It was a warm and humid December morning in Miami. I drove down to the park in my Tacoma, and waited on Captain Hall to pull in. To my surprise, the slim, enthusiastic captain was waiting for me at the boat ramp. He asked, “Are you Heath?” I nodded. “Well, I got some shiners and the Peacocks love them,” he shot back. I boarded his smaller boat, and the hunt was on for Miami Peacock Bass.
As we glided through the urban jungle of Miami’s canal system. The green vegetation of a jungle engulfed me as we reached our first stop. The captain smirked and said drop it here. The baitfish on a circle hook swam at its will. The air cooler than the sweltering forecast was damp with the morning dew. The rod began to twitch with a slight bump. Then, the rod bent over with a slam. I closed my bail and the fish was hooked. The line screamed like a torture creature. I reeled with a passion of excited child. The fish was close to the boat, when I laid my eyes on its exotic colors of green, reddish orange and yellow. I landed my first Butterfly Peacock bass of Miami. It wasn’t my last.
We moved constantly through the urban jungle. Stopping at holes, we would cast and hook a peacock. The banks would alternate of vines, backyards and iguanas as swiftly moved through the canals of the metropolis. I hooked at least 10 but none of size as we reached an open lake like area of the canals. The shiner thrown out on a hook bounced in a fury. The rod bent slightly and I reeled to hook up. The Peacock bass fought with a fury of a football safety. It had shoulders in its fight. After a five minute fight, the brightly colored fish was defeated. Watch my adventure in this short video below. For more information on Peacock Bass Fishing, check out http://www.captmarkhall.com/
The holiday season is upon us and that means you’re either looking for the perfect gift for your outdoorsman, or you’re a hunter and angler hoping to provide a subtle hint to friends and family members by sharing this list of the the best outdoor gifts for the 2018 season.
We’ve compiled this list and categorized items by cost, selecting the absolute best gift ideas available this season. Tracking down the ideal gift for your outdoor adventurer can often be tough as most they are highly selective when it comes to their gear.
Don’t worry. We’ll make sure your outdoorsman is just as excited to find their gift under a tree as they will be to carry it with them into a tree, or on the water.
1. Magazine Subscription – This gift idea is often overlooked, but is guaranteed to be something that continues to put a smile on your outdoorsman’s face each month for a year or even two if you want. Most outdoor magazines are surprisingly affordable and make great stocking stuffer ideas. One of our favorites is Game & Fish magazine, which produces state-specific editions for anywhere in the country. The best news? A one-year subscription costs less than $10.
2. Wild Game Cookbook – We at Man Can Outdoors are just as enthusiastic about preparing our catches and kills in a tasty cuisine as we are for the preparation, thrill of the chase and the harvest. Get that special someone on your list a wild game cookbook and they might just invite you over for dinner later on.
3. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – Having fresh water is essential and can come through as a lifesaver in some situations in the great outdoors. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a sleek, easy-to-use water filtration system that is easily one of the most important items on our list. The LifeStraw removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and even exceeds EPA water filter standards. This item is perfect for the hardcore adventurer or the casual outdoorsman.
4. Goal Zero Solar Charger – Getting to some of the best hunting or fishing spots sometimes requires us to go off the grid. A solar charger is a great way to keep your gadgets charged. From keeping a daily log on your laptop to making sure your phone is charged so you can capture that perfect photo right when you need it, a solar charger is a handy tool for any modern outdoorsman. Goal Zero makes some of the most reliable chargers on the market.
5. Gerber Controller Filet Knife – No angler’s arsenal is complete without a proper filet knife. The Gerber Controller is an 8-inch workhorse a workhorse among filet knives. The HydroTread Grip™ helps you keep a hold on things despite slime and wetness while cleaning your catch. The knife’s custom-fit sheath comes with a built-in sharpener that makes it ready to cut at a moment’s notice.
6. Bubba Blade Fishing Pliers – A high-quality set of fishing pliers is invaluable for serious anglers. The Bubba Blade Fishing Pliers features everything you need for safety and control and is able to cut, crimp and pull any and everything. These pliers come with a lanyard and sheath for quick and easy access.
7. The Browning Jackson Carry-On Travel Pack – To the average person, the many nooks and crannies in a quality outdoor backpack might never be utilized, but serious hunters and anglers can visualize just how they will fit every piece of gear inside those compartments. Having a good backpack is essential to moving with speed and efficiency.
Packing everything into a compact, waterproof backpack will keep your gear dry and allow for quick, easy access. The Browning Jackson Carry-On Travel Pack is an ideal choice for any adventurer.
8. Wild River Tackle Tek Frontier Tackle Bag – This compact tackle bag is easy to take anywhere and serves as an angler’s one-stop fishing shop. With a bright, LED light system mounted on the handle, you’ll never have to fumble around with a flashlight in hand while you tie on baits or unhook your catch. With waterproof pockets and plenty of compartment space, this tackle bag is our top choice for the 2018 season.
9. SHIMANO Curado DC – Our list of the best gear items of 2018 would not be complete without the year’s hottest fishing reel, the SHIMANO Curado DC. This reel features the best in anti-backlash technology, Shimano’s new Digital Control braking system which utilizes a microcomputer to monitor spool speed 1,000 times every second. This reel is ideal for anglers of all experience levels and is available at many fishing retail stores and websites.
10. GoPro Hero7 – Capture your catch and harvest with the latest in compact camera technology with professional 4K HD video quality. The GoPro Hero7 is waterproof and voice-controlled, making it easy to use in a variety of outdoor situations. With live-streaming capabilities, this compact camera is perfect for capturing all of your outdoor adventure footage and photos.
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.
With hunting season peeking around the corner, it is high time to begin preparing your land for late autumn success. A well-planned, well-planted food plot can be the difference in a memorable hunting season or a dismal disappointment.
Seasoned whitetail hunters know that it is essential to brave the late summer heat to take care of necessary duties in food plot preparation and other work around their hunting property.
Food plots do not always have to be a vast swath of green fields to be productive. Simply following your land’s natural contours and even planting small strips of crops can pay off in a major way.
1. Locate the Best Site
If you don’t already have a food plot on your land, look for one that deer will be attracted to. Deer are naturally skittish creatures and a square or rectangular food plot isn’t always appealing to them as they seek the most cover possible while moving through the woods.
Rounded food plots that follow the contours of woodlines and other features will offer optimal cover for deer and make them feel more comfortable to explore. One other important note is to try, if possible, to create your food plot as far as possible away from roads or trails in order to avoid tempting trespassers to venture onto your property.
Many veteran hunters will attest to the fact that a long, narrow food plot being the most productive strategies as opposed to planting a wide-open field. Deer will be more likely to use the plot if they can quickly dart into the cover of the nearby woods.
2. Prepare the Soil
There are many steps to take to prepare the soil for planting, but some hunters only have the means to throw down some fertilizer, plant their seeds, and hope for the best. A soil test can indicate needed minerals and fertilizer amounts, which will produce the best results when those seeds start to sprout.
If you can’t run a soil test, then simply use a pre-mixed fertilizer and also apply heavy amounts of lime to the soil. Lime is a key ingredient to creating a productive food plot.
Proper soil prep also includes the removal of larger rocks and other debris from the dirt in order to ensure your seeds can sprout and grow with nothing hindering their progress. Also be sure to kill off existing grasses or weeds well before planting.
3. Ensure Your Plot Has Optimal Cover
It is tempting to clear out as much obstructions around the edges of your plot as possible in order to spot incoming bucks from your stand. However, clearing away too much undergrowth may make your plot too open and will cause a buck to shy away from stepping out into the plot to feed.
If the edges of your food plot do not offer enough cover, think about planting wheat, sun-hemp, or some type of native tall grasses that will grow tall enough to create plenty of cover for a buck to be encouraged to venture into the plot during daylight hours.
4. Don’t Take the Cheap Route
Using cheap fertilizer or seeds will risk yielding a plot low in nutritional value. Purchase quality seeds and other items to use on your food plot and seek the advice of other hunters in both planting and preparation to ensure yielding a vibrant, lush crop that deer will find irresistible.
5. Wait Until the Time is Right
This one is perhaps the most important tip we can provide, yet it may not be something most hunters will have the patience to do.
Do NOT hunt over the food plot until the rut begins.
By waiting and allowing the deer to become comfortable stepping out into your food plot, you will capitalize on the element of surprise when you finally do climb into that stand overlooking the plot. Giving deer a few months to get used to regularly using the food plot during daylight hours is key.
It is tempting to hunt over the plot early in the season as you’re very likely to see deer in or around the edges of the plot. However, if you exercise patience and wait until the rut, it will certainly pay off in the long-run.
Bucks are not likely to use a food plot at all until after dark. Does, on the other hand, will begin to step into the plot during daylight hours and grow accustomed to feeding during the day. Does will stay close to the food plot throughout the hunting season as it will continually provide a place for them to safely feed.
Once the rut kicks in, where will the bucks know to find the does on your property?
Use these tips to start planting a food plot that will maximize your hunting efforts and produce the best results from your land. Remember, it may take a few years and some trial and error to gain knowledge and insight on just how to prepare and plant your specific food plot, so be patient and happy hunting!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Below is the first in a series of Man Can Cook videos, and it is on pan seared wahoo steaks. Enjoy!
* 4 wahoo steaks
* 1/2 cup Olive Oil
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons paprika
* 1 tablespoon lime juice
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper season
* 1 pinch of crushed chili pepper flakes
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon pepper
* Pat of butter
1. Make you marinade, mix olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
2. Clean your wahoo with water and pat dry.
3. Cover fish with marinade.
4. Add pat of butter and heat cast iron
5. Lay the fish in the skillet, add pepper flakes to fish steaks.
6. Cook them for 15-20 minutes flipping halfway.