• Tag Team Kayak Angling - by Slabsrus

    It was just about two years ago that my friend Chris and I first got together for a kayak fishing trip down one of the local waterways. Chris and I had been communicating on for quite some time before we were able to finally get together for him to join me in my Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 tandem kayak for a day of fishing. We had a great day and really put my kayak to the test in a huge rain storm. Well apparently Chris was impressed with my kayak because since that day he has gone out and purchased one. And though we have talked about fishing many times since, our busy schedules had prevented us from get back together until this past Sunday.

    As Sunday drew near my anticipation for the day was high, and even in the midst of moving to a new house I managed to keep track of all my fishing gear. Huh, imagine that. So when Chris pulled into my drive at 7:00am sharp, I was ready to roll. But first we had to pick up my 17 year old son Bryan from his friend’s house so that he could keep an eye on our kayaks and gear at the dam while we drove to a landing 10 miles downstream to spot a vehicle for us at our ending point. Of course while he waited, standing there next to all that fishing gear, Bryan just had to do a little fishing himself, and informed me when we returned that he had landed two nice smallmouth bass and an 11 inch crappie while we were gone. I took that as I sign of things to come as I applied sun screen and prepared my cameras for the trip ahead.

    Once Chris and I were both in our kayaks we paddled about 300 yards downstream to a spot where I could do an introduction for my video camera. It also just so happened to be the first deeper water bends, so making a few casts was a must.

    As I finished my little intro and got ready to make my first cast of the day, I looked over my shoulder to see that Chris had already made a couple casts and was hooked into a fish. His Zoom Super Fluke on a 4/0 Gamakatzu wide gap worm hook had done its job and Chris was into a nice smallmouth to start the day. As he lifted the fish from the river, I asked Chris to see what he had, so he held up a nice 14 inch smallie. Though the fish was over the legal size limit, we were not planning on keeping any bass so Chris immediately returned the bronze bass back to the hole from which it came and resumed fishing.

    I had only made a few casts myself before I was hooked into something nice. My first thought was that I had a real nice smallmouth bass, but as the fish neared the surface I noticed that it was not a bass but was actually a pike. He put up a pretty good fight, but at only about 20 inches, the pike was not much of a match for my medium weight Quantum rod and reel, and I was able to land and release it quite quickly. That was to nice fish and we hadn’t been on the water for half hour, things were really looking like it might just be a great day of fishing and after a few more casts to that first hole, and Chris landing one more smallmouth, we decided it was time to move along.

    As we floated along with the current we cast our lures into every little deep water hole or around any rocks and brush that lined the river banks. The water was about a foot higher than normal, so we also worked our baits around the large rocks that were scattered throughout the center of the river where the water is usually a bit too shallow to hold fish. While I probed the center of the river, Chris worked his Zoom Fluke along the shallows lining the banks and shortly after I had floated around a corner and lost sight of him, I heard Chris say he had one.

    After a few brisk paddle strokes upstream I rounded the bend just in time to see Chris landing a fish. This time it was a pike about the same size as the one I had caught. I had yet to land a smallmouth on my homemade jigramite, but I was convinced that it was only a matter of time. Chris, on the other hand, was having no problem finding the bass.

    I began to wonder if it was the bait that was doing the trick, as I watched my friend land yet another nice smallmouth, or could it be something in the presentation of the bait that was the reason why he was catching the bass and I was not. I hadn’t noticed anything in particular about his presentation, and I was able to land a couple smallmouth in the 12 inch range, it wasn’t until I was actually just reeling my lure in for another cast that I realized what was going on.

    I had worked my 1/32 ounce jigramite along the bottom in one particular hole several times with no inclination of any fish living there. On my fourth cast into that hole, and being a bit frustrated with my lack of smallmouth action for the day, I just started reeling my lure in at a quick pace just to get it out of the water and move on to the next spot. When my bait was no more than 2 feet from my kayak, and zipping along the surface, a big ole bronze back came out of that hole and slammed it like a freight train. That fish hit my bait so hard that I didn’t need to set the hook. It was just a matter of holding on to my rod and reel, and trying to maneuver my kayak along, as the smallmouth headed downstream in an attempt to free itself.

    About 75 yards down river I was able to wear the fish out and get it to the side of my kayak. I hoisted the beautiful fat smallmouth into my kayak, took a picture and released it back into the river with a big grin on my face. I had just figured out that I was simply presenting my bait to slow, and even though the best of the smallmouth waters were behind us, it was a lesson that I will not forget. In fact both Chris and I were able to land a few more nice smallies before we made it to where the river begins to really widen and start changing into a lake more so than a river.

    At that point we stowed our fishing gear and picked up our paddles. It was a three mile paddle through a 100 yard wide, sea wall lined channel connecting the lake to the river. And with it being Sunday afternoon, there was a lot of powerboat traffic creating waves of all shapes and sizes, coming from every direction as they rebounded from one seawall to another. Our kayaks were tossed around like bobbers as we made our way to a section of rip rap not far from the north end of the lake.

    That particular rip rap has produced good numbers of nice sized crappies year after year, and is overlooked by most anglers. I am not sure if it is so often overlooked because it is an area where the crappies arrive a bit later than most Spring locations, or if it is because that spot is in one of the roughest sections of water. But either way I am glad so few anglers ever try fishing that location and I was happy to see that the crappies were there as my first cast resulted in a nice 10 incher.

    As powerboats, pontoons, skiers and tubers, zipped by in the background, Chris and I started catching crappies. Our 1/64 ounce orange jigs and Berkley Gulp minnow combinations were exactly what the fish wanted as we reeled in one after another. Although reeled in might not be exactly the right description because many of the fish were less than 5 feet from our kayaks and we were able to just dabble our baits over the side of our boats and lift the crappies straight out of one to three feet of water until Chris had placed about a half dozen good sized ones on his stringer. With wakes from the powerboats really tossing us about, I decided it was time for a move so we headed into a couple small bays on the north end of the lake in search of some more crappies, and possibly some bluegills that might be starting to move in for spawning.

    Much like the entire day had gone so far, we immediately began to catch fish. There were bluegills in shallow water, but they were on the small size at around 6 inches. Even though the bluegills were a bit smaller than what Chris wanted to keep, I did notice that they were really starting to get some color to them and I figured that maybe the larger fish would be even farther into the shallow bay getting ready to spawn. So as Chris continued to catch more bluegills, I paddled ahead and around a corner into the entrance to the farthest north bay on my side of the lake.

    From past experience, I know that the shallow water just on the back side of the point leading into that particular bay is often a good spot to find spawning or bluegills staged to spawn so I immediately began casting my micro jig toward shore.

    An eight inch bluegill.

    A ten inch crappie.

    Good gill, good gill, crappie, gill, and so on it went as I made my way along that shoreline and crossed to the other side of the bay just as Chris was entering the area.

    Right away I could see bluegills in 10 to 12 inches of water, and there were some good ones. I told Chris to start working that section of water and he was into good bluegills immediately. Four or five casts put a couple more nice fish on his stringer, along with a few more good crappies that came from under one of my favorite logs. The fishing was great and had been all day, and there was just one more tree I wanted to take Chris to before we made our way to the landing.

    As soon as we were close enough to that tree to present our lures amongst the submerged branches we began catching crappies. Once again it was one after another, and though many of them were just dinks, Chris was able to add a couple more to crappie to his stringer. After 11 hours of fishing, a morning full of mosquitos, blazing sun, and a couple issues with near sea sickness for Chris, we decided it was time to call it quits on a great day of tag team kayak angling.

    Comments 7 Comments
    1. MSGCANNON's Avatar
      Very nice read and pics, looks like you guys had a blast!
    1. VaCrappieMan's Avatar
      VaCrappieMan -
      That looked like a lot of fun! Good job guys!
    1. NYHellbender's Avatar
      NYHellbender -
      Slabsrus you did it again - Great write up and pictures.

      Thanks again for sharing with us.
    1. jimp's Avatar
      jimp -
      Good write up and good trip.
    1. Eaglehorse's Avatar
      Eaglehorse -
      Nicely put together article. Easy to read and great pics. Thanks for sharing!
    1. skeetbum's Avatar
      skeetbum -
      What a trip! Always been wanting to do a float trip like that. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    1. ronetone's Avatar
      ronetone -
      good read and video
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