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Kayak Fishing Superstitions | Do They Float Your Boat?

I was sitting in Kentucky Lake’s Ginger Bay eating a banana when I learned I was not supposed to eat a banana in a boat. 

I was also catching bass on topwater during a snowstorm on the same trip… so I’m not sure I really believe in that superstition, or any for that matter.  

Since that trip, I’ve learned that there are many superstitions surrounding boats. Before my research, I had no idea that telling someone good luck was bad luck. Try telling Kristine Fisher it is bad luck to have a woman onboard the next time she is beating everyone else. 

Kayak Fishing Superstitions(1)

Jean Wilson even has a custom banana mount for her ride!

And how do you explain to every red-haired person that they are doomed before they launch? Anyone whistling on board is extremely annoying and distracting, but bad luck? Dolphins good, sharks bad — well, that that seems like more of a statement on the reality of the food chain. And I love a red sky in the morning or at night – it is just kind of cool.

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: My ‘Behaviors’

I like to call them my behaviors. There are a couple that I follow for each tournament. 

Having my duck on the boat – it was given to me by my wife, so it is a part of her with me always. 

Before each launch, I say “here we go” out loud as I push off from the ramp.  

It was the way I set up my gear that allows me to follow steps while launching: step in the boat with your right foot. It just naturally forces it, so I got lucky. (Oh wait, can I say lucky without being unlucky … maybe if I am on the couch and not the kayak?)  

I named my boat for fun, so I am not “tempting the seas” in an unnamed vessel. And, as much as I love what I named my first Hobie (BoHobien Rhapsody), I have refused to rename it. (Or use that name again … so maybe I am superstitious?) But the reason I don’t launch on Fridays has nothing to do with it being a bad idea… it has to do with bad career choices that have left me working much later in life than I meant — and I can’t always get off on Friday.  

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: My ‘Wasted Cast’

I was a bit surprised to find out how many of you make a “wasted” cast away from your intended target before you officially consider yourself fishing the event. It seems that this is a highly copied behavior along the kayak trails. Not sure if there is a superstition involved, but there seems to be a very strong tradition among many anglers.

Marlin Cassady explained this a bit.  

“I always do a short cast for my first cast. Seems like every time I catch a fish on the first cast, the rest of the day is slow. So, I short-cast and reel it in fast.”

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: The ‘Ignored Leaderboard’

I never look at the leaderboard during the day. Not sure of everyone else’s reasoning, but for me it was the added pressure of knowing.  

Brian Aliff agreed.  

“I never look at the leader board or check my placement. Not sure it’s a superstition but I don’t want to know, it adds an element of pressure, and the stress makes me make mistakes I could otherwise avoid. I can deal with bananas if they’re in chip form.”

Not looking at the leaderboard can be hard with so much social media and texts. All of your friends want to encourage you, but some of us don’t want to hear it! I had to tell my wife not to even call, because I can hear how I am doing in her voice.

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: Some Other Superstitions

Matt Spencer

“I pour a little of my coffee onto the floor of my kayak and let it drain out so the fish can wake up and have a nice trail of coffee scent.”

Chris Condor

“Don’t have my first ‘on-the-water dip’ until after the first fish. Or whenever I start fiending with withdrawals, whichever comes first.”

George Nemeth

I have a dedicated spot for one particular rod that never changes. Where the rest go don’t really matter and they’re roughly in the same areas day after day but the finesse jig rod is in the same place every time.

My main superstition is I always pay the ramp launch fee and have a current fishing license. It seems not everyone is as superstitious as I am on that subject but that’s my biggest one. Karmically speaking, I can’t afford any bad juju and not paying my couple bucks seems like a great excuse for the universe to spit the hook on me. (NOTE:  This is actually on the top ten list if you google “superstitions”… pay your debts!)

Nathan Hartley

Sometimes I will go out on an empty stomach as if I’m trying to live off the land or something. Funny enough though I’m strictly catch and release. So it’s just psychological I guess.

Then there is Ryan Marshall who has to kiss every fish. Having met him, not sure that is so lucky for the fish.

And Ron Himmelhaver has a fish dance.

“Super secret, mystical dance that was passed down to me by my father.”

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: As For Mine

I’m not superstitious. I don’t walk under ladders because stuff may fall. I don’t break mirrors because I am fairly certain it increases your chances of being cut. 

And spilt salt should be cleaned up. But if you throw it over your shoulder, couldn’t that just increase the chances of folks walking behind you slipping on it?  

But … is there something to all of this?  

I don’t know. I did learn that looking like a pirate is a good thing, so maybe that night in my late teens when I got drunk and pierced my earlobe with a corsage pin was good. My parents definitely did not share the belief that I had done a good thing – but then they were not seafaring (ok, kayak bassin’) folks. 

And I did catch myself looking for a cat to sit beside my duck on Amazon for the next season after reading all of this.

Just like the fact that I shouldn’t have been throwing a Rapala Skitterpop in a snowstorm (but I was catching fish), I cannot un-know anything I learned!  

So, this is the outfit I am considering for 2020.

Kayak Fishing Superstitions(2)

 

What are your kayak fishing superstitions?

Micro Jig Fishing | Up Your Game With the MISSILE Micro Jig

As more and more anglers hit the water these days, we are constantly in pursuit of new ways to outsmart the ever evolving bass. Finesse tactics have long been the remedy and seem to still be the frontrunner in cracking the code when it comes to catching overly pressured fish. 

One finesse bait that has taken the bass fishing world by storm over the last few years is the Ned rig. 

A lightweight jig head rigged with 2 or 3-inches of soft plastic, the Ned rig is about as intimidating as a chihuahua and extremely effective. 

Micro Jig Fishing(1)

But what if you wanted to dress it up just a bit? Enter, the MISSILE Jigs IKE Micro Jig

Micro Jig Fishing with John Crews

The Micro Jig is basically a Ned Rig with a skirt on it,” said John Crews, owner of MISSILE Baits and MISSILE Jigs. “It doesn’t replace the Ned rig, but it’s a good compliment to it.

The similarities in the head design of the Micro Jig and Ned rig are evident at first glance. The 90 degree eye of the jig and the overall compactness of the bait quickly place the two presentations in a similar category.

How Does Micro Jig Fishing Differ?

When you start fishing it slow and that little teeny skirt flairs out, there’s just nothing else artificial that small that has that flair to it. And that is exactly what a crawfish does when it feels threatened.

If you’ve ever seen a crawfish in a creek or tank or even on video, you’ve seen that moment Crews mentions here. The moment when running is no longer an option and the crawfish’s last resort is to try to look as big as possible. 

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“But a little 3-inch crawfish can only get so big. He can flare his claws out all he wants, but a 2-pounder is just going to wolf him down. I think that’s just a natural defensive motion that bass see a crawfish do all the time and that’s what makes it so effective.”

As is the case with most finesse techniques, where you gain in performance, you lose in efficiency. Though usually when it comes to finesse techniques and a tough bite the exchange is worthwhile.

Because of the compact size, it’s not the most efficient bait to cover water with by any means. But there are times it’ll out-fish a dropshot and a lot of other finesse techniques.

Crews recommends using whatever gear you usually throw a shaky head on for the Micro Jig. 

You’ve gotta be able to put a little wood to them on the hook set. So you can go too light on the rod if you’re not careful. And I put it on 12-pound Sunline Xplasma braid to an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Micro Jig Fishing: Great in Challenging Conditions

Crews says the bait works really well around sparse cover. Isolated laydowns, stickups and short rocky bluffs all represent good targets for the Micro Jig.

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And it works really well in current. 

It’s really, really good in current. I’ve caught a ton of smallmouth in little streams around the house just letting it wash around in the current.

So if you find yourself faced with challenging conditions this winter due to overly pressured fish, cold water temps or whatever the case may be and you’re tired of all the same ole finesse techniques, give the Micro Jig a try. Fire it around isolated cover, fish it slow and don’t be afraid to lean into them a bit when setting the hook. Maybe you’ll find yourself a new clean-up bait to add to the arsenal.

Opening a Can of [Motor] Worms | The Kayak Motor Debate

Can I be honest for a minute? 

I am going to open up a can of worms so we can start a (hopefully) healthy conversation in our community. Actually, I am not opening the can, it has been opened already with the introduction of larger electric kayak motors.

The debate about whether we should allow trolling motors in kayak tournaments already has anglers on both sides of the fence, eliciting responses ranging from apathy to anger. But, with all of the new (higher profile) trails, having and using motors on kayaks is about to get more attention in the kayak world due to ratings on certain kayaks. And the safety implications of the larger motors.

Let’s Kick Off This Kayak Motor Debate

Now, I know that this is not going to sit well on social media (I’m already seeing posts in my mind as I write this) – especially those who have already invested in motors and are arguing that “mine is OK” or “mine has no rating so it is OK” – but the kayak ratings labels are not consistent or always clear as to what motor is acceptable. 

And even bigger — with very few exceptions — the kayaks documentation does not specify how or where to install a motor.  

That is why I called it a can of worms… and after the last couple of weeks they are out and I don’t think they are going back into the can.  

I am going to be upfront where I stand:  I wish we didn’t allow motors at all. (Unless an angler has a documented condition that requires them to use the motor.)

Kayak Motor Debate: Safety and Regulation

I love the Hobie BOS events for this fact… but I am not naive enough to think that since they have been allowed on certain trails that their use will ever be discontinued. I wrote an opinion on this topic and ended it with the fact that I will eventually move toward a motor too. So, now (in my mind) the conversation needs to shift toward safety and regulation.  

How many of you have pedaled up on standing timber that was just below the surface and felt your kayak starting to roll? 

At a paddle or pedal pace, you have time to react. Now picture that same treetop with your kayak skipping across the water at 5 or 6 or more mph… would you still have that time to react?  Would that additional speed push you past a tipping point and dump you? With these motors, should we be required to use a kill switch?  These are all questions I’ve been asking myself.

Kayak Motor Debate: The Legalities

Then the next question, who is at fault? I had this conversation with a fellow kayaker:

“I mean if I make a vehicle and put a tow rating of 5,000-pounds on it and you crash towing 10,000-pounds, you are at fault. If I don’t say the vehicle has a tow rating but offer a hitch when I sell it, I’d assume I’d be liable if something happened. Is that not the same thing here?”  

I do not have a crystal ball, nor am I an expert on the subject. But I do work in a highly regulated industry and am very aware of the documentation and standards that must be followed to eliminate (or just define) liability and keep the consumers (and the companies) safe.  

So, the first time someone is injured because Pat Kayaker exceeded the capacity of their ride by placing a large motor on a garage-rigged mount in a nationally viewed kayak event, we are all going to get some unwanted attention.

So I have this question for y’all. 

Who Regulates the Kayak Industry and Safety Standards for Propulsion via Kayak Motors?  

Just because the rules say I can have a certain horsepower, or pounds of thrust, is it OK to strap it to any kayak in any manner and blast across a lake? Is it safe?

Just ‘cause you can, should you?

Mine has a 400W rating. That means I cannot attach a larger motor and be compliant. Does that mean a DQ at check-in when I use a motor that exceeds the ratings?  

It seems that answer is yes — at least for KBF.

KBF Rules on Kayak Motors  

Unless specifically prohibited on the Event Page, use of a single electric propulsion unit per watercraft in KBF-sanctioned competition is approved with the following restrictions:

  1. Competitors must comply with all boating regulations pertaining to motorized kayak/electric-propulsion watercraft registration, use, and operating restrictions for the designated fishing area. Violation will result in disqualification from the Event.
  2. Electric motor used to propel a watercraft:
  3. must be attached to the kayak in a safe manner for operation, and
  4. may not exceed the lesser of (a.) manufacturer’s labeled Maximum HP/Thrust Capacity, (b.) 3 HP, or (c.) 155 foot-pound thrust. Violation of either condition will result in disqualification from the Event.

And it seems true for BASS in some capacity, they just exclude the final sentence that a violation will definitely result in DQ, so it is not as clear.    

B.A.S.S. Rules on Kayak Motors

Penalties for rules violations may include the following:

  1. Reduction of competition hours as determined by the Tournament Director.
  2. Loss of one or more fish caught in potential violation of rules or regulations.
  3. Disqualification from the tournament in question.
  4. Disqualification from future B.A.S.S. events, which may be from a specific number of events, a specific period of time, or may be a lifetime disqualification.
  5. Any different or additional penalties determined by the Tournament Director including but not limited to monetary fines and/or reduction of points towards championship qualification. 

So, it seems that the rules state it is not OK to exceed ratings in tournaments if your boat came with a label from the manufacturer.  If it doesn’t, I am guessing that will reach some level of clarity soon enough.

What Side of the Fence are YOU on?

2020 KBF The TEN Recap | Kayak Bass Fishing Kissimmee, Florida

“Hosted by Kissimmee Sports and Experience Kissimmee, the 2020 KBF Dee Zee The TEN pitted KBF’s top 11-12 anglers of 2019 in a two-day fish-off on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Florida.  This event is invitation only. Eligible competitors ranked among the top 10 (this year 11 due to a three-way tie for tenth) in the 2019 KBF Angler of the Year points race.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Going ‘All Out’

All of the competitors praised Chad Hoover, Scott Beutjer, and the sponsors for how well the event was run. From the accommodations, to the meals prepared each day, then lunch for the next day — there was not one angler who felt that KBF and the sponsors did not go all out.  

Derek Brundle, the 2019 KBF Rookie of the Year, was very excited about how KBF treated him. 

I had heard about what being a part of the TEN was like, but it was way beyond what I imagined. Catered meals every night, boxed lunches and snacks, tons of stuff on your beds, Yeti coolers, Dee Zee boxes, Columbia gifts, Yak attack stuff, Ketch boards, an Anglr Bullseye, just so much stuff.

Rus Snyder echoed Derek.  “The experience was just over the top! Chad and everyone just took care of everything. Usually that is a pain in the butt, coming off the water, getting ready and then finding food and all that stuff. I didn’t have to worry about that at all! Just getting that extra time, and it was like everyone had their own king size bed – like each had a big hotel suite.

2020 KBF The TEN: Sworn to Secrecy

It makes me want to work harder to be in the TEN… but I am not going to lie, this was the most difficult recap I have ever tried to put together. With one or two exceptions, the anglers were as tight lipped about where they were fishing as a Florida strain bass that was shipped to the arctic circle and dropped in a pool of water.  

There was information that was said to me, that I promised not to publish leaving me feeling like I had just heard confessions that I must now take to the grave. Then the next guy would tell me “he was at this lake…I was next to so and so… yeah, I talked to them while I was pre-fishing the spot he won in” but I already had promised to keep that information secret.  

A redacted account of my interviews would leave the page looking like a top secret document released to the public… maybe leaving page numbers visible. So I am going to write little about where, some about how – and not much about anything!

Rus was slow to release anything about the event.  

I gave some of the smaller lakes a chance… not sure I want to mention the lake. This lake, well, I don’t want to say that either — so, just call it one of the smaller lakes. Right before I got there — well, this is off the record too…

Then Rus gave me one of the best lessons in fronts, Florida and bass fishing far down south. But the lesson was off the record — sorry.

Ken Wood explained why he didn’t want to talk much about it during his cryptic answer.

When asked “Where did you fish the Ten?”, he replied: “.…..uhhhhh…I really don’t want to say, but uhhhh … there were some unique spots there. But they are coming back here, and just in case I make it to the TEN next year — I told everyone where I fished Lake George, and I wish I had not, so I would rather not talk about it.

And there it was. They have confidence (or hope at least) that they will make it back there next year and want to keep their secrets secret.

Even newcomer Allen Sweat from Florida didn’t want to talk. He had won the Tenvitational fishing one of the “secret lakes”, and though I did find out later the name of that lake and who had fished around him… well, a promise is very important to me so I ain’t telling!

2020 KBF The TEN: Here’s What I Can Tell You

The event was run in conjunction with the Tenvitational which saw 32 anglers, plus seven already qualified for the Ten. The winner, if not already a member of the Ten, would become the 11th man (twelfth this year due to a tie) and compete for the top spot.

Several Anglers in the Ten did not fish the Tenvitational. Instead, they used the opportunity to get in some extra time pre-fishing.  

Cody Milton commented on the decision.  

I didn’t fish the Tenvitational. Most of us at the top didn’t; it gave us more time on the water because we didn’t have to get off the water. They had to leave at three, and we kept searching. It was tough, but you got more bites early in the morning, then late in the afternoon. And if you found them in the afternoon, they were there in the morning.

Rus Snyders shared his feelings also.

I felt like it was going to be smarter to not focus on being in a tournament and focus on eliminating water. Several of us decided to not do it because it allowed us to go back later in the afternoon on the first day of the Tenvitational and expand on what was found earlier — develop more patterns.

But one angler was in it, trying to get the top spot and a place in the Ten.

2020 KBF The TEN: Allen Sweat’s Tenvitational Recap

Allen Sweat, who would eventually finish 6th in the Ten won the Tenvitational to get the final spot.

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“I was actually running late on the last day of the Tenvitational, so I pulled my kayak up under some palms and in some reeds, and ran to make the check-in time! They were telling me we need you at the TEN house and I was like I have to go back and get my kayak. All my stuff is there!”

Born and raised in Athens, Georgia, Alan has lived in West Palm Beach, Florida for 20 years. He is a father of four children who fishes when family and work affords him the opportunity.  

“I work in finance for the aerospace industry and had to make some calls on Friday after I won the Tenvitational because I really didn’t expect to win. I had to move some stuff around. I have been bass fishing since I was twelve, but I am brand new to kayak fishing. I fished BFL, club-level, non-boater, team tournaments, etc. Last year, I basically fished challenges down here in Florida. I saw Kissimmee as an opportunity to step up and fish a larger event.

I pre-fished one day a couple of weeks before the tournament, then fished three days before the start of the Tenvitational. I spent most of that on Kissimmee, but it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t get a good read, the water color was just a little off. I went back to the spot that I had fished two weeks before, I had actually caught one close to 9-pounds.  

“Basically, during pre-fishing the fish were more up spawning or in a real strong pre-spawn stage. I caught them on a black and blue jackhammer with a gambler trailer. I caught ‘em good doing it.  

“During the tourney, it was warm, then it was cool in the morning and then the wind would lay flat. For me, I thought it was bad being from Florida. I had to slow down and catch them with a black and blue Gambler Fat Ace in a 6- and 7-inch length. 

“It wasn’t dead fishing, but I was hitting isolated clumps of Kissimmee grass… just slow, painful fishing — the kind everyone hates when they come to Florida.

I knew that I was in an area with fish, so I didn’t leave — I just kept grinding. When the wind would blow, I went back to the chatterbait and caught some. I kept trying topwater but it never happened. I would catch my last fish at the last minute. On the last day of the TEN, I only caught five fish.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Brad Case’ Recap

Brad Case, fifth place finisher, went down on the 20th to get ready.  

“Pre-fishing I caught, one… I caught two… everybody was saying ‘I caught 10 and 15’… I just said ‘go ahead. Keep catching them! Burn your spots!

On day one I fished the same place that Matthew Scotch was fishing and it was supposed to be my primary. And I knew there wasn’t going to be any boats or air boats because the ramp was closed. The night before the TEN started, I was lying in bed thinking that I had gone to one spot, made three casts and caught one fish and I said that is where I am going tomorrow, and finished 2nd on day one in the Tenvitational. 

And then I went to a different spot. Everyone asked why I was leaving fish and I said I am saving them for the TEN.

So day two of the Tenvitational, I went back to the spot where Allen Sweat was fishing and he was struggling. Ken Wood was also there and he was struggling with only three fish. I turned around and Allen caught four in the last twenty minutes!”

(Brad did tell where this was, but since I was asked not to tell, I will not say it out loud… but I will not forget it either.)

“Everyone thought I messed up and didn’t do too well.”

But Brad had just left fish for the TEN. He finished 6th day one and 3rd day two, ending up fifth overall throwing a white chatterbait with a little orange in it.  

Brad said he could see the fish.

Sometimes they wouldn’t hit the chatterbait. I would throw it on the shore and pull the bait off the shore and they wouldn’t touch it. But I would throw that worm and they would nail it. I would throw it up in the muck. I was using a Texas rigged X-Mas colored Gambler worm with an 1/8 ounce weight.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Cody Milton’s Recap

Cody Milton, the fourth-place finisher, was a bit more open about what he was seeing and where.  

“I saw a lot of shiner guys within a 200-yard stretch. I saw a 9-12 caught, two sevens, a six something and 15-20 five pounders. For every 10 fish they caught I might get one bite.

I was on a giant grass spot on Kissimmee. It was really messed up, the water color in 95 percent of the lake was horrible. There were a few different areas where the water was really clear. But they were all a long way from the ramp. I went from 3-4 inch clarity to 3-4 foot with beds everywhere. It is a pretty famous spot on Kissimmee. I planned to get on one or two bed bites, and that just didn’t happen.

Day two, I got a strong west wind, and I was on the east side of the lake. And by 8 a.m. it was just as chocolate as the rest of the lake. It created a spot about a ¼ mile from where I was where the water was gin clear.  I caught way more fish on day two, but never caught a female. I probably caught 20-30 fish on day two. I thought if I could get 8-9 good bites a day I could have caught 90-plus inches both days.

I thought the conditions were going to be better. I thought I was going to wear them out on a spinnerbait. But I caught them on a senko and a swimming worm.

You had to pitch the senko right at the edge of the grass or pads and let the wind pull it in, or throw it back in a little bit.

The wind got so strong that I was pedaling, Torqueedo’ing’, and paddling… dead into the west wind. I had to bail water twice as I headed across the lake, the wind was 20-25 miles an hour.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Derek Brundle’s Recap

Third place went to Derek Brundle, the KBF 2019 Rookie of the Year who is going to be a guy to watch in the future. He left Massachusetts on Saturday morning, driving out of 28-degrees to find himself in 58 degrees on Sunday morning. Brundle, Rob Pagnano and Matt Conant had driven through the night and slept at Toho Marina till the sun came up.

“We went down Saturday morning before the tournament. I wanted to leave Friday, but I had to do a show with New Canoe. We got to Toho Marina at 3:45. I crashed for an hour and a half and woke to a big bass tourney staging for the day.

We headed over to Richardson’s fish camp and launched from there. The weather was good. Pre-fishing for me that first day was terrible, I only caught a single 14-inch fish. Rob and Matt did well, they were excited because they were fishing the Tenvitational.

On the second day, we went down to Kissimmee and launched out of the state park and found some decent fish. We all caught fish there.

We planned to use Tuesday to decide if we were going to fish there or at least narrow down the spots.  Everyone else seemed to be going other places, so we had either place to ourselves.

I went as far south on Kissimmee as possible on Tuesday and found some fish. My buddies did not. I told them that we can fish the Tenvitational wherever, but that we were going to this spot for the ten.

We started at Kissimmee state park, but it was a gamble. You had to wait for it to open, then we had to get off the water early to make it to check in.

Day two, I told them to pick. I was just scouting. We went back to Richardson’s fish camp and I headed south, they headed north. My day started out slow, I ran into Casey Reed and we ate lunch and talked about how it was all going.

I found some reed patches and hydrilla based off a conversation with Casey… I caught my personal best there — around 9-pounds. I was just looking down and happened to see it. I drifted off and hit my pinpoint GPS and started fishing it… threw a senko in there 30-50 times. 

She picked it up once and dropped. It had been 35 minutes. I threw my chatterbait next to the bed and was just running it past her trying to get her to react. I saw her getting agitated. Now she will bite something. I had tied on a VMC spinshot with a 3.5-inch Castaic jerky jay with a 2-inch leader down to the drop shot, it looks like a little shiner or something. I pitched it in and as soon as it hit the bottom it bowed my rod.

2020 KBF The TEN(2)

And It was the lightest rod I have with the biggest fish I had ever seen. She took off toward the pencil reeds. I grabbed the spool on my spinning reel with one hand and leaned back with the rod in the other hand. It was only 10-pound test, so I figured I was going to lose her. For some reason she just turned and started swimming into open water. 

I started to net her and she dove straight to the bottom and I thought I was going to lose the biggest fish I ever hooked! 

I caught almost everything on a white chatterbait. I was throwing the jackhammer but they wouldn’t hit it, so I switched to the cheap ones and they started hitting it.

I guess it was the different vibration or frequency, but I was catching a lot of fish. Most of my fish were within a foot of the kayak.”

Derek ended up second in the Tenvitational.

“I went south to Kissimmee. I had in my mind that I was going back down to the spot I had found. The average was 16-plus. And I had caught a 21-incher as well. The conditions had not been right there, with 25 mph winds and muddy water. I heard that you had to be in clear water, but I caught 25-plus fish just running the banks, so I thought that I had found something special. The film guys were following me a bit… with Beutjer and Jensen. And the fish turned off.

What had happened was that the water went flat slack. I started bouncing around and they started hitting a senko on Kissimmee grass flats. After that, I put everything down and started throwing the senko. It was just one of those magical days. I ended fourth after day one.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Brundle’s Day Two

“On day one I was heading out and saw a school of fish off to my right. And I threw in and caught one on a chatterbait. I decided to save it for day two.

I turned on my side scan and the fish were still there… so it was lights out for the first hour. I caught 30-40 fish! Then, I went a long time without any bites.

I caught one flipping some lily pads, and they started again. I lost a good one right before I had to leave. Probably seven or eight pounds!

2020 KBF The TEN: Ken Wood’s 2nd Place Finish

Ken Wood, in his second TEN appearance, would finish 2nd by dropping all he had learned in pre-fishing during the Tenvitational and taking a risk.

2020 KBF The TEN(3)

The lake I fished for the TEN I hadn’t pre-fished it at all. After day two the lake I fished at the Tenvitational, I didn’t like my chances at all. I was in ninth… but two inches out of first. I was catching them on a chatterbait throwing up into the slop, some on spinnerbaits.

“Day two I only caught three fish and it took me all day. I should have stayed on my spot longer, but I am glad I didn’t because I don’t think I would have done well. I knew I did not want to go back there.

I picked a random lake I had not even pre-fished. I didn’t do well on any of the lakes I had pre-fished, so I looked at this one and it looks good. I didn’t hear anyone talk about it, so it was either good or bad.

Day one I still caught most of them on a chatterbait. Rocky Ledge Tackle out of New Hampshire, makes a spinnerbait that I was using as well. It is like a swimming spinnerbait, the wire and the head are separate, it causes it to go through the water like a crankbait.

I had one fish at 9 AM then lost one at 11 AM which crushed my spirits a bit. I was fishing a spot that looked like someone had cut out a spot to water the cows and I caught a 12-inch dink. I told myself that if I had to catch dinks I didn’t care. I was fishing in 6-inches of water as I moved back into the pocket. I caught a 12.75, then a 17-something and on the way out I caught a 20-incher on a spot that I had passed on the way in. I moved to similar spots — and I caught a ton of fish.”

2020 KBF The TEN: And The Winner Is – Rus Snyders

In the end, 2019 AOY Rus Snyders continued his winning streak by taking first at the 2020 KBF The TEN.

“I was there the Sunday before the tournament. Sunday and Monday a bunch of us just crashed a house with Jody Queen and some other folks until the TEN house was open.

Sunday afternoon I fished out of Toho marina and got skunked.

I talked to some of the guys and learned that some of the smaller lakes had as much or more potential than the bigger lakes. The Kissimmee chain just had a Bassmaster Opens event there the week before with 200 boats and it got hammered. The first couple of days of pre-fishing was behind a cold front. Only got a few bites, but found one area where I got several bites.  

The rest was one bite here, one bite there.

I heard a lot about Kissimmee, I know there are big fish in this lake. But it is just so big, so I moved back to the smaller lakes.

On day one, I had the area pretty much to myself, catching them early on weightless flukes in areas where bass boats would not be able to get too.

I started punching through some weeds and then there was a field of lily pads. It was hard catching them out there, because there were just so many. The key to the lily pad bite was being super stealthy. I would stake down and fan cast, starting ten feet around the kayak, then twenty — then I would kind of move a little more. I was spooking bass. As soon as I saw that, I would just sit, look at the scoreboard and wait before making casts.

I was changing colors a lot with the water clarity and light. I was throwing creature baits – I kept a bunch of colors at my feet.  If the water was clear, I would throw a green pumpkin with some sparkles… then if it got overcast I would throw darker colors. Not sure it made a difference, but I kept doing it.

On the second day, I was worried I had caught all of my fish. Pre-fishing I was seeing a lot of fish. Went back, and it was a steady rain, started off with a fluke. The first three fish I caught were 18-plus inches. And I could tell they were not the same fish I saw during pre-fishing.  

I fished a log that I had bumped one day, I dropped my bait over the spot and a 7-plus pounder did a cartwheel over the log, but he wasn’t hooked. I threw right back in there and it hit it again. I couldn’t believe it.

It got caught up on the log. It was right under my kayak, but the log was 7 feet away. I finally got it loose and it was a 21.75 and close to seven pounds.

Then I went out into the pads and still needed to cull. I would go a while with no bite, then get several. I went back into the shallow later and got 20-plus.

This was the first tournament that I caught over 100 inches!”

2020 KBF The TEN: Leaderboard

2020 KBF The TEN(4)

It was extremely fascinating to talk with the top KBF anglers of 2019, and like I said earlier, very difficult to put together a recap. The confidence that these guys have—almost knowing they will be back next year—kept them from telling me much… but it didn’t stop them from taking the top spots. 

How to Fish Professionally | What’s the Best Path?

How to fish professionally… that’s an interesting question.

And not to skirt the question, but it is one that has several different answers for different anglers. Furthermore, I’m not sure that I have the best track record for answering this question… I had the same question posed to me over the phone by a young angler during an interview regarding his recent BFL All-American win about 10 years ago.

He was a young guy and I had just wrapped up a pretty eventful college career. So when he asked me if he should fish the college trails or roll the dice and go straight to the FLW Tour, I told him he’d be crazy not to fish the college fishing circuit. It was way less expensive and by far the easiest route at the time to either the Bassmaster Classic or the Forrest Wood Cup. 

How to Fish Professionally

Well his name was Jacob Wheeler and his “crazy decision” to jump into the Tour resulted in him winning the Forrest Wood Cup the following year on Lake Lanier in 2011… so yeah, maybe I don’t know the best route to becoming a professional angler. 

How to Fish Professionally | Are You in High School? 

If you’re in high school and have the slightest interest in becoming a professional angler one day, get into the high school fishing scene. 

That wasn’t around when I was in school. I was lucky enough to have a dad who fished and was able to teach me a lot. But high school fishing is a great base for a young angler to grow competitively.

As long as you actually do try to grow and don’t rely solely on your boat captain to find fish for you and do everything but set the hook and reel them in.

That is not beneficial to your growth as an angler. It will ultimately result in you becoming dependent on information and you’ll burn out as an angler when that information dries up later in your career. 

How to Fish Professionally | Dive into the College Fishing Scene

If you are college aged, definitely get into the college fishing scene.

Sure, I shot and missed with Jacob Wheeler, but chances are you’re not Jacob Wheeler, sorry, those are just the odds. People like Jacob are few and far between to say the least. But I do know a guy who fished the college trail and went on to win two Bassmaster Classics — my former partner and Auburn Bass Club teammate Jordan Lee. He is pretty good too and college fishing was the right route for him. 

How to Fish Professionally(2)

If you can compete in the college fishing ranks, you can compete in the pros. 

That has been proven time and time again over the last decade. You can always dabble in other competitive circuits while you’re still in college as well. I did that with the BFL’s and then the Everstart (now Toyota) Series and had some success. (Look at what Cody Huff just did, winning the Toyota Series event on Toledo Bend while still finishing up his senior year of collegiate fishing.)

There are some sticks competing in the college ranks, more now than ever. So college fishing is a great route if you’re in that age group, but certainly no cake walk.

How to Fish Professionally | “You Have to Put in the Work”

And there is no cake walk to the pro level if that’s what you’re looking for. Sure you can still jump right into the FLW Pro Circuit if you have the money, but if your skill set doesn’t measure up, you’ll get your teeth kicked in.

You have to put in the work.

The Bass Federation, B.A.S.S. Nation, BFLs and ABAs are all great options locally, along with a whole host of others for an angler to see if he or she has what it takes to compete. If you can dominate locally, there’s a great chance you can at least compete and cash checks nationally. 

How to Fish Professionally | Try the Mid-Level Events

There’s the FLW Toyota Series and the Bassmaster Opens.

How to Fish Professionally(1)

You may find the same to be true that I saw with my fishing. I actually fish better on the road than I do locally. Around the house, I’ll get in a rut and find myself fishing old milk runs with FOMO should I run new water. But when I travel to lakes that I don’t know that well, I find myself competing better while in pursuit of what those fish are doing on that exact day. 

How to Fish Professionally | Best Route? It Depends

So the best route to becoming a professional angler really depends on the angler. And we should also take a look at what defines a “professional angler.

I recently wrote a piece discussing the overlooked “local pro” route for Wired2Fish documenting Alabama hammer Michael Smith. Smith has likely profited more by fishing around the house over the last few years than 60% of the touring national pros.

So what does professional mean to you? 

To me, it’s someone who can pay the bills with a rod and reel in their hand. And that is an extremely hard thing to do. If you want to do that, assess yourself. Look at your current skillset, what trails you are eligible for and make the decision for yourself. There’s no right or wrong decision really, just various paths to the top. If you’re good enough to compete at the top, you’ll be able to traverse any road.

But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.

50th Bassmaster Classic | A Brutally Tough Lake Guntersville

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Bassmaster Classic. The 50th Bassmaster Classic to be exact. For half a century, this has been the event that we’ve looked to crown the king of the sport. But now, for the first time ever, a lot of the big names will be sitting it out. The defending champ Ott DeFoe won’t be defending. 

So will it be the same? 

The short answer, yes. Though I did have my doubts last year that it would. Most of us know by now that the majority of the core group of the 2018 Elite Series roster moved over to create the core group of the newly formed 2019 MLF Bass Pro Tour roster. Though that transition happened prior to last year’s Classic, those anglers were still allowed to fish the Classic since they had already qualified for it.

The Difference With Last Years Classic

I didn’t attend that Classic, though I have attended and worked several in the past. Most of you reading this know that I worked as a contractor for B.A.S.S. for several years. I always had an admiration for the organization growing up, and being out there on the road working closely with the anglers I naturally developed a lot of great friendships. The same can be said for the staff. 

So I was torn when the breakup happened. As an angler, I was very excited for my fellow anglers and friends who were making decisions and building something they truly believed would better their lives and careers. But I was also empathetic towards B.A.S.S. or more so towards the employees that make up B.A.S.S. since this move was viewed in a lot of ways as an attack on the organization and the livelihoods of people I had worked closely with and cared for. 

So as the Classic unfolded last year, there was palpable tension throughout. There were moments that were cathartic, between the staff and the anglers that were moving on but didn’t make their decisions out of spite. Then there were moments where had the cameras shutoff, I imagine there would have been some bloodshed. 

Now, on to the 50th Bassmaster Classic

But now here we are. Time for the Classic again. Without so many familiar faces, will this one be as big of a deal as the Classic should be? I do believe it will. During the 2019 Elite season, we saw several new Elite anglers like Brandon Cobb and Patrick Walters rise to the occasion and start developing their stardom. We saw familiar faces from the sport like Chris Zaldain, Scott Canterbury, and Carl Jocumsen all settle nicely into their roles in this new era of B.A.S.S.

The 50th Bassmaster Classic will happen. Someone will be crowned king. And for the 50th time, someone’s life will change forever. The sport is bigger and stronger now than ever before. And the giants of the sport today only appear as big as they do because they are standing on the shoulders of those individuals who got the ball rolling 5 decades ago. The Classic is still the Classic and will always be the Classic. The event we’ll see this week will prove that.

A Tough Lake Guntersville for the 50th Bassmaster Classic

Now let’s talk a little about the fishing. It is brutally tough on Lake Guntersville right now. Has been for a month or so due to seemingly constant rainfall and the swift, muddy waters that come with it. The anglers that win are still catching big bags typically, and the angler that wins the Classic will have at least one ‘wow’ bag too. But the Guntersville most of us think of isn’t there right now. 

The filler weights are way down — the weights behind 1st place. In the past, if it took 30-pounds to win there would also be a few bags in the mid-20s and a heap of bags from 18- to 22-pounds. The closest thing we’ve seen to historical Lake Guntersville numbers came a couple weeks ago in the Alabama Bass Trail event there. It took 30-pounds to win, and nearly 18-pounds to finish in the top 20. 

But that was out of 225 boats, with the best locals on the lake, a team event and the weather had actually slacked up slightly around that time. Several other individual weight events this winter have been won with around 20-pounds, very light winning weights for that pond. And now we have even more rain forecasted leading up to the start of the event. 

So the fishing will be a little tough. But the bites, when they come, will still be big. Someone will still catch a 25-plus bag and if that person can compliment that bag with a couple 16- to 18-pound days, I think they’ll take the trophy home. 

The fish will be all over. Some will catch them as shallow as 1- to 2-feet, some will catch them 25-plus and others in between. This will be a tough one, but a fun one to watch and one I’m looking forward to seeing unfold. I still have a lot friends fishing this thing and one of their lives is about to change forever. And that’s exciting. 

Some Final Thoughts Before the 50th Bassmaster Classic

To be honest, I’m glad the shakeup happened last year. The end result is that more anglers now have avenues to fish for a living at the lowest risk than ever before. Every market needs competition. 

Do I like how it all went down? No. 

But growth requires growing pains. I’m glad to see B.A.S.S. power through and I think the 50th Bassmaster Classic will meet and potentially even raise the bar because of the work that has gone into it. The appreciation the anglers participating have for it. The history behind it. 

The pervasive attitude towards what many of the fans viewed as an attack has rallied the fishing community to B.A.S.S.’s side in a lot of ways. And that will to not let something die that so many people care about has actually made it stronger. 

But, again in my personal opinion, it’s time to stop picking sides and thinking you have to hate one organization or group of anglers in order to love another. Just enjoy the sport at its peak. This is the best it’s ever been. 

So good luck to all the anglers. And good luck to everyone working the event this week. A lot goes into this thing from all sides. Good luck to the families who will be stressed to the max as they watch their loved ones vie for the title. And good luck to the fans that make the pilgrimage to see the Classic first hand. This is going to be a good one.

How Much More Advanced Can Stand Up Kayaks Get?

I was standing in the garage looking at the brand new Hobie PA14 with the 360 Mirage drive and thinking about how far we have come from the “original” kayaks.  

It is one of the most stable and maneuverable kayaks on the market. It offers an incredible amount of deck space, high gunnels, a large front storage compartment, an in-deck tackle storage option and plenty of room for H-crates or tackle (coolers, etc.) on the back. The H-rail system allows you to attach almost anything (depth finders, nets, cup holders, GPS, etc.) so you are only limited by your imagination. The Hobie is powered by pedals or paddle and now can turn 360 degrees.  

Some are outfitted with Power Poles, Anchor Wizards; you can even attach a Torqueedo to the back of the kayak to allow for shorter times between fishing spots. This is just one of the new models on the market.  

So how much more advanced can the kayaks really get and still be legal for tournament fishing? 

What is the Definition of a Kayak?

Traditional kayak – Photo Credit: http://www.iro.umontreal.ca

I tried to find a true definition for “kayak” to help me find the limits. It is less defined than I expected, but here is the Merriam-Webster version:

Kayak

: a light narrow boat that has both ends tapered to a point, is propelled by a double-bladed paddle, and often has a closed top except for an opening in which the paddler sits with the legs extended straight out in front:

a : a traditional boat that is typically associated with the indigenous peoples (such as the Aleuts and Inuits) of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, is usually made of a frame of wood or bone covered with animal skin, and is used especially for hunting and transport 

b : a boat that is based on the traditional kayak and is typically made of plastic or fiberglass and is used especially for recreational purposes

You can get a portable kayak that resembles the traditional style too. Photo credit: orukayak

If you look at the BASS tournament guidelines for their definition, they get a bit more specific:  

B.A.S.S. Kayak Regulation Guidelines

  • Watercraft propulsion is restricted to paddle, pedal, pole, or electric motor. (See electric motor restrictions, below.) 
  • Unless specifically prohibited, use of electric motors in competition is approved with the following restrictions: 
    • Electric motor must be attached to the kayak in a safe manner for operation. 
    • An electric motor used to propel a watercraft may not exceed the lesser of (a.) manufacturer’s labeled Maximum HP/Thrust Capacity, (b.) 3 HP, or (c.) 155 foot-pound thrust.
    • Competitors must comply with all boating regulations pertaining to motorized kayak/electric-propulsion watercraft registration, use, and operating restrictions for the designated fishing area.
    • No more than one electric motor may be attached to a kayak regardless of combined horsepower/thrust/power rating. 
    • Motors with dual props operated by a single power source are permissible as long as the unit is manufactured and sold as a single unit.
  • Vessel must be 9’ minimum and shorter than 18’. 
  • Vessel that the manufacturer identifies and sells as a kayak, including inflatable kayaks and modular kayaks, Stand-up paddleboards (SUP) and Canoes. 
  • Other watercraft specifically approved as exceptions in advance of competition by B.A.S.S. Management 
  • Catamaran style personal fishing vessels complying with all other regulations will be eligible. 
  • No “Homemade” Kayaks, Sailboats, Jon boats, pirogues, coracles, rowboats, dinghies, skiffs, float tubes, inflatable rafts, or rigid inflatable boats (e.g., Zodiac), pontoon boats, pontoon-style pond boats, twin-hull watercraft, or similar. 

KBF and the Hobie BOS definitions are very similar; KBF does not list the length requirement.  

What I was surprised to find was the lack of a width requirement.  If that door is open, how wide can I make the kayak? With one dimension of flexibility, how much more is possible?  And, catamarans are allowed?

Catamaran

: a vessel (such as a sailboat) with twin hulls and usually a deck or superstructure connecting the hulls

Is something like this CraigCat Elite or their Catch It version allowed if marketed as a kayak?

As long as I don’t make it myself, I can have a 5-8 foot wide catamaran to fish in the kayak tournaments as long as I do not exceed three hp or 155 ft pounds of propulsion and it is between 9’ and 18’ in length.

By allowing these style boats, the possibilities are endless.  

I can add virtually anything that is on a typical bass boat without a width restriction.  I know this may seem like a stretch and some will argue the point, but based upon all rules defined by the large tournament trails, the kayaks can get wider — becoming platforms to stand on. 

The reality is that I see this changing the first time someone challenges the no-width rules.  

Should the Rules be Changed?

So back to my original question; how much more advanced can the kayaks of today really get?  I personally think that for the “kayak” as just that, a kayak… we are already pushing the limits.

There is room for new hull designs, different hull materials, storage options, different motors, fish finders, seats and possibly advancements in propulsion methods, but to call it a kayak and stay within those boundaries defined by tournament rules will make it hard to add tons of… wait…

There is no height limit either. 

Maybe more storage under the deck, rod storage… 

I have seen technology explode in my lifetime, so I am hesitant to draw a ceiling.  

What are your thoughts?

A Behind The Scenes Look at Brandon Palaniuk’s Decision to Return to B.A.S.S.

The shakeup in the professional bass fishing industry, which saw dozens of anglers leave organizations to join the newly formed Bass Pro Tour, has been widely talked about over the last year. 

In recent months, we actually saw a couple anglers retrace their steps and opt to leave the BPT and return to B.A.S.S. through their ‘legends exemption’ — which allows anglers to re-enter the Elite Series without going through the typical qualifying procedures established in B.A.S.S.’s feeder circuits. 

But in order to qualify for the legends exemption, you have to be a legit legend. 

The only anglers eligible for this exemption are those who have won a Bassmaster Classic or earned an Elite Series Angler of the Year title. The two anglers who chose to accept that invitation back to B.A.S.S. are Brandon Palaniuk and Gerald Swindle

We sat down with Palaniuk to discuss what went into all of the decisions he’s had to make over the last 18 months.

‘I Could Never Come To Terms With It’

“Where do I start? I think last year I was trying to make what I thought at the time was the smart business decision. I was so lost. I didn’t have the angst against bass that some anglers did. I hadn’t been through what some of those guys had been through. So I just felt lost and I tried to gather as many opinions as I could of what everyone thought of each organization and the people within them.” 

“I think through the process of doing that, I gathered a lot of good information but in the midst of all that I lost my own opinion. And when you do that, something starts to feel like it’s missing. When I made the decision, I was all in. I was all for it. And then I had a really hard time walking off the Classic stage thinking that was probably the last time I’d be walking across it. It just didn’t feel right. But I knew that was the decision I had made. So I continued to try to be okay with it.” 

“But I could never come to terms with it.” 

“As the year went on, I enjoyed the season. I had fun doing it. So it wasn’t about that. It was more about where I felt like I got the most joy and where I had had the most passion and the most drive. And I felt like I was losing that as the year went on.” 

Brandon Palaniuk(1)

“And the more I reflected on it and the more I thought about it, the B.A.S.S. brand was just a huge part of who I was and I wasn’t ready to let go of it yet.”

“I was curious, so I did the numbers on it. I had spent 72% of my life either fishing at or trying to fish at the highest level of B.A.S.S. Starting at 8 years old, my goal was always to fish the Elite Series and win a Classic. I was so passionate about it from such a young age and I was so fixated on one thing. And I just couldn’t get away from that. There was a part of me that just didn’t feel right.”

‘I Wanted To Avoid Losing My Passion’

“So I had to make the decision to return to B.A.S.S. And it was not easy. I was really blessed that all of my sponsors were very supportive through that transition either way. Last year and this year. They were like ‘whatever you need to do, do it. We’re going to support you either way.’” 

“I guess I’ve been blessed with a sense of knowing that I only have one life to live so I’m going to choose to live it the way that I’m going to enjoy the most. And that’s just what it came down to.” 

“Fishing becomes a grind without the passion and drive and I was losing that.”  

“I think the most special moment that happens in bass fishing is when there are two dudes standing on the stage, there’s that moment of suspense that builds up when a guy sets that bag on the scales. When that moment happens, when a kid sees that, that is what creates the dreams. In that moment, you see all of the struggles, all of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all of the nights sleeping in the back of the truck, barely scraping by, all of that coming out of the guy’s eyeballs.” 

“That’s what I couldn’t let go of.”