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One of the best kayaking trips I’ve had to date was with one of my best friends, and my best fishing partner, Tony Grift.  Tony and I met in Austin, TX several years ago while bank fishing.  Tony is from the Netherlands and we bumped into each other one afternoon and quickly became friends.  Bank fishing turned into kayak fishing, which quickly lead to traveling to tournaments together all over TX for a couple years.  A few years ago I relocated back to Kansas City, and as a result, it’s been difficult for Tony and I to coordinate getting kayaks in the same place to fish together.   

This summer I was lucky enough to get a phone call from Tony that he had a free week and since his brother (who had just recently moved to the states) also had a free week, and they were thinking of heading north in hopes of the three of us fishing together.  They had Oklahoma in mind, and I had the King’s River in mind, in Northern Arkansas.  After a little convincing, Tony and his brother, Danny, were on their way north, and I was headed south to rendezvous in Eureka Springs, AR to fish the blue ribbon section of the King’s River.  I’ve been wanting to fish this river for a long time, as it’s a destination river for many people, and I couldn’t think of a better person than my best fishing friend to share the experience with.  Another bonus is while Tony and his brother are accomplished anglers on lakes and larger bodies of water, neither of them had ever kayaked or fished a river before.  We were in for a treat!

I got to Eureka Springs a couple hours after they did, and I had rented us a house at Lake Lucerne Resort, which is off the beaten path and had a place for our trucks and trailers, and we had a cool little private lake to stomp around and fish at night.  Tony and Danny were already geeking out and getting gear ready when I arrived, and after a few minutes of hugs and catching up, we quickly settled into our old ways of talkin’ trash and picking on each other.  What are friends for, right?  We got our gear ready and drove to find our put-in spot on the King’s for the next morning.  After getting lost, 4-wheelin’ a little, and being confronted by a curious farmer (who turned out to be super nice), we eventually found our spot and headed back to the house to finalize gear, have dinner, and relax before heading to bed.  


The next morning we were all like kids on Christmas morning.  Exited, and ready to get on the water, we took off and unloaded next to the river.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and I was excited to show Tony and Danny what river fishing was all about.  I led the way for the first hour or so, showing them the ins and outs of how the river flows and where the fish will typically hold.  We also did a lot of banking our kayaks before the little rapids so we could get out and walk up to the water that was too fast to fish in.  Danny sort of went on his way and did his own thing most of the day, picking up fish here and there and having an awesome day on the water.  Tony was a little slower to pick up ‘river fishing’, but Tony also likes to fully understand things instead of just haphazardly jumping in, and that’s what he did.  After Tony and I pulled over and we spent thirty minutes or so fishing one spot, Tony watched me pull in smallie after smallie and was baffled.  I showed him what I was doing and it literally took him catching one fish in the rapids for things to ‘click’ for him.  He was on fire the rest of the day, as was I.  It could not have been better fishing.   The weather was perfect and the water was cold but perfectly refreshing and perfect for smallmouth fishing.


After floating eight miles of river that day, we stopped back by the outfitter that helped us with our vehicle and trailer, and they were astonished by the number of fish we caught.  I pulled in 91 smallies and 8 other fish of various species, and Tony and Danny pulled in well over 100 smallies of their own, collectively.  We didn’t catch extremely large smallmouth but it was a day on the river that Tony and I will never forget.  

A special thanks needs to be given to Trigger Gap Outfitters in Eureka Springs, AR.  They are an exclusive Jackson Kayak outfitter on the King’s River and their graciousness and help with planning this trip was extremely appreciated.  Chris and Juanita were amazing hosts and shared their knowledge of the river with us unselfishly.  If you are in the Eureka Springs area, looking to get on the water for a day or more, or if you’re planning your next destination river fishing excursion, I encourage you to reach out to the Trigger Gap Outfitters.  You will not be disappointed, just ask Tony and Danny…….and Me!