Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip

How Mike Cheatham Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip with the ANGLR App

This has by far been my least productive year since I started fishing kayak bass tournaments; if you only consider wins vs. well, not wins. And there is a voice inside my head that says this is all that matters, but I know that I have learned a lot; even in finishes below .500. So I work hard at not beating myself up and remembering that I am still a better angler than I was this time last year; and less than I will be this time next year – I just haven’t got it done on tournament days this year. 

New lures, new techniques on new waters and even a new kayak are a part of the growth I have experienced. I have spent more time watching the depth finder (too much maybe?) and understanding what lies beneath the water, more time watching the weather and even more time reading maps; but I am also taking it to a new level with the ANGLR app.

I would be lying if I said I was an instant convert. I have said before that the first time I talked with Derek at ANGLR, I told him that I was not a “journal” kind of guy.  I had never kept pages of documentation about lakes or what worked. To be transparent, I prided myself on just remembering what I used in certain conditions. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I learned to fully appreciate the value of the tool. I want to recount a tournament day to explain what I learned and how I can use the data I am collecting with the ANGLR app.

Looking Back at My Data

I was fishing in a creek during a CAKFG tournament, the place where I go to regain confidence, so I knew what to expect. It was late August, an afternoon tournament on local area creeks, the water was finally down to the summer pool after a lot of rain… and I could see shadows under the water – I couldn’t have been happier with the tournament timing. I knew the fish would be scattered on these spots between the hours of 5:30 p.m. until around 7:00 p.m.; they almost always were and would be busting some serious topwater.  Now, I had pre-fished and had not found them, but knew the possibilities existed for a great day (not the science of why) and who doesn’t love some topwater action.

The thing is, I had always said “they are either there, or they are not” about the creek. And if anyone asks, I will still say that is still true. But, I learned on that August afternoon (though not until after I had pulled into a 5-inch lead over the field) variables I hadn’t paid that much attention to until reviewing my ANGLR data.  

True to what experience had taught me about my home water, I didn’t catch fish from the starting time of 4 until about 5. Then I tossed a fluke over a protruding stick and hooked an 11-inch spot. Then I made it to a point where I could hear the voices of the other anglers who had gone further up the creek and I turned around.  

5:30; I popped a Baby Bass Spook Junior over one of the shadows just below the surface…and hooked a 6 to 7-pound bass! It fought, I got it to the boat, and then it dove under the kayak and cut itself loose on the fins. I thought, “now I will skunk”. It has been that kind of year, but before 7, I had hooked a 19.5, a 17.75 and a few 12’s before finishing at almost 7:30 with a 12.5-inch bass. Then nothing. It was exactly how many days had gone on Yellow Creek, and how many more will go.  

I recorded the trip with the Anglr app, and since I never fish after dark (ever) and got to check in long before the 10:30 time; I reviewed that data. Again, just a few days before, I had fished the same location with topwater and not had luck. I wanted to understand the “they are either there, or they are not” knowledge that I had come to expect from the creek.

Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip(1)

Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip(2)

Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip(3)

The water temperature had been the same, the flow was lower and the barometric pressure and wind had been different a few days earlier. On tournament day, between the hours I caught fish, the wind had picked up, the barometric pressure had seen a slight drop and the flow was slowing from above (around 5:30) to below what it had been (around 7:00) the day I didn’t have luck. And a few days later – I would fish the same location with the exact lure and only have a single blowup on the spook. The water temp had dropped 4-degrees, the water had risen 2-inches, and the barometric pressure and flow were not comparable.

I realize this is a small sample set and to fully understand the creek I have fished since I was a teenager. I will need to collect more data, but now I understand it can only help me to improve and hopefully win more; the science is real. I now have a picture of what affected my day, and what conditions had allowed me to catch fish on my favorite body of water.

Gathering More Data to Further My Learning

Kayak fishing is very different than running the rivers and lakes in a bass boat. Once you choose a location, you are making a commitment to fish an area, so planning is critical. By using the ANGLR app for all pre-fishing and tournaments to record conditions; I can collect data to better interpret what may be happening in similar areas, but also on different days. Before tournaments, I can use this data as a companion to map study, videos, friends and past experience to better form a game plan; helping me to understand conditions that lead to success during different times of the year on different bodies of water.  

It may not make me a winner on day one… but as I study maps, techniques and now my ANGLR data, I will only grow my knowledge and skill. I suggest that if you are new to this technology, as I am, take it somewhere you think you understand and use it to study familiar water. In my professional (corporate America) career, I have worked very hard to keep off the radar… stay off the screen. 

You can have an extremely good life and earn a living being virtually invisible, and life is much simpler. The thought of having that visibility has always been something I avoided, never wanted that bullseye on my back.  That hasn’t changed…but now I am thankful to have an ANGLR Bullseye on my hat.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.

Mike Cheatham


May 2016, sat in my first kayak. October 2016, skunked in my first tournament. Spring of 2017, placed 11th in the KBF Open and have chased the addiction since. Fishing is the one place my mind gets quiet, the place I have always found peace. To do it competitively with a great bunch of folks is just a bonus. To have an opportunity to combine my love for fishing with writing...I feel like I have finally found a place in this world! I do have the support of a wonderful woman who understands my need to be on the water; she supports my dreams is truly good.

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