Take a Couple Hours: Quail Hunting

So months ago I wanted to start up a new blog series about getting in some good outdoor activities with only a few hours to do it in. I started it with an urban fishing trip but unfortunately have not been able to follow it up. Until now! Or should I say this past weekend? A group of buddies and I set some time aside to take part in one of my absolute favorite outdoor activities, quail hunting! We all needed a little break and a lot of fresh air, and this trip did just that! Let’s begin…

Well, first things first let us look at the gear. There were five of us going, and this was going to be the first trip for my buddy’s father’s bird-dog. He had to bring all sorts of other gear that, luckily, I didn’t need to hassle with. The rest of us needed: a hunting license, shotgun, ammo, appropriate clothing, snacks and water.

Don’t have an Arizona Hunting License yet? Pick one up at Game and Fish’s website. You do not need a Migratory Bird stamp to hunt quail, but of course read over the rules and regulations before you head out. (Limit is 15 birds a day this year… good luck filling that though!)

When I talk about appropriate gear, you need to consider where you will be hunting and when. What is the weather going to be like? Is it snake season? (It was cold out so we didn’t have to worry so much about those, but I was still looking where I was stepping.) Dress in layers so you can add on or take off clothes accordingly. Make sure to have some sort of blaze on you (hat, shirt, vest, etc.) so you are easier to spot by your own group and others. Bring a bird/shell vest! Only two of us had bird-vests, so we were doomed to be the pack-mules. I picked up the Browning Upland Strap Vest a year or two ago. Just like the new bird-dog, this was her maiden voyage as well. And I absolutely loved it! Fit nice and secure. Everything was able to be adjusted to me. Held plenty of shells and miscellaneous gear, including water bottles and snacks in the back pouch.

And wear good boots! The areas we hunted had a whole mix of landscapes and ground. Soft sand, hard rock and everything in between. And everything up and down! We went over too many hills to count. Having on my good boots made a world of difference that day… and the ones that followed.

We had a few 12 gauges and a couple 20’s between us. We made sure to keep the two kinds of shells separate, as everyone should! Don’t just rely on the concept that “yellow shells = 20 and red shells = 12”, always double-check! Most of us were shooting size 8, but I had a couple random 7.5s to shoot through as well. Good ol’ Dori the Citori will pretty much eat anything I toss down her!

We pulled off to our first location, and after squelching a minor political discussion we were engaged in, my buddy’s father started the hunt off with a safety meeting. Everyone should do this every time. We talked about watching line-of-fire, when to load/unload, who was going to be where and so on.

Also to not shoot his dog. (There is a special level downstairs for those who break this commandment. Somewhere between lawyers and people who leave shopping carts all caddy-wampus in cart corrals.) This meant no aiming at ground birds, no matter the circumstance, so the plot thickened.

And then to make sure we kept our line consistent. You should always be able to see the person to either side of you and them like-wise. This is where wearing blaze comes in handy. Only two of us were in blaze and with all the hills, washes and whatnot it was easy to lose sight of one another.

The hunt began literally with a BANG! Not more than fifteen yards from the truck, I flushed a couple quail and showed the rest of the group how good I am at shooting under flying birds! We kept moving. It is always a delight watching a bird dog work, and she was no different. This was her first time though, so she was rather timid and not used to the terrain. She had been trained by a professional and graduated top of her class, but the real world is different.

As we made our way, we bumped into something quite large that was just as startled by us. It was a small herd of wild horses! They wanted nothing to do with us and quickly scurried up a hill. One hung out long enough for me to get a picture. He probably knew that I worked for Bass Pro and would include him in a blog. We also bumped into an owl a little ways down the area.

We kept on the flurry-sound of a covey of quail that proved to everyone how hard those little guys are to hunt. They led us all the way to the border of state land, where all we could do is watch as they lounged about in the safety of their new home for the next short while.

We worked our way back towards the trucks and kicked up a few more birds, but no one was able to connect. One bird might have a sore rump though! At the trucks, we caught our breath, rested our feet, hydrated, snacked and started the next game plan. The bird-dog had had quite enough and was done for the day (ground birds are good-to-go!) but had well-earned her rest! She, and a few of us, would have some sore feet the next day.  She may not have gotten on point, but the experience from this trip and those to follow was important for her to gain.

Our next destination wasn’t that far up the way, but did give us plenty of time to talk guns and country music. We came to the revelation that the song Parking Lot Party is more or less the sequel to Redneck Yacht Club, because the people who were partying on the lake weren’t ready to go home yet and just moved it to some asphalt. This probably also gave ample time for my buddy and his dad to discuss such important topics like marriage and what arguments they let us think we win, because the one buddy has his wedding in a couple months.

At the new spot we hopped out and loaded up. We chose a hill in the distance and worked our way towards it. Those on the right side of the line took a few steps before bumping into a mule deer doe, which is pretty neat. I bumped into a rock.

Nothing was really moving until we had gotten over a few more hills and then it was a flurry of excitement. I noticed a nice sized covey moving along in front of us and something caught my peripheral. A couple mule deer does gave me the “See ya!” by bounding away, white rumps shown proudly. Watching the wonders of nature always makes me smile, but we were on a mission! With targets in sight, we closed in on them but came just about as close as the last place.

Clouds moved in and rain started trickling down. It was time to start heading back. In one area, I bumped a few and was able to put down a quail and recover. My buddy’s dad got one in the same area, but couldn’t recover it. One of the guys got himself a nice sized jackrabbit as well! He didn’t have a vest, so being the sport he is, the other of us two pack-mules hoofed it out for him. On the final leg of the trip back, my buddy got a bird and recovered it. And he found a nice little deer shed! Not a bad way to end the day.

We cleaned the animals and headed back towards town. After some grub I had to rush home. The missus wanted to take Christmas card photos, and I was definitely not going to be allowed to have bloody jeans in them! But before I took off, we all were able to take a second and breathe while appreciating what an awesome day we had. And make some verbal semi-contracts to get out next weekend!



Check It Out List: Fly Fishing Pack

A growing passion of mine has definitely been fly-fishing. It will never fully replace the way regular fishing has hooked my heart, but it definitely gives a new aspect to the thrill of fishing. As many will tell you, it is much more technical than spin-fishing. With fly-fishing you really have to focus on what the fish are doing, how the water is moving and so on. The process to simply change baits can take minutes as opposed to mere seconds. One easy way to ensure a fun and simple trip is to make sure you have a pack that is as ready as you are. So this month’s focus for the Check it Out List blogs will be your fly-fishing pack.

Fly Fishing Pack

Flies and Fly Boxes



Tool Retractor

Extra Tippet/Leaders

Small Magnifying Glass


Fly Treatment

Line Cleaning Pad



So before you go out you should have a good idea of what fish species you are after. From there you should be able to pick out an assortment of fly patterns and read any current reports for the areas. Be sure to have a few of each pattern, varying in sizes, and have them stored safely in boxes.

Scissors or clippers make cutting line a breeze. Some people prefer clippers as you can get a little bit closer to the knot before cutting the line and others prefer scissors for their utilitarian applications. Forceps or pliers can help get that hook out and makes it less harmful to the fish. Since the work is rather delicate when fly-fishing many use forceps over pliers. But having pliers to help fix any other problems with tackle/gear can be a big help. Of course we humans are tinkerers and have done a good job at putting both scissors and forceps into the same tool. This can be like one-stop shopping in this application.

Depending on whether or not you have a vest or pack to carry your gear, will affect the accessibility of your stuff. Either way, having your tools on a retractor can be a big help so that way you are not always unzipping a pack or reaching into a pocket.

Along with having extra flies, one should always have extra tippet and some leaders. We all know too well that line can get caught or cut on many of the unseen objects in water. It would be a shame to have to cut a trip short because you forgot to bring these cheap and light products.

A small magnifying glass can be a great tool when tying on flies or inspecting items. The one pictured above is even lighted which will help in those early morning and later in the day setups.

Don’t forget a good net to land your catch with and a camera to capture the memory. Remember to spend the extra money for a good quality net that will last for years and not harm the fish. Those rubber baskets make the chance for survivability of released fish so much greater.

And then of course having fly treatments to help the fly float are essential. Make sure to bring that line cleaner and leader straightener as well, because we all know how the tiniest of flaw in a fly-fishing set up can ruin the chances to catch the king of that water!



Picnics Gun Cleaning Game Care First Aid Kayaking Day Pack Trip Prep Range Time

Fishing Pack Boating Day Trip Camp Cooking  Dove Hunting Upland Hunting Tactical Clothing

Winter Camping Reloading Bowfishing Minor Maintenance


Sling Pack, Waist Pack, or Vest? So Many Options.

Fishpond Gore RangeTech PackFishermen have been trying to answer this conundrum ever since Orvis brought out their first catalogue and we started believing there just had to be a better solution than the one we already carried.  I'm not sure there really is a single answer to which is best and sometimes we just have to let the color of our fishing shirt determine the type of pack we're going to carry on the water.  Just kidding.  Each one has it's uses and it'll just take time to figure out which one you like. I've personally gone full circle, beginning with a simple waist pack I used for many years of wading the saltwater, but I've found that it isn't large enough for some endeavors afield or far too big for others, and it makes wearing a stripping basket at the same time all but impossible.  But what's the ultimate solution and should new anglers agonize over getting it right the first time?

Vests like the one shown are great for carrying just about everything short of the kitchen sink, and I've found that there's a reason trout fishermen traditionally chose this type of system.  The pockets are spacious and numerous so you can hide things away never to be found again, except at the beginning of the next season when you take stock of what you need to purchase before hitting the water again.  Some even have integrated backpacks wherein you might carry enough supplies to spend extended period on the water rather than just a few short hours.  There are obvious benefits to wearing a vest but you do have to watch out for the tendency to carry everything, including the kitchen sink, the potential heat retention issues due to the type of fabric the vest is made of, and the need to compensate for clothing worn underneath by wearing a fixed size vest larger than your normal.  Keep an open mind and plan ahead.

LL Bean Sling PackSling packs and chest packs are perfect for the person that's able to scale down the amount of equipment they carry to the water for a days adventure and are a great way to keep yourself from becoming overly weighted down by things you probably won't need anyways.  These options force you to look at your tackle needs and storage systems with a more critical eye towards limiting waste and clutter.  Sling and chest packs are the perfect options for those short jaunts around a neighborhood pond, a nearby creek, or along the beach looking for cruising snook.  All you need is a small box of flies, tippet material, pliers, and a water bottle to have a great adventure.

Fish N Hunt Waist PackWaist packs are somewhere in between the two and continue to be a favorite of mine because of how well they distribute the load low on the body where I don't even notice the burden.  Many of them have back support built in which greatly increases the amount of time you can spend wandering the waterways in search of fishing opportunities. Water bottle holders, box storage, plier keepers, and even rod holders have been included in their designs so the angler isn't left with much to desire.  About the only issues I've ever had with waist packs is the need to spin them around to the front in order to get anything out of it, which results in a pretty twisted up wardrobe; and as I mentioned before, troubles with using a stripping basket at the same time.

Another possibility I've experimented with is using a backpack whether intended for fishing or not.  It works well when carrying both spinning and fly equipment because it's large enough to securely carry multiple large Plano boxes full of tackle, water bottles, Boga Grip, and other essentials.  Simms, Patagonia, Orvis, Fishpond and numerous others have included backpacks in their product lines, both in traditional and waterproof materials.  Backpacks are an accessory worth looking into if you have a bunch of equipment to carry.

New anglers shouldn't get too worried about their first choice of carrying accessory since they'll likely have half a dozen different ones within a very short time, very much like myself.  I've been around the block a few times and thrown in a few wrong turns over the years but each one was a learning experience and now my choices are based on experience rather than fashion.  Comfort, practicality, and versatility are the main criteria we should be using to find our next bag so keep the lessons I've learned in the back of your mind the next time you go looking for something new to schlep around your tackle.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando




Spring Cleaning ..... Getting Ready to Fly


Fish that is. It's time. Yes, I know that the thermometer still hovers somewhere in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle and you may need to call in an ice breaker to get on your favorite trout stream, BUT the return of outstanding fly fishing is getting so close we can almost taste it. To ensure you're prepared for that first miracle day when the temperature rises, the water flows, and you have the day off, you need to get things ready now.

If you have been lusting after a new fly rod, now is the time to acquire it. A new rod is a great way to start the season and the perfect excuse to go fishing, as in “I have this new rod I really need to go try out” The same “excuse” works for that rod you got as a gift that has been sitting in the corner taunting you all winter.

If your “old favorite” rod and reel have been waiting patiently since you put them away last fall, they probably could use a little attention. A bit of candle wax rubbed on the male ends of the rod segments will refresh the joints and help that rod fit together snugly.

Having spent the past couple of months wrapped around the reel the line has likely acquired a bit of memory. Find yourself a smooth pole (like a basketball pole, not a tree… too rough). Spool off your line around the pole, grab both ends and walk back to the point where you’re stretching the line; not too taut, just enough to straighten it out. This works best on a reasonably warm day with the line at room temperature.

This is also a good time to inspect and clean that line. If your line is more than a couple of three years old it may be ready to be replaced. Look closely for cracks or breaks in the plastic. Damage such as this will let water into the core and the line will not float very well, if at all it deserves to be retired (I usually relegate my old lines to the rod I use for pond fishing for bluegill and bass). Assuming the line looks to be in decent shape, a good cleaning will ensure it’s ready to go.

I have heard many different perspectives on how to clean and treat a fly line. For some (like me) a simple cleaning with a damp rag and dishwashing soap (a gentle detergent) seems to work just fine. Others, afraid the soap will remove the secret-sauce line coating, wipe off the line with clean water and then treat it with one of the many line conditioners available. Should you have any questions about how to clean and treat your particular line; most line manufacturers have recommendations for their products on their websites. Backing, unless it’s about 100 years old, rarely requires any attention or maintenance (as long as you didn’t put that reel away soaking wet which will cause the backing to acquire a nice coating of mold and mildew).

It is likely that your leader needs refreshed. By the end of the season the last one I used looks pretty sad; short broken sections with wind knots, abrasions, and long pieces of tippet tied on the end (hey, the fish were rising, no time to tie on a new leader!). A fresh new tapered leader will get you started right this year.

Now is also a great time to review your outfit. No, I’m not suggesting you reassess your sense of style, but rather the great load of tools, supplies, and implements of destruction we carry forth each time we head for the water. By the end of the season I seem to have added enough stuff to my kit that when fully outfitted in my waders and chest pack I look like a haz-mat team from the waist down and hardware store from the waist up.

Clearly we need a few things. Extra leaders, some spools of tippet, and the basic tools- nippers, forceps, and a zinger to hang them on- are of course required. Dull nippers are nothing more than a frustration. Some nippers may be sharpened, others should simply be replaced. Forceps last forever. Zingers, however, do tend to wear out and will break at the least convenient and most overlooked times. I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve looked down only to discover my favorite and most needed tools have disappeared on the end of a broken zinger. Give them a good look to see if they are frayed and worn.

Rummage through all the pockets of your vest or pack to see what treasures may be lurking there unnoticed. That granola bar you stashed last July may need refreshing; if you find a Twinkie it’s probably still good to go. Strike indicators, split shot, floatant, and other miscellaneous supplies may need refreshed or discarded depending upon how often you actually used them. A lighter load makes you a more nimble angler.aquaseal

Waders and wading boots usually require a bit of attention. That annoying little leak was probably tolerable last September, but will feel pretty uncomfortable in April’s 50 degree water. Small leaks, either punctures or in the seams, may be repaired with products such as Aquaseal. Simply clean the areas with rubbing alcohol, let it dry, and apply a small amount of AquaSeal. Rubbing in the sealant with a q-tip works well on leaky seams. Larger rips or tears are harder to repair and may necessitate replacement.

Wading boots can take quite a beating. Check-out your laces and replace as necessary. Synthetic laces, not the cotton ones designed for hiking boots, work best and will not deteriorate in the water. If you notice any seams that have separated on your boots, there are still a few cobblers about who can repair them at a reasonable cost (there is a great old-time shoe repair place in Fountain City-they do great work). If the uppers of your boots are in good shape but you’ve worn off the felt soles, these may be refreshed by grinding off the remaining felt and installing felt sole replacements. I’ve done this a couple of times and, if you follow the instructions provided with the repair kit, it works really, really well. For those with studded soles, check to see if the studs are worn or missing. Replacement packs of the screw-in studs are readily available. Then again, it may be time for new boots.

Last but not least, you need to take stock of your supply of flies. Remember what worked best last year?? Do you have enough?? If not...get busy tying. If you don’t tie your own, get to the store sooner verses later...once the fishing turns-on the fly shops tend to run out, at least temporarily, of the most popular flies fairly quickly. You don’t want to hit the water for the first time this spring without your favorite flies.

And there you have it, from rod to reel and head to toe, the things we all should be doing to get ready for the best fishing of the year that’s lurking somewhere just over the horizon. If you have any questions about the state of your equipment or what flies to acquire, just stop by the shop...we’ll be glad to look things over and offer suggestions. While I wouldn't go sit by the stream fully wadered with your fly rod in hand just yet - we do need to live through the rest of February - its close enough we need to READY!

Local fishing continues to be challenging, although tail water fishing has improved of late. The Clinch River has seen some favorable generation schedules on the weekends and we’ve talked with quite a few anglers who planned to take advantage of the opportunities. The Holston has also been fishing well with wader-friendly schedules. Remember you can check the tail water schedules, updated around 6:00PM every evening, by looking at the TVA Website.

The national park waters were bone-numbing cold, but the rains over the past weekend have warmed the streams a bit. Unfortunately, we got a little too much rain and the streams were pretty blown-out. Little River rose from about 200 cubic feet per second to near 4,000 this past Monday (it’s down to 904 right now-still too high to fish). Unable to fish the park waters I headed to one of the stocked catch-and-release streams and managed to catch a few big dumb rainbows...not exactly the same as catching a wild trout, but in February sometimes “ya just gotta catch a fish”, if for no other reason than to keep your spirits up.



Bass Pro Outdoor World

White River Fly Shop

3629 Outdoor Sportsmans Place

Kodak, TN 37764







Hometown Winter Steelhead

Elk Creek SteelheadingPart of taking up fly fishing is trying to figure out all the different fly combinations and methods for delivering them to the water and hopefully the fish that live there.  Dry fly, indicator, high-stick nymphing, streamer, hopper/dropper, bottom bouncing, popper, chuck-and-duck, swinging, and a few others are methods developed to fit a particular circumstance, location, or fish species.  Little did I know that fly fishing would require learning a whole bunch of knots and a bunch of ways to lose the flies I worked so hard to tie.

I recently took a trip to my home waters of Erie, Pennsylvania to catch up with family members over Christmas break, and to hook some fresh Lake Erie Steelhead if possible.  I’d never tried winter steelheading in the past, so I did a lot of reading up on the subject before packing my vest with tons of useless junk.  The Steelhead Guide by John Nagy, and Great Lakes Steelhead, Salmon, & Trout by Karl Weixlmann became my bibles for a month or so before hitting the road.  Part of the problem though is not knowing how the weather is going to affect the water.  The conditions can change drastically; ranging from free-flowing and clear, high and muddy (blown out), and ultimately, frozen solid.  Your fly type has to change accordingly and the presentation style must follow suit.  Winter fishing is mainly a nymphing or egging prospect with tandem rigs drifted below strike indicators.  In other words totally foreign to me.  We don’t have to use splitshot or strike indicators in saltwater.  What the heck is mending anyway?

Elk Creek SteelheadI left home with 180 flies but still bought more once reaching the northern waters, and guess what….  The ones I tied worked wonderfully.  I had experimented with a few nymphs that combined some desirable features of other stock patterns and they proved killers on the only day I actually got to fish productive conditions.  Every fish I hooked over the course of the day (nine), and ultimately landed (3) were hooked while utilizing a presentation style I’d never tried before, on flies I tied myself.  More would have been landed had I paid attention to the chapter on fighting steelhead differently than you do tarpon.

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in catching fish with a fly rod and even more when you learn a new and productive method for delivering the fly.  Never stop learning and never stop trying to create your own unique patterns.


Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


"A Season of Memories"

A Season of Memories

By: Jerry L. Costabile

It’s been a memorable deer season so far; the Costabile’s - 2 and the deer - 2. After practicing all summer, the bow season was to open the second week of September in Wisconsin and I couldn’t wait! This was to be the first season that my two youngest sons were going to bow hunt and I could only hope that they would get an opportunity to harvest their first whitetail with a bow and arrow. I was thinking back to my first hunts with my Bear 55# recurve, I’ll just say that I have taken more fish with that bow than deer! I tried to get good with it last year but the fence in the back yard told me that I better stick with my Ross compound.

The boys were shooting pretty darn well by the time the season arrived and they were both excited for the first hunt of the season. Kyle, my youngest had the first opportunity. It was opening weekend and he was sitting in the stand that I was very successful in the previous season. I knew he would see deer and if he could keep his nerves controlled, we could have the first venison of the year. At last light on his first bow hunt, Kyle let an arrow go on a nice buck well within range. The shot was low and the deer ran off unharmed. Deer -1, Us -0. Kyle’s disappointment that evening made me want to work harder to help him be successful, but the memory of his excitement will live with me forever.

We bow hunted thru September and October with numerous deer seen, passed on a few, and had a few that just didn’t give us that ethical shot we all strive for. Then with the first week of November upon us, we were ready for the love sick bucks to make mistakes. There were does around to bring the bucks, we just needed the rut to fire up! But it was a strange season for the rut; it never showed itself like we expected it to in early November. There were just a few scrapes and rubs, the does were walking around without a buck behind them, and the bucks were just not acting like they should.

We continued to hunt and watched as the action stayed the same every day, the does were around, but the bucks weren’t chasing them. One of the strangest early Novembers I have seen, one for the memory.

Jake was going to college and working two jobs, so his time in the stand was limited. He came home for a weekend at the beginning of November and was ready to get out to his stand. On the evening of the 7th, right at last light, a nice buck came into view on his left. In a matter of seconds, Jake was presented with a broadside shot at his first deer with a bow. With it all happening so fast, he didn’t even have time to get nervous, once the deer was in front of him at 17 yards he drew back and let the arrow fly. His practice paid off, a perfect double lung shot put the 9 pointer down at about 50 yards. His first bow harvest is a nice buck! I happen to be hunting with him that evening so it was exciting for me to be part of this. As we were dragging the buck back to the truck, I looked over and realized that the boy that had helped me many times before with this job was now a man. He didn’t see the tears of pride that I shed in the darkness as we made our way to the truck, but I know that this memory will live with me forever. Deer – 1, Us – 1.

Gun season arrived and the cold of winter right along with it. Opening day found us with subzero wind chills and snow cover. The boys and I hunted for three days in the north woods of Wisconsin, we saw deer, but the deer didn’t read the script as to how to cooperate. After a couple of close calls, we headed back to the southeastern part of the state without firing a shot. I think the boys were more disappointed than I was, but I reminded them that we still have a lot of season left and we’ll get another opportunity to fill our tags.

The three and a half hour drive back, gave me time to reflect on the last three days I just spent with my two youngest sons. The memories we had just created were much more valuable to me than the harvesting of a deer. Sure it would have been awesome if they would have gotten a deer, but to me, it was a success just because we were together. There were laughs at the motel room, laughs in the truck, and laughs out hunting. The laugh out hunting was at my expense, I had a bottle of water in the back of my vest that partially froze on an evening hunt. As I made my way out of the woods in the dark, I kept hearing a noise behind me that sounded just like something walking on the frozen snow covered leaves. I must have looked like a dog chasing his tail as I spun around in a circle, with my gun at ready, trying to find the creature chasing me! When I realized it was the frozen water sloshing in the plastic bottle, I laughed at myself out loud, and glad no one saw me. When I told the story to the boys, they laughed hysterically! Those memories will live with me forever.

Upon getting back home from our trip, we unloaded all of our gear and without any time wasted, the boys grabbed their bows, jumped into my truck and headed out to their stands. I guess they weren’t done yet! I’m always a little nervous when they are out there and I am not with them. They know to keep in touch with me; I want to know when they are up in their stands and when they get down. I guess texting isn’t so bad! I sat in the living room, tired from an early start that morning hunting, and the long drive back. I was doing my usual worrying and wondering about the boys and it had been dark for a few minutes and I hadn’t heard from them, so I called Jake. When he answered the phone, I could tell by the excitement in his voice that something happened. “Dad, I just shot at the biggest buck I have ever seen!”  “Did you hit him?” I asked. “I don’t know, I saw the Lumenoc when it left my bow, but I can’t see it now.” Jake explained with excitement. After I thought for a minute, I said, “Let’s leave it alone tonight and we will come back in the morning when we have good light.” Jake had a long night thinking about his shot, Morning came and we took up the track the buck left in the snow, with no sign of a hit. I told Jake, “The good, he’s not injured because of a bad shot, the bad, you missed him cleanly. He is still out there and we have a lot of season left.” My words didn’t help the feeling of a miss on a big buck for Jake, but I could only hope he would get another chance. I remember all of the misses I made in my deer hunting and they are memories I relive every season. The deer now 2, and we were still at 1.

The boys and I hunted every chance we had, work schedules, school, sports, all limited our time in the stands. With snow on the ground, we could see there was good deer movement  and felt confident that it was just a matter of time before the next opportunity presented itself.

On December 3rd, I would have a chance to get into my tree stand for an afternoon sit. I got myself ready and was headed out the door with my bow in my hand, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to use my shotgun instead. I wish I can explain why I changed my mind, but I can’t. It was just one of those moves a hunter makes without knowing why. It was a very foggy afternoon, there was snow on the ground and the temperature was above freezing making a good recipe for fog. After I got into my stand, I realized how thick the fog was. I couldn’t see 100 yards in any direction! I knew that if I were to see a deer, it was going to be in range and appear very quickly. This means that it would disappear just as quick. These thoughts were going thru my mind for the first hour and a half as I was trying to stay mentally ready so nothing slipped by without me seeing it. Around 4:00pm, I had one of those hunter intuitions, I thought to myself, “I could see a big old buck using this fog to slip out of his bedding hideout.” Ten minutes later I looked to my right and sure enough, there he was slipping from the bedding area that the deer have been using all season. If I would have brought my bow, I would have had to watch him disappear into the fog. I could see he was a good buck , so I got my gun ready found him in the scope and with a grunting sound from my mouth,  I stopped him in mid stride. I centered the crosshairs on him and squeezed the trigger only to see him drop straight down and not move again. Big buck down!! After watching for any movement for about fifteen minutes, I climbed down and walked the 75 yards to where the buck went down. As I approached him, I could see that he was a REALLY good buck and got a little excited! Not only did he have great headgear, but his body was huge. This was going to take more than just me to get him back to the truck for sure! I validated my tag, attached it to his antler, and started making phone calls. I took a picture with my phone and sent it to Jake and Kyle, I wanted them to know first even though they weren’t there. After I called some friends for help, but before I started the not so fun job required when you harvest a deer, I lifted his head with my hands holding his antlers and admired him. He was a beautiful example of a whitetail buck, a mature, heavy 9 pointer. “I’m very fortunate” I told myself,  and with closed eyes, I said a silent thank you.

Within a few minutes of sending the picture out, I got a text back from Jake, he said this wasn’t the deer that he missed, and it was bigger!

As of this writing, the score between the deer and the Costabile boys, is tied at 2, but we are not done yet! Our late bow hunting season runs until January 31st and it will take some toughness to sit in January weather, but we’re up to it! Kyle has been hunting hard and he is determined to take a deer with his bow. There were chances to hunt with a gun but I got “no dad, I want to use my bow!”

No matter what the end results are of our deer hunting season, I will have made irreplaceable memories with my two youngest sons that no deer could compare. I hear hunters complain about what they didn’t see or didn’t kill without even thinking of the memories that they lived. Remember it isn’t about the game taken, it’s about the memories made.




Buggin’ Out in the Fly Shop

Calm down, all you preppers. This blog aint about freeze-dried food or holing up at our store for the apocalypse (even though…) this about an infestation that has taken place at our White River Fly Shop!

There’s a whole swarm of new creepy-crawlers available for your fly boxes! I was stopping by to shake the hand of the good man, Rick who showed me some sweet vests a while back, and I noticed these new little buggers. And they weren’t just wooly-buggers neither!

These insect-replicas, or “insecticas”, come in all shapes and sizes. Fly fishing has always been about using man-made objects to replicate the natural prey of fish, namely the different phases of insect’s lives, but these flies have taken it to a whole new level!









We have flies that replicate:








And even Cicadas!!!! (Gross)

These things seriously are really cool though. I honestly feel a little left out that my fly box does not have any of them yet! And while I can imagine a lot of you fly-fishermen grumbling about these new patterns, you never know until you try.

One of my favorite fly-fishing stories comes from my buddy’s dad. He loves to fly-fish and was slamming some trout out on a river. He in fact was the only one catching anything. So a number of other fishermen came up to ask him what he was using. Now my buddy’s dad is from Belgium, which means he can speak French. (I know only one French phrase but try not to say “I surrender” as much as possible.) He told them it was a secret fly from his home country called a “Volant Blue”, which literally means blue fly. The next day he was hanging out at the local fly shop and apparently he watched a dozen or so fishermen come in and ask for a “Volant Blue”. Classic.

So stop on by and add a few new flies to your box. Don't be Giving the Mitten on the Hitchin' Day. Giddy-up!


Fall Tips for Fly Fishing

Fall = Change

                We all think of change when we think of the fall of the year. As a fly fisher-woman, I immediately think about the upcoming winter spawn and HUGE fish. But, fall is a great time to go fishing for trout.  With the cooler weather, there are some special things to take into consideration when fly fishing.

                First, you have to dress a little differently in the fall. Cooler mornings mean you need to layer your clothing. Why not include a lightweight Columbia or Red Head fleece vest or jacket? This way when it warms up you won’t be sweating in your waders. I also carry a pair of lightweight gloves. We have both fingerless gloves and full fingered gloves in the fly shop. They are very reasonably priced and keep you from having to return to your car for warmth.

                Secondly, I always check my tippet and leaders. You need to check these items periodically to make sure that they don’t get brittle or that you don’t just run out completely. We have a large selection of White River, Orvis, and Rio tippet and leaders. While you are checking your gear, when was the last time that you cleaned your fly line? If you can’t remember then you probably need to clean it. I try to clean mine at least once a month. Not only does it make your line float better and cast easier but it extends the life of your fly line exponentially. Fly line cleaners are inexpensive and well worth the money. Come by the fly shop and we can show you how to properly clean your line.

                Lastly, check your waders and boots. Have you cleaned your boots lately? If you have felt soles it is a great idea to spray them with bleach and water mixture. This cleans the bottoms and kills any aquatic invaders that you may be unknowingly carrying. One part bleach to 8 parts water mixed in a spray bottle will do the trick. Check your waders for small leaks make sure they are clean.


Tight lines,



Risk Mitigation for Wade Fishing at Night- A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Risk Mitigation for Wade Fishing at Night- A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

by Captain Jim Barr of Skinny Water Charters


Personally I would rather saltwater fish in very shallow water (preferably with a fly rod), thus the name for my charter business, Skinny Water Charters. (www.SkinnyWaterChartersRI.com).  Most seasoned striped bass anglers know these fish prefer to feed heavily at night and in the low light of early morning and evening. It’s true that in the spring and fall months stripers can be found in the middle of the full light of day, typically when they are making their spring and fall migrations or when they have pushed bait to the surface creating those dreamy sustained top water blitzes. This top water action is found in both shallow water as well as deep water environments. In Rhode Island, during July and August, stripers will often retreat to deeper and colder water that can significantly degrade our shallow/top water fishing opportunities.

In Rhode Island we are blessed with many shallow water /tidal estuaries, flats and salt ponds, absolutely wonderful places to fish for stripers and hickory shad. During those warm summer months one of my favorite places to fish are the salt ponds along our southern coast, each of which is connected to the ocean via narrow breachways that supply cold and highly oxygenated water, and striper forage that includes crabs, shrimp and a variety of small baitfish. Ideally I like to target fishing in darkness, during an incoming tide, and in skinny water. During periods at and surrounding the new and full moons that bring big tidal exchanges and fast moving currents, the incoming night tides can produce spectacular fishing in a beautifully serene environment… few if any competing anglers, no waves or engine noise from passing boats, only the composite sound of the ocean breaking on the distant barrier beach, the occasional screech of a seagull or tern… and the nearby slurping of stripers feeding in shallow water.

Tragedy Narrowly Averted

Several years ago on an early July evening, the stage was set for such an outing. In two canoes, three of us crossed the narrow breachway as the tide began to turn. The new moon would guarantee no light except the faint glow of a starry sky. We each wore a life vest for the crossing, and brought our chest waders, chest packs, and headlamps that would provide the light we’d need to change fly patterns and hopefully unhook fish. We anchored the canoes in a foot of water on the southernmost end of an expansive sand flat that was beginning to come alive with gulls and terns wheeling over clouds of sand eels that were beginning to school on the flat. We removed our life vests and stashed them in the boats for the return trip, wet waded the short distance to dry land to put on our waders and packs, string our fly rods and tie on our starting fly patterns.  In short order we were positioned on the flat and casting to nervous water as the sun set and the salt pond began to fill with cold ocean water.  Our timing was near-perfect, as the light fell from the sky and the “sun setters” on the far shore packed up their beach chairs and wine glasses, the parking lot emptied, and the stripers began feeding… heavily.

As expected the top water fishing became spectacular. We had the entire flat to ourselves on a warm summer evening with all the striped bass we could ask for feeding on the surface as close as a rod length away. We continued to wade the flat casting to pods of breaking fish as they recklessly fed further north on the flat into the belly of the salt pond. During those several first hours of the incoming tide the fishing was so fast and furious that we paid little attention to the gradually deepening water and the distance we were opening from our anchored canoes. The sky was black, the only light being our headlamps that we turned on occasionally to change a fly and unhook a bass. I glanced at my watch and realized there were two more hours of incoming tide before the water went slack. Panic set in when I realized we were roughly 200 yards from where we anchored the boats, that the current was still flowing heavily against us and that I recalled having crossed through several  low areas on the flat where the water would be deeper than the waist high depth I was now standing in.

We soon realized our peril. I was the strongest wader of the three of us, so the plan was that Paul would stay with his girlfriend, turn on their headlamps and make whatever progress they could as I pushed hard against the current and deeper water to get to the boats before we were all swept off the flat into the deep water where with all our gear weighing us down there would be little chance of avoiding being drowned.

As I crossed several deeper areas on my way to the boats, as feared, the current pushed water over my waders so that by the time I reached the relative safety of the canoes I was exhausted and my waders were nearly full despite wearing a tight wading belt.  I stripped off my beach shoes (I never wear wading boots when fishing in saltwater estuaries) and waders and piled into the canoe and floated them down-current to my friends. Together we found shallower water further west on the flat, and eventually paddled back to the launch.

Lessons Learned

I have since wade-fished that same flat during similar conditions but I do a few things different than the night we came so close to tragedy. What’s different?

and the case is inserted into the Lifeproof Lifejacket  Float http://www.basspro.com/LifeProof-LifeJacket-Float-for-iPhone-4-and-4S-Case/product/12091205013851/

  • I tether my canoe or kayak to my wading belt as I wade across the flat. Gone are the days of having to fight against a strong current to get back to my boat.

As anglers we generally are in “overkill” mode when it comes to gear that we take fishing. At the end of every wade fishing venture I take, I can easily identify half the inventory I brought that I didn’t use, but the problem is I don’t carry forward that lesson to the next outing. If you can build into your behavior a discipline that steers you away from toting stuff you never use and backfill some of that space and weight with the safety gear noted above, you’ll be more inclined to fish some of those quasi-risky locations and conditions where the big ones prowl.


Salmon Fishing in September

The Salmon River is waiting for you.  You can fish from shore, by wading or by drift boat.  Anyway you look at it, what a exciting time to be fishing.  At Bass Pro Shops we have exactly what you need to enjoy that fighting fish experience.  The right equipment, and knowledge is important so your encounter with that large salmon is safe as well as fun. Salmon fishing will keep you coming back year to year.

New York Salmon are some of the largest gamefish found in the northeast.  The salmon have small scales, soft-rayed fins, and a lobeshaped fin on its back.  They are slender and streamlined.  This body shape makes it possible for them to hold their position in tumbling rivers as well as make swift movements when seizing their prey.  Salmon range from a delicate shading of spots and irregular markings to silver metallic.  They can also be bright and bold during the spawning season.  Salmon thrive in freshwater as well as sea water.

Never been Salmon Fishing?  Well stop by our Fly Shop to talk with our associates, and they will set you up with what you need.  To start off with check out the Temple Fork Outfitters Signature Series II.  This two piece rod includes a rod, reel, line, backing and leader.  Just great for beginners.








We recommend a breathable wader.  Try the White River Eco Clear Waders 100% waterproof waders with ECO clear technology.  ECO clear are a crushed walnut and dynamic rubber compound.  This compound helps keep organisms from attaching on to your gear.  Add a wading belt and you are covered.

















Don't forget your floatation vest.  The Simms G3 Guide Fishing Vest is great with 22 pockets, and a breathable mesh liner to keep you cool.  This fishing vest will keep everything from your flies and tools to your license and cell phonevest

Our associates in the Fly Shop always recommend a wading staff.  The White River Wading Staff, is lightweight, collapsible, and provides just the right amount of stability for those slippery rocks.







On to bait - Roe Flies or Glow Bugs as some call them are fantastic for spring and fall salmon fishing.  You want something to immitate egg patterns.  If it is estaz  flies you are looking for, stop on down and talk with Mike DeTomaso our associate in the Fly Shop.  He will be happy to tie the flies you need.















Finally, Don't forget sunglasses.  Bass Pro Shops has a large variety of sunglasses to pick from.  One that you might find interesting are the polarized Fish Eyes Bifocal sunglasses .  They add just a little bit of bifocal so you can tie what you need on quickly.







Enjoy the month of September salmon fishing, and remember we are always here to answer any questions you may have.


Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator


Versatile Fly Vests

Let me start off with a fact here, vests are awesome. If you can wear one, do it. Many a young man realizes this early on, which is why so many kids insist on wearing cowboy outfits to the grocery store. What was my favorite part of prom? Ditching the jacket and rolling up the sleeves with that vest-tie combo popping! (Never thought I’d pull off apricot but dang I did. Second fact of this blog.)

Now I’ll go ahead and say this as well, fly fishing for all of its grace and skill is kind of… goofy. Don’t get me wrong! It is a great way to spend the day and makes you feel like Zane Grey, but some of that attire… lame.

Except! Vests. Fly fishing vests are pretty sweet. Since I just went and reminisced a little about the White River Fly Shop when I talked to Kerry in our fishing department about bass lures, I decided to stop by and see what the deal-io was with our vests.

I found none other than Rick holding down the fort. If there was ever a man that could teach you a thing or two about Clown Hair Caddis patterns, there he was. So I asked him what he looks for in a vest.

First and foremost he said his vest will need a lot of pockets. These pockets will hold his fly boxes and a few other accessories. Rick, on average, has three fly boxes on him when he is out slaying fish. He will have one for his dry flies, one for wet flies and streamers and one for his mergers.

Along with a bunch of pockets up front, he likes having a big pocket in the back. This is where he will stash his water, snacks and such. Having this stuff in the back will also help balance you out with your front loaded to the teeth like an Arnold Schwarzenegger character. But instead of bullets you’re carrying buggers… wooly buggers!

Speaking of the back, out here in the desert it gets hot in the afternoons. Having a mesh vest will help your back breath a little bit. Breathing backs is usually half the fun, but scholars still debate this.

A nice little extra is a dry pad on the vest. This dry pad will make quick work when drying your dry flies off. (My apologies if that last sentence was a little dry.)

D-Rings (maybe not the technical term for them) are awesome for hanging your clippers and snippers. Now please note that Rick did not even need to be prompted to make that statement rhyme. It flowed naturally like a mountain stream which confirms my suspicion that when Rick is not fly fishing he is rocking underground rap battles.

Vests will also come with two different harnessing operations. There is the full shoulder covering vests, which have that classic goofy fly fishing look. They are solid, stable and do not slip that much.

There are also the shoulder strap vests, which allow for freer movement when casting. Just like with the mesh letting your back breath, the lessening of material means you will not sweat up such a storm.

Now we carry a multitude of options at our White River Fly Shops for fly fishing vests. I might even explore other options for carrying your fly equipment downstream with you. (Spoiler alert!) So come on by and talk to Rick or any of the other fly-masters next time you are around. (You can even snag a little one for junior, check the top left corner.) Just don’t expect to hear a few sick beats from Rap Master Rick, he does that off the clock! Mending Bends and Tyin’ Tippet!! Giddy up now!


Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas

Dad can sometimes be a little hard to shop for. Not to fear, Bass Pro is here! We went around to every department asking for their tips and best gift ideas, so here's what the pros said.


If your dad needs a new pole but you're not sure which one, our associate suggests Bass Pro Shops Megacast baitcast combo. It's pretty basic, but is a nice combo with bait caster. If he prefers a spinning reel, we have plenty of those in our store too. This combo is on sale for $49.99.




Our associate's favorite best seller right now is the Ascend Mid Hiker which he says if paired with the Ascend wool socks, makes for an amazing hiking experience. The boots have Vibram outsoles, the number one sole in the business, and is perfect for a hiking dad. It has bone-dry waterproof technology and moisture-wicking Cambrelle linings. They are also on sale for 69.97.




A popular item in the hunting department is the Kershaw volt II, an assisted opening, straight edge stainless steel pocket knife. It's on sale right now for $24.97 and going fast.

A trail cam would also be a great Father's Day gift since it's about that time to start putting them out. Along with the trail cam, you could get your dad attractant. Our associate gave us a tip though to go for the Trophy Rock Four65 package. Although it's a bit more expensive, they're broken up so it's more for your money.




A lot of people come in looking for 5.11 Tacticle Taclite vests and your dad is sure to love it too. It's lightweight with a ton of pockets and work for shooters, emergency personnel and authorities. It's pockets are of various sizes as well as conealed carry compartments.

If your dad is more in to hunting, our associate really likes the ever-popular Redhead camo hoodie that satarts at $44.99. He also suggests the True Fit Essentials t-shirts that are tagless and super soft that come in long or short sleeves starting at $12.99 for short and $14.99 for long




A great gift for dad would be a GPS. If he'd like a handheld, our associate suggests the Garmin GPSMAP62s for $349.99. If he likes to fish, the Huminbird Fish Finder 597ci HD DI Combo  would be a great idea as well for $599.99.

If he's a more adventureous father, the GoPro camera is an extremely hot item right now. It shoots video or photo with wifi capability. It can be mounted on a bike, helmet, vehicle and more for hands free footage. Very, very cool.




The Browning two burner stove is on sale for $99.99 and our associate has one and absolutely loves it. He told me I needed to tell you that. He also said dads would like the Bass Pro Shops fish fryer also on sale for $29.97. It has a 10.5qt strainer basket and is really great if your dad likes to fry.

Our associate also suggested the antigravity lounger on sale for $89.97as well, describing it as a "big man's chair." So while your dad is waiting for his food  to be done cooking, he can lay back in this nicely padded, recliner chair with adjustable pillow.




The men's RedHead Ringer pcoket tees have been flying off the shelves. They're on sale right now for two for $15 and are very soft and comfortable. To go with the shirts, you could get dad some RedHead Macks Creek Shorts too, on sale for $14.97




Our gifts associate had a ton of great ideas for dad. If he likes to cook, she suggested one of our many BBQ or grilling books with some of our BBQ sauces to go with it. These would also pair really well with that Browning two burner stove. If he's a hunter, we have many hunting DVDs and books as well as Timex or Casio watchse that have special features geared for outdoors. She also said that anything on our Duck Dynasty display would make great gifts for Father's Day because they are so popular.



If you have any questions about these items or need help with other gift ideas, don't hesitate to ask one of our associates in our store. They're here to help and they all have some pretty great ideas.








Getting Started In Kayak Fishing

Ascend KayakEver since putting the flats boat on the market I’ve been trying to figure out how I was going to get back on the water without spending an absolute fortune.  I’d sort of figured a canoe or kayak was going to be the solution but I was a little apprehensive about trying to rig one out the way I needed it. 

Well, I finally added a kayak to the arsenal and just one trip on the water has proven once again that I tend to be a better fisherman when I can’t just pick up and move to another location at 40 MPH.  Kayaks and canoes force me to be more patient and methodical about how I approach the flat.  I caught and saw more fish (despite cloudy water conditions) than I have in the last couple years combined.  Paddling right up to monster seatrout is possible even though they are some of the wariest fish on the flats.  I realize they know I’m there and catching them is unlikely, but getting that close is a thrill none the less. 

So what do you need to purchase in order to get on the water in a kayak?  Well let’s look at a short list of things that might be nice to start with.

 Kayak.  Either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak of sufficient length to fit yourself and equipment; designed for whatever type of activity you plan on undertaking.  Sit-on-tops are the most common fishing types here in Florida because they are reasonably fast and stable, entry and exit is simple, and some actually allow standing in.  Sit-in’s are a bit faster and they are probably better for long distance touring but for general purpose fishing, other styles get the nod on the flats.

Life Jacket.  Be sure to get one that can be worn comfortably while seated in the kayak for long periods of time.  Many special-purpose kayaking life vests have the floatation strategically located so as not to interfere with a high-backed seat.

Paddle.  Obviously there are dozens of different types and lengths out there, but start with one that will be cost effective, reasonably lightweight, and the proper length for your height.

Anchor.  At some point you are going to want to pull over and take a break, so be sure to pick up an anchor and rope sufficient for your needs.  Grapnel anchors in the one to three pound range along with 25 feet of rope should suffice.  A shallow-water anchor or “Stakeout Pole” is nice to have if you’re going to be spending most of your time in 2 feet or less.  They allow you to stop your forward motion and hold position without having to drag out the main anchor.

Anchor Trolley.  A nice accessory that allows you to anchor at either end of the craft.  This will enable you to position the boat with either the bow or stern into the current.

Equipment Leashes.  It would be a shame to lose your paddle and/or your fishing rods.

Dry Bags.  Everything you own is going to get wet so place valuables in dry bags and store them inside the storage hatches which SHOULD BE reasonably waterproof.

Miscellaneous Safety Equipment.  Check your state regulations to determine what is required such as whistles, lights, and flares.  Sit-in kayakers should invest in a hand operated bilge pump since water will get into the boat because they aren’t inherently water tight like sit-on-tops.

Canoe/Kayak Cart.  Unless you enjoy carrying unwieldy objects that can weigh upwards of 100 pounds, I would highly suggest picking one of these invaluable items up when you purchase your new watercraft.  It will save you a hernia.

Roof Rack.  Depending on what type of vehicle you drive, you’ll need some way of getting your boat from the garage to the water.  There are quite a few types of racks from companies like Tule and Yakima, and it may take some searching to figure out which one will work best for you.

Sam W/BassI’m sure there are quite a few other things some folks might classify as “must have” when hitting the water via kayak, but you have to start somewhere.  Extra rod holders, paddle clips, bait wells (not sure what they are used for), special tackle boxes, etc, will likely be added to the equipment list over time but as in anything worthwhile, I believe it takes some time and experimentation to arrive at the perfect setup.  Don’t just buy things because your buddy says you absolutely have to get one or your life just won’t be complete.


Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Beat the Heat With Summer Trout Fishing

Fly Fishing

Summer time in Georgia usually means one thing---heat and lots of it.  Although we don’t get the super heat of our nation’s arid areas, it’s still plenty hot enough for me.  When it seems as if you’re on the verge of melting in the humidity as you fish local reservoirs and a boat ride sounds good just to cool off, think about a great alternative.  I’m not talking about kicking back in the living room as the AC blasts a steady climate of 72 degrees.  I’m talking about trout fishing in our north Georgia streams and rivers.  The Department of Natural Resources does a superb job in managing hundreds of miles of  very productive trout fisheries that are just a short drive away.  Imagine yourself on a wide river in the morning as wisps of fog unfurl along the water’s surface.  The telltale rings of rising trout are visible as you plan your next cast.  It seems like you’re on a legendary river in one of our great western states, but this is a typical scene on the Chattahoochee and Toccoa River tail race fisheries.  If you’re interested in catching a lot of trout, these are the places to be.  The waters from Lakes Blue Ridge and Lanier flow very cold below their respective dams.  They create optimum conditions to support trout.  Due to size and popularity, both rivers are heavily stocked throughout the summer months.  Access is easy on both, with the Chattahoochee getting an upper hand for an abundance of public land along the river.  I’ve fished quite a few trout streams in the Appalachians over the years and the Hooch is hard to beat for consistent quality fishing, whether you’re dunking a worm or casting tiny flies.  While I have not personally fished the Toccoa, some seasoned anglers claim the fishing is even better.  Both rivers are fishable as long as water from the upstream reservoirs is not being released.  For water release schedules phone (770)945-1466 for the Chattahoochee and (800)238-2264 (option 4 followed by option 23) for the Toccoa.  Of particular note is the Chattahoochee law that requires life vests to be worn by all persons on the river from Buford Dam to the  Georgia Highway 20 bridge (Yes, I do sound like the recorded message.) which is three miles downstream.  This is for a very good reason.  Know the release schedules and if you hear horns sound, get out of the water immediately.  Some of our streams are managed by special regulations.  For instance, on the Chattahoochee, anglers cannot use live baits below the Highway 20 bridge.  Get up to speed by picking up a copy of the regulations at a local tackle shop or visit www.gofishgeorgia.com

 Choose Bright and Dark Colors for Lures

Fly Fishing

 If you enjoy catching fish on light tackle, trout fishing is a perfect opportunity.  Although some anglers use ultralight rod and reel combos paired with six pound test, four pound string will yield more strikes.  Some avid anglers even use two pound test line.  Spinning tackle is superior in this application although some anglers opt for spincast or underspin outfits for ease of use.  If you’re getting beginners or youngsters into the sport, the latter options are very fine choices because they are easily mastered.  Ultralight rods in the four to five foot range are the norm.  There are some who prefer much longer rods and this includes me.  On larger waters they offer greater casting distance and line control.  I even use a seven foot ultralight model on mountain streams with tight quarters and have no trouble flicking a lure or live bait into a run that might hold a fish or two.  I also prefer a larger reel than most use for light line applications.  Very small reels typically have very small spool diameters.  This means the line has somewhat restricted flow during a cast.  Line flows more easily off a larger diameter spool.  I feel that the heavier reel weight balances the rod tip better as well.  We now have a few smaller reels that boast extra wide spools making them super for light line fishing.  Try an Extreme or Pro Qualifier reel paired with a Micro-Lite spinning rod for a fine set up.  When it comes to line, choose green colors.  This shade best blends in the water for nearly any angling situation.  Fluorocarbon lines have a more invisible light refraction index but can be tough to handle with lighter tackle.  Popular lure types include spinners and minnow shaped plugs.  When it comes to the former, you can’t go wrong with models from Mepps, Panther Martin, or Rooster Tail.  For the latter, look for the brands Rapala and Yo-Zuri.  The myriad of color choices among these categories can seem like a sojourn into Alice in Wonderland.  As a general rule of thumb for spinners, choose a few bright colors and a few darker earth tone and natural insect colors.  For the minnow plugs, the bright colors are fine choices along with brown trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout patterns.  Both lure types are very easy to effectively fish.  Simply cast quartering upstream and retrieve as they swing down with the current.

 Get Hooked on Fly Fishing 

If you really want to have some fun, I recommend fly fishing.  Fly fishing and trout streams were meant for each other.  Using the right techniques, you can often catch more than you would by tossing artificial lures.   Fly fishing has a vastly undeserved reputation as being difficult to master.  At the age of thirteen I self-taught myself how to cast a small popper using the manual that came with my Abu-Garcia fly reel.  This can only mean that anyone can do it.  It opened up a new and very exciting way to catch bluegill and small bass on local farm ponds.  Today’s instructional books and DVD recordings make it easier than ever to get started on the right foot.  A good outfit including line can be had for a very reasonable price.  Pick a floating line as it will serve well for presenting dry flies and weighted subsurface nymphs or streamers.  Fly outfits are classified by weight.  A four or five weight set up with an eight to eight and a half foot rod is a great all around choice for our area.  You’ll want to pick up a few leaders and some tippet material while you’re in the shop.  For our larger fisheries such as the Chattahoochee and Toccoa Rivers, weighted subsurface nymphs and streamers will produce the most fish day after day. The former often sport metallic bead heads for weight and are fished under strike indicators.  A bushy dry fly can make a fine strike indicator as well.  As a bonus, aggressive trout will often smash the surface fly.  To be effective, nymphs are fished with a drag free drift; that is to say they need to move with the same speed as the current versus ripping along at a faster pace.  A technique called “mending” during a drift adds more productive drag free time to the presentation.  Streamers are hugely fun to fish and work very well on larger waters.  Simply cast quartering upstream as you would a spinner or plug and retrieve with sharp tugs as the fly swings down and through its final downstream arc.  When on smaller streams, I’m nearly always fishing a dry fly.  There’s nothing quite like anticipating the surface strike as it drifts through a run and watching as a hungry trout slashes to take it.  It only gets better when you’ve constructed and tied that fly yourself.  As with the weighted nymphs, dries are most productive when cast mostly upstream and given drag free drifts.  If you’ve hesitated to wade in the fly fishing world, do a little research and you could become hooked. 

 Float Tubes Expand Your Reach


 It’s worth merit to discuss accessories and other things that will make your time on rivers and streams more enjoyable, efficient, and productive.  The first thing is a handy tool that includes precision line clippers and a device for tying a nail knot used for connecting leader to fly line.  On another front, a valid question is does one opt for waders or go without?  While angling on small streams you’ll seldom be in water above your knee or mid-thigh and the cool water along with shade is really nice on a hot summer day.  The two prominent large rivers mentioned herein are a different story.  Their waters are colder than mountain streams and waders are a must.  Sweat pants or fleece models worn underneath provide a welcome layer of insulation.  These days, most anglers wear lightweight and breathable stocking foot style waders.  These are designed to be worn with wading boots.  Boots will provide an extra measure of ankle support while negotiating across slippery rocks.  With thick socks worn to compensate for waders, wading boots make excellent choices for small streams as well.  Floating larger rivers provides yet another dimension to the angling experience.  The small investment of a float tube will actually contribute to safer wading and open up areas that are inaccessible to many.  On a larger scale, when paired with a friend or two and a downstream take out vehicle, a tube enables you to explore miles of water.  Remember that a float tube does not meet the qualification of a life vest.  Speaking of vests, a fishing vest is your wearable tackle box on these river and stream expeditions.  Multiple pockets make convenient storage for small boxes of flies, leaders, bug spray, water bottles, and your lunch of course.  And what could be finer than taking a lunch break while sitting on a rock and listening to the sound of moving water as you contemplate angling adventures that lie around the next bend?  In closing, I’m going to state that even in this age of the catch and release ethic, it’s morally okay to eat trout.  They’re delicious when breaded in seasoned flour and fried or cooked on the grill in foil with lemon, butter, and herbs.  I will keep trout from streams that are regularly stocked.  This use is one of the purposes for plentiful stockings in public areas.  If a fish’s color is exceptionally bright along with long fins, I release it.  This is typically a wild trout and should be preserved.  In closing, I hope you’ll take a relaxing break and give our abundant trout populations some attention this summer.  It’s a perfect way to cool off, unwind, and get back in touch with nature.  Until next month, take care and have a wonderful summer!


Finding Fish in High Water

While May and June are typically some of the best fishing months of the season here in the heartland,   the excessive rain and resulting high water in local waterways has deterred some anglers from getting a line wet.  Here are some tips that will help put more fish on your line in these conditions.

Fish actually thrive in flooded areas-  the newly flooded vegetation and soil wash nutrients into the water, create new spawning areas and provide a banquet of forage for fish as insects and other land dwelling creatures suddenly become available for fish to eat.

Life VestFirst,  safety has to be a priority. Rivers and streams will be flowing faster and higher than usual,  and you must be cautious from shore or in a boat. Flooded areas will have many unseen hazards below the waterline,  and there is likely to be a lot of debris in the water. Ask the local DNR or park service for any advisories or warnings before going out- know the current conditions so you can be on  the water safely for your experience and skill level. The most important safety item is to always  wear a life jacket if in a boat-  Bass Pro sells many kinds,   my personal choice is an auto/manual inflatable vest like the one on the left. These vests are lightweight, very comfortable and can be inflated manually or if so equipped will inflate by itself if submerged. 

Ascend FS10 Angler KayakIf your favorite river or stream is unsafe or has limited access due to high water,  look for smaller impoundments like city lakes or farm ponds. Even with high water lakes and ponds will be safer and provide more consistent fishing than waterways with strong currents. These lakes may not be accessible with a large boat, but there is likely still shoreline access and  can easily be fished out of a smaller craft like a Pond Prowler or a Kayak. These vessels can be hauled in and out much easier than launching a trailered boat. I suggest the Ascend FS10 Angler Kayak or a 9' Pond Prowler. These small boats are highly maneuverable and can get into tight, flooded areas that big boats cannot. A portable fish finder like the Humminbird 160PT will allow you to mark fish and see water temps and do not have to be permanently mounted on your vessel.

Strike King - KVD Square Bill CrankbaitOnce on the lake, you can usually find fish in a high or flooded lake up shallow foraging on baitfish and insects that are taking cover in flooded weeds, brush and timber. Small crankbaits in crawdad or shad patterns will work well, and spinnerbaits really shine as you can fish them fast or slow around flooded structure. Bass may be spawning still in northern areas-  plastics like lizards and creature baits Texas rigged will work well here. Topwater baits like buzzbaits, Pop-R and Heddon Torpedos will also do a great job attracting bass in these Bass Pro Shops - Uncle Buck's Panfish Creature

For Panfish, like Crappie and Bluegill, use small in-line spinners with feather or fur tails, and insect imitators like Gulp! Alive Crickets or Uncle Bucks Panfish Creatures will be a great choice. Fishing with your fly rod using foam spiders,  wooly buggers and damsel fly patterns will produce catches of bass as well as large panfish.

Don't give up on fishing just because there is a lot more water out there this season-  be safe and look for fish in newly flooded areas and you can still enjoy tremendous success.  Tight Lines!

Chris Ulane
Fishing Manager
Council Bluffs, Iowa



peternatev steelheadNow that the ice is out, I look forward to river fishing for some nice ‘Bows!  

It’s pretty crazy thinking about the size of ice rods compared to river rods.  All winter I’ve been using 24inch ice rods and now I’m going to be using my 11’6ft. Browning rod married with an Okuma Aventa float reel.  This set up is perfect for all skill levels!  It’s a set up that I have been using for a number of years and have had great success with it!   Float reels can be tricky to use, so my advice is to practice a little with it beforehand.  But once you master the float reel, you will have more fish in your freezer than a supermarket.  It allows for your bait to drift a natural presentation.  Its center pin characteristic allows for long distance drifts as well!

Trout in the river are spooky and smart fish!  They have a keen sense as to what is real and what is fake in the water! So make sure you use a fluorocarbon leader.  I use the White River Fly Shop Fluorocarbon Tibbet, ranging from 4-6lbs test.  It’s compact size makes it perfect for my vest pockets.  Fluorocarbon is virtually invisible in the water.  Fish can’t see anything but your roe bag or pink worm coming right at them!   Like a lion pouncing on its prey, that ‘Bow is going to inhale your bait! Hang on, because the fights on!


‘Till next time: May your hook sets be Massive and your fish be Monsters!

-Peter Natev




Fly Fishing Chest Packs

By Steve Black

Did you know that 1 out of every 5 guys that comes in our shop buys a chest pack instead of a fly fishing vest? That's 20% of people on your local waters are now sporting these packs and that number has been growing each year. Lots of people are looking for a way to be more efficient and that's really what the chest pack is about.

 Now some fly fishermen and fly fisherwomen will never let go of their fishing vest filled with 50lb of gear for the chest pack. And I equate that logic to the George Costanza character from Seinfeld who could never throw away a receipt and ended up with a wallet that exploded! While your vest wont explode, it is getting heavy these days and it weighs you down.  So for all those out there that think there must be a better way, here are some of the latest packs in the Bass Pro Shops lineup.

White River Deluxe technical pack $49.99, and the smaller Spring Creek pack at $34.99 are great over the neck style packs with padded neck straps and vented backs so that you won't sweat.

William Joseph Mag Series Chest packs are a very cool new chest pack series that  has zero zippers just magnets. The magnets are lined all the way around the openings for a great closure and water resistant seal. They come in three sizes, the Amp $69, Current $89, and Surge $109. 

The Fishpond Arroyo Chest pack is similar in design to its bigger brother the Waterdance Guide pack, yet the Arroyo offers a lighter and smaller version that now features a waterproof fabric developed by Marmot for use in their rain jackets. It has already been a great seller and a good buy at $69.

While not everyone wants a pack hanging around their neck or even not just in front of them, the larger neck style packs like the White River Deluxe technical pack and many Fishpond packs offer a second, longer, strap to wear as a sling and the William Joseph Mag series packs and are adjustable to wear as a sling so you can slide the pack around behind you and get it out of your way.
Personally I am a fan of the packs like the Fishpond Waterdance Guide pack and the William Joseph Surge Series chest packs are designed to wear around the waist so you can take all the weight off your neck and shoulders and place it in the hips. These are also great to swing around behind you and get out of your way while you fish.

So take a look at some of the more efficient pack options next time your interested in buying a vest . I have been using chest packs now for the last 6 years and have not looked back. And believe me, the packs that companies are coming out with now, are  products of lots of research and development and are a long stride from the packs of years ago.