Saturday, June 24, 2017

Where Do You Stay?? Fishing On The Road....

  Lets face it. The thing that brings most of us to the sport of kayak fishing is the need for adventure! We are for the most roamers at heart and have a hard time staying in one place for very long. In my adventures, I find the one thing that keeps me from traveling more than I do is the expense of it all. Fuel, the occasional decent meal, a place to rest your head for a few hours.....all of these things add up and tend to take the joy out of a great trip when you start adding it all up in your head. It can become a bit overwhelming! Over the years, I have tried to find ways to cut every penny from a trip that is possible.
 The price of fuel is something you just can't do much about. It is going to cost you x amount of dollars to get from point A to point B every time. Other than buying a Prius, there is not much you can do to change that. Food is easy, bring your own. Simple and quick meals are best for life on the road. Don't over complicate this and you will be just fine. Besides, I'm out here to fish not to eat a gourmet meal 3 times a day! A place to sleep and call home for a few days is where I have bounced back and forth between all of the options but I think I have it figured out.....for now.
2000 Capri Ranchero
   Now I have spent many a night in a tent. I'm sure that is where most of our thoughts would go when
discussing cheap options for lodging. It's not the heat in the summer or the cold in the winter that turned me away from tent camping. It was the set up and break down of camp, a place where I may only be for a few hours anyways. Breaking down camp at 4am in the dark is something that I am no fan of. From there I went to hammock camping. This worked very well. I can break down or set up a hammock in just a few minutes. They are fairly comfortable and easy to pack. I doubt I will ever fully give up the hammock but at times it can be tricky to find a place to hang one. For a short period of time, I started staying in motel rooms. The down side of this is the obvious of the expense but also the feeling that your kayak and fishing gear could all be nowhere to be found when you wake up in the morning! Motel parking lots are like a WalMart shopping center for thieves!
What's a fishing blog post without a fish pic!
   After spending way to much of my hard earned funds on motel rooms for a few trips, I started pondering on other options. I do own a 32' travel trailer and that was a thought but the fuel cost to haul that thing alone outweighed the cost of a cheap motel room for a couple of nights. This is when I started considering a truck camper. After looking at pricing of new units, I quickly discovered that was not an option. They build some nice ones and they are very proud of them! I decided that I really didn't need all of the bells and whistles but just a place to rest my head at night. Weeks of searching for just what I was looking for made me realize that people just do not sell these things after they buy them! It was no easy task but after nearly giving up, I ran across a Craigslist add for a Capri camper for an 8' bed. Perfect! Exactly what I needed. Purchased it on the cheap too at a price of $800.
  The great thing about the truck camper is that there is zero setting up or breaking down camp. I can be gone in a flash. It provides me with a comfortable and secure place to sleep anywhere I find myself after a day on the water. The Capri Ranchero that I purchased only weighs 600lbs and is barely wider than the bed of my truck. Most times while driving down the highway I hardly know its even there. It does effect my fuel mileage ever so slightly but the trade off is well worth it! I hope one day to upgrade to one of the larger Capris with a bathroom and kitchen. Maybe all of those creature comforts wouldn't be so bad.....
Included below is a link to the Capri Camper web page so that you can go check out their new models. I will also be posting a short review of my camper with more pics of the interior in the near future!


Monday, June 5, 2017

KBF-Lake Whitney

   3am....that's what time I started this rainy day. Even with the early start and wet forecast, I was excited to be fishing the first bass tournament I had fished in a very long time. Walking up to the registration table I recognized a few familiar faces under their rain hoods that I had fished many tournaments with in the past but noticed more that I did not recognize. It just goes to show that kayak fishing is continuing to grow as a sport. Knowing that there would be some serious competition, I had no serious thought of winning this thing even though it was being held on a lake that I was very familiar with. In fact, I started fishing Lake Whitney at a very young age with my father. I would guess I was 4 or 5 the first time I pulled a bass from its deep blue green water. What I was hoping to do was finish somewhere in the top ten and if all went well possibly the top 5.
  Driving through the lightning storm to the launch, I couldn't help but wonder how many other kayakers would be hitting the same spot I had decided to fish just the day before. What I didn't expect were  the 15 bass boats lined up at the gate waiting to get in when I arrived at the park. Turns out there was a power boat tournament launching out of the same location. The day was already looking rough with the early start and the weather and now I would have to share a ramp with all of these glitter rockets! About then is when I noticed the vehicle in front of me with a NuCanoe Pursuit on its rack. None other than fellow NuCanoe pro staffer Raymond Martinez! I had seen Ray at the captains meeting earlier but never dreamed we would end up at the same launch. Ray is a great guy to share some time on the water with so I knocked on his window and let him in on another launch we could use in the park to avoid the ramp full of bass boats.
  After waiting out the lightning as long as an eager angler can possibly wait, we both launched and rounded the bend only to find most of those previously mentioned glitter rockets posted up on the flat I had intentions of slaying 5lbers on for most of the day. I focused on a wind blown point that for some strange reason was vacant of anything made of fiberglass. I hook up almost immediately with what in no doubt in my mind must be at least an 18" to 20" fine specimen of a large mouth bass. In fact, it was a 13" undersized specimen of a large mouth bass that was scored but later culled with a 14" bass. That was about how the day went. I caught fish all day. They were hungry fish. They needed to grow. They were destroying my baits. What they were not doing is cashing me any checks!
  I had a limit of 14"- 15" fish and knew I had to get on the move to find some bigger fish. I started heading south down the flat thinking that later in the day when the south wind picked up I could just drift back to the launch. I flipped willows. I flipped stumps. I flipped flooded brush piles. I flipped every piece of cover I can see above the water line and everything I could see on my graph. More dinky bass. If I had to make a guess I would say I caught close to 30 fish that day and only one that would bump me up in the standings. That fish was starving and probably would have eaten a chicken nugget if I had one tied on! Seriously, I think a couple of the 14" fish I caught out weighed this skinny little 19" fish! Good thing its a game of inches.
  So there I am, two miles down the flat when I start to see a fog coming across the lake. Only I quickly realize that its not fog as the north wind picks up. A steady rain set in along with a strong wind out of the north and here I am on the south end of the flat. Now those who know Whitney know how quickly calm waters can become anything but in a hurry! It was going to be a fun and sporty paddle back to the launch. Luckily, I was in a NuCanoe Pursuit which handles these conditions very well. At no point did I feel unsafe about the situation I had put myself in.
  After a long paddle back in the wind and rain I was happy to find out that pizza and a frosty cold one would be provided at the weigh in thanks to a great tournament director Duc Tran. I really enjoyed fishing my first KBF tournament and hope to fish another in the near future. Oh, and I finished a respectable 9th place. Congrats to the first place winner, Jason Delfraisse , second place, Chris Anglin and third place, one of the new faces I mentioned before, Santos Zepeda. Congratulations go out to the other 32 anglers in the event for surviving the storms....

And here are the dinky, skinny fish that didn't award me any monetary gains......

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

If Only For A Little While...

 I begin my journey through the dark down a scarcely traveled trail but the rising sun soon greets me as a narrow sliver of purple light appears at the horizon and slowly becomes shades of orange and red. I take it all in as I know this moment will last only for a little while.

The sun breaches the horizon and brings life to all that calls this patch of trees along a remote river bank home. Birds sing as the morning dew weighs down the few blades of grass that have managed to sprout to life under a protective canopy of cedars and oaks. Squirrels play tag among their limbs and only stop for a moment to chatter in showing that they are aware of my presence. Even the smallest visible living things seem to greet the new day as tiny flowers begin to bloom from the  damp earth below the trees. I take it all in as I know this moment will last only for a little while.

Slowly I creep into a clear shallow stream that runs over smooth round river rock beneath my feet. The gentle ripple of the slow moving river is the only sound to be heard. Sunfish jolt from the stones they have been using as ambush points for their prey of small minnows and bugs floating on the surface of the water as my steps spook them. I can just make out the silhouette of a bass who is no doubt making the frightened sunfish her meal. This is my prey. Gently I place a cast just in front of her nose and the fish cautiously approaches my fly. A sniff and a turn of the head and she is gone ignoring my presentation. This task is repeated hundreds of times through the day. Some are fooled by the bits of plastic, feathers and fur I have prepared for them, most are not. I take it all in as I know this moment will last only for a little while.
   As I exit the cool clear water of the gently flowing river I reflect on how fortunate I am to have spent these precious hours taking in all that is in this moment. Back through the trees I wonder finding perhaps the same squirrels that had been so active that morning now moving a little slower with the sun beginning to set. The setting sun is near blinding as I pass the tree line and find my truck just where and how I had left it many hours ago. I stop for a moment and turn back to see the path I had just hiked wondering when I may be fortunate enough to return. I take it all in as I know this moment will last only for a little while....

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gear Review....C-Tug Kayak Cart

  I have used several different kayak carts in the search for one that would actually hold up to the abuse that I put on them while launching in some seriously remote locations where the terrain can be hard enough to walk on much less drag a fully loaded NuCanoe Pursuit behind you without losing my sanity! The ones I have built myself always had the most promise but it became apparently clear that I am no engineer as my designs would eventually break under the load after just a few uses. Carts available that were not so hard on the wallet did great on flat terrain or pavement. Take these on rough terrain however and they just wouldn't work. The biggest problem I would have is keeping the kayak centered on the cart or have it slide completely off from tipping over. No matter how tight I would get the straps it would always slide to a point where they would come loose and I would lose my load. You can imagine the headache of this happening 2-3 times before reaching the water only 50-100 yards away!
  Well no more! Problem solved! After all of the advice I ignored due to the high price compared to other carts, I broke down and purchased the C-Tug from Railblaza, At the price of $189.95 with the Sandtrakz wheels, it was a bit more than I really wanted to dish out but after using it a couple of times I realized what a small price it was to pay to maintain my sanity! Im telling you right now....THIS IS THE CART! If you have had the same problems I have described, stop looking. Whip that credit card out of your wallet and order one now! I'm telling you....Put down that burrito, step away from the computer and run down to your local paddle shop and pick one up! If they don't carry them there, start shopping somewhere else that carries the best of the best. The next best thing is not good enough for you my friend!

  Ok lets start with assembly. I'm sure it came with instructions but I didn't need them. It's simple, stupid simple. The whole thing snaps together in a matter of seconds. The only thing that took a little time to figure out was the strap. I was concerned about there being only one but that would turnout to be a non issue. I have heard negative reviews about the strap and people changing them out after purchase but I'm thinking maybe C-Tug has changed them. That would have to be confirmed but I believe this is the case.
  The Sandtrakz wheels on this thing are amazing! Rolling over rock, sand, limbs, roots you name it. I have yet to find anything they will not make it over. The cheaper wheels that the cart can be purchased with at a lower price, $140.00, maybe better on hard flat terrain but when is that the case? The upgraded wheels are worth the extra $50.00 in my opinion.
  Now to what keeps your boat from sliding all over this cart. The rubber padding on this cart almost sticks to the hull of the kayak. One strap that is included is plenty to keep the C-Tug under your kayak where it belongs. No more will you have to stop half way to your launch to reposition your boat on the cart or pick up all of its contents after dumping it because the cart slid out of position. No more headaches! Be sure to check out a video review of how this cart handles rough terrain coming soon on my You Tube channel link below.

  If you are local to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can pick yours up at Angler's Pro Tackle or Mariner Sails who are both NuCanoe dealers as well. Links below....


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gear Review....NuCanoe Black Pack

  There were lots of new and really great accessories from NuCanoe in 2016! My favorite, the NuCanoe Black Pack. In a collaboration from NuCanoe and Yak Attack, we have the Nucanoe Black Pack. It is a slightly smaller size than the original for a great fit in the NuCanoe Frontier but still plenty of room for all that you need for a day on the water. It comes to you broke down with assembly required. I think it took me all of 15 minutes to put it together.
The kit includes one set of rod holders for three rods (I added a second set to mine), two hinges for the lid, two mighty mounts and all of the panels and hardware for the crate. What makes this crate so great are the hinges. They allow the lid to stay open in any position without falling down behind the box or closing on you but still open easily. They are just stiff enough to function perfectly!
 Now you do not have to own a NuCanoe to enjoy the use of this great piece of gear but it certainly does help! You can pick one up locally in the DFW area at one of the two NuCanoe dealers, Angler's Pro Tackle in North Richland Hills or Mariner Sails in Dallas. (links below) They can certainly be purchased online from NuCanoe or purchased at your local Nucanoe dealer as well.
A look at these great hinges!

Storage in the NuCanoe Black Pack

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Path Less Traveled

  With the daily grind of working a 9-5 job and guiding on my days off, I stay extremely busy! Trying to balance work, fishing and family can become a full time job in its self. From time to time I have the need to escape it all to recharge my batteries just a bit. This could involve a full weekend alone on a slow flowing river or just a few hours on a small stream with a fly rod in hand. Whatever the case, you can bet that those trips tend to have me following an unbeaten path. It's a must to get away from it all. These locations are often more remote and the access can be challenging at best! From time to time, you have to do something just for you....

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Hey, That's My Spot!"

     I hear this time and time again and it drives me completely insane! "That's my spot!", as if I am doing someone an injustice just by the physical presence of my being! With that said, I do have places that I consider "My spot" but that doesn't mean that I view it as wrong for anyone else to stumble across it and sore lip a few hungry fish while they are there. Fact is, to consider a patch of water "my spot" a ton of work goes into it. It doesn't take hours or even days to do this. It takes YEARS! I don't think it can truly be considered your spot until you can be successful in patterning its local finned inhabitants in any weather condition and any month of the year. This takes some true dedication to the sport. You have to be out there in the most horrible conditions as well as the most pleasant. The satisfaction that comes with gaining this knowledge is unmatched as an angler. It is what IT is all about. This is the reason I don't give up all of its secrets (my spot) when questioned by another angler. Some think you are just being rude but the fact is, I wouldn't want to be responsible for taking that satisfaction away from anyone. So next time you cross my path while out paddling and I say "Hey, that's my spot!" know where that's coming from, take notes and fish on!