MAGAZINE TWO SPEEDS FOR
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1
SMALLIES HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
TOPWATER TURBULENCE REGIONAL FISHING RECON
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1
QUICK TIPS: NORTH CAROLINA QUICK TIPS: CALIFORNIA FISHING MICHIGAN SKINNY WATER SPINNERBAITING TRYING NEW WATER IN MINN NEW ENGLAND TOPWATER TURBULENCE FOND SUMMER MEMORIES ON THE RIVER STUPID BASS THE DAY I ALMOST DIED
BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
40 40 41 42 46 47 51 54 55
SUMMER 2015 BUILD A BETTER FISHING PARTNER
9 HIGH AND FAST OR LOW AND SLOW
12 THINK POSITIVE. CATCH FISH.
17 POST SPAWN BASS IN THE GRASS
photo by Joe Floriolli Jr
20 HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
22 BIGGEST FISH: WHAT DOES IT MEAN
26 TOPWATER: NOT JUST BREAKFAST
29 THE BEASTS OF SUMMER IN MEXICO
32 BASS OPENER IN CANADA
KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: CHRIS PAYNE EDITOR-AT-LARGE: CHAD HOOVER DESIGN: CHRIS PAYNE COVER PHOTO: ALEJANDRO PEREZ-ARTEAGA CONTRIBUTORS: CHRIS FUNK, JEFF LITTLE, GERALD NISSLEY, DREW HAERER, JOSHUA EVANS, PAUL SHIPMAN, DARYL BOYD, ERIC BOYD, ALEJANDRO PEREZ-ARTEAGA, ROB BRIONES, PAUL BIEDIGER, JUAN VERUETE, CAMERON SIMOT, THOMAS PHILIPPI, WESLEY JONES, GRANT CARSTON, FRANK MAGLIN, RYAN LAMBERT, MARK CISNEROS, CORBET DEARY, MIKE DEMARCO, JAMES SNYDER, JOE FLORIOLLI JR, JEROMY RALSTON COPYRIGHT 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
photo by Frank Maglin
I’ve been paddling, pedaling and even sailing kayaks since the way fishing magazines are done. I also know that my design 2003. I came into the sport wanting to find a way off the bank and layout ideas are a little different too. This magazine is my and with $200 in my pocket I found a solution at a local sport- wishlist come to life. ing goods store. I couldn’t be more grateful to the writers and photographers Since that time my love of kayak fishing has been a mainstay who helped put meat on the KBFMAG bones. When I talked of my identity. From the early days when I was an anomaly with each of them I explained what my plans were. They willon the water in my cramped yellow sit inside kayak to today ingly and excitedly donated their words and photos to be a part where electronics and comfort allow me to spend all day chas- of something new with the hope of something great. You guys ing fish, I feel like I am still the same guy. Maybe the brands and gals are the backbone of our kayak angling community. I have changed some and the gadgets are a little fancier but deep am constantly reminded of the world of talent our obsession down, my love of this sport drives me to the point of kayak holds both on and off the water. obsessed. My aim is to offer the readers of Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine That obsession is the root of this project. I wanted something a high quality digital magazine with meaningful content at no different from a kayak fishing magazine. Many of the magacost. zines out there have gorgeous photos, great articles, and lots of pages. In all those pages, I had to scavenge for content that Yes, no cost. That is the goal. With support from industry applied to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing pictures from vendors, municipalities and interested parties from around the Costa Rica and reading about folks catching tarpon and billfish world, I know we can do it. Just reading the magazine helps in Florida but it didn’t ever feel like it was useful. Storytime but sharing it everywhere and subscribing does even more. is fun and has its place but I need more bass content. I fish for bass of every variety and do so the majority of my trips. If you like it, tell people about it. Tell them about the thoughtWhether it’s stripers, smallies or big Florida strain largemouth, fully written articles. Tell them about the photography that I can’t get enough. I want to get better. I want to know more. makes you want to head to the water right now. Even better yet, show them! After talking to lots of folks across the country it became clear I wasn’t the only one who wanted more bass content. I had a If you have issues, concerns or things you don’t like with the couple of meetings, sought the advice of some industry profes- magazine, that falls on me. Please feel free to reach out to me sionals and a few months later I am presenting that wish as my and share your thoughts. My email address is listed below. finished product. Maybe you have a bit of a wishlist too. Is there something you If you don’t like Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine, it’s probably my want to see moving forward? Please let me know that as well. fault. I’ve broken a lot of molds in the making of it. It is not designed to be a print magazine. It is designed specifically to Thanks for reading and please share! ---CPayne be digital. I wanted to make sure you could always have a copy nearby without having to tote it around. I recognize that is not You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
BUILD A BETTER
PARTNER BY CHRIS FUNK photo by Chris Funk I watched the little fella struggling on the back deck of that glitter rocket. His dad was on the front deck, eyes glued to his electronics, fishing a ledge about 50 yards from the bank. The kid was having trouble casting, launching the bait straight up in the air with a massive splash a few feet from the boat. I could only imagine the wind knots, tangles and other carnage that spinning reel held but Dad never took his eyes off the screen. Where I sat there were small bass and bluegill as far as the eye could see just begging for that little boy to throw a Roostertail or small Rapala to. I was glad the guy got the kid out on the water but I was seeing the opportunity he was missing for building an awesome fishing partner. It can be challenging fishing with kids, but it can be a real blessing to as well as an awesome investment in the future for you and for them. It helps to keep a few things in mind when dealing with kids on the water. Number one is safety and the best way to get them to wear a PFD is if they are following your example. I never had to worry about my son wearing his because he always wanted to do it if I did. Another thing to remember is; small fish are better than no fish every time! That little guy would have been tickled pink with any one of the bass that was swimming around my kayak or the bluegill for that matter. When you fish with kids, it needs to be more about them than you. Yes, you may have to get a lure out of the trees a dozen times a trip, but each one of them will be a learning experience. Use those “training times” to teach them about how bugs in the trees attract smaller fish that bring in big fish. Or teach them how to check the limbs for snakes or wasp nests before going after a lure. Teach them to make sure they get all the line out of the tree to protect the birds that also use the tree.
photo by Chris Funk
Smaller lures will be easier to cast and retrieve and will also catch a large assortment of fish. More targets mean more opportunities for tight lines and happy kids. Small crankbaits and inline spinners were always my son’s favorites for several reasons. They don’t require much attention, just cast and retrieve. They were relatively inexpensive so if we did lose one, Remember to downsize gear and lures for downsized anglers. daddy didn’t blow a gasket. And they flat out catch fish, often When I was a kid, there were very few choices for rods and way more than daddy did! reels and most of what we fished with was hand-me-downs. These days, there is a great assortment of really good gear Also remember to watch your tone with “instructions.” Often that fits kids well. Having gear that “fits” will help keep them I would tell my son “do it like this” or “this is how you work from tiring out and greatly aid in their accuracy with casting. it” and it was often in a tense, frustrated tone. I forget that I KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 had 25 years of experience on him and had to put myself in his shoes for a bit. I had to bite my lip when that lure hit the tree for the umpteenth time and say “you are getting better bud, just slow down and try it again.” Or if he was working a lure too fast instead of just spitting out “slow it down” I would try to show him why it was going too fast. I would get him to look at the bream or shad swimming around and see if he could match their speed. It was a process that I had a hard time with and truthfully still struggle with even though my “little” boy is now 18 and one heck of a fisherman in his own rights. We have to remember we are building a better fishing partner and to build we need a
strong foundation. That foundation starts with time spent together on the water. They will learn to trust you for their safety, and to listen for your wisdom. Then you will use the “building blocks” of casting lessons, critter lessons, conservation and being a steward of the resource. The time you invest in your little partner as they begin the learning process will show itself soon enough. The day they skip that perfect cast under a dock or master a new technique will stand out for both them and you. Each first of a species or each personal best are always trophies worthy of celebration. Before long you will have built a fishing partner that you can both teach and learn from. The adventures and memories that come from that relationship are worth the every bit of effort it takes.
HIGH AND FAST OR LOW AND SLOW TWO SPEEDS FOR SUMMER SMALLMOUTH
BY JEFF LITTLE
photo by Jeff Little KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE 9
I lifted my rod tip and felt the 1/4 ounce jig and grub combo tumble across chunk rock, just inside the eddy seam. Peering into the distorted but clear turbulent water, I noticed a black tail turn, right about where my grub had just tumbled. I lifted the rod tip again, waiting for the thump, but instead I just saw the beastly smallmouth follow the grub into the more placid center of the eddy. I moved the bait another three feet, and the big fish followed, then turned away, just to watch the baits next move from four feet away. If this was a game of poker, I would have lost badly. With every little hop, the big fish became more skeptical, and eventually swam off completely. Watching it happen made it even worse.
photo by Jeff Little
Fortunately, that was many years ago. I’ve learned a few things about playing cards with a bronzeback since then. One way to get a big fish to double down is to fish whatever bait you are using at full speed. The other way is to put it out there and do nothing whatsoever with it. Between the two, I catch more deadsticking than burning a bait. That being said, the days where I’ve caught more big summer river smallmouth than others have been “strain as much water as quickly as you can” types of days. Those two statements don’t seem to mesh well with each other. The key lies in knowing their mood today. The way you figure that out is by watching them. If you can get eyes on smallmouth before they get their eyes on you, notice what they are doing. Are they moving around, cruising for a meal? It might be time to burn it. Or did you paddle up behind them sitting in one spot and spook them out of it? Within the same day, there will be times to burn and times to deadstick. Early and late in the day, when the light is low you ought to try burning a small swimbait at speeds that leave the bait out of the water more than it’s in it. I refer to this tactic as skittering, and cover it in my DVD River Smallmouth Summer Patterns: Tactics From Post Spawn Through the Dog Days. I remember a guide client of mine from years ago who doubted this tactics effectiveness when he first saw me do it. He put his rod down, just watched me reel a Zoom Super Fluke in at super speeds across the surface and asked, “What are you doing?! Did you not like your cast?” I explained to him that when a smallmouth wants to eat, he can chase down anything he sets his mind to, and when that happens, baitfish are out of the water more than they are in it. He twitched his fluke just under the surface for the next five minutes in disbelief. Then I had a monstrous but skinny post spawn 20.75 incher bulge the surface behind my bait for 20 yards or so before finally snatching and turning with it. My client’s next cast came back to his kayak in about a tenth the time of the previous. He was sold on skittering. So does that mean that you can just start chucking and winding wherever and expect smallmouth to emerge with great speed and destroy? Not exactly. It’s not going to work if they aren’t there. The places they want to be all have one thing in common:
lower water temperatures. Shady areas caused by overhanging trees, or even shadows cast by large boulders can provide cooler, more oxygen rich water in the heat of summer. Deep water also filters out the light, providing a haven of cooler habitat. But don’t think that they won’t come rocketing out of 15 feet of water to blast a shallow diving crankbait wobbling at full speed! Open water assaults are smallmouth’s specialty, especially when they think that they are cloaked by a deep water vertical ascent. Now if you’ve identified a pod of fish visually, and they just won’t commit to a blazing fast presentation, you might have to engage in a staring contest with them. This is where long distance casts are critical. My favorite set up for long distance deadsticking is a 7’ 6” medium fast St. Croix Legend Tournament spinning rod, spooled up with 10 lb test bright yellow braid and an Albright knot attached 8 foot leader of 10 lb test fluorocarbon. This lets me launch a soft plastic jerkbait a long way. If you give them too much of yourself to watch, they won’t watch your deadsticked soft plastic very long. On my favorite stretches of river, I know the structure that holds groups of big fish in summer. I don’t have to visually identify them, and that’s a huge advantage. I know the key clusters of mid pool boulders that they hang around. If you
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14 don’t, not to worry. You just have to be willing to wait them out if you’ve seen them, and they’ve seen you. The first step is to get yourself stationary. I can’t emphasize this enough. I anchor up a full long cast away from the target, usually downstream of it at a 45 degree angle. But you take what position the river gives you sometimes, and downstream casts can work if you closely monitor your line for pick ups. Cast the lure, allowing it to fall all the way to the bottom before flipping the bail and checking to see if it has been picked up. Slightly weighted lures like a soft plastic jerkbait rigged on a 1/8th ounce Confidence Baits Draggin’ Head provide the angler with a more solid connection to wherever the bait came to rest on bottom. I prefer 1/8th ounce for the right rate of fall
for these passive smallmouth to get just enough of a look at it on it’s way down. From this point on, it’s a staring contest. Fixate your eyes on the furthest portion of the bright yellow braided line that you can, and as soon as you see movement, gather the slack and sweep the full length of the 7 plus foot spinning rod. You’ll need that extra rod length in many long distance hook sets. Rest easy that if you don’t get bit within the first minute or two, that the biggest fish tend to pass over the deadsticked bait several times. This often occurs with minutes in between inspections before they decide to suck it in. But know that if you move it from where it came to rest, you have in essence slapped your cards down on the table and exclaimed, “I’m out!” You won’t believe how effective the deadstick bluff can be until you try it.
AT THE END OF THE DAY photo by Joe Floriolli Jr.
KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
CATCH FISH. BY DR. GERALD NISSLEY
photo by Dr. Gerald Nissley I was in a funk. I was fishing on Gilbert Lake in upstate New York, and I was not catching fish. As a clinical psychologist who also helps athletes, I decided I needed an intervention. Positive visualization can be a useful tool for “getting in the zone” and is proven to enhance performance. It’s also easy to do! Visualization, or guided imagery, is often talked about in terms of going to our “happy place” when anxious or distressed, but it can also be used to help us get “out of our heads” and back to focusing on the techniques that land fish. Our brains do not inherently interpret experiences as real or fake. Thus, when we visualize success, it is like we practiced physically. Also, the calming of the mind and breathing necessary for visualization allows us to relax in a way that prevents further hurrying of presentations, casts, etc. that make execution sloppy and ineffective. Engaging in this “mental reset” when we’re getting frustrated is effective, but it works better when practiced proactively as well. To enhance your ability to engage in imagery when out on the water, practice the skill for ten minutes a day, and doing so at the start of your day is usually most effective. At first the skill may seem weird, but fake it until you make it. As for how to engage in visualization, close your eyes and take deep breaths. In training, say a word like “lunker” on your exhale. When you have no more sound coming out for the word, you’ve fully exhaled. While breathing deep, start envisioning your cast – you can select a previous successful memo-
ry or imagine one. Initially, focus on your senses as you imagine the cast – notice the sun on your skin, the wind cooling as it goes through your hair, your muscles tightening as they feel the tension of the rod, etc.. As you’re focused on your sensory experience of the cast, follow it through to successful end. See the lure hit the water, feel the “tap tap”, notice the heaviness of the rod. Follow the image all the way through to the elation of holding your lunker. If using when frustrated or distressed out on the water, use it until you’re more calm and ready to execute. While experiencing the sensations, also imagine yourself executing the desired technique in the cast – imagine good form, and good form follows. You may find, especially as you learn this skill, that you’re frequently distracted. When you become distracted, acknowledge it. I do this by saying, “hmmm… I’m [distraction]. That’s interesting.” Subsequently, focus on your breathing and return to imagery. As you get better at imagery, this will happen less and less. Going to one’s “happy” place is not just for treating anxiety. It can also help us calm down and get reoriented to make that next successful cast. By the way, I just gave you encouragement to think more about fishing. Doctor’s orders! Dr. Gerald Nissley is a licensed psychologist in Marshall, Texas, who provides sports, clinical, and forensic psychological services. Twitter: @DrNissley Web/blog: www.geraldnissleypsyd.com KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
THE LAUNCH photo by Mark Cisneros
photo by Drew Haerer
THE GRASS BY DREW HAERER
Throughout the majority of the northeast, mid- to late June signifies that start of the post-spawn period. This period can be notoriously tough, as fish recover from the spawn. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be caught. Much of the northeast is dotted with relatively small, grassy lakes, which are perfect for kayak bassin’. Breaking down their vegetation can be the key to unlocking great post-spawn bass fishing. After bass spawn, they typically move to out of spawning areas and set-up around the nearest cover or structure. Fish want a sense of security, but also want to be close to food sources. Because various types of panfish and baitfish are active and spawning during this time, start by finding obvious spots that will attract baitfish. These areas include points, drops, channels, edges, wood cover, and docks. Focusing on vegetation in these areas can instantly eliminate a ton of water.
as-rigged worms, soft plastic jerkbaits, and swim jigs can be very productive when fishing edges. Look for deeper weed edges adjacent to spawning areas, particularly if they may have wood, rock, docks, or other cover nearby. Deep weed clumps are also perfect resting areas for tired bass. I use swimbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and lipless cranks to try and elicit strikes, often ripping the baits through or in-and-out of the weeds.
Vegetation points are prime areas to find transitioning baitfish. Fish these points at different angles with crankbaits, buzzbaits, and other lures. You may also be faced with the opposite scenario – a large flat filled with lily pads and heavy grass, which all looks nearly the same. These areas are best fished by making long casts with snagless lures, such as hollow body frogs or paddle tail swimbaits, rigged on braided line. I also always have Channels are often characterized by isolated vegetation, deep a finesse worm rigged and ready as a throwback lure, as many weed clumps, and weed edges. Isolated clumps can be treated post-spawn bass will swing and miss when resting in heavy vegjust like any piece of isolated cover, and fished with efficient, etation. Be sure to make multiple casts to any areas that stand accurate casts. I often begin throwing a popper or spitter out as being different, such as logs, stumps, overhanging trees, around isolated vegetation, but post-spawn bass won’t always holes in the mat, or particularly thick weed clumps. eat a topwater offering. If they don’t, I’ll go subsurface, and You may also be faced with the challenge of emerging vegetry a swimbait if the water is clear or spinnerbait, such as the tation, especially after harsh winters when the early growing Premier League Lures Fade Blade, if the water is dirty. If I still season is postponed. Fish in emerging or sparse vegetation are don’t get bit, I’ll go with soft plastics, mainly flipping a creature often the least likely to eat, because they don’t have the same bait in a sunfish color or tossing a finesse worm. I typically sense of security. Therefore, I ratchet up my approach for these use a ¼ oz. tungsten weight, 18 lb fluorocarbon, a 4/0 EWG fish, throwing loud buzzbaits, lipless crankbaits, and big worms Gamakatsu hook, and a high speed baitcasting reel to flip. For to try to madden the bass into striking. finesse fishing, I prefer a 4”-5” worm, 6-8 lb fluorocarbon, a 2/0 EWG hook, and a spinning reel with a good drag. The Post-spawn bass may be lazy and tired, but they can’t resist an key is to fish fast, yet slow, meaning to not spend too much easy meal dropped right in their lap. Focus on these key vegetime on any one clump, but to fish them thoroughly and from tation areas and catch more post-spawn bass. different angles. Drew is a North East/New England correspondent for Kayak Bass Weed edges, which often signify channels or drops, can be Fishing Magazine. He runs the website Man Powered Fishing fished by making long casts parallel to the edge with a variety and has a variety of pro-staff affiliations, including Wilderness of baits. In addition to the baits already mentioned, TexSystems, Bending Branches, and Carolina Custom Rods.
HOW TO MAKE A
DIFFERENCE BY JOSHUA EVANS photo by Joshua Evans
Imagine being a young Soldier on the front lines and missing the things dearest to you as chaos consumes the world around you. Whether it’s the smell of your wife’s hair after she’s gotten out of the shower, the smile on your daughter’s face when she catches her first fish, or something as simple as sitting at your favorite pond, the thoughts and images are draped across your mind daily.
One’s focus goes from “Man, I have to pay the car and mortgage bill today” to “I think this watermelon seed Texas-rigged ribbon tail will crush the bass on that laydown.” While those stressors and responsibilities don’t completely disappear, they aren’t your priority when you’re on the water. Instead, you are.
So now you may ask, “What does this have to do with fishing or me for that matter.” The answer is simple, EVERYTHING. Many kayak anglers paddle because of the freedom and peace of mind it provides them while on the water. The everyday stressors of life and trying to make it melt away the second that first stroke cuts through the water.
Many of you may have seen Heroes on the Water decals on boats, but never really knew what we do. In short, wounded warriors are invited to spend a day on the water relaxing. All gear is prepared prior to launch time, the logistics associated with fishing a particular location are taken care of by volunteers, and even lunch at the conclusion of the day is hndled
Now, think back to that young Soldier I mentioned earlier and how their reality is not what it should be anymore. After deYou are constantly just wanting to be home to experience fending our freedoms and paying for it with their sense of northose things and all the while, enduring that which no person malcy or sanity in many cases, should they have to go it alone should ever have to go through. Now imagine being home in life? I am no doctor or counselor but, I would have to say again where you should be able to enjoy those sites, sounds no. This is where you and I come in and have the opportunity and scents, only you can’t. Instead, all you can do is relive the to pay them back for their sacrifices. There is an amazing organightmare that was your reality for 12 to 15 months. Anger, nization called Heroes on the Water (HOW) that was founded frustration, and suicidal thoughts replace the jokes, laughter, by Jim Dolan specifically to help our veterans. Whether it be a and affection your family and friends were once accustomed to. young warrior like the one previously described, or a Vietnam This is the reality that far too many combat veterans face on a era veteran that still fights with their personal demons, HOW daily basis. can make a difference in their life.
and awaiting participants once they are done wetting a line. Every aspect of the event is planned, prepared, and executed in such a way so as to allow the warriors to focus on one thing, relaxation. The freedom and peace of mind of paddling is theirs to enjoy. Whether their goal is to catch the biggest fish in the lake or just lounge and soak up the sights, sounds, and sun, it is their choice. Many of these folks spend countless hours in hospitals and/or therapy, so imagine how much a day like this means to them. As an Army Bass Angler, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to volunteering with my local Maryland chapter of Heroes on the Water and the therapeutic benefits of their program just over a year ago.
Water has helped me keep things in my life in perspective and reminds me daily that life could always be harder. It has positively impacted me and my family’s lives beyond what mere words could ever describe. If you have not already done so, I ask that you check out your local chapter of Heroes on the Water and see what you can do to help. In doing so, you may just save someone’s life and possibly your own. Thanks for your time and as always, tight lines and sharp minds.
I showed up for an event and instantly felt like part of the family. During my 9 ½ years spent on Active Duty, I have known a lot of guys and girls that could have really benefitted from a day on the water with HOW (myself included). I’ve witnessed first-hand the ways volunteering as a fishing guide and mentor has touched the people we’ve taken out. I have seen the relief and joy on their faces, all from something as simple as catching a 12” bass. While I was medically discharged from service recently, I feel as though my injuries pale in comparison to many of our participants. Volunteering with Heroes on the
photo by Joshua Evans KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
BIGGEST FISH: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN? BY DR. PAUL SHIPMAN
photo by Mike DeMarco If you were to ask the average fisherman “how big was that fish you caught?”, their response would commonly include them stretching out their hands to indicate the length of the fish in question. Sure, there’s a pretty good chance they are telling a lie, but if they also report a weight, odds are they lying about that as well. I daresay that ever since anglers first began bragging about the size of fish - a practice that probably commenced with the very first fish ever caught - the length of fish has been the common measurement when referring to size. Despite this tradition, the weight of fish, rather than length, somehow over the years became the standard for determining the “biggest” fish in bass fishing tournaments. That is, until the recent explosion in the number of competitive kayak bass fishing tournaments where catch, photograph, and release (CPR) has become the rule.
tude of a body, WHICH IS LITERALLY HOW BIG THAT SOMETHING IS. Length, width, height, circumference, area, and volume are all measurements that describe size. Weight, on the other hand, is the relative mass of a body, and NOT figured into size or how big something is, but rather how heavy it is. Therefore, it is technically incorrect to use the weight of a fish to indicate size (measured by length) or how big it is. Now the argument becomes whether you think size or heaviness (measured by weight) should be used to judge the best fish for tournaments. Now that we have properly characterized what “size” and “biggest” fish actually mean, here is something to consider that advocates for using length vs. weight as a more reliable measure to determine what the best fish is in a tournament. Of the two methods of measuring fish, length is the least variable over time.
The truth is there are some anglers who haven’t become comfortable with the idea of using length, rather than weight, as the determining measure for tournaments. Let’s take a moment to compare using length vs. weight to measure fish and The length of a fish is less likely to change over the course of a consider what the terms “size” and “big” actually mean (NERD tournament whereas there are many factors that can alter the ALERT). weight of a fish in a very short period of time. The weight of a fish might change over the course of a few hours depending Here is what the Science of Physics has to say on this topic. upon what it eats, stress, blood loss due to injury, spawning, By definition, size refers to the physical dimension or magnietc.
As you might expect, thereâ€™s a well studied and not surprising significant correlation between length and weight of a fish. Obviously, the longer the fish, the heavier it is. This has led to the creation of several fairly reliable length-weight estimates.
the same winners to the top ten places 75-77% of the time.
Certainly arguments can be made for and against both tournament formats (weigh-ins vs. CPR) with respect to measurement error, negative impacts on fisheries, and opportunities Still not convinced? A few years ago, I, and one of my students for anglers to cheat, but thereâ€™s really no compelling reason to at the Rochester Institute of Technology compared the outconsider length to be an inferior indicator of quality fish comcomes of using length vs. weight to score bass fishing tournapared with weight. ments. Paul Shipman has a PhD in Zoology from Oklahoma State UniWe used actual state records of length and weight measureversity, is a founding member and President of the Western New ments for over 70,000 largemouth and smallmouth bass, and York Kayak Fishing Association, is a club advisor for the Rochester ran 200 simulated bass tournaments. We found that length Institute of Technology Anglers and member of the Feelfree Kayaks measurements compared with weight measurements predicted Fishing Team
photo by Mike DeMarco KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
POSSIBILITIES photo by Frank Maglin
FISHING IT’S NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST BY DARYL BOYD
photo by Chris LeMessurier Have you heard people say topwater is for first thing in the morning or maybe at the end of the day? The assumption is that it gets too hot in the middle of the day for a surface presentation. And fish will automatically be more sluggish in colder conditions and therefore only bite a slow presentation. I personally do not prescribe to this way of thinking. It would cost me far too much fun. Much the same as I feel about eggs and bacon, topwater fishing isn’t just for breakfast.
ple days in the 40’s which I normally wouldn’t do. Most of the fish and the biggest fish I caught in January, even on cold windy days, were caught on topwater lures. And by topwater I mean pretty much anything you can dream up to work on the surface but there are some standards that all fishermen should consider adding to the tackle box.
Hollow bodied frogs, mice, rats and other critters are super Now, I’m not saying a buzz-bait is the best choice in 40 degree weedless and are great for throwing into the sloppiest of messwater or to throw a frog at noon in 95 degree heat. What I es. They can be just as effective in open water but due to their am saying is fish may be less affected by the temperature than relatively low hook up rate, there are better options for that. we sometimes think. I am more experienced as a bass fisherYou are going to want to use your heavy braid and a big heavy man but I do a fair amount of inshore fishing as well and I can duty rod for this presentation. tell you that 90% of the Snook I have caught have been on a Your line will be laying on and around all of that slop so it topwater bait, and a good percentage of those have come right takes some effort to get a hood set. And once you do, you in the middle of the day even in sweltering heat. Same goes for need to be able to put some serious heat on. bass. I catch some of my biggest bass when they are seeking shade under a lily pad by working a surface lure on top of the The soft plastic frogs, or toads as they are sometimes called, are cover. also popular this time of year and can be thrown into the thick stuff or “buzzed” along cover in open water. And then there I don’t fish in cold weather a lot for two reasons. We don’t get are buzz baits which look similar to a spinner bait but with a a lot of cold weather where I live and frankly, I don’t have to. I paddle type blade that gurgles and plops it’s way along the surcan typically wait a couple of days for the weather to change. face. Buzz baits are fairly weedless but need a little room to do But I had shoulder surgery this Fall so once I was cleared to their thing. They can be deadly along edges or over submerged fish, I was going no matter what. I ended up fishing multigrass. As with most topwater presentations, line visibility isn’t KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29 a major factor here so go ahead and use the heavy stuff. Some of the more common topwater baits are the hard bodied, cigar shaped baits that walk, pop and rip on the surface. I personally find a medium speed, steady retrieve with the walking type baits like a Zara Spook to be very effective and have caught multiple big bass this way. Popping baits prop baits can be jerked to make plopping or ripping sounds and can produce some acrobatic strikes. These types of baits use treble hooks so they aren’t weedless at all but can be deadly over submerged grass. Since these presentations are for more open water, I suggest a monofilament line since it doesn’t sink as fast as other options. I have probably caught more fish in my lifetime on a soft plastic jerk bait or fluke style bait fished on the surface than anything else other than maybe a worm. It is partly to do with where I live and where I fish but this is a versatile and effective choice of top water presentation. Most people like to fish this bait below the surface but rigged Texas style with no weight, this bait is as deadly as they come in grass. The presentation is a “walk-the-dog” retrieve through the grass and out and over submerged cover. It is very weedless and can be fished in pretty thick stuff but is best if it has a little room to walk. I typically use a lighter braid, say 20lb test for this presentation to give me some strength in the grass but also allow me to cast the lighter bait. Another great soft plastic bait in grass is a paddle tail swim bait like the Bruiser Super Swimmer. I’ll run it along just about like a buzz bait until it gets to an edge and then let it fall. This bait and technique has produced most of my bass over 5lbs in the last few years. My advice is always have a surface presentation tied on and experiment every time you go out. Throw it at different times of the day and in different conditions. I think you will find that you can catch fish on the surface in a wide variety of conditions but there is a second benefit. When the bite is really slow, I find that throwing a loud topwater lure will sometimes create some activity. Even though they may not fully commit to the surface lure, I can follow up with a soft plastic and get a reaction bite. Everyone loves the explosive nature of topwater fishing so why limit ourselves to that kind of enjoyment a few months a year in the morning? Feed them a steady diet of gurgling, splashing, plopping, buzzing, walking, top water baits for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
photo by Drew Haerer
KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
FIRST STOP OF THE MORNING photo by Joe Floriolli Jr.
BY ALEJANDRO PEREZ-ARTEAGA
photo by Alejandro Perez-Arteaga
In Mexico, seasons are not as clearly distinguished as in northern latitudes. Summer is the time of year where most rainfall occurs, lowering the high temperatures of late spring across most of the country. Once rains start (around mid June-mid July), water cools down and bass start to move away from the shallows. However, many bass still are present around shallow cover, while some other move to deeper water. Early summer is a fantastic time to fish, as the weather is nicer than in the previous hotter months, and the bass are still very active. Large, heavy bass can still be caught in shallow grounds, as spawning can extend all throughout the season. Here, I briefly talk about some of my favorite techniques for summertime bass in Mexico. They will also work for you elsewhere, so make sure to give them a try if they’re not on your list.
SHALLOW COVER Standing timber is the most frequent type of cover that you’ll encounter in Mexican lakes, especially on those with shallower water. Trees that died when flooding the lake, are usually mesquite, huizache or other thorn-forest or deciduous dry-forest species. Famous trophy lakes such as El Salto, lake Guerrero and recently Picachos, have abundant standing timber that provides cover for big bass year round. However, it might be difficult to pick a good spot, as there are extensive expanses of standing cover almost everywhere. What I usually do is limit my fishing areas to those that have a steep drop-off nearby, or a (albeit small) creek or channel running through it. As bass fishing canons dictates, just pick a place where there are different habitats: deep water, shallow cover, points, creeks, or gravel or sand banks. Once I have picked my fishing spot, I usually go with weedless baits, as there are many opportunities to loose your lure. I keep my approach simple, casting to the bank or to particular trees. I have one rod rigged with each of the following lures for fishing standing cover in summer.
A CASTING JIG A pumpkin or black/blue jig with a big trailer is always on one of my rods. I use ½-oz most of the time, with different sorts of trailers. Use one with quality hooks and experiment with the trailers. Did I mention big trailers? A 6” or 7” senko, a magnum lizard, a full-size brush hog, are all good options. I don’t know if you’ve tried this before, but toads are particularly good trailers for big bass. Both legs kick on the fall as if they were two swimbait tails and give a lot of bulk with a smaller profile (than the trailers above) to your jig. Bass simply can’t resist them sometimes, so be sure you try it. Cast or pitch your jig to particular trees and let it fall to the bottom, shaking it a few times. I don’t usually work it throughout the branches, as most of the bites will be from the base of the tree. I use a setup identical to the one for Texas rigs, but with 40 to 50-lb straight braid. I also have a 6’10” heavy spinning rod that works wonders for pitching from the kayak. A SWIMMING JIG A good reaction bait is also a good choice. Even though I prefer slower-moving baits for standing cover, a swim jig might be the ticket to make those big bass react when they don’t want to attack a soft plastic or casting jig. Choose any specialized swimming jig and cast it to the bank, among sunken trees, and parallel to the outer edges of the standing timber field. I particularly like attaching a 5-inch swimbait tail so that it gives a nice kick and rolling action to the jig. I usually choose white or shad colors. A good thing about the swimming jig is that you can also work it as a casting jig and vary your retrieve, letting it fall to the bottom once in a while. But usually, a simple cast and retrieve technique is all that is needed. A 7’ heavy baitcasting rod with a moderate tip is best in my opinion for this technique. I pair it to a medium-speed (6:1) reel spooled with 40lb braid.
A FULL-SIZE BRUSH HOG OR MAGNUM LIZARD The venerable brush hog is still one of my favorites for Texas rigging. I use green pumpkin with chartreuse-dyed tails for stained water and watermelon for clear water. I Texas-rig it with a tungsten weight usually 3/8 or 1/4 –oz for very shallow cover. The heavier weight is enough to get down fast in standing timber. I use the lighter weight when targeting very shallow cover, 6 feet deep or less. This is the rig that I use most of the time. I prefer a 7’ heavy powered baitcasting rod with a fast tip and a fast reel. I favor straight braid, 30 or 40-lb being my choice. If water is too clear or if I feel bass might be spooked by the line, I add a 3 to 4-feet 20lb fluorocarbon leader. A magnum lizard in the same colors is also a good choice, I start with a brush hog and switch to a lizard if the bass are not biting.
photo by Alejandro Perez-Arteaga
OPEN WATER STRUCTURE When bass are not biting in shallow standing timber, and I suspect they have moved to or are more active in cooler water, I fish deeper structure on open water. Cattle stone corrals, old roads or rock piles are excellent choices. Any structure that you can find and that provides changes in topography for the fish to hide will be good places to fish. Big fish will not only be tight to the structure, but schools of big fish will also be positioned above the structure. These places can offer very hot action that can give you many big bass from the same spot. For fishing these, I don’t anchor, but rather I paddle upwind and drift with the wind, casting towards the area where the structure is present until I leave the strike zone and then paddle back and make different passes. I try to find structure in the 12 to 20 feet deep range where water is cooler than in the shallows but still keeps bass quite responsive. I have several rods rigged each with the following lures. A SOFT BODIED OR HOLLOW SWIMBAIT A 6-inch soft bodied swimbait, or a 6 to 7-inch hollow-bodied swimbait is a great way to catch aggressive bass suspended over the structure. Cast and retrieve. I use white or shad colors. If you are in an area with threadfin shad (called “machete” or “cuchillo” in some Mexican lakes), it’s great to paint a yellow stripe along the swimbait, or choose a sexy shad color. For this I use a heavy, 7 to 7’3’’ baitcasting rod with a 6:1 reel and 40lb braid or 20lb fluorocarbon. A BIG FLUTTER SPOON Choose the biggest flutter spoon you can find. Change to top-quality treble hooks (I use 1/0) and split rings. Cast towards the structure, let it fall on semi-slack line, and then stroke it all the way to the kayak. They will hit it hard. Actually, I’ve caught considerably larger bass on flutter spoons than with other lures on summer on deeper structure. You won’t have as many bites but they are very likely to be big bass. Flutter spoons are heavy so choose a specialized rod. I use a long-handle, 7’6’’ heavy-powered, moderate-action rod with 20lb fluorocarbon. This technique is extremely fun, so be cautious, once you get your first bass on a big flutter spoon, you will want to cast it everywhere. Be cautious, it will hang up, check your sonar for barbed wire fences or other snaggy structure to avoid losing these as they are expensive. A BIG WORM I like a 11-inch ribbontail worm, Texas-rigged with a 5/0 offset hook and tungsten weight. I use a heavy weight to get it down quickly to the bottom and avoid bites from smaller bass that might be upper in the water column. A ¾ to 1-ounce weight will work fine. Regardless of water clarity, a bead will work well, attracting nearby bass. A trick that is used in some trophy lakes in Mexico is to use not one but two weights, the first one
photo by Alejandro Perez-Arteaga in a regular fashion with the bullet point towards the rod and the other backwards, with a glass bead sandwiched between them. This really works so try it out. Two 3/8 or ½ oz weights in this fashion will be very effective. I prefer green tequila sunrise or red shad colors on my big worms. A 7’ to 7’3’’ heavy-powered baitcasting rod with a high speed reel and 30 to 40lb braid, is all you need. There are many other techniques that will give you big bass in summer. However I’ve found that the above will work most of the time for me and will allow me to have 3 or 4 rods at the most and be prepared for most conditions. Keep in mind that if fishing standing timber fields in shallow water you need to have a low profile and keep your rods down if possible, to avoid hanging up on branches. Spinnerbaits will also work well instead of a swimming jig so be sure to carry a few white ones if you’re a blade fisherman. Not so much my stuff so I don’t use them a lot. Also experiment with a jika rig, use a medium heavy or heavy spinning rig. This works as a finesse approach if you feel you’re getting skunked. If on deeper structure and not getting bites, a ¼-oz shaky head will probably save your day. I hope these techniques will give you great bites if you come to Mexico for big bass. If you don’t, be sure to try them in your home lake. Largemouth bass are naturally voracious and aggressive and will attack big baits if presented correctly. So get your heavy rods ready and be prepared for a fun day under the sun! Alejandro Pérez-Arteaga is a Pro Staff for Wilderness Systems Kayaks, Kistler Rods, Yak Attack, RAM Mounting Systems and HOOK1 Crew. He lives and fishes in central Mexico. KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
SKYBOUND SMALLIE photo by Jeff Little
SUMMERTIME STILLNESS photo by Chris Payne
PREPARING FOR THE
IN CANADA BY DR ROBERTO BRIONES
photo by Corbet Deary
It has been a LONG winter in Canada. All of our reels have been cleaned and greased…twice! Our rods have been collecting dust for several months now. Enough! It’s summer now and time to enjoy our favourite pastime. Time to get our kayaks out, wet some lines and wash some lures. If you’re a lure-a-holic like myself, you probably bought as many, as you could possibly afford during all this time. But hey, we fish from kayaks and there is only so much we can take before our kayak starts sinking carrying the weight of our tackle boxes. How should you prepare for opening day? CHOOSE A LAKE OR RIVER If it’s your first time on that body of water do some research on it. Nowadays there is ample information on just about anything on the Internet. Find out what species live there; but most importantly what are those trophy fish feeding on. Try to “match-the-hatch”. Ask around and get some advice on the area; places where you can launch and which direction you should paddle. Fishing forums are great places to get some insight on different destinations. Study the map of the lake/ river and choose your destination(s). Google Earth has incredible aerial views that you can zoom in/out to give you a better perspective of the terrain. CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST You’ve been waiting several months for this day to come. The last thing you want is to have a bummer of a day by not preparing yourself for the elements. Fresh, quick-drying clothes are what you need, but also have light rain gear in case there’s a change in weather. Bring a hat/cap to protect your scalp from the sun. Polarized eye wear is very useful to protect your eyes from the sun, but most importantly, the polarizing feature of your “shades” is to reduce the glare of the water so you can see those fish swimming. And, last but not least, wear sunscreen. Melanoma (skin cancer) is not a very nice way to end your fishing career. That’s the doctor in me talking! Also, bring plenty of fluids. Paddling burns calories and your body sweats from both, the summer heat and exercise. You will loose electrolytes and you need to replenish them. Water and some electrolyte drinks are good to carry on your kayak. A good alternative to those energy drinks rich in sugar and artificial colorings is Sword Hydration that dissolves clear and doesn’t clump, even in cold water. You may also want to bring along something to eat. YOU’LL NEED THAT TACKLE It’s summer (finally!) and water temperatures are on the rise, which means that fish are getting more active, but those active fish are not necessarily the biggest. I personally like to bring along spinnerbaits and crankbaits to look for them. Once I know where they’re hanging I slow down my presentation with either wacky-style senkos or -my favourite- dropshot rigged with Butter-it Slam-Oh’s or PowerTeam Lures JP Hammer Shads. The weight on the end of your line will depend on
the water current: the stronger the current, the heavier the weight you’ll need. Slowing down your presentation means you’ll be taunting the big mommas putting the food in front of their noses. Fish are big because they’re lazy and don’t like to work hard to get their food; they’re opportunistic. Big fish are fat because they don’t burn as many calories. As for the lure colours you have to remember one thing: fish have their eyes located on top of their heads, which means that they look upwards. Therefore, if you have an overcast sky, it would be useful to bring along darker lures that contrast the clouds in the sky. Opposite is when you have a clear sky: bright colours work better most of the time (do not use blue). In murky water it really doesn’t matter what lure colours you use, as long as they are noisy or create enough vibration to attract them. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THESE ITEMS Nothing frustrates a kayak fisherman more than forgetting his/her paddle. I have read numerous rants about friends forgetting their paddle after traveling a long distance to get to their fishing grounds. Touch wood, I have never forgotten mine, but it happens! When choosing your paddle keep in mind your height and the width of your vessel. There are numerous types of paddles in the market. They come in different lengths and materials used. They also come in an array of different budgets. You can get them less expensive with aluminum shafts, but they are heavier. I don’t recommend using aluminum shaft paddles because in colder weather they tend to cool down a lot and can be quite uncomfortable in your bare hands. Other types of paddles have fiberglass shafts. These are in the middle of the cost spectrum. They are better for colder weather and don’t get as cold as aluminum shafts. The best allaround paddles have carbon fibre shafts. They are light, which is helpful when paddling long distances, but they tend to be more expensive. My paddle of choice is the BendingBranches Angler Pro Plus, with an adjustable carbon fibre ferrule. The second item your should NEVER leave without and the most important piece of equipment is your PFD. It’s like your life insurance: you buy it and hope you never have to make use of it. If you’re on the water WEAR IT! It’s that simple. Every year many people drown because they forget to wear it. Your life is worth more than your investment in one. There are many brands out there. Like your kayak, try them out and buy the one that fits you better and comes with the features that you’re looking for to enjoy a fun day on the water. Kokatat, Mustang, Stohlquist and Astral make some of the best life jackets in the market. Hopefully you find these tips useful for bass opener in Canada and always remember: “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office”. Good fishing and see y’all on the water! Follow DrB on Instagram @BassinDrB; Twitter @BassinDrB; Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrBOutdoors. KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
QUICK TIPS: QUICK TIPS:
NORTH CAROLINA BY ERIC BOYD
photo by Eric Boyd The cure for the “post spawn blues” is simple. Grab a kayak and head for the foothills of North Carolina. Many rivers and creeks cut through the Carolina landscape and make home to 3 members of the black bass family - largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth. Just about any free flowing stream will hold bass and June is a great month to get after the green fish - or bronze if you like. North Carolina rivers warm quickly and can make for a short spawning season. Typically, these river bass will conclude their spawning ritual by the middle of May. By June, water temps will be approaching 80 degrees which makes topwater baits especially buzzers - a go to in a river rat’s arsenal. Don’t forget the rest of your river lineup though.
BY WESLEY JONES
photo by Jeromy Ralston Places like the California Delta will have fish spawning into the beginning of June whereas other waterways, the spawn will be over in a matter of weeks. This time of year it isn’t uncommon for 20+ inch fish to be caught and a 25+ inch fish is not impossible either! Being in kayaks we can get up in to some of those shallow back waters where the big fish can spawn undisturbed. An extremely useful tool to have rigged on your kayak is some sort of shallow water anchoring system like the YakAttack ParkNPole or a Power-Pole Micro Anchor. If you are trying to see a fish on a bed, it can be frustrating constantly trying to readjust because you keep drifting away.
While paddling down the bank looking for big fish on beds, a common tactic in the West is to cast a swimbait through these areas with the hopes of hooking into the fish of a lifetime that Largemouth, smallies, and spots inhabit rivers shoals this time is either moving up to spawn or has already spawned. It is a of year. At normal water levels, anglers should target these good idea to try a few different tactics when targeting these shoals for hungry bass. Focus on current lines, pools, and bigger fish to see which they prefer. Remember it is importeddies for those bass feeding on shad, crayfish, and shiners. ant to have the proper gear when targeting these BIG FISH. The buzzbait along with spinner bait and crankbait make for a You can sometimes get away with using a 7’-6” Heavy Flippin’ power fishing field day in the rocks. In slower sections between Stick, but many of the swimbait rods are closer to 8’ long and shoals, try flipping baits and finesse worms around timber. are often Extra-Heavy for a reason. With the onset of spring also comes the chance for rain and high muddy water. This is no time to sit on the couch pouting and watching B.A.S.S. or FLW. Bass will flock to high water eddies and this can make for some of the best fishing of the year. Seek out the largest eddies on a given river and fish them hard. The spinnerbait or chatterbait are the weapons of choice in this situation as they are in other muddy water scenarios. There will typically be a “sweet spot” in the eddy. Make multiple casts at multiple targets and angles until you get that first bite. That first bite will likely fire up the rest of the school making for non-stop action. On a side note, be careful while on the river in high water situations. Make safe decisions and wear your PFD.
While a swimbait may get you the fish of a lifetime it can be a hit or miss type tactic. If you prefer to just go out and put as much slime as you can on your boat, a finesse type technique can be a great way to go after numbers. Tossing around a weightless stick bait or drop-shotting can catch numbers easily. Never forget a Texas-rigged 6 inch worm! I prefer a 6’-6” to 7’ medium to medium-heavy spinning rod with 6 to 8 lb test line when fishing finesse type techniques. As we transition into the warmer summer months, consider t hitting up the often overlooked waters like the flowing rivers which are often times much cooler in temperatures than the lakes.
MICHIGAN BY PAUL BIEDIGER photo by Mike DeMarco Another long winter has come to an end, and the water temperatures are slowly rising. I am ready to fish on the many rivers, small inland lakes, and the Great Lakes of Michigan. I have been fishing from kayaks for quite a while for the pure enjoyment of having the ability to access those small areas that hold fish with an attitude. I have found that river bass have a lot more fight than most lake bass due to the strength they develop having to hold in the current, waiting for their next meal to swim by.
When fishing river currents, the fish tend to face up stream, which allows them to see their next meal coming. Concentrate your efforts on the upstream side of any structure. I have fished an area floating down with the flow of the river without a bite, then when I come back through the same area from down current, I find fish. Use the currents to your advantage. Look for fish to hang around eddies, where the water tends to be deeper in the pockets. Bigger fish like to stay just out of the swirling water to ambush their prey.
I am lucky to live near the start of the Huron River in southeast Michigan. The river holds Largemouth, Smallmouth, Rock Bass, and some good Pike. The fishing can be explosive on top water frogs at any given time of the day. The Bass are very aggressive when a good meal presents itself to them. I have had bass chase a lure from across the river to attack it. Many times you will have other fish chasing your hooked fish as well. The bigger fish tend to hide in the shade of the branches and logs when the sun starts to beat down on them. This is where I concentrate most of my casting as the day goes on. Occasionally a pike will show up out of nowhere and give you a surprise as they tend to hit the lure next to the kayak, either giving you a fantastic fight or biting through your leader, which happens more than I care to mention. I use 15 lb. braid with a fluorocarbon leader to help get the fish out of the limbs without breaking off.
Tackle management must be maintained while on any flowing body of water. The overhanging limbs of trees and the bridges you may pass under can and will relieve you of a rod tip or even a complete rod! I use rod floats on all of my poles and they have saved me on more than one occasion! Keep everything else secured down or stored away.
The tackle I use on the rivers will vary depending on the flow and water temperature. I like to use a 7 ft. medium-light spinning rod for tossing Zoom Super flukes rigged on a 3/0 extra wide gap hook. With this tackle I can side arm cast under overhangs and docks along the banks. I also take along a 7 ft. bait cast rod to burn toads across the tops of lily pads and along the undercuts. I rig them with the same 3/0 hook that I use for the swim baits. Another set-up that is often over looked on rivers is the finesse jig. The ¼ oz. jig with a craw style trailer can be worked around the back and side of boulders to entice the picky bass to come out and play. Jerk baits can be a good producer as well. An angler can let them float down with the current and then twitch them in place to drive a reluctant fish into a frenzy!
I have seen more than one experienced angler turtle their kayak on the river and lose equipment. That being said, I always, repeat, always have my life vest on when fishing any body of water! I like to fish with people but when I go alone, I make sure to let someone know where I will be and when I plan on returning. You can find many small bodies of water around your home with the use of Google Earth. It gives me something to do in the winter when the ice keeps me off of the water. I can take a drive to the area and get a good idea of the parking situation, and if needed, talk to any home owners that may allow me access to the water if nothing else is available. Don’t expect to catch a monster in the smaller rivers but don’t be surprised if you do! I have caught many largemouth in the three to five pound range out of a river that was no more the 15 feet wide! Paul Biediger is a Firefighter/Paramedic in Southfield Michigan and a former member of the United States Air Force. He is a member of the Hobie Fishing Team and spends as much time as he can on the water fishing as well as doing fishing seminars and demos with Summit Sports. KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
SKINNY WATER SPINNERBAITING BY JUAN VERUETE
photo by Juan Veruete
A fishing buddy and I paddled to the takeout with the sun slipping behind the mountains just west of the river. Two consecutive days of tossing spinnerbaits had our elbows sore and our smiles wide. We bantered back and forth reminiscing about how many truly big smallmouth bass we had caught and the frantic battles that took place in the skinniest of water. It was one of those days that gets etched deep into an angler’s kayak fishing memory. Success with spinnerbaits in the low, clear rivers of late summer isn’t the norm in bass fishing. It takes some adjustments to the physical appearance of your spinnerbait and presentation style but it’s a big fish strategy that works so here’s the “skinny” on skinny water spinnerbaiting. DOWNSIZE IT Smallmouth tend to prefer spinnerbaits in the 3/16 oz. or ¼ oz. range when the river is low and clear. I’m not saying big spinnerbaits can’t work but if I’m playing the odds, my money will be on a small profile lightweight bait. The smaller baits almost always do the trick! Sparse skirts are the ticket in clear water. Too much volume in the skirt and the fish may reject your presentation. You can still use a plastic trailer on your spinnerbaits but make it a slender profile piece of plastic. Simple twister tail grubs or thinner profile swimbaits make excellent spinnerbait trailers when you’re finessing the fish in clear water. GET REAL Keep color selection simple. You don’t need to be exact. I tell students in my kayak fishing classes to be “in the same neighborhood” with their color choices. Survey your local flow and the baitfish available to the bass and select spinnerbait colors that mimic those food sources. Many times you can obtain additional information on the forage base of a flow by reading biologists’ reports from your state’s fish and game commission.
photo by Juan Veruete of blades is the time tested willow blade. Use a smaller size to compliment the small frame of a ¼ oz. spinnerbait. It’s a great configuration when you want the spinnerbait to run a little deeper but still want a fast retrieve. The slender willows provide a lot of flash without a lot of resistance which can cause a spinnerbait to ride higher in the water column when retrieved at faster speed.
ACQUIRE TARGETS Fish the downstream ends of pools, ledge trenches and eddies. Big river smallmouth tend to congregate in these types On my local flows, shad and minnows are the most abundant of shallow “push waters” at the end of pools when water levels bass forage. White spinnerbait skirts made from materials that have been low and stable over several days or more. Crawfish have a shiny glimmer or translucency mimic the colorations of and baitfish seem to favor these areas in low flows so the smallthese baitfish types extremely well. If the bass on your river sys- mouth will hang close to their food sources. tem key on other forage like pumpkinseed or sunfish then you can stock up on skirts that have colors like blue, yellow, orange On cloudless sunny days, smallmouth will typically hug shade or chartreuse incorporated into them. producing structure in these “push water” locations so target long casts to chunk rock, boulders, wood or isolated weeds. A BATTLING BLADES kayak that you can easily stand and fish out of like the WilderGold or silver blades? Some days the fish want gold. Some days ness Systems ATAK can make all the difference in being able they will want silver. Some days they will hit both with equal to get a visual on targets. If you have cloud cover, smallmouth enthusiasm. In my experience it rarely makes a difference. will roam and feed more freely so you will want to fan cast the Other factors like retrieve speed, shape of the blades and size of same areas. blades seem to influence the bite more in clear water. BURN BABY BURN My favorite clear water blade shape is often referred to as the Keep the spinnerbait moving. Don’t let the bass get a good Olympic Blade. The blades are a strange hybrid between a Col- look at it. Burning the bait or using a faster cadence “stop and orado and a Willow. They seem to have just the right amount go” retrieve will yield crushing attacks leaving you with the of flash and thump to bring the big fish running from a diswreckage that WAS your spinnerbait! Experiment by running tance in the low, clear water of summer. My second choice your spinnerbait at various levels of the water column.
Start by burning the spinnerbait just under the surface. I like to burn the bait so fast that the blades periodically sputter on the surface as the spinnerbait sprints across the water. This specific retrieve has produced some of the biggest river smallmouth I’ve caught over the past two seasons under low, clear water conditions. If the “hyper” fast retrieve at the top of the water column isn’t producing, change up your tactic. Slow things down just a bit and start burning the spinnerbait in the middle of the water column. Keep the retrieve fast and if you can bang the bait off a few river boulders along the way that will often trigger a strike. You can also do very quick stop and go’s with your spinnerbait to create a trigger. Remember, keep it moving along. Don’t give them a good look at it. You’ll rarely need to scrape bottom with your spinnerbait in low clear water to get a strike but when all else fails, I’ll bump up to a ½ oz. spinnerbait and start contacting some submerged structure. The trick in all instances is that you want a faster retrieve. No slow rolling that will give the fish a chance to see the bait. You are looking to appeal to the smallmouths primal instinct to attack! BRING IT ON HOME Fishing spinnerbaits for skinny water smallmouth bass is very often just as intense and heart stopping as top water fishing. Often you’ll see the bronze blur of a smallmouth bass streaking toward your spinnerbait. At that moment it takes a kayak load of mental discipline to keep the retrieve going. You know if you change up at that moment the bass will likely break off the pursuit. The strikes are explosive often sending water cascading in several directions from the point of impact. Once you’ve hooked up the fight is on!
photo by Juan Veruete
KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
TRYING NEW WATER IN
MINN BY GRANT CARSTON
photo by James Snyder If you have the privilege to kayak fish in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, picking one could be a challenge. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources there are officially 11,842 lakes. So how do I decide where to catch the next lunker largemouth? More importantly, how do I catch them when I decide? These questions trouble most kayak anglers that are hesitant to expand to new bodies of water. There are plenty of online resources to aid in the process. Start with satellite images and look for eye catching lake features. Weed lines, lily pads, lay downs, sand points and floating bogs are the main things to look for. Once you find a lake then go one step further. Look for fish surveys that are generally conducted by the department of natural resources. This will give a brief explanation of the fish population and management practices. Now you’ve found your next adventure and your ready to pack. Generally speaking, most northern glacier lakes will hold a population of bass in shallow cover year round. Some of the best fishing can be found going shallow in cover. Picking the right lures is not as difficult as one would think. The skirted jig is a staple nationwide and works well in the majority of northern lakes. Jigs are a versatile weapon in a bass fisherman’s arsenal. You can pair them with many soft plastic baits to change its action and drop speed. Craw and creature baits are great trailers for flipping and pitching to targets. Through on a paddle tail minnow or shad and rip it over submerged weeds. My favorite jigs and trailers are from Power Team Lures. There selection of colors is amazing and the quality of the plastic makes them last much longer. Having good plastic trailers means more time in the water and less time monkeying around with shredded baits. Fluorocarbon 15 to 20 pound on a medium to medium heavy action rod. Flipping sticks are most commonly used however I like a little more action in my tip when running a swim jig. Water temperature affects when we can start flipping to cover. You’re going to want around 60° or more before you start flip-
ping shallow structure. This makes summer months prime time when fishing new lakes. When the water temperature is lower, fish still haven’t moved to these shallow cover locations. They are still going to be staged in deeper water awaiting the time to come up and spawn. Here in MN bass season is closed the majority of spring and water temps are good by the time it opens in May. Many of Minnesota fish species have a closed season to allow a spawning period for the health and maintenance of the fish population. Early in the morning when the fog lingers over the calm quite water, I bring out the top water baits. Some of the best fishing I’ve had here in Minnesota has been on fast moving top water frogs. These baits allow you to cover water fast for active bass looking for unsuspecting prey. This is a great search tool you need to have in your bag of tricks. The soft plastic paddle tail frog is a very versatile bait for covering any type of cover, even in open water. Simply cast out and bring back on a slow steady retrieve. Stopping it on top of pads then popping off can trigger a bass to strike. Like all top water baits it’s important to wait on setting the hook. I like to say out loud “There he is!” then send it home. That generally allows enough time for them to take the lure down before you set the hook. Picking a new body of water and choosing where to start fishing should be enjoyed not feared. Kayak fishing allows us to go back to lots of prime shallow pockets that don’t see pressure. These pockets could be your new honey hole but you won’t know till you try it! So pull up satellite image and start searching the lakes. Find those key features and back pockets and plan a trip this summer. It could be a day or weekend trip but get excited not worried. Pick up some lures to try if you haven’t already. Even calling the local bait store and ask them how the bass fishing is on the local lakes can yield some good techniques or baits to try.. Just doing these simple things will help put more bass on the end of your line and more knowledge of the fish you pursue!
BY DREW HAERER photo by Drew Haerer
Let’s face it, there is no better bite than a topwater bite. Nothing beats the thrill of seeing a bass explode out of the water with your bait. Many anglers resign the topwater bite to very specific conditions, but paying attention to detail can produce full days of topwater action throughout the late spring and summer. Learn when, where, and how to approach a topwater bite and you may never throw a subsurface lure again.
rent or cover. A moderate wind is often key, because too much wind can make a topwater bait nearly impossible to detect, but too little, and bass can get too good a luck at your bait, causing them to become disinterested. If a day gets overly sunny, I’ll fish thick vegetation, shade, or stained water.
One key to throwing topwaters is having the right gear. When fishing open water, I use a 6’9” Topwater/Jerkbait rod from In June, bass are still in a spawning phase in many northern Carolina Custom Rods. The rod has a particularly short hanstates. When fish begin spawning, they go on the defensive. dle, which makes working walking baits much easier and erOften, a leery bedder will stare down a floating bait and either gonomic. I pair it with an Abu Garcia Revo STX with a 7.1:1 swipe at it or crush it. If they swipe at it, they’ve revealed their ratio, spooled with 30 lb braided line. When fishing heavy location and shown that they are aggressive, so you can focus cover, I use a 7’9”, heavy, moderate fast action rod, paired with on catching them with a subsurface bait. Remember that most an Abu Garcia Revo Premier HS, which also uses braid. bass bed in shallow water, where they are more likely to hit a topwater. Deeper bedders typically pay little attention to surHowever, I have a spare spool, which is rigged with 15 lb face lures. monofilament line. I use the braid when fishing walking baits because it doesn’t stretch, allowing me to get better hooksets on Fish topwater offerings slowly during the spawn, sometimes long casts. I also use braid when fishing vegetation, because it letting them sit for 30 seconds or more, or reeling at painfully cuts through most types of grass or pads. I switch to mono for slow speeds. I prefer to use baits with big profiles during the poppers, propbaits, and shorter, target oriented casts, because spawn, including the ½ oz Premier League Lures Double Buzz mono has some stretch, which helps absorb vicious strikes and buzzbait, hollow body frogs, and the LC Sammy 100 or 128. casts very accurately. I’ll also use bluegill imitators as panfish begin hovering around bass beds and eventually spawning. These baits are typically When it comes to topwater colors, I keep it simple and almost poppers and spitters cast to shallow targets. always throw either black or white. I let the fish dictate the color they prefer, which can vary based on weather conditions During the post-spawn, I will throw a variety of topwaters in and water clarity. Occassionally, I will switch to a more natural transition zones as bass move out of spawning areas. I typishad or bluegill pattern, or use a bait with some chartreuse to cally throw walking baits, like the Lucky Craft Gunfish, along give it some added pop. points, channel edges, and drops. I will then use buzzbaits and poppers to fish around wood, docks, or rocks, and frogs to fish Topwater fishing can provide the ultimate angling rush. Use heavy vegetation. Post-spawn patterns often hold throughout these tips to build your confidence in surface baits. It just the entire summer, so paying attention to detail can pay off for might help you catch a better quantity and quality of bass. months to come. Drew is a North East/New England correspondent for Kayak Bass As summer progresses, the topwater bite may only occur earFishing Magazine, runs the website Man Powered Fishing and ly or late on some days. Therefore, I try to fish on days with has a variety of pro-staff affiliations, including Wilderness Systems, moderate wind and plenty of clouds, and target areas with cur- Bending Branches, and Carolina Custom Rods. KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
WAVE RACER photo by Mark Cisneros
FOND SUMMER MEMORIES ON
THE RIVER BY CAMERON SIMOT photo by Mike Noon
One of my fondest summertime memories was a day fishing a tournament away from home with a buddy of mine. It was a River Bassin’ tournament stop in Saline, Michigan, over 150 miles from home. This is an area I had never been to, let alone fished. I put faith in my buddy to pick a spot that had big bass, and he did, exceeding my expectations by far for this trip. We arrived at the launching area, which consisted of many stairs, a small beach, and a parking area hundreds of yards away. Being able to carry the kayaks down these stairs reduced our paddling time by over an hour, one of the biggest advantages to kayak fishing. Once the sun broke over the horizon we slowly started drifting downriver casting along the banks. About 15 minutes into the trip I was hopping my jig up against a rocky edge of the river, when I felt the tell-tale sign of a bite, tick tick, drop the rod, and pulled back with a big hookset. After a quick fight, a few jumps, the fish was in the net, a chunky 18” largemouth. I notice my jig way all the way down in its mouth, a good indication I am throwing the right bait. We continue working the shoreline, and about 30 minutes later I feel the line jump again, drop the rod, set the hook, and I feel a huge weight on the other end of my line. Another quick fight and the bucketmouth is in the net. This fish trumps the last 18” by 2.5”, and tops my personal best largemouth by over and inch. This fish was hiding in the shade of a boat hoist, while the morning sun beats down on this portion of the river. We keep fishing, both landing a couple more fish, but smaller. We spend a lot of time fishing unproductive water and finally decide to head back to the area we started at. I know I have two solid fish and a smaller one; in a three fish tournament. One more decent fish will give me a good chance at winning this tournament. As we get back to where we started I go about an hour with no bites. Then, as I’m lifting my jig up, a fish grabs it, I quickly start reeling. As I’m reeling this fish in from the shade I can
tell it’s big. Bigger than my other two. This fight seems to go in slow motion, knowing I never set the hook. I work tediously to get the fish out of some weeds and into the net. A huge smallmouth. This fish measures 20.75”, and is a personal best smallmouth. Now I have my three fish, and I’m pretty happy, this has to be the biggest bag out of all the other competitors. We fish for a couple more hours with a few more small fish. We get back to the area we launched and load everything up, turn the GPS on and the estimated arrival time is 10 minutes after the weigh-in time. We figure if we go “a few” miles per hour over, we should be able to make it back in time with no penalty. About 15 minutes into the drive, we come into some traffic, there’s a train going through and we have to make a quick decision; wait it out (not knowing how much longer it could be), or try to go around. Go around, easy decision for us. We are surprised to cross the tracks farther down, and we can see the train coming a ways down the tracks. Close call. We are still a good amount of time behind schedule, but we still can make it. There is a penalty for being 1-14 minutes late, but you are disqualified at 15 minutes late to the weighin. We drive fast through the rush hour traffic and frequently check the GPS hoping to save very minute we can, in order to make it back before the disqualification deadline. We pull into Kayak Corral with two minutes to spare. Now it’s time to see the results. I know no matter the results of the tournament I’ll be happy with this day fishing because of my personal best largemouth, and smallmouth. The results come through, despite my point deductions I was able to take first in individual, big bass, and we got first place team as well. It was a great day of fishing, with beautiful weather, big fish, and great people. KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
BASS BY THOMAS PHILIPPI
photo by Ryan Lambert I have a complaint to file with all of the bass I have encountered lately...get smarter! Get an education! Start watching the World Fishing Network! Know what lures you are supposed to hit! Ugh...stupid bass! I have put in my time. I have watched all of the TV pros and I can recite what lure and color bass prefer in what conditions. I pay attention to wind, temperature, barometric pressure, water color, season of the year, moon phase, water ph, habitat, available forage, solar flares, time of day, water depth, as well as several other factors that I can’t think of without being hypnotized right before I venture out on the water. I’ve bought and thrown all of the new fangled lures that are endorsed by the pros and sold in places like Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Dick’s and online at Tackle Warehouse. I’ve gone to local tackle shops and follow the advice about local lake preferences and nuances. I’ve pored over Youtube videos looking for small details others may miss.
Let’s talk about worms. I have every color, size, shape, color and scent known to man. I can Texas-rig, wacky rig, drop shot, shaky head or Carolina rig them all. Frogs...boy, do I have FROGS! Soft bodied, both walking and spitting, diving frogs and toads. I also have waking crankbaits, square billed crankbaits, shallow, medium, deep-diving and lipless crankbaits...I have several in just about every color. I have a few swimbaits that would intimidate a great white shark, they are so big! I’ll need to start pulling a second kayak just to stow my lures! I use so many scents that my kayak smells like a garlic, coffee, anise, crawfish, bloodworm, shad, frog salad...not a pleasant odor when skunk is added!
I’ve done my homework, particularly over this past winter. I am prepared and ready to catch bass. Now the bass need to uphold their end of this deal. Get with the program ladies! Cooperate and bite my lures! I’m a pretty nice guy and I will treat you with total respect. I’ll take a very flattering photo of I’ve read article after article covering topics such as line choice you, give you a kiss and send you back to bed. I’ll show everyfor every situation. I can tell a swim jig from a football jig from one how beautiful you really are! You may even end up with a a arkie jig from a finesse jig. I even have a few hair jigs thrown photo in a magazine and become every angler’s envy. You just in for giggles. have to know what to hit girls...come and get some!
THE DAY I
BY CHRIS PAYNE photo by Ed Elefante
An afternoon of exploration and fishing near some tall bluffs to stay in the shade had produced a few fish but near three oâ€™clock, a loud, low booming sound filled the sky. I thought at first it was cannon fire from a local military base but as I listened again it became apparent this was a storm. With a zero percent chance of rain in the forecast that I had checked early in the week, I glanced upward. My eyes tried to quickly readjust to the change in light as the sky turned an angry charcoal. The wind quickly found its breath and started churning the water around me. My small kayak jostled as waves pounded the port side. Ahead I could see a small gravel bar and an overhang in the bluff wall. I leaned into my stroke and powered ahead toward them. The sky released her hold on the rain and a torrential shower commenced. With each stroke waves pounded me, rain blistered my face and water collected in the cockpit. I paddled hard but had lost ground. I paddled the opposite direction, hoping the wind would help. Just trying to turn the kayak was a chore as the water neared the top of my lap. Would I stand a better chance swimming for it? I had my life jacket on but the waves? What felt like an eternity, most likely a few seconds, passed and I decided to get into the water. I tried to tow the kayak while swimming to a small shelf I could see. Holding to the kayak handle the wind blew my plans away. Before I could touch the bottom I had been blown 200 yards from my original position. I had held on for my life. Feet finally touching down, I made my way to a new bank with a more gradual slope. You can make it. You can make it! A little bit further. I could hear the words urging me.
I stumbled onto the gravel and summoned the last bit of strength to flip the kayak so it would drain. I sat exhausted in the pouring rain. The rain tasted salty. It was only then I realized why. Scared, shaken and alone, I was crying. As I sat and started to calm, the dead, flood-worn trees of this embankment creaked and moaned in the wind as I heard the most haunting sounds I have ever heard in my life. The constant booming of thunder followed by a static crackle in the air made my nerves race. I had very little fight left in me at this point but I was glad to be alive. The echoing booms of thunder and sprays of lightning filled the sky getting louder and brighter each second. I contemplated the possibility my allotted time had run out. It was time to fight for my life. I surveyed the landscape and discovered a small rock ledge that was as far away from the trees as possible. Wedging myself as deep under the ledge as I could get, I held my knees and my breath. With an explosion and searing bright light a tree fell to its final resting place less than five yards away from my ledge. The ringing of my ears blocked out the thunder and I closed my eyes. If it was going to be today, I didnâ€™t want to see it coming. As the ringing subsided a few minutes later I realized the storm was gone. Small rays of sunshine painted the now calming water with rays. Today was not my day to go. A distant cloud appeared on the horizon which served as enough warning to avoid tempting fate again. Paddling under mostly adrenaline power I found my way to the takeout and headed home a changed man. A lucky man. KAYAK BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
BASS FISHING MAGAZINE GOING HUGE FOR
FALL +WINTER 2015
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
KBF OPEN ON TOLEDO BEND FALL FINESSE TIPS
REGIONAL FISHING RECON
OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE