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Each person for the most part carries all the tools necessary to launch and land. Launch the kayak and land fish that is. Every watch a fly fisherman wade a stream? Did you notice the absence of a depth finder? With the possible exception of a cell phone most decision making is done via the use of senses and utilizing past experience, knowledge from multiple forms of education and common sense. The same sense of senses can be employed in your kayak. With “old school” beginnings my early fishing exploits certainly left a lot to be desired from a success standpoint. Randomly casting, hit and miss, the occasional catch and a fair amount of frustration. Decades ago there was very little available in terms of technology. In my own case there was as they say, too much month at the end of the money and I found myself bassin’ on a budget. My number one complaint about the world of electronics on and off the water, is that people can and often times do become separated from their senses. Examples, doing simple math in their head, recognizing spelling or grammatical errors, endless automotive sensors beaming out unclear or false messages, “reading” the waters they fish and on and on. Granted each can be helpful as a tool for assistance but should not be used as a stand-alone device, What about when they may not be available or are not functional (batteries etc.)? In my on the water exploits seeking out bass, crappie, catfish, trout bluegill or more I try to use all the available information I can pick up using my human senses, knowledge gained through educational materials and previous experiences. Fishing moving water? – Current is a critical component. Most fish avoid current in one of two ways, station themselves behind objects that block current or redirect it for comfort and “fast food” delivery. Most gamefish will face into some level of current, their hydrodynamic shape is used this way. Positioning themselves behind objects minimizes their need to fight the motion of the fast flowing waters. Another way to dodge the water flow is to descend to the bottom column of the area resting away from the push in calm lower level depths. Spotting the object breaking the current is done with just your eyesight. Employ this tactic to find and fool creek, stream and river bass.

 Determining depth – Bass move shallow the majority of the time to feed or spawn. Again, simplicity is available. Unless you’re an avid deep water ledge angler or fond of working a jigging spoon over a point in 40 feet of water can be figured out by using the paddle or your friendly fishing rod. For water less than seven feet your paddle can be plunged down to the bottom and provide a pretty fair idea of how much water is below. Up to 14 feet, I generally drop a leadhead jig or Texas rigged soft plastic bait down until the line curls indicating touch down on the bottom. Pull the line up and measure it against the rod (most of mine are seven feet long, it’s noted on the base of the rod) and you can easily tell anything from seven to 14 feet. Being a power fisherman (spinners, crankbaits and jigs), any more than 14 feet for me and I’m in the wrong water. My catch records show the majority of my BIG bass come from three to eight feet of water.

 Recognizing cover and bottom contours – Cover in most instances again can be recognized by a visual scan of the area. A branch poking through the surface, there’s a tree below. Big branch equals big tree. A point extending out means a gradual depth change and a defined bass highway. A gradual slope or drastic slope of shoreline more than likely means a continuation of the same. Most bottom contours again calls for the bottom drop the bait down method.
 Patterns – First fish is luck the second is a clue and the third is a pattern. Be aware of all the conditions, water and weather related. First fish tells you depth, cover and how aggressively they are feeding. On those rare days when you catch multiple fish on the same bait, in the same area and on the same retrieve speed, make a mental note of everything you are doing. Rare are the days when bass are “choking it” and continue for hours. Patterns change and require an adjustment. Different size baits, a more subtle color shade of lure, slower speeds and more, essentially a pattern within a pattern.
 Optical clues – Inflowing creeks, submerged trees, bridge pilings, boat docks, rip rap banks forming banks on dams all are easily seen with sunglassed eyes. I do like normal shades for shallow water and sunny days or amber lenses for dreary or low light conditions. Sunglasses also protect you from errant casts by you, other anglers or a swing and a miss on a fish. Incoming! Spotting birds feeding on baitfish as well as bass busting schools of bait are additional clues worth noting. Weed beds, log jams, secondary points, changes in bottom or shore composition are all good, easy to spot and worthy of a cast or two. For finding water temperature I picked up an inexpensive floating aquarium thermometer, problem solved.

 A few hand tools- My tendency is to trust my sense of touch. After thousands of “pick-ups, hits, strikes and bites” ranging from subtle to smashes you develop and sometimes even anticipate the signal. That signal is transmitted through the line, to the rod, to your hands and eventually to the brain. For maximum feel is like braided line. For buzzbaits, spinners, crankbaits and topwater plugs my choice is monofilament. While the line is critical, the fishing rod is even more so. Casting, feeling the bait (and the strike) setting the hook and playing the fish all fall to the rod and the holder. With the fly rod being the only exception my kayak s covered in McCain High Performance Kayak edition rods ( Light yet strong, sensitive and supplying the proper punch for a sure hook set I’m sold on these fishing rods. Another hand tool” which is attached to my finger, the rod base or the seat in the kayak is the Line Cutterz ring for a quick, safe clean cut on any type of line. Especially for the braided line, the efficiency and sure cut is a welcome change form clippers.
 In summary, some old timers say they can smell bluegill spawning beds, listening for the surface feeding bass, seeing fish move in shallow water, feeling the tap-tap of a plastic worm being inhaled coves sense of touch, and as for taste, that comes after the catch and cleaning of a mess of crappie! That covers all the human kayak fishing senses. You don’t have to stow your electronic devices, just don’t separate yourself from your senses. Tune up your senses for some uncommon success.