Fishing Basics For Children

Fishing is just about as wholesome as it gets in our society. There is just something about being on the water in nature that is good for the soul in the busy distracting times in which we live in. While growing up, fishing was always an outlet for me, as well as motivation to do good in school and all around try my best to be a good kid, in fear that I could get in so much trouble that I would loose the opportunity to do what I've loved since the age of 2 years old. I still thank my father often and am grateful for him giving me the opportunity at a young age to get on the water as much as possible. Little did we know that it would lead me to a career in professional fishing, but it did. Here is how you can get your child started in fishing just like my dad did for me.

I started out at 2 years old fishing off of my dock with my dad. The technique of choice, which I would recommend for any beginning fisherman, was a good old worm and bobber. The rig consisted of a Round Plastic bobber, a small Bass Pro Shops premium reusable split shot weight, and a number 4 or 6 baitholder hook. For me this rig with a piece of nightcrawler on the hook was all I needed for countless hours, and even years of entertainment. This simple setup allowed me to catch hundreds of bluegill and sunfish off of my dock and fueled a passion that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Bass Pro Shops also offers children fishing combos that are affordable and perfect for a child that wants to learn how to fish. Right now in the Bass Pro Shops Spring Warm Up Sale the Zebco Bill Dance Select 33 Spincast Combo is on sale for a great price. For very small children like I was when I got started in fishing, the Shakespeare Mickey Mouse Lighted Fishing Rod and Reel Kit for Kids is a awesome option.

As your child gets older hopefully he will want to advance in the sport of fishing, moving away from the spincast combos and in to the spinning and baitcasting combos. At this point I would strongly suggest taking a trip to Bass Pro Shops, and head to the fishing department where knowledgeable associates will be more than happy to point your child in the right direction and get them ready to go hit the water a little more seriously. If you do have a child that really has a passion for fishing, the opportunities in this day and age are endless. There are thousands of youth bass clubs across the country as well as high school and college fishing teams. If you are interested in this just Google youth bass clubs, for your area and you'll be amazed at what you find. The sport of fishing is constantly growing so the sooner you introduce your child to fishing the better, and no child is too young to get outdoors and be in nature. My family still has pictures of me at 2 years old playing in my plastic swimming pool with fish, and trust me they are treasured memories. This weekend at the Leeds Bass Pro Shops the Spring Outdoor Family Fun Event is going on from 1-4 this Saturday and Sunday! It will be a great event and with tons of entertainment and activities for the whole family, so come check it out.

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania



Kayak Fishing Evolved

The evolution of every genre of angling has been overwhelming, especially since the beginning of the 21st century. As with most sports and hobbies, each year there are bigger, faster, stronger, lighter, and more stylish additions to the tools available. The sport of kayak angling has certainly been no exception and I am so proud as a kayak angler and a Bass Pro Shops fishing team leader that our company has become so involved particularly with our Ascend line of kayaks! Kayak Angler


The rising fuel prices, increased fishing pressure, and our culture's sudden emphasis on health and exercise have been a catalyst in the evolution of kayak fishing and the kayaks available for becoming involved in this amazing sport. There are a vast number of options available for the kayak angler whether the emphasis is rivers, lakes, ponds, saltwater, beyond the breakers, flats, or anything else imaginable. Obviously, most angling kayaks are created with only one or two of these categories in mind, but I will briefly discuss below the latest and greatest entry into the kayak angling market.


The exciting new entry that I mentioned above is named the Ascend FS128T. This is a 12'8" sit-on-top fishing kayak that is extremely stable and surprisingly maneuverable both when loading/unloading and on the water! This kayak sports a pulley anchor system and five rod holders including four flush mount and one removable/adjustable rod holder that is stationed just to the right of the cockpit. Two paddle clips are alternatively located on the left side of the cockpit and their design allows for easy, yet secure paddle removal or placement single-handedly. The storage space is phenomenal as it includes a bow storage hatch and bungee area, stern storage hatch and bungee area, a storage hatch just in front of the seat, storage hatch just behind the seat, cup holder, and a personal dry storage hatch by the seat! Comfortability is unquestionably outstanding because of adjustable footpegs and adjustable padded seat that can be easily placed in one of three different height locations for paddling comfort and fishing ability.


All of these features alone make this an absolutely incredible fishing vessel, but the best attribute of all is the ability to stand and fish! The stability of this kayak is so exceptional that it allows the angler to actually stand and fish during your trip! The FS128T also includes a stand/sit assist lasso that is durable and securely clipped a few feet in front of the seat.


                                FS128T Fully Loaded


The Ascend FS128T is a kayak angler's dream ride. This new introduction into the Ascend lineup is absolutely loaded with next gen features and is an extremely well designed yet affordable entry into the field of many angling kayaks available today. These are trickling into many of the Bass Pro Shops locations and are available in the camping department for only 699.99. This is an amazing value as most kayaks with this design and these features are Yak Fishing Fun!approximately 1099.99 and up!

If you or someone you know has the slightest interest in this engaging, entertaining, exciting, and fulfilling sport, please don't hesitate to visit with me or any of our friendly staff at the Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops!


Tight Lines,

Gary G. Garver

Fishing Team Lead

Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops


Itching to Try New Gear: Fishing & Family

Have you ever bought new fishing gear only to have "things" come up that prevent you from trying out new gear? Well, that happened to me this year. I bought some brand new Saltwater gear and was forced to wait to try it out!

My family and I finally headed down to Ocean Isle for a Spring Break trip to the beach for some  much needed R and R.

Ocean Isle Arial

Ocean Isle is a wonderful family beach along the southern NC coastline, it has great fishing opportunities both surf and dock fishing as well as the wonderful waterway on the back side of the island.

 I have been dying to use my new fishing gear I bought with a Bass Pro gift card given to me for Christmas. It was a chilly morning with temperatures in the mid 60s for the high. It was early in the morning around 5:30am and man was it cold before the sun came up, but we decided it was better to be fishing and cold than to be warm and not fishing. We were fishing in the canals pictured above just north of the mainland bridge. It was Low tide and we used shrimp bait. I decided to use that type of bait because the bottom of the canal is full of seaweed and oyster shells, and using artificial crankbaits could and probably would have gotten snagged on the bottom. I made another long cast out into the canal after putting on fresh bait, it didn't take long then all of a sudden the rod tip bent down and a fish was on. It gave a great fight but ultimately ended up landing a nice black drum.


Not bad for my first trip out with my new Mako Rod and Reel Combo.  At Bass Pro Shops we feel anglers should have a reliable performing ''grab-and-go'' salt combo that’s versatile enough for surf casting or pier fishing; and with price that would make frugal fisherman proud. We have done just that with the Mako Spinning Rod and Reel Combo. The medium-action, two-piece Mako rod is complete with quality guides, EVA grip handle and graphite reel seat with saltwater-tough, stainless steel cushioned hoods. The smooth Mako reel is built around lightweight graphite frame and side cover and is complete with an anodized aluminum spool, front drag system, die-cast handle and stainless steel main shaft. Its a great rod and reel at an even better price!

The drum seemed to weigh somewhere between 4 and 5 lbs, I didn't have my scales with me but i did have a tape measure!


A 20 inch black drum, man was I stoked!  Can't wait to get back to that fishing spot again soon!

Happy Fishing!

Michael Steele

Team Leader - Apparel Department

Bass Pro Shops

Concord, NC





Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Featured FanBass Pro Shops Altoona fans are the best in the world! In this Featured Fan Spotlight, meet Rita!  Rita has become a familiar face at Bass Pro Shops Altoona...she has an amazing story and here's just a brief synopsis.  May we all have Rita's zest for life as we go through the years...and her passion for sharing it with the next generation!

Featured Fan - Rita Mae


How Long have you Enjoyed the Great Outdoors?

I have enjoyed outdoor activities all my life. My grandparents were farmers using horses to plow the land and hunting and fishing to put additional food on the table. My parents continued that love for the land and instilled that in me. I got "hooked" on fishing when Dad took me and my brother to MaryFeatured Fanland farm ponds where the big bluegill were plentiful. They were great fun to catch and excellent to eat. We had simple rods and reels with night crawlers we picked up in our yard hooked under those familiar red and white plastic bobbers. I still get a thrill out of catching those big scrappy bluegill and am always looking for new places to catch them with my twin 8-year-old grandsons, Tommy and Torin, and my 14-year-old old neighbor, Rudy.

In my retirement I decided to expand my fishing knowledge and wanted to try something besides worm and bobber fishing. Three years ago I started ice fishing, sitting on a 5-gallon bucket, a borrowed manual auger, a rod I made from a broken longer rod and glued into a wooden dowel, a few tiny jigs and a container of wax worms. I wasn't very successful and got very cold! I went to Lake Okoboji for a three-day "Learn to Ice Fish" event sponsored by Ice Team University and had a blast! I met Dave Gentz, Mr. Ice Fishing, and several other pros who sat with me in a shelter and taught me to ice fish more successfully. I came home and bought a Clam Shelter, Vexilar 20, electric auger, and heater. I used my new equipment and new knowledge to enjoy ice fishing much more. Because I didn't have a boat at that time, I liked the ability to get off the shore and fish anywhere on the water I could walk to. This year I went to Leech Lake in March to fish again with the Ice Fishing University Team. The conditions were tough with 2' of new snow on top of 2' of ice Featured Fanwith cold temps and wind. The pros had to shuttle us around on snowmobiles. Many thanks to Rod Woten from our local Bass Pro Shop in Altoona for taking good care of me and loaning me his Fish Scout camera to learn more about fish habits. The workshops off the ice were tremendous and the friendships made are forever. I can't wait for next year to target walleye and northern on the ice!

This past fall when I turned 70 I purchased a fishing kayak, so I will no longer be stuck on the shore. I can paddle it like a regular kayak, peddle it like a recumbent bike, or use its little motor. I enjoy being able to get out on the lake and go places I can't normally get to. I also bought a used BassTender boat to be able to take "the boys" out on Ada Hayden, Hickory Grove, or Big Creek. We all can't wait for warmer weather to have more adventures on the grandsonboat.

Because I'm interested in all types of fishing, last September I attended a weekend Fly Fishing Workshop at Springbrook Conservation Center (near Guthrie Center) sponsored by the Central Iowa Fly Fishing Association. I learned the basics of fly fishing and fly tying. I even caught some fish on a fly
I made. I loved it!  Now I'm a member of CIFFA and have added a new area in my basement for my fly rods and fly tying stuff.

Since I never fished much with crank baits, jerk baits, spinners, and soft baits, I attended the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic Workshop in our Bass Pro Shop Altoona store. Wow...there was so much to learn. I appreciate the knowledge and skill of Kary and Lance, the BPS pros. They have armed me with some new skills and I continue to use the Facebook site to ask questions. It's a bit overwhelming, but me and the kids I fish with will have great fun trying it all out.

Go-To Gear?

The gear that I pack depends on what type of fishing and what fish I'm targeting. Because I want to be more mobile, I no longer carry big heavy tackle boxes. I've sorted my tackle into plastic compartmental boxes and just take along the boxes I need. I have a box for crank baits and jerk baits, a box for jigs and spinners, a box for slip bobbers, weights and hooks. I put whatever boxes I want, along with a fanny pack that holds needle nose pliers, line clippers, extra line, etc., in a backpack. I have a spinning rod with XPS fluorocarbon, crank bait rod with Sufix 832 braid, live bait/bobber rod with Sufix Siege camo mono, and ultra light rod hooked up before I go out. I guess if I was only going to take a few lures with me they would be a Bomber Square A crank bait, a Rapala Rippin Rap, a Strike King Red Eye Shad, a Norman DD22, a Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogue,a BooYaa Blade white spinner, a blue/purple Enticer football jig with a Net Bait Paca Chunk bait trailer, drop shot rig with KVD Dream Shots worms, and a Wacky rig with 5" Strike King Zero worms. These were all suggestions from the Bass Pro Shop pro staff.


Words of Wisdom

I survived a severe heart attack two years ago. So, more than ever, I believe it's important to make time each day to enjoy your family, friends, and pets... AND have fun doing whatever hobby you love!


Fishing for Trout and Salmon in the Finger Lakes

Fishing in the Finger Lakes offers a variety of different species to catch.  The most popular fish  people go for, are trout and salmon.  There are different systems of fishing the Finger Lakes, and here are a few you may just be interested in.


Trolling:  Trolling is the most popular for trout and salmon.  For this type of fishing you can put up to 5 lures per line, and slowly pull or troll behind a boat.  The positive side to trolling over the casting method is, it allows multiple rods rigged with different lures that are set up at different depths.  Trolling does require special equipment and can be very maddening during periods when the waterfleas are plenty.  A good trolling motor to look in to is the Minnkota Terrova Bow Mount Trolling Motor with Universal Sonar 2.   The Minnkota  has a factory installed I-Pilot wireless GPS trolling system which allows you to store and retrieve location and paths on water.  Added, is the co-pilot wireless function to navigate and position your boat which allows you to focus on fishing.  Easy to use and very durable.














Trolling with lures near the surface is referred to as flat lining.  This technique works great with landlocked salmon (best when water is cool).  The best lures to use are stickbaits, streamers and spoons.  During the warm months you need to get lures deeper for the trout and salmon.  Sometimes as deep as 100 feet or more.  A few methods to get lures down deep is a downrigger.  A downrigger is a heavy weight attached to steel cable that lowers and raises by a winch and pulley system.  One downrigger that works well is the Cannon Tournament Series DigiTroll 5TSThe stainless steel spool allows you to re-spool monofilament or superlines.  It has a swival base and integrated LCD screen and touch pad which provides a real time date and is simple to operate.  Best part is its electric.

















Divers:  This device is attached to your line.  This will get your lure down to the depth you want.  Divers are a great option for beginning trollers.  They are cheaper than downriggers and there is no installation to your boat.

WireLine:  This method has become very popular over the years.  When used with a diving device, the bait goes deeper.

Copperline:  This system has been popular for many years in the Finger Lakes area.  Lake trout are the favorite to catch with copper.  Another term people use is "pulling copper".  One tugs the copper by hand using a heavy spoon.  Some people modify an old victrola record player to wind the copper on.

Lures that are popular for trolling salmonids are spoons, plugs, and flies.  Three main styles of attractors are spinners, dodgers, and flashers.

Vertical Jigging:  A very popular method of catching lake trout is vertical jigging.  This method entails lowering the jig to the bottom a few times and then reeling it up rapidly off the bottom for a short distance, before dropping it again and repeating.  This is a nice alternative to trolling when you have water fleas or weed matts.  You also do not need any special rod or reel.

Natural Bait:  Minnows are extremely popular to use.  Make sure you use only certified bait or bait caught from the lake you are fishing on.  Other popular baits are alewives (also called sawbellies or mooneyes), egg sacs, and marshmallow and worm rigs.  The marshmallow and worm rigs are extremely popular on Skaneateles Lake.  The colored marshmallow helps float the worm off the bottom and the bright color of the marshmallow acts like a attractor.  Some people skip the worm and just use the marshmallow. 

So have a relaxing and fun time out fishing on the Finger Lakes, and remember if you need anything we are just a short distance away.


Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator








That Takes The Bait

That Takes The Bait

Hey all you guys and gals out there in Blogland.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I am writing this blog.  I retired from the corporate world several years ago and got my dream job here at Bass Pro Shops (eat your heart out Bill Gates).  Since I work here, even though I do not work out on the floor, I though it would be a good idea for me to know a little bit about each of the different departments.  As I got to know more, I realized how much I didn’t know.  Not just about what we sell in the store, but about what you have to know to use what we sell in the store.

Take fishing baits for example.  Do you know how many different kinds of fishing baits there are?  Not to mention all of the different colors.  Did you know you use one kind of bait to catch one kind of fish and another to catch a different kind or you can be trying to catch the same kind of fish but you use a different kind of bait because it is morning or evening?  Or maybe a different color?  So I started out asking my husband what he thought about baits (after 40 some years of marriage that’s what a good wife is supposed to do, right?).  Next I asked his fishing buddies, then I did what I should have done in the first place, I went to the experts in our fishing department.  After hearing what all they had to say, I got to thinking – There might be other people out there just like me who might be in need a basic understanding of fishing baits.  So here goes (and remember, this is not comprehensive just basic and I am no expert).

Baits are divided into six different types – Crank baits, Top water Plugs, Spinner baits, buzz baits, jigs and plastics. 

Crank baits - Diving crank baits are characterized by a bill or lip. Deep running crank baits are used to probe depths of water below crankthe surface.  Minnow type shallow runners are used as top water lures and are twitched across the surface.   The diving depth is determined by the length and width of the bill.  When the bait is pulled through the water, the lip causes it to dive.   When the retrieve is paused the bait will float to the surface. The action of the bait depends on the style of bait, length of cast, the rate of retrieve, pausing and twitching action, and the position of the rod tip. Using a stop and go retrieve around points, channels, stumps, and brush will often trigger a strike.

Shallow, medium and deep running crank baits come in different weights, sizes and color patterns. They can cover a large amount of water in a short time.  The swimming crank bait is similar to the lipped crank bait, except that it sinks when it is paused.  It is very versatile and can be fished at various depths.  They are effective around drop offs, humps, through timber and along edges of grass lines

Top water Plugs - Catching a large fish on a top water lure is one of the most exciting moments an angler can experience.  These top water baits, are often referred to as chuggers, poppers, stick baits and prop baits.  The chugger and poppers have a wide concaved snout that churns the water when they are twitched and popped. Some are equipped with rattles inside them.

Prop baits are equipped with either one or two propellers.  The whirling action of the propellers causes a distinct vibration and sound when it is pulled across the surface.  The stick bait is designed to walk and wobble across the surface.

spinnerSpinner baits - Probably the most versatile bait in an anglers tackle box is the spinner bait.  One of its best features is that it is easy to use and is relatively weedless.  The blades spin and flash during the retrieve and the action of the skirt adds life and shape to the bait.  The depth can be controlled by the rate of retrieve, and the position of the rod tip.  It is most often used to fish the top 2 to 4 feet of water although it can be used to fish deeper structure.     Using the 'slow roll'  method the lure is retrieved with the blades slowly turning, keeping the lure close to the bottom or over other substrate.   

When water is warm and fish are active a good method to use is the bulging retrieve.  As soon as the lure hits the water, immediately engage the reel and use a rapid retrieve to keep the lure coming just under the surface of the water.  The turning of the blades produces a bulge in the water.   Hold on to your rod as strikes can be especially fierce with this method.     

Spinner baits are equipped with single blades or tandem blades of different styles and combinations. Anglers can choose the oblong Indiana blade, the thin willowleaf blade or the wider tear shaped Colorado blades. Trailers of all sizes and makes can be added to a spinner bait.  Spinner baits come in many sizes, weights and colors. Color of the spinner bait is important in that it helps to determine the degree of visibility of the lure.

Buzz baits - The design of a buzz bait is very similar to a spinner bait. The blade on a buzz bait acbuzzts as a propeller that causes the bait to sputter along the surface.   The distinctive noise of the buzz bait will usually agitate bass into striking. Cast it beyond your target area and immediately begin your retrieve to keep the lure on the surface.  A slow or sometimes erratic retrieve will trigger some vicious top water strikes. 

Jigs - A jig is a leadheaded hook with a changeable skirt. A trailer is sometimes added to the jig, the most popular being the pork rind.  This combination is referred to as the jig n' pig.

jigJigs can be effective when most lures just won't produce.  They are virtually snagless, and can be put directly in the fish zone.  They are especially effective on suspended fish that are hiding in deep cover. 

One way to fish the jig is to let it sink to the bottom and then begin a slow and steady retrieve. Other ways are to hop the lure along the bottom; use the rod tip to jig it vertically; flip it; or fish it like a spinner bait.  Most anglers have their own preferred method of fishing a jig. 

These lures come in many styles, colors, weights, etc.  Small tube jigs are effective for catching small sunfish, and crappie.plastic

Plastics - Soft plastics can be rigged with weight or used weightless. Weightless plastics can be used as surface lures or jerk baits. They are commonly used when fishing thick vegetation.  They are also very effective during the spawning season using a float-twitch retrieve over grassbeds.  Plastics with a very light weight can be used when fishing shallow structure.  Heavily weighted plastics are fished along the bottom. There are so many different types of plastics and so many different ways to rig them. There are plastics that imitate frogs; lizards; salamanders; leeches; worms; grubs; centipedes; fish; craw worms etc. that come in all sizes and colors. 

Jettie Whittington

HR Clerk

Denham Springs


What's In A Line?

 What's In A Line?


            Hey everyone this is Brian, I am a Fishing Team Lead from the Denham Springs store.  I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the different types of fishing lines out there, no not brands of line but the types.  You know Monofilament, Braided (super) line, Fluorocarbon and Copolymers.  All 4 lines have there advantages and disadvantages, you will have to weigh them for yourself to determine which line is best for you and your specific fishing applications.


Monofilament is a single component product making it fairly inexpensive to make, no doubt at least in part the monoreason it remains the most popular line out there.  But as with all line it has its advantages and disadvantages. Beyond being relatively inexpensive, it is easy to cast, cut and knots well. On the downside, it tends to stretch during hook sets, particularly when there is a lot of line out there. This is a real downside if one happens to be seeking fish with a tough jaw. It is also not particularly sensitive to light hits, as you simply may not feel a light touch. Over time it can develop spool memory and will deteriorate from light and heat necessitating regular replacement.  I have seen too many big fish lost simply because the angler didn’t take the time to replace their line on a regular basis. Also, it is not as abrasion resistant as some of the other lines out there. So one must constantly be on the look out for small abrasions and retie accordingly. Lastly, and this particularly applies to heavyweight line, it is bulky and when attempting to spool a lot of heavy test line it won’t take long to fill the spool.

Superline (braid)

braidThere are actually two types of superlines: braided and fused. Fused is made of gel-spun polyethylene that is heated and pulled into strands that are then fused together. Whereas the braided version is typically made of synthetic fibers such as Spectra that are then tightly woven and compressed together into an ultra thin, incredibility strong and sensitive line.  They can be used  when fishing heavy cover, jigging, or fishing bait in deep water. The lack of stretch in these instances makes for solid hook sets even in very deep water or on steel-jawed fish. Its sensitivity also transmits the minutest strikes for quicker hook sets and when working heavy cover or in high abrasion areas, it is all but indestructible. Lures also sink faster and deeper with superlines. Additionally, because of its small diameter, you can load a lot of line on your spool. It has minimal spool memory and does not require replacement nearly as frequently as most will last several years. Pound-test for pound-test you can also cast it further than monofilament making it useful in situations where long casts are a must.

But on the down side, it is expensive and you may need to alter fishing techniques. For example, it will require different knots as many of your old knots may slip, so when in doubt use a Palomar knot. You may even consider adding a drop of super glue to the knot to make sure that it won’t slip. It is also very visible to fish, which is some cases may not present a problem but in others may just spell the difference between success and failure. Additionally, with this no stretch line, too hard a hook set and you may pull the hook right out of a fish’s mouth. When snagged, it is all too easy to break a rod tip by putting too much pressure on these all but unbreakable lines. And when trolling, don’t set your drag too tight as it may pull the lure or bait away from a fish. A rod with a light action tip will also assist in avoiding this problem. And last, when snagged don’t use your hands, as the line can very easily cut your hands. Point your rod tip directly at the snag and pull directly to you. Either the line will break or the hook will straighten out.


Fluorocarbon fishing line originated in Japan where it was first used as leader material when bait presentation was critical in high-pressure fluorocarbonareas. It has since gained popularity on this continent and in many instances, is the line of choice. Fluorocarbon line has a refractive index close to that of water, making it all but invisible when submerged in water. Unquestionably, it is an excellent choice for fishing in clear water or high-pressure areas. It is particularly useful as leader material when fly fishing in ultra clear mountain streams and rivers. While not on par with the superlines, it still offers minimal line stretch, a quick sink rate and is tougher than monofilament. It has minimal spool memory and is quite abrasion resistant. The later making it a good choice for high abrasion areas such as rocks or submerged logs. It is also more UV resistant so it can be stored and used for longer periods than monofilament. It is quite sensitive and with its limited line stretch it makes for quicker and more solid hook sets without the potential loss of a fish due either to too much or too little stretch. It may well be the ideal fit for line stretch between monofilament and the superlines. 

But it too has it drawbacks, as with the superlines it will require more attention to detail. Knots, for example, will require more attention and always check your knots before using. It is also stiffer than monofilament and as such I would avoid using heavier weight fluorocarbon lines on light gear particularly if you are using lightweight lures. And last, it is certainly more expensive.


copoCopolymer fishing line is another feat of engineering as it originally combined several nylon monomers into a thinner more stable line. New formulas, which include, for example, the addition of fluorocarbon, have been developed to enhance this line even further. P-line Floroclear is a good example of this. Copolymer lines are more impervious to the elements and offer a bit less line stretch than monofilament. It is also less visible and tends to outlast monofilament as well.  But once again, it can be a bit more expensive and may be viewed by some as being a bit tricky to handle. If you encounter a problem with stiffness, I would suggest that you consider dropping down a couple of weight classes.

As a final comment, there is no one perfect line for all uses, so take a look at what you are fishing for, the depth you are fishing at, the type of terrain you are fishing in, the type of tackle being used, the condition of the water, the fishing pressure, and then look at matching your line to these factors and you are sure to not only improve your catch rate but your enjoyment as well.  Please visit your nearest Bass Pro Shops for all your outdoor needs.

Brian Gordon

Fishing Lead

Denham Springs


Spinning vs. Baitcasting

The question of which specific type of rod and reel to use is a very controversial subject. Anglers all over the country are set in there ways that either a spinning rod is the way to go or a baitcaster is the way to go. The truth is, both have there time and place, and to truly be a versatile successful fisherman it is important to get confident and build your skills with both. This being said there are still a few rules of thumb that I like to stick by when selecting which type of equipment to use, and both definitely have there time and place.

Spinning setups such as the now on sale Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier or the Pflueger President Spinning Reel have been very important keys to my success as a professional angler. Accompany these reels with either a Johnny Morris CarbonLite or a TFO Signature series rod and you will have a extremely versatile rod and real combination. There are some things a spinning rod is key for that a baitcasting setup just simply can't duplicate. For me I almost always choose a spinning rod when I am using 10lb test Trilene line or lighter. Spinning rods are designed for these light line applications and with extremely sensitive drag systems they give the angler the best opportunity to fool a finicky fish into biting by using light line and finesse tactics. The sensitive drag system will allow a large fish to run and fight stripping out line but not breaking you off in the process. Another great advantage that a skilled angler has while using a spinning setup is the ability to side arm skip light or weightless baits with ease. This technique is deadly for fishing up under docks or overhanging trees. With a spinning rod you can gently place a weightless soft plastic bait 50+feet under the cover where fish rarely see a lure. This being said do yourself a favor and give the sometimes frustrating spinning rod and reel a try.

What i mean by sometimes frustrating is the spinning setup is notorious for having blowout loops that can all but ruin a day of fishing. While getting occasional loops is inevitable there are a few fundamentals that will almost eliminate loops and tangles on the water. The first step in casting a spinning rod and reel is holding the line with your finger, you then flip the medal bail over and you are ready to cast. Now from then on is where all of the problems happen, watch your bait as it sails through the air and just before it hits the water place your finger back on the line stopping the bait, and then simply flip the bait back over manually instead of using the spring mechanism by just starting to reel. That is all it takes, most loops occur when your bait hits the water and line continues to come off of the spool creating line twist, as well as the twist and ware on a reel that happens when you flip the bail over by cranking the handle. Give it a try and you will be blown away at how much more enjoyable spinning rod fishing will become. Trust me it really works.

Baitcasters are the most popular setups by far in the bass fishing world. Bass anglers often use relatively big lures and heavy line, making a baitcaster the best choice. A baitcaster has more power and strength for fighting a fish out of heavy cover as well as the ability to cast the heavy lures that are sometimes required to catch bass. So as a rule of thumb, most of the time when using 12lb line or higher a baitcaster is the way to go. They are very important for tactics such as crankbait fishing, flipping and pitching, or deep water fishing with carolina rigs and jigs. While you won't have issues with line twist using baitcasters they do have there own challenges that come with them. Backlashes are the thing that turns many recreational anglers away from fishing with a baitcaster. The key to casting them begins before you even get on the lake with tuning your reel just right, making sure you have your tension knob and break systems properly set for the specific bait you are throwing is extremely important. The rest is all in the way you cast, your cast must be one smooth and fluid motion allowing the weight of the bait to do the work. If your going to get a new baitcaster I would suggest a Johnny Morris CarbonLite Baitcasting Reel with a Temple Fork Outfitters Signature Series Trigger Rod and you are ready to go.

It all boils down to practice, it takes countless hours to truly master the spinning setup as well as the baitcaster, and neither one is a all around better option then the other. If you have any questions such as how to set your baitcasting reel or the size of line to use come in to Bass Pro Shops where associates can fine tune your setup and give you hands on instructions on how to use your equipment! Also if you decide you want to take a leap of faith and learn how to use a new type of reel Bass Pro Shops has a sale going on from now until May 5th. SPRING WARM-UP SALE!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania



Feature of the Week - April 15

  • Feature of the Week: Week of April 15

    Department: Fishing

    Item: Daiwa® Procaster Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

    Daiwa procaster spinning reel boasts some of Daiwa's most advanced technology at a great price. Twistbuster dramatically reduces line twist common in less advanced spinning reels, and digitally designed and cut Digigear guarantees smooth performance and long life. Infinite anti-reverse; aluminum body and rotor.

    The Procaster rod is built on an IM6 graphite blank… the world's most popular graphite rod blank material due to its strength, flexibility, light weight, and durability. Split cork grip; a variety of actions for different species.





It Ain't Over 'til it's Over!

By Rod Woten - Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

Even though the hardwater season is a distant memory in central Iowa, there are still great ice conditions to be found within a few hours’ drive. For those willing to put in some windshield time, they can extend their season well into April, AND possibly experience some of the best fishing of the season. Being a tournament and professional ice angler, traveling to fish is a way of life for me. It’s fairly rare, however, for me to travel to do some “fun” fishing. I had the chance to do that exact thing this past weekend, however, and highly recommend you do the same if you still have that hardwater “bug.”

My favorite fish to chase when the lakes ice up is the yellow perch. There are a few places in Iowa where a hardwater junky can go to get their perch fix, but for a shot at a bucketful of true trophies, or “jumbos,” there’s a few places out of state that are sure bets. Fortunately, for those of us in central Iowa, one of those areas is as close as a six-hour drive. That’s the Glacial Lakes region of northeast South Dakota, well known for its prairie potholes, abundance of waterfowl, and JUMBO yellow perch. Since I hadn’t really had the chance to scratch my jumbo perch itch yet this year, and because there wasn’t a single yellow perch fillet left in our freezer, I decided it was time to revisit this great area of South Dakota.

I called the usual suspects, and soon we were putting our trip together. Our base was to be the town of Webster, SD, near one of the more popular lakes in the area, Waubay Lake. I called The Galley Steakhouse Lounge and Motel and was relieved to hear we could book the last remaining vacancies they had for that weekend. Friday seemed like the longest day ever at work, but as soon as the buzzer rang, we were out the door and headed to Webster. We rolled into town shortly after 11 p.m. that evening. The Galley has a very sportsman-like feel to it with mounted fish, geese, pheasants and ducks adorning the knotty pine paneled walls in the lobby. The rooms are simple, but very comfortable and quite affordable. The Galley also has heated kennels available for the upland and waterfowl hunters, as well as heated game and fish cleaning facilities. The attached restaurant and lounge boasts a menu of hearty offerings at very reasonable prices. We really appreciated the close proximity of the restaurant, as well as the hot hearty meals when we returned from our first day of fishing, famished and nearly exhausted from drilling holes and trudging through slush all day.

ice fishingSaturday morning we decided to attack the north end of Waubay Lake in search of its famous jumbos and walleyes. We divided into two groups: One group would try to fish several likely walleye spots with Arctic Warrior tip-ups, while my crew would fish the mud flats and edges of sharp breaks in search of rapidly moving schools of jumbo perch. Fishing was very slow for the first half of the morning. The tip-up crew only had one walleye to show for their efforts and most in my group hadn’t even marked a fish.  I pulled up my lake map and was able to identify an inside corner in the mud basin adjacent to a sharp break. I was just sure that corner would concentrate fish, so I set off on my own with an auger, my Vexilar, and jigging rod to find out. I drilled about a half-dozen holes over the area I had marked on my GPS and sat down to fish the first hole. No sooner had I dropped my Chubby Darter down to within six feet of the bottom than a red mark rose up to meet it. Within seconds, it felt like something was trying to rip my rod out of my hands. I fought it for several minutes before bringing a nice chunky smallmouth to the surface.

I signaled to the rest of the crew that I had at least found some fish, and soon we were all punching additional holes over the new spot. Before long, just about everyone had caught a smallmouth or two, but we had yet to see any of those elusive jumbos. By continuing to drill holes and move around, we did start to catch a few smaller perch, and a few that were just big enough to keep. Even a few smaller walleyes were caught. We continued to drill holes, working our way south towards the main basin of the lake. I had just finished drilling a string when I saw one of the others in my group pulling a nice perch from the center-most holes. He excitedly told us that the whole bottom of his flasher was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the whole group was instantly drilling more holes around him or fishing holes already near him. Every time a fish was pulled up, someone else would drop down the same hole and try their luck. Not only did this increase our catch rate, but it also helped to ensure that the perch always had something hanging in their faces to keep their interest and keep them under us. This went on for what seemed like a long time, but was probably more like ten minutes. Even despite our best efforts, the perch finally got wise to us, and moved off. At the end of the flurry, about 20 perch in the 11 to 13 inch range were laying on the ice.

For those that have never ice fished for perch on big water, this is a classic perch pattern. Sometimes it takes MANY holes before you happen to land on a nice pod of perch. All that work is well worth it, though, because once you land on that pod, the fish will be stacked 6, 8, sometimes even as high as 12 feet off the bottom, and they’ll be HUNGRY. It often doesn’t matter what you drop down to them when they’re schooled up like this because they are aggressively feeding and will eat anything you throw down there. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE perch fishing so much…..drilling holes across vast amounts of water looking for that BONANZA…and when you find it, the feeling is indescribable!

Drilling holes throughout the early afternoon yielded us only a few smaller single perch, so we decided to head back to the access, load up, and head to the South end of the lake. Reports had indicated that the south end had actually been better fishing than the north end, so we were anxious for what the afternoon might bring. On our way back to the access, we were a little surprised at how often our snowmobiles would punch through the crust that had been frozen and slick that morning. The warmth of the day was definitely taking a toll on the crust-slush-ice sandwich we’d been traveling and the access was definitely beginning to show it.

Arriving at the Kanago access only offered more of the same. In fact, the south end of the lake was actually worse than the north end had been. We had to keep our speed up on the snowmobiles and use our momentum to get us through several of the larger slush pockets, and walking through it was a chore. We fished several likely looking contours on the south end, but didn’t even see a mark. Fortunately, our tip-up crew that had also migrated to the south end was having much better luck than we were, with a couple of guys in that crew actually catching their daily limit of four walleyes.walleye

Before long the light began to fade and we decided to get off the lake while there was still enough light to see the deteriorating conditions at the access. We managed to get off the lake safely, returned to The Galley, cleaned our fish, met in the lounge for a nice hot meal, and then collapsed into bed.  

The next morning we headed south out of Webster to Swan Lake. We had heard decent reports from Swan for prior weeks, but all indications were that it had slowed down recently and there was lots of sorting through small fish to get any keeper jumbos. Regardless, we wanted to try it. We arrived at the north-most access and were disappointed to find a fair amount of open water. There was a very muddy, sloppy detour to the side that ATVs had obviously been using, but that was a definite no-go for our snowmobiles. We continued south to the other access and found it to be in much better shape, so we wasted no time in getting on the lake.

Since contours are not available for Swan, we didn’t have the luxury of using the GPS like we did the previous day. Luckily, a friend that had been out there last week told us about two areas he had seen fish in, so those were our starting points. Upon arriving at our first spot, we drilled a dozen or so holes over the area and immediately got to work. Several minutes without marking a fish meant the augers were soon going again, expanding our field of holes in a northeasterly direction. Finally, on the leading edge of that northeasterly push, we began to mark fish. I settled in on a hole and within a few minutes of aggressively jigging my Chubby Darter, my Vexilar lit up with five distinct marks. I teased and finessed those marks for what seemed like an eternity in an effort to entice a bite, but to no avail. Finally, I shouted out to see if anyone had something smaller tied on that they could drop down the hole and catch one of these marks. I was pretty sure it was a small pod of perch, but until we landed one that was just speculation. No sooner had those words left my mouth than WHAM! One of the marks had inhaled my Darter. Sure enough, the school that had moved in underneath me was jumbo perch. Unfortunately, they were on the move, too. In the time it took me to unhook the fish I had just caught…and before anyone else could make it over to drop down and keep the perch interested…they had moved on. After picking up a nice walleye at another hole, things started to die down on that first area. We decided that since we were only fishing until noon, that we should pack up and move to the second area we had received the hot tip on. 

Rod WotenUpon arriving at our second spot, it was obvious that this had at one time been a community spot. In fact, it had been warm enough recently that we didn’t even need to drill holes; we just kicked open the thin layer of ice over the existing holes. As we dropped our Vexilars down and started to check holes, we were very surprised to see that almost every hole had marks in them. Obviously, we wasted no time in getting right down to fishing. We then realized why all the reports had mentioned all the sorting required to catch jumbos. Nearly every fish we pulled up was between six and nine inches. While it was nice to feel the tug on the other end of the line, these fish were definitely not what we were looking for. We responded by switching holes regularly. It wasn’t long before we caught our first jumbos by doing this. It was nice to see that there were at least a few jumbos still left in this community spot. We continued to sort through smaller perch picking up a jumbo here and a jumbo there. 

Before we even realized it, noon had come and gone, and it was time for us to load up and head back to Iowa. We had caught enough jumbos that each of us could have a nice supper if we wanted to. Most were in the 10 to 12 inch range, but we did manage one very nice 14” piggy off that spot. As we were driving across the lake towards the access to leave, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the ice conditions were on Swan compared to Waubay. We discussed afterwards how we wished we had fished Swan on Saturday, too. Slush was almost non-existent on Swan and the south access was holding up surprisingly well.

The moral of the story is that just because there’s no ice here, that doesn’t mean your hardwater season has to be over. There is still a lot of ice in places like South Dakota and northern Minnesota. Because of the massive amounts of snow they received this winter, the ice has been well preserved. As conditions warm, that snow pack will compact and slush pockets will become less and less of an issue. The ice will eventually get to a point where it will only support foot traffic, but that point is still several weeks away. The fishing will only improve from here on out, too. We had marginal success while we were there, but it was enough that I’m satisfied with the trip, and feel it was a great way to end my season. I am a little sad that I might be missing some of the best fishing of the season up there yet. Trust me, I’d be right back out there in a heartbeat if my schedule allowed. I have fly fishing clients to tend to already, but there’s no reason some of the rest of you can’t put a trip together and enjoy some of this late season ice while it’s still there. There are great accommodations right in the heart of the glacial lakes region of South Dakota in towns like Webster, Watertown, and Grenville. These places cater to sportsmen and are usually very affordable. Get a group together and give one of them a call today to book a room. It’s hard to beat the feeling you get when you’re able to say that you were ice fishing in APRIL! Good luck!



Kid's Outdoor Skills Challenge!

For two weekends only! April 20 & 21 and 27 & 28  Noon - 4pm

Bring the family on out for this fun kid's challenge where the kid's will have fun while they show off and/or learn some important outdoor skills!

Except in the event of rain, all activities will be taking place outdoors.

The Challenges -

Bass Pro Shops East PeoriaCasting:  Casting for accuracy is changing this year. This time the target will be a floating hula-hoop in the pond out front!  

Backpack packing: We’ll have backpack worthy and backpack-unworthy items available for the kids will race each other to pack their bag with the appropriate items!Kid's outdoor archery barn at Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL

Archery: Like in the past, we’ll set the outdoor range up in the parking lot.  Kids will take aim at balloons, which is fun no matter what your age!

Knots: Learning to tie a proper knot is essential when camping or enjoying the outdoors. Kids will learn to make knots around a dowel rod. They will be able to take their string and the helpful knot tying card with them!

  Lighted wristband giveaway from Bass Pro Shops


The first 100 kids to complete the challenges each day will receive
a lighted Bass Pro Shops wristband!



The Bass Pro Shops prize wheel!



Then, Spin the Prize Wheel!

After completing the challenges, all kids will get to spin the Prize Wheel!




The Crafts:

dragonfly craft at Bass Pro Shops Kid's Challenge Weekend Foam Creature craft at Bass Pro Shops Kid's Challenge Weekend owl craft
Saturday April 20   
Dragon Fly craft 

Sunday April 21     
Animal Craft 

Saturday & Sunday  
April 27 & 28    
Color an Owl mask

 Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL



Don't be "one of those guys" at the ramp!

You know who I'm talking about - the guy who puts his boat in the water, hits the key, and listens to it spin and spin and spin, or says, "Do you have a set of jumper cables I can borrow?"  while the rest of us sit in line at the ramp watching as he screams at his wife to back the truck back in! I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad, but I see this time and time again, every place I go. We as fisherman and boaters know that if one thing goes wrong on our trip, it can wreck the entire day.

Maintenance is not my best habit (some of my friends are laughing too hard as they read this). The long winter months drag as I anticipate open water for the first time. Chances are, I'll be working long hours at the job, doing some ice fishing on the weekends, and taking my wife out to dinner on occasion. And before I know it, there's open water around the edges of my favorite pond, or lake. So the first chance I get, I'm spooling rods, straightening out tackle from last year, and scrambling like a mad man to get ready, and- I can't deny it- in the past, I have been "one of those guys." A lot of grief, and the loss of the first day or any other day on the water, could be avoided if that boat gets a little extra attention first thing this season.

The staff at our Tracker Marine Boat Center can take care of all that for us with a service called re-commissioning or summarizing. Lisa, the Service Manager at Gurnee told me, "This process not only starts the motor for the first time for the year in a controlled environment (not expelling storage fogging oil into the water), it also charges batteries, and checks the function of the options on your boat and your trailer. Many times we see trailer light or brake issues. We also can see live well plumbing issues too...Another great idea is to have the yearly maintenance done at this point. If there are any issues, you can be sure your motor's maintenance is up to date and diagnosis is quicker." She also brought up the fact that this is a great time to upgrade your trolling motor and/or electronics.

I have a 2010 Nitro Z-8 with a Mercury Optimax 225 ProXS.  The rapid planing system has really come in handy fishing the backwater areas of the Mississippi River. It allows me to get on pad in shallow water. The boat has lots of storage, and it is a dry ride in rough water. It tows extremely easy, as well. I depend on my boat.  As a guide, and a tournament fisherman, it is important that I don't become "one of those guys" on a trip, or at a tournament. A day on the water is all about memories, good or bad. A lttle TLC goes a long way in making sure more of them are good ones.

This is my first blog. I have met many of you at the Gurnee store over the past 11 years, and have made lots of friends. I look forward to blogging a couple of times a month. It is my pleasure to be a part of the Bass Pro Shops family and I hope to see you on the water. And remember, if it does happen to you, just ask. I'll have a set of jumper cables.

by Dan Hayes 4/5/13


Please wear your life jacket!

PLEASE Wear your life jacket….

Come on folks, how many people have to drown for everyone to begin wearing a life jacket all the time when you are on the water? Just the other day on Lake Lanier, north of Atlanta, Georgia another angler has drowned while fishing when he fell overboard. Read more about this story; follow the link below -

Why does this continue to happen? The National Safety Council, Inc. tells us that almost 7,000 people drown in the United States each year. This number must decrease in the near future; I am tired of seeing fishermen and outdoors people die on the water.  To make this number decrease we must begin to ask others to put on his or her life jacket when they are near or on the water.  For those of you that do not fish in tournaments, it is the rule that every angler in a competitive fishing event must wear a life jacket when the big motor is under power. This is a sound practice that needs to be carried over into a common sense law for all boaters.

In Georgia, for example, all vessels must have at least one USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (life jacket) for each person on board. However, Type V PFDs are acceptable only when worn and securely fastened. These types of PFDs are for specific activities. To be acceptable by the USCG, they must be used for the activity specified on the label. Varieties include fishing, kayaking, water skiing, windsurfing, hybrid vests and deck suits.

The current Georgia law requires that all children under 10 years of age wear a U.S. Coast Guard—approved PFD while on board any moving vessel. This law does not apply when the child is in a fully enclosed cabin. In response to several fatal boating accidents this past summer, the Georgia legislature and Governor are expected to introduce legislation in 2013 to establish mandatory boater education, increase the PFD mandate to any child under 13 years old and possibly Personal Water Craft (PWC) education for those who rent PWCs.

Not only is it important to wear a PFD, but I believe it is just as important to make sure your fits properly. Sizing for adults is by using your chest size, not your weight. This will help determine the correct size. For children, their weight will determine the correct size. When trying a PFD on, they should be snug and fit like a glove, yet allow you to move freely and not restrict you while casting, paddling or just playing. To get the best feel and fit, wear similar clothing when trying on a PFD. Women should consider women-specific PFDs versus unisex styles. All PFDs will have a different design and foam placement to fit the contours of the body. Foam placement has more to do with comfort than safety. The more straps a PFD has, the more adjustments can be made to customize its fit. To assure a proper fit go to a repeatable marine store and allow a properly trained assist to help you.

LIfe Jackets

Types of PFDs: There are 5 categories of PFDs.

Type I: Offshore Life Jackets. These vests are geared for rough, open or remote waters where rescue may take a while. Though bulky, they have the most buoyancy, a bright color and can turn most unconscious people face up in the water.

Type II: Near-shore Vests. Made for calm inland waters, where there is a likely chance of a fast rescue is the intent of these PFDs. They will turn some unconscious wearers to the face-up position but not all of them. They are bulky, but less so than Type I.

Type III: Flotation Aids. These are suitable for most on the water activties where there is a chance for a quick rescue. They offer freedom of movement and the most comfort for continuous wear. Type IIIs are designed so wearers can put themselves in a face-up position, but they may have to tilt their head back to avoid being face down in water.

Type IV: Throwable Devices. Cushions or ring buoys are designed to be thrown to someone in trouble and provide backup to a PFD. They are not for non-swimmers, rough waters or the unconscious. The USCG does not require these for canoes or kayaks.

Type V: Special-use Devices. These are specialized PFDs for specific activities. To be acceptable by the USCG, they must be used for the activity specified on the label. Varieties include fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, hybrid vests and deck suits.

Last week, I was given the opportunity to wear and test the new Type V Mustang Survival M.I.T. 100 Auto Inflatable Life Jacket. The new M.I.T. 100 with Automatic Activation is a premium product at a truly affordable price.  The jacket suggested retail is $149.99 at your local Bass Pro Shops. When I put on this PFD and properly adjusted it, I was amazed at just how much freedom of movement I had casting a rod and reel, and moving around in the boat. This life jacket was so light and comfortable I had it on all day and hardly noticed it! So the acceptance of wearing a life jacket on the water all the time became more plausible!

Life Vest

If you don’t know your own state's regulation on life jackets and PFDs, go to the Boat U.S. web site and locate the laws specific to your state.  Web page link:

Please help me eliminate drowning on and near the water across the country this spring by asking others to wear their PFD. My hope is that you, and your family will never have to find out if your life jacket works when you fall into the water. Really, is $150 to much to save your own life?



About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.

Follow him on   and   



Offset Your Ammo Cost: Part 3


     After reading parts one and two of this series, you now know what you need to get started reloading.  Additionally, you have brass that is ready to
be loaded.  Now it is time to get down to the real business of loading your own ammo.  This process is all about repetition, consistency, and efficiency.  
While I won't be able to teach you what is going to work best for you, I will be able to present the process and give you some great tips that help me be as
efficient and consistent as possible.    

                                                                                                         STEP 1:  Prime Cases (Pistol and Rifle)

    The first step to loading your rounds is seating new primers into the casing.  Most single action presses have a primer arm that you can swing out of
the way or use to seat primers. Here you can see the primer arm swinging into position to prime the casing. You can also choose a hand primer that allows you to prime cartridges away from your press.  If you are using your press, install the proper shell holder for the round that you are loading.  Insert the cartridge into the holder and pull your press handle down to raise the cartridge up.  Place a primer facing upward into the holder on the swinging primer arm on your press.  Lower the arm into the groove of the piston that your shell holder is sitting on and continue an upward stroke with your press handle.  You should feel some resistance as the primer seats into the primer pocket of your casing.  If the primer does not feel like it is feeding into the case, don't force it.  Lower your press arm and check that you have the correct shell holder installed.  Raise the press arm and seat the primer.  Make sure that you have the press handle all of the way up before lowering it back down.   Inspect the cartridge to insure that the primer is flush with the rear of the case.  If it seems bulged, crooked, or smashed you will have to deprime it and put a new primer in it.  If you find a case or multiple cases that will not accept a primer, check to see if there are crimp marks around the primer pocket.  Sometimes you will run into military brass that has crimped primer pockets which need to be reamed before seating a new primer.  If you do not pick up range brass or use military brass, this will probably never come up while you are loading.  After seating primers, I like to load my cases upright into a loading tray so I can easily transition to the next step.

                                                                                                                STEP 2:  Charging Cases  (Pistol and Rifle)

    For this you will need your powder, powder measurer, scale, and primed cases in a loading tray.  You can get a traditional scale or digital, but I prefer the latter.  Additionally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a powder trickler and powder funnel handy as well.  You do not have to have those, but it will save you some time and help you especially if you are trying to brew up an extremely precise load.  The first thing that you should do, if you have not done so already, is open your reloading manual to the caliber you are loading.  Find the powder that you selected on the data chart and figure out how many grains of powder is recommended to load.  I always start with the low side number and usually find the most accurate load will be in the low to mid velocity range.  Do not start with the high number on the right.  Once you have a good idea of how many grains of powder you would like to load, fill your powder measurer up with powder.  Make sure that you have the proper dispensing tube screwed onto the bottom of your powder measurer for the case you are loading. Here is an RCBS powder dispenser with a powder baffle (inside the clear powder tube) and micrometer upgrade installed.  Additionally, notice the green dispensing tube at the bottom that the case is up against.  There is a large and small size for the dispensers, make sure you are using the appropriate one.  You will have to unscrew the metering bolt until you are dropping close to the appropriate charge.  This is where the consistency factor really comes into play.  You are measuring the powder out by volume and not weight so you have to be very consistent at what you're doing.  In order to get any manual powder measurer to work properly, you must use the same stroke repeatedly.  I like to slowly move the arm up and tap it upwards at the top and then move it down in a smooth motion and tap it again at the bottom.  If I tap too hard or too light at either spot, I may have more or less powder in the charges, respectively.  My recommendation is to practice this until you can consistently drop within 0.2 grains of your targeted charge.  For instance, if I am loading a .223 and I want to drop 25.5 grains of powder, I would be sure that I could consistently drop between 25.3 and 25.7 grains.  It is possible to drop an exact charge every time, and with practice, you will.  For that kind of accuracy, I would recommend a micrometer upgrade for your powder measurer.  A flaky or spherical powder usually meters the most accurate for me.  Rod shaped powders shoot well but are hard to meter in your powder measurer.  This is also where a trickler will come into play.  If you are 0.10 off just trickle the extra little bit in and you are perfect.  
    To insure that my powder measurer is set up to dispense the correct weight, I weigh out every drop until I hit my target weight 3 times in a row.   That will tell you that your powder measurer is set precisely and you are being consistent in your motions.  I will then only weigh about every 7-10 loads after that to make sure that they are coming out consistent.  If you are loading a competition or hunting load I would recommend weighing every powder charge before funneling it to the casing.  If you are loading range or general purpose ammo your audit every 7-10 loads should keep you consistent enough.  If anything feels funny or you are unsure if you double charged a load, dump it out and do it again.  Double charges are not very common because most powders
have enough volume to overflow a case on a double charge, but it should be considered.  It is more likely that this will happen accidently in a pistol rather than a rifle load.  As mentioned earlier, I like to keep my loads within 0.2 more or less than my target weight.  You will not see much change in accuracy holding those tolerances.  Make sure that you keep your brass layed out neatly and add your charged loads to the loading tray.Lay your cases out in a loading tray once they are charged with powder.  The loading tray will keep them upright and unable to spill the powder you just measured into them.  Once you get into a flow with this and gain some confidence in your style and powder measurer, this step will be easy, accurate, and efficient.  
      Automatic powder measurers are available from most of the major reloading manufacturers.  The advantage of using these is every powder charge that you load is measured out to an exact weight.  This makes automatic powder measurers useful for competition shooters and hunters who look for an exact charge in each load.  Furthermore, they require no extra skill to use.  You load your powder into the measurer, set the digital display to dispense the amount you want to use, press a button and it drops your powder into a small dish on a scale displaying the exact weight.  You then put a funnel over your brass and pour the powder into the casing.  There are a couple of disadvantages to using these.  The first and most important to me is time.  This process takes
considerably longer to execute than a simple volumetric manual powder measurer.  The second is the price of these units are about 3-5 times as much as a manual measurer.  If you are specializing in large or small rifle loads for long range shooting, this would be a worthy investment.  For short range hunting and target loads, I would consider the manual powder dispenser.

                                                                                                                             STEP 3:  Seating (Rifle)

    The first two steps of this process are identical for rifles and pistols.  Step 3 is slightly different between the two but most of the same practices are employed for either one.  This step is also a spot where you can test around at different C.O.L.'s(Case Overall Lengths) to try to achieve greater accuracy.  With that being said, the first thing that I would instruct you to do is open your reloading manual and see what the recommended C.O.L. is for your round.  You do not want to vary too much from that setting, seating the bullet too deep will probably over pressure your round and could cause damage.  Seating the bullet too shallow could cause numerous problems including an over pressured round and an action not closing completely. 
    Semi-automatic guns like an AR-15 have another limiting factor in the C.O.L.  That is the clip.  The maximum C.O.L. for any .223 or 5.56 round to be shot out of
an AR-15 is 2.260."  I'm not saying that there is no magazine on the market that won't go out to 2.265" or 2.270," but in most cases you want to shoot for
<2.260" as your maximum case length to shoot out of an AR-15.  In order to do this, you must have your seating die set up correctly.  An example of a seating
die can be seen at the right. Make slight adjustments to your seating die after you measure to see how far away from your targeted C.O.L. you are. Place an empty cartridge in the shell holder and pull the press handle all of the way down.  Your cartridge should now be as high up in the press as it will go.  Unscrew the seating bolt on top of your die several turns and begin threading the die into the press.  Continue to screw the die in until it stops on your case.  Unscrew your die one full turn and tighten the locking ring on the threads of your die.  Tighten the die back up to your press and it is now properly set up but you still have to adjust your bullet depth.  Place a bullet into the mouth of your casing with the pointed end up.  You should be able to get the bullet to just sit on top of the case mouth.  Boat tail bullets are generally easier to set since they sit down into the throat of the case a little further.  Place the case into the shell holder on your press and slowly pull the press arm down to raise your cartridge.  You
should not feel any resistance as the case and bullet enters the seating die.  Once the press arm is all of the way down and the case it at its highest point, screw the seating bolt on the die in until you feel it pushing against the bullet.  Slightly raise the press arm and screw in the seating bolt another 1/4 turn or so.  Lower the press arm slowly again to seat the bullet.  Remove the cartridge and measure the length and see how it compares to the C.O.L. you are trying to achieve.  The length will more than likely still be too long, so continue to screw in the seating bolt using small increments.  Do not screw the entire die in further, just the bolt at the top of your die as shown in the photo.  Test often as a small adjustment will make a big change in your C.O.L.  This step requires a feel much like dropping powder does.  If you lower the press arm all of the way and then nudge it down, chances are your C.O.L.
will be shorter than if you just lower the arm with no nudge at the end.  Just like with metering powder, I like to check my work until I get about 3 in a row seated to the correct length without making adjustments.  I will then check every 7-10 cartridges for the correct C.O.L.  Very slight variations in length can be expected, but if it is more or less than 0.05" from your target length, you may have a problem and should check yourself carefully to see what is going wrong.

**NOTE:  Please check your specific die for instructions setting it up in the press as it may vary from what I have demonstrated here depending on the type of crimp it applies to the cartridge.**
Here is a bullet in a .223 before being seated, notice the cannellure on the bullet.Here is the .223 after being seated, not the cannellure position now.
    STEP 3: Seating (Pistol)

    This step is the same as seating for a rifle but you have to modify your brass slightly before you begin.  In order for your case to accept the bullet correctly, you must expand the case mouth before you start loading.  You will notice when buying dies that pistol dies generally come with three dies
while rifle usually only comes with two.  The extra die is the expanding die as seen in the picture.  The only thing that this does is slightly open the case mouth so your bullet fits nicely into the case.  To set this up, pull the arm of your press so that it is fully engaged and the shell holder is at the
highest point.  Screw the expanding die into your press until it touches the top of the shell holder.  Tighten down the lock ring on the die and secure the set screw.  Lower your shell holder back down and insert a cartridge.  Raise the case into the expander die until you feel some resistance.  Take the cartridge out to see if your case has expanded enough to comfortably accept a bullet, if not screw the top adjustment screw on the expander die in further and repeat.  Do this until you can comfortably place a bullet in the case that sits straight up and doesn't try to lay over in the case.  You will then set
up your seating die as instructed above.  The seating die will pull the walls of the case back in to the bullet to secure it in the case and set it to the depth that you have adjusted your die to.  Case expanding can be done when you are doing case preparations but I would just assume to do it before I load a fresh batch of ammo.

                            Here is a pistol bullet and case next to the expanding bolt before being expanded, notice how far the bullet stick out of the case.Here is the 9mm after being expanded.  Notice how much further the bullet sits down into the case.

                                                                                                                                    Step 4:  Enjoy

    Congratulations on successfully completing the reloading process.  You should now have uniform consistent rounds that you can shoot with confidence.  
The final step is storing your loads that won't be immediately shot.  I keep a reference book with a load number for each batch that I reload.  The reference
number will include information like the powder, powder weight, primer brand and size, bullet brand and weight, C.O.L., and anything else I deem relevant to
the load.  I will then use an old ammo box, coffee can, or hard case slotted ammo boxes to store ammo in.  Write the reference number on the storage
container so you can reference the load after you shoot it and leave feedback in your reference book based on its performance.  Keeping detailed records will
pay off big time for you whenever you revisit the bench to load more ammo up.  It also saves time in the R&D department, because it has already been done,
you just have to execute the loading process at the bench.
    Breaking the reloading process into steps is critical to comprehending what is going on without having an information overload.  I realize that this
article presents a mass of information that will be hard to process if taken in all at once.  I would tell you to start at the top, go one step at a time and
you will have a successful loading experience.  After all, you can't put powder into a case with no primer, no better than you can load a bullet into a case
without powder.  Within each of these steps you are going to find small things that will make the process go faster and smoother for you.  This might include
the layout of your loading bench or having a system in place for keeping the correct amount of ready brass available for your shooting needs.  Experience
will teach you a lot of this, and you will find that going off script is normal too.  Stuck cases, broken depriming pins, and stripped screws will all happen
to you at some point in time.  Being ready for these situations to happen comes from experience as a loader.  The security you feel from having your ammo
readily available with the stroke of a press is relieving.  Finally, you know you are getting a better hand crafted product for cheaper than something
stuffed together at a factory. 




Brian Eickholtz



The Why of Fly Fishing

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Mention fly fishing and many think of mountain streams and scenic vistas.  Movies like The River Runs Through It perpetuate the imagery. In a series of posts, we are going to explore the art of fly fishing and several things to consider if you'd like to get started in it.

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fly Fishing expert Scott Sickau has been fly fishing for years. 

"I got started in fly fishing 15 years ago when a neighbor was telling me how fun it was to catch panfish on a fly rod. After searching through the attic of my parents' garage, I found an old Eagle Claw fiberglass fly rod and reel. I asked my dad if I could have it. Well, he told me that he didn't have a fly rod that he knew of...and after much persuasion, he told me if I could find, I could have it.

I found out what was needed for fly line and proceeded to teach myself how to cast.  It was an old school method of casting, and I later attended my first state fly fishing convention, picking up some tips. As time went by I learned more about how not to cast. The rest is history.

Fly fishing has been very rewarding for me. I've spent parts of two summers working as a fly fishing guide for Legend Lodge in Illiamna, Alaska. I've had the opportunity to serve in numerous fly fishing and conservation-related organizations, such as the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association, North Bear Trout Unlimited, State Leadership Council Representative for Trout Unlimited, National Leadership Representative for Scott SickauIowa for Trout Unlimited."

But WHY fly fish?

"It is one of the oldest forms of fishing known to man. There have been items found in ancient tombs indicating man wrapped different materials onto hooks to imitate some of the aquatic creatures he saw in the water.

It's a very pure form of fishing. You create flies or patterns, then fish them to see how well a job you have done. Most of the time you are casting to a specific fish that may be located behind a log, rock, or obstruction where it is lying in wait to ambush its prey.

But, most importantly to me, is that I can fly fish in places where you have the serenity of the sounds of nature...and nature only. I've spent much time in places like the Alaskan bush and the Rocky Mountains, where you hear nothing but the peace and quiet of nature in its purest form. Some parks, like Yellowstone, only allow fly fishing because of its non-invasive impact on the environment."

Rod Woten Bear CreekBass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff member Rod Woten is not only a serious ice fisherman, but also a long time fly fisherman. He adds:

"Fly fishing has a rhythm that’s much slower than almost every other type of fishing.  From the cadence of the cast to achieving the perfect dead drift with your fly, it forces you to slow down and work through each step thoroughly and methodically. To those unaccustomed to fly fishing it seems like slow motion, but for those who practice the art, it’s therapy."

In fact, fly fishing is used as therapy for cancer victims and veterans suffering form PTSD through organizations such as Project Healing Waters and Rivers of Recovery

Think you might like to try it?  Every Saturday now through September 2013, you can find out how to fly cast or just learn more in general, on the front lawn of the Bass Pro Shops Altoona location.  Scott will be on the front lawn, weather permitting, demonstrating fly casting, answering questions, and Fly Casting providing hands-on opportunities for anyone interested in finding out more about fly fishing.

Interested in a free private appointment?  Call 515-957-5500 and ask for Scott in the Fly Fishing or e-mail








Opening Doors with the Wheelin' Sportsmen

A young boy recently visited Bass Pro Shops Altoona during the Spring Fishing Classic. Six-year-old Adam is a talkative, intelligent young boy, who wants nothing more than to fish and also hunt a turkey. He also happens to have Spina Bifida and is in a wheelchair.

Because of organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Adam and people of all ages who face physical challenges, can learn about and actively enjoy the outdoors. According to the NWTF, the Wheelin' Sportsmen events around the country "help participants gain a sense of independence by learning to stay active in the outdoors on their own in between Wheelin' Sportsmen Wheelin' Sportsmenevents."

It's not just turkeys, though. Wheelin' Sportsmen hosts events that help men, women, and children enjoying hunting, fishing and shooting.  Events sponsored around the country include:

  • Does for Does - Pairing women with disabilities and women who are experienced guides for a weekend of hunting and educational activities.
  • Ultimate Team-Ups - Pairing people with disabilities and non-disabled people for a weekend of hunting and educational activities.
  • Ultimate Duos - Providing youth with disabilities and their families a chance to experience a variety of outdoor activities.
  • Fishing Round-Ups provide participants with disabilities opportunities to enjoy a day of fishing.
  • Fun & Learn Days - Introducing people with disabilities to a variety of outdoor activities in fun and easy ways.
  • Special Events - These other events provide opportunities for groups of disabled and non-disabled participants to enjoy deep sea fishing, shooting, archery, photography, hunting and more.

The Iowa Wheelin' Sportsmen is hosting its Third Annual Wheelin' Sportsmen Turkey Hunt on April 20 at Saylorville Lake.  Rod Slings, with the local chapter, says it takes about 75-80 volunteers to organize this event. Volunteers and hunters will start with a breakfast and safety meeting around 4 a.m. and top things off with a lunch at 11 a.m. when hunters are back. Slings adds:

"For many of us, this is the most gratifying and satisfying thing we do all year. We will have 12 hunters that have some type of mobility challenge in their lives as this event opens the door to Iowa's Great Outdoors...These are very special hunters that have a great opportunity to share in watching the woods wake up and experience the awesome sounds and displays of the wild turkey. Something that many people never get the chance to see and hear in this adrenaline-pumping event in nature!"

Iowa Wheelin' Sportsmen Event 2012

In April, Bass Pro Shops is collecting donations for the National Wild Turkey Federation, which is our partner in conservation. Your donations can help continue the great conservation and education efforts offered by NWTF, so our friends like Adam can learn there are no limits.

For more information about the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Wheelin' Sportsmen programs in your area, visit


Eyes in the Night

Spring is here... or is it? The full moon phase in March is usually when my buddies and I are loosing lots of sleep chasing those walleyes in the night that are grouping up and getting ready for the spawn. The biggest problem we have is where do we go. The spawn is happening in most bodies of water that have walleyes in them throughout the state and there are lots of lakes and reservoirs to choose from.

This year the late cold spell that seems to not want to go away has kept some waters frozen and unfishable for this time of year and the low water levels have the walleyes doing things that we are not used to like not being in the sure spots and changing their patterns that we have been acustomed to finding them in by now. Not to mention last week's snow storm kept freezing my line and after the three rods I brought were froze up it made for short trips to the reservoirs.

I always say you never know unless you go. I am one of those that just has to know so I make my trips and some are better than others. Same goes for a lot of my buddies that are die hards that chase eyes in the night. We are a different breed I would say, but I love it when the big girls let you pose with them for a photo before you put em back in the water to fufill someone else's dream of holding a double digit walleye.

This year is definately different but for those of you who hear about the walleyes being caught this time of year there is still a great chance that your catch of a lifetime can happen. You must make the effort and stick with it and eventually you will be successful. Make sure you bring a camera.Walleye releasing walleye11# walleyereleasing 11# walleye

What you need to give it a try is simple. Have a couple of medium action rods lined with Bass Pro Shops XPS-8 advanced braid and one with Seaguar InvizX flourocarbon line just in case it gets below the freezing mark. It will allow you to fish a little while longer. Pick out your favorite suspending jerk baits like the BPS Nitro Minnow and the Smithwick Pro Rogue in a few of your favorite colors have some scissors to trim the braid just in case you break off more than you like to, it happens, a lot. Especially standing on the bank in the dark.

Make sure you dress in layers when the sun goes down it can get cold very quickly. Bring some gloves and make sure you have an extra set of batteries for your headlamp to replace the ones that are weak because the switch was jolted to on when you put it away the night before.That never happens.....haha.

Make casts that parallel the bank to keep the lure in the strike zone. Use a twitch, twitch pause cadence and switch off between that and a slow steady retrieve...slow. The walleyes usually hit it on the pause and it is just a slight "tick" that you will feel. Set the hook. On the slow steady retrieve they sometimes just load up on the rod with a firm strike or you feel the "tick'. Set the hook. It takes patience and practice to know what the bite actually feels like and it is different every time we go out it just takes some getting used to but once you catch a few you will know what it is that keeps us all going back night after night.

When you do catch that double digit walleye please remember to practice "CPR" catch, photo, & release. We have a rule within the group of guys I go out with that when we go out we will keep nothing over four pounds if we decide to keep a few legal walleyes to eat. There is nothing wrong with eating a few if you love to eat fish like I do. You can have a fiberglass reproduction done of your trophy to hang on the wall. Have fun chasing the eyes in the night..

                                                      Best of Luck,   Sam Heckman / Pro Staff









No Foolin' - The Crappie Spawn is Here!

Yahoo!  Crappie fishermen it's that time of year for those of us who "live for the thunk"  to gear up and start loading our stringers and freezers!

As the water continues to warm above 52 degrees it sets off the spawning trigger in crappie here in north central Texas lakes ,ponds, rivers, and streams.  Bank fisher folks have relatively easy access to hoards of crappie that seem to 'infest' the shallows of our favorite fishing holes.

Male crappies usually leave the larger schools and deeper waters of Winter for the warmer nesting grounds this time of year.  Nesting areas can be found just about anywhere along shorelines on a body of water that has some kind of cover. The female crappie are usually the larger of the sexes and they will lay up or 'stage' in slightly shallow, yet still deeper water than their male counterparts.


Generally speaking . generally that is, the male crappie will ease up into the shoal water and nose around structure like cattails, button willows, fallen trees, tree roots or docks and man-made brush piles and claim a small territory.  When the crappie enthusiast finds one male crappie, they will usually find more than one or two. The male fish will try to fan out an area to try to entice a female to lay her eggs in his nesting area.  They become extremely territorial and will devour anything that looks like a threat.  Minnows are often the victim of the aggression, so use something that resembles a minnow.

The males are little tattle tales. If you catch one or two of these darkly colored fellas it's a good bet that the larger females are not far away in slightly deeper water. To locate the males, look at a map of the lake or river. Locate where creeks feed into the lake and plan a trip to two or three likely looking sloughs, coves or nooks.  Remember shallow cover is the first to look for.  You might catch a big female up in the very shallow cover, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Trophy female crappies are similar to humans in one aspect.  Humans don't go to the hospital and wait for nine months of gestation, and female crappie don't go to the bed for much longer than it takes to get their eggs laid.  Therefore, they are not on the bed for long. Most of their time is spent 'staging'. Look for the big slab mama's in 5 to 16 feet of water around standing timber, rip rap, stumps, boat docks and bridge pilings near the males.

Some people like to tether a minnow bucket to their belt and wade the area with long Crappie Maxx jigging rods.  Some prefer to use a White River Fly Shop float tube to cover more water on each trip.  Float tubes, obviously, provide a way to reach out deeper than the wade fishers can venture. Some prefer to slip up on crappie in boats, canoes and kayaks, but access to shallow water is the key whichever option you choose.

Bait seems to be 'fisherman's choice'.  Minnows have proven effective over the years, but crappie jigs have a few decided advantages.  The fishers who have jigs in their assortments don't have to wait on the bait shop to open. Jigs are easier to reattach to the line after a break off, you don't have to worry about keeping them alive, plus you can change colors with jigs almost instantly. Come in to Bass Pro shop and choose from our wide selection of jigs and jig heads in various weights and colors.

Fishing jigs under a bobber slowly or without any strike indicator at all can yield amazing results.  If you opt for the jig and bobber approach, fish the rig slowly, and when you think you're retrieving slowly enough, slow down some more.  Fishing jigs with no strike indicator at all is extremely popular.  Just dangle the jig off the bottom near structure while attempting to hold it fairly still.  That's where you just might feel the thunk. That's how the fish gets caught, with you being the one that ends up hooked!

Happy Fishing,

The Thunkmeister


Anxiously Waiting

We have sat around all winter waiting for the weather to break, but have we done the things we needed to so that we are ready for that first big bite of the year? I am a firm believer that time spent preparing is as valuable as time fishing. I have a few things that I like to do every winter to help me get the most out of my time on the water and have less chances of missing time or the fish of a lifetime.

Follow this Check List for Success on the Water:

1.  Check every crank bait in my boxes and do any repair or replacement that may be required. that means cutting off left over knots, taking a file to each and every treble and sometimes changing hooks if needed. I will also (borrow) some of my wife’s fingernail polish or colored sharpies and touch up scuffs and chips to make it look as good as possible. I take this time to also ensure I have my crank baits separated the way I like them so I can spend less time looking for them on the water. Everyone has their own way own of organizing their baits, but I like to group mine by type and depth. Some people separate by color and others by season. Just do it the way that you feel more comfortable and is easiest to remember.

2. I clean and repair my rods and reels. This is a multi day event for me as I have acquired more rods and reels than any one person would ever need. I believe that if you spend a little time each off season cleaning your rods and reels you will get better performance and they will last you much longer. We sell many products for cleaning and lubricating your reels and I am sure they all work great. I use the ardent cleaning system that comes in a kit with everything you need to put your reel back in tip top shape.


It is highly recommend you read the manual for your reel as each may recommend certain things to enhance the performance. Our staff can help you with most questions or you can go to you tube as there are many videos that show how to do basic maintenance on your reels. One key I have found is to not OVER lube or grease your equipment . I will gob up and catch dust and grime and over time reduce the performance of your reel.


Remington Rem Oil is a great product to protect guns but also to shine and protect rods. I spray it directly on my rods and wipe down. This is the same spray that you can use on your rifles so you don’t have to buy multiple products. It not only cleans but leaves a protective teflon coating on your rods to help keep it clean and dust free.Take a Q –tip and run through each guide to see if any of the guides have any cracks or chips that could nick my line and break when hooked up.

3. You may want to label your boxes in your boat storage so you can easily grab the right box. I use a label maker, but you can use a sharpie or tape and get the same results.

4. I like to check my line on each and every reel. I normally go ahead change out each reel after the winter season, so I know that I have the best chance of longer casts and fresh line. When you're fishing for trophy fish or striper fishing, you dont want your line to be the weak link that causes you to loose a fish.

 I use a lot of flouro carbon line and have found that if you use a line treatment like Reel Magic or KVDs line treatment you will see improved results.

reelmagicKVD line lure

I like to spool about half with mono and then tie in my new floro line. This will allow you to save a lot of money over the course of time and reap the same results. Once I start spooling the flouro line I stop about half way and spray it down good with the line treatment. I let that soak in and then fill the rest of the spool. When full I spray the remaining line as well. Take your time and it will soak in to the line and coat and protect the line. I try to do this the night before I am going to use it so it has time to dry. You will be amazed at the difference you see in performance. I do this for both spinning and bait cast reels, but see the most improved performance on spinning reels.

5. I also use the off season to go through my soft plastics. We fisherman are prone to buy baits we will never use, "Dock Talk" has cost me a fortune over the years and I always end up with odd ball colors that I have no confidence in using. I go through these baits and make myself a yard sale or craigslist pile. By cleaning out these baits I am not going to use it allows me to find my other baits quickly as well as have less weight in my boat. Selling your unused baits is relatively simple…remember fisherman buy anything…

6. I also use this time to check my inventory to see what I REALLY need in the way of baits, terminal tackle, line ect. This way I can make a list and get what I need on my trip to the Bass Pro Shop.

These are just some of the ways I get myself ready for the spring season. I have also started making my own weights and jigs , but that is another day and another blog.

At Bass Pro Shop our goal is to help get you ready for whatever outdoor challenge you face. Log on and check out your local Outdoor Skills Workshops, these targeted classes can get you ready for your next adventure.  I hope that you will give our staff the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise so that you have the adventure of a lifetime.

Until next time, God Bless you and yours

See you on the water

Eric Winter

General Manager

Concord Bass Pro Shop


Kayak Fishing with Alex, Daddy/Daughter Day

What is it about going fishing that causes lost sleep? Wednesday night, I mean Thursday morning, was the perfect example. It is Spring Break for most of Texas and what better way to usher in a new season than by going fishing with your eldest child? It was Daddy/Daughter Day, going fishing as we have done since she was three years old. Rather than hitching up the boat or heading for the pier, this trip, was to be a little different. Our newest Pro Staff member at Bass Pro Shops, Pearland, George Young of Texas Coastal Kayaks, invited Alexandra and me to spend a morning paddling a kayak.

I’ll have to admit a sense of elation when she thought the trip was a great idea. After all, children have different interests as they mature and we have gone from the days of the Snoopy fishing rod to cheerleading, to driving and to ‘gulp’ college visiting - as if there weren’t enough reasons in that sentence to lose sleep, so her immediate “that would be really cool” meant a lot. After spending a fitful few hours tossing and turning while endless questions ran through my head “packed both reels, rods are by the door, new pliers ARE in the dry bag, right? Waders are in the truck, it is March, we only have one pair, she can wear them, how cold can the water be, toilet paper… toilet paper… oops, don’t forget that” we were headed for coffee and breakfast.

We met George before sunrise and headed off to Christmas Bay. I personally have not used a kayak in a few years and have never fished from one, but my daughter’s summer camp has several. George was careful to cover safety and how to maneuver, especially with the added encumbrance of fishing gear. Perhaps the most important lesson was how to board. I paid careful attention. You know that five minutes after an unplanned exit, there would be a video on YouTube entitled “Look at Dad Upside Down in the Bay, or What We Did on Spring Break.” Within 15 uneventful minutes though, we were paddling, rather than motoring towards one of our favorite fishing locations.

Remember the earlier comment about dry bags and the sleepless nighttime question of ‘how cold can the water be’? No matter how careful you are, kayaking is a wet sport. It’s Spring, it’s March, it’s a little chilly. Warm, dry towels and clothing at the end of the day are wonderful things to find. To ensure their availability, we used the Ascend Light-weight 10 Liter Dry Bags. They weigh almost nothing and are perfect for backpacking too. I trusted them enough to include a small pair of Zeiss binoculars for bird watching, which if you understand my phobia about nice things being immersed in saltwater, you would recognize as a high degree of confidence in the dry bag.

For fishing equipment, we took the Johnny Morris Carbonlite series rods, a matched set of 7’2” medium-action spinning rods, with Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler, Inshore Extreme spinning reels. Mine has served faithfully for the past two years. I liked it so much that last summer, I purchased a second one. Being ever so gallant, I handed Alexandra the brand new, never been near the water combo, certain that she would find it comfortable and easy to use.

Over the past few summers, the advantages to using braided fishing lines has become apparent so both reels are loaded with 50 pound test Bass Pro Shops branded XPS 8 Advance Braided line. While it is true that the reel would hold more if a lower test line was used – the 50 lb braid has the size equivalency of 12 pound test monofilament, it’s just easier for some of us in our advancing decrepitude to tie knots using slightly larger line with wet fingers and no reading glasses. The water of Christmas Bay is usually a little murky, but to be safe, we added some fairly stout leaders using Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon.

We also brought a new product that I have wanted to test since they were first introduced, the Bass Pro Shops XPS 7” Aluminum Pliers. They have an excellent balance and feel. Lightweight, made of machined aluminum, they have a set of replaceable tungsten carbide clippers which were perfect for trimming braided line and will not corrode, always a positive feature for tools that will be used in saltwater. In addition to the 7” pliers, there is a ‘Mini’ set which has a split ring tip, and a larger pistol-grip pair for releasing fish from a distance. Given my proclivity for catching hardhead catfish, the latter is on the Father’s Day Present List. The 7” pliers were easy to use, gripped small items securely and made it possible to open and close swivels with ease. I cannot recommend them more highly, but I’d also invest a few dollars in a retractable lanyard rather than the extra piece of braided line I used to attach them to the lifejacket.

All in all, we had a fantastic time. George Young could not have been any more patient and instructive. Every piece of fishing equipment functioned exactly as expected. The only real equipment problem occurred at the end when I suddenly found that I no longer owned a matched set of Carbonlite rods and Offshore Angler reels. Apparently I own one and my daughter who caught not only her first speckled trout, but also her first flounder and first redfish (her first Texas Slam!), owns the other. How did I do you ask? It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll just let the last photo of the day do my bragging.

To reach George Young of Texas Coastal Kayak, call 713 501 0636, and check out their website at

For more information about the products listed in this article, view them online at BassPro.Com.