Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | A Breakdown with Zach Soulliere

Zach Souilliere grew up around Port Huron where he went to Saginaw Valley College and played ice hockey. After college he started working for a healthcare company, recruiting nurses for in-home pediatric care. But since he no longer played hockey, Souilliere “didn’t really have a lot to do and found a lot of free time”.  

Zack is an angler who loves chasing smallmouth. He prefers to fish the smaller rivers near his home in Bay City, Michigan; but is no stranger to places like Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City or Lake St. Clair outside of Detroit (arguably, the best smallmouth lake in the states).  His passion for fishing really came through as he explained how he uses a “tube” to catch smallmouth and big largemouth.

When I first started, I fished spinnerbaits, frogs, and senkos. After I got into it a little more, I wanted to try other baits and found that a tube could replace a lot of other baits. I catch fish on senkos, but I catch more fish with tubes; I think I get better reactions – at least up here in Michigan. I learn toward tubes because of the way they move through the water, the different ways you can fish them and there are a lot of color variations you can use.

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Zach walked through some techniques he uses when fishing a tube.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | As a Pseudo Ned Rig

There are times of the year where they will eat anything… but early in the year, they will not.  That is the tough thing about St. Clair, I know a lot of guys don’t like ned rigs or finesse fishing, but Lake St. Clair is just one of those lakes. If the presentation isn’t exactly what they want, you are not going to catch fish.

Every year I have been there I have caught fish on tubes, running them different ways. I like to take a ned head and jam it up inside the tube to hide that hook then just bouncing it across the weed lines.  

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If it is a rocky bottom, I am going to work it like a crawfish. Bumping it across the bottom, jumping it every so often.

This rig can be virtually weedless, allows you to keep a small profile, and can be used for bedding fish – or for fish that are feeding.  

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | As a Swimbait

I fished the Border Classic a couple of years ago and on day one, threw a white tube with a red underskirt. I had rigged it with a weighted swimbait hook and bounced it over the weeds and put up 93-inches. Day two came and I couldn’t catch a single fish with that lure. Everyone around me was catching fish, but I couldn’t. I caught three largemouth.  I asked the guy fifty yards from me, who was catching fish all day what he was using.  He said “A tube, but it was sand-colored today.”  That’s how finicky those fish can be.

One of the things I have really worked on over the last couple of years is bait presentation and matching baitfish.

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I’d recommended the Trokar Weighted Swimbait hooks for this type of fishing. You can throw them on a weighted hook and keep them right down on the bottom; since you can make them weedless.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | As a Weightless Rig

With tubes, I fish a lot of rivers. Up by me, there is Saginaw bay… the closest inland lake to me is about thirty-five minutes away from me. But there are about eight rivers that are within fifteen to twenty minutes. In July, I will go out on the Rifle River that dumps into Saginaw Bay and take a 3/0 hook with no weight on it at all and just throw it under trees and let it sink. 

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The smallmouth just go crazy on the tubes up there. Especially on those rivers when you can find those deep drop areas with little current, they love ‘em. If there is a current, I will throw a weighted hook on, but if it is one of those pools where it is standing still, I will throw that tube under overhanging banks and trees and let it sink as slow as possible. I have watched fish come from five feet away and watch it falling for a minute, then take it. 

Last year my biggest river smallmouth came on the technique the first week of July; 21 and ¾ inches.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass |As a Topwater Bait

 Frogs just don’t work for me, I struggle with frogs. With that in mind, I found a way to make a tube work for me in areas most anglers would normally throw a frog.

I throw it weightless into lily pads and can work it on top, or let it fall between the pads. I like the four-inch tubes with extra appendages; I take one of those appendages and use it to make the hook weedless. 

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This allows you to let that tube drop just below the lily pad. These are heavier, and it will run just below those lily pads, so you don’t get hung up on top, but it causes enough commotion that you are going to pull fish from areas. 

It isn’t like a frog, so you get a better hook-up ratio… a lot of guys say “why not use a buzzbait or a frog” and I tell them I  can make that tube move very differently in the water. I can let it sink, then jerk it like a jerk bait for a second… once it gets to the top of the water… let it sink again… through the weeds and repeat all the way back to the kayak.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | Zach’s Expertise

This Michigan angler spent a lot of time learning and observing. Working on presentation. 

I’ve done well on everything from Yum Tubes to a guy doing custom colors and baits for me last year. It seems that presentation is really more critical. I like fishing them on rock pile areas or weed lines. As I said, I fish mostly rivers, but there are times during the year when they shut down the rivers for the walleye spawn to keep people from snagging them. During that time, and during the spawn, I fish lakes. Then I go back to rivers because the fish spawn later in the year.

So, if you have never fished with tubes or are just interested, give these techniques a try. I am not going to kid anyone, since the conversation, I have tried a couple of the techniques he told me about down here in Tennessee. My fishing buddies would look into my kayak; “is that a tube you have tied on!”…well, yes it was. And they work. Even here in the south too. I haven’t tried them on a drop shot rig (yet), but Zach tells me this can be productive also!

A Little More About Zach Soulliere 

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I had never fished growing up”, so he took some worms out to ponds and decided to teach himself. As he progressed, he could see fish jumping in the rivers, and soon found kayaking as a way to reach those fish. Then he got involved in tournaments. He and his wife Jenna, who works in Autism care, found that they enjoyed the sport as a couple.  

Zack is part of the team for Smisek’s Baits. He and his wife are both in Hobies; Zach also teaming up with Fireball Outdoor Products, Stretching Lines Apparel and Robohawk.

What To Do If You Flip Your Kayak

It is fall and there are more and more kayaks on the water, but all are not created equal. It seems that many companies are recognizing the demand and offering all shapes and sizes in an effort to give consumers the most affordable options. This is great for people looking to get their feet wet, but it can also lead to your entire body immersed!  

Before I get assaulted, I am not saying that one kayak over the other is more likely to get you wet; I know guys who have flipped a Hobie PA14 (one of the more stable kayaks on the market) by getting too comfortable with its stability. It is just a fact that with this many kayaks on the water, there are going to be folks ending up in the water this fall.  The key – be prepared.

Wear Your PFD

First (and the most important), wear your lifejacket. Let me say that again… wear your lifejacket 

The only time I have gone over, or under water, I was on the ramp. The first was getting in a kayak, then recently I slipped on a ramp and slid under some kayaks – but had on my life jacket so made it back to shore with no issues.  

I pass a lot of people sitting on their life jackets or with them tied to the kayak. Once you flip, your stuff scatters creating a debris field and making it hard to get everything back… that life jacket goes with it if not attached to you. Please wear it.

Don’t have one? Check out these kayak fishing PFD options and do yourself a favor.

Here Are Some Other Tips For When You Flip Your Kayak  

1.  Don’t panic. It will be ok (since you have your lifejacket on!). Take a deep breath, assess where you are, then look for your boat. If it is a sit-on-top, it should be floating. If it is a sit-in-side, it may be filled with water, but the plastic will still keep it somewhat buoyant.  

2. If you are in shallow water – just stand up. You didn’t panic, so by now you know you can touch the bottom. If not, try to move your boat close to shore. 

Both of these may not be an option.  

There are times you will need to re-board the kayak to get back to shore. I am going to assume that like most, you haven’t thought about that as a task that may happen, so you didn’t practice it. So, the real tip #2; practice getting back in your kayak. Google videos on methods to gain entry to the kayak from the water; then try them. This is an excellent video by Jeff Little showing how to re-board.   

3. Consider what matters most to you. It sucks losing your stuff, it can be costly and painful to replace; but it is just stuff. Make the priority you. Once you have landed back in your kayak, you can track down the items you lost – or maybe not – but either way, you are safe. 

A side tip to this one – lanyards. Lanyards allow you to attach all items you brought with you to the kayak. So, when you get that back, your stuff is all connected. Dry bags will also help keep your phone and keys safe – if you use them. But again, you are what matters. Get to safety first, then worry about your stuff.

There is no good time to flip your kayak. But if there was, a day when you left the ramp in shorts and flip flops is much better than when you are bundled up during the winter months when the water temp is low. (please read this article too – cold weather kayaking). 

 If you are going out for the first time, try to do it when the weather is nice, the water temp is warm and the wind is laying down. Always watch the weather, always let someone know where you are going… and always wear the lifejacket. Getting your kayak and gear will go so much better for you with that PFD attached to your body (correctly) and not floating away with the wind or current.

Kayak Fishing Tips | 5 Tips to Help a New Kayak Tournament Angler

These 5 tips, or what I call “lessons I learned the hard way”, are geared toward the newer kayak tournament anglers.  I think it is important that you take a few minutes to understand not only what you are getting into, but to know about a couple of tiny little errors that we see happen all too often among those new to the sport.    

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Matt  Spencer after a less than great day on the water.

Now, I am going to suggest upfront that you do not do it. Do not get into kayak tournaments and chase them across the trails. Don’t do it! You will eventually find yourself sleeping in parking lots, on ramps, in the driveways of friend’s houses or on the floor of a VRBO that has one too many people in it. 

You will eat bad, not eat, run out of gas… have flats or car trouble… not sleep… hit a deer… not catch fish, hate yourself for doing it some days. 

But since like me, you will not listen, there are many benefits of becoming a part of the community too. You will make friends who will consider you family. You will find this is one of the most sharing and giving groups of people; even with the competitive spirit of it all, they will give you tips and advice, lures, food and water… maybe not exact GPS coordinates on tournament day – but some will give you their third or fourth spots if you are struggling to find fish at a venue. And while you will still hate yourself for doing it some days, you will also love it more than anything you have ever tried. Well… maybe.

Let’s get to the tips to help you do a bit better.

Kayak Fishing Tips | Tip #1

Find a local club, sign up with them and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is invaluable. There is most likely one within reach of your location that will welcome you, and teach you. My adventures started with a casual conversation on a ramp; a local club angler saw me and asked if I had ever fished a kayak tournament. I said no, then he gave me their contact info. Look on Facebook, use Google… ask another person in a kayak… ask me for help.  

My local group taught me the ropes; rules, how to measure fish, how to watch for other boats, how to check for weather and conditions before launching. They quickly brought me into the fold and even took me to locations I would have never fished and taught me the true value of kayak fishing.  

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CAKFG check-in

And they are now my friends. My family… and that grows with each year. Even though some move away, we still meet up at events in their new home town or at larger national events.

Kayak Fishing Tips | Tip #2

Get a net – and use it.

On the good days, you are going to catch a lot of fish. On the bad days, none. On a lot of days, you will get only three or five bites; you do not want to lose them. I have watched the game changing fish drop off as I tried to boat flip it. No more… I do not care if the fish looks like he may only be 12 inches, he is getting netted. Man, I hate to keep whining along on this one, but I lost a match during the winter before last because it was cold and I didn’t want to net a 13-inch fish; I knew it was safe. I lost it as I raised the line out of the water… and lost the match (by a fish) to a guy who I knew everyone would give me a hard time for losing to when it was over!  

And after you catch that fish, use the net to help keep him in the kayak when taking pictures.  More on that in a minute.

Kayak nets are a topic filled with opinions. But I will tell you what I told someone recently; don’t overthink it, and don’t over spend. My only real suggestion is that you get a rubberized net, it will save you cutting hooks out of the net (trust me)… and last you a much longer time. The Frabill nets at Walmart are my choice for these reasons – cheap, functional, available everywhere (I did lose one and was in Alabama) and built with rubber.  

Kayak Fishing Tips | Tip #3

Get a Ketch Board.

Invest in your last board upfront. I was not a fan of them, not going to lie. After using a Hawg Trough, they felt like a motor block. But if you plan to do this whole tournament thing, they are durable. They are not flexible, will not crack if you set it in the wrong place and seem to be the new standard as we move forward. 

It also removes doubt about any possible board manipulation during tournament measurement.  

The expense of a couple of broken Hawg Trough boards (I had three) will quickly make the Ketch board cost effective. It really is a better piece of equipment in the long run. I would strongly suggest you pick up a tether like those offered by Rogue Fishing just in case it goes overboard; it will not float.

Kayak Fishing Tips | Tip #4

Practice taking pics.

Alright, so you are the best angler the world has seen. You can flat catch ‘em on any day, in any conditions. But unless you can get a solid picture of those catches on tournament day, you might as well be on the couch.  

There are very finite rules about the fish placement; orientation, hand location, mouth position, identifiers, etc. that must be followed on all trails. Read them (KBF rules here see #9) and learn them… then practice it, over and over. Learn “your” technique. Some guys use fish grips to calm the fish, some guys wet the board ahead of trying to place the fish on the board and some (myself) just take the picture and get it done.

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I have a routine I want to share, but again, you will develop your own.  

I catch the fish, netting him. I hold the fish in the net while removing the hook. Then I set the net on the left side of the kayak as a wall to keep the fish in should it try to escape; they will with a motion you will soon learn (why I use the net). Then still holding the fish, I tilt the board and put the bump end of the board against that net… get out my phone, lay the fish on the board and get a quick picture. Then I see if I can reposition the fish and eek out another quarter of an inch.  

Practice, and then practice; and realize that you are still going to lose one or ten along the way.  

And before you let go of that fish, verify the mouth is closed and the identifier is visible.  

Kayak Fishing Tips | Tip #5

Be realistic.

Harsh realities are a part of the human experience. Be prepared for that when you start kayak fishing.  

You are not going to win every time you sign up. You are going to lose some really good fish at the worst possible time… and not everyone gets a trophy here. There is a winner and most tournaments do not pay deep into the field; so, there are many others who fund the winner’s trips. Sometimes, you’re on the right end of that equation; more often, it is just a long ride home with the memory of time with friends.

The sport is not to a point that I can make a living that accommodates the lifestyle that my day job as an engineer affords me, and most likely is not going to in the next couple of years. If you are looking to make a solid living doing just tournaments, well you better catch every fish and get perfect pictures… and then beat all of the others who in spite of the reality (like me) still hold out for the dream of greatness and recognition.

I could talk to you for hours on all that I have learned in the past years fishing kayak tournaments against the best there is on the water. I would welcome the opportunity to share the experiences and help you to be better, but there are hundreds more who can also help you to enjoy our sport.  

If you are considering it, sign up for a local tournament. If you have no idea where to start, Facebook and Google will help you to find local anglers. I can promise you that there is someone who can walk you through your first event, someone who will show you how to measure fish, someone who will be (if nothing more) a new friend for life.

Kayak Fishing Podcasts | The Top 5 Kayak Fishing Podcasts

Podcasts and webcasts have become so integrated into our daily routine that it would be hard to revert to a time before they existed. It is possible to listen to them live or catch up at a later date; on your drive in to work or on the water. These outlets can provide content, good or bad, offering advice and/or information; or maybe just open up conversations.

I see the value these feeds have in our community, and want to share a few that I have listened to over the last couple of years. They provide a method to get information out to local groups, nationwide audiences or even to communicate globally on any subject.   

Here is my short list of favorites, again not trying to be comprehensive, so in the end I will ask for your input to get the word out about any others that touch the kayak community. List yours in the comments so we can share them.

Kayak Fishing Podcasts #1: Westbrook Wednesday & Weigh-In

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I am grouping the first two pod/web casts because they are both from the mind of Scott Beutjer. Scott is an angler whose passion for the sport doesn’t have many equals, and it shows in his enthusiasm on the broadcasts.  

The two are different in their content, but Scott will tell you that “both of the shows I’m part of began from a place of need. I wanted to know more about this sport and the people in the community. I could not find the answers to the questions I had, so I just started inviting people to answer my questions.

“The Westbrook Wednesday show is a game we call “plead the fifth” with six questions designed for storytelling about the guest’s life on and off the water.”

“The Weigh-In show, it’s basically just an opportunity for me to weigh in others opinions and my own on various topics across the community. It’s a more evolving show every week, always something different. Not usually one person or one subject focused like the Westbrook show.” 

If you talk to Beutjer about what really gets him excited about both, it is a simple answer that he and I had discussed the first time we met.  

“Storytelling… I also want answers to all of my questions, and I naturally have a lot of those… At the end of the day I love a good story.” 

While Scott had the vision to create the formats, he acknowledges that he is not alone and gives credit to those who support him. “The Westbrook Supply Company team gives a lot of support behind the scenes; keep the sites going and show flowing. The weigh-in show has amazing support from FishUSA & KBF.

“I am amazingly grateful to every guest that has ever volunteered their time to come on one of my shows and help me communicate their story with the world.  We are getting close to the half a million downloads and we are just getting started!”

These two are definitely worth some time, and my two personal favorites. They are from the perspective of a guy who loves the sport, and wants to give recognition to those who are doing the work to promote kayak bass fishing.  Don’t miss out on them.

Kayak Fishing Podcasts #2: Topwater Live

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This Michigan based cast is really an extension of the Michigan Kayak Trail. It was created by Mike Anderson and his brother in law Kyle Van Leuvan, with tech intern Grant Bennick helping on the controls. Mike helped me to understand where they started.  

“I will give you a rundown of what Topwater Live is and how we began. The name Topwater, confusing as it is actually stemmed from our software development companies umbrella. Kyle and I have always had a passion for fishing and are avid enthusiasts of the sport. So, when we founded our software company, we decided to stick with a name that was unique for the industry that we work in on a daily basis and reminded us of something that we love, fishing.  We founded The Dropshot Group several years ago. The Dropshot Group encompasses several different branches of our businesses software development umbrella which includes &  Two of our favorite and preferred styles of fishing.”

The show started “after we had completed the Topwater season.  We wanted to keep the momentum going. We were having so much fun with our local clubs that we hated to see the camaraderie disappear all winter. We had gained traction with sponsors and our local anglers. We saw the need for a platform that recognized not only the national anglers but our local tournament anglers as well. Our goal was to help grow the sport of kayak fishing as a whole.”  

“The success of our series paired with the reach of our unique Topwater Live broadcast gives us the ability to reach anglers from all over the country.  We see no reason why other states cannot adopt the Topwater Series brand and schedule format and have success. We have created a totally unique kayak tournament fishing format unlike any in the United States geared purposely towards the everyday grass roots angler.”

“We choose our content in a variety of ways. Each episode holds something different. In depth conversations with our local clubs and its participants, highlights on current fishing industry news.  We put high focus on the youth level and lady anglers in order to grow the sport.  We add highlights on the pro tours and anglers that fish nationally with remote guest calling in each week. We involve other podcast hosts to join us for conversations and cross platforms. We work with our sponsors and feature those who help us continue to grow.”

That is why I am listing this as one of my favorites. It is a great format that many local clubs can follow to keep their base connected during the off season while providing knowledge and up to date information. This also allows for membership growth, creates opportunities for young anglers and just provides great content. Topwater Live is definitely worth a look, especially if you are thinking about providing some content yourself.

Kayak Fishing Podcasts #3: Paddle and Fin

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Brian Schiller started Paddle and Fin in July of 2018.  

“I started it originally with a good friend of mine when we got into kayak fishing. We wanted to document our journey in kayak fishing to share our mistakes and successes to help others out. When we started, we struggled to find good info.” 

But by 2019 he had added new episodes, delivering content strictly focused on kayak fishing 6 days a week; with plans for that seventh day.  When talking with folks at boat ramps before launches, I have been caught in conversations where people say “did you see that Paddle and Fin show where…”.  

It is by kayak anglers, hosting kayak anglers who talk about kayaking.  Genuine and as real as it gets.  They keep current with the latest events and developments in the kayak tournament world and industry.  

There are opportunities to catch Paddle and Fin, while tailoring your listening based on your interests: 

  • Monday- Bass Fishing For Noobs hosts- Ryan Milford & Sean Lavery – focuses on how to fish certain techniques with guests
  • Monday Night Facebook Live – Og Show.  Host- Brian Schiller – Angler, manufacture highlights & Storytelling
  • Tuesday OG Live Show goes on Podcast platforms

Then they provide alternating Wednesday content:

  • Every other weds- Adventures of Outdoorwoman host- Susie Roloff. highlights Women Anglers and getting a woman’s perspective 
  • Every other Weds.- Chasin’ The Tide Saltwater segment Host- Dustin Nichols
  • Thurs- Final Cast Host- Josh Eldridge & Brad Hicks – Product Review Segment
  • Friday- Reel Down. Hosts Sam Jones & Dan Perry – Tournament recaps across the nation
  • Sat. Coming soon. Segment called Off The Water

And, alternating Sunday content:

  • Every other Sunday – Mixed Bag. Host- Jason Ricketts.  Focuses on all aspects out of a kayak
  • Every other Sunday- Afterhours.  A bunch of hosts get together to shoot the breeze, talk about what’s going on in kayak fishing, and tell fish stories

If you can’t find something on this one to interest you… well, I really don’t know what to tell you.

Kayak Fishing Podcasts #4: KBN Live

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Say what you will, feel what you will, about the Kayak Bass Nation Facebook page; the group has some of the most passionate and solid anglers among its members. And though the Facebook page is not for everyone, KBN Live is a great place to hear some of the latest info from the hottest anglers on the trails; and some of the biggest controversies.   

It was created from the minds of Ryan Lambert and Jeff Malott who “wanted a place where all topics could be covered. The goal of KBN Live was to have on guests from all sectors of the sport from shop owners, top anglers, tourney directors, and manufacturers.

And they have stayed true to that mission. I have not listened to a broadcast that was not well produced or informative.  It has a very relaxed “in your living room” feel while providing a great deal of content.  

Ryan will tell you that their goals were not just to cover who won, but to “tackle whatever headlines are happening in the kayak world, not just the pretty stuff. Addressing the issues publicly is the only way to educate the new anglers while also letting folks know that they will not be brushed under the rug.

The guys do their best to remain neutral, allowing them to tackle every segment of the kayak fishing industry. 

“Over the years we have seen some great changes come about and we pride ourselves in having no vested interest in any one entity or the other.” 

Lambert does understand that the people who follow and are part of the “Nation” are key to KBN Live’s success.  

“I’d like to thank The Nation for supporting us in the beginning and now the exponential growth we have experienced.”

KBN Live is another “must listen” when it comes to being a part of the kayak community.

Kayak Fishing Podcasts #5: Dark Waters Kayak Fishing Podcast

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The Dark Waters Kayak Fishing Podcast started by, and featuring, Josh Smith is a little more laid back than most. This is a one man show that may not always be for the youngest members of the kayak community because according to Josh, “sometimes we just drink beers and run our mouths about anything fishing related. The show can be a little raw. Cursing and trash talking is allowed as long as it’s just fun in nature.

This is a place where you get to hear open conversations from anglers who are there just to talk about fishing. Josh brings on guests to just talk or promote events that may be coming up soon in our community.

“It’s only me and I just bring different guest on every episode. Mainly I bring kayak anglers to come on the show to share their stories on how they got into the sport, tournaments or whatever. The motivation behind the show was to create content that’s just fun. Not trying to make better anglers or anything, just want to let people talk about the sport in general.”

So there’s my top 5 list! I am aware of many others that exist but have not found (or made?) the time to get engaged with them.  

What are your favorite kayak fishing pod/web casts?  List them in the comments and let’s get them some attention.

Winning the KBF AOY and the Ten in One Year – Who’s Done It?

Now, everyone knows that fishing can be unpredictable and the chances of winning every event you enter is not high. If it were that easy, there would most likely not be as many tournaments because the outcome would be predetermined based on one or two anglers always being the top performers. But there has been a trend over the last three years in KBF; the AOY has moved on to win the Ten.  

Winning either is an achievement in itself, but winning both is quite the accomplishment.

I talked with AOY and Ten winners Rus Snyders (2019 AOY and the Ten in 2020), Cody Milton (2018 AOY and the Ten in 2019) and Jamie Denison (2017 AOY and the Ten in 2018) to get their thoughts on what might be happening. I wondered if there was some secret they could share, some mystical fish sauce or trick since they had won both.

KBF AOY and the Ten Winner #1: Jamie Denison

Jamie Denison will try to tell you that it was just luck. 

“To be honest with you, it was pure coincidence. I had to fish the Ten and do well to win AOY.  It was just the way it fell that day. It was a six-way tie, and the tiebreaker was the Ten. It was a tough day. I was in the right place, the right time with the right frame of mind and got five bites and caught them. Now I had put myself in the position to win, but I just executed that day.”

But, talk with all of them long enough you will learn that all three anglers who won AOY and the Ten share one thing – confidence. They believed they could win, and fished like it. Jamie shared his philosophy on the water.  

“90 percent of fishing is between your ears.  It never enters my mind that I am not going to catch five fish.  That thought never enters my mind until I set my rod down and tell myself; ‘Well, I fell a little short today’.  That thought never enters my mind.  If I have five minutes left and I need two or three fish, I still think that I can do it – I never think that I can’t do it.  If you’re thinking that way, you are beat before you leave the ramp.  I hear guys saying that I don’t know if I can get five today…if you think that, do yourself a favor buddy, sleep in…’cause you are beat!”

“Boat position is important, but not paying attention is as critical.  If you are at some weird angle and have your line out…then get distracted, you will miss some fish.  But even when you make those mistakes, you cannot fish any less hard.  And until I load the boat without five, I never think it is over.”

That mindset seems to work well for him.  In 2017 he won the Ten, sealed up AOY, won the trail and challenge series championship. If he had won the National Championship, he would have won all of the major events!

Jamie Denison’s season saw a tie between several anglers going into the Ten, so the AOY was not yet determined. KBF changed the point system, and introduced the trail, challenge and pro championships. This made choosing the AOY a more definitive process; not leaving it to be decided in conjunction with the Ten.  

KBF AOY and the Ten Winner #2: Cody Milton

Cody Milton says that the momentum rolling from AOY into the Ten is also a factor. 

“I think it is absolutely ending the year ‘that on fire’ to a degree. I mean, it wasn’t really that way for me, but it seems that it totally was for Jamie and Rus. I think Rus had won the last four tournaments before that and Jamie was winning too.”

“I had a really good year, then a lot of craziness happened, the last few tournaments I got really sick. So, it was really odd for me. But I think it is just you pick it up where you left it. I mean I had fished Bienville before and had success, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know it. I had won there before so I felt good going down there.”

“I remember that Jay Wallen almost did it, he had a lead the year he won AOY, but lost the Ten on Bienville the last day.”

KBF AOY and the Ten Winner #3: Rus Snyders

Rus was the first to use the word confidence although it had already been said in different ways by Cody and Jamie. 

“Fishing. A lot of it is confidence! I mean you get the momentum too – you get on these rolls where you stop guessing, it is just so mental. You just get confident and stop second guessing things. You just believe that you can figure it out because you have been figuring it out.  Just a very positive mental attitude. That just carries over.”  

“The Ten was the first tourney I had fished since the trail championships in Lacrosse. I went out west and did some saltwater fishing, only getting out a few hours locally. I spent time working on getting my truck ready, organizing gear and doing some power washing jobs. I spent fifty hours working on the roof of the house I live in, and built a chicken coop. I didn’t stop thinking about the Ten, I studied and stuff, but I was making myself hungry to go fish. I didn’t want to burn myself out; I wanted to have the drive to do the work, have a clear head.”  

And all of it paid off as he won the Ten in impressive fashion.

“All the best anglers get on rolls, then it ends at some point. So you ride it while you can. Enjoy it and soak it all in. Just be grateful while you can” was how Rus explained how he feels about the next year.  “I wasn’t going to dedicate this year to fishing, that wasn’t my plan, but with the success I had, I am going all out and not doing as many power washing jobs!”

Rus, Jamie and Cody agree that they are shooting for the top spots again. With their mindset, they will most certainly enjoy continued success. This year will have some challenges with all that is going on in the world, but keep your eyes on all three; check the KBF standings and I bet if they are not at the top, they will be just behind the leaders.

How to Practice for a Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament

Everyone has their own strategy when it comes to practicing for bass fishing tournaments. But that strategy can change drastically when fishing a kayak bass fishing tournament.

You do not need a full article explanation detailing the differences of a boat versus a kayak. You know that with a kayak, you are restricted in the amount of area you can cover in a certain amount of time. Therefore, there is a stronger emphasis on the importance of your “pre-practice”: your map study, forage research, and what everyone utilizes now… YouTube videos.

Locating Prospective Areas

Let’s say on average you have two full days to practice for a tournament. There is only so much ground that you can cover in a kayak. Plus you still have to take the time to not only discover the quantity and quality of fish in that area but also to understand how they are behaving and what is going to make them bite. Here is a recommendation on how to organize your strategy when practicing for a kayak tournament; keep in mind, this can vary on the person and body of water.

The first order of business is going to be opening the Navionics App or ANGLR app, to begin researching viable ramps and sites that you can launch a kayak at. This is important because if there are 15-miles between 2 different launches, a spot in the middle of the two may be out of reach and which could be a huge waste of time if it turns out to be a ghost town. 

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In your map study, be looking for areas that could have the potential for the time of year that you are fishing. 

Typically, you should try to come up with at least 5 different prospective areas that are within 3 to 4 miles of a launch (This distance can vary on the angler and the mobility of their kayak). Once you have that, you should make a layout of how you are going to run your prospective areas, almost like a tentative schedule.

Determine Your Baits Based on Forage

The next order of business will be researching the forage that lives in that body of water, determining what could play during that time of year, and therefore, rigging up baits that will mimic that forage. Now, that being said, this can change once you arrive at the lake and have seen and discovered a different pattern. 

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However, researching forage is a great starting point to find what the fish might commit to when you hit the water.

Hitting the Water for Practice

Once you have completed your pre-practice and have rigged up your baits, you will head to the lake and begin to run your prospective areas. Now when you are exploring a certain area, stretch, etc., you should be doing a multitude of things. 

Pay close attention to your electronics, paying attention to visual and audible cues, and unless you are strictly graphing, have a moving bait in your hands and cover as much water as you can. Now, this can alter depending on if you are running shallow water versus deeper water. 

In deeper water, you are typically graphing until you find fish and/or structure, then with that you can decide to take a few casts versus with shallow water you will likely be constantly casting and using your eyes to try and find clues.

Nearing the end of your practice day, you should evaluate the clues that you have gathered to try to formulate if you have found a pattern or even just high-quality areas, and if not, what should you be looking for or doing differently. These are important questions because they can help you narrow down what you are looking for, making you more efficient. 

If you have not found anything, it can help you re-focus. Should you have the information you need, you will determine your plan of action, the location site you will launch your kayak, and with that you will hopefully have a successful tournament day!

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If you are following these steps and asking yourself the right questions, it can help you become a better tournament angler and make your practice more efficient!

Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 Accessories | Basic Options not to Overlook

So you’ve just gone out and purchased your Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110. First off, congratulations on selecting an awesome kayak! But you’re not here for congratulations, you’re here to see what modifications and accessories you can or should add to make this kayak fit your needs on the water. Thankfully for you, we sat down with Joshua Thomas, Founder & CEO of Vibe Kayaks to get a full rundown of the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 accessories options.

Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 Accessories Options

Deck Padding

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Deck padding helps to deafen the sound you make while moving around on the water. It also makes it more comfortable to stand throughout those long days on the water. Deck padding is incredibly helpful in shallow water so you’re not banging and clanging around with pliers and tools between casts and spooking nearby fish. 

Anchor Trolley

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Having an anchor trolley allows you to position exactly where your anchor point is, be it bow or stern or somewhere in between. This can be incredibly helpful when fishing current or trying to position your boat along a windblown point. 

Anchor Pole

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The Vibe Anchor pole is incredibly helpful for shallow water anglers. Instead of paddling, quietly pole your way along so you can avoid spooking fish during the spawn or along grass flats. 

Rod Holders

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There are so many options for rod holders these days. As you saw in the video, Josh uses the Omega Pro from YakAttack. The Omega Pro has an extension in it which allows you to position the rod holder higher than other options. Another option Josh likes is a ram mount rod holder which allows you lock-in your reel in the rod holder to avoid it getting taken by a fish while you might not be paying attention. 

Line Cutterz Ring

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The Line Cutterz ring fits really well on the frame of the seat on your Sea Ghost. This ring allows you to quickly cut your line, even braided line, to swap baits easily on the water.

Surface Mount Retractor

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A surface mount retractor is easy to mount and allows you to leash fish grips, pliers, or any other tool you might want to keep handy directly on a cord that you can quickly grab and use, then allow it to retract back for safekeeping. 

Stand Assist Strap

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A stand assist strap helps you for standing up and sitting down in your Sea Ghost. This strap can even be helpful for getting in and out of your kayak safely. Josh recommends the YakGear Stand Assist Strap. All Vibe Kayaks come with a pad eye upfront that you can simply loop your stand assist strap through for easy installation.

YakAttack Command Stand

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The YakAttack Command Stand allows you to pull yourself up, lean against it while casting or reeling, and you can even add grips to it for holding your paddle. The YakAttack Command Stand has the ability to fold flat which makes it easy to transport or put away when you’re on the water and no longer need it. 

Kayak Crate

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Similar to rod holders, there are tons of different crate options for your kayak. Josh personally prefers the NRS Ambush kayak crate. It comes with three rod holders in the back, tons of pockets, and tackle trays inside. It’s a great way to store your rods, baits, and other tackle. 

YakGear Visicarbon Pro

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The YakGear Visicarbon Pro is a carbon pole with an orange flag for visibility and an LED light for those early mornings or late evenings on the water. Safety is of the utmost importance, no fish is worth putting yourself in danger on the water. As a final note, always remember to wear your PFD. 

Hopefully, this breakdown helps shed some light on the vast amount of Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 accessories available to your disposal. Remember to log your Vibe Kayak in the ANGLR app to get rewarded and log stats specific to your Sea Ghost like catches, distance paddled, and how many trips you’ve taken!

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Top 10 Items You Need to Get Into Fishing

What do you need to go fishing? Just fishing? Well, that can be so different depending on where you are from, and the environment in which you now live. I cannot tell you what you might need at the North Pole, nor can I give advice on the middle of the ocean; these would be places where a specialized technique might be required.  

However, I can hopefully help guide you to giving a local creek, pond, or lake a try – pretty much regardless of species. Maybe with these few items, you will find something. Let me share how easy it was for me as a small boy in Tennessee.

When we moved here (Tennessee from Alaska), my dad had this giant tackle box filled with Daredevils (thought it was a cool name back then), all kinds of spinners, some big clanging metal baits and other items that I still cannot tell you what they were; but all geared toward fishing in Alaska. Then, scattered in this box, among the jars of salmon eggs, I also found a couple of spinnerbaits and a few small crankbaits. I borrowed these, along with some hooks, and took them down to a pond that was on someone’s land behind our house.  

I learned that I could also flip cow patties (piles of cow manure dropped by live cows) and get worms that allowed me to catch bluegill. Some neighbors brought home some minnows from a trip and gave them to a couple of us in the neighborhood. I found the pond had crappie with those minnows… but the greatest gift that came from the pond, other than the experience of exploring and learning on my own, was when I found a chunk of metal with a blade on it. My first buzzbait!  Then when I learned how to use that… wow…

I know that not everyone has that big ‘ole tackle box to dig through. So, I am going to help you with 10 things that will help you, or your kids, get into fishing. I am going to assume that you know little to nothing about fishing and keep it very basic.

Fishing Item #1: A Fishing License

Let’s start with legalities. Unless you are fishing your own land, or have not reached a certain age (based on the state’s laws), you will need to purchase a fishing license.  

I was fishing with my 4-year-old daughter, casting and letting her reel it in, and “we” caught a fish. The next thing I heard was a voice asking for my license. I handed it to him, it had expired the day before. I told him I would run and get one, that I was just teaching my daughter about fishing… he said no… $150 later, I had learned to make sure I had a valid license.

Fishing Item #2: Rod and Reel

Again, I am making suggestions based on the assumption that you know little to nothing about what to get to start fishing; you are uncertain how much you might fish, or if you will even like it.  This is a two-part conversation to me:

For Young Kids:

When you get to the store, and they are very young, they are going to want that Spider-Man, Barbie, or Sponge-Bob set with some sunglasses and all. Experience has taught me that you can save yourself some money and aggravation by steering them toward something else if you really plan to try fishing. These sets are not the best options and you would be better served with something like a Zebco Dock Demon or a similar setup.  

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I picked up a spinning reel for my two-year-old grandson, and he was casting it like a champ in a few days. Now, you had to duck a bit because he lacked some accuracy – but he was learning.

For The Rest:

Same for you, don’t go with the Barbie setup. Also, I would strongly suggest you do not go straight to a bait caster; it might create frustration that ends your fishing career early – unless you are very adventurous. You can get a solid combo in the thirty to forty dollar range to allow you to test your interest. I have caught 6-pound bass on these setups, so don’t feel like you are cheating yourself with a less expensive choice. I fished with a cheap rod for twenty years and changed out reels; until I started competitive fishing, then I changed to a better rod.  

It will not take you long to decide if you need to invest in a better setup; you will know when it is time.

Fishing Item #3: Terminal Tackle

Pick up some hooks, floats, and sinkers. You can spend hours looking at the walls of gear, or you can pick up a set like the Tailored Tackle Fishing Kit 147 Pc of Gear Tackle Box. These items will allow you to catch bluegill, crappie, catfish, trout; just about anything in the right conditions and location.

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Fishing Item #4: Bait

Worms, minnows, crickets, corn… artificial baits like the Berkley brand… or chicken livers and shrimp. 

Worms are a staple for fishing. They will catch about anything and can be purchased, or dug out of the ground (like I said earlier, under cow poop or old logs – look under the pans below the downspouts on your house).  

Crickets can be caught and are great for bluegill/bream. Minnows can be trapped or purchased and will catch just about everything too. 

Chicken livers or day-old shrimp are perfect for targeting catfish. The corn, in case you have trout locally, they love it… and it will also catch bream.

Fishing Item #5: Lures

In the beginning, I will suggest you keep it very simple or you will end up with a wall of lures and plastics that you never use, and cannot give away – not saying I have that now, but I may know someone.  

The absolute best lure I have found and will tie on with every beginner I take out on the water (and used at Logan Martin this year in a tournament); a small spinner with a lead head. It will catch almost anything and can be used anywhere.

Buy these two things:

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Some Arkie Jig Spinners and some 1/8 ounce jig heads; intended for crappie fishing locally.  These can be tipped with so many choices.  I tell everyone I win local tournaments with (peanut butter and jelly) crappie jigs… they don’t know how honest I was being.

Fishing Item #6: Location

This can get you into fish, or in trouble. I say the latter because I have found a spot (when younger) and crossed private land to fish private ponds, only to be run out. So, I suggest you do a bit of research to make sure it is public. Some landowners will allow access; make sure to ask if you have found a cool looking pond.

I always looked for riprap, bridges, or places with clear access to fish before I had a boat. Riprap can be a hard walk, but it also holds bait; bait attracts fish. Fishing parallel to riprap banks can be highly productive. Look for Bridges, or under them. They are usually accessible from the road and public. These can be choke points that will also hold bait and in turn, fish. Boat ramps always hold a fish or two. In desperation on tourney day, more than one of us will hit a boat ramp looking for a keeper.

Fishing Item #7: Google Earth

This is a tool I didn’t have as a young ‘un learning to fish.  I would just wander and stumble over places to fish.  This can help you to find locations.  It can show you roads to piers or out of the way locations.  

Zoom in and follow the shore lines….find those bridges, rip rap or ramps and mark them to find later.  It is an invaluable tool to finding places to fish.

Fishing Item #8: YouTube

The internet has made it possible for anyone to post fishing information; and also makes it easy to find information about fishing. Do not underestimate the usefulness of this tool. I am not aware of any serious angler who doesn’t use it for research. It is just as valuable for the beginner; to learn how to fish certain waters and to catch certain species.  

If you know you are going to fish in the spring for something on a certain body of water; search for it on YouTube, there is most likely a video.

Fishing Item #9: A Map App

There are several maps available that will show you water depth. These will help you to know what the water you are fishing is like. I have passed folks fishing all day long. They don’t know that no matter how far they cast, the water is only 6 inches deep; the likely hood of catching fish is low for them.

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With a good app (like the ANGLR App), you can find water that is deeper and more likely to hold fish.  

Look for banks that are deeper than a couple of feet deep once you get offshore a few feet. If the bridge you found, with the riprap around it, has 5-10 feet of water running under it, spend some time there. Something will bite. If it is less than a foot… you might want to reconsider spending all afternoon on the shore.  

Fishing Item #10: Friends

These can be invaluable sources of knowledge and education. While anglers will typically lie about a lot when it comes to catching, they do enjoy teaching you what they know. Arranging a day on the water with someone who understands your skill level and interest can help you to enjoy the day more while learning.  

They can also help you to find better locations by season, improving your early success and keeping you interested in fishing.

These tips will not get you to the top of the tournament trails on day one, but we all have to start somewhere. Do not be afraid to reach out to local guys you see on Facebook either… most of us are more than willing to give you tips and (maybe not our best) locations to get you started. Hope you find some fish, and a new hobby that you can pass on like my father did to me; then I to my daughter, then to my grandson.

Tim Perkins | A Day in the Life of a Kayak Angler

I first met Tim Perkins at the 2017 National Championship/Open in the early morning hours as we waited to find out who had won some money. I had known about KBF for less than two months, had signed up for the Open (my fourth tournament ever) because I always wanted to fish a big tournament, and was sitting there all alone – I knew no one. Tim walked over and introduced himself and we started talking. Since then, we have shared a lot of water as he came up to fish subsequent National Championships and other KBF events.  

Who is Tim Perkins… what is his life like?

Tim is a kayak angler from Heflin, Alabama (halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta) and he is known by everyone who fishes any amount at all. His southern personality can fill a room and get the attention of those around him; plus he can catch fish!  

He fished professionally for a long time, then got out of it before meeting up with Drew Gregory and RiverBassin. That was the beginning of his time fishing in kayaks. He prefers skinny water but has the ability to be a threat on any body of water. That ability has not gone unrecognized in the industry either. He is the regional representative for Wilderness Kayaks southeastern team, has relationships with Torqueedo, Red Line, Pure Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ray Marine, and CableZ. Since retiring last May, he is finding more time to spend on his one addiction; fishing.

Tim Perkins | More Than Just a Kayak Angler 

He retired after 34 years of teaching elementary physical education, coaching and driving the bus in the small community with a population of just under 3500 people. Twelve of those years was spent running an alternative school, but he found true reward teaching in a Cleburne County Elementary School. “It was so rewarding working with kids.

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Tim and his wife Michelle.

Tim met his wife, Michelle (Moore) Perkins, early in life but they didn’t spend all of their lives together. They eventually got back together after a ten-year gap and have been together since that day.  

She moved back home and we tell each other now that it was meant to happen that way. If we had gotten married when we were young, we would have killed each other!”  

Several years ago, the couple turned an old rental house into Merry Little Lambs Early Learning Center in Heflin.  

His thirteen-year-old twins, Fisher and Berkley, are still adjusting to dad putting them on the bus instead of driving the bus, but they are still very close.  

They never knew anything about me but daddy at school. I would load them on the bus, be at school, drive them home. They didn’t know anything else!

Tim Perkins | Family Is Everything

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Tim and the boys.

The pair came as a bit of a shock to Tim and his wife. Tim came home to find her a bit upset.  

I am pregnant, and it’s twins,” she told him.

Tim replied “What!”  

But you know what man, that’s been the easiest thing we’ve ever done. They have been such a blessing. We named them John Berkley and Joseph Fisher. Joseph Fisher was named after my best friend and John Berkley was named after my grandfather. Joseph and my grandfather John were two of the best fishermen I have ever known.

I fished with Joseph every weekend and was called in to practice one Saturday. On the way home, I passed a wreck and found out it was him. Man, it’s amazing how the good Lord takes care of you sometimes. It was just not my time.

I pray every day that God just makes it ok for me. God, I know you know what I need, but just make it ok.

Michelle and Tim had five kids together but suffered one of the greatest losses a parent can endure when their son Hunter was in an accident coming back from iCast in July of last year.  

He was one of my pride and joys of life. And, uh, that kind of took the air out of my sails for a little bit. I mean it was like, well, the kayak community was just totally awesome, I could not, I mean there were people from everywhere, I mean everywhere. That’s the things that give me those good days. Sitting through that funeral, I needed that. To know how many lives that boy had actually touched, that’s what we are all supposed to be doing. I told my wife, you know what, I know this sounds awful but Hunter was like the big ‘ole neighborhood dog. Dude, he would go over here for a little while and they’d feed him, then he would go over there and they’d feed him… he was just a roundabout. Just full of life man!”  

Tim has spent a lot of the last year changing his lifestyle to teach the twins how to live. It was hard on them, but they are making sure to make memories. “It is the one thing I try to say to them every day; we are out to make a memory today boys. Let’s make a good one.

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Tim and the Flukemaster Gene Jenson at Logan Martin.

I have to say, my conversations with Tim have always been easy. It is as if we have been life long friends. Whether we are talking about family, his early days kayaking with RiverBassin, or just about why were are at the Paris Fairgrounds at three in the morning… it is always pleasant and fun. Walk up to him at the next event and ask him to talk about his fishing history. It will be an adventure.

NuCanoe Additions| Why Pro Kayak Anglers are Adding Trolling Motors

There are a lot of social media posts concerning the use of motors on kayaks during competition. The opinions cover the entire spectrum; from total acceptance to complete distaste for the option. 

Regardless of where you stand, they are accepted on the KBF and BASS trails and it will be a hard sell to change that direction. Having written about motors, and sharing my opinion, I felt I should give you the perspective of two guys who are advocates for their use and have enjoyed success with them from their NuCanoe’s.

Cody Milton and Derek Brundle are two anglers having a great amount of success on the kayak trails. If you have not heard the names, you have not been following kayak bass fishing. Derek is coming off a KBF Rookie of the Year win and Cody just absolutely hammered the fish during the second BASS Nation event on Lake Fork utilizing a motor.

NuCanoe Additions | Cody Milton’s Trolling Motor Thoughts

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Cody fished with a Torqeedo for years until recently joining with NuCanoe. He is now powered by a Motor Guide Xi3 and is definitely a motor guy; 

I don’t know how many events I will fish anymore without motors. The motor has become such a part of how I fish and practice now. You don’t have to fish tournaments that do not allow them to find big events to fish.

I am not like a lot of kayak people, I don’t really just like pure kayak fishing, so I like the motor.  The way I like to fish, the motor really makes it nice for me.

Milton also shared that he likes the amount of water you can cover. “It allows me to cover so much more water, and it really fits my type of fishing.”  

NuCanoe Additions | Derek Brundle’s Trolling Motor Thoughts

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Derek agrees with Cody about the motor being integral to his success, and how he fishes.  

He has a more personal reason for leaning toward motors though; 

A little over five years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and had some pretty extensive chemo and radiation treatments which basically destroyed all of the muscles in my neck. If I paddle or pedal all day I cannot even move at the end of the day. I won’t say it is a necessity, but it works out for me.

Brundle also runs the MotorGuide on a NuCanoe. “I use a MotorGuide 55lb thrust/12V Xi3 with the pinpoint GPS bow mounted on my kayak. That thing will hold you in 2 to 3-foot of a spot. It will also top out at about 4 or 4.3 mph.

I run an Amped Outdoors 100ah battery and run it all day long. I have been running the lithium for a good while and it is half the weight of a lead battery. I feel like I need to run far away from everyone, especially kayakers, and find that one secluded spot… so I make a 3-5 mile run to a spot, then fish my way back. I can get there in an hour, and I am not fatigued.

Derek was also clear about his opinions on a foot control model but gave a friendly warning about the remote option.  

I have tried the foot control, but I am a fan of the hand remote because it tucks behind the PFD.  Make sure you get familiar with the remote! The anchor button is close to the left button, it will stop you and spin you around; just a word of caution from experience!

NuCanoe Additions | Same Opinions… Different Reasons

Both share the same opinions about motors; Cody seeing more in play while Derek is in favor of a little more restriction.

Milton feels certain that the world of kayaking tournament fishing will never see a completely motor-less future.

I don’t think there is any way that motors are ever going to go away now. The more that people use them they become more of a crutch or staple; more people will be using them. I don’t think you are going to have a competitive series that doesn’t allow motors in the next year or two.

I don’t know how many events I will fish anymore without motors. The motor has become such a part of how I fish and practice now. You don’t have to fish tournaments that do not allow them to find big events to fish.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see them allow two motors. I think once you have Torqeedo and MotorGuide becoming sponsors for bigger events, I am pretty sure they will begin to allow two motors. I hope they allow that.

Brundle has a slightly different take on how the future should play out.

The motors are a game-changer for sure. Our local club allows up to 70lbs thrust – keeping the motors to a single battery 12V system. It limits weight, torque, and improves safety.

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We discussed safety and adding too large a motor and agree that there needs to be more limiting that has previously been set in the rules for some trails. 

We all see that motors are here to stay, and if these two are any indication, they are going to play a larger role in the success of anglers as the sport expands.