Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium nominated for “Best New Attraction” of 2017 by USA Today

Help WOW win the title “Best New Atraction! You can  vote for the WOW  at this link: wondersofwildlife.org/vote

I recently attended the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium grand opening in Springfield, Missouri. What an incredible place…

WOW has 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds; 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums; and more than 1.5 miles of trails that meander through 4-D dioramas that share sights, sounds and smells of wildlife habitat, including the African savannah, the Amazon rainforest, ten U.S. National Parks and the Arctic.

I had a blast at the opening event and recommend the venue to everyone.

The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium has been nominated as a “Best New Attraction” of 2017 by USA Today in its ’10 best’ series. 

Help them win the title “Best New Atraction! You can  vote for the WOW  at this link: wondersofwildlife.org/vote

You can vote once daily until January 1st. 

If you can’t tell already, me and the grouper below really enjoy his new home at WOW 🙂 

 

Finding structure for deepwater bottom fishing

Keeping track of your fishing coordinates is very important.

Taking it a step further, logging your fishing spots during specific times, throughout the year,  will help you learn to decipher patterns and understand bottom fish behavior.

The deepwater species  like the we target live anywhere from 600 to 2,000 feet deep. These are creatures of habit and they will return to certain bottom structure, or stay stationary, year after year.

A good way to find productive deep dropping grounds is to watch your sonar while trolling or running – while marking waypoints.

Furthermore, if you study any fishing chart…any structure in otherwise devoid deep water area will draw baitfish and consequently the rest of the food chain.

Once you have located a productive spot, mark the area on your sonar. Determine how the wind and current will push your boat. Fishing in very deep water means fishing, you’ll want to stay as stationary as possible, calm days are best. You can also use your engines to help keep your boat in the spot, and keep your lines as close to vertical as you can. When you find the structure, whether it be a shipwreck, bank, seamount…any place with a noticeable change in depth – work a slow grid pattern. With a little luck, there’s a great chance you’ll fill your cooler.

Raymarine’s new RealVision system allow you to read bottom like you never have before.

Gyro stabilization compensates for boat movement, delivering life-like 3D sonar imagery and the RealVision 3D Transducers combine CHIRP DownVision, CHIRP SideVision, High Frequency CHIRP, and RealVision 3D into a single transducer housing so that you can easily identify structure and locate fish with real life-like clarity.

Check it out here: Raymarine Axiom RealVision

New kite fishing how-to video

I just posted a brand new kite fishing video on my YouTube. I’ve been asked for years to put a descriptive kite fishing video/how to on YouTube. This video provides an in depth explanation of rigging and more, We also caught some mahis. Check it out, hope you like it 🙂

 

Raymarine Axiom Pro RXV

Check out the Axiom Pro series here


The Raymarine Axiom Pro is really changing the game in marine electronics. The Axiom system already won the Innovation Award at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show. I’ve fished this system, and am outfitting my new Yellowfin 39 Offshore with 2 Axiom Pro 16 inch displays. This system is easy to use and POWERFUL!

  • Axiom Pro RVX Multifunction Displays come in 9-inch, 12-inch or 16-inch sizes
  • They all utilize Raymarine’s HybridTouch control system with full touchscreen, keypad, and integrated control pad/rotary knob control
  • Axiom Pro RVX have 2 complete sonar systems, built in.  There are no black-boxes or external modules required.  Transducer connect directly to the display.
    • Sonar #1 is our new RealVision 3D system, giving you CHIRP DownVision, CHIRP SideVision, RealVision 3D and high CHIRP fish targeting.
    • Sonar #2 is a full 1kW offshore CHIRP sonar, capable of imaging fish, bait and bottom as deep as 5,000 feet.

All Axiom PRO MFD’s are built using optically bonded, IPS LCD display panels.  The addition of IPS technology gives them super-wide viewing angles, and makes them compatible with polarized sunglasses from every viewing angle.  Ultra-bring backlighting ensures the best possible viewing in even the most challenging conditions.

Axiom PRO MFD’s are networkable, and work with Raymarine’s full line of radar scanners, marine cameras, FLIR thermal night vision, autopilot, instruments and more.   Axiom Pro can also be networked together with all-touch Axiom MFDs, which come in 7, 9 or 12-inch versions.  This gives you smaller options for tight spaces like towers.

What I like most about the new Raymarine line of electronics is the versatility. These new MFDs are suited for both professional and amateur fishermen. They’re easy to use, yet insanely powerful! Also, I’m amazed at how effective the new 3D sonar system is. You are able to read structure that I would have never seen before, helping me catch more fish.

Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler pro knives

These new Offshore Angler knives are top-notch. They’re constructed from premium German stainless steel, and have an Armor-X coating that won’t rust. The handles are also made from injected molded rubber/plastic for great grip. I just used both these knives to clean a boat load of mahi-mahi and blackfin tuna, and I especially like the index finger slot and upper thumb rest for leverage. Although the bait knife is called a bait knife, it is great for filleting smaller fish, and provides great control. Also, I find that these knives have the perfect amount of flex, so that you can really get close to the bone, and not waste any meat.

These are extremely tough, durable, premium knives!

  • Precision curved blade with perfect flex
  • Crafted from quality 4116 German stainless steel
  • Rockwell Hardness rating: 56-58
  • Chemically-bonded Armor-X corrosion-resistant coating
  • 3-piece injection-molded TPR handle
  • Designed for maximum leverage, comfort, and safety
  • Includes sheath

Here’s the Pro Fillet Knife 

Purchase here at Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler Pro Fillet knife


Here’s the Pro Bait Knife 

Purchase here at Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler Pro bait knife

Fall in Citrus County

For more info visit the Crystal River Fishing Facebook page

One of my favorite places to visit, on personal vacation or filming my show, Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller, is Citrus County, Florida. Whether it’s for scalloping, swimming with the manatees, or for the fishing, Citrus County never disappoints. This area is alive with activities throughout the entire year, but in the fall, there are are some events that I highly recommend for the entire family. Citrus County is home to great seafood festivals, so if fresh seafood is up your alley keep reading. Also, to feed your fishing bug…snook season is open this time of year : ) If you’re looking to get your seafood and fishing fix, check out Citrus County.

Snook Season

Citrus County is a great area to nail an inshore slam…snook, trout and redfish. Two great areas to fish are Homosassa and Crystal River.  One thing that stands out to me,  is how untouched, and pristine it is. If you want to get away from the crowds, this is the place for you. The flats, oyster bars, and vast areas of sea grass,  dotted with small islands, are constantly fed clean Gulf of Mexico water, with the tidal flow. Also, the natural springs are constantly flowing. Rocky areas near inlets and points, with moving water, provide your best bet for snook. In general, outgoing tide is optimal, along with low light conditions, sunrise and sunset.  For snook, a jig head with a gulp will entice strikes, as will jerk baits. For live bait, finger mullet and ladyfish work well.

Snook Regulations in the Gulf of Mexico, Monroe County, and Everglades National Park

  • Snook season is open from September 1st through December 1st. 
  • Snook season is closed December 1st through the end of February. 
  • Snook season is open from March 1st through May 1st.
  • Snook season is closed May 1st through August 31st
  • The size limit is not less than 28’’ total length or more than 33’’ total length
  • The bag limit is 1 per harvester per day; zero captain and crew for hire limit

One thing that has kept this fishery alive is that it’s illegal to buy or sell snook, you need to catch your own. Our Florida snook fishery is so great here in Florida, that I release most of the fish we catch, but sometimes I will keep one for the dinner table. Here’s a simple recipe:

Blackened Snook

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless snook fillets
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Blackening season 
  • Cast ron skillet
  • Lemons

Instructions

  1. Heat the skillet until it’s extremely hot, smoking
  2. Melt your butter and dip the fillets into the butter, coat with blackening seasoning 
  3. Place the fillets onto the skillet, all while pouring more melted butter 
  4. Cook each side for a 2-3 minutes, the fish should have a thick blackened crust
  5. Serve with lemons

Seafood Festivals 

Stone crab season is a very special time in Florida. The season runs from October 15 each year through May 15, and visitors flock from all over to eat delicious stone crab claws 

In Citrus County, here a couple of festivals to sample fresh stone crab and other seafood.

 

10th annual Stone Crab Jam in Crystal River   November 4th, 2017

  • Open street festival in Historic Downtown Crystal River. The streets are closed to showcase food, craft vendors and artists, along with wine, beer and spirits. 
  • Live music with 6 bands, 3 separate stages
  • Presented by the Kings Bay Rotary Crystal River, ‘Charitable Foundation’ supported 100% by volunteers and sponsors. 100% of the Stone Crab Jam proceeds are donated to area non-profits, charitable organizations, scholarships and international projects. Over 8,000 attend every year!

Homosassa Seafood Festival  November 11-12, 2017

  • Showcases art and creative crafts like watercolors, drawings photography, lithography, hand crafts, jewelry, bead work, leather, candles, shell craft, driftwood
  • Unique foods such as conch, catfish, gator tail, grouper, shrimp, lobster 
  • Live entertainment
  • Proceeds supports charitable organizations such as children centers, schools, veterans organizations, boys and girls clubs and scholarships 

When I visit the area, my favorite place to stay is the Plantation on Crystal River and fish with the local guides.

 For fishing, some top notch local captains include Capt. Brandon Branch,   Capt. Clay Shidler and  Capt. William Toney 

For more activities and information about Citrus County, visit the Discover Crystal River website 

I had an awesome time at last night’s Tidal X Brooklyn benefit, hosted by Roc Nation and brought to you by Monster Products, Bacardi, Decode Cannabis and Jet Lux.

All net proceeds of the concert are donated to Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Organizations.

I was there with Monster Products CEO Noel Lee.

What an incredible event, with performances by Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, DJ Khaled, Kaskade,Chris Brown, Stevie Wonder and more. 

#MonsterCares 

Monster is donating $50 of every Blaster Speaker ($399.95) purchases to Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery!

Monster Blaster Boombox Wireless Speaker Features

  • Powerful Drivers for Monster sound 
  • NFC and Bluetooth for Quick Pairing 
  • USB Charge Output
  • Rechargeable battery for up to 12 hours of continuous listening
  • Waterproof and Splashproof
  • Rugged, integrated handle 

To purchase a Blaster and help relief efforts visit Monster Cares Campaign – Donating to Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery

See the Monster Blaster in action below 🙂

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum Aquarium

Nearly ten years in the making and unprecedented in scale and scope, Wonders of Wildlife is larger than the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and an inspirational tribute to the adventurers, explorers, outdoorsmen and conservationists who helped discover, develop and preserve the nation we love.

With 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, the 350,000-square-foot complex is a wonder in and of itself. It contains more than 1.5 miles of trails through authentic, immersive habitats and features 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums and immersive wildlife galleries. Signature galleries include a massive “open ocean” ring-shaped aquarium and the two-story Shipwreck Room where guests can touch stingrays on the ocean floor. Immersive wildlife galleries feature 4D dioramas that transport guests through sights, sounds, smells and climates to some of the wildest places on earth, including a trek across the African savannah, the Amazon rainforest, the Arctic and America’s National Parks and more in a multisensory celebration of conservation and craftsmanship. The all-new museum and aquarium is located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, one of many signature nature-based attractions in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, a region emerging as America’s Conservation Capital.

“Wonders of Wildlife is an inspirational journey around the world that celebrates the role of hunters and anglers as America’s true conservation heroes,” said Johnny Morris. “We proudly invite families and sportsmen to come share the wonder with an unforgettable experience meant to inspire generations of future conservationists.” 

Wonders of Wildlife is a not-for-profit, proceeds benefit conservation and education.

 For additional information including admission, hours of operation and directions visit www.wondersofwildlife.org 

I had an incredible time at the Wonders of Wildlife grand opening, surrounded by the best in conservation. This museum beats any museum in the planet! Speakers included Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, Kevin Costner and many more. Great seeing Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Bill Dance, JP and Johnny Morris. Great time with great friends Robert W. Christoph Jr., RT and Karl. 

Florida’s Recreational Fishery is in Danger

 
Click here to submit comments to your governor, senators and representatives to make a difference: http://www.billfish.org/news/submit-comments-efp-fl-elected-officials/
 
On August 10, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it’s approval of the Exempted Fishing Permit that allows longline boats to fish in Florida’s east coast closed zone. 
 
This puts the recreational fishing industry that I work so hard to promote and protect, in danger. 
 
Long lines are fishing lines that are miles in length, and have have thousands of hooks attached, set by commercial fishing boats.
 
With this new approval, commercial boats will now be allowed to set their long lines in a formerly closed fishing area off Florida.
 
I have fished all over the world and I have seen the problems with longlining. The amount of by-catch and loss of marine life is tremendous. Longlines hook marlin, sailfish, sharks and tuna…they kill indiscriminately. It’s not just fish, turtles, dolphins and whales are also accidentally hooked by longlines.
 
I also witnessed the decline and recovery of the sword fishery off South Florida. When I first started fishing, a swordfish was rare. When longlining was banned off of Florida’s east coast. I witnessed first hand, the comeback of the species into a thriving fishery, that attracts visitors from around the world.
 
Recreational fishing is tremendously important to Florida’s economy. In Florida, recreational fishing has an economic impact of $7.6 billion dollars, and the industry supports 109,300 jobs. This includes hotels, restaurants, fishing licenses, captains, airline tickets etc. 
 
The world is not aware of how destructive longline fishing is. If the National Marine Fisheries Service is so confident on their decision, we should be allowed to film the setting of these longlines, along with retrieval, to show the world what indiscriminate decimation of the ocean looks like first hand.
 
There are no secrets anymore. All signs indicate this is a horrible decision that sets a tone that will one day wipe our ocean clean.
 
We have one planet…let’s be smart and take care of it. 
 

Please see the following excerpt from The Billfish Foundation. To view the original article click here: http://www.billfish.org/news/noaa-fisheries-grants-longline-access-florida-closed-area/

Florida has more anglers than any other state in the nation, 2.4 million, and the related industry generates an economic impact of $7.6 billion dollars (2015/16) and supports 109,300 jobs! This is a slap in the face of all connected to recreational fishing in Florida especially after strong opposition was expressed by the industry and community participants. This decision could have a negative impact on Florida’s wide ranging marine tourism.
 
Ellen Peel, president of the Billfish Foundation stated:
“She was not surprised, though held out some hope, the NMFS would realize allowing longlines back into Florida’s east coast closed zone to land the conservation benefits accrued over 16 years of closure would be illogical. The NMFS has accommodated the one scientist at NOVA, who filed for the permit, project after project, regardless of prior results or inappropriateness of this project. The hypocrisy of the situation is blatant for the scientist, along with the owner of many of the longline boats that will fish in the zone, were part of a CNN interview in 2012 in which they made the argument that longlining was not a clean gear and should be replaced by buoy gear. Now that the scientist and boat owner can sell the conservation benefits their story has changed. The longlines will kill billfish, swordfish, sharks and sea turtles. Be prepared, the NMFS, HMS may issue more restraints on recreational fishing so there will be more fish for the “research longlines” to kill if illogical thinking continues. Keep in mind that the State of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opposed the permit being issued.”

Scalloping

What I appreciate most about Florida is the diversity of outdoor activities available to visitors and residents alike. One such activity is scalloping. Scalloping is a blast…it’s  an easy and accessible pursuit and is perfect for families. It’s like an easter egg hunt, but the prize is tasty scallops. Here’s the lowdown on scalloping in Florida.

Scallops are widespread throughout their range, but  can be collected only in the designated harvest zone determined by the FWC (website with regulations and harvest sounds at the end of the article.)

Popular areas to go scalloping include Keaton, Steinhatchee, Crystal River and Homosassa. I recently had the opportunity to try scalloping in Steinhatchee, a town in Florida’s Nature Coast. You don’t need a big boat to partake, all you need is a mask and snorkel.

The concept is simple. You jump in the water and weed through the grassy seabed until you see your prize. Sometimes the scallops will show you they’re white, fan shaped underbelly. Our captain referred to these as “gimmes.”  Oftentimes the scallops are dark and olive colored, so they’re not easy to spot. Once you find a single scallop, look for groups in the area.. This i all about experience, once you determine patterns in the way the scallops appear on the seabed, you’ll be able to find more, filling your bucket quicker.

Some telltale patterns you need to look for:

  • Sunny conditions are best. You will be able to see the scallops easier, and the scallops will gather on the top of the grass.
  • Look for holes. The scallops will gather on the edge of potholes.
  • Scallops have neon blue eyes. Oftentimes you can spot them by looking for their eyes.
  • Put your head down and swim, while weeding through the eelgrass.

Here’s what you need to get in on the scallop action. Firstly, a dive mask and snorkel along. Fins are optional, but are a big help. You’ll need a mesh bag to carry scallops once you find them. Next, you’ll need a dive flag for the boat, this should be attached on the end of a PVC pole so that it’s visible. You’ll need a shucking knife… it’s best to put scallops on ice immediately after you harvest them. You will need a saltwater fishing license, nonresidents can purchase a short time license. The current FWC regulations dictate that you can harvest the following: 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell, or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person. Maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

In Steinhatchee, I had the pleasure of heading out scalloping with Capt Tony Mathis from www.YKnotFish.com Uniquely to these areas that you can head out on a charter, targeting trout and redfish in the morning. When the weather heats up, you can head to the scalloping grounds to cool off. Another area that has great scalloping is Crystal River. I stay at the Plantation on Crystal River(www.plantationoncrystalriver.com) and head out with Capt. Clay Shidler  (http://www.fishingcharterscrystalriver.com.) 

Check the FWC site for the regulations and seasons, as this varies from county to county  and regulations: www.myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops.

For more information about scalloping in Crystal River visit http://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com/play/scalloping/

Sautéed Bay scallops

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 pound of fresh bay scallops
  • Lemon Juice to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Ground black pepper

Heat olive oil and butter until nearly smoking in large sauce pan. Add the scallops t the sauce pan when the scallops are gently browned, either toss them or flip over with a spatula. When both sides are browned. Place scallops on a serving platter. In the same pan, heat up more butter, add in parsley and lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the scallops.