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Southern Kayak Fishing Inside: Featured Kayak Fishing Destination - Chandeleur Islands

issue #5

www.sokayakfishing.com

Nov./Dec. 2015

In this Issue:

Yak Fishing with the Manatees Silver Kings of the Northern Gulf Lake Calcasieu

Extending the Fall Topwater Bites


Yep, it’s just that easy with Western North Carolina’s premier fly shop and guide service. Kevin Howell and his experienced staff have been fishing the surrounding 500 miles of prime trout waters so long, they know all the fish on first name basis. And they’ll be more than happy to make a few introductions.

PISGAH FOREST, NC

GUIDE SERVICES | ONLINE & RETAIL STORE | LESSONS


Editor’s Message

T

here’s no doubt about itwe’re deep into autumn now, even in the South. The winds are sharper, and the leaves are falling- or have already fallen up in the more northerly parts of our region. One of the best things about being a kayak angler in the South is that we don’t have to put our fishing gear away and shut down when the weather turns cool. With proper clothing and gear, it’s not only possible but often very productive to spend time on the water in a kayak fishing in late fall. However, there are some very important things we need to keep in mind at all times. First, is the always crucial use of a personal floatation device. As the water cools, it becomes harder for a swimmer to stay afloat and responsive in case of a roll-over or a slip while entering or exiting a kayak. Have that PFD and wear it! he next important thing about late fall fishing is the necessity of keeping dry. If we’re dry in the ‘yak, we’ll probably be warm. If we get wet, whether from rain or wave action, what might have been a great fishing trip turns into a torture. For every late fall kayak fishing trip, we need to have a complete set of waterproof clothing, and a hooded jacket is good too. We’re all of us different in our response to chilly temperatures, and some kayak anglers can get by in rainy or splashy conditions with a light set of waterproofs. I, on the other hand, don’t handle cold well at all- that’s why I moved to the South from the Midwest- to get away from cold! When I go kayak fishing in chilly conditions, I dig out my neoprene chest waders- the same waders I use for wading when I’m trout fishing in cold, cold trout water. I pull up my waders, and when I get in my kayak for a fishing trip, I know that I will be dry and warm. Of course, the one thing that is absolutely certain for any angler who pulls up full-length waders, is that (continued) December 2015

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Editor’s Message

Southern

Kayak Fishing Editor

Ed Mashburn Edmashburn@aol.com Publisher Don Kirk Don@Southerntrout.com Managing Editor Leah Kirk Leah@Southerntrout.com

(cont.)

fifteen minutes after putting on the waders, he or she will need to use the bathroom- it never fails. That’s just one of the many problems we fall anglers have to do with. But the main point is the same: Keep dry, keep warm, and fall kayak fishing can be some of the best fishing of the entire year. I hope to see you on the water-

Assoc. Managing Editor Loryn Patterson Loryn@Southerntrout.com Ed Mashburn

Technical Advisor Editorial Consultant

Tim Perkins Olive K. Nynne

Contributors Rob Baker Tony Chavers Steve Gibson Danny Holmes Phillip Landry Tim Perkins Steve Sammons John Williams Captain Kristen Wray

Southern Kayak Fishing is a publication of Southern Unlimited, LLC. It is produced in conjunction with Southern Trout Magazine and Southerntrout.com. Copyright 2015 Southern Unlimited, LLC All rights reserved.

www.SoKayakFishing.com

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This Issue Editor’s Letter

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Lake Calcasieu Kayak Fishing Just Gets Better and Better

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Kayak Hacks PVC

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Featured Kayak Shop 26 Cedar Creek Featured Destination 34 Chandeleur Islands Tech Gear Review Skimmer Kayak Motor Kit

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Featured Kayak Eddyline Gear Review Helios PFD

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Rafting 60 A Different Kind of Float Fishing Kayak Review 74 Wavewalk W500 Extending the Fall Topwater Bite

Silver Kings of the Northern Gulf

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Nothing Like an Early Start 106 Kayak Tournament Fishing for Kids Kayak Gear Review 112 Tycoon Extremist Fishin Rod A Pair Made in Heaven 122 Red Eye Bass and Kayak Fishing Yak Fishing with the Manatees

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Kanu Lock Straps

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Micro 5C

WHAT’S BENEA

CLICK TO SEE F

www.aquavu.com


ATH YOUR ‘YAK?

FOR YOURSELF.

Sized to fit the palm of your hand, an Aqua-Vu MICRO Underwater Viewing Systems is the perfect fish-finding device for your kayak. Complete with a 3.5- or 5-inch high resolution LCD, thumb-sized camera and 50 to 100 feet of cable, AquaVu cams are the easiest, best way to see what’s biting below. Used with an Aqua-Vu Pro-Snake Mount, the MICRO clamps quickly to your ‘yak for hours of underwater viewing.


Kayak fishing Gets Better and Better L

ake Calcasieu lies in southwest Louisiana near the Texas border. It’s a massive lake with a wide choice of kayak fishing possibilities ranging from open water shell reef and channel fishing to backwater, bayou type settings. The one thing all of Lake Calcasieu has in common- lots and lots of big, mean, eager to bite fish. Captain Josh Johnson of Triple J Charters is working hard to develop the kayak fishing scene on Lake Calcasieu, and he talked to SKF about the fishing and his plans to offer a guide service tailored to the needs of kayak anglers. Oh, and by the way, Lake Calcasieu is a first-rate fishing destination for kayak anglers- we’ve fished there and caught some fine fish.

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Lake Calcasieu What Captain Josh Tells Us about Lake Calcasieu Lake Calcasieu is known to many as Big Lake, and it encompasses a vast array of locations that are suitable for kayak fishing. First and foremost kayak anglers are able to drive and launch very near to the area they will be fishing. Regardless of wind conditions, there is always clean, salty, calm water to be found. Turners, Pelican Point, Commissary, Old Settlement and Detonville are a few of the areas on the east side of Big Lake. West Cove and Joe’s Cove are areas on the west side of Big Lake. Captain Josh can help visiting kayak anglers access the best spots for varying conditions. December 2015

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Speckled trout, redfish, and flounder are species of choice here due to their abundance and size. Also these are the fish that most of the tournaments target. These three species are the most palate-pleasing to locals. For special interest to visiting kayak anglers, the trout in Big Lake often push shrimp to the surface and feast on them there. This activity draws flocks of feeding birds, and it’s easy to see where the fish are from watching for diving birds. There are some very large redfish in Big Lake. Kayak anglers can fish near the big channel jetties with live bait or large soft-body There is a time during the jigs and have a lot of fun summer months when fighting these bull reds. live bait may become a necessity to avoid a Many kayak anglers will scratch. Rod and reel start out trolling with a choice is a preferential series of baits to cover thing for anglers and different depths to find makes no impact on what the fish want and catch, but having a where they are. Soft spinning combo is often plastics, hard suspending times a good idea when baits, and top water plugs wind conditions become usually are in the angler’s unfavorable. bag. 12 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Spring and fall are excellent seasons and will increase chances of bringing in a nice catch. These are also times of the year with more moderate temperatures and more bearable conditions. And these fish are in a transitional stage. In spring and fall, the fish are actively feeding, and they can be much easier to locate and catch.


Certain Points of Concern to Visiting Kayak Anglers Kayak anglers need to keep in mind that Big Lake is, in fact, a very big lake. Safety must come first due to the high traffic the lake has. There’s a lot of commercial barge traffic on Calcasieu, and kayak anglers need to keep an eye open for what’s going on around them. Also, tidal As another added feature movement could pose a problem if kayakers are in of the Triple J kayak a marshy area and trying fishing experience, to get out on an incoming visiting kayak anglers tide. can stay in the newly renovated lodge run by Captain Josh. The lodge has three bedrooms- two To contact Triple J charters for more baths, and up to nine information: anglers can sleep. This A Special Kind of Guide might very well be the Service for Kayak Anglers best possible way for a 337-274-0183 Captain Josh and Triple J group of visiting kayak Triplejchartersllc.com Charters are developing anglers to experience a mothership service the great fishing at Big for kayak anglers. This Lake while not having to service will allow kayak travel far to clean up, cool anglers to quickly access down from the hot fishing, remote fishing locations and still be close enough while not having to to the water to go for a paddle or peddle their sunset paddle if desired. way to these spots. Also, having a full-time guide leading the kayak fishing expeditions from the larger anchored mothership will help anglers unfamiliar with the area much more quickly get into the hot bite. The whole idea of the mothership charter service is that anglers will be taken to places they would not be able to go to or experience without the guide’s help.

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Kayak H

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Hacks P V C By Steve Moore December 2015

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Schedule 40 PVC pipe is the perfect material for kayak customization. It’s inexpensive, easy to work with and, best of all, shade tree mechanic efforts will not result in a hot ball of fire as a “good idea” goes horribly wrong. PVC engineers can cut and adjust the pipe to very specific requirements instead of having to settle for a “one size fits all” commercial product. Note: For these as well as previous hacks, visit the “Kayak Hacks” YouTube Channel to see videos with specifics on how to implement each suggestion organized into playlists for each issue of the magazine. The Problem: Fish On! That once-in-a-lifetime beast, upset at being hooked, immediately executes evasive maneuvers practiced and refined by years of outfoxing anglers. The most common trick an educated fish employs is to run behind the kayak; causing the angler to twist, turn and thread an erratically jumping rod with a screaming reel between other rods stored vertically in either the built-in holders or those attached to a fishing crate. Many times, the associated gymnastics put slack in the line, allowing the fish to throw the hook. Goodbye trophy and hello another “one that got away story!” 18 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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The Solution: Go horizontal! The only reason most anglers store rods vertically is because the kayak came with built-in rod holders behind the seat designed to hold the rod upright at an angle. Using a milk crate? You probably put the holder on vertically since that is the traditional configuration. Either way, the position creates a fish-losing obstacle course. Instead, leverage the built-in rod holders to hold PVC pipe to reorient the rods from vertical to horizontal. Construction is simple and uses 1” PVC for all components except 1 ¼” PVC for the actual rod holders. Assemble a “U” framework with three “T” connectors sized to span the gap between the built-in holders. If the seat is close, orient the T connectors vertically. If there is a gap (as the picture shows) between the rod holder and the seat, point the T connector towards the seat. Use a hole saw on your drill to drill a 1 1/8” hole to hold the legs of the “U.”

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For the vertical option, cut a short section of PVC pipe and attach a 90° elbow at the top. If going horizontal, assemble another “U” to move the framework within reach as shown in the picture. Attach an adapter to the 90° elbow, increasing the size from 1” to 1 ¼”. Cut a 6 ½” length of 1 ¼” PVC pipe and insert into the adapter. After dry-fitting and marking the joints, apply PVC primer, cement and quickly assemble using the witness marks on the joints. Do not glue the 1 ¼” pipe. To use, place the rod handles into the pipe. At 6 ½”, the rods will stay in place unless navigating exceptionally rough water. To grab a rod, reach behind and grip the 1 ¼” pipe, twist, remove and bring it forward so you can comfortably extract the rod from it. Reinsert the empty piece of pipe. Now, when a fish runs behind the boat, it’s an easy matter to continue to turn with the fish, keeping pressure on without the need to dodge vertical obstacles.

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The Problem: Anchor Storage. There are two problems. The first is safety. When not in use, most anchors end up on the bottom of the boat between the angler’s legs with the rope on top; creating a tangling hazard if the boat tips over. The second problem is specific to sit inside kayaks. Lacking scupper holes, any water introduced into the boat stays there and a dripping anchor provides plenty of liquid to make the inside a wet, miserable mess.

The Solution: Keep the anchor away from your legs and positioned to allow

liquid to drip back into the water, not the boat.

Install a short utility track in back of the seat. Insert a gearhead to hold the anchor hanger. Using ½” PVC, create a “T” and apply an end cap to both sides of the T (only one side if using a spring clip to hold an anchor float as recommended in an earlier issue – pictured. Most clips will not fit over the cap.).


To keep the assembly from spinning in the gearhead, drill a small hole completely through the stem; sized to fit a small nail. The nail should be long enough to fit in the gap between the gearhead notches; creating “stops� to prevent lateral movement. Use JB MarineWeld or other epoxy to glue the nail in place. Do not glue the T into the gearhead. To use the hanger, place the anchor on the capped side of the T and coil the anchor rope on the other. If you created the anchor float, slide the spring clip over the uncapped side. If needed, take a wrap or two around the hanging equipment to hold it in place. The rope is stored safely and water will drip away from the boat; allowing you and your gear to stay dry and rust free.


Kayak Hack Red Flag! After seeing some of the YouTube videos on outriggers made using PVC, I thought it would be a good idea to document how to make one and include the process in this article. Following the general guidance from multiple contributors, I created an outrigger using 1” PVC extending down to ¾” PVC holding 27 inches of pool noodle to provide the necessary counterforce against the water. I attached the assembly to my Scotty rod holders and tested the result in a swimming pool. While this type of outrigger may provide some additional stability while sitting, it is totally UNSAFE if you intend to stand. It does not work! Under pressure, the rod holder gives way and the same twisting force may also destroy the utility track by wrenching it out of its holes. Given the limitation of only being useful when sitting, outriggers are not worth it since they are a hassle to store when not in use. When installed, they interfere with paddling and add wind resistance with the certainty of a tangled line when landing fish. If you are not happy with the stability of your kayak, it would be better to get a more stable boat than rely on this kludge. Check out the video showing the test on the Kayak Hacks channel in the playlist associated with this issue.

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Disclaimer: Do not apply any suggestion if it will ruin the appearance, function or structural integrity of your kayak. You are solely responsible to determine if the above ideas are appropriate for your boat and the author and publisher disclaim any responsibility for your actions and decisions. Calling all shade tree kayak mechanics! We know the innate all-American creative urge has resulted in many great Do-It-Yourself innovations to improve the basic kayak platform or provide cost effective alternatives to commercial products. If you have an idea to share in a future issue, send a description and a picture or two. If you already captured your idea on YouTube, just send the link with permission to use images extracted from the video. Everything goes to Steve Moore at Steve@kayakhacks.com. Check out the Kayak Hacks YouTube channel for project ideas.

TM

A simple and effective system to get your bead on.

www.ontheflyproducts.com

made in the u.s.a.

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CEDAR CREEK PARK featured kayak shop

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e always like to let the Readers of SKF know about great kayak shops in the different regions of the South, and this issue is no different. We would like to tell the world about a very special shop, Cedar Creek Park, in Cave Spring, Georgia. Just 60 miles northwest of Atlanta, Cedar Creek is near Rome and Cedartown, and it offers kayak anglers not only a wonderful place to look at and learn about fishing kayaks for sale, but also a great place to stay in the 62 site campground. Of course, the Big Cedar Creek is right there for kayak try-outs and wonderful float trips. This shop is a great place for kayak anglers in Georgia to find whatever kayak style and size they need for their particular fishing needs. A full range of gear and accessories is also carried by the kayak shop at Cedar Creek Park. We got the fine folks at Cedar Creek to tell us about their location and their shopfor kayak anglers in the Atlanta area, this would be good place to find a new kayak or products to make kayak fishing better...

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featured kayak shop

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featured kayak shop

SKF-So what makes the area that you serve so special? Cedar Creek- What makes the creek so special is that it is a spring fed creek with a very diverse amount of fish and beautiful scenery. You will find large amounts of crappie in the early part of the year and striped bass in the early summer. Also, large mouth bass, gar, bream, catfish, and an occasional trout. SKF-What’s the kayak fishing scene like in your area? Cedar Creek- Kayak fishing interest has really boomed the past 3-4 years. It's been awesome to see family’s pick-up the sport and get everyone on the water these past few years and just really fall in love with the sport. SKF-How long has Cedar Creek been in operation? Cedar Creek- Our Outfitter Store has been open for around 7 or 8 years, but we also have a campground that has been here about 20 years. SKF-What makes your shop special for kayakers and their needs? Cedar Creek- We pride ourselves on customer service and being a complete outfitter with everything you need by keeping 300-500 kayaks in stock. Also, we carry a wide range of accessories as well. SKF-How do you strive to meet the needs of kayak anglers in your region? Cedar Creek- We try to stay involved with the kayak fishing community to see how we can best meet their needs. Also, by participating with a few fishing groups and just staying involved with the community. SKF-How about folks just starting with kayak fishing? Cedar Creek- We see a lot of beginners walk through the door every day looking for advice and direction to help figure out what they need. SKF-What does your shop do to help kayak anglers? Cedar Creek- We try to give customers the best advice when it comes to figuring out what they need, where they want to use it, and how to get them setup to accomplish that. 28 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured kayak shop

SKF-What products/brands does your shop carry for kayak anglers? Cedar Creek- We carry a wide amount of vendors such as: Wilderness System's, Perception, Old Town, Ocean Kayak, Dagger, Mad River Canoe, Werner Paddles, Carlisle Paddles, Yakattack, Astral PFD's, and Extrasport. SKF-How does your shop attract kayak anglers? Cedar Creek- Our shop attracts people through our customer service and also being a destination location. We have rentals of most of kayak's we carry. Families will come to test out different kayaks from all over the state and camp out with us for the weekend. They always leave with a smile and most of the time with a new kayak. SKF-Do you see any trends in kayak angling at this time? Cedar Creek- The trend for kayak fishing is booming in our area. We have numerous rivers and creeks around in our area, so it is hard to go anywhere and not see someone paddling. Families and friends will see one another paddling and get the kayak fever instantly.

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featured featured kayak kayak shop shop

SKF-what do you want our readers to know about your shop more than anything else? Cedar Creek- We are a family business that prides ourselves on customer service and the customer having a great experience. We have Big Cedar Creek that we run shuttles on where you can try out the kayaks you're interested in purchasing so that way you can get a good idea on how you like it. We stock a ton of inventory to help meet our customer's needs. To contact Cedar Creek: 6770 Cave Spring Rd SW Cave Spring, GA 30124 706-777-3030 camp@bigcedarcreek.com

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VisitWakulla The Natural Place to Be in Florida

With 73 miles of coastline and 4 fresh water rivers Wakulla County is the destination to fish! For launch areas, marinas and guides/outfitters visit our website at

VisitWakulla.com or call (850) 984-3966 Wakulla County Tourist Development Council


Kayak Fishin at featured kayak destination

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Editor’s Note- Mothership kayak fishing is one of our favorite ways to seriously get after some good fish. The Chandeluer Islands off the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana are some of the finest places on the Gulf Coast for super-hot inshore fishing. Put these two items together, and we’ve got a kayak fishing trip to paradise. Our buddy Andrew Austin is kind enough to tell us about his experiences. I’ve been fortunate enough over my few years here on Earth to explore and fish many places along the Gulf Coast; not many though, are nearly exciting or as fun as a long weekend out at the Chandeleur Islands off the MS/LA coast. Every year when the chill of winter starts to subside and spring fishing starts kicking off we start planning our trips out to this incredible fishery. We have a group of friends from all along the Gulf Coast that meet up in Ocean Springs, MS, load up the ‘yaks and mothership the 45 miles out to the islands. Our good friend Craig Bounds allows us to use his trawler the “Freedom” to make the trek out to the islands. He’s even modified the boat to allow it to carry 8+ kayaks with ease.

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Fishing the Islands

You can catch fish on just about anything you want to throw out there from soft plastics on jig heads to top water lures. We find that once you recognize a particular color pattern the fish are wanting to strike you can throw just about any style lure. As long as it has that pattern the fish are looking for on it, you’ll catch fish. Favorites of the crew are soft plastics (shrimp or paddle tails) under a popping cork, weedless gold spoons, and of course top water Spooks.

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Depending on which side of the islands you are on will play a part in what kind of baits you will want to throw. On the east side of the islands you have a beach/surf style fishing that is similar to what you will find off many beaches along the Gulf Coast. We fish the cuts and troughs along the sand bars on the “surf” side. On the west side of the island there are miles and miles of grass beds like you would find in Florida waters where you look for flats and cuts in the grass beds where the fish like to sit and wait for that unsuspecting bait fish to cruise by. We’re typically fishing in waters that are 4-6’ or less. You can literally fish from sun up to sun down out there and catch fish the whole time no matter which side of the island you are on.

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featured kayak destination

How It’s Done Typically we run the trips from Thursday to Sunday and they go something like this. We’ll load up the boat early Thursday afternoon and cast off around 5pm. We ride out, eat, drink, and tell fishing stories along the way and anchor in our spot after the sun goes down. Friday morning we’re up early launching the kayaks off the boat loading them down with all our gear and refreshments. Then we’re off to our favorite spots. We all carry handheld VHF radios to keep in contact with each other in case of emergency or (more importantly) if someone is on a hot bite.

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After the first day of fishing has come to an end, we’ll all head back to the boat and tally up what we’ve caught for the day. We secure our gear in the yaks and leave them tied to the back of the boat in the water overnight so we can get in them and go early the next morning. As long as we’re catching fish, we filet up enough and enjoy a fresh fried fish dinner with all the fixin’s that night. Then we’ll sit back and tell our fish stories of the day and scheme for the next. Saturday we’re up early and back at it again. Usually by the second day we’ve located our fish and figured out what they are looking for and we get after them. There’s not much more exciting than getting on that hot bite and loading down a cooler full of quality fish. We keep a tally the whole time and determine on Saturday night what we need to catch on the final day to finish off our limit or if we just want to want to get out there to have some fun. We’ll leave the kayaks in the

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featured kayak destination

water again Saturday night and have another cookout that night, rest, and recover for the final morning of fishing. We load up around mid-day Sunday after another short outing that morning and head in. Because the islands are in Louisiana waters you can keep a Louisiana limit on fish taken from there. Once back at the dock we clean the boat, clean the fish, and say our goodbyes and head back to the normal grind, just waiting for that next trip.

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tech gear review

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tech gear review

The Skimmer Kayak Motor Kit Here’s a fact- we’re all getting oldersome are already pretty far down that road. Here’s another fact- sometimes even we kayakers need a little help when it comes to propelling our ’yaks from place to place. In short, there are times when paddling or peddling is just not as much fun or as effective as it used to be. I refuse to give up my kayak angling because I can’t paddle as well or as long as I used to be able- so this new product, the Skimmer Kayak Motor Kit is just the answer to my problem. This easy to attach and use system uses a 12-volt trolling motor which has been custom designed for kayak use to quietly and quickly move a kayak across the water.

Watercraft Technologies has built the Skimmer system so that it only weighs 7 lbs- not including battery, of course. It snaps onto the stern of almost all kayaks in just a few moments, it propels the ‘yak at 2-4 mph- probably better than most of us can paddle or peddle, and it will go for five or six hours in most use situations. Also, the controls of this little unit come on an extension cord which means the kayak angler doesn’t have to twist-turn the tiller handle- a system I find confusing and difficult at times. What all this means is that the kayak angler sits comfortably facing forward at all times- a point of great importance to safety.

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tech gear review The thing I like best about this system is that it is tiller steered with an extended tiller so the angler doesn’t have to sit half-turned around as with standard trolling motors jury-rigged for use with a kayak. It’s a simple push-pull system to turn, and instead of going through some difficult and very possibly dangerous contortions to lift the lower unit up when landing the kayak or going in super-shallow water, the Skimmer Motor lifts with a pull of a cordand then drops back into position with another tug of the cord. This is a very well-thought out and built system, and it works well.

For those times when the unit is not needed, the motor and tiller just snap off the mounting plate, and the kayak is back in its original unpowered form. We recommend this neat little unit highlyespecially for those of us kayak anglers who

The Skimmer Kayak Motor system comes in two thrust configurations- 17 lb and 24 lb power ratingsboth are built and rated for both freshwater and marine use. The 17 lb thrust unit costs $347 and the 24 lb unit is $397. The stronger unit would be better for bigger kayaks or larger anglers aboard. 48 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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can’t-or just don’t want to- paddle our kayaks all of the time. The Skimmer Kayak Motor system is well worth a close examination. For more information: Watercraft Technologies 631-440-6119 www.KayakTrollingMotor. com


tech gear review

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featured kayak review

W

e first saw this kayak at the ICAST show in Orlando in July, and it’s not exaggerating to say that this boat caught my eye from across the massive showroom. The Eddyline 135 is a gorgeous looking kayak. The kayak is lower and sleeker than most kayaks designed for fishing, but it appears to have enough beam to be able to carry a full load of gear and angler.

The kayak is 13’5” long and weighs 69 lbs- the light weight of the boat is both an advantage and a potential problem. This should be a wonderful cartop rack kayak. It may also be somewhat susceptible to wind. The boat’s load capacity is 450 lbs. Featuring YakAttack’s new GTTL top loading GearTrac, the C-135 has been designed to accept a variety of trolling motors, stakeout poles, and various aftermarket accessories- including a casting bar. The floor plan is open, and the boat provides stability for the angler to stand for casting. 52 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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In keeping with the kayak market’s general movement toward better and more comfortable seating, the C-135 offers the Cloud 10 Seating System- which has four seating positions for comfort. The seat can be folded back when the angler is standing, and the seat is easily removed from the boat. The C135 comes in two versions- the C-135 is a basic platform that gives the angler plenty of opportunity to add personally preferred accessories on a kayak designed with maximum stability and comfort. The C-135 YakAttack Edition comes with lots of bells and whistles. The Yakattack Blackpac in grey, a

VisiCarbon Pro for improved safety day and night, and intuitive Zooka Tube for either spinning or casting rods, paddle clips, and a variety of strategically placed YakAttack Gear Tracs to allow plenty of gear additions. Both editions are available in yellow, silver, or my favorite- seagrass. And did we mention- the Eddyline C-135 won the ICAST New Product of the Year competition against a wide range of all new fishing products? This boat from the West Coast looks like a real winner- I can’t wait until it appears in our Southern kayak shops for sale- I might just have to price one for my own use. December 2015

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FLY DESIGNER

BOB MALLARD AUTHOR OF GEARHEAD COLUMN

NO MISS MOUSE

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quickie product review

W

e get to see a lot of different kayak fishing gear to review for our readers at SKF, and of all the gear that we examine, Personal Floatation Devices are probably the most important. We take this review process very seriously- PFDs can literally be the difference between life and death for kayak anglers. We’re pleased to present a really nice and reasonably priced inflatable PFD which kayak anglers should consider- one of these MTI Adventurewear Helios 2.0 flotation devices would make a very nice Christmas present for any kayak anglers. The Helios 2.0 comes in two colors- dark grey and the new more feminine mango/caribe print. This jacket has been redesigned for improved fit. The longer stole shape with comfort V-yoke makes the unit much more wearable over long days on the water. The mesh 3-D lining moves water quickly away from the paddler’s body. And the padded neoprene neck is comfortable while vigorous paddling or peddling is going on. There’s a front pocket and back strobe strap for emergency gear. The Helios 2.0 has reflective trim, and the jacket comes equipped with a signal whistle.

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The bayonet style CO-2 inflation cylinder is included and comes with an indicator window. This comfortable and small jacket is USCG rated for Type III- approved to be worn or carried. This is a very highly recommended PFD for kayak anglers- it’s keeper for sure. MSRP- $139.95 For more information: www.mtiadveturewear.com 1-800-783-4684

mti Adventurewear December 2015

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Rafting – A Different K Fishing by Ragan Whitlock

Federation of Fly Fishers Casting Instructor

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O

ver the last decade, more and more fishing guides have begun using rafts with fishing platforms. Fly-fishing and spin fishing out of rafts brings a

unique set of benefits as well as disadvantages. Whether you are in the market for a new fishing watercraft or just looking at what guided trip you would prefer, there are a few things to learn about rafts. The first thing that comes to mind with regards to rafting is the word “hybrid�. For years, drift boats have been the solution for the winding western rivers. Images of the classic wooden or fiberglass boat have been plastered over fishing magazines everywhere. Smaller and rockier rivers were

Kind of Float

always navigated by fishing kayaks. Now, rafts are popping up everywhere; any size river and terrain can be managed in a whitewater raft. Access is not dictated by boat ramps. A small clearing and a little elbow grease will allow fishing in almost all conditions. While rafts are certainly the most versatile of boating bunch, they do have their drawbacks. To really understand how raft fishing works, it is important to know every angle: The good, the bad, and the just plain weird.

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The Good: As I mentioned before, rafts are incredibly versatile. Where drift boat owners need to check water flows and release schedules constantly to make sure the bottom of the boat will be safe, raft owners should feel comfortable with almost any flow. Even though sharp rocks will always present a threat of puncturing the raft, shallow shoals are rarely dangerous. Rafts can usually bounce from rock to rock while going down the river without a second thought. If the river runs too shallow, the light rafts can easily be dragged across gravel bottoms. The worst-case scenario is also very different for raft fishermen.

Flipping a raft, while not impossible, is highly improbable in areas where fishing can be done. Even if a fishermen in the boat steps or falls out of a raft, it will be stable enough to put weight anywhere on the side of the boat without tilting. If a sharp rock does find a way to puncture a section of the raft, fishing does not have to stop either. Most fishing rafts are comprised of many air compartments surrounding the hull. If one of those compartments gets punctured, releasing air from the adjacent compartment will make the raft stabilize. With regards to fishing, a raft offers a much more luxurious experience than a kayak. Standing is almost no issue. The bucket seats located in the front and back of most raft fishing frames allow two fishermen easy standing and lounging access. The stability of the raft is also important while fishing. Hitting rocks and swift currents will not jostle a fisherman nearly as much as in a kayak.

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The Bad: The term “bad” may seem a little scary at first. By no means are any of the limitations seen in a raft a huge issue. Rafts are simply different from other watercraft, geared to be more proficient in some areas and less in others. The same may be said for kayaks, drift boats, float tubes, bass boats or any other fishing vessel.

The most noticeable limitation of the kayak for me is the “feel” of working the oars. Paddling a kayak almost feels like a knife diving through butter. Every stroke is magnified because of the small aerodynamic boat. Big fiberglass or wooden drift boats are much more technical to steer. Still, the drift boat almost seems predisposed to facing correctly and moves surprisingly well. A raft on the other hand just doesn’t have the same “feel” on the water. Using the oars feels like someone took a clunky whitewater raft and added the ingredients of a fishing boat to it. No surprise, but a beginner working the sticks on a raft may take a little longer to grow accustomed.

The actual fishing ease for the two people on the front and back of the raft can be considered good and bad. With regards to a kayak, there is no comparison. Raft fishing allows two people to be completely focused on the fishing. The oarsman, not having a particularly easy seat to fish from, focuses on the rowing and positioning with the current. Both bucket seats on most raft fishing frames are incredibly comfortable. Sitting down and spin fishing is a very easy motion, and you are positioned high enough off the water to preform the correct trajectory on an accurate cast. Fly-fishing from the bucket seats is also easier than expected, though standing up is always more space efficient. On the raft, there are usually two support bars in front of the rear and front fishermen. These support bars, comparable to leg locks on a drift boat, keep the standing fisherman from falling forward when the boat stops or hits a rock. Compared to a drift boat, however, fishing is significantly more difficult. December 2015

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All drift boats, or hard-bottom riverboats with wide hulls, perform pretty similarly. The boats are heavier than a raft, but feel incredible while standing or maneuvering to fish. Rafts, obviously more shallow bottomed than drift boats, seem to stay cluttered in comparison to the large boats. The soft bottom of a raft is also not the easiest to stand and move on, while a wooden or fiberglass bottom is relatively simple. Still, the most noticeable difference between the fishing performance in a raft and the fishing performance in a drift boat is how the raft is packaged. The fishing frames most guides and fishermen purchase for their whitewater rafts simply tighten onto the top of the outer air tubes. These fishing packages usually come with the same general set up as what a drift boat would feature. The oarsman has a small seat in the middle and the two-bucket seats for the fishermen have either leg locks or a support bar for balance while standing. While the general set up is the same, the drift boat is far more comfortable and stable for the fisherman.

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The Weird: A drift boat has more than just a classic “feel” compared to a raft. Rafts seem unnatural in the water. Because of the incredibly non-aerodynamic shape, the raft does not seem to knife through the water at all. Instead, fishing a raft almost feels like it does when floating down whitewater areas. The raft will not “break” but it does have an affinity for hitting rocks and turning sideways. Still, the stability of the raft makes the oaring errors seem less dangerous. The float will not always be smooth, but a novice fisherman or guide shouldn’t have as much worry about something catastrophic happening. Rafts are also maintained quite differently than drift boats and kayaks. Rafts have to be constantly adjusted at the air pressure valves because of the expansion the high sun will have on the air tubes. Early in the morning when the trip is starting, the raft needs to be almost over pumped because of the cold air. As the temperatures rise, so does the air pressure. Popping, fracturing or exploding is not a huge threat, but can happen if the owner is negligent. If the tubes feel hard as a rock toward the end of a trip, a five-minute break to relieve pressure could be a day saver. Despite the air pressure adjustments, rafts are possibly the easiest watercraft to care for. Patch jobs are not hard to manage on the raft, and a simple hose down at the end of the day keeps it looking new. As with most wide boats, however, it would be smart for the owner to purchase a protective covering. The covering will not only protect against the late summer UV rays, but will also keep out debris from a strong storm or the appearance of fall.

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Consensus: So what does this mean with regards to purchasing or looking at a raft? Simply put, it means everything. Rafts are excellent fishing vessels in many conditions. Like all vessels, however, rafts have their drawbacks. As a guide in Western North Carolina, my NRS Outlaw raft with the appropriate fishing frame is incredibly useful. I am able to float almost any delayed harvest section, regardless of river flow. Smallmouth fishing is even easier. Many smallmouth sections in WNC are incredibly rocky, scaring off many fiberglass and wooden drift boat owners.

For my exact needs in WNC, the raft is clearly superior. I can go anywhere and do anything that I need to in the rocky rivers. If I lived anywhere else, or focused my guiding in other places, the raft may not be the option. A Florida canal or river fisherman would do a disservice to himself to use anything but a kayak. Likewise, a large river fisherman in Tennessee or South Carolina would get incredibly frustrated with the maneuverability of a raft. If the river is deep and winding, not shallow and shoal riddled, a big drift boat works like a charm. Regardless of location or what seemed to look the best in the magazine, each fisherman needs to review his or her own fishing areas to find out what suits best. If more information is needed, contact a local guide service and ask for advice. If anyone would know what the best way to tackle water around you, it would be the local guide who fishes more than 100 days a year.

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kayak review

THE WAVEWALK FISHING KAYAK

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kayak review

K W500

T

he Wavewalk W500 twin-hull kayak is not your traditional sit-inside or SOT kayak, but, rather, what I like to call my SOTI (sit-ontop-inside) yak. None of the several fishing kayaks I tried before buying could compare with the W500 for comfort, stability, storage, roominess and stealthiness. Its twin-hull design allows for stand-up paddling and improved site fishing. All stored gear is within easy reach. Most importantly, for a 75 year old guy with a few discs beginning to bulge out in all the wrong places, it allows me to sit in comfort, stand up, lay down, stretch, move around and return to shore pain-free and able to emerge in a full upright position after a full day of fishing. If I occasionally lose my balance while looking for feeding redfish in a standing position, I simply sit back down on the high saddle for a second before resuming my search.

BY GARY RANKEL

December 2015

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kayak review

Applying self-adhesive pads on the W500 saddle provides a bit of cushioning for my behind and a soundproof surface in front on me for changing lures and keeping other items handy. The foam noodles rigged around the cockpit rim allow for repeated casting and paddling in total silence, allowing me to sneak up on feeding redfish in a foot or less of water. With the help of a magic marker, these noodles also can be used to measure fish at the side of the yak while they’re still in the water

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kayak review

The twin hull design tracks well with no need for a rudder, and I can keep up with most mono-hull fishing yaks. Anchoring is a breeze. Unlike mono-hull yaks, in windy conditions, I can move fore and aft along the 6-foot long saddle, thereby raising either the front or rear hulls, and allowing the wind to catch the raised section to turn me in the direction I want to go. When pushing off from shore, especially in cold weather, I can enter from between the hull tips, often staying dry or with just one slightly wet foot. Beaching the W500 while sitting toward the rear of the cockpit will elevate the bow, often allowing for a dry exit between the forward hull tips. The higher saddle and enclosed cockpit provide good protection against wakes and water spray. I can wear comfortable, warm clothing with little fear of getting wet December 2015

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kayak review The W500 is fairly light (60 pounds) and easy to carry or drag around with comfortable handles on each hull tip. Each hull tip also serves as a large, easily reachable storage compartment. Additional storage can be arranged on top of and between the hull tips, which I use to mount my anchor, compass and other items to free up more room in the cockpit and help keep it dry. I also taped a fish ruler between the hull tips allowing for measurements and pictures without having to bring the fish into the cockpit. Flush rod holders can be added to the hull tips and clamp-on holders are easily attached along the cockpit rim. I recommend the longer (9-foot), sturdier paddle available from Wavewalk to maximize paddling performance. While a bit heavier than others, it is super sturdy, and can double as a push pole. The W500 is relatively easy to motorize with a transom motor mount available from the company. It has a load capacity of 360 pounds and, with its 6-foot long cockpit, can accommodate two adults. I’ve even had a couple of grandkids on board with me. 78 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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kayak review There is little not to like about the W500. It is a bit pricey. If you live near a Wavewalk dealership (list available on its website), you can inspect and test drive one before deciding to buy. Otherwise, you will have to order directly from the company. Wavewalk does not accept credit cards or PayPal, so you need to understand and feel comfortable with its Product and Service Policy before ordering. Rain will fall into the large open cockpit and accumulate on the bottom of the hulls, however, a plastic tarp covering can be positioned over the opening to minimize the accumulation. I simply place a couple of large sponges in the hull tips and keep a plastic container on board to bail if need be. Cameras, and other gear stored under cover in the four spacious hull tip compartments will stay dry. While it’s possible to tip the Wavewalk on its side if you try to by leaning over far enough, foam noodles attached to the sides or around the cockpit rim keep it from tipping upside down and filling with water. Re-entering from the water is December 2015

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kayak review

and helpful in answering Detailed specs, articles, any questions I’ve had an informative blog, over the years. videos and other information are available on the Wavewalk website (www.wavewalk.com). I have found the Wavewalk folks to be very prompt

easy, even for an old guy like me; you simply swim between the hull tips, raise one foot onto each, and then use your arms and legs to lift and push yourself up and into the cockpit.

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kayak review

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December 2015

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Extending the Fa

I

had to drive slowly on Route 322 North. Once into the mountains, the cool air seemed to be trapped in place, and the warmth of the river just hung in the valley. Brake lights ahead of me glowed in the fog, and I thought, “The topwater bite is going to be incredible as long as I can get on the river before it burns off!� By the time my buddy Rick and I reached the ramp, the sun was cresting Blue Mountain on the opposite side of the Susquehanna River.

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all Topwater Bite by Jeff Little

Fortunately, the early fall fog hung around for over two hours before burning off. In that time, Rick and I pulled smallmouth after smallmouth out of the push water of a major ledge system. With the water still in the 70’s, the fish seemed to want to hold on the upstream side of grass beds, ledge rocks, boulders or any other object that would afford them the “pillow” of soft water that they didn’t need to work too hard to hold in.

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Sometimes, On Top is Best Rick threw a slender profile buzzbait, and I threw a River2Sea Whopper Plopper 90. While both baits afforded us the excitement of seeing a big brown bass slash and knock around our topwater bait, the one I was using was catching more fish. Some of them were hooked in places like the top of their head, half way down their cheek or under the chin. I figure that the fish see a lot of baits and don’t always commit right away. But they need to slap it around a little bit to see what it does. Many anglers set the hook as soon as they see the blow up. I coached Rick, an experienced Chesapeake Bay striped bass angler how to not set the hook until he feels the rod load up. “Look away from it if you need to!” I told him. He nodded and reminded me that he has plenty of experience with topwater with a different kind of bass. We chalked up the disparity of catch rate to the treble hooks, and I lent him a rod with a Whopper Plopper tied on already. He nailed an 18 inch smallmouth on his third cast with it.

Don’t Give up on the Topwater By the time the fog was completely gone, I switched to crankbaits, knowing that I might need to dig them out of the shady ledge trenches at the base of the rapids. That tactic worked, but I missed seeing them smash a bait on the surface. Pulling closer to the shade of Blue Mountain, I made another cast into the mountain’s shadow with the topwater plug. Right away, I found the affirmation I was hoping for: a bass that didn’t show itself until it rocketed toward the strongest chute of current it could find, peeled drag then went airborne. I lost that one on the jump, but it showed me that I could extend the morning “low light” bite by working the shallows in the shadow of the mountain. At a quarter ‘til noon, I was still catching them on topwater. Rick commented as he caught up with me that he had abandoned it, but having watched me continue to nail them, went back to it. He found them in the narrow shade of grass beds. With my mountain shade real estate exhausted, I moved on to targeting the shade of submerged boulders. December 2015

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As soon as I would pull into a new pool, I would stand up, identify the largest dark shadows, or at the very least scout the boils of water coming to the surface in the deep parts of the pool, then launch the plug as far as I could beyond it. I could feel the excitement building in anticipation as the noisy and splashy prop bait sputtered over the deep structure. It rarely passed one without a violent blow up. I kept the rod pointed at the bait to improve my hook up ratio at such great distances.

Gear for Fall Topwater River Fishing My rod for this tactic is one that loads very well. My buddy Jim Dutt owns and operates Smallie Stix Custom Rods. He built it on a St. Croix blank designed for crankbaits. The moderate action makes for super long casts, which is an asset in clear waters. It also bows well to each jump and head shake of a treble hooked fish. I don’t land all of them when they jump, but my landing and hook up ratio really changed once I switched from fast action to moderate action rod. The other aspect of my topwater set up that makes it work well is 15 lb braid and a 12 lb copolymer leader. The braid passes through the guides effortlessly, adding great distance to an already long cast. By 4 p.m. both Rick and I had bloody thumbs, both from handling the bass and from the occasional inadvertent treble hook slicing our skin as we tried to unhook and recast as quick as possible. Pulling into the gravel take out, I tossed out one more cast to a clump of matted eel grass on the front side of a boulder. Another brown mass of aggression pummeled the Whopper Plopper. Fall topwater doesn’t get any better. To see the actual footage of this day, check out Jeff’s video channel, Tight Line Junkie Journal. Link to video: https://tightlinejunkiejournal.pivotshare.com/ media/early-fall-topwater-tactics/32488/feature

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SILVER KINGS OF THE NORTHERN GULF By Chris Vecsey

T

here are many “first” catches that stick out in an angler’s mind. Many memories fade with time and I'll readily admit that there are quite a few that have become quite vague for me. My first tarpon is not one of them. I remember every second of it. I was a young kid on vacation with family in the Florida Keys and I was dead-set on catching one of the resident fish that often rolled around the end of our pier. One afternoon, I put a live shrimp on the nose of a twenty pound fish that rolled 15ft in front of me. The speed and power of that fish sunk the hook in me deep and went well past the barb! At that point, I never would've imagined taking on tarpon of far greater sizes and especially not in a kayak. Nowadays, I do just that….and I do it much closer to home!

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FINDING THE FISH

Tarpon fishing along the Northern Gulf coast isn't a big secret, but when most think of targeting them, the Florida Keys, Boca Grande, Homosassa and other big-name locations come to mind. Only in recent years has a spotlight started to shine on our fishery here. The internet would be the obvious reason for the exposure and while many knew about the tarpon in our area, local reports brought awareness to the reliability. The tarpon we find off of our beaches and in our local bays migrate from South Florida every spring. The most generally accepted reasoning for this migration is for spawning offshore. Recent satellite tag tracks have shown that tarpon spend a good amount of time far offshore in the Northern Gulf, sometimes well over 100 miles from the coast. These fish can then gorge themselves on the large abundance of forage along our shores before making their way back South. Tarpon have a fairly wide range of temperature tolerances but their lower temperature threshold limits their abundance in the Northern Gulf. Prime tarpon temps are generally from 78-84 degrees. I have caught fish in water temps higher and lower than this range but this is the zone I look for reliable fishing in. The first fish generally arrive in late March/early April and they stay around until the first major cold fronts arrive in October. Prime fishing season is usually June through August. Most fish will hang tight to the beachfront in water depths of 12-30ft. Later in the summer, many fish will invade coastal bays like Mobile Bay and Pensacola Bay. Here, they will take up temporary residence around bridges, channel edges and deeper flats. The best part is that they are almost always within kayak range. 94 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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TACKLE

When you're going after a legendary sportfish that can easily top 100lbs and is renowned for its stamina and fighting ability, tackle needs to be of high quality and connections must be strong. Tarpon have a knack for finding the weak spot in your gear and if it exists, they will exploit it. For rods and reels, I use both spinning and conventional tackle and choose reels that can hold at least 350 yds of 50lb braided line. There are many offerings from various brands but my choice is the Penn Torquespinning reels in the 5 and 7 sizes and the Penn Torque 25 conventional star drag. Of course, there are many reels with smaller price tags that will get the job done, but make sure your reel choice has a metal body and a quality drag system. Picking out the perfect rod is a matter of feel. I like fast action sticks in lengths of 7-7'6�. These rods need to have stiff butt sections and possess a lot of lifting power. I've used various rods and use models from Star Rods, Chaos, Penn and others. With these recommendations, your local tackle shop will be able to assist you in putting together the perfect Tarpon setup. Terminal gear for me is simple. I double my braided line with a Bimini Twist and connect 8ft of 80lb fluorocarbon directly to the loop of the Bimini with a 12 wrap, No Name knot. To the business end I connect a 7/0 Owner Mutu Light circle hook. I have experimented with several different models of circle hooks and the Mutu Light is the winner when it comes to matching different bait sizes and having an xcellent hook-to-land ratio. Bait choice is a matter of what's local. I get off the beaches in the morning and start looking for bait schools on the surface and on my depth finder. I use Sabiki rigs to catch my bait and live baits can be stored in multiple ways. Many use bait tubes offshore and they are very effective, but they produce a fair amount of drag.

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Because speed can be critical when intercepting migrating Tarpon, I prefer to have self-contained live-well setup on board. I make mine out of a 36qt cooler and it keeps the water cool and the baits calm. Once outfitted with a couple aerators, it is ready to keep your baits alive. While live bating is the dominant method in beach-front Tarpon fishing, there are many artificial lures that workvery well and I always keep one or two options rigged and ready. Swimbaits are the most popular and have been the mosteffective in my experience. There are a wide range of different swimbaits on the market, both rigged and unrigged. I usually have one rod rigged with a 6.5” Big Hammer Swimbait in “Key Lime” or “Baitfish” rigged on a 1 1/2oz, Owner Saltwater Bullet jighead. On the other pitch rod, I tie on a smaller, 5” Big Hammer (same colors) on a 1oz jighead of the same make. I prefer the Owner jigheads because they feature a longer-shanked, 3X hook that is super durable and corrosion resistant. Occasionally I will rig the larger swimbait weightless with a 7/0 circle hook. I do this when fish are staying higher in the water column. I rig the circle through the nose of the bait pointing down so that it keeps the bait upright. No fancy “hitchhiker” rigs, pins, or anything of that nature. Just a circle hook through the nose and it's ready to go. You can tie all of your artificial lures to a similar leader setup as your live bait rigs, but occasionally I'll add a short section of 100lb Fluoro to the end to guard against bites from King Mackerel December 2015

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GETTING HOOKED UP!!! Like any kayak trip into open water, watching the weather is the first step. Even marginal conditions should be avoided. I have been pulled over two miles offshore by these fish and the last thing you want is a paddle back into strong winds and waves once you've had you're butt kicked by a big fish! Pay attention to the forecast and always remember that there will be a better day. Choosing a launch isn't as critical to success with migrating Tarpon. These fish run the beaches from Cape San Blas to Gulf Shores and any spot along the shoreline will see Tarpon moving through. The key is making bait quick and then covering water to find productive “lanes�. Tarpon usually stick to a certain depth outside the outer sandbar and rarely deviate from that depth line. It's very critical that your bait passes very close to these fish. Despite their amazing physical capabilities, Tarpon can be snooty fish and if a bait is out of position by just a few feet, they will not break from the line to eat it. I find the majority of my fish in 15-25ft of water and I start my excursions by deploying a couple baits and covering water inthis depth range while looking for rolling fish and watching my depthfinder for fish and bait schools. Surface activity is the obvious signs but when Tarpon and bait stay deep, you have to stay persistent and cover water. As I'm moving, I always keep one of my swimbait rods in front of me with the lure free swinging and ready to cast at a rolling fish. You want to get a lure to a rolling fish fast and try to place your cast where December 2015

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the retrieve will put it on it's nose. As I'm moving, I always keep one of myswimbait rods in front of me with the lure free swinging and ready to cast at a rolling fish. You want to get a lure to a rolling fish fast and try to place your cast where the retrieve will put it on it's nose. While covering water and intercepting fish is my preferred method, some anglers may 102 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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elect to hold a position off of the beach by anchoring or just using their paddle/peddle drive. The disadvantage to this is that you don't always see the fish and many may swim just out of range unknowingly. With two baits out and continuous movement, your baits have a wider spread and stay higher in the column without floats, balloons and other additional gear. Once

November 2015


you hook up, fighting these fish properly is the key to landing them in an appropriate time frame. Long fights take a heavy toll on these fish and proper technique puts the boot to big fish faster and ensures a healthy release and more fishing time. At the start, your drag should be set at around 4-5lbs of pressure.

This is enough to set a hook, but loose enough to keep line from breaking and hooks from pulling on a fast run with big, head-shaking jumps thrown in. You want to try and bow to the fish when they jump, but I can tell you it won't go as rehearsed. The best approach from the kayak is to just stay calm and keep consistent, but light pressure at the start of the fight.

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Once the fish settles a bit, try to use short pumps of the rod to get the kayak directly over the fish. This is how you can apply the most pressure. Keep the rod parallel with the bow and use your palm to apply additional pressure vs tightening the drag. The reasoning for this is so that when a fish takes off on a sudden run or comes up and starts jumping again, you can remove your hand from the spool and have a light, smooth release of line. Keep high pressure when you can and use short pumps of the rod to keep the fight close. For landing, I usually use a gloved hand to grab the lower jaw. It may take a couple grabs before the fish calms, but you can hold a 6-7ft fish with one hand next to your plastic boat and the experience will be something you'll never forget and an image you can't erase from your mind. Snap a couple quick pictures, unhook and revive the fish by either moving forward or just holding the fish steady and rocking back and forth. Tarpon fishing is life changing and once you've hooked one of these awesome fish from a kayak and experienced a true Gulf Coast sleigh ride, there's no turning back! I can assure you of one thing though; Tarpon addiction has no cure and the symptoms will never subside regardless of how many you catch :) 104 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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608 Emmett Rd. Bristol, Tennessee 37620

www.southholstonriverflyshop.com

C ay l o r

Custom Flies Quality flies since 1991

www.CaylorCustomFlies.com 9451 Abb Pitman Road Milton, Florida 32570

850-957-4071 phone roger@caylorcustomflies.com


There’s Nothing L

Kayak Tournament Fishing f By Nick Hyatt

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Like an Early Start

for Kids

I first started fishing as soon as I was able to walk, I would go in the boat with my Pawpaw Greg. I got my first kayak about two years ago and started fishing out of it. I first started in the river, and recently started fishing around Delta Port. I have a Pelican sit on top and hope to move up to a larger kayak that I can stand up in.

When I fish in fresh water I use a Zebco33 but when in saltwater I like using a Penn spinning reel. Saltwater is my favorite. When I am not fishing, I am in the 8th grade at Grand Bay Middle School. Since lunch isn’t a subject, I would have to say PE and history are my favorite subjects. I really like PE, playing football and baseball, because I like being outside. December 2015

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For the Day of the Tournament My Uncle Mike took me to fish in the Bayou la Batre Kayak Classic Fishing Tournament, and thank goodness it was really breezy because it was hot that day. We choose to launch out of the Delta Port Marina, because it goes into Fowl River or out into the bay. My Uncle Mike picked this area because he thought it was safer for me. There are not many boats in the area and the marsh protects you from strong currents and wind. I was using my spinning reel and squid cut bait when I caught the 0.38 croaker; it won me 1st place in the junior division. At one point we were following a canal that we thought would take us to the bay, but it came to a dead end. My uncle had to get out of his kayak and get us turned around and the water was very nasty! After turning in my fish, we waited to get the results and the best part was hearing my name called out for being the winner! I won a trophy, a gold oyster shell medal, a tackle bag, a cooler bag, pliers, digit scale and a cooling rag.

And in the Future I am already looking forward to going kayaking again this weekend. I hope to save my money and buy a bigger kayak very soon. I really liked the Bayou la Batre Classic and can’t wait to fish it again or other fishing tournaments. I don’t worry too much during tournaments cause I have never won before so I just fish to have fun. The winning was just a bonus! I like being in a kayak because you are in control and out by yourself and can go where you want and when you want. Kayaking is very good exercise and makes your arm muscles big, and ladies love arm muscles. I think more kids should try kayak fishing, and just wish there were more places that kids could take kayaks and feel safe, like with no waves or big boats going by. There should also be more places for water safety and practicing kayaking.

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We take you fishing.... Southern Drawl

Kayak Fishing offers saltwater and freshwater trips. We fish the saltwater backcountry from Tampa Bay to Pine Island Sound, targeting snook, redfish, spotted seatrout, tarpon and other species. In addition, we fish freshwater lakes and streams in southwest Florida for bass, bluegill, shellcracker, tilapia and exotics such as oscars and Mayan cichlids.

2519 Wood Oak Drive Sarasota, FL 34232 (941) 284-3406 www.kayakfishingsarasota.com


not for a boat ride!


Kayak Gear Rev Tycoon Extremis

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view st Spinning Rod For kayak anglers perhaps more than any other sort of floating fisher folks, tackle which works well and which works in a number of fishing situations is of great importance. The new Tycoon Extremist spinning rod is a tool which works very well, and it has proven in on-the water tests to be effective in a number of different fishing situations.

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Specifics for the Rod

The first thing that will be noticed when a kayak angler handles the Extremist rod is that it balances well in the hand, and the EVA grips are very comfortable. The grips don’t get slick or spongy after a long day’s fishing. Next, any experienced kayak angler will notice that the rod’s finish- a brilliant white color- is extremely smooth and the guides are one-piece for extra strength. The E-Glass fiberglass blank is very durable and strong. Finally, the rod’s finish is totally without the irregularities found in many mass-produced rods today. The Flex-coat epoxy finish is very smooth, and it is very durable. This rod should perform well and look good for many years. The rod we tested was a seven foot, moderate action, medium power rod. It was rated for 8-15 lb. line and lures in the ¼ to 5/8 oz. range. These suggested line weights and lure weights seem reasonable for this rod. And the rod’s warranty? How about this: “If a Tycoon Tackle product ever proves defective in materials or workmanship, we will be pleased to replace it without charge.”

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And on the Water

We used the Tycoon Extremist rod in a fairly demanding situation- inshore saltwater fishing using 1/2 oz. jigs for whatever fish showed up. Flounder are notoriously gentle biters- their strike is often quite difficult to feel. When a fine three-pound flounder took my jig with a gentle strike, the Extremist transmitted the gentle bump to my hand, and I was able to set the hook and bring the future supper to the boat. The Extremist is a very sensitive rod. Later, when an eight-pound redfish took my jig and decided to go somewhere else, I was able to use the Extremist’s backbone and strength to turn the red and keep it under control. The rod was a very effective strongfish tool, and I never felt that the rod was in any way overmatched.

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In Conclusion

This rod is a fine fishing tool for any situation that its rated line and lure weights will allow. The reason it is particularly well-suited for kayak anglers is its versatility. Whether fishing for gentle takers like flounder or for brute-strength fighters like redfish, the rod performed well. Also, the brilliant white color which is in contrast to many rod finishes today is a real advantage to kayak anglers. In the event of a kayak roll-over, the bright white finish of the rod makes detection and recovery much easier than a dark colored rod would be. Any kayak anglers should find this series of rods to be well within their price range, and the finish and construction to be well beyond most similar rods. This is a fine kayak fishing tool. For More Information: Tycoon Outfitters 434-282-2799 PO Box 151 Waynesboro, Virginia 22980 tycoonoutfitters.com

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A Pair Made In Redeye Bass and Fishing Josh Tidwell

by Josh Tidwell

Our buddy Josh Tidwell owns and operates Big Wills Outfitters in Attalla, Alabama. His kayak livery puts folks on Big Wills Creek, which is a gorgeous kayak float stream, and which is also home to a little known but wonderful member of the bass family- the redeye bass. Josh knows a lot about the redeye bass, and we asked him to tell us about this fish, where it lives, and one of the best ways to fish for it- from a kayak. Josh Tidwell was good enough to provide us with some detailed information about this little-known but deserving fishery, and we appreciate his help.

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n Heavend Kayak

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What in the World is a Redeye bass?

Micropterus Coosae, Bama Brookie, whatever you call the redeye bass, it’s a great game fish. From the vibrant blue facial markings, to the white tipped fins, they are every bit as beautiful as any trout and mean as heck to boot. The redeye won't be found slumming in some lake with sloppy old largemouths, You have to get skinny to find a redeye. The creeks and small rivers of the Appalachian foothill regions of Alabama, Georgia, and some of Tennessee would be the best places to look. While they don't get as big as their family members, a two-pounder is a true trophy, they are worthy quarry with light to medium tackle.

Where can I Find Redeyes?

While there are thousands of miles of redeye habitat, much of it is only suitable for wade fishing. There are also thousands of miles of water big enough to float a kayak. If you are looking for larger specimens, these larger streams (like Big Wills Creek) are where you want to focus. These larger streams will have the deeper water and food needed for these slow growing bass to reach larger sizes. One can either fish from the kayak, or preferably use the kayak to transport yourself and gear to wading areas. These redeye streams are too nice and cool to spend all of your day sweating in a kayak. Get in there!

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Help with Rigging for Redeyes

Redeye bass feed predominately on crayfish and bugs, so lures and flies that imitate those items are always a good start. That said, redeyes are seldom shy about hitting bladed baits and crankbaits. In fact, they are seldom shy about hitting anything. My go to lures for them are the smaller Booyah spinnerbaits, and plastic crayfish on a shaky head. My absolute favorite is a Boogle Bug popper on the end of a 4wt fly set-up.

How should I Handle my Kayak for Redeye Fishing?

Sometimes, the best way to kayak fish is to get out of the boat and work from foot. By using the ‘yak to get away from heavy-use, easily accessible parts of the stream, a kayak angler can greatly improve the chances of catching some fine redeye bass. The best way to work redeye water is on foot if possible. That said, sometimes the water is cold, or maybe just a little too deep. In these cases, you fish from the boat. You absolutely want to fish the riffle areas. Many times you can find a rock to stick your boat on as you work the riffles. Eddys are another area to focus on. If you see a nice eddy, drift on down stream, then enter the eddy from the bottom casting back to the head of the eddy. Redyes love to sit at the point of an eddy letting the river bring them food. Cover in current is worth fishing, especially if it is rock cover. Redeyes love rocks. Is it possible to catch a redeye in the slower open pools? I suppose anything is possible.

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The Best time of the Year for Catching Redeyes

The best season to fish for redeye bass is the current one. The fishing is certainly more active late spring- early fall, but I have caught some very fat redeyes fishing in the dead of winter. Like all kayak winter fishing, make sure you are dressed for immersion and have a well stocked ditch bag.

Is Big Wills Creek a Good Place to Start ?

Big Wills Creek, being a tributary to the Coosa River, is a great place to look for redeye bass. In fact, a tributary to Big Wills Creek is named on the official species description for Micropterus Coosae.

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The Best Thing About Redeye Fishing from a ‘Yak?

The best part about fishing for redeye bass, is where you do it. Fishing a creek brings me back to my fishing roots. It was in these creeks where my friends and I learned to fish. I started with a cane pole and a can of worms, progressed to Zebcos and Beetle Spins, to the high tech kayaks and spinning or fly rigs we use today. To fish for redeyes is to get in touch with nature. You aren’t there for food. You aren’t there to catch a giant wall hanger. You are there to spend time on a beautiful stream in hopes of getting to dance with one of nature’s perfect jewels. If you don’t understand that, I feel sorry for you, Brother.

For more information about the Coosa River and its waters and the redeye bass that live there, go to: Coosa Riverkeeper and their #savetheskinnywater program. http:// coosariver.org/programs/redeyebass/ To contact Big Wills Outfiiters: www.bigwillsoutfitters.com Big wills Outfitters 2881 Wesson Cap Road Attalla, Alabama 256-538-3226 December 2015

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Yak Fishing with

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h the Manatees

By Gary Rankel

L

ocated about 80 miles north of Tampa along what is commonly referred to as Florida’s Nature Coast, Citrus County offers outstanding, but often overlooked, kayak fishing for both fresh and saltwater species. On its north and east sides, the Withlacoochee River and Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes frequently yield largemouth bass in the 10+ pound class. Yakers simply need to keep an eye out for those pesky gators as they paddle through the lily pads in pursuit of them.

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On the county’s salty west side, gators are few and far between. There is no need to fear our manatee unless, of course, one decides to surface from under your yak, which happened to me one time, providing me with an opportunity to experience what rodeo bull riders must go through. Or, unless, you happen to paddle between a female and her calf, which also happened to me once, resulting in momma giving me her best imitation of Shamu, leaving me soaked. Almost always, however, these docile creatures simply nose up to my yak, occasionally allowing me to pat them on the head, and then swim off looking for a bit of sea grass to eat. On occasion, one follows me around for 20 - 30 minutes; I’m not sure if they’re looking for a handout or think my yak may be a member of the opposite sex.

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Since publication of an excellent article on our endangered manatee in the April 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine, the towns of Crystal River and Homosassa have attracted thousands of tourists annually from all over the world to observe them, and, also, to get in the water and swim with them (the only place they’re allowed to do so). Many visitors to the Orlando amusement parks now plan day trips to Citrus County to broaden their Florida experience. Few choose to stay and explore the kayak fishing opportunities available in the nearby flats, bays, rivers and backcountry, leaving lots of room for us locals.

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State parks, aquatic preserves and wildlife refuges bordering the Gulf of Mexico within and adjacent to the county create a 60-mile contiguous stretch of near-pristine salt marsh, offering extraordinary fish and wildlife habitat. Countless miles of mangrove shorelines, numerous acres of sea grass beds and extensive oyster bars and hard bottom substrates provide nursery areas for a wide variety of fish and other marine life. Excellent fishing is available within short paddles of several launch sites. Spotting tailing redfish or snook in inches of water, placing perfect casts just beyond them, “walking the dog” past their locations, and watching them rush to inhale a topwater lure is an awesome experience. Frequent encounters with dolphins, sea turtles, rays a host of shorebirds and other marine life, often with no other human in site, makes for quality outings even on slow fishing days. Other more popular kayak angling destinations may offer larger fish and more frequent hookups, but few provide the remote solitude, beauty and uncrowded “Old Florida” feel of the Nature Coast. December 2015

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I’ve enjoyed many years of kayak fishing since retiring here, and was looking for a way to give something back to the community I’ve come to call home. It seemed natural, therefore, to develop a mechanism for broadening communications among kayak anglers in the area (Nature Coast Kayak Fishers; http:// fishingkayaks.us), and share the Nature Coast experience with visitors and new residents alike, thereby helping to promote and diversify the eco-tourism experience in the area. As a retired biologist, I also wanted an avenue to advocate on behalf of watershed protection and restoration in the area, so that future generations might enjoy the same quality experience on our waters that I do.

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The Nature Coast Kayak Fishers website provides a comprehensive listing of available launch sites, including detailed descriptions, Google Earth views and photos of each, along with suggested fishing routes (not including my secret ones, of course), to help paddlers get started. Numerous photos depicting the coastal environment and fishery are included. Suggestions are offered for enhancing the kayak fishing experience in the county through the creation of new and improvement of existing launch sites, the creation of a no-motor zone and other measures for attracting the fast growing segment of society pursuing this activity. The usual links to weather reports, fishing reports, tidal conditions, etc. are included along with some time tested tips for having a safe and productive time on the water. An email address is provided to obtain further information. So if y’all are planning to c’mon down to swim with manatees, snorkel for scallops, take an airboat ride through the backcountry, arrange an inshore or offshore trip with one of our many fishing guides, do some birding or just relax, you might want to bring your yak along and experience some extraordinary fishing along our Nature Coast. December 2015

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The Measure Net

by JTA Products, Inc.

Catch, Measure, Release ph: 888-582-7763 | fx: 888-582-7764 email: jeff@measurefish.com web: MeasureFish.com

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Small Net with Rubber bag (measures up to 20”)

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JRGN1

$74.00

Guide Telescoping Net with Rubber bag (measures up to 40”)

ALGN1

$81.00

The Measure Net by JTA Products, Inc. ph: 888-582-7763 | fx: 888-582-7764 | email: jeff@measurefish.com | web: www.MeasureFish.com


What Do You Want To Catch Today? Brown Trout Rainbow Trout Brook Trout Palomino Trout Steelhead Smallmouth Bass Largemouth Bass White Bass Kentucky Spotted Bass Walleye Muskie Crappie Bluegill Yellow Perch Flathead Catfish Channel Catfish Carp They’re all waiting for you in Swain County, NC one of

the most diverse fishing habitats in the world with four rivers, dozens of mountain streams throughout the Smoky Mountains, and the deep, cold waters of Fontana and Cheoah lakes.

Visit GreatSmokiesFishing.com for a map and profiles of 26 great fishing locations near Bryson City, NC.


KanuLock Straps O

ne of the best things about being a kayak angler is that we have a great deal of easy mobility. We can just toss the kayak on the cartop rack, secure the ‘yak to the rack and go fishing. What could be simpler than this? If only all people were nice, we kayak anglers wouldn’t have to worry about our boats being secure while on the rack. But here’s some unpleasant truth- not all people are nice. It only takes a few seconds for a bad person who takes a liking to our kayak to cut through standard tiedowns and be gone with our kayak. Standard tie downs are easy to cut with a knife or box cutter- any sort of moderately sharp instrument will do it. Then our kayak is gone, we can’t go fishing, and if you’re

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like me, very, very upset. I’ve had a kayak stolen, and it makes for a very unpleasant time. There have been many kayak fishing trips I’ve taken when I didn’t have a good way to secure my kayak, and I couldn’t take the boat indoors with mestaying in a motel while

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on a fishing trip is a classic example of this situation. I’ve often slept badly worrying about whether my kayak would still be on the rack when I woke up in the morning. There should be a better way to secure kayaks to travel racks, and there is. KANU Lock Straps


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How about heavy duty straps which come with two 2.4 mm stainless steel cables woven into the straps? How about heavyduty key locking buckles? The KANU Locking Straps are built to make quick.criminal removal of a kayak, paddleboard, surfboard or any other light craft on a rack next to impossible. The straps can be positioned so the widest part of the kayak is centered between the straps so the boat can’t be slid ahead or to the rear to remove. Once correctly applied, these locking straps provide the most secure tie down system we’ve ever seen. Another advantage of the KANU Locking Straps is that their heavy construction and firmer connections make the straps less noisy while the car is in motion. These locking tie down straps come in 8 foot, 11 foot, and 13 foot lengths. For most fishing kayaks, the 11 foot model works quite well.

When we received our set of KANU Lock Straps, a full set of instructions came with the set, and duplicate instructions were found inside. It’s important to follow the directions- they’re really very simple. The straps are easy on the hand, soft, and the locking elements appear to be quite robust. The straps are easily tossed over the kayak in the rack and can then be pulled snug for final adjustments. This is an easy system to use, and it seems to be very welldesigned and made.

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Read the Directions!

One of the most important things for any kayak angler who uses the KANU locking Strap system is to read the directions. It is possible to bend the locking key when the kayak is being locked down IF the instructions are not followed. Very clear and simple directions are provided with the locking tie down system which make the actual locking process very easy, but if the directions are not followed, the key can be bent. Even though the company will gladly provide a replacement key, it’s much better for all concerned to simply read and follow the directions. Basically, we found the KANU Lock Straps application to consist of four steps: 1. Once the kayak is on the rack, put the straps across and secure the off end. 2. .Lift the locking clasp, then release the hand from the clasp. 3. Turn the key in the lock firmly, then lift the clasp until the key turns easily- the strap and the kayak are locked in place now. 4. Tie off the end of the strap and secure the end to the roof rack. Truly, it’s much easier to actually do the process than explain how it’s done.

Evaluation

We like products that are simple to use and which work well. The KANU Locking Strap system does both of these things. It’s not a flashy product, and it won’t actually help us catch more fish, but the simple feeling of security and confidence that the kayak is not going anywhere until the owner wants it to go is worth a great deal. This product is highly recommended. And because of its relatively low cost, this tie-down system would make a great holiday present for any kayak angler. Cost: About $79.00 For more information: usasales@kanulock.com 714-740-5625

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Southern Kayak Fishing Issue 5  
Southern Kayak Fishing Issue 5