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What’s New in Kayak Fishing

There’s a difference in what’s new in fishing but not much new in catching. That’s a bold statement but true.

The Old Days and the New Ways

After 60 Seasons (I started at ten) of chasing bass there are some constants. I avoid the words always and never in reference to fishing. Often bass will bite better under certain circumstances based off weather and water conditions. For decades anglers wanting to make a meal of fish relied on live bait, while others netted or even speared fish for food. There are some relatively predictable situations that will draw strikes from bass almost anywhere. Techniques have evolved but bass baits while looking different are in many ways the same as they were decades ago. Materials have changed, the development of plastics has revolutionized bass fishing. Early worm fishing fans had limited choices, two colors, one shape, one size. Plastics weren’t nearly as supple, and rigging was unimaginative. But don’t be fooled what’s touted as new isn’t 100% true. * See photo.

What's New in Kayak Fishing
My fishing partner Debbie Brian explains. “I prefer spinning tackle for the lighter weight soft plastics. My favorite rod is a Lew’s 6 ½ foot Mach 2 IM8 coupled with a Lew’s MH 2 -200A spinning reel spooled with six-pound test line. My “go to” is a finesse worm, then the Ragetail baby craw followed by a Ned rig. I love the feel of the fish picking up the bait and moving off with it. You a slow, twitch presentation and keep the bait moving. My best bass was 6 ¼ pound largemouth caught on a Ragetail craw rigged on an 1/8 th. ounce shakey leadhead.

My Lew’s baitcasting combo is like a good book, I hate to put it down. This set up weighs in at just over eight ounces. For jig fishing or pitching plastic this rod is perfect for me. I like this rig so much I have two! The rod is 6’10” TL CPSBC Medium/Heavy fast action. The reel is the CPB ISH model with a 7.5:1 retrieve ration and a ton of ball bearings to give you a smooth retrieve.

Because bass are object oriented finding them was a matter of deciding where the most likely hiding spot was. Getting there required a bit more work. Sculling paddles before outboards, trolling motors came along to add a more precision placement of the boat and the bait. More recent additions, “spot lock” to electronically hold you in place, gone are the old anchors replaced by “Power Poles” and micro-poles for kayakers and small craft enthusiasts. Electronics have turned crappie fishing into almost a video game with the invention of side scan and now “Live Scope” technology where with the aid of lots of pixels you can visibly locate a fish, present a lure directly in front of it and watch it actually take the bait.

What's New in Kayak Fishing

Back to Bait Basics

Shapes, sizes, profiles, hooks, colors and diving capabilities are all in some cases the same and some different. The race to develop a crankbait that would dive to 20 feet was like the space race to the moon. Most early “plugs” give you the wobble but not probe depths of more than a few feet. Wood gave way to a brittle plastic, plastic improved, wood made a brief comeback and now both are available, but most opt for plastic for durability and mass production. Absent for the most part are bits of fur and feathers used long ago, with the exception being the “fly flickers.” Jigs, high effective in any form were initially made of the hair/fur from bear, fox and rabbit. These materials were wrapped around the leadhead, had thread wound around them, glued and then generally a “pork chunk” was added before they hit the water. Both are rare to find on the shelves of most outdoor stores now.

Food Sources

In the largemouth lunch box forever have been other fish, bluegill, shad, a large variety of minnows, fogs, snakes, crawfish and really just about anything that would fit in the cavernous mouth of a bass. Matching colors was a bit of a task, lure painting was painstaking and in more of its infancy. Usually sizes might me limited with the exception being oversized musky models. Every natural (and some unnatural) food sources have been produced in an effort to fool fish. Suffice to say you can pick a color, size, shape or material and somewhere there exists a bass lure like that. As far as our casting targets I look for submerged wood, rock and aquatic vegetation. Any change in shoreline or composition or even boat docks will also draw my interest. “I prefer drop offs, the sunny side during cool temperatures, feeder creeks, any size rock from gravel to boulders. I often throw to the deeper channels in lakes and even rivers.” Debbie adds.

What's New in Kayak Fishing

Conventional Kayak

The history of kayaks is essentially born out of a need to get close to game in Alaskan costal waters. Attributed to the Inuit tribe kayak making was a slow process. Early kayaks were made to fit the individual, the brave soul chasing seals and other creatures. Armed with a paddle and a harpoon they kayaked into dangerously close proximity of their quarry. Stealthy if not stable kayaks have come a long way, paddle, pedal or motorized. Debbie explains her kayak choice: I use the Jackson BITE FD almost exclusively, after having paddled the Yupik, MayFly, Bite and a Big Rig I chose the BITE FD. I can paddle or pedal and the pedaling requires no upper body strength, it also allows me to travel farther and keeps my hands free. The BITE FD is fast, stable and good in any water. I can pull the propeller up and fish the lily pads, heavy cover and around submerged wood or travel big water.

I prefer to stand and fish. The OG Big Rig, the MayFly and Liska are all boats own and use on my fishing trips. My focus is stability over speed, and I like these fishing friendly Jackson models.

On the Line

After having experimented with every fishing line I have found there’s a place and application for each. For my casting my buzzbaits, spinners and crankbaits I depend on 12-14 lb. test monofilament. It gives you the stretch need to allow the fish to take the bait and the ability to play “them down” once hooked. For my feel baits, jigs and soft plastics, I go strictly braid. A neat little trick is camouflaging any brightly colored braided line. I use a permanent magic marker to mark my braid in two-inch increments. Mark two inches, leave two inches and on and on until you’ve done about 12 feet. For open faced spinning reels My first layer of line is monofilament to give a seat to braided line (attach the two with a blood knot) and clip it closely, it keeps the braid from “cutting” into itself. Once I have the reel close to capacity, I again use a “blood knot” to connect the two lines, fluorocarbon and braid. I make this leader about the same length of the rod. You have strength of braid, the invisibility of fluorocarbon and no common problem of the springing off of the line from the spinning reel.

What's New in Kayak Fishing

Both of us agree after walking the bank as kids and fishing out of conventional boats the kayak gives us unfettered freedom and access to “thin” water plus places bigger boats can’t reach. Old school or new wave the goal is come and go safely, enjoy the outdoors and hopefully set the hook on a few fish.