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Great Outdoors and More Mailbag – Premiere Edition

At Outdoors360 my goal is to create the greatest digital outdoor experience anywhere on the world wide web and anywhere you consume media. It’s now undeniable that the outdoors and technology are merging together more and more every day – so, why fight it?

Your phone, your iPad, your computer/laptop, at your house, at work (off the clock), on a boat in the Florida Keys, on a mountain in Colorado, on a lake in California, in a deer blind in Alabama, on the coast of somewhere beautfiul…we’ll be there.

Yep, the great outdoors and technology are now ONE. Just. Accept. It. 

Have you fished/hunted/done anything outdoors with a sub-30 year old (getting closer to 40) in the last 5 years? They spend 39% of the time on their phone, 22% playing with their GoPro’s, Drones, and other gadgets, 18% of the time actually fishing/engaged in the outdoors, 12% eating, 9% sleeping because they stayed up too late on their electronics the night before. And, it’s not just kids anymore, my 91-year old grandmother is a tech-savy social media prodigy.

If you don’t know me, here’s all you need to know: Proud Pops. Hubby. Fisherman. Hunter. Artist. Writer. Digital/Social Media Junkie. Marketer. Web guy. IGFA World Record Holder. I stole that from my own Facebook/Instagram bio.

I started writing “outdoor content” over 3 years ago. 20 minutes into my first column I almost bored myself to sleep, so I went a totally different direction. I’m not a professionally trained writer, so I just write – I figured my job is to entertain NOT write an MLS AP style doctoral thesis on fishing.

So, naturally it was time to kick off an Outdoors360 mailbag! So, get ready with your questions, and I’ll get you the answers. IF I don’t know it, I’ll find someone that does – someone that is an expert in the field. That’s my promise to you.

And, I’ll make it fun. And educational. And positive. My focus will be the outdoors, but that won’t be everything. I’ll mix in some sports, some pop culture, ZERO politics or religion. There’s enough bad news, sad news, and unnecessary drama in the world, that we want to be your sad/bad/drama-free safe zone. Oh yah, and your son and daughter can read my weekly mailbag and column. If I wouldn’t want my 9 and almost 5 year old daughter to read it, I won’t write it.

We’ll have something for everyone – from the dad who wants to help his kid catch a little bluegill in the backyard, to the co-ed who wants to plan a trip to travel the globe, to the first time hunter who wants some venison, to the die-hard fisherman who has more advanced rigging questions for swordfish on a full moon in depths over 1,500 feet in the Spring off the coast of Louisiana. Guess what? I don’t know it all, in fact we don’t know it all, BUT we know someone who does!

We want to be your one-stop shop for everything outdoors. You have questions, we have answers. We’ve built a team of way smarter outdoorsmen, fishermen, travelers, weather experts (Jim Cantore), hunters than we could ever be — they’re here to answer your questions. They LIVE their passion EVERY day. I don’t. I have a normal job like most of you, and a wife and kids, and bills and responsibilities, so I lean on their knowledge.

And, if you have a personal question for me – like how is my wife so much better looking than me, or why does your beard have a huge white patch and you’re not 40 yet, or a parenting question (because I thought I knew it all until I had kid number 2 aka #biggiesMolls ), or more serious questions about starting an outdoors business, or a social media page, it’s all fair game.

We’re going with the flow…that’s our entire business model.

What do we want to be? The greatest outdoor digital media company in the world. How are we going to do it? We’re going to bust our humps (see, kid friendly) with daily, original outdoor media content every few hours of every single day, 365 days a year on our website and social media. We’ll have answers to any of your local, regional, or national questions – even the boring stuff — like what are the latest regulations, how do I buy a license, etc. We’ll take some cool trips, fish, hunt, and travel with experts, make a lot of mistakes, learn a lot of lessons, and share it with all of you. You don’t have the time to research everything. You’re busy. So, let us save you the time and headaches. Come here for fun. Come here for education. Come here because you love the outdoors.

Two years and change into Outdoors360 becoming a “real” business, we have a reach of FORTY MILLION per month between our website and social media.

Our social media reach is over 260,000  (~130,000 on Facebook / ~130,000 on Instagram) combined while never spending over $100 in any month, we’ve passed the mythical ONE MILLION page views a month on (that boggles my mind), 175 original weekly stories, and a whole lot of miles and memories, here we are! Where we will end up? I don’t know. But, what I do know, is that I’ll enjoy the ride.

Enough talk, let’s get to our FIRST ever outdoor mailbag!

What rod would you recommend for my 9 year old son to use? He’s only been fishing once. 

–@artdirector_randy , Missouri 

Rob: I’d recommend something very light, not too tall, and a spinning reel. The longer the rod the more difficult, so I’d start in the 6-foot range. I’d pair it with a spinning reel because when (notice I didn’t say “if”) he really enjoys fishing he can progress very quickly. A push button simplifies it too much, and that spinning reel will help with his learning curve. If he happens to hook a monster, that spinner can hold a lot more line than some of the simpler starter reels. Good luck!

I’d like to catch fish off of my new dock in Anna Maria, Florida. A trout would be nice. How would you recommend catching one?

— Mike “The Moustache” Lee , Florida via Pennsylvania

Rob: For that part of Florida live bait is typically best (it’s where “white bait” fishing became popular), but you don’t want have to mess with that. I’d keep it simple. If I had to choose one lure on one rod/reel I’d go with a weedless gold spoon. They’re basically bulletproof, won’t snag like most lures, you can throw them a mile (I’d use a ⅜ to ½ ounce), and they catch everything swimming – you might hook a trout, redfish, jack crevalle, snook, or even possibly a small tarpon.

I’m 15 years old and really into fishing! Do you have any suggestions on what to use for still pond fishing with about 2 feet visibility murky water. I really love your videos too! Keep it real man.

— @donnieee_012

Rob: First off, flattery will get you everywhere. Second, I’m glad I received a bass question because I’m going to answer this from my perspective (which is probably wrong), AND I’m going to ask a professional – Bienville Plantaton’s own Ron Ryals. Ron and Bienville Plantation know bass like I know Chick-Fil-A milkshakes and chicken sandwiches. I would personally throw something that makes a lot of racket to get their attention on the surface. A topwater lure like a Heddon Super Spook in a light color (I like bone the best) or a buzz bait. Not only do I think it’ll give you a good shot but I GUARANTEE when you catch a big bass on the surface it’s more addicting than Pokemon Go (which I’ve never played, so don’t bother asking any questions about it!)

Now, for the pro:

Ron Ryals, Bienville Plantation – Spinner bait with white/charteuese skirt. Black and blue worms either Texas rig or a senko type bait weightless. Depends on the structure.

I’ve always wanted to go out in the open ocean and fish for monsters…If you could send me some info and how I can get started fishing like you?

— @alextabano , New Jersey

Rob: I like to fish in multiple ways, but my favorite is DIY style. I like to go on adventures and explore. But, since you want to catch monster on the open ocean I’d recommend hiring a charter captain.

I’ll say this until the day I die. NO ONE knows an area of water better than a local charter captain. NO ONE.

Even if you grew up fishing an area, I guarantee you it’s changed. The waters changed, the lands changed, the baits changed, the entire area is different, and it’s changing all of the time. Guides spend every day on the water, they notice things we’d never notice, from bird migration patterns, to a different tidal or river flow, to an influx of bait in the last 24-48 hours. I’m not sure if you own a boat, but I’d still hire a charter captain. You won’t regret it. I’d look through social media and if you see any specific catches you like, reach out to those captains – they’re all becoming more and more active on social media. Good luck and #outdoors360 when you catch that monster and we’ll update all of our readers on your monster hunt!

What advice would you give someone wanting to get in the apparel industry?

— Anonymous friend who started a line of clothes

Rob: My advice is simple.

Don’t. Do. It.

More on this later. Promise 😉 Side-note, I use emoji’s, so I hope you aren’t anti-emojis.

For hunting questions, I’ll lean on the expertise of Kevin Knighton the Co-host/Co-owner at Backwoods Life. My question to Kevin was simple.

Now that deer season is over, what should a hunter’s focus be?

When deer season is over, it’s time for a season shift. Gotta pack up all of the deer gear and get ready for turkey season. I like to make sure my rifle gets a little TLC with a good gun oil like Lethal’s No. 1 gun oil before going into the safe for the summer. Also, any deer scents that I bought and used this season will get tossed in the trash. Especially the deer urine based scents won’t last for next year. So go ahead and throw them out. Make sure everything is organized and packed away so that when I open my deer box next September the items I will need are there ready for me. Last but not least, this season transition means it’s time to break out the turkey calls and start practicing. In a  month and a half it’s gonna be time to match wits with a Longbeard!

For weather questions, I’ll lean on the greatest weatherman on the planet, and a member of Team Outdoors360, Jim Cantore.

A photo posted by Outdoors360 (@outdoors360) on

With all of the places you travel and all of the weather (hurricanes/blizzards/tornados) you’ve experienced, what scares you the most? 

Jim Cantore: Lightning. Because it’s the scariest combination of unpredictable and life-threatening at the same time.

Each week, I’ll also provide a “fishing tip” from the #1 Hook on the Planet : Mustad Hooks.

Mustad’s Tip of the Week: The EASIEST knot you’ll ever tie (brought to you by yours truly). KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.

Oh yah, and I said it’d me more than outdoors. So, here are some of the “more” from the title of this column!

No comment on politics because you’ll get plenty of that everywhere else. My advice, turn it all off and watch sports, fishing, hunting, Fixer Upper on HGTV (that maybe because we’re currently doing our own fixer upper), Showtime’s Homeland (The first 2 seasons were absolutely amazing), Peppa Pig (you know you’re watching it with your kids), or binge watch the greatest show in the history of television – Breaking Bad. Never a bad episode, never a bad season, incredibly well written, and the only perfect TV series in history. You’re welcome.

For Valentine’s Day, this is the greatest advice you ever receive. DO NOT ever watch the movie Valentine’s Day. It is one of the 5 worst movies ever made. It’s like they decided to pay a bunch of big name actors to act poorly with no plot, no comedy, basically a whole pile of nothing, and to hope a bunch of idiots pay to go see a movie because they had to (for Valentine’s Day), and maybe the names would make it seem legit. Rant over.

If you have questions comment below, shoot me a social media message (facebook or instagram – I don’t snapchat … yet), or shoot me an email. These answers are just my opinion, and you know what fisherman say about opinions – they’re just like deadbait, they all catch fish; some catch nasty, slimy catfish, and some catch big, beautiful marlin. May all of your fish be marlin!

I hope you enjoy this column, and thank you to everyone who sent in questions.

Tight lines,

Rob Chapman IV

PS: Please support our awesome sponsors that make all of this possible!

Bienville Plantation : Buildings and More : Chick-fil-A at Lake City : Chick-fil-A at Roosevelt Square : First Federal Bank : Lake City Medical Center : McDuffie Marine : Mustad Hooks


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