The Studious Outdoorsman

by Timothy

Most if not all outdoorsmen employ self-teaching at one point or another for the simple reason that there are not readily available classes that coincide with the space in busy schedules. For most people, the outdoors is a wholesome hobby and not a job title. At least that statement is true enough for me especially given that I am a young man. With a lot to know, more to learn, and a filled schedule holding you back from your next adventure, what options are there for pursuing outdoor arts?


The man left from around his parked car and sauntered along, parallel to the meandering river that his eyes traced patiently. They paused upon the water’s gentle countenance, the air damp and wet in the cold, the ducks that hobbled slowly along the dune-shaped shoreline, the water that pulled from his soul the fear and worry he had felt moments ago.

Though fishing this water was entirely new to him, he had studied its curves and pools for days, scouting out the features that slowed the ceaseless current in the hopes of discovering what lay finning lazily within it.

His walking had revealed to him the small set of falls his eyes set upon as a prime spot for a large trout to drift. The water down from him was on the outskirts of the main water column and swirled lazily.

‘The eddy,’ he thought to himself.

The fisherman left his gear bag and crouched forward to sneak next to the river. Choice lures prepped on a cotton patch attached to his vest and his rod well-oiled and re-spooled with fresh line, the fisherman had the utmost confidence in his gear.

Tying on a lure using a loop knot for maximum movement in the water column, he cast up from his slight downstream position to get the longest drift possible.

After a few tries he’d switch retrieve style or lure until he was down to his last one; a silver 1/8th ounce kastmaster.

‘One more,’ he thought sadly, ‘There has to be a fish in these waters.’

The line arced out over the foamy mess below and splashed neatly into the center of the eddy.
Almost immediately, there was a jarring yanking of the rod and a moment after, the fisherman held up proudly the fruits of his labor. A perfect eating-sized rainbow trout with the still shining spoon in the corner of its mouth.

Now, how is it we can learn something from this story? Let me impart upon you a word of advice a close friend recently gave to me. He told me that, “We do what we have to do now to do what we want to do later.”

The main character in this story spent his downtime cleaning rods, choosing lures, prepping gear, and went so far as to scout out the water he hoped to fish using google maps. The fisherman studied. He studied knots and lures and water and river and he got an A for it.

It is important that an outdoorsman remain sharp and knowledgeable about his or her craft whether in or out of the field. Honing one’s skills on a computer or a floor at home, will pay off later when the knowledge must be used.

That is the importance of a studious outdoorsman. And frankly, it’s studying that I don’t mind doing.

True Food

by Timothy,

The morning sun filters in through my closed tent flap and gently wakes me. My eyes open to the glow and immediately I feel the chill in the air. Although hot elsewhere, the mountains still retain a measure of the cold easily felt in the first rays of the morning sun. Before the sunlight lifts the cool veil, I shrug off the confines of the sleeping bag and step out into the day.

My first, long exhale plumes into a white cloud before me and withers away as I step through it to stoke the morning fire. Brought to life by a shower of sparks, the flame licks at the damp wood and curls back the bark. Allowing myself small moments to tune in to the subtleties around me is one of my favorite aspects of camping. The little things tend to be the easiest to remember.

The fire’s crackle is a soundtrack as I proceed to assemble my gear for the morning activities. Rods, reels, baits, and bags are corralled into a pile and wait patiently until I smother the fire. Its smoke swirls up through the pine trees and wafts through the air mingling with other woodsy scents. The important bags are donned, rods gripped in one hand, and the camera hangs from my neck eager to immortalize these moments in voiceless pictures.

My walk begins. The hunt for breakfast is afoot.

Taking my time to the lake, my eyes dart constantly between forest and floor, the former glance in search of a break in the trees, and the latter making note of my sure-footing. The gear around me rattles and claps with each step. Small hops dropping the heavy backpack down upon my shoulders as the campfire scent lingers further and further behind me.

The crunch of gravel greets me upon my arrival at the pristine lake, nestled in a mountain basin.

Although the sun has not yet crested the mountain tops, I can just barely see the dark silhouettes of cruising trout. Nearer the water, the plucking of rising fish is a strum on my instincts and my hands begin to work, tie, and cast a rod into the depths. The water is clear enough for me to watch the worm, sourced from beneath damp rocks, sink ever so slowly, its ends twirling tantalizingly in the new aquatic realm.

I settle in and wait.

The subtle thrum of my heart slows and the breaths I take are deep and full.

Sunlight pierces the water and the click of my shutter is the single disturbance to the picturesque morning.

The fervent bouncing of a rod tip commands my attention and as the sun raises higher, the silver, frantic flash of my prey shines in the water. The pumping reminds me of my heartbeat that was felt just moments before.

I land the creature and end its life with sharp taps from a stick, breaking the spine to show it a quick and merciful death. My breath plumes again as a sigh of respect escapes my lips.

The gear is stowed away and I begin the trek back through the woods. I follow the deepening scent of wood smoke and begin the transformation from hunter to cook. My mind stays focused yet the task and manner is different. Where once my goal was primal, an urge to kill, the urge is now to feast, to cook, to transform my energy spent into energy consumed. The sun stretches our shadows as hunter carries prey.

Upon my arrival the fire is stoked to a raging inferno and a mountain of embers are born. The fish is set nearby and begins the transformation between raw and cooked.

At first, the stench of the fish is akin to algae and mud, something not wholly appetizing. Its slime dries and adheres to the skin while the eyes grow cloudy. As time continues however, the scent becomes meaty and pleasing. The mouth waters as the skin crackles open revealing succulent, steaming flesh.

Breakfast, no longer trout, is removed from the coals and set on a plate.

Bones are fed to the fire, skin is fed to the dog, and meat is consumed, proudly, by me. The meat was taken respectfully in the most intimate of pursuits. Not a bit is wasted and as the day truly starts, every spark of the energy will be put to good use.

Starting my day like this means I have a greater respect for myself and the food I eat.

Most people never form the understanding of where and how their food actually comes from. They have no relationship with real food. Because of this it’s fair to say that hunters and fisherman have more than hobbies; they have a way of life.

Simrad GO5 XSE - Advanced Kayak Fishfinder

The Simrad GO5 XSE is an advanced sonar system for small watercraft which incorporates navigation, fish finding and obstacle avoidance in a single unit. It is in effect a device which gives any boat an understanding of the underwater environment previously reserved for large naval vessels with complex sonar arrays. With the Simrad GO5 XSE, any bass boat or kayak can have a complete map of what is in the water below, including the presence or absence of marine life. This makes the Simrad GO5 XSE a must-have for those traveling in unfamiliar waters, or waters with a high degree of underwater sediment movement.

The Simrad GO5 XSE is built around an advanced combination of sensors which combines the GPS and sonar readings to confirm not only a vessel's location but the likely and actual conditions under the water. This enables captains to pilot their vessels in shallow or untested waters easily, with the five-inch screen giving them a clear display of where they are and if there are any hazards they should be aware of. Proposed routes can be planned, and the computer can even calculate the best, fastest and safest routes between two points. The display is fully customizable, and the layout can be changed or adjusted to ignore irrelevant data or provide the user with additional displays. This ensures that its use can be changed or customized over time, for example enabling it to serve as a navigation aid on the way to a likely fishing spot, then used to determine the presence or absence of fish upon arrival.

The Simrad GO5 XSE is capable of updating using any standard Wi-Fi connection, and can thus be pre-loaded with the latest map and navigational information before heading out. Additionally, if wireless internet can be obtained via the cellular network or satellite communications, the Simrad GO5 XSE can be continuously updated while the voyage is underway. Proposed routes can be plotted out, with the system assisting any vessel pilot in navigation by suggesting headings and changes in heading in light of conditions, as well as warning of underwater hazards. This not only ensures faster transits to and from established points, but it also helps ensure that the transit is safer, with known hazards being avoided, and approaching hazards being warned of.

The system does all this by using a variety of sonar systems, all transmitted through transducers attached to the underside of the boat. The first is the ForwardScan forward facing sonar, which scans the area in front of the vessel, looking for approaching hazards. This combines with a downward-facing SideScan and DownScan Imaging to look for potential hazards to the sides and beneath the vessel, and also inform the user as to the nature of the underwater structures. Finally, the Broadband Sounder CHIRP sonar can detect the presence of free-floating or otherwise non-structural objects beneath the vessel, most notably schools of fish, or individual fish of significant size.

Additionally, the Simrad GO5 XSE is NMEA 2000 compatible, which means that it will be able to serve as an interface for compatible onboard sound systems as well as display pertinent engine information. Most importantly, engine information can be fed in while underway, enabling the operator to be instantly alerted in the event of oil pressure, fuel or other problems. This can enable the Simrad GO5 XSE to basically serve as a ship's computer, controlling and providing information about much of a vessel's electronics, without the need for the purchase of additional machines.

However, the GO5 XSE does have some limitations. The primary downside of the Simrad GO5 XSE is that, in order to achieve its full functionality, it is necessary to buy multiple compatible transducers. While some multi-function transducers are available, in general, they can only function as one type of sonar at a time, limiting the functionality of the device. Additionally, at only five inches, the screen may prove to be rather small for some, especially when mounted in larger vessels. This is compounded by the rather low resolution 800x480 pixel screen, which seems outdated in an era when even entry-level smartphones have 720P displays.

Still, the Simrad GO5 XSE, when paired with the proper transducers and securely mounted, is capable of providing an incredible amount of useful information to any boat operator. From current underwater conditions to the presence or absence of fish, it is a digital eye for pilots who want to get where they are going quickly and safely. Its small size, while inconvenient on large vessels with plenty of room, does mean that it can be mounted on very small craft. As such, it's an ideal accessory for small boats and kayaks.

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