Monday, July 17, 2017

New Ice Mule Cooler Backpack at 2017 ICAST

As my anticipation for the start of ICAST nears each year, I try to imagine what new updates I will see.  This year Ice Mule exceeded my expectation because for the past two years, other than new colors and their Pro Cooler with straps, there were no, what I would call a big change.  At this year's ICAST Ice Mule rolled out a backpack cooler.  The new cooler design has thick insulation on all four side of the cooling chamber. The backpack closure is the same design as on all the other Ice Mule Coolers. This cooler has been tested extensively and will keep items cold for an extended period of time.

There are three pockets that have zippers that allow contents to be cooled.  The backpack has a padded waist strap with comfortable backpack straps.  When I tried on the empty backpack cooler it was comfortable to wear. I did have a problem with the waist strap.  I could not close it. I needed  about 6 more inches. That should not be a problem for average sized people. You can see below that the waist strap should fit perfectly. You see my pants belt is more than 6 inches longer than the waist strap on the backpack.

My bad, not a Ice Mule design issue.  I recommended that a waist belt extension be added as an accessory for people with large waste lines like me.  The new Ice Mule Backpack Cooler will be available next year.

I have been using my Ice Mule Cooler for over two years.  I take it everywhere. It works great when I take it into hotels.  It can easily be filled at the ice machine and it rolls up tightly and can fit into your luggage.

A great travel buddy. You can find Ice Mule Coolers on Amazon or other online outdoor recreation outfitters.  Get yours today.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Soft Science Rocks at 2017 ICAST

When I can, I like to test the outdoor recreation products I blog about.  I have been lucky enough to have tested two different styles of Soft Science outdoor recreation footwear, the Fin and the Durango.  I got my Fins a month or two after the 2016 ICAST from Soft Science.  I have been comparing them to my extended collection of standard Crocs. After testing the Fin along side my Crocs I found that the Fin traction was much better than the Crocs.  I also noticed that the  Trileon sole of the Fin did not seem to wear as fast as my Crocs.  The Fin Trileon sole maintained  its sharp edges where the Crocs started to wear round fairly fast.

While covering a kayak tournament in 2015, I slipped and fell when my Crocs lost traction as I was walking along a canal shooting kayak anglers from the bank.  Now I have not been able to test the Fin in the same environment as my Crocs but next kayak season in 2018 I plan to do that.  Just two week ago, I took a trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where I wore my Fins with socks all day long.  The reason I wore socks is that I have very flat feet with not much arch.  If I plan to walk long distances I need a tighter fitting shoe.  With out socks, the Fin would have been too lose.  The reason for the looseness is that Soft Science footwear are designed to fit with room around one's foot.  Click Here to read about Soft Science.  When on their website, click the Fit Guide to read about their shoe design. It explains about the roomy lose fit.

On the last day of the 2017 ICAST I met Tubby Madden.  He sent me the Fins I got last year.  This year we talked about the Fin he gave me last year and their social media sites.  He gave me a pair of Durangos to test out.  I have been wearing them all weekend.

They fit just like my pair of Fins.  Before I got these, I have been wearing a pair of Vans Slip-On shoes I got for a gift last year almost every day.  Looks like with my Durangos I will be able split the load between these slip-on shoes.

In addition to Fin 2.0 and the Durango, Soft Science came out with the Cruise Canvas pictured above.  Love this style.  If I were to get another pair of Soft Science shoes, it would be a toss up between the Fin 2.0 and the Cruise Canvas.  So the next time you are out shopping and you see Soft Science on display check them out.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have gave a great day in the great outdoors.

Platypus Fishing Lines at 2017 ICAST

At the 2017 ICAST I got to meet my old friend Jason Schall and his new bride Jennifer.  Jason is the USA Distributor for Platypus Fishing Lines.  For those who do not know Jason, he is a world renowned angler who has caught over 600 different species of fish.  He was the IGFA awardee in 2014 of the Chester H. Wolf Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.  As of  2015, Jason reached 50 IGFA records with a goal of reaching 100 IGFA world records in his lifetime.

That being said, the reason you might want to know a little history about Jason's record quests is that he only uses a line that can stand up to the IGFA testing. If you submit a catch to IGFA for line class record consideration, you have to send in samples of the line you caught the fish on.  IGFA will test the line first to see if it qualified before your catch is even considered as a record.  That is why Jason uses Platypus Pre-Test Braid and Monofilament fishing lines. It increases his chance at another IGFA Line Class Record. The braid is tested throughout the manufacturing process and each spool of monofilament line is tested three time. Click HERE to read more about the Platypus Pre-Test fishing lines and HERE to watch a video of Jason talking about Platypus Fishing Lines at ICAST.  Platypus fishing lines have been used to set over 600 IGFA and ANSA records.   Even if you are not going after IGFA world records, the entire line up of Platypus fishing lines will give you the performance you need to catch big fish.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Platypus Fishing Lines at 2017 ICAST

Florida Cracker Trading Post Great Watering Hole

 When visiting Florida one will notice that a majority of the population lives withing 10 - 20 miles from the coast line.  Being the sunshine state, Florida is all about its beaches.  But to get from one side of the state to the other you have to drive through the central part of the state.  Along the many state highways, when you venture off Interstates 4 , 10, 75 and 95, you will find many interesting eating place, road houses and juke joints and an assortment of mom and pop establishments offering great food and drink.  During a return trip last month from Springhill on the west coast of Florida to back home in Melbourne, Kathi and I happened upon one of these interesting watering holes called the Florida Cracker Trading Post.  The Florida Cracker is located at 966 E. Jefferson Street, Brooksville, Florida 34601. Click HERE for their website.

The Florida Cracker Trading Post is made up of the Florida Cracker Kitchen, Tap Room and Store.

The Florida Cracker Kitchen was jamb packed when we arrived so we ate at the counter.  The breakfast menu had a big selection of scrambles, omelettes, pancakes and waffles.  I had the Cowboy Burrito with slow cooked brisket, eggs, onions, bell peppers, with jack and cheddar cheese.  Garnished with tomatoes and green onions.  Kathi ordered a meat-less omelette which had mushrooms, peppers and onions.  All the other breakfast dishes look amazing as we watched the food coming out of the kitchen being served to other guests.

After we ate, we toured the tap room next door.  It was way too early for a beer.  The Tap Room is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4:00 - 11:00 PM.  The doors were open this Sunday so we took the opportunity to look it over and grab a few photos.

Beside the Tap Room is the Florida Cracker Store.  I was surprised, after entering the store, to see three of the mainstay brands I see each year at Surf Expo.  Yeti Coolers, Freaker beverage insulators and Howler Brothers.

The Florida Cracker had their Florida Cowboy Boot logo printed on Freaker beverage insulators. You could buy pint beer glasses glasses and other items with the Florida Cracker logo imprinted on them.  Because I am a big Howler Brother fan and follower, I purchased a new baseball cap with their Howler Monkey logo on the front of the cap.  All and all  this was a great way to spend a Sunday morning breakfast stop.   So if you are planning a Florida east to west or west to east coast trip and want to slow it down a bit,  do what bikers do and take the back roads and stay off the Interstates 4 , 10, 75 and 95 highways.  There you will find more places like the Florida  Cracker Trading Post.  Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great out doors.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sealime Lures at 2017 ICAST on the Water Demo Day

Another interesting tackle brand at the 2017 ICAST on the Water Demo Day was Sealime Lures.  The Sealime lure design is really innovative.  The lure head is rectangle shaped and hollow that allows the water to flow through the lure causing the mylar lure body and tail to flutter as the water passes over the body and tail.  I will have more to report on this when I get to the show later in the week.  Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great time in the great outdoors.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trapper Tackle at the ICAST on the Water Demo Day

One of the many brands that had tents at the 2017 ICAST on the Water demo day was Trapper Tackle.  They were demonstrating their unique fish hook with the  configuration where the hook incorporated a expanded box at the hook. The box feature allows the fish, once it bites, to be locked onto the fish hook.  The box keeps the fish from rolling off the hook when being reeled in.  Their hook design won the Best in show in 2016 in the fish hook category.  I have never used these hooks before. I did speak with an angler at their tent who just finished a trip where they loaded up the boat with Mahi Mahi using these hooks.  He swore by them.  I cannot wait to try them out to see if they work for me because I need all the help I can get to catch fish from my kayak.  I am going to check out Trapper Tackle hooks later in the week at their booth.  Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Popticals Pop-Out Sunglasses at 2017 ICAST

ICAST is in full swing today but yesterday on July 11, 2017 ICAST held it first ever on the water demo day on the grounds of the Orange County Convention Center.  One of the brands on display was the Popticals Pop-Out Sunglasses.

The Pop-Out Sunglasses has a very unique feature that allows the sunglasses to be folded up to be stored in a very small portable protective case. The case is small enough to go into your pocket or clip onto your backpack or tackle box.  The lenses are made by Carl Zeiss.  These lens are very different. These lens are nylon.  They are lighter and have more clarity than the typical polycarbonate lens found in most fishing sunglasses. Click HERE to read more about their lens technology.  So if you are in the market for a new pair of sunglasses that will not get scratched or broken trying to store them, you should give the Popticals Pop-Out Sunglasses a good look.

I will be visiting their booth at ICAST later in the week to get a real close look that these interesting sunglasses.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

2017 ICAST on the Water Demo

2017 ICAST on the Water Slideshow

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Over the 4th of July Holiday I took a trip to the northwest side of the Florida coast to the "Nature Coast" with my wife Kathi.  One of our stops was Homosassa Springs.  During the winter here in Florida, Homosassa Springs is one of the great locations where manatee hold up because of the warmer water.

The park has a visitor's center located on west side of State Highway 98.  Inside the visitors center is the start of your park visit.  All park visitors travel to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park entry point by pontoon boat.  The boat ride is a mile long guided tour along pepper creek to the park entry point where the entry fee is $13.00 per person.  If you are a frequent visitor to Florida State Parks, you  might look into an annual pass. Click HERE for more information on annual passes.
If you happen to be a honorably discharged veteran with a connected disability, you can get a free lifetime pass where you and your family members can get in for free.

Located at the park entry building is a snack bar and a gift shop.  During the summer it is wise to stock up on water from the snack bar before venturing out into the park.  Click HERE to watch my video of the boat ride to the park entry.

Once inside the park you can stroll under the tree canopy to see the wildlife exhibits.   All the wildlife inside the park must be indigenous to Florida.  But there is one exception.  The park has one hippo named Lou.  He is 57 years old and became part of the state park when the park was purchased from  Citrus County during the 80s. In order for Lou to remain in the park, then Governor Lawton Chiles made Lou a Florida resident. Click  HERE for the history of how the park became a state park.

This park is a rehabilitation center for injured or orphaned manatees before being released back into the wild.  The park is also the home of other injured wildlife who cannot survive in the wild on their own.  During our tour of the park we saw many injured birds of prey with damaged wings and a blind pelican.

At the headwaters of the Homosassa Springs is a viewing structure where one can go under water to see the manatees and fish through the viewing glass.  On the day we were there there were three manatee playing around viewing station which gave the visitors a close up view of a manatee swimming around the glass windows.  In addition to the manatee, there were 1,000s of fish.

Sheepshead, snook, red fish and mullet could be seen through the glass.  The sheepshead were following the manatees eating whatever was dropping for their hide.  You could spend hours just watching all the underwater activity at the Homosassa Springs viewing station. Click HERE for my video of manatees in Homosassa Springs.

At the west end of the park where the park boundary boarders the Homosassa River, there were what looked like 50 or so boats having a grand old time playing loud music, eating, drinking and snorkeling in the clear water.  From the shore it looked like everyone was having fun. Click HERE for my boat party video. 

All and all, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State park is well worth the trip.  We enjoyed our visit.  We hope to plan a winter trip to see all the manatees who come to the warm waters of Homosassa Springs during the winter months.  Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great time in the great outdoors.

Homosassa River Boat Party