Fishy Facts: American Paddlefish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch

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


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

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

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

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

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

Gear Review submitted by:

Patrick Farmer

Fishing Team Lead – Bass Pro Shops, Richmond, VA

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


Hitting the Road to Adventure

Brook TroutThirsting for something new is something many anglers have to fight if they want to maintain any type of marital harmony, but every once in a while we need to give in and depart upon a quest for new and yet to be conquered pursuits.  For me, it’s been freshwater trout and smallmouth.  You’d think they would have been some of the first species I chased with a fly rod, however, seeing as how saltwater was the first environ I chose to enter, rainbows, browns, and brookies seemed too far away to hope for.

Soon though, I’ll be soaking my toes in a cool mountain stream as I ply the bubbling water for fish I’ve yet to encounter because after many years of crying and begging, our bags will be packed and rods rigged as my wonderful woman and I head north to the Pisgah National Forest in search of new and exciting adventure.  My packing started weeks ahead of our scheduled departure (as is normal with an obsessive compulsive), and I’ve now reached the point of stacking clothes and pre-staging the camping gear.  Sleep has been difficult and it will only get worse as the day draws closer and my dreams fill with glorious beauty and much needed seclusion.Brown Trout

Part of the fun has been the gathering of intelligence, albeit limited in my case according to certain fellow anglers and close friends.  I’ve burned up the Internet for hatch charts, stream flow data, campground locations, and everything else you can imagine the traveling angler might need before venturing forth, and I surely hope all the preparation proves fruitful considering how much of a pain in the neck I’ll be if I don’t get the chance to land at least one of the intended fish.  The timing isn’t quite right for a high degree of success but beggars can’t be choosers when the fishing time’s limited.  “Plan carefully and execute violently” is my motto.

Two four weights, a six weight, numerous lines, and boxes stuffed with Hare’s ears, Princes, Pheasant Tails, Stimulators, Caddis, Light Cahils, Hoppers, Ants, Adams, numerous types of streamers, and many other miscellaneous pieces of tackle are packed and ready to be deployed when the time arrives, but the calendar just doesn’t seem to move along quickly enough.  She’ll have to put up with another week of manic preparation before hitting the trail, but it will all be worth it when we’re standing alongside a deserted stream somewhere in North Carolina looking for that first fish to reveal itself.  God help us all if the first cast of the trip finds its way into a tree or some other type of obstacle.

Rainbow TroutExpanding our horizons and getting out of our comfort zones on occasion provides the spice of life, and fishing in general or searching for more and more species, gives us a good reason to keep testing our boundaries.  It doesn’t always have to be an exotic location that entices us to leave home since every new adventure helps us grow as anglers.  Maybe we’ll learn something about ourselves at the same time.

I’ll hopefully have something good to report once we return, but the trip will surely be a success regardless of how many fish are actually landed. 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

How to Shop for the Perfect Pair of Costa Sunglasses

Costa is a top notch brand when it comes to sunglasses and fishing on the water. They have technologies that blow away all other sunglasses brands with options best for all different types of outdoor activities.

When shopping for Costa Sunglasses, the first way to breakdown decisions is by choosing glass lenses or plastic lenses. Glass lenses have the greatest clarity and are scratch resistance which is perfect when you only have that dirty fish towel to wipe your sunglasses off with. Plastic lenses are more lightweight than glass lenses which can seem more comfortable. They are also impact resistant and extremely durable.

Glass lenses and plastic lenses are broken down by 400P, 580P, 400G and 580G. The 400P (400 plastic) consists of 100% UV blockage for max protection, 100% polarization kills reflected glare and reduces eye strain, and provides superior clarity. The 580P (580 plastic) has 100% UV blockage and 100% polarized for superior clarity, Costa C-WALL™ coating repels oils, water, dust, and scratches, and patented technology blocks blue and yellow light for better clarity and color. The 400G (400 glass) contains 100% UV blockage for max protection, 100% polarization kills reflected glare and reduces eye strain, and provides superior clarity. Lastly, the 580G (580 glass) has 100% UV blockage & 100% polarized for superior clarity, patented technology enhances colors by blocking yellow light, and eliminates haze and blur by blocking blue light. Based on customer feedback received in the Rossford Bass Pro Shops, on a scale from least clear to best clarity is as follow: 400P, 400G and 580P and 580P.

The next step is choosing the best lens color for the sunglasses. Costa sells a variety of 7 different lens colors to tackle any activities for your lifestyle. Common for our area are blue and green mirror lenses. Blue mirror lenses are gray based. The encapsulated mirrors deliver superior contrast and color in full sun while eliminating glare making them perfect for activities on open water especially on Lake Erie. Gray lenses maintain color saturation and natural contrast in medium to bright sun conditions. They are an all-around great choice, but are perfect for sports on water and land. Green mirror lenses are copper and amber based and their encapsulated mirrors offer enhanced visual activity. They are perfect for fishing inshore such as flats, rivers, and streams especially on the Maumee River. Copper lenses cut glares and enhance contrast and color, providing eye comfort in any condition. They are the perfect fit for sight fishing and everyday activities such as driving. Amber lenses are another color that are perfect for everyday activities, driving, and sight fishing because they are an excellent all-around lens that delivers the brightest field of vision. Silver mirror lenses are copper based with encapsulated mirrors to optimize light transmissions and enhance colors. They are perfect for freshwater sight fishing and any outdoor activity with variable light. The last lens color is sunrise. They are a high contrast specialty lens, allowing maximum light transmission which are perfect in low lights and to see more clearly during early morning or late afternoon prime fishing hours. These lenses do not pass ANSI Z80.3 traffic signal recognition and are not to be used for driving.


Once you have your lenses picked out, its time to choose the frames. Sure, a pair of sunglasses might look great, but how do they fit? Costa hinges, temples and nose pads are top of the line. Pushing the limits and rethinking what's possible. This attitude guides how they design their frames and choose the materials they use to make them. Wire core temples provide stability and durability that's adjustable with a simple tweak for the perfect fit. Co-injected templates utilize tough nylon and Hydrolite™ and fuse them together to make Costa’s most hardcore frames. Most makers glue or slip such material together to make a frame, but with Costa's co-injected frames the two materials literally become one. The result is a frame that grips the skin the more you sweat.The next part is the Stainless Steel Hinges. Costa hinges cost more than some of their competitors' entire frames. They are made of stainless steel so as to resist corrosion and they are flexible so that they keep their shape and adjust perfectly when worn. Lastly is the corrosion-resistant alloy that Costa uses in their metal frames and rimless sunglasses is a super tough material called Monel®. We know that you'll likely spend some time on the water and in humid environments; therefore, Monel® is up for the challenge.

Costa produces 58 frame styles in sizes small, medium, large and extra large which come in 54 colors. Frame colors depend on the frame style availability. In small sizes, Rossford Bass Pro Shops has Islamorada, KC, and Stringer frames. In medium sizes are Austin, Ballast, Caballito, Fantail, Fathom,Hammock, Inlet, Jose, La Mar, Loreto, Luke, Manta, Pluma, and Sea Fan frames. In large sizes are Blackfin, Boga, Brine, Cat Cay, Conch, Corbina, Cortez, Cut, Destin, Harpoon, Hatch, Indio, Isabela, Rooster, Saltbreak, South Point, Triple Tail, Tuna Alley, and Zane frames. In extra large are Cayan, Fisch, Hamlin, Mag Bay, Man-O-War, Permit, and Rockport frames.

Costas are built by hand and backed for life. If you have a manufacturing defect, the repair shop will fix them for a warranty processing fee of $11.95 to get you back on the water as soon as possible. They will be fixed by completing these steps:

  1. Complete a profile on the Costa website.
  2. Fill out the online repair form.
  3. Print the provided shipping label and send Costa your sunglasses.
  4. Costa will inspect them and give you options for getting them fixed.

In order to get Costa prescription sunglasses you must follow these steps:

  1. Go to your local Costa authorized prescription (Rx) retailer and ask for Costas. Not sure where to go? Feel free to use the Costa store locator. Look for the Costa Rx Logo under Dealer Type.
  2. Choose your frame and lens while there.
  3. Once completed, your Costa Rx lens will have the Costa lens etching and will come with an authenticity card. This authenticity card guarantees that your prescription Costas are the same great quality as non-prescription Costas.

Fishy Facts: Yellow Perch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Bass Pro Shops Tacoma Offers Indoor and Outdoor Fun

As the weather begins to turn warmer there’s no shortage of activities to partake in the Tacoma area. Luckily, Bass Pro Shops Tacoma has all the essentials and gear to meet the needs of outdoor enthusiasts no matter their skill level or interest.

Anglers of all types will find our selection of rods, reels, lures, lines, jigs and other fishing equipment available to help catch a variety of species. There are also waders, nets and a bevy of other supplies for fishing enthusiasts to choose from.

Our hunting department has a wide-range of merchandise, perfect for aiding hunters in their pursuit of numerous types of game, from deer and elk to fowl. The knowledgeable staff in the hunting department can guide our customers in the selections of calls, decoys, stands, blinds and camouflage clothing.

There is more to Bass Pro Shops than hunting and fishing. The natural beauty of the outdoors in Tacoma and the surrounding areas beckons to be explored and admired. Bird-watchers should be sure to check out the selection of binoculars carried in our optics department.

There’s no shortage of camping and hiking opportunities in the Tacoma area and our selection of backpacks, tents and sleeping bags will ensure that time spent outdoors is dry and warm. Camping doesn’t have to be a completely rustic experience, bring some of the comforts of home to the outdoors with a portable shower. There’s a variety of cooking supplies available in our camping department such as camp grills or cast-iron cookware, perfect for using over an open fire.  Additional items like hydration packs, water filtration systems and first-aid kits are just a few of the items we carry to help keep campers and hikers safe and prepared.

The area boasts plenty of waterways, with the numerous lakes and rivers, plus Puget Sound and the nearby Pacific Ocean, boaters have many places to explore. Bass Pro Shops Tacoma carries kayaks and canoes perfect for setting out on smooth waters. Or maybe the more adventurous long for a white-water kayaking experience on some of the local rivers and falls. Our Tracker Department carries an assortment of boats, from small fishing and bass boats to pontoons and much more.

Outdoor recreation is wonderful, but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. At Bass Pro Shops Tacoma, there’s lots of opportunity for fun for the whole family right inside our store.  Relax by the fireplace in our lobby and take in the mounted game, fish and water fowl on display. Visit the 12,000-gallon freshwater aquarium, which has a three-dimensional diorama of a waterfall and is filled with a variety of local species of fish.

Hungry? Stop by the restaurant located inside our store for lunch or dinner.  Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill offers casual family dining and serves grill-type fare. There’s also a sixteen lane bowling alley, decorated with an under-the-sea theme, sure to delight the little ones and those who are young at heart.

In addition to all the outdoor equipment, recreational items, restaurant and bowling alley at Bass Pro Shops Tacoma, there’s also a variety of in-store events, such as our Spring Fishing Classic, Fall Hunting Classic and Go Outdoors event. In addition we will have numerous other seasonal and kid-friendly events throughout the year. Be sure to like our page on Facebook or visit the events page on our website to stay informed on everything that is happening at Bass Pro Shops Tacoma.

Potluck Fishing in South Florida's Freshwater

Peacock BassI can’t even begin to tell everyone how lucky Floridians are when it comes to fishing opportunities, but I’m quite sure readers of my Blogs and newsletters are quite aware of how many chances we have to hit the water and the incredible variety we enjoy throughout the year.  South Florida holds a special place in our hearts, mine especially, and I sometimes wish I didn’t live 200 miles from some of the best fishing anywhere.

Scott and I just returned from another stupendous trip to the region, hitting more water than ever while fishing over a wide variety of habitats and cover types including clear and deep canals, residential lakes and retention ponds, tannin stained sloughs, and Scott even took a few casts into the saltwater side of a water control gate to land his first puffer on fly.

Mayan CichlidOur trip started at 2 AM Sunday morning as we departed my house in northeast Orlando, ultimately reaching our first stop, a Denny’s, somewhere close to Pembroke Pines to fuel up for the coming day and to outline a plan of attack.  Location number one was only a few miles away according to my phone’s map application, so we took our time getting there, and it proved to be a wonderful residential pond full of willing peacocks.  They were schooled up and smashing small baitfish, so we just had to lob a few Polar Fiber Minnows into the fray, and it didn’t take long to land a half dozen feisty fish and essentially destroy the first fly of the trip.  But you can only hit them so hard and we had plenty of ponds to explore.  One of my favorites, an unassuming section of canal along Flamingo Road proved to be productive for a very nice peacock, and a good bunch of mayan cichlids.

Three more stops including one of our best producing municipal parks yielded a very good number of cruising and bedding fish that were very willing to smack the living daylights out of a well presented fly, but we were careful not to over pressure the bedding pairs so as not to adversely affect their spawning activity.  Besides, sometimes it’s just too easy to pick what’s essentially “low hanging fruit.”  We finished off the day with our traditional “first-night pizza,” a much needed shower, a drink or two, all capped off by rapidly falling asleep while sitting up watching a movie.  Seven miles of walking, 11 hours of fishing, and essentially being awake for 40 hours sure can take it out of you.

Green SeverumMonday saw an early morning drive a bit further south to one of the best canal systems in the region.  This particular one sees a lot of pressure but the fishing can be very good at some point along its path if you can find it.  We covered a good portion of the canal reachable by foot and caught some decent sized fish, but the biggest peacocks I’ve ever seen refused to commit to the bite despite taking some pretty good shots at them.  We wondered if they were more in the mood to spawn than to chase food.  Overall, the fishing was a little off what we’ve seen in the past with fewer mayans and less peacocks on the structure than normal.  Runoff, temperature, sunlight, love, who knows what the reason for the less than spectacular fishing.

The highlight, or should I say low light, of this part of the adventure was an exceptionally lucky cast I threaded through the cover across a small pond alongside the canal.  There was an immediate flash as the line snapped satisfyingly tight to something much more immense than anything I expected.  I screamed “THIS IS A BIG FISH!!!” as I firmly set the hook and struggled to winch the monster out of the cover, through the lily pads, and across the pond, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to happen as it became embedded in the obstructions between us.  Recovery took a few minutes after breaking off the leader and re-rigging with trembling hands and a pounding heart.  Tarpon, snook, monster bass, peacock…  We’ll never know.

OscarThe final location of the day was right alongside a busy thoroughfare and although we always think it’s going to be over pressured and the fish more skittish, we caught another five or six beautiful peacocks and a spotted tilapia before the fading sunlight made sighting the fish and remaining in contact with the fly difficult.  It had been a long and successful day, totaling seven more miles of hiking and 10 hours of fishing.

MudfishWe visited a number of spots alongside the Tamiami canal during our last day of fishing, and were lucky enough to find a great variety of fish including oscar, spotted tilapia, mayan, stumpknocker, bluegill, largemouth bass, gar, and the rarest of the bunch, the green severum.  Scott was able to legitimately hook and land one by jumping in on a pair I’d worked long and hard to entice, but I returned the favor by absolutely slamming the Oscars and by landing a mudfish (bowfin) before him.  He did land one though in the eleventh hour and deserves congratulations on checking another one off the list of fly-caught species.  We just happened to pull over to the side of the road and discover a canal where we could sight fish to cruisers with limited obstructions and good water clarity.  All we had to do was accomplish a decent presentation and a good battle was sure to ensue.

I had the opportunity to re-learn a valuable lesson we should all take to heart when fishing in Florida, and that’s the fact that there are alligators everywhere (especially in the Everglades region) and they’re HIGHLY attracted to the disturbance caused by struggling fish.  I had two close encounters with our reptile friends approaching a little too close for comfort, but none of us was injured so I guess “No harm, no foul,” is the motto of the day.  I can claim to have landed a six footer on eight pound tippet and a size 10 topwater fly.

American AlligatorOverall, we enjoyed one of the best fishing trips of our lives without having traveled to a far off land and spend thousands of dollars trying to get there.  Although I didn't get to check any fish off the "To Catch List" there's no way the trip could have been any better since the weather was nearly perfect, the fish cooperative (for the most part), the flies effective, and company top notch.  He drives, I navigate, and we both catch more fish than should be realistically permitted.  This trip is becoming something of a tradition that I hope will continue for years to come.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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.


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

Opening Day of Trout Season in New York State

Opening day of trout is April 1, 2015.  Do you have your license?  Everyone must have a fishing license with them while fishing or helping someone to fish if you are 16 years of age or older.  The license can be obtained right here at Bass Pro Shops!  Stop at our Customer Service counter.  Your license is valid for 365 days after purchase.  Here are the 2015-2016 prices for fishing in New York State.

Resident for a year

Fishing (Age 16-69)             $25

Fishing (Age 70+)                $ 5

7 Day (Age16+)                  $12

1 Day (16+)                        $ 5

Fishing(military/disabled) *  $  5

(*Military Disabled persons with a 40% or more disability)



Fishing (Age 16+)                     $50

7 Day (Age 16+)                       $28

1 Day (Age 16+)                       10

Always check your current New York Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide which you receive free of charge when you purchase your license.  You may also go on at any time to view all the regulations.

You may also replace your license if lost for $5.00.

Fishing is good for any age.  It brings a sense of delight to children and peace to adults.  Bass Pro Shops is dedicated to children fishing.  Teach them young and they will have the sport for the rest of their life.   Fishing teaches patience, skill, you learn about conservation and best of all it gets you outside.

R. Piedmonte

Tracker Time: Regency 254 DL3

I remember hearing several years back that Arizona had the most boat-owners per capita in the United States. This is weird, because we live in a desert. But when you actually start to think about it, it makes sense. Arizona has several large lakes throughout the state and one can drive to Mexico or California for the ocean in hours. Also we have a lot of people from the Midwest that have moved here and brought their passions with them. So really it makes sense, but still weirds me out.

While writing up the blog about the sweet bow fishing boat last month, I couldn’t help notice another newer boat to our store. And honestly, no one can help not noticing this boat as it is probably the largest one we have ever had! I’m talking about the Regency 254 DL3. This thing is a pontoon boat like you have never seen before.

Regency is a newer name to our line of boats, but it is making quite the splash. It is our line of luxury pontoon boats. There are currently three different models, and the 254 DL3 sits right in the middle of them.

The 254 DL3 sits at 27.5 feet and can hold up to 15 people. Now immediately I am sure you brain gives you the visual of over a dozen people on a boat looking like cattle in a chute, but nothing could be farther than this. This boat has several spacious seating areas for you and your passengers. There are two lounges in the front. A L-shaped lounge in the middle. And in the back there is a huge sun lounge facing aft.

And speaking of what else in in the back, this baby has some serious giddy-up! Using the super powerful but also quiet Mercury Verado 200, the 254 DL3 can get up to 35 mph! That is the smallest model Verado though, so upgrading to the larger ones will get you going even faster. (The boat we have in-store can get up to 50 mph.) To help handle this power, the boat uses three pontoons instead of the normal two. This gives the boat better buoyancy, lift, speed and handling.

What really sets the 254 apart from other pontoon boats is the interior. For the captain this boat has an adjustable captain's chair, tilt power-assist steering, multifunction gauges, back-lit switch panels, depth finder and chart plotter. For the crew they can enjoy the built in sound system, starboard aft refreshment center (including on-demand freshwater sink and food-prep area), LED accent lighting located throughout the interior, ample storage for everyone's gear and more!

Of course with something like this, it is a bigger investment. You’ll want to take care of it, and we will help you with that! This boat comes with our 10+Life™ Warranty. That is a 10-year bow-to-stern warranty plus limited lifetime structural and deck warranty. It is also completely transferable to a second owner!

All of the features for the Regency 254 DL3 are available online, but really the best way to get the facts is by checking one out in person. Our Tracker Team will take care of you! The cool thing about our company is how it lets us share our passions with you. (Just let us know when the maiden voyage will be and if there’s room for one more!)


Previous Tracker Topics

Mako 17 Skiff

Grizzly Sportsman 1860 CC

Wildcat Special Edition

Freshwater Fish Conservation Month

February means Spring Fishing Classic and the return of our donation month directly related to fishing.

Freshwater Fish Conservation Month

Did You Know?

  • More Americans fish than play basketball (24.0 million) and football (8.9 million) combined.
  • Fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing golf, target shooting, hunting with firearms, backpacking and wilderness camping, baseball, mountain biking and skiing.
    (Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

A $2 donation helps keep our streams, rivers, and habitat healthy for fish and keeps our next generation fishing! All donations will be matched by the Johnny Morris Conservation Creel of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Where Do the Donations Go?
The donations go to The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which has supported thousands of conservation programs across the U.S. since 1985, including freshwater fish conservation programs designed to:

  • Educate the general public regarding the perils facing our fish populations.
  • Motivate people to support the cause of freshwater fish conservation.
  • Use the donations received to fund various initiatives around the country toward improving fish habitat, species health, etc.

What Does it Mean for Iowa?
Here is a sample of projects that have benefitted in Iowa:

  • Raccoon River Valley Restoration
  • TreeKeepers program
  • Iowa Buffer and Declining Habitat Programs in several Iowa counties
  • Cooperative Conservation for Watershed Health
  • Nutrient Soil and Habitat Management in Upper Cedar Watersheds
  • Upper Iowa River restoration and education
  • Managing Biodiversity in the Iowa and Cedar River Valley
  • Engaging landowners in farm bills affecting the Driftless Region of NE Iowa

For research how the NFWF benefits your state, check out their interactive map!


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Crappie Madness is Coming!


Black Crappie



January 19 - February 8th


It's crappie season and there's no better time to gear up for your next trip perch jerkin'!  The first Crappie Madness Sale and Event for the Savannah Bass Pro Shops will begin Monday, January 19th.  We will have all the crappie fishing gear you need on sale, as well as great seminars and fishing demonstrations on our giant aquarium! 

Also known as speckled perch and white perch, crappie are one of the best freshwater fish to target during the late winter/early spring period.  Although they are found all over the United States, Down South our crappie grow GIANT, with fish over 2 pounds being a frequent catch.  There are quite a number of ways to fish for them, whether it be trolling, jigging, or using live bait under a slip float.  We have all the gear and accessories for all techniques!

Did I mention that crappie are one of the most delicious freshwater fish out there?  A good fillet knife and scaler are a must for cleaning a cooler full of big slab crappie!  We have a huge selection of fillet knives, fish cleaning accessories, and cooking gear to help you get ready for your next fish fry!

Come visit our knowledgeable staff and they'll help you get geared up during Crappie Madness!


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!


Former Finned-Friends:


Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass






Bull Shark


Tie One On: The Adams

So far we have covered a few fly patterns that are infamous in fly boxes. Another pattern, that was straight out of a B Sci-Fi movie and a knot. For the final Tie One On blog of the year I decided it was time to let a little guy shine. But just like Yoda, judge him not by his size. This month’s pattern of choice is the Adams!

The Adams is a dry fly that some say would be the most famous fly in the world. This pattern is specific for trout, but can catch most other freshwater fish species. Of course like all other patterns, this fly comes in an assortment of sizes, colors and slight variations.

Universally though this patterns mimics a wide variety of items that could be on a trout’s menu. So it is not weather, location or any other way specific to fish with. Some estimate that this pattern has caught more trout than any other one.

This pattern will be celebrating its 93rd anniversary next year, as it was first tied in 1922. It came from Michigan via a man named Leonard Halladay. Like many in that area at that time, he worked in the lumber industry. Slowly though he transitioned away from that but always kept fishing. He and his wife ran boarding for lumber workers, but as that slowly dried up they found new tenants in fly-fishermen. Halladay was by all means an outdoorsman. Besides fly-fishing and fly-tying, he raised chickens and hunting dogs. This pattern got its name for the client (a Mr. Adams) who was the first to use the fly and saw immediate success out of it.

Fly-fishing had always been more of a European tradition, as that is where it was founded. Around this time though it was growing in popularity here in America. The fact that this pattern was created by an American during this “growth spurt” really helped established American fly-fishing. Like most other patterns, the Adams was tied to the strictest of measures but slowly gave away to evolution. Many now do not tie the original tail on this pattern anymore. What once were two specific golden pheasant tippets is now a bushier rendition and no longer made using the original material.

While it may have changed, its success rate has not. This pattern still catches fish and will for as long as imaginable. And while considering American history, this fly pattern may not be as well-known as apple pie or baseball it is a legend of its own.


Previous Patterns

Woolly Bugger

Royal Coachman

Pheasant Tail Nymph


Trilene Knot

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.



Former Finned-Friends:


Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass






Bull Shark

Bass Pro Shops Again Supports Our Wounded Warriors

There was a happy crew of Wounded Warriors and their families who returned to the Destin Harbor on Saturday, October 11th, after a successful day of fishing on board the Pescador III.  Plentiful Red Snapper, King Mackeral, and other fish were the catch of the day!  Destin Bass Pro Shops donated a number of items, including the Bass Pro Shops caps shown in the photo to make this fishing trip a memorable outing for these Wounded Warriors.

Previously, on Friday evening, September 26th, Destin's Bass Pro Shops held an old-fashioned fish fry for another group of Wounded Warriors and their families at beautiful Live Oak Landing on Black Creek near Freeport.  Our local Pro Fishing Staff were on hand and Nick's Seafood Restaurant brought additional food.  Lodging was provided that night by Live Oak Landing and the next morning, the Warriors and their families were treated to a day of freshwater and Bay fishing by our Pro Fishing Staff and members of the local bass clubs.

Destin's Bass Pro Shops supports our active and retired military community and will continue to support Wounded Warrior functions in the local area.  Please remember that Bass Pro Shops offers a 10% discount to all active and retired military personnel with proper ID.

Gary Feduccia

Tie One On: Crawshrimp

Just like this month’s Fishy Fact, we are gonna get a little salty with this month’s Tie One On! Not only are we getting salty but we’re going slightly 1950’s B-Grade Horror Film with it. It is almost straight out of one of those cheesy monster movies, ladies and gentlemen I give you: The Crawshrimp!

No please note, every time you say Crawfish it needs to sound like how Lord Business from The Lego Movie would say “The Kragle!” Please note, if you have not seen The Lego Movie that you have permission to stay inside and watch it instead of being outside fishing or what-have-you.

Just like you use certain patterns for certain fish in freshwater, the same goes for saltwater fishing. Fly patterns are an attempt to create/mimic natural prey to initiate a strike from a fish. You wouldn’t toss a big ol’ bass plug at a dainty brown trout, and you’re not gonna use a salmon egg for snook or redfish!

So now we have to think about the kind of prey saltwater species go after and start making flies to match! The Crawshrimp combines two very common prey items for saltwater fish, especially inshore ones, a crustacean and shrimp.     

This is a sinking bait, as it is not common to find these kinds of prey floating on top of the water. Commonly, sinking saltwater flies are designed to bury themselves into the sand. This one does not. Because of this, it is easy to work off the bottom in a number of ways. This allows the fisherman to create a number of scenarios with the pattern including the bait being injured or fleeing in order to tempt a strike. If a fisherman were to retrieve in short successive strips it gives the illusion of being a shrimp scurrying away.

Commonly this pattern is used on sea trout, snook and redfish. All of these fish are a lot of fun to catch and put up a good fight. One thing to consider with getting any kind of saltwater gear for fly-fishing is how corrosive saltwater can be. Just like with regular fishing, you will want a good saltwater reel specially built for that purpose. Stop by the White River Fly Shop and get all the goodies you could possibly need. Our very own Ed just took a saltwater fly-fishing trip with his family. You can bet he took stock before heading out.


Previous Patterns

Woolly Bugger

Royal Coachman

Pheasant Tail Nymph


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!


Former Fishy Facts


Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass







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!


Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass






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.