Go Outdoors Classic Events

Join us for some amazing events and our largest camping sale of the year!

May 21-22

FREE KIDS ACTIVITIES - 11AM - 4PM

Please join us for the Catch and Release Pond.  If you have never experienced our indoor catch and release pond before, this is something you won't want to miss.  We ask you fill out a waiver to begin.  We have some events staff here to help you or your child learn how to both catch and release panfish!  We have everyone from wanting to take it off the hook to not touching it at all!  It is a great learning experience for our future anglers!  After you finish make sure to grab a free photo download to share with all your friends and enjoy a free craft (while supplies last).

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At 1:30pm on Saturday only, we will have a local Boy Scout Demo on Backpacking!

We will have some yummy samples including Funnel Cakes from 11am - 2pm and Fried Catfish Samples from 2pm - 5pm both days!

 

Memorial Day Weekend (May 28-29)

Memorial Day weekend will be one you won't want to miss out on!!!  On Saturday, May 28th we will have a couple of local BBQ groups in offering free samples!  This will occur from 10am - 5pm!  Come check out Theslabs.com (10am - 2pm) and JaeStar (1pm - 5pm).

We will also have some free how to seminars!

Saturday 11am - Best Barbeque - Learn how to choose the right grill, rubs, sauces, and best technique for a great family BBQ!

Saturday 2pm - Conquering Campfires, Cooking and More!  Learn what it takes to build a campfire properly and how to cook a tasty meal outdoors!

Sunday - 11am - Kids, Camping & Comfort:  Learn about the proper equipment, tents, outdoor activities, and how to make camping fun, comfortable and exciting for kids

Sunday - 2pm - Kayaking:  Keeping It Simple - Learn the simple steps for fun family kayaking; and how to choose the best kayaks and local waterways.

We are always having some fun events here in the store!  Please make sure you check out our local events page or Facebook Page every so often so you don't miss out on all the fun we have here!  Happy Memorial Day and please be safe when out on the water!

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Meet the Hunting Pro Staff - Chance Patrick

Our second new Hunting Pro Staff Team member is Chance Patrick!  Chance got interested in hunting as a boy and is now an avid hunter and outdoorsman, in general. He shares that love of the outdoors through his Iowa's Great Outdoors program, helping kids and adults experience Iowa's natural resources. 

How did you get started hunting?

I found an interest in hunting about 20 years ago, at the age of 12, and it quickly became a true passion. As a kid, I was taught all of the amazing things that the outdoors, and nature, have to offer. I’m not very singular when it comes to the type of game that I like to hunt, however, the hunting I enjoy most is for deer.  Not only do I love the hunt itself, but I'm very thankful for the food my hunting provides for my family all year.

What’s your favorite hunting method and why?

Archery is, by far, my favorite method of hunting.  As an adolescent, I competed in indoor and outdoor archery and, through that, met some amazing guys who got me into bow hunting. I do a bit of shotgun hunting from time to time, however, the up-close-and-personal experience of archery hunting, and the dedication it takes to prepare and hunt that way, makes it my favorite.

Three tips or techniques everyone should practice:

The number one tip for hunting is safety, safety and safety! Safety in learning about your equipment, and how it functions, and knowledge of the land/area you are hunting. Second, know the game you are hunting and regulations for that game (i.e., the legal regulations for harvesting that specific game, best legal times of the day to hunt that specific game, and the best places to find that game). Third, ALWAYS enjoy Iowa’s outdoors, but also respect all the great things it has to offer you.

Three items you never leave home without when you go hunting?

I always check, and double check, all of my safety equipment, like a working lighter for a safe fire should the need arise, all lifeline equipment, and a compass (especially if you are unfamiliar with the land/area you are hunting). Second, more clothing than I'll actually need. You should always prepare for the worst possible conditions for the season you are hunting. Third, communication and a plan with family or friends. I can't stress enough how important it is that someone be aware of where you will be and when you should be expected back.

Who has been the biggest influence on you when it comes to the outdoors?

Unfortunately, I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was the biggest influence in my life, in general, and definitely when it comes to my love of Iowa’s outdoors. Though he was mainly a fisherman of catfish and bullhead, (which I absolutely love as well!),  some of the best times I’ve had in Iowa’s outdoors were with him at a lake or good ole’ farm pond just spending time together.

 

Chance's passion and mission as a pro staff member for Bass Pro Shops Altoona is to educate people of all ages, especially the next generation, about what Iowa’s outdoors has to offer. Like hunting, fishing, camping, and more, and all of the places there are, and equipment available, to do these activities. Outdoor activities are being replaced by electronics and people get so wrapped up in all of the day-to-day things that need to be done, that they forget all of the beautiful and educational things nature and the outdoors have to offer.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” If I even reach one family that decides to try something new outdoors and go down that "dirt path," then my job is being done.

_________________________

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Tweet us @bassproaltoona
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What the CRAPPIE is going on at Bass Pro?

 

It’s time for Crappie Madness in Sevierville, TN!!!

We are pleased to have Crappie Master Ralph Riley back this year to help us learn everything crappie.

 

Friday, February 5

           Ralph Riley                  7 pm                            Crappie Fishing Techniques                           

Saturday, February 6 

           Ralph Riley                  11 am and 2 pm          Crappie Fishing Techniques               

Friday, February 12

           Fishing Pro Staff          7 pm                            Crappie Fishing Techniques

Saturday, February 13           

            Fishing Pro Staff          11 am and 2 pm          Crappie Fishing Techniques

 

We don’t want to leave anybody out for this event….

Crappie Madness Free Family Activities:

Friday, February 5

  • 5-8 pm                         FREE Photo Download

                                                  Kids Casting Challenge

Saturday, February 6

  • 1-5 pm                         FREE Photo Download

                                                  Kids Casting Challenge

  • 2-5 pm                         Fried Catfish Demos

 

Want to know what's going on at YOUR Bass Pro Shops?? Keep up with us on facebook !!

 

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Catfishing on the James River

Congrats to Buddy Blankenship on his once in a lifetime catch! Buddy was the Grand Prize winner at our Outdoor Rewards Night this past July! He won a fishing trip on the James River with Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff – Captain John Garland. After spending all day on the water they successfully hooked an 82 blue catfish before sunset! Buddy’s catch measured 4 feet in length and a 33 inch girth!

 

Captain John Garland has been a member of Bass Pro Shops – Ashland, VA Pro Staff for 5 years! He has over 25 years experience fishing on the James River. If you would like to take a catfishing adventure with him, check out his website at http://screamingreelcharters.com/  Captain Garland will be at our store on February 20 & 21, 2016 for our Spring Fishing Classic. He will be giving catfishing seminars at 1:00pm both days!

2014 BIG CAT QUEST Like a Pro! 

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Rural Recipes: Breakfast Casserole

Oh man, so this month’s Rural Recipe combines a couple of my favorite things. Bacon and slow cookers. It also applies to one of my favorite meals, breakfast. This underappreciated meal truly tends to be the most common one skipped by we humans these days. Which is sad, considering how much it can improve our day and health. It gets your metabolism going and provides you with key nutrients that one needs. Most people don’t think about using a slow cooker for a breakfast meal, but this recipe will change that! And might just be the tastiest gift you give your family this year!

Breakfast Casserole

One pound of bacon (Cook it, drain it, crumble it)

One pound of sausage links (Brown it, drain it, cut it up)

One dozen eggs

One medium onion (chop it)

One half cup green onions (dice it)

A quarter cup of Parmesan Cheese

Three-quarters a pound of Cheddar Cheese

One cup of milk

One 32oz package of breakfast potatoes

Salt and Pepper (to your liking)

Make layers inside your sprayed slow cooker of the bacon, potatoes, cheddar cheese and onions. As many as you can.

Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the top of everything.

Let it cook on low until the eggs are set. (Usually takes 11 hours, might want to do this the night before.)

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nibbles

Squirrel Rabbit Quail Goose Grouse Crappie Buffalo Chicken Chile Verde Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight Chicken Fried Bacon Tipsy Little Birds Wait, What? Burgers Catfish

Mooseloaf Summer Sausages Deer Moose 2nd Helping of Squirrel Bacon Cornbread

Poultry Balls Skirt Steakabobs Iowa Pork Chop

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Fishy Facts: Tuna

So it has been a while since I got really “salty” with one of the Fishy Facts blogs. In fact, I haven’t focused on a saltwater fish species since April! Shame, shame, shame. But I am looking to correct that this month, with a look at what may be the most well known and most consumed saltwater fish out there: the tuna! So sit back, take a Dramamine pill if necessary and we’re full steam ahead into the world of this amazing fish!

Tuna are a saltwater fish that are well known for their fast-speeds and delicious taste. There are several species of tuna including: Albacore, Blackfin, Bigeye, Longtail, Yellowfin and Bluefin (which has three different species – Atlantic, Pacific and Southern). There are other species of tuna, but the ones listed are the most common.

Most tuna are shaped the same, streamlined and sleek for impressive speeds and two closely spaced dorsal fins on their backs. They mostly vary physically by size and coloring. For example the bullet and frigate tuna average a little over a foot in length, whereas the Atlantic Bluefin tuna averages over six feet! There is a correlation between the larger the fish the longer they are known to live for, but unfortunately there is a similar trend of the larger the fish the more endangered it is. These fish also live in massive schools which can breathtaking to see in action.

For centuries, tuna have been a prized fish for consumption and catching. Their immense strength and impressive speeds make them an awesome sport fish. I had the chance to do an overnight tuna trip out of California many moons ago and my forearms have not burned as much as when catching some yellowfin. (And that includes comparing to reeling in a 175lb Mako shark on a fly rod.) Commercially, tuna are one of the heaviest fished stocks out there. Due to the increase of human consumption we are depleting these animals quickly.

Over the years, there have been several developments put into place to hopefully help tuna populations. There are size and amount limitations on these fish in certain areas. And fishermen have learned what kind of tuna repopulate quicker. For instance, the skipjack can bounce back much faster than harvesting Bluefin tuna. Some people are also trying to farm raise these fish from eggs, much like any other fish-farming process.

When sport fishing became so well documented and publicized, by the likes of Zane Grey and Ernest Hemmingway, there was almost an “arms” race to catch the biggest fish. Fishermen sought out the largest fish and went through grueling fights to land them. Some battles take over an hour’s time. The largest Atlantic Bluefin tuna caught in 1976 and weighed 1496 pounds. But these kinds of catches will probably never happen again as these giant fish probably no longer exist.

Whether a fisherman or not, we must all do our part to help protect tuna populations and their environment. Figure out what you can do on a local level to help impact the global scene. A very interesting read on this subject is a book called Tuna: A Love Story. It can be very scientific at times, so it might be a hard read but it is well worth it.

So here is to you, the might torpedo-like tuna! May you continue to swim in our oceans and be a staple on our dinner plates! Until next time!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish Cutthroat Trout Striped Bass

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September Fishing Report by Captain Jonny Fickert

We have struck GOLD around the islands and western end of the lake in these last weeks. Perch fishing is excellent and we cannot complain as these great eating fish are being very cooperative. Perch are being caught from the Ballast Island area to the G, D, and B cans of the Camp Perry Firing range. Many bigger fish are also being caught west of the Bass Islands in 30-32ft. of water and along the U.S./Canadian line.

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Perch can be caught many places and you should be able to find yourself some open water to fish alone if you pay attention to your fish finder. Look for small "sprinkles" of marks near the bottom or a unique set of humps to determine if you are driving over a nice school. If you do find a good pocket be sure to anchor right over them. I personally favor using a 1 and 1/2oz. perch spreader with 12in. + leader hooks on a 6ft. medium rod with a fast tip. Pair this with some power pro braided line and look forward to an amazing time on the water

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Surprisingly, although small, perch take a large amount of finesse, paying close attention to your fishing should help improve your catch. A few walleyes are still biting at our end of the lake in shallow water. Trolling in 18-22ft. offshore the long beach area and to the east can produce some nice walleyes. They are being caught mainly trolling hot n tot lures flat-lined and J'7 rapalas trolled behind tru-trip 40 deep divers and dipseys. There are still a few fish being caught casting mayfly rigs and crawler harnesses but the only fish for casting have been caught in the west sister area.

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Look for the perch bite to continue to be great and the smallmouth fishing to really heat up. Largemouth and most of the panfish will be slow throughout the month of September but also will begin to put on the fall feed bag soon enough. Lastly catfish will always provide a constant action in many areas. Overall, what a great season we are having and expect it to continue! I see success in your future! If you're looking to get up and fish this year call Sea Breeze Charters at (877)-616-780 and book your trip

Capt. Jonny Fickert

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Spend a Few Days in Matlacha

Matlacha

Folks that aren't familiar with the area may not get the rhyme I was shooting for but just like many other names here in Florida, it's pronounced differently than it looks.  Mat-la-SHAY is the proper phonetic spelling for the name of a small community along the Gulf coast between Pine Island and Cape Coral/Fort Myers.  And if you didn't know you were passing through the community, you'd miss it.  But that's exactly what makes it the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life without traveling a great distance.

Matlacha is a sleepy little town that sets its time by the tides with activity ebbing and flowing with the water flowing under the three bridges and around the mangrove shorelines.  The busiest time of the day is when the fishing activity peaks with the rising tide and the fishing poles outnumber the residents since everyone knows you need more rods than you have fingers.  Redfish, black drum, snook, sheepshead, shark, seatrout, and many others come across the rails when the timing is right but you can look forward to a whole bunch of catfish if it isn’t. A night bite is most popular since this is semitropical and the daytime sun can be a little bit oppressive.  Kayaking around the mangrove islands and dipping into the water occasionally is about the only way to get relief on a particularly hot day.

This is still a small town and you won’t find a McDonalds or a giant souvenir shop full of cheap trinkets that will be broken or lost days after purchase.  Small mom-n-pop shops dot the street for the mile or so through the downtown area, selling things you likely won’t find in many other places, and all of them with a local flair.  Eclectic artwork abounds right alongside the bars and eateries so there’s plenty of things to look at for the visitors that aren’t really into the fishing side of things (although I can’t understand why they wouldn’t be), and every time I turned to look around I spotted another mannequin on a rooftop, a painted lizard, a doll in a rocking chair, or some other eye-catching novelty. 

Matlacha JackSt. James City and Bokeelia are a pair of communities at opposite ends of Pine Island just to the west and they also prove that Florida isn’t only about the big cities or interstate highways.  If you take a day trip over to the actual Gulf shore, the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva provide beach access for the shell collector or someone that just wants to view a spectacular sun set.  Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a birdwatcher’s paradise that shouldn’t be missed either.

Matlacha’s just right for anyone looking to slow life down a little bit so they can enjoy the small things. Watching the pelicans dive, the otters play, or the dolphins herding mullet in the shallows for dinner is the natural pace of things around here, proving that Mother Nature has her own clock without regard for neon lights and reality TV.  Take a day trip or stay the night in one of the cabins or cottages right there along main street, and you’ll find yourself settling into the island rhythm, humming a little tune proclaiming “This is the Way, to Matlacha.”

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Rustic Recipes: Iowa Cut Pork Chop

If you have noticed with our Rustic Recipe blogs, we have covered some interesting eats. I mean we have looked at ways to cook deer, quail, moose, assorted fish, bacon, rabbit and squirrel! And with how restaurants are going crazy with making “unique dishes” (keep that kale off of my plate and enough with the quinoa and quail egg toppings) sometimes it’s better to go simple. Which is why this Rustic Recipe is not going to focus on some game meat or have too many steps to follow easily. We are going with what I have discovered to be a delicious delight: Iowa Cut Pork Chop.

The Iowa Cut Pork Chop comes from the center part of the loin and is usually cut thick. Sometimes it will contain a T-shaped bone (much like with beef). These factors lead it to having some of the best flavor out of pork (and dare I say it, almost better than bacon) available.

To cook these bad boys simply fire up the grill. Rub them with your favorite brand of seasoning. Cook them evenly until reaching proper/desired level of doneness. Pair with broccoli, rice and maybe a slice of garlic toast.

That’s it.

Like I said above with the restaurant industry going all lavish, it seems like home-cooking is going that way as well. I’ve noticed countless recipes where it calls for some ingredient that you cannot pronounce, let alone find. But aint nothing wrong with some garlic salt and black pepper.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nibbles

Squirrel Rabbit Quail Goose Grouse Crappie Buffalo Chicken Chile Verde Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight Chicken Fried Bacon Tipsy Little Birds Wait, What? Burgers Catfish Moose

Summer Sausages Deer Moose 2nd Helping of Squirrel Bacon Cornbread Poultry Balls Skirt Steakabobs

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Fishy Facts: Striped Bass

One of my absolute favorite things about working here are the fish feedings. We have three large aquatic homes for our fishy friends (I don’t like to use the word tank, unless talking about military history). There is a saltwater exhibit in the Islamorada Fish Company. Our Trout Stream gets fed every day at 1:30, and people can even help feed the fish if they are there early enough. And the big show takes place at our Main Tank, which gets fed Saturdays and Sundays at 2PM and Tuesday at 6PM. One of my favorite fish to watch during the Main Tank feedings is definitely our striped bass. Those guys SLAM whatever we toss into the tank! They are extremely fast and voracious predators, and just look cool. And for that reason they will be the star of this month’s Fishy Facts blog!

My love for the striped bass goes back years before I even entered my first Bass Pro Shops. For some reason, I had always been keen on catching this one. (Sadly, I still have yet to.) I honestly think it is their impressive size and cool coloring that gets me about them. They are a longer, streamlined fish with mostly silver-gray coloring and distinctive black stripes. They use their streamlined body to reach impressive speeds, which always make for an exciting fight.

Striped bass are believed to be able to live over twenty-five years and on average grow up to 40 inches. The largest (scientifically) recorded weight for one is 126lbs! (I put in there scientifically, because I am sure some old-timer somewhere has caught one larger than that.) They are native to the Atlantic coastline of North America, but have been heavily planted elsewhere. They are anadromous fish, which means they live in both salt and fresh water.

Pretty much since there has been a history of people living near these fishes native area, there has been a history of catching them. They were an extremely important food source for early colonials. The love of these fish has grown with us as a nation from the beginning and the striped bass is now recognized as the fresh water state fish for three states and the salt water state fish for four states.

Like most fish, the striped bass has several common names given to it. These names include:  striper, rockfish, rock, linesider and pimpfish.

Striped bass are a prized sport-fish, due their powerful fights and delicious taste. There are numerous ways to fish for these, and is mostly dependent upon the area you are in. I personally love the idea of catching a landlocked striped bass while they slam a boil and then catching one while surf-fishing in the ocean. (A boil is a common term used to explain when a bunch of larger fish start attacking a ball of baitfish towards the surface of the water. With all the activity it looks like the water is boiling. Looking for birds attacking a certain spot on the water is also a good indicator of feeding action.)

Many times with these blogs, we have to cover the current condition and any conservation efforts to protect the fish. Sometimes they are not the most opportunistic. But in this case, we have great news and a perfect example of groups coming together to protect our beloved fish. In 1982 the striped bass population had declined to below 5 million. Thanks to multiple sources of resources, effort and support the population grew back to 56 million striped bass by 2007! This is a clear example of how everyone can work together for something bigger than themselves.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish Cutthroat Trout

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Fishy Facts: Cutthroat Trout

I have a deep love for trout. Over the past few years, I have covered them as subjects in my articles a number of times. One of my very first blogs was about them, and they were my 200th blog as well! Already in our Fishy Facts series we have covered the rainbow and brook species. And this time we are going to cover one of my absolute favorite (and on my top “to-catch” list), the cutthroat trout!

Now before you start saying “Yarrgh” and imagining a trout with an eyepatch, peg-fin and an affinity for rum and ransacking stream banks… these fish are not in any way to be associated with pirates despite the name. They get this name due to the distinct red coloring below their jaw.

The cutthroat trout is native to North America, ranging from Pacific coastal tributaries to the Great Basin. Like most trout they prefer cooler waters that are well oxygenated and clear. “Trout don’t live in ugly places”. They prefer gravel bottomed stream/river but are also found in lakes and other bodies of water. There are several subspecies of this fish, some are extinct and others are endangered. Because of this they are raised in hatcheries to help support wild populations.

Not only are these fish one of my favorite, but also are those of several western states. The cutthroat trout (or a subspecies of it*) are the state fish for several places. Those states include: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico*, Utah*, Colorado* and Nevada*.

Cutthroat trout have been known to spawn with rainbow trout, giving us “cutbows”. This along with the fact that many areas have “stocked” cutthroat trout can make it quite a challenge to catch a true wild fish. It may be because of this that these fish hold so much allure for so many people. Many consider fly-fishing the purest form of this sport and therefore catching a wild cutthroat is a triumph.

Like most trout these fish tend to feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects. They are also known to consume smaller fish and smaller aquatic animals (crayfish and such). There is a good population of cutthroat trout that inhabits coastal waters and their diet can be quite diverse because of that.

As mentioned above, there are numerous hatcheries in production and restoration efforts being done to help the cutthroat trout. Due to habitat loss, overfishing and introduction of non-native species that prey on the cutthroat, these fish’s numbers are way down from where they used to be. This has been directly seen and analyzed at one of its most historic ranges, Yellowstone. Before a “catch and release” program was put into place, anglers could harvest dozens of this fish in a day. But towards the end of the 1960’s, wildlife management stepped in and started putting policies into place. All of these efforts and the education of people have been making a positive impact for these fish. That is why when I finally do catch one, I intend to take a picture with it, release him and relive the story over a plate of non-wild trout with my fishing buddies on that trip.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch American Paddlefish

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Rustic Recipes: Moose-loaf

So one of my favorite foods is meatloaf. And one of my favorite meats is moose. So when I discovered this delicious recipe that combined those two things together, I decided it had to be the next focus on our Rustic Recipe blog series. For those of you, who don’t know the flavor of moose, get on that! This meat is delicious and extremely healthy. It is usually a special occasion kind of meat, unless you happen to have a freezer full of it (in which case, call me), so making the most out of it is important.

Anyone who has ever tried to introduce people to game-meat, know that this can be a touchy and delicate situation. Hence why people usually get their first taste of game-meat via a chili or burger. I could think of no better way to be inducted into the word of moose than with this recipe. Enjoy!

Dry Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of parsley

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of ground sage

½ cup of bread crumbs

Wet Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of ground moose meat

½ medium sized onion- finely chopped

2 eggs

¾ cup of skim milk

Sauce Ingredients:

¼ Ketchup

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry and wet ingredients. Mix together well and then put into desired cooking tray. (Typically a loaf pan.)

Bake in oven for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. You will want an internal temperature of about 150 degrees.

While that is going, mix together all the sauce ingredients. After you hit the 50 minute mark, put the sauce on top and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.

And bada-bing bada-boom, you have a delicious treat full of nutritious meat.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nibbles

Squirrel Rabbit Quail Goose Grouse Crappie Buffalo Chicken Chile Verde Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight Chicken Fried Bacon Tipsy Little Birds Wait, What? Burgers Catfish

Summer Sausages Deer Moose 2nd Helping of Squirrel Bacon Cornbread Poultry Balls Skirt Steakabobs

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Giant Bass On Small Water

Giant Bass On Small Water

 

Bass Pro Shops Grapevine was floored recently by a simple text from Matt Scotch, our very own Kayak Pro Staffer. “I just a caught a double digit fish on Marine Creek Lake during a working man’s tournament, taking first place in both the tournament and the big fish category.” The accompanying photographs were impressive, to say the least. We recently caught up with Matt to ask him a few questions regarding the details, and to find out how Matt typically approaches smaller bodies of water.

 

Matt, you have had a pretty stellar summer. You recently took 6th place at the Hobie Worlds Qualifier and 2nd place at the Kayak Bass Series on Kentucky Lake. A double digit bass on Marine Creek Lake, worth a dominating win in all categories, must really feel like the icing on the cake. Lets get right to it, what was your tournament strategy for the day?

 

I always want to get bit quickly in any tournament. I feel getting some good momentum going with a couple of quick fish helps get me settled down, and allows me to make better decisions on the water.

 

For that quick bite I normally throw a Bass Pro Shops Stick-O (TX-Rigged or Wacky). Most of the time I can fool a couple of small fish throwing this bait in or around cover, grass, docks, or right in the middle of open water schooling fish.

 

After the quick bite I look to fill my limit and use the clues I’ve learned from being on the water to try and figure out what the bigger fish might be up too.

 

The day of the tournament I started off on an off-shore spot that I know holds lots of fish, they weren’t home however so I decided to move on and get a limit shallow. One of the keys to catching fish on rocky lakes that don’t have a lot of timber for me is to find wood. I knew this already about Marine Creek and immediately used that knowledge to start boating fish off laydowns and stickups. I stuck with this pattern all evening and it ended up working out pretty well because all of my fish came off some kind of wooded structure: laydowns, stickups, and brush piles.

 

Lets talk about the big fish, specifically. What was that experience like? Without giving away any precious secrets, how did you catch her?

 

The Big fish came off a wind-blown main-lake point. The spot I was fishing had all the ingredients you could ask for to catch fish. There was baitwind which created current, and structure (laydowns and brush piles).

 

I watched several other anglers fish that point but they fished it shallow 1-5’ maybe. After they left I pulled up and immediately went to a spot where I knew there was a big brush pile with several near-by laydowns.

 

It wasn’t long before I felt a tick in my line and after a solid hook-set the fight was on. Immediately I felt the head shakes and I knew if this was a bass I had a nice one. She never once jumped or came to the surface and I was slightly afraid my big fish was just another catfish surprise. I got the monster to the boat really quick, but she was far from ready to give up. A couple nail biting minutes passed by as the big fish made multiple runs under my kayak trying her best to make a fish story out of our encounter. I was having none of that however as I dug in and fought back with all I could. She finally gave in and came close enough I could get my hands on her. I didn’t have a net, and she wouldn’t open her mouth so I dropped my rod in the yak and grabbed her with both my hands and slid her over the side and into my yak!  

 

The experience was similar to other big fish I’ve caught. They always seem to have you on the edge of your seat and your heart rate going a million miles per hour. This fish was no different and I couldn’t be happier than I am to share the experience with so many people. That’s what really makes it all so rewarding. 

 

No secrets here – I was using a TX- Rigged Craw, dragged on the bottom. To be a little more specific it was a Reins Ring Craw, Gamakatsu wide gap hook, .5 oz. Bass Pro tungsten weight, 20lb BPS fluorocarbon, Johnny Morris reel, and a Dobyns 704c rod.

 

Marine Creek Lake, for our readers that aren’t familiar with the body of water, is considered to be a very small lake. Do you approach small water differently? If so, what are some of the key differences between large lakes and small lakes?

 

My expectations probably aren’t as high for Marine Creek as some of the other big name lakes around the state, but I don’t approach it a whole lot different than the larger bodies of water. Fish are fish and they are going to relate to the similar things from lake to lake no matter what the size of the lake is.

 

Like a lot of the DFW area Metro lakes, Marine Creek does get a fair amount of fishing pressure. One thing I did Thursday was downsize my bait. I feel that a smaller finesse approach will get more bites on highly pressured waters like Marine Creek. I don’t necessarily go to 6lb. test when I say finesse, I’m really just talking about the baits profile size more than anything. Small lakes can produce quality fish and I’ve always known there were at least a few big fish in Marine Creek.

 

Matt, thank you for taking a few minutes to answer some questions and share some of your knowledge with our readers. Bass Pro Shops Grapevine couldn’t be more pleased with your talent and leadership, and we truly feel blessed to have you on our team. Good luck with the rest of your season, and tight lines.

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Fishy Facts: American Paddlefish

Sometimes I cannot help but be amazed by nature. Just look around at all the beauty found in the land, plants and animals all over the world. And at other times I cannot help but be puzzled at some of the weirdness nature provides as well. Certain characteristics about plants or animals are downright ridiculous. Any funny-looking animals keep meme-generators going at full steam ahead. The largest concentration of unusual animals would have to be found underwater. And for this month’s Fishy Facts blog we will focus on one such interesting finned-friend: The American Paddlefish.

The American paddlefish is a prehistoric looking fish that is closely related to sturgeon. The term prehistoric is well earned for this fish as some of their fossil records go back hundreds of millions of years ago. They are a smooth-skinned fish that used to inhabit wide ranges of freshwater in North America. Currently there are only two species of paddlefish left in the world (the American and the Chinese) and both of which are considered vulnerable or critically endangered (respectively).

They are named after the characteristic front snout (or rostrum) that is shaped like a paddle. This rostrum is loaded with sensory receptors that are key for finding their main food source. The paddlefish’s main diet consists of zooplankton. They are filter-feeders, so they will swim around with their mouths wide open collecting their microscopic meals.

American paddlefish were once common throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Due to habitat loss, pollution and overfishing their numbers are significantly depleted. Their once native range has been reduced to being found in only twenty-two states and are protected in all of them.

Fishing for paddlefish is still legal, just where sustainable. Some areas rely on governmental restocking programs to keep these fish present. While these fish eat the most miniscule of food, they grow quite large and are impressive fighters. (You would have to be, to survive millions of years of sharing water.) But because they are filter feeders, paddlefish will not go after baits or lures. (Have you ever tried hooking into zooplankton?) Fisherman actually try to snag their targets in order to catch them. In several states the record for these fish is well over 120 pounds! In fact, the largest on record catching of an American paddlefish was about 200 pounds and over 6 feet long!

Huge efforts have come into place to keep the paddlefish around. They are commonly raised to keep their numbers going. They are also sources of consumption, for both their meat and caviar. Because of this they are also raised in other parts of the world, including China.

Of course without knowledge, there can be no education. Many people have become more aware of these magnificent fish lately. Paddlefish are becoming more and more common in aquariums as an example of why we must protect our most precious resources.  

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch

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Amazing Wallye Fishing on Lake Erie

            

I'd say fishing is as hot as the weather is! What a great June we have had with many BIG hawgeye walleye in the mix along with many sublegal fish also. As we move into July down here on the western end of Lake Erie, it is great to look back and see what kind of a great season this is shaping up to be. The big target species, walleye, have been biting excellent this year and are filling up coolers with lots of big fish.

Over the last month fishing has been phenomenal and I do not see a reason for it to slow down. Walleye are scattered out over a wide area ranging from the NW side of West Sister all the way to the Islands, up along the U.S./Canadian line. With smaller, good eating fish, in the 15-22 inch range scattered over a wide area it leaves hope that there will be a good walleye bite into July. These fish will continue to feed in the open water areas they are in now for a majority of the season, as some of the other fish will move up on the reefs to find a quick snack. With great bug hatches in June the walleye have been feeding heavily and are all over the place in the open deeper mud bottom areas. Casting any gold bladed worm harness, lead by a 3/4 oz. egg sinker should get you a few bites if you are casting. Many will move to trolling to cover some water this time of year moving to mostly spoons on tru-trip divers run at a variety of depths. I prefer Yeck spoons in any pinks and purples. Other than great walleye fishing as always there are many other species to tug on your line, such as bass, catfish, and panfish will also continue to bite well through July.

            

Bass fishing has also been great this year for largemouth and smallmouth in a variety of locations. Largemouth fishing should continue to be a top pick and tossing a frog in shallow areas in the mornings and evenings will get you some good fun! White bass will also begin to bite on piers and rocky shores in the morning and evening as they push the bait fish to the shore for easy, fast fishing. Cat fishing will also be great on any given evening or night basically anywhere that there is water. In other words, Lake Erie is not going to let you down if your want to spend some time fishing. If you're looking to get up and fish this year, swing by Bass Pro Shops in Rossford, Ohio for all the equipment you will need and call Sea Breeze Charters at (877)616-7780 and book your trip with me!

Capt. Jonny Fickert

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Rustic Recipes: Skirt Steak-abobs!

One of my favorite things about summer is all the flavors that come with it! Those flavors are attached to some of my favorite food, like anything from the grill. And the grill has some of my most favorite sounds and smells attached to it. It is all one delicious circle that keeps me heading out and firing up the grill despite the 100 plus degree heat.

The other thing I love is how healthy grilling can be! It is way healthier to throw a fresh cut of meat or thing of veggies on the grill than just zapping them in the microwave. And instead of frying up fish, try searing it! Still tastes great but with way less calories! I am a big fan of fajitas but also a big fan of using less dishes. So that is why kabobs hold a special place in my heart, because when you think about it… they are kind of like fajitas on a stick.

Kabobs are an awesome choice because of the wide variety of options you can go with. Almost any cooking cuisine can be put on a stick and grilled up to tasty perfection. It is a great way to get fresh veggies into your diet, and a great way to include seasonal veggies as well. Any kind of meat works great on them and so your options are almost endless!

A while back I decided to bust out the ol’ skewers and made up a batch of Skirt Steak-abobs! They were so good that they will be the flavor for this month’s Rustic Recipe.

Skirt Steak-abobs:

2 pounds Skirt Steak

2 Green Bell Peppers

1 Red Bell Pepper

1 Yellow Bell Pepper

1 Orange Bell Pepper

1 Onion

Garlic Salt

Olive Oil

This recipe will make about eight kabobs. I like to use metal skewers as they are reusable and you don’t have to spend 30 minutes pre-soaking them like you would with wooden skewers.

First wash all the peppers. Then core them. Cut up each pepper into multiple “squares” or pieces. You will want to keep everything about the same size so it cooks evenly. I like to have all of the veggies ready before I start sliding them onto the skewer.

Then cut up the onion into similar sized pieces as the bell peppers.

Season the skirt steak how you would like it and then cut up into pieces. I love skirt steak. The flavor and tenderness of it is amazing. It goes great on the grill, and since it is a thinner cut it doesn’t take that long to cook. This is nice because you won’t burn your veggies waiting for the meat to cook.

Then start loading up each kabob. I like to start and end with veggies. It adds color and if it falls off, I won’t be as upset as if I wasted steak.

Once each kabob is loaded, sprinkle garlic salt over everything and then lightly drizzle the olive oil over it.

Fire up the grill and turn it to about medium-heat. Toss down the kabobs and turn as needed.

Once ready, take them off and let them sit for a few minutes. Those metal skewers get up to high-heat and you don’t want anyone burning their fingers on them.

And there you have it! Skirt Steak-abobs! Enjoy!

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nibbles

Squirrel Rabbit Quail Goose Grouse Crappie Buffalo Chicken Chile Verde Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight Chicken Fried Bacon Tipsy Little Birds Wait, What? Burgers Catfish

Summer Sausages Deer Moose 2nd Helping of Squirrel Bacon Cornbread Poultry Balls

From Our Restaurant

Grouper Sandwich Appetizers Clam strips Mussels Trout Gator Wahoo Wrap Shore Lunch

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Rustic Recipes: Smoked Fish Dip

So while running through my long running blog series about recipes and cooking, I noticed a couple things. One, I don’t have that many appetizers. Two, not that many fish recipes either. What the Hey-Howdy-Hey?! I know. So to start to cure both of those issues, I decided this month we should take a look at a delicious fish-appetizer recipe. Now our IFC next door serves a world-class smoked wahoo dip (and sandwich), but I’d put this dip to the test against almost anyone! Let’s see if you agree. (This recipe calls for smoked whitefish, but any smoked fish would work.)

NOT THAT KIND OF SMOKED FISH!!!!

Smoked Fish Dip

Two Cups- Smoked Whitefish, flaked

Two Tablespoons- Mayonnaise, fat-free

Four Tablespoons- Sour Cream, fat-free

Four Drops- Hot Pepper Sauce

Three Drops- Worcestershire Sauce

One Pinch- Old Bay Seasoning

To Taste- Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until a spread-like consistency is reached.

The thing I like about this dish is how easy it is and how versatile it is. I am having a hard time thinking of when it would ever be inappropriate to bring or serve some delicious smoked fish dip at a party or shindig. And considering how far we have come over the past few years with cracker choices, the possibilities are endless.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nibbles

Squirrel Rabbit Quail Goose Grouse Crappie Buffalo Chicken Chile Verde Venison Stew

Hunter’s Delight Chicken Fried Bacon Tipsy Little Birds Wait, What? Burgers Catfish

Summer Sausages Deer Moose 2nd Helping of Squirrel Bacon Cornbread Poultry Balls

From Our Restaurant

Grouper Sandwich Appetizers Clam strips Mussels Trout Gator Wahoo Wrap Shore Lunch

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Take A Couple Hours: Urban Fishing

So I am a pretty big Elvis fan, especially considering that I wasn’t alive for the Cold War. One of his songs, Vivas Las Vegas, always gets me going. And there are a few lines of lyrics that I absolutely love. “How I wish that there were more than the twenty-four hours in the day. Even if there were forty more, I wouldn't sleep a minute away”. Now of course in the song he is singing about the night life and bright lights of Las Vegas. And that is quite a boast, that Elvis would in fact spend the entire time available to enjoy the city. But then I get to thinking about those lyrics and how it applies to me. For many of us, if we had forty more hours in a day it would probably be spend working or taking care of tasks. Which is a big reason why so many people are stressed out and stretched to their limits. But a little while back all I needed to reset the clock of my sanity was take a couple hours and put it towards something besides work. It was the best thing ever.

Now that day I started work at a later time than usual, so I got to sleep in a little longer. The extra rest helped. I did get up in time though to hit the gym as well. Getting my blood going also improved the day. But before the trek down to work I decided to hit up an urban lake just down the street from me. It was awesome.

The lake itself is about 2 acres big and only 8 feet deep, so not the biggest. This lake had recently become part of the “Community Waters Program” in our state and had been receiving more attention from our Game and Fish Department. It holds catfish, carp, sunfish, largemouth bass and is stocked with trout during the cooler seasons. Knowing this and wanting to increase my odds as best as possible, I went with a trusty ol’ all-purpose bait: Mepps Agila Gold #2 in-line spinner. (Yup that same bait I talked about month’s ago in that Tie One On Blog.) Using this lure I began my attack.

I started at one spot and just started casting. Slowly retrieving the lure back, I hoped to entice something to bite. I would fan out and cast in all directions possible, at least a few times, before moving to the next spot. There were some other fishermen, so I was sure not to disturb or intrude on them. There were also some very lovely trees that I needed to avoid as well. But over the process of a couple hours I did make it around the entire lake.

One thing I am always sure to do is pick up trash. If I see something on the ground that does not belong, I am sure to properly dispose of this. I pulled out a few food wrappers, bunch of fishing line, couple plastic bags and other assorted junk. As soon as I pulled it out, it was straight to the trash can. Considering the size of the lake, it was pretty clear to the others enjoying the park and lake that I was doing my fair share. I hoped that it would inspire others to do the same. The weirdest thing I pulled out will be pictured below. Considering that the lake is inside a popular park it makes sense that something like that would end up at the bottom of the lake. But considering that we need to do all that we can for nature, I made sure it ended up in a proper place.

That’s right, a kite.

As usual with urban lakes and parks, there were plenty of birds to enjoy watching as well. There were all sorts of ducks and some geese as well. It was funny watching some kids chase the pigeons around as well. But what was really cool was up in a pine tree.

Can’t see it? How about a little bit closer of a look?

Three baby owls! Totally tight! Just hanging out. Lookin’ all cute and whatnot. I wouldn’t have noticed it until I saw a bunch of people pointing up at the tree.

As far as the fishing went, it was not what most people would brag about. One little largemouth bass.

But I’ll tell you what, that one fish made my day. I’m not much of a bass fisherman, and have only caught six, now seven, over my fishing career started in my youth. In fact the last bass I had caught would have been over a decade ago. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t catch a dozen or a giant lunker, or that I caught one at all. It just mattered that I got out. Just look at that big ol’ dumb smile on me.

Who knows what kind of an adventure you’ll have when you just take a couple hours.

-Giddy-Up!!

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Gone Fishing Event 2015- Mesa, AZ

So on May 25th, the Go Outdoors Event came to an end here at Bass Pro Shops- Mesa, AZ. And what a great time it was! We had some awesome seminars, amazing demonstrations and sampling, fun and free activities and much more! Of course one of the biggest turnouts was for our Catch and Release Pond! I have said it a number of times before, but this is one of the coolest things we do at our store. We set up an above-ground pond and fill it full of fish for the next generation to catch. And a lot of the time, the fish they catch here are the very first ones some kids catch! Well for those of you who missed it during the Go Outdoors Event, do not worry! We are going to be holding a brand new event later this month!

On the weekend of June 13th and 14th and the following weekend, June 20th and 21st we are busting out our Gone Fishing Event! And it is going to be loaded with the ever excellent FUN and FREE activities! Here is the game plan below:

Catch and Release Pond – Noon to 5PM both weekends. As usual, participants under the age of 18 will have to have a parent/legal guardian sign a waiver. This past event we had some awesome and big ol’ catfish in our pond. One of them was at least eight pounds and we even had two albinos! (The infamous El Gatos Blancos!) And what is cool for this event, is that kids who catch their first fish ever at our pond will get a “First Fish Certificate”!

Free Photo Download- Noon to 5PM both weekends. Kids can take a picture with the fish they caught that day! We will also have our replica bluegill for kids to hold if they do not want to catch a fish or don’t catch one.

Get Ready, Get Set, FISH! Seminars- All four seminars will be held every day of the event.

11AM- Gone Fishing- Best local destinations for group fishing

1PM- Fishing- The Reel Thing. Choosing the best reel for adults/kids.

2PM- Fishing- Anyone Can Do It! Best equipment for taking friends or family fishing for the first time.

3PM- Go Fish- Batteries Not Required. Info on how to make fishing fun for kids.

Rod & Reel Donations- Remember way back when for the Spring Fishing Classic when we held that HUGE rod and reel trade in! Well on June 22nd these will be donated to a local non-profit organization.

Video Game Trade-In – In an effort to help kids get outside, we are going to have a video game trade-in. Bring in any old video game on any day during the event and receive a $5 OFF Coupon on a new Rod/Reel Combo that is valued at $19.99 or more. One coupon per customer and coupon will expire at the end of the day on June 21st.

Fishing 101 Booklet- We will also have a number of free fishing booklets designed for the beginner fisherman.

Gone Fishing Door Hanger- For the first 100 customers to visit the Fishing Department each day of the event, we will be handing out free “Gone Fishing” door hanger signs.

We hope to see you there!

-Giddy-Up!!

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Fishy Facts: Yellow Perch

To me there are a few quintessential “Americana-esque” images of the outdoors. One being that of those old Chris-Craft boats being rented by lake tourists. Another would be a hunter in the woods wearing a buffalo-patterned shirt, making us wonder if camo really matters. And the last would be a canoe beached on the shore with a hole stringer of yellow perch hanging on it. For some reason yellow perch always just make me think of simpler times, which makes sense because these fish have been a delight for generations to catch. While many focus on the all-mighty largemouth bass or the crazy-fast swordfish, I’d like to slow my roll for this month’s Fishy Facts and take a look at the classic Yellow Perch.

The yellow perch is a freshwater fish native to North America. It does have a cousin across the pond in Europe, but the two are considered separate species. The perch is well known for its distinctive yellow coloring with large dark triangles along their body. Their fins are a touch lighter with orange accents in them. They may not be the “flashiest” fish in the water, but they are quite beautiful to look at.

Yellow perch usually live from nine to ten years of age. Some studies have shown that the northern populations of these fish do grow larger and live longer lives when compared to the southern populations. While they are native in certain parts of North America, they have also been introduced into many more bodies of water. This happened for a few reasons. One being for recreational and commercial fishing purposes and the other to act as food for bass and walleye. Perch patterned baits are common for walleye fisherman, and when on a trip to Canada my stepdad was sure to take some with him.

I do believe it is a rite of passage for kids in the Midwest to catch perch. Scientific studies have not been done, but from what I understand it is so. In fact one of our Front End Leads grew up in the Midwest. I talked a little bit to him about perch and you could see how happy he was recalling catching them growing up. Like I said above, they have been delighting anglers for generations. In fact, the yellow perch is the longest standing record for freshwater fish caught in North America. The fish was caught in New Jersey all the way back in 1865! It weighed 4 pounds 3 ounces and measured 18 inches long. Just think about that, the yellow perch record has not been broken since the Civil War was ending!

Not only have anglers been enjoying yellow perch for decades, but so have diners. They are considered one of the finest flavored of the panfish and are loved for their delicious flavor. This is one of those fish that does not need to be breaded to be enjoyed.

There are many different ways to fish for yellow perch. You can use still bait or action baits, depending on your and the fishes mood for effort that day. Worms, crickets and minnows are extremely common baits and because of this most “perch lures” resemble them. They are a schooling fish and known for their voracious feeding habits, so if you bump into one get ready for a bunch more.

No matter what fish you are really hooked on catching, all fishermen should be able to appreciate and delight in catching the always-in-fashion on line or on a plate, yellow perch.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

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