Rustic Recipes: Squirrel

So when it came to Anchorman 2 I was rather disappointed.  I was in high school when the first came out, and just like any young man at that time absolutely loved it. You couldn’t go a day without quoting it. Sometimes only an hour. Anchorman 2, not so much. But by far the best part of that movie was when they were getting the group back together and Champ had his own fried-chicken shop. He let it slip that he actually used bats instead of chicken for the food. He referred to them as “Chicken of the caves”. And then later referred to cats as “chicken of the railroad”. But this month’s recipe will actually feature the “chicken of the trees” the honorable squirrel.

Country-fied Squirrel

2 cups of Water

2 squirrels

6 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

Flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

Start heating the oil in a skillet, make sure you have a lid for that skillet.

After cutting the squirrels up into small bites, add salt and pepper to taste. Then roll these bites in flour.

Toss the squirrel into the skillet and fry until golden.

Remove the squirrel and drain the oil from the skillet.

Return the squirrel to the skillet and add the water. Cover and lower heat. Let cook for an hour.

And enjoy!

 I might suggest not telling your guests what it is until they comment on how good it is!

-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

From Our Restaurant

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

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Fishy Facts: Common Snook

In the effort to break up the alliteration of Fishy Fact blogs starting with the letter B (brook trout, bowfishing, billfish, bowfin, bull shark) we are going to the letter that follows it! We are also getting out of the freshwater realm for the first time in a number of months. April is a month for change right? Sure. Any who, let’s take a closer look at the common snook!

First off, you would be surprised at how many times I have used the “Add to Dictionary” feature on “misspelled” words according to Microsoft Word. Maybe they should get some more fishermen and hunters involved for their next platform, because it’s getting ridiculous.

Second any who for this blog, a record, the common snook is a prized saltwater game fish. It is also called robalo and the sergeant fish. There are several species of snook, and this one is one of the largest. They can grow to over four and a half feet but are more commonly found at three feet shorter than that.

I remember hearing that the uglier the fish (or at least the less colorful) the better it tastes. Now I am not calling the common snook ugly, but its coloring is quite drab. It has a grayish-silver color to most of its body, except the long black line that runs lengthwise on its body. During the spawning season though, some of its fins will turn a bright yellow.

If that rumor is to be believed about taste and appearance, it holds true for the common snook. It is a delicious fish but special preparation must be taken. Remove the skin before cooking otherwise an unpleasant taste will occur.

Beyond their desirability for taste, these fish put up a great fight! My best friend’s dad caught some down in Florida and loved every second of it. He loved it so much; he bought car-magnets of the fish and added them to his ride.

These fish tend to spawn from April to October. The common snook will move out of the open-ocean and into near-shore waters with high salinity. After the young are born they mature into juveniles and move towards more brackish water. Slowly but surely they eventually move out into the open ocean and continue the circle of life.

Snook are predators. They will opportunistically take on prey, but what is cool is that their prey changes with them. As snook grow larger they will actually start pursuing larger prey. They simply want to pursue prey that will provide them the most nutrition. Any reports of cannibalism with these fish are few and far between.

These fish are preyed upon by larger fish and other marine predators. Once of their biggest killers though is weather. These fish are very susceptible to changes in temperature. In 2010 there was a large cold snap in the snooks’ native range. In one area of Florida it was estimated that close to 97% of the snook population died because of it. Luckily a ban on commercial snook fishing took place and fishermen began to strictly practice catch-and-release fishing on them. This helped the population grow and has allowed the ban to be lifted. There will be another study done on their population this year.

People love their snook and will do what it takes to keep them around. This should be an example for all sportsmen. Conservation must come first, as without it we won’t have anything left.

-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

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Who Stole Spring?

See our online selection of fishing products at basspro.com.

Ok, just one question. Who stole Spring?  It seems I remember snow, sleet and cold blowing  rain just a moment ago.  I'm not Rip Van Winkle. I didn't sleep through it.  It's late March and it's 84 degrees outside.  Spring is supposed to have brisk mornings followed by brilliant rays of sunshine that melt away the gloom of Winter, not cranking the air conditioner to full blast to fend off the heat.

  What does this have to do with fishing? Well, pretty much everything at this time of year.  The four most popular fish, largemouth bass, crappie, sandbass/hybrids,and catfish use the cool of Spring to do their spawning.  If the water temperatures soar above the optimal for our favorite species, they will most likely have an abbreviated spawn. What does that mean?

First, and most importantly, it means if you want to catch fish during their spawn you better get cracking.  The largemouths were just beginning to get into their pre-spawn patterns when that frozen blast knocked the bottom out of water temps. It also caused the the water  to rise into places it hasn't been in three to four years. Combine these conditions and just when poor mama bass was just about ready to drop her eggs and go into defensive mode  Mother nature threw her a curve.  It also muddied up the water in the areas they prefer to lay their eggs. These thee factors changed not only where you might want to look for them, but what you might use to catch them.

  Lots of folks traditionally creep lizards or crawfish soft plastics through likely places. With the water deeply stained by sediment  you pretty much have to hit that big spawning female right in the nose to get her to react.  So far this season we're getting  good reports from fishers who've added lures that both represent nest poachers and either vibrate or click to their usual collection of "normal" Spring offerings. If you let the fish know that potential danger is near the nest with bass jigs with rattlechambers, like the Bass Pro Shops Rattling Enticer  Jig  you will surely let that trophy bass have something to zero in on.  You can also try slow rolling a colorado-bladed spinnerbait around fairly shallow, stained water, that  is close to cover and deeper water. A couple of good choices in spinnerbaits are the Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Tandem Spinnerbait or  add a selection from Booyah Spinnerbaits. The best selling bass lure right now has been the all new Bass Pro Shops Chatterbait. This new bait comes in a number of colors, but there is one called bully bream that I can't wait to try out!

  Crappie fishers have been hitting good numbers and the photos I've seen recently show a lot of big fat "slabs".  The water temperatures haven't been as critical on the crappie population as far as their spawn...yet. Crappie usually hang in deeper water around cover like brush piles until the water temps reach between 52 and 65 degrees. Hopefully the shallows where they love to lay their eggs will clear up in the next week. When it does, all you waders, float tubers and paddle-powered fishers need to be ready to pounce !  The air temperatures will warm the water quickly if this quick warming trend continues so be ready.  For now the best results have been on crappie jigs. All kinds of color combinations have been flying out the door. If you want to know my personal favorites...well...you'll just can't go wrong with the Bass Pro Bumble Bee in Monkey Milk color for deeper water.  Switch to  black and chartreuse when they do move up shallow.


  For our minnow dunking friends the reports have been good too. Don't wait til the last minute to get your minnow bucket, aerators, dip nets, hooks and bobbers . The spawn may be abbreviated this year. Don't miss any of it waiting to gear up.

 Attention sandbassers and hybrid hunters!  The recent rains that have raised our lakes with water, pretty much emptied our area lakes of huge numbers of sandbass and hybrids.  Yes, as the water from the feeder creeks pouring into the lakes, the sandbass head upstream looking for moving water in which to lay their eggs and fertilize them. Sandbass don't make nests, they are actually programmed to do all their reproductive rituals in moving water so get out your mud boots and find a good feeder creek. Running water is good, but creeks that are fast moving and swolen by rain are dangerous and the fish tend to scatter. Remember that hybrid stripers are a mix of sandbass and saltwater stripers. They can't reproduce, but they did not get that memo and travel along with the sandbass into creeks and rivers.

  I found a really good creek stomping sandbass chasing, dependable, strong, smooth reel. It's actually a Crappie Maxx spinning reel. It's drag is smooth and strong enough to handle the strong sudden smash of a hybrid when adjusted properly.  One great lure selections for sandies in the creeks are the Blue Fox inline spinner, either silver or blue with the number 2 blade. Another is any one of a group of soft plastic three inch minnow imitations mounted on a 1/16 or 1/32 jig head. Bounce these offerings off the bottom and as close to the channel as you can. Hang on!


You'll have to hurry on the sandbass/hybrid action to. As soon as the water temp in the lakes and the stream temps are equal the sandies won't bother making the trek upstream. They will simply spawn in the lake off windy sandbar points.


 Catfish have not been as affected by the rising warming water too much yet. They're still going to be found fairly shallow. Their spawn is right around the corner, as a matter of fact, it may be accelerated by warming waters.  Here are a couple rules of thumb for you. Generally speaking...I say generally... blue cats tend to hit fresh dead shad. Get a cast net and a bucket and probe boat launches to get your fresh bait.


Channel cats seem to prefer stink baits, also called "prepared baits."  The big flatheads lean toward prefer to munch on bream (sunfish) .  Get some worms, crappie nibbles, small hooks and go "perch jerking," to garner goodies for these monsters.  Don't forget you'll need size appropriate hooks too. Catfish in the "eater" class usually take baits that can be mounted on 3/0 hooks and smaller, while "trophy cats" require a larger, stronger hook to handle their lockjaw grip, weight, and fighting ability. Come in soon to get outfitted with the Catt Maxx rods and reels for all the cats you want to catch, it's an extremely dependable outfit that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg.


  So it doesn't really matter where Spring went. What matters is that you get busy, get equipped, get informed and get on the water.


 Bend a rod for us!
 Bill Sankey
Fishing Lead
Bass Pro Shops, Garland Tx.

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Rustic Recipes: Moose

I have noticed that I write a lot about food. Whether it be recipes, products we have in-store, dishes from our Islamorada Fish Company or suggestions on the health/fitness blogs food is a pretty common subject. In fact this blog will be roughly my 25th article about food. Considering that I have written over 250 blogs that means roughly 1/10th of them are about grub. And there’s no real secret as to why, food is awesome! I remember hearing somewhere that food is a universal language, and straight-shootin’ is that right! No matter where you come from, something delicious can always be appreciated and bring people together.

I am a huge fan of game meats. My buddy gave me a venison steak for my 17th birthday (from his first deer). Our family will use meat like currency. If any of us guys got dumped in high school, it was straight to the Toad for the best fried chicken in Arizona along with singing to the song “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast. (If that didn’t get your mind off of the heart-breaking hussy, nothing would!) A newer game meat though that has made its way onto our tables, is moose.

Moose is probably one of the most delicious and nutritious game meats out there. A whole pound of it contains about 450 calories and close to 100 grams of protein. Compare that to 90/10 ground beef and the beef has more calories and less grams of protein. Moose is also a very lean animal, so their fat content is minimal. Commonly people will mix their game meat with beef or pork when grinding it, but this should be avoided with moose. You went through all the trouble to either purchase or (better yet) hunt your moose meat, so you should enjoy it as is.

So for this Rustic Recipe we will look at making a Moose Steak.

Ingredients

Your cut of moose meat

Olive Oil

Minced Garlic

Salt/Pepper

Yup, that’s it. Just drizzle some of the olive oil onto the meat. Rub in a little bit of garlic (any kind will do, just not salt or powdered). Salt and pepper to taste. Grill to your form of perfection and enjoy.

The best way to cook this meat is the simplest way to cook it. The flavor of the animal will speak for itself, you don’t need a dash of cumin and a glaze of capers of whatever. Pair it with either a baked potato or yam and some other simple side. No one ever said things had to be difficult to be delicious.

-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

From Our Restaurant

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

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Fishy Facts: Bowfin

OK. I know, I know. It seems like “bows” have taken up a lot of my writing lately. From focusing on that beastly bow-fishing boat to the fact that bow-fishing was last month’s Fishy Fact blog, I’ve been writing a lot about the topic. But this month’s subject, the bowfin, is a fish and a rather interesting one. So let’s get back into the water and focus on this swimming-star for the month, the bowfin.

The first thing you will notice about this fish is its appearance. The bowfin looks like it came from the time of the dinosaurs, because it did. Well kind of. It is the sole-survivor of an order of animals that dates back to the Jurassic era. You will also notice that it looks like the invasive species of the extremely-aggressive snakehead. Please note that these are two different fish, and while they share very similar characteristics that the bowfin have been a part of the ecosystem for years (millions) and probably won’t have B-grade sci-fi horror films produced about them.

The first time I saw this fish was hanging on a bar’s wall during my father-in-laws birthday. The place was loaded with awesome taxidermy and is by far the best place to get walleye in Arizona. And at first I mistook it for a snakehead. Months later I was waiting for a flight and somehow got talking to a guy from Minnesota who loves to fish. I asked him about the bowfin and he said that they were ugly ************ but put up a strong fight. He also said he lived in the same complex as the brother of Pablo Escobar who was in hiding in the US…. That may have supposed to not end up on a Bass Pro blog. My bad.

These fish are native to North America and are rather common through the eastern US. They prefer to live in lowland rivers and lakes, swamps and backwater areas. You can also find them occasionally in brackish waters. They are predatory fish and are known to move into the shallows at night to capture their prey. Their diet includes fish, aquatic invertebrates and aquatic insects.

These fish can breathe in both water and air which has helped them survive for so long. Other notable characteristics are the long dorsal fin and the characteristic eyespot by the caudal fin. They grow to an average length of 20 inches, but the females usually grow a little bit larger. There is a record of one being as long as 43 inches and weighing 21.5 pounds! Would I like to swim in the same water as that? Nope!

These fish are extremely fast swimmers but also rather silent. This helps them tremendously and they are quite voracious predators. This goes along with the fact that the airport-guy said they were strong fighters. These fish were considered a nuisance for a long time and were handled as such. Now with a better understanding of their role, these fish are respected for what they provide in an ecosystem. But they are still not a desirable target for sport-fishing. Mostly because they have a mouth full of sharp teeth that can either cut line or your fingers if not careful. They are an interesting fish which finds them in many aquariums, both public and private. Commercially these fish do not hold a strong position in the market, but their roe is sold as Cajun caviar in Louisiana.

So here is to you, bowfin! We may have not treated you right or understand you for many years, but that’s OK. You’ve been here before us and will more than likely be here after us.

-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

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Special Paddelfishing Season For Iowans

Are you ready for the paddelfish snagging season?  We have you covered here at Bass Pro Shops, we have everything you will need to make your season a great one.  We have a nice display set up just for this specific season, with a paddelfish mounted as the cherry on top.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                        

The Iowa DNR has opened up a special paddelfish snagging season that will be running from March 1st through April 15th, 2015.  There is limited licenses available from the DNR for this special snagging season to prevent the overharvest of paddelfish.  A total of 1000 snagging permits will be issued (950 for residents and 50 for non-residents).  Anglers are allowed one license with a transport tag, the special license is $22 for residents and $42 for non-residents.  In addition to the snagging permit anglers must also have a valid Iowa fishing license.  The exception to this is youth anglers under the age of 16, however they must obtain a special ID card from the DNR and obtain the snagging license for paddelfish.

There are size requirements for the paddelfish to be taken into possession.  A fish measuring under 35 inches or over 45 inches maybe kept as a legal fish.                  

                                                                                                      

Fish falling into the 35-45 inch slot when measured from the eye of the fish to the fork in the tail must be released alive upon catch.  A flexible measuring tape (as pictured above) is the ideal device to use when measuring a paddelfish.  When you do catch a taggable fish you must adhere the tag to the fish's lower jaw.  Here is a link to the Iowa DNR to for all of the specific regulations for paddelfish.

For all of your gear needs look no further than our paddelfish snagging display to make sure you have the proper equipment.  Our Snagging Special rods paired with our snagging reels are a favorite for snagging and the upcoming catfishing season. When you do hook up with one of these beautiful fish make sure that line is going to hold up to the fight like our XPS 8 braid.  An important thing to remember when shopping for your terminal tackle is that your treble hooks may not exceed 5/0, when two of the hook points are placed on a ruler they must not exceed 1 1/4 inches in length.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 So starting this March Iowa waters on the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers (including all backwaters, sloughs and any tributary of the Missouri) will be the place to be for snagging a beautiful and very delicious paddelfish.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you at Bass Pro Shops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fishy Facts: Bow Fishing

So this month we will be taking a different approach to our Fishy Facts blogs. Instead of focusing directly on a fish itself, we will take an in-depth look at a certain way to catch fish. And if you read last month’s Tracker Time blog you would know exactly what kind of fishing we are talking about: bow fishing!

Using specialized equipment, bow fishing allows fishers/archers the opportunity to take fish. I am not sure what you would be classified out of those two (fisher or archer) exactly but you definitely get the best of both worlds. The main differences between regular archery and bow fishing is that the bow will have a line holder that holds the line attached to your arrow. Your arrow does not have any kind of fledging as it not necessary in water. What is necessary though is understanding how your arrow will react when in hits water. Also the arrowhead used will usually be a barbed one that will hopefully keep your fish from getting away. After a fish is pierced it is reeled back and taken.

Typically bow fishing takes place on a boat, as you need to be rather close to the fish to get one and they spook quite easily so be prepared to cover some water. The most common species harvested are bottom feeders including carp but also alligator gar are common targets. In saltwater though, things get kicked up a notch and sharks are a targeted species along with rays. Bow fishing also typically takes place at night when fish are slightly more active and using bright lights are easy to spot.

Of course you will want to look at your local rules and regulations concerning bow fishing. Because not only could you be fishing in the wrong place but now “discharging a weapon” as well if you find yourself in real trouble. Bow fishing has increased significantly over the past few years. What once was a smaller niche market is now proving to be a huge game-changer. Not only in sporting good stores but also ecosystems.

Unfortunately invasive species have done a good job and making a mess of our waterways. One of the most prolific is the Asian Carp. You know, that fish that jumps out of the water when disturbed and have caused serious damage to ecosystems and people that they have hit. Huge efforts to eliminate these fish have been undertaken, and bow fishing allows people the change to specifically target them and remove them much quicker and safer than other methods.

The son of the founder/owner of Bass Pro Shops is huge outdoor enthusiast. Bow fishing has become a huge passion of his, and he loves to show it on his YouTube channel. Our stores now carry a wide variety of bow fishing products as well. Bass Pro Shops also started its own Bow Fishing Championship! It is pretty awesome and definitely deserves a checking out!

While the new products and advancing technologies definitely have a lot of people drooling, it is cool to think about how this sport has evolved from its once simple and survival-importance ways. Our ancestors had to learn to bow fish in order to get the food they so desperately needed.

So do your homework and look into what it would take to get into bow fishing. It may provide that niche sport to get your fisher into archery or your archer into fishing. Either way it is a great way to get outdoors and make some awesome memories on the water. And that is what it is all about.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

Tilapia

Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout

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Enjoy The Day With Your Best Friend At Bass Pro Shops

We here at Bass Pro Shops love and respect our nature’s wildlife.  From the fish in streams and ponds to the deer that run wild, we “are” about nature, and all that comes with it.  That’s why at Bass Pro Shops you can bring your best friend, shop in a casual atmosphere with knowledgeable associates who will help you with whatever your needs are, and answer questions that you might have.

So if it’s that big catfish your determined to catch, or your aching to tell your buddy about the whitetail that “didn’t” get away….we’re here. Bring your 4 legged best friend (just abide the leash law), walk around and enjoy our world for the day.  One little dog named Baby visits our Cincinnati store quite a bit.  His owner has been bringing his best friend in for some time now.  Together they check out our great deals, and keep the associates on their toes.  It’s always a pleasure to see our customers and their companions visit us and to “just see how we’re doin’”.

Like I said, professional doesn’t have to mean stuffy.  Whether it’s a new leash or a cozy bed you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered. We here at Bass Pro Shops love nature.  Come visit us with your best friend and make some memories. 

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Fishy Facts: Brook Trout

The lovely Mary in Fishing chose this month’s species for our Fishy Facts Blog. Which is ironic, considering she has never caught or even eaten one but it is on her “to-catch” list. This month’s species star is the Brook Trout!

The brook trout is a species of the salmon family that is native to North America. Like many other fish it has several nicknames including: squaretail or speckled trout. The brook trout also finds itself in a peculiar place as it is called a trout but is actually a char. And don’t forget that it’s also part of the salmon family, so things can get quite confusing.

The brook trout is a favorite among many anglers, especially fly-fishermen. Affectionately called “brookies” these fish are both beautiful and delicate. They are so cherished, that eight states have elected the Brook Trout to state fish. Those states being: West Virginia, Virginia, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Michigan.

Due to expansion of the species, brook trout can be found in most states throughout the U.S. They prefer cool and clear streams or ponds to live in. They are also found in lakes, rivers and creeks. Brook trout are not the most tolerant fish as they require water with high purity and only a narrow pH range. These fish are drastically affected by changes in pollution, pH range and oxygenation.

Brook trout are known to feed on a diverse diet. They consume insects, all forms, and more. Their diet can include crustaceans, amphibians, other fish and some small aquatic mammals. As mentioned before, these fish are extremely attractive. They have vivid colors and spots that stand out. A while back I caught my first brook trout and honestly it was tiny. But the deep purple color and vivid yellow dots made it truly the prettiest fish I have ever caught. Different areas though do produce differently colored or patterned fish.

Two somewhat of a subspecies of these fish are coasters and salters. The coasters are a population of brook trout native to Lake Superior. They migrate into rivers to spawn and then return back to the main body of water. They are typically larger than other brook trout but have had their numbers drastically reduced from overfishing and habitat loss. Salters are a sea-run brook trout found on the East Coast. While these fish are in the saltwater, they will lose some of their markings and get a grayer color to them. Once they return though, it only takes a short time for their true coloring to come back.

What is interesting about brook trout is that they are playing two roles in our ecosystems. Much of their native range has been destroyed or developed. Areas that once had thriving brook trout populations now have none. Outdoor organizations like Trout Unlimited have worked hard at restoring and protecting such habitats. In other areas though, the brook trout is considered an invasive species. They can out-compete native fish species and have had adverse effects of other species such as the cutthroat trout. Certain places have an unlimited bag limit or must harvest ruling to try and reduce brook trout numbers.

I wish Mary the best of luck in her goal to catch one. They are fascinating fish that put up a good fight and taste good as well. We tip our rods to you, the majestic Brook Trout! Until next time!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

Tilapia

Smallmouth Bass

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Fishy Facts: Smallmouth Bass

You all remember that one younger kid on the playground, that no matter how hard they tried they could not get out of the shadow of their “big brother”? Yeah. Sometimes I wonder if that is how smallmouth bass feel when compared to largemouth bass. Think about it, largemouth bass has made modern fishing tournaments what it is. Look at any associate’s polo at your local Bass Pro Shops and that is definitely not a smallmouth embroidered on their shirt. So what’s the deal? Are they not as good as the largemouth? Does everyone expect the smallmouth to go to community college while the largemouth gets in on a full ride scholarship? Nay says I! The smallmouth bass is one of the most fun fish to catch and should be respected just as much as the largemouth bass. So that’s why this month it is the star of our Fishy Facts blog.

The smallmouth bass is a freshwater fish, considered a member of the sunfish family. Its true home is with the other black basses (including the largemouth). They are a prized sport-fish due to their strength and intriguing patterns. They can grow up to 27 inches and weight close to 12 pounds.

Because many anglers enjoy these fish, they have been stocked in non-native areas for game. Anglers have many nicknames for these fish including: smallmouth, smallie, bareback bass, brown bass, bronzeback, brownie and bronze bass. These fish are usually brown with red eyes, an upper jaw that extends to the middle of the eye and has dark vertical bands.

These fish prefer clearer waters than the largemouth live in. The kinds of water they live in can actually have an effect on their coloring or shape. In rivers they tend to be darker and more narrow while in sandy water areas these fish can be more yellow in color. They can stand cooler waters than the largemouth, but are more sensitive to changes. These fish can be affected easily by pollution and are a standard species monitored when checking the health of an ecosystem.

These fish are carnivorous and like to eat smaller fish, crayfish and insects. Fishing for smallmouth bass has a range of techniques. Almost anything can serve as a good lure, just keep it moving. Smallmouth bass tend to chase their prey rather than ambush them. But don’t retrieve your bait too quickly as it can tire the fish and turn them off. Fly-fishing for these feisty fish is growing in popularity and is quite fun.

Now just to clarify a statement at the beginning, smallmouth bass are sometimes allowed in the creel for professional tournaments. But they do not nearly get as much publicity from these kinds of events that the largemouth bass will.

While they are edible, think about if you really want to keep one. It is not that they are vulnerable as a species but always consider catch and release. As long as you got a picture with your prize, it might not need to end up on your dinner plate.

“Catch” ya later! Speaking of catch, look at what our very own Cole caught himself a while back!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

Tilapia

0 Comments »

Fishy Facts: Tilapia

Well. Had another brain fart when it came to deciding which fish to do a Fishy Facts blog about. If you remember way back when I did the one about the Dolphinfish, I had a rather extravagant way to break through such things. (Involves throwing a pair of binoculars at options, but at the new office location it is a little frowned upon.) So in a less possibly hazardous form, I just called over and asked the lovely Janine in our Tracker Department for a suggestion.  Not only did it sound like a good option for a blog, but also for lunch. She chose: Tilapia!

What once was an obscure fish; tilapia has now become quite the staple worldwide. Its appeal as a game fish and table fish has made it quite popular. This fish can put up a strong fight and grow to quite impressive sizes (depending on the species). They also lend themselves extremely well to being raised in commercial or individual farms. Tilapia quite commonly finds themselves being utilized by people doing aquaponics or other sustainable processes.

Now tilapia is the common name for over a hundred species of fish, so like I said there are variances. These fish are found naturally in almost everywhere but North America. They prefer warmer freshwater. Tilapia are vulnerable to cold water temperatures, so many who own them have to keep a heater going for them in the winter. Pretty much since they first started arriving in North America, they have made a big splash.

They look very similar to our sunfish and pan fish species only with a more extravagant dorsal fin (almost a sail) and in different colored patterns. Now in some areas they are considered invasive species, so some have a very negative outlook on them. This brings into mind that everyone should be conscious of what they are doing. An organism that does not belong in a habitat can wreak havoc and destroy ecosystems. This seems to be happening more and more as the world becomes more connected. While they may not look or be as menacing as the snakehead fish that have started making themselves present in our waters, they should not be released into public waters.

Tilapia will feed upon algae, which can be a convenience for some. They are commonly being put into golf course ponds to help naturally keep algae at bay. They do not mix well with other fish as they tend to destroy the bottom going after food which can offset other fish species. These fish also breed profoundly and can grow at extraordinary rates. Currently China is the largest producer of farm raised tilapia. Many American backyard enthusiasts are reducing a need for foreign imported fish.

This is of personal interest to me, as getting away from commercially created/cultivated items is healthier overall. So let us talk about raising tilapia. I mentioned aquaponics, which is a topic for a different time, but let us look at basics. First you will need a place to put them. Aquariums work but an in-ground or raised pond can quickly amplify your stock. You need to start with a “breeder stock” where you have several females to one male. Give them food, space and time and then let nature take its course. Of course you will want to keep an eye on water quality as that can have consequences on these animals. Also be sure to look into the legal issues pertaining to this, as some places will require permits for building ponds or prohibit the import of certain species.

So next time you are out fishing and happen to catch one of these fish, feel free to keep it if allowed. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful appearance of these fish but the versatility of preparing this fish as well.

-Giddy-Up!!

 

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

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Fishing for a New Catfish

Recently we lost a member of the Bass Pro Shops Altoona family. "Timmy" as he was affectionately named when we first opened, was an 83 pound catfish and a "must-see" for every child who came in the store. Because of this loss, we are now looking for another blue cat, preferably between 40-50 lbs.

Donating a fish to the Bass Pro Shops Altoona aquarium is an opportunity to have your trophy enjoyed by thousands. In fact, we'd like to see additional other live, native Iowa fish donations for our main aquarium. Specifically:

  • Blue Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Walleye
  • Crappie
  • Striper
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon
  • Any other fish native to Iowa (No flatheads)

However, it's not just a matter of showing up and dropping off your catch. We thought we'd fill you in on the basics.

1. These are donations. Those who provide live fish will NOT receive money, gift certificates or merchandise for doing so. The fish then become our property and responsibility.

2. Bass Pro Shops Altoona must be contacted within 12 hours of the catch and should be in our possession within 24 hours.

3. Bass Pro Shops Altoona must be contacted before the fish is transported here so we can make sure someone is here to accept it. All fish will be inspected at delivery prior to us taking possession. Additionally, all donations have to be pre-approved by Corporate and we reserve the right to refuse any donation based on fish health, display needs or other issues.

4. We don't accept endangered or protected species.

5. Anglers must abide by all state and federal laws relating to fish capture, possession, and transportation. For example, it's illegal in some areas to transport fish across state lines.

Hints for Successfully Transporting

  • After catching, place the fish immediately in a well-aerated livewell.
  • An addition of 1/2-1 cup table salt will help the fish.
  • Fill your livewell with the same water from which the fish was caught. Don't use water from around the boat launches.
  • Transport them immediately to reduce stress and make sure they're in a container large enough to fully extend.
  • Don't put them on a stringer at any time.
  • If you want to hold for a picture, support the entire body and touch the fish as little as possible.

Remember, if you think your fish is a state record, you need to contact the local DNR immediately.

If you think you have a fish that measures up for donation, contact your local Bass Pro Shops.

It's your chance to make a child's face light up day after day after day!
_______________________________

Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona
Tweet us @bassproaltoona
Pin us @ pinterest.com/bpsaltoona
View us @ 
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Trash Fish or Day Savers?

BluefishFlorida residents are quite lucky when it comes to fish to chase and the destinations to visit in this pursuit.  We’ve got so many different species of fish that sometimes we forget that even the lowliest of them can be worthy of our efforts.  In fact, they can prove to be the best game in town when nothing else wants to come out and play.   Tarpon, snook, bonefish, permit, redfish, and seatrout may be what people think of when they contemplate fly fishing around the coast but it’s players like ladyfish, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and catfish that account for more bent rods than we all want to admit.

The fall bait run is a giant fish magnet that draws anglers and fish with equal power and with the exception of some tarpon and snook, people are chasing after some of the others on the list.  Their numbers are mystifying and they have appetites and attitudes well beyond their diminished status among anglers.  They may not be a premier species but they’re plentiful and widespread at this time of year.

The best thing about chasing these lesser desired fish is that you don’t have to be fancy with your equipment to have a great deal of success.  A moderately sized rod and a pocket full of Clouser Minnows will be the ticket for a day full of fun and excitement when you hit the tide and location perfectly.  Hundred fish days are quite possible when things come together.  Oh yeah, don’t forget to carry plenty of spare leaders and tippet material since many of these guy have teeth that’ll wear through lightweight mono pronto.Ladyfish

Trash fish, by-catch, whatever you want to call them, they’re well worth taking time to catch while you can, and stock up the memories before the winter hits and things slow down.  These species are tailor made for kids and the uninitiated who just want to catch a lot of fish in a short period of time.  Just be sure to keep everyone’s fingers safe and sound when handling these wonderful but toothy and slimy critters.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Fishy Facts: Bull Shark

So I found myself in a conundrum if you will. I seem to focus on freshwater species when it comes to my Fishy Facts blogs. In fact, it would appear that I have only done two about saltwater species. So I feel bad for our saline-loving friends, but I’m from Arizona! I know about as much about the ocean as Fozzie Bear does in Muppet Treasure Island… “Oh! The big, blue wet-thing!!!” So why not cover a species that is mostly found in saltwater but is notorious for being in freshwater as well… the bull shark!

The bull shark is found throughout the world in warmer waters. They typically are also found in shallower waters. Like I stated above, they can make the transition into freshwater and brackish water. Brackish water is the level in between fresh and salt water when it comes to salinity. If you haven’t ever seen Shark Week on Discovery Channel… well one, go away and two, get on it! They always drive this fact home about the bull shark.

Another thing that sets bull sharks apart from other species is their general temperament. There is the stereotype that sharks are evil. People believe they are mindless-killing machines. This is mostly because of horror movies and the fact that you only hear about sharks in the news when there is an attack. Luckily, more and more information about the true nature of sharks is making its way to the general public and people are more understanding of them. So really sharks that bite onto something are seen as being curious, because that is how sharks investigate things. So the mindless-killing machine viewpoints are disappearing, but the bull shark can be one tough fish. They can produce massive amounts of testosterone which can lead them to being more aggressive.

So here we have a shark that not only swims in waters we think should be shark free, but also are more aggressive. Could be a recipe for disaster, and while bull sharks are the most common species of shark in shark attacks, but shark attacks are really uncommon occurrences.

Bull shark are strong fighters because of their size and temperament, which makes them an awesome fish to catch. The key is to hold on… and don’t fall in. There was an episode of River Monsters that covered the bull shark. The show’s host caught one, tagged and released it. The shark then swam off and was located several times under other fishing boats. This shows how intelligent and opportunistic they are. The shark was literally waiting for fishermen to do its work and would just eat the catch off the hook.

I have not been able to find any reviews on how the shark taste nor any recipes. But it would be safe to assume it tastes great fried!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

 

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Fishy Facts: Grayling

So last month for the Tie One On reoccurring blog about fly patterns, I mentioned a particular fish.  That fish would be the grayling. For fishermen who know the fish, they often have a soft spot for. Fishermen who are not familiar with them are missing out one of the greatest species to target. So what better way to bring awareness to this fish than making it this month’s Fishy Fact Star?!

Grayling are a freshwater species of fish and are a member of the salmon family. They are found near the Arctic areas of North America, Europe and Eurasia. They are well spread throughout Europe, where they are a common quarry for fishermen.

The easiest way to identify these fish is by their large sail-like dorsal fins. Like most other species in nature, the males are more vibrantly colored than the females. The colors on these fish include: darkish purple, bluish black, gray, white, dark blue and silver gray. These fish also have spots that can range in color from red, purple, green or orange.

  Certain kinds of grayling can live close to two decades. Despite this longevity these fish are quite sensitive. The smallest of differences in their habitat can have adverse effects on grayling. They need a cool, well-oxygenated body of water to live in. They also prefer to have a swifter current, which helps keep their water cooler and better oxygenated. Because of this they are considered an “indicator species”. This is a species that can directly show how a change in an ecosystem has an effect on life.

Unfortunately, like most animals, since human development has expanded their natural range has contracted. Once a member of the Great Basin Lakes ecosystem, they are almost completely gone. That means that these fish should be treasured when caught. In contradiction though, they should also be eaten after being caught. Their taste is considered one of the best in freshwater fish. If you do not want to eat a wild-grayling you can still sink your teeth in some that have been raised in an aquaculture system.

These fish are fished for in similar ways as to salmon and trout. Fly fishermen can take extra delight in catching one, as they tend to put on a good fight and show when hooked. This is why I stated earlier that fishermen who know the fish often have an appreciation for them.

Well that will do it for this month’s Fishy Fact. If you have a species of fish that you wish to know more about, comment below!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

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Fall Catfishing Rigs & Baits

     As Fall time comes around the waters cool and the bite picks back up after the heat of summer.  With summer being one of the most common and often times most effective time to catch lots of catfish.  But the fall is also an amazing time to go fishing for these freshwater giants.  It can also be a opportune time to catch a personal record cat.  With winter getting closer and closer everyday, the water temps are starting to drop.  Catfish like most other fish often gorge themselves right before the freeze of winter.  

     The catfish itself is a very warm watered fish.  Usually preferring water with the temperatures in the range of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  They are a opportunistic omnivores - feeding on all kinds of baits, and a wide variety of animal and plant materials.  Often times you will find them on or next to the bottom of the lake.  They are predominately a bottom dwelling fish, but they will still feed and take baits near the surface.  They have numerous taste buds all over their body, the most being on the whiskers of the catfish.  Its almost like a giant tongue swimming through the water, that is why we often try to get the smelly stuff to fish with.  Often times the more it smells the better it works. 

    We offer a wide variety of different dip baits here at our store. The dip bait hooks themselves have a treble hook and a rubber plastic on it that hold the dip and its smell while its in the water, and it gives the fish something to put into its mouth and eat.  Dip baits work great, they almost work like a chum bait drawing the catfish into you.  Working more effectively in ponds or lakes.    Another easy yet very effective way to catch catfish is to use shrimp. They are similar in smell to crawdads as they are both crustaceans. The Shrimp will hold on the hook well and they do a good job at holding smells and scents that i can spray on, anywhere from garlic or a blood spray or dip.  Probably the best all around hook to be using on a cat fishing rig would be the circle hook, which is a hook that when is pulled on works its way into the corner of the fishes mouth and insures the same strong hook set every time. Its a strong hook that sets its self by the fisherman just reeling the line and keeping tight pressure on the fish.  NOT a quick jerk like most other common J-Hook type hooks.  The circle hooks come in a variety of sizes and make sure the ones you have for cat fishing, have the bait keepers on the shank of the circle hook.  Having them will help out a-lot for keeping the bait on the hook at all times.  No matter if you are in a boat or on the shore cat fishing a simple slip rig is probably the most effective way to catch them.  It allows the catfish not to feel any pressure on the line and give him any reason to drop the bait. The slip rigs looks like this.  I often find myself using this rig near 70% of the time when i catfish.  It works very well with the circle hooks.  You can find all the weights and terminal tackle on our Basspro website.  The different things that you will need will be leader line, swivels, glass bead(to protect your knots from your weight), and of course hooks you don't have to only use circle hooks on these rigs they would work great with the standard J-Hook. 

       When it comes to the right gear, as in the rod and reel. Personally i prefer to use a bait-caster reel it is must easier to cast those larger weights with some precision.  One of the best ones on the market are going to be the Abu-Garcia Ambassadeur C4,  then pair with a medium heavy to heavy action rod.  You want something that is going to be a bit longer, to help you out in handling and directing those bigger fish and help you get farther casts.  If you are not looking to spend that much money on a quality  fishing reel,  We always have our different combos that are specially designed for cat fishing, which would work well and get the job done.  You can look at a few of the ones that we carry a very popular one would our Bill Dance line of combos.  They have larger reels and rods to handle bigger line and ultimately bigger fish. Lastly would be the line, most popular would be the braided line you can get 80lb braid that had the same thickness as 20lb mono.  So you can get a line that is 4 times as strong and a fourth the thickness than a similar mono line.  Braid works great for your mainline.  The line Is amazingly strong and is almost impossible to break. The best leader material to use would 100% fluorocarbon line, for the fact it has great abrasion resistance.  Often times you will find yourself fishing around rocks, trees, brush you name it.  It can all rub and wear down mono and braided lines to the point were they get weak and break.  There is more information on different types of fishing lines and there properties on this link right here Choosing the Right Fishing Line.

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Outdoor Cooking Primer - Braised Rabbit with Onion, Garlic and Herbs

The Iowa Roadside Survey report is out and it shows, among an increased number of pheasants, there is also a big increase in cottontail in some parts of our state. Rabbit and squirrel season started this week in Iowa and we like rabbit, so time to start featuring and trying some new recipes for them. I picked up a cookbook from a GAMO vendor display at a store event a couple of years ago. Haven't made it, but it look good and easy! I think you could use a slow cooker just as easily as a Dutch oven or other oven-safe heavy duty pot. The recipe is from the Small Game Cookbook and is credited to Keith Sutton, CatfishSutton.com.

Braised Rabbit with Onion, Garlic and Herbs

4 servings

1 rabbit, cut in serving pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 C chicken broth

1 1/2 tsps dried thme

1/4 tsp pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4 C all purpose flour

1/4 C lemon juice

5 Tbsp cold water

In a Dutch oven or other oven-safe, heavy duty pot over medium heat, cook the rabbit pieces in heated olicve oil until lightly browned. Remove rabbit and keep warm. In the same pot, saute the onion and garlic until tender. Stir in the broth, thyme, a pepper and bay leaf. Return rabbit to the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and place in a preheated 325-degree oven. Cook 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Arrange rabbit on a serving platter. Discard bay leaf. Whisk together the four, lemon juice and water until smooth. Stir into pan juices. Bring to a boil, while stirring, and continue to stir for two minutes more or until thickened. Sauce can be ladled over rabbit or served on the side.

_______________________________

Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona
Tweet us @bassproaltoona
Pin us @ pinterest.com/bpsaltoona
View us @ 
youtube.com/bassproshopsaltoona
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Fishy Facts: Catfish

That’s right! Fishy Facts is back. Don’t act like you haven’t missed your monthly posting of more-than-you-ever-needed-to-know-about-a-specific-fish-for-any-reason-besides-being-on-Jeopardy blog! And we’re bringing it back from the dark murkiness of forgotten blogs with a fellow bottom dweller to be this month’s star! The Catfish!

Ah yes, Mr. Whiskers. That hard hitting, semi-unattractive, tastes great fried or blackened, bottom dwelling fish. You ever seen an episode of River Monsters? More than likely it was about some kind of catfish, and for good reason! There are a multitude of different species of catfish found all over the world. Including the largest species (the Mekong giant catfish found in Asia) and the second largest (the Wels catfish found in Eurasia).

These fish literally grow big enough to swallow a human! And there are plenty of stories here in the good ol’ U.S. about swimmers going missing and divers refusing to go into certain lakes after getting a look at the catfish down there!

But for the most part the catfish is like most other fish. It swims and it eats and it makes baby catfish. They get their name for the characteristic whiskers on their face. Urban legend tells you that those whiskers can actually ZAP you, if you touch them! The thing you really need to watch out for are the sharp and hard spines found behind their fins. (Last year at our Fall Fishing Classic a few people learned that the hard way… or should I say the pokey way!)

These fish are notorious for being bottom feeders and are sometimes called the vacuums of the lake. Contrary to this concept of them being slow moving fish just eating away, catfish are well adapted predators. Catfish will strike at prey much more ferociously than one would expect. In fact a new style of fishing for them is to use spoons! I wouldn’t have believed it either until a buddy of mine caught one on a stock pond and then read an article about it three months later.

There are several catfish species found in North America. That includes channel, flathead and blue catfish. Most Bass Pro Shops have examples of them in the large aquariums. Our big ol’ girl is known affectionately as Big Blue!

Typically fishermen go after these kinds of fish during low light times as they seem to be more active. Almost anything can be used as bait for them (worms, cheese, minnows, bread, chicken livers, etc) and most people seem to go with “the smellier, the better” theory.  These fish can be found in almost any kind of water and are not just limited to lakes. Another way people go after these fish is called noodling. This is where one gets into the water and probes around likely hiding spots for catfish using their hands or feet. Once one has located a fish, use whatever means necessary to get the fish to bite onto ones hand and then lift the fish out of the water. Crazy as it sounds there are national contests for the sport (and TV shows).

Now the whole thing with catfish growing huge in certain is that fish are not bound by gravity as we are. Being in water, fish can grow to enormous sizes because the stress of gravity is not pulling them down or as controlling. So if a catfish were to get stuck in the turbine area of a dam, it could possibly grow as big as possible just by floating and eating whatever it comes its way.

And once last thing about the catfish… and definitely not least… is their taste. These fish are delicious! There are many ways to prepare catfish and most of them are always good. These fish are also able to be raised in farms, making them a sustainable source of seafood. That’s another reason why one may be seeing catfish popping up more and more on the table at home and a menu at a restaurant.

Until next time! Alluring Armadillos! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

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2014 BIG CAT QUEST Like a Pro!

The Big Cat Quest - Saturday March 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

Submitted by John Gardner                                                                                                                                

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

 

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Honey...Where's the First Aid Kit?

Mangrove SnapperFlorida is full of things looking to bite, sting, stick, or otherwise hurt you and it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit available and well stocked with supplies to handle a variety of situations that start out simple, but if left unattended, could cause bigger problems later on down the road.  I’m not talking about trauma-level surgery here, just minor cuts, scrapes, and the like.  You just never know what critter is going to clamp down on your finger and be unwilling to let go no matter how much “persuasion” you use.

Snapper, bluefish, mackerel, gar, sharks, and barracuda are a few of the fish you should watch out for because of their teeth and the resultant cuts or punctures.  Bream and catfish have piercing spines that will cause a great deal of pain, bleeding, and potential infection if left untreated while stingrays are a real hazard and would likely need more than “first aid” but having gauze and tape can suffice until real help is reached. Even the bait can be dangerous if you're using live blue crabs and one gets hold of your finger while trying to fish him out of the livelwell.

Jellyfish season is coming and meat tenderizer should be added to everyone’s kit, and I speak from experience when I say that their sting is HIGHLY painful and any relief would be welcome.  Dramamine, Benadryl, Aspirin, and maybe even epi-pens for people with serious allergies should all be added to your kit and travel with you every time on the water, on a hike, while camping, or hunting.  Sea urchins inhabit much of the southern inshore rock structure and their sting can be a traumatic experience for an inquisitive youngster (or playful adult man for that matter) so be prepared to take action.Backpackers First Aid Kit

Fire ants are one of the most common pests in Florida and their attack can be extremely vicious, leaving the victim with burning welts that will eventually itch like crazy, then burn again if unprepared so keep some after-bite treatment available to fight the itch.  Being prepared for plant related injuries is a good idea as well so don’t become complacent by thinking that everything that’s going to hurt you walks, swims, or slithers.

I almost forgot what's probably the most dangerous creature out there...OURSELVES!  We're using sharp instruments like hooks, gaffs, knives and broadheads while climbing trees, scrabling over rocks, and pitching around on boat decks, so do you think accidents are bound to happen at the worst possible time?  You betcha!  Who can we rely on to give immediate care when needed?  Only ourselves and we all need to be prepared.

There are plenty of reasons to be prepared for minor medical emergencies and very few good excuses for not having some simple items on hand when needed.  Most folks will admit they think help is always available and don’t feel the need to be even moderately self reliant, but imagine the piece of mind a simple thing like a first aid kit can provide in an emergency.  Pick one up, stock it up, and carry it on your outings.  You’ll be thankful you did.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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