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.

hunting

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.

fwc

 

 

 

 

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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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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