BASS FISHING MAGAZINE
THE SECRET NATIONAL CHAMP SHARES
KEY TO HIS SUCCESS
NED RIG ULTIMATE PEACOCKS AN INSIDERâ€™S GUIDE WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
PHOTO ESSAY: TOURNAMENT DAY
KAYAK SUMMER 2016 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 2
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
TABLE OF CONTENTS CATCHING RESERVOIR STRIPERS 18
NED RIG Drew Haerer gives us the ins and outs of a rig fooling the most finicky fish.
WHY KAYAK FISHING Roberto Briones shares exactly why he started and stayed kayak fishing.
WARM WATER BASSINâ€™ John Henry Boatright tells us how to catch fish when the mercury is rising.
MARCH MADNESS Henry Veggian recounts his experience at the KBF National Championship.
PHOTO ESSAY Mark Cisneros captures the moments before the tourney morning launch.
THE SECRET Chris Payne catches up with Matt Ball the 2016 KBF National Champion.
SEIZE THE DAY Chris Funk brings generations of fishing wisdom to remind us what is important.
PHOTO BY CHRIS ST. PIERRE
12 18 20 32 38 46 52
SUMMER 2016 ADAPTIVE KAYAK ANGLERS 56
ULTIMATE PEACOCKS Robwil Valderrey tells us how to catch Peacock Bass from Miami canals.
RIGHT ROD CHOICES Wes Jones talks about rod styles that work best for kayak anglers.
KAYAK TRAILERS Richard Penny talks about trailers and how to rig them out for best effectiveness.
FROGGING ALL YEAR Cameron Simot tells us how we can scratch the itch for frogging all year.
GREAT MOTOR DEBATE Shane Williams discusses both sides of the motor-no motor debate in tourneys.
CUSTOM ADVANTAGE When it comes to fishing, custom baits are being utilized to maximize success.
FLY RECIPE Brandon Bailes gives us a step by step breakdown of an awesome custom fly.
GIFT GUIDE 68
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FLATS FISH 104
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: ROBERTO BRIONES COVER ANGLER: YAZMIN FERNANDEZ STAFF PAGE PHOTO: BRUCE PUNGER CONTRIBUTORS: ROBERTO BRIONES CHRIS FUNK DREW HAERER COREY STANSIFER DREW ROSS RICHARD PENNY JOHN HENRY BOATRIGHT GREG STERLEY BRANDON BAILES WES JONES HENRY VEGGIAN ROBWIL VALDERREY CAMERON SIMOT SHANE WILLIAMS
PHOTO BY MARK CISNEROS
GEAR I DIDN’T
THINK I NEEDED UNTIL I USED IT. I’ve owned a lot of different PFDs in my 13 years in kayaks. I’ve run the range from orange life vests that are basically the throw away junk to some pretty high end stuff like Astral, Stohlquist, MTI and NRS. Recently I was introduced to a newer PFD from NRS called the C-Vest. It is a lot like the NRS Chinook but for the BTB crowd. The added place for a personal light beacon and a front pocket for a VHF radio are the main differences. It’s nice for folks like me who fish saltwater and freshwater and if you can only have one PFD, this could be it for lots of folks. I’ve already had it out in 90 degree heat and the breathable back is a must to prevent sweating right through your seat. This one will probably be in my gear arsenal for quite a while.
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR
Photo by Ryan McDermid
NED THE TINY ASSASSIN THAT NO ONE WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT
vividly remember when I first heard about the Ned rig. On the heels of the A-Rig, I could not wait to see this new, gaudy contraption, which likely had 8 baits, multiple blades, flashing lights, and some sort of sound emitting device. To my surprise, it was what I would define as a grub. Heck, it was a grub without a tail. Not only was it too short to fish like most traditional stick worms, it looked like...well…let’s just say that the original version is called the Z-Man TRD (sound it out). Then, I took a step back. Since I could walk, I’ve been hammering smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River using very similar baits. Plus, the mushroom head has been around forever, even if it had fallen out of favor in my angling circles. Still, I balked at the actual effectiveness of the concept. So what if some guy in a pond in the midwest was catching hundreds of fish a day, but the buzz continued to grow. Then, one random day last summer, I got a text from my good friend and industry pro Eric Boyd. “You’ve got to try this TRD thing”, it said. I was sold.
WORDS AND PHOTO BY DREW HAERER KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
Since then, I’ve been able to experiment with the bait, and clearly I’m not alone. The Ned rig has been partly responsible for multiple tournament victories in both smallmouth and largemouth events, including the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship this year.
The second scenario is when it gets hot during the summer. The heat drives fish deep, and the Ned rig is a great bait for targeting deep schools, ledge fish and shady docks.
In fact, it is a simple and productive dock bait because it is easy to skip and can be fished on Here in New England, I prefer to fish the Ned the bottom or more like a plastic jerkbait. Plus, Rig in three specific scenarios. The first, and it has a slow, enticing fall. The third situation my favorite, is in cold water, particularly in the is in rivers. I’ve had multiple days on the river early spring and late fall. The Ned rig really ex- when the bite is just slow, potentially because cels around drop offs and ledges. Ideally, I look of a front, crazy temperatures, or other unexfor sharp, rocky drops and deep weed lines. pected conditions. Multiple days on the Connecticut River, which is influenced by hydroelectric releases, immediately come to mind. Although I generally fish baits parallel to these areas, the Ned rig is one bait that produces a lot of bites fished perpendicular to structure. However, it always seems like I can get a few I believe that has a lot to do with the finesse bites on the Ned rig, including in pools and aspect of the bait and its presentation, which riffles and around boulders and wood. I’ve mimics a number of types of forage. In cold even caught a few unexpected trout on them. water, I generally fish it slow, but instead of Fishing the Ned rig is easy – ridiculously easy. dragging the bait, I often prefer to work it Although the Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ is the with sharp, erratic jerks in between pauses. most popular jighead, any mushroom-style
head will work. I will note that I prefer a mushroom head with a plastic keeper of some sort, which helps keep the bait on the hook. Then, grab your favorite finesse worm and rig it directly onto the jighead. I prefer the Z-Man Finesse TRD, which is a 2.75” stick grub. However, you can use a variety of baits, with some popular choices including the 3” Yamamoto Senko, 4” Yum Dinger, and a variety of custom poured finesse plastics. Keep in mind that one of the great things about the Ned rig is the way it swims and darts. Small plastics maintain very erratic actions when moved and stand almost straight up on a finesse mushroom head. Larger worms are generally more effective when fished slowly; however, the mushroom head still gives them a unique look and action. I generally make long casts with the Ned rig and randomly hop it back to the boat. By random, I mean that I mix up my cadence and pause length. However, the bait can be dragged, swam, and even straight reeled in some scenarios. After some trial and error, I found that fishing the Ned rig on 6 lb fluorocarbon is the optimal choice for casting distance, sensitivity, action, and abrasion resistance. I fish the bait using a 6’8” Carolina Custom Rod that is specifically made for finesse plastics and jigs. The rod has a stiff, sensitive tip that is perfect for the Ned rig. I pair the rod with an Abu Garcia size 30 reel with plenty of spool capacity and drag force. Although it is often billed as a numbers bait, the Ned rig will catch plenty of bigger fish too and provides a unique look to big, wary bass that can be hard to target. It may not be much to look at, but when the fishing gets tough, don’t be afraid to down size. Grab your favorite finesse set-up and proceed to put the Ned rig into action! 2 KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
FISHING? WHY KAYAK
WORDS BY ROBERTO BRIONES PHOTO BY CHRIS FUNK
any people have asked me “why did you go from the excitement of bass boat fishing to kayak fishing?…Why did you downgrade?…” I’ve heard them all! But I always answer the same way: Life throws you curveballs and you have to learn how to swing at them and hit them successfully! Due to a certain event I was forced to sell my precious Bullet Bass Boat with a 250HP Evinrude engine that allowed me to rip the water at more than 83 mph (GPS), but knowing where my passion is, I was
determined NEVER to stop fishing so I decided to give kayak fishing a go. If you have never tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing! It is a relatively inexpensive sport. And I say “relatively inexpensive” because it can get as expensive as you want it to get, depending on how you want to rig your kayak, but a typical kayak will run from $300 for just a vessel that will keep you floating on the water and take you from point A to point B, up to $8,000 for a fishing-specific kayak, that comes from the store pretty much ready to
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
fish. Your investment will increase the more you accessorize your boat. You can rig a kayak pretty much just like a bass boat. You can add fish finders, mounts for every known gadget on earth, electronic anchors, livewell/baitwell, even trolling motors! Having said all that, the cost of owning a kayak will never compare to the cost of owning a boat. NO TRAILER NEEDED What does this mean for you? Less burnt gas equals more money in your pocket that you can put towards purchasing more gear! As long as you have a good set of roof racks on your car you can transport one or two kayaks with a small auto. Also, this means that you don’t necessarily have to find a boat launch to get to the water. If you can find an opening that leads to the water you can drag your boat to it and start fishing. KAYAKS ARE GREEN MACHINES You don’t need gas or a mixture of gas/oil to run them, making them easy to maintain and environmentally friendlier. As long as your arms are strong and healthy you can run kayaks all day long. Being quieter boats they allow you to be in more direct contact with nature without scaring the fauna that inhabits it. It is amazing to see moose, deer, even bears coming to the edge of a lake or river to take a sip of water or catch the odd fish to feed themselves. You see nature in its purest form. Being able to approach your fishing holes in “ninja mode” means you won’t scare the fish away, therefore increasing your chances of catching that trophy fish!
tributaries start to go down. This means that at that time some fish –lots of them!- get landlocked between fallen trees and beaver dams. These “pockets” of water can hold lots of fish, and big fish! The only way of accessing these pools is by getting off your kayak and pulling it over the humps, portage around or run rapids and keep fishing. No way you’d be able to do that with a motorboat! KAYAKING HAS ONE DRAWBACK As everything in life, kayak fishing has its pros and cons. We have talked about the benefits of this magnificent and rapidly growing sport. The only negative thing I’ve found when it comes to kayak fishing is the fact that you can’t cover as much water as you normally can with a motorboat. You are limited to the number of spots you can hit in a day because the average speed you can reach with a kayak varies between 2-4.5 mph. But taking your time working around a given area gives you countless hours of great satisfaction. As you can see, kayak fishing has more pros than cons. It’s a great way of meeting people that share the same passion for the sport. Tournaments, although serious, are fun and usually end up in social events after the main event. If you haven’t tried kayak fishing I invite you to do it. It’s just like they say in the industry: “Once you yak you won’t wanna go back!” 2
Roberto Briones “DrB” is on social media on Twitter and Instagram @DrBOutdoors. He is a Pro Staff member for Jackson Kayak, Bending KAYAKS ARE THE ATVS OF BOATING Branches Paddles, YakAttack, St. Croix Rods, The one thing I like the most about kayaking is and Orion Coolers the fact that I can fish almost any type of water. Imagine during the summer, after the spring thaw, the water levels of rivers and their 17
IN SEARCH OF A NEW SPECIES: RESERVOIR STRIPERS
words by Greg Sterley KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
ike most people reading this magazine, I am first and foremost a bass guy. But like most fishermen, the tug on the end of the line, regardless of species is what we all crave. So, after getting the bug to try something different I started researching options in my local area. Luckily Central Texas has endless freshwater options for kayak anglers. After hours spent on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website (TPWD.texas.gov), I was dead set on targeting striped bass. Yes, you read that correctly, I did say striped bass. Thanks to TPWD and other volunteer organizations, striped bass are stocked regularly at several Texas reservoirs. While they cannot reproduce in our freshwater lakes, they are still able to thrive and grow to trophy size.
map will cut down on your paddling distances by helping identify structure that will hold bait fish and more importantly, stripers. Look for humps, points and dropoffs with deep water access. I had the most success with humps. A good set of electronics will make locating stripers a lot easier. Stripers tend to hang out in large schools and when you see a school on your screen you will know for sure what they are. And as with many other types of fishing, when you find the bait, you find the predators and stripers are no different. They are never far from their primary forage.
“WHEN YOU FIND THE BAIT, YOU FIND THE PREDATORS AND STRIPERS ARE NO DIFFERENT.”
After an exhausting couple trips targeting stripers on Lake Buchanan, I finally managed to hook up with a few bruiser Not knowing any linesiders. tactics on how to What felt target striped bass, like a 10 lb I again started rebass ended searching online. I up being found out that a lot of traditional black bass gear in my tackle box a juvenille 20” striper. The power of these fish are remarkable and they will put a huge smile. easily crosses over for striped bass. The lures that I decided to primarily use were inline spin- on your face and test your drag systems at the ners, 4-6” flutter spoons and ½ ounce bucktail same time. jigs with 5” swim baits. With the lures picked out I then went to my navionics app to come up with a gameplan. Striped bass are highly migratory and finding them will require a lot of paddling. A good
So if you get the urge to try something new, do some research to see if stripers are stocked in your local area, you will not be disappointed. 2 19
BASSINâ€™ WORDS BY JOHN HENRY BOATRIGHT PHOTOS BY CHRIS FUNK
KBFMAG SPRING 2016
quinting in to the distance you try to locate that last splash. Sweat beads on your forehead and it isn’t even 9 AM. As the morning sun bakes your skin you hesitate to think about going another hour without a bite. Much less another trip without a bite, like that last trip… you knew the dog days of summer could make bass tough to locate but it shouldn’t be this difficult. Right? Let’s consider what the bass routines are during the warmest weather and then we can work on what’s going to tempt them to bite.
similar topwater with good results if presented a little slower the second time. Cloudy and overcast days can lengthen the amount of time bass will stay shallow to feed as this keep the water from warming as fast. During this time bass will cruise flats, along weedbeds and generally will be willing to follow bait. If it looks like a shallow, fishy spot early in the day it’s worth more than a few casts to allow the bass time to find you- especially when the area may be choked with lily pads or other plant cover.
MORNING BITE The water conditions determine where the bass Black bass will also tend to congregate and feed are- this isn’t new. Weather has a factor tootogether in shallow areas. In skinny water bass you’ve heard this also. But what does this all expect to see all sorts of bugs and creatures as mean for summer? As energetic and fast mov- well as bait fish. A bass is more likely to take a ing as the rest of the world is during the sum- lizard close to the shore, in shallow water, than mer months, so are the bass. To keep up with out in the middle of the lake where a smart the caloric expense of existing in warm water, bass has never seen a live lizard. This is a great bass have to find calories to spend them. Bass time to throw those crazy mice, baby duck don’t want to go hungry, so they find a balance. and snake lures. Work close to shallow cover, They feed at the most opportune times (when exposed stumps and logs, brush piles and vegthey’re most likely to find food while spending etation. My first early morning topwater expethe least amount of energy) and bass rest at the rience was in mid-August. I’d never thrown a hottest times (finding cool water to wait and topwater frog but had heard it could be deadly. prey on food that is more scarce midday). The balance exists in feeding and resting. Knowing My third or fourth cast of the day was to a where each occurs and when, is the key to find- mess of brush and my frog landed right smack ing black bass. Knowing why they’re in those in the only open spot in the middle of the locations and what the bass are expecting there brush pile, not 5’ from a steel reinforced bank. helps us choose the proper baits. We’ll focus on The second that frog skirt touched the water a lake and reservoir bass before moving over to 21” Largemouth exploded on my lure. I paused flowing water bass, which can be particularly for a split second, not because I knew to do so difficult to pattern this time of year. throwing topwater frogs, but because I was in such bewilderment of what could have posDAILY PROGRESSION sibly swallowed my frog before I realized she Summer black bass are movers. At first light had dove for the center of the lake, but she was they tend to feed shallow and aggressively. Top- mine. I’ve been hooked on early morning sumwater frogs, buzzbaits and poppers can show mer frogging ever since. impressive displays of aerobatics as bass attempt to annihilate the lure. Missed blow-ups As the sun’s rays penetrate with intensity in the can usually be followed up with the same or a late morning, bass tend to find cover and move 21
to deeper, cooler water where they will spend the majority of the day. During this transition period you may find trends hard to develop and changing fast. Look for black bass to relate to the inner edges of grass mats and cover early and the outer edges later as they continue to move away from shore and to blue water. Working parallel to the edges is most productive, especially erratic grass or algae mat edges that allow bass some pockets to back in to. Working submerged tree canopies, mid-depth brush piles and cover is productive- especially when choosing to throw follow-ups. As bass descend they precede the baitfish and fall deeper- to a bass this means they need to look up for food. A topwater or shallow lure with noise can draw the attention of a submerged bass.
worked along the outer edge of a submerged tree followed by a 10’ diving crank that skims the edge and bounces off the longer branches. As the day wears on the 10’ crank may become the initial lure followed by a deeper crank or a swimming jig presentation. You get the picture… the bass are moving out and deep.
Casting a followup that has more depth in the same direction can be what cures that straight rod syndrome. A favorite of mine is a topwater
A bait dropped on the sunny side can be totally ignored while it could be inhaled on the shaded side of a two foot tree trunk, simply because
MIDDAY BITE Midday bassin’ is the where the rubber meets the road. This is the longest period of the day and typically the bass idle in place. They hardly move. It isn’t worth it to spend the energy chasing food in warm water, so they find a spot in the shade or along cover to rest and prey on opportune meals that chance by. Expect bass to hold real tight to submerged trunks and rocks.
it can’t be seen and the bass won’t go find it. In cooler water bass rehabilitate and try to keep their body temperature ideal. In deeper lakes this can mean bass suspend at a ‘comfortable’ depth. In shallower lakes or deeper rivers they may not have the luxury of finding the ideal temperature, so they’ll find combinations of deep and shaded and will try to ambush prey, like passing schools of baitfish.
is a very effective way to locate black bass in stands of trees. When trying to work deep we usually upsize our lures- meaning they have bigger bills on the cranks or heavier weight on the jigs. Be sure to limit the unnatural splash these lures can make (a little more brake or thumb on a baitcaster, and a flat palm resisting line on a spinning reel). I mention this because unnatural splashes spook smart bass, even at depth. It looks and sounds unnatural. One way to avoid this is to cast into objects. I’ll cast a jig straight at a tree trunk or pylon so the energy is absorbed and it only falls from a height of 1 or 2 feet, making a soft, natural ‘sploosh.’ Allow line to free spool as it falls down the shaded side of the pylon and present the lure as naturally as you can.
Most impoundments have areas with submerged, old growth trees. The shaded side of these trunks can hold bass after bass. Deep cranks in the midst of a stand of submerged Cypress trees has yielded me double hook-ups on crankbaits more than once. Deep swim jigs and erratic shaky heads can pluck the deepest of bass up. Bass are also preying on passing baitfish schools and umbrella rigs are an effec- EVENING BITE Typically the evening ascension of bass into tive way to simulate this action. Vertical jigging, while most will swear is a saltwater tactic, the shallows to feed is a lot quicker than the
“A BAIT DROPPED ON THE SUNNY SIDE CAN BE TOTALLY IGNORED”
morning transition in the opposite direction. Water temps typically don’t cool very much before the sun dips below the tree line and the bass ascend to feed shallow again. Steep walled creek and river valleys allow this transition to happen earlier in the day when receiving early shade… and essentially everything happens in reverse. We start finding the creature baits and topwaters more effective in the evenings, especially when they have noise. I remember being humbled by a fishing friend who I had beat down during the day at his lake… and as the day wore on our luck changed, and he consistently pulled one bass an hour while I went biteless. His last lure of the evening was a buzz bait while I chunked a light lizard to the banks. I knew he had the lake dialed in better than I when his third cast of the buzzbait caught him a 22” Largemouth. I called it a night and paddled in. NIGHTTIME BITE It’s no wonder the success of the working man circuits occurring at evening and early nighttime- it’s a productive time to fish. Average Joe’s show up and see the seasoned vets pulling huge bags and realize that summer night bassin’ is a fun time to catch fish. You avoid the hottest part of the day and can still find bass shallow, which is always easier than deep bass. Typically the evenings are more productive than the mornings, and if folks would stay out late enough they’d find that the dark bite can be just as active. With no light to heat the water or to visually indicate their presence to their prey, bass stalk the shallows, typically in less than 6’ of water. Pitching to the cover along banks or dock pilings can be too much fun for some folks, so they pack up and go to bed I suppose, because they aren’t out there fishing. Don’t forget your 360˚ light, PFD and flashlight.
SUMMER RIVER BASSIN’ You’re on your own here. In a way this is true… and in a way you can apply the lessons we learned from targeting warm water lake bass to your local river too. First, rivers are dynamic and constantly changing. I live 30 minutes from 6 different rivers, and each and every one of them has to be approached differently- especially during summer. One flows hundreds of miles and is impounded at least 5 times near me and has predictable flow. One is an artesian fed recreational mecca that goes from the city feel to the country in a few miles. My point is- don’t think that a technique that worked on one will work on another, just because they’re 5 miles apart. I’ll take a minimum of three presentations during
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
the summer river trips. My reasoning is this- I can find deep pools where cool water settles and fish it like a small lake, or find mid-depth shaded structure and find a few bass hanging out, or even a shaded shallow slack pool where a shallow bass spends his time. So I might find a reason or a location to throw any bait, at any time of day as I meander down the river. Hereâ€™s a few tips for warm water river bassthey still feed shallow early and late and they still find cool water (as cool as they can) for mid-day. Tailraces tend to have cooler water that warms as it travels. Two local rivers are impounded with predictable (or at least monitor-able) releases. While both release water at similar temperatures, one is much more shallow and flows over white
limestone banks while one flows over shaded river gravel with a constant depth. You can imagine how difficult patterning bass can be on the former, where the water temperature can vary 20 degrees between your starting and ending point. The other varies by a few degrees and is easy to pattern throughout the day, as it meanders at a constant width and depth in a monotonous topography. Patterns have to be fluid and a keen focus will serve the fisherman well. Deep pools can hold the majority of your fish. If you run across a deep pool in a typically quick flowing waterway, stop to fish it slow. Warm water bass would rather not expend the energy of fighting currents when they could rest in deeper pools which make the daily traveling from shallow to deep even easier (looky 25
there, a pattern). Often times a deep pool should be fished in multiple rounds. Float it once, paddle back up and float across it again and again. Likewise, a random deep hole, while much smaller than a deep pool, can still have bass stacked up. Don’t hesitate to pop a jig through with a craw trailer. CHANGES IN THE WEATHER Summertime bass fishing can be hot in two ways, if you know how to focus on where the fish are located at which times of day. But you also have to know what forces them to change from their routine. A warm summer rain will cause water temperatures to drop faster than sunlight. If you get a pop up shower late in the evening, you can almost be assured that the bass won’t raise into the shallows until well after dark. Similarly, a nighttime or pre-dawn shower can cool water down quick and keep fish in the shallows longer the following morning. Use sporadic rains to your advantage.
with lingering wind and cloud cover… I’d be on the water lickety split because I know that these conditions can improve summertime bass fishing. Your friends may call you crazy, and you may get ticked off fighting the wind to your favorite hole while rain pelts your face. But remember- if it was easy everybody would be doing it. If it was easy, you’d be in a bass boat, or still in bed. But it isn’t- and that’s what makes it worth it. Kayak fishing is harder in some ways and easier in others, but it is so much more rewarding than any other type of fishing. Don’t let the dog days of summer dog you. Go out there and catch your monster. 2
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Cloud cover and wind can also provide assistance to anglers when played right. Wind and cloud cover don’t allow the fish to visually and physically inspect the lures as well because there’s more going on with less light. While on clear calm days their lateral line can detect imperfections in the pulsing of a frog’s twitch, on windy days the increased turbulence and interference in the water can help diminish the deficiencies of our presentations and get finicky and smart bass to strike. This also applies to cloudy days- with less visible light the fish have a harder time spotting imperfections in the design and coloring. Think about that the next time you notice the weather is calling for an early morning shower KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
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WORDS AND PHOTOS
by HENRY VEGGIAN
here’s a big cove filled with fish on the Kentucky side of your dreams. You know the place: the frogs always sing, the bugs always hatch and the fish always bite. This is a story about how I found that cove in mid-March of 2016 during the KBF Open, KBF HOW and KBF National Championship on Kentucky Lake. It’s also a story about my dog Zeus Lee, the laziest creature to ever grow a hair or chew a bone. It’s a story of rising panic and recovered focus, failed strategy and successful tactic, of risk, redemption and reward.
I arrived in at Paris Landing State Park with two days to practice and four days to compete. The truth is I didn’t know Paris, Tennessee from Paris, France. In fact, the closest I had ever gotten to the lake was when I picked up Zeus from a breeder in Clarksville in 2002. I nonetheless brought Zeus with me for good luck and to see his native Tennessee – probably for the last time. He’s fourteen years old, and I knew I’d have to leave the water early every day to take care of him. This meant I had to stay close to Paris. I spent two cold, windy days pre-fishing Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, executing the most worthless plan an angler ever concocted. I’d spent all winter marking maps, reading electro-shock survey reports and studying forage bases. I’d read every book that ever mentioned fishing in Kentucky Lake and I had even listened to the “Kentucky Afield” weekly fishing reports that are dutifully called in by the regional wardens ( I still do - it became a habit). As the hours passed, I began to panic – bites were scarce, and the only fish I landed was a Smallmouth fingerling that got in the way of a retrieved lure. At first sight, I thought a willow leaf was on my hook. I checked the map, and sure enough, I had travelled 600 miles to Kentucky Lake, but I ended up in Skunkville. There are routine strategies an early spring, pre-spawn angler should know. Rig small jigs to slow fish deeper water and had tied on jerk baits to fish wave-slapped vertical structure. A warm, dark-bottomed flat brings out a spinner bait, and throw shaky heads in clearer water. Fished slowly, and fish hard. I did all this, but my plan’s failure was as cold as the water. By evening of the second day, I was beginning to panic.
my attention out near the Route 79 bridge. In my mind, it was a pack of Striped Bass crashing a school of shad; it turned out to be waves on a sandbar. I looked over at Zeus. Asleep, as usual. But he read my mind as dogs do on their strange wavelength. And he looked up, rose and walked over to his dish. I looked back at the bridge. I turned again to my drooling dog. Food, I thought. I’m not offering the fish what they are eating now. Everything turned in that instant. The KBF HOW Big Bass tournament, spanning four days, would begin the next morning. I checked the weather and noticed the wind, which had been out of the south and west, would drop a bit. It would be mild with partly sunny skies; water temperatures had been cold. Lake Barkley, for instance, was high and stained, with water temps in the low to mid-50’s. By contrast, Kentucky Lake had low, slightly clearer water, and a few more degrees of warmth. Not much, but enough so that the next day’s weather might warm things enough to make a difference. It was time to take a chance.
Revelation arrived that evening. I was in my hotel room at Paris Landing State Park looking at the lake from the window. A friend was shar- If you don’t take chances when you go fishing, ing some very earnest and worthless fishing ad- you really aren’t fishing – you’re following a vice over the phone. But a commotion caught plan. And as every experienced angler knows, 33
the road to Skunkville is paved with great plans. You know the tournament night drill:you’re tired, anxious and you have rods to rig. There is so much gear in the hotel room that if there was a Fraser Fir on the bed, you’d think it was Christmas. I set about to changing lines and tackle and looked at the one and only unopened box. It was marked “Topwater.” It was part of a crazy back-up plan that I had discovered where all such plans are born: the Internet. What could possibly go wrong? Now, why would anyone haul a box of topwater lures 600 miles to fish a cold lake in mid-March? I don’t know why anyone would, but I know why I did. In the course of my research, I’d spoken with an angler who swore by topwater lures for pre-spawn Largemouth Bass - in water temperatures between 52 -55 degrees. And he lived in Tennessee. It initially seemed a “let’s fool the Yankee” sort of joke. But as I checked his social media posts, I realized he wasn’t kidding. Every year, beginning in mid-March, he had posted quality fish with various topwater lures hanging from their lips. When I noticed my topwater gear stacked near my other summer tackle while packing gear for the trip, I thought why not?
hotel that night and said “I hope you’re right, old man.” He licked his chops, finished his dinner and went back to his bed. I checked the weather one last time and pinned the new cove on my map. It was far, but I would give it a try. Regret set in before the coffee had gone cold: don’t second guess yourself, Hank. Don’t listen to your dog, a sandbar and a stranger on the Internet. Besides, there were ten or twelve other anglers at the launch and they had all paddled off fish the main bay’s bluffs and ledges. We can’t all be wrong. As I paddled out to the lake, I was committed to the old plan: fish the vertical structure, work the drop offs and deep water, etc. But a nearby cove caught my eye. I recognized the cove from my dreams. Night fog burned off the lake. A light breeze pushed it back into the woods. The water’s surface was clear and rising Crappie dimpled a creek channel. The sun had just come up, and it back-lit the tree line like a Hollywood set. I stopped to take it in with my eyes and lungs. And then I
And so on the night before official competition on Kentucky Lake I rigged a 7 foot spinning rod with a frog colored Rebel Popper. For some reason, the previous summer I had switched out the back treble hook for one that was dressed with white bucktail. Why that lure? It was the lure that landed my best fish at the final CKA qualifying event that previous September on the day I qualified for the National Championship. It was a completely irrational decision based on superstition to use a summer lure for cold water Largemouth Bass. But I looked at Zeus in the KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
the water was warming. What did not make sense, for mid-March and water temperatures I looked to the sound and saw it rippling from in the mid-50’s, was that the fish were aggressively chasing and striking a top water lure, the bank. I reached back for the rod with the topwater lure on it and dropped the lure slight- in relatively cold water, as the wind picked up ly to the left of the spot. The Largemouth that speed. Within one hour, I had landed over one grabbed it did not hesitate - I had my first fish. dozen Largemouth Bass. At one point I had Not good enough to post for HOW Big Bass, a very hard strike. I thought – “Here’s the big but it was a well-fed 14” fish. The toll road to one,” but I soon noticed that the line was darting one way, then another, then going still. I Skunkville was closed. brought it in: two identical 15” Largemouth Suddenly, the entire cove woke up - or I did. I Basss had punched the lure at the same instant. looked at the other dimples and noticed some They swam in opposite directions, into each were larger and louder than others. Suddenother and into my net. But let the historical rely everything made sense: the wind had been cord show I landed two Largemouth Bass on a pushing shad into the shallow end of the cove. single cast - one on the back treble and one on I made my approach. Fishing in a half circle, the front - on a windy day in mid-March, on a keeping away from the rising fish, I let the top-water lure. breeze drift me by the edges of the strike zone. Here is how I fished that popper. First, I Within minutes, I had bagged three or four good fish including one that stayed in the top watched for surface activity. Then I would cast beyond the active fish, but only barely. This 20 for the entire day. is because I didn’t want to spook other nearTwo things to note: as the day went on, the fish by fish with a splash. To achieve this, I lightly became more active. This makes sense, because pulled back on my cast just as the lure descendheard a sound near the bank. My first thought was “That’s no Crappie.”
ed in flight over the target area. I did this to pump the brakes and avoid placing the lure on top of other rising fish nearby. Then I would let the lure sit a moment, popping it once or twice over to the target. It generally vanished an instant later. If it did not, I would twitchtwitch-pause it - and not gently, either - and that would do the trick. If no fish rose, I would slowly retrieve, and stop. I had about a half dozen fish follow the lure all the way to my kayak, and half of them committed near the end of the retrieve. I noticed certain fish would only strike the lure when it was just below the surface.
three were caught on vertical structure near those creek channels. The fish had moved to nearby structure - but not far.
I left that spot after about two hours and about 25 fish (I stopped counting at 25). I wanted to explore the rest of the area and save that spot. The next day, I returned to fish the same water for the KBF Open. I landed my best fish there, a 21.75” Largemouth Bass that snapped at a Sasquatch Lures Vibe Jig that I fished just below the surface. That big bass placed 13th overall in the HOW event; it was the difference between placing in the money and going home empty handed from the KBF Open. In all, I landed roughly 45 Largemouth Bass from during those two days, and I landed more than 30 of them on that one topwater lure, the rest by slowly retrieved the Vibe Jig about one inch below the surface. The technique was good enough for 13th place at the KBF Open.
This happened because I paid attention to what was happening round me rather than maintaining pursuit of a failing strategy. I paid attention to the wind, found where the shad had been pushed, and presented exactly the lure the fish wanted – a lure that imitated a wounded fish at the surface of the lake. 2
Anglers who fished the 2016 National Championship will remember that a cold front rushed in on the eve of the event. The fish slowed and moved to deeper water - but not all of them. I landed my best two fish on topwater on the first day of competition. Granted, they were mediocre fish, but they were biting in the same pattern despite that it was so cold I could not feel my fingertips or toes. On the second day, the topwater bite had totally died. Where did I catch my fish? Off ledges with a jerk bait, precisely as called for by the original plan. Of the five fish I checked in for my 75” limit, two had come on topwater, and two of the other
When it was all over, I had landed respectable limits in every area of competition. My primary technique was not the result of desperation, but contingency - I had a crazy plan for when all else fails. Granted, while I caught a large quantity of fish, I did not always land quality fish. Considering that some anglers struggled to land limits, and even more struggled to land good limits, I had no choice but to ride that wagon until the wheels came off.
There’s a big cove filled with fish on the Kentucky side of your dreams. If you take a chance and listen to your gut – or your dog – you might just find it.
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
A PHOTO ESSAY
by Mark Cisneros
KAYAK BASS FISHING NATIONAL CHAMPION MATT BALL SHARES WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE FOR HIS RECORD FINISH ON KENTUCKY LAKE IN MARCH
WORDS BY CHRIS PAYNE
Kayak Bass Fishing has its first National Champion and his name is Matt Ball. A humble man whose life centers on his faith, family, fishing, and friends is still amazed at how it all transpired. More than anything, those four things are what Ball attributes to his success. The story however doesn’t start in March when he was crowned. The story starts a few years earlier near the Ohio/ West Virginia border.
The Ball family is a camping family and had for many years used canoes but Matt realized after a couple of times out in a kayak how much easier kayaks would be to haul and use than the larger, less sturdy canoes. After purchasing kayaks from a big box store and spending time on the water Ball and his father thought the idea of fishing a tournament might be fun. Ball’s father wasn’t quite as keen on the idea after several years in power boat tournaments and dealing with drama but decided to give it a go to support his son. A local tournament on the New River was being held by a group called the Mountain State Kayak Anglers. Based in West Virginia the MSKA is based in fellowship, fun and fishing. Ball reminisced about how friendly and inviting the group was at that first event and continues today. He
talks about how much fun he and his father had at that first event and that is what kept them in the sport. After a year of tournament fishing Ball upgraded to a Jackson Coosa HD and speaks very highly of the platform. Some of the features of the kayak helped him navigate the waters in the National Championship when conditions continually changed day after day. From skinny water fishing and fighting wind, the Coosa HD was able to handle it all in stride. While a great tool for him during the two days, it might have been something you canâ€™t buy that actually helped him. That secret weapon? The Mountain State Kayak Anglers. MSKA had travelled with a huge pack of qualified anglers and others hoping to qualify in the last ditch effort at the Open event the day before the Championship. More than 20 anglers shared a large house for almost a week.
Ball talks glowingly about the comradery their group had during the week.
Day Two saw Ball returning to the same area that had produced on Day One. By 8AM Ball had three fish for about 48 inches but he knew he needed to cull to have a shot. He moved a little deeper and culled up to a 17 and an 18.5 inch fish and then the bite slowed. The hours flashed by and he knew it was time for a big swing.
“It could be difficult for a lot of folks being cooped up with a bunch of smelly fishermen for a week but our group just has something special. It’s a bond built over time. We all have a pretty laid back attitude about it all. Don’t get me wrong, we compete and love to win but Switching to a 412 Bait Company Craw on a that’s not all it’s about. “ swing head jig he started picking apart some After Day One was over only about four of the deep structure. Shortly after, the fish he was MSKA anglers still had a legitimate shot at the looking for hammered the craw. win. That’s when the true family that is MSKA “It was on! And once I landed the fish, everything went wrong.” started to shine to the rest of the crowd. Instead of packing up and heading home, most of the MSKA family chose to stay and support The big bass wouldn’t lay right for pictures. After what seemed like an eternity Ball had his their brothers still in the running. good picture and his day was over. “Having those guys there to keep me relaxed. It was almost like one of our cookouts. All the After making the mandatory check in time Ball guys around, getting excited for us. Wanting to went to grab some food. be there. It meant a lot to me.”
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In the judges’ booth, we knew we were at the cutoff for submissions and knew the name at the top was Matt Ball. He however had no idea. To not tip our hand we started calling the anglers in the top ten places to verify fish, double check every entry and start calculating up all the bonus dollars. Ball had gone to grab a bite to eat after check in and was the last angler we brought back for verification. As the top two remaining anglers stood on stage waiting for the winner’s name to flash the MSKA family was crowding the stage in anticipation, hoping their brother would bring the first title of National Champ back to West Virginia. Seconds later the crowd erupted as that hope became reality. Matt Ball had won $32,700! Talking later about his success Ball talked about the preparation that their local tournaments gave them. Using Kayak Bass Fishing’s standard rules of mouth closed and fish positioning allowed them all to practice constantly the proper way to Catch, Photo and Release. The preparation paid off on that final big fish. Ball said he set out to have fun and hope for the best at the National Championship. It started off as a fun trip and ended as an amazing adventure he will never forget. His one regret? His dad was a last minute scratch on the trip. 2
WORDS AND PHOTOS CHRIS2016FUNK KBFMAGBY SPRING
f there is any one trait I have that reflects my father it is my love for a fishing adventure. My dad served in the ARMY and was gone a lot but he flat sure made the most of the time we had together. He figured our time was a bit more important than perfect attendance so on multiple occasions he would check me out for a road trip. We fished the mountains in Colorado, the Gulf around Texas and Florida, the Atlantic around Maryland and Virginia and any lake that struck his fancy along the way. His time and trips built me up from a kid to a man. We fought the unknown, bad weather and all sorts of critters together and I learned to trust him as well as rely on myself. Each time he let me pick the campsite, drive the boat or back the trailer I grew a little bit more.
ven’t we?” It was a question he didn’t even need to ask. He had an awesome life and lived it well, it just ended far too soon. The memories of our times together live on in me and will till I breathe my last. Dad made the most of every moment and taught me to do the same. In my eyes it is better to have a handful of memories than a truck load of wishes. “One of these days” is quite possibly the worst phrase a person can utter. It puts things off to days that we are not promised to have. Make no mistake, I have no issue with dreams or plans for the future. My so called “bucket list” is so full of places and fish species I may not be able to complete them with 2 lifetimes but I am whittling away at it little by little. My goal is to always have a quest in the works; a new place, a new species or an old favorite. There are so many cool places to go and things to catch it gets me fired up just thinking about it!
Even after I got married and started my life apart from my parents, dad kept his love for adventure. We still had our trips when schedules and my time allowed but he had some retired friends that could go anywhere on a whim. It was a hoot getting cell phone pictures of him with trout from Steinhatchee or big painted bream from some unheard of mill pond down in the panhandle of Florida. When he came back I would soak up every detail of the places he had been and the fish he caught. I knew he was having a blast and that made me look forward to those trips where I could join him even more. The cancer shocked us all. We figured he would be around forever. I really thought one day I would be pushing him to the water in a wheelchair. Even while he fought that damned disease he fished and hunted as much as his health would allow. He had to be careful in the sun with the chemo and medicines but he would cover up and fish on. The day before he passed he asked my mom “we have had a good life ha-
The best advice I can give folks is to dream big and live the adventure. Is there a place you have always wanted to fish? Is there a species you have always wanted to catch? Go after it! Better yet, find a friend that dreams big and plan together. Splitting travel expenses and campsite fees is a great way to help keep grand trips within financial reach. I am blessed to have a great friend in Robert Grigg. He is the one fella that my bride trusts me to run all over the southeast with no matter what we have planned. Our quests usually begin with reading an article or seeing a fishing show in a cool place and that lights a fire. We build up our plans, do our research and try to be as prepared as possible. It rarely works out the way we planned it but even that adds to the adventure! Just today he brought up a 3 day float on a river with white sand beaches about 2 hours away
from us. His exact words were “we have talked about it too long, it is time to make this one happen.” That is the same way our Okefenokee swamp trip started, our Everglades trip started and countless other trips through the years. It is the same way with my family, I get a wild hair for a trip and they get ready to go. There is no stopping us when I get the urge to go! Those trips to the unknown have built us into a tighter knit family as well as given us some of the most incredible memories. My experiences with my father influenced my life in incredible ways; I hope my son can say the same one day. Don’t wait, Mr. or Mrs. KBFMAG reader, and don’t let life or time pass you by. Some folks call it seize the day or the moment; I call it living life to the fullest. There is a place out there that needs you to fish it. There is a fish out there that needs you to catch it. There are people that need to hear your stories and see your pictures for inspiration. You only have so many days between your “born on” date and your “dead on” date. Make the most of every one of them. Load up your gear, grab a friend or your family and get after it! 2
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
KAYAK ANGLERS WORDS AND PHOTO BY COREY STANSIFER
or the last couple years, kayak fishing has hit a growth spurt. Whether you feel growth is detrimental or a benefit to the sport, it is undeniable that more and more anglers are opting for plastic boats. As the sport continues to grow, so too does the emergence of several subsets of kayak fishing. There are groups that are human-powered only and those that focus on motorized kayaks. If moving water is your thing, there are tournament trails focused solely on creeks and rivers. Any kayak angler looking to find his or her niche is likely to find like-minded paddlers to share their focus. One subset that continues to grow in participation is the adaptive kayak angler.
I have had the opportunity to fish with several kayak anglers who use a wheelchair when out of the water. I recently spoke with a couple of them to get their insight. Even though all use a wheelchair for mobility, each angler is different when it comes to transfer, stability, comfort, and other aspects of being on water. In this article, we will uncover some common misconceptions, suggest when and how to help, and discuss scenarios non-wheelchair users may take for granted. For those anglers currently using a wheelchair and thinking of trying out a kayak, we will also discuss kayak choices and modifications that may help your kayak angling experience.
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
One of the biggest misconceptions with adaptive kayak anglers is that they need extensive help throughout the entire process. The responses from other people at the ramp range from just staring to being overly helpful as if the angler is unable to do anything themselves. Chances are, if you see an adaptive kayak angler preparing for launch, he or she has done it many times and is following a routine.
Know your strengths and limitations. Determine which water conditions are best for you. Be aware of your surroundings, both out of and in the water. Structure below the surface can be more hazardous than things above the surface.
More often than not, they will have a fishing partner with them who is familiar and experienced in helping them. If you are curious if they need help…ask. There aren’t many things these kayak anglers can’t do, so don’t be offended if they decline the offer for help. For those that I have fished with, the only time help was needed was during the transfer from wheelchair to kayak and vice versa. Another misconception about adaptive kayak anglers is that each person’s degree of stability is the same. My experience has only been with paraplegic individuals. Their stability is due in large part to the level at which they are paralyzed. Without getting too in-depth, the higher up the spinal cord, the less stability he or she may have. There are products available to help with stability concerns including thigh straps and back braces. Choosing the right kayak also plays into the stability concern. Wider kayaks and those offering lower seating, sit-in kayaks especially, provide a place to rest the thighs and also lower the angler’s center of gravity, which in turn increases balance and stability.
Seat time will lead to confidence on the water. Not only do anglers who use a wheelchair adapt well to kayak fishing, they tend to thrive in the environment. Paddling becomes natural to the adaptive kayak angler as the upper body strength and endurance used for the wheelchair is transposed to paddle strokes. Of those I’ve spoken with, all have described a feeling of independence and peace when pushing off the shore for the first time. For those looking for additional support or opportunities with adaptive kayak angler, there are several organizations that should be noted: Heroes on the Water (HOW) www.heroesonthewater.org National non-profit helping veterans enjoy the therapeutic qualities of kayak fishing Patricia Neal Rehab www.patneal.org Rehabilitation program teaming with kayak outfitters to provide therapy in an aquatic setting
If you are a wheelchair angler and are interested in pursuing kayak fishing, here are some National Wheelcats helpful tips provided by adaptive kayak anglers www.nationalwheelcats.org Organization providing angling opportunities to get you started: for those in a wheelchair Demo and choose your kayak wisely. Don’t sacrifice stability for speed.
Disabled Kayaking Enthusiasts Facebook Group Adaptive kayak angling community online 2 57
ULTIMATE A KAYAK FISHERMAN’S FLORIDA GUIDE
f you ever feel like traveling to the heart of Miami to chase the colorful and powerful peacock bass, there are a few things you will want to know. This will guide you through the endless miles of canals in South Florida so you can efficiently and successfully land these interesting cichlids. Cichlids? Yes, Peacock Bass are not actually “bass,” they resemble in body shape to a bass but they are actually the largest species of cichlids. It is important to know cichlids are aggressive and territorial, and if we understand what it is that triggers their territorial instinct, we have already won half the battle. Since these fish are
extremely territorial they often hit baits just to protect their personal space and territory. There are two species of butterfly peacock bass in South Florida, the Cichla Ocellaris and the Cichla Monoculus. They are very similar in size and coloration, just remember the Monoculus will have black dorsal fins and Ocellaris will have light green to light blue dorsal fins. As peacocks grow in size their feeding habits and behaviors change drastically. Early in their lives they travel in schools feeding on everything that comes across their path. I call them “cruisers” as these fish travel several miles daily. Cruisers are in the in the one to three pounds range and can be found mixed in with
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
PEACOCKS WORDS AND PHOTOS BY ROBWIL VALDERREY
largemouth bass of the same size. Lures that create a large commotion and disturbance in the surface are a lot of fun to use for these fish. My personal favorites are topwater propeller baits such as the 3.25â€? Riproller from Highroller Lure Company. These lures are perfect in size and their action is simply amazing. Peacock Bass tend to like shallow water no deeper than 8 feet. Target banks and around ledges on drop offs. Work topwater lures in a rip-pause-rip motion, trying to be as loud as you can to attract the schools. Make sure you have deliberate pauses as these fish will attack hard at a moving target when afforded the opportunity, often catapulting the lure several feet up in the air.
If topwater is not necessarily your cup of tea you can always use a Rat-L-Trap to cover the same areas efficiently while attracting fish using the commotion caused by the rattle to help them locate your bait. Once peacock bass reach the three pound range they often leave the schools to find a mate. It is common to see a male peacock paired up with a female slowly swimming along the shoreline. From May to late August peacocks are in full breeding season and several beds can be found along the shore line. While breeding these fish are in the four to seven pound range and will put your tackle to the test if you get them to bite. Once peacocks have a mate they prefer not to travel much. They find a spot in a 59
canal or lake and guard it making them excellent targets for sight-fishing. Areas with underwater vegetation mixed with rock ledges, man-made structures such as docks, and sandy bottoms with over-hanging vegetation are usually preferred by these fish for building their nests. The use of suspending baits will allow you to cover those areas without getting snagged, but at the same time you will be able to slowly swim the bait around their area of responsibility often producing a strike. Unfortunately their territorial nature is also their weakness. Anglers who target beds taking both fish away lower the chances of fry hatching and fish reaching full adult size. If you come across a bedding peacock bass pair, do the right thing and catch only one of the two allowing the other to stay guarding the eggs or
fry until the other one finds its way back. The initial strike of a peacock bass is often the most powerful. These fish have a large and strong tail so make sure to use strong hooks to prevent them from bending. The same goes to your knots, if they donâ€™t look right, you should probably re-tie. Everyone has their personal taste in how to set the drag but I like to have mine at 6 in a scale from 1 to 10. Why? As I mentioned before, the initial run is very powerful, I want to be able to set the hook but avoid getting my hooks bent and possibly lose the fish. Some of the best areas to fish for peacock bass in Miami are great for kayaks. Just about every canal and lake south toward Homestead to as far north as the lower end of West Palm Beach County will have peacock bass. My favorite
ROBâ€™S PREFERRED GEAR FOR CHASING
ST. CROIX MH 7ft ROD
DAIWA LEXA 100 KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
spots to fish for peacocks are Blue Lagoon Lake, just south of Miami International Airport and the C-100 canal down in the city of Kendall. If you want to fish Blue Lagoon, there is a local boat ramp located at 7th Street called Antonio Maceo Park. You can easily launch your kayak there and park your car free of charge. Another area that I highly recommend for peacock bass fishing is Delray Beach, visit Lake Ida, which has shown an increasing peacock bass population over the last 2 years. Peacock bass are originally from South America. Brazil and Venezuela which are right at the Equator, which makes them tropical fish used to water temperatures higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. What does this mean? Peacock bass are extremely susceptible to cold water temperatures, and while 75 degree water might
not be considered “low temps” for some folks from the north, these fish will become significantly less active during the colder months of the year. Also, when cold fronts are predominant and the sun is out for fewer hours of the day. If you plan to make your way down here specifically to target peacock bass make sure you do it from mid-April to late September. However, if you are in the area during those “colder” months, fish can still be caught with slow presentations and live bait such as shiners. Pack your gear, load your kayak, and head on down to South Florida. While here, don’t forget to try some Cuban coffee and some Venezuelan arepas otherwise your trip will be incomplete! 2
SOUTHERN FLORIDA PEACOCK BASS
50 POUND BRAID
3.25” RIP ROLLER 61
ROD FOR THE FIGHT WORDS BY WES JONES
orking at a sporting goods store in the fishing department, almost everyday, I get asked which rod and reel combo should I get? It can be a daunting task to choose when there are rods everywhere, some only 3 feet long and some that almost touch the ceiling, some are thinner than a pencil and some that could be mistaken as a broomstick.
The power could be debated, but I’ll tell you why I say medium-heavy. For me, it is a kind of “middle of the road” power and can still be used for applications where a medium-power rod would be ideal (dropshot, weightless wacky rig, shakey head) as well techniques where a heavy-power would excel (flipping, swimbaits). This rod can also be used to soak bait for panfish and trout to reeling in good sized stripers and catfish. This rod can excel with spinnerbaits, jigs, Carolina-rigs, lighter pitching and flipping, big worms, topwater, and many other lure and techniques. As I had said earlier, it isn’t the ideal rod for all applications, but it can manage its way through many techniques to allow you to fish a variety of ways until you are ready to diversify your arsenal with rods that will cover the full gamut of techniques and presentations.
And every time I am asked that question I reply by asking, “What type of fishing do you plan on doing?” Will you be tossing soft plastics on a Texas rig? Will you be bouncing crankbaits off of cover? Maybe you plan on catapulting a tennis shoe (a.k.a. large swimbait) for monster bass? Or a combination of many techniques and lures? It matters because not all rods are built the same and they are all better suited for different situations.
So what do you do when you are ready to pick up a second or third rod (or any thereafter)? The same question I asked at the very beginning applies here as well, but this time you are most likely looking to find a rod that is more technique specific. With that in mind, there are three different paths you can choose from: Finesse, Reaction, or Heavy Duty. To help choose from these options I would try and determine which type of fishing or techniques that you tend to favor, have been doing the most, or would like to learn next.
More times than not the individual is looking to pick up their first rod, or looking for a good rod to start bass fishing and I always start by showing them the same type of rods. These are the rods that if I was to own only one rod, it would be one of these; A 7 foot medium-heavy power rod that has a fast action. I would recommend a spinning rod more often than not, but if the angler is willing to give a baitcaster a chance I would recommend it over a spinning outfit. This length of rod is ideal in almost any situation and probably the most common length used amongst fishermen.
If you find yourself fishing soft plastics or small baits regularly, or maybe you want to just get better at it, then I 63
would recommend picking up a rod best suited for finesse fishing. A 6’10” to 7’1” medium power fast action spinning rod would be and ideal fit for tackling these techniques. Finesse fishing is synonymous with lighter lines and smaller hooks and baits.
berglass and graphite mix) and graphite as well as the full range of lengths. Personally I would go with a 7’ to 7’3” medium-heavy power baitcasting rod with a moderate action to start. Now, graphite or composite? Depending on who you ask you will get different answers, but I would recommend a composite especially if you’ll be using baits with treble hooks.
USING BAITS WITH TREBLE HOOKS? TRY A COMPOSITE ROD.
A longer rod helps with the casting of these light baits that don’t weigh much and it also aids in the landing of fish. The medium power is great for lighter lines and allows anglers to use the rod the to fight and tire the fish which also puts less stress on your line. Be sure to pair these rods with a reel that has a good and well adjusted drag to allow the fish to run and dive when they so choose.
If you are the angler that loves to (or wants to get better at) tossing hard baits or lures that are retrieved through the water column rather than those that are fished slowly across the bottom; a Reaction type rod is what you should be looking to get. This is probably the category where you will find the largest variety to choose from, and will include both composite (fi-
If would rather a graphite rod, be sure it is moderate action. Both composite or moderate action graphite rods allow for the absorption of any thrashing or short striking that will allow the fish to get hooked and stay hooked without the bait ripping or tearing free when you set the hook or are fighting the fish. Also these more limber rods allow you to cast these baits a country mile and cover more water when necessary. If you decide that you would like an additional reaction rod you can go shorter or even longer in length. Shorter rods (6’9” to 7’2”) are often better suited for swim jigs, smaller crankbaits (like squarebills), or jerkbaits.
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
Longer rods (7’4” to 7’11”) are ideal for medium to large crankbaits which aid in increasing casting distance to allow these bigger baits to dive to their proper depths and stay in them longer. The last type of type of rod category would be Heavy Duty. This is the category that most often is synonymous with big fish! From close quarters heavy cover flipping to throwing big swimbaits, you don’t want to be ill prepared with improper gear when that big girl bites! For a rod to get started in this category I would select a 7’6” heavy power fast action baitcaster.
your action from to fast to moderate or moderate-fast. Some anglers like a longer rod for flipping around heavy cover as it can give them more leverage for working big fish out of the cover, but for flipping they’ll stick with the fast action.
For punching mats however, some prefer to use a moderate-fast action to aid in keeping the fish pinned without ripping or tearing out the hook when using such stout hooks, heavy braided line, and earth shattering hooksets. For swimbaits it can be beneficial to have a more forgiving rod, like a moderate action, with the large baits and hooks being used to With this rod you can flip heavy cover, punch aid in the shock absorption from the ripping mats, drag heavy jigs, heavy Carolina rigs, lug and thrashing from big fish that can be caught a variety of swimbaits, and get in on some top- on these baits. water frog action! These rods are stout and are used with heavy lines to give all of the advanOnce you’ve got one or two (or more) from tage to the angler, so that they can horse mon- each category you can start to fine tune to your ster fish in with ease. A fast gear ratio is ideal preferences and/or get even more specific to the most of the time with these rods to help crank lures/presentations that you will be using. You the fish in as fast a possible, giving them little may decide that you might prefer a shorter or time to run and get off! maybe longer rod for a particular application maybe you would like a stouter rod or a fastAbout the only time a slower gear ratio would er action for that presentation. The sky is the be used with these rods is for slowly retrieving limit and every angler is different. The best swimbaits. So if you are wanting a reel that thing you can do is get out there and fish and can give you best of both worlds stick with a figure out what you like and what suits you 6:1 ratio reel. If you decide you would like an best. Like many other things in the world you additional Heavy Duty rod, longer is the only want to make sure that you have the best tool route to go (unless you would like a shorter for the job rather than trying to “make do” rod for topwater froggin’). A rod up to 8’ is with what you’ve got and end up with sub par what you’ll be looking at, but you may change results and disappointment. 2
FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE
Lew’s Custom Lite Speed Stick $159 With Lew’s® combined experience with tournament fishing and rod manufacturing, they’re able to make the Custom Lite Speed Stick® Casting Rod super lightweight and sensitive without sacrificing durability. The blanks have multiple layers of HM85 graphite, running in multiple directions, using Lew’s Power Core construction for super strength. Stainless steel guide frames share the same characteristics of the rods, being both durable and lightweight; titanium oxide inserts reduce line friction for long casts, and increased line life. Lew’s exclusive SoftTouch skeletal reel seat puts finger in direct contact with the blank for maximum sensitivity, and is corrosion free. Winn® polymer split grips provide a non-slip hold in wet conditions. The Lew’s Custom Lite Speed Stick Casting Rod comes in technique specific actions, which serve for multiple techniques as well.
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Shimano Curado 70 $199 For 25 years now, the Curado continues to be the go-to baitcasting reel for bass and walleye, red fish and trout. Now offered with a new compact Hagane Body and a new model size perfect for pitching, flipping and casting lighter lures, the Curado 70 also features an enhanced SVS Infinity braking system designed for finesse and flipping techniques. X-Ship Technology provides even more smoothness and durability – just as anglers have expected from Curado reels for more than two decades.
FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE
River2Sea Whopper Plopper 90 $14 Whopper Plopper 90 is the little brother of our larger versions; but don’t let its little package fool you, this bait has a serious little man’s complex. Built with the same durable construction as the rest of the line with Xtra Strong components including hook hangers, wires, and X-Strong size 4 treble hooks. This smaller version is made tough to battle bigger foes. While his big brothers rely on powerful chops of their tail to attract strikes, the Whopper Plopper 90 relies more on quickness, with a unique sound more reminiscent of a buzz saw, Whopper Plopper 90 is tailor made for topwater fishing in high pressure situations and when the forage base is smaller.
SPRO BBZ-1 RAT 30 $21
Tested and perfected over the last two years by Spro pro-staffer and lure-designer, Bill Siemantel, the Spro BBZ-1 Rat is the most lifelike rat imitation to ever hit the market. Perfectly sized, the Spro BBZ-1 Rat features a single-jointed rodent profile and a durable square bill that offer an effortless “walk the dog” action and a gentle wake that humps along the surface.
GSI OUTDOORS Glacier Stainless 1 L Vacuum Bottle $35 With its sleek design and clean construction, this high-spec, durable Glacier Stainless Vacuum Bottle will keep your beverages hot or cold for hours and hours. Perfect for commuting, picnic, sporting events and base camping. The high spec vacuum keeps your drink hot or cold for 15 hours. A non-slip rubber boot helps to keep the bottle upright. A one-piece, pour-through lid minimizes spillage and heat loss. and a streamlined design makes it easily packable. The Glacier Stainless lined Cap Cup provides clean drinking.
YETI HOPPER 30 $349 YETI’s are known for being indestructible and keeping things cold. And the Hopper 30 is no exception. It’s the first 100% leakproof portable cooler that’s built for the long haul and is insulated to keep ice for days. It’s reliable. It’s convenient. Easy to carry and designed for those on the go. It’s well-suited for a weekend at the ranch, a BYOB dinner at the Salt Lick, 18 holes on the golf course, or a day on the water. Not your ordinary soft-sided cooler. And like all YETI products, built for the wild.
Costa Motu 580G Sunglassses $249 Take a break from the clear salt flats and anchor up at a small motu. These islets made of crushed coral sand are the perfect spot to have a cold drink or two while you plan what not to do for the rest of the day. These frames have a relieved face curve for total comfort and an optical-quality spring hinge leaving nothing to worry about. The Motu features a comfortable medium fit with an optical spring hinge. The Motu’s are made with a heavy-duty TR-90 nylon frame and includes hard case. With 100% UV light blockage for max protection,100% polarization kills reflected glare and reduces eye strain. Built by hand and backed for life, every pair of Costa Sunglasses includes a limited lifetime warranty. Plastic lenses are lightweight, impact- and scratch-resistant while glass lenses have the greatest clarity and are scratch-resistant. This style is prescription ready.
YakAddicts Performance Fishing Shirt $35 The YakAddicts popular new hoodie graphic is now available in a shirt! The performance model of the long sleeve shirts are designed for advanced protection from the elements. The performance shirts provide moisture wicking as well as protection from sun and wind, all while being incredibly comfortable! If you’re looking for comfort and performance, the YakAddicts long sleeve performance fishing shirt has got you covered.
NRS Guide Shorts $60 Boaters need a boating short, not a surfing or hiking short. The rugged, comfortable NRS Guide Short is the perfect choice for kayak fishermen, raft guides, canoeists and other boaters. The 4-way-stretch Element™ material is comfortable in the boat, dries quickly and stands up to the rugged demands of life on the water. The five-pocket design - two side, two thigh and a back - gives you plenty of places to stash your stuff. The adjustable 1” nylon webbing waist belt keeps them riding just right and a zippered fly with waist button for ultimate convenience. A personal favorite of the editors, these shorts are the absolute go to for summer fun on a kayak. If you need more sun protection, checkout the guide pants which are convertible from long pants to shorts and have an articulated knee stitching that doesn’t bunch up or stretch too tight.
Motorola T600 H2O Two-Way Radios $100 Stay in contact with others, even out on the water, without the need for cell service with the T600 H20 Two-Way Radio from Motorola. This pair of radios features a waterproof, floating design so you can feel comfortable about taking them out in the canoe with you. Once in the water, they float face up and the built-in LED flashlight activates to make finding them easy. Using FRS/ GMRS channels, they have a range of up to 35 miles. The 22 channels and 121 privacy codes create 2,662 unique combinations so you will always have a clear channel. NOAA weather radio keeps you updated with real-time weather and alerts to warn of possible dangers. An emergency alert button transmits an alert siren followed by spoken or incidental sounds to warn others of your peril, and the built-in LED flashlight provides white or red light in emergencies.
READERSâ€™ PHOTO SHOWCASE
FAMILY FUN & FISHING from Geoff Luckett
from Jimmy Rea
m Lee Potter from LK McCray from Chris Ritchie
from Brandon Henning
from Kevin McCullogh
from Marty Mood
from Colby Black
from John Henry Boatright from Michael Allen
from Drew Russell
from Jon Jackson
from Chris St.Pierre
from Casey Reed
from Eric Marcantel
from Craig Dye
TRAILER RIGGING WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RICHARD PENNY O
ne of the reasons many people get into kayak fishing is for the ease of transportation. It is a key factor over owning a boat. Throw the kayak in the bed of the truck, on top of the car or SUV on a rack system and off to the water you go. That is the way I started a few years ago and to this day, my coworkers refer to my Chevy Tahoe as “The Fish Commander”, as it frequently has one, if not two kayaks on top. With the back seats removed and fishing gear loaded up, I am damn near always ready to get out on the water if the opportunity presents itself. This freedom is something the boat owner longs for, and we live. KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
After a few long road trips, combined with both of my younger kids wanting to be on the water with me, I knew I needed more flexibility and room for more than two kayaks. With that in mind I started looking into trailer options. Other people that I have spoken with are just tired of lifting their boats onto the top of the vehicle, own a kayak that weighs over 100 lbs. or just like the option of leaving everything setup and ready to roll at a moment’s notice. Whatever your thought process is, adding a trailer into your arsenal is a viable option to consider. Here are a few of the things I experienced as I went down this road, hopefully it gives you some insight if you find yourself in the market for one. At the time I decided to invest in a trailer, Yakima and Malone had offerings on the market and of course there were a few “knock-offs” of those as well. Like most of us though, I was on a budget and realized that this investment would not be a replacement for my normal setup, merely an option when the need would arise. YouTube videos offered a variety of ideas, from converted jet ski trailers to the ever popular Harbor Freight Utility Trailer. After a month of research, I found a customized stand-up Jet Ski trailer on Craigslist and after a few measurements realized that it would fit the bill. So after a couple of months of playing around
with the trailer, I was on the road once again for a tournament when a dealer did a quick YouTube video of the modifications I had done. At the time, I honestly did not think much of it. He told me I should look into making them and complemented me on the design and ideas I had incorporated. Appreciative of the compliments, I went on my way. I already had the next phase of modifications in my head when I had finished the ones he was raving about, so I did not think it was a big deal. With over 4500 YouTube views, it does not take one long to realize how quickly our sport is growing, as is the need and/or desire for trailering. Kayak trailers are quickly becoming another standard in our sport. Today, several companies are redesigning their trailers to better accommodate our growing market. While Malone and Yakima already offer a lightweight and easy to store trailer, companies such as Tennessee Trailers are kicking it up a notch, by building solid square tube framed versions that boast a multitude of features and they will configure them to your needs. It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to options on a trailer as well, with the only limit being your imagination. LED LIGHTS LED Lights are a great addition to your trailer, especially when getting things set up in the early morning. Mine have come in handy more often than I thought they would. FRESH WATER WASH DOWN I have seen a few guys with wash down tanks in the bed of their trucks and just could not let this idea pass. I was less concerned about the lake “residue” that was stuck to my boat during my fresh water trips as I was the salt water and sand that adhered itself. I had also noticed a fading in the paint on the roof of my truck
where salt water would inevitably drip. So it seemed a quick rinse down was a no-brainier. My answer came from Harbor Freight at a cost of just over $80.00 after a coupon. ROD HOLDERS I have seen a few of these around and it seems they are getting more popular. While I keep my rods stored inside my vehicle, others have gone a different route with PVC pipe up to 10 inches in diameter. And how cool is it when your trailer comes rolling into the parking lot looking like it carries a couple of Torpedoes? Other options include: Heavy duty axles, Swing away tongue, custom wheels, additional storage box or boxes, dedicated cooler mounting and yes…even a dedicated location for a grill! So whether you are building your own trailer, buying one already made to your liking or modifying one you grabbed off of Craigslist, keep in mind your options are only as limited as your imagination. If you think it should be there...add it. If it does not work, remove it and start over. Remember, our needs drive the market. We only need to get behind the wheel…or paddle in this case! See you on the water. 2
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
Spend less. Adventure more.
13f t Kayak Hero S eat Paddle Rudder A dventure
SEA GHOST 130
FROGGING THROUGH THE
BY CAMERON SIMOT
fishing. The most aggressive fish will be the ones just preparing their spring spawning rituals. This will be occurring along shallow flats, backs of coves, or any other hard bottom adequate for spawning. You may specifically want to target overhanging brush, or any other abnormal structure in the water, this is where bass tend to spawn because of the added protection. A simple walk-the-dog hollow body frog will catch fish, but a loud popping SPRING Spring is generally regarded as the “beginning” frog will often prevail over the standard hollow body. This slower, more erratic bait will often of the frog fishing season. Depending on where you are in the country, the bass could be entice strikes from aggressive pre-spawn bass. in the pre-spawn, or already in the spawn. This Don’t fear away from stopping the bait in the areas with a higher potential of holding a fish, is the time when bass are the most territorial, this slight break in the action could be enough in turn, they don’t really enjoy a frog swimto push a big bass over the edge. ming around their territory. This provides anglers a chance to enjoy some explosive frog fishing. The females are starting to feed more SUMMER Summer is the season where anglers around the heavily to gain energy to survive the rigors of country begin to break out their frog fishing the spawn. gear. The big rods, fast reels, and heavy line. This is the time where the milfoil, lily pads, Anglers will want to decide where to target hydrilla, and other weeds, reach their peak these aggressive bass, as with any method of rog fishing is often sought out as one of the most exhilarating ways to fish for bass. Nothing gets your heart racing like a giant bass crashing on your topwater bait. This bait carries much prestige throughout the hot summer months, but with a little knowledge, it can be just as effective throughout the other seasons.
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
growth. Bass are often found in these weeds not only for comfort, but as an ambush point for prey; such as frogs. This is a great time to get into the slop, and power fish your favorite frog bait, to catch tons of fish. During the summer, I personally like to fish with soft plastic body frog that has to be rigged. Generally, I use a Zoom Horny Toad, but there are many other brands to choose from. You also have to rig this with a large, usually 5/0, EWG superline hook. As many anglers, I toss the frog across all the grass and other cover I can find, and quickly reel it over any obstacles. This is a great way to work a frog bait very fast, and cover water to find concentrations of bass. Summer is also a great time to build confidence, because you can get into large numbers of bass. Once you build some confidence in your frogs, don’t be afraid to upsize frogs! Lastly, while working the heavy grass, have a craw baits rigged on a texas rig. Often times fish will miss the frog, but a wellplaced pitch can offer a redemption run at that same fish.
WINTER Unfortunately, the winter offers up a time where frog fishermen are stuck. Either unable to throw frogs, or throw them with to no avail. Although winter isn’t good for froggin’, it is a great time to order new frogs, check over hooks, trim legs, or simply organize all your beloved frog baits. Frogs are an effective way to catch bass throughout different parts of the year. If an angler knows how to utilize the versatility of these baits, they can prevail as a stand-out frog fisherman. Being a frog fisherman can be very frustrating, but with simple practice, and knowledge, it can become second nature for any angler. 2
FALL As many anglers know, fall can often be a tough time to find bass. Even though the bass may be tough to find, if you do find them, you can find yourself on a goldmine. Frogs offer a way to cover a lot of shallow water on these seemingly slow fall days. During the fall, bass are often gorging to prepare for the upcoming winter. During the fall there are a couple things you can do to put yourself on some more frog-willing bass. The number one thing an angler can do, is look for the grass that is greener than the rest. The fall is when weeds begin to die, if you can find that somewhat healthy grass still, there is a good chance the bass are still using it. The fall is also a good time to try those spots that might have been overlooked by other frog fisherman. It never hurts to let fish see a frog that haven’t already. 87
The Great Debate 2
Should motors be allowed in tournaments? Words by Shane Williams
o motor or not to motor? Or more specifically, to allow motors or not. This debate has gotten so heated amongst tournament kayak anglers that even Hamlet wouldn’t touch the question. The argument has superseded the “Ford vs Chevy” moniker as cries of unfairness and the very integrity of the sport are called upon. Those against the use of motors in tournaments have reasoned that motors take away one of the differentiating factors of kayak fishing from power boat fishing, “Why not just get a johnboat?!” Still others say it provides too much of an unfair advantage over paddlers.
the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship set for March of 2016 on Kentucky Lake. This single tournament would have the biggest payout and largest turnout of the best freshwater kayak anglers in the country! When it was officially announced that electric motors were fair game for this milestone event, I knew this would be the ultimate proving grounds for either side.
Before we get to the outcome, let me set the stage of this 2 day tournament. During practice, anglers enjoyed temperatures of mid 70’s, blue bird skies, and calm winds. I fished with nothing on but my PFD most of the week Those with electricity doing the leg work claim (Not true but hey, you pictured it). That Saturthat it is not as big an advantage as one would day, day 1, was a complete swing. Temps dove to the 40’s and didn’t go much higher than 50 think and not unfair, as the option is open to any competitor. “You still have to catch the fish all day. The slick water began churning as wind picked up. Day 2 made us long for the conwhen you get there!” has been a common reditions we saw the day before. Now the merbuttal. Back and forth the opinions fly! cury crept up only to the 30’s and the wind, Meanwhile, during the 2015 season, the guys now gusting 20, 25, sometimes 30 mph, had at Kayak Bass Fishing were planning the biggest event in sweet water kayak fishing history: the main lake rolling with four foot waves and
Photo by Shane Williams 89
white caps. Combine the wind, waves, and the freezing temps and you had a nightmarish mix of weather that pushed every angler to the extreme. Surely, in these conditions, the motored crowd would soar above the competition right? Well, yes and no. Most kayak anglers are inherently opportunistic. We find better fishing because we can go where most boaters can’t. We sneak up on fish where a bigger boat would spook them. We are patient, we work an area thoroughly. We find a way to catch fish when others may not be able to. This mantra held true during the championship.
chor Lock. This system uses an angler’s GPS coordinates to keep your boat in position; something the paddlers were struggling to do, with each adjustment taking away from their fishing. AJ noted that he was able to make much more casts than his paddling counterparts. However, his Mirage Drive did the work of getting him to his location, as he was able to pedal faster than the trolling motor could move his craft. Once there, he initiated the anchor lock. AJ did feel that he could have used his legs to pedal the kayak in place and maintain his spot if the motor were to fail. In these conditions, at this location, he had the advantage. So case closed right?
If you paddle your kayak and the main lake has waves so tall they’re casting shade, what do you do?
AJ Mcwhorter was able to secure his top ten finish by fishing an area on the main lake that paddlers had to back off of due to the high winds. He was in a Hobie Pro Angler with an electric motor that had an option called An-
Not so fast. If you paddle your kayak and the main lake has waves so tall they’re casting shade, what do you do? You stay the heck away from the main lake! Matt Ball did just that.
Photo by Codey Perrone KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
When asked about the motor versus man power, Matt quickly answered that a motor would not have made a difference to him. Matt found an area with big fish on the other side of a massive mud flat. His fishing buddy had to raise his drive up and paddle to cross this part of the lake.
Apart from 1st and 2nd place, one other top ten angler was exclusively paddling. Six moved their craft via pedals, and one used an electric motor strapped to his paddling kayak. Those with pedals were able to fight the wind and fish hands free with little fatigue, same as the motored crowd. The paddlers made their cheese by Matt summed his experience up simply, “I just fished where I didn’t have to deal with the staying away from situations where they would be disadvantaged. Unfair? Both groups were... big water.” The result? Matt took home over $32,000 becoming the first Kayak Bass Fishing say it with me, opportunistic! National Champion. And he did it without a They fished, not only their strengths, but the motor. Clint Henderson was right on Matt’s strengths of their vessels. If you plan on fishing heels and took home the second place trophy next year’s national championship, with over with a good bit of cash as well. I asked Clint $100,000 in prizes, good news: you have severthe same question I asked Matt. “Of course I would have enjoyed the ease of a motor with all al options! Bring a pedal kayak and fish hands the wind, but the ATAK did well enough. If I free; Strap a motor to your kayak and sip your would have had a motor, I may not have stayed coffee as you cruise across the water; Or grab where I knew my fish were. Paddling forced me your paddle and make your old fashioned way to that secluded spot that no one else knows to stay where I needed to be.” exists, and bring home one giant paycheck! Both Matt and Clint bested the field by taking Sounds fair, right? 2 advantage of the equipment they used.
Photo by Michael Ernst 91
CUSTOM HOW TO GET YOUR HANDS ON AN ADVANTAGE
WORDS BY CHRIS PAYNE PHOTOS BY JOHN HARLEY- FISHING ONLINE.COM
ow do you get an advantage when the same bodies of water are constantly pounded by the same lures from the big box stores and make fish wary? Often fishing a tournament you aren’t the first fisherman fishing a spot for the day unless it’s your first spot and chances are it’s been prefished recently. You don’t want to throw everything the fish have already seen and want to trick a bite out of some pressured water. So what do you do?
it’s likely because you told him about it. More importantly the other anglers on the lakes you frequent won’t have it. At least not yet. That’s all well and good to say but aren’t customs expensive? That all depends on the type of custom bait. Paint jobs can run $10-$100 per bait depending on the who and what. Custom carved swimbaits are usually for people who are addicted to the big bite and will range in price from $60-$500. The most common type of custom baits and some of the most effective are custom soft plastic baits. These types of baits usually run $5-$10 a pack.
Many anglers are turning to custom baits.
The next question anglers have when considering custom baits is the process to get them. Custom means exactly that. You will rarely be able to get a next day shipment on customs. It could take anywhere between two and eight weeks. I decided to walk through the process of custom soft plastic so I could give you a firsthand look at it from start to finish.
Custom can mean many different things. This could be hand carved swimbaits, custom paint, or unique soft plastics and other products. The biggest thing about custom is it isn’t available in big box stores. Joe from down the street will rarely have the same bait and if he does,
After talking to several people, including the Kayak Bass Fishing National Champion Matt Ball, I decided that I’d place an order for some 412 Bait Company soft plastics. I messaged the owner, Donald Corbett, asked a few questions about colors, styles, best baits for my water
types and then went online to order my baits. I One of my favorite parts of custom baits is seeing them in person for the first time. Being selected and paid for my baits on March 3rd. able to handle the baits, smell them, stretch them and of course test them in the bathtub is During the checkout process I had to read a disclaimer about the baits being custom and it one of the first things I do. It gets some weird could take several weeks to be shipped. I liked looks from the girls in my family but I need to know about buoyancy, movement and the clear communication and setting the expectation before I paid that it would take some underwater color. time. As soon as the confirmation and payment went through I received an email communica- A couple of days later I skipped lunch and got tion thanking me for my order and giving me to do some real world application with the baits and they didn’t disappoint. In fact, one some additional details. of my adventures I caught on video which you can see on the KBFMAG Facebook page. At this point my order went into the work queue for 412. For custom soft baits the orders I am lucky enough to have some clear water are made in the order they are received. When lakes around me and I can watch as the fish respond to different presentation of the different it is a little slower a custom order might only baits and really determine what they want and take a couple of weeks but in busier times, longer. Spring is obviously a very busy time for how they want it. bait makers and on April 10th I received another email communication that my order was be- A couple of times already I’ve been fishing with ing processed which translates to being made. other people and will follow behind them and hit the same structure with a 412 Free Worm or Free Minnow and catch a fish. The baits At that point I started getting pretty excited! This was the homestretch like at the waterpark have great action, different sink rates and the custom colors are something you can’t go buy when you finally get to the top of the tower and see where people are actually going down off the shelf. I think those three keys spell success. the chutes and the lifeguard says “Next” and points you to the open slide. If you haven’t looked into custom baits yet, you th might want to give them a look. Whether it’s April 16 I received two emails. 412 emailed me to let me know my order had shipped and soft plastics or a nine inch glide bait, a custom bait can make a big difference. All it requires the other email was from the USPS with a is a little patience and you’ll soon have a bait tracking number and expected delivery date. th April 19 a package showed up in my mailbox most people don’t. 2 and it was Christmas in April!
KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
No drama. Just adventure. VIBE ELEMENT COOLER SERIES
Meet the ACTIONHAT...
It looks like a regular hat, but you can mount an action camera and other stuff on it. With 5 mounting locations, you can wear it forwards or backwards, and rig it up for whatever fun stuff you’re in to. Great for hands-free filming while fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, hiking, hunting, DIY projects or any activity where you need both hands for the ACTION. If you HATE head strap mounts, you’ll LOVE the ActionHat. Shoot and share POV, day or night, by land and sea. Water ready - it FLOATS!
Order Online at ACTIONHAT.COM Become a Dealer: 855.721.0326 | dealer@ActionHat.com *Guaranteed to float with ONE action camera.
KBFMAG SPRING 2016
USE CODE: KBFMAG for 15% OFF YOUR ORDER
Photo by Geoff Luckett
DIY ON THE FLY:
FLY B X FROM TODD WEST and ERIC HUGHES
There are many really nice flybox options on the market for all budgets, but for the kayak world there isn’t anything specific. Quite a few of the boats on the market have places to safely store Plano tackle trays of various sizes, most I’ve seen are the 3600 style boxes. So in an effort to keep it simple and handy Eric Hughes and myself decided to experiment with making some quick and cheap to fit our needs on the river. After looking high and low for a flybox that had the dimensions we needed to take advantage of the tackle box slots on our Vibe Seaghost we came up empty. I happened to be in Walmart and looking over the Plano selection when I realized that the 3600 spinnerbait box had removable bait clips. (Insert light bulb!) I had our solution. Eric took a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and found some thick adhesive backed craft foam and we had the box we were after. It’s nothing fancy, nor will it win awards for best looks but the effectiveness and functionality of this little build solved a two week search for the best box we could get and saved a few bucks.
FLY RECIPE WORDS AND PHOTOS BY BRANDON BAILES
The Articulated Sexy Shad
This fly is very versatile and can be fished lots of different ways. Feel free to throw it on a floating line and fish it around structure or throw it on a sinking line and fish it around ledges or drop off points. It can be tied just as many ways….add rubber legs, add different tailing material….you name it! Just have fun and go catch some bucketmouths with it.
MATERIALS Rear Section 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Flymen Co. 25mm Fish spine Marabou Plumes Polar or Senyo’s Aqua Veil Chenille Ice Wing Fiber UTC 140 Thread
Front Section 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Patridge Predator X 2/0 Beadalon or 40# Mono Premium Belly Deerhair Superglue 6mm 3D Eyes Veevus 200D Thread Loon Thin UV resin
INSTRUCTIONS Place a 25mm Fish Spine in the vise and start your thread base at the rear of the spine. Add some Ice wing fiber at this point to give some flash. Next tie in 2 marabou plumes by the tips and palmer them forward together. Comb generously after you have secured them and cut the excess off. To finish off the rear section, tie in a piece of Senyo’s Aqua Veil chenille in”sky” color and also a piece of red polar chenille to add a blood spot. Using a dubbing spinner or your hand, twist the 2 chenilles together, brush out with Velcro, and palmer to the hook eye before tying off. Now we move to the hook portion of the fly, by tying on a piece of beadalon or mono for the connection point of the tail. Be sure to tie in securely and add some superglue. I also like to wrap the thread to create a “bump stop” for the deerhair coming next. Next is when the fun begins, I tend to cut, comb, and pre-measure my deerhair piles. This makes the stacking go a lot quicker and more consistent. So to begin I grab a clump of hair meant for the belly of the fly and start shuffling the hair to blend a few colors that I have chosen….all of which roughly measures “3 pencil thicknesses”. While shuffling and blending in hand, make sure to keep all the tips facing the same way because the first 2 stacks of hair will be part of the bugs collar.
After blending, place the hair in a big stacker and stack it well. Take it out and place it on the near side of the hook at a 45 degree angle. Take 2 wraps of thread around the hook and hair, getting tighter with each wrap. After the second wrap you can use the thread tension and your thumb to “walk” the clump to the underside of the hook. Next up is the top clump and we begin by blending in hand and then use the stacker to align the tips like we did on the bottom stack. Once you pull the clump from the stacker, place the clump directly on top of the hook shank and take 2 wraps of thread, getting tighter with each one. After the second wrap, take your fingers and pinch under and on each side of the top clump and pull your thread straight down to flair the hair. Now take one additional wrap to lock everything in place before advancing forward. ( TIP- wiggle your thread as you make securing wraps as it minimizes hair getting trapped) Now to advance the thread in front of the first stacks, bring the thread in between the top and bottom by wiggling the thread as you move forward. It sometimes helps to use your fingers to push the hair back a little. After you reach the bare hook shank, take several wraps in front of the stacks and add a half hitch. Next add a drop of superglue to the thread wraps and while pinching the rear of the hook shank take a hair stacker and push the thread bump and hair rearward. I like to hold it in place for a few seconds so the thread/glue will weld with the hair and create a very dense stack. After the first bottom and top stacks are in place, the rest of the bug is simply a repeat of steps 6-9. It will get tricky at the hook eye and its ok to use a little less hair. You will also not be able to “walk” the bottom stack of hair….so the best thing to do is just turn the hook in the vise and do the bottom and top the same way by place directly on top of the the shank and tightening down. KBFMAG SUMMER 2016
Once you are ready to tie off your thread, grab a plastic material bag and cut a square out of it. Next create a slit and place it over the hook eye. Now you can bring your thread out and in front of the plastic while be able to tie off your thread without the hair getting in the way. Once completed, pull the plastic off and add superglue to the thread.
Before trimming I like to comb the hair toward the hook eye to get all the hair standing up.
Next I trim the face of the bug flat all the way around the hook eye with scissors, so we can see what we are doing.
After that I use the scissors to cut rough reference marks, where I will make straight cuts with a razor blade.
After that I will make the straight cuts with a razor blade and end up with a rectangle that is ready to be shaped
At this point just take your time and slowly shape the hair into what you want…either a popper or a slider( which is what I’m making here). You can curve the blade to round all the edges or your can take small swipes to shape it…totally your call.
Finally I shave a flat spot where I want eyes and then superglue a pair in place, add some UV resin to the belly & face, cure it , and GO FISH IT!! 2 103
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY
t was one of those days that would have been better spent resting on the couch holding a cold beverage and watching college football. The temperature was nearing the kayak will burn you if you touch it and the wind was nonexistent. Basically, the most miserable conditions a kayak fly angler or any angler for that matter could imagine. It was going to be a sweat fest. But I have an addiction and it makes me do questionable things. Instead of hanging out in the comfort of an air-conditioned house, I was loading my 6 wt and heading to the flats to hunt grass carp from my kayak. When I arrived, it was just as I expected. I was the only idiot out enjoying this fine weather. Even the mosquitoes where like, “nope”. For once, the conditions remained as forecasted - no wind, lots of sun and it was still hot. My sweat was sweating, but I was excited. Why? My weight loss plan of course. No, I’m addicted to sight fishing grass ghosts and these are ideal conditions.
After a short paddle, I was poling the flats looking for targets. I beached the kayak on a small island in the middle of the lake and scanned a small bay on the other side for active carp. Grass carp are schizophrenic by nature and live in a constant state of panic. They freak at the sight of their own shadows. Surprisingly, my shadow has a similar effect on them. With fish this skittish, the odds aren’t in the kayak fly anglers favor.
My point is that false casting a million times won’t help your cause.
The next thing is not making excessive noises, like falling in the water because you’re balance challenged. Seriously, I rarely paddle because of the likelihood of paddle slap or banging my paddle along the side of my carp cruiser. I push pole whenever possible and keep my eyes focused on the water. Straining them to pick up movement, shadows, and the more obvious But those odds can be increased by angling like tailing activity. Also, after you make a terrible a hunter. I use stealth and concealment to my presentation, and you will, pick it up and put it advantage. I avoid paddling into areas without back down quietly. If it sounds like you’re popscoping them first. Islands or other available ping corks for specks, you’re doing it wrong. cover are valuable resources that help conceal you while you scan for feeding activity. I move This is a game of failure and rejection. Once very slowly and deliberately. If you were sityou locate a target, you get one shot. Get it ting in a deer stand, you wouldn’t do jumping wrong and you’ll watch the grass ghost run jacks every 10 minutes, would you? Paddling away leaving a note that reads, “you suck” in a around in a 12 foot plastic boat, sword fightcloud of mud. Get it right and you can stand ing your shadow is a good way to come home beside your beast and enjoy a “grip and grin”. smelling as fresh as two day old road kill skunk. Happy hunting. 2
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