Let’s Talk Tackle!

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Let’s talk tackle! It is well documented that I have a tackle addiction. All I have to do is look at forums, facebook ads or any fishing magazine and I have to try it or at least acquire it for my collection. This leads me to another problem. Tackle organization, what to carry with me on the trip and how to store it. If I have learned one thing from tournament fishing is that you have to be organized and have a plan. When I first started fishing tournaments I had my tackle everywhere. You can call it inexperience, but my kayak was a mess. When I first took up kayak fishing I wasn’t fishing in a platform that allowed me much storage or much stability. The old yak was much like a counter balance system, anything that was added needed to be added with equal weight to the other side. I never knew what they might be interested in so I carried a little of everything. As you would figure out whatever I had the least of is what the hot action was on and thus once that bait was gobbled up the action for me went cold.

The start of the 2013 season found me in the Hobie Pro Angler 14. This kayak has ridiculous amounts of storage. Hobie thought forward and included a compressed tackle deck at your feet so now I could keep things organized. Yak-Attack came out with the Black Pac so I could really be organized. However, old habits die hard and I found that my tackle was in the same shape it was when I was paddling the big box store kayak. Yes, I once paddled. Even though I had great resources for a management system I failed to act and spent more wasted time digging thru my new organizational system to find anything. This equaled less fishing time, less fish and more frustration. Yes, I had a great tackle collection, but that’s all it was. I decided to research how the top guys organized themselves and why they organized themselves. With that information collected a change had to be made.

This off season I spent several days taking all pieces of tackle: soft plastics, hard baits and terminal tackle out to formulate a plan. I found out that for me to be organized I needed to use the Plano water proof boxes, that come standard on the Hobie Pro Angler 12 & 14, as my terminal tackle boxes. This gives me quick access to hooks and weights and C-Rig set ups. I then turned my attention to my Black Pac and organized the hard baits by size and function, clearly labeling the Plano boxes. The giant hurdle was the soft plastic situation. What on earth am I to do with the several dozen soft plastic bags? Enter the Plano Molding 3600. This roomy soft sided tackle system afforded me enough room to place all my soft plastic, separated by bait type in zip lock bags – thanks Mike Whitaker for the tip. It also affords me the ability to carry extra terminal tackle. This tackle bag is loaded with pockets, Plano boxes and has helped me conquer the tackle organization situation that I needed. With all things organized I found myself with more tackle so I went further and broke it down by season. So now when I hit the water in the Spring I’m not loaded with my winter or summer gear. We’re keeping it simple in 2014 and so far it’s paying a great dividend.

Final note, last week my brother asked me about where to find fishing information in the Austin Area. I directed him to the Keep Austin Fishing Facebook group. I spoke to him this morning and he referred to it as his fishing church. He wanted me to say thanks for the information and tips on the local lakes, as well as welcoming him to the group. That is what this community is all about!

KEP LIVING THE DREAM!

Classic Thoughts!

Bassmaster

 

Getting up on Sunday morning I felt that someone had rolled back the calendar into January. I had great anticipation of having some warm, predictable, weather to work with in trying to locate some of those big female pre-spawn bass. However, with ice on the ground and wind chills in the single digits I logged onto the computer and landed on Bassmaster. to review footage from the classic.  This year I decided to follow the classic live thru their online presentation via blog and GoPro live camera’s on the pro’s boat. It’s amazing what we can learn these days from online videos.

People often ask who your favorite angler is.  My response is that I really don’t have one. I enjoy following the top pros through social media and enjoy seeing how they are catching their fish, plugging the sponsors and just what it takes to be a full time touring pro at the elite level. With the technology of the day the arena of social media puts you up close with the pro in the boat on the water. I pay close attention to what they are saying and even closer attention to how they are modifying their baits to coax that big fish to bite. These guys are tough and stay out on the water long past dark, sometimes not in the most hospitalable conditions. I know the guys preparing to fish the Southern Open this week found themselves in some of the harshest temperatures of the season. The remarkable thing about these anglers is that they demonstrate the ability to catch fish in any condition. Every time I have grand thoughts of myself as a pro I just look back to lakes like Grapevine and Lewisville to remind me that I am nowhere close.

The most important take away, for me, was mental toughness. I will admit that mental toughness and confidence in what I am doing play a large role in my tournament fishing. If most of you are like me you can get mired down in second guessing, sticking with a failed strategy to long and throwing dead. What I mean about throwing dead is not having the confidence in each cast and just chunking and winding. My goal for 2014 is to surround myself with “Classic Quality People” that I can observe and learn from so that I can begin growing more confident and understanding why things are the way they are. I also have to remember that I can put myself around the fish, but if the fish chooses to be locked down due to weather conditions I must change the presentation. Should changing the presentation not work, I just need to realize that today’s not my day and hold my head high as I enjoy nature and hanging out in the Hobie Pro Angler 14. It’s also important to be a “classic” type person. There are thousands of people who bass fish and they are at every level. When you are active in the social networks be mindful of the folks watching you. Take time to answer their questions, share your tips and take the time necessary to include those that are new to our sport. I would be nowhere today without the guys who took an interest in me and answered the dumbest of my questions.

I think the following dialogue between Harry Hogge and Cole Trickle, from Days of Thunder, sum it the best.

Harry Hogge:      What do you know about stock car racing?

Cole Trickle:        Well…watched it on television, of course.

Harry Hogge:      You’ve seen it on television?

Cole Trickle:        ESPN. The coverage is excellent; you’d be surprised at how much you can pick up.

Harry Hogge:      I’m sure I would.

Take advantage of all the avenues that are afforded to us in this age of information enlightenment.  Watch those videos, make friends with a pro, take someone under your wing and bring them along. Bassmaster showed us how you can take a fishing tournament and bring it to life with real time updates and access into the minds of the top pros. To be better we must pay attention and be willing to learn; you never know the tip you see today could boost you in the AOY standing in your local scene.

KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!

Valentine’s Day – No, It’s Pre-Tournament Day!

Heart Image

These are some of my most favorite days of the year. I am not talking about Valentine’s Day, but pre tournament day. I realize that the entire free world is celebrating the good fortune of their love life today and I as well will pay tribute to my wife and family; who without their support none of this chasing the dream business would be happening. So to my family, thanks! To my fellow competitors I wish good luck on stop #2 of the Capital City Kayak Fishing Tournament.

Pretournament days are always fun because I spend the majority of it thinking about strategy, reviewing maps and mobile apps. I fill my brain pan with so much information that it’s bubbling over with anticipation. The only problem with filling you head with so much detail is that it causes the ever present second thoughts and is this strategy right? For example early this week, while the polar vortex was upon us I was greatly concerned about water temperature. Well, as the sun has warmed our souls and made us feel that bedding fish are upon us my concern is still water temperature. Yeas, the sun is nice, but it’s going to take a string of bright sun to warm up the familiar structure that these big bass enjoy hanging out in. So confusion will be a great part of the strategy. You then mix in this week’s edition of Bassmaster Magazine and review what the pros are throwing and it leads to more second guessing and concerned thoughts for this weekend’s action. I love articles, because you never know the real context of which they were written. It seems I only pay attention to the double digit picture and assume the strategy will work for me, in Texas on Lake Lewisville in 40 degree water. Can you say hopeless!

Confidence breeds’ confidence and skill is the name of the game. Whatever your reading and whomever your listening to make sure they have local knowledge of what is happening in the area that you will be applying your craft. One thing that can’t be overlooked is the quality of your equipment and the support of your team who stands with you. Whether you are an army of one or you stand with the top names in the industry everyone is equal when the gun sounds tomorrow morning. I always feel blessed to have a great group that keeps Kayak Bass Adventures on the water and in tip top shape. These folks are: Mariner-Sails, Brute Outdoors, TFO Rods, Supernova Fishing Lights, Hobie Fishing and Columbia Sportswear. What’s great about these partners are that they are not an exclusive club, but friends to every kayak angler on the water. Be sure and support their efforts, because whether you know it or not they are supporting you.

So if you take nothing else from this post remember this: Don’t stay up to late celebrating your Valentine’s Day because over celebration can lead to a long unfocused ay on the water. Lastly, remember that we are all out as a community to support kayak fishing. SO if you see a first timer, share the love and spend the time showing them the tournament ropes. I always remember the great folks who took the time with when I first started and they are now some of my closest friends!

KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!

 

Elements Don’t Hold These Guys Back!

Even Though It Was Tough Matt Scotch Found Away To Make It Happen!

Even Though It Was Tough Matt Scotch Found Away To Make It Happen!

Bad Weather Didn't Keep Adrian Acosta Off Lake Texoma

Bad Weather Didn’t Keep Adrian Acosta Off Lake Texoma

 

This weekend marked the marathon stretch of being in the promotional staff for any company that is into the show scene. We had an excellent time with Mariner-Sails and the Steve & Lisa Oxenford from Hobie Cat.  While I stood in the booth talking about the greatness of Kayak Bass Adventures and Hobie Fishing it seemed strange to see my Pro Angler 14 all dressed up but no water to float in. My mind wondered outside and my thoughts were with the guys that were out on Lake Texoma and Lake Fork making their Kayak Bass Adventures come true. The following are their stories of braving high winds, rain and possibilities of snow. However, as true Kayak Bass Adventurers they came through in a big way!

Fishing can be tough in any weather pattern. Whether there isn’t enough wind, too much wind or its cold or it’s hot; kayak fishing is seldom easy, just ask Adrian Acosta and Matt Scotch. I have known these two guys for some time and I now that they are passionate about their kayak fishing. As I was finishing my duties at the Dallas Boat Expo these two guys were coming off the water with some really nice catches.

I don’t know much about Lake Texoma, but Adrian Acosta is one who knows his way around. With the weather conditions being so inconsistent this winter the fishing can be shut down with the slightest adjustment in pressure. When I spoke to Adrian about his catch he told me that they had been on bigger fish earlier in the week, but last Saturday was a struggle.  He caught his stripper on 1 ounce Roadrunner jig trolling it very slowly. Even though he didn’t get the numbers he sure did get the quality. This fish landed his team in the top three for the start of kayak wars.

Matt Scotch chased a different bass this last weekend. He tried to coax the largemouth bass from its winter cover. In speaking to Matt, he said it was all about knowing the elements and being one with the fish. He noticed that his temps were one degree different from where others were fishing and that one degree made a difference. He caught this quality bass on a lipless crank using a medium retrieve. He was able to find some grass and rip it through. This tactic was all it took to land this great tournament keeper. Matt also used persistence and when others left he stayed and continued fishing. Long paddles, loading and unloading and traveling to a new spot made the difference for Scotch this last weekend. Way to stick it out.

As I am writing this, it is snowing! I know that somewhere there are anglers braving the elements to find “The One”. Kayak anglers love the extremes and the face of the challenge. Not everyone is made to fight the elements, but those of us who are can grab some good fish. As for me, I will be back at the Boat Expo this weekend meeting new people and promoting the sport I am passionate about. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!

Color Me Crazy

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Last week I admitted that I have a small tackle addiction and I appreciated all the great comments I received. Bottom line, now that I know that I don’t stand alone I feel much better. This week I want to get some feedback on colors. Every time I roll into a tackle shop or am looking online at new baits I get not only sucked in by the bait, but also by the color. It’s not enough to have a jig trailer in green pumpkin, but now I must also have it in dirt; seriously dirt. I can hear you saying please step away from the soft plastics sir. Well I didn’t. I fell prey to the chunk jig trailer with the dirt color scheme. I have always heard that lures aren’t designed to catch fish they are designed to catch fisherman. I realize that bait companies must make a buck, but seriously some of these colors are out of site. I’m not saying that you may not have a need for exotic or custom color from time to time, but whatever happen to just watermelon, green pumpkin, black & black. Well, they are still around you just have to rummage through all 1000 different combinations from every bait company to find the basics. I am taking a stand! No longer am I going to be sucked in by the wild and crazy, I’m going to simplify, that is until a Sharelunker is caught with the wild and crazy. Then all bets are off.

I have decided to only carry the basic shades for soft plastics, crankbaits, spinnerbaits. By limiting my selections it will confuse me less. My goal this year is to bring simple back and keep the line longer in the water; where the fish are. Colors have always been a great debate and I would love to know where you stand and how you manage the color crisis. There Are No Magic Colors!

KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!

Gettin’ Jiggy With it!

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I love tackle! You can almost say that I have a habit that would rival those who are hooked on other substances. Seriously, my tackle bill has grown and grown, so I have been placed on a budget by the high command. With new budget in place this has lead me to new soul searching. No more are the days of looking at Bassmaster, FLW or Bass Angler Magazine to find out what the latest is and then roll to the local tackle shop for a purchase. I’m going to miss those days, but now I might be able to retire before I’m dead.

Looking deep into the SD cards from the 2013 season I saw the same pattern emerge every time I was holding a quality fish. The pattern was that I caught it on a jig. Not just any jig but a Santone Jig. I have always known that jigs are big fish baits but for some reason I would be sucked up by the perfumed inner thigh of what was trending. Well, no more. I have decided to become a minimalist when tackle is involved. Heck, I purchased enough last year for the entire 2014 season. However, one thing is clear and that is that I will be upgrading my collection of Jigs. As I am writing, I am reviewing the 2014 catalog for Santone and man it looks great!  The catalog is loaded with new colors and everything you could possibly need for your jig needs. Upon further review, the jig is now my confidence bait! Santone Lures provides the quality and reputation that I depend on when the big fish comes knocking. So if you’ve been placed on a budget and need to examine which baits produce the biggest fish then take a look at Santone. There’s a reason jigs are tied on and sit on the front deck of every boat from FLW to Bassmaster Elites.

Do find yourself getting caught up in the tackle marketing wars? If you are like me and are a sucker for the next great thing, take a deep breath and put it down. Keep it simple with some of the most proven tactics. That is what Santone Lures have done for me. They have helped me minimize my options, think less and fish more. I would love to hear your thoughts and what is working best for you. Whether you agree or disagree it, heck we’re all chasing the passion. I hope your 2014 season is off to a great start and that you have the opportunity to land the fish of your dreams this year.

KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!

KBA’s Best of 2013!

Where would we be without innovation? This year has been an outstanding year of Innovative products for the Kayak Angler. All of these new products have improved the fishing experiences for those that have used them. These products are ranked in no particular order, so I hope you enjoy Kayak Bass Adventures Best of 2013.

Kayaks:

Hobie Pro Angler 14: In my opinion this is the most outstanding fishing kayak on the market today. The Pro Angler has the size and stability to handle the largest bodies of water. Hobie has provided massive amounts of built in storage, from the front hatch with removable liner to the twist and seal hatch with retractable tackle management system. The crown jewel, for me, is the fully adjustable vantage seating. When you spend hours chasing bass it is helpful to have a seat that supports your back and sits high enough to give you fantastic leverage on fish. Lastly, this kayak offers multiple rod storage so you do not have to constantly retie your baits. The Pro Angler gives you six horizontal rod holders, along two vertical rod holders. For me the best kayak for 2013 is definitely the Hobie Pro Angler 14.

Hobie Outback: When I am not in the Pro Angler 14, I prefer the Hobie Outback. For creeks, rivers or small neighborhood ponds I feel this kayak gives me everything I need to be comfortable. Again, Hobie provides outstanding storage, above and below deck, the comfort of the Mirage drive for hands free fishing and the Lowrance ready mounting system for the fish finder. This kayak is light weight and allows me to handle with ease for loading and unloading.  

Kayak Accessories:

Yak Attack Black Pac:  This great innovation has changed the way I store my tackle and has greatly improved my organization on the water. The Black Pac is more than a milk crate offering you endless opportunities for rigging. A few of my favorite items on my Black Pac are my gear tracks. These allow me to mount my cameras in order to capture awesome video. I also have a spot for fish grips, pliers and marking buoys and the Hawg Trough. Kayak Bass Adventures believes this to be the best accessory of 2013!

Brute Outdoors: Nothing completes a Kayak more than a great cooler. The Brute Box is an outstanding product that offers thick insulated walls for maximum ice retention, two heavy duty cantilever latches, rubber gasket for extra tight seal, grab rails for easy carrying, over sized anti-skid rubber feet and multiple tie-down slots for cooler security. I have had numerous coolers and the Brute Box is for real! The Brute 25 fits perfectly behind your seat and allows for easy access. Lastly, the boxes are true to size, meaning that 25 – means actual 25 quart with room for long necks to stand straight up. The perfect kayak pair will be the Brute Box 25 on board and the Brute 50 back at camp. These are made in America and you will see the difference.

Yak Attack Zooka Tube w/ 8’ Parking Pole: I don’t use an anchor trolley because it doesn’t suit my style of fishing. I move a lot and try to cover max water. When I do need to hold a spot, such as grass, pads or timber I count on the Zooka Tube and 8’ Parking Pole.  I realize the primary function of the Zooka is for rod holding, but I have found it to be an excellent piece of equipment for the bass angler during the spring spawn. The reason I love it is because it is quick and easy to deploy and the 8’ Parking pole is a great weapon to push off gators or snakes that get to close for comfort. If you haven’t tried this application- try it.

Battery Pack & Pelican Case: I like simple and easy. This watertight case along with battery gives you security in knowing that you battery is safe from moisture and from the damage caused from dropping. When you have to charge it is charged in the case. I call this my battery brief case and don’t leave home without it.

Supernova Fishing Lights: These bad boys hit the kayak scene this year and took night fishing to the next level. I currently don’t have a set, but when the kayak goes into dry dock this season you can rest assure that we will be installing a set. I like these because they also go along with safety and being seen. I look forward providing a full report next season. From those that I know that have them, it was their Ah Ha moment for fishing after dark.  Great job Supernova!

Fishing Electronics:

Lowrance Electronics: You can’t go wrong with any of the HDS – Gen 2 series of products, enough said!

Hydrowave Mini: This is one of those products that will have doubters, but I have seen it in action and it’s the real deal. Whether you are a tournament angler or a weekend warrior you will put more fish in the boat when you fire up the Hydrowave.

Fishing Rods:

Temple Fork Outfitters: There is not a more quality, well balanced or greater feeling rod than the TFO GTS rods. These rods are lightweight, extra fast at the tip and have amazing feel. One of the things that make a TFO Rod is the tactical series guide with machined stainless steel inserts that are super-hard chrome anodized then swaged into a chromium- impregnated stainless frame. I say all that to say its tough and saltwater safe. TFO rod blanks are selected by Gary Loomis and engineered to the highest quality. I personally prefer the 7’-3’’ GTS in Medium, Medium Heavy, Heavy and X-tra Heavy. Can’t wait to tell all you guys what is coming down the pipe for 2014!

Outdoor Clothing:

Columbia Sportswear: We are all out in many different elements over the course of the season. I have found that Columbia meets all the challenges. A few things to check out is, anything in the Omni-Heat line as well all their performance fishing gear clothing. It’s highly important that you are comfortable and look sharp, Columbia Sportswear brings it all together.

Well, there it is – The Best of 2013! Hope you guys will check out these products and companies and discover the difference it will make in your fishing experience. There is one great retailer to look to when you are searching for quality kayak angling gear and that is the fine folks at Mariner-Sails. You will not find a more knowledgeable and helpful staff anywhere. Feel free to stop by the showroom or shop on line at www.mariner-kayaks.com.

KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!