6 little fishing tricks everyone should know

There are some fishing problems that can be solved with a big equipment purchase, but others just need a bit of ingenuity. As the idea of "life hacks" becomes wildly popular across the internet, many outdoors enthusiasts are shaking their heads and thinking, "We've been doing this all along" — little tricks for reusing items or making them more effective are at the heart of wilderness adventuring. Here are some of those tips to keep in mind the next time you're planning to head out on a fishing trip:

  • Make your bait more effective by sticking a nail into the end of plastic worm bait to make it bob and twist more in the water, making it look more like a real worm to gullible fish.
  • Run your reel under hot water to help newly spooled line to conform to the shape of the reel, preventing it from coming unspooled and coiling off the reel. 
  • Use stainless steel to remove fish odor from your skin. Soap and water are actually less effective for removing those tough marine odors than simply running your hands over any household stainless steel item — use a pan, a faucet, or a piece of cutlery, whatever you have around.
  • Freeze fish guts before throwing them away to keep the smell from building up in your garbage can.
  • Attach a wine cork to your eyeglass or sunglass strap so that if the glasses fall off during the struggle for a catch, they will float and can be easily recuperated.
  • Use a safety pin to hang hooks from so that they don't become tangled up in storage. 

If you're looking to go a bit further than these techniques, let ePal help you find the right fishing boat accessories for your needs. Use the chat feature on our website to contact us at any time. 

3 tips for catching fish in winter

Attention amateur anglers: Fishing season is not completely over. It's true that it does become harder to successfully catch fish once the temperature starts to drop, but that doesn't have to keep you from enjoying the pastime of fishing well into the winter. Just keep in mind that there are certain techniques to follow if you don't want to end up frozen out of the sport, so to speak. Here are some of those:

  • Know where to look: As the temperature drops, a basic instinct in fish kicks in that keeps them from moving around too much, allowing them to save energy. Therefore, just sitting out anywhere on a body of water is less likely to bring in a catch than targeting certain areas. More specifically, you should be looking for areas near the shore where the root systems of aquatic plants and trees form clusters that fish are likely to take shelter in. Fish can also be found absorbing energy in sunny areas or hiding in nutrient-rich deep waters.
  • Keep warm: Your own instincts are as good as a fish's in this respect — the best winter fishing is done on warm, sunny days, when fish are drawn to the surface by the sun's heat. If it's a frigid grey day, fish are likely to stay at home, so to speak, so do the same yourself.
  • Choose the right bait: In cold, clear water, fish are prone to feeding more based on sight, so use brightly-colored or live bait to catch their eye. Pre-baiting a particular section of the lake before you even head out on the water can also help prime the fish for your arrival.

If you're looking for fishing gear, such as a chartplotter or a fishfinder, ePal has what you need. Contact us for help finding the marine instruments that are right for you.

Boating in Florida? Watch out for migrating manatees

The yearly manatee migration has begun in Florida, with crowds of the gentle, intelligent animals sometimes known as "sea cows" flocking to the state's coasts in search of warm water to hide out in for the winter. Manatees are drawn to human-engineered sources of warm, fresh water, such as canals and outflows from power plants, because they don't have enough blubber to protect them from water temperatures any colder than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, they are often in danger of coming in contact with boats and causing accidents — about 60 manatees have been struck by boats in the state since January, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"It's a fairly common source of injury and death," said biologist Scott Calleson with the FWC. However, there are a few steps you can take to avoid harming these creatures and share the waters equally, while also keeping your own boat's crew safe:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses. Manatees only surface to breathe, and even then, "the only part of them that comes up is their little nose," according to marina dock master Skip McPadden. Wearing polarized sunglasses will help you spot them underwater.
  • Watch for circular patterns in the water. These can indicate that a manatee is swimming underneath.
  • Be careful around seagrass: Manatees are likely to be found grazing on seagrass beds, so give these an extra wide berth for a while.
  • Look up your zone on the FWC's website: A map of manatee protection zones can be found here.

Of course, if you're equipped with marine electronics such as a chartplotter or fishfinder, these instruments will point out the presence of large objects such as manatees in the water without any extra effort on your part. Contact ePal today for advice on outfitting your boat for manatee season. 

A beginner’s guide to EPIRBs

Whenever you set out for a long boating trip, it is crucial to bring along the proper safety equipment in case of an accident or an equipment malfunction. An EPIRB, or emergency position indicating radio beacon, is one of the best marine instruments you can equip yourself with for peace of mind on those long voyages. By connecting to a worldwide satellite network, an EPIRB is able to indicate the position of your vessel and other crucial information to be transmitted to search and rescue authorities.

Once the EPIRB has been activated, it determines its location using GPS, then sends a signal to a satellite network (in the case of a 406 MHz EPIRB, such as these ones available from ePal, this is the COSPAS/SARSAT system of satellites). This signal can also be activated automatically in case of an emergency, as some EPIRBs are designed to float and send out a distress signal upon immersion in water, and some can be activated via remote control. After the distress signal is received, the satellite network forwards it to the authorities on the ground, who send out the Coast Guard or Air Force Rescue to the indicated position. GPS-enabled 406 MHz EPIRBs have a location accuracy of about 100 feet from the original signal position, making them much more efficient than other types of EPIRB devices, whose location range can increase to over 12 square miles.

Due to the much greater accuracy of 406 MHz EPIRB devices, they have been the preferred form of EPIRB after the 2007 ban on 121.5 and 243 MHz EPIRBs took effect. If you're looking for a top quality EPIRB at an affordable price, check out the ACR Globalfix™ iPRO, on sale now at ePal for 36 percent off the usual retail price.

4 cold weather boating safety tips

Not everyone puts their boats in storage for the winter — some hardy souls either choose to keep pleasure boating through the season, or are required to by their job or circumstances. Either way, following proper safety protocol can mean the difference between a pleasant outdoor adventure and a harrowing tale of survival. Follow these tips to make sure you stay safe onboard this season:

  • Tell someone where you're going. Whenever you head out on the water in the winter, make sure to leave information on your intended route and when you plan to return with a responsible individual. This way, if something happens to you, someone will know immediately. This person can also contact you in case of adverse weather or accidents along your route so that you can avoid these problems.
  • Always carry a communication device. A functioning marine radio is crucial to be able to communicate with other vessels and avoid accidents, and to call for help in case of an emergency. ePal carries several types of marine radios that can be found here.
  • Carry flares or signaling devices. In winter storms, it can be hard for other vessels to find you if your boat is hidden in the snow after an accident. That's why carrying flares or an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) is so important in the winter.
  • Wear a life jacket and water-resistant clothing. Falling into icy water causes a shock to the system that leads to cardiac arrest and drowning. Being well-outfitted with a life preserver and appropriate clothing is absolutely necessary for survival in this case. 

If you're preparing to undertake a winter boating expedition, contact ePal for advice on the marine equipment and safety gear you'll need. We strive to provide customers with the right equipment for their needs and will personalize our recommendations to your needs. 

3 essentials for winter camping

If you're the type that gets cabin fever quickly when winter weather keeps you in the house for too long, you may be planning an expedition into the cold for one of the most daring outdoor activities there is — winter camping. But as you probably already know, adventure can turn to disaster in a heartbeat if you're not prepared, especially if the winter temperatures where you're planning to camp are particularly low. Here are a few things to make sure you take care of before you head out:

  • Clothing: Making sure you have all the necessary layers of clothing to take on the elements can be a matter of life and death, or at least a matter of frostbite versus intact extremities. Insulated boots (not normal hiking boots) are a must, and can be reinforced with several layers of socks and high gaiters. Mittens are warmer than gloves because each finger isn't isolated from the others and can build a pocket of heat together. Finally, make sure your outer layer is wind- and waterproof, but make sure to keep down jackets away from the campfire, since they are extremely flammable.
  • Gear: Your sleeping bag should be rated for temperatures colder than what you expect to experience, and a mummy-style bag with a hood is best for keeping warmth in at night. An especially thick sleeping pad will help keep the cold from the snow under the tent from seeping in as you sleep.
  • Information: This is perhaps the most important and the most often ignored step: Make sure you have all the information you may need, in terms of weather conditions, distances and locations, risks and hazards, emergency contacts, etc., before you head out so that if an emergency does arise you'll immediately know what to do.

If you're looking to get suited up and hike the frozen trails, or if you're looking for marine accessories at a good price, contact ePal for advice today!

4 unexpected great cities for boating

You may think that you would have to move to Florida to get the full year-round boating experience, but that simply isn't the case. Great places to live and boat abound all across the country, from the frigid Midwest to the muggy South and back up to the drizzly Northwest. Here's a list of some of our favorite lesser-known boating havens:

  • Seattle, Washington: If you walk for long enough anywhere in this cloudy, tech-savvy metropolis, you're eventually bound to hit water. The city is bounded on one side by Lake Washington and on the other by the Puget Sound, and as a result, boating opportunities abound. There's even a yearly event called Seafair where everyone in the city goes out on boats on Lake Washington to celebrate the integral role these bodies of water play in the city. 
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota: The twin cities are the capital of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and have the boating culture to go along with it. More than three times as many people own a boat in Minnesota as in Florida, and Lake Minnetonka is a popular destination. If you go out fishing in Minnesota, make sure to go after the delicious state fish, the walleye.
  • Providence, Rhode Island: Sailing is all the rage in this salty old New England city, with 12 schools in the area providing sailing courses and boat slips going for a robust rate on the market. In this respect, Rhode Island lives up to its nickname, the Ocean State. 
  • Austin, Texas: This progressive Southern city's year-round warm weather is a boon to all kinds of marine enthusiasts. Check out Lake Austin for a true Texan boating experience.

Let ePal help prepare you for boating in any weather with our wide selection of marine accessories. Check out the sales pages for great deals!

How to avoid the most common boating accidents

A real seaman never goes out on the water unprepared. To lower your chances of a fatal boating accident, it helps to know the most common types of incidents so that you're aware of what you might come up against someday. Use this list as a starting point in your preparations:

  • Collision with another boat: It may seem strange, since boats have lots of room to maneuver out of each other's way, unlike cars on a road. But this is exactly why it's important to remain vigilant — if you assume a collision is unlikely, you're more prone to causing one through lack of attention to steering. Aside from simply paying close attention to your surroundings, it can help to have a marine radio on board to communicate with other vessels in the area. 
  • Falls overboard: This is the number one cause of fatalities in boating accidents and can be avoided by simply requiring everyone onboard to wear a life jacket at all times. Yes, they're a bit awkward, but so is losing a life unnecessarily. ePal has a wide selection of life jackets for very reasonable prices.
  • Flooding or sinking: A sinking boat is every boater's nightmare. To avoid ever coming up against this problem, make sure your boat is regularly maintained, with no cracks or leaks anywhere. You should also take the time to check the weather before you head out and if there are storms in the area, make sure to be safe rather than sorry and stay at home.
  • Grounding: Running aground is incredibly frustrating, as you may need to be towed off whatever you're stuck on. To avoid this, consider investing in a depth indicator.

Here at ePal, we know you're not intimidated by the idea of an accident, you just need the proper marine accessories to help avoid one. Contact us today for advice on outfitting your vessel for the best and worst times.

How to decorate your home in a nautical style

Do you ever find yourself disappointed when you step off your boat to head home, wishing you could stay forever on the high seas? You may want to consider redecorating your house with a nautical theme. As home decorating projects go, this is relatively easy to achieve — you probably have some nautical knick-knacks at home already — and will let you feel like you're out on the water even when you have to stay home. Here are some starter tips:

  • Rope: As a keystone of the nautical experience and one of the most versatile materials there is, rope is a must-have in any marine-themed home. Use it as a banister for the main staircase, as a tieback for curtains, or wrap it around table legs for a subtle nautical accent.
  • Clocks, thermometers and barometers: The presence of these beautiful wood-accented marine weather instruments is not only stylish, but practical as well, as they will tell you when it's a good time to go out on the boat. ePal has a wide selection of thermometer/barometers and clocks in its home and office section
  • Natural decorations: Anything pretty you find out on the water you can use to decorate your house. Shells, driftwood, sea glass, and even well-preserved, clean-smelling seaweed can be used to lend oceanic flair to ordinary household fixtures. Try gluing shells to light switches, or displaying a driftwood collection on the mantle.
  • Stripes, anchors and more stripes: When in doubt, choose fabric accessories — such as throw pillows, bedsheets, dishtowels and napkins — with nautical pattern prints. Red or blue stripes, anchors, and semaphore flags are good bets that are carried by many home retailers.

Whether you're looking for form or function, ePal has something for you. Contact us for advice on purchasing marine accessories.

Night vision: How does it work?

Night vision cameras have numerous uses, from building security, to hunting, to creating a creepy atmosphere on "ghost hunting" TV shows. But have you ever stopped to think about how these cameras actually work? These are the main types of night vision cameras and how they allow us to see in the dark:

  • Thermal imaging: Most of the night vision cameras available at ePal employ thermal imaging technology. While the human eye can only detect a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum as visible light, thermal cameras use the heat radiation emitted by objects, especially animals and people, to create images of those objects. Areas of greater heat show up as brighter spots on the image. Since thermal cameras don't use visible light at all to create their images, they are ideal for use in especially dark areas and can take clear images through fog and smoke. 
  • Low-light imaging: This method works by collecting all the available visible light, then amplifying it so that the final image contains details visible to the human eye. Essentially, the electrons that enter through the lens are accelerated by an electric field and bounced off the walls of a specially treated tunnel, ending by hitting a phosphor screen, where the image is created. 
  • Infrared: Cameras that use near-infrared illumination technology combine receptors that are sensitive to infrared radiation with infrared illumination devices. Infrared cameras are particularly useful for accurately capturing images of fast-moving objects, such as cars and wild animals.

For advice on how to get started using night vision cameras in your outdoor activities, contact ePal today, or check out our selection of night vision devices online.