August 03, 2022
Correct fish handling is important and to me, it means that we have to be aware of our impact on the environment. It translates to our conscious efforts in protecting our fisheries and wildlife and ensuring that we educate others and our younger generations.
I will tell you that, having been a full-time fly-fishing guide, videographer, and photographer for over 12 years now, my whole life revolves around the water and what lives in it. Not only do a I make a living out of it, but the more time I spend out on the water, the more I realize that we have to make sure that we do whatever is necessary, so future generations can also enjoy our waters and this sport that we love so much.
I believe it is so important that we get this message across in a positive manner. Focusing on the negativity will not help us educate and inform people.
It is very difficult to deny that the classic ‘grip-and-grin’ is still one of the most effective methods to showcase clients’ or your own trophy fish. Therefore, I believe that it will be hard to completely stop doing so. More importantly, I believe it is of paramount importance to instead educate anglers on handling the fish in the correct manner.
For example, I always explain to my clients, that they must understand that this fish has been fighting for its life and keeping it out of the water for too long is like me sticking your head under water after running a marathon.
So, the most effective way I have my clients hold the fish is by instructing them to hold their breath as they pick the fish up and when they need to breathe, they then realize that they should give the fish a breather as well.
The key points to remember when getting ready for your ‘grip-and-grin’ is:
- Making sure this fish is wet at all times
- Ensure the fish has time to breathe
- Hold your breath while taking your photo
In saying this, we also have to consider it from a photographer and videographers’ point of view. We use our medium to share these incredible places with others and by doing this we are able to create awareness. Also considering the advantages that social media has to offer, we are able to bring this awareness to a wider audience. Luckily, by using social media, we are not just able to educate but also, almost immediately, advise someone who is not following the right procedures and help them.
There has also been a movement in the industry towards getting more creative angles; for example, where the fish is still in the water.
At the end of the day, we all will benefit, and we need to drive that understanding through so that we all know that if we just do our little part, we can have a huge influence and bring about transformation.
As I said before, not only will we be the ones that benefit, but it will benefit future generations to enjoy the wonders that nature has to offer.
If we damage a fishery by either killing or catching too many fish, we may cause fish populations to shrink significantly or even collapse and in so doing, disrupting the entire food chain.
Oceans and river systems are the largest ecosystems on Earth, generating more than half of the oxygen people breathe, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and helping reduce the impact of climate change.
I could go on and on, yet the basic and most obvious answer is… to survive.
August 18, 2021
- Planting a tree for every new, active user in partnership with Trees for the Future.
- The commitment to be carbon neutral with certification from Climate Neutral, reducing the company’s carbon footprint. That also works with brands like REI, Ministry of Supply, and Allbirds.
- Giving a full annual scholarship to the University of Minnesota to a disadvantaged student and launching a new national scholarship.
- Providing free financial literacy and needed tools via Sezzle U.
- Creating a non-profit fund to support causes as they arise that are in line with the company’s social mission.
June 03, 2021
By: Jako Lucas
Traveling to some of the most amazing places in the world has enabled me to test any product I use to the maximum of its ability. With the amount of traveling it takes to reach some of these, often remote, places it is of the utmost importance to make sure that you are as comfortable and protected as possible.
Therefore, as a professional guide and international fly fisherman, I am very selective and proud to represent companies that I can truly rely on, not only in the field, but at home as well. They are truly the best of the best, and the one thing that I really appreciate about all of them is that they always ask and seem to value my honest feedback on all of the products that I use. I am really fortunate to have these amazing brands support me and having them really look after all of my needs, is just an honor.
This could possibly be one of the most important pieces of equipment you can never go without. We have only one set of eyes and we have to look after them. 90% of my guiding and fishing is sight fishing. Whether I am just walking outside at home, driving or fishing, I always have a pair of Costa shades on! My Costa’s are a good shape for my face, which means it does not allow light to come in from the sides allowing me to better sight fish, drive, etc. I do prefer to use green mirror, amber lenses most of the time. It is good for all kinds of light conditions if you only want to get one pair.
Fishing has a lot to do with confidence and when you are not wearing the right gear it will hinder your experience and you might sustain an injury, as well as having wasted a lot of time and energy getting to these locations only to get there and be uncomfortable etc. Protecting our skin against harmful UV rays, UV protection has also become the go to element in fishing clothing. Because we are spending most of our time on a fishing trip in and around water, it is also very important that the clothing is able to dry quickly. Dagon Apparel is designed by people like myself who are on location, and this means the clothing and accessories are tried and tested – and only the best is put through to be used by us.
Whether you are fishing in icy cold conditioning or in particular tropical conditions, it is always extremely important to remember to stay hydrated. I have seen it countless times, when clients get fish fever and forget about doing anything else. Heck it has even happened to me. This usually happens on the first day of a trip. If you get dehydrated or sun stroke, you will end up missing a day or more of fishing on your trip. Rehydrate or an Electrolyte drink is always something that comes in handy. With all the traveling and fishing it is always easy to forget to hydrate. It is very easy to get some good outdoor products for a company like MTN Ops, to make sure you get your electrolytes and any other tips of energy sources needed.
As a guide, videographer and photographer, this is something I can also not go without especially, when I am guiding and fishing. I always have a bunch of camera gear with me when I am on the water and I have also lost many cameras due to non-waterproof bags. Yeti’s Panga 28 Back Pack is the ultimate. And it is made from super durable material. I have even used this bag to swim across channels in the Seychelles. The best thing about the bag is you can double back it as your traveling carry-on luggage to hold your laptop and the rest of your carry-on items, and of course to keep everything dry.
Everyone that knows me, has guided or fished with me, knows that I love chocolates and beef jerky/Biltong. So here is a suggestion from me, whether you like it or not always take it on a trip with you. There have been countless times where I have traveled to a destination, and end up sharing my last ration, because no one else brought any of these delicious treats. It ranks right up there with the age old… taking your wife/girlfriend out to dinner, she orders a salad yet she keeps leaning over and nibbling most of your fries, it is just not cool. Therefore, it is best to always take a little bit extra and then everyone can share without that feeling of ninja chopping someone’s fingers off your stash! It will also help when you travel all over the world, I have seen so many clients that don't eat much on location because they are not used to the local cuisine.
February 09, 2021
As a Texas-based company, it's important to us to support our local businesses, parks, and wildlife. Which is why we're excited to announce that a portion of all online profits from 2021 will be donated to Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation!
Since 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) has invested more than $205 million to conserve our state's wildlife, habitat and natural resources. Here is some of the impact TPWF is making across our state to transform Texas, both now and for future generations:
- Conserving sensitive coastal habitats: TPWF is permanently conserving tidal flats, seagrass beds, and oyster reefs through the acquisition of over 6,100 acres on Matagorda Peninsula.
- Restoring vanishing grassland habitat: Within the last year, TPWF has restored over 10,000 acres of Texas' vanishing grassland habitat for quail and other species.
- Helping bring Palo Pinto Mountains State Park to life: TPWF is raising up to $9 million dollars to support the opening of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. Located on nearly 5,000 acres just west of DFW, Palo Pinto will be the first new state park in North Texas in 25 years.
- Advancing the capabilities of Texas Game Wardens: TPWF has invested more than $1.7 million in specialty equipment for Texas Game Wardens, ranging from night vision to swift-water rescue boats through the Gear Up for Game Wardens program.
Learn more about TPWF's work by visiting www.TPWF.org
June 01, 2020 3 Comments
"Take care of our lakes and waterways, as we are merely borrowing them from our children''. As not only a full time fishing and hunting guide, but a father, I find this quote replaying over and over in my head as I go throughout my day pursuing my career and passion in the outdoors. I am even more fortunate to have grown up in and now have my own family who has instilled this passion and most importantly supported this career I've chosen to lead.
I was fortunate enough to have 2 grandfathers and a father who carried me along with them throughout my young life on their annual hunting trips to their deer leases in the Texas Hill Country or fishing trips to Texas coastal towns like Port O' Connor and Matagorda. It was somewhere during these trips that I developed a love for the outdoors, like they had. Pair that love of the outdoors with a personality, who as my grandmother said, "could make friends with a fencepost but argue with a stop sign", it became obvious as I got older and went off to college, a career working with people in the outdoors was meant to be.
Though both grandfathers have since passed on and I've moved nearly 250 miles away from my parents to the deep South Texas Coastal Brush Country, their words and teachings still ring in my head throughout my daily life as I have become a father myself to an 8 year old who's personality and stubborn nature rivals only that of her father. I have started reminiscing about some of the hunting or fishing trips I was fortunate enough to get carried along with as a child by my grandfathers and father. Doing things like, sitting in a deer blind in the Texas Hill Country during below freezing temperatures of the Y2K scare, taking a float plane to a chain of barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana for a 3 day fishing excursion, or catching big trout and redfish up and down the Texas Coast. All of these experiences as a youth have molded and developed my passion for what I do today, and for that I am forever grateful.
The demands of being a full-time guide sometime cause me to neglect moments and opportunities to spend as much time with my daughter as I'd prefer, but as she's gotten older, I have tried to carve out more time to start doing what my father and grandfather's did for me, introducing her to the experiences of the outdoors and nature that we have at our dispose living in the great state of Texas. A recent trip to the magical waters of Baffin Bay is one I hope she never forgets; I know I never will.
My buddy William and I decided we were going to take our respective kids on a relaxing shoreline fishing trip to Baffin Bay one evening after work to try to have our kid's catch their first redfish. Our wives packed a cooler of snacks and drinks for the kids while the William and I packed our own "adult cooler" to occupy our time sitting on the back of the flat-bed truck while the kids played and we waited on a fish to swim by and pick up the cut mullet we had put on the bottom with one of the 5 rods we had strung out along the shoreline. As the kids played and the dads tilted a few pops back and the evening wore on with the only excitement being a few Hardheads taking the bait, but as the sun sunk and hit the horizon and the stiff southeasterly breeze started to subside, a rod doubles over and the drag starts singing, this was no Hardhead.... Aubrey, my daughter, had drawn the first big fish and the fight was on. After about 5 minutes she landed her first Redfish, a perfect 24" slot red. After a few pictures and high-fives the kids went back to playing in the shallow tide pool nearby when another rod went off. It was Miles' turn, William's son, to grab the rod and catch a fish. It was a nearly identical Redfish to Aubrey's previous fish. Now both dads are pumped, the trip was not in vain and whatever happened next was just icing on the cake.
As the sun sank below the horizon and day was starting to turn to evening, the far rod on the shoreline doubled over and the rebar rod-holder that was jammed into the mud was almost donated to the depths of Baffin Bay. If an NFL scout would have had his stop watch on us as we sprinted towards the rod, I have no doubt we would have been clocked in the sub 4.4's. William got to the rod first, set the hook, handed it to Aubrey, and the fight was on. The next 30 minutes were something I will never forget, and I hope she won't either. As the drag from that old Shimano reel whined, Aubrey fought the Baffin monster, taking every trick this old beast had up his sleeve throughout the fight. While this bull red was giving her all they could handle we noticed one of the other rods doubled over also, DOUBLE HOOK UP! Miles' was up on the other rod while Aubrey had her hands full with her Baffin giant. Both kids struggled and reeled, battling these over-sized bruisers all by themselves until both fish had enough and hit the shoreline. Both of these Redfish measured over the 45" mark and to this day, I don't know who was more pumped up, the kids or the dads!! After multiple pictures, both fish were released to fight another day, and we packed up our gear and headed for home. The near hour long drive back home through the ranch to the house was filled with laughter, song, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until the back seat went quiet and both kids were sound asleep, sawing logs.
As a guide, I have been a part of a lot of my client’s most memorable hunting or fishing experiences, and seeing the unmistakable joy on their faces is worth more than any financial tip could ever be, but on the other hand, the job can be extremely stressful for the guide when you are expected to produce every time out. As I think back to the trips years ago with my grandfather's and father, I can recall memorable trips we had hunting or catching big fish. I can also recall trips that were cut short by technical problems along the way as well as many trips when we came home empty handed and our tails tucked between our legs. They are what made me who I am today. It was a day where we were just father and daughter or father and son just hanging out having fun fishing and it turned out to be a truly unbelievable experience. I hope that as time goes on, Aubrey and I will share many more experiences in the outdoors, and I pray that one day when she’s older, she’ll look back and smile remembering these precious times we get to spend in the outdoors with our family.
- Capt. Wiley Crowson
April 01, 2020
In 2019 I went on a hosted trip to the Bolivina and Amazonian Jungle. After a very successful time in Bolivia catching some monster Dorado, huge fruit eating Pacu, we headed out to the Amazon. This would be my first time hunting Arapaima with the Untamed Angling crew at their Pirarucu Lodge. For those of you that don’t know Arapaima, it is the largest scaled fish on the planet, known to grow up to 400lbs. We had 4 days to get the job done.
The first day started off pretty tough and I could not get a single fish to go for my fly. We saw hundreds of them gulping air. Fun fact, 80% of the oxygen that a Arapaima gets is from breathing air. So visually you see these huge fish rolling around you, all while trying to stay focused on the eat and make sure you set the hook as hard as humanly possible.
Back to the story and my mind was wondering, thinking, “will I ever be able to connect to one of the jungle fish.” All of a sudden right next to the boat, I had a super solid eat. I was not even able to set the hook properly as the fish just took off and greyhounding away from me. Twice it cleared the water, with a full breach. It was impossibly big. I know I was on borrowed time as I did not set the hook properly or as Raphael would say, “Jujitsu Set”. We worked our way to the bank, to try and land the fish. There was no way we would be able to bring it close to the boat. I fully locked the drag, in order to break the fish’s spirit and get it in quick enough to have a good release. With a bit of luck, dodging 5 cayman, the guide Andre managed to get hold of the beast. We were stunned, it measured out just short of 8 feet and after a few calculations, weighted in at over 322lbs. All this on a little fly rod. She swam away strong, doing one last angry jump as she swam away.
March 03, 2020
I have been lucky enough to spend a big part of my guiding career in the Seychelles. The more time I spend at other places in the world, the more I realize how amazing this place is, truly a fly fisherman's heaven. Most of my time spent out there, I was guiding, but this time I was fortunate to go on a Yeti Ambassadors trip, with Alphonse Fishing Company to Cosmoledo. Cosmoledo is known as the GT capital of the world. The weather was not on our side, making sight fishing conditions very hard. We did, however, catch some amazing fish…GT’s, Permit, Triggerfish, Grouper, Snapper and the list goes on.
Probably one of the most memorable fish of this trip was a Giant Barracuda that I managed to catch on a popper. We were doing some wind drifts on the skiff, looking for GT’s. We had landed a couple of smaller fish, but still looking for a giant. All of a sudden, I heard Cameron Musgrave (Cosmo Head Guide) shout, “Massive Geet, 11 O’Clock”. I was lucky enough to place the cast a few feet in the path of the fish, one pop and BAM. The fish smoked the popper and to our amazement immediately jumped 6 feet out of the water. We immediately knew that it was a massive Barracuda. It continued to jump several times. We knew that I was on borrowed time, only having a straight Fluorocarbon leader and the Barracuda will bite through the line with its razor-sharp teeth. But it stayed on.
When the fish came closer, we noticed that it was not along and there as a huge GT trying to rip the fly away from the Barracuda. It even bit it around the body. My good friend David Mangum was ready and made the cast. The GT was too smart and after one attempt at eating the fly, it knew it was not what he was looking for. A few minutes later we managed to land a personal best Barracuda for me. After a quick photo we sent the beast back home to grow even bigger and harass little baitfish for a few more years.