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The Instinct Kayak Angler

The evolution of electronics has changed the face of fishing. High definition screens, increased pixel counts, wider views and real time images have in some instances replaced the intuitive skills anglers depended on for years. While I’m not opposed to electronic assistance, I’ve always believed in many ways all the gadgetry separates people from their senses. Just look at society the people can no long read maps or navigate without the use of GPS. Look around the room at a family gathering and people of all ages are locked into staring at the screens on their devices. I, like everyone else have a cell phone and use it for email, texting, as a camera and yes, I actually talk on mine. As far as my fishing I always have and will use my natural instincts to find and catch fish. Again, diving into the techno world is a choice, but if your batteries go out or you have an equipment malfunction can you be as effective using your instincts?

The Instinct Kayak Angler
Natural Signs

Old timers go by the bloom of the dogwood trees as a sign that the crappie are spawning. Not very scientific but pretty accurate. Some repeat the age-old adage, “wind from the East fishing the least, wind from the West fishing’s the best.” Again, some validity. Find aquatic birds like herons, gulls in an area and others and you’ll find baitfish. Seen it often and accurate. Moon phases are in my opinion the strongest natural sign. I refer to it as “bass-stronomy”..hatches, increased wild creature activity and tides are all heavily influenced by the moon. The new moon is good, but I lean towards the full moon for increased feeding activity for fish and wildlife. There’s scientific evidence and lots of lore that has passed down that supports the moons influence on everything with a heartbeat.


Visual Clues

Shoreline look, and composition gives tips as to likely spots to cast your lures. Any irregular feature on the shoreline catches my attention, A shoreline that goes from rock to earth is a draw for minnows, amphibians and especially crawfish. A point jutting out or a small indention that creates a change in water flow in rivers or creeks is a magnet for fish. A large limb protruding out of the water is obvious evidence that a tree is submerged below the surface. The size of the limb offers an idea as to the size of the tree. (In fishing we call this a clue) The appearance of aquatic vegetation indicates additional oxygen, shade and possibly a resting place for natural food sources for all game fish. Cattails and lily pads also give clues as to the water being shallow and sandy bottom composition. Inflowing water means cooler temperatures and additional oxygen in the immediate area. All this is visual and requires no electronic aids. I do recommend a good (not expensive) pair of sunglasses.

The Instinct Kayak Angler

Life Activity

Again the shoreline gives its secret away with motion and movement from insects, frogs, snakes and bait “running” the edge created by the shore. This is a tip off as to what the fish normally dine on. Matching the indigenous food sources almost guarantees catching a few fish. In and around cover often you can spot fish of all sizes moving especially in lily pads, pencil grass and coontail moss. Sight casting to the “V” wakes is fun and effective and a great tactic for topwater bass as well as other species. Summer and throughout fall bass will chase schools of shad and the surface erupts with the drama of the watery wolf pack gorging themselves on the plentiful shad.

The Instinct Kayak Angler


When you combine natural instinct with experience you soon crack the code for catching fish especially the superior of the species. And who does want to catch a giant? You see a spot and almost instantly know there’s got to be a fish there. For example, a steep bank with big fallen tree at a 45-degree angle and I’ll automatically reach for my crankbait rod and throw a squarebill crankbait past the wood and intentionally bounce the bait off the submerged trunk of the tree often creating the deflection bite. A large expanse of lily pads has you searching for your topwater frog. You’ve done it successfully before and instinctively repeat the process.

I’ve had people ask me after a predicted catch, “how did you know there was a fish there?” It’s a combination of common sense, recognition of similar circumstances (experience) and experience. Couple any electronics with an instinctual approach and you become an effective angler. Just don’t let electronics and gadgetry override your natural instincts and cognitive abilities. Let’s call it fishin’ intuition or instinct angling.