3 tips on how to release a fish

Catch and release has become a more popular practice with fishing for a number of reasons. Some species are required by law to be returned to the water, some release fish in the interest of conservation and others simply refuse to kill something they won't eat. Nonetheless, knowing how to release a fish properly is most important, otherwise the fish may end up dying anyway. 

Here are three tips on how to safely release a fish back to the water: 

Handle with care: Cradling a fish by its lip puts stress on its jaw and internal organs. Also the gills of a fish are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged. Holding it horizontally and keeping your hands around the lower jaw area or the belly are the best ways to prevent injury.

Land the fish quickly: Exhaustion is one of the most crucial factors regarding a fish's survival. Also, the energy level of a fish especially becomes unpredictable during warm weather when higher-temperature water means lower dissolved oxygen levels for the fish to rely on, resulting in quicker and more intense incidents of stress and fatigue for the fish. Ending the fight as quickly as possible elevates the chances of survival significantly. 

Mind the hook: Barbless hooks are ideal when planning on throwing fish back as they are easier to remove and minimize the chances of punctured fingers during the process. Long-nose pliers are also a handy tool for smooth removals. Another trick that can be used is holding the fish upside-down which sometimes helps pacify it and reduce the overall time needed to remove the hook.   

Also, if you're looking for a fishfinder or any other fishing boat accessories, visit ePal Inc. today!

Police cracking down on drunk boating

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 62 boating deaths occurred in 2013. With alcohol being suspected to have played a role in many of the incidents, and some of them having a high profile nature, Florida law enforcement has begun addressing safe boat driving concerns more aggressively, especially in regard to people operating a boat while drinking alcohol. This past Sunday, August 10, the Miami-Dade Police Department's Marine Patrol was out on the waters testing anyone who was suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance. 

"The word will get out that we're going to stop you," Lupo Jimenez with the Miami-Dade Police Department told CBS Miami. "If you've been drinking and you're operating a boat, we're going to handle it the same way we would handle a DUI." 

The police believe that there presence on the water alone is enough to deter irresponsible behavior. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission confirmed for Miami's CBS local that they are still investigating this year's most deadly boating crash to date, resulting in the death's of the operator and three others after Independence Day fireworks. The operator's blood alcohol level has not been released but it is widely suspected that he had been driving while intoxicated. And just a week ago, a father of four died when his boat crashed into a pier at Pelican Harbor. 

Along with looking to protect drivers from themselves, a heightened presence of police on the waters will provide extra comfort to families with children who are looking to avoid anybody riding while under the influence.

Staying safe should be everyone's top priority while enjoying your time on the water. And, as always, for any of your boating and boat accessory needs, contact ePal Inc. Our array of products, and knowledgeable customer service, are just what you're looking for to enjoy the rest of this summer.

Teachers teach math through boat-building

When thinking about possible summer school assignments, working on a boat at a country club probably wouldn't instinctively rank high on your list. But two teachers from Hamden Middle School of Hamden, Connecticut, have found a way to create a harmonious union between boating and math lessons.

Andrew Marzano, an eighth-grade science teacher, and Frank Kachmar, a technology teacher, have teamed up to educate eighth-grade students on math and science skills by helping them build a sailboat. Marzano said that the idea of combining boat-building with math and science lessons came to him after watching people build boats at Connecticut's Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the world. 

The three-week program was designed to meet the needs of students who have faced challenges with math and science and incorporates principles about angles, measurements and adding and subtracting fractions into the curriculum. According to the New Hampshire register, Marazano especially sees value in the boat-building initiative because it "really incorporates math, science, history and English." 

Marazono also enjoys seeing students who "work better with their hands, rather than a pencil and notebook" making the connections between math and building boats, and growing excited about the two as the project continues.

"They start to see it's not just a hammer and nails, but that it's actually something functional," Marzano said.

Michael Cox, one of the students in the program, expressed his enthusiasm for building the boats, specifically when learning how to measure the seats properly. 

If building an entire boat is a little more work than you're looking to do, maybe finding some high quality boat accessories like a handheld marine gps are more your speed. These products an more are available through ePal Inc. at great prices. Contact us today!

3 tips for safer boating with pets

There is still a good amount of time left in the summer for boating adventures. And it's never a bad time to consider the best ways to share those rides with your pets. Boating with a furry friend can be a great bonding experience, especially when you plan ahead for any complications that may arise. So here are a few tips to help minimize the challenges that come with bringing a four-legged loved one aboard:

Adjusting to the Boat: As it goes with most pets and new items, especially young pets, incrementally introducing them to the boat and water is best. Letting him or her run around the deck while the boat is docked or just turning on the engine so your pet can acclimate to its sounds and smells are great for helping your pet learn to love the experience naturally. A few small cruises to fully introduce the pet to the riding experience would ensure that a lengthy ride in the future would go smoother.  

Flotation Devices: Even if your pet is a good swimmer, falling into water unexpectedly, as dogs occasionally do when trying to leap from a boat to the dock, can throw anyone into a panic. A pet life jacket is, at least, a great way to protect your pet from his or her own clumsiness. 

Using the bathroom: Creating a space for your pet to use the bathroom may be one of the most daunting challenges. Cats are relatively easier, as a litter box can fit in most areas, but dogs can prove to be a little more complicated. If there are no planned stops on land for the dog to go ashore and handle his or her business, then a portable dog potty may be your best bet.

And if you're looking for any boat accessories or other products, visit ePal Inc. today!

3 tips for staying safe on the water

The start of summer has many boat owners out on the water with friends and family. While boating is a wonderful recreational summertime activity, if skippers or passengers are not taking all precautions, it can end badly.

In Chicago over the weekend, for example, a 33-foot-long motor boat capsized on Lake Michigan, casting four passengers into the chilly waters. One man was found 12 hours after the time of the accident, floating on life jackets. He is the only known survivor at this time, and the cause for the accident remains a mystery according to the report from the Chicago Tribune.

While the case in Chicago is still under investigation, it is important to keep in mind that preventative measures on and off land can ensure the safety of all aboard your boat.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) offers some memorable tips for safe boating this summer:

Don't drink and drive- Boating under the influence is both dangerous and illegal. The USCG says that "alcohol is more hazardous on water than on land. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker's impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator's coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol."

Undergo a vessel check- A free and beneficial service, a vessel check is done by a certified examiner at a time that is good for both parties. With no charge and no consequence if your boat is missing a key element, or has something fundamentally wrong, having your boat checked out before it goes in the water is a great way to ensure safe travels this summer.

Wear a life jacket! According to statistics presented by the USCG, the chance of drowning while wearing a life jacket are 1 in 66, whereas the chances without a life jacket are 1 in 11. In fact, it is unlawful to not have an equal person to life jacket ratio aboard your vessel.

As always, for all your boat accessories, look to ePal Inc. Our array of products, and knowledgeable customer service, are sure to get you everything you need to have a safe and fun time on the water this summer.

The best bass fishing sites to check out this summer

Now that Memorial Day has passed, we're right at the beginning of the best season for fishing. Let's face it: there are other fish out there, but if you're a serious angler, then you're probably on the hunt for bass. These fish are fun to catch, taste delicious and can be found in just about any part of the country.

Recently, Field And Stream Magazine listed the best places to check out around the U.S. if you're a bass fishing enthusiast. Some of the locations they wrote about include:

  • Falcon Lake, Zapata, Texas: You'll want to bring your sunscreen if you take a trip to Falcon Lake, as it's right near the U.S.-Mexico border and temperatures routinely top 100 degrees. But you'll also want to bring plenty of bait. You can expect to catch quite a few largemouth bass over 10 pounds on this pond.
  • Lake Erie (especially near ­Sandusky, Ohio): You'll be hard-pressed to find a better place to catch smallmouth bass, and this time of year Sandusky has lovely weather.
  • Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Alabama: This was the site of the Bassmaster Classic in February 2014. You can typically find 8- to 10-pound bass on this lake, particularly in the summer, which Field And Stream describes as "grass-fishing time on Guntersville."

Of course, you'll have an easier time catching fish at these destinations if you have a boat with all the latest marine electronics and navigation equipment. If you'd like to have more success locating fish, make sure you purchase a new fishfinder from ePal. We have the best prices, and you'll find that our free ground shipping can't be beat!

Raymarine introduces new boating displays

One of the most important tools you can have on board your vessel is a multifunction display that connects your chartplotter, fishfinder and other instruments together so that they can be monitored in one place. If you haven't had one of these gadgets installed on your boat, now may be the time, as Raymarine has announced three new models that are almost certainly going to show up on your wishlist.

Here are the three models that were unveiled by Raymarine, along with some of their most notable features:

  • A9 & a12 Multifunction Touch Display: Available in 9-inch and 12-inch models, as well as the already-available 5 and 7.5-inch displays, these multifunction screens can serve as your central command center when you're on your boat. They feature a beautiful touch-screen that can be manipulated with pinch-to-zoom functionality. They feature a super bright, high resolution LED display that will look great even with a daylight glare.
  • GS195 Glass Bridge Multifunction Display: Owners of premium yachts will be hardpressed to find a better screen for their control panel. The 19.5-inch multi-touch display provides captains with unparalleled flexibility in terms of configuration, and built-in WiFi means you don't have to worry about cables running in and out of your cabin.

You can find all the latest marine instruments and technology at great prices by shopping with ePal. We carry the largest selection of gear and devices you'll find anywhere, and our free shipping policy to the lower 48 states means that the price you see on our site is the one you pay. Browse our store today for our latest deals!

Boat sales rise in April

New data shows that boat sales are recovering from their winter slump, which could mean that the summer season will be a profitable one for builders and dealers. Trade Only Today reports that preliminary numbers from marketing and research Info-Link indicate that unit sales of outboard and powerboats were also higher year-over-year.

"We're on a continued upswing," Jack Ellis, Info-Link managing director, told the source. "April has essentially demonstrated what we as an industry had been predicting or hoping. We're going to come out the other end of this brutal winter and people will start buying boats again, even though it's a little later than last year."

Ski boats had a particularly good month, with sales rising 15 percent. Outboard sales were also higher, at about 10 percent above last year's levels. As Ellis notes, this has a lot to do with weather. In the winter months, the only part of the country with an active boating community is Florida. However, it's also clear that an improving economic outlook is having an effect on customers' willingness to invest in new watercraft. 

Boating typically takes the biggest hit when the economy slows down, as customers find they either have less disposable income or they are worried that their jobs may be in jeopardy.

However, it seems pretty clear that the boating industry has a bright future ahead. If you've recently purchased a new or used boat and you'd like to outfit it with the latest marine accessories and technology, your best bet is to shop with ePal. We carry the top brands, and our free shipping policy can't be beat! Browse our website today for our latest deals!

South Dakota fisherman catches 128 lb. paddlefish

Paddlefish are a popular target in the Midwest and Northern United States, as they typically live a long time and grow to extremely large sizes. As a result, you'll occasionally hear about anglers reeling in big catches. Recently, however, an angler in South Dakota caught a paddlefish that represents a whole new ball game for the species.

The Star Tribune reports that Bill Harmon caught a 127-pound, 9-ounce paddle fish in Lake Francisc Case on May 7, which beat a record that had stood for 35 years when another angler caught a 120-pound specimen. Harmon's catch is seen as a victory not just for the angler, but for the species, which had in recent years seen its numbers dwindle. A stocking program was instituted in the early 90's, which led to the replenishment of paddlefish populations at Lake Francis Case.

"One of the original goals of the paddlefish stocking program was to initiate a sport fishery for this species," Jason Sorensen, a South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' fisheries biologist, told the source. "Paddlefish are a long-lived species and the Lake Francis Case population has some very old fish. There is potential for anglers to harvest large paddlefish and Bills' recent catch is proof of that."

If you want to catch large paddlefish like the one Harmon pulled in, you're going to need heavy gauge fishing line, as well as a large capacity reel for deeper parts of the lake. We'd also recommend investing in a good fishfinder from Garmin, Raymarine or Furuno, which will help locate the biggest groupings and schools. You can find the latest fishfinder technology at ePal, along with other fishing and navigation equipment that will make you a more successful angler!

How can I contact the U.S. Coast Guard if I’m in trouble while out on the water?

Hopefully, there won't be a time when you'll need to contact the United States Coast Guard (USCG) due to an emergency aboard your vessel. However, it's always good to know how to get in touch with the USCG in the event of an emergency, such as a boat collision or a medical issue for one of your crew members that requires speedy transportation to the shore.

There are three principle ways that you can contact the USCG, although only two of them are recommended if you are in distress:

  • By Phone: You can call them on your cell phone, if you have service, simply by dialing 911. Once you tell the dispatcher that you are at sea or on a lake, they will immediately forward your call to UCSG (or the lake policing authority, if they have immediate jurisdiction). Of course, cell phones don't always have service when you are far away from shore, so this will only work if you are within a few miles of the coast.
  • Using your VHF radio: Channel 16 on VHF frequencies is reserved for USCG communications. If you're in distress, hold your transmit button and say "Mayday" three times. Then provide all necessary information about your status and location, including the vessel name, your position, the nature of your emergency and the number of people who are on board. Once you make the call, wait 10 seconds. If you don't receive a response, keep repeating the call.

Of course, you'll have a much easier time contact the USCG if you have a marine radio on board that is reliable. If you're in need of new communication equipment for your boat, make sure to browse ePal's online store today for the latest deals.