WOS Article: Virginia is For Lovers of the Outdoors

Hi readers! I just had my first Wide Open Spaces post published today. You can expect a minimum of three articles from me each week. Below is an excerpt:

For those who love the outdoors, the Commonwealth of Virginia has a lot to offer.

Virginia is for lovers of many things, especially the outdoors. It was recently ranked the 11th best outdoorsy place in the U.S. Originally founded in 1607 as an English colony, the Old Dominion State is not only attractive to history buffs and tourists, it’s also a great place for outdoor enthusiasts to explore.

When I moved to Virginia from Southern California nearly four years ago, I was largely unaware of the countless opportunities to fish, hike, or seek out nature here. The fear of the unknown coupled with longing for familiar spots left me disheartened and searching for answers. I grew up thinking no state could rival California’s outdoor scene. After consulting locals and researching nearby spots, I soon discovered how attractive Virginia is for outdoor enthusiasts.

Continue reading at Wide Open Spaces.

Guess What? I’m Now a Contributor at Wide Open Spaces!

Hi readers!

I have an exciting announcement to share with you. I’ve been tapped to do some writing for this awesome, newish outdoors blog called Wide Open Spaces. You will be seeing quite a bit of content from me there. I recommend you follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I’ll continue to blog here and elsewhere, but am happy to be expanding my reach to the fishing, hunting, and shooting realms as well.



Check Out My Cameo in Maddie & Tae’s Lyric Video for “Shut Up And Fish”

shut up and fish

While listening to some country music on YouTube today, I decided to listen to Maddie & Tae’s new single “Shut Up And Fish” to see if I’d see my photo submission was included in their lyric video. Low and behold, I did! (From the 00:42 to the 00:44 mark, my picture can be seen.) I’m so honored to have a picture of me with my snook catch included. Thanks, girls!

Check out Maddie & Tae’s  single “Shut Up And Fish” below. Good tune!

P.S. The girls tweeted back at me! Very cool.

Angling Right: Inshore Fishing in Fort Myers, FL

I’ve just returned from vacation in Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast–a region comprising Fort Myers, Naples, and Marcos Island. My family and I enjoyed some much-needed R&R and no shortage of outdoor fun. Of course, our trip included some world-class fishing too!

My dad and I were lucky to fish with the delightful Debbie Hanson of SheFishes2 and Take Me Fishing, along with her husband Greg Stamper of Stamp Snook Charters. (You should book a trip with Captain Greg!) We spent half of the day doing some inshore fishing and were fruitful in our catches. We caught upwards of 10 different fish species–mangrove snapper, common snook, red drum, permit, a shark, pompano, a stingray, saltwater catfish, and more.

Most of the fish we caught were caught on a catch-and-release basis for size and conservation purposes. (And that’s perfectly fine.) We were able to keep several fish for consumption, so that was a bonus.

I used circle hooks for the first time and they surely didn’t disappoint! In fact, both Debbie and Greg said these hooks are more effective for reeling in fish without incurring too much damage on the fish. (How about that for efficiency and conservation???) I think I’m going to have to incorporate them into my fishing repertoire  from now on–especially for fishing here in the Commonwealth of Virginia!

Below are some pictures of our catches:


Me holding the first catch of the day: a decent Jack Crevalle fish. It was released afterwards.


Me holding an undersized mangrove snapper before releasing it back to the water.


Here’s a picture of my dad holding a permit fish. Captain Greg told us that the permit fish, when they achieve full size, is a prized game fish.


I caught several undersized red drum fish, including this one pictured here. Isn’t it beautiful?


Another shot of the red drum I caught and then released. I love the spotted markings.


What a good little conservationist I am! See- we conservatives love nature without a radical agenda.


Pictured here is a Ladyfish. They’re only useful as bait, ad evidenced by the snook I caught.


I was hoping to land a snook while down in Florida, and I did. This is my most prized game fish catch ever!


When we arrived back to the harbor, we were greeted by some feathery friends. From left to right: Great Egret, then snowy egret eager to steal some of our fish


This Great egret wanted our fish. He/she wasn’t victorious.

The whole fishing crew: Dad, Captain Greg, Debbie, and me Credit: Debbie Hanson

The whole fishing crew: Dad, Captain Greg, Debbie, and me
Credit: Debbie Hanson

Prior to fishing, here are some tips to ensure you have a great trip:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep
  2. Wear sunscreen
  3. Arrive earlier
  4. Pack a light snack and some water
  5. Take Dramamine if prone to sea-sickness
  6. Have fun!

Planning on fishing in SW Florida soon? Make sure you book Captain Greg for your next fishing excursion.

Follow Snook Stamper Charters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Follow She Fishes 2 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Have you fished in Fort Myers, FL? Let me know if you had a great fishing experience below!

Southwest Florida is a Little Slice of Paradise

I’ve just returned from a week-long family vacation in Southwest Florida and feel more rejuvenated than ever! And we averted coming into close contact with Hurricane Joaquin. (Thank goodness.)

This was my third time to Florida and my first time to Florida’s  Gulf Coast. Previously, I’ve been to Daytona Beach/St. Augustine and Fort Lauderdale/Miami. How does the SW Gulf Coast differ from the SE Atlantic Coast? I learned that the Gulf Coast is quite shallow in comparison to the Atlantic Coast. There are more conservatives in Gulf Coast FL than leftists. And SW Florida is a far more affordable place to live in. However,  both Floridian coasts have a charm about them.

For those of you who’ve yet to venture to SW FL, the region comprises the Paradise Coast (Naples, Everglades, Marco Island) and Fort Myers. We mostly stayed in Naples.



Naples Beach and Pier after heavy rains

Naples reminded me of a more laid back, tropical La Jolla (my college town). It was serene, safe, affluent, and cozy–a quiet beachside town full of surprises. The place we frequented most was Naples Beach. (Sadly didn’t have time to check out Delnor-Wiggins State Beach and Vanderbilt Beach.) Naples’ beaches stretch seven miles long and are home to sandy, white shores.


Heavenly sunset draping the Gulf of Mexico


Blue skies and ultra-violet rays above Naples Beach and Pier

Naples boasts two points-of-interests tourists should be privy on checking out by foot. (In lieu of exercise, I recommend walking around town: great way to burn calories and stay active!) One is Fifth Avenue while the other is Tin City.  The former is adorned by cute shops and restaurants. At night, lights glisten and brighten the street by making this hot-spot more romantic and inviting. The latter was a tad more underwhelming but still worth visiting. It is largely comprised of fishing boats and seafood restaurants.


I wish I had more time to explore Fort Myers as it’s got a lot to offer. I did, however, go fishing in Estero Bay and will have a post about my fishing trip up shortly for you all to read about. Historically speaking, Ft. Myers is home to the winter homes belonging to Henry Ford (“The Mangoes”) and Thomas Edison (“Seminole Lodge”). Additionally, it boasts some very beautiful beaches and other great attractions. I hope to visit again and explore more of its hidden gems.


Mangroves in Estero Bay…Abound with tranquility and good fishing


I had read extensively about the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, and felt it was imperative to pay a visit. This particular inlet is renowned for its shelling, world-class fishing, turquoise waters, pristine beaches, wildlife, and  island life. We were crunched for time and without a car – we relied heavily on Uber- so we visited Sanibel Lighthouse Beach. In order to access this island, one must cross a toll bridge.


Historic Sanibel Lighthouse

While soaking in some rays, we saw several dolphins- including a mother and her baby- frolicking near shore. It was truly a wonderful sight!


Dolphins swimming around Sanibel Island

Had there not been the aforementioned constraints, we would have visited Bowman Beach and ventured north to Captiva Island.

All in all, I could see myself coming back to SW Florida in the near future. Great beaches, great food, nice people, and superb sport fishing–I couldn’t ask for a more relaxing vacation!

Learn more about SW Florida, check out Paradise Coast and Fort  Myers-Sanibel!

Want to connect with me? Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Angling Right: Saltwater Fishing in Solomons Island


Beautiful view of Solomons Island

Happy Fishing Friday, everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted anything “Angling Right” related,  so I’ll remedy that today.

Last Sunday, my dad and I ventured out to the Chesapeake Bay to fish at Solomons Island, MD. Solomons is marked by the confluence of the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay–making it a unique fishing spot. To put it simply, it’s a hybrid of saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing without the turbulence you normally find in deep sea fishing. (Both saltwater and freshwater fishing are enjoyable!)

My dad and I decided on Bunky’s Charter Boats for our first Chesapeake Bay fishing experience. Affordability, high return on investment, and proximity  to our home were factored into our decision. And we were pleased with the results!

Bunky’s has decent options for their Head Boat bottom fishing trips. From Thursday to Monday, anglers can choose to fish from either 7am-2pm or 3pm-8pm half-day trips. The cost is $45/per person. Bait and rod are excluded from the price. ($5.00 rod rental is available.)

Below is a view where the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay converge:

Where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay

Where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay

I’m pictured below with our final catch:


I caught 11 spot fish, while my dad caught 14 fish.

Here’s a closer look at our final catch. Each spot fish averages 7″-9″ a piece, which wasn’t too shabby.


Our final catch: 25 fish. Not too shabby for our first Chesapeake fishing experience!

If you plan to fish with Bunky’s Charter Boats, take the following into consideration:

1) Get a good night’s rest and arrive early: My dad and I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4am to make the 7am trip. While this was inconvenient, in retrospect, sacrificing sleep proved fruitful for us. Whether you prefer early morning fishing or afternoon fishing, make sure to arrive early as this place operates on a first-come, first-serve basis.

2) Take Dramamine if you’re prone to sea-sickness: As I’ve written before, take any precautions prior to fishing to ensure the best fishing experience. Though the Chesapeake is fairly tame, the boat will occasionally rock back and forth–adversely affecting buoyancy by triggering motion sickness. Always come prepared!

3) Pack light food and drinks: It’s essential to eat before and during any fishing excursion. Pack light food and refreshments. I prefer to eat fruits (apples), vegetables (cucumbers), beef jerky, and sandwiches, while coupling it with plenty of water, sip by sip. Normally alcohol is forbidden aboard most charters, but some people brought their own. Use discretion if you wish to consume alcohol.

4) Use blood worms as bait to maximize catch rate: This bait produced the most results for us. Spot fish ate them up like crazy! They are available for purchase from the tackle shop. I recommend cutting them into quarter pieces to better utilize them and not waste money on bait.

5) Wear sunscreen: Summer is in full swing, so the sun is quite powerful. Wear sunscreen to prevent any unnecessary sunburns or to get a nice farmer’s tan. It’s up to you!

6) Don’t go fishing by yourself: I prefer to not fish alone, and neither should you! I always go with my dad because he taught me everything I know about fishing. Bring a friend, companion, family member, or significant other!

To learn more about Bunky’s Charter Boats, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Stay tuned for another “Angling Right” post soon!

New Counter Cultured Article: Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week

I’ve penned a new column about National Fishing and Boating Week. Below is an excerpt:

Who here loves to go fishing and boating? It’s time to gear up for National Fishing and Boating Week!

From June 6-14, 2015, anglers and boating enthusiasts  – new or seasoned, young or old – can show their support by getting out on the water. What are some benefits to fishing? It’s an excellent way to destress, connect with nature, and tout true conservation.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.