2013 Daytona 500

2013 Daytona 500 LogoJust another week or so and the first race of the 2013 NASCAR season will be underway and I'll be sitting in front of the big screen with the surround sound pumping so loud the neighbors will think the track has been relocated to their neighborhood.  Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be there in person, I may as well bring the experience home as much as possible.  Does anyone know where I can find burnt-rubber scented incense?

Residents of central Florida are lucky enough to be within a stone’s throw of one of the premier tracks on the circuit and we get two chances a year to experience high-bank, superspeedway racing as it was meant to be.  Earsplitting noise (both from the cars and the crowds), the overwhelming smell of exhaust blended with rubber, funnel cakes, hamburgers ( and don’t forget the turkey legs), and vivid colors screaming past in a three second kaleidoscopic blur; all create a sensory overload everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.  Nothing can compare and watching it on TV can’t even begin to give a true sense of things.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience half a dozen races as either a fan in the stands or as a vendor dispensing hamburgers and hotdogs to the hungry masses, and regardless of how I got there, watching the race in person has been some of the best experiences of my life.  I really didn't follow NASCAR until after that first visit to the race all those years ago but after that trip to the track, I realized it isn't just for gearheads and wannabe drivers.  It's about the drama, the speed, the pageantry of the event itself.  There's nothing like being there for the invocation, the National Anthem, the flyover, and the command to start engines.  The next few hours will be like no other experince you've ever had if you're lucky enough to make it to a race.

I sure hope some of you folks get over to Daytona for the race where you can cheer on your favorite driver or just take in the experience.  Either way, I'm sure you'll have the time of your life. 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

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Where Do You Fly Fish In Florida?

LargemouthI would venture to guess that one of the most common questions we get in the fly shop (besides “Do you know where the bathroom is?”) is “Where do you fly fish in Florida?”  Both are fairly easy questions to answer but sometimes it’s hard not to act a little surprised at the second one.  My standard answer to the fishing question may seem overly simplistic to some but there really is a very straight forward answer.  “Everywhere you find water.”

I’ve found after living in this state for close to 17 years that almost every body of water, whether fresh or salt, has some kind of fish in it worth pursuing.  Every drainage ditch, retention pond, canal, lake, spring, bay, and bayou is fishable in some way or form.  It’s almost harder to figure out where to go because of the variety and huge number of choices, than it is to figure out what to chase.  You really can’t go wrong regardless of your choice.

But how do you get to know about what's available?  I'd start out with a book that was one of the best gifts I've ever received.  “Fishing Florida” has more information in it that any one person will ever learn on their own with a lifetime of fishing experiences.  There are maps with references to what fish are available, boat ramps, state parks, etc…  Just about everything a budding angler might need to find his/her way to productive fishing.  I highly suggest it and yes we sell it if you can't find a copy.

Fishing FloridaOnce you get a feel for what’s available and what type of patterns the fish follow from year to year, it will become a fairly simple matter to transfer that knowledge from one spot to the next.  I’m sure you’ll find, like I have, that every pond that holds water for more than a few months out of the year has the potential to produce some serious fish.  Even that roadside canal you pass on the way to work might hold the key to a peaceful afternoon spent catching fish.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Keeping Track

JournalScott and I got into a discussion a few days ago about whether or not the moon phases, weather patterns, barometric pressure, sunlight quality, and any number of other factors really affect the fishing.  Eventually we came to the agreement that these factors must affect the fishing somehow but since we only get to fish every once in a while it doesn't really figure into things much....We're still going going fishing even if the barometric pressure is dropping and the sky is crystal clear.  I have a fishing buddy with an IGFA World Record who swears that moon location in the sky has a great influence on his fishing success and his journals and records are all the proof he needs.

Our converations reminded me of the journal I used to keep when I was younger and had way more time to hit the field in search of rabbits, grouse, pheasant, woodcock, deer.....  You get the picture?  I made it a point to write a little bit after each trip to the woods or stream.  None of my notes were too specific about the weather or the conditions but rather who I went with, where, and whether or not we had any success.  I also tried to stash any little artifacts that might help me to remember what happend on that day.  The grouse feather shown in the picture is from the first one I ever killed.  The date?  October 20th, 1984.  Seems like such a long time ago, but when I read my notes it seems like just yesterday.

That may very well be the purpose of a journal.  To remind us of a moment in time when something happened, or didn't happen for that matter.  There should be plenty of pages filled with musings about nothing much but when taken into context with the rest of the entries, they build a story of our time doing something we love.

Fishpond Journal

Fishpond makes a very nice jounal for keeping track of your time afield and if your children would start early enough, they would have something to give their children.  Hunting and fishing are more than just hobbies....  They are ways of life that we need to memorialize so that younger generations don't forget how things used to be, and how they could be again if people care.

I hope to pass along my writings to my children and their children so they can understand how I came to love the outdoors so much, and why I can't imagine not being able to step into the wood in search of rabbits, grouse, deer, squirrels, and all the rest.

Keep a journal and maybe it will help keep your memories fresh and quite possibly help with your success rate.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

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Shad Season 2013

American ShadShad season has started with a bang here in central Florida and from the sound of the reports coming in right now, we could be looking forward to one of the best years in recent memory.  I can't believe it might possibly top last year but you never know what's going to happen when dealing with unpredictable fish migrations, water levels, and strange weather patterns.  All of these factors have produced an earlier than normal run with goof numbers, acceptable river conditions, and pleasant temperatures.

American Shad are a migratory fish that returns to their birthplace to spawn, then die just like salmon do in northern regions.  The Saint Johns River starts its life in south central Florida, somewhere around Lake Hell N Blazes and continues on to the point where it enters the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville.  This is how the shad enter the river for the last time in preperation for the spawning.  We fishermen get the priviledge of pursuing this historic species once they have traveled upstream past Lake Monroe in Seminole county.

So far his year has been pretty good for myself and my fellow shad chasers, with quality fish available in numbers that rival the past couple seasons.  You just have to know where to look and what tactics to employ.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission survey takers (shocking surveys) have found fish throughout "Shad Alley" and all the way south to Rt 50 in Midway.  I have only fished at Mullet Lake and the entrance to the Little Econ, and both of these locations have produced well, but what has suprised me is the size differential between fish at either place.  The southern spot seemed to produce larger fish.  Either way though, we're having fun.

Rat-L-TrapFish are hitting the typical flies and lures but a small silver Rat-L-Trap is one I had never tried that has been working really well for me.  I found this year that trolling one of these superb lipless diving baits will catch just about anything that chases minnows.  Shad, bass, catfish, crappie,  and bluegill have all taken some of the finish off my new favorite hard bait.  What started out chrome colored is now a nicely scratched and beated bone color.  Chuck it and reel it!

I hope you all get the point and head for the water some time over the next month or so.  You just don't know what your next obsession might be.

Good Luck!

Sincerely,

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

Whte River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

 

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Effective Hearing Protection

Over the past couple of years, my family and I have spent a lot of time at a local shooting range to sharpen our skills and increase our familiarity with the pistols we carry for personal protection.  As a result, we've used  variety of hearing protection methods with widely ranging success levels.  Some worked pretty darn well and othes provided marginal protection even for my already damaged ears.  My hearing has gotten worse after spending eight years in the Navy working on aircraft even though I wore hearing protection as part of my daily routine.  I now live with a constant ringing and I have to endure my wife telling me that I never listen to her when in reality I just didn't hear or understand what she was saying.  "What did you say?"   

Caldwell G3Today there are more choices in hearing protection that ever before, beginning with the simple foam earplugs, to the molded inserts, on up to the electronic ear muffs like the Caldwell Platinum G3 shown to the left.  I just got a pair of these for Christmas and I've found them to be one of the coolest pieces of protective gear I've ever owned.

The idea is that they amplify normal sounds like a conversation but block out higher decible noises like gunshots.  It's very strange to be standing in a range amid a cacophony of gunfire while carrying on a normal coversation.  The sound of spent brass tinkling on the concrete floor is strangely amplified compared to the explosions happening around you. 

Regardless of the method you choose, it only works if you make it part of your normal routine.  Hearing loss is a preventable condition if we would just take responsibility and think in the long term.

 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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2013 Tournament Season Kicks Off With Crappie Masters!

crappie masters

 

Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters kicks off the 2013 tournament season with the Florida State Championship.  The tournament will consist of a two -day national qualifier on Harris Chain of Lakes in Tavares, Fl., and a one day national qualifier on Lake Monroe-Jesup-St Johns River in Sanford, Fl.   Sponsored by the City of Tavares, Lake County Tourism and Bass Pro Shops Orlando, the Tavares tournament will be on Jan 25 & 26, 2012. Sponsored by the City of Sanford, Seminole County Tourism and Bass Pro Shops Orlando, the Lake Monroe tournament will be on February 2, 2013.  Anglers may fish one of both tournaments.  The combined points accumulated from both tournaments will determine the 2013 Florida State Champion.

Harris Chain of Lakes will kick off with a media fish off on Jan 24th from 7 AM to 11 AM followed by the late registration and rules seminar.   Voucher pick up and late registration is at 5 PM with the seminar beginning at 6:30 PM at the Tavares Civic Center, 100 E. Caroline Street.  Anglers will receive a food voucher for local restaurants compliments of the Tavares Tourism.  Fishing hours on Jan 25 & 26 will be from 7 AM to 3:30 PM.  Anglers must be in the weigh in line by 4:30 PM on both days.  The weigh location is Wooton Park in downtown Tavares.   A free kids fishing rodeo will be held on Jan. 26 at Wooton Park.  Registration will be from 8-9 AM with fishing from 9-11 AM.  Sponsored by Bass Pro Shops Orlando and the City of Tavares all kids will receive a prize from sponsors.

Lake Monroe-St Johns River will be a one day national qualifier, as well as the final leg of the Florida State Championship on Feb. 2, 2013.  Late registration and the rules seminar will be held on Feb. 1 at the Sanford Civic Center, 401 East Seminole Boulevard  Sanford, FL.   Anglers will fish from 7 AM to 3:30 PM on Feb. 2 and must be in line by 4:30 PM.  A free kids rodeo will be held on Feb. 2, 2013 at Ft. Melon Park.  Registration is from 8-9 AM with fishing from 9-11 AM.  Sponsored by Bass Pro Shops Orlando and the Sanford Chamber of Commerce.  Kids should bring their poles and bait.

Pictured Below is our very own Pro Staffers Don and Toni Collins who were recipients of the 2010 Crappie Masters Sportsman of the Year. They were also announced as 2010 Crappie Masters Angler Team of the Year.

 

 don and toni

 

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We Salute You.

A Great American and Military Hero has passed away. It’s hard to believe how many lives Gen H Norman Schwarzkopf has touched in his time spent here on earth. He is a legend who loved his country, our freedoms and his family & friends. For a very short moment in time, I and a few of our Managers & Associates were able to meet and converse with this wonderful man.

Our adventure began as we had decided to support and attended a sporting clay fundraiser in Lakeland. The event was being held to raise money for the Children’s Home Foundation located in Tampa, for which General Schwarzkopf was The Honorary Chairman. When I explained that the General would be attending, I had no problem securing shooters for our teams.


pic 2

Upon arriving at the event, we suddenly became engulfed by a large mass of participants, spectators, vendors and volunteers, embracing our great shooting sports heritage. As we completed our registration, received all our goody bags and shooting instructions, there was still one goal we had not yet accomplished. Find The General. We ventured around the grounds passing several tents, vendors, concessions and buildings, when suddenly, we were stopped in our tracks by one uniquely decorated and patriotic looking golf cart. Fully decked out in red, white and blue banners & accessories, we had hit the jack pot. Now, we wait. As time seemed to stand still and our conversation ceased, the General suddenly appeared. He was dressed from head to toe in his green colored coordinated shooting apparel & gear. It was quite obvious that he was here to have fun, raise some money, shoot some clays, and be competitive. He was ready!pic 1

It was remarkable. Humbled, awed and inspired, we gazed upon this gentle giant as we tried to imagine what this man has seen and experienced in his lifetime. A mutual friend and the Event Director Bill Arthur, stepped forward and graciously introduced us to him. Upon completing our handshakes and exchanging some small talk, the General mounted his patriotic golf chariot and headed out to seize the day. The General methodically maneuvered the shooting course stopping numerous times to bust some clays. And along the way, he took time in his travels to mingle amongst the masses, taking hundred’s of photos and signing autographs for all.

Once the event was completed, the crowd methodically assembled for the food distribution and awards ceremony. We were treated to a sensational picnic style luncheon with all the fixins’. As some final announcements were made from the stage area, it was now time for our host Bill Arthur to introduce The Honorary Event Chairman, Gen H Norman Schwarzkopf. The crowd exploded with a long and resounding ovation. Everyone in attendance was standing tall and applauding this Great American. Incredible, Joyous, Amazing!! He spoke to all us and thanked everyone for supporting the Children’s Home event. Little did we know, as we embraced this moment with him, that his health was failing and that this would be his final speech to all of us.

As the event came to a close, General Schwarzkopf was extremely gracious to take some group pictures and sign some autographs with our Bass Pro Shops Orlando Shooting Team. We laughed and joked with him for just a few brief moments in time, that all of us will never forget. Earlier, we had presented the General with a Limited Edition Browning Knife. A small token for his support & achievements. He thanked us with a smile of appreciation that was so warm & genuine. The following year the General did attend Children’s Home event, but was heavily escorted by his wife and daughter Cindy. The patriotic golf cart was not to be found. What became apparent to all of us was, as the seasons of the year change, something else had now changed. We knew that the health of this great man was slowly fading with time.

gen norman

Many of our younger generations will never know, understand or appreciate the accomplishments, or the precious moments that we spent with this great man. As the sun will rise and set again each day, let us be proud to acknowledge that we live in a country that is free because of our Military and Great Americans like Gen H Norman Schwarzkopf. Today we celebrate the life and accomplishments of this Military Leader & Hero, Husband, Father & Friend. God bless his soul and may he rest in peace. Amen.

 

By Greg Finenco

Bass Pro Shops Orlando

 

 

 

 

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Cold Water Bass Tactics

 

Should we fish Fall or Winter patterns next?todd pic 1

Most Florida Anglers would agree our bass fishing is not conventional like the rest of the Country. Florida doesn’t have color change or much of a fall turnover of the lakes. With the ever changing weather patterns our fishing seamlessly transitions from summer to winter for most Anglers. One noticeable change in Central Florida lakes is the movement of bait. The cooler water temperatures will move the shad and shiners to the shallower water, when this happen it could be considered our short Fall season which seamlessly shifted entirely to a winter fishing pattern.

Winter fishing can be certainly the most challenging, but at the same time by far the most rewarding fishing of the year. Bass feed more during the cooler months, the cold weather slows down their metabolism and their active feeding levels lead to them to adding on weight. In Florida we do not see the consistent day after day cold weather like the rest of the United States; it is the warm days that make winter fishing in Florida so, so good.pic 2

Understandings of the transitions of fishing seasons are critical. As water temperatures drop to the low 50's head for the deeper lakes for great success. In the Central Florida area the Butler Chain, Conway Chain, John's lake are some of the best, but any lake with depths of 20 feet will work. The bass will drop off into the deep water, not only for warmer water but mainly to follow the food. The bait are more sensitive to the weather change then bass,  the shad and other bait will move into the deeper water to seek the correct water temperatures and in doing so they will school into large pods (groups). This defensive move is to protect the masses, knowing that these baitfish  will sacrifice many as they will be ambushed in the open water. The way to catch these bass are to concentrate on the schools of bait and this is done best with Jiggin spoons, lipless crankbaits or swimbaits worked along the drops in 15 to 20 feet of water. A couple of main ingredients to this style of fishing are locating the bait, matching the lure size and choosing the correct color. The most important component is your speed and death control of your lure retrieve…this will yield you the best quality and quantity of bass.

During the warmer days following a cool front; the first and second day after the weather passes are the most difficult. The offshore bass we discussed above will transition shallower with the schools of bait; this is when you may notice the bass chasing bait to the surface or what most refer to as “bass schooling the surface.” Again, locate the bait first or this could end up as only a nice boat ride.pic 3

When fishing for bass in the shallower lakes of Central Florida, like retention ponds, community lakes, City parks and even on bigger lakes like East & West Lake Toho with an average depth of less than 10 feet the pattern changes. The cooling and warming cycles of more than 15 degrees in water temperatures will cause the bass to transition to shallow water looking for spawning grounds. The magic water temperature is generally in the low 60's, once bass move shallow to spawning grounds they seldom move all the way back to the deep water. But, as cold fronts come and go they will move back to the first break in depth change.

What’s critical to know when fishing for these bass and picking baits?The biggest difference is that they change their diet. During these early months what some may call Fall fishing the bass are focused on shad. The cooler water brings the Florida wild shiner in shallow, making it the new food of choice. With this major change it is important for the angler to change as well. Shiners are faster than shad, so a faster retrieve will work. Shiners are bigger and shaped different then shad so use bigger and longer baits to imitate them. Lastly the colors are different; use more natural colors with a tint of gold, brown, green or tan versus chrome and shiny colors like a shad.

Swimbaits, Spinnerbaits and Swim Jigs are some of the most productive for big fish, anything that looks like a shiner works well. The bass that are in real shallow will look for thick mats of grass and cover that will collect heat from the bright sun. Flipping, pitching or casting around these grass mats with a big baits, like Craws & Creature baits or heavy jigs will be your best bet for a great day of cold water bassn'.

Another thing to remember that is different from the rest of the United States, Florida bass DO NOT all spawn at the same time. Bass will spawn as early as December and will continue spawning every month that the water temperature is in the mid 60's thru as late as June. Take this in to consideration as you venture out.

After your plan comes together and you execute be sure to get rewarded by entering in the new “Trophy Catch” program for a reward and recognition of your catch!

See you on the water!

For more information on Capt. John Leech & Capt. Todd Kersey check out www.bassonline.com!

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Christmas Gift Tradition

Knife CollectionChristmas is almost here and I already know one of the gifts that will be under my tree this year and it’s one that I’ve looked forward to since my first year with my wife.  Every Christmas since the very beginning I’ve found a small box from my father in-law wrapped carefully and buried under the rest of the kid’s gifts so that I don’t get the chance to grab it first and then play with it for the rest of the evening.  No it’s not a new Matchbox car or Tonka Toy (although I might enjoy one of them as well)….  It’s a new knife.  Just what every guy has wished for since they were old enough to stand and watch the older men whittling a stick, cutting up cardboard boxes, of field dressing game for the table.  I remember my very first knife even though I don’t have it any more since it’s probably stuck in a stump somewhere in Pennsylvania.  Each one after that has been special, much loved, and well used.

Benchmade Osborne 943SBKI picked the one I wanted this year after handling a few different ones, ensuring it will do the job I have in mind.  I wanted one for Every-Day-Carry, meaning it’s a bit more aggressive than a typical pocket knife yet easier to conceal than a fixed-blade tactical.  I wanted a knife I could rely on to do just about anything, from opening the mail to cutting a seatbelt in an emergency or being used as a weapon in self defense.

Giving knives as gifts has become somewhat of a tradition in our family and I believe it’s a good one to start with relatively young kids provided that they learn how to safely use them responsibly.  Sharpening and routine maintenance will teach children take care of their possessions so that they provide years of service. There are many types of blades designed for just about every possible use, and part of the fun of getting one as a gift is discovering what each configuration is for, and then expanding the collection year after year. 

 

Merry Christmas

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 

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Kayaking Shingle Creek

Ever since picking up a kayak this post summer, I've made it a point to check out some of the more "off the beaten path" fishing locations.  Last Wednesday, Scott, Sam, Beverly (our wonderful photographer), and I made a short day trip to visit a creek that runs right through the middle of Kissimmee, Florida, but because of the immense cypress trees and the slowly meandering water, you'd never know a bustling tourist destination surrounds you.  Shingle Creek

Shingle Creek Regional Park is located just off US Highway 192 in Kissimmee and is less than 8 miles from Disney, but once you launch from the parking area, you lose yourself in the middle of an old growth forest, floating along a serene river towards Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho for short) and ultimately the Everglades.  It's amazingly peaceful despite its proximity to high-energy urban life.

You can either go upstream to the north through a river stretch that is a relatively flat flood plain surrounded by towering cypress trees, or go downstream and be bracketed on either side by river banks 8 feet above your head with palmetto bushes pushed right to the rivers edge.  Either way, the water is darkly tannin stained which prevents being able to see fish beyond a few feet below the surface.  Largemouth come to hand with black backs and dark green side markings, while bluegill are as dark as coal.  Mudfish and spotted gar hang motionless in the current or lay in wait on the river's bottom, waiting for some hapless prey to wander past.

Scott With BassI found it slightly spooky to have a dozen or so grey squirrels keep pace with my kayak as I paddled upstream, only to have them stop cavorting long enough to stare at me like I was invading their territory.  It kind of reminded me of the scene in the new Planet of The Apes when all the apes are traveling through the treetops on their way to take revenge on their human oppressors.  Imagination running away with me?  Possibly.  Regardless of whether they intended to do me harm or not, they were only a small portion of the wildlife calling the region home.  Hawks, osprey, ibis, herons, cormorants, and many others flew through the sky, swam along the waterway, or ran through the forest. You never know what you might see around the next bend.

Do yourself a favor and drag a kayak or canoe to Shingle Creek and explore a region of Orlando/Kissimmee that many people don't even know exists.  Throw in a couple fishing rods and a smattering of productive flies or lures, and maybe you'll even catch a few fish along the way. 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando   

 

 

 

 

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My Letter To Santa

Each year I compose a letter to Santa for our shop newsletter.  This year was special.

 

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I’ve been struggling to figure out what I want to ask for this Christmas and it finally dawned on me that I really don’t need anything. Whatever I might ask for would seem frivolous and unnecessary when compared to people that really need the important things in life.  It took a commercial on the TV to remind me of some folks that could really use some good cheer and maybe even something small for Christmas that will help them get through a tough time.  Something as small as a magazine subscription, some tying materials and a simple vise , or even some beef jerky could mean all the difference in the world when home, and the simple pleasure of getting outdoors in the peace and quiet, seems to be a universe away. 

Marine Corps Seal        US Navy Seal

I’m talking about the men and women serving in the armed forces around the world and especially those serving in Afghanistan.  These folks are putting their lives on the line each and every day for us and I’m reminded of them every time I see the flag, or hear the National Anthem. 

I served eight years in the Navy but I never really thought of my time as much of a sacrifice.  Instead, it was a job that I really did enjoy doing.  Even when I was up on the flight deck of the Enterprise, which at the time was rated as one of the deadliest peacetime occupations on earth, I never really thought about how dangerous it was. We just knew to keep our heads on a swivel and be aware of our surroundings.  So when people want to thank me for my service, I get a little embarrassed because I don’t really feel that I “sacrificed” anything compared to the men and women serving today.

These men and women have chosen to serve at a time when the world seems to be in constant turmoil, with wars and skirmishes popping up daily.  They never know when or where they might be shipped off to fight for people they’ve never met. Many of whom hate them despite the good they’re trying to do.  Please give them the patience and understanding necessary to deal with cultural and social attitudes that make doing their job nearly impossible.

US Army Seal        US Airforce Seal

I’m also asking that you take care of the families of those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines serving both stateside and abroad.  They make sacrifices each and every day that people who have never led a military lifestyle cannot possibly understand.  Months and possibly years spent worrying about a loved one takes a toll on each member of the family and they deserve a little added attention during the Christmas season.  Even if you can only arrange a phone call or an on-line visit between the family members I’d sure be in your debt.  I don’t have to tell you how sometimes the small things can lift a person’s spirits.

US Coast Guard Seal

Lastly, I’d ask that you put in a good word with the Big Guy upstairs to keep them safe, especially during the holiday season.  My wife and I hide our faces each and every time we see a flag–draped casket or hear Taps being played at the gravesite of a fallen hero.  They hadn’t thought about dying when they joined up.  But rather, they wanted to serve this country and return home, where we might have been able to stand side by side at some stream, or maybe even walk the same trail in the woods.  They willingly give their lives so we can celebrate Christmas and spend time with our families.

Thanks for listening and thank you for helping me bring a little joy to a very deserving group of people and their families.

Sincerely,

Brian E

Outdoor World Orlando

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December's Holiday Hunting Tradition

There’s finally a chill and certain festiveness in the air as most of us try to take time off from work to enjoy spending quality time with family and friends and reflect on the passing year. Children will be out of school on winter break soon, and while the holiday season is upon us, so are several traditional hunting opportunities.

The second phase of waterfowl and coot season comes in statewide Dec. 8 and runs through Jan. 27. In addition to the usual hunting license and permit requirements, duck hunters also must have a Florida waterfowl permit ($5) and a federal duck stamp ($15).

The daily bag limit on ducks is six, but you need to know your ducks before you pull the trigger, because there are different daily limits for each species. For instance, within the six-bird limit there may be only one black duck, one mottled duck, one fulvous whistling-duck and one canvasback.

Only two of your six-bird limit may be pintails or redheads, and three may be wood ducks. And you may have no more than four scaup, four scoters or four mallards (of which only two may be female) in your bag. All other species of ducks can be taken up to the six-bird limit, except harlequin ducks.

The daily limit on coots is 15, and there’s a five-bird limit on mergansers, only two of which may be hooded.

When hunting waterfowl, hunters may use only nontoxic shotgun shells. Only iron (steel), bismuth-tin and various tungsten-alloys are permissible.

For something different, try woodcock hunting. Woodcock season runs Dec. 18 – Jan. 31. Woodcocks are excellent game birds because they hold well for pointing bird dogs and provide a challenging shot when flushed. The daily bag limit is three.

The third phase of mourning and white-winged dove season opens Dec. 8 and runs through Jan. 6. The daily bag limit is 15 birds.

From November on, the shooting hours for all migratory birds are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. However, you must get a no-cost migratory bird permit where you purchase your hunting license before you hunt any of these birds.

The only firearm you can use to hunt migratory game birds is a shotgun, no larger than 10-gauge. Shotguns must be plugged to a three-shell capacity (magazine and chamber combined). Bows also are legal.

Retrievers and bird dogs can be useful in hunting migratory game birds. Artificial decoys and manual or mouth-operated bird calls also are legal and essential gear for duck hunters.

You may hunt migratory game birds over an agricultural field if the crop was planted by regular agricultural methods. However, don’t even think about “sweetening” the field by scattering agricultural products over it – or anywhere near it – or you could wind up in serious trouble. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the one who scattered the bait. If you knew or should have known that such bait was present, you’re accountable under federal law.

Some other things you can’t do while hunting migratory game birds include using rifles, pistols, crossbows, traps, snares, nets, sinkboxes, swivel guns, punt guns, battery guns, machine guns, fish hooks, poisons, drugs, explosive substances, live decoys and recorded bird calls, sounds or electrically amplified bird-call imitations. It is also against the law to shoot from a moving automobile or boat and herd or drive birds with vehicles or vessels.

Bobcat and otter hunting season is Dec. 1 – March 1, and there’s no daily bag or season limit on either species.

Like foxes, bobcats may be chased year-round with dogs, but possessing firearms during the closed season, between March 2 and Nov. 30, is prohibited. On a few wildlife management areas, bobcats and otters may not be taken, so please consult the specific area brochure before you hunt.

December has the hunting opportunities you’re looking for, whether you are upland-bird hunting with friends and family, shooting ducks on the pond with your favorite lab or taking that big cat as he slips up behind an unsuspecting fawn.

Here’s wishing you happy holidays and a successful hunting season. If you can, remember to introduce someone new to our great sport. As always, have fun, hunt safely and ethically, and we’ll see you in the woods!

December “Outta’ the Woods”

By Tony Young

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Give Thanks For November Hunting Opportunities

 

November means the 2012-13 huntin’ season is in full swing. In this month’s column, I cover almost everything you need to know about general gun, fall turkey, quail, snipe and the second phase of mourning and white-winged dove season.

The first thing you need to do is pick up a $17 Florida resident hunting license. Nonresidents pay $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months.

If you plan to hunt one of Florida’s many wildlife management areas (WMAs), you’ll also need a $26.50 management area permit, but don’t forget to study the brochure for the specific area you plan to hunt, because dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly from area to area.

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You can get these brochures at tax collectors’ offices in close proximity to the WMA, or you can download them from MyFWC.com/Hunting.

You can buy your license and permits at Bass Pro Shops or by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or going online at License.MyFWC.com. You also can purchase them from tax collectors’ offices.

The general gun season runs Nov. 3 – Jan. 20 in Zone C; Dec. 1 – Feb. 17 in Zone B; and in Zone A, the second phase of general gun season runs Nov. 17 – Jan. 6. In Zone D, it starts Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) and lasts four days until Nov. 25. Two weeks later, the season reopens Dec. 8 and runs through Feb. 17.

Hunters can take bucks having at least one antler 5 inches or longer, but anyone hunting deer in Florida must have the $5 deer permit. On private lands, the daily bag limit for deer is two, but during some quota hunts on WMAs, the bag limit is only one deer, and in some cases, there are antler restrictions, so read the particular WMA brochure before you hunt.

On private lands, hunters can take wild hogs year-round with no bag or size limits. On most – but not all – WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limit on wild hogs, and hunters can take them during any hunting season except spring turkey. Again, check the WMA brochure to be certain.

The highly anticipated antlerless deer season, often called “doe week,” is Nov. 17-23 (Thanksgiving week) in zones A and C, and it always runs Dec. 26 – Jan. 1 (Christmas week) in zones B and D.

During doe week, the daily bag limit is one buck and one doe, or two bucks. You may not take two does in one day like you can during archery season, and spotted fawns are never legal game. By the way, WMAs do not have an antlerless deer season.

If you hunt with deer dogs anywhere in Florida, special rules and registration requirements may apply, so call the FWC for details.

Fall turkey season in Zone A is Nov. 17 – Jan. 6. In zones B and C, it runs Dec. 1 – Jan. 27 and Nov. 3 – Dec. 30, respectively. And in Zone D, fall turkey season is Nov. 22-25 and Dec. 8 – Jan. 13, except for Holmes County, where there is no fall turkey season.

Only bearded turkeys and gobblers are legal game; you must have a turkey permit ($10 for residents; $125 for nonresidents) to hunt them. The bag limit is one bird per day, and a total of two during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun and fall turkey seasons combined.

Quail season runs statewide Nov. 10 – March 3, and the daily bag limit is 12.

Shooting hours for deer, turkey and quail are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. All legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows and pistols are legal for taking these resident game animals during the general gun, antlerless deer, fall turkey and quail seasons.

Snipe hunting in Florida ranks second in the nation in number of birds harvested each year, and the season always runs Nov. 1 – Feb. 15 statewide. The second phase of the mourning and white-winged dove season also comes in this month and runs Nov. 10-25. Shooting hours for migratory game birds are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The bag limit for snipe is eight; for doves, the bag limit is 15.

You must get a no-cost migratory bird permit if you plan to hunt snipe, doves or any other migratory game birds.

The FWC even provides an online “Dove Hunters’ Hotline,” which gives up-to-date information on Florida’s public dove fields. The address is MyFWC.com/Dove, and it is updated every Thursday throughout dove season. Information includes

 

dove densities, previous week’s harvests and field conditions.

Whether small-game hunting with friends and family or hunting solo, going after that monster buck, boar hog or big tom, November brings loads of great hunting opportunities.  

Here’s wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and a successful

hunting season.

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Media contact: FWC Tony Young, 850-488-7867

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Thanksgiving Traditions

Ned Smith's Windfall GrouseThanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season for many people and I'm sure that each family has its own traditions, mine included.  Unfortunately though, the traditions I grew up with have faded with time and distance since moving so far away from my Pennsylvania homeland.

For me, the roughed grouse and cottontail rabbit are as much symbols of our Thanksgiving day traditions, as football and turkey are for many others.  My father was an outdoorsman in the truest sense and being in the field held more importance to him than any game on the TV ever could.  He also understood that memories are made by doing and experincing rather than sitting in an easy chair watching things happen thousands of miles away.

We'd wake up early so we could have a light breakfast and get the truck packed before my grandfather showed up for the morning's adventures.  The dogs nearly choked themselves to death as they strained against the leashes while we led them to their crates, and I could barely cantain my excitement either because I knew we'd be flushing birds and chasing rabbits before too long.  I'd be on pins and needles during the 10 minute ride to the hunting area where I imagined our quarry was scheming and conspiring to escape unharmed despite our best efforts to bring them home for the pot.

Hunting Jacket and GunFrosted goldenrod and gray skies usually greeted us when we got to our first spot, the mouldering scent of the fallen leaves mixed with skunk cabbage is still fresh in my mind just like that of wet dogs and hunting jackets.  Belle and Tammy rush into the thickets in search of something to chase and soon join together in a joyful chorus of yelps and howls as the first rabbit bursts from cover.  A single shot ends the chase a while later when dad's Browning fires true and deadly.  The dogs don't even pause for a second before heading off to find something else.

The thundering flush of a grouse followed by the crashing report of my 20 guage breaks the silence of our hunt, but unfortunately I would have needed 10 shots and a lot more practice to bring this bird down as he streaked through the trees giving only momentary glimpses of his tail.  Grandpa, dad, and the dogs all look to me in amazement over my ineptitude.  But it has been a successful hunt and we are thankful for the opportunity.

The smells of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, apple pie, and wood smoke greet us upon return home because mom has been hard at work preparing a feast sufficient for an army.  A few hours later we've eaten our fill, cleaned the guns, and settled into a comatose state of contentment that only comes with a day spent in the woods followed by a meal fit for kings.

Regardless of what type of tradition your family has, it's important to carry it on even as the children grow older and have children of their own.  Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities can bring everyone together and build memories that will last a lifetime while at the same time, it may remind everyone of why we celebrate thanksgiving in the first place. 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Traveling with Firearms

Loaded Gun CaseMassad Ayoob has said that one of the cardinal rules of legally carrying concealed weapons is that “IF you carry, always carry.”  I agree with that statement wholeheartedly but what are travelers crossing state lines supposed to do, or even worse, what are we supposed to do when traveling by air?

The NRA ILA website has a great set of links to each of the state’s websites where they outline their individual rules governing concealed carry and also which permits they recognize through reciprocity.  It is a must visit page if you are going to travel outside your home state borders.

Having just gotten back from a weekend trip to Dallas I know how simple traveling with the major airlines can be if you follow the rules and plan ahead.  The first thing you need is a high quality hard case and a set of TSA (Transportation Security Administration) approved locks.  Then visit TSA’s and the respective airline’s websites to get the specifics on packing the weapons, ammunition, and any particular procedures.  For the most part it’s as simple as making sure the guns are unloaded and the ammunition is in the original packaging.  All you need to do then is notify the ticket counter that you need to check a firearm and then have the TSA inspect the case and its contents.  Once that’s complete you affix your lock(s) and they handle the rest.

We all want to be able to defend ourselves while we conduct our everyday business but doesn't it also make sense to prepare for that necessity away from home?

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River  Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Fort Richardson

Fort Richardson HospitalMy wife and I have embarked on a mission to visit as many of the old forts around the region as possible and the latest on the list was Fort Richardson, just outside Jacksboro, Texas.

This fort is unlike any I've explored previously in that it has no blockade walls like many of the coastal forts.  You're walking thorugh cactus and field grass once you step off the parade ground.  There's nothing to keep the soldiers in (possibly why 246 soldiers were lost to desertion over ten years), or to keep the hostiles out.  We asked about this missing feature and were reminded that timber was nearly nonexistant and stone was hard to get.  Besides, this fort was to serve as an outpost rather than guarding the entrance to a port or other location of strategic importance.

View of Morgue from Hospital WindowA few of the original buildings have been repaired including the hospital, morgue, bakery, magazine, enlisted barracks, and commanding officer's quarters.  A couple of the interesting aspects of these remains include; the morgue with a real casket that tourists can pose in for a picture, the guard house where three soldiers were held in each of the 4 X 8 cells, and the enlisted barracks where upwards of 150 men were housed.  Each bulding has some feature that will leave you wondering what it must have been like to live through that time period.  I find it kind of spooky that the morgue can be seen right out the back window of the hospital.  That would give me nightmares for sure.

The surrounding state park is carved into the rugged Texas scrubland which, for this Pennsylvania transplant and now Florida resident, appears hostile and full of prickly plants and nasty critters.  It seems like everything out there wants to hurt you, but is beautiful in a nasty way.  Rattlesnakes and cottonmouths are regular visitors to the park as well and although I wanted to go looking around to find one, "you know who" told me I'd be walking all the way back to Orlando if I ventured off the beaten trail.  She just doesn't have any sense of adventure!

Stop by and check out this historic outpost and maybe you'll give the kids a perspective on life they never had.     

 

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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November RedFish Fishing Report

It’s Captain Keith again, bringing you news of the great saltwater fishing on the central East Florida coast.  November is a great month full of comfortable weather and big fish.  The waters are usually clear, the flats are not crowded, and the fish are willing!

November tends to be less crowded than other months since many sportsmen are concentrating on hunting, holidays, and football.  But at the same time, the cooling weather tends to get the fish in a fall feeding mood, like they are trying to prepare for the winter.  This gives us some superb conditions to “hunt” t1he flats, stalking big redfish in clear water less than a foot deep—sight fishing paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are fortunate that many of our fish in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon are essentially landlocked with over 30 miles to the nearest inlet—despite them being pure saltwater.  They do not “run” like many fish do.  I often get asked “what’s running?”, and I usually answer “redfish”, but in reality they are local natives.  Our redfish and seatrout may get sluggish and more difficult to find during times of cold water, but they are still there, and can be tempted by the right techniques.

 

I like to use dark lures starting this month to imitate the crabs that the fish are concentrating their feeding activities on.  Favorite colors will be dark greens, browns, and even black.  My lures will typically either be a rubber jerkbait, like a D.O.A. CAL, or a small bucktail, like a skimmer jig from Hookup Lures.

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Try to remember that you are imitating crabs, so a slow, hopping action will get you the most strikes.

 

If you want to see details of how to fish this way, go to the “Articles” page of my website where I have articles describing just how to go out and get those monsters, then let’s go fishing!

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Contact Captain Keith at 321-279-1344, and check out www.capt-keith.com for lots of information!

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Tailgating Games

Fall is the time for football games, bratwurst, ribs, or sliders on the grill; and of course tailgating games.  We have more choices today than ever before and I thought it would be nice to highlight an up and commer along with one that has taken the country by storm over the past few years.

 Bucketo Header

First of all, the newcommer on the block, Bucketo.  This new game has been developed by some local entrepreneurs with a dream of bringing happiness to gamesmen, women, and children everywhere.  They've come up with a game of skill that will test your aim and your patience as you shoot for Hangers, Hoppers, and Snakes.  Strategy is important since only the highest scoring player in each round earns the combined points from both players, so there might be a case where you don't want to "help" your opponent win.  Scoring is pretty easy to keep track of, and there's actually a way to automatically win the game.  Even though it has never occurred in written history, I'm sure it's physically possible given enough throws.  

One of the great things about this game is the ease of storage and transportation.  We're talking about a couple of metal buckets and a few lengths of lightweight chain.  Even the kids can help set the game up.  A combination of horseshoes, ladder toss, and a bit of imagination, Bucketo is sure to be a winner at your next tailgating event or back yard party. 

Professional Series Bag TossEverybody has heard of this pigskin party favorite.  Tailgate Toss (or Cornhole as the local tournament players call it) has made a huge mark on the game market and it has always suprised me how popular a kids game has become with adults.  I guess that once the deadly lawn darts were removed from the market, we had to do something.  Accuracy is key, although you can score just by getting  your bag to stay on the board.  Strategically placing your bags in blocking position is part of the game as is knocking your opponent's bags off the playing surface.  There's nothing like hearing the satisfying thunk...shoosh, as the bags smack on the boards and slide towards the hole. Professionals can make this game look overly simplistic but I'm here to tell you that it takes practice.  It requires a combination of speed, power, and accuracy to contact the board at just the right spot to enter the hole rather than exiting off the side.  Good luck and maybe we'll see each other on the professional series....  Just kidding.

Regardless of which game you choose for your next party, it's always a great idea to get some activity while indulging in some vittles straight from the grill and drinks from the cooler.  Be sure to check out Bass Pro Shops for great games and tailgating supplies.  Enjoy some friendly competition or start your own own league with one of these great family activities.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

        

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Retro Fishing Lures

Beetle SpinI picked up a new spinning rod and some small jigs and such for the upcoming shad and crappie season. After having fished with it for the first time a week or so ago, I wondered about how lure designs have evolved over the past hundred years or so.  Fishing with the Beetle Spin is what brought this all on, as I hooked and landed a healthy little bass on the very first cast in a neighborhood pond.  Did the fish eat because the lure was so effective?  Was it because he’s never seen one before and it looked interesting?  Was I just lucky?

Why have we stopped using some of the older designs?  Take a Jitterbug for example.  Nearly every fisherman I know has thrown one with success at some point in their life, but they either don’t have one in their current box, or if they do, it resides in some back corner, never to see the water.  Certain designs have stood the test of time and are still commercially available today while others have faded into obscurity.  Why is that?  Did they stop working?  I kind of doubt it.

JitterbugI think many fishermen suffer from the “new and shiny” syndrome wherein we mistakenly believe that a newly developed and breathtakingly attractive lure must work better than the old, dull one sitting in the bottom of my box.  That’s really too bad since it’s not like the fish have gotten more educated and can now recognize the difference between a lure created yesterday from the one carved out of wood 80 years ago.  I know there are performance improvements that have come about because of materials, construction methods, scent impregnation technology, and sound generating mechanisms…but heck, the old things still work.

I think we should all reach into our tackle boxes and (at least every once in a while) bring out that retro fishing lure, and give it a heave towards the depths.  At the very least, look into adding a few of the older designs, built with modern materials to your tackle box.  Give these pieces of fishing history a second chance at life, doing what their creator had in mind: catching fish and bringing smiles to our faces!

I only wish I had my grandfather’s tackle box so I could try some new stuff.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Orlando Solar Bears Hockey

Orlando Solar Bears HockeyHockey has returned to Orlando and as the signs say, the Solar Bears are coming “Out of Hibernation.” 

Nothing means the beginning of fall like the start of hockey season and with the NHL currently on lockout, some of us northern transplants are going through a little bit of ice withdrawls.  We miss hearing the smash of bodies against glass, the ping of frozen pucks off the post, and the blaring horns that signal a hometown score.  Nothing compares to being right next to the glass for a professional hockey game.

The Orlando Solar Bears will be part of the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League) playing against teams like the South Carolina Stingrays, the Wheeling Nailers, and the Bakersfield Condors.  Our home ice will be the newly constructed Amway Center in downtown Orlando, which if anyone hasn’t been able to stop by to check it out, you owe it to yourself to visit this first class facility.

My family has been going to professional hockey games for the past 22 years, including one of the first dates with my wife which was to a Penguins vs Capitals game up in DC.  This proves that it can be a great outing for families and the cost of taking in a game doesn’t even have to be that great when compared to many other sporting events.  Many seats are reasonably priced and offer a good view of the game.  Just pay attention when the puck is in play because it can and will leave the ice surface, adding a bit of excitement for the spectators within range.

Family at the IglooDespite what many people think about hockey, it isn’t all about fights, crushing checks into the boards, and game stoppages for no apparent reason.  Taking in just a few games will give anyone a newfound appreciation for the speed, grace, and talent that these players exhibit while screaming down ice while deftly leading the puck towards the goal using a stick and their skates.  True talent will leave you scratching your head wondering “What did he just do?”

Rest assured that my wife and I will be screaming in the stands for the first of many home games this season and it would be great if more folks would join us.  Check out the Solar Bears this season and maybe you’ll discover something else to do in the evening besides sitting in front of the TV. 

I sure hope they ask for volunteers to drive the Zamboni!

 

Brian “Beastman”

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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