Fishing Tips & Tricks Swimbait Mayhem The National Angler

Lure Retrievers, they work!

Lure Retrievers, they work!

Lure retrievers are a necessity that every angler needs. On the boat or the bank, from cheap to expensive lures, this is a must have. If you have one, use it! Lure retrievers can be a pain to use, but will save your gear in damage and complete loss.

I look back at fishing since I was a kid and think about all the lures I could have saved from being lost to snags on the bottom, or how many hooks could have not been bent from me pulling hard. I remember fishing as a kid on my boat. The lake was crystal clear and I lost one of my favorite lures on a log. The lure was in 15 plus feet of water and there was nothing I could do to get it back. Snap! My line broke and the lure will be part of that log for a long time.

It wasn’t till I recently got into throwing big swimbaits that I realized that I needed a lure retriever. When I started buying some of the more expensive lures, I was really hesitant on using them for the fear of losing one or snagging. I watch several people talk about lure retrievers on Facebook groups. I knew I needed one. I just wished I would have remember when I snagged one of my custom swimbaits.

Check out my video on YouTube here 

I want to hear your story, tell me when you should have used one or the big bait you lost! Or, are you still on the fence about getting one? Actually, show everyone your favorite store bought or custom made lure retrievers below or on my Facebook group “SWIMBAIT MAYHEM” 

Semper Fish!

Joe, The National Anglerlure retriever in action

Reviews The National Angler

Wal-Mart EverStart MAXX Battery Review

Wal-Mart EverStart MAXX Battery Review

Wal-Mart EverStart Batteries are a great economical option for anglers at all levels and using all types of boats.

Check out my video review! Click Here!

I’ve always been looking for the best deal on batteries for my boats and I’ve actually been faithful to one battery since my first one. Wal-Mart deep cycle batteries are always affordable, available with great warranties. We all know how easy it is to return something to Wal-Mart so that always helps.

These three particular batteries were bought back in the summer of 2013 and used heavily. I fish trolling motor only lakes predominantly and thus the need for three. I can burn through all three with two trolling motors in about 8 hours of fishing on these lakes.

At the time of this review, I’ve had these batteries almost 4 years and used them heavily. Here is the part I’m not proud of, but glad you can see the quality of these batteries due to my abuse. Now, I could get even more time out of them had I followed proper guide lines for maintenance. But…..things happen.

I left these batteries in the back of my truck during cold and scorching days, and they repeatedly were tossed and bumped around for weeks at a time. Let’s just say, these batteries took a beating. I drained these batteries beyond use on so many occasions I could never keep track of. I consistently brought them home and never charged them until days or the day before a fishing trip.

I did absolutely everything you are not supposed to do to a battery and these batteries have lasted over four years and should go to year five.

If you are in the market for a reasonably priced battery that will last, the Wal-Mart EverStart deep cycle batteries are a great choice. If they can take the abuse I subjected them to and on trolling motor only lakes they will work on any boat.

Please comment and below and let me know your impression and questions.

Semper Fish!

Joe, The National Angler



EverStart Deep Cycle

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Introducing The National Angler “Projects”

A few years ago, I bought my first swimbait and later on, my first 12 in worm for fishing. However, I didn’t have the correct gear to throw such big baits. This year I’ve gotten back into throwing big baits to include swimbaits, glidebaits, big worms, big jigs, well you get the point. I use social media to gain a lot of information when I starting something new. However, the sources of information are lacking and some social media groups are not for beginners. I’ve decided to start a few “Projects” to document how I start something new. 

So what is the “Project”?  It’s just that a project on how I’m starting something new and documenting how I’m getting started. You can learn along the way with me or go back and see how I got started. I’m also going to build a Facebook group specifically for talking about getting started in something new. This Facebook group will cater to those people getting started and I will keep it from getting extremely negative like some groups. 

My first two “Projects” are kind of related. So I will be launching “Project” Swimbait Mayhem and “Project” Big Bait Mayhem. So why two different ones, swimbaits are in their own world while you use the same gear to throw other big baits as well. To me, I think they are different so I will keep them separated. I will only have one Facebook Group and two separate blog section for each. 

Check back soon as I launch both projects. 

Semper Fish,

Joe, The National Angler

Fishing Tips & Tricks Florida Keys Fishing




On my latest trip to the Florida Keys, I wasn’t afforded a lot of time to fish while I was working. I was able to sneak in a few hours after my flight arrived and one late evening after work. I took the lessons from my first trip and put them to work the first day. It resulted in some small fish and even some that I have never seen before. The one thing I was missing was weight to get down and stay down in the currents.

My last night in the Keys I checked out the bridge going from Key West to Fleming Key. You do need a government ID to access this bridge. However, you can use the same technique at the many Key bridges along the way.

One thing I wish I would have changed was heavier and more durable line. The line I was testing out was extremely strong, but it was not very abrasion resistant. So I lost all my lures and all but one fish!

The thing I learned on the final night was getting down deep out in the main current out in front of the bridge. I used 2oz jigs with Z-MAN Diezel Minnowz  and metal blade baits. I hooked up with quite a few fish and broke most off. I was able to land this nice Mangrove Snapper that evening. On a final note, the only saving grace, I brought my new Ardent C-Forcereel. The C-Force has plenty of drag to fight some pretty big saltwater fish!

Blog The National Angler



Fishing Pro Staff

Today, with social media and the internet the average angler can play a huge role in promoting companies without being a tournament angler, having a website, or a tv show. The “Average Joe Fisherman” can now serve a role in a fishing company’s publicity! When it comes to promoting a fishing company there are two types “Sponsored” and “Pro Staff” and they both mean different things.
Actions are also associated with each and help you identify which one you most affiliate with.

SPONSORED usually means that a company is reaching out to you. You have something they want and they are giving you either financial, product or both in return for using and promoting the company. These anglers are well-known tournament anglers or have a unique niche with a huge following.

PRO STAFF means the angler reaches out the company. You want something they have either through being a fan of their product or maybe it’s something new you want to try.

Focusing on the benefits of being a Pro Staff member for a particular company and how it can help you get started working for, supporting, and promoting a company. If you haven’t developed a following or made it big yet on a tournament trail this can be important. Maybe you are just a weekend fisherman and you have a great social media following. Being a Pro Staff can help you out.

Benefits of being a Pro Staff:

  1. Discount on merchandise, I’ve seen on average a company will give you between 30-50% off retail prices for being a Pro Staff. Let’s be honest, if you need help getting started, having this discount can be huge.
  2. Occasionally a company will give you an initial load-out of gear. They might give you a few pieces of merchandise to get you started as a good gesture. Don’t always count on this, though. It also doesn’t hurt to ask either for this if not offered.
  3. Access to the companies social media feeds and followers. Most people starting out may at most have several thousand “likes” or “followers” on any particular social media platform. By using a company and tagging them in the post you access their following for even greater exposure. If you make a great post, picture, or video they may even feature it.

Responsibilities of being a Pro Staff:

  1. Use the products frequently and maximize exposure on your social media. Take great pictures/videos and be honest! Incorporate the logo on the merchandise to make things less tacky.
  2. Learn how to tag the company in any given social media platform, it helps the company and yourself!
  3. Don’t just get something and run, I promise this is a small world and word will get around.

Exclusivity and Pro Staff:
I’m torn when it comes to exclusivity clauses with Pro Staff opportunities. I’m grateful for the opportunity to support a company and receive a discount and potentially some gear to boot. But, the only way I would exclusively promote a company is if a contract was signed and I was paid by the company. If you are ok with exclusively promoting say just one reel company then go for it.
There are some things you can do as a Pro Staff member to help you out when asking for discounts, merchandise or monetary compensation in the future.
Keep track of the following information and build a strong social media presence. 

  1. If you don’t have a website, at least start a Facebook Page to keep track of your post. This also allows you to write short blog posts.
  2. If you are into video getting a cheap action camera and promoting on YouTube and Vimeo is a great idea, plus you can earn a little money on the side as well.
  3. Don’t forget Twitter, Instagram, Fishidy, and Fishbrain as well.
  4. Keep a log of the following information; Posts, Views, Shares, Impressions, and Clicks. This is great info to show a company what you have done for them and the exposure you have created in exchange for your gear or discount. This helps when going back to the table to ask for more.

In the end, being a Pro Staff for a company is a great way of getting started in the fishing industry, I’m currently a Pro Staff for Ardent Outdoors and Rayjus Outdoors.

Ardent Reels

ARDENT is actively seeking Pro Staff! Email me at for more information!

Let me know what you think and if you have questions, please feel free to ask below! Always willing to help out!
Semper Fish!
Joe, The National Angler

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DISCOVER FISHING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET – Local knowledge is KING, and if you don’t have it, this is how you build it.




This article series is dedicated to a fishing friend that helped inspire finding people and fishing information on the internet, Burton “Burt” W. Phelps (June 15, 1942 ~ February 8, 2010). I met Burt in a strange way. Most would think I ran into him through some fishing event, while fishing, bait shop or fishing group. I found Burt on craigslist, YES Craigslist! He had posted an ad in the boating section looking for a fishing partner
. He said he had everything including the fishing information. He just needed someone to drive him that had a boat. I took a chance and emailed Burt and invited him to go with me on the Chesapeake Bay. Little dburtid I know, Burt and I would have quit the adventures that summer. Once out on the water, I quickly realized (me being new to the area) we had no clue how to fish the Chesapeake Bay with light tackle. Through the summOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAer we developed a relationship that will never be forgotten. If I had the information back then that I can find on social media and on the internet today we would have saved so much time and probably been more successful. I was fortunate to have my first summer in Mar
yland to fish with Burt. Sadly that following winter, Burt passed away.








As an Active Duty military member, I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the Western Hemisphere and live on both coasts of the United States .  I would consider myself a multi-species angler who just likes to be outside fishing. Along with growing up in rural Iowa, I’ve experienced some great fishing.  One of the hardest things about moving around after leaving home was finding new fishing spots. At home, you know people and can rely on word of mouth to when and where the fish are hitting. In the world of fishing “local” knowledge is KING, and if you don’t have it, well I’m hoping that my Internet and Social Media article series will help you build it.  

I’m not saying you will catch more fishing, but you will spend less time searching for where to fish. The time saved in the search will mean more time fishing and eventually becoming a seasoned angler with the “local” knowledge.

After leaving home and starting training in Northern California, I began trying to learn to fish on the West Coast. I quickly learned that the techniques from back home would not work in California, nor the ocean. Before the social media and smart-phones, I used bait shop to gather info on fishing hot spots. This first bit of info from the bait shop helped me land my first ever saltwater fish from an ocean. I 13in greenling caught on basically a bottom rig with anchovies and a bass rod.

Back then, I didn’t have a phone that did much but call and text. I didn’t even own a computer and internet wasn’t really a concern like it is today. I did, however, have this handy gadget called a Garmin GPS, that I stuck to my windshield. Because California wasn’t flat and open like Iowa, I used the GPS to find potential locations to fishing locations. I would routinely sit in my car and scan for areas of water that had roads leading up to or near water. I was always on the lookout for small waters like ponds and streams.

Pick a spot on the GPS and drive to it, and potentially fish if it seemed worth a shot. Back then, I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of time that went into checking out all the spots I would find on the GPS. Some would lead to dead ends, others to private property. Eventually, I would always find my way to a new spot. Once you found the spot, it could take some time to figure out if fishing was worthwhile or not. Today I don’t use the Garmin GPS, but I do use Google and Bing maps from my phone or laptop. Doing the research at home saves a tremendous amount of time. Now I can pick the spots I want to drive too.

I would also pick up local fishing guides, which you could find at local tackle shops or retail stores. These guides, usually developed by a local fisherman with local knowledge were great starting points for finding popular spots. In the description, it usually talked about species and techniques used throughout the year. Another form of information were state or region specific fishing magazines and the ones specifically were great sources of info. I couldn’t always remember the information and sometimes the info was just a little too late. So instead of recycling the books and magazines, I would stash them away and make reference to them the following year.

My favorite technique of “dropping in”. “Dropping in” basically means I drive around looking for water access for fishing and I stop and say “HI” and talk to every person I see fishing. People would always share how the fishing was and what they were using and how. After some small talk, I would gather more info and new spots and venture on. I still use this technique today and especially in today’s digital world, just stopping by and saying “HI” goes a long way. 

 Back in 2005, I met Pete and his son while driving up the American River in California. Dropped in to fish next to him to talk, and the conversation led to an exchange of phone numbers and an invite for Salmon fishing FH000021in the next few weeks. Two weeks later Pete called and gave me a location near Sacramento and what fishing tackle to bring. I showed up that Saturday morning to catch my first Salmon, along with a limit and personal best!

Taking all the old techniques to develop the knowledge needed to save time and money, so more time is spent fishing is now replaced with technology and mobility offered through today;s applications on computers and smart-phones. All of these new advances can lead to more time on the water. Everything that took time out driving endlessly can now be accomplished in a matter of hours from home. Downtime at home, during the night or even the off-season, can now be spent researching and preparing for the next year, season, day or trip. Having your homework done beforehand means you can get to the business of catching fish vice searching just for a spot to fish and trying to figure out how to fish the spot.

Now, the internet and social media offer so much information you can develop a plan for the spots Discover Fishing through Social Media and the Internet Infographicyou find on the various maps. Just like I discussed, once you find a spot, then you had to figure out if the spot was productive or not and how to fish it. Today you can find the spot and use social media to discover if the spot is worthwhile. Information from the internet and social media will also help with the time of year, day, weather, tides, and techniques to help you catch more fish and have more time available to fish.

THE GOAL: a dot on the map with picture, season, species, bait and presentation.

The goal of these articles is to complete the following steps in order to start developing local knowledge. This guide will also help you will keeping the information handy and usable for future fishing adventures.  The more information you can find to fill out the checklist below the better.  Sometimes you make find out information a little too late. Keeping track of it this way will help you get ahead of the fishing curve the next year when the weather and seasons are the same again.

Stayed tuned and I will begin posting all this valuable information on how to take advantage of social media and the internet!

Semper Fish!

Joe, The National Angler

Fishing Tips & Tricks The National Angler

Quick Clips – Time Saving Fishing Tip


I recently wrote an article about keeping things simple with a three-rod setup for bass fishing. Now, this may not be applicable to every type of fishing, but it’s the idea behind which is the goal. One thing when I’m fishing from my buddy’s boat or walking the shore of a local pond I can only bring a couple of rods. However, I always desire to constantly switch baits some days, maybe from a jig to top water. It’s the constant tying of knots that can consume your trip. For me, I usually only go out for a couple of hours, especially when walking local ponds. Well sometimes because I’m rushed, I spend an enormous amount of time changing baits and tying knots over and over.

Take a look at professional bass fishing. The pros in today’s tournament trails carry a crazy amount of rods in their boats already rigged up. Sometimes you will see 15 to 20 rods just on the deck and that’s not including what’s packed away in the rod lockers. To the pros, time is money and even thinking about having to re-tie lures is not acceptable. I’m not a tournament guy, but my time fishing is usually precious time away from the family. I don’t want to waste what little time I do get.

As a kid, I always tried to use a snap swivel, but it just never worked out and it was just too much. Plus it was one extra thing to grab more weeds when I was fishing. It just never made sense for me to use that type of terminal tackle when fishing for something other than maybe catfishing.

Plus, growing up as a kid all I ever wanted to do was be a pro in the Bassmaster tournament trail. Pros don’t use snap swivels on crankbaits, jigs, spinner baits, and finesse baits. Again, when money is on the line a person would not want something to mess up the action of the lure. Tying directly to the lure with various knots seems to be preferred.

Today, after a decade in the military and another to go, I want to keep things simple as possible. The aspirations to become a pro angler have gone, but the desire to fish hasn’t and never will change. My biggest focus is making sure my fishing hobby or addiction doesn’t take away from my family. Today my focus is getting more from my time on the water and being productive and keeping it simple not complex.

Like the pro, I want to take advantage of my time. Instead of carrying dozens of rods already rigged I found a piece of terminal tackle that is new to me, and doesn’t seem to be used by too many people. This simple new piece of tackle has really been a game changer for me.

Quick clips, quick snaps, snap (minus the swivel) or whatever you want to call them are a great opportunity to speed up the process of changing lures and saving time on the water. Now some lures, like a spinnerbait with no defined “eye” with just a bent arm. Well, this piece of terminal tackle will just not work that well. Anything with a defined “eye” and you are good to go! Shockingly I’ve heard before you should always tie directly to the lure because it could take away from the action of the lure. Look at most all crankbaits, even those that are $15+, they all have split rings or snaps on them. Well…guess what…these clips essentially do the exact same thing.

So instead of the terminal tackle on the lure is just on the end of your line, no big deal then! Well, maybe to some really picky technical fisherman this won’t work. For me, this is ideal. It may take away a little action on the lure and cause me to not catch a few fish. I’m really ok with that because this one little piece of terminal tackle does one thing, it gives me more time on the water, with the little time I get. That is the most important part of all this, maximizing your time on the water.

I will say that my fishing partner has got hooked on using these things as well. He only brings two rods with us fishing and now he LOVES these little things. We recently fished the lower Susquehanna River on the northern Chesapeake Bay.  We were both swapping out lures to see what was biting. Fish an area, then switch things up, both bass below were as a result of quickly changing lures.

Not all things can be good, and there are a couple of downsides to using these help pieces of terminal tackle. First, they are a little hard to figure out and get used to because of size, and this might cause some distress to those anglers. So the first thing is just getting used to these things, once you do that, you are Go To Go! Second, some eyelets and lure attachments are either too small or just don’t work. I few jigs I tried, didn’t work because the eyelet was too small. Also, a bent arm spinnerbait for example, will also not work because now the clip will slide up and down the arm of the spinnerbait, which is no good. Lastly, and this was kind of a fluke, but I got my brand new $15 Picasso Lures FX Shock Blade wrapped around a try. While pulling on the line to free it, the pressure from being wrapped up must have open the arms of the Norman Speed Clip, and then it happened. In Slooooow motion, my FX Shock Blade floated off the end of the line and plopped in the water, SAD L.  Also the Norman speed clips are a little tricky so with big fingers, cold hands or gloves they are difficult. Also to note are baits that require the angler in inpart an action on a lure to make it do something, like a jerkbait, spook, spoon, etc. These baits and do to the jerking motion tended to get hung up between the split ring and the snap. If you want to stick with the snaps on everything you use, some modification will need to be done, like removing the split ring and attaching the snap directly to the eye of the lure. 

Over a period of a month I’ve had the opportunity to try other clips that I have found mostly at the local Bass Pro, and this is due to the Quick Shot Snap being sold out and the results have generally been the same with all the competitors

My ultimate recommendation would be to go with the Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler Quick Shot Snap, has a slight break-in period to loosen up and worked the best for all types of lures. For smaller lures my choice would be the No-Knot Fas-Snap, it is a little smaller but perfect for tiny jigs or flies.

In the end, whatever you want to tie onto or not, is totally up to you! I hope this maybe makes you think of how to help make things more productive on the water the next time that you are out fishing! If you have any questions or comments, I want to hear from you.

Semper Fish!

Joe, The National Angler

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Fishing for A Cause – Veteran Fishing Opportunities

Fishing has helped me at so many pivotal points in my life from a teenager to a father. It’s the drive that keeps me sane and focused. To help me take care of myself so I can take care of my family and others. The vast array of resources available is pretty incredible, so I ask that you take advantage of those 13383441_1097694116936164_618389675_oopportunities to fish and take someone fishing. The inspiration behind this article is to help veterans find ways to cope and deal with stressors, but in actuality anyone can use this in life to help them stay on track.

13405257_1097680286937547_654635486_oSince that point I’ve used fishing a motivation to help me keep things in-line so that I can always do my job and take care of my family, without it, I would be struggling. Even this very website is helping me ensure I continue to fish.  

Just a few weeks ago I met Justin, a Marine Corp veteran who served two combat tours in Afghanistan and reached out to me for some fishing information. Over the next several days, I really got to know Justin and his stories, from his time in the Marine Corp to fishing. Let me tell you, this guy is an inspiration and the reason behind how this whole article came to. Being Active Duty myself, I completely understand the struggles of working yourself back into a life you had before. I’ve never personally had to live this, but I’ve helped a few people over the past few years.

As I’ve gotten to know Justin and his amazing story, and it truly is amazing! Struggles while deployed, dealing with physical and mental rebuilding, dealing with the VA…. Justin found himself at a point in his life where he needed a change. Instead of going down the wrong path, he fought back as you would expect any Marine to do. Reeling from the effects of combat, Justin has found “FISHING”. Fishing has brought solace to his world and helped him focus and decompress from daily life and the effects of combat.

Fishing is helping him take care of himself, and in turn helps him be an even better father, husband, and friend. One of the things intrigued me was our discussion of his cheat sheets on fishing. Combat effects may have an effect on his memory. However, the problem solving that was instilled in a young Marine in years past can never be taken.  He has learned to adapt to his new world and make things easier. YES, FISHING has helped him use what he already know to develop new tools to adapt.

Many people may not realize this, but through fishing, Justin has developed new skills for his current situation. Something no doctor, therapist, or medication could ever do. Justin has persevered and coped to help himself heal, and he did this with fishing.

Just recently, I had a great talk with Justin and he shared some pictures from his recent weekend camping and fishing. Now, Justin really keeps things simple with camping and fishing and nothing fancy. An amazing Oregon backdrop of snow-capped mountains, stunningly clear lakes, this is truly how an American Veteran takes care of himself. An inflatable pontoon boat, couple rods and the fish he catches, Justin has chosen a new path. Again, it keeps him focused taking care of himself and ultimately his family! His saying when we talk is “the tug [the fish] is the drug.” It is that tug that keeps us going back to the water. 13383603_1097689280269981_1267726163_o

I’m truly thankful for Justin reaching out to me and asking a simple question, which has inspired this. I want to make sure I can reach anyone who may need some help and let them know, they could find what they are looking for in fishing. I’ve put together a resource list of fishing opportunities for veterans to utilize. Maybe this info can reach someone else and inspire them to follow the same path that Justin has and utilize fishing for a new purpose.

In reality, this information goes for everyone, fishing is definitely a way to help with the stressors of life. If you have haven’t served in the military its ok, do you know someone who did; a family member, friend, neighbor, or a co-worker? I hope that maybe this will inspire you to reach out and help someone you know and introduce them to fishing or just get them back involved in the sport.

If you or someone you may know, has a story like Justin’s or another way fishing has helped coped with stressors I would be honored to hear from you! I want to hear your story just like Justin’s! If you would like to share your story below and maybe it will inspire others. Maybe a private conversation is in order, all my contact information can be found below. I challenge you to share this with your friends, family and most importantly a veteran you may know.

I’ve also created a new Facebook group geared towards helping veterans find outdoor resources and link up with others. You don’t have to be a veteran to join, just have the desire to help with fishing information. The Facebook group is called The National Angler to help people connect!

Semper Fish! 

Joe – The National Angler   or on Facebook @thenationalangler


All photos are courtesy of Justin





!!SHARING THE Fishing for A Cause – Veteran Fishing Opportunities ARTICLE WILL GIVE YOU TWO CHANCES AT THE GIVEAWAY!!



20160615_221533 (1)

Included are Strike King Rage Tail Shad and Worm – My current personal favorite soft plastic!

Booyah Boo Rig – For those who can’t use the Alabama Rig 

Booyah Tandem Rig – Great for working in front of a swim bait for and added flash

Yamamoto Ika – This is my finesse hidden gem, love these things

TUF-LINE XP – Best “ROUND” braid money can buy



Here is a list of resources that you can take advantage of. If you are not a veteran, you can always help out one of these great organizations. If you can’t locate one in your area let me know, or maybe an option to get something going.


Veteran Fishing Organization – This is just a list of organization that I have found with the help of my friend GOOGLE.  There is no endorsement for these organizations, just wanted to start a list to help others out. If you find one that is missing, please let me know so I can get this list updated.


Project Healing Waters

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™ is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.

The Wounded Veterans Fishing Program – Washington State Only

Our goal is to provide an alternate means of therapy for our wounded returning from combat with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Physical Disabilities. Give them a stress-free, nonmedical environment to interact with others returning from combat and those with previous combat experiences to increase their moral. Finally to provide them with a tool to reutilize in the future should relapse occur.

The wounded Veterans Fishing Program was created in the beginning of 2009 by VFW Post 318 of Olympia, Washington. Originally the concept was done by 
Danny Gabriel with a few of his fishing friends who felt the need to help American wounded.

Fishing is the most relaxing sport and is a very good way to build a person’s confidence and morale.

Take A Soldier Fishing – Oregon ONLY

We assist communities at large, by offering them the ability to show their support for the troops by sponsoring our Take A Soldier Fishing program. This allows service members to see just how much they are appreciated. For those that serve to support our fishing program, it gives the individual the ability to see how their support makes a profound difference in a service member or veteran’s life by providing a safe and positive outdoor experience.

We strive to show that there are people out there that care, and want to help. By providing these events, we have found they give the soldiers something to look forward to. We have also found that soldiers have also changed their outlook on life – the way they feel about wearing their uniform and a new sense of hope.





Heros On The Water (HOW)

To help warriors relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors.

Let’s Go Fishing

Veterans of all ages, from young men and women who have recently returned from overseas conflicts to those in our greatest generation, deserve our support, appreciation and help.  Sometimes the best help we can give is to offer a moment’s peace or a chance to share a laugh or a memory with others.  Let’s Go Fishing offers veterans the opportunity to put aside thoughts of service if they wish and experience being the recipient of service from all of us.

Banded Brigade Outdoors

A non-profit organization raising money to enable us to take wounded or disabled American veterans, active duty military personnel and their families on hunts and fishing trips around the country

Lone Star Warrior Outdoors

Lone Star Warriors Outdoors (LSWO) was founded by Retired Army and Combat Veteran Chris Gill. Chris has hunted, fished and worked with non-profit organizations offering these outdoor adventures for Wounded Warriors for years. In 2011 we created a program focused on hunting and fishing trying to say thank you to every Wounded Warrior out there. As of 2012 the combined number of combat wounded warriors from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) was over 50,000. This means that there are many Wounded Warriors that have hunted or fished in the past or that have always wanted to hunt or fish and this is their opportunity. It is our goal to get those warriors back out doing what they love and allowing them the time with other combat vets to talk and feel a part of something again, which is why we created Lone Star Warriors Outdoors.

Montana Wounded Warriors

Montana Wounded Warriors was formed to provide residents of the State of Montana, who were wounded as a result of combat service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with high-quality hunting and fishing opportunities in the state of Montana. These veterans must also have received at least a 30% disability rating from the VA. We are based in Columbia Falls, Montana, near Glacier National Park.

Patriot Hunts – North Carolina

Patriot Hunts is dedicated to providing outdoor experiences for our Wounded Warriors, and Gold Star children of fallen heroes. With all of us sportsman and Patriots working together, we truly can make a difference in the life of a soldier who has chosen to lay his life at the altar of freedom on our behalf. These men and women have not only paid a physical and mental price, some have paid the ultimate price, for their fellow man. The cost of freedom is not measured in dollars, and it is paid for by patriots in our armed forces, by their courage, their commitment, and their willingness to stand in harms way for this country.

Patriots and Heros Outdoors – Texas

The primary mission of Patriots and Heroes Outdoors is providing outdoor activities for Purple Heart recipients and military with service-related injuries to show our appreciation of their sacrifice.  Our mission reflects the changing needs of service families and offers a therapeutic break from daily routine for our warriors and their loved ones.

Team River Runner

Team River Runner envisions a national network which creates innovative paddling programs designed to assist with the recovery of those injured while serving our country. Through paddle sports, TRR volunteers and partners provide local communities unique opportunities for the active, safe and positive support of healing service members and their families.

Wounded Warriors In Action (WWIA) – Florida

Established in 2007, the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation (WWIA) is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Apollo Beach Florida. The WWIA is dedicated to serving our nation’s combat wounded, Purple Heart recipients, by providing world-class outdoor sporting activities.

Wounded Warrior Outdoors

Wounded Warrior Outdoors, Inc. is a non-profit organization exclusively founded to provide wounded servicemen and women with therapeutic outdoor adventures across North America. WWO gives deserving Active Duty Warriors in transition the opportunity of a lifetime in the wilderness location of their choice. We call them “Adventures Enabled.” Their adventure could take them bear hunting in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, on alligator hunts or fishing excursions in the Gulf Coast region of Florida or deer hunting in Texas. During their experience, they will participate in therapeutic activities such as backpacking, trail expeditions and numerous social interactions.

Fishing Tips & Tricks Florida Keys Fishing

Shore Fishing the Florida Keys

I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Key West for a work trip and a last minute one at that. So with Key West travel and booking things late, all meant I had to drive from Miami to Key West. It is a 3 plus hour drive depending on traffic, so why not take advantage of the trip to check out the shore fishing on the way down and opportunities to fish from the shore. Now, I’m not going after any trophy fish or highly targeted species, just looking for something to catch after work for some entertainment. Some people might get caught up in the Key West nightlife and the happenings on Duval St. However, I chose to spend my extra time scouting the local fishing scene.

So I should frame this post as what not to do because obviously you will find out I didn’t take the advice of multiple people I talked to. I least I can say I tried something different. Shore fishing the Florida Keys is really simple and try to listen to the advice, that I chose to ignore and you will find success fishing the Keys!
I started the drive down with at stop at the Islamorada World Wide Sportsman or more fondly know as Bass Pro. I was lacking a heavy duty travel rod and the local Bass Pro in Baltimore did not have what I wanted. There I picked up a new Tsunami travel boat rod, and what I great investment that was (review to come!) While there I also took the time to check out the area. This is a great stop to find motivation to fish the shallows of the Keys. The docks surrounding the Bass Pro are covered in HUGE 5-6ft Tarpon, which is lazily cruising around knowing that they are being left alone! That site alone had me all amped up to go fishing.

As I got back to the drive to Key West I made a few stops at various bridges and keys to check things out and see what the locals were catching. It seemed most people were having luck with various grouper, snapper, and barracuda near all the bridges. On the drive down the most notable bridges that seemed to be producing and popular with the locals; Indian Key @ Indian Key Channel, Lower Matecumbe Key @ Channel Two, the bridge between Long Key and Duck Key. If you want to throw a fly a decent place I scoped out was at Bahia Honda State Park. The front side of the island around the beaches and near the bridge, with the right wind, looked so promising for a fly rod. However, the wind was not cooperating with me that day so I moved on. The ranger at the park did tell me when the wind is right, so is the fishing! This is where I ended my day and headed to the hotel as the sun was setting. 
Recommendations for shore fishing the Keys.

Honestly, if you can find a bridge or a spot on the side of the road to fish, you are going to catch “something”! The reoccurring fishing theme for the various bridges was fresh bait, shrimp or squid. I high recommend two rods. One set up with a small jig head and bait it with squid to catch smaller fish. Then throw out the smaller fish on circle hooks to catch something bigger!!!  The best bait to use to avoid the bait stealer is squid and Berkley Gulp. Any shiny baits or lures for barracuda! Small jigs with bait to catch more bait. Then send the smaller bait or the bait you bought farther out to deep water to catch something else. I’m very confident that this info will bring you luck in the Keys, that I on my next trip I promise to follow my own advice and use this info and let everyone know how it works.

While this is a not a complete list of places, it is a start to discover shore fishing the Florida Keys!
Semper Fish!
Joe, The National Angler

Fishing Tips & Tricks

Beginner 3 Rod Setup – How to select your first fishing rods.

Beginner 3 Rod Setup – How to select your first fishing rods. 

When I first started fishing as a kid I wanted to be just like the pros! Heck, I even had my first boat at the age of 13 and used a transom mount trolling motor on the front, just to be cool. I then began to collect every piece of fishing gear I could get my hands on; lures, rods, reels, tackle boxes, etc. I think at one point I had almost 15 random rods and reels. As a kid and would drag every one of them out with me on my adventures. As an adult, I still have a vast array of rods for almost every situation. I have rods for the surf, catfishing, crappie, bass and even fly rods (salt and fresh). I had an aha moment while reading an article about 7 years ago and it was to keep things simple from tackle to rods. When it came to rods it focused on your strengths, and I had three techniques I fished most, finesse, swim jigs, and topwater.

I found that if I had three rods that match my favorite techniques I would save time and room in my boat. I also discovered along the way, that these three rods worked for other situations when needed as well. I started carrying just three rods back in 2009 and have since added a few to a daily arsenal. I have rod holders mounted on my boat and can hold 8 and that is the max I will take. Today I do carry multiple rods, but the base of what I bring is still geared toward the three techniques.

First up, FINESSE FISHING, and what I have is an older Abu Garcia 6’6” Medium Light (ML) spinning rod. The reel varies based on what I’m fishing for. I will say normally I have a reel spooled with 8lb fluorocarbon (sensitivity and sight). If you are starting out and new to fishing really any Medium Light to Medium spinning rod will do. As you advance and get confident to the various techniques of FINESSE Fishing picking rods specifically designed for an application like shaky head and drop shot, will have better performance, but with a higher price tag. So why finesse fishing? Well, it’s simple I fish some highly pressured rivers in lakes that are in and around Washington DC.  The Potomac River and my favorite watershed Rocky Gorge Reservoir get pounded by anglers. I make it a goal to fish behind people and catch what they miss ; ). So finessed fishing is my favorite technique for bass. 

Next, SWIM JIGS, and with this application, I am using another Abu Garcia and more specifically the first Veritas model. It measures 7’6” and is Medium Heavy (MH). In regards to the reel situation, it changes all the time, but I do like a fast retrieve. Faster is better for me because I can always slow things down. The long rod allows me to really chuck a heavy jig out in the water. Along with casting the swim jig, and with the length of the rod I will switch it up from casting, and go straight to flipping and pitching. As far as line goes, I’ll use braid on the Potomac River with all the weeds and switch to fluorocarbon in the local reservoirs that don’t have a lot of heavy cover. This rod can be used for so much more; spinner baits, Carolina rigs, Texas rigs, swim baits, and even catfishing : ). Again, if you are starting out pick something simple and then work your way up. All the major rod manufacturers produce very decent models that start around $40 to $60 and work great. So why swim jigs, we all know bass jigs produce. I just get bored and would rather fish it like a spinnerbait that it. Also, when I’m throwing frogs on the Potomac in the slop and I miss a fish, I quickly follow up with a jig and usually have success!

Last, TOPWATER FISHING, nothing is better than throwing a popper or a frog and watching a bass explode on the lure. When I started out top water fishing especially with a walk the dog lure was always difficult. However, I bought my first Shakespeare Ugly Stick and it was that action that made all the difference is my topwater techniques. The long flex through the entire rod has always helped me impart the best action on a lure, thus producing more fish on the end of the line. I have switched and now use s-glass rods and are usually sold as “Crankbait Rods”. The first two rods mentioned are usually made of carbon or graphite or a combination of. The one I use now is Wright & McGill Skeet Reese S-glass crankbait rod and measures 7ft. Sold as a crankbait rod, this works great for me as a topwater rod as well. It’s the long bend in the rod  and that is the reason I like them so much. 

As a side note for those anglers who are not yet comfortable with baitcasting reels. It’s really OK to use a spincast reel. Heck I still have my first Zebco 33 that was passed down from my Great Uncle and is probably from the 70’s. Honestly, there are some really nice spincast reels out there today, to get you started. 
That rounds out the baseline for the rods that I use when fishing. It’s geared towards bass mostly, but I still use those rods for other fishing methods as well. When starting out fishing, I would try to really keep things simple, until you get the hang of things and want to venture into more technique specific and higher priced rods.
Selecting Fishing Rods
If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! Email or check out on Social Media!
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Semper Fish!
Joe, The National Angler