An Outdoor State of Mind

We’ve all heard the saying “get your mind right” at some point in our lives. Lately, I’ve been devoting every waking hour to the hustle and bustle of work and also trying to be the best husband and father to my two young children that I can. Every day seems like a non-stop whirlwind of tasks and rushing to meet deadlines.

I finally had a few hours this past weekend to slip into the woods and do some hunting. It wasn’t until I got in the treestand that I realized just how badly I needed to take some time to really slow down and enjoy the little things that I had been in too much of a hurry to notice.

Sometimes we forget that just being in the great outdoors can be the best therapy we can get. I sat and watched squirrels chase each other, spiraling up and down a large oak tree. I noticed the many different hues of the leaves as they rustled with the wind and the sunlight glistening off a spiderweb near the trail where I had walked in.

I thought about what it must have been like for hunters hundreds of years ago before the world seemed to move at 100 miles per hour every day and night.

I recently read an article about Cherokee hunting traditions and how they approached hunting. To the Cherokee, hunting was a serious matter that was vital to their survival. While most of us today get so caught up in chasing trophy animals, we sometimes forget that our true purpose in the outdoors is connected to an instinctual need to harvest animals in order to survive and feed our families.

Historians say that most Cherokee hunters would abstain from intimate relations with their wives for four days prior to embarking on a hunting trip. They did this in an effort to purify themselves and to please the spirits.

Cherokee hunters worshipped two “gods” with one representing the sun and fire and the other being the river or water god. Hunters would go through a specific ritual process during the four days before the hunt which consisted of dipping in water at sundown while singing an ancient chant and other rituals that involved fire and prayers.

During the hunt, it is said that the Cherokee hunters would pray to the wind, rivers, and mountains for success. After killing an animal, the hunters would ask for the gods’ forgiveness for taking the animal’s life while also giving thanks for a successful harvest.

I found the practice of Cherokee hunters to be especially interesting and it helped me realize that sometimes we don’t take hunting seriously enough. After reading this article about Cherokee hunting traditions, I resolved to put part of this mindset into practice and focus more on immersing myself into the hunt.

I put my phone settings to “silent” and tucked it away in my bag so I could sit and take in all that nature had to offer. I found that hunting is as much of a spiritual experience as it is a physical effort to obtain meat for one’s own wellbeing.

There is a sense of peace that comes from silently observing nature and all it has to offer. It has a mysterious healing power for our souls that is somewhat tough to describe to those who spend little time outdoors.

There have been many times that I’ve spent hours in a treestand with my focus on my phone’s screen instead of the world around me. I wonder how much of a more skilled outdoorsman I would be if I put my phone away and immersed myself in the outdoors.

If you’ve read this far, you probably can relate to what I’m talking about. I challenge you to find out just how much you can immerse yourself in nature the next time you go afield for a hunt. You may find that a good hunting trip doesn’t always have to end with a kill.

Fred Bear, a famous bowhunter, once said:

“Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”

I didn’t see any deer that day, but the trip was a success in my opinion because it had brought me back down to Earth and reminded me that sometimes, the best state of mind is an outdoor state of mind.

Giant Sturgeon of British Columbia

Northwest of the United States is an outdoorsman’s paradise filled with trails, streams, mountains, waterfalls and other awe-inspiring natural wonders. Eagles fly overhead in the blue sky, and foxes forage the rocky river banks for sustenance. British Columbia is a breathtaking sight to behold, and a late summer trip is a great idea to explore the Canadian providence.

In August 2015, I decided to trek to our northern neighbors and try my luck at fishing for River Sturgeon on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. So, I booked with a first class operation called Cascade Fishing Adventures, and I flew into the busy metropolis of Vancouver. As I drove my rental car through the treacherous traffic of the metropolis, the Trans-Canada highway eventually opened up to rolling green mountains.

Eventually, after two hours on the road, I made my way to Chilliwack and checked into the Coast Hotel. With a rumble in my stomach, I grabbed some poutine and few Canadian beers. The french fries with brown gravy and cheesed curds topped with braised beef was culinary delight. Also, the air was cleaner in the countryside of Canada and the temperature slightly milder than the humidity of Georgia that I am accustomed too. With my meal consumed, I decide to go to sleep immediately because tomorrow, the river awaited me.

I awoke in the early morning to a rainy day with wind. Luckily, I packed my rain gear and the charter came with waders on the boat. My Captain, Clayton Jones, was waiting for me in the hotel parking lot with hit aluminum jet boat with a 300hp inboard V8 engine. It was a site to behold, the boat and the captain with his long beard.

We loaded up after our introductory pleasantries and headed to the boat ramp that was backdropped by some beautiful mountain ranges. As we kicked off the morning, the water was choppy like a rough Pacific Ocean in a storm. Clayton told me that the game plan was to go fishing for bait. We rigged some ultra light spinning rods with some worms and caught plenty of the silvery bullet-shaped baitfish. They were called Pacific herring and are a delicacy to river sturgeons on the Fraser River.

Our next stop was up river near an underwater brushy structure. The water churned roughly as I casted out my hand built glass rod with braided line. A fish was hooked after the first cast, and my heart pumped with adrenaline. Yet, the fight was short lived because the sturgeon was a smaller three foot one. The little guy was unique almost prehistoric with it spines. After a few more casts, we moved on upriver to a new spot. There were no bites, and the weather become nastier as the river water splashed over the stern. My breath was showing in the colder air, the cold rain sting like icy bees on my skin, and the aluminum boat fought against the chop of the unforgiving Frasier River. Would my chance at a larger river sturgeon run out?

The weather broke before I did, and we stopped for lunch. The deli sandwich with fruit juice was a nice treat after the sky punished me with its miserable cold rain. An eagle soared quietly overhead as I took a bite of my ham and cheese sub. I thought to myself this is true tranquility.

My stomach full of lunch and my resolve strengthen, we decided to hit one more hole with Clayton’s special weapon. Clayton rigged his “ sturgeon cocktail”, and it comprised of a dead rotting lamprey tied with several worms to a barbless hook.  But before I even could cast, a red fox cautiously approached the bank looking for food or water. The elegance of the creature was very hypnotic, almost therapeutic as it swiftly moved through the rocky bank searching for nourishment. After that moment of reflection, I casted my bait to the targeted area in the river. The rod begin to bounce slightly as the fish darted around.

Sturgeons are bottom feeders and love to nibble on their food. It took a few minutes but the rod’s line begin to tighten and the fish was on. I set the hook and the fight was a go. The fish went down to the brush immediately. With the the heavier gear and some elbow grease, I pulled the stubborn fish from the brush. The fight continued for several minutes and my back grew weary. Would the fish give up, or would I?

Eventually, the fish broke the surface of the mighty river. It was grey with white spines and long in length like a huge log. It was a nice 6 foot Fraser River Sturgeon. We slowly made our way to a stoney island sandbar for a quick photo and release. The smooth river stones supported me as I made way to the fish. The mountain ranges, the rolling river and prehistoric fish with a spiny exterior transported me to a time before the modern era.

The gentle giant laid still as I posed quickly with photogenic backdrop of the British Columbia wilderness. The next step of this adventure was the best, and it was the revive. We gently move the fish to get water flowing through it gils and after a brief moment it slowly swam away back to the depths of the churning Fraser River.

For more information on Sturgeon Fishing on the Fraser River, please check out Cascade River Adventures. It is best to go with the guide to make sure you follow the appropriate laws and methods to catch and release these gentle giants.


Babe’s Fishers of the Future


FLW Pro Angler Jason Mullinax’s wife, Babe Mullinax is looking to enrich our next generation with the sport of fishing.

Babe will be conducting an enrichment class for kindergarteners at Kennesaw Elementary. When asked to head this project, administration requested for her to teach these children about something that she is passionate about, that when passed on to these kids, would enrich their lives into the future.

It was a no brainer to her, she wanted to give them the gift of fishing.

The class will require 15 kid casters and a kiddie pool. The total cost of the class’s needs is estimated at $300.

If you deem this an endeavor that you may be interested in joining, Babe and Jason would be ever so grateful. There is a GOFUNDME link below to support our next generation of anglers.

Babe’s Fishers of the Future

Man Can Cook Series: Beer Battered Fish

Enjoy my latest entry on Man Can Cook about Beer Battered Fish. Directions below.


  • 8 (4 ounce) fillets cod
  • salt 2 teaspoons
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons
  • Cajun Seasoning 2 tablespoons
  • paprika 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer


  1. Heat oil to 350 degrees F . Rinse and dry fish.
  2. Combine flour, cajun seasoning, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Stir egg into dry ingredients. Slowly mix beer into flour to get a pancake thickness.
  3. Dip fish into the batter, covering it. Then add fish to the oil and flip over halfway cooking. It takes 3-5 minutes.

Dog Days of Summer Bass Fishing Tips

As the month of August drags on, the heat across much of the United States can be stifling. All dedicated anglers have, at one time or another, found themselves wanting to satisfy the urge to wet a line, but the outside conditions are simply “too hot to fish.”

Some outdoorsmen and women brave the sweltering August sun in search of a bite from a hungry largemouth, but only those who are truly committed to bass fishing—or just plain crazy—are able to endure the heat.

For professional tournament anglers like Kenny Johnson, there’s no other option during practice or tournaments than to hit the water and take every possible measure to keep their cool both mentally and physically.

“Fishing in the middle of summer can be absolutely miserable, especially when there’s no breeze to help cool you off,” says Kenny. “When you’re fishing a tournament or practicing for one, you really don’t have more than two options, and that’s to either quit and go home, or to put your head down and fish.”

Kenny is a young angler who competes on the Costa FLW Series and Bassmaster tournament circuit. He has put in more than his fair share of hours on the water. Kenny began fishing tournaments with his father from a very young age and continued to compete through high school and into college where he founded the University of West Georgia Bass Club.

He now faces off against some of the best anglers in the country on a regular basis and is constantly working to improve his tactics and techniques. Kenny offers us three tips on how to catch bass during the dog days of summer.

1. Find Fish that are Active

“First, look for active fish and throw a crank to see if you can get one to react,” says Kenny. “If you can get those active fish to bite, you can bounce around from spot to spot and get your limit.”

Kenny says bass will likely hold in deep water where the temperatures are cooler than those on the surface. There are a number of different kinds of crankbaits that will be effective depending on the area you are fishing and the particular color combination that enhances bass to strike.

Depending on how active the fish are, you will likely need to try a faster or slower retrieve to determine the bass’ level of activity.

2. Let it Soak

Should the bass not take interest in a crankbait, Kenny’s second most productive option is using Texas-rigged creature baits.

“I like to use a Strike King Rage Craw, or some kind of crawfish,” says Kenny. “You want to throw it out there and really let it soak, or in other words, work it slow.”

One of the most popular menu items for bass at any time of the year is crawfish. These will provide a protein-packed meal for hungry bass who will often take advantage of an unsuspecting crawfish wandering through its turf.

3. Break Out the Drop Shot

Popular almost year-round in some form or another is the Drop Shot Rig. These can be used with worms, flukes, lizards, and just about any other kind of soft plastic bait you can imagine.

Bass fishing pro Kevin VanDam is a strong advocate of the Drop Shot—especially during the dog days of summer. In deep, clear water, a Drop Shot is usually a moneymaker for tournament anglers.

“I like to use a shad-colored Roboworm on a Drop Shot when it’s really hot and the bass are down deep,” says Kenny.

There are a number of ways to rig a Drop Shot and it may be wise to try different variations in order to find out what attracts bass where you are fishing.

Kenny and his uncle, Greg Johnson, with some bass caught in Lake Okeechobee.

Top 5 Baits for Hot Summer Bites

Kenny says he has about five baits that he usually relies on during the hot summer months. These baits are listed in no particular order as some may provide a slight advantage in certain situations and weather patterns.


Kenny likes to throw a topwater popper when the days heat up in late summer. Topwater baits typically work best in early morning and late evening, and anglers may not have luck during the mid-day heat. He recommends varying the tempo of your retrieve with topwater lures as the fish may prefer a faster or slower meal.


As the sun climbs higher in the sky, the water temperatures will heat up. Just like humans, bass like to find the coolest place they can when the heat bears down on them. Many anglers will find success with deep water crankbaits in summer. If you can locate where the fish are, you can target them with a deep-diving crankbait for possible bites.


Pitching jigs around docks is also a great way to entice a sluggish largemouth to bite. Docks provide shade all day and bass will often lounge around underneath such cover during the heat of the day. Pitching a jig underneath the dock and slowly bouncing it on the bottom is on of the best go-to baits for pro anglers in summer tournaments.


Just like a jig, a Texas-Rig can turn out to be a moneymaker in summer heat. Many bass will be at or near the bottom of lakes which makes a Texas-Rigged worm a valuable option in the dog days of summer. Texas-Rig’s often resemble a baitfish that appears to be foraging along the bottom—which often looks like an easy meal for big bass. A Texas-Rig and Jig can be dragged over the same structure you bounced that crankbait off of to produce some bites.

Drop Shot

Last, but certainly not least, on our list of the best five baits is the Drop Shot. Many pro anglers have won major tournaments by sticking to a Drop Shot lure to catch those big bass that are taking refuge from the sweltering sun in deep water. Drop Shots can be rigged with a variety of different kinds of soft plastics, which makes this bait probably the most valuable of our five lures.

Kenny says that water temperature is key when you’re trying to put fish into the livewell or cooler during these hot summer days.

“Pay attention to water temps, because if you see lower water temps, you’ll find fish are more active when it’s really hot outside,” says Kenny.

On large reservoirs, Kenny says he always identifies when dams will be pulling currents.

“Find out when they are pulling currents at your lake because it will really turn the fishing on,” says Kenny. “It’s really hit or miss sometimes. But when they create that current, that will often dictate when bass start feeding and becoming more active. The fish will set up on drop offs, points and brush piles near where there is water current.”

Electronics is Your Best Tool

Overall, Kenny recommends sticking with deep water when you’re trying to get a bite in the hot summer sun. That means using whatever electronics you have to identify deepwater structure and those deep schools of bass.
“My Lowrance electronics are everything to me when I’m fishing deep,” says Kenny. “Look for deep water structure as that will turn out to really be the ticket. If you can find deep structure, you’ll almost always find bass. Once you find them, then you can start working on them with different lures to see what they’re wanting to bite.”

Use these tips to have better odds during the dog days of summer. Even though some anglers might prefer to stay indoors on those stifling summer days, those who are willing to tough it out and brave the heat can use these tips to their advantage.


This article is brought to you by The Outdoor Trip. Check out their website here to book your next hunting or fishing trip, or to read one of the many useful articles, and much more!

Man Can Cook Series: Coconut Fried Fish

Below is the second in a series of Man Can Cook videos, and it is on coconut fried fish. Enjoy!



  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, more as needed
  • 10 grouper filets
  • Vegetable or Peanut Oil


  1. Heat your fryer grease to 350 degrees F.
  2. Make you wash by adding one egg and pineapple juice. Beat eggs and mix juice.
  3. Clean your fish with water and pat dry.
  4. Cover fish with pineapple wash.
  5. Cover fish generously with coconut dry batter.
  6. Lay the fish in the fryer.
  7. Cook them for 3-5 minutes or until they float.

Hiking Adventures: Cloudland Canyon

IMG_0061In the rocky north west Georgia mountains, nature and time has carved a majestic landmark. It is called Cloudland Canyon. Just over two hours north of Atlanta, Cloudland Canyon State Park is 3,488 acres of outdoor recreation for everyone. From glamping, hiking, geocaching, disc golf, caving, biking and picnicking, the options are plentiful.

My personal favorite are the views of the canyon and waterfalls at the park. The trails are clearly mark to help hikers navigate to their destination. The East rim is a comfortable walk from the parking lot and offers a view that is truly humbling. Following the East rim trail, it will take you to the Waterfall trail. img_0094.jpeg

The trek to the waterfalls is not for the faint of heart. It is a difficult 2.1 mile hike down and up 600 stairs. But the hard work is worth it with spectacular views of Cherokee and Hemlock Falls. Cherokee is a personal favorite with a clear pool at the base. Hemlock is nice too but the view is blocked with trees. The hard hike back up is worth the rock formation views. Please pace yourself and drink plenty of liquids. The park offers rest benches along the trail, so take a break and maybe snap a picture of your adventure.


From Gamer to Outdoorsman



Nearly four years ago, I made the decision to give up one of my favorite hobbies. From a very early age, I had always loved playing video games. I would spend countless hours sitting in front of a television enthralled in the fantasy world I had at my fingertips.

My father and grandfather always discouraged me from playing games. They would warn me that it would “rot my brain,” and stressed to me how much of a waste of time gaming was, even for a small child.

Gaming was an escape for me. I had always been an athletic, active kid, but video games offered an easy way for me satisfy my imagination. There were periods throughout my life in which I couldn’t wait to get home from school or work only to plop down in front of the television and get lost in whichever game I was into at the time.

As I grew older, I realized that gaming was becoming more of a distraction from things that should have been important in my life. Soon after my grandfather passed away, I began feeling more and more compelled to leave the games behind.

My grandfather was an outdoorsman his entire life. He would tell my brothers and I about all the adventurous things he did as a child, and as a young adult. He had been raised on a farm and knew how to ride horses, raise bird dogs, plant a garden, and the man had been fishing in nearly every lake from South Carolina to the Mississippi River. I would often go with him on hunting or fishing trips, or just help him around his farm with various tasks he liked to refer to as “piddlin.”

After he passed, I though more and more about him, and how much I wished I could have gone with him on some of his outdoor adventures. I’m ashamed to admit that on many occasions, I chose to play video games instead of join him on a fishing trip, or help him out around the farm. The regret I feel for missing out on those opportunities stings worse now than ever.

One day, about four years ago, I sat at breakfast and reminisced about how much I enjoyed spending time with him. I wondered if my grandchildren would ever have the same kind of memories I had of my “Papa.”

Then it hit me. If I didn’t give up my guilty pleasure of gaming, I wouldn’t have any of those amazing stories to tell my own grandchildren.

The hours and hours I had spent gaming was time that I could have spent exploring the great outdoors, fishing, hunting, riding horses, or any other adventure that I would get more out of than any video game could have ever given me.

I got rid of my gaming console that day and resolved to take advantage of any opportunity I could to enjoy the great outdoors.

Since then, I have cherished every opportunity I get to be adventurous. I’ve made some incredible memories with friends, and I have grown closer to my father, and enjoyed the time we get to venture into the great outdoors together.

A few people have asked me why I quit playing games. I always respond with the same answer.

“I want to spend my time enjoying real-life adventures, and I want to have some incredible stories to tell my grandkids.”

If I could offer any advice to someone the same situation I used to find myself in, I would strongly encourage leaving the virtual world, and exploring the vast, magnificent world around them.

People will never remember all those levels you beat in that video game, or how good you were at an online multiplayer game. But, those adventures you and your friends set out on will create unforgettable memories that will mean more to you and those around you years from now.

Get up off that couch, turn off the television, and put down that controller. In doing so, I guarantee you will enter a world of endless adventure that will surpass any enjoyment you can ever get from anything you will find in the digital world.