Fish Food Comes In Many Flavors

John's Lake Hex​Fly fishing can be quite a challenge if you just take a look at casting and presentation by itself but the one thing that does give us an advantage over other types of fishing is the astounding variety of fly patterns at our disposal and our ability to imitate just about any food item possible.  We're sure to be able to find something that's on the dinner menu of the local waters, no matter what the fish might be eating.  Be it a fish, frog, lizard, damsel fly, crab, shrimp, a Hexagenia Limbata Mayfly like the one shown to the right, or a berry that dropped off the mulberry tree along the shoreline, there's a fly out there to imitate it.  You just have to figure out what's going to work.

I was recently fishing on John's Lake in west Orlando and finally got a chance to see a hatch of what local fishermen have been telling me about for years.  A hatch of mayflies had occurred and just about every surface in the parking lot had a few of these beauty's resting in preparation for their mating time.  I'd heard of these occurrences but had never actually experienced one first hand.  Folks come in to the shop each year looking for mayflies and we show them a variety of types ranging from the smaller Blue Winged Olives to the giant Adult Hex as they tell stories of bass and panfish swimming across the surface with their wide open, inhaling bugs as fast as they can.  These anglers normally chose the larger of the two, making me wonder what they've been drinking.  Now I know what flavor Kool Aid they're sipping and I'd gladly join in.

As I've said in other posts (Hotdogs, Hamburgers, and Hatch Charts) fish know what's on the menu and you, the angler, better be throwing something close to what their looking for, or luck won't be turning in your favor. Many of these hatches occur for such a limited time that hitting it right can be quite a challenge.  Baitfish availability isn't normally that specific, but can be limited to a particular season be it spring, summer, fall, or winter.  Shrimp are a prime example of a prey item that's available during a particular season, so throwing imitations at the right time of year is an obvious necessity.  Your success rate will drastically increase once you've got the pattern figured out as it repeats year, after year, after year.

Florida anglers are lucky in the sense that we've got so much food for the fish to chose from, but on the other hand, why would they eat a piece of metal, fur, feather, or plastic on the end of a fishing line when they've got so much food to chose from.  We need to work doubly hard to ensure we're matching the hatch when there is one, as was the case a few weeks ago, and throwing somewhat generic bait patterns when there's nothing special going on.  So do a little research, determine the flavor of the week, and stock your boxes accordingly to maximize your chances of success.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

 

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I Have A Dream........

            Memphis Pyramid

Traveling to different parts of the country on vacation has become part of my families plans over the last number of years and we've tried to make a point of visiting each of the Bass Pro Shops close to the region we're visiting.  A few months ago, we finally got the chance to visit the Memphis Pyramid which now houses one of the largest retail shops I've ever been in that was totally dedicated to a single company.  Totally "Gobsmacked!" as the Brits would say, is the only word I can possibly use to describe the scope and scale of the place.  I didn't think it would strike me so profoundly because I'm an employee of the company, but boy was I mistaken.

I visited the store with my wife and two other couples but we became separated within a few short minutes upon entering the doorway because it seemed that everyone picked a different direction to head.  I spotted one of the many aquariums and had to stop and see the fish, while others wondered off into the clothing, sunglasses, or fishing sections.  I really don't know for sure because I spotted something else of interest the moment I turned from the aquarium glass.  The retail space is amazing, given the amount of equipment but you have to look beyond the items for sale and take in the details of the dioramas, the water features, the freestanding elevator, the Ducks Unlimited Museum, archery and pistol ranges, restaurants, bowling alley, snack shop, Big Cedar Lodge, and much, much more.  My absolute favorite is the waterways seeming to surround the retail space.  They're filled with all manner of fish including paddlefish, sturgeon, alligator gar, stripers, bowfin, catfish, rainbow trout, and a whole bunch more.  It seemed like another new one popped up right when I thought there couldn't be any more.  Awe inspiring is a good way to put it.  And imagine, one guy started the whole thing.  Did Johnny Morris dream of owning a pyramid when he was younger and everything he did to this point was a step towards achieving this goal? 

I know the pyramid wasn't originally designed to house an outdoors equipment mega-retailer but you'd never know that it wasn't built to Johnny's specifications.  The interior has been masterfully camouflaged and decorated to give the impression of being in the wilderness, not a store.  It's difficult to get a true feeling of the scope from any one location and pictures just don't do it justice so just take your time and wander around to your hearts content.  Please remember to breathe and take a time out if you need to.

The Memphis pyramid is an awesome place and I highly recommend that everyone put it on their list of places to visit around the Memphis area.  It's unlikely that I'll get a chance to visit the actual Pyramids of Giza but I'm glad to have been able to spend some time visiting ours in Memphis.  I don't pretend that ours was built by aliens like the ones in Egypt, but in its current rendition, it was surely built by a man with a dream.

P.S. Sorry for the alien joke.  I was watching "Close Encounters Of the Third Kind" while writing this.

 Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Handgun Drills To Improve Shooting Ability

Target with Sig 229 LegionPunching holes in a paper target is a fine way to develop essential shooting skills but what do you do when simply sending rounds down range is becoming a little stale?  I've recently arrived at this question since my family and I shoot as often as we can afford, which ends up being once every two weeks or so, and keeping our shots reasonably well placed out to 15 or twenty yards is pretty simple while under controlled circumstances.  However, our speed on target, during reloads, clearing malfunctions, and any number of other skills could use some refinement and polishing.  So where do we begin?  The internet of course.

I did a search for pistol drills that can be done on indoor ranges because that's where we are most of the time and many obviously don't allow certain practices such as drawing from concealment.  They're looking out for the safety of all their clientele and ensuring that everyone has a good time.  So as a result we need to practice drills that work within their safety regulations.

Here's one drill I came across at – “Wide Open Spaces

1+1 Reload Drill

This drill allows you to do a number of different things. You can practice draw, presentation to the target, slide lock reload and a second presentation with a followup shot. All for the small price of just two rounds per repetition.

Load two magazines with one round each and then load one magazine into your gun. If you can draw, do so. Otherwise start from low ready with the muzzle on the bench in front of you. On your go signal, present the gun to the target and fire one round, reload from slide lock, present again and fire one round.

For a challenge, use a timer for this one and try to push yourself even faster while maintaining control. You are still looking for accurate shots, but also fast shots.

As you can see, we’re trying to hone multiple skills at one time.  Presenting the gun, sight picture, trigger control, reloading, etc.  We need to work on each discipline so they become muscle memory rather than struggling to perform the task in an emergency situation.  There may be a few drills that are more appropriate for the outdoor range but I’m sure they can be made acceptable for the indoor environment with a little tweeking.  Here are a couple more websites with a selection of drills you might like to try.

 

Everything will begin to get easier and faster as the training sessions progress and you’ll be more prepared should the time ever come when you need to defend yourself.  I know I’d rather be modestly prepared rather than totally clueless so let’s all resolve to hit the range more often and make every round downrange a good one, fired with a purpose rather instead of just spraying and praying.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

 

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Life is Fine Sittin On A Swing

 Swining with GrandmaSitting on a porch swing is one of those memories that seems to have stuck with me as I creep ever closer to fifty years on this earth, although I really don't know why.  And I know I spent a bunch of time swinging away on many good ones before I moved away from home and even a few more during my adult life.  Whether it was at my grandparent's house, a neighbor's, or on our own patio, quite a few hours were whiled away simply relaxing and thinking.

A porch swing is a place where you can lose yourself in reflection, solve the troubles of the world, or just daydream about nothing in particular.  Countless hours were spent thinking about how to catch the fish that always seemed to get the better of me, a girlfriend or two, upcoming baseball games, how to build a better fort in the woods, or just trying to figure out what each passing cloud formation looked like.  Time spent on a porch swing is never wasted.

Nowadays though, no one spends time sitting on a swing just thinking about whatever's on their mind at the time.  We hardly ever separate ourselves from electronic gadgets long enough to have an original thought or even just a moment of reflection.  We move too fast, have attention spans comparable to those of a common housefly, and clutter our lives with objects and possessions.  We never stop to wonder why.  The front porch swing used to be the place where people spent their early evenings as they chatted with passers by, caught up with children and spouses after a busy day at work or school, and laid plans for the upcoming days.

My wife and I have rediscovered taking a relaxing swing with our granddaughter especially when she's a bit cranky and can't seem to calm down.  All it takes is a short walk to a local park and a perfectly located wooden swing that would be a welcome addition to anyone's porch or back yard.  She loves the gentle swaying back and forth like the rocking of a ship, and we truly enjoy spending this quiet time with her.  Her eyes soften and the problems of the day seem to disappear like they never existed in the first place.  Her troubled and fussy expression is replaced by a peacefully angelic visage that makes us grateful for being grandparents once again.

There's nothing better than sitting back and letting gravity wash your troubles away.  Find yourself a comfortable swing on a porch, in a backyard, or alongside a babbling stream and lose yourself to the peace and tranquility.  Put down the electronics and enjoy a moment of quiet reflection and get into a more Zen state of mind.  Believe me when I say it works wonders for your blood pressure.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando  

 

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Concealed Carry Means Carrying Concealed

FLORIDA GUN LAW Armed and Educated 2016 EditionI'd read more than a few articles about carrying a concealed firearm long before I chose to obtain a permit and walk out of the house with a handgun strapped to my hip, and have written a few more since then.  They've dealt with everything from gun and caliber choice to dry-fire practice, holster choice, and hitting the range.  Rarely are outdoorsmen at a loss for words or topics since our everyday lives provide plenty of subject matter and all we have to do is drive around the neighborhood to come up with the next blog or newsletter column.

A few weeks ago I was passed on the interstate by a man aboard a motorcycle who had decided the rest of the traffic was too slow for his liking.  Although this isn’t an abnormal occurrence on the roads of central Florida, the pistol sticking out of his waist band caught my attention.  He must have known that his weapon was continually being revealed because he kept trying to pull down his T-shirt tail to cover it, only to have the wind lift it right back up again.  I watched this show repeated three or four times before he got out of sight.  I couldn’t help wonder what caliber the gun was and what the hell was he thinking with his choice of concealing clothing.

Wondering what the law was in this instance, I picked up a copy “Florida Gun Law Armed and Educated” by David S. Katz and James D. Phillips, Jr. to see what the legal eagles said and to read it in simple terms I could understand.  As it turns out accidental or unintentionally revealing your weapon isn’t necessarily illegal in the state of Florida.

  • Florida Statute 790.10 Improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms.—If any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or other weapon shall, in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
  • Florida Statute 790.053 Open carrying of weapons.—(1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.

So to put it in simple terms:  It is currently illegal to openly carry a firearm (with some exceptions like hunting and fishing) but accidentally or briefly displaying said weapon isn’t illegal as long as it was not done in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner.  So what about our motorcyclist that repeatedly displayed his weapon?  I have to believe that he made a terrible choice in cover clothing and should have placed his gun in a backpack, waist pack, or saddlebag while riding from point A to point B.  He was knowingly flashing the weapon and walking a very fine line between legal and illegal.  In my book, he was openly carrying the gun because his attempts to conceal it failed miserably.

The point of all this is to stress the idea that we must choose our clothing and our method of carry so they are appropriate for the seasons, activity level, and the size of our firearm.  Many people have summer or dress wardrobes and weapons that differ from their winter or casual choices and they practice and are proficient with each of them.  I’ve chosen to carry the same gun but I’ll change holsters and cover clothing based on the factors I mentioned.  We tend to buy shirts that are one size larger than I normally wear to adequately cover either an inside the waistband or outside the waistband holster, and I always wear a belt designed to support the weight of a handgun.  My wife carries the same gun but has multiple purses by Coronado Leather which fit different wardrobe choices.

“Open” and/or “concealed” are two distinct routes to the same self-protection goal, and each has laws defining what’s legal and acceptable.  Be sure you know the difference and make every effort to remain on the right side of the law.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

   

 

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Alone In The Wild

inReach SEParents worrying is a fact of life even when their children become older, move out of the house, and go about their daily lives without checking in every once in a while.  It doesn't seem to get any easier even if they're local and can't go without talking to their mother on the phone a couple times each day, since there's always a period when we don't know what's going on.  Now imagine being a mother whose son moved across the country, and then spends hours upon hours exploring unfamiliar and remote waters in search of wild trout, all by himself!  I can assure you that there would be some sleepless nights in my house if this was a regular occurrence.

My Father's Day post had a photo of my father and I before heading out to do some muzzleloading for whitetails and some squirrel shooting in a section of Pennsylvania Game Land 143 which is close to home.  The picture leads you to believe we're having a great time, and we did, right up to the point when I became hopelessly lost and was looking for a place to spend a very cold and lonely night.  The sun eventually peeked through the cloud cover late in the afternoon, allowing me to get my bearings and stumble my way to a road and eventually to the vehicle.  The point is, things could have gone terribly wrong and this moment in my life was very sobering with respect to Pennsylvania forests and wild areas.

Technology has come a long way in my lifetime, considering I saw the unveiling of the Casio Calculator Watch, learned BASIC computer programming in high school on a WANG, and had to navigate using a compass and topographical map (which I didn't have with me that day in the woods).  Nowadays, our phones can do more than most of the machines 15 years into the computer revolution, and we can navigate by handheld GPS Units rather than relying on the sun for directional help.  But what happens if you're lost and you don't have a cell signal, or injured to the point where you can't reach safety on your own.

Personal Locator Beacon or PLB bridge the gap and allow your loved ones to have peace of mind when you hit the woods or the water.  They aren't GPS units in the traditional sense, but rather a communication link using satellites, allowing the user to post updates on their location to social media or to programs like Google Maps. 

Pennsylvania Game Land 143

Some units can send text messages, or best of all, you can hit the SOS button immediately alerting monitors to your emergency and start a process leading to you're eventual rescue or extraction.  ACR, DeLorme, and SPOT are three common brands that are definitely worth a look when heading out to the middle of no-where.  And cost is negligible when you consider the alternative.  Each one has features that may be attractive for one reason or another such as being designed to be used on the water while others are ruggedized and better suited to land events.  Regardless of the unit, you're sure to set everyone's minds at ease when they receive a location update and they'll also know help will quickly be dispatched if you need it.

Being alone in the wilderness is something that many people enjoy but few are truly prepared for some sort of emergency event.  They think their cell phones will be effective enough, and in many cases they will, but there are a lot of gaps in cell phone coverage and I can tell you that those holes happen to be where the most adventurous people want to be.  Campers, hikers, hunters, and fishermen could all benefit from adding a PLB to their pack list along with the GPS, paper maps, compass, First Aid Kit and other survival equipment.  A couple of these items will help you get where you're going, and the others might save your life in an emergency.   

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

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Measuring Up

FEd and Brian Eastmanather's Day is right around the corner and it’s this time of year that I look back at my life and the time I spent with my father before he left this earth.  I reflect on our home life, and the lessons he taught me about how to be a man, the lesson of honesty, honor, commitment, love, hard work, and many, many more important things that make me the person I am today.

 

Last night, I watched one of my absolute favorite movies “Men of Honor” with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr.  The movie, based on a true story is about the military life of Carl Brashear as he worked to become a Navy Diver and ultimately a Master Diver despite being severely injured and eventually having his left leg amputated.  Robert De Niro plays an old salt of a Master Chief who makes it quite tough on Brashear but ultimately becomes one of his biggest supporters.  The underlying theme is Brashear spending most of his life trying to make his father proud by proving that he made something of himself.  A.S.N.F.  – A Son Never Forgets.

 

I can only hope that I’ve lived up to my father’s expectations with regards to work, family and even our outdoor pursuits.  We were always slightly competitive with our fishing or hunting trips so by the end of the day, we’d count fish, rabbits, grouse, or squirrels to see who had the best luck or who was the best shot of the day.  He always won and coming close to his skill level was something we always tried to reach right up to the point when we left home.  Our trips afield grew less and less frequent and now I head out with him on my mind and in my heart, especially when hitting the trout streams because that was one place I never even came close to matching his ability.  Better eyes, more skill, better equipment, greater experience level, more patience, he always seemed to catch more fish than my brother and I ever could.  But I think I’ve finally reached a point where I’d have given him a run for his money.  Forty plus years of experience and the lessons he drilled into us along with all the little things I’ve picked up in his absence have brought me to a point that I think he’d be pleased with.

 

“Buck” wasn’t a man of many words and he wasn’t overly emotional but you could tell he had a passion for his family, especially for his grandchildren, and for unfailingly doing the job he was paid to do.  But even with all that, I don’t think anyone really knew him until they spent a few hours following him around the woods, fields, streams, or lakes of Northwest Pennsylvania.  Even the local wildlife officers came to recognize his truck when it was parked on some lonely and deserted forest road.  They knew he was out there keeping watch and getting some exercise.  Even in the dead of winter you’d find him hanging wood duck boxes along the shore of some isolated beaver dam.  I tried to hang with him over the years but I never would quite match his energy level or stamina.  A lot of ducks owe their existence to him and many outdoorsmen can attribute their continued passion for hunting and fishing to early forays afield with my father.  You’d have gotten the impression that half the hunters and fishermen in the region knew and respected him based on the steady parade of camo and plaid clad men attending the viewing and subsequent funeral.

 

Many years have passed since our days with him and I hope I’ve done a decent job of carrying on in his memory, whether it’s through actions or written words.  Sharing our common passion wasn’t something I ever set out to do, but all the many forks in the road have eventually led to this point.  I guess, like any other man whose father was sometimes bigger than life, I just hope to measure up to his expectations and be half the man he was.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

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Summer Time Is Mosquito Time

Mosquito Florida has its fair share of critters as any visitor knows, and there's one in particular we tend to grow in prehistoric sizes and unbelievable numbers.  You’d swear the air around you is buzzing with electricity when you visit swampy or damp locations anytime around dusk or into the night, but it only takes a few moments to realize that buzzing is anything but friendly.

We’ve got some mammoth mosquitos round these parts and this time of year can be especially troublesome for those of us who spend our time outdoors where they live and breed.  Mosquito Lagoon earned its name the hard way and anyone trying to launch a canoe through the bushes at sunup is quickly going to realize we aren’t kidding around with the blood sucking pestilence.

The recent outbreak of the Zika virus has brought new attention to the problem because of its effects on pregnant women and their unborn children.  The CDC has issued a travel alert related to Zika and recommended that pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to any country where active transmission is ongoing.  Most of the cases of infection have occurred in tropical or sub-tropical countries but there have been a number of them in the United States and we need to get a handle on the issue with summer right around the corner.

Ultrathon SprayFlorida Department of Health recommends travelers take the following steps to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535.  Always use as directed.  Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to the product label. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

 

The Department of Health also recommends taking the following precautions around the house to limit areas where mosquitos can breed unchecked:

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
  • Maintain the water balance (pool chemistry) of swimming pools. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use. Repair broken screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

 

Mosquito borne illnesses aren’t anything to play with especially when unborn children are concerned.  We’ve weathered this type of problem before and researchers are working very hard to come up with solutions, but we should all take steps to protect ourselves.  Follow the steps recommended by the CDC and the Departments of Health so that you and your family will be safer this summer.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando
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"We All Live Downstream" Isn't Just a Catchphrase

We All Live Downstream" is a phrase that we at Bass Pro take very seriously as evidenced by the conservation efforts the company has been part of for a very long, long time.  Our founder realized that we need to take care of our habitats if we expect to have any fish or game to pursue in our future or our children's future.  As the slogan says, "We all live downstream," means that what we do in our neighborhoods can and does have a dramatic affect on the environment well away from the small space we live in.  Rain runoff carries fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants from cities like Orlando to water as far away as Jacksonville via the St. Johns River, or to the Lake Okeechobee and then the Everglades, St. Lucie River, or Caloosahatchee River, via the Kissimmee River Basin.  We're in a unique geographic location that can and does have an impact on environments vast distances from our homes. 
 
Florida is having a great deal of trouble right now and there are a lot of people trying to bring attention to the problems, and force the powers that be to come up with timely and effective solutions.  Whether its the Everglades, Charlotte Harbor, St. Lucie River, Lake Okeechobee, or the Indian River Lagoon, we've got problems related to environmental and man-made issues that have been causing fish kills, algae blooms, and potentially dangerous conditions for people that spend time in the regions water ways.  Here are a few local groups trying to bring attention to the issues.
Save Our Lagoon     No Fill No Kill     Captains for Clean Water 
CCa Florida     Bonefish Tarpon Trust     Take Back Our Water

I encourage everyone to research these organizations and try to do your part.  I know it can be hard when life gets in the way of attending meetings and waterway cleanups but it really will make a difference in Tallahassee and Washington when they see the level of community involvement and concern.  Do it for the future generations if not for yourselves.  Demand that the state and federal governments follow through with their promises and respect the will of the voters (especially with regards to 2014 Amendment 1 and the purchase of conservation land).  Changes won't happen overnight but messing things up didn't happen in the blink of an eye either.

 
Brian "Beastman" Eastman
White River Fly Shop
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Hotdogs, Hamburgers, and Hatch Charts

Hatch ChartMy wife and I are getting ready to take a trip north for a little camping and trout fishing, and a big part of the preparation is picking a location, pouring over maps, and gathering all the equipment.  Not the least of which is all the flies I expect to be needing.  But which ones should I be tying (or buying in some cases)?

We get this question all the time while standing behind the counter and unfortunately for us and the customer, there's no real simple answer?  "What are you fishing for?"  "Where are you going?"  "What time of year?"  We go through a whole list of questions and in the end might not even have the right answer because there are too many variables to consider.  Why is it so complicated in some cases?

The best way I've been able to explain it to anyone is like this.  Imagine you lived inside one square block for your entire life and over that time the only food you saw and consumed were hotdogs in January, hamburgers in February, hotdogs in March, hamburgers in April, and so on.  Would you know and trust that a pizza was edible if one showed up on some random day in September?  Of course not!  It might look interesting but by this time you've developed an instinct that hotdogs and hamburgers are food.  Therefore you might not be willing to trust your life to testing something different.

Well, fish in a small section of river see food in the same manner albeit on a slightly more complicated scale.  They've learned that the bugs inhabiting their world are food, and that those bugs transition through different life stages (nymph, emerger, dun, spinner, spent spinner) at specific times of the year or under certain conditions.  They instinctively know that an olive-colored adult Caddis shouldn't be on the water's surface at the same time as a Sulphur Spinner.  So guess what.  You better get the fly right, or at least in the same ball park if you expect to catch a trout sitting behind that rock in the middle of the Nantahala River.  Add in some small fish, terrestrials, other miscellaneous edible morsels and you've created a pretty complex menu.

Hatch charts like the one pictured are in effect a trout's menu for the year, identifying the bug species and color along with the corresponding fly pattern and size to remove some of the guesswork.  Various websites and books publish these charts to help us pack our boxes and stock our fly tying tables with things that might actually work rather than having to go through years of trial and error experimentation.  They can be an effective "guide" to what fish might be eating at a particular time of year and are indispensable when planning a trip into trout waters.  Saltwater anglers can create similar things but we're only dealing with fish and crustaceans for the most part.  You also have to consider that any fish smaller than the one looking for a meal could be considered food.  Hatch charts can go a long way towards ensuring a successful outing to an area you aren't familiar with.

So, the next time you're heading into a new region, consult with a local fly shop and browse through a few hatch charts before you spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours stocking your fly boxes.  That way you'll be well stocked with whatever's on the menu, whether it's hotdogs, hamburgers, or maybe even pizza.. 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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2016 Fly Fishing Film Tour

2016 Fly Fishing Film TourI can still remember the first film tour I attended and to this day, the screaming runs, the acrobatic leaps, and the near misses are a big reason why my fly angling bucket list continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  The brutish power of the Giant Trevally, the bone crushing strike of a Golden Dorado, and the blistering runs of the challenging Milkfish will be some of the highlights this year and I thought it would be a good idea to let folks know what's coming to the big screen here in town.  Here are the details and I hope to see you there.

2016 Fly Fishing Film Tour - Orlando, FL

Thu · May 12, 2016

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Orlando Science Center

No tickets sold online for this event.

All proceeds from this event will benefit Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.

 Tickets ($12) are available locally in advance at Hell's Bay Boatworks (321)383-8223, and Orlando Outfitters (407)896-8220-.  They are also available at the door on the night of the event for $15. Come early and join us for a pre-event social gathering. Film starts promptly at 7.00 pm. 

 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Sometimes They Get Away & Sometimes They Don't

Large PeacockA recent trip to south Florida re-emphasized the fact that fishing is fishing and catching is another thing entirely, and to actually land the fish we seek, a lot of stars have to align just perfectly.  We may get a world class specimen if we throw in a bit of skill and a healthy dose of luck but more often than not though, we catch a few and we lose a few.

My wife and I were walking around an urban waterway down south and had just crossed a bridge connecting one lake section to another when I spotted a very nice peacock seeking shelter in the shade of the structure.  I gave her the option to throw at it first since she'd never landed a truly gigantic Florida peacock and this one definitely qualified, but she deferred to me and I stepped up to the plate.  That fish tucked back under the bridge so far that it required a leap of faith to put a fly halfway through the span without actually being able to see the target.  I smacked the structure a few times, got halfhearted attacks, and a high number of nothing at all for about 15 minutes, when finally the water exploded as the monster inhaled what now appeared to be a very small fly and light leader.   He crushed that fly like it had offended him in some deep and personal way before heading for the lake's deep corners, but not before leaping clear of the water to give us a look at what was actually on the end of the line.  I stepped back from the water in shock and began shaking with excitement while Theresa exclaimed from a few feet away, "Oh my God, it's gigantic!"  I'd already figured that out and was doing my best to keep up with it as the fish ran and pulled harder than just about anything I'd ever fought before.  Once I felt things were under control, I decided we were going to need a picture, so I started trying to get the camera out of my pocket and from around my neck.  Now we all think multitasking is something we're good at but I can tell you from experience that fighting a fish while contorting and struggling with a camera strap will result in only one thing.  "Ping !"  the line separated and sprung back onto shore as my prize escaped to the watery depths with my fly tucked firmly in his mouth.  I screwed up and counted my fish before they were caught.  It was my fault and no matter how much it hurt, I had to move on.

Peacock ReleaseA day later while fishing a different pond, I had the chance to redeem myself and actually prove that I can land a fish or two, when I worked a large rock submerged in deep water along the shoreline.  I knew there had to be a giant down there because Scott had lost one in the same spot, so I tied on the largest, heaviest, most obnoxious fly I've ever tied.  A few casts later, the line pulled tight as if I'd snagged onto the rock, but that "rock" pulled back when I halfheartedly set the hook into what I thought was an inanimate object.  I didn't see the fish for quite a while as we ran back and forth along the edge trying to win our version of tug-of-war, and my first thought when it finally did come up into view, was "Leave the camera ALONE!"  It was nearly as large as the one I lost yesterday so I didn't want to do anything wrong that might cause another failure of epic proportions, including a precarious run out to the edge of the deep water drop off to prevent him (or her) from rubbing the leader through on the sharp rock ledge.  The giant  eventually came to hand and I was able to dig the camera out for a few quick shots before releasing it back to it's home alongside a giant rock.  Thankfully I'd landed a monster, on a fly tied specifically for the task, while erasing errors made on previous trips.

What's the moral of the story?  Keep casting.  Never stop trying.  Tie on something unusual.  Big flies catch big fish!  Leave the camera alone until the fish is actually landed.  Fish smart and you'll land the fish instead of lamenting mistakes you made along the way.  Finally, sometimes they get away....And sometimes they don't!

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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A Whole Different Kettle Of Fish

Brian"s HybridFishing in Florida can be quite a challenge regardless of how many fish we say inhabit the waters surrounding the state.  Everyone knows they don't have to eat on anyone's schedule other than their own so catching them may not be as simple as finding them.

One challenge I never quite took into account when moving down here was identifying the shear variety of fish in both fresh and saltwater.  There are dozens of species to catch with regularity and hundreds of others you just might luck into at one point or another, and just about every one of them has teeth or stickers that will bite, jab, or otherwise harm you if you don't know how to handle it.  But besides knowing which ones can do you harm, identifying which ones to keep for food purposes can be equally as difficult.

I erroneously identified the fish to the right as a Striped Bass whereas more properly it is a Hybrid Striper or Sunshine Bass (man-engineered Striper/White Bass cross).  A good friend of mine and fish authority corrected my error and gave me a few other tips on how to better identify the difference.  Thankfully, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission knows that it would be a common mistake and therefore sets the size and bag limits accordingly.  And that's the whole point of this article.  We need to know what kind of fish we're catching so that we know and can apply the fishing regulations accordingly.  Not doing so can adversely affect the fish population and possibly your pocket when you get caught.

I once caught a legal size Spanish Mackerel while fishing the beach in Marco Island, which I offered to a couple fishermen I'd seen rigging for sharks on the evening tide.  They graciously accepted the fish but were puzzled by its appearance.  "We caught a Spanish yesterday and used it for bait, but it didn't look like this.  Ours was kind of silvery, had lots of spots, a yellow mouth and a couple nasty fangs on the top and bottom jaw."  These gentlemen had caught, mistakenly identified, and then used for bait, a Spotted Seatrout which has a different size and possession limit than the Spanish I gave them.  We talked about their mistake and I suggested that they take a look at the book on Florida Saltwater Fish Species before using anything else for bait.

But it isn't just the saltwater fish we need to worry about.  The fresh are just as difficult with the original native species and then all the exotics that have invaded the waters over the years.  It can be a real trick if you don't do a little studying before hitting the water.  There are more than a half dozen fish grouped into the "Panfish" family alone, and numerous subspecies of bass to worry about depending on your location. 

All fishermen need to learn their species before hitting the water in order to avoid hefty fines as well as potential injury.  Pinfish earned their name for a reason and knowing the difference between a bluefish and mullet can save a bunch of stitches.  Being able to identify a mutton snapper and a red snapper will help to avoid large hits to your pocket.  Easiest rule of thumb for me has been "If you can't positively identify it, leave it alone and definitely don't keep it."

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Cleaning Up After Range Time

                               Gun Takedown

Spending time at the range is part a big part of our family weekend plans, so guess what needs to be done once all the shooting is over and the last piece of brass has hit the floor.  Cleaning up all those weapons generally falls on my shoulders and even though my wife will take care of her own, I get the rest.  An AR, two pistols, and one revolver can take a bit of time and a good amount of cleaning materials but it has to be done if we want the guns to perform every time we pull the trigger. 

Being a little obsessive compulsive can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to cleaning guns but everyone reaches a point during the job when they have to say enough is enough.  My father kept his hunting guns spotless when they were put away in the cabinet and I've tried to live up to his expectations after all these years.  Even today, all of our guns get a thorough cleaning ever time they hit the range or the field and get a complete wipe down after being handled.

Watch any military film that includes scenes from Marine Corps or Army boot camp and you'll surely see drill instructors reinforcing (in not so friendly terms) the need for keeping the recruit's weapon spotless, and it's not just idle talk intended to degrade a young person's family lineage.  It could ultimately be a matter of life and death for that young soldier or Marine during a time of intense battle because dirty weapons are more prone to failure than those that have been faithfully maintained. It's no less important for those of us that carry on a daily basis for personal protection or folks that have firearms for home protection.  Here are a couple more reasons for keeping your favorite firearm clean:

  • Clean and properly lubricated weapons function efficiently and as designed.  Conversely, dirty and/or dry working mechanisms slow down and work harder because of added friction.  Firearm springs and other mechanical parts are designed to work within a certain set of tolerances, sometimes with very little room for error, so excessive dirt or grime may cause malfunctions like failures to extract, eject, go into battery, or even worse.  
  • Well cleaned and preserved weapons endure harsh environmental conditions better.  Extreme cold, heat, or humidity can cause dirty mechanisms to become gummy and sticky which could potentially cause them to lock up.
  • Clean and properly lubricated weapons maintain their appearance better and hold more resale value.  Human finger prints and perspiration can cause unprotected steel to rust with exceptional speed, marring the visual appearance and decreasing the guns value.
  • It's easier to spot broken or damaged parts when the gun and its mechanisms are clean and clear of carbon, lead, brass, or copper deposits.

​So, as you can see, there are multiple reasons why you should include a cleaning kit, solvent, lubricants, and rags to your range bag or bugout bag along with your favorite firearm.  Every gun manufacturer has it's own "Best Practices" and you should follow them to the greatest extent possible but you'll soon find out that they're all about the same.  A clean gun will function properly for many years to come and you shouldn't have to worry about preventable malfunctions.

Get out there and shoot as much as possible and enjoy yourself.  Just be sure to take care of your investment once you get home, and remember that a clean gun is a gun that will perform when you need it whether in a defensive situation or I the field.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

 

 

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How Far Is Far Enough

One of the most common concerns of new and slightly seasoned fly fishers is their inability to cast a line "far enough" to catch fish or they just don't feel they cast well enough to keep from embarrassing themselves while on the water with buddies.  We act as cheerleaders and coaches letting them know that distance is truly relative and it's not really about how far you throw but how well you can hit your target and what you do with the fly once it gets there.  Most folks nod in understanding while we're in the shop but then stare at us like we're Martians when we drop a 90 or 100 foot cast out on the grass.  "But you just said I don't need to cast that far," is the typical response when they see someone bomb out a cast like that.  We've got some explaining to do right about then.

Let's start by saying potential casting distance is influenced by a number of factors including:

  • Angler ability.
  • Rod design.
  • Line type, design, age.
  • Environmental conditions.
  • Fly type, design, size

But in the end we just want to know how far is far enough.  Well, as a general rule I think most successful open-water (as opposed to stream and brook) fly anglers will agree that they hook most of their fish between 50 and 65 feet away, which means that just about anybody capable of casting a minimum of 35 feet can catch fish and everything beyond that distance will just increase their chances.  Why a minimum of 35?  That's because most modern fly rods, take a 9' 8 weight for example, are designed to load and unload efficiently with the first thirty to thirty five feet of a matched weight fly line outside the rod tip.  The lines weight that makes the cast possible is distributed across the first 30 or so feet making casts of less than 30 feet a bit difficult (because the weight isn't enough to effectively load the rod), while casts from 35 to 65 or so feet  become a piece of cake.  Short and special purpose fly rods load differently and it's up to the angler to figure out what type of line will work best it's effective range is.

When blind casting to cover a lot of water I'll cast to 65 or 70 feet, strip in to the 35 or 40 foot mark, pickup and cast again, that way I'm using the weighted portion of the line to my greatest advantage and not wasting time.  If casting to a fish, I think we'd all agree that getting as close as possible without spooking it is the key, then the casting distance can be minimized and accuracy increased.  Most fish on the flats will strike a fly within the first few seconds of sensing its presence so it really isn't necessary to strip the fly across 25 feet of unproductive water just to have the fish inhale it when it's within two or three feet.  So getting within 45 or 50 feet of the target puts it smack-dab in the middle of our effective range.  Practice to the point where you can reliably pickup the line's head and within one or two false casting cycles, return the fly to the strike zone at your maximum effective distance.  PERFECT!!! 

So why do fly guys talk about casting 90, 100, 110 feet?  Because it feels good to be able to lay out a giant cast that lays out perfectly straight and on target.  And also because practicing casts beyond traditional fishing distances will ensure that making a money shot to 65 or 70 feet will be a piece of cake.  It looks great in a photograph or a movie but it isn't practical or necessary to cast further in the vast majority of real-life fly fishing situations.  Trout anglers may never need to reach very far at all but you can bet your last dollar that they need to be accurate, have great line control, and be able to perform a wide range of casting styles in order to put the fly on the water and not in the trees.

I guess the lesson to be learned at this point is that distance is relative.  Practice to reach distances slightly beyond your normal fishing range, and fish at ranges where you can maintain good accuracy and control.  If that's 40 feet...So be it.  Keep practicing and eventually it will increase to 50, 60, or even 70 feet.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

  

 

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Optics For Your MSR

MSR with SPARC III knew I'd need to get some type of optic for my new AR-15 MSR right after shooting it for the first time.  It wasn't that the rifle wasn't accurate enough without putting something on it, but rather I wasn't accurate enough.  I couldn't see the target or the sights in fine enough detail to allow any kind of precision shooting that I'd become used to with bolt-action rifles and Leupold scopes.  But what optic should I put on it?  Reticle scope, reflex, prism, or telescopic red dot?  Did I want something military grade or would I have to settle for something a little less expensive?  It's would be a tough choice for anyone, especially for a guy who has a hard time choosing.

I was looking for a sight that could do double duty as a hunting optic as well as home defense, but those are normally two entirely different pieces of equipment with unique performance characteristics.  Hunting sights might be adjustable for up close or long-range work, while home defense sights are normally fixed power because the ranges are limited.  Hunting weapons require repeatable sub-MOA precision from steady rests (for the most part) but defensive weapons require fast target acquisition from sometimes unusual positions.  So what sight will do both those jobs?

I ultimately chose the SPARC II by Vortex and I couldn't be happier with the results.  Mounting and sighting in (bore sighting, then zeroing at the range) was very quick and took way fewer shots than I expected.  And now, after having put about 500 rounds downrange while looking through the sight, I believe it's ready for just about anything I throw at it including defending the house or a impromptu hunting trip.  Unlimited eye relief allows the sight to be mounted anywhere on the upper's picatinny rail, and zero parallax error provides reliable sighting even when the shooter isn't sighting directly down the center of the scope.  The 2MOA red dot is small enough to allow precision work at reasonable distances but is still large enough to pickup quickly when speed matters.  The dot's intensity is adjustable over a wide range of settings to ensure good visibility in low light or on the brightest days.  Numerous mounting options allow for co-witnessing iron sights or low-profile mounting in a more traditional hunting configuration.  All caps have retention cables and flip-up covers are included.  What more could you ask for?

I don't expect to be picking off prairie dogs at 300 yards but using the rifle for wild hogs here in Florida is a distinct possibility.  Hitting my target shouldn't be too much of an issue as long as I don't have too much coffee in the morning.  The SPARC II has proven to be a nice piece of equipment that should give me years of shooting enjoyment as well as come through in clutch situations.  Check them out if you're looking for an affordable high quality scope with great features and an impeccable warranty program.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

     

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Niagara in Winter

Winter NiagaraNiagara Falls is one of the great wonders of the natural world which thankfully you don't need to spend a fortune to experience, but who in their right mind would go there in the dead of winter when the outside air temperature (without wind chill) is hovering below ten degrees?  Well as Doc Holiday (played by Val Kilmer in "Tombstone") would say, "I'm your huckleberry."

No one ever said common sense ruled when on family vacations, which is why we just had to make the drive to see the falls when most other tourists are keeping warm and toasty in the casinos.  But let me tell you that it was worth the price to get some beautiful pictures and to share the day with family.  The falls are spectacular regardless of the season, and maybe even a little more so in the winter because of the freezing mist that covers every surface in a glistening layer of ice that defies the suns warming rays.  The power of water and ice is obvious when you see the millions of gallons pouring over the fall's rim and then the growing layers of ice formed by the mist settling everywhere.  It's likely that the state park would be closed for the winter if not for the generous use of rock salt to keep the sidewalks and observation deck clear.

Niagara Falls itself is actually three different falls (Horseshoe, American, Bridal Veil) that form a natural stairway between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, with the United States on one side and Canada on the other.  You can view the falls from either country if you remember to bring along your passport, which we unfortunately did not.  It had never really occurred to me until this last visit that all the water in the Great Lakes eventually reaches the ocean at Quebec City, resembling a large river rather than a series of independent lakes.  All the water contained in the lakes west of Niagara (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie) eventually passes over the falls on its journey east into Lake Ontario and ultimately to the North Atlantic.  That single fact alone is mind boggling to a simple person like me.

Here are a couple more interesting facts from the Niagara Falls State Park's website :

  • 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second. This accounts for 75,750 gallons of water per second over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 681,750 gallons per second over the Horseshoe Falls.
  • Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.A., established in 1885 as the Niagara Reservation, the first of several such reservations that eventually became the cornerstones to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
  • The Niagara River Gorge is home to 14 species of rare plants, some threatened and endangered. 
  • In 1901, 140 of the 170 trees native to western New York were found growing on Goat Island.
  • Niagara Falls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada.

Frozen ViewerNiagara Falls is a great place to visit no matter what the season with a whole lot more to see and do than I can possible mention in a short blog.  Thousands of honeymooning newlyweds have visited the region to celebrate their union, while millions of visitors from around the world gaze in wonderment at one of God's greatest creations.  I'm glad that my children have finally been able to visit the falls and I hope to be able to visit again sometime in the future.  Maybe when my grandchildren are old enough to enjoy the sights and sounds of this wonderful natural formation.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando  

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It's Never Too Late

Toboggan RunLife has so many things to experience that it would be totally impossible to get to all of them but there are a huge number that are so simple and easily accessible folks over look them until later in life.  My twenty something year old daughters finally got to try something that they missed out on when we lived in the great frozen north of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Tobogganing is one of those things that people in the north take for granted and their neighbors to the south think they're crazy for wanting to go outside to freeze their backsides off just to get a face-full of snow.  But there's no way to fully explain the exhilaration of racing down a hillside in the dark with little or no control, all while getting blasted in the face with fresh white powder that steals your breath away, leaving you gasping and laughing uproariously at the bottom of the run.  It's hard to believe that sharing a frozen moment of hilarity can strengthen bonds between family members and create memories sure to last a lifetime.

We recently crossed this off the list on a frozen evening following a day of steady snowfall while on family vacation, which is a story to itself with six adults and an infant making the journey. Everyone loaded into the vehicles and drove a few miles to a local park with a pretty good hill covered with newly deposited powder.  Tayler and Brittany were the first to make the run and you would have thought something was horribly wrong due to the screams of terror coming from the billowing white comet plummeting down the hill.  But the joyous laughter coming from the bottom reassured everyone that both girls had survived and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  One, 30 second run down a dark and snow-covered hill was worth the price of flights, rental cars, hotels, food, and everything else.

It's such a simple thing and it's hard to believe it took this many years to enjoy.  The screams, laughter, and smiles will live forever in our memories reminding us that it isn't all about the things we amass during our lives, but rather about the things we do during our lives.  My girls won't forget that night and neither will I and their mother.

Step out of the box and make some memories.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

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Shad Season 2016

January, February, and March in central Florida means Shad for an ever increasing number of anglers that discover the wonderful fun than can be reached a short distance from their doorsteps.  But fish being fish will dash the hopes of even the best organized and practiced angler, therefore increasing the intense desire to return for another try year after year after year.

Shad fishing can be one of those things that will test your patience because you just have believe the fish are there and one will eventually find the fly.  I don't think I have ever blindly casted for a fish more than for shad, which requires a great deal of faith on my part considering that I'm a sight fisherman at heart.  Thankfully though, shad like to travel certain corridors and hold in particular locations so we can eliminate 90 percent of the water and concentrate on the remaining ten.  They tend to run in deeper channels and stack up in holes that can be up to 30 feet in depth, making the presentation tough at times but the rewards well worth it.  Steelheaders will appreciate the method of presenting quartering downstream, allowing the fly to sink and swing with the current until it's parallel to the shore, then working slowly upstream for a bit. "Swingers" from out west and the great lakes should love fishing for shad in the traditional manner.  Sometimes we do get lucky and have a phenomenal topwater bite but I can count those days on one hand if I'm to be realistic.  Enjoy it if it happens but don't plan on it.  You might want to check out "Wade Fly Fishing The Upper St. Johns River Basin(Florida) For American Shad" If you'd like to read about some of the locations and tactics before throwing caution to the wind and venturing forth.

Shad season is about more than chasing a fish some might call mythical because they've only seen them in photographs.  We look forward to seeing friends on the water, taking pictures of the wildlife, getting some exercise, and maybe catch a few fish in the process.  I love viewing all the different birds visiting the region during winter, including the American White Pelicans and the Caracara.  Both are indicators that shad season is here and it's time to hit the water. 

This season has only just begun and the conditions are near perfect right now so pack up and hit the river somewhere along "Shad Alley" (not too early since the bite may not really get going until late morning or early afternoon) with a few friends in boats, kayaks, or maybe even walking the shore.  Bring along some small bright flies along with your favorite five or six weight, or some shad darts and small Rat-L-Traps for the light action spinning rods. Throw them close to the deep drop offs, channels, creek mouths, or anyplace that looks fishy and you never know what you might hook into.  Crappie, sunshine bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, mudfish, and maybe even a shad or two might join the party.  It only takes a little of your time and a bit of effort to have a wonderful time.  Good luck.

 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

    

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Getting New Furniture

New FurnitureI'm sure many spouses are going to perk up when they see the title of this entry but unfortunately I'm not talking about a new dining room set, bedroom suite, or living room couch.  I'm talking about things you can change to make your favorite MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) a bit more personal and hopefully a bit more effective.  Furniture in this case is referring to stocks, grips, and rails or handguards that may make your rifle more comfortable to shoot, accept a wide range of accessory mounts, and potentially make it more accurate and effective.

Readers will know that I recently entered the MSR market with the purchase of a Ruger AR-556 rifle.  It's proven to be a sound platform with all the features you would expect from an entry level rifle.  It handles well, is plenty accurate, and has fired with every pull of the trigger, but I wanted to make some improvements to the way it fits into my shoulder, improve the cheek weld, and improve the grip a little.  Thankfully there are plenty of options out there with one company in particular, making enough options to keep me busy for quite a while as I poured over their website trying to decide which pieces I wanted.

Magpul Industries has pretty humble beginnings according to the website, "Magpul was founded in 1999 with the intent of developing a simple device to aid in the manipulation of rifle magazines while reloading under stress. The company’s name comes from this original product called the Magpul®. Over the last decade Magpul has continued to grow and develop using much the same mission and process with a focus on innovation, simplicity, and efficiency."   And you'll be doing the forehead slap for "Why didn't I think of that?" once you take a look at their product line.

I chose to go with the STR Carbine Stock for my AR along with the MIAD Gen 1.1 Grip, and I couldn't be happier.  The STR stock dropped right in place giving me a better meld with the stock when mounting the gun and it has handy compartments for spare batteries and a QD sling mount to make carrying more comfortable.  The MIAD grip swapped into position as well (No, I didn't lose the safety detent spring) and its variable configuration ensures that you can fit just about any hand size while the convenient storage compartment can carry a whole host of "Need to have" items.  These components should enhance the rifles feel as well as its performance quite well.

MIAD GripOf course there are a number of other manufacturers and products out there, and they all make quality products so you need to do a bit of research to find just the right one for your needs.  It's amazing how much a little change can so greatly improve a rifle.  Next on the list is a free-floating KeyMod rail system that will accept any number of attachments and accessories.  I've been searching to find the right deal on the website AR15.com but haven't come up with the right combination of price and value yet.  I'll let you know when I do.

For now I'll just have to be happy with the upgrades I've already made because I'm sure Mrs. Beastman is about to go shopping for some real furniture to replace the items we've had forever and a day.  My stuff is way cheaper though and it's a lot more effective at fighting off the coming zombie apocalypse.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando   

 

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