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Hooked On Hope Falconry Hunt

Late August of last year I had received a call from friend and fellow angler Ron Smith. He had informed me that he was going to be donating a Falconry hunt that would be part of the silent auction at the Hooked On Hope charity fishing tournament later that year. I had been on a previous hunt with Ron and he wanted to have me document the hunt for the winners and all that attended. You can’t help but jump on board with such a great charity. Brent Wertz of Tampa was the lucky winner of the hunt and was looking forward to the event. We  settled on February 1st as the date for the hunt. Leading up to that Saturday the weather had been gloomy, cold and filled with rain, pretty typical of the winter weather here in Florida.

The sport of Falconry has been documented as far back as 2000BC and was often used as a status symbol among the nobles of medieval Europe, the Middle East and the Mongolian Empire. There are several classes of raptors that are used in Falconry are:

  • Eagles – Golden Eagle
  • Broadwings – Red Tail Hawk  and Harris Hawk
  • Longwings – Peregrine Falcons, Praire Falcon; Gyrfalcon; Merlin Falcon and the small Kestrel Falcon
  • Shortwings (or Accipiters)  - Goshawks, Coopers Hawks and the Sharpshin Hawk

The handlers are referred to as the Falconer.


The meeting spot was the Starbucks in Plant City just off of I-4, and it was pretty foggy and grey out and not the best conditions under which one would like to capture images under. I showed up early and was allowing my equipment to acclimate to the weather in the bed of my truck when Ron arrived with son Fisher, with Brent soon to follow. Brent had brought his daughter Ella. Riding with the Wertz’s was Lee and Loretta Pippin (both committee members at HOH with Loretta being one of the chairs). We then followed in caravan to Highway 33 to an old abandoned golf course where we would be hunting.

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Once Ron and the other Falconers explained our plan of action and the “What to do’s” we set off to beat the bushes.



Brent and his daughter Ella about to dive into the briar patches




It was not too long before we had our first kill. We made our way over to the surrounding area and waited for the falconer to get set up. This is the part that amazes me. This raptor, a unique feathered machine with such keen eye sight has just made a kill and the natural instinct of the bird is to feed on their kill. The wingspan is displayed as the kill is covered to be taken out of view of other predators. It is also at this point that you see the relationship that has been built between falconer and the falcon.

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Ron with his son Fisher



Sometimes the birds do get a mind of their own and will follow prey into some tight spots. This was the case at one point during the day.





Brent, Lee and Loretta


Overall, I think everyone had a great time not only experiencing the hunt but learning about the history of Falconry that was told by the Falconers that day.

Special thanks goes out to Ron Smith for coordinating the hunt and introducing a group of good people to the sport of Falconry. Ron is a member of the Florida Falconers’ Association ,  Lee and Loretta Pippin, Brent and Ella Wertz; Matt Smith; Austin Preston and Kristen Amicarella.

Breaking Rules


In Photography you have to know the rules;

some of which are :

Leading lines

Rules of thirds

Break in Patterns

etc etc…

Once you know them; the fun can begin in breaking them; like here.

Rick De Paiva


Visit to Mosquito Lagoon & New Smyrna Outfitters

Was fortunate enough to slip down to New Smyrna Beach last weekend to visit my bud Eddie and fish the Mosquito Lagoon for a couple of days. In between changing diapers and peeling shrimp at JB’s, Eddie operates New Smyrna Outfitters, a kick-ass fly shop on Canal St. Lucky for me, Eddie’s back was hurting from standing behind the counter in the shop and hanging fly tying materials all day, so he agreed to pole me around the Goon for a couple of sessions. I was reminded how challenging a pressured Mosquito Lagoon redfish can be…or how bad I suck at casting. We had plenty of shots…made some work…and tucked our tails after others. Won’t even go into the baby manatee of a trout that followed my fly briefly. Here’s a few pics from the trip. Thanks to Eddie for the hospitality. Make sure to check out New Smyrna Outfitters if you are in town to fish the Lagoon.

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Guatemala Sailfish





Here are a few photos from a several day trip to Sailfish Oasis Lodge in Guatemala. The Pacific Coast of Guatemala has one of the highest concentrations of billfish on the planet and is one of the best places in the world to catch sailfish on a fly rod. In addition to lots of sailfish, we caught a nice blue marlin that we couldn’t convince to eat a fly, and tons of dorado.

Lots of fish, warm winter weather, and great company!


Go-to set up


guatemala sailfish





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Most common billfish were by far and away sailfish. We raised several marlin including this 250 pound blue which we teased all the way to the boat. After three perfect casts with a fly rod, she showed no interest but continued to stay lit up and aggressive behind the boat. We ended up pitching a pre-rigged mackerel to her just 30 feet behind the boat and watched her inhale it.


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Go-to flies were giant poppers with 6/0 hooks

Go-to flies were giant poppers with 6/0 hooks


hooks and flies


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Special thanks to Sailfish Oasis Lodge in Guatemala.


-Ben Paschal


Summer Hurry Already


Rick De Paiva


a video of Capt. Willy Le’s new Maverick HPX-S

13 Fishing Concept C Field Test

I recently managed to get my hands on 13 Fishing’s new Concept C baitcasting reel … it made on heck of a first impression.  


The reel is sleek and very comfortable to palm.  The cork handles are large and very comfortable to grip.   Like everything else in their product line, it is obvious that a great deal of time and effort was put into maximizing comfort and ergonomics when designing the concept c.

The reel sits very low and close to the blank which makes it very easy to palm

The reel sits very low and close to the blank which makes it very easy to palm


Large septon style cork grips are very comfortable

Large septon style cork grips are very comfortable

Another aspect of the reel that jumps out at you when it is in your hand is that it is very light, weighing only 6.1 ounces.  Despite being light, the reel does not have a cheap and plastic feel.  After a couple turns of the handle, it is apparent that this reel has a very solid and well connected feel.  There is also no perceivable play in the system, when the handle moves, line is instantly picked up.

I tried casting a variety of lures, from plastics to plugs.  With only a couple adjustments of the centrifugal brakes, the Concept C casted everything I tried with ease.


I knew the Concept line of reels is rated for 22lbs of drag and I was anxious to spend some time with it on the water for a real world test.

I know most saltwater anglers, especially those in florida equate baitcasting reels with bass fishing and believe that baitcasters have no place in the saltwater world after the introduction of braided lines.  I would agree with them that for many situations on the flats, a spinning  reel is hard to beat; but I still believe that there are a few situations in saltwater where a baitcaster is a better tool…given that the angler can proficiently use one.   One of these scenarios is when pitching baits in tight quarters where I need to use heavier lines and need stopping power.  And that is why I chose back-country snook fishing as the real world test for the Concept C.


It only took a couple of hours on the water before I hooked up to a snook that would really put this reel to the test.  One of the things I have noticed in some of the lighter reels I own is that their frame will flex when the drag is tight and I am engaged with a big fish.  This was not the case with the Concept.  Its aluminum frame kept the reel feeling solid as a rock the entire time.  I had the drag tightened down to pull the fish out of cover as it is important to create as much distance as possible between the snook and structure when you first hook up, especially in heavy cover.  The drag worked flawlessly, even though it was set pretty tight; when snook surged, it smootly ceded line avoiding a break off.



Overall I am very impressed with this reel.  I currently own a couple other reels that are 100-200 dollars more expensive than the Concept, but they are heavier and do not come even close to having the fish stopping power.

I give the Concept a snookthumb up in my book.





Garmin Update


If you own a Garmin Chart Plotter / Sounder; new updates may now be available for your unit :


I updated my Echomap70s; with this 3.10 update ( previous was 2.80 )

** backup your data on micro SD card prior to updating. If system crashes, you will be ale to rescue saved waypoints and saved routes **

Rick De Paiva





Punta Gorda, Florida Winter Fishery




Punta Gorda, Florida Winter Fishery


Jan Maizler

Though our first angling day was besotted by frontal winds and rain this past Friday, Saturday dawned calm, clear, and with a bit of fog. Thanks to Captain Ralph Allen of King Fisher Fleet for some great guiding. As always, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, Florida came through for our efforts with superb support. Here’s a few images of our adventure.













Flamingo Trip

My Buddy called me up shortly after Christmas and told me the boys were heading to Flamingo for a long weekend. I immediately called my local buddy James and we hauled ass 6 hours south of the Polk County line! We got there late in the day but were too eager to just make camp and hit the hay so we went out for a quick afternoon session. There were reds tailing everywhere and for 30 mins we caught as many as we could! The rest of the trip remained consistent and we ended up having a blast. Catching fish all day and drinking beer and telling lies around the fire at night. Any angler looking to fish a little bit of paradise on a budget, Flamingo is a great time with a small group of friends. (Click the “Flamingo” link in the paragraph for more information on camping)

Brian Sawyer


Flamingo 12-13 (4 of 10)


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Flamingo 12-13 (7 of 10)


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Flamingo 12-13 (1 of 1)


Flamingo 12-13 (10 of 10)


Flamingo 12-13 (5 of 10)