Category Archives: Watersports

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 Fish That Changed America

If you have wondered how Bass fishing evolved from a quiet little pastime to a $100 billion dollar industry, The Fish That Changed America is the book for you. This is the history of the sport of Bass fishing told by those who actually engineered the change. Reader’s ranging from the occasional weekend warrior to the professional angler will love the stories that are so masterfully told in this book.

The topics and stories in the book cover lures, boats, lakes and even the business side of Bass fishing. They are told by men like Trig Lund (last surviving staff member of Heddon Co.), Bill Lewis (designer of the famous Rat-L-Trap), Jack Windgate (early Fish Camp owner on Lake Seminole), Paul Allison (who cupped the 1st outboard propeller), Virgil Ward, Dee Thomas, Forrest Wood, Tom Mann and the iconic Bill Dance.

The topics they cover in this interesting collection of stories include a complete background on their topics. One fascinating story was how the Corps of Engineers began constructing the dams that form today’s best bass lakes and how Johnny Morris created the first superstore of bass fishing Bass Pro Shops.  This book is not about tournament fishing its about the entire sport. You will learn how many different facets of the sport came together at the right time to form the booming industry it is today.

You will love owning this book and it is the perfect read for you down time while at the lake or even the seashore. Bring this one home today for your collection.

The Fish That Changed America - By Steve PriceReviews on this Book:

Price, a Hall of Fame journalist, is the perfect author for this book; he’s witnessed much of the evolution as a Bassmaster Senior Writer and topnotch bass writer for decades.”   — South Bend (Indiana) Tribune

“A compelling read. It brings history to life through the unique firsthand accounts of the men who shaped the amazing growth of a great American sport. I couldn’t put it down, and neither will you.”   Ray Scott, founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society

“An incredible collection of stories from the people who were instrumental in building the sport of bass fishing. I absolutely loved it!”   —Shaw Grigsby, professional angler

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.






Pelican Island Bay Galveston

Pelican Island Bay Galveston is a great little fishing area. However, it is so much more than that. The Island itself has a rich and historical past. Pelican Spit was merged with Pelican Island to form what visitors see today. This was the location of Fort Jackson and a famous battle during the Civil War. Today it houses Texas A&M @ Galveston, Seawolf Park and a USCG facility. For the most part it has remained a Pelican and Bird unofficial habitat. This island has also been a unregulated portPelican Island of entry for many immigrants beginning in the 1830s, leading to several outbreaks of yellow fever. The young city instituted quarantine measures in 1839 and the site officially become a quarantine facility. The quarantine facility was destroyed in hurricanes and rebuilt many times. It remained a quarantine facility off and on until the 1950s.

As you come near Pelican Island Bay area you will see the SS Selma partially submerged near Seawolf Park. Steel shortages during World War I led the U.S to build experimental c\oncrete ships, the largest of which was the SS Selma. It has long been the object of failed plans to convert it into an oyster farm, fishing pier, Pelican Island Ipleasure resort and more. Scientists still continue to study the ship because of its unique concrete construction.

Also, 150 years ago next month the Battle of Galveston took place in the bay area there, as well as, the entire island. By the end of the battle, 26 Confederates had been killed and 117 wounded. About twice that many U.S. Federal forces died in the conflict. The Union’s showcase vessel and nearly 400 men were captured. More importantly for the Texans, however, was that their victory restored control of Galveston to the Confederacy, where it would remain for the balance of the war. Next time you take a trip to Galveston, do not forget to make a stop at this fascinating little piece of Southeast Texas history. It will make a great side excursions to your day.

Launching Your Boat

Have you ever tried watching one of those youtube videos on “Launching Your Boat?” Try it sometime, you will start feeling a whole lot better about your launch mishaps. You suddenly become fully aware that there are those out there who are doing it a lot worse than you. Here are some quick tips to help you become proficient at launching  a boat correctly everytime.

Check, Check and Recheck

Do not get sloppy when preparing to launch your vessel. Run through a pre-launch checklist covering all the basics, such as the drain plug being in for deck boats. Check for the simplest things, which could really save you out on the water. Don’t forget to look the trailer over either. Most importantly check the parking brakes on your towing vehicle. Also, get out and check the launch lane, before beginning your launch for obstructions or interference. Always check to see that you have packed the right tools to assist you should the towing vehicle end up in the water, like a winch.

Practice, Practice and Practice

New boaters can’t practice launching enough. Find an empty parking lot to practice backing up with a boat in tow. Its trickier than one would think. It can take quiet awhile to perfect the method. Practice speeds up this skill tremendously. When your at the launch ramp make friends with everyone. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help if you need it. Remember to return the favor if you ever see someone struggling also. There is such a thing as etiquette at the dock. Familiarize yourself with what others expect out of fellow boaters for a much more pleasant experience out of your launch. If someone appears to be in a huge hurry its always best to let them go on ahead. Be prepared fully by the time you are at the launch. Nothing is more irritating to fellow boaters than having to wait for an unprepared boater to launch.

At Day’s End

Common courtesy is most important here. Everyone is usually tired and ready to get home, be patient. When it comes your time, be prepared to move quickly and efficiently. Have your gear ready to take off the boat. Have get the boat ready to go on the trailer, while your waiting in line. Let someone out to go get the trailer as soon as you have the option.

Once the trailer arrives, slowly back it into the water using the boat’s bow and stern lines to line the boat up. After that guide the boat onto the trailer instead of driving it for optimum safety. Watch for individuals being in the direct line of the winch cable in case it breaks. Once you are back up in the parking lot, make sure all loose gear is stowed away securely, drain all water from the boat and check that your lights are hooked up to the vehicle before you drive off. Last but not least do the environment a favor and always make sure your boat is cleaned and free of invasive critters before you go to launch it again.

Neches River Primitive Camping and Paddling

The lower Neches is designated a “Wild & Scenic” River. It winds gently through the “Big Thicket National Preserve” region of S.E. Texas.  The river’s watershed drains thousands of acres of floodplain for hundreds of miles north of  Beaumont area. There is no better area for “Neches River Primitive Camping and Paddling.”

This amazing river is attractive to native paddlers and campers because of its unbelievable scenery. It has a jungle like appearance at certain times of the day. It is filled with Cypress sloughs, tall bluffs, plenty of Oxbow lakes and a mix of hearty loblolly pine and hardwood forest. There are gorgeous pearl white sandbars for day use and swimming. They Village Creek area of the main tributary is a great little oasis for primitive camping also.

The river’s path is very pristine within the perimeters of the watershed itself and is generally free of very many humans. The local wildlife isn’t that dangerous either, other than your typical snakes, gators, a lost honey bear, a few scattered wolves and an officially reported “Bigfoot” sighting.  This “Wild & Scenic” designated River offers its visitors tons of adventures, not to mention photographic vistas to die for. The uniquely Texan pioneer culture that still resides abundantly in the backwoods towns surrounding the area has thrived for over a century; tourists will enjoy experiencing it.

With a quick google search of “Canoe Rentals in Lumberton, Texas” or “Village Creek State Park” you will have all the information you need to begin planning your canoe or camping trip.

Vortex Wins 2015 Innovation Awards



Nashville, GA – Chaparral’s new Vortex Aerial Surf Platform (ASP) has been awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Innovation Award. The award was announced February 12, 2015 at the Miami International Boat Show.

 243 Vortex“Our new Vortex jet boats are revolutionizing the jet boat world,” said Chaparral President Jim Lane. “Interest in wake surfing is increasing as a water sport. The ASP and this award verify that you can enjoy the sport of wake surfing with all the benefits of jet drive at a fraction of the cost of traditional surf boats.” According to Mike Fafard, VP of Engineering, “It was exciting to work on the ASP project with my design team.  We understood the challenge of pioneering a wake with jet power.  The results were best described by the professional riders who were amazed at the exceptional surf wake.” The new Aerial Surf Platform is an addition to the molded swim step, reshaping the wake and making it deeper and more conducive to the rapidly growing sport of wake surfing

“When it comes to overall performance and family fun it’s tough to beat a Vortex,” said Chaparral Founder Buck Pegg. “Our new wake shaping Aerial Surf Platform is truly breakthrough technology that will prove a game changer in watersports.” 

The Innovation Awards, organized by the NMMA and judged by Boating Writer’s International (BWI), recognizes products that best meet the following criteria: innovative distinction fromInnovation Trophy other products currently being manufactured; benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer; practicality; cost-effectiveness; and availability to the consumer within 60 days of award receipt.

This marks Chaparral’s second NMMA Innovation Award, following on the heels of recognition for the 327 SSX as the world’s first bowrider full beam cuddy cabin. 

Available at No Haggle, Real Deal prices including a trailer, Chaparral’s Vortex jet boats include six offerings from 20- to 24-feet. The just introduced Aerial Surf Platform addition, along with a three tank ballast system, is available as optional equipment on Chaparral’s 223 and 243 VR and VRX Vortex jet boat models.

 About Chaparral Boats, Inc & Robalo Boats LLC. Chaparral Boats, Inc. and Robalo Boats LLC are leading manufacturers of fiberglass boats under two brand names: sterndrive, jet and outboard pleasure boats by Chaparral, including H2O Sport and Fish & Ski Boats, SSi and SSX Sportboats, Sunesta Sportdecks, Xtreme Towboats, Signature Cruisers and Vortex Jet Boats, SunCoast Outboard Sportdecks, and outboard sport fishing boats by Robalo.

 Chaparral Boats and Robalo Boats are subsidiaries of Marine Products Corporation (NYSE: MPX).  For more information about Marine Products Corporation, Chaparral, and Robalo visit our websites at,, and

Southeast Texas Wildlife Artists, Lowell Mower

Lowell Mower is a wildlife and nature artist based in Houston, Texas. His love of the outdoors, as well as his passion for hunting and fishing, have influenced his artwork. It has also made him a favorite artist amongst conservationists and outdoor sportsmen.

Lowell says “Having spent all my life in Texas, I am biased towards the raw beauty and strength of the land. I believe many of the stories held in its hills, plains and wetlands have yet to be depicted in painting. If 100 artists spent their entire careers doing works based in Texas, they would not be able to capture all that it has to offer.”

Lowell 5Lowell’s artistic training began as a boy taking art lessons at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where he learned to sculpt lead birds and combine the use of basic shapes to draw. He also spent a quantity of time in the company of prominent local artists such as Frank Davis, Forest Moses and Bill Anzalone. His father, a respected architect in his own right, played a major role in helping Lowell develop his drawing skills early on. “I remember sitting at the drafting desk working out sketches on tracing paper and using electronic erasers. I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world.”

Indeed, Lowell was very lucky. Growing up, his family traveled extensively throughout Europe. His mother, who worked for the airlines, was instrumental in exposing him to a wide variety of art from all over the world. Visits to the Vatican, the Louvre, and the Cistine Chapel heightened Lowell’s appreciation for art. However, Lowell’s inspiration for his own art was deeply rooted in a place far away from those masterpieces – Texas.

Lowell’s passion for nature and the outdoors is apparent in his art. A devout fisherman and amateur scuba diver, Lowell’s ‘paintings often depict marine life. As a boy, Lowell was fascinated with the beauty and mystery of the ocean. While other kids went to Disneyworld for a few days, 20150111_164212Lowell was face down snorkeling on a coral reef in Tahiti, Jamaica, or Cancun. “I’ll never forget the first time I went to Laguna Madre. My dad was working on the Pan American University there and we stayed at a hotel directly on the water. I looked down into the water at seemingly infinite grass beds and reefs teaming with oysters and scallops. It was something I had never seen in Galveston. Then as soon as the sun went down, everyone turned on their lights and made a mad scramble to grab fishing rods and fish the massive black shadow of trout that covered the bay like a curtain. It took thirty minutes for the trout to pass through. Needless to say, I was hooked”.

Lowell’s first exposure to hunting came during visits to a 500 acre ranch outside of Wimberly, Texas. “At first light there were hundreds of turkey dropping out of the cypress trees along the Lowells PictureComal River,” Mower recalls, “but even more impressive were the occasional heart stopping coveys of quails the dogs rushed out near gravel bars and low-lying brush. “Lowell tries to hunt dove and quail at least a couple of times a year. “the quality of my work would suffer greatly without spending time in the outdoors.” As a father of two young boys, Lowell understands the importance of teaching his boys about hunting and fishing the great outdoors. at passion and love for the outdoors is transcended in his paintings and conveys the unwritten beauty of the outdoor world for all to enjoy.

If you have not checked out this artists work, do so. You will certainly want some of his paintings in your own home.  Here is his website for your viewing pleasure…..Lowell Mower Website