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In my book ILL BE TENNESSEAN YA’ there’s a chapter entitled I’M PLAYING CHECKERS WHILE THE REST OF THE WORLD IS PLAYING CHESS. The main point in the chapter is my common sense solutions to finding and catching fish. Personal preference for folks in kayaks leads to a large amount of customization and the options to go “bare bones” or “go gearhead” with the rigging and addition of electronics of all types and varieties. Either or anywhere in between is certainly acceptable. While bass are typically my target I chase crappie and bluegill during certain times of the year. Early spring when the crappie bite is good catching and cooking is on the agenda, soon after the bass go into pre-spawn and they get my attention. As we move into the sizzling summer months the bluegill spawn and will readily hit almost any undersized offering. There are also days when I just go “junk” fishing, casting at anything that is willing to bite.

Kayak Fishing | Low Tech Catch

For years I subscribed to theory that fish are not hard to catch they are harder to find. Enter electronics. Lending help to locating fish depending on your bass fishing budget you can rig a super side scanning, depth determining, way point punch in, temperature gauging electronic gadget. My early resistance to electronics was a lack of finances, I developed a system to finding fish using visual clues, common sense and a reliance on past performance. There’s no doubt that off shore anglers benefit from the revelations on the screen of their depth finder / locators. For me I use a set of criteria that work almost anywhere. Here’s a peek at some of my favorites.

1. Shoreline – A scan of the shoreline in any body of water is a primary source of information. I look for irregular features ranging from rocks to docks, anything different. Bass are object oriented and will “set up” around anything in one to twenty feet of water and in some cases even deeper.
2. In-flowing creeks – creeks that enter into lakes and even other moving waters like rivers are worth a couple of casts. Adding cooling water in summer, increased oxygen and a natural hide for fish and forage make creeks productive.
3. Surrounding shore structure – A sloping shore means the slope continues. A bluff bank indicates deeper water and rock formations most of the time. A bare spot or the trunk of a tree most likely means submerged wood. Any or all of these can be counted on to produce at certain times.
4. Bends – in flowing water the outside bends catch the current, the inside bends redirect current either can be a gold mine. If the current is strong fish of all species relate anything that blocks current on the outside, the inside provides a place to sit behind the bend and wait for food to be deliver.
5. Secondary cover – BIG bass time! Under certain circumstances fish will move to isolated secondary cover in the form of aquatic weed beds, downed wood, rock piles or manmade attractors. Falling water sends fish to the next available cover, yep secondary off shore objects. Single sources of cover or a combination often hold the biggest “loner” fish.
6. Points- Long tapering points are often overlooked. They can be spotted jutting out from the shore and they continue at measurable increments. For example a point goes (not always in a straight line) from a foot or two descending to 20 feet of water or more. Cast parallel or perpendicular to the point until the fish react.

Kayak Fishing | Low Tech Catch

Each of these possibilities lead to identifiable patterns, repeatable results and memorable catches. There are many more but this is a short list and gives a start. Another tip is the use of the rod and line to determine depth. A 7 ½ foot rod is fairly normal for me, I merely lower my line until it curls at the tip. The limp line indicates a bottom touch down. I raise the line and can pretty accurately gauge the depth of the water my kayak is sitting in. One rod length around seven feet, two rod lengths 15 feet anymore that that I’m in the wrong spot. I’m admittedly not a deep water guy. When asked what do I do when the fish are in 2o feet of water or more, my reply is I stay home and watch cartoons. I also use a small pool thermometer to find the surface water temperature. They’re inexpensive, require no battery and float.

Going low tech leaves a few dollars that might allow you to add another kayak or new lightweight paddle to your list of equipment. There’s also a lot of self-satisfaction to finding and catching fish using your senses and intuitive skills.

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