Showing posts with label bass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bass. Show all posts

The Top 10 Kayak Bass Fishing Lakes in Texas

Having lived in Texas all my life and kayak fished all over this great state the last 11 years, it's time that I let you in on my favorite hot spots. These lakes may or may not be places you are familiar with but you will definitely want to add them to your list. If you are searching for black bass out of the kayak, try these lakes.

Is Catch and Release Hurting Our Lakes?

From the time I was little, I remember hearing that bass (large and smallmouth, not the white ones) are for catching and catfish are for eating. The only bass kept around our house was a large one that died and was skin mounted back in the late 80's. We caught lots of bass growing up. We would take pictures and then release them to make more babies for years to come. That's the essence of Catch, Photograph and Release.

Almost all freshwater kayak tournaments are done this way. Some saltwater tournaments are but I want to focus on freshwater today. Specifically I want to zero in on largemouth and smallmouth CPR.

Catch and release is a noble thought. Your prey gives you entertainment, you see value in that and want the fun to continue in the future so you let it free to fight another day. Sounds kind of like the Roman Emperor in Gladiator letting Maximus live. We build tournaments around this idea too. It is noble but is it harmful?

First let's look at some official wildlife science documents. 

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency put together a book for ponds and small lakes to discuss many aspects of maintaining a healthy population balance. A quote that jumped out at me very quickly was, "Fish must be harvested regularly for the population to remain in balance." More to the point it says, "The best way to avoid overcrowding in a pond is to harvest fish regularly and in adequate numbers.

That's all well and good. But what about lakes? Does this apply to lakes? Don't people already harvest these bass? 

It isn't that simple says Dr. Mike S. Allen from the Department of Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Florida. Allen shares in a paper, "...size limits are a tool for fisheries managers and have the potential to improve catch of large fish and total harvest. However, size limits will not improve every population! Fishery managers in Florida use specific regulations to improve fisheries that have rapid growth and good recruitment, such as the 15-24 inch slot limit on bass at Lake Istokpoga. Conversely, other fisheries with slow or moderate growth are often managed with more liberal size limits to allow anglers to harvest slower growing fish. The potential for success depends on ... each population!"

So what should we do as tournament fishermen? 

If a fish population seems skinny and long, should we change our format for that lake to a harvest format? Should we use stringers? 

Debra Dean, Editor of Honey Hole Magazine, has some thoughts she shares on the subject. She writes, "The art of catch and release could be on the verge of be coming the next big concern of fishery managers and biologists. It's actually already been under scrutiny for some time because keep-and-eat is what's supposedly missing from "workable" slot limits. Fisheries biologists claim that the only way slot limits really work for any lake is for small fish, those under the slot, to be retained in larger numbers than what is currently in style with bass fishing society (which is practically none).
   But they were inclined to support and promote catch and release as part of their fisheries plans and perhaps had hoped to strike some kind of balance between live release and a visit to the table, for bass in particular. No one realized that catch and release would become THE THING TO DO, almost a religious experience, for bass anglers and that such a noble ethic could become a problem for fisheries management."

But what is the right thing to do? Is a tournament needed where the aim is to harvest the heaviest bag of fish under the slot at lakes like Fork in Texas? And then have a fish fry after? 

It's not easy to decide but it is one that needs to be discussed. So what do you think? Is catch and release hurting our lakes?

Scouting Swaziland

Have you ever had a far off adventure that keeps crawling back to the front of your consciousness? I have. More correctly, I do. My adventure is in South Africa.

The Background

My wife's cousin and her family live in Swaziland, a country hugged by South Africa on its Northeastern border. She and her cousin are basically sisters who grew up in different houses. Our children and theirs are very close in age so get togethers are always fun and entertaining for all. I have been receiving increasing pressure to take a trip to Swaziland to see them.

She's a smart woman, my wife. After several failed attempts, she knew how to hook me into going. Swaziland has become somewhat of a jewel in Africa for fishing. They have trout streams, largemouth bass lakes and are almost pollution free. An untouched paradise if you will. Just across the border in Mozambique is saltwater and Maputo Bay. Further working toward me going is a private lake that the cousins have access to.

Honestly, this would be a once in a lifetime trip. I don't foresee being able to travel very often to Africa or even South America. I daresay I may only get to do Africa once.

Enter my imagination.

If I am going to do this, I want to do it big.

The Plan

Local intel is telling me there a few to no kayaks on any of these lakes. Noted.
I also know that Lake Komati is a growing hotspot for South Africans to seek out big largemouth. With only a few years since development, the lake has already produced an 11.9lb behemoth. Regular catches are bass between 5 and 8 pounds. Yes. You read that right! The bass are getting fat on a fish called a Blue Kurper which is in essence a Tilapia.

The streams are fished by conservatory fly fishermen some but not with the pressure like Colorado gets here in the States. I might have to try that too.

As for Maputo Bay, I'll have to do more research. Security is a huge concern for me while there. Inside of Swaziland, threats are minimal, security is tight and tourists are welcomed. Mozambique may prove to be a different story.

In scouting out Swaziland I feel like I would most likely be out of the US for 14 days. Four of those would be for travel and then 10 for exploring. I would like to spend an entire day at Lake Komati, maybe two if we stay at the lodge. It's only 75km from where we will be staying and has a nice highway (if there is such a thing) to and from. I'd like to spend three days on the private lake looking for different species of fish. Both of these excursions I would want to do in a kayak. More on that in a bit. The third leg, if it proved safe and worthwhile would be to cross the border into Mozambique and fish Maputo Bay. For safety this would also likely be a surf casting trip and not a kayak trip. Great white sharks are no joke, not to mention those crazy currents.

The How

The hardest part of trips like this is lodging. Luckily, that part is figured out. This trip would most likely take place in November or December of 2014. The seasons are different of course and the November/December time frame has temperatures from the mid 50's to the low 80's. That also allows for time to gather what will be needed. To make this happen, I would need sponsors to be able to donate equipment. The idea would be any equipment that doesn't fit in a suitcase would have to be shipped and stay there when we leave. The cousins run the African Christian College in Swaziland. Ideally all shipped equipment would then be donated to ACC for their use. A write off as a charitable gift.   So what items would we need?

Kayak, 11-13 feet in length.*
Video cameras to film along with batteries and memory cards
Fishing reels, rods, line, artificial baits*
Kayak cart for transport*
Rope for tying down kayak*
Pliers, gaff, anchoring method*

*donation items

The Finished Product

Ideally, I would like to be able to produce a documentary and a book about the adventure. If a company wanted to send a crew to film it, I could help make arrangements for lodging and most likely at no cost. The other logistics we could work out. I do not expect any payment for this adventure. I want to be able to show people around the world Swaziland and its natural beauty as I discover it for the first time from a kayak with a fishing pole in hand. Only a few anglers in the United States will be able to discover what I am planning for. I'll be bringing my story through video and writing even if I am unable to receive help. There is time to plan, come on board and be a prominent and integral part of the adventure but it needs to start taking shape now. If you have an interest in helping and being a part of "Scouting Swaziland", please contact me. 

If you are unable to help, be ready for a completely new adventure in early 2015. Thanks for reading!

Chris Payne
(512) 517-3936

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