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.


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.


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.


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 .


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


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.


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







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.


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


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.



Getting Outdoors Picking Up Hunting Fishing Hiking Camping Rangefinders

Physical Preparation


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



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.



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


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.


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


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.




Chicken on a Stick

Like many outdoorsmen I find myself continually thinking about my next adventure. Whether it be a fishing, camping, hunting or whatever trip. It is a passion that runs deep and brings us all to a better place. What is really awesome is the fact that there are so many resources for us out there nowadays. We have websites, blogs, magazines, radio shows, YouTube channels, online stores, brick-n-mortar stores, relatives, friends, DVDs and TV to help get our fix.

 The outdoor industry has been blowing up lately, especially on television. From what once was only a few TV shows on certain subjects, there are now whole channels devoted to outdoor programing. It is awesome! In one hour you can watch and feel a part of an adventure going from marlin fishing to bow hunting moose.

Of course though we still have to deal with commercials. Now mind you, watching an ad for a crossbow is way better than one for the next Kids Bop CD, but still it is a commercial. But one popped on a while ago that had me so intrigued I needed to know more. Because let’s be honest when you hear an announcer talking about “Primos’ new Chicken on a Stick” your curiosity gets peaked.

BOOM! Primos Chicken on a Stick, ladies and gentlemen.

Now why they call a turkey a chicken, I don’t know but it is dang good marketing! Literally say the words “Chicken on a stick”. It’s catchy. That’s probably why those “Chicken in a Biscuit” crackers are still in stores.

Any-who, this turkey decoy is pretty legit. The quality of the product and the realism of the decoy is exactly what you would expect from Primos. This company has been doing an awesome job and making amazing products for years now. They are a name that people trust and look for. While the decoy might actually look like a normal one, how Primos wants this product utilized is a little different.

Typically in turkey hunting a decoy is set up and the hunter is a little ways from it. The hunter then calls the turkey in hoping to get the bird even closer once it sees the decoy. The decoy usually enrages the turkey and sets them into attack mode. Don’t believe me? Watch a video online, or the full documentary “When Turkeys Attack!” It’s real. I watched it. With my family.

But with the Chicken on a Stick a hunter literally sets up right behind the decoy. There is a versatile 2 piece stake that features a built-in gun rest and hand grip that the hunter uses. Keeping hidden behind the decoy and fan, the hunter can shoot the rushing turkey. And be quick, because those things are like raptors!

All joking aside, this is a really nice product and would definitely take your next gobbler hunt to the next level.


Other Nifty Things to Look At!

Propane Fire Ring

Hand Towels

Rainproof Camo

She Outdoor


BPS Extreme Qualifier Tackle Bag

RedHead Gun Rack


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando




Why it Matters: Rangefinders

Because of the technology today we are getting further and further away from our basic beginnings. Once upon a time your day looked like this: get up, find food, get to shelter and go to bed. Then some centuries later it got a little more advanced and you added farming into the mix. Then going to work got added onto it, but other aspects of life had become easier. And as we advanced, so did our technology which went in hand with making living easier but not simpler. The stresses people put on “keeping up to date” has caused some serious physiological issues. And as a society we have gotten farther from our awesome outdoors. And going along with that is the loss of certain skills.

Skills like gardening, fishing, tracking, making fires and others are vanishing completely from people’s ability. A huge thing we have lost track of is distance. Years ago to get the distance to somewhere you would have to bust out a map, nowadays it takes mere seconds on a smart-phone. Global communication has also shrunk our world with international calling being a daily occurrence for some people.

I have also noticed that judging simple distances is getting harder for people. This can be a huge problem, especially when it comes to hunting. Being able to judge and know distances is extremely important because it concerns so many aspects of hunting.

How far away is that next ridge? How many miles will it be back to campsite? When will the sun be setting past those mountains? Where exactly is that deer in relation to me? Will my arrow/bullet be able to reach it? What will happen if my bullet passes through and keeps going? All of these could possibly be a life-changing judgment call.

Luckily GPS has our back when it comes to several of those questions. There is no doubt that this has saved numerous lives. But what happens if the batteries die? Well if you kept track of your direction and landmarks you might just be able to make it back safely and before dark. But what about the second half of questions? Knowing the distance to your trophy/meal is extremely important. If you are out on a big-game hunt you should have taken the time to practice with your weapon. Whether it is bow or firearm you should know the limitations of the tool, the projectile and yourself well. The easiest way to know the distance: a rangefinder.

Many consider this just another gadget to have in the field, but it can be a complete game changer. Let’s say you overestimated your shot and the bullet goes over and carries on for a distance longer. Depending on the caliber and the load that distance can be quite longer. But if you know that the animal is close to 100 yards away you know where to hold to get a good, clean ethical shot.

And that is another reason why a rangefinder matters. The worst thing possible is to have a bad shot. Every hunter knows that the best way to honor the animal you are about to harvest is to take it as humanely as possible. You do not want the animal to suffer, and knowing the distance and therefore how to place your projectile is a must. Archers know this extremely well as distance and angle play a huge part in making a shot. Luckily many rangefinders have built in compensators for when shooting on an angle. Also being able to see just how far away that farmhouse and any possible inhabitants can save you from jail time.

When I went on my first big-game hunt a couple years ago I did not have a rangefinder. Luckily my uncle had an extra one for me to borrow. This made a huge difference. Thanks to it, I was able to humanely harvest an animal. Watching a deer drop right where it stood was one of the greatest visuals of my life. Not only knowing that I wasn’t going to have to track it down but that the animal was not put through pain was something to take pride in. I hope the rest of my hunting trips go like this. I know they probably won’t but you can bet that I will be getting a rangefinder before I go out again.

It may add to the cost of your trip and gear but they are well worth it. Over the past years, rangefinders have become increasingly more accurate, dependable, efficient and cost-friendly. Make sure to check into company-backed warranties on them before purchasing. Many big-name optics companies have some kind of warranty or guarantee on their products.



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up






Spring Fishing Classic


 February 6th -15th

It is that time again, Spring Fishing Classic! Sales, Sales and more Sales that go on at Bass Pro Shops around this time! If you are an avid fishermen(and women!) or wanting to pick up the sport and learn what is the best tricks, advise and products, make sure that you come to our event!

Here is the schedule and times of all the different events that will be taking place:

Rod and Reel Trade in

 February 6th –February 15th

New season new equipment? We think so! Bring in your old rod and reel during our “Trade in Promotion” and walk out feeling ready to conquer the water with your new rod and reel!

Line Spooling

February 11th – February 15th

Instant Rebate up to $100

February 6th – February 15th

On selected products, get instant rebates! See ad for details

Fried Fish Sampling

Saturday February 7th 2pm-5pm

Come up to our Camping Department and try out some FREE Fried Fish Sampling! You get to see how it is made with all the products that are used. To make it even better, all the products that are used are sold in stores. Talk about convenient!

Local Pro Seminars

Local Pro Seminars


First 25 customers to attend a workshop will receive a mug at the aquarium

Feb 13th-Will be held in the Marine Department by the Marine Associates.

7pm- Electronics Essentials: Effective use for Saltwater Success.


Feb 14 and 15th- Front of the aquarium.

11am- The Baitfish Connection- Understanding seasonal movements will help you catch more fish

2pm- Cutting- Edge offshore Gear- A guide to the Latest Advances on Tech and Tackle

2:30pm-KIDS SEMINAR- Kids will receive certificate of completing a workshop there at the aquarium!!

3pm- ONLY SATURDAY FEB 14TH-Women’s Workshop- Fishing and Outdoor cooking tips.

4pm- Surf Fishing: Beach and Wading strategies that work.

4:30pm-KIDS SEMINAR- Kids will receive certificate of completing a workshop there at the aquarium!! 


Women’s Workshop

February 14th at 3pm in front of the aquarium

Ladies, have you been curious about learning how to fish? Nice relaxing getaway sport. Perk of learn is to gloat to your husband how is better (all fun)! We will be hosting a FREE Workshop that will include some great tips, demos and products of best outwear. To make it even better, for the first 25 ladies to attend will be receiving a FREE tumbler!

Local Fishing Tips and Seminars by Local Pros

Friday February 13 -7pm

Saturday and Sunday- February 14 & 15 - 11am, 2pm and 4pm

Avid fishermen and women or beginners! Come get some tips and watch some product demos right from our aquarium! All given by our on Local Pro! For the first 25 customers (18 and older) to attend these seminars will receive and FREE tumbler!


Kid’s Next Generation Weekend

February 14 and 15 – Noon-5pm

Don’t think we forgot about the kids! We will have some fun fishing activities from:

Casting Challenge- Learning how to cast a fishing pole. (Fish Shaped water bottle for kids who complete the Casting Challenge (while supplies last)

Crafts- Color Wood fish stand-up and coloring sheets

Free 4x6 download - receive a free photo download 


Kids’ Workshop/Seminar

Saturday &Sunday during the Next Generation Event

February 14 & 15- 2pm & 4pm both days

Subjects to include:

-Discuss how we can learn to catch fish by thinking like they do

- Have a few items for kids to view and have “hands-on” experience

(First 25 kids to attend workshop/seminar will receive certificates and lanyard)  




As you can tell it is going to be a busy 2 weeks that you cannot miss! So remember February 6-15 – Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic!! 


Introduction to Matt Scotch, Kayak specific-Pro-staffer

The 2014 fishing year revealed many interesting trends, but none could be more obvious than the soaring popularity of kayak angling. My name is Dean Brown, and I proudly work and write for several organizations, including Bass Pro Shops (Grapevine, Texas). Having spent the last six years in the seat of a kayak, and a lifetime chasing trophy bass, it was only a natural step for me to incorporate these specific skills and interests into my work life. Last year we began discussing the idea of adding a kayak angler to our sponsor-level pro staff, and after a few meetings and proposals, I was tasked with creating our very own kayak fishing team. Announcing the project and launching an application process was simple, but sifting through a plethora of high-caliber resumes was a daunting experience. The response, literally, was overwhelming. Our new team would consist of only two anglers: I would serve as team captain and manage the operation, and our new pro staffer would represent Bass Pro Shops in varied capacity. While this certainly made for a difficult decision, one applicant stood out among the rest. His tournament history was impeccable, and after interviewing him both in the office and on the water, I knew we had found the right person for the job. I could spend an entire day writing about his accomplishments, but I rather like the idea of giving our new addition the opportunity to speak for himself. We are proud and excited to introduce Matthew Scotch, our very first kayak-specific pro staffer.


Matt, first of all, welcome to the Bass Pro Shops family. If you would, tell our readers a little bit about your tournament history. What are some of the highlights?


Thank you Dean for the introduction, I couldn’t be happier than I am to be joining the team at Bass Pro Shops.

My tournament history and highlights have a very modest beginning. When I bought my first kayak (Hobie Pro Angler  14) I did it just because I enjoyed fishing and I viewed it as a way to get on the water more often. One evening, a few years back now, one of my neighbors noticed me hauling my kayak and decided to follow me home. I didn’t know it, but this unexpected meeting would change fishing, especially out of a kayak, for the rest of my life. My neighbor’s name is Mike Whitacre, and if you don’t know, he’s a pretty sensational kayak fisherman and video editor. That evening Mike told me about kayak “tournaments” and suggested that I tag along if I ever had time and give one a try. It took a few months but I finally came around to the idea and joined Mike for my first kayak tournament: a North Texas Kayak Bass Fishing (NTKBF) tournament at Purtis Creek State Park. That morning started off all kinds of wrong with me “turtling” flipping my kayak and gear into the lake, but I got it together and managed to catch some fish before flipping my kayak a second time; reaching out to secure a nice fish that was wrapped around a piece of timber. I ended up finishing 4th out of 25 anglers and tied for Big Bass. I didn’t take home any money or prizes

that day but I did come away with a love for a new sport: kayak bass fishing. Since that tournament at Purtis Creek, I’ve now fished 25 kayak tournaments to date. I’ve come in 1st or 2nd 11 times and finished in the top five in 16 of those events.

This new project will afford us the opportunity to conduct a number of clinics and demonstrations. As far as kayak angling is concerned, what topic or topics are important to you? What other key points will you cover in your presentations?

I primarily plan on talking about black bass and crappie fishing and how to do it effectively year around from a kayak in North Texas waters. I also look forward to discussing boat positioning, tournament strategy, and various tricks of the trade that I use to help people catch more fish.

I grew up fishing with my Father and Grandfather, and I know your story couldn't be more congruent. Tell us about your formative years, and briefly touch on one or two of your most cherished memories.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that embraced hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.  My father and both grandfathers spent a lot of time teaching me how to fish when I was a young man. It really comes as no surprise that those are some of my most vivid memories when I reflect on my early years. I spent my summers divided between my grandparent’s houses. My Mom’s parents lived on a farm with five stocked tanks in Whitesboro, where I beat the banks around the ponds from sun-up to sun-down. Dad’s parents lived 30 minutes away on the banks of Lake Texoma where we chased Striped Bass, Smallmouth, and just about anything that would bite our hooks. When I wasn’t at my grandparents in the summer I spent a lot of time fishing with my Dad at our bay house in East Matagorda. I can remember many nights where my dad and I caught speckled trout until the sun came up. I really was fortunate to have such great role models growing up.

What Bass Pro Shops products have you had a chance to explore thus far? Specifically, how are you using them to put fish in your kayak?

I’ve had a lot of success recently throwing the Bass Pro Shops Stick-O wacky rigged for Black Bass. Bass Pro offers Stick-O’s in three different sizes with the 5 ¾” and the 4 1’4” being my two favorite sizes. I’m using a Gamakatsu Size 1 weedless worm hook, 12lb line, and a Med- Heavy Fast-tip rod. I like to add an Owner Flashy Accent small willow leaf blade to my weightless Stick-O (this is a secret of mine). I find that the flash helps attract strikes from fish that wouldn’t otherwise bite.  I’ve also had a lot of success recently with the Bass Pro 2” Baby Shad (Firecracker and Chartreuse flash). I’m rigging the jig body on a 1/32 oz. Bass Pro jig head, 6lb mono, and a 6’ UL rod.  The tactic that has been working the best for suspended

crappies lately is to find bait and fish in standing timber with the electronics. Once I locate the fish I pitch the jig anywhere from 4-8’ past the target and let the lure swing back to me through the strike zone. The crappies are biting the bait very aggressively on the fall.

What other products have you been using recently (other than Bass Pro Shops merchandise)?

This almost comes off as a trick question because I have so many rod and reel set-ups and bait/lure combinations. Over the past year I’ve been working on my finesse fishing technique a lot. I’ve been doing a lot of drop-shot and shaky-head fishing. It’s amazing how many days with tough conditions we face here in North Texas and how pulling out the “Fairy-wand” when the conditions get this way can make the difference between catching and not. When it comes to drop shot it’s my Dobyns Champion Extreme 702 SF paired with a Shimano Cl4, 20lb Power Pro Braid, 12lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon,  Gamakatsu size 1 wide gap hook, 1/8oz weight, and a Reins Bubbling Shaker. This combination puts fish in the boat just about every time. For shaky-head I’m using the same set-up I describe above with a Missile Baits jig-head and a Grande Bass Rattlesnake in Chartreuse Pepper. I don’t think there is a better way to catch spawning bass than with this combination

What are some of your favorite lakes in Texas to launch your kayak?

We are very fortunate to live in an area of the country with many bodies of water many of which are great for kayak fishing. My top places to launch a kayak would have to be Amon Carter Lake, Lady Bird Lake, Mineral Wells State Park, Lake Athens, and Lake Texoma.

Here at Bass Pro Shops, we have a strong commitment to children. Specifically, we strive to foster a healthy relationship between our youth and the outdoors. What advice would you give to a young boy or girl eager to catch their first fish?

If it’s just about catching fish I would advise any young angler to grab some crickets, grasshoppers, night crawlers, a Zebco 33, bobber, hook, and get out to the nearest body of water you can find, be it a local pond or small lake. This is how I started fishing many years ago. You will grow from the basics, and it doesn’t get any more basic than that.

For me, the physical aspect of kayak angling is the cornerstone of my obsession. It's a difficult phenomenon to describe, but from the seat of my kayak, I feel more like a hunter in the truest sense of the word than any other medium. Of course, diet plays a big role in fueling this type of sport. What are some foods and or snacks that drive your typical excursion?

This might come as a surprise but I typically don’t eat much when I’m out on the water. I try to get a meal in before I start and when I’m done. When I do take snacks, its granola, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky that I turn to. I typically have a Gatorade, energy drink, and several bottles of water with me at all times to keep hydrated.

We all live downstream. This phrase is interpreted differently from one person to the next, but what does it mean to you?

To me it’s about leaving a minimal carbon footprint and taking care of the resources we have; leaving our parks, rivers, lakes, and streams cleaner than we found them for future generations to enjoy.

In the world of fishing, we talk a lot about colors. We all know that green pumpkin is a staple, but in your opinion, what is the most underrated color? Feel free to elaborate.

To me the most underrated color in bass fishing is anything with purple. Some of my favorite color combinations have purple flake or purple hue to them. I think purple is a really good shad imitating color and since most anglers aren’t throwing it the fish haven’t necessarily seen that exact bait before. The Yamamoto Senko in Smoke Holo/Blue Pearl Silver produces fish trip in trip out for me especially in clear water.

Anglers and hunters watch the weather with a keen eye. Historically, I have a horrible habit of giving the extremities an opportunity to get under my skin. That is to say, I can't help but launch under post-frontal conditions with a negative attitude. Do you let a north wind shake you up, or do you power forward with confidence?

Fishing in North Texas we tend to face adverse weather conditions seemingly all the time. I tend not to get negative about the conditions because I can’t control them, but I do temper my expectations when the weather isn’t cooperating. A lot of times I won’t go out on a bad weather day. Instead I’ll work on tackle organization, tying jigs, or do some fishing related research for the more favorable days.

What are some of your goals for the 2015 season?

My goals for 2015 are pretty simple. I need to catch fish and win some tournaments, fulfill contractual obligations with my main sponsor Bass Pro Shops, and last but not least enjoy the ride. I’m very excited and looking forward to seeing what this next year holds in store.

About the author: Dean Brown is a Fishing Team Lead for Bass Pro Shops and a freelance outdoor writer. His personal website, Up Down Bass, has been nominated for several awards and featured in a variety of outdoor publications. You can easily navigate to his website here: http://updownbass.com


New Year, New Explorations

It's a new year and a perfect time to think about new places you might like to explore. I'm going to throw some ideas out to you...places and events you can work into your calendar...and invite you to come explore the great state of Iowa!

Let's start with:

January in Iowa

Winter can be cold in Iowa, just like right now! But, one of my favorite things to do in winter, especially on a sunny day, is to visit Lake Red Rock in south central Iowa and check out the eagles. These majestic birds are also very prevalent along the Mississippi River this time of year, so many locations there, and along other major rivers, host eagle days and festivals. I often think how GREAT it is that I can drive down Interstate 80 between Bass Pro Shops Altoona and my home, 25 miles to the east, and spot a resident eagle or two roosting along the Skunk River or feeding out in the corn field year round.

I'm most familiar with Lake Red Rock, my stomping grounds. Located between Knoxville and Pella, Iowa, Red Rock is an Army Corps of Engineers property, with state and county property bordering it. It is an outdoor lovers mecca. From boating, to fishing, to camping, to hiking, to paddling the water trails, there is something for everyone.

For the eagles, go below the Red Rock dam by Howell Station Campground for the best viewing. What remains of the old Horns Ferry Bridge has been turned into a viewing platform for the eagles, hundreds of which nest in the area over the open water this time of year. The bridge is from the late 1800s and was the first river crossing for the Des Moines River in Marion County. If the water is low enough you can go walk below the bridge along the shore for another interesting perspective.

Just a little walk up the riverbank sidewalk, towards the dam, is a full bridge across the river. It's part of the Volksweg Trail around the area. Hop onto the Eagles' Lair Loop, a 1/2 mile dirt path nature trail just after you cross the bridge. This is named for the eagles perched above you as you walk through the woods, part of the Gladys Black Bad Eagle Refuge. The bridge, and the west side to which it takes you, provides additional and different perspectives for eagle viewing and the dam.

As you leave the Horns Ferry area, go back up to the stop sign, turn left and then turn right at the next stop sign back on to T15. Follow this highway to the next stop which is County Road G28. This road takes you around the north side of the Lake and to Roberts Creek County Park. You will see eagles nesting near the small ponds along this road and when you arrive at the Roberts Creek boat ramps, you will have another grand viewing area along the south side of the bridge, facing the Lake. Renovations have created actual trail space here and you can't stop along the bridge any more, so make sure to park in the new parking lot on the west end of the bridge. On the north side of the bridge is Roberts Creek. You'll no doubt see some ice anglers out sharing space with some eagles.

The next crystal clear sunny day during January and February, head out to view the eagles. 

Throw on some warm clothes, grab your binoculars and camera (don't forget the zoom lens) and enjoy the feeling you'll have watching these symbols of freedom.

Eagle Viewing Events on the Mississippi

Eagle Festivals Around the Country


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Why It Matters: Camping

Every now and then we humans need to hit the reset button on ourselves. Many people have different methods of doing so but one of the longest standing traditional ways to do so is camping. Camping gets us back where we belong; in fresh air and our beautiful wilderness. It is only natural that we feel at piece in nature. Ever since societies have been developing there have always been those that turn towards the wilderness. And while you might not be able to be like those people in that TV show “Live Free or Die” you can still always get away for a weekend and be outside.

To many different people camping can mean several things. Some think of smores, lightning bugs, star-gazing or late night chats that lead into way too early morning wakeups. Others think about getting caught in storms, being eaten alive by mosquitos or possibly bear attacks. While the latter thought-process can be true, don’t be such a negative Nancy! You don’t know what will actually happen until you get out there!

You can always count on fresher air and a change of scenery at least. Not feeling a tent? There are plenty of campsites with permanent structures to go to. And if people want to stay inside a toy-hauler RV, let them. At least they are getting outside.

That really is what camping is about, getting outside and spending some quality time there. Whether that be a week or just a few days, it will always help get life back into perspective.

Speaking about perspective, if you work at a computer for extended periods of time check this out. Every 20 minutes of looking at the computer screen you should look away at an object that is 20 feet from you for at least 20 seconds. This will help you relieve eye-stress and more. And that is just in the office. Imagine you are out on a trail after breakfast and you take the time to look at a beautiful mountain range for half an hour. If that doesn’t put life back into perspective than nothing will.

Camping is also a good way to get the youth into the outdoors. There are so many activities that you can do, depending on your location and season. You can go fishing, hiking, bird-watching and so much more. It doesn’t take much to get the imagination rolling but that nice little “push” of being away from a tablet may be what you need.

And while there is nothing wrong with having cell-service where you are, especially for safety or emergency reasons, do not spend the whole time on an electronic. Unless it is a GPS and you are geocaching or something.



Getting Outdoors

Picking Up





Last Minute Shopping

Are you a last minute shopper?  Well we have you covered.  Stop on down to Bass Pro Shop and let us take the stress out of your holiday.

For the hunter in your life or someone who enjoys watching what happens when they are sleeping at night.  Consider buying them the Moultrie Game Spy M880 Digital Infrared Game Camera.   The 8.0 megapixel image and low glow infrared flash will give you bright clear images up to 100 feet at night.

Now if you have a fisherman or someone who enjoys clams, lobster, or salt potatoes, consider the Bass Pro Shop Stainless Steel 3 in 1 Combo Cooler.    Easy to clean and powerful, this cooker will fry, steam, or boil.  You get a 30qt stainless steel pot with lid.  There is a copper spigot for easy oil or water removal, a safety timer, strainer, steamer basket, steamer grid, and a stainless steel turkey hook and stand.  Why this combo even throws in a fry thermometer and marinade injector.   Great Gift!

Not sure if you want all the oil?  Consider the Butterball Oil Free Electric Turkey Fryer.  Get fried turkey without frying.  This fryer will use injectable marinades or seasoned rubs.  The fryer has a adjustable temperature control, a basket and a wood chip tray for smoking foods.  With a removeable drip pan it makes for easy cleanup.  This fryer will cook up to a 18 pound bird.


A perfect holiday gift for anyone is the Masterbuilt Extra Wide Propane Smoker.  A large capacity smoker with adjustible gas control and thermometer.  This smoker is made of heavy duty construction.  Push ignition makes it easy to start.  A smoker like this will be used for years to come.

Someone who enjoys time outside or just purchased a new home, will love the Landmann USA Patio Light Fire Pit.    Good construction,  this is great to enjoy a fire when your nights are a little cold.  Cook smores or hotdogs.  Cut out bears and bear paws adorn the outside giving it a rustic look.

Add a bit of unique flair to your outside with the Wind Chimes Fishbone.  


Someone in your family always traveling?  How about that college graduate?  Something that everyone needs is luggage.

  Bob Timberlake has a beautiful and durable line of luggage.  I think once you see how first class this luggage is you will truly be impressed.  The Bob Timberlake Luggage Collection can be wheeled upright.  It is cotton canvas with a paraffin weather proof coating and US oiled leather with brass zippers.  There are also magnets for quick closure.  Anyone would feel extremely special to get such a nice piece of luggage like this


To add to the luggage is the Bob Timberlake First Class Leather Collection-Shaving Kit.    A large main compartment, zip pocket, mesh organizer, with a drop down bottom storage gives you all the room you need and more.

For the person on your list that enjoys birds and lives with a hunter, consider the GSI Outdoors Shot Shell Mesh Bird Feeder.  This feeder is perfect for nuthatches, finches, or chickadees.  It will hold up to 32oz of birdseed.  Easy to hang, clean, and refill.

For the coffee lover in the family, take a look at the Bass Pro Shop Gun Mug in pink or black.  This will bring a smile to their face every morning.

If you know of someone who loves to find money, or little treasures, the Bounty Hunter Camo LS Metal Detector will pinpoint that target.  It is waterproof and it has a touchpad.  Perfect for someone who needs more exercise and who loves to treasure hunt.  Think of all the historic places right around where they live.

Last but not least do not forget that best friend.  The Premier Pet Products Chuckle Dog Toy  is perfect for that dog who is a strong chewer.  Natural rubber,  this toy will randomly disperse treats.  This will reward them for chewing the right toy and not your furniture.

We hope this takes some of the stress out of the holidays for you.  Merry Christmas

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator