We here at ParksByNature are enamored with trophy case catches and constantly find ourselves hoping that every tug on our line is the next big one—if our website didn’t clue you in to that, anyway. Here are five of our favorite trophy cases that may have made us stare with our mouth open for longer than we’d like to admit.
Sometimes the best idea for succeeding in your favorite hobby is to change things up a bit. Trying a new fishing method may lead to hooking that prize catfish you’ve been after; a true record-breaker that you’ll brag about for years to come. Here are three unique catfish bait recipes you can cook up next time you’re heading out on a fishing excursion, rather than rely on worms or pretty lures.
Jack’s Cat Attack
- 1 lb. chicken livers
- 1 package hot dogs
- ½ loaf bread
- 2 cans nacho cheese
- 1 can corn
- ¼ bottle Tabasco sauce
- Dozen chopped worms
- Age chicken livers in the sun and mix with hot dogs in a blender.
- Break up bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a gallon jug.
- Pour the liver and hot dog mix over the bread chunks.
- Add nacho cheese, corn, Tabasco sauce, and worms into the mixture.
- Pour the mixture out of the jug and knead until it becomes thick and dough-like. Store in the sun in a large plastic container until your next fishing venture.
Cajun Mud BaitIngredients
- 1 lb. rotten minnows
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 box of cherry Jell-o
- ¼ cup molasses
- 3 tbsps. onion salt
- 3 tbsps. garlic salt
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsps. soy sauce
- ½ cup flour
- Mix minnows, water, Parmesan cheese, Jell-o, molasses, onion salt, garlic salt, breadcrumbs, and soy sauce in a blender.
- Pour mixture into a bowl and add flour as needed until thick.
- Roll into small 1-inch balls and store in plastic bags.
- 1 lb. Velveeta cheese
- 6-8 oz. chopped chicken liver
- 1 tbsps. Garlic powder
- 1 can wet dog food
- Dozen minnows
- ½ cup flour
- Melt cheese and mix in chicken liver.
- Add garlic powder, dog food, and minnows.
- Use flour as needed to thicken.
- Mix all ingredients together in a blender.
In the offseason, we find ourselves craving hunting and doing anything we can to get our fix. Some days that means sitting down and putting on our favorite hunting-themed films, trying to live vicariously through the actors on the screen. Here’s a list of just five of our favorite hunting movies.
The Hunter (2011)This Australian flick revolves around a hunter who heads off to Tasmania to track the last remaining thylacine (also known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf). Martin David (played by William Dafoe) is hired to hunt down the animal for a military biotech company to ensure that no competitors will have its DNA after he acquires it. It’s a thrilling story that’ll capture your attention from the start to finish. Our favorite part is that Dafoe worked with a bush survival expert, learning to descent himself and other survival tips to prepare for the role.
The Deer Hunter (1978)Although this movie mostly takes place during the Vietnam War, it captures the serenity and brilliance of hunting in a unique way. Five friends who enjoy hunting together enlist into the chaotic world of the Vietnam War. Three of the friends (Nick, Steven, and Mike) find themselves together as prisoner of wars and try to deal with the aftermath of the camp and effects of the war overall. It’s the type of movie that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, possibly shedding a tear or two. Although hunting isn’t the main focus of the film, its significance is apparent and its implications appear throughout.
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)Based on the true story of two lions that attacked and killed workers in Kenya while they were building the Uganda-Mombasa Railway, this movie tells an entertaining and at times frightening story. Henry Patterson is brought into the camp to try and kill the lions that are ultimately holding the project back from its completion date. Once there, he sees the havoc these lions are wreaking and works to try and contain the problem without any other casualties.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)A tale of survival that’ll have you on the verge of ditching all your belongings and heading for the nearest mountain with just a single backpack in tow. It has drama, suspense, and—most importantly—hunting! Jeremiah Johnson heads West, seeking solace after the Mexican War where he becomes a full-fledged mountain man. Johnson lives life in the Rocky Mountains as a trapper where he encounters problems, some of which are predictable and others that aren’t.
Into the Wild (2007)Speaking of having predictable and unpredictable issues after venturing into nature, Christopher McCandless comes face-to-face with many problems during his time as Alexander Supertramp. The movie provides a chills inducing story of a recent college graduate with a promising future that decides to donate all his money, destroy his identifying papers, and head for the open road. He encounters issues, but for the most part, the good times outweigh the bad. Until McCandless faces his final struggles in the Alaskan wilderness, that is. Throughout the movie (and book!), McCandless hunts, forages, and does what’s necessary to survive.
Don’t forget to check out our Pocket Ranger Trophy Case® mobile app before hunting season comes ‘round. Happy watching!
Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak
Florida is one of the top fishing destinations in the United States. People flock from all around the country to chase the wide variety of both saltwater and freshwater fish species that our state has to offer, particularly in the summertime. However, upon arrival, a person doesn’t have to look long before they start spotting big offshore fishing boat, flats boats, and bass boats. It’s easy to feel as though there’s no other option for fishing in Florida if you don’t have a boat. However, with the right know-how, a fisherman can easily take advantage of the many boatless angling opportunities here in the Sunshine State this summer.
Wade FishingWhat’s one of the nice things about wade fishing in Florida? You can wear your swimsuit to wade fish almost eight months out of the year. The state has countless opportunities and places for anglers to take a step into the water and immediately begin chasing big fish. Most state parks have easy inshore wade fishing access for places like mangrove creeks and sea grass beds, but obviously not all areas can be wade fished—a combination of oyster bars and chest deep mud usually snuffs that. But even so, there are a wide range of places to choose from (particularly along the Gulf Coast) if you’re looking to get a little wet while you fish. Just remember shoes! Many of the grass beds are home to sea urchins, and that’s the last thing anyone wants buried in their foot.
Beach FishingWhat’s more relaxing than the beach? How about fishing while relaxing at the beach. Beach fishing (or surf fishing) is an extremely easy and fun way to get your fishing fix without ever having to step on a boat. With the exception of the Big Bend and Ten Thousand Islands areas, beach fishing is a perfectly reasonable way to catch a wide variety of fish. Talk to local bait shops and ask what is running in during that time of the year and in that place, and you should be able to get a rough idea of what to expect. Just remember a cooler full of ice and a lawn chair, unless you prefer sitting in the sand.
If you don’t mind fishing alongside other anglers, pier fishing can be an extremely effective method here in Florida. A quick Google search or looking at a satellite image of the coastline will point out the piers—they’re scattered all along our coasts. Do note, however, that just like some state park entrances, getting onto most piers comes with a small entrance fee. Pier fishermen in the Gulf or Atlantic can expect to catch anything from redfish and pompano all the way up to sailfish and tarpon depending on the place and time of the year. Don’t cross off inshore pier fishing, either! Most bridges in the state have been updated in the past few decades and many of their old ancestors have been converted into piers.
Canal/Bank FishingIt’s easy to focus primarily on saltwater fishing when one comes down to Florida. We do, after all, have plenty of it to go around. Freshwater fishing shouldn’t be overlooked, though. In fact, Florida produces some of the biggest largemouth bass in the country. Freshwater fishing without a boat isn’t ideal, but it can definitely be done. Unfortunately in the Northern and Central regions of Florida, freshwater fishing from the shore won’t be too enjoyable. Most lakes or rivers have limited access or small piers. Wade fishing in freshwater isn’t the greatest idea, either, unless you don’t mind getting friendly with our resident alligators. Southern Florida, however, actually does have quite a bit of freshwater fishing access in the form of bank fishing. South Florida is riddled with canal systems that cross the state in almost every direction. Many of these can be accessed right off of the side of the road. Inland canals are home to largemouth, bream, catfish, and even exotic species like cichlids and peacock bass. Canals closer to the coast often get landlocked tarpon and snook as well. It certainly isn’t uncommon to reel in a bass only to catch a snook on the next cast. Just be aware that not all canal levees have public access, but they’re generally well-marked with signage explaining just that. Also note that, however sad it might be, the crime rate in many areas of South Florida is extremely high. When fishing in some of these urban canals, be conscious of your surroundings and be sure to lock your vehicle and hide/remove any valuables from your car while you’re out fishing.
So if you make your way down to hot and sunny Florida this summer and want to fish, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a boat. There are opportunities everywhere around the state to fish without a vessel. Be it fishing in waist deep water for trout or casting for cobia from a pier, anyone can get down to the Sunshine State and still have a great time on foot.
You’ve got your secret fishing spot that no one knows about, your lucky lure and rod are in tow, and the weather is absolutely perfect. There’s only one issue: Which fishing knot do you employ?! Of course there isn’t one type of knot that’s going to be a cure-all for every single fishing situation you find yourself in, but the following three should at least point you in the right direction.
Easy to tie and one of the most popular knots, the Palomar Knot is best when accompanied with braided fishing line and is popular with bass anglers. It’s thought to be one of the strongest knots you can have and is incredibly reliable when battling a particularly stubborn fish.
Here’s how to tie it:
- Double four to six inches of line and bring it through the hook eye.
- Tie an overhand knot and let the hook hang loose. Don’t tighten or twist the line during this step.
- Pull the end of the loop down completely over the hook.
- Moisten the line and tighten by pulling the tag end and holding the line taut. Trim any excess line.
Improved Clinch Knot
Another popular fishing knot, the Improved Clinch Knot is easy to do and is also one of the first knots most anglers learn. This tie is reliable, and if done properly, is sure to hold up in against a big, strong fish.
Here’s how to tie it:
- Bring approximately six inches of the fishing line through the hook eye.
- Double back on the line and twist in five to seven loops.
- Take the line through the original small loop above the eye then bring it through the larger loop that you just made. Don’t let the coils overlap here.
- Moisten the line and pull the tag end and main line so the coiled part tightens against the eye. Trim any excess line.
The Blood Knot
The Blood Knot is different from the previous two knots in that its purpose is to tie two pieces of fishing line together rather than fastening line to hooks or lures. This knot is great for fly-fishing or for using up any excess or broken fishing line. It’s definitely a handy knot to know if you find yourself in a sticky situation!
Here’s how to tie it:
- Face the two lines in opposite directions of one another. Ideally they should be of a similar diameter. Take one of the lines and wrap it around the other three or four times.
- Thread the end of this line through the V-shape that the two lines form.
- Repeat the first two steps with the second line. Make sure the second line end points in the opposite direction of the first line end.
- Moisten the line and pull the standing lines until the knot comes together. Moisten the knot as well to strengthen. Trim any excess line.