Showing posts with label kayak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kayak. Show all posts

Choosing a Camera for CPR Tourneys



If you fish in kayak tournaments, Catch, Photo and Release (CPR) is not a new concept. It’s also not such an easy task. The taking of the picture can often be the hardest part of the day. Choosing the right camera can help ease that burden.

Some tournaments allow cell phone pictures but you have to provide a cable, have to have battery left over after eight hours on the water (who gets that?) and it has to be high enough quality. When $1,000 or more is on the line, I don’t want to risk it.

The things I like in a camera are simple but often not thought about. Look them over and see what you might be missing.

Night Portrait Mode

Probably the most often overlooked, night portrait mode is made for shooting close shots when it’s dark. Have you ever caught a fish before first light or during a night tournament only to have the picture be whited out or too dark to qualify? Night Portrait mode will fix that. Giving just enough light to show the fish and the board, it controls the light emitted from the flash and gets the picture you need.

LCD Screen

I like a two inch or bigger screen on the back of the camera. This allows me to see the pictures well and quickly without a ton of zooming so I can verify if the shot is good or I need a retake. It also serves as a big viewfinder for lining up the shot.

Wide Lens

A wider lens means an easier time getting the whole fish in the frame and less having to raise the camera way above your head and get a shot. Look for something in the 20-22mm lens rather than the traditional 28mm.

Burst Mode

Fish move. You need a good picture. A fast shutter and capturing 6 pictures per second will help get a clear shot of a moving target.

SD Card

Most computers are equipped to take an SD card. Find a camera that is too. Worst case scenario you can get a MicroSD card and an adapter. The last thing you want to do is carry a bunch of cables and disks around with you so you can weigh in. Ease your mind and get a camera that uses SD.

Battery Type

This one is often overlooked and can work either way but needs to be planned for. Cameras that take AA or AAA batteries will burn through them fairly quickly, especially if you are using the LCD screen. Carry spare batteries with you at all times.
The other option is a camera that uses Lithium Ion batteries. These will run a lot longer than AA but often spares are very expensive. If you make a pre-tourney checklist and charge your camera the night before, you’ll be good. Just make sure you charge it. You will almost always catch that kicker fish right after the battery runs out.

Waterproof, Resistant or Dry Pack

You can buy cameras that can get a little wet or even some that you can submerge but you will pay more. A more price friendly option is to put your camera in a clear dry pack. If you do this option, make sure to take a few test photos to check quality before tourney day.

Pro Tip: Add Flotation
Add some form of flotation to the camera. Fish flop, cameras drop. Don’t lose your win because of it.

I don’t sell cameras but have owned quite a few. These are some cameras that have performed well for me or someone I know spread across some different price ranges. Also, don’t forget to check clearance aisles, EBAY, and pawn shops for even better pricing.


Under $100

Sony - DSC-W800



Manufacturer's Statement: This incredibly easy-to-use camera slips right in your pocket, ready to capture a memory at a moment's notice. Get close to faraway subjects with 5x optical zoom, then snap gorgeous 20.1MP photos or record beautifully detailed HD video. Your pictures will come out crisp and clear thanks to the professional-grade Sony lens with Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization. For even more fun, enhance your stills and video with built-in creative effects like Toy Camera and Pop Color. Or try Beauty Effects to adjust skin tones, remove blemishes and even whiten teeth-it's perfect for portraits.


Under $150

Canon PowerShot ELPH150 IS
Manufacturer's Statement: Some events are just too important to trust to the image quality of a smartphone camera. For those times, slip the ultra-slim, brilliantly stylish PowerShot ELPH 150 IS camera in your pocket. With the 10x Optical Zoom, you can reach right into the action to frame a shot just the way you want it, without blur or loss of resolution. The camera's 20.0 Megapixel sensor captures even the smallest details with superb clarity, naturally vivid color and beautiful luminosity. When you enlarge and print frame-worthy moments from weddings, important celebrations, vacations and more, the result is truly impressive: images that not only preserve your memories, but render them with all the lifelike, emotive nuance of great photography. For all its sophisticated imaging capabilities, the PowerShot ELPH 150 IS camera is extremely easy to use. Smart AUTO ensures you'll always get the best shot by automatically selecting the perfect camera settings for 32 shooting situations, so you can focus on capturing the moment. And Intelligent IS keeps photos and videos clear and steady, controlling camera shake even at the long end of the zoom.




Under $200

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-850 16.0 MP Digital camera - Silver



Manufacturer's Statement: Outdoor adventures spice up the lives, and the TG-850 is the perfect camera for preserving the memories. A super-wide lens takes in more of the beauty. A sophisticated sensor/image processor combo ensures vivid image quality. And features like a 180 degree flip LCD, time interval shooting and pro-quality video make the TG-850 as refined as it is rugged. Whether you're heading to the ends of the earth or just the end of the hiking trail, the TG-850 is up for the journey. Water doesn't affect it. Falling out of your pocket won't faze it. Cold? No problem. You know how sometimes you can't decide whether to bring your camera? With the TG-850, you don't have to think twice.


Under $300

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5


Manufacturer's Statement: The rugged, waterproof and WiFi-enabled LUMIX TS5 compact adventure camera delivers go-anywhere flexibility with state-of-the-art imaging performance. Unwire your creativity with WiFi technology that allows you to share your pictures instantly from your smartphone. The LUMIX TS5 is the ultimate tough camera, so no matter where you find yourself... diving with sea life, hanging from a mountain, or exploring the winding alleys of a foreign market... you will take the best shot possible without worrying about your camera. Waterproof to 43 feet, shockproof from 6.5 feet, freezeproof from 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressure resistant to 220 lbs, the LUMIX TS5 really is the tough-man of the compact camera market.




Peer Pressure Kayak Purchases

Please stop.
Take a deep breath.
Count down from 10.

I'm going to save you some possible headache if you'll take 5 minutes and read this. I hope you take this advice to heart because I sure didn't. I've bone headed this scenario twice and finally learned my lesson. I'll try to save you the same trouble.

Here is how it starts:

Talking heads (yes me included), start telling you about all these cool new kayaks that are coming out. We show you fancy pictures. Then maybe you find a walk through video. "Man, that's a cool yak." You see some pretty cool features you like. "I might buy one of these!," you think while you try to figure out when the next lump sum of cash is coming in. Tax return? Christmas cash? Returning all the crappy gifts you got for your birthday and the three extra blenders from your wedding gifts.

Then you go look at the fishing forums. I wonder what the kayak guys think of this boat? So maybe you ask the question but you ask it too vaguely. Typing in "What do you think about a Great Fork Spearyak 13?" is too vague. What do you want to do in the kayak? What limitations do you have? I could go through a big long checklist here but I have already created it. Check it out:

Think about these questions and think about the answers specifically to the kayak you think is so cool. Does it fulfill my wants list? If so, it could be great. If not, better keep looking.

At this point you may be too deep in the hype and advertising to even listen. I know I was. I had decided that even though it wasn't everything I wanted and it might not deliver, I was going to buy Boat X. So I did. I bought into all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. While it is a very good kayak for some people, for me it was awful. I hated it. It didn't do what I wanted it to do, I felt some of the things talked about were oversold, and the hype sucked me in. I was more attracted to a brand name than the function. 

What could have avoided all of this headache? A demo. 

I should have paddled the kayak first. That would have told me everything I needed to know but I didn't. I was anxious, in a hurry and didn't want the deal to get away. Whoops.

People who own a certain brand will inherently recommend the kayak they paddle (or pedal). It says they really enjoy the kayak they have and it fits what they want to do. A little quieter are the people who don't really like what they are in but made a HUGE ordeal when they bought Boat X so now they are a bit bashful. Somewhere in that mix are people who are looking for something else but don't want to say anything because they so highly recommended a different boat. 

The plain truth is, sometimes when you think you know what you want, and then you go paddle it, you change your mind. The time to change your mind is BEFORE money changes hands. Getting recommendations will be easy but it will be diverse. If you are going to ask questions on a public forum, make them as specific as possible. 

"How does the Spearyak 13 handle in wind on large open water?"

That is a direct and specific question. 

Additionally, make sure the person giving you the advice/opinion has actually paddled the kayak you are talking about. I've had a couple of dozen people ask me about the Predator from Old Town. I have looked one over and only paddled it once. I make sure they know that.

If at all possible, please demo a kayak before you buy. If you need to find someone who might can help with that, message me on Facebook. I'll try to do my best to find you a shop or person within an hour or so that has that kayak. If nothing else, I can find you someone to talk to about it. 

Be smarter than I was and be happier in your kayak. Don't peer pressure kayak purchase. 


Be Safe in the Cold

Fall is descending on most of the nation and even a hint of winter is showing up for a few of our folks up north. My friends in Europe have been experiencing snow for almost three weeks now. As it gets colder, carelessness with safety gets more costly than it already is. Please be safe. Have a float plan. Wear layers. Wear a life jacket.

Here is a video explaining why that life jacket is so important.



How to Pick the Perfect Kayak




I'm sorry to be the one to say it. Well... not really.

For you new guys, the lurkers and quizzers, the ones wanting to get into kayak fishing or just kayaking in general, the perfect kayak does not exist.

For you kayak fishing vets, not all of you but some of you, stop telling them Kayak XR34 is the best in the world and you have to have one or you'll be sorry!

I get it. You love your kayak. You think it's the best. And here's the thing: For you it might be!

But let it be said once and for all, there is no perfect kayak for all people in all situations.

People with a bad back will need a lighter kayak or a trailer. People with only $400 to spend can't afford the Hobie Pro Angler 14 so stop suggesting it.

People who want a river boat may not want the Native Mariner. Especially in low water conditions.

I get it. You are loyal to your favorite brand. That's good. Please understand however, not all kayaks fit all people and situations the way it might fit you.

To grow the sport the most important thing we can do is encourage people to demo as many boats as possible. Sure, you might encourage a certain brand. I think we all do but please, whenever possible, don't encourage someone to buy a kayak "dry". If a person has never been in a kayak and you are encouraging them to buy the XR34, you are rushing. Asking lifestyle questions will lead you to only a handful of kayaks to choose from.

Hey, new guy! Does it seem overwhelming picking your first kayak? I've been there. I bought the only one I could afford. It got me on the water and that was good but it could be very frustrating and I almost died once because of a bad choice of a kayak. Please new guy, be patient. We understand you are super excited to try this cool sport out. We love it too but we have all made different mistakes. I made a really bad one that almost pushed me out of kayak fishing all together.

I purchased a kayak, sight unseen, dry with no demo about five years ago. It was such a good deal I couldn't believe it. So I bought it. Later that week I took it for its maiden voyage and almost turtled a dozen times. I hated that kayak. I felt like I was fighting it the whole time. It was awful and I sold it a month later and lost money. Since then I have purchased several kayaks for different purposes. I have a small water/buddy kayak, a big water kayak, and a family kayak (tandem). All three are different brands. I like them all and they have different purposes. For anyone to tell me that I could get all of my wants in one kayak would seem a fairy tale and frankly, unrealistic. I fish a wide variety of situations. Most people do.

If you only fish one set of ponds or one stretch of river, you might could find one kayak that works well and it could be perfect for you. That doesn't make it perfect for your buddy or that new guy on the forum.

Lots of places around the country have kayak dealers who specialize in kayaks, not just a bait store or grocery store that sells them. Ask them for a demo. Most of these places have people on staff who specialize in kayak fishing and who have paddled all the different brands they carry.Take a look around and see what you can find. If you still don't see a dealer in site, ask on the local fishing forum. Lots of people would be happy to let you try their kayak. I take new people out all the time just to share the kayaking experience with them.

So new guys, demo, demo, demo. Only you can choose for you.

Kayak addicts, encourage them to demo. Don't just be a boat pusher.

Four Tips to Find a Great Deal on a Kayak



Labor Day marks the end of summer for most folks. It's back to school time for the kids. Businesses are starting a new fiscal year soon and the holidays are within sight. What Labor Day also marks is the beginning of sale season for kayaks.


Kayaks, both used and new are at the end of their cycle for the year. Dealers are reducing old inventory for the winter months, increasing new year models, doing some trade-ins, selling off the rental fleet and clearancing out. They know the pattern. It's their business. Craigslist will be flooded with people needing to sell a kayak for this or that. There are nomadic, seasonal kayakers who often sell a boat just to make a lease payment for deer season. Then there is dad, who thought he could convince the family to kayak with him, who instead is needing to sell a tandem to get a solo kayak. It takes all kinds. Often it works out for both parties. Everybody gets what they want and the cycle continues into next year.




Commonly thought of as a summer time hobby or sport, kayaking enjoys a bolus of participants between May and September. The crowds on local lakes start to thin more and more as the weather becomes more tolerable. Hunting season has started and for some that means dove hunting and then deer hunting. For me it's always DEAL hunting. 

Over the last several years I have used fall and winter as a time to upgrade. Often, there are folks looking for a boat I have, rigged and ready to fish and are willing to pay a fair amount for it as is. I'd then turn that money into a better deal for me by finding great deals. Here are a few tips to help you find a great deal:

1. Look at Buy/Sell/Trade Sections on Your Local Forums


Chances are you belong to a local forum or six. Kayaks can often show up here for not a lot of money. Make sure you do your research though. A few unrealistic (or opportunistic) folks will try to get you to pay retail prices for a used kayak. Don't want to risk getting swindled? Check out the next tip.

2. Call a Kayak Dealer or Two


Dealers can't advertise their best prices. The kayak market for the most part has fixed pricing. If you can go in store it is even better but sometimes a phone call works if you are far away. This time of year it is very important to move inventory from the previous year. Brand new kayaks needing new homes can be had at better than used pricing very often. Don't believe me? Call HOOK 1 at (866) 486-8412 and ask if they have any deals. Tell them Chris sent you. 

3. Don't Forget Craigslist


Depending on where you live, CL can be filled with kayaks. In Texas, especially Dallas, Austin and San Antonio options abound. Just please, reread #1 and do some homework. Some sellers will try to take advantage or just really have no clue that a kayak depreciates. Take a buddy, meet at a place where you can demo the kayak. Speaking of demos.

4. Demo, Demo, Demo


Don't be a knucklehead like me and buy a kayak you've never paddled. It's exciting and sometimes the deals are great but what if you drop $500 or $1,000 on something that you hate. Good luck reselling for the same price. Demo at least the model if at all possible. It doesn't have to be the exact kayak but at least a very similar one. 

Should Trolling Motors Be Allowed in Kayak Tourneys?



ICAST and Outdoor Retailer showed us what the kayak industry is moving to: motorized kayaks.
At least that's what it feels like. So how long will it be until they are allowed to fish along side human powered kayaks in tournaments?

Wilderness Systems is working on the ATAK kayak, Old Town has the Predator XL, Ocean Kayak has made the Torque for several years and more companies are joining the fold every year. Some companies like NuCanoe design their kayaks with the idea you might mount a trolling motor on it.

In the kayak tournament scene, very few tourneys allow kayaks that have trolling motors. It is thought by most to provide a distinct advantage because the angler doesn't tire from propelling the kayak. The ban is often also applied to sailboats and catamaran style kayaks like the Hobie Adventure Island as well.

Should trolling motors be allowed? 

The people for inclusion claim this would allow seniors and people with disabilities to participate which could continue the growth of the sport. With more models of electric motor kayaks becoming available, inclusion would be the natural thought. More people competing means larger purses, more sponsorship which also mean larger purses and wider reach to continue to grow kayak fishing and its eventual national tournament trails.

That sounds good. In theory.

The people against it claim it is a distinct advantage. Fatigue sets in faster when your body is having to propel the kayak. The advantage grows even greater in adverse conditions like high winds. The motor powered kayak would have the ability to cover more water, make more casts and fish longer throughout the day.

 That also makes sense.

In cases where the entry fee is fairly benign (think $25 or less) and the winnings aren't much over a couple of hundred dollars, I can see people being a little more lenient. Let's talk big for a minute.

Large trails are popping up as large events have been attracting more attention and it is only a matter of time before purses of $5,000+ are available. If you pay $100 to enter, $250 on gas and lodging, $100 in food, do you want to compete against someone who can cover three or four times the water as you, make more casts than you and fish more spots because wind and waves effect them less? You have $400-$500 on the line to win $5,000. Are you ok with that knowing you are at a disadvantage?

I'm very curious to see what the kayak community has to say. We are on the precipice and this issue is being decided. It would be nice to have some input. Please comment, share and discuss this so your voice can be heard. Now is the time to speak up and state your case. For or against, help the trails deciding these things know what you think.


Flip That Kayak!

Turtle: Also known as flipping a kayak while you are in it

The idea of falling out of a kayak is the exact reason why people either:

#1 Don't/Won't buy a kayak

#2 Buy a particularly wide kayak

This is nothing new. People don't buy any floating vessel only to end up bobbing beside it shortly after launch but maybe they should try it.


Fishing with Kids: Adventure Over Fish

If you enjoy the outdoors and have young children, you may have thought about taking them fishing. Some of the hesitant dads I've visited with worry about if they will like it. They worry about not catching fish. They worry their kids will not really want to fish. 

The fact is, kids are just kids. They don't have the hangups and expectations you do. The outside world is a bigger playground to explore with boundless limits. If you decide to spend your time fishing on a fishing trip with kids, don't plan on fishing. Plan to spend time giving instruction and celebrating small victories. Don't be surprised when your future fisherman wants to explore and look for bugs or fossils rather than fish. Encourage it. 

The adventure of the trip is what will keep them wanting to come back. 

If you have a kayak, take your child along. Rent a small kayak for them or just go play in yours. Eventually as they get more comfortable you can incorporate fishing too. Tandem kayaks are great for these outings and are often available for rental if you don't have one. 

I didn't get my start in fishing from a kayak but it was an adventure that kept me coming back for more.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn't have a fishing pole. I also can’t remember the first time I went fishing. I have a few vague, water color type memories of small bream and a sunset but nothing else to really tie them together as a memory.

I do remember when I became hooked on fishing though. Every single detail.


My dad had taken me to Lake Trammel, a small impoundment outside Sweetwater, Texas. He and my grandfathers had outfitted me with a few lures they felt they could part with, a rod, a Zebco 33 and a lot of smiles, shoved into a small tackle box. Dad had found an area with lots of coontail that held some black bass. When we arrived, he tried every avenue to convince me to not tie on a lipless crankbait. He knew in short order the gold Cordell Rattlin’ Spot I tied on my line would be a donation to Poseidon. 

30 seconds later he thought he was right. After a short cast and a couple of cranks I was tugging, pulling and making quite a racket. I couldn't get my lure back. He sauntered over with a half smirk on his face when I was pulled forward. Weeds don’t pull back! After a short fight he held the fish while I ran to get that blue stringer I had insisted on bringing along.

 A two and a half pound giant black bass was toted home and shown to anyone who would look. After a few pictures, most of which I cried through because of the bristled teeth of my foe, the bass was prepared and made into a nice meal. The cycle had been completed and a new angler born. Little did any of us know that this one bass would start a fire that has yet to be put out.

The adventure, the story I would tell is what kept me asking to go back for more. The approval I was met with was great but when I think fondly about that trip, I see the trees, the water, the big, big world that was different than what I was used to. I remember the stringer. I remember that lure. I remember it 30 years later like it was yesterday. The adventure is what I seek and crave even to this day. That's why a day on the water without catching a fish is still a relaxing, refreshing experience. 

Go out and create some adventure!

The Stability Myth: Standing in a Kayak

Standing is the new thing.

In kayaks that is. And frankly, it's not all that new. As people flock to the sport they see commercials, ads, pictures and videos of people standing up and fishing from a variety of kayaks. I've seen almost every major manufacturer release an ad for one of their kayaks where someone is standing up and fishing. It's the hot issue. If a company doesn't have a kayak that they sell for standing and fishing they are behind the times.

All that being said, these pictures and videos can be misleading. The design of the kayak, its hull, its width and the water conditions all play into stability so that a fisherman can stand. Not enough people, especially those shopping for a "stand and fish" kayak are looking at the biggest variable: the fisherman.

People are all built differently. People also have different levels of balance. I can stand and fish on an Outback, a Slayer, a Coosa, a Ride, a Commander and a ton of others but that doesn't mean you can.

Drew Gregory from Jackson has jumped and spun around on the deck of at least one Jackson in a video. Here is the not-so-secret secret. Drew is a compact, fit guy who works in the outdoors and is in great shape. His balance is impeccable. I've seen more than a couple of people turtle a Jackson. It's more than just kayak specs that make a kayak standable. It's you too.

But wait! I can hear some of you who have been watching a different set of videos. "I'm built more like Chad Hoover and he can stand in all of the Wilderness kayaks" you say. Well, yes, Chad can. Did you also know he is retired from the Navy? I think he may have the boats, balance and water thing down better than Joe from down the street. Wildys can turtle too. All of them can.

I've seen a Hobie Pro Angler turtle and not in the ocean. It was on an calm day on a small lake. It's about the fisherman too, not just the kayak.

So what am I saying?

If you want to stand, here are some things to think about.

If you are standing on a sit on top kayak, you have to balance from your ankles up. That is a lot of core balance for a lot of people. If you are big in the shoulders or big in the belly, this is going to prove more difficult. Slight framed folks and shorter folks will generally have an easier time with this.

Think about balancing a broom handle, vertically on your palm. It's difficult, right? Add a tennis ball to the middle of the broom handle or to the top and it becomes more difficult. Weight across your body that is not evenly distributed (beer gut) will be more difficult to keep in balance when the balance point is further away.

So how do we make it easier? A few things.

Having a wider platform to stand on makes this easier. It is easier to balance when your feet are able to be shoulder width apart and slightly more. Most adults have a shoulder width wider than 20" so a deck that only allows 20" with a total kayak width of 28" will be more difficult to balance on. As the width of the total kayak gets wider, even if the deck isn't as wide it will become easier to balance. The ideal situation is a wide deck and a wide kayak. Finding a 28"+ wide deck with a 32" or larger total width will help.

Also consider the seat. More people that I have seen turtle have done so when getting into or out of the seat. A seat that is up off the deck will be easier to gain your balance. Is it easier to stand up from the floor or from a chair? The chair, right? Keep this in mind when shopping. Even a couple of inches gained is a big change.

What if we could change the balance point from your ankles? You can! The problem with kayaks is in most circumstances as they get wider, they get slower and more sluggish to paddle (the obvious exceptions are pedal and motorized kayaks). This is where hybrid kayaks come in. The Commander from Wilderness Systems and the Ultimate from Native are hybrid kayaks that are part sit in and part sit on. They look more like a canoe than a kayak to some (though the hull design is different). When you stand in one of these kayaks you have a sidewall to brace your leg against. This raises the balance point from your ankle to almost your knee. It's almost as if you've made yourself shorter. The amount of body you now have to balance is lessened and the 31" wide Commander offers more stability to most people than a 33" wide sit on top. Not only that but it generally paddles faster as well in the longer models.

Now that you are either confused, angry or nodding your head in agreement, let me offer a suggestion. If you want to stand and fish out of the kayak you are shopping for, stop looking at marketing material. Find a demo day near you or a get together or Boondoggle and go try to do this yourself. Find out how hard or easy it is to stand in all of the models you are looking at. Demo. Demo. Demo. If you absolutely can't do that and you have to shop online by specs and videos only, look at total width and width of the cockpit. The bigger they are the more stable. Is it a guarantee that you can stand? No. Will it be more likely? Yes.

It will almost always be easier to stand in a kayak that is 40" wide than one that is 20" wide. Just keep in mind the balance points and demo if at all possible and you should be good to go.

If you want to stand in a kayak, make sure you can before you buy it!

Three Fishing Techniques Everyone Should Try


Almost any fisherman you talk to has a confidence bait. Give them two hours to catch a fish on a lake they have never fished and usually, the first thing they throw will be the confidence bait. I have one. It's a four inch soft plastic from Hag's Tornado Baits, the F4. People who have fished with me know I throw this bait a lot. I really like two colors but the bait is the same (Watermelon/Chartreuse and Purple Haze for those wanting to know). I fish it on a split shot rig and have caught fish just about everywhere doing so. When conditions are tough I'll throw it and of course even when they aren't I'll throw it.

This year and last I have branched out some and started fishing baits and styles I had been hesitant to try in the past. All three of them have produced fish for me and I find myself using them more and more often. I am now of the opinion that everyone should give these a go if they haven't. With a little patience and time on the water, these three techniques will put fish in your kayak.

#1 Jigs


Lots of people fish jigs already but I am always surprised by how many don't. It takes some research, some patience and time on the water but jigs can produce big fish year round. There are several different types of jigs designed for different types of structure. For reference you can check out this article: Jig Styles

Find a good trailer that will help slow the descent in the water or cause a disruptance/gain attention. I use the Hag's Jr Undertaker with great success. It stands on end when submerged to imitate an attack stance of a crayfish. Others use similar craw imitations. If you are going to be swimming it, more like a spinnerbait, add a paddle tailed trailer.

What I have learned is to find an area that has good structure, right temp and depth for that time of year and bang your jig on every single stick, rock and piling in the area. Usually the fish will hit it on the fall or the first twitch. Don't lose faith. Keep practicing. You will catch fish.

Warbaits Slayer Swim Jig



#2 Drop Shot


Not too far removed from split shot rigs, this was an easy one for me to pick up. It is more finesse than a lot of people fish and if you are a cast and burn type of fisherman, this will take some getting used to. Put the weight below the hook, tie a special knot, add a small plastic and cast. Keep your line tight and either dead stick or lightly twitch. That's it. We could talk about it for days but in all actuality, look at the diagram below and give it a shot. Chances are you've got most of the stuff already.


Courtesy of netknots.com



#3 Swimbaits


When I say swimbaits, I am NOT referring to those little four inch, paddle tailed, hollow bodied soft plastics. While technically those are swimbaits, it's not what I am referring too. The swimbaits I am talking about are big, heavy and catch monsters. Well, at least they don't catch dinks as often (though they still can). It takes a special discipline to throw swimbaits. They range from $10-$400 in price, require special rods and reels to handle them and you could go weeks without a single bite. Some popular baits are the Huddleston Trout, 3:16 Wake Jr, MS Slammer, 21st Century Triple Trout, Spro BBZ, and Mike Bucca's Bull Shad. Of course there are others but most of these are very well known. Forums of people talking about nothing but swimbaits are becoming more and more abundant. The bait looks so big in your hand you wonder how some bass would ever eat it. You'd be surprised at what a bass will try to inhale. In the video below you'll see one of my first swimbait fish. I was throwing a white 7" MS Slammer. The bass crushed it after the first big twitch. It was only 13" long. I had reservations about throwing big baits until this happened. I found this creek on Lake Belton that wound way back and the only access was by foot. I decided to try it and bam! Fish on. Here is the video:



Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Try new things. Keep your confidence baits at home. One day one of these three may become your confidence bait!

Have another technique you think others should try? Tell them! Spread the love!

Got The Kayak! Now What?

Every year it happens. For the last decade that I have been around kayak fishing, Christmas brings a great new flood of people to the sport I love. Thousands of new anglers, looking for a way to get on the water or maybe a different way to get on the water, ask for and receive a kayak for Christmas.

Often times these gifted kayaks are not the $2,000 super decked out angler editions. They are sit-in or sit-on kayaks purchased at major chain stores. You know what? And hear me say this: THAT IS JUST FINE!

You don't need to have a BMW 7 Series car to drive on the highway and you don't need the Hobie Pro Angler 14 to get on the water. Would it be nice? Dang skippy. Is it necessary? Not even close.

I fished my first six, almost seven years out of a $200 sit in kayak from Academy Sports and Outdoors. And it was great. I fished differently then than I do now but every kayak owner fishes a little differently and some of that comes from the type of kayak they fish from. The important things to remember are safety, time on the water and customization to fit your needs.

These throngs of people often find their way to kayak forums and ask the same questions. That is when they get a good taste of what our sport is about. Sharing. More specifically, sharing information.

The questions typically revolve around accessories, where to try, and what is all this I hear about tipping over?

Today, I want to give you some of what I have learned both from the school of hard knocks and by others in the sport who have mentored me.

So I got a new kayak:

What accessories do I need? 


BB Angler Pro
PFD (Life Jacket)- Most people go straight for the paddle. The only reason I recommend a PFD first is safety. If you blow all of your money on a fancy paddle and end up paddling in an $8 PFD that fits like an albatross, you won't be paddling for long. Choose a good PFD and always wear it. Check out the NRS, MTI and Stohlquist PFDs. I also recommend a knife and a whistle to attach to the PFD so you can call for help or cut your way out of a tangle or hung anchor. If you are going to paddle at night, get a 360 degree light. The YakAttack Visicarbon Pro with Flag is a popular choice amongst kayakers everywhere.The PFD and whistle are legal requirements in Texas. The light is also if you are out at night.

Paddle- This is your motor. Use this paddle guide and find the right one for you. If you only have two upgrade things you can buy, they need to be a good PFD  and a paddle. That seems like a no-brainer but lots of people skimp on the first and sell their kayak shortly after from non-use. My favorite I just ordered is the Bending Branches Angler Pro in Sea Green (240cm).

Anchor Trolley- It seems strange to buy this before an anchor but believe me when I say you will be much happier if you do. An anchor trolley allows you to use a drift sock, stake out stick and anchor while positioning yourself to take advantage of the wind, not be a victim of it. This also will allow for a quick release if you get into trouble. This is the one I use. Inexpensive and easy to install.

Anchor- This is the most widely underpurchased item under $50. Anchors exist in all shapes and sizes. The most popular one is the collapsible anchor. If you are going to be in water eight feet deep or less, I suggest a YakAttack Park-N_Pole. It can double as a push pole, GoPro camera pole and many other things. Very versatile and it floats. It comes in three different lengths to fit exactly what your needs are.

Anchor Rope (and accessories)- Most anchors don't come with rope. If you are going to be fishing in any current or wind at all most people will recommend 2X the length of rope for the depth you are fishing. So if your fish are in 20 feet of water, you need at least 40 feet of rope. If you are fishing on the coast it is recommended 3X the depth. I like 3/16" rope but choose what you like. Just don't buy 1/16" rope and expect to raise a big anchor easily. While you are there in the rope section, pick up a carabiner and rope float to attach to these as well.

Super Nova Fishing Lights on my kayak
Rod Holders- These come in different varieties. You can get flush mount, rocket launchers, trolling rod holders for baitcasters and spinning, rail mount, and the list goes on and on. Look at some rigging pictures, sit in your boat, see where you can reach and then go buy one. Check out a Zooka Tube. They are my favorite rod holders.

Milk Crate- You can buy one or ask a retail grocer for one. Either way, you can strap this down to the back of most kayaks and hold tons of tackle and gear. You can also add some PVC to be additional rod holders. Cheapest investment you'll love forever. Eventually you may want to upgrade to a YakAttack BlackPak. This is the king of all packs to haul gear and hold rods.

LED Lights- This may not be first on your list but this is more than a night fishing accessory. If you buy good 5050 LED lights like SuperNova Fishing Lights, you are safer in low light to no light conditions. Folks will see you and you can see more too.

Everything Else-These things will get you going pretty well. After you have the above mentioned items, you should look at, in no particular order: a fish finder, stabilizers (depending on the kayak), drift sock, stake out stick, VHF handheld radio, scupper plugs (for sit on tops), waders, paddle gloves, really the list goes on and on.


Your fishing adventure is just that. Add things as you can and see what others are doing. Go to get togethers. Visit kayak shops like HOOK1 if you are in Oklahoma or Tennessee and Mariner-Sails if you are in Texas. Talk to guys who have years or even decades on the water. Talk to the new guys. See what's new, what's a need, what's a want and go for it. And if you buy something that doesn't work out, there is always the buy-sell-trade forums. Most of all, have fun and catch some fish!

Advent and Fishing: One Day

Though it's not always worn on my sleeve, I have a deeper, spiritual side. It's personal and not paraded. I realize people have many different beliefs and often association with religion has its own stereotypes that don't necessarily line up with my own beliefs. All that being said, if you're checking out the blog and Christendom is really not your thing, I understand. This is a kayak fishing blog and that's why you read it (I think). Today I have a guest post at thedailycake.org that is designed around the Advent season. I wanted to also post it here to share just a little bit of me. I'm usually pretty veiled with topics like this but it's important to say publicly how you feel now and again. Hopefully you'll see it as a look behind the curtain. We'll be back to regularly scheduled topics later this week. 


One day. One day I will catch that elusive fish.

For the better part of my life I have been a fisherman. For the last ten years it has been mostly from a kayak. Day in and day out, paddling, hauling gear, making casts and waiting has been my routine. Reel in, cast out and wait some more. Repeat the process several hundred times and the day is complete. Chasing a record setting fish seems like a lot of work for something that few believe will ever happen, especially from a kayak. It has a lot to do with my mode of transportation.

I’m not the pedigreed guy in the fast glitter boat. I’m the guy sitting on a piece of plastic, paddling through God’s country in search of something I’ve longed for. Day after day. The same thing. And it hasn’t happened yet. But it will. One day.

I don’t think it is coincidence that I often find God in the wilderness I trek. From the beautiful scenes of earth rushing to meet clear flowing streams to the Great Blue Herron stalking its dinner in the marsh, I see Him. The beauty of it all reminds me of Him. Every whisper through the wind calls out “I am here.” Every song from a bird, breeze from a wind and shade from a giant oak reminds me.

God has a special place in His heart for fishermen.  Who surrounded His Son during the deadliest three years of His life? Fishermen. They know the lulls. They practice patience on a daily basis though some are more excitable than others. (Admittedly I lean more toward a Peter temperament). Fishing soothes my soul. It connects me with God on a level that is hard to explain.  I paddle ever so slightly to take it all in.
Slowly soaking in the masterpiece of creation, I patiently wait for one.

The patience I must evoke while searching for the one record fish reminds me of James, telling Christ’s followers to be patient like the farmer waiting on the rains. It’s also akin to the thousands of years awaiting the first coming of the Savior that Isaiah told of. The excitement, the doubt, the second guessing and then faith triumphing in that manger truly must have made all that waiting and searching seem like seconds rather than centuries.

Christ was truly only with those who sought Him for three short years. All of that waiting to realize Him for a brief moment in time. A moment that made all the difference and is why we once again wait.
And as I continue to fish, awaiting the record, we Christians also wait. We are patient.  
I paddle on and you continue with your journey but we know. We all know.


He is coming!

Peer Pressure Kayak Purchases

Please stop.
Take a deep breath.
Count down from 10.

I'm going to save you some possible headache if you'll take 5 minutes and read this. I hope you take this advice to heart because I sure didn't. I've bone headed this scenario twice and finally learned my lesson. I'll try to save you the same trouble.

Here is how it starts:

Talking heads (yes me included), start telling you about all these cool new kayaks that are coming out. We show you fancy pictures. Then maybe you find a walk through video. "Man, that's a cool yak." You see some pretty cool features you like. "I might buy one of these!," you think while you try to figure out when the next lump sum of cash is coming in. Tax return? Christmas cash? Returning all the crappy gifts you got for your birthday and the three extra blenders from your wedding gifts.

Then you go look at the fishing forums. I wonder what the kayak guys think of this boat? So maybe you ask the question but you ask it too vaguely. Typing in "What do you think about a Great Fork Spearyak 13?" is too vague. What do you want to do in the kayak? What limitations do you have? I could go through a big long checklist here but I have already created it. Check it out:

Think about these questions and think about the answers specifically to the kayak you think is so cool. Does it fulfill my wants list? If so, it could be great. If not, better keep looking.

At this point you may be too deep in the hype and advertising to even listen. I know I was. I had decided that even though it wasn't everything I wanted and it might not deliver, I was going to buy Boat X. So I did. I bought into all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. While it is a very good kayak for some people, for me it was awful. I hated it. It didn't do what I wanted it to do, I felt some of the things talked about were oversold, and the hype sucked me in. I was more attracted to a brand name than the function. 

What could have avoided all of this headache? A demo. 

I should have paddled the kayak first. That would have told me everything I needed to know but I didn't. I was anxious, in a hurry and didn't want the deal to get away. Whoops.

People who own a certain brand will inherently recommend the kayak they paddle (or pedal). It says they really enjoy the kayak they have and it fits what they want to do. A little quieter are the people who don't really like what they are in but made a HUGE ordeal when they bought Boat X so now they are a bit bashful. Somewhere in that mix are people who are looking for something else but don't want to say anything because they so highly recommended a different boat. 

The plain truth is, sometimes when you think you know what you want, and then you go paddle it, you change your mind. The time to change your mind is BEFORE money changes hands. Getting recommendations will be easy but it will be diverse. If you are going to ask questions on a public forum, make them as specific as possible. 

"How does the Spearyak 13 handle in wind on large open water?"

That is a direct and specific question. 

Additionally, make sure the person giving you the advice/opinion has actually paddled the kayak you are talking about. I've had a couple of dozen people ask me about the Predator from Old Town. I have looked one over but have not paddled one. I am very upfront with that info and recommend whenever possible a person to talk to about it. 

I now find myself with a primary kayak that not a ton of fishermen in Central Texas are paddling. I own a Malibu Stealth 12. It met more of my wants and needs than any other kayak I looked at. I think several eyebrows were raised when I didn't get another Hobie or a Wildy but for the fishing I do across the state, salt, fresh, the way I transport, the specific places and ways I fish, this was the best kayak for me right now. Will I always be in it? Don't know. Was it a better decision than one I would have made three or four years ago? Dang skippy. 

All of that to say, if at all possible, please demo a kayak before you buy. If you need to find someone who might can help with that, message me on Facebook. I'll try to do my best to find you a shop or person within an hour or so that has that kayak. If nothing else, I can find you someone to talk to about it. 

Be smarter than I was and be happier in your kayak. Don't peer pressure kayak purchase. 


Baby It's Cold Outside




The Arctic Armageddon is covering most of the country at this point and while it's on everyone's mind, we should talk about survival. Many of us will venture out to fish in the cold because our water temps are still warm enough to not need an auger. In doing so, we need to be prepared.

Numerous articles give you info about how to layer, stay away from cotton, wool is your friend etc etc. If you need help deciding how to dress, please seek one of those articles out. It will be different for every region so I won't attempt to make a generalized list here.

What I do want to bring to the forefront is universal however. If you get swamped, submerged or turtle into the water, how long do you have before death can occur?

The PFD Manufacturers Association compiled all of the data and shared some scary numbers.

"Cold water (less than 70° F) can lower your body temperature, causing hypothermia. If your body temperature drops too low, you may pass out and then drown. The human body cools 25 times faster in cold water than it does in air."

Water that is just above freezing temps (32.5F) has a survival time of less than 15 minutes.
Water up to 40F slightly increases that time to 30 minutes.
Water from 40-60F (where most of our waters are now) can cause death in 1 hour. 
Water from 60-70F has a 2 hour time window. 
Above 70F is typically survivable from the temperature though exhaustion can set in and cause drowning. 


What this assumes is that you stay in the water. If you get soaked, then back up on your kayak and the wind is blowing, the water in your clothes will not stay at that temp. It'll drop like a rock. 

The best plans are to carry a change of clothes, have a buddy near by and if you do turtle, get your butt back to the car. Once there, strip down, towel off, put on the dry clothes and blast the heater. 

Don't be a statistic by being stubborn. If you get soaked, get out. 

Mariner Sails Website Updates



Don't you just love that new car smell? If the internet had come through on developing scratch and sniff you could experience the new website smell over at Mariner-Sails.com. Until then, you should go by and checkout the new look. 

So what's changed? For starters, the website is this nice, clean, easy on your eyes white which makes it easier to online shop for a few hours (guilty as charged). The search function has been upgraded to make sure you don't have to sift through hundreds of products to find the one you want. You also now have the options of shopping by vendor, part number or description. Not sure about a new product and how good it is? Check out the ratings that are listed on each product. Got something to say about a recent product you bought? Rate it and let others (and Mariner) know whether this is a good product or a not so great one. Look for the Rate This Product link. 

As if that's not enough, Mariner Sails is also the new clearing house for all kayaking events. Doing a fundraiser, tournament or get together? Let Mariner know and they'll post it up for all to see. It will definitely be nice to have one spot for all the Texas kayak activities info.

The cherry on top however is a new, upcoming Kayak Fishing Club. This is an all inclusive club (no tryouts or qualifiers needed) and will get you access to special purchase opportunities, special events and preliminary thoughts are it will be free to join. I'll have more info as the club develops but this is an exciting new addition to the many great things Mariner Sails is already doing for the kayak community. 

If you're a Mariner Sails customer already, let others know and share this on Facebook, forums, You Tube and other places where friends can let friends know how awesome it is to have a storefront and online presence like Mariner Sails and Mariner-Sails.com where you know you'll always get treated right and get the product you need. 

Minimum Kayak Requirements Inshore and Offshore

Special thanks to Josh Neumeyer for compiling all of this info. Josh is a seasoned kayak angler on both fresh and salt water. He has worked diligently to compile a succinct and easy to read list. Please read through these, know them and obey them. It could save your life or someone else's. 



Minimum Requirements for Kayaking in Texas

PFD (aka Lifevest) Requirements

  • You must have a Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on the kayak [TWSA Title 4 § 31.066(a)][CFR Title 33 § 175.15]
  • Children under the age of 13 must always wear their PFD [TWSA Title 4 § 31.066(b)][CFR Title 33 § 175.15(c)]
  • Type V PFDs must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's label to be legal [CFR Title 33 § 175.17(a)]
  • Inflatable PFDs may only be worn by adults over the age of 16 and weighing more than 80lbs [CFR Title 46 § 160.076]
  • All PFDs must be in good, serviceable condition without any cuts, tears, rotten material, etc [CFR Title 33 § 175.23]
  • All PFDs must fit each person properly [CFR Title 33 § 175.21]
  • Each PFD must be readily accessible to each person [CFR Title 33 § 175.19]

Distress Signaling Devices - Audible & Visual

  • On inland waters you are not required to have an audible signaling device [TWSA Title 4 § 31.073(a)]
  • On coastal waters you must have an audible signaling device capable of making efficient sound [USC Title 33 Chapter 34 § 2033(b)]
  • You are not required to have visual distress signaling devices on inland waters [TWSA Title 4 § 31.073(a)][CFR Title 33 § 175.5]
  • You are required to have USCG approved visual distress signaling devices suitable for night use when kayaking between sunset and sunrise on coastal waters [CFR Title 33 § 175.115]
  • Visual distress signaling devices must be readily accessible [CFR Title 33 § 175.120]
  • Visual distress signaling devices must be in serviceable condition [CFR Title 33 § 175.125]

Light Requirements

  • You must exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise in all weather [TWSA Title 4 § 31.064]
  • All-around white lights must be visible for 2 miles [USC Title 33 Chapter 34 § 2022(c)]

Registration and Numbering

  • Kayaks, regardless of length, do not have to be registered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.022(c)]
  • Kayaks, 14 feet or longer, equipped as a sailboat have to be registered and numbered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.022(c)]
  • Kayaks, regardless of length, equipped with a motor (electric or gas) have to be registered and numbered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.021(a)]
  • If you register and number your kayak know that there are more minimum requirements that apply than listed above

A New Kayak for $500?


Every week, if not every day, the kayaking bug strikes a new angler. Having the ability to get off of the bank without registrations (in most states), no gas to buy, and no winterizing to worry about lures many to try kayak fishing. The question that comes up so frequently it’s almost predictable is, “What kayak should I buy? I want to get into kayak fishing but don’t want to spend a ton of money.”

The vets grin. We know the process. We were all once there. We see it week after week. And just to be clear, we don’t mind the question. It means we have a new brother or sister joining the kayaking ranks soon. It’s a celebratory occasion.

This question prompts other questions from the potential answerers. How much is a ton of money to the asker? How will you be using it? Sit in or Sit on? Tons of questions. The answers help experienced kayakers guide the potential kayakers to the right choice. For today, I want to focus on the money.

More often than not, potential kayakers list $500 as the ceiling. “I want a good one but can’t (or don’t want to) spend more than $500”.  Ok. $500. The problem is that the $500 is for just the kayak. Time to raise the ceiling. You need more than that to be legal on the water. In Texas, you need a PFD and a whistle for daytime paddling. Add a 360 degree light for night trips. If you are buying a kayak for $500, it is going to be the paddling kind, not the pedaling kind so throw in a paddle for your purchase. The $500 ceiling is strained now. The dreams of a new store bought kayak are either fading or your budget is expanding. Let’s sharpen the pencil and look at the breakdown.

With all the things you will need for just daytime kayaking, if you go to a store and buy all the minimum needed gear, your $500 kayak is going to run you just over $650. If you’re set on only spending $500, for all the gear, you are going to have to purchase a kayak for $375 or less.

Maybe you should look at a used kayak. Maybe not. That’ll be a choice you will have to make. Just know that there is more to kayaking than just the kayak.

If you still have questions, shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help point you in the right direction. paynefish@gmail.com
Older Posts Home