Monday, October 31, 2016

The Visit

A few years back I had the weirdest thing happen… this is a true story.
I woke up on a Saturday morning and went into the living room where my wife was. As I laid on the couch watching a fishing show on TV I recollected a dream I had the night before.

 I walked into a restaurant reminiscent of a Denny’s with the large open ended vinyl covered booths, I sat down in the booth and there was a large one layer birthday cake on the table. I wasn’t sure of who’s birthday it was and I remember being really confused because I couldn't think of anyone that I knew that was celebrating a birthday. My aunt (Annette) came and sat beside me with a huge smile and gave me a hug, “Hey baby, how are you”  , she said. I was still wondering whose birthday it was and I don’t think I answered. Then I felt someone grab my shoulders and start squeezing them, like I’ve had a lot of older people do when I was younger. You know, like when someone is really glad to see you. I turned and saw that it was my deceased grandfather. I immediately thought, what the crap man, you’re dead. I couldn’t respond to his greeting of, son, how the heck have you been? The dream was over. What struck me that morning was, why in the world did I dream about my grandfather?
   I then relayed the same story to my wife and she asked if I had been on Facebook. I  hadn’t had time to look but she told me that my cousin Lee had posted earlier that morning a happy birthday to Carl Lemming, our grandfather. (I couldn’t have told you what year, month or day that he was born if you’d waterboarded me before that moment) the coincidences chilled me to the bone and to this day I have no explanation…  paranormal or hidden knowledge released in my sleep. They say it was his birthday party that I was at.

*This was the weirdest thing I've ever witnessed...I did call my aunt to make sure she hadn't had the same dream, thank God she said she didn't.*

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Big Water Trout

In the last couple of years I’ve seen my fishing go from a finesse style with light freshwater tackle to a much heavier aggressive style. I think that the Kayak Bass tournaments that I fish have been the major reason for that. In those tournaments you have all day to catch three bass and the three largest wins. Granted, there are tournaments where I wished I would have been fishing an 1/8oz Shakey Head with a finesse worm on 6lb test but overall the heavier stuff has yielded heavier fish. This philosophy has filtered over into my trout fishing too. Instead of my old 5 ½ or 6’ ultralight set up I now use a bit heavier gear because the rivers I fish I know there are some double digit fish and I’m talking pounds not inches.

The tackle I use is a  medium action rod with a 3000 series spinning reel spooled with 15# braid. I’ll run a rod and a half's length of 8-10# fluorocarbon. This is also the same setup I use for sea trout and redfish except I will opt for a 20# fluoro leader. The rod length is very important in this setup because I’m in a kayak. A  7’ or longer rod allows me to fight a fish with a bent rod from my right to my left without the bow of my Jackson Big Rig interfering with the line. The idea when fighting a fish from a kayak is to keep the battle directly in front of you. There are several reasons for this but safety is the key reason. When a fish gets away from the bow and you end up fighting on the port or starboard side you risk capsizing due to the fish pulling you over or your boat striking submerged objects. I also have more control over the fish when it’s off of my bow because I have more options with rod angles thus putting more torque against the fish if it decides to head off to one side or the other, allowing me to turn the boat with  “fish power” .
    The reel I use is a quality spinning reel that’s light weight and won’t wear me out from casting all day. Every major reel company offers a 3000 size reel like this. My line choice is based on the amount of line I can load into the spool, in this case, I can load almost 300 yds of 15# braid onto a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. The braid also casts much further and is a lot more sensitive. My leader length is based on water clarity and I rarely use less than a 7’ leader but in ultra clear water I may use 15’ of fluoro just to be safe.

Thursday, I’m going down one of my favorite tailrace rivers fishing for trout. My lure choices for trout have also changed in the past few years, when I was a kid I remember seeing a guy in Cherokee NC carrying a stringer of  18-20” trout and when I asked him what they had bit, he showed me a #7 Rapala countdown. That piece of information was eye opening and made perfect sense. The rivers I fish have two main forages, blueback herring and crawfish. My lure of choice is a Lucky Craft pointer 65sp in a blueback pattern. I’d throw a bigger one but they run a bit too deep for that particular river causing a lot of hangups. Throwing the bigger lures generally won’t catch numbers of fish like an inline spinner or a chunk of power bait but a couple of years ago my buddy and I had a 21 fish day using this same plug and every fish measured 18” to 22”.

Fishing this river with a kayak requires some decent paddling skills and the ability to read fishy water and determine the easiest most efficient way to fish it. Trout are finicky so you have to be stealthy. I spend a lot of my time hugging the banks in water just deep enough to float my kayak and making long casts to deeper water. I mentioned that this is a tailrace river that I am fishing which means that I’m normally racing against the dam generation schedule. (Whatever tailrace river you’re fishing the generation schedule is usually posted on line and it is imperative that you know this information.) Don’t get roped into picking apart every single fishy looking spot, you’ll be on the water longer than you had planned and risk getting to ride the generation flow back to your take out...I like to hit the high spots, casting while drifting and fish the pools hard. In most tailrace trout fisheries you can wade a 1 mile section of river paying attention to every detail and catch the amount of fish that I do on a 7 mile float but the float usually gives an angler access to a lot more big fish water and it’s definitely a lot more fun.

Here are a few things outside of tackle that I always have on a tailrace river…
• Always wear your pfd. Always!
• You’ll need a net. Trust me, if Jesus had been a trout fisherman...he would've had a landing net.
• Use a paddle leash.
• Carry a change of clothes, water and food.
• Dress for the season… layers, waterproof clothing etc.
• fire starting kit.

Now it’s time go catch a trout that will drop everybody’s jaw. Use your common sense, check your generation schedule and know your state laws. Most of all, have fun! Peace

Saturday, October 8, 2016

For the Love of the Game

The last time I was in Texas was twenty six years ago, I have some very fond memories from the lone star state and this coming week I plan make some more. On wednesday my buddy and I will be headed to the Texas/Louisiana border to fish the Kayak Bass Fishing Open on Toledo Bend Lake.

Toledo Bend is not only a legendary trophy spot, it is also ranked as the top bass lake in the country by Bass Master Magazine. We'll be fishing waters that the legends like Rick Clunn and Roland Martin have fished...this one of Bass Fishing's Mecca.

 I’m hoping that the intense homework that I’ve done will pay off because the last thing I would want would be to draw a  skunk on the best lake in the nation. This lake holds water that I’m not used to fishing. Mainly, grass and vast stretches of flooded timber. My home waters are mostly clear, deep and rocky or shallow and muddy but in the past few months I have made a point to fish some grass lakes. I’ve recently been to Guntersville and Pickwick several times and on my last trip to Pickwick I felt I had made some progress fishing around grass. Some of you may say that you love grass and I have said that too especially in the waters of Northwest Georgia. We have very little aquatic vegetation and when it’s scarce, then visible grass can be a fish magnet. The grass on Pickwick and Guntersville is on a massive scale. It’s everywhere and I had a real problem figuring out where to start because it all looked good.

I ended up finding fish in areas that if you removed the grass the fish would still be drawn to it. Bait was a key and patches or edges of grass, not the huge  mats were where I found the largest concentrations of fish.
When I get on Toledo Bend early Thursday morning I will put this information to work while I try finding some quality bass. This lake will be a hefty challenge but that’s what tournament fishing is all about.

•Recognize the challenge and determine if you are up for it.

•Accept the challenge

•Prepare for it by reading every single thing you can find about the lake, study the maps, select a few areas that you feel will hold fish and seek first hand knowledge (if possible) to verify that you’re on the right ballpark, read more, map study more and tweak your style to the new lake's possible situations. I.e.; grass, timber etc.

This tournament will have the toughest competition that I’ve faced since March and win or lose I will have a great time but... my preparation isn’t to lose.  Peace

(Photos courtesy of Bass zone and FLW)

***If you enjoyed this or my other stories, give me a vote for Blog of the Year in the 2016 YakAngler's Reader's Choice Awards @

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I am honored and humbled to find out that River Goat Kayak Adventures was nominated for the 2016 Kayak Anglers Choice Awards. If you are a fan click on the link and give it a vote. Thank you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"It's only Fishing"

In May of 2005 I had a wreck that almost killed me…I came out a changed man.

I woke up to a sweet voice whispering my name. When I opened my eyes I knew something was extremely wrong. my whole body was stiff, my throat was raw and the hospital room was a dead giveaway. The voice said hey, you had us all worried and then asked if I knew who she was…”you’re my wife”, I said. "No, what’s my name?"...I whispered ”Amber”.

 By this time I knew I was in a bad bad situation but I couldn’t remember what had happened. Amber told me that I had been in a wreck and they had induced me into a coma. I had been out for almost two days. My first question was if anyone else was hurt?  Then I remembered..only a tidbit but that I’d been fishing. My next question was, “Is my fly rod ok?”

Going fishing almost killed me that day and later on it would be a huge reason that I’m still alive…literally and figuratively.

After I had recovered from a fractured neck, two dislocated shoulders and a scalping that a Blackfoot warrior would be proud of I began to reflect. I thought about just how quick life can be taken from you and it scared me to death. Not because I’d be dead but because there was so much I wanted to do…I decided to live. Another change happened and I can’t begin to understand why it happened..fears that I had were no longer there. I felt free.

I was preparing for a two week vacation to the beach by taking my kayak to a local lake where I’d paddle laps. Three laps were roughly six miles, I’d do it in intervals like distance runners train and my reasoning was I’d need to have the endurance for an off shore trip into the Atlantic, the second was that I figured I’d end up towing my eleven year old daughter in her Kayak in the slack backwaters. While paddling my laps I couldn’t help but notice the runners along the path around the lake so I decided to try mixing my own workout up with running.

Two miles was the longest distance I had ever ran when I started my initial lap on foot around that lake. I walked over halfway that first time but I kept pushing. I’d go over there three days per week and each week I saw whole lap without stopping and within a couple of months I was bored with that scenery and sought a new path. Before long, I was a runner albeit a very slow runner. In six months I had lost forty pounds and had a few  5k’s under my belt. I had Steve PreFontaine quotes memorized and had set goals for my self.

What I most liked about running was that I viewed my body almost like a toy that I never knew I had. It was surprisingly a pretty damn tough toy too, I’d push it to the limits but it was always ready to go on my next run day. Every time I ran, it was a race against the old Jim. He didn’t have a chance against me and those Pre quotes…(Steve Prefontaine was the greatest American distance runner, undersized and full of determination.) He  had sayings like, “It’s a good day to die” and “somebody will have to bleed to beat me.” I needed all of the motivation I could get and after a year and a half of pushing myself to run intervals, sprints up rollercoaster hill and distances up to 16 miles all while jamming to Metallica's "Kill'em All"… I put myself up to what I considered the ultimate test…I ran my first half marathon. I had a goal that only my wife and myself knew about. That was to run the 13.1 miles in less than two hours. That’s not world class by any means but it was a time that I had never dreamed I could reach. With Amber and my sweet mother at the finish line I crossed it at 1:56:58…and like a switch, I was done. I had proved to myself that even at the age of 45 I had the drive and determination to do absolutely anything I set my sights on.

  I loved the competition of running races although I never even won my age group, I did enjoy the comraderie and seeing the passion and drive that each person put into a race. You see, most were like me, they weren’t racing anyone but their selves.

I had missed fishing and spent a lot of time in my kayak which eventually led to fishing kayak bass tournaments. I figured, what better competition am I suited for than for fishing. I’ve been obsessed with it since I was a kid and here is a chance to compete in what I truly love.

 I train just as if I was going to run a race, not with intervals (although I do paddle sprints and time paddle distances) but with the same philosophy that I used when I ran…if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. I don’t know if anybody or if everybody trains for kayak bass tournaments, I’ve never asked, but it helps keep me motivated and adds a little flavor to it.

I still haven’t won a big tournament and with the competition I’m up against I may not ever win one but it won’t be because my heart wasn’t in it…I hear people say, “it’s only fishing.” To some it isn’t, to some of us, it’s rock and roll, it's our drug...our passion and our way of life, it is much more than "just" fishing. Peace

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The best lake in the county...lil Okeechobee

When I was a kid, there was a lake that I had permission to fish that had the reputation in my thirteen year old circle of being the best lake around. Many youngsters caught their biggest bass in this lake and I'm sure there were true giants lurking in it, much bigger than those we had seen caught.

The lake was about 8-15 acres and covered in lily pads which made it very hard to land a fish. I didn't have a boat so once they wrapped in the pads it was over. The most effective way that I knew to fish it was to wade but wading meant getting leeches on you and as much as I hate leeches I still waded that lake.

With the local popularity of this lake it was guaranteed that friends would want to tag along. All I had to do was call my sunday school teacher and he usually was ok with it but he always added that they weren't allowed to fish there without being with me. I had an easy fix for this and I used the tactic several times...I'd get mom to drive a screwy route when she'd take me and a friend  over and once I could drive...I blindfolded them. They didn't want to be blindfolded but that was the only way they could go. It was a top secret spot and I was so honored to have permission to fish there.

It's been 30 years since I fished the lake that me and a few of my buddies called lil Okeechobee and today...I will fish it again out of my kayak. Who knows what the lake holds today but fish or no fish I will definitely be flooded with memories of wading that jewel and catching my first 5 pound bass and she will forever remain top secret.