Going, Going, Gone Fishing!

According to a 2014 report by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation,  participation in fishing among women, children, and Hispanics is on the rise. In that report, of the over 4 million first-time anglers, over 40% were women. Also in the report were three other very telling statistics:

  • Youth – Fishing participation as a child has a powerful effect on future participation - 83.7% of Take the Pledge!adult anglers fished as a child
  • Influencers – Parents, siblings and friends continue to be the largest influencers to the introduction of fishing; specifically, parents introduce 81.8% of 6-12 year olds and 76.6% of 13-17 year olds
  • Social – Over 83% of fishing trips involve more than one person
  • Spontaneous – Most fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of the trip (79%)
  • Reasons to fish – Catching fish and enjoying the sounds/smells of nature. Over 80% of participants report catching fish during their last fishing trip

Bass Pro Shops' Gone Fishing Event is designed to encourage you to help move this trend forward by pledging to take someone fishing. You can start by bringing a child in for our catch and release pond. It's a simple, comfortable atmosphere where they can experience the basic fun of catching a fishing for the first time.

Next step, take our pledge to take someone fishing - partner, neighbor, woman, man, child, young or old. Know someone with special needs? Fishing is something most everyone can enjoy, even if it's simply the physical and emotional benefit of being outdoors in the fresh air and in nature.

So, join the fishing movement with us at our Gone Fishing Event:

June 11 &12, 18 & 19, Saturday and Sunday:

12-4 p.m.

  • It's the free indoor Catch and Release Pond  - we supply the poles! Plus, kids receive a "First Fish" certificate to celebrate the catch!
  • Free Photo Download
  • Free Gone Fishing Door Hanger to the first 100 who attend the catch and release pond.
  • Free Fishing Seminars

  11am   Gone Fishing - Best local destinations for group fishing
  1 pm    Best Bait - What bait to choose for local fishing
  2 pm    Fishing- Anyone can do it ! Best equipment to have for taking friends or family fishing for the first time
  3 pm    Go Fish- information on how to make fishing fun for kids

  • Free Nibbles and Bites Fishing booklet with local fishing information, tips, and more for those who are starting to fish or want to help someone start fishing.
  • Pledge to take someone fishing and be entered in the chance to win a fishing trip to the Keys!Gone Fishing Video Trade-In!
  • Trade in your old video games, help veterans, AND save $5 off a new youth starter rod and reel combo of $19.99 or more. All video games will be donated to the AMVETS association. Limit 1 per person, no matter how many games you donate.

Last, but not least, don't forget to tag your photos of taking someone fishing with #gonefishing!


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Kayaking, Make it an Adventure!

Kayaking is not just for non-motorized paddling on the lake, Make it an adventure! Did you know that kayaking can be more than just a paddle around the lake? Lets go Kayaking! I had no idea until my mom became an avid kayak-er. This is quite the adventurous sport and people all over the country have stepped up kayaking into a 2-3 day even longer adventure. This has prompted me to do a little research. Up till now our kayak trips include a lunch, the dogs, a remote control boat, and an afternoon around our local lake. After watching and learning what my mom does, I'm convinced you can turn kayaking into a vacation if your idea is roughing it, and not a 5 star Hilton. So what do you take on a kayak adventure?

First things first, a kayak. There are several to choose from and 2 basic types. Sit on top and sit in. Ascend Kayaks and Accessories I like my sit-on-top because it's more stable feeling in the water to me, my dogs have more room to walk around, and I can sun my legs, but our sit-in is cooler, since it sits deeper in the water. There are also short skirted sit-ins that are used in white water. I would recommend what ever kayak is most comfortable to you and what suits your all around needs. Choosing a Kayak If you plan to fish, be sure to get one set up for fishing. It will have rod pockets and holders to keep your fishing rods, as well as spots to hold bait and tackle. Be sure to check out our 1 source page for what you should know for kayak fishing. http://1source.basspro.com/index.php/component/k2/81-kayaking/3542-fishing-from-a-kayak 

Next is your paddle. I find a longer paddle gives me more reach and allows a more comfortable longer stroke. A shorter paddle gives you a good shoulder work out and is needed for a shorter kayak. This is a formula for the best paddle fit, (paddler height x boat width) and know your angle low or high, average length is a 220cm paddle. Do some research and adjust your paddle as you progress in the sport.

Next is life Jacket, invest your money well on this item! Fit is very important and this is the item that can save your life! I would recommend a life jacket specific for kayaking. It will be more comfortable. Make sure and try them on and sit down and move your arms in paddling motions. You want a jacket that gives you room to paddle and not pinch or rub in your arm movements. They are weight rated, so know your weight, and don't lie on this one. if you go too light, it may not hold you up. If you go too heavy, it may be too big and slip in the water. They also need to fit snug. If it's loose, it may be too big or not adjusted down far enough. You want it to stay in place should you get wet.

Speaking of wet, should you overturn and get wet, you want your gear to stay dry. This brings the need for dry bags. Especially, since this is an adventure, we are taking a lot more gear with us. There are several different sizes and weights. I would pack different bags for different stuff. Example: food and water filter, clothes, emergency, and sleeping gear I would pack in separate bags. This will allow you to only unpack what you need at the time and not everything you brought with you. It will help in packing your kayak as well. You don't have a lot of ample space, so pack small and tight so you can have options of where to stash and strap your gear down. Water tight is what you need. You can skimp and try zip locks and trash bags, but one dump in the water and will be sorry. This may cost you too. You may have to buy all your friends beer for helping you retrieve your items or worse case, all your gear sinks and you know have no shelter, food, or clothes. Now your adventure is over. So be prepared and pack smart.

Emergency essentials. A paddle, first aid kit, survival tool, knife, whistle, light, headlamp, poncho, rope, cell phone or GPS hand held, and batteries, would be in my emergency kit.

Now, let eat and drink! A small backpack style stove works great for kayaking. Jetboil, is the first type that comes to mind and don't forget fuel. This will allow you to eat a hot meal. Pack a nice selection of dehydrated food, Mountain House beef stroganoff is one my favorites and cookie and cream, ice cream for dessert. Pack enough for all your meals out. Energy bars, beef jerky, and compact snacks are great too. Water is essential to staying hydrated, but heavy to pack. So bring a filter and or filter system so you can pack less water, but be able to drink the water around you safely. Sawyer makes a great versatile filter that be used on a bottle, a bag, or in a hydration pack line. Do you research and get a good one that fits all your needs.

Just a few more items. Clothing and hygiene. Personal care and hygiene items to your preference. No rinse body wash, makes a great packable soap. along with other travel size products. Sunscreen and shades. Pack clothes and wear clothes that are versatile. Pants that zip off into shorts, long sleeve, light weight shirts that the sleeves roll up and fasten. Base layers are always a good idea if the weather is in cooler months, spring and fall. Water shoes that allow the water to leave the shoes and wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. Gloves and a hat will also keep you from getting sun-burnt and blisters on your hands.

Last but not Least, Your sleeping gear. What you invest in and pack can make a huge difference on how well you will sleep. A sleeping bag with the proper temperature rating is essential. Our Ascend 20 degree mummy bag, is a great choice. Packs down small and tight, but will also keep you warm. A compact, self inflating, sleeping pad will help keep you warm and your back happy. Then for shelter, you can do a one man tent or a hammock. The hammocks seem to be the most popular now. They are super lightweight, easy to pack, no poles and comfortable to sleeping. Make sure your not kayaking or sleeping above treeline; that could pose a problem. A bug screen and rain fly are a good idea depending on where you go. Be to be safe and protected than not.

We would love for you to share your photos and read your adventure stories. Do you have any gear on the list, you would like us to cover more in depth on a separate blog? We like to know what interests you, so let us know.. 

kayak photo listpack list

Dogs on the lakecamping



Out for Adventure







You’ll want to Roar Over this Growler!

Truth be told, I’m a simple man. It’s the little things in life that mean the most to me. Good friends, great family, awesome times and possibly better gas mileage outta my Suburban. Everything else is just icing and sprinkles on top of the cake. But every now and then I’ll find something that I am a little lustful over, but a good splurging never hurt anyone. When I saw this particular item come into our store a couple months back, I knew I not only wanted but needed on waiting for me to unwrap under the Christmas tree last year. It was none other than the Stanley Growler.

This 2-quart, stainless steel double wall constructed, vacuumed insulated bad-boy continues the heritage of the Stanley brand of providing great products at exceptional prices. Stanley has been around for quite some time and has made a number of iconic products. Those thermoses of there has probably been on location at more camp sites, hunting blinds, construction projects, boat ramps, lunch areas and back-of-tailgates than any other item known to man.

My step-father who is in the construction company had one for years. One day an intern busted it and he was not asked to return to work the next day, that’s how serious of an offense it was.

Micro and home brewing of drinks has exploded over that past decade. Now one has more options than ever to enjoy an adult beverage of some kind. Along with that explosion, there has been one for products related to enjoying said drinks. Growlers (containers to hold what some would say copious and others would say standard amounts of beer) have grown in immense popularity and are considered a thing of pride by many. Almost every drinking container company and their competitors have made some kind of growler for the outdoors.

There are dozens of different ones to choose from, but when Stanley decided to sit down and make one it was time to take notice. I mean Stanley has been producing all sorts of containers to keep cold drinks cool and hot drinks warm for decades! So taking that knowledge and applying it to a growler, could only lead them to make one of the best products out there right now.

This product was so well received that Men’s Journal included it in their Top 16 Discoveries from Outdoor Retailers  and not to mention how many I saw leaving our store whenever we had them in.

This growler can keep drinks cold for 16 hours and has a heavy duty-handle. The large mouth opening makes it easy to fill this growler up and then pour it out. They have a gift set also that comes with four stainless steel cups that have their own distinct colored hand grips on them. This way no one takes another’s drink, unless it is either the guy who filled up the growler or carried it… either one are allowed to have an extra sip or two!

And probably my favorite thing about this growler is that latch! That is serious. I like that it latches onto the lid as tightly as I do to a BLT in a Weight Watchers meeting.



Giant Bass On Small Water

Giant Bass On Small Water


Bass Pro Shops Grapevine was floored recently by a simple text from Matt Scotch, our very own Kayak Pro Staffer. “I just a caught a double digit fish on Marine Creek Lake during a working man’s tournament, taking first place in both the tournament and the big fish category.” The accompanying photographs were impressive, to say the least. We recently caught up with Matt to ask him a few questions regarding the details, and to find out how Matt typically approaches smaller bodies of water.


Matt, you have had a pretty stellar summer. You recently took 6th place at the Hobie Worlds Qualifier and 2nd place at the Kayak Bass Series on Kentucky Lake. A double digit bass on Marine Creek Lake, worth a dominating win in all categories, must really feel like the icing on the cake. Lets get right to it, what was your tournament strategy for the day?


I always want to get bit quickly in any tournament. I feel getting some good momentum going with a couple of quick fish helps get me settled down, and allows me to make better decisions on the water.


For that quick bite I normally throw a Bass Pro Shops Stick-O (TX-Rigged or Wacky). Most of the time I can fool a couple of small fish throwing this bait in or around cover, grass, docks, or right in the middle of open water schooling fish.


After the quick bite I look to fill my limit and use the clues I’ve learned from being on the water to try and figure out what the bigger fish might be up too.


The day of the tournament I started off on an off-shore spot that I know holds lots of fish, they weren’t home however so I decided to move on and get a limit shallow. One of the keys to catching fish on rocky lakes that don’t have a lot of timber for me is to find wood. I knew this already about Marine Creek and immediately used that knowledge to start boating fish off laydowns and stickups. I stuck with this pattern all evening and it ended up working out pretty well because all of my fish came off some kind of wooded structure: laydowns, stickups, and brush piles.


Lets talk about the big fish, specifically. What was that experience like? Without giving away any precious secrets, how did you catch her?


The Big fish came off a wind-blown main-lake point. The spot I was fishing had all the ingredients you could ask for to catch fish. There was baitwind which created current, and structure (laydowns and brush piles).


I watched several other anglers fish that point but they fished it shallow 1-5’ maybe. After they left I pulled up and immediately went to a spot where I knew there was a big brush pile with several near-by laydowns.


It wasn’t long before I felt a tick in my line and after a solid hook-set the fight was on. Immediately I felt the head shakes and I knew if this was a bass I had a nice one. She never once jumped or came to the surface and I was slightly afraid my big fish was just another catfish surprise. I got the monster to the boat really quick, but she was far from ready to give up. A couple nail biting minutes passed by as the big fish made multiple runs under my kayak trying her best to make a fish story out of our encounter. I was having none of that however as I dug in and fought back with all I could. She finally gave in and came close enough I could get my hands on her. I didn’t have a net, and she wouldn’t open her mouth so I dropped my rod in the yak and grabbed her with both my hands and slid her over the side and into my yak!  


The experience was similar to other big fish I’ve caught. They always seem to have you on the edge of your seat and your heart rate going a million miles per hour. This fish was no different and I couldn’t be happier than I am to share the experience with so many people. That’s what really makes it all so rewarding. 


No secrets here – I was using a TX- Rigged Craw, dragged on the bottom. To be a little more specific it was a Reins Ring Craw, Gamakatsu wide gap hook, .5 oz. Bass Pro tungsten weight, 20lb BPS fluorocarbon, Johnny Morris reel, and a Dobyns 704c rod.


Marine Creek Lake, for our readers that aren’t familiar with the body of water, is considered to be a very small lake. Do you approach small water differently? If so, what are some of the key differences between large lakes and small lakes?


My expectations probably aren’t as high for Marine Creek as some of the other big name lakes around the state, but I don’t approach it a whole lot different than the larger bodies of water. Fish are fish and they are going to relate to the similar things from lake to lake no matter what the size of the lake is.


Like a lot of the DFW area Metro lakes, Marine Creek does get a fair amount of fishing pressure. One thing I did Thursday was downsize my bait. I feel that a smaller finesse approach will get more bites on highly pressured waters like Marine Creek. I don’t necessarily go to 6lb. test when I say finesse, I’m really just talking about the baits profile size more than anything. Small lakes can produce quality fish and I’ve always known there were at least a few big fish in Marine Creek.


Matt, thank you for taking a few minutes to answer some questions and share some of your knowledge with our readers. Bass Pro Shops Grapevine couldn’t be more pleased with your talent and leadership, and we truly feel blessed to have you on our team. Good luck with the rest of your season, and tight lines.


Introduction to Matt Scotch, Kayak specific-Pro-staffer

The 2014 fishing year revealed many interesting trends, but none could be more obvious than the soaring popularity of kayak angling. My name is Dean Brown, and I proudly work and write for several organizations, including Bass Pro Shops (Grapevine, Texas). Having spent the last six years in the seat of a kayak, and a lifetime chasing trophy bass, it was only a natural step for me to incorporate these specific skills and interests into my work life. Last year we began discussing the idea of adding a kayak angler to our sponsor-level pro staff, and after a few meetings and proposals, I was tasked with creating our very own kayak fishing team. Announcing the project and launching an application process was simple, but sifting through a plethora of high-caliber resumes was a daunting experience. The response, literally, was overwhelming. Our new team would consist of only two anglers: I would serve as team captain and manage the operation, and our new pro staffer would represent Bass Pro Shops in varied capacity. While this certainly made for a difficult decision, one applicant stood out among the rest. His tournament history was impeccable, and after interviewing him both in the office and on the water, I knew we had found the right person for the job. I could spend an entire day writing about his accomplishments, but I rather like the idea of giving our new addition the opportunity to speak for himself. We are proud and excited to introduce Matthew Scotch, our very first kayak-specific pro staffer.


Matt, first of all, welcome to the Bass Pro Shops family. If you would, tell our readers a little bit about your tournament history. What are some of the highlights?


Thank you Dean for the introduction, I couldn’t be happier than I am to be joining the team at Bass Pro Shops.

My tournament history and highlights have a very modest beginning. When I bought my first kayak (Hobie Pro Angler  14) I did it just because I enjoyed fishing and I viewed it as a way to get on the water more often. One evening, a few years back now, one of my neighbors noticed me hauling my kayak and decided to follow me home. I didn’t know it, but this unexpected meeting would change fishing, especially out of a kayak, for the rest of my life. My neighbor’s name is Mike Whitacre, and if you don’t know, he’s a pretty sensational kayak fisherman and video editor. That evening Mike told me about kayak “tournaments” and suggested that I tag along if I ever had time and give one a try. It took a few months but I finally came around to the idea and joined Mike for my first kayak tournament: a North Texas Kayak Bass Fishing (NTKBF) tournament at Purtis Creek State Park. That morning started off all kinds of wrong with me “turtling” flipping my kayak and gear into the lake, but I got it together and managed to catch some fish before flipping my kayak a second time; reaching out to secure a nice fish that was wrapped around a piece of timber. I ended up finishing 4th out of 25 anglers and tied for Big Bass. I didn’t take home any money or prizes

that day but I did come away with a love for a new sport: kayak bass fishing. Since that tournament at Purtis Creek, I’ve now fished 25 kayak tournaments to date. I’ve come in 1st or 2nd 11 times and finished in the top five in 16 of those events.

This new project will afford us the opportunity to conduct a number of clinics and demonstrations. As far as kayak angling is concerned, what topic or topics are important to you? What other key points will you cover in your presentations?

I primarily plan on talking about black bass and crappie fishing and how to do it effectively year around from a kayak in North Texas waters. I also look forward to discussing boat positioning, tournament strategy, and various tricks of the trade that I use to help people catch more fish.

I grew up fishing with my Father and Grandfather, and I know your story couldn't be more congruent. Tell us about your formative years, and briefly touch on one or two of your most cherished memories.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that embraced hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.  My father and both grandfathers spent a lot of time teaching me how to fish when I was a young man. It really comes as no surprise that those are some of my most vivid memories when I reflect on my early years. I spent my summers divided between my grandparent’s houses. My Mom’s parents lived on a farm with five stocked tanks in Whitesboro, where I beat the banks around the ponds from sun-up to sun-down. Dad’s parents lived 30 minutes away on the banks of Lake Texoma where we chased Striped Bass, Smallmouth, and just about anything that would bite our hooks. When I wasn’t at my grandparents in the summer I spent a lot of time fishing with my Dad at our bay house in East Matagorda. I can remember many nights where my dad and I caught speckled trout until the sun came up. I really was fortunate to have such great role models growing up.

What Bass Pro Shops products have you had a chance to explore thus far? Specifically, how are you using them to put fish in your kayak?

I’ve had a lot of success recently throwing the Bass Pro Shops Stick-O wacky rigged for Black Bass. Bass Pro offers Stick-O’s in three different sizes with the 5 ¾” and the 4 1’4” being my two favorite sizes. I’m using a Gamakatsu Size 1 weedless worm hook, 12lb line, and a Med- Heavy Fast-tip rod. I like to add an Owner Flashy Accent small willow leaf blade to my weightless Stick-O (this is a secret of mine). I find that the flash helps attract strikes from fish that wouldn’t otherwise bite.  I’ve also had a lot of success recently with the Bass Pro 2” Baby Shad (Firecracker and Chartreuse flash). I’m rigging the jig body on a 1/32 oz. Bass Pro jig head, 6lb mono, and a 6’ UL rod.  The tactic that has been working the best for suspended

crappies lately is to find bait and fish in standing timber with the electronics. Once I locate the fish I pitch the jig anywhere from 4-8’ past the target and let the lure swing back to me through the strike zone. The crappies are biting the bait very aggressively on the fall.

What other products have you been using recently (other than Bass Pro Shops merchandise)?

This almost comes off as a trick question because I have so many rod and reel set-ups and bait/lure combinations. Over the past year I’ve been working on my finesse fishing technique a lot. I’ve been doing a lot of drop-shot and shaky-head fishing. It’s amazing how many days with tough conditions we face here in North Texas and how pulling out the “Fairy-wand” when the conditions get this way can make the difference between catching and not. When it comes to drop shot it’s my Dobyns Champion Extreme 702 SF paired with a Shimano Cl4, 20lb Power Pro Braid, 12lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon,  Gamakatsu size 1 wide gap hook, 1/8oz weight, and a Reins Bubbling Shaker. This combination puts fish in the boat just about every time. For shaky-head I’m using the same set-up I describe above with a Missile Baits jig-head and a Grande Bass Rattlesnake in Chartreuse Pepper. I don’t think there is a better way to catch spawning bass than with this combination

What are some of your favorite lakes in Texas to launch your kayak?

We are very fortunate to live in an area of the country with many bodies of water many of which are great for kayak fishing. My top places to launch a kayak would have to be Amon Carter Lake, Lady Bird Lake, Mineral Wells State Park, Lake Athens, and Lake Texoma.

Here at Bass Pro Shops, we have a strong commitment to children. Specifically, we strive to foster a healthy relationship between our youth and the outdoors. What advice would you give to a young boy or girl eager to catch their first fish?

If it’s just about catching fish I would advise any young angler to grab some crickets, grasshoppers, night crawlers, a Zebco 33, bobber, hook, and get out to the nearest body of water you can find, be it a local pond or small lake. This is how I started fishing many years ago. You will grow from the basics, and it doesn’t get any more basic than that.

For me, the physical aspect of kayak angling is the cornerstone of my obsession. It's a difficult phenomenon to describe, but from the seat of my kayak, I feel more like a hunter in the truest sense of the word than any other medium. Of course, diet plays a big role in fueling this type of sport. What are some foods and or snacks that drive your typical excursion?

This might come as a surprise but I typically don’t eat much when I’m out on the water. I try to get a meal in before I start and when I’m done. When I do take snacks, its granola, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky that I turn to. I typically have a Gatorade, energy drink, and several bottles of water with me at all times to keep hydrated.

We all live downstream. This phrase is interpreted differently from one person to the next, but what does it mean to you?

To me it’s about leaving a minimal carbon footprint and taking care of the resources we have; leaving our parks, rivers, lakes, and streams cleaner than we found them for future generations to enjoy.

In the world of fishing, we talk a lot about colors. We all know that green pumpkin is a staple, but in your opinion, what is the most underrated color? Feel free to elaborate.

To me the most underrated color in bass fishing is anything with purple. Some of my favorite color combinations have purple flake or purple hue to them. I think purple is a really good shad imitating color and since most anglers aren’t throwing it the fish haven’t necessarily seen that exact bait before. The Yamamoto Senko in Smoke Holo/Blue Pearl Silver produces fish trip in trip out for me especially in clear water.

Anglers and hunters watch the weather with a keen eye. Historically, I have a horrible habit of giving the extremities an opportunity to get under my skin. That is to say, I can't help but launch under post-frontal conditions with a negative attitude. Do you let a north wind shake you up, or do you power forward with confidence?

Fishing in North Texas we tend to face adverse weather conditions seemingly all the time. I tend not to get negative about the conditions because I can’t control them, but I do temper my expectations when the weather isn’t cooperating. A lot of times I won’t go out on a bad weather day. Instead I’ll work on tackle organization, tying jigs, or do some fishing related research for the more favorable days.

What are some of your goals for the 2015 season?

My goals for 2015 are pretty simple. I need to catch fish and win some tournaments, fulfill contractual obligations with my main sponsor Bass Pro Shops, and last but not least enjoy the ride. I’m very excited and looking forward to seeing what this next year holds in store.

About the author: Dean Brown is a Fishing Team Lead for Bass Pro Shops and a freelance outdoor writer. His personal website, Up Down Bass, has been nominated for several awards and featured in a variety of outdoor publications. You can easily navigate to his website here: http://updownbass.com


Last Minute Christmas Ideas for the Outdoorsman who has it all…

To make it easier on everyone, I have decided to post my favorite last minute Christmas Gift ideas for the wives, girlfriends, parents and children who might need a little help buying their man a Christmas present. Here are my suggestions this holiday season.

Costa “Cortez” Sunglasses
Costa’s Cortez offers a large fit with a bold wrap shape, meant to block glare from entering from the sides. The linear venting system alleviates lens fogging, and the temple tips feature open slots for a retainer cord. “Anglers who use our sunglasses know they’re going to be able to see the fish faster, and their eyes are going to be more relaxed, even after a full day on the water in harsh conditions,” said Chas MacDonald, president of Costa. The frames are built of nearly indestructible co-injected molded nylon, with sturdy integral hinge technology. The hypoallergenic rubberized interior lining and nose pads keep the sunglasses comfortably in place all day, providing a “forget-they’re-on” fit. The price starts at $169 MSRP

ThermoCell Heated Shoe Insoles
Cold feet are miserable. Here is a cool product from ThermoCell, heated insoles that you control wirelessly with a remote control. Rechargeable batteries are imbedded in the soles. The remote allows you to pick between two heat settings or no heat. MSRP is $99.99. 


Seaguar Smackdown Tournament Braid - 150 Yards
This is the most awesome new fishing line to come out in years. This braided line is sleek, ultra-strong tournament quality braid is so thin that the 20-lb. test has the diameter of 6-lb. monofilament line! Smackdown Braid features 8 ultra-thin, micro-weave strands in a round, smooth-casting profile with extra sensitivity. In addition to Smackdown's unparalleled abrasion resistance, it provides exceptional knot and tensile strength. You cannot go wrong picking up a pack of the Seaguar. $32.99 MSRP for 150 yards of 20lb test.

Bass Pro Shops GripMaster™ 9 inch Fillet Knife
This is an affordable, tough, and super sharp fillet knife. Featuring the 420 stainless steel thru handle construction for long-term usability, the GripMaster Fillet Knife's razor sharp blade includes a serrated section that's perfect for tackling really tough jobs. The rubber handle provides outstanding cutting comfort and control. The GripMaster fillet knife includes a durable, molded hard plastic sheath designed with vents and a convenient belt clip. MSRP $5.99

Wave Away Sonar GPS Screen Cleaning Kit
This is an incredible, safe cleaning product for your marine electronics, smart phones, tablets, LCD television, or sunglasses. Wave Away Sonar & GPS Cleaner is made without alcohol or ammonia, which can remove the protective coating from your screen. For best results, spray the screen with a couple pumps of the cleaning solution, and then wipe it off using a microfiber cloth (included). Afterwards go over the screen once more with a dry section of the cloth. For hard water spots, leave the cleaning solution on longer, so it can really dislodge the grime. The Wave Away Sonar & GPS Cleaner can also be used for non-waterproof electronics, just spray the cleaning solution on the cloth rather than directly onto the item itself. MSRP $9.99
RedHead Lifetime Guarantee All-Purpose Socks for Men 
I have been wearing these socks for 3 years in the winter; there is no better sock on the market for the price. If ever they wear out, just return them for a FREE replacement to your closet Bass Pro Shops! They are made with 100% fine grade itch-free wool against the skin from top to toe, which makes these socks softer and our stitching technique adds double-reinforcement to all stress zones. 81% wool, 17% stretch nylon, 2% spandex. Leg length: 13”. Made in USA with MSRP of $11.99
Strike King MOISTURE WICKING long sleeve shirt 
Strike King new clothing line has some good looking shirts. My favorite is the moisture wicking shirts for the winter time.  100% Poly interlock moisture wicking performance tee shirt. It has a smooth collar, tagless and comes in long sleeves only. The new Strike King logo appears on the chest and back of the shirt. MSRP $ 28.00

 Yamaha Pro Fishing Hat
Out at sea or on land, shield your face from the sun and show your Yamaha Pro Fishing Pride. This Yamaha Pro Fishing hat is made from a royal blue cotton twill and four black or white mesh panels. The Yamaha Pro-Fishing logo is featured on the front. MSRP $19.99


Lastly, what not to buy your favorite outdoors-man this Christmas:

  • ·        Fishing rods and reels
  • ·        Lures
  • ·        Bass boat or kayak
  • ·        Rain suits
  • ·        Shoes or boots
  • ·        Guns
  • ·        Thermal Underwear
  • ·        Fishing Electronics


Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! May this joyful season greet you with health and happiness. Please continue to pray for our military….


About the author:

Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and prostaffer for Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Lawrenceville, GA. He retired as a Lieutenant/Paramedic/Firefighter with Gwinnett County Fire, GA after 29 years of service in 2013. He is currently a contracted employee with NAVICO/Lowrance working as the College Fishing Recruiter. He has been working in the Outdoor Industry for over 20 years. He and his beautiful wife, Kim live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab Jake. They volunteer with Operation One Voice, a 501c3 supporting Special OPS soldiers (www.operationonevoice.org)



Lowrance Sonar Tutorial- Part II


After last weeks blog a few people asked to see Part 2 of the basic sonar article, so here it is.... Enjoy this "oldie but a goodie" from LOWRANCE... Tom, Jr.
Fish Arches
One of the most common questions that we receive is "How do I get fish arches to show on my screen?" It's really pretty simple to do, but it does require attention to detail, not only in the way you make the adjustments to the unit, but to the whole sonar installation.

It also helps to see the Why Fish Arch section below. This explains how arches are created on your sonar's screen.

Screen Resolution
The number of vertical pixels that the screen is capable of showing is called Screen Resolution. The more vertical pixels on a sonar's screen, the easier it will be for it to show fish arches. This plays an important role in a sonar unit's capability to show fish arches. The chart below lists the pixel sizes and area they represent down to 50 feet for two different screens.
0-10 feet
1.2 inches
0-10 feet
0.5 inches
0-20 feet
2.4 inches
0-20 feet
1.0 inches
0-30 feet
3.6 inches
0-30 feet
1.5 inches
0-40 feet
4.8 inches
0-40 feet
2.0 inches
0-50 feet
6.0 inches
0-50 feet
2.5 inches
As you can see, one pixel represents a larger volume of water with the unit in the 0 - 100 foot range than it does with the unit in the 0 - 10 foot range. For example, if a sonar has 100 pixels vertically, with a range of 0 - 100 feet, each pixel is equal to a depth of 12 inches. A fish would have to be pretty large to show up as an arch at this range. However, if you zoom the range to a 30-foot zoom (for example from 80 to 110 feet), each pixel is now equal to 3.6 inches. Now the same fish will probably be seen as an arch on the screen due to the zoom effect. The size of the arch depends on the size of the fish - a small fish will show as a small arch, a larger fish will make a larger arch, and so on. Using a sonar unit with a small number of vertical pixels in very shallow water, a fish directly off the bottom will appear as a straight line separate from the bottom. This is because of the limited number of dots at that depth. If you are in deep water (where the fish signal is displayed over a larger distance of boat travel), zooming the display into a 20 or 30 foot window around the bottom shows fish arches near the bottom or structure. This is because you have reduced the pixel size in a larger cone.
100 pixels
240 pixels
On the right above is a section of a 240 vertical pixel screen. On the left is a simulated version of the same screen with only 100 vertical pixels. As you can see, the screen on the right has much better definition than does the one on the left. You can see fish arches much easier on the 240 pixel screen.
Chart Speed
The scrolling or chart speed can also affect the type of arch displayed on the screen. The faster the chart speed, the more pixels are turned on as the fish passes through the cone. This will help display a better fish arch. (However, the chart speed can be turned up too high. This stretches the arch out. Experiment with the chart speed until you find the setting that works best for you.)

Transducer Installation
If you still don't get good fish arches on the screen, it could be the transducer's mounting is incorrect. If the transducer is mounted on the transom, adjust it until its face is pointing straight down when the boat is in the water. If it is angled, the arch won't appear on the screen properly. If the arch slopes up but not down, then the front of the transducer is too high and needs to be lowered. If only the back half of the arch is printed, the nose of the transducer is angled too low and needs to be raised.

Fish Arch Review

1. Sensitivity

Automatic operation with Advanced Signal Processing (ASP™) turned on should give you the proper sensitivity settings but, if necessary, the sensitivity may be increased.
2. Target Depth
The depth of the fish can determine if the fish will arch on the screen. If the fish is in shallow water, the fish is not in the cone angle very long, making it difficult to show an arch. Typically, the deeper the fish, the easier it is to show an arch.

3. Boat Speed
The boat's engine should be in gear at an idle or just above. Experiment with your boat to find the best throttle location for good arches. Usually, a slow trolling speed works best.

4. Chart Speed
Use at least 3/4 chart speed or higher.

5. Zoom Size
If you see markings that are possible fish, but they do not arch, zoom in on them. Using the zoom function lets you effectively increase the screen's resolution.

Final Notes on Fish Arches
Very small fish probably will not arch at all. Because of water conditions such as heavy surface clutter or thermoclines, the sensitivity sometimes cannot be turned up enough to get fish arches. For the best results, turn the sensitivity up as high as possible without getting too much noise on the screen. In medium to deep water, this method should work to display fish arches.

A school of fish will appear as many different formations or shapes, depending on how much of the school is within the transducer's cone. In shallow water, several fish close together appear like blocks that have been stacked in no apparent order. In deep water, each fish will arch according to its size.

Why Fish Arch
The reason fish show as an arch is because of the relationship between the fish and the cone angle of the transducer as the boat passes over the fish. As the leading edge of the cone strikes the fish, a display pixel is turned on. As the boat passes over the fish, the distance to the fish decreases. This turns each pixel on at a shallower depth on the display. When the center of the cone is directly over the fish, the first half of the arch is formed. This is also the shortest distance to the fish. Since the fish is closer to the boat, the signal is stronger and the arch is thicker. As the boat moves away from the fish, the distance increases and the pixels appear at progressively deeper depths until the cone passes the fish.
If the fish doesn't pass directly through the center of the cone, the arch won't be as well defined. Since the fish isn't in the cone very long, there aren't as many echoes to display, and the ones that do show are weaker. This is one of the reasons it's difficult to show fish arches in shallow water. The cone angle is too narrow for the signal to arch.

Remember, there must be movement between the boat and the fish to develop an arch. Usually, this means trolling at a slow speed with the main engine. If you are anchored or stopped, fish signals won't arch. Instead, they'll show as horizontal lines as they swim in and out of the cone.

Actual On-The-Water Chart Recordings
The following chart records are from a Lowrance X-85 liquid crystal graph sonar. It has 3000 watts of transmitter power, a 240 x 240 pixel screen and operates at 192 kHz.

X-85 Sample 1
This shows a split-screen view of the water beneath the boat. The range on the right side of the screen is 0 - 60 feet. On the left, the screen has a 30-foot "zoom" rangeof 9 to 39 feet. Since the unit is in the automatic mode, (shown by the word "auto" at the top center of the screen) it picked the ranges to keep the bottom signal on the screen at all times. The water depth is 35.9 feet.

The unit was used with an HS-WSBK "Skimmer®" transducer mounted on the transom. The sensitivity level was adjusted to 93% or higher. Chart speed was one step below maximum.

A. Surface Clutter
The markings at the top of the screen can extend many feet below the surface. This is called Surface Clutter. It's caused by many things, including air bubbles created by wind and wave action or boat wakes, bait fish, plankton and algae. Many times larger fish will be seen feeding on the bait fish and other food near the surface.

GRAYLINE® is used to outline the bottom contour which might otherwise be hidden beneath trees and brush. It can also give clues to the composition of the bottom. A hard bottom returns a very strong signal, causing a wide gray line. A soft, muddy or weedy bottom returns a weaker signal which is shown with a narrow gray line. The bottom on this screen is hard, composed mainly of rock.

C. Structure
Generally, the term "structure" is used to identify trees, brush, and other objects rising from the bottom that aren't part of the actual bottom. On this screen, "C" is probably a tree rising from the bottom. This record was taken from a man-made lake. Trees were left standing in several areas when the lake was built, creating natural habitats for many game fish.

D. Fish Arches
The X-85 has a significant advantage over many competitive units in that it can show individual fish with the characteristic arched mark on the screen. (See Why Fish Arch for more information.) On this screen, there are several large fish holding just off the bottom at "D," while smaller fish are hanging in the middle of the screen and near the structure.

E. Other Elements
The large, partial arch shown at "E" is not a fish. We were trolling near the entrance to a cove that had hundreds of tires banded together with wire cables. Other cables anchored the tires to the bottom. The large arch at "E" was created when we passed over one of the large cables that anchored the tires.

X-85 Sample 2

This shows a full-screen zoom view of the water beneath the boat. The range is 8 - 38 feet, which gives a 30-foot zoom. Since the unit is in the automatic mode, (shown by the word "auto" at the top center of the screen) it picked the ranges to keep the bottom signal on the screen at all times. The water depth is 34.7 feet.

The unit was used with an HS-WSBK "Skimmer®" transducer mounted on the transom. The sensitivity level was adjusted to 93% or higher. Chart speed was one step below maximum.

A and B. Fish Arches
The X-85 has a significant advantage over many competitive units in that it can show individual fish with the characteristic arched mark on the screen. (See Why Fish Arch for more information.) On this screen, there are several large fish holding just off the bottom at "B", while an even larger fish "A" is hanging directly above them.

C. Structure
Generally, the term "structure" is used to identify trees, brush, and other objects rising from the bottom that aren't part of the actual bottom. On this screen, "C" is probably a large tree or trees rising from the bottom. This record was taken from a man-made lake. Trees were left standing in several areas when the lake was built, creating natural habitats for many game fish.

D. Surface Clutter
Surface Clutter "D" at the top of the screen extends below 12 feet in places. Small fish can be seen beneath the surface clutter. They are probably feeding.

Original article from Lowrance, unknown author.... Tom, Jr.


Harkers Island for some Redheads

I just recently I got back from what has become an annual duck hunting trip out to Harkers Island, NC. We were hunting on the Core Sound (pictured below) in search of some Red Heads.

Core Sound

The Core Sound is located in Carteret County. South of popular fishing in Hatteras, Okracoke and the Pamilico Sound.

Core Sound Map

Like many old communities on the Southern coast, Harkers Island is undergoing a transformation. People from elsewhere in the state and country are arriving and buying land on the island, building summer houses or settling in as year-round residents. Fishing and hunting and boatbuilding no longer form the core of Harkers Island’s daily life,but rest assured the duck hunting is still as good as yesteryear!

Historical Waterfowl hunting

Photo credits: Harkers Island; photo by Roger Haile. In Carteret County, and hunting party aboard a menhaden boat; photos in the collection of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum.

The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, at the southeastern tip of the island where Shell Point juts into Core Sound, provides a snug haven for the centuries’ old traditions of these maritime communities. The museum serves as a center for the preservation and documentation of the region’s material culture, and a gathering place where Down Easterners celebrate and renew old ties.

Museum exhibits display beautiful historical and modern-day examples of the region’s finest decoy carving, as well as handmade nets, crab pots, and other tools of the region’s trades, all of which require a high level of skill and experience to make. Exhibits lovingly showcase the daily lives of their hardy forebears, with handcrafts like quilts and tatting, implements of their various maritime occupations, family letters, sports regalia, and many other treasured items.

Given the history of this region and the success of our trips, Harkers Island will no doubt remain an annual staple in our duck hunting season.

Pictured Below one of the first Red Heads harvested during our trip.

Red Head

This trip we ended up having some extremely cold weather to deal with and I was concerned I did not have enough gear and clothing to stay warm and be able to truly enjoy the trip.

I am extremely cold natured but when I checked the weather after hunting Tuesday only to find that they had changed low yet again to bone chilling 8 degrees wind chill, I was worried to say the least.

This was by far the coldest weather I have hunted in yet since I was born and raised right here in North Carolina and temperatures like this are really not that common.

Some of the clothing I used:

Our premier base layering system, RedHead Enduraskin Long-Sleeve Cold Mock Shirt for Men features AXE Anti-Odor Technology and extra-thick 4-way stretch fabric that is ideal as a base layer in cold temperatures. Moisture-wicking, quick-drying, easy care 82% polyester/18% spande

480 gm, 100% polyster spun fleece fits snugly against your skin yet stretches easily to allow for walking and bending. Elastic waist and handy rear zippered pocket. Gives you total moisture control in all types of waders, keeping you completely dry!

Made with 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable Refuge HS with HyperShield 2.0 Technology, the Drake Waterfowl Systems MST Eqwader Plus 1/4-Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt for Men features pullover style with placket-length zipper for easy on/off, fleece-lining, taped seams, midchest adjustment, neoprene cuffs, magnetic call pouch, and zippered security pockets.

RedHead Waders deliver 100% waterproof protection for the entire family. The flexible 3.5mm neoprene construction traps and holds body heat to give you a shield from the chill of the water. The wader's durable ozone-resistant rubber boots are lined with 600 gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation to keep your feet warm. Adjustable nylon shoulder straps with quick-release buckles and nylon wading belt help provide a comfortable, customized fit.

 Wader Jacket is a shorter version of our 4-in-1 Parka in a warm waist-length style with elastic bottom for wearing over your waders. The jacket features a 100% waterproof/breathable Bone-Dry membrane; 150 gram ThermoLite Insulation in the body, 100 gram ThermoLite Insulation in the hood and arms; Taslon oxford shell; Ripstop-oxford honeycomb fabric at shoulders and articulated elbows; double storm flap with rain drain; lined collar with chin flap; 3-piece hood; side-seam adjusters; hook 'n' loop cuffs with neoprene barriers; 2 large snap-close cargo pockets; magnetic-closure chest pockets with hidden drainage; lined hand warmers; and license loop. The liner features a water-resistant nylon camo with 100% poly microfiber lining which reverses to brown; built-in shell holders; knit wrists; elastic waistband; micro tricot-lined hand warmers; and 150 gram ThermoLite insulation. Mesh ambidextrious shooting pad pocket with shooting pad included.  

Our Cold Weather System—C.W.S.—is your shield from the full frontal assault that mother nature can unleash in the coldest months of the year, and it will soon become your favorite cold weather system. In driving sleet and blinding snow, you'll stay warm, dry, and comfortable while you stalk your prey. The quiet, waterproof/breathable warp knit suede The quiet, waterproof/breathable warp knit suede features our BONE-DRY 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable membrane, a technical barrier to pounding moisture that also lets your body exhaust perspiration, increasing your comfort level while hunting in inclement weather. C.W.S Bibs feature ultra quiet, waterproof, breathable warp knit suede with 150 grams of Thermolite insulation. Features include integrated adjustable stretch suspender system with dual clip release, 2 front waterproof lock down zipper chest pockets, 2 front slash pocket, 2 waterproof lock down zippered cargo pockets, extra wide belt loops, and two 20 inch waterproof lock down slider leg zippers for easy on and off. 60% cotton, 40% polyester.


Thanks to the hunting gear I had with me I will have to say I stayed warm from the boat ride out until we got back to the landing. After looking over all of the gear I had you may think wow that is a lot of clothing and you are right. I think I looked like the Michelin Man walking around on the marsh that day but I was warm and was able to enjoy the hunt instead of being cold and completely miserable.

Group Photo Limit Out

We had a great hunt, almost limited out all three days as a group, enjoyed the great outdoors and got to experience God’s amazing creation. I have used our Red Head hunting clothes for the last thirteen years that I have been working here and they continue to get better and better. Next time you are looking for new hunting clothing make sure to check out our Red Head brand and compare it to the other.

Red Head Logo

     "150 Years in the Outdoors Since 1856"


Just like one of our print ads says, “ Ducks Don’t Care About The Label On Your Camo”.


Happy Hunting,

Dale Rice, Hunting Manager




Meet a Pro! Brad Whitehead

This year, don't miss out on the "Crappie Madness" sale and event that is going on at Bass Pro Shops on February 14-15. During the weekend of February 14-15, come listen to crappie pro fisherman, Brad Whitehead from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as he conducts workshops here at the store. The workshops will be held on February 14th at 7pm and February 15th at 11am and 2pm. The workshop titled, Learn tips and techniques of various styles of crappie fishing, will be filled with lots of useful information and tips.

Get to know Brad Whitehead just a little before you get here. Crappiecrazy.com wrote an article on Brad Whitehead, asking questions and revealing the answers with the fishing pro. here are the questions and answers:

Years Pro: 12
Tournament Partner: When I fish it’s Bevan Berry
Home Lake: Pickwick Lake
Favorite Lake: Pickwick Lake
Boat & Outboard: WarEagle 754VS, 50 Yamaha
Sponsors: BnM Poles, WarEagle Boats, Lake Fork Tackle, ORCA Coolers, Browning, Hi-Tek Rodholders, RoadRunner, Mister Twister

10 Crappie Fishing Related Questions:

1. What is your favorite Crappie Fishing Technique and why? Sidepulling, its the best guiding technique I have ever seen.

2. When you fish a lake that has Black Crappie and White Crappie, which one do you target? Do you have a different approach for fishing for one or the other? If so please explain. White Crappie for me.  I fish deep, fast and with large baits.  If I go for blacks, they seemed to like smaller baits and structure I don’t care to fish.

3. What is your go-to lure or bait and why? (favorite lure & color) 1/4 oz hairjigs, red, black, orange.  This bait I have confidence in and that is what matters.  If you don’t have a confidence bait, you don’t need to guide or tournament fish.

4. How do you approach a new body of water that you have never fished before and what are you looking for? Call anybody that has fished it.  Then take half of what guys tell you and throw it out the window because it will not work the day you go.  The main thing I gather is the area of the fish.  One part of the lake will hold more fish. 

5. Do you pre-fish before your tournaments? If so, please explain your approach. Do you thoroughly cover water catching as many crappie in the area or contact fish and keep moving not to pressure an area? The few tournaments I have fished. I just showed up.  Crappie fisherman I think “wear the fish” out to much before tournament day.  There not bass.  Most guys are greedy and take them out of the place there going to fish.

6. Name the most important tool/equipment in your boat or tackle that you could not fish without. Confidence in your equipment.  Just because its the most expensive, does not mean you know how to use it. 

7. How do you locate tournament winning fish? I’m normally guiding during tournament season.

8. Please name the gear you fish with; (Poles, Reels, Line, Electronics, etc.) BnM Poles, Lake Fork Panfish Line, 1197 Hummingbird

9. Do you have a Pre-Tournament Routine? If so please explain. No, normally guiding

10. To date, what is your proudest moment in your Crappie Fishing Career? I guess, being in the fishing industry long enough to start getting my son put in catalogs and on the cover of magazines.  With him being 8 years old I hope he thinks about this stuff we did together one day with his kids.


10 Questions Non-Crappie Fishing Related:

1. What is your favorite hobby/activity other than Crappie Fishing? Duck Hunting with my 8 year old

2. What is your favorite meal? Any meals my wife cooks!

3. What kind of music do you like? Who is your favorite singer or band? Country or any 80′s to eariler 90′s groups

4. Name your favorite vacation getaway and why? The mountains, its cool and I’m away from any lakes.

5. When you were a child, what did you have dreams of becoming for a profession as an adult? Yes, maybe not as a crappie fisherman but a fisherman that everybody knows.

6. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? One, a mix, name Izzy

7. Name for us the most influential person in your life, past or present and why? An older friend I meet on a guide trip about 5 years ago.  He is a self made million dollar man and you would never know he had a dime. 

8. If you had a warning label, what would yours say? Don’t open unless you want the truth!

9. Do you prefer watching the sunrise or the sunset? Sunrise

10. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Being a parent and a good husband



Bring in the new year!

Bring in the new year with an after Christmas sale!

We've got great prices in the fishing department! Bass Pro shops Tournament Series Micro Spin Lures!


$1.79 a piece with many different styles,weights and colors. Colors such as the hot tiger tiger, Tad pole tad pole, Cinnamon cinn,

Copper Frog copper, Hot Pink Hot pink, Salmon Salmon, and sooo many more!






They're your ticket to boat loads of fish. They have aggressive vibrating blades, effective color patterns, and hackle tail. We also have 10 packs of plastic float assortments. They are made for easy use. Designed to just snap on your line. They are nice for your little fisherman just starting to learn. 10 packs includes: two 1 3/4", two 1 1/2", three 1 1/4" and three 1" floats for just $1.79!!







For our little fishermen and women of the future we've got Barbie, Spider man, Disney Princess, Star wars and Cars backpacks with rods a reels!

barb cars  princessprincess2spidermanstarwars


All come with sunglasses, casting plug, and a mini tackle box all in an easy to carry backpack or bag! $17.99!





More for the great outdoors, we have decorative La Crosse Thermometer.

"Texas born" texas      "Early Catch" early catch  "Mountain Retreat" mountain.

These beautiful thermometers are great for indoor and outdoor. It has a secret hide a key slot on the back with a spot for your spare key. $14.97!




While you're shopping in the fishing department we also have a Bass Pro Shops fisherman Icon wireless weather station.

fisherman. It has a sunrise, sun set, moon phase, latitude and longitude. Updates automatically for daylight savings time, temperature and frost alarm icon! Stay organized and prepared with a 12/24 hour time display with time alarm, snooze and monthly, date and weekday calender!



Remember it's not just the fishing and gifts department with great sales, it's our whole store! So be sure to stop in, you won't want to miss it!



"A Daydream Come True"

A Daydream Come True

By: Jerry Costabile

Going back to when I was a young boy growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, I was fascinated by the late season divers that would appear in late December and January.

Hunting in the southeastern Wisconsin, I saw and hunted mallards, teal and occasionally we would see a diver or two late in the duck season. But I couldn’t wait until those later months when the big water divers started showing up on the lakefront and in the harbors. Goldeneyes, Buffelheads, Redheads, and the duck that fascinated me the most, the oldsquaw.

When I saw a beautiful drake oldsquaw, I watched him dive and reappear 20, 30, 40 yards or better away from where he disappeared. I don’t know why, but I would watch him dive over and over, always hoping to one day to be able to hunt them.

By luck or fate, in early October, I met a gentleman while walking thru the fishing department who was looking at salmon lures. Being the salmon fisherman that I am, (and I love to talk fishing!) I approached him and we learned that we had a lot in common, including duck hunting. Within minutes of introductions, we were on the subject of hunting oldsquaw! Without a hesitation, my new friend, invited myself and my sons to hunt with him and his son in November. This was too much too believe, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up just yet. I have been here before and could only hope that this stranger was going to take us out on this duck hunters dream hunt.

Well, the first week of November I get a call and it is him with the invitation still alive, asking me when we could come up and hunt. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to get to hunt oldsquaw! When I got home that day, I told the boys that this hunt was on and we were going to go on the hunt in the next two weeks. I showed both of my boys what an oldsquaw looked like and how we were going to hunt them. You see this time of the year, these birds are miles off the shores of Lake Michigan and we would be hunting them in lay-out boats in the open water. This is something else that I have always dreamed of doing. Hunting divers from a boat that is about 10 feet long and is only about 6 to 8 inches above the waterline. Most of the boat is below the surface of the water, this allows the hunter to lay very low to the water and create a low profile helping to hide from the ducks. I was coming apart at the seams waiting for that day to come!

With a phone call the evening before we were leaving, I found out that we were going to have good weather and an ideal wind to hunt the big water. The Dodge Ram was packed and ready the night before and I got no sleep with anticipation of the hunt I have thought about every time I saw a drake oldsquaw swimming in the harbor during the winter for all of those years. We pulled out of the driveway at 2:30am and headed north to Two Rivers, Wisconsin. I had a cup of coffee and pure adrenaline to keep me awake for the 2 hour drive, this was it, I was going to be hunting oldsquaw and it looked like nothing was going to stop me!

Upon arriving at the boat launch, there was our crew setting up the boat and equipment for our hunt. To say I was excited was an understatement, I was beside myself! But I had to keep myself under control because I had two teenage boys who were also on a first time hunt. For my youngest son, this was his first real duck hunt, and what a way to be introduced to duck hunting!  After loading our gear into the boat, we were headed down the ramp and launching the tender boat, a 25 foot Duck Water Ocean. This boat is a beast! Loaded on the tender, is a 10 foot Waterfowl-Works UFO layout boat and a 14 foot Bankes Hercules layout boat.

The boat was in the water and we boarded with excitement! Decoy bags stacked everywhere, camouflaged bags and cased guns tucked under the shelves that line the inside of the boat. There were milk crates lined up filled with anchor line and buckets loaded with 100’ and 50’ decoy lines. This boat was well equipped and ready for work!

  With the sun just making a thin line to the east, we headed out for our spot already marked on the GPS. We were in a two to three foot waves and the boat was cutting thru them like a Naval U- Boat.  I must have looked like a dog with its head out of the truck window, I had my chin up and my eyes closed. At that moment, I was thinking how lucky I am to be there and with a prayer and thanks to the man upstairs, I was ready!

Once we determined what the morning flight pattern was going to be that the ducks would use, we started to set up. Layout boats in and anchored, and then the lines of decoys were stretched out to form a perfect pattern that would later pull in hundreds of ducks. When the man said that I would be one of the first in a layout boat, my heart started racing! This was it, I was about to live out a hunt that I have daydreamed about since I was kid. I was watching thousands of ducks flying all around us and knew that we were in the right location.  I want to confess that I studied Outdoor Life and Field & Stream while I was in school, like a valedictorian studied all of those other books! Even though I had never done this before, my long days and nights of cramming and memorizing was about to be put to a test. I knew I was going to pass this one!

I was given a quick rundown of how to enter the layout, and over the side I went. Once I got in and lay down comfortably, my gun and ammo was handed to me and that fast, the tender boat was gone. The other layout would be occupied by my youngest son Kyle. I was a bit nervous with him about thirty yards to my right and this being all new to him. I guess being a dad and not being there to guide him every step of the way, had me feeling a little uneasy. But within minutes, he showed me he was up for the challenge. He dropped his first ever duck, a drake oldsquaw at that, with a beautiful shot! Man was I pumped, now it was my turn, the first pair came in on my left and banked into the decoys perfectly. As they reached the decoy spread, I sat up, took aim, and missed. Not once, but twice! “OK Jerry, calm down and figure it out!” I said this out loud and reloaded. Then another pair came beautifully into the spread, and flying directly at me. When they got into about twenty yards, I sat up and followed the lead duck and fired. Bingo, first bird down! Just like Kyle had done, I radioed the tender boat that I had a bird down and they pushed the throttle of the 250 hp Mercury Optimax Pro X/S down and raced into scoop up my bird with a fish net and raced back out to about 400 yards to wait for the next downed bird.

This went on for about 45 minutes until we both had three birds. The last bird I shot was a gorgeous drake oldsquaw and when the tender crew picked up the bird, over the radio I heard “Jerry, you will want to have this one mounted, it’s a beauty!” If my day would have ended right then, I was happy. The one duck that I had wanted to harvest since I was a young boy was now waiting for me.

After the next two guys got in to the layout boats, and I was on board the tender boat, I held in my hand, this amazing bird that I had so much respect and admiration for. I bowed my head and thanked its creator for allowing me to fulfill a dream with this beautiful bird.

The morning finished with a limit of oldsquaw for everyone, and after the gear was stowed in the tender, we headed back to shore. Once pictures were done and everything loaded back in the Dodge, we headed north to hunt the next day in a new location and another species of duck. But that’s another story.

Thank you to my boys, Jake and Kyle, for living this lifelong adventure with me. As I get older, these times together mean a lot to me. I love you guys.

Mike and Greyson, you guys are true ambassadors to the waterfowl nation!

 JJ, of JJ’s Guide Service, nobody works harder to see that the job gets done.






Keys To Locating Productive Brush Piles

Across the country fish use many different types of structure or cover to live and feed in. Weather it's rocks, docks, lay down logs, or brush piles, as the year goes on and the seasons change you will notice certain ones being more productive then others. And trust no matter how random it can sometimes seem, there is a rhyme and a reason to why they are using cover in a specific area or more importantly depth range. It is based on factors such as time of year, weather conditions, water color, water temperature, and last but not least the amount of baitfish in the area. Most species of fish are predators and if there is no food there then obviously the fish will go elsewhere if they have the option. In this article I really want to focus on brush piles. Whether they are man made or natural from trees and debris falling in the water the simple fact is that most times of the year there are fish holding on some sort of brush.

Brush piles are a perfect place for baitfish such as bluegill, and shad to live around and hide in. With the presence of the bait fish the predators such as bass are going to be close by. Now throughout the year like I said some brush piles will be more productive then others. As the water temperature changes the fish move, and this is related to the thermocline level. This is the level where the water temperature is the most comfortable to the fish and where the water is the most oxygen rich. The hotter the water temperature the deeper the thermocline will be. In lakes that have clear water the thermocline will also be deeper so don't be surprised to find fish in extremely deep water in the summer on a clear lake or reservoir. To find the this productive healthy water depth having good quality electronics such as the Lowrance HDS Gen2 Fishfinder is important. Just idle around your local lake or reservoir and pay attention to what depth you see the majority of the baitfish. Next check suspecting areas where brush piles might be placed that are close to that same depth range and there is a good chance that baitfish and bass will be near by.

So now that you have the proper depth figured out the next step is actually physically locating the brush. People will sink man made brush piles in a variety of different places such as points, creek channels, river channels, or probably the most common, docks. In my opinion the easiest to find brush piles are near docks. They are easy to find because of a few keys that are normally a dead giveaway that a fisherman lives there and has possibly sunk brush around his dock. Two things I really like to look for are lights, and rod holders. These are definitely things that should be paid attention too when looking for brush. The next step to this simple method of finding brush is physically stopping and casting a weighted soft plastic and feeling around the bottom with the bait. This is a no electronics fool proof way to find brush. Now if you have side imaging technology then this process is much easier. All you have to do is idle by the front of a row of docks and your graph will show you which docks have brush around them within 200 ft of either side of your boat. In order to find brush on the points and dropoffs having electronics is critical and will really make your search easier and more effective.

Once I have brush located no matter where it is there are a couple really important things I like to do. The first is marking the piles physically before I start to fish them which is very important for brush that is way out on points or sometimes in the middle of the river on a ledge. To do this I use a Bass Pro Shops Marker Buoy. There are a couple ways to do it, you can drop the buoy right next to the brush or one of my favorite methods dropping it where you want the boat to be positioned, and then using a reference point on the shore to line up and cast at. Normally when I'm fishing brush for bass I will use slow moving baits such as Jigs, Carolina Rigs, Texas Rigs, and Shakey Heads. Fishing these slow on the bottom I will crawl and work my bait through the cover letting it lift and then fall in the limbs. I always try and do this on a semi tight line, if you have to much slack in your line the fish will often pull you deep into the brush which makes them almost impossible to get out. So be ready to set the hook quick and get the fish moving up and out towards the boat. I like to use pretty heavy tackle when fishing my jigs, texas rigs, and carolina rigs for that reason exactly. I like to use Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line from 17lb to 25lb test, on a heavy action rod and a high speed reel. The only exception is when I'm using a shakey head set up and in that case I will use either 8lb flouro, or a 20lb braid mainline with a fluorocarbon leader. At certain times of the year baits such as Spro Little John DD crankbaits and heavy 1oz spinnerbaits can be very effective when bumped into the brush. I would suggest going to Bass Pro Shops and picking up a weighted lure retriever or retrieving pole for getting your baits free from deep brush.

So go out on your local body of water and look for the key ingredients. First find the depth the baitfish are using whether it is 2 feet or 30 feet, next locate and mark the brush, and finally present your lure properly to the waiting fish. Always be patient and if you are getting frustrated and having limited success just keep searching because you never know when you might run into the right brush pile that is holding the mother load of big fish. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania







A Day on the Water: Special Blessing

I believe that every day on the water is a blessing, but some days are even more special….the following is one of those days.

The day begins as a thin layer of fog is lifting from water and sun is about to peek out over the edge of the lake. It is a cool morning in the North Carolina mountains when my fishing partners arrive at the ramp.



Every year I donate a trip for the YMCA to auction off to raise money and this year’s winners wanted to bring their young ones out for a day of fun. John and his 2 young boys John Peter, aka JP, age 8 and Jacob age 6 were chomping at the bit to get on the water. Wes and his daughter Jeannie age 7 were also ready to put some fish in the boat. Since there were 2 families I brought a great friend and fellow Bass Pro employee Stokes McCellan to help me hopefully give these folks a trip of a life time.

pre blastoff

Stokes and the boys headed out for a few hours of trolling, while the rest of us set out for some top water and early morning bass action. It didn’t take long for Jeannie to start pulling in the fish. She had us down 3 to zero in just 5 minutes. We had a blast over the next 3 hours and caught more fish than we could keep up with. Wes even took a break from bass fishing for Wes to work on his fly rod fishing techniques.

2 boys with bluegill


While we were catching fish like crazy the other boat was getting loaded as well. That team caught some monster bluegill, crappie and a ton of bass while trolling the banks and the middle of the lake. There wasn’t a minute or two went by that we didn’t hear ‘fish on’ coming from that boat.


When we met back at the ramp to swap around partners Jacob and John were ready for big time bass action. Once again it doesn’t take long before boats are calling out ‘ fish on’ .  Jacob was only 6 but that little man was fired up and was catching fish on nearly every cast. He was throwing a shakey head and catching fish like crazy. John and Wes got serious and started throwing jigs and creature baits and the big fish started chewing. We started landing 3 ,4 and 5 pounders all afternoon.


Wes with his Bass!

John with bass

It wasn’t too long before Jacob was ready for a snack and to get back to trolling, so we met on the water and we picked up JP, dropped off Wes and Jacob with Stokes , and got back at it.  JP wasted no time and was sacking fish left and right. Although he was only 8 he was making great casts and figured out quickly where the bass should be. He also relieved me of some of my guiding duties and wanted to take all the fish off and release back into the lake. My thumb was extremely grateful as it was torn up from all the fish we had caught that morning. I am not sure who had more fun …JP catching fish or his Dad taking pictures and capturing the moment on film.

Eric with Fish

I have a great passion for fishing and truly love to share that passion with others, especially when it is young ones. I believe that these kids would have a good time even if we didn’t catch a fish, but the fact that we whacked them all day made it easy for the young ones to enjoy the day. Every day you won’t catch like fish like we did on this trip, but you have to go and spend time with youngsters and give them the opportunity to fall in love with the outdoors. In today’s world there are so many other things for kids to do, that if we as outdoorsmen don’t take the time to introduce kids to the outdoors our way of life could be lost in just a few generations. I am blessed that I get to work with people that have my same passions.. I am blessed that every day I get to share with customers a little bit of knowledge…I am blessed that I live in a country that affords me these luxuries.

Jacob and eric

Jacob and I with our Catch!

girl with fish

So at the end of the day we stayed and fished a couple hours past our time, but the fish were biting so what are you gonna do…stay and fish of course. When all was said and done we had caught well over 100 fish on our expedition. Not too shabby for a ½ day trip in August. I am not sure when I will see these kids again but I believe when they close their eyes( at least for few days) they will remember the fish they caught today and hopefully when they wake up be ready to go again.…


tuckered out


Eric Winter

General Manager

Bass Pro Shop

Concord NC




Local Fishing: Fishing Table Rock Lake

Summer is back in force making fishing as interesting as it gets. With water in the 80’s, the local lakes are getting a little harder to fish. Even for those with a lot of experience. The thermocline is set now that the temperature is finally at the summer highs, making the fish a little harder to pin down. Now that summer heat is finally here the humidity is making it hard for seasoned fisherman to be out on the water for too long or risk heat related illness. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your fishing fun and productive on one of our favorite lakes in the area!

As a general rule of thumb a fisherman on Table Rock should stay relatively close to areas where fish like to congregate. Some of these spots can be seen from your boat or shore. These formations are shallow spots or underwater hills. Whether these are man-made such as brush piles or simply submerged hills from when the lake was formed both are hot spots for fish during this time of year. Drop Shotting a 4” BPS Plum Cut Tail down in this area can bring up some large fish! This can grab both Crappie and Bass so be ready for some subtle bites and some big yanks on the rod!

If you are really out to catch some good size fish the best time of day is definitely the first few hours of sunlight. This not only is easier on the fisherman but also the fish are far more active and ready to feed. Simply by fishing from the crack of dawn to 10a.m. to 11a.m. you can make your chances of a catch higher. One of the best things to fish with in the morning is a White Strata Spoon. By running this lure in the morning the fish are more attracted to the actual lure as it flies over the water and lands. The fish being closer to the top of the water makes them far more likely to take a quick pass at the bait. Another great bait to use is the Chompers 4” Brown/Purple 1/2 oz. Drop Shotting this on a submerged hill or brush pile in the morning is an awesome way to attract fish and get some big strikes.

Fishing Table Rock Lake here in the Ozarks can be one of the most fun and exciting activities during the summer. While the summer heat might be here for a little longer you can still have a good fishing experience by fishing in the morning and knowing your fishing spots. Another great way to keep those morning hours a little less hot is by using one of Bass Pro’s Frogg Togg Neck Coolers. These little cooling towels have saved more than one trip and have made the summer far more bearable. Good luck on your fishing, stay cool, and take a look at what Bass Pro offers to make your fishing experience complete! http://www.basspro.com/Fishing/_/T-12100000000

 Table Rock Lake


Tournament Talk - Lessons of Tanks and Thanks

Lance Baker and Kary RayBy: Lance Baker, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

It has been a little while, with Kary's and my busy schedule, since I've had time to sit down and update everyone on our season! The summer is starting off normal with a lot of driving and adapting to different areas...the high water and endless rain has shown us that preparation and studying is the only way to survive this game we all play.

Kary and I set off for our second Bass World Sports tournament of the year on May 23 for what would end up as one of our toughest tournaments to date. We had three solid days to put our game plan together and knew that every minute had to count due to the stiff competition and absolutely terrible water conditions.  We spent time on two different pools and probably put in an easy 100+ boat miles searching for what we thought it would take to put us towards the top of the leader board on Sunday the 26. We managed to find a very small area with a good number of quality fish that were guarding fry and seemed aggressive enough to give us five bites to succeed.  The only problem was...these fish were a LONG ways from take off and we had a difficult decision to make. If we made the decision to go after them we would have to dedicate our entire day to this one area and make a risky move of making it in AND out of the lock on time. 

Sunday 5:30 a.m., 27 teams took off in an effort to conquer the tough conditions. It was raining and absolutely miserable! We headed towards the lock with everything my boat had and just about a mile before the doors we passed an early morning barge heading that way as well.  I pulled in and thought, "Man we made it." But, I was very wrong. 

The lockmaster informed us that the barge was on its final approach and we would have to wait until they were done locking before any of us could go through. MY HEART SANK & PANIC SET IN. We turned around and headed out watching a big group of the field coming to the same problem.  I had made a huge mistake of not scanning the river the night before to see where barges were located before we trailered.  I honestly was in a panic………this is where FAITH AND TRUST in your partner comes in. Kary looked at me and said, “Lance, I promise, buddy, if you will just stay focused, we will catch 'em.”  We knew we had at least two hours of delay before we could get to where we needed to be. It seemed like an eternity, until we finally got back in and through the lock and made our LONG run to our fish. We finally arrived and had just a few hours time to put five in the boat, head back to the lock, make it through, and get back to weigh in. 

Now here is where the fun begins. :) In the process of preparing the night before, I had filled my boat with ¾ of a tank and did the approximate math on mileage to make it there and back and not be too heavy; to make sure we could succeed in outrunning what part of the field we needed to.

BIG MISTAKE! What I didn’t plan for was the extra running around waiting on the barge to get through and the gas that was burned at that time. On our way back with about 20 minutes to spare it happened. 

One mile from the ramp the boat said she didn’t wanna let her horses sing anymore! OMG, I JUST RAN OUT OF GAS!  In shear disbelief, we quickly went to work. Kary jumped on the trolling motor and I started flagging down any of our competitors to PLEASE help us in any way possible. We ended up having a team stop, sacrifice their last few fishing minutes of the day, load our limit in their spare side of the livewell and high-tail me back in to weigh our five fish on time and try and save any points that we could.  (Yes, you can do that if it happens to you...just make sure you check the rules and with the tournament director.)

Because of that team, Kary and I managed to weigh in just shy of 11lbs and finish 13th to save points for the Angler of the Year race. Folks, there are a few lessons to be learned from this..,here are my thoughts:Keith Kulow and Glen Sunken

1. Always fill up your boat no matter what…speed doesn’t catch fish, trust me on that one.

2. Your fishing partner is your backbone for everything from catching fish to helping you stay calm and focused in all situations….take time to make sure they know how much you appreciate them. 

3. Never, and I mean NEVER, count on making it through the locks without ALWAYS having a backup plan. 

And last, but certainly not least,

If you ever have the chance to stop and help a fellow angler/competitor out, or have one help you, remember the sacrifice they made that day. 

TRUE SPORTSMANSHIP is something that is earned not given.

Kary and I would like to say "Thank You" again to Team 19 DAVID GIESE & SCOTT ANDERSON and Glen Sunken and Keith Kulow.  You, my friends, are what we all strive to be - True Sportsmen.  Thank you so much and we will always be in debt to ya’ll!  

Lance Baker and DadOn a final note, I want to take a minute and wish ALL fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day! We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to pass on our traditions.

Thank you, Dad, for always letting me tag along - my little girl is learning what you took time to teach me!



Deep Summer Cranking

Summer is here and while many fish still live in shallow water the majority of the fish population spend most of the summer months on deep water structure. A wise man once said while fishing the bank 90% of the fish are behind you. This statement is generally true, and while deep water fishing can be overwhelming and difficult to master, it can also be very rewarding.

When fishing the bank generally you are looking for individual fish catching one here and there. Now when fishing off shore you are searching for the honey hole, a spot or area holding sometimes hundreds of fish. Some keys to look for when searching for deep water fish are points, humps, ledges, rock piles, shell beds, or man made brush piles. Having a good depth finder and GPS unit is very important to mastering deep water fishing. When I am looking for a school of fish offshore I generally will use my GPS on my Lowrance HDS-8 Gen2 Fishfinder to study and locate where drop offs or humps are located. Once I've chosen a couple different places to look I will drive my boat over the hump or drop off, while using my fishfinder to look for brush piles or rock piles. While searching I always have my Bass Pro Shops Marker Buoy in my hand ready to drop it where I see structure that looks promising. This will give you a perfect reference point so you can properly work the structure. The final key to look for while searching is bait fish, if you don't see balls of bait near the bottom you are probably not going to get bit and should search for a different area.

So all of this preparation and searching takes place before an angler has even made a cast. Deep water fishing is really more like hunting, where the preparation and searching is just as important as making a good shot. Once your preparation is complete and you have found an area with all of the proper ingredients then it is time to go to work. There are many different ways to catch offshore fish once you have them located, such as a, carolina rig, football jig, or a texas rigged worm, but my very favorite is a deep diving crankbait. Crankbaits allow you to make relatively quick casts fanning around the area searching for the proper angle to trigger a strike. What I mean by proper angle is, every fish has a certain presentation or cast that will be the best for triggering it to strike, and this can very from day to day or week to week, so keep an open mind. With your marker buoy in place a circle the wagon technique is hard to beat. Simply begin on one side of the structure and work your way around the buoy throwing casts from many different directions and at many different angles. Once you have triggered a fish to bite always throw back with the exact same cast. More often then not you will find that one specific cast through an exact spot will get you bit over and over again.

When deep cranking I like to use a 7'9" TFO Gary's Tactical Series Rod accompanied by a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcast Reel with a 5.2:1 gear ratio. This slower gear ratio will make cranking in big billed crankbaits easier as well as allowing your bait to reach deeper depths with still a good amount of line out. With high speed reels by the time your bait hits the bottom your bait will be half way back to the boat. The slow winch type reel is the way to go. The bait that I have the most confidence in is the SPRO Little John DD Crankbait. Others such as the Strike King 6XD Series and the Bomber Fat Free Shad will also catch fish, and sometimes the fish can be very picky changing which one they prefer from day to day. To make the baits achieve their maximum depth potential, long casts and light line are very important. Generally I will use 10lb or 12lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. And don't forget the key to catching crankbait fish whether in shallow water or deep water is to make your bait hit the bottom and contact the cover.

Keep your bait down where the fish live and are feeding and find the proper angle, and then hold on tight. Deep water fish are generally big and healthy and i'd be willing to bet that the very biggest fish on your lake lives on deep structure in the summer months. Remember starting today May 28th and ending June 16th Bass Pro Shops Father's Day sale is going on. One of my favorite items on sale is the Bass Pro Shops Crankin Stick which is a perfect affordable rod to get started with crankbait fishing from deep water to shallow. This would also make a perfect gift for a fisherman looking to expand his arsenal and grow as an angler!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania


How to Choose the Correct Life Jacket or PFD

A new boating season is here, and it is time to take inventory of things that you may need, or things that you may need to replace. Put Life Jackets or PFD’s at the top of that list. Every year in Alabama, people drown by falling in the water without a PFD on them, and, many times, there is one available in the boat. How many times have you heard that someone could “swim like a fish”, yet they drowned because they were not wearing a proper PFD? The old adage that “it is better to have it on and not need it than to not have it on and really need it” applies here. For your safety, make sure that you have a US Coast Guard approved PFD in good working order for everyone in the boat, and a good US Coast Guard approved throwable Life Ring or Cushion with a rope, just in case. At Bass Pro Shops, we carry many types and styles of PFD’s, so let’s go over a few so that you can make the best choice for you, your family, and your friends.

Type I Vest - A Type I type vest is usually referred to as an Offshore Vest. Normally these are offered in high visibility colors to aid in finding the man overboard. They also feature a design which includes a neck pad that rolls the wearer over in the water, leaving them in a face up position, reducing the chance of an accidental drowning. These vests are better in rougher water, and are generally the most buoyant available for long periods in the water, which is why many members of the military use them. The normal buoyance is 22 lbs.

Type II Vest – A Type II Vest is normally referred to as a Near Shore Buoyant Vest as is more comfortable, less restrictive, and less buoyant than a Type I Vest. This type is used when quick rescue is expected. The normal buoyancy is 15.5 lbs.

Type III Vest – A Type III Vest is usually the most comfortable and this category includes most of your general Recreational Vests and Fishing Vest. These are designed to be used in your more protected waters and lakes. They still offer ample buoyance for larger people, but may not roll a person over to a face up position in the water. Many of the Type III Fishing vests have pockets for stashing smaller items and are made with mesh for cooler comfort. Bass Pro Shops also carries a big selection of Type III Recreational or Ski Vest offered in nylon or neoprene. The neoprene vests are also sized to fit ladies, men, or children. The buoyancy rating for these vests is 15.5 lbs. Finally, for added convenience, Bass Pro Shops offers 4/packs of either Mae West Vests or Recreational Vest in a handy carrying case and sized in an adult universal one-size-fits-most size.

Type IV PFD’s – Type IV PFD’s include your throwable devices such as Life Rings and Seat Cushions. These can also have a rope attached for easy retrieval, and typically have 16.5 lbs. of buoyancy.

Type V PFD – Called a Type V Special Use Device, this category includes work vests, deck suits, and hybrids for restricted or special use.

Inflatable Life Vest – Depending on the design, they can fit into different categories, but all are US Coast Guard approved. Some of the vests are inflated automatically with a Co2 cartridge upon immersion, some are inflated manually upon demand by pulling a ripcord, some have oral tube inflation tubes for manual backup if the cartridge deployment fails, and some have a combination of these features. The higher end vest with Hydrostatic Valve technology can help reduce the chance of accidental deployment by rain, humidity, or bad luck. Replacement re-charge kits can cost anywhere from $25.00 to $75.00. All of these vest come with adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable all day fit for the larger boaters, and more than enough buoyancy at 24lbs or more to keep you floating until help arrives, or the gators get you. Either way, you’ll be floating.

Well, now that you have an idea what we offer at Bass Pro Shops, come on down and see us and get fixed up for the new season. We currently have several styles in all sizes on sale, so check the BPS Facebook page for constant updates. As for sizing, we do carry an extensive offering of PFD’s for infants from 0 lbs. to 30 lbs., children from 30 lbs. to 50 lbs., and youth from 50 lbs. to 90 lbs. In adult sizes, we carry everything from XS adult to 6XL adult.  

I hope to see at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Alabama, real soon. In the mean time, check out our website at www.basspro.com

Thanks, Jim Mann




Step Out & Step IN to Iowa State Parks

If you’re anything like most avid outdoors people, you’ve probably got a go-to list of local spots that you repeatedly visit for your favorite activities. Whether it’s fishing, camping, hunting or water sports, folks most often choose the same locations either as a result of familiarity or tradition. But why not step outside your comfort zone…even if it means going out of state?

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Camping Lead Steve Leverett shares some of his favorite Iowa state parks in the hope that Iowans and non-Iowans will be inspired to try something new…Iowans may even find that some favorite spots were actually state parks all along and non-Iowans may learn that we're far more than cornfields!

Walnut Woods and Raccoon RiverA frequently overlooked area (and the closest to Bass Pro Shops Altoona) is Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines (east of I-35 and north of Hwy 5). My wife and I have hiked the park on a number of occasions when not in the mood to drive a long distance or just short on time.  This park is geographically situated along the Raccoon River and offers picnicking, hiking, fishing (walleye, catfish, and smallmouth bass), camping and bird watching.  Walnut Woods is certainly what I would define as a more casual outdoor experience as the hiking is leisurely and there were no areas that were difficult to navigate.  Do keep in mind that the river has been hit particularly hard by erosion and decreasing water levels, therefore the riprap (rock formations used to protect shorelines) is excessive on both sides of the shoreline and can make fishing interesting. Stay on your toes!


In south central Iowa, just to the west of Moravia, is the man-made Lake Rathbun complex. Originally built Honey Creek @ Sunset - Iowa DNRas flood protection for the hundreds of acres of surrounding farm land, it has since become a very popular camping spot. Although the dam, reservoir, and six of the eight parks are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, two parks are state-managed…Honey Creek State Park and the relatively new Honey Creek Resort. Both locations offer a wealth of activities not limited to kayaking, canoeing, fishing, golfing, hiking, and a plethora of water sports. Due to the nature of the state park, it’s easier to just drop in if you’re looking for a particular activity, whereas the resort will require advance booking. I can’t say enough about this area as my family has spent a smattering of weekends at Rathbun and I was genuinely surprised at the area’s beauty. This is definitely a hidden jewel in southern Iowa.


Ledges State Park BridgeLocated just northwest of Des Moines, near Boone, Iowa, is Ledges State Park, an extremely popular state park due to its signature sandstone cliffs and the fact that it's one of our oldest parks. Featuring a modern campground and abundant hiking, the star attraction at Ledges is the stunning descent into the park valley. It certainly isn’t the Grand Canyon, but for a land-locked Iowa boy I’ve always been awe struck by the contrast it presents to the surrounding corn fields. Not to mention, it’s a bit of a workout heading in and back out so be prepared! The creek at the bottom of the valley is a blast for kids and adults alike (my beagle, too!) as it’s usually only ankle to knee deep and winds back and forth underneath the cliff walls. As previously mentioned, the number of trails to choose from is just excellent and they all offer a worthwhile payoff at some point in your hike (i.e. breathtaking views of the Des Moines River valley).


Lake MacbrideI have an old college roommate whose parents are kind enough to, every so often, loan out their lake house on beautiful Lake Macbride. I’ve spent numerous weekends enjoying this unique location in eastern Iowa. It’s really easy to get to this area and its affiliated state parks, as it’s situated between I-380, I-80 and Hwy 1 about four miles west of Solon, north of Iowa City. All the usual activities are available (fishing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, camping, and boating), in addition to being simply a gorgeous location filled with 2,180 acres of rolling hills and valleys. Named after the distinguished botanist and former president of the University of Iowa, Thomas Macbride, the lake has also been noted as one of the only in Iowa to feature the Kentucky spotted bass.


These are some of Steve's favorites. However, Iowa is BLESSED with 72 state parks, most with camping, and each with its own unique feature. Whether it’s thePikes Peak State Park equestrian trails of Rock Creek, the majestic views of the mighty Mississippi from our own Pikes Peak, the shores of Clear Lake, or the historical treasures of the Lewis and Clark State Park area, there is something for everyone who decides to step Out of the box and step IN to Iowa’s state parks!

For more information on Iowa's state parks, park events, and the reservation system, visit http://www.iowadnr.gov/Destinations/StateParksRecAreas.aspx.


Catching South Carolina stripers, Alabama stlye

What would cause a man to get out of bed at 3:30am on a January morning when the air temp is 28 degrees? What would cause a person to get up at that insane hour on their day off…the fish must be biting!

My friends were discussing that the stripers were starting to move up in the river on Lake Murray. So a friend and I met up around 4 am and headed south with visions of hooking up with some quality stripers. After a couple of hours of driving and swapping fish tales we arrived at our destination(to remain unknown as we fisherman cant share all our secrets.)

We were the 6th boat to launch that morning and we were ready to go at day break, however mother nature had another idea. As we were idling out of the no wake zone we ran into a wall of fog that was thick. It was so thick that we couldn’t see past a cast length in front of the boat. As hard as it was not to plow through and use our gps to get out to the honey hole, common sense prevailed as we waited out the fog.

wall of fog


Once we were able to get moving we made a quick run up in the river and it wasn’t long before we saw the birds chasing some bait and it soon after it was on. For those of you who don't know, when the birds go for bait fish in the water, this means that the stripers are usually the cause of this phenomenon. As the striper chase up the bait fish the birds take advantage. So when you see birds feeding there is a good chance some fish is pushing that bait to the surface.

Our bait of choice was the Alabama rig. I am not a huge fan of the rig, however there are times and applications when it is hard to beat. I was throwing 2 different rig combinations over the day and caught fish on both presentations. I was throwing a Bass Pro Shop deadly five on 50 lb power pro. I teamed that up with a Bass Pro Shop Pro Qualifier reel and a 7 ft heavy carbon light rod.

BPS Deadly 5power pro


pro qualifiercarbonlight



It didn’t take long find out that the fishing was gonna be tough. Several boats were chasing birds while others were drifting with minnows and corks, but no one was hooking up…including us.

After getting over the early frustration and disappointment we began to notice small pockets of bait fish popping near the banks. So far that morning we had been fishing the creek channels like everyone else. When things are rough its always a good idea to change things up. We eased our way into the shallows and began to chunk our A - rigs toward the bank. On my first cast to the skinny water I hooked up with a nice Lake Murray striper. If you have never thrown the Rig on braid and hooked up with a striper, let me warn you that it can be..AWESOME…

It almost ripped the rod from my hands when it hammered my KVD swim’n caffeine shad.

Swim'n Caffeine KVD Strike King


To make a long story short we landed that fish and over the next couple of hours several more stripers were tamed.

When we went back to the ramp several boats were leaving the lake early, most of them said they were leaving because they hadn’t caught any stripers. We were leaving because we had reached our limit.

limit reached limit reached 2

Bragging at the Ramp!

On the way home we talked about the choices we made and the attention to detail that allowed us make a simple adjustment that turned our day from a disappointment to a success.

As Jimmy V use to say ..”never give up”… when your day on the water is not going as planned, just clear your head, look around and use your experiences to help you figure out a game plan to change your day.

Good luck, tight lines and God Bless!

Until next time, Eric Winter







The Best Christmas Gift Idea's

Thanksgiving has passed and now it’s time to get your favorite outdoor's man or women something you know is tested and is a quality product for a Christmas gift. I am going to make this easy, so sit back, relax and read my suggestions of gifts anyone would be happy to receive. But first, I am going to have to go “Dave Ramsey” on you: create a budget on how much you’re willing to spend on a gift and follow your budget!  


Here's a great starting point for you...



Costa Sunglasses has your outdoorsy family member covered this Christmas with the introduction of its latest new sunglasses line -  RealTree® AP camo line. Available in Costa’s popular Fantail, Blackfin, Double Haul and Zane, these limited-edition styles are the perfect gift for the avid hunter or angler.  Each of the four Costa styles featuring RealTree AP camo are part of Costa’s core sunglass collection – meaning they offer superior wrap shape to protect against glare, proprietary anti-fog vents in the frame front, sturdy integral hinges and nearly indestructible co-injected nylon construction.  Costa is a great choice when it comes to a quality pair of sunglasses. Read more at: https://www.costadelmar.com


Plano Storage Tubs are very practical, reliable, and truly are a quality product. These tubs offer roomy, lockable storage for objects large and small, and feature two durable latches to keep contents safe even during transportation or shipping. Both models feature molded grooves for simple, sturdy stacking if needed. These Plano's Storage Tubs offer versatile and long-lasting protection to keep contents dry, safe and together. And when in the field, their reinforced lids can even double as a work surface for many chores. I have cleaned fish and ducks on the lid, and it did an incredible job. Read more at: http://www.basspro.com/Plano-56Quart-Storage-Tub/product/120618/.



Look good and support a great charity by purchasing Wounded Wear Forever T-Shirts. These are a high-quality pre-shrunk Gildan Pure Cotton T-shirt with the Wounded Wear logo on the front chest and “Forever Recognizing the Cost of Freedom” underneath the logo. On the back of the shirt is The Wounded Wear logo and the Wounded Wear flag. “What have you done for your Country lately?” is printed on the bottom of the shirts. This is one of Wounded Wear's original shirts and is one of our best sellers! You will be supporting of troops by purchasing clothing from Wounded Wear. You can purchase these items at: http://woundedwear.org/Wounded%20Wear%20Forever%20T-Shirt


The latest fishing craze is the face covers, or buffs. Wearing one of these means you can wear it as a face mask to skip the sun screen on your face, or stay warm during the winter. The stretchy, seamless microfiber polyester buff’s fabric comes in different patterns and looks. The material is designed to wick moisture from the surface, while being lightweight and comfortable protection from sun and wind. These buffs may be worn easily as a neckerchief, scarf, headband or balaclava. They are perfect for fishing, hunting, hiking, paddling and many other outdoor activities. All of them machine wash, and just allow them to air dry before the next usage. More than anything, I really like all the different ways you can wear them! Pick out a great design from http://www.basspro.com/UV-Buff-Headwear/product/97319/



Number one (#1) most important thing we all should never go on the water without is a good-quality life jacket. I personally never go fishing, or even just boating without wearing it; I love my family too much. A life vest worn on top of everything else it is really hardly noticeable, and it could save your life. I wear the Mustang Survival automatic inflatable type vest, there is no substitute. The competition version of this vest is stylish. It features a secure zip closure that can withstand rigorous activity; heavy duty coated nylon for increased durability, and is very lightweight, comfortable, and compact. It will keep you on top of the water long enough to allow you to get back in the boat. Remember to attach your kill switch to your life vest any time your gas motor is running. http://www.basspro.com/Mustang/_/B-4294650442.

Lowrance Gen2 Touch includes all the best features from the HDS (High Definition System) series, plus it comes with the company’s Broadband Sounder and Structure Scan HD built in to the unit. The touch screen interface is very user-friendly and seems to be a big hit! One of the cool features is you can customize and configure and make your own screen views with up to four panels at once, plus the Touch offers a new three-panel vertical-page view. The Gen2 HDS Touch 7, 9 or 12 units come with an internal 1 Hz GPS antenna and are preloaded with Insight USA coastal cartography. The Structure Map feature allows anglers to scan and overlay underwater images onto a chart real time or create saved Structure Map views. These units will cost from $1,299 to $3,249. Read more at: http://www.lowrance.com/en-US



Anglers can never have enough lures in their arsenal when they go after those illusive green fish called largemouth bass. If they do not have them already, this is a great addition to any fisherman’s tackle box. The Bass Pro Shops – XPS Nitro Square Bill crankbait boasts a fat body style that creates a very good displacement in the water over the bill of the bait.  Remember, the purpose of a square-shaped bill crankbait is that it deters snagging on stuff during the retrieve back to you.  For those looking for a silent approach, the Bass Pro Shops – XPS Nitro Square Bill crankbait model possesses all the action and snag-resistance that is standard on most square bill crankbaits, but with a quiet approach that makes a shallow-water bass a predator for this bait. Read more at: http://basseast.com/xps-nitro-square-bill-crankbaits




Every fisherman and outdoor's person needs a multi tool. These are the greatest gadget, as they contain everything you'll need in one compact tool. From knife blades to screw drivers, to bottle openers and more, a Multi Tool is the perfect gift for every angler on your shopping list. Leatherman survival products have been around for decades. Beginning with the Pocket Survival Tool in 1983, Leatherman now manufactures over 30 models of knives and multi tools. Every product I have ever purchased has been high quality, and lasts forever. I personally love giving these as gifts they are always well received. See all the different models and price ranges that are available at: http://www.basspro.com/Brand-Leatherman/_/N-1z0xd5x/Ntk-Search_All/Ntt-leatherman.


These are some of my favorite gifts - both to give, and or receive. If you receive a great gift this Christmas that has passed your usage test, let me know maybe I can include the information in one of my future product reviews …...  Merry Christmas everyone!




About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years and he is a part owner of Wave Away, LLC.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.



Blog: http://outonalimbwithtombranchjr.blogspot.com/