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Southern Kayak Fishing Issue #14 February 2018


Tampa Bay North

Editor’s Message

What the hell happened to Kayaks?

10 years ago, I set foot in first kayak I had ever seen up close. It was made by Field and Stream and sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods. My best friend had bought it for $500, an amount I thought was absurd for a piece of molded plastic. He also bought several additional items that we take for granted today. No paddle clips, rod holders, anchor points or mounted coolers came on this bad boy straight out of the box. We tried it out on a local private pond that was full of bass, chain pickerel and crappie. After only a few minutes, I realized I was in a different world from fishing in our old canoe. I noticed the same few things that we all do in our first kayak trip. The words that come to mind are “speed” and “feel.” That kayak would

be considered slow today, but good lord it was faster than a canoe or trying to paddle an aluminum jon boat. I could swiftly get from spot to spot, and turning became a one-man-show. No shouting needed as your friend botches the “backwards left/forward right” dance that it takes to turn a canoe. The feel, however, was by far the biggest shock of fishing from a kayak. I did not expect to feel infinitely more connected to the water and the act of fishing by downsizing the watercraft. The firsttime the wind or a wave jostles you around or the first-time a fish pulls you into the mangroves, that sense of feel is driven home even harder. Since that day 10 years ago, kayaks have evolved enormously. We have been lucky to watch a competition boom, which has led to some pretty interesting innovations. Every company is looking to put their stamp on the industry in some form or fashion. Just look at the new Bote Rover. That contraption looks as futuristic as any luxury car that has been put on the market. Hobie kayaks have started to look like an “inspector gadget” toy, with an unmeasurable number of additional gear hanging off. Also, don’t forget about the motor craze. Many kayaks now have either some sort of pedaling propulsion mechanism or a real-deal motor. I have even seen a yak with a center console gas motor on it. (continued)

Editor’s Message


Kayak Fishing Publisher

Don Kirk Editor Ragan Whitlock Managing Editor Leah Kirk Assoc. Managing Editor Loryn Latham

Technical Advisor Tim Perkins Field Editor Steve Moore Editorial Conslutant Olive K. Nynne

Contributors Rob Baker Tony Chavers Steve Gibson Danny Holmes Phillip Landry Tim Perkins Paul Presson 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 Copyright 2018 Southern Unlimited, LLC All rights reserved. 4 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018


Give Bote a few more months of tinkering and who knows what we will see next. With the incredible amount of evolution going on in the kayak industry, there is one important piece of information to remember: If you spend more time researching the bells and whistles on your new kayak than researching the water you want to fish, you are going to get out-fished by some “traditionalist” in a Dick’s Sporting Goods special. Sure, these new kayaks are amazing. Of course, they can help you to access more fish, store more gear, or whatever else matches the evolving needs of fishermen. Each kayak and manufacturer has a different spin on things, a different specialty. There is nothing wrong with researching and making sure that the kayak you spend your money on will match your needs perfectly. Still, you have to always remember that a fancy kayak is not a replacement for research, reading, and time out on the water. There are no shortcuts out here.

Others have streams,

we have a trail.

Jackson County is home of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, which maps out 15 prime spots to catch brown, rainbow and brook trout in the crystal-clear streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. With more than 4,600 miles of wide-open rivers and secluded mountain streams, we have the state’s longest contiguous stretch of Mountain Heritage Trout Waters.

Discover the epic waters of North Carolina’s Trout Capital today.


February 2017 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 5

This Issue Editor’s Letter



Fishing Kayaks: No Motor Zone?11 Kayak Hacks 20 Fishing Apps Grand Isle, Louisiana Kayak Fishig Heaven


Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Reel


CLOSE LOOK 49 Chassahowitzka Hotel


Silverking Brewing Company Our Kinda’ Place Anclote: The King of Variety




Ozello: 80 A Piece of Old Florida Kayak Fishing for 88 Deep South Pickerel Blood Lines: 102 About Those New Swimbaits Panfishing: A Worthy Opponent


Temple Fork Outfitter’s TPS 701-1 Spinning Rod


BOOK REVIEW 124 Kayak Fishing the Northern Gulf Coast 6 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018



20 108

80 88

70 February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 7


o the purist, the thought of putting a motor on a kayak may be their worst nightmare. The days of simply paddling a fishing kayak are long gone. For some time, companies have incorporated fins and propellers for foot and leg powered fishing kayaks. Sails are now a commonplace attachment or accessory for angling kayaks. As in any mode of transportation, we are always looking to upgrade.

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Fishing Kayaks: No Motor Zone?

Paul Presson February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 11

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A small group of innovative kayak anglers like Bob Hamilton, Bob Delong, and Kevin Dismuke have led the way in the progress of motorized fishing kayaks. Bob Hamilton has been motorizing kayaks for over seven years. He owns B&C Power Yaks located in Palm Harbor, Florida. Bob has his shop onsite and can outfit just about any kayak on the market with customized hardware to mount conventional trolling motors and Torqeedo’s propulsion units. These motors include foot steering controls and speed controls that can be mounted to kayak rails systems. Kevin Dismuke specializes in actuators that remotely lift and lower trolling motors among the other modifications he creates. Bob Delong also owns an electric kayak company. Many of these new innovations and DIY hints can be found on Facebook, the group titled Motorized Kayak Fishing. Some kayak fishing manufacturers work hand in hand with electric trolling motor companies to make powered fishing kayaks a one stop shopping trip. Old Town and Minn Kota work together and created the Predator MK, a motorized system that incorporates a console system with a propeller in the middle of the kayak that is steered by foot controls. This system has 45lbs of thrust with variable speeds and can move forward and in reverse. Hobie, Wilderness Systems, and Rotomod have also teamed up with Torqeedo, a leader in electric boat drives. Torqeedo’s cutting edge technology incorporates lithium batteries, solar recharging, and on-board computer with GPS. They created an efficient, environmentally friendly motorized unit. The Torqeedo is a hands-free system with it’s own smart phone app. This application marks way-

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points, calculates arrival times, and reflects remaining charge on battery. The Torqeedo system can be attached to nearly any kayak and with the solar charging accessory, it is great for island hopping campers that need to recharge the motor on their kayak. NuCanoe took a different approach to the motorization trend. They made a kayak capable of using conventional trolling motors with the capability of using the Minn Kota Power Drive V2 with the remote control Ipilot. If more speed is needed Lehr 2.5 propane motors or gas powered outboard motors rated up to 2.5 HP can be used. Due to the construction and weight distribution, Nucanoe’s kayaks can withstand heavier propulsion units to give customers more choices. They sell motor plates and tiller extensions and more to fit any motorization needs. The Bixpy company has created a multi purpose handheld propulsion device that incorporates a jet system with impellers. This system is battery powered and can be used handheld for snorkeling and diving and can also be attached to kayaks. This technology is “green� it has absolutely zero emissions. Aquanami has created the Jet Angler for one or two man kayak anglers. They have incorporated a 17.5 HP 4 stroke gas engine that can reach speeds of 25 mph. The gas tank holds 3.7 gallons and can travel distances up to 40 miles per tank. 14 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

Attaching motors to fishing kayaks is nothing new. Anglers have been “Jerry rigging� trolling motors to canoes and kayaks for a very long time. The downfall to many of these angler innovations was having to reach to the back or side to steer these vessels. Many of the new motor units include foot and side controls for steering. Now, consoles are include for many of these powered controls and some even incorporate a joystick. February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 15

With new innovations come new challenges. Be prepared to pay as much if not more for the power unit as you did for your kayak. Many kayak fishing tournaments do not allow any kind of motorization, yet. To many anglers, the equipment checklist is already staggering, motorization will add a few more items to an ever growing list. There is also a probability that these mechanisms will break and need to be fixed at some point in time. The advantages certainly seem to outweigh the challenges. If you are a purist, no one is forcing you to buy any of these new products. For older and disabled kayak anglers, this new technology will allow individuals to get out on the water and join the fun. Motorization also enables anglers to fish in ways they never could before, it allows for trolling at a maintained speed to catch species like sail and king fish. One of the biggest advantages to these systems is the ability for a kayak angler to travel further and faster, allowing for more quality fishing time. 16 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

The wheels of progress will just continue to push the kayak fishing envelope. If you enjoy the exercise and solitude of paddling, this will always be available. If you are looking for bigger, faster, better, it is happening right before your very eyes. Charge up or fuel up and get to your favorite fishing hole about as fast as that flats boat you considered purchasing. Special thanks to: Bob Hamilton B&C’s Power Yaks Torqeedo: Kayak on water credit: Kayak Bassin’/Heliconia NuCanoe Bixpy LLC Johnson Outdoor Watercraft and Camping Photo Credit: Janet Jordan of B&C’s Power Yaks Copyright Paul Presson February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 17

Kayak Hacks

Fishing Apps Steve Moore

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here’s an app for that!” How many times have you heard that and wondered what’s out there to help us catch more fish? There are plenty of options and which apps you choose depend on where and how you fish. For example, someone who fishes strictly in freshwater is not going to be interested in a tide table but will want to know what the USGS gage height is for the river or creek they plan to target. While I believe there is one clear winner in the universe of fishing apps, you may end up using multiple apps to obtain all of the information you need. Here’s a quick rundown of what I use. This is not a comprehensive survey – just my current picks.

Anglr: In my opinion, the best all-around fishing app is produced

by for the simple reason that it offers complete logging of all aspects of a fishing trip with the extremely valuable trip/catch analysis capability across multiple trips on the backend. All for free! Consistent with some other Fishing apps, it supports logging the trip track on a map with the option of a satellite view, the catch, the tackle used, linking to a close USGS gage for water conditions, and recording waypoints while providing the current weather forecast. Where this app excels is that it uploads each trip with all this information to a free online account where you can do an additional detailed analysis of the conditions across the entire trip. The only “to dos” for this app are to add solunar and tide tables; features the Anglr team is working on.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 21

Once you log into the free account, you can open the specific trip and see exactly what the trend was regarding cloud cover, wind direction, wind speed, barometer, air temp and the tackle used for each fish caught. Finally, this gives us the ability to go look at a trip, see the conditions associated with each catch at that location and determine the appropriate weather trend that may have triggered the fish to bite. In this example, I looked at the hot time I had at the end of the day (red box on the picture), I learned a falling barometer with the wind direction from the south and a clear sky was the key to triggering the bite. After checking other trips to this same spot, I found this was a consistent feature for success. So now I make sure I fishing that honey hole when those environmental conditions are present. The Anglr team is working hard on automating the analysis to provide predictions based on past performance. Now, that will be the ultimate cool feature!

The Anglr app has a backend, online dashboard that consolidates the data points across logged fishing trips. 22 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

Tide Graph: To fill in the current gap in the Anglr app, I download-

ed the free Tide Graph app. This superb, single-purpose application allows the user to select a specific tide station using the map. The app shows the current tide level, whether it is rising and the rate of rise. The premium version adds the ability to save multiple locations and also view the phase of the moon. For those of us who fish in brackish or saltwater, the exact tide level when catching a fish is critical given the flow in and out of the backwater marshes. I know I have a few locations where the redfish run a channel when the rising tide level is between 1.5 and 3.5 feet. After that, no action, and I need to go to a different spot to continue to pursue them. This app tells me when I need to be there and when to move to a different place. February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 23

Predict Wind: Anyone who kayak fishes understands how mis-

erable it can be on a very windy day. The Predict Wind app provides forecasts for the next week using four different models tuned by their proprietary algorithm. The subscription version adds wave, rain, cloud and isobar maps – but all you really need is the wind to decide whether it’s worth going out. I use this app when planning a trip. Knowing the wind speed and direction, I can pick a place where I can still fish and be sheltered or just stay home and mope around the house until my wife kicks me out to my shop.

The tabular display shows the predictions for the next seven days. Scroll up and down to see additional information. 24 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

The wind map shows wind direction and speed with the ability to use the slider to see how both change over time.

The app updated as soon as this temporary season closure was implemented.

The app shows slots as well as the fact that spearing and gigging are not allowed (red text).

Fish Rules App: We all need to stay legal. The Fish Rules App

knows precisely your location and what the rules are, by species, for that spot. After the recent freeze here in North Carolina, the season for spotted seatrout was closed. The app reliably updated the regulation to reflect this situational change in the rule. In addition to showing the bag limit and the allowable size, it shows a picture of the fish to assist with identification.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 25

Marine Traffic: Unlike the others, this is a paid app and is crit-

ical for safety when fishing on active waterways. In my case, the Cape Fear River sees plenty of container ship traffic moving to the Port of Wilmington. Each of those giant ships can throw off a wake of up to 8 feet! Nobody wants to flip when a rogue wave hits them unexpectedly, and by using this app, I can track exactly what traffic is moving on the river and be in the right place when it passes. In addition to showing where on the river the ship is, a quick click opens a window to see the information about the boat. Clearly, there is a different reactive strategy to a tugboat passing versus a large container rolling in from China.

Each marker shows a ship. 26 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

Clicking brings up the information on the vessel.

Granted, this short article merely scratches the surface regarding the technology we can leverage on a smartphone. After all, even fish finders have gotten into the act with small units like the Deeper Sonar using a smartphone as the display instead of a massive control head. If you have a smartphone, you need to leverage the capabilities each of these apps provides to improve your ability to pursue and catch fish. If I can only download one, I would go grab the free Anglr app since it also comes with the backend dashboard that facilitates the detailed analysis to determine patterns! Note: Visit the “KayakHacksFishing� YouTube Channel to see videos on this and other kayak fishing topics.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 27

Is Swain County NC a Fisherman’s Paradi Hundreds of miles of native mountain trout streams flow

through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park above Bryson City and Cherokee — freestone creeks with native rainbow, brook and brown trout. Most streams offer all three species.

Trout are also common in our four rivers – the Oconaluftee,

Great Smoky M National

Little Tennessee, the Eagle Nol Chambers Twentymile Hazel Creek Forney Cre Creek Creek Creek Tuckasegee and the Creek Fontana Dam Fontana Nantahala, one of Fontana Cheoah Lake Lake Lake Lewellyn Trout Unlimited’s top Fontana Branch Fontana 129 Lake Boat Village Alark 100 rivers. And now, a 2.2 Cable Ramp Marina Boat D Cove 28N Boat mile section of the Tuck Ramp Almo Lemmons Boat P Branch through Bryson City has Boat Ramp Stecoah 143 been designated delayed 19 Wesser 74 Needmore harvest waters, and Road For more information, Nantahala River promises to have one of contact the Bryson City / the highest trout counts Swain County Chamber of Wayah Road (NC 1310) of any stream in the Commerce 800-867-9246. Upper Nantahala southeast. River Public Access

Public Access

estern oing on at W g is g in th e “Three “Som e that may k a L rivers j a n ta n o ’s F a ust ou n li ro a C p h o tside A pular n Nort th u o S e th in merica ationa g in h s fi t u o tr l ’s most park a trout, s to a just send e id d r o e u o g i t a t e e e eming d for b t might b oth wa angler with into orbit ...I n o s ry s B d , in i a n y n ta g s d and flo surrou place to best sc ating nded b book you a in p e e le n s y e to e r s v y o a h m i n Sout e of th don’t hern A e City so you ” r. e b I f m p e y v palach ou hav No in re e th k i c e a n’t fish . your tru produ ed the ctive r q uaint a ivers o nd Carolin f W e stern N a, you orth don’t k missin now w g.” hat yo u’re

Public Access


Upper Raven Fork

Straight Fork

441 Clingmans Dome

Mountains Park

Deep Creek

Indian Creek

Raven Fork Trophy Section

Lakeview Drive

19 Tuckasegee River

Public Access

ka Dock Alarka Creek ond Park Alarka Road

28S Little Tennessee River

Bryson City

Whittier Whittier Boat Ramp

EBCI Hatchery Big Cove Road


441 Tuckasegee River

Public Access

Conleys Creek

Heintooga Ridge Road

Blue Ridge Parkway Cherokee Indian Reservation Cherokee

land eek

Old 288 Boat Ramp

Raven Fork

Oconaluftee River

You be the Judge.

Straight Fork Road

Bradley Chasteen Kephart Fork Creek Prong

74 Conleys Creek Road



Visit for profiles of all 26 Swain County fishing locations on this map. All are just minutes from Bryson City, NC.

Two mountain lakes The 30 miles of trout offer trout fishing streams on the The 29-mile long, Cherokee Indian 11,700 acre Fontana Reservation are the Lake and its smaller downstream neighbor Cheoah Lake both have strong populations of trout, particularly near the mouths of streams flowing out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cheoah is regularly stocked by the State of North Carolina.

longest privately-owned and stocked fishing waters east of the Mississippi. The 2.2mile Raven Fork Trophy section is home to the biggest trout in the Smokies. This specially regulated section is fly fishing only and catch and release.

Grand Isle, Ed Mashburn

One force of nature everyone in the southern United States has to deal with is hurricanes. Unfortunately, this has been borne out several times already this year and Grand Isle bayous are massive, and many are accessible only by kayak.

Kayak Fish

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, Louisiana T

his little creek is only thirty feet across, and it’s not deep. There’s a gentle tidal current moving water past a tiny bathroom-sized island in the creek, and there appears to be a little bit deeper pocket of water on the down-current side of the mini-island.

I had planned to paddle straight through this little creek on my way to the open waters of a major bay, but this is too good a location to paddle past without any attention given. So I pick up my fly rod, push the stake-out pole into the soft mud bottom to hold my position, and I establish a good casting sitefor me, that’s about forty-five feet away from my target.

hing Heaven February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 31

I make a false cast to get enough line out, and then I drop the shrimp-look fly about a foot behind the little island, and I let the fly sink with the current. And that’s all I do. But something else does quite a lot more. My line twitches and then goes tight, the water below the little island boils and mud rolls up from the bottom. A fast and hard-to-stop run takes the hooked fish about twenty yards down current of the island, and I settle down to my work. I get the fly line on the reel, and I let the reel’s drag work the hooked fish and give line when the fish runs again.

Grand Isle canals take kayakers to secluded bayous and creeks.

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After about six or eight minutes of this kind of fun, I have an eight pound redfish rolling by the side of my kayak, and when I reach down to lift him into the boat, he makes one last run. And he pulls free. This gorgeous, copper-colored redfish is gone. But I don’t cuss- much, and I don’t cry over a fine redfish lost. I suspect that there will be more redfish behind my little mini-island, and as it turns out on this fine morning at Grand Isle, Louisiana, I’m right. There are lots of redfish here very eager to bite.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 33

Why It’s Special-What’s There for Kayak Anglers

There’s a place a few hours southwest of New Orleans that just might be kayak fishing heaven. For those paddle anglers who love to catch big, strong, aggressive fish, there’s really no place like Grand Isle. Grand Isle is a place like few others on the Gulf Coast. It’s a place home-folks live and go about their lives. There are no big fancy casinos and high-rise developments here. There are a few marinas and tourist cabins and apartments for rent. Real people- oil rig workers, commercial fishermen, fishing guides- are at this place. If you’re looking for lights, glitz, and lots of noise, Grand Isle is not the place for you. However, if paddling along quiet bayous in pursuit of fish is more your line, then this is your place. There are hundreds of miles of bayous, creeks, passes, and backwater ponds full of redfish. Many redfish are born here, live their lives here, Look for moving waterthese are feeding reds.

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and die here and never know that such a thing as humans exist. Grand Isle redfish are not dumb, exactly, but they are very willing to take a bite of just about any kind of lure or fly that comes along. From monster bull redfish in the major passes which lead to the Gulf of Mexico to clouds of slot-size and larger reds in the bayous and creeks, Grand Isle is redfish paradise for kayak anglers. And in the more open waters, kayak anglers can encounter some big speckled trout and flounder as well as some mega-size jack crevalle. But it’s the redfish at Grand Isle that make most kayak anglers come for a visit, and then start making plans for an every year visit from then on. Kayak anglers who use spinning gear, bait casting gear, and especially fly gear will find Grand Isle to be a special place.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 35

Where it is and How to get there

Getting to Grand Isle from New Orleans is not difficult, but it is involved. And the first and last rule of driving to kayak fishing waters in Louisiana- SLOW DOWN! The local law enforcement folks in Cajun land are notorious for stopping out of state drivers for speeding so the out-of-staters can contribute to “Louisiana Road Tax,� and I have been invited on a number of occasions to contribute.

Grand Isle gives kayak anglers miles and miles of great fishing.

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From New Orleans, take the Kenner exit to Hwy 90/US 310 through Destrehan, Boutte, and Des Allenade toward Raceland. Take Exit 215B toward Raceland. Go toward Lockport on LA 3085. Go 17 miles on LA 3085 and cross Bayou Lafourche. Turn left on LA325 and go 15 miles to merge with LA 1-S. Turn right on the elevated LA1-S Expressway- it’s a toll road. This will lead into Grand Isle. Although it’s a little involved to get to Grand Isle, I don’t know any kayak angler who feels the trip is not worth the hassle.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 37

Use the Kayak-Stand Up and Take Notice

Just about any kind of kayak will work at Grand Isle, but for best results, a kayak that allows the angler to stand securely and look out over the water is best. From a standing position, kayak anglers can see points and gullies in the water that often hold fish. And standing allows anglers to see fish moving in the

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water, and this is crucial. When there is a movement, give it a cast. It doesn’t have to be a classic boil or massive splash of a feeding redfish. Just a slow wake or ripple is enough- throw to it! Any movement in the water is probably a redfish feeding, and it will probably take a lure or live bait offered to it.

This fine Grand Isle red took a soft plastic jig and grub.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 39

Also, standing allows anglers to use a fly rod much easier, and Grand Isle is one of the best places on Earth to use a fly rod for redfish. A fly angler can use poppers, gurglers, or crease flies to get major top water strikes from feeding reds, and fly folks who throw streamers in red and white and yellow and white patterns will get bit- it’s that simple. A 9 wt. fly rig is just about perfect for Grand Isle kayak reds.

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Another advantage of standing in a fishing kayak- anglers can often hear actively feeding reds in side channels and bayous and can see good creeks to take to access the feeding fish. And of course, the ultimate advantage of using a kayak at Grand Isle- there are miles and miles of roadside access spots that allow a kayak angler to pull off, unload, slide the ’yak in the water and go fishing. Easy kayak access to great fishing water is one of the prime benefits of Grand Isle.

Grand Isle redfish fight hard, and they don’t give up quickly.

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 41

For more information on Grand Isle Kayak Fishing Captain Danny Wray- Danny is a great0 inshore kayak fishing guide, <M>? and he knows where the fish are. Calmwater Charters 225-721-8182 Kayak Fishing the Northern Gulf Coast by Ed Mashburn is a new book that looks at Grand Isle and many other great Gulf Coast kayak angling destinations. This book can be ordered from Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

In open water, kayakers can find big specks feeding on top waters.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

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February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 43

Revo X Spinning Reel H

ave you noticed how trendy and modern spinning reels have become in recent years? It’s a trend that goes back a few years since Abu Garcia introduced its slick Revo X line of spinning reels. Unlike changes in women’s hats that come and go with fashion, the Revo is a bare knuckle reel that sports good looks due to its advanced engineering and the use of relatively rare metals and alloys. It’s a far cry from the company’s Cardinal spinning reels of two generations ago in 1965, save for the new technologies found in the Revo X.

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The first Revo series spinning reel, the Revo Premier, was introduced amid considerable fanfare in 2010. Three years later, the Revo line was completely redesigned to be lighter, more compact, and more powerful. Each year the Revo has been upgrade and tweaked. It is unlikely that the latest Revo X is the last word, but it would be fine with those who own the little fishing machines. In a nutshell the design team at Abu Garcia set about the task of making the Revo X easier to use and to enhance its already legendary quality and value. Thus far, the overall customer rating of those who purchased the Revo X shows that the team at Abu Garcia knocked it out of the park. On a scale of one to five, with five representing the high score, customers rated the Revo X a solid five in quality, value, and ease of use.

The Revo X is offered in two models; the Model 20 for trout to bass size quarries and the Model 30 for bigger and inshore action. Other than bulking up to manage bigger fish, the features on the two reels are virtually identical. Each is a lightweight, trouble-free fishing machine that is extremely smooth operating and a literal joy to fish. Our test model was the Model 20 couple with a high quality 30 Ton 6-feet. 6-inch rod blank that is topped off with durable stainless steel guide frames and comfortable EVA handles.

These rods have an attractive flat finish. Its IntraCarbon technology provides a lightweight barrier to improve durability without adding weight, and its high density EVA gives greater sensitivity and durability. We liked its Contour Curve Handle Design and stainless steel guides with Zirconium inserts. The micro click reel seat hood design allows for improved reel fit. They designed an extreme exposure reel seat for increased blank contact, sensitivity, and superior comfort

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 45

The first impression you get is the Model 20 Revo X’s smoothness and casting ability. The return of the bale is silent and effortless. We have all fished with reels where the bale is sticky, or it returned like a guillotine coming down. It is not only annoying and distracting, but it also can cause you to miss quick biting fish. This smoothness is a huge selling point of the Revo X and is a testimony to the experienced design team at Abu Garcia. Credit for part of this goes to six stainless steel

HPCR™ bearings plus one roller bearing that provide increased corrosion protection and lightweight graphite rotor. A state of the art stainless steel main shaft enhances smooth operation, and its other components combine to improve corrosion resistance. The Revo X’s Everlast™ bail system also provides for super smooth operation and improved durability. The Revo X’s IMC6 (Insert molded C6) body design combines an X-craftic gearbox design with a C6 carbon body, which gives a lightweight construction that houses gears in perfect alignment. It is really compact. The Carbon Matrix hybrid drag

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system delivers super smooth reliable drag performance. For us though, the “deal closer” was the Revo X’s rocket line management system. While it is not unusual for a spinning rod to cast accurately, this feature provided us with superior casting control of all types of fishing lines. The Rocket spool lip design allows better control of line coming off the spool. Its machined aluminum braid ready spool allows braid to be tied directly to the spool without any slip. Short or long, the accuracy of our casts were pretty damned closed to breathtaking. Line twists which seems to plaque all spinning reels was pretty much nonexistent. The Southern Kayak Fishing teams rate the Revo X combo a solid 9.7 for freshwater fishing from a yak. It’s dandy little, midrange cost spinning combo that will deliver years of serious fishing fun or fit right into the arsenal of the tournament angler.

JOURNEYS OF SGI St. George Island, Florida 240 E 3rd Street, St. George Island

40 E 3rd Street, St. George Island (850)927-3259


Experience the Hardy Effect!




710 Riverside Rd., Roswell, GA 30075 770-650-8630 48 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

Southern Kayak Fishing

CLOSE LOOK Tampa Bay North

February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 49


Tampa Bay North


was on a mission. Bored stiff with the stereotypical tourist dives that are up and down the modern Gulf Coast, my mission was to find a piece of Old Florida where I could indulge in some quality ‘yak fishing and relax at my at a decent 20th-century pace. For such a trip, finding a lodging/fishing destination had drawn a poor result. As I said to myself, “What the hell, why not try one more time,” I headed my Toyota in the direction of the Chassahowitzka River and a place, oddly enough, named the Chassahowitzka Hotel.

Chassahowitzka 50 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018

a Hotel:

Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

I FOUND OLD FLORIDA February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 51


Tampa Bay North

It was love a first sight. The place appeared to be in a time warp, and it was in many ways unchanged from its early days in 1910 when founded by the owner’s great-grandfather. The old two-story structure was wrapped in lush tropical foliage. Known as Chaz Hotel, it drips with that which is essentially Old Florida. Our first impressions were validated upon entrance into the lobby. As has been muttered by previous generations of anglers dating back to James Heddon and Ozark Ripley, I said to myself, “This is going to be a great stay.” Once checked in, I visited my quarters. The “Old Hotel” as it was called by the Strickland Family, had been completely remodeled in 2001 with the original pine and cypress trees on the property. Re-engineered with all new amenities and set up to accommodate corporate groups as well as individual nightly stays, the Chaz Hotel has all of the bells and whistles of a modern hotel, but it still retains its unique Old Florida Charm. 52 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2018


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David and Kim Strickland are among the fourth generation in the Strickland Family to own and operate The Chassahowitzka Hotel. It was originally started by Davidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great-grandparents Ben and Eliza Smith, and it acquired its name in 1910. The family operated the Hotel from 1910 to 1969 when the family closed the business. In 2000, David and Kim had the opportunity to purchase the hotel back into the family name. The Chaz Hotels has eight tastefully decorated rooms in the main hotel. Our rooms had ceiling fans, dressers, comfortable beds, free wifi, and of course, central air conditioning. During my three-day visit, each day began with a free continental breakfast and custom brewed coffee in a casual old Chassahowitzka tradition. I had no interest in golf, something for which the hotel is famous. I was there to freelance a fishing trip. Simple stuff as the hotel is located just 2/10 of a mile from the head of The Chassahowitzka River.

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A crystal clear ribbon of water that is part of an untouched landscape propels you back in time as you set forth on your excursion. Make sure to have a camera with you to capture some of the local wildlife along the river. From manatees to otters, from osprey to eagles, you never know what you might see along the river as you paddle to one of the well-known fishing holes. I was delighted to learn that the hotel will pack a lunch for you to

take as well as a cooler with water and a variety of sodas. The Chassahowitzka River is a kayak fishing paradise. Surrounded to the north and east by the Withlacoochee State Forest and to the south by a wildlife management area, the 31,000acre Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is part of a nearly unbroken crescent of protected public lands stretching from Apalachicola to Pasco County on Floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gulf coast. The refuge was established in 1943 as a winter preserve for migratory water birds. The primary access to the refuge is a short distance down the river from the lodge. There you will find saltwater bays, estuaries and brackish marsh, teeming with over 250 species of birds, 50 species of reptile and amphibians and at least 25 different mammals including manatee, dolphin, deer, wild boar, bobcat, and bear.

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Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

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Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK I was there to sample kayak fishing. Inshore species such as sea trout, redfish, mullet, snook, and tarpon. The vast expanse of salt marsh, hardwood swamps, crystal-clear springs, and rivers are a paddlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paradise. Because the river and nearby refuge are in nearly pristine condition, the river has been designated an Outstanding Florida Waterway. With this designation, the river system was given special protection to maintain the high quality of the natural environment for generations of paddlers to come. Mine was a DIY, unguided trip. I caught lots of fish and plan to go back. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Looking for a bit of Old Florida? There is no need to look beyond David and Kim Stricklandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Chaz hotel in Chassahowitzka, Florida. For more info call them at (352) 382-2075 or 1-877807-7783, or E-mail them at

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big part of selling stories to this digital publication is fishing from a kayak. Just as important is the second part of the assignment---finding the best local pubs and craft beer breweries. As the publisher says, they go together like â&#x20AC;&#x153;peas and carrotsâ&#x20AC;?. I tend to agree, as it is pretty much a toss up which is harder work.

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Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

“Our kinda place” February 2017 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 63


Tampa Bay North

The moment you arrived Silverking Brewery, your first thought is, “these guys know a lot about Florida’s celebrated angling history, but what do they know about putting suds in a mug?” Two beers later you learn that the answer is, “a lot”. I am not saying that their list

of custom brew are worth traveling from Memphis to here to sample. On the other hand though, if your travels take you within 100 miles of Silverking Brewery, missing the joint is a serious mistake. Silverking Brewery was established in 2012, brewery has been

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a long time coming with lots of hard work, sweat and tears. It is located at 325 East Lemon Street in Tarpon Springs, which is the site original Tarpon Springs Jail / Fire House circa 1909. Silverking was chosen because its honors one of the world’s greatest sportfish, the

highly sought after Tarpon. During renovation of the building the decision was made to replace the tasting roomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ceiling tiles. As they began ripping the ceiling tiles out, old beer bottles and liquor bottles were discovered--pure signs that Silverking

Tampa Bay North

Brewing Company was meant to be in this old historical building. Later they discovered vintage 1912 photography of then Sheriff/Marshal, Marshal Rueben T. Jones standing on the Sponge Docks with a 150lb Tarpon hanging next to him. Talk about karma.


I was immediately at home in the Silverking Brewery. Everyone one there seemed to have a story to tell about an historic battle with a trophy class Tarpon. Of course the telling tale for any dive is the quality of their beer. Silverking Brewery makes eight different beers,

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meaning that if you want to sample them all at one setting, allow yourself ample time and expect to take a half dozen or so trips to the establishmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s courtesy whiz parlor. Our initial effort started with Silverking Strike ABV 5.5%. Their flagship brew, it is now

served in over 50 plus Bay area restaurants and bars. A Golden Blonde Ale, it is clear, refreshing and crisp with hand shredded lemon zest and a special spice to help its smoothness. I loved it. With a name Anclote Tailing Red ABV 5.2%, who could argue against

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it. So I next tried it. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a dark red ale with a smoky roasted flavor. The carbonation is perfect and is very smooth. It made me think of the redfish cruising the flats on Anclote Key in the shadows of the lighthouse here in Tarpon Springs. This is not bad. Marshall Jones IPA ABV

5.8% is named in honor of the early 1900’s lawman. This IPA is gold in color, like his badge, and the bitterness is balanced perfectly to enjoy sip after sip. Its bitterness is present but not over the top. Marshall Jones would approve.

Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

Next came the Bonefish Amber Ale ABV 5.9% which we found to very tasty. A bit of citrus flavor versus other ambers that are more toasted biscuit. The color is very clear and perfectly carbonated. Centennial and East Kent Goldings for hops makes this craft

beer very pleasing and an easy drinker. It is Silverking’s top seller and for good reason. I was a little disappointed in Three Rooker Stout. I am not the biggest fan of stouts, and believe that chocolate is for eating. Having said that, this flavored stout, dark, foamy and smooth to the palette. Doing a 180 degree turn, next came Blowfish Betty. A pale ale light on the hops, it is crisp clear, easy down the hatch. Blowfish Betty has a slight grapefruit flavor. I really liked it a lot—ordering a second and third rounds. Unfortunately, my job was to cover all beers, a responsibility I take very seriously. The last were down, but my concerted, discerning memory of them is a little foggy. There were the Caladessi Sunburn and their Station 69 Dark Red Ale. I’d like to comment beyond they were yummy, but I really don’t recall much until the next morning. I intend to return and start the job over from the opposite end of the beer list.

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Anclote: The K W

hen most people hear the name Tarpon Springs, Florida, images of the historic sponge docks come to mind. Whether it was a class trip, a family vacation or a television show, most of us have seen the iconic images of the sponge divers. At first glance, they appear like some sort of underwater astronauts sporting the helmet of their space exploring counterparts. Perhaps Tarpon Springs has always seemed a little too tourist oriented for you. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A novelty,â&#x20AC;? as the nicer visitors call it. The town certainly has an allure, but it also has the nouveau Florida stain. It is quickly becoming less and less like the small, quaint Homosassa and Ozello areas.

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Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

King of Variety Ragan Whitlock

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Regardless of if visitors view the town as a “tourist trap” or a “lively artifact,” most pay no attention to the river where the sponge boats actually dock. Running directly through the split of Pinellas and Pasco counties, all the way inland to the historic downtown of Tarpon Springs, lies a little jewel known as Anclote River. Anclote River is a serpentine string of deep channels that connect for miles in every direction. The river is heavily loaded with secondary channels, productive mud marshes and deep bayous with docks and other structure surrounding them. All of these wonderful fishing opportunities are merely a part of the river that connects the incredible Anclote Anchorage to Salt Lake, lying miles inland.

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Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

Within the back-alleys of the winding river are a few bayous that I would be doing the readers a disservice not to mention. Withcomb Bayou, Kreamer Bayou and Tarpon Bayou are the closest of these back alleys to downtown Tarpon Springs, and are by-far the most productive. Each of these bayous is within a short kayak paddle, all wrapping around the formation known as Chesapeake Point. The entrance to each of these bayous holds impressive opportunities to sight fish along the muddy bottom with oyster bars and mangroves serving as structure. Deeper into the bayous show deep channels and protruding docks, perfect for the summertime habits of our favorite gamefish.

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Beyond the mouth of the Anclote River is where the diversity starts to really take shape. The collision of the river and the Anclote Anchorage displays an incredibly deep cut for passing traffic, while the fringes are a variety of winding marshes, mangrove islands and oyster-bar keys. Not only does the deep channel allow a clear lane for traffic for boaters, diverting those who would normally fly over the kayak-fishing areas, but it also allows a great clear lane of traffic for traveling packs of redfish and snook. Anclote river is the deepest of the channels in the area, enticing every flats-bound pack of gamefish for a safe ride.

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Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

To take the cake, as if the incredible river drainage and flats of the Anchorage were not enough to entice a traveling fisherman, Anclote Key Preserve State Park lies within an hourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paddle from mouth of the river. The park can also be accessed within a slightly shorter paddle from Fred Howard Park. The state park contains everything the perfect Western Florida Key could offer a fisherman. From the gulf side, the long, dogleg left key offers breathtaking beaches for a relaxing lunch. It also holds very deep channels directly off the beach, perfect for drop shotting some sort of bait. The side facing away from the gulf, however, is where the fishing becomes much more predictable.

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The entire inside of the Key is shrouded with mangroves. Some are accompanied by long mud flats and some have deep grass flats all the way to the shore. A few dozen yards off the shore lies another set of smaller, mangrove islands. The north set of islands, known as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;North Keys,â&#x20AC;? are sprinkled around deep channels and grass flats mixed with sand holes. The area is mostly three to five feet with channels tipping over ten feet deep. South of these keys lies an entirely different environment. The grass flats directly adjacent to the Anclote Key Lighthouse are as lush with turtle grass as any flats you will find. They are a good deal shallower, providing wonderful springtime sight-fishing opportunities.

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Regardless of the time of year, the type of fishing you wish to do, or the wind direction/ferocity, Anclote is the place to be. Every feasible condition for snook and redfish habitat is found here in some form or fashion. If you would like to spend the day on a beautiful beach, fishing calm and translucent grass flats, the option is available. If you would like to spend the day weaving through wind protected mangroves and channels looking for a pig snook, the option is available. One week spent in Anclote will offer an angler the perfect snapshot of Florida fishing.

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Ozello: A Piece of


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:Old Florida

Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

Left Behind M

ost of the millions of tourists who flock to Florida every year have never heard of the little town called “Ozello.” Perhaps it is the lack of easily available beaches. Maybe it is the fact that condos are replaced by old-family homes. Either way, it isn’t too surprising that Miami sees more tourists in a single July than Ozello will probably see in a decade. Fishermen, though, know exactly what this beauty of an area has to offer. The lack of beaches is indicative of something much greater in the eyes of a kayak fisherman. It means more structure. It means creeks, and it means redfish. To count every single marsh, creek and bay within the keys of Ozello would be an impressive task to undertake. Instead, I will just let the maps on Google Earth speak for themselves. The maps depict hundreds of winding corridors, snaking through miles of keys from Crystal River down to Pine Island. February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 81


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Ozello provides an angler a similar experience to the Everglades down south. There is one launch in the area, which is shared by many zealous anglers. As crowded as the ramp may seem at times, after a few minutes of paddling it feels like utter wilderness. Without a proper map, or plenty of juice in the iPhone, it would be very easy to get lost in the seemingly infinite connectors keys and flats. If you were to paddle for an hour into the deep recesses of the Ozello Keys, there is no doubt that you will be casting to unpressured fish. In fact, the vastness of this area leads me to believe that some deep holes or mangrove cuts go years without seeing a lure. The geography of this place makes it attractive to kayakers above all else. The narrow pathways and sudden appearance of redfish habitat allow kayakers a much higher room for error than the large flats or bay boats. With changing tides and miles of creeks and marshes, flats boats also run a pretty big risk of getting grounded. Kayakers, however, need not to worry. Even if the tide is active enough to expose a mud bottom or oyster bar, the changing depth will almost always allow a safe, albeit narrow, passage.

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These changing depths also allow another wonderful opportunity for kayak fishermen. We finally get to break out the fly rod. The issues with fly fishing from a kayak are well known. Casting from the kayak can be a problem. Storing the gear in the kayak can be a problem. Hell, for some kayaks, simply standing up is not an option. It certainly isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t while out on a bay or in the surf with moving water. 84 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2017

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Ozello, however, allows the easy docking of a kayak. The beauty of the small creeks and marshes is the sheer number of places to find ground. Simply paddling down a creek until a deep mud hole or mangrove cut appears and dragging the kayak onto a shallow sand bar puts the fisherman in a perfect position. Similar to trout fishing in a mountain stream, you simply walk into a good position for casting without the restraints of a moving kayak. By no means will each deep hole or flat contain fish, but a day searching for them will usually produce opportunities. February 2017 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 85


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Redfish also tend to hold in a group pattern deep into the heart of Ozello. Though you can catch a single redfish sunning on a mudflat, it usually isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the case. Most of the time, setting the hook result in one of the most impressive sights a fisherman can see. The sudden explosion of movement from a hooked fish creates a chain reaction. A group of three redfish darting out of mangrove recess creates a ton of movement and wake, but groups eclipsing a dozen create a scene that is hard to describe. Groups of fish in Ozello, even if stacked into a hole the size of a truck, can reach numbers well past 30. The excitement created when one fish shows signs of distress is unparalleled. The glassy, quiet water turns into something that looks piranhas feeding or Olympic swimmers taking off. It is a sight you will never forget. Finding these redfish is never easy. Catching one once you find them is a taller task. A trip to Ozello puts you in the best possible position to stumble upon one, regardless of experience level. Spend a few days in this Old-Florida gem and I promise you will make a return trip. You may not find any beaches or night-clubs, but one Ozello redfish is enough to be hooked for a lifetime.

Tampa Bay North CLOSE LOOK

BRADYS HANDMADE NETS For custom designs, please email us at bradyshandmadenets@

Tel: 1-864-216-5878 Location: Spartanburg, SC

Kayak Fishing for Deep South Pickerel By Ed Mashburn

The rougher the backwater, the better for pickerel anglers.

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his canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be good for my heart. Once again, an aggressive fish has blasted up out of the weeds to take my topwater lure, and the fish is now dancing across the water and then boring deep toward the weeds below where it can find safety. Although the fight is intense, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t last long, and then my opponent is finning at the side of the kayak. About a foot and a half long, the green top and white bottom of this long, slender fish is separated by sides streaked with chains of light gold across a greenish background. This slender fish has perfect camo concealment for its life of constant mayhem and murder. And that intense black and gold eye glares at me for disturbing its morning hunt for food. But the most impressive thing about this little freshwater tigerthat long, broad bill of a mouth filled with rows of super-sharp teeth

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Catch â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Em Early and Often

Not many anglers set out to catch chain pickerel, but they encounter the freshwater tiger fish in a wide range of situations. One of the most common encounters between kayak anglers and chain pickerel occurs in early spring. It seems that chain pickerel and spawning crappie occupy the same sort of territory in spring- shallow water, lots of wood cover, some weeds nearby are nice. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s this preference for nasty, rough, snaggy surroundings that makes kayak fishing for pickerel so much fun.

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Then when anglers drop a lively minnow under a bobber or slow-swim a crappie jig past a place where crappie should be, the toothy pickerel intercepts the crappie lure and takes it for his own. Of course, with that mouth full of super-sharp teeth, if a light crappie leader contacts a tooth, the fight will be over in a flash. Another common pickerel encounter happens when a bass angler is working heavy shoreline or an open water hump with thick cover and structure. The angler makes a good cast into the thick stuff, starts a retrieve, and then an aggressive pickerel intercepts the lure, makes a vicious strike, and the angler gets to see a couple of leaps before the pickerel gets the line across its teeth. Then the line is cut, the expensive bass lure is gone, and the angler usually responds with some hot language directed toward the pickerel and its whole family.

A field of lily pads is a perfect location to find pickerel.

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Look for Bad Places

Most sizable bodies of freshwater in the deep South hold populations of pickerel, but anglers can improve their chances of finding and hooking up the tiger fish by fishing creeks, bayous, and shallow bays off the main lakes or river bodies. This is perfect kayak fishing water. In fact, kayak anglers will be able to get to lots of aggressive pickerel that no other angler can. The best pickerel water will be as full of cover as it can go. Lily pads are good. Pickerel love to hide in the dark shadows below pads and ambush prey as it moves over them.

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Thick under-surface weeds can make fishing difficult, but pickerel will use the heavy weed growth as cover, and then when hooked, try to run back into the thick stuff for escape. Logs, either floating or sunken, are great ambush spots that pickerel love to hide under and then explode on lures that pass by too close In short, the more gnarly and rough the cover, the more likely it is a kayak angler will find pickerel there.

Could any other kind of boat fish here? Kayaks are great for pickerel.

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Give â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Em Some Bling

Kayak anglers have discovered pike of all kinds and our southern pickerel in particular love things that are shiny and flashy. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing subtle or delicate about pickerel. Spinnerbaits are very effective for attracting the attention of pickerel. A small inline or safety-pin type spinner in light colors is deadly on pickerel. I like to use a white or silver soft plastic fluke for pickerel. I rig the fluke weedless and weightless. I throw the fluke as far as I can over heavy cover, and

Pickerel are equipped with a sharp set of teeth, and they know how to use them.

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then I hop the fluke back to the boat. I make as much commotion as possible, and when the fluke reaches an open patch of water, I let the lure sink as far as it will go. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s often that a bigger pickerel will blast up through the weed cover to blow up on a fluke which is hopping and bouncing over the surface. This, by the way, is a whole of fun.

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Pickerel fights donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t usually last long, but they are intense.

Leaders- for those Teeth

The sharpness of pickerel teeth and the skill with which the mini-pike use these teeth to separate anglers from their lures is well-known. Traditionally, anglers have resorted to wire leaders. Up north where the massive northern pike and muskies are caught, wire leaders heavy enough for saltwater shark fishing applications are used. A light wire leader- it only needs to be eight inches or so long- will work well to protect line from pickerel teeth.

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Many anglers don’t like using wire because it is heavy, and it’s stiff and doesn’t allow good lure action in many cases. Good results using a short one-foot long section of 20 lb. Power-Pro or other good braided line as a bite-leader have been found. The braided line is not perfect- pickerel teeth will still cut the line if the teeth make too solid contact with it, but braided line is much more cut-resistant than mono, and it’s limp and limber enough to allow very good lure action. February 2018 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 97

And Dealing with the “Trash Fish”

Kayak anglers often encounter a pest that occupies pickerel waters- the largemouth bass. It’s not uncommon for an angler seeking two-pound pickerel in the heavy weeds to have a seven or eight pound bass take the lure and treat the angler badly for a while. All that can be done is to work the bass carefully, get it to the kayak, and then carefully release it. Then it’s time to get back to serious pickerel fishing.

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Be careful when handling pickerel- those teeth are impressive.

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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

not for a boat ride!

Blood Lines:

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About Those New Swimbaits


round ten years or so ago, one of the hottest lures on the market was a generation referred to as swimbaits. Generally speaking, they were relatively expensive, realistic looking big minnow-style baits that featured articulated body construction. They heralded from the lakes of California where swimbaits had made quite a splash; something of a magic bullet for catching big bucket-mouth bass. So lifelike and seduction. Bass could not resist grabbing them off of the surface when a swimbait is slithered gingerly near to it. February 2017 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 103

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Today the marketplaces teem with swimbaits has the demand has skyrocketed. Custom lure makers have scrambled to meet the demand for swimbait, and a number of mainstream lure makers that are like Savage have entered the marketplace. Most modern anglers using articulated minnows are quite surprise learn the thought behind these new baits has been around for well over 100 years. Jacob Hansen invented and patented the Michigan Lifelike Minnow in 1908. They were distributed through Adolph Arntz, an early sporting goods dealer from Muskegon, Michigan. These are found in both three and five hook configurations. They are nearly always found with paint condition issues, and to find one in excellent condition doesn't happen very often. Hansen is also known for inventing and manufacturing the Muskegon Spoon Jack Minnow. It has been found in many different varieties and from what I have seen, it is hard to find two that look alike. They all have the predominant large spoon at the nose and came in a variety of sizes and shapes. Also of importance is the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pull Me Slowâ&#x20AC;? lure that also sports a very large front prop. All of the examples of this lure that I have seen have had a red head and white body. All of Hansenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lures are considered quite rare, and the boxes are few and far between. A few examples of these unique antique lures are shown here. In the water, the articulated body imitates the movements of a real fish swimming.

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In very recent times modern swimbait have come down in price. Originally they were available only from custom lure makers in California whose asking price varied from $30 to $120. They were made to mimic rainbow trout stocked in lakes and preyed up voraciously by the big largemouth bass. Today the explosion of interest in swimbait has made its way in the general tackle. While really big bait makers like Pradco and Pure Fishing have largely ignored anglerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interest in swimbaits, a couple dozen others bait makers have expanded to meet the demand. The big result has been wide application and the lower prices for swimbaits that can be bought for $8 to $15. Also, the design of the growing number of swimbaits include panfish and other nontrout species such as chubs and shiners.

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Anglers have discovered that swimbaits not only work on California bass, but those fish found in Florida and Kansas. They have also found that swimming these baits along the surface is but one way to present them. Subsurface offerings are just as effective, which is ironic as that is precisely how Hansen recommended this Michigan Lifelike Minnow be trolled. So much for the â&#x20AC;&#x153;newâ&#x20AC;? part of swimbaits.

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A Worthy Opponen

By Ed Rivers

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Temple Fork TPS 701-1 S


ere at Southern Kayak Fishing Magazine, we get a little giddy when there is an opportunity to field test light action spinning gear. While we certainly do cover a lot of saltwater kayaking, we’re really right at home on a lake, stream, or pond.

While it’s usually takes a little arm twisting get someone to hit the waves to field test big water kayak fishing rods and reels, light spinning draws in the curious volunteers, like flies go for ‘tater salad. The post ICAST arrival of a Temple Fork Outfitter’s TPS 701-1 Spinning Rod set off yet another round of jockeying to see who got first shot at it. I called rank and won, and I was off to the Sipsey River in northern Alabama to try out this little wand. 118 l Southern Kayak Fishing l February 2017

k Outfitter’s Spinning Rod

Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) came onto the scene two decades ago with the winning philosophy of providing anglers a tool properly fit to their needs that is designed to last a lifetime, but one that won’t empty their pocket book. Since its inception, TFO designed rods have been recognized for optimizing the balance between performance and price by focusing on quality and affordability. In multiple rod tests, they hold their own. And many times, top rods makers (with a resume as long as your leg) validate their higher cost which is often 50 to 75 percent over the price of most TFO rods.

TFO is well known among fly fishermen, but their conventional rods for other fishermen are nothing to sneeze at. For example, their TFD Big Fish was designed by legendary angler, Larry Dahlberg, and their very popular TPM Pacemaker was designed by former Bassmaster Classic Champion, Cliff Pace. The reputation of these and other models such as the TFG Professional, GIS Inshore, GIF Surf rods and others in the TFO stable, leave little doubt to the company’s commitment to fresh and saltwater conventional fishing.

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The 2017 release of TFO’s TPS 701-1 Spinning Rod is yet another giant step in the Texas-based company’s tradition of providing high-end power and performance and prices that an average Joe can afford. The code “TPS” stands for “Trout Panfish Series” and was designed to fill the need for the strong desire to catch panfish, and small trout that frankly are the primary quarry of many, many kayak anglers. As TFO states, “In keeping with those memories of summer night’s spent on the dock, the Trout and Panfish series was designed to bridge the gap from old memories to new.” The Trout-Panfish Series features light-weight stainless steel guides, a cutting-edge, weight saving reel seat and premium cork. The Trout-Panfish Series is offered in both one and two-piece spinning rods from 5 1/2-feet to 7-feet. Sophisticated and elegant in their designs, they do not have unnecessary accouterments that add expense and cost. All six rods in the new series are rated to cast 2-6 pound test line, which makes them perfect for casting micro jigs and spinners. So, how did it “pan” out? In terms of casting, we found the TFO Trout-Panfish Series earned excellent ratings. It was at its best when long casting into a narrow creek channel up ahead of yaks. We were casting 4 pound line and jigs you balance on the end of your pinkie. It is designed for ultra-light offerings in the 1/32- to 3/16-ounce class, which it handled well, but was just at home casting quarter-ounce offerings like Roostertail or Panther Martin spinners. It had an easy retrieve with its lightweight yet sturdy blank that can easily handle a two pound rainbow trout or even a four pound bronzeback bass. We are delighted at the versatility of this little bantamweight stick.

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The big question we had dealt with the feel of these rods. While most fish occasionally transmit the subtle takes, trout and crappie are notorious for their ability to suck in an offering and then spit it out without any telltale messages being telegraphed to the anglers. With the TFO TPS rod we used, it did a fantastic job of letting us feel the most subtle strike. It is so sensitive that you can almost getaway with fishing it blindfolded. We really liked it. One problem with ultralight tackle is that the rods are sometimes so spaghetti soft that setting the hook is a delayed reaction. This lack of backbone is the demise of many otherwise outstanding ultralight spinning rods. The TPS exhibited a quick feel of strikes and had sufficient backbone to allow a good hook set. It also had enough backbone to keep it from the entanglement of fish holding structure. The only drawback we found, and it indeed this is a legitimate complaint, was that for an ultralight rod, the two longest rods in this Trout-Panfish Series is their solid blank construction. Most of the ultralights we have tested were broken down into two piece rods. The one-piece blank was pretty flawless, which is probably why it was not offered in two-piece construction. However, from an ease of transport point of view, it was a just a bit of a pain in the hiney. In terms of overall evaluation, the TFO Trout Panfish Series 701-1 Spinning Rod gets a solid A-. It retails for under $90.

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A Museum for the Southern Fly Fisherman

t may be easy to think that Kayaks are all pretty similar. Some are wider, some are taller and some have an inordinate amount of bells and whistles. From afar, however, they all look the same. Almost any kayak gives people the opportunity to sit with a single rod and catch a fish. Apart from that, things start to vary significantly. Many people, certainly including fly-fisherman, need a few more options with their kayaks. What if you need to stand up and sight-cast to fish? Just this simple, obvious issue takes a lot of addressing by manufacturers. First off, the kayak must be wide and stable enough to accommodate a large person balancing while standing up. Next comes the gear storage issue. Fly-fishermen are happily high maintenance with regards to the gear they need. Obviously, the rods are significantly longer than what you would use otherwise. My standard spinning rods are 7’ while every one of my saltwater fly rods are 9’. Most fishermen, fly or spin, carry at least two rods with them at all times. A standard rod holder that points the rod in the air behind the fishermen may be fine when you are using a spinning rod, but doesn’t fit the fly-fishing world. Imagine trying to cast to a tailing redfish with a 9-foot hazard directly in the line of your backcast. With the limited space on a kayak, this is not an easy problem to remedy. Apart from the long rods, there are other gear issues. Unless the floor is completely uncluttered (unlikely), fly fishermen need to bring along a strip basket. Fly fishermen also need easier access to their fly boxes and other gear than spin

The Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians — originally

located in Cherokee, NC — has a new home in neighboring Bryson City where it shares a building with the Bryson City / Swain County Chamber of Commerce. It’s centrally located on the town square across the street from the visitor center. The Museum is open Monday thru Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and admission is free.

The scope of the museum covers an

area with more than 14,700 miles of accessible trout streams — the nine Southern Appalachian States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama; the Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Bryson City, NC


Through exhibits and videos you’ll

learn about legendary “Stream Blazers,” the evolution of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, types of gear, types of gamefish, regional fishing waters, and the history of fly fishing in the Southeast. Whether you are a long-time fly fisherman, or have only attempted or never tried fly fishing, you will find something to enjoy and to learn from in the museum.



Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians 210 Main Street Bryson City, NC 28713 800-867-9241

New Kayak Fishing Book Review

Kayak Fishing

the Northern Gulf Coast By Ed Mashburn

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not easy finding and getting to fishing spots that are strange to us, but a new guide from a veteran kayak angler helps kayak folks from other areas find their way along the Gulf Coast region- a bucket-list fishing place for many anglers. This new guide examines in detail the coastal regions of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisianasome of the best kayak fishing waters in the world. Kayak anglers from the Midwest and Texas are well within driving distance of the area covered in this book. With the aid of this guide, kayak anglers can find great fishing and easy access to the waters of the Gulf Coast. From redfish, speckled trout, flounder and other inshore game fish to blue water species such as mackerel, tarpon, dolphin fish, and even billfish off the beaches of the area, this book provides specific information about where, when, and how to find and catch some great fish for kayak anglers. As well as fishing information, Kayak Fishing the Northern Gulf Coast advises anglers where to stay and where to eat while staying on the coast. Detailed driving instructions for all the specific fishing locations are provided. The author, Ed Mashburn, is a long-time resident and kayak angler on the Gulf Coast, and he is a frequent contributor to Southern Kayak Fishing Magazine. The book is soft-cover 176 page format, and it features 198 color photosplenty of note-taking space is provided in the book. Published by Schiffer Press, Kayak Fishing the Northern Gulf will be on sale at all bookstores and many coastal outdoors supply outlets. Price is $24.99, and signed copies can be obtained from the author by contacting him at

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“Forged in Rugged Spectacular Country; Built to be Fished Anywhere.” TM

Proven-High Performance

Duane Redford: “Fear No Water” 8 Rivers Fly Fishing Pro Staff Lead Senior Fishing Guide Colorado 3 Time Best Selling Author

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Professional Fishing Guide & Instructor Whether you fish with family, friends, colleagues - or if you are new to the sport come and be my honored guest on the water.

Tell me your goals for the outing, ask all the questions you want and learn all you can. I specialize in coaching conventional and fly fishing techniques on Texas lakes and rivers. Exchange stress for relaxation, fun and memories. Lakes: Canyon, Dunlap & LBJ Rivers: Guadalupe, Blanco & San Marcos Boat, Kayak or Wading

(210) 771-0123

Southern Kayak Issue 14  
Southern Kayak Issue 14