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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Historic Savannah

Savannah RiverfrontA few weeks ago, my wife and I decided to take a short trip out of the area for our 20th wedding anniversary and ultimately we decided on visiting someplace we had never been but heard a lot about.  Savannah, Georgia was our destination and let me tell you, it was well worth the trip.

Situated on the south shore of the Savannah River, the city is rich in history reaching back to colonial times, progressing through the civil war era, and then on to present day.  You can always tell where you are by the architecture of the buildings around you.  The colonial section is identified by the spartan and simple homes with shutters and siding, while the civil war period homes become much more elaborate with pillars, balconies and wrought iron railings.  Everywhere you look is another home, church, or storefront that demands a second look.  The church from the opening scenes of the Forrest Gump movie along with the location of his bench from which he recounted his tale to anyone willing to listen, can be found in the historic downtown district.  .  The really great thing about exploring the city is the trolleys and transit systems that can get you around with little need for a car.  Off-and-On tours make exploring at your own pace a leisurely affair.

The riverfront shops and restaurants are typical of a tourist area with knick-knacks, bricka-brack, and otherwise standard wares for a those types of shops but there’s a neat mix of old, new, nautical, and traditional.  The food was superb I would highly recommend the Crawfish Etouffee at Huey’s on the River.  I could have died right there and my life would have been complete.  One interesting factoid about the riverfront streets is they are paved with cobblestone that originally began its life as ballast in the holds of ships visiting the port.

Fort PulaskiThere’s plenty to explore outside the city limits as well and I would think that no trip would be complete without a visit to locations like Old Fort Jackson, Fort Pulaski National Monument, Tybee Island, and lest we forget, the Savannah Bass Pro.  There are so many things to see it will soon become apparent that one or two days just won’t suffice.  My wife and I really enjoyed wandering around the old forts while trying to imagine what life would have been like as a soldier stationed inside the walls.  No cell phones, computers, cars…Heaven on earth?  Maybe, but I’m very fond of indoor plumbing and hot water on demand.  And I think I would have to pass on the shelling that Fort Pulaski endured during a siege by Union troops in 1862.  You can still see the holes in the outside walls caused by union cannonballs.

Tybee Island LighthouseI hope I’ve given a few people a reason to visit the historic city of Savannah and its neighboring region.  Take a few days away from the beach and look back into history with a visit to this treasure of the Atlantic coast.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Selecting Ammunition for Hunting Season

Federal AmmunitionHunting season is upon us and everyone is busy trying to get their scopes mounted and guns sighted in for opening day.  Even hunters that choose to hunt with open sights will be hitting the range (hopefully) to get warmed up for when the shot actually counts.  Practice is the only way we can ensure a quick and efficient kill which is our duty as responsible sportsmen and women.

Ammunition manufacturers are producing new types of projectile and powder combinations each year in the hopes that they have come up with the perfect combination of power and performance, producing the next “must have” round.  Unfortunately though, it tends to muddy the water a little for someone trying to find the right ammunition for their particular type of game animal.  We all know that a whitetail isn’t the same as a coyote, and definitely isn’t the same as a hog even though all three might be pursued with the same caliber weapon.

Remington AmmunitionThankfully most of the manufacturers have gone the extra step with their websites and have included information that is infinitely more helpful for the average hunter beyond the standard ballistic information like velocity, trajectory, and energy.  They have gone so far as to identify the type of game the ammunition should be used for, and where necessary, the type of barrel a certain type of shotgun ammunition is designed for.  I went though some confusion when trying to find a round for hunting hogs with a smooth bore shotgun.  Website searches of the major companies gave me the answers I needed.

 

Winchester AmmunitionAnyone who has spent some time in the field or at the shooting bench will be able to tell you that little changes in bullet weight will drastically change the velocity, energy, and trajectory down field, so do some research to determine which load is the best all around for the game you seek.  Keep the shooter’s comfort in mind as well since increasing the bullet weight may increase the loads energy but it also increases felt recoil, potentially making it uncomfortable to shoot.  Getting more speed from a load is great when it comes to flatter trajectories but once again, higher speeds means increased recoil.

Check out the major brands and find a load that meets all of your needs and you’ll be more satisfied with the overall results in the field.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Getting Started In Kayak Fishing

Ascend KayakEver since putting the flats boat on the market I’ve been trying to figure out how I was going to get back on the water without spending an absolute fortune.  I’d sort of figured a canoe or kayak was going to be the solution but I was a little apprehensive about trying to rig one out the way I needed it. 

Well, I finally added a kayak to the arsenal and just one trip on the water has proven once again that I tend to be a better fisherman when I can’t just pick up and move to another location at 40 MPH.  Kayaks and canoes force me to be more patient and methodical about how I approach the flat.  I caught and saw more fish (despite cloudy water conditions) than I have in the last couple years combined.  Paddling right up to monster seatrout is possible even though they are some of the wariest fish on the flats.  I realize they know I’m there and catching them is unlikely, but getting that close is a thrill none the less. 

So what do you need to purchase in order to get on the water in a kayak?  Well let’s look at a short list of things that might be nice to start with.

 Kayak.  Either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak of sufficient length to fit yourself and equipment; designed for whatever type of activity you plan on undertaking.  Sit-on-tops are the most common fishing types here in Florida because they are reasonably fast and stable, entry and exit is simple, and some actually allow standing in.  Sit-in’s are a bit faster and they are probably better for long distance touring but for general purpose fishing, other styles get the nod on the flats.

Life Jacket.  Be sure to get one that can be worn comfortably while seated in the kayak for long periods of time.  Many special-purpose kayaking life vests have the floatation strategically located so as not to interfere with a high-backed seat.

Paddle.  Obviously there are dozens of different types and lengths out there, but start with one that will be cost effective, reasonably lightweight, and the proper length for your height.

Anchor.  At some point you are going to want to pull over and take a break, so be sure to pick up an anchor and rope sufficient for your needs.  Grapnel anchors in the one to three pound range along with 25 feet of rope should suffice.  A shallow-water anchor or “Stakeout Pole” is nice to have if you’re going to be spending most of your time in 2 feet or less.  They allow you to stop your forward motion and hold position without having to drag out the main anchor.

Anchor Trolley.  A nice accessory that allows you to anchor at either end of the craft.  This will enable you to position the boat with either the bow or stern into the current.

Equipment Leashes.  It would be a shame to lose your paddle and/or your fishing rods.

Dry Bags.  Everything you own is going to get wet so place valuables in dry bags and store them inside the storage hatches which SHOULD BE reasonably waterproof.

Miscellaneous Safety Equipment.  Check your state regulations to determine what is required such as whistles, lights, and flares.  Sit-in kayakers should invest in a hand operated bilge pump since water will get into the boat because they aren’t inherently water tight like sit-on-tops.

Canoe/Kayak Cart.  Unless you enjoy carrying unwieldy objects that can weigh upwards of 100 pounds, I would highly suggest picking one of these invaluable items up when you purchase your new watercraft.  It will save you a hernia.

Roof Rack.  Depending on what type of vehicle you drive, you’ll need some way of getting your boat from the garage to the water.  There are quite a few types of racks from companies like Tule and Yakima, and it may take some searching to figure out which one will work best for you.

Sam W/BassI’m sure there are quite a few other things some folks might classify as “must have” when hitting the water via kayak, but you have to start somewhere.  Extra rod holders, paddle clips, bait wells (not sure what they are used for), special tackle boxes, etc, will likely be added to the equipment list over time but as in anything worthwhile, I believe it takes some time and experimentation to arrive at the perfect setup.  Don’t just buy things because your buddy says you absolutely have to get one or your life just won’t be complete.

Sincerely.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Taking Full Advantage Of The Autumn Mullet Run

This is a great time of the year to fish the Florida east coast!  Let’s start with the autumn mullet run.  Each year the hordes of mullet that have grown up in the lagoons migrate south along the east coast beaches from New Smyrna to Miami—to the delight of marauding tarpon, sharks, kings, and more.   The river of mullet will work its way down our beaches, and it is a great time to catch some real monsters! 

big king

While this fishery happens every year, sometimes predicting it is difficult, since they seem to come through in “waves” generally from September through October.  Also, the mullet run can be disrupted by weather conditions, especially since this is the height of the hurricane season, and large waves will really make the fishing difficult.

 

Look for the mullet jumping along the shoreline, then use either mullet imitation lures, like a D.O.A. Baitbuster, or net up a few live ones and toss them along the mullet to catch the predators.  You can even throw right to the big ones as they attack the hapless mullet—it can be a blast!

sept.

In addition, don’t forget the flats.  As football season starts, it seems that the pressure goes down on the water, and the fish are more ready to eat, whether you are using lures or bait.  My favorite lures for this time of the year are rubber jerkbaits, like a D.O.A. CAL, or a white or chartreuse bucktail jig by Hook-Up Lures.  If bait is more your style use a lively finger mullet on a circle hook.  Don’t like to throw a cast net for bait?  By some of the frozen finger mullet they sell at Bass Pro Shops—they work like a charm!

fun

Check out www.capt-keith.com for articles and lots more information!

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen?

Salmon Fishing in the YemenSalmon fishing in the Yemen?  Well not right now, but a movie of the same title is out there for rental or purchase, and after watching it, I have to wonder if it might not be possible if someone has enough desire and money to throw at the problem.

Ewen McGregor’s character, Dr. Alfred Jones, is tasked with developing a way to bring salmon to the desert so that a wealthy sheik can enjoy the sport of fly fishing for them in his homeland, while at the same time, bringing sustainable freshwater resources to an arid and lifeless region.  Well one thing leads to another and without giving too much away for those of you interested in seeing the movie, they succeed, have their efforts destroyed, but then ultimately discover why they went through everything in the first place.

Although not what I would call a “true” fly fishing movie in the spirit of “A River Runs Through It” this movie does have a few moment where spey casting and fly tying are shown to be a worthwhile and therapeutic pastime.  It also shows that fishing in general is much more than just catching fish, especially when it comes to fly fishing.

My favorite point in the movie was when the Sheik Muhammed, played by Amr Waked and Dr. Jones get into a discussion about religion and matters of faith.  The sheik sneakily convinces the scientist that he, a man of science is ultimately a man of faith because he continues to fish for hours if not days solely for the chance to hook into just a single fish.  That really struck a chord with me since there are many fishing trips whereupon returning home I tell my wife I just took my fly rod for a walk (meaning I didn’t catch anything).  But then I get right back up the next morning with a renewed hope and belief that today’s the day I’ll hook into something memorable.  It’s all a matter of faith.

Check out “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and maybe you’ll look at all those hours you spend on the water in a different light.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San MarcosMy wife and I recently decided to make some short trips to some of the historically important sites across the southern United States and as fate would have it, one of our first destinations just happens to be one of the oldest in America.

Ground breaking for the construction of Castillo de San Marcos was held on October 2, 1672 and still today you have to marvel at the work and dedication that went into creating this beautiful, if not deadly, structure made of stone and mortar.  The Spanish used coquina, a stone comprised of crushed shells and coral compressed over millions of years, as the main block for the structure.  It’s hard to believe that seashells can stop cannon balls but after surviving a 27 day bombardment by the British in 1740, soldiers had to feel pretty good about their chances of survival, considering that only two soldiers died as a result of cannon fire during that battle.  Simply amazing if you ask me.

Cannons stand in place along the walls of the bastions and you can still see their positions along the seawall where soldiers fired upon attacking ships that rain down shells from the entrance to Matanzas bay.  I would have felt pretty exposed standing outside the protective walls of the main fort.  There’s even a moat that normally would have kept dry, but while under attack it would have been flooded with sea water.  Two drawbridges limit access to just one entryway.  One way in, one way out.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the fort to me was related to its being renamed Fort Marion in 1825.  This was done to honor Francis Marion, also known as “The Swamp Fox,” a revolutionary war hero and ultimately the originator of the Army Rangers.  Leslie Nielsen played the Swamp Fox in the 1959 Disney series that a few of us might be old enough to remember (I saw reruns as a kid).  My wife just about died when I broke into the theme song as we walked around the fort.

“Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat... nobody knows where the Swamp Fox at; Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, hiding in the glen, He'll ride away to fight again. Got no money, got no beds, got no roof above our heads; got no shelter when it rains, All we've got is Yankee brains!"

Bridge of Lions The fort guards St. Augustine which by the way is the oldest European settlement in the continental United States.  The city is a tourist destination onto itself, with a shopping district, Flagler College, The Lightner Museum, The Fountain of Youth, The Bridge of Lions, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.  There’s so much to see that it can’t all be mentioned here.  Oh yeah, don’t forget the world class fishing all along the region.

I strongly suggest visiting Castillo de San Marcos and the city of St. Augustine with your children so they can get an appreciation for history and where we come from.  Then visit it again as an adult so you can truly enjoy the abundant beauty of Florida’s First Coast.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State ParkWekiwa Springs State Park is located just a short drive north of downtown Orlando, but once you’ve passed through the gates, you’ll wonder where the civilized world went or whether it existed in the first place.  The park provides a little bit of peace and quiet for anyone looking to enjoy nature the way it used to be without having to fly hundreds of miles to the middle of nowhere.

You can bring the family and enjoy a variety of activities from hiking, kayaking or canoeing, bicycling, camping, horseback riding, fishing, or just lounging around doing nothing.  There’s no better way to relax than to sit under a giant cypress listening to the birds and squirrels cavorting through the branches.  Native wildlife of every conceivable variety can be encountered, including but not limited to squirrels, turkey, snakes (of both venomous and non-venomous species), alligators, white tailed deer, herons, egrets, and even bears.  I actually spotted bear tracks along the pathway leading to the canoe launch while prepping our gear during a recent trip.  Alas we didn’t see the animal but it’s nice to know they exist so close to a metropolitan area like Orlando.

EgretI just spent a wonderful day kayaking on the Wekiwa with a couple friends and associates from Bass Pro.  Sam and Scott kicked my butt paddling around but I think I held my own on the fishing end of it.  We encountered Bluegill, Sunfish, Warmouth, Gar, Bass, Tilapia, and one sneaky Bowfin (locally known as Mudfish).  I’m pretty sure we caught fish on a combination of topwater and subsurface flies with a standard trout pattern doing the best overall.  Lightly or un-weighted Prince Nymphs accounted for most of the fish.  My most productive fly turned out to be one that I never use because the color combination failed to be a producer in the past.  It just goes to show that you never know what’s going to be the killer fly for the day.

Give Wekiwa Springs State Park a shot if you’re looking to beat the summer heat.  Explore some new territory by taking a step off the beaten path.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Join the Dove Club; apply for St. Vincent Island primitive-weapon whitetail hunts

To me, the best part about hunting is not harvesting game – but spending quality time outdoors with friends and family. One of the best ways to do that is through dove hunting, which is one reason why great dove hunts are in such high demand but often difficult to find.

That’s why the FWC created its Special-Opportunity Dove Club Program – to offer hunters the chance of experiencing exceptional dove hunting on the state’s best public dove fields.

Dove Club permits enable one adult and one youth (under age 16) to hunt all scheduled dates for the dove field of their choice. Permits cost $150 and enable both hunters to take a daily bag limit of birds each. There are eight hunts on all but one of the selected dove fields (Caravelle Ranch has six), and all hunts are from noon until sunset and take place on Saturdays, starting Oct. 6 and ending Jan. 5.

Last year, 1,421 birds were harvested from six fields. This coming season, there again will be six special-opportunity dove fields scattered throughout the state from which to choose.

One of the fields is on Allapattah Flats Public Small-Game Hunting Area (PSGHA) in Martin County, east of Lake Okeechobee. Thirteen Dove Club permits are available for the 100-acre field. Participants last year took an average of nearly six birds per hunter per day, harvesting 601 birds!

North Newberry PSGHA, in Alachua County, has 15 Dove Club permits on its 40 acres. That field produced 135 doves for nearly a 2-birds-per-hunter, per day average.

Another field, Caravelle Ranch in Putnam County, has a 200-acre dove field with 30 Dove Club permits available. Last season, 73 doves were harvested there.

The dove field on Hilochee Wildlife Management Area, in Lake County, has 15 Dove Club permits available to hunt its 58 acres. Hunters there last season took 107 doves.                     

Frog Pond North PSGHA in Miami-Dade County has been a top producer in past years, and 201 birds were taken there last season, for nearly a 2-birds-per-hunter, per day average. Fifteen Dove Club permits are available to hunt its 50 acres.

The remaining special-opportunity dove field is Koon Farm in Lafayette County.  There will be 13 Dove Club permits available to hunt on its 40 acres. Hunters took 304 birds there last season for nearly a 5-bird-per-hunter, per day average. 

Dove Club permits will be issued by random drawing during Phase I. That application period runs through July 11.

After obtaining the correct application worksheet by going to MyFWC.com/License and clicking on “Limited Entry/Quota Hunts,” you can apply for these season passes by filling out a single worksheet (with up to five dove field choices) and turning it in at any county tax collector’s office, license agent or by going online to License.MyFWC.com. During Phase I, hunters may be awarded a permit for only one dove field.

If you are successful in getting drawn, you must pick up and pay for your Dove Club permit at any of the same places mentioned above by July 31. Check for drawing results in mid-July at MyFWC.com/License, again by clicking “Limited Entry/Quota Hunts.” Any applicant who provides an email address will be notified by the FWC by email if drawn.

Brochures on each of these areas are available online at MyFWC.com/Dove. Also at that Web address, beginning in late September, hunters will be able to find the most up-to-date information on these six special-opportunity dove fields, as well as Florida’s other public dove fields. The website is updated every Thursday throughout dove season. Information includes dove densities, previous weeks’ harvests and field conditions.

Hunters looking to rough it a bit might like to apply for one of two hunts on the 12,490-acre St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, an undeveloped barrier island in Franklin County in Northwest Florida.

There, the hunt’s on for white-tailed deer and unlimited wild hogs and raccoons.

The first hunt is Nov. 15-17 and is an archery-only hunt. Only vertical bows may be used, unless a hunter has a Disabled Crossbow Permit, in which case a crossbow could be used as well.

During the second hunt, primitive weapons can be used – bows, crossbows and muzzleloaders. That hunt is Jan. 24-26, 2013.

There are 250 permits available for each of the two hunts at a cost of $25 each.

You can get to St. Vincent Island only by boat, and if you don’t bring your own, you can make a deal with one of the local charter captains to take you to the island and bring you back after the hunt. For a list of boat captains that offer this service, contact the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.           

The island has no electricity, so it’s all about primitive camping for three days. You’re allowed to have a small campfire, using only wood you bring with you or deadwood you find on the ground.

I recommend you bring a bicycle, unless you plan on walking everywhere. If you do harvest any game though, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff will come pick you and your animal up in one of their trucks. That’s the only way you’re catchin’ a ride in a motorized vehicle, unless you’re a hunter with a disability. Those hunters receive special accommodations and transportation to and from their hunting spots.         

If you’d like to purchase a permit for one or both of these primitive hunts, get the appropriate worksheet by going to MyFWC.com/License and clicking on “Limited Entry/Quota Hunts.” Once you’ve completed it, you may buy the permit at License.MyFWC.com or from any county tax collector’s office or retail outlet that sells hunting and fishing supplies, beginning 10 a.m. (EDT) on July 12. But you had better be quick, ’cause these permits are being offered first-come, first-served until they’re gone!

So if you’d like to join the FWC’s Dove Club or prefer the solitude of hunting whitetails and wild hogs on St. Vincent Island, you need to apply for your permit in July.                                                                                

Here’s wishing you luck in getting drawn for the hunt of a lifetime. Remember to introduce someone new to hunting when you can. As always, have fun, hunt safely and ethically, and we’ll see you in the woods!

By Tony Young

Media Relations Coordinator

Division of Hunting and Game Management

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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Learning to Cast

Dr. Jay Wright sending out a lineWe get a lot of folks in the shop that would like to give fly fishing a try but they’re a little apprehensive about just grabbing a rod and hitting the water.  They mistakenly believe that casting is really hard and it would take them a long period of practice before they’ll be “good enough” to actually go fishing.

I know exactly how they feel, considering that I’m self taught for the most part.  Looking back to the first year or so of my fly fishing experience, I should have given up and taken up a less challenging pastime like collecting thimbles and silver spoons.  I couldn’t cast my way out of a paper bag, but I persevered and eventually figured it out.  Fishing with and observing accomplished casters were two of the biggest influences on my casting ability and overall success as an angler.  Seeing it on TV or in a video is one thing, but first-hand observation and imitation can definitely shorten the learning curve; especially if the person you are working with can explain why certain styles or casting actions are effective, or detrimental.

Basic Fly Casting DVDThis is why we highly suggest that everyone thinking of taking up the sport we love should take at least one lesson in addition to watching some of the DVDs, or YouTube videos available.  We have a pretty good selection of videos for teaching the entry-level angler through the expert.  They are very effective at explaining the mechanics of the cast along with a bit of the physics that make it all work.

Lessons are the other piece of the puzzle and just one session can measurably improve your form and increase your accuracy and distance.  For those that have never tried casting before, letting an instructor lead the way will help you avoid some of the many pitfalls everyone finds and eventually has to work through.  I know my casting would have improved at a much faster rate had I reached out for help all those years ago. 

Stop by the shop or call us and get some information about our lessons.  You’ll be happy that you did.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Summertime Crappie Fishing

If you can stand the heat, those crappie would say…Catch Me If You Can.

As the summer temperature gets hotter the crappie (specks) tend to move into deeper water but you can still find crappie shallow under docks, lay downs along the rivers edge or pylons. We were vertical (jig) fishing Fourth of July using 10' Wally Marshall rod and reels with 10# high vis line. The water temperature was 84° and we were slaying those big crappie. The crappie were on the shady side of the pylons on Lake George (central FL) anywhere from 8-10' deep. We would drop our line on each side of the pylon and BAM-BAM…almost the same time the crappie would hit our jig. Each pylon would have 1-3 fish on/or around it then we moved to the next pylon.

crappie 1

We started out using Bass Pro Shops Squirmin Squirt colors Chartreuse Sparkle and Hot Pink Sparkle with a 1/16 oz. pink-pearl head and as the sun got higher we changed to 1/8 oz. Blakemore Roadrunner Natural Science (willow blade) with the Lake Fork Live Baby Shad Limetreuse tipped with Berkley’s PowerBait Crappie Nibbles.  We caught some GOOD fish in just a few hours and headed back to the house for a fish fry.

crappie 4

crappie 2

So, if you want to have some fun on a hot summer day, take one pole, artificial jigs and learn to vertical (jig) fish structure.

crappie 3

Come see us at the Orlando Bass Pro Shop soon. Hope to see you on the water and don’t forget to “Take A Child Fishing.”

 

Don and Toni Collins – Bass Pro Shops Fishing Team

2010 Angler Team of the Year

2010 Sportsman of the Year

email crappie07fish@yahoo.com

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Big Bass Techniques For Great Summer Time Fishing

There are four main summer patterns for summer fishing.

  1. The first is Hydrilla, off shore grass pattern.
  2. The second is Fish attractors or Fish Structure.
  3. Third, shoreline grass or Kissimmee grass edges.
  4. Fourth and most important and fun is fishing the water flow.

Let’s break down each.

1)First let’s talk hydrilla, casting a worm to the outside edges of topped out Hydrilla can be a very productive summer time pattern. We use 1/8 to 1/4 oz  Bass Pro Shops XPS Tungsten weights because of its small diameter and sensitivity. For lures, our go to lure is the Bass Assassin 8” ribbon tail worm because of the great colors and way the tail flutters on the fall. Red Shad is our favorite summer color, but colors like Junebug and Tequila produce quite well.

barry fish

When approaching the grass edges look for where the grass ends, identify pockets and holes within the grass. Let the fish dictate what size weight to use, although a good rule is to start with the lightest possible. Then increase the weight size as needed with wind speed, water depths and fishing activity.

To speed up locating the fish in and around hydrilla, you can use a topwater Frog or Paddle tail worm with no weight pulled across the top. Once you have located a few fish with these lures, work the area slower and carefully with the 8” worm for better number and quality of bass.

2)Working the wood, fish attractors or off shore structure.

In most of the Orlando area main lakes the FWC (Fish & Wildlife Commission) have installed fish attractors as the main source of wood in Florida lakes.  But another good source is brush piles; these are put in the lake by other anglers or lakeside home owners.  Finding this structure is best done with the aid of a depth finder. The newer finding technologies have side finder features; companies like Humminbird and Lowrance have great products for seeing these structures.

3) Shoreline grass or Kissimmee grass edges

Flipping and/or pitching are great methods for catching fish with this technique.  Flipping Kissimmee grass is a great pattern for summer fishing and is well known in Orlando a tournament winning pattern.  Why does it work?…the Kissimmee grass provides a shady location that gives the fish protection from the bright sun light, this in return results to cooler water temperatures.  A rule of thumb, the deeper and thicker the grass is, and the better this pattern works.

Our lures of choice when using this technique are craw fish, craw fish and craw fish. My favorite is the Bass Assassin 4” Pure Craw in a Blue Shadow Glitter, but you need to try the technique to establish confidence in your favorite lure and color.

dave

4)The forth and most important seasonal pattern is the water flow or running water pattern.

First, you need to understand where water levels are normal, how to know when they change and where to look when they do.

Let’s talk about secondary flow.  These are the small creeks and ditches located all over Orlando throughout the urban area which are affected by afternoon rains which create water flow. These can be found on Google maps by searching your local area.

The other areas are called primary flow areas which are like river or canal systems. They systems are managed by man versus weather, so knowing when to fish a river system is more difficult but easier in a lot of ways. Because these are controlled by water management, we all have access to when they move water. Knowing the direction they flow the water also is very important.

For example, on Lake Toho the normal summer water level is 53.5. Lake Cypress and Hatch free flow to Kissimmee where normal summer pool is 51. Presently Lake Toho is 1- 1/2 feet low at 52.1 and Kissimmee at 49.18.

What does this tell us? As soon as Lake Toho gets to summer pool, water management will maintain summer pool, releasing water from Lake Toho down to Lake Cypress causing water flow.

The above description is on a big lake system, but the same management practices are used for your local lake that has a flood gate also called a spillway.

As we approach Hurricanes season and get the rains from Tropical storms these flow systems get very active. Why is this so important? The fish migrate to the running water for food, this constraints the food, fish and activity making it easier to target the feeding fish.

So get your fishing gear ready, fishing season is not over it’s just beginning!

Two great sources for Orlando area water flow information:

http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.realtime_app.rtv2?p_op=KISSIMMEE

http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports/r-kss.html

 

Good Luck & Tight Lines,

Capt. John Leech & Todd Kearsey

 

 

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Preparing for Archery Season in Florida

I hope by now you have been practicing with your archery equipment because in just a little over a month from now, archery season opens in Florida.  I also hope you have had some family outings in the woods looking for signs of wildlife movement.  The acorn crops are starting to mature and will be falling soon which means the deer are going to move back into their summer-early fall feeding patterns.  I have seen some bucks in South Florida where I am working and they are starting to rub their antlers.  This means they are back to visiting those rub lines from last year. I have found that year after year bucks seem to follow the same patterns even if a buck is harvested in a scrape area another one will move in and take over.  So start your summer scouting in areas where you have seen deer sign before. 

 

Now is the time to clear those shooting lanes too!  If you clear them now the deer will get used to them and all the scent you leave behind will be long gone when the season opens.  By the way if you have not tried the Bass Pro Shops Redhead Ratchet Pruners you should because they work great for making those shooting lanes!  If you are going to hunt from a climbing stand now is a good time to climb the favorite tree and make sure there are no limbs in the way.

ratchet

Let’s talk a little bit about tree stands.  My favorite is the Grand Slam by API.  This stand is very easy to set up and use.  Find your favorite location, set up this stand and it will give you many hours of comfortable seating.  Also remember to get an API Gear Reel.  It makes life a whole lot easier by allowing you to pull up your “stuff” after you get in place and don’t forget to wear that safety harness, which is why they supply it with the stand!

grand slam

Back to practicing with the bow…you need to check out all of your archery gear and get it back into shape for the upcoming season.  Be sure to check your string for wear and wax it.  If it needs to be replaced the associates in the archery department at the BPS-Outdoor World in Orlando will be happy to help out.  Make sure your sight pins are set and tight, your arrows are straight and feathers or vanes are in good shape.  Practice with field points that match your broad head weight and remember to change back to broad heads before you head back into the woods to hunt. Some fellow hunters have asked what type of broad heads I use.  I like and have had good success with the Redhead Blackouts as have a number of folks that I talk with during seminars and campfire conversations.

blk out

I hope this information helps with your preparations for the upcoming archery season and I wish you great success!  Remember to take that camera with you and when you have a successful harvest, send us your photo or bring it by the Orlando store.  We always love seeing your pictures and listening to your stories!

 

For now…head outside, have fun in the great outdoors and be sure to take family and friends along with you!

Mikey Blanton

Bass Pro Shops Orlando- Hunting Pro Staff

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Snap Cap Savvy

PracticeThose of us that carry firearms as part of our regular routine, bear a responsibility to ourselves and others to be as safe and proficient with our weapons as possible.  But how do we practice some of the skills, like drawing from a holster, which most ranges forbid?  We practice at home with snap caps is how.

These handy devices are loaded into the magazine of a pistol or the cylinder of a revolver and then the weapon can be drawn, taken off safe, and then the trigger can be pulled without worry of damaging the gun or discharging a live round into something we don’t mean to kill.  It’s absolutely crucial that we practice drawing from under concealing clothing, acquire the front sight, and pull through the trigger; smoothly and in a minimal amount of time if we expect to do the same thing if, and when, the situation calls for it.

Snap caps are also handy for checking the operation of your firearm after routine cleaning and maintenance.  It’s a good idea to functionally check your weapon after reassembly by loading the magazine and working the slide to load a round in the chamber, then repeatedly cycling the action to extract, eject, and load the remaining snap caps.  You have now effectively verified that you put the gun back together correctly after field stripping.  I recently had a weapon that just didn’t operate the way I thought it should but without snap caps, I couldn’t safely load a round and then eject it to verify the problem and develop a solution.  It’s also a good idea to load a snap cap and pull the trigger on any firearm that’s going to be stored for extended periods of time.  This allows the firing pin spring to be stored in a relaxed condition rather than being held back under tension, potentially shortening the lifespan of this critical component. 

M&P Shield with Snap CapsSnap caps are available in most of the popular handgun, rifle, and shotgun calibers on the market and they really aren’t all that expensive compared to the cost of accidentally discharging a live round, or not being well prepared in a life or death situation.  Snap caps are a valuable tool for training, checking functionality, and performing routine maintenance; and should really be a standard component of any gun owners tool kit.  Stop in and pick some up, then brush up on those critical skills.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Seven Leader Connection Methods

Rockey River Steelhead 2012“How are you supposed to join the leader to the fly line?” That’s one of the most common questions we encounter in the shop and even though I definitely have a couple favorites, we have to try and keep the anglers skill with knots and dexterity in mind when we provide some solutions.  Invariably, I show them three or four options and they settle on the one that requires the least amount of knot tying proficiency.  I thought it would be a good idea to list a few methods that we have available to us.  They will be ranked in order of preference and I’ll try to give one or two reasons for picking or avoiding each method.

#1 Welded Loop:  This is a permanent loop in the end of the fly line that the manufacturer creates during the production process.  It is the cleanest and most convenient method for joining leaders with a loop-to-loop connection.  However, they are only available on a small portion of the lines on the market, and you will need to have another trick up your sleeve if something happens to the original loop.

#2 Whipped Loop:  A whipped loop is accomplished by folding the tip of the fly line back over itself, wrapping about ¾ of an inch of the overlap with tying thread, and then coating the thread with your fast-drying glue of choice.  This is a great method for creating a permanent loop but it does require a bit of practice, and for the uninitiated, it might seem like a lot of work.  It’s very smooth and extremely strong so don’t be afraid to give it a try.  Just be sure to use a thread color that is similar to the line color when whipping loops at the head of the line.  Mackerel, bluefish, and puffers are highly attracted to bright colors and will strike at the loop as it goes by in the water.  Red thread should only be used when whipping a loop in the tail of a line (where the backing attaches).

Note:  A double nail knot loop should be used when creating a loop in the end of clear lines rather than whipping with thread.  Just form a loop in the line’s end and bind it down with a pair of nail knots to avoid adding color to an already clear line.

#3 Needle Nail Knot Pigtail:  This method uses a needle to insert a piece of mono through the center of a fly line, exit out the side, and then a nail knot is tied to secure the connection.  Adding a loop to the end of the mono allows connection of the leader.  This method is highly effective, and very smooth, but quite labor intensive.

#4 Nail Knot Pigtail:  Same as the previous method but the mono is joined with just the nail knot (or an Albright knot).  It’s a very effective joint but it can be a little rough going through the guides.  It’s reasonably simple and quick to install so it’s the method we use the most when rigging lines for fresh and small to medium saltwater use.  Big game saltwater lines should be done with another method.

Note:  When using method #3 or #4, be sure to choose a mono with the same relative stiffness as the fly line you are connecting to.  Using a mono that is highly dissimilar (too stiff or too limp) will cause unwanted hinging at the connection joint and that will prevent proper leader layout.

#5 Braided Loop Connector:  These premade connectors function just like the Chinese finger puzzles we had as kids.  You insert the line into the braided tube as far as it will go, slide a plastic sleeve down over the bottom of the braided tube, add a dab of super glue, and presto….You’re done.  These braided connectors are available in the shop and come in packs of three or four depending on the brand.  I highly recommend having some of these in your pack as a backup even if you primarily use one of the other methods.

#6 Cast Connectors:  These are a small, football-shaped plastic bead with holes cut in both ends, and slots along the sides.  You insert the fly line into one end of the bead and out the closest slot, tie an overhand knot in the line, then pull the fly line backwards until the knot is pulled through the slot and into the center of the bead.  You then do the same thing with the heavy end or your leader of choice.  Very handy and quick but should be limited to small to medium fresh water fish.

#7 No-Knot Eyelets:  These are the barbed pins most people remember using when they were kids.  We still sell a good number of them but with the cores of the modern lines making insertion of the pin a real pain, I do my best to convince folks to take another route.  They should never be used in saltwater.

I bet most of you didn’t even think about all the methods available for connecting leaders to fly lines and I’m sure I missed one or two, but the purpose of this section was to let you all know there is more than one way to perform a simple function.  Pick one and learn to install it effectively.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Summer Time Fishing In Central Florida

This is Captain Keith Kalbfleisch, Bass Pro Shops-Orlando’s Saltwater ProStaff.  Summer is here, and while it is hot, so is the fishing!  This is the best time of the year to catch big fish here in Central Florida.  On the flats the redfish and trout are active and willing to bite, and on the open ocean there may be chances for tarpon, king mackerel, jack crevalle, and more just off the beaches, while out in the offshore areas you can expand the selection to cobia, dolphin, barracuda and more.

Two areas that are spectacular during the summer are nearshore and inshore on the flats.  Nearshore fishing is fishing along the shorelines of the open ocean form right along the beach to about a mile out.  This is where many of our big fish migrate as they come up the coast on their yearly pilgrimage to eat and grow huge.  The stars of this type of fishing are tarpon, jack crevalle, king mackerel, little tunny, and barracuda, but others will crash the party.  This is often fished in a small boat, using live baits, and the fish can be huge, so it is an exciting and radical fishing!  Here is a jack crevalle caught on my boat, The MTC, this weekend by Jeff Sutton of California.  It is 30 pounds, and one of the meanest fish that swims!

fish 1The typical day nearshore is to catch your live bait (sometimes this is difficult, and others ridiculously easy) then slow-troll the baits behind the boat.  It is “buffet” fishing, since you don’t know what may attack the live bait, but it is exciting when it disappears in a huge swirl and the reel starts screaming!

 

But if the open ocean is not your thing, or if the weather does not cooperate, then head inshore to the flats where big redfish are waiting!  This is the most popular fishing on our Florida east coast, with calm waters and fun fishing, not to mention a plethora of birds and animals like dolphin and manatees.  And you can catch some big fish.  Here is another picture from this weekend, it is Gene from South Dakota, who is 11 years old with the biggest fish he has caught in his life—we got three this big that day!
fish 2

While it is hot during the summer, you will find it is not really that bad.  The water and breezes keep you comfortable, and if you start out early you can take advantage of the cooler mornings.

I have some great articles on my website, www.Capt-Keith.com, explaining more about these types of fishing and will help you in your fishing success.

Go catch some big ones!

Capt Keith

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Fathers Day Memories

Father and DogSitting here on Fathers Day Morning, I think about my own dad who unfortunately passed away unexpectedly back in 2006, and the things he taught me about hunting, fishing, and about being a father.

He was a quiet man, comfortable by himself or with a few close friends, but you could tell that he was most in his element walking the fields with a dog at his side and a much loved shotgun cradled in his arms.  Shooting things wasn’t really that big a deal for him, but rather the time spent afield was its own reward.  Even sitting through a soaking downpour during deer season seemed to be par for the course and failed to elicit a single complaint or harsh comment.  Catching fish while wading a local stream in search of trout or small mouth was an added bonus but if nothing came to hand, it didn’t seem to matter a whole bunch.  He just loved to be there.

My girls have seen me leave the house with a shotgun or fly rod many times over the last 20 years and they’ve seen me return home empty handed more times than I care to count but I hope they learned the same lesson I did many, many years ago.

It really isn’t about the quantity of game in your hand at the end of a day afield, it’s about the quality of the experience and the memories you create.  Share your passion and create some memories for your youngster like my father did for me.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

 

 

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Peacocks of South Florida

South Florida PeacockEver since I picked up the fly rod there has been sort of a list of fish I just had to catch if I was ever going to call myself any kind of a real fly guy.  Redfish, Tarpon, Snook, Largemouth, Crappie, Steelhead, and many others have been clicked off one at a time with last year’s shark being one of the latest species to fall.

I really wanted to catch something different this year and I finally got the chance to go after another one of my personal goals when my wife and I headed south into the land of Peacock Bass.  South Florida that is, not South America.  Not many folks realize we can pursue some pretty exotic species right here in the U.S. thanks to a combination of factors including an alien invasion and efforts to control it.

Peacock Bass were stocked years ago in the canals and lakes throughout southeast Florida to try and get a handle on the exploding cyclic population and to provide another fishing opportunity for local and visiting sportsmen.  Their efforts have worked out perfectly and it can be counted on as a reliable and productive fishery.  Just about any water you cast into that isn’t too salty can potentially have a peacock or two waiting to pounce on a lure or fly.  My choice of course is a fly and although it may take a bit more effort, the amount of satisfaction I got from landing my first while staying true to my passion, cannot be surpassed.

These fish are vicious strikers and powerful fighters with an attitude equal to the meanest junkyard dog or barnyard bull.  Their red eyes should be an indicator of their ferocious nature.  They are highly predatory, inquisitive, and fairly persistent making them a near perfect fly rod quarry.  The only down fall I can see is the need to throw relatively large and/or noisy flies, which can require a larger rod than the fish’s size might indicate.  Don’t worry though; you’ll appreciate having a larger rod when the fish heads for the bottom.

So, if you’re looking for some adventure and a few strong fish to throw at, head to south Florida and get ready to bring on the pain.  Peacock bass are more than willing to pick a fight with you.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Hunting Season Preparation

It’s that time of year again. If you hunt Public Land in Florida you probably remember June 1st better than you wife’s or children’s birthdays. Each year June 1st marks the opening of the application period for a shot at one of Florida’s Phase 1 Quota/Limited Entry Hunts. http://myfwc.org/license/limited-entry-hunts/ If you hunt one of the “Big Three” in Florida (Archery/Muzzleloader/Gun) now’s the time to get out into the garage and start rummaging through all the equipment you have buried behind the weed eater and Christmas Lights.

If  Archery is your thing and your bow has been put up since last season It’s not a bad idea to bring it in for a “tune up” before you get out in the yard to work the rust out of your aim.

archery shop

The same thing goes for all your accessories.  Make sure your targets, arrows, release and other gear is in good, safe working order by having a Pro look at it. Replace anything that is showing wear or not working exactly as it should.  Bow Hunting is the most technically challenging so prepare yourself now to be ready when you’re out here…

archery

If you prefer the smell of black powder outdoors, accompanied by the flash and bang of muzzleloading, it’s again time to start preparing for this year’s hunting season. The best starting point is to get your gun out and give it a good cleaning/inspection before you start target shooting.  Make sure you’ve got plenty of powder or pellets and caps as well as loading accessories for practice as well as hunting.

muzzleloader

Modern or General Gun is by far the most popular of the “Big Three” and requires the same prep elements as Archery and Muzzleloading. Cleaning & safety, practice, and having all the tools/accessories you need. If you have been or are planning on spending time at the gun range make sure you are sighting in your rifle and target shooting with the same rounds you plan on hunting with. A different size(grain) rounds have a different trajectory and may not impact the same point even when fired out of the same rifle.

target pic

Finally, spend some time going through the rest of you’re gear to make sure everything is in not only in good working order, but you have enough of it to get you into the season. Overlooking the smallest detail can be the difference between a successful hunt or a frustrating outing. Ever run out of butane for your Therma-cell or have a strap break on your climbing stand?Better to find out before you get out into the woods, right?  Also, try all of your camo on in case you’ve gained or lost a few pounds and spend a few hours each week before hunting getting your boots broken back in.

As we get closer to Hunting Season spend the time to get properly prepared in the comfort of your home, garage and backyard instead of trying to do without or attempting a hasty repair in the dark Opening Morning!

Good Hunting,

Have Fun & Be Safe!

 

James Grebey

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Zombie Nation Magazine

Zombie Nation Magazine CoverEveryone knows the apocalypse is coming and it would seem logical to be on high alert for the day when the undead will start walking the earth in search of sweet and juicy, living brains.  Whether they are created as aresult of an airborne pathogen, genetic mutation, voodoo ceremony, astrological catastrophe, or just the wrath of some spiteful diety, the walkers are coming and they won’t go down easily.  Regardless of the root cause, we all need to be prepared to protect ourselves and our families, or like so many folks who choose to bury their heads in the sand (not a good self-preservation tactic);, we’re going to end up being someone’s lunch.

Zombie Nation Magazine hit the newsstands last week and I can pretty much guarantee I was the first one in the Orlando area to grab a copy.  Actually, I ripped open the box myself and ran off to check out the newest zombie eradication weapons including AR’s shotguns, crossbows, knives, and other such fun stuff.  It’s a one-stop-shop of what you’ll need and how to use it.  There’s an article on hand-to-zombie combat in the event you’re caught without a cutting or blunt force weapon with which to defend yourself.  FYI: you should never and I mean NEVER try to punch a zombie in the face, or you risk hitting a tooth and becoming a flesh eater through blood to saliva disease transfer.  Many of the techniques highlighted in the chapter are standard self defense practices with a twist on avoiding accidental contamination.  These are very important things to remember if you want to avoid becoming a walker yourself.

The weapoKel-Tec KSGns are some of the sweetest I’ve seen on the zombie-killer market and are sure to be added to many a wish list, bugout bag, or doomsday shelter.  My personal favorite is the belt-fed Valkyrie Armament BSR Mod-1 shown on the cover, but it’s hard not to fall in love with the Kel-Tec KSG 12 gauge pump.  Both of these weapons look to be perfectly designed for putting an end to a zombie's snack time or defending your home against various types of threats.  Check them out and start saving your pennies.

This magazine is also includes interviews with movie creatures from the hit AMC show "The Walking Dead", wherein I learned there's more to acting the part of a zombie than just dragging your feet.  Lack of coffee will cause zombie-like symptoms in some folks but don't be fooled by the slurred speach and stumbling gait.  One article highlights a master of zombie makeup, and yet another reviews of some of the most popular zombie movies (I call them required instructional media).  There’s no telling what you might learn from the information contained within the glossy pages.

Stop by our magazine rack and pick one up for yourself.  It might just save your life.

Stay sharp out there!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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