Jim Morris
Jim Morris

Jim Morris has worked for newspapers, radio, television and various Websites for more than 47 years. He has been a writer, an editor, an editorial writer and a columnist. For 23 years, Morris worked for the Troy Daily News as sports editor, managing editor and executive editor. In 1994 he began working at the Dayton Daily News as an outdoor sports columnist and night sports desk editor. He retired from the DDN in January of 2010 and is now a freelance writer with his own Website for outdoors stories.

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You’ll need a calm pond, cove in a lake or a slow-moving stream, but once you are right there in the water, you might never want to fish any other way.

If you are into fishing and are looking for a unique guide to get you a little closer to that 5-pound largemouth you have always dreamed about, I’ve come across a possible solution: belly-boat fishing.

Never heard of belly-boat fishing?

“It’s like sitting in a Cadillac, floating and fishing. There’s even a cup holder for your favorite beverage,” said Jim Stratton, owner and originator of Trek Network, an all-purpose guide service based out of his Upper Arlington home.

“My office is where I’m standing at the time,” he said.

Belly-boat fishing is just part of his service. He has guides – independent contractors – set up all over the state to take people on belly-boat trips, target shooting, nature hikes, wildlife photography treks and rock climbing adventures. In fact, Stratton is adding services all the time. If you can think of an Ohio adventure you would like to try, contract Stratton and he’ll probably make it happen.

“We have guides who will travel all over Ohio to do the things people want to try,” he said. He also said his company does team building and can arrange for expert speakers for groups.

Stratton, 55, is a New Philadelphia area native who graduated from Miami University in 1983. He started a service business while in college, distributing brochures to hotels and restaurants around the area. He sold that business and moved out West to start a career in technology and marketing.

When he returned to Ohio and settled in the Columbus area, he started another brochure distribution business that covers areas like the scenic Hocking Hills.

“I was talking with one of my clients (in 2011) and he suggested I put together a guide service,” Stratton said. “And it’s taken off from there.”
He got the idea of belly-boat fishing when he saw a picture of a belly-boater in a newspaper.

“I thought, ‘hey, that’s something we could do,’” Stratton recalled. “And when you think about it, just about the only guide services people can find for fishing are Lake Erie charter boat captains and a few guys who take people out on a bass boat or a fly fishing trip. Our guides take people out to catch everything, from bluegills to bass, even northern pike.”

Typically, a belly-boat trip is for 4-5 hours. All you have to do is bring a fishing license and $195 ($150 for kids under 18). The guide will have all of the gear – rods, reels, tackle, bait etc. And he’ll have the belly boat with the proper size waders.

To use the belly boat, you first put on chest waders and then step into a seat that has flotation devices on each side. There is room for spare gear and you sit up high enough to be able to cast with spinning, fly or baitcasting rods. For more information, visit treknetwork.com or call (740) 777-2579.
Right now, those trips are taking place on small lakes in southeast Ohio. Stratton hopes to expand to include some western Ohio spots in the near future.

Give Paddling a Try
Anyone interested in learning to paddle a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, should mark your calendar for Aug. 13. That’s when the ODNR Paddle Palooza visits Caesar Creek State Park. The free event will be 1-6 p.m. and will include the opportunity to try a variety of canoes and kayaks and learn how to do stand-up paddleboarding. For information, call (937) 323-1582.

Our comprehensive selection includes over 1500 guns, a full line archery “Pro Shop”, shooting & hunting clothing, boots, ammunition, reloading equipment, gun cases, holsters and a multitude of other shooting & hunting accessories.

Olde English Outfitters meets the needs of serious sportsmen and casual enthusiast alike. This is truly a store for all your shooting and hunting needs.

Open this year’s hunting season with a trip to Olde English, proud to sponsor outdoors columnist Jim Morris on Press Pros Magazine.com!

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