Top 5 Kayak Fishing Gifts for Tournament Anglers

My wife loves Christmas with all the decorations; the tree with gifts, stockings filled with candy and more gifts, lights and snowmen all around the house. Each year we say that we are not going to buy each other anything, she even promises to not buy me anything for Christmas – then I get Festivus gifts, something for Winter Solstice or National Mutt Day. I have tried to resist, but whatever your belief system, this is the time of year where we get together for parties with friends and families; and gifts are often exchanged. Not everyone is sending a list to Santa (me, ‘cause I ain’t been that good), but there are some things we would like to have if we were to choose our gifts.

Now, the perfect list of gifts; a Hobie ProAngler 14 with the 360 mirage drive, a 9” Hummingbird Helix Mega with sidescan powered by a Bioenno 40ah Lithium battery, with a Torqeedo 1103AC all sitting on a Tennessee Trailer is not everyone’s perfect kayak fishing gifts list… nor would it be practical to fit it under the tree… or on a credit card.  

I have learned something about kayak anglers, they are a fairly independent group of folks who have developed a certain way of rigging their kayak and like to choose their own equipment. So to keep you from picking up something that will sit in the closet – unless they specifically ask for something (like the new Torqueedo, hey Santa!); I put together a short list of practical kayak fishing gifts that would help almost any tournament angler during the next year without forcing a second mortgage.

Kayak Fishing Gifts #5: Gift Cards 

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There are a lot of different gift cards you can give your favorite kayaker that would be more than welcomed. You can find displays of them in almost any big box store – for almost anywhere.  Pick any for a local tackle shop, Bass Pro, Academy, etc. – or Amazon which opens up unlimited opportunities and usually anything ordered can be at your door before you put down your computer.

Then there are cards that can feed kayakers as they travel across the U.S.; Subway is everywhere, Burger King, Chick-Fil-a, or Cracker Barrel just to name a few. Pick the larger chains and they can be used in virtually any state.

You can even just put some cash on a Wal-Mart card; a lot of us spend time sleeping in their parking lots to save money on the trips. This card can buy food or gas… or tackle… or donuts.

Kayak Fishing Gifts #4: Base Layer Gear

Mobility is important in a kayak, so is staying warm and dry on cold days. While the base layer gear doesn’t replace dry or wet suits, it can keep you extremely comfortable on cold days. It holds in body heat and wicks away moisture without hindering movements. These are available in different weights with 4 being the warmest. This gear is also helpful if your rain jacket proves to be less than adequate; it can keep you warm until you make it back to the launch.

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The Under Armour brand can cost a few dollars more, but it is worth it.

There may be some challenges with correct sizing based on body types (maybe it was just me), so be aware there may be an exchange in your future; but I am certain this would be a gift you’ll get many thanks for giving. The Under Armour Cold Gear Base clothing is incredible and comes in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Kayak Fishing Gifts #3: Lanyards/Flexible Tie Downs

One of the most precious things a kayaker has in his possession is gear. If you are fishing a tournament and only have a single tackle box and one rod, imagine losing that along the way.  

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RoboHawk and Rogue Fishing make some great lanyards to keep Ketch Boards, phones, paddles, or anything you can hook to them safe. They even have models that allow you to pull the kayak, making the trek to the water easy too.  

Lanyards differ from flexible tie downs in that they allow the angler to use the item while it is tethered to an immovable (or movable) station; keeping the items safe from sinking to the bottom should it fall or be dropped over board.

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Night Ize Gear ties allow you to attach items to your seat, kayak, or just each other in a way that is quick to remove.

They are flexible and come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so their application is virtually limitless. These can even be used to bundle items stored in hatches, dry bags, and tackle storage; to hold the sinker on your dropshot rigs, or they can hold gear in the kayak during transportation.

Kayak Fishing Gifts #2: Headlamps

Walk by almost any register at a home improvement store, and they are on the impulse racks just under the candy. These are relatively inexpensive, and something that most every kayaker uses at some point during the day. I didn’t understand why anyone would need to get them in multi-packs, but having left no less than five at the bottom of a lake, I get it now.  

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Cyclops makes a versatile and inexpensive light that not only offers 350 lumens of light; it has red, green, and a blinking light setting.

The red and green settings make it easy to see your gear without blinding fellow anglers, while the blinking light can help to get the attention of other watercraft on the water.    

Kayak Fishing Gifts #1: The ANGLR Bullseye

This item, when paired with the ANGLR app, allows for easy tracking of your time on the water.  The ANGLR app allows anglers to collect real time data of each and every trip on the water.  Data which belongs to the individual, and can be shared with friends, or kept private. The pairing of the Bullseye with the app has the potential to enhance an anglers experience on the water. 

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This can be a pretty cool item to drop in a stocking or give to any angler.

Again, most of those who are kayaking have already picked up what they want, or are already telling you very specifically what they would love to receive as a gift. Cash is also a great substitute, if you give any to someone this year and they don’t want it, call me. In the meantime, Merry Christmas… Happy Holidays… Festivus… Mutt Day… Bacon Day… birthday; Tuesday… whatever occasion you choose to give gifts!

A Kayak Anglers View on the New Bassmaster Kayak Series

I was asked a simple question: 

“How do you feel about the new HUK Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series presented by Abu Garcia and powered by TourneyX?”

To answer, I had to take some time to work through the purely nostalgic reasons I am looking forward to attending and competing in a B.A.S.S. event.  

My dad was a member. I used to watch every show that came on covering Bassmaster events before I could even drive myself to fish. Bassmaster introduced me to my fishing heroes, the guys who piqued my interest in tournament fishing as I dreamed of doing it for a living. I still have some Poe crankbaits that Rick Clunn convinced me to pick up, I will forever look for Mann’s Classic spinnerbaits because Hank Parker showed it to me one Saturday morning. I saw Shaw Grigsby give a seminar on jigs, flipping into a small cup; and I just liked saying Guido Hibdon, not sure why.

Bassmaster Kayak Series: A Kayak Anglers Perspective

Then, looking at it as a kayak bass angler who loves the sport and the kayak community; I will be a part of B.A.S.S.’s inaugural season when the first kayaks launch at Logan Martin Lake in Alabama on March 5th because it is another opportunity to advance kayak bass fishing.  

KBF, Hobie, and the local trails will continue to flourish and grow; this will not replace them; but (my opinion since I was asked the question), the B.A.S.S. series is an opportunity to put an established national spotlight on kayaking and help us all.  

There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that Bassmaster plans to leverage its years of experience to grow this series while drawing on the knowledge gained by some of the best kayak tournament directors and TourneyX.

B.A.S.S. likes the idea of single-day tournaments. In a recent interview, Dwayne Walley of TourneyX discussed how this will allow more accessibility to large events for kayak anglers with day jobs and limited vacation. The organizers worked hard to schedule events so they would not interfere with the existing trails and shared that the first event was put on a weekday to allow the top anglers to be on the stage at the 50th Bassmaster Classic.

The Classic will take place March 6-8 on Lake Guntersville with weigh-ins at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. This timing will let those who are able to visit the classic event and expo.

Bassmaster Kayak Series: Getting More Information

To learn more, I called Steve Owens, a fellow Tennessee angler and tournament director who will be working with B.A.S.S.. I wanted to understand how those of us in the state can get in from the beginning and just how it would all work. He was quick to explain that this is a project that is still being fully developed, but shared what he could.  

  1. Kayak anglers can fish the opens with a Bassmaster membership.  
  2. We will be given the opportunity to sign up with B.A.S.S. Nation clubs specific to kayak anglers as they grow in each state. 
  3. The path to the kayak classic will work just as the Bassmaster Classics have with these partner groups.

Bassmaster Kayak Series: Final Thoughts

Next, I tried to give him my thirty dollars to join the Tennessee kayak B.A.S.S. Nation over the phone but was told I will have to hold on until it is established. I went online to find B.A.S.S. stickers, shirts… guess I will have to read the rules to see if I can add the emblem to next seasons’ jersey. I have already studied Logan Martin Lake maps and videos. I pulled out the old Poe crankbaits, the Mann’s Classic spinnerbait that paid for my fishing two years ago, and keep hearing “Guido” in Ray Scott’s voice (still not sure why). 

How do I feel about the new HUK Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series presented by Abu Garcia and powered by TourneyX? 

To simplify my response into a single word; Excited!

Mike Cheatham’s Reasoning For Why Kayak Anglers Should Use the ANGLR Logbook

How many of you have seen guys walking around at tournaments with an ANGLR Bullseye on their hats and wondered why? I mean is it just a cool marketing tool – a way to get your brand out in public? Just another gadget to catch an angler, not to help catch fish?  

Well, I have been asked those questions at events and shared my thoughts on the subject; but I’ve also shared the facts about the ANGLR app and the Bullseye.

ANGLR Logbook: How the Bullseye Caught My Eye

Being very open, the Bullseye is what got my attention when I saw a lot of guys wearing them. It made me curious to see what this thing was for, what was its purpose. So, it is a cool marketing tool that made me look, but it is also a Bluetooth device that links to the ANGLR app.  When you link it up at the beginning of each fishing trip, you simply push it once to mark a catch (allowing you to collect water and weather data), or twice to mark a waypoint (also collecting data) or you can hold it in for 2-3 seconds to mark a gear change (making your data more powerful). 

This data is yours, not the worlds; and can be recalled to see the conditions, location, gear, and more about your day on the water.  If you choose to share the data collected with others, that is also an option, but not a requirement.  

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Since the Bullseye doubles as a marketing tool, it does help catch anglers (me anyway); but it also helps you to catch fish when paired with the app.

The data you acquire in the ANGLR logbook by pushing the button during each trip gives insight into what worked, what didn’t; when the bite was strong and when it was not on. You see peaks and valleys in fish activity that can be checked against barometric pressure, flow and water temperature (based off of local water gages), see what gear and lures were effective; it is a key to the knowledge that most of us have just remembered about the luck we had on a given day.  But unlike my memory, it doesn’t get distorted with time or clouded with other trip memories.

Using the ANGLR Logbook and Bullseye on the Same Body of Water for Repeat Trips

I know you all have a place where you fish, the place that you can always catch ‘em, but even those waters have days that are less productive. I took the ANGLR app to the spot where I learned about fishing to see if the science really works. Well, I thought I understood my home water (my ego said I did) until I collected real data.  

Now I have information that helps me to predict those days when I will catch them, times that are better than others, locations where they bite better under certain conditions… a baseline to develop patterns that can be used on other bodies of water. 

The ANGLR logbook has increased my confidence; I can check the data while on the water to know when it is time to move, or when to buckle down and really cover an area… or when to just wait, because it is about to turn on!

We all buy the latest lures and colors, go with the best tackle storage systems, buy new rods and reels, invest in the coolest fish finder technologies and anything else we think will give us the best chances of winning tournaments or just catching fish. We search for videos, use Google Earth, maps, etc..  We do all of this without hesitation. Some of y’all even keep journals to take that a step further. So why wouldn’t we use a tool that gives us knowledge over time?  I plan to use everything I can to grow as a tournament angler, and the ANGLR app and Bullseye are part of my arsenal.

I do know this for certain, those guys with the Bullseye on their hats and the ANGLR app on their phones or computers, they have taken it to the next level and are building a pile of information that can (and will) be used against you in a tournament. It is not just something designed to catch anglers like that cool snake lure I have hanging in my garage; it will help you to catch more fish and be a better angler.

How to Improve After a Trip with ANGLR

One of my favorite things about the ANGLR app and accessories, specifically the Bullseye, is just how versatile the combination can be. ANGLR puts powerful tools and information at the fingertips of anglers. The best part, everyone uses the app and information differently and I find it really fascinating. All of that being said, here’s how I use ANGLR to improve my fishing.

Record Keeping

With social media constantly showing anglers catching new records and other monster fish, it’s easy to deny the reality that some days we go fishing and it just doesn’t go our way. One of the aspects of fishing that intrigues me is that we can plan and prepare until the cows come home but at the end of the day, the fish ultimately decide if we’re going to have a good day of fishing or not. This being said, when those not so good fishing days take place, I put a positive spin on them as there’s always something to be learned from a day on the water, especially the bad days. 

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Whenever I get home from a slow day of fishing, I always sync my data with the ANGLR app and start breaking down the spots I fished. 

I’ll use the maps to get an idea of what the water was like in terms of depth, drop-offs, and location overall. Even with my Torqeedo, I’m typically not able to cover an entire body of water in one trip so this information provides a crucial starting point for the next. 

Simply reviewing your fishing spots isn’t enough to get the entire picture. Luckily, the ANGLR app tracks your catches and waypoints as well as the weather and water conditions so that you can have a detailed account of what the day was like. Lakes and ponds are not the same from one day to the next and weather patterns can create really good or really bad fishing. 

After repeated trips to the same body of water, the ANGLR app will provide you with a wealth of information including where fish are consistently located and how they behave and react due to weather and water conditions.

Tracking My Gear

One of the more recent additions to the ANGLR app is the ability to track the gear that you’re using at any given time while on the water. Supported by the ANGLR Bullseye, anglers can easily update the rod and reel they’re using while also adding the lure that’s tied on. 

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This allows anglers to remember not only where they caught fish but what the fish were biting on a given day.

As much as I like to think my memory is on point, I’ve come to realize that the moment after I catch a fish, I start losing details around exactly how it happened. The more time that passes, the more those finer details start to fade. Those details and that information overall is so valuable for us as anglers to learn from. Thanks to the ANGLR app, we can now easily record our trips and use the information to elevate our fishing skills and abilities.

Kayak Gear | A List of Items You Need for Your Kayak

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer

The growth in kayak bass fishing, due in part to the relatively inexpensive startup costs, doesn’t appear to be slowing. The boats are small and light; can be stored outside, in corners of garages or even in apartments. There are models to fit almost every personal preference and fit about every budget. It is only a question of choosing the correct kayak for you. Selecting your kayak gear up can be as simple as a quick trip to a big box store, or can be the culmination of hours and hours of research. 

 The first kayak in my adventure was bought at Caney Fork Outdoors in Nashville. After only a couple days of research my wife and I walked in with money to buy a Jackson Big Tuna, two paddles, an Astral life jacket for her (I had an old one), a rudder kit and a shirt. She had been in a kayak, I had not. We loaded it up, took it down the road from our house to Yellow Creek; and my life was changed.

That simple trip was an effort to find something that allowed us to fish while on camping trips or to explore waters across the country. To be honest we had no idea what we needed, but had a very clear vision for what we wanted. The only things we still use from that first purchase are the Astral PFD, and the shirt. It only took a few months to understand the paddles were too heavy and the tandem kayak was not going to work for us. In less than three years since that purchase, things have changed. We now know there are more than “want” factors in the decision process if you are going to truly enjoy the day on the water.

Kayak Gear: PFD’s

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Photo credit: Caney Fork Outdoors

I started my kayak tournament career in a life vest designed for water skiing, it was all I had at the time. I almost smothered to death paddling in the Tennessee heat – and it was early in the Fall. A kayak PFD choice is one you need to really spend a little time considering before purchasing. You are required to wear a PFD during all major kayak bass tournaments, so you will be spending hours on the water with it strapped to you; Winter, Spring, the hottest days of Summer, and Fall. They can be very restrictive, impractical and uncomfortable.

My choice today is the NRS Chinook. It allows movement while casting, is cooler than many models, and has a ton of storage options. I can keep my phone handy for pictures, store small amounts of terminal tackle, attach a knife (clips, hook remover, scissors, etc.); allowing me to use all available space in the kayak. It is adjustable, allowing for different body types while providing safety. I personally am not comfortable with a self-inflatable model, and fear slipping in some water and setting off an auto inflating version.

There are about as many choices for PFD’s as there are choices for kayaks, and the same advice holds true for both; demo them. 

Not all bodies are created equal, not all fishing styles are the same. You may find that an auto inflatable model works for you, or a self-inflating model. No matter what you “want”, make sure it will fit you correctly because it is meant to protect you in an emergency situation.  

Instead of rehashing a lot of details about styles and benefits, I am providing a couple of good sources for more info. NRS has a lot of information available: Choosing a life vest, then there are more information links on the site. REI also has an extremely informative article: REI Expert advice.

Kayak Gear: Paddles

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Photo credit: Bending Branches

Paddle, pedal, or powered are the options for tournaments. Some allow motors, most allow pedals, and all will let you paddle. Unless you are truly confident that you will only fish one trail or that you will never find yourself in shallow water or thick grass with your motor or pedals, it would be advisable to carry a paddle. Whether it be a full, half, or a Backwater Assault style paddle, the time will come when you need it.  

I carry a full Bending Branches Pro Carbon paddle because of my fishing style. Often, my kayak ends up in the skinniest or shallowest of water and the pedals become less practical. I have also seen folks blow out their pedal drives or tear the fins on stumps whizzing across the water, so it is good to have a backup propulsion method. 

Even if I am in deeper creeks, I will use my paddle to push me off banks and from under obstructions.

Wood, metal, plastic, composite… combinations of them all are available. Shape, length, weight paddle size and angle are all variables to consider. They are plain, multi-color, with and without images. 

What type of fishing do you choose; shallow creeks, reservoirs, ponds or rivers?  

Choosing the paddle can be a simple as walking in and saying “that one!” or it can be like taking a physics exam depending on how you approach the purchase.

Ryan Martin at Caney Fork did an excellent job of explaining the differences in length and weight… white water vs fishing… during our first purchase, but it really took several trips to understand what we really expected from a paddle; those original paddles are now on a shelf in my garage. So, when you start looking, pick up several; and if you can demo them.  

Bending Branches, arguably the favorite paddle for tournament anglers, has a good kayak sizing guide – Sizing Guide. Again, REI also has an article on choosing a paddle – Choosing a paddle

Kayak Gear: Tackle and Gear Storage

Having come from a bass boat with lots of storage space, I underestimated the amount of downsizing that would be required to fish from a kayak. Everything I owned related to fishing was stored under the deck, so I always had what I needed. When I laid that gear out on the deck of my kayak it didn’t take but a couple of seconds to realize I had a problem.

I picked up a milk crate, strapped it down and headed out on Kentucky Lake one early Saturday morning. I guess to be more accurate; I loaded up a small amount of my gear, my rods, my lunch and drinks… then flipped my kayak about twelve inches off of the ramp. My wallet and keys were submerged, my tackle was floating in Plano boxes, I could feel my rods under my feet (under the water), my lunch was gone (Diet Pepsi was floating) and I had no dry clothes.  

Fortunately, it was late spring so I didn’t get cold… more fortunately, I learned that I wasn’t prepared before I was too far from shore.

I immediately (well, after drying out and getting home) upgraded to a tackle storage option that had a lid, picked up a cooler that would float and bought a dry bag to hold dry clothes… or keys, cameras, phones, etc..

Kayak Gear: Crate Options

There are a lot of “crate” options for kayak fishing with the YakAttack Black Pak being one of the favorites among anglers. You need to find the one that fits the amount of tackle you carry, the number of rods, and the size of your kayak. Several options are listed in this ANGLR article about the favorites among many kayak tournament anglers – top 5 Kayak Crates.

Kayak Gear: Rod Holders

Outside of selecting a crate, you will want to consider rod holders also – or be prepared to lose them if you flip farther than 12-inches off a ramp. There are several ways to store rods… most crate options have integrated storage… and several ways to use them while fishing different techniques. A few are addressed in this ANGLR article – Rod Holders, but watch other kayakers and you will find several good options, many homemade.

Kayak Gear: Dry Bag

A good dry bag for gear can be essential while kayak fishing. We hope that we never need it, that we never roll and watch our gear create a debris field in its wake; but it does happen. If you end up at some remote launch alone and lose your wallet, camera, phone… and keys, it might make for a very long trek to find help.  

In cooler water, this can be extremely important. Hypothermia can overcome you, so first is dressing correctly and being prepared (cold water fishing in a kayak), second is having a change of clothes and some essential items readily available and dry.  

I personally carry a Magellan Outdoors dry bag for clothes or emergency gear and a Watershed Ocoee bag for my camera when I plan to take pictures from the kayak.  I would never opt for the more expensive bag just to keep some extra clothes, but for your more valuable possessions go with something like the Watershed products; excellent bags that seal up very well.

Kayak Gear: Measuring Boards

Ok, to this point, everything listed is required to just be on the water. Technically you could probably make it without crates, rod holders, or a dry bag; but at some point you will even add those for day trips with friends. They just make keeping things together on the kayak a lot more efficient.

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But, if you are going to be a tournament kayak angler, you will need a board to measure your catch.

Rulers, tape measures, golden rules, marks on the side of your kayak or even the tattoo down your leg are not acceptable. Most kayak tournaments require one of three measuring boards; the Ketch Products board, the Hawg Trough or the Yak Gear Fish Stick. Make sure to check the rules of the tournament trail you are fishing, most do not allow the Yak Gear version; and none allow anything else to be used at this time.  

The Ketch Board is quickly becoming the favored measuring device among serious anglers due to its durability, but that comes with increased weight. If you purchase this option, make sure you pick up a lanyard of some type. Once this board goes over the side without it being attached to the kayak with some device, it will go straight to the bottom.

The Hawg Trough is much lighter, but many anglers have broken them measuring bass of any size. They also do not float, but placing a bit of weather stripping in the grooves along the back of the board will resolve that issue. You may still want to consider a lanyard, if this goes overboard, it can be blown away or the current can take it quickly.  

Well, add a few rods, and some tackle, the items above will have you (at least from a basic needs standpoint) ready to tournament fish from a kayak. I will repeat it again, make sure you read the rules for whatever tournament you fish to make sure this meets their requirements… KAST rules for example also requires that you have a flag like the Yak Attack Visipole; and if fishing between sunset and sunrise, a 360-degree light is required.  

Hope to see you all out on the water!

2019 Kayak Fishing Season Recap | Adam Rourke’s 2019 Season

Well, just like that the 2019 fishing season is over. It seems like just yesterday we were loading up my minivan and trailer for the 2019 KBF National Championship in Louisiana. Overall, this season has been a great one. I’ve met some really great people and have had the opportunity to get involved with a few great companies. 

There were points this season when things just felt relentless, from tough conditions to multiple tournaments back to back, I definitely spent a lot of the summer exhausted. Don’t take my previous statement as a negative, I spent my summer exhausted from doing something I love. It comes up every so often in conversations with co-workers or other people interested in where I go most weekends, you cannot compete in this sport unless you love it. 

Traveling and competing in events takes up a lot of time, money, and energy. Thanks to social media, the sport of competitive kayak fishing seems glamorous and effortless but what you don’t see is the hours spent driving to the next event or the hours spent organizing tackle. This probably sounds like complaining, but I’m just trying to communicate the passion and dedication it takes to be involved in this sport. 

Okay, with all of that out of the way, here are some of the high-level numbers from this season. My 2019 tournament season started in March and ended in September. In that time, I competed in 14 events and put about 15,000 miles on my van.

2019 Kayak Fishing Season Recap(1)

Yes, I drive a minivan, there’s nothing better for road trips. With all the travel comes a lot of routine vehicle maintenance, most of which I do myself.

My Tournament Season 

As I mentioned above, I competed in 14 tournaments this season. Those 14 tournaments are made up of the 2019 KBF National Championship, 2 KBF trail events, the Maine Yak Anglers trail, KBF State Challenges, a KBF One Night Stand, and another event for charity. These events were all fantastic, even the ones where I didn’t do so well. I always have fun at these events, the people really make the kayak fishing community special. 

The first event of the year was the National Championship. This year’s event was held in Shreveport, Louisiana. Competitors were able to choose from 6 different bodies of water to fish, Caddo Lake, Cypress Bayou Reservoir & Black Bayou Reservoir, Cross Lake, Lake Bistineau, Wallace Lake, and the Red River. 

After competing in the 2018 National Championship, with over 750 anglers competing on one body of water, the idea of having 6 options was fantastic. The reality set in quickly when we arrived in Louisiana and started pre-fishing. The challenge with any tournament, especially one of this size, is blocking out the noise from the locals sharing tips to other anglers sharing top-secret intel about what baits are catching fish. It’s hard to not get caught up in the rumors and for some reason, the folks in Louisiana were more willing to share information than most. 

On the drive down from New Hampshire, our plan of where to fish and when changed multiple times based on messages and information we received during the drive. Once we arrived we met some state troopers who insisted that Caddo Lake was going to be the place, regardless of how many other anglers would be there. They turned out to be right and that’s where we ended up. The event didn’t go well for me, I caught a few fish but nothing close to what I needed. 

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That’s tournament fishing for you.

I fished two other KBF Northeast Trail events this season, one on Lake George and an event on Lake Winnipesaukee. In both events, I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. 

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On Lake George, I caught the biggest bass of the event but failed to enter the Big Bass Brawl so that didn’t quite work out, either way, it was still a great catch. 

After the National Championship, I returned home and started preparing for the inaugural year of the Maine Yak Anglers trail. I’m thrilled to be a part of this club. Maine has a rapidly expanding group of great kayak anglers, huge shoutout to Jason Gardner for the work he’s put into getting this club off the ground! I won’t go through each club event but overall the season was decent. There was some tough competition this year which is the best way to grow and learn as an angler. As always, I got to meet some really great people while also reconnecting with old friends.

Other Developments

At the start of the 2019 season, I made the decision to resign from all of my sponsors in an attempt to evaluate the gear choices I was making and try out some different options. In doing so, I made some changes to my gear and tackle that ended up being major advantages for me this season. A couple of key changes, the first was the change from using monofilament line to using P-Line’s Fluoroclear. The Fluoroclear line is a copolymer line that has a lot of advantages while being super strong and durable. 

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My second big change, upgrading my reels to the new Shimano SLX DC reels. 

These reels have completely changed the way I use baitcasters by making everything extremely simple. Being able to cast just about any bait into the wind has just been a game-changer for me. I know that term is thrown around a lot, but ask anyone who’s used a DC reel and they’ll confirm that there’s nothing like it. 

Big Changes

Towards the tail end of the 2019 fishing season I was approached with an amazing opportunity, I was offered a spot on the Bonafide Kayaks and YakAttack team. This created a bit of anxiety for me initially as I had to change kayaks during a season but the transition ended up being really smooth and I’m extremely happy with my decision. Both Bonafide and YakAttack are companies that are aligned with my values and what I think is most important about the sport of kayak fishing. Both of these companies produce quality products that they stand behind and as a result make this sport that much better. 

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The 2019 season certainly didn’t go the way I had anticipated, but it was a great year. Now I’m stuck waiting for the 2020 season to roll around!

How to Use ANGLR to Create a Pattern While Kayak Fishing

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you already know where I stand when it comes to the benefits of using the ANGLR app. In many of those articles, I share how I use the app to keep a historical record of trips and how the fishing was on that given day. 

Something I have yet to write about is how the ANGLR app can help you in real-time while you’re still on the water. 

I used to think that using a depth finder or any technology of that kind in a kayak was a waste of time and money. Over the years I’ve come to realize the value and power of having quality technology and electronics at your disposal. Currently, I live in New Hampshire but am part of a club in Maine. Most of the trail events are at least two hours away which I don’t mind, but it does limit the amount of pre-fishing I am able to do. To get around this, I rely on my fish finder, Google Maps, and the ANGLR app

It’s extremely helpful to be able to see a layout of a body of water that I’m about to fish. 

How I Use the ANGLR App

The ANGLR app offers some key features that allow me to figure things out and make adjustments in real-time while on the water. First, alongside the Bullseye, I’m able to see where I’ve been, where I’ve caught fish and what gear I’m using. Everyone has had those events where things just don’t add up and while you’re in the moment, it’s hard to take a step back and objectively figure out what you’re doing wrong or what should be adjusted. 

Tracking what I’m doing, using, and catching in real-time allows me to take a breath, look at the app and try to figure out what I need to change in order to turn my day around. 

A great example of this was one of my last events of this season. I had just purchased a new Bonafide SS127 along with a Torqeedo motor. This setup was very new to me and I was still getting used to how everything worked and how to best operate with that setup. I’d pull up to spots, land a fish or two then move on. Towards the middle of the day, I found myself without a limit and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I grabbed my phone and started looking at the maps in the ANGLR app for some ideas. What I found was a bunch of lines all over the place, indicating that I had been moving from spot to spot all day without taking the time to find fish. 

After realizing that I was moving around too much, I started to take my time on spots that looked good. 

After a bit, I started catching more fish, sometimes multiple fish on the same spot. This is what I was missing while being distracted by my new boat and motor. Once you get into the habit of using the app and bullseye, you won’t even notice it and will find yourself with all kinds of helpful information that can make the difference between a good and bad day on the water.

Kayak Fishing in the Wind | Adjusting to Different Wind Directions

Featured Image Credit: Eric Siddiqi

The hard truth about kayak fishing is that wind can be an issue. Ok, that is an understatement; wind will be an issue and can ruin your day on the water if you end up on the wrong end of 30 mph gusts. Jump in a paddle kayak and head into a cove where the wind is blowing directly into, it will be easy to get in, but impossible to get out. I had this experience during a KBF event on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.  

I hadn’t paid attention to the forecast and headed about a half-mile from the ramp and turned into a long arm of the lake. The wind picked up, and the guy who had launched with me said he was heading back to the ramp. I watched him move ten feet forward, then get blown into the bank repeatedly.  I was pedaling in a Hobie, so I eventually made it to him and tossed a rope to help pull him out; the wind was still beating us both. Between gusts, I would make ground, eventually getting close enough to see the ramp. That is where the wind caught the back of my boat and turned me sideways into 2-foot whitecaps and I immediately thought “this is how you end up on the news” as the kayak almost tipped several times. But I was fortunate enough that I had a paddle in my hand and pedal/paddled out of the situation and made it to the ramp.

Kayak Fishing in the Wind: Wind and Current

This was an extreme example of wind, but one I re-tell when I meet new kayakers as I caution them to look at the weather before each trip; paying much attention to wind and current direction. A 10-mile an hour wind from the south on Kentucky Lake will still allow you to cross the widest points safely, but if that wind comes out of the north and is directed against the current, it can become impossible to manage. You can adjust all you want trying to hold position, but you will most likely lose the battle.  

Learning to understand the interactions of the wind and current will take time on the water, but there are a few basic facts you should keep in mind.

For all boats, but more for kayaks, the wind is just like the current. If you go with the “current” and it is strong, you are going to have a difficult time holding your position. There will be a constant battle to keep the back of the kayak from passing you, or from making you look like a drunken duck as the kayak spins you in circles while you try to correct the movement; paddle, straight, spin left, paddle, spin right, dosey doe and around you go… paddle… repeat.  

When I first started, I wasn’t sure why the back of the kayak was affected more by the wind, then I stepped back and looked at it from a physics standpoint. Most of us have some type of tackle storage that sits behind us, and the seats are not in the center of the kayak; they are shifted toward the stern a bit. When you are sitting on or in a light plastic hull, that basically makes all of that (you and the crate) a sail. In lighter winds, you can overcome some of the resulting actions, but it will still affect your path.  

Keep this in mind with boat position; use it to your advantage. I often sit with my kayak at an odd angle instead of fishing perpendicular to the shore; while slowly pedaling toward that shore. This allows me to maintain better positioning in relation to the location I am trying to fish while still letting me bring the bait with the prevailing current.

Kayak Fishing in the Wind(1)

This drawing makes the assumption that the current isn’t flowing in the opposite direction. 

 If it is, whichever is stronger will direct your boat positioning.  The best position for holding on open water while fishing submerged cover is to be downwind from the object; paddling or pedaling in the cover’s direction.  This will keep you perpendicular to the target, and reduce the number of times the kayak will spin you around.

Kayak Fishing in the Wind: Rudders and Skegs 

I am fortunate to have a Hobie Pro Angler 14. This kayak comes equipped with a rudder and a skeg that allows for better boat positioning in winds. The skeg can make it harder to turn but keeps the boat more stable in windier situations, and the rudder helps me face the “current”. Without these, or in pure paddle kayaks, even lighter winds can impact your day. Keep that in mind when choosing a kayak; understand how and where you plan to use the kayak. Know that you have to get back to a ramp unless you made arrangements to be picked up downstream.

I was recently in La Crosse with 20 plus mph winds forecasted, sitting in current flowing in the opposite direction. There was no way I could fight both for an 8-hour day on the water, so I chose a spot slightly protected from the wind, positioned my kayak facing the current and did all I could to keep out of the trees. At the end of the day, I had a 2-mile pedal dead into the fast current of the Mississippi River with a 20 mph gusting tailwind.  

In this situation, I moved in a zig-zag pattern to keep the kayak moving at all just to make it back to the ramp. Once I made it back, I had to hit the ramp at full speed to keep the wind and current from crushing me under the dock.   What would normally be a 30-minute trip in calm conditions took almost two hours, and I could see the ramp from where I hit the main river!

Kayak Fishing in the Wind: Plan Ahead

It may take you a trip or two to really understand how to handle your kayak in the wind (or current), all kayaks do not handle the same. Please plan your trips carefully until you learn how the boat you are in reacts in different situations. 

Use weather apps, the ANGLR app, and watch the local news to understand the conditions for the day and the body of water you are trying to fish. Understand wind speed, direction and the flow you will encounter on the body of water you are planning to fish. Consider the launch you will use; make sure that it is not going to add risk to your day. Sign up with your local outfitter to spend a day on the water, or search out a local kayak fishing club… there is always someone who will be willing to help you learn how to handle the wind and make your adventures safe and fun.

Adam Rourke’s Top 3 Cold Water Kayak Fishing Safety Tips

With the stability of fishing kayaks constantly improving, it’s easy to feel invincible on the water regardless of the weather conditions. As Summer starts to wind down and the cool mornings of fall begin, it’s extremely important to take some extra steps to ensure your safety when cold water kayak fishing

There are many things that can go wrong when it comes to dealing with cold water, but hypothermia is one of the most dangerous. Many anglers think that just wearing additional layers and warmer footwear will be enough to stay warm and safe. In some cases this is true, but if you ever end up submerged, those layers of clothing quickly start to work against you. 

The layers of clothing hold the cold temperatures against your body while your boots fill with water turning into weights on your feet. Cold water kayak fishing is not something to underestimate, so if you’re determined to get out, here are a few tips to do so safely.

Cold Water Kayak Fishing | Tip #1: Wear Your Dry Suit

Drysuits are always something that’s on my “To-Buy” list but never happens because of the costs associated with a good drysuit. At first, the prices are off-putting but a little bit of research will quickly show you the technology that goes into these suits and how well they work. 

These suits can literally be a matter of life and death, so while it may cost you upfront, it may save your life later on.

Drysuits form a seal and keep water out which gives an angler a significant advantage against hypothermia if they happen to be submerged. The suit itself will not keep you warm but it will allow for different layers to be worn underneath, allowing you to dress for the specific conditions.

Cold Water Kayak Fishing | Tip #2: The 120-Degree Rule

Along with Drysuit and arguably before you grab a dry suit, you should be aware of the 120-degree rule. This rule allows an angler a baseline “rule-of-thumb” to go by when looking into weather conditions. The way the 120-degree work is simple and offers a quick formula for any kayaker to use before a trip. 

Cold Water Kayak Fishing(1)

What you do is take the air temperature and the water temperature and add them together. If the value of those two numbers is less than 120, a dry suit should be worn. 

If the value is higher than 120, the threat of hypothermia is lessened. This rule isn’t perfect and discretion should still be used, but it’s a great starting point whenever considering a cold water kayak fishing trip.

Cold Water Kayak Fishing | Tip #3: Don’t Go Alone

One of the advantages of kayak fishing is how easy they are to transport, which allows for some great solo trips when our pals are busy working or whatever else. The summer is a great time for solo trips, the weather is typically warm enough that we don’t have to be concerned about cold water. 

Overall, it’s a good rule to always go out with a buddy, we never know what’s going to happen. 

As the fall weather starts to kick in, it’s even more important to practice the buddy system whenever you go out fishing. This ensures that if something were to happen to you or your buddy there will be someone there to help out. Kayak anglers get extremely comfortable on the water just simply from the amount of time we spend out there, but we should never underestimate it. 

We don’t know how we’ll react if we were to tip and it’s often how we’d like to think we’ll react. It’s always a good idea to have someone there who can help you just in case.

What Every Rookie Kayak Fisherman Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

So you’re new to kayak fishing? Well same here. And from one rookie to another, I’ve found there are a few basic essentials that you don’t want to leave home without. In no particular order, here are a few must-have items.

Pliers

Whether you need to tweak something on your boat, unhook a fish, or cut your line, a good set of pliers is absolutely essential on a kayak. I’ve forgotten mine a couple of times and it makes for a long day of fishing. I find that I am in need of pliers far more often in a kayak than I am in a bass boat. 

The main reason being… treble hooks. 

I have never been hooked past the barb in all my days of fishing, but I’ve already had several of the closest calls of my life in a kayak. When you bring a fish into a kayak it is either in your lap or around your legs and feet. A bass flailing about the bottom of the boat with 6 or 9 little gaffs sticking out of its face is enough to make you river dance. 

Rookie Kayak Fisherman(1)

Having pliers to remove the hooks from the fish will certainly decrease the chances of you getting a hook in your hand. 

But in the unfortunate event where one of those hooks end up in you, piers may be your only means of popping the point back through and cutting the hook in the bend to be able to remove it. It’s not something I want to do. But it’s something I’d want to do a whole lot less without a good set of pliers

Personal Flotation Device

I’m not going to lie, I don’t wear a PFD all the time when I’m just fishing in a big fiberglass boat as I should. But I ALWAYS wear a PFD in a kayak. Part of it is probably due to my unfamiliarity with everything, but I believe its best for a kayak angler of any skill level to wear one. There are just so many more ways to mess up in a kayak. 

Whether you bump a submerged tree in a calm pond or you’re blistering through a rapid in a swift river full of rocks, things can go wrong in a hurry. 

Just put the thing on and forget about it. You never even know you have a good PFD on. And one with compartments on the chest is actually very handy for fishing from a kayak. One of the biggest things I want in a kayak is to have everything within arms reach. What better thing then than a wearable tackle box that might also save your life. I’ve been using one made by Stohlquist WaterWare that my buddy Scott Beutjer gave me. It has compartments on the front large enough for my phone or battery pack and high back padding to get out of the way of the seat. 

Paddle

Obviously, but still worth mentioning quickly. A good kayak paddle is really nice. I had a little cheap metal and plastic one that came with my Sundolphin Journey 12 SS but once again, Scott stepped up and hooked me up with something much nicer, a Bending Branches Angler Classic

Rookie Kayak Fisherman(2)

Having a quality paddle that’s the right size for you and the boat you’re in definitely makes a difference. 

Another good thing about this paddle is that it has a ruler marked on it in the event you need to measure a fish and don’t have a bump board with you.

Tackle

Tackle is the thing I was the most worried about when it came to kayak fishing. How am I supposed to condense the hundreds of pounds of tackle in my boat to fit into a milk crate? Funny thing is I have found that simplifying and condensing my tackle has been super easy.

I’ll go over what’s in my basic tackle box below. But outside of that, I just prepare for each trip specifically. No matter where I’m going, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do when I get there. And with just a couple handfuls of additional baits, I can give myself several alternatives if plan A isn’t working. 

The thing I didn’t think about is how unnecessary 90% of the tackle is that I take in my boat. 

I don’t need 50-pounds of punching gear when I’m on Lake Lanier, but it’s in my boat. Heck, I don’t even need as much punching stuff as I have in my fiberglass boat on Okeechobee. 

If I’m going to be fishing shallow vegetation during the spawn, I obviously don’t need my 4 boxes of deep crankbaits. What I do need is a couple of frogs and a few packs of Senkos. It’s really not that daunting of a task and the limitation of tackle is actually kind of freeing at times. I find myself trying harder to figure out the water in front of me with what I have to work with, which at times is the whole name of the game when it comes to kayak fishing. 

Rod Combos

Again, obviously, you need rods. But I’ve found that a few setups and strategies in particular work best for kayak fishing.

For starters, a 7’0” medium-heavy is the most common rod I use paired with a 7.5:1 gear ratio reel. This is a great rod to do a lot of stuff with. I typically have two of these, one with 14-pound test fluorocarbon and one with 30-pound test braid. Braided line when possible is your greatest ally in a kayak when it comes to getting a good hookset into a fish. 

I’ve found that it is difficult to set the hook well from a kayak because I’m either too unsteady to really lay the wood to them or I’m out of position and don’t have enough range of motion to drive the hook into the fish. The lack of stretch in braid definitely helps combat these things versus monofilament or even fluorocarbon. If I need to use fluorocarbon, another trick is to step up your rod size. If I usually use a 7’0” medium-heavy I’ll go to either a 7’0” heavy or a 7’3” medium-heavy for that technique. 

Outside of a couple 7’0” medium-heavies being standard, I again just select 4 or 5 rods for whatever fishery I’m going to be on. If I’m dropshotting on Lanier I’ll have more spinning gear. If I’m fishing grass on Guntersville, more heavy-duty baitcaster combos with braid. It’s pretty simple. 

ANGLR Bullseye

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my Bullseye while writing an article for the manufacturer’s website and app. But it’s honestly worth reminding you here because I often forget it myself and am frustrated by that fact once I get on the water. 

Rookie Kayak Fisherman(3)

I really believe the capabilities and benefits of the ANGLR App and logbook are extremely important to my growth and development as an angler over time, but the app alone isn’t going to do me a lot of good in a kayak if my Bullseye is in the truck and my phone is in the dry box. 

So don’t forget your Bullseye.

Miscellaneous Items

A few other items like sunglasses, water, snacks, and toilet paper are all obvious. Sunglasses are a must-have. I’ve forgotten mine a couple of times and it’s been brutal. You get a lot more glare it seems like because you’re closer to the water. 

I will say that staying hydrated is a lot more important too. Being closer to the water and not moving around much can make for a pretty hot day. Add to that the physical exertion of paddling and it’s much easier to get dehydrated in a kayak than a bass boat.

Shaye’s Basic Kayak Gear and Tackle

Pliers: Rapala Fisherman’s Pliers

Cutters: Rapala Fisherman’s Side Cutters

Scissors: Rapala Super Line Scissors

Paddle: Bending Branches Angler Classic

PFD: Stohlquist WaterWare

Logbook: Anglr Bullseye 

Rods: Vursa 7’0” Medium Heavy

Reels: Lew’s LFS Speed Spool 7.5:1

Fluorocarbon: 14-pound Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon

Braid: 30-pound Sufix 832 Braid 

Hooks5/0 offset, 4/0 EWG, 4/0 flipping hooks, trailer hooks, wacky hooks, dropshot hooks

Weights1/4 ounce, 3/8 ounce, 1/2 ounce, dropshot weights 

Terminal tackle1/4 ounce shakey head, bobber stoppers, whacky tool