Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter Largemouth - What you really need to know

Largemouth Bass
In southeastern NC it appears we have been dealing with the coldest winter we have seen in thirty years.  According to any weather bulletin I have seen regarding the other parts of this great country....North Carolina is not alone.  This past week, Mother Nature has been showcasing her sense of humor here in my home state.  We have gone from temperatures in the 30's to a few days of the high 60's and mid 70's.  It now appears that we will be back in the 40's later this week.  For those of us who love the outdoors, there are two thoughts that flash into our mind when these "warm spells" take place: turkeys and largemouth bass.  I find myself facing he age old dilemma of scouting verses fishing. Typically, what I find myself doing is a combination of the two.  I will scout at first light in the coolness of the morning, and then head toward the water to pursue the  largemouth.  It is important to realize that this time of year, these rulers of the lake are very lethargic; this makes sense though, due to the fact they are cold blooded creatures.  Ronnie Garrison had this to say in his post on About.com: "Since bass are cold blooded, their bodies are the temperature of the water.  Their activities are controlled be the temperature.  The colder the water, the slower their hearts beat, the less oxygen and food they need, and the less they move.  Everything about them slows down." Does this not make perfect sense?  In order to make this short warm spell productive, you must understand how to approach this fish....otherwise you may be wasting your time.


Cypress tree on drop-off in Jones Lake, NC
As water temperatures drop, so do the bass. They will go into deeper water near structure.  Remember that just because the air temperature has risen 40 degrees in twenty-four hours the water temperature will take many weeks, if not months, of consistent warm air in order to rise.  I begin my search looking for structure and ledges in the body of water I am fishing.  I try to position myself on these structure laden ledges or steep drop offs that are located closest to the shallows where the bass typically spawn.  As the water temperature rises, the bass become extremely aggressive in the pursuit of forage.  However, right now, they are waiting persistently for their meal to come to them.  Structure, in any water system, generally holds the life of that system.  Whether fresh or salt water, bait fish are typically found in very close relation to structure.  The bass, knowing this, will lay still waiting for smaller, less challenging prey to come within very close proximity.  Since the metabolism is as low as it will be for the entire year, they can feed less and survive on little.  In the colder temperatures, it can take a bass up to 48 hours to digest a small bait fish that in warmer months can be digested in as little as six.

Location tip:  Concentrate your efforts on deeper drop-offs with structure (rocks, stumps, trees, root systems) located closest to an area that bass typically spawn.


Jigging Spoon
Would it not be great If I could relay to you one "sure fire" bait that is guaranteed to catch largemouth bass this time of year? Truth is, I cannot and I know of no one who actually can.  What I can do, however, is share with you what seems to create a higher percentage of strikes andhook-ups than any other bait I have tried this time of year.  Let me add, I have caught bass on soft plastics, crankbaits, and live bait in these tempertures, but most of my success has come from jigging.  The best set-up I have found is a 6' medium-heavy spinning rod with  10lb braided line jigging a 3/8 to 1 ounce silver jigging spoon.  The beauty of jigging spoons is that it truly mimics an injured or frightened minnow.  Largemouth will typically suck these in as they are falling.  Remember they are slow and very sluggish this time of year.  They will strike injured or weak forage that is nearby.

Bait Tip:  Jig slower than you really want to fish.  It is important that you make your presentation appear to be very natural.  You will not get strikes on every cast, however, when you find the fish...you will get results.

I greatly appreciate your follow and for taking your time to read this post.  If you have questions, comments, or have tips that you have used in cold water bass fishing - I would enjoy reading them.

Best of luck,

r.b. wright

Wild Turkey – The Hunt starts now

To the non-hunter, the word turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving Dinner. To the hunter the word is synonymous with words like “challenge”, “wary”, and “adrenaline”. For most of us who hunt "Wild Turkey", we have begun crossing out the days on our calendars eagerly awaiting the season opener as a child awaits a visit from Santa Clause. This post is designed to serve as a reminder that the act of pulling the trigger on this wary creature is actually the culmination of many days of preparation….the actual hunt begins now.

Deer Season is over yet many of us spend time in rummaging through the woods looking for sheds that have fallen from the bucks we hunted this past year and look forward to hunting in the upcoming season. While granted, this is the best opportunity to scout for next deer season it is also a prime time to scout for turkeys - so why not multi-task? Remember though, that turkeys do travel into different areas in the spring – so do not expect the area that you see a huge flock now to hold that same flock when the season comes in. This is the opportunity to begin to see where and how they are moving. The final scouting you do for blind placement should begin about 3-4 weeks prior to your opening day. Where I hunt in southeastern NC, the opener is April 15th. As a result, I scout now looking for flocks. I begin honing in on my blind placement around the end of March.

What I am looking for?

Tracks – The track of the turkey is unique and you can gauge a lot about a bird’s size and gender by studying the track. If you come across a turkey track that is 4 1/2” or longer, you are looking at the track of a gobbler. Hens typically will leave tracks that are 3 ½” or less. As the season approaches, pay special attention to the area outside the track. When a gobbler struts, their wingtips generally drag the ground leaving lines in the sand….again another sign that you are on the right “track”.
Large Tom

Smaller bird - probably hen


Droppings This is the one time that your mother would understand why you are studying the “poop”. When determining the sex of the bird you are tracking, the droppings are vitally important. Note that hen droppings are generally looped or spiraled – typically the diameter is less than 5/16”. A Jake is slightly larger around 3/8” and Toms closer to ½”. Also note that the droppings of male birds are relatively straight or may have a slight hook.
Gobbler droppings

Hen droppings

Where do I look? -  The area I hunt is a two mile stretch on the banks of the Black River in southeastern NC. I found over the years that while I may discover turkeys on the “high ground” I generally find them roosting near or above the water. The only explanation that I could derive from the years I have been hunting here is that this allowed them further protection from predators. They do roam a big area, but they typically are roosting over the slews of the river. I also must add that I have heard many “ole timers” state that turkeys will not fly across water. Being that this is what I have always heard, I always believed it. That is until I had a gobbler fly over the river to a flock of hens I was watching. These birds are wary, however, they will fly across water.

When trying to find the Toms, I would suggest thinking like a hen. If you find the hens, I assure that there is a Tom nearby. If you find one … you will find the other.

Take notes - I like to go to my local drug store or office supply store and purchase a five pack of what I call “mini-composition” books. These are generally small enough to fit into my back pocket. I make field notes of where I am seeing the birds on each of my scouting trips. (I also keep one for deer and will generally have both of these on me at all times while in the field) I try to write down everything I can. It truly helps with the mental recollection of details…when you compare notes you sometimes find remarkable similarities with habitat and will begin to make your scouting more profitable.

Final Preparation - The final steps I would recommend is to begin fine tuning your calling skills now. This is something that you do not need to wait until the night before the hunt to perfect … it will not happen. I also recommend taking the time to pattern your gun. There is no doubt in my mind that "old reliable" is sitting there cleaned and ready, but it is vitally important no matter what game you are hunting that you are certain that you are going to have a "one shot – one kill situation."

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I appreciate your follow. I hope this helps you in preparation of the “Big Day” and I look forward to hearing your stories. When commenting feel free to leave additional advice that would make this scouting season better.
Happy scouting!

r.b. wright

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Protecting the Resource -- What sustainable fishing means to me and why.

“This blog entry is my submission for the GreenFish and Outdoor Blogger Network Writing Prompt Giveaway”

What does sustainable fishing mean to me? I think the first step is to breakdown what sustainable truly means. The second definition of sustainable in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states "to keep going: PROLONG". I can think of no better words to explain what “sustainable fishing” means to me. The question I now have is – How do we do this?

In the last few weeks there has been article after article written regarding the “massacre” of thousands of large striped bass by commercial trawlers off the coast of NC (http://www.northcarolinasportsman.com/ ) This hits home for me for two reasons. The first, I truly love catching striped bass. The second, I truly love my home state of North Carolina. As I looked at the pictures of these fish floating lifelessly in the waters behind trawlers I honestly could feel a “pit” forming in my stomach. The timing of this writing prompt is impeccable. Outcries were heard from anglers and sportsman across the country and immediately actions were taken to temporarily halt the actions of the trawlers until an investigation could be completed. Long story short – they are at again with some minor rule changes. The problem, in my humble opinion, still exists. It is not truly the fault of the Captain of a commercial trawler no more than it is the fault of the recreational fisherman who improperly handles a fish prior to release. It is the ignorance in believing the unique and wonderful resource (no matter the species) will always be there. This is a true illusion. The demand for food and the increase in recreational fisherman continues and will continue to rise. The lack of respect for the game being chased and the lack of knowledge of how to release the catch back into its habitat is the true issue.

In preparation for this writing prompt I had the privilege of visiting the GreenFish website. (www.greenfishmovement.com) The only thought that came to my mind as I was reading this was... “Finally.” How truly delighted I was to read the basics on how to release a fish and why. As insignificant as it may sound – each fish that is properly returned is one that you or I may have the opportunity to fight another day, not to mention that fact that this fish has the opportunity produce more fish.

Why do I really care? The answer is simple. I have three daughters who truly love fishing. I have three daughters that are the age when every living thing matters. They still have an innocence and a softness about them that is very difficult to put into words. I have been able to once again see life through their eyes and understand that if we do not protect things for them nowwho will?

I have never been accused of being Einstein, however, I am smart enough to know that if each one of us who fish or spend time on the water will do our part – we will have a massive effect. Those of you who know me, know that I love to hunt and to fish. In each of these sports, the respect of the game is crucial to being successful. In hunting – one shot should equal a quick harvest. In fishing – enjoy the fight, take a great picture, and properly release the fish. Who knows, you may get to enjoy that fight again.

Thanks for your follow and visit http://www.greenfishmovement.com/ for more information. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter… I am glad I did.

r.b. wright

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

OBN Field review - Manzella "Tracker" Gloves - How did they do?

Below you will find the product review for Manzella Tracker Gloves...to view a full review of these gloves including glove description, testing locations, and breakdown of how it rated in five categories – please watch this detailed video.

Recently, we were selected by the Outdoor Blogger Network (http://www.outdoorbloggernetwork.com/) and the “random number generator”, to perform a field review on the Manzella Tracker Gloves. Although I’m still relatively new to the field testing world, I have developed a system to use when reviewing certain products. With apparel (gloves fall into the category for me), I divided the review into five main categories in which to focus. They are as follows:

  1. Quality
  2. Functionality
  3. Comfort
  4. Performance
  5. Price 

Each of the categories receives a grade based on data acquired during the test. These grades are as follows:

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Moderate
  4. Lacking
  5. Poor

Product Description:

Manzella, Tracker, Warmest - I must admit that I was a little confused trying to figure out exactly what to call this glove. (this is not necessarily a bad thing). In researching Manzella (http://www.manzella.com/),  I discovered they have a vast array of gloves. Gloves are what they do...they are "the glove company".  It is important to understand that this particular glove is under the Sportsman category and of the “Tracker” line. The Tracker is then broken into three insulation levels…. “Warm”, “Warmer”, and “Warmest”. This particular glove is under the Warmest series. The Warmest series is intended to be for those who spend time in the outdoors in EXTREME CONDITIONS, or for those who are “COLD HANDED”. Being that I am based in southeastern NC, what is extreme for me will not be extreme for those in other parts of the country…so we made a decision to take this test on the road, as you will see in the field test locations portion of this review.

Glove components:

Shell: water repellent micro-poly twill                                                                     

Palm and fingertips - synthetic suede

Lining: fleece

Insulation: 100 gram Thinsulate ® X-Static ®

Insert: HydroBlok ®

It also features an exclusive MOC trigger finger in both the right and left hand, as well as an over-the-sleeve cuff.

Field test locations:
1) Magnolia, Delaware

• 19 degrees

• 4 ½ “ of snow

• ½” of ice

• Snow/Canada Goose hunt

2) Ivanhoe, NC

• 23 degrees

• No precipitation

• 5-8 mph wind

• Waterfowl Hunt

Test Results:


The first thing I noticed about these gloves upon pulling them out of the box is that they really are a “good looking pair of gloves”. By this I mean they do not look inexpensive or cheaply made. I began to examine the stitching and the materials list in attempt to find out more about the quality of the craftsmanship. I was impressed with the stitching (for the most part) and was very impressed with the quality of the materials used. I am a fan of Thinsulate and HydroBlok, so right away I knew these gloves were going to receive high marks in this category. I did have one small issue in regards to the stitching. The straps located on the wrist section of the glove are designed to be tightened to help prevent cool air from entering the glove. It truly gives a tight fit. When I tightened the strap on my left hand, I had a slight separation take place in the area where the glove and the strap come together. Although not a big issue right now – it will with worsen with time unless we handle this strap gingerly. (see video for details)

SOLUTION - my suggestion to Manzella is to add a little extra reinforcement where the strap and the glove marry in order to prevent this from happening.



What is functionality in regard to gloves? In this review, it is simply the amount of mobility one may lose when wearing a bulky-style glove opposed to a form-fitting style or bare hands. I must admit to you that I was very surprised during this test. Generally, I am not able to use my hands as I normally would due to not having the necessary flexibility in my fingers. Manzella did a wonderful job of designing the glove with thick insulation without losing the mobility in the hands. These gloves felt more like an extension of my hands than an actual glove.



One of the most important areas in relation to gloves for me is comfort. I must admit that for reasons stated in the previous category and for reasons generally associated with comfort – I truly do not like wearing gloves, and only do so many times out of necessity. This was not the case with the Manzella Tracker. The insulation on the backside and palm of the hands, in combination with the HydroBlok ® insert, placed a water resistant barrier around my hand that was snug. When I tightened the drawstring with the over-the-sleeve cuff and the wrist straps, the glove became one with my hand…this was truly a wonderful thing.



Of the five categories, the one most important to the outdoorsman is the glove’s overall performance with the task at hand. “Is this glove going to help or hinder me when I am in the field?” For the applications in which I used the glove (water fowling), time is very important. If we lose seconds... we lose the shot. It is with this mindset that I made my opinion of this particular glove.

One of the first features I noticed upon sliding the glove on was the exclusive MOC trigger finger that is on both the right and left hand. HALLELUJAH and GOOD JOB MANZELLA! Most of us who hunt and are in a situation requiring the use of “bulky-style” gloves, understand the frustration associated with a trigger finger that is not comfortable. I generally take a knife or scissors and remove a portion of the trigger finger of the glove from the knuckle up exposing my index finger to the elements. This MOC trigger finger allowed me the comfort needed for shooting and the protection from the elements that was required. Again, good job on this Manzella.

There were two minor issues in the area of performance:

1) About three hours into the goose hunt in Delaware, I began to notice the tips of three fingers (middle, ring, and "little") were becoming a little cool. I must admit that my hands, as a whole, were the warmest that they have been on any cold weather hunt I can remember. However, I did not expect the coolness to take place due to the intended use rating (extreme conditions or cold handed individuals) of the gloves.

2) The excess insulation over the thumb created a “flap” that would become hung-up when re-loading my shotgun. The ¼- ½ inch over- hang repeatedly would position itself between my shell and the gun causing me to have to look away from birds and use my index finger to position the shell in place.


1) Add a little extra 100 gram Thinsulate X-Static ® to the tips of the fingers without losing mobility – again it would not take much.

2) Remove the excess “flap” of insulation over the thumb without sacrificing warmth.

 PERFORMANCE = GOOD (Trigger finger was VERY redeeming!)


In order to determine the rating for price, I looked through catalogs, online stores, and brick/mortar locations comparing gloves that are similar in caliber to the Manzella Tracker (Warmest). I also looked at the grade I had given the gloves in the previous four categories. I then compiled this data to determine the final grade in regard to price.

I discovered 23 pairs of gloves that are very “similar” to this particular pair. They ranged in price from $19.99 to $51.00. Therefore, the gloves of similar design are being offered at a median price of $30.00. The Manzella Tracker (Warmest) is available for $35.00 on their website (www.manzella.com).

Based on the comparison of features and the other four categories, we did give this price a “GOOD”. If Manzella were to address the three MINOR issues that we experienced (strap separation, fingertips, and excess insulation over thumb) this would definitely be elevated to an “EXCELLENT.”


OVERALL RATING:                                 

Based on the tests we performed in each category, I give the MANZELLA a final rating of GOOD. Remember that my scale is EXCELLENT, GOOD, MODERATE, LACKING, and POOR. A good rating should be interpreted as “Above Average”. This glove definitely fits the above average bill. I was asked to give an unbiased honest assessment of this product. If asked whether or not I would purchase this glove knowing what I now do – yes, I would – and I would recommend that you consider Manzella if you are looking for a good hunting glove - http://www.manzella.com/. I would like you to note that it is difficult to receive an “EXCELLENT” with the criteria I use….this glove received two EXCELLENT out of five  grades and nothing less than a GOOD.

Disclaimer…in conjunction with OBN, r.b. wright was provided the products in this review free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion of this product. At the time of this review there was no relationship between Manzella and r.b. wright outdoors other than that arranged through a random number generator via OBN.

Thanks to OBN for what you do, and to Manzella for the opportunity to review your product.

Thank you for taking the time to read this review. If you see something in this review that I did not cover or have additional questions regarding this review, do not hesitate to leave a comment or e-mail me at rb@rbwrightoutdoors.com and I will do my best to answer.

r.b. wright