and sharing the outdoors is a true gift from our Creator.

We thank God for hunting, fishing, and wild animals every day during dinner grace. I’m happy to have a next-generation hunter as the numbers of hunting support enthusiasts are in decline. Indeed, I have high hopes that there will never be a food shortage in our family. 

Family Hunting Background:

I am fortunate enough to have my Uncle Dave, Forrest Fisher, NYS Hall of Fame Outdoorsman (and many more titles) teach me everything I know about archery hunting, starting with ethical hunting. “There’s no better way to do it than the right way – we follow the rules,” he would say every year as we walked the woods together, then we would discuss how to stay quiet, movement control, safety, how to stay warm, and more. Numerous years hunting with him have taught me about patience, silence, scent block, and how/when to let an arrow fly. Thanks to my favorite Aunt Rosalie Barus, for providing years of lodging, meals, and hugs of encouragement while I came up to visit East Aurora, NY. It’s where I could slow down and learn to hunt with arrows. I always picture her great smile in the mornings before hunting, when she would say, “Go get ’em Jeff-waa! I can’t wait to see your text that brown is down!” Graciously, I want to thank my good buddy Michael Garrido for sharing his hunting knowledge with me for the last 10 years and providing hunting opportunities to experience and ultimately pass down the tradition. I’m blessed to share our hunting enthusiasm and appreciation for harvests. Cheers to many more, Mike! 

Huge thank you to Kingston’s Granny Lois Johnsonfor providing our hunting spot and her encouragement each year for a successful hunt. Granny always reminded Kingston, “I love venison, get me some.” Kingston said he knows his late Papa was with him on this hunt, and I told him I was sure Kingston made him proud! Venison steaks headed your way soon, “Granny”! Lastly, to my amazing wife, Tiffany, who does so much to help make it possible for us to spend time in the woods together? Her excitement and “you got this” texts, while we hunt are always encouraging and makes this proud dad moment event sweeter (I needed to turn off the beeper). Her venison chili is out of this world, too! 

It takes friends, family, the right equipment, and shared passion to carry out successful hunts, especially with youngsters. Learn more about the Florida hunting rules at MyFWC.com/Deer, including the new deer harvest reporting requirement.  I’ll leave you with some product knowledge of the gear we used.

Our Gear: CenterPoint Archery, crossbow – 20” bolt with 100gr G5 Outdoors, fixed broadhead; Quaker Boy, doe bleat; Thermacell Hunting, Sawyer permethrin spray for deer ticks/bugs; Fyland UV tracker flashlight; Vortex Optics, Diamondback HD binoculars; HALO Optics, XL600-8 range finder; Wildgame Innovations, trail cam; Under Armor Hunt boots; Hunting-Made-Easy truck hitch game hoist; Wildlife Research Center, Scent Blocker; Outdoor Edge Knives & Tools, swing blade skinning knife.

2020 Renegade Bass Classic Championship, TEAMWORK and LURE SELECTION was key

  • Drop Shot Rigs with finesse soft plastics was the secret bait key
  • Scented tubes, high-floating drop-shot baits and creature critters were most effective
  • Tough weather dictated our fishing plan, the rigs we used, and boat-positioning tactics

Lenny Devos is a finesse fisherman – his new secret fishing baits have helped him and partner, Jeff Deslodges, win fishing contests all over the Canada and the USA. 

By David Gray

Lenny Devos is a fisherman’s fisherman.

He loves to fish. Fishing is his passion.

Lenny loves to talk about fishing and loves to think about fishing, and he loves to tournament fish. Lenny is very successful at it and, at my humble request, he is willing to share some secrets with us ordinary fishing folks that toss lines for bass.

We might all learn a few things from Lenny and his teammate. His tournament winning formula is simple: use the team approach.

It works and is easy to do. Lenny and his tournament partner, Jeff Desloges, are very competitive by nature. They complement each other as a team. Lenny says, “We make a great team, we think similarly, we like to fish the similarly, and we can often fish the same cover more effectively using different, but similar, tactics to figure out the fish.” Style, lure types, colors, size – all these things can make a difference. 

The Teamwork approach has produced three Renegade Bass Classic Championships, including their most recent win: the 2020 Renegade Bass Canadian Tour Championship.  

Winning the 2020 Championship did not come easy. Day 1 of the two-day Championship delivered good weather and a variety of patterns were identified. Lenny and Jeff weighed in 22.51 lbs for third place but were more than 3 lbs behind the first-place team of Scott Lecky and Steve Bean. They had weighed in an impressive 5 fish limit of 25.66 lbs. On the St. Lawrence River, where giant smallmouth limits are the rule, making up more than 3 lbs would be a challenge for Lenny and Jeff.   

Two happy anglers, Lenny Devos and Jeff Deslodges, add one more championship to their wining streak.  

On Day 2, the weather took a significant shift with a front produced heavy rain and very high winds. The combination made boat control challenging. Precision deep-water bait presentation was, therefore, also difficult to achieve. The 30 to 40 mph winds also increased the river current (speed) and added to boat control difficulty. The extreme weather change played havoc with the shallow water patterns learned on Day 1 and challenged the precise bait presentation needed for the deep-water bite. 

The “STH-Drifter” is only 2.75 inches long, and has proven deadly for finesse applications like drop-shot, jig head and the bottom hugging Flatty Jig (shown above). The drifter floats, is super-soft, salted and scented, so it moves freely off a drop-shot without having to shake it.  The “3D eyes” add to life-like appearance. 

Lenny and Jeff continued to throw the Netbait STH Finesse Series of soft baits, including the Crush Worms and STH Drifters (American Baitworks), that’s what worked on Day 1. But the heavy wind did not let up. Lenny said, “It was difficult to present our baits the way that the smallmouth wanted it.” Then teamwork kicked in. Lenny says, “Jeff and I know how each other fishes, so I concentrated on boat control to allow Jeff to focus on lure presentation.

That teamwork strategy paid off, and despite the adverse weather, we had a good day. Our Day 2 bag of 23.06 lbs gave us a tournament total of 45.57lbs, and our 3rd Renegade Bass Championship win. It took a team to win as precise bait presentation was the key.” 

The Finesse Series Tube are 40% body and 60% tail, to deliver a new undulating action, quite improved when compared to other tubes, as the slightest twitch of the rod allows a fully exposed hook in the tail section. The 60% feature allows you to trim your tail to match feeding activity. Results mean improved hook ups with hard-mouthed smallmouth bass.

Born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, Lenny loves his job as a Fire Fighter because part of the job is helping others when they need it. When he is on duty, he thinks about being a Firefighter, but Lenny thinks about fishing the rest of the time. Lenny says he is always thinking about lures, techniques, reading the water, and figuring out new lakes. Lenny was not born into a fishing family but remembered “the Day” he became a fisherman. Even though his Dad did not fish, Lenny had a driving urge to go fishing and kept asking Dad to take him.

So Dad got a crash course on how to fish from a friend, borrowed a rod and reel, and took Lenny, his 6-year-old son, fishing. Lenny recalls, “All we had was that one rod and reel, a bobber, a hook, and a worm.” That was all it took to unlock Lenny’s lifelong passion for fishing and his drive to compete in tournaments.  

Lenny credits his tournament fishing success to several things. One is planning by thinking about an upcoming tournament. We like to make a plan based on how far or close the lake is on either side of the spawn. 

Knowing that helps you target where the fish will be. Also, there is no substitute for time on the water, which is crucial for success. We use that time on the water to tell us where we will fish and what we will fish with. To quote Lenny, “A day on the water with nothing learned is a wasted day. I usually learn the most on the worst days, especially those days when you are marking fish or seeing fish, and nothing seems to be working.”

Another plus is a great tournament partner. Since Jeff and I fish the same way, we both contribute to tournament planning and strategy. Lenny started tournament fishing in 1990, and a lot of anglers are calling Lenny Devos the best bass jig fisherman in Ontario.  

Robert Greenberg, who owns the innovative American Baitworks company, and is himself an accomplished tournament angler, says Lenny could be called the “Best Bass Angler in Canada.” Quite a compliment to be called the best bass angler in a country where some say the national sport should be fishing!

Questions and Answers

Question:  What lures did you use to win the Renegade Bass Championship?

Lenny: On Day 1 we used STH (Set-The-Hook) Drifters, Finesse Tubes and the Net Bait Kickin-B Chunk off a drop-shot rig. On Day 2, after the weather change, we used Carolina Rigs with a fluorocarbon leader with the Net Beat Kickin-B Chunk. 

Question:  Lenny, what are your favorite “GO-TO” baits and techniques?

Lenny: For Smallmouth, I like to throw tubes with Green Pumpkin as a favorite color. For Largemouth, a Flipping Jig is my favorite.  

I use a stout rod, but with a more flexible tip than most guys flip with. The softer tip really helps with good hook sets. My favorite is the Halo 7’5″ KS-II Elite with 50 lb braid tied directly to the jig. I do not use a leader. I also enjoy throwing topwater frogs. The Scum Launch Frog is one of those baits that just catch fish. When conditions are right, it is hot.  

The new KSII ELITE is light, balanced and built with a custom two-finger reel seat that exposes a portion of the blank to heighten the transition of the bite to the hand. The handles are triple grade-A cork for greater comfort and sensitivity. 

Question:  What is your favorite body of water to fish?

Lenny: In Canada, my favorite is the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. In the US, I really like Stick Marsh in Florida.

Question:  What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Lenny: I always look forward to the start of the open water season and, of course, the first tournament of the year. I have been working with Freedom Tackle this year to develop several new bass jigs that work really well, and I’m excited about fishing the first production models in 2021.   

Question:  Do you have sponsors you can recommend?

Lenny: I have some sponsors that I am very proud to recommend as they do a great job taking care of customers. Hunters Bay Marine in North Bay, Ontario; Triton boats and Mercury motors; Ultra Tungsten Weights; Vigor Eyewear; American Baitworks Brands. 

 

 

American Baitworks catches Doug Minor!

Doug Minor has a passion for fishing and sharing his expertise in building award-winning, fish-catching lure teams. 

By David Gray

Doug Minor just embarked on his latest fishing adventure.  Although this is a business adventure, it is very much about fishing.  It took some talking to get Doug, who led Strike King lures through 37 years of innovation and growth, to consider coming out of retirement just weeks after retiring. But American Baitworks, a new and innovative tackle and lure-manufacturing business, was doing the talking. After every call with American Baitworks, Doug said he came away with a smile on his face.

Doug was honored for the opportunity to join the team. Their commitment to providing the angler with excellent products of superior quality at a fair price is exactly what Doug Minor believes in.  As an angler, Doug knows that understanding lure performance provides an advantage in helping to create new fish-catching lures.  As a business manager, Doug knows that combining manufacturing quality control with fish-catching passion is a philosophy that creates satisfied customers.

An angler from a very young age, and after many years in the outdoor industries, Doug says, “The most important thing about every product is that it delivers consistent performance.” As anglers, we have all experienced that on occasion, when one crankbait out of 5 or 6 of the same lures will catch more fish, they all should be the same. Doug and American Baitworks aim for the manufacturing of their lure products to consistent standards.

For Doug, fishing and hunting are everything. He was blessed to have a father that introduced him to those outdoor sports at an early age. Doug remembers being taught how to skull a small Alumacraft boat from the front seat.

Paddle in one hand, never disturbing the water and rod in the other.  Dad also instilled in Doug a love of waterfowling at an early age. So early that Doug sat in the waterfowl blind in diapers!   Doug said his Dad’s philosophy was “no baby sitter no problem,” a change of diapers and Doug went to the blind with Dad.

A passion for fishing and hunting served Doug well when it came to his work in guiding lure makers.

It is essential to design and develop new lures that work.  Many companies put more physical movement into a lure that includes life-like images with more color, but fail to spend the time to thoroughly field test the product before releasing the product for sales. According to Doug, the action is the most critical part of a lure.  And that does not mean just more movement that the angler sees.  Bass are ambush predators and the action that the bass responds to is what is essential.

An angler only sees the action from above; a fish sees the action differently. Lots of field testing is needed to make a quality product with the type of action that interests the fish.

Take one of the American Baitworks lures the NetBaits – Paca Craw. Doug knew, like so many bass anglers, that the Paca Craw is an excellent weighted hook and jig trailer that outperforms many similar types of baits. The first time Doug looked at the Paca Craw in the technical test tank, not just an angler view from the surface, he was amazed at the action and knew why it was so effective.

The deadly action of the Net Bait Papa Craw is unique, effective, deadly. 

Another passion for Doug is serving the angler well. Doug got his first tackle job in a small hardware store in Dixon, TN.  His knowledge of fishing and hunting prompted the store owner to task Doug with setting up a fishing tackle department and then expanding to hunting and firearms.  They were the only store in the area that took guns on trade, so Doug learned a lot from trading and how to treat all customers fairly. After his 37 years at Strike King, we asked Doug what his fondest memory was.  Doug said, “The team spirit. No one was the star, and there were no heroes. We were a group, a team working all together to create great products and great service collectively.”

We asked Doug, “What got him to come out of retirement and join American Baitworks?” Doug said, “The consistent striving for excellence in product performance and quality by the American Baitworks team, and selling it at a fair price.  All on the team are committed to superior lure performance with consistent quality lure to lure.” Most anglers have had the experience of a soft plastic that comes out of the bag with a bend or twist that is not part of the lure.  Doug says, “The customer paid for a bag of lures, and every lure should be consistent and perform the same.  The customer deserves that.” Doug added, “The commitment to quality is so great at American Baitworks that if one toe on a soft plastic lure is not working right, we will not sell it until we fix it. Then we know it will catch fish.”

We asked, “Why did American Baitworks acquire ScumFrog and SnagProof who have the oldest of surface frog lures on the market?” Doug answered, “There are many frog bait lures available, but none have exceeded the fishing-catching performance of these original designs.

The new painted trophy series of ScumFrog patterns are attractive, affordable and fish-catchy!

These frog baits caught so many fish when they first came out, and they still do. They represent pure perfection in frog lure-making, they have great action. The action is the most important factor to a fish and these frogs deliver that. We manufacture each of these great baits in a new Trophy Series now, to a consistent performance quality that delivers performance and value for the angler.”

Anglers can expect new lures from American Baitworks soon; they are in development.  As soon as they are thoroughly field-tested, and we know they deliver fishing catching performance, we will be offering them to anglers at a fair price. What’s next? The Freedom Tackle Mischief Minnow will be available soon. Michael Tamburro designed it, the Einstein of evolutionary and competent lure designers, urging perfection with every wiggle, waggle, sound, movement, and fish-attracting feature.

New ideas from master design experts are among notable trademarks for Doug Minor.

Each of the American Baitworks brands is managed with quality by skilled people that share a passion for fishing.

Doug said, “The new NetBaits Flex Worm is a finesse bait made with injection molding that is second to none. It has tantalizing action, and the quality of manufacture, bait-to-bait, is perfect. That’s one of our goals.”

Doug shares, “It took me a while to get used to the weekly American Baitworks staff meetings. Instead of jumping right into business, each person starts talking about the fishing trip last weekend. Things like they caught a 4-pound smallmouth and were so excited.  After that, I realized it is the embedded fishing passion that drives this company to make fish-catching products at the highest measurable quality levels and sell them for a fair price. Maybe good for an angler to know the best part.  We offer great lures with great action that catch fish, and they are made in the USA whenever possible.”

That says it all.

June 27-28 is Free Fishing Weekend in New York

Rain or Shine...fish in NYS for free. Photo courtesy of Erie County Federation of Sportsmen

Fish for free…in New York, SPECIAL DAYS for Residents and Non-Residents

Group of anglers

Every year, six days are designated in New York that allow people to fish without a fishing license. Two of those days are coming up so it’s a great time of year for those to try it for the first time or introduce someone new to the sport. (All other fishing regulations still apply.)

Future free fishing days are as follows: September 26, 2020, November 11, 2020, and February 13-14, 2021.

Not sure how where to start? DEC’s I FISH NY Beginners’ Guide to Freshwater Fishing is the perfect go-to guide for every beginning angler.

Recreational Red Snapper Season open in Gulf State and Federal Waters

Photo courtesy of Brice Williamson

The recreational Red Snapper Season will opened on June 11 for Gulf state and federal waters, and will remain open through July 25, closing on July 26.

“I’m excited to announce the beginning of Florida’s recreational Red Snapper Season in state and federal Gulf waters beginning Thursday, June 11,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World and we are proud to welcome Floridians and visitors to participate in Red Snapper Season as our state moves forward with the safe re-opening of our economy.”

“Red Snapper Season is one of the most anticipated and exciting saltwater fishing seasons that contribute to Florida being the Fishing Capital of the World,” said Eric Sutton, FWC Executive Director. “The years of collaborative work with stakeholders and partners has resulted in a significant increase in the number of fishing days over the past few years, from just a few days to 45 red snapper fishing days in Gulf state and federal waters this year.”

For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit may also participate in the season but are limited to fishing for red snapper in Gulf state waters only.

If you plan to fish for red snapper in Gulf state or federal waters (excluding Monroe County) from a private recreational vessel, even if you are exempt from fishing license requirements, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler or State Reef Fish Angler when signing up after July 1 (annual renewal required). The Gulf Reef Fish Angler designation will be expanded statewide and renamed State Reef Fish Angler starting July 1. To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” then “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” or “State Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish” tab. Sign up at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Gulf Reef Fish Anglers and State Reef Fish Anglers might receive a questionnaire in the mail regarding their reef fish trips as part of Florida’s Gulf Reef Fish Survey and State Reef Fish Survey. These surveys were developed specifically to provide more robust data for management of red snapper and other important reef fish, and have allowed FWC the unprecedented opportunity to manage Gulf red snapper in state and federal waters. If you receive a survey in the mail, please respond whether you fished this season or not.

When catching red snapper and other deep-water fish, look out for symptoms of barotrauma (injuries caused by a change in pressure) such as the stomach coming out of the mouth, bloated belly, distended intestines and bulging eyes. When releasing fish with barotrauma, use a descending device or venting tool to help them survive and return to depth. Learn more about fish handling at MyFWC.com/FishHandling.

To learn more about the recreational red snapper season in Gulf state and federal waters, including season size and bag limits, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers,” which is under the “Regulations by Species – Reef Fish” tab.

The federal Gulf season for for-hire operations with federal reef fish permits is June 1 through Aug. 1.

Black Bass Fishing Season Opens June 20

Photo courtesy of Bill HIlts - Niagara USA

Black Bass Fishing …could be the most fishing fun for all ages.

Not only does June 20th mark the first day of summer,St. Lawrence smallmouth bass but it’s also the traditional season opener for black bass (largemouth bass and smallmouth bass) in New York. They’re considered the state’s #1 sportfish for good reason – they’re a lot of fun to catch and they’re found throughout the state.

The statewide black bass season runs from the 3rd Saturday in June through November 30, followed by a catch-and-release season that begins on December 1 and continues until the start of the regular season. During the traditional harvest season, anglers can possess up to five bass as long as they are 12 inches or longer. Some waters have special fishing regulations, so be sure to check the current fishing regulations before heading out to fish.

For an effective and easy-to-rig set up, check out the Wacky Rig article on DEC’s website.

Salmon Tourney Winners Find Big Spring Fish! Wilson, New York

Photo courtesy of Bill HIlts - Niagara USA

Winner of the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament June 6 was the U-Betcha team led by Capt. Chris Vogt of Albion.

Congratulations to the U-Betcha team led by Capt. Chris Vogt of Albion. They won the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament and nearly $15,000 in cash last weekend. The tournament is based on the best six salmon for the day and their 6 fish weighed in at 90.92 pounds for a total score of 150.92 points based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound.

Second place team was Elise K. from Michigan, less than 3 points behind the winning U-Betcha team.

Second place was the Elise K team from Michigan, less than 3 points behind. The Hound Dog team from Wellsville was less than a point behind them. Big fish for the tournament was a 22.34-pound king salmon reeled in by the Tri-Lakes Sportfishing team headed up by William Jennings. Vogt found his winning combination between 4 Mile Creek and the red buoy marker drop off on the Niagara Bar in 250 feet of water. Rigged cut bait and Stingray spoons worked best for him during the tournament.

Blake Kowalski of Tonawanda holds up a couple king salmon for the Tough Duty 2 team that placed 5th in the Wilson Harbor Invitational tourney last weekend.

Capt. Mike Johannes of Ransomville, has been doing good about 6 miles west of Wilson in about 150 to 300 feet of water. Mostly dark spoons such as Carbon 14 and Seasick Waddler patterns have been best in the magnum size. Some fish have come on divers 150 feet back with 8-inch e-chip flashers and flies, too. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports that fishing is tough but 200 to 280 feet of water right out in front of Olcott has been producing a few big kings over 20 pounds.  Depth varies. Mag spoons in green, white, black, and lemons.   Chartreuse and glow flies or meat rigs are working, too.  Some perch have been coming from 12 Mile Creek and Tuscarora over in Wilson.

Whether you are fishing above or below Niagara Falls in the Niagara River, pay attention to the border. Canada has once again shifted its policy to keep anglers and boaters from entering Canadian water space, announcing huge fines and possible boat confiscation for violators. The change took place June 1 and it will be revisited again on June 21, but it could be extended again.

Lower Niagara river action has been hampered by the arrival of the moss according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Fishing has been a bit slow. There are still a few steelheads up in Devil’s Hole believe it or not with water temperatures into the mid-60s. Bass action has been tough. Best spots have been at Joe Davis and the Coast Guard drift for boats. Tubes work best.

Mike Rzucidlo and Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a white bass double header in the lower Niagara River.

From shore, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been using jigs. Bass action has been tough. About the only fish really cooperating has been sheepshead and he has caught some bruisers this week.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls is feeling a bit sheepish with a bomber of a freshwater drum in the Niagara Gorge on light line.

On the Bar near the green buoy, Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reports some decent Coho action on MagLips off three-way rigs. Upper river bass action has been tough according to Capt. Ryan Shea. Fish are on the beds. Ned rigs have been producing a few fish, but you must work for them. There are some walleyes around, too.

This is National Fishing and Boating Week through June 14th. Get out there and enjoy our waters. Charter captains are back operating again. Stay safe!

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

Inline image 2
Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303

New York Online Hunter Education Course…24,000 NEW HUNTERS!

  • DEC Announces Extension of Online Hunter Education Course Through August
  • Offerings Now Include Online Bowhunter Course

24,000 Hunters Have Completed Online Course since April; New York State Sporting License Sales Up Nearly 10 Percent

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC’s online hunter education course will continue to be available through Aug. 31, 2020. All hunters must complete a mandatory hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license. In addition, DEC is making an online bowhunter education course option available beginning July 15. Since mid-April, more than 24,000 hunters have successfully completed the online hunter education course, about 20 percent more than typically take it. Of those completing the online course about 40 percent were women, compared to 27 percent female participants in the traditional in-person course. In addition, almost half of the people taking the online course were 30 years of age or older, compared to 30 percent for the in-person course.

“Many new hunters went afield for this year’s turkey season and we look forward to continuing to welcome new hunters with this online safety course,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Hunter safety is our top priority, and expanding the availability of these online courses will help us engage more New Yorkers who are ready to be a part of our state’s proud hunting tradition.”

All hunters who wish to hunt big game with a bow must complete a mandatory bowhunter education course in addition to the required hunter education course. The online hunter education course was first made available in April after in-person hunter education courses were cancelled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The online course provided an opportunity for first-time hunters who wanted to go afield during New York’s spring turkey season to receive their hunter education certificate before the season started in May. Extending the availability of the online course and adding the bowhunter course option will allow first-time hunters and new archery hunters the opportunity to get their required hunter education and bowhunter education certificates prior to the start of the fall hunting seasons.

DEC’s Hunter Education Program (HEP) is partnering with Kalkomey Enterprises, a company that specializes in hunter education, to offer the online courses that can be completed in six to eight hours. The online courses cover all the topics of traditional in-person courses including firearm and bow safety, tree stand safety, hunting ethics, wildlife conservation, and New York State hunting laws and regulations.

Students who successfully complete the online courses and pass the final exam will receive their hunter education certificate or bowhunter education certificate. The courses are available to individuals 11 and older, but only those 12 or older may purchase a hunting license. Students can complete the courses from a computer, tablet, or smart phone at any time. Visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program page to learn more or to sign up.

To take and receive a hunter education certificate or bowhunter education certificate through the online course, participants must be New York State residents. The cost of the hunter education course is $19.95 and the cost for the bowhunter education course is $30. Both courses can be accessed at DEC’s website. The online courses will be available through Aug. 31, 2020.

Sporting License Sales Increase Nearly 10 Percent in 2020

As New Yorkers continue to recreate locally to prevent the spread of COVID-19, DEC has seen a nearly 10 percent increase in sporting license sales overall. For the period that roughly coincides with New York State on PAUSE, resident turkey permits increased 49 percent, junior hunting licenses increased by 60 percent or more, and resident hunting licenses increased by 130 percent. Certain types of lifetime licenses also increased by as much as 146 percent. A combination of factors, including the availability of online hunter education for new hunters and time available to participate in the spring turkey season, likely contributed to the increase.

Tens of thousands of additional resident fishing licenses were also sold compared to the same time last year, with increases of 30 percent for annual and one-day fishing licenses. Non-resident and senior fishing license sales decreased as anticipated following the COVID-19-related guidance issued by New York and other states.

For more information on recreational opportunities available in New York State visit DEC’s website. New Yorkers are encouraged to engage in responsible recreation close to home during the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19. DEC recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. For more information, go to DEC’s website.

Shooting Range…Building Out Your Kit, Go Prepared

  • Want to have a more successful and safe shooting range trip? Make sure you’ve got the right gear
By Blake Tabb
  Do you want to have a more successful and safer shooting range trip? Make sure you’ve got the right gear! Preparation for range day begins with the right range bag and ends with it being filled with all the things you need to have a fun and productive day.
  The right range bag is the Ulfhednar UH010 Long Day Range Bag. It’s designed in Norway from ultra-tough Cordura nylon, with best-in-class YKK covered zippers and an ergonomic carrying strap with a non-slip material, so it will stay snugged up against your shoulder no matter how far you have to walk. A large exterior side pocket has a fold flat “table” with a soft pad for small cleaning/repair jobs, and there are even more, well-padded exterior and interior pockets. The Molle system on top and on one side makes attaching and removing extra pockets and accessories quick and easy. The bag measures a generous 23.6 x 15.75 x 9.85 inches, and is Ulfhednar’s signature grey. It’s built Viking tough to last a lifetime.
Being steady is a must for long-range precision rifle shooting, which means you need a support from which you can rest both the rifle’s forend and buttstock. Properly resting the buttstock is best achieved with a squeeze-type pillow, which is placed under the buttstock and slightly squeezed to allow it to expand to fine-tune the elevation position of the rifle on the target. Ulfhednar’s UH105 Squeezy Support Pillow is perfect for the task. Measuring 3 x 4.3 inches and weighing just 12 ounces, it’s made from a soft, yet rugged, neoprene material, and has easy access to customize. It’s the choice of many serious competition shooters around the globe.
  How about a sling? The Ulfhednar UH303 sling is so much more than an inexpensive rifle carrier. This sling features PRS non-elastic web and adjustable cam-buckle so you can adjust the sling length quickly; one of the two solid plastic clamps adjusts the total length of the loop, the other locks the loop around the arm. Together they ensure that once an adjustment has been made, it will stay there until you physically change it. The sling is also so light that it is not felt on your arm. It’s been designed to help keep you steady in all shooting positions.
  To carry ammunition and stack it next to your shooting position for quick and easy access, the Ulfhednar UH110 Versatile Ammunition Folder is made from water-resistant Cordura nylon. It features a durable carrying strap and holds up to 40 rifle cartridges. It can be set up in a triangle and locked with Velcro. There’s also an exterior waterproof table pocket that can be removed and replaced with the four included cartridge strips, each holding 10 rounds each. Two and two cartridge strips can be mounted together so that you get two cartridge strips with 20 shots in each.
You also need a rifle case. Usually, a rifle case is a rifle case, but how about a gun case that doubles as a top-end shooting mat? That’s what you get with the Ulfhednar UH040 BASE CAMP. Sporting backpack straps on the underside in addition to a top carrying handle. The UH040 is easy to sling on a shoulder and tote to the range or into the field. Once there, the bag folds out to reveal a full-length shooting mat measuring 41 x 79 inches. While an integrated shooting mat is pretty useful on its own, Ulfhednar takes it to another level by utilizing a rubber material (like you’d see in car tires) on certain surfaces of the mat to add friction. The rubber is laid specifically on the mat to give shooters a little resistance while shooting, so shooters’ elbows and/or the firearm itself doesn’t slip when firing. The product also has a lot of storage pockets, Molle web for attaching extra pockets or other equipment, a zippered inner storage pocket, a channel for storing your cleaning/push rod, and a detachable pocket for tables, and it also comes with a two-foot extension lower leg mat and extended bipod mat. It’s made from Cordura nylon and features covered YKK zippers.
 
About Ulfhernar – Ruggedized Norwegian produced precision shooting gear. Founded and managed by a
40-year champion shooter, Ulfhednar is producing a line of products that are incredibly innovative, durable, and exactly in time with the growing PRS market in the US. Long Range/PRS are the largest shooting sports in Norway boasting 6,000 registered competitors. 
For more information, please visit WWW.ULFHEDNAR.NO.

Best Binoculor NAMED for Spotting Birds…German Precision Optics (GPO-USA)

  • Waterproof and fog-proof, tough aluminum eyecup tubes
  • Lightweight and compact, custom-molded hard case
  • Lifetime Warranty from German Precision Optics (GPO)

GPO USA PASSION™ 8×42 ED Binocular Wins Best Birding Binocular Award – Best Binoculars Reviews (BBR) has awarded the GPO PASSION 8×42 ED binocular with its 2020 Best Birding Binocular. Now in its tenth year, BBR awards the very best binoculars they have fully tested and reviewed in the past 12 months in a range of categories.

BBR website publisher commented about the quality of the GPO 8×42 binocular: “For just about all uses, but especially important for birding, an image that is of excellent quality and true to life is a critical feature. This is because it not only ensures you can fully appreciate the beauty of the birds in all their glory but sometimes, tiny differences in plumage colorations can make the difference when trying to positively identify one sub-species from another.

“As most birders will know, having a wide field of view is another extremely important feature as it enables you to more easily find and then follow your subjects, this is especially true of the small faster-moving ones at closer ranges! At 426ft wide at 1,000 yards, these GPO binoculars have an extremely wide view that ranks up there with the very widest 8×42 binoculars currently on the market and which is why I would certainly describe them as being a wide angle binocular.

“As with the predecessor, another reason I chose these over the other contenders is down to them having an excellent build quality level and with it a performance that was well above what I would expect to find in just about every area.

“Indeed I would go as far as to say that these GPO binoculars have no major weaknesses, which makes them a very versatile instrument that will not only stand out in most types of birding but also many other areas and thus I feel they rank up there with the best binoculars for 2020 overall.”

To be eligible for a BBR Award and be considered one of the best binoculars for 2020, it has to have been fully reviewed and tested by BBR. According to the website, BBR reviews are written after thoroughly researched, used and then tested and compared to other binoculars in its class.

To read the extensive review on the GPO PASSION 8×42 ED binocular, visit https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.com/binocular-awards2020.php#bestbirdingbinoculars2020.

About GPO USA: German Precision Optics was founded on the premise that design, engineering and quality management is 100 percent controlled in Germany to its strictest standards, yet products can be produced at some of the largest production facilities worldwide. This unique corporate structure allows GPO to offer the highest quality products with better features at a significantly better price. The company is 100-percent confident that all its products will not only function perfectly but also exceed all expectations. Therefore, GPO USA has created an industry-leading Spectacular Lifetime Warranty™. With outstanding professional service, GPO USA will take care of its products before, during and after the purchase at no charge— EVER. Founded in 2016, GPO has its U.S. headquarters in Richmond, Va. For more information on GPO USA, visit www.gpo-usa.com or call 844-MY-BINOS (844-692-4667).

Firearm Industry in support of HISTORIC Senate Passage of Great American Outdoors Act

Rules, Regulations, NICs check - all required for legal firearm ownership in the USA. Photo courtesy of NSSF

NSSF®, the firearm industry trade association, praised the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, (H.R. 1957). This historic legislation, which received overwhelming bipartisan support, is among the most meaningful legislative measures for sportsmen conservationists ever. The Senate’s approval is a major step forward toward delivering on the promise of sustained wildlife conservation, public land hunting and recreational shooting on behalf of current and future generations of outdoorsmen and women.

Safety above all. Photo is courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)

“This is a monumental achievement that demonstrates a continued legacy of bipartisanship on wildlife, public lands and outdoor recreation issues,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “When enacted, this legislation will fulfill a promise to future generations that conservation, access to public lands and outdoor recreation including hunting and recreational shooting will be safeguarded well into the next century.”
The Great American Outdoors Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), would ensure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog of public lands and water projects across the United States. Those projects include wildlife habitat conservation, road and trail repairs and increased recreational access to our public lands and waters.
The legislation next heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval before it goes to the White House for signature, for which President Donald Trump has already indicated his support.
NSSF is especially grateful for Sens. Gardner and Daines sponsoring the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for placing this as priority legislation in the Senate and for Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) for their bipartisan leadership. The legislation was introduced with 55 bipartisan co-sponsors.
The legislation builds upon the success of the NSSF-supported John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which also enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Trump in 2019.
GAOA will provide $9.5 billion over five years for deferred federal public lands and waters maintenance projects, with $3 billion set aside for infrastructure restoration on hundreds of millions of acres for increased access for America’s sportsmen and women. The Great American Outdoors Act will also provide $900 million annually for permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The legislation would also ensure that a significant portion of LWCF funding is dedicated to increasing public access for hunting, recreational shooting, fishing and outdoor recreation.
Sportsmen and women play a critical conservation role in the nation’s wildlife resources and to date, hunters and purchasers of firearms and ammunition, collectively, are the single largest source of wildlife conservation funding, contributing more than $13 billion since the enactment of the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
About NSSF – NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

USA Veterans CATCH FUN and FISH at Lake Erie WALLEYE EVENT

  • Chautauqua County, NY – Veterans enjoyed this free event sponsored by WNY Heroes, Inc. – they caught fish and line-stretching fun departing from Chadwick Bay Marina/Clarion Hotel.
  • Chartreuse stickbaits (Yaleye Lure) and spinner/worm rigs (Eye-Fish Rigs) were the hot lures
  • Wind and waves did not deter volunteer charter captains from finding the walleye

As wind and waves whipped up the water surface, the walleye went on a big feed. I’m holding this 9-pounder up for a picture with Barb Erdt. Jim Klein Photo

By Forrest Fisher

As military veterans parked their cars and trucks in the limited spaces available near Chadwick Bay Marina, located in downtown Dunkirk, NY, Program Director Lynn Magistrale from WNY Heroes Inc. (www.wnyheroes.org) led the charge at sunrise registration activities on Friday, June 26, 2020. Magistrale was joined by event master-mind planners, Captain Jim Steel and his wife, Diane, in conjunction with their volunteer promotion of this event at Innovative Outdoors Tackle Shop HQ (https://innovative-outdoors.com/), along with other volunteer groups and professional resources to make this event unforgettable for military veterans that had registered with WNY Heroes, Inc.

Some 24 volunteer expert boat captains joined forces with WNY Heroes, Inc., to share walleye fun for military veterans that had served our country during any era. Forrest Fisher photo

Military veterans filled the boats of 24 volunteer fishing crews that shared their on-the-water fish-catching skills and expert watercraft leadership. The crews donated their time, gear and special services for this impressive extravaganza fishing event during this time of worldwide pandemic. All, just to say thanks to our military veterans. Hats off to all the volunteers.

With 18 walleye in the live well, we headed back to the dock and the fish-cleaning station. We had brought 22 fish to our lines during the morning trip, releasing the smaller fish. Forrest Fisher Photo

It was a privilege to meet retired US Navy Petty Officer 1st class, Barbara Erdt, and many other veterans. The fishing was absolutely great as we shared rod-exchanging maneuvers in fire-drill mode with exciting line-stretching moments for the next 3 hours, catching 22 walleye, keeping 18 for the freezer, while fishing aboard Eye-Fish Charters with Captain Jim Klein. I shared my experiences as a US Navy veteran with Barb, but I left after 4 years as a Petty Officer 2nd Class, serving during the Vietnam era on the flight deck aboard the USS Independence/CVA62, maintaining A6-Intruder fighter-bomber jets. Erdt had served during the era of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom from 1989-2004, then with the US Navy active reserve. We compared locker room stories and laughed about morning reveille at boot camp.

The new Eye-Fish THUMPER BLADE was among the hottest lures on board. Forrest Fisher Photo

 

 

 

 

One of the hot lures, the Yaleye commemorative lure designed for the recent Southtowns Walleye Association 9-day tournament.

With a strong west wind of 12-14 mph at the morning take-off, we headed west about 15 miles and focused on 45 to 65 feet of water. While trolling an assortment of crankbaits and spinner/worm rigs, we enjoyed moments of 3-fish on at the same time on several occasions. The sizzling hot lure was a 2-hook Eye-Fish Firetiger (color) spinner/worm rig (https://www.eye-fish.com) and the commemorative Yaleye Mooneye fish lure (chartreuse w/faded blue rib color, www.yaleyefish.ca) from the recent Southtowns Walleye Association 9-day fishing contest. Barb caught the biggest fish at 9.04 pounds, adding to the total number of really large and healthy walleye already swimming in the live well.

Wind and Waves – We fished from 8AM-11AM and headed back to port as the wind srated to peaked with 22 mph gusts. Forrest Fisher Photo

The presentation method was not complicated, but the boat location and speed was fine-tuned as the wind picked up pushing 24 mph gusts from the southwest. Klein said, ”We caught fish from both sides of the boat using four lines on the big boards and two riggers.

Running the downriggers near the bottom produced fish, but then popping them with the Eye-Fish spinner rigs caught fish too. Forrest Fisher photo

The boards were trailing the lures on 5-color leadcore with a 40-foot fluorocarbon leader and riggers with spinner/worm rigs set back 50 feet while deployed 35 to 55 feet down. The boat speed was 1.4 to 2.6 mph, walking the boat in and out from shore, northeast to southeast, then northwest to north east, as the boat was pushed laterally due east with the strong wind. We never even had time to put the diving planes in! Was a fun time!”

Captain Jim Klein (L) and retired USN 1st Class Petty Officer, Barb Erdt, enjoy the picture taking moment on the trip back to the dock. Forrest Fisher Photo

Barb Erdt said, “I can’t wait to tell my brother about this Lake Erie trip. He fishing quite a lot, but for some reason says walleye fishing is tough this year. Captain Jim made it look pretty easy, thank you Captain!” Erdt added, “I can’t wait to share these fish with my two kids and my two grandkids.”

Event master-mind and organizer, Captain Jim Steel said, “While we scaled down this event to about ¼ of what it usually is, due to the pandemic social distancing rules, we still had 24 boats out there today, including two out-of-state charter captains that volunteered their time for our relatively local Western NY event.

They stayed at the Clarion Hotel, paid for their own fuel and food, never asked for any expenses.” Captain Jim followed, “These two long-distance volunteers, like all of our other master-angler volunteers on the water, just said they wanted to be here to say thanks to those who served to provide the USA freedoms we enjoy each and every day.” Diane Steel added, “The NYSDEC provided free fish-cleaning services for the veterans today too, preparing more than 100 walleye to take home for their kitchen dinner meal. From the conservation side, the DEC biologists and technicians collected age and health data for their study and record books too.”

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation staff volunteered efforts to clean fish for the veterans. Forrest Fisher photo.

Besides a big resealable bag of fresh walleye fillets (they sell for $19.95/pound in Florida!), every veteran left with a red/white/blue fishing rod/reel outfit and a tasty box lunch for the trip back home.

The mission of WNY Heroes is to provide veterans and their families with access to essential services, including financial assistance and resources that help support their lives and sustain their dignity. To help support their life-saving services, WNY Heroes does rely on volunteers for many functions. To learn more about them check out www.wnyheroes.org.

For area accommodations, vacation lodging, charter fishing contacts and services and hotel information/discounts, visit www.tourchautauqua.com. 

 

It’s Amazing what can Happen…When you Teach a Boy to Shoot a Bow

  • Mentors play an important role in our outdoor heritage and future

David Merrill with a huge elk that didn’t get away.

By Larry Whiteley

David Merrill grew up hiking, fishing, and camping in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. It was an amazing place where a young David would discover many life experiences in the great outdoors as he roamed through the mountains and valleys of this beautiful place.

In 1996, when he was 14-years old, his Uncle Kendall introduced him to archery. It was the beginning of a life-long passion for shooting a bow and bow-hunting. That passion continues to burn deep in his heart today. This world needs more people like Uncle Kendall who take the time to introduce kids to archery. It could change their lives, like it did David’s.

Later on in life, David moved to Alaska and lived among the wildlife and wild places of what is called the last frontier. While there, he spent every free moment he had out in the wilds, hunting Dall sheep with his bow and fishing for salmon.  The adventure and wide open spaces of Alaska is something a lot of us only dream about. I dream about it every time I watch the Kilcher family and life on their homestead on my favorite TV show – Alaska: The Last Frontier.

It was hard to leave Alaska, but with a growing family of his own now, he felt the need to be closer to extended relatives. So, in 2013 David and his wife, Crystal, moved and started their family among the mountains of Wyoming. Their two boys are the joy of his life. Here, he continued his passion of bow hunting for wild game. David says, “I cannot think of a purer way to feed my loved ones than with wild, free-range, organic game.”

In 2015, David was on a backcountry elk hunt with a friend. His bow was strapped to his pack as they walked along a mountain trail. They came around a corner in the trail and walked up on a huge bull elk. His friend hurried to unstrap David’s bow from the pack. He finally got it out, handed it to David and he drew it back, but it was too late. The elk of a lifetime was gone.

The vision of that monster elk still haunted him on the drive back home. He told his friend that he was never going to let that happen again to him or anyone else. That same passion he has for bow hunting started him creating prototypes of a product that would allow him to carry his bow safely and securely, but within easy simple reach to get out.

My grandson Hunter carries his bow with a Bow Spider.

After much trial and error, he got his product exactly how he wanted it. He called his lightweight, round bow holder – the Bow Spider. You attach an aluminum arm to your bow’s riser and that slides into a slot on the round receiver. The bow is held securely in place on the back of your pack with a gravity-locking system, but slides out easily when you need it. “If you can scratch the back of your head you can grab your bow and pull,” he said. “You’re going to be able to manage your bow very quickly and efficiently, to get it when you need it. It works with any backpack and any bow, whether you’re on horseback or on foot.”

Using the belt that comes with the Bow Spider, you can easily attach it to your backpack, hip, binocular harness, truck headrest, blind or tree. Using the bolts that come with it you can also mount it to any sturdy flat surface for storage. It is the most innovative bow packing system I have ever seen. My grandson has one, loves it and can’t wait to use it this fall out west.

The Bow Spider comes in green, tan or black. The $84.95 price is well worth it to keep you from having bad dreams about the huge elk or monster buck you might have tagged if you could reach your bow quicker and easier.

If you’re a bowhunter after western big game and strap your bow to your pack, you need a Bow Spider. If you are a whitetail hunter and need your hands free to get to your stand or if you’re trying to work your way through the woods stalking a big buck, you need a Bow Spider. Go to www.bowspider.com and check them out. Watch the online videos to see how easy the Bow Spider works.

The Bow Spider System.

If you are a crossbow hunter like me, you are probably thinking it sure would be nice to have one of these to use with my crossbow. Well, your wish is granted. A Bow Spider for crossbow hunters is coming soon.

Being a veteran myself, I think it’s great they give our veterans a 15% discount. All you have to do is call them at 307-438-9290 to place your order and get your discount. “We owe everything we have in America to the veterans that have served and are serving to keep our freedoms alive,” Merrill said. “Our discount program is simply a small way for us to say thank you to those who have done so much for us.”

David’s products are 100% made in America and I love that. David, Crystal and their company also give a percentage of their sales to several recognized American conservation organizations. To me that says a lot. These organizations make it possible for hunters to go to these wild places across this great land to enjoy our hunting traditions.

The aspens are displaying their brilliant colors. There’s a coolness to the air. David is sitting on a rock looking at the majesty of the mountains that surround him. Ravens are talking to each other. An elk bugle echoes in the distance. He is thinking of his Uncle Kendall and the day he taught him to shoot a bow. He is thinking of the game he has taken since then and the places he has hunted. He is thinking it’s time to teach his boys to shoot a bow. He is thinking there would not be a Bow Spider if it were not for Uncle Kendall. It’s amazing what can happen when you teach a boy to shoot a bow.

Click the picture to visit with Crystal Merrill – see how to use the Bow Spider! 

The Eagle Sees the Round Rainbow

  • Eagles are an American Icon
  • Eagles signified majestic strength from the ancient times of Babylon, Egypt and Rome
  • Eagles are part of Native American tribe mythology
  • Eagles…respect, honor, tradition, nature, awe.

What it must be like to be an Eagle…!

By Larry Whiteley

A symbol of our nation.

The bald eagle’s role as our nation’s symbol goes back to 1782 when it was added to the Great Seal of the United States. The eagle was selected because of its great strength, stately looks, long life, and because it is native to North America. The design went on to appear on official documents, currency, flags, public buildings and other government-related items. The bald eagle became an American icon. To us as Americans, along with our flag, the bald eagle represents freedom and all that freedom stands for and is worth fighting for.

Since ancient times the bald eagle has been considered a sign of strength. Babylon, Egypt and the Roman legions all used the eagle as their standard, or symbol. Eagles figure prominently in the mythology of nearly every Native American tribe. In most Native cultures, eagles are considered medicine birds with impressive magical powers and play a major role in their religious ceremonies.

In some of their legends, an eagle serves as a messenger between humans and the Creator. Eagle feathers were earned by Plains Indians as war honors and worn in their feathered head dresses. In some tribes today, eagle feathers are still given to soldiers returning from war or to people who have achieved a great accomplishment.

Sitting on a limb on a mountain high.

Eagles are also mentioned 17 times in the Bible. My favorite is Isaiah 40:31, “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

In the wild, a Bald Eagle will live 30-35 years. A full-grown Bald Eagle has a wingspan of up to 7-feet. They can fly up to 30 miles an hour and dive at 100 miles an hour. Eagles feed primarily on fish, supplemented by small mammals, waterfowl and carrion.

Bald Eagles mate for life and an established pair will use the same nest for many years. Over time, some nests become enormous and can reach a diameter of 9 feet and weigh as much as 2 tons. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs and both parents share incubation and guard them diligently against predators. While the chicks are small, the parents move about the nest with their talons balled up into fists to avoid harming them.

For such a powerful bird, the Bald Eagle emits surprisingly weak-sounding calls that are usually a series of high-pitched whistling or piping notes. The female may repeat a single, soft, high-pitched note that is said to be unlike any other calls in nature.

Fishermen who recognize the sound of an eagle usually stop fishing just to watch this majestic bird soaring in a bright blue sky. The bonus is when they dive from the sky to the water to do a little fishing themselves. Campers, hikers, canoers and kayakers are sometimes also treated to the sights and sounds of an eagle. It’s a memory that stays with you forever.

Fishing for a meal.

Many years ago I was flying back home to Springfield, MO from Chicago in an old prop airplane. The plane flew very low all the way back. As I watched out the window I thought to myself, “This must be what an eagle sees as he fly’s around.” I pulled out a piece of paper and started writing a poem and finished it before we landed.

A round rainbow is called a “glory.”

The line about the round rainbow was added later and the title was changed after my wife and I were flying back from Florida. When we looked out the window of the plane, we were amazed to see a round rainbow with the shadow of the airplane right in the middle of it.

Rainbows are created when the sun reflects off rain drops to mirror a multitude of colors. Most people don’t realize that a rainbow gets its traditional semicircle shape from the horizon because we are only seeing half of it. When the same atmospheric conditions that create a rainbow are observed from an airplane or by an eagle, a rainbow is a full circle. A round rainbow is called a “glory” that NASA defines as an optical phenomenon. To us, this “glory” was a sign that God was watching over us that day. He still is!

What must it be like to be an eagle…!

THE EAGLE SEES THE ROUND RAINBOW
By Larry Whiteley

What must it be like to perch on a limb
in a tree on a mountain high?
Then look above and spread your wings
and fly into the sky.

The eagle sees the round rainbow
that has no beginning or end.
He sees the flatlands, hills and valleys
and places I’ve never been.

What must it be like to look below
at cloud shadows on the trees?
It must be wonderful
to be so wild and free. 

The traffic on the roads must appear
like ants continually on the go.
Following straight and winding roads
to places only they know. 

What must it be like to fly along the rivers
carving out the land?
Over ponds, lakes and oceans
all created by God’s mighty hand. 

The patchwork quilt of the fields below,
the prairies, the deserts, the plains.
How could you ever get tired of looking
when what you see is never the same? 

What must it be like to fly over rows of houses,
giant factories, malls and other stuff?
For a majestic bird so used to nature’s beauty
neon lights, billboards and concrete must be tough. 

I wonder if tears come to an eagle’s eyes
and they fall to the ground.
When he sees streams filled with trash instead of fish
and pollution all around. 

What must it be like to fly above
when the seasons come and go?
To see the landscape turn from green to gold and red
to the white of a winter snow. 

What must it be like to be an eagle
and soar way up high?
Oh the sights we would behold
if we could see through an eagle’s eyes.

 

Bow Spider: The Ultimate Solution for Packing Compound Bows Afield

The product is proudly made in the USA and gives one percent of all sales to conservation. The company also offers veterans a 15 percent discount on all products.

  • You see the Buck, the Elk, the Moose…but your bow is somehow unreachable. Now, a proven solution.
  • Reduce FROM a the game of CHANCE…TO a game of CHOICE. 
  • Mount on your hip, on your treestand, on your backpack while hiking in. The Intuitive design makes bow retrieval fast and easy in any situation.

One of the big hassles of hunting with a compound bow is figuring out how to securely and safely pack and carry it afield, yet keep it handy enough that you can immediately spring into action should an unforeseen opportunity arise. The solution is simple: Bow Spider — the quickest and easiest bow retrieval system on the market. Whether you are a backpack hunter, spend your time up a tree, or need both hands free when crossing a field while carrying decoys, blinds, and other accessories, Bow Spider is the answer you’ve been looking for.

The concept is simple and revolves around a lightweight, roundish bow holder that comes with a sturdy belt and long bolts, allowing for multiple ways to secure your bow. Use the belt to attach your bow to your pack, hip, truck headrest, blind, or tree. Bow Spider can also be easily attached to a binocular harness or backpack. In fact, it can be mounted to any sturdy flat surface for secure and easy storage – even a wall.

Here’s how it works. An aluminum arm attaches to the bow’s riser, and slides into a slot on the lightweight, injection-molded receiver, which can be worn on the included belt or attached via long bolts to other objects. The bow is held securely in place via a gravity-locking system, yet slides out with minimal effort. You have to either pull it out or turn it upside down to get the bow out. With Bow Spider, you can:

  • Mount on Your Hip: Use the straps provided to mount the Bow Spider to your side using a belt or on your pack frame belt. Or you can attach it to your pack frame waist band. Both of these options provide for easy access while hiking or exploring for game as well as during professional archery shooting competitions.
  • Mount in Your Tree Stand: Use the Bow Spider to secure your bow when hunting from a tree stand for quick, quiet access. Carry it up securely on your back and cinch to the tree! This eliminates the need for a pull rope to pull your bow up after you are already in the tree stand. Once in the tree stand utilize the provided strap to attach the Bow Spider to the tree for quick access.
  • Use on Your Pack: You can choose either to temporarily or permanently mount Bow Spider to your pack. By using the provided straps it can be mounted temporarily. For a permanent or semi-permanent mount you can use the provided bolts. This is a true game changer for those long backcountry hikes.
  • Safe Storage for Home or Travel: Use the provided strap to affix the Bow Spider to your seat while driving. You can also screw the Bow Spider to the wall for long term storage in your home.

The Bow Spider is available in green, tan, or black, and has a MSRP of $84.95. To see how it works, check out this short YouTube video quick access: Click Here

When every second counts, quickly swing your bow into action thanks to the amazing new Bow Spider. For more information, and to order visit www.bowspider.com.

About Recreational Archery Development LLC (RAD, LLC): Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Kinnear, WY – RAD, LLC is a leading designer and manufacturer of innovative products for the outdoor industry, including the Bow Spider brand of products. Bow Spider’s intuitive design makes bow retrieval fast and easy in any situation. The product is proudly made in the USA and gives one percent of all sales to conservation. The company also offers veterans a 15 percent discount on all products. (To take advantage of this offer, orders need to be called in directly to the company at (307) 438-9290.) For additional information on RAD, LLC and the Bow Spider brand of products write to: RAD, LLC, PO Box 171, Kinnear, WY 82516; call (307) 438-9290; email info@bowspider.com; visit www.bowspider.com.

Newborn Wildlife, You Can Look but Don’t Touch

  • Be careful, view animals from a distance and do not touch

By Jason Houser

In the next several weeks, wildlife throughout the country will be bearing young. This is an awesome time of year and is a chance to see newborn elk calves, deer, pronghorn fawns, as well as many others. At the same time, I hope you know that when you come across young animals, please leave newborn wildlife alone and keep a distance.

It is so tempting when you see a young, fragile animal, to want to step in and help. It is the instinct of many people to feel compassion for the animal, but that animal was more than likely put there by its mother for safekeeping.

It is an amazing experience to get the chance to see the splendors of the outdoors, but please view animals from a distance and do not touch. Spring is an important time in a newborn’s life, and interference from humans can put their life at risk.

Most mammals hide their young and return periodically to nurse. People finding young animals with no adult around often assume the newborns have been abandoned, but this is rarely the case. The mother knows where her young are and will almost certainly return to care for them.

Young birds sometimes fall out of or leave their nests before they can fly. The parents continue to care for the young bird while it is on the ground, bringing food and trying to protect the youngster while it is in this vulnerable situation.

Getting too close to newborn wildlife can be very dangerous. The mother to the newborn animal will display very aggressive behavior when humans get close to their young. Leave the area immediately if you encounter aggressive wildlife with young. Yes, even whitetail doe’s that look so harmless can be aggressive. It is in their nature to protect their young, just like human parents will do anything to protect their children from harm.

The best option for people who come across newborn wildlife is to leave them alone. I had a case just last spring when a curious whitetail fawn that I did not know was in the area decided to go for a walk. The newborn was just born hours before that same day, we later learned through eyewitness accounts. The young deer left her hiding spot in the fencerow behind my home and entered my yard. As cute as the animal was, and even odd to see it in my yard, we left the baby to be. Watching it out the window of our home it was not long before its mother found it. Never assume the baby is an orphan unless you see the mother dead.

Most state and federal laws forbid possession of game and many nongame animals, so adopting newborn wildlife is illegal. Citations can be issued for possession of newborn wildlife with a possible penalty of up to a $1,000 fine.

Venison Meatball Rigatoni Mug

A tasty deer camp “Cup of Energy.”  Recipe by “Kitchen Kate.”

Makes 8 Servings, what you’ll need:

Noodle/Cheese Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1 box (12 oz) rigatoni pasta, cooked
  • 1 tsp chopped basil
  • One 12-ounce coffee mug for each serving
  • Olive Oil

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground venison,
  • 1 TBS garlic
  • 1 TBS oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Let’s Get Cooking!

Step One – Prepare and Cook the Meatballs:

  • Add all meatball ingredients (in order) to a mixing bowl and mix
  • Shape into evenly-sized balls
  • Place in the frying pan with 2 TBS olive oil to brown over medium heat until all sides are lightly brown and oil is relatively absorbed.
  • Add ½ cup water or organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • Bring to boil, turn to simmer, cover, 20 minutes.

Step Two – Bake Noodles/Cheese:

  • Pre-cook your noodles, as per box instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Add a few drops of olive oil to the bottom of each coffee cup
  • Place ¼ cup mozzarella on the bottom of each 12-ounce oven-safe coffee mug
  • Cover the cheese with 1-2 heaping TBS of marinara sauce, then add an inch or two of rigatoni noodles.
  • Add a 1-2 heaping TBS of marinara sauce to cover noodles
  • Add 1 or 2 meatballs.
  • Cover with marinara sauce.
  • Add a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  • Add a small sprinkle of mozzarella cheese
  • Bake the mugs at 375 degrees for 20 minutes (The cheese top should be melted).

Step Three – Eat from mug OR invert onto a plate and add another meatball or two.

Enjoy!

 

Mother’s Day Gifts for the Outdoors Woman

  • Significant Gifts for that one Significant Other, Outdoors Mom’s are special
  • Colorful 3-season and 4-season quilts, comfy outdoor footwear, bacteria-safe cutting board, a unique Wok w/ burner system

By Jason Houser

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and significant others and children are not always the best at picking out gifts. Flowers die and chocolate is gone way too soon. This year get her something she can use and will last for years to come.

Cutting Boards and More

Mothers are great cooks (most mothers). Instead of letting her use the same old cutting board that is an eyesore, get her a cutting board that will last a lifetime and looks good in the kitchen. John Boos & Co. located in Effingham, Illinois, has been manufacturing cutting boards since the late 1800s. These boards can be found in kitchens across the country and on the sets of your favorite cooking show.

Cutting boards should last and that is exactly what a properly cared for cutting board from John Boos will do. It is not just cutting boards though. John Boos offers a wide selection of butcher blocks, countertops, worktables, and stainless-steel products.

If you can think of a need for it when it comes to this type of product, John Boos has probably already thought of it. Whether it is a block designed for cutting fresh herbs, holding your I-pad or your fresh loaf of homemade bread and everything in between, you will find it at John Boos.

If a durable and attractive board isn’t enough for you, then consider this. A scientific study conducted by Dr. Dean Cliver, Ph.D. has proved that maple cutting boards inhibit bacteria growth, while plastic boards have been scientifically proven to harbor bacteria inside the cut grooves. Also, wood cutting boards are known to be easier on your expensive knife blades.

Durable WOK with BIG KAHUNA Burner

Who doesn’t like cooking with woks? Eastman Outdoors is home to the best wok and outdoor burner on the market. Ideal for stir-frying, deep-frying, boiling, steaming, braising and simmering, this deep wok + powerful burner combination delivers versatile cooking, to decks, patios, backyards and campsites alike.

This outdoor wok kit is complete with accessories for styles of cooking. The 22-inch stainless-steel wok is 50% deeper than most traditional woks, allowing your favorite cook room to make your plenty of your favorite foods.

The propane burner has adjustable legs (18″ to 26″) making it perfect for not only the Wok, but the top surface flips to accept skillets and small pots but also tall pots.

Included in the kit are a stainless-steel wok spoon, spatula, 12-inch AccuZone (TM) thermometer, and an instructional DVD with recipes.

Boots

Every lady needs a good pair of boots. I bought my wife a pair of Vaprtrek from Irish Setter Boots.  We recently returned from a turkey hunt in southern Illinois.  To say that good footwear was important in the uneven terrain is an understatement.

I can only guess how many miles we walked on the days it took for us to scout and to fill our turkey tags. And, it was no walk in the park either. On this hunt, we both chose to wear the Irish Setter Vaprtrek. Walking over uneven terrain, crossing small streams, and experiencing mild temperatures, these boots were perfect.

Normally, we like to break our boots in before trekking through the wood’s miles from another pair of boots.  Not doing so is only asking for sore feet and blisters.  After trying these boots on for the first time, my wife felt comfortable enough to wear them hunting the very next day.  These waterproof boots proved their weight in gold as we were on our feet all day long, day after day.

So, how does Irish Setter explain the Vaprtrek? VaprTrek™ boots were designed with the athletic hunter in mind.

Whether your deer hunting, scouting, searching for sheds or chasing that spring gobbler, you’ll appreciate how light yet rugged these technically advanced, high-performance boots are. Their innovative RPM™ sole, ScentBan™ scent control, and sleek profile combine to meet the demands of the most active hunters.

Quilts

These are not your grandma’s quilts. Quilts by Zenbivy are manufactured with the outdoorsman and woman in mind.

If you’re better half enjoys camping, she will enjoy one of these quilts. Unlike a sleeping bag that has a zipper to deal with when laid flat, these quilts do not have the extra weight to contend with. And, many people would rather not sleep in a sleeping bag that constricts their movement. It is much easier to cover up with a comfortable quilt for a good night’s rest.

Available in a variety of colors, it will not be a problem to find one just right for her.  With three temperature ratings to choose from, there is one for every season. The 40º version is just as soft, just as light and just as packable as their 25º down quilt, but is built for warmer nights and tighter budgets. Built for 3-Season use, the 25 Degree down Light Quilt is one of the softest, most durable, lightweight quilts you can find. The buttery-soft 20º fabrication sets the 10º down Light Quilt apart from its more “purist” 10º competitors. Built for the widest range of temperatures, it’s a true 4-season ultra-light quilt.

The quilt is great, but be sure to check out the pillow, mattress and dry sack from Zenbivy to complete your sleeping comfort.  These might not be the traditional Mother’s Day gifts many think of, but I am sure she would enjoy them for years to come.

Target Plinking: Mutual Disrespect for .22 Caliber Ammo

 

  • The Good, the Bad, the Ugly…Identify the “right” (best) ammo brand for your firearm before hunting
  • Federal Champion .22LR 40-Grain Ammo
  • CCI Hollow-Point .22LR 40-Grain Ammo
  • Winchester .22LR 40-Grain Ammo

Sandbags helped me eliminate holding variation when target-testing different ammo brands. Dieter Voss Photo

By Collin Voss

I am not wise in this field, but I experienced this first hand and have enough facts that can end an ongoing debate in the firearm world. Does .22 Caliber LR rimfire ammunition matter?

My immediate answer would be yes, but that would not settle this case. I recently became a full-time adult member (I turned 18) at West Falls Conservation Society in West Falls, New York. My whole life I had been a junior member – it is where I grew up and a big reason why I have a welded relationship with the great outdoors.

One of the benefits of being a member of this organization is the private rifle range. Last July, the summer of 2019, I had used my privilege to open that big red gate with my key to the range! With me, was my guest and very good friend Alex. Alex had his Savage MKII .22 caliber bolt-action rifle with iron sights and I had mine, a .22 caliber Rossi single-shot, break-action, youth rifle with a 3-9x32mm Bushnell Sportsman riflescope.

I had sighted my rifle in once a few years ago, except I received a bit of help from my Grandfather. Knowing the rifle had not been shot in so long, I purchased Federal Champion .22LR 40-Grain ammunition. Packaged in 50 count boxes, I bought four.

Federal Champion .22LR 40-Grain Ammo

We set up our targets 50 yards out. Mine was on the left and Alex was on the right. Before shooting we both went over the range rules posted on the back wall and our own firearm safety precautions. Which were basic and included keeping the barrel pointed downrange, always have the safety switch on (if there is one) and the action open when handing the rifle to one another, both of us would go to check targets with the rifle in hand, and most importantly ALWAYS treat the rifle as if it were loaded and live.

It’s Time to Shoot

Alex begins shooting and I begin the sighting process. I grab three sandbags from the range cabinet and stack them in a pyramid-like shape, the bottom two are parallel with one another and the third sandbag lays across the bottom two in a perpendicular manner. I used this setup as a rifle rest to eliminate any human movement and achieve the greatest accuracy possible. The most proper way to sight in a rifle is to use a gun vise, which I do not have available to use, so the sandbags were my next best thing.

Officially, to start the sight-in process, I rest my rifle on the sandbags, put the crosshairs directly over the center of the target, slowly let out my breath, and gently squeeze the trigger. To my amazement, I hit the target, but not where I was aiming. To tell whether it was my scope or my excitement of taking the shot, the bullet hole was two inches to the right and 3 inches low. Hmmm, I thought. To see if it was me or the ammo or something else, I decided to take 5 more shots identical to the first. Immediately there was a grouping of 6 holes on the light cream-colored target, all within an inch of each other – perfect.

This let me know that my rifle was shooting straight and I needed to adjust my scope. I unscrewed the elevation and windage adjustment caps. I gave 10 clicks counterclockwise on the elevation adjustment (up) and 7 clicks clockwise on the windage adjustment (left). I took my next three shots at the target and to my surprise, they had all hit the bullseye.

To clarify my observations of the target sighting and gun and ammo, I took 10 more shots. – all in the bullseye. I was thrilled! First time ever sighting in a rifle on my own and I did it perfectly? I couldn’t believe my own eyes. From there it was a great day of target practice.

CCI Hollow-Point, 22LR 40-Grain Ammo

It was now March of 2020, I had no more Federal Champion .22LR 40-grain ammunition. Instead of taking the long drive to Cabelas, on the way to West Falls, I stopped in at The Valley Gun Shop in West Falls, NY.  I had never been here, but I thought it was time to say hello, introduce myself, and to check it out. The gentlemen who owns the shop only carried CCI hollow-point 40-grain ammunition for .22 caliber rifles. I decided to purchase those and see how they shot. I figured they would probably not shoot the same as the Federal ammunition, but wanted to try them and compare anyway.

As I took my first 3 shots on the target. They all shot to the left 2-inches and 1- inch high, creating a nice small group. I concluded to compensate for the change rather than adjust my scope due to how nicely it was sighted in with the federal ammunition. 100 rounds and 2 trips to the range later, I was out of ammunition once again. I acquired some Winchester .22 LR 40-grain ammo, four boxes.

Winchester 22LR 40-Grain Ammo

The Winchester .22LR 40-Grain ammo was simply not consistent for the first 100 rounds fired. I then cleaned my rifle hoping that removing the usual spent powder and metal fragments the other two ammo types would provide a better bore for the bullet to travel through. Again my first 15 shots were inconsistent, as much as 3-inches high, low, left, or right. All over the place.

Now, on the 16th shot after the barrel had been cleaned, to my disbelief, I see nothing more than a hole in the dead center of the target. I thought my luck had changed with this ammunition, but that was not the case. I would have to say every 2 to 3 shots, I would have one round that would shoot straight at 50 yards. What surprised me was that at 100 yards these bullets were landing exactly where I wanted them to with very little pattern change. The only difference I had to adjust for was aiming about 3 inches above the target to hit the bullseye. Hard to analyze.

Best Ammo (for my Rossi)

Testing the ammo types was educational and fun. While these ammo brands might perform differently in other rifle brands, I would have to conclude from live-fire testing that for my break-action, single-shot Rossi, the best (most accurate and repeatable) ammo out of these three brands was the Federal .22LR 40-Grain. Not only does the gun powder smell fresh (hard to describe), the crisp sound of the shot was consistent and the ammo performed consistently. Above that, I never had a misfire in those 200 Federal rounds fired.

Lessons Learned

Before going hunting with any brand of ammo, make sure you test it and know what it does in your firearm.

Hindsight and Future Thoughts

It was especially enjoyable to use the range as a regular member and share it with a friend. In summary, think I’m ready for squirrel season!

Sharing the Light of Fireflies…for Everyone affected by COVID-19

Sharing the Light of Fireflies…for Everyone affected by COVID-19

I hope the fireflies can shine their light and bring us hope, love, and joy. Radim Schreiber, https://fireflyexperience.org (website)

I created this video to help people during these challenging times and I feel sad knowing that many people are suffering right now. So I hope the fireflies can shine their light and bring us hope, love, and joy.

Let’s help each other and our planet Earth.  I appreciate it if you share this video.

Love you all.

Radim Schreiber, https://fireflyexperience.org (website)

Prized ‘Eyes – Lake Erie Walleye Count tops 100 MILLION!

  • Walleye Season open in New York State 
  • Lake Erie Walleye Population Exceeds 100 MILLION!

You don’t have to look far to find exciting walleye fishing opportunities in New York

Walleye are challenging to catch and delicious to eat, making them one of the most prized sportfish in New York. As the largest member of the perch family, adult walleye typically weigh 1-3 lbs., but they can get much larger. The state record is a remarkable 18 lb. 2 oz. giant caught from the St. Lawrence River in 2018. Walleye are found across the state and provide phenomenal fishing opportunities in select waters.

Walleye in New York

Historically, walleye only inhabited waters in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Allegheny River watersheds in New York. Today, primarily due to stocking and other DEC management efforts, walleye occur in more than 140 waters from all of the major watersheds of the state. They thrive in large shallow lakes with gravel shoals and accessible tributaries, and in large, productive river systems. Walleye are a “coolwater” species, preferring cooler water than bass and sunfish, but warmer water than trout.

Walleye are named for their unique eyes that have a highly reflective layer of tissue. This gives them excellent vision at night and in turbid water, which enables them to feed (primarily on fish) in low light conditions, particularly at dawn and dusk. Walleye may suspend over deep water or move inshore or to other shallow-water habitats depending on the availability of preferred prey species at certain times of the year. Walleye spawn in early spring when water temperatures reach 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Adult fish tend to congregate in large numbers and spawn over cobble, gravel, or sand in rivers or windswept shallows in lakes. Spawning success can vary greatly year to year, which often results in one to a few year classes making up the majority of the population. Walleye that are 25 inches or larger are generally considered “trophies” in New York.

Management

In New York, stocking and regulations are the primary tools for managing the state’s walleye populations. DEC annually stocks walleye in about 40 waters across the state to establish, maintain, or restore fisheries. To support the stocking program, DEC collects approximately 300 million walleye eggs each spring at the Oneida Fish Hatchery on Oneida Lake, where they are then incubated and hatched. About 212 million of the newly hatched fry (only a few millimeters long) are stocked into a number of waters across the state. Additional fry are raised at the Oneida, Chautauqua, and South Otselic fish hatcheries for two months and stocked as fingerlings (2 inches long). There are typically 600,000 fingerlings stocked every year. Walleye typically take 3-4 years to reach 15 inches in length.

Since most anglers keep the legal-sized walleye they catch, fishing regulations are important for managing the state’s walleye populations. New York’s walleye season opens the first Saturday in May. The general statewide regulation for walleye is a 15-inch minimum length and a daily limit of 5 fish, with a closed season from March 16 through the Friday before the first Saturday in May to protect spawning fish. However, many waters have special regulations where length and daily limits vary. Additionally, some short stream reaches are closed to all fishing to protect significant spawning concentrations of walleye.

In a Class of Their Own

Quality walleye fishing opportunities can be found throughout New York, with three top destinations-Oneida Lake, Lake Erie, and Chautauqua Lake-projected to be exceptionally good in 2020 and beyond. Why?-Multiple strong year classes.

Year Class
A year class is made up of all the walleyes that were produced and survived in a single year. Walleye can live a long time (10 years or more) and a big year class can support good fishing for years. Multiple strong year classes in a population generally result in excellent fishing that is sustained over the long term.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is considered the top walleye destination in western New York and is supported solely through natural reproduction. Walleye angler catch rates in the New York portion of the lake have been relatively high for the last decade and were at record levels in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The quality of the fishery is primarily due to the prolonged period of walleye spawning success in the lake, with large year-classes produced in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

The abundant walleye population affords additional harvest opportunity as Lake Erie is the only water in New York with a 6-fish limit. Overall good recruitment through recent years suggests adult walleye abundance and fishing quality will remain high for the next several years. There are even walleye from the exceptional 2003 year-class still hanging around, giving anglers a chance to catch trophy-sized walleye, with some exceeding 30 inches.

Oneida Lake

man holding up walleye from Lake Erie
Mike DiSarno with an impressive 25-inch walleye he caught from the Lower Niagara River. NYSDEC Photo

Oneida Lake is New York’s most popular walleye fishery, and according to Cornell University researchers who have studied the lake for over 60 years, the walleye population is on the rise. Currently estimated at approximately 1,000,000 fish, the adult walleye population is the largest it has been since the late 1980s due to strong year classes in 2010 and 2014. All indications are that there is another strong year class from 2016 that will push the walleye population up even higher. The abundant population has supported great walleye fishing over the last several years with angler catch rates indicative of a high-quality fishery. Fishing may even get better, as the 2019 targeted open water season catch rate was the highest seen in almost a decade and exceeded levels characteristic of an excellent fishery.

To help manage the fishery, more than 150 million walleye fry are annually stocked in the lake, and there is a reduced daily possession limit of 3 walleye per day.

Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua Lake is a large, productive lake in western New York that provides a diverse mix of warm- and cool-water fishing opportunities, including for black bass, crappie, yellow perch, sunfish, and muskellunge. Despite the many options, anglers prefer walleye there, and for good reason. After a sharp decline during the early to mid-2000s, the walleye population has been steadily increasing since 2012 due to the implementation of a special fishing regulation (3 fish per day, 18-inch minimum length) and a walleye stocking program (2004-2015). Both the stocking program and special regulation were discontinued after two exceptional year classes were documented in 2014 and 2015. Recent survey results indicate that good recruitment of these year classes has created a highly abundant adult walleye population with an average size of 18 inches. There is also a good number of trophy-sized walleye in Chautauqua Lake, and angler reports of 30-inch plus walleye in the 8 to 10-pound range are not uncommon. The strong numbers of walleye in the lake combined with an overly abundant forage base suggest that the opportunity to catch a trophy walleye should only increase over the next decade. If this isn’t exciting enough, another very strong year class (2018), the second-highest on record, was found during a recent 2019 fall survey, suggesting that Chautauqua Lake should provide a high-quality walleye fishery for the next 7 to 10 years.

More information on New York’s many walleye fishing destinations here.

Find tips on fishing for walleye here.

 

Vermont Walleye READY-TO-WACK to Wack Worm Harnesses May 2, Opening Day

Vermont Walleye Season opens May 2, 2020

The Vermont walleye fishing season will open on Saturday, May 2, marking the return of some of the best walleye fishing in New England.

Revered by many as one of the best-tasting fish in freshwater, the walleye is Vermont’s official warmwater fish. The state offers excellent spring walleye fishing opportunities in several lakes and rivers across the state. Opportunities include Lake Champlain and its tributaries – the Missisquoi, Lamoille and Winooski rivers and Otter Creek. In the Northeast Kingdom, Salem Lake and Island Pond also have walleye populations that are on the rebound thanks to stocking by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

A trio of additional waters – Lake Carmi, Chittenden Reservoir and the Connecticut River, also offer quality walleye fishing.

Veteran walleye anglers employ a variety of techniques, but one of the simplest and most effective methods is to slowly troll a nightcrawler harness near the bottom. Most nightcrawler harnesses include a rotating blade ahead of two hooks, where the worm is secured. The blade produces a fish-attracting flash and vibration.

Shore-based anglers can catch walleyes on nightcrawlers or live minnows or by casting crankbaits or hard jerk baits. Walleyes are generally more active at night, so fishing in the dark is often more effective.

As a reminder to anglers, there is no open season on sauger, a close cousin to the walleye. Once abundant in southern Lake Champlain, sauger still appear there rarely. If caught while fishing for other fish, sauger must be immediately released.

Anglers can read about current fishing regulations in the 2020 VERMONT FISHING GUIDE & REGULATIONS available free from Vermont license agents. To purchase a fishing license or learn more about fishing in Vermont, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Vermonters are encouraged to get outside to enjoy fishing provided they can do so while meeting social distancing and other guidelines. In addition, to the greatest extent possible, outdoor activities should take place as close to home as possible to minimize travel and potential risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Please use good judgment to keep yourself and others safe and reduce the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Refrain from carpooling. Drive to your fishing spots only with your immediate family members and only if everyone is feeling well.
  • When fishing from shore, keep a distance of at least six feet between you and your companions.
  • Don’t share fishing gear with others. Each angler should have their own fishing gear (rod and reels, bait, lures, towels, pliers, and other personal items).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean your gear well after using it.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after fishing.
  • For information about staying safe while enjoying outdoor activities, check here: https://vtfishandwildlife.com/outdoor-recreation-and-covid-19
  • For more info on COVID-19 and health guidelines, visit: https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus

Great Lakes Water Levels at Record Highs…Should we Sell to Fix the Problem?

  • Ideas to tap the Great Lakes water were essentially stopped in 2008, when the Great Lakes Compact was made law
  • Instead of cities and states around the lakes worrying about keeping enough water along their lakefronts to float boats, they are now concerned about lakeside parking lots becoming marinas.
  • Who is going to crack first?

Lakeside parking lots becoming marinas, is there a solution?

By Mike Schoonveld

The water levels in the Great Lakes have cycled from high to low to high and back, countless times in the 10,000 years since the glaciers gouged the land, then filled the trenches back up with their melt water. High and low water periods are still happening in response to the amount of precipitation in the Great Lakes watershed and the gallons of water that ultimately flows down the St. Lawrence River (minus evaporation).

Containing twenty percent of the unfrozen freshwater in the world, the remaining 80 percent of the world would like to have some of the water – whether the lakes are low or high. Over time, some innovative schemes have been devised to get it.

One company was going to fill ocean-going tanker ships with Great Lakes water and haul it all the way to Australia.  The multi-national company, Nestle, made plans to haul Great Lakes water away, one plastic bottle full at a time.

These and other ideas to tap the Great Lakes water were essentially stopped in 2008 when the Great Lakes Compact was made law. By unanimous consent of all the states and provinces bordering the lakes, the compact essentially disallowed commercial use of Great Lakes water if that use would remove the water outside of the Great Lakes watershed.

It was an easy regulation to pass back in 2008 when the water levels in the Great Lakes were approaching near record low levels. “Experts” were pinning the low levels on climate change and predicted no end to the ever dropping lake levels. The “Compact,” they said, was just one of many regulations governments would need to take to save the lakes, human civilization and most other life on earth.

Except now, the Great Lakes are brim full and each additional centimeter added to the Great Lakes water level sets new records. The same experts espousing theories of ever-dwindling Great Lakes water levels in 2008 are now claiming high water levels are the result of climate change and predicting no end to lakeshore flooding.

Now, instead of cities and states around the lakes worrying about keeping enough water along their lakefronts to float boats, they are worrying about lakeside parking lots becoming marinas. Something has to be done to get rid of the water before the Great Lakes become 25 percent of the world’s freshwater.

How soon is one of the states (or provinces) going to break the compact? There are none of the states or provinces bordering the lakes which don’t have their own version of money problems. Each one of those governments have budget struggles every fiscal year and each one fights for every nickel they can scrape up to squander.

All of these states are spending money right now, hiring climate change experts, planners, engineering firms and forming commissions to figure out how to cope with high waters along their lakeshores. How soon will one of the governments realize they can sell it?

Former ploys and ideas to tap into the Great Lakes were devised with the idea the water was free. The tanker ship hauling the water to a far away continent was expensive, but the cargo was free. What if it wasn’t?

Is the current high water levels something which will reverse itself or will water levels continue to rise? I don’t know. Ask an expert.

Do you think Illinois, which is hundreds of billions of dollars in debt, would balk at selling a trillion gallons of Lake Michigan for a penny per gallon?  Do you think drought-plagued Texas wouldn’t pay that amount, or the Nestle Corporation?

What about Michigan?  A trillion gallons of Great Lakes water at a penny per gallon would put 10 billion bucks in Michigan’s treasury.

Would the other signatories to the Great Lakes Compact object? In the past they’ve certainly objected to water withdrawal proposals brought up through out the region. Would they object again, or would the legislators and administrators think, “Great idea! Pump away the problem. It’s like selling air. It’s free money!”  Soon pump stations would be going up in every state.

If even one state broke away and the others objected, what could they do? Michigan isn’t going to invade Wisconsin – other than with lawyers. The federal government is unlikely to step into the fray. The states are now begging the feds for financial assistance to fight the high water, just as they did when they hit up the feds for dollars to dredge channels and harbors when the water was low. From the point of view of the feds, the problem is a solution.

Is the current high water levels something which will reverse itself or will water levels continue to rise?  I don’t know. Ask an expert. I do know, once the pumps are installed, the water starts flowing out and the money starts flowing in, it will take more than a compact between the states to stop the flow.

THE END

Lurking in the Deep – Mysteries, Rocks, and at times – BIG FISH

You never know what that next cast to deep waters might bring!

  • The mystery and secrets of deep waters can offer a line-stretching surprise.
  • Fish “on the rise” can solve our doubt for the presence of fish – they are usually there.
  • A priceless reward can happen every now and then. Enjoy that moment!

You never know what may be lurking in the deep! During a small window in the winter weather, this giant rainbow provided the ultimate angler reward in a small, thawed creek mouth.

By Wade Robertson

The statement has been made that we know more about the galaxy than we do our Earth’s oceans. Though that statement may or may not be true, it does bring up some interesting points.

The water of any depth shrouds in mystery what lies there or lives there. The Challenger Deep, a spot in the Mariana Trench, is 36,070 feet deep, offering such crushing pressures so intense, it escapes our ability to truly comprehend. Yet, in this lightless world, life exists, some of it huge, mankind can only guess what unknown creatures flourish there. The fact is, we simply don’t know.

Even our areas lakes and streams are shrouded in mystery for fishermen. In fact, it’s the mystery of fishing that often makes it so intriguing. It’s hard for a trout fisherman to approach a great looking, deep hole in even the smallest streams without wondering just what lurks there, out of sight, in the swirling depths or beneath the tangled brush pile. Brown trout especially are shy and the bigger, smarter ones are especially difficult to catch. Rainbow trout, though foolish when small, can become just as shy and can survive in heavily fished streams with impunity. Lakes are vast and deeper, and who knows, for instance, how humungous the biggest muskellunge or pike is in the Kinzua Reservoir? I’m sure their length and girth would take our breath away if we could see these finned patriarchs, or even more exciting, catch one.

It’s frustrating to fish a good stretch of trout water without a hit. In the past I used to, in my arrogance, think there were very few fish in the stream. However, over the years I’ve been humbled when a fly hatch begins and the stream I believed barren suddenly filled with rising trout, 50 or more in a quarter-mile on the upper Genesee River. Now, when I fail to catch fish, I know there’s something I’m doing wrong or the trout simply aren’t feeding. Usually, I’m missing something.

Every now and then though, circumstances combine and you see or hook a fish you’ve dreamed about. Landing these leviathans is difficult and the old saying, the big ones get away, is only too true in so many cases. Not only do the larger fish have harder mouths, have more weight and have more frightening power, but their very size also causes many angler’s brains to turn into scrambled eggs, and they forget everything they’ve learned about fighting fish and simply panic.

An angler wants that huge fish so badly only one thought comes to mind, blocking all other common sense and reason. Get it in! Get it in the net, haul it on the beach, lift it over the bank! Of course, this sort of thinking, this reaction, usually has disastrous results. The line snaps or the hooks pull out or straighten. Big fish can turn your knees to jelly, your brain to mush and even make you tremble.

The raindrops came, February showers hard enough to melt snow and raise the creeks. One of those small weather windows where things warm up briefly and if you’re quick, you can get a day or 2 in fishing.

I awoke at six and despite being determined to fish the night before, the bed was exceedingly comfortable and warm. Did I really want to get up, dress, drive some distance and fish with the temperature in the low 30’s on the off chance the streams had risen enough to bring fish upstream? It took a while for me to finally decide to do so, you can’t catch anything lying in bed!

When I arrived at the pull-off, there were no signs of other fishermen in the snow. I walked about 200 yards to the stream and then to the biggest, deepest hole. If there were fish anywhere, it’d be here.

I started with a spinner, then switched to a small minnow bait. My hands were freezing already. A long cast angling downstream and a hit! I snapped the ultralight rod upward and gasped when a huge white belly showed, then thrashed violently, doubling my rod over. What in the world?!

Look for high suppleness in your fishing line, it is desirable, it allows for less memory and a more natural presentation with light and micro-light baits.

A wide silver and red side flashed, a giant rainbow! The fish was incredibly powerful and for over 10 minutes I could only hold on, lightening the drag and dreading those violent quick dashes that could effortlessly snap the 4-pound test line.

Next, the fish angled upstream until it drew abreast of me. I could see her clearly, she was huge. A powerful dash upstream toward a sunken tree. I raised the rod high and pulled upward. Surprisingly, she stopped, bulldogged deep and moved downstream again. After 20 minutes I was a nervous wreck, but she was tiring, finally. Then the torture of working her to the net. She’s at my boots, then flops wildly, thrashes, and she runs back out. Ten times this happens, my heart in my mouth, but things held and I never tried to stop her. Finally, I lead her into the net, the damaged rim cracks from her weight, she flops out and I desperately trap her against the bank with net and boots, frantically hook a finger under a gill and heave her up and onto the bank.

I simply stare, exhausted and unbelieving, what a rainbow! Was this a dream? No, it was real, there would be no waking up in disappointment. I was deliriously happy, couldn’t believe her size, and that I’d actually caught this prize. What a priceless gift from above. Thank you, thank you!

A Special Gift for a Special Young Lady

A proud dad with his daughter.

  • A special gift – protection and peace for grandpa’s mind – for a very special young lady
  • The Kimber Micro 9 measures a little over 6 inches in length and 4 inches in height 
  • Aluminum frame, steel slide – it weighs a little less that a pound with an empty magazine

A special gift for a special young lady.

By Larry Whiteley

My granddaughter Anna is a petite, beautiful young lady that was a cheerleader and a gymnast when she was younger. She has a smile that touches your heart and a heart as big as all outdoors.

We used to tell her that when she started bringing boys over, that her dad, brother and I would be there to meet them with conceal carry pistols in full view. We also told her we were going to make sure we showed these young men all the pictures of her with the deer and turkey she had shot, as well as her shooting her bow, her turkey mount on the wall. If fear didn’t come to their eyes and they didn’t run out the door, then we might approve of them.

Now that she is a sophomore in college, her dad and I felt like it was time to get her a conceal carry pistol. Dad felt she was ready and we had no doubts she could handle it. A few years ago we got her brother a “Made in the USA” Kimber® Super Carry Ultra+™ .45 ACP. He loves his Kimber and what young man wouldn’t. When his sister saw it, she told us right then she wanted a Kimber too, someday. Her dad told her we would when the time was right. Until then, she had to carry the “Kimber Pepper Blaster II” we had bought for her in her purse.

Two years later, we told her to pick out the handgun she wanted. She looked at a couple of Kimber models, but when she saw the Micro 9™ Amethyst, in a 9mm, it was love at first sight. Especially since it was in the colors of the college she attends, so important to a fashion conscious young lady, you know!

A proud dad with his daughter.

She is “Daddy’s Girl” and he immediately started doing his own research on the Micro 9. He then reported back to me that he agreed with her choice. Since the good Lord has blessed my wife and I, we really enjoy getting things for our kids and grandkids that they wouldn’t be able to have otherwise. We don’t consider it spoiling them, but do consider it an investment in their lives. It is something we would not do if they weren’t the good people they are. We both agree it’s a lot better than having to bail them out of jail or pay for drug rehabilitation. Besides, it’s something they will be able to pass down to their kids.

That all being said, we bought the Kimber Micro 9 for her. MSRP was $1,061 but she is worth it and we wanted her protected. I took it to her dad, who is a shooter and re-loader, for him to check it out. Unlike the Super Ultra+ that Hunter has, my grandson, he couldn’t really take it to the range and test it because there was less grip area for his big hands to handle it properly. He said, “It is really a nice-looking gun and I like the size and balance for her, but I am more concerned with how it shoots. We’ll find out when we take her to the range and also check out how easy it is for her to carry.”

The Micro 9 measures a little over 6 inches in length and 4 inches in height. It is constructed with an aluminum frame and a steel slide, so it weighs in at a little less that a pound with an empty magazine. That should make it easy to carry for her but my worry, like her dad’s, was how was it going to do at the range. Generally, a gun that’s easy to carry is harder to shoot well because of excessive recoil and less grip to hold on to.

I think she knew she was going to get it but she just didn’t know when. Grandma and I went over to their house on Christmas day and brought a present we said we had forgot to give her when they were over for Christmas Eve. When she unwrapped it, her smile and the twinkling in her eyes made it all worthwhile. The hugs helped a lot too! I think we all agreed that the Micro 9 was a special gift for a very special young lady.

Shooting her Kimber at the range.

A few days later her and Dad went to the shooting range and made a memory. Here are my some of her comments after handling, concealing, and carrying her new pistol, plus taking it to the range:

“Overall I enjoyed shooting it and the accuracy was really good.”

“The front and rear sight made it easy to get on the target.”
“I felt very little recoil, so my hand wasn’t sore at all after a lot of rounds.”

“The side of the slide has a textured treatment that is very easy to grip.”
“I am anxious to try the night sights.”

“If I give papaw a hug he might get me the Crimson Trace grips for it.”

Her Kimber is not all she shoots.

We still haven’t talked her mom and grandma into getting a Kimber, but they still carry their Kimber Pepper Blaster II spray. Thank goodness they haven’t had to ever use it, but it’s always there if they need to. It will shoot up to 13 feet and disable an attacker for up to 45 minutes. You can learn more about it by clicking on https://youtube/1b2ZRbZfWUQ.

More information on the Micro 9, go to https://www.kimberamerica.com/micro-9-amethyst-1. You can also find a dealer near you to go check out the Micro 9 for your very special young lady.

While his kids are away in school, Dad finds time to go to his reloading area to reload 9mm and .45 ACP ammunition. As he does, he smiles and a tear comes to the corner of his eye as he thinks about Anna and Hunter, and how blessed he and his wife LaVay are. He looks forward to when his kids come home again from school and they go back to the shooting range.

What to Do When You See a Snake

What to Do When You See a Snake

  • Snakes are common across the United States, the Georgia DNR can help us understand more about snakes, then venomous and non-venomous types. 

Adult black racer snake, non-venomous, eats rats, mice, varmints.

By the Georgia DNR

As spring hits full stride, Daniel Sollenberger from Georgia DNR will field more calls and emails about snakes. And most will involve two questions: What species is this and what should I do?

As for the first question, seldom is the snake a venomous species, according to Sollenberger, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Whether it’s venomous, of course, is the concern or fear underlying most of the questions. Chances are it’s not. Only six of the 46 species native to Georgia are venomous and only one -the copperhead – usually thrives in suburban areas, which is where the majority of Georgians live.

“While at least one of Georgia’s six species of venomous snakes could be found in each county in the state, seldom are they the most common species encountered,” Sollenberger said.

Now to the second question: What should you do, or not do, if you see a snake?

  • You can try to identify it from a distance. Resources such as georgiawildlife.com/georgiasnakes, which includes DNR’s “Venomous Snakes of Georgia” brochure, can help.
  • Do not attempt to handle the snake. Give it the space it needs.
  • Remember that snakes are predators that feed on rodents, insects and even other snakes. There is no need to fear non-venomous snakes. Also, Georgia’s native non-venomous species are protected by state law, and the imperiled eastern indigo snake is federally protected.
  • If a clearly identified venomous snake is in an area where it represents a danger to people or pets, consult georgiawildlife.com/nuisancewildlife for a list of private wildlife removal specialists. Most bites occur when a snake is cornered or captured, and defending itself.

Non-venomous snakes such as scarlet king snake, eastern hognose and water snake species are frequently confused with their venomous counterparts—coral snakes, rattlesnakes and water moccasins, respectively. While pit vipers, which include all venomous species native to Georgia except for coral snakes, are often identified by their broad, triangular-shaped heads, many non-venomous snakes flatten their heads when threatened and may have color patterns similar to venomous species.

The bottom line: Use caution around any unidentified snake. For more on Georgia’s snakes, visit georgiawildlife.com/georgiasnakes. Also, “Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia” (University of Georgia Press) is a comprehensive reference.

Snake Insights

  • Benefits: While some snakes eat rodents and even venomous snakes, others prey on creatures some Georgians also many not want near their homes. Brown and red-bellied snakes, for example, feed on snails and slugs, the bane of gardeners. Crowned snake species primarily eat centipedes.
  • Baby snakes? Snakes such as earth and brown snake species are small and homeowners occasionally mistake them as juveniles. The common concern here: Are the parents nearby? Yet while some species are live-bearers and some are egg-bearers, snakes do not exhibit parental care. If there are parents, they are not watching over their offspring.
  • Prevention: To reduce the potential for snakes near your home, remove brush, log piles and other habitat features that attract mice, lizards and other animals on which snakes prey.

Help Conserve Wildlife

From eastern indigo snakes to bald eagles, DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section works to conserve rare and other Georgia wildlife not legally fished for or hunted, as well as rare plants and natural habitats. The agency depends primarily on fundraisers, grants and contributions. That makes public support key.

Georgians can help by supporting the state’s Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund. Here’s how:

  • Buy a DNR eagle or new monarch butterfly license plate, or renew one of the older plate designs, including the hummingbird. Most of the fees are dedicated to wildlife. Upgrade to a wild tag for only $25! Details at georgiawildlife.com/licenseplates.
  • Donate at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com. Click “Licenses and Permits” and log in to give. (New customers can create an account.) There’s even an option to round-up for wildlife.
  • Contribute to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund when filing state income taxes—line 30 on form 500 or line 10 on form 500EZ. Giving is easy and every donation helps.
  • Donate directly to the agency. Learn more at georgiawildlife.com/donations.
  • Purchase a hunting or fishing license. A one-day, $5 hunting/fishing license returns to Georgia wildlife that fee plus about $45 in federal excise taxes paid by hunters and anglers nationwide.

Visit georgiawildlife.com/conservation/annualreport to see how your support is put to work for wildlife.

Are You Using the Right Turkey Choke Tube?

  • Trulock Chokes Can Improve Your Shooting

By George Trulock

The answer is obvious – every turkey hunter wants better performance in the field. But the solution to getting better performance may not be as obvious. Usually, hunters try, more or less at random, different shotshells to see if they can find something better than what they are using.

The truth is, pattern density, uniformity, and downrange energy are a product of not just the shell and pellets, but of how the shot interacts with the choke tube as it leaves the barrel.

Trulock, an industry leader in cutting-edge choke tube design and manufacturing, knows that with the right choke tubes, you don’t have to randomly search for a load that works in your shotgun.

The right choke tube starts with the kind of quality in Trulock’s Turkey Choke tubes. Designed in-house at their headquarters in Wigham, Ga., these chokes are manufactured with cutting-edge numerical computer control (CNC) equipment and are tested at the range to assure high-quality performance. Just using one of these high-quality chokes will improve your patterns.

Trulock doesn’t stop there. They also have new lines of chokes designed to achieve maximum performance from specific, popular brands of high-quality turkey loads.

For example, this year Trulock has introduced a new line of chokes engineered to achieve maximum performance with Federal’s new Heavyweight® TSS 7 and TSS 9 turkey shells. The Trulock TSS chokes were designed from the ground up, with the best internal configuration and exit diameter for each Heavyweight TSS load. At 40-yard targets, these shells deliver nominal 100 percent patterns in a 30-inch circle, 90-percent patterns in a 20-inch circle and 60 percent patterns in a 10-inch circle. That means that every time you pull the trigger, hundreds of pellets end up in that 10-inch circle.

Almost no turkey hunters are getting patterns that effective out of their guns. You can, this season, with Trulock.

If you prefer a shotshell from Winchester’s line of XR Longbeard series, Trulock also produces 12-gauge chokes designed for #4, #5 and #6 Longbeard shells. As with the Heavyweight TSS chokes, Trulock built their Longbeard series specifically to get maximum pattern density and downrange energy from these shells. You can take the guesswork out of finding an effective load in the field with these Trulock chokes and Winchester loads. It really is that easy.

Effective turkey hunting takes a lot of work – scouting, judgment, execution in calling, as well as choosing the right set-up. Making sure that your pattern is extremely effective no longer has to be that much work. Trulock has put in the hours for you.

This turkey season, resolve to step up the effectiveness of your shooting with Trulock choke tubes. When the goal is to improve your shotgun’s performance, Trulock Choke Tubes doesn’t compromise on that goal. In fact, they guarantee it.

Any customer who is not satisfied for any reason can return the tube for their money back or an exchange within 60 days of purchase. And any customer who likes the choke tube knows that the best customer service in the industry stands behind it: all Trulock choke tubes are guaranteed against failure for life.

For more on the full line of Trulock products as well as some technical information on how shotguns and choke tubes work, check out their homepage at WWW.TRULOCKCHOKES.COM.

The staff at Trulock Chokes prides itself on providing excellent service and an excellent line of products. In the event you are not completely satisfied with your purchase you can return it for a refund or exchange within 60 days from the date of purchase – with other firms, the moment you open it, you own it.  For more information, please visit WWW.TRULOCKCHOKES.COM or on Facebook. Like us on Facebook

 

How to Travel…As You Stay At Home

Giant Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, California. Photo by Dawn Montane

  • From home, YOU CAN share in the beauty of Nature, all free.
  • Explore in many new ways, MAKE YOUR OWN Nature Journal, it’s Fun
  • Travel, Explore, Enjoy – here’s WHAT TO DO!

Nature journaling is fun – draw and make your own notes. Photo by Dawn Montane

By Dawn Montane

Many Americans, at the time of this writing, are under a “shelter-in-place” or “leave only when necessary” order from their respective state to curb the spread of COVID-19. This novel form of coronavirus currently has no cure. In an effort to keep the high-risk group of people from getting infected, this includes elderly people or people with predisposed medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), many businesses have shut down, schools have closed, and travel plans have been cancelled.

In addition, many outdoor areas have been closed to the public, as well, to avoid crowding at popular vista points or trails. Many state parks and some national parks have closed their gates to deter visitors and keep the employees and surrounding communities healthy and safe.

With nowhere to go, besides grabbing a few essentials, there are still many ways for you to “travel” and explore the great outdoors!

Here a few ways to connect to nature from your own home:

  1. Nature Journal (make your own)

If you have a pen and paper, you can nature journal! Draw a bird, or a tree you can see from your window, or draw the skyline if you’re living in a city. Create and label identifying features (such as the color, pattern, or type of building), or if you don’t like to draw, descriptively describe it! Don’t forget to add the date, weather, and time to make it “official.” 🙂

Nature journaling can be a great past time. Pictured here are three birds I was lucky enough to see while visiting Big Bend National Park in Texas. Photo by Dawn Montane

  1. Set Up a Tent in Your Living Room

Your camping trip may have been canceled, but you can still camp! Set up your tent (or make a fort!), put some sleeping bags, pillows, a flashlight or two and make a night of it! Bonus points if you play card games in the tent or have a fireplace to set it up next to!

  1. Listen to the Birds

Open your window! As the sun rises, open your window and listen to how many different bird calls you can hear. Count how many, and see if you can get any “bonus sounds,” such as crickets, frogs, or coyotes! Add to your journal.

  1. Take Daily Walks

If you are able, take a walk around your neighborhood. Even just 30 minutes a day can get you closer to nature! Stop along the way and take joy in the simple parts of our environment – although it may not be Yellowstone, every piece of grass, flower, pine cone, and tree is important to this earth.

  1. Visit Parks…Virtually

Many parks have tours and videos of their attractions that can be found online. The National Park Service allows you to visit from afar and have created a page (found here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/find-your-virtual-park.htm) that has links for everything from webcams, to galleries, Junior Ranger programs and even a “Distance Learning” section for teachers and parents, so kids to learn while they’re out of school. For example, Yosemite has over 30 videos called Nature Notes all on Youtube, each is between 5-10 minutes long on topics of everything from meadows and black bears to soundscapes and waterfalls.

It feels like you’re really there as you learn. Find the Youtube Playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL890957589F8403A4.

The Giant Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, California are among the largest living things on Earth. Photo by Dawn Montane

For more on “Big Trees,” visit Episode 11 of Yosemite Nature Notes on YouTube and observe giant sequoias, the largest living things on earth. Watch it online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBiHAGYJXVQ&list=PL890957589F8403A4&index=30&t=0s

  1. Watch Nature Online

If you’re quarantined in a city, town, or village that doesn’t have access to bears, lions, and birds of prey every day, you can follow this link (https://explore.org/livecams) to watch grizzly bears fishing in Katmai National Park in Alaska, or watch a bald eagle’s nest in Channel Islands National Park in California., and many other places

Visit Explore.org to share in their live webcams and recorded highlights from around the globe. You’ll find wild animals in their natural habitat, observe their activities.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by conservation President Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” During his tenure, President Roosevelt set aside 230 million acres of public land in the form of national forests, national monuments and parks, wildlife refuges and more.

We are in this together, let’s enjoy what we can with we have from where we are to stay safe.

 

 

Born to Fish, a True Story

  • Do we have to go in Mom? Please, can I stay on the dock?
  • A reference book on North American Fish made me an 8-year-old “whizz-kid.” That was fun!
  • Fishing bonded me with my mom, dad and so many other family members, and their friends too, from a very young age.

At 3-years-old here, I learned to love fishing from my earliest days, before a medical condition took away some of my leg mobility. I never wanted to leave the dock! Still don’t.

By Wade Robertson

Mom and I were taking a ride last week. Elsie Robertson is 94 years old and still pretty sharp.

Somehow the subject of fishing came up – perhaps this is unavoidable if you talk to me for any length of time, and we were reminiscing about family vacations. I can just remember Mom dragging me off of the dock during a week-long vacation on Chautauqua Lake. I was fishing for sunfish, though I was barely old enough to hold a miniature pole. I’d been fishing since daylight, was being roasted by the sun and hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Mom feared I had sunstroke and knew I must be starving, but I resisted, almost violently, to being taken inside. Mom literally had to wrap me up in her arms and haul my kicking, writhing body inside, accompanied, of course, by my yells and crying protests.

Once food and drink were set in front of me, I realized I was, in fact, exceedingly hungry and had a headache from the blazing sun. I even fell asleep for my usual nap. Once I awoke, back out I went. There were fish out there and I was determined to find them.

Mom laughed at the memory and told me every time we drove by a stream, pond or lake, I’d always say the same thing; “Should-a brung my rod.” Mom would turn and rebuke me. “Should have brought your rod! How many times do I have to tell you that?”

I’d grin and smile, but habits are hard to break.

“Do you think I was born a fishing fanatic Mom?” I asked her.

Mom didn’t even hesitate before answering. “Yes”, she answered. The fascination had always been there, easily noticeable from my earliest years. Dad bought me a reference book on North American fish as soon as I could read and I pretty much memorized it in a week or two. That knowledge would come in handy in many surprising ways.

Soon after this, my grandfather and his cronies returned from an early fishing trip to Quebec. Jim McKittrick had caught a large fish on a spoon and no one knew what it was. Pop Hayes told his friends that his 8-year-old grandson would be able to identify the mystery fish, and they laughed at him. He insisted I could and upon their arrival home immediately called Mom. It was early on a Saturday. She smiled at me when she understood the situation and quickly drove me down to investigate. Mom had watched me sit for hours going through that fish field guide, page by page, totally engrossed.

When we arrived Pop stood confidently with his friends, his smoking pipe in hand, grinning. He fully expected me to recognize the unknown fish while his friends were just as confident that I couldn’t. How could an 8-year-old recognize a fish that none of them, the grown men, has ever seen either?

I jumped from the car and ran over to the waiting trucks filled with anticipation. I knew they’d have pike, bass and walleyes, maybe even a lake trout. The big chests were filled with fish and ice, covered with heavy canvass tarps in the truck beds.

Pop waved me to his side and savoring the moment introduced me to all his friends, most of whom I already knew. Pop, always the showman, loved to embellish any situation and this was too good an opportunity to miss. He elaborated on their trip and finally got around to describing how Jim hooked this large fish while trolling, and how well it fought.

By now, his impatient friends were barely able to restrain themselves. Could the kid identify the fish or not? There were some knowing smiles over Pop’s antics, but they knew him well and were attempting to be patient.

Having set the stage, Pop began filling his pipe. Jim snorted, threw his arms up and led me to his truck, pulling the heavy tarp off 1 of the chests and opening it. Inside, on top was a large-scaled, silver fish with a small head, a chub-like mouth and a large eye. The fish was around 30-inches long.

More than six decades later, the streams and lakes still beckon to my immediate focus. I learned to love the outdoors at a very early age and I extend extra efforts now to help youngsters and their families find a way to discover the fun of fishing.

Pop’s eye was fixed upon me and I saw a split-second shadow of concern flicker in them. His reputation was at stake here, he’d played the showman, trusting in my fascination with fish and the knowledge that I’d acquired. On occasion, I’d recited to him the many facts I’d learned about different species and quizzed him about his experiences. He was impressed with what I already knew, but had he overplayed his hand? I immediately felt the weight of that trust and his faith in me, we were both on the spot and the pressure was on. Did I know?

“What is it?” Jim asked, glancing first at Pop Hayes and then back at me.

Pop was standing there confidently, smoking his pipe, apparently without a care in the world. The others all involuntarily stepped forward staring intently. I certainly was anxious, but needlessly. I knew at a glance what it was. The fish looked exactly like the picture in the book, came from the waters the map showed it inhabited.

I looked proudly up and answered with surety. “That’s a huge whitefish, maybe a record!”

Pop burst out laughing! He was filled with pride and vindication, shaking my hand, patting me proudly. One or two men were skeptical and asked if I was positive. I described the large scales, small head, shape of the dorsal fin and mouth; further informing these fishermen that whitefish was excellent eating as well. They were noted for their white flakey fillets, not fishy at all. They were commercially netted in the spring and their smoked fillets were sold in many fish shops, a delicacy.

When I confidently challenged them to come inside the house and check the encyclopedia no one any longer doubted me.

Suddenly, I became the whizz-kid. Even more questions were asked of me, all of which I answered. Everyone was impressed. Grandad looked down on me beaming, and suddenly there was a special bond between us that never diminished. The story spread all over town and for months afterward, people would ask if I was the kid who knew so much about fish.

“Yes, sir. Yes, Mam.” I’d reply. It was flattering for a young boy to be so noticed.

Looking back I can’t help but wonder if that knowledge wasn’t born within me and the book simply refreshed what I already somehow knew before coming to earth. I honestly believe that may be true.

Niagara River/Lake Ontario Fish are NOT SOCIAL Distancing, THEY”RE ON THE BITE!

NIAGARA USA King Salmon bite BEGINS!

  • Shore fishing is VERY GOOD…spoons and spinners…bring a camera!
  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for April 8, 2020, from Destination Niagara USA
  • Boat fishing is good for Kings, Lakers, Steelhead, the Big Bass are just starting up

Stephanie Pierleoni of Newfane went fishing with her husband, Capt. Vince Pierleoni, out of Olcott this week and reeled in this king salmon.

Social distancing is critical when it comes to fishing, both onshore and in a boat.

COVID-19 continues to expand across the state and slowing that curve is important and we are moving forward. We are fortunate in that our boat launch ramps are still open, and we have plenty of shore fishing options available to us. Please stay safe out there and use your head to limit the spread.

With hatchery fish stocking taking place both in the Great Lakes waters and inland waters, please take note that there are special distinctions between both areas. The Great Lakes waters include lakes Erie and Ontario and the tributaries up to the first impassible barrier (such as a dam). Trout and salmon that are stocked as fingerlings and yearlings follow a certain protocol – put, grow and take. They are not meant to be taken immediately after they are stocked in places like the Wilson or Olcott harbors.

Nancy Colavecchia of Niagara Falls caught her biggest bass ever in the upper Niagara River this week.

For the Lake Ontario basin, the minimum size for browns, rainbows, and Pacific salmon is 15 inches in length. Some people have been catching and keeping trout well under that size close to shore. There are certainly more regulations than just these (such as new rules in the tributaries for brown trout (1 per person) and rainbow/steelhead (1 per person with a minimum size of 25 inches) and it’s important to know them before you head out.

The big news is that there have finally been reports of smelt being taken in the lower Niagara River. While Lewiston Landing (the sand docks) didn’t produce anything, they did get some at Artpark, to the south, and from docks to the north. The best time was after 11 p.m.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a dandy lower river brown trout he caught from shore using a No. 4 spinner.

Fishing in the lower river for trout continues to be good to very good depending on who you talk to. Steelhead, brown trout and lake trout are all being caught by anglers fishing from boat and shore. Water visibility is about 5-6 feet.  Spinners from shore are still producing trout in the gorge. Boaters are drifting minnows, egg sacs or running plugs like Kwikies or MagLips off three-way rigs. Bass are starting to turn on as the waters warm up both in the lower and upper rivers. It was around 45 degrees this week.  

Matt Tall of Wilson caught this 23-pound king salmon fishing with Capt. Tyler Morrison out of Wilson this week.

Some more exciting news is that the king salmon fishing has started to turn on in Lake Ontario.

Matt Tall of Wilson and Capt. Taz Morrison out of Wilson worked their lures in 30 to 80 feet of water to take some nice kings and lake trout. They caught kings to 25 pounds. Conditions change almost daily, says Tall, with things warming up so fast. They were running stickbaits and spoons mostly, working in 46 degrees surface temperature. The temperature doesn’t change much until you get out to 90 feet of water.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught this big steelhead in the lower Niagara River this week from shore in the gorge area.

Lake trout are eating everything in sight. James DeGirolamo of Derby reports that they were fishing anywhere from 180 to 220 feet of water straight out from Olcott. They had meat rigs and spoons working, with trout and salmon hitting most everything, but spoons are the way to go.

Capt. Tyler Morrison of West End Charters shows off a 25-pound king salmon he caught this week out of Wilson.

Terry Swann of Wilson reports that bullheads are biting at the Wilson-Tuscarora Park boat launch and in the West Branch of 12-mile Creek. Worms and shrimp seem to be the bait of choice.

A few nice perch are showing up too. Pier action has been good for trout in both Wilson and Olcott. Spoons and spinners or live bait under a float work best.

Tributary action has slowed a bit and with the rains from last night and more is forecasted through Friday. It will probably muddy things up and create higher flows.

Stay safe out there.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

Inline image 2
Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
 

Good morning, Happy Easter!

Looking for that "Perfect Pairing?"

We sincerely hope that you and your families are well and that you have enjoyed this unusual Easter weekend more than expected. Yesterday, here in Western New York, it was a gorgeous spring day. As you can see, the daffodils at the end of the vineyard rows are celebrating.

A PERFECT PAIRING – The Dry Rose of Pinot Noir is delicious with Reverie Creamery’s Black Garlic Chèvre (made with locally-grown and produced black garlic from Ramm Garlic Farm) and home-made bread. Yes, this pairing celebrates our “sense of place” with both wine and cheese from Chautauqua County. Reverie Creamery is a small batch artisanal cheesemaker on the west shore of Chautauqua Lake – it is open (SEE website for their hours) and can provide pre-order curbside delivery.

We appreciate, with gratitude, all of the interest and support we are receiving from our customers. Thank you for serving our wines at your tables.

Going forward, we can send periodic updates of activities on the farm (pruning is finished and trellis repairs have begun) and in the winery (secondary in-bottle fermentation has been started for the Sparkling Traminette and our new estate-grown Chardonnay-Pinot Noir Cuveé!) – for neither the vines nor the wines in the tanks understand that there is a pandemic.

We are confident that by the time these sparkling wines are ready to be released that we will be free to enjoy them together.

Need a fresh taste of Spring?

Dry Rose of Pinot Noir 
Traditional “French provençal” rosé – perfect with dinner, especially when served not-too-cold.  She doesn’t usually pour a second glass, but Jennifer did with this one!

Ruby Dry Rosé
Made from Maréchal Foch grapes and bursting with fruity flavors.  Don’t tell anyone, but Jennifer said that this wine is the first one that ever made her think of the word “gulp”!

Please know that our FREE Shipping Programs continue for all of our customers – details here.

Warm Spring Regards,
Jennifer & Fred Johnson, Johnson ESTATE Winery

To receive our emails to your inbox, please add this email address to your contact list – admin@johnsonwinery.comas some email providers may divert our emails into your spam folder.

Johnson ESTATE Winery, 8419 West Main Road (Route 20), Westfield, NY 14787; Tel: 716-326-2191 or 800-374-6569; Email: admin@johnsonwinery.com

Bowhunting for a Turkey? Know the best Shot Placement Options BEFORE heading to the Woods

"Proper Shot Placement with your Arrow is Critical," says Jason Houser.

  • A strutting turkey is mostly air and feathers, read to know more about where to shoot.
  • Nothing is more exciting than to shoot a spring tom with archery gear.
  • Make a good shot and recovery is quick. If you make a poor shot, it could be a long day.

If you can master hitting the bullseye on this target, you will not have any problem killing a turkey this spring.

By Jason Houser

Wild turkeys can be difficult to recover even after they have been shot with a razor-sharp broadhead. Turkeys can take a hard hit, and still have the stamina to walk, or even fly away – possibly are never found.

If an archer is unable to hit his mark, recovery will not be easy. Every hunter has an ethical and moral obligation to know where to aim for the quickest possible kill on a bird that has left many hunters scratching their heads as they search diligently for a turkey that they thought had just taken a lethal hit.

Turkey hunters have some options as to what type of broadhead to use when pursuing turkeys. Of course, a mechanical or a fixed blade are the most popular.

Fixed-blade broadheads that are at least 1 ¼ -inches in diameter or mechanical heads that are shot at the vitals are the preferred choice by many hunters. Other hunters choose to shoot at the neck of a big bird with a big four-blade broadhead made just for the neck and head region of a turkey. If you ask 50 hunters if they prefer a body shot or a headshot for a quick kill, the answers will likely be split evenly between the two choices.

Mechanical broadheads (both are mechanical) are popular among many turkey hunters.

For years, all that turkey hunters had available to them were large, fixed blade broadheads. This type of head has accounted for countless numbers of turkeys over the years. As technology improved, so did the broadheads available for the turkey hunter.

Arrow penetration has been a highly debated topic among turkey hunters for as long as turkeys have been hunted with archery equipment. Some hunters prefer a pass-through shot that will cause a lot of damage, as well as leave a good blood trail to follow. I believe that while many turkeys will receive a good deal of damage, I have found that most turkeys do not leave a good blood trail to follow. Their thick feathers will soak up most of the blood before it ever has a chance to reach the ground.

Open on impact (mechanical) broadheads are quickly becoming favorites of turkey hunters. Mechanical broadheads that offer a wide cutting diameter will cause plenty of hemorrhaging along with a lot of damage to a turkey. A well-placed, open-on-impact broadhead will quickly put a bird down for the count. Rocky Mountain has some great mechanical broadheads that are great for turkey hunting.

The biggest mistake that bowhunters can make is hitting the turkey too low, or too far back. It will be very hard for even an experienced turkey hunter to find a bird that has been shot in this part of its body.

                            Proper Shot Placement with your Arrow is Critical. See above for kill shot examples. 

The size of a turkey’s heart and lung area is no bigger than a man’s fist. That is not a big target to hit, especially if you are accustomed to shooting at the vitals of a mature whitetail. Turkeys that are strutting appear to be a larger target than what they are. The truth is what you see on a strutting turkey is mostly air and feathers. There is very little actual body under all that fluff. Do not be tricked into believing you see something that is not there. Turkeys are constantly moving. For this reason, shot angles are always changing, making it difficult to get a shot at the vitals.

It is almost impossible to tell where the vitals are located on a strutting tom. A better shot would be to wait until the turkey is facing head-on and try to put your arrow just above the base of the beard. If a strutting tom is facing away from you send an arrow through the vent (anus) of the turkey. The arrow will either pass through the chest or hit the spine. Either way, it will result in a quick, ethical kill.

Nothing is more exciting, or sometimes frustrating, than attempting to shoot a spring tom with archery gear. Make a good shot and recovery is quick. If you make a poor shot, you are libel to never find that turkey. A great practice target is the turkey 3D target from Shooter Archery Targets. It has all three aiming points I discussed in this article. If you can master hitting the bullseye on this target, you will not have any problem killing a turkey this spring.

Check out this video for more tips.

NEW Sunday Hunting LAW – Pennsylvania Celebrates More Hunting for Everyone

Sunday hunting means more time in the woods for everyone. NSSF Photo.

  • The addition of just these 3 days allows for working mothers and fathers to take their children to pass along shared hunting traditions.
  • Priceless

The New Bill would allow Sunday hunting one day during rifle deer season, one during statewide archery deer season and a third day to be selected by Pennsylvania’s Game Commission. NSSF Photo

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) has made Sunday hunting a priority issue in Pennsylvania. NSSF led the Sunday Hunting Coalition, along with 15 other like-minded hunting and conservation groups and outdoor retail businesses. NSSF was successful in recent years in bringing Sunday hunting to North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and South Carolina. Maine and Massachusetts still have outright Sunday hunting bans, and several states still restrict hunting, including allowing hunting only on private lands.

Sunday hunting means more time in the woods for everyone. NSSF Photo.

NSSF applauds the Pennsylvania legislature for passing legislation that will allow for Sunday hunting in the Keystone State for the first time in more than 100 years. The Pennsylvania state Senate approved S. 147 in a vote of 38-11, sending the bill to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has committed to signing the measure into law.

“Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania is a phenomenal victory for sportsmen and women,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “This simple act removes the barrier to many to enjoy and pass along to the next generation of conservationist-hunters the respect for sustainable wildlife and the hunting traditions for which Pennsylvania is proud. We thank the legislature for their foresight to work diligently to this outcome. This is a tectonic shift in policy and one that will benefit Pennsylvania’s conservation, growth in outdoor recreation and economic impact.”

The Pennsylvania legislation would allow Sunday hunting one day during rifle deer season, one during statewide archery deer season and a third day to be selected by Pennsylvania’s Game Commission. Pennsylvania sold 855,486 hunting licenses in 2018. The addition of just these three days allows for working mothers and fathers to take three more days in the woods and marshes with their children to pass along shared hunting traditions.

The economic benefit to removing all Sunday hunting barriers in the Keystone State would inject $764,291,489 in total economic contribution, including jobs, output, and wages created from hunter expenditures ranging from licenses, ammunition, and hunting supplies to food, fuel, and magazines.

About NSSF: The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

Fishing is GREAT, BUT…the Boat Launches/Access are under NYS Covid Rules

Matt Tall of Wilson with a respectable king salmon he caught off his home port last week.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for April 15, 2020, from Destination Niagara USA

Wade Winch of North Tonawanda with a king salmon he caught on the Niagara Bar area on Easter.

COVID-19 impacts continue to be felt throughout the fishing community, leaving people a bit confused as far as what is happening with the local fishing scene.

Charter captains are shut down. For the most part, marinas are shut down. Launch ramps – DEC and State Parks are open. A few others run by towns or villages are still open. Lewiston is open and so is Olcott. The ramps at Fort Niagara, Wilson and Golden Hill state parks are all open, with a caveat. There are no amenities, no restrooms. Take your garbage with you.

If you are using the launch ramp, make sure you abide by the social distancing guidelines. Don’t be packing a 21-foot boat with 4 people.  Be respectful of others. If not, there will be no other choice than to see access shut down in the problem areas. For now, take advantage of the good fishing opportunities that we have in this area.

The Olcott launch ramp opened back up on Tuesday morning, but there are no workers or amenities.

Action out in the lake continues to be good for salmon and lake trout in 50 to 70 feet of water according to Roy Letcher of Newfane. Wilson has been a hot spot of late. Spoons and stickbaits are both working to take fish. Wade Winch of North Tonawanda launched his boat at Fort Niagara and hit the Niagara Bar for some Easter action. He hit 3 kings, an Atlantic salmon and a lake trout using DW Orange Crush spoons 60 to 80 feet down over 200 to 220 feet of water. Try netting a king salmon by yourself on a boat if you are looking for a challenge. The piers are still producing a mix of fish including some nice brown trout when the water isn’t too muddy coming out of 12- or 18-Mile Creeks. Cast spoons or stickbaits. Cooler temperatures have kept steelhead around for some possible action, drop backs who have finished with their spawning. Smallmouth bass action has started and are moving into the lower stretches of the creeks. Bullhead can be found most anyplace according to Letcher.

Capt. Taz Morrison with a big Wilson king salmon last week.

Water clarity was limited in the Niagara River after Monday’s winds that topped 60 miles per hour in some places and brought us nearly an inch of rain. Less than 2 feet of visibility was reported by Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. When the waters start to clear, look for good trout fishing to continue in the river. Water levels have been high in the river, especially after the winds pushed water into the eastern basin. The New York Power Authority reminds anglers that the Fishing Platform, the stairs leading down to the Devil’s Hole shoreline and the access stairs off Upper Mountain Road to the Reservoir are all closed at this time. For updates on access call 286-6662. Shoreline fishing for trout is still available using spinners or other hardware, drifting eggs or egg imitations under a float in the clearer water, tight to shore.

Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo with a chunky lake trout he caught last week fishing out of Olcott.

For those planning ahead, the Spring LOC Derby has been canceled for May 8-17 and the Niagara County Pro-Am Tournament set for June 5-6 has been canceled. The Erie Canal Fishing Derby has been canceled for the July event, originally set for July 16-26 but now set for July 15-25, 2021 in Niagara and Orleans counties. Stay safe out there and be sure to maintain your social distancing.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Inline image 2
Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303

Online Hunter Education Course Available For NY Hunters

Hunters ages 12 or older may purchase a license and head afield this spring.

  • The cost of the course is $19.95 
  • The online course will be available April 15 through June 30, 2020

Courtesy NYSDEC

First-time hunters who want to hunt during New York’s turkey hunting seasons must first earn a hunter education certificate prior to purchasing their first hunting license. This applies to both the regular season, May 1-31, and the youth (ages 12-15) turkey hunting weekend April 25-26. Unfortunately, all traditional hunter education courses have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many new hunters unable to get a certificate before spring turkey season.

Now there is a new option for earning a hunter education certificate. For a limited time, first-time hunters in New York can complete the required hunter education course entirely online.

The online course is available to anyone ages 11 and older and can be completed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone at any time. Students who complete the online course and virtual field day, and pass the final exam, will receive their hunter education certificate and can purchase a hunting license.

Only those hunters ages 12 or older may purchase a license and head afield this spring.

The cost of the course is $19.95. The online course will be available April 15 through June 30, 2020 on the Kalkomey website.

Over-Under Turkey Gun, Close or Far: CZ Reaper Magnum

  • This 12-gauge camo shotgun ships with 6 interchangeable choke tubes, including an extra-full version.
  • Picatinny rail mount option for optic addition is included.
  • QD swivels are attached at front and back

Whether the shot is longer-range or considerably closer, the CZ Reaper Magnum over-and-under offers choke tube options to fill your turkey tag. Outfit one barrel of this 12-gauge turkey gun with a tight choke, the other with a more open variation, then you’re good for that big tom at nearly any distance by merely flipping the barrel selector switch on the Reaper Magnum.

You can even match your shells to the chokes you have selected. For example, fit one barrel with an extra full choke and load it with a magnum turkey load for that 45-yard shot, and a less powerful shell with a more open choke in the other barrel when a bird suddenly pops up at 18 feet. Try that with a semi-automatic or pump shotgun!

The 3.5-inch chambers of the Reaper Magnum allow the use of nearly any 12-gauge turkey shells, while the automatic ejectors vigorously pop out the empties. The shotgun’s 26-inch barrels makes this O/U very maneuverable in the field, whether hunting from a blind or sitting with your back against a tree trunk. Prefer an optic for your turkey hunting? A Picatinny rail mount is included just above the chamber on the rear of the barrels, making any optic an easy addition.

The CZ Reaper Magnum’s sturdy polymer stock can take all that Mother Nature has to offer, and the Realtree Xtra® Green Camo finish will hide this shotgun from those sharp-eyed turkeys. QD swivels are attached at the front and back, and the shotgun ships with six (6) extended, interchangeable choke tubes, including an extra-full version.

Retail cost: $993.

For more information, please visit WWW.CZ-USA.COM.

CZ Reaper Magnum Specs:

  • SKU: 06588
  • Chambering.: 12 Gauge
  • Operation: Over and Under
  • Max Shell Length: 3 ½ in.
  • Barrel Length: 26 in.
  • Rib: 8mm Flat Vent
  • Chokes: 6 Extended Black tubes, including C, IC, LM, M, IM, EXTRA FULL
  • Stock: Polymer, Realtree Xtra® Green Camo
  • Overall Length: 44 ¼ in.
  • Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Length of Pull: 14 ½ in.

Patience is Often Key to Early-Season Turkey-Hunting Success…What to do, When to call, What to use

  • Avoid mistakes by watching, listening and adapting.
  • Calls, gentle yelps, clucks, but don’t over-call if the birds are quiet.
  • Read on to learn WHEN TO USE a decoy. The birds will always show you what they want.

By Josh Lantz

Most turkey hunters believe the opening days of the spring turkey-hunting season offer the best chances at taking a bird. It’s probably true. Gobblers that haven’t been hunted in months can up the odds for success, but an abundance of weather-related variables can easily turn what should be prime turkey-killing days into disappointing outings that often leave less-experienced hunters scratching their heads. As with most confusing situations in life, observation, listening and patience can be the keys to success.

If the opening day arrives on the heels of typical spring weather, hunters can usually expect toms to be fired up for breeding but frustrated by hens that aren’t quite ready. These are ideal conditions for the turkey hunter, as toms will be close to the hens and establishing dominance. These are birds that can be expected to respond favorably to effective calling – especially the less-dominant toms. More on that later.

A portable ground blind can be very helpful during the early season for a variety of reasons and a lightweight model is worth carrying. There’s a lot less vegetation at the start of the season, and turkeys are often less vocal, too. Silent birds can be on top of you before you know it. A blind can conceal your movement when repositioning your gun towards that old tom that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Of course, a ground blind also provides welcomed comfort and protection from spring’s unpredictable weather.

If the early season is particularly cold, don’t be surprised when the birds don’t crank up the way you want them to. Adapt by heading straight to spots you’ve observed with the greatest signs of turkey activity. Use a couple of decoys and try a little calling, but don’t be surprised or too concerned if they don’t gobble. Have patience. Pack a lunch and hunt all day if your state allows it.

Deciding how much or how little to call can only be learned through experience and is a critical consideration during the early season. Toms are sorting out their pecking order during the pre-breeding period, so aggressive calling can work well, but don’t overdo it. Many hunters have a tendency to keep hammering away, especially when turkeys aren’t gobbling, but stop and realize that isn’t always what turkeys want to hear. There’s a reason the birds aren’t making a racket, so why are you?

Start with three or four soft yelps and build up gradually. Wait a minute, then apply a little more pressure. Repeat the process a couple more times, getting louder and extending the sequence each time. Finally, scream ten to 12 notes at them while throwing in some feeding calls and cuts. Hopefully, you’ll get a response, but don’t be surprised if you don’t. You’ve played your cards, so sit tight, be quiet and listen carefully for at least 20 minutes to give any silent but otherwise interested toms time to enter your window. If a gobbler answers, return call by softly yelping or purring just enough to let him know where you’re at. Alternatively, try rustling some leaves with your hand to simulate scratching and feeding but do it in a careful way that minimizes motion. If you are in an area with a lot of turkey sign, be patient and stay put, especially if there’s some other hunting pressure in the area. Have confidence in your setup and focus on managing your own little corner of the turkey woods. If there’s little to no pressure, consider making a small move, but take time to think about where you’re headed and how you’ll get there before getting up.

A lot of turkey hunters employ the proven jake/hen combo decoy setup during the early season. Emphasis on proven. But don’t overlook the power of a singl