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.

What are the best saltwater fish to catch?

Experienced anglers always seem to know which fish are located nearby and are the easiest to catch. But if you're new to fishing then you probably don't know what species to look for and which ones you'll have the best chances of reeling in. To help you get started, we've put together a brief list of some of the most frequently encountered saltwater fish and how you should go about trying to catch them.

Here are a few species you'll definitely want to try catching on your next saltwater fishing expedition:

  • Flounder: Bleacher Report notes that flounder typically hang out around docks, pylons, reefs and other structures, and they usually stay close to the bottom. Make sure to be patient when going after them, as they aren't very aggressive about biting on bait. If you feel a tug on your line, wait just a few seconds before trying to reel one in.
  • Mahi Mahi: Tired of paying a lot of money for a mahi mahi steak at your favorite restaurant? You can catch your own as long as you have a good boat that you trust to take you out away form shore, as this is a deepwater fish. Look for flocks of birds diving into the water, as this is a sign that they have found a school of fish.
  • Red Drum: These are pretty common fish along the East Coast, and they're a favorite of experienced anglers. Experienced fisherman Joey Sweet recommends not fishing directly over them in the water, but off to the side at some distance in order not to disturb them.

You'll have a much easier time of making a big catch if you have the right equipment. Make sure your boat has all the marine instruments and gear you need by shopping at ePal!

Follow these tips when sleeping on your boat!

There may come a time that you'll need to sleep on your boat, most likely because you're in the midst of a long voyage. While sleeping on a boat in calm seas can be a pleasant experience, it's also very easy for it to turn into a dangerous situation if you're not careful, especially if you're sailing alone.

If you find yourself in a position where you'll need to sleep onboard your boat, make sure that you follow these tips:

  • If you're near shore, try to find a small protected cove: There's no point in anchoring in choppy waters if your within range of a cove that is protected from wind. This will also allow you to anchor to the shore.
  • Keep some lights on for other boaters: Make sure that your boat is plainly visible so that you aren't hit by other boaters. No matter how unlikely it is to happen, such a collision could be fatal and should be anticipated.
  • Use an anchor that is at least one size bigger than what is recommended for your vessel: Discover Boating recommends buying an anchor that weighs one pound for every two feet of boat length for most uses. But for overnight anchoring, they recommend one and a half pounds for every two feet of length.

For boaters who are looking for navigational and communication equipment for their vessel, there's no better resource for this gear than ePal. We have the best selection, prices and customer service of any supplier. Furthermore, you can't beat our shipping policy. We offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states, in addition to flat rate expedited options when you need your gear more quickly.

Is Colombia the next hot boating destination?

Colombia hasn't had the best reputation in the last few decades, with drug cartels and violence typically dominating the news that makes its way to the United States. But much of that is history, and some are predicting that Colombia will become the next big boating destination for fishermen and yachters.

It makes sense that the country would be a prime spot for boaters. It has long coastlines on both its Pacific and Atlantic sides, and many large ports where vacationers can anchor and explore. In addition, there's plenty of fishing to be had in these areas.

To attract more boating tourism, the country has been hosting boat shows, including the Cartagena International Boat Show, which was held recently in the Pacific city of Cartagena. The show drew over 3,000 attendees, representing an increase of 165 percent over last year, according to Trade Only Today. Held in late March, the show's vendors were especially happy about the turnout.

"In Colombia now, we see tourism as one of the main sources of employment," Santiago Rojas, Colombia's minister of tourism, told the source. "In Colombia, of course, we have two seas on our borders. Nautical tourism and all of the industry around it is very important. We are out of the hurricane zone."

If you plan to take your boat down to Colombia at some point, you should recognize that it's not an easy journey, and having the latest navigational technology on board will be a big help. Boaters who are in the market for a chartplotter that will help them find their way through international waters should invest in new unit from ePal. We carry the best brands at even better prices, so you can rest assured you're getting a great deal!

The search for the perfect bass bedding

Bass anglers are obsessed with finding the best bedding, or nest, whenever they head out to catch some fish. The bedding is the place you're most likely to catch bass, as they tend to hover around this area in order to protect their eggs. Finding bedding isn't a particularly exact science, but there are steps you can take to improve the odds of locating one of these pockets.

The first thing to note is that, like many other animals, bass like to keep their eggs in a sheltered nest that is less susceptible to predators. This means they'll usually dig a hole beneath an underwater log, a rocky ledge, or plants that are growing above the surface of the water.

Experienced bass anglers will usually turn on their trolling motors and move slowly along the shore of the river or lake where they're fishing and try to visually spot one of these beds. As The Sportsman's Guide notes, the best lures for bass fishing are soft plastic creatures that resemble crawfish and salamanders — which are more likely to attack the nest. This means they're also more likely to grab the attention of a protective new parent.

However, it's also important not to become too obsessed with searching for bedding. As recently noted by Field and Stream, sometimes it's better just to cast your line in the middle of a lake and wait for something to bite. After all, isn't fishing supposed to be a relaxing pastime?

If you want to increase your chances of catching bass and other fish, make sure your boat is equipped with a fishfinder from ePal. We carry the latest technology from the best brands, so you can rest assured your device will help you increase your catches!

Fiberglass boat market picks up speed

The fiberglass boat market is growing rapidly at a time when other parts of the boating industry are in decline. Trade Only Today, a boating news source, reports that the fiberglass segment has seen growth of 35 percent in the past two years, with Florida contributing the most sales in the United States.

The industry reportedly sold 19,500 fiberglass boats 15 feet or longer in 2013, up from 14,500 in 2011. Given that Florida has a year-round boating season, it's not surprising that it would lead the nation in boat sales. But the growth hasn't been limited just to the Sunshine State: The Northeast saw an increase in saltwater fiberglass boat sales of over 33 percent.

Why are fiberglass boats becoming so popular? It has much to do with the advantages of this material over aluminum, particularly for saltwater fisherman. Fiberglass is heavier, which makes boats more substantial and less shaky when they're out in choppy ocean waters. In addition, fiberglass isn't susceptible to corrosion from saltwater, while aluminum will eventually begin to rust and deteriorate in the same conditions.

This isn't to say that aluminum doesn't have its own benefits. If you're involved in a collision, either with another watercraft or a dock, a metal boat will bend and dent without being punctured. Fiberglass, on the other hand, will shatter with a strong enough impact, which means that it could be in danger of sinking if the collision occurs away from shore.

If you've recently purchased a fiberglass boat, make sure that it's equipped with discount marine supplies from ePal. We carry the latest technology, including GPS and radio equipment from Garmin, Raymarine and Lowrance. Check out our online store today!

The best saltwater fish to eat

Saltwater fishing season is underway in many parts of the country, and both novice and advanced anglers are heading out on their boats and looking for their first big catches of the year. If you're a beginner and you're not entirely sure what you should be catching, we've got you covered. In today's article we'll talk about the best types of fish to catch if you plan on eating them.

Bleacher Report has a terrific guide that can provide some insight into the best fish to catch. Obviously, much of this depends on the region where you'll be fishing, but generally if you know that these species are in your area you can bet you'll be catching something tasty:

  • Flounder: These versatile fish are more easily caught near piers, pylons and similar structures. As such, you should be careful when looking for them that you don't hit anything. Having a marine transducer on board will be especially helpful in avoiding obstacles.
  • Red Snapper: You've probably had a red snapper filet or two at your favorite restaurant. Why not catch your own? Make sure to use a live sardine or cigar minnow to catch these guys.
  • Yellowfin Tuna: It's best to try catching the other two fish before you go for a yellowfin, as these are extremely large fish and you'll need a sturdy pole. But catching your first will be one of your proudest moments as an angler. And, most importantly, they make good steaks.

Remember that you'll have a much easier time catching saltwater fish if you have the right marine instruments, including a fishfinder. You can obtain this gear at the best prices by shopping at ePal, the leading online retailer of boat accessories!

Kentucky provides good crappie fishing this season

Looking for a great place to go fishing this spring or summer now that winter weather has thawed and more lakes are opening up for anglers? While it might be tempting to head down to Florida or up to the New England coast for your next big catch, you may want to consider another destination that isn't quite as popular, but still delivers good returns: Kentucky.

A recent article on the website of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFW) provides some detail on the terrific conditions that are cropping up for those who want to catch crappie, a fish that can sometimes grow as large as 6 pounds and comes in both black and white varieties.

Interestingly, these fish are showing up in large numbers not just at big bodies of water, but at smaller ponds and lakes as well. And unlike many fisheries throughout the country, the KDFW is hoping that people will come to the area and keep the crappie population in check.

"There is a really good population of 7- to 9-inch crappie in Boltz along with bigger ones," Jeff Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for the KDFW, told the source. "Bullock Pen [Lake]'s crappie population is about the same as in Boltz [Lake]. Kincaid [Lake] has a lot of mid-range crappie as well with some bigger ones mixed in. It has a pretty decent crappie population."

If you're looking to make some big catches this season, whether it's in Kentucky or elsewhere, it's a good idea to have a fishfinder on board your vessel that can help you identify the best populations and have more productive outings. You can find this and other marine equipment at ePal, which offers free shipping to the lower 48 states!

Boat sales slip slightly in March

Yacht dealers across the country reported slower sales last month than they did in March 2013, according to boat dealer Denison Yacht Sales, which obtained its data from SoldBoats.com. The industry saw an 8 percent drop in sales, as the number of vessels that changed hands dropped from 2,642 to 2,439 in March 2014.

Even more dramatic was the drop in the value of overall sales, which dropped from $482 million in March 2013 to $268 million in March of this year. That represents a decrease of 44 percent, and it calls into question assumptions that the boat sales industry has been recovering from the recession.

Boating is particularly susceptible to economic downturns due to the fact that they are typically people's hobby, which is more likely to be cut from their budgets if they lose their job or see a drop in pay. Additionally, boats require a lot of maintenance, so even after they're purchased they require spending on the part of the owner.

In addition to economic stagnation, another factor that could be contributing to lower sales is the prolonged winter that much of the country has been dealing with. Many lakes and waterways only recently thawed, and in certain regions there is still regular snowfall that makes recreational boating far less pleasant.

If you're a boat owner who has put off replacing your vessel, one less expensive option may be to upgrade your marine electronics and equipment. At ePal, we carry the latest boating technology at prices that you won't find anywhere else, so you can rest assured that replacing parts won't ruin your household budget. For more information, browse our online store today!