A Magical Michigan Journey…Viewing Elk

A Gourmet Meal is served inside the majestic cabin overlooking the Elk herd.

Elk can safely be viewed in their natural fenced habitat at the Gaylord City Park in Central-Western Michigan.

By Bob Holzhei

The Pigeon River Country State Forest, consisting of 110,000 acres spread over three counties in the state, is located at Gaylord, MI.  It is a tourist destination where visitors can view elk in their natural habitat. “Elk viewing is one of the most popular area activities,” according to Kristie Walcott, Director of Marketing & Communications with the Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau. The Gaylord CVB even has an elk viewing page on the tourism bureau’s website.

“Four staff members take care of the elk and the herd is overseen by a licensed veterinarian that provides medical care on an “as needed basis,” stated Alan Zielenski, Supervisor, Department of Public Works, city of Gaylord.

I was spellbound as the very slow tour drive began in the fenced in area. As the outing began, my mind traveled back in time to an earlier era.  I found myself in the late 1800’s traveling in a covered wagon, pulled by a team of horses on the frontier.  I reminisced how my great, great, grandparents might have lived.

“In the late 1800’s there was a business called Project Nature that housed a variety of wildlife, including elk.  When Project Nature closed in the early 90’s, the elk were moved to their location on city property.  This also makes our Elks Lodge, the only ‘Live” Elks Lodge in the nation,” added Zielenski.

We did not want to spook the elk lying nearby.  Many elk were lying along the fence line under the cover of shade from the sun.  Photos captured the many majestic elk. In this case, a picture was worth a thousand words. I felt like I was traveling back to an earlier era in wild Michigan when the land was unspoiled.  In a time of settlers within small hamlets, forging out a life in the wilderness for their families.

 Upon entering the log cabin, guests will find a luxurious setting.

What is the history behind the current elk herd? Elk were extinct in Michigan during the 1800’s.  In 1918, seven Mountain Rocky Elk were relocated to Gaylord from the Western United States.  The herd grew to 1,500 elk in the nearly 1960’s, dropping down to 200 elk in the mid-1970’s, due to poaching and reduced habitat quality.  Over the past 40 years, public and private elk wildlife management has contributed to the success of the current population.  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been a vital part of the rehabilitation of the elk herd.  The habitat consists of open and natural forested areas.  The unspoiled surroundings are the result of cutting timber, planting crops and controlled burns.

Gaylord has a City Elk Park allowing visitors to view the elk from their cars.  Currently in the park there are 30 bulls and 10 cows in a 108-acre fenced in area.  Feed for the elk each week consists of four round bales of hay, a supply of sugar beets, corn and vitamins.

The older bulls fight for dominance and the opportunity to breed the cows.  “One time two bulls were fighting, while a smaller bull went to service a cow,” added Zielenski. Observation details including maps with directions are available at the Gaylord Information Center. An additional elk viewing experience is available at Thunder Bay Resort located at Hillman, MI.

“People started requesting information on elk viewing opportunities.  In addition, we offer a wagon or sleigh ride through the forest, arriving at a log cabin where a gourmet meal is provided to our guests, cooked on 125-year-old cook stoves,” added Jack Matthias at Thunder Bay Resort. This unique outdoor opportunity has become so popular that making reservations ahead of time is recommended.

Thunder Bay Resort has been recognized as “one of America’s Best Attractions!  The award-winning elk viewing, horse-drawn sleigh or carriage ride, gourmet dinner and wine tasting event is ‘a real fairy tale’ as was declared by USA Today. Fox News Online declared it as ‘a Top Ten’ event!

The horse-drawn carriage or sleigh ride whisks guests “over the river and through the woods,” to the resort’s elk preserve to view Rocky Mountain Elk in their natural habitat. At the Elk Antler Cabin a warm fire awaits with a gourmet dinner including a pear & apple dumpling, shrimp cocktail, homemade chicken noodle soup, a sweet Napa salad & croissant, crown roast of pork with roasted skinned potatoes and a white chocolate mousse filled with pizzelles with fresh raspberries.

“Elk viewing dinner rides have now become part of destination weddings, holiday parties, and murder mystery weekends.  With five carriages or sleighs, the capacity for the experience is 104 guests,” added Matthias. This year Thunder Bay Resort celebrates its 30th year anniversary.  Over 120,000 folks have experienced the magic of an elk bugle and a gourmet meal! In concluding, Zielenski said, “Gaylord is known as a four-season outdoor recreation area offering boating, fishing, hunting, swimming, kayaking, rafting, hiking, biking and golf during the summer months. Come visit with us.”

For More Information: Gaylord Information Center, 319 W. Main Street or online at www.gaylordmichigan.net. Thunder Bay Resort: 1-800-729-9375, www.reservations@ThunderBayResort.

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:

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.

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 . 

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.

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.

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!

Public Access Cleared to 32,900 Acres of Wyoming Mountains for Summer-2021

Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Hunters, anglers and others will soon have access to more than 32,900 acres of previously difficult to reach public land in the Sublette Mountain Range of western Wyoming. Working in partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and others, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation assisted with the purchase of an important access agreement.

“Creating and improving public access is key to who we are as an organization and our mission,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “There is currently limited access to the west side of the Sublette Range. This action will change that.”

The agreement, targeted to take effect in the summer of 2021, will create a permanent public roadway and a parking area linked to the Groo Canyon trail from Highway 30 north of Cokeville near the Wyoming-Idaho border. Once finalized, the new entry point will allow access across private ranchland to lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management known as the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area and additional state and federal lands beyond that.

Historically, elk management has been particularly difficult in the Sublette Range because of limited public access. The new agreement will allow improved hunter access and opportunity, thus allowing WGFD to better attain population management objectives for elk, deer, moose, mountain lions and black bears.

In addition to WGFD, other project and funding partners include the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, onX and RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment.

What they say about the Raymond Mountain project:
“As the Wyoming Game and Fish Department evaluates and pursues access projects, we look for opportunities that will have a substantial positive impact for our constituents and we feel the Raymond Mountain Public Access Area will provide that,” said Sean Bibbey, WGFD lands branch chief. “The department looks forward to developing this area for use by the public in the coming year and we want to thank RMEF and the other partners on this project for their hard work and support to make this opportunity happen.”

“This collaborative public access project in the Sublette Range is a true win-win for conservation and all who love the outdoors,” said Bob Ziehmer, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s senior director of conservation.“When completed, the new entry point will be a game-changer in improving recreational opportunities and wildlife management in the region. We thank our generous customers for rounding up to the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, providing funding for this key project.”

“We applaud the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for working to secure improved access to public lands,” said Lisa Nichols, onX access advocacy manager. “We also want to recognize the ranching family who prioritized the recreation potential on land that is dear to their heart. Increasing hunting and public access opportunities for everyone is core to onX’s mission, and we’re honored to be part of projects like these.”

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Shark Teeth, Beach Treasure for Fun in the Sun…from Ancient times

  • HOW and WHERE to find them ON THE BEACH – 5 Methods
  • Shark Teeth found on the beach are fossilized – 10,000 to 15 million years old!
  • Back to the Future…fun on the beaches at Manatee Key in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida beach shark teeth are found in all colors and sizes, drawing the attention of beachgoers from near and far. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher
There are shark teeth to be found all over the world.  If you are looking for a great place to spend the day frolicking in the Gulf of Mexico, lying in the sun, taking a long walk at water’s edge and looking for the treasure of fossilized shark teeth, here are a few tips on what, where, and how.

Shark Teeth are a precious authentic prize for vacationing visitors to Southwest Florida.  You can find them on your own, it’s fun, and it’s the best excuse to RE-VISIT the beaches…”TREASURE!”  If you are new to shark tooth treasure hunting, here is some advice on gear, methods to use, and places to go.

Gear: For first-timers that want to stay very affordable, visit a local store to buy a (noodle strainer) colander ($1-$3).  If you want to spend a bit more, visit a local beach store to purchase a “sand flea scooper” with ¼ inch mesh ($10-$20). Folks use the colander or sand flea scoopers to scoop the surf for shark teeth. Of course, you can also just pick up shark teeth when you see them at the top of the surf on the beach with your bare hands. Lastly, carry an empty prescription jar or plastic bag to store your shark teeth as you continue the hunt.  Now you’re set.

Finding Shark Teeth – 5 Methods:

  • Method 1: The Surf Line. Keep it simple, put your sunscreen on, keep your head down, and just saunter along the surf line, where the waves hit the beach, being careful not to bump into any beachgoers doing the same thing going in the other direction. Remember, keep your head down!

    Shark teeth, seashells, sunshine, and gentle surf offer appeal and fun for all age groups.

    The usually black-color shark teeth are easily and clearly visible as they sort of pop-up in the firm sand. Each wave can bring more than one, at times. Just pick them up and add them to your collection bag, usually a small sealable plastic bag or an old plastic medicine bottle.

  • Method 2: The Storm Line. If you look along the beach between the tall marsh grass to the water’s edge, you will note that there is a distinct line of demarcation where the sand sort of changes texture and composition. You will usually see a collection of millions of small shells here too, yes, right in the middle of the beach, parallel to the waterline. There are tons of shark teeth here. You might not be the first to search, so look around for a 10 by 10-foot area that appears to be untouched. Drop your picnic blanket down, open up your lawn chairs, put up your portable beach umbrella, and set your cooler down.

    Amidst the thousands of feet of the shell lines to be found on nearly every Manasota Key beach, look closely at this photo, there are treasured shark teeth!

    The sound of the surf will put you to sleep as you sift the sand “down the line” of your intended search area. My family and usually do this and find about 100 teeth per beach visit. As we talk about life, listen to the sea birds in constant chatter too, we enjoy a cool beverage and thank the good Lord for this blessing of a sunny day at the beach…with shark teeth.

  • Method 3: The Chair Line. My shark tooth collection expert friends, Tim and Jeanie Snyder, internationally infamous and brazenly simple in their shark tooth-finding process, they are extremely efficient and prefer this method to find beach teeth by the hundred. Bring your own or rent a shallow height beach chair. Walk to the water’s edge, now look left and look right. Find a little feature point of sand that sort of sticks out along the usually long and straight beach line. Go there. Set your chair in the surf line on either side of this point and about 3-feet or so into the water. You’re about to get wet (feels so good). Use your hands, a small screen scooper, a colander, or a little minnow net with an extension handle. Put your sunglasses on, keep your eyes open and watch for the shark teeth with each wave. You might find many dozens per hour this way, fresh from the sea!
  • Method 4: The Snorkel/Mask Line. Don your snorkel and mask, walk out 20 to 40 feet from the beach sand and you’ll note a sort of “deep spot” before it starts to get shallower as you continue to walk out. Go back to the trench, this is the “shark tooth trench!” If the water is clear and not too wavy, walk-swim-float, and search the bottom. You’ll often see multiple sets of teeth laying right there for the picking. Shells too. This method can be very productive when the waves are soft and small.
  • Method 5: the EASY WAY – Shark Art Online. Even if you are happy with what you collected, or maybe your trip was cancelled, if you want a perfect collection of shark teeth for vacation talking-moments at your next family gathering, consider this: You can buy assorted shark teeth collections or buy shark tooth art, fully supplied in a small kit for very little money. Prices for simple shark teeth package assortments vary from $3 (for 30 teeth and a free shark tooth necklace) to about $15, based on size and number of shark teeth. The shark art kits vary from $10 to $20 plus shipping – these are 5 x 7 and 8 x 10-inch art, respectively, and are awesome. Each of the art kits is all-inclusive with the shark teeth, artboard (complete with the profile where you glue the teeth), and directions. These kits are inexpensive and make an awesome gift.

    Tim Snyder, the Shark Art Guy, in his favorite shark-tooth treasure hunting place, the Peace River, 25 to 50 miles from where it enters the Gulf of Mexico.

    Visit this link to order direct: https://www.ebay.com/str/sharkteethandsharkartbyclark or email sharkartbyclark@gmail.com. If you become a repeat customer with three orders of $50 or more, Snyder will offer an invitation to you for a day of collecting teeth and fossils (get your Florida fossil permit, the cost is $5) on the Peace River (Tim reminds each guest that there are no guarantees on weather, water conditions, water level, how many teeth or fossils are collected and, of course, he is not responsible for any accidents or injuries. You are invited as a friend taking a friend to the river.) I did this trip! Under Tim’s direction of the process, Tim’s shovel and Tim’s sifter in hand, I collected 386 teeth in 5 hours! These are perfect teeth, no rounded edges from the surf. Unreal! It was such fun!

Where to find Shark Teeth – 1 Florida Key, 4 Beaches:

Shark tooth hunters of all sizes, young and old, head for the beach to find prehistoric treasure. Not everyone is successful but study the methods outlined here to learn shark tooth hunting options for your success.

Manasota Key is an long island-like land mass near Port Charlotte, Florida, that offers four popular shark tooth hunting beach spots. All of them are among favorites for locals and visitors alike, and include (north to south): Manasota Beach Park, Blind Pass Beach Park, Englewood Beach, and Stump Pass State Park.

Large and small shark teeth are a common find on the beach. The lightly worn edges of the shark teeth found on the beach is common, this wear is from the rolling wave action. All shark teeth are a treasure.

There is no fee or toll to enter Manasota Key on the north bridge or the south bridge that crosses Lemon Bay.

  • Manasota Key Beach, located at the north end of Manasota Key, offers easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and Lemon Bay (bay side), has free parking (6 a.m. – midnight), is not usually over-crowded and like so many Florida Gulf beaches, offers that perfect orange-sky sunset. The facility building offers changing rooms and restrooms, multiple beach access points to the ocean, squeaky-clean sand, there are often lots of sharks teeth and even more tranquility here.
  • Blind Pass Beach, also known as Middle Beach, offers access to the Gulf and to Lemon Bay, more than ½ mile of beach frontage, a hiking trail through the mangrove forest on the bayside, and a fishing dock.

    A good day on the shark tooth treasure hunt! 

    We have never found less than 50 shark teeth here during a day at this beach. Great spot, relaxing, quiet, wonderful. Changing and restroom facility here too, free parking (6 a.m. – midnight).

  • Englewood Beach, with Chadwick Park, is a favorite for residents and visitors, clear water and frequent blue skies bring kids of all ages here to go shelling and shark tooth hunting for hours on end. Life is all about “beach therapy” when visiting Florida. If you are thirsty, there is a little Volkswagen Bus business stand near the changing facility that offers tasty smoothies – they’re delicious! If you need food, walk across the street and choose from several walk-in restaurants. Eat, drink, and go back to the beach. Parking at Englewood is by parking pay stations (very reasonable/hr), open 6 a.m. – 9 p.m., they accept credit cards. There is a large changing and restroom facility here.
  • Stump Pass Beach State Park, our personal favorite shark tooth place. Open 8 a.m. – sundown, it’s located at the southernmost end of Manasota Key where visitors will find one mile of Gulf beach where seashells and shark teeth are wash ashore.

    If you had trouble finding shark teeth, there is one easy cure.  Try one of these Shark art kits, they include the shark teeth, artboard, and directions, are inexpensive, and make an awesome gift. Visit https://www.ebay.com/str/sharkteethandsharkartbyclark.

    Anglers can fish the surf too and there are lots of shark teeth here for everyone. It’s not a bad idea to arrive early and get one of the 60 or so parking spots. Cost is $3 for the day, bring the exact change, the park rangers are not allowed to make change. At least there is a fair system in place to wait for a spot to open. They have two lines, one to exit and one to wait for a spot to open up. We have never waited more than 20 minutes. The really good part about this beach is that the water is very close to the parking lot. Visitors come to this secluded beach to enjoy the year-round swimming and sun-soaking. Shelling and finding shark teeth in the wave wash is excellent during the winter months. A hiking trail with Lemon bay on one side and the Gulf on the other passes through five distinct natural eco-communities that provide a home for many species of wildlife; covered picnic tables are located along the trail. Visitors can launch a kayak and paddle around the two islands just east of the park land base. While at the park, watch dolphins, manatees, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, terns, and many species of sea birds. Ranger-led nature hikes are on the calendar during winter months. There are stand-up paddleboard and kayak rentals, lessons, and guided boat tours here too.

At all of these beaches, the intra-coastal waterway side of the parks offers a diverse network of mangroves, marsh grass, many species of birds (more than 150), many species of fish (more than 200). It’s perfect for fishing, kayaking, birding, and wading. The Gulf-side of the parks offers sand, surf, sunshine, seashells, and lots of shark teeth.

Family Entertainment, Visit the Great Branson Indoors and Outdoors

  • Endless adventure with hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, bass and trout fishing, hunting, trap and skeet shooting, spelunking, rock climbing and more.
  • Visit public parks, resorts, campgrounds, forests or one of Branson’s three crystal clear lakes.
  • Water ski, boat or go bass fishing at Table Rock Lake, or kayak and trout fish on Lake Taneycomo

By Larry Whiteley

It’s time to start getting back to normal and plan a weekend getaway, or a week-long vacation that offers something for everyone in the family. The place to do all that is located right in the heart of America in Branson, Missouri.

There may be no better place in America to experience family entertainment and all the great outdoors has to offer in one place, than in the beautiful Missouri/Arkansas Ozarks with its forested hills, pristine lakes and clear-flowing streams. Plus, it’s only a short flight or within a day or two drive from two-thirds of the United States.

Lake activities are a great way to enjoy Branson. Water sports are available on each of Branson’s great lakes. Guests can swim, water ski, wakeboard, tube, boat, sail, scuba dive, Jet-ski, parasail, ride a hydro-bike, paddle-board, kayak, canoe and fish.

There are more species of fish to catch in Branson than almost anywhere else in America. Choose from rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Kentucky bass, striped bass, white bass, rock bass, catfish, crappie, walleye, yellow perch, four species of sunfish and even the historic paddlefish. Unfamiliar with fishing in Branson? Book a guided fishing trip through one of the many guide services on any lake. Want to get some physical activity in? Branson has more than 200 miles of miles of hiking trails, with varying lengths, offering natural views of water, woods and wildlife.

Table Rock Lake has nearly 800 miles of shoreline and is one of Missouri’s top fishing destinations. Marina’s offer boat and equipment rentals, or bring your own, as there are multiple public and privately-owned locations to access the lake. Want to relax on the lake? Enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise and show aboard the Showboat Branson Belle or take a cruise on the Spirit of America catamaran.

Lake Taneycomo’s water comes from the bottom of Table Rock Lake, making it a cold-water lake perfect for trout fishing. The pristine, clear, water is stocked annually with approximately 750,000 rainbow trout, making it a world-class trout fishery. The state record brown trout came from these waters and many believe the next world record is swimming around right now in Taneycomo’s waters. This lake is also perfect for kayaking and there are plenty of resorts and other lodging along its banks.

Branson also offers plenty of family-oriented RV Parks and Campgrounds near and around the lakes. Spend quality time together with the comforts of a full-service RV site or unplug and reconnect with the family at a campground near one of the beautiful lakes. Prefer something more upscale? Stay in a log cabin, resort, lodge or hotel – the options are unlimited.

Looking for more outdoor adventure? Try trap or skeet shooting, visit a cave or enjoy the high-tech sport of geocaching. Ride a zipline through the hills and valleys at Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park or at Branson Ziplines at Wolfe Creek Reserve.

In addition to all the outdoor opportunities in the Branson area, visitors can enjoy Silver Dollar City theme park, nature parks, waterparks, museums and aquariums in the area. Have a great meal at one of the many restaurants or take in a dinner show. Play a round of golf at one of our 10 world-class golf courses, or have fun at one of the many miniature golf courses.

Branson is one of the leading entertainment cities in America. With over 100 shows playing throughout the year there are more seats than Broadway in Branson. It is a truly remarkable city with so much to offer. There is always something to fill your days with lots of fun-packed activities. Or, just come to relax and recharge your body and soul away from home. Go to www.explorebranson.com and check it all out.

Come for all the experiences in the great outdoors. Come for the all the entertainment. Go back home with lots of memories from Branson, Mo.

 

Coming Home to Fletcher Lake Lodge…OPEN after June 21st

  • Loons, Lynx, Trophy Fish…Unforgettable Fun at Fletcher Lake Lodge, Canada
  • Arrive by air (bush plane) from Kenora, Ontario…exciting and fun!
  • Visitors find hugs, smiles, peace, quiet…and great food

By Larry Whiteley

Between fishing for and catching trophy walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and musky, there are sightings of moose, bear, lynx, bald eagles, fantastic scenery, sunsets and sunrises, and the love sounds of the many loons. Not to mention sitting around a campfire. It’s unforgettable fun.

Jeanne MacLean has owned and operated Fletcher Lake Lodge in Northwestern Ontario for 39 years. During all those years she has always looked forward to welcoming guests that return year after year. It is like going back home for them. They have become like family to Jeanne and her staff.

Her “family” and first-time visitors all arrive by Canadian bush planes out of Kenora, Ontario. When “family” arrive there are lots of hugs, smiles and laughter. When “first timers” step off the plane onto the dock and look around, big smiles appear and you hear them saying things like “WOW, this is awesome!” or “Oh my gosh, this is perfect!” And, that is before they have even been on the water catching trophy smallmouth, walleye, northern pike and muskie.

The “first-timers” soon realize what Jeanne’s “family” already know: This special lodge on this special lake and the memories they will make will remain in their hearts and minds forever. They are now “family” too.

Don’t take my word for it though. Here are what some of Jeanne’s guests have to say –

“Jeanne, thanks again to you and your staff for my 15th consecutive, knockout fishing trip with you at Fletcher Lake. Of course, the fishing was fantastic. I must tell you that the facilities, staff, food and lodge are frosting on the cake. I can hardly wait to come back 15 more times.” – Paul

“For the past 35 years, three generations of our family have come to Fletcher Lake Lodge. During these trips, the ladies of the family have enjoyed their experience as much as the men and can’t wait to come back again. The walleye, northern pike and smallmouth fishing has continued to improve with each trip and our family always catch trophy fish in each species every year. Jeanne and her staff provide a warm family welcome. We can’t wait to keep coming back. – Nancy

“Fletcher Lake Lodge is an outdoor paradise, made even better by Jeanne and her staff. They are hands down the best hosts anyone could ask for. You really feel like you are part of the family when you stay here. – Abby

“I just wanted to thank you again for the top notch fishing trip. Will definitely be spreading the good word about Fletcher Lake Lodge and the fantastic people who make it a family like atmosphere. See you next trip.” – Jason

Fletcher Lake Lodge was established in the mid 1960’s and is the only lodge on the lake. Jeanne purchased it in 1982. In 1995 they implemented a conservation fishing practice in order to ensure a healthy fishery for many years to come. Five years later Jeanne teamed up with the Ontario Government to create a unique Trophy Waters program that has dramatically increased both the quality and the quantity of fish in Fletcher Lake. It has set this area of Canada apart from many other regions in regards to trophy fish being caught, documented, pictures taken just in case they want a replica mount made and the fish are then released back into the water to be caught again another day.

Guests have a choice of a full service, fly-in American plan or a housekeeping package. The lodge is nestled into a bay with a sand beach and great fishing right from the dock.

During the 2019 fishing season guests caught over 261 trophy walleye, northern and smallmouth along with many eaters and that doesn’t include all the other fish that were released. There are also two portage lakes north of Fletcher Lake that provide fantastic muskie and perch fishing. You can eat fish everyday, if you want, or enjoy all the other delicious home-cooked meals too.

Even though a high percentage of guests are “family” and return every year, there is room for “first-timer’s”. Go to https://www.fletcherlake.com/ and check it all out. Then call Jeanne at her office in Minnesota at (218) 386-1538 or at the lodge (807) 224-3400 and tell her you want to come home.

                                           SPECIAL NOTE

As I write this, the Canadian border and Canadian provinces remain closed because of COVID-19, but Fletcher Lake Lodge “family” and “first timers” will be able to return on June 21st, 2020.

The lodge will be open into September and there are a few openings for “first timers” throughout the summer if you would like to be one of them. Right now, Jeanne is busy taking care of her “family” and letting them know that there is a new beginning in sight with regard to COVID-19 rules.

EDITOR NOTE: All photographs are courtesy of Fletcher Lake Lodge

 

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.

 

 

New York is Open for Hunting, Spring Turkey Season Starts May 1

Joe Forma Photo

  • Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend is April 25-26
  • Regular NYS Turkey Season opens May 1
  • Hunters Should Always Follow Safety Tips to Prevent Injuries and Limit Spread of COVID-19

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that spring turkey season opens May 1 in all of Upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. In addition, DEC’s annual youth turkey hunting weekend will take place on April 25-26. The youth turkey hunt for junior hunters aged 12 to 15 is open in all of Upstate New York and Suffolk County.

The big gobbler “tom” struts in. Photo by Joe Forma

“Many New Yorkers are eager to spend time outdoors and turkey hunting is one great way to reconnect to nature,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Whether participating in the upcoming youth hunt with your children or heading out on your own in pursuit of a wary gobbler, be sure to hunt safe and hunt smart by following the important guidelines in place both to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to support hunting safety.”

Turkey hunters took about 17,000 birds in New York during the 2019 spring season. Spring harvest success is often tied to productivity two years prior, as hunters like to focus on adult gobblers (i.e., two-year-old birds). While the cold, wet start to the 2019 breeding season meant low reproductive success and poor recruitment in many areas, conditions were better in summer 2018. The population gains made in 2018, combined with good overwinter survival because of abundant food in the fall and relatively mild winter conditions this year, may offset 2019’s poor reproductive success.

Important Details for the Youth Turkey Hunt on April 25 and 26

  • Hunters 12-15 years of age are eligible and must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit;
  • Youth 12-13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youth 14-15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian;
  • The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm, bow, or crossbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt;
  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day;
  • The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary and in Suffolk County;
  • The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular spring season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken only in Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, beginning May 1;
  • Crossbows may only be used by hunters age 14 or older. In Suffolk and Westchester counties it is illegal to use a crossbow to hunt wild turkeys; and
  • All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

Other Important Details for the Spring Turkey Season, May 1-31, 2020:

  • Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island;
  • Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their hunting license;
  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day;
  • Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day;
  • Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow or crossbow (except crossbows may not be used in Westchester County);
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested;
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at DEC’s Game Harvest Reporting website; and

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2019-20 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the “Turkey Hunting” pages of DEC’s website.

Hunt Safe, Hunt Smart!

While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made each year. Every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and DEC encourages hunters to use common sense this season and remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunter Education Course:

  • Point your gun in a safe direction;
  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded;
  • Be sure of your target and beyond;
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; and
  • Stalking stinks! Set-up with your back against a tree or other object wider than your shoulders and call birds to you.

DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink when moving between hunting spots to make themselves more visible to other hunters. A blaze orange or blaze pink vest or other material can be hung in a nearby tree when you are set-up and calling birds so other hunters are alerted to your presence.

A hunter education class is required for all new hunters. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, hunter education courses have been cancelled through April 30. To find a hunter education class in your area, visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program website or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

“Hunting Safe” now means following social distancing /other guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Purchase licenses and/or turkey permits online to avoid visiting busy stores or because stores may be closed or have limited hours. Licenses and tags purchased online take 10-14 days to arrive, so online purchases for the youth turkey hunt should be made by April 10, and for the regular season by April 16;
  • Hunt close to home. Opt for day trips instead of staying at a hunting camp to avoid close contact with other hunters;
  • Avoid crowds at parking areas and other locations where people congregate. Keep a distance of six feet or more from others;
  • Avoid high-traffic destinations. If a hunting location is crowded, choose a different spot or time to visit. For alternative hunting locations visit DEC’s website.
  • Hunt alone. If hunting with someone not from your household, whether an adult or youth, practice social distancing, take separate vehicles to the hunting location, and make sure to maintain at least six feet of distance. Only share a hunting blind with someone from your household;
  • Carry hand sanitizer and avoid touching your face and wash mouth calls after handling; and
  • If hunters do not feel well, they should stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their trip.
  • For more information about getting outdoors and #RecreateLocal, go to DEC’s Website.

Buy Sporting Licenses Online

DEC is encouraging hunters, trappers, and anglers to purchase sporting licenses online to help further limit the community spread of COVID-19. Sporting licenses may be purchased online at any time, and anglers may use their privileges immediately by simply carrying their transaction number (DEC-LS#) with them while afield. Anglers, hunters, and trappers may also use the HuntFishNY mobile app to display an electronic copy of their license. The HuntFishNY app is available for download through the Apple App or Google Play stores. Back tags and carcass tags must still be mailed, and customers should allow 10-14 days for receipt of their tags. Please visit our website for more information about sporting licenses.

Citizen Science Opportunity: DEC Seeks Turkey Hunters for Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey

Turkey hunters can record the number of ruffed grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go to DEC’s website or call (518) 402-8883. To participate in DEC’s Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys, visit the “Citizen Science” page of DEC’s website.

Great Fishing from Shore or Boat! New Rule Changes, NYS Charter Guides On Hold

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for April 1, 2020, from Destination Niagara USA

We hope everyone is always staying safe out there and practicing social distancing!

Roy Letcher of Newfane with a brown trout caught off the Olcott pier this week.

April 1 is the traditional inland trout and salmon opener throughout New York State. This has very little impact on the Niagara Falls USA fishery because the waters of the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and its tributaries all fall under special Great Lakes regulations. Yes, you can fish all year for trout and salmon if you so desire!

As we turn the page into April, there are some new developments you should be aware of. First, it was announced this week that charter captains and guides have been deemed non-essential. They will have to wait until this horrible pandemic subsides before they can operate again.

Paul Vaicunas caught this lower Niagara River steelhead last week fishing with Capt. Ryan O’Neill with Buffalo Wingz Waterfowl.

April 1 also kicks in some new fishing regulations for Lake Ontario and the tributaries. For Lake Ontario, the daily limit for steelhead drops from 3 to 2 as part of your fish totals per person. In the tributaries, the daily limit for brown trout drops from 3 to 1 fish per person. Steelhead will remain at 1 fish per person, but the minimum size for that 1 fish (should you decide to keep one), must be at least 25 inches long now. The Niagara River is currently exempt from all these new regulations for the time being.

As far as some other fishing facts, the Town of Newfane Marina will not open for the time being. However, the launch ramp will remain open. In addition, the gas pumps are being converted to pay-at-the-pump and that project should be completed by next week.

Jojo Wilczewski of Amherst with a chunky Lake Ontario brown trout from this week.

Roy Letcher of Newfane reports that the pier action has been good in Wilson and Olcott. Cast Little Cleo spoons and stickbaits for primarily brown trout. You can also drift a float with an egg sac or a minnow to pick up a fish or two. Bullhead are also being caught in Wilson, Olcott and Golden Hill but the water was muddy in some areas. When you can get on the lake for some trolling action, some brown trout are being caught with regularity using stickbaits along the shoreline inside of 20 feet. Some salmon are also being reported by trollers from the Niagara Bar to 30-mile Point. The rain we experienced last weekend gave the creeks a good shot of water flow and some are muddy for right now. It should improve quickly with mild weather in the forecast. All the launch ramps are open in the state parks here, as well as the town launch in Wilson. Streams are still holding trout, but they are on the way out. Suckers and bass are moving in.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a big lower Niagara River steelhead from last week.

Niagara River fishing has been good to very good. It will take a few days for the action to return after the severe storms blew through over the weekend. From shore, casting spoons, jigs or spinners will work. Drifting egg sacs or egg imitations will also produce a trout or two.

Remember social distancing.

If someone is fishing a spot, say in the lower Niagara River from shore, pay attention to how they are fishing the area, too.

In the upper Niagara River, Blake Kowaski of Tonawanda was catching some decent yellow perch.

If the river current takes their lure downriver and they are working the shoreline back up, make sure you are giving adequate distancing from that individual for more than just the virus. It will be more than 6 feet. In fact, ask them if it’s okay.

Common courtesy can go a long way toward a better angling experience for everyone.

Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle reported over the weekend that she will be opening her doors for customers, but using social distancing practices with one customer at a time at her Lewiston shop.

From a boat, Kwikfish and MagLips will work well when the water is stained, and you have a southwest wind to help.

Egg sacs and minnows will both work again as the waters start to clear and they are forecasting some decent weather at the end of the week.

Lake trout are on the Niagara Bar.

Stay safe out there!

Chris Taylor of Grand Island with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught fishing with Capt. Ryan O’Neill of Orchard Park.

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
 

Steelhead, Steelhead, Steelhead…and Browns and Lakers and Bullheads, OH MY!

Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston with a big Lower Niagara River brown trout from last week.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for March 18, 2020 from Destination Niagara USA

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a “chromer,” a steelhead, caught on a spinner in the lower Niagara River.

Fishing the waters in Niagara Falls USA has been one of the few constants in this time of uncertainty in the world.

Fishing in the lower Niagara River was on fire this week.  Double-digit catch days were the norm for boaters drifting a mix of minnows, egg sacs, and Pautske fire dye minnows.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown and Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reported banner days on the water this week, nearly all steelhead.

Nick Hudak of Pa. with a lower Niagara River steelhead from this week, fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown.

Three-way rigs bouncing the bottom was the way to go, especially upriver as far as Devil’s Hole.  If the winds are switching to the southwest, throw on a MagLip or Kwikfish.  Speaking of winds, there will be something severe blowing in on Friday that could mess things up again, including some heavy rains.

Shoreline casters are picking up some fish, too.  Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit some steelhead on spinners this week in the gorge. There is 4 to 5 feet of visibility being reported.

Some bullheads were hitting in Wilson and Olcott and Lake Ontario was hitting the magical 40-degree mark.

Trolling the shoreline for brown trout and other fish is an option, as is casting the piers with spoons, spinners or stickbaits.

The Wilson Conservation Club announced this week that they are cancelling their Bullhead Contest set for April 3-5 due to the coronavirus.  Not because of the fishing, but because of the weigh-in and afterparty.

There have been good numbers of steelhead and brown trout in some of the main streams like at 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam after last week’s rains.  Best baits have been egg sacs, wax worms and beads tipped with waxies or run clean, according to Ken Jackson of Sanborn.  Rain in the forecast will help the small to medium streams out for sure.

Nick Hudak of Pa. with a lower Niagara River steelhead from this week, fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown.

April 1 is the opening of the inland trout and salmon season.  Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek, and Oppenheim Park Pond will be stocking on April 8 starting at 10 a.m.  For other stockings call the hotline at 358-2050.

There are a few cancellations or postponements we should report on due to health concerns.  The next Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) meeting set for April 2nd in Amherst, complete with a new flea market option, has been canceled. The LOTSA folks have even cancelled public involvement with the pen rearing project installation on April 4th in Olcott. That said, LOTSA board members will be doing all the work to get the job done in preparation for receiving the salmon and trout.

The Niagara Musky Association announced last Friday that they will be postponing its popular Awards Banquet set for April 4 at the Pearl Street Grill in Buffalo. The group has also cancelled its April 7 monthly meeting that was scheduled at the Eldredge Club in Tonawanda.

The Antique Fishing Tackle Show set for April 4 in Lockport has also been cancelled for the time being. It may be rescheduled in the future.

We will do our best to keep everyone updated on events such as derbies and tournaments. And, of course, the fishing. Stay safe out there!

Mike Ziehm with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught this week from shore.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
f: 716-285-0809
www.niagarafallsusa.com

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Let’s Stay Aware, Use the Outdoors to help Control Corona Fear

There is something magical and relaxing to be found near the sea.

By Forrest Fisher

It helps. The beach, the sand, the lake, the trees, the birds, the fish, the deer, the sunset.

These are wonderful diversions.

As all folks are responsible when we need to be, corona-fear is legitimate. Visiting the beach with your close family can help. Controlled numbers of people, people you are with regularly, are good things to share. The air is fresh, beach attendance is relatively nill, there might be fish to catch and shark teeth to find. Good stuff.

Mind diversion can be a key resource option for many. Want to stay at home? Read a book. Find one with birds and fish and wildlife. So relaxing. Want to laugh? Pulldown an internet from Patrick McManus. He was my favorite American humor writer. He wrote such classics as, A fine and Pleasant Misery, The Grasshopper Trap, and many others. Gut-splitting laughter can be the only result. After one chapter, everything in your life will be better.

So yesterday afternoon, my visiting family and I did all the responsible things first, We washed up with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, then used a recommended disinfectant to wipe down all of our door handles, light switches, faucets, counter tops, the car, the fishing rods, beverage cans and everything else. We’re in Florida and like many other places around the country, there is a gentle semi-fear and ready-to-respond awareness of things to do and not do. All good.

Birds of all sorts are common along the Florida coastlines. Casperson Beach near Venice is popular with birds and shark tooth hunters.

Then as I swept my email arrivals, this one site from Trip Advisor seemed to sum it up perfectly in fewer words than anywhere else.

Trip Advisor CEO, Steve Kaufer shared the following: “As a site that millions around the world count on for travel guidance, Tripadvisor is closely monitoring the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on both travelers and the travel industry. We care deeply about your safety, whether you are at home or traveling. With this in mind, I would like to share some resources we’ve created and the actions we’re taking to help you make informed decisions about your own travel plans.

Helping you make travel decisions: As this situation rapidly evolves, we know there is an atmosphere of uncertainty as travelers wonder if they should change their plans. That’s why, starting today, Tripadvisor will feature alerts for destinations that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated as heavily impacted. We’ve also launched a new resource page to bring all the latest COVID-19 travel information from trusted sources together in one place.

Keeping you informed if you are traveling: As travel-related business owners continue to adapt as a result of COVID-19, they are making changes to their hours, making changes in service or even temporarily closing. We are making daily updates to the information on our site to keep travelers informed. We’re also doing what we can to help businesses in impacted regions, by providing them with tips and advice on how to weather this challenging time.

What you can do to stay healthy: Whether you’re at home or traveling, the WHO recommends practicing good hygiene to protect yourself against infection — by washing your hands frequently with soap or alcohol-based sanitizer, maintaining distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you become sick, please seek medical attention quickly.

For more information, anyone can visit the Tripadvisor resource page. You can also connect to other travelers and join discussions about COVID-19, and how it may affect your plans in Tripadvisor’s forums.”

After the beach last night, we arrived home, wiped down all the same things and we stayed aware. Then at dinner, we prayed. It helps us to share our strengths. The Creator is our biggest strength.

Please pass it on.

 

 

150 Venomous Snakes found in Private Home

  • Illegal Exotic Snake Breeding Den Identified in Orange County, New York
  • 157 Venomous Snakes removed
  • 29 species in all

Brown-spotted Pit Viper seized during the warrant. NYSDEC photo.

This year on Feb. 20, a Newburgh, NY man pled guilty to misdemeanor commercialization charges and agreed to pay a $500 fine related to the possession of more than 150 venomous snakes seized from his home.

On Jun. 2, 2019, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital contacted NYSDEC at Central Dispatch reporting a subject was bitten by a venomous snake. The subject received several doses of antivenom. Darren Paolini explained he was bitten by a Taiwanese Pit Viper (Ovophis Makazayazaya) at his residence where he was attempting to breed the snakes. He was bitten on the left hand and transported himself to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital for treatment,  then was transferred to Jacobi Medical in the Bronx.

At Jacoby Medical, Paolini made a voluntary statement to ECO Ryan Kelly that he gets the snakes from importers, breeds them, and then trades the baby snakes for new snakes. Paolini stated that he had approximately 50 Pit Vipers and two Coral Snakes at his residence.

Pygmy Rattlesnake seized during the warrant. NYSDEC photo.

On Jun. 3, 2019, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI) Investigator Jeff Conway obtained a search warrant for Paolini’s residence. The warrant was executed the following day with support from staff from the Bronx Zoo, who assisted with handling, transporting, and housing the snakes.

In total, investigators seized 157 live venomous snakes and 31 dead venomous snakes, representing 29 distinct species. Several years of breeding records were also seized.

No matter where you travel, stay aware, watch where you walk.

Florida Catch & Release rules in place for Snook, Redfish and Spotted Seatrout (Red Tide/Fish Management)

Snook have been plentiful during 2020 fishing trips.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will extend catch-and-release measures for snook, red drum and spotted seatrout for an additional year via an Executive Order.

All three species will remain catch-and-release through May 31, 2021, in all waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County.

Snook fishing in Southwest Florida (Fort Myers, Lee County) has been very good in 2020, but anglers are required by recently revised Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation law to release all snook, redfish and spotted sea trout that they catch through May 2021.  Forrest Fisher Caption and Photo

These temporary regulation changes were made to help conserve these popular inshore species that were negatively impacted by a prolonged red tide that occurred in late 2017 through early 2019.

Learn more about regulations for these species by visiting MyFWC.com/Marine and clicking on “Recreational Regulations.”

View the Commission meeting presentation at MyFWC.com/Commission by clicking on “Commission Meetings” and the agenda under “February 19-20, 2020.”

 Red Tide Map_050119

 

Trophy 14-2 Bass makes Florida Hall of Fame in 8th Angler Recognition Season

  • Caught (and RELEASED) by Thomas Hendel, angler in Lake Placid, FL
  • Lake Placid is located in Central Florida, in Highlands County, it is a 3,400-acre lake on the south side of the town
  • The TrophyCatch program is a Florida Angler Recognition Program from a partnership between the FWC, anglers, and fishing industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops. Visit www.floridagofishing.com for details.

By Forrest Fisher

Weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces, Thomas Hendel caught and released this beautiful bass in Lake Placid, in south-Central Florida, on January 31.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program, now in Season 8, commemorates its first Hall of Fame bass caught in the new season. Weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces, it was caught and released in Lake Placid on Jan. 31 by Thomas Hendel, also from Lake Placid.

“I was excited to learn I caught the first TrophyCatch Hall of Fame bass of the season and amazed at the size of my catch,” said Hendel. “This is the first bass I’ve submitted to TrophyCatch. I look forward to continuing my participation in this program for years to come.”

“Since its inception in 2012, TrophyCatch has approved over 9,000 photo submissions of largemouth bass exceeding 8 pounds that have been caught, documented and released into the waters of Florida,” said Jon Fury, FWC’s director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “There is no other program like this anywhere and it could not have been possible without Bass Pro Shops and all of our partners who are committed to the conservation of Florida’s trophy bass fishery for our more than 1.2 million freshwater anglers here in the Fishing Capital of the World. Together, we will continue to enhance and protect 3 million acres of lakes, and approximately 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams, and canals.”

Lake Placid, in Highlands County, is a 3,400-acre lake on the south side of the town of Lake Placid. Lake Placid offers great opportunities for those looking to catch a high number of fish, as well as the chance at a lunker. This unique lake has a variety of vegetation and quality habitat types, including deep flats, ledges, and humps not typical of most Florida lakes.

TrophyCatch is a partnership between the FWC, anglers and fishing industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, that rewards the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos showing the entire fish and its weight on a scale to TrophyCatch.com before releasing it back into the water. FWC biologists use TrophyCatch’s citizen-science data for bass research, to make informed decisions about the management of Florida’s bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass.

For more information about the TrophyCatch program, visit https://www.floridagofishing.com/fishing-angler-recognition-programs.html or email Laura.Rambo@MyFWC.com.

 

Lower Niagara River Winter Fishing, Rod-Bending FUN!

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 – Provided from Destination Niagara USA

Aaron Scholl of Cleveland, NY with a Niagara River steelhead he caught fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane.

The fishing action in the Niagara River is finally turning back around again with the favorable weather conditions this week. Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston caught 4 trout in 2 hours of fishing on Tuesday, despite marginal conditions due to the stained water.  When it switches over, action should be good from both boat and shore.

Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston with a lower Niagara River steelhead.

Capt. John Oravec of Troutman with a nice lower river brown trout.

Capt. John Oravec with Troutman reported that he had action all day last Thursday and Friday.  His Thursday the action was on 29-inch to 34-inch lake trout.  Oravec did well on the Niagara Bar in 27-feet with live bait fished off three-way rigs.  Friday it was brown trout and steelhead in the river.  He also caught a big 12-1/2-pound brown on Friday with an emerald shiner.

The weekend winds messed things up again.

Jon Forder of Albion with a lower river steelhead he caught while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni with Thrillseeker.

From the shore in the gorge area, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was hitting some nice steelhead using No. 4 spinners.  Joel Juhasz of Lancaster is the leader in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Winter Contest for the Steelhead Division with a 31.5-inch lower river fish caught on a pink egg sac.  In the upper Niagara River, lake trout and walleye were cooperating for anglers using jigs or live bait.

Greg Schloerb of Amherst caught this brown trout from a favorite Lake Ontario tributary over the weekend. He was using a jig tipped with a wax worm.

California Joe Pavalonis of Buffalo is once again atop the leaderboard in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Winter Contest with a 17-3/4 inch upper river rudd taken on a crappie jig.  He also caught a northern pike that is the leader in that fish species category while fishing for rudd, a 31-.5-inch fish from the upper river on a crappie jig.

Denis Kreze of Fort Erie, Ontario has been catching some walleye in the upper Niagara River.

In the Lake Ontario tributaries, conditions have been a bit rough according to Greg Schloerb of Amherst. Water was high and stained this past weekend. Fishing has been slow but there are fish available. He did manage to catch both browns and steelhead using jigs tipped with wax worms, catching all his fish this past weekend.

Meanwhile, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters found a few steelhead in small tributaries on Monday. Conditions were good in the smaller streams. High water has been dropping and clearing after this most recent melt off. Feltrinelli’s fish took a large brown and orange streamer fly. Many medium creeks were also fishing well. Bigger creeks should be clearing and fishing decent should be available over the next few days.  For your calendar, mark the Birds on the Niagara Festival for Feb. 14-15. Check out the schedule at www.birdsontheniagara.org.

Also, the Niagara River Anglers will hold their steelhead contest on Feb. 22.  Sign up at the Lewiston launch ramp the morning of the event (sunrise to 2 p.m.) or at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston.

Bill Hilts, Jr.- Outdoor Promotions Director
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Destination Niagara USA; 10 Rainbow Blvd.; Niagara Falls, NY 14303

HEAD NORTH YOUNG MAN! Niagara River Fishing Action is GOOD, Smaller Tribs are Frozen-Up

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Jan. 22, 2020 from Destination Niagara USA

John Jarosz of Lakeview with a steelhead he caught in Devil’s Hole while fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea with Brookdog Fishing Company.

After another round of windstorms, it looks like things are going to take off again in the river in a good way.

There was plenty of fish around the last time the water was decent, especially in the lower Niagara River – steelhead and walleye, with an occasional lake trout and brown trout. Egg sacs in pink or chartreuse, Kwikfish or MagLips for plugs, minnows for live bait – all fished off 3-way rigs.

Shore casters should be starting to pick up steelies with spinners, jigs, flies, and sacs. The water along the shoreline should offer anglers clearer opportunities a bit quicker.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a nice steelhead he caught in the lower Niagara River while fishing from shore with a spinner.

With favorable weather Thursday and Friday, that will be your best bet until the weekend. Next week looks pretty good, too.

Upper river options should also include some trout including lake trout, and walleyes.

Richard Pisa of Tonawanda with a lower Niagara River steelhead caught last week.

The Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on Saturday, Feb. 22. This date has been moved from its traditional time slot, set for the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario tributaries starting at sunrise. Cost is $20 for the contest plus an option $5 for the best brown trout. In addition, you must be a member of the NRAA. Membership cost is $20, a $5 savings from the normal membership cost.

In the tributaries of Lake Ontario, the conditions right now offer medium flows and about 2 feet of visibility.  There are reports of steelhead hookups, a few each outing by good drifters or swingers.  Some hens are already showing loose eggs.

Smaller tributaries are challenging with the cold weather. Things are slushing and icing up.  The next forecasted warmup will only give us more of the same with conditions and fish.

Roy Letcher of Newfane reports that 18 Mile Creek is running well right now with a fair number of trout. Everything else is mainly frozen.

Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that many of the smaller streams are frozen-up right now.

We have some warmer weather coming to us bt the end of the week and that could open some areas. Later in the day, it might be better.

Jajean Rose with the WNY Land Conservancy caught his first steelhead in the lower Niagara River last week fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea of Brookdog Fishing Company.

Bill Hilts, Jr.- Outdoor Promotions Director
Inline image 2
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

One Cozy Camping Destination for your 2020 Vacation List

  • Camping, RVs and Outdoor Recreation in Branson, Missouri
  • Fishing, Hiking, Swimming, Boating
  • Peace, Quiet, the Smell of a Campfire & Sweet, Scrumptious S’Mores

By Larry Whiteley

Enjoy the great outdoors on a camping trip to Branson in 2020. From campsites to hiking trails, find out everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable family excursion. Fresh air, a cozy campfire, the sweet taste of s’mores — there’s no better way to enjoy a weekend getaway than camping in Branson. Add to those attributes, the beautiful natural surroundings of the Ozarks and you’ve got yourself one awesome outdoor adventure.

Photo Credit: The Generator Judge

One of Branson’s most popular camping destinations is Table Rock Lake, which features two campgrounds – Viney Creek Recreation Area and Table Rock Lake Campground. Trails around Table Rock State Park provide a great environment to explore the outdoors. Trails of varying lengths are open to hiking and biking, while the popular Table Rock Lake is one of Missouri’s top fishing destinations. The marina also has plenty of options for boat and equipment rentals and nearly 800 miles of shoreline to enjoy.

Or, pack up and plan a getaway any time of the year in one of Branson’s family-oriented RV Parks and Campgrounds. Enjoy the convenience of Wi-Fi at most facilities, plus pack up the pets as most are pet-friendly too. Several are Good Sam award-winners and are often featured in Trailer Life magazine. Branson is the place to spend quality time together with the comforts of a full-service 20/30/50-amp RV site or to unplug and reconnect with your family near one of our beautiful lakes.

Of course, there’s more to camping than just pitching a tent and stoking the fire. A great camping trip includes exploring hiking trails, a little fishing and did we already mention s’mores?

The Branson/Lakes Area features more than 200 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Also, the high-tech sport of geocaching is alive and well in the Ozarks, with dozens of caches hidden throughout the terrain.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park provides the perfect setting for many activities including fishing, hiking, biking or taking a historical tram tour. Covering 10,000 acres of pristine Ozark Mountain landscape, the park has miles of crystal-clear trout streams, cascading waterfalls, ancient burial caves, unique hand-built bridges, and bottomless, blue-green pools.

The Branson Zipline Canopy Tours at Wolfe Creek Preserve offers authentic eco-adventures in the Ozark Mountains. The thrilling options include a variety of guided canopy tours with treks across numerous zip lines, sky bridges, and platforms.

The Shepherd of the Hills Vigilante ZipRider is an exciting thrill ride launching from the open-air deck of the 230-foot Inspiration Tower.  This ride whisks guests on an adrenaline-pumping downhill adventure over The Shepherd of the Hills’ 160-acre homestead. Coasting along at speeds of up to 50 mph, it’s a ride that you’ll remember for years to come.

The Branson/Lakes Area has three pristine lakes – Table Rock, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals, with hundreds of miles of natural shoreline. The lakes’ waters never freeze, welcoming activities year-round. Water sports enthusiasts can swim, water ski, wakeboard, tube, boat, sail, scuba dive, Jet Ski, parasail, kayak, and fish.

Kayaking, hydro-biking and stand-up paddleboarding are amazing ways to get out on the water. Options can be found with Kayak Branson, White River Kayaking, 38 Paddle Co. and Main Street Marina on Lake Taneycomo.

Table Rock Lake is accessible from multiple public and privately-owned locations just minutes west of Branson. Many enjoy this lake through a variety of activity options including boat rentals, wave runner rentals, the Spirit of America catamaran cruise for up to 50 people, as well as lunch and dinner cruises aboard the Showboat Branson Belle.

Lake Taneycomo’s water comes from the bottom of Table Rock Lake, making it a cold-water lake. The pristine, clear water, is stocked annually with approximately 750,000 rainbow trout, making it a world-class trout fishery. This lake is also perfect for kayaking.

Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip or headed for the Ozarks, Branson and its surrounding area are the perfect place to park your tent or RV. Enjoy the waterfront beauty and water activities at Bull Shoals Lake and Table Rock Lake. Or stay in the quiet woodlands of nearby state parks. With 50-amp service and campfire rings, along with the proximity of so many great shows and attractions, it’s little wonder Branson is one of America’s favorite camping destinations.

Come for the outdoor experience and go back home with lots of great memories

Outdoor Activitieshttps://www.explorebranson.com/outdoors

Photoshttps://www.flickr.com/photos/bransonmo/collections/72157634981412239/  

Fishing Regulationshttps://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/, https://www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/

Media Contacts:       Larry Whiteley                                                   Courtney Goff

                                    Outdoor Ambassador                                       Media Relations Manager

                                    Branson CVB                                                      Branson CVB

                          lwhiteley2@basspro.com                           cgoff@bransoncvb.com

                                    417-830-9023                                                     417-243-2127

NO Truck BRAKES…on the Boat Launch!

  • Saved by a Smartphone App
  • Add $14 for Trailer Tow Care
  • Sleep better at night

By Mike Schoonveld

Launching a boat from a trailer isn’t supposed to be an exciting task. Getting in the boat, heading out to the lake, catching some fish, now that’s fun and exciting. But just backing down the ramp and floating ol’ Wave-Whacker off the bunks is a rather mundane chore.

Unless the brakes on the tow vehicle decide it’s time to malfunction! All of a sudden the slow descent down the ramp, the boat floating free, and the rest of the procedure turns into a power launch. That’s what happened to me recently.

I suppose I was lucky. A few minutes earlier, I was speeding down a busy highway filled with other cars and trucks. Had the brakes failed then, I would have been in a bigger pickle than just shooting my boat off the trailer. When the boat floated free, the last ounce of brake fluid left in the system actuated just enough pressure to slow and stop the truck. I didn’t want to power-launch the tow vehicle!

So now what? The boat was floating nicely. The truck and trailer were safe in the parking lot. There was a little puddle of brake fluid dripping from the ruptured brake line, and I was 50 miles from home. What would you do in this situation?

Here’s what I did.

I pulled out my cell phone, scrolled through the apps showing on the screen until I found the icon with the BoatUS logo. I clicked on it. In a few seconds, I was connected with a person who was ready and able to help. I told her the problem, provided the marina name and location, and I told her there was no hurry. I’d traveled to the lake to go fishing, the boat was floating, my fishing partners were due any minute and the truck wouldn’t be any more broken in early afternoon than it was right now at dawn.

As the information was relayed back and forth, she went to work. Fifteen minutes later, my phone rang and Terry, from a local towing company, was on the line.

“I’m sure this is a bit strange,” I told him. “I imagine most of the time when you get a call it’s because someone needs your help and needs it as soon as possible.” I explained what happened and then asked, “Can you meet me at the marina at 1 PM?”

The meeting scheduled, all I had to do was concentrate on picking the best place to fish and the best lures to use. We had a great fishing trip, and I was back at the dock in plenty of time to meet up with Terry and the tow truck.

I’d already moved the truck and trailer to a deserted spot in the parking lot and disconnected the trailer. When Terry arrived, we quickly hooked up the trailer to his flat-bed and he backed my boat trailer down the ramp. Soon the boat was loaded, the gear stowed, and the boat and trailer were road-ready.

We then disconnected the boat and trailer, winched the truck up onto the flatbed and chained it secure. Then we reattached the boat and trailer, and I was on my way home.

I’d called the garage where I take most of my vehicles with mechanical issues and made an appointment. So we dropped the boat off at my house, and then hauled the broken-brake truck to the mechanic.

Once done, I asked Terry what the procedure was to pay him. “All taken care of,” he said. “The boat place paid me with a credit card.”

“Just curious,” I asked. “What’s the bill?”

“Hook-up fee, mileage, truck and trailer at five bucks per mile, comes to $600,” Terry said.

I buy a BoatUS membership each year for the same reason I belong to the National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and other groups. I believe in their mission.

I add $14 to my annual dues check to get the “Trailer Assist” option from BoatUS (the smartphone app is free). I trailer my boat thousands of miles each year and there is a myriad of things that could go wrong. Tires, wheel bearings or blown brake lines on the tow vehicle. Is it worth it? You do the math.

It’ll make a great gift at any time of year for someone you might know that trailers their boat. Go to BoatUS.com for details.

 

 

Captain Ryan Lee Kane, one-of-a-kind “Fishing Master of the Sea”

  • Gulf of Mexico fishing for giant powerful saltwater fish, and Red Snapper too
  • Cruise at 70 mph, listen to your favorite tunes, enjoy a cold beverage…unforgettable fun
  • Fish, Swim, Winter Fun – 100 miles offshore, if you like

CLICK picture for a video of an incredible fish trip to the Gulf of Mexico near Sanibel, Florida. Courtesy of  Dan James Rod Company

By Forrest Fisher

If you’re looking for fishing fun, there is just one place to look when you visit South Florida. At Sanibel Marina, you will meet one of the best charter captains that ever took up the art of sharing time on the water with clients. His name is Captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct Charters, an ordinary genius on the water, who fishes with the most sensitive and most durable Dan James fishing rods.

The 42-foot Prowler can travel quickly and provide a smooth ride, even in rough seas.

His clients enjoy a smooth ride with stereo tunes of their choice as Captain Kane tools along in his 42-foot long Prowler, a comfortable signature boat, aptly equipped with four 350 Hp Mercury Verado engines. The result is 70+ mph boat speed that provides for a very short ride to the fishing grounds after leaving the harbor. In many cases, it is near zero-time to arrive at the best fishing spot. If you plan to fish deep, 100 miles out or so, then enjoy the ride and get there in a little over an hour. Exhilarating and quite amazing!

Along the way to a secret fishing spot, we stopped to observe migrating birds near a sanctuary island. Amazing sights!

Captain Kane likes to fish offshore. Kane often shares his fishing secrets with those aboard, but also says ”There are so many moments that just don’t translate into pictures or words. Sometimes you have to go to a place where you don’t belong, far beyond comfort and practicality to find fish. In that place, you see the magic of the world. I don’t feel like a charter captain on those days, just a pilot on a journey to find adventure.”

My better half and I fished with Captain Kane earlier this year, we totally get it.

Big fish, small fish, Captain Kane carries the rigs to catch whatever his clients want to catch.

Kane creates magic when he is on the water. He is a master-crafted fisherman that will share his time and talent to get you on fish, wherever they are. With his boat, it doesn’t matter where that is, he can get there – in a hurry. That makes him more than a wishful thinker, he is fully capable to catch fish every day, just tell him what you want at the end of your line. He can chum his way into a school of fish, troll, jig or achieve success with a hundred other tactics to put fish on the hook.

We drove 110 miles last time out, each way, to catch sharks. Dangerous fun. Unforgettable fun. We can’t wait to do it again.

Catch redfish, snook, tarpon, amberjack, wahoo, tuna, cobia, whatever your fish wish. Kane is our guy with the boat to make it happen. Winter is coming; the time to plan is right now. We’ve already made my reservation. Plan your trip.

We caught some sun, caught lots of fish, and we captured an unforgettable dream. We started the celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary with this special fish trip adventure.

We made a memory for all time.

Thank you Lord.

Help 4H Shooting Sports, Miltary Veterans and Your Shopping List!

  • Holiday Sportsman Show Kicks off Nov. 15
  • Fill your Holiday Gift List with a BIG Discount and Help 4H, Veterans, and others
  • If you own an outdoor business, check this out

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will all the beautiful shops in the Holiday Sportsman Show. Time is running out for brands that want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to participate in the 2019 Holiday Sportsman Show that will feature an interactive online shopping experience with outdoor show halls. From Nov. 15 through Dec. 31 visitors can tour the virtual halls 24-hours a day, where they will find exceptional outdoor products and gifts at remarkable prices for everyone on their list.

With over half a million consumers slated to receive a signed up for email with an instant click-in to the show, brands participating in this show will be racking up the fourth-quarter sales. The complete sale goes back to the brand, making it even a better business decision to get in the Holiday Sportsman Show before time runs out.

The web designing staff at the Holiday Sportsman Show is in full swing designing storefronts. Placing your brand in the show is easy. It is extremely important to get them started on your design – merely select the products you want to feature and they will use your website for information, images and everything they need. You will get final approval of all design work before things go live.

It is easy. It makes money. It supports good causes. What are you waiting for? Fill out this form CLICK HERE and return via email to maureen@vexposhows.com as soon as possible. Not only is time running out, but some categories are filling up.

The Online Holiday Sportsman Show is a property of Vexpo Marketing, based in Missouri. Vexpo Marketing develops digital products designed to serve outdoor activities and outdoor consumers, including businesses and organizations that provide goods and services for outdoor recreation. The Holiday Sportsman Show was created to provide a digital platform to provide cost-effective digital marketing for outdoor companies and enjoyable online content for buying consumers.

Alaska Trip? Start Planning Now – 4 Tips to Know

Visit Alaska – Make a Plan

Travelers from all over the world come to Alaska to see this stunning display and take advantage of other winter experiences like snowmobiling, dog mushing, skiing, festivals and sporting events. Alaska Tourism Photo

A love of landscape is not new in Alaska. In a place so beautiful, with the strong cultural values of Alaska Native peoples, reducing our impact on the environment is only natural. We know that sustainable travel – considering environmental, social, cultural, and business practices as part of the travel process – is important to Alaska, our communities, and our future.

And it’s easier than you might think to tread more lightly when you visit.

These four steps are a fantastic way to get started:

1. Pack A Little Lighter

No one likes to carry around heavy suitcases, and Alaskans are pretty laid back when it comes to fashion, so bring just what you need when you’re filling your suitcase. It’s easy if you plan to dress in layers, re-wear items, and remove packaging from anything new you bought for the trip. Less weight in your suitcase means less energy – human or mechanical – is needed to move stuff around, reducing your transportation carbon footprint.
Wondering what you need to bring? There’s a packing list in The Alaska Vacation Planner.

2. Buy Local Eat Local

Buying goods and services locally – including hiring local guides – not only cuts down on shipping and transportation costs, it helps support local families and communities. You’ll also get to know more about local people and cultures by connecting one-on-one with Alaska residents. Is there something you’ve always wanted to know about living in Alaska? Here’s your chance to ask!  And, by eating local foods, you’ll get to try wild Alaska salmon and halibut, locally grown (giant!) veggies, and regional favorites while supporting Alaska fishermen, farmers, and craft food and beverage-makers. While shopping, look for the Alaska Grown, Made in Alaska, and Silver Hand labels to signify Alaska-produced items. 

Many adventures await visitors to Alaska. Alaska Tourism Instagram Photo Collection

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Get a free Alaska Travel Guide. Click picture

The “3Rs” is a common theme for promoting sustainability and they make sense (Did you know nearly half of all plastic produced is only designed to be used once?).  Reduce your footprint by bringing an extra reusable shopping bag to carry your locally produced purchases and using your own refillable water bottle or coffee mug for daily use.  Plus, those water bottles and coffee mugs are great places to put travel decals and stickers from all the great places you’re going to visit! 

4. Choose Sustainably Certified Tourism Businesses

Look for TravelAlaska.com’s advertising partners with the Adventure Green Alaska (AGA) logo. The AGA program certifies tourism businesses operating in Alaska based on economic, environmental, and social sustainability standards. AGA monitors compliance, and certified businesses must renew every two years to maintain certification. They’re the green team!

Are you Fishing?

The biggest problem with fishing in Alaska is making decisions-saltwater or fresh, salmon, trout or halibut, guided or unguided, remote lodge or road system, spring or fall, summer or winter, Southeast or Interior, Alaska Peninsula or Aleutians-the list of options is nearly endless. However, whether you’re a die-hard fly fishing purist or a visitor who’d just like to catch a couple salmon to take home for friends and family, you can fulfill your fishing fantasies in Alaska.

Northern Lights Trip?

This Far North phenomenon turns an average winter, fall or spring night into a widescreen extravaganza like nothing else. When you see the lights for the first time, there are no words, no description, to match their magnificence. You can only watch in wonder. Such beauty is a rare and oft-admired thing.

Much More.

 

 

Destination: The Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan

  • Copper mines, beaches, rock finding, fishing, history tours and relaxation by nighttime starlight
  • My perfect place to UNWIND from my busy life
  • Cedar Point Cabins is nestled between the shore of Lake Bailey & Lake Superior

The Aspen Cabin would be our home in the wilderness for 5 days. Shirley Holzhei photo

By Bob Holzhei

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a 60-mile finger of land that has remained unchanged since the copper boom of the 1800s. This mineral-rich location offers some of the oldest exposed rock in the world and features 165 miles of outdoor recreation trails, 36 campgrounds, 51 miles of canoeing, 10 major shipwrecks, and 336 miles of scenic Lake Superior shoreline. This remote location demands discovery. It is historically preserved by the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

The Cedar Point Cabins are nestled between the shores of Lake Bailey and Lake Superior near Look Out Mountain on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan. The cabins are located two miles East of Eagle Harbor on M-26 and about 13 miles south of Copper Harbor.

Upon arrival, my wife and I were greeted by Paul Carlson who directed us to our cabin, it was named “Aspen.” Carlson took over the family business from his parents in 2011; some cabins were built in the 1940s and took us back to an earlier era. There are six cabins, four of which are open year-round. Two newer cabins were added in 2014. Reservations are recommended.

Aspen by name is a popular tree with heart-shaped leaves that “tremble even in a slight breeze.” As we drove to the Aspen cabin, my first impression was beautiful, peaceful, and remote. I realized that I needed places like that to rediscover myself and get away from the hectic pace of daily life.

Reading comments from former guests written in a notebook added to our wilderness experience. “Wonderful! Beautiful! We enjoyed a canoe trip to an island. What a beautiful place! We had the most perfect end to our winter get-away. A perfect stay!” stated guests. Lake Bailey is a wilderness lake, perfect for canoeing, kayaking, fishing for perch and pike, and wildlife viewing.

The Cedar Point Cabins are nestled between Lake Bailey and Lake Superior, on Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan. Shirley Holzhei photo

Visitors can choose from a variety of activities including tours at the Quincy Mine or Delaware Mine. Six years before the California Gold Rush in 1843, prospectors arrived at the Keweenaw and discovered copper. The Delaware copper mine dates back to 1847. A list of monthly annual events may create a “when should I visit” dilemma? With over 34 attractions including the famous Brockway Mountain drive, which climbs 735 feet above Lake Superior via a paved road. The mountain is named after Daniel Brockway, an early settler who built and opened a store in Copper Harbor. The drive was built in 1933 during the depression era when federal work programs brought relief to laid-off miners. At the top of the mountain, as close to heaven as one can get, the panoramic view allows visitors to see for miles while watching freighters pass by. At night, when the darkness is complete, star gazing and viewing the milky way is not only popular but on a clear night, the Aurora Borealis can provide an unforgettable experience.

Birding in the Boreal forests, woodlands, wetlands, and inland lakes is a year-round activity with 334 species of birds noted here. Blend in nine waterfalls, including Eagle River Falls, Haven, Jacob’s lower and upper falls, Manganese, Gorge and Montreal Falls. A complete listing of activities is found in the Keweenaw Adventure Guide.

Fort Wilkins State Park is an 1844 Army post complete with period buildings and interpreters, it creates an authentic feel for Army life on the frontier.

The Lake Superior shoreline is the largest body of freshwater in the world that surrounds the Keweenaw. A leisurely walk along the shoreline for mineral deposits including agate, Lake Superior quartz, or copper, was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a land of captivating scenery, rugged hills, waterfalls, lighthouses, beaches, and wildflowers, surrounded by Lake Superior.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.Cedarpointcabins.net Cedarpointcabin@gmail.com 906 289-4415 Keweenaw Convention & Visitor’s Bureau www.keweenaw.info 1 800 338-7982

Musky, Steelhead, Bear & CWD-FREE Deer – the SEASON IS RIGHT in Chautauqua County, NY

  • Big Game Early Archery Season Started Oct. 1, ends Nov. 15, 2019
  • Crossbow Season Opens Nov. 2, runs through Nov. 15
  • Firearm Season (Shotgun, Handgun, Rifle, Crossbow, Bow) Opens Nov. 16, ends Dec. 8
  • Muzzleloader & Late Archery Season Opens Dec. 9, ends Dec. 17

Sweet white oak acorns and beech nuts help to grow big healthy deer in Chautauqua County, NY. Joe Forma Photo

By Forrest Fisher

Chautauqua County is the land of big game hunting opportunities for CWD-free whitetail deer and abundant black bear. There were 9,944 whitetail deer harvested in Chautauqua County last year, including 4,334 adult bucks greater than 1.5 years old – about 4.1 to 5.0 bucks per square mile. Approximately 20 percent of the deer were harvested with a bow. A review of bowhunter logbooks shows that hunters viewed 10 deer for every 10 hours of hunting. There was 28 black bear harvested, 11 during bow season and 17 with firearms. Out of State license cost for big game hunting is a mere $100! 

Nature’s organic health food mix for big strong deer in Chautauqua County includes apple orchards, cornfields, and vineyards. The rolling hills support forests of sweet white oak, beech, and hickory to provide sweet acorns and high protein nut stock for deer. Plentiful wild berry bushes and grape fields provide sweet mealtime for increasing numbers of black bears. High, straight, hardwood trees offer safe support for your ground level tree-mount chair, a fixed ladder stand or a climbing tree stand. Please wear a full-body harness if you are going vertical. The Hunter Safety Lifeline System works great and is inexpensive (under $40). Stay safe.

Chautauqua County is prime with public and private hunting land across more than 1,000 square miles of mostly undisturbed country land. Public access is free to hunt in our 14 State Forests that are specifically managed by the New York State Fish and Wildlife to provide free access to hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing and photography. Handicapped hunters have privileged access to 13,000 acres in eight of those 14 state forests here.

Add the aroma of fresh organic pancakes and hot maple syrup from local trees for breakfast before the hunt, you can understand the welcome feeling that hunters have who travel here from near and far. Big game hunting is very good in Chautauqua County. The deer and bear population is increasing, we need help from hunters in Chautauqua.

Hunters that repeatedly bag a deer with a bow, crossbow, firearm or muzzleloader are usually in the woods and in their stand about one hour before sunrise. The hunting day ends at sunset, by law. The deer and bear are abundant here. With archery or firearms, be sure of your target and beyond. Be safe.

There are SO MANY deer here. Wildlife Mangement Unit 9J.  Motorists here say they need hunter help.  Join in the adventure and excitement of big game hunting in Chautauqua County, NY.

Link to New York State hunting regulations: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28182.html. Link to Chautauqua County Forest Maps: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22556.html.

Visitors Bureau Travel/Accommodations Contact: R. Andrew Nixon, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; Office: 716-357-4569; email: nixon@tourchautauqua.com; web: http://www.tourchautauqua.com; Facebook.com/Tour.Chautauqua

 

Yosemite Travel – Surf, Snow, Sea Birds, Eagles, Mountain Sheep and a Sacred Spirit

  • The meandering Merced River offers peaceful trout fishing
  • Giant trees, some 10 feet in diameter, can mesmerize visitors
  • High rock mountains offer an unmatched view, even more spectacular during sunrise and sunset

My better half and I smile at the spectacular mountains, many offer a sheer cliff-like face with a wind-blown waterfall mist that glisten at sunrise and sunset, providing hues of glimmering blue, orange and purple.  Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher
The spirit of reflection can provide a trail to the sacred territory. No matter where we travel in 2019, it seems many people say hello with a smile. In all goodness, I think this means it has been a great year in the outdoors and for all folks that enjoy our many special American freedoms each day, like cherishing nature and the simple wonders of the outdoors.

No politics. No special licenses. No extra cost.

All of that sort of thought took my better half and I toward a fresh look at our bucket list, it was getting dusty. Yosemite National Park had been on our list for a few decades, so we decided to “get there” this year to celebrate our 50th wedding year, it seems we needed a good excuse. The trip was two-fold, as it was also to visit our eldest grandchild, Kiley Voss from East Aurora, NY, who is now a Park Ranger there.

We flew into San Francisco, headed for a stop to a remote Pacific Ocean beach and we enjoyed the exhilarating sound of the surf – there were pelicans and sea birds screeching out conversations too. About four hours later we arrived at the park and checked into a nearby hotel to prepare for this highly anticipated Yosemite visit.

There was no wifi signal, no phone signal, and no email. Wow! What a vacation!

The next day we drove 12 miles from the hotel to the Yosemite National Park entrance gate and it felt like the year might have been 1850. No development here.

There were sharply rising mountains made of granite that rose toward the heavens along both sides of the single-lane, very narrow, but paved road.

The Merced River slowly ambles westward along the road, comprised mostly of snowmelt runoff (in September!) from the high mountains in the distance. The river thrives with abundant native rainbow trout and a healthy population of stocked brown trout. We watched an angler or two casting a fly line, it was hard to keep our eyes on the curvy road.

As we proceeded past the gate, the narrow roadway led into a much wider valley with meadows and giant trees, some of them more than 10-feet in diameter. We were astonished to see all of the giant Cedar trees and Ponderosa Pine, Sequoia, Sugar Pine, magnificent Black Oak, aromatic Cedar, and other tree species.

Then suddenly as the roadway opened up, there on the left was El Capitan, the name of a magnificent rock mountain. It is a sheer vertical cliff-like rock structure of solid, polished granite that rises to more than 7,500 feet. Straight ahead was another mountain, “Half-Dome,” more than 8,800 feet high, and then many other similar mountains all around us, many with Indian-based names converted to English. Frankly, we were astonished and speechless. It was that beautiful.

Yosemite Valley is indescribable, beautiful, unimaginable, magnificent, a place where God and the spirit of man and life may exist for all time. I felt that.

That was my first impression upon taking a drive to the place they call Yosemite Village, located in the central east side of the 1,176 square mile park of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains of California.

The Yosemite Visitor Center is one of few places with Wifi service in Yosemite Park, it is located near El-Capitan mountain in the park.  Forrest Fisher Photo

Our granddaughter introduced us to a Native Indian guide that conducted tours for the Indian Museum there. He was humble, and a very knowledgeable gentleman of the local wilderness and ways of the land. His name was Ben Cunningham Summerfield and he shared tales of the earliest inhabitants of the park, the Miwoc Indians (pronounced Me-Wuk).

Our Native Indian guide, Ben Cunningham Summerfield, was a humble and knowledgeable gentleman of the local wilderness and ways of the land. Forrest Fisher Photo

Locally, he said, “The Miwoc were called Awahnichi and they were the Indian people that lived in Awahni.”

From other sources and from my novice understanding, the people of the Awanichi there were referred to as Yohimite or Yohometuk, the converted language meaning “some of them are killers.” Hence the name Yosemite was born from those terms when the Euro-Americans came to the area during the gold rush era of 1849.

Ben said to us, “They found no gold but did disturb the nature and the people of the valley.”

Standing next to a rustic example, Ben explained, “The Awahnichi lived in sturdy roundhouse structures made of pine or cedarwood, lashed together with grapevines and uniquely covered with a thick roof made from dead incense cedar bark, some of the roofs were additionally covered with earth.”

This history was also documented by a late Miwok lady, Isabelle Howard Jimenez, who passed away in 1996, though her sharing of Native information was recorded with her permission and is now available in a free booklet provided by the Yosemite Conservancy. Some of it is shared in this story as provided by Ben. Ben’s stories and tales were notable and mesmerizing., and unforgettable. And there were many.

We so relaxed at watching soaring eagles, circling hawks, many other tree birds, and a gray fox stalking his way through the Yosemite woods, and more. Other visitors that we met at the visitor center were coming in off the hiking trails, everyone seemed to have a smile embedded in their chin. any shared sightings of black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer and other critters of the Yosemite wild.

Kiley Voss, a Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park in northern California, explains the nature of Yosemite during daily, 2-hour, tram tour events. Forrest Fisher Photo

Among touring highlights, the Park Service offers a 2-hour long tram tour that provides visitors with a 20-mile journey around the Park. Visitors will discover the nature of birds, fish, and wildlife, and trees that are at home in the park, the mountains – their names and geology, the great places to stop for a photo and restroom stop, the history of the park and much more.  Our granddaughter was the host for one of the tours that we took, of course, we were impressed with her complete knowledge and descriptions of all things Yosemite. She even spotted mountain climbers scaling the face of El Capitan. The tram stopped, everyone took pictures of these adventurists suspended about 3,000 feet up the sheer cliff face of the mountain…sleeping on a rope sling. I just thought -WOW! I once considered that treestand hunting might be dangerous.

My better half, Fern, was disappointed at NOT seeing even one bear, but our granddaughter explained, “They’re just not out in the open and along the highways at this time of year, they’re getting ready to hibernate.”

The multiple peaks, snow-covered mountains, snow-melt streams and Yosemite Falls – crystal clear water, rising trout slurping flies from the surface of the Merced River at dusk, the options for hiking and biking amidst all this beauty…simply amazing, to state it modestly.

The Merced River offers clean, pure, snowmelt flow through quiet waters and quick rapids, some areas filled with trout, from the Yosemite mountain tops to the Pacific Ocean. Forrest Fisher Photo

In Yosemite, there is no hunting allowed for specific management reasons (hunting is controlled and conducted by official Park personal for invasive species), fishing is allowed, but like many places, some special rules apply.

For us, this was a trip of a lifetime.

Not judging, but as we entered San Francisco for our air-lift home, we realized the life we love is certainly not in the big cities, but it definitely is in those mountains about four hours away.

Yosemite was unforgettable.

I think God lives in the church of His mountains there. It is a sacred place.

Bass, Walleye, Salmon, Northern Pike on the Bite Up North in NIagara USA Fish

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, from Destination Niagara USA
  • Lack of Rain, Warm Weather, Slows Lower River King Salmon Run
  • Big Bass in the Lower Niagara are ON-THE-BITE
  • Walleye, Northern Pike and many other species beginning to feed for winter now

Andy Full of Tonawanda and Jeff Hippert of Hamburg placed second in the Safe Harbor Open in the lower river with 5 bass weighing 21.76 pounds.

In the Niagara River, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports that it’s been a slow run on kings so far with the lack of rain and warm water temperatures. To make up for it he’s taken a few good-sized browns on artificial eggs. The water was clear and warm. Tuesday, he tried for walleyes in the gorge and stuck 4 nice ones on plugs. Bass fishing has been good to help make up for the lack of salmon.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls switched from salmon to walleye and hit four nice ‘eyes this week using plugs.

Mike McGrath and Brendan Walsh, both of Niagara Falls, won the Safe Harbor Open Bass Tournament recently with a 5-fish bag that totaled 25.31 pounds. It also included at 5.75 lunker for the contest. The amazing thing was that Lake Ontario was off-limits and all the contestants were required to fish in the river due to high winds. When the winds cooperate, the Niagara Bar can be decent around the green buoy marker according to Capt. Ned Librock of Pendleton. He was fishing with Roy Larson of Wheatfield and Anthony Karam of West Seneca to take smallmouth bass to 5 pounds for a morning last Friday.

Winners of the Safe Harbor Open Bass Tournament on the lower river were Niagara Falls anglers Mike McGrath and Brendan Walsh with a 5-fish total of 25.31 pounds and a lunker of 5.75 pounds – all caught in the river due to high winds on the lake.

Salmon fishing has been tough from boats in the river, too. Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston said it’s been a tough go in Devil’s Hole. A few fish have been caught. Local captains are starting to theorize that the high water of 2017 in the lake and terrible pen project production that year could be playing a negative role this year.

In the upper Niagara River, Capt. Mike Capizzi of Niagara Falls used crayfish to take some big smallmouth (and some sheepshead) around Strawberry Island in 15 to 20 feet of water with Robbie Burgio of Pendleton.

Allyson Balcom of Williamsville caught this Devil’s Hole salmon while fishing with Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston.

For Lake Ontario, action on the lake for salmon and trout has been spotty. Capt. Alan Sauerland of Newfane ran straight out of Wilson to deep water (he turned around at the Canadian border) and caught a mix of fish on spoons. There are some fish staging off Olcott, but numbers seem to be down. Salmon are jumping near the piers but not coming into the creek. If you can find a pocket of fish in the lake and stay on them, you can do well. Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane found them in 100 feet of water one day and then they were gone the next.

Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston with a big Devil’s Hole salmon.

Pike fishing off the piers and in the harbors at Wilson and Olcott has been decent. A few browns and salmon are being caught. Try casting large J13 Rapalas or spinnerbaits, spoons or spinners.

A couple salmon and steelhead have been reported at Burt Dam, but nothing of any significance. Perch and bass in the creeks according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott.

Patrick Schlosser of Buffalo with a third-place catch in the lower Niagara – 5 fish weighing 19.68 pounds – for the Safe Harbor Open Bass Tournament.

If you are making plans for the winter, the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is set for Jan. 17-19, 2020 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. In conjunction with that show, the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s Salmon School set for Jan. 18 is now open for registrations at www.lotsa1.org. Last year it sold out just after Thanksgiving. Keynote speakers include Capt. Pete Alex, Capt. Matt Yablonsky and Capt. Andy Bliss with special talks from Capt. Lance Valentine and Canadian rec angler Karl Chmilnitzky. Another great one! Register early.

Remember that there are a few big events coming up this weekend on Sept. 28 and 29. On Sept. 28, NY will be offering another free fishing day around the state. It’s also National Hunting and Fishing Day and the NYPA Wildlife Festival will be held both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29 at the visitors center located at 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston next to Niagara University from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Lots to see and do for the whole family, and it’s free!

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
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Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
 

Sky-High on Loon’s and Walleye in Wisconsin

  • Turtle Flambeau Flowage in Wisconsin offers comfort and Sounds of the Outdoors
  • Autumn Musky, Walleye, Bronzebacks on the bite with upcoming Fall Colors

Voyageurs canoe to one of the many 60 remote campsites on the islands of the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.

By Bob Holzhei
Catching a limit of walleye was expected, however, I wondered if it was the call of a loon that echoed in my mind and brought me back to the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, located near Mercer, Wisconsin.
Our stay at the Gateway Lodge provided a secluded retreat. It located right on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, with a reputation as the Muskie Capital of the World.  Gateway Lodge is the gateway to an unbelievable outdoor paradise. Owned by Wayne Riebe and his wife Melissa since 2005, the Riebe’s “love to cook.”

Clair’D Loon made its debut in 1981, it weighs 2,000 pounds and welcomes all visitors to “Loon Country” near the Chamber of Commerce building.

The lodge features two-person cabins/a bath, along with 3 and 4-bedroom modern private homes with two baths.  Prices are very reasonable and begin at $100 per night for a one-bedroom, one-bath cabin, and more for luxurious homes with up to four bedrooms for an entire family. Specials are offered throughout the year, for more information, visit their website at the end of this article.  It’s one of the finest and most elegant places I have ever stayed at.
Boat rentals include 23 and 24-foot pontoons, plus, there are 16, 20, and 23-foot boats equipped with Mercury outboards.  Bait is available too, on-site. You can bring your own canoe, kayak or fishing boat, of course.
The on-site restaurant features a menu that includes lunch and supper favorite, including fish fries, burgers and melt-in-your mouth steaks, as well as additional items that will have a person wonder what shall I have for supper?
The Turtle Flambeau Flowage offers access to a 14,300-acre lake and some additional 26 surrounding lakes with 227 miles of undeveloped shoreline.  Blend in more than 21,000 acres of nearby forests offering four seasons of outdoor adventure that include fishing, area campsites with full amenities to 60 remote campsites accessible only by water.  There’s more: biking, backpacking, hiking, canoeing, paddling, snowmobiling, and wildlife-viewing in abundance.   The woods explode in autumn in a panoramic display of fall colors.
The call of loons across the water from years past called me back for a return trip adding to the outdoor wilderness adventure. Mercer is well known throughout the Midwest as a consistent producer of trophy fish.  The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is so similar to the Canadian Wilderness that it is hard to tell the difference.
I anticipate fishing the Turtle Flambeau Flowage for walleye in Wisconsin every time I think about walleye fishing. Tight lines!

For More Information: Gateway Lodge, info@thegatewaylodge.com, phone: 715 476-7878; Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce, www.info@mercercc.com, phone:  715 476-2389

 

 

Where “X” Marks the Spot…at Lake-of-the-Ozarks

Jolly Roger, Lake-of-the-Ozarks

  • Avast ‘ye Matey’s! ‘Thar’s Treasure and Fun to be Had Here!

By Forrest Fisher

See-and-Do travel is part of life here! Click for the fun video.

If you happen along the Gravois Arm while boating Lake-of-the-Ozarks, you could find a wailing pirate in search of treasure, and you could be helping ‘em.

Your kids might be part of the crew too!

You would be setting sail from the Jolly Roger Grub-n-Grog waterfront restaurant aboard their weathered Pirate Ship with Captain Scalawag, of course, chock full with a new gold and silver search for a fun adventure. It’s unforgettable for kids and some of the not-so-young kids too.

After the lake-ward treasure hunt, it’s to shore to the Kracken Shack Seafood and Oyster Bar. Look to find an assortment of tasty and healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner assortments, a topside menu of buccaneer beverages, an arcade for the fun of it, and lake-life leisure like you may have never found before. You can feast, party, find all sorts of adventure and even book a charter fishing trip. Well, shiver me fishing pole timbers!

If you’re driving there, you’ll find them at 28443 Polk Dr., Rocky Mount, Missouri (65072), or call ahead at 573-392-0700.

Catching Toothy Walleye! Limits on the Niagara River

My biggest walleye said, “Here’s looking at ya!”

By Bob Holzhei

Although I fished for walleye in the lower Niagara River before, this incredible fishing adventure provided pin-ball action, landing one walleye after another and yes, a limit of walleye was cleaned to take home for meals.

Fishing with Charter Captain Joe Marra who operates Niagara Rainbow Charters out of Lewiston, New York, I not only boated several 6-pound walleyes, but I lost count. When the 16th walleye was netted (yes, number 16), over two dozen walleye had been hooked.

My arms had actually become tired after fighting one walleye after another. Well, I’m 74 but I try to be a tough guy when it comes to fishing, like all my older friends too, because I just want to be fishing. Life is too short. Following each cast, the rod tip began to bounce as hungry walleye awaited the arrival of the nightcrawler tailing the homemade spinner baits which Marra creates. He rigs with a 1-ounce sinker to take the presentation to the bottom and off we go using the current and his motor for position control.

The Marra grew up in the Niagara Falls area fishing the river and has been chartering for over 20 years. He knows the area so well and likes to drop lines upstream of the two power plants in an area known as Devil’s Hole. The water depth ranges from 20-30 feet. We’d drift downstream, hook and land walleyes with a net, then boat back upstream to begin again. Exciting!

A limit of walleye and a brand new Gill Tackle backpack made for a perfect day. The Gill backpack allowed selecting only the best spoons for the day.

“I like seeing the smile on kid’s faces and adults when a walleye takes the bait,” stated Marra.

On this trip, I looked forward to using a new, custom, seven-foot-long fishing rod built for me by Tom Marks of Hamburg, NY. My Abu Garcia STX reel was loaded with 20-pound test braid and had a 15-pound fluorocarbon leader at the end. Marra’s 20-foot Lund boat was powered by a brand new 200 horsepower Yamaha outboard.

We stayed at Niagara Crossing in Lewiston, NY, where…in history, a house near this property served as a midway crossing for people escaping slavery and heading to enter Canada on the other side of the river. “I had a client once who chartered the boat to see the home where slaves were housed,” added Marra.

The fishing trip did not end at the Niagara River, it will remain with me for all time.

The sound of the rushing water in the Niagara River, just awesome. Just then, I heard some music, “The Sound of Silence,” it was playing in the background, “…and the vision was planted in my brain,” and it played on. A new forever role for me from Paul Simon, the song means so much more to me now.

Oops, “Fish on!”

Don’t let the old man in!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.niagarafallsusa.com; Phone 1-877-FALLSUSA

Wind and Waves, High Water and Reverse Current – Lake Ontario salmon still slam baits when you find them!

  • Matching Lure Sets can make a fish-catching difference!
  • NYSDEC Fisheries Chief Steve Hurst wants more public input on fishery issues
  • Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor…provide safe access to Lake Ontario monster fish

Captain Mike Johannes, On-the-Rocks Charters, says matching lure colors to create color sets can make a fish-catching difference at times. 

By Forrest Fisher

In the world search for outdoor fun, salmon fishing with new friends aboard a 39-foot well-equipped boat can light a fire for unstoppable conversation. That’s true, even when the wind is kicking up 5-foot waves. My dad always told me, “It’s not about the catching, it’s about the fun and being there.”

Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, “I’m learning so much!” The word-sharing for learning more about fishery issues and becoming a good fisherman couldn’t have been any better during a recent fish trip with legislators and press representatives on western Lake Ontario from Niagara County. High water is an issue for Lake Ontario right now, but the group of about 30 folks, in total, discovered that the fish really do not care about water levels.

King salmon (Chinook), brown trout and steelhead live far offshore in summer and their only concern is finding forage and feeding when they’re hungry, which is quite often. Our group went to Wilson Harbor, but looking there, you might never know high water was an issue (near Sunnyside Grill area), as save-the-harbor efforts in Wilson by a private concern brought in new docks and new fill, those efforts made the high water seem non-existent.

With a nasty wind from the east, we headed out of the marina and about 10-miles north. It was rough but doable. Captain Mike Johannes (716-791-3646 ) and 1st mate, Randy Jasulevich, made running the boat named “On-the-Rocks” and trolling 10 fish lines seem like easy work. It’s not, of course, especially under high wind and wave conditions, but they were trying hard to put us on fish. Captain Mike’s big boat handled the surf with no issues at all and we enjoyed a “County Fair” sort of shallow roller coaster ride for a few hours. It was relaxing too.

Captain Mike Johannes shares thoughts for the Lake Ontario forage base and fish-stocking levels with NYSDEC Fisheries Chief, Steve Hurst (R).

For the first time in quite a while, the best part of the trip was a simple conversation. We talked about fishing, changes in the NYSDEC, free fishing licenses from now through Labor Day for Lake Ontario anglers, fish management policies on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario water levels, the new NYSDEC inland trout initiative, the new focus on bringing more women to fish with families, the Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB), the NYS Conservation Council, the NYS Fish and Wildlife Management Board, our 12 NYS fish hatcheries, the success of the Niagara River musky population, radio telemetry studies of tagged fish species, the future for youth fishing programs and so much more. Thanks to Steve Hurst, Chief of NYS Fisheries with the NYSDEC, who was aboard with us, everyone had a chance to share thoughts and a bit of banter, too. It was a great 6-man/2-way session for educational outreach in its finest form. That’s one major goal for Hurst, “I want to bring the public into the picture more often, then provide details of changes to be made based on public input and science.”

Big fish, big net – needed for the most common catches of the huge fish that anglers catch in Lake Ontario.

Dave Godfrey, the legislator for Wilson/Cambria/Wheatfield, provided a simplified rationale for management of the Lake Ontario water levels, all based on his 60-years of white-beard experience with the lake. Assemblyman Angelo Morinello shared a summary of positive changes and improvements underway in Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, and Lewiston, all quite impressive.

Big rig reels with efficient gearing systems are the norm for big fish catching.

“Fish on!” Captain Mike hollered out. Dave Godfrey jumped up. 1st mate Randy hollered out, “Reel, Reel, Reel!” The rod was bent over from 12 o’clock to the gunnel at the back of the big boat, the rod was throbbing with a king salmon in a sort of bob and weave pulsation, and with a hard pull. Just then, “Uh-oh, what happened?” said Godfrey, “He stopped pulling, darn, I think the fish is gone.” A quick check by Captain Mike showed that during the battle, the line had apparently hit one of the other down lines and with such a big fish on, the line snapped. “Not your fault!” Said the captain, “There are plenty more out there!”

We all learned lessons in setting dipsy divers, mag-divers, use of wire-line, downriggers and slider leaders, leader length, flasher-fly combo’s and spin-doctor/tinsel fly rigging tricks. Wow! What a day!

Coming back to port, the biggest fish from Wilson Harbor was caught by Jonathan Schultz fishing with Captain Hank Condes aboard Blade Runner Charters. The biggest fish from Olcott Harbor, a 22-pound king salmon, was brought in by Andrea Czopp while fishing aboard Tough Duty with Captain Tim Sylvester. Both Schultz and Czopp received a handsome trophy for their mastery with rod and reel. The most unusual catch – awarded for landing a fish hooked by the tail, was made by Becky Wydysh, also fishing aboard Tough Duty. To a crowd of cheering and fun-filled jeering, Becky was presented with the “Golden Boot Award.” She accepted with a big smile.

Sharing lunch at the Live Edge Brewing Company, Steve Hurst (L) and Captain Frank Campbell (R) listen attentively as big-fish champion (22-pound king), Andrea Czopp, shares her fish-catching secrets. She whispered, “Dramamine…it works for me!”

The friendly competition among the six charter captains and the Niagara County legislators and public officials concluded with a tasty lunch at the nearby Live Edge Brewing Company, a microbrewery located just five minutes away from the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott. The fun event was hosted by Bill Hilts Jr. and Dr. John Syracuse in conjunction with Niagara County Fish Advisory Board.

For more info on vacation guides, fishing charters or accommodations, call 1-877-FALLS-US or visit www.olcott-newfane.com or www.niagarafallsusa.com. To contact Capt. Mike Johannes at On-the-Rocks Charters, call 716-791-3646 or email: ontherockssII@aol.com. To contact Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty Sportfishing Charters, call 716-417-2455 or email: toughduty@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walleye, Bass, King Salmon! Niagara River and Lake Ontario are Action-Filled!

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Thursday, August 8, 2019

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a big smallmouth bass caught along Artpark from shore on a small tube jig.

In the lower Niagara River, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls managed to climb around the gorge a bit this week and caught some nice smallmouth bass, walleye and silver bass from shore. Water is still high, but fish are available. A No. 3 spinner did the trick on the 7-pound walleye and small tube jigs were working on the bass.

Outdoor Writer Bob Holzhei of St. Johns, Michigan had a great day on the water in the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston last Sunday. They caught over a dozen walleyes including this dandy fish, taking advantage of the free fishing days that are now available in the lower Niagara and Lake O. through Labor Day.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a 7 pound walleye he caught in the Niagara Gorge on a No. 3 spinner.

Also, outdoor writer Bob Holzhei of St. Mary’s, Michigan, was fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Niagara Rainbow Charters on Sunday. They boated over a dozen walleyes using a worm harness off three-way rigs. Holzhei caught some bass using crabs, too. The action was decent throughout the morning.

In the upper river, Jeff Pippard with Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda sends word that the bass fishing in the east river has been good along the shoreline. The time of day is key. Focus on early morning or later afternoon/early evening. Crabs and golden shiners are the best live baits for bass. Drag a worm harness and you can catch a walleye or a sheepshead.

Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctor’s in Olcott reports that the king and steelhead action out deep has been good of late in Lake Ontario. Look for 350 to 400-foot depths and put your baits down 40 to 60 feet. Spoons and flasher-fly are working. Mirage and purple flies were the best colors. The inside waters of 120 to 220 feet were hot and cold. Try meat or flasher-fly for those waters.

Terry Walker of Kennedy, NY had an early leader in the Orleans Co. Derby last weekend with a 25-pound king weighed in at Olcott, but it didn’t last long. The current salmon leader is a 27-1/2 pound king reeled in by Larry Duckworth of Corfu. Mary Duckworth is leading the steelhead division with a 13-pound, 3-ounce Point Breeze fish, the same spot and size for the top brown trout by Georgia Barkdoll of Pa. No lake trout have been weighed in yet. The derby runs through August 18.

Niagara Bar action was picking back up for Scott Rohe of Cheektowaga over the weekend.  One day he went 5 for 8 on kings, the biggest was about 19 pounds. Cut bait on copper was hot. Also, flasher-fly was a good enticement for the salmon. The next day he reported going 9 for 13 on salmon. The biggest king was 26.41 pounds. They caught fish on everything – spoons, cut bait, and flasher-fly. The best area was just off the ledge in 90-220 feet of water. His 300-foot copper rod was hot, along with his rigger set at 60 feet. Dipsy divers set back at 120 and 160 feet were both working.  Another good one was cut bait on a twinkie rig with a spin doctor. Rohe caught some fish on Pro Troll paddles and A-Tom-Mik flies.

Scott Rohe of Cheektowaga with a 26.41 pound king salmon caught on the Niagara Bar over the weekend.

Meanwhile off Wilson, Capt. Mike Johannes of Ransomville reports that action was good in 300 to 350 feet of water, putting his baits 45 to 60 feet down on the riggers. Dark magnum spoons were his best. Carbon 14, Sea Sick Waddler, Road Toad, and Frostbite patterns all worked. Divers were 110 to 150 feet back. All the fish were above the thermocline, which was down 80 feet. Johannes says that there has been a real strong current lately so you have to watch down speed and direction closely.

Terry Walker of Kennedy, NY reeled in this 25-pound king salmon while fishing out of Olcott.

Parker Cinelli with a nice bass from a Grand Island pond. 

August is a celebration of fishing contests as we head into the final full month of Summer. The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby (www.fishodyssey.net) set for August 17-25 has registrations available online starting August 1 and in the shops by August 2. Kids 15 and under can fish for free. The Reelin’ for a Cure ladies tournament to help benefit cancer-related causes will be held out of Wilson and Olcott on August 16. Call Stephanie at 481-6388 for more info. That same day, the Fall Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby begins and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 2. The grand prize for the biggest salmon is $25,000. More info at www.loc.org.

Just a reminder: Free Fishing for Lake Ontario, the lower Niagara River and St. Lawrence River all the way through Labor Day! It’s the state’s way of trying to help out the businesses along the Lake Ontario shoreline that have suffered from the high water levels. Yes, Lake Ontario is open for business and fishing is great! In addition, it’s half-price for admission into some 30 state parks along the lake and rivers and half-price camping in those parks. Enjoy!

Good luck and good fishing!

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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

Epic Sweepstakes Announced by Kryptek® Outdoor Group and CarbonTV® for “INVICTUS”: A Customized 2019 Chevy Silverado worth nearly $100,000

  • Enter to Win Daily on CarbonTV.Com – Now Until December 15, 2019

Kryptek Outdoor Group and CarbonTV have partnered on an epic sweepstakes where one lucky winner will win a 2019 Chevy Silverado Trail Boss named INVICTUS, fully customized and wrapped in Kryptek Typhon™ camo and valued at nearly $100,000. Enter up to twice daily at CarbonTV.Com now until December 15, 2019.

INVICTUS will be customized at the world-famous Prefix Corporation in Michigan. CarbonTV will be documenting the process with weekly video updates, allowing users to follow along and provide feedback. While the truck exterior will boast a full Kryptek wrap and aggressive upgrades, including a lift kit; the interior will be finely detailed with one-of-a-kind Kryptek accents. Viewers can interact with CarbonTV and Kryptek via social media to give their opinions on what upgrades they would like to see. The finished product will be revealed to the public upon completion.

“Kryptek is extremely excited about our partnership with Carbon TV, who in our opinion, is the premier online video platform for the outdoor enthusiast,” explained Kryptek CEO Butch Whiting.  “Being selected to be a part of the Chevy INVICTUS custom build truck giveaway is an honor, and we anticipate that the Warrior ethos that is an inherent part of the Kryptek Brand will be captured in the ambiance of the project.  Kryptek has been used to decorate numerous vehicles, but this one promises to be exceptional with the quality and performance of Chevy being coupled with Kryptek flare.”

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To enter to win, simply click the link at CarbonTV.Com. There is no cost to enter. Enter up to twice a day until December 15, 2019, for a chance to win this one-of-a-kind, customized INVICTUS. Watch a brief video to unlock the second entry option. See the official rules and details here.

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CarbonTV continually seeks the best in outdoor viewing by launching new series, such as Outdoor Weekly, Guided, Doggin’ with Levi and Skull Bound Chronicles. Plus, new seasons of fan-favorites such as The Virtue, The Breaking Point, and The Outdoors Chef. CarbonTV has paved the way for Live Streaming videos of incredible wildlife activity such as WildLifers Live Cam or the “Crush Cam” at Lee and Tiffany Lakosky’s Iowa farm.

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About CarbonTV: The best of what’s happening outdoors is happening on CarbonTV. CarbonTV is the largest OTT platform for the online distribution of outdoor content. All video content is available on-demand, for free at CarbonTV.com and via OTT apps on ROKU, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android and Samsung Smart TV. To learn more, visit CarbonTV.Com. Follow us at Facebook.Com/CarbonTV and Instagram.com/CarbonTVMedia

Lake Erie Fishing Adventure includes Thunder of Niagara Falls USA

As an outdoor travel writer, I sure enjoy catching these tasty Lake Erie walleye.

  • The history and vista view of Niagara Falls itself is inspiring, but the thunder and vibration from the falls is simply awesome  
  • Lake Erie offers walleye, perch, smallmouth bass and musky
  • Lake Ontario offers King salmon, Atlantic salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, and Steelhead
  • Niagara River offers some of all those species in the Upper and Lower River sectors

By Bob Holzhei

The American Falls with the Power Vista viewing platform in the background, and a sacred rainbow offer the ultimate adventure view, complete with Niagara Falls “thunder,” for Jeff and Tiffany Liebler, visitors from Tampa, Florida. Forrest Fisher Photo

It was a few years ago that I fished Lake Erie from the New York shoreline. It was time for a return trip to not only fish but to revisit the rich history of nearby Niagara Falls, U.S.A.

Niagara Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. Even though I’ve visited the falls before, each return trip is an experience of a lifetime. In addition, I love history, and Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in America. Fort Niagara was established in 1726! It makes me feel young.  Costumed reenactments portray men and women dressed in primitive attire of the time during special item events held many times a year. Living history programs and artillery demonstrations take visitors to the park back in time.

Boat tours take visitors near the falls aboard the safety of a boat vessel named, the “Maid of the Mist.”

The “Maid of the Mist” offers a safe, powerboat trip to the river portion directly below the Canadian Falls, an ultimate adventure experience while you visit here. Forrest Fisher Photo

The “Festival of Lights” draws visitors from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany, on January 6th, each year.

“The Niagara Gorge spans 800 feet across and up to 200 feet deep, where the lower Niagara River flows below. Blend in the opportunity to fish the area rivers, streams, and legendary Lake Erie, it’s an amazing time. The world-renowned Niagara River connects two Great Lakes, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and also offers access to the infamous Erie Canal – the man-made waterway of the 1800s from Buffalo to Albany and New York City that was a big part of the industrial revolution.

What’s new at Niagara Falls, U.S.A.?

“A zip line over the Erie Canal in Lockport and a new improved Marina in Wilson, named Bootlegger’s Cove Marina,” stated Bill Hilts Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director for Niagara Falls Tourism Bureau.

Blend in several new breweries, downtown hotels, and a revamped Niagara Falls State Park, including a renovated “Cave of the Woods.” Outdoor activities have also expanded including hiking, biking, birding, and boating, so Niagara Falls has something for everyone.

The Niagara Falls Region provides opportunities to fish for perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, and Northern Pike.

A monster Lake Erie walleye near Dunkirk, NY was caught by my friend, Ed Cheeney, of Cheeney Media Concepts. Bob Holzhei Photo 

In the Lake Ontario sector, where the Niagara River makes entry, it offers Chinook, Coho, Atlantic salmon, Lake Trout, and Rainbow Trout.

The Erie Canal Region is noted for slow-moving water making it great for family fishing. Species found there include walleye, northern pike, catfish, and carp weighing up to 20 pounds.

The “River Region” is open for year-round fishing. In the fall, salmon and brown trout lure anglers to the area. In winter, steelhead fishing is popular and spring is the prime season for trout and steelhead in the river. In summer, the muskie, walleye and smallmouth bass provide excellent action for anglers. Professional charter captains are available and take the guesswork out of fishing.

With a smorgasbord of outdoor adventure and fishing opportunities throughout the year, it is no wonder why Niagara Falls and the surrounding area is one of the natural wonders of the world!

FAST FACTS: Looking back over the years

  • 1817-Erie Canal Construction Begins
  • 1859-Hydraulic Tunnel Construction begins
  • Mid-1800’s: Freedom seekers escape slavery through the Niagara Falls railroad.
  • 1885-Niagara Reservation created-Niagara Falls State Park consists of 400 acres.
  • 1896-Inventor Nikola Telsa transmits electricity 22 miles from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, New York.
  • 1901-Ajjie Edison is the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and survives.
  • 1915-Herschell Carrousel Factory/Museum; the founder of the American Amusement rides & vintage carousel rides.

To request a visitor’s guide: www.niagarafallsusa.com.

Multi-tasking Eating Tool…Fits in your Pocket

It’s chow time on the trail. You know the excitement!  It means rest and relaxation, conversation, good moments are just ahead. Yet, many times, you are just ready to get the fire going and something is missing. Forks, knives, spoons, can opener – you know how it goes. That’s life, but guess what? That precious R&R just got to be a few more moments away. Enter ChowLite. Some of those NEEDs and ISSUES are gone. Presto. Gotta like that.

From the company that introduced the popular ChowPal™ all-in-one utensil set/multi-tool last year, Outdoor Edge now introduces a new smaller, lighter eating utensil, the ChowLite. Crafted of 420J2 stainless steel for increased strength and durability the ChowLite’s one-piece design swings open and locks securely to reveal a full-size fork and spoon with a serrated food separator, integrated bottle opener, can opener and a flathead screwdriver.

Weighing only 1.6 ounces, the new ChowLite is ideal for weight-conscious backpackers. For space-conscious issues, when closed it is a mere 4.5 inches, but when locked open for use, it measures 7.75 inches long. Ideal for digging into freeze-dried food bags, separating food and general-purpose eating, the ChowLite keeps your venture into the wild a civilized dining experience.

The ChowLite will retail for under $20 and will be available at www.outdooredge.com and at retailers nationwide. I like the new inventions. This is one of those. Enjoy.

Take that adventure, but keep your hands clean. Pick up a ChowLite soon.

About Outdoor Edge: Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Denver, Outdoor Edge is a leading designer and manufacturer of knives and tools. Today, Outdoor Edge continues to innovate and develop state-of-the-art products for outdoor enthusiasts, game processors, survivalists, handymen and others who require the very best knives and tools available for leisure, work and everyday-carry needs. The company prides itself in offering a variety of products that undergo extensive field-testing in harsh, rugged environments resulting in durable, long-lasting products that come with a lifetime guarantee. For additional information on Outdoor Edge and its full line of products write to: Outdoor Edge, 5000 Osage Street, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80221; call toll-free 800-477-3343; email moreinfo@outdooredge.com; or visit www.outdooredge.com.

Summertime King Salmon Fishing is ON in Lake Ontario

  • High water is not a factor
  • Smart Troll with diving planes is highly effective
  • Warrior Spoon lures proved they are hot

By Forrest Fisher

Chris Kenyon (L) and Captain Jerry Snyder aboard Dandy Eye’s Fishing Charter are pretty happy about this nice King Salmon catch.  We all kidded Chris that he needed oxygen after a 38-minute battle with this fish.

High Great Lakes water levels have raised concerns for shoreline issues, but it sure has not affected the fishing. In Lake Ontario where the water level is the highest above average when compared to the other Great Lakes, we fished Lake Ontario to find heavy fun with no issues.

Working out of Hughes Marina in Williamson (NY) with part of our fun group aboard Dandy Eyes Charters and the other half aboard Miss Demeanor Charters, we readied for action. Our troop of anglers was a team of outdoor communicators from the New York State Outdoor Writers Association that were challenged by the team from Rush Outdoors TV (Pursuit Network). Led by Realtree camo superstar, Tim Andrus, the battle of Lake Ontario for heaviest weight at the scale after just three hours of fishing, was on.

Rush Outdoors TV Star, Tim Andrus, is ready for salmon action.

The New York State Outdoor Writers team fished from Dandy Eyes and enjoyed a great day on the water with lots of fish.

There is always more than just playing the game with outdoor media – there are jokes, tales from impractical history, shoelace tying fun (tying laces together when the other guy is sleeping, then yelling fish on!), and other such shenanigans. It’s all in real fun, and it is, and it was, real fun for everyone.

We left the marina at about 9:00 a.m. and headed northwest into the mild 8 mph wind that had created a perfect “chop” for keeping the mayflies off the boat. Aboard the comfy 31-foot Baha with Captain Jerry Snyder and Captain Sandy Miller from Dandy Eyes, we discovered so much about high-tech fishing.

Using 8-1/2 foot Okuma fishing rods with Daiwa Salt 30 or Shimano Tekota 600LC reels, each filled with 9-strand/45 pound test Torpedo Diver wireline, we trolled a King John flasher with a trailing Warrior silver-plated spoon in “Spoiler” color to fool some nice King Salmon.

A Chinook diving plane used with a 9-strand wire line and Smart-Troll device allows perfect depth and temperature lure placement. It’s a fish-catcher combination!

In all, we hooked up with 8 of these incredible fighting fish. Some of them took as long as 38 minutes to bring in! Fun? WOW! Sore arms and shoulders? Yes! Need for oxygen? Yes!

Smart Troll electronics allows temperature and depth data to remove all mystery.

Captain Snyder uses Smart-Troll electronics to measure the water temp, lure depth and lure speed – yes I think a fishy degree is required to figure all this hi-techy stuff out, as the fish were hoodwinked into thinking some of the flashy/UV-coated spoons presented at just the right depth for the day, 70-80 feet down in 130-140 feet of water, was their late breakfast. WHAM! Fish On! Love that sound from the captain.

Captain Jerry Snyder proved to all of us writer folks that he might just understand a little about the very tricky Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishery. Among all of us jousting him with jokes, laughable tales and more, he maintained his reliable and proven fishing method self to put the boat on fish that could be caught. We watched many fish we could not catch on the sonar screen, but then he changed his fishing tactics to win the FooltheFishzitzer prize. Masterful. Really was.

Captain Jerry Snyder at work…eyes, ears and full attention to the fishery.

Fishing aboard Dandy Eyes, we zeroed in on bringing fish to the boat even when the fish were not biting for many other charters. It might be embarrassing for other charters, as you might guess, but it’s quite a lot of fun at the dock when you return to share stories of your catch. Biggest fish, smallest fish, most fish – you know, the big fish tale spins abound. So that’s how it was last weekend when we fished with my outdoor media buddies Chris Kenyon, Leo Maloney and Bill Hilts in this fish-off match vs the TV stars and the camera crew from Rush Outdoors TV. Once more time – Fun? WOW! Yes it was. I’m trying to wipe the grin off my face, so please don’t mention it.

Famed outdoor writer, Leo Maloney (L), and Rush TV Show co-star, John Lenox, discuss the outdoor world and fishing secrets.

In a fun day of fishing, sharing jokes, bantering about all things, like where you might find a deer tick – no, not going there – and all that followed by the biggest question from Captain Jerry time after time: “Who’s Up?!! Fish On!”

Outdoor TV Show host and star, Bill Hilts, does the transfer work, live well to fish cooler, end of a very successful day!

We caught fish, King Salmon to 16 pounds – our smallest at 5 pounds, to win the jesting tussle at the scales. Hardy thank you to Wayne County superman outdoor educator Christopher Kenyon and TV stars, Tim Andrus and John Lenox, for wholehearted vying in this funfest battle. Both groups, a total of 12 people, are dedicated professionals committed to furthering the message of the great outdoors with everyone everywhere.

Love the battle hymn aboard our boat last weekend: “FISH-ON!” What a great tune.

Dolphins Come to Talk…to this Lady of the Sea

  • There are kindred spirits of the sea, and they came alive on this day-trip for me
  • Seashells, the sound of surf, sea birds, beautiful dolphins

Dolphins visit the boat side and seem to talk with visitors aboard near this secret mangrove island.

By Forrest Fisher

It was about 10 years ago that I first met someone that could offer to take you for a short sightseeing boat ride near Key West, Florida. Then, while slowly motoring along, ask if you like dolphins, then take you to meet them, one on one. Everyone loves dolphins! Captain Victoria Impallomeni smiled to us, then took the five of us on her boat that day to a secret place in the Atlantic Ocean, about 45 minutes from her boat dock at Murray Marina.

Our group took pictures and videos while Captain Victoria Impallomeni (right) shared secrets of the sea near Key West.

We motored along to arrive at an uninhabited mangrove island that offered unique seashells, clear waters, the quiet sound of gentle waves washing ashore, and the faraway screech of feeding sea birds in the distance. Time seemed infinite while on the beach. So relaxing. I discovered a new awareness of the sea and nature that day.

We explored the beach and shared a conversation about the infinite power of nature, then moved back to the boat and to the waters offshore near the island. That’s when Captain Victoria took out her tuning forks, yes…tuning forks, just like in the science class movies of the 1950s and 1960s, and turned on her musical i-pod sounds for us in the boat. She also shared her tunes with the sea below, using special marine speakers. It only took a few minutes, like a miracle, a mama dolphin surfaced 10 feet from boat side, lifted her head, and looked us all in the eye, gently squealing a bit. It was if to say, “Hi Captain Vicki! It’s good to see you, who have you brought to visit?” Seriously, she talked to that dolphin. Then, three more appeared. They stayed with us for quite a while. If there is one place where peace in the world can be found, it is here.

Dolphins offer surprising conversation to visitors aboard Dancing Dolphin Spirits Charters in this special picture from Captain Victoria’s friend, India Blake. Click the picture to visit the website.

Captain Victoria says, “Whenever we come out to this special place, the dolphins all seem so happy to see us.” Her smile is deep and honest, and special. I asked if they are this easy for everyone to find. Captain Vicky smiled at me and said, “Not sure, they seem to like my music, are attracted to the tuning fork vibrations that none of us can hear, but they appear to hear, and they seem to know me somehow, too. I always feel special out here with them, and we have become friends for all time. Everyone that takes this day cruise will remember it for a long time. We seem to form a connection to nature and the sea like no other connection in life, and many folks tell me that.”

Our uninhabited mangrove island offered unique seashells, clear waters, the quiet sound of gentle surf washing ashore, and the faraway screech of feeding sea birds in the distance.

She added, “Honestly, the dolphins appear happy to see us every time we arrive in this area with our new group, music, and tuning forks. I think that might sound a little corny, but they know the signature sound of my power trim motor.  They are so intelligent, so graceful and beautiful.”

Captain Victoria Impallomeni offered us a conversation about the dolphins and the sea, while we walked the mangrove island about an hour from the marina.

“Many folks ask for a trip like this to take them far from their lifetime reality, a sort of healing moment for them that – for many – changes them in a good way. I think time stands still while the dolphins are near. Some people reach over the side and the dolphins seem to know they should get closer, and they do, at times. The result is what we call a healing moment. Honestly, I think the dolphins enjoy our visit as much as we do. They play with us. They talk to us. They are incredible in so many ways.”

I cannot wait to return for one more visit to share in the peace of sea in this special place near Key West, Florida. You can share more about these experiences with Captain Victoria in her blog, it is quarterly, and can be found here: https://dancingdolphinspirits.com/.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR…and maybe on your hair, your bumper and your windshield!

Love bugs are not the result of a college experiment gone wrong, read the story to learn more

  • It’s that time of year, the Love Bugs are here!

By Capt. Tom Marks

If you are in Florida or anywhere along the Gulf coast and even up into South Carolina about this time of year, you are being annoyed by “love bugs.” I had to find out more about them. Researching the love bug I discovered it is really a variety of March fly, Plecia Nearctia. Isn’t a fly just a bug?

Love bugs are not the result of a college experiment gone wrong, read the story to learn more.

They arrived in Florida back in the 1940s by expanding their range from Central America. The love bug doesn’t bite or sting, they don’t even spread disease, they are just annoying. Now I am not a lover of bugs and certainly have no affection for love bugs, but they aren’t all bad!

No, this picture is not out of focus.  This windshield is after just a few miles. It is hard to see through after meeting up with a swarm of love bugs

Actually, the love bug is beneficial for gardens. In the larval stage, they eat dead organic matter and return it to the soil so it can be used by plants. The adults are nectar eaters – clover, goldenrod or Brazilian Pepper being favored flowers.

They emerge from the ground twice a year first around May, then again in the fall around September. The emergence is called swarming, it is part of their reproductive cycle. The males emerge first followed by the females about a day later. Quickly they couple and fly this way for two to three days. When a pair is through with their lengthy mating the female drops to the ground and lays anywhere from 100 to 350 eggs on the top of the soil, then she dies. The male might live a couple more days and his brief adult phase ends.

The entire life span of the love bug depends on what flight it originates from.

The May flight lives roughly 120 days, the eggs laid do hatch in just a couple of days where the larvae stage feeds on decaying organic plant material until it is ready to transform to the pupa stage. The pupa stage lasts a couple of days then emerges as an adult to die about four or five days later.

The September flight lives around 240 days, going through the same cycle. Today there are not as many love bugs as when they first invaded the Gulf Coast region. Natural controls “followed” their invasion, such as parasitic fungi. Love bugs are susceptible to drought which can cause high mortality to the larvae.

If you are in an area that has love bugs, you are familiar with the seasonal swarms. They are pesky flying insects as they swarm and buzz about your body, sometimes landing on you. They are attracted to light colors.

These love bugs were no match for this RAM truck.

After just a few miles this bumper met the love bug and won!

The dense swarms can create hazardous driving as they get smashed on a windshield. Don’t use the windshield washer when driving that will just smear the mess and make visibility out the window impossible.

It has been reported that their squished bodies are acidic and will damage a car’s paint. This is a myth, the acid is a by-product of the bacteria that eats the squished remains and that damages the paint. The advice is still the same after driving through swarms of love bugs, wash them off sooner rather than later. Lots of water, a detergent like Dawn and lots of elbow grease will get the job done.

What I was really interested in finding out when I started this research was which bug is the male in the mated pair. As I suspected, it is the fly with the bigger head (and smaller body). I like to think it is because males are smarter and vastly more intellectual, but I know the ladies will argue it has nothing to do with intelligence, but more to do about ego. In the picture, the male is to the left and the superior female is to the right.

We know the female is superior because the poor male has to follow her lead. The sheer magnitude of their numbers is a great example that men and women can get along – as long as men let the women lead.

Yet I ponder the superiority of the sexes.

The female love bug is doing all the work flying, the male is just going for the ride. I am sure the ladies can see a parallel in humans, I cannot say I know this for a fact. While the female love bug is superior in size and is leading, the male is saving his strength for the day when they part, he vacations in retirement.

The female may guarantee there will be the next generation but dies in exhaustion.

A vacation in retirement.

It sounds like to me like the male isn’t so dumb.

Bill Hilts Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for June 13, 2019

Joel Spring caught this Gar Pike...with no hook!

Joel Spring of Ransomville caught this gar pike on Tuesday using a rope fly … with no hook!

The statewide bass season opens on Saturday, June 15, as well as the Great Lakes muskellunge season on that same day, as anglers get ready to rumble.

Scott Banes of Pennsburg, Pa. caught this huge king salmon fishing with Capt. Roger Young of Papa Smurf Charters, Olcott.

Sydney Rhoda of Mercer, Pa. caught this 20-pound king salmon while fishing out of Olcott over the weekend.

First off, we need to emphasize the point that Lake Ontario is open for business! Despite the high water levels and State of Emergency along the shoreline with a 5 mph no wake zone within 1,000 feet of shore, the fishing is great!

In the Orleans County Open Tournament last weekend, it was a Niagara County team fishing the eastern fringe waters of Niagara County to win the contest. The winner was the Dublin Up team from Wilson led by Capt. Carl Martin of Pendleton. The Dublin Up team started fishing 10 miles west of the Oak, starting in 60 to 80 feet of water. By the time they hit the 100-foot mark they had 5 salmon in the box and started to fish for lake trout. After dropping the speed to 1.5 mph, they had a good grip on the rod and it turned out to be the biggest fish of the tournament – a 22.30-pound king salmon. They managed to catch some lake trout and steelhead for a 124-pound box, good for second place behind Capt. Rob Wescott and the Legacy Team from Hilton.

Day 2 they did it again with a 121-pound box to win the event. They were targeting salmon and lake trout first thing in the morning by going 2.0 to 2.2 mph. They put 4 kings and 1 laker in the box. When they slowed the speed to 1.5 mph, they hit an 18-pound laker right away. Throw in some steelhead to round out the box after the team’s third laker and the result was their first win. Meanwhile, Wilson and Olcott action continues to be good to very good.

Jim Willworth of St. Catharines, Ontario (left) caught this 27-pound king salmon while fishing with Capt. Joe Gallo (right) of Two Bulls Sportfishing out of Wilson.

Capt. Joe Gallo of Two Bulls Sportfishing reports he did well last weekend working the 110 foot water depth line from Wilson to Olcott. He had good salmon bites on a combo of high spoons and deep meat dragging the bottom. The meat produced the year’s best biggest king so far for his boat, a 27 pounder. Green flashers out 150 feet took many fish all weekend

The 2019 Orleans Open winners, Team Dublin-Up!

Saturday’s northeast blow dropped the water temperature 9 degrees so Sunday morning they headed north and found a warm pocket of water in 350 feet of water. They worked 21 bites off the same spoon, flasher, and meat program from the first two days with mostly mid-teen kings with 2 fish right around the 20-pound mark.

The next big derby is the Summer LOC Derby set for June 29 to July 28. Check out www.loc.org.

Lower Niagara River action has been good from boats, but finding a place to fish from shore had been difficult at best. The NYPA platform is underwater and the gorge shoreline offers little relief from the water. Boaters are doing well on a wide variety of fish species. Steelhead and lake trout are still available according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Walleye and bass are hitting with regularity, too. MagLips, Kwikfish and live bait like shiners will catch you fish. For bass, tubes and swim baits work well. You can start using live bait to target bass on Saturday.

Bobby Joe Frost of Alden and his 12-year-old son, Robert, trolled Buffalo Harbor at night to take a dozen nice walleyes.

Remember that musky season opens June 15 in the Great Lakes, too. The Upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor is the best place to be for consistent musky action. Bass fishing has been very good there as well. The foot of West Ferry Street is a good place to target.

Don’t forget the kids fishing contests coming up this weekend:

  • The 24th Annual City of Tonawanda Kids Free Fishing Derby will be taking place on June 15 in Niawanda Park from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the Bandshell in the park. Grab bags will be handed out to the first 200 kids registered. Awards will follow at 11:30 a.m. For more info call John White at 692-6306.
  • 33rd Annual Niagara County Youth Fishing Derby is June 15 being hosted by the Wilson Conservation Club, 2934 Wilson-Cambria Road (Route 425), Wilson from 8 a.m. to noon. This contest, for kids ages 3 to 14, is based on length. No trout and salmon will be judged. Youngsters may fish any Niagara County waters. All kids will receive a consolation prize. Awards presentation is at 1 p.m. For more information call Mike at 585-205-1353.
  • There will be a Catch and Release Kids Fishing Derby at Wide Waters Marina, Lockport on June 16 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for fishing; lunch and awards will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is being hosted by Moose Lodge 617, 204 Monroe Street, Lockport.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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

CAMPING in the GREAT OUTDOORS, So Good For Your Soul!

  • Sensible gear to avoid bugs, mice, snakes makes camping lots more fun
  • Choices for a truck tent, comfy pad, pillow and the right sleeping bag 

Truck tent camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors

By Larry Whiteley

The beauty of nature can easily be missed if you’re not out there camping in our great outdoors. Even if it is cool, cold, rainy, snowy or a little warm, you can still enjoy the tradition of camping if you have the right equipment.

Many tents offer the necessary shelter from the elements, but only a few are suited for cooler weather as well as summer and even winter. My camping is done in a tent that’s different than the usual tent.

I use a Kodiak Canvass truck tent with heavy canvass walls that are worth their weight in gold during cooler weather, but their ventilation system makes it just as comfortable in warmer weather.

With my truck tent I don’t have to worry about finding just the right camping spot. I don’t have to worry about wild animals and crawling bugs coming inside with me either. Anywhere I can park I can put up my tent because it is designed to be set up in the bed of my truck. To me, it’s actually a whole lot easier to set up than a regular ground tent.

There’s lots of room in a Kodiak Canvass truck tent

I have been through several thunderstorms while camping and it has never leaked. Other tents were collapsing from the wind while I relaxed in mine and read a good book. It stood up through it all. If I want to move to a different camping spot or head for home I just collapse it down into my truck bed, close my truck bed cover and I’m gone.

Everything else that I don’t need in the tent is kept inside my crew cab (or underneath it) so I am not crowded at all. It has plenty of room for my bags, my cooler and even a camp chair.

A good sleeping bag is another essential item. I also have one of the very innovative new Kodiak Canvass Z Top sleeping bags that are totally different than any other bag on the market and I love it. I don’t like being cold! It has a unique top flap that seals in my body heat and eliminates drafts.

The bag’s revolutionary design is unlike any other sleeping bag you have ever seen. It allows me to sleep in the position I am most comfortable and I can even sprawl out and keep under the covers. In warmer conditions, I fold back the top flap, or unzip and remove it.

Kodiak Canvass Z Top sleeping bag with top flap folded down

The bags zippers are lined with anti-snag strips to eliminate frustrating snags and a full-length zipper baffle to reduce any heat loss. They also lock down so they don’t crawl open in the night like my other sleeping bags did. It doesn’t have cold spots like some of my old bags did either.

It even has a pillow pocket that helps keep my camp pillow in place and I don’t wake up looking for it. The wedge-shaped foot box provides extra space, so my toes don’t get scrunched, which is something else I love. A zipper at the foot of the bag also allows me to vent the bottom when I need to. You can even buy their Booster Quilt accessory which can increase the bag’s temperature rating by up to 30 degrees if you need it.

Rather than sleeping on some kind of pad in the bed of my truck I also have a Disc-O-Bed modular cot that is wider and longer than most cots and by far the best quality camping cot on the market. Being a veteran myself it’s nice to know its steel and canvass construction is U.S. military approved.

The innovative Disc-O-Bed with inflatable Disc-Pad

It comes in a travel bag and with their modular system it is real easy to set up as a single cot, make into a bunk bed or convert to a couch. The side pockets sure come in handy for keeping items I need. To top it off, I use their very comfortable Disc-Pad inflatable sleeping pad and I sleep like a baby. My wife and I also use it at home as spare beds when the grandkids stay over.

Take my word for it, if you have a truck and you enjoy camping, you need a Kodiak Canvass truck tent and sleeping bag, as well as a Disc-O-Bed for your camping adventures. I don’t work for either of these , but I sure do love their quality products and I am pretty sure you will too. Check them out at www.kodiakcanvass.com and www.discobed.com.

Views like this outside your tent door are better than any TV show

Wherever you go camping this year make sure you take along the right tent, cot and sleeping bag, they will greatly add to your enjoyable experience.

If you have never tried, why not go discover yourself?

Why not go make a memory?

Being disconnected for just a little while from computers, smart phones and TV, as well as escaping traffic, distractions and worry is really so very good for your soul.

 

Affordable Offshore Charter Fishing near Englewood Beach, Florida

  • 5 hour Offshore Fishing Trip, we caught more than 50 fish!
  • Cost was so affordable, all gear and bait was provided
  • Enjoyable day, the captain cleaned all the fish!

By Bob Holzhei

Dave Barus with one of the many fish we hooked up with and released. we caught so many hard-fighting fish in such a short time. Was such fun! Bob Holzhei Photo

The fishing action in the Gulf of Mexico was like playing pinball. It was non-stop action baiting the hook and dropping the baited hook down to bottom, then reeling the line in three full turns. Bang! Boom! Hang on to the rod!

Live shrimp were among the baits we used to fool so many fish in such a short time. These were hooked up with a size 3 hook below a 2-ounce slide sinker using 40-pound mono tied to 40-pound braid. Forrest Fisher Photo

Dave Barus, an outdoor writer from western New York and I booked a charter with Captain Terry Heller.  The boat was launched out of Placida, FL and we fished about 8-1/2 miles off shore, far beyond the sight of land.  There were no other boats in sight as three-foot waves grew in intensity to about five feet.  We were alone in the Gulf of Mexico and became part of the natural world that day, bobbing and bouncing around like a little cork for a few hours. The chop didn’t hurt the fishing.

A Lowrance GPS guided us to Heller’s many hotspots where he has been successful before.  In each, a small buoy was dropped to mark the area and the anchor was released to hold the boat where fish showed up on the fish finder.

Captain Terry Heller drops a special buoy that allows him to mobilize his boat position in relation to this known marker spot and navigate his fishing clients over tiny rock beds that hold giant and plentiful fish on the bottom. Forrest Fisher Photo

The bait was dropped in 50-57 feet of water, then pulled up from the bottom three full turns on the reel.

“Fish-on!” I yelled as the hook was set.

“Fish-On!” Yelled Barus.

After my first Key West Grunt was boated, Heller hurried to the other side of the boat to assist Barus with battling the fish.  Ocean fish fight much harder than expected and a couple of times Captain Heller had to hold onto the rod as I lifted the rod up and reeled line in on the down stroke.  “I gotta start a harder workout each day (note to myself).” The rod tip jumped again and again, and setting the hook hard was advised by Heller because the various saltwater fish out there have such tough mouths.

Captain Terry Heller baited the Eagle Claw size 3 hook with a variety of baits including shrimp, cut squid and sardines.  A 7-1/2 foot Sussex rod with a 300-400 series Penn Reel had 20-pound braid line on it.

The fishing reels were 300-400 series saltwater models with tough, durable braided line. Forrest Fisher Photo

Heller started fishing with his father at 65 years ago when he was 5 years old and has been a full-time professional fishing guide for 5 years in Florida.

The center console walk-around 24-foot Polar boat was equipped with a 225 horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard and also had an 80-pound torque Minn Kota trolling motor on the bow.

Red and Gag Grouper were caught, Snapper, Sea Bass, Trigger fish, Tom Toms and Key West Grunts. Wow! Many fish were released back in the water because the season had not opened yet, but we caught more than 50 fish in 3 short hours of bottom dipping with bait in the right places. Caption Heller cleaned, filleted and bagged the fish for us, all part of the trip cost.

“When you like to do something you love, it’s not hard.  I like taking 10-year old’s fishing, especially my grandkids.  No only do they learn fast, but they also have patience.  They really like catching big Groupers,” concluded Heller.

We fished for $165 apiece. A great value and a fun trip. For additional information, Captain Heller says you can call him at 941-587-4460.

The 24′ boat was so tough out there, very durable, I felt safe the entire trip. Forrest Fisher Photo

 

Alabama Turkey Season Opens Saturday, March 16 (in Most Alabama Counties)

  • Delayed season dates on select WMAs

Spring turkey season will open March 16, 2019, and close April 30 for most Alabama counties. In 2018, the Conservation Advisory Board passed a motion that set the start date for turkey season as the third Saturday in March each year.

Photo by Gary Mitchell

The decision was made to allow as many hens as possible to breed before the males are harvested. Research suggests that slightly delaying the season could have a significant impact on increasing the turkey population. No changes were made to the bag limit, which is one gobbler per day with a total of five during the combined spring and fall seasons.

“The Advisory Board’s decision is related to growing concerns of an observed decline in wild turkey population growth in Alabama,” said Steve Barnett, Wild Turkey Project Leader for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. “Harvest data shows that many adult gobblers are harvested in the first two weeks of the season. That’s well before the peak of nest initiation.”

Additionally, spring turkey season will be delayed for research purposes on the following Wildlife Management Areas: Barbour, J.D. Martin-Skyline, Hollins, Oakmulgee, Lowndes, Choccolocco, and Perdido River. The delayed season will run March 23 to April 30, 2019. For more information about the delayed season, call 334-242-3469.

Hunters are reminded that all turkey harvests must be reported through Alabama’s Game Check system either online at www.outdooralabama.com or through the Outdoor Alabama mobile app. The Outdoor Alabama Mobile app is available at www.outdooralabama.com/contact-us/mobile-apps.

For more information about seasons and bag limits, visit www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/seasons-and-bag-limits.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

Head for the Beach and the Birds….the Florida Turkey Birds

Jim Monteleone Photo

  • Spring Turkey Season STARTS NEXT WEEK in Florida…March 2nd
  • Enjoy the outdoors and a healthy, delicious meal too
  • Abundant wild Osceola Turkey populations across Florida

Florida’s spring turkey season opens Saturday, March 2 on private lands south of State Road 70 and Saturday, March 16 north of State Road 70. Florida’s abundant wild turkey populations offer sustainable harvest opportunities throughout the state. However, hunting them is a challenge because they are extremely wary and possess sharp eyesight and excellent hearing. When knowledge, skill and good fortune come together for a successful outcome, hunters can look forward to delicious, organic meals.

“Many people relish the feeling of self-reliance that comes from being able to harvest and prepare wild turkey,” said Chef Justin Timineri, executive chef and culinary ambassador for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “It’s a tasty, versatile protein that can be prepared many different ways.”

Fresh from Florida chefs have developed several mouthwatering wild turkey recipes including Tikka Masala, wild turkey quesadillas and wild turkey cottage pie. Because wild turkey meat is low in fat, techniques for cooking it differ from domestic birds. The Fresh from Florida chefs provide recipes and tips on how to prepare tender, juicy meals that hunters will enjoy sharing with friends and family.

The Sunshine State is home to robust populations of two wild turkey subspecies: eastern and Osceola. Florida is unique because the Osceola subspecies lives only on the state’s peninsula and nowhere else in the world. Osceola wild turkeys are similar to the eastern wild turkey subspecies, which is found in north Florida and throughout the eastern United States. However, Osceolas tend to be smaller and darker with less white barring on the wings.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wildlife professionals use scientific data to conserve wild turkey populations and provide regulated and sustainable hunting opportunities. Hunters also play an important role in wild turkey management by purchasing licenses and permits, and along with other shooting sports enthusiasts, contributing to the successful Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Learn more about wild turkey management and hunting by visiting MyFWC.com/turkey. Find wild turkey recipes and information by choosing “Hunting News” at MyFWC.com/hunting.

 

NEW – Blood Red Game Bags for Hunters, under $20!

  • They arrive vacuum-sealed for sanitation and easy packing, as they take up very little room in your pack. 
  • Small Blood Red Game Bag measures 30 x 18 inches with a 5-inch side gusset and a 12-inch meat flap. 
  • Large Blood Red Game Bag is 42 x 22 inches w/a 6-inch side gusset for large quarters and 14-inch top meat flap. 
Koola Buck continues to provide the most innovative and trusted products to keep your game meat safe from the field to your freezer with the introduction of the new Blood Red Game Bags. The bags are available in two sizes: Large for elk or big game quarters and Small for deer or antelope quarters.
The new Koola Buck Blood Red Game Bags are constructed from strong yet breathable cotton/poly fabric blend and feature heavy duty 1.5-inch nylon cinch/carry straps that are sewn into the bag for easy handling of heavy weight and attaching securely to a backpack or pack frame. The wide side gussets and seamless bottom allow for 20-percent more storage than the average pillowcase-style game bag. As an added protection of the precious cargo, Koola Buck has designed these new game bags with a  top-cover meat flap. This added flap completely covers the meat before pulling the bag’s locking drawstring, creating a physical barrier to block bugs, dirt and other contaminants.
The Large Blood Red Game Bag measures 42 inches long by 22 inches wide with a 6-inch gusset side for large quarters and a 14-inch top meat flap. The Small Blood Red Game Bag comes in at 30×18 inches with a 5-inch gusset and a 12-inch meat flap. Both bags are sold individually vacuum sealed for sanitation and easy packing. They take up very little room in your pack.
The new Blood Red Game bags can be found at select retailers nationwide or conveniently online at www.koolabuck.com for a suggested retail of $19.99 for the large and $16.99 for the small.
These new Blood Red Game Bags naturally hide stains and are strong, durable, washable and reusable. They will provide many seasons of dependable service. Use the Koola Buck Anti-Microbial spray on the bag or directly on the meat to reduce bacteria growth and to repel flies and other insects.
Headquartered in Brookville, Pa., Koola Buck is a leading designer and manufacturer of portable refrigeration systems, meat hooks, anti-microbial game bags, game-processing videos and the new Hide Ripper deer-skinning machine. For additional information on Koola Buck and its full line of products write to: Koola Buck, 494 Service Center Rd., Brookville, PA 15825; call (814) 849-9695; or visit www.koolabuck.com.

Shore Magazine, NEW for Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks has a NEW MAGAZINE. Read more!

  • Kick back, chill out, shed the stress…unplug, hammock time, escape…wind down
  • Go Prepared, get a copy of the new Shore Magazine…then, get it done at the lake

By David Gray

In Missouri, from St. Louis to Kansas City and all points in between, when you say I am heading to the Lake, everyone knows you are going to Lake of the Ozarks. Tucked into the central Missouri Ozark hills, “the lake,” as it is called, is 92 miles long and offers 55,000 acres for the ultimate recreational destination magnet.

In addition to fishing, boating, swimming and water sports, the lake area offers every kind of recreational activity you might ever consider.

Among the endless choices of things to do are annual events like the Magic Dragon Street Car Show, Shoot-Out Boat Races with every level of lodging accommodations, including camping, are available.

With all the recreational options, the lake area delivers something for everyone.

Maybe the best lake activity of all is to just “relax.” Call it by any name, kick back, chill out, shed the stress, unplug, hammock time, escape, wind down – you can get it done at the lake.

As of 2019, relaxing gets a boost from the new Shore Magazine. Many people miss good print magazines that have been replaced by internet communications. If you fear there will be no new good publications, chase that fear away with the new annual print publication, Shore Magazine, which focuses on boating and recreation at Lake of the Ozarks.

Let’s admit sitting on a deck at the lake, morning coffee in hand, laptop off, phone turned down…is the preamble for getting relaxed. Add to that equation, Shore Magazine, a new excellent quality print publication to browse thru and everyday stress starts to melt away.

Shore Magazine was a collaboration between Showcase Publishing and Nauticus Media, and both companies are well versed in serving the needs for the Lake of the Ozarks area.

The folks that run Showcase know a lot about lake life. Showcase Publishing did their first magazine 34 years ago. Showcase publisher David Leathers learned the newspaper trade from his father, Tom Leathers, who published the Squire Newspaper in Kansas City for many years. David used his newspaper experience to publish Kansas City Home and Gardens, his first glossy magazine.

Lisa Larsen and David Leathers unveil Shore Magazine at Lake of the Ozarks Boat Show.

David Leathers knows the Lake of the Ozarks area well. His initiation began when he started selling ads around the lake for his Dad’s newspaper, then later for his own magazine. In a few years, the flow of people relocating and moving from population centers of St. Louis and Kansas City grew and David realized the need for a new magazine. David brought out Lake Relo and it was the right magazine at the right time. Lake Relo continues to be a very popular lake area magazine. The success of Lake Relo spun another great publication with the title “SHL,” Second Home Living, which is distributed free around the lake area. David Leathers enjoyed not only working, but being at the lake and like many others, could not resist the second home experience. He used the knowledge that goes into his Lake Relo and SHL Second Home publications to soon find a lake home getaway.

Even for experienced businesses, it is never easy to produce a successful new product, but your first look at Shore Magazine will tell you this one hits the mark. At the recent Lake of the Ozarks Boat Show, the new Shore Magazine was unveiled. Lisa Larsen, Showcase Publishing operations manager, shared the extensive amount of planning and development that went into creating this masterpiece before the decision to go forward with the new magazine was made.

                      Articles for the first issue offer Lake of the Ozarks insight and news

The Shore Magazine subtitle is directed at boating on Lake of the Ozarks and it not only lives up to the subtitle promise, it exceeds it. Articles and information include Fishing, Boat Reviews, Lake Fashion, and Dining on and off the water, places to go, area things to do, lake lore and more. Every page of Shore Magazine offers quality and good-to-know info. Even the advertising, which is exceptionally well done, is enjoyable to browse.

Shore magazine is coffee table quality with high grade printing, spectacular photos and interesting content that will draw your attention to look twice. Get your copy of Shore, grab a coffee or libation, and go directly to your deck, dock or back of the boat. Take a seat, open the magazine, flip thru the pages and move the needle on your relaxing timetable to ON while at the Lake.

Shore is an annual edition magazine. The 2019 edition is ready and will be available at select marina and water locations around the lake for free. You can also get a paid subscription copy sent to your home or business at www.shoreboatingmag.com.

Fletcher Lake Lodge, Ontario – Back Home in Kansas City

  • If You’re Not Catching 100 Fish a Day, We’ll send a Guide with You
  • Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Musky
  • Fly-In Paradise in Ontario, Canada

Amid the hemlocks and Canadian morning silence, Fletcher Lake trophy pike are among regular catches.

By David Gray

Every January, Jeanne MacLean leaves the far north and makes a trek back to her home state of Missouri.  Jeanne says it is like “coming back home.”  She comes to visit friends and to set up a display in the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow for her Fletcher Lake Lodge.

Jeanne has many ties to Missouri. She was born and raised in Trenton, Missouri.  Her father, Fuzz LePage, was a career Missouri Highway Patrolman.  Few knew his real first name, everyone just called him Fuzz.  He had a love for law enforcement and when off duty, he had a love for flying.

When Jeanne was 14 and Fuzz had 20 plus years as a Highway Patrol Officer, Fuzz retired from active law enforcement and moved the family to Warroad, Minnesota.  Fuzz purchased a flight service business and began serving lodges, as well as anglers and hunters, flying customers and gear into remote Canadian locations.

One day on a return flight, Fuzz pulled back the throttle on his float plane, dropped into Fletcher Lake and taxied to the lodge dock. Fuzz wanted to meet the owners and thought he might pick up a new customer, offering them his flight services. In this part of Ontario, there are thousands of lakes, many of them gems, with Fletcher Lake being one of those diamond gems. The lodge owner informed Fuzz that his wife had recently passed away and he was going sell the lodge.

Fuzz made a quick return flight and told Jeanne, “Get a bank loan quick and buy Fletcher Lake Lodge.”

Jeanne did just that, buying the lodge in 1981.   The first part of the lodge was constructed in 1960.

Jeanne MacLean and her granddaughter ask, “Who’s ready for home-cooked breakfast?!”

Prior to the 1983 fishing season, a forest fire swept thru the region burning the camp and destroyed the lodge. Only one of the 14 structures, a guest cabin survived.  Considering the size of the rebuild task, it was amazing that their crew pitched in to rebuild the lodge and enough cabins to take care of all the incoming guests.

After High School, Jeanne worked for a year as secretary and then for a year at a Montana Elk hunting outfitter.  Then her dad called about buying Fletcher Lake Lodge.

Fletcher Lake Lodge is the longest continuous exhibitor in the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow.  She says working the show is much about getting to see friends and customers.  Almost all of the lodge guests rebook every year.

Watching folks stop at the Fletcher Lake Lodge booth in the sport show, it is obvious the customers are friends.  While interviewing Jeanne for this article, comments from customers were, “Absolutely the best walleye fishing” and “Magical fishing” and “Great fishing with wonderful lodge people” and much more.

Jeanne says her favorite day at the lodge is when the float plane arrives with new guests.  With a 90% plus rebook, the guests are all friends and each get a hug and give a hug when they get off the plane.  Nice way to start a fishing trip vacation!

Fletcher Lake is the only lodge on the lake. There are no roads to it. A short, but extremely scenic, 30 minute float plane ride from Kenora, Ontario, brings you to the lodge.

Two to five-pound Fletcher Lake smallmouth bass are fun to catch, especially when you can bring dozens to the boat in a day of peaceful fishing.

The lodge offers American Plan which is the most popular.  Breakfast and gourmet dinner is served in the lodge.  Lunch can be in the lodge, sandwiches packed for the day or the traditional shore lunch (PS – don’t ever miss a traditional shore lunch!).

There is absolutely nothing more delicious than a shore lunch cooked by one of the Fletcher Lake Lodge guides.

Fletcher Lake offers outstanding walleye, smallmouth and northern pike fishing.  It is Conservation fishing. You may keep only two fish a day for a dinner or shore lunch.  The lodge also has easy portages to a trophy lake and two musky lakes you can fish for the day.  The musky is said to be a fish of 10,000 casts, but Jeanne says at their musky lakes, “You won’t catch a 54-incher, but you will catch more musky in a day than you will believe.”  A rare and unique fishing experience only for guests of the lodge.  Most of the fishing is self-guiding, but Jeanne says if a boat with two anglers is not catching 100 fish a day, you are doing something wrong. We send out a guide to show places and how to catch them.

In 2018, three lady anglers (guests) were struggling a little on finding fish.  Jeanne sent them out with guides Shane and Kevin.  At the end of that day, total number of fish caught by the three ladies was 362.  Jeanne will not forget 362, as 362 was also Fuzz LePage’s Missouri Highway Patrol badge number. Now that’s pretty amazing.

Fletcher Lake Lodge has, along with other outfitters, teamed up with the Ontario Government to create a unique Trophy Waters program in the area.

Jeanne (left) shares dinner with guides, Kevin and Shane (back row), and 3 VERY HAPPY lady guests who caught 362 fish in one day!

Fletcher Lake Lodge is the only accommodation on Fletcher Lake and offers exceptional Canadian Fly-in fishing and hunting packages.  The remote location is only accessible by traditional Canadian bush planes and ensures exceptional fishing and hunting experiences.

Jeanne and Fletcher Lake Lodge can be reached in two ways: email and telephone. Their email address is: fish@fletcherlake.com and their phone contact is: Winter, 218-386-1538; Summer, 807-224-3400.

 

First Moments in Costa Rica – A Student Adventure

The front porch at the student center provided peace, quiet and tropical jungle at our footsteps.

  • Tropical Rain Forests, Ecology and Coffee
  • Endless Valleys, Lush Flora, Warm Climate Fauna
  • Chalupas, Refried Beans, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Gallo Pinto…Delicious Food

The lush mountains of Costa Rica offer uninhabited jungle,  small villages and pristine, clean air.

By Kiley Voss

The word “surreal” had been in my vocabulary several few weeks before leaving the United States. As the plane slowly descends, the mountains seem different somehow. They are seemingly more majestic, if only in the way rolling hills covered in trees can be, some partly covered by a few white puffy clouds, adding to the effect.

August 27th, 2018 – Day 1: This day had probably been one of the biggest leading-up-to-days of my entire life. All of the researching, applications, paperwork, scholarships, doctors, farms, preparations and packing for almost one year has led to this day. Success! Here I am in Costa Rica!

Studying Conservation Biology at SUNY ESF (State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry), I have used the second to last semester of my senior year to complete a study abroad program for three months in Costa Rica, taking classes and getting hands-on learning. The School for Field Studies (SFS) title of their program is Sustainable Development Studies, with classes in resource management, tropical ecology, environmental ethics and directed research.

Arriving at the SFS Center, after the bus took all 22 of us students down winding roads, through hills and valleys of lush emerald green flora, passing vibrant-colored one floor houses, cattle and dogs…and people in cars and on motorbikes, we saw our home for the next three months. It was located at the very end of a road just before the level land drops off into a valley.  The Center is more plants than buildings, with orange trees and mango trees, a pollinator garden, greenhouses, vegetable beds and composting areas (to make affordable mulch).

Driving in Costa Rica offers the exciting view of high-rising mountains and rolling hills galore.

Touring our new home briefly, we find the outdoor classroom, where in a few moments we will be having dinner. Dinner will always be served in the dark, as the sun sets at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will always be at 6 p.m. Wearing our rain boots, which is required of all of us after dark to protect ourselves from possible venomous snakes that are on our Campus Center, we head to the open classroom. We get our first taste of Costa Rican food as we make our own chalupas, an open-faced hard tortilla, in a buffet line style, with options in order of meat, refried beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and shredded cheese.

I’m still in awe. I can’t believe I’m actually here! There are so many noises that I hear outside my shared bedroom, that I don’t know if they are bird or monkey or insect, and that’s the weirdest, but most exciting thought! I am so used to hearing birds, mammals, or insects back in New York that I can place to the species if heard that this is a whole new world.

August 28th, 2018 – Day 2: Waking up with the sun at 5:30 a.m. today gave me time to journal on one of three hammocks we have on our dorm front porch, as well as two swinging chairs and rocking chairs. It was the absolute best. So peaceful. Time to think with nature. Looking out into the trees surrounding our view, I saw two hummingbirds and two ground birds, while hearing a variety of sounds that for the life of me, I can’t place.

Our front porch at the Campus Center provided the peace and quiet of nearby tropical forest. 

At 7 a.m., the breakfast bell rings, and the aroma of unknown food lures us to the kitchen. We find that the kitchen, which is at the very edge of the center and the hill that it sits upon, offers a beautiful overlook. Breakfast was absolutely delicious, a mix of rice and beans (which I would later find out is called gallo pinto), scrambled eggs and fried plantains, which are, put simply, a bigger form of a banana.

The kitchen window provided a bountiful view of our backyard.

Getting a tour of the farm, after learning about the cucumbers and peppers that are grown in the raised beds, one of the students spots a small brown body low on an orange tree. Looking more closely, we realize it’s an owl! I run quickly back to the dorms to grab my camera, and later learn it was a little Ferruginous pygmy-owl! An avid birder, this is a huge find because:

  1. Birds of prey are always harder to see in the wild than sparrows, finches, or other herbivore/omnivore birds are.
  2. An owl seen during the day is a rarity.
  3. After looking up the range of the species, I realize I would have never had the chance to see it in the northeastern U.S.

A common owl of tropical lowlands, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is often seen during the daytime (Cornell Lab of Ornithology).

This is the first time I have ever seen this bird and it may be the last. Thankfully, this bird’s “pinging” sound will be heard from our dorms all throughout the three months, I will later discover.

We continue on our day, learning about our home, this new country, and getting to know one another, getting our first glimpses at what life will be like here.

First thoughts of Costa Rica?

A grand adventure full of firsts, but I already know I’m going to love it here!

 

 

Fishing Chautauqua County, NY – as an Outdoor Writer LOOKING TO LEARN

Wade Robertson with a nice walleyue whopper, one of 30 nice 'eyes hooked that day.

  • Lake Erie offers access to schools of giant walleye from May to October
  • Chautauqua Lake provides opportunity for Monster Musky, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, and Walleye
  • Local Wineries and Microbrew Houses provide after hour and weather options that are unforgettable

Rob Oram, Fred Dwaileebe and Don Staszyck (L to R) with some nice size Chautauqua Lake walleyes.

By Wayne Brewer

Chautauqua County is located in the southwest corner of New York State. Lake Erie is on its’ northern border and Chautauqua Lake is located in the center of the county. Both Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake are premier walleye lakes and also have excellent musky and bass fisheries.

Andrew Nixon, Director of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, and Dave Barus, Fishing and Hunting Promotions Consultant for the Bureau invited me to participate in the Chautauqua Outdoor Media Fall Fish Camp. Dave organizes and hosts the fish camps. The goal of the Outdoor Media Camps is to introduce visiting outdoor media members to the fishing and hunting opportunities in Chautauqua County.

Our “Fish Camp” on Point Chautauqua at 6060 Orchard Road was a great campsite.

Although the camp focus is on fishing, there is a lengthy list of other activities to do such as deer hunting, winery tours, visits to state fishing access sites and hatcheries, hiking nature trails – like those offered at Panama Rocks Scenic Park, touring museums such as the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and sipping tasty beer at local micro-breweries. The 4-day camp is a great get away to fish, communicate with other outdoor writers to share ideas and enjoy some excellent homemade meals, all the while taking so much that Chautauqua County has to offer.

Our campsite was a private home located on Point Chautauqua, just off Route 430 at 6060 Orchard Road. It is a year-round heated two-story cottage with four bedrooms that could sleep nine or ten individuals. It has a fully equipped kitchen, dining room, living room, two bathrooms, a screened porch and washer/dryer. The cottage is located one street from Chautauqua Lake and had a path down to the lake where there was a dock and an available 14-foot aluminum boat for our use. Anyone that wants to bring their own boat can launch it a few miles down Route 430 at Long Point State Park and maintain it on a mooring buoy near the dock. The cottage is available to rent and anyone interested can visit: www.chautauqualakerental.com or email to: kvtabor@yahoo.com.

Upon arrival at the camp I met our host, Dave Barus, and the other attendees. They were Jim Proffitt, an outdoor columnist from Ohio, Wade Robertson, an outdoor columnist from Pennsylvania and his guest from Olean, New York, Fred Dwaileebe. After “meeting and greeting” we decided to have dinner at Guppy’s Restaurant and Tavern a couple of miles down Route 430. The restaurant has a full menu that ranges from wings and pizza to burgers, soups and salads, along with nightly specials. I had a great platter of mussels steamed in garlic butter wine sauce and topped with fresh tomatoes. I highly recommend stopping in Guppy’s anytime you’re in the area.

The fishing itinerary for the first day had Jim Proffitt and Dave Barus fishing for walleyes on Chautauqua Lake with Chautauqua Bassmaster Don Staszyck. Wade Robertson and Fred fished for walleye on Lake Erie with Captain T.J. Yetzer (Reel Time Charters, 585-764-2006). I fished Chautauqua Lake for musky and walleye with Frank Shoenacker (Infinity Charters, 585-406-5764 or http//www.infinitycharters.com). Frank uses a 17-1/2 foot Lund when he guides on Chautauqua Lake, though he also guides on Lake Erie with a 25-foot Pro-Line.

After enjoying Dave Barus’ “hole in one eggs,” sausage, toast, home fries and hot coffee for breakfast, we all made our own box lunches for ourselves and guides before heading out.

Captain Frank Shoenacker (Infinity Charters) holding one of several healthy white perch we caught on jigging Rapala lures.

I met Frank at Long Point State Park Marina on Route 430, located just a few miles south of our camp. We trolled for musky on the north end of the lake at about 3.5 miles per hour. We used Shimano rods with Penn reels strung with 80-pound braided line, and tipped with a couple of feet of 80-pound fluorocarbon line. The lures we used included RW Smith homemade musky lures, perch-colored Wiley musky lures and very large green spoons with black dots. We trolled several areas where Frank had been having success catching muskies, but the big lunkers were not feeding as a cold front was heading in.

We then switched to some lighter tackle and drifted for walleye using one-ounce perch-colored mooneye shimmer minnows and Rapala jigging raps. We were marking all kinds of fish, but like the musky, the walleye were also suffering from lock jaw, however, the white perch kept us busy. Some of them were nice size, so we focused on catching them. Frank told me that, “You fish for what’s biting!” So we did and had a great day catching one white perch after the other, bringing a few dozen home for a great fish fry.

Frank and I talked about walleye fishing on Chautauqua Lake and he told me that he considered the best time of the year to catch walleye was mid-May to mid-June. That time of the year he trolls along the outside edge of the weeds along shore with a slip-sinker worm rig because the bait stays in the cover of the weeds. Then as the bait moves out into deeper water, the walleye follow. He then drifts and jigs for the walleye using jigs. His preferred jigging lure is a Rapala jigging rap.

Don Staszyck with a couple of the walleyes he, Jim Proffitt and Dave Barus caught.

When Frank and I returned to the marina, we met Don Staszyck, Dave and Jim. We discovered that Don had a couple of secret hot spots for walleye, as each of the three anglers had limited out with 15 walleye, though they had also released at least that many again. Wade and Fred had a great day on Lake Erie and had limited with 24 walleyes as well.

Lunch and dinner each day was provided by Dave Barus and most of the delectable meals (secret recipes) were prepared by his wife Rosalie. Our meals included venison chili, homemade potato salad, chicken Alfredo, walleye cheek chowder, Sahlen’s grilled hot dogs and Rosalie’s mouthwatering homemade apple pie. During and after dinner, our outdoor clan invited our guides to join us as we shared excellent wine from Johnson Estate Winery, Merritt Estate Winery and Liberty Vineyards, all of these just a few minutes away.

Mother Nature threw us a curve on the second day of the fish camp. Wade Robertson and I were to fish Lake Erie for bass and walleye with Captain Yetzer, but the lake had six to seven-foot waves. It was just too rough to fish, but this was not an issue because when Dave Barus plans these events, he always has backup plans and alternative activities lined up. Dave had made arrangements for us to fish Chautauqua Lake for bass with Chautauqua Bassmaster President, Mike Russo.

Mike Russo and Wade Robertson with a couple of smaller Chautauqua Lake bass. 

Mike checked out a few areas earlier that morning before he picked us up and caught a couple of bass. Not long after, we headed back to fish these areas, but the wind picked up and the lake became angry. We threw everything in the boat at the bass, including spinnerbaits, jigs, grubs, crankbaits and even live bait, but could not entice even one hit. The bass had shut down completely. We tried different locations all over the lake until we entered a small channel that Mike said had put tournament anglers on the winner’s podium. It looked and felt promising, but we had no luck catching bass.

Julie Szur showing us one of the flies she makes and uses on Chautauqua Creek streams.

Half way down the channel, where it widened out, Mike and Wade were tossing spinnerbaits when a “cloud” of nice sized yellow perch swarmed up chasing them. We immediately decided to fish for the perch. Mike and Wade used the minnows and I used a small white plastic grub below a bobber. We caught perch on practically every cast. Not all the perch were keepers, but Wade and I ended the day with about 70 fish.

That night Julie Szur, a local fly fishing consultant and guide on stream fishing tutoring, joined us for dinner and gave a very interesting presentation that included a discussion different fly varieties and various fly-fishing techniques. Julie is an extremely knowledgeable and accomplished stream fishing expert. View her website at: www.flyfishingjulieszur.com and contact Julie at flyfishjulie@gmail.com or call 716-481-6619.

The next day Lake Erie continued with high seas, so instead of fishing for walleyes, Dave, Jim, Wade and I met Julie at Chautauqua Creek to check out the steelhead fishing. Dave and I were photographers while Jim, Wade and Julie fished. The creek was low and clear with very few fish, but Julie did entice one fish to strike her speckled streamer.

Julie Szur with her dog “Brookie” and Wade Robertson fishing for steelhead in Chautauqua Creek near Westfield, NY.

The Chautauqua Fall Fish Camp was an exciting and unique experience. All of us caught a lot of fish even though the wind kept some us off Lake Erie. It’s terrific to fish in Chautauqua County because there are several bodies of water to and no matter the weather, the waterways support a variety of different species of fish. There are six lakes in the county and 50 miles of Lake Erie shore line. There is no place in the county more than a few miles from open water. So, if you cannot fish one lake, you can fish another. If one species of fish is not co-operating, there are always other species to fish and if you cannot fish, there are plenty of other activities in the county to enjoy and have a great time. I highly recommend putting Chautauqua County at the top of your “places-to-visit” list.

For more information go to: www/tourchautauqua.com or call at (716) 357-4569. Be sure to request a Chautauqua County Visitors Guide to use as a reference for planning your getaway to Chautauqua. To keep updated on news and events, sign up for the monthly e-newsletter. For day-to-day news, join in the conversation on the Chautauqua County Facebook.

You can also check out Visit Chautauqua, to receive a downloadable APP for helping plan your trip.

Friends in Service of Heroes – F.I.S.H. – We Can All Help Their Cause

The Holiday Sportsman Show is proud to announce “Friends in Service of Heroes,” a veteran support organization as a deserving beneficiary of this sportsman show event.

A wise person said, “True greatness is not how much one achieves, but how much one gives.” Friends in Service of Heroes gives 100% of every dollar raised for the benefit of veterans and their families.

Click the image above to see a short video from a military veteran to learn about F.I.S.H. – it is our turn to serve.

F.I.S.H. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2013. Our mission is to make a positive impact and improve the quality of life for our troops, veterans and their families. We are here to serve the heroes that have sacrificed so much to enable all of us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today. There is nothing more fundamental to our country than the freedom which these great Americans provide to all of us. Freedom is not free and the sacrifice can never be repaid. F.I.S.H. is honored to stand in the gap and do what it can to serve those that have served our nation.

The Holiday Sportsman Show believes participation in outdoor sports activities creates a positive effect on the individual, the community and our country and is honored to support the men and women who have defended our freedom by supporting Friends in Service of Heroes.
The Holiday Sportsman Show is a digital online Holiday Sales Promotion for quality companies and businesses serving outdoor sports consumers. If your brand would like information on how to boost 4th quarter sales in the Holiday Sportsman Show while taking advantage of a zero cost marketing fee promotion.

To help F.I.S.H. please contact: Brooke@vexposhows.com

The Land of Giant Pike – Cree River Lodge, Saskatchewan

Giant Great Northern Pike are the norm for Cree River Lodge anglers.

  • Pike grow to OVER 50 inches here! TRUE GIANTS.
  • Catch 100’s of Fish Each Day of your Stay
  • Lindy Hammered Spoons and Muskie-Size Spinnerbaits Work Best for Pike
  • Catch Walleye Casting from the Dock!

By Mark Nelsen

Babe Winkleman and I share in the magical moment of catching a truly large Great Northern Pike. There are much larger pike here too. Ryan Schiller photo.

I’ve led a blessed life. As the former host (now retired) of Cabela’s Ultimate Adventures Television Show, I have fished and hunted around the globe, including a great number of fantastic fishing lodges in Canada.  My most recent fishing trip to Canada for a different TV show, has been by far, the most productive in terms of quantity and quality of fish.

When my phone rang recently and Fishing Hall of Fame legend Babe Winkleman was on the line, it didn’t take long to answer – the phone or his question. Would I accompany him to Saskatchewan to fish at the acclaimed Cree River Lodge with owner Pat Babcock? Cree River Lodge is noted for being the land of giant pike. In addition to monster pike, the lakes and rivers of this fishery are teeming with walleye and you can even find trophy grayling in a few spots. But Babe’s invite was to target big pike, and I was soon headed north to extreme northern Saskatchewan.

Cree River Lodge is unique in that there is virtually zero fishing pressure on this incredible water. It’s the only fishing operation in the area and there are hundreds of miles of water at your disposal.

It’s hard to sleep at night at Cree River Lodge, even after a hard day of catching giant fish, because the nighttime sky show of the Northern Lights is so amazing. Ryan Schiller Photo.

If you like adventure travel combined with great fishing, this is a place that should be on your must-go list. Babe Winkleman has been here several times with TV cameras in tow to film his show Good Fishing, and I was honored to be his guest for a few days at Cree River Lodge.

The lodge itself is a comfortable hub, with an elevated boardwalk leading to each cabin. Cabins have electricity, running water, private baths and heaters if needed. The generous and delicious meals are served in the main lodge. Anglers can bring their own tackle or the lodge can provide everything you need. There’s even a tackle shop in the lodge with all the proven artificial baits for sale on the spot should you run out or need backup. Great boats, gear and guides round out this ideal location.

Pike fishing for giants is so much fun among good friends, from L to R: Joe Marshall, Mark Nelsen, Pat Babcock (owner of Cree River Lodge) and Babe Winkleman. Ryan Schiller Photo

Medium-light spinning outfits are the popular choice to target walleyes, while heavier baitcasting outfits are the perfect option for pike. We used both braid and mono for pike and both worked equally well. Jigheads with plastics worked perfectly for catching more shore-lunch sized walleyes than you could ever eat (you can literally catch a walleye every cast and catch enough for lunch in five minutes from the lodge dock). If you want to target large walleye, a lot of anglers opt to troll for them pulling Hot’N’Tots. For pike, we stuck mostly with Lindy Hammered spoons or muskie-size spinnerbaits, which worked great, but you will pick up pike while jigging for walleye as well, so be prepared to lose some rigs when that happens. I call it getting “zing-powed.” It happens.

The giant pike up here are noted for their sheer vicious power and indescribably coloration. We released all the pike that we caught. Ryan Schiller Photo.

The other thing that will happen to you is that a big pike will hit your hooked-up walleye as you bring them in. It occurs every day here, so be prepared when it happens boatside and you get the surprise of your life!

On our trip, I had a goal to beat my best-ever pike (which was 40”). I did that the first afternoon, shortly after arriving at the lodge. We were jigging for walleye when a 41.5” pike hammered my jig and I had an awesome 10-minute battle with that fish on my light spinning outfit. A quick measurement and we released her back to the water, as they do with all the big pike at Cree River Lodge.

Also known for Grayling fishing, this is a must-go-to destination if your ever wanted to catch giant Northern Pike. Mark Nelson Photo

I broke that new record over and over each day, finally ending with a 46.5” monster pike for my best of the week. They get bigger here – well over 50”, but neither Babe nor I never hooked up with a true giant on this trip.

I couldn’t begin to tell you the number of fish we caught, and the number of big pike we caught. As I said earlier, you can catch a walleye on every cast, even from the dock, and the pike catch rate is not far behind that. Catching hundreds of fish a day here is not an exaggeration, it’s the norm.

Cree River Lodge offers several options for length-of-trip, and owner Pat Babcock and his staff are easy to work with to customize whatever trip you have in mind.

There are a couple options to get here – you can fly commercial to Saskatoon, then continue on Transwest (a regional air carrier in Canada), to Stony Rapids. Cree River Lodge staff will meet you at Stony Rapids, transport you by van for about an hour to a river landing, then it’s a short boat ride to the lodge. Another option is a weekly charter out of Edmonton, with a floatplane connection directly to the lodge. The Saskatoon route demands an overnight each way in Saskatoon, while the Edmonton option should only require an overnight on the inbound trip.

Cree River Lodge also offers spring bear hunting for monster black bears. Check them out at: http://www.creeriverlodge.ca.

ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES – Chautauqua County, New York is a premier destination for anglers

Chautauqua Lake is noted as a popular Musky fishery.

  • Bass, Walleye, Lake Trout, Musky…Imagine
  • All-you-can-eat Crab Legs
  • Sandy Beaches for kids and family fun
  • More than 20 Wine Tasting Vineyards within 20 minutes drive

Imagine this….6-pound smallmouth bass, daily limit walleye catches (6/person), musky, very large lake trout…it really is an opportunity for Endless Fun. Tyler Frantz Photo

By Tyler Frantz

DUNKIRK, New York- As the 150 Mercury engine on Buffalo-native Ken Christie’s Triton bass boat sliced across choppy roller waves, sending a chilling spray of Erie lake water onto our exposed faces with each downward smack of the bow, I felt the nervous excitement of a daredevil kid preparing for his first BMX stunt in unchartered territory.

It was my first time fishing lake Erie, and though the skies looked a bit ominous, my outlook was bright for the incredible angling opportunities I’d been told exist there.

Just the afternoon before, Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association’s newly retired Executive Director Dennis Scharadin and I had arrived at Sunset Bay Beach – home base for Chautauqua County Fish Camp – surprised to find a bustling Jersey Shore-like beach scene with sand, lakefront condos and upbeat tiki bars just a few miles down the road from the rural backwoods territory owned by the historic Seneca nation.

It had been a welcoming reception into camp, featuring a colorful dinner discussion with fellow writers at Cabana Sam’s Restaurant, where crab legs came “all you can eat” and Schuylkill County-folk would be happy to learn there was Yuengling Gold Pilsner on tap.

But the light-hearted banter of the previous evening now shifted to a serious focus on fishing, the real reason for making the 5-plus hour drive north- to sample some of what northwestern New York has to offer the traveling outdoorsman.

It took scant convincing, for with the first cast of a drop-shot tube into 27-feet of water, my rod tip was pulsing under the weight of a six-pound smallmouth- my very best bass to date.

Moments later….(Click the picture below to learn the other exciting details of this incredible trip.)

Cabana Sam’s (in the background) and their sandy Lake Erie beach is near and dear to the hearts of families looking for summer fun. Tyler Frantz photo

Kayak angling for sturgeon brings new sport to the Northwoods

Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish shows off the day’s first sturgeon, caught from a Hobie Pro Angler.

By Mike Pehanich

Sturgeon ancestry dates back to the dinosaurs. But catching these giants from a kayak, is a fresh new sport!

For us outdoor folks, Northwoods travel comes with great expectations. Anticipation grows feverish when the destination is a renowned fishery.

My destination this August was the Rainy River, fabled for its seasonal runs of walleye, cherished as the fertile connecting water to the diverse fisheries of Rainy Lake, its source to the east, and Lake of the Woods, the million-acre drainage to the west.

I arrived at River Bend’s Resort (www.riverbendsresorts.com)on the Rainy River, a short boat ride from the river’s mouth at the southeast corner of Lake of the Woods. My imagination waxed rosy with visions of walleye gobbling jigs, cartwheeling smallmouth bass, and lightning-quick attacks from northern pike and musky.

However, my hosts from Hobie Cat, the resort and Lake of the Woods Tourism had added a new wrinkle. They had relegated the game species the area is noted for to back-up roles. First we would challenge lake sturgeon, known more as a fish of mystery and an evolutionary survivor than as a target for sport fishermen.

My hosts had added another twist to the hunt. We would take the ancient brutes on from Hobie kayaks.

A sturgeon relies on the complex set of sensory and feeding organs in its nose including barbels to locate desirable forage and a highly functional snout made to stir up lake bottom and suck in food like a vacuum.

Anatomy of a sturgeon

One look at even an artist’s rendering of a sturgeon is enough to tell you that its family roots reach deep into the geological past. Credit its gift for survival to crude yet efficient characteristics acquired early in its evolution — a streamlined body built on bone and cartilage; a tail strangely fashioned for speed and maneuvering; an oddly tapered snout; an armor-like exoskeleton highlighted in younger specimens by a jutting serrated backbone; a complex set of sensory and feeding organs in its nose including barbels to locate desirable forage; and a highly functional snout made to stir up lake bottom and suck in food like a vacuum.

Sturgeon grow BIG, too, a trait that makes any species more desirable. Paul Johnson, the resort owner who served as both our guide and host, has witnessed catches of sturgeon up to 62 inches in length and 75 pounds. The river’s hook and line record, caught just this past May (2018), measured 75 inches in length and weighed well over 100 pounds.

Our Rainy River sturgeon had a comeback story to tell as well. Before the middle of the 20thcentury, overharvest and pulp mill pollution had endangered sturgeon populations in the region. Common sense initiatives set the stage for a mighty comeback. Environmental regulations led to improved water quality, and enlightened conservation measures and catch-and-release practice ushered in the robust, invigorated population found in the Rainy River and adjacent waters today.

It is a species more than worthy of protection. Sturgeon can live to a ripe old age, with some able to live 150 years or more and reach weights in excess of 200 pounds.

Pursuit

A sturgeon breached 50 yards offshore within minutes of my arrival at River Bend’s Resort, leaving no doubt that this was sturgeon country.

“In peak season in April, it’s boat-to-boat across the river along the Minnesota portion of the Rainy River,” explained Paul Johnson, who with wife Brandi owns River Bend’s and Walleye Inn resorts in Baudette, Minn.

Minnesota opens limited “keep” seasons for sturgeon in spring and summer, but most fishermen are content to release their quarry after doing battle. “A lot of sturgeon fishing’s popularity has to do with the size of the fish,” continued Johnson. “Most anglers aren’t targeting sturgeon to keep them. They just want the opportunity to catch these prehistoric monsters.”

Despite the clear presence of sturgeon in the area, local guides opined that we would find bigger numbers upstream near the town of Birchdale.

Catching sturgeon from Hobie kayaks offered a new challenge to anglers.

We launched our kayaks — a couple of Hobie Pro Angler 14s and i11S inflatable models along with several of the new Hobie Compass kayaks —  above Birchdale. Two sets of rapids made for a scenic and modestly adventurous start. From there, we eased our way toward prime sturgeon haunts, catching smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger and northern pike along the way.

Breaching sturgeon gave our party of eight a fair hint of where to anchor, though we wished we had had sonar units to pinpoint holes and other key feeding areas. We spread out along the river, and settled in for the game of patience known as sturgeon fishing.

Tackle and technique

We geared up with tackle tailored to a big fish brawl – mostly medium heavy to heavy rods and reels spooled with 50- to 65-pound braid.

Terminal tackle consisted of a swivel, short monofilament or fluorocarbon leader of no less than 20-pound test, a #2 to #4 circle hook and adjustable bell sinkers from one to four ounces in weight.

Our bait selection was an unglamorous mix of two to three nightcrawlers and recently thawed emerald shiners, the latter added “extra scent for the sturgeon to find the bait,” in Johnson’s words.

Jody Rae shows off her prize catch, a lake sturgeon, a throwback to prehistory.

The art of anchoring

We learned quickly that anchoring a kayak for sturgeon fishing in a moderately swift stream like the Rainy River is damn near an art form all its own.

“We use a breakaway buoy anchor and an anchor trolley system,” explained Kevin Nakada, the Hobie pro who guided us through the paces of this new skill. “With the system, you can position the kayak to fish comfortably in the current yet detach the kayak quickly from the anchor to fight the fish.”

The buoy anchor consisted of a 3.5-pound anchor and several feet of heavy anchor chain that more than doubled the anchoring weight. Sixty feet of anchor rope ran from the chain to the buoy, a conventional bumper buoy generally used to protect moored boats from banging into a dock. A 7-foot tagline, terminated with a bowline loop, ran from the buoy to the anchor trolley, a pulley system positioned on the starboard sides of our kayaks. The trolley allowed us to position the anchor tagline at the starboard stern of the kayak. Anchored thus, we could fish comfortably downstream without our kayaks struggling sideways in the current.

Fish on!

Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish, a Wisconsin-based organization dedicated to teaching women to fish with skill and confidence, earned the first hook-up. Sturgeon on, she freed her kayak from the buoy anchor and took off on a summer sleigh ride.

All of us within earshot rallied to her shout, detaching, too, from our anchor tethers and pedaling the Mirage Drives to close the quarter mile or more distances between us. The sturgeon made sure we had time to witness Barb’s battle and photograph the prehistoric fish.

Sturgeon are bulldogs in battle. They dive deep, pull drag and put serious strain on tackle. The highlight of many sturgeon battles, however, is a surprising aerial display.

Barb’s fish obliged with a writhing perpendicular leap. The sturgeon’s hang time drew cries of excitement from the convergence of kayakers. The fish’s size and profile doubled the excitement.

For anglers like Barb Carey, sturgeon fishing is all about the catch…and safe release!

Even a modestly proportioned sturgeon possesses considerable strength, evidenced in the tugboat rides it took the kayaks upstream and down. Interestingly, the drag of the kayak allows the angler to battle these big fish even with limited line capacity.

Paul slugged it out with another sturgeon an hour later. Then action lagged for the rest of the afternoon.

Evening was closing in when writer Jody Rae’s rod bent into a throbbing arc. Whoops and hollers signaled a special fish, and we all converged on the day’s closing action. When the fish finally tired after a long battle, Kevin Nakada snared it with a tail noose. He carefully led the subdued fish the short distance to shore where Jody and fish posed for photos.

It was a fitting end to a fabulous adventure, a meeting with a fish from prehistory on legendary water during the dawn of a new sport.

Paul and Brandi Johnson, owners of River Bend’s and Walleye Inn (www.riverbendsresorts.com)resorts in Baudette, MN, run guided fishing trips for sturgeon as well as for other Lake of the Woods and Rainy River sport fish (walleye, northern pike, sauger, perch, smallmouth bass and crappie). Hobie kayak rentals are available as well. Contact Lake of the Woods Tourism (www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com ; 1-800-382-FISH ) for additional information on sport fishing, lodging and area activities.

 

Light Wizards of the Midnight Woods

We discovered this book while visiting the Black Caddis Ranch B&B and it started us on a new adventure with the outdoors that we will enjoy or all time. Radim Schreiber Photo.

 

We can all connect to nature with our visits with fireflies. They seem to talk with us if you listen, especially in Tionesta, Pennsylvania. Click picture for a visit to the Firefly Experience. Radim Schreiber Photo

By Forrest Fisher

The half-moon rising in the distant eastern sky was dim and sheltered by scattered, giant, white clouds. The openings in the clouds allowed us to see millions of stars and the vastness of the Milky Way as we have never seen before. There were no streetlights anywhere within miles of this cheerful and peaceful mountaintop place and the crackle of the fire was adjusting to the new log. It provided the perfect music to especially enjoy this time of day.

Our adventure into the outdoors took a wonderful turn this summer when Peggy tossed a new log onto the simmering campfire. The sunset was just about complete, a stream of beautiful tinsel sparks rose upward. It was a warmly coded skyward message to life in the night woods, and to us, that darkness had arrived.

Rose, my wife of 49 years, had a warm smile like she often does, as she was discussing some fine points of nature and observing wildlife with our granddaughter. Kiley was completing a summer research internship for the State University of New York Environmental School of Forestry in Syracuse, New York, as a senior college student. I sensed that science and adventure were finding common ground. Rose had questions about the recipe to observe the ancient winged ancestors that lived here, just as they started to light nearby fields and forest.

Peggy’s sister, Barb was visiting with her two nieces, Molly (9) and Carly (12), and the girls had noticed the blinking lights of the fireflies too.  Molly noticed them first, “Aunt Peggy, look there! There they are! Wow! They’re beautiful!” Carly added, “Why do they light up and blink like that Aunt Barb?” A short silence followed as Barb looked to Peggy who prepared to answer, “Well, the fireflies that light up are the boy fireflies and they’re calling to the lady fireflies to show them where they are. They’re looking for a date. It’s that simple.”

The flight of the fireflies applauded with intricate light beams in a code that seemed to match the rhythm and Ukulele tone of music around the campfire.  

Peggy smiled. Barb smiled. Rose and Kiley smiled. Carly answered, “Oh, ok, I get it.”

Just then Molly rose from her fireside chair and ran onto the backyard lawn. Molly cheered, “Look at all the fireflies!” The back lawn was skirted by a knee-high grassland meadow around the backyard perimeter. Kiley went to Molly and added to the conversation about fireflies and explained the great job that her Aunt Peggy and Uncle Ken had done with helping everyone in the whole world understand more about fireflies at this ranch.

Rose and I shared thoughts about these intriguing airborne insects of the night. Do they carry a message for us all? It seems that fireflies offer magic and wonder to every outdoor adventure where the land and air is clean, like here, in the middle of this wonderful Pennsylvania woods just south of the Allegheny National Forest, in Tionesta, Pennsylvania.

We all sat there in awe of all the twinkling airborne light forms. Hundreds and hundreds of them. My mind transcended to an effortless zone of harmony and wonder for a moment, a thought-binding moment.

There is mystical, divine and magical experience from the light of a true firefly experience like this. I sat back into my chair and looked at the embers of the fire, then upward to the thousands of stars of the Milky Way shining bright. How lucky we were to be here.

Just then Kiley started to strum her Ukulele, sharing the chords played with Molly and Carly. She said, “This is a C, E minor, F, G and A minor, that’s it, pretty easy with a little practice,” Would you like to try it? That was Peggy’s que to bring her Ukulele out from the house to join in. Two Ukulele’s at the same campfire! We all knew this was one special night for our memory book of perfect medley. Kiley and Peggy were strumming and singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and the flight of the fireflies surrounding us seemed to be applauding with their brilliant intricate flashes in some sort of light beam code. Where is Peter Pan? I was thinking. Like the two ladies playing the music and all of us singing or humming along (I can’t sing), were on their stage. Tin Man and Judy Garland were there in spirit. There were bears, wolves, trout and other critters of nature alive in our campfire talk.

That’s when I learned that we can talk to fireflies.

We can question them. They reply. Feel the connection by virtue of the extraordinary light gallery.

We discovered this book while visiting the Black Caddis Ranch B&B and it started us on a new adventure with the outdoors that we will enjoy or all time. Radim Schreiber Photo. 

We can all connect to nature by our visits with fireflies. Such visits require no special gear. A comfortable chair, perhaps, a glass of wine from a grape aging specialist, Gregg Stoos, and a quiet campfire with friends.

The fireflies, like guiding spirits, dance to challenge the darkness with their light.

They hover and move silently through the darkness.

Their movement and motion with different color light can appear to write a letter or a symbol. Are these the source for early Greek symbols? The roots of math? My mind wanders and wonders.

The fireflies provide a sure source for wonder…are they sharing a language not yet known to us? A secret code? Perhaps early settler groups to North America could understand this code? I ask myself. Is it a computer code? A binary switch of sorts? A prismatic code not yet known to us? Does it lead to a vault of undiscovered knowledge?

Whatever signals the night light beacons of the fireflies share, to watch them is enlightening.

All these thoughts, yet, so many questions in wonder, how can that be? I ask myself.

I realize I am so relaxed, so mesmerized by the flight of these miracle insects that fly with lighted inspiration. Everyone sitting around the campfire is too.

The Black Caddis Ranch B&B and Cabins in Tionesta, Pennsylvania, offered all the comforts of home and more, with delicious breakfasts, peaceful parlor rooms, and new friendships with fireflies and hummingbirds. Click the picture for more.

Just being near these fragile airborne creatures of the night is such a reward to cherish. For us astonished onlookers, their intricate behaviors seem to share a virtue of loving life and respect for one another.

As the music lessened, the magic around the campfire was evident to all. This Black Caddis Ranch place is a really special place, as we were isolated to the darkness of this perfect night with a band of chivalrous fireflies that led us to enjoy a nighttime gallery of airborne art to appear all around us.

Kiley added, “Each firefly species is different and has a season. Their season can be predicted by growing degree days, it’s a sort of farm language. Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are out during June about the time the orange daylilies bloom and usually peak at end of June. The “big dippers” or photinus pyralis, start to appear at the beginning of July.” Rose and I returned home the next day to sit in our backyard about three hours north. We saw some fireflies there too, but nothing like what we saw in Tionesta, Pennsylvania.

Peggy and Ken Butler host a wonderful Bed & Breakfast Lodging House called the Black Caddis Ranch in Tionesta, Pennsylvania, it is home to the Pennsylvania Firefly Festival, and I guess we know why now. There is firefly magic in this special place. The spacious accommodations are wonderful and are modernized amidst a home that was built in the 1800’s. Real wood floors and walls and kitchen tables, a giant stone fireplace in the front parlor, complete with homemade pancakes and maple syrup from nearby trees, and a myriad of other breakfast goodies, this all made this place that sort of place that my better half and I search for…and only hope to find. Peggy and Ken, and many close friends, are the originators of the Pennsylvania Firefly Festival (PAFF, https://www.pafireflyfestival.org/) that is hosted at their ranch, but there are fireflies present on most summer nights.  It’s a magical place.

We’re going back to be inspired by the night flight of fireflies, the Milky Way, a quiet campfire and honest friends. The daytime song and buzz of hummingbirds adds to the peace and magic found here.

For more info: Ken and Peggy Butler – Black Caddis Ranch B&B and Cabins, 13558 Route 666, Tionesta, Pa., 16353. Phone: (814) 463-7606. Web: www.blackcaddisranch.blogspot.com and also https://www.pafireflyfestival.org/.

 

Going to Disneyworld or WOW?

Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to Johnny Morris’s mother and father who always found the time to take him fishing.

  • Johnny Morris, the Walt Disney of the Outdoors, Opened WOW in 2017
  • Museum offers more than 1.5 miles in Authentic, Immersive Habitats
  • Celebrating People who Hunt, Fish and Act as Stewards of the Land and Water
  • Walk to the depths of the Ocean here!

By David Gray

Kids love it.  The Aquarium was recently voted the best in the USA, it is spectacular. 

Thinking about taking the kids to Disneyworld? 

It’s expensive, but you know the kids enjoy it.  Did you know there is a less costly alternative the kids will enjoy and the adults will too?!  It is WOW, the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium. 

WOW recently opened in Springfield, Missouri, immediately adjacent to Bass Pro Shops.  A creation of Johnny Morris, the Aquarium and Museum is one of those places to visit that cannot be properly described by the written word. 

WOW is not a place you visit, it is a place you experience.  Visit once, you immediately realize it is a concept intended for our kids and adults of this century.  It appeals to your eyes, ears, and vision to share in the wonder of nature, animals, fish, birds and our human civilization into the future.  You will want to return.

Kids of all ages love it.  The Aquarium was recently voted the best in the USA, it is spectacular.  It is not just one aquarium, there are many aquariums displaying fresh and salt water fish in their natural settings. 

You and the kids will find yourselves looking at the aquarium, under the aquarium, over the aquarium and even walk inside an aquarium with live fish all around you.  It is an all-day activity.  On my recent visit, I never saw one youngster that lost interest.  It is a certainly a big “wow” for the kids.

Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to Johnny Morris’s mother and father who always found the time to take him fishing.   

The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium is one of those places to visit that cannot be properly described by the written word. 

A great family vacation is waiting.  Visit Wonders of Wildlife one day in the near future.  Visit Bass Pro Shops the next day. 

Head down to Branson, Missouri, just a short drive south of Springfield, for family fun at Silver Dollar City and take in many other family attractions. 

The best may be a day of fishing on Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo. 

A plaque in the Aquarium says “Take a kid fishing, you’ll be glad you did.”   Your kids will be glad you found the time to take them fishing.

Springfield, Missouri, is in middle of the Ozarks region, which sits in middle of the continental United States.  It is easy travel from any part of the country.  Commercial flights are available to Springfield and Branson airports.  Driving on I-44 from St. Louis, it is less than 3 hours to a great WOW family experience.

Visit www.BransonGrups.com or call 1-800-268-4014 or more info.

Watch the video to understand just how this incredible place will appeal to your inner nature and passion for the outdoors. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXQGA1W1JPc

BOATUS ALERT: NEW YORK’S RECREATIONAL BOATERS NEED TO ACT NOW

Boaters in New York State may be negatively affected by a proposed new legislation that would require all boaters to go back to boating school, regardless of age or experience.

  • Proposed legislation to have ‘adverse impact’ on boating

By Scott Croft

Tens of thousands of boaters will be affected by newly proposed legislation in New York State.

WHAT: The New York Senate and Assembly are considering legislation, SB 9092 and AB 9806a, that would require all boat operators in the Empire State to complete a boating safety course within one year. Currently only those born after May 1996 must meet this requirement. While Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) firmly supports boater education, these bills will have an adverse impact on boating in New York.
WHY: With our experience as a leading advocate of boating safety for more than 50 years, BoatUS recognizes the bills’ proposed expansion to require education for all New York boaters within such a short time period would be nearly impossible to meet. With a limited number of approved instructors, expansion of classes to meet demand will be a challenge. And for those taking paid courses, the costs will undoubtedly increase. As the state’s only authorized provider of a free New York online boating safety course, it is our assessment that SB 9092 and AB 9806a are a step backward in making boating safety education more accessible for all New York boaters, anglers and sailors.
HOW: Please contact your state representatives now to ask them to oppose these bills and urge them to work with BoatUS and others in the recreational boating safety community to develop smart improvements to the state’s boating safety laws.
Click Take Action to be taken to a prefilled message.
WHO: BoatUS is the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety organization with more than 33,000 dues-paying members in New York and more than a half million nationwide. BoatUS is the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill, helps ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins, and when boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program gives boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. BoatUS also helps keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the member-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water.

Franklin, Pennsylvania – an Outdoors Treat for Mind and Heart

Peace and bronzeback fun abound on the Alleghany River near Franklin, Pennsylvania.

  • Trout Stream Fishing, a Spring Hatch, Fly Rod Fun 
  • Smallmouth Bass, Light Lines, Tube Jigs, Screeching Drags, Double-Headers…a Musical Concert!
  • Riverside Camping near Franklin, Pennsylvania – Campfires, Peace, Eagles, Blue Sky…Unforgettable

By Forrest Fisher

The morning fog rising off the Allegheny River as it flows through mountain valleys and near lands where footsteps have likely not yet travelled. Breathtaking to see in person.

Last week was a journey week for Fern and I. We hitched up the GMC-1500 and travelled to Pennsylvania for a visit with fellow outdoor writers to share ideas, toss a few fishing lines, compare shotguns, quip about each other’s hair loss and joke about how we might climb the tallest mountain to hunt turkey where no one else could possibly be.

Some of us are getting too silvery between the ear lobes to climb much of anything that some might call a mountain – like the stairs to the second floor of the hotel. Still, we kid about it, it’s fun. It helps to laugh, since according to Fox News, laughing helps us all keep younger, the ultimate quest.

As writers, we share our love of the outdoors in every aspect. We talked about fishing rods, reels, boats, 4-stroke engines, shoes, waders, braided lines and fly lines, firearms, new laws, arrows, bows, boots, deer ticks, health insurance and the cost of gas, not necessarily in that order.

My friends in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association are from an elite group of outdoor folks that love to share the one thing they want to help others find out about – the outdoors. The fun of hiking, fishing, camping, hunting and all the rest.

New terms in the last few years include kayaks, mountain bikes, mini-backpacks, ceramic forks and our dependency on space age communications…‘er, cellphones. We all agreed that the world seems to think we need these gizmos. We did not talk about Chinese exports and our own American need to overconsume everything, thank goodness, since the microbrews tasted so good.

Western Pennsylvania near Oil City and Franklin, offer a step back into American history, American values, culture and the outdoors, all quite refreshing in our modern day and age.

One evening as we walked down Main Street from our affordable and comfy Quality Inn hotel room in downtown Franklin, Pennsylvania, my wife said, “Isn’t it great to see families holding hands, talking and walking from one small shop to another, window shopping and just enjoying conversation?” Who could disagree?

Franklin is special in that regard, besides being right next to Oil City, where our life in the petroleum world started long ago. We are all lucky to live in America, but I was considering that we were really fortunate to find a place like this highly valued town. So to share more about this for friends and vacationers, if you’re looking for a clean, wholesome and healthy place to visit this summer, check out this National Heritage Oil Region in western Pennsylvania, where oil was discovered. I know, who of us knew?!

Home that were built hundreds of years ago and used during Revolutionary War periods still dot the landscape along the Allegheny River. 

We visited the DeBence Antique Music World as a touring stop and we heard the sound of beautiful birds outside trying to overcome the music inside, all coming from mechanized musical instruments that were on museum display and were played for us visitors. Some of these things were straight from the Wild West and the Matt Dillon timeframe – including church air organs. I felt like we were in a time machine. The mosaic of musical gear we observed, provided a symmetry of sound that was beautiful, unamplified, all natural, and was mostly using simple air, simple springs, and old-fashioned ingenuity. No hidden circuitry, if you know what I mean. No permission to share your name, pictures, location or personal information. I miss those days.

We walked a bit farther down the sidewalk, passing undisguised church steeples and wooden-front stores and shops, all still in use, many built in the late 1700’s.

Spring flowers were in bloom alongside the shop venues when we stopped with our writer friends to have dinner at Benjamin’s Roadhouse. Simple wooden tables, wooden floors, a 200 year-old bar and undisguised comfort. We enjoyed live music too, blues and rock, from a group called the Max Schang Trio – you gotta love base, drums and guitar simplicity, half of us were singing! It was that melancholy good.

As we drifted back to the hotel to refuel our energy for the next day and a fishing adventure on the Alleghany River, our conversation embraced the unfussy life of the old days and life in the outdoors, and how good we felt visiting this town.

Healthy smallmouth bass that weighed-in at more than 5 pounds were caught by our friends and I… fun? I could only say…WOW! Yes!  We landed more than 40 fish in just a few short hours. An unforgettable day on the river.

The next day, we each caught several dozen smallmouth bass casting trouble-free tube jigs. Simple fishing, albeit from a modern watercraft and using Gamma brand braided line – the good stuff, and made right in Oil City. Still it was simple, drag-screeching fun.

We observed campers in simple pop-up tents that had hiked down to the river bottom to overnight a stay and fish the shoreline of the river. Watching them cook breakfast took me back to my young family days and camping. Camping is much more than a place where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person! Many joke about that.

This adult bald eagle was having an argument with a red-tailed hawk that had decided it was better to find another meal and live another day. The bird-to-bird argument was audible from several hundred yards away – another unforgettable moment on the Allegheny River near Franklin, Pennsylvania.

Camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, even a simple lunchtime break, all allow us to observe nature and sort of “find ourselves.” Some say we all quest to find a deeper understanding for all things outdoors.  Maybe, but we will find fresh air, silence, the sound of the wind shifting through the trees, the music of water rushing over rocks in a creek, and other hidden things that to learn more about outside. All devoid of over-complexity. In the outdoors, with nature, we look to form a special bond with our own universe and the simple natural world. 

If we are lucky, we share such essential time with those special people that we share life with, our family and friends.

For more about this region, visit: www.oilregion.org.

STRONG AS AN OXX…Camp Coffee when You Want It

 

  •  Like Coffee? Get Camping Much? You Might Need This.
  •  Portable TOUGH Coffee Maker that Takes Any K-Cup.
  • My Search is Over!

The family firepit – camping with OXX, the aroma and taste of fresh coffee to honor those sacred moments we share among dancing flames.

By Larry Whiteley

A recent Harvard School of Public Health study showed 54% of Americans drink coffee and you can count me into that percentage.

I enjoy my coffee as I sit at my desk in the early morning hours writing articles and piloting radio shows. It helps keep my mind clear as I craft the words I need to write.

A thermos of coffee warms my hands while sitting in a treestand waiting for a deer to come by my hiding place or in a blind waiting to hear a booming gobble as the sun starts peeking over the hills.

Steam rises from my coffee as I sit in the boat, in the darkness, listening to the water lapping against the sides and watching the colorful morning sunrise reflecting in the water.

Ready to travel with OXX for my hot coffee.

I sip coffee as I sit around the campfire by myself in the morning darkness, watching the flames dance, and listening to owl’s talking to each other.

I have always made my coffee at home and took it with me in a thermos or insulated mug on my outdoor adventures. Sometimes I just stop by the local convenience store, but they don’t always have the flavor of coffee I like. Besides, according to the same Harvard study I mentioned earlier, the average price for a brewed cup of coffee is a $1.38 and I’m kind of a frugal guy, but my wife says a better word is “cheap”.

I knew I couldn’t take my single-cup coffee maker with the fancy name “out there” because it would have broken in no time with water and coffee all over everything.

So, I have been searching for a coffee maker that I could take with me on fishing, hunting and camping trips where I was staying in an RV, cabin, lodge or motel.  It’s been a long search for years, as I enjoy making my own coffee instead of the usual watered-down variety you get in some places.

Workhorse coffee pods, I’m a dark and bold guy.

In my search, I found out that most public and private campgrounds across America now have campsites with electrical hook-ups. So I can brew my favorite coffee even when I’m camping out if I could just find the right coffee maker.

To be able to travel with it, I knew I wanted it to be like the old saying goes “strong as an ox,” as well as impact-resistant, durable, spill-proof and portable, and if it had its own travel bag that would hold everything needed, that would be nice too. I also wanted to be able to use it on my kitchen cabinet at home or take it out to my workshop when I wanted. Ask for the sky! Why not?

During my continued search, I was surprised to come across a coffee maker called “OXX,” just like the saying, but with an extra “X”. I then did more research and found that in the wagon-based settlement of the American West before the railroad, a team of oxen were preferred over horses to plow fields, bust sod, remove boulders, stumps and other heavy tasks because they were stronger and tougher than horses.

The OXX COFFEEBOXX was designed for construction workers who needed something strong and tough enough to make coffee on their wild jobsites. A lot of construction workers also enjoy all the outdoors has to offer and they soon discovered, since it was tough enough for work, they could also use it for all their outdoor adventures. AND, it was everything I was searching for.

The OXX travel bag carries everything you need.

They also offer single cup “Workhorse Coffee” which is very good. I like the “Dark & Bold,” but I have tried the “All Day Smooth” and the “2X Caffeine,” and I like them too. But if you still have to have your own brand, any coffee pod will work in the OXX and they even have reusable pods for your favorite ground coffee.

Now if someone would just come up with a small, reasonably priced, portable power unit I could plug my OXX COFFEEBOXX in and brew my favorite cup of coffee when I am completely off the grid and deep in the wilderness, I would be one happy man.

Go to www.oxx.com and check out the “strong as an ox” OXX COFFEEBOXX.

 

 

Parsons, Kansas: Warm Country, Warm People, Big Deer and Lots of Turkey

  • No Traffic, Multiple Turkey Species Greet Visiting Outdoors Folks
  • Visit Parsons to meet and greet the Heartland of our USA

Labette County, Kansas, offers sportsmen the adventure of a lifetime.

By David Gray

The day started with the anticipation of attending the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas conference in Labette County, Kansas.  The travel was to Parsons Kansas which is nestled in the southeast corner of Kansas, just west of Missouri, just north of Oklahoma.  May 7, 2018 was a day well spent. 

The drive to Parsons, Kansas, delivers a calm serenity. Turning south out of Kansas City the land quickly transcends from what some call city to what many call country.  Hills, trees, and fields blend into scenery of all that nature presents in the heartland of America.

The highway is not clogged bumper to bumper. You drive with goodwill and absorb the view.  A landscape of nature dotted with horses, cattle, turkey and deer.  Everywhere you look is a place you would like to hike thru.

The land is changed from when it was part of the Cherokee nation, but a steady look can reveal many things that are much the same. Sameness in this light is a good thing.

Parsons, Kansas, is as so many towns in the heartland, full of people that are happy to see you and are happy themselves. Maybe some of their happiness comes from living so close to the land. The land opens its arms to greet you and presents itself ever so differently from the concrete, pavement, buildings and congestion of the metropolitan environment.

With only 10,500 people that reside in this peaceful city…Parsons, Kansas is one of those special places that many sportsmen consider among their top 10 places to take a hunting and fishing vacation.

This part of Kansas was well chosen by the Kansas Outdoor Communicators for a conference on how the outdoor media might best serve those who need to revisit the outdoors on a more regular basis. At the same time, the gathering introduced the area to those of us who also find time spent outdoors the best way to spend our time.

Multiple species of turkey are present here, making Parsons a place to remember for future gobbler hunting.

A great part of the outdoors is fishing and hunting. The Cherokee did it, our European ancestors did it and we Americans continue to do it. Those who do it best, do it with respect and connection.

Mixed with the conference business meetings and discussions, the attendees went to the land and water to participate. There are so many outdoor opportunities in this southeast corner of the great state of Kansas.

Maybe the best thing about Parsons, Kansas, is that people not only look at you and smile, but stop and talk to you.  You may get asked where you are from and you likely get a warm welcome and sociable, “Thanks so much for visiting!”    

That is nice. This place is special.

 

TRIPLE-UP WINTER FUN in Chautauqua County, NY

 

  • Anglers – Ice Fish for Walleye
  • Hunters – Get Ready for Goose Season
  • Families: It’s Maple Syrup Time and Late Winter Adventures

Brock Windoft of Lakewood, NY, with a beautiful winter musky caught and released from Chautauqua Lake ice.

Chautauqua, New York – Feb. 22, 2018: Winter Fishing – Anglers on Chautauqua Lake have enjoyed one of the finest ice fishing seasons in several years. Huge crappie over three pounds, walleye over 10-pounds, lots of toothy musky – some better than four feet long, as well as bluegills and yellow perch, all have been testing the lightweight winter fishing lines of anglers from Mayville to Jamestown. Hard ice off the north side of Long Point has provided excellent fishing, though anglers accessing the lake from the Mayville Town Park parking area have enjoyed good catches as well. With spring warming trends, the once solid ice of 10-12 inches thickness will thin quickly.  Open water flows from tributary creeks will soon begin and runoffs from warming canals will initiate the onset of early crappie fishing for hardy anglers, well ahead of the usual calendar start.  For the latest fishing news, check with Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut, www.hogans-hut.com/, 716-789-3831 or Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors, www.chautauquareeloutdoors.com/, 716-763-2947.

Shotgun Hunters: Canada geese – they abound as a golden Chautauqua opportunity for 5-bird daily bag limits with the nine-day late Goose Hunting Season that runs March 2-10. Cackling geese and white-fronted geese may be taken as part of the Canada goose daily and possession limit. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Snow geese season is open now too, they may be taken by special Conservation Order through April 15, daily limit is 25 birds. The geese species, possession limit is three times the daily limit, except for snow geese. Use of non-toxic shot required and hunters should remember that the possession limit is the maximum number of birds with you in the field, at home, in transit or in storage. For special hunter regulations visit: www.dec.ny.gov.

Maple Syrup Family Adventures – the sunny winter weather has been with us, maple tree sap is flowing in Chautauqua County. Maple weekends are just ahead: March 17-18 and March 24-25, 2018. There are three Sugar House Sites that will offer free, family-oriented events to learn about maple syrup making, each site offering different “See & Do Fun,” many with free samples. Mmmm! Learn about boiling tree sap, filtering, bottling, packaging and making maple sugar candy. Enjoy horse drawn wagon rides, hiking tours, other activities.  Events run no matter rain or snow or shine. Wear boots. Add these stops to your schedule: Big Tree Maple, 2040 Holly Lane, Lakewood, NY,14750, www.bigtreemaple.com, 716-763-5917; Clear Creek Farm, 5067 Morris Road, Mayville, NY, 14757, www.clearcreekfarms.us/, 716-269-2079; Fairbanks Maple, 9265 Putman Road, Forestville, NY, 14062, www.facebook.com/FairbanksMaple/, 716-965-4208.

For any of these outings, spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast, a warm winter cottage or a deluxe winter water playground hotel. Some options: http://www.tourchautauqua.com/where_to_stay.aspx.

Outdoor Media Contact: Dave Barus – Fishing & Hunting Promotions Associate, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; email: dbarus35@yahoo.com; Cell: 716-597-4081.  Visitors Bureau Travel/Accommodations Contact: R. Andrew Nixon, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; Office: 716-357-4569; email: nixon@tourchautauqua.com; web: http://www.tourchautauqua.com; www.Facebook.com/Tour.Chautauqua.   

 

Planning to Visit Alaska? FREE Fairbanks Visitors Guide

  • Learn WHEN TO SEE the Aurora Borealis and the Midnight Sun
  • Learn About WHERE TO STAY 
  • Learn WHEN TO VISIT Denali National Park

Click on the picture to obtain your free visitors guide.

Fairbanks, Alaska (AK) – The Explore Fairbanks 2018 Official Visitors Guide, a 78-page, full-color booklet that describes Fairbanks’ year-round opportunities, is now available for free. The annual publication is designed to capture the features and attractions specific to life in the region. Fairbanks is defined by the midnight sun, the Aurora Borealis, the centrally located Chena and Yukon Rivers and many miles of wilderness.

Fairbanks delineates the Aurora Season as August 21 through April 21, when visitors have the opportunity of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Fairbanks’ location is ideal for northern lights viewing because it is under the “Auroral Oval,” a ring-shaped zone where aurora activity is concentrated. Additionally, Fairbanks’ low precipitation and distance from coastal areas contributes to consistently clear nights. All combined, these conditions make the Fairbanks Region an outstanding destination for Aurora viewing. Conversely, the Midnight Sun Season runs from April 22 through August 20. The midnight sun shines brightly for the whole summer with the most sunlight occurring between May 17 and July 27, when Fairbanks experiences 70 straight days of light.

Known as the “Golden Heart of Alaska,” Fairbanks is located in the center of Alaska and serves as the basecamp for Alaska’s vast Interior and Arctic. Places situated nearby are Denali National Park and Preserve, the Arctic Circle, Chena Hot Springs, North Pole and a myriad of villages, refuges and parks. The Arctic is featured prominently as Fairbanks is the hub for travel, research, supplies and transportation to the area. The guide highlights year-round activities available in the frontier community that include fishing, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, hiking, visiting museums and floating the Chena River. Additional activities take place during the winter months, such as dog mushing, ice sculpting, snowmobiling and skiing. The guide also features exhibitions, attractions and performances focused on Alaska Native heritage, contemporary arts and gold rush history.

The calendar section details significant events including the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the Midnight Sun Festival. The guide also lists a wide variety of seasonal and year-round accommodations, services, restaurants, shopping and attractions.

For a free copy of the 2018 Fairbanks Visitors Guide and the companion piece, the 2017-2018 Fairbanks Winter Guide, contact Explore Fairbanks at 1-800-327-5774 or (907) 456-5774 or write to Explore Fairbanks, 101 Dunkel St, Suite 111, Fairbanks, AK 99701-4806. View both guides online at explorefairbanks.com.

About Explore Fairbanks: Explore Fairbanks is a non-profit marketing and management organization whose mission is to be an economic driver in the Fairbanks region by marketing to potential visitors and optimizing the visitor experience. Explore Fairbanks markets Fairbanks as a year-round destination by promoting local events, attractions and activities to independent travelers, group tour operators, travel agents, meeting planners and the media as well as by developing public policy and infrastructure to achieve marketing objectives. Find out more at explorefairbanks.com.

 

 

 

 

TREASURE on the Beach! Metal Detecting is FUN

  • Too Windy to Fish? Fish another Way!
  • On a Small Beach central Florida, a retirement community…4 gold rings, 1 silver ring, over 100 coins, toys, fishing lures, and some trash.  All in one day.
  • How? “Cold wet hands loosen rings, as does hot, sweaty hands, then throw a ball or Frisbee, the ring flies off.  Not lost forever if you are looking.”

By Rich Creason

The author provides hands-on instruction for a newcomer to the art and fun science of metal detecting…treasure hunting, on the beach.

Most folks who enjoy metal detecting start by looking for lost coins in backyards, but once given a choice to try beach hunting, it often becomes their favorite spot to search.

This is the case with my wife and me. We have detected for over 40 years, from Montana to the east coast, and from Florida to northern Canada. We have searched yards, fields, school grounds, Civil War camp sites, seeded hunts, and beaches. Sifting through the sand is the best.

Unfortunately, we live in central Indiana, about as far from a saltwater beach as you can get, but we are fairly close to all of the Great Lakes, plus some fresh water lakes and reservoirs with large beach areas. Another unfortunate fact is many State Parks have water with swimming beaches, but they don’t allow metal detecting. I’ve never understood why, because kids can take their buckets and shovels and dig in the sand all they want with no problem. Also, when we are detecting, we take a lot of pull tabs, bottle caps, hooks, scrap metal, and other trash off the beach which are dangerous for those enjoying the sand without shoes.

Another very productive area is a campground with a swimming beach. These are often busy and sometimes no one has ever detecting these areas. As any other private property, we always ask for permission to search. Since we are causing no damage and usually show the owners all the trash we cleaned up for them, permission is seldom a problem. So, regardless of where you live, some type of sand beach is probably close to where you live.

It doesn’t matter whether you detect around fresh or saltwater beaches, close to water is the best place to find lost jewelry. Not the only place, but the best. Cold wet hands will loosen rings, as does hot, sweaty ones. Throw a ball or Frisbee and the ring flies off. In the water, or even in the sand, it will be hard to find without a machine. Teenagers horseplay and a delicate gold chain is broken and both the chain and the pendant, locket, medallion, or whatever is on the chain is lost in the water until someone with a detector finds them. My best water find so far is a gold ring with three large garnets which appraised at $500.

Another way valuables get lost at the beach is by placing a nice watch or other item on a blanket or towel. It gets accidentally knocked off by kids playing or when the towel is picked up to shake sand off and the item is forgotten. And this happens many times a day on a popular beach.

Of course, the east coast of Florida is famous for giving up gold and silver coins and relics from sunken Spanish ships, especially after strong storms. These items are washed in from offshore and brought close where someone with a detector can find them. This brings up the question, how do you get your share of these lost treasures?

Naturally, the first step is getting a metal detector. New ones range from around $200 up to ten times that much. The basic difference is like a Chevrolet and a Mercedes. Both will get you around. One just has more bells and whistles. Most detectors are waterproof from the coil at the bottom, up to the control box. The electronics inside the box tend to freak out when they get wet. Some brands offer water proof machines up to, and including, the earphones. These are more costly, probably starting around $500. But, one good ring (see above) can pay for this machine. Add a sand scoop for retrieving your finds from the beach ($20) and you are ready to find some treasures.

As soon as you find a sandy beach (gain permission to hunt if needed), you need to decide where to start. If it’s a small fresh water pond or lake, it’s fairly obvious where people hang out. On a huge saltwater area, you need to decide where the most activity is located. If possible, check it out on a hot, summer day. Blankets are usually placed above the high tide line. If young people are having a volleyball game, move into that spot as soon as they are finished. While the girls often are in tiny bikinis with no pockets, we have found several nice rings there. They tend to fly off when hitting the ball. Of course, spend some time hunting in the water. I usually search in water up to my knees. It’s easier to stand in the waves and more people use the shallow water.

If you are walking the beach and notice an area which looks like rain has washed a trough out from the high sand line down to the water, hunt that carefully. Anyplace the sand has been disturbed can bring treasures from deep up to near the surface.

If you are lucky enough to live near big water, search the shoreline (or in the water) after a large storm. The high winds will turn the sand over, bringing treasures to the top. You will often see people with detectors out looking almost before the hurricane winds are gone. Remember where the large crowds were active when the days were nice. Hunt there!

Metal detecting in the water can be fun, provide exercise and a can provide a nice, small payoff in treasure too.

Think outside the box. If you can hunt an out-of-the-way spot, which is not frequented a lot, you may be the first one there. I hunted a small beach on a neighborhood lake in central Florida. It was a retirement community and not a lot of folks spent time there. But apparently enough. I found four gold rings, a silver ring, over100 coins, toys, fishing lures, and a lot of trash in one day. My wife hunted the dry part of the sand and found coins, toys, and a large silver belt buckle. We have hunted several small campground swimming holes and had the same kind of results. If we find any valuable jewelry, we try to find the owner, but usually, there are no markings on the item to identify the owner. The only exception to the rule is class rings. Usually, they have the school, year, and a name or initials on them. We Goggle the school, and call the office. We tell them what we found, and ask if they can look in their yearbooks and help us find the owner.

When we leave home on a fishing trip, or any other kind of vacation, we always pack our machines. Many times when planning a trip on large waters, weather changes our mind. Fishing is out when the wind is too high. Rather than having our visit turn into a bust, we find the nearest beach and start hunting. I have never been west of Montana, but I imagine finding treasures on the west coast is the same as on our side of the continent.  

I always consider metal detecting as the best hobby. Like other activities, (fishing, bowling, golfing, etc.), you must purchase your original equipment to start, but any of those other hobbies will cost you more money each time you participate in it.  Then realize that every time you use your detector, you make money. Sometimes only a few clad coins, but occasionally a nice ring or a valuable coin or relic. My only additional cost is batteries once or twice a year. 

See you on the beach!

The author may be reached at eyewrite4u@aol.com.

        

SEARCHING for the BIGGEST GAME EVER

  • Join Up To Be Part of a DINO-DIG
  • You Might Meet a T-Rex….FACE-to-FACE
  • Learn that We Live Among Much History

By Rich Creason
The rain began. Slowly at first, then turning into a torrential downpour. The water started running over the top edge of the high bluff along the river. As it ran downward, it washed dirt away forming small grooves in the bluff wall which became larger as the erosion continued, eventually forming several large gullies leading to the river below. The water level in the river rose and quickened, carving away the base of the hillside and allowing more earth to be washed away.

The storm eventually ended and the sky cleared. The local rancher rode his horse across his land surveying the damage. As he rode along the bluff, he noticed a large, dark object protruding from the hillside. Closer examination revealed it to be a bone of some type. The rancher took his find to a nearby museum and was informed he had found a dinosaur bone!

He did not know that before his cattle fed on this pasture, a small herd of 30 or 40 duck-bill dinosaurs grazed along his riverbank. The huge creatures were unaware in the not so distant future, they would all be extinct. The Edmontosaurus annectens were around 30 foot long, weighed four metric tons, and walked on either two or four legs depending on their current activity.

65 million years ago they were plentiful, eating grasses and other plants with their huge mouths, containing hundreds of teeth which were constantly being replaced. Now, the fossilized bones, teeth, and other parts of these giants can sometimes be found in the western part of the U.S. and Canada, usually beginning as a chance find such as the rancher riding by. Some of these bones can also be found on display in the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Each year, the Children’s Museum takes a trip to the far northwest corner of South Dakota to the tiny town of Faith, population 500. Near this town, the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton named Sue was found. This is one of the most complete T.rex skeletons ever found. Another T.rex skeleton called Bucky, found near this town, is now on exhibit in the Children’s Museum. Then, another one was found here, but we were going to this area to search for the remains of the duck-bill dinosaur.

Early last year, my wife, Susie, and I heard about the “dino dig” on one of our frequent visits to the Museum. Members (and also non-members) are invited to join staff at the dig site in South Dakota. For a reasonable fee, we signed up for one day of dinosaur fossil hunting. We were taught how to dig the bones properly, do all the paperwork involved with documenting where each piece was found, and how to actually get each item out of the ground carefully and protect it for its long trip back to Indianapolis.

We enjoyed last year so much we signed up for a five day dig this year. We arrived in Faith on July 10th and checked into the Prairie Vista Inn, the same place we stayed last year. The rooms are large, inexpensive, and extremely clean. Owners Roxanne and Terry Ensz greeted us and even remembered us from the year before. Shortly after we checked in, the Museum van loaded with our fellow dinosaur hunters pulled in, they had flown into the Rapid City airport. Most were from the central Indiana area, but there was one lady from Boston and a couple from New Hampshire. We had about eight total. Dallas, William, and Michelle, Museum staff members, and Jayne, a volunteer, would be supervising our digging. Nicole, another Museum staff was on site the week before we arrived, but had to return to Indy. Cindy, a local EMT from the Faith Ambulance Service, also joined us to look after our health, treat bug bites, bandage blisters, and take care of other, hopefully, minor problems.

Everyone present had been on numerous digs in previous years. My wife and I were the “rookies,” having been here only once before. Later in the week, a few more diggers showed up including Shelley, an administrator at the Museum, and Will, her son. Victor, another dinosaur expert, unfortunately had to stay back at the Museum so the visitors there had someone to answer questions.

Monday morning, we loaded our gear and coolers full of ice water, and headed for the dig site. Due to the extreme heat possible and the exertion required to dig all day, staying hydrated was a necessity. About a block out of town, we left paved road. We then traveled a gravel road to the ranch cutoff which was mostly dirt, maneuvered around a washed out bridge, through several barbed wire gates, crossed cattle guards, followed two wheel tracks across pastures, jumped gullies and finally arrived at our destination.

It looked the same as last year. There was a long structure covered with tarp to give us some shade. Underneath was a dirt ledge with flagged off sections so the finds could be accurately mapped. Since all of us had been here before and knew what to do, we each grabbed a good looking spot and started digging. Our tools consisted of clam shuckers, a small, wide, dull blade used to open clams and dig dinosaur bones, Exacto knives for fine digging, paint brushes for dusting off bones, and bottles of very liquid super glue (like water) called Paleobond. This was used to patch the numerous small cracks in the bones. The bones are very brittle and have to be glued often during the digging process.
We dug carefully with our clam shuckers until we heard a “crunch”. This is the sound when the blade hits a bone.

Then we had to clear all the dirt surrounding the find with the Exacto knife. We left a dirt pedestal intact under the bone to support it until the find could be mapped and removed. When we reached this point, the scientific part began.
My first find was a four inch piece of rib. These are common finds and are often short because they break easily.

Before removing any bone from the ground, the fossil is given a number, pictures are taken, the grid number where it was found is recorded, and the date, name of collector, body part (if known) and other pertinent information, is written down. Then a one meter square frame, divided into 10 square centimeter squares, is placed over the find and its location is drawn on graph paper. When this is finished, the bone is carefully lifted from its multi-million year old home, still on its dirt pedestal, and wrapped in several layers of paper towel to cushion and protect it, then wrapped again in aluminum foil, and taped shut. The tape is then labeled with name, numbers, etc. to correspond with the paperwork. The package is then placed in a large plastic container for its journey back to the Children’s Museum.

In our five days of digging, Susie and I found, dug, and documented 22 bones including five rib pieces about four to eight inches long, several pieces of vertebra from the neck to the tail, a couple chevrons (the underside of the tail), three skull elements (pieces), two jugals (cheek bone), a toe bone, and a couple of yet unidentified pieces. My best find of the week was a 28 inch rib. It is very unusual to find a piece of rib this long.

Numerous other bones were found including two femurs (the large leg bone). These were both around three feet long and took many hours to dig out. A large humerus (upper arm bone) and a large jaw bone were also found. The larger bones (including my rib piece) were wrapped in foil and then had a plaster cast applied to them before moving to help prevent breakage. These bones all went back to Indiana to be cleaned, repaired, and put on display or be used for research.

While duckbill bones are the most common finds at this site, other finds also include bones and teeth from other animals. Some of these include Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, Dromaeosaurs, Oviraptors, Troodons, and Pachycephalosaurs. Bones from other non-dinosaur critters are turtles, crocodiles, champosaurs (a croc-like creature) and gar fish.

The site we dig at is called a secondary deposit. This means the animal died somewhere else, but a river or stream washed their remains into this area. All the bones are “disarticulated”. This means the skeleton is not whole. The bones found side by side are almost never from the same animal. It is estimated around 2,000 different duckbills are buried at this site.

If you think this sounds like something you would be interested in doing next year, contact the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis at 317-334-3322, or visit www.childrensmuseum.org. You can get information on “Dino Digs”, memberships, events, exhibits, or anything else you need to know about the Museum. Visit the Dinosphere to see the dinosaur fossils, displays, and touch actual bones millions of years old. You can also meet many of the staff who supervise our dino digs and try to stump them with questions you’ve always wanted to ask about dinosaurs.

From author Creason: “If you live anywhere near central Indiana, I would highly recommend getting a membership of some type to the Museum. We purchased a Premier Membership. This allows two grandparents (us), one grandchild and two guests to enjoy the attractions as often as we want, plus it includes many other privileges and discounts. Many other types of memberships are also available. With the large variety of exhibits at the Museum, you don’t even have to be a kid to enjoy visiting.”   The author may be reached at eyewrite4u@aol.com.

Where is the Guide?

  • Lake of the Woods: Walleye Capital of the World
  • Anchor, Relax, Catch Fish All Day…Seriously
  • Simple Jig-Minnow Fishing

By David Gray

Captain Cassy Geurkink makes happy anglers when they come to fish Lake of the Woods near Baudette, Mn.  Dave Gray Photo

“Where is the guide?” was my second question.  My first question was, “Which boat is mine?” 

The boat was one of many 27-foot long Sportcraft walleye charter boats neatly tied-up to the Border View Lodge docks on Lake of the Woods, Baudette, Minnesota.

This was my first experience going out on a walleye charter.   I really was not excited, a walleye charter never did sound like my kind of fun fishing.   

I was attending a conference at Lake of the Woods in Minnesota and fishing buddy, Dave Barus, a skilled Lake Erie angler, had arranged this Walleye Charter.  Going out in a big boat on big water with six anglers and a guide did not appeal to me.  By the end of the day, I found out it was not only productive, it was great fun!  It was a very enjoyable way to spend a day on water…in the rain!  

I enjoyed every minute of our fishing trip on Lake of the Woods, catching walleye and sauger at an unbelievable rate. Forrest Fisher Photo

Tom at Border View Lodge answered my first question, “Your boat is the one in that slip.”  “The one with the girl in it?” I asked.  “Yes, that is your boat.”

The girl, Cassy, answered my other question.  “Good morning, I am your guide.  Get in and we’ll get going.”  My first thought was this local trip has been engineered as a tourism publicity moment with a lady guide.  Preconceived notions are not good things, but one crept into my brain that Cassy did not look like an experienced or hardened north woods woman.  Of course, I really can’t describe what an experienced north woods woman should look like.

Cassy had a very serious look on her face as she readied six anglers and their gear, nosed the boat out into the river current and headed for the open water on Lake of the Woods.  I would come to understand this serious look latter in the day, it was pure focus.

The new Kamooki Lure is spreading like wildfire across the fishing world. They’re a unique vertical jerkbait that will invoke a strike even when fish are not hungry.  Forrest Fisher Photo

My thoughts turned back to Border View Lodge.   Part of the charm of fishing in the North Country is visiting a new lodge.   All have a charm of their own.   Border View Lodge had a special charm that makes any angler feel at home the minute you walk in the door.   Wood paneling, fish mounts on the wall, dining area overlooking the docks and river and friendly people saying welcome.   

Border View Lodge is a family owned and run business.  The original lodge was a commercial fish operation when burbot was harvested to make cod liver oil.  Around 1962, Border View became a fishing lodge serving anglers.  In 1981 the current family purchased the resort.  Today, Mike and Lisa Kinsella run the resort, oversee nine guides and 10 launch boats.  In the winter they have 60 Ice Houses on the lake.  Border View is a full service resort for people that like to fish and the resort has amenities all anglers like.  Mike has a variety of packages to fit the needs of any group.   Call Mike at 1-800-ProFish, tell him what you want and he will take care of you.

Another glance at our guide, Cassy, and the same serious look was locked on her face as she stopped, put out the anchor and baited up six rods with a jig and minnow. 

Charter Captain Cassy Geurkink at the helm, showed us a fun time on a rainy day when nearly no other boats dared to leave the dock due to the weather.  With the best country and western music playing from Sirius, we knocked the socks off the fish!  David Gray Photo

It wasn’t long before the first walleye hooked up.  A nice walleye and as Cassy skillfully netted it I noticed the serious look was replaced by a huge smile.  That was it, serious look when getting clients loaded and handling the boat, but all smiles when the bite starts.  That is my kind of guide!  

The rest of the day made me smile.  I went from never wanting to do a walleye charter to, “Can’t wait to do this again.”   We hooked more than 75 walleye and sauger, some to 28 inches long, and we put six fish apiece in the cooler.  Cassy kept minnows on the jigs – baiting every one with her secret hook-up method, netted every single fish, and kept everyone fishing and in conversation. Quite a feat. 

So much for pre-conceived ideas! 

Share the Outdoors editor Dave Barus says, “We learned that walleye and sauger, big and small, live and thrive here thanks to a good fisheries management program and plentiful baitfish supply.  David Gray Photo

Cassy Geurkink is currently the only lady guide in the area, we found this out when we returned to shore, AND, she is considered one of the best guides on this part of the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods.  Cassy grew up fishing and hunting with her dad Tom who is also a guide.  Before becoming a guide, Cassy worked at a Chevy Dealer in the Minneapolis, St Paul area. Cassy eventually worked her way up to the Sales Manager position.  She would visit Dad on the weekends and started not wanting to go home.  Cassy left the car dealership and for a season worked in the lodge office.  But, as she says, “I am an outdoor girl and wanted to be outdoors.”  To be a guide on a waterway that borders another country, you have to have a Charter Captain’s license which involves study and a lengthy Coast Guard test.   So I started studying and passed the tests.

Cassy now guides four to seven days a week.  On days off, she takes her 7-year old son Finley out jig fishing.  Cassy said the best part of guiding is meeting different people.  She says, “Guiding teaches you even more about fishing.”  She learned how to be patient and how to help people catch fish.   When Cassy first started guiding, a lot of guys looked and said, “Oh boy a girl guide.”   Now many of those have become regular repeat customers and ask for Cassy.  I can understand why.  Pure dedication, highly skilled, not afraid to try new things and focus with a smile.

Cassy puts you on the fish and makes a happy boat.  If you can book her, say, “Oh Boy,” because you are going to have a great fishing day.   

Catching fish with Cassy explaining the details, the options, the reasoning behind using chosen jig colors, that was pure fun.  It was an education in fishing.  We pay for the fishing, the fun and instruction is free.  Can’t wait to do it again. 

For more info, here is the link: http://www.borderviewlodge.com/.

A Special CASE for “Border Water Walleye and PERFECT Boneless Fillets”

  • Expert Guides DO Simplify Catching Fish – with simple JIGS
  • Rainy Day BLESSINGS on the Rainy River  
  • One BEST Fillet Tool CAN SIMPLIFY Cleaning Walleye by the Dozen

By Forrest Fisher

Nature and the peaceful wilderness to be found near Sportsman’s Lodge in Baudette, Minnesota, will create NEVER-FORGET memories for all that visit. Forrest Fisher Photo

We arrived in the front lobby of Sportsman’s Lodge on the Rainy River in Baudette, MN,   The weather was cold and nasty, and VERY rainy.  We were in a momentary downpour.  I looked disappointed, my better half smiled at me and joked, “It’s ok, it’s gonna be good luck, it’s raining and we’re on the Rainy River!  I couldn’t help, but smile back.

Hungry Lake-of-the-Woods walleye are asking anglers, “What’s for Dinner?”  Forrest Fisher Photo

We were one step closer to the fishing the Walleye Capital of the World that we had read about so often, not to mention a few decades of dreams.

What I didn’t know was that the number of fish to catch in the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods was beyond the normal angler’s day of fantasy fishing.  We discovered a brand new REALITY here, an iconic, never-forget celebration of most-ever-walleye-caught memories.

Not long after we arrived, we were fishing with Captain Ralph Christofferson (218-634-1342) aboard his 27-foot Sportcraft, a beautiful, fully-equipped, big water vessel.  Lake of the Woods offers about 1,700 square miles of fishing with more than 14,500 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline.  Impressive fishery numbers and with plenty of forage in the form of emerald shiners, tulibees and various crustaceans.

We boated out to the lake and anchored, only a 10-minute ride with that giant 454 Chrysler engine humming us into competition with throngs of honking Canada Geese that were nearby.

Captain Ralph provided everyone his hand-made, 6-foot 2-inch, personally customized, St. Croix fishing rods to use.  The rods were light .and beautiful, a pleasure to hold.  Perfect balance.

Captain Ralph Christofferson provided the expertise that enabled us to catch walleye and sauger at the unbelievable rate of more than 20 fish per hour.  Forrest Fisher Photo

The rods were geared up with an open-face spinning reel, 6-pound test monofilament (P-line) and gold-plated 3/8 ounce jigs tipped with a salted emerald shiner minnow.  The minnows were “slid” onto the hook with Captain Ralph’s “secret twist.”

It didn’t take long to discover active fish at our anchored spot.  In less than 3 hours, we landed more than 50 walleye and sauger. Captain Ralph said, “It’s sort of a slow day.”  In the words of our young friends and millennials, OMG!  Except, he wasn’t kidding!

We kept our daily limit of 4 walleye and 2 sauger each, and there was five of us.  Yes, we had a cooler filled with 30 fish and ice, ready for the pan or the freezer.  We arrived at the dock, it was a short walk to the Sportsman’s Lodge state-of-the-art fish-cleaning house.  There were plastic bags, foam trays for holding the clean fillets, saran wrap, ice and lots of bright lighting.  I could see the light.  Indeed, in more ways than one.

While some anglers use an electric knife to clean fish, most old-timers know there is about 15 percent waste with that method.  I’m an old timer and I had a brand new fillet knife that I received on my birthday.

A manual fillet knife job will yield the most meat for the plate.  If you consider some of the catches for the week – and we ate most of the fish right on site the day we caught them – you might think that manual filleting the fish was a tough task, but not so.

My 6-inch W.R.Case fillet knife is unequalled as an angler tool and doubles as my favorite kitchen tool.

It’s not work if you a knife like mine, a new 6-inch Case, fixed-blade, fillet knife (Model BR12-6 SS).  My Case fillet knife is so sharp and rigid, but also provides some bend in the blade if you press a bit, to be flexible, making it so simple to use.  It seems to never lose its really sharp edge and we cleaned so many fish with it.

Every now and then, I touch up the edge with a very gentle stroke on a carbide diamond wedge, then a final stroke or two using a very smooth Arkansas super-fine stone and water.

One other thing about this knife, it is ergonomically perfect to fit my hand. It feels just right, you know, comfortable and solid.  The steel blade and formed poly-handle are melded as one, permitting full control, and it works like a hot poker through butter.  Even with potatoes, onions, carrots and sausage, you get the idea.  It’s my favorite all-around cutting tool.

Many things we buy in the USA are now manufactured elsewhere, but W.R.Case knives are made in the USA (http://www.wrcase.com/knives/), one more of many reasons why I like them.

The bottom line for a good knife: can it hold an edge?  Indeed.  This thing holds an edge like no other fillet knife I have ever used, and I have used most of them.  I’m not sure what kind of steel alloy this Case knife uses, but whatever it is, please tell them to never change it.

My grandkids will want one of these 20 years from now and, of course, my Case will be here ready and waiting.

Last, this knife is an easily affordable investment at about $25-$30 cost.  Check google for the best price or go direct to W.R.Case.

Love this knife, the expert guides and this deluxe accommodation where we caught all these fish just a short boat ride and simple drop-jig cast away.  Dreams are made of this.

We’ll be back soon (http://sportsmanslodges.com/).

 

 

Autumn Color, Nature, Wilderness Air and Fresh Coffee at Lake George

  • Business Takes a NEW Direction
  • Lure of Autumn Bass Fishing, Lake Trout, Landlocked Salmon
  • Sights of Colorful Foliage
  • Plans for Waterfowl Hunting, Stream Fishing for Brook Trout

By Forrest Fisher

Rising fog from mountain valleys appear like slices of horizontal white pie resting between high, dark mountain peaks of the Adirondacks in the Lake George area. Forrest Fisher Photo

My workday plan was busy with a business trip from New York City to Montreal.  The airport traffic was heavy, the security lines long, longer than ever, the sky was clear and it was a beautiful day.  I was not happy with bumper to bumper traffic conversation between the interstate roadway vehicles and the morning disc jockeys were in a rant about their bummed weekend.  They made the congestion worse.  Then I suddenly realized, “I can drive!”

About two hours or so up the northbound highway, the traffic was gone and I discovered a wonderful sense of peace and quiet.  I left the long lines of airport security, the chaos of baggage, laptop checks and body scans behind.  All gone.  All replaced by a road trip drive that would change my persona for the day, maybe forever.

There was a faint sliver of fog rising from the valleys that appeared like slices of horizontal white pie resting among the high and very dark mountain peaks of the Adirondacks in the background.  Driving down Highway 87, the road signs announced Lake George and despite the near-darkness, I noticed that the autumn scenery was stunning in this particular area.  Signs advertised fly fishing, Hudson River rafting, rail trail bikes, historical sites, boating, biking, hiking and more.  These diverted my mind and were tempting me to consider a new daytime destination, maybe as just a momentary, side-of-the-highway, homesteader.  Yes, I thought, pull over, if only just to watch the enchanting sunrise.

Highway 87 runs north-south and Exit 21 and 22 provide easy access to Lake George Village and Dunham’s Bay Resort, where I found morning coffee. Photo: www.visitadirondacks.com

Rocky bluffs jutted upward and outward along the freeway, as I tried to focus on driving and not the scenic beauty.  That was just not possible.  The scenic views were an immediate visual award, an instant lottery prize win, just for making this drive.  I sensed myself grinning to the view, perhaps that was one honest measure of my sheer contentment.

A few minutes later, in the distance, the brilliant orange ball of morning sun began to tiptoe upward.  It was only a dull orange color sky at first, and then the first sliver of the sun crest rose just above the lowest horizon in the east.  I pulled off the roadway at Exit 21 and decided I needed a cup of java just to watch the morning light.  Driving down Beach Road in Lake George Village, sort of exploring too, my business trip had become an adventure.

I continued along Highway 9L just for a few minutes, it was October and many business places were already closed for the season, but it was so quiet, so enjoyable.  Then I came to Dunham’s Bay Resort (www.dunhamsbay.com).  I went in and asked about coffee. Yes!  They had fresh java and all the mixings, it smelled so good.  I toasted a cup to my decision to drive and thought about those poor folks that were probably still waiting in the airport line, grinning again.

A cup of fresh morning java from Dunham’s Bay Resort catered to my view of the morning sunrise at Lake George. Rose Barus Photo

I moved to the front of the resort and sat in one of the outdoor lawn chairs.  The warm Lake George water and chilly mountain air caused a fog to form on Dunham’s Bay right in front of the resort.  It became thick and started to settle before it started to rise.  I went back in for more coffee.  With cup number two, I realized I was looking at the highest mountain tops to the west, visible above the fog.  They suddenly emerged into a sea of brilliant color as the sun lit them up.  A flock of ducks went squawking by in flight, high overhead, that I heard, but could not see.  My brief adventure continued.  The natural intense lighting of the sun was doing everyday work.  I was inspired by the dazzling beauty and the coffee tasted so good.

An immediate urge for home ownership in the area seemed an almost immediate necessity.  How did I ever miss this Lake George area before?  Perhaps, if only for now, I might try for a short stay.  No.  Maybe on the way back, I thought, that way I could stay a day or maybe two.  Today, back to reality, there were meetings planned and work to do.

Vibrant autumn foliage was evident along Highway 87 and the pristine upper Hudson River. Rose Barus Photo

I realized that with the flight reservation and airport plan from the start, my fly rod was not with me.  On the next drive north, there might have to be a stopover.  Imaginary fog would be the cause, I’d need to pull over to stay safe.  Again, I’m grinning.  What a plan.  I realize that this drive to a brief coffee stop has me totally energized.

A new essence for realizing the seasons of the year was added to my list of “important things,” the autumn colors of October on Lake George are unforgettable.  Perhaps I must remember to do this again, maybe when NOT ON BUSINESS next year, I thought to myself.  It is a family type of destination, I could bring everyone, the grandkids too.

Historic sites abound near Lake George Village, adding the need for a second or third trip to “see it all.” Forrest Fisher Photo

My cellphone is activated and the calendar is reserved one year ahead around the seasons and the scenery just recorded only to memory.  Of course, I’ll never forget this day.

The backcountry is a new priority.  I return to the ribbons of roadway heading north with a new vision of the stunning foliage and clean, spring-fed, waterways that are abundant here.  These waters are filled with trout and untainted crustaceans.  Pleasantly now, I’m in a new comfort zone for effective business and again, I’m grinning.  Driving was such a good idea.

Time spent in the Adirondack Mountains of New York during autumn are positively special.  October is the month of color transition in the Lake George area of the Adirondack Mountains and lush green leaves turn to brilliant colors of bright yellow, orange and red.  They are unforgettable.

Color and visions from morning light to sunset are remarkable all around Lake George.  Accommodations are at low rates and fishing charters are still running.  The crisp air is right for a fall getaway.

Not sure I can wait for next time!

For Lake George information, visit www.visitlakegeorge.com or call the Warren County Tourism Department at 518-761-7653.   

Fort Myers & Sanibel Island Beaches ARE OPEN

  • We HAVE SURVIVED Hurricane Irma VERY WELL
  • Come Enjoy, Explore, Swim, Fish, Cruise
  • It is a Shell Collectors Bonanza Adventure Time

By Forrest Fisher

If you know Lee County, Florida, you know that homeowners and snowbird visitors alike had safety and property concerns after Hurricane Irma sent a measure of fear throughout Florida in September.  It’s over.  The area is back in the swing of Florida fun.

The great warm weather and sunshine is back, though for adventure visitors, it might be good to know that the waves from Irma’s passing along our shell-drenched beaches on the Gulf of Mexico have brought in more shells than ever.

On a recent trip to Sanibel with my family, we met local treasure hunters that explained how post-storm periods are the one great time to bring out your best metal detector to find ancient treasure.  The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Island in southwest Florida continue to provide new experiences for visitors to Florida’s unspoiled island destination.

If you love wildlife, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge plans to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week with “Ding” Darling Days, Oct. 15-22.  The refuge will offer free admission access days on several occasions during that week.  For a full “Ding” Darling Days schedule, call 239-472-1100 or visit www.dingdarlingdays.com.

For more information with the latest vacation information, please visit www.FortMyersSanibel.com.

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida includes: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande & Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres.

4 Days to IRMA: How Much Time Boaters Have to Prepare

  • Essential info for boaters, clubs, marinas at BoatUS.com/hurricanes

Recreational boat owners need to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma (credit: NOAA)

ALEXANDRIA, Va., September 5, 2017 – According to the National Hurricane Center, Florida may have up to four days to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, a “potentially catastrophic Category 5” storm now approaching the Leeward Islands.

While it’s difficult to determine landfall, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) urges boaters, marinas and boat clubs to use the valuable time to prepare, and offers free help online at BoatUS.com/hurricanes.

The boating group says that it doesn’t take a direct hit to damage or sink recreational vessels, or cause havoc at boat storage facilities.
The storm-planning available from BoatUS help includes:
1. “BoatUS Tips for Protecting Boats in Hurricanes,” a basic two-page primer that contains advice on hurricane preparation for all recreational boaters.
2. “Boater’s Guide to Preparing Boats and Marinas for Hurricanes” has more details on how to protect your boat as well as marinas.
3. “What Works: A Guide to Preparing Marinas, Yacht Clubs and Boats for Hurricanes,” a helpful resource for marina and boat-club staff, community resiliency managers and local government organizations that focuses on protecting boating facilities.
When a storm approaches, BoatUS.com/hurricanes also has up-to-the-minute storm-tracking tools with live satellite images and checklists for what to do before and after a hurricane strikes.
Much of the hurricane guide information comes from BoatUS and its Marine Insurance Catastrophe (CAT) Team, a recognized leader in hurricane preparedness with more than 30 years of post-storm boat salvage experience. Go to BoatUS.com/hurricanes for more.

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS): Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program gives boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.

FireDisc® Cookers Score High Marks with Sportsmen, Tailgaters, Party Folks and in Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Need a durable camp cooker that folds up to a VERY SMALL SIZE and can do it all for hunters, fishermen, campers or tailgate fun?   Check out FireDisc® Cookers: https://www.firedisccookers.com/products/ to see the manner of set-up, take-down and storage. So simple.
Yet, FireDisc is massively overbuilt, is still light in weight, incredibly easy to use and designed to last for a long time.

It’s perfect for anyone who likes to fish, hunt, camp, RV, tailgate or just recreate outdoors all year around.FireDisc is revolutionizing how hunters cook their camp chow and how fishermen cook shore lunch.  FireDisc is a robust cooking device that was made to travel with you in your truck or boat.  FireDisc seasons like a cast iron skillet producing excellent fish, game and eating anyway you like it. The FireDisc advantage offers compact take-down to a size that will fit in any boat, large or small, sets up easily to work dockside, at a shore lunch or at campside. The unit is powder-coated and is overbuilt. It is heavy duty and built to last. FireDisc will cook virtually everything.
The unit operates on one 16.4 oz. propane canister, fires up fast (no waiting for charcoal or fire), cooks for plenty of people, seasons like a cast iron skillet and cleans up quickly with just water.
Why people love cooking with FireDisc Cookers:
• Portable and easy to haul
• Heats quickly with propane
• Easy to clean with just water
• Great for cooking for large groups
• Perfect for cooking delicate items like fish and vegetables – no grates
• Year-round cooking
• Available in height options: 24” or 36”, shallow or deep
Check out this video: https://youtu.be/omJWFthICuQ.   FireDiscs come in deep or shallow, short or tall, black or red and are available starting at $279.99 at firedisccookers.com and at select outdoor retailers and hardware stores across the country.
How good is a FireDisc® Cooker? The recently released NPS (Net Promoter Score) numbers for FireDisc® Cookers show a high level of customer satisfaction, with a good probability that consumers who bought their products would recommend them to their friends and colleagues. FireDisc Cookers received an NPS score of 88 with a 4.9 out of 5-star rating for 2016.
The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and claims to be correlated with revenue growth. NPS has been widely adopted with more than two thirds of Fortune 1000 companies using the metric.
The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?
NPS can be as low as −100 (everybody is a detractor) or as high as +100 (everybody is a promoter). An NPS that is positive (i.e., higher than zero) is felt to be good and an NPS of +50 or over is excellent. The FireDisc Cooker NPS score of 88 is among the highest rankings given to any company. Scores for other companies during the same time period included USAA – 80, Costco – 78, Nordstrom – 75, Apple/iPhone – 70, Amazon – 69 and Southwest Airlines – 66. It is a great testimony to the design and quality of FireDisc products and their customer satisfaction.
For more information about “Built to Haul, Cooks it All” FireDisc Cookers, visit their web site at www.firedisccookers.com

VIDEOS: BoatUS – FIX, LEARN & DO Summer Boating How-to ‘Film Festival’ Kicks-off

  • 15 new VIDEO SHORTS by BoatUS Editors on How-To FIX, LEARN & DO Practical Boating Projects

BoatUS’ How-to videos are easy to watch.

NOT HOLLYWOOD, Calif., August 7, 2017 – What are the most common boating tasks when boat owners need to ask for help? Editors at BoatUS Magazine, the trusted voice of American boating, compiled a list of the top topics and announced the kickoff of a “BoatUS Summer How-to Film Festival” today with the release of 15 short, easily-watchable videos.

“We’re calling the video release a summer ‘film festival’ because all are themed with a “how-to” focus, are organized in one simple place to view, and are easy to watch outdoors,” added BoatUS Magazine associate editor Charles Fort.

Mark Corke, BoatUS Magazine associate editor, shared thoughts about the videos:  “The topics chosen come from decades of BoatUS member requests.  These are the practical things that most trailer-boat owners want to know.”

Titles range from launching your boat solo and changing a prop to backing a boat trailer down the ramp, changing a bilge-pump switch, and troubleshooting trailer lights.  Most are just two or three minutes long.  Breakout the popcorn and check out the videos at YouTube.com/BoatUS.

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):  Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program gives boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.

Lake Erie-Lake Ontario-Niagara River “On-Line” Fishing & Vacation Map is FREE

  • Integrated Map Provides Fish Locations, Shore Fishing Access, Boat Access
  • Depth Contours ZERO-IN on Hotspot Fishing Locations
  • Bait Shops, Marina Locations, Shipwrecks, ALL HERE…ALL FREE

Depth Contours as well as on-shore landmarks for boater access, shore fishing, restaurants and marina locations are included for Niagara County, Erie County and Chautauqua County waterway areas.  The website map link and info is free. 

By Forrest Fisher

There is a NEW interactive, online, Western New York Hotspot Fishing Map application that is yours FREE at this link:  https://wnyfishing.mrf.com.

The regional website map has been designed for everyone, including for cellphone and laptop use.  It is the perfect “get-it-now” reference tool for many user groups.  Boaters, anglers, scuba divers, vacationers and many other groups, family fishing groups, now have good waterway reference map.  Need to research waterway areas of the Greater Niagara Region of New York State BEFORE the trip?  Here is your resource.

The map spotlights lake depth contours, boating access points, marinas, shore fishing sites, sunken wrecks, fish species locations, bait shops, information sources, dining establishments and give all that to the user with GPS coordinates.  Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties offer some of the best freshwater sportfishing the world has ever seen!

World class walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, trout, salmon, all here, and many species of panfish.  Nearly everything an avid fisherman would ever want.  Carp and Channel Catfish too.

The Greater Niagara Region has established a reputation that boasts excellence in sportfishing, boating, kayaking, and outdoor on-the-water recreation.  Hire a charter, bring your own boat or fish from shore, the new regional map website will be useful for everyone who looks to quench a hungry angling appetite.

The website map is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast and for families looking to get back to finding the family fun of the outdoors through fishing and boating.  There are many other outdoor attractions, state and county parks, hiking paths, bird-watching opportunities (the Niagara River Corridor is internationally recognized as an important bird area), hunting options and more.  There are cultural, historical and recreational highlights from Lewiston in Niagara County, to Buffalo in Erie County and to Jamestown in Chautauqua County.  The new website and map app offers access to outdoor information and adds value for visitors and residents alike.

The area below Dunkirk, NY, and Barcelona Harbor, in Westfield, NY, is the “HOT WALLEYE ZONE”. Here is the 1st look-see from a free fishing map link that all anglers can enjoy for the very first time at no charge.

The website (https://wnyfishing.mrf.com) offers information to get you started and headed in the right direction, from charter listings to marina information; from shore fishing spots to license information. Unfortunately, it can’t help you set the hook and reel the fish in!

Greater Niagara – You’ll “fall for us” all over again reel soon!

Lake Erie Fishing Hotline, (716) 855-FISH, www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/, fishhotlines.html

Niagara Co. Fishing Hotline, (877) FALLS-US, www.niagarafallsusa.com

This map was made possible through the funding of Erie and Niagara Counties. It was prepared cooperatively between Erie and Niagara County’s respective Sportfishing Promotion Programs, with assistance from the Erie and Niagara County Fisheries Advisory Boards. Additional maps may be obtained by calling: Buffalo-Niagara CVB at 800-BUFFALO or Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. at 877-FALLS US.

I Met a Polar Bear, Face-to-Face! Thanks to Johnny Morris, YOU CAN TOO

  • Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium OPENS Sep, 21, 2017
  • Will be Largest, most interactive, dynamic Fish and Wildlife “Experience” in the World.
  • Located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Will also be the New Home for BASS FISHING HALL OF FAME

By Forrest Fisher

The hair on my arm shot up as if I had just walked into a static field of electricity. My heart rate quickened.  The face of the bear was powerful and profound. The moment was unforgettable. It was extraordinary.  It was sacred and it was full of Polar Bear ambition.  It was striking.

Image is courtesy of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

The largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world offers a video that did that to me! Visit: https://youtu.be/QnG5tf_Pp3I.

 

The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium will celebrate its grand opening on Sep. 21, 2017.  Located in Springfield, Missouri, the 320,000 square foot structure will feature exhibits that manage to create new moments of introduction to conservation, with a focus on providing education and knowledge of wildlife, fish and sea creatures for all that visit.

Wonders of Wildlife will feature a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium adventure and will showcase 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, as well as more than 70,000 square feet of immersive wildlife galleries and dioramas.  Plus, more than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits.

Wonders of Wildlife will also offer another giant reason to visit.  Officials from the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and noted conservationist, Johnny Morris, recently announced that Wonders of Wildlife will also provide a new, permanent home for the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will honor bass fishing legends and was developed in partnership with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), the exhibit includes a fascinating collection of artifacts and memorabilia, including authentic rods and reels, antique lures and historical photos.  More than 60 Hall of Fame members will be featured including Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Johnny Morris, Ray Scott, President George H.W. Bush and many others. Several artifacts date back to the early days of B.A.S.S. tournaments in the 1960s, including the scale used to weigh record catches and the first BASSMASTER Classic victory trophy.

Image is courtesy of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

“To be part of a transformational project like Wonders of Wildlife and share the story of bass fishing with generations of future visitors is a dream come true,” said Donald Howell, president of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame board of directors. “There is no better location to honor the individuals that have played a crucial role in bass fishing. Visitors will be blown away by all that Wonders of Wildlife encompasses, and we’re grateful to Johnny Morris for his partnership and bringing this vision to life in such compelling fashion.”

The site will offer extraordinary experience for visitors with a collection of exhibits and galleries that showcase national conservation organizations within a single “must-see” destination experience, sharing the story of hunters and anglers conserving wildlife and the outdoors.

Other partner galleries include The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame, the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns, the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum, the National Archery Hall of Fame and many others.

“Our mission is to establish a world-class destination that celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water,” said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, a conservationist and the visionary behind the Wonders of Wildlife. “There are so many notable hunters and anglers that have played an important role in the conservation of our precious natural resources and habitats.  We are honored to welcome the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame to help further enrich that story for our visitors.”

Founded in 2000, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to all anglers, manufacturers and members of the media who further the sport of bass fishing.  Honorees include notable contributors to the sport who elevate it to the professional level and lesser-known supporters that have and continue to sustain bass fishing, both honoring the past and looking to the future.

While previous plans called for a stand-alone location in Alabama, organizers recognized the opportunity to reach a far larger audience by partnering with Wonders of Wildlife.

For more information, visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.  For information about the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, visit www.bassfishinghof.com.

 

Mount Rushmore – Independence Day Glory!

The entrance to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial offers clear signage and directions during an initial view of the grandeur of this sacred place.  Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher
Mount Rushmore is no ordinary mountain.  Visiting this sacred place in the Black Hills of South Dakota has been on our “bucket list” for a long time.  As we approached from the north driving down Highway 85, the illusion of darkness rising on the horizon – the Black Hills in the distance, was clear and beautiful. “There they are,” said my excited best friend and wife of 48 years. “They’re so awesome, aren’t they?” Added my granddaughter, Kiley Rose, a college student of environmental science and forestry, and our mentor for all things nature, especially trees and birds.

“They say the Black Hills look dark because of all the tall pine trees that grow here in this part of South Dakota,” Kiley shared. “And this area is rich in birds and animals too.” As we travelled through Rapid City and up Highway 16 (Mount Rushmore Road) on the mountain toward Mount Rushmore, there were large signs on the roadway directing where to turn, park and enjoy the view.

The views from just about anywhere on this National Monument Memorial property are spectacular. The scenes are permanently imprinted to memory, though I also took hundreds of pictures to share with family and friends back home in western New York.

The “Avenue of Flags” offers a lofted flag of every state in the United States, a symbol for freedom and citizenship as a democratic government representing the freedom of all people in this country. Forrest Fisher Photo

The sculptured faces of four of our former great presidents are carved high above in the granite stone of this majestic mountain.  Chosen by sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, visitors have a clear, spectacular image of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln as viewed left to right. For several of the people I spoke with, many simply gazing with a prolonged stare at the figures – the predominant feature of these four American leaders seems to be their eyes.

One man from Texas said, “You know something, I think their eyes offer us understanding and humility.” Another visitor overheard the onset of our discussion and shared, “I agree, their eyes draw my attention almost immediately, as if to invite discussion among each of them.” Another nearby person, a foreign lady visitor from Japan, smiled and leaned our way to say, “I think their eyes create a sense of trust, so I agree with you both, but I also think their noses are predominant.” Instantly, we all smiled at that and I brought up a short story about “smell and scent” to share with this amicable threesome.

I added, “When my family initially came up to visit the monument, we drove past the official entrance and down the hill toward the presidential “side view” of George Washington. My granddaughter and I decided to hike around the parking area access paths and with her knowledge of trees, she went directly to one of the pine trees, put her nose to the tree, smiled, and called me over.” She said, “Can you smell this and tell me what you think this bark smells like, Dziadz?” So I did and said, “It smells like vanilla.” “Yes!” She exclaimed. “This is a Ponderosa Pine tree, this odor is their distinguishing element!”

When you get up close to the bark itself, Ponderosa Pines smell like vanilla extract – something I learned from my granddaughter who is majoring in environmental science.  We never stop learning! Forrest Fisher Photo

So I returned to the group conversation and said, “Have you visited the Grand View Terrace eating area? Some people we met had been raving about Thomas Jefferson’s homemade ice cream recipe – which they serve here.  About the nose, maybe you are right – the ice cream is vanilla flavor.  You can smell it just by standing next to someone with a cone or dish of the tasty dessert.  It was crowded.”  Smiling a bit, I added, “So maybe you are right, the nose is the champion feature of these carved presidential figures!”  Everyone returned a happy face grin and we all moved on, satisfied to share a moment of observation with each other.

Though the Ponderosa pines offer the scent of vanilla and the Thomas Jefferson homemade ice cream recipe is vanilla flavor – and it is delicious, our visit to this incredible place was not ordinary vanilla.

Every visitor, there were 1000’s, appeared to be in reverent awe of the monument.  There was a soft-spoken drone of conversation in the air that hovered above the sound of the breeze, with these flags proudly waffling a soft message of freedom in the wind.  Every single state in the country has their flag displayed here.  It felt so very good to walk among the cascade of flags aptly named, the “Avenue of Flags.”

Mount Rushmore associate, Jane Zwetzig, had provided us with early advice about making sure we test the delicious ice cream.  The vanilla flavor and sweet taste is like the monument, unforgettable.

The information center is a “must-see stop” to insure you understand what to see during your day visit. Forrest Fisher Photo

A stop to the Information Center provided details about current day activities, with informational brochures and details of exhibits, they helped to plan hiking trail and exhibit visits for the day.  There are guided walks down the Presidential Trail and tours, Ranger programs, amphitheater programs, the Sculptor’s Studio, the bookstore, the gift shop and also, an audio tour.  There is also an audio tour device, a handheld wand, that can be rented for $5 and is available in four languages.

The food court is a great food stop, complete with bison burgers, bison hotdogs and a long list of other, non-meat, healthy foods and beverages.

Toward evening, the sculpture is illuminated for one hour, starting 30 minutes after sunset, and that marks the onset of the “Evening Lighting Ceremony.” The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open year-round, except on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the summer, and through 5 p.m. in the winter. The cost is FREE, except there is an $11 parking fee for cars.

At the end of the “Avenue of Flags,” there is a balcony where families gather for pictures to be cherished long into the future.

Hotel accommodations are plentiful in Rapid City, Hill City, Keystone and several other small towns nearby, including infamous Deadwood (Wild Bill Hickok – Saloon No. 10), about 45 minutes to the north.  We spent the overnight at the Gold Dust hotel in Deadwood (http://golddustdeadwood.com/), recently renovated in this former western outlaw town – such a great place to visit.

For more information about the Black Hills, Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument and other local sites, visit: http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/business/black-hills-visitor-information-center.

The busiest day of the year for Mount Rushmore? You might have guessed, is July 4th. According to manager, Lloyd Shelton, Independence Day will usually see a little more than 10,000 visitors per hour. The good news is that the park services can handle that volume and there is plenty of room.

You will find inspiration from the presidential presence with a wonderful sense of opportunity to share and absorb the energy and leadership provided from these mountain-top carvings at the memorial monument.  These elements of Mount Rushmore are unchanged, regardless of the number of visitors.  We enjoyed every moment of our visit – the people, the property, the outdoor elements of unique grandeur.  This is a great summer stop.  Upon arrival, the mystique of this special place is clearly apparent.

We drove all the way from New York State (two fun days), a long trip, and we are already planning a return visit!

 

Travel Destination: NIAGARA USA

  • Water Temp Rising Now, Salmon Hitting with Fish to 22 Pounds
  • Smallmouth Bass Fishing is Good on Upper and Lower Niagara River
  • Southtowns Lake Erie Walleye Contest runs June 10-18

Niagara County, NY; June 9, 2017.   Despite record high water levels in Lake Ontario, salmon and trout fishing continues to be good in the lake, although it did slow down a bit with the recent east winds.  Some good fishing was being reported over the weekend from Tanner Niezgoda, of Newfane, while fishing out of Olcott

Jason Krebs with a pretty Lake Trout taken in the Lower Niagara River on a drift.

Best depths were 60 to 80 feet down over 150 to 300 feet of water with spoons and flasher-fly combos. Salmon up to 22 pounds were caught by Tanner and his sister.

Many of the captains have been tight-lipped on information with the Orleans County Open happening this weekend.  Be forewarned about the Niagara Bar with a report that moss is starting to come down through the river system.

In the Lower Niagara River, the fishing has been good to very good the past week.  Steelhead and lake trout are still holding on, but they probably won’t be around for long as the water nears the 60 degree mark. Minnows, Kwikfish and MagLips were all working on trout from boats up in Devil’s Hole; shore casters in the gorge have been using tubes, swim baits and marabou jigs.

That same hardware will also work on smallmouth bass downriver, but Chuck Booker of Amherst proved that his signature in-line spinners can also catch bass by going 17 for 20 on his last outing this week north of the sand docks in Lewiston.  

Yes, some moss is starting to show up, but you can still catch fish just fine. It will continue to get worse, though, as the month progresses.  Outdoor Writer Mike Brown of Ohio came into town over the weekend and his crew of family and friends managed to catch about 40 fish while fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston.  Tip of the week: Don’t set your rod down to take a picture for your story in the Niagara River without reeling in a little line first.  Anyone who hooks into a nice spinning outfit in the river with a brand new reel on it could be returned to Capt. Joe.

Tanner Niezgoda, of Newfane, New York, Caught a beautiful lake Trout fishing Lake Ontario out of Olcott Harbor.

Upper Niagara River bass fishing also continues to be good.  Remember that the regular season doesn’t open until the third Saturday in June (June 17 this year) and if you are targeting bass, you must use artificial baits.  Speaking of bass, the Annual Opening Day Bass Contest sponsored each year by Kelly’s Korners will NOT be held this year.  Organizers for the tournament didn’t want to see the big bass end up in a fish fry and they decided to retire the event to help protect the resource.  Some walleye are being caught at the head of the river and at the head of Strawberry Island on worm harnesses and jigs.  This could be a sleeper area for the Southtowns Walleye Association’s tournament that kicks off on Saturday, June 10. www.southtownswalleye.org

To help Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, there will be a Free Fishing Clinic at Ellicott Creek Park on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Call Mike Todd at 851-7010 to pre-register – although it’s not required.  

Just a quick reminder on water levels: There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels. This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 600 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling.  Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.  The problem seems to be launching.  The best spot to be right now is the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.  Fort Niagara has an open launch, but you need boots up to your knees or above.  Golden Hill State Park launch is closed and Wilson-Tuscarora Park is day to day (but you need hip boots there, too).  It’s worth the effort for the good fishing!!

ZIP-LINE FUN, THRILLS for YOUNG & OLD!

  • Extraordinary Speed in Safe Flight from Tower-to-Tower
  • Adventure, Fun and Assured Safety
  • Full Body Harness & Head Helmet Protection is Required
  • My Favorite Place: Peek ‘N Peak, near Findley Lake, New York

By Forrest Fisher

The harness and safety helmet assure your personal safety, the rest is SHEER FUN!  My granddaughter Kelsey went first. “Yeaaahhhhh!”  Unforgettable!

Those zip-lines with strange looking towers on the hills in the distance of places we travel definitely beckon for adventure seekers.  Many have never tried them out.

At Peek ‘N Peak Resort and Conference Center (http://www.pknpk.com/) near the quaint country village of Findley Lake, located in the southwest corner of New York, my grandkids would not allow me to just watch them try out the zip-line.

They said, “C’mon Dziadz (Polish word for grandfather), your time to fly from the towers has come!” I smiled and said, “OK, sounds good.”  Not really sure of what I was getting myself into.

We rode the ski-lift to the top of the hill to start out on the high zip-line.  My granddaughter Kelsey went first.  “Yeaaahhhhh!” Screaming away at 120 decibels or more, as she headed for the next tower station more than one-thousand feet away.

My turn was next.  What a minute.  Was there a giant 12-point buck walking to within 10 yards of my tree stand?  Why was my heart pounding?!   I was a bit nervous and even was trembling a bit.  Here I am, an ex-military Vietnam-era veteran and I was shaky.  After all, we were only about 100 feet off the ground and there was a 20 mph wind blowing.  Not to make light of things, but there was rain in the forecast too, and it was dark and cloudy right about now.  I was not going to wimp out.  Couldn’t do that.

I harnessed in, told myself to “think brave”, got the “all clear” after being checked by the operators and, again, I could sense my wide-open eyeballs.

Excitement is a very cool thing in life!  It can be hard to find when you’re looking at 70 birthday candles just ahead.

Zeeooooow.  I zoomed off and in what seemed like 5-minutes, I landed on the next tower about 30 seconds later.  Standing right next to my granddaughter, she asked, “What’d ya think Dziadz, fun right?!”

I answered, “Yup!” And smiled ear to ear in convincing fashion, double-checking to see if my tongue had been frozen to the roof of my mouth and did a double take to see if I didn’t wet my pants.

Kelsey then said, “OK, this tower is really going to be even more fun.  It’s a dual zip-line and we take off together.  I’ll race you to the bottom of the hill!  Are you ready Dziadz?”

We harnessed up.

Yikes, this was exciting!

My sensory expectations seemed in better control after that first long ride.  Clip, Clack, Clip, we were in.  Standing next to each other, we were ready.  Just then, Gazzzooongg!  Thunder in the distance.  Then suddenly, the dark skies opened up.  It was a near-torrential downpour.  They said, “We are closing the towers, your harnessed in, go down if you like, you’re the last riders.”

I felt like Matt Dillon and was up against the fastest draw in the west.  He always keeps his cool.  That was my mindset.

We smiled to each other and screamed our, “Let’s go!”  We were either brave or not so smart (I was thinking that other word that starts on “s” and ends with a “d”….stupid).

In the middle of our descent as we exceeded 70 mph, flashes of light jumped out left and right in the distance.   There was lightning all around us as we zoomed through some nearby treetops.

Flashbulb Fodder?  I asked the Almighty for some help.  He was with us because I can share this fun tale.

We were wet to the bone.  Mighty thankful too, that we did not complete an electrical storm circuit during the flighty speedy trip down the dual zip-line.  It was an incredible experience.  We were both happy for this extraordinary hair-raising survival encounter with adventure.

We climbed down from the tower.  Both of us kissed the muddy ground.  What a run!

I was ready to leave the zip-line and head over to the bar in the sip-line!  You know, a cold water on the rocks is what I needed.

Everybody met in the facility lobby and hugged. Kelsey said, “Wow!  That was incredible, wasn’t it!?” Literally wet to the bone, we all looked up and in just 5-minutes, the clouds had vanished and the sun popped out.  Life is.

“Wanna do it again Dziadz?” I resorted to that canned ear-to-ear smile that we grandfather’s all carry for emergencies and said, “Maybe tomorrow, ok?”

The Giant Dual Zip-Line adventure at Peek ‘N Peak soars over the trees side-by-side on independent lines next to your partner, allowing both riders to enjoy an exhilarating and majestic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  It’s a 2,000 foot long glide path!  Photo courtesy of Peek ‘N Peak

The Giant Dual Zip-Line adventure at Peak ‘n Peek allows you to feel sort of like a bird, a hawk or an eagle on a dive.  Imagine, those types of birds do this all the time to survive via their very nature.

There is also an Aerial Adventure Course that features 69 obstacles and includes eight courses of varying difficulty. Participants climb up and down cargo nets and ladders while navigating course elements, including zip lines, in this tree top adventure.  Suited for all ability levels, this course is a 3-hour, self-guided experience that allows you to explore the course at your own pace.  You can try any (or all) of the eight different courses, working your way through the tree tops from platform to platform, encountering obstacles along the way.

I was humble and kindly declined to look for yet another new adventure experience.  Had to use that ear to ear grin trick again.

The zip line adventure was not really on my bucket list, but oh-my-gosh!  It was such unforgettable fun.  We will do that again, but maybe not, if rain and thunder are in the forecast. I’m going to check beforehand!

The lifestyle we have shared in my family includes being active in the outdoors, but is focused on fishing, hunting, hiking, boating and family campfires.

When my younger grandkids heard that there was a pool here that offered a “wave” and had a “long slide”, good old gramps thought it would be a great next stop too.

We have learned to love this special place in the quiet hills.

Check it out: http://www.pknpk.com/packages-deals/overnight/ski-ride-packages/.

Spring Fever, a Highly Contagious Disease in Missouri

  • Turkey Hunting
  • Crappie Fishing, Bass Fishing
  • Exploring, Camping, Hiking, Canoeing
  • Morel Hunting

This is the time of the year when wild turkeys cause a Missouri hunter’s heart to race.

By Brent Frazee

Once the weather warms, the fish and wild turkeys start stirring, morels starting popping up, the redbud and dogwoods trees bud out.

It’s time to head outdoors!

Where? Here are some places in Missouri where spring is in full display.

  1. TURKEY HUNTING AT TRUMAN LAKE: This massive reservoir in west-central Missouri also has a massive chunk of public land surrounding it. It attracts a lot of hunters, but then, there are a lot of turkeys hiding in the heavy timber.  Hunters who do best get away from the crowds.  A tip: Scout by boat and get back into areas often accessible only by water.  Once you locate birds, slip into the area the next morning, beach your boat and set up in a likely looking strut zone.  It’s work, but it can pay off.
  2. CRAPPIE FISHING AT SMITHVILLE LAKE: The crappies at this reservoir near Kansas City generally spawn a little later than they do at places such as Truman or Lake of the Ozarks.  But fishermen with patience can find outstanding fishing.  The peak of the spawn at Smithville generally takes place in early May.  And it can be outstanding.  Fishermen in coves fish from the bank and boat to catch stringers of big fish.

    As guide and lure manufacturer Jim Dill can attest, Lake of the Ozarks is a hot spot for spring bass fishing.
  3. BASS FISHING AT LAKE OF THE OZARKS: This big reservoir in central Missouri is an old-timer, but it continues to produce amazing bass fishing. A 10-pound bass was caught last spring and many fish exceeding the 5-pound mark have already been caught this year.  Head to the back of coves and pockets with gravel banks and look for spawning beds.  Use Senkos or Flukes and target the nests the bass have built.  Then hold on.
  4. WHITE-BASS RUN AT OZARK RESERVOIRS: Ozark reservoirs such as Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Stockton and Pomme de Terre are nationally known for their spring white-bass fishing. When the water warms and there is enough flow in rivers, the whites head up the tributaries to spawn.  Hit it right, and you can experience some fantastic fishing.  But you better hurry.  The run is in full force, and it generally only lasts several weeks.
  5. EXPLORING AT ECHO BLUFF STATE PARK: This state park captures the rugged beauty of the Missouri Ozarks at its finest. One of the newest additions to the Missouri State Park system, it is carved out of a wilderness-type setting with thick timber, rock formations and a scenic creek.  The state park features a luxury lodge at the edge of Sinking Creek and Echo Bluff, for which the parks was named.  But for the more adventurous, there are plenty of campsites, hiking trails and a chance to view unusual wildlife such as wild horses.  The landscape is alive in the spring with blooming redbud and dogwood trees.

    Echo Bluff State Park in the Missouri Ozarks offers breathtaking scenery and plenty of options for outdoor recreation in the spring.
  6. CAMPING AT BENNETT SPRING STATE PARK: One of Missouri’s oldest state parks, Bennett is also one of the most popular parks in the state.  The main attraction, of course, is the trout fishing.  The Department of Conservation stocks the stream with trout each day of the season, and the fishing is outstanding.  Many visitors like to stay in campgrounds, either pitching a tent or staying in an RV just a long cast away from the beautiful trout stream.  The park also has cabins for rent,
  7. PADDLEFISH SNAGGING AT TABLE ROCK LAKE: Want to catch the fish of a lifetime? Try Table Rock Lake during the paddlefish snagging season, which lasts through the end of April.  The James River arm is loaded with big fish.  In fact, the last two state records, both fish exceeding 100 pounds, came from Table Rock.
  8. HIKING AT JOHNSON’S SHUT-INS STATE PARK: This state park, set in the St. Francois Mountains of eastern Missouri south of St. Louis, is filled with geological wonders. The shut-ins got their name from a portion of the Black River where the rushing current flows through a maze of boulders and rocks, creating a series of mini waterfalls and pools.  That makes it one of the most popular swimming spots in Missouri.  All access points to the shut-ins are temporarily closed due to high water, but that should ease as spring progresses.  A trail system provides beautiful views for everyone from those seeking a short outing to backpackers who desire a long-distance trek.
  9. CANOEING ON THE CURRENT RIVER: This beautiful, clear-water Ozark’s river is often jammed with canoes and kayaks in the middle of summer. But it shows its peaceful side in spring, especially on weekdays.  The steep hillsides are splashed with the pink of redbuds, the white of dogwoods, and the green of other trees.  Bluffs glisten in the spring sun and the gurgle of riffles add to the solitude.  Canoe-rental businesses are available in Eminence, Van Buren and Akers Ferry as well as other locations along the river.
  10. MOREL HUNTING: Once the weather warms and a few timely rains add moisture to the woods, these tasty mushrooms start popping up and set off a giant treasure hunt.  Morel hunting has become a popular pastime unto itself, with thousands of Missourians taking to the woods each spring.  Most public and federal lands with timber have morels.  You just have to beat others to them once they pop up.

 

Jordan Lee Wins 2017 Bassmaster Classic

Jordan Lee started BASS Championship Sunday in 15th place and finished the day with the 2017 Bassmaster Classic Championship Trophy held high above his head. Seigo Saito Photo (BASS)

HOUSTON — BASS Championship Sunday.  In 2013, Jordan Lee was a member of the Auburn University fishing team.  Today, he’s on top of the professional bass fishing world.

The 25-year-old pro from Guntersville, Ala., stayed within striking distance all week at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. Then during Sunday’s final round at Minute Maid Park, he caught five bass from Lake Conroe that weighed 27 pounds, 4 ounces, pushing his three-day total to a tournament-best 56-10.

Lee earned $300,000 and the most coveted trophy in the sport, while Steve Kennedy — a resident of Auburn, Ala. — finished second with 55-1.

“To all of the guys fishing the college tournaments right now, this just says you can do it,” Lee said. “It’s hard work — and you’re going to have a lot of days out here that aren’t good.

“On this lake, I wasn’t sure there was any way I could do it. But you’re never out of it here.”

Lee had every reason to fold after Friday’s first round when he caught only three fish that weighed 8-6. But Saturday provided a revelation that would ultimately lead to his first B.A.S.S. victory.

Top 15 Finishers, payouts went to all 51 anglers in the classic, with 51st place paying $10,000

He was fishing a point with a hard bottom that he found during practice and he believed would pay off during the tournament. After failing to catch a fish there in windy, cloudy conditions on Friday, he returned to the spot in calmer weather on the following day.

“With zero fish in the box at noon on the second day, I went back to that spot and caught a 7 1/2-pounder on the first cast,” Lee said. “When I was landing that fish, there was a whole school of 5- and 6-pounders that came with it.

“Right then, I knew something was about to happen — and I caught two more that were both big.”

Lee still didn’t manage a five-bass limit on Saturday, but the four fish he brought to the scales weighed 21-0.

That moved Lee into 15th place with 29-6 and guaranteed him a spot in Sunday’s Top 25. But he still didn’t feel good about his chances of catching California angler Brent Ehrler, who had led the first two rounds of the event and entered Championship Sunday with 43-4.

Sunday began with Lee planning to fish his magic point all day — even if the fishing had fizzled. As it turns out, he didn’t have much of a choice.

Engine troubles left him without the ability to run from spot to spot and forced him to milk every possible bite out of the point. He eventually had to hitch a ride back to the weigh-in with a spectator that he knew from Cullman, Ala. — a legal ploy in the Classic, as long as no fishing takes place in the spectator’s boat.

Lee’s main baits were a Strike King 5XD crankbait in the citrus shad color pattern, a football jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey for a trailer and a Bullworm on a magnum shaky head.

“I stuck with it all day and caught fish on a football jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey,” Lee said. “I threw the 5XD and the Bullworm and didn’t really get any bites on them. I caught all 27 pounds on that football jig.”

Of the hundreds of points on Conroe, Lee said it was one section of hard bottom that seemed to make his point special. Casting across the point — rather than parallel to it — was the better play all week.

“I never caught any shells or anything, so I think it was a gravel or a rock bottom,” he said. “It was really subtle. There was no brush. It was just kind of a flat point, and I was fishing probably 100 yards offshore.”

Lee had to sweat through the final few anglers, including Kennedy who weighed in 21-15 and fell just 1-9 short of the title. The final angler with a chance to unseat Lee from the top of the leaderboard was Ehrler, who weighed in just 11-10 and finished third with 54-14.

Ehrler was trying to become just the sixth angler in Classic history to lead the event from wire-to-wire and the first since Cliff Pace in 2013. Instead, he became the second angler in a row to lead the first two days, only to fall short in the end.

“I’m disappointed,” Ehrler said. “But what I really wanted to do coming in was be in position to win on the final day. I did that, but things just didn’t work out today.”

Ehrler earned the Berkley Big Bass Award of $2,500 for the largest fish of the event with a 9-12 largemouth he caught on Friday.

Ehrler also earned the GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $1,000 and the $1,500 GEICO Everyday Leader Bonus for leading both Friday and Saturday.

Jordan Lee is walking proud as he displays one of the bass lunkers that he caught in Lake Conroe. Seigo Saito Photo (BASS)

The event itself drew thousands of people to morning takeoffs at Lake Conroe Park, the Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods and the daily weigh-ins at Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.

Official attendance estimates won’t be available for several days.

FISHING FANS Will Experience LIVE COVERAGE of 47th Annual Bassmaster Classic

  • Classic LIVE Will Be Broadcasting in Real Time
  • Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods
  • George R. Brown Convention Center – Houston, TX

Cameras will be streaming live coverage of the Classic leaders on Lake Conroe back to the expo production facility, where hosts will break down the action for fans tuning in through Bassmaster.com and WatchESPN with hosts, Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona, and Davy Hite along with Dave Mercer and on-the-water reporter Robbie Floyd, will provide analysis and live updates. Forrest Fisher Photo

HOUSTON — Fifty-two of the world’s best bass anglers will head to Houston next week to compete for more than $1 million in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, and fans will be able to follow the action as it happens.

Classic LIVE will be broadcasting in real time from the B.A.S.S. booth at the Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“What an incredible venue we have this year being set up in the heart of Houston, Texas, and watching the action unfold live on a lake that some anglers are saying might produce multiple 10-pound-plus bass,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2.

Cameras will be streaming live coverage of the Classic leaders on Lake Conroe back to the expo production facility, where hosts will break down the action for fans tuning in through Bassmaster.com and WatchESPN.  Hosts Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona, and Davy Hite along with Dave Mercer and on-the-water reporter Robbie Floyd, will provide analysis and live updates.

This year, special guest Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings will also be onsite for the Classic LIVE show to provide some local insight. Robison played for the University of Texas and calls Lake Conroe his home lake.

Also, special guest RJ Mitte, who plays Walter White Jr. on the series “Breaking Bad,” will be joining the set at the expo.

The 2016 version of “Classic LIVE” reached nearly 12 million minutes viewed during the three-day event.

Each day of competition will have six hours of coverage, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Watch the tournament leaders catch bass in real time on the exclusive Classic LIVE program on Bassmaster.com and simulcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

Facebook Live broadcasts will be added to the coverage this year, on the B.A.S.S. Facebook page, including coverage of takeoff on Day 1, the Toyota Mid-Day Report all three days around noon, and the press conference with the Top 6 anglers after each competition day.

Also on Bassmaster.com, fans can keep up with every fish caught through BASSTrakk, a real-time leaderboard that shows each angler’s catch according to estimates of marshals assigned to each competitor’s boat. In addition, on-the-water reporters provide a running commentary on the action in the Live Blog.

“Through those features, along with videos and photo galleries, we’ll have the lake covered from top to bottom,” said Jim Sexton, B.A.S.S. VP/Digital. “And we’ll cover every inch of the Minute Maid Park weigh-ins and the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo, as well.”

Qualifying anglers for the classic this year:

Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C. (8)

Drew Benton, Panama City, Fla. (1)

Hank Cherry, Maiden, N.C. (3)

Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla. (5)

Keith Combs, Huntington, Texas (6)

Scott Clift, Dadeville, Mo. (1)

Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La. (4)

Ott DeFoe, Knoxville, Tenn. (6)

Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala. (8)

Brent Ehrler, Newport Beach, Calif. (2)

James Elam, Tulsa, Okla. (2)

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. (16)

Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas (15)

John Garrett, Union City, Tenn. (1)

Shaw Grigsby, Gainesville, Fla. (16)

Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. (14)

Skylar Hamilton, Dandridge, Tenn. (1)

Wil Hardy, Harlem, Ga. (1)

Charlie Hartley, Grove City, Ohio (2)

Matt Herren, Ashville, Ala. (7)

Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz. (5)

Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala. (15)

Michael Iaconelli, Pittsgrove, N.J. (18)

Alton Jones Sr., Lorena, Texas (18)

Alton Jones Jr., Lorena, Texas (1)

Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala. (8)

Timothy Klinger, Boulder City, Nev. (1)

Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla. (10)

Ryan Lavigne, Gonzales, La. (1)

Jordan Lee, Vinemont, Ala. (3)

Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa. (2)

Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Calif. (6)

Bill Lowen, Brookville, Ind. (9)

Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala. (3)

Aaron Martens, Leeds, Ala. (18)

Ish Monroe, Hughson, Calif. (10)

Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C. (3)

Darrell Ocamica, Fruitland, Idaho (1)

Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas (12)

Brandon Palaniuk, Hayden, Idaho (7)

Clifford Pirch, Payson, Ariz. (4)

Jacob Powroznik, Port Haywood, Va. (3)

Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif. (17)

Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (15)

Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky. (1)

Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn. (2)

Gerald Swindle, Guntersville, Ala. (16)

Randall Tharp, Port St. Joe, Fla. (4)

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. (26)

Jesse Wiggins, Cullman, Ala. (1)

Jason Williamson, Wagener, S.C. (2)

Chris Zaldain, San Jose, Calif. (3)

 *Number in parentheses represents the number of times each angler has qualified.

 

For more, please visit:  http://www.bassmastermedia.com/article/FishingFansWillExperienceLiveCoverageOf47thAnnualBassmasterClassic

 

 

Bucket List Trip: Rainy Lake

  • CAMPFIRE ISLAND: Big Fish, Lots of Fish
  • Delicious Food, Lots of Food
  • Great Fishing Spots, Great Guides, Hot Lures 

By Jamie Wilson

For STO 02032017, FISHING and TRAVEL, Picture 1of6As anglers we all have a list of lakes, rivers and streams that have the potential to satisfy our ultimate desire; to completely outdo ourselves. This past season (early June) I encountered one such body of water; beautiful Rainy Lake which borders Ontario and Minnesota.

A group of writers, tackle company owners and reps were invited to the Share The Outdoors Media Event to field test new products from companies such as Clam, St.Croix, Live Target Lures, Gamma Fishing Line and Frabill. The accommodation for this event was Campfire Island which is a hop, skip and a jump from Fort Francis, Ontario, Canada.

The first thing that jumped out at me, besides the beauty and splendor of the lake, was the emphasis for success on the water by owner and operator of Campfire Island, Wayne Howard.  Wayne left no stone unturned pertaining to potential hot spots around the lake along with various presentations, depths and key structure/cover to focus on. He made sure that when we left his dock, we had – at the very least, a crystal clear picture of where to start and how to tempt the Rainy Lake fish contingency.

Campfire Island is geared towards a fishing experience not to be forgotten, as is described on their website “pack the appropriate clothing for the time of year, pack a toothbrush, find your favorite rods and reels, and leave the rest to us”.

The Accommodations

Now, obviously, world class fishing is a high priority, but to most people, so is being well fed and comfortable.  When they say “leave the rest to us” they weren’t kidding. Aside from the amazing fishing related insights from Wayne (which we will get to in a minute), we really didn’t have to think about anything, but, well, fishing.

For STO 02032017, FISHING and TRAVEL, Picture 2of6Picture this, you have a fantastic night sleep in a big comfy bed, then you wake up to hot coffee in your cabin.  Next, you are treated to a big delicious breakfast just in time for your guide to grab your gear and whisk you away to the promised land of smallmouth bass, pike and walleye.  Oh, and I should mention, they send you on your way with a packed lunch and maybe even a wise crack from Wayne (if you are lucky).

For STO 02032017, FISHING and TRAVEL, Picture 3of6Fast forward to your return from a day of fast, furious fishing, the kind that one can only daydream about, and you are greeted by Wayne, who wants to get the lowdown on your day.  The main lodge is the perfect meeting place after a day on the water to tell as many lies as you want about your exploits.  Here you will find a counter full of snacks, a fridge full of whatever you fancy (beer for our group) and a beautiful view as a backdrop to all the fish stories you can stand.  To me, this is paradise and exactly what the doctor ordered.  What’s next?  Well, a delicious three-course dinner in a beautiful wood cabin that’s what.  I tell you, I must have gained five pounds during our event and I was not complaining.  The cabins are spacious and comfortable, the food is plentiful and so are the fish.  Win, win, win and that’s that.

Fishing Rainy Lake

Campfire Island is located on the Ontario side of Rainy Lake in close proximity to the Ontario/Minnesota border.  A quick boat ride from Sorting Gap Marina in Fort Frances and you’ve arrived at fishing heaven.  Being situated just south of the Noden Causeway, Campfire Island is the only Ontario fishing camp with easy access to both the southern and northern arms of Rainy Lake.

Campfire Island spells it out like this, “Our mantra: world class smallmouth bass, trophy northern pike, extraordinary walleye.  Our goal: to have our guests experience the world class fishery on Rainy Lake to its fullest extent”.  I will attest to that.  Day one of my trip was nothing short of amazing.

For STO 02032017, FISHING and TRAVEL, Picture 4of6After breakfast we got prepped and headed out only to be greeted with some of the most horrendous weather I have ever fished in by choice.  Severe cold front, high winds and rain had me in doubt and I tell you this, I couldn’t have been more wrong. My partner in crime on this trip, Gary Abernethy (Live Target and those great “Bait Cloud” lures) and I lost count of our catches.  It was simply unbelievable.  We boated an estimated 90+ fish that day which included smallmouth, pike and walleye.  I can’t describe how much fun it was to cast out a crankbait or tandem willow spinnerbait into shallow banks, points and reefs having no idea what would attack it next.  Our big fish producer for smallmouth that day was the Live Target Crawfish Square Bill in brown/chartreuse while various spinnerbaits with silver flashy blades accounted for large numbers of pike, smallmouth and the odd walleye.

For STO 02032017, FISHING and TRAVEL, Picture 5of6My set-up for spinnerbaits/jerkbaits was a 7’ St.Croix (med/heavy) “Mojo Bass” rod which performed flawlessly the duration of the trip.  I matched it with an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reel spooled with 20-pound braid and paired with a 12-pound fluorocarbon leader (Gamma Edge).  For the crankbaits, I matched a 5.4:1 cranking reel (baitcaster) spooled with 10-pound fluorocarbon and paired up with a 6’6” medium-action (Jason Mitchell) rod which was buttery perfection for those square bills.  Day two was all about shallow diving jerkbaits, which by the way produced one of the biggest smallmouth of the entire trip.  Actually, it was a Live Target silver/blue Rainbow Smelt that triggered a post spawn smallmouth to attack.  Thanks again Gary.

For STO 02032017, FISHING and TRAVEL, Picture 6of6This short but successful outing was done on the southern arm with ace guide, Jamie Bruce. Again, we had only a couple of hours on the water and Rainy Lake produced once again. Really, this lake is nothing short of amazing.

Comfortable lodging, great food, beautiful surroundings and off the charts fishing.  What more can you ask for?  Do yourself a favor, put Rainy Lake on your bucket list, give Campfire Island a call, and tell them the good folks at Share the Outdoors (www.sharetheoutdoors.com) sent you.

Here is the Campfire Island website link: http://www.campfireisland.com/.

Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission – 75 Years of Success

Butler Island camping, fishing and kayaking fun. Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

  • Wildlife Conservation Areas Established 
  • Fish, Wildlife and Public Access Expanded and Managed
  •   Recreational Opportunities for All, Hunters and Anglers too

Butler Island camping, fishing and kayaking fun.  Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)
Butler Island camping, fishing and kayaking fun. Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

By Forrest Fisher

If you have ever travelled to Florida, it seems everywhere you go there are birds, fish, flowers and wildlife of all sorts.  It’s no accident.  In 2017, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the wildlife management area system, one of the state’s greatest natural treasures.

The FWC oversees the statewide network of remote and scenic lands, managing them for conservation and recreation.  To celebrate the milestone and help people discover the opportunities these public lands offer, the FWC is hosting free events throughout the year.

FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski said, “Florida has one of the largest systems of public lands in the country at nearly 6 million acres, and these lands are the best of the best of what wild Florida has to offer.  These natural communities span a variety of habitats from longleaf pine uplands and pine flatwoods, to the hardwood hammocks and sawgrass savannas of the Everglades.  Not only are these areas beautiful, they are managed to provide habitat for many species of wildlife and access for people to enjoy hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and more.”

Florida’s first WMA, Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area, was established in late 1941 in Charlotte and Lee counties.  By the 1960s, there were 28 WMAs.  Today, the FWC is the lead manager or landowner of over 1.4 million acres and works in partnership with other governmental or private landowners on another 4.5 million acres.  These healthy habitats are essential to Florida wildlife – both common and imperiled species.  The FWC uses its scientific expertise and a comprehensive ecological approach to manage a variety of wildlife while balancing public access to these wild lands.

Whitetail Deer abound in several areas of Florida with managed hunting seasons established for WMA areas.  Photo Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)
Whitetail Deer abound in several areas of Florida with managed hunting seasons established for WMA areas. Photo Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

WMAs provide many recreational opportunities including paddling, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing, and target shooting at areas with a public shooting range.  They also offer a wide range of hunting opportunities including special hunts for families and people with disabilities.

Throughout 2017, the FWC will host a variety of events to celebrate Florida’s WMAs.  Events include a statewide geocaching challenge, volunteer work days, a photo contest, guided hikes, fun opportunities to explore WMAs, and citizen science bio-blitzes, where members of the public help document wildlife species at WMAs.

If you are heading to Florida at any time this year, learn more about upcoming events (or to find a WMA near your destination), visit MyFWC.com/WMA75.  You’ll find access link to parks, beaches, fishing hotspots, advice for safety, fun and places to visit.

FWC says you can help them share the fun of what’s in Florida by sharing your visits to Florida WMAs on social media (#WMAzing).

Fishing from shore at Escribano Point WMA can offer fun and a palatable dinner feast for anglers.  Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)
Fishing from shore at Escribano Point WMA can offer fun and a palatable dinner feast for anglers. Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission – 75 Years of Success

Butler Island camping, fishing and kayaking fun. Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

  • Wildlife Conservation Areas Established 
  • Fish, Wildlife and Public Access Expanded and Managed
  •   Recreational Opportunities for All, Hunters and Anglers too

Butler Island camping, fishing and kayaking fun.  Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)
Butler Island camping, fishing and kayaking fun. Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

By Forrest Fisher

If you have ever travelled to Florida, it seems everywhere you go there are birds, fish, flowers and wildlife of all sorts.  It’s no accident.  In 2017, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the wildlife management area system, one of the state’s greatest natural treasures.

The FWC oversees the statewide network of remote and scenic lands, managing them for conservation and recreation.  To celebrate the milestone and help people discover the opportunities these public lands offer, the FWC is hosting free events throughout the year.

FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski said, “Florida has one of the largest systems of public lands in the country at nearly 6 million acres, and these lands are the best of the best of what wild Florida has to offer.  These natural communities span a variety of habitats from longleaf pine uplands and pine flatwoods, to the hardwood hammocks and sawgrass savannas of the Everglades.  Not only are these areas beautiful, they are managed to provide habitat for many species of wildlife and access for people to enjoy hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and more.”

Florida’s first WMA, Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area, was established in late 1941 in Charlotte and Lee counties.  By the 1960s, there were 28 WMAs.  Today, the FWC is the lead manager or landowner of over 1.4 million acres and works in partnership with other governmental or private landowners on another 4.5 million acres.  These healthy habitats are essential to Florida wildlife – both common and imperiled species.  The FWC uses its scientific expertise and a comprehensive ecological approach to manage a variety of wildlife while balancing public access to these wild lands.

Whitetail Deer abound in several areas of Florida with managed hunting seasons established for WMA areas.  Photo Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)
Whitetail Deer abound in several areas of Florida with managed hunting seasons established for WMA areas. Photo Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

WMAs provide many recreational opportunities including paddling, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing, and target shooting at areas with a public shooting range.  They also offer a wide range of hunting opportunities including special hunts for families and people with disabilities.

Throughout 2017, the FWC will host a variety of events to celebrate Florida’s WMAs.  Events include a statewide geocaching challenge, volunteer work days, a photo contest, guided hikes, fun opportunities to explore WMAs, and citizen science bio-blitzes, where members of the public help document wildlife species at WMAs.

If you are heading to Florida at any time this year, learn more about upcoming events (or to find a WMA near your destination), visit MyFWC.com/WMA75.  You’ll find access link to parks, beaches, fishing hotspots, advice for safety, fun and places to visit.

FWC says you can help them share the fun of what’s in Florida by sharing your visits to Florida WMAs on social media (#WMAzing).

Fishing from shore at Escribano Point WMA can offer fun and a palatable dinner feast for anglers.  Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)
Fishing from shore at Escribano Point WMA can offer fun and a palatable dinner feast for anglers. Photo courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC)

Braving It: Journey into the Alaskan Wild

Jim Campbell and 15-year old daughter, Aidan, rafting in Alaska on the Hulahula River, August 2014.

  • A Father and Daughter True Story of Adventure
  • Bone-Chilling Cold, Grizzly Bears, Polar Bears, Inner Strength
  • Guidebook for Conquering Fear as a Parent
  • Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Jim Campbell and 15-year old daughter, Aidan, rafting in Alaska on the Hulahula River, August 2014.
Jim Campbell and 15-year old daughter, Aidan, rafting in Alaska on the Hulahula River, August 2014.

By Forrest Fisher

Adventure above the view of our modern Western culture is not traditional.  When James Campbell and his teenage daughter, Aiden, set off to visit Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, they discover untouched wilderness, bone-chilling cold, grizzly bears, polar bears, wolves, ubiquitous clouds of mosquitoes, compelling them to define new elements for survival and forming a sacred connection with each other and native peoples there.

In the beauty of the natural world found in the Refuge, they form new levels of heartfelt trust and inner strength.

This true story provides extraordinary insight into the wild outdoors to be found hiking, crossing the Hulahula River, paddling the Arctic Ocean and finally, helping local natives build a cabin for winter survival.  They discover new wisdom and ingenuity in a land dominated by blue skies, howling and growling night animals, flowing rivers of ice-cold water, and harsh climate.  The also discover precious clean air, fertile forests, and a special kind of instinct for survival that all the plants and trees and animals have developed.

Jim Campbell and daughter, Aidan, on the Hulahula River, in front of the cook fire, 3 days south of the Arctic Ocean, August 2014.
Jim Campbell and daughter, Aidan, on the Hulahula River, in front of the cook fire, 3 days south of the Arctic Ocean, August 2014.

The book describes the manner of how they each embrace the wild land and each other to complete their journey, as they are tested with the rigors of unfettered Alaskan nature.  They hunt game animals for meat, largely caribou and moose, despite the chill factors that often exceed 50 degrees below zero.  They learn the tools of the survival trade from native Eskimo peoples that become close friends.

This book is a tribute to a land that offers breeding habitat to caribou, geese, ducks, loons, and many other migratory species from five continents.  The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lies about 125 miles east of the National Petroleum Reserve, an area rich in coal and oil that is largely controlled by the oil and gas industry.  We are still an oil-dependent nation and, for me, this book provides new insight for a better understanding of what we might lose if we do not insure to protect this fundamental and relatively unexplored Alaskan American resource.

Aidan and Jim proudly standing in front of the cabin they helped build.
Aidan and Jim proudly standing in front of the cabin they helped build.

If you can imagine to hear the ancient call of the yellow-billed loons that occupy this land, you may begin to understand the epoch of diversity of life and seasonal survival requirements that are forsto-01052017-travel-and-conservation-picture-4of4met by the birds, the animals and the peoples that interact in this sacred and undisturbed land.

The book will provide a trail for you to see how a father shares this colossal wilderness with his daughter while she is growing toward the Western community of modern adulthood.  To buy the book, click here: http://jamesmcampbell.com/books.

Understanding that, this is a timeless story for all of us who love the wilds of the outdoors.  It is about parenting.  It is about nature.  It is about preserving life, enhancing life, and celebration of life, and something that may be lost for all time without close oversight from educated peoples in the Western world.

Enjoy this story of life and survival.  I sure did.  Check out this video to listen first hand, from Jim Campbell himself:

Survive Big Fish at Campfire Island

Dale Black, Gamma Fishing Line inventor, used the giant Campfire Island smallmouth bass and walleye to come up smiling big and often.

  • Giant Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike
  • North Country Grandeur, Great Food
  • Peace, Nature, Sacred Moments 
  • The Perfect Christmas Gift – Affordable

Dale Black, Gamma Fishing Line inventor, used the giant Campfire Island smallmouth bass and walleye to come up smiling big and often.
Dale Black, Gamma Fishing Line inventor, used the giant Campfire Island smallmouth bass and walleye to come up smiling big and often.

By David Gray

If you were writing a Hemingway-like novel and wanted to pick a really eloquent name for a fishing destination, you couldn’t choose a better one than “Campfire Island, Rainy Lake.”   Even the name just sounds perfect and if you are in love with fishing, not just fishing, but fish, fish, fish – then you will find Campfire Island to be a sanctuary for unforgettable fish-catching moments.

Campfire Island Lodge is about just that.  Guests arrive by boat, tour the lodge and guest cabins, than get ready for a world class fishing experience.  At Campfire Island all you do is eat, sleep, fish and enjoy.

Although the island is close enough as the crow flies to Fort Francis, Ontario, and International Falls, Minnesota.  Folks that want to stay connected by cell phone realize that they might just turn it off, as Campfire Island is a true north country fishing lodge resort experience of distinctive quality.  Myself, I choose not to sacrifice my time here with distractions and like most folks today – I’m a busy guy, but I need some time to talk with my creator through the elements of where big fish live.  I figure I owe myself and my work crew this unforgettable destiny at least once a year.  This is that kind of sacred place for me.

Rainy Lake, which is divided by the US – Canada border, is a world class fishery, but at times I have set my rod down and just absorbed the natural beauty of the lake.  There is sanctifying silence occasionally interrupted by the shrill cry of an Osprey or Bald Eagle.  You will never find an angler who has fished Rainy Lake that will not rank it as one of the most stunningly beautiful lakes in North America.  The Campfire Island guides will target the species you want, but their specialty is trophy smallmouth and walleye, and you can see form the pictures that they deliver.

The lodge at Campfire Island is subtle and stunning with masterful amenities that earn respect and admiration from comfortable anglers and visitors.
The lodge at Campfire Island is subtle and stunning with masterful amenities that earn respect and admiration from comfortable anglers and visitors.

The main lodge was built in the mid-60’s and has been maintained just as it was many years ago, emanating that special charm of a premium Canadian fishing retreat.  I suspect that over the years the porch has seen far fewer fish tales than truthful “big fish” fishing stories every day.  The camp may be the perfect corporate or business fishing retreat experience.

The old saying goes that you get what you pay for.  Campfire Island is not a drive-to-do-your-own-thing resort.  At Campfire Island you eat, sleep, fish and fish and fish, while the cooks, guides and staff do everything else.  And the cooks, the guides and owners are some of the best folks I have ever been lucky enough to meet.  You cannot ask for a more justifiable fishing experience, even from a comparable wilderness fly-in fish trip.

The cost is affordable, the value of the services are worth twice the price.  The staff and guides, as well as Pat and Wayne – the owners of Campfire Island, Rainy Lake, all are connected to providing a boundless experience on the water as we meet the forces of big fish and nature in the grandeur of this place.

Campfire Island is a 5-star “Fishing Jewel.”  For more info, call 1-800/363-2018, e-mailfish@campfireisland.com  or check out the web at: www.campfireisland.com.

Gary Abernethy found great success and heavy-duty tooth mark souvenirs using action-style stickbaits in rainbow smelt or golden shiner colors with these effective LiveTarget Lures.
Gary Abernethy found great success and heavy-duty tooth mark souvenirs using action-style stickbaits in rainbow smelt or golden shiner colors with these effective LiveTarget Lures.

“Show Me”- Quest for Personal Best Bass

Ozarks – Part III

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“What goes around comes around.”

Many people believe in that statement and follow a path in life that subscribes to that way of thinking. To a certain extent, it worked for Scott Pauley and me during our recent visit to the “Show Me” State in and around Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Pauley, who is contracted out by the state’s Division of Tourism for promoting its fishing resources (hint, hint I Love NY people), visited Niagara USA a few years ago on his way back from attending the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Lake Placid. He enjoyed a couple of days of fishing, including some pretty darn good bass action on the Niagara Bar, during his September stop-over. He offered to take us out with the hopes of showing off his home state. More on that a little later.

We ended Part II by checking in to Holiday Shores Resort (www.holidayshoresresort.com), located between Osage Beach and Lake Ozark. We unpacked the Tahoe and headed over to the Tropic Island, a 75-foot luxury yacht that offers 90-minute narrated cruises around the lake at a nominal fee. Captain Omer Clark runs a tight ship and the trip was very informative (www.tropicislandcruises.com). Back to our temporary home at Holiday Shores. What was cool about this place was that we had our choice of three different floors for sleeping options.

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We were up bright and early to meet up with Marjorie Beenders and Kyle Stewart for breakfast (at Stewart’s, of course, for another cinnamon roll and a pork chop breakfast) for a recap of what we had experienced so far and plans for what was yet to come . Of course, they were happy the trip was going well, but it’s what they expected. They had much pride in the area, as well as the state. They couldn’t wait to “show me” more.

Off to Lake of the Ozarks State Park (www.mostateparks.com), the state’s flag ship park at nearly 18,000 acres. Not only is it the biggest, it is also the most popular as far as visitation is concerned. I’m still amazed that there is no fee to enter any of the state parks in Missouri. A total of 12 hiking trails are available. That’s not all though. The park offers up a self-guided aquatic trail, mountain biking options and equestrian trails for those that like to ride horses. The park also has boat rentals, public ramps and docks. Fishing is always just a cast away.

Inside the park was another attraction we needed to see: Ozark Caverns. This one was entirely different than the Bridal Cave. There was no internal lighting (we had to carry lanterns on the tour) and we couldn’t take anything extra into the caverns (like wallets or cameras) due to the threat of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) spores being carried out and transported