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Month: May 2012

Do You Have a Favorite State Park for Fishing or Boating?

Do You Have a Favorite State Park for Fishing or Boating?

Kirk Deeter 5/30/2012 I often write about fishing in far-flung wild locales, but some of my favorite fishing spots are found in places that anyone can easily access—state parks. When you think about it, state parks are really the backbone of our sport, as many […]

Wood or Plastic?

Wood or Plastic?

Andy Whitcomb 5/29/2012 When was the last time you saw a wooden lure? If you’re like me, it was when the Mrs. dragged you along shopping for antiques. Wood was a material used in vintage hard lures because it was readily available and could be […]

Why We Love Boating and Fishing Communities

Why We Love Boating and Fishing Communities

One of the best parts of boating and fishing is that we get to hang out in boating and fishing communities. They’re places where even the most everyday item has something to do with our favorite pastimes on the water.

Out here in Massachusetts for example, we’re not surrounded by the mundane. We are immersed in our favorite activities from start to finish. Everywhere we turn we are reminded that there is more to life than duty and obligation.

Take this flower bed for instance. It’s in my hometown and is called a Jacob’s Garden. Local legend has it that following a hurricane in the 1800’s, Minister Jacob found plants and dirt strewn in an old dory in his yard. As the boat was in total disrepair, the thoughtful pastor continued to fill the boat with soil and plants, thereby making good use of the craft in its final resting place.

Some folks can’t get enough Maine lobster to eat, and check out this innovative seat that was built by a lobsterman? It can comfortably hold two adults or three or four kids, cost about $50 to make, and is totally weatherproof with no maintenance whatsoever. The colorful buoys on top are fun and as each lobsterman has floats of his own color and design, the seat is a combination of lots of family’s efforts.

Mooring balls are normally found underwater and serve a utilitarian function: they anchor our boats in a harbor. This one in particular is a lot more festive and was turned into a giant pumpkin. Originally it was a Halloween tradition, but folks loved it so much that it now stays up all-year long.

Ever seen an off-season skiff double as a Christmas tree stand? Well now you have! You’ve got to have an enormous living room if you’re going to bring it all inside….

An eye-catching sign is on top of a really great restaurant. It’s of a fisherman in a dory hauling in a net. You don’t have to look to hard to see the colossal lobster all tangled up heading for the table.

And last but not least is a buoy tree. Fierce Nor’easters tear them from their lines causing them to wash-a-shore. When they do they are gathered by beachcombers and added to a tree. Some are colorful, others are drab, but they all pay homage to the folks who make their living on the water.

There are so many different ways that communities rally around their fishing and boating traditions. What kind do you routinely see?


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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.

PFDs… Make Them Fit

PFDs… Make Them Fit

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Got Lucky Drawers?

Got Lucky Drawers?

Andy Whitcomb 5/22/2012 “Any luck?” is usually the second question anglers field when they return from a fishing trip (“Where have you been?” perhaps being the first). There are Luck-E-Strike and Lucky Craft lure companies. Lucky 13 is a classic lure that can be found […]

Celebrity Fishermen

Celebrity Fishermen

Several months ago I had a business trip that took me to a really cool place called Honey Lake Plantation. The plantation is towards the southern end of the Red Hills region that spans South Georgia through North Florida. The towns of Thomasville, Monticello and Tallahassee are well known to sportsmen as well as athletes. Although it needs no introduction, ACC powerhouse Florida State University is in Tallahassee.

I had a number of meetings that spanned a few days, and when we were done I had the opportunity to step out for a little R and R courtesy of the plantation’s owner, Bob Williamson. Williamson has been an entrepreneur his entire life and business is important to him. But he’s a life-long sportsman, too, so spending a morning in the field followed by an afternoon on the ponds and lake were of equal importance. The adage of you’ll never know who you’ll run in to” was true that day, and when I left my room for breakfast, I encountered two legendary athletes who I remembered playing pro ball when I was a kid.

The first was former Atlanta Falcon’s quarterback Steve Bartkowski. I was a 7th grade middle linebacker and remember everyone going crazy when Bartkowski was signed #1 in the NFL draft (which was ahead of Walter Payton, 1975). Bartkowski wasted no time in picking apart defensive secondaries, and at Honey Lake Plantation, he showed no mercy in the trophy bass department either. While athletics were an integral part of his life, Bartkowski grew up as an avid sportsman and conservationist. He’ll fish for anything anywhere anytime, and is comfortable with a wide variety of tackle. Check out this good bass, one of several he caught. He caught a number of really big bream, too.

The other retired athlete was former Pittsburgh Pirate Bob Svetich. My uncle lived outside of Pittsburgh, and when I visited him we used to go to games at the old Three Rivers Stadium. Bob and his twin brother Ronn were playing in the Iron City in the mid-late 1970’s, too. After retiring, Bob launched an outdoor travel business called the Outdoor Group. His brother stayed in baseball and is currently a coach for the Colorado Rockies. Bob spends a significant amount of his year fishing. Whether it’s for trout in the Colorado rivers and streams, walleye through the ice, or bonefish in the Bahamas, it doesn’t take much convincing to get Bob to hit the water. Like Bartkowski, he’s got an incredible focus and made short work of a number of plate-sized bream and a few big bass.

These two guys are great ambassadors for our sport. They told me that hard and consistent work is their friend, and that they spend as much of it on their angling as they did their athletics. We had some friendly competitions for sure, but in the end they were both team players which made for a terrific day on the water.


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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.

Be The Fish

Be The Fish

Kirk Deeter 5/16/2012 I’ve learned that sometimes, in order to know more about catching fish, it’s worth taking a little time to actually “be the fish.” And so I’ve been known to scuba dive or snorkel with trout, bass, walleyes, pike, and other species. This […]

Boating Reason #131: Snakes

Boating Reason #131: Snakes

Andy Whitcomb 5/15/2012 There are many reasons to enjoy boating. Laird Durham, a freelance writer and avid boater, has assembled his Top 10 Reasons, and there are many others. Fishing, of course, is a major reason. Access to all depths and locations of a body […]

Fishing and Boating Rigs

Fishing and Boating Rigs

We all know that fishing and boating are two of the best activities going. Some days we don’t catch ‘em up as much as we’d want to, or other days the rain or chop foils our plans for a smooth boat ride. Those tough days make the other ones even more enjoyable, but so does riding in the vehicles that get us to where we’re going.

Now that fishing is fully underway in my area I’ve noticed another part of fishing and boating that I’ve overlooked: rigs. Fishing and boating rigs add another layer of fun to our favorite pastimes. Some rigs are brand new, others are old and tired, and still others are tricked out beyond belief. In my mind, the old ones are about as cool as it gets.

Jeeps, jeeps and more jeeps. The name jeep comes from an abbreviated GP which stands for General Purpose. While these vehicles were initially designed for military duty, sportsmen found their clearance and four-wheel drive to be a tremendous asset for hauling boats and getting to out-of-the-way fishing spots. Out here in Massachusetts, I’ll commonly see CJ’s, from 3’s, 5’s, and 7’s, but every now and then an old Willy has tackle bags and rods in the back. Take off the top, drop the windshield down, and you’re ready for action. A top-down Jeep is one of the few vehicles you can drive where you’ll also have to wear sunscreen.

Several foreign companies also make jeep-style rigs. Old Land Rovers capture the romance of Jolly Old England as well as the British-settled desert areas. They, too, are ready made for action, with shovels, gas cans, and pick axes enabling them to go very far off road. Four-wheel drive and good ground clearance make them perfect for hauling boats up a ramp, and the canvas tops roll up to create natural air conditioning. Jump seats in the back means you and your crew are set for a great day.

To get through thick mud why not take your jacked up and drop it down into 4×4? Old pick-ups, with high ground clearance are awesome, and when I see old Fords and Chevys I can’t help but smile. You can store a ton of gear in the bed, transport a jonboat or a kayak to a remote pond, or easily pull a boat down the road. Toss in a tent and some camping gear and you’ve got a great fishing and boating weekend in store.

I think of station wagons like old Jeeps or Woodys as the precursors to the modern SUV. Originally designed to transport travelers and their luggage from train stations, they quickly became popular among fishermen and boaters. Add in four-wheel drive and you can climb mountains or run beaches. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, many fishermen would run the beaches with a small boat lashed to the roof top, and these old wagons are perfect for organizing lots of gear.

There is an old saying, “life is too short to drive an ugly rig.” That said, I might need to upgrade mine. And any of these options would more than do!


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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.

When They Catch Them on Their Own…

When They Catch Them on Their Own…

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