What you need to know about Bowfishing

Looking for a fun new activity for the summer? Try bowfishing! Bowfishing is a fun sport that goes overlooked by most people, combining the thrill of the hunt with some fishing aspects. Some of the gear that you will need is a cheaper bow that you can shoot all day and are not afraid to get wet or dropped on a rock or two.  Other equipment you’ll need to get started is some kind of retriever, anywhere from a larger Zebco reel to an AMS bowfishing bottle retriever. Personally, as well as many of my bowfishing buddies, use the AMS kit we sell at Bass Pro; it’s a very reliable system that’s safe and effective. The kit includes bottle retriever, arrow rest, two fiberglass arrows, 200lbs line and the latest AMS bowfishing DVD. Now that you have your gear, you have to figure out the regulations in the areas that you will fish. Here in the state of Missouri you are able to shoot any non-game fish which include gar, Asian, silver, bighead, common and grass carp, buffalo, drum and some of the panfish species.  Lastly, before you venture out to go bowfishing you need make a plan on where you are going, what time and who with. This is important to let people know where you are going because most of the time when bowfishing you are within feet of the water, usually a river or a big creek (fish gather in greater numbers in these areas) if you shoot say a 30lbs fish, it wouldn’t take much to lose your balance and fall in.  Bowfishing with a buddy is very important when you fish at night and in the day. I usually go bowfishing at night; the fish are more active and stay closer to the surface due to more bug activity. Some overlooked items that are needed if fishing at night include: a light source and bug spray, I’d say those are the two biggest things. Now that you have your proper gear, know your states bowfishing regulation, and made a plan, all that’s left is to go out and start bowfishing.

Cory Clermont



Staying Hydrated on the Banks



It's a nice summer day. Not a cloud in the sky, and the XPS Hydrationsummer heat is just starting to come on. Great day to head out on the Bow River and see if I cant get me some trout! I pack up, making sure to bring my trout gear. But it is getting pretty hot outside, and there is a long day of walking ahead of me so I load up my XPS Hydration Pack.


I love this thing. I enjoy comfort, convenience, and durability in a hydration pack that sets the standard for performance with the Bass Pro Shops XPS 2 Liter Hydration Pack. With a high performance, sleek design, this low profile pack includes a 2-liter (70 oz.) no-taste, hydration reservoir with a bite valve. The durable pack is constructed of rugged, water resistant polyester. The pack is built for the active outdoorsm350 Clear Tackle Boxan, with a large, easily accessible, main storage compartment great for storing my spinners in a 350 clear tackle box or two. The dual layer mesh stuff pockets are great for my pliers, zippered front pocket for my fishing license, with side and bottom compression straps to secure gear. Deluxe padded shoulder straps feature an adjustable sternum strap to keep the loaded pack from weighing on you over a long trek along the shores of the Bow River. Outline


Horse Creek Game Plantation

My wife once said “Walter, you never know when a really good time is going to sneak up on you.” I think this applies to a hunting trip that I had the pleasure of taking at Horse Creek Plantation in January.

This all started about five years ago. I was working in archery when a grandfather approached the archery counter with his grandson. He was frustrated because he had purchased a bow from Bass Pro and he could not shoot the bow very well. The bow was not set up right for his grandson, so I set the bow to the correct draw length and poundage. I took a considerable amount of time explaining how to sight it in as neither one had any experience. They thanked me and headed to the elevator. Two minutes later the grandson started running back and handed me a piece of paper with his grandfather’s name and phone number. He said “my Pawpaw said any time you want to hunt you call him.” Year after year passed and I never called. They would come in and shop and remind me of the invitation. Well, this year I decided to call. We lined up a three day weekend and I invited Dean Clark to come along. Dean works in hunting with me and we affectionately refer to him as Mr. Dean. We left work one Thursday evening and arrived at the so called “camp House”. These accommodations were unbelievable! This place had 4 bedrooms and fireplace, television, kitchen and a front porch with rocking chairs. It also had back decks facing a pond stocked with fish.

Camp House

hunting 03.JPG

Camp House (inside)


Next door was a processing building with stainless sinks grinders and saws. Behind this building was a catfish pond. They took us out on the Polaris, an ATV, to show us a couple of shooting houses and food plots to hunt in the morning. They handed us keys to two ATV’s and said we could ride them to the stand in the morning. We could not believe how nice this was as we settled into our king size beds that night.

The next morning, as I sat in the shooting house overlooking a food plot, I heard the sound of a truck coming. I peered out the back window and saw Mr. Price, the owner, coming in. I got on the ATV and met him back at the lodge. He loaded Mr. Dean and me in the Polaris and he proceeded to show us the rest of the property.

As soon as we returned to the lodge we loaded up tree stands and blinds and headed out for the evening deer hunt. We didn’t have any deer sightings that day and returned to the lodge for a good meal and watched hunting videos. Mr. Price asked if we would be interested in shooting birds tomorrow after leaving the deer stands. We of course told him that we would love to shoot some birds.

The next morning we were up early and headed for the stands. This was another slow morning for me but Mr. Dean had a visit from a doe that after a lot of head bobbing at the blind left the food plot.

We returned to the lodge where Mr. Price was waiting. This is where it really got interesting. He instructed his care taker to go get some pheasant, chucker, and quail and release them. We then got in the Polaris with a trailer behind that had seats for hunters and kennels for the dogs. We drove over to the kennels where we collared three dogs and put them in the kennels on the trailer.

hunting 18.JPG

Dog Kennels

After releasing the dogs they instantly went to work finding the birds. Not much time had passed before they were pointing the first bird. Our guide called us up on both sides and kicked the brush that the dogs were locked up on. A pheasant took flight and Mr. Dean dispatched him quickly. The dogs instantly retrieved the bird and went back to work. It wasn’t long before they were on point again. We repeated the previous process and a chucker flushed on my side. Much to my surprise I dispatched that bird. This was the first time I had done any kind of upland hunting. This process was repeated over and over. To say we enjoyed our selves would be an understatement. After we shot all the birds Mr. Price offered to clean the birds while we headed for the deer stands.

hunting 28.JPG

Mr. Dean


That evening on stand I turned to the left in time to see a flash of whitetail and hear one blowing at me. They ran up and down the hill to my left and eventually grew quiet. Later on that evening as it was getting really dark I heard deer walking into the opening but it was so dark I could not tell what they were. We returned back to camp exhausted.

The next morning we were off to the deer stands and more sightings of does. We returned to the camp where we were treated to a lunch of Tomato gravy and biscuits, venison sausage, and grits. After lunch more birds were released and we were back in the field. This was a repeat of the first day and we shot plenty of birds. We saw a pheasant that was headed across the road. We took the dogs over and could not find this bird so we returned to the other birds and finished our hunt.

hunting 34.JPG

Walter Andrews


We cleaned the birds from the days hunt and decided we were too exhausted to deer hunt that evening. We started packing for home and Mr. Price said that maybe we could come back in the spring for turkey season. I would be crazy not to take that invitation and told him I would love to come back. After we had loaded the last of our gear and were about to get in the trucks, we looked to the edge of the clearing and the pheasant that had crossed the road was looking back at us.  It seems a fitting end to a great trip.

For more information please call:  George L. Price (850) 537-3882 or (850) 543-0682. You can also find them online at http://horsecreekgameplantation.com.


Are You Tournament Ready?

Hello Everyone,

It's Tournament Time!!  The time of year for which every Tournament Angler lives.  We're busy reading all the outdoor ads to pick up on the latest Lures and Tactics we can add to our arsenal.  We're also going over in our mind what maintenance we need to do on our Bass Rig or planning to get the new Electronics we got for Christmas installed.  These are big issues and do require some thought but let's not forget about some of the other issues that can be just as important.  Regular maintenance is critical to the life we can expect from our equipment.  The better we are at maintaining our equipment, the longer it should last us.  With this in mind, I've divided things up into 4 categories: tow vehicle, boat trailer, boat and engine.

Tow Vehicle -

Since my tow vehicle is my primary vehicle, I know that my registration and inspection is current and that I have good tread on my tires - including my spare tire.  Some things to consider that may not be checked regularly are:
  • the condition of your brakes,
  • the condition of the serpentine belt on your engine,
  • is your wiring receptacle still in good condition?...no breaks in wiring, wires pulled out or a worn/smashed connector,
  • how about spare fuses,
  • is the tow-bar bolted securely to the frame? (sometimes these can loosen over time if a thread-locker is not used)
  • is the hitch ball in good condition and secure?
  • is the engine starting battery in good condition?
  • when was the last time you changed your transmission fluid? flushed your radiator coolant?
  • are all lights working properly?
Walk around your vehicle and give it a good inspection.  This is a good habit to develop and should be done regularly, even if you're not headed to a tournament.

Boat Trailer -

The easiest way to check your trailer is to start at the rear passenger side(the Port Side), move to the front (the tongue) and finish at the rear driver side(the Starboard Side):
  • in what condition is the trailer wiring harness?
  • is the hitch-ball latch functioning properly?
  • do you have the required safety chains or cables?
  • if equipped with hydraulic brakes, is the fluid reservoir full?
  • and don't forget the brake pads or shoes...
  • what about the winch and strap?
  • are all the lights working? any reflectors missing?
  • is there good tread on the tires? including the spare tire?
  • when was the last time the wheel bearings were removed & packed with grease?
  • if you have oil-bath hubs, make sure they are full of fresh oil and not leaking.
  • is your license plate secure and is the registration current?
  • are the bunk boards & guides secure?  any missing screws?
  • check the guide-on roller(s) for wear...
Take a minute to walk around the trailer and look for any loose step-plates or fenders.  We should also look for any sign of zebra mussels or giant salvinia.  These organisms are invasive species and are very destructive to our environment.  The more we can do to control these organisms will help preserve our fishing and wildlife habitats for future generations.


The Boat -

Once again the easiest way to check your boat is start at the rear (the Aft) and move to the front (the Bow):
  • Check the fuel and oil fill caps...are they secure and not loose?
  • Are the batteries accepting a charge?  are the terminal connections clean and free of corrosion? (I carry battery cables on my boat for emergencies)
  • are the hatch-lid gas-shocks weak? (nothing hurts worse than having a hatch door fall on your head because of a weak shock)
  • is the wiring to the trolling motor in good condition?
  • if your trolling motor is not digital, what is the condition of the steering cables? the worm gear?
  • is the trolling motor prop in good condition?  do you have a spare?  is there fishing line wrapped around the prop-shaft?
  • is the bow eye in good condition? solid and not bent or loose?
  • is the bow light in working condition? both green/red lights?
  • are all cleats solid? how about rails and handles, are they solid?
  • on the dash, are all guages working properly?
  • are any switches broken or in need of replacement?
  • is there any slack in the steering? is the system rack/pinion or hydraulic?
  • check the adjustment in the throttle/shifter linkage for slack? (don't forget the hotfoot)
  • do you have enough oil in the reservoir? extra oil? enough fuel? (and additives for fuel treatment)
  • are you compliant with all Coast Guard regulations?
The Engine -Unless you are a Certified Marine Technician, I would not recommend tackling this section as a "Do-it-Yourself" project.  I would definitey pay for the services of a qualified technician to perform everything but the first two items on the following list:
  • remove the prop and check for fishing line.
  • grease all zerts and apply 2-4-C lube to the steering rod.
  • when was the water pump impeller last changed?
  • when was the lower unit lube changed?
  • what is the condition of the hub inside your prop?
  • how is the tilt/trim pump functioning? is the fluid level correct?
  • if you have shallow water anchors, are they functioning properly? (www.power-pole.com/, minnkotamotors.com/products/shallow_water_anchor/talon.aspx)

This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of things to check but something to get you thinking and try to prepare for what could happen.  Nothing takes the place of regular inspections and maintenance of your rig and even with regular maintenance, things sometimes can and do go wrong.  The thought process here is to be pro-active and prevent them from happening at all.

Best of luck to all of you this season.  Be safe, be ethical and be a conservationist.

Michael Lawson
Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World
Grapevine, Texas

Productive Post Season Efforts

The lull after deer season until the turkeys start gobbling and the fish start biting can be a depressing time of the year for the avid outdoorsman. However, there are many things that can be done within this time period that will not only help pass the time, but also help to improve success for next season.

Many hunters have found themselves in late season making a mental note on where to hang a stand for next season. Well instead of dragging a stand in on a scorching hot day in September and leaving behind a warning to the deer that bow season is soon to come, move it in February when it's cool and scent left behind will be forgotten about 9 months later. More times than not, the rub line along a thicket or scrap line along a ridge that was there last season will be used again next season. Moving the stand now will only cut down on alarming human scent left in the area before sneaking in on opening morning next season.

Another way to improve next season's chances is to cut shooting lanes and trim brush in post season. This is very important because a whitetail will not notice as many changes to their environment if they are done before blooming season. Pack in a saw like the Hooyman Extending Saw and trim away the limbs that got in the way last season or may get in the way for next season. Also clear the approach to the stand site to reduce the noise and scent produced on the walk in.

It is a good idea to service your treestands after season as well. Take a twist out of turn buckles and a click out of ratchet straps to allow tree growth. Spray any moving parts such as flip up gun rails or folding foot rails with a protectant like RemOil to help prevent wear from weather. Remove cushions and rail pads so they don't become a squirrel's breakfast. Add a gear holder like the Team Realtree EZ Hanger to make your next hunt more enjoyable.

February is also the time to add mineral sites to your property. This will allow the deer herd to locate them in plenty of time to take advantage of them when the protein is needed most. Placing a Trophy Rock near your stand will get deer use to frequenting your area all spring and summer.

Instead of spending this year's off season sulking, put efforts towards improving your hunting area by moving stands and scouting during a time where human pressure will not effect your deer hunting. This will help your success this upcoming season and also help pass the down time.

Entertainment for the Whole Family

Situated on the banks of the Ohio River, Clarksville, Indiana (www.town.clarksville.in.us/)  has a long, rich outdoors history.  Some of the oldest naturally exposed fossil beds (www.fallsoftheohio.org/) can be seen there; Native Americans set up camps along the Ohio River as it was close to the crossing of the Buffalo Trace; it was the gathering point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of the Louisiana Purchase (www.lewisandclarktrail.com/legacy/louisclark/) and John James Audubon was only one of several naturalists to study the variety of wildlife in the area.  With such an outdoors heritage it is only natural that outdoors giant Bass Pro Shops has built a retail store in Clarksville which bills itself as the “Oldest American Town in the Northwest Territory.”  At 280,000 square-feet, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store is the company’s second largest to date.

Located in the River Falls Mall, just off Interstate 65 and across the river from Louisville, Kentucky, the entire store is a tribute to the Kentuckiana region and its people and, like other Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores, takes on the flavor and atmosphere of the region in which it is located.  Using area artifacts, antiques and memorabilia the store becomes a living museum of the hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor legacies of Indiana.

The outdoor super store features two levels and is part museum, part art gallery, part education, conservation and entertainment center.  Massive log and rock work frame the Grand Entrance where inside, timber skin walls and vaulted post and beam construction ceiling make up the front lobby.   Natural daylight streams through the store through the 50,000-square-foot Hypalon roof structure.

Museum quality wildlife exhibits adorn the entire store including state record fish mounts, turkeys, native waterfowl, quail, pheasants, rams, elk, full body whitetail mounts and bears.  State record mounts are displayed alongside local historical prints depicting early Indiana residents enjoying sporting adventures.

Inside, giant, exquisitely crafted outdoor themed chandeliers, made by Bass Pro Shops own artisans, hang throughout the store.  Dinosaur fossils and wildlife tracks are imprinted in the concrete floor.  One of the store’s focal points is a rock bluff structure that showcases a dramatic 65’ waterfall (one of three) flowing into the 50,000 gallon aquarium which features two tanks.  It is stocked with more than 300 fish native to the area including large and smallmouth bass, catfish, carp, walleye, bluegill, and crappie.  A beaver pond and stream runs through the central clerestory on the main floor. 

Two elevators rise through cave-like structures near the aquarium allowing visitors to see through the aquarium on their ride up to the 2nd floor.

Murals, wildlife paintings and animal dioramas help portray local and regional scenes to lend authenticity and help capture the Indiana landscape.

On the 91,500-square foot first floor, visitors have the area’s largest selection of freshwater rods, reels and fishing accessories, all hand-picked and specially selected for the area, to choose from.  The White River Fly Shop, featuring antique and collectible fly fishing memorabilia, has a vast selection of the latest in fly fishing gear.  Experts will continue the art of hand-tying flies on site and assist customers in making the perfect selection.

More than a fishing store, visitors find items perfect for camping, hiking, outdoor cooking, bird watching or whatever your outdoor pleasures. A gift and nature center offers a variety of items from artwork to lamps, to bird feeders and furniture, home decorating items and gifts for the holidays.  Cooking accessories include cookbooks, spices, grills and jerky making items.

The attention to detail continues upstairs in the 178,600 square-foot second floor.  The hunting department features a 75’ long curved counter which stands ready to help assist customers.  Hunting cabinets are adorned with hand-carved animals.  World Class record mounts grace the walls.  Customers will find an equally impressive array of hunting clothing and gear.  The archery department offers a bow set-up shop and a 25-yard live archery range is perfect for testing that new bow or sharpening necessary skills.

Shooters of all ages will enjoy the 16,000-square foot, walk-through “African Big Game” safari-style rifle arcade with  animated targets.  There is also a theater-styled seminar room which will accommodate up to 200 people for various civic, educational or conservation functions.

A NASCAR department provides 3 car simulators plus all the clothing and items featuring your favorite driver. 

An 11,000 square-foot marine and boat center helps area residents have fun on the water with a full range of powerboats from Tracker Marine--the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing boats.  From big water boats to small fishing, canoeing and even kayaking, customers will find exactly what they need with selections from  Tracker, Nitro, Tahoe, Mako, Kenner and more.  An on-site boat service center with 4 service bays is available for customers’ convenience for boat rigging and repairs.

The store offers Outdoor Skills Workshops for adults, kids and families that will help maximize outdoor fun by teaching new skills and improving existing ones.  They also feature many youth activities throughout the year.

For more information regarding your Clarksville Bass Pro Shops store location, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com or call 812-218-5500.
Visit us soon!
Tina Tucker, Special Events Coordinator


Predator Hunting: A Winter Hunting Adventure

Normally at the end of December most of us put away our hunting gear and begin the long wait until spring turkey season. You might want to reconsider the putting away of your hunting gear as you would be missing the fast growing and very exciting winter sport of predator hunting. You don’t have to spend much time in the woods to know that there are a lot of coyotes in our area. These extremely wary animals are a real challenge to hunt and give a good excuse to get out of the house for some exciting hunting. Winter is a prime time for predator hunting but like any winter sport staying warm is a paramount priority. Not only is there a major need for staying warm but given the extreme wariness of coyotes and their excellent vision effective camouflage is also essential. Whitewater Outdoors Pro Series Reversible Sherpa Snow Jacket and their Pro Series Reversible Sherpa Snow Bibs in either Realtree AP Snow or Realtree depending on whether there is snow cover or not would be good choices for a winter hunt.

 Jacket 1                             Bibs 1

Winter boots are always a must and either Danner Pronghorn 8 inch Gore Tex Waterproof 1200 Gram Thinsulate Hunting Boots or Rocky 10 inch Bear Claw 3D Gore Tex Insulated Waterproof Hunting Boots are a good choice for cold weather hunting. If you are likely to encounter real wet conditions then the LaCrosse Alpha SST Waterproof 1200 Gram Thinsulate Insulated Hunting Boots would be a good choice.

Boots 1                       Boots 2                       Boots 3 

Bows, shotguns and rifles are allowed for coyote hunting but there are specific guidelines as to the types of shot that can be used with shotguns and also when rifles and shotguns can be used. It is a good idea to consult the Mass Fish and Game laws before deciding which type of firearm to use. The Mass Fish and Game laws are also important to determine what the season is for coyote hunting as they have recently changed. A number of different methods are utilized in hunting coyotes and these include spot and stalk (extremely difficult), baiting and calling. Each of these methods requires its own specific skills and techniques.


If you are interested in learning about this fast growing type of hunting or if you would like to bring your coyote hunting to a new level you will want to join us at Bass Pro Shops on January 7 and January 8 from 11:00am to 4:00pm for our third annual Predator Hunting Weekend. There will be seminars on coyote hunting and calling demos by predator hunting pros. There will also be a seminar on the Massachusetts’ coyote hunting regulations by a representative of the Mass Fish and Wildlife Department. Also scheduled are seminars on gun and ammunition selection and the selection and use of optics for coyote hunting. There will also be product display tables and industry representatives available to answer your questions and offer tips on hunting coyotes.


Hunt safe,

Don Nelson

Bass Pro Shops



Outdoor Skills Workshops - July

Come and join us for FREE workshops this year at Bass Pro Shops. We will provide exciting and informative demonstrations with the hottest outdoor products to help you stay ahead of the curve. We’ll be offering educational tutorials to help you understand and improve upon the latest techniques used in the great outdoors.

Workshops for July 2011


WEDNESDAY 7/20, 7/27


Bass Fishing Workshop – Spin & Bait Casting

On Wednesday at 6:00 pm Bass Pro Shops  Fishing Team will be teaching a weekly workshop on Bass Fishing in Colorado. This workshop will take place at our "Super Aquarium."  Come learn all the new techniques used from Drop Shot, Texas Rig, Carolina Rigging to casting a crankbait and spinnerbait. Our team will be showing the tackle and techniques that are working locally and regionally during this weekly workshop.


How to use Fish Finders and What’s New!

On Wednesday at 6:30 pm Bass Pro Shops  Marine Team will be hosting a workshop on using Fish Finders and What’s New! Come see the latest models for 2011 and learn what advancements have been made. From Color to GPS built into to the hottest units see what the difference are and what advantages you get from having these features in your Fish Finder. This Workshop will take place at our Marine Counter.


THURSDAY   7/21, 7/28


Fishing for Walleyes – Spin & Bait Casting

On Thursday at 6:30 pm Bass Pro Shops  Fishing Team will be hosting a workshop on Fishing for Walleyes. Colorado is home to some of the finest Walleye fishing in the West.  We will discuss jigging, live bait rigging and trolling for Walleye. Our team will show you tips and techniques to make you a more successful walleye fisherman.


Learning to use GPS
On Thursday  at 6:30 pm Bass Pro Shops  Marine Team  will be hosting a workshop on learning to use GPS. Our GPS experts will be conducting a workshop  that will help you learn how easy these new units are to operate. GPS units have changed the way we hunt, fish and back pack in the Rocky Mountains. Come hear what you have been missing.


FRIDAY 7/22, 7/29


Beginning Archery

On Friday  at 6:30 pm Bass Pro Shops  Archery team will host a workshop on beginning Archery.
Learn the basics of archery from our hunting staff. They can help you with everything from, draw length, arrow length, picking out your release, and beginning techniques. This is a great workshop for anyone who is preparing to get into archery. Beginning Archery will be held in the Bass Pro Shops indoor Archery range, located on the second floor. If you plan on bringing your own bow, please make sure to check it in at the greeters stand at the entrance to the store.


SATURDAY   7/23, 7/30

*Introduction to Fly Fishing
On Saturday at 9:30 am – noon Our Fly Fishing Team will host an Introduction to Fly Fishing Workshop…
Everything you need to know: Including fly fishing equipment, the gear, flies, casting, rigging, knots, waterways and more ...
*Reservations are required. Workshop is limited to 10 students. Call (720) 385-3600 Ask for The Fly Shop.

*Dates subject to change due to weather and/or holidays, without notice


You Deserve Your Props

Some of the most common questions we get in the boat business are “Do I need a stainless steel propeller?” and “Do I need a bigger or smaller pitch prop?”


First of all I am not talking about 20 foot bass boats with big horsepower or pontoon boats with the flat pancake looking props; this discussion pertains to the 16 to 18 foot fishing boat with mid-range horsepower. The standard issue prop on most of these boat packages is a conservatively pitched aluminum wheel on a 40 to 115 HP outboard and by the way, the boat manufacturer recommends the prop that works best in most conditions, not the outboard manufacturer.


There really is no rule of thumb here. What we want is a fusion of suitable top end RPM’s, smooth drivability (no fighting the steering wheel), and an efficient hole-shot. Keep in mind that the prop is only a part of this. The placement of weight in the boat, the motor height on the transom, and the basic skills of the driver all play a role. Also, there is no replacement for displacement; on-demand horsepower makes most problems go away. 


Let me paint one scenario I recently spoke about with a customer. He owned an 18 foot aluminum deep "v" with a 90HP outboard. His concern was with the hole-shot; it was taking too much time and too many RPM’s to make the bow break over and get the boat on plane. He was not concerned with top speed. I recommended the following: move any “movable” weight to the front of the boat first and experiment with motor height. The 90HP works okay on his boat but it is not optimal so we need to fit the boat to the motor. Moving 50 pounds (anchor, tackle, etc.) from the back of the boat to the front nets us a 100 pound difference which is huge. Also, raising the motor height in most circumstances will help elevate the boat as well. These adjustments will make a difference but may not completely cure his problem. Remember he was pleased with the top speed so dropping the pitch from say a 17 to 15 will cause the outboard to rev up faster giving him more punch for the hole-shot. And with his set up, it will only cost a 2 or 3 MPH loss of top speed.


Stainless or aluminum? Stainless is more durable and does not flex at high RPM’s but it is also less likely to break on impact which could send the impact force on to the gear case causing damage there or to the prop shaft. Aluminum is less expensive and tends to bend and chip easier. 


All this should be considered when choosing a prop. One arguable point is that Mercury makes the most balanced OEM props on the market. Consistency of the weight of the each blade is crucial to the efficiency of the prop. Check out Mercury’s prop selector tool here.


More on this in future posts….


Choosing a Good Hunting Pack - Part 1

When it comes to hunting packs I have to admit that I have what my wife says is a very big fetish for them. At last count I figured I could have a garage sell with just my packs alone and probably make enough money to make my truck payment, but what’s really funny about this is, I’m always looking for a new and better pack then the one I’m using now. The deal is there are so many different packs out there to choose from it’s hard to decide which is best for you and fit your needs. This is why I decided to make this a two part blog because there is so much information I can’t do it all in one. Personally I feel that any time you go out pre-scouting or hunting you should have some type of pack with survival gear and a small first aid kit on if not just for safety reasons. Accidents do happen
Hunting packs come in all different sizes, shapes, and camo patterns imaginable, from small little fanny packs with about 480 cubic inches, up to packs with over 7,000 cubic inches of space that you use to pack in for a couple of days or more. When I first started archery hunting I used a small fanny pack that was made out of nylon, I still have that pack by the way. It worked for a couple years but then I started to find out that I really needed to carry a little more than that fanny pack could hold, so I ended up buying a little bigger pack. This will go on throughout your whole hunting career until you figure out exactly what you need and what you don’t. The main essentials that I will never leave out of my pack are my survival items. These consist of a small first aid kit, one extra pair of socks, a pair of insulated waterproof gloves, some fishing hooks and line, my Katadyn® water purifier and enough fire starter that I should have a flammable label on the back of my pack. If I have to spend the night in the woods I will have a big fire to stay warm.
Choosing a Pack
After thirty plus years of hunting elk, I have only three very simple but yet important items I look for in a pack, quietness, comfortable, and plenty of room for what I need.  First is quietness, when I started hunting almost every pack made was out of nylon or some other type of noisy material that when you brushed against a tree branch you would hear like a ripping sound. Any unnatural sound an animal hears will put them on alert and nylon against a tree branch is very much, unnatural. There was one or two other packs made that where a little more quiet but they cost almost an arm and a leg back then. Now days hunting packs are made out of cotton, fleece or other types of quiet material, so a quiet pack really isn’t too hard to find.
Comfort is very important when looking for any kind of pack that you are going to be carrying around on your back all day. Sometimes a pack looks comfortable so you put it on and it feels good so you buy it, then when you load it down with your equipment it’s not so comfortable any more so you have to take it back and find another one. Hopefully you find this out at home and not at elk camp. When I look at a new pack, I put it on and adjust it to how I like my packs to be and then have my wife or son pull pressure down on it like it has a load in it to see how it feels; you would be surprised at how well this works. I’ve weighed my day pack with no water in the hydration bag or spotting scope and tripod and it weighs twenty-two pounds, that’s why I don’t fill my hydration bag the full two litters, or carry my spotting scope every time I go out. If I need more water I will use my water purifier. Then you have the waist belt and shoulder straps. On a good day pack the waist belt and shoulder straps should have at least 1 to 1 ½ inch thick pad for comfort. On your bigger packs the waist belt and shoulder straps should have a least 1 ½ to 2 inch thick padding because you will carry more weight. The majority of the weight on any kind of pack should rest on your waist and not your shoulders, your shoulders straps should be for support but not the load bearing of all the weight. There’s also a chest strap that keeps your shoulder straps from falling down. I always use this strap because I can’t stand for my shoulder straps doing this.
Now for the hard part, deciding how big of a pack do you really need? I bring two different packs to elk camp, one is my day pack for those one day outings and the other is a lot larger combination pack/ meat pack. I will use the larger pack if we decide to go further in and spend a night or two (spike camp) away from our base camp, or I can detach the pack portion and have just a meat pack frame to pack an elk out. When choosing a pack think about what you really need to carry. Your first thought should be survival gear, a small first aid kit, water, flashlight with extra batteries, and high protein foods (trail mix, granola bars ect) then what ever else you want to carry. After this put all of it on the floor and look to see if the pack you need has to have a lot of little pockets for small stuff, and or a large compartment for bigger items. My new RedHead Spot & Stalk Seat Pack has two main compartments that open like a book; I chose this pack because of this feature. How many times have you sat there and needed something and you had to dig down to the bottom of your pack to get it. With this pack you just lay it down, unzip it and there is everything you need without having to pull everything out and then re-packing it. It has a built in seat for comfort, two side pockets for my spotting scope and tripod, and places to tie stuff to, plus I can put a gun or bow on the back of it if I don’t want to carry them by hand. On the left yoke strap there is a built in LED light and on the other strap is a lens cleaning cloth for your binoculars, scope or even your eye glasses. The dimensions of this pack are 22”H x 14.5” W x 9” D with 3,500 cubic inches of room. I like a pack this size because other then my normal stuff that I carry I take my Squaltex rain gear ninety percent of the time, my Montana Decoys, or when its cold in the morning I can take off my coat and tie it off on the outside of the pack as the day warms up.
My larger pack is the RedHead Enduroflex Plus™ Field Frame; it has the same features as my day pack with the LED light and the lens cleaning cloth on the yoke straps plus it comes four 1”W x 6’L and two 1”W x 8’L heavy duty web tie down straps. It has 7,130 cubic inches of room, the dimensions are 36”H x 17.5”W x 10.5”D. It can also hold a bow or gun on the back and has plenty of tie offs. The main compartment can be loaded from the top or bottom. The big thing here is if you’re not in good physical shape you won’t make it very far with this large of a pack with everything in it that you need for a pack in hunting trip. I did a three day pack in with this pack and I had everything you need and it weighed close to fifty pounds. So when choosing a pack think about what your needs are and then start looking for the right pack for you.

We just covered the beginning of hunting packs and in my next blog we are going to go more in-depth on all the different styles of packs out there.
Mark Campagnola,
RedHead Hunting Pro Staff
Hunter’s Specialties Pro Staff
Montana Decoy Pro Staff

Choosing The Proper Fishing Line

Working at Bass Pro Shops the two most common asked questions are: “Where is the bathroom?” and “What kind of fishing line do you recommend?” Customers are constantly in search of the perfect fishing line – but is there such a thing? There is no easy answer to this question and it's why we carry 86 different lines in our store. Every fisherman has their favorite lines and lines they despise. I personally have tested many of the lines we carry at Bass Pro Shops, as well as many others on the market. I feel confident in assisting customers to find the perfect line for their needs but in order to do so I will always ask them a few questions.

  1. “What are you fishing for?”
  2. “What baits will you be using?”
  3. “What type of reel is the line going on?”

The first thing to uncover is how experienced the customer is as an angler. There is a big difference between a novice customer that will be using the line for all different types of fishing and lures and a more experienced customer that will be using the line for technique specific applications. Certain types of fishing line can be used for various types of fishing, but that does not mean it qualifies as the best option for certain techniques. Other lines cannot be used with certain lures or techniques and will hinder the performance of a bait, thus causing the customer to catch less fish, yet can be ideal for specific lures or techniques. I like to compare the rod, reel and line fishing combination to a set of golf clubs; you can play 18 holes with only a seven iron but you would do much better with a full set of clubs. 


In addition to selecting the appropriate line for your fishing experience, maintenance is a mistake that many fishermen overlook. Leaving line on your reel for too long can negatively impact your ability to catch fish;  re-spooling your line frequently ensures that it is fresh and strong. Depending on the type of line used, I recommend re-spooling every three months. If I am fishing frequently or in a tournament, I re-spool every other day. 


Line is the link between you and a trophy fish. Oftentimes, I see fishermen not catching fish or losing fish because of the line they using, and yet both of these problems are easily avoidable. 


In order to become more familiar with selecting your line, it is important to understand the three basic categories of fishing lines: Monofilament, Braid and Fluorocarbon.




Monofilament is your basic multiple use fishing line. Monofilament and Co-polymer lines are the most popular and best-selling lines. It is the most all around line but rarely the best option if you are looking to excel at a specific technique. Monofilaments come in many different blends all with different properties. Some are softer than others and have less memory, while others are stiff and abrasion resistant. 


Positives: You can use monofilament for most types of fishing. If you only have one rod it should be spooled with a monofilament line. Mono floats, which for certain techniques is ideal. Monofilament has less memory than Fluorocarbon. This line is also the most affordable and is available in clear, clear blue, green, and various high visibility lines.


Negatives:  Monofilament has the most amount of stretch, which can hinder hook sets. Since the line floats it can create a bow in the line, which also hinders hook sets on sinking baits. Low abrasion resistance.


Technique Specific: Top-water, trolling, kids, stream trout, all around setup


Personal Favorites: Trilene Sensation, Pline Premium, Trilene XL, Yo-Zuri


Tips: Mono absorbs water and sunlight, so over time it breaks down and looses strength. It is very important to re-spool your line every few months. Storing your extra line in a cool dark place ensures it will last longer.




Fluorocarbon line is relatively new to the fishing industry, but is definitely here to stay. Fluoro looks almost identical to monofilament but has incredibly different properties that make it a far more superior line. It is much less visible under water than monofilament line. Since its light refractive index is nearly the same as water when it is penetrated by sunlight fish cannot see it.   While fishing in clear water and using finesse techniques, fluorocarbon will get you more bites. Another advantage in most cases is that fluorocarbon is a very dense line; which means it sinks, has very low stretch and is more abrasion resistant.


Positives: Because it sinks, Fluorocarbon is better than monofilament for most sub-surface baits. Less bow in your line and less stretch means you will have a better hook set. Fluorocarbon is the least visible to fish. The line density also makes Fluorocarbon very more sensitive than monofilament.


 Negatives: The line is not ideal if you only have one rod because it can hurt the action of floating baits. If you use fluorocarbon for still fishing with live bait it will sink to the bottom and get stuck in rocks. Heavier pound tests are tough to cast on spinning gear. Fluorocarbon is also a lot more expensive than monofilament line.


Technique Specific: Drop Shot, Tubes, Jerkbaits, Crankbaits, Flipping and Pitching, Finesse, leader material.


Personal Favorites: Bass Pro Shops XPS, Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon


Tips: Fill up half your reel with cheaper monofilament line and tie a knot to your fluorocarbon, this way you are not wasting expensive line that you will never get down to on your reel. Use an aftermarket line conditioner to reduce line memory.


Braided Line


I'm grouping all “Superlines” into this category because they all have similar properties. Braided line is a made of multiple strands of fiber, Spectra or Dyneema, woven together. There are also a few thermally fused lines on the market, such as Fireline, that fall into this category.  Braid is extremely thin for its strength. An 8 pound test monofilament line has the same diameter as a 30 pound test braided line. These superlines have almost no memory or stretch at all and float.


Positives: You can use very heavy pound test lines, 50 to 80 pound test lines are not uncommon, which allows you to rip though weeds with ease. No stretch in the line means instant hard hook sets. Braid lasts a long time on a reel so you do not need to replace it often.


Negatives: Braid is colored and is not invisible and sometimes this can spook fish. Superlines are hard to break if you get your lure hung up on the bottom or a tree. It is more expensive than monofilament. 


Technique Specific: Flipping and Pitching, weeds, can be combined with a fluorocarbon leader and used for a wide variety of techniques.


Personal Favorites: Spiderwire Stealth, Suffix Performance Braid, Power Pro.


Tips: Always spool your reel with a small amount of mono first, and then tie in your braid. These lines are so thin and slick that it will spin on your spool if not tied to monofilament; you may think the drag on your reel is broken. 


You can use your line twice. Once one end wears out, change it to a different reel. By starting with the used end you will get down to line you have never fished with before.


All Braided lines bleed and lose color over time. Buy a green Sharpie marker and cut a splice in the tip of the pen. Run your line through the pen a couple times to make it green again.


Don't spool up a baitcasting reel with braid less than 30 pound test. The diameter of the line is so thin that it digs into the spool and will cause a backlash.


The Latest Technology


This year two new lines have been introduced that have unique properties and I'm still not sure how to categorize them. They are Spiderwire Fluoro-Braid and Suffix 832. Both lines are braided, but they also sink. The idea here is to combine some of the best qualities or a superline and sinking properties of fluorocarbon. By doing this you eliminate the bow in your line while using sinking baits with braided line, thereby giving a better hook set. These lines are ideal for fisherman prefer to use braid for drop shot fishing with a fluorocarbon leader.


The fishing industry is constantly improving products each year. Berkley has already announced a new line coming out later this year called Nanofil, which uses the strength of nano fibers to make an even stronger and thinner line than ever. I can't wait to test this out!




As you can see there is a lot more to selecting the perfect fishing line than you might have originally thought. Each category of line has unique properties that make it a good and bad choice. Certain lines will help you catch more fish while others will hinder the action of the lure you are using. Fishing line is the most important part your rod and reel combo as it is the link between you, your bait and a trophy. Good luck and tight lines! 

5/29 Fair Haven Bay

-Mark Kratz
 Sales Manager- Fishing, Marine, Tracker Boats

What is UPF?

What is UPF protection?


Now we’re not talking about the United Peace Federation – maybe later. We are talking about the Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating in clothing.

 Zinc Oxide Nose

We all remember from growing up (especially here in Arizona) that sunscreen was essential for outdoor  activities. Remember the white zinc oxide nose cover?  Our moms forced us to wear this stuff because it was common knowledge that the sun’s rays were harmful and we have to protect ourselves from them. Well, as much as they try, our moms don’t take care of us anymore and don’t dress us in the morning, hopefully. So now it’s our own responsibility to protect ourselves… enter UPF rated clothing.


A few years ago this acronym, UPF, popped up from almost no where. Is it SPF for clothing?  Kinda. What actually is it? It’s been around since 1998 and most people know that it’s good for you in the sun, but they don’t know the science or reasoning behind it. As we enter into these sun-intensive summer months, let’s explore what UPF is.


The first thing to know about UPF is the rating system. 

UPF Rating

Protection Category

 % UV radiation Blocked

UPF 15 - 24


93.3 - 95.9

UPF 25 - 39

Very Good

96.0 - 97.4

UPF 40 - 49


97.5 – 97.9

UPF 50+

Ultimate in UV Sun Protection

98.0 or more


As you can see from this table, the higher the UPF rating, the higher the percentage of UV protection and that means the more protected you are from the sun’s harmful rays. This is important because we do not realize that clothes without this UPF rating can let these rays through to our skin. We could wear the appropriate hat and the best sunscreen money can buy, but we are still vulnerable through our clothing. This is why it is essential to upgrade your outdoor clothing to UPF rated stuff.


There are a number of factors that affect the level of ultraviolet protection provided by a fabric and the UPF rating. In order of importance these are: weave (tighter is better), color (darker is better), weight (also called mass or cover factor - heavier is better), stretch (less is better) and wetness (dry is better). The other major factor that affects protection is the addition of chemicals such as UV absorbers or UV diffusers during the manufacturing process. Many factors that make a garment comfortable also make it less protective – the major design challenge for sun protective clothing is how to combine comfort, style and protection in the one garment (http://www.coolibar.com/upf-ratings.html). Check out today’s UV Index in your area here.

 UPF Hiker

So now that we have a bit of understanding as to what UPF rated clothing is and what it entails, let’s have a look at a couple of examples from head to toe…

Columbia Omni-Shade Schooner Bank Hat
UPF 50 - $20

UV Buff Headwear UPF - $23

UA HeatGear Tech T-Shirt UPF 30+ - $25

Columbia Omni-Freeze Woven Shirt UPF 50+ - $70.00

WWS Hybrid Angler Pant UPF 50+ - $25


Whether you're fly fishing, bow hunting, or just out enjoying the kids' soccer game... now you’re protected, stylish and ready to take on the outdoors!

-- Richie Campana
Bass Pro Shops Mesa, AZ


Spring Turkey Hunting in Missouri

Montana 2010First I would like to introduce myself, I am one of the Hunting Department Team Leads at the St. Charles Bass Pro Shops store. My name is David and I actively engage in several of the hunting and fishing seasons here in Missouri and in other states around the country. I enjoy the freedom and the serenity that is provided by actively engaging in such activities through out the year.

As spring begins to blossom, the weather begins to break and the temperatures increase, it sounds the signal on the spring turkey season. Spring turkey hunting this season promises to be more of a challenge than it has been in the previous few years. According to the MDC; several breeding seasons of foul and unfavorable weather conditions have reduced the number of birds per acre on average, and as such the large gobblers are more scarce and harder to call in and the jakes are even scarcer and are smaller on average. Though the overall numbers remain strong the competition for food, space, and hens is not as aggressive; setting the stage for a challenging season.

This year's season runs from April 18-May 8th, so now is the time to get equipped and get that essential must have gear:
  1. Shotgun
  2. Call
  3. Camouflage
  4. Permit
  5. Other items that I suggest you take but are not entirely necessary:
    • Knife or Knives for cleaning your bird
    • Camera- to capture that great moment
    • Binoculars- its a great help to spot those distant birds
    • Bug Repellent as often it can be damp and humid
    • Rain gear for those days when mother nature just doesn't cooperate

First lets look at the Shotgun, its the most essential part of your gear. There are a number of suitable choices from brands such as Mossberg, Remington, Browning, Winchester, and Benelli. While there is a dizzying array of choices, just keep in mind that there a a few specific features that make a "Turkey Gun" different from just another shot gun. Most are customized to some degree to take full advantage of the condition that most turkeys are hunted in, there fore they have shorter barrels that allow for great movement and ease of handling in dense foliage. They have more constrictive chokes either full or extra full to maximize the killing potential at the greatest distance possible by controlling the spread of the shot pattern. Many also make use of fiber optic rifle style sights to aid the shooter in aiming and making that perfect shot. Many now also make use of collapsible or pistol grip stocks to give the shooter greater comfort and control; and number one single defining factor is that a turkey gun sports a dense foliage camo pattern. Some of the best choices this season for a turkey gun are the Mossberg 500 series "Thug", and the Remington 887 Turkey Magnum- which is a Bass Pro Shops Exclusive. Both feature a dense woodland camo pattern, with fiber optic sights, and chokes optimized for turkey hunting. The Mossberg also sports a Choate Inc. Pistol grip stock.

The ammunition also makes a big difference on your success. Winchester, Remington and Environ-metal Hevi-Shot all make turkey specific hunting loads designed to exploit the advantages of the full and extra full chokes. These loads maximize effective range and killing power while being easy on the shooter and reliable in all conditions.

Next, we will look at the call. Once again this can prove to be a harrowing experience. To simplify your life there are two basic types of calls, the diaphragm call and the friction call.
  • The diaphragm call produces sound by the user forcing air through either a silicone of latex reed. The diaphragm call will often be referred to as a mouth call.
  • The friction call produces sound by rubbing two pieces of material against one another. The most common of the friction calls are the box and slate.
The diaphragm is most likely the hardest for the beginner to use, as it requires conditioning and hours of practice to master. Then it requires a different call for each type of sound you are wanting to produce. The box and slate calls however are rather user friendly and you can produce many types of sounds of varying length, volume and urgency from a single call. The box call is the simplest of the calls and can be used by anyone with little to no experience. The slate is a bit more advanced and its benefits far outweigh its learning curve. I suggest that even the greenest novice learn to use a slate call as its versatility lend itself to the varying conditions that are often encountered on a hunt. You can call soft and subtle or loud and aggressive, from a simple yelp to a full blown mating call. New for this year and one of my favorites is the Knight & Hale Warlord diaphragm call- quickly becoming a customer favorite. Its a full featured call ideally suited to the conditions that many face hunting spring turkey in Missouri. In the box calls the RedHead RTX box calls are a great value and are built to last through years of punishing use! In the slate call arena there are several great options; One of my favorites is the Primos Jackpot Slate, however there are some others that are great options as well: the HS Strut Lil Deuce II is a great beginners slate call as well as the all new for 2011 RedHead Cherry Friction slate call.

On to the camouflage, many times you can simply use what you have for early season bow hunting. However if your starting from scratch you will want to look at a thinner weight camo clothing that will provide comfort and concealment for those cool mornings but won't overheat you in the early afternoons. Ideally you want to be looking at something in an Mossy Oak, or a Real Tree pattern, as this best matches the Missouri foliage conditions. You also might want to purchase a blaze orange vest to wear when traveling to and from your hunting area. A face mask is also a good idea for a couple of reasons. One, it keeps the pestering bugs from your face. Two, turkey have particularly strong eye sight and your face and eyes are most often the portion of your body that give your position away when the rest of you is concealed.

The permit is just that: the state issued hunting permit that is required to be on you at all times while you are in the field hunting. It is available at any sporting goods retailer and now through the MDC website for an additional dollar. Its amazing just how many people forget just how important this piece of gear is. Its arguably the single most important piece of gear in your assortment. Don't risk your hunting privileges, get your permits on time and guard them like cash!

The other category is where many people go overboard and collect a lot of useless items. You have to remember everything you pack takes up space and adds weight, so pack sensibly. I prefer to keep my other items as light and compact as possible. For a knife I carry either a Buck Alpha Hunter with the Gut Hook feature or a Knives of Alaska Muskrat. For a camera I rely on either a Nikon or Canon pocket size digital camera. When using binoculars I prefer to carry the Nikon Monarch 8X36's. They are robust and have great light transmission for those early morning birds that are just out of naked eyesight, but be careful because you don't want to use them when there is a change of shadowing or prismatic reflection which may give away your position.

As far as bug repellent goes the best thing going right now is the Therma Cell. If you want or require bug repellent look no further; its light, compact, highly effective, and refillable. For those wet mornings quality rain gear is a must. I prefer a product with Gore Tex, as I have had great experience with it. However there are some new fleece materials on the market that are just as effective. Both the RedHead Storm Tex and Bone Dry backed clothes are great, as well as the Storm Kloth branded products.


It Spins and Flies on the Bow

A spinning fisherman from Ontario asks about fly-fishing The Bow River in Alberta

I’m sitting here, writing this blog, when Jarett Black (BPS manager) comes up to me holding a White River fly-rod in one hand. “This is how you fish on the Bow,” He says. I examine the 9 foot rod skeptically. I even more skeptically examine the little plastic box filled with what he calls flies. Instead of effective, first rate trout lures, these look like something I made in Kindergarten art class. He continues to smile like he just handed me the holy grail of Bow River fishing. I smile back and wonder - is he right?

I grew up in Northern Ontario fishing for Pikerel and Smallmouth Bass using a spinning reel and 6’6 medium action rod. This is how I was raised to believe it was done. You used Lindy rigs, jigs, spoons, cranks and soft plastics. When I moved to Calgary everyone seemed to agree that if I wanted to fish in Alberta I’d have to learn to Fly-fish. It was described to me as the finest angling art … a fusion of craftsmanship and sport. They spoke of enlightenment and serenity. To this Northern angler it sounded a little bit like ‘Feng-Shui fishing’.

I’m looking at the White River Fly-rod now and I’m noticing that the reel looks a little like a tire rim. Where is the drag? Where is the bail? I tune back into the conversation and find that Jarett is talking about turning over rocks to see what kind of bugs are beneath it. I laugh at him, thinking it’s a joke, but it isn’t. This is one of the best ways to determine what kind of fly you’re going to use. “I’ve been fishing the bow like this for years. There’s more satisfaction in identifying exactly what the trout are eating and then matching it and catching one,” I start to see the appeal. It must be like the feeling you get when you’re calling for big game and you get an answer. This makes me think that Fly-Fishing is somehow closer to nature. There seems to be less technology standing between the angler and the fish.

 I ask him then about waders. “They’re pretty useful when the water is cold in the spring and fall.” I can’t shake the image of a man wearing waders, flinging his line out, breaking the mist on the water just as the orange sun peaks over the pine tree tops. It’s a powerful image.  It might be from a painting I once saw, but it’s more likely my inner-angler having his interest peaked in fly-fishing. So I finally ask him what he thinks about spinning for trout on the Bow. “I’ve never really been much of a fan of it,” he says then adds jokingly, “It’s sort of a lesser art.”

XPS Lazer Eye Brown Trout Floater and The Rapala Countdown #7 Brown TroutIn talking to guys and ladies in the fishing department here at Bass Pro Calgary, I hear a much different story. “Of course you can spin for trout on the Bow,” Jason Cahoon (Fishing Department Lead) tells me. “You just need a CD07 brown trout Rapala or an XPS Lazer Eye Brown Trout Floater and away you go.”  

I think that a lot of people from out east that come out here are intimidated by the prospect of having to learn to Fly-fish to enjoy the angling experience they so crave. I know I was. But you can take part in the world-class trout fishing we have here in Alberta with the gear you’re most accustomed to using. We have everything you need to get started including opinions on which way is best. Either way we can get you geared up and ready to rip-lip this fishing season here at the store. Just don’t ask us to turn any rocks over, you’re going to have to do that yourself.

Chris Wragg is a lead at Bass Pro Shops Calgary.


·         Fishing License

o   We sell fishing licenses in our store at the customer service desk.

·         Rod and Reel

o   A good combo rod and reel is really all you need. Make sure that your rod is long enough for extended casts (7Ft+). Look for something in a Medium Light or Light for increased sensitivity.

·         Lures

o   XPS Lazer Eye Brown Trout Floater

o   Rapala Countdown 07 Brown Trout

o   XPS Tournament Series 1/4oz Micro Spin – Brown Trout

o   Mepps Black Fury #2

·         Tools

o   Bass Pro Shop XTS Angler Tool Kit

·         Net

o   White River Dog Canyon Net

·         Tackle Box

o   Bass Pro Shops Tackle Box Trays


Launch-Ramp Etiquette

By Monte Burch


In low-water conditions, make sure your tires don't drop off the end of the ramp, sinking into the soft lake bottom. 

At first it was an amazing but funny sight. Then it became serious as we watched the automobile being pulled backwards into the water. The elderly lady was yelling at the top of her lungs and trying to get her car door open while her husband kept gunning the big cruiser in reverse without so much as a glance toward his wife. My fishing buddy and I ran into the water, finally got the husband's attention and the lady out just before the car dropped off the end of the ramp into deep water.   

I've seen a lot of stupid mistakes at boat ramps in my years of boating, and I've made many myself, including the usual forgetting to unhook the boat from the trailer as the couple just mentioned. I also forgot to install the drain plug, and even forgot to hook up the winch and safety chain. The latter resulted in having to re-launch the boat, but I was lucky. I've also seen an expensive fiberglass bass boat sitting "dry docked" in the middle of a boat ramp.

Most pro and weekend bass and walleye tournament anglers are pretty sharp at boat-ramp etiquette, mostly because they have to be. I've watched over 400 boats launched within an hour's time during a Charger Owner's Tournament, and watched the efficiency of ramp "sergeants" at B.A.S.S. Tournaments as well. It's usually when you mix in the less-experienced recreational boaters that problems begin. They park on the end of the ramp, then begin getting their boat ready for the water, hauling stuff down from the parking lot, and in general creating a long line of frustrated boaters. Here's how you can make your day easier, and less of a hassle, as well as other boaters happier.

Pre-Launch Preparation

In the parking lot, before you approach the ramp, or in the case of a long ramp access with a waiting line, begin your pre-launch preparations. First, remove tie-downs securing the boat. Make sure, however, you leave the winch line attached to the bow eye. Install or check and tighten all drain plugs. Check livewell drain positions or plugs. Connect fuel lines, and pump the primer bulb a few times to pressurize the fuel line. Turn the motor key very briefly to check the motor-battery charge, but do not turn the motor on. If it fires immediately, turn it off. If I haven't used my boat for some time I install a water-flush hose attachment to the outboard motor water intake, and turn it on for a minute or two before leaving home, ensuring it will start. Sitting on a boat ramp with a motor that won't start can be extremely frustrating to you and everyone around you.

Move coolers, fishing gear, lifejackets or other equipment you may have in your automobile to your boat. Lay out PFDs and make sure you have enough for all passengers. You may also wish to connect the driver's pfd to the engine kill switch if the lanyard is long enough. If your trailer lights are not waterproof, unplug the wiring harness between the trailer and your tow vehicle. This will prevent damage to your lights and blown fuses. Raise your outboard or stern drive so it won't scrape on the ramp. Next, be sure to tie at least one, and preferably two, docking lines to the boat so that anyone helping you will be able to control the boat after it's launched. This is also helpful in case you're doing the job yourself, enabling you to quickly secure the boat to a floating dock or other temporary tie-up while you park your vehicle. 

Another step that can prevent a lot of headaches is to check out the ramp situation before you pull onto it. How steep is it? Is it algae-covered, slick or dry? Is it smooth or does it have roughened surfaces for traction? Depending on your tow vehicle, all these factors can be extremely important. Determine if there is a dock to tie to after you launch the boat, or will you need to beach and tie to the bank. You should also check out the parking lot, making sure there is space for you to park. Some ramp areas require parking vehicles and trailers in separate areas. 

The Launch

Next to forgetting the drain plug, backing a trailer down the ramp into the water is the single most embarrassing chore for many boaters. Like many other skills, however, it just takes practice. One of the best things you can do is practice, practice and practice some more, in an empty parking lot until you're comfortable backing the boat and trailer. Some ramps are more challenging, to say the least. Some are extremely steep, or have a change of angle where the boat and trailer disappear from view until your tow vehicle drops to the same angle. And some ramps are also multi-lane, which means less space, but make sure you stay in your ramp. 

Some ramps have turn areas at the top. Make sure you don't turn so short you jam the trailer tongue against your vehicle. In the case of square-bow boats such as some aluminums, and on short trailer tongues, you can even put a dent in the back of a utility vehicle with the corner on a tight turn. Regardless, the key to success is to take your time and keep your cool. 

Two methods can be used for launching, without power and with power. How far you need to back into the water depends on the method chosen, steepness of the ramp and water depth. With a little experience you'll quickly learn the best positions on ramps you use frequently. A good rule of thumb is to stop when the step in front of the trailer fender is even with the water level. Then set the parking brake on the vehicle and you're ready to launch.

A properly fitted trailer will allow a boat to launch itself. But be careful on steep ramps because a roller trailer might launch your boat before you're ready. Either have a friend hold the docking line as you back into the water, or secure it to your vehicle or the trailer. It's best to stop, loosen and then unhook the bow eye winch hook just before final entry into the water. One dangerous possibility exists if using the winch rope to launch. If you snap the ratchet mechanism open without a firm grip on the handle, the weight of the boat may pull it back off the trailer quickly, causing the handle to spin rapidly with possible injury. In some cases you may need to give your boat a slight shove to get it moving backwards, but in most instances it's easier to simply back a bit farther into the water. In low-water conditions watch that the ramp doesn't end before the boat floats and your tires drop off into the soft lake bottom. 

Launching a boat by power is usually the choice, particularly if fishing with a partner--one drives the vehicle and the other the boat. You can even do this single-handed on some ramps. I've found my Chevy Suburban allows me to open the back doors, step through the back and onto the boat bow without getting my feet wet. In any case, leave the winch strap attached to the bow eye until you're actually in the boat, then reach over, snap the switch to off and making sure you hold firmly to the handle, loosen the winch enough to unsnap the eye and you're ready to launch. I usually like to start the engine before this step. Make sure you have the engine tilted down, but there's enough water for prop clearance before a power launch. Then apply power slowly and smoothly, just enough to get the boat moving off the trailer. Once the boat is afloat, quickly tie it to the dock and park the trailer, allowing the next person access to the ramp. 


Loading your boat onto a properly fitted trailer at the end of the day can be a breeze; with an improperly fitted trailer it can be the single most frustrating situation of the day. 

Use common courtesy. Don't park your boat on the ramp while retrieving your tow vehicle. Park at a dock, or beach it off the ramp. Loading is basically a reversal of launching. Again two methods can be used, power or non-power. Trailer position is important in both cases. If using power-on the best tactic is to have the trailer in the water just enough that a little power is needed to get the boat in place. This settles the boat correctly on the bunks. If the trailer is too deep the boat can float side to side and when you pull out the boat may have shifted off center of the trailer. If using powered method, center the boat on the trailer as you enter the bunks. This means approaching upwind or upcurrent in those conditions. Use steady but low power for a constant forward motion if possible and you're not approaching too fast. Shifting out of gear lessens your steering ability, often causing the boat to twist or turn on the approach. Make sure there is enough water for prop clearance, and use as little power as possible to move the boat bow eye up to the winch stand. Too much power can cause damage to the winch stand and boat eye, as well as cause erosion at the end of the ramp.. 

Launching and loading a boat can be a simple chore with a little preparation and practice. It can not only make your fishing day more pleasant, but also more pleasant for those around you as well. 


The Basics of Launching a Boat

By Tim Allard

Preparation is critical for boat launching to be a smooth operation.

Boat launch activity can range from placid to pandemonium -- or anywhere in between.  Line-ups and on-the-ramp mishaps can send impatient individual's stress-levels soaring; conversely a vacant launch on a calm day is a welcome sight to any boater. Boat launches are often busy, but they don't have to be chaotic.  Here are some tips for keeping your boat launch experiences running as smooth as the drag of a new fishing reel.


Do Some Homework


A little digging can go a long way when it comes to using a launch for the first time. If you can, it's a good idea to inquire with local anglers, baitshop owners, or guides about the state of the launch. Questions to ask are: "Is it gravel or concrete launch? How many boats can be launched at a time? Is there a dock? Is the launch in good condition? Is there a fee? And if you have a larger boat, does it have the depth to handle it?


Knowing about a sub-par launch is important so you can be prepared, or simply avoid the shabby one and find a better ramp close by. Lastly, you'll want to make sure you get directions -- driving in circles is a pain on a good day, but it's a lot worse when you're towing a boat and pressed for time!


Have the Right Gear


Just as important as knowing about the launch you'll use, is being prepared with the right gear to get in and out of the water quickly and in a safe manner.  It's essential that your trailer be in proper condition, including working lights, adequately-inflated tires with sufficient treads, as well as a winch, strap, and clip to keep the boat secure. If any of these items fail, you might not make it to the launch.


You will need the following gear when you're ready to launch: A bowline is critical for launching a boat alone or if you plan to secure it to the shore or a dock before departing. If needed, you should also have a spare line attached to the stern. If resting your boat against a dock, fenders and bumpers will protect it from damages caused by rocks. If you regularly beach your boat, consider investing in a KeelGuard to protect your hull. Don't forget to carry a spare plug and keys for your boat. Losing either of these can create a lot of disarray at a launch and quickly end a trip. Lastly, always carry the required safety equipment, especially life jackets, spare paddles, a signaling device, a bailer and a throw rope.


How-to Launch a Boat


Phase One - Preparation 


Preparation is critical for boat launching to be a smooth operation. Most launches have areas designated for pre- and post-launch activities. You should always use these areas and never (even if the launch is empty) do your preparations on the ramp itself. Local anglers living down the street could arrive and be ready to go before you are, and clogging a launch ramp simply equates to bad launch etiquette.


Before preparing your boat for launching, walk to the ramp itself and make sure it's suitable for your towing rig and boat. Steep gravel ramps might be too much for a vehicle with low horsepower and limited torque or bad weather conditions might make the ramp too dangerous to use. 


When you prepare your boat, do the following -- remove the tarp and any securing straps (like transom tie-downs). Load in any gear you haven't already put in the boat so you don't have to carry equipment. Check your boat plug to make sure it's in securely and also make sure the keys to the boat are in the console as well. Double-check the amount of gas you have (you should have already done this before you moved your trailer). Remove the safety strap (or chain) and winch strap connected to the bow eye and connect the bowline.  You should also disconnect the wiring connector to the trailer, as brake light bulbs can burn out if the box leaks when underwater.


By now your boat should be ready for launching.  Before you go any further, take a few minutes and go over the launching process with your boating partner (if you don't have a partner you might want to get help from someone at the launch).  If launching a boat with a first time user handling the bowline, advise them to brace themselves for the weight of the boat - I've seen launch-novices taken off guard and pulled into the water by the force of a recently-launched boat. 


Another option (used during tournaments) is to launch a boat with someone in it, so that once they enter the water they can start the engine and vacate the launch to make room for the next trailer.  This is a great option, but should be done by boaters who know their boat is in good working condition. 


Launches that are void of activity make them prime spots for theft.  Phase Two -- The Ramp and Water Entry


This should be the fastest of all three phases.  Slowly drive your trailer towards the ramp, entering the water with caution.  (Note: a launch ramp is not the place to practice reversing your trailer.  If new to operating trailers, go to an empty parking lot and become proficient and confident at backing up your rig before heading to a launch for the first time). 


When traveling down the ramp, avoid sudden braking, especially if you've removed all securing straps connecting the trailer and boat. If the launch ramp is concrete you may be able to drive with all four tires in the water; however, vehicles can easily get stuck in soft-bottomed (or natural) launches, so aim to keep the front tires on land.


Once the boat enters the water, continue to back-up the trailer, at a steady pace. Launches with sufficient depth will cause the trailer to drop out from underneath the boat, and the boat to float away by the momentum of the backing-up process.  If the launch is shallow, you may need to get out of your vehicle and push your boat off into the water.  (This is also the best option if launching the boat alone.  If doing this make sure your boat is secure before leaving the ramp to park your vehicle).


As the boat floats off the trailer, double check that everything is alright with your partner before driving off.  When accelerating off the ramp do so at a steady pace, but be sure to keep your eyes on your side mirrors.  The reason is simple: mistakes happen.  If you've followed the above suggestions it's likely you'll have an error-free launch, but if you've forgotten to unhook a strap or accidentally snagged the bowline with your trailer, you'll see it in the mirrors.  Keeping your windows down and stereo off will also allow your partner to holler if anything is wrong.  Once you know everything is ok, vacate the ramp so the next boater can use it.


Phase Three -- Vehicle Parking and Leaving the Launch


After launching your boat, quickly park your vehicle and trailer.  This should be a pretty simple operation, but keep a few things in mind.  First, off launches can be busy places filled with families and moving rigs, so always drive with caution and be alert for youngsters.  Second, try and minimize the footprint your vehicle and trailer leave when parked.  I'm often amazed at how much space some people use when parking rigs on an angle, not backing up fully into a spot, or several other creative space-hogging maneuvers that leave other boaters shaking their heads.  Third, keep in mind that as often as launches are busy, they can also be void of activity - making them prime spots for theft.  Don't leave valuables in your vehicle and keep things out of site.  Lastly, when parking your rig, make sure you use the parking brake, especially if on an incline.


Once you've parked the vehicle, pay any fees for using the facility (if needed) and get in your boat.  When driving your boat from the launch, keep your eyes peeled for signs regulating no-wake zones.  Of course, as a general rule, it's best to not blast-off from the launch to ensure you don't make waves for launch users.  Also, most launches are close to shallow water; so don't let your enthusiasm get the best of you.  Take your time and slowly drive to deeper water before getting on plane.  Otherwise you might find yourself returning to the launch sooner than you think with a damaged motor and/or hull.


Extra Features to Make Launching Easier


The trailer that comes with your boat will have all you need for launching, but some extra features will make life easier.  I've already mentioned the importance of a bowline, fenders or bumpers, and proper safety equipment (such as life jackets), as well as duplicate spare parts (like trailer bulbs and a boat plug).  Add-on features for your trailer includes:

  • Guide-ons and rollers will help direct your boat into proper position on your rig
  • Cleats and clips to make securing your boat to docks and throw lines easier
  • Coupler and tire locks to deter thieves
  • Transom tie-down straps will keep your boat secure on the trailer

The above steps are some suggestions and tips on how-to safely launch your boat.  To leave the water, all you need to do is reverse the procedure and remember that taking your time and being thorough will often result in a safer and quick exit than if you rush, which increases your change of making mistakes.  These seasons, try the above tips to make launching a boat a breeze, but don't forget to be patient with new boaters while waiting in a line to use the ramps; we've all been there before. 


Accessories to Keep Your Boat Organized

By Tim Allard

An organized boat is more comfortable and safer than one cluttered with items on the floor and thrown into storage spaces. In this Buyer's Guide, I'll discuss some of the basic boat accessories that will keep your vessel organized.


A bimini top provides protection from sun and light rain while on the water.  Covers


A boat cover is an excellent addition to your rig, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes for every model available.  While towing, a cover will streamline your boat, reducing the unit's drag on your vehicle. During towing and storage, the top will protect the interior of your boat from rain, dirt, tree sap, bird droppings and UV rays. 


Some boat cover models include a section to cover an outboard motor, although separate motor covers are also available. Covers are secured to the boat itself or to a trailer by straps, but some custom-made models are fastened to the hull with snaps. Extra straps, hooks or suction cups are also available to ensure a snug fit.


To increase the performance and lifespan of your cover consider combining it with a support system. Systems vary from straps with spreaders to wooden bows and sockets, but the goal is the same; they provide an internal frame for your boat's cover to keep water from pooling on it as well as reducing the material from sagging.


Bimini Tops:  Not a full boat cover, a bimini top provides protection from sun and light rain while on the water. These tops are excellent for adding shelter to otherwise wide-open boats. Most rigs have an expandable and collapsible frame. Tie-down straps allow the rig to be safely secured during use.  Additional bimini accessories are available to ensure your top is a perfect fit for your boat, such as adjustable hinges, tube-ends and straps. When not in use, most tops collapse and fold down, or can be removed completely from their hinges for storage.


Cases, Boxes and Bags


Keeping your gear stored in containers is a big part of staying organized while on the water, as well as when loading and unloading your boat. Three storage options are cases, boxes and bags. 


Storage boxes come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit your individual needs.  Cases:  A waterproof case can be used to safely transport expensive and fragile items, especially in wet conditions. Available in hard or soft plastic models, waterproof cases come in a range of sizes from ones small enough for a cell-phone to extra-large cases with foam padding for bulky items. A step down from a waterproof case is a dry storage box. These boxes will keep items dry in the rain, but may not keep the water out in heavy rains or if submerged.  For expensive items, such as electronics, consider a waterproof case, while for other less costly items a storage box will often suffice. 


Storage Boxes:  Storage boxes are also useful to help organize a boat and can be classified as either portable or permanently installed models, like a hatch liner. Look for storage boxes with a watertight, O-ring seal to keep moisture out. Portable models can be used for carrying first-aid supplies or Coast Guard-required safety equipment. Portables can be better suited for smaller boats without lockable storage spaces, so you can remove them and their valuable contents when the boat is unsupervised. 


Smaller, portable boxes include plastic, or polypropylene, see-through storage boxes that come in a variety of sizes. Known for storing fishing tackle, these boxes can house anything from small hardware components to basic kitchen items. 


Some boat bags like this one are built like a "dry bag" and are waterproof.

For larger boats, permanent storage can be a simple upgrade to your boat by installing a hatch liner and cover. If you're an angler, you may also want to consider installing a hatch liner specifically designed to hold tackle trays (such as a Plano 3600 or 3700) to tuck away tackle boxes. 


Boat Bags:  An alternative to a case or box, a boat bag is specifically designed for on the water use. Like a duffle bag, they may contain removable shoulder straps and side carrying straps, side pockets, mesh pockets, and some come with roller wheels. Additionally, the bag's material is often waterproof, usually made of a PVC-coated material. Most boat bags also feature a heavy-duty reinforced bottom that is also waterproof, letting you store them on the floor of a wet boat.  Note that few boat bags are submersible, but most are designed to stay dry in light to modest rains. If you need a submersible, waterproof container, a case is often your best choice.




Electronics are a standard in most boats today. They assist in navigation and communication, with fish finders, GPS units and VHF radios being the most popular types. Yet, with these gadgets comes a need to store them and keep their wiring tidy. 


Mounting Options:  Permanent electronics come with mounting hardware and accessories for mounting handheld GPS and radios are available.  Handheld mounts keep the units secure during travel as well as house or hold the wiring connections. To increase the viewing range of a fish finder or a GPS, a swivel or swing-arm mount allows you to adjust and rotate the unit for various angles.  The other option is to wire a second fish finder at the bow of your boat and there are a plethora of accessories to help with this task including cables, transducers, mounts, and switches. 


A swivel or swing-arm mount allows you to adjust and rotate the unit for various angles. Wiring:  With a variety of electronics on board, controlling the clutter of the wiring is not as difficult as it seems.  Using a mount for each unit will help keep wires tucked away. Wires can be kept compact using plastic tie-downs, and wiring at the battery-end can be housed in a battery box. Battery boxes secure batteries in place using a mounting hardware and a strap. For those without boxes, a battery tray will serve a similar function when teamed with a tie-down kit. A battery terminal with connections for separate leads is useful to secure several wires to the battery. Another item to help with clutter is an onboard battery charger. If it is permanently installed in your boat, you will not need to carry batteries or chargers to and from your boat.  Chargers also help keep the boat's wiring system tidy and tucked away.  With an onboard charger, all you need is an extension cord.




Boaters spend a lot of time seated while on the water. Outfitting your rig with a supportive seat can increase comfort and reduce backache. When purchasing boat seats, look for quality construction with heavy foam padding for support as well as UV- and mildew-resistant, marine-grade vinyl covering. Folding seats let you minimize their size when unused and a snap strap will ensure they stay folded down during travel. Swivels mounts let you to turn the seats instead of your neck, reducing strain. 


For anglers, pro seats, let you lean while fishing and feature a smaller seat to minimize the space they take up on casting decks.  For the hunter, many seats come in camouflage color patterns, keeping your boat disguised but still comfortable. To help organize frequently used items within reach, consider a small accessory holder that can be mounted to a seat's side or its support post.


Fenders will protect the hull and gunwales from dock's sharp edges. Docking Accessories


Every boat should carry basic docking accessories. Fenders will protect the hull and gunwales from dock's sharp edges. High-quality fenders are made from marine-grade vinyl. PVC models are also available but less effective in rough water and are less durable.  Some fenders also come in inflatable models. Hardware is also available in various mounting options to secure boat fenders.


Cleats are the next item on a docking checklist. Not all boats come equipped with cleats, and you should add some to your rig if you're currently without any. Cleats allow you to secure your boat to a dock while waiting at a launch or getting gas at a marina. They come in high-impact nylon, stainless steel or other weather-resistant materials. 


Your boat should also have enough rope to secure it to a dock properly. The rope's thickness should be strong enough to hold your rig in strong winds and rough water. Most marine-grade rope is made of nylon. The length of rope needed will depend on the size and weight of your rig. 


Rod Storage


For anglers, a fishing rod storage system will significantly help keep your boat clutter free during travel and fishing. A variety of systems are available. Units come in tubes or grooved racks for individual rod and reel storage. Tube units are designed to store rods vertically and may contain other storage holes for additional items, such as fillet knifes or pliers. Grooved racks tend to be for horizontal or overhead rod storage and some feature bungee cords to keep items secure during travel. 


Another system that is effective in smaller fishing boats is a Velcro strap system that mounts to the side or deck of a boat. The bottom of the strap is secured to the boat and rods are then wrapped and secured in the loose ends, creating a snug and customized hold. Individual Velcro wraps can also be used to secure a series of rods together to transport out of the boat.


A first aid kit should accompany you whenever you take to the water.  Safety Accessories


Part of the peace-of-mind from boating is being prepared to deal with an emergency should one arise (whether a large threat or minor risk). Here are some safety items to carry to ensure you're prepared and organized. A first aid kit should accompany you whenever you take to the water.  As a precaution, store kits in a waterproof bag or a case.  Supplement your kit with water, sunscreen and an emergency blanket. 


A ladder that can be mounted on the boat's side is another useful tool. In an event requiring a water rescue, a ladder allows someone to easily climb into a boat. They are extremely helpful in cold weather or rough water conditions.  You should also carry the required US Coast Guard safety equipment, which may include a signaling device (horn or whistle), visual distress signals (such as flares), a fire extinguisher, a throw rope and PFDs.  If you own a boat that does not have navigation lights, consider installing a set or purchasing a pair of portable ones. Lights are required by the Coast Guard from sunset to sunrise and in reduced visibility situations.


General Hardware and Boating Gear


Keeping your boat organized can be aided by several simple accessories, which I've grouped in this category. A tool kit can go a long way to keep your boat organized, housing all the tools, materials and hardware in one storage box. Another great add-on is a paddle keeper. This device is designed to vertically or horizontally hold your paddle, keeping it stored out of the way, but accessible when needed. 


Small organizers, in either screw or suction cup mounts, can be great for storing small, but frequently needed items in one place.  Units are available to hold lures, drinks, hand-held radios or GPS units, binoculars, garbage bags, and general boxes for other personal items. Bungee cords are also useful to keep items strapped down in windy conditions or during travel. Look for plastic hook models if you are concerned with scratching your boat.


The above items are just a sampling of the many accessories you can purchase to upgrade the organization, comfort and safety of your boat.  Many are inexpensive add-ons and it's a satisfying feeling (whether on land or water) when you need a specific item and you know exactly where to find it.


View all Marine Accessories.



Choosing the Right Trolling Motor

By Justin Hoffman

 Trolling Motor
Many professionals believe that the best rule of thumb is to buy the biggest motor you can afford -- within reason, of course.

Fishing has long been known as a game of stealth. Putting yourself in the optimum position for making that next cast (while being extra quiet), can also lead you on your way to a hearty bend in the rod. These two characteristics are what make trolling motors a godsend for the fishing fraternity. Not only can anglers have total control over their craft at all times, they can also move effortlessly from spot to spot, and ultimately put more fish in the boat. Come and jump on the trolling motor bandwagon, and find out which is the right pick for you and your boat. 

The Importance of Thrust


Trolling motors, or electric positioning motors, use battery power in order to propel a boat. The amount of power or strength needed to move through the water is described as "pounds of thrust." This power rating is common to all motors on the market, and is one of the most important aspects to consider when selecting the right unit to match your craft. With insufficient power behind you, working your boat through wind, high waves or weedy conditions can be all but impossible. 


Many factors fall into the equation when deciding on the necessary power needed for optimum performance. Some common questions to ask yourself are:  Is your boat heavy, and what is the length? Do you store a lot of gear, or fish with more than one person? Do you fish in adverse conditions, such as high winds and rough water? The following chart details the minimum amount of thrust required depending on the size of your craft.


Boat Length in Feet

Pounds of
Thrust Required

12 30
13 30
14 32
15 36
16 40
17 50
18 55
19 65
20 74
21 74
22 101

 This chart is meant to convey "normal fishing conditions." If you answered "yes" to any of the previous questions I posed, moving up to the next level of thrust is highly recommended. If your boat, gear, and passengers are extremely heavy, going to a motor with even more thrust would be your best bet.  

Many professionals believe that the best rule of thumb is to buy the biggest motor you can afford, all within reason of course. (A big, overpowering motor can also offer disadvantages if it literally "dwarfs" the size of your boat.)  Choose wisely and weigh all of the variables. Running a motor that is under rated for your craft can only lead to misery and headaches when venturing out on the water.


Voltage and Batteries


Electric trolling motors come in three separate power systems: 12, 24, or 36-volts. To make it easier to understand, a 12-volt trolling motor is run off of one, 12-volt deep cycle marine battery. In order for a 24-volt motor to work, it must be run off of two separate batteries, and a 36-volt version requires three.


A 12-volt trolling motor is the most inexpensive and easiest to run. It does, however, lack the staying power and thrust that the other two provide.  A 24- or 36-volt system will allow the angler to fish longer periods out on the water, as they draw lower amps while providing increased thrust for more power. 


If your boat is 16-foot or smaller, a high-thrust 12-volt model will be adequate for the conditions that you will face. If your boat is any longer, moving up to a 24- or 36-volt system is the only way to go for hassle-free boating.


Be certain not to scrimp and save on the batteries. Buying a high quality, deep-cycle marine battery (some are designed specifically for electric motors) will ensure that you are receiving the maximum power and longevity that is on the market. This will provide piece of mind in case you ever find yourself stranded out on the lake, nursing an overheated or blown outboard motor that just won't fire up!


A bow-mounted motor will provide superior maneuverability and better control.



Bow or Transom?


There are two kinds of trolling motors available -- a bow mount (installed at the front of the boat), and a transom mount (manufactured for the back). In order to install a bow mount, you must have sufficient room up front, as well as a mounting bracket or plate to affix the housing.  You must also have a flat bottom platform to fish from in order to make the set-up feasible.


A transom motor simply clamps onto the stern of the boat and will work with any style of craft.


A bow-mounted motor will provide superior maneuverability and better control, allowing the angler to fish easier and more efficiently. (This increase in maneuvering ability is due to the fact that bow-mounts "pull" your boat through the water, in comparison to a transom "pushing".) If your boat is 14-foot or larger and can accommodate a bow-mount, most certainly go that route.  You won't regret it.


For small boats, dinghies and canoes, a transom mount would be the best choice. These motors work great for general positioning and trolling application -- exactly what they were designed for. Whatever you decide, owning any kind of trolling motor is definitely better than not.


Hand or Foot Control?  


If you decide to purchase a bow mount motor, the next decision to make is whether to operate it by hand or foot. Although both have their merits, trying each version and finding which is most comfortable to use is probably your best bet. The following chart outlines some advantages and disadvantages for both:

  Advantages  Disadvantages
Foot Control 
  • Hands-free usage
  • Easy to use  
  • Can be used anywhere in boat
  • More clutter on deck (pedal)

  • More parts to break or malfunction

  • Slower response time on some models

Hand Control 
  • No clutter on deck
  • Real-time response
  • Hand not always on your rod
  • Can only be used from bow


My personal preference is for the foot-control model, as this allows me to have a completely hands-free fishing experience. Some will argue that the hand control outweighs the merits of the foot. Taking the time to talk to different users of both models will enable you to figure out which is best for you. 

Whatever version of motor you choose, both will require practice on the water in order to become comfortable with them. Once you do, however, the possibilities are endless.  

Shaft Length


Self-directional motors offer anglers more time to fish.



Shaft length is important for optimum control of your boat. If the shaft chosen is too short, the prop may not be sufficiently submerged during rough or adverse conditions. If it is too long, shallow water operation may pose a continuous problem. Finding the appropriate length for the size of craft you own will ensure safe and carefree boating.


The shaft length is dictated by the height of the bow or stern. Deep V boats will require a longer shaft, whereas the shortest length will adequately serve canoes. 


Additional Features


Technology is expanding in the land of the trolling motor, and new features and wrinkles become available anually. Here are a few that are worth checking out:


Built-In Battery Gauge -- Some models of trolling motors have battery gauges built in to the housing or head of the unit. This gauge will allow an angler to quickly and easily check how much power is left in the battery itself, making it a no-brainer for estimating fishing time left or when to clamp the charger on.


Digital Displays -- High-end models are now coming standard with digital screens, complete with readouts of speed and depth. Although these motors come at a price, the technology is certain to put you on more fish.


Self-Directional Motors - An interesting feature, in that it allows total hand and foot-free operation, and will follow shorelines or depth contours on its very own.  It will even steer you in a straight line when the winds are howling!


Here are a few more things to look for when making your final decision:

Composite or stainless steel shaft will endure shock and stand up to abuse much better than weaker metals. Make sure the prop is weedless, and that replacement blades are available for your specific model. Ensure that the mount is heavy duty and strong. The less plastic parts it has, the better. If you plan on using the foot-control pedal from anywhere in the boat, make sure the cable is sufficient in length for the size of your craft. 

Trolling motors add a completely new dimension to fishing.  Perfecting boat control, fishing inaccessible areas and maintaining a silent approach will ensure added enjoyment and more fish for the angler willing to experiment.  Shop around, take each style for a test drive and pay attention to detail - banner days on the lake await you.


Check out the full line of Trolling Motors at Bass Pro Shops.


The Lowdown on Fish Attractants

By Justin Hoffman


Anglers are a conscientious bunch.  We change our fishing line religiously, sharpen hooks frequently and make sure that our tackle boxes are crammed full of all the latest gear and gadgets.  But how many turn their noses up at the bottles of fish attractants that line the tackle store shelves, believing that they are nothing more than a money-grabbing fish gimmick?


Skepticism reigns supreme in the land we call fishing, although the addition of scent to your arsenal can bring about bigger and better fish, and for those tempted enough to try it, the proof is definitely in the pudding.  Read on to find out how applying scent can bring about sure-fire success.


The Rules of Attraction


There are many different kinds of fish attractants on the market.  From aerosal cans to squeeze tubes and jars to jellies, the tackle store shelves are literally soaking with a wide-range of product.  It can be mind-boggling to say the least, but before you buy, you need to uncover the reason for using the stuff in the first place.


Losing The Negativity


Although most people believe that the sole use of scent is to attract fish to their lures, the most useful property scent exhibits is the ability to mask negative smells and tastes.


Never really thought of it that way, did you?  Well, here's how it works.


Much like the strong, pungent smell of a skunk will find us pinching our noses, the same odor threshold can be said for all species of gamefish.  (Mind you, fish may have a hard time detecting a skunk below the water, and they sure haven't adapted to covering their nose with their fins!)


When you think about it, we offer the fish many different reasons not to take a taste test of our lures.  We unknowingly toss baits all day long that have come into contact with such fish-negative smells as sun lotion, bug spray, gasoline, cigarettes and worst of all, our own human scent.  This can cause a fish to turn up their nose and refuse to bite.  Even if you think your hands are clean, L-Serine (a tasteless, odorless chemical found in the skin oils of humans) will always be present on every worm, jig, or crankbait you come into contact with. 


Applying fish scent to a lure will mask or eliminate these undesirable smells, leaving your bait free from repellents and smelling attractive to any fish that happens upon it.


In this case, it's not so much an attractant as it is a cover-up for scents we unknowingly cast to the depths below.


Help With Holding On


Studies have shown that fish can spit out a lure in the blink of an eye. If the bait they are trying to ingest feels unnatural, or has a negative taste or odor, the chances of you driving the hooks home is a very low-percentage game.  This is where fish attractant really shines.


The application of scent will make your offering feel and taste alive, convincing a fish to hold on to the bait for a much longer time, ultimately allowing an angler to "feel" the fish first and then set the hook. 


Much of the game of fishing has to do with feeling a fish strike (the subtle mouthing of a jig or the faint pick-up of a jerk worm), which in turn allows us to strike with a hook set.  Without sensing the take of your bait, you'll never know that a fish was there.

Fishing scent can "trick" a fish into holding your bait for five, 10 or even 30 seconds - this can be downright impossible when throwing a lure that hasn't been juiced up.


If you don't believe the validity of this scenario, try this little test the next time you hit the water.  Tie two identical jigs on, one smothered with fish scent and the other coated with sunscreen.  Find a shallow, clear area of the lake that is holding panfish and take turns casting each of the lures.  You'll soon see for yourself how important the addition of a positive scent can be.


Fish scent is available in many different varieties.  From crayfish to shad and garlic to anise, the combinations are limitless. The Smelling Game


As you can see from the above examples, the use of fishing scent goes far beyond the notion of actually attracting fish to your bait through the use of smell.  This however can very well happen, depending on the specie you are targeting.


For the most part, motion, shape, noise and water displacement are the primary stimuli that cause fish to strike a lure.  In layman's terms, a fish senses and is attracted to your lure long before smell or taste figures in the picture.  Once they get close enough to your bait and commit to striking, taste and smell certainly have an important impact on the final decision.


Fish are a weird bunch.  Some have a finely tuned sense of smell, while others seem to have a bad case of sinus congestion.  The initial scent of a lure can attract a fish in from a distance, but that all depends on what you are targeting.  On a scale of one to 10 (with 10 being the most sensitive sense of smell) here are some examples of common gamefish:


9-10-- Catfish and Shark

7-8  -- Carp

6-7  -- Salmon and Trout

5     -- Bass and Walleye

1-2  -- Pike and Muskie


As you can see, the addition of scent can attract a fish (such as a catfish or carp) to your bait long before they ever see it or sense it's movement.  When dealing with pike or muskie, however, scent is only useful when they have already made visual contact and are just about to strike.


Although bass are in the middle of the pack when it comes to olfactory capabilities, keep this little tidbit in mind:  the freshwater black bass can sense 1/200th of a drop of a substance in 100 gallons of water!  Not bad for a creature that possesses a brain the size of a pea.


The Different Kinds


Fish scent is available in many different varieties.  From crayfish to shad and garlic to anise, the combinations are limitless.


My advice is to select a few different varieties of scent and begin to experiment when out on the water. 

When choosing a scent, my logic is to decide the species that you will be targeting, then figuring out their most-sought after prey.  For example, when chasing after smallies, I will usually apply a crayfish scent to my lures and baits.  If largemouth are the intended target, a switch over to a shad scent can be highly effective.  If choosing natural flavored scents, try to pick those that are made with real ingredients.  Real crayfish or shad parts will be just as convincing as the genuine thing.


Saying that, oddball smells can often be your ace in the hole.  On a recent trip to a smallmouth lake, my partner was applying a garlic scent to his jerk worms.  To make a long story short, he literally cleaned up!  Now, there certainly isn't any garlic growing in the water, but for some reason, these smallies went bonkers over it. 


My advice is to select a few different varieties of scent and begin to experiment when out on the water.  Try to figure out what specie prefers which, while also uncovering the baits they seems to work best on.  Once this information is extrapolated, you will undoubtedly see your success rates rise.


To Squirt or Squeeze - That is the Question?


Fish attractants come in a variety of packaging.  Jars, tubes, spray canisters and squirt bottles - a wide range of options for an angler looking to get into the fray. 


I have found that all work well, but in the case of coverage, the spray canister takes the cake.  The only downside I can see is the wasted scent that is blasted into thin air.  On the plus side, they are quick and easy to use - a definite advantage when the fish are on the bite.


Squirt bottles let you measure the exact amount of scent you wish to apply - a money-saving advantage for the angler.  They can become messy over time (although this is not the case if you give the bottle a quick wipe when done for the day), and have been known to clog up when baking in the hot sun.


Jars are designed for catfish and carp scented baits, and are necessary for keeping the pungent smells in.  (Make sure to tighten these lids down unless you want a horrid surprise left in your tackle bag.)


Tubes seem to be the least of my favorites, as for the most part they don't stand up in the bow of the boat, and the scent seems to be too solid for applying purposes.  Although they may work well for holding stink baits, for traditional scent, they are a poor choice.

Fish attractants are coming into the forefront of the angling world.  With the new advances scientists are making, duplicating attractive smells and tastes equals more fish for the angler that chooses to use them.


Take a look at fish scent next time you troll the tackle aisles - you'll be more than glad you did!