The uncertain conditions didn’t stop us from having a great time in Rockport, TX with home state retailer Academy Sports + Outdoors.
I knew this was the case thanks to my coworker’s participation in two previous Cast ‘N Blast trips run by the retail giant, and I was ready to head to Rockport, TX for an adventure. outdoors with the kind of people who know how to have a good time.
The basis for this year’s Cast ‘N Blast trip with the Academy was a little different; we would be salt water redfish fishing at the height of the season; and dove hunting in certain fields known to offer great opportunities. What we hadn’t anticipated was the risky weather we were going to encounter, but that didn’t spoil things too much. The group of members of the media, Academy-approved influencers, and dedicated staff made sure of that.
Off and running
Having lived in Texas for as long as I was, I was more than familiar with the Academy. This is where I regularly collect my annual hunting and fishing license, where I stop to prepare my children for youth sports or tennis shoes, and where I take outdoor refills. cooking and grilling supplies. Since the hunting and fishing sections are regular stops for me anyway, I couldn’t wait to get some additional insight into what the Academy has been working on lately.
After arriving and joining several other attendees, we made our way to the Academy store in Portland, TX to get a glimpse of some of the latest gear on offer from in-house brands that have helped the retailer be successful. Among the most popular is Magellan, the hunting, fishing and outdoor clothing brand that has become a staple in the Texas community. We’ve seen it all from Magellan fishing shirts and camo boots to camping coolers, and even got an insider review on the latest iteration, Magellan Pro.
Magellan Pro takes matters into its own hands, with more premium materials, features and attributes without a drastically increased price tag. For the same quality and efficiency as the top of the range. branded equipment, you would expect to pay almost twice as much as Magellan Pro equipment. This is a serious upgrade from an already trusted brand, and it puts Magellan Pro next to any other established line of camouflage, fishing gear, or footwear.
While we were touring the Academy store, we also zoomed in on the H2O Express line of fishing gear. The fishing rods and reels were designed with input from professional anglers sponsored by the Academy, and again allow for competitive pricing among the high end items you can find in any angling lane. at any other sporting goods store. The idea of ââAcademy being able to exclusively produce and sell such awesome stuff is huge.
We wouldn’t leave the store without getting a feel for the shotguns we would be using, and it gave us a close look at the Yildiz line, another Academy exclusive. This is the only store in the US where you will find guns from the Turkish gun maker, and the quality level of these shotguns is the kind you would expect from an item of $ 1,000 or more.
The Turkish walnut stocks are beautiful, the blued barrels and receivers add a nice touch, and the engraving on many models is second to none. Academy did a great job capturing scenes that epitomize Texan hunting heritage, including the dove and quail, and engraving them into the receivers. Some of the newer models come with a steel receiver option, and they all come with a selection of useful starters.
On top of all this, we got the scoop on the recent acquisition of the AcadÃ©mie du Redfield optical line, formerly owned by Leupold. Everything from riflescopes to red dots to Redfield binoculars is now available exclusively from Academy, which maintains the heritage built by the brand, with the intention of increasing product availability and versatility. If you know a bit about Redfield optics, it’s good to know that they will continue with a trusted owner behind them.
The main takeaway from our visit to the store and our familiarization with the brand revolved around one thing: value. The prices were extremely competitive and it was no wonder that the Academy saw serious potential in creating and offering more equipment. We were all anxious to put it to work, and we would have our chance the next day.
This work, however, would be slightly delayed. Our group was up in the wee hours of the morning, but the thunderstorm outside made it difficult for us to stick to our schedule. The late check out was hard to accept, but the forecast was for clearer skies and a break in bad weather mid-morning, so we waited.
This allowed us to learn more about the Academy’s team of influencers who were with the trip, including professional anglers Greg Hackney and Stetson Blaylock, Galveston fishing guide. Michael “Sharky” Marquez, and extraordinary chef Jess pryles. It was great to know that the Academy was lining up with such cool people who were not only friendly but knew their stuff when it came to the outdoor lifestyle.
The wait also gave me time to think about something that was reminded me. There is an oddity among anglers in this area of ââthe Texas coast, commonly referred to as the Coastal Curve. While most other inshore and offshore saltwater fishermen use a spinning reel or large open face reel, it is the bait caster who wins the day around these parts, especially for wading. . Something about the control and precision that a bait launcher allows to respond to this style. I was ready to follow the “When in Rome” strategy, but the stormy winds would convince me otherwise.
When we finally got to the docks and loaded the boats, I opted for the H2O Express Saltwater Spinning Combo and a few plastic swimbaits. There were several local guides to help us out, and everyone was happy to finally be able to test some gear. Even though we were provided with an exceptional pair of Magellan Pro Waders, the water was warm enough to wear only the Pro Angler tech pants, fishing shoes and the Gaiter hoodie. The benefits of fishing there in late September are many, including the overall water temperature.
It was going to be a little rough in the morning and would include a bit more rain, but I managed to pull a keeper-sized rockfish towards the H2O Express floating net who was attached to my Quick pull wading belt. He was one of the few captured by the entire crew that morning.
A few other fish, including speckled trout and flounder, were landed, but angling never materialized into such a great experience as expected. Well, this is fishing for you.
Our morning ended and we headed for the dove fields. Fortunately, the hot South Texas afternoon that developed after the storm did not live up to the Magellan Pro camouflage provided to us. The folks at the Academy know full well that hunting in Texas begins long before the temperatures drop, and this is especially true of dove hunting. While most of the rest stag and bird hunting brands anticipate the cold temperatures of fall and winter when designing their clothes, the minds behind Magellan know filming dove when it’s 90 degrees is almost a guarantee.
Moisture wicking, ventilated, UPF protection Eagle Pass Short Sleeve Button Down Shirt was ideal for this scenario, and the Landman 3.0 Hunting Boots provides the snake protection necessary for these types of hot weather hunts.
I wish I could say that I was more involved in dove hunting than fishing, but only three birds fell to my Yildiz. The most experienced and skilled wing shooters in the bunch came, and we had a slew of doves to shoot and prepare for the kitchen.
This is where things got particularly interesting, as the meal we had prepared for us by Pryles would essentially steal the show.
Eating with a hardcore carnivore
Even though the fishing was not spectacular and dove hunting had declined statewide since the season opened a month ago, we still had a great time testing out the new gear on the boat. Academy and have fun among like-minded outdoor men and women.
But maybe the highlight of the whole trip involved a different kind of testing: taste testing.
Chef Jess Pryles, originally from Australia and now living in Austin, TX, has a knack for creating incredible meals using her aptly named line of spice and seasoning blends. Unconditional Carnivore. Not strictly for wild game, but Pryles herself is a huge fan of venison and an accomplished hunter. She joined us at the dove field and cooked what was easily the best meal I have had in months.
It put a smile on everyone’s face, a great taste in everyone’s mouth, and served as the perfect hat on a big trip.
In the end, it was the kind of experience I loved having in Texas. Fish for something unique in a setting like no other, hunt migrating game birds in true Texan style and meet a great group of people who share your passions. There is nothing quite like a hunting and fishing trip to the Academy.
This resulted in one of the coolest recap videos I’ve ever seen, and a perfect way to remember this trip for years to come.
To learn more about all the outdoor equipment available at Academy Sports + Outdoors, visit their website or stop in one of their 259 stores in the South, Southeast and Midwest. You don’t have to be a Texan to love the Academy, just an outdoor enthusiast who appreciates good equipment at a very reasonable price.
I now have a Cast ‘N Blast trip to measure everyone else, and it will be hard to beat.
NEXT: WHATABURGER AND MAGELLAN PARTNER FOR ACADEMY-EXCLUSIVE CLOTHING LINE