Summer Family Camp

 

Bass Pro Shops Family Summer Camp features fun games for kids, and activities and workshops where families can learn the skills they need to enjoy great outdoor adventures together. And it’s all FREE!!

Family Summer Camp begins Saturday, June 27 and continues through Sunday, July 26 at Bass Pro Shops in Sevierville, Tn.

During Family Summer Camp, free workshops and Family activities will be held every Tuesday, Thursday Saturday, and Sunday- June 27- July 26. The entire family will enjoy learning the basics of camping, fishing, archery and hunting. Other workshops include kayaking, water and travel safety, backyard adventures and bird watching.

Workshop Schedule

Tuesday

  • 12 pm    Bird Watching
  • 1 pm      Fishing
  • 2 pm      Archery
  • 3 pm      Kayaking
  • 4 pm      Backyard Adventure

Thursday

  • 12 pm    Archery
  • 1 pm      Hunting and Shooting
  • 2 pm      Travel Safety
  • 3 pm      Water Safety
  • 4 pm      Camping and Conservation Awareness

Saturday

  • 12 pm    Fishing
  • 1 pm      Water Safety
  • 2 pm      Hunting and Shooting
  • 3 pm      Kayaking
  • 4 pm      Bird Watching

Sunday

  • 12 pm    Hunting and Shooting
  • 1 pm      Archery
  • 2 pm      Travel Safety
  • 3 pm      Camping and Conservation Awareness
  • 4 pm      Backyard Adventure

In addition to all the workshops, kids can try a free craft from 12-2 pm

  • June 27-28                                          Make a wooden wind chime
  • June 30, July 2 and July 4-5            Create a kite photo frame
  • July 7, 9, 11-12                                   Color a plaster turkey track magnet
  • July 14, 16, 18-19                              Turtle Sun catcher
  • July 21, 23, 25-26                              Create a lady bug clip magnet

Other free hands-on activities include:

  • Fishing at the catch and release pond and Souvenir Photo - July 4-5 ONLY
  • Fish Casting Buckets
  • The Duck Shooting Range
  • Daisy BB Gun Range
  • Wildlife Carousel

 

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Capturers of the Outdoors: Steve Rinella

So far on this blog series I have covered let us say “an older generation” of capturers of the outdoors. Most people my age have never heard of Zane Grey or Peter Capstick. And many probably think Planet Earth was the first program to show nature on TV. It makes sense, the number of people who recreational fish, hunt, camp or so on is dwindling drastically. Many younger generations think of these activities as “old school” or what their grandpa used to ramble on about. With all of the anti-meat, anti-gun, anti-hunting and so on so prevalent in the news and media many people hide the fact that they hunt. It can be hard for younger generations of hunters to be able to voice their opinion and beliefs when it comes to holding onto that tradition. But luckily, our generation and future ones has a voice in Steve Rinella.

Steve Rinella is an avid outdoorsman who has had a success writing and television career under his belt under the age of 40. When you think of many of your successful outdoor television personalities, people like Jim Shockey or Bill Dance come to mind. And while no disrespect to either of those two greats, they are harder for the younger generation to connect with. You can truly see the passion and love for the outdoors and hunting in his shows and through his writing.

To date, he has published three books: American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter. (His books are available through his website.) I have read the first and last one. I loved them both. (Go way back to Oct. 2013 and you’ll see I mentioned his first book in a blog.) The American Buffalo book is a great one for anyone. The Meat Eater book is excellent and should be owned by any hunter. In it, he takes us on a journey through his life by using different hunts. The Scavenger’s Guide book will hopefully be on my shelves here soon. In it Steve apparently tries to collect enough food for a 45 course meal of wild game recipes.

Other than books, Steve writes avidly for numerous outdoor magazines. Those including Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Bowhunter, Fly Fisherman and Petersen’s Hunting. But his articles don’t stop there, he has also written for: Men’s Journal, Outside, New York Times and Oprah’s magazine. Some of those last few might blow the mind off of who a “normal hunting writer” should be writing for. But that is the thing! Steve transcends those “norms” and can discuss hunting with anyone. And he does quite frequently. He has appeared on national radio programs and has even done live web chats with people. He is not afraid to voice his opinion and passion.

As mentioned at the beginning, Steve also appears on TV. His first show was called The Wild Within and was produced for the Travel Channel. It was amazing. Unfortunately it was only eight episodes long, but each one of them was great. Since 2012, Steve has hosted the show MeatEater on The Sportsman Channel. It has followed his adventures for four seasons now, and looks to keep going. What I love about his shows is how he shows every aspect of hunting. Some TV shows it is just “here, watch this” and “wow, what a nice animal”. With both of these shows the process of scouting, tracking, harvesting, cleaning, preparing and cooking the game is all included. Which is important, because those are all things including in hunting itself.

Steve has also mastered the art of media and has successful YouTube videos and a podcast. To him there is a strong bond and need for the outdoors and wilderness with mankind. He aims to maintain his bond and encourage others to discover and develop theirs.

-Giddy-Up!!

Previously:

Zane Grey Disney Nature Peter Capstick

Related:

Ansel Adams Teddy Roosevelt Fred Bear Boone and Crockett Club NWTF and DU

Henry David Thoreau Pope and Young Club

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Family Summer Camp – 2015 at Mesa, AZ!

Well I guess it’s about that time again to start marking down the ol’ summer-fun calendar and making arrangements to bring the family on down for Family Summer Camp here at Bass Pro Shops – Mesa, AZ! This is one of our larger events we hold every year and it is definitely one of the most fun! If you thought the Gone Fishing Event was intense, you have no idea what is coming our way! It is a month long, four days out of the week, five hours each day FREE and FUN FRENZY!! We have numerous activities for the younger generation to participate in!

From June 27th – July 26th

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 5PM

We will have the following activities:

Shooting Arcade

Zing Toys

BB Gun Range*

Archery Range*

Wildlife Carousel

Casting Buckets

Workshops will run from Noon to 4PM (Schedule of topics will be below.)

Crafts will run from Noon to 2PM/While Supplies Last (These do change weekly.)

*Participants under the age of 18 will have to have parent/legal guardian fill out a waiver

For the weekend of July 4th and 5th we will also be bringing back our Catch and Release Pond along with FREE Photo Download! Both of those will run from Noon to 5PM.

We have had the pleasure of seeing a number of familiar faces over the past few years, come time and again! We have also seen a significant increase in the amount of families attending! It is awesome! I mean where else can you take the kids for several hours that is air-conditioned, full of activities and has taxidermy? This is a great way to beat the Arizona heat and encourage kids to get passionate about the outdoors! AND IT IS ALL FREE!!!!

For the Workshops, we have NINE different topics. Each seminar will start on the hour and go for about 20 minutes. After the seminar is done, kids will receive an activity book with special questions. The answers to those questions are hidden somewhere in the store, and kids have to find the signs to figure them out! After they figure them out, bring the book back to the Workshop Area and show the Associate your answers. If you got them right you earn a pin for that specific workshop! First time comers will receive a lanyard to put their pins on, but there will be a limited supply. The workshop schedule is as follows:

Tuesdays

Noon- Bird Watching

1PM- Fishing

2PM- Archery

3PM-Kayaking

4PM- Backyard Adventure

Thursdays

Noon- Archery

1PM-Shooting & Hunting

2PM-Travel Safety

3PM-Water Safety

4PM- Camping

Saturdays

Noon- Fishing

1PM- Water Safety

2PM- Shooting & Hunting

3PM- Kayaking

4PM- Bird Watching

Sundays

Noon- Shooting & Hunting

1PM- Archery

2PM-Travel Safety

3PM- Camping

4PM- Backyard Adventure

Family Summer Camp is always a great time here and we can’t wait to start making some awesome memories with you all!

-Giddy-Up!!

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The many reasons to camp at Peninsula State Park – Door County Wisconsin

“Go West, young man” may have been Horace Greeley’s advice to those seeking success back in the 1850’s, but if he’d a met a family looking for a good place to go for a week long camping trip then he might of said “Go North”.  Let’s face it, summer heat and camping aren’t always a great mix but cooler temperatures can often be found in the northern parts of the U.S.  One fantastic destination that gives you a chance to beat the heat and enjoy awesome family fun is Peninsula State Park located in Door County, Wisconsin.  Located 409 miles from the East Peoria Bass Pro Shops, Peninsula State Park is a huge park on the shores of Green Bay on Lake Michigan.  This northern location and the close proximity to the lake make for naturally cooler summer temperatures, perfect for evening campfires and cozy sleeping bags, but it also makes daytime activities that much more enjoyable as well. Peninsula State Park and Door County definitely have a wide assortment of things to do.        Peninsula State Park - Door Count Wisc, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Peninsula has five campgrounds totaling 486 camping sites.  While most campsites are reservable, there are also some that are strictly first-come-first-serve.  All the campgrounds offer flush toilet and shower areas and some have electrical hook-ups available.  A vehicle sticker is required to enter the state park area ($35.00 for out-of-Staters staying a week or more). Once you make it into the park and set up your camp, then the real fun can begin.


Peninsula is a park with lots of different activities that will appeal to just about everyone. 

Peninsula State Park, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

  • Swimming is available at Nicolet Beach, a sandy oasis that has a snack bar and rentals of kayaks and other water amusements. 
  • Bicycle rental is also available within the park and Peninsula has awesome bicycle trails.  You can stop at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse for a tour or bike to Sven’s Bluff or many of the other park’s famed scenic overviews.  Peninsula State Park, Outdoor Theatre Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
  • The park also has 20 miles of hiking trails which will let you explore the diverse habitat of the park, view impressive cliff formations and give you a good opportunity to spot some of the park’s wildlife.
  • Fishing, golf, tennis and volleyball are all available within the park. 
  • The White Cedar Nature Center is another great destination, it offers tours, nature crafts and outdoor activities.
  • You can take in a show at the American Folklore Theater with its magnificent open air, red pine backdrop and its family fun performances. 
  • And of course you’ll want to make sure you take a drive along the scenic Green Bay shoreline for incredible views and to find a great place to watch an awe-inspiring sunset.

 

Not only are there an amazing amount of activities at Peninsula State Park, there are also a wealth of family fun attractions packed into the entire Door County area.  There are many quaint, picturesque towns scattered around the county that have wonderful shops, restaurants, artist galleries and other fun family activities.  There are historic old lighthouses to see and cherry orchards where you can pick your own.  You can find Museums, Fish Boils, Petting Zoos, and Charter Fishing trips. From mini-golf to high end art studios, Door County has something that will interest everyone in your group.  This is one vacation spot where you won’t run out of things to do during your week-long stay.

Here’s a great camping tip before you escape the heat and head for Peninsula State Park in Door County.  First, stop by Bass Pro Shops and pick up a screen house enclosure.  Easy to set-up and big enough to contain a picnic table, a screen house will provide you a bug-free zone to cook, eat, or just relax if the local insects get a little too pesky.  Check out the Bass Pro and Coleman brands of these handy structures, your whole family will appreciate the comfort they provide.  Bass Pro Shops camping department has all the equipment you need to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.

Peninsula State Park Visitor's Guide

This is the 3rd in a series of great Places to Camp. Please visit Bruce's other blogs:

Bruce Zilkowski, Camping Department
Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL

 

 

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Look at That! Weather Vanes

One of my favorite movies has to be Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. One of my favorite characters is Percy, the stable worker. At one point a huge storm rolls into town and Percy warns the main characters to get inside. “Big-un’s comin!” I love it. Phrases like “Storms a-brewin’!” and “Best get the livestock in!” have pretty much made themselves home in any kind of discussion considering a storm. Fun fact, as my buddy and I were driving down the highway he noted an incoming desert monsoon. I put all those phrases together and it caught him just as off-guard as the storm did!

Now there are many ways to have a heads up with the weather. Listening to the radio, watching the Weather Channel, checking your smartphone or reading the newspaper all provide hints at what the day will be like. Two of my favorite ways though are to look at the sky and check your weather vane!

Looking at the sky gets us away from technology and lets us take in the world for its true beauty. Checking your weather vane lets you utilize an older technology and probably appreciate your front or back yard for a few extra moments during the day. And the style/topper of your weather vane can say a lot about yourself.

There are two companies that we carry a bunch of different options online of weather vanes. The first we will take a stroll through is Good Directions, Inc. They make a ton of attractive options that would look great in any number of places in the yard. I am quite partial to the rooster myself. They may come with a higher price-tag than one would expect but you know you are getting something that will last for seasons.

The second company is EZ Vane Inc. They have quite a number of options, including colleges. As flying your school’s logos/colors have become more and more popular, this company might offer something your front yard would not do without. I’ll let you look online to see what schools they currently offer, but let me just say this, if you aint a gator… you’re gator bait!

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring Hand Towels Rainproof Camo She Outdoor PETT

BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag RedHead Gun Rack Chicken on a Stick

Traeger Smoker/Grills Casio Pathfinder RedHead Wellington Boots

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Springtime Camping at Starved Rock State Park

April is gone, May has begun and if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start thinking Camping!  Comfortable daytime temperatures, cool nights and less bugs makes this a great time to go camping. So, whether you’re just looking for a little weekend adventure or want to do a shakedown campout before a big summer time trip here is a great destination for early spring; Starved Rock State Park near Utica Illinois. 

 Starved Rock waterfall - courtesy WikimediaLocated about 70 miles north of the East Peoria Bass Pro Shops, the “Rock” is an
awesome park and one of Illinois’ most visited outdoor locations. 

On the banks of the Illinois River, Starved Rock offers some incredible hiking opportunities that will take you through, in and over beautiful sandstone rock formations.  The park has over 13 miles of well-maintained, well-marked trails that let you explore its sandstone canyons; many of which have fabulous waterfall features. In fact, after a winter of heavy snowfall, this “Jewel of the State Park System” boasts up to an amazing eighteen running waterfalls. Early spring provides a once a year opportunity to witness their magnificence. In addition, you can also enjoy some incredible scenic views from on top the high bluff walls that overlook the IL. River valley.  Hike the paved trail to the top of the most famous formation in the park and learn about the Native American history which gives this “rock” its name. All of this right here in central Illinois!  Who knew? 

Actually, a lot of people know and during the summer season Starved Rock’s 120+ camping sites fill up fast and its trails can be downright crowded.  That makes April a perfect time to beat the crowds before the summer season arrives.  So check the weather report and find a nice weekend and make your camping reservation for Starved Rock with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. And remember, while spring rains can dampen some weekends they also bring out the beautiful early season wildflowers and you may even spot a tasty Morel mushroom or two. The early season moisture can also enhance the parks waterfalls making them even more spectacular than you’ll likely see later in the year.

Early spring is also an excellent time to spot lots of wildlife like White-tailed deer and the Bald Eagles that frequent the river banks around the park. It's also a great time to catch some fish from the park’s cement wall just above the river. Sauger, walleye and white bass all migrate upstream this time of year and some real trophies can be landed. If an unexpected spring shower does pop up then go check out the interior of the beautiful Starved Rock Lodge or visit the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center located just across the river from the park.  Here you can watch huge river barges “lock through” the dam and you can learn more about the river system itself. 

If you need help getting started with camping then stop by the camping department at Bass Pro Shops, for less than the cost of a two night hotel stay we can outfit you with a quality tent and sleeping bags from the top names in outdoor gear.  Companies like The North Face, Kelty, Coleman, Eureka, Ascend and many more.  If you’re a seasoned camper then stop by and see all the newest camping gear available, you’re sure to find something that will make your Starved Rock weekend getaway awesome family fun. Download the Starved Rock brochure.

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Bruce Zilkowski, Camping Department

Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL   

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The Day that Changes Lives

By Rod Slings
Central Iowa Long Spurs Member
Hunting safety expert and retired Iowa DNR law enforcement supervisor,
 

“This day changed lives!” 

A quote heard over and over, from our hunters and our volunteers, at the 2015 Wheel’n Sportsmen Turkey Hunt. The weather was not what we had ordered. Conditions were strong winds and heavy rain beginning at sunrise and that came in waves.   However, that did not dampen the spirits of our hunters in the turkey woods.  At the end of the hunt, 11-year-old Quinton was the one hunter that harvested a turkey.

As the hunters and volunteers began to arrive at 3:00 a.m. (yes, that’s in the morning), the excitement began to build. The camouflaged clad silhouettes came in, one at a time, armed with big smiles and filled with anticipation of what the day had in store. Without hesitation, handshakes, hugs, the reestablishment of old friendships and establishing of new ones began. Those in wheelchairs, power chairs and those that needed just a little guidance were welcomed and made comfortable to find a place at the breakfast table.   

Welcoming everyone was first on the agenda, followed by introductions, a prayer for safety and thanks for the resource about to be enjoyed. A hot breakfast was served, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and a safety briefing was all part of the plan. 

Then, Team Todd, Team Cole, Team Angie, Team Quinton, Team Matthew, and more, began to load up and head for the turkey woods with guides and helpers ready to begin their hunt. Blinds had been set, those that needed to be lifted into Utility Terrain Vehicles were lifted, those that need to be driven to the door of the blind were carefully guided in the dark. 

This event is about people helping people, kindness, respect and love of the outdoors all rolled into one event. It changes people in just a few hours; it creates life long bonds between those that do not have the luxury of easy mobility and those that before this event took it for granted.

It’s about sitting beside an American hero and hearing their stories of war in a dark hunting blind.
It’s about sitting next to someone whose life changed in a moment in time, then reflecting on one's own life.
The harvest of a turkey is just a small part of being part of this spring morning in Iowa.
It’s about life.
It’s about empathy, courage and watching the world wake up in a place where everyone is equal in creation.
Listening closely, watching for someone who cannot see.
It’s about being their eyes, being their helper, or just being their friend.

Some think this event is about harvesting turkeys, but it is so much more than that.

It’s about life; it is about improving the quality of lives.
It’s about a new adventure for a person that is now a hunter that just happens to be mobility challenged.
It’s also about a helper who is now surrounded by a new environment, which even brings rejuvenation to their soul.
It’s about the guide that is helping share the gift of the hunt in this wild outdoor place.
Finally, for everyone involved, it’s the excitement of the sound of a gobble or songbirds singing the praises of a new day.
For these hunters, it’s not like their yesterday, it’s about making memories today, for their tomorrow.   

The results of this event cannot be measured. It can only be shared, enjoyed and become part of our individual life stories.  It’s not certain whose lives are most improved or impacted by this experience. We can only hope it improves those lives that this event is intended for, only if for a few hours, or reflecting on their memories made and the photographs taken.

A very special thanks to the American heroes at Camp Dodge, whose passion for helping disabled veterans participating in our hunt is always beyond the call of duty! The Rangers and Staff at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers at Saylorville Lake and their never-ending hospitality with meeting space, for planning, site preparation and scouting for success. The Staff at Polk County’s Jester Park and hosting our base camp for the event and providing hunting blind locations. Thanks to our volunteers for giving of their time and skills to serve as guides and helpers those who make this event possible. Also, to our cooks who serve a wonderful breakfast and celebration lunch to all of those who attend. Most importantly, thanks to our extraordinary hunters and their families.

We want to thank each of them for allowing us to honor them with an experience we hope they will treasure as much as we do.

 

 

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Why it Matters: Passing Down

Remember your first fishing or camping trip? The anxiousness and excitement all rolled up into one? Who took you? Do you have anyone that thinks of you when it comes to their first fishing or camping trip? When was the first time you got on a boat? Who made sure you had a life jacket and some water to drink? Have you been that person? What was the biggest rule about safety when it came to handling firearms? Who taught you that? In many aspects of the outdoors, there are hundreds of firsts. And usually for your firsts, seconds and even thirds you had someone there. Some form of mentor to show you what to do and how to do it. Maybe it was a family member, close friend or enthusiastic neighbor but more than likely someone showed you the way.

Nowadays you can watch YouTube videos, read a book or browse Wikipedia to become an expert on anything. But in no way is that the same as being shown by someone passing down a tradition to you. When it came to my first big-game hunt I had all the resources: TV, friends, online articles, YouTube and people at work. But it all clicked together out in the field as my uncle showed me hands-on how to handle a downed animal.

And that is what the outdoors is all about, passing it down. Being good stewards of the land so the next generation can enjoy it is woven into our makeup. Making sure the youth learns about firearm safety above all else when it comes to shooting is standard. Teaching people to pick up trash should be the number one rule for hikers and campers. You teach good and responsible behaviors because that is what you learned.

Many online articles will tell you how the number of hunters in America is declining. I have no doubt that this trend also includes fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. I am sure this directly relates to the advances in electronics and other distractions. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice being able to take a few seconds to access some information but there is a time and place for that. The outdoors should not be a place, unless under emergency, for that.

In Hunter’s Education they teach you that a hunter goes through several stages in life. They end as a hunter who cares more about sharing the passion and teaching skills than any other part of hunting. Do you have to be old and gray to be at this point? Nope! Start sharing with others and doing outreach as soon as you’re comfortable and know how to.

I am sure many of you have favorite memories of learning about a passion of yours. And like I said above I am sure you had someone showing you the way. At Bass Pro Shops we hold several free events a year geared towards the youth. We know that without them, the outdoors will not be around forever. We are always proud to be a part of their memories.

-Giddy-Up!!

Previously:

Getting Outdoors Picking Up Hunting Fishing Hiking Camping Rangefinders

Physical Preparation Slowing Down

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April Showers bring May Flowers?

 

However you describe the new season, one thing for sure is that with Spring comes unpredictable weather. Hot, cold, rainy, windy, tornados… the list goes on.

The Gift Department at Bass Pro Shops offers a great selection of Weather Stations and Weather Radios.

The Weather Alert Radio by Midland is NOAA rated and can display alerts in English, French and Spanish. Help keep you family safe with early warnings. Receive alerts for ONLY your local area with specific area message encoding technology. Stay protected during power outages with battery backup and offers a convenient alarm clock and weather radio all in one. An AC power adapter is included. This radio is recommended by the Department of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness.

http://www.basspro.com/Midland-WR120B-Countertop-Weather-Alert-Radio/product/10227805/

For everyday weather monitoring, Acurite offers the Professional Weather Center with Easy Mount 5 –in – 1 Sensor. Enjoy Indoor and Outdoor temperature readings, Indoor and Outdoor Humidity Readings, Wind Speed, Peak and Average, Wind Direction with Last Reading Indicators, Rainfall Tracking and Rainfall Rate, 12-24 Hour Weather Forecast, Barometric Pressure, Wind Chill, Dew Point, and Heat Index, and Daily, Weekly, Monthly and All Time Highs and Lows. Programmable Alarms can be customized to notify you when conditions change. Alerts include temperature, humidity, wind, rainfall, dew point, heat index and more. The Sensor is totally wireless and easy to install.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=acurite

The Wireless Forecast Station made by Lacrosse Technology, offers the Indoor/Outdoor temperature and Humidity readings, Sunrise/Sunset, Moon Phase, Latitude and Longitude settings, Atomic Time, Date and DST that sets itself and an LED backlight. Have fun watching the advanced

fisherman forecast icon help you decide what to wear and how to prepare for the day.

http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Fisherman-Icon-Wireless-Weather-Station/product/120503051324117/

A wide assortment of weather stations is on display in the Gift Department at Bass Pro Shops. Browse through our selection – the associates in gifts can help you in your decision.

Bass Pro Shops – Portage is located in Ameriplex Plaza. Call us at 219-787-6800. Feel free to shop online at www.basspro.com .

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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

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City Girls

I grew up in the city.  The only hunting I ever did was in a store.  I fished, hiked, did quite a bit of outdoor activities, but never hunted.  Fast forward many years and now I love hunting.  The one hunt that really sticks out in my mind was not the first time I sat in a stand, its not the first kill I made either.  The hunt that sticks out to me, is the first time I drew my bow on a deer.

There I was sitting in my stand, freezing, waiting for a deer to make an appearance.  I thought I had experienced every adrenaline rush I possibly could for my timid lifestyle. I was wrong. Training day in and day out with the bow and I was not prepared for this. All of the strength in my arms was gone. I am standing there in my stand and barely have the power to pull the bow back.  Finally, I get it pulled, now to aim.  I am panting.  I cannot breathe.  I think to myself, get it together and breathe slow, but all I can hear is my heart thumping.  It reminded me of the slow motion scene on a movie, everything slowed down, but nothing was clear.  My vision was blurred.  Was it the cold?  Were my eyes now frozen over?  I have sat in a stand and observed hunting for 2 years now.  This is day 3 or 4 that I have sat in my own stand.  Watching, waiting for the deer to come out of hiding. My anticipation never faltered.  I remained enthusiastic about what could be.  Now look at me. Here I am, fumbling, blinded, shaking, and panting.  I start pulling it together, my vision clears up long enough for me to take a shot.  Miss. I have to remain stealth, this deer is going to hear me.  I get another arrow in position and draw.  The deer is looking at me.  No time to rethink if I am ready to kill a deer, I must shoot.  I wait until she looks away and release my arrow. Miss. She hears the rustle of the arrow hitting the tall grass and she is gone. All of my practice and I have missed twice.  I am left with my sweaty palms, racing heart, and shaking hands.  It is cold, real cold.  I feel dizzy like I may fall from the stand.  I take my seat and instantly call my significant other and try to tell him what transpired.  I should have waited until I had gathered myself completely because the phone call was misleading for him.  He heard "I shot a deer", I actually stated "I shot at a deer".  In his defense, I was panting.

There I am, left with my thoughts.  Wondering if I am the right person for the stand, wondering if this is a sport for me.  I love waking up at 4am and preparing for the hunt.  I love having a thermos of coffee.  I love the open air and the mind cleansing I get.  Then I realize, all the rest will fall in place with repetition.  Now, I don't wonder.  Now, I know, I love to hunt.

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Turkey Hunting - Safety, Decoys, and Ethics

By Rod Slings
Founder/CEO of Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC
Former Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Supervisor


We have learned, over many years, what keeps turkey hunters safe. As a hunter, you become responsible for your safety and those that you may, or may NOT know, are hunting around you.

Identify Your Target

Turkey hunting-related shooting incidents typically occur when a person does not completely identify his or her target. Before pulling the trigger, you must totally identify the bird by confirming that it is, in fact, a real turkey - with a beard, spurs and all the color configurations of a tom turkey. Never shoot at just the fan of a turkey; make sure you process all the confirming characteristics of a wild turkey before you shoot. Remember, you can never call that shot back. You must also know what is beyond your target.

Know Your Colors

By concealing yourself in camouflage, you blend into your surroundings. Never wear patriotic colors while turkey hunting.  Red, white, blue and black are the fundamental colors that only look good on a tom turkey, not on turkey hunters.

Watch the Walk

Be very careful transporting your decoys and your harvested bird in the woods. Concealing your harvest will help keep you safe when your hunt is over and you are on the way out of the woods headed home. Hunters have been injured while carrying or setting their turkey down to rest. Also, don’t think that you are alone just because you are on private property or you are the only one that has permission to be there. Always hunt defensively - there is no guarantee someone will not walk in or stalk your calls.

Plan a Safe Set Up

Ideally, you should set up your decoys facing you 15 to 20 yards away from your set up. Place your decoy or decoys in clear view. The decoy will help draw in a bird, but will also cause a distraction away from you. That distance allows you to see and enjoy the strutting and display as your calling efforts are rewarded.

Pick a tree to sit against that is wider than your shoulders and provides you a clear view of four to five times that distance.
If you are hunting from a blind, place it so you also have good visibility of your surroundings. This also allows you a safe zone in case another hunter, or even a trespasser, encroaches upon the land you are hunting. Stalking a turkey increases the chance of interrupting another hunter, or worse. If you see someone is stalking the sounds of your calls, your decoy or just walking near you, make sure you do not make any sudden movements. You do need to say, “HELLO, HUNTER!  I am here!”

Evaluate Your Own Actions Before Others Do

The manufacturers of today’s turkey decoys are making them more realistic than ever. Therefore the placement, use, and your safety are all very real issues to consider. There are looming debates over what constitutes the safe use of certain decoys, when it comes to ethically harvesting a bird. As a safety conscious and ethical hunter, you should do everything possible to keep yourself and others safe. Evaluate your actions - not only as a safe hunter, but also as an ethical hunter that practices fair chase with the animals you hunt. There are all types of ways to simply kill wildlife; a true, ethical, hunter makes sure he or she does everything possible to keep a level playing field -not to mention, to keep from giving themselves or other hunters a bad name. Please consider all of this as a hunter in today’s world, when cameras and social media allow all hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters to judge your actions that can affect all of us.

By following these fundamental rules of safety, we have been able to greatly reduce the number of turkey hunting incidents nationwide. These proven rules of safety have been based on good investigations of past hunting incidents. Turkey hunting is very popular and has become very safe and an exciting activity, thanks to these simple rules.

Turkey hunting can create amazing POSITIVE memories in the Great Outdoors!

Hunt SAFE!

_______________________

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The 2015 dates for the Iowa Turkey Seasons:

2015 Spring Turkey, Resident only

 

Comb. Shotgun-or-Archery

April 4 - 12,   2015 Youth Season

April 13 - 16, 2015 Season 1

April 17 - 21, 2015 Season 2

April 22 - 28, 2015 Season 3

April 29 - May 17, 2015 Season 4

Archery only

April 13 - May 17, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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Look at That! Casio Pathfinder

It is my firm belief that there are three products that a man should be the only one to buy for himself. Those being wallets, watches and sunglasses. These three items are not just accessories but tools that serve a purpose. Important purposes. Sunglasses protect your eyes from all the possible harmful rays of the Sun, and styles can look great or not so much depending on the guy’s face. Wallets hold cash, cards and other important items. Some men prefer big honkers with dozens of photos and loyalty cards crammed into it and others prefer a simple money clip with the basics. And watches tell the time and come with certain features. Some watches are a little more advanced than others and that is why today we are going to talk about one in particular: Casio’s Pathfinder.

Casio has been a trusted name for decades. They have a strong and loyal customer base that will purchase nothing but their products. The Pathfinder is not a new watch by any means, but always continues to impress those that check it out. Please note this watch is not intended for those that just want one that can tell time and maybe has a backlight feature. This thing is fully loaded.

To be honest, it probably has more computing power than my Suburban. It has two forms of energy, one is a high-capacity battery and the other is solar. That’s right. Solar. And not some dinky cheap solar feature but a strong and sturdy setup. These watches are built tough because Casio expects you to put it through a lot of stuff throughout the years of use.

My good buddy was a mechanic in the Air Force. He did a tour overseas a couple years back and had a Pathfinder. Between all the standard wear and tear, add on sandstorms, workouts, being knocked around inside jet engines and more. This watch is still working to this day.

The watch of course tells time, in both 12 and 24 hour modes, and has a backlight feature. It also has an hourly time signal, the option to have five daily alarms set, water and temperature resistance, a stopwatch and what they call a Triple Sensor. This sensor is set up for the weather and direction. It gives you the features of a thermometer, altimeter/barometer and a compass. All of this can help you anticipate weather and adjust course if needed.

Another buddy had a watch with a similar weather warning feature. It would give off a distinctive beep when the air pressure changed. It usually meant that a storm was moving in. This was an extremely helpful thing when we would be out off-roading or such.

So like I said before this watch is not meant for everyone. But for those that are looking for such a feature-loaded and heavy-duty wrist-wear they should look no further than to the Casio Pathfinder.

-Giddy-Up!!

Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring Hand Towels Rainproof Camo She Outdoor PETT

BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag RedHead Gun Rack Chicken on a Stick

Traeger Smoker/Grills

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Why it Matters: Slowing Down

Busy, busy, busy. That is what we are nowadays. Gotta get to work, gotta go to the gym, we need groceries, don’t forget to check your emails, etc. Along with being busy affecting our lives, so is having things be instantaneous. What movies are playing tonight? When does the store close? How to you make the best baked potato ever? How is that one dude from high school doing? BOOM! The internet and smartphones can give you all of those answers and more in seconds. I remember hearing that the average time someone is willing to wait for a webpage to load is four seconds. FOUR SECONDS!!! Back in the day you would have to bust out something called a book to learn about baking a potato, or talk to someone. Now more than ever it is important to take a breath and slow down.

Slowing things down has been a core concept of this blog series. Many of the activities and hobbies I have discussed get us outside and back to nature. Back to basics. Hitting the reset button on an alarm clock isn’t enough to recharge our bodies and minds. Take the time to watch a sun set. Set up a bird feeder outside and watch what comes by for a few minutes a day. It’ll work wonders.

Life has never been more fast-paced for us humans, than it is now. Everything is about being on schedule or meeting some deadline. Being able to unplug and not worry about stuff for a day or two shouldn’t be a luxury when it is such a necessity.

Usually people only get a couple days off during the week and those are usually spent doing chores. Make sure one of those days gets devoted to getting outside or doing something that brings you pleasure.

And literally slow down. Ever notice how fast people are driving nowadays? People seem to be much more important than traffic laws or the safety of others on the road. I remember I took a driver’s class and a lady asked “Don’t cops usually let you go ten miles over the speed limit before they pull you over? So I could drive 55 miles per hour in a 45 zone before I was considered speeding?” The instructor simply said “The speed limit is what is posted.”  My favorite is watching people speed and cut through traffic just to usually end up at a red light. I call it “speeding to stop”. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened, where somebody HAD to get around me only to then have to stop. Sure gas is getting cheaper, but still no reason to waste it driving like a dork.

Just taking a few extra minutes to appreciate the little things can pay off big. Whenever they interview couples that have been together for decades or people that are living well in an older age, it is preached not to stress about the little things. They always say make time for yourself and especially those you care about.

-Giddy-Up!!

Previously:

Getting Outdoors Picking Up Hunting Fishing Hiking Camping Rangefinders

Physical Preparation

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Tilapia Fishing or Watching Paint Dry.... Your Choice

Scott's Blue Tilapia on FlyIf a title like that doesn't catch your attention then nothing will, but trying to fool a fish that for the most part is unwilling to take any type of bait can be a true test of will, sanity, and patience.  Each year during the spring we'll hit the local lakes and ponds looking to hook into one of the regions more successful invasive species, the Blue Tilapia.

Blue Tilapia have expanded their range to include just about every waterway imaginable across the state and their spawning beds make for a pretty conspicuous clue that they're in the area.  Tilapia spawn right after most of the bass and their beds can make the sandy shallows look like a moonscape.  Each bowl-shaped nest is about the size of a truck tire and during the peak of the season there will be a single, fiercely-aggressive, and meticulously-cleaning, tilapia parent.  Their aggressive nature and obsessive compulsive cleaning is what we use to our advantage when trying to catch one on fly.

Unfortunately though, this is a waiting game with very limited casting followed by extended periods of standing as still as a hunting heron, and then impossibly light strikes. The normal scenario includes finding an active bed with a fish on it, the fish spooks, you cast into the bed, the fish eventually returns, it stares at the fly for a while, it picks up the fly and tries to move it out of the bed, fight on.  I've actually stood over a single bed for upwards of 15 minutes waiting for the fish to return after fleeing the bed, only to have it spook again or come to rest in the bed without noticing my fly.  That can be more than a little irritating.

Five or six weight rods with fairly light leaders and smallish and lightly dressed flies are the tools of the trade when chasing tilapia because they aren't overly powerful nor are the flies so large as to require a heavyweight rod.  About the only trick to hooking up is using a fly that's large enough to get the fish's attention but dressed sparsely enough that the fish gets the hook in its mouth rather than a bunch of fluffy material.  A simple wooly bugger or something similar should work pretty well if you find cooperative fish.  Bowfishing is another popular method of taking tilapia during the spawn but there's no way to practice catch an release with an arrow so it's only a method to explore if you have a way to dispose of your catch

So why would anyone go through all this for a very low likelihood of success?  Because it's a fish, there's a ton of them around, they'll eventually bite, and are a lot of fun on a fly rod.  Scott and I are in an informal competition to catch the most fish species on fly so he just had to get one since I've already checked that one off the list.  Living in a place with as many fish as Florida means that we throw a fly at anything that swims no matter how tough or uncooperative it might be.  Being well-rounded and flexible allows us to extend our season through the entire year, with very little down time.  We might even come home with something for dinner on occasion.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

 

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Leave No Trace – Butcher Jones Recreation Area

Last year I started my blog series about Why It Matters. Second one in was about cleaning up the outdoors. There are a few big organizations that preach this practice and a ton more of small grass-root groups as well. Basically it is all about picking up after yourself and others to ensure our beautiful outdoors stay beautiful. One of the largest organizations of this ethic is Leave No Trace. It is extremely important to collect trash and other items that do not belong in nature as they have harmful effects on the ecosystem.

Did you know it takes an apple core roughly two months to decay? Or that an orange peel can take as long as two years? Guess how long aluminum cans can take? If you guess between 50 and 100 years you would be right! And those are just a few of the most common items people will leave in the outdoors. Many city-dwellers know how their urban landscapes can be riddled with debris, but they might be just as surprised to see how much there is in national parks and other such areas.

Leave No Trace has about six main practices for when you are outside. These are ethical and practical points that can ensure you have a safe trip. Those practices are:

Leave it as you find it.

Keep wildlife wild.

Be careful with fire.

Share our trials and manage your pet.

Trash your trash and pick up pet waste.

Know before you go.

Now I want you all to look more into Leave No Trace and other such organizations, so I am not going to give you a real breakdown on what those practices mean specifically. An interesting experiment might be to write down what you think those practices are talking about and then add to your notes when you fully research them.

Now I have always been an avid lover of the outdoors and have always tried to do my best to clean up after myself and others when I go out. If you look at a number of my checklist blogs I usually include a trash bag or two specifically for clean-up. But towards the end of February I got to take a trip with several other associates to do our part.

We decided to go to the Butcher Jones Recreation Site, which is a part of the Saguaro Lake area. It is an awesome place with great amenities. There is a beach to enjoy the sun in or launch your kayak/canoe from. There are numerous spots to fish and bird-watch from. The hiking trail is also quite extraordinary as you get to see spectacular views of Saguaro Lake and tons of local vegetation.

Equipped with “grabbers”, trash-bags and buckets the eight of us took the trail and started collecting trash early. In fact we already had two full buckets before leaving the parking lot! We picked up as many foreign objects as we could. They ranged from spent cigarettes to fishing line to even a Carharrt jacket! The things people leave in the outdoors would astonish you!

We got there early and only passed a couple groups on the trail as we ventured in. On our way out though we passed numerous groups who were interested in what we were doing. We told them and hopefully that inspired them to take up the practice themselves.

Not only did we do something good for nature, but also for ourselves! The hike was a fun and great way to get some physical activity in. Being outdoors helped refresh us all and remind us why we love working at the store. We also had a great time and made some great memories. From a reoccurring joke revolving around every plant being a juniper to coming up with our own Johnny Morris Junior Adventurers club (or called Junipers for short). You and your own work-party or group of friends can do the same. Just be sure to bring water, strong trash bags and gloves.

-Giddy-Up!!

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This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - More Dog Days!

It's our second weekend of the Dog Days Family Event!  This Saturday we have the ARL here AND a Microchip Clinic, from 1-3 p.m.!

First, and foremost, ALL DOGS must be kept close at side and under control. No matter how small or even if they're carried or in a cart. The leash MUST be in the owner's hand at all times. Owners are responsible for their dog's behavior!

When you're here, take a photo of your dog and share it on social media with #bassprodogdays!

Friday, March 13

FREE SEMINAR

6 p.m.Socializing & Crate Training Your Dog - Presented by Anna Childs, K9 Trainer and Adelhorst Kennels. Giveaway for the first 20 seminar attendees!

Doggie Gift Basket Silent Auction to Benefit the Animal Rescue League- Thursday through Sunday. Items donated by Pampered Pooch and Bass Pro Shops Altoona. The winning bid money collected goes to the ARL. Value of the basket is OVER $250 and includes a $75 Pampered Pooch gift certificate, RedHead Deluxe dog bed, lots of toys, healthy treats, and doggie care items!

Saturday, March 14

ARL Adoption Day - 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Saturday, March 14, Microchip Clinic – 1-3 p.m. - Dr. Anderson, from Anderson Animal Hospital, is an ARL partner vet. Major debit/credit card or cash accepted, no checks.

FREE SEMINARS/DEMOS

11 a.m. - Teaching Your Puppy to Sit and Heel - Presented by Pampered Pooch

2 p.m. - Keeping Your Puppy Safe in the Outdoors – Presented by Patrice Peterson-Keys, Polk County Conservation

Noon- 1p.m. - Linda Farr and her Canine Freestyle “dancing” Golden Retrievers, Tango and Rumba, will perform. An entertaining and educational show! Linda and her dogs have appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Animal Planet, and more! Her passion is performing with her dogs at nursing homes, schools, hospitals, etc.

3:30 p.m. - Jay Green and Zeus will do their obedience demo by the aquarium.

11 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • Free photos with your dog, a certificate, and a paw print!
  • Free giveaways!
  • Special drawing to win one of three prizes, including a GoPro Fetch Dog Harness with camera mount!
  • Various local vendors will be on hand with information about training, grooming, etc., including Des Moines Obedience and Training Club and grooming demonstrations by Barks and Wags!

 

Doggie Gift Basket Silent Auction to Benefit the Animal Rescue League - Thursday through Sunday. Items donated by Pampered Pooch and Bass Pro Shops Altoona. The winning bid money collected goes to the ARL. Value of the basket is OVER $250 and includes a $75 Pampered Pooch gift certificate, RedHead Deluxe dog bed, lots of toys, healthy treats, and doggie care items!

 

Coming Up?

 

The Easter Bunny hops in to Bass Pro Shops Altoona on March 28!


Watch www.basspro.com/altoona and our Facebook page for details and times!

___________________

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Fish Like a Girl

by Andrea Bailey
Bass Pro Shops Altoona Associate

I’ve been fishing since I was a little girl, when my dad would take me. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors – camping, fishing, even landscaping in my other job. Fishing is great, but now I’m hooked on bowfishing.

A friend started me in it last year. I tagged along, following him around the shore, learning and trying my hand at it. I immediately fell in love…with bowfishing. I went almost every day during the spring and summer of 2014. In just a few months, I shot a lot of carp. I’m no expert, by any means, but hopefully I can inspire other people, especially young women, to give it a try.

What is it about bow fishing? It’s exciting, it’s competitive, and it combines two great outdoor activities…hunting and fishing. Many people who bowfish use a boat, but I fish from shore. I’d like to try fishing from a boat this year, but I’m pretty sure I’ll like the shore more.

Why the shore? It’s the hunting aspect. Being in the elements, using your senses and ability to “hunt” the carp. Being quiet, stalking along the shore, wading through water, the challenge of trying to get to different places where you know the carp may be hiding. That’s part of the fun and part of the challenge…challenges like crawling out on branches that are half way in the water, then falling in and scaring away all the fish!

The tree branch incident was just one lesson reinforced in my first year – be careful! Other lessons, challenges, and tips?

  • Look for brushy areas, where the carp can hide. But, beware of shooting into those brushy areas under water – I shot an arrow into a tree and couldn’t get it out.
  • Shoot lower than you think. Shoot 6 inches below every foot the fish is under the water.
  • Watch for breaches and look for large rings from the breaches to know where the fish is. This was one of my biggest challenges in learning about bowfishing - trying to decipher which rings were from carp.
  • Be aware and go slowly. Walking on the shore you need to be quiet and keep your shadow off the water. If you’re not aware, the fish won’t be there. You will scare them off with your shadow or sound. I really had to adjust to going slowly along the shore – you have to go into stalk mode.
  • Spring is the best time and after a rain is my favorite - when water is up and there may be some light flooding. But, use common sense and be careful – always be aware of the weather and water conditions. Don’t push it.
  • Invest in some good waterproof boots – keep your feet dry.

It’s not a huge investment to get started. I use an AMS package that included everything. This year, I’ve already invested in an arm guard, wax for my bow strings, a new arrow with four barbs, and some polarized sunglasses. The better to spot those carp!

With my brief bowfishing experience so far, comes that general good feeling of doing something for the environment and encouraging others. Some of my friends will ask, “Why bowfish, when you don’t eat them?” So, I’m able to educate them about the invasive fish taken in bowfishing and the effect they can have on our waters. Likewise, I invited friends along and posted about my bowfishing on my social media pages…quite a few have started, or want to start, this year. I also explain there are some people who choose to eat carp and I often give my harvest to those folks.

This year, I look forward to venturing away from my usual locations and trying new venues. You won’t find me standing at the fence below a dam just pointing and shooting…you’ll find me walking the shores of rivers and creeks, doing my part to rid them of invasive species.

One of the biggest challenges I face? That guy - and there's always one or more -  who says, “I can’t believe you bowfish. That’s really cool.”

It’s a bit annoying…I know they're saying it because I’m female. But, I also take it as a compliment.

It is cool – I fish like a bowfisherwoman.

________________

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Watch Your Speed

Winter Florida LargemouthNo, I’m not talking about your speed on the roadways, although that’s a good idea to keep in mind unless you just want your insurance rates increased and your license suspended.  Winter time fishing can be some of the most productive of the year but the one thing I keep forgetting to keep in mind when I hit the ponds or the saltwater flats, is the speed of the retrieve and how fast to work the fly in general.  There isn’t another single time of the year when this is so important and we’re constantly getting questions about how quickly to work a fly through the strike zone for various species.  Unfortunately there isn’t any one single solution but rather a batch of questions the angler needs to ask while they’re out there casting away.

The first consideration is what am I trying to imitate and how quickly does it move through the water when relaxed and how much faster when frightened.  The dry fly fisherman is going to say that his bugs only move as fast as the current it’s riding while a barracuda fisherman will respond that a needle fish can truly haul the mail when a giant is tight on its tail.  There isn’t any single correct answer but instead it’s key to keep the prey in your mind and what frame of “mind” it’s in at the time.

Secondly, I take a look at the species being pursued and the type of feeding it generally does.  A large bass is primarily an ambush feeder that doesn’t chase anything further than a foot or two (similar to giant snook, and gator trout), while a smaller specimen of the same species may actively chase down its dinner from time to time.  Speedsters like mackerel, bonita, barracuda, ladyfish, and others, are relentless and amazingly fast; chasing down and devouring their meal like they may not get another.  Trout like brookies and cutthroat rarely chase anything, they rely on the current to bring dinner to the table, at which time they can dine at a leisurely and easy pace, sipping or grabbing their food as it passes.  The retrieval rates vary greatly depending on species and size as you can see.

Thirdly, am I appealing to the fish’s hunger, territorialism, or shear anger?  Bedding fish are not really in the mood to eat and therefore don’t often pursue things that aren’t passing relatively close to their location.  Objects that pass by closely, but too quickly don’t get chased either, so you need to slow it down, and sometimes stop the retrieve so the fly lies still in the bed, before eliciting a strike out of anger and the need to protect the brood.  Striking or highly predatory fish are often more willing to chase or follow prey, or your fly, over greater distances and at higher speeds.

Lastly, we need to consider that the same species will likely change its feeding habits due to a slowing or speeding up of its metabolism as a result of changing seasons and varying water temperatures.  Bass are a prime example of this and the reason I wrote about the topic in the first place.  Experiencing a slow and deliberate bite on the drop into a deep pond left me amazed and frustrated by my inability to slow down enough without losing total concentration on the task at hand.  I awoke from a daydream at one point, realizing I’d been struck only because the line was swimming away at right angles to where I had originally casted.  The bit was so subtle that I hadn’t even noticed it.  I invariably lost that fish because of an ineffective hook set.  My inability to slow down may also be the reason behind my lack of success with black drum on the flats as well.

There are a lot of things to consider before making that first cast of the day if you want to have some semblance of success, not the least of which is the speed (or lack thereof) in your retrieve.  Pace, pausing, long, short, jerky, call it whatever you want because there isn’t any single answer to the question.  Only more questions.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Backyard Fire Fun

Having your own fire pit is all the rage these days and I am one of those people following this trend. There are a lot of different uses for fire pits. They are great for sitting outside with friends and family either keeping warm on chilly evenings while being able to stay outside visiting and getting fresh air, or having something to gather by on a warm summer evening. Some folks even use theirs for grilling if they come with the grill part that sits above the fire bowl. All this without the hassle of driving miles out of town to get to a park with a camp ground.

I truly appreciate my fire pit because I can store it in my garage when it is not in use and pull it out whenever the mood strikes me. I am a big outdoors person and I, personally, love the smell of a good campfire so being able to just set one up in my own backyard in the middle of the city warms my soul. I also use it for family gatherings as a centerpiece on my patio. The best part about having friends and family gather around them on nice summer nights is you can keep the kids outdoors and away from television and other electronics. Also watching the kids burn marshmallows and getting all gooey and messy when they do make the perfectly toasted s'more is a lot of fun during spring, summer and fall.

 

 

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