Striped Bass Fishing at Lake Pleasant – Again!
Posted by

I’m hoping that you read about my first experience at fishing stripers in Arizona. It was a blast, and Anthony and Derrick from Striper Snatcher Guide Service did an awesome job.

Well, a bunch of us that were on that trip were chomping at the bit to go again, so we scheduled another trip. They had been slaying them big time during the day, particularly on Derrick’s self-designed and self-produced Trendsetter Jigs. To add to the excitement, the guys had been getting into some pretty big fish.

Our first trip was 8-Midnight but since they had been having luck during the day, we decided to try a 5PM – 9PM trip. We met at the dock at 4:45 and got underway.

Lake Pleasant, Arizona

Day fishing is a bit different. Seems like you cruise around until you find a school and then the jigs go in, trolling in between spots. Anthony knew where to go and in spite of some chop and a bit of a headwind, soon we had spoons in the water. Action seemed to ebb and flow a bit and by the time we had moved to a second spot it was time to switch to night fishing. To be clear, we were into fish heavy – the fish finders were lit up constantly – they just didn’t seem to be as hungry. Nonetheless we were boating some fish, but throwing some back too. Soon it was dark, we had lights in the water and anchovy chunks baited up. The stripers were hanging all up and down – from 20 feet to 60. A bit unusual was the amount of catfish caught. We probably caught 6 or 7 all together – Anthony commented the most he had seen on a trip like this.

The action was a bit different than the previous outing (translation: other people caught lots, but I didn’t catch as many as last time!) but it was still an amazing time. I’m new to striped bass so I’m learning stuff every minute. My friend Ken and I came home with about 5 or 6 apiece, so my family (who has a new found affinity for fried striper) was really happy.

I can’t stress enough how fun this fishing is, how effective it is and best of all – what a good deal it is. The guys supply everything except a cooler and your fishing license. On weekends they run 1 hour trips all day for $25 and hour or $45 for two hours. They will do 4 hour trips as well. During the week you can make an appointment for when you want, based on their availability.They know the water, and they know the tactics, and they know the tackle. The rest is between you and the fish!

Want to try?

You can visit them on Facebook here: Striper Snatcher Facebook Page

You can visit their website HERE

Finally, learn more about Derrick Frank’s kickass jigs here: Trendsetter Jigs

Thanks again to Anthony for being a great host and guide, and to Derrick for running a class operation!

Trasol Ballistic App by Desert Tech – A Review
Posted by

I’d like to thank Bruno Reis from Brainspin for reaching out to me and getting me this cool app from Desert Tech for review.

From their website:

TRASOL WAS DEVELOPED for precision shooters who desire first round hit accuracy to 1500 meters and beyond. By developing new ballistic algorithms that reshape predictive flight curves to align with Doppler radar data, TRASOL provides the most accurate predictions available.

There is genius in simplicity. TRASOL is the first ballistic application to incorporate Heads-Up Display technology.

By using your mobile device’s built-in camera and onboard sensors, TRASOL allows users to point their device at their
target and automatically generate absolute accuracy solutions.

The HUD environment has highly intuitive drag and drop tools for quick input of Range and Wind (without any typing) and the device’s sensors do the rest. The HUD also allows tracking of moving targets to provide very accurate lead solutions.

Lastly, the photo/video capturing capability allows you to log your shots easily and share them with your friends.

A) Heads-Up Display technology
B) Auto-sensing technology
C) Moving target tracking
D) Photo/video capturing with image zoom
E) Photo/video sharing

As expected, this is a great app, and can operate well beyond my capabilities. I’m trying to get my .270 WSM set up to a point where I’m comfortable shooting out to 600-700 yards. Currently, I’m stretching it at 500. That being said, this app is great, and certainly has a place in the average hunter’s toolkit.

I consider my techie abilities to be “average” and I was able to set-up the app with my two pet loads. The app is fairly intuitive and data entry is easy. There are nice options for units as well. You can choose Metric or English; you can choose MRAD, MOA or IPHY. You can enter you bullet weight, coefficient, sight height, twist rate – you name it – all intended to produce the best data possible.

The ballistic calculator accounts for range, wind, slope, moving target, coriolis effect and more. There is even a HUD which utilizes your camera to calculate target speed, take snapshots and even shoot video.

I’ll post a Part 2 to this review once I get to the range but suffice to say, I recommend this app – what a great tool for shooters at every level. The App runs about 10 bucks and it is worth it.

Finally, check out this video:

Striper Fishing in Arizona
Posted by

When my good friend Ken suggested a striper fishing excursion in Arizona’s Lake Pleasant, I was all over it. Years ago, I fished a lot more than I hunted, and I had made a commitment to fish more this year. Ken and I had already had one successful outing this year, and I was ready for more. Fishing for stripers at night sounded awesome!

Striped bass are considered an invasive species in Arizona. They are non-native and very prolific. That being said striper fishing in Arizona is growing in popularity. Ken arranged the trip through Derrick Franks of Striper Snatcher Guide Service. Derrick has a great reputation and as it turns out has been running a great deal on fishing trips. Less than a hundred bucks for at least 4 hours of fishing? And all you need to bring is a cooler full of ice and a fishing license. Derrick provides the rest. Bait, tackle, you name it…

Unfortunately, scheduling during the summer monsoon season in Arizona can be a challenge. We were “stormed out” on two different occasions before we finally made it onto the water. There were seven of us and without too much fuss we were soon underway with Derrick’s partner Anthony Dovidio. Soon we were at the first spot. Anthony got lights in the water, got us all baited up, and pretty soon the stripers started hitting! It seemed like everyone was getting in on the action for awhile.

Night fishing for stripers

First big fish of the night

Soon we moved to another spot, and then another. It seemed like there were two types of fishing that night – fast and furious action with smaller fish being caught, and slower fishing but catching big ones. What a great night! Anthony was a great host, untangling lines during our amateur moments, boating our fish and keeping the hooks baited with anchovies. We had a great bunch of guys on the boat; everyone was a friend of someone. The weather was awesome.

Marshall’s nice striper

Towards the end of the night we met up with Derrick who had a couple of clients on his boat. We’re definitely going out again soon. I can’t say enough about Derrick, Anthony and Striper Snatcher Guide Service. These guys run a great operation. They know the lake. They know where the fish are, and how to catch them. They’re good guys and know their way around their boats. Add to all that, the price is right. I can’t imagine a guided trip anywhere where you catch more fish, and have that amount of fun, for that price. Very cool adventure for all of us. We boated around 23 that night with 3 that were superb stripers. The meat was 1st class. No bones when filleted correctly, and the meat is very mild. I baked some with lemon and dill; some of it I fried in butter after being dredged in flour and corn meal (the old-fashioned way!)

The night’s catch

Rapala Classic Birch Knife – A Review
Posted by

First I need to thank Bob Ringer of Spong PR and of course the folks at Rapala for sending one of their knives for me to review.

From their June Press Release:

Last year, Rapala, the most trusted name in fishing since 1936, brought its legendary blades from the fish camp to the field with the introduction of the new Classic Birch Collection Hunting Knives. Now, the knives are making their way to sporting goods retailers nationwide.

Made by Marttinni, the legendary Finnish blade manufacturers responsible for Rapala’s iconic Fish ‘n Fillet knife, the Classic Birch Collection offers six razor-sharp, durable knives for any hunter’s needs, including the following models:

- Drop Point Knife (3.75” blade)
- Clip Point Knife (4.5” blade)
- Bird Knife (3.75” blade)
- Gut Hook Knife (4.5” blade)
- Skinner Knife (4.5” blade)
- Caping Knife (3.5” blade)

I was sent a sample of the Caping Knife. Here are the specs:

Scalpel like in appearance and function, the Caping knife is the perfect choice for working with birds and small game. An excellent tool for removing hide from face of trophy animals.

• Compact and maneuverable, ideal for tight detail work
• Slight drop point with a surgical edge
• Razor-sharp blade of German 420 Stainless Steel
• Classic Rapala birch handle
• Through tang construction
• Genuine leather sheath with belt loop
• Molded one-piece scabbard for safe storage

First off, the folks at Rapala were kind enough to answer some questions for me about their new line of knives, back in July. You can read the interview here: Rapala Talks About Their Classic Birch Knives.

The first thing I noticed about this knife was the sharpness. Out of the box, this was easily the sharpest knife I have ever owned. Seriously, it rivals the knives that utilize the snap on scalpel blades. It is scary sharp. It is well-built. The blade tang runs all the way through the handle giving it great strength. I leaned on the blade trying to flex it or break it to no avail. Not that looks matter much in the field but the knife is a handsome implement. I love the classic birch handle which also helps make it a nice-looking knife.

The blade is well-shaped for caping and the right size as well. With the design of the point and the overall shape of the blade it’s great for finer work and getting into small places. The grip is fat enough to make it easy to hold, especially when wet or bloody and the contour is perfect along with the thumb relief contour on the back of the blade.

One thing I didn’t test is how well the edge holds on the knife under regular field use. I hope to put it through its paces in late October on my Arizona mule deer hunt. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up. What is striking to me with this knife is the balance between craftsmanship and pragmatism. On one hand, this knife is a true work of art; on the other, I have no doubt that it will stand up to heavy use. It will definitely be in my pack this fall.

These knives retail for about 28 bucks. An absolute steal and worth every penny. If you’re looking for a new knife, check out the Classic Birch line from Rapala.

Product Review – Vapium Summit Plus Vaporizer
Posted by

Thanks to Ethan Anderson of Evan Nison Consulting for sending me one of these to review!

IMPORTANT! This is a bit of new territory for me, so I feel the need to state unequivocally the following: I do not, under any circumstances condone illegal activity. This isn’t a “wink,wink,nod nod” statement. I am serious. Whether it is illegal drug use, poaching, or parking in the fire lane, I don’t condone it. Period.

That being said, I fully recognize that in many states marijuana for medical use is in fact, legal. I particularly follow its use in treating PTSD for Veterans, a topic near and dear to my heart. My wife is a medical marijuana card holder. She is a quadriplegic and an amputee as well. She served as my guest reviewer. ~DesertRat

What caught my interest for this product was the product description from Ethan: “Just getting in touch because I thought you might be interested in trying out this durable, water-resistant vaporizer called the Summit Plus.
It’s perfect for people who spend a lot of time outside. This slick and compact vaporizer can handle extreme temperatures, is splash-proof and dust protected, and quickly and easily loads and heats dry leafy materials.”

From the Vapium Website:


Summit Plus™ by VAPIUM® is a rugged portable vaporizer that is as powerful as it is easy to use. With innovative technology, high-quality construction and intuitive functionality crafted specifically for on-the-go use, Summit refines industry standards of both utility and style. It promises to perform wherever the trail may lead, and beyond.


Ergonomic – textured easy-grip design
Tethered, magnetic lid – no missing parts!
Easy maintenance – magnetic snap-together assembly
Durable, high-strength exterior


Low draw resistance
Stainless steel vapor pathway
Tested in snow and extreme cold
Lithium-ion battery – up to 1 hour of continuous use at 410°F/210°C
Automatic shut off


Use while charging – micro USB rechargeable
Stir Tool built in, simply remove to stir, mix and pack
Smartphone Control allows for pairing with your device for precise temperature and session time control (Available Summer 2016)
Continuous air path is constructed from laser welded stainless steel
Haptic feedback vibration indicates device readiness
8 temperature settings from 330°F to 440°F (160°C to 230°C)
LED battery indicator – displayed using 4 LEDs when Go Button is pressed

So my wife was very impressed with the design and the features. The design is simple, yet sturdy. It is well thought-out. The range of heat settings is very handy. It’s nice to have an 8-step, defined range of heating. The magnetic lid works really well and it is integrated with the controls. The pick is a nice feature. The Stand By and Heat functions work really well. Overall, it is well-designed, sturdily made and comes with some great features.

The one drawback in my wife’s testing was the draw. In spite of the great range of heat settings, she couldn’t seem to hit the sweet spot. She’d move up through the settings and they would be too cool and then “bam” in the next setting the draw was too hot. She indicated it was almost uncomfortable. To be fair, maybe it was the product, or maybe she needs to keep experimenting with heat, product, volume in the chamber and “tamping”. If she can find the right combo, she’ll be a fan.

My impression is that this is a great Unit, and fairly priced at about 150 bucks. It comes with the following:

Dry Bag
Cleaning Kit with Cleaning Brush, Elongated Cleaning Brushes, Cleaning Wipes, and Extra Screens
Built-in Pick/Pack Tool
Securing Ring
2 Mouth Guards
3 Replacement Screens
User Manual

Again, please check out the website for yourself. I think if you can get the hot draw problem solved, you’ll be really happy. The manual is detailed. The controls are extensive, easy to use and practical. Heck, you can pair it with your Smart Phone. The operation is easy, and the size of the Unit is just right.