My First Ruffner Mt. Hike

Several weeks ago, I decided to go hiking, but did not want to drive all the way to Chehah, which is where I normally hike.  I asked around and the overwhelming consensus was to go to Ruffner Mountain and check out some of their trails.  Before I led a hike, I wanted to get the general feel of the mountain, so I hiked several of the trails and was very impressed with the park.

I parked at the Visitor Center, and began on the Quarry Trail to the hollow Tree Trail.  This section was a little tough, because of the elevation change; it was up hill almost the entire way.  But it was nice, there was a pleasant breeze and at the top there was an overlook that is not marked on the map.  I then continued onto the Buckeye Trail.

The Buckeye Trail was one of my favorite sections on this trip.  It was all downhill, and is located on the front side of the mountain so it blocks the sound of the interstate.  It was just very enjoyable.  This trail has some great views of the wetlands and all the animals that live there.

From there I took the Pipeline Trail to the Wetlands Trail.  This section was flat and really cool.  There were a variety of birds, and insects.  In the pond I could see tadpoles, fish and crayfish.  My only complaint about this section is that there a ton of mosquitoes and flies! I would not suggest people hike these trails in the summer for this reason.

I then hiked the Overlook Trail.  This trail is not hiked very often and was a little overgrown, but it was very nice trail also.

I then hiked back to my vehicle the same way I came.

Since this was a day hike, I just needed a pack large enough to hold water, lunch, and a couple of snacks.  I found that the Bass Pro Shops® XPS® 2L Hydration Pack is perfect for short hikes, longer runs, I even used it during band camp.  It is also very rugged; I have used mine for about four years and it is still in good shape.  It can be found here:

Here is a map of Ruffner Mr. and a link to Ruffner Mountain's website:

Map of Ruffner Mt. Nature Preserve


Adventures on Ruffner Mountain

Since my first hike at Ruffner Mt. Nature Center was so enjoyable, I decided to go on another one, but this time (picture, left to right) Corey Clayton, me (Jon McGinnis), Cobi Boykin, and Emily Shackleton wanted to come along.  This time we parked at the southern most parking spot (almost directly across the park from the Nature Center) since we wanted to hike around the quarry.

I had recently bought a 15” Red Head Machete (found here, and I keep it in my trunk because I had picked up odd jobs clearing brush.  When my friends found out that I had it, of course the guys wanted to cut some walking sticks.  I had not tested it out yet, so I was interested how it would perform.  It did wonderfully!  It truly felt like an extension of my arm!

After we cut some walking sticks, we headed northeast on the Ridge and Valley Trail, toward the quarry.  It was awesome!  The weather was perfect, not too hot with a nice breeze.  The elevation was not very bad at all and we were taking our time.

We then followed onto Overlook Trail.  The overlook was great!  I have never seen such a view of Birmingham in my entire life!  You could even faintly make out Vulcan to the left.  This was the day before the Fourth of July, and I wanted to come back, set up my hammock and watch the fireworks. But it did not work out.  We took some pictures then backtracked to Opossum Loop.

Opossum Loop encircles the quarry, so we hiked it, following a clockwise motion.  Because it was a quarry, the terrain was pretty rocky, but not too tough.  We found a cave while following the loop, and because we were a group of three guys and a girl; we did some “exploring”.  Unfortunately our exploration took us through a massive ant bed.

On the last part of Opossum Loop, I was leading, and I saw a two foot long snake in the middle of the path.  I immediately froze, and everyone almost ran into me.  They could not see it until I pointed it out to them.  It then slithered off into the brush and we continued on our merry way.  (Later I learned that it was a King Snake.)

We then hiked the Quarry Trail north, until the first bench.   We took a break at the bench and Corey decided to climb a tree.  At that point, my fellow trekkers had had enough adventure for one day, so we took the Silent Journey trail back to the Ridge and Valley Trail, then back to the car.  The entire group was hot and tired, so went to Chick-fil-A for snacks and milkshakes.  This hike took around five hours.

The weather was beautiful, and there were not many bugs either.  So we had a great time!  I used my Bass Pro Shops XPS 2L Hydration Pack ( again, but this time I did not carry any food, just water.  And, as always, it performed wonderfully.


2014 Labor Day Hometown Festival

Don't miss out on this years Labor Day Hometown Festival August 30th and 31st, noon until 5pm.

Honoring Our Hometown Heroes:

  • August 30th ONLY 2-4pm
  • Hourly Drawings
    • 2pm - BPS $50.00 gift card
    • 3pm - Maui Jim Sunglasses
    • 4pm - Yeti cooler
  • Fish Fry Samples


  • Saturday and Sunday, August 30th and 31st
    • 1:30pm - Stoked to Smoke: How to Smoke Meat Right
    • 2:30pm - Backyard Chef: Picking the Right Grill
    • 3:30pm - Going Dutch: Dutch Oven Cooking Made Easy

Product Demos:

  • Smokers and accessories
  • Grills and accessories
  • Dutch ovens and accessories

#14 Show car photo opportunity:

  • Don't miss your chance to get your photo taken with a free download!

Hot Dogs:

  • FREE Hot Dogs each day from 1-4pm
  • While supplies lasts

Ice Cream:

  • FREE Homemade Ice Cream sampleing each day from 4-5pm
  • While supplies lasts

Bass Pro Shops Food Samples:

  • Throughout the day BPS Food Samples will be provided to customers
  • Multiple samples per day so don't forget to try all of them!

Family Activites:

  • Gift Card Drawings
    • Two $25.00 BPS gift cards will be given away each day
    • Customer DOES NOT need to be present to win!
  • Pick a Duck pond
    • Kids will pick a floating duck from the pond to see if they win a prize!
  • Metal Detector Treasure Hunt
    • Using a metal detector kids will attempt to find hidden objects to win a prize!
  • Casting Buckets
    • Kids will have 3 chances to hit the target for a prize!
  • Face Painting
  • Craft
    • Color an owl back pack clip to take home with you!
    • Noon - 5pm
    • While supplies lasts
  • Coloring Pages
  • Giveaway
    • the first 100 kids each day to complete the photo opportunity, the casting buckets, and the metal detector treasure hunt will recieve a raccoon drawstring bag.

Professional Bull Riders Weekend

This weekend at the Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Alabama

Free family games and activities for the Professional Bull Rider's Weekend

July 26 & 27 from 11am to 4pm

FREE crafts -  make a cactus magnet (while supplies last), face painting - look like Flint the Entertainer, giveaways - the first 100 customers will receive a cowboy light up hat key chain, bull roping - try your hand at "roping" a plastic bull head, and pony races - grab a stick pony and a partner to see who can cross the finish line first.

Meet a professional bull riding expert on Saturday (only) from 1pm - 2pm Josh Moore from Oneonta, Alabama is scheduled to be here.

Sunday at 2:30pm enter to win the "best dressed" contest. Some lucky winner will win a $50 gift card for being the best dressed cowboy/cowgirl. Prize will be given away to the lucky winner at 3pm.

While here, don't forget to check out the great deals under the clearance tent. The tent sale will run from July 19 to July 27th and includes sale items from men and ladies apparel, footwear, archery, fishing, marine accessories, and more. Get these great items before they are gone. Many are marked down from 20-50% off the original ticket price. pbr


2014 Fall Hunting Classic

Come join us for our annual Fall Hunting Classic, August 1-17!! There will be different events each weekend including National Pro appearances, seminars, savings, and much, much more!!


  • Enter between August 1 and August 17
  • Customers must be 21 to enter
  • The winner will go on a 2-hour helicopter hunt in Texas with Brian "Pigman" Quaca!!

National Pros:

  • National Pros will be signing autographs and teaching seminars August 1-3. Don't miss out!!

Next Generation Weekend:

  • August 9 & 10, Noon - 5pm
  • BB shooting range, free photo download, workshops, crafts, and giveaways!

Women's Hunting Workshop:

  • August 9 at 3pm
  • First 25 women to attend the workshop will recieve Bass Pro Shops Tumbler (must be 18 years old or older)
  • Women can register for a chance to win a RedHead folding knife or pair of Oculus binoculars

Local Pro Seminars will be held august 15-17. The Seminars include:

  • August 15, 7pm - Big Game are All around you: Hunting Near Home OR So You Think You Know How to Bow hunt
  • August 16 & 17, 1pm - Autumn Hunt: New Approaches to Fall Success
  • August 16 & 17, 2pm - Tender Venison? It's Easier Than You Think!
  • August 16 & 17, 3pm - Does Camo Pattern Really Matter?
  • August 16 & 17, 4pm - Why Should You Be Hunting Coyote (or predator)
  • August 16 & 17, 5pm - How to Integrate Your Game Camera With Mobile Devices

In each seminar the first 25 customers to attend will recieve a Bass Pro Shops tumbler on Friday and Saturday and a survival whistle on Sunday.


  • Bow & Crossbow Trade-In - will run August 1-6
  • Binocular & Rangefinder Trade-In - will run august 7-12
  • Scope Trade-In - will run August 13-17

Test Drive a Bad Boy Buggy during Fall Hunting Classic!

2nd Amendment Instant Savings on Guns and Safes with BPS Credit Card!

Don't miss out!! This year's Fall Hunting Classic is going to be AMAZING!!!!


Funnel Cake Heaven: Quickly and Easily

Funnel Cake Heaven:

So I don’t know about you but I LOVE funnel cakes. Every time I go to a fair or amusement park I have to get one, otherwise it isn’t worth the trip. The only problem is how often I actually get to have a funnel cake. Maybe once or twice a year! So I decided to change that.

I found out that at Bass Pro Shops, they have everything you need to make your own funnel cakes right at home!!! And it’s easy too! All you need is the batter, a funnel cake ring, a funnel cake pitcher, powdered sugar, and a deep fryer (or if you are like me then using a cast iron skillet is perfect). Like I said I got everything at Bass Pro Shops, and it is definitely worth the cost!


(Left: funnel cake batter, Middle: large and small iron skillets, Right: batter, ring, and pitcher)

So the amazing thing about this batter is that all you have to do is add water!! It makes it super simple and more enjoyable because you can get straight to the fun part. Now I am no expert at making funnel cakes so I am not going to bore you with how to cook them, you can just read that on the batter container. What I am going to tell you is a great way I found to help with the portion sizes!

Because I love funnel cakes so much I could easily eat a whole one myself, but that is a lot of funnel cake!! Not to mention it is obviously not good for me. A great solution I found is using cast iron skillets. Because the come in all sizes you can make one normal size, bigger than normal, or the perfect individual sized funnel cake! I always use a cast iron skillet that is about 6 to 7 inches in diameter because it gives me a small enough funnel cake that I am not overwhelmed and it leaves me satisfied.


(Left: small iron skillet with funnel cake, right: large iron skillet with ring and funnel cake)

Now thanks to Bass Pro Shops I can have all the joys of a funnel cake without the hassle of going to a fair or amusement park!!


Hot New Fishing Products

The fishing industry is constantly growing and changing! New innovations, improvements, and concepts are constantly being introduced and quite frankly it can at times be a little bit difficult to keep up with! Here at the Leeds Bass Pro Shops and at other stores across the country we are always trying to get in the latest and greatest products in order to provide anglers with what they need. This summer numerous outstanding products have hit the Bass Pro Shops shelves and they should all be considered as possible assets for you to add to your fishing arsenal!

Probably the fastest changing section of the fishing industry is fishing lures. The biggest reason for this is the fact that people around the country are always attempting to figure out something special that will help them and other anglers fool more fish into biting. In the past three years the hands down biggest and most successful innovation has been the Umbrella Rig! These multiple wire rigs have probably contributed to more winning limits of fish in the past three years than many other baits have in the past decade! It started out with the original the Alabama Rig and it has recently been improved by the addition of blades to the wires of the bait such as the Yumbrella Flash Mob Junior and the Bass Pro Shops Deadly 5 Flashy Times. These rigs work incredibly well when fished around aggressive feeding fish especially in the spring and fall! The only problems you could run into with this rig is with state regulations as well as individual tournament regulations. Booyah recently introduced a solution to the issue of tournaments banning umbrella rigs. The Booyah Boo Rig consists of the same amount of wires but only one hook rigged on the extended center wire. The outside 4 wires are designed to be rigged with either blades or hook less curly tail grubs. Rig the new Boo Rig with your favorite swimbait and you are ready to go. Another new technology that has taken the fishing lure industry by storm is sound technology introduced by Livingston Lures. Built into ever bait is a miniature computer that submits a baitfish sound periodically as it is retrieved to the boat. A huge win in the Bass Master Classic by Alabama native Randy Howell really boosted Livingston Lures to the top of the food chain in the hard bait market. They produce multiple baits with this technology, from topwater walking baits all the way to deep diving crankbaits.

Aside from specific fishing lures Bass Pro Shops has also started carrying some great new products as far as rods and reels. Over the past five years rods and reels have come a long ways, they are now made lighter, stronger, and smoother than ever before! Bass Pro Shops recently added the Temple Fork Outfitters Gary Loomis Tactical Series fishing rods to there already tremendous selection. TFO Rods are incredibly sensitive but give up nothing in the back bone department. Light weight sensitive with a strong back bone equals more bites felt and ultimately more fish in the boat. Shimano has also introduced some incredible new reels, really revamping the old stand by Curado and Chronarch. These light weight strong high speed reels accompanied with a light weight rod make for a fishing experience like never before.

If all of this seems overwhelming then my advice is to pick a simple starting point. Such as a TFO Rod with a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Reel. Rig your new set up with a basic lure presentation such as a Carolina rig for deeper water and weightless Stik-O for shallow water and hit the lake. Once you have mastered those two techniques choose two more lures and take the time on the water in order to build confidence in those baits. As you do this over time you will gain a better understanding of fish movements and behavior and you will be able to catch fish in any conditions no matter what the time of year. For questions on other baits to start with head in to your local Bass Pro Shops where knowledgeable associates are always ready to help. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania


Summer Camp 2014

Join us this year for another exciting time at summer camp at the Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, AL. This year, summer camp kicks off on June 7th and ends on July 13th. We will have FREE workshops and activities every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. On Saturday, we will serve FREE homemade icecream samples at 5pm.

Here is a list of our activities:

Saturday and Sunday 2 weekends ONLY: June 7th & 8th, June 14th & 15th

  • Catch and release pond - try your hand at catching a fish from the indoor pond in the fishing area of the store.
  •  Free 4 x 6 photo - you on the cover of a magazine. Take home a photo of you and your family on the cover of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Kids magazine.

Satuday, Sunday, Tuesday, & Thursday activities include:

  • Duck shooting arcade - practice your aim using a foam bow & arrow by knocking down plastic ducks in an arcade style game
  • Casting buckets - improve your casting, flipping, and pitching techniques using our bass fishing buckets
  • Make and take crafts - each week on Saturday, we will introduce a new craft to make and take home
    • June 7th, 8th, 10th, & 12th color a wooden ring toss
    • June 14th, 15th, 17th, & 19th create your own rainbow thermometer
    • June 21st, 22nd, 24th, & 26th design a magnifying glass
    • June 28th, 29th and July 1st & 3rd create your own personal camp journal
    • July 5th, 6th, 8th, & 10th color a wooden wiggle fish
    • July 12th & 13th color a wolf track
  • BB range - take a shot at a target inside an inflatable BB range.
  • Archery - shoot a Bear bow & arrow
  • Ice Cream samples on Saturday
  • Workshops - come sit in an educational workshop and learn about the great outdoors
    • Tuesday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Bird Watching
      •  1 pm Fishing
      •  2 pm Archery
      •  3 pm Kayaking
      •  4 pm Backyard Adventure
    • Thursday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Archery
      •  1 pm Shooting & Hunting
      •  2 pm Travel Safety
      •  3 pm Water Safety
      •  4 pm Camping
    • Saturday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Fishing
      •  1 pm Water Safety
      •  2 pm Shooting & Hunting
      •  3 pm Kayaking
      •  4 pm Bird Watching
    • Sunday's workshops:
      • 12 pm Shoothin & Hunting
      •  1 pm Archery
      •  2 pm Travel Safety
      •  3 pm Camping
      •  4 pm Backyard Adventure




3 Easy Techniques For Spawning Spotted Bass

In the great state of Alabama we are blessed to have the opportunity to fish for all three of the major species of bass. In north Alabama on the Tennessee River System all three species can actually be caught on the same day. Lakes such as Pickwick, Wheeler, and Wilson while having strong populations of largemouth are also home to some giant smallmouth bass that would rival any lake in the country! Further south the Coosa River System is loaded with both largemouth and some world class spotted bass. The spotted bass found throughout the Coosa River System actually is considered by many as its own sub species. Unlike spotted bass found in other bodies of water across the country the Coosa River spot is a longer, stronger, and meaner species that will put even the best equipment to the test! They are an absolute blast to catch and the months of April and May are possibly the easiest months of the year to catch large numbers of spotted bass.

Generally in the month of April the spotted bass are in a full spawning mode. Unlike largemouth which generally spawn in protected pockets or on key pieces of shallow structure the spotted bass more like a smallmouth is comfortable spewing in more open areas closer to deep water such as long flat points and road beds near the main creek channel. On the Coosa River the water clarity 99% of the time will not allow you to see these spawning spotted bass but with a few simple techniques you can learn how to load the boat without even looking at them.

When searching for key points, gravel flats, or road beds holding spawning spotted bass I generally start my search with the Carolina Rig. I rig my set up my Carolina Rig with a 3/4 oz brass Bass Pro Shops Carolina Rig Weight followed by a bead and a small Spro Power Swivel. To the other end of the swivel I connect a leader approximately 18 to 24 inches long with a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook on the end of it. I like to use 17lb test Bass Pro Shops XPS KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line for my main line as well as my leader. The new KVD Signature Series Flouro is one of the strongest lowest memory fluorocarbon fishing lines on the market, and the low stretch quality will allow you to feel subtle bites as well as allowing you to drive the hook home on a long cast. As far as the bait goes just about any soft plastic that you have confidence in will work! Baits such as lizards, brush hogs and stick baits will all put plenty of fish in the boat! I like to use a TFO Gary Loomis tactical Series 7'3" Heavy Casting Rod accompanied by a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier high speed reel. The 7'3" heavy rod will allow you to drive the hook home no matter how the bass bites the bait. Always be aware that spawning bass will often pick up your bait and quickly move off with it directly towards you. Always be ready to quickly reel up your slack and set the hook because if you wait too long there is a high probability that the fish will move off quickly and then spit your bait out before you even know it.

Another great technique for catching spawning bass you have already located is with a shaky head. The way a shaky head makes your bait sit directly nose down really provokes a protective aggressive spotted bass into striking. This time of year I like to use a shorter worm than normal in order to eliminate the problem of the spawning bass just picking up the tail and not eating the entire bait. I generally use a 1/8oz to a 1/4oz Gamakatsu Skip Gap Shaky Head Hook on 8 to 12lb KVD Signature Series Fluorocarbon with a TFO spinning rod. The reason I don't use the Shaky head when searching for the spawning fish is because of the weight of the bait. The nature of the Carolina Rig is what makes it a perfect option for making long casts and dragging the bottom to get a good feel of what is going on!

The final technique and one that is often overlooked is using a topwater bait to locate aggressive fish whether they are spawning or post spawn. My very favorite bait to use while searching with a topwater is a walk the dog style bait such as a Spro Dawg 100, or a Zera Super Spook. I like to focus my search on shallow gravel points and don't be afraid to utilize the topwater all day long. Some of your biggest spotted bass of the year can fall victim to a well worked topwater bait. Not only is it effective it is extremely exciting. Unlike when I'm using the subsurface slower moving baits with fluorocarbon, on my topwaters I always use monofilament, for the reason that it floats and will allow you to efficiently walk your bait back and forth to the boat.

Not only is the fishing good in April and May in Alabama but the weather is beautiful as well. So get the family rounded up and head on out for an action packed day of fishing that will make memories that will last a lifetime! For information a guided trip visit my website at! I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania




2014 Spring Force Promotion

Bass Pro Shops and Carhartt are teaming up again. This year, April 1st through April 20th, receive a FREE Igloo cooler when you make at least a $50.00 purchase on any Carhartt Force product. Make at least a $50.00 purchase on any Carhartt Force products and receive a redemption form to claim your cooler. Redemption forms can be found in the apparel department.


There are two ways to redeem:
1. Online: Enter certificate code at, as prompted, on or before June 30, 2014. Limit
1 Igloo® Cooler per mailing address. Note: Customers may be requested to mail in original Carhartt Force®
Product sales receipt and original bar code/UPC code.

2. Mail in: Customer can send original receipt with the redemption coupon Carhartt Force® Product sales
receipt and original bar code/UPC code, along with redemption form, to the address provided.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. If your Igloo® Cooler is not received in 6-8 weeks, contact Carhartt at 1-800-833-3118, or by email,

Come on into the store or visit us on the website at to check out all of the Carhartt products that we carry. Don't wait long to shop, this offer is only good for a limited time.


Easter Event 2014

It's that time of the year again..... Easter time. Come join us for the 2014 Bass Pro Shops FREE Easter Event.

Dates & Times:  Saturdays & Sundays, April 12-13 & 19-20, 11am-4pm

     Monday-Thursday, April 14-17, 6-8pm

     Friday - April 18, 2-7pm                                                                  


Activities include:

Easter Egg Hunt - Ages 2-10

Saturdays & Sundays, April 12-13 & 19-20 Beginning at 2pm for 1 hour

Eggs and bags will be provided


Crafts for the Kids

Saturdays & Sunday April 12-13, 1-4pm (whiles supplies last)



Saturday & Sunday April 19-20, 1-4pm (while supplies last)


Friday, April 18th 2-7pm (whiles supplies last)



FREE pictures with the Easter bunny! Saturday & Sunday April 12-13 & 19-20 - 11am-4pm
                                                        Monday - Thursday April 14-17, 6-8pm
                                                        Friday April 18th, 2-7pm










2014 Spring Fling

Join us this year for our 2014 Spring Fling Event. The event will be held on March 22nd from 11am to 5pm.

Come on out and spend the day with the family enjoying FREE activities. Activities this year include:

-Fashion Show from the apparel department. Join our Bass Pro Shops apparel team as they prepare to model the latest spring fashions for you. Our team will begin a fashion show at 1pm and will have a variety of apparel. Styles will be from the children's department, men, women's, and even camouflage.


fox 6

-Fox 6 News - Rhonda Robinson will be the emcee for the fashion show!
                      You see her on TV at night, now come see her in person.



red cross

- The American Red Cross - See how you can make a difference this year. Check in with this booth and get lots of information.



barber   -Barber Motorsports - Rated as one of the best motorcycle museums in the world, we are lucky enough to call them our neighbor. Come see what all the fuss is about!



-Alabama Partners for clean air - A little change can go a long way. Are you doing your part to keep Alabama's air clean from pollutants? Stop by and become a partner.



-Turkey Creek Nature Preserve - Where unique natural wonders and rich history flow together.



There will also be an exotic animal show and more! Don't miss the opportunity to have a FREE, fun family day at the Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Alabama.




New Shotgun From Benelli, Ethos

Bass Pro Shop, Leeds, Alabama just received its first shipment of the new shotgun from Benelli. This new model is named "Ethos" and it is sure to be a game-changer for the shotgun world.

Ethos' Features:Ethos Stock

  • Progressive Comfort System
  • Wide range of LOP adjustment
  • Easy Loading System (No more ""Nelli numb thumb")
  • Easy Locking System
  • Large Bolt Release
  • Anti-Seize Mag Cap
  • Carbon Fiber Rib
  • Interchangeable Fiber-Optic Sight
  • Crio-treated barrel
  • AA Walnut Stock

Benelli Ethos Configurations:

  • 12ga 2.75"-3". AA-Grade Satin Walnut, Engraved. 28"-6.5lbs. 26"-6.4lbs. MSRP $2199


  • 12ga 2.75"-3". AA-Grade Satin Walnut, Anodized. 28"-6.5lbs. 26"-6.4lbs. MSRP $1999


The new Benelli Ethos is also said to be able to cycle light loads. Benelli advertises that the Ethos will cycle a 7/8 ounce load reliable. This feat is probably the biggest hurdle any semi auto shotgun manufacturer had to overcome.

I have had the shotgun in my hands I can tell you for sure some of the improvements are just that, improvements. The shell carrier does not pinch my thumb, the magazine tube had no restriction while loading, the bolt is amazingly smooth, the AA-Grade walnut is beautiful, the gun is well balanced and swings beautifully. The interchangeable front beads works great for varying weather conditions and shooter personalities.

I think this is a great new gun from Benelli and I can not wait to pull the trigger on one. Be sure to check out to see all the specifications for the Ethos, along with more pictures and videos of this gun in action. Also remember to stop by BassPro for all your outdoor needs!

Safe and Happy Shooting,




Key Bait's For Imitating Crawfish

Bass are absolutely one of the most ferocious predators that swim. They will eat basically anything that they can fit their mouths around, and they have been known to attempt to eat things that they can't fit their mouths around. They have amazing appetites and I say it all the time. "If bass got as big as great white sharks, then anyone that swims in our local lakes and rivers would be in big trouble." Animals such as snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents, and even birds and baby ducks are frequently found in the gullet of a bass by anglers. With all of these strange food sources as well as the more common shad, bluegill, and crawfish, selecting baits throughout the season can be a very difficult task. Understanding which food sources are key for the certain time period you are fishing in is very important. The one I want to touch on now is one of my absolute favorite food sources to imitate which is the crawfish. These crustations are like filet mignon to a hungry bass, and trust me they will take every opportunity they have to eat the hardy meal a crawfish offers. Crawfish can range in size from 1/2 inch long all the way up to 5 or 6 inches long, and can be found in a wide range of colors. Generally the base colors are an olive green or brown, but in fall and early spring the crawfish will often have orange or red in their legs and claws, and can even turn blue in certain situations. Generally in the spring or fall I want my crawfish imitation to be brown with a hint orange mixed in. A good way to tell exactly what color the crawfish are is by setting a trap such as a Frabill Deluxe Crawfish Trap. Simply set it near a rocky area and let it sit over night, the next morning you will have an up to date sample of what colors you need to be using in your crawfish imitation lures. So if you're heading out on the water right now in the month of March there are a few key baits that you really should have in your arsenal. You can either base your color selection on the sampling you've done, or you can just stick by the rule of thumb that fall and spring crawfish generally have orange or red in their claws or legs.

One of my favorite baits to turn to in the fall and early spring is a jig with a soft plastic trailer. A few of my favorite jigs are the Stanley Finesse Jigs, War Eagle Finesse Jigs, as well as the Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig. The trailer I use the most in the fall and spring is a Zoom Super Chunk, or Super Chunk Junior. I like this trailer because of the subtlety of it. When bass are cold they often prefer baits with less action and the super chunk is perfect for that application. I often determine my jig and trailer color by figuring out exactly what color the current crawfish population is but in most cases when fishing water below 65 degrees I use a jig that is brown and orange with a green pumpkin trailer that I often dip in orange Spike It. When fishing these jigs I like to target banks that have significant rock structure on them as well as working them through brush piles from 4 to 12 feet deep. The colder the water gets the slower I like to work my jig. Be ready because the jig is a proven big fish bait and there is not a better time to throw one then in the cold water months of the year!

Another great crawfish imitator is a crank bait. Numerous companies produce baits in either an orange or red color and they catch a ton of fish when worked around banks that have an abundance of rock on them. In the fall I like to look for steeper rock banks close to deep water, while in spring I often catch my larger pre spawn fish on clay or gravel banks, as well as on points that have chunk rock mixed in. Whether its spring or fall here are the baits that I like to through. The first is a Spro Little John MD in the spring craw color. This bait is small in profile and has a great action that really triggers fish when the water is in the mid 50s to low 60s whether you are fishing it in the spring or fall doesn't matter. Another crank bait for that same water temperature is the Storm Wiggle Wart. The wiggle wart has been catching fish for far more years then I have been alive and is still producing today. They have a wide variety of crawfish colors to choose from, my two favorites are the orange brown craw, and the natural brown crawfish. The Spro and the Storm both have a relatively aggressive wobble that the fish really love in the early fall and late spring. Both baits actually have what is called a hunting action which means when retrieved they wobble while at the same time subtly changing course from left to right. However when the water is cold, from 42 to 52 degrees the number one bait is the Rapala Shad Rap in the SR7 or SR5 size. When targeting cold water bass with the shad rap I generally use the SR7 size in the crawdad color or the dark brown crawdad. There are two keys to why the shad rap is such successful cold water bait. First is the fact that it is silent while most crank baits have rattles, secondly the bait has a very subtle tight wobble. These two factors are a deadly seductive presentation for a fish that is in a slow feeding mode.

The Jigs and the Crank baits are by far the top two baits when imitating crawfish, but there are some other more innovative baits on the market that are sure to catch crawfish eating bass. A new bait was recently produced by savage industries the bait is called the 3D Craw. It is an incredibly realistic bait that actually has air in the head of the bait and in the pinchers, which makes the bait stand up in an aggressive posture. You can rig the bait on a stand up jig head or for a great weed less application you can take the skirt of a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jig and simply slide the craw up on to the hook. The Huddleston Huddlebug is another great option when trying to perfectly imitate a crawfish.

Between the jigs, crank baits, and the realistic craw imitations you have plenty of baits to choose from. Remember to always pay attention to water temperature and try and match the color of the crawfish as accurately as possible. The next step is learning where, and how to fish the baits, and finally go out and load the boat with big cold water bass. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania 


Next Generation Weekend

Bass Pro Shops Next Generation Weekend Saturday and Sunday March 15-16th

  • Noon-5pm (Crafts 1-4:30pm)
  • Catch and Release Pond: Noon-5pm
  • Photos: Noon- 5pm Free 4x6 printed in-store photo opportunity


“Keep America Fishing”/Bass Pro Shops certificate



Kids workshop - 2:30 & 4:30 pm


Saturday and Sunday Free Crafts Giveaway


First 150 kids to get their Next Generation Card punched will receive a free tackle box with logo


Coloring Sheets


Women’s Beginning Fishing Workshop
March 15


This Weekend at Bass Pro Shops Leeds

This weekend, the Bass Pro Shops in Leeds has something to offer everyone from the angler to the hunter. For the angler, we will be hosting the Bassmasters Open weigh-in and also conducting workshops in fishing. Here is a lineup of all of the events:

Friday, March 7th 
7pm - Flipping and Pitching for Bass

Saturday, March 8th
11am - Locating Bass in New Waters
1pm - Topwater Techniques for Bass
2pm - Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass
3pm - Does the Color of your Bass Lure Matter?
4pm - Become a Spotted Specialist
5pm - Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Crappie

Sunday, March 9th
11am - Locating Bass in New Waters
1pm - Topwater Techniques for Bass
2pm - Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass
3pm - Does the Color of your Bass Lure Matter?
4pm - Become a Spotted Specialist
5pm - Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Crappie

The first 25 people who attend a seminar on Saturday or Sunday will receive a free giveaway. Must be 18 years old.

local pro


March 6-8th, the Bassmasters' professionals will be fishing at Smith Lake in Jasper, Alabama and holding the final weigh-in here at Bass Pro Shops. Make sure you are here by 3pm for the weigh-in excitement.



Also... in our hunting department, we have Free events & Outdoor Skills Workshops on March 8th.
1pm - Advanced Spring Turkey Calling
2pm - Selecting the Right Turkey Decoys

Attend either of these seminars and register for a chance to win a FREE Avian-X turkey decoy.



While you are here, don't miss out on the free fried fish sampling on March 8th from 2pm-4pm.


Come out and join us for a fun-filled weekend.



Bass Pro Shops would like to invite you to learn from the professionals. Join us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for our Bassmaster University weekend. This weekend's lineup includes:

jimmy houston

Jimmy Houston Friday night (February 28th) at 7pm
"Umbrella Rig Secrets & Learning How to Pitch"



Kevin VanDam Friday night (February 28th) at 8pm
"Tournament-Proven Bass Strategies"



Chuck Belmore Saturday (March 1st) at 1pm
"Modern Bowfishing"



James Watson Saturday (March 1st) at 2pm
"Choosing the Right Equipment: Rod, Reel & Line"



Chris Lane Saturday (March 1st) at 3pm
"Grass Fishing Techniques"



Terry Baksay Sunday (March 2) at 1pm
"Soft Plastic Swimbaits from Top to Bottom"



Roland Martin Sunday (March 2) at 2pm
"Techniques for Pattern Fishing"


woo daves

Woo Daves Sunday (March 2) at 3pm
"Worm Fishing"


Stop by and attend a workshop to learn from the best or simply come and meet a professional angler. Don't forget to pick up your Bass Pro Shops merchandise to have autographed from your favorite professional fisherman. Visit our apparel department for hats and t-shirts or pick up your favorite fishing lure from the fishing department.




Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

The State of Alabama has announced the return of its annual “Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday.”  This is a 3 day sales tax holiday that starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, February 21st and goes through midnight on Sunday, February 23rd.     Please go to the attached Alabama Department of Taxation website, ADOR - Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday , to read more about this upcoming holiday and print out the information provided there.


The sales tax holiday applies to all locations in Alabama (store locations in Prattville, Spanish Fort & Leeds).  The sales tax holiday is on the State portion of the sales tax (which is 4%), and in some locations, the local sales tax as well and then only on applicable items.


PLEASE NOTE:  This exemption applies to the STATE piece of the sales tax rate and only the LOCAL pieces of the sales tax rate when the local governing body has chosen to participate.  It is up to the local jurisdictions to decide if they want to participate.  The City of Prattville and Elmore County have elected to participate in this exemption program.  However, at Spanish Fort, Baldwin County has elected to participate and the City of Spanish Fort has elected to participate, but the Town Center District has elected not to participate in the holiday.  Likewise, at Leeds, the City of Leeds has elected to participate, but Jefferson County has elected to not participate in the holiday.  Therefore, depending on your location, eligible items of clothing and footwear may not be fully exempt, but will be subject to a reduced tax rate during the Holiday.  Below is a list of location with their regular tax rate and the reduced tax rate for the sales tax holiday.


                                               Normal Rate            Holiday Rate                 

Prattville Store:                      11.00%                           0.000%

Leeds Store:                           10.00%                          2.000%

Spanish Fort Store:               10.95%                          2.450%



The Holiday exempts from sales tax only certain categories of items and only on items that have a selling price of $60 or less (the one exception is on generators which is available on those selling for $1,000 or less).  If any item sells for more than $60 (or $1,000 for generators) then the whole sales price is taxable.  For example if a radio sells for $60 it is completely exempt, however, if it sells for $60.19 then the whole thing is taxable.  The list includes:


  • Blue ice or artificial ice  
  • Battery powered flashlights and lanterns (excludes kerosene or other fuel supplied lanterns)
  • Gas or diesel fuel containers
  • Batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, and 9-volt only – excludes car/boat batteries)
  • Non-electrical coolers and ice chests
  • Cell phone chargers/batteries
  • Tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, ground anchor systems, tie-down kits
  • Radios (portable and self-powered), Two-way radios, weather band radios, and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Storm shutter devices
  • Duct tape
  • First-aid kits
  • Portable generators

Monster Fish Sweepstakes

Are looking to start the New Year off with a new boat? Why not try to win one? Check out the Monster Fish sweepstakes that is going on now until April 15th, 2014. Below are the details:

  • No purchase necessary to enter or claim prize.
  • Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States or District of Columbia who are 21 years of age or older.
  • Promotion began on January 3rd and ends on April 15th

To enter: Visit to complete the entry form and submit as directed.

You may also enter by completing an official entry form including your name, complete address, daytime phone number, email address and date of birth and depositing it in an official ballot box at the Bass pro Shops in Leeds. LIMIT one entry per person per calendar month, regardless of method of entry.

Grand Prize: a 2014 Nitro Z-6 with 115 hp OptiMax and trailer valued at approximately $22,499. Prize includes freight and preparation. Winner will be notified by phone, email, and/or mail at Sponsor's sole discretion.

For a list of winners, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to be received by 5/30/14 to: Bass Pro Shops "Monster Fish" Sweepstakes Winners, PMI Station, PO Box 750, Southbury CT 06488-0750


Basics To Build On In The Sport Of Bass Fishing


Anyone who has explored very deep into the fishing world knows that fishing at times can be very overwhelming, and frustrating. Especially if you have little or no previous experience, and you are trying to figure out how to get started. The best advice I can give, is keep it simple. There are literally thousands of different types of baits, rigs, and presentations to choose from, and if you don't have a basic place to start then chances are you will get discouraged with the sport and loose interest before you ever give it a chance. I promise once you begin to learn the baits, presentations, and fish behaviors, and start to consistently catch fish throughout the year, a passion will be instilled in you that will last a lifetime. It happened to me as a child at the age of two years old down on my dock with my dad catching hundreds of bluegill and sunfish, and it has now grown into a career in professional bass fishing and guiding. This passion I have has over the years grown far beyond fishing, and has turned into a full love and appreciation for nature and the outdoors. So here are a few very simple baits and techniques that will help you get started in your own journey, utilizing and enjoying what God has given us!

The Bass is a very interesting species of fish consisting of three main types, all of which can be found in the state of Alabama! First we have the most prevalent and probably most popular type of bass the Largemouth. The Largemouth Bass is known best for getting big, with the world record being almost double the size that it's cousins are known to grow too. They are beautiful fish, and just like their name describes they have big mouths often with the same or bigger diameter than their body. They can eat very large baits and will typically be found holding tight to cover or vegetation in most lakes, rivers, and reservoirs across the country. The next major species of bass is the Smallmouth, and like their name they have a mouth that is much smaller than their bodies. Don't be fooled though, smallmouth are incredible feeders and fighters and will often jump upwards of five feet out of the water in an attempt to through your bait. They are found primarily in the northern states, but can also be found in Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas. Now the third cousin and one of the most prolific in the state of Alabama is the Spotted Bass. A spot looks almost like a cross between a largemouth and a smallmouth, while they rarely get over 7 or 8 pounds they are possibly the most aggressive feeders and hardest fighters of all. The Three baits that I am going to tell you about are baits that no matter where you go across the country, and what species you are targeting will work very well with just a little practice. 

The first, and probably my main go to technique in tough conditions is the shaky head. A shaky head is very simple, all it consists of is a jig head, with a straight tail worm rigged weedless on the hook. My very favorite shaky head jig to use is called a Gamakatsu Skip Gap Shaky Head Hook. It has a patented notch just under the head that is perfect for holding the head of the worm up on the hook with little damage to the soft plastics integrity. The weight of the head should be chosen based on the depth of water you are targeting. To keep it simple in water 15 feet or less use a 1/8oz jig head, if you go deeper than that then I’d jump it up to a 3/16 or 1/4oz head. On the jig head I basically texas rig a straight tail finesse worm such as a Robo Worm or a Bass Pro Shops Finnike Worm. On color selection any soft plastic you use that is a natural green or brown color will consistently produce bass. When rigged properly the shakey head is weedless and works very well around just about any cover you want to fish. An important tip to remember when fishing the bait is less is more. It seems that the less you try to hop and move the bait the more fish you catch. All it takes is little twitches of the rod tip to make the bait move and shimmy across the bottom. I almost always fish my shakey head with a TFO Tactical Series spinning rod, and unless I'm fishing heavy cover like brush piles, I use from 6 to 10lb test Trilene 100% Flourocarbon Line. Fluorocarbon has very little stretch and also sinks which helps significantly with sensitivity. This will allow you to feel every object your bait comes in contact with, as well as increasing your ability to detect light bites. This is a fish catching machine, and is perfect if you are interested in getting a young child into fishing, or if you are a beginning angler that wants to get into the sport.

Another deadly and simple bait that is amazing for bass is a stick bait. Specific brands all have their version of this bait from the Bass Pro Shops Stiko, to the Yum Dinger, and also the originator of the bait the, Yamamoto Senko. They all look very similar and will catch you a ton of bass. There are two primary ways to rig a stick bait, both of which work best weightless. The first is called the wacky rig, the wacky rig is simply piercing a small hook such as a Gamakatsu Weedless Wacky hook through the center of the worm. This allows the worm to flex and quiver as it slowly falls parallel to the bottom which is very difficult for a bass to resist. If you are fishing in extremely heavy cover than weightless texas rigging the bait is very effective, using either 3/0 or 4/0 Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap Hook. This bait works great for fishing shallow cover no matter where you live across the country, and if you have a pond or small lake near by then this bait is almost irresistible to bass that have rarely or never seen it before. A stiko can be fished on a spinning or bait casting setup, based on personal preference. The only time that a spinning rod is critical to success in my mind is when the fish are tucked deep up under docks or overhanging trees. In this situation the spinning rod is the best choice when attempting to skip this weightless bait.

 The first two baits I described are designed to be fished slowly and are great simple options that can help you get started in bass fishing, and more importantly, they flat out catch fish! Now there is a different type of fishing that is the exact opposite of the slow moving techniques it's called reaction fishing. When fishing slow moving bait you are attempting to intrigue a fish into biting in a certain area. When fishing a reaction bait you are attempting to cover as much water as possible and trigger an aggressive reaction from either active or possibly surprised inactive fish. Now, there are a large number of reaction type baits out there and certain ones work better in specific times of the year, but for starters I will give you one bait that you can throw that will catch you fish throughout the majority of the year. The type of bait is called a crankbait, which is designed to be moved fast, and to be worked around cover, letting the diving bill dig the bait into the bottom. The specific make and model that I use most often is called a SPRO Little John MD. The MD stands for medium diving which means it can effectively be worked in depths from 1 foot all the way to 9 feet. They come in a wide variety of colors and by rule I would stick with crawfish imitations in the spring, bluegill imitations in the summer, and shad imitations in the fall. So three different colors and one specific bait model will be all you need to get started in catching fish. All you have to do is simply cover allot of water and make as many casts as possible. Reaction fishing is very effective in low light conditions such as on cloudy days or early in the morning, and will work even better if you can find an area with the wind blowing into it.

So stop by your local Bass Pro Shops, with a list of the baits I just suggested, and ask one of the associates in the fishing department where you can find the specific baits. I promise you that if you give them time they will catch you allot of fish. So be patient, and learn to love and respect the outdoors just like I do. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania