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Inside: Featured Kayak Fishing Destination - Ozarks

Southern Kayak Fishing issue #2

www.sokayakfishing.com

A Gem in the Ozarks

Crooked Creek IN THIS ISSUE:

The Devil’s River Jackson Kayak Spring Crappie Standup Kayak Fishing Tips

April 2015


Editor’s Message 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.

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pringtime in the South comes at different times. It comes early in south Florida and South Texas, and it comes later in the Ozarks and the other parts of the upper South. No matter when spring arrives, it’s always welcome, and it always brings good kayak fishing.

Spring means different fish to be caught in different parts of the South. Spring might be king and Spanish mackerel arriving off the beaches in force. Spring is also white bass and stripers running up the rivers to spawn. Spring is also multitudes of crappie bedding close to shore where kayak anglers can fill an ice chest for a family fish fry. PISGAH FOREST, NC

In this Spring Issue, Southern Kayak Fishing looks at a number of places where fine fish can be caught. It just so happens that our Featured Destination for this issue is the Ozarks. Springtime in the Ozarks is a wonderful time. When the dogwoods turn the hills and valleys white with their blooms, and the hardwood trees and their new leaves make the woods look cloudy and indistinct, then it’s a sure bet that the fish will be biting. Kayak fishing in all of the parts of the South is wonderful, but kayak fishing seems more than well-suited for the Ozarks. Whether anglers seek trout in the tailrace waters or smallmouth bass in the creeks and streams, or even bream of many kinds in the backwaters and ponds, a kayak is the key to the best fishing in the hills of the Ozarks. So, we’re ready to celebrate the passing of winter and the arrival of spring. And the best way to celebrate spring is to occupy the seat of a kayak and get on the water. (continued)

GUIDE SERVICES | ONLINE & RETAIL STORE | LESSONS

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Editor’s Message (cont.)

Southern

Kayak Fishing Editor

Ed Mashburn Edmashburn@aol.com Publisher Don Kirk Don@Southerntrout.com National Sales Director Lisa Trust Lisa@SouthernTrout.com Managing Editor Leah Kirk Technical Advisor Tim Perkins Editorial Consultant 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 and Stonefly Press LLC. It is produced in conjunction with Southern Trout Magazine and Southerntrout.com. Copyright 2015 Southern Unlimited LLC and Stonefly Press LLC. All rights reserved.

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Now, here’s a suggestion for all of us kayak anglers this spring: Let’s make plans to try and take a kayak fishing road trip to a fishing destination each of us has never been. Any of us who live in the South are a single day’s driving from great kayak fishing that is probably a lot different from our home waters. After all, one of the prime advantages of using a kayak for a fishing craft is that kayaks are so portable. Toss the ‘yak on top of the car in the rack or in the back of the pickup, tie it down securely, and hit the road. Unlike big powerboats on trailers, kayaks don’t affect gas mileage much at all. So going kayak fishing on a road trip really isn’t any more expensive or more trouble than just a plain old road trip- and with the kayak along, all sorts of great fishing possibilities open up. This Spring Issue of Southern Kayak Fishing, like all issues, presents readers with information on where to go, how to fish, and what is to be caught in specific areas of the great South. It just makes sense to use our freedom of mobility that comes with kayaks, and hit the road and find new places to fish. And you find a great new place, let us at SKF know- we love to hear our readers fishing reports and information. Ed Mashburn edmashburn@aol.com

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This Issue Editor’s Letter

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Devil’s River: A Little Piece of 10 Heaven Yak Gear 22 Cool Products for Kayak Anglers

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Featured Kayak Shop Terapin Outdoors

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Featured Kayak Builder 80 Jackson Kayak Featured Kayak Destination The Ozarks

Kayak Fishing in the Ozarks 110 It’s Not a New Concept Little Red River

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Kayak Fishing Gear Review Lightweight DrySaks

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Now You’re Here; Where Do You Fish?

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The Call of Paddleboard Fishing

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Paddle Fishing VS Peddle Fishing

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Summer Striper on the Illinois River in Oklahoma

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Multifloat Kayak Float Fishing It Isn’t Always a Solitary Pastime

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Small Waters - Big Cats

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Spring Crappie Fishing from Kayaks 200

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Standup Kayak Fishing Tips 128 Kayaking for Carp 134 It’s Not Your Grandfather’s Carp Fishing 6 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Crooked Creek 100 A Gem in the Ozarks

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Release Reels 144

Featured Artist 32 Duane Hada Kayak Fishing the Doah

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Devil’s River

A Little Piece of Heaven by Clint Taylor

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Editor’s Note- Our new buddy Clint Taylor is a student at Abilene Christian University studying engineering and physics, and it is good to see that he is not neglecting the important things in life- like kayak fishing- while he’s working hard in school. We appreciate very much Clint telling us about his favorite kayak fishing river- the Devil’s River sounds like a whole lot of fun to us. April 2015

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exas is a state that has a lot of pride for many different reasons. This pride comes from some of the best barbeque in the whole country, a strong sense of authenticity to cattle and ranching, and also a sense of respect for how Texas became a state. Texas is also the only state that can fly our state flag as high as the American flag, not to mention that Texas could become its own country if we wanted to. Although these are all some great and unique characteristics of Texas, there is one river in Texas that sets itself aside from all others … the Devils River. Located at the junction of the Chihuahuan Desert, Edwards Plateau, and the Tamaulipan Matorral Ecoregion is the Devils River. The Devils River is a little more than 90 miles long from its start as some small springs to its confluence into Lake Amistad on the U.S. – Mexico border. Large limestone canyons and escarpments surround the Devils River, along with an abundance of Texas Sagebrush. Not many trees grow in this region, as there is little soil that is suitable for sustaining growth, but right along the banks of the Devils River is a healthy population of live oak, pecan, and sycamore trees. This is partly what makes the Devils River so unique is its location. The best way to describe it is like an oasis, as there is nothing but limestone rock all around with rugged canyons and cliffs, but then out of the blue is a haven for life with crystal clear springfed water. It is truly a sight to see, but this may not be as easy as driving to the river for the day. Devil’s River

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Just as the location makes the Devils River unique, it also makes it quite difficult to access for kayak fishing, as there are only three major access points – Baker’s Crossing, Devils River State Natural Area, and the beginning of Lake Amistad. Of course, there are other access points, but most of these rely on owning a piece of property on the Devils River, or knowing someone who does. When you do find an access point that fits you well, you have to plan tremendously. While out on the river, help can be hours away, as there is no cell phone coverage and the nearest hospital is in Del Rio, TX. Don’t expect to be able to make hotel reservations on the Devils River either, as there aren’t any. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, and slippery rocks also add to the danger of going to the Devils River, but quite possibly the greatest danger of the Devils River besides being so remote is the weather. Texas summers get into the triple digits quite often, so if you are not hydrated well and do not have appropriate protection from the sun, problems can quickly arise. Although the heat gets to everybody, if you are not used to these type of temperatures, it can wear you down very fast. Another problem with the Devils River is that it is near impossible to just do a day trip without a special connection to riverside land. This means that you will not only be facing a challenging river, but facing it overnight while camping too. Camping brings up yet another problem, as you are only allowed to stay within the banks of the Devils River because all of the land on the Devils River is private. With this in mind, you need to realize that you have to set up a tent on a rock island in the middle of the river in order to be legally camping, not on the banks of the river. The only exception to this rule would be in an emergency situation or when you need to portage a potentially hazardous section of water. It might seem that there is a lot that can go wrong when going to the Devils River, but the more important idea is that preparation can be the difference in a great trip and an accident happening. 14 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Dolan Falls April 2015

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Along with all these dangers and obstacles comes an incredible reward. Being so remote and untouched by humans, the Devils River is one of the last ecologically intact rivers in Texas. Part of the reason why the Devils River is so clean is also because it is nearly one hundred percent spring fed. Water does feed into the Devils River from rainfall, but besides this, the Devils River basically forms from a series of springs. The extremely natural habitat and clean waters combine for a great ecosystem, especially one for kayak fisherman. One can expect a lot when fishing the Devils River. The success of just going to the Devils River and being immersed in beautiful scenery is something to be proud of in itself, but catching a three pound smallmouth bass, or a big largemouth bass can make the experience all that much better. That’s right, smallmouth bass. Due to the cool water temperatures from the spring water, the Devils River is able to support smallmouth bass which typically are found much further north. In fact, the Devils River is one of the southernmost bodies of water that can support smallmouth bass.

Kayaking and canoeing is really the only logical option for going on the Devils River as it is considered to be what I call a pool and rapids river. Basically, this means the Devils River consists of multiple, long pools of water that are connected by a series of rapids. This provides another danger as you will have to portage in multiple areas. One rapid that you will have to portage without a doubt is Dolan Falls. Probably the most iconic feature of the Devils River, Dolan Falls is a class III-IV rapid that should definitely be portaged. Three Tier Rapids is another section of rough water that can be run if water conditions are appropriate and you scout your shoot line wisely, but I would advise portaging to be on the safe side.

Devil’s River Smallmouth Bass

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Another unique fish that you can catch is the Rio Grande cichlid. More commonly known as a Rio Grande perch, these colorful fish are feisty little rascals that have quite a relative in the peacock bass of the Amazon. If you have ever heard of the peacock bass, you know how ferocious and aggressive they can be. Well, the Rio Grande perch is related to the peacock bass and it has inherited some of its traits – especially the aggressive trait. Because of living in such an untouched river, the fish are incredibly healthy and a blast to catch, and when you can catch a largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and even a Rio Grande perch all in one day, it makes the fishing all that much more memorable. No doubt the Devils River is my favorite river, but more importantly, it is one of the last untouched and ecologically intact rivers in not only Texas, but the United States. I can remember the first time I went kayak fishing on the Devils River, as it will not be an easy task to forget. If you ever get the opportunity to visit the Devils River, do so because it will be an experience you will always remember.

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Devil’s River Below Dolan Falls April 2015 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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From the Beginning to NowYAK GEAR Cool Products for Kayak Anglers April 2015

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he first time my paddle hit the water, I was hooked. I was hooked in more ways than one, as displayed by the bend in my rod and the smile on my face. At that moment, kayak fishing combined my love of fishing and appreciation for the outdoors, a combination stronger than fried crawfish on my special-recipe Cajun pizza. The experience was not just catching my first fish, but also paddling past a flock of resting pelicans, seeing the beautiful morning sun rise over the water, and most importantly watching my son’s eyes as he showed me his prized trout. As a result, my son and I began to tinker with our kayaks, doing a little here and a little there. After all, I am a firm believer that even the caveman didn’t get a complete kayak from the manufacturer when he crawled to the nearest kayak shop some 200,000 years ago. This tinkering habit grew. My son, his best friend, and I spent blistering hot Houston afternoons in the garage working on our kayaks. Like Santa and his elves, I manned the saw and drilled the holes, while the kids held the screwdrivers, complained about the heat, and made lemonade runs to the kitchen. Like all kayakers, we didn’t create brand new products. Instead, we read what others were doing, on what was then the limited number of kayak fishing forums, and proceeded to personalize these ideas. The end result -- a unique kayak fishing machine. We got pretty good at this. In February 2005, we got our start as Reel Deals, an online retailer of two basic leashes and fishing reels. As a kayak angler and curious inventor, I slowly expanded the line to include rudimentary imitations of what is now Yak Gear’s extensive line of rigging kits and leashes. With the manufacturing help of the kids from the garage, we handmade every kayak accessory that went out the door. After all, I offered cable TV and a $3.00 per hour wage, what more could a 15 year old want? The expansion continued through November of 2007 when Yak Gear reached its twentieth product in our paddlesport accessory line. It was then that Yak Gear faced its first incoming tide and began offering products to nationwide retail stores. As the product line continued to expand, Yak Gear began to gain the attention of multiple retail stores, ranging from nationwide big box retailers to family owned, single location kayak shops. Yak Gear currently holds agreements with multiple retail sporting goods stores (Academy Sports & Outdoors, Cabela’s, Dicks Sporting Goods, Gander Mountain, Sport Chalet, Sportsman’s Warehouse and West Marine), as well as over 75 specialty paddle sports shops, with product assortments ranging from 10 to 40 products. On top of these agreements, Yak Gear distributes for other up and coming paddlesport accessory companies, hosts a retail showroom in Houston, Texas, and operates a multinational, e-commerce website.

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DELUXE ANCHOR TROLLY KIT Little did we know, seven years later the kids from the garage and I are still at it. Some things have changed since our start in the garage. We have added twelve other people to the payroll, moved into a 7,500 square foot warehouse, and the kids finally learned how to use the saw. What hasn’t changed is that we are still hand making every leash and counting every screw. April 2015

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With the new growth of Yak Gear and the past success that paddlers and anglers all over the world have helped us achieve, we feel that the guy and two kids in the garage, who used kayak fishing and kayak rigging as a Sunday afternoon hobby to spend quality time together, are proudly waiting to head inside, ready to call it a day. After all, we’ve rigged our kayaks and have helped many people rig theirs. That’s good enough, right? Sorry guys, we want to keep rigging. Yak Gear Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kit - The Deluxe Anchor Trolley will help you stop being a victim of changing currents while fishing in the anchored position. The Yak Gear Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kit allows deployment of any anchor, drift chute, or stake out pole before judging the current and wind while still remaining in a favorable fishing position. Without a trolley you are limited to anchoring to where you can reach, causing your boat to swing back and forth. Mounted just off of one gunwale of any kayak or canoe, the deluxe trolley kit uses a nylon pulley system to select a desirable position anywhere from bow to stern, then maintains the positioning through the use of a 2-5/16 inch mini zig zag cleat. The deluxe system uses pulleys to seamlessly pass trolley rope from bow to stern, without the standard rubbing of rope along slightly less smooth pad eyes. The mounted pulleys are raised off of the boat enough to eliminate any unnecessary rubbing or scratching of the boat. As always, this complete kit comes with all stainless steel installation hardware, installation instructions, and rigging tips from Yak Gear. Water proof silicone and anchor recommended, but not included. Yak Gear 48” Baja Paddle Leash - Never lose a paddle while paddling with the Yak Gear Baja Paddle Leash. A hybrid leash between flexible nylon bungee leashes and strong nylon sleeve leashes, the Baja Paddle Leash is composed with a base of flexible ¼ inch nylon bungee which is overwrapped by a nylon sleeve for strength. Unlike many sleeve leashes, there are no large buckles to bang against your boat and scare away the fish. The 48 inch leash stretches from 48 to 60 inches, giving you the perfect 26 l Southern Kayak Fishing l April 2015

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combination of leash flexibility and strength. The boat-side of the leash connects by threading the oversized loop through a pad eye or any accessible seat strap, while the connection to the paddle is through the use of the velcro strap on a one piece paddle or slipping the shaft of the two piece paddle through the 1 inch bungee leash loop. Southern Kayak Fishing l 27


Yak Gear LuminaLED Rechargeable Utility Light - The Yak Gear Lumina LED Rechargeable Utility Light is a true multipurpose outdoor adventure utility light. The compact Yak Gear Lumina LED Rechargeable Utility Light emits 360 degrees of ultra-bright white light or amber light to provide visibility and safety for outdoor recreation. This light comes from an array of 16 LED's, 8 of which are white and 8 of which are amber. This color differentiation allows for versatility in different applications of outdoor recreation. The Yak Gear Lumina LED Rechargeable Utility Light comes complete with a charger for prolonged use, measures 4 inches in diameter and weighs 9 ounces. When fully charged, this light will stay lit for 6-10 hours of constant use when in solid mode and 12 hours of constant use when in flashing mode. Additionally, the Yak Gear LuminaLED Rechargeable Utility Light comes complete with 2 magnetic mounting discs, for use with the included self-tapping screws or the included 3M tape dots. The LuminaLED is shock proof, vibration proof, waterproof and it floats.

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Yak Gear KC Magic Kayak Cleaner KC Magic cleans, protects and brings back the shine on kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and externally mounted accessories. The non-staining formula offers UV protection to help reduce the oxidizing of your boat or accessories. The odorless spray, sold in a 16 ounce spray bottle, can also prevent the quickness of onset corrosion caused by contact with salt water. Typical applications for a 14 foot kayak are 1-2 ounces sprayed on the surface. It is recommended to use KC Magic after every second or third adventure. If you are experiencing aggressive dirt, salt or weather conditions, more regular use may be necessary. April 2015

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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


Some people are good at art. Some are good at creating flies which catch fish. Some are good at showing others how to catch fish. Only a very few are really good at all of these thing. Duane Hada of Mountain Home, Arkansas is one of these remarkable people who is good at all of these important things in life. We’ll let Duane tell his story in his own way.

Duane Hada A Life Reflected Through His Art 32 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured artist

I was born and raised in Boone and Newton counties in Arkansas, which I strongly credit with my love of the outdoors and the source of much of my artistic inspiration. I had a natural ability to draw at a young age, but more than anything, an unquencable desire to recreate the wildlife and landscapes that I was so passionate about. I was a kid who was always in the creek, or in the woods- I couldn't get enough of it. None of the small rural schools I attended offered any art classes. It wasn't until I took a basic drawing 34 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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class my freshman year of college, that I realized this is something I love to do and was pretty good at it. From there I pursued a degree in Art Education from the University of Central Arkansas. April 2015

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featured artist

My favorite medium to work in is still transparent watercolor. I like to work in the traditional style and application. I admire the work of Winslow Homer and my living mentors, Thomas Aquanis Daly and Arthur Shilstone. Watercolor is very simple, but it’s just hard to do. It has a mind of its own; it can create mood, atmosphere, temperature and capture feeling in spontaneous genius strokes that cannot be duplicated. Each original watercolor well executed is truly a one of a kind masterpiece. I have to be totally absorbed in my subject and free of distraction to create my best pieces. When I have a good one, it is fresh, responsive, and glows with subtle colors.

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featured artist As a trained artist, I know the rules of composition, color theory and the principles of design. These are always working in the back of my mind as I look for inspiring scenes. But it is my personal connection to the subject matter and intimate knowledge of it that separates my painting from one that is just academically correct to one that conveys that bond of having been there and shared that moment. A day on the river fishing fuels my creative spirit like nothing else. The way the light filters through the trees, the color of water, light on a stream bed, and then the fish themselves. The range of color displayed on the cheek of a stream-bred trout or the camouflage markings of a native smallmouth over a limestone shelf never cease to amaze and inspire me. A lot of my paintings are river scenes with an angler in them. People love to see their favorite stretch of the river depicted in these scenes, and if the figure looks like them, all the better. I work from both photos and real life subjects. More and more I am painting plain air. This has totally revolutionized my eye and has resulted in a more keen sense of real color, light and composition. I like the experience of painting stream side. I use the water from that particular stream. In a way I guess that captures some of the soul of the experience. These on location paintings have become some of my most sought after pieces. Obviously, my realistic style underwater scenes are done in the studio from personal photos I have taken with underwater cameras. These are in a more highly detailed, illustrative style but with enough loose expressive brush work to make a beautiful painting.

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featured artist

I have been blessed to have traveled and combined my fishing and painting in the some of most beautiful places in the world. I have painted on the River Dee in Wales, where I caught my first European grayling, and various old world pure strain brown trout in picturesque estate waters in the traditional style of the British Isles. I’ve spent wilderness trips in Alaska, Canada, much of the Caribbean and Yucatan. In each of these places a pachode box of watercolors was a companion to my travel rod. As 40 l Southern Kayak Fishing l April 2015

great as all of these experiences are, the subject matter that I am most familiar with is what I paint best. From small Ozark spring creeks to the fog shrouded banks of the White River, this home water subject matter never fails to inspire my best work. My signature painting is that angler casting a beautiful line across a pool with trout rings on the water and a rising mist below the ridge line. April 2015

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featured artist

More and more these days people shop on-line and art is at the forefront of this market. My website, www. rivertowngallery.com, is an on-line gallery where people can view pieces of my work for purchase. However, viewing the work first hand in person gives you time to bond with the piece you select. There are many galleries that carry my work. The main body of work can be seen at Rivertown Gallery. Dally's Ozark Fly Shop has many of my original pieces as well as Ellen Hobgood Gallery in Heber Springs, AR and the Art and Craft Guild in Mountain View, AR. My work is also shown in regional as well and national shows usually depicting watercolors or plein air painting events. I do a number of commissions each year so picking up the phone and calling me direct is a good place to start.

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featured artist

My gallery is a real treat for the art and outdoor enthusiast. There you will find the latest of my artistic creations on display. I am a very prolific artist and the decor is always changing and fresh. I also pride myself in painting very accurate replica mounts of various sport fish. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, or by special appointment. We are located on the square in Mountain Home, AR. I may not always be there, but I assure you the pleasant and knowledgeable staff will make your visit and art selection a memorable one. Helping you own original art that connects and identifies with your passions and the places you hold sacred is what we are all about. Duane Hada DuaneHada@hotmail.com www.RivertownGallery.com 104 East 7th Street Mountain Home, Ar 72653 (870)404-7999 Cell (870)425-3898 Gallery

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Kayaking Fishing the ‘Doah By Doug Gibson 48 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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The Shenandoah River is a great smallmouth river that starts in Virginia and flows north into West Virginia, where it joins with the Potomac River. There is both a North Fork and South Fork that join outside of Front Royal, Virginia to form the main stem of the Shenandoah River. The river holds a variety of fish, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill. The smallmouth fishing is why I spend as much time as possible floating the river in my kayak. The Shenandoah River provides many opportunities and locations for both single access and float trips. This article focuses on a short float in the main stem Shenandoah River outside of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia that provides great pre-spawn smallmouth fishing in April and May. Southern Kayak Fishing

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Starting the ‘Doah Float The start of the float trip is located at Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area, which is an official West Virginia Division of Natural Resources public access site, in Jefferson County West Virginia. There is a single concrete ramp for launching not just kayaks, but also any riverboat and an adjacent smaller parking area. The ramp is located at end of a long stretch of shallow and faster water with a lot of exposed ledge rock that transitions into a long pool of slower water that lasts for approximately two miles. A float of approximately three and a half miles will take you under the Bloomery Bridge on Route 115 and to the end of the float at Moulton Park. Moulton Park is a Jefferson County, West Virginia riverfront park that has two concrete ramps and a smaller gravel parking area. At Blommery Bridge, the slow water transitions to a small stretch of shallow and faster water and then into approximately a half a mile of another large pool to the ramp at Moulton Park. This time of year the smallmouth should predominately in a pre-spawn pattern, with the

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best fishing areas being in or around the best current protected areas. This float provides great opportunities to fish those types of location, with the best late spring locations being at the beginning and end of the float. For all kayak anglers, this float should not start at the base of the rapids across from the ramp. The approximate three quarters of a mile of shallower, faster water upstream of the ramp should not be ignored. It contains a number of eddy areas behind exposed ledge rock that holds plenty of smallmouth bass. A great tip is to use the path along the river to drag the kayak and launch off the bank above the last big rapid. Once you are in the kayak, start paddling upstream and focusing on both calm eddy areas and the “push water” above fast riffle areas and chutes between exposed ledge rocks. The term push water is used to describe the area where the water speeds up, as it gets shallower above a riffle area. Actively feeding smallmouth cruise in or along the area looking for a meal. In push water areas

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I predominately throw soft plastic flukes, spinnerbaits, and the occasional crawdad or shad colored crankbait to find active fish. A number

of the push water areas are worked most effectively by standing on rocks below the push water and casting up into it. When I get to any

eddy area, I predominately throw plastic craws or Power Team lures tubes on a Winco’s Custom Lures specially designed river

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The Mid-float Water

in these areas so I throw lures that are designed to work low and slow along the bottom. But anglers should not ignore reaction lures in or specifically along eddy areas also. I often have luck casting spinnerbaits in this area by throwing into the faster water next to the eddy and reeling into the eddy area, which is the current seam. Smallmouth are often found along the seam often hit the spinnerbait as soon as it crosses into the calmer water. There is at least three quarters of a mile of this shallower water for you to work over, so pick it over till your heart’s content and then turn around and begin your float down. After you clear the last rapid at the ramp, the river begins what is essentially a long two-mile pool that ends at Bloomery Bridge on Route 115. Two deep water holes are across from the ramp, and they are

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worked over most effectively by floating in place in the calmer water below the rapid and casting upstream. The best lures to fish with here are lures that get down fast, including river jighead and plastic lures, deeper diving crankbaits, and spinnerbaits if the fish are active. An angler should only spend a short time at the end of the rapids before paddling downriver to better angling locations. Anglers will catch a few smallmouth around a small island a hundred yards or so on river right below the ramp. It is not an area to spend a lot of time around however, as the river is shallow without any significant bottom cover to hold smallmouth. It is best to simply paddle for the next mile and a half with the occasional casts to all visible shoreline eddies caused by wood and rocks that are encountered.

The second prime smallmouth area begins in sight of the Bloomery Bridge where a rock garden begins. A rock garden is a term to describe an area of a river where there are a lot of larger size rocks, either above or just below the water surface. This rock garden consists of exposed ledge rock that also contains push water and faster current chutes between exposed rock features. The push water is effectively worked both by casting downstream into the push water while floating towards it and by casting upstream back into it after floating through it. Reaction type lures, including spinnerbaits, plastic flukes, plastic grubs, and even buzzbaits, are still great lures to throw in the garden. Then in the eddy areas below the exposed rocks, jigheads and plastic craws, tubes, Senkos, and flukes again are great lures to throw for less aggressive smallmouth. After floating through the rock garden, anglers should focus on the area under the bridge. There are three channels created by exposed ledge rock that anglers can float through. Smallmouth, and the occasional largemouth, are caught in this area fishing the push water and eddy areas with the same lures used throughout the float. This area is prime spinnerbait water with the numerous current chutes, push water and exposed ledge rocks that provide a standing platform for anglers. Flukes, plastic swimbaits, and buzzbaits are also great lures to throw in this area. The same jigheads and plastic craws, Texas rigged or wacky rigged Senkos, and flukes should still be thrown into the many eddy areas that exist. Kayak anglers should spend a significant amount of time working as much of the river as possible in this area.

At the End of the Float

There are only a couple hundred yards of river left until the boat ramp and the end of the float after passing under the bridge. This small stretch of the river goes back to being deeper and slower, as it is the start of another big pool. Anglers will find a few scattered smallmouth at the end of this float along the shorelines and in the deeper water where the bottom shows significant change. This float is one that provides anglers consistent smallmouth action not only in spring, but through the fall as well. If you do not have time for a float, you cannot go wrong with only fishing either the Shannondale Springs or Bloomery Bridge area. If you find yourself in the West Virginia Panhandle and have the opportunity, check out the Shenandoah River for some great smallmouth fishing. I do not believe you will leave disappointed.

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Featured Kayak Shop

by Tim Perkins

Editor’s NoteWe asked our technical advisor, Tim Perkins, to tell us about one of his favorite kayak shops here in the South. He selected Terrapin Outdoor Center in beautiful Piedmont, Alabama. He was happy to do this, and he lets the owner of the shop, Mike Warren, tell us about the shop and the boats and gear it sells. 56 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Featured Kayak Shop

Tim asks-What makes your area special for kayak anglers? Mike says-We’re 90 miles from Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Birmingham. Terrapin Creek is known for good fishing, especially for bass, red eyes, spots, etc., but walleye and the shadow bass are here, too. They are spring fed and clean, and there is an outdoor store/ outfitter that sells and caters to kayak anglers in the area! ...Terrapin Outdoor Center! www. canoeshop.net Tim asks-How has interest in

kayak fishing grown in your area?

Mike says-In the last few years with the introduction of kayaks that are full blown fishing super machines, more people have become interested in fishing, and they are now on the water. So, the interest has definitely grown. From kids to senior citizens, they love the idea of sneaking up on the big one in a yak... And again, it’s because of some of the quality, wild colors and specialization of some these yaks. They are impressive. They make you want to yak and fish. 58 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Featured Kayak Shop

Tim asks-How long has your shop been in business? Mike says-This year will officially be 20 years for Terrapin Outdoor Center, and we are looking forward to another 20! It’s been a pleasure serving our friends in the Terrapin Creek area as well as all over the Southeastern United States. Tim asks-How important is it for your shop to be a full-service kayak shop? Mike says-Very important. Is there a full-service anything anywhere anymore? Not really. So, we strive to be that kind of paddlesports retailer and outfitter. We offer sales, service and repair along with a nice parts inventory. Tim asks-How do you make sure you have the gear kayak anglers need?

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Mike says-We listen to customers that are fisherman. Being in business this long, you can pick up on what others are asking about and wanting. We always stock the latest and greatest fishing kayaks and accessories. April 2015

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Featured Kayak Shop

Tim asks-What do you offer kayak buyers in the form of instruction, advice, support? Mike says- refer to the previous question. Our passion is getting the customer into the correct boat and them having a happy experience in store and on water. The correct boat is important. We offer knowledgeable advice, and we offer before and after the sale service. We want the whole buying and paddling experience to be fun! Tim Asks- What are some of the product lines you carry? Mike says- Jackson Kayak, Wilderness Systems, Old Town, Dagger, Perception, Wave Sport, Mad River, Necky, Ocean Kayak, Wenonah, Current Designs, BIC, Imagine Surf, Surftech, Aqua Bound, Bending Branches, Werner Paddles, Adventure Technology, Carlisle Paddles, Astral Buoyancy, Stohlquist, ExtraSport, Harmony, Bomber Gear, NRS, Yakima. Tim asks- .How does your shop attract and keep customers Mike says- Great selection for sale. Over 500+ boats in-stock, Terrapin Creek rentals in the summer!, good customer service, clean establishment and honesty.

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Featured Kayak Shop

Tim asks- What are the trends that you see in kayak fishing? Mike says- Prices keep going up but I guess that's understandable, the boats do get nicer! More people are willing to pay extra for good quality product, especially when they find out it's made in the USA. Tim asks- Finally, what would you like to convey to potential customers regarding your kayak shop? Mike says emphaticallyCome in. Take a look at all of the boats. Make yourself at home. Walk to the creek. Hopefully take a new fishing yak home with you. Enjoy yourself out here in the country! Terrapin Outdoor Center Canoes | Kayaks | SUP's | Accessories Sales & Rentals www.canoeshop.net (256) 447-8383 64 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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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!


Springtime Kayak Redfishing in the Merritt Island National WIldlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore

Florida’s Indian River Lagoon system runs behind barrier islands along the east coast of the state for 160 miles, from New Smyrna Beach to Jupiter. The best redfishing happens at the northern end of the lagoon, in Brevard and Volusia counties, from Titusville to New Smyrna Beach. Two Federal properties encomass a good piece of this water, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore. South of Oak Hill the lagoons are quite open, with extensive manatee grass flats along the edges dropping into a deeper bowl in the center. North of Oak Hill hundreds of islands, channels and small ponds make for a wonderful playground for kayaking redfishermen. During the springtime, fly fishing is an awesome way to catch both reds and big spotted seatrout here. Water temperatures are rising and the fish are eating well.

by John Kumiski

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A seven- or eight-weight fly rod with a floating weight forward line and plenty of backing is the standard recommended outfit. I like a smaller rod, with a nine foot four-weight being a favorite. Either way, carry an extra rod in its tube as a backup. If you're not a fly fisher and you're reading this, most of what follows can be applied to other forms of tackle. For fly selection, you need to have Clouser minnows, #4, in chartreuse and white, dark brown and black. The lead eyes on these flies should vary between 1/100th and 1/60th ounce. Small (#4) seaducers and sliders work well as shrimp imitations. Weighted flies need to be tied with weedguards. The grass gets quite thick. Some kind of surface fly is needed for blind casting, or bugging for seatrout. I like gurglers because they're easy to make, easy to cast, and the fish eat them, but use your own favorite. Color doesn't seem to matter. Bring some weedless ones for days with lots of floating grass. An absolute necessity for redfish working the shallows is a crab imitation. The Merkin Crab works extremely well when fish are feeding on crabs. Redfish seldom refuse a properly presented crab imitation. Again, size four are easy to cast and the fish eat lots of crabs of this size. Lastly some kind of reverse tie comes in handy, especially at dusk when fish patrol the shorelines. I tie mine like a Clouser minnow without lead eyes, or I use a #2 Rattlin' Minnow. Bendbacks would serve the purpose. Of course you should bring your own personal favorites.

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Redfish prefer water temperatures around 70 degrees. During the spring the water temperature generally hovers around that 70 degree mark most of the time, so fishing can last all day long On days with good weather you'll also find some really big trout up on the flats sunning themselves. Unweighted streamers or popping bugs can be deadly then. Obviously a 160-mile long lagoon is a sizeable piece of water. Many days you're going to have to do some paddling to find some fish. Be prepared to put in a full solar day.

South of Oak Hill there are practically no tides. Since the lagoon has no tidal flow, the fish cannot sit in the current and wait for food to come to them. So the fish often keep moving. Every day is a new hunt. My strategy is to paddle fairly quickly until I start seeing fish, what I call the Search Mode. Once I run a fish or two over, I pause and get the line stripped off my reel and make a couple practice casts, getting the range. Now I paddle slowly looking for targets, what I call the Hunting Mode. When Lady Luck smiles, I'll see a fish that I want to stalk. At this point most folks just get close enough to cast. Then they flail away. This is a mistake. Using the paddle,

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silently put the boat into a position where you can make a good, quality cast, or a series of quality casts. One good cast is worth dozens of bad ones. Take the time to get it right the first time, because the first cast is by far the best chance to get that fish to eat. Once you get the boat into that position, keep it there. If the water is shallow enough I put my leg over the side and hold the boat in place with my foot, one reason I prefer fishing in shallow water. If it’s really shallow the boat will literally be on the bottom. It’s not likely to move much then! April 2015

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Once the boat is in position and immobilized, then and only then does the casting commence. If you’ve picked the right position and the fish hasn’t done anything weird, one or two casts will usually be enough to get a response from the fish one way or the other. Many times there are only a few feet of line out of the rod. I can often see the scales on the fish’s back. Making a good cast in this situation is easy, and you can see everything that the fish does in response to your presentation of the fly. There’s no guesswork at all. It works extremely well. Redfish to about 10 pounds or so will work in very skinny water, sometimes with their backs out of the water along the shoreline. These fish supply some very exciting fishing! They look for small crabs along the shorelines. Crab flies are killers then. Small minnows will often be pursued, too. Sometimes redfish will work in concert with snowy egrets and they bounce the hapless minnows between them. Always check out around feeding herons or egrets. Redfish often hunt in the immediate vicinity. The small brown Clouser minnow is best used in this situation. Around all the islands north of Oak Hill, the water does have some tidal movement. The tidal range can be as much as a foot. When the water is only eight inches deep, that twelve-inch range is enormously significant. I prefer lower water levels for reasons already mentioned- it’s easier to see the fish from a kayak when the water is skinny, and when it’s time to cast you can hold your position with your foot. 74 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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If it's windy or when the water is deep you can't hold your position for casts very easily. This is when I get off the boat and wade. Wading anywhere in the lagoon system is usually hard work. The bottom is often firm enough to wade, but soft enough to make it difficult. When wading, slide your feet across the bottom. There are lots of stingrays. Something to keep in mind when you come to fish here is that these fish see a lot of fishermen. They are not easy. If you can consistently catch fish here you can catch them anywhere. So if you make a perfect presentation and the fish blows up and spooks, accept it philosophically and look for another shot. They do eat, and when you fool one it’s that much more rewarding.

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Indian River Access

Kayakers have lots of access to the Indian River Lagoon system. From Titusville, heading north: -Indian River Lagoon, west side- Titusville Municipal Marina; Mims Launch Ramp, 2010 Jones Rd, Mims, FL 32754; Scottsmoor Landing, 2400 Huntington Avenue, Mims, FL 32754 -Indian River Lagoon, east side- Parrish Park, Titusville -Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge- There are lots of places to launch kayaks here. The more notable include off the Biolab Road, off the Gator Creek Road, off of Patillo Creek Road, and the boat ramps at Dummit Creek, Haulover Canal, Beacon 42 Fish Camp, the WSEG boat ramp. There are other spots you can find if you're adventurous. -Canaveral National Seashore- There are ramps on both sides of the lagoon. On the west side in Oak Hill there is the public boat ramp at River Breeze park, and a private ramp at Lopez Fish Camp, both found on Google. On the east side in the seashore you can launch at the Turtle Mound ramp and the Parking Lot 5 ramp. Good luck and enjoy your trip.-J.K.

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15th Annual

April 11-12, 2015

2015 SPEAKERS Lefty Kreh • Bob Clouser • Beau Beasley • Tom Gilmore Ed Jaworowski • Blane Chocklett • Walt Cary Captain Gary Dubiel • Pat Cohen • Cory Routh

2015 MAJOR SPONSORS Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation Dominion • Trout Unlimited • Temple Fork Outfitters

Advance tickets, extensive beginner and children’s classes, registration and program information: vaflyfishingfestival.org


featured kayak builder

J

ackson Kayak was founded 11 years ago by world champion Eric (EJ) Jackson and fellow paddler Tony Lunt. Jackson Kayak was given little chance at success by the kayak industry “establishment.” In ten short years, Jackson Kayak has grown from five employees in a 700 square foot building near the banks of Tennessee’s Caney Fork River, to a worldwide leader in paddlesports. We now have 150 dedicated employees operating in two factories in Sparta, TN, and are the fastest growing major kayak company in the US!

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featured kayak builder

Voted #1 Kayak Manufacturer in the US

In 2013 Jackson Kayak was voted the “#1 Made in USA Kayak Manufacturer. Since then our craftsmanship and diligence in keeping our products locally made has garnered regular notice, including this years Tennessee’s Governor’s Award for Trade Excellence, and nominations to this year’s Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards (along side Patagonia and Coleman) as well as the Made in USA awards. The Secret of Success: Jackson Kayak is a community!

Jackson Kayak is a community.

It begins with EJ and his kin...Kristine, Emily, son-inlaw Nick' and Dane (all world champions), and KC. However, our true family includes our employees, teams, business partners, and paddlers worldwide who enjoy kayaking and SUP like we do. We take our work seriously but we also remain serious about paddling. For us, the two are inseparable. We have a dedicated group of designers, each with decades of experience, but their work is based on the demands and input from our community. Without this input and feedback, the innovation you see from Jackson Kayak could not happen.

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featured kayak builder

Whitewater Roots

Four-time world champion 
and Olympic kayaker Eric Jackson first collaborated with avid paddler and naval architect David Knight in 1997 in the design of a whitewater kayak that would change the industry, The Fun was the result, a kayak made for paddlers from the age of 9 and over! Since then Jackson Kayak has produced dozens of the world’s most successful whitewater kayaks creating an era of innovative firsts and “inclusion by design” where Jackson Kayaks was seen as the only company to design for paddlers of all ages. The result became immediately clear as Jackson kayaks have won more medals at whitewater world championship events than any other brand, and won all of the World Whitewater Grand Prix events to date in their creek and river running kayaks, where top paddlers from around the world compete in a series of extreme races.

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Fishing Phenom

In 2010, Jackson Kayak teamed with pro kayak angler Drew Gregory to produce the Coosa and truly revolutionized kayak fishing. The Coosa caught the industry by surprise with benchmark innovations that brought Jackson Kayak instantly to the forefront of fishing kayak design. Hi/Lo adjustable Elite Seats that allowed for “standability,” along with thoroughly thought-out deck designs, and unmatched accessorization via partners like YakAttack and RAM Mounts put this kayak heads and shoulders above most of the competition. The hull design was shaped for unparalleled stabilization and the placement of the deck features turned many heads as being the “fisherman’s kayak”. The market buzzed, but the Coosa was destined mainly for the rivers and small waterways. That is until the Cuda.

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featured kayak builder

The Cuda 14 came out to the pleasure of those who wanted a Jackson Kayak for bigger water. Like Jackson did with the Coosa, the Cuda was chock full of new innovation and sported one of the fastest hulls in fishing along side the patented Hi/ Lo Elite Seat and the ability to outfit as you want without drilling holes. It filled a void of those waiting on a boat other than the Coosa. By the end of year 2 of Jackson Kayak’s fore into kayak fishing, it sat in the top 3 spots for units sold across America, the Cuda being the top selling specialty kayak on the market. Since then Jackson has produced fishing kayaks for all waterways from rivers, to small lakes to open seas, and Jackson has adapted its decking styles and hull designs to fit the needs of every paddler. The unique Big Rig for those sporting extra weight, the tandem Big Tuna and the cost effective Cruise Angler series sees Jackson’s familiar “inclusive” approach reemerge in fishing as it did in whitewater. The most recent innovation being the Kraken, a Jim Sammons signature kayak, for the long waiting ocean going fishing crowd who take pleasure in chasing marlin, roosterfish, and other ocean species through rough waters and great distances. 86 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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In 2015 Jackson Kayaks continues to push the envelopes of kayak angling and whitewater and 2016 looks even more exciting. New partners like Raymarine, Power Pole, Nalgene and Buck Knives have turned the industry, once again, upside down with products like the Big Rig Pro and Coosa HD, an update the now legendary Coosa, the start of it all.

What now? Coolers?

Recently Jackson Kayak launched a new product line, specialty coolers – Orion Coolers. Based on years of outdoorsman experience collectively and Jackson’s prowess in rotomolding, the Orion Coolers have taken the cooler market by surprise… sound familiar?

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CHANGE YOUR FLY LINE

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featured kayak destination

The Ozarks Although the Ozarks are usually called “mountains” the truth is that these ancient hills don’t give much competition to the Smokies, and they surely don’t stack up well as mountains compared to the Rockies. But even the Ozarks aren’t impressive as high mountains, there are some sparkling, clear, and fast-running reasons why the Ozarks should interest kayak anglers.

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featured kayak destination

This elevated plateau which stretches from the eastern parts of Arkansas and Missouri across the borderland of the two states to easternmost Oklahoma does have some pretty deep draws and “hollers” and some of the finest water for kayak anglers to be found anywhere. Names like Kings River, Piney River, Current River, Jack’s Fork River, Crooked Creek, Spring River, Buffalo River, and of course, the world-famous White River bring small-boat floating and fishing to mind. Float fishing was born and developed in the Ozarks. There are more limestone-based streams, rivers, and tailwaters than can be counted in these old hills, and kayak anglers owe it to themselves to look at the OzarksArkansas, Missouri, or Oklahoma- as a most desirable kayak road trip destination. 92 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured kayak destination

Some of the waters in the Ozarks- the larger streams such as the White River and the Norfork River as well as the many large lakes in the region- are fine for pedal kayaks, However, most of the free-flowing creeks are too shallow, fast, and rocky for kayaks with underwater propulsion system. Most of the creeks here are classic paddle-yak waters.

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featured kayak destination

And I want to be honest- I love the Ozarks. My family and I used to live there, and I have spent many wonderful hours floating and fishing the waters of the Ozarks for trout-rainbow, brown and brook-, but especially, for smallmouth bass, which are native to the area. Any place which has smallmouth bass as natives is a good place, in my opinion. So, spend some time looking over these articles which tell about the fishing in the streams and rivers of the Ozarks, and then see if visiting the area doesn’t start to make good sense.

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Come fish the great Arkansas Tailwaters

with some of the area’s most experienced guides. Our Fly Fishing trips are tailored to your needs

and experience level. We are a group of veteran guides with a passion for teaching and sharing. Visit our website for details!

www.theozarkflyguides.com

We offer Jet Boat trips, Drift Boat trips and

YES, even instructional Kayak trips! Let us

help plan your Ozark fly fishing getaway in any style you want.

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featured kayak destination

A Gem in the Arkansas Ozarks Crooked Creek

By Lori Sloas

Editor’s Note-I used to live very near

Crooked Creek in the Arkansas Ozarks, and it’s a stream very dear to my heart. I’ve floated the creek many times, and my personal best smallmouth- a chunky nearly six-pounder- came from a shady Crooked Creek run. There may be better smallmouth bass streams than Crooked Creek, but I’ve never been there. And if there are better smallmouth streams, I’d love to go visit! Here’s how it’s done in the Ozarks by a guide and fly angler who spends a lot of time kayaking the clear, rocky, lively waters of Crooked Creek.

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featured kayak destination

Be Prepared when on Crooked Creek My husband, John Berry, taught me to secure everything in the kayak so when I capsize, I will still have everything intact. It is important that my kayak buddies understand this as well. I am selective who I take fishing and kayaking with me because the wrong people can mean a frustrating fishing trip. I want my buddies to know how to kayak and if they don’t, I take the time to teach them how to paddle and be safe on the creek. I emphasize safety and require everyone who paddles with me to wear a personal flotation device. They should be prepared if they should capsize. I teach folks how to secure their fly rods and fishing equipment which includes closing the hatch if they have one on their kayak. The last thing a wet floater wants to do is chase gear down the stream or lose a fly rod. If you float Crooked Creek enough, you will eventually capsize, so I ensure everything is attached to the kayak or stowed away securely. There are some fairly fast-water runs on Crooked Creek- it’s a narrow creek with rocky rapids and stair-steps in several places. There are numerous places with low-hanging limbs in fast water. If you are afraid that you can’t shoot a rapid successfully, then get out and walk the kayak through the spot. I always have a short rope attached to the bow for this reason. I often kayak with my sister, Terri,and niece, Brooke, and we enjoy fly fishing for either smallmouth bass or trout. We especially enjoy fishing Crooked Creek in the Ozarks of Arkansas since this is a nearby smallmouth stream with warmer water than the frigid White River. We often float about a four mile section of Crooked Creek. This stream can be deceiving. It is normally an easy float, but depending on the water levels it can be treacherous at times. We are aware that if heavy rain falls upstream close to the headwaters of Crooked Creek, the water far downstream can rise rapidly- even in bright sunshine. I always check the creek water gauge and the regional weather to determine if it is safe to float or if we have enough water in the creek, so we don’t have to drag our kayaks in low water. 102 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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If you will be gone on a float all day, make sure you take some snacks, lunch and water with you. Find a soft sided cooler that you can either place inside the hatch or bungee to your kayak. I also take a first aid kit, rescue knife, and cell phone with me. I like to take walkie talkies with us to communicate with trip buddies. This is especially helpful on Crooked Creek, because one of the most effective ways to fish the creek is to “hole hop.” We paddle from spot to spot and get out of our kayaks to fish. I often fish one hole and the others fish downstream from me. I use the walkie talkie to rendezvous for lunch or to tell them that I am still alive. I can use my cell phone to take pictures or call for help if necessary. Of course, I don’t recommend floating by yourself on remote waters, and Crooked Creek qualifies as remote waters. A lot can go wrong quickly. April 2015

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featured kayak destination

featured kayak destination

Gearing Up for a Crooked Creek Float I always take a small vest of my favorite flies such as clouser minnows and crayfish patterns. I have assorted flies, and if my favorites don’t work, then I start using different streamer patterns. My trusty seven weight TFO TrCrX with a bass taper line is my smallmouth rod. I use seven and a half foot 2X leaders and carry 2Xtippet to do leader repairs if necessary. The bass taper line really helps turn over the heavy fly. The fly needs to sink to the bottom to be effective, and then it is stripped to simulate a wounded bait fish. I had my sister get the same rod and tackle as myself to aid her success of catching smallmouth. My niece just uses a five weight with woolly buggers or lighter clousers and uses seven and a half foot 4 x leaders. I have a sit-in kayak and break my four piece rod into two pieces when I move from fishing spots and secure it with Velcro to my seat. My sister uses my husband’s sit on top, and she attaches her fly rod to the side of the kayak being careful to protect the tip from sticking out beyond the bow of the kayak. She knows to have everything secure in moving downstream. We fish every run that looks good and work it slowly. We have found that if we aren’t careful, it will be dusk on even a short Crooked Creek float before we get off the creek. I have learned the hard way that paddling during low light conditions can be hazardous.

Now, Catching those Ozark Brown Bass Sometimes we float a stretch of water on Crooked Creek that will allow all three of us in our kayaks. My niece sometimes just watches us for a while since she isn’t as obsessed as we are about catching smallmouth. I prefer fishing for smallmouth, since I like remote waters where smallmouth live, and I think smallmouth fight harder than most trout. Smallmouths fight similar to brown trout in that they hug the bottom of the stream and try everything to spit the hook. Even a ten-inch smallmouth fights harder than a trout considerably larger. Unfortunately due to gravel mining in the past and locals harvesting the larger smallmouth, we don’t catch very big ones often. An eighteen incher is a big smallie for Crooked Creek. We practice catch and release and encourage others to do the same. We also encourage others to be respectful of other’s private property along Crooked Creek since most of it is private land.

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featured kayak destination

I always record water conditions and levels in my journal as well as how many fish that I landed on which flies in order to prepare for the next trip afterwards. In addition, I journal what the outside air temperature is and sometimes the water temperature since smallmouth bass are lethargic when the water temperatures are below about 60 degrees or when summer makes the water very low and overly warm. Yet, fly fishing is no doubt the most challenging and fun way to catch Crooked Creek smallmouth bass, anglers with light spinning gear can catch a whole lot of brownie bass on a float. Six pound test line and a medium length rod are just about right. For lures, anything that looks like a crawdad works well. Short plastic worms on a 1/8 oz jighead are deadly when cast to the shadow side of big boulders and allowed to sink into the deeper water. Small topwaters cast into shaded areas often produce thunderous strikes from aggressive creek smallmouth- and that’s about as much fun as one angler can stand.

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Best Advice for Folks who Want to Float and fish Crooked Creek There are many stretches of Crooked Creek which are suitable for floating and fishing from Harrison, Arkansas to Yellville, Arkansas-depending on current water flow and conditions. For folks who have never floated the creek, the absolute best advice- for both fishing and safety- go with a guide the first time or two. Crooked Creek can be a real bear of a stream when the water is rising or if heavy rains have fallen upstream, and although it’s not a true wilderness float, there’s not much around the creek except for gorgeous scenery and high, limestone bluffs, and it’s a long, long walk to get help. A very good place to start a Crooked Creek float trip is to contact Berry Brother guides (http://www.berrybrothersguides.com) and set up a trip. April 2015

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featured kayak destination

Kayak Fishing in the Ozarks- It’s Not a New Concept By Eric Hansen

As anglers we all seek the seclusion in fishing- that feeling we get being away from the daily grind of the concrete jungles where we live and work. Taking that seclusion and adding the excitement of hooking into a fish that in your own mind no one else has ever tricked into biting an artificial lure; and I believe you have the true roots of why anyone enjoys the sport of fishing. For myself this has always been my calm place where I feel the most at peace and one of the many reasons I have developed a deep passion for kayak fishing in general. Kayak fishing gives me the ability to access waters away from modern civilization, either for a few hours or a few days, to a place where it feels like no one else has been with the fish lurking just beneath the surface unaware of my presence. With the current new popularity of kayak fishing throughout the United States, the thought of finding seclusion in fishing while being able to access wild waters is not a new concept in the Ozarks. In fact, float fishing is a huge part of the cultural history of the Ozarks. To many, the Ozarks is still a place that offers the opportunity to find seclusion while fishing, a place that you can find the passion you’re seeking. To me it is the place that I am proud to call my home. 110 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured kayak destination

Float fishing- A Natural thing The history of kayak fishing dates back thousands of years where it was originally developed in Arctic regions as a lightweight craft to hunt and fish on inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters. In the Ozarks, I believe that there is a different craft that we can attribute to why sales of fishing kayaks has been gaining momentum in the region. This traditional float craft is called the Ozark longboat. In the early 1900’s when there were still thousands of miles of wild rivers and before the middle century mass flood control efforts through dam building in the southeastern United States, the Ozark longboat allowed for anglers to float fish the Ozark streams and rivers that were virtually inaccessible by other means. These longboats were used for short day trips or long 30 mile overnight camping/fishing excursions. They became popular during the early 20th century and many float fishing outfitters such as the Owen’s Float Line became prominent along the White River of Arkansas and Missouri. Handcrafted, the Ozark Longboat averaged 20 to 30 feet in length with a narrow wooden construction that proved to be both stable for standup fishing and sturdy for the wild waters of the Ozarks. While it shared many of the same features as other johnboats during the time, the length is what distinguished these boats from others. The longboats were navigated using a long slender push pole by their captains. They would position the craft in the perfect location of the river to allow casts to be made into the riffles by clients or friends seeking the famous Ozark Smallmouth. The float trips would be run with multiple boats, usually accommodating large groups. A supply boat would move down river during the day and set up camp on a gravel bar, waiting for the rest of the float fishing party to arrive. The day’s catch would be cooked over a campfire with other provisions while they shared their stories of past longboat adventures. 112 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured kayak destination With longboats today being operated by only one remaining outfitter within the region, they are very rarely seen on the Ozark Rivers where they once thrived. However, the legend of the longboat and the culture of float fishing have failed to disappear in its entirety. It is still a prominent staple of Ozark history seen in historical societies and through canoe liveries found throughout the region. These float fishing trips and their guides have become iconic in Ozark cultural history and overnight float fishing trips are still very popular in the Ozarks today. However one thing has changed and that is the introduction of the kayak as a modern float fishing craft. Today’s fishing kayaks offer many of the same benefits as the longboats of the 1930s and 1950s such as standup capabilities, durability, and wild water accessibility. There are also many added benefits that the longboat desperately lacked. One notable difference is the weight comparison as kayaks are significantly lighter with plastic hulls than their wooden longboat predecessors. Kayak fishing is not a new concept in the Ozarks; the people that call this region home have been float fishing since they were toddlers with their dads and granddads. It is a way of life for them; they found the seclusion and excitement long ago, that many of us sought in the beginning of our kayak fishing journeys. And finally with the introduction of the modern fishing kayak, 114 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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they are glad that manufacturers have begun to catch up with the cultural history of float fishing in the Ozarks. In our online communities we call it “kayak fishing”, here in the Ozarks locals call it” float fishing” and it is how they were raised and taught to find that seclusion and excitement in fishing. Ozark kayak fishing is not a fad or a bandwagon activity; the history behind it has been an Ozark passion and a way of life for hundreds of years. On any day of the week during any season you can find a float fisherman sitting or standing in a kayak along one of the many Ozark rivers, chasing smallmouth in a clear spring-fed riffle. He is positioning his craft with a technology driven, advanced kayak paddle to that prime spot in order to make that perfect cast towards the base of a root wad lodged in the current. In the next hour he is going to begin setting up camp on a gravel bar, preparing to cook his day’s catch, and thinking back on his past kayak adventures on the river. He has found his seclusion away from modern distractions and is excited about the next bluff hole holding schools of smallmouth at morning light where he is sure in his mind no one has ever cast a line. He is a float fisherman in the Ozarks using a modern kayak and gear instead of the historic longboat.

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January 2015

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featured kayak destination

Little Red River, Arkansas by Phillip Landry

The Little Red River, located in Heber Springs, Arkansas, is a river many of our readers have heard of. In 1992 the river gained fame for producing a world record brown trout of 40 pounds and 4 ounces- this record stood for 17 years. Kayaks are a great way to get to areas on the Little Red River that are away from public accesses and to cover more water. It’s necessary to learn the lay of the land (and the water) first though. The water levels can change drastically with water releases due to generation, so kayakers need to know what to watch for and how to plan ahead as best they can. We’ll take a look at the various trout-fishing sections of the Little Red River below Greers Ferry Dam and the best kayak fishing advice we can give.

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featured kayak destination

JFK Park > Cow Shoals (5.5 Miles)

There is a small ramp at JFK Park- just below the dam- where boats can put in. The takeout on this one is a challenging one for the end of a day. Cow Shoals does not have a ramp, but has a flight of stairs up to the public parking area. It can be done, but not for the weak of heart! Honestly, I only kayak fish this section if the water generation patterns make it the only choice. With the exception of the water in JFK Park, Beech Island, and one other chute (commonly called “Old Cow Shoals”), the river here is deep and slow (on low water) and usually populated by many rental power-boats.

Cow Shoals > Winkley Shoal, aka Barnett Access or Swinging Bridge (4.5 miles)

The stairs at Cow Shoals Access are much more manageable in the morning to begin the day, and are much easier to go DOWN with a kayak! This is a great section to float. There are slow deep runs, intermediate depth runs (perfect for drift fishing) and wadeable shoals. John’s Pocket and Ritchey Shoal are two totally different places on the same river. Jon’s Pocket is nice and simple with pea gravel, while Ritchie has ankle twisting, round, slick, bowling ball sized boulders. Both shoals fish well and offer completely different types of water separated by about a mile of deep and intermediate runs. The take -out on this float is also known as Swinging Bridge and Barnett Access. 118 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured kayak destination

Winkley Shoal > Lobo Landing (7 miles)

This section probably offers the most diverse water on the river. There are numerous wading spots, starting with Winkley Shoals. This area is accessed fairly heavily by wade fisherman and can be tricky to navigate in a kayak on any water level. Personally, I’ve always paddled through it as quickly as possible, mainly because the areas just below these shoals are some of the most difficult for others to access. If water levels are low, power-boats have to work way too hard to get there from down river. Winkley Shoal itself isn't navigable on low water by power-boats, even those with jetdrive outboards. In low water conditions the area between Winkley Shoals and Scronchers Shoal is as low traffic an area as you can find on the Little Red. There are numerous shoals to wade, nice holes to look for lunkers in, and some fun kayaking water. Once past Scroncher Shoal, kayakers will find some nice drift water. These areas that are 3-5 feet deep and have some current are where larger fish will usually hold. After a long straight away and passing over Moss Dam Shoal, soon the river makes an abrupt left turn when it reaches the bottom of Libby Bluff. There is a public walk in access (Libby Access) that is located 300 yards downstream just past the turn, but if taking a kayak out at Cow Shoals is challenging, Libby Access is twice the task. It is far easier to paddle out through the deeper slower water from Libby Access to a proper boat ramp at Lobo Landing. 120 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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featured kayak destination

Lobo Landing > Dripping Springs (5.5 miles)

This section starts with deep water. There are a couple of small shallow flats between Lobo Landing and Mossy Shoal, but for the most part it is deep (slow in low water). This area holds a lot of bigger fish, but they don't get big without being a little smarter. Once to Little Dunham Shoal, anglers will be in a special regulation area all the way through Mossy Shoal. Be sure to read the details on all the special regulation areas. Mossy Shoal is a great wade fishing area, but below the shoal all the way to Dripping Springs lies some of the best drift fishing areas on the river. Rainbow Island, the only inhabitable island in the river, and Horse Shoe Bend are the two areas here with some special features and more challenging fishing scenarios. High water in this section can be very dangerous. 122 l Southern Kayak Fishing

Dripping Springs > Ramsey Access (7.5 miles)

This is the longest section of the river to paddle one way on. If conditions are favorable, kayakers can put in at Dripping Springs and paddle a couple of miles up or down and get back easily enough as long as the water doesn't rise 6 feet “suddenly”. This area is where the maps stop giving shoals individual names, but guides in the area have common names for them such as Bear Cave, Damn Good Shoal, One Dock, and Stabbin Cabin Shoal. The shoals and the drift water fish very well if conditions are right, but that’s where the trick to fishing the lower river comes into play. If recent rainfalls have been heavy, and there is little generation, you can expect to be fishing in chocolate milk colored water. Also, remember the “general” rule in tail-water fishing. Take the amount of time it takes for generation to reach a given area, then you can triple it for the amount of time it will take to fall out after generation ceases. Many times the river level doesn’t have time to drop all the way before a new wave of water gets there. So, sometimes this section isn't the best choice, but when it’s on, it’s really on. Less than halfway down toward Ramsey Access, Big Creek flows into the river. This is a warm water creek that is lined with big Cypress trees. The Little Red does not have any Cypress trees above Big Creek, but the rest of the river, from the confluence down stream, is covered in them. In early fall, they produce some of the best colors on the river. This is also the least populated section of the river. While there is plenty of wildlife along the other parts of the river, kayakers will usually see more wildlife in this section. When fishing this section, concentrate on the upper sections and plan on paddling out the last quarter of it. The upper ¾ of this section fishes far better on average.

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featured kayak destination

Ramsey Access > Monaghan-Womack Access (3.3 miles) There is a newer section now available to float from Ramsey Access down to Monaghan-Womack Access, a relatively new ramp installed by the Arkansas Game and Fish in 2012 at the HWY 305 Bridge. Anglers will sacrifice numbers of fish in this zone, but there are very good quality fish located here. Early spring is the best time to fish this section. 124 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Stand Up Kayak Fishing Tips

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here’s a revolution going on in fishing kayaks and it’s all about standing up in the boat. This article will cover everything you need to know about the art of standing in a kayak.

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There are several reasons that you may want to stand in your kayak while fishing. FIrst and foremost is to improve your ability to find fish. Sight fishing for Reds and other species is exponentially easier while standing. The angle of your vision into the water is greatly improved with a higher sight angle. Along with sight fishing, you may want to stand to get a better view of where you want to head in the marsh, to look for a way into that back pond that you hear the Reds crushing bait in, and even to give your bottom and your back a break during a long day on the water. Standing in a kayak has so many advantages for the angler, but you’ll need to work on your skills to be successful. Your football or basketball coach taught you in high school that spreading your feet and keeping your knees bent make you more stable and powerful. This concept is very important when standing in a kayak. Your head should be up and your eyes scanning the marsh ahead of you. Keep in mind that your paddle is your biggest external stabilizer while standing. Hold the blade of the paddle with one hand and the shaft with the other. Brace off the bottom if the water is shallow or use a sculling stroke for stability in deeper water. You’ll find that if you paddle is engaged with the water or the bottom, you’ll feel much more stable. Bring your kayak to

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a local pond (leave your fishing gear at home) to practice this skill. You will be amazed how much better you will feel after only an hour of practice. If you go back to the pond several more times, you’ll be feeling great liding across the water in your new standing position. Like anything else, having the right tools helps tremendously, and in this case having the right boat can make all the difference. A kayak designed for stand up fishing has several very important design characteristics. First off, the kayak should have enough width. I prefer to have 30 inches or more of width. The floor of the kayak should be flat and wide. This allows you to comfortably stand and to spread your feet as wide as possible. Lastly, the bottom hull of the boat

April 2015

should be flat or even better, have a tunnel hull design. For interior marsh fishing I love the Native Ultimate kayak. It’s the most stable and comfortable boat you can imagine for stand up kayak fishing. If you also like to fish waters with more chop or surf, I like the Jackson Cuda and the Wilderness Systems Ride. These provide self draining scupper holes that allow water to escape the cockpit without bailing. If you like the idea of a pedal drive boat that’s stand up capable, check out the new Hobie Pro Angler 12. It’s got a tricked out new seat that adjusts up and down vertically to make it much easier to get up and down. There’s no bigger thrill in kayak fishing than standing and poling while sight casting for big fish in shallow water. Committing to having the right kayak and then practicing your standing skills until it’s second nature will make all the difference for your effectiveness in shallow water situations.

©PackPadde Lafayette, La

www.packpaddle.com

April 2015

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Kayaking for CarpIt’s NOT Your Grandfather’s Carp Fishing

P

ursuing carp with a fly rod is no longer the weirdo distant cousin of “proper” fly fishing that it used to be, which is to say that the guy behind the counter at the local fly shop likely won’t escort you to the door when you inquire about his selection of carp flies. This “trash” fish has

By Ty Goodwin

than to see why all the fuss. This of course results in a severe shock to the system for more than a few of these poor souls. Even a highly experienced fly fisher, accustomed to more or less having his way with other freshwater species like trout and bass, can be quickly roughed up by

a highly specialized set of angling skill sets, most of which revolve around the ideas of stealth and stalking. Carp are extremely wary and highly intelligent. They are quick to perceive a potential threat and even quicker to flee from that threat. Getting close enough to

Carp are extremely wary and highly intelligent. of late garnered more than a fair amount of interest in the mainstream fly fishing community, becoming downright popular in some circles. Even Orvis carries carp flies these days. If you can imagine. So it follows that many anglers have at least tried this carp-on-the-fly deal if for no other reason 134 l Southern Kayak Fishing

a flat of tailing carp. A first encounter with these fish often morphs rapidly into a stark lesson in humility. As a friend recently put it after suffering through a particularly brutal session on the mud flats - Carpin’ ain’t easy. The truth is that the pursuit of these brutes with the long rod requires

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one to hazard a cast is by itself no small achievement. And that’s exactly why small craft like kayaks and canoes are ideal for this brand of angling. Handled properly, these boats are stealth machines, tailor-made for slinking around mud flats or quietly cruising river banks for tailing carp. I have chased

these fish for the better part of a decade from a wide variety of watercraft and have yet to find anything better. These small boats simply excel in this environment. There are any number of reasons for this, just about all of which point back to a couple of basic

traits common to them maneuverability and, well, general sneakiness. A canoe or kayak can, for example, take you to where the carp are. These fish are frequently found in marshy backwaters, muddy flats and other shallow areas where larger boats can’t

go. Wading such places can be out of the question given the often soft, gooey consistency of the underlying substrate. In fact, a kayak can sometimes be the only option for reaching the fish. I recently spent a few days on an excellent carp fishery in Ohio, fishing from

Stopping quickly and quietly is imperative if the angler is to make the cast. April 2015

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the bow of my friend’s 17 ft. skiff. This particular lake is lousy with carp and we quickly found several large shallow areas teeming with tailers. The problem was that we could only access about half of these vast mud flats - much of the water was simply too skinny for the skiff. We could see big brown tails waving tantalizingly above the surface in the furthest corners of these places, unreachable and completely off limits to us. Ultimately we saw and caught plenty of carp on that trip, but I remember spending a lot of time thinking “Man, I sure wish I had my kayak.” Kayaks and canoes also require little effort to propel compared to larger craft. The lightest of paddle strokes will easily slide a kayak forward at a decent clip, whereas moving a big boat around is by necessity a clunkier, more heavy-handed business. The other side of this coin is that the small boats, once moving, are also easier to stop. These are crucial bits of maneuverability when it comes to carp angling. Carp can seemingly appear out of nowhere in the dingy water they 136 l Southern Kayak Fishing

frequently inhabit and even the most observant angler can suddenly find himself floating within a rod’s length of a previously unseen fish. Stopping quickly and quietly is imperative if the angler is to make the cast.

“...a low profile is crucial when approaching shallow carp...” Kayaks allow that. The message here is that large boats are far more likely to tip the carp off to the angler’s presence. The angler can compensate for this to some degree by simply keeping his distance and making longer casts. This however creates another problem – longer casts mean sacrificing some measure of accuracy, and carp angling nearly always requires extremely accurate casting. As a rule carp won’t chase prey down aggressively, so the fly fisher is usually forced to land his offering softly a few inches in front of the

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carp to induce a take. This can be a dicey proposition on longer casts. Making an accurate 40 ft. cast to a point no larger than a cup saucer just off the nose of the biggest fish you’ve ever seen in your life, your knees knocking and the wind blowing in hard on your casting shoulder and your fishing partner whispering behind you “Don’t screw it up, man!” can be, um, challenging. And by the by, carp often don’t allow you the luxury of a mulligan if you miss, so you better hit that target the first time. Kayaks and canoes mostly solve these issues. As noted earlier I can, and often do, get within a rod length or two of tailing carp in my kayak. It’s much easier to put that fly on the carp’s nose from 20 feet than 40 feet regardless of conditions. It’s a pretty simple formula – the closer you are, the more accurate your cast will likely be and the more carp you’ll catch. Another major advantage of small boats is the low profile they present. Carp, like most fish, are well aware that trouble is likely to come

from above. I have often witnessed entire flats of feeding carp erupt in panic as the shadow of a bird passing overhead fell on the water. They are keenly aware of their surroundings and highly sensitive to movements above the surface. Accordingly, a low

profile is crucial when approaching shallow carp in order to stay clear of the fish’s field of vision. An angler sitting low to the water in a small boat is in a far better place to do this than an angler positioned high above the surface. In short, carp are difficult and any angler

April 2015

crazy enough to pursue them should give himself every possible advantage if he’s to be successful. Kayaks and canoes tip the odds in your favor and can be the difference between success and failure. At the very least, these boats will get you in the game.

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And speaking of tipping the odds in your favor, here are additional few tips to increase your chances when chasing carp: **Noise-proof your boat. Success with carp on the fly begins before you even leave the house. Stow loose items so they don’t roll around in the bottom of your boat. Use carpet or foam padding as flooring to dampen sound. Wrap the stem of your paddle in foam as well. Carp are easily spooked by noise and one mistake, like bumping your paddle against the boat, can empty an entire flat in seconds. **Move slowly. Think glacial.Be patient and take your time. You’ll be stealthier and you’ll spook fewer fish. **Paddle carefully. Sloppy, splashy paddle strokes will alert every carp within a hundred feet of your presence. Again, move slowly. Paddle with a soft touch. **Keep your rod ready and available to cast at moment’s notice. I like to be in a position to drop my paddle in my lap and immediately pick up the rod to fire off a cast. As mentioned before, unseen carp can materialize suddenly and you have a very small window of opportunity for a cast. Be ready. **Seven and eight weight rods are about right for most scenarios. A reel with a quality disc drag is a must. Click and pawl reels usually don’t fare well against the blistering runs of a determined carp. Long flourocarbon leaders – 10ft. or even longer – in the 0x to 2x range are standard fare for carp angling. **Fly selection will depend on the carp’s natural forage in your particular lake or river. Carp can be as selective as even the mostpicky trout. Woolly buggers, San Juan worms, crawfish patterns, nymphs and soft-hackles are all good bets. Don’t be afraid to downsize your equipment if conditions require it. When fishing the Great Lakes in Michigan, I use a 9 weight rod, heavy 1x leaders and large crawfish flies. The carp up there can easily be over 20 lbs. and the big artillery is a must. By contrast, I frequently fish a small lake in Georgia where the carp average around 3 lbs and feed mainly on aquatic insects. My standard set up for that water is a 5 weight, 4x leaders and small soft hackle flies. Different environment. Different equipment. Despite what the purists might say, carp are a premier freshwater gamefish. They challenge your angling skill and push your gear to its limits like no trout or bass ever could. Kayaks and canoes can provide a definite advantage for carp anglers. And trust me, you’ll need every advantage you can get when pursuing these terrific 138 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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fish.

(For more information about fly fishing for carp, be sure to visit the author’s web site -http://www.carpaficionado.com/) April 2015

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Quickie Kayak Fishing Gear Review

I

n our never-ending quest to find and use really cool stuff for our fishing kayaks, we knew we needed to address a pressing need of all kayak anglers: Some stuff we take fishing with us just doesn’t need to get wet, and we need a way to keep certain gear dry. Over the years we’ve spent kayak fishing, we’ve ruined cell phones, cameras, car door entry devices… we’ve soaked lots of stuff that isn’t supposed to get wet. We’ve tried boxes, bags- lots of different things- to try and keep stuff dry while on a fishing kayak. Most worked- sort of and for a little while, but nothing has been totally acceptable at keeping dry stuff dry. We think we may have found a solution.

Lightweight Drysacks by Sea to Summit

show great promise of actually doing what we kayak anglers need them to do. Lightweight Dry Sacks come in a wide range of size- from little tiny minibags of 4 inches by 9 inches to big old maxi-bags of 12 inches by 27 inches. Kayak anglers can squash these bags into spots where ordinary dry bags won’t go. The bags fit into corners of kayaks where hard-sided boxes or bags just won’t fit. Made from a high performance waterproof fabric, the bags have a white inner laminate layer to make finding small objects placed in the bag for dry storage much easier. There are fully taped seams with Hypalon stiffened roll-top closure and D-ring attachment point at the buckle. They appear to be very well-made.

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Now, the makers of Lightweight Dry Sacks are very upfront about the fact that these bags are NOT designed to protect objects that are totally submerged. They recommend that stuff that must be dry-cameras, cell phones, and other electronic gear- be double bagged. This seems reasonable, and given the low price of these bags, double-bagging seems pretty good insurance against water damage. Sea to Summit does a good job of providing simple, detailed direction on how to properly roll and seal the bags to achieve optimum protection for the gear inside. This is a cool-looking product that we plan to try out on some upcoming potentially very wet fishing trips. Contact Information: Lightweight Dry Sacks Sea to Summit 303-440-8977 info@seatosummit.com

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Quickie Kayak Fishing Gear Review

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T

he Release Reels SG is a very impressive piece of equipment for kayak anglers who plan on going after strong inshore game fish such as bull redfish, king mackerel, stripers, and any other fish which is just too much to handle on most reels. By the way- the SG stands for “small game”, but this reel is serious business. With a high speed retrieve of 6:1 gear ratios, this all-metal reel moves 38 inches of line with each turn of the handle which can come in very handy when lures or baits need to be moved in a hurry. For smooth operation, ceramic and stainless steel bearings are used throughout the reel. Carbon washers in the specially designed proprietary drag provide a non-grab give when a big fish insists on going the other way. The drag system is impressive. Even the power-handle feels good and non-abrasive in use over the course of a day’s fishing. The reel is built with an open, easy to access form, and it is easy to get a thumb on the spool to apply extra non-drag pressure on a big hard-running fish.

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And one of the most impressive elements of the Release SG Conventional Lever Drag Reel- it’s 100% designed, machined and assembled in Virginia. A lifetime warranty with a $20 shipping and handling fee means that if something should happen to this reel, the angler gets the reel fixed and back in business soon at little expense. The reel mounts very solidly to the rod with both the screw-mount system which comes on most rods, but it also has a bolt-on plate which absolutely assures the kayak angler that this reel is not coming off the rod or even slipping, no matter how long and strong the fish on the line fights. For kayak anglers who want a reliable, strong, well-built reel for some heavy duty work, it’s hard to find a better choice out there than the Release Reels SG- this reel is a keeper. To contact the Release Reel folks: Release Reels, 804-453-3095, releasereels@gmail.com 1026 Jessie Dupont Memorial Highway Burgess, Virginia www.releasereels.com April 2015

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Now You’re Here‌Where Do You Fish? STEVE MOORE

You jumped out of bed at oh-dark-thirty, choked down hot, black coffee and jumped in the truck for the long drive to a new spot. Excited upon arrival, you dump your kayak into the river and take a few aggressive paddles to move sharply out into the current. Then it hits you...

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Grab Google Earth from www.Google.com/earth, load and open. If this is the first time, open the layers on the left, click on “Borders and Labels,” “Places,” and “Roads.” Adding these to the map makes it easier to orient. Move the picture to a point of interest by dragging or typing in the name of the location in the search box. Zoom in and click on the toolbar’s timeline icon to pop open a slider showing the range of satellite images available. Everything looks the same. Should you fish river left or river right? After all, you fully understand the saying “10% of the water holds 90% of the fish.” Where is that magic 10%? The dilemma is even worse for inshore anglers who face haphazardly scattered mangrove islands or miles of nondescript spartina grass “shoreline” since their opportunities change with the tide. Rather than randomly casting, a little photo analysis removes unsettling uncertainty. Relax, you do not need skills equal to the best of the CIA. Thanks to Google, the job is easy.

Let’s look at a few examples using imagery to determine where to fish. In the first example, the plan is to fish the Upper Potomac River and you will have to make a decision to follow the channel to the north or south 1.5 miles upstream of the takeout at Point of Rocks, MD. Visually, there is no difference.

Google provides two free applications every angler should know how to use. Most are familiar with the satellite view and driving directions provided by Google Maps, but fewer understand how to leverage the greater capabilities of the full Google Earth application. Simply stated, the satellite view in Google Maps only shows the most recent picture. If it was taken on a cloudy day or during high water, it will not be helpful. Google Earth supplies satellite imagery stretching back to the early 90s with resolution and quality that almost lets you see individual fish.

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North on left, south on right – no visible clues April 2015

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A quick look at the most current satellite picture in Google Maps is not informative. Both channels look the same with a touch more brown, implying shallower water, showing on the southern channel.

First, evaluate the flow to avoid having to drag your kayak. If the water level will be low on the day of your trip, following the northern channel is the better choice since the dark color translates to deeper water (water.weather.gov has predictive level readings). Second, grab the GPS coordinates for the very visible, fishable ledges to guide your day on the river.

Upper Potomac, Point of Rocks most recent satellite image – May, 2013 Rolling back the timeline in Google Earth shows the river at different water levels with the most structure being visible in the October 2006 image. Even though this is not the maximum zoom, the fishable ledges and holes jump out.

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To view coordinates for a spot, click on the pushpin icon and, when it appears on the image, move it to the feature of interest and note the latitude and longitude in the accompanying dialog box.

If you want, export all as a KML file. The Garmin Basemap application will import a KML directly for subsequent download to your GPS.

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Alternatively, download the free GPSBabel application (gpsbabel.org) to do the conversion necessary to convert the KML to a GPX file you can plop into your receiver without the intervening step.

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Just how good is the zoom? Let’s look at the confluence of the Rappahannock and the Rapidan rivers in Virginia, a well-known smallmouth bass hotspot. Compare the knowledge gained from the overhead perspective versus the view at ground level in the inset.

Fish the northern bank. Target the large deep hole in the center of the image For inshore anglers, the satellite image is critical given the influence of tide on fish behavior and the need to understand the meandering geography of coastal creeks. Here is a low tide image of a back bay off the intercoastal waterway showing where the deep channels are, where the larger creeks feed into the bay and the location of the lakes that will fill up at high tide. Using this, identify the likely ambush positions redfish and speckled trout will use on unsuspecting baitfish.

Select the clearest satellite image and zoom to identify potential fishing hot spots. It’s easy to see the good holes and chart a tentative path through the convoluted braids of the confluence – an important advantage to augment a good guidebook if running a river for the first time. In another example, a quick look at this image of the Rappahannock adjacent to the Motts Run kayak ramp outside of Fredericksburg, VA would save you from wasting time fishing the southern bank (inset picture). If all you knew was what was visible, you would not know about the great spots on the other side of the grass beds since they look like the edge of the far shore.

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Coastal creeks can be confusing and it is easy to get lost. By viewing the image, like this one centered on the Gator Hole Country Store put-in on Town Creek near Southport NC, you can see the layout of the side channels and plan your attack. By knowing how the channels connect, you can determine the direction of the tide to better position your kayak to match the push of bait towards waiting predators.

Google Maps is good, but not good enough. Google Earth builds on a fantastic historical database of satellite imagery to provide the needed edge to overcome inexperience with new water. Take a printout with you or, even better, dump the interesting spots to a GPS and fish with confidence.

Steve Moore is a regular contributor to Southern Trout Magazine where he writes the “New Fly Guy” advice column for those new to the addiction of fly fishing. His books on where to fish in Maryland and Virginia include detailed guides to the Upper Potomac, North Branch of the Potomac, Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. All are available on Amazon.

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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.


The Call of Paddleboard Fishing By Jared Leroy

Editor’s Note- In the interest of bringing information about all of the many kinds of paddle craft for fishing, we’d like to present this article to our readers. Now then, this paddleboard fishing sounds like something an editor I know very well might need to look into. 158 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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You Only Live Once! T

his has become more than just a saying in our family, it has become a lifestyle. We try to live every day to the fullest. We consider time on the water with friends and family doing just that. We've recently incorporated our love for the water and family time. We bought and converted an old school bus into our "Paddle Wagon". We set it up to comfortably sleep our family of four with the ability to carry all of our boards and gear to wherever the fish are biting. One of our favorite parts about paddle boarding is the obvious health benefits. Paddling uses your entire core, arms, legs and back. You're out burning fat while having a blast. We love bringing the family out on the water just to paddle around and get exercise. It's a perfect opportunity to enjoy family time and disconnect from the world. Our daughters, 3 and 7, love getting on the boards with us and they have even competed in some Louisiana fishing tournaments. They are both comfortable walking all around the board while out on the water. Yes, they wear life PFD's, we also wear PFD's, always. Our passion for fishing on "paddle craft" started with your typical run of the mill sit inside kayaks. Those have now joined the stack of unused kayaks that have led us up to Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards. We've acquired Ascends, Jackson's, Kajun Customs, Wilderness systems and even Hobies leading up to our love for SUP fishing. All of these boats had plenty to offer us, just not as much as the Yolo fisher.

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The Yolo Fisher is the perfect fishing platform for us. At 12 feet long and 35 inches wide, roughly the same dimensions as the average fishing kayak, but weighing only 35 pounds, it is one of the lightest fishing paddle crafts on the market. The stability of the fisher is crazy! We fish all day, rain or shine, and never feel uncomfortable. There are tons of benefits of standing while fishing. Including better visibility while sight fishing, stronger hook sets, the ability to cast in any direction, and mostly just the comfort of standing while fishing. They are an awesome platform for fly fishing. Paddle boards can be fished as simple or complex as you'd like, with the simplicity of a single rod to the complexity of using the multiple RAM mounting options that are strategically placed around the yolo board. Our preferred setup is one rod mount up front for quick access and two on the back for separate rods. There's a spot mid board to mount an ice chest of your choice, which doubles as your seat when you need a break.

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Many people doubt the stability of paddleboards until they see first hand what they are capable of, like winning the worlds largest kayak fishing tournament in 2014, Ride The Bull. Yolo board fishing ambassador Kalley LeRoy beat out 732 anglers with a 26 pound redfish! Seeing a girl on a paddleboard reeling in a fish that size gave proof to many onlookers of just how stable these boards are. It's fun to see the looks on peoples' faces when we come paddling up after a rough day, it's even better seeing their faces after they find out they got out fished by a "big surfboard". And to think we were out burning calories while they were burning gas! 164 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Is it Fair? .. Paddle Powered vs Pedal Powered kayaks T he great kayak debate is what I like to call it. Paddle powered kayaks vs pedal powered kayaks in tournament situations, is it fair? I have heard many arguments on both sides of the fence about this issue. Paddlers claiming that the pedalers hold an unfair advantage, pedalers holding fast to the opinion that it is an equal playing field for everyone.

The reasons anglers choose one or the other range from the type of water they frequent all the way to physical limitations. I am a paddler and choose to fish from a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 , but I have a lot of friends that use a pedal powered kayak of some kind. Traveling to tournaments around the southern region of the country, I have seen no evidence that one type of kayak dominates the podium on the competitive scene. Both kinds of boats have their pros and cons, this article will take a hard look at both. 166 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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by Jeff Malott

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Speed

Maneuverability

Shallow Water

I have been a part of many shotgun starts and it is hard to argue that a pedal powered kayak can get the jump out of the gate on some paddle powered vessels and maintain speed over the long haul. But I will go to the top end of this attribute to make a comparison. Kayaks built for speed like the Tarpon 160 from Wilderness Systems can outrun any pedal powered vessel in a race to the honey hole. So if speed is a concern, paddlers can actually get an edge here if they are willing to invest in a boat built with speed in mind.

The sheer weight and width of most pedal kayaks put them behind the paddlers in this category.

Without going into great detail here, paddlers win. Paddle powered yaks are lighter and can cut through areas with literally only inches of water to float on. The drive systems and weight of pedal boats make this difficult.

Advantage: Even

Wind/Open Water Wind can be a real issue for the kayak angler. Many times the best fishing spot is in an open water area exposed to some significant wind. Pedal kayaks can point their boat straight into the wind and use their legs to maintain position without ever missing a cast. Holding position on deep structure in open water is much easier in a pedal powered yak. Paddlers can do some things to combat this (anchoring, drift socks, drag chains, etc..) but will still get pushed around. Advantage: Pedal

This is one of the main reasons I choose to be a paddler. Ask most kayak anglers and they will tell you getting into shallow, tight, hard to reach spots is one of the coolest things about fishing from a kayak. I have taken my Ride 135 into some sketchy spots with no trouble. If fishing rivers and streams, the ability to turn and/ or correct position is essential, it is hard to do that in the boats with a pedal drive system. There have been advancements with the rudder set up on some pedal kayaks, but I still think the paddler has an advantage here. Advantage: Paddle

Stability What makes the pedal yaks less maneuverable (weight and width) makes them super stable. I have seen guys jump up and down in anger and excitement in their pedal boat without falling out. Paddle powered vessels like my Ride 135 are no slouch in this category. At 6'3" with long skinny legs I am not built for standing in a kayak, but I can do it with no issue in my boat. Still, the pedalers win this one.

Advantage: Paddle

Fishability Fishability is a made up term I guess. Rigging options, comfort, stability, speed, and storage all play into this attribute. Today's fishing kayaks, both paddle and pedal powered, come out of the box with some great options for kayak fisherman. Rod holders, track systems, electronic mounts, dry storage, all come standard on most manufacturers angler package kayak. The advancement in seating options makes a day on the water so much more comfortable in both types of boats, my new AirPro Max seat literally added hours to my fishing day. Rigging options for both types of boats are almost endless, I see creative ways to add options to a fishing kayak pop up on social media everyday. Being hands free certainly gives pedalers more casts per day, but this is offset by the paddlers ability to get into areas that others can't.

Overall Advantage: Even Looking at the big picture I think the argument is a wash. Fishing kayaks come in all shapes and sizes, anglers should choose their boat based on personal preference. I am a paddler and prefer that type of boat, but everyone has the right to choose for themself. The bottom line is no matter what type of kayak you have, it will not put fish in the boat for you. Map study, research, and above all practice on the water is what wins tournaments.

Advantage: Even

Advantage: Pedal

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The Lower Illinois River near Gore, Oklahoma has always been a hot spot for Oklahoma and Arkansas anglers and is growing in popularity, for good reason. This unique fishery is the only place in Oklahoma that you can go trout fishing with a fly rod or spinning tackle and catch some quality trout, then put the trout gear away and start striper fishing without leaving the body of water you are on. The trout fishing is moderate at best during the summer months but the reason I mention the trout fishing is because trout are an important food source for the stripers and the same conditions that make this a year round trout fishery are the same conditions that make it a world class striper fishery during summer months. Kayak anglers in particular are able to access some worldclass big-game freshwater fishing on the Lower Illinois River.

Kayaking for Summer Striper on the Lower Illinois River in Oklahoma By the Rusty Hook Fishing Guide Service

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The Lower Illinois River is a tailwater fishery below Tenkiller Lake near Gore, Oklahoma, and what makes this river different from other tailwater fisheries in Oklahoma is the depth, clarity and temperature of the water in Tenkiller Lake near the dam. Depths of 125 feet and greater keep the water near the bottom of the lake cold year round. The water that releases from the dam into the river remains in the upper 50’s to lower 60’s even in the middle of the summer heat. This causes the striped bass activity to really heat up during the summer months. The hotter it is outside, the more fish come up the Lower Illinois to escape the rising water temperature in the Arkansas River, which the Lower Illinois flows into.

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How and When to find the Daytime Stripers The striper fishing really kicks into gear on a daily basis when the dam generators kick on and flows reach 2000 to 4000 cubic feet per second (cfs). However, flows approaching 4000 cfs do make it difficult to hold your anchored position or to control your kayak while drifting so look for back eddies and current breaks to anchor up in during high flow. The Micro Anchor by Power Pole is a great tool to use during these conditions. but if you don’t have the six hundred dollars to cover the price tag, use a heavy drag chain or a heavy round anchor that will not get hung in the rocks and can be freed easily especially in case of an emergency. There are good opportunities for striper fishing when there is very little flow as well but this require special tactics, which I will discuss later.

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The best two places to look for stripers during generation are close to the banks and in deep holes. This holds true because the fish are seeking refuge from the heavy current. The water flowing near the bottom of deeper holes is actually moving much slower than the water near the surface and fish can be targeted with heavily weighted natural baits or artificial lures such as heavy jigs or swim baits. The water near the banks is also slower than mid river and the fish like to hang in that slack water near the current seam between the slow and fast moving water. Also look for log jams, lay downs and brush in the river, all of which make great current breaks and ambush spots for the striper. Use your kayak’s mobility to find and fish spots that other anglers can’t reach.

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The best place to find fish during periods when there is no generation is obviously in the deeper holes. When the generators are on, the fish will wander a bit to find baitfish and set up in good ambush areas. However, when the water starts falling after generation in the evenings, the water will drop as much as six feet from peak generation to the lowest flow so the fish will make their way back to the deeper holes and remain there through the night and into the next day until the generators kick on again, which is usually around midafternoon. This brings me to the next consideration which is the difference between fishing during the day vs fishing at night.

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Nighttime Striper Fishing The fishing for stripers at night can be some of the best fishing you will experience on the lower Illinois River. The water is usually very clear on the Lower Illinois River and the stripers will be very reluctant to take artificial lures during the day just like largemouth in clear water. However, using shallow running jerk baits, swim baits and top waters can be very productive at night. Nighttime on a tailwater river can be extremely dangerous though, so remember to pay very close attention to generation schedules and consider lake conditions as well. Make sure there has not been any recent heavy rains which would cause the Army Corps of Engineers to release any water at night. Get to know the river, have a cell phone and a GPS map with you and know where you are at all times in relation to safe areas if you need to make a quick move to escape heavy currents.

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How to Rig and Fish for these Striped Rockets Daytime fishing can be very productive as well when the water is flowing heavy due to power generation as I previously discussed. However, early in the morning during the summer, odds are there will be very little flow because the water is usually not released from the dam until later in the afternoon. The stripers can be caught when there is no flow, but it is nearly impossible to do so on artificial lures. The one exception to this rule though is fly fishing with large baitfish patterns and heavy weight fly rods. One of the best days I ever had on the Lower Illinois River produced twenty-nine 5-10 pound stripers on an 8 wt fly rod‌what a blast! Bait fishing for the stripers is by far the most effective method for catching the stripers during the day with low water conditions and low flow. If you have the means to

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catch and keep shad they work very well by free lining them in the deep holes. Using trout as bait is also one of the local techniques for catching BIG striper and is one of the few things that will consistently fool the big boys. Trout can be used as bait legally in Oklahoma, but you cannot have more trout with you for bait than your daily limit, which is six. Cut trout and especially trout heads can be very effective as well because striper have a very developed sense of smell and the oils and blood that are released from the cut trout really attract the striper. I’m not a big fan of catching a trout and cutting it up to use for bait, but if you want to catch and keep a limit of trout to eat one day make sure to save the heads and even the tail sections to use as striper bait during morning and midday hours. The Lower Illinois

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River is a very unique and sometimes very tricky river to fish but with some of the tips provided in this article I hope your learning curve will be greatly reduced. Be sure to use quality heavy tackle and fresh line for your trips as some of the striper in the river can obtain monstrous sizes. Make sure you have a sealed change of clothes with you even when fishing in the summer out here because if you take a spill in the 60 degree water you may want to get warm and dry quickly. Definitely remember to check the generation schedules and always keep safety your main priority while on this tailwater with drastically fluctuating water flows. If you would like more info on fishing the Lower Illinois please view my sites at www.rustyhookfishing.com or www.flyfishoklahoma. com

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The MultiBoat Float Fishing Isn’t ALWAYS a Solitary Pastime

By Dan Sharley

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T

he river was full. An overflowing cavalcade of kayaks and canoes and Jon boats and rubber rafts and church groups with slapping paddles and weekend anglers flinging Little Cleo’s and Trout Magnets and smoking cigarettes and drinking Bud Light and occasionally blaring gangsta rap or Marshall Tucker from a boom box perched upon a tackle box or cooler within their respective watercraft. Whether by paddle, motor or current, they migrated drunkenly downstream amidst submerged fields of grass that waved just as drunkenly in the steady current. Beneath the din, the clear and shockingly-cold river was filled with trout, which I suspected were as new to the river as many of the people who floated above them. They were active, maybe a little stupid at times and very willing to reveal exactly where they were and what they were doing. And, so were the trout. Among the flotillas, we convoyed our own. Dave’s drifter employed Woodski and Allen, while the Rev. Jim and Skiff Boy argued over who would first take to the oars of the former’s Gheenoe. Barry floated along in a borrowed red kayak, and I squeezed out some space among an abundance of gear in my butt-numbing orange AquaLung SOT. While the first two boats allowed for a convenient floatand-fish approach, Barry and I planned to “shoal hop” by paddling through deeper stretches and jumping out of the yaks when wadeable water presented itself. It was a grand plan, but the icy water caused us to abandon the strategy in order to scramble back in the kayaks to warm our frozen feet. It’s fun getting old. The first three miles of the float were pretty much a conga line of fishermen and weekend paddlers. We’d wait behind groups of boats in order to fish normally productive stretches that were now much less productive as a result of the pressure (and the noise) the fish had just endured. Seemingly always in the distance behind us, we’d hear the cackle of laughter and the dull thumps of paddles hitting plastic as another armada of boats made their way downstream and into our water. We’d let ‘em play through, then resume the game.

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Just a couple of miles into the float, I managed to do something amazingly stupid. While floating and fishing a promising run, I tossed out my kayak anchor in order to slow my drift. There was a fair amount of current, but the river bottom was a snagfree section of rounded river rock. Or, so I thought. At first, the anchor merely bounded along the substrate, allowing me to better manage my float and to nymph my way through some trouty-looking seams. Things went really well for about 50 yards until my anchor suddenly found purchase and imbedded into a submerged log. The anchor rope tightened, and my kayak spun sharply and hung at a sharp angle to the current.

It also tilted starboard, and I began to panic. I frantically back-paddled, but the push of the water proved to be a little more than I anticipated. Making matters worse, a bevy of kayaks and canoes rounded the corner upstream, giving me an audience for my imbecility. I could not simply use the anchor rope to pull me back to the stuck anchor, as the kayak would have taken on water and possibly/probably capsized. So, I paddled. And paddled. Four attempts to get above the anchor proved fruitless, as the current continued to push me sideways. Eventually, with shoulders burning and sunscreen-infused sweat blinding my eyes, I got upstream enough to pull the anchor free. 182 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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After gathering the rope, I exhaustedly drifted to the edge of the river to rest. Conveniently, the spot I picked was also the home of a mink. It emerged from its burrow, angrily scolded me and nearly boarded my kayak. Great. That’s all I needed: a near drowning, followed by a mauling at the claws of a small brown mammal best known for its ability to make comfortable stoles. I paddled back into the current and drifted to a rodent-less section of the river bank. The anchoring episode was an idiotic maneuver, and one I knew much better to avoid. Thankfully, the river wasn’t at generation-level, or I would’ve been in trouble. Wet, at best; dead, at worst. April 2015

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Regrouping, I tied a hopper-dropper combo on my 5-weight, and took a swig from a bottle of lukewarm water. Barry was performing a similar operation about 200 yards downstream from me. Just beyond both of us, a swarm of swallows swirled above a tantalizing riffle, betraying a massive midge hatch. But, both of us were patiently waiting out the passing of an equally massive hatch of plastic watercraft, as 16 boats carrying at least twice as many people merrily — and loudly — made their way past us. They were all having fun, and at least at this point of the morning, doing so in a very innocent and sober way. We waved and watched them pass. Resuming the float, Barry and I continued to hook up with smallish rainbow trout, as Skiff Boy and the Reverend did the same. We guessed the other guys were having similar luck aboard Dave’s drifter, which had rowed ahead of our three boats. Eventually, all of us convened at a floating lunch spot, as our desired location on a nearby gravel bar had been claimed by the 16-boat 184 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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fleet. Our boats anchored and tethered midstream, we bobbed in modest current, and knocked back a brew or two and ate sandwiches of similar nature procured from April 2015

dissimilar coolers. A jar containing a questionable concoction of equally questionable origin was passed around to those of us non-clergymen willing

to throw caution to the southwesterly wind, which swayed the tops of the oaks, sycamores and elms that lined the nearby banks of the clear, cold river and

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bottom and made our way through the next stretch of water.

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The stream was certainly alive, as we continued to hook plucky trout and observe various insect hatches. Midges were consistently emerging, but so were occasional rushes of small caddis and mayflies. Rises became more pronounced and frequent, and about three miles from the put-in, we encountered a distinct change in the species we landed. Just about every fish caught was a brown trout. And, almost all of them were the same, smallish size. We suspected a recent donation from the fish hatchery, and we silently thanked the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for their contribution to our angling excellence. This little tailrace presents the best and worst of a float. On the positive side, once you’ve either outrun or lagged far behind the abundance of weekenders, you pretty much have the river to yourself. You become part of the scenery, as nature — birds and fish and even small furry rodents — ignores you as you quietly float by. In the past, the middle section of this float could be a bit of a struggle, as the flow used to slow to a crawl and fish stockings didn’t quite reach the middle miles, resulting in a slow slog through largely trout-less waters. Things have changed a bit now, as trout seem to be more frequently caught in the middle miles, and the Corps of Engineers have dialed up a more float-friendly push of water. There are a few caveats. First off, it’s a loooooooooong float. Secondly, while large trout are certainly in there, the river is much more known for seasonal stockings of cookie-cutter rainbows, brooks and browns. Lastly, the foamy residue from the runoff of nearby watercress fields is often dumped into the river, which contributes to huge blooms of underwater grass and occasionally soaks the atmosphere with the smell of fetid breath. But, the pros outweigh the cons, and on a trip like this one, it’s often more about the fellowship than the fishing.

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After bouncing through a scenic riffle, we passed under an old iron and wood bridge and noticed two men in olive and forestgreen garb standing in the middle of the kneedeep river. Barry and I negotiated the final section of the shoal (both of us getting temporarily stuck on a gravel bar in front of our new friends), then cruised to the shallows where we procured fishing licenses and showed off our life preservers at the requests of two responsible members of the TWRA. I was reprimanded for not having my inflatable jacket on at the time, which I quickly snapped on and wore for the remainder of the float. The officers were amiable and appreciative and admitted that they had been busy all day. They also confirmed what we thought: a few thousand brown trout had recently been introduced to the river. This was the first time I’d ever been checked on this river by the TWRA, but I was so glad to see them there. For a group severely tested by the 188 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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lack of resources, they do a fantastic job and are always welcomed by my fellow anglers and me. There is a lot of good on the rivers and lakes of Tennessee, but there’s also a good amount of bad. Kudos to those trying to police the waterways that we hold so sacred. I just wish there were more of them to help.

I was exhausted, and I smelled of watercress fields, fish, sunscreen and sweat. My butt cheeks were completely numb, their nerves smashed beyond immediate repair by the torture of sitting in a kayak for 10 hours. Barry and I loaded our kayaks into the back of my truck, and we headed home in the fading light.

We tipped our hats to the guys in green and paddled our way toward the falling sun, which now peeked out among the trees and conceded an apricot glow to the river. Along the way, I hooked up on my big fish of the day — a colorful, 16-inch brown trout, which felt like a 10 pounder compared to the miniature versions I had been landing all afternoon. Barry and continued to leapfrog Dave and the guys, but the five of us continued to catch fish until we reached the take out spot. Rev. Jim and Skiff Boy welcomed us ashore, and we stowed kayaks and boats and gear and drove back to the dam. There, we took a few photos and congratulated each other for a very successful float.

The Great Multi-Boat Float of 2014 is now burned into memory, but the clarity of what occurred will soon fade with retellings of stories from the trip. The tale of the mink encounter will morph into a brush with a rabid bobcat, the 16-inch brown will grow to 24, and the anchor incident will be retold as if Somali pirates had boarded me. None of that will matter, as the discussion will quickly turn to when we can get together to do this again.

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Small Waters - Big Cats by Glen Flowers

Editor’s Note- For you kayak anglers who are looking for a challenge and a big thrill, we’d like to offer the following article for your attention. Our buddy Glen Flowers uses his kayak to boldly go where no angler has gone before, to explore strange new places… Well, you get the idea. This is pretty intense stuff.

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Several years ago I decided to try landing a big catfish from my kayak, something I had yet to do. I first began my research to find rivers that were inaccessible by boat, especially the very northern ends of these Florida rivers. Areas where boats have not been able to reach, leaving the catfish virtually untouched and never having seen a hook before. The stretch of river I located was only accessible by foot. A small dirt road ended far from the river requiring me to drag my kayak to the water by hand. The river was blocked by the north and south by log jams, so I knew for sure nobody had been up there skinning cats. At this point I have already scouted these areas out several times using Google Earth. I had picked out an oxbow about a one mile paddle north from my launch location. Going north makes things easy on the way back after a night of fishing. After reaching my location I beached my kayak and set up on a small sand bar facing down river. Driving in a few PVC rod holders that I brought along, I set up a four rod spread casting into the depths of the dark hole. The area I’m focusing on is a bend in the river full of fallen timber with a slough that dies off in the woods that gives cats a feeding area. Keep in mind it’s early spring and the time is late afternoon. As I’m baiting my hooks, the sun is setting and the cats are starting to move. In a bait bucket I have brought along fifteen live bluegills for bait. On any other night fishing out of the boat I would have brought many more baits. But tonight, I’m looking for one big fish. I bait the first rod up and send him on his way. The bluegill lands just at the head of some floating timber. The second bait lands just feet away from the first. The third bait lands directly in the middle of the hole, while the fourth bait lands just at the head of the hole. With all rods out now it’s a waiting game. 192 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Within ten minutes the first rod goes down and after a good struggle, I have a twelve pound flathead in my grasp. Overwhelmed that my idea had worked, I couldn’t wait to get this fish back in the water, re-bait and wait for another. After a quick measurement and photograph I send him on his way. Before I could get the other line baited, my first rod starts screaming, I scramble to set the hook and the fight’s on again. This time the fish feels much larger even hanging me up a few times. I clear the fish of the snags and finally get her to shore. Weighing in at forty-one pounds, it’s the trophy I was looking for. Already the night is a success, but I’m not done just yet. Shaking and rattled with two rods down, I just lay this fish in the kayak to get the other rods baited and back out. After the chaos has settled, the big fish is weighed and released. After rebaiting, I wait quietly for another take down. Sitting in the dark way up river by myself can be a little uneasy. But the way the fish are biting, I’m up for the challenge. Watching my glow tips, I notice the distinct smack of my rod getting hit. I ease up and before I could grab the rod, it doubles over. I set the hook and it’s fish on! It’s another big flathead screaming line down river. Once again the fish makes it to my grasp, and it’s another good flathead. The fish weighs in just over thirty-five pounds and forty-two inches long. Some quick photos, and I put the fish back in the water to fight another day. Then I pack up and head in for the night. After a quick paddle down river and a hike through the woods dragging my kayak, I’m back in my truck headed home with a sense of accomplishment. Over the course of a year I traveled many stretches of these remote rivers unreachable by motor boat. In a single year I caught dozens of nice flatheads with fifteen fish weighing over thirty-five pounds and two over forty pounds. All were caught using rod and reel and reaching these locations by kayak alone.

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Gear and Tackle

When To Start Hunting When the waters starts to warm and spring sets in, the flatheads begin to fire up in full force. Spring time offers some of the finest cat-fishing of the year. Most flatheads will have started migrating north by this time. They travel far up rivers in places where most anglers never fish. Some of these small rivers that harbor flatheads reachable by kayak are Perdido River, Yellow River, Shoal River, Blackwater, Cold Water as well as the Ochlocknee River. There are other big system’s like Escambia River that have flatheads, but we will focus on these smaller rivers that get less pressure.

Baits for Spring Cats Live bait is the key to successfully catching flatheads. Bluegills and bullheads are my go-to baits. A dozen or more will be good for a few hours on the river. Pile your baits into a live bait bucket and you are good to go. 194 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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If you plan on fishing from the yak it may be difficult dealing with such heavy lines and snags. Trying to break your leader from the kayak can sometimes be a real chore- sometimes nearly flipping you over. Bank fishing will be your best option. Finding just the right bank to set up on is going to be the ticket. Bass tackle is not meant for catfishing,so leave that stuff in the garage. Get you some heavy duty rod and reels. Large Abu Garcia 6500 and 7000s are perfect for dealing with the heaviest of cats. Load your reels with heavy braid, preferably 150 pound and up. You don’t need a lot of casting yards, but you do need brute force to stop these freight trains. Your terminal tackle setup is a basic slip lead rig; depending on the current 3-5 oz. flat sinkers should be plenty of weight. Below, use a 2/0 swivel tie on a 50-60 lb. mono leader. The lighter leader will allow the hook to break away when snagged, giving your weight, swivel and bead back. When fishing for flatheads there is no better hook than a 6/0-8/0 King kahle. They are simply the best hook on the market for flatheads. You can find them online from catfish tackle dealers like Bottom Dwellers.com. The rods I like are from Catfish Connection called American Spirit night sticks medium heavy 7”6. They are stout, well priced and have a fast tip for live bait fishing.

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Finding Locations

year after year are the same fish that have grown even bigger since the last time I caught them. I know this from very distinct scars some fish have from spawning. It’s a good feeling catching a fish you caught the year before and this time he’s five pounds bigger.

The internet is your friend and best weapon in finding locations accessible for hunting flatheads from kayak. Google Earth takes hundreds of man hours of scouting away and simplifies the whole experience. If you plan on doing some catfishing from your kayak I would suggest getting a good set of rod holders. Big cats can rip rods right out of cheap plastic holders that generally come with kayaks. A good strong set of rod holders like Monster Rod Holders will get the job done and then some. When fishing from your kayak, two rods should be more than plenty to deal.

If you plan on fishing alone like I do, make sure to have some good safety equipment. Always wear your flotation device when navigating on the river at night. A good head light is a must to see your way in the dark being that most of your cat fishing will take place at night. Night time is the right time for catching big trophy flatheads.

Most of the rivers you will be targeting are small; they are the north ends of larger rivers that gradually shrink as they make their way north. It’s very important to put these large flatheads back so you can catch them again in the future. Many of the cats I catch

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Never ever leave home without the OFF insect repellent; if you do, the mosquitoes will carry you off. Never in all my years on the river have I ever been bitten by a snake or spider, yet these are things that scare people the most. Being in a kayak at night way up a secluded river somewhere is something most would never attempt, but it is necessary to get the job done. April 2015 l Southern Kayak Fishing l 197


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Springtime Crappie A Fishing From Kayaks By Alex Grandpere

ngling from a kayak presents a few challenges, which is most likely why we kayak anglers like it so much. Since your space is very limited, outfitting your kayak with the proper gear for each fishing scenario is extremely important. After you’re rigged and ready with the right gear and the boat is in the water, the challenges begin. What is the wind or current doing out there? What are the fish doing? What is the most effective way to maximize your chances of a great day fishing while minimizing your physical effort? Nobody wants to paddle in circles and continually adjust boat position. While adjustments will always exist to a certain point, unless you are fishing with an anchor down, maintaining a better drift longer is the key to covering lots of water and catching more fish

W

hen the cold of winter starts to leave, we kayak anglers in the South are treated to one of the best freshwater fisheries possible. Spring is when those flat-sided, speckled fish- call them crappie, speckled perch, sac a lait, papermouths- they go by many names here in the South- offer us kayak angler some great fishing. When we gather up a mess of them, we have some good eating. Although not many kayak anglers specifically target crappie when compared to kayakers who go after bass, bream, trout, and other freshwater game fish, our kayaks can be some of the best crappie-catching tools possible. It takes just a little rigging and gearing up to have the best crappie-fishing ‘yak possible.

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Kayak Rigging for Crappie Like any other fishing, crappie fishing depends almost totally on locating the fish before we can do much about catching them. Crappie will always be found in schools, and the schools of crappie can be very, very picky about where and what depth they are holding at on any particular day. When it comes to locating crappie, kayak anglers need to be able to offer the maximum number of lures or live bait to locate the depth and specific place on the lake or river where we’re fishing. Not to put too fine a point on it, kayak crappie chasers will find fish much faster by having more than one line out at a time. Since we only have two hands, we’re limited to having two hand-held rods in action at one time. When we have to paddle our kayak, we can have zero hands holding rods. This is a big problem for a kayak angler looking for crappie. This is where good, well-made rod holders come in to play. When a kayak angler has multiple rods with baits presented at all times, the chances are much better that a school of crappie will be located much quicker. I have seen crappie-rigged kayaks which had rod holders set up in “spider rigs” around the cockpit. These spider rigs can hold up to six rods at a time, and a good kayak handler can cover a lot of water and prospect for crappie very efficiently. Most kayak anglers looking for crappie don’t have such a custom-made rig, but we can usually do quite well with only two or three lines out as we troll for open water crappie. Another problem with the spider rigs is that if the wind and water conditions are contrary, some monumental multi-line tangles can occur when using a lot of rigs on a kayak. Although some good crappie-chasers can manage six lines well, I can manage three rods at most, and I’m truly happier with two rigs in rod holders at one time. With my basic two-rod set up, I have a long eleven-foot crappie pole in a rod-holder up front, and I have a short, ultra-light spinning rig that I use to cast and troll on the other side of my kayak. This set-up gives me a separation of almost fifteen feet between the rigs, and I can usually manage to keep the lines apart no matter what the wind and water conditions are. 202 l Southern Kayak Fishing

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Early Spring Crappie Fishing

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Kayak anglers will want to start their spring crappie chasing early- even before winter totally leaves. In Florida and other parts of the Deep South, this may be January or even earlier. Middle South regions will probably see late January and February as best open water crappie trolling time. Upper South areas may see March as best pre-spawn open water kayak fishing conditions. This early spring/late winter fishing is mostly done in deep water in the main bodies of lakes and rivers, and it is mostly slow-trolling for suspended crappie. Open-water slow-trolling is a situation where peddle kayaks are at their best. Peddling leaves both hands free to handle rods or steer the boat in windy conditions. Traditional paddle ‘yaks can work just fine in open water trolling, but peddle ‘yaks are certainly easier to handle to follow schools of crappie. Captain Brad Whitehead (256-483-0834 or bradwhiteheadfishing@aol.com) is a fishing guide on Lake Pickwick and Lake Wilson in Northwest Alabama, and he specializes in crappie fishing. He offers us kayak anglers some good advice. Captain Brad says,” In early, early spring you’ll want to try mostly in the dead center of larger creeks which run into the lake or river. Try the largest creek mouth on the lake or river. An electronic fish finder mounted on the kayak makes it much easier, and a good unit with a color monitor can make actually locating the fish a lot quicker.” Captain Brad continues,” The crappie will be holding in open water. They will be following schools of shad, and that’s what you will want to look for. The shad will show up on the screen as a ball, and the crappie will be right there with them.” In late winter/early spring, most kayak crappie anglers will be fishing live minnows, and using a double hook rig doubles the chances of getting some good slab crappie into the kayak. Once schools of crappie are located, either by using electronic gear or by simply paddling and prospecting along the creek channels, kayak anglers can often switch to small jigs and spinners to catch a good mess of crappie. January April 2015 2015l lSouthern SouthernKayak KayakFishing Fishing l l205 205


Crappie Fishing During the Spawn Later in the spring, when the water temperatures reach the magic 60 degree mark, the crappie will leave the deeper open water and head to the shoreline and backwaters to actually do their spawning business. This is the time and place that our kayaks really shine when it comes to catching crappie. Crappie, depending on the specific lake or river they live in, can spawn in some pretty shallow and brushy and rough places. Many times, other kinds of boats just can’t get close to spawning fish. However, we kayakers with our four-inch draft and maneuverability can get close, and we can access some prime crappie fishing that not many other folks can. Captain Brad Whitehead says,” Around early March or April- this will vary depending on how far north or south your fishing water is located- look on the shorelines for crappie starting to bed up. They usually don’t go too far from where you caught them in winter and early spring. The males will go first and find some kind of structure in the water and they’ll start to make a bed on the bottom. Usually within two weeks, the bigger females will show up for spawning. If you’re fishing a shallow lake or river, the crappie can be spawning in very shallow water- water clarity and depth determine just where the crappie beds will be.” Again, as when fishing for crappie in open water early in the season, when one is caught, others will be close. Crappie tend to spawn in concentrated groups, and they can be in very tight areas. Although crappie will use just about any kind of underwater structure- docks, rocks, logs- I have had great success fishing around and close under willow trees which overhang the water. For whatever reason, I have found crappie to be very fond of willow tree cover, and when I fish a new lake or river for crappie, that’s the first kind of shoreline cover I look for. Also, when a good bed of spawning crappie is located, remember the place and the time and water temperature. Next year, the crappie will back in the same place in similar conditions. Crappie tend to be very easy to pattern once they are located. Our kayaks with the quietness and ease of moving in shallow, cluttered water are the perfect fishing craft for springtime spawning crappie. We can tie-off to a limb, use a pole or just drift to maintain our best fishing position. This kind of fishing is where the long, long crappie special poles really shine. We can many times just swing the lures- small jigs are heard to beat- and drop them silently into the shallow water and watch for the line to move as we gently lift and drop the jigs in the crappie water. When a big two-pound crappie takes a kayak angler’s jig in shallow water, it can be whole lot of fun to get her back into the boat. And of course, when the fishing is done and the fish are cleaned, there’s nothing much better for a fish fry than some fresh crappie fillets.

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Southern Kayak Issue 2  
Southern Kayak Issue 2