Bending Branches Blades are Tough!

This Bending Branches promotional video below does a good job of showing the various positive attributes of their paddles for anglers. In the video it says “beefed up blades” when showing the Angler Pro IMG_1326on screen. I can attest, not only are these blades more than tough enough to manage moving water, brush and rocks, but also came in very handy in a recent roadside situation.

On the way home from a work event, a co-worker was stranded on the side of a very busy interstate. She had run over a gas can which had wedged under her car and wouldn’t come loose. You could smell the gas and the can was wedged tightly up under the engine block, just out of reach! When we jacked up her car, I grabbed one end of the Bending Branches Angler Pro and put it to work, pushing and prodding and prying the gas can. The paddle powered it loose and scraped it out from under her car.  I’m thankful every time I hit the water with my Angler Pro, but also am thankful it was just the tough tool we needed in that tight situation.

AKA Members Kayak Fish Shadow Lake

Temperatures were unseasonably high for a weekend in December so a group of kayak fishermen from Arkansas Kayak Anglers hit the water in search of some pre-holiday fish. The destination was where the Elk River turns into Shadow Lake in Noel, Missouri. This is a great little year-round fishery providing good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass in particular

We had a really enjoyable time on the water due to the weather (overcast and temps at 70 degrees in mid-December!) and pulled in some good fish. Although we couldn’t zero in on a hard pattern, fish were caught numerous ways. I personally hooked good size largemouth bass on a Booyah spinnerbait, Smithwick suspending Rogue, and a Heddon Super Spook, Jr. Some of our other crew had success as well, including a few smallies. Appreciate the great group of kayak fishing friends in the area and thank Charlie, Jason, Mark and Jason for a good day on the Elk.

Hwy 59 bridge where the Elk meets Shadow Lake is a hot spot for bass.
Hwy 59 bridge where the Elk meets Shadow Lake is a hot spot for bass.
Jason and Mark work the river for bass.
Jason and Mark work the river for bass.
Jason shows off a nice largemouth bass caught on a shakey head.
Jason shows off a nice largemouth bass caught on a shaky head.
3.4 lb large mouth bass caught on a crankbait.
17.5″ largemouth bass caught on a crankbait.

 

Norman Lures Acquired

Thinn
Norman’s Thin N

One bit of news in the tackle business world caught my attention as Norman Lures was recently acquired. Norman Lures is a local company (based in Greenwood, Ark.) and has been producing
baits for more than 50 years. This news is interesting to me because of the fact Norman Lures is a local company, one of the oldest and well-respected bass fishing brands and is a producer of some of my favorite crankbaits.

Depending on the time of year, my kayak has several Norman lures on board including the Deep Little N, Thin N and Fat Boy in particular. It’s been announced that the specific Norman lures like the DD22, Deep Little N, Mad N, Flat Broke, and Fat Boy will be continued. No definitive word yet on some of their other lures. I’m personally a big fan of the Thin N, so I hope they keep it around.  The Thin N has a unique “coffin-bill” shaped lip that combines with the thin profile to give it a different wiggle than many other squarebills. This could mean I need to stash some more Thin N lures just in case they become unavailable.

Overall, this seems like positive news and will allow a great brand and some great baits to continue to be available to fishermen. Norman Lures was purchased by PRADCO Outdoor Brands, and you can read more about the acquisition in the Southwest Times Record. PRADCO produces many brands that I love to use including Booyah, Yum, Smithwick, Bomber, Bandit, Heddon, Rebel and Arbogast.

Great Service by Dobyns Rods

Would like to recognize Dobyns Rods for some excellent service recently, which is important from a fishing equipment company. At a recent visit to Lake Fork I purchased a Dobyns Rod at the tackle shop and once I was home recognized a small problem with it. Being hundreds of miles from where I purchased it in Texas, this kayak fisherman was at a loss of what to do.

One email to Dobyns Rods directly with an explanation of my problem resulted in a quick reply from them with a proposal to fix the issue. The assistance was quick, it was courteous and I could tell they really wanted to help me out. I’ll be reviewing my Dobyns rod very soon here on the blog. As I previously wrote, I’m looking for a new go-to rod company and they have certainly made a great impression so far.

Manley Rods Review Part 1: First Impressions

Recently I’ve been looking to choose a new fishing rod brand to use and have a few in mind I wanted to check out. One of these brands is Manley Rods, which caught my eye with their MRF (“Adjust-a-Butt”) system, which allows for the angler to adjust the length of the rod butt based on the situation. This is particularly appealing when kayak fishing due to being in a sitting position most of the time a
nd the rod butt can get in the way with certain techniques.

First of all, a word about Manley Rods service. Before they shipped my rod I received a friendly phone call from Manley to confirm something in my order. They just wanted to take a minute to ensure I was going to receive the correct shipment – which I really appreciated. I’d ordered a Platinum Series Medium Heavy Fast Action casting rod which is either 6’9″ or 7’3″ long, depending if the butt is extended or not.

Opening the box upon arrival, the rod was very well packaged in plastic and bubble wrap, giving me confidence it was safe during shipping. First thoughts were that it was a nice and sleek looking rod, with components that look and feel solid. Love the feel of the cork grips which are very soft to the touch – I immediately wonder how durable they are. Adjusting the butt position is easy, but it feels like the handle may have a little more total weight because of this feature.

Overall, I’m pleased with what I’m seeing here and can’t wait to get it on the water. Manley claims on their components page that the special Microwave Guide System adds up to 30% further casting distance over standard guides. Looking forward to taking it out for a field test and sharing the results.

Installing LED Lights On Your Kayak

Kayak LED Lights
Lights installed on a Native Propel and Hobie Pro Angler.

A good set of kayak LED lights can make all the difference when it comes to lighting up the night, safety and style. When fishing on lakes or rivers with unrestricted motor use it is very important to have high visibility to other boaters, particularly in foggy or rainy situations. In addition to higher visibility, adding kayak LED lights can help with orientation and navigation while night fishing by illuminating some of the bank structure, which is can be important when casting near cover in the dark.

Adding to lights to your kayak can seem daunting, but can be simple if you take your time and follow some key tips in this easy kayak DIY project:

  1. First, choose a good set of lights that are waterproof, durable and bright. My choice and recommendation is to use Vorocon LED Lights which are more affordable than some other high end brands but are very durable and easy to install.
  2. Secondly, spend a good amount of time thinking through where you want your lights on your yak and apply painter’s tape along this line to help you apply the lights evenly when the time comes. I would suggest applying them above the water line, but also in a place where they are not in your eye line while sitting in your kayak. (this will reduce visibility due to glare)
  3. Be sure to have your power source and wiringlightsbatteryboxsmall thought through before applying your lights. Your wires coming from the lights will need to be an appropriate length to reach the battery. I used a 9v battery box with a small switch so I could easily turn the lights on and off and stowed the box in a water tight storage space.
  4. When it is time to apply the light strips, drill the smallest hole possible to fit your wire at one end of the desired light strip position and feed in the wire.  Then slowly peel back the adhesive strips and apply an activator solution using a Q-tip along the desired light line. Press down the lights firmly as you move along, using the painter’s tape as a guide. Go slowly but make steady progress to ensure a straight line!
  5. Finally, after the LED strips are applied, pull off the tape and use silicone to fill in any gaps in the wire holes. Hook your wiring together with your battery of choice and you are done!

Jerkbait Time Is Upon Us

Catching bass with jerkbaits begins to heat up as the water temps cool down. This season I have a goal to improve my fishing with jerkbaits in particular. In the past I’ve caught some fish with them but haven’t committed myself to using them as often as I should. Sitting in a kayak makes fishing one very difficult, but I’ll work to get it down. Learning a new bait takes time and research, which led me to a very good article on Smithwick’s website about bass fishing with suspending jerkbaits in the winter.Smithwick-Suspending-Rogue-Black-Orange-Belly The article includes techniques for clear reservoirs and mentions some lakes close to me such as Beaver Lake, Table Rock and Bull Shoals. For some good info on fishing a suspended jerkbait, READ MORE on Smithwicklures.com.

Lake Atkins Lives Up To The Hype

It’s not often that reality matches up with the hype that comes with fishing destinations – but Lake Atkins delivered for me. I’d heard a lot of talk about this up and coming “Big Bass” lake stocked with Lake Atkins Arkansas signFlorida strain bass in Arkansas, but had not fished there until just recently – and it was impressive.

Lake Atkins was recently the site of the 2015 Arkansas Kayak Anglers State Championship, bringing together qualifiers from local trails for a year end event. The lake is made up of expansive flats which vary from 5 to 12 feet deep, with a small deep end being 20-25 feet around the dam. Standing timber, both visible and submerged, litter the lake from end to end which provides underwater structure everywhere. In addition, much of the shoreline is ringed by cypress trees and small coves and cuts, providing excellent cover for bass. Good luck finding ditches or humps or ledges, because there aren’t many and they are subtle.

Big Bass Lake Atkins Arkansas Largemouth
A 24.5″ monster from Atkins.

Pre-fishing was on a Saturday and Atkins was littered with a kayak fishing fleet determined to unlock the lake’s secrets. Almost all those fishing that day were catching good fish, including 7.6lb and 8lb hogs brought in by yak anglers. I did well that day with a Bandit crankbait and Yum plastics. A cold front came in on tournament day, changing the fishing dynamic and resulting in a tougher bite. Even so, one kayak angler hauled in a massive 24.5″ monster that didn’t even look real. What also impressed me was that good fish were being caught on multiple types of baits, which isn’t always the case on a tough, post-front day.

This lake is definitely worth more visits. Use caution and watch for stumps just below the surface when navigating the lake! Many kayaks were high centered and impaled through scuppers and more than one pedal-kayak was damaged from striking submerged timber. If you need a break, order a good burger or grab some tackle at Lucky Landing, located on the south side of the lake.

Lake Fork Marina and Motel Review

In November 2015 I was fortunate to join more than 90 other top kayak bass fishing anglers at Lake Fork, Texas, for the Tournament of Champions. The Lake Fork Marina and Motel sLake Fork Marina & Motelerved as the home base and take-off point for the tournament and was a great spot to host.

First of all, anyone who has been to Lake Fork knows it is not close to any town of any size, so having lodging, tackle shop and restaurant all in one spot right on the lake was very convenient. The staff in the tackle shop and motel check-in were great and easy to work with and very flexible on check-in and check-out options. The tackle shop at Lake Fork Marina & Motel was well-stocked with many of the baits and other supplies you could need.

Honestly, the motel rooms were not great, but were cheap, clean, and convenient to the lake – which is the most important attribute. I really liked that you could park and back your yak up right to your door for extra security. There are camp sites and really nice lodges for rent if you have a group. A highlight of the Lake Fork Marina motel is Tiffany’s Restaurant which was a great place to eat and you must try the pie. (Verona Italian Cafe is also nearby and a can’t miss option)  All in all I definitely recommend this as a fishing HQ for a trip to Lake Fork.

Kayak Bass Series 2016 Schedule

In 2016, the Kayak Bass Series circuit will compete in two divisions, North and South, and the dates and locations are set for events. The KBS is billed as the closest thing to the FLW for kayak bass fishing and the 2016 events should be the best yet. The North division consists of events at Dale Hollow Lake, Table Rock Lake, Burnsville Lake and Lake Erie. The South division will include St. John’s River, Ross Barnett Reservoir, Lake Fork Texas and Lake Hartwell. READ MORE about the 2016 KBS Event Schedule.

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