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Author Archives: E. A. Castro

Movie-Poster-FSSB-01Ever wonder how to increase your chances of catching monster bass, or any bass for that matter, by fishing swimbaits? Maybe you were afraid to ask or didn’t know who to turn to for information? The second in a series of instructional videos may have the answers you’ve been looking for! Catch Mike Long’s latest video, “Fishing Small Plastic Swimbaits,”  exclusively on video-on-demand on Vimeo.

Also, in case you missed it, here’s the previous video in the series, “In Search of Big Bass.”

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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Ken Duke, Senior Editor of B.A.S.S. Publications just published a new article on Bassmaster.com on renowned big bass hunter Mike Long.

To complement the new article, we’ve just published a new gallery specifically for Bassmaster right here on Mike Long Outdoors.

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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ancient-fish-hookI’ve talked to all kinds of fishing enthusiasts and one constant topic of discussion is the various hooks they like to use. Often they’ll lament that this hook or that hook isn’t sharp enough or lacks consistent setting ability. Imagine what fisherman in times gone by would make of our modern hooks.

A recent Live Science article sheds a little light on what types of gear ice age man may have carried around on his hunting and fishing excursions. It makes me think twice before complaining about modern conveniences.

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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The February Contest winner of the Dobyn’s 867 HSB Swimbait Rod is Marty Stone of Evington,Virginia! Hopefully this rod will come in handy when he fishes on his favorite spot on Lake Conner! Congratulations Marty! Thanks for playing everyone and stay tuned for another giveaway announcement on March 3rd!
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Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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The winner of the Dobyn’s 867 HSB Swimbait Rod was notified this morning (still awaiting response) and will be announced here at 5pm! Stay tuned for our next contest which will be announced on March 3rd!
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Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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The contest to win a Dobyn’s 867 HSB Swimbait Rod is now over! Make sure you enter to win our next contest ending March 30! Sign up for the contest here!

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Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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reel sonar logo for the new mobile fish finderThere hasn’t been a “game changing” innovation when it comes to fishing equipment in at least a decade. You can, of course, point to any number of recent products and claim they are innovative, and while true,”game changing” design or ideas are few and far between. One area in need of innovation is the mobile fish finder category.

ReelSonar, a product being developed by serial entrepreneur Alexander Lebedev and a team of engineers from a variety of disciplines, hopes to change all that.

It all began when Lebedev asked himself a simple question. “I was fishing with my brother on Lake Union (Seattle) last April and thought to myself, why no one has yet to come up with the mobile fish finder?”

The ReelSonar Bobber in detail for the new mobile fish finderHe quickly found out that SmartCast by Hummingbird was such a device, but it is relatively obsolete and a lot bulkier than what he envisioned. He thought about how bringing mobile technologies to an outdated system seemed like a logical step. A casual fisherman himself, he knew many people, including his father-in-law, an avid bass angler, who might benefit from a mobile fish finder.

With a background in medical ultrasound technology Lebedev thought he could improve upon the system and incorporate a variety of newer technologies that would help bring a mobile sonar system to the masses. With that, ReelSonar was essentially born.

Already an old hat at building technology start-ups, Lebedev took what he learned from Mirabilis Medica (a therapeutic ultrasound treatment for uterine fibroid) and JeNu Bioscience (an aesthetic ultrasound for wrinkle reduction) and applied it to developing this idea into a functioning prototype. First, Lebedev assembled a team of knowledgeable experts who shared his vision. Then, along with a team of hardware Engineers, RF Engineers, Embedded Software Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, App Designers and Anglers, the team spent hours  bouncing around ideas, talking to professional and amateur anglers, researching, designing and testing ReelSonar technology.

A New Player in the Mobile Fish Finder Category

ReelSonar will have mobile apps to make the new mobile fish finder easy-to-use ReelSonar is a new wireless, mobile fish finder that uses sonar technology, embedded into a bobber, that fisherman can use to locate fish. The device then transmits the data via Bluetooth to nearby smartphones and tablets. Embracing current technology, its patent-pending elements combine more expensive fish finders functionality with the convenience, community, and affordability of mobile apps.

“My goal was to create a unique fish finder that utilizes advanced technology in an inexpensive way that is easy to use – paired with a device that many people already have,” related Lebedev.

Live tests for the device have worked out quite well so far. Said Lebedev of the process, “Development has gone perfectly; though there is still work to do, but all technology hurdles are now solved. We are now in fundraising mode to bring the ReelSonar mobile fish finder into production.”

Currently ReelSonar gathers data on whatever is in the surrounding water up to 150 feet deep. “My goal was to create a unique fish finder that utilizes advanced technology in an inexpensive way that is easy to use – paired with a device that many people already have,” said Lebedev.

Feature Rich Product

A Close Up of the ReelSonar bobber, a new mobile fish finderSeveral features allow the unit to be priced well below other fish finders on the market, and still use a 3 Volt rechargeable battery. Low frequency ultrasound transmits strongly through water without the signal getting lost, and fish are highly reflective surfaces, making the signal easier to process. “When there is enough sensitivity on the receiving circuit, paired with a well-designed signal processing unit, there is no problem with power,” explained Alexander Lebedev. The app (on Android and iOS devices) displays data and images in a dynamic, user-friendly interface – no separate display panel is needed.

Lebedev has a bright outlook for his developing product and can see how this product will change how people fish. “It is great learning tool for youngsters. Teach kids what is under the water. This tool will help to be a little bit smarter about the surroundings and water conditions. Its got water temperature and salinity meter. Great tools to see if it is a good spot for bass or trout.”

Some details about the ReelSonar device:

  • Locate fish and underwater structure up to 150 feet away, and 150 feet deep
  • Map the entire water bed using synthetic aperture, from a composite of multiple images (this feature is also useful for boat navigation in unknown areas)
  • Check water temperature and salinity
  • Bite Alarm – the smart bobber lights up, and the app signals when fish are near the bobber
  • See relative sizes of fish, and estimate how many there are
  • Get suggestions on bait and lures based on data and location
  • Keep track of favorite fishing ‘hotspots’ and location history using GPS tags
  • Tap into or contribute to aggregate ‘hotspots’ based on other ReelSonar bobber data
  • Record location, date, size/weight and photos of the day’s catch all in one place

With R&D nearing completion, ReelSonar will retail for under $100. Besides the app itself, it consists of the bobber and its USB recharging cable, making it easily portable. Because users cast the ReelSonar bobber as far as they like, it extends the under-boat views of existing boat-mounted fishfinders. It works in any water temperature, in fresh and salt water, in boats or on the shore.

Want to take part in the development of this great new product? Get more details and updates at Indiegogo

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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Andy Ashby on the Mound for the San Diego PadresProfessional athletes usually become professional athletes because they not only have the natural ability that raises them above normal folks, but also because they possess the innate drive to succeed… or put another way, the need to feed the unquenchable fire of competition.

Long after their professional careers are over though, that fire doesn’t die down to a warm glow. Instead, it usually manifests itself in other pursuits. For Andy Ashby, retired MLB pitcher, the fire to succeed simply shifts to different pastimes including hunting, fishing and golf.

A brief run down of his baseball career:

– One of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to pitch an “immaculate inning” on June 15, 1991, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies, playing against the Cincinnati Reds (Struck out Hal Morris, Todd Benzinger, and Jeff Reed on 3 pitches each)
– Won 98 games over 13 professional seasons
– Pitched in the 1998 World Series with the San Diego Padres
– Member of the 1998 and 1999 National League All-Star team
– Career stats: 1173 strikeouts and a 4.12 ERA in 1810 innings pitched.

Ashby now lives in Scranton, PA with his wife and 4 daughters and now that the time-consuming world of the MLB is no longer a factor, he spends his days with his family enjoying retirement and all the trappings it affords.

Andy Ashby’s friends describe him as having a never-ending passion for learning and for always having a positive attitude. It is obvious to anyone who spends even a few moments speaking to him about the things he loves as we did when we recently caught up with the former MLB pitcher to get his take on his favorite outdoor pursuits.

Andy Ashby with another big bassMike Long Outdoors: What type of outdoor activities do you enjoy?

Andy Ashby: I fish, I golf, I hunt… and I love spending time swimming… you know pretty much anything that has to do with the outdoors I love.

MLO: Do you do these things with your family or prefer to do them solo?

Andy: Well the fishing I take my kids, going out on the weekends, but they can get burned out sometimes. I do fish alone often.

When we are out in San Diego, we go out on a four-day camping trip with the family. That’s like our dad and daughter trip every summer.

Hunting I go with buddies. I do take my kids sometimes. Everything else I do by myself most of the time including golf.

Oh I do go swimming with the kids a lot, at the beach.

MLO: Out of all those things, what is your favorite?

Andy: My favorite thing is fishing.

MLO: You seem to enjoy it. I’ve seen pictures of you fishing with Mike Long a few times, is Bass fishing predominantly what you prefer or do you go for other types of fish like catfish, trout, etc?

Andy: You know, it’s mostly bass fishing. That’s my number one thing to do. I love hunting, but the fishing is by far my favorite thing to do.

MLO: How old were you when you first started fishing? Who introduced you to the sport?

Andy: Probably about 10 or 12 years old. When I was in Missouri, my family and I used to go to the lake every weekend. My dad would take my brothers and I out to fish.

Andy Ashby Deer HunterMLO: What’s your favorite lake to fish in the US?

Andy: Oh my gosh! That’s tough. I love Lake Castaic up in Los Angeles because I’ve caught so many fish there. Mike has taken me to so many lakes, and Lake Jennings is right up there at the top two or three. Yeah, Lake Jennings and Lake Castaic are the top two probably.

MLO: Do you prefer fishing for smallmouth or largemouth?

Andy: You know, I fish for Smallies when I am out here, but I guess it depends on where I am at. When I am in California I love to fish for largemouth bass, but here in Pennsylvania the small mouth are the thing to catch because the largemouth don’t get very big like they are in California. Recently we fished at Lake Wallenpaupack and we caught over a hundred smallies, all of them over a pound or two pounds, some of them upwards of 4 pounds. I’m gonna have to say, I love catching largemouth more better than small mouth, but it really depends on where I am at.

MLO: Have you considered joining the pro tour?

Andy: (Laughs) You know what, I would love to, but if I knew as much as Mike Long about fishing, I think I could do it. But honestly, travelling and being away from my family would be hard. Bass fishing, I hear the professionals talking and these guys fish every day, and they’re gone quite a bit. I don’t know if I am willing to do it, but I would love to do it later on, maybe get into so smaller tournaments, but right now that’s in the real distant future.

MLO: What’s the best advice anyone has given you that applies to fishing or hunting?

Andy: Patience (laughs).

MLO: Speaking of which, the last time I tried talking to you for this interview, Mike told me you were out deer hunting, sitting up in a tree blind.

Andy: Yeah. I was sitting up in a deer stand for about 12 hours.

Andy Ashby Night FishingMLO: What do you do with yourself when you’re just sitting there waiting for a deer to come by?

Andy: Well, you know, you kind of text every once in a while to let everyone know you didn’t fall out of a tree or anything. Otherwise you’re just sitting there trying to be quiet. Really you’re just sitting there waiting for the moment, just like waiting on that bite, you know?

Fishing is a little bit different because you can actually cast and do something. The hunting is obviously different because you have to wait for the animal to come to you. I think the main thing is just patience and try different things. You know, you see Mike Long, and I know I bring up Mike quite a bit, but he has taught me a lot about trying different things because you never know what’s gonna work.

MLO: What is your favorite bass lure?

Andy: I would have to say the Senko.

MLO: What is your favorite style of fishing?

Andy: I fish a lot of plastics, so slow retrieve stuff is something I like more. I think you catch a lot more and bigger fish that way. I do a lot of night fishing so slow retrieve works a lot better in that environment.

MLO: How would you compare fishing and major league baseball?

Andy: Anything in life, I think you have to be patient and you have to believe in yourself, trust what you are doing. When I am on the mound I have to trust what i take out there is going to get these players out that day. When I am on the lake, I have to believe in what I throw at the fish and have confidence that it’s gonna work.

MLO: When you were playing how often did you fish when the team traveled?

Andy: When I was in LA, I would fish every night when I knew I had four days off. So I would fish 2 or 3 days in a row. When we’d go on the road trips, I would try to fish, definitely Houston, chicago… I would definitely fish once or twice, but it was harder because you didn’t want to carry all that gear on the road with you. I would try to fish four or five cities throughout the season.

Andy Ashby and Mike LongMLO: When you played what player influenced you the most?

Andy: As I kid, growing up, it would have to be George Brett. As a player, just being around somebody, I had the privilege of playing with guys who are in the Hall of Fame now. Dale Murphy helped me out a lot. Terry Mulholland, Bruce Ruffin, because these are the guys who were around when I first came up. Kevin Brown, Trevor Hoffman, we all played together. There were so many guys who influenced me just playing with them, at different parts of my career.

MLO: Who did you enjoy fishing with?

Andy: Kevin Brown, Mike Long obviously, I fished with Bruce Ruffin a few times, and Tony Gwynn a lot. Brad Ausmus I fished with a lot in San Diego. Bruce Bochy is a big fisherman.

MLO: How did it feel to be on camera fishing with Randy Jones?

Andy: You know, it was awesome. I wish we would have caught more fish on camera. I enjoyed the pressure of trying to catch fish on camera. It was so funny though because I caught four fish off the dock and we caught one on the boat when the camera was rolling (Laughs). It was all good though. It was pressure, but it was fun. It was my first time fishing on camera, so it was a good first experience. Randy is a good guy!

MLO: When you fish do you still have the same competitive fire as you did when you were on the mound?

Andy: Yes. Definitely. I usually want to catch big fish and if someone is catching fish and I’m not, I’m like, “what in the world is going on?” It’s funny. You fish with Mike though and you learn to accept you’re gonna get beat every time in the boat.

MLO: Do like night fishing, or daytime fishing better?

Andy: You know what? I like night fishing. I just a really enjoy it. Obviously I fished at night into the mornings because I had to be at the ballpark in the daytime. It was, more or less, the time that I had to go fish, then sleep a little bit, then be back at the ballpark for a game.

MLO: Do you think you’ll ever burn out on fishing, or have you in the past?

Andy: No. I know that the time I have doing it is special. It is like a stress relief for me. And my wife is like, “you have no patience for doing stuff around the house, but you can sit out in the woods all day long or fishing all night long, I don’t understand it!”

It’s a relaxing thing for me. On the Golf course, I snap every once in a while, but fishing and hunting part of it relaxes me. It’s a peaceful time for me.

MLO: Making multi millions in Baseball you can fish anywhere you want in the world, so what is your game plan for the future?

Andy: You know I’d love to go to Mexico and fish El Salto. Ten pound fish there are like two pounders everywhere else. El Salto would be cool and I’d also love to go out and fish for Peacock Bass because they get huge and fight like crazy. Definitely the Peacock Bass and Mexico are on my bucket list.

MLO: What is the largest bass you have ever caught?

Andy: 14 lbs, 3 oz.

MLO: What bass have you caught in your life sticks out the most and why?

Andy: That fish sticks out because it was the biggest I caught, but I remember watching this 10 pounder swim back and forth. I’d throw a bait out there and it would go out and come back to it and never hit it. Finally I threw out the right one, I think it was a curly tail worm, and she hit it. You know I tried for this fish for over an hour and I finally caught it and it was a ten pounder. It was awesome, because she didn’t want to hit what I was throwing, but I stuck with it and put something on there that made her mad enough to want to bite it. There’s different memories but that was kind of cool. It’s similar to being out on the mound with a 3-2 count and trying to figure out how to get that batter out. I had to figure out how to catch that fish, and kept throwing until I got what I wanted.

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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It’s only a few days before Christmas and you may be scrambling to find just the right gift for that “outdoorsy” type on your list. Never fear! Aside from all the great products we’ve reviewed in the past year, like MattLures 7″ WakeBait Bass or the Huddleston Deluxe 8″ Weedless Swimbait or even the Flip In The Bird Topwater Lure, we’ve compiled a Last-Minute Holiday Outdoor Gift Guide just in time for you last-minute shoppers. Okay, so we’ve procrastinated a bit on this list as well, but it’s never too late to highlight the perfect gifts for the outdoor fanatic in your life. Sure some of these are pricey, but that’s the price you pay for being late too the party! We’ve also thrown in a few for more realistic budgets to make sure there is something for everyone regardless the current state of your bank account. In no particular order:

Hitcase ProThe Hitcase Pro

I don’t own an iPhone, but plenty of my friends do. What could make them scream with glee come the morning of the 25th? How about a case that turns their iPhone into a sports camera? The Hitcase Pro is more than just the toughest iPhone case on the market, with it’s wide angle lens, it turns your iPhone into an action camera like the GoPro®. Photographers often like to say the best camera is the one you have with you. Very often these days that happens to be your phone as well. Hitcase embraces this trend with the Hitcase Pro, a waterproof and shockproof case for your iPhone with a wide angle lens. The combination of a ruggedized case with a wide lens effectively turns your iPhone into an action sports camera like the GoPro. Combined with Hitcase’s free iPhone app, Vidometer you can record GPS, speed and elevation data right onto your action sports video.

Get it: $129
www.hitcase.com

SportsmanVictorinox “Sportsman” Swiss Army Knife

There really isn’t a tool that is as universally loved as the original Swiss Army Knife and no outdoorsman or woman is complete without this classic pocket knife. I can’t tell you how many times this little handy pocket knife has saved the day, whether it was the cork screw to open that bottle of wine at the top of a peak, or the file to smooth out a broken nail that keeps catching on your sleeping bag, the Swiss Army Knife is the most used tool on every camping or hiking trip I take. The Sportsman knife is as classic a Swiss Army model as there ever was, including a blade, file, screwdriver, tweezers, corkscrew, and the requisite toothpick. A can’t-go-wrong gift for outdoorsy folks on your list.

Get It: $26
www.victorinox.com

SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier

SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier

You can last days without food, but water is an essential element in survival, which is why every hiker/camper should have a water purifier in their pack. Of course, a great many water purifiers are just to bulky or unwieldy to take on every trip, but that would change if you had this little gizmo in your backpack or camp kit. Zap your water to purify. A great gift for backpackers or world travelers, this small device puts out UV light that destroys bacteria, viruses, and protozoan cysts—such as giardia—that can make you sick.

Get It: $79
www.steripen.com

PowerPot Thermoelectric GeneratorThe PowerPot

I’m a fan of innovative products that multi-task and I think I’ve found a product that fits that bill quite well. One of my pet peeves when hiking or camping is finding used batteries on the trail or campsite. With this particular power source, you can eliminate some if not all your battery needs. The PowerPot® is a robust, lightweight generator that converts heat into DC electrical power. Simply add water to the pot and place it on a heat source appropriate for boiling water. The PowerPot® will immediately start powering up your mobile electronics. The PowerPot® comes equipped with a standard USB (5V) port, making it compatible with devices you already have. The cable has three feet of heavy-duty, flame-resistant wire. The solid-state voltage regulator provides up to 5W of power to charge your high-tech devices. The PowerPot® gives you the power to charge your electronics anytime, in any situation. Use it in the backcountry or at home during a power outage. This model is suitable for charging cell phones, GPS units, iPods, and lithium ion batteries. The power can also be used directly to run speakers, lights, fans, or other low-power appliances.

Get it: $125
www.powerpot.com

Eureka Apex 2xTEureka! Apex 2XT Tent

I think I have 4 or 5 tents in my gear collection. Aside from having one-person and multi-person tents, I also seem to have picked up tents for every weather condition. I’ve been in the market for a lightweight tent that I can use no matter what the elements and the Apex 2XT is the perfect way to eliminate at least two other tents from my gear list. This lightweight, compact tent was built to withstand the elements. The two-person Apex 2XT tent is ideal for backpacking and wilderness camping. This versatile three-season tent assembles easily with a free-standing fiberglass frame. Durable waterproof fabric, raised floor seams, bathtub floor, and a full coverage fly, provide reliable protection from the elements.

Get it: $149
store.eurekatent.com

suncloudSuncloud King Polarized Sunglasses

Up until a few years ago I thought all sunglasses were the same. So long as they shielded my eyes, I was good to go. All it really took was a day out on the water with Mike Long to prove that idea wrong. He was spotting fish 40 or 50 feet away from our boat while all I was seeing was the sun reflected off the water. Polarized sunglasses are the way to go and the Suncloud King polarized sunglasses are the best I’ve found below $50. Polarized lenses reduce 99% of visible glare from water, snow, sand and pavement for increased visual acuity and decreased eye strain. The Polycarbonate lenses are 20 times more impact resistant than glass and a third the weight; they’re also acid- and heat-resistant, which means i’m not gonna break them as easily as the other pairs of sunglasses I’ve purchased in the last decade.

Get it: $49
REI.com

SnowHozukiLanternSnow Peak Mini Hozuki Lantern

I’ve tried out a number of camp lanterns through out the years, but few of them have ever really done what I need them to do when I need them to do it. I wanted a lantern that I could carry easily or that I could attach to some part of my body when I was walking around and then was small enough that I could attach it to my tent when it was time to sack out. I had relied on my headlamp for years, but I found it awkward to hang from my tent at night and easily turn it on or off as needed. The Snow Peak Mini Hozuki Lantern solved a great many of my issues with camp/hiking laterns. It’s lightweight, can attach to a variety of objects, and has multiple settings that allow you to use it as a flashlight, camp latern, or tent light. The candle mode setting allows the LED to flicker like a candle, which is kind of neat! Choose from 3 brightness settings (low, medium, high) in both candle mode and standard mode so you can illuminate the whole campsite or just the tent

Get it: $39.95
REI.com

Got some other great ideas you want to share? Put them in the comments and we’ll add them to our Last-Minute Holiday Outdoor Gift Guide!

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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robocup_productAs an outdoor enthusiast, there are a number of tools and gadgets I use regularly that I take for granted. Things that make life a little easier, a little more comfortable. Recently I added yet one more item that seems to be one of those useful things you wonder how you got along without previously.

While I do a lot of physical activities when I camp, there is also periods when I am in the great outdoors where I’m sitting, like fishing, or cooking, or even socializing. Often, whatever I am drinking tends to get knocked over or simply prevents me from using both hands since I have to hold on to it.

I’ve tried various ways of multi-tasking, holding my drink in one hand while doing something else with the other, and it rarely turns out well. Now, thanks to the ROBOCUP, i have a consistently stable way of  holding a beverage and anything else I may need within arms reach.

robocup_fishingchairThe ROBOCUP is marketed as a “patented portable caddy for drinks & poles” but I’ve found plenty of other uses for this simple device.

On a recent surf fishing trip, I attached the ROBOCUP to my beach chair and it not only held my drink, but my phone, my fishing pole, and whatever else I could stuff into its deep holders. There are even little straps I can use to secure my pole or other items so they won’t get lost or tumble out.

I actually even used it while working in my garden to hold some tools! I’m sure I’ll find more uses over time… it’s just that useful!

Company: The RoboCup LLC
Product Name: The RoboCup
Gear Categories: Personal, Portable, Fishing, Camping, Boating, Accessories
Material: Lightweight Plastic
Features: No tools required, squeeze to open. Bottom cap unscrews for fishing poles, umbrellas, or other long-handled tools.
MSRP: $24.95 (available from Kotulas.com for $19.95)

Pros: Easy to attach, simply squeeze the cup holders. Easy to clean, and highly portable.

Cons: Non really, but if I could change anything, I’d ask that the clamp be on a swivel to allow you to attach it to horizontal bars and structures as easily as you can vertical bars and structures.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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Back in the summer of 1979 I walked out into the backyard of the house my parents had just purchased and met a tall, gangly kid with a shock of red hair. He was holding a fishing pole, a bucket, and the widest smile I had ever encountered in someone my age. Only seconds after he had introduced himself as Mike Long, he asked me if I wanted to help him catch some crawdads.

The house we had just purchased sat no more than 50 feet from a creek that meandered the length of Poway, California, surrounded by Sycamore and Scrub Oak, which were home to Opossums, Raccoon, and Red-tailed Hawks. Having lived in the suburbs almost my entire life, I was out of my element among all this natural wonder. As strange as it all was though, I was about to get a master’s class in nature and Mike Long was the first and most notable of all the professors I’d ever have directing my education.

Mike Long & Ed Castro with a full 20 Catfish Limit Stringer at Poway Lake, Summer of 1982

Mike Long & Ed Castro with a full 20 Catfish Limit Stringer at Poway Lake, Summer of 1982.

I’ve known Mike for going on 32 years, and enjoyed the privilege of having first hand access to the vast amount of information he gathers about his chosen hobbies. He taught me to fish for Catfish, Rainbow Trout, Crappie, Sunfish and of course, Large mouth Bass. He pulled me up and around hill and dale, all the while, teaching me about what to do and when to do it. He never asked anything in return, just friendship and I was more than happy to oblige.

Though time and distance have always come between us, we’re kindred spirits. We enjoy the same things and share many of the same beliefs, the least of which is our passion for the outdoors. Eventually college, and then a career in advertising pulled me away from Southern California, but I kept up with his adventures in the great outdoors.

When fate and my father’s illness brought me back to San Diego in late 2010, one of the first people to welcome me back was Mike Long. We began toying with the idea of a website to share his knowledge and the site you find yourself on now is the result of many such conversations.

While we’ve talked almost daily since I’ve returned to San Diego, it actually wasn’t until this past September that we actually got together on a lake to do some fishing for largemouth bass.

Mike chose the body of water we both grew up fishing, Poway Lake, located in San Diego’s North County. It’s a small reservoir, made smaller by consecutive years of drought, stocked with Rainbow Trout each winter and Catfish each summer. It has a good population of Largemouth Bass, Sunfish and Bluegill to keep everyone happy no matter what your particular passion.

It had been almost two decades since I last fished for bass, but Mike promised he’d take it easy on me and show me what to do. In fact, he even brought a few spinning reels for me to use since I’ve not used a bait caster in a very long time. First thing Mike did was get the lay of the land, or water to be more precise. Choosing a few possible spots, we made our way across the lake toward the first area he wanted to try, a deep water channel. As we arrived, I looked around and noticed there were a dozen or so other fisherman on the lake. From the look of it, they were doing a bit of fishing, but not a whole lot of catching. That isn’t unusual for this lake, especially for those fishing for largemouth bass.

The thing was, much like when we were kids, I had a secret weapon. I had Mike to show me the way. He quickly tied on a 4″ Robo worm in Aaron’s Magic color, using a simple drop shot rig and told me what to do. I’d like to say I quickly landed my first bass in 20 years, but that wouldn’t be true. What is true is within 30 minutes on the water, Mike DID land our first fish… a 3 pounder, very small by Mike’s standards, but a whopper in my book. Keeping with Mike’s teachings, we moved around, eliminating water, trying to find where the fish were. We moved to shallower water near a point. Mike landed a few more, small bass, while I couldn’t seem to get the hang of the proper action necessary to catch a fish… any fish… heck I was willing to land a shad if it would take me out of the skunked column.

He kept explaining what he was doing and why it was working. Mike had landed 3 other bass while he was explaining the intricacies of fishing this particular lake, at this particular time in the day, in this particular season. It was akin to listening to Stephen Hawking talk about cosmology while orbiting the Earth on the space shuttle. If I remember half of what he told me, I’ll be three times the fisherman that I am now.

Finally, I put it all together and I landed my first bass of the day. Less than a pound, but it was a pound more fish than I’ve caught in 15 years and I was quite excited. A few more casts and I caught another fish, this one almost breaking 2 lbs. I figured if I kept at it, by the end of the day I might have enough fish that, combined, would weigh as much as the smallest fish Mike would catch that day.

We broke for lunch and it gave me the opportunity to ask Mike the questions that I would imagine most people would ask him if they had the opportunity.

Ed: When we were kids, we fished for a lot of different kinds of fish, but mostly for stocked trout and catfish. Did you ever think you’d make your mark as a trophy bass fisherman?

Mike: Not at all, I just wanted to fish more than anything else in the world, i did not care what species of fish as long as they put up a fight.

Ed:This lake (Poway Lake) has been our “home” lake for over 30 years and it’s changed a great deal since we started fishing here back in the late 70s. What’s changed for the better? What’s changed for the worse?

Mike: Lake Poway is a small lake where kids can learn to fish and that has gotten better over the years with some added structure. On the downside the lake is infested with quagga mussels which are killing the ecosystem and I’ve seen a huge decline in the numbers of big bass in the lake.

Ed: Of all the local lakes, which is your favorite?

Mike: San Vicente Reservoir

Ed: Why?

Mike: It is a deep semi-clear reservoir that offers lots of different types of shorelines from steep hard rock to large boulders, to flat shallow bays and offshore islands. It also has large blue catfish over 100 lbs and some giant bass.

Ed: What drives you to hunt big bass?

Mike: Catching big bass is the end game of big bass hunting. And what drives me is the never-ending challenge of trying to figure out where the bass are in the lake and what to catch them on. It’s always a game with the payoff being landing that big bass.

Ed: Was coming close to the record a positive experience?

Mike: The day I caught the 20-12 was the most peaceful day of my bass fishing career and nothing else mattered that day. It has been a positive experience, especially since it has only been done a handful of times.

Ed: Is there anything you would have done differently knowing what you know now about that whole experience?

Mike: The first time I weighed the big bass she weighed over 22 lbs, so I have learned the first weight is the official weight. I never leave the house without a verified scale. Who knows what would have happened had I known to bring the right scale that day.

Ed: We’ve talked a little bit about tournament fishing, and I know you’re a pretty competitive guy, but you refuse to fish competitively. Why is that?

Mike: Raising a family costs lots of money these days and trying to get kids through college and finding a new job has been a huge challenge of survival this year, so tournament fishing has taken a back seat until there is some money available to fish them right.

Ed: When we were kids, you used to keep a notebook, filled with data from our fishing trips. I know you’ve converted all that information into a spreadsheet. Do you ever let anyone peruse that information?

Mike: My data is my data. I have spent years collecting it and don’t let anyone have access to it. I do, however, teach people how to build a spread sheet and convert their data into a useful form that will help them in their pursuit of giant bass.

Ed: Why did you choose this format (a website) to share your information?

Mike: I love the World Wide Web. It’s amazing what you can learn from different people, all over the planet. I wanted to be part of this global classroom… doing my part is to simply share as much as I know about bass fishing. If I can help others to learn and see things a little differently in their pursuit of big bass, this website will be a success in my eyes.

Ed: Is a book out of the question?

Mike: One of my goals is to write a book, and in fact, I have my first more than halfway done. Hopefully I will finish it soon and have another way to share what I know with people who are willing to learn.

Ed: What does the future hold for you as an outdoorsmen?

Mike: Lots of adventure, taking my abilities on the road and traveling the globe in pursuit of giant fish is my future goal. Sharing that with everyone would be the icing on the cake. I LOVE to catch fish and I hope that desire never changes.

We spent the rest of the day simply figuring out where the fish were and what they’d likely bite. I honestly can’t remember how many fish Mike caught that day, but I can tell  you he beat me by a country mile. This isn’t unusual of course, and I doubt many people can keep up with him when he gets in a groove, but it was fascinating to see someone so knowledgeable about a given pursuit put it into practice. After spending a day on the lake with him, he’s still every bit the kid I met over 30 years ago. Maybe a little grayer, and a little thicker around the middle, but still loves what he does and loves sharing what he knows with everyone he meets. 30 years later I can safely say that I still learn something every time we spend time together.

He’s still the professor and I’m still the student.

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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