Category Archives: Recreational Water Activities

The American Dream Onboard a Pontoon Boat!

Tucked away in one of the numerous articles this last month is a heroic look at someone who sacrificed so much for the United States getting to live out his American Dream. It just so happens for Bronze Star recipient, Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, that dream included a pontoon boat. He said he remembered waking up in the hospital after an IED had exploded during his 3rd tour in Afghanistan, with no arms or legs. The exact words out of his mouth were “I want double stuffed Oreos, pineapple juice and I’m going to buy a double-decker pontoon boat to pull us all around Higgins Lake on a tube.” He had never even owned a boat before but suddenly that is what he knew he wanted. He used that as one of his motivators for almost 2 years of rehab.

After rehab, he was in a position to boat shop. He started going to local boat shows to learn what he wanted. The double-decker Avalon seemed to be the perfect fit. When he finally settled on it and went to get it at the local dealer he missed it by only a few minutes. Someone else had decided they just couldn’t live without it. In the long run, it worked out much better because he got to purchase an Avalon LSZ 2685 Cruise model which had most of the exact amazing features including the layout. It had the Art-Deco design, the only thing it lacked was the top deck. Its Retro looks of the Cadet drivers stand hearkens back to the muscle car days and provides a fun driving experience. It also has a powerful Millenia Bluetooth stereo, & speakers, tilt steering, soft Pillow top drivers chair and comfortable lounge seating with flip up storage compartments. Staff Sergeant Mills doesn’t regret his time in the army and would actually prefer to still be serving, rather than retired due to the IED. But to put a positive spin on it, at least he can be on the water more than most other boat owners.

Staff Sergeant Mills has become a motivational speaker these days. So many are eager to hear his story which is truly inspirational. He grew up in Michigan and admits to the fact that Avalon boats are built in his Hometown state, which somewhat factored into his decision to buy one. However, it was only part of what he considered. Sergeant Mills took plenty of time to do his research and for him the priority was quality. He purchased the Avalon from his local dealer and has gotten to be friends with many of the staff there. He only had to have a few modifications made in order to accommodate his disability. He needed an elevated stand next to the helm with the digital throttle controls raised to be able to reach them. The first summer he had the boat he had to stay on board and cook because it was to hard to get back in the boat once he learned to swim in the water without his arms and legs. Thanks to his local dealer a hoist was installed thanks to the dealers ingenuity.

Although Sergeant Mills has plenty of obstacles to overcome, regularly, he now has a hobby he and his family can do together, thanks to his new Avalon LSZ Cruise pontoon boat. There are plenty of things he cannot do with them, but now he can go tubing, boating and fishing with them. His boating experience actually motivated him to start a non-profit organization in order  to help other disabled veterans realize there is still plenty of life worth living, despite their handicaps. He brings veterans and their families to Maine where he shows them first hand how life can still be lived to its fullest. The boat helps with giving them confidence and independence. For the ones that bring kids, it gives them a way to have fun and play together. If you would like to contribute to helping his non-profit it is called “The Travis Mills Foundation” and has raised 2.7 million dollars so far to help wounded veterans start living life again.

To read the full article in……………..Click Here

Family Vacations for Boating

It’s about to be that time of year again. You know, the time when you pack up the entire family and hit the road for that long awaited family vacation. Most families do not realize how close they are when traveling, the American interstate system, to some of the nation’s best boating hotspots. So, this summer it would be well worth your while to budget in extra time for some boating pleasures. The chances of you being near the perfect fishing, swimming, exploring, skiing or just cruising lakes, oceans, reservoirs or rivers is highly likely. Get out the old map or simply google it and you will likely see a myriad of opportunities that will be worth towing along the family funship! Checkout these “Family Vacations for Boating.”

In Texas, alone, there are hundreds of massive lakes, reservoirs, bays, ocean inlets and rivers to launch at. In Louisiana, the Salt Water launch opportunities off I-10 (East or West) are endless. If you love Saltwater fishing and you are heading down I-10 take a trip over to Galveston Bay and launch at anyone of the dozens of marinas or public use boat ramps that string their way along the coastline right off the I-10 corridor between Orange and Houston.

Here is a map of the lakes you have access to in Texas alone-Click Here

Here is a map to the beach accesses along part of the I-10 coastline you have access to:

Don’t forget to bring the fishing and skiing equipment also. At most marinas they also have equipment rental available, so don’t let a forgotten ski get in your way. Head on out into the great unknown this summer but don’t forget your boat when you leave. It will be well worth the extra trouble.




Yamaha 190 FSH Sport Boat

Ever heard of a “Sport Fishing Boat?” If not, then check this blog out on one of the most successful sports boat companies in the industry, Yamaha Jet Boats. After excelling in the jet boat market, for decades, they have decided to enter the fishing boat industry with the Yamaha 190 FSH Sport Boat.

They hit it out of the ballpark with their 2016 signature model center-console fishing sports jet boat. They incorporated their popular one-stop engineering of engine, hull and accessories along with the stability of a great platform and the safety of an internal drive system, all in this newly designed vessel.

There is no outboard motor in the way of your casting on this sport boat with its innovative fishing friendly features. If you happen to get in weeds you have Yamaha’s patented pump clean out system to get the weeds out of the engine, without even getting wet. There are features like a dual-positioned leaning post seat that flips back to give you great views. Also there is huge live-well with 2 aerators, easy access to dual battery and switching systems. There is a storage compartment for the bait buckets and nets, making it easy to get your bait in and out of the water without a mess. The console was clearly designed by an angler. There is plenty of room for in-dash fishing navigation system and nice top so you can put gimbled electronics in it if you prefer. There are digital and analog gages and a compass. Next to the leaning post seat, on both sides, simply flip up the rear deck to reveal very cushy seats for passengers. There is an astronomical amount of rod storage on this model. Helm console opens up to give you a head compartment for a portable toilet. There is a jet-wash powered by the propulsion system to allow you to pressure wash the deck down. There is so many unique features on this new sports model fishing vessel you just have to come by Texas Marine and check one out today.

BoatTest Video on the Yamaha 190 FSH Sport:

The Benefits for Families who Engage in the Great Outdoors

The Benefits for Families who Engage in the Great Outdoors are numerous! In a world driven by technology, it’s simple to forget the natural world surrounding us. Rarely do you see children in public today that do not have their eyes glued to a screen of some sort. Bring your children to spend time in the outdoors and teach them the benefits of that.

Each minute that kids spend in front of electronics is another minute they’re not spending time outdoors! Here are some reasons you should raise your kids in the outdoors!

Teach Them Patience

What better lesson to teach your children then the virtue of patience! Hunting can be a fantastic lesson that patience and perseverance can lead to great reward.

Encourage Activity

Staying active helps reduce stress and anxiety, and can help children with both behavioral issues and attention spans.

 Educate Them

The more you educate them now, the more they know in the future. Help to promote self-sufficiency for future generations.

Keep Them Healthy

Let them run. Let them jump. Let them climb. A healthy childhood can lead to a long-term healthy lifestyle.

Spark Their Curiosity

Get your kids involved and interested in the outdoors. Show them things they’ve never learned before and let them ask questions. Fresh air is good for the mind, body and soul. Get your kids outdoors and let them appreciate all it has to offer!




Crabbing with the Family

The 2015 crabbing season is shaping up to be a humdinger. Everywhere you go these days, the bay, the beach, the bayou and in some cases the ditch are blue crabs. 12003339_1081614018539928_2643377849907009202_nSoutheast Texas waters are known for their rich blue crab habitat. Families in the area have passed down their secret crabbing honey-holes for generations. That is because “Crabbing with the Family” is one of the most enjoyable inexpensive outdoor activities you can participate in together. Best of all it requires very little effort. All you need is some string, a few chicken necks and your kids.

The blue crab is a very popular edible crab along the Gulf Coast because they are so tasty, when cooked properly. A blue crab has two claws the same size and is colored in various shades of 12003266_1081580238543306_6561138315999357137_nblue. The back is a brackish brown and the under belly is white. The females have reddish orange claws. April through September is the best months for crabbing in Southeast Texas waters. However you can catch crabs all year long. The trick is to know where in the water to throw your chicken string. To do this one must think like a crab thinks. Crabs eat almost anything and places like public fish-cleaning stations, fishing piers, jetties and mud flats often have easy pickings for crabs. Once you locate a spot simply tie your string around a piece of chicken twisting it around 3 or 4 times and then tie it off with a knot. Toss the string out in the water near the spot you choose, allowing it to sink to the bottom. Then tie the loose end off to a stake near the shoreline.

Be sure to setcrabbing up several more lines to increase your yield. It is important to watch the line but not disturb it; the tiniest twitch on the line sends the crabs fleeing. Once the line is jerking pretty good then you know a crab is feeding on the chicken. At this point you should be able to ever so slowly inch by inch pull the line in. This is the part even the most experienced can mess up. Children sometime are much more adept at pulling in crabs because of their patient slow methodical movement. As you pull it in the visual of the crab eating the meat will begin to come into focus. Get someone nearby to have a net ready. Keep the net hidden until the last possible moment. At the point you feel sure you will not miss quickly scoop in behind the chicken and the crab and dump it into a bucket. You can then return the line into the water for the next unsuspecting victim.

Putting crabs in an ice chest filled with an ice water slurry makes them much slower and easier to handle. Below is a great video on how to clean crabs and another on cooking them. Good looks and have fun this is a great tradition to begin with your kids and even extended family members.


Cleaning Crabs……………………….Video

Cooking Crabs………………………..Video


Statewide Fish Art Contest Winners for K-12

Texas Kindergarten through 12th grade students competed in an art contest that was put on by “The Art of Conservation” group to encourage kids to get involved in conservation efforts. They were ask to create a work of art containing any of the freshwater fish that inhabit our state. Grade 4 and above were also ask to turn in an essay on their particular fish. They were suppose to include any conservation efforts that may be occurring with their fish species in Texas.

The judges were the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The entries were broken up into the judging groups, Kindergarten through 3rd grade, 4th-6th, Middle School and High School. The winners are below:

Kindergarten – 3rd Grade Winner

3rd Grade Winner






4th Grade – 6th Grade Winner

winner 4-6






Middle School Winner

Winner 7-9






High School Winner

Winner 10-12






Each participant got an artificial fishing lure and a certificate. To view all the winners…Click Here

Underwater Photography Guide

Here is a quick and easy “Underwater Photography Guide” with some steps for beginners to get started with. This blog is assuming you already have your camera, underwater housing and other various equipment in place. Also, when shooting underwater keep in mine how comfortable you are in the water. Practice your own water skills, that is half the battle in getting great underwater shots.

1. Try to get about 3 feet away from your subject matter and make sure your flash is on. The flash is what gives you those vivid colors you see in professional shots.

2. Only shoot in clear water and make sure your subjects eyes are in focus. That should get you where you need to be with the rest of the shot.

3. Learn to use your macro mode on your camera. This needs to be set correctly. More than likely it will need to be set from 2″ to 2′ but be sure your camera is zoomed all the way out.

4. Set your flash to the auto-white balance not cloudy setting. If you can afford an external flash it really makes a huge difference. Without a flash of some sort photos will look blue.

5. Just use the auto or AV mode for the aperture priority setting.

6. Try to get eye level with your subject with subject facing you if possible. Try to fill up the frame with your subject matter.






What? Texas has the most Gorgeous Reefs in Continental U.S?

Talk about your hidden gems~

“What? Texas has the most Gorgeous Reefs in Continental U.S?”  Yes! They are right off the coast, south of Sabine Pass. What about all those oil wells and that nasty spill? Well the “Flower Gardens Marine Sanctuary” reef system is doing just fine and looking quite well in all its colorful splendor. This system is one of the most important coral reef systems in the world because of its widespread diversity and spawning capabilities. The Gulf of Mexico’s Flower Gardens is a veritable Garden of Eden, as reefs go.

Only discovered in the late 19th century, this reef system is still largely unknown to the nations general population.  Local Texas and Louisiana Divers have been going there for over a quarter of a century, as a popular hotspot. The name came from grouper and snapper fisherman who could see the colorful coral beneath their boats, which resembled a beautiful sprawling flower garden. The reef is more than 170 feet deep in places and there are several reefs in the system. A few of the reefs are continuously connected by a low ridge of reefs near the base, which has just recently been discovered. This lower segments of the reef have now begun to be explored. This reef is teeming with life of all varieties. On any given day, you will find almost 300 species of fish, 1 different species of crustaceans, 4 types of sponges and a huge variety of sharks, rays and skates. The Sea Turtle is a regular resident of this interesting underwater community, as well as the famous Whale Shark. Giant Manta Rays can also be found there.

If you have not checked into this unbelievable natural resource for your family and friends to visit you may book a trip at the links supplied by NOAA below or simply watch a movie about it. Everyone needs to know about this amazing national marine sanctuary that has remained virtually hidden from the public’s eye for more than 100 years. Click on the sites below and do a little exploring of your own. This is a great place to visit and learn about.


To Book a Trip to the Flower Gardens…………….Click Here

To watch a Video on the Flower Gardens………………Click Here

Gulf of Mexico Artificial Reefs

Who Knew?!? Texas has an extensive Gulf of Mexico Artificial Reefs program dating all the way back to the 1990’s. It was specifically designed to promote, develop, maintain, monitor and enhance the artificial reef potential of Texas offshore waters.

How does the Gulf benefit from these artificial reefs you ask? Well, natural coral reefs in tropical systems are normally found in shallow and warm water environments where the sun can penetrate them. The Gulf coast near Texas is much cooler, sometimes dropping to 60 degrees in the winter. The murkier water keeps the sun from penetrating it very well. This is a bad combination for a natural reef system to survive in, let alone thrive.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to thousands of plants and animals that desperately need an environment to cling to so that they can fulfill their life cycles. The Gulf has very few naturally occurring reef systems, such as the Flower Gardens near the coast of Galveston.  This artificial reef program gives invertebrates, corals, sponges, clams, crabs, jellyfish, hydroids and also bryozoans the hard surface they require grow and reproduce in. Even more importantly their energy then provides for others in the food chain. This creates a thriving culture in species such as snapper, grouper, mackerel, sharks and many more. Also, divers, anglers, spear-fisherman and many others then enjoy the benefits of these larger species as they provide enjoyment and food for years to come.

Here is more on the program at the TPWD website……………………..Click Here