Basic Knot Tying for the Beginners

Basic Knot Tying for the Beginners

By Garry Owings

 When it comes to fishing I learned at an early age is that tying the proper knot for each fishing situation is of the utmost importance. Most fishing stories of the “one that got away” could possibly be traced back to an improperly tied knot. There are hundreds of different knots to choose from and this can be overwhelming for a novice. I believe if you master just three or four, that’s enough to get you through a lifetime of fishing. I’m going to focus on a few situations where I chose to one knot over another.

One of my favorite knots that can be used for many fishing applications is the Palomar Knot. I’ve used this one for a variety of situations in bass fishing such as attaching crank baits, buzz baits, spinner baits and even hooks, directly to my fishing line. This knot is one of the strongest which means it is less likely to fail when you’ve got that big fish on. In this example we will use a hook.


There are four steps to tying the Palomar Knot.


  1. Pass your line through the eye of the hook and then back through creating a loop. Make sure you create a big enough loop to pass over the hook. Use the loop to tie a square knot.
  2. While holding the main line and the tag end of the line with, take the hook and pass it through the loop.
  3.  While holding both the main line and tag end in one hand and the hook in the other hand, pull the line tight.


The next knot is called the Fish N Fool Knot. I use this knot for connecting conventional swivels or snap swivels to your main line. I use this knot you cannot tie the Palomar on both sides of a swivel.


  1. Pass your line through the eye of the hook or swivel and then back through the eye twice.
  2. Create a loop with the tag end of your line and pass it through the loop five or six times.
  3. Pull the tag end of the line to gather the knot.
  4. Pull the mine line to draw the knot to the hook or swivel.


Knot three is the Surgeons Loop. This simple loop knot has many uses. It can be used to attach leader line to a swivel or when you snell hooks.


  1. Double your line and make a loop.
  2. Past the doubled end of the line through the loop twice.
  3. Hold the double end of the line with one hand, the main line and tag end with the other hand and pull tight.                                                       


  1. The fourth and final knot for this article is Dropper Loop knot.  I use this knot when I want more than one hook on a line.


  1. Make a large loop in your line. Wrap the tag end of the line through the at least 7 times.
  2. Find the middle of the wraps. Open it up and pull your loop through.
  3. Take the tag end in one hand and the main line in the other hand.
  4. Pull tight to form your loop.

If you make two dropper loops in a line and make a Surgeons Loop on each end, you’ve just made yourself a top and bottom rig. This is a great rig for all kinds of pan fish.

Like anything else the more you practice knot tying the better you will get. Soon you’ll be tying these knots faster than you tie your shoes.




Protecting Your Percussion Muzzle Loading Rifle from Storage Problems

By Stan Godlewski

The days are getting shorter and the night’s cooler, besides making those scouting treks into the woods to locate that big buck, you probably have pulled “Old Betsy” out of the gun safe and have taken her to range.  Just as last year, you ran a clean patch down her barrel and made sure she was clean and unloaded.  After placing your target down range and dropping your powder charge and projectile in the barrel, you place a cap on the rifles nipple, took aim at the target, and squeeze the trigger and the hammer fell on the cap.  All you got was a “POP” not the familiar “BANG.’  Okay, you kept the muzzle of your rifle pointed down range for three minutes.  The dreaded “misfire.”  You placed a fresh cap on the nipple. Brought the hammer to full cock, took aim, and squeeze the trigger again and another “POP.”  You asked yourself, what is going on here.  Again you went through the same ritual with no “BANG.”  Now you have a loaded firearm and no way to discharge it.  You cleared the charge by pouring water down the bore of the rifle to wet the gunpowder and make the piece safe to pull the projectile from the chamber.  After all is said and done, your local gunsmith informs you that the problem was a buildup of varnish in the flash hole.  You ask yourself “Varnish” how did that get in there!  The simple answer is, you put there.

Most novice black powder shooters coat their muzzle loaders bore with a layer of oil to prevent rust during storage.  Bass Pro Shops carries some excellent gun protections oils.  Rem Oil is just one of our many fine gun protection products that will not varnish.                                       

You probably stored the rifle muzzle up in your gun safe.  Now that is where the problem starts.  Over a period of time, standard gun oil can turn into a gummy like substance.  It can even cure to a solid.  To prevent this from occurring, old time muzzle loader shooters stored their rifles muzzle down in their storage lockers or gun safes.  They place some newspaper or paper towels down at the muzzle to absorb any excess oils. 

When you get to the range snap a few caps prior to loading the rifle.  You may ask, “what does that have to do with the price of tea in China.”  Well nothing, but It ensures that the shooter has a safe firearm to load.  The process goes like this.  Point the muzzle of the muzzle loading rifle in a safe direction (down range).  Point it toward the ground down range.  Pick out a tree leaf or a blade of grass.  Take the hammer to ½ cock, place a cap on the nipple, take the hammer to full cock.  Place the muzzle of the rifle near the objects and pull the trigger.  The cap should fire and cause the leaf to move or the blade of grass to dance.  Do this two more times for a total of three snapped caps.  The first snapped cap lets you know the nipple, flash hole and the rifle bore are clear.  The second fired cap burns off any excess oil from the bore and the third makes the bore nice and dry.  This process will give you confidence to load your charge and let you know your rifle is safe and will shoot.

Another problem some shooters have is a weak hammer spring “Not enough energy for the hammer to fire the cap.”  This problem is usually the result of storing the rifle with the hammer drawn to full cock.  Likewise, dry firing the gun without a cap on the nipple can deform the nipple to the point that it may not accept or hold a cap properly.  

The following links provides you with excellent muzzle loader cleaning and maintenance products.


Don’t let your Gun Case Rust your Rifle

By Stan Godlewski

Modern firearm storage cases are excellent in protecting the firearm from damage.  However, the novice gun owner needs to be cautious when using one of the cases for long term firearm storage.  The other day I spoke with a fellow hunter about the pending deer season.  He was in the store to get a new hunting rifle.  He was not very happy that his favorite hunting rifle rusted in the gun case.  We briefly spoke about how and when he stored his gun.

As the story goes, he was hunting in upstate Pennsylvania.  He spent all day in the woods when it was very cold.  As a safe hunter he emptied his firearm prior to placing it in the hard gun case.  Since he was leaving to head home the next morning, he opted to leave the cased unloaded firearm in his vehicle overnight.  Again, it was very cold.  Driving home to Maryland, he cranked up the heater in his vehicle.  When he got home he put a padlock on the gun case and stored the locked rifle and case away in his storage closet.

This is where the problem arose.  The gun metal was cold while hunting.  It stayed cold while stored in the vehicle overnight. The metal sweat when the gun and case were placed in a warm environment.  Most modern gun cases protect the firearm from impact with foam.  Foam is porous like a sponge and can wick and retain moisture.  So what the gentleman had was a fine hunting rifle sit on a wet sponge for an extended period of time.  Old time cloth gun cases did not have this problem since the moisture was able to breathe out through the case.

How do you prevent this from happening?  To prevent rust forming on your rifle from storage in a hard or plastic gun case, remove the firearm from the case to allow the metal warm up.  Open the gun case and allow the foam to breath for several hours.  Remove the foam from the case and wipe any moisture from the plastic or metal walls of the gun case.  Ensure the firearm has a light coat of gun oil to protect it.  After both the firearm and the case had a chance to come to room temperature and evaporate any moisture it then would be safe to store the fire arm in the case.  I recommend that at least once every 3 months the owner removes it from the case inspect it, re-coat it with gun oil and again store it.  This process can provide you with a confidence that your favorite hunting rifle will be ready for next year’s hunting season.


Keeping those House Odors out of your Hunting Clothes

 By Stan Godlewski

Nature has provided the whitetail deer with 3 defenses, great vision, hearing and sense of smell.  The hunter can defeat all of these.  

Hunters have lots of tricks to use to beat the deer’s sense of smell.  They use special soaps to mask odors from their body.  They hang attractant scents and drippers around their hunting stands.  Some use special containers to deposit their liquid body waste.  All of these tricks work.  But one item many hunters overlook is their hunting clothes.  Deer will stay away if they smell the odors of your home or garage on your clothing.  So what do you do? The answer is very simple.  Purchase some “Hunter Specialties H.S. Fresh Earth Cover Scent Wafers” from Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.;s-Specialties-H-S-Scents-Primetime-Fresh-Earth-Cover-Scent-Wafers/product/55101/?cmCat=CROSSSELL_PRODUCT

At the end of the hunting season, I place my cleaned hunting clothes in a thick ply leaf bag.  I then place one or two  H.S. Fresh Earth Cover Scent Wafers in the bag and seal it up to prevent house odors from contaminating my clothes.  When I’m on my stand I place a Fresh Earth Wafer on my hat and one on my jacket.  After a busy days’ hunt, I place my clothing back into the plastic bag when I get back at the hunt camp so that the odors of cooking, tobacco or fireplace smoke etc. are not deposited directly or indirectly on my hunting clothes.

Hunter Specialties makes other wafer scents in the odors of “Buck-Rut, and Apple.”  The both work great however, don’t use the “Apple Scent Wafer" if your hunting location does not have apple trees near-by.  It may send a red flag to the deer.  Fresh Earth is a scent that is natural in the woods and won’t give you away.  The Fresh Earth Scent Wafers are not overpowering or offensive.  The scent wafers come with large safety pins for attaching the wafers to your clothing.  They  have a dark coating as not to create reflective glare.  I have used this product for years with great success.  As I have aged, I no longer hunt from a tree stand and now hunt on the ground.  One would think that I would be less successful.  Not true.  I attribute my hunting success to good scouting and masking my body scent.

I use another fantastic Hunting Specialties product to clean my hands and wash perspiration from my face and neck while hunting.  It is “Scent A-Way Wash Towels.”

They fit nicely in your hunting pack and resemble baby wipes in appearance.



Making Smoked Kielbasa

Making and Smoking Polish Style Sausage (Kielbasa)

By Stan Godlewski

Being of Polish decent, Kielbasa was a common staple on our family dinner table.  Mom and pop made the sausage and smoked the meat in a homemade smokehouse.  Bass Pro Shops is a sausage maker’s friend, if you are a beginner or an expert; Bass Pro Shops sells everything you will need to make quality fresh and smoked sausage except for the meat.  I will link many of the products for you in this blog.  Bass Pro Shops provides a wide variety of smokers available at their stores or on line.  I own and use two of the smokers they sell, and found both of them are excellent choices in smoking sausage.  They are:  The Masterbuilt Cookmaster Propane smoker  and the Bradley Original Electric Smoker

I have used a number of different recipes for making kielbasa but I have found that the recipe in Rytek Kutas’s book “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” is the closest to true Polish Kielbasa.  His book is what I like to refer to as the “Sausage Makers Bible.”  The recipe provided is close to his but modified to my taste.  I recommend that if you can find a copy of his book online (used books, I think it is out of print) get it, you will not regret it.

The recipe below is for making about 10 pounds of sausage.

2 cups of non-fat dry milk

4 tbsp. kosher salt

1tbsp. sugar

2 level tsp. prague powder #1 (pink curing salt)

2 tbsp. course black pepper

4 large cloves fresh garlic (chopped)

11/2 heaping tsp. of marjoram

10 lbs. boneless pork butts or pork shoulder.

1 pint of ice water

(Some additions to make different kielbasa, add maple syrup, sweet paprika, mace, onion flakes, red pepper flakes, cold beer instead of water etc.)

If you are not into all the mixing and measuring, Bass Pro Shops sells a great Polish Sausage Making Kit. The product is called the "High  Mountain Polish Sausage Kit."  It contains all the seasonings, cures, and casings needed to make your own delicious polish sausage at home.  The kit contains enough to make 24 lbs. of sausage Includes seasonings, cures, casings, and instructions. It gives you the option to make 24 lbs. all at once or in 3 lb. increments this convenient kit comes with instructions and materials to get you on your way to making delicious polish sausage for your favorite recipes.  

Preparing the sausage meat

Trim glands and bone from the meat. Cut it into small pieces.  This makes the grinder work a lot easier.  I prefer to use the largest grinding plate, this provides for a nice texture. Do no discard the fat from the pork or the sausage will be dry.  Remember fat provides flavor!  Bass Pro Shops can provide you with a superb grinder.  A great butchers’ tip I learned from my brother who was a butcher for 50+ years is to have your pork ice cold while and add a little ice water to the meat while grinding. Grinding creates friction and heat.  Cold meat will run through your grinder a lot easier.  After grinding, place the meat into a large mixing vessel and add the ingredients.  Mix until everything is evenly distributed.  I like to put the sausage meat in 5 gallon zip lock bags and place it in the refrigerator overnight before casing and smoking it.  This allows the meat to absorb the flavor of all the ingredients.

Stuffing the sausage casings

I prefer to use a larger size fresh hog casings 38-42mm.  In a pinch the Bass Pro Shops casing products will do fine if you cannot locate the larger fresh hog casings.  The casings are packed in a salt brine to prevent bacteria growth.  You need to wash flush the salt and soak the casings prior to stuffing.  I like to open one end of a casing by sliding it on to a funnel.  Run a mild stream of water through the casing until it is flushed out.  There are many types’ sausages stuffers. You can use an adapter to your meat grinder however, I use the model sold by Bass Pro Shops the LEM Stainless Steel Vertical Sausage Press it is outstanding.

I like to make sausage rings about 1 to 1 ½ lbs. in size.  Make sure that you remove all air bubbles from the sausage while filling the casing.  You can do this by using a needle.  After the sausage is cased, tie the ends together and place them in a place to dry to remove excessive moisture.  There are a couple of ways to do this, you can hang the sausage for a few hours in a cool area or place it in the smoker without smoking it at a temperature of 130 degrees F. with the vents open.  When the sausage casings are dry, you then increase the temperature to 160-165 degree F. set the smokers vent to about ¼ to a little less then ½ way (each smoker and smokehouse is different so you need to experiment.)  That is the time to add your smoke.  I like to use fruit wood cherry or apple.  Bass Pro Shops provides both and many other either in chips, chunks and pucks (pucks for the Bradley smoker).

You will know that your kielbasa is done when the internal temperature has reached 135 degrees F.  The sausage will have a nice mahogany color to it and be firm to the touch.

Blooming the sausage

I bloom the smoked sausage by placing them in boiling water bath until the kielbasa temperature reaches 152 degree F.  This process provides for a 100% safe product that is fully cooked and ready to eat.  After their hot bath you then n place them in cold water until the internal temperature of 110 degrees F. is reached.  Remove the product from the water and let cool.


I prefer to seal my finished product with the Food Saver Vacuum System.  All you have to do is place them in the bag vacuum seal and store in the freezer until you are ready to use them.  That won’t be long!!!

Fresh Polish Kielbasa

Fresh Polish Kielbasa is the same recipe as for the smoked sausage minus the meat cure and the smoking process.  This sausage makes for an excellent meal especially for breakfast with fried eggs yum, yum.

Below are some videos from YouTube which may be helpful to you regarding the sausage making.



You Just Bought That New Smoker!

You have always wanted a new smoker and finally you went to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and purchased your Masterbuilt-Extra-wide gas smoker  You know how to smoke pork ribs, pork shoulders and sausage, but you sure would love to smoke pastrami!  Lucky you, this is my recipe for smoked pastrami using a grocery store purchased “Corned Beef.”  Although, corned beef and pastrami are different cuts of beef, this recipe will satisfy you and your friends.

My Pastrami Recipe

by Stan Godlewski

1 large corned beef already brined (I like to buy them right after St. Paddy’s Day).

1 jar of brown mustard

1 packed of spice that comes with the corned beef

Fresh cracked black pepper to cover the meat

Open the corned beef, rinse it in cold water.  If the meat has a large fat flap on it, trim some of it back.  Place the corned beef in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring the water to a slow boil and let the meat simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove the meat from the water, replace with fresh water and repeat the simmering process for another 15 minutes.  (This process removes excess salt from the pre-brined meat).  Let the meat cool for about 1 hour.  After it has cooled, crush the spice and add to the black pepper.  Coat the entire piece with the mustard and then coat with the black pepper blend.

Bring your smoker temperature to 225-230 degrees F.  Be sure to use a mild wood, I like a mixture of cherry and apple wood when I make pastrami.  Place the meat in the smoker until it develops a nice crust (bark) on the meat, this can vary from 4 to 7 hours depending on the size of the corned beef and your smoker. 

Optional Step: After I remove the pastrami from my smoker, I like to do a quick steaming of the meat in the kitchen oven by placing it on a rack over a deep cookie sheet filled with water.  I cover the meat in a tent made of aluminum foil.  I let it steam for about 15-20 minutes. Remove and let it cool, slice (remember to slice against the grain of the meat),and enjoy the best pastrami you ever ate!

Now all you will need is some good rye bread, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and a fry pan, and you are instore for a great "Pastrami Rubin Sandwich."


Spring Maintenance for your Boat and Trailer

Spring Maintenance for your Boat and Trailer

                                                                                      By Stan Godlewski

Even though we are in the middle of winter, Maryland salt and fresh water boaters can’t wait until spring and get back on the water.  Just like any motorized vehicle, maintenance is a key part of safety and marine enjoyment.  If you have not winterized your boat and motor, you should take your rig to a boat service center to have it inspected, serviced or repaired. (add link)  Not winterizing your boat could result in damage to the motor, fuel system and hull adding to frustration and added expense.  Therefore, proactive boat maintenance for the spring actually begins in the fall when you store your boat for the winter.



Trailer Maintenance

One overlooked area of maintenance is trailer axle wheel bearings.  I recommend grease shots every 3 trailer splashes after fresh/ salt water immersions.  A total repack and wheel bearing inspection should be performed annually.    



Another area that is susceptible to failure is your trailer electrical wiring system. This system is prone to failure after being immersed in water and road wear-and-tear.  It is prudent to give the wiring a visual inspection for corroded and damaged wires as well as, connection tightness.  You need to test the directional signals, back-up lights and electronic breaking system prior to taking your boat and trailer on the road. 

Take a look at the electrical tow plug connectors on your tow vehicle and trailer.  Look to see if it has green colored corrosion on the electrical contacts.  If there is mild corrosion the contacts can be cleaned with a light spray of CRC and a scrubbing with a small wire brass brush.  It they are heavily corroded, they will need to be replaced.

Next connect your boat trailer to the tow-hitch of your tow vehicle.  Connect the trailer electrical connector to the tow vehicle connector.  Check the electric brake control unit in the tow vehicle if so equipped.  If the contacts are true, your tow brake will show a power light (refer to the manufactures manual for the electric brake control).  Turn on your vehicle headlights.  Check to see if the trailer lights work.  Test the right, left and emergency flasher lights work on the trailer.  Next, it is important to have some one assist you for the checking of the brake and back-up lights on the trailer.  Place your foot on the break of the tow vehicle and have your assistant verify that your trailer break lights work.  Then with your foot on the brake put the tow vehicle’s transmission in reverse.  Your assistant should inform you if the trailer’s back-up lights operate properly.  Finally, check your electric brake on the trailer (if so equipped).  Have your assistant stand close to the trailers axle/s.  Depress and release the brakes.  The trailers brakes should make a clicking sound when they are engaged and released.  Always refer to your electric brake control manufacturer regarding use and setup your trailer breaking systems.  The breaking system of your trailer should be inspected by a professional at least once per year.   

Launching a Boat


Maintenance & Inspections of your Boat’s Battery

During the off season, you should have the battery connected to a trickle charger or battery saver.  The trickle charger keeps the battery charged without a risk of an overcharge.  If the battery is not a sealed unit check the electrolyte levels.  Prior to attempting to perform this, you need to wear safety goggles, rubber gloves and a protective apron.  If you are not comfortable in performing this task, have it done by a professional.  Remove the battery caps; check the level of the electrolytes by looking into each cell with a flashlight.  If a cell is low on liquid (lead plates showing), add some distilled water to the cell until the level is correct. “Do Not Over Fill.”  After the caps are re-installed rinse the entire battery with fresh water.  Let it dry before you attempt the next step.  Now it is time to clean the battery terminals.  With a brass brush or a battery terminal cleaning tool, clean the terminal contacts of any white residue.  Finally, place a little bit of contact corrosion inhibitor on the posts.  This product can be purchased at any auto supply or marine service store.  For further information on battery service please refer to the following YouTube instruction video. 



If you discover that the battery fails to hold a charge, the battery needs replacing with a Marine Battery.  Refer to you boat or motor manufactures battery specifications.   

Servicing your Boat’s Drive Systems.

Just like your car, your boat’s motor and drive requires some simple maintenance.  Prior to its first dip in the water, you should perform the following maintenance listed on the following checklist:

□ Check the fuel lines to see if the hoses have become brittle or cracked.  Replace as needed.

□ Check fittings and clamps.

□  Inspect engine exhaust and air  filter.

□  Check and or replace fuel filter and water separator.

□  Inspect drive belts.

□  Check the motor’s oil level and or, change the oil and filter if it has not been changed in a year or 100 hours of use.  Be sure to use only marine grade engine oil and fluids.  (Automobile motor oil is not configured to protect your boats motor and use could void the manufactures warranty.)  Prior to changing the oil, remember to run the motor to warm the oil.  Also you will need to run water through the engine to prevent damage to the motor.  

□ Change the motor’s drive lubricants if it was not performed during winterizing.

□ Inspect the motor’s propeller for damaged blades.  Ensure that there is no fishing line or other foreign objects wrapped around the propeller shaft.  Inspect the propeller nut.  Check to insure that it is properly attached and secured with clip or cotter pin.

The following youtube links may be helpful in further guiding you in performing your boats spring maintenance:




Remember, that the Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, Maryland has a fully staffed 5 Star Certified Marine Service Department   which can perform all your boat’s maintenance, service schedules and repairs.  You can make an appointment by calling (410) 689-2661.













Some Simple Hints in Sighting-in Your Rifle

Some Simple Hints in Sighting-in Your Rifle

By Stan Godlewski

You just purchased your new rifle and scope from Bass Pro Shops.  We installed your scope and bore-sighted the firearm as a complimentary service to you.  Now you need to zero your new firearm.  

I recommend doing your initial sight-in at a distance of 25 yards, and performing a second sight-in at 100 yards.  After zeroing your firearm in at 25 yards, your firearm should be close to zero at 100 yards.  However, your rifle may need a few rounds to bring it dead on at that distance.  A little known fact is that gravity immediately affects your bullet after it leaves the muzzle.  The bullet drops, rises up and then drops again.  This is known as “Parabolic Path”.

Parabolic Bullet Drop


The items you need for your sight-in beside your firearm are:

1. A solid shooting rest to stabilize and hold your firearm firmly.  Bass Pro Shops can supply the shooter with a wide variety of shooting rests.  Please go to our store web site to see what may best suite your needs.

2. A spotting scope to allow you to observe the point of impact on the target.  Again, Bass Pro Shops can also assist you with a selection of spotting scopes. 

3. Finally, a good target that will allow the shooter to compute how many inches the bullet impact is from the point of zero.  I prefer “Birchwood Casey Shooting N-C Rifle Sight-in Targets.”  You can find a wide selection of target materials at our web. 

4. The assistance of a second person or friend is helpful.

I use the following process sighting in my scoped rifle:

1. Set the target at 25 yards.
2. Fire one fouling shot in the firearm at the target to clear the bore of residual cleaning and oil residue.  (Residue can make your first shot a flyer.  Note the location of this bullet’s impact.)
3. Select the point of zero you wish to aim at and fire one shot.
4. Look through your scope or spotting scope to locate the bullet impact.
5.  Now place your scope’s cross-hairs at your initial point of aim.  Move the scope’s cross-hairs to the bullet’s point of impact by using the elevation and windage knobs of the scope.  Now your firearm’s scope is aligned to your firearms point of impact.
6. Now aim your firearm at the location on the target you fired your first zeroing shot.  Fire another shot at your target.  Your bullet should now hit dead-on to your point of aim.
7. You should repeat this process for final sight-in at 100 yards is so desired.
8. Attached is the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Youtube video which clearly highlights the whole process.  

For all your hunting and shooting sports needs, be sure to visit your local Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, Maryland.  











Spinning for Trout in Maryland

Rainbow Trout    Inline Spinning Lure



The last traces of winter are gone. Trees are budding and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) are busy stocking lakes and streams throughout the Maryland area with rainbow and golden trout for anglers to catch. While many associate trout as the quarry for fly fisherman, they too can pursued with ultra light to light action spinning combos. Many of these stocked streams and rivers are right in the heart of urban areas and are easily accessible without the need of a boat and are very family friendly. Take for instance Centennial Lake in Howard County. It’s a beautifully landscaped park with a paved walking path that borders the entire body of water. There are picnic pavilions, benches, restrooms, as well as areas that are set up for other outdoor activities besides fishing. This is perfect place to take young anglers for their first fishing experience.

You don’t need to invest in a lot of expensive tackle to get started with trout fishing. As I said in the beginning of the article, an ultra light to light aGarry holding nice troutction spinning combo will do the trick. Bass Pro Shops offers plenty of these combos already put together to make it easy for beginners. My personal favorite is the Micro-lite Spinning outfit, but there are many more to chose from depending on your budget. I prefer clear 6 lb test monofilament line because trout can be a little wary, but it still has enough strength to handle some of the larger trout the DNR often adds to their stockings. In a lake setting, you can employ two methods of fishing. The first is bottom fishing, in which all you need is a couple of reusable split shots, heavy enough to allow an easy cast and size 16 treble hook. I tie the hook directly to the line and add a couple of the spit shots about 12" to 18" above the hook. For bait I use Berkley Trout Bait. My preference is the paste because you can easily mold it around the hook and it stays on when you cast. Now all you have to do is cast it out, put your rod in a holder and sit back and wait on a hunger trout to take the bait. Now for those anglers that want to cover a little more ground, a small inline spinning lure be the perfect option. Some of the more favorite brands of these lures are Mepps, Rooster Tails, Bass pro XPS lasers, Joe’s Flies, Panther Martin’s, the list goes on and on! All of these baits will work, but I prefer lures that feature a gold blade.

While you can bottom fish for trout in rivers and streams, my most productive method is wading. This technique allows you to fish parts of the water bank fisherman can’t reach without the threat of getting hung up on over hanging limbs and branches. Doing so, you will need other gear depending on the temperature. In the summer you can get away with shorts and some non-slip footwear. In the spring or fall I highly recommend you use waders because the fast moving water can be very cold. You’ll also have to be more careful because of being in the water. Fishing with a friend is always safer than fishing alone. While I’m wading, I alternate between the inline spinner and bottom rig, letting the fish determine which they prefer. When presenting my bait I always cast upstream and work both back to me. This makes a more natural presentation of something being swept into the fishes feeding zone by the streams current.

Last but not least, you need to find a place to fish that’s near your location. That’s the easy part. All you need do is visit the Maryland DNR website. They’ll provide you all the rules and information you to get started. Okay now that I’ve given you the basics, let’s go fishing!

By Garry Owings


You Don't Need to Be Rich to Reload Ammunition for Cowboy Action Shooting

You Don't Need to Be Rich to Reload Ammunition for Cowboy Action Shooting

Reverend Sayer Prayers
(a.k.a. Ransey Stimson)

Ransey Stimson Reverend Sayer Prayers

Being the Deputy Sheriff in Hill Creek doesn't have many perks and watching the bank on Sunday morning while the Sheriff, the Mayor and the rest of the Town Council are rubbing elbows with the wealthy town folks down at the church certainly ain't one of them.  Sitting at your desk in the window with a full view of the front of the bank, you have your trusty rifle loaded with 10 rounds, hammer down on an empty chamber, staged in the corner next to the door.  Your favorite shotgun is open and empty on top of the desk.  You are wearing both of your revolvers, loaded with 5 rounds each, hammers down on an empty chamber, snuggly in their holsters.

At the sound of the alarm, you stand up and open the window to see 5 bad guys in front of the bank.  You draw your first revolver and put 2 rounds into the first bad guy, 2 rounds into the second bad guy and 1 round into the third bad guy.  You holster your first revolver and draw your second, putting 1 more round into the third bad guy, 2 rounds into the fourth bad guy and your last 2 rounds into the fifth bad guy.  You holster your second revolver and proceed to the door. 

Grabbing your rifle, you open the door and step out onto the porch.  Spying four more gang members in the alley next to the bank, you put 1 round into the first bad guy, 2 rounds into the second bad guy, 3 rounds into the third bad guy and 4 rounds into the 4th bad guy.  But it ain't over yet 'cause they got two more bad guys, one stationed at each end of the street.  Backing into the office, you put your rifle on the desk and pick up your shotgun.  Loading 2 rounds, you lean out the window and put 2 rounds into the bad guy on the left and then reload.  Then you put 2 rounds into the bad guy on the right. 

The Timer shouts, "Is the Shooter ready?"  That's you, adrenalin rush in progress, waiting for the sound of the buzzer.  The first stage of the match is about to start and you have less than one second left to think about it.  Before the day is over, you will send some 120 bullets and 20 or more shotshell loads down range.  If you are really into Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS), you will likely shoot 4 or more matches a month, and that doesn't even consider what you will shoot in practice.  That's a lot of bullets and shotshells.  Most Cowboy Action Shooters use the same caliber ammunition in their revolvers as they do in their rifle.  It makes it simpler at the loading table and for loading during a stage since there is no opportunity to put the wrong ammunition in the wrong firearm.  But, unless you have your own personal bank, chances are you are going to want to reload your own ammunition.

If you have priced cowboy ammunition lately, you already know that it can go for $30 per 50 round box, or more.  The good Shotshells can go for $8 per 25 round box, or more.  I tend to shoot more in practice than I do at a match simply because I am pushing myself through drill after drill without taking much of a break.  Even if you only shoot 2 matches a month and practice twice a month, your cost in ammunition alone can be nearly $400 per month.  Now consider the fact that you can reload your own ammunition for as little as 1/3 the price.  With the basic single stage shotshell press and a simple turret press for your metallic cartridge loads, you can crank out enough ammunition for a match in about 2 1/2 hours. 

So, you have a decision to make.  You can spend a couple of hours of your time each week making your own ammunition, and save yourself a whole bunch of money.  Or, you can go through the hassle of driving around and spending a lot of money and time buying your ammunition, if you can even find what you need.  It's not a tough call.  Buying the equipment and getting it set up is easier and less expensive than you might think.  You can find most of what you need in a single weekend, ammunition components included.  If you have a work bench already, you can be set up and running in a single evening.  You can reload 120 rounds of pistol/rifle ammunition and 25 rounds of shotshell ammunition for $20 to $30, depending on the caliber you shoot.  Your up front expenses are between $500 and $700.  You can get the basics for under $500.  The $700 investment gets you better equipment, which will pay off in the long run.  Depending on how much you shoot, you can recoup your equipment costs in as little as 3 months.

Here are some examples to consider when selecting your equipment:

Single Stage Shotshell Press
Turret Press Kit (Includes Electronic Scale, Powder Drop System, Primer Feed System, Case Preparation Tools and Reloading Manual)
Electronic Calipers
Brass Tumbler
Tumbling Media
Bullet Puller
1 Set of Reloading Dies

There are a number of accessories that you may want to add to your bench later, but the list above is all you really need to get started.  Save your brass and hulls from the ammunition you already shoot, and the boxes too.  They are all reusable and can last you quite a while.  Cowboy loads are generally loaded at the lower pressure levels.  That means the cases and hulls don't split or crack nearly as often.  You will find that you can reload metallic pistol/rifle cases 10 or more times.  Unless you are shooting black powder in your shotshells, you can reload your hulls at least 4 or 5 times.  That said, there is a certain amount of loss experienced on the range.  You lose some and you step on some.  Then there are "Lost Brass" matches where there are so many shooters and so little time that you are not allowed pick up your brass or hulls.  Often times, "Lost Brass" matches have Boy Scout troops in attendance that rake up, clean and sort the brass and hulls, selling it back to interested shooters for a small fee.  This enables the Host Club to get all the shooters through the course, the Scouts to make a little money and shooters to recoup their brass for a small fee.  It really is a Win - Win for everyone.

Interested?  Well, if saving money hasn't grabbed your interest, then here are some other advantages.  There are a lot of different bullet designs and weights available for the most popular CAS calibers.  If you reload your own, you can tailor your ammunition to your firearm and your shooting style.  If you are buying off the shelf ammunition, you are limited to whatever is offered by the manufacturer.  Worse still, you are limited to the availability of that ammunition.  If you can't find it on the shelf, you don't get to shoot.  If you reload your own ammunition, you determine the availability.  For me, there is something therapeutic about reloading.  It is relaxing and enjoyable.  The satisfaction I get from reloading my own ammunition is surprising.  The satisfaction I get from shooting ammunition I load myself is another added bonus. 

Tune in again soon and I'll fill you in on the details of loading your own cowboy ammunition.  Until then, keep the sun at your back and your powder dry my friend.  You never know when you might need to take out some bad guys.


What Everybody Ought to Know About Hearing Protection

I’m Sorry I Didn’t Hear What You Said…

By David Fenno

As I go about my day, I find myself making that statement more often than I would like. As with many shooters my hearing issues are directly linked to not using hearing protection while shooting as a younger man. When I began shooting in the 70's, the only time I saw anyone use hearing protection was when a high power rifle or a large caliber handgun was being fired. Rarely did I use ear protection for the smaller .22 rim-fire I usually shot while plinking and never was it worn while hunting.

Due to the actions of my youth I now, at 41, live with hearing loss and a condition called Subjective Tinnitus .

Today there is no reason for anyone not to use good hearing protection. With so many different types available, there is some form of hearing protection to fit every ear and every budget comfortably.

The two most popular types of protection used today are plugs, and muffs.

Plugs can be separated into 3 types:Foam Ear Plugs

 The expanding foam plugs that you roll between your fingers to compress and when inserted into the ear canal will expand to fill the canal and block sound. 



The silicone rubber plugs with a baffle built into them to adjust incoming high decibel sound to a safe level while still allowing air and normal speech to pass through them.  Silicone Rubber Ear Plugs




Finally we have the custom molded plugs that begin as a type of putty that is pressed into your ear and allowed to cure to form a perfect fit.  Custom Ear Plugs






Each of these plugs has their advantages and drawbacks:

 The expanding foam plugs are cheap and have the highest NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) but they are difficult to clean and don’t seem to last for more than a couple range trips.

The baffle plugs are sturdy, washable, and will last a long time but they aren’t as comfortable for most people as they are not a custom fit. They are a stiffer material than the soft foam plugs as well. While allowing normal conversation to be heard, this kind of plug does have the lowest NRR of the group.

The custom molded plugs are comfortable and offer a good NRR but need to be molded for your ears and aren’t ready to use off the shelf.

Ear muffs are a bit simpler with 2 major types:

Standard Ear Muffs Standard ear muffs that fit over your ears and block out most of the sound. These have a NRR as high as 30 depending on the model.

Electronic ear muffs that fit over your ears as well but they have amplifiers inside so that when adjusted, allow you to hear everything. You may turn the volume up to amplify ambient sounds but they will instantly shut down dangerous sounds like gunshots. These muffs are especially useful while hunting as they allow you to use all of your senses in the pursuit of game. The downside of both kinds of muffs is that they can be hot to wear in the summertime.  Electronic Ear Muffs

I have been using a combination of custom fitted plugs with electronic muffs over them for years now while shooting pistols competitively. This combination offers me the maximum protection that I can comfortably wear for an 8 hour day and with the volume on the electronic muffs turned up I can still hear range commands and what is happening around me. This combination of plugs and muffs also allows me to remove my muffs while at the range to dry them off in the summertime, or adjust my hat or glasses while still offering all the protection the plugs provide.

Whatever kind of hearing protection you decide on please use it every time you shoot. That way we can avoid having to shout at each other every time we meet.



Help Control The Spread of Snakehead Fish

Join Maryland's Bass Pro Shops and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources to help control the spread of the Northern Snakehead growth and be entered for a chance at a $200 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card!

NorthernSnakehead - Drawing by Susan Trammell

 The Northern Snakehead is so invasive that an alarmed Maryland DNR - Fisheries Service employed a full frontal attack on the fish when it, and others, were discovered in a pond in Crofton, Maryland in 2002. The plan to eradicate the fish, for fear of reproducing, included eliminating existing thick vegetation in the pond by using a herbicide to make accessing the fish more possible. The next step was to use a common fish toxin to eradicate the Snakehead from that Crofton, MD pond.

In 2002 it was believed, or more accurately "hoped", that the only body of water in Maryland the Snakehead populated was that Crofton pond. But, as we all know, the fish is far from being eradicated. If the actions being considered by DNR in 2002 to eradicate the fish didn’t send chills up your spine back then, consider that the worst fear has transpired. The Snakehead was soon discovered in multiple waterways in our great state of Maryland, most notably the Potomac River and its tributaries!

Our US Congress, following the lead put in motion by Maryland DNR’’s Fisheries Service, acknowledged the Snakehead problem to be so significant that they requested the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a National Control and Management Plan

As a result, and not wasting any time, the USFWS and the Department of the Interior published the Invasive Species Program Snakeheads - The Newest Aquatic Invader publication in July of 2002!


Several theories speculate how the Snakehead came to exist in the Potomac. The most believable being that enough pregnant females were sucked into the ballasts of freighters and other large ships traveling the globe, then released in our waterways that they had a head start in breeding. It’s unclear if this can be validated, but to most of us it sounds likely. It’s important to note that live Northern Snakeheads have been legally brought into the United States for some time through the Seafood industry. It appears that what was an economic strategy to further build menu options for consumers has turned to be for more costly

The fact is that this species is beyond aggressive. They have the will to survive in ways we don’t normally see in our parts. For example: How many fish have you seen that can survive up to four days out of water? This doesn’t mean that the sun, it’s moons and the stars all need to be lined up for this to happen, it simply means that two or three days out of water most likely will not kill the fish! That’s a problem.  The rules appear t have changed, there is no "Top of the Food Chain" beyond the Snake head. Unless the sometimes seen Bull Shark makes its way into the Potomac River, man is the only predator to this fish.

Catch them, kill them and report it to Maryland DNR’s Angler’s Log to secure your chances to win the $200 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card that will be drawn on November 30, 2012!.  For quick reference, scan the Angler's Log QR below code with your smart phone and save it for ready recall when you land your Snakehead!

Angler's Log & QR CodeHere are some tips to get you started:  We’ve learned that Snakeheads will go after most anything from other fish to frogs, but nticeably, they have been hitting Spinner Bait, Buzz Bait, and Plastic Worms.  We've spoken with anglers who've been successful Bowfishing and having an excellent fishing adventure while demonstrating great control.


Snakehead - All Teeth!

The USFWS and Maryland DNR have put together an excellent Northern Snakehead video on how to identify, find and control the Snakehead in Maryland waters.


Equipment and Data for Handloading Shotshells

By: Ransey Stimson

Shotshell Press

OK, so you have decided to start handloading shotshells. You will have to do your homework on what tools and supplies you will require. You will need to determine what load recipes you want to try out. First and foremost, you need a good handloading handbook. The handloading handbook will have the instructions, advice, recipes and other data you need to get started safely. There will be some tried and true information in the handbook that has been developed over may years. This will be virtually indispensable to you from the very beginning. My favorite shotshell handloading handbook is the Lyman Shotshell Handbook.. You will want to have this book on your bench, even when you have become an expert. In addition to the handbook, here are some other tools you will want to consider:

Electronic Powder Scale

MTM Powder Scale

 Shell Stacker

Shell Stacker

Shotshell Checker

Shell Checker


Powder/Shot Funnel

Powder/Shot Funnel



Reusable Shell Boxes

Shell Box


Dust Pan and BroomDust Pan and Broom



The dust pan and broom is a must for me.  I can sweep up spilled powder and shot easily and since they fit together, there is little space lost on my bench.  Reusable boxes will save you money and aggravation in the long run.  The factory boxes are simply not meant to last for multiple uses.  Checking your powder weight when setting up is one of the basic fundamentals you must stick with in order to be safe.  The funnel, shell checker and shell stacker are those remarkable, yet simple little tools that make the work easier, faster and more enjoyable.

When you set up your press, you may want to consider whether you want to mount it to a fixed bench or keep it portable. If you are always going to be loading shells in the same place, a sturdy bench is the way to go. If you find that you do not have space for a bench, or may need to load shells in more than one location, then mounting the press to a good solid base plate or board will do nicely. I use a large bamboo cutting board with channel cut around the edge works very nicely. You can attach some felt pads on the bottom to protect any surface you might be loading on.

There is some setup required when you buy your press. My MEC press only took a few minutes to put together. The MEC press came factory set for the wad pressure and crimp settings that work well with the Winchester AA hulls. I had to make a small adjustment to the crimp setting for the Remington STS hulls that I load the most. I eventually added a primer feed system to my MEC. Some models come with a primer feed system. If you load more than a box or two at a time, you will find the ability to have a primer feed system a huge plus.

Before you actually start loading, you will need to pick a recipe, or specific combination of hull, powder, primer, wad and lead shot load. Your handbook should have several recipes that will work for your specific needs. One excellent resource I have found is on Hodgdon's website. Their Reloading Data Center contains the recommended load data for both shotshell loads and cartridge loads. Hodgdon's reloading data site is one of the most complete and easiest sites to use.

To simplify things and make it more usable, I performed two selects using Hodgdon's shotshell load data generator. I selected 12 gauge loads, lead shot, all load sizes and then I chose 2 3/4" WINCHESTER COMPRESSION - FORMED AA & HS TYPE PLASTIC SHELLS and 2 3/4" REMINGTON STS, NITRO 27, OR GUN CLUB PLASTIC SHELLS as the hulls I wanted to use. I did this in two selects, changing the hull type from Winchester to Remington. Once I selected the hull I wanted, I then clicked "Get Data". When the data was produced, I used my cursor to select the data table and then I pasted the data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. With the data saved into a spread sheet, I can now filter the data on each field of data, displaying only the data for recipes that fit my exact description, from hull to primer and wad type. This enables me to duplicate numerous loads with the click of my mouse.

Once you have your press set up and selected your load, it is a matter of inserting the proper charge bar and powder bushing combination, then checking the powder charge dispensed on your scale. Your wad pressure should be just fine. You may find that your crimp may need to be adjusted, but that only takes a minute. Once you are satisfied with your settings, you are ready to start loading. Be sure to label your shell boxes with your load data and date. This will be handy when you get to the range. In no time at all, you will be cranking out shells that shoot as well or better than anything you can buy off the shelf.

 Take a look at all of what Bass Pro Shops has to offer in Reloading Equipment and Supplies.  Next you will want to consider the powders, primers, lead shot and hull designs that will meet your needs.  There are a number of combinations that will change your shot pattern and velocities.  Both pattern and velocity factor into the performance of your loads.  What you want the load to do for you will dictate the components you choose.



Going Deep - Part One

By: Garry Owings

While trolling for Tuna, Sails, Marlin and Wahoo can be fun when the action is red hot, it’s Figure 1    Snowy Grouperalways good to have a backup plan. To me there’s nothing more boring than a day of fishing that turns into no more than a long boat ride. A great way to save a day from becoming a real snoozer is exploring some of the bottom fishing opportunities that reside in the same areas as the pelagic game fish that were being targeted which roam closer to the surface. This technique is called Deep Dropping.

Deep Drop fishing is relatively new in the Maryland / Virginia area. Only a handful of captains actually venture offshore and target this style of angling. I got my first taste of the sport with Virginia based fisherman Captain Jim Brincefield in 2008. I had read an article in one of the nationally syndicated fishing magazines about Captain Jim and decided I wanted to give it a try. On this particular trip he took me and a party of about ten fishermen out to some unknown places in Norfolk Canyons off the coast of Virginia. Captains who have GPS numbers of these locations take great care in them remaining secret. So don’t get offended when you are asked to give up your cell phones during one of these excursions.

Being pre-warned that we could be fishing in depths that ranged from 500 to 1000 feet of water I brought equipment that could handle the task. My choice of conventions reels were a Daiwa Saltiga 30L  single speed, with a 5:2:1 gear ratio (the left handed version me being a south paw) strung with 50lb Power Pro braided line and for deeper water my Avet HXW-L two speed reel spooled with 80lb braid. The reason I chose braided line over regular monofilament line was because of its sensitivity as well as allowing me to get a lot more line on my reels because of its much thinner diameter than mono line. For rods, I brought along two Bass Pro Shops Extreme Jigging rods.. The first was a 6’6" heavy action and the other a 6’ extra heavy action just in case. I prefer this equipment because I am always on the hunt for big fish with the hopes of landing a record one day. But if 1000’ of water seems to be a bit deep to crank up a fish for your taste, then an electric reel would be a viable option. The Daiwa Corporation has a series of these reels that with just a push of a button can haul a fish up from the abyss with little effort. For my cut bait I used a homemade top and bottom rig made with 80lb or 100lb test Offshore Angler fluorocarbon leader line with a 150lb Off Shore Angler barrel swivel to attach this rig to my main line. The two knots I use to make this rig are the surgeons loop for the weight and the drooper loop for the hooks. You may think this is a little overkill, but when you’re fishing this deep you never know what you’re going to latch unto. My hook of choice Owner Super Mutu circle hooks because of their sharpness and durability. To get our baits to the bottom we used 20 to 30 ounces of weight and it still took what seemed to be five minutes to get there.

Figure 2 Top and Bottom Rig      Figure 3 Blue Line Tile Fish

There are many species of fish a deep drop novice will encounter that the average inshore will never see. This would include Black Belly Rosefish, Wreck fish, Barrel fish, Blue Line and Golden Tile, and the prize of them all, huge Snowy Grouper (pictured above). When I mention grouper in the same conversation with Maryland and Virginia waters I sometimes get puzzled looks, because most anglers associate grouper with the warmer southern waters. Trust me when I say, they are here and if you hook one be prepared for a battle!

In part two of this series of articles I’ll get into my preference baits, both live and artificial, as well as a little insight on locating your catch. Until the next time remember if the troll gets slow, deep drop may be the way to go!


Youth Turkey Hunting

By: Sharon Sajauskas

April brings some special time in the field in Maryland.  On April 14th 2012, hunters 16 years of age or younger may participate in the Youth Turkey Hunt, if the individual possesses a valid hunting license or is exempt from Maryland hunting license requirements.  The Youth Turkey Hunt provides an opportunity for young hunters to learn about the turkey hunting traditions from seasoned adults.  The Maryland DNR website has all the information on the Junior Hunting Programs offered in Maryland.

Youth Turkey Vest

To prepare your young hunter for an adventurous day of turkey hunting, Bass Pro Shops is a great place for all your supplies. The RedHead youth Turkey Vest  in APG (All Purpose Green) or Mossy Oak Obsession is a great way to start outfitting your young turkey hunter!

The Youth Silent Hide Pants and a long sleeve shirt, in either AP or Infinity, will help complete the outfit.  Don’t forget a full face mask, in a camo pattern, and a pair of RedHead camo Spandex youth gloves to complete the outfit.

To stay comfortable and bug free during the hunt, especially during the early mosquito season, remember to pick up insect repellent  appropriate for Turkey Hunting . Spray insect repellents may keep the bugs away, but the sound that the spray makes is an excellent way to tell the Tom "Here I am, so stay away"!  Besides, do you really want to smell insect repellent while you're sitting still in the same spot for some time? 

An excellent choice is the ThermaCell© personal appliance.  Thermocell APGRemember, Turkeys are equipped with better vision than any animal you're likely to hunt in these parts, so a camo pattern is essential!   In the real world, people tell me that Thermacell's technology © repels mosquitos without a sound for up to 4 hours at a time on a single charge; and you can recharge in a matter of seconds for another 4 hours very quietly!  (No batteries here, just good old fashion ingenuity at work).   

So decrease the chances of detection and enjoy your time afield with your young hunter!  Remember, kids hate smelly things, but they really like cool gadgets.  Your time in the field should be a fun teaching experience too; so practice recharging the unit at home by making it a game of stealth!   Shhhh, there are turkeys out there!

A great confidence builder as that ThermaCell is odorless, portable and is endorsed by the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation).  

Bass Pro Shops has a vast selection of Turkey hunting gear  for hunters of all ages. Don’t forget to stop by the Hunting department for your calls and demonstration!


Springtime Means Trigger Time

Well it’s Spring once again and that means something extra special to me. Spring not only brings with it warmer weather and longer days but it’s also when I get to pull out all those Christmas presents and head to the range. The new season of the Bass Pro Shops sponsored program Top Shot airing on The History Channel has peaked interest of many of our customers in competitive shooting.

I have been playing games with guns for 12 or 13 years now and have participated in many different types of competition from bowling pin matches to United States Practical Shooters Association (USPSA), and International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) on the local and national level. Today I’d like to talk about IDPA shooting simply because that’s where I began shooting action pistol games. IDPA is geared toward shooting scenarios that one may encounter in a defensive situation using equipment that can be purchased and competed with stock configuration without the need of pricey gunsmith services.

What makes IDPA shooting so much fun? You won’t see any compensated race guns, or fancy optics at IDPA matches as the game is designed to be played with stock, or mostly stock firearms falling into one of six divisions depending on the gun you want to use. A person can literally walk into a Bass Pro Shops in the morning to take possession of their handgun, purchase a holster, magazine carrier, extra magazine or two, eye, and hearing protection, and some ammunition and have everything they need to shoot a match that afternoon. It was the ability to use equipment I already had that first drew me to this game and has kept me there.

Take a look at Mike Elliott, shooting in the Enhanced Service Pistol Division:

The divisions are:  

Stock Service Pistol (SSP)

Double action 9mm or larger pistols only, with modifications limited to internal accuracy work, grip changes, and sight changes. No other externally visible modifications are permitted.  

Enhanced Service Pistol (ESP)

Double, or single action 9mm or larger pistols with the modifications allowed in SSP, plus you may make some externally visible modifications such as the addition of a magazine well or checkering and stippling added to your pistol frame.  

Custom Defensive Pistol (CDP)

Any .45 caliber pistol, and the modifications listed in the SSP and ESP divisions.  

Stock Service Revolver (SSR)

Any .38 or larger revolver with a 4.2 inch or less barrel that uses rimmed ammunition and is not loaded with moon clips. Speed loaders are allowed in SSR.  

Enhanced Service Revolver (ESR)

Any 9mm or larger revolver with a 4.2inch or less barrel that is reloaded by moon clips.  

Back Up Gun (BUG)

Intended for local matches only using a .32 or larger gun with a barrel no longer than 3.8inches for a pistol or 3.0 inches for a revolver. 


For the full rule book please visit the IDPA Rule Book

IDPA allows a person to shoot one match as a non-member before they are asked to join. This way you can try it out and decide if the game is for you before plopping down your $40 for a one year membership to the organization. Once you are an IDPA member you may shoot a classifier match to judge your skill level on a pre-defined scale. From that point on, when you shoot a match, you are shooting against other shooters at the same skill level. IDPA shooting is one of those games where you can get as serious as you want, or just play it for fun. There is something for just about everyone, and getting started is half the fun.


April Showers Bring Big Spring Flounder

By Garry Owings

Spring is one of my favorite times of year. It marks the beginning of Winter Flounder fishing in the inter-coastal estuaries in Maryland and Virginia. Each year they migrate from their deeper offshore lair to feed and spawn in the shallow bays and creeks. Annually anglers travel from far and wide for a chance to catch these tasty hard fighters. The best time to fish for this species seems to be from the beginning of April when the water temperature starts to move into the mid to upper fifties. They can be continually caught until the water temperature in the shallows becomes too warm. This signals them to seek deeper and cooler waters.

Flounder are sight feeders and the stomachs of the ones I’ve examined have held a variety of species such as small crabs, grass shrimp, clam siphons, and bait fish common to the area. They are an ambush predator. Because both eyes are on the same side of their body, more often than not they bury themselves on sandy or mud bottoms with only their eyes exposed. They position themselves in areas where currents created by changes in tides sweep food into their feeding grounds.

There are many ways to catch Winter Flounder. Some choose a simple buck tail jig such as Bass Pro Shops Striper Stump Jumper in pearl or chartreuse tipped with a strip of squid or a minnow.

There are two other methods I like to employ. The first is when I am drifting with the tide. For this I use a 6’6" medium heavy Extreme bait casting rod. My choice of reel is a Shimano 200B level wind reel filled with 20 lb test Power Pro braided line. I choose the braided line because of its sensitivity, allowing me to detect even the slightest of bites. I run the braided line through a sinker slider and then tie on a barrel swivel. To the barrel swivel I attach between 16" and 20" of Offshore Angler fluorocarbon leader. To this I tie on a 2/0 or 3/0 stainless steel kahle hook. For bait I add about 5" piece of squid and either a large live bull minnow or a frozen silver side minnow. To dress this rig even more I add a skirt made of colored deer hair and mylar bonded to a small pop rivet. All of which can be found in our fly shop.

When the tide stops moving I switch to my second method of fishing for flounder. This consists of a 6’6" medium action Extreme spinning rod and a spinning reel. The reel is also loaded with 20 lb test braided line. I tie on a jig head that can weigh anywhere between half an ounce and 2 ounces, depending on how deep the water is. To the jig I then add a 5" Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad . When employing either of these methods it is critical to have constant contact with the bottom. Every so often lift the rod tip up to allow the bait to appear more natural. When you feel a bite, don’t set the hook immediately. Lift the rod up gently until you can feel the weight of the fish as he is holding on to the bait. Then slowly lower the rod tip while removing any slack in your line and then set the hook.

Before you hit the water be sure to consult your local DNR for the latest size and bag limits because the regulations have been changing almost annually. For Maryland this information can be found at the following link: ( For Virginia the link is: ( Have a safe trip and I hope to see you on the water soon.


Your New Rod for 2012!

Visit us during our 2012 Spring Fishing Classic! It is seventeen days of excitement & values from beginning to end! Click Here for details!

You may need a new rod, so trade in your old useable one to help support youth angling and organizations supporting wounded warrior fishing programs in our area! Visit us during our Spring Fishing Classic from March 2 – 6 and save up to $100 on a new rod!!

Bass Pro Rod & Reel Trade-In Events!

Bass Pro Shops stocks literally thousands of rods for all kinds of fishing.  We’ll break them down so you’ll know what to look for in a rod that's just right for you!


With technology the way it is, rods have come a long way baby! Grandpa liked his shorter rod for bass fishing and his longer rod for trout. That sounds crazy today, but when you consider the materials used just forty years ago, if Grandpa’s rod wasn’t bamboo, it was probably made of fiberglass, which was innovative at the time. The longer rod would not have the stiffness needed for bass fishing; lacking durability,the big one definitely got away! A shorter rod gave more stiffness & strength, but you lost casting distance. With today’s graphite and composite material, length is more of a preference for what you want to do, not what you were forced to do. Today you can get the rod of your choice in nearly any length. Check out our Bass Rod Buying Guide: 


This is the ability of the rod to telegraph the vibrations of the line through the guides or eyes  right to your hand.


Basically this refers to where the rod will bend. Think of it this way: Rods with a Fast Action have less cushion at the hook. When you have a fish on and you want to set the hook, there is more tug at the hook. Rods that are Slow Action have more cushion at the hook, or the rod bends more with a fish on. However, this also means to set the hook, there is less tug at the hook. So what action is best for you? Come put some rods in your hand, heck we’ll even put a plug on a combo and give you a lesson or two in our Fishing Department!


In short, the power rating is the overall strength of the rod, or the amount of force it takes to bend a rod. If you have a heavy lure, you probably need a heavy action. But lighter power rating gives a whipping action when casting to help get that lure where you want it, providing the catch on the other end isn’t a monster that a lighter action won’t be able to handle. Our advice: After we get you set up with the rod & reel that is best for your kind of fishing:  Fish and fish often enough to get familiar with your equipment!  You don't have to wait 'til you're out on the water to get familiar with your gear.  I know I can't wait! Front yards have multiple uses with a practice plug on the end of your line!

So choose your Fly Rod or Bass Rod with help from Bass Pro Shops!


Handloading Shotshells

Shotshell PressSpring is upon us and better weather is coming.  Not everyone will take on the weather and shoot Trap, Skeet or Sporting Clays in the snow or cold wind.  But, with good weather comes the sound of shotguns filling the air at the range.  Of course, a lot of lead shot is filling the air as well.  If you shoot much at all, you already know just how much ammunition costs.  The availability of ammunition in itself can be a challenge.  Combine the sting of paying for loaded ammunition with the challenge of finding the load you shoot best in sufficient quantities and suddenly you find yourself asking, "Isn't there a better way?"  What about reloading your own ammunition? 

There are some general misconceptions about reloading that tend to put folks off.  The three most common misconceptions are that reloading is messy, dangerous and expensive to get started.  With the proper tools, safety equipment and precautions, reloading isn't messy or dangerous.  There is a cost in getting started, but you can realize considerable savings in a short period of time.  There is actually a resource on line that will calculate everything for you, including how much each box of loaded shotshells costs you to load and how many boxes of ammunition you will need to load before you have saved more than the cost of your equipment.  Check out the Shotshell Reloading Cost Calculator.

Selecting a press is your first step in getting started.  Frequently, when discussing reloading with other folks that reload, I will hear various quotes as to the volume of ammunition that one might load in an hour.  Guys are funny that way.  It's like going on vacation and trying to see just how fast you can get there, or how good your gas mileage can be.  One way or another, we find the ability to quantify our degree of success or satisfaction.  Just because a press can produce 1000 rounds of loaded ammunition per hour doesn't mean you will only need one hour to produce 1000 rounds.  There is the matter of setup, preparation and cleanup to consider as well.  Most shooters do not need the ability to produce 1000 rounds in a single sitting, much less an hour.  How often you shoot, how much you shoot, how much time you have to dedicate to reloading and how many rounds you will expect to load in a single sitting will determine just what press best fits your needs.

For the average shooter, a standard single stage press will serve you well.  Presses like the MEC 600 Jr. MK5 and the RCBS Mini Grand RCBS Mini Grand  are under $200 and they come with the basic charge bushings and bars that you need.  With a couple of quick assembly steps, you are ready to get started.  All you need is lead shot, powder, primers, wads and empty hulls.  Single stage presses will load a shotshell one step at at time, from depriming to priming, powder charge, wad insertion, shot charge and crimping.  It takes a few seconds to move the hull from one station to the next manually, ending in a finished shell.  Watch this video of the Shotshell Handloading Process to see a demonstration.

Safety equipment comes in the form of eye and hearing protection.  Cleanup typically requires a small dust pan and hand broom.  I mounted my press on a large cutting board that has a channel around the outer edge to catch powder and loose shot that I might spill during my loading session.  With a few felt pads added to the bottom of the cutting board, it is easy to stow away and pull out when needed.


Not only can I buy my components in bulk and save money, it is fun and relaxing.  I enjoy reloading my own ammunition.  I can duplicate factory loads by choosing the same components the manufacturers use.  I can tailor my loads to produce shells that perform best in my firearms.  Best of all, I determine the availability of my ammunition myself.  The next time you pull the trigger and see that clay bird dissipate into dust, it could be with a shell you loaded yourself.

Browse all Reloading Gear



2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge by Hanover, Maryland

MD Fish Challenge

The Maryland Fishing Challenge, Featuring Diamond Jim, is a free, year-round tournament sponsored by the Maryland DNR Fisheries Service and largely supported by Bass Pro Shops & Tracker Marine Boat Center located at Arundel Mills Bass Pro Shops in Hanover Maryland.

The purpose of the event is to promote Maryland's excellent fishing opportunities and to encourage families to engage in the great outdoors, exposing kids to one of the world’s greatest and enjoyable outdoor activities; FISHING!  A natural resource that Maryland has no shortage of!  Find more about the Maryland Fishing Challenge at Maryland DNR

Did you know that every citation fish caught, and brought to an official DNR Citation Station, which Bass Pro Shops is one such location, is eligible for the Grand Prize drawing of a Tracker Boat, Motor & Trailer package?  You might ask what is a citation fish?  Well, it's more simple than you may think:

A Citation Fish in Maryland is any one of 84 species that meets or exceeds the minimum requirement as set by Maryland’s DNR.  The size chart can be found at: DNR Citation Chart

More exciting things about the Maryland Fishing Challenge are these components established by DNR:

YOUTH FISHING RODEOS – (From the DNR 2011 Fishing Guide) Anglers under the age of 16 may be chosen to advance to the Grand Awards Celebration in September from one of the many events sponsored by local community and fishing organizations.  So browse the Maryland DNR Home Page to find a Kid’s Fishing Rodeo your children can attend.

CATCH DIAMOND JIM – Beginning in June, DNR will catch, tag & release hundreds of fish with unique & individual numbers.  All of the tagged fish are worth cash to the lucky angler.  Each month until September, one fish will be designated as the official “Diamond Jim” worth thousands of dollars!

So check out how to determine which waders are best for you by clicking Here if Trout fishing interests you or if Bass Fishing might be more your style, learn more from Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Library 

So don’t wait, log onto the Maryland DNR website and learn more at: Maryland DNR