Advice From The Experts

When I started fishing from a kayak I had little money and little resources to turn to. I was fortunate to meet Rob Milam through a business realationship and the rest is history. Rob introduced me to some great folks in the industry and in the kayak angling community. One of those guys is Shaun Russell. Shaun has been an inspriation to me in the way he handles himself personally and professionally. Shaun is a wealth of information when it comes to rigging kayaks and catching the summer time bass. Here is Shaun Russell, Yak Attack Prostaffer and Mariner-Sails team member, in his own words.

Checking Out the Black Pak

This week on Kayak Bass Adventures, Chris Payne stops by with an outstanding review of the Black Pak. Chris is an outstanding technical writer and is committed to finding and reviewing new gear. He has been featured in Kayak Angler magazine along with numerous other online blogs. Chris is an excellent resource to the kayak angling community and belongs to Hags Tornado Pro Staff, Hook1 Crew, Super Nova Lights Pro Staff and Ram Mounting Systems Pro Staff. He was recently added to the Hobie Fishing team and will be an outstanding addition. When Chris is not busy with Pro Staff duties you can find him at Chris has been instrumental in the creation of Kayak Bass Adventures and is a great sounding board. I consider him a great man and a close friend.


 by Chris Payne

Before the gear heads start saying their amens and the frugal home DIYers start condemning a price tag, I want to implore you to read the rest of this post. I want you to understand why I bought what I did. Am I saying that everyone needs this tool? Need is a strong word. I am saying that I enjoy the heck out of mine and can’t imagine not having it. Let’s get on with it.


 On deck storage for fishing gear has historically been limited to milk crates or other tubs until recently. Late last year we started seeing teasers and eventually the final product called The BlackPak from YakAttack. A 10 year vet of using milk crates as storage on my kayak had me scratching my head about whether this new storage container for kayaks warranted an $85-$125 price tag (depending on the features you order.) I read up, made a few phone calls, watched a couple of videos about it and decided I needed one. Luckily I was able to get in on one of the first orders from HOOK1 and Chad Hoover got it sent to me post haste. 15 minutes after I received it, I had it put together. For the next couple of days I continually changed the configuration, added some LED lights and got it ready for the maiden voyage. I haven’t fished without it since that first trip. 


I could spend the next 1,000 words talking about what the BlackPak can do but several of those things can be duplicated by a milk crate. As the title graphic says, “This Ain’t No Milkcrate”. (I realize that’s a double negative so before you email me about grammatical law, relax a bit. Pulitzer isn’t calling anytime soon.) 


Let’s get right to the good stuff. These are the things that a BlackPak gives you that you can’t get out of a milk crate. (Unless you basically mod it to be your own BlackPak) 


Enclosed protection from the elements. 

Protect those soft plastics from direct sunlight. While not water tight, the BP deflects most rain, splash and other intrusive water. If water does get in, it will quickly find the exit via the drains in the bottom corners.


Keep all your stuff enclosed.

Drop a 1/4 oz bullet weight into the BP and it’ll be there when you get home. Same thing for hooks, split shot, worms, lures and more. Do the same in a milk crate and well, good luck. If you happen to have lures loose, they won’t find their way out the sides, get tangled on items outside the crate pressed up against it or latch on to the many open gaps. Solid on all sides, everything stays inside but the water. 


Rigging readiness. 

The BlackPak has top rails that are ready to add on GearTrac or rig straight to it with a long t-bolt. The top, bottom and sides are all made of very sturdy Starboard that you can mount something directly to. It is pre-drilled on both sides to attach the optional rod holders and because the lid is inset you aren’t bumping rods in the rod holder. The top rail also adds a nice lip that allows you to mount LED lights under to keep them away from water, knock out direct light at night to your eyes but still illuminate the BP. I drilled a couple of additional holes and added an on/off switch. One last thing about the top rails, they come designed with hooks so that your bungee in your tank well can secure it. No need to buy additional straps, mess with stretch hooks or any of that other mess. The BP is really only limited by your imagination and fits in almost every sit on top kayak. You can also bungee it down to the back of lots of sit ins as well.  

This is not a cheap plastic Tupperware box. I’ve seen guys over 250 pounds (262 according to the video) standing and JUMPING on the BlackPak. Chad wants to make sure it is sturdy so he tries it. Don’t believe me? Go here:
The BlackPak is super lightweight yet rugged and durable. You aren’t going to find that for $4 at WalMart. 

Have you ever tried to make something like this yourself? Some guys can. When I say some, I mean very few. Most of us can zip tie some stuff together to make an enclosed box, sure, but to make it this sturdy, without exposed openings in the sides and corners, with rigging hooks and top rails and just the material alone you are going to spend a nice chunk of money. I did some rough calculations for 1 18″ X 18″ piece in black at 1/4″ thick. That’s $13.50 without shipping or taxes. Check it here:
You would need 6 of those. You’ll have to find some way to do corners on your own. For purchase, shipping and taxes, just the sides of this are going to cost you $102.68. Better not mess up. That’s for the basic sides. You don’t have top rails, rod holders, corners, hardware, bungee etc to finish this out. For $85 you could get the base setup and come out ahead. See what I’m getting at here? You can make a copy but with the same quality components, it will cost you more and look and function much worse. You come out way ahead with the deluxe model for $125 too and did I mention it’s also available in white now? 

I realize some folks don’t have the money or want to spend the money and that’s cool. But if you think you will duplicate the BlackPak by scrapping together some plastic around a milk crate, you should think again. Just because a wagon has four wheels doesn’t mean it’s a Ferrari. 

If you want to see one in person and are in the Dallas area, check out the Mariner-Sails show room. They are located at 11110 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, TX  75229.

If you aren’t in the Dallas area but are ready to order one, go here:

Once In A Blue Moon


Do you get fired up when your Bass Master, Bass Angler and FLW magazines show up in the mail? I never get mail, unless it’s a bill. So I am overcome with sure excitement when I roll out to the mail box and find my trio of magazines. It’s like Christmas morning every time they arrive. I will savor the magazines and read them again and again. This month there was some great information on night fishing for smallmouth. It had my attention and I thought that with the full moon and light winds I would give the top water smallmouth a try. First things first, I had to locate a lake, close to the house that contained the fish. Logical conclusion was Lake Grapevine.

I have been on Grapevine many times and feel comfortable out there in the pitch black. I check the lunar schedule and saw that yesterday was a great time between the hours of 11:07 p.m. and 2:10 a.m… I usually do not play that hard on a school night, but with the articles I was reading and my excitement of big smallmouth, I decided to roll out. I armed myself with, what I thought to be the best ammo for the onslaught that was about to happen: Clear Zara Spook, Black Zara Spook, 5/16 Finesse Jig with crawl trailer, shaky head and my favorite Carolina rig. I knew the spot, the wind was light and the moon was full, blue, so I headed out. I just new tonight was going to be the night but it was not to be. The bite started pretty good with a few small largemouths. As the sky grew darker and the moon rose higher I went to the top water. There was bait everywhere which I considered to be an excellent opportunity, however, there was nothing chasing the bait so I 86’ed the top water action and went right to the finesse jig. That produced a couple of small largemouth, but still no smallmouth. I am never one to give up but I was growing concerned that this epic night, when everything comes together was going to end with nothing more than below average sized fish. Finally around 1:15 there was a knock on the door followed by the giant hook set, game on! My TFO 7’3” GTS loaded and felt to have a decent fish, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.  Sure enough after further inspection it was a drum, what a bummer. Even though the trip yielded zero smallmouths, I did learn some good lessons from my first night trip.

Lesson One: When night fishing make sure you are comfortable with the lake and are familiar with all the structure contained above and below the water line.

Lesson Two:  Make sure that your equipment is organized and that you have everything lashed down. I prefer to have a small box below my seat with an array of baits and colors that I will be using. This limits me from having to swing around and hunt for baits and limits the danger of losing anything to the abyss.

Lesson Three:  Invest in the Super Nova Lighting system.

Lesson Four: Take a buddy with you or tell someone exactly where you are going to be. Crazy things happen during the day and double crazy things happen at night, Safety First!


Tonight was a classic case of overhyping a situation in my own mind. It felt like the moment in Christmas Vacation when Clark hit the switch on the lights only to see nothing happening. Anyway, I am a sucker so I will still wait by the mailbox and enjoy my magazines and once again will plan what, in my mind, will be  the epic trip. Hopefully next time the moon and the stars will align and bring me great success. I would appreciate your feedback on tips for catching smallmouth under a full moon. Feel free to leave a comment. Heading back out tonight and will hopefully have something positive to write about tomorrow!


Cooler Talk

power_food_010Coolers play a major role in the kayak angling world. I prefer and use the Yeti due to its ability to keep my ice cubed and food fresh. I am not here to review coolers. I am here to talk about what you place in the cooler when you are on the water. We all agree that we are the engine that gets us to and from the spots we want to fish. The engine, much like your car, needs to be taken care of so that you can get max performance when needed. This week let’s think about what goes in the cooler and how it helps make us stronger and healthier.
I recently decided to pay close attention to what I was consuming during the work week. I went to great lengths to prepare and package my foods so that I wouldn’t be tempted by the breakfast tacos, doughnuts or cookies that find their way into the office break room. I have tried that approach and it lead to getting a great sugar high followed by the beat down of the crash. It also led to unwanted weight gain. I was really doing well for the week, but the fishing weekend came and I would stock up with the sugar snacks and chips, easy food to grab and eat while fishing. I found that all the work I was doing through the week was wasted on one Saturday. I have been committed to eating foods that will enable me to perform at my best and are easy to eat from the, Flight Deck. Here are a few things that I enjoy in my cooler that helps me keep the faith and perform to my highest level on the water.
My go to foods for kayaking are: individual wrapped veggies, Planters energy mix, unsalted almonds, shredded coconut, beef jerky, sliced oranges, apple and plenty of water. All these foods play a role for me while outside. I typically start the day with a 24 gram, Cliff Builders Bar, preferably chocolate and peanut Butter. This little guy is a 325 calorie breakfast that has a great energy kick. After I launch, I break open the Planter energy mix while heading to the fishing area. I typically carry a 24 oz water bottle full of rehydrate, Advocare product. This water has tons of electrolytes and keeps me fresh and going and equips me for the heat of the day. Important note, Stay ahead of dehydration; it’s impossible to catch up and will really put you in a bind. I use the almonds and ½ the fruit for mid morning snack. I found the almonds sustain my energy level, due to protein, and the sugar from the fruit provides a little extra kick leading up to lunch. The jerky is the main course around lunch time. I get back out the fruit and coconut during the extreme heat of the day. I find that this gives me an additional kick leading into the afternoon bite. Of course I bring extra water and refill the rehydrate as necessary. These are on the water power foods and will serve you well throughout your day.
Gives these foods a chance and you will see the difference it will make in your stamina. These power foods will not lead to a massive sugar rush and epic fall. These foods will keep you even throughout your day. As always remember to have fun and set the hook!

When The Going Gets Tough…

When The Going Gets Tough…

Have you ever felt that you were in an episode of candid camera? For those of you too young to remember the greatness of the first, “Reality Show”, this program brought carefully placed humor to unsuspecting folks. It will be engrained in my memory how the people looked around having to think is this really happening and why is it happening to me? Then at the last minute when it is too much to bear you would hear the famous music and hear the words that you were on candid camera. Well, that about sums up my week.

The week had been progressing as usual, with no real issues except the normality of real life. Then Wednesday it hits. When I say it hits, it hits big. Starting with the garage refrigerator going down, and then progressing to the I-Phone, having to replace both batteries in the truck. I posted on the KBA Facebook page a list of all the items to that point and asked, “Anything Else”? Well, I received a response from Joe Davis, telling me to be careful. I should have listened to him because it continued to progress steadily downhill from there. You can now add to the list: pool timer on the blink, downstairs air conditioner not operable and the washer deciding that it would be a good time for a break as well. Goodness, how much can one man stand? I can handle the A/C. I take the camping mindset and get out all the fans and lay perfectly still. After numerous flips and flops, like the bass on the board, I can usually get to sleep. The big issue is the washer. For those of you with teenage kids you know they have their favorite clothes and crisis always happens in the eleventh hour.

It’s Thursday at 8:45, p.m. and we have a crisis. Big sweet sixteen birthday party for my daughters’ friend and the favorite outfit is dirty. Well as any good guy would do I volunteer to head off to the Kwik Wash to use their equipment. You have to realize that I haven’t been to a laundry mat in over 20 years. The last time I went you could wash and dry for around $3.50. I quickly learned that I am in the wrong business. To wash one load is $3.00 and to dry is $2.00. I look at my money situation and realize I have $4.75. I had shear panic in my heart when I realized I was one quarter short. But, hey, adapt overcome and conquer. I saw that there was a package store in the same strip center so I went down to buy a snack and get some cash back. Problem is they don’t have snacks and they don’t offer a cash back option. So I buy a, warm, 24 oz beverage and persuade the guy to charge me an extra dollar so I could get $5 back. Mission accomplished. Made my way back to the Kwik Wash and proceeded with the plan.

I am one that has to have a positive take away. So feeling sorry for myself I began to think about what those were. First, it’s amazing the people you meet on a Thursday night at the Kwik Wash. The kind of folks that will give you a quarter when your one short. Second, there is nothing like sharing a warm beverage, with your wife, while handling a late night emergency. Third, at least they had air conditioning that worked. I counted up all my blessing and decided it wasn’t that bad! Heck, what an experience. Met new folks, overpaid for laundry and enjoyed cool temperatures.

I always say that when the going gets tough, the tough go fishing! I figure with all the bad luck I had this week there has bound to be a personal best laying just off the drop off. So enough of the sob story and on to the water; when you’re faced with interesting circumstances always remember the good and make the most of the opportunities you are given because they do build your character! Oh, I never heard the music or the words letting me know this had been a well calculated prank.




The Crossfit world crowned the “Fittest on Earth” last weekend at the Crossfit Games in Los Angles. Even though, I am nowhere near an elite athlete I took some things away that I believe will help me with my fishing, fitness and overall wellness. The take a way is, training and conditioning are paramount in being able to live your life to the fullest. We are asked to do some strenuous things and are put into strange positions on our kayaks. Do you have what you need to go ten hours on the water and not have to take the full, next, day to recover?

This weekend I had the privilege to share the stage with some giants of the kayak fishing world. The event was a fund raiser for Heroes on The Water, hosted by Mariner Sails – Dallas. The industry top performers, Chris Payne, Shaun Russell and Luther Cifers all spoke about topics ranging from lighting to what Yak-Attack product works well with another. It was truly an outstanding program put together by those guys. By the way, when you’re looking for practical advice on anything kayak related these guys are an excellent resource.

The time came for me to take the stage and I wanted to speak from the heart regarding physical fitness. I remember saying that you can have all the greatest accessories on the market, but if you don’t have the stamina to get out there; you have nothing! I did about 20 minutes on some small stretches and exercises that will benefit you as a kayak angler. If you missed it check out the fitness tab and grab a few of those mobility exercises. After the talk I was blown away by the amount of folks that came up and said I was spot on and told me their stories of how fitness had changed their fishing. Remember, You Are The Engine! Keep your engine running longer and faster by taking care of it!

I wanted to give you the definition, Crossfit = Constantly Varied, High Intensity, Functional Movement. I can’t think of anything that says kayak angler other than those three items. Everything varies in our sport, from the weather to the seasons to the wind. We are the kings of varied. High Intensity, just come to a North Texas Kayak Trail or North Texas Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament, doesn’t get more intense than those places.  Now we get to the part that not everyone may be comfortable with, Functional Movement. If you can’t reach behind you to grab the net, if you are in more pain after a day on the water than a day in the yard you may have mobility or functional movement issues. We get put in a lot of strange positions on the water. By ensuring your level of fitness is high you will perform to your peak both on and off the water. Don’t lose time on the water due to not taking care of yourself. To the guys I spoke to at the event on Saturday