A Pair of Binoculars' Worst Nightmare - Larry Bozka

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Editor’s Note: Editor's Note: Larry Bozka of Seabrook, Texas, on the upper shores of Galveston Bay off the Gulf of Mexico, is a writer and a photographer who focuses on salt-water fishing. Bozka is the former editor of the Coastal Conservation Association's (CCA) "Tide" magazine, "Texas Saltwater Fishing" Magazine and "Texas Fish & Game" magazine, contributing editor for "Texas Parks and Wildlife" magazine, salt-water editor for "Texas Sporting Journal" and a contributor to "Texas Salt Water Sportsman" magazine.

Question: Larry, why do you use Alpen binoculars ?

Bozka: Alpen binoculars are products I can recommend comfortably to my readers because I know they're getting far more than their money's worth when they purchase Alpen products. I find that so many people will pay so much more for a good set of binoculars than the cost of the quality of the Alpen binoculars ironic. When I give consumers a chance to look through my Alpen binoculars and see the clarity and the brightness these binoculars have compared to the more-expensive binoculars, people are shocked that they can get a pair of quality binoculars for the price Alpen charges. I like Alpen binoculars because I use them in extremely-corrosive environments, and they've never failed to perform..

Question: How do you use your binoculars in salt water?

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Bozka: There are a number of applications that may seem obscure to some people but are critical to a salt-water fisherman. Binoculars are extremely-important when you're looking for working birds above a school of speckled trout or redfish. Seagulls will follow a school of shrimp and/or baitfish. When the gulls dive into the water to eat the bait that the specks and the reds are forcing to the top, fishermen know where the fish are located, and that the fish are actively feeding. If the gulls are just flocked-up, looking at or for a school of baitfish, then they're not working. By using Alpen binoculars and being able to see whether the gulls are diving or not diving, fishermen can make their decisions to fish under that flock of birds, or stay where they are and continue to fish. By using Alpen binoculars when you're fishing for speckled trout and redfish, you can be far-more productive than chasing every flock of gulls you see.

Another key to knowing where speckled trout and redfish are feeding is being able to see oil slicks on the surface of the water, created when a school of speckled trout and/or redfish are feeding on baitfish. When the specks and the reds eat the baitfish, the baitfish release the oil in their bodies, which rises to the surface and creates a smooth, slick spot. By using your Alpen binoculars to locate and see those slick spots, you can fish in front of the slick spots where the specks and the reds are feeding and catch fish. Too, if I'm coming into a rock jetty from the Gulf of Mexico, I can use my binoculars before I arrive at the jetties to see if any baitfish are working along the edges. I can see the direction the bait's moving and often spot speckled trout and redfish attacking the bait. By knowing where the bait's located, and the direction it's moving before I reach the jetties, I can position my boat ahead of the baitfish, anchor down and hold the boat within casting distance of the bait, allowing the baitfish to bring the specks and the reds to me. This way, I can use my trolling motor to position the boat within casting distance of the bait without spooking the baitfish, the specks or the reds.

I also enjoy wade fishing, and I always carry my Alpen binoculars when I'm wade fishing. Many times, distinguishing the difference between a wade fisherman, a piling or a tree out in the water can be difficult. However, with my Alpen binoculars, I easily can see what's in front of me before I continue down the bank. I use Alpen's Apex 12x50 binoculars, so from several-hundred yards away, I can tell whether I'm fishing toward another fisherman or simply moving toward a tree or a piling out in the water. If I can tell there's a wade fisherman in front of me, as a courtesy, I'll stay well away from the area where he's casting. If I see that he or she is moving toward me, then I know where I need to come out of the water so I can walk around that fisherman without disturbing his fishing or my fishing.

Binoculars are also important as a safety tool, especially when you're running inshore and you're approaching a sandbar. If the tide's going out, you need to know where the shallow water's located before you reach it, especially with a fast boat, so you won't run aground. If you're headed for a shoreline you want to fish and a boat's parked close to the shoreline with no passengers, then you reasonably can expect that the owner of the boat is fishing down the shoreline you've intended to fish.

Question: Larry, why are you using 12x binoculars, when most sportsmen either use 8x or 10x binoculars? With the 8x binoculars, you get a wider field of view and less exaggeration of motion than you do with 12x binoculars.

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Bozka: I like the extra magnification, especially at night, because I fish a lot at night. Many times I have difficulty distinguishing the difference between a stationary oil rig I want to fish and a sailboat with a light on its mast. However, with the 12x Alpen binoculars, I easily can tell the difference long before I arrive at that location. Also, I'm an avid birdwatcher and deer hunter. In Texas, where I live, I have to know for certain how many points a buck has coming off the main beam of his antlers. With the 12-power binoculars, I easily can look at the buck's rack and count the points. Since I'm 51-years old, having that much magnification in my Alpen binoculars is critical to me, because I can't rely on my hawk-like eyesight anymore.

Question: How well do the Alpen binoculars hold up in salt water and the rough areas you take them in when you're hunting deer and watching birds?

Bozka: Alpen binoculars binoculars sit on the console of my boat all day. They're exposed to rough seas and salt-water spray. When you're fishing in a salt-water environment, regardless of how well you try to protect your binoculars, they'll still be in a highly-corrosive environment. Remember that I'm carrying my binoculars with me when I'm wade fishing in the surf where you'll always get some type of salt-water spray. So, I'm exposing my Alpen binoculars to sand, salt water, humidity, heat and moisture many times every week.

The only maintenance I give my binoculars is I'll blow the sand off the lenses with a can of compressed air to prevent scratching the lenses when I wipe them down with a soft cloth that's wet with clean, fresh water. My Alpen binoculars haven't failed me. I'm a pair of binoculars' worst nightmare. I've found my Alpen binoculars to be extremely beneficial to me, especially in low-light situations, as well as when I use them for fishing. I'd advise any salt-water fisherman to invest in a pair of dependable, quality Alpen binoculars like I use.