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The C-TUG kayak cart from Railblaza has long been my favorite kayak cart. I’ve been on record trying to find a better one and frankly, I haven’t. That is until now. While the standard plastic wheels of my three year old C-TUG are great, these new SandTrackz wheels take this already best in class cart to another level. Good on the sand, rocky paths, and everything in between, these wheels, which never need air, also hold the kayak and gear load like a pack mule. The C-TUG doesn’t put pressure on scuppers, it doesn’t warp your kayak with ratchet straps, and it doesn’t allow your gear to shift. I’ll often have to transport a quarter mile or more just to get to my spot. When your options are carry in or wheel in, you need wheels that won’t let you down. I could go on for weeks about how rugged the C-TUG is but I’ll digress. Don’t spend the money like I did and buy everything under the sun trying to find or make a better cart. This is THE cart. Go buy one and quit worrying about carts because you’ll have this one for years. KBFMAG SPRING 2017






rowing up in Florida, I spent my time throwing a spincast rod due to the versatility for salt and fresh water. I lived on Lake Henry and about 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. The spincast allowed me to use all lure types with a single rod that did not break the bank. That rod was, and is, my 14 year old Ugly Stick that is still getting on the fish today. As I moved around the country for work, I began targeting freshwater more often, and also began using more baitcasters. Though there are baitcast combinations that work well for multiple rig types, I noticed pairing the reel with the right ratio to the right rod created a harmonic combination for certain lure choices.

allows some flex after the fish strikes and bend if the fish goes aerial. I use a medium/ heavy rod with a fast action for spinnerbaits allowing farther casting of the less than aerodynamic lure, and strong hook sets on the single hook. Combining power and action with the proper length gives you more control over hooked bass. Consider where you are fishing, what you are fishing from, and what you are fishing for when choosing length. I typically fish 6’6” to 7’6” rods, and do most of my fishing for bass from a kayak on lakes.

Now it is time to decide what reel to pair with the rod we have chosen. Reels are rated by their rate of retrieve. A reel rated 7.1:1, means the spool revolves 7.1 times with each single handle rotation. Keep in mind spool size can change the rate of I do not have money to waste, so I do my retrieve and make some ratios faster. For research before making purchases. Ideally you example a thick 6.8 spool can retrieve the can start by deciding what lure/s you will be same amount of line as a 7.1 tapered spool. tossing, and how you are going to present them Fast reels typically have a ratio of 7.1 or to fish. I understand this is not realistic as more. I use fast reels for flipping or other we often find deals on a reel, or receive a rod situations where I am casting near my kayak. as a gift. However, before you go spending I also use fast reels with search baits when money on a good deal, see if the item meets trying to find fish in tournaments. Medium a need you have. You can use a rock to reels are my go to reels and are the reels from pound in a nail, but it is not more efficient 6.1 to 6.8 range. Even though some 6.8 reels than a hammer. The same can be said about can be considered fast, this is a decent rule to using a pitching rod to throw crank baits. go by. I use medium reels for spinnerbaits, After deciding on the lure, chose the rod. swim jigs, and top waters. Medium is a good When shopping for rods pay attention to the all-around ratio. Slow reels are around the power, action, and length of the rod. Power 5.1 range. They provide increased sensitivity is relative to the amount of pressure necessary and help get lures to max depth. These to make the rod bend, and action relates to come in handy for deep diving crank baits. where the rod blank flexes once pressure is These “rules” are not the end all. They helped applied. Most manufacturers label power as me not only be a better angler, but helped me heavy, medium, or light. Action is usually indicated as extra fast, fast, moderate, or slow. be a smarter shopper. I no longer chase the clearance stickers, instead I take a systematic Picking the right power and action can increase approach to enhancing my arsenal. This is the cast distance and precision. A good rule of science behind our art of fishing. Thanks for thumb is a light power slow action rod is good letting me nerd out, and remember…we can for light baits, and a heavy fast rod is good sit inside and read about it all we want, but for heavy baits. For crankbaits, I typically true knowledge is gained on the water. 2 use a medium rod with a lighter action. This 13


VIDEOS by daniel reach KBFMAG SPRING 2017

Social media is flooded with anglers armed with GoPros, Action Cams and all manner of knock offs, each with aspirations of being the next Chad Hoover or Ty Southerland. What they fail to realize is that great videos, even good videos for that matter, don’t just happen.



’m not professionally trained, and certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but with more than 40 videos online, not all of which I’m proud of, I’ve definitely made mistakes you can learn from. In the first of a four part series we are going to discuss six factors that can mean the difference between creating videos that build a loyal subscriber base verses just another home video to torture the wife with.

DON’T BE A HERO We’ve all seen them. They are usually set to music, about eight minutes long with roughly forty-five seconds of action, and feature some well-meaning guy showing off his most recent catch. There’s nothing wrong with videos like this. Heck, I’ve even produced a few of them, but there is a better way.

the time creating a formula for my videos and a direction for my channel. From that came what would end up being our slogan – “Entertain, Educate, and Introduce.” Simply put: If it’s not entertaining, they won’t watch. If it’s not educational, why should they watch? However, if I could combine at least one of those with an introduction to a new technique, a new location, a new product, or even a new fishing buddy, then I would have contributed to their overall fishing experience in a positive way. I’m not suggesting you model your videos or channel after my formula, but I am encouraging you to bring something of value to each of your videos. You have

About 2 years ago, on a Saturday morning I was watching one of my favorite fishing shows, Kayak Bassin’ with Chad Hoover on the “World Fishing Network.” The Louisiana Redneck goes to commercial break and up pops a commercial for a different show on WFN. Without missing a beat I started complaining to my wife, “I can’t stand shows like that. It’s all about, ‘Watch me be a hero while I catch a bunch of fish.’ If a show doesn’t teach me how to do what they are doing, I don’t have any interest in watching.” And then it hit me. It was that moment… the one when you see something that’s been right in front of you the whole time. I was producing the same kind of videos I had just finished complaining about. I was the guy trying to be the hero, while bringing nothing of value to the viewer. It was that moment…that it all changed. I quietly shut down production on my YouTube channel for two months and spent




experiences that no one else has. You have tricks that others haven’t thought of. By sharing your experience and knowledge, you will not only build a stronger subscriber base, but also help grow our hobby. “Someone somewhere is looking for the information your experience has taught you.”

HAVE A PLAN One of the biggest misconceptions regarding filming is that you can simply attach a camera to your kayak, point it in your general direction, and when you get home you’ve got an amazing video that people are dying to see….all you need to do is add some background music and upload it to YouTube. Wrong. Both good and great videos take planning. The biggest factor in successfully planning a video is answering one simple question: “What am I trying to accomplish?” Are you going to teach a jig technique or highlight a product? Maybe you are going on a kayak camping trip with your buddies and you want to bring your audience along for the ride. Then again, maybe it’s a simple Hero Video (nothing wrong with them). Once you know what the purpose is, you can now create a plan. Mine usually look something like this: Get B-roll arriving at the river and unloading. Introduce location and guest at shore prior to launch. Get B-roll footage of launch and paddling out – 3rd person. Primary camera mounted to the bow of kayak. Secondary camera on Action Hat.

Highlight technique used for catching trout with guest. “Wrap up” interview before leaving. Do I always hit every bullet point as I go throughout the day? Nope…I’m fishing. It’s easy to forget. But I write it down so that I have a checklist to refer to throughout the day, because…let’s face it. I’m’s easy to forget. The process of laying out a plan for the video, also known as scripting, is particularly important if you are interviewing someone about their product or doing your own product review. It’s like any other journey. You have to know where you’re going before you can get there.

ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE Now that you have a direction and a plan for your video, you’ll want to engage your audience. The easiest way to do that is to simply talk to the camera. I’m not suggesting you talk throughout the entire video, but you’ll definitely want to sprinkle it in. Why are you casting to a certain spot? What can you see? Maybe it’s the structure just under the surface, or you’re marking fish on the Fish Finder, or that giant red owl that swooped right over your head and scared the hell out of you (Yes, it happened.) Even something as simple as saying, “I cannot believe that just happened” creates a connection to your viewer. By interacting with the camera, you introduce an element into the video that no one else can….your personality. Want to take your audience engagement to the next level? Ask a question in your video and then encourage them to respond in the comment section. YouTube hosts who interact with their audience experience a higher success rate, a more loyal following, and a stronger subscriber base. Not only does it generate content ideas by allowing the audience to


back to the kayak, my camera still in the water. About five seconds later a 2 pound bass swam right in front of the camera. I’m not sure if he was after my lure or the bream, but I got one of the best underwater shots I’ve ever gotten.

suggest things they would like to see, but it also creates a personal connection to the host. “Even with cameras such as GoPro’s, which are notorious for poor sound quality, it is important to interact with the camera and your audience.”

TAKE THE TIME TO GET B-ROLL This is one of the hardest things for me to remember to do. I’m a fisherman first, and a videographer / producer second, which means I want to get on the water and keep a rod in my hand. It’s exceptionally difficult to slow down long enough to capture those all-important moments that add dimension to the story. So what is B-Roll? For those unfamiliar, it could best be described as the glue that holds the main clips together. For example: You just caught a fish at the fist location and want to move to the second location. Three seconds of you paddling with the shore line going by is all that’s needed to join the two clips. Maybe your buddy catches a nice fish. Why not paddle over and get footage of the release? While you’re at it, ask him what he caught it on, how he was fishing it, and what kind of structure. Now we’re adding value to the video! See how it all starts to tie together? B-Roll can be a real opportunity for creativity, and is one of the most over looked opportunities to elevate our videos. About a year ago, I was fishing the Brazos River in Texas when I noticed a small school of bream around my feet. It didn’t take long to realize that they were using my legs to hide from the current. A few minutes later I had my Sony Action Cam nestled into to the gravel river bottom and got some great footage of my new friends. This gave me the idea to toss my soft plastic swim bait in front of the camera and show the viewer how I was fishing the lure and why it was working. The bream couldn’t get enough of it. They clearly thought it was a real fish and kept pecking at it. After a few minutes I pulled the lure out of the water and walked

Tip: On days when the fishing is slow, use the time to capture B-Roll footage that can be added to other videos.

LESS IS MORE When Michelangelo carved The Statue of David he left only what was needed for the master piece to reveal itself. You should look at your videos the same way. On an eight hour fishing trip, running two cameras, you have 16 hours of video. According to YouTube, and my own experience, videos under 5 minutes perform the best. That means that out of 960 minutes of video, you have to carve away all but five. Now ask yourself something, “I have five minutes to work with. Do I really want to use 30 seconds on a “paddling shot”? Maybe. Did something interesting happen while paddling across the lake? If not, you’ll want to keep it to 3-5 seconds. Remember, B-Roll is the glue…too much glue and you have a mess on your hands. “You have 300 seconds. Spend them wisely.” By carving away all the excess and fluff, you will be able to control the tempo of your video, because whether you realize it or not, tempo is everything! Think back to the most recent action movie you watched. They controlled the tempo of the movie with two elements, background music and the pace of the action on screen. The movie might start off with an intense car chase which last a few minutes, but is followed by a couple laying in the grass next to a lake. How does this apply to a fishing video? The movie producer had 2 hours to work with. You have five minutes. A few seconds of video showing your arrival at the lake and


unloading is a great way to start the story, however more than a few seconds can really bog down the video. The audience neither wants nor needs to see 2 minutes of B-Roll, just to get to “the good stuff.” Once they do get to the “the good stuff ” it needs to move! It can take me anywhere between 1-3 minutes to land a bass, but that doesn’t mean that all three minutes should make it into the video. Take the most exciting parts of the fight and cut it down to a 30-45 second clip. By doing this, your audience will get a feel for the pace and excitement you experienced when landing the fish. “Be ruthless. Leave only what is needed to create the master piece and nothing more.”

going to get technical here…let’s face it… that’s like doing math on the radio. It’s just a bad idea. Let’s put it this way, if you have a video editing software, you know that they come with all sorts of “transitions”. You can choose from very sophisticated looks such as: the page peel, the flip, and my favorite – the butterfly (Don’t ask). Even the more subtle ones such as “cross dissolve” can create a chaotic and unprofessional look to an otherwise well designed video. Skip them all. The unofficial standard on YouTube is the Jump Cut. Basically find a spot to cut the clip….and cut it, then follow it immediately with the new clip. There is definitely an art to it, but with time it will become second nature and you will create your own unique style.

Tip: Adhere strictly to the 3-5 second rule. A single clip should never be more than 3-5 seconds long without cutting EXCEPTION to a new angle or TO THE clip. That means RULE that in the 3045 second clip At the beginning mentioned above, and end of your you could have ANGLER DANIEL REACH video, feel free PHOTO BY MARK KOLANOWSKI / WWW.IMKPHOTOGRAPHY.COM more than 10 cuts to use the “fade in that one section in” and “dip of video alone! to black.” This The exception to this rule would be an softens the entrance and exit of the video. interview. Obviously it takes longer than 3-5 seconds to express a thought, and While there is definitely more that goes into interviews are therefore immune to the rule. a video than the six steps listed above, they will get you well on your way to standing JUMP TO IT out from the crowd. Be sure to look for part two in the next issue of Kayak Bass Fishing A big factor in creating dynamic, up-tempo Magazine, and don’t forget to check us out videos is the type of transition you choose on YouTube – River Ratz Fishing. 2 to use when joining clips together. I’m not KBFMAG SPRING 2017



hen the bite gets tough or the water gets cold, a drop shot flat out catches fish for me. I myself am a power fisherman. I love casting and cranking, but regardless of my style, I want to catch fish more than my dedication to power fishing. When all of the power techniques fail I immediately go to a drop shot. A drop shot is a versatile finesse presentation that is typically used on light line and spinning tackle. The setup can be rigged in many different ways, but the foundation is a weight at the very bottom of the line with a hook tied directly to the line anywhere from 6-24 inches up from the weight. By keeping the hook above the weight and off of the bottom, the angler can fine tune the bait’s depth to exactly where the fish are feeding. The bait, when set at the right depth, is literally right in front of the fish’s face. Lethargic bass can’t resist it. 23

Now that we know what the drop shot is all about, let’s talk about how to rig it. One way to do it is with a modified palomar knot. You will probably have to watch a few YouTube videos and practice with some spare line before you’re ready to actually tie this on a rod. I tried this method a few times, but I just couldn’t get it right with any consistency. I was about to give up on the drop shot until I found the VMC spinshot. The spinshot places a drop shot hook on a swivel where line connections can be made above and below the hook. The bait is able to rotate freely with the current and the length of the weighted end can be fine tuned easily. For line, I prefer braid around 10-15 lb test with an 8lb fluorocarbon leader. If you prefer straight fluorocarbon, anything 8-12 lb test should work fine as well. Hooks come in many shapes and sizes, most are fairly small and work well with a nose hook method or wacky.

VMC even makes wide gap versions that allow you to rig weedless or even put on a swimbait on if you want. Weights round out the setup and you can use several different designs, but I prefer to use drop shot specific lead or tungsten. Drop shot weights, unlike traditional egg sinkers, allow you to change weight rapidly without having to tie a traditional knot. A simple overhand knot is all that is needed. Slide the overhand knot through the dropshot weight’s eye, pull it up into the restricted portion of the eye and the line pinches itself secure. ½ ounce is my preference, because it gets the bait to the bottom fast and I can make long casts with it.

contact with the bottom. Pauses every so often and allow the bait to settle. Mix up your retrieve speed until you get a bite. Sometimes bass are just not interested in a fast moving crankbait or spinnerbait. When all traditional power fishing methods fail, a dropshot has proven to be a fish catching machine. While the dropshot can seem intimidating at first, once you figure out a palomar knot or buy some VMC spinshots, the setup becomes fairly simple. Add the dropshot to your arsenal and I promise that when you run out of power fishing tactics you will have a backup plan ready to put fish in the boat. 2

Fishing the dropshot is simple. It can be used in a multitude of ways, but two presentations have proven successful for me. The first method relies heavily on electronics to pinpoint fish. Once you are able to mark a promising spot on your fishfinder, determine the depth from the bottom that the fish are holding. Lengthen or trim your weighted end to match that depth and simply drop the bait down until you hit bottom. Reel in the slack line and keep the weight in contact with the bottom. You can make subtle twitches on the line to give the bait action, but I prefer to just hold it steady. Hang on from here, because bass can’t resist the easy meal you have just put in front of their face. If you don’t have a fishfinder, a dropshot can still be just as effective without one. Without the fishfinder, there is obviously more guessing involved, so I recommend using a VMC spinshot with a widegap hook setup weedless. ½ ounce is still my weight of choice and I like to keep the bait 12 inches above the weight. Start by casting the dropshot around fish holding structure such as points. Allow the weight to hit the bottom and reel in slowly while keeping the weight in constant KBFMAG SPRING 2017









n late winter the fish begin to gradually migrate away from their wintering holes and feed up in preparation for the spawn. The dead of winter is a tough time to catch these slumbering giants as they don’t move very far to chase lures, but a very narrow window in time opens for bass anglers to target them when they are at their heaviest weight of the year.

BAITS I typically like to throw my largest baits this time of year as the big females seem overly willing to take large offerings. My favorite bait for this time of year is a 9” Bull Shad. It fishes fast and allows you to cover a ton of water searching for those hungry girls. It has proven to be a true big fish magnet. I am also a huge fan of glide baits like the River2Sea S-Waver 200. The glide is a great alternative when they don’t seem to want a jointed hard bait. If hard baits are only getting short-strikes or follows, I will go to a much more subtle soft bait like the 3:16 Rising Son or Burrito Baits Carp Hugger shad. I’m also excited to try out a new billed, crank-down swimbait from Bull Shad Swimbaits called the 4x4. It has been catching them already and I believe will be a huge asset when the bass are not coming up to chase my usual offerings.

GEAR I swimbait fish year round, but this time of year always seems like the biggest grind of all. You have to keep your big bait in the water at all times and that takes a heavy toll on your body and your gear. Launching big baits from a kayak is much more strenuous than from a boat or on shore, so make sure to step up to a heavier powered rod.

Revo Toro spooled with 25-30 pound mono or 80 pound braid. You want to be able to stand and cast throughout the day and a boat like the Jackson Kayak Big Rig or Coosa HD provides ample stability for that task.

LOCATIONS Think of pre-spawn like a migration. The eventual goal of these big females is to wind up on a shallow spawning flat that is protected from the winds and gets plenty of direct sunlight, but there is a catch. The water temperatures and the moon phase has to be just right for them to make that move. Around here, our magic water temperature is approximately 55 degrees. The fish will hang in staging areas located not far away from their eventual spawning locations in drop-offs, creek channels or underwater structure until the water reaches the temperature they want.

TIMING Beyond temperature, bass also look for a coinciding new or full moon phase to begin their push. When both of these factors occur, and a nice pre-frontal weather system arrives, the bass will quickly invade the shallows and fall easy prey to big swimbaits. I begin my search by scouting out shallow flats suitable for spawning and then look for deeper water or channels in the immediate vicinity. Typically, the fish will move shallower as the sun bakes the water and the water temperatures rise. Work your way shallow to deep and continuously return to the flats and staging areas to see if any bass are showing up. The small males will show up first and the large females will be lagging behind.

Try out swimbait fishing for yourself this I like an 8 foot rod like the Dobyns Champion spring and see if you can employ some of these tips to break your personal best! 2 807. For reels, I like the Daiwa Lexa 300 or 43




he 10-day weather forecast for Southeast Louisiana left lots to the imagination. Depending on the time of day, it gave me visions of blue bird skies with calm winds, overcast days with flag straightening winds and a chance of severe fog on Saturday morning. All of which were experienced in two days. My strong desire to sight fish Louisiana redfish eventually became too great and the plan was made to go regardless of the weather.


A cool breeze from the east greeted me on Friday morning. These conditions weren’t exactly favorable for sight fishing but I wasn’t discouraged. The tides were low and the sun was going to be out. More importantly, this trip was about finding one good fish. A bull redfish would stand out in these less than ideal conditions. The winds were a steady 10-15 mph all day. It was a real workout to remain standing and scoping the flats. In most instances, a redfish would be seen as it made its request for solitude. The morning had shaped up to be slightly frustrating. My experience was nothing like you see on TV where a guy who’s never touched a fly rod lands a 50” red in the first hour. Fortunately, several slot redfish were taken but the bull red continued to elude me. The first opportunity presented itself and dismissed itself at the same juncture. While pushing along a west bank, a 35” red moved between me and the grass line, heading in the opposite direction. But,

as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. Almost like it hadn’t been there at all. Ironically, it was that sighting that kept me hopeful. Indeed, there were some big reds stalking the area. After crossing a small bay something dark was immediately noticed patrolling the edge of a shell lined island. While closing the distance, it too vanished in the shadows of a passing cloud. At that point, it was nothing more than a silhouette but it elevated my heartrate and put my brain into overdrive. The entire scenario played out in my imagination. Simply push pole the kayak and quietly chase it down. When you’re within 30 feet of the bull red, execute the perfect subtle cast directly in front of the beast. The red would instinctively inhale the deceiver and the battle would be on. The resulting photo would more than likely crash Facebook. Of course, that was not how it went.


The silhouette took form as it swam on my starboard side and 15 feet off my bow. Unbelievably, it had presented itself in the most ideal setting. The kayak kept pace with the bull red while the paddle was seated. Two or three false casts and the fly landed softly. One quick strip and the tan over white streamer paused right in front of the red. It was now decision time.

It passed through a cut and placed an island between itself and the kayak. This was not going to plan. The only headline on Facebook would be how a kayaker was carried out to sea by a redfish.

It made its way to the middle of the neighboring pond and slowed down. Giving me just enough time to push through the cut. With the line recovered, the red looked ready to give up. That was not the case. And yet it wasn’t, the red quietly turned and effortlessly sucked the streamer in. It happened Three failed attempts to net the fish had my forearms screaming for someone to relieve the before my mind processed the action. As nonchalant as the eat was, the next action was greenhorn behind the reel. Thankfully, the fourth attempt was a success because the hook absolute brutality. The water exploded as the redfish erupted in a rage of madness. The huge fell out just as the head went into the net. gill plates flared in anger and the headshaking Three more bull reds were seen over the was tremendous. The 8 weight was my weekend. Each time they spotted me conduit and the energy was pulsing into my first. The conditions weren’t favorable for hands. Then the redfish buried its head and sight fishing. The fog and winds were so displayed an impressive burst of power. heavy on Saturday morning sight fishing was restricted to just a few hours after The next few moments were a complete lunch. Which gave me plenty of time to scramble. Line was peeling off the reel as think about that one good fish. 2 the bull red made a run for the Caribbean.






ften times when the chilly nights begin to yield warmer days the bass angler has one thing on his mind- the upcoming spawn. This holds especially true for the kayak bass anglers who can get in to the real skinny water that warms up quicker, where the eager fishermen find the eager bass. In terms of annual patterns, pre-spawn is typically what we consider to start the year off.

First things first, you’re gonna miss some fish. Plain and simple. The very action of a bass torpedoing through the water and attacking a moving target on the surface is difficult. So let’s discuss the attack and see how we can increase our chances of success.

Understand that the bass is typically going for the frog’s legs (or skirt) with its first bite, dragging the frog under water and then gobbling it up on the second (or subsequent) bites. This leads me to my first point- don’t set Wintertime bass are held over from the the hook early. You absolutely have to resist previous fall and winter, but pre-spawn bass seem to get most anglers back out on the water the urge to set the hook and give that fish a chance to take the lure under. Sometimes and most would consider this the beginning they’ll just nip the lure and it’ll float back to of their year. So before you go tying on the the surface but most of the time they’ll take old jig or drop shot, why not start your new it under and consume it on the second bite. year off with a new pre-spawn presentation? Give your rod a more aggressive hookset I’m going to convince you to try a topwater than normal because you’re typically going to frog as your pre-spawn technique this year. be hooking them in the harder roof of their As the temperature rises we know bass head mouth as opposed to the sides of their jaws. to their breeding grounds to ummm… do their thing, but have you ever considered that Second, bend your hooks up just a little. I take the time to bend the hooks up slightly and this frogs do the same? Typically they’re breeding one little trick has increased my hookup ratio. about the same time of year, and sense they both procreate in the water, that makes sense. The frog bodies come weighted on the bottom so you rarely have to worry about snags. If you They’re fairly dormant in the winter, and notice your frog flipping over on to its back once it’s warm enough, they get busy so that during the cast you’ve likely lost its weight or the young frogs and toads can reach maturity your hollow-bodied frog has been dunked so early enough to survive the following winter. many times it has filled with water. If it has Frogs and toads are typically spawning in been dunked by numerous bass and is filled similar waters also, shallow and warm. with water it is customary to squeeze it I encourage you to leave at least one frog tied out on your friends. on when you start targeting pre-spawn bass (and most find it’s a great technique into the late summer months as well). A word of warning though… topwater frogs are addicting. There’s nothing like a topwater hit, plain and simple. So let’s cover some general rules to better your results, because topwater frogs can be real frustrating as well. 51

Next, throw your frog where you expect to see frogs and bass. Rarely is a toad going to be skipping across the middle of a shallow pond, even though bass may be spawning right out in the open. Rather, they’re sticking to the edges where they have protection and the water is shallow. Frogs and toads love to spawn near cover and spawning bass will typically build a nest close to cover so they can protect it and ambush prey. Capitalize on this. Don’t be afraid to whip that frog right into the middle of a mess of trees or lily pads along a shallow bank. If you’re floating down the river and the banks are clean focus on casting parallel to the bank and working the action of a bouncing frog. Think about swimming the breast stroke, where the swimmer is bouncing up and down.

caster retrieve speed. What I mean by this is rotate that handle one revolution as fast as you can and stop cold. Notice the frog just lurch forward a foot and slide back down into the water? Repeat again and again. Maybe give it a few revolutions and then kill it. Just don’t take your eyes off of it or you’ll miss the hit! Before we go further you need to realize that small bass and even panfish are going to attack your frog, so while you may get a lot of action you’re likely going to catch fewer fish than if you were dragging a small craw. But, the fish you are going to catch are typically going to be the behemoths.

Another good tip is to modify the color on the bellies of your frogs. 90% of the frog lures are a solid colored bottom, and 90% of those are white-bellied. Most live frogs seem to have buffed out bellies, but most An easy way to simulate this is lifting the rod tip, and another easier way is to jump your bait toads seem to have some sort of contrasting


marks- either spots or stripes. I like to give my white bellied lures some spots and stripes with a permanent marker. Spots near the edges of the belly and legs and a stripe down the midline, chin or along the flanks. Let your lure bake belly up in the sunlight for a few hours, then give it a pat down. You’ll end up smearing the ink into a more natural pattern. My last tip comes with two stories… and the point is to pause near single limbs that protrude from the water. Single limbs would be the only place a frog would rest as it swims past so it seems logical to give the lure a quick pause right there (I’ll cast over it on purpose). As I was fishing a tailrace on a sunny day in early February my buddy and I worked behind a peninsula that was maybe 3’ of water and almost wide enough to leap across but baking in full sun. A single cypress limb, 4” in diameter, broke the surface and I casted my frog well beyond it. As I pulled my frog parallel to the submerged portion I gave it a momentary pause at the exposed branch and the second I reeled my frog away from the limb a Largemouth inhaled it with a thunderous splash. Her surprise annihilation stood in for the momentary pause before my hookset, and being less than 10’ from my kayak the hookset caused her some discomfort and she darted under my boat. With nowhere to go I jammed my rod tip down in the water and kicked my way around to let her dart to the river. After an honorable struggle I brought a 21” bass to my net. Afterwards my friend said the splash of her hitting the frog “sounded like I fell in the water.” My parting story has one more tip in it, coupled with my previous one to pause near a single protruding limb. That tip is specifically for bass in any stage of spawn and that is to recast a missed hit. Spawning bass are notoriously territorial as they protect their nest and offspring and are probably more willing than any other time of year to

second strike the same lure. What better way to experience this than a topwater frog? So I’m floating down a gin clear river in late February (I’m in Central Texas so it’s getting warm already in February) with two friends that I consider amazing fishermen in their own rights and they happen to be brothers (which makes for interesting trips, let me tell you). As I float behind them I’m casting parallel to the bank and they’re fixing to disappear down the next set of rapids. I’m literally floating backwards, fixing to get swept down the rapids and casting upstream

at the last spot I think looks fishy which is… you guessed it… a single protruding limb. As I cast beyond I’m giving my frog the bounce technique, I pause at the limb and right when I pull it over and off the limb it gets crushed. In my haste, I forget to pause before the hookset and yank my frog right back at myself. I feel my yak drifting faster and I start to drag my feet because that fish felt goooooooood. I recast and rip it to the limb, pause, and again the second it leaves the limb it gets crushed again and I remember to pause this time. I give it the old tuna hookset and my reel starts to scream as my line heads toward the center of the river. Then it starts to head toward me and the rapids! So imagine me trying to reel in slack, keep from getting washed downstream by kicking and doing the chicken-wing paddle AND turn my kayak around just in case we both go downstream. The whole time I’m screaming and once I get the bass to the boat I realize why. I landed a 20.5” Smallmouth, which is like a river unicorn in Central Texas. If that doesn’t convince you to recast or to target single protruding limbs then I give up.




So before you head out to target prespawn bass remember to tie on your frogs and don’t forget to charge up your GoPro because you’re going to want to rewatch your topwater hits over and over. 2






received this book as a Christmas gift and given the title and the author, I immediately thought this would be an interesting book to read. Willie Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty authored this book. Willie is the CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander game calls, as well as TV personality and Fox News contributor. I’ve always been a fan of Willie Robertson and the Duck Dynasty show.

American proverb from the 1600’s or a quote from 1921 and it apply exactly to what fishing means to me in 2017. It makes you feel connected in the deepest way to the past and to our American history.

I’ll be honest; I’ve never been a big history buff. I’ve never been particularly interested in events of the past but I was hooked, pun intended, from the beginning of this book. It begins in a pre-colonial period with the Native The Robertson family has always been one that Americans and their traditions and reliance on fishing. Robertson and Doyle formulate an I closely identify with and share core beliefs equation connecting the Revolutionary War with and I figured this book would be right and the rise of George Washington and the up my alley. William Doyle co-authored this book and is a well-established author, historian, formation of the republic, and the variable that connects it all surrounds the fishing industry. and history professor at Bristol University. This book is a fact-based chronology of the The fascinating adventures of Lewis & American fishing industry, how that industry Clark would absolutely not have been shaped the foundation of our country, and possible without the sustenance fish, and the the growth of sport fishing in America. identification of new fish species that we enjoy If you know anything about Willie Robertson today. Fishing even had an impact on the you know that he sports a long flowing beard, outcome of the Civil War, and it amazes me that behind almost every significant event in wears American flag bandanas, and is very American history fishing has played a role in it. vocal about his love and belief in God. With this in mind it isn’t surprising that this book reflects religious undertones as it relates to the The book connects the dots between the past and modern times where fishing for sport authors point of view about fishing. Willie Robertson believes that fishing better connects reigns king. Sport fishing was such a major influence on the life of Earnest Hemingway him to his faith and that fishing honors God. that wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, He includes several scripture quotes that refer “The Old Man and the Sea.” The life of Hemingway greatly revolved around his love to fish or fishing like Genesis 1:20. Scattered of fishing and we reap the benefits of that along with the bible quotes are numerous love to this day with the establishment of historical poems, quips, and proverbs that relate in some way to fishing and the outdoors. the International Game Fishing Association I must say, as a reader, I found these little gems to which he was a founding officer. The American Fisherman continues to take us to be my favorite part of this book. Not only through the modern role of fishing and are they entertaining to read but extremely with that the rise of the female angler. thought provoking as well. It was crazy to me to read a quote like, “ No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river One of the most important elements of fishing that I have the privilege of volunteering for is and he’s not the same man,” and sit in silence Heroes on the Water. This is an organization and think about what I just read for an hour. that takes military veterans with physical or emotional injuries and introduces them to I find it absolutely amazing that I can go the world of kayak fishing as an alternative through this book and read an old Native 57

to traditional forms of therapy. I was pleased to read in this book how Willie discusses non-profit programs like HOW and his involvement in Project Healing Waters. The author includes a quote from John Gierach that hit me deep when I think about my time on the water with HOW, “The angler forgets most of the fish he catches, but he does not forget the streams

and the lakes in which they are caught.” Maybe it’s because I like Willie Robertson, maybe it’s because I have a deep passion for fishing and all it represents, or maybe I’m finally interested in history, but this book had me from cover to cover. This book ends in the most fitting way, with The Fisherman’s Prayer by Homer Circle.

The Fisherman’s Prayer God grant that I may fish until my dying day; And when at last I come to rest, I’ll then most humbly pray; When in His landing net I lie in final sleep; That in His mercy I’ll be judged as good enough to keep! Amen

Want to buy your copy of Willie’s book The American Fisherman?

Save some money when you buy it using our link here:






n a previous article - The Cure for Kayak Butt - you were introduced to the Bretzel stretch. This is a great stretch for the anterior (front) chain of the body and if performed every day can help expose deficiencies and reduce discomfort while kayak fishing.

I am now going to introduce the Bretzel 2.0. The Bretzel 2.0 is a stretch for the posterior (rear) chain. If you did not feel much while performing the Bretzel, then it is likely that Bretzel 2.0 will reveal some deficiencies that could be causing a different sort of pain. The Bretzel and Bretzel 2.0 do not stretch any one muscle - they stretch movement patterns. Individuals may feel a stretch in the lats, glutes, hamstring, and IT band or any combination of these muscles. THE BRETZEL 2.0 1. It is best to start the Bretzel 2.0 in a room where you can align your front thigh with a wall, or a seam on the floor. Once you align your thigh with the wall or seam, you will flex your left (front) knee to 90 degrees. Your right (back) knee should be beside your front foot with your back leg flexed at 90 degrees as well. 2. Next, you will place both hands about 12� in front of the front leg. The hands should be square to the front leg and you should begin feeling a stretch in the left quad, oblique, and right lat. Begin turning your shoulders so that your quad, hands, and shoulders are now square with the wall or seam on the floor. You may need to look over your left shoulder to help get your shoulders square.


3. Now, take your weight completely off of the right hand and slide your fingers (palm up) under the left hand. All weight should be on your left hand with your elbow barred out. 4. Lastly, look over your left shoulder and begin to lean to your right keeping your right elbow straight. If the elbow begins to bend, back up an inch or two and breath - then lean back to the right and go a little further. There should be no pain - but there may be some discomfort. Remember, discomfort does not cause your lack of proper breathing - but your lack of proper breathing causes the discomfort. Back up, ground your emotions, breath properly, and continue the stretch 5. Bonus - to take the Bretzel 2.0 to the next level, straighten your left (lead) leg and re-do the stretch. 6. Repeat on the opposite side. It is important to note that if you have a serious back problem, do not assume this stretch will correct the problem. It is always best to get a diagnoses first and follow doctor’s orders. 2 ----------------------------------------------

Eric Boyd is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team. KBFMAG SPRING 2017





hen not fishing, I enjoy scouring Google Maps, Google Earth, Bing, and other sites in order to find out of the way areas to scout and hopefully find productive water. When looking at a river on any online mapping program, I look for key features within the river. These features will produce various black bass species throughout the year. Check out these six key areas when scouting online hotspots.


flow naturally over the ledge and in front of the fish, it’s not getting bit. It is important to cover as much area along the face of the ledge as you can as fish can be anywhere on it. One of my favorite ways to fish ledges is to get above the ledge and cast a crankbait out below the ledge where I can parallel the ledge all the way back to my kayak. Because I am above the ledge and paralleling it below the ledge, my crankbait will be grinding into the face of the ledge all the way back to the kayak.

POOLS Once water has spilled over the ledge it will often form a relatively deep pool. The edges of pools often have foam lines which are visual indicators of the natural “conveyor belt” of

Pushwater can be very productive most of the year. Typically pushwater will be relatively slower and deeper as it approaches a shoal. Many times this pushwater will hold isolated structure along with bottom contours that will attract forage and bass. Topwater, swimbaits, and crankbaits are my favorite ways to fish these areas. On my home river, these areas are quite big and search baits that can cover a vast area quickly are a must. Spring through fall will have fish very active in these areas as forage are active as well. As winter approaches I will find fish in the slowest water as tailouts from shoals begin forming pushwater. Once winter has settled in, fish will congregate in the slowest water in the area. food floating by. Many of the fish caught will be related to the foam lines and bubbles LEDGES that are created by the shoal above. It is kind of like the “bedroom next to the kitchen” As pushwater approaches a ledge it speeds up scenario. Slow or still water where a fish can and spills over forming foam lines and pools. expend little energy in the pool is right next Water pouring over the ledge stirs up aquatic to flowing water with a food source floating species such as crayfish and hellgramites. by. When fishing pools I will first start well Many times I will find hungry bass “nosed” below the pool and fish the foam bubble lines up to the ledge. If the cast of your jig doesn’t with a light jig and grub combo. I fish the 65

foam line first because aggressive fish will be close by. Next I will situate my kayak above the pool. Most times, pools will have an eddy type flow where the current turns and flows up-river. Fishing the bottom of the pool back to the top can be very rewarding as fish can be roaming the pool. I like to approach this scenario with a Ned Rig or light jig and trailer combo. Be stealthy around pools as experience has taught me that it can be a finesse game.

ISOLATED STRUCTURE Isolated structure such as boulders, logs, and even depressions in the river bed will attract bass. These are ambush spots and any piece of structure has the potential to hold a nice fish. Try to fish the structure strategically, making casts that will make your lure seem as much like an easy ambush victim as possible. Bass don’t just hang around structure - they use it to conceal

themselves. Make casts that will make it easy for a bass in hiding to ambush. This includes fishing the shade lines and current seams associated with the given piece of structure.

V’S Funnels that are produced by a broken ledge form visual indicators that I call “V’s”. These “V’s” are visual on top of the water and effectively hold aggressive fish. Pushwater approaches ledges and if there is a break in the ledge it will form a funnel. These funnels create a prime ambush spot for hungry bass. Bass can be found below the V or on any side above the V. Crankbaits and jigs are my favorite way to fish the V. Again, the ledges create a sort of conveyor belt that funnels prey right to the bass. If a bass is “chasing” they can be found anywhere in the general area of the V. However, if bass are not in a chasing mood, they can be found in the slow water or


pool below the V - again, the “bedroom next to the kitchen” scenario. Don’t be surprised when you begin to notice an abundance of “V’s” throughout any given shoal complex - and don’t be afraid to fish them all.

DAMS AND SPILLWAYS Dams and spillways are a haven for river bass. When fishing these areas it is important to understand water flow, clarity, and if possible release schedules. In high, muddy water conditions, bass can be found at spillways and dams in the natural eddys, pools, and slack current that these areas can provide. A savvy angler can utilize apps such as “River Data” to obtain data on flow, water level, and temperature before heading to the river. A knowledgeable and experienced angler will even know specific flow and water levels that will have these big bass fired up before pulling out of the driveway.

While the dam itself may be one big honeyhole, you must understand that fishing a dam is spot on spot fishing. You may find an unsuspecting run that holds the motherload while the main run may not produce at all. Remember that dams and spillways typically hold large amounts of bait. Just a small flicker can key you into a congregation of hungry river bass. Also remember that all the other features mentioned above will most likely also be found in the dam or spillway area making this feature a year round home for river bass. When searching Google Earth or while on the river, look for these features. If you can find all of these features in a small area, you have found an area that will hold fish year round. From there you just have to figure out how to catch them! 2 Eric Boyd is a member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team.


of fish



by Drew Haerer


s the father of a seven-month-old son, this last year has been a whirlwind. As a kayak angler, it has been challenging to balance time with my young family and time with paddle and rod in hand. Generally, my trips occur early in the morning, late at night, or when my wife knows I am in desperate need of some on-the-water therapy. The same dilemma is faced by countless members of the kayak fishing community around the country. As I have worked to achieve a better balance of fish and family, I have found myself looking up to numerous other kayak anglers who seem to always blow my mind with how effectively they manage their lives and time. I reached out to four kayakers whose prowess extends far beyond fishing, and whose social media is about devotion to family and love of fishing rather than “Likes” and “Shares”. These guys are the ones truly “living the dream”.



Jeff Little, a native of rural Maryland, is one of the most respected and knowledgeable anglers in the sport. He is also a master of time management. The head of the mid-Atlantic regional pro staff for Wilderness Systems makes and edits videos, writes articles, makes and sells baits, and is currently writing a book. Yet, he always makes time for family. “There’s a balance” he says. “I’ve seen fathers who have that balance wrong in one direction or the other. I have buddies who used to fish, but no longer do. They might hit the water twice a year now, and they aren’t generally happy dudes. That not fishing isn’t the cause, rather a symptom.

younger son, or just listening to my older son tell me about his successes at school.” Jeff also told me something that I have thought a lot about, and even blogged about last fall. What if my son isn’t into fishing? He notes although both his nine year old and ten year old boys enjoy fishing with him, they are more passionate about other hobbies. He takes that in stride and does everything he can to support and encourage his kids to do what they love.

“Before I was married, I fished every single day. Once married, I fished most days. Once we had kids, I fished at least twice a week. Once my kids got older and had activities like 4-H, chores on the farm, basketball and band We all need our outlet, our passion and our practice, my fishing was trimmed to once a time away from others. Without it, we become week, sometimes less” says Little. In addition, less effective as fathers, husbands, sons and he notes that he and his wife put their kids employees. Being out of balance on the other first, and communication between family end isn’t good either. I’m personally guilty of members is key. “We keep it all straight with being more of a roommate than a husband a big calendar in the kitchen, but there is an sometimes. When I’m on a string of fishing assumption that I will not go weeks without days that I’ve planned out to hit, for instance, fishing” he added. “Time spent with Jessica the striper run on the upper Chesapeake, the and the boys is the most important thing, but time I indulge in re-rigging, pouring jigs, we cannot neglect to recharge ourselves.” uploading video, Facebooking pics, etc. has me out of balance with how much my wife My correspondence with Jeff ended with this: needs me to sit down and eat a meal with “I’ll finish later. Need to go play basketball.” her. I miss out on shooting hoops with my 71

ERIC HARRISON Eric Harrison is a Hobie pro and striper guru from the Boston area. He and his wife have three active kids who keep them busy with sports and activities throughout New England. Still, Harrison fishes at least twice a week—sometimes more if he is lucky or the bite is hot. “My wife recognizes my need to get on the water, and it is about compromise. There are times when I really want to go to hit a particular tide or bite, but have to put it off because we have family activities. I remind myself that there is a new tide every 6 hours!” Harrison says. Harrison is renowned for his night fishing. “Stripers are strong night feeders, and the biggest fish hit better in the dark, so it isn’t a sacrifice going late.” He often fishes from 9 pm to 3 am on weekends, grabs a few hours of sleep, and wakes up to take the kids to their sporting events. During the summer, he often hits the water before first light and is home before the kids are ready to start their days. Although the entire Harrison family loves to share time on the water, it can be tough

with conflicting schedules and events. “I schedule some fishing time with my kids to make sure we make some good trips every summer. I try to pick an easy fish for them to catch, like flounder, and we hit the best part of the tide.” Additionally, he makes sure to treat his kids to breakfast or lunch on every trip, as the added bonus is icing on the cake and more time together. He urges young parents to not force fishing on their kids, as it doesn’t generally end well. “When kids are young, focus on small, easy to catch fish. Kids don’t have the same measure of success that we do. A morning where they catch 20 sunfish is better for them than catching a 5 pound bass; they almost always want quantity over quality!” he says. “The best part is when they start learning to do things on their own. My oldest is now a teenager and can handle his own kayak and take care of himself on the water. I stay nearby so we can share the catch and, if necessary, I can help him get a tough fish off the hook or untangle a line. This summer he caught a 45” striper on his own.”


TROY MEYERHOEFFER Wilderness Systems pro Troy Meyerhoeffer is in a unique situation. He lives in the heart of New York City, and he is a stay at home dad to a six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. “I try to fish 2-3 times a week, but less in the winter. If there is open water and decent weather, I’m on the water” he says. For the Meyerhoeffer family, it is a matter of understanding what needs to be taken care of in the family and being courteous. “I usually don’t ask my wife if I can go fishing; I tell her I’m going. She will either say yes or no, but she knows I need to get out. Sometimes she even tells me to go fishing, and it is very seldom she says no. In addition, I mostly fish during the week, so I can spend time with her on the weekends.” Meyerhoeffer stresses that heading a young family has pros and cons. “Don’t think you have to give up fishing because you have a new baby. When my son was born, he did what most babies do and slept a lot, and so did my wife. I actually got to fish more. There is a balance so figure out what works.

I went fishing while my wife was having contractions with our second kid and she went to work. I stayed where I had a phone signal and within a short drive. We both knew it might be awhile until I got out again.” Like Harrison, Meyerhoeffer is not afraid to use food to cap off a day of fishing. “I took my son out on a lake in Maine, and he got bored after catching a smallmouth every cast, so I headed over to some pads to throw a frog. On the first cast, I hooked into a nice 4 pounder. My son was sitting in the front of my Commander and was watching the fight. The bass jumped at the boat and hit my son square in the face. He wasn’t hurt, but looked at me and said, “that was horrible!” I took him to a diner, and a piece of strawberry pie fixed him right up.” As a final note, Meyerhoeffer encourages parents to take their kids to fishing and outdoors shows. Shows generally have something for everyone and are filled with entertainment, food, and fun. 73


In addition to being one of the most renowned photographers in the industry, Chris Funk is a pro team member for Jackson Kayaks, Bending Branches, and other companies. Chris, his wife of 24 years Angie, and son Ethan live in Alabama. Unlike Ethan, who naturally took to fishing, Angie got into the sport to spend more time with her boys. Now, she can more than hold her own on the water. Funk fishes 2 to 3 times a week during the spring, summer and fall. “In wintertime, Ethan and I are usually trying to fill our freezer with deer meat, but I do fish in winter when I can” he says. Additionally, Funk urges that communication is key when it comes to balancing fishing and family. “I have definitely had some stern looks and words when I was pushing the limits, but I knew I was getting close to the line at the time. When we were just a young married couple, we started an open communication for any and every situation, good or bad, so we don’t stay mad long. It doesn’t mean I won’t make the wrong choice, but I know when she is unhappy about it, and we can usually come to a compromise.” One

such instance occurred on Valentine ’s Day. “I ended up on camping/fishing adventures for three Valentine’s Days in a row, and I knew Angie wasn’t happy about it. I was down in the Okefenokee Swamp, which is about 5 hours away from home, and wasn’t supposed to come home until the day after Valentine ’s Day. It was a Wednesday, and I knew she would be at church teaching her children’s choir, so I broke camp early, drove home and walked into church to surprise her. She was so shocked she could hardly speak. A friend of ours looked at me and said “man she was mad at you earlier, you made that all better!” Funk makes sure to include his family in as many hobbies, activities, and trips as possible. “Angie loves to fish, but she isn’t as obsessively controlled by it as I am. I take care to make sure she is comfortable on the water and that our trips are not “serious” grinds. If the fish aren’t cooperating, we just go paddling. Some of our best conversations have been while we were paddling together.” They also plan family trips and getaways together each year.


Chris also had some words of advice for young parents. “You need “you” time, time with your wife or husband and time with your kids. If any one of them gets neglected, life will suffer. Time waits for nothing and one day your young family will be grown up. Don’t miss out on time with them if at all possible, and include them if you can. The time we have spent together in the outdoors is precious and priceless, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“I am thankful for every adventure that I get to turn into a memory” says Funk, who lost his father early in life. “He was my best friend. We were always chasing some sort of fish around the southeast, and that time we spent together will be in my heart forever. I hope that my investment in my family honors him and that the day I am no longer here, Ethan will have an awesome set of memories to live with.” 2

“Time waits for nothing and one day your young family will be grown up. Don’t miss out on time with them if at all possible, and include them if you can.” 75








e all quickly became addicted the minute we first fished from a kayak. Regardless of the kayak, any angler can reach areas not possible from the bank, or even a powered boat for that matter. After some time, an angler becomes accustomed to fishing any lake, river, or creek in search of that trophy bass. Some anglers become interested in fishing tournaments to test their skills, or for many other reasons. Tournament fishing can seem overwhelming for new anglers. Entry fees, traveling to lakes not close to home and even a long list of rules. However, there are plenty of trails that will fit each angler’s needs. A seasoned angler that wants to participate in a tourney with more than 100 competitors. An angler that isn’t looking for a huge crowd and maybe more of a relaxed feel can find trials that have 30-50 competitors

at any given event. But regardless of how large field is, there are many incentives in competing in any tournaments. One reason is anglers enjoy sharing stories and ideas about their experiences on the water during and after an event. Another reason is how anglers bask in any competitive fire sparked by competition. The list goes on, yet the most important advantage for tournament fishing is simple- comradery. We have all been there before as we unload, or load up our kayaks at the boat ramp. Another kayak angler approaches and discusses about the sport. Whether the other angler is using a similar kayak, or a completely different one the mutual feeling of a community is clear. That feeling is exponentially magnified during tournaments for many. But the


relationships made at that time can often lead to solid friendships. And with some fishing clubs, those friendships can lead to helping the community in various methods.

to reach the angler looking for a good time rather than solely trying to win the event. And in those trails you will find newer anglers placing in events that have seasoned competitors participating.

There are kayak groups that donate to children Some new anglers worry about the pressure foundations, wounded soldiers and other attached to tournaments since there is a time noteworthy organizations. The connections limit. Some seasoned anglers are concerned made with kayak anglers are immeasurable. about competing with over 100 people since One particular issue stands out for spots will become jam-packed of kayaks. some new kayak anglers when it comes The goal of many kayak trails are to to entering a tournament and it has contribute to the growing sport in any to do with how they will finish. way possible. And if a trail gradually grows Sure, it would always be great to win, or along with the sport, the future is brighter place to take home some money. And than any star shining over a lake at night. if you’re a pro angler that is what your So the next time you want to find out first intention probably is about. information about competing in a Yet for the new anglers hesitant about tournament, search around to discover the competitions, the importance of building one that fits your needs. You never know, strong friendships should overshadow you might enjoy it as much as the first where one will finish in a tourney. There time you paddled on the water. 2 are newly formed kayak trails that strive 79






outh Florida literally has warm weather all year long keeping the water temperatures from rarely going below 60 degrees. Waterways ranging from as far South as Homestead to as far North as the border of West Palm Beach County maintain decent temperatures. Add endless miles and miles of canals to the equation and you have the perfect habitat for many exotic tropical aquatic wildlife to proliferate in this region of the country. Now, most of us have heard about the Northern Snakehead which residing in the upper part of the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland. Not many, know about the slightly smaller cousin, the Bullseye Snakehead. Originally from Thailand and Pakistan, the bullseye snakehead is a fish member of the Channa family and it is often confused with the native mudfish or bowfin due to its physical similarities. However, their anal fins are the easiest way to tell them apart.

Snakeheads are amazing animals. This species has the ability to stay out of water for up to three days in humid conditions. They developed some sort of “lung� that allows them to breath air and move from body of water to body of water during the dry season. Another interesting fact is they possess sensors on top of their heads that allow them to feel vibrations on the surface of the water. This allows them to hunt terrestrial prey more efficiently. It has been identified that snakeheads may even prefer to eat on animals such as lizards, frogs, turtles and small ducks. Targeting Snakeheads is fairly easy. Most anglers who fish for them often would tell you to just go out there and fish for bass. My tactics are simple. One bait caster filled with 50 lbs. braid, 30 lbs. flouro leader and a 5/0 to 6/0, wide gap worm hook. To that, I attach a Rage Tail Toad. Yeah any toad will work, but the Rage Tail has big paddle tail style legs that make a lot of noise while


swimming on the surface leaving a fantastic bubble trail snakeheads just seem to love. During my last trip I noticed that once I switched to them I started getting several hits. (Note that I have no affiliation with the brand whatsoever, just voicing my honest opinion.) Places to target Snakeheads are near the bank, under hanging vegetation, any manmade structure such as docks, and of course lily pads. If you encounter deeper water, there might be a chance you can find them there using white spinnerbaits or a Rat-L-Traps. Snakeheads can be found in the cities of Coral Springs, Tamarac and Margate. You can literally pull over around any canal in those 3 cities and find these fish, but you won’t find them in Fort Lauderdale or Miami as they seem to be strictly north of Sunrise.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the kill or release topic. These fish have been in our waters for over 15 years, if not more. There is no scientific proof or study that shows they are in fact affecting the native fish population in the areas they inhabit. Nature seems to find its own balance and I can tell you that I catch more bass than I catch snakeheads when I target them. At the end of the day, killing or releasing is your personal choice, but there is no law that says you have to kill them. If you do, at least give the fish some respect and use it for food, or bait. Snakeheads arrived by way of the Asian trade for harvesting. Their meat is excellent and free of bones, and Snakeheads are excellent swordfish bait if properly rigged. I personally like to release them. They are fun to catch and fight way too hard to just fight once in their lives. 2









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Fly Boss Todd West gives us the draw of shallow water fly fishing for himself and four other fly guys.





Is skinny water the place to begin a fishing there is more to these roots than I have habit, the place we all go to learn and get considered or personally realized. the knowledge we seek to be able to pursue Be it family or fishing staying rooted the gilled torpedoes dreams are made of? to where it all started is key for most. It keeps us grounded. Watching some of Is it the place we return to for nostalgia? the top pros on television giggle like kids Or is skinny water something else? as they catch big crappie and bluegill For some anglers the local watering sparked a thought in me to reach out to holes like creeks, rivers, and farm some top notch anglers I am honored to ponds are the proving grounds in be associated with and get their takes on which they learn to hone their skills. skinny water and it’s magical powers to From patterning fish to choosing the flood one’s soul with childlike emotions. fly or crankbait pattern it all begins in For me personally it is about a pure feeling places off the beaten path for most. I get. That same feeling I had from the I’m sure as you read this visions of your very beginning. I have chased fish and youth race through your mind and I hunted big game for many years now and hope fond memories pop in your mind I still do today, but now it’s different. It’s of a special place long gone or a loved not about giant fish or trophy bucks. It’s one who has gone home to rest. about the journey. The day I was blessed with to yet again chase whatever I was I type this with a smile because I truly have after that day in a place that made me great memories with friends and family on feel like I was on a journey back in time. skinny water. I think these emotions are what keep most of us coming back to these I chased one species of fish for two and places. But after having conversations a half years on creeks and rivers for a with several very skilled anglers I think world record I have wanted for years. 85

I have hunted many places for large bucks and other animals. After accomplishing these self-set goals these task seemed like not such a big deal anymore. I had lost the fire in which my adventures were fed by. But where and how? When did this happen? For me that fire was lost when I quit fishing and hunting for me and started chasing what others deemed a trophy. After a while it finally clicked like a spark in the night. I had lost touch with the roots in which I was planted. The small places nobody knows about that taught me the outdoors. The tiny woods and the skinny water. I quickly realized that the true trophy is the one that makes your heart race and soul fill with pride. Be it a six inch green sunfish or a six hundred pound grouper certain things seem to feed one’s soul.

I fish all over the place and have been blessed to experience fishing from coast to coast working within the kayak fishing industry but I always find myself comparing those places to home. After setting out to see if I was the only one as i previously stated I managed to put together a panel of guys that seem to have some similar opinions oddly enough and we’ve never really discussed the topic together. We hope to keep this panel going and cover a few topics this season to offer you some insight on why we do the things we do and why some of us jump from fly fishing to conventional and back again.


Skinny water is my passion. Navigating tight corridors in my kayak, hiking up streams with friends to fish our way back, getting on some remote places on the local rivers and hitting up farm ponds with my kids is what it’s all about. Being able to truly appreciate each catch for what it is and never feeling like I am missing out.

I am a species junkie myself so I want to catch anything that swims and I get to see multiple species playing on these waters, The enjoyment I get in seeing the bright colors and scrappy fish do their thing after sipping a fly or eating a yerm (what my two year old Tanner calls a worm) I can honestly say I return home with a full heart and an easy soul. I enjoy catching large fish don’t get me wrong and now and then we do but my whole trip doesn’t revolve around finding them.



ZACK WILLIAMS Nothing compares to tapping back into your roots and fishing the exact ways you started as a child. I get to see the look in my childs eyes that my father saw in mine. How do you top that? Can it be done? I don’t really know that it can.

The best way I can truly describe fishing skinny water is this quote. “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, A perpetual series of occasions for hope.” -John Buchan I have been fortunate enough to chase some impressive fish in my life. From Alligator Gar on the Trinity River, White Sturgeon on the Columbia River, to Goliath Grouper in Florida. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t get the same feeling from chasing Redeye Bass and Green Sunfish in the creeks near my home.

You can jump in the car alone, with a friend or your family with very little gear and spend a whole day on the water with little to no hassle. Most times if you see them they see you. It changes the skill set required to catch them at this point and gets you back to a primal feeling sometimes. With family life and my regular job , chasing big fish from my power boat and guiding on the local rivers is very costly and not always the most affordable option for my personal time or my wallet.

Yes the grand road trips are amazing and very rewarding but there is nothing like a few hours on the streams you learned to fish on.

You can literally have the cheapest combo in the world dig up some bait in the yard or whip out a few flies and be fishing in a backwoods paradise for a few bucks in gas. And i’m willing to bet you have the time of your life keeping it simple.

By fishing skinny water you’re taking away expense, the glitter rockets, the chest thumping and showboating, and getting back to a pure thing. It’s fishing at it’s purest form. 87





Standing knee deep in a skinny flow under the overarching bows of hardwoods is one of the finest ways to beat the heat of summer. While other anglers are melting into the seats of their kayaks on a sun-beaten lake, you can stomp around cool, flowing water and self-regulate with the occasional dunk in the waters of a fast running shoal.

Skinny flows usually have a fair amount of visibility and this often makes strike detection very easy. This really enhances the pleasure of fly fishing when you can watch bass track down your fly. Strikes, fights, and catches are up close and personal. Not only do you get the treat of seeing many takes, but many sight fishing opportunities often present themselves.

Another asset of plying skinny water is that with bountiful bank shade lines, cooler water temperatures, and the presence of current, there are always some active feeding fish to find.


SHORT CASTS Although there are plenty of occasions where stealth dictates very long, accurate casts to avoid spooking wary fish, most casts in skinny water are very, very short. That often means roll casts to shade lines, shooting line with one false cast to bank pockets, or high sticking along seam lines in shoals.

Small flows typically hold less large fish than large rivers or lakes depending on water depth and availability of prey. Despite having less numbers of large fish, I appreciate a fish caught in a small flow much more than one caught from a large lake. A ten inch bluegill may not be noteworthy if you have been catching largemouth all day in a pond, but coaxing a big gill into sipping a foam bug while you standing waist-deep in the water with him is an altogether


different experience. When you do tangle with a large bass in a slim creek, you truly appreciate how special that individual fish is and how long it took that fish to reach that size. Smallmouth can take 8-10 years to reach 18 inches in small flows!




The beauty of fly fishing is that it can be as complex or as simple as you want it and creek stalking lends itself to simplicity. I’m talking about ditching my sling pack and stuffing a handful of flies into an Altoids tin. Seriously. This is the kind of fly fishing that I fell in love with 20 years ago chasing bass and gills on Alabama farm ponds.




Man, where do I even begin. It could simply be the fact of seeing epic eats right in front of you, seeing everything come together, or just the simplicity of it. For me it’s a little different.

endocrinologists, and therapists all of whom told me my life now is better suited staying inside. No more lifting over 30lbs, no more outdoor activities, basically no more LIFE.

I’d say I’ve always been attracted to fishing skinny clear waters, but the truth of it is I really didn’t gain a true passion for it until my health took a turn for the worst.

Well after several months of laying on the couch, I decided enough was enough. I needed to learn how to manage my pain and get back outside. My kayak career was pretty much over at that point, besides the once a month death trips I did essentially destroying my digestive system. So what else was there to do?

After a failed surgery on my stomach and esophagus during the summer of 2015, that’s when everything changed. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with several medical conditions such as Gastroparesis, Vagal Nerve Damage, Severe Hypoglycemia, Esophageal Spasms, Dumping Syndrome and several other issues. Doctors have told me I’m a lost cause and essentially this is my life now and the disease will most likely progressively get worse.

Well there sure was an abundance of clear skinny water rivers in the Texas hill country where I was living at the time. So slowly but surely I started fishing the banks and managed to make my way to do a bit more wading. I’d deal with the severe pain and nausea for the opportunity to feel somewhat normal again. There are even times when all of that pain fades away just from being in the water.

Being an avid kayak fisherman, this That’s where my true love and passion for is not something you want to hear. the skinny water has come from. Since Multiple doctors from gastroenterologists, then I’ve fished cold mountain creeks in KBFMAG SPRING 2017

world, it’s clear skinny bodies of water. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing alongside some of the most outstanding gentlemen throughout the country, each of us with a huge passion for skinny water but also our own individual callings to it. I urge you to find yours.


California for big wild Brown Trout, rivers in the middle of the Texas desert for giant Carp and Smallies, shallow flats for Snook and Jacks, and even shallow ponds and canals for exotic fish like Peacock Bass and Mayan Cichlids. If there’s any place in this world that can make me feel normal and truly connected to the



I could write a book about all the reasons I prefer skinny water to the bigger rivers but I would say for me it’s the whole experience that draws me to streams that most people pass by. You see, I started out flyfishing and exploring small spring creeks by my house but as I got older I moved on only wanting to go big on waters systems, fish I caught, flies I tied, and rods I carried. Over time I caught some big bass and trout in big water but the fun, for me, was only had during the quick fight and the rest of the outing would just seem mundane and disconnected. However, even when I was in big fish mode, I still made time to stop and fish small streams and the funny thing is I did it to stay grounded, to brush off a fruitless day of chucking 4/0 bugs on 8wts, and to just enjoy the whole experience of exploring these hidden microsystems. One day the light bulb turned on and I decided to focus on the fishing style that brought me the most joy and that was found in skinny water and the challenges it brings.

The main challenge/fun in fishing skinny water I would say is actually matching what the fish are eating and presenting it without spooking them off. The waters I normally fish are no more than 20-30ft wide at the most and a deep pool is no more than 4-5ft deep. Therefore the rods I fish in these waters are short fiberglass rods (6.6- 7ft) ranging from 4-6wt and they allow for me to make tight quarter, precise casts and offer great tippet protection while giving a great “fish on” feel. As far as food in these systems, the baitfish in these waters on average are only a couple inches long so I carry baitfish patterns from 1/2” up to 4” long to cover my bases there and then I carry a wide assortment of patterns to imitate naturally occurring food such as hellgrammites, crawfish, cicadas, hoppers, frogs, and small rodents. This might seem like a lot to stuff in a fly box but over time my tying has evolved to where I have downsized what worked for me on big water systems to fit the


I don’t know whats more rewarding about that type of experience….knowing you were able to not spook a wary fish in shin deep water, making a perfect cast with your 5wt in close quarters, knowing your fly was successfully tied to behave/look a certain way, or just being able to catch a fish that some

would comment “ couldn’t live in a creek that small”…… I would say all of the above! So whether it’s staying up late trying to design a new downsized articulated streamer, spending a lunchbreak catching dozens of panfish on hoppers, a morning spent stripping mini sculpins thru brown trout territory, or a day spent fishing for the alpha bass of a 15ft wide stream…..skinny water can ( and is for me) the perfect way to take in God’s creation in a very intimate, up close setting and I promise you learn something every time you go…..and that’s in a nutshell why I fish skinny water.


needs on skinny water. That’s been another aspect of skinny water fishing that I get lots of enjoyment as a fly designer from….. Trust me it is a sight to behold to throw a size 6 minnie mouse next to a logjam and have a 14-15” smallmouth come out of nowhere and crush it!





























Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine Spring 2017 Issue  

Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine Spring 2017 Issue

Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine Spring 2017 Issue  

Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine Spring 2017 Issue