I would like to believe that I am a good fisherman, with well-rounded skills in both fresh and salt waters. I also view myself as a minimalist in the aspect that I paddle a lightweight kayak that does not suit itself well to having all the bells and whistles that larger kayaks have. I don’t take 10 rods on the water with me or enough tackle to open up my own shop. I have to ensure that I have the gear I need to effectively target what I may encounter and nothing more. Here I will outline some of the lessons that I have learned, or ones that I have re-learned over the past few months, with the hope that it may help others out along the way. Here we go!
- Know the water you are fishing, and the gear you are using – This may seem like a no brainer, but if you follow these rules your trips will be much more enjoyable and you will be nicely rewarded. On a recent trip to one of my favorite bass spots, my buddy Ted and I were fishing an area right before, during, and after a cold front. Prior to the front, we knew the areas that the bass were feeding on and what baits best mimicked the forage of the lake. We were able to bust out some quality fish in the morning and the day was a success. As the front passed, the fishing grinded to a halt. This is where we decided to go fish some deeper water with the hope of finding fish stacked up. We changed up our presentations to take advantage of the conditions and we were pleasantly rewarded. Point being, be versatile and understand that just because a pattern worked during one part of the day, it will not always continue to produce throughout the remainder of the day.
Don’t be afraid to depart from the norm in order to catch fish – On another day when Square Bills and Jerkbaits would be the normal presentation for the given conditions, mix things up. We decided that with the jerkbait bite in deeper water being nonexistent, we would fish trees and vegetation with spinnerbaits. We knew our tactics were a departure from what we had established but decided to go with them anyways. This paid off with some quality Bass and a would be VA weight citation Bowfin. When I asked the science behind spinnerbait fishing in these conditions, we could not come up with any other answer than “it has worked in the past”.
Tommy establishing a spinnerbait pattern on a jerkbait day An angry Bowfin that slammed a Spinnerbait
- Realize that in order to catch fish, you may need to adjust your target, and techniques – There will be days when the conditions, the fish, or both will not allow you to chase after your target species, or you might not be able to get the exact presentation needed conventionally, and may need to switch to other methods. This occurred on more than one occasion where I wanted to chase bass, but knowing where they were located, the conditions would not allow me to get there. This is when I changed my target, and focused on catching citation pickerel. Another time, I wanted to chase pickerel, but the conditions were brutally cold and I realized that a very slow presentation was the best way to fool them into biting, so instead of fishing with gear, I decided to take the fly rod out and I was pleasantly rewarded. As long as there is open water, there will be something waiting to be caught. Tunnel vision can be the worst enemy an angler who just wants to get out and fish.
Crappy conditions for a Crappie Day
A Pickerel on the fly to pop the cherry on the 2015 kayak fishing season
A VA release citation Chain Pickerel caught when the bass were unaccessable
- Be ready for what the conditions may throw at you – Sometimes you are just stuck fishing certain conditions. This may be low, dirty, grassy water, or quite the opposite. Have enough gear to tackle multiple presentations for your conditions, but still keep some that may be just the opposite. Recently, I encountered low and dirty water conditions. While I like to throw pinks and yellows in these conditions, I could visibly watch fish turn away and pay my baits no mind. It wasn’t until I switched up to the darkest colors that I had that I found the fish on the end of my line. Sometimes rules are just meant to be broken.
|A nice pre-spawn bass caught using a Chatterbait in deeper water right after a strong cold front passed through
|A nice redfish caught after switching color schemes|
The most important thing to remember though is to go out and ENJOY yourself. Take advantage to the vestle you are on and look around. Enjoy the sights, and sounds. Emerse yourself in not just the fishing, but also your environment!