Month: July 2019

What Is an Airboat?

In many ways, the airboat is the distinctive boat of Florida. Though they were invented in Canada, airboats first appeared in America nearly 100 years ago.

Ever since then, they have been used to explore the unique environment of the Everglades and have become synonymous with natural Florida.

In fact, it is difficult to reach many spots in the Everglades, Lake Kissimmee, and the St. John’s with anything other than an airboat.

How Airboats Work

What makes the airboat special is that it does not have any underwater steering or propulsion parts. A large propeller inside a cage powers the airboat forward, and the pilot uses rudders to direct the column of air and change directions.

The boat itself is a long, light, shallow structure that sits on the top of the water. This makes it easy for the propeller to push the boat forwards, since it can skim across the surface rather than cut through water like other boats.

It takes considerable skill to operate an airboat, since there is no mechanism to stop or reverse the boat.  

Airboat Tours

Airboats are perfectly suited to exploring Florida’s nature at its best. Lake Kissimmee is home to a lot of marshes, sloughs, and other wetland environments.

Boats with underwater propellers or deep hulls cannot access many of these areas without disturbing or destroying the habitat and getting stuck in the shallows. Lake Kissimmee has a similar environment with many swamps and shallows that are inaccessible by other boats.

What is there to see on an airboat tour? In addition to the striking scenery of Florida’s unique wetlands, airboat tours offer up-close looks of the native animals of the area like alligators, exotic birds, deer, and even buffalo!

An experienced airboat pilot with deep knowledge of their environment will be able to take passengers close to these animals in their natural habitat, which is an increasingly rare opportunity.

Lake Kissimmee Airboat Rides

When it comes to airboat tours, you can’t do better than Grape Hammock’s. Our guides, Captain Kevin and Captain Barrett, have lived on Lake Kissimmee all their lives and have a deep love and respect for the area.

Come experience natural Florida through the eyes of those who know it best with our airboat rides!

What Is a Lunker Bass?

The term “lunker” is used by anglers to describe an exceptionally large fish for its type. You would hardly write home about a 2 lbs. largemouth bass, but a bluegill of the same size would certainly be worthy of the lunker title.

However, you will most commonly hear fishermen speak of lunker bass, because bass are the most popular freshwater trophy fish in America.

There’s no standard length or weight to qualify a bass as a lunker (though the Bassmaster Lunker Club™ has set the mark at any largemouth over 10 lbs.)—it is more of an informal way to talk about an unusually large or fat bass.

Lunkers in Lake Kissimmee Chain

Florida is home to some of the best bass fishing lakes in the world, and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is never far from the top of the list. The Bassmaster Classic—the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing—has been held in Florida twice since its inception, and both times it came to the Kissimmee Chain.

The two largest lakes in the chain, Lake Toho and Lake Kissimmee, are each renowned for being lunker paradises. It is not unheard of to catch over 30 bass in just one day of fishing on either of these lakes, but the real draw is the number of 10+ lbs. bass you can catch.

Lunker Baits

There are many baits and fishing strategies you can use to catch bass in Florida. And almost any of them can land a lunker in the well.

But, some methods are better than others when you are lunker hunting. In the summertime, the biggest fish tend to stay below the surface and out of the sunlight where the water is cool.

Though topwater fishing is one of the most exciting ways to spend the day, you will want to use a different strategy to target lunkers.

The best bait you can use to catch a trophy fish is a live shiner. Large plastic worms, crankbaits without bills, and swimbaits are all good options as well if you want to use artificial bait, but nothing outperforms trolling hydrilla beds with live shiners.   

Launch your boat at one of Lake Kissimmee’s original ramps at Grape Hammock Fish Camp. Make your fishing trip into a fishing weekend by staying in one of our cabins or sleeping under the stars at our campsite.

For more information about fishing, camping, or renting a cabin, feel free to contact us at 863-692-1500.

5 Ways to Take Advantage of Waterfront Camping

When you vacation at a waterfront campsite, you might think that swimming is the only way to beat the heat and take advantage of the local waters. But if you want to make the most of your trip, consider how you can integrate different waterfront activities into each part of your day. Whether you want to have a new dining experience, find an adventure, or just bond with your loved ones, here are five ways bring your camping activities offshore.

Cast Your Line

If you’re looking for a great way to connect with your family and sharpen your skills, grab your fishing pole and fill your tackle box for a day of fishing. Show your smaller campers how to hook their first catch or just let them brush up on baiting and casting in a new territory.

Fishing is one of the most family-friendly sports of waterfront camping, but it’s also a great option for those that want a solo activity. Both seasoned and novice fisherman can search for that elusive lunker, try new techniques, or just unwind for a few hours of fishing.

Have a Waterfront Picnic

Connecting with nature is a great way to improve your mental performance and boost your mood, but hiking isn’t the only way to have a true camping experience. Take in the fresh air and cool breeze outside by bringing your biggest blanket and filling your picnic basket for an unforgettable waterfront meal.

Remember, being on and near bodies of water brings a lot of additional sun exposure, so it’s important to stay hydrated during your picnic. Some hydration-packed foods to bring in your basket include watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, cucumber, and tomato.

Leave the Dock

If you’re bringing your own boat or renting one from the campsite, you can venture out on the water to get an even better view of the local scene, a unique fishing spot, or a private getaway for the whole family. And, if you want to top off your day of camping with a photo-worthy scene, you can take a boat out to watch the sunset with a view that’s truly unforgettable.

Before you leave the dock, fill your bags with some boating essentials such as sunscreen, lifejackets, and water. If you’ve got some guests on board that are a little harder to entertain, bring along a deck of cards, a magazine, or something else guaranteed to keep them occupied on the water. 

Get Some Sun

Camping is a great vacation idea for those who want to stay active, get in touch with nature, and absorb some essential vitamin D. But, if you’re looking for a more relaxing way to spend your day, unwind by the waters of your campsite and sunbathe. Bring a great summer read, plug in to your playlist, or just enjoy the natural sights and sounds of the waves around you.  

Of course, you’ll need to pack some SPF to have a safe sunbathing experience, but don’t worry about losing your tan. You’ll still be able to get a great glow while your sunscreen prevents harmful rays from causing an unwanted sunburn.

Take an Airboat Tour

If you want an ultimate water adventure during your next camping retreat, book your trip with one of the best Central Florida airboat rides. Airboat tours are family-friendly, affordable adventures that take any camping trip to the next level.

While on tour, you’ll not only zoom across the waters of your campsite, but you’ll also take in the best local scenery. And, with an experienced airboat captain, your boat stops at prime locations to see the local wildlife and get firsthand insight on the area’s history.   

Whether you’re a first-time camper or a practiced tent pitcher, there are plenty of new ways to experience the outdoors when you go waterfront camping.

When’s the Best Time to Go on an Airboat Ride?

Florida isn’t all beaches and theme parks. It is home to some of the most scenic wetlands in America, where famous Florida wildlife like alligators, manatees, and roseate spoonbills coexist.

The best way to experience all of the beautiful scenery and creatures is by zooming across marshes, mangroves, and lakes on an airboat tour.

However, you may wonder when is the best time of the year to go on an airboat tour? Can you can see more animals in the summer or winter, in the morning or at midday?

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your airboat ride.

Best Time of Year

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Florida is a nice place to be during any time of year. Unlike many other places in America, there are really only two seasons in the Sunshine State: summer and winter.

The summers are hot and sunny, the winters mild and dry. When it comes to airboat tours, the cooler temperatures are actually preferred times to go.

During the winter, you have a greater chance to see a lot of alligators. The summer is hot, and most of them are hiding in the shade. We do, however, operate year-round.

Best Time of Day

When the weather is nice, there really is no bad time of day to go on an airboat tour. If it’s alligators you are dying to see, then around dawn or dusk would be the best, since they are most active at these times. But, you will be able to see them sunning themselves on the banks of the shore whenever the sun is out (assuming it isn’t too hot).

What time you take your tour is entirely up to you, though it is always smart to keep in mind the weather conditions for your time of year.

For example, Florida is notorious for the afternoon thunderstorms, so you could opt to go out early in the morning.

There’s no one that knows Lake Kissimmee better than the folks at Grape Hammock Fish Camp. Our captains can help you experience Florida’s natural wildlife like never before.

If you have any questions about wildlife, weather, or seasons, don’t hesitate to ask us. Check out this page to learn more about our airboat tours.

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