KAYAK FISHING

SUP: The New Wave in Fishing Watercraft

Friday, April 4th, 2014

KAYAK-FLY-FISHING

Ok, I was a kayaker. I used to kayak fish at every opportunity I had to target saltwater game from Southern California to the Gulf of Mexico. I found that the kayak helped me when fishing redfish in super skinny water or sneaking up on laid up Tarpon in the mangroves. The kayak got me into places I would have never been able to fish with a skiff. However, I was bitten by the Board bug 30 years ago…

I recall 30 years ago taking my 10 foot long board out into the kelp beds off San Diego and fishing for yellowtail (West Coast version of an Amberjack) with the fly rod. What stands out most about those early surfboard adventures is how stealth fishing from a surfboard could be. I had the ability to quietly paddle into to a school of feeding yellowtail and present my fly without spooking a single fish.

The only disadvantage to the surfboard was not being able to stand up to get a better vantage point on the fish. I thought how great it would be to have a board that would lend itself to standing instead of sitting.

The old Wind Surf Board

My next board was an old windsurf board. Wide bodies and stable, it was the perfect fishing platform for my kelp bed adventures. I could stand tall and see fish much better, however, it was not made for quick paddling, weighing close to 40 pounds, it was close to imposable to push it through the water at a good clip with my home made paddle made out of two plastic boat oars weird together and duct taped at the middle. I made some very memorable fishing journeys with my “old windsurfer” but soon I realized I need a better fishing craft.

The Kayak Years

I thought I had found the perfect fishing water craft in the Kayak. Like my boards, I could load the kayak onto my truck racks, I could launch it anywhere and unlike my windsurfer, it paddled like a dream! My kayak accompanied me up and down the West coast and deep into Baja California chasing everything from trout to roosterfish, marlin to tuna! There was no body of water or fish, big or small, I could not catch on my Kayak. What more could a fisherman want?

Well? How about a SUP?

I’ve been known to change my mind. On the issue of the perfect water craft? Well, I’ve changed my mind. Yep, I have found the perfect fishing watercraft after all these years. The fishing SUP is the new wave of the fishing water craft future. They are a far cry from what I use to fish off of in my “long board” and ‘”Windsurfer” days. Today’s SUPs are ultra stable, well tracking and set up with the fisherman in mind. I can now head out on a fishing adventure with a Yeti cooler strapped to my board that acts as a seat, a rod rack that doubles as a stripping basket and more tie downs for dry/tackle bags then I would ever need. These wonderful crafts can take me into inches of water to chase tailing redfish or explore the near shore waters on the West Coast searching for yellowtail, white seas bass and Bonito.

Boy, water craft has come a long way in the past 30 years! I’m sure glad I’ve been along for the ride…I mean the paddle!

My Choice of SUP: Bote Ahab

Kayak Fishing Check list

Friday, April 4th, 2014

KAYAK-FISHING-CHECKLIST

Before you start your kayak fishing adventure, be sure you have the proper kayak fishing safety equipment. At some point, even the most seasoned kayakers can count on getting wet so it’s important to be prepared. Every kayak angler needs to wear a PFD (personal flotation device). When choosing a vest, be sure it is comfortable. (That way you will actually wear it.) The pros recommend choosing a vest with a mesh lower back panel designed to work comfortably with even the highest-backed kayak seats.

Choose a vest with plenty of front pockets for holding gear and a place for your knife. Next, be sure to protect your body from the elements, such as cool water temperatures and sun exposure, with immersion ready clothing, UV protective clothes, and sunscreen. Pack food and water to keep hydrated and energized.

Next, include a VHF radio to reach the Coast Guard should things (notably, you) go south. Place your cell phone in a dry bag. Pack a small medical kit, pliers, and a tow rope. Accidents happen when you least expect it, so think safety first. Last, don’t forget your paddle, seat, rods, gaff, net, sabiki rig, rods, tackle, leashes, bait tank, battery, and fishfinder.

It takes patience figuring out how to best organize such a limited space with these “must haves” and as soon as you get it figured out, you will think of something new to bring next time.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Taking standard soft plastic shrimp and turning them into killers is well within your control. Take for example, the standard Rip Tide or DOA soft plastic shrimp. These shrimp come out of the package with the perfect shape/outline, but when a little make-up is applied, you have a really dressed up and perfect looking shrimp that will fool the old man that typically ignores most artificial offerings. I have said this before in different articles, but the most basic of all fishing concepts is getting (whatever you are fishing for) to put your bait or lure in it’s mouth long enough for you to set the hook. It’s a simple theory, but true. I have seen many fish come behind the bait and then for some reason flare away, not to be seen again. This was because of one of more reasons. It didn’t look, smell, act or sound right. Even with live bait, if your hook is too large, tag ends too long, big mono leader and/or swivel too large—something made it not right, so it did not get into its mouth, and you did not get to set the hook.

These days, with my limited time, relentless weather, cost of fuel, etc., I am spending much more time in the backwaters where this shrimp really comes into play. I have been introduced into the rapidly advancing world of kayak and electric powered watercraft for fishing the backwaters. I never knew anything like today’s kayaks existed until a couple years ago when I fished from a Hobie (peddle powered) kayak. With almost effortless footwork, you can power ahead with stability and surprising speed. Then I experienced the Freedom Marine Twin Troller—Boy, what a wake-up call! Talk about hands free fishing. That’s all I’ll say about the ever-changing world of (skinny) watercraft. That’s how you get there, this is how you catch them.
Back to the shrimp. I said all that, to say this: Everything eats a shrimp. If you have limited room for rods (like from a kayak), I would have just two rods, one with a float (popping and/or sliding), and one without a float with this shrimp.

To give this natural color #47 (Rip Tide) shrimp the ultimate look, color the eyes, and not the entire stem, (black or red) with Spike-It coloring and a Q-Tip. Next, dip just the very edge of the tail Chartreuse, or use a Q-Tip if the liquid level is low in the bottle. This coloring visually turns this into a perfect white shrimp. Now address the smell of the shrimp. I like the shrimp flavored PRO-CURE gel. There are others but I have a certain degree of confidence with PRO-CURE. With the smell just right, they kept the bait in their mouth long enough for you to set the hook. Now let’s address the action of the shrimp and how it swims. I have run out of room (words) for this article, but you can watch the full-length video of the entire process on the website titled “Trickin’ Out The Shrimp” in the How-To section. In this video, I will address the look, smell, act and sound in detail. April is no foolin’.

Take Me to the Water: Safely Transporting Your Kayaks

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

transporting-a-kayak
While performance on the water is the ultimate factor when choosing the perfect kayak, being able to get it to the launch and into the water without incident is almost as important.
How you transport your kayak has almost as much to do with the vehicle as it does the boat. You probably would not to try to put a Pro Angler on top of a Civic, transversely you probably do not need a trailer to haul a single average size fishing kayak.

Here are a couple of different options when determining the most efficient way to get your yak to the water.

The roof top carrier is the most common way that kayaks are moved from home to the launch. A sedan will require a roof rack with cross bars to be installed, while most SUV’s come with some type of factory rack. Some SUV racks are quite serviceable as is, but many kayak fishing anglers choose to upgrade to some of the great racks available from Yakima or Thule. Once you decide on the racks, it is time to select the best seating to combine with your choice to provide the ultimate in ease and safety while transporting your boat. Your options can be as simple as a set of rack pads or as elaborate as the Thule Hullavator which actually lifts and secures your kayak to the roof. If you prefer to put your baby in a cradle, you will find quality options from Yakima, Thule and Malone in a wide variety of price points. Once the kayak is on the roof, you need to strap it down. Use both front and rear kayak straps (available at your local kayak dealer) avoid using bungees, as they can pop loose and cause a disaster. When traveling long distances, you may want to use additional tie-downs tethered to the front and rear undercarriage of your vehicle.

kayak-trailer

The Pickup is the vehicle of choice for many serious kayak anglers. Not only does it offer a multitude of ways to carry multiple boats, but it makes loading a lot easier, as you only have to pop the boat up to about waist level before pushing it into the desired position. A plastic bed liner makes this especially easy and prevents scrapping when combined with roto-molded kayaks. A bed extender is another key accessory to improve your Pickup as a kayak hauler. Personally, I like the T-Bone by Boondox. It is light weight aluminum and powder coated to prevent rust. The extender plugs right into the trailer hitch and is especially useful with the Hobie PA’s, as well as, some of the larger Jackson kayaks. Attach a strap to the boat’s front handle and the truck bed’s front U-Bolt, secure the rear of the kayak to the T-Bone and you are good to go. Remember to tie a flag onto the rear of the kayak for safety and add a locking pin to protect your investment.

For anglers that need to consistently transport multiple kayaks of have one of the jumbo crossover boats, a trailer may be the way to go. There are some sweet models made by Trailex and Yakima, while most local trailer shops will fabricate custom trailers capable of towing an entire fleet. If you are mechanically inclined, unlike the author, you can repurpose an old Jet Ski trailer into a very nice kayak hauler.

There is no perfect way to transport your kayak. I hope this helps you chose an option that is best suited for you.

Pedal On!

Fish Early, Fish Late

Monday, July 1st, 2013
PHOTO: DAVID MCCLEAF

PHOTO: DAVID MCCLEAF

Well, summer is in full swing and it’s time to fish. You ask yourself, what is the best way to maximize my time on the water? My tried and true plan is to schedule trips so they start just before sun up or during the last couple of hours before sundown. While it is possible to catch fish, especially those in shallow water, during the middle of the day, I have found it a lot more productive to start or end in the dark. Fishing the low light periods of the day also lends itself to working topwater plugs, which is my favorite style of fishing no matter what species I am targeting. Unless you are reef fishing, most fish find it hard to resist a surface plug, once the water temperatures start to climb. Whether you are hunting redfish and snook on the shallow water flats or searching for largemouth bass on your favorite lake, it is best to target them before the day really heats up. Fish are a lot more like us than you think and look for any shade or deep drop-offs they can find to stay out of the blazing midday sun. Like us, they like to get out and do our outdoor activities before the blazing sun kicks up. Most fish will be out at day break feeding only to retreat back into heavy cover once the sun is high in the sky. They will remain in the shade until the sun starts to fall back away at the end of the day. If you have no choice but to fish during the heat of the day, make sure that you target areas that provide plenty of cover as the fish are looking to stay cool just like you. During midday a lot of guides like to throw live or cut bait into the shaded areas where the fish seek refuge. This method can prove to be quite productive and interesting as you are usually trying to wrestle your catch out of its hiding spot without breaking it off.

Two of the most important things for anglers are to make sure that you are properly hydrated and your skin is protected from the sun. Make sure you take plenty of water with you. I like to freeze a couple of bottles of H2O and let them thaw as I fish. This will help cool you down, as well as keep you hydrated. Protection from the sun is not to be taken lightly as skin cancer is no joke. Rather than lathering my whole body up with sunscreen I prefer to wear technical clothing with SPF as well as a hat and bluff for my neck and face. I use a high quality sun screen made by Sol that has no perfumes and doesn’t burn your eyes when you sweat.

Summer is also a great time to take your kayak to the beach for a little fishing. Not only are there some great species to chase but, after you are done, you can beach the kayak and cool off with a swim.

Pedal on!

The Crossover

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

offshorekayakfishing2

In its infancy, kayak fishing was all about lightweight stealthy paddle crafts that provided anglers with a fairly inexpensive alternative to a flats skiff or bass boat. Many participated in the sport of kayak fishing while they saved their pennies to purchase the motorized version of the boat that best suited their style of fishing.

A funny thing happened as this niche form of fishing began to grow. More and more anglers began trading their gas-powered boats for those that are self-propelled. Many factors led to this trend; skyrocketing gas prices was the most prevalent reason, but crowded public boat ramps and ease and affordability of storage were also major factors. About a decade ago, as the paddle fishing community grew, manufacturers took notice and those basic kayaks that were originally modified by their owners began to come out of the factory as true fishing machines. This was also just about the same time that kayak anglers began to be treated to a multitude of kayak specific aftermarket accessories.

Not only did the kayak manufacturers, especially Hobie, look to add accessories to the standard sit-on-top kayak, they had the vision to build self propelled boats that actually served as replacements for their motorized counterparts.

offshorekayakfishing

Hobie’s Pro Angler series makes this a reality. The PA 14 and PA 12, featuring the Mirage Drive Pedal system have given anglers a self-propelled fishing machine capable of a multitude of uses in just about any fishing scenario. Whether you are targeting rockfish in Chesapeake Bay, hunting tarpon off the beaches in Florida, wrestling double digit Largemouth bass in Texas or poling the Carolina marshes searching for redfish, the Pro Angler has you covered. While you may not to be able to make a fifty mile run in a kayak, the versatility, affordability and ease of storage more than make up for the limited rage, although the Mirage Drive makes ten mile round trips a breeze. Not to mention that these boats have the flexibility of being able to launch from just about anywhere, a feature no gas powered boat possesses. With a set of the heavy duty plug in wheels, you will be able to roll your PA over almost any terrain and into a remote fishing location without that 50 mile run. Imagine no more waiting in line or worrying about getting a parking spot at the local boat ramp.

Many anglers often worried about comfort fishing from a kayak, but the new Vantage seating system provides the ultimate in comfort and lumbar support that will keep you on the water longer. The stability of the PA’s not only makes it easy to stand and sight-fish, but allows anglers to stretch their legs without having to head back towards land.

Finally, my favorite attribute of the PA is the Mirage Drive and the fact that it provides you with hands free fishing. A feature that even most of the slickest power boats cannot boast about. I always like to say that the more casts I make, the more fish I will catch and being hands free allows me to maximize the number of casts I make on every trip.

This is only one example of the major advancements in kayak fishing. It will be exciting to see what all the manufacturers have in store for the future.

Pedal on!

Why Kayak Fishing?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

By Tim Moore

KAYAK-FISHING

I told my wife I was planning to write an article about kayak fishing but I didn’t know specifically what I wanted to write about. I had spent days thinking about it. I couldn’t decide whether to write about fishing for a particular species, a particular style of fishing, or rigging a kayak. They were all good topics, but none of them really inspired me. One question provided me with enough answers for two articles: “What do you like most about kayak fishing?” she asked. “Catching fish,” was my smart aleck reply. It really all boils down to access, the water, and the fish.

I like fishing from a boat; I can fish places that I can’t fish from shore. I also like fishing from shore for the opposite reason. What about the places I can’t fish from either boat or shore, such as shallow water areas such as flats or tidal creeks? Have you ever fished from a bridge and wished you didn’t have to keep throwing your bait up current? I can position my kayak as far away or as close as I like to structures such as bridge and dock pilings. I can paddle into or through areas with only a foot or two of water, places you’d be crazy to bring most boats.

Sometimes shallow water areas are gateways to deeper tidal rivers that will hold flounder during all tides and my kayak is the best way in. Many tidal rivers and creeks are inaccessible by boat or on foot. Kayaks allow me to paddle along these creeks where flounder and striped bass are relatively unbothered by other anglers. I can also drift through tightly clustered mooring fields while flounder fishing without worrying about hitting other boats.

If striped bass are chasing bait toward shore then I try to mimic their prey with my lures. That’s tough to do when you’re in a boat; you’re forced to retrieve your lure in the opposite direction as the fleeing baitfish. In my kayak I can drift into shore and, presto, I’m shore fishing and retrieving my lure in the same direction as the fleeing baitfish. Then, just as quickly, I’m back out on the water. This makes me a more versatile fisherman and increases my odds of “hooking up.”

Access with a kayak is also much easier and cheaper than with a trailered boat. Not only can I use public boat launches, there are also tons of car top access sites in New Hampshire thanks in large part to the NH Fish & Game Department. I can find places to launch my kayaks for free at any tide. New Hampshire is not alone in this. Most states have a plethora of car top and public launches.

Every method has its time and place. Sometimes it’s better to fish from a boat and sometimes it’s better to fish from shore. What does one do when the shore is crowded and there is a lot of boat traffic? I’ll tell you what I do: I get in my kayak and get away from it all. Still, there is an aspect of kayak fishing that I can’t really explain. It’s calm and quiet. No motors, no exhaust fumes, just me and my gear—and hopefully some fish.

Tim Moore is a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, an Ice Team and Vexilar Pro, and owner of Seacoast Guide Service. You can contact him at Tim@SeacoastGuideService.com

IFA Kayak Tour Lands in South Louisiana

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

by Casey Brunning of F’in Crazy Kayak Team
LA-KAYAK-TOUR

The third weekend in May was a special weekend for south Louisiana in that it was the opening event for the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour, presented by Hobie. The event started the evening of May 18th with a captains meeting in Empire at Delta Marina and ended the evening of the 20th by paying out 13 places along with largest speckled trout and largest red fish, with cash awards ranging from $1,700 to $100.

This year there was a record breaking attendance for the tour with 67 participants and anglers traveling from as far away as south Texas and Florida. Anglers fished as far as the Grand Isle and some were rumored to have fished the panhandle of Florida, while others chose to launch right out of Delta Marina.

This was my first IFA Tour event to take part in and I was impressed by the class and character of the anglers present. It wasn’t your usual “everything is a secret” atmosphere but more like a giant family reunion, where no one remembers your name, but is real quick to offer a handshake and some advice. In years past, I have avoided the larger, more commercialized events in large part due to intimidation of not wanting to embarrass myself, but this IFA Tour is different.

IFA-Kayak-Tour
While most tournaments are the heaviest weight, the IFA Kayak Tour is a Catch, Photo, Release (CPR) format where anglers must photograph their catch (1 spec & 1 red) on a standardized measuring board with a specially made IFA Token. Anglers must submit their time stamped photo cards to the board at “weigh in” to be reviewed and results are based on a total aggregate length.

The results of the tour were scattered across the southeast with John Kay(TX) taking 1st overall and 1st largest redfish, Steve Neece(LA) 2nd, Casey Brunning(LA) 3rd, and Marty Mood(FL) largest Trout. If you fish out of a kayak and have ever even considered entering a kayak tournament, you need to enter the next event the IFA will be hosting in Louisiana, located at the Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle on August 25th. For more information regarding the IFA Tour Series, please visit http://www.ifatours.com

To Stakeout or Anchor your Kayak

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

KAYAK-FISHING

Much like the Power Pole has revolutionized the way powerboat anglers anchor, the stake out pole has given kayak anglers the ability to stop on the dime and stay put. During kayak fishing’s infancy the standard was a three-pound folding anchor that might or might not open after you dropped it. Although serviceable, it often led to anglers drifting over their targeted fish, especially if the wind picked up to more than a light breeze. While kayak fishing lends itself to being a simple low-tech way to pursue fish, yak anglers are quite ingenious when it comes to creating tools to help them maximize their ability to catch their targeted species.

When shallow water paddle fishing anglers found themselves blowing out too many fish, the cogs started churning and the quest for a better way to stay put was on. Some grabbed broom handles, others pulled the heads off golf club shafts and, in my case, I put the butt end of an old surf rod to good use. Some of the more Home Depot savvy anglers turned to PVC. They could customize their desired length and pick out the proper diameter to fit through the scupper holes of their Sit-On-Tops. Some of the more ingenious placed dowels inside the PVC and added fittings to make T-handles. Kayak accessories manufacturers took notice. Now several companies like Wang Anchors, Yak-Attack and Stick-It Pins make stakeout poles from quality materials that are built to last a lifetime.

Nat_John-Donohue-Column_1_2-pg

One of the main reasons that I prefer the pole to the traditional anchor is that it also serves as a brake. Whether you are on the flats stalking tailing fish or approaching a feeding frenzy, you want to be able to stop on the dime and keep yourself far enough back from your quarry as to not spook them. Here in Florida a lot of the flats are crystal clear and littered with sand holes. The game fish like to hunker down in the potholes and ambush bait as it comes through. Often, when you throw a conventional anchor, even if you manage to stop in time, sometimes the anchor will not stick and you will find yourself drifting over the potholes sending the residents scurrying. With the stakeout pole, once you drop the pole in your rear scupper hole, you will stop, stay put and get to the task of landing your trophy. Another nice use for the stakeout is that it gives you the ability to pole and make a stealthy crawl to put yourself in perfect position to make the perfect cast. The stakeout is also great for poling your way towards the fish you are targeting even from the seated position. The pole does not cast shadows like your paddle, just adding to your stealthy approach.

Some anglers still prefer using a traditional anchor in shallow water. If this is your preference, try to go with an upgrade anchor like the SeaClaw that will consistently stick and hold you in place. I also suggest adding a cleat to the side of your boat so you can tie off your anchor at the desired length. An anchor trolley system is a nice option to add so you can position the nose of your kayak to have a direct shot at your target.

As rapidly as the industry is growing, I can only imagine that which the future holds for anchor systems. I can’t wait to see what the tech geniuses come up with next.

Pedal On!

Kayak Angler, Meet Shark

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Isaac1

So you wanted to try your hand at Kayak Fishing? How about after witnessing pro Kayak Angler, Isaac Brumaghim’s close encounter with the jaws of life?

Fishing the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, Brumaghim was fighting a small tuna when a Galapagos Shark suddenly seized the opportunity to steal his catch. As you can see in the video, the shark lunges out of the water just feet from his kayak.

For most anglers, this encounter would be a brush with death. For Brumaghim, it’s just another day at the office. Brumaghim is sponsored by Penn and is also director of the diehard kayak angler organization, Aquahunters.

Release the Kracken

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Say Cheese: Taking Quality Photos from Your Kayak

Monday, March 25th, 2013

drip-redfish

As far as I can tell, there isn’t an Angler that does not love to show off their trophy catches. Over the last decade sharing your photos has become increasingly easier and an integral part of most fishing trips. In my experience, this trend has advanced quicker and been mastered by the kayak fishing community.

Online fishing forums kick started our desire to justify our fish stories. Not only was there a place for anglers to share information, but it also provided a bragging board for anglers of all skill levels. Paddle fishing forums brought no motor anglers together and help the sport explode into the mainstream. Digital cameras made it a snap to upload images onto our computers and saved everyone a fortune in film processing expenses. High-speed has made it possible to document your whole trip in pictures and have them ready to share in the blink of an eye. Social media sites like Facebook have taken photo sharing to levels most of us would have never imagined and kayak anglers are front and center. Now instead of exchanging stories with your buddies, they are being viewed worldwide.
While sharing photos is easier than ever before, there are some tricks to making sure you capture the best shot of your catch and maybe more important, protecting your equipment.

Experienced pros never seem to hesitate to take their high end DSLR cameras out in the yak, but one thing they know is how to protect their investment. Taking my cue from them, I will not trust my camera’s safety to anything less than a case made by Pelican. These boxes are super durable, lock watertight, have a padded interior and float. They come in just about every size imaginable. Whether you are carrying several DSLR bodies and lenses or just mid-priced point and shoot, you want to make sure you go home with your camera in the same shape you took it out in. The Pelicans are also a great place to store the rest of your valuables so they do not meet a watery death.

bad-snook

The majority of anglers, fishing out of a kayak, choose to use point and shoot cameras. Fortunately for us the versatility of these cameras has advanced as quickly as our sport. Now you can get a digital camera from $200 to $400, from one of the top manufacturers, that has the ability to dive as far as thirty feet, while also being shock proof and freeze proof. Even though these cameras are waterproof, it does not mean that they are corrosion proof. This is especially important if you fish in saltwater. I have found that the best way to rinse the salt off is to fill a bowl with fresh water and let the camera soak in it for about ten minutes and then dry it off with a clean towel. If you take care of your camera like you do your reels, it will provide peak performance for several years.

Kayaking truly lends itself to making solo journeys and this has always made it challenging to take photos to do justice to the great fish we catch. I started doing self-portraits once I purchased my first waterproof camera. Today’s cameras offer great timer and flash options, so with a little practice you will have photos ready to publish. The trick is to securely mount the camera so you can easily get the whole fish, as well as, yourself into the frame. After losing my first waterproof overboard, I learned two things, attach a hi-vis float to your camera and mount it for both safety and stability.
Personally, I use the Panfish Portrait mount from Yak Attack. This can be mounted directly onto your kayak or attached to their new Black Pak tackle box.

good-snook

Another trend in kayak photography is the use of an iPhone for capturing on the water images. If you choose to use your iPhone on the water, make sure it is well protected. Lifeproof makes a great waterproof case and they have just come out with a new handle bar mount that is perfect for mounting your iPhone to your stakeout pole. This set up provides the ultimate camera stabilization. On windy days a camera mounted on a kayak may lead to blurry shots when there is too much chop causing your boat to bounce up and down. This new set up will eliminate that problem. Master photographer, Sam Root, has a great video posted on SaltyShores.com that shows the proper way to set up this contraption. By adding the App 321 Camera Timer to your phone you will now have everything you need to get that amazing shot that includes you, your trophy and your kayak all in the same frame, the ultimate in one person photography. Don’t forget to smile!

Cocodrie, Louisiana—Kayak Fishing Paradise

Friday, March 1st, 2013

By John Williams

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The fishing, shrimping and crabbing village of Cocodrie is located where LA Highway 56 abruptly ends deep in the heart of Louisiana’s fabled saltwater marsh. Mention the word Cocodrie to any saltwater fish-chasing Louisiana native and you’ll likely get that faraway look of desire that comes from knowing that even in a marsh habitat as massive as Louisiana—this is one very special place to go fishing.

I had been watching the winds and weather closely for a couple of weeks, looking for the perfect day to take the two-and-one-half hour drive down Hwy 90, through the town of Houma, then “down the bayou” to Cocodrie. After what seemed like an endless drive through many miles of marshland, my friend Joe Vidrine and I finally pulled in to the huge parking lot at Coco Marina.

Joe and I had one thing in mind: To catch some of Cocodrie’s famous redfish on topwater lures from the seat of our kayaks. I had one rod rigged with my trusty black and chartreuse cocahoe and the other with a Super Spook Jr topwater plug in the clown color. Joe had rigged one rod with a buzzbait and the other with a black topwater popper in a half-ounce size.

Besides being home to a ridiculous number of redfish, one of the great things about Cocodrie is that you don’t have to paddle far to find fish. We were headed for a circuit I had in mind for that day. I felt this route would protect us from the southeast wind and give us a great shot at some reds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we paddled towards our circuit, I suddenly heard that unmistakably powerful sucking/smashing sound that is a dead giveaway for a redfish taking a baitfish off the top of the water. Let me tell you—this sound can make a shallow water fisherman absolutely weak in the knees. I quickly stood up in my kayak to see if I could spot where the redfish had hit the bait. No sign of rings on the water or bubbles was apparent, but now I knew that there were fish in the area—and that they were feeding on top.

Joe and I spread out and began working the grass lines. I alternated between my topwater and my plastics rod—waiting to see which would work more quickly. I scooted around a marsh point and pulled up against the leeward side of the grass in my kayak. I shot a cast out that dropped the topwater plug about a foot away from the grass and then began working the lure straight back towards me. I counted, “1 and 2 and 3 and 4,” as I walked the dog along the grass line to keep my retrieve steady and slow. About halfway back the lure was hammered by our first red of the day—a 23″ beauty with a unique donut shaped spot on its tail.

A lot of people have the opinion that a redfish won’t hit a topwater lure. They’ll say that a redfish has its mouth on the bottom—perfect for crabs and minnows—but they’re not made to strike on top. Believe me—there’s nothing that could be further from the truth! As Joe and I fished and the tide began to flow the redfish began to hit the top water lures with reckless abandon.
I watched as Joe threw his popper to the back of a cut. As the lure passed alongside a small tuft of marsh grass, a redfish dropped the hammer on it. The ensuing struggle resulted in a gleaming redfish that seemed like it absolutely glowed in the warm April sun.

A few minutes later, I saw a group of minnows come up out of the water in the middle of the marsh pond we were in. Knowing that there could be a hungry redfish in pursuit, I threw my Spook Jr in the area. As soon as I started walking the lure back towards my kayak, ka-boom! The redfish missed the lure (as they often will in shallow water). The key in these situations is to not set the hook, but rather to keep your dog walking or popping pattern going until the fish hooks themselves and you can feel a weight on the line. The redfish hit the bait three more times before finally hanging himself on the lure.

As we worked our way further up into the deep marsh, we came upon a shallow pond of really clear water. I threw a Baby 1 Minus crankbait way into the back of a pocket. As soon as the lure landed, I saw a wake headed towards it. The 32” redfish that was making this wake was clearly visible through the clear water. I began to crank the little topwater diver back towards the kayak. The redfish followed—fixated on the lure. As the Baby 1 Minus got closer to the kayak, I became worried about the fish spotting me. I stopped the lure and it came back to the surface. The redfish stopped and watched. After a few seconds I started cranking again. As soon as the lure twitched, the big red flared its gills and literally sucked the lure off the top of the water. It was an awesome display of the ferocity and force of nature.

The action kept up all day until we had to head back to Coco marina. With a little sunburn, some sore muscles and some great memories, Joe and I headed back up Hwy 56 towards home. This was one of those truly exceptional days that happen once in a lifetime—unless you happen to fish Cocodrie, Louisiana regularly. This place truly is Kayak Fishing Paradise.

Spring Fling

Friday, March 1st, 2013

kayak-fishing

Wow! Spring is finally upon us. Flowers are blooming, Spring Training bats are cracking and anglers are taking their kayaks out of storage and heading to the favorite honey holes. Life is good.
To help get you prepared for the kayak fishing spring frenzy, I have recruited several of my Hobie teammates to provide a brief overview of their springtime tactics that have made them some of the most successful kayak anglers in the country. This grouping of helpful hints is brief, so if you have a topic that you would like to see expanded on please do not hesitate to let us know.

Morgan Promnitz the Hobie Fishing Product Manager; provided this Southern California rundown:
Spring is upon us, the water is warming up, the fin bait is moving in, and so are the predators. White seabass spend a lot of time in our local kelp beds from late February through summer spawning and feeding on baitfish. They move around looking for schools of mackerel and sardines they can feast upon. The yellowtail are moving up higher in the water column making it a perfect time to dust off your jig stick and favorite surface irons. Look out in deeper water for roaming schools of fish and fire, crank, and hold on tight! Ever fished big weedless plastics over the kelp canopy for hungry calico bass? It’s a blast, and now’s the time to start trying it.

John “Chappy” Chapman, “enough said”, gives us a look in to how to make the best of your time in the Carolinas:
Our winter was fairly mild with freezes followed by quick warm ups. This means that the fish are all over the place and scattered and just as confused as we are. When the winter is mild and erratic, spring time means going back to the basics and using the tried and proven tactics of late summer. You can never go wrong working a soft plastic with a lot of action around the creek mouths when the water is rolling out. Then depending on the size of your jig head and the quickness of your retrieve will produce all three of the favorite game species. Slow roll it on the bottom and wait for that tell tale thump of a flounder or bring it through the water column and entice a trout or a spot tail. Lots of times you can find the trout in the creeks by trolling your plastics. If you’re into bait fishing then it won’t be long before a live mud minnow slowly dragged along the bottom will be lethal for both spot tail and flounder. Live shrimp under a popping cork will almost always produce a spot tail or trout this time of year.

2012 IFA Champion, Benton Parrott, fills us is on the way to succeed in Louisiana:
Watch the weather patterns for your style of fishing. With the heavy rains we have been having fish should be moving down from the rivers to their spring patterns. Throw top waters early and late in the day when the water temperature is above 60. If the water temperature is below 60 go to plastics and twitch baits and slow down your retrieve until you find what is working. Contrasting colors should work best in dirty or stained waters and natural colors for when you can find cleaner water. I like areas with deeper pockets near shallows that fish will congregate in. Finding bait is a must that is what the reds, speckled trout, and flounder will be keying in on.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Brad Kirn of Hobies Worlds Team gives a look at what it takes to land a trophy bucketmouth:
It is springtime and that means Post-Spawn largemouth bass fishing! During the post spawn, the bulk of largemouth bass, both male and female, will return to active feeding and will also be less particular in what they will eat. With that in mind, here are some tips that can make your time on the water more productive. Cover as much water as possible until you find the fish. Continue to vary the type, size, lure color, and presentation until a successful pattern is established. Match the Hatch. Most baitfish this time of year will be smaller, so try downsizing your lure.
As for lure selection, here are some that I consider must haves for shallow ponds/lakes of the South East during the post-spawn:
• Frogs (explosive action in heavy cover, try a Spro or Stanley Ribbit.)
• Poppers (a personal favorite; The Rebel Pop-R is a great choice).
• Jerk baits (both soft and hard plastic).
• Walk-the dog type top water. (Spook jr’s and skitterwalks cosistently produce).

Many other lures will catch fish this time of year including Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and a variety of plastic worm designs. But the bottom line is, use what works for you.

Your pal jd wants to let you know that spring fishing in the backwaters of Florida is all about transition. Snook, redfish and tarpon move out of the creeks and rivers ready to gorge themselves until they are ready to pop. These fish will be combing the flats consuming everything that gets in their path before heading out through the passes to spawn. The best way to target spring trophies is to locate the sizzle bait. This tiny bait will be on the surface and sizzling like bacon and we know everyone loves bacon. Game fish will lie beneath these pods of fry bait and aggressively chow down on an easy meal. My favorite way to entice these ravenous predators is to bomb long cast with a small topwater plug like the Spook jr. all around any bait you see bubbling on the surface. By walking the dog with my plug across the flats, I can quickly locate and entice my target species. If you have not used a topwater plug as search bait before give it a try, the results are explosive.

Pedal On!

A New Twist on the 5P’s

Friday, February 1st, 2013


When it comes to keeping my rods are reels in top working condition, I have adapted a slightly altered version of the old 5P’s adage. My version suggests that Proper Prevention Prevents Poor Performance.

As kayak anglers not only do we need to put together the perfect combo for our targeted species, but we also have to pay extra attention to how we transport and maintain our precious tools. The sheer fact that we travel so close to the water’s surface pretty much ensures that our gear is going to be prone to the elements far more than the tackle of our motorized angling brethren. This is especially true for those of us that do the majority of our fishing in saltwater. Without proper precautions and maintenance, even the most pricey of reels will seize up and require expensive repair work and down time to get them back in tiptop shape. While freshwater fishing will not ravage your gear as fast as saltwater, it is just as important to safely transport your gear and stay on top of reel maintenance.
As a saltwater guy, my first concern is to avoid excessive splash on my reels. There are multitudes of ways to ensure safe portage, but I will limit it to just a few key measures I take to keep my reels performing like they are fresh out of the box. Today, most sit on top kayaks come with built in rod holders, they are convenient, but usually plumbed right into the kayak and leave reels a little too close to the water line for my liking. There are plenty of ways to raise your rods up to keep the splash they receive to a minimum. Solutions can be as simple and inexpensive as inserting a PVC tube into the plumbed rod holder. There are also some great adjustable rod holders from RAM Mounts and Scotty that allow the angler to position the rods in strategic positions.

Personally, I prefer to have my rods situated as close to the middle of the tank well behind my seat as possible. By having them positioned there, a lot of unwanted splash can be avoided especially when kayaking in rough conditions. I really like the Black Pak from Yak Attack. It is a state of the art adaptation of the old DIY milk crate that has been part of kayak fishing as long as there has been kayak fishing. Not only does the Black Pak safely position my rods, but it also holds enough Plano boxes to make sure you can have more than enough of your favorite lures at your fingertips. Much like the classic milk crate, the Black Pak can be customized to hold everything from a 360 degree light required for night fishing to Go Pros and water proof point and shoots to capture your trophies for all to see.

Safety of our tackle is also a major concern when fishing from a kayak. This is especially true for anglers that fish deep water. While you may have to make an unscheduled trip to the reel maintenance center if your gear takes a swim on the flats, should you fumble your combo in deep water, it is likely to take up residence in Davey Jones Locker. To prevent this, a rod leash truly serves as your safety line. I have seen them made from old phone cords or thin elastic cord, but being mechanically challenged, I use the Hobie rod leash. I really like the Hobie, as it has a quick snap connection, so you can quickly disengage your rod to do battle with the monster on the other end of the line.
One of the easiest ways to help protect your rods and reels is to take a couple of minutes before and after every trip to properly maintain your gear. Whether you fish in salt or fresh water, take the time to gently rinse and towel down your combos after every trip. Before you head out on your next trip, spay your reels with some Corrosion Block. It’s a little pricey, but it does a great job of repelling reel damaging saltwater.

Finally, if you spend 150 days-plus on the water like I do, you probably want to take your reels in to be serviced about every six months. My local tackle shop has a very good reel service and it is great to support the local shops, but if you do not know of a shop like this in your area, send your reels into the manufacturer’s service center to ensure that knowledgeable tech are using first rate components on your babies.

Remember the 5P’s and your gear will provide you with years of no fail performance.

Pedal On!

So You Need A Fish Catching Machine

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Five Keys to a successful Fishing Kayak Purchase

Redfish love the new Revo.

Redfish love the new Revo.

Looking for advice on buying a kayak? Follow these tips to make a successful purchase.

  1. Try out as many kayaks as possible. You want to make sure the boat you buy is a proper fit. Not everybody will be comfortable in just any old kayak. Many shops have demo days and this is a great way to test drive different models from different manufacturers. If there is not a local shop that does demos, they usually have rentals. Having the boat for the day and actually taking it fishing will really give you the best idea if it is the best vessel for your fishing needs. Remember, if you do not purchase the right kayak for your needs it will probably sit collecting dust next to that treadmill that was your new year’s resolution to trim those twenty pounds off five years ago.
  2. Make sure that you can handle the length and weight of the kayak. Don’t buy a 14-foot boat if your storage area is only 10 feet long. Also, make sure that you can easily load your new kayak onto to your vehicle. While pickups are the easiest for loading a kayak, that is not an option for everyone. A trick I learned a long time ago for loading onto an SUV is to get an old piece of carpet or a bath mat and put the fuzzy side down at the rear of your vehicle. This way, you only have to lift the nose of the boat and then you can push it up onto the SUV using the rear handle. If you decide on one of the hybrid jumbo boats, a trailer may be your best option. There are some nice kayak trailers available or if you are not mechanically challenged like me, you may want to try and convert and old jet ski trailer and save some money.
  3. Paddle or Pedal? Several manufacturers now have lines of pedal kayaks. This is a great option for hands-free fishing. It also allows for anglers to travel greater distances. Legs are stronger and you still have the option to paddle to prevent one set of muscles from fatiguing. As the majority of anglers choose paddle kayaks it is very important to select the right paddle. I always tell those new to paddling to purchase the best paddle that their budget will allow. The paddle is your motor and, like in any boat, you do not want a clunky old engine to go with a sleek new hull. I always suggest a lightweight carbon fiber paddle, but a $400 price tag is not always in the angler’s budget. That being said there are some nice fiberglass shafts in the $150-200 range.
  4.  Going in the right direction. Most kayaks do not come with rudders but, in my opinion, this is an add-on that any fishing kayak cannot do without. Whether you are drifting a shallow flat stalking redfish or working a rod line flipping frogs for trophy large mouth, it is essential to be able to control your kayak without grabbing for the paddle every two seconds. It may sound like a broken record, but the more time you spend with the rod in your hands instead of the paddle, the more fish you are going to catch.
  5. Staying put. The other essential item to make you a successful kayak angler is an efficient anchoring system. When fishing the shallows, I have found that a stake out pole is the most efficient as it works as a brake, as well as an anchor. This is great as it keeps you from running over your quarry. A Kayak may be silent to you, but fish can feel it push the water on the Flats. In deeper water chose an anchor that will keep you in place in the depths. I have found that the standard fold up anchor is not that efficient. I suggest using a fluke style or river claw depending upon the body of water you are fishing. If you plan on some extreme fishing for monsters that outweigh your kayak, you may want to think about a breakaway anchor / float system.

Good luck with your new adventures. Always feel free to contact me with any questions or insight to some of the techniques you employ in your region.