Friday, February 27, 2009

Local Outdoor Expo

With the long work week about to faid off into the horizon it is time to look for some exciting weekend plans. Whether you are looking for something to do for yourself, wanting to get the kids out of the house, or just going out with the guys, the Florida State Fairgrounds is hosting quite an event. Starting today, Friday Feb. 29th, and running through Sunday, the Florida State Fairgrounds will be hosting the Tampa Tribune Outdoor Expo and Boat Show. This event is coined Florida's largest outdoor expo of the year. This year marks the 17th year of the expo and it is expected to be one of the best years for the event. The event is hosted by longtime Florida Sportsman editor and Tampa Tribune outdoors editor Frank Sargeant.

The event is also known as the "Frank Sargeant Show", being that he is the host of the event. The Expo has 140,000 sq. feet of space that will be transformed into an outdoorsman's dream. The Expo will have over 150 vendors which will be showing/selling anything from outdoors sportswear, up and coming clothes lines, outdoor gear, fishing gear, hunting gear, outdoor paintings, cooking equipment, and anything else outdoors you could imagine. Along with these vendors will be many boat reps. from local marinas showing off their new 2009 line of boats.

Besides the boats and vendors the Outdoor Expo also reaches out to the family. The Fairgrounds has many small ponds and they use these ponds as a fishing derby for the youngsters. Last year a 5lb bass and 8 lb catfish were caught during these fishing derbys. Along with fishing derbys there will also be many professional fisherman there giving seminars loaded with helpful hints.

With a vast aray of things to do, the Outdoor Expo is the place to be this weekend. Whether you are an avid outdoors man or just someone looking to get out of the house this weekend, this is the place to be. Gates opened today,Friday the 29th, at 1 pm. and entrance is free today. Saturday's hours are from 10 am to 7 pm with an $8 entrance fee and Sunday's hours are 11 am to 5 pm with an $8 entrance fee. Children 12 and under are free every day of the event. So if you have any free time stop by the Florida State Fairgrounds and enjoy a fun day of outdoor entertainment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We Have a Winner

As Sunday evening drew to a conclusion, so did the Superbowl of bass fishing. With all the fish caught and the way ins finally over there was nothing left to do Sunday night, but crown Skeet Reese the 2009 Bass Master Classic Tournament Champion. This is the biggest accomplishment of his young fishing career and it is certain to send his career into another level.

The Classic was held on the Red River, a river in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and was a three day fishing event. The classic allows each angler to catch an unlimited amount of bass, but only keep the 5 largest. After each day the five fish the angler catches will be weighed and judging by the weights anglers will be ranked. Keep in mind that all of these fish are kept alive during this process, thus preserving the lives of the fish caught during the classic. After the first two days the field is cut from 51 anglers to 25. During these three days Skeet Reese led nearly the whole way. Winning this Classic gave Skeet a hefty $500,000 check, and many sponsorships are sure to follow.

Another notable finish in the Classic is "bass fishing's personality", Mike Iaconelli. Mike is well renowned around fishing for his crazy personality. He is known for break dancing in his boat after catching big fish, screaming at the top of his lungs for no reason at all, and just being an all around prankster. The New Jersey born fisherman finished second in the classic falling short of Reese by a pound and some change.

By beating out Iaconelli and 49 other anglers, Reese cemented himself into the historic name of anglers to win a Classic. You have to tip your hat to him for the kind of week he put up on the water. It was an eventful and intense classic. Congratulations Skeet Reese!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anyone Interested?

Tonight is the night, it is the World Series of fishing, it is the Bass Master Classic. This is by far the biggest tournament of the year, winning this event will send anglers into levels of stardom they could only imagine. This four day event comes to a conclusion tonight, and the final way ins will be on ESPN 2 at 10 p.m.

Just thought I would let you know so now you could watch some professional fishing and get a taste of the sporting part of fishing.

A Scare and A Success

If you read any of my last post you will recall my "jaws" like alligator story. It was quite an adventure and definitely a story for the grandchildren one day. I took that near death experience and turned it into an educational blog so people could learn from my stupidity. Despite all the alligator madness, the trip was quite a success, but I failed to blog about that. We enjoyed a wonderful day of fishing and escaped a near alligator attack, you can't beat that.

With the colder weather about to part our great state for the year, bass fisherman prepare for an exciting time of fishing. Many knowledgeable fisherman proclaim that this is the best time of the year to fish for those big bass. The bass are going through their spawn during this time and this causes the larger female bass to push up towards shore. With these bass in shallow water it makes it particularly easy to see them and cast at them. However, you must be aware that if you can see the fish, more than likely they can see you. Therefore, you must be as stealthy as possible in your approach, and that big one will be all yours.

We began fishing assuming that the bass were in the spawn, and therefore on their beds. Figuring this, we positioned our boat around 15 yards from the bank, and I threw my favorite lure the tequila sunrise worm. We putted around the shoreline for around 3 hours. We had minimal luck. I caught 4 bass, none of any size, and my buddy caught 2. Although we were catching fish and having a good time, we were not satisfied.

While trolling along the bank, we noticed something particularly unusual. In this lake there seemed to be many sandbars in the middle of the lake. It is rather common to find sandbars in the saltwater, but in freshwater it is a rarity to find such things. We pulled up onto a sandbar and looked down, what we saw was unbelievable. Right on the edge of the sandbar the water just dropped off, like the bottom fell out. It is a fisherman's dream to find such a drop off. It is always a blessing to find a drop off, because the water temperature will vary at the drop off, bait will be swimming in the shallow water, and the bigger fish can hide in the deep water and ambush this bait. For all these reasons, drop offs are hot spots for fish.

We tied on a pair of rapala crank baits and backed away from the sandbars. We casted our lure on top of the sandbar and then reeled it into the deeper water. It didn't take long for our first hook up. I hooked into a nice bass. After a struggle I got the 7lb 2 oz. bass to the boat. We caught a few other bass using the same technique. These fish varied in size from 3 to 4 lbs. but fishing the sandbars was quite a success.

This is the time of year to get out and catch big bass. Your number of fish caught my go down a little bit, but the size will definitely go up. Be open minded and ready to change your game plan, because during this time of year the bass can be rather picky. But just keep in mind the big one is only one bite away!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Don't Feed the Alligators!!!!!!!

It's your first trip to the zoo with the whole family, you pack up the mini van and head off for a fun day. Without a doubt one of the most exciting things at the zoo is the alligator feeding times. Watching a goofy looking trainer sling bloody pieces of meat the size of small children towards a crowd of hungry alligators is always an excitement to watch. There is just something about watching the strong jaws of the gators rip apart their food like it is a sheet of paper. Take away the steel fence, the trainer, and the meat the alligators are receiving, leaving just you and the gator. Sound fun now?

If you have been around any body of water in the great state of Florida, more than like you have seen an alligator. These large predators can easily get up to 14 feet in length and over 1000 lbs. Despite their large size, these animals can find the smallest bit of water and make it home. So no matter where you live in Florida, chances are you are going to have to learn to live with the alligators.

Living with these creatures can be easier than you would think, as long as you keep your distance. The idea of staying out of the way of gators is easy for most people, but not such an easy task for the freshwater fisherman. Whether walking the bank, using a small canoe or Jon boat, or trolling around with an expensive bass boat the Florida freshwater fisherman has to be aware of the alligator. Being an avid freshwater fisherman I too must be aware of the dangers of alligators, but just this week I tested my luck and definitely learned my lesson.

With nothing to do Monday morning, a buddy and I headed out for a day of fishing. Like our previous trips we loaded our small Jon boat in the truck and headed off. It was a beautiful day and we couldn't have asked for better conditions. We trolled through the lake and it didn't take long before we spotted our first gator. He was around 5 ft long and was slowing cruising through the lake like he owned it. We paid him no attention and continued on casting our lures into the water.

As the day drug on we still spotted that same gator many times. We were both rather unfamiliar with the lake so we assumed that this might be the only gator in the lake. We continued to work the lake over for fish and this trolling method led us into a horseshoe shaped bend in the lake. Upon the outer edge of the horseshoe we spotted two small alligators. These two baby gators were between 1 and 1.5 ft.

We talked it over and thought it would be fun after fishing the horseshoe to come back and see if we could touch one of the small gators. We hadn't trolled on for more than 25 feet before we saw it: on the bank was at least a 10ft alligator just sitting there! We assumed it must have been the mother of the two smaller gators we had once thought of trying to touch. We were a mere 15 ft from the shore of this massive mother gator.

We were going to keep putting along until I noticed something. A huge bass was right in front of this gator on the shore line. Much to my buddies dismay, I told him I was going to cast at the bass, even though it was right on the shore line, probably a foot or two away from the sunbathing gator. I cocked my pole back and slung out my best effort of a cast, but did I ever miss the mark. My fishing worm got caught in a tree right next to the gator. Being the idiot I am, I kind of chuckled and said would you look at that.

I gave a few stealthy tugs to try and get my bait from the tree, but no such luck. I then yanked back, upon my yank bank the whole tree shook. This jolted the gator from the bank, a splash of nearly 5f t erupted, and awake like the one from the movie jaws was heading straight at our boat. I froze and my bud dypressed down on the trolling motor to reverse us. The gator was on us in no time at all and swim right under the boat. We both nearly peed our pants during this 10 second ordeal.

There is nothing scarier than having a 10ft alligator charge at you from the shoreline when you are in a 10ft boat. My buddy proceeded to call me a jackass the rest of the day, and asked what I was thinking. I told him I figured if anything the alligator would have retreated to the shoreline, he than said "those things have been around since the dinosaurs, you think your 7.5 inch plastic worm is gonna scare them?"

The moral of the story is to stay clear of the alligators. Whether you are an avid fisherman or just someone who lives near the water, remember when you are on the water you are on their territory. Stick clear and play by their rules!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Specs again!

When I woke up this morning I wasn't slipping and sliding across my yard trying to get to my truck, I wasn't praying my heat would come on, and I wasn't hoping that my fingers wouldn't lose feeling, but I was burning up, turning my air to max a/c, and thinking about how dang hot it has gotten so quick. Although alot of things have changed since that post one thing remains the same: It is a post about me going out and catching alot of specs. With my girlfriend occupied Friday night I did'nt hesitate to take advantage of the free fishing time! I called up my buddy and we hit up the same exact spec hole we had been to in my previous post.

Okay! So say whatever you want. I know my earlier post said: The Colder the Better, talking about going out and catching specs. Well maybe, just maybe, that post wasn't entirely true. I went out this Friday evening, fishing the same exact way, to be precise everything was exactly the same. Everything that is, except the weather. The air temperature was at least an easy 35 degree warmer. Much like last time we rolled through the lake and just tore the fish up. Which got me thinking was the fishing really better in the cold? I tried to gain some more information on spec fishing and i visited this site: I came to the realization that maybe colder wasn't better.

The last time I went spec fishing it was cold. The last time I hooked a minnow through the eye, it was cold. The last time i waited to catch the allusive spec, it was cold. The last time I caught a spec, it was cold. When i went out this Friday, and absolutely tore the specs up, it was hot!

So I know what your thinking. The author of this blog is just like every other nut that goes fishing: a habitual liar who finds telling the truth about a fishing adventure to be a near death experience. That's not me, I honestly thought: colder was better! But if you do believe that all fisherman are liars you are not alone. In the book, "Till Fish Do Us Part", Beatrice cook makes a comical, but yet harsh comparison of fisherman, all the while exposing their need to lie:

All fishermen are liars; it's an occupational disease with them like housemaid's knee or editor's ulcer

Bill Dance Blooper

A blog I often follow is written by the professional bass fisherman Bill Dance. Bill Dance started his career bouncing from lake to lake every weekend doing a variety of fishing tournaments. He began to become a big figure in the fishing world with his non-stop winning on the tournament waters. The only thing that was bigger than his list of wins was his personality. Between a lengthy resume of fishing experience and an outgoing personality it was only a matter of time before this fisherman went big time.

He became more than just a professional angler when he was given his own show: Bill Dance Outdoors. It aired on the early weekend mornings and believe me there weren't too many of those episodes I missed. Bill is most famously known for his Tennessee ball cap. He has never filmed a show without wearing this cap! In recent months, I have been following his blog and I find it quite enjoyable. If you would like to view his site or read his blog just click on the link provided:

If fishing is not your interest, or you are not interested in reading a blog by Bill Dance, hold on one second. Upon browsing YouTube today, I found something that made me laugh historically. You don't have to be a fan of fishing to enjoy this blooper video, and it is provided by none other than Bill Dance. So if your in for a good laugh visit:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lost at Sea

Call it fate, destiny, or just plain bad luck, but no matter how hard you plan things, sometimes they just never work out quite right. The same is true with a well planned out fishing trip. You can have every tiny detail planned out, but when you hit those unpredictable waters it can all go into disarray. This post is in response to my last post labeled "Getting Ready". As you will see, even though I had the "getting ready" part down pat, the trip still did not go anywhere near planned!

As you recall, I had made all the food, gotten all the poles ready, checked the boat, and was merely just waiting on my buddies to arrive to start a "wonderful" day of fishing. My friends finally arrived and off we went. The trip was still rolling along smoothly as we pulled into the boat ramp. We launched the boat and excitement ran through us as we were preparing for the long ride to the snapper hole.

I flipped in a new cd I had burned, and we cranked up the volume on the boat and began cruising out to the coordinates for the snapper hole. I estimated the ride to be around 29 miles and with the way the water was rolling I figured the trip to be about a 30 to 35 minute ride. After riding for more than an hour I realized that my calculations where way off.

I fiddled around with my gps to come to the realization that we were 42 miles off shore, and still 2 miles away from our destination. I bit the bullet and pushed the throttle down to get us to our new 44 miles out fishing hole. As we began to approach the coordinates on the gps, my worst fears came to life: I looked on the horizon and saw five boats not too far away. Sure enough, 44 miles offshore and in the same exact dang spot that I wanted to fish were five other boats. With all the water to fish, what are the odds of that?

I consulted with my friends on what to do, and we decided it best to just simply turn around and head back in to some familiar spots we had. Not only did we burn alot of unnecessary fuel, but we were all extremely upset at the fact that we couldn't fish these new spots. We toiled around the waters most of the day without much luck. We tried to stay optimistic and keep in mind that this day of fishing beat a day of school or work. I became extremely pessimistic, and then one of my buddies quoted his favorite fishing quote by Chuck Clark, a fishing writer:
Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.

This quote by Chuck Clark pretty much summed up our trip. It was not the extravagant trip we had imagined. We did not pull up to shore with blisters on our hands from reeling in so many fish, but none the less it was a good time on the water. So when you say you have a bad fishing trip do you mean that: you went out and spent all day in the blazing hot sun and left red as a lobster, all the while not catching a single thing, or do you mean that you got to spend all day on the water without a worry in the world, all the while escaping the horrible confines of work or school. So looking back, although I say it was a bad day of fishing, it was still a good day in general.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Getting Ready!!!

I woke up this morning to the horrid noise of my screeching alarm. I swung blindly a few times to try and shut it off as quickly as possible. Before I could even began to wake up I felt the coldness that filled my room sink in. I grabbed my covers and pulled them close to my face, and closed my eyes as if to say " who cares about getting up early it's too cold, and I have no school or work today". Suddenly, it hit me! I'm going fishing today, that's why I had an alarm set.

With no work, no school, and no worries in my life today, I decided to invite a few buddies of mine to go on an offshore "adventure" with me. Much to my surprise, all three of my buddies are going to be able to make the trip. With the weather in the low 30s this morning I decided to hold off on getting out to the water early. I guess I am going against the whole cliche: the early bird gets the worm. In my eyes I see it as: the most skilled bird gets the worm. That is at least what I am hoping for today.

Even though I didn't wake up at the crack up dawn, there was still much work to be done this morning in preparation for our trip. When going offshore fishing it is IMPERATIVE that you have everything ready before you even leave the house. I woke up and began using my "Martha Stewart" skills in the kitchen by making an array of sandwiches. With an appetite like mine, food is a necessity on an all day trip. I then filled a cooler loaded down with a variety of drinks. It's key to not only have an abundance of snacks and food, but also a healthy choice of drinks to choice from.

After finishing all the "culinary duties" necessary for our trip, I headed to the garage to take care of some technical issues. I grabbed 9 of my best poles and went to work on them. It is important every time before you go out fishing to check your line, and even possibly replace it each trip. I relined a few poles, tied a few new hooks, added some weight to a few, added some oil to a few (adding oil to your reel makes the reeling much smoother), and did a few other minor fixes to the poles. When going out fishing it is always best to rig your poles up before you hit the water. By doing this you get to spend more time trying to catch your fish.

The last thing I did, and also the most important thing I did was check the boat. I checked to make sure the running lights were working. If these lights are not working you run a risk of getting a ticket from Hillsborough county's finest. I also checked to make sure I had 4 life vest and a throw cushion. One life vest per person and one through cushion is required by Florida Wildlife. I also checked to see how much gas I had, and to make sure I had the boat registration. With the boat in order, my poles ready, and food in the fridge my preparation is complete! Now all I am doing is waiting for my slow friends to arrive so we can leave!

We are targeting red snapper today on our trip. These fish can get quite large, and put up a massive fight. I am rather excited, and pretty confident that we will "tear" them up today! We are planning to head approximately 29 miles off shore. The spot we are planning to fish was given to me by a family friend, and he swears that it is loaded with fish. I personally have never tried out this location, but today is the day. Wish me luck, and I will be sure to write back tomorrow on how it went.