Kayak Fishing Quarterly Magazine Spring 2020 Issue 2

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Cover Angler Scott BeutJer Photo By Matt Wilder

ANGLER Katie BACKA PHOTO BY RYAN BACKA Kayak Fishing Quarterly


Best Through Hull Mounting Options


European Globetrotting


ARTICLES Brad Oswalt

Dennis Kieselhorst


Coldwater Rescue


Hard Lessons Learned on the River


Smallmouth, Small River, Small Budget


Chasing Specks


Getting Started Fly Fishing


Kayaking Your Way to Crappie


Hopper Dropper


Five Steps to Filming Epic Adventures


Trooper Training to Tourney Prep


Idaho Sturgeon


Pre to Post Spawn Strategies

Dave Newman Jody Cussins

Wayne Deller

Dustin Nichols Donald Dehm

Joey Monteleone Erin McCabe

Spencer Jones John Rapp

Jay Randall

Rus Snyders


Kayak Fishing Quarterly


Starting off with the Hobie 3 way through hull plug, which is found standard on most Hobie fishing kayaks, we get a lot of options with this one. I have a lot of experience with this having had a few of them on my Pro Angler 14 last year. Coming in at $20.99 the kit includes 1 plug with 12 different inserts covering almost every imaginable transducer and power cable size across the spectrum.

What I personally like about this 3-way setup is the ability to use one through-hull to route not only the wires for a fish finder but power supply lines for cameras, phone chargers, etc. You can potentially route 6 separate wires through this one connection The first time anyone does this can be a bit daunting. After all, you just spent $1000, $2000 or more on your keeping everything nice and clean. The kit comes with new ride and now you need to put a couple of holes in 3 mounting screws and a molded gasket to provide a watertight seal. it?!?! Fortunately, a few companies have been making an item for years that has brought peace of mind to The installation requires the drilling of a 1 3/8” hole in this process. the kayak (that’s roughly 35mm for our friends outside the US). You can find this size in a hole saw kit from Both Hobie and Wilderness Systems have offered a your local hardware store. through-hull wiring kit to help contain electronic wires contained inside either the kayak or a removable pod, while keeping water out. For 2020 YakAttack has Care must be taken to ensure that you are not going to stepped up to the plate with their own version. I went drill into an area with rudder lines or other lines that out and purchased all 3 versions of the surface mount are internal to the kayak, so use your access hatches to confirm before you drill. With the use of the gasket, no style for this comparison and because I have a new marine “goop” is required to create the watertight seal. kayak to rig for this season. You may only get one plug, however with the multitude of inserts and the ability to run 6 wires through it you may only need one.

THE WILDERNESS SYSTEMS KIT The Wilderness Systems kit was introduced with their line of FlexPod kayaks to keep the inside of the pods waterproof where the battery resides. My first kayak was an ATAK 140 and I utilized these with the flex pod for my fish finder setup and was very pleased. Coming in at $19.99 the kit is a single pass through, so the most cable connections you will get per plug is only 2, however, you do get 2 plugs per kit making this a solid value. This style of plug uses an O-ring and is threaded. The locking ring will thread 5



s spring begins to roll in, many seasoned and new kayak anglers find themselves with new kayaks or new electronics for the season needing to be rigged. What that really means is its time to get out some drill bits and put holes in that new kayak.

2 small screws, and because of its design no additional O-ring or gasket is required, as the plug is similar in design to a thicker rubber molded gasket and is made from nylon. For installation, you will need to drill a 1-inch size hole. This kit uses 1 less hold down screw than the Hobie kit and overall has fewer components. The design of the inserts nests them both inside the hardplastic plug and the hole in the kayak creating the seal. I would like to see YakAttack offer more inserts with multiple holes per insert like the Hobie 3 way. This can mean fewer holes drilled in the kayak and fewer plugs required for multiple electronics. on from the backside (inside of the kayak or pod) compressing the O-ring to create the watertight seal. If you are accessing a hard to get to area you may want to opt for the other kits because of this. The kit comes with 6 inserts total but lacks any solid plugs like the Hobie or YakAttack. Instead they provide a single plug that fits inside one of the inserts to block it off. For installation, this kit also requires the same 1 3/8� hole saw bit but saves you from the 3 extra screws the Hobie kit has or the 2 extra on the YakAttack. If considering ordering this kit it would be wise to measure the cables you plan to route through it to ensure you will get an insert that is close. The plugs threaded design does not requiring extra screws, just be mindful of where you are installing it as the plug will sit deeper inside the hull. It should be noted that Hobie also offers a similar style through-hull kit with a threaded lock ring. It offers a single pass through as well and is similar in price to the Wilderness kit. We could consider them on equal ground however, you will get additional inserts including solid ones with the Hobie kit.

The inserts could easily fit two holes per side. YakAttack recommends using some goop around the holes to help keep everything watertight (they are the only one of the three reviewed to recommend this). You will also have to cut your own slits in the inserts to get them around the wires (this is not required on the Hobie or Wilderness kits). One last point to note about this kit is that the screws are not self tapping, you will need a 7/64 drill to create a pilot hole for the screws. I highly recommend putting in one screw at a time. In the end, all the options mentioned here are great through-hull wiring kits. Each one has pros and cons as mentioned above. With a few tweaks, I think the YakAttack can be on par with the Hobie 3 way. For me the 3-way plug offers the most with its plethora of inserts and ability to pass through multiple wires resulting in potentially fewer holes in the kayak.


Finally, we come to the new kid on the block, the YakAttack kit. Now YakAttack is no newcomer to kayak rigging, in fact, they are considered by many to be the gold standard within the industry so for them adding this to their already impressive lineup just made sense. Coming in at $20 even you also get 2 plugs with this kit. You will find 12 total inserts in the kit including 4 blanks. Each plug can have 2 wires max running through it. The kit is secured to the kayak by Kayak Fishing Quarterly




European Globetrotting

by Dennis Kieselhorst


ere in Germany there are beautiful waters for kayak fishing with lots of big fish. The island of Rügen is even known throughout Europe as one of the best pike fishing areas with an exceptionally large population of big fish. You can also chase giant perch, zander, asp and catfish. Because of the many fishing laws, a very long, up to 6 months closed season and many idiotic laws (for example, catch and release is not allowed and fishing competitions are prohibited nationwide), I always like to travel to neighboring countries or to countries like the USA, Panama and Canada.

What are my favorite places to go kayak fishing outside my home country? Let’s start in the Netherlands, just a 1 hour drive from my home. The Netherlands is one of the most fishing-

friendly countries in Europe and as angler - also as a kayak angler - you enjoy a lot of freedom there. An annual license costs just under $ 40 and you can fish almost all lakes and rivers in the Netherlands. There’s even an app where you can quickly find out where you can fish and where you can’t. Many great campsites are right at the water and the whole country is very tourist-friendly. If you should visit Europe from the USA, write the Netherlands on your bucket list! A few hours drive north you will find great locations in Denmark. The Skanderborg lake, the Silkeborg lake district or the island of Møn are very interesting areas for kayak fishing. Here it is especially worth fishing for pike and perch. If you drive across Denmark, you will reach the large Øresund Bridge in Copenhagen, which connects Denmark with Sweden. For me personally one of

Kayak Fishing Quarterly


the best countries in Europe when it comes to kayak fishing! If you stay on the coast, the archipelago offers finest pike fishing in brackish water. Above all, many pike can be caught here and, due to the right of everyone (contrary to many other European countries) wild camping and bonfires are allowed. The further north you go from the archipelago, the more inhabited and wilder Sweden becomes. For example, the province of Dalarna is very beautiful! We were here for almost two weeks to collect footage for the Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing Show and were able to fish incredibly beautiful lakes. Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, which borders on Russia, Sweden and Norway, is always worth a visit for kayak fishing! If you’ve never been to Norway, you’ve definitely missed something! The landscape is unique, kayak fishing for halibut, cod and pollack is absolutely fantastic if you are lucky with the weather. Check out our Norway kayak fishing film: https:// youtu.be/Ll5bUmPHGIM

Now to the warmer countries in Europe! There are bass in countries such as Hungary, France, Italy, Portugal or Spain. Bass fishing is definitely not as popular here as it is in the States, because this species of fish is not widespread here. Speaking of Spain: if you want to catch a perch record, you should go to the legendary Perchzilla Lake. It is unbelievable how many perch over 50 cm are caught here. Spain - especially the Ebro River - is known for its big catfish. You can catch monsters here! But Spain also has a lot to offer for saltwater anglers. Biscay in the north, the Balearic Sea in the east and the Alborán Sea in the south! Infinite water for saltwater anglers! There are many other beautiful countries in Europe where you can fish very well. But I often travel a lot further away, over the North Atlantic Ocean! Once a year I visit the small artist village of Matlacha in Florida with friends or with my family. Not only the weather, but also the many different species of fish and the great wildlife have a special charm for Europeans. And there are sharks, I love sharks! And, of course, every European angler speaks of Canada as their dream destination. Muskie fishing is on the bucket list for many. I was in Canada for the 9

first time last fall when the leaves were just changing color. Wow, kayak fishing in Canada is so beautiful, there are so many lakes and rivers, just amazing! For me one of the most beautiful countries in the world! And for those who are looking for the really big adventure: off to Panama! Los Buzos should be known to almost everyone from the breathtaking stories by now and it is really as great as everyone tells! The lodge with its great service and delicious food is located directly in the rainforest and is one of the best locations if you want to catch really big fish! So what are you waiting for? Pack your suitcase and off you go! If you need help organizing a trip to Europe, contact me: dennis@jacksonkayak.com

About the author:

Jackson Kayak Fishing Team Manager Europe Hometown: Bremen, Germany Age: 46 Hobbys: Kayak Fishing, Kayaking, SUPing, SUP Fishing Brands: Jackson Kayak, NRS, Bending Branches, Tightline Anchor, Rebelcell Instagram: @denniskieselhorst

Kayak Fishing Quarterly


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A nice, fun day of fishing can turn into a life or death situation in a hurry. A blink of an eye hurry. Are you prepared to deal with 49 degree water with 37 degree air temps? Do you have the required equipment like a PFD, whistle, mental and physical fitness to deal with an unexpected event like going overboard and turtling your kayak?

my friend who just caught another fish. So I paid no attention to it. It didn’t sound like a distress or anything. We keep fishing for a few minutes. My wife is 200 yards from me and she yells he’s in the water. I thought that’s what I heard but I wasn’t sure and I yelled at her “What did you say?”. No way was he in the water. He’s experienced, he’s in a stable kayak what could have gone wrong? Right? We don’t think about it happening until it’s to late.

She takes off to him and I am behind her going that way as well. I am pedaling as fast as I can go. It takes us five to six minutes to get to him. When we get there My wife and two friends were fishing a local lake New he is in the water with his kayak turtled. All of his rods Year’s Day and it was cold. Look, Texans especially East were leashed, his crate was leashed, which are all great Texas aren’t prepared for the cold nor do we like it. We things so you don’t lose gear right? like our hotter than normal weather. We all dressed the part for it being cold or It’s COLD! as much as we thought we needed. I had a base layer of He’s worried about his gear and wind pants with sweats over I am worried about getting him those and bibs. Up top I had out of the water. That was my a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and first concern but his was his gear. a hoodie with a beanie over Rightfully so, right? I had a bad my ears. Everyone else was motorcycle wreck and the first basically dressed the same. people on the scene told me that I Was it enough? Yes, but wet asked about my bike, even though clothes don’t keep you warm I was pretty mangled. So I guess right? that’s our instinct. He’s trying to help flip is kayak over, we are We go on about our day fishing and not catching and trying but with all the rods leashed, the gear leashed it then around 11am it’s like a light switch flipped. The made it almost impossible. fish turned on and we caught some awesome fish and my wife caught a fish of a life time. I was so proud of The rods were getting hung on the stumps and creating her. She called me and I was about .75 miles away from drag under the kayak. The kayak was filling with water her. I started toward her to take pictures and weigh her which added weight as well. My wife was working to catch. She and I were on Cloud Nine. get the rods un leashed and the crate. I am telling him to get out of the water and trying to help flip his kayak Our one friend, she had already left and we still had over. It seemed like an eternity but we got it all upright another friend out on the water. We take the pictures, and saved his gear. videos and talk about the emotions of the catch and how proud I was of her. We release the beast and we go I then pulled him into the front porch of my BlueSky. back to fishing. By this time the wind had picked up to I am not plugging here. I am simply telling you that I around 4-5mph. We were down wind from our friend am not sure I could have got him out of the water in who was still fishing. He had just sent me a photo of any other kayak by myself. his catch as well. After I got him out of the water we start back to the We fish for another eight minutes and we hear a yell. ramp. We are a few miles from the ramp. He’s doing We couldn’t make out what it was. I figured it was ok, but he’s cold and shivering. He’s on the front of my

“He’s in the water!”




t’s just another normal day to go fishing except it’s colder than normal, especially for Texas. We prepare for the cold as much as possible but how prepared can you be for the unexpected.

kayak and the nose is in the water so pedaling was tiring and slow. We were going about 1.5-1.8 mph. My wife is towing his kayak with hers. I ask him about his keys and he tells me they are in his truck. I tell her to go ahead and get his truck started and the heater on. He didn’t bring any extra clothes and his were wet. Who really prepares for this to happen? He was shivering like crazy and his head was cloudy. The only thing I knew was to keep him as warm as possible and keep him talking. I tried to do both. We got to the ramp finally! It seemed like an eternity. He walked to his truck under his own power which was great. He was alert and talking. He was cold, he was freezing cold. I venture to say he was in the water for 10-15 minutes and another 20-25 minute ride back.

KEY TAKEAWAYS 1. Always wear your PFD! He was, which was a life saver. 2. Carry your whistle and have it accessible. Trying to tell or scream when you are shocked from cold water is hard and your voice is hard to pick up. 3. Know how to re enter your kayak. Practice, practice, practice. 4. Breath- that’s the first thing you need to do. Do you wear a face mask? Soak it and try to breathe, it’s impossible. 5. Is leashing your stuff down really that important in the overall scheme of things? This situation it almost proved to be disastrous. 6. Is kayaking alone really that safe? Who knows what would have been the outcome if there wasn’t anyone to help? 7. Mental, physical and spiritual fitness. Are you prepared? I can tell you I was out of shape to pedal non stop back to the ramp. My legs were on fire! And still sore a few days after, even while typing this. The conclusion of this was positive, thank you Lord. This was also a learning experience for everyone involved. Stay calm, stay collected, know what to do next, know what your next 5 moves are and the possible outcomes of each.

Kayak Fishing Quarterly



Hard lessonS learned on the river I

by jody cussins

n 2013, I suffered a “widowmaker” heart attack. That was a life altering event that caused me to rethink everything I did and how I did it. I needed an exercise regimen and a means of getting on the water to enjoy my favorite sport that wouldn’t require another person to help with my equipment. A friend advised that I look into getting a fishing kayak. He insisted that I would love it. So in November of 2016 , after a lot of research and discussion with my wife and Dr. about the benefits of using the kayak for exercise, I bought a Jackson Big Rig. It was reputed to be one of the most stable kayaks on the market. That was one of my wife’s stipulations before the purchase!

On our first float we hadn’t been on the water 20 minutes when I got a hook stuck in my thumb after catching a 15” smallmouth! Talk about feeling like a noobie and being embarrassed that on our first float, I had to ask for help with hook removal. I was totally embarrassed! But he overlooked my kayaking inexperience and we just hit it off. The rest of that Fall and part of Winter we hit the rivers every chance we got.

The next Spring we had nothing but high water so we couldn’t float as early in the year as we wanted. Finally by mid April, we had a few good days of mid 50’s temperatures and we were back on the water. The North Fork was still running about 3 feet above Not long after getting the Big Rig I met Thomas Horsch online and after messaging back and forth a normal but we couldn’t stand it any longer and decided few times, I invited him over to float the river with me. to give it a try. Now the North fork Holston is a skinny, crystal clear river that at the nearest gauge runs I explained to him that I was totally new to kayaking about 2’ in depth on average but on that day, it was at and discovered that he was more than willing to help and teach me, not an easy task since I was 55 years old the 5’ mark and water temp was about 50 degrees. Initially, all was going well with a few fish being caught and still not 100% since the heart attack 2 1/2 years and both of us enjoying the early Spring sunshine. prior. Kayak Fishing Quarterly


I was about 100 yards in front of Thomas and was coming up on some small ledges. The plan was to stop and fish above them. I had installed an anchor trolley the previous Fall but had only used it once or twice before. The river had too much current for my 3 lb. anchor to hold and I didn’t realize the trolley was locked about midway of the kayak.

me under the kayak where I was fighting for my life! After what seemed an eternity ( which it nearly was), I popped out and got a much needed breath! I can’t describe the anguish and shock of hitting that cold, swift water. It was all I could do to yell “HELP”, At least, I thought I was yelling. I was struggling against the current to get to the river bank.

I floated across the ledge with my anchor dragging when it suddenly caught. My kayak quickly turned sideways in the current and when I tried to run the trolley forward or back, the current caused the kayak to tip dangerously. After working for what seemed like an eternity and nearly flipping several times, I decided the safest way out of the mess was to cut my anchor rope. So I reached into my pants pocket to get my knife. Shifting my weight had dire consequences. I suddenly saw my kayak dip up river and in a flash I was flying upward and into the water amid a hail of sinking fishing gear! In a flurry, I was moving down river toward my kayak. Then I realized I was under water fighting the current that was so swift it carried

By the time I got close enough to the bank to touch bottom my arms and legs had already started to stiffen from hypothermia. I don’t know how Thomas got to me so fast but I remember hearing his telling me to get up on the bank out of the water. I was trying , but to no avail. My muscles were frozen and my whole body felt like lead. It was then that I felt these hands grab onto my PFD and jacket and drag me onto the bank! Thomas had jumped out of his kayak and pulled me onto the rocky shore. The PFD I was wearing was brand new and it was the first time I had ever worn it. It was another condition my wife had placed on my getting the kayak. I had to have the best life vest we 17

could buy. I had always worn an inflatable PFD before but she said she wanted me to have one like Thomas wore, that she didn’t trust the inflatables on the river! To this day I know if I had been wearing the inflatable I would not be here to tell this story! After getting me out of the water and onto the bank, Thomas helped me out of my vest, jacket and shirt. I was shivering so bad I could hardly speak and I’m certain I was going into shock. The sun beating down on me at that moment had never felt so good in all my life! After Thomas made sure I was safe , he paddled up to my kayak and cut the anchor rope. He brought it to me at the embankment where, with great effort, we were able to flip it upright. It had been upside down in the water the whole time. Then we had to muscle it up the river bank and out of the water!

kayak up the bank! He had paddled all the way back up river against wickedly strong current to see that I had help up there! As I walked up to the house, my wife met me with panic in her eyes! After explaining what had transpired and getting me in some warmer clothes, she, Thomas and I drove my truck back down to where we’d left my kayak. Along the way, she expressed how Blessed we were that I was alive and that I was with Thomas who knew what to do and did it to save my life. Now that’s a fishing buddy! In fact, he was also responsible for suggesting and procuring the new PFD I was wearing that day. I lost 2 rods and reels, 2 sets of piers, net, Hawg trough, an action camera that I had been wearing on my head, and a $50 Bull Shad swimbait that was attached to one of the rods! Thomas said after the water warmed and dropped we would dive and see if we could locate any of the more than $1000 worth of my lost tackle and gear.

There were 2 rods still in the rod holders but everything else was gone. Thomas had mindlessly grabbed a few floating boxes and pieces as he rushed to my rescue. It’s funny that our reactions can encompass Almost a month to the day Thomas brought his salvaging property while we’re in the midst of an brother-in-law and nephew with their goggles and emergency. diving equipment to try and find some of the things I had lost. After a couple of hours of searching they It was just then I heard my neighbor, Mr. Faust’s old found everything but the action camera and the farm truck coming across the hill to where we were. He swimbait rod with the Bull Shad swimbait attached! saw us and came over to offer his help. Thank GOD The friendship that Thomas and I have forged is more for good neighbors! He drove me the four miles back like that of bothers and I will never be able to repay to my house where we had launched that morning so him for all he’s done for me on that horrific day and I could get my truck and some clean, dry clothing. beyond! Every trip we take together is an adventure When we arrived, I looked down at the river to see that and a Blessing! Thomas was back at the launch site and dragging his

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Small Rivers Small Budget by WAYNE DELLER


ven though I spend the majority of my time now fishing tournaments on larger bodies of water I still have a special place in my heart for where I got my bass fishing start. I started out like many people do, fishing small rivers and creeks for smallmouth bass.

However if you are fishing alone there is usually places on the water where it is slower moving and you can put in and get out of the water at the same place. Just make sure to tell someone where you are going.

If you are looking to start fishing for bass but are on a budget then it may be easier than you think. Many smaller streams and rivers hold large smallmouth. The creek that I started on was maybe 20 yards wide and only a few feet deep. One of the easiest ways to fish these waterways is by drifting down them in a kayak. Because you are simply using the kayak to drift an expensive kayak is not necessary and a lot of the time will be too bulky and cumbersome.

Once you have the kayak you will be using you can get the equipment you will need to fish these creeks effectively. I normally outfit my kayak Very simply for this kind of fishing. I put a milk crate on the back to put my lunch, a large sponge (for water removal), my tackle, and any other odds and ends I want to bring. I also bring a small grapnel anchor that I use to anchor myself on slower water. I never anchor in fast current for safety reasons. You also need to make sure to wear a life jacket and take a whistle with you whenever you are on a kayak.

A small light kayak is ideal for this kind of fishing. I use a Sundolphin Journey 10ss that I bought for a few hundred dollars. In order to easily drift the creek it is easiest with a friend. If you drive one vehicle to where you plan on getting out of the water and leave it there you can then drive together to where you plan on starting so you have a vehicle ready for you when you are done.

When you are fishing this kind of water there is no need to take a lot of rods and reels with you. I take two spinning combos with me. The only reason I take two is in case there is an issue with one of them it does not cut your fishing day short. You will more than likely not be making really long casts so baitcaster reels are not necessary. I spool my reels with monofilament line. You normally do not have a need for really

Kayak Fishing Quarterly

When it comes to actually fishing you can just put your kayak in the river and start fishing as you drift downstream. Smallmouth love current and moving water so you should focus on casting in and across heavy current. A lot of times they will strike in the middle of the heaviest current. You can also find the fish around cover, especially rocks. Make sure to cast on all sides of rocks because you never know what side they will be sitting on. On hot summer days smallmouth will also be found near the banks in shade made by over hanging trees. The best way to find the fish is to cast as much as possible

while you are on the water. Remember practice makes perfect and the more times you get out on the water the easier it will get. I would not be where I am today if it was not for fishing the small rivers around my home, and I still do it on a regular basis. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of it as I do. I have included a checklist of items that I recommend for people fishing on a tight budget like I was when I started as well as an approximate price. Good luck and have fun. RECOMMENDED ITEMS Kayak- Sundolphin Journey 10SS or equivalent- $278 Life Jacket - $20 Whistle- $2 Milk Crate- $6 Car Detail Sponge- $4 Grapnel Anchor Kit- $17 Two Rod Combinations- Ugly Stik or equivalent- $43 each Monofilament Line- $5 Fishing Lures- $5 each Needle Nose Pliers- $2



heavy line so I use monofilament to save money. You will obviously need some lures to catch your target smallmouth. I don’t use anything expensive because these fish generally are known for being aggressive and easy to catch. I recommend going to the store and buying a few smaller shallow crankbaits or lipless crankbaits as well as some soft plastic tubes. I normally keep a crankbait on one rod and a tube on the other. I have found that combination catches most fish, however you can use anything that you want. You will find what does best for you with practice.

Kayak Fishing Quarterly






by dustin NICHOLS

ynoscion nebulosus, the spotted sea trout. Also known as speck, speckled trout, trucha de mar, or the ones I like to target, AKA- gator trout.

One of my favorite times of the year to target this majestic estuarine fish is when the cooler and dreary weather settles in. Bring on that wind, rain, and drizzle. This will lead to less boat traffic and that’s a plus! The larger mature trout have grown accustom to the vibrations/sounds of motors blazing by and the shell crunching under foot as fisherman wade area reefs. By fishing from a kayak you have a stealthy approach and can get into position without spooking the fish.

Over the years pursuing these mature trout have led me to pay attention to my surroundings. There are times when bait is present but the fish are not feeding. That’s when paying attention to the solunar periods can pay off for you. On more than a few occasions in the winter months I have fished the late evening, which was the warmest part of the day, that coincided with a lunar period. Some of my biggest trout to date have come as the setting sun lined up with a moon rise!

There is nothing that gets my heart pumping more than seeing that first gill flaring, head shaking, gator trout launching out of the water after setting the hook!

Also...on days following strong cold fronts, there can be low water conditions and minimal tidal flow. Some things to pay attention to during those times are windblown current breaks off of oyster reefs. Set up on the ambush points on the deeper sides of the reefs and cast into the current and work your lure back with the current for a more natural presentation.

BAIT FISH, STRUCTURE, AND TIDAL MOVEMENT Those three things along with solunar feeding periods get me excited. Throw in a warming period following a frontal passage and you could be keyed in to an epic trip.

LURES AND TECHNIQUES What you can find me throwing in the cooler months of the year can differ from day to day. If there is a slight warming trend and the water hovers around 60 degrees then I will certainly have a top water walking

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bait in my arsenal. A slower retrieve with a few pauses thrown in can be deadly. Another bait that has made its way onto my rods are bass style swim baits. Do not discount the larger profile of these baits as most mature trout would rather expend their energy on a larger bait fish. Slow roll these baits along reef drop offs and deep channels and hang on. Last, but not least, you cannot leave out the Paul Brown Corky. Many versions are available but I tend to stick with the original “Fat Boy” model. There are also custom colors available now that I have been having great luck with. A quick downward bend of the tail to tune the bait a bit is all it takes. I tend to run a 18” to 20” length of fluorocarbon leader and attach the bait with a loop knot to enhance action. Throw it out and then alternate 3 or 4 quick twitches of the rod tip with an occasional pause and wait for that “THUMP”. So, are you ready to chase some of these gator trout? You can take some of these tips and tactics and apply them to your home waters. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to try some different lures the next time you are out!


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Getting Started

Flyby Donald Fishing Dehm As a fly fisherman and fly fishing instructor, I am often asked “What do I need to get started in fly fishing? Is it expensive to get started?� Kayak Fishing Quarterly

The basic essentials you will need to get started in fly fishing are: • Rod, Reel, Backing, and Line (known as an Outfit) • Leader and tippet • Nippers • Forceps/pliers • Flies • A fly box WHAT IS A FLY ROD? Fly rods come in several sizes and materials- fiberglass, composite, bamboo, etc. These can come in a single piece or can break down into multiple pieces. The weight (WT) of a rod determines what size of fly you can use and cast easily, it really has little to do with the size of the fish you are trying to catch. These sizes range from 000WT to 16WT. The bigger the number the bigger rod and the bulkier and heavier flies you can throw.

20 - 30 lbs. of Dacron for freshwater or 30 – 50 lbs. of Gel-Spun for saltwater applications. WHAT IS A FLY LINE? A fly line is a Dacron or braided nylon that has been coated with PVC. It is heavy, the PVC coating is slick and sometimes textured. It must be matched with your fly reel and fly rod within one weight. The density of the core and the amount of PVC coating is what defines or makes the fly line float or sink. The fly line is what you cast; it acts the weight in fly fishing. It attaches to your backing on the fly reel side. They are labeled in accordance with the position of the weighted section of the line, weight of rod they should be paired with and the float or sink rate of the line. For instance in the photo below the line is labeled as WF10F, meaning that position of the weighted section is in the forward part of the line (WF), the line is for a 10WT rod (10), and the line is a floating line (F). WHAT IS LEADER/TIPPET? A modern leader is made of monofilament or fluorocarbon material that has a taper built into it that gets skinner or tapers to a smaller diameter toward the fly end. Most have a loop at one end that attaches to your fly line loop. The leader is designed to be sacrificed rather than your fly line. The tippet is a non-tapered piece of monofilament or fluorocarbon

WHAT IS A FLY REEL? The fly reel holds the line that will be used for fishing. The reel must match the weight of the rod, and some reels are made to accommodate a number of different fly rod weights. The fly reel is connected to the rod via the reel seat. The fisherman uses his dominant hand to hold the rod whilst the non-dominant hand is used to manipulate the reel’s handle and/or the fly line. The reel can also feature a dial/lever that sets the drag, which is how quickly (or slowly) you wish the line to be released from the reel by applying more or less tension and resistance to the fish on the other end. The fly reel also holds something called backing which is used as an extension to your fly line and is usually made of 29


Well truth be told, it doesn’t take a lot of equipment or a lot of money to get started in fly fishing. You can purchase all the equipment needed in a price range and quality that fits your budget ranging from around $90 for basic quality, $100-200 for mid-grade quality, $300 – 850 for high grade quality, and even into the $850 plus range for those that desire the absolute best in technologically advanced gear. Although, as a beginner, I highly recommend staying in the $100 – 200 range before you go any higher. This way you can sell your equipment easily if you find out that fly fishing is just not for you.

material that is attached to the leader when/if the taper has been sacrificed due to tying on/off flies or losing to a tree or snag. The tippet costs less than the leader, the leader cost a bit more, but both are substantially less than the cost of a new fly line. When it comes to leaders and tippet the bigger the number the smaller the size (lbs. test). For example, a tippet with the size of 8x is rated for around 1.75 lbs. and used for very small flies like sizes 22, 24, 26, and 28. On the other end a tippet with the size of 0x is rated for around 15.5 lbs. and can be used for larger flies like sizes 4, 2, 1, and 1/0. FLY ROD OUTFIT ANATOMY How does it all go together? The backing is attached to the reel, the fly line is attached to the backing, the leader is attached to the fly line and the tippet is attached to the leader, the fly is attached to the leader/ tippet. The entire assembly of Rod, Reel, and lines is called an Outfit.

WHAT ARE NIPPERS? Nippers are like fingernail clippers, but are usually stainless steel or coated with some sort of protective material. They are a tool that you simply cannot be without. The sharp nipping jaws are designed to keep your knots clean, when cutting your leader or tippet. Some nippers even have a needle for those obstructed fly eyes you need to clear to get the tippet through. WHAT ARE FORCEPS/PLIERS? Forceps or sometimes called hemostats are a great tool for removing hooks from fish and from one’s clothing. Pliers are available in a variety of styles for many purposes, such as to help remove flies, for de-barbing hooks or crimping split shot, some have a built-in eyecleaning tool, these are either paired with the forceps/ hemostats or used in lieu of them. No matter which tool or tools you choose here, make sure that they are easy to use, comfortable and can fit

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in your pocket or can be attached to your clothing, so you do not lose them when on the water. WHAT ARE FLIES? Typically, a fly is a lightweight lure used to imitate a food source of the targeted fish species. These can be made of natural materials such as hair, fur, and feathers, or can be made of artificial materials such as craft fur, Mylar, synthetics, and more. Flies can vary in size and style and can include such things as insects, worms, baitfish, crabs/crayfish, small retiles and mammals, amphibians, and even birds. Flies come in thousands of patterns, colors, and names, some of which are attributed to the designer of the fly and others are named for the food source they represent. WHAT IS A FLY BOX? Put simply, a fly box is a box or container in which your flies reside in when you are not fishing them. This can be a very simple thing such as the small plastic container that the fly shop will usually give you when you buy the flies, or a left over pill bottle, but most fly fishers use a box designed to be waterproof and that has some sort of interior liner that allows you to arrange flies in an organized manner. So there it is, all the equipment you need to get started in this great sport, for nearly any species of fish. Now the next step is to learn the basic fly fishing casts. Find a local fly casting instructor near you, a fly shop, an Orvis store, or simply reach out to your friends on FB or IG and find an instructor near you who can teach you in person and you will be catching some fish on the long rod in no time. I hope you enjoyed this article and that the information within will help you begin a path toward a rewarding adventure in fly fishing. Tight lines and safe paddles. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Donald Dehm is a returning contributor for KFQM. He has been a kayak angler for over a decade and teaches students the basics of how to kayak, how to fly fish, and how to fly fish from kayaks, as well as fly tying through his business Floating Feathers Kayak Fly Fishing School. Find out more about him and his school on FB and IG and by visiting his website https://www.kayakflyfishingschool.com/ 31

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Photo By Zackary A. Soulliere SPRING 2020


Kayaking Your Way to


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or many kayak fishing folks the bass gets the headlines and most of the attention. But waiting around the submerged wood are the white and black species of crappie. Crappies are at home in lakes and rivers of all sizes, they thrive all across North America. With multiple ways to fool these spiny fish crappie are popular and considered one of the best at the table.

As is the case crappies aren’t near as hard to catch as they are to find. Water temperature and cover are the keys to the catch. Regardless of where they are found crappie will transition during each season, in the early spring most waters that reach 50 to 55 degrees surface temperature will pull the white, black and blacknose crappie toward the shallows.

crappie nest on wood and other surfaces depositing eggs once water stabilized to 58-64 degrees. Once the spawn is complete they move to deeper summer spots, again tightly schooled. They migrate to the shallows again in the autumn and once winter sets in they seem to disappear to deeper haunts. In the moving waters of rivers, creeks and streams crappie will avoid current by setting up downstream of any obstructions, particularly large submerged wood. The advantage goes to the kayaker when the fish are set up shallow often in places big boats can’t access. I’ve found that crappie presentations fall into two distinct approaches, vertical and horizontal. With live minnows you can drift them, cast them to the edges of cover or drop them inside the branches and stumps they love. The vertical presentation is for the fish in neutral or negative feeding modes, conversely when they are highly active the horizontal retrieves bring the bites. This when a quietly maneuvered kayak places you above the fish and welcomes the slow ”jigging” up retrieve of you live or artificial bait. Optimal conditions are cool water, with good visibility and on a major moon phase. Faced with these conditions you can sharpen the fillet knife and heat up the grease.

Each species relates strongly to submerged wood and certain types of cover. Brushpiles, boat docks, bridge pilings and aquatic vegetation will bring these schooling fish into two to eight feet of water for the pre-spawn. Prior to spawning crappie will seek out schools of all varieties of minnows, shad and even small crawfish. While these are their main food sources I choose to release most of early season fish to allow them to spawn and repopulate my fishin’ holes. When opportunists, they will eat the fry of bass and bluegill crappie are active and you locate a school the best set also. Feeding heavily in anticipation of the spawn

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up for me is an ultra-light spinning outfit spooled with four pound test line. I carry a small species specific tackle box with soft plastic grubs, tubes and curlytail grubs. Colors match conditions clear water calls for pearl or white, slightly stained brings out the mid-level shades or smoke/silver glitter and in stained water chartreuse or chartreuse / black or chartreuse red combo colors. In calm, clear waters I thread my plastics on 1/16 oz. leadhead to facilitate a slow fall, if there’s a bit of wind to cast and control the bait I switch to 1/8th oz. A slow steady retrieve with the occasional twitch is generally all it takes to draw strikes from the always eager crappies. Bring lots of lead and plenty of plastic because of the heavy cover that crappies use as home and as an ambush point. Retie often since the light line can be unforgiving. Waters that are unreachable to larger boats often harbor strong population of big crappies. A stringer of a few crappie, a few bluegill and maybe a legal bass make for great memories and meals.


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Photo by Kurt Smits SPRING 2020


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and Bull Terriers A Tale of a Flygirl and Her Best Friend

by Erin McCabe


his is Hopper Dropper (aka Hopper, Hops, Jerkface). He is a Miniature Bull Terrier, and is the best worst dog I have ever been blessed with to have in my life.

We met in New Hampshire, with big dreams of my new fly fishing buddy, my new co-pilot in our cat raft. He was going to sit in the front, watch calmly as I cast, and generally act like a good canine citizen. You guys….it was going to be magical. Breathtaking. PERFECT. Flash forward to his 1st day on the boat. We have practiced, we have trained, we are PUMPED. Boat launch? Success. Within 5 seconds, he is being fished out of the drink with a net. It’s OK, he slipped, right? Dry him off, start over. Note that was the day he also found his voice. Every movement? Barking. Another human? Bark more. Needless to say it was a short day. We all had a snack and went home.

At this point, it had become clear that he won’t be a textbook perfect fishing pal….but that’s okay, I accepted it. A few months back, I was unceremoniously dumped by the man I loved and shared my life with. Hopper and I were forced to leave our home, and our boat (which was probably the worst part, haha). I didn’t think I’d ever find myself again. How was I supposed to go about my passion for fly fishing alone? I had never been more lost and scared in my life. But one day, I had an epiphany. I wasn’t alone. I had in my life, the one little soul that showed me unconditional love, every single day. Hopper is my absolute best friend, and we have found our happy fishing groove. It may be messy, but it’s ours. Hop goes everywhere with me. I realized that he gives the impression of an angel of a partner. That is far from the truth. He shouts at me if I walked downstream. He



Boats, Breakups

tries to swim in the river at ducks, scaring away any fish. He ate my sling pack and stole a spool of Tippet (I never found that… it’s in the woods somewhere in Pulaski, New York). We kayak together, he has dumped us. Twice. He has a meltdown when I cast, in gets in the way when I net. He often forgets he has a name and won’t come back. So like I do with my whole life, I adapted. Snacks are literally crucial to our survival on the water. For me, because I like snacks, and for him? Pretty much the exact same reason. Snacks make me a priority to him, and make life easier. He is always on a leash, I will never be “that” person, the one with their dog running around like a psychopath, ruining it for everyone (although it has happened). I’m so sorry everyone at Fish’s Eddy on the Delaware. My bad. Hopper makes our fishing trips together interesting, to say the least…he is no retriever, no setter, no pointer, but he is mine. We make it work, and with him, I never ever fish alone. He makes my life complete, and we pursue my fishing passion together. Does he make my trips challenging? OH my yes. But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

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Five Steps to Filming

EPIC Kayak Fishing


by Spencer Jones


o you enjoy documenting your kayak fishing adventures? What about capturing that epic slow motion hook set or release of a new PR? Do those ideas put a smile on your face and get your heart racing? If you said yes to any of those, then this article is for you. After filming multiple kayak fishing adventures that have taken me across the country I want to share a set of steps that will help you capture your adventures. Let’s not waste any time, and get right into it. STEP ONE: STORYLINE The first step is one that many people don’t think about. It’s easy to grab our gear and hit the water without thinking. While that is how almost everyone gets started and can capture some cool moments it doesn’t make for an epic story that draws people in. If you want to share your adventure on social media this is a must. What story are you sharing through

your pictures and videos? What adventure do you want to take your viewer on? Here is a basic storyline I used in a few of my mini-series. Driving to the location and talking about the purpose/goals of the trip Unloading the gear and launching Scenery and conditions while verbally describing it Video of me casting (and hopefully catching) Recap of the trip Bonus: Share any random fun or crazy things that happened. (ie lost a big fish, deer running in front of the car, the kayaks almost blowing off the car, etc.) You don’t need anything fancy but planning your basic storyline is going to guide you for the next step and in the end save you time and frustration.

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STEP TWO: PLAN YOUR SHOTS I dare say that a number of us think about the shots we would love to get. Especially if we can make the fish seem bigger or in any way enhance the fishermans tale. While this is great, you should plan your shots in a little more detail.

set up your cameras at almost any angle and position on your kayak. I personally love having one behind me shooting over my head or shoulder and having a camera angled upward facing me. Having these two angles gives me choices when editing. For example, let’s say the sun is in front of you when you hook up with a fish. You can use the camera facing you to get the hook set and initial fight.

Do you want to film yourself talking about the trip inside or outside of your car? If outside, on the water or on land? If you’re traveling a greater distance do you want to take a video or picture of the welcome sign to The camera over your shoulder will most likely not each state. have a great shot because the sun blinding it. But when the fish turns your kayak around you can switch Knowing what basic shots you want will help ensure angles and then use the over the shoulder camera. you get what you want and won’t regret it when you start editing. However I would get even pickier than It’s about options. Besides those two shots I like just what to get pictures or videos of. I would suggest having a third option. One camera that is off to the thinking about the angle you want of those shots. side that can be easily moved or lifted off for a hand Do you want the camera to be looking directly at you? held shot. Again, it gives me another angle and Looking up at you? Down at you? Behind your back? another shot to potentially use. One of the fun advantages of kayak fishing is you can 45

Planning your shots can be overwhelming, especially the first time or two. Try to not overthink it. You will figure out what works best for you after a few times. If you know your storyline you can plan some basic shots for each part of the story. Then as you are on your adventure you can adapt and change as needed. The more you experiment the more you discover what you like and what you don’t. STEP 3: FILMING Now for the fun part! Your cameras are charged and memory cards are ready to be filled with awesome adventures. Look at your storyline and remind yourself of the sequence and the shots you want to get. Then head out on your adventure and start capturing the memories. Everyone likes to film a little differently. Some like to let the camera roll for their entire trip. I personally find that it takes up way too much room on my memory cards and leaves huge files I have to go through and edit. A perk to filming this way is you can capture some of those unanticipated moments and can get some B roll shots. Personally, when I head out I stick to my story line and shot list. I capture what I

need to, saving room on my cards and battery life on my cameras. Then when I’m out fishing I make sure I film the shots that I need for my story line but will then turn my camera off until I start fishing or a spot looks fishy or I started to get hits. Doing it this way saves battery and memory however you can miss those unexpected moments. A couple tips though when you are filming. As unexpected things come up, try to take a picture or video of them. Even if it’s explaining what happened afterward. Remember that life happens and you may miss or forget something. It’s ok, it happens. Your adventure won’t be ruined. It happens to everyone, just let it go and move on. Explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. Not necessarily the mundane stuff like untying your kayak from the car or trailer. But more what lure or line you are using and why you are using it. Try to not make it seem like a commercial, just share it like you are explaining it to a friend who is just learning about fishing. Also, get lots and lots of B roll. If you don’t know what B roll is, don’t worry. B roll is the filler. The video/pictures of you not launching, hooking up,

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what I would want to watch.

I asked my friends on facebook what they would prefer to see and one of my friends gave me the perfect advice which guided me as I edited my latest adventure. His advice was this: Make a video that you would want to show your grandkids and watch yourself. When I read his advice my whole mindset shifted from trying to do what the statistics and social media wanted to doing

Have enough memory cards. You want to make sure they are large enough and/or you have extras to capture everything. It’s always better to have more than you need. Also, make sure they work in your camera. Trust me, not all cards work with some cameras or in certain camera settings. Do a quick check before your adventure to make sure they work.

I’m passing his advice onto you. Instead of concerning yourself with what “society” or “social media” wants, create and edit your adventure to be something you would want to watch and show your grandkids. Let these be some of the memories you leave as part of your legacy. STEP 5: TIME TO SHARE Now for the relatively easy part step, share it! You can share your adventure on a plethora of social media STEP 4: EDITING platforms or just with your family and friends. It all This step some people love and others loathe. depends on what your plan was with creating this film. Thankfully you are prepared for it. If you created a There’s no right or wrong, unless you are doing it to storyline for your adventure then you already have a make money, do what’s right for you. If you do want template. Start going through the footage and put the to make money from your video’s, then you’ll want to pieces together to create the storyline you already laid research and see what the latest trends are and what out. Adding B roll in when needed and making it flow would help you get the most views and interaction. smoothly and seamlessly. Congratulations on chasing your passion to the max, Adding music to your videos is one of the biggest capturing your adventure, and sharing it! Creating headaches for folks who don’t make their own. You lasting memories with your family and friends is can choose to not have any music however having incredible and sharing the adventures with them so music helps keep engagement and interest. If you you can relive the moments is priceless. Don’t ever decide to have music you need to be sure it isn’t stop creating amazing memories and having awesome copyrighted or you have permission to use it. You can adventures. buy music on websites or maybe you know a person who likes to create music. They can create something I’d like to leave you with some tips to help you have just for you. No matter the way you go, be sure you the best experience capturing and sharing your stay legal. The music should add to the video and not adventure. distract and take away from it. Know your cameras. How do you start and stop When editing remember that people’s attention span recording? How can you see if they are recording when is short. If you watch tv shows or commercials you you are on the water? It sucks when you think it’s will notice that they cut to a different angle or scene recording only to find out afterward it didn’t capture a every 1-5 seconds. Plus if you are into statistics and thing. social media you may be thinking your video needs to be a certain length. Unless you are being hired by a Charge all of the batteries. Have extra batteries and company or person who needs it to be a specific length additional ways to charge them. You don’t want to let me share my thoughts on this and the above short run out of juice when you’re in the middle of your and quick cut topics. adventure.



catching, landing and releasing fish essentially. So shots of the shoreline, underwater, drone shots, driving, landmarks, etc. It’s the video or pictures you’ll put when you are talking and not reeling in the fish. If you think you have enough, you don’t. Get more. You can always delete it if you don’t use it but you can rarely go back and get more. When filming something for B roll I like to count to at least 15. That way I have enough that I can cut it in multiple ways and ensure I have enough.

What equipment are you using to hold the cameras. Make sure it holds them tight and you have a tether or a floating device attached to them. You don’t want to lose the camera while out on your adventure. Get the best audio quality you can. People love having good audio. Speak clearly and enunciate when you talk. Use a microphone if possible. And try to reduce noise from the elements like wind and waves. Now go, create a storyline, plan your shots, film your adventure, edit it up, and share it with us!

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Trooper Training to Tourney Prep

John Rapp


veryone has a story or reason as to how they started fishing out of a fishing kayak. Mine took 21 years to develop. My journey began not long after I retired from the West Virginia State Police in 2013, with my career in Law Enforcement ending, I was looking for a hobby. I had just started fishing with several other Troopers and I had been using an older ten-foot, two person Pond Prowler.

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Enter FeelFree Kayaks and my open water pursuit began. After I brought home that first new shiny kayak fishing machine for Christmas, I felt like that Rookie Trooper getting his first cruiser. As a new Trooper, I remember washing, waxing and putting together my duty gear and equipment box together. I had a huge tough box that I acquired that I used to hold my crime and accident scene investigation equipment. Now I was getting that same exuberation of feelings flooding back as I began outfitting my kayak, the feeling as I raised the seat and lowered it again; opened the front hatch, and latched it shut; the feeling I got as I added a few accessories to make my time on the water more enjoyable. It was the same feeling I had as a new trooper looking at my first cruiser. A feeling of honor and pride. I was so excited to get this kayak out in the water. It’s funny when I look back at my law enforcement training how it correlates today to how I approach Kayak Fishing especially for my Tournament Preparation. For Example: One of the aspects of the job was report writing, when writing reports, we had a system where it included the basics of the: Who, What, When, Where, and How. These reports would be used for Court Proceedings that would take place later showing the collection of evidence, and witness statement that lead to the conclusion made. Today, I see myself doing this too. My notebook has been replaced with a journal app such as FishBrain, CatchTracker etc. Same concept. Logging your activity and routines that are catching fish for the day, documenting your locations, times, weather and water conditions. What you are really doing here is collecting and recording the Bass mode of operation or Modus operandi., which largely consists of examining the actions used to execute the means, detection and facilitate capture…. Set the hook baby!!


We all decided to do a three-day float down the New River, we had a great time, caught several fish and had several laughs but boy was it educational. Let’s just say we completed the float but not without some mishaps. After that trip, I knew I needed to find a better way to enjoy my time on the water. I started doing some research and found a white-water Kayak Gear Shop very close where I live, and they had several Fishing Kayak Models in-stock.

GPS, Waypoints? Yea same thing in Crime Scene Mapping or doing a Diagram at a car wreck. basically, the same thing we do as Kayak Anglers when marking a Bass Bed or good structure. Making observations is key, but training and time on the water are required to become highly proficient. Something we do frequently in Kayak Fishing that is done in Law Enforcement is “Profiling” which is the repeated actions and similarities of the suspect or the suspects environment., the river or the lake, I think we use a slightly different term known as a “Pattern” but its determined in the same way. Now days instead of putting out a bait car to catch a criminal, I wiggle a TRD to catch a smallie. For the Rookie Cop, or Kayak Bass Angler it always best to have a Training Officer to help facilitate your growth. Your knowledge base will jump tremendously, which will hopefully accelerate success rates whether it’s a criminal or that personal best bass. My intention here is to act as that Training Officer and help provide you with more valuable tools to get the job done and make your time on the water more enjoyable. Here are a few things I recommend. These gear and accessories items are what I have found that best fits my needs: 51

Kayak: We old Troopers have bad knees and have more than likely consumed a few to many coffee and donuts over the years. So when you make your purchase, factor in your style of use, river or lake, and what is important to you, speed, stability. etc. I recommended something you are comfortable in. No one kayak fits all, as people we come in much different sizes, shape, build, and physical abilities as well what is in our wallet.

protection, *Lip balm, *Insect repellent. *Insect repellent candles, *Baby wipes, *Alcohol or antiseptic wipes, *Toilet paper *Hand sanitizer, *Toiletry kit *Quick-dry towels. *multi tool, *duct tape. *Power Pack *paracord *power pack *ziplock bags *cardboard plates and cups as wells plenty of drinking water and a damn good pack of cigars.

I’m planning a two- or three-day trip somewhere these items find their way into my packing list... and remember… ALWAYS WEAR YOUR PFD.

If tournaments are not your thing, they may also organize day trips for their members around the region. If you are ever in West Virginia. I welcome you to come and see what we do at West Virginia Kayak Anglers. #WVKA Our Club does everything I discussed above, we are a recreational organization first

One of the best ways to learn a good many things about kayak fishing rules, the waters and activities in your area is to look for a local kayak fishing club. My Suggestion: FeelFree Kayaks, Since 2014 I have Many organizations may be officially chartered by your owned the FeelFree Lure 11.5, 3 Waters Big Fish 120 state as a 501(3)(c) Non-Profit. and try do things to and newly redesigned FeelFree Moken V2 12.5 All were super easy choices for me because my priority was give back to the area. Also, many of these clubs may also be affiliated with National Organizations such as stability. KBF (Kayak Bass Fishing) I used the Lure for several years, then moved over to the Big Fish. I am working to outfit the granddaddy of Many of these clubs will be more than likely linked them all for the 2020 Season, The Dorado. This kayak with other businesses in the area or region that support gives me a peddle drive and with the capabilities of it kayak fishermen and offer discounts to you in their stores. Many Local clubs provide local tournaments being motorized, make life for an old Trooper even better. When I’m hitting the West Virginia Rivers you for you to learn the ropes and practice for bigger regional and nation events. will see me in that Moken 12.5 V2.

*Moisture-wicking underwear, *Moisture-wicking T-shirts *Quick-drying pants/shorts *Sun and bug

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profession to the sporting side of competitive Kayak Fishing. Even if you’re not a competitor I recommend everything in this article to make your life a little better on the water.

Our main goals are to: Organize kayak anglers in So, with all that being said, plan a vacation to a remote West Virginia area and beyond. Support and promote area and plan, prepare and most importantly FeelFree the safe and responsible pursuit of the sport of kayak to execute a damn good time. fishing. Promote fellowship and provide a fun meeting place for kayak fishermen. Provide forum for exchange of ideas, fishing information and rigging tips. Sponsor events, group outings and kayak fishing tournaments. Provide an avenue to promote team competitions. Provide public presence to protect interests of kayak fisherman. Lastly and more importantly wherever we go, we as a group contribute to a local charity in the area. Joining your local kayak fishing club will also give you a forum to ask questions and get feedback on what works and doesn’t work in your area. I can tell you I spend a lot of time on and off the water with people that I have met from our club in West Virginia (www.Wvkayakanglers.com). If you are curious about what clubs are in your area Kayak Bass Fishing has a listing on their website that lists ALL the clubs that they are affiliated with. check it out at https://www. kayakbassfishing.com/partners/ Many of us would enjoy getting outside and escaping our day-to-day with some fresh air while traveling. I know several people that pack up their truck, camping and fishing gear and head to an isolated location to decompress from the rigors of life. I have used my FeelFree Kayaks as my reason to do so. I have spent weeks away in Tennessee, South Carolina and even in Florida. The idea behind this article is how I transitioned from a hectic life fast paced lifestyle to one more relaxed and how I slowly transitioned the skills from my former



and schedule our outings monthly all over the state. We also offer our members Online Challenges as well as a multi-species event for people to pursue fish other than just Bass.

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Photo By Scott BeutJer 55



Kayak Fishing Quarterly

You see, I have been in Boise 2 other times in the past couple years chasing the gentle giants of the Snake. This trip, being my 3rd time, would prove to be the most epic of them all. The previous 2 times before would teach me a wealth of knowledge and prepare me for this great adventure in the North-West arid landscapes of Idaho. At every turn, you are met with the natural beauty and landscapes that would give you a small glimpse of what the lands in America use to hold. This is truly Gods’ country up here and it what keeps me coming back for more. Little did we know that the river would hold one of the best days I’ve ever had on any river.

As I loaded into Steve’s truck he explained that we were bound for where we would camp for the evening and start our journey the next morning. After a 1.5 hour commute, we would arrive at CJ Strike Dam. It was late and we were eager to start the next day’s float down the Snake River but still had some rigging to complete and set up camp. We woke up in the morning to a brisk welcoming and made the decision to have some breakfast and wait for the temps to rise. Be it that this is an arid landscape, there’s not much to hold heat at night. As the day would progress, the heat would eventually make its presents known with the ever gazing rays of sun without a cloud to intercept. This is the desert after all. We got the gear loaded up and headed for the launch that was not far from camp. The anticipation of the fight, soon to be had, was taking main stage in my mind. Those thoughts were cast aside for a short period due to the more immediate task of catching some big rainbow trout for bait to get us through the day. Where I live in Northern Illinois there aren’t many opportunities to chase rainbows. My knowledge to this point was minimal at best. The technique that would be employed is “bottom bouncing” where simply you would tie a weight (round preferred) and leave approx. 2 feet of line to tie off a small hook. A split




arrived late in the evening at the Boise airport where my trusted friend “Sturgeon” Steve Carroll is waiting for my arrival. Steve has become a great friend over the past few years and he is a wealth of knowledge on sturgeon fishing on the Snake River. He’s quite the bass fisherman as well and that would prove most evident on this recent trip to the North-Western arid lands.

shot can work great in these situations due to the high probability of snagging the bottom. The trick is to use the perfect amount of weight so you’re making contact with the bottom but is still free to move about as you drift the current in your kayak. The Snake is riddled with rocks and depending on the current you have to be ready to react.

We hit some more spots along the way and then got into the 1st sturgeon of the day which would later measure to over 7ft long. The strength of these fish was something to respect. One error in judgment during the fight could result in an unfortunate dismount from your dry kayak and the likely forfeiture of some gear. When I tell you they are strong you’d better believe it.

We baited the hooks with trout worms and a small River’s Edge gummy in the color of Flo Red or Salmon red to cover the eye of the hook protecting the knot. Our Jackson Kayak Coosa FD’s would prove their worth along this journey navigating the currents. Rivers can be an interesting place to use a pedal kayak but can offer that edge when needed. Another important tool on the kayak is the Micro Power-Pole. This amazing product would show to be instrumental in the later hours.

As the day grew warmer the bite seemed to slow and we were left to period of time without and action. I was getting restless and asked Steve if he’d like to get into some smallies. He was onboard almost immediately and we headed directly across from the spot we were just sitting. We dropped some Ned rigs, and before we knew it, we had found a school of some bronze backs. I mean these fish were practically jumping in the boat. Steve had become so confident that he made this comical gesture while keeping his glance towards me as he dropped the Ned rig into the water (not even looking) and pulled up a nice smallie. We must have caught the entire school easily more than 30 fish in one short sitting. As fast as we had found them they were gone.

We caught some trout just beyond the bridge by the ramp and drifted a bit to the 1st hole along this first section. This was a new technique for me so it would take me some time to become confident in my presentation. I would figure this out quickly and start putting trout in the kayak. I will say it’s an amazing experience to fight a 16in trout on a light action spinning rod setup.

As we continued to drift down the river we would come to this natural break wall of exposed rocks with some calm backwater just beyond. We made for the

Kayak Fishing Quarterly


shore to explore this feature that we would later call Carrandall Point. Again the Ned rig would prove its weight in gold. The water was rushing near where we’d beached the kayaks. Steve tossed the Ned rig into the current and shortly after he was hooked up with a decent smallmouth. This would repeat for a few more times and even a rainbow over 16 inches would make an appearance only to escape our grasp. I had never realized that fish would huddle in this fast of a current and at the sizes we had brought up. Steve would end up catching his personal best smallmouth in the Snake River that day. It was very nice to be a part of this experience with him. He is the most deserving of such an achievement given his dedication and respect for this waterway. Had we not decided to target another species it might have made for an unproductive rest of the day but it didn’t end there thankfully. We headed to the last bend where there was a significant hole that was known to hold 9ft and possibly bigger sturgeon. We set up and threw some cuts of trout once again. I was pretty tired and knew that this hole presented some dangers that made me a bit hesitant to proceed so I let Steve take this last one. He had been talking about this very hole all day and I 59

knew he really wanted a chance to get on the board. It wasn’t long before Steve was being towed out into the eddy and away he went.

We would arrive at the ramp close to sunset and it dawned on me that we didn’t have a vehicle at the ramp.

The sturgeon would start making circles following the eddy’s route of current. After 15 mins Steve got the upper hand and would make his way to shore needing my assistance. I quickly beached my kayak and lowered my Power-Pole. I hastily made my way, into waistdeep water, to pull Steve’s kayak closer to land so he could anchor and dismount into the water where Steve would be able to wrangle the fish and get his hands on it. It was another nice fish nearing 7.5 ft. We were ecstatic which I’m sure is written all over our faces in the pictures taken that day.

I would ask Steve, “How are we going to get the truck?”. He said with a straight face, “I’ll find someone to take me back for a few bucks.” And did that he would LOL. That is the kind of place Idaho is. What a great experience. If you haven’t considered Idaho as a fishing destination, I surely would. It is quite certainly a bucket list location and if you do end up catching a white sturgeon out of the Snake River, you’ll be among the small 1% of kayak fishermen that have.

Kayak Fishing Quarterly


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Spawn Techniques

by Rus Snyders


pring is almost here, and that means bass will be making their migration from their deeper wintering holes to the protected shallow areas to spawn. This is arguably

the best time of the year to catch a bass of a lifetime, but in order to have success you’ve got to know what lure to throw and where to fish it. Here are a few of my favorite ways to approach all three phases of the spawn. PRE SPAWN In order to find prespawn bass, the first step is to locate areas where the fish will be spawning. Before bass move up to spawn they will stage in deeper areas close by. Good examples are secondary points leading into the back of a cove, or a ledge just outside a spawning flat. One of my favorite lures to fish during this period is a jerkbait. I use an iRod Genesis 2 jerkbait rod paired with 20lb braid and a 10-12 lb fluorocarbon leader. The great thing about a jerkbait this time of year is that you

can cover a good amount of water with it, but at the same time slow it way down once you find the fish. A jerkbait that suspends perfectly, or one that sinks very slowly are what I prefer. Changing the size of your hooks is a good way to accomplish what you’re looking for. Changing up the retrieve throughout the day and paying attention to what is triggering the bites is an important thing to do. Sometimes the fish want long pauses and other times they want the bait constantly moving. SPAWN Once that water temperature hits that magical number 63, I look for bedding fish. Some fish will move up a little earlier, and some will wait a little longer, but having water temperatures in the 60’s is good indication that fish are spawning, especially if it is around the full moon. Concentrate on areas that are protected from wind and current, have a hard bottom, and are getting a decent amount of sunlight. This time of the year it is hard to beat a Yamamoto Senko. It’s not the most exciting way to fish, but it just flat out catches them during the

Kayak Fishing Quarterly


spawn. I will rig a Senko a variety of different ways depending on the layout of the cover, and the size of the fish I’m targeting. The traditional way to throw a Senko is weightless on a 4/0 EWG hook. This works great around areas with lots of grass, when you need the bait as weedless as possible. Another option is to wacky rig it, using a size 1-1/0 dropshot or Neko rig hook. Always push the hook through the exact middle of the bait so that it has a balanced natural fall. My favorite places to throw wacky rigged Senkos are around brush and laydowns, or skipping under docks. POST SPAWN After bass have completed their annual mating ritual, they spend a period of time recovering from all the work they’ve put into defending their nest. Many will move back out to deeper water, many times it will be some of the same areas they used for the pre spawn phase. Other fish will stick near by the spawning areas, but just burry down in the thickest cover possible to recooperate. Punching grass mats with a heavy tungsten weight is a good way to target these fish. Having the right gear is crucial for having success with punching. I use an iRod Air 775 paired with 65lb braid, sometimes I use a 20-25lb fluorocarbon leader depending on the water clarity. The punch rig I like throwing consists of a bobber stop, a 1/2 - 2 ounce tungsten weight, a punch skirt, a 3/0 - 6/0 Trokar flipping hook, and some kind of craw style creature bait. My favorite is a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. I vary the size of the tungsten weight depending on how dense the cover is. Most times, a good rule of thumb is to use the lightest weight possible that will still be able to penetrate the cover that you are fishing. Sometimes that can still be and 1-1/2 weight if you are punching thick matted vegetation. For many people, the spawn is really the start of the fishing season. Air temperatures are warming, which means fish as well as all the rest of the animals are becoming more active. Hopefully these tips will give you a better idea of how to approach a body of water this time of year, so that you catch that fish of a lifetime. 63

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Kayak Fishing Quarterly

Photo By Scott BeutJer SPRING 2020