Redfish are RED HOT!!!Read More
Artificial lure fishing…Read More
Trout fishing is hot!!!Read More
Kayak fishingRead More
Red tide and Redfish!Read More
Fishing for black drum out of a kayak.Read More
As you probably know, Florida is one of the best fishing destinations on earth. It is unique with beautiful lagoons, lush grass-flats, long rivers/creeks, deep blue-green coastal waters, and lakes/ponds in just about every direction you look. There are many ways to fish on them: by boat, by foot/wading, or by canoe, but my personal favorite is by kayak. I love the freedom of being able to put my kayak in just about anywhere and leave as little imprint on the environment as possible. Plus, they are super stealthy and I can get to places that many people can’t get to… I want to give you guys my three top places to fish in Florida and why…
1st- Tampa/ Sarasota, FL
I choose to live here because of our beautiful Gulf waters and the amazing fishing. Besides Sarasota winning best beach in the world just about every year, it is home to some of the best tarpon fishing in the world. We also have some of the most beautiful, lushest grass-flats that I’ve seen anywhere. And our water clarity is pretty good all year. This makes for an outstanding inshore fishery for snook, redfish, trout, and tarpon. Because we are on the central gulf coast, it does take a little bit to get into some deeper waters for offshore fishing. But there are plenty of nearshore reefs on the way out with lots of great fish to be caught like grouper, snapper, cobia, kingfish, etc…
2nd- Mosquito Lagoon/ Indian River, FL
This place is a very unique fishery. It is home to some of the largest trout and redfish I’ve ever seen! It isn’t really tidal driven like most saltwater areas, so the wind and rain play a huge part in the water level and clarity. If you are any type of fisherman whether fly or conventional and like to catch redfish and trout, this place is literally a dream come true. If you put your bait anywhere near a fish over there it is going to get crushed!
3rd Florida Keys
This place is an incredibly beautiful chain of islands that has the best of both worlds inshore and offshore. Literally pick an island, head out in any direction and you can find just about every fish Florida has to offer. They are well known for their tarpon and bonefish fishing. I also love that it still has that old Florida feel.
Be adventurous and go check out what all Florida has to offer. Also please respect and take care of our water so that everyone can enjoy. Tight Lines & Tight Knots! Tight lines and Tight knots to everyone! Eric Henson is the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC. a guided kayak fishing company out of Sarasota Florida. He specializes in inshore light tackle or fly fishing from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. To book a guided fishing trip with Eric check out his website www.CastingKayaks.com or give him a call at 941-504-1349
Fly fishing can be one the most exhilarating things to try if you are an angler and desire a novel experience or a new challenge. It is pretty much the most intimate fishing experience that you can have. From tying your own flies for your next catch to casting a fly rod, the whole experience could most definitely be considered an art form.
First, you pull just enough line to cast and give it a good stretch so that you have less room for error once you reach your target. Once you find the fish you are looking for, you get into the best possible position for hitting your mark. While you are casting, you breathe as you feel your line loading through the rod and you listen to your line starting to form tight loops. Then you release your line as it rockets through the guides of your rod and lays down ever so softly just in front of your target. You begin to strip your line as the fish turns its head with its pectoral fins out, and rushes over, mouth wide open to inhale your fly. Boom! Fish ON!
One more good strip set as you begin to feel your line peeling out through your hands until it is tight on the rod. Then you palm the spool for just the right drag while you feel the sheer power of the fish. You look at the backing of your line hoping that you have enough just as the fish’s will starts to break. You reel reel reel and then the fish decides to go for another run! Finally, you get all your line back as you see fish getting closer and closer to you until the fish rolls over on its side into submission. When all of this comes together it can be one of the greatest fulfillments in fishing.
This is one of my favorite times of the year to fly fish. As the water clarity continues to improve and air/ water temps are cooler, sight fishing will be key. The fish are easy to see but it is also easier for them to see you so you need to have a good plan of execution. Also this time of year the fish are starting to feed on smaller things which is a great for fly fishermen. I like to throw crustacean type patterns now, although they will feed on smaller bait fish patterns as well. Sometimes the wind can be a bear this month so don’t be afraid to hit the backwaters. The fish will be making their way back there anyway if they aren’t already there.
Snook- These fish are really starting to feed heavily to get fattened up before winter. Look for them near the mouth’s of creeks and rivers. Once you have located them, get ready to hold on tight! They will eat just anything that crosses their path. If you see them busting baits near the surface, start out by pitching top water lures like the Yo- Zuri 3DB and be ready for crazy aerial assaults.
Redfish- This is a great month for redfish. The large schools will slowly start to break into smaller pods and don’t be surprised to find large fish by themselves. You can also find them hanging around the mullet schools. My bait of choice in this situation is Yo-Zuri’s new Inshore Series in the mullet pattern and it is great for covering lots of water. Play with the speed and retrieval twitches until you figure out what speed they are eating that day.
Trout- Big trout are here! They have been on fire in the deeper potholes in the 4-6 ft. range but, don’t be surprised to see them creeping in the shallows as well. Most of my big trout lately have been caught on the Monster 3X X-MOVE 4 ¾ with 1/16- 1/8 oz. jig head. Once you catch one or two, I would stay close to that area because there will probably be more.
I hope everyone enjoys the cooler air and beautiful waters. Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all!
Sharks can be one of the most fun fish to catch in SW Florida and just about anywhere in the world really… Pound for pound they can be some the strongest fish, with long line burning runs that never give up. They can be caught in waters less than a foot or in deep sea waters. They also come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
The most common smaller sharks caught in our waters would have to be Black-tips, Bonnetheads, Spinners and Reef sharks, but, we do have larger ones as well like Bulls, Lemons, Tigers, and even Great-whites! Targeting the smaller species out of the kayaks can be lots of fun. And if you really want to target the big boys, the best way is to do it from shore and to use your kayak to paddle your bait out past the sand bar. Sometimes when we are fishing for smaller sharks we end up with bigger ones than we would prefer so we enjoy the fight, get as much line back as possible and then cut it.
There are many techniques to target sharks. My favorite way to target them is to sight fish them with artificial lures. Top water lures like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil and the Monster 3X X-MOVE are my go-to artificial lures for sharks. If you prefer other bait, anything fresh and bloody will work every time! Cut pinfish, mullet, jacks, bonita, and lady fish to name a few of my favorites. Also chumming never hurts or even tie a bonita carcass off the side of your yak. If you chum, they will come!
For smaller sharks 4 ft and under a size 3-4000 size reel, 7 ft. med-heavy action rod, 15-20 lb braided line, and 30-50 lb. fluorocarbon leader will get the job done. And for the larger ones I like to use an 8000 size reel, 8 ft. heavy action rod, 40-50 lb. braided line, 80 lb. fluorocarbon leader with a steel leader tippet. Of coarse the larger the sharks you are targeting… the bigger and beefier your gear had better be!
Please make sure you are very cautious while doing this out of a kayak. Sharks are a bundle of muscle, cartilage, and teeth. They will beat you and your kayak up if you bring them into the yak without having complete control of them. Also be careful when releasing them because many sharks can reach the tip of their tail with their teeth! As always, Be Safe and have fun! Tight Lines and tight Knots to all!
When it comes to fishing, learning to properly land your catch is critical. We all have a great story about the huge fish that we almost landed… but there’s no photographic evidence (or dinner on the table) because we lost it while trying to get it into our boat. Learning to land your fish can be the difference between a good and a great day. There’s nothing like catching the fish of a lifetime and as soon as it gets next to the yak, it comes unglued… This usually happens when you try to lift the fish into the boat with your rod or you try to grab it with your hands next to the boat. There are many different types of tools that you can use to land certain types of fish in different types of situations. The two main tools that I use to land fish are a good landing net and lip grippers. These two tools can improve your game and help you successfully land more fish.
Landing Net- This is the number one thing that I depend on in tournaments when it is most critical to land the fish. When picking out a net decide on what size fish is the average that you will be targeting. The last thing you want on your kayak is a huge clumsy net that is always in the way of your paddling or fishing. For inshore species I like to use the EGO Slider 2 17” or 19”. Reasons why: First, it has rubber mesh that is easier on the fish and is extremely easy to remove the hooks from (no tangled mess). Second, it has an extension handle that makes it easy to use for reaching out on kayaks or when using a fly rod with a long leader. Third and most of all it floats! : ) People ask me all the time what if I catch a huge fish? Trust me I’ve landed 40+ inch fish in this net. Most of the time if you get a large fish’s head in a net it will break it will and give up, giving you complete control of the fish.
Lip Grippers- I use lip grippers on an everyday basis! Either to land a fish or after just to remain in control of the fish. A lot of times I have a bungee tied to the grippers so I can let the fish rest in the water (to lessen the stress put on the fish) while I decide to get out a measuring board, camera, etc… They have many different varieties out there from floating ones like Fish Grips to ones that you can actually take weight measurements from like a Bocca Grip. None-the-less, they all work great for keeping control of your fish.
Until next time, keep control of your catch and land the fish of a lifetime! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all!
This can be one of the hottest times of year where the outside temps and water temps are at their highest. The fishing can be RED HOT as well if you plan your trips out right. I like to get out on the water earlier and finish up before the hottest part of the day.
REDFISH- They are really starting to heat up large schools of redfish growing just about daily. You can find these fish in the shallow grass flats early in the morning and then look for them cruising the outer edges once the sun gets up over head. Remember to be stealthy because if you scare one, you have scared them all. I like to target them with top water lures like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil first thing in the morning. Then I switch up to soft plastics like the Monster 3X X-SWIM or suspension baits like Mirro Lures Mirrodine.
SNOOK- My favorite place to target these fish is with a fly rod off the beach close to the passes as they start to migrate their way back to the flats, creeks, etc… The set up I primarily use for this is an 8 wt. St. Croix rod, TF 70 3-TAND fly reel, Teeny’s 8 wt. kayak series fly line, with a Seaguar fluorocarbon leader 30# tippet. Look for groups of smaller fish close to the shoreline with larger fish lurking around I a little deeper water. I’ve been catching some nice snook on River Bum’s purple tarpon toad early in the morning and then switching to gotcha flies later.
TROUT- Look for these fish to be hanging on the grass flats in deeper pot holes around the 4-7 ft. range. Most of these fish are in schools averaging about the 15-19 inch range but, perfect if you are looking for dinner. I always like to start throwing top water plugs like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil because they are a blast on top water!. Then I move onto soft plastics like the Monster 3X X_MOVE.
So this summer beat the heat! Not only do we need to take care of ourselves from the heat like staying hydrated but, also take care of the fish… If you are practicing catch and release, spend a little extra time to reviving them. “Quick tip” Fish can be a little sluggish on hot days so don’t be afraid to cast out an ole trusty piece of cut bait. It might just do the trick! Till next time… Be Safe, Stay Hydrated, and have fun! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all.
Eric Henson is the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC. a guided kayak fishing company out of Sarasota Florida. He specializes in inshore light tackle or fly fishing from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. To book a guided fishing trip with Eric check out his website www.CastingKayaks.com or give them a call at 941-504-134
This weekend was the first tournament for the Kayak Bass Series. I had charters all week up to Thursday so I didn't get much time to pre-fish. Also, I have not freshwater fished since the last KBS tournament! I was just going over there because it is a fun tournament with great people and I wanted to get back to my roots- my first fishing experiences as a child were fishing for bass. I headed over to the other coast Friday morning around 4 am to do some bass recon. Needless to say I was on a mission to find some bass for the tournament the next day. I pushed out on to the beautiful St. Johns River around 8:30. The only thing I could get these bass to eat this day was the Yo-Zuri popper. I ended up sticking 3 nice bass and lost a really nice one. I didn't fish too hard this day because I didn't want to sore lip the bass for the next day. Once I had found fish, I knew where to go and what my game plan was going to be for the next day.
On game day (Tournament Day) I pushed out around 6:30 on the prowl for my 5 bass bag limit. Since I had so much success the day before on top-water, I started throwing a top-water popper and a frog. I lost two fish right off the bat, both in the mid 20's!!! Then I did the thing they say you should never do... leave fish to find fish. When I reached the other side of the lake, I saw Andrew Mixon sitting in the spot where I wanted to fish. I had to be respectful to my fellow angler/friend and not carry on to that spot. After watching him catch 3-4 fish right in front of me I headed off to re-group for another game plan. I went back to where I lost those other fish and just slowed everything down. I put on a speed worm and rubber worm with a bullet weight, both rigged weedless. I finally figured out that if I didn't have my bait in the weeds, I was not getting bites! After I tuned into the bite, I had my 5 bass bag limit in no time! I lost a couple of more lunkers on the top-water frog that made me wanna throw up! lol! My bass game was just a little rusty and couldn't get a good hook-set with the frog. Needless to say, I had one of the most fun days watching some of the most EPIC eats I've ever seen from bass on top-water. And I was just happy that I was able to compete with people who had been pre-fishing for two weeks and who bass fish on a regular basis. Who knows where I would have been in the ranking with the couple of the fish that I lost. Shoulda, Woulda , Coulda! :)
The St. Johns River is a Beautiful fishery and would love to go there again some day. My hats off to all of the competitors and Andrew Cameron/Crew for an fun tournament. Also great job to my friends: 2nd place Andrew Mixon, 3rd place Jason Broach, 5th place Bart A Swab. I'm sure this series will continue to be a blast! Check out Kayak Bass Series if you are a bass fisherman.:) I would like to thank everyone who makes this possible for me God, wife, family, friends, Johnson Outdoors, Old Town Kayaks, Ocean Kayaks, Bending Branches, Yak-Gear, 3-TAND, Humminbird, EGO, RailBlaza, Monster 3X , Yo-Zuri Lures, Mister Twister, EXUDE, Mirro Lure, Paul Brown, St. Croix Rods, Owner Hook, Seaguar, Mojo, Intova, River Bum, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses.
Winter time can be
one the best times of the year to go fly fishing. Soon baits
like larger pilchards
and threadfins will start to dissipate and most fish will start
to switch over to
eating more crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, blood worms,
etc…). Also as water temps
start to drop, the fish appetites will begin to slow down.
As their appetites
begin to slow down, the fish start to prey on smaller baits.
This making it the
perfect time of year for throwing flies!
My all around go
to rod and reel this time of year is a St. Croix 9 ft./ 8wt.
Legend Elite with
a 3-TAND T-70 reel. The rod has plenty of backbone/
sensitivity for throwing
most flies and handling fish from 1-2 lbs. up to 30plus lbs.
The reel has a
sealed Nano CF Drag system, interchangeable larger arbors
from 7-9 wt., incredibly
strong for a great price that doesn’t break the bank! I
prefer to use Teeny’s
weight forward floating Redfish line. This WF line was
designed to help
kayakers cast while sitting down, but, rockets out of the rod to
make for a long accurate
cast. Most of the fish I
target with this line will in pretty skinny water unless
I’m fishing deeper
creeks in which case I will add more length to my
leader. For my leader,
I start out with 4-6 ft. of 40-50 lb. test, then connect
that to a 3 ft. 30-25lb
test leader and finally connect that to a 3 ft. 20-10 lb.
leader. I do adjust my leaders due to fishing certain
species of fish or during this
time on windier days I like to shorten my
leader up to about 8
Now for my flies
of choice this time of year… I have been having lots of success on
River Bums chartreuse/white deceiver. Catching everything
from trout, redfish,
to snook. Another fly that I have lots of luck on
is a simple white
gotcha. It is so small and simple looking but, I have hooked
some huge snook on
them this time of year! Last, but, my favorite is a Tan
Epoxy shrimp. This
fly is killer this time of year for just about all types of
fish! Also what is
cool about this fly is that because it is made out of epoxy,
I like to put a
little shrimp flavored Pro Cure on it. Work it extremely
slowly along the bottom
and it is game on!
Hope this helps motivate
anyone thinking of picking up the
fly rod this winter. Until next time… stay warm! Tight
Lines and Tight knots!
Kayak Fly Fishing
Posted by RiverBum Pro: Eric Henson on February 05, 2016
Kayaking and fly fishing can be a beautiful marriage. They complement each other in so many ways. Fly fishing for example, you must be extremely stealthy and you have to use most of your senses. Eyes, to engulf your surroundings and zero in on your target. Mind, to evaluate the wind, speed, and direction for the perfect cast. Then your body, to feel the load of the line bending through the eyes and then as it transmits the energy through the rod. Kayaking is nearly the same with a stealthy approach where you need to utilize your senses. Eyes, to see your surroundings and take the desired path. Mind, to process the wind, current, and speed to get you to your destination. Then your body, to transmit the power and energy through your paddle as you glide through the water. Both kayaking and fly fishing are a full body experience and I can’t think of a stealthier way to do both…
People kayak for many reasons. Some for the sport, exercise and health. Others to sight-see and to enjoy nature to the fullest. Many kayakers go to places where most boats or people can’t get to. I kayak to do all of these things and also for FISHING! Kayaks are one the most quiet/stealthy ways to move through the water with little disturbance. They can take you to places that you didn’t even know existed. There is no other feeling in the world like being in a remote area, where all you can hear is the wind pouring through the tree tops, birds squawking on the shoreline, and water as it pushes through the blade of your paddle. Just when you are wondering to yourself if anyone has ever been here before… a fish pushes out from the mangroves. Your heart starts to flutter and knees begin to shake as your mind starts to race towards a plan of action.
Similarly, people fly fish for many reasons. Some do it for the beauty and artistry. Others for a more primitive feel of fishing. Lots of people fly fish for the sheer challenge of it. I do it for all of these reasons and much more. There are so many motions that a fly angler goes through to landing that special catch. First picking the right rod, reel, and line leader for the task at hand. Then choosing just the right fly that matches the hatch of the area and the targeted species. Once you’ve managed to located the fish, now all of your primal hunting instincts start to kick in. You feel the direction of the wind in your face as you determine the direction of the tide for the perfect cast. You listen to the line as it loops back and forth, trying to sync your breathing. The line lays down onto the water and then the fly to follow with the slightest splash. The fish turns on the fly, you hold your breath as you begin to strip your line. Strip, strip, and BOOM! Fish On! A huge sigh of relief exhales. The sound of the screaming drag sends chills down your spine. When the fish finally makes its way into your net, you are filled with emotions that are indescribable!
The similarities between kayaking and fly fishing make for a fantastic joint venture. I believe that those who are drawn to fly fishing would definitely love the fun and challenge of trying it from a kayak. Look me up if you are ever on the west coast of Florida and I’ll show you how it’s done!
Tight lines & Screaming Drags!
Eric Henson is a RiverBum Pro, and the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC, Eric Henson has over 30 years fly fishing experience and frequents the waters of Tampa Bay down to Charlotte Harbor in Florida. His favorite targets are redfish, snook, trout and tarpon. Read more on Eric at his website and blog.
Winter time fishing is one of my favorite times of the year to fish. If you are a true Floridian like me, it’s time to break out the winter clothing. Things I like to wear to keep me warm include a nice warm pair of paddling gloves, hats, buffs, and I even knock the dust of the ole waders. But, the number one thing that keeps me warmer than anything is a good windbreaker. You can cut the chill in half with a good windbreaker and they aren’t very bulky, so it's still easy to move around. Although this year has been a little warmer than previous years so far, look for fish this month falling into their winter patterns. Once you learn the patterns of the fish you are targeting, it can be literally like plucking fish out of a bucket.
Fishing will be most productive on the couple of days right before cold fronts and generally a few days after the cold front has rolled in. Fish get extremely fired up right before a front. Even the day as the front rolls in with crazy high winds, I’ve had some of my best days! Just please be careful if you are in a kayak. As the front rolls in and the fish feel the pressure dropping, it triggers them to feed hard. Then right behind that, the pressure will begin to rocket back up with cold high winds and blue bird skies. The fishing will generally be slower right behind the cold front. Then usually 2-3-4 days after depending on the size of the front, the high pressure will let up and the fish will begin the eat more heavily again.
Extreme winter time negative low tides can also give anglers a clear advantage targeting fish. First off, all extreme tides are caused by the full and new moon’s gravitational pull. Fishing as a whole, is generally better on these big tide swings. Also with the heavy winds this time of year, it can blow the water out even more. Think about it like this, less water- less places for fish to hide…(mangrove shore lines, docks, etc.) As the water pours off the grass flats, target nearby creeks, rivers, and boat channels. These will get narrower as well, giving you a better chance with less water to find them. If you enjoy wading, this is a great time to walk the grass flats. Fish holes that you’ve found previously fishing on the higher tides. Sometimes you can find fish stuck in them from the water getting sucked out to fast. Now that's like fishing in a bucket! These extreme low tides can help you learn a lot about the layout of an area for future fishing trips.
So remember to check the weather and your tides this winter and try some of these methods. I promise it will give you an advantage to fishing in the winter months. Stay warm and be safe! Hope everyone’s holidays were blessed and fishy! :) Tight lines and Tight Knots to the New Year!
One of the greatest accomplishments in a day of inshore fishing is catching an INSHORE SLAM! The inshore slam consist of a snook, redfish, and trout all caught on a day of fishing. That is pretty much my goal on a daily basis while fishing the flats. There are some days where we catch one to multiple inshore slams which makes for an amazing day! Some days for what ever reason only one or two of the species will eat which is still great but, falling short of catching the slam.
Most of the tournaments on the central west coast of Florida are Slam Tournaments due to challenge of catching all three species. I recently just won the Kayak fishing Classics Johnson Outdoors Championships in Tampa Bay, FL where only 5 people out of all the anglers caught a inshore slam. Inshore Slam Tournaments are generally scored by whomever has the longest measured inches of all three fish. Even if an angler has two fish which measure longer than someone who has all three species, the angler with all three species usually wins.
Most people know that any given day, most fish are going to feed heavily an hour before and after sunrise and sunset. For me, on a day where I am trying to target all three species, the first fish I will target will be a trout. I usually head straight to my trout spot and try to catch a good one right off the bat. Most of your bigger trout like to feed early. Then I try and bang out a snook. Snook are another fish were I seem to catch the bigger ones in the twilight stages of the day. Last but definitely not least is Mr. Redfish! I seem to catch redfish easier through out the day. This is just a guide line on how most of the to anglers in this area plan their trips on the quest of catching a inshore slam. A lot of the times I will catch one the three species while targeting another species which ends up being a bonus!
Good luck on your quest of landing a INSHORE SLAM! Happy Holidays! Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to everyone!
This is one of my favorite months for Red Drum. I call it The Hunt For Red October! Red Drum are also called redfish, spottail, or channel bass. Red drum are named after the drumming sound they make when taken out of the water and during breeding. They have broad heads and stout bronze/ red colored bodies normally with a black spot right before their tail fin starts. You can find them just about anywhere inshore and offshore in our region. The bag limit for our region is one fish per angler 18-27 inches.
This time of year, huge schools of bull redfish are here and on the prowl for their next meal. The majority of these fish will be over slot but are very fun to pursue . Some of the newer schools that are coming in from offshore will be a washed out lighter grey color and the schools that have been here for a little bit will be a beautiful bronze color. When you see a large school of these fish coming at you, it will literally turn the water a bronze reddish color. A lot of the bigger fish in the upper 30’s – upper 40’s might look a little beat up from spawning. Be careful to release them because these are our big breeders.
Right now I am targeting them on the grass flats. On the higher stages of the tide in the mornings and afternoons, look for huge pushes (wakes) as they will cruise around in the 2-3 ft. depth range. Then concentrate on them in the 4-6 ft. depth as the sun comes up or the tides go out. Also look for them staging in large potholes. The biggest thing is once you’ve found them, try to be very stealth! They can feel and see you coming from pretty far away and once they know you are there, fishing for them can become very frustrating.
Baits that I like to use to target these schooling fish… First thing in the morning throw a top-water plug like Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Pencil. Make long cast out in front of the school, wait to work it until they get close enough to see it. Their mouth is on the bottom of their head, so they have to really commit. Watching them hit a bait on top of the water can be an incredible sight! Then as the sun comes up, I start throwing soft plastics like the Monster 3X shrimp or the paddle-X. There are lots of weeds out there this time of year so be sure to rig them weed-less. Last but definitely not least would be your favorite suspension bait like a Mirrodine. Of coarse live or cut bait works great as well. Some days these fish will be feeding like Piranhas, eating anything you throw in front of them and some days they can be quite finicky. Regardless, it is an amazing sight to see a school of reds the size of a football field coming at you!
Well, it's tournament season in the southeast! Do you like fishing? Do you like to compete? Do you want to meet others who love to fish? Do you need a good excuse to get out on the water all day? Think about checking out some of your regional fishing tournaments this summer.
One way to get involved is to join a local kayak fishing club. Some clubs do monthly competitions with entry fees and prizes while others just connect you with new friends who like to kayak fish, but all of them allow you to meet fellow anglers and will keep you up to date on local tournaments. You can always check with other anglers and local fishing stores to see which tournaments they recommend.
When looking for a tournament to fish, you want to see a nice, well-organized website. You also want clear, detailed rules. It's nice when they do things like raffles at the weigh-ins so that everyone has a chance to win sponsor prizes from great companies like Johnson Outdoors, Old Town/ Ocean Kayaks Bending Branches, Yo-Zuri Lures, Mirro Lure, Monster 3X, Yak-Gear, RailBlaza, Intova, Engel Coolers, etc,, even if you are not into the money that day. As long as the attendance is good, most of your larger tournaments pay out through the top ten. Also some tournaments have ways to win extra money by signing up for the Angler Advantage or the Calcutta.
Once you find a tournament you would like to fish, get on their website and sign yourself up. Read the rules many, many times! Every tournament is different and you want to be sure that you know what to do to give yourself the best chance of winning without being disqualified. You will be expected to attend a "Captain's Meeting" the night before the tournament- these are mandatory. There, you can get all of your remaining questions answered- anything that wasn't covered clearly on the website or in the rules. You will have a start time when you are allowed to push off into the water on tournament day and specific rules about how to take pictures and measure your fish. You want to be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back to the weigh-in location, because in most tournaments if there is a tie the angler who checked in first wins.
Some of my favorite kayak clubs are KAWF and Hard Core Kayak Angler Cub. Favorite online tournaments are onlinefishingtournament.com, 321Fish.com, and kayakwars.com.
Some of my favorite Florida tournaments include the Kayak Fishing Classics, IFA Kayak Tour, Kayak Bass Series, and Extreme Kayak Tournament. There are so many more fun tournaments out there that you can fish for just about every species of fish you can think of...
Hope this helps you get motivated to try something new. You've got nothing to lose and lots to gain! Please feel free to come say "hey" if you see me at any of these events. Tight lines and Tight Knots!
This is my first kayak bass tournament ever. Although I normally fish 20 - 30 tournaments a year but, they almost always are inshore saltwater fishing...I thought it would be fun to try something different. My roots of fishing as a kid was always freshwater but, now I probably only fish freshwater 2-3 times a year...
I headed up to Astor, FL a couple of days early to do a little prefishing and to scout the area out. It was so beautiful and completely different looking from Sarasota, FL. Its rich green lily pads, miles of cat-tails, and cypress trees filled with Spanish moss were truly breath taking. I got a little bit of a late start the first day around 9 am. As I took this long dirt road into what seemed the middle of no where, I ended up just above Dexter Lake on the St. Johns River. I knew the major feed of the day had to been going on because I was seeing tons of wildlife(Deer, birds, hogs) moving through the forest. Finally getting my yak in the water, I pushed off into the beautiful St Johns River. I paddled around for a bit, soaking it all in before I got to my destination to start fishing. I started out throwing many different kinds of artificial baits like plastic worms, spinner baits, crank baits, etc... But NO LOVE! I could not bye a bite! I had paddled pretty far so I decided to start heading back. I did manage to get a couple of bites but no solid hook ups on my journey back. I also ran into a couple of more kayak fishermen who were in the tournament. They to were also having a tough day. One of the guys hooked a little bass on a white spinner bait while I was talking to him but, they literally had only two bites before that all day!
Day two I decided to put in close to Deleon Springs and head down the river to Lake Woodrift where I thought I might find spawning bass. As I was putting in the old timer at the boat ramp told me that I didn't need to go that far. Just to fish Spring Garden Lake. Watching five other kayak fishermen before me shooting toward the river, I decided to take his advice. Me and one other little john boat were the only people to share the lake all day! Starting out I threw tons of different artificial baits that people suggested. Not catching anything for the first couple of hours I decide to go back to what I know. Keeping it simple with purple /black and red/ black plastic worms on a 1/16 oz bullet weight with a size 2 /3 worm hook. Immediately started getting bites landing 3-4 pound bass that made my day! Unfortunately a front started rolling in and the wind started kicking up. I decided to paddle back in a little early to eat some lunch before heading to the captains meeting.
Tournament morning was very cold! I woke up with a soar throat not feeling great but, It was time to compete. I am a pretty competitive person so the feeling that I get during a tournament can push me through just about anything! lol! Deciding to head where I found nice fish the day before, I launched just as the sun was breaking the horizon. Beautiful pinks, oranges, and blues were breaking through the forest as the reflections burst off of the glassy lake. I pretty much had the lake to myself much of the morning but, couldn't get anything to eat. It was sooooo cold the night before in the 30's so most of the fish I saw were glued to to the bottom and had lock jaw! I did see a few really nice fish that I wish I could have got to eat. By the time I had gotten to the spot where I caught my nice fish the day before, the wind had completely changed directions and it was blowing so hard making it unfishable. It was now 12pm and I had not measured one fish. Had to make a game plan fast! Thinking of how cold the water might be from the temps dropping so low the night before, I paddled almost two miles in directly into the heavy winds to where the spring poured 72 degrees water into the lake. Time for a hail mary! All or nothing! lol! I finally get there and nothing. At 1pm I started thinking my throat was killing me and my nose running uncontrollably. I told myself its just not my day and its time to head in. Literally less than five minutes of heading in I took a cast at in between a group of pads that just looked like there should be a fish there. BOOM! Fish ON! Quick measurement and released it. Less than two minutes after that, BOOM Fish ON! Now I had two fish. a few kayak fishermen in the tournament saw this and here they came starting to surround me. lol! I slowed down, anchored up and held my ground. After landing and measuring my third fish, I new I still had to log my fish on to the I Angler App. Took my time as I entered each fish. Luckily I had cell phone service so it made it easy to log my catches. I now went from NO FISH to having my bag limit. Having less than an hour before I had to check in at the weigh in, I had to make a decision. Head back now or try to quickly upgrade. I started working my way back but, still casting a every spot that looked fishy. Right as i was ready to call it quits again BOOM I get smashed by a solid game changer fish. It came up and gave one good head shake and spit the worm directly at my face. Luckily it hit my rod before smacking me in the face!lol! My heart sunk into my stomach but, that's fishing. Can't land them all. I felt blessed enough to go from having no fish less than an hour ago, to having my limit. So I put all my rods away and headed in.
Getting to the weigh in, I began talking to a lot of people who also seemed to have a tough day on the water...There was one really nice bass caught by Jason McRae measuring over 25 inches. Jason was one of the most knowledgeable bass anglers I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with and truly a great person as well. Some how I was able to squeak my way into the top ten which I was very happy with not being an avid bass angler
KBS and all the staff did an outstanding job hosting there first tournament! I wasn't sure how the I Angler App was going to work but, it was a success. Great job to everyone involved. Looking forward to entering more KBS events. Thank you to all my Sponsors! Johnson Outdoors, Yak-Gear, RailBlaza, Bending Branches, Aqua-Bound, Mister Twister, Exude, Yo-Zuri Lures, Mirro Lure, Paul Brown's Lures, St,Croix Rods, Ross Reels, Costa Sunglasses, Buff Usa, Mojo Apparel. This could't happen without you!