A Trout Fishing Rod and Reel Setup You Can Be Proud Of


             I recently went trout fishing with my father at Cedar Springs in Rural Retreat, Virginia and I had the opportunity to field test some fishing gear.

        The rod I used was the Browning 7 ft. Air Stream Ultra-Light Spinning Rod.  This rod is perfect for trout and panfish because it is lightweight and supersensitive.  It has a High-strength HTSC20 blank, stainless steel guides, premium Fuji reel seat and rubberized cork with a split-grip handle.  The reel I used was the Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite #10. It has a 7-bearing system, powerlock instant anti-reverse, double-anodized-aluminum spool, machined-aluminum handle and 5.2:1 ratio.  Understanding ratios and what it means is very easy.  The number before the colon is the number of rotations the spool makes per one complete turn of the reel’s handle.  So a 5.2:1 ratio means the spool revolves 5.2 times with each handle turn.  The larger the first number, the more line retrieved on each turn.  The Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite has about 20” IPT or (Inches per Turn) the amount of line reeled in with each full rotation of the handle.  The line I used was the XPS Fluorocarbon 6lb. which is perfect for freshwater spinning or baitcasting.  It has unparalleled abrasion resistance, and is virtually invisible under water.

          I used two different types of bait during my fishing trip.  The first bait I used was a Black Wooly Bugger Fly that was tied by our associates in the Fly Fishing Department.  The second bait I used was the BPS Gold Nitro Spinner bait which is compared to the Mepps #2 Gold Spinner.

        We fished from early morning to about mid-day, and the weather was nice about mid 80s and warm.  We caught about 20 total trout between my father and me.  About 6 were on the fly and the other 14 were on the gold spinner bait.  Overall the fishing trip was a success.  The reel did really well with the drag, and the rod had nice action to it.  I would recommend this rod and reel to anyone because it was successful and performed well.

        Stop by Bass Pro Shops Ashland, VA to talk with me about my trip, and feel free to ask me any questions or concerns you may have.  I look forward to seeing you soon!

Gear Review submitted by:

Patrick Farmer

Fishing Team Lead – Bass Pro Shops, Richmond, VA

Spring Trout Fishing Give Me 45 Minutes -- And I'll Show Unbelievable Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite Spinning Combo



Summer Fun In The Sun

Does packing for summer vacations overwhelm you? We all know how easy it is to forget something or not know exactly what to bring on your trip. Bass Pro Shops has everything you need for your summer vacation. Here are a few tips and must have items that are perfect for your vacation plans this summer.  


Don’t forget your Banana Boat sunscreen to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.  It is important to consider sunscreen (SPF) or Sun Protection Factor. An SPF of 15 will block about 94% of the UVB rays, an SPF of 30 will block about 97% of UVB rays, and an SPF of 45 will block about 98% of rays. It’s best to apply sunscreen to dry skin fifteen minutes prior to going outdoors. It is good to reapply every two hours or follow the directions on the manufacturer’s bottle.  Another good tip to remember when purchasing sunscreen is that broad spectrum sunscreen not only protects from UVB rays, but it also protects from UVA rays.


What better way to relax on vacation then to sit down and enjoy the view? We have a variety of chairs in our camping department that are perfect for all occasions.

Sun Shade

Ever feel like you need a break from the sun? Well, we have the perfect solution for that. The Bass Pro Instant Shade Shelter can be used at just about any location and is easy to assemble. It has a water-resistant polyester roof and side panels that offer great shade protection. There are also large mesh panels that offer a nice breeze to come through. A carrying bag and stakes are included. The size of the shelter is 9”L x 5”11”D x 5”2”H and it weighs about 5lbs.


We carry a variety of cooler brands including Bass Pro Shops, Coleman, Igloo, and YETI. New for 2015 is Igloo’s Super Tough STX-120 Chest Cooler priced at $154.99.  The STX-120 is made in the USA, comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty, and is rated at 5-day ice retention at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.


Towels are a must have when surrounded by water. We have a large selection of beach towels including Bass Pro, Browning, Red Head, Guy Harvey and Salt Life.


What better way to protect your eyes from the sun then a nice pair of sunglasses? We offer a variety of brands including Costa Del Mar, Maui Jim, Oakley, Wiley X, Under Armor, Ray Bands, Salt Life, XPS, Spy Optics, Body Glove, Strike King, Ironman Triathlon, Native Eyewear, and Smith Optics.  The Costa Blackfin 580P Polarized Sunglasses are a staple of any fisherman.  The polycarbonate lenses deliver quality eye protection and crisp vision in any conditions. You have to wear them to see and believe the difference! Costa lenses come in many colors for various light conditions.

Costa Lenses:

  • Blue Mirror Encapsulated mirrors deliver superior contrast and color in full sun and eliminate glare (gray base).
  • Amber Excellent all-around lens delivers the brightest field of vision.
  • Gray Maintains color saturation and natural contrast in medium to bright sun conditions.
  • Copper Cuts glare and enhances contrast and color in all conditions.
  • Green Mirror Encapsulated mirrors enhance visual acuity and eliminate glare (copper and amber base).
  • Silver Mirror Encapsulated mirrors enhance visual acuity and eliminate glare (copper and amber base).

Costa Del Mar Sunglasses on basspro.com: http://goo.gl/C9eXQF


Floats are a perfect way to kick back and relax in the water. Whether you want to lie down or sit up, we have the perfect floats for you. The Intex 18 Pocket Suntanner Pool Lounge is a perfect float for lying down and relaxing around the pool and they come in two different colors. We also have tubes and kids wings available that provide comfort and safety for the summer.

Swim Goggles

Whether you’re swimming laps in the pool or exploring the coastline, we have you covered!  Speedos Vanquisher Mirrored goggles are comfortable to wear and mirrored design helps reduce brightness and glare on the water.  The hypo-allergenic, anti-fog lenses offer UV protection of 95+ and are PVC and latex free. For those looking to explore underwater, check out the Agua Lung Sport Magellan Purge Silicone Swim Mask.  This mask is loaded with great features including a double-window design with tempered glass lenses.  This is a mask you will want to take your next snorkeling adventure.

Swim Wear

The Bass Pro Shops Stripe Swim Shorts for men are 100% polyester allowing them to dry fast and be comfortable on the beach or on the boat! For ladies, we also have Natural Reflections bikini’s and tankini bathing suits.

Water Toys

Water toys are perfect to keep kids busy and entertained. We have a wide variety of water toys that can be for all ages. There are different toys such as Swim Way Toypedo’s, the Stream Machine Water Gun, and the Swim Ways Battle Reef Micros and Shark toys.



When you head to the water, don’t forget your footwear!  We have a great selection of men’s and women’s sandals!  The women’s Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 are very popular. The footbed is even made from real yoga mat with a rubber outsole! They are available in several colors and patterns.

Spending time outdoors with your family or friends is a great way to relax and visit new destinations! Whatever your plans are this summer, remember to bring along the fun!

Off the Rack Sunglasses Versus Costa Del Mar Protect Yourself


A busted trip to Nicaragua


Left: Harry Robertson with fishing guide Santos Duarte, after landing a Machaca fish. Right: Rainbow Bass


          My return to Rio Indo Lodge on Nicaragua’s southern border had been on my schedule for many months. I plan very far in advance any tropical trip where water levels are seasonally high and low.

          This is to ensure the targeted species have been forced from the freedom to roam over thousands of square miles of jungle making a fishing nightmare next to impossible to find numbers of fish.

          This May, I had pushed the envelope forward a bit in the prime time low water weeks in deference to the lodge’s many visiting guests, all with the same hopes of perfect jungle fishing conditions in the local rivers and lagoons.

          I was traveling with two friends who are seasoned anglers, realizing how infrequently the conditions are mercurial not always what we hope for. We were not surprised at a cloud cover encountered as we climbed out to reach our assigned altitude. We were all excited about the aspect of the next few days. Our departure was from San Jose, Costa Rica anticipating a brief thirty minute charter to the lodge. As we descended we were quite low when we dropped through the cloud cover within sight of the runway in rainy conditions.

          We cleared the ritualistic customs routine and were met by the staff of guides, and boarded a roofed panga style boat for the ten minute transfer to the lodge in the pouring rain.

          We were told that the weather was really unseasonable with gusty winds night and day from the east that pushed the tides into the river mouth as they flush into the Caribbean Sea carrying the food source the Tarpon gather for, this time of year. This wave action also does not allow the water levels in the jungle to drop as anticipated. This actually stops the jungle fishing dead in its tracks.

          Now what to do with several days of dubious fishing potential while we were all held captive by Mother Nature and daily thunderstorms, la bruja (the witch)!

          Several years ago the owner of the lodge had asked me to bring the staff up to date on fly fishing. I fashioned a daily schedule that included continuing the in depth explanation of the guides’ needed attitude and behavior when attending fly fishers. We had practice sessions of actual casting with explanation. The weather was no better for our entire stay so I searched to find constructive fun small trips to explain different casts and what they would be used for. Jungle fishing often requires casting in tight restrictive circumstances. A decent roll cast is needed more often than the straight overhead casting strike we all become adequate in performing.

          Afternoons consisted of a lunch, a nap, and then some writing on the notes for a book that I seem to never be satisfied with about the dissection and executing of fly casting arm and body movements.

          After dinner each evening I kept up with E-mails about forthcoming trips spaced as far as a year to worldwide locations. I spent copious amounts of time with the owner as we planned advertising, shows, and lodge improvements.

         On the fifth day, we departed quite early for a charter to San Jose then later in the day a flight to the United States. I felt satisfied that I and the participants had not wasted our time at the lodge. The catch numbers were not great but they had learned how to fish the jungle and had caught some fish. We had good fellowship with all offering genuine suggestions for improvements to the lodge and livery of boats.

Our trip was busted but not our spirit or the will to rain…and as we departed, yes, it was raining!

Til next time!

Harry Robertson www.hanoverfly.com

Pro Fly Fishing Staff, Bass Pro Shops - Richmond, VA

Hanover Fly Fishers

Fly Fishing in Central America by Harry Robertson January Report   April's Report


Bass Pro Shops, Richmond's Maintenance Manager Mike with a Tarpon from a previous trip to the Rio Indio Lodge.


Food Plot 101


         Building a food plot sounds a lot easier than it actually is. You must know what to plant, where to plant, and when to plant. Those three things are very crucial when wanting to have a successful food plot for the deer. If you are having trouble with your food plot or would like to start one, here are a few tips on how to get your food plot looking better than ever.

         First, it all depends on what you want to plant in your food plot. However what you want to plant is not always suitable for your local environment.

        Next, you want to figure out where you’re going to put your food plot. Depending on the deer density, plots should be about 1 to 2 acres in size.

        Lastly, you want to know when it is good to plant your seeds. If they are not planted at the correct time of the year, they may not produce to their best quality.

        Listed below are some examples of crops to plant in your food plot, and how to get them growing perfect for the deer.



        Buckwheat is an easy-to-grow, warm seasoned plant that grows best in sandy soils. It can be planted with cowpeas, grain sorghum, soybeans or it can be planted alone. There is little to no seedbed preparation, but when the seedbed is prepared there is a higher chance of success for the seed. The best time to plant is in the spring, but it can also be planted in July or August. Buckwheat performs well in a cool, moist environment and is best suited for the Northeast or Upper Midwest, but it can be planted in the south. This plant is relatively short-lived, and it will provide some temporary forage benefits for the deer. The best way to plant this seed is by broadcasting or drilling 1 to 2 inches deep. If seeded in a pure stand, broadcast buckwheat at 50 to 60 lbs. /acre or 30 to 40 lbs. /acre when using a grain drill. Test soil to see how much fertilizer to use. This is a fast growing plant, and it is good for early bow season.



         Alyceclover is a warm seasoned, annual legume that is usually used in pastures as livestock forage or it is managed for hay production. This plant does not tolerate wet soil conditions, and its best production occurs in sandy loam to clay soils. This plant is moderately preferred when wanting to attract deer. This plant is very good with drought tolerance and can go days without needed water. When planting this seed it is always important to test the soil, but with this plant it does not need nitrogen fertilizer because it produces its own. When broadcasting, create a smooth and firm planting surface because this promotes optimal germination. When no-till planting, kill the existing vegetation with glyphosate to eliminate weed competition. This should be done a couple of weeks prior to planting. If planting pure stands, broadcast 20 lbs. /acre or drill 10 to 12 lbs. /acre at a maximum depth of 1/4- to 1/2-inch. The best time to plant is April to June in the southern regions, and May to June in the northern regions. In conclusion, this plant is excellent in providing nice summer forage for the local deer.



         Corn is a warm seasoned grass that produces grain on the ears that grow along the stem. This plant is a great source of energy for the deer, especially in the fall and early winter. It also makes good bedding and thermal cover for the deer if left not harvested. Corn does best when planted in very fertile soils, and it prefers well-drained, loamy soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Corn does not handle droughts well, and it does better when there is a lot of rainfall. One downside of corn is that it does not compete well with weeds. A good solution to this problem is to use Round Up Ready Corn because it can control the weeds without damaging the corn. The best time to plant corn is mid-March in the south, April in the middle part of the country, and May in more of the northern climates. When planting the seed it is good to make sure that the temperature of the soil is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can plant the seed by using conventional tillage and planting it in rows, or you can use broadcasting in a prepared seedbed. During no-till drilling, the corn is normally planted at a rate of 5 to 10lbs. /acre, but when broadcasting the corn is normally planted at a rate of 10lbs. /acre. The seeds do best when they are about an inch deep and cultipacked after planting.  Corn requires for the soil to be very fertile, and it is a big nitrogen user. Since corn needs to be in very fertile soil it is good to not plant the corn in the same field in two or more consecutive years. Corn is an excellent plant to use when wanting to attract deer.


Black-eyed pea pods on plant in Hong Kong.jpg

           Cowpeas (black-eyed peas) are a warm seasoned legume that originated from Ethiopia, and has widely adapted to soils and climate conditions all throughout the country. They are extremely drought tolerant and good for the south. Cowpeas can produce in excess about 8,000 pounds of quality forage per year. It is good to have the plot size at least 1 acre depending on the deer density. It’s important to remember to test the soil so that you know how much lime and fertilizer to apply. When broadcast seeding, remember to have a smooth and firm planting surface free of any debris. When no-till planting, make sure to get rid of the existing vegetation with glyphosate to eliminate any weed competition. It is good to plant about 70 to 80 lbs. /acre if broadcasting, and cover the seed about an inch by lightly disking. If you are drilling the seed, plant approximately 40 to 50 lbs. /acre. It is good to start planting Cowpeas around mid-April in the south, and in the north they should be planted starting in late May or early June. Cowpeas are an excellent way to change things up in your food plot and attract more deer.

          These are just a few examples of things you can plant in your food plot. A few other crops include Grain Sorghum, Lablab, Soybeans, Sugar Beets and many more. If you would like more information on food plotting, check out the two links below. One link will take you to the QDMA website and the other will take you to the Bass Pro Hunting 365 website. June is QDMA donation month at Bass Pro Shops, so make sure to make your donation at your local Bass Pro Shops to help improve wildlife habitat, and ensure healthy deer populations for future generations!

Resources: Food Plots Planting Spring Food Plots

Check out Bass Pro Shops assortment of Food Plot and Land Management Products! http://goo.gl/AC48FP

QDMA articles http://www.qdma.com/articles/qdmas-guide-to-summer-food-plots

Bass Pro Shops Hunt365 "United We Hunt" http://goo.gl/3aV0VH

Photo Credits:

Wikipedia commons



Shad Fishing: Quickly and Easily

        Shad fishing becomes popular in Virginia’s rivers every spring. Once the temperatures reach the mid to high 40’s is when they will start showing up in Virginia’s rivers. Right now is the perfect time to begin Shad fishing and there is only about a month left. There are two primary species of Shad, Hickory and American Shad. The Hickory is more common and usually will show up in the water first. It is known for its speed and big jumps out of the water. The American Shad will appear about one to two weeks later, and they are a lot bigger in size. Unfortunately, the American Shad are illegal to keep in the state of Virginia because of the declining numbers over the years. The Shad usually appear in the James River first, and then begin to move up north throughout the weeks.

       There are a few different ways to attract these fish. One of the most popular ways is with the traditional spinning gear. With a 5 to 6 foot light action rod and a 1500 to 2500 size reel spooled with 2 to 8 pound line, it will be all that is needed to catch the right Shad fish. Make sure that the rod has fast action and a real smooth drag because it will be beneficial catching the Shad fish. The most popular lure used for Shad fishing is shad darts and small colored spoons. An easy way to rig these is tying a shad dart or spoon under a barrel swivel with about 16 to 20 inches of a leader. Next, above the barrel swivel slide a 1/8oz. inline weight onto the main line and attach the mainline to the top of the swivel, then peg the egg weight to prevent it from sliding. This allows the fishermen to have enough weight so that they can cast the lure, but it is also still light enough to allow the bait to drift and float naturally with the current. Begin by making a long cast across or with the current, and then allow the rig to sink. Then begin making slow retrieves with an occasional pull because that will start to ignite the strikes. Change up the retrieve throughout the fish to find out what is working best for that day.

      Shad like to stay in different places throughout the rivers. The most common place to find Shad is a current break. Different things such as wing damns, channel turns, islands, bridge pilings and obstructions on the bottom can all cause eddies in the current. These eddies are what the Shad like to hold in because they can rest without having to swim constantly. Shad usually flood the rivers and you can catch them most anywhere during the spawn, but focusing on areas like these will give you the best chance. Tide is also a large player in Shad fishing. Personally, I have always had better luck when the tide is moving. Shad do not seem to move around much on a slack tide, and the best bite is usually right after the tide change. The Shad utilize the tide in their spawn as it helps them move up and down the rivers with ease.

      These fish can be a lot of fun to catch, and when their season is in full swing, it is not uncommon to have about 100+ fish days. Some good things about Shad fishing is that it is inexpensive and you can really enjoy catching a ton of hard fighting fish. I hope that this information was beneficial, and be sure to make a trip to Bass Pro Shops to gather all your supplies for your fishing trips. 

Good luck with your Shad fishing!




Fall Flannel Fest


              Flannel Fest has been extended through November 23rd!  We love flannel at Bass Pro Shops!  It makes you feel nice and cozy on a chilly fall day.  We carry a wide variety of flannel and brands in our store. We have RedHead, Ascend, Natural Reflections, Bob Timberlake, Carhartt, and Columbia Sportswear! One of our favorites is the RedHead Ultimate Flannel Shirt! Made of 100% cotton combed yarns it resists pilling and is virtually shirk-free! It’s on sale right now starting at $19.97 (November 10-23) Reg. price starting at 24.99. With eight different colors to choose from there is one for everybody!  Redhead Flannel-Lined Jeans start at just $39.99!

          Natural Reflections has a great selection of flannel for women!  Flannel shirts start at $24.99.  Natural Reflections Flannel-Lined Jeans or Twill Pants for $44.99!



          If being decked out in flannel from head to toes is not enough for you, we also have Redhead Flannel lined Insulated Waterproof boots for men and women! The RedHead All-Season Classic II is only $49.99 with the options of lace-up, pull-on, or zip-on!



         Our camping department also has a wide variety of Flannel lined sleeping bags! The Bass Pro Shops 0º Oversized Duckcloth Sleeping Bag is our most popular bag with hunters. Our premium rectangular bag is thickly packed with 6 lbs. of hollow fiber insulation. The 10-oz. cotton duckcloth shell and cotton flannel lining ensure years of warmth and enjoyment.

The Bass Pro Shops 0º Oversized Duckcloth Sleeping Bag is $99.99 and measures (40" X 84").

Bass Pro Shops -20º Oversized Duckcloth Sleeping Bag is also available for those really cold nights and is only $119.99.  The -20º Sleeping back is packed with 7.5 lbs of hollow fiber insulation.

Our associates have really enjoyed wearing our flannel on these cold days!

Use hashtag #FlannelFest to show us your favorite flannel on Facebook or Twitter!

You can like us on Facebook at facebook.com/bpsrichmond

Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BPSRichmondVa




Santa’s Wonderland 2014

     It’s that magical time of year again at Bass Pro Shops! Santa Claus will arrive at our store on Saturday November 15th at 5:00pm on his bass boat, and greet all the nice boys and girls! After spreading some Christmas cheer outside and with some encouragement, Santa will enter our store and light our Christmas tree! The unveiling of Santa’s Wonderland will then take place with FREE 4x6 photos and crafts beginning at 6:00pm and lasting until 8:00pm!

          Our convenient Bass Pass system will help reduce your wait time. A Bass Pass provides a designated time during the day to return to Santa's Wonderland® for your photo with Santa. Once you have a Bass Pass, you have the freedom to explore the store while waiting in a virtual line until your designated Bass Pass return time arrives. When it's time to return, line up and get ready to share your Christmas wishes with good ole St. Nick. This is why you may not see long lines in Santa's Wonderland, because our Bass Pass system is in place with several people ahead of you in their own virtual line. Bass Passes are available on a first come, first served basis each day. For your convenience, Mondays-Thursdays are typically days with shorter wait times to see Santa.

           There will be FREE crafts, games, and activities to enjoy with your family! Our FREE Crafts* vary by week so you may want to visit more than once! *All Crafts are while supplies last and only available on the dates listed below.

November 15 – Gingerbread Stocking    

November 16-23 – Decorate a Stuffed Reindeer                                                                                            

November 24-30 – Color a Plaster Ornament                                                                                               

December 1-7 – Decorate a Foam Bird Ornament                                                                                          

December 8-14 – Decorate a Santa Bobber Craft                                                                                     

December 15-21 – Decorate a Stick Soldier Ornament                                                                               

December 22-24 Decorate a Large, Iced Cookie


           Please remember this is a busy time of year for Mr. Claus as he prepares his naughty and nice list! All of his elves will be working diligently over the coming days to prepare for his big night ahead! Santa has been kind enough to set aside several hours each day to visit us and take photos! See the schedule below for hours and dates Santa’s Wonderland is open.

Visit http://goo.gl/M74ozJ for more details and information about our Santa’s Wonderland Event!

Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/bpsrichmond


2014 Halloween Event – It’s The Great Pumpkin!

          Please join us at Bass Pro Shops in Ashland, VA for our annual Halloween Event!  Our Halloween activities are recommended for kids 12 and under. We have FREE 4x6 photos with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and all their friends!  Put on your Halloween costume and come create some great memories with us. The first 100 kids to get a free photo (Monday through Friday from 5pm to 8pm) will receive a FREE pair of glow-in-the-dark glasses!

         We also have FREE fun crafts for kids!  We will have a Stuffed Owl to decorate Monday through Friday from 5pm to 8pm, and there will be a felt Jack-O-Lantern refrigerator magnet to create on Saturday October 25th & Sunday October 26th   from Noon-5pm!  We will also have FREE Lucy Coloring Sheets during the event!

        There will be a scavenger hunt throughout the store on Saturday October 25th & Sunday October 26th from 1-2pm and 3-4pm. We will have a special surprise for all the kids that find all the Halloween Creatures in our store!

       Halloween Night, we will have a costume parade around the store beginning at 6pm! Costume parade participants will receive a FREE Owl Drawstring bag! One winner from the parade will be selected for best costume, and will receive a $10.00 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card! We will also have real miniature pumpkins to decorate from 4-8pm on Halloween night only!

*All crafts and giveaways are while supplies last.

Schedule of Activities by date and time.

October 24th through October 31st

Oct 24:  5-8pm FREE Crafts and 4x6 Photo

Oct 25:  Noon-5pm FREE Crafts and Photo

                Scavenger Hunt 1-2pm & 3-4pm

Oct 26:  Noon-5pm FREE Crafts and Photo

                Scavenger Hunt 1-2pm & 3-4pm

Oct 27:  5-8pm FREE Crafts and 4x6 Photo

Oct 28:  5-8pm FREE Crafts and 4x6 Photo

Oct 29:  5-8pm FREE Crafts and 4x6 Photo

Oct 30:  5-8pm FREE Crafts and 4x6 Photo


Oct 31 Halloween Night!

4-8pm FREE Crafts! Decorate a real Pumpkin*

4-8pm Trick or Treating* (Candy Baskets in 5 Departments)

5-8pm FREE 4x6 Photo

6pm Costume Parade

*While supplies last.



http://goo.gl/2DbPST - Bass Pro Shops, Ashland, VA (Richmond)




(c) Peanuts Worldwide LLC


A Simple Guide to a Smoked Pork Picnic


2014 BIG CAT QUEST Like a Pro!

The Big Cat Quest - Saturday March 15, 2014

The Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest is an annual nationwide catfish tournament with big prizes and tough competition.  The tournaments are located in several cities and take place throughout the year, with a championship event in the fall.

Captain John Garland, Bass Pro Staffer, arrived at Jordan Point Marina at 4:30am to put his boat in the water.  After arriving at the perfect spot, the fishing lines were in the water by 6:00am. It was a very cold morning with a water temperature of 48 degrees Farenheit. The rain was unrelenting with the tide going out and the wind coming in making it difficult to maintain the boat’s position.  Luckily Captain Garland was outfitted with his Bass Pro Shops 100mph Gore-tex rain suit to keep him dry!  The lines were set at a depth of 25 to 45 feet of water. Nearly 4 hours would pass before the first fish was landed, a massive 43.3 lb blue catfish for 3rd place on the hour.  Captain Garland credits his great equipment set up for making it easy to land the big blue cat.  He was using  80 lb Magibraid line. The rod and reel combo used were an Offshore Angler™ Offshore Extreme™ Conventional Kingfish Rod and Offshore Angler™ Ocean Master® 4000 Round Casting Reel.

Bass Pro Shops – Richmond, VA would like to thank all the anglers that participated in the 2014 Big Cat Quest on the James River.   Special thanks go out to Ken Freeman for putting on another great tournament!

Captain Garland will be looking forward to the 2015 Big Cat Quest next spring!

John Garland is the Captain of Screaming Reel Fishing Charter in Chesterfield, VA. Captain Garland has been a Pro Staffer at Bass Pro Shops – Richmond, VA for 3 years. He is a Master Angler and has over 25 years of cat fishing experience on the James River.


Submitted by John Gardner                                                                                                                                

John Gardner is the Special Events Coordinator at Bass Pro Shops, Richmond VA.  



Fishing in May

This month usually offers more stable weather than the previous months and allows anglers to catch fish using many different approaches. At least a third of the fish have spawned and the subsequent spawns will happen within the next couple weeks. Some fish will be very aggressive as they are feeding or protecting their beds & fry, while others will be nearly impossible to catch because they are recovering from all of the stresses of laying eggs, fishing pressure, etc.


Bass spawn at different times during the spring. By the first week or so in May the early big fish spawns are finishing and the early stages of post spawn fishing are revealed. There will still be a couple waves of spawning but the playing field is changing. There will be fish that are thinking about going back to their summer brush piles and ledges but they haven’t quite made it out of the spawning grounds.  These fish will be roaming around on the flats and will get very hungry whenever they recover from the stress of reproducing.  My three favorite baits to find these fish are lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, and poppers. Spinnerbaits are also a good choice, especially in areas with sparse vegetation.  Since you are looking for transitional fish you are trying to cover a lot of water between the spawning areas and the summer hangouts. Once you get a couple strikes in an area you can slow down and present jigs, worms, or tubes to some of their nearby friends.


Nothing compares to seeing a 35” inch striper crush a 10” shad on the surface, except for casting your super spook right on top of it..twitch..twitch..WHAM!!! On the right morning or late in the evening you can run into some of the most impressive feeding action available in fresh water. This Month, Big Stripers will begin to transition to main lake areas. They will feed heavily throughout the month on larger baits. If you miss the early morning action you will have to pull out to the deeper flats and channel edges to troll crankbaits, swimbaits and bucktails. If you are equipped with a nice bait well and are proficient at catching bait, you can use free lines, planar boards, and down lines to target Lake Anna Linesiders.


Nice size slabs can be found all over the lake. Bridges, docks, brush piles, beaver huts, and grass are home to thousands of Crappie. Many citations have been taken in the last couple of weeks.... One method is to try casting grubs, tubes, and beetle spins as close to whatever cover you are targeting. Another approach is to use a slip bobber above a #6 gold aberdeen hook tipped with a small minnow.


Charlie Bowles- Fishing Guide



Pro Staff & Products:

Bass Pro Shops

BPS Tournament Series Plastics

Johnny Morris Carbonlite Rods and Reels

Lowrance Electronics

Seaguar Flourocarbon





Shad Fishing

by Grant Alvis

Living in the Richmond area, it’s only natural to have been exposed to the Shad fishery that the local rivers have to offer. Every spring the annual Shad Run sweeps through the tidal rivers of Virginia and the fun begins!  Once the water temperatures reach the mid to high 40’s the Shad begin appearing in Virginia's rivers. There are two primary species of shad, Hickory and the American Shad. The Hickory is the more prevalent of the two species and tends to appear first, usually around the 1 - 1.5 pound range. The Hickory is known for its speed and the acrobatic jumps they will be sure to perform as soon as they are hooked. This is what earned them the nickname “the poor man’s tarpon”. The American Shad usually appear one to two weeks later and they grow to a much larger size. It’s not uncommon for an eight plus pound American Shad to be caught each year. These fish are characterized by brute strength and long drawn out runs. Americans don’t tend to jump as much as Hickory Shad but the fights usually last much longer. The American Shad are illegal to possess in the state of Virginia due to their declining numbers in recent years, but they have begun to make a comeback. The Shad usually appear in the James River first, and then begin to show up further north in about 1 week increments.

There are a couple of different ways to target these exciting fish. The most popular way among anglers is with traditional spinning gear. A 5 – 6 foot light action rod with a 1500 – 2500 size reel spooled with 2 - 8 pound line is all that’s required for the setup. Make sure the rod has a fast action and that the reel has a smooth drag. The fast action rod allows for a better feel of the lure which is helpful when the fish aren’t hitting lures hard. The smooth drag allows the angler to handle the constant runs that the fish will make. The typical lures of choice for shad are shad darts and small colored spoons. The way I like to rig these are: Tie a shad dart/spoon under a barrel swivel with about 16 - 20 inches for a leader. Above the barrel swivel slide a 1/8oz. inline weight onto the main line and attach the mainline to the top of the swivel, then peg the egg weight to prevent it from sliding. This rig allows the fishermen enough weight to cast the lure, but it is still light enough to allow the bait to drift fairly naturally in the current. Make long cast across or directly down current and allow the rig to sink. Slow retrieves with the occasional twitch will trigger the strikes. Vary this retrieve until you find what is working that particular day.

Another popular way to target the Shad and my personal favorite is fly fishing. Anglers will need a 9 foot 5 - 8 weight rod with a large arbor reel to match. The large arbor is to allow you to fight the occasional fish that will take you into the reel on a run. The fly line is the most important part of the entire combo for shad fishing. In the James River in Richmond, I typically use a 24ft sink tip fly line. The sink tip usually weighing in at 250 grains. This fly line sinks around 7 - 9 inches per second which allows you to get down to where the shad are in the water column easily. Make medium to long length casts down and across the current. Allow the fly line to sink different amounts of time until you find where the fish are holding. Short quick continuous strips until you retrieve the fly all the way in. If you miss a fish keep stripping the fly in because they will usually hit twice. Once you find the depth the fish are holding, you can repeat the same process again and again and you should hook up every time. Eventually the school moves in the water column (usually deeper) and you will have to find them again.

Shad like to hold in different places throughout the rivers. The most common place to find shad is a current break. Wing damns, channel turns, islands, bridge pilings and obstructions on the bottom can all cause eddies in the current. These eddies are what the shad like to hold in because they can rest without having to swim constantly. Shad usually flood the rivers and you can catch them most anywhere during the spawn, but focusing on areas like these will give you the best chance. Tide is also a large player in shad fishing. Personally, I have always had better luck when the tide is moving. Shad don’t seem to prefer to move around much on a slack tide, and the best bite is usually right after the tide change. The Shad utilize the tide in their spawn as it helps them move up and down the rivers with ease.

In closing, these fish can be a blast to catch, and when the run is in full swing it is not uncommon to have 100+ fish days. Additionally, one of the best things about it is that you typically don’t have to break the bank in order to have a good time and catch a ton of these hard fighting fish. I hope this has given you a better understanding of Shad fishing and be sure to stop by Bass Pro Shops for all of your Shad fishing supplies!

I hope to see you on the water,


Grant is currently majoring in Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s been an avid fisherman since he was old enough to hold a rod!


Speed Cranking Calm Waters for Big Bass

by John Hutchins

It’s widely known that crankbaits and other reaction type baits excel in windy conditions. What's not as commonly known is exactly why this is. Although increased oxygen levels and bait displacement are key byproducts of a wind driven shoreline they are not typically the biggest contributor in the willingness of a fish to strike moving bait. The seemingly extra aggression is directly related to the fish’s inability to see your bait clearly. In the clearest of Lakes, a chop on the water not only decreases light penetration but it also refracts light in a distortion of beams shooting through the water column. Simply put, you get more bites in the wind because the fish can’t quite make out your bait as well.

With that said, it seems to make sense to count out the reaction bite altogether on a calm day. Doesn't it? Well I can say that if you do, you may be missing out on a big often overlooked opportunity when it comes to cranking. Over the years I have discovered that by speeding up my retrieve or even "burning" my crankbait I can lure the fish into eating my bait on a calm day for the same reason he eats my bait in the wind. That reason is that he just can't quite get a good look at it. For this technique I recommend a high speed reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio. Speed is your friend in this scenario, however it is also important to consider the importance of varying your speed. A quick stop and go, med to fast to extra fast in any combination will do. The key is increasing your overall speed and making your bait as erratic as possible. More often than not theGary Yamamoto Chikara Crankbait more erratic and random you can get your crankbait to move the more bites you'll get. One of my favorites for this technique is the Chikara Crank by Gary Yamamoto. This bait does a lot of the work for me, as at high speeds it really jumps around creating that erratic action I'm looking for. So the next time you're   headed out to the lake and the weatherman is calling for light and variable winds, make sure you don't leave your crankbaits at home because you may just be missing the boat.

John Hutchins is a local Tournament Pro and Lake Anna Fishing guide.  With more than 15 years guiding experience and 11 years on the tournament scene, he is one of the most accomplished and well recognized anglers in the region. In addition John is an accomplished public speaker and outdoor writer who is passionate about sharinghis knowledge with others.   





Let’s Talk Turkey (youth day!)

My oldest son and I start off every turkey season with a youth day hunt. Youth day turkey season begins in Virginia this year on April 5th. This is available for hunters 15 years old and younger. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/turkey.asp for more information.

Spring gobbler is a fun and exciting time of the year to be in the woods. There are all of the smells of spring, leaves are budding on the trees, and the warming weather has you feeling like winter has finally ended.  Before long we’ll be hearing sounds of big old long-beard’s gobble drumming through the woods from high above in his treetop roost just as the sun is peaking over the mountains in the distance. The evening before our big hunt we’ll be out there just before dark watching just to see where he’s going to roost for the night. We’ll be careful not to get to close! This isn’t long-beard’s first rodeo so we can’t let him bust us! With a little luck he’ll still be there in the morning. We’ll be there waiting and listening before daylight for that tell-tale sound of old long-beard’s gobble that will come quickly after my son blows on his Redhead locator call. If he is still where we put him to bed, we’ll quickly get set up and perhaps do a little soft calling just so he knows we’re interested in doing business. Too much calling and we’ll spook him. With a little patience and a lot of luck, he’ll leave his hens in the roost at daylight and head our way. You’ll know he’s almost committed by the sounds of his wings pounding the ground as he lands and the rustle of the leaves as his dance begins. Strutting as he circles ever closer in our direction with an occasional gobble to confirm he’s also interested. Hopefully he’ll get closer and closer until he’s in shotgun range and at that point I’ll whisper “take um!” and my son will release a single 20 gauge round in his direction! Success? We’ll soon find out.

Until that day there’s still homework to be done. “Homework” yes, there’s homework, but it is enjoyable and rewarding. Weeks before the season starts almost every evening we’ll get on the ATVs and cruise around our farm scouting, looking for birds and watching them. I’m making mental notes of things like what the birds are feeding on, which fields they frequent, how many toms are in the group and where they like to roost. For me, it’s homework that’ll pay off big in the upcoming weeks when I’m calling the long-beards in for one of my buddies or a guest. But for my boys, it’s spending time with dad and doing cool things that many kids will never experience.  Not to mention, this is a special time of the year for me to spend time with my sons and build some memories.

Will our homework pay off? Only time will tell. But, my son and I will be out there on opening day as well as many of my buddies with they’re sons and daughters. So I encourage all parents who have sons and daughters old enough to safely handle a firearm to take them on a turkey hunt.            

If you don’t have property of your own to hunt on, that’s not a problem. Virginia has 39 wildlife management areas (WMA) and 203,000 acres available to all licensed hunters. I’ve personally participated in many successful WMA hunts. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas for more information. 

Hope to see you out there!

Chris Krammes


Miss Absolutely Nothing

Oculus Optics has arrived and I would like to thank them for their support. Great Binoculars 7.0 10x42 and Spotting scope 15x45x65 are available here at the Bass Pro Shops located in Ashland, VA. As we say, you will "Miss Absolutely Nothing" with this wonderful brand of optics. I have a love for the outdoors and a wonderful way to share it is with Oculus brand optics. I know there are many different makers of fine optics and I have used most of them; we all look for the best deals and here they are. These Oculus products are designed and manufactured with precision and accuracy in mind and they stand behind all of their products with a lifetime warrantee; no receipt is required.


I have been shooting long distance archery for many years and looking at arrows through many different products. The clarity and eye relief that the Oculus Spotting Scope gives me is beyond wonderful. I would like you to check out these fine products the next time you are shopping online or in person here at Bass Pro Shops. Don't just think about it, do it! You will look at things a lot different and as we say “Miss Absolutely Nothing.”  


Till next time your local Bass Pro Staff member wished you happy viewing as you will soon see the outdoors in a different way. 


-Rex Reichert  




Fall Dove Recipe

I enjoy an afternoon afield when dove season is in. Our limit here in Virginia is twelve birds per day, 24 in possession for each hunter. The shooting day begins at 12 noon ending at legal sunset. Take plenty of shells, they are a worthy target!

After a successful afternoon I return home and prepare the birds by clipping the wings off close to the body with fowl shears. I then insert a thumb just behind the rib cage and press it forward to the neck pulling the breast upright towards the head. At the end of this motion the breast breaks free from the carcass. What skin may remain with feathers attached easily comes off. Quick rinse in cool water and leave to chill in the refrigerator.

When ready to cook I place the breasts in an electric frying pan breast up. I pour into the pan a half cup of heavy cream plus 4 ounces of cooking sherry....bring the heat up to simmer and cover. Check often a sharp toothpick pushed into the breast until clear fluid comes out. I now reduce the heat as the birds turn a whitish color. I have prepared enough bacon strips ( I prefer hickory smoked ) almost done. Put a single rectangular piece on each breast and raise the heat once more.

This requires attention to watch until the bacon starts to shrivel.....do not overcook!

Serve with spoon bread and a steamed green leafy vegetable sautéed in garlic chips with a touch of citrus salad dressing. A good Pinot Noir goes well with what I call, " Palomas Emilee'".


Harry Robertson


Take a Kid Fishing


We always have to make some time for ourselves to enjoy the great outdoors and to have fun. This past weekend, I went to Bass Pro Shops for a day of fishing with all the wonderful kids that came to their Fall Fishing event.

Myself, Big John a few other Pro staff members were there to assist the children and hopefully give them memories that would last forever. Thanks to Bass Pro Shops and all my other fine sponsors I am given opportunities to do things that I love to do. As you can tell, my new little friend and I caught one of the biggest fish of the day! I helped her go from some one that was not having a good day to someone that took a memory home that will stick with her for life.

I love being able to share all the good times that we all have in the great outdoors. Always remember, spending a day in the great outdoors will usually results in a wonderful that you can share with others. Ask yourself just one thing; what can I do today to teach the children of the world how to enjoy themselves an to enjoy nature?  

The answer is simple: Get outdoors and have some fun; which we all need to do from time to time, not just the kids. Until next time-

Go out and have some fun,



Dove Season by Chris Krammes


With days now shorter and nights getting cooler I can’t help but feel a new hunting season around the corner. Yes, dove season is only a couple weeks away! It’s time to dust off our shotguns and get in some much needed practice before opening day! What better way to kick off a new hunting season than with a September dove hunt!

Traditionally our group meets up the weekend before, either at our local sporting clays range or on our farm to shoot skeet. It’s a great way to be prepared before taking to the field. If you’re not able to shoot at home there are plenty of clubs around the area that will allow nonmembers the opportunity to sharpen their shooting skills.

After digging all of my gear out it was clear that it was time to restock! Realizing time was running out I headed for our local Bass Pro Shops. While at the Bass Pro Shops in Ashland we found everything and more that we could possibly need for the upcoming season. Bass Pro Shops has a wide selection of dove hunting necessities from shot shells, clothing, skeet throwers and clay targets. Don’t forget ear and eye protection! I was so consumed by all there was to choose from I almost forgot to pick up a couple more MOJO dove decoys.

Now I'm completely stocked up and you’ll find me on the range this weekend!

See you out there!

Chris Krammes



Duck Dynasty by Timothy Nace

Hey Duck Dynasty fans, get ready for season 4 by getting all your gear at Bass Pro Shops! We have everything you need from Uncle Si’s tea cups, tee shirts, bobble heads, action figures and more. We just received season 3 on DVD along with seasons 1 and 2. We also have the books “The Duck Commander Family” and “Happy, Happy, Happy”. So come on down to Bass Pro Shops and get ready for season 4 as it airs on A&E Wednesday night at 9:30pm!Duck Dynasty Gear


Fish On

I launched my skiff out of Hopewell City marina Friday afternoon. I headed up river in search of bait needed for an evening of cat fishing with a longtime fishing buddy of mine, Howard and his friend James.

Bait turned out to be easy to find and after a 15 minute soak our gill net delivered 7~10 medium sized gizzard shad as well as a few slab sized.

Ok, game on! With plenty of bait in the cooler we were pumped to get our rods in the water, so we headed down river. We stopped at our first spot furthest from the marina at the beginning of the incoming tide. Our game plan was to fish 6-7 spots working our way back to the marina varying depths and structure.

On our first spot we put out 10 rods and within the first 30 minutes we doubled 10lb and 31lb blues. Giving that spot another 20 minutes it was time to move. Our next spot resulted less luck so after another hour we moved again. This time fishing wing dams in shallow water we picked up a 20lb blue and with the tide ticking away we decided to make another move. After about a 20 minute run up river we anchored at the entrance of a secondary river channel. We had 90 minutes left in the tide so this spot would be our last chance for a big fish. With another 10 rods spread across the channel we waited. After 45 minutes I was beginning to question my decision to anchor there.  With the stillness and quiet of the dark, we started to nod off.  At about midnight the alarm of screaming drag got our attention.  It was enough to revive us and get us pumped! After a short battle the 52lb blue all scarred up rolled to the surface. We took pictures, weighed it and released that big boy back into the water. Thinking that fish would end a great night of fishing, I decided to give it another 30 minutes. What a good decision that was. The alarm of the drag screaming again! Fish on! The rod tip was nearly touching the water. What a big fish! As he broke the surface his huge tail soaked everyone. We knew this was the best fish of the night and the scale proved it! The last fish of the night weighed in at 57lbs and was just over 48” long. We were thrilled! With cameras full of pictures we headed home.

All fish were released as we always do to catch another day.  We will definitely be back for more in a couple weeks!

Good luck!
Chris Krammes