BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
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DEATH OF DIY WHY PVC KINGS ARE BECOMING FEWER AND HARDER TO FIND
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VIDEO: PROPERLY STORING FISH
KAYAK FALL 2016 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 3
2016 Viking Kayak Profish Reload Length: 14.8’ Width: 29” Weight: 67 lbs Available In: Lava (Shown) Wasp (Yellow & Black) Sandstorm (Sand & Black) Custom colors available
WHEN THE FISH ARE
FARTHER FASTER AND YOU NEED TO GET THERE
NEW FEATURES INSIDE The Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine team has added some cool, new, interactive features in this edition. On pictures, quotes, and other material throughout the magazine, you will notice the three symbols below. These symbols will allow you to see videos, read additional reviews, and even link to websites which will allow you to purchase certain items. In the example here of the Yeti Hopper Flip 12, the symbols below the picture indicate a read more link, a video link, and a purchase link.
Contents GEAR TALK 10 BUMP BOARD BLUES 12 UGLY TRUTH 18 BIG BAIT BITES 20 BAIT SPOTLIGHT 32 DEATH OF DIY 34 THREE MISTAKES 42 CLEAN 46 WHITEWATER CONVERT 50 FOUR FLIES 56 SHENANIGANS 60 BOURBON AND FLIES 66 SWIFT CREEK GOLD 70 FOUR TOURNEY STYLES 73 HIS AND HERS 84 THATâ€™S LIFE 88 FLY RECIPE 98 READER PICS 102
STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: CHRIS PAYNE ASSIGNMENTS EDITOR: RYAN “PADILLAC” JONES FLY FISHING EDITOR: TODD WEST ART DIRECTOR: CHRIS PAYNE PHOTO LEAD: MARK CISNEROS COVER PHOTO: MICHAEL ERNST COVER ANGLER: BRADLEY BOWERS STAFF PAGE PHOTO: ANGLER DERIC MILLER PHOTO BY MIKE WHITACRE CONTRIBUTORS: ALAN WIEDMEYER CODY CARPENTER ERIC ALLEE MATT BOGLE JOSH SWANEY DANIEL REACH COREY STANSIFER ANDY MIDDLETON EVAN HOWARD DREW ROSS BOURBON BOB STEWART VENABLE HENRY VEGGIAN BETH RAPP STEVIE NICOLE JONES BRANDON BAILES CHRIS FUNK SPECIAL THANKS: JOSEPH SANDERSON
ANGLER JONATHAN ALJETS PHOTO BY JOSEPH SANDERSON
GEAR I DIDN’T
THINK I NEEDED UNTIL I USED IT. The Howler Brothers Arroyo Tech Shirt surprised me. Is it possible there is a big difference between a $50 fishing shirt and an $85 one? I may have lost some of you there but hold tight for a couple of paragraphs. For the last five years I’ve used, almost exclusively, Columbia fishing shirts. I like them but they often delaminate logos, fray easy, and don’t breathe as easily as they say. I didn’t expect the Howler Arroyo to be much different. But just like in my marriage every other day, I was wrong again. This wasn’t another itchy fishing shirt full of claims and leaky handed on results. The Arroyo kept me cool over the eight hour test excursion in 95 degree heat, and I didn’t sweat through it. It dried out that quick. It may take a while due to the initial i nvestment, but I feel a switch coming on.
REVIEWS COMING SOON:
BLUES WORDS AND PHOTO BY ALAN WIEDMEYER KBFMAG FALL 2016
re you constantly losing fish off of your bump board? Did that big fish cost you 1st place in your tournament? Is your new phone now sitting at the bottom of the lake? Do your friends laugh and mock you about that monster bass that got away that you have no proof of?
Let’s start with the most important item that will ensure a greater chance of success… having a game plan and practicing it often! I see many new anglers going into a tournament that have never measured a fish on a bump board from the kayak.
Trust me when I say it’s not as easy as it looks when dealing with multiple things in a confined working space. Have a game plan of Well…even though these are questions you would probably hear on an infomercial, I have what equipment you need and have it all withto apologize in advance that there is no magical in arm’s reach. Being prepared like this will not only speed things up and make things easproduct or absolute solution to the questions ier, but will give every fish a greater chance of above. Kayak fishing is a sometimes trivisurvival. al thing when it comes to verifying your fish catches and is just a part of the nature of the At the very least when taking a bump board beast. However, I hope to give you all some picture you’ll need your bump board and a tips and tricks to keep your catches on the bump board long enough to snap a picture! camera. However in a tournament situation
and for the sake of keeping the fish healthy I the extra variablesâ€Śwind, sunlight, camera would recommend that you have your identifi- angle and adjustments to name a few. er nearby along with a net and/or fish grips. When you are taking pictures always be aware Once the fish is in the boat, remove any hooks of your surroundings. Wind can play havoc or lures immediately and get the fish back into with your boat position so I would recommend the water whether the fish is attached to fish anchoring or beaching while taking your picgrips or sitting in your net off the side of the ture. Wind also can blow your identifier out kayak. Get your bump board out with your of position or out of the boat so plan on being identifier and ensure that you are laying it on a able to attach it to your bump board or hand. stable flat surface and preferably as low as you Sunlight can wash out a picture as well even can in your kayak. when the board measurement increments are darkened properly, so adjust your boat position Next, get the camera ready to the point where to avoid sun glare. all you have to do is point and shoot. Pull the fish out of the water, get it situated on the The last portion of adjusting your camera can bump board and snap a picture making sure to make or break you. Having a lens that isnâ€™t get multiple pictures just in case. Seems easy clean or not allowing the camera to focus can enough right? Now you have to deal with all cost you a tournament. Always, always, always
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keep the mouth closed against the upright of the bump board to keep it from opening up again. If you keep the fish low in the boat, The biggest struggle however that every angler preferably on the floor of your kayak, you dehas to deal with is uncooperative fish. Some of crease the chances of it escaping off of the side of the kayak. them are just plain mean when you get them in the boat and they don’t like taking selfies. On top of that every experience is unique with I have even seen some anglers place their net at the bottom of the kayak while resting their both large and small fish having their own bump board inside of it as an extra failsafe in quirks. Some tips to start would be wetting your bump board, covering the eye of the fish case the fish jumps. Always pay attention to the body language of the fish. If they tense up, and just staying calm. again put the camera down and get control of You’ll run into plenty of fish that right off the the fish or put them back in the water until they calm down. bat do not want to close their mouth or relax their tail. In this situation put the camera down in a safe area first and use both hands to The last item I want to touch on is fish mortality as well as avoiding potential damage to your maintain control of these features of the fish. It’s always good to apply enough pressure to equipment. There are many tips and tricks out ensure that you have at least two pictures of every fish and that the entire fish is in view.
there to avoid breaking your bump board or losing equipment in general overboard. Gluing wooden dowels to the back of your bump board will help re-inforce the thin plastic board and will allow it to float if lost overboard. Bump boards also come with two predrilled holes that allow you to attach it in some fashion to your kayak. In the case of your camera or phone, there are plenty of lanyard or waterproof devices to keep them on you at all times to prevent loss or damage. Again, be aware of your surround-
ings and always have important items secured and protected in some fashion. All of this prep work and the methodical process of taking a fish picture supports our catch, photo and release initiative as kayak anglers. Ultimately preventing as much disruption to our waterways and the fish we catch. If a fish picture takes you more than a minute or two to complete successfully, you need more practice and I urge you to get better at it. Let them go to grow and be caught again by the next angler. 2
KBFMAG FALL 2016
s kayak anglers we have a responsibility to the integrity of our sport, most of us feel a sense of responsibility to conservationism, some of us feel a responsibility to educate others, but few of us remember that we also have an obligation and responsibility to ourselves as well. Kayak fishing is one of the greatest multitasking sports in the world and it is very easy for us to get zoned in and solely focus on landing that big one. We are aware that there are inherent risks involved with kayak fishing, and PFD awareness has been a hot button topic in recent years, however skin protection has fallen by the wayside. Sun exposure is a year round risk factor that we all face and hyper vigilance can literally save your life. In order to truly understand how to better protect yourself, you need to understand the threat. Our sun produces two different types of UV rays, UVB and UVA. In an effort to avoid an Earth science lesson, I am going to briefly define and differentiate the two most common types of radiation. First we
have UVA radiation. UVA accounts for roughly 95% of all the suns radiation that reaches the Earths surface. Most commonly UVA is associated with sunspots, wrinkles, and other cosmetic damage that the sun can cause. UVB radiation is a different beast all together. UVB is responsible for sunburns, and more alarmingly, skin cancer, and is most prevalent between 10am and 4pm, from April to October.
Probably more alarming than anything else is the fact that up to 80% of UVB rays can rebound back off of reflective surfaces such as ice, snow, and water. As a kayak angler this especially startling because we are absorbing that reflective UVB radiation at 180 degrees almost all of the time. In the fall and winter months we have a tendency to be less vigilant in our protection because of cloudy days and cooler weather, ignoring that fact that clouds only block up to 20% of UV radiation and cooler temperatures have absolutely no effect on the amount of UV penetration. What can we do? The water is our sanctuary
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and we aren’t going to stop doing what we love. If we participate in this sport we have to take measures to stay safe, as we all do (or should do) with our PFD. Numerous great companies offer lightweight sun protective clothing, and most are specifically marketed to anglers.
resistance is a necessity in our sport and this one stays on longer than anything I’ve ever tried. As fishermen we are considered “at risk” for sun damage.
Not only are we spending long days in the sun but also absorbing all of that reflected sunlight. We’ve all see the shirts from companies like I implore you to start getting annual skin check Columbia, Magellan, Huk, and Aftco that offer by a dermatologist. Most exams take about ten performance shirts with a quality UPF rating. minutes and can literally save your life. I grew UPF is the measurement of UV rays penetrat- up like most Texans, outside all day with no ing a fabric, where as SPF means the UV rays shirt and never sunscreen. hit directly on the skin. Let me be clear, this type of clothing My first does make a differexperience ence. To put this with my in perspective lets doctor was compare a standard intimidatwhite cotton t-shirt ing and and the Terminal alarming Tackle shirt made to a degree, by Columbia. The but necesUPF rating for the sary. I had cotton shirt is about six spots 7 and the Columbia on my shirt is 50. These back and numbers should abdomen absolutely resonate biopsied with you considerand I made ing that we spend the deci8+ hours on the wasion then ter. In combination and there with proper clothto protect ing, sunscreen is a simple and highly effective myself at all times. Since then I have had yearpractice for exposure protection. Briefly, we ly checks and no new suspicious spots have need to understand what SPF means. It stands been discovered. There is no doubt we are infor Sun Protection Factor or how much of the volved with the best sport on the planet but suns UV makes contact with your skin. it’s not without risks. Take the few extra steps necessary to ensure your complete safety and Most dermatologists suggest reapplying sunencourage our brothers and sisters to do the screen about every two hours and utilizing same. I never hit the water without my PFD an SPF of at least 30. My recommendation is and a bottle of sunscreen, and I will continue Bullfrog Watersport InstaCool SPF 50. Water to offer it up to anyone that needs it. 2
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH
MY DOCTOR WAS
BITE WORDS AND PHOTOS BY
ERIC ALLEE KBFMAG FALL 2016
hen anglers first think about throwing swimbaits in their kayak fishing arsenal it can be intimidating. From the outside looking in you’ll see beefier rods and reels, baits with ridiculous price tags, and an online community of snarky anglers ready to drop sarcastic memes in a heartbeat! Once you dive in a bit you’ll see much like anything fishing related you can buy an entry level rod and reel set up that isn’t going to take an entire paycheck to get started, baits come at varying pricepoints including some baits under 10 bucks, and those same sarcastic snarky anglers on swimbait forums and Facebook groups will bend over backwards to help you with your own swimbait fishing quest… if you have thick enough skin to stick around. The biggest reason I was so amped to start kayak fishing was the prospect of throwing swimbaits to bass that haven’t seen a swimbait yet. As kayak anglers we can fish anywhere a big boat can but we can also fish smaller bodies of water without boat ramps, electric only lakes, neighborhood ponds, farm ponds, etc… Think about where you live now I bet most of you can name at least a handful of smaller bodies of water that routinely kick out decent sized bass.
Now imagine what you think to be the biggest bass in each of those bodies of water. In my opinion the best way to target these big girls is throwing swimbaits from a kayak. One of the biggest adaptations anglers need to make when fishing swimbaits is to get rid of the traditional bass fishing mentality. Whenever I’m jig fishing and pull up to a dock I know I’ll cast my arm off working that dock in its entirety. I’ll pitch to each side of the pillars holding the dock up, I’ll skip under the dock every spot I can, etc… basically making sure I fish the dock as thoroughly as possible. History has told me over and over again if I work a dock like this it’ll result in catching lots of fish. I’ve caught tons of 12-15 inch fish this way and enough over 20 to keep it interesting. This mentality of working every inch of a piece of cover or structure doesn’t work with swimbait fishing. Actually it can be counterproductive to catching the one fish you’re actually throwing that swimbait for. When you’re throwing a swimbaits each and every cast should be calculated. One of my biggest suggestions to anglers new to fishing swimbaits from a kayak is to do some recon first. Get out in your yak with your polarized glasses on, a pen and notebook handy, and spend a few hours observing how bass
relate to everything. Another huge benefit of fishing out of a kayak is we can glide into spots and go somewhat unnoticed. Notice which side of a bridge pillar bass load up on, which side of the log did that big girl spook out from under, when bigger bass came into an area where did they appear to come from, etcâ€Ś Each and every small detail is vital in successfully fishing swimbaits.
bully their way into the best ambush points and rely on their surroundings to make them extremely efficient hunters. Smaller bass chase, big bass pin.
As bass get bigger they turn into more efficient hunters utilizing not only the best hiding spots on a body of water, but also using structure to keep prey from fleeing. Concrete walls, rip rap dams, steep drop offs, and bottlenecks are all great areas for bass to pin their food. A real life From my experience big bass (a relative term: Here in Colorado a 5lb largemouth or smallie comparison would be when you were younger is considered big) behave quite a bit different- and your little brother did something goofy ly than their smaller counterparts. Bigger bass that warranted a noogie. If they ran into an open area of the yard all bets are off as to if you seem to instinctively know they canâ€™t win the game of life by expanding huge amounts of en- were going to catch them. Youâ€™d walk around ergy for smaller portions of protein in return. It the yard until they made that vital mistake of takes less energy for a smaller fish to move thir- getting to close to the fence and BAM! ty feet than it does a five-six pounder. Like that you they had nowhere to go and you pinned them. Bass feed around these areas the While smaller bass can rely on longer bursts of speed and covering lots of water bigger bass same way. If your bait is too far away from the
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pin point the bass will keep an eye on your bait for a cast or two before deciding something is off. Conversely if you put that bait right up against structure albeit rip rap, concrete wall, drop off it’s like your little brother standing against a fence a foot in front of you calling you a buttface. In both situations an attack is eminent. I’m almost a thousand words in and still haven’t mentioned a single bait… why is that? Swimbaits aren’t a cure-all for your big bass blues. Purchasing a Hudd 68 and blindly chucking it all over the lake isn’t going to help you see bass tails extend well past the twenty inch mark on your HAWG Trough. However that same Hudd 68 with slowly swimming alongside rip rap, past an ambush point, or alongside a concrete wall will get crushed. Knowledge, observation, and on the water experience will help you catch more fish on swimbaits than any one particular bait.
baits but for this first article let’s keep it simple. Once you have a depth you want to key in on and a color pattern it’s time to go shopping. For instance let’s say your plan of attack is to imitate rainbow trout and through studying and observing your game plan is to cast a swimbait parallel to a rip rap dam in 3 feet of water. I’ll suggest three different baits here in three different price points that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. First suggestion would be a line through style soft bait that’s been proven all across the country. A small 6.75 inch top hook Rising Son in any one of their three trout patterns. The color patterns on the son aren’t as dead on perfect as some other companies out there, but the fact is Rising Son’s flat out catch fish and come in at a price point under 20 bucks. My second suggestion here would be a Hudd 68 ROF5 (rate of fall) in rainbow trout. The rainbow trout color pattern on the Huddleston Deluxe baits is dead on, and like the Rising Son these baits have been proven all across the country. The Hudd 68 is going to jump up in price just a bit and come in around the 25 dollar price point.
“MY SECOND SUGGESTION WOULD BE A HUDD 68...”
When choosing your first swimbait there’s a few things to consider. First what’s the forage base of the bodies of water you’ll be fishing? Bluegill, juvenile bass, shad, crappie, etc… From there with what we talked about above how deep will you need your swimbait to be in the zone. When I say the zone I mean the areas we talked about above ambush points and pin points. There are more areas to throw swim23
Another option in this scenario would be using the Savage Gear 3D Real Trout slow sinking in light or dark trout. Although the Savage Gear 3D Real Trout doesn’t thump like the Rising Son or Hudd 68 it still catches fish and comes
in at a great price point! The smaller 5-7 inch baits are under 10 dollars and the 8 inch models are under 15 dollars. Another option in this scenario would be a 7 inch MS Slammer in light or dark rainbow. When reeled in slowly the MS Slammer will create a killer wake on top of the water inciting some of the most explosive strikes you’ll ever witness. You can also crank the Slammer faster to get it to dive a bit for some subsurface action. The 7 inch MS Slammer is a bit more expensive in the 50 dollar price range but it’s worth every penny.
a year. Concentrate the first year on learning big bass behavior and learning in depth how each of a few baits work opposed to buying 25 baits and feverishly switching while out on the water thinking sooner or later you’ll find a magic bait. Another reason I feel like this is great advice is buying swimbaits is flat out addicting. I know anglers with three thousand bucks worth of baits that have only caught a handful of fish on swimbaits.
Like I mentioned before there is no magic swimbait that will be your big bass dream cureThe 3:16 Rising Son, Hudd 68, and MS Slam- all. A swimbait blindly thrown just to cover mer are all tried and true big bass tested baits. water in my opinion is not only a huge waste of time it’s also a waste of money, BUT a swimStaples in most serious swimbait arsenals and bait casted in areas it should be will change for good reason all three baits flat out catch fish. The three baits combined allow anglers to your life. You’ll see how extremely explosive and savage both smallmouth and largemouth fish most areas of the water column. One of bass can be when they’re out to kill a large the best bits of advice I was given was to buy three swimbaits and fish them hard for at least meal. KBFMAG FALL 2016
I’ll be quick and to the point when it comes to rod and reel selection to start fishing swimbaits. Don’t go out and buy a full blown custom rod and a five hundred dollar reel to start fishing swimbaits. There’s quite a few entry level rods under the one hundred and fifty dollar mark and some great reels under the two hundred dollar mark. Basically par for the course when you’re talking about mid-grade bass gear.
There are differing opinions when it comes to line type and line strength. Without writing another couple pages on line I’ll give you my opinion. I’ll throw most of my baits on 20lb Fluoro but I do have a set up rigged with 20 pound mono for my wakebaits. Here recently I’ve been using the Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon with great results.
Combining a kayaks ability to fish areas inacThere are cheaper options and if you scour the cessible to other anglers with the big fish poswimbait forums and Facebook groups you can tential of fishing swimbaits is a perfect match find a used set up for much cheaper. When it for trophy seeking kayak bass anglers. If you comes to buying from individuals online pro- spend some time studying there’s no reason ceed at your own risk. An Okuma Guide Select you can’t be successful on your first swimbait paired with a Lews SuperDuty is a solid set up outing in your kayak. Plan each and every cast that will serve you well for years. and visualize putting your bait in the zone to get pinned or ambushed! 2 When it comes to line to throw swimbaits everyone seems to have a different opinion.
MTI Kayak Fishing Range: Four foam models, Two Highbacks, One Manual Inflatable More choice for more fish. #kayakfishing For 2016 Catalog www.mtiadventurewear.com
We didn’t INVENT life jackets for kayak FISHING, it just seems like it.
JAY WALLEN SETS THE HOOK DURING THE 2016 HOBIE OPEN
PHOTO BY PAUL LEBOWITZ
GET LIT GET BIT
SPOTLIGHT from Matt Bogle
Line Out Custom Tackle Owners: Robert Weiker and Erika Jenkins Robert started painting crankbaits after he bought a few and Erika said maybe you should try painting your own. He sold his first crankbait online on August 6 2014 and now after 3000 baits she was right. He started out watching YouTube videos and asking questions to other painters online about technique and where to find blanks to paint. He suggests if you are interested to start with water base paints and find the pattern/design you like, that way you can wash it off if it doesnâ€™t work. Also a quality air brush is money well spent vs several cheap brushes. Robert and Erika live in Cookeville TN. I have several of his first baits and the quality of them remains the same. His attention to detail and of fit and finish are what really set him apart from other painters. His favorite baits to paint are the Bucca shad and larger bodied baits because they allow more effect and detail. They also sponsor several Middle Tennessee kayak fishing groups giving away baits as prizes. 2 33
ea, it’s not nearly as drastic as all of that, but I do remember a time that if you found a problem with your fishing setup, an answer was only a simple question on your local forum away. Facebook has forever changed how we, as a community, see the rest of the world around us. And then you add in Instagram and a plethora of other social networks and the forums of old are all but nonexistent.
MY PERSONAL BACKGROUND In my personal beginnings with kayak fishing, I found a local forum, a state wide forum, but was easily separated by areas and species. In general, most all the people on the forum knew who everyone else was, or at least from your profile, knew where and what you fished most often. We took the time to know our audience. If we had pertinent information to your inquiry, we spoke up and shared our experiences. This is just the way things were done. It was a smaller audience, less of a knowledge base, but great info none the less. Ego, for the most part, was checked at the door. People would give a newcomer the benefit of the doubt, and explain why there might be a little better way of accomplishing their goal, or even another way to handle their problem. I started, like most, very simple.... a 10’ sit inside kayak, with no rod holders, and no real storage of any kind. My first thoughts were only of rods, reels, and small tackle storage. I came from the world of boats, where everything was there with you, all the time. Soon, a couple rods and a single box for lures and terminal tackle was not enough. So like most, I turned to the forums for advice. First was a set of drop in rod
“I STARTED, LIKE MOST, VERY SIMPLE...”
holders, trip to the local outfitter, and couple holes later, I had what looked like a factory job and a place for two rods. But, soon after, two rods didn’t seem like enough. It was at this point that I entered the world of PVC. I was told on the forums that 1.25” PVC pipe would fit the rod holders perfectly, add in a few fittings and I had holders for 4 rods. I was set with 4 rods, and couldn’t have been happier.
to buy products to make kayak fishing more convenient, but I still stick to my rule... I will always make sure it’s not something I can do myself first. Four years ago, I got my second kayak, a Commander 140. This was a big step up for me, and an absolute blank canvas. This was not an angler addition, but I could already see the things I would need to do to it. Part of the joy Thru some online research, I had already figof a new kayak is ured what it would cost me to add two more in the rigging, and bolt on rod holders to go with the drop in type I’ve literally heard I had.... and I think I saved some money with that said 100’s of the PVC. Now I know what some people are times from a LOT saying, “Maybe the PVC was the best way to of people. But, my go on your little 10’ sink, but not on my top first thought is not tier fishing kayak”... well, just to let you know, to get out the catathe idea of the tube to tube PVC with tee con- log, or jump on the nections as the holders came from a guy that web. I’m still really good friends with, he had the same setup on his PA14. “No need for flush mounts on this one, Tackle storage was not as easy of a fix. As most just add holders to know, the smaller (read cheaper) entry level a crate. Gonna have kayaks don’t have a lot of room. A very small to find a bigger little hatch, if you want to call it that, on the crate, or that giant stern... and a couple bungees on the bow. My tank well will just solution was not pretty, it consisted of an old go to waste. Need short 2 liter coke crate strapped under the front some way to lay bungees with 3 3600 Plano’s and 2 smaller rods down flat on boxes of terminal tackle. Once I used the setup the front.” Those a few times, I stopped there with the tackle. It were just a few of was a PITA to get anything out of the crate, the thoughts I had at first glance. The Comand I would still end up with tackle in my lap mander has been an ongoing process since that every day. day, but more than a few things that were done in the first few weeks remain the same to this Other things would be added here and there, day. There are two things on the Commander couple pad eyes to secure a paddle leash, dry that were bought from a kayak specific dealer, box lashed to the inside nose of the kayak, but everything else was either things I had laying I always stuck to, if I can build it myself, then around the shop, or from the local hardware why buy it. There will always be things you store. just can’t do, and now we have so many outlets KBFMAG FALL 2016
NECESSITY VS. THE BEST Tinkerers, yea, I come from a long line. From building cars, to repairing and refinishing guns., I have always had time to try and figure out the easiest and cheapest ways to do something. Just like in cars, you have to weigh out what you can skimp on and what you can’t. It is extremely more complicated in kayaks. There are some things that are simple, say a rod holder attached to a crate. Virtually every store that sells any kind of fishing accessories now has the 3 in 1 bolt on rod tubes that can be attached to any flat surface for around $10-15, but you can buy 5’ of ABS tubing at Lowes for the same money. And as I like to have my rods attached to my crate at different angles, the ABS was more to my liking. The same can be said for the crate itself. We now have many options when it comes to a crate, the standard milk crate is becoming less and less the product of choice for many.
with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I go to work to make money, and the same applies to companies that produce products for kayak fishing. Example: The industry standard crate now leaves about 2/3 of the tank well on a 140 Commander unused. That space is something I would like to use, and at the very least, would like to have covered by the standard crate’s lid. To me, for my specific purposes, another crate was a better investment. It took a while looking around to find the best crate for my kayak, and also took some work to mount rod holders and a lid. All this was done out of necessity, and I do think I have the best crate for my particular setup, but have been told numerous times that I should have went with the best, a manufactured crate, because it looks better, and is built better. I know that not everyone that reads this is a handyman, a mechanic, or a carpenter. Some people would rather just buy a product, than to spend time and money building their own. That is why I’m glad there are companies out there that are making life easier for these such people. When I see it as a problem is when some people look down on someone for PVC, or ABS, or wood or whatever they used to get the job done. When add-on’s become a status symbol, things are not going the way they should. We used to have a saying, “A $5000 paint job won’t win races”, but it will win car shows. So I guess people out there will have to decide if they want a kayak that will “Show or Go”.
THE MARKET EXPANSION
As with any market, manufactures see a need, How many times, when you asked a question or just a product that will make things easier about adding things to your kayak, did people for people, and they find a way to make money suggest not to mount it permanently until you 37
used it a time or two? I was told over and over that very thing about rod holders, sonar, and many other things. It’s great advice! I consider that a type of prototyping. We learn things about our way of fishing by doing. So placing an item in one place, then trying it out on the water, is really the only way you going to know if it will work, or be totally in the way. A lot of kayak manufactures have helped this problem with having non-permanent mounting options. track systems. These bells and whistles to two things, allows us to slide, move, and remove items without having to drill holes in the
kayak. The other thing it does, Raises the prices significantly. At one time, I can remember people going out and buying track material, it’s really always been there.The first time I saw someone say in a forum, “Bimini Top Track” it was like somebody turned on a light. I never tried it, as with my little sink, saw no use for it. But not too long after that,tracks were being added as standard equipment on many kayaks. The market has some great innovators when it comes to accessories, but the greatest innovators were the people that came before the big boom of kayak fishing. The people who were just making things to fit them, and if it could help someone else out, they would share their projects. The market quickly saw some of these projects and saw a way to help their companies earn a new customer base. So now you can order a full anchor trolley kit online, for what it used to cost to buy two good Harken Sailing pulleys. And there are a couple companies that are so fully involved with the kayak community, they are not satisfied just building and selling the normal every day products, but are continually making improvements on the standard equipment. Many items built by the individual are not a “marketable” item, for example... the larger crate that fits in the tank well on a Commander 140. I know several people that own a Commander, and several have asked me where to find a larger crate, but the majority of people don’t think it’s worth the time to
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search for one and are happy with the standard size crate. Therefore, the “market” for producing such a product is not there. And that is understandable, a company has to weigh the possible profit and loss of product that may not sell. But, that brings us back to the personal prototypes. That’s where I feel DIY is losing its footing. It seems that so many now are willing to settle for what they can buy, or that they fear being ridiculed because they don’t have the “best” products on their kayak. Everything that has ever been built came from an idea, and a prototype... and failure! I myself have has a few ideas on things for my kayak that laughably did not work. But some things do, and some things just fit me personally. Asking a manufacture to build it for me, just so I can say I have a product built by the “best” is kind of silly, and way out of my price range.
laying around, but be careful. Asking for advice on social media will get you as many, if not more, advertisements for brand name products than any advice from a hacksaw wielding handyman. It’s just the nature of the beast that we call “kayak fishing”. And for those that would rather buy than build, I would like to say again, there is nothing wrong with that. Some don’t have the skills, or the want to build something that they can buy. Some don’t mind changing the way they do things to suit their accessories, and yes, there are some that see it as “more professional” to use products build especially for the kayak “market”. Everything and everyone has their place, but please, use caution when speaking to others on the DIY subject. It is a two way street, and making fun of someone with a PVC rod holder is no different than making fun of a guy that spent 4 times more than me on a crate. 2
So, DIY is still alive and well, just more closeted these days. In the past, there were guys that were sought after for their experience, guys like “Tall Paul” (forum handle) that would if nothing else give the new guy some ideas of what could be done with basic household stuff. We had entire sections of forums dedicated to DIY and always were amazed at some of the things people would come up with. PVC, ABS, milk crates, tripod legs, and so many other materials and items were used to get things done. So, you don’t have the latest and greatest kayak that seems like it’s made for every product on the market, take a walk thru the shop, see what you got 39
ANGLER TYLER THIEDE OF WWW.SMALLCRAFTFISHERMAN.COM
Photo by Mitchell Iverson
KAYAK ANGLER MISTAKES BY DANIEL REACH
We have all been there. She’s in
the back of your truck, or on top of your car and you can’t wait to slime her. She’s exactly what you wanted; all the right assets, perfect curves, and just fast enough to make your mom a little nervous. (We’re talking about kayaks here…keep it clean!) But in our eagerness and enthusiasm, we often forget to slow down and focus on some of the more important considerations that not only make our trips more enjoyable, but also safer. Which is why I have put together a short list of some of the most common mistakes made in the kayaking hobby. KBFMAG FALL 2016
PRE-MATURE RIG-ELATION Short of pulling that big girl out of the pads on a top water frog, there are few things more gratifying than rigging your kayak. Even researching the endless options can be fun. Should I go with the gear tracks from Yak Attack, or the Lever Lock Anchor Trolley? And lighting – Will it be the full Yak Lights set up, or just the work lights.But amid all the rigging options is a common pit fall…Rigging too soon. I’ll give you a good example. When I moved from my first kayak, a Pelican Castaway 116 (we all start small) to my Jackson Coosa I added a Yak Attack Visi-Carbon Pro behind my right shoulder.
where I might want to put the light, I would have saved myself about 20 minutes of frustration and a few holes in my new flag. Whether you’re new to kayaking, or just brought home the newest model, you should always fish it a minimum of 3-4 times before adding anything. Be aware of things like paddle stroke, how far down the kayak can you comfortably reach, and what is easily within reach behind you. Low profile accessories like the T-reign from Yak Attack are great for those areas where taller ones would obstruct your paddle stroke.
Taller accessories, such as rod holders, should be mounted on the center console or behind you. It sounds basic, but I’ve seen more than one phone donated to the lake because the X-grip was mounted in the wrong place. Fish it Now, take one right handed angler, add an elevated seat, a pole with a flag on it, and a lure first – rig it second. with two treble hooks. Uh-huh! If I had fished my kayak first, specifically paying attention to DO YOURSELF A FAVOR -
FALL OUT OF THAT THING!
“[IT] WAS MOUNTED IN THE WRONG PLACE.”
Ever been fishing with that guy who flinches every time his kayak bumps a stump? If you ever went fishing with me in the early days, you know I’m talking about myself. The reason we do that is because we aren’t familiar with the limits of our kayaks. So how do you become familiar with the limits? The same way you found your mom’s limits when you were a kid. Push it right to the edge, then step over. If you follow River Ratz on YouTube you know that we started a series a few months ago where we test the “extreme” stability of various kayaks. We’ve attempted back flips, fished from the bow, and raced them while standing on the gunnels…all to push the limits of the kayaks. 43
Now I’m not suggesting you go out and take it to that level, but I am suggesting you do a few basic test. But before you try these, make sure to empty your kayak of everything but the seat and paddle. Sit in the seat (both high and low positions if applicable) and rock the kayak back and forth until it tips or nearly tips. Stand in the kayak, if you’re able, and rock it. The degree to which you push the kayak should depend on your skill, your comfort level and your health. You will be amazed at how many kayaks will let you submerge the gunnel (sidewall) without rolling. Sit side saddle on the floor of your kayak with your legs hanging over. Not only will this help you gain a greater understanding of your
kayaks stability, but it will also give you a new way to fish when the seat gets a little uncomfortable. If you want to try a more advanced test, try kneeling in on the floor of your kayak and opening the front hatch. (Best done in very shallow water until your proficient at it. We don’t want to flood the hull.) You’ll be amazed at how much more confident you are in your kayak when you have put it to the test and learned its limits.
FADS ARE BAD FOR DIETS AND FISHING My wife once talked me into trying a diet where you live on 500 calories a day. Just for reference, an original Chick-fil-A sandwich has 400 calories. Not really sure what I was think-
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ing, but I lost 32 pounds in 30 days. I also had will catch more fishermen than fish. If they headaches, general overall weakness, back pain, would like to send me a sample and prove me wrong, I’ll happily eat my words. and an insatiable craving for nachos. The point is, we are all on a budget, and unless you are among the .1% of fishermen who don’t pay for products, you should be choosy about what you decide to spend your money on. Do your research, learn from other people’s first Fishing lures / gadgets can be the same way… hand experiences, and continue to read publifull of disappointment and pain. I recently saw cations, such as this one, before investing money in that “electronic” lure that dances all by a something that I would describe as one of itself. (If the lure you’re looking at buying has a those fizzy balls women throw in their baths. The manufacturer claimed that it draws fish to USB port, you might want to move down the it. Supposedly, all you have to do is fish around aisle to the Whopper Plopper.) it. While I’m sure there are many more “mistakes” Let me say up front that I haven’t tested it, and that could be added to this list, these are some it would be unfair of me to say that it doesn’t of the most common and easily fixed. 2 work. But, to me, it looks like something that If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought I was pregnant. A month after I quit the diet, I was right back up to my previous weight and still craving nachos.
Clean. by Corey Stansifer
he fog dances along the water as your kayak slides gently into the water. The birds begin to chirp as the first morning’s light starts to break through the darkness. The paddle swirls the water and baitfish break the surface. You breathe deeply to take in the sweet aroma of honeysuckle and a pile of scattered trash near the launch site.
upsetting that some people choose to destroy the environment in which they are enjoying. The fact is, there will always be selfish people. You can’t control those that pollute, but you can set a good example and be an advocate for keeping your footprint to a minimum. We should start looking internally and then externally to help preserve our favorite fishing holes.
We have all seen it; our beautiful waterways slowly being destroyed by trash and pollution. It comes in many forms from empty bait containers and remnants of a previous night’s camping trip to household garbage and bulky items like tires. Litter on the water is also associated with a poor taste in beer. Have you ever seen empty containers from good tasting beer?
What can I do to help control litter on my waterway?
In all seriousness, rivers and streams provide up to 65% of our drinking water. It’s
CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF When you go fishing, take along a trash bag or use a crate to collect old fishing line, used soft plastics, and other trash. Not only do these impact the water, but they are also harmful to the wildlife when ingested. Using a reusable water container can also help control the amount of disposable items you take on your kayak.
CLEAN UP AFTER OTHERS We have all heard the saying “leave only footprints” when referring to enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunately, not everyone abides by this saying.
are organizing cleanup events and recruiting several others to do the same. One such group is the North Alabama Kayak Anglers (NAKA). Nate Mayfield, CEO of the group, created NAKA Big Trash to help clean the waterways and raise awareness to the stress they are experiencing.
Make it a point to take more out with you than you brought in. Instead of a trash bag, try using an onion or potato sack. Much like a kayak fishing tournament, participants print an identifier and then Not only are they easy to stow, they will capture pictures with the identifier along also allow water to drain out when picking with the trash collected. Participants can trash out of the lake or river. win prizes donated by sponsors for amount of trash collected and creativity used when SET AN EXAMPLE collecting the litter. Get others involved including children and fellow fishing buddies. By making it The kayak clubs in Tennessee have also a game, kids will get excited about finding joined forces for a waterway cleanup. Josh and collecting the most trash. It also sets a Agee recruited Geoff Luckett, Chris Condprecedent with them that will carry over as er, Darrell Klein, and Kevin McCullough they get older. to help spread the word and incorporate sponsors in this month-long cleanup event Bring extra onion sacks with you to give in September. out. When strangers see you picking up trash, they too may want to join in and you Participants across the state will submit will already have a container for them to pictures to the event page with the hashtag use. #KeepItCleanTN. They can then win prizes donated from multiple sponsors. ORGANIZE A CLEANUP EVENT There are several organizations that exist If you are interested in hosting a water solely for waterway cleanup efforts. Some cleanup event, here are some tips to are non-profit groups that organize annual consider: or semi-annual water cleanup day like the Texas group “River, Lakes, Bays ‘n Bayous GET INVOLVED WITH LOCAL Trash Bash”. They will even supply you BUSINESSES. with materials for a productive day of clean- Local companies can help with advertising ing. Or you can organize a river cleanup and also provide prizes to increase participayourself! tion through incentives. There is a growing movement among kayak fishing groups and waterway cleanup events. Kayak groups across the country
BE CREATIVE. Create a tournament-style event or scavenger hunt where certain types of trash earn
different points. Make it fun and incorporate non-anglers such as children or neighbors. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL WILDLIFE RESOURCE OFFICE. Local and state wildlife agencies can also help with supplies and advice. Are there waterways that are in greater need of a cleanup? SAFETY. If you plan to collect trash on the water, recommend everyone wear a PFD and that it be visible in all photos. You should also consider that some larger items are currently habitats for wildlife. While your intentions are good, these creatures may be threatened that you are invading their homes. Use a “garbage picker” or other device to move items around and check for snakes and other wildlife before removal. Cleaning up the waterways after yourself and others is necessary if we want to preserve and continue to enjoy our fishing areas. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to leave with more than you bring. Make it a habit and recruit others to join you. Our waterways depend on everyone doing their part. 2
RIVER FISHING by ANDY MIDDLETON In memory of Dr. Walter Howard. Thanks for making a difference.
ishing has always been a hobby. It’s in my blood. But from my teenage to post-college years, I found another hobby – whitewater canoeing and kayaking. I was introduced to the sport in high school through Explorer Post #67, led by Dr. Walter Howard. Doc, as we usually called him, was the assistant principal and technology director at Northwest Whitfield. He had a place in his heart for introducing young people to the outdoors, and a trailer he kept loaded down with canoes and kayaks. He would spend many weekends leading us Explorers on the trails and rivers of Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Sometimes there would be day trips, and sometimes there would be weekend clinics or camping trips. One day, Dr. Howard and I paddled a tandem canoe down a Class IV rapid – my first and only one. I would have never trusted myself on it, but with Doc’s encouragement we portaged the canoe back up and I ran it solo.
hobbies, so combining the two just made sense. In 2014, I sold my whitewater kayak and bought a Diablo Paddlesports Amigo. I began fishing a few of my local lakes, but it didn’t take long until I was back hitting the rivers and creeks every chance I got. Luckily, I got involved with the Reel Krazy Kayak Fishing Tour in 2015. We can hang with anyone on the lake, but ask most of us and we’ll tell you to put us on the river any day. After a few river fishing trips, I realized there is a lot that translates from whitewater kayak river skill to fishing kayak river skill. I also realized these skills are very helpful when applying what I know about fish behavior to the river environment. I want to share a list of ten tips I use every time I fish moving water. Hopefully, these will help keep your boat full of gear, your memory card full of fish photos, and the river rash (on you and your boat) to a minimum.
TRAVEL LIGHT After the obvious rule of always wearing your It was during those adventures that I learned PFD, this is rule number one. Often there is the anatomy of a river, and just how dynamic not going to be a boat ramp at a river or creek. moving water can be. I learned the Eskimo roll. This is why you bought a kayak, right? To get I took a swift water rescue class. I learned CPR. you in those places the bass boats can’t go. You I got good at many different types of paddle may be forced to use rope to lower your kayak strokes; knowing how to use them in harmodown steep banks at the launch, then pulling ny with the current conserves your energy and them back up something even worse at the keeps you upright. I learned to never grab the takeout. Additionally, you may be shuttling gunwales. I spent time upside down, bumpwith a buddy and cramming two boats worth ing my head, busting my shins in mostly Class of gear into one vehicle. Make things easier by II-III waves, and loving every minute - even taking less stuff. When I go to the river, I usuthough drowning is my greatest fear. ally take three rod & reel setups: one baitcaster for bottom baits, one baitcaster for moving/ But age and bravado seem to have an inverse reaction baits, and a spinning outfit for finesse relationship. My wilder days are in the past. I and downsizing situations. Unless you are fishdon’t brave the rapids in a six foot closed cock- ing an outflow into lake backwaters with some pit boat with a spray skirt anymore. Neverbig bluff walls, you probably aren’t going to theless, the river is still my refuge. Fishing and need that 3700 box full of deep diving crankpaddling are still two of my favorite baits. Oh, and leave the electronics at home. 51
When you learn river anatomy, you’ll know where to find the deep holes anyway. Leave the extra weight at home - your back and your boat hull will thank you. STRETCH AND TAKE PLENTY OF FOOD AND WATER. This is the “motherly advice” portion of the list. Stretch before you launch. River fishing from a kayak is taxing on the body, no matter how good of a paddler you are. If you want to catch fish, you’ll be paddling against current much more than you think. Focus especially on the shoulders, back, and core with your stretches. Burning all those calories on the river will cause you to become hungry and thirsty pretty quickly – so prepare accordingly. STORE YOUR RODS HORIZONTALLY. Kayak fishing is controlled chaos, and it’s even more so in moving water. Exercise extra control by taking overhanging limbs out of the equation. Some fishing kayaks are molded with horizontal rod storage tubes. I installed a Hobie kit on my boat. Once you take advantage of horizontal rod storage, you may find yourself using it on the lake, too. Tell me you haven’t snagged that rod in your rocket launcher on a backcast at some point. Horizontal rod storage rocks. THERE IS MORE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THAN JUST FISHING. Rivers have rocks and rapids, shoals and strainers. With rapids, you’ll normally be able to both see and hear them coming. There are plenty of times you’ll want to face your kayak upstream when fishing. After all, fish face upstream and prey washes downstream. Just remember to keep your head on a swivel. Knowing what’s around you, no matter which direction you are facing, gives you a much better chance of staying upright. A strainer is a
blowdown that falls across moving water, and is one of the most dangerous features on a river. The tree blocks objects from floating downstream, yet the current strains right through. If you are not in slack water, avoid running into these, and fish downstream of them. Fish usually hold downstream of these features anyway. LEARN AND PRACTICE DIFFERENT PADDLE STROKES. There are many more strokes used on the river than the basic forward and backward stroke. Take a paddling class (or at least watch some online videos) then practice on a lake or in gentle current. Know what a sweep, draw, rudder, brace and scull are. Use them to your advantage to get you in those tight spots where the fish hold, and stay there as long as you want. Learn how to ferry, and
you’ll magically leverage physics to get you effortlessly across the river. Paddling.net has a great page of paddle strokes with videos to help get you started. THE ANATOMY OF A RIVER – KNOW HOW TO RUN AND WHERE TO FISH. See a horizon line up ahead? Maybe some rocks sticking up? Hear the water rushing? Is the river making a bend? This is the time where you look at the dynamics of the river, and apply the paddle strokes you learned. Knowing how to identify and dissect a river feature go hand-in-hand with paddling skill to get you safely to the bottom of a rapid, or into that good fishing spot on the opposite bank.
ple reasons. There is more oxygen in moving water, and they can also sit in current breaks and pick off prey as it moves with the current flow. These situations not only test an angler’s casting skills, but also their navigational skills. The first rule of thumb in running a rapid or shoal is to look for the downstream-pointing “V” shape. Basically, visualize your boat going through a funnel. Most shoals will have a series of these, and you’ll have to use your paddle strokes and ferrying skills to meander your way through them.
These downstream “V’s” are the path of least resistance, and the safest way to the bottom. Although it may be counter-intuitive to a beginner, it’s best to keep your speed up and Certain times of year, especially in the summer, punch through the bottom of the rapid. Bigfish will hold near shoals and rapids for multi- ger rapids may have a hydraulic, or keeper
ANGLER MATT BALL
Photo by Matt Ball
hole, at the bottom. Keeping boat speed up will help avoid getting sucked in. Whitewater playboaters love these things. Kayak anglers? Not so much. On the sides of the “V” funnels, there are usually eddies of some shape or size. An eddy is a current break usually formed by a rock. The current flows back upstream behind these breaks, and they make a great ambush point for a fish. They also make a great rest stop for a kayaker. Experienced kayak river fishermen will learn to “eddy-hop” and pick apart a shoal for bass, casting both into the current and into other eddies. Catching an eddy involves the kayak in motion crossing the eddy line and literally pivoting around the paddle after a well-placed, aggressive draw stroke. Georgia is home of the shoal bass, so we really love eddy-hopping here. Smallmouth, spotted, and redeye bass are known to hang out in areas like this, too. Largemouth tend to like their water a little more slack, but will venture into swift water from time to time. Avoid hitting upstream facing “V’s” and “U” shapes. Those are telltale signs of rocks just under the surface. Usually, the outside of a river bend will hold the path of least resistance and the deeper holes where fish like to hang out. Sometimes rocks jutting out from the bank will create a large riverside eddy. These are great places to cast your lure. Focus on the eddy line, where the downstream current meets the upstream flow of the eddy. It will look like a whirlpool. Catching a good fish after nailing a quick eddy turn, setting up, and firing an accurate cast into another break the size of a doormat is a very rewarding feeling.
USE A LIGHTER TEST LEADER IF YOU’RE USING BRAIDED LINE. When you get snagged while fishing current (and you definitely will), sometimes you want to break off. Braid is just too darn hard to break. If the current is too fast for you to paddle back upstream of your snag and get it loose, don’t risk damaging your reel. Just break off your leader and re-tie. I like 30 lb braid mainline to 10 lb fluorocarbon or mono leader. BASIC LOGISTICS FOR SHUTTLE PARTNERS: MEET AT THE TAKEOUT BEFORE YOUR TRIP, NOT THE PUT-IN. If you think about it for a minute, it’s pretty obvious. But lots of time-wasting is done by meeting at the put-in. Meet at the takeout, combine gear into one vehicle, ride together to the put-in, and go fishing. Also, take your straps with you on the float. Nothing is worse than getting to the takeout and realizing you can’t strap down your boats, and they have to be left unattended while you both go fetch the other vehicle. In the unfortunate event this does happen, make sure the person with the vehicle at the put-in has their keys and wallet/license, etc. TETHER EVERYTHING. Eventually, you’re going to hit an upstream “U” or get into a fast-moving chute on an outside bend with an unfortunately placed rock. Even your best brace stroke may not keep the dreaded turtle away. Don’t lose all your gear in the process. This is another one of those moments you’ll be glad you stored your rods horizontally. ENJOY IT, BE SAFE, AND LEAVE NO TRACE. River trips tend to plug us into the wilder side of the world a bit more than reservoir fishing. Bald eagles, heron, osprey, deer, otter, and oth-
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er wildlife are not uncommon to see on river floats. The bass are lean and mean from living their lives in the current. There are usually fewer manmade structures around, fewer motorboats, and more solitude.
There are too few places left that are unspoiled, and our rivers are no exception. The river is a great place to hang out, have fun and cool off, and avoid boat traffic on a hot summer day, but all too often Iâ€™m seeing the remnants of that fun laying around on the riverbank by selfish people that have either lost or never had respect for the gift of nature.
This also means that safety awareness must be heightened. Someone on the trip should have a first aid kit and a cell phone, and always wear your PFD. It bears repeating. Check the USGS Remember - if you pack it in, pack it out. website or American Whitewater for current Better yet, leave it cleaner than you found it. river gauge readings, and know when the flow 2 rate is too high.
ANGLER ANDY MIDDLETON WITH A NICE RIVER CATCH 55
YOU NEED TO BE
FISHING RIGHT NOW! STORY AND PHOTOS BY EVAN HOWARD KBFMAG FALL 2016
henever I hit the water on a float trip, I usually pack my fly box with as many offerings as I think I could possibly use, but there are four flies that I find absolutely indispensable. Typically, I carry only one fly rod. This is either out of simplicity’s sake, or because I am complimenting my spinning and casting tackle and want a fly rod for a change of pace. When I pack one fly setup for bass fishing, it is usually a 5 or 6 weight with a weight forward, floating fly line for maximum versatility. A floating line isn’t perfect for all conditions, but it gives me the ability to fish both surface and subsurface flies; something a sinking line won’t do. What flies are my go-to patterns you might ask? Here are my 4 favorite patterns that consistently produce bass.
Bass on the fly begins and ends with the Booglebug. I cannot explain how much fin it is to fish this popper for bass. Its reputation stretches from Georgia to Michigan. Cork body, rubber legs, and a feathered tail it is both highly durable and effective. I choose a size 4 or 6 in green pumpkin, solar flare, electric damsel or pearly white. The size 4 is my favorite as it usually weeds out small panfish, but don’t think the size 6 won’t attract big bass. I usually fish it with a pop-pause cadence and let the fish tell me how quickly or slowly the like it retrieved. Typically, I let it sit until the surface settles, give it one pop and then pause until I can’t stand it any longer. Bass usually pounce on it either upon the initial landing or during the first pause. Did I mention how much fun it is to watch a bass blast a surface bug? 57
The clawdad is my first option when the fish aren’t hitting the popper. It isn’t nearly as much fun to fish, but I find it to be a phenomenal fish catcher. I usually go with a size 4 or 6 in either black or burnt orange. I either drift it along current seems where bass are waiting to ambush real crawdads or I will hop it along the bottom like a bass jig, but that isn’t my favorite way to fish it.
The clouser needs no introduction to most fly anglers, but if you haven’t fished it, go get some right now. The clouser is one of the most versatile flies in salt or fresh water and has most likely accounted for more species than any other fly in history.
An amazing search pattern, the clouser is my go-to pattern anytime I am fishing swift or unfamiliar water. Much like a spinnerbait or I have found that, in clear water, the clawdad crankbait in the lure world, the clouser lets you is a bass magnet. Something about the rubber cover water quickly and effectively. I have had legs and the way it falls helplessly in the water my best luck with the clouser any time that makes it a phenomenal sight fishing tool. This bass are keyed in on baitfish and fish it on a is one of my most productive patterns for ulstrip-pause cadence that lets the fly jig and fall tra-clear water as I sight cast it to cruising bass. like a wounded minnow.
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CARTERS RUBBERLEGGED DRAGON
The Rubber-Legged Dragon is a great presentation for tough fishing conditions when the bass donâ€™t seem to want anything. Sporting a size 10 hook, rubber legs, and bead chain eyes it imitates very small forage options like hellgrammites and small crawdads. I prefer it to the revered wooly bugger on most occasions and it will catch almost any species of rough or game fish. Give it slow strips and watch for those subtle bites. 2
ANGLER EVAN HOWARD 59
PHOTO BY ERIC ATKINS
crambling across the sharp rocks, the race was on to reacquire my recently liberated footwear. Half a dozen canoes were unloading when I arrived at the launch. In a rush to get gone, I left my wading boots in the truck. I was cursing myself now, as I kept one eye focused on my right flip-flop while it floated away and one eye scanning for snakes as a stumbled down the shoal.
the fast moving water. Others found slow deep pools more appealing. The search continued for that big bite.
The streamer landed beside a tree and I followed it up with a quick up stream mend. The current straightened the fly line and began to pull the streamer through the river. Suddenly, I felt pressure on the line that wasn’t there before. The right hand brought the fly rod up sharply, as the left hand drove the hook home. Stepping on a cottonmouth would have been Weird, the feeling wasn’t as expected, no head terrible but slipping and breaking my 5 wt disastrous. There’s anti-venom for snake bites. shaking, no run to the opposite side of the rivThere’s nothing to cure being marooned on the er, nothing fishy at all. river for three days unable to fish. What was happening? Aside from the flip-flop rescue and the canoe hatch, the first few hours weren’t very exciting. There was tension on the line but nothing was A few smallmouth were caught, but a pattern fighting back. It was dead weight slowly making its way to me. After removing 100 feet of wasn’t really established. Some fish preferred
fishing line from the river, I had the best laugh huge smallie dug in for battle. The bass came about it. Yep, someone had broken off and left up from the carbonated water to size me up. Unimpressed it made a break for the bottleall the line in the river. neck. There was no slowing it down as it headAs the afternoon passed, I beached the kayak ed for the strainer. beside a great looking hole. The river was I began to chase, stumbling across the gravflowing hard over a shallow shoal that emptied into a deep pool. At the back of the pool, el bar like a college student trying to find the dorm at 3 am. I donâ€™t know how quickly I cova bottlenecked formed into a tight fast run. ered those 40 yards but I feel like Usain Bolt Over the next 20 feet the water gained speed before it passed under a strainer and then emp- would have been impressed. It wasnâ€™t graceful but I was able to turn the bass and get control tied back into the main channel. of the situation just before the strainer. After a quick grip and grin, I released the smallie. It was a great looking spot. Positioned well below the hole, I presented over and across the Scanning the far bank, I located a likely holdcurrent. The streamer swung on the edge of ing area and immediately cast the only streamthe drop-off and began to rise when something er that was getting any love into a tree. What crushed it. The 5wt doubled nearly in half as a a loser, 2 more days on the river and my lotto
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streamer is hanging from a tree like a string of beads dangling from a tree on St. Charles street. Going for a swim. The bite was on until dark. I fished hard until I couldn’t see and made a cot camp on a gravel bar. Seemed like a good idea until I was gathering firewood in the dark. Which has never been a concern until you find a snake under your camping gear while unpacking the kayak. When I arrived back on earth I really wanted something other than flip-flops on my feet.
aware if the same pattern would work again. It only took a few casts to get the answer. A nice 15 inch smallmouth came alive as the streamer swung behind a boulder garden. It was exciting to watch the wake and subsequent flash of gold as the bass chased down its breakfast. The morning grew older and the bass grew more brazen. The eats were heavy and aggressive, often attacking before I gave the fly life. They had obviously passed on the prior night’s frat party. These smallies were strong and well rested. The early morning bite was on fire and I was going to be late, sorry dude, I’m not a good friend.
My eyes opened well before the sun rose the next morning. I only had a few hours to fish before meeting a buddy at the next public launch. A deep fog was lifting from the river as When I reached the predetermined rendezvous I broke camp. Anxious to start fishing but un- point I saw the half empty kayak sitting at the edge of the river first. Scanning for the owner to whom I owed an explanation for the delay. I really hoped my buddy remembered to pack his sense of humor. He greeted me with a “good morning” and a dysfunctional fly reel. He came to the party with a new box of fly line in one hand and my new wading shoes in the other. His excuse, “the dog ate my fly line.” Shenanigans! 2
The North American Safe Boating Campaign – simply known as Wear It! – is an effort in the U.S. and Canada focused on spreading the message of boating safety and the critical importance of always wearing a life jacket each and every time on the water. In addition, the campaign reminds boaters of the importance of boating safely, such as taking a boating safety course, never boating under the influence, and knowing navigational rules. The kayak community is taking it a couple steps further. We will also be holding companies, tournaments, and social media post accountable. What does that mean? We will no longer post pictures with out life jackets on. We will no longer allow winnings to go out to anglers not wearing PFD’s. We are simply going to be holding all parties accountable to saving lives one PFD at a time. Yes it does seem harsh. But we are losing friends, love ones, and kayakers everyday because someone doesn’t think its cool, or they are above the rule to wear one. Why do people take pledges? To show their dedication and passion for a worthy cause! In 2015, 85% of recreational boating drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. The National Safe Boating Council believes wearing a life jacket is the simplest life-saving strategy during recreational water activities. We created the Wear It! Life Jacket Pledge so that you may help spread the word about the most important piece of boating safety gear – your life jacket! Here’s how to pledge: 1. Complete the Wear It! Life Jacket Pledge. 2. Share the Wear It! Life Jacket Pledge on Facebook or Twitter. 3. Like the National Safe Boating Council Facebook page. At the heart of it, we want everyone to wear a life jacket and be safe on the water. We believe making the conscious decision to take the Wear It! Life Jacket Pledge and share it.
hy you may ask am I reading an article titled Bourbon and Boogers in Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine? And my answer is “why not?” Who doesn’t like Bourbon or Boogers..Wooley Boogers that is, as in the fly. If your experiences with Bourbon stop with Jim or Jack (which is not technically bourbon) or a massive headache after a bit too much Rebel Yell in college, I would like to broaden your horizons a bit. Bourbon is a natural pair with bass fishing. It is an All-American endeavor, and while bass fishing equipment prices run the gambit, there is still a lot of good everyday man’s bourbon out there.
The Wooley Bugger is considered a wet fly/ streamer made of maribou and chenille. It is normally tied in size 2¬14 but you can tie them as big as you want and they work in all sizes. I consider the Wooley Bugger the plastic worm of warmwater fly bass fishing. Now that I have got my mandatory fishing related piece of the article out of the way, back to Bourbon! When talking to people that want to explore more bourbons but don’t really have a direction to go in, I always assume that they have sampled the Jacks and Jims of the world, so the first thing I recommend is a wheated bourbon and first suggestion happens to be Makers Mark. Makers Mark can be found everywhere all over the world, I have found Makers in some not so hospitable third world places as well at the local Applebees.
“Bourbon is a natural pair with bass fishing”
It retails for $25 and up depending on the size you are looking for. Makers I won’t bore you with the Mark is a wheated bour“What is Bourbon?” I will bon, so it leans heavy on save that for a future arthe wheat and light on ticle. For this one all you the rye in its mash bill need to know is that, in (recipe). What this gives addition to corn, rye and you is a sweeter lighter wheat are also used in the taste that some find much bourbon process and can better than bourbons that change the taste dramatiuse a heavier rye recipe. So if you have tried cally. bourbon and it was a little too hot or spicy for The Booger, or Wooley Booger is also an every you, I would encourage you give bourbon one more chance and try something with a little man’s kind of fly. If you don’t know what to throw, put on a Booger. If you’re not sure what more wheat. swims in the water you are fishing in, throw Makers is good neat or on the rocks, and also a Booger. Okay, I know, enough with the boogers. It’s really Wooley Bugger but just like pairs well with coke or ginger ale. So grab a small flask and a handful of boogers and head Striper and Stripper they are interchangeable out to enjoy some bass on the fly bliss! but not as fun. 67
PHOTOS BY TODD WEST
PHOTOS AND STORY BY
ayak fishing for small mouth is not on too many folks radar down south. While we do have great large mouth and spotted bass fishing, fisherman normally head much farther north to target trophy bronze backs. If you’re serious about finding these bass with a little luck and a LOT of homework you can find a few small gems where the southern smallmouth call home. I recently took a day trip to some relatively secluded water to see if the smallies were biting. A good friend of mine, Josh Bowling accompanied me on the trip. Josh is a rare find in the ranks of kayak fishing friends that I know locally. Not only is he proficient with a paddle and a rod, but he’s also willing to hold a camera. And on this par-
ticular trip that would come in quite handy. After loading up bright and early we made the several hour drive to where we would target the smallmouth. Once there, we began the loading, rigging and portaging of our boats and gear. Being that this was unfamiliar territory we spent several hours casting to fish that may not have even been there. And if they were, they certainly weren’t interested in our offerings. Thankfully a switch in baits brought Josh the first fish of the day. At around thirteen inches, the small mouth was far from a trophy but it set out minds at ease. At least we could say there were smallies here. Once we were able to figure out a pattern the fish began to show themselves. We found several pools with both large mouth and small
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Not wanting to be too greedy, I suggested we take our spoils and head home. Josh lobbied for a few more casts and I agreed to head back and fetch the truck while he finished up. As a paddled about twenty yards away from him Both Josh and I were content and would have we both noticed a large top water strike. I was barely within casting distance and quickly certainly considered the trip a success had it launched a Hail Mary with my crank bait. The ended right there. When we neared the creek bait landed a foot from the outer ring of the viwe would use to take out we noticed a large olent swirl. Within two turns of the handle my amount of water flowing though a dam that had earlier in the day been inactive. There was Dobyns rod doubled over. I could only pray no way we would pass up the chance to fish the this was a small mouth....and that it would stay hooked. rushing water, knowing that bait would certainly be churned up and easy prey for any fish In short order I was aware that this was indeed nearby. a small mouth. The violent surging runs and acrobatic skyward leaps left no doubt this was On the very first cast into the area I missed a solid strike. I immediately threw back in to the the fish of a lifetime. In the past Iâ€™ve hooked fast water and was rewarded with a solid small several such fish, with each result being the same. I would be left with a memory and a lost mouth. Josh then moved just outside of the opportunity. I had already resigned myself to current seam and landed another nice fish. A slight adjustment in my boat position yielded 4 this, yet again, becoming a reality. With each fish in successive casts on a crank bait. We had run and high flying leap my heart creeped close towards my throat. I had finally reached stumbled into the promised land! mouth fighting over what they believed to be easy meals. After about an hour and a half of rather fast paced action it was time to head back towards our takeout.
the point where I believed I may just be able to take a chance at meeting the brown beast. I reached back for my trusted Leverage Landing Net and as my hands fumbled around my hope instantly faded. The net wasn’t there.
partially out of the water I think I may have dropped the rod and yelled with sheer exhilaration. I honestly can’t remember what happened, except I was next ashore and holding a 22” small mouth in my hands.
During all of the commotion Josh had begun the paddle to where the giant and I were locked into battle. He had apparently noticed my lack of a proper landing device even before I had. A mere second went by once I had realized my net was gone when, like an answer from above, Josh thrusted his net into the water. It seemed like an eternity before I could make out if indeed the monster fish was safely inside the woven nylon webbing. Once Josh lifted the fish
I had spent twenty years chasing a trophy small mouth in the waters I call home. The dream was realized. I did not have to travel across the country, hire a guide or even resort to a power boat. It had happened exactly the way I wanted it to...on public water, close to home, on artificial bait and above all it was from a kayak. It was truly the best small mouth I’ll ever catch. Maybe not the biggest....but it’ll certainly remain the sweetest. 2
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TACTICS FOR THE
STORY BY HENRY VEGGIAN
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL ERNST
THE LONG VIEW
You know the angler I’m talking about, the philosopher who tells you “tournaments take all of the fun out of fishing.” We all have that Plato in our lives who reads too many books about trout streams. I was that angler too, once. And I still enjoy a good day on a quiet trout stream in the middle of nowhere. But it’s possible to enjoy two different types of fishing. A remote trout stream with the rhododendron reaching to its riffles will always be as close to paradise as we may get on this earth, but the ancient Greeks believed a boat takes us to the afterlife (we’ll be riding our kayaks there, of course). And besides, there are few sports scenes more thrilling than the Trojan War moment when one hundred kayaks launch at sunrise, and yours is right with them. A basic principle – catch good fish with lures that imitate food – remains constant. However when it comes to kayak fishing tournaments, competition rules, tournament times and strategies necessarily change how we approach fishing. Three major changes will be our focus. First, there are rewards (trophies or cash, or both). These are the glory points, but also potential distractions. Second, there is duration; you are on the clock for a day or two, or you have to stack fish over one month or a long season. These are the clock points, and they require mental stamina. Finally, there are other anglers. Sometimes they are on the water with you, or nearby, and they all want your fish. Of the additional layers that tournament kayak fishing adds to the core of the sport, this is my favorite one, what I call the mental points: your wits in planning, scouting and endurance are tested by the distracting presence of these other anglers. When the tournament ends, you’ll know how focused, patient and prepared
an angler you really are. But what does it all add up to? It’s easy to forget your early years in competition and the mistakes you made. I’ve reached a point now where I have fished every type of tournament format. Experience has its rewards, too; now when I fish in a tournament I compare my day to a history of strategies, plans and results. For instance, I recently fished a tournament at a popular local lake. I had not pre-fished for the event and decided to approach the water with a familiar strategy I had used in 5 or 6 past events. As I paddled to my habitual first spot, I noticed a point I had never fished. When I first began competing I would not have stopped, but this time I did. I landed my best fish on my third cast, a fish that later anchored second place for me. As I paddled away I remember thinking that stop
would have never happened when I started fishing in kayak tournaments. Why? Because I would have been distracted by earning points, or winning some gas money, or watching who was headed where.
the events in this way I encourage anglers to take the long view. Think of short tournaments as individual steps toward a seasonal goal.
Every angler has a few bad tournaments and taking the long view relieves pressure (as any In the pages that follow I outline tournament honest tournament angler will admit, that presadvice for novice and experienced kayak anglers sure can affect performance – but it can also alike. There is one thing to remember through work in your favor). The general principle is it all: don’t be distracted by “the numbers” as follows: make a plan for each tournament while you are actually fishing. There are only season. It should include a budget, ranking of so many big fish available at any competition priority events, a work/vacation schedule and a and you have one simple task: catch as many of consideration of the difficulty of each event. them as you can. Focus on that task and that task only, and all the other advice I offer here is For example, you may want to stack points and secondary. By heeding it, however, it will imdevelop endurance at smaller and less competprove your chances on the water. itive local events before jumping right into a I divide tournament fishing into four categobig regional or national event. Short term goals ries. There are short one day-long events, two will eventually turn into successful long term day-long events, month long on-line events plans, and if you pay attention to detail, make and year-long AOY marathons. By arranging adjustments and track your rankings to mea-
sure of your growth as an angler you’ll find that the tournament grind doesn’t require sacrificing fun for competition. The ancient Greeks combined pleasure and competition in the Olympics, and you can do the same.
THE SPRINTS: SINGLE DAY EVENTS
Single day tournaments are nearly every kayak angler’s introduction to the sport. They include small events at a local lake with a few dozen anglers but may also include large regional events on big lakes or rivers with several hundred anglers in attendance. I will assume these smaller events are part of a season-long series in which anglers accumulate points toward a reward such as Angler of the Year. You have a blank slate when the first event begins. You show up, sign up and pay your fees (I fill out as much paperwork beforehand so that I can focus on my gear at the launch). If it’s your first event ever, or first of the season, you will note that other anglers have different setups. Ignore them early, but remember to ask questions about their rigs after the event. Take a mental note, and then review your own gear after the event. You may notice small modifications that will improve your fishing and paddling experience. A word of advice – don’t get caught up in cosmetic changes. Focus on function. It is launch time. Listen during the Captains Meeting. Be sure to know the rules beforehand. If you are experienced and you notice a rule change, don’t hesitate to ask about it. Other anglers may grumble but some will thank you for delaying the launch because a clarification of rules may have saved them from being disqualified. Novice or expert, you should have a plan. Perhaps you know the lake, but I have had some
of my best days on lakes I have never fished. Why? Because I study maps. I memorize my target spots (I only recently bought a fish finder, and sometimes find it gets in the way) and head to them. I will sometimes take a detour, but I stick to my plan. Don’t worry if others are headed there too – keep a distance, but fish the area. If you see an angler fishing your spot with a certain lure, try a different lure there after the spot is vacated. I catch a lot of fish doing this sort of clean-up work because not every fish in that spot wants a single type of lure. The first fish – it may be a big one, or a decent one, or a dink. Never, ever throw back a small fish without taking a photo. Always record your fish! First it’s good practice to go through the complex motions of landing, securing and photographing a fish. More importantly, this may be a day in which every angler struggles. Throwing back a small fish may prevent you
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from checking in a limit. Yes, big fish win most events, but many events are also won by patient anglers with short limits. A short fish may be the difference between 10th and 25th place and those lost points could mean a big difference in your standings at the end of a long season. For example, in 2013 a North Carolina angler named Shelly Efird (he placed 6th at the 2016 KBF National Championship) won AOY in the Carolina Yakfish series.
because it can cost you AOY points if you are committed to a season-long series. And it can be disastrous in a single day event, too. In 2015, an angler won the opening CKA event with a 9.5” bass. There were over 50 anglers there and it had snowed only two days before the launch. Everyone got skunked except for the guy who did not throw back the 9.5” bass (he also won the big bass pot). Think about that for a second.
In order to win, he needed at least a 7th place finish at the final event. And he finished in 7th place that day. He won the vent – a new kayak – by a single point. In an earlier event that season, Shelly, Rick Rowland and I finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively, with 3 fish limits of 44.75”, 36” and 35.5”. Not one of us threw back a single fish that day. They all count. On a tough day, they count even more.
At the end of a single day tournament mark your score so you can track your points. Take a photo of the leaderboard, too, and make sure to save your photos if the director needs to download them or save them for review. When you get home, write down your observations.
I’m always amazed that some anglers at single day events throw back small fish without measuring them. It’s a ridiculous thing to do
Where and how did you catch fish? What were the weather conditions? How did you fare with respect to others? Did you pack enough food and water? Do you need to buy a lanyard to secure your ID tag for photos? Remember also to check your points when the official standings 77
are published – even directors make mistakes. Remember that everyone has a bad tournament or a bad spell but if you keep a record of your single day events you will be able to evaluate your approach and make adjustments along the way. Remember – single day tournaments are steps along a longer path.
THE RELAYS: TWO DAY EVENTS
The two day long fishing tournament is something of an anomaly: it is short in duration but long in consequence. These are generally “big” events such as regional qualifying events or championship events, and with higher stakes in prizes, points or both. You may fish one of these your first year, or several, or never at all, but if you fish one, you will never be the same. The reasons for the intensity of these events are many, but the first thing to understand is the catch limits.
Will you be expected to score two fish on the first day and three on the second day? Or vice versa? Will you be expected to catch ten fish over two days, with your best five from each day counting toward the overall length? In each case, your first day performance will have a consequence for the second day as its results will determine the second day’s strategy options. I asked Cory Dreyer, Director of the Carolina Kayak Anglers and a highly accomplished tournament angler in his own right, for some perspective on these events. When I asked him what he thought was the single most important rule to keep in mind, he answered “Location. Be sure to choose a spot or spots that will be productive over two days. If it’s a single area, you need to make sure there is enough fish to provide you a limit both days and that it will produce even if the weather changes. Have a
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back-up plan, however, if a spot goes cold, but make sure the back-up spot is nearby.” I always ask: How long will it take to reach your launch and unload your gear? How long will it take to paddle to your spots? How long will it take to return to the tournament checkin location? Be sure to budget time wisely – remember also to conserve energy, because there will be a second day. Another point to plan for is photo submission: keep in mind that some tournaments require an early check-in for photos submitted from digital cameras. If you submit via a smart phone to a site such as TourneyX be sure to fish a place where your phone has a decent signal. Always submit photos quickly. If your phone gets wet and stops working, your day will be lost.
first day of competition. On the first day, anglers caught many smaller, more active fish, but the bigger fish were scarce. Why? Because big fish will conserve energy when it grows cold and catching them requires adjustments in tactics. Now, here is the great debate: is it better to target small fish on the first day, then swing for the fences on the second day? That depends on many factors, and not only the weather. Of course, it is always better to catch larger fish but sometimes they stop feeding, or move into deep water, or simply vanish. The safe bet in a two-day event is to catch a decent limit as early as possible on day one and hope for a big fish along the way. If you target big fish on day one and get blanked, your tournament will be over. But if you are catching many small fish in one spot, do not stay there all day. Move on, and Pay close attention to the weather. At the 2016 target larger fish once you have a good limit. KBF National Championship, a cold front swept over Kentucky Lake the night before the Anglers who caught large limits and good fish on the first day of the 2-day National Championship finished highest overall, but not all of them. Some who landed big fish on the first day returned to those spots on the second, colder day did poorly, while others who caught decent limits on day one caught bigger fish on day 2. Take Cory Dreyer, for instance: he landed a 30.75” two-fish limit on day one which placed him 82nd in the standings. On day two he adjusted and caught a 53” 3-fish bag, for 11th place. He finished 17th overall in a field of nearly 200 anglers. The lesson here is that a mediocre first day can be saved on the second day of an event. In sum, it’s better to catch a decent limit on day one then to swing for the fences and catch nothing at all, then push for the win on day two. In a 2/3 format such as the National Championship, a decent first day set up a strong finish for anglers who adjusted. Two-day events will also carry more AOY points in most tournament series, too, so here 79
the long view makes a difference as well: a short limit may go a long way in the year-end standings.
A RACE: THE MONTH-LONG EVENT
three anglers took the lead five different times on the last day of competition. I was one of them - every time I uploaded a fish, a new angler had jumped into first place.
The finish line drama is excellent, but the long wait is fun, too: anglers may quickly post big Monthly tournaments are of the on-line varilimits, or slowly add up good outings during ety: you sign up, fish when and where you can the month, or get lucky at the end of a bad during a month-long stretch, and submit your month and come up with a big day on the final fish on-line for scoring. You can fish at sunrise, weekend. go to work and stop for a paddle and cast on Strategies will therefore vary widely for these the way home. You can devote an entire week- events, as will opinions of how to approach end to a trip and grind out a big limit, or pick them. your spots, using the flexible format to practice. It’s a race against time, but you have to Weather is the wild card, of course, but other pace yourself. By taking these steps, you should factors can be controlled to some degree. improve your chances. First, there is the schedule. Are you a more skilled pre-spawn angler? Do you prefer sumThe best features of on-line monthly events are mer patterns? The fall bite? Plan you schedule as follows. They are a great way to practice un- around your strongest hand, if possible, but der diminished pressure and build confidence. don’t forget to use the other times to improve They offer an opportunity to build paddling at other techniques. I am not a strong finesse and fishing expertise on familiar water. They angler, for instance, but I use these tournaprovide time to scout new water around a more flexible schedule. The downside of monthly events? All of the above. Familiar water is not necessarily actual tournament water and you may develop bad fishing habits. You don’t have time to paddle around and practice at a real event. Pressure enhances focus – flexibility can weaken mental rigor. In addition, points awarded for these events may be low and count little toward an AOY Series, but the “small fish” rule applies here, too: take every event seriously as the difference between 10th and 11th place can be a big one if qualification for big tournaments is on the line. But there is one element of month-long events that no other tournament brings and it is the drama of the finish line. In one recent event,
ments to practice and improve that part of my game when fishing is slow. Regardless, fish the months you prefer, but take others as a challenge to improve. Second, there is location. Map your local waters. Have you favored certain places for others? Then fish your favorites but don’t over-fish them. If a familiar spot slows down set out for less familiar water. Don’t deplete a honey-hole too quickly as it may come in handy at the end of the month. Give it a break, then return. And file a plan: if you fish unfamiliar or far away spots, be sure to let someone know where you are, too.
and 5-fish limit events. I’ve found that a 20’ average for three bass will almost always earn a top five finish, and a 19” average will occasionally earn you a top 5 finish in a 5-fish event. But there is no denying it: to win first place in monthly events you will need to consistently catch bigger and bigger bass. This, too, is an opportunity to improve your all-around game: learning to catch big bass will help in single and two-day events.
There is one last thing to remember: print multiple identifiers. I have mine laminated at a local store. I keep two in my kayak, a second set in my vehicle, and a spare in my wallet. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your spot, Third, budget your time. Can you fish weeklaunch, catch a good fish and realize you left ends? Evenings? When will your vacation allow your fish identifier at home. you more – or less - time? Thirty days can be THE YEAR-LONG a grind, so pace yourself physically as well as chronologically. Take breaks. When you return MARATHON The year-long series will represent the sum total to the water you will see it anew. of your annual work fishing from a kayak. The Finally, think big. The longer monthly events shorter events are the legs of this marathon, require big fish to win. This is true of both 3
and your run will be determined by your end of year standings in the AOY race. You will likely fish at least a half-dozen different single day tournaments over the spring, summer and fall, on different bodies of water, in various weather conditions. You will fish shallow and deep water, on structure and flats, through rip rap and vegetation, in water that moves or is still. Every event will test your skill, patience and versatility, and every event will earn you points. The final reward may be a new kayak, a trophy, or qualification for a championship event, but in the end if you learn to fish well, you will also be preparing for next yearâ€™s grind. And we all love the grind.
Some complain about the sportâ€™s growth but the increased competition has made us all better anglers. Last year, North Carolina sent more than one dozen anglers to the KBF National Championship and KBF Open on Kentucky Lake, and more than half of them returned home with checks. When I show up to an event I can expect between 20-40 anglers for a local tournament and between 50-90 anglers for a larger event. Waits between events are shorter, prizes are bigger and the days are longer because judges and directors have more work.
Which events to choose? Some anglers prefer the smaller, local events. They cost less in fees and travel, and many of the anglers are friends, so there is a sense of community. These are all excellent qualities. Some local events may be First, pick your series. In the early days of the held by clubs that require fees, so ask about sport, there was only one game in town here in joining. Ask also about points, schedules, North Carolina. standings and rules, as well as formats. Some local series offer only stand-alone events in a We waited four to six weeks between events. If trail-style format, while others have cumulative 25 anglers showed up, it was a good day. With- points. Talk to local anglers and find the best in a few years, there were two series, then three, fit for you. then four. Today, by my count, there is one very big state wide series for bass fishing only, Larger series tend to require a bigger commitanother that targets multiple species (in fresh ment. You will fish different lakes and travel a and salt water), and a half dozen local series. lot within your state or region. In North CarAdd in national, regional and on-line events, olina, we have the CKA, a seven event series and an angler almost has too many choices. in which an anglerâ€™s top 5 scores determine his
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or her AOY standings at the end of the season. The top ten anglers fish an 8th championship round. Sometimes there are supplemental, non-point events, too, for a separate prize (and additional bragging rights). The competition is stronger, the format evolves and the rules grow more complex every season. These events can be intimidating, too, as top anglers compete. There is a sense of community in it too, however, and for all the sport’s growth, the bigger events maintain an accessible charm: everyone is welcome, but they had better show up to compete.
events: I track one competitor. I zero in on a top angler and I pit myself against them. This makes a rather abstract affair involving standings, prizes and maps seem more real. The old Japanese book Hagakure describes a samurai on the battlefield as a hawk selecting a sparrow from a flock. Be the hawk. But don’t make it personal and don’t tell the other angler.
Over the years, I have seen it all in the season long events, and every year I see something new. There have been nail biters, near misses, implosions and hard-fought victories. I’ve seen good anglers give up and bad anglers win. One A year-long tournament series can be an exday an Osprey fell out of the sky and plucked hausting, expensive ordeal. I gave up once, at a bass from the lily pad where I had placed mid-season, due to a combination of factors, my cast. That fish cost me a limit and precious first among them exhaustion. I was in the top points. Year-long tournament series offer it all, 10 when one day I woke up and quit. The next but you have to be ready for it all. Plan, budyear I returned in better shape and had a great get, and prepare. season and lots of fun. Why? I like the long view of a full season. The bad days test your In the end, deciding which series to fish is a resolve, and the good days last for weeks. A top matter of taste and availability. But if you comten finish against a field of 150 avid kayak an- mit to one, pay attention to detail and take glers feels like I won the Stanley Cup, filled it pride in what you do, you will improve as an with Olympic gold medals, and the class vale- angler season after season and year after year. dictorian carried it to my car. If you do not have local options, then talk to tournament directors around the country and All of the previous advice applies here, too, set up your own series. Remember, however, including tracking points, keeping a fishing to keep a positive attitude so that you can have log and saving photographs in case of review. a good time even on the bad days. That is the I have another strategy, however, for year-long point, after all. 2
FISHING AS A COU
UPLE BY BETH RAPP
a lot of fish, so of course I was hooked! If we weren’t out fishing, we were out scouting the next best place to go! Later that year he bought us both kayaks for Christmas and then it all started to change. As we slowly waited on the West Virginia winter to release its hold on the region, we rigged our kayaks so deep that we could barely fit on them and researched more areas.
No, I’m not talking about the “big one that got away” or bluegill, I’m talking about my husband, John! The hardest part for me about sharing the same passion (fishing) with John is that sometimes I forget to pick up a pack of baits for him when I stop at the shop. Or I’ll forget to get my gear out of his truck after one of our trips. Or that I’ve stolen more baits from him than he will ever be able to steal John searched for other kayak anglers in our area and stumbled across a group called Mounfrom me but that’s okay because he makes up tain State Kayak Anglers. Turns out that they for that with stealing my hooks! were holding a tournament the following John and I started dating a little over four years month so we packed out tackle and started our first tournament trail together. We fished the ago and he reintroduced me to bass fishing. He had a little Pelican Jon boat that we would tournament within sight of each other and if take all around Nicholas and Fayette Counties one of us caught a fish, we shared the bait with here in West Virginia. I was basically a novice the other. If I lagged too much in one spot, he would call or come check on me to find when we started dating so I soaked up all information he was tossing my way in regards to that I was just bait testing or snacking. I not only won that first tournament but I also won hook and rig styles which led to me catching
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big bass! I credit John for that win because of all the knowledge he shared with me on where to sling and how to rig my line. He was STOKED for me! The next tournament was just a tad more interesting! John and I planned out the lake we were fishing and knew of one tree that was out in the water that held some good fish. Again, we shared baits and suggestions and developed another strategy so that we would both hopefully finish well. He would fish the tree and if he wanted to try other areas, he would yell for me and I would go hold his spot for him. I was the kind wife (this time) and didnâ€™t fish around the tree but I was extremely frustrated because it was almost 11:00 AM and I still hadnâ€™t caught a fish! He came back and I wandered back across the lily pads of Plum Orchard and found where they had been hiding all morning! At the end of the day, we were
tied against each other for second place but because I had largest fish, I ended up one place ahead of him. Was he mad? No, not openly anyway. He was stoked that I once again placed well in a tournament and that he did as well. Would I have been mad if he had beat me out? No, I would have been excited for him as well! Over the past several years, we have fished many tournaments together. Some tournaments are better than others. Sometimes we are side by side, sometimes we are across the lake from each other. When one of us is struggling, the other is right there with them to try to help out since it isnâ€™t about winning or losing (so says I) but about spending quality time with the love of my life doing something that we both love! 2
LIFE! STORY AND PHOTOS BY
STEVIE NICOLE JONES
ecently I discovered that several of my family members and friends do not know I hold a full time job! Evidently, in the eyes of many, all I ever do is fish. Though that would be an awesome life, it’s not mine. I’m a wife, mother, and work full time outside the home. There are bills to pay, food to buy and cook, animals to take care of, floors to be cleaned, piles of laundry, dishes stacked up, grass to be mowed, oh and Kayak Fishing Tournament season just started up!
In the fall we usually get the next year’s tournaments schedule and should use them to plan out the season. I wish I could say that my husband, Bryan, and I do this. In a perfect world, He and I could sit down with the fresh off the press schedule and plan our budget and time for each month. Additionally, we would know how much extra to set aside for the months during tournaments to include; hotel or camping costs, fuel, food, bait, fishing line, essentially all the things it takes to get us there and on the water. However, we don’t live in a perfect imaginary land, and all the real life things to do listed above keep us busy. Since we share the love of tournament kayak fishing we double the expense. Every tournament for us, is two times what it costs most who go alone. First came the kayaks, then came accessories, rods and the reels, baits and weights, fishing line and the hooks, and everything in between. We are guaranteed to spend over $200 each tournament. Both our entry fees alone range around $50 to $100 apiece, and we typically fish five tournaments a year!
seeing new sights. Together, we learn new things and accomplish new goals. Bryan’s victories are mine, and vice versa. I love the little moments of my husband holding his fish up to show off to me. There are many times we take my son to fish with us while pre-fishing for tournaments. While we are out learning the waters and coming up with game plans, Benson is out there learning so much more. He watches his parents enjoying a fun and healthy hobby as a family. During “Tournament Season” we do have to sit down and at least attempt to look at the calendar. We have to plan out child care, and animal care for out of town trips. While he is eager to hit the road with us, Benson isn’t quite ready to hit the tournament scene. We take care to ensure we won’t miss important events as sometimes there are sports or holidays we have to carefully plan around. Sometimes, it all just collides. There are times we have to decide who is going to fish and who is going to sit out. As much as we love to do it together, there are times it just isn’t feasible. Bryan has a son that visits for spring break and summer, and we work to protect that time.
“...out of nowhere I hit a huge tree...”
At times I think to myself, why do we do this? We could spend our money on so much more! Maybe take a nice family vacation, or two or three, but when I look back at all the memories we’ve made I’m quick to remember why we do it. Kayak fishing is something we do together as a family. It is a fun and healthy time spent together. We spend almost every weekend on the water together exploring new places and
Just this summer, I attended the Women’s Only Kayak tournament on Lake Athens, a tournament I had a hand in creating. It fell on the weekend my stepson was flying in, and it was Father’s Day weekend. In addition to having 89
February, we had two tournaments in the month we had to travel for. The first was three hours from home, the other about an hour and a half. We had to plan for overnight stays for I previously set the current lake record, and the tournament and for pre-fishing. Luckily, recently pulled another Big Bass win from KATS (Kayak Angler Tournament Series) a few Bryan and I enjoy old fashioned tent camping months prior. Bryan missed both events to be which helps with expenses since it is cheap. The tournament series we regularly fish has a with his son. The results were submitted live through an app and I knew he was keeping up raffle and somehow we racked up a nice tent, me throughout the day. I won first place, Big and sleeping bags over the past few years. Bass with a double digit, and set another Lake Catch and Release Record without him there. Weâ€™re good to go even in the coldest months. Both tournaments cost us $75 each so we had It was a great day, but different without him to stick to our budget carefully. In addition to there. the everyday monthly expenses we also had the Most of the time we are together. While fuel costs for four out of town trips, and three lodging expenses, and food. We packed sandaround the calendar we also decide when to wiches, snacks, and drinks in a cooler to keep leave, miss work or take off early, when paychecks will come in and bills will go out. In food costs down. Our budget, travel times and history with the creation of the tournament, I have an amazing history with the lake.
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a local store near home and it was only $20! Things were looking up again. The following day I got the part and Bryan made the swap. A We set out to pre fish for the first event, three few days later, I woke up feeling awful! I had a fever, a cough, and I sounded like a seal. Off hours away. We arrived, set up our tent, and to the doctor I went, and came home with anwent fishing. Things were going good. We tibiotics and steroids. The following weekend, had fun exploring the new lake and chatting with fellow anglers. We got up the next morn- with a snotty nose and aching ribs from coughing and headed back into the water for anoth- ing, I placed just a half an inch out of Big Bass money with the second largest fish of the tourer day of exploring. While cruising through the water, out of nowhere I hit a huge tree! It nament. It was a tough day on the water, but we had a good time with each other. broke an entire blade off my propel drive. everything was set and our plans were made. We were good to go!
Here we are one week from the tournament and I had no drive for my kayak and didnâ€™t know how or when I could get one. We headed back to our campsite while I made calls frantically. Dollar signs filled my mind. Thankfully, I found the replacement part at
Two weeks later, feeling much better, we headed to the second tournament and slept in our vehicle to save money. We also repacked the cooler with food. Insane winds averaging in the upper twenties miles per hour woke us up. Somehow the tournament proceed on, a whole
plan a family trip, or a little romantic get away! But... in true kayak tournament angler fashion, we put it all towards replacing my lost equipment and future tournaments. Sometimes I wonder why we put so much into something we don’t know the outcome of. Why gamble so much on uncertainty when there is so much more we could put the money towards? The only answer I can solidly give is that the memWe both had fun and moments to share with each other the entire way home. Even through ories we make as a couple and as a family are my shame I found happiness in listening to my priceless. husband recount his day. The so called giants The look on my children’s faces from our stoand probable personal bests he lost, the ones ries and achievements are amazing. The face he did boat, and his fun struggles of a kayak my husband gives me holding up his fish angler in four foot swells on the lake. Even though we got our booties kicked, we still en- makes me love him just a bit more every day. The feeling I get from finding something I can joyed the time spent together. do not only with my family, but on my own We came out of February way in the negatives is awesome. We don’t view it as a gamble or a debt, but rather the competition of tournadue to my misfortune. Fortunately, things would soon turn. A few weeks later we entered ments between us and other anglers creating a bond within my family that a vacation could in a team kayak tournament with an amazing group of guys, and came home with some not create. We are kayak tournament anglers, money in our pockets. We could now possibly and this is our life. 2 other story of its own. If only I had known this would be an expensive trip. Throughout the day, I managed to lose my paddles, my net, my anchor, my knife, neither of us came close to the money. Though proud of what each had accomplished, we tucked our tails and headed home.
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ANGLER JONATHAN ALJETS PHOTO BY JOSEPH SANDERSON
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13f t Kayak Hero S eat Paddle Rudder A dventure
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No drama. Just adventure. VIBE ELEMENT COOLER SERIES
STORING YOUR FISH CORRECTLY? CLICK TO SEE:
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FLY RECIPE: ARTICULATED
HELLGA by Brandon Bailes
This is a pattern I came up with for fishing super clear creeks for smallmouth and spotted bass and it works well when slow retrieved on the bottom, dead drifted thru current seams, and even under an indicator. It’s an imitation of a Hellgrammite and the fish spines provide lots of realistic wiggle, even when dead drifting in current. Tie some up and go nymphing for bass, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much bass key in on this nightmare-ish bug
Material list: UTC 140 thread- Brown Gama B10s hook- size 4 or 6 3/16” Barbell eyes O-ring- size #3 Monofilament- 15-20# Flymen Fishing co. Fish Spinessize 10mm and 20mm Whitlocks SLF dubbing- Red fox squirrel Thorax Medium Krystal Hackle- Brown MFC Skinny Skin- Mottled Brown Round Rubber legs- Brown STEPS: 1. Start a thread base on the 10mm shank and tie in a piece of round rubber legs on each side of the shank to form the fork tail. 2. Next dub the thread with the SLF and cover the shank generously all the way to the eye 3. Once the shank is dubbed, tie on a piece of the Krystal hackle and wrap a few times near hook eye, tie off and whip finish.
4. Now connect the 10mm to a 20mm shank, start a thread base and tie in a piece of Krystal hackle. 5. Next dub the thread with SLF and begin dubbing the shank….working the dubbing back and forth, forming a football shape. 6. Afterwards palmer the Krystal hackle forward, tie off, and whip finish. ( make sure to leave space when palmering so the dub can be seen) 7. Next place the hook in the vise and secure the barbell eyes on top of the shank and about 2 hook eye lengths back from the eye. Then take the rubber o-ring and cut a small section out, butt it up against the barbell eyes and tie on using figure eight wraps…these will form the pincers. ( this is a good time to add some UV resin or superglue to keep the eyes in place too) 8. Advance the thread rearward and tie in a piece of mono, thread the shanks thru the mono and double back to form the articulation point for the extended body. 9. Tie in a ¼” x 2” strip of Skinny skin on the underside of the hook and then tie a piece of Krystal hackle and dub a short ( ¼”) section of the hook shank.
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10. Next tie in a pair of rubber legs on each side of the hook…now repeat step 9….going in between the legs and then in front of them before tying off. 11. Now fold the Skinny skin over the and tie down to form a thorax, add some more dubbing and figure eight the dubbing around the barbell eyes. 12. Finally pull the Skinny skin over the barbell eyes and tie off to form a head segment and then move the thread in between the pincers and whip finish. Extras: *Color the barbell eyes with a sharpie or paint, if desired. *Add UV resin to the underside of the head to solidify the dubbing and make it more durable. *Brush out body with Velcro for an even “Buggier” look.
READERSâ€™ PHOTO SHOWCASE
FAMILY FUN & FISHING CHRIS CONDER
DENNIS JONES JR
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