Monthly Archives: March 2014


Every angler dreams of catching that fish of a lifetime. Sometimes it’s a Captain Ahab kind of quest, mano-a-mano (or fin), fueled by close encounters with one particular fish in your given fishery.  ore often than not, though, it’s simply by accident.

In this article from the Detroit Free Press, fisherman Dale Blakely was out for his second time hard-water fishing (ice fishing) and converted one of those surprise opportunities to land his fish of a lifetime.

michcatfishDale Blakley’s second ice-fishing trip was one for the record books.

On Sunday, the Niles man caught a 52-pound flathead catfish on Barron Lake in Cass County. It beat the previous state record for the largest fish of that species by more than 2 pounds and gave Blakley a lifetime of bragging rights.

“It’s incredible. I’m overwhelmed right now,” the 45-year-old construction worker said today. “It was a great experience.”

Blakley and three friends were searching for bluegill and crappie when he dropped a glow-in-the-dark crappie jig hook with a wax worm through a hole in the ice.

“It wasn’t down there 45 seconds after I had done that when the fish hit,” he said.

Photos: Detroit Free Press


Who are the nation’s largest contributors to wildlife conservation? You know it — hunters and shooters. See this infographic for some impressive stats.

How Wildlife is Thriving Because of Guns & Hunting


Photos: National Geographic Expeditions (top); National Shooting Source Foundation (infographic)

Most hunters feel good about having one or two gobblers scouted before opening day, yet Keith Jennings had 30 or more. Hunting in upstate New York, I joined him on one of his morning runs, during which he’d drive back roads an hour before dawn, often stopping and giving a raspy crow call. By the time the sun rose, we had so many birds located we barely knew where to begin.

Scouting toms on the limb is helpful, yet it’s also important to know what happens after fly-down. This video from GrowingDeer.TV explains that in detail. Thanks to today’s technology, you can have a better chance of knowing where and when to set up for those elusive toms, even if they become silent. Check out the full video.


It’s hard enough managing a trolling spread behind a boat without tangling lines. You need to vary the placement of each line. It also helps to use different lures that track at different depths. Inevitably, on the open party boats that I ride on here in Southern California, you get some yahoo who isn’t looking at the spread in its entirety. They put on their lucky lure and place it where they think it’s going to get bit, and it stops the boat… not because it got bit, but because it’s gotten tangled up with another line.

Trolling lures behind a kayak present their own set of problems. Here’s how some of the top kayak anglers manage it.

diving-lure43The lures are dragging through the water, pulsing with each paddle stroke. Out of the corner of your eye, you see the rod tip dip and the rod shakes in the rodholder. Stop paddling and start reeling. Fish on!

Slowly trolling lures or baits can be a quick way to locate fish and identify what they are eating. But pulling several lines and paddling the kayak at the same time can quickly turn into a big mess without some careful planning.

Texas kayak angler Ty Southerland trolls around offshore oil rigs for king mackerel, cobia, tarpon and even sharks. He fishes two rods, dragging a strip of ribbonfish with one and pulling a Rat-L-Trap on the other. “The ribbonfish strip swims across the surface while the Rat-L-Trap dives down 10 feet.” Southerland adds that his kayak moves slowly and quietly, giving him an advantage over noisy boats.

His trolling setup is a stout, seven-and-a-half-foot All Pro bass rod, and Abu Garcia Ambassador 6000 reel spooled with 30-pound braid. Southerland says this combo is perfect because it’s light enough to cast lures and heavy enough to take a big hit on the troll. “I can’t take too many rods with me,” he explains, “so I have to get double duty out of one outfit.”

Photos: Kayak Angler (top), Sport Fishing (above)


A Ras Safaris bowhunting excursion in South Africa becomes even more memorable with this amazing lion encounter. While it’s not the easiest thing to take down large beasts with one arrow, it’s even more challenging when facing the king of the jungle. Yet these sportsmen manage the incredible feat. Watch and be amazed.

Photo: Limcroma Safaris


An African hunting safari turns deadly when a lion stalks the hunters and then charges the group. Caught on video, you’ll see the lion get incredibly close to the hunters as they shoot at their target. Take a look at the amazing imagery and share your thoughts below. It looks like these guys are shooting pretty wildly at one point, possibly presenting as much of a threat to each other as the lion.

Photo: ABC News


A hunter straps on a video camera and heads out into the woods. While there, he’s attacked twice by a wild boar that rushes up and charges him. The hunter is armed but at first does not fight back. Then he decides that enough is enough and takes matters into his own hands. Watch the video to see how things turn out, and let us know how you would have handled the same situation.

Photo: NPR

Call them puma, cougar, or mountain lion, the result is the same: one huge predatory animal that’s mostly nocturnal and very difficult to hunt. Some would say nearly impossible without dogs. Chasing cougars can be feast or famine since the big cats often travel extensively and are equipped with large paws to handle deep snow better than many of its prey species. Weather plays a huge factor in its ability to survive. Too little snow and the dogs don’t trail well; too much and getting to cat country becomes impossible. Jerry Neal does a great job of capturing bowhunter Mindy Paulek’s story in this excellent article about her quest for a huge cat, which includes numerous photographs on the Colorado Outdoors Online website. Thrill to the chase:

Calling mountain lions “elusive” is a radical understatement. It’s as if the ultra-secretive cats are equipped with cloaking devices that allow them to remain nearly invisible in their surroundings, angry-cat-two[1]while leaving behind only vague clues of their presence. In fact, relatively few people will ever catch a glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild, and most are perfectly happy to keep it that way. But, for bowhunter Mindy Paulek, seeing mountain lions became an almost routine experience. However, finding and harvesting the “right” mountain lion turned into a monumental challenge for the archer — one spanning three years and hundreds of miles in Colorado’s back-country.  Fortunately, challenges are nothing new for Paulek. The 30-year-old Durango resident has amassed an impressive hunting resume, harvesting bears, deer, elk, wild hogs and bobcats – all with her Mathews compound bow. She’s also bagged kudu, bushbuck, springbok, wildebeest and jackals on African safaris. But three years ago, Paulek set her sights closer to home on the one animal that had eluded her: a tom cougar.

“I think this was probably the most time-consuming and intense hunt I’ve ever been on,” explained Paulek.


Montana Decoy revolutionized the decoying market with their ultra portable, ultra realistic, 2-D models. The company began with elk but soon learned that other animals like antelope, deer, and now turkeys can be duped with true-t0-life graphics. At first, a two-dimensional model may seem inferior to a 3-D decoy, but the trick is to deploy them in pairs and at right angles. This arrangement assures that a gobbler will get a broadside view from any direction. If the bird approaches directly, the hunter gets a turkey dinner. However, if the tom circles, as they often do, the second birds suddenly “appears,” providing an illusion of motion. These decoys fold so compactly that you can carry them in your vest and can be deployed in seconds. Get the full story from the manufacturer.


I see it all the time on the boats. An angler gets bit and here comes the big swing, and… it’s usually a miss. At which point someone in the peanut gallery chimes in, “Nice swing, [insert TV bass fisherman name here]!” Things are a little different out on the ocean. Most of the species we fish for don’t nibble. Either they bite or they don’t. The big swing typically only yanks the hook out of your prey’s mouth. If they’re already stuck, you open a hole where the hook is set, to make it easier for the fish to shake your hook during the fight.

When fishing circle hooks, I always just tell people to wind it tight to set the hook. However, some captains and guides are starting to recommend this practice for fishing J hooks as well.

circle hook
circle hook

If you’ve ever had a hook come flying back toward the boat when an angler reacts to a fish’s strike, you know how strong the urge is to set the hook. Though it’s not widely known, there’s a reason many captains insist that anglers reel tight — instead of yanking hard — when live-bait fishing with circle or J hooks. Let me explain why.

In most scenarios, reeling tight to a fish ­generates a stronger hook-set than a full-muscled yank. A steady retrieve often leads the hook to the corner of the mouth — more secure and more harmless than gut hooking. Still, don’t allow the fish too much time with the bait to prevent swallowing. Even if a fish misses the presentation initially, second-chance opportunities favor the patient angler. Plus, today’s hooks are incredibly sharp right out of the package.

Photos: Sport Fishing (top), Matzuo (above)