Some big news in the fishing industry and in the local lure manufacturing front was announced today. PRADCO Outdoor Brands announced they have acquired War Eagle Custom Lures, formerly based in Rogers, Arkansas. War Eagle is a very popular brand with many loyal anglers who love their spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.
When discussing the announcement with a friend, they immediately wondered aloud if the War Eagle name would survive the
acquisition. According to the actual press release distributed by PRADCO for the announcement, War Eagle appears to be remaining as an individual brand as it joins a PRADCO lineup that includes names like Booyah, YUM, Bandit, Bomber, Norman, Smithwick, Rebel and others.
“As part of PRADCO Outdoor Brands, War Eagle Custom Lures will be shipped to customers along with POB’s entire portfolio of brands from PRADCO’s distribution center in Calera, Alabama.”
As a heavy user of both Booyah and War Eagle spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, I’m looking forward to following how this plays out. War Eagle Custom Lures also produces a line of jigs, spoons and jig heads in addition to the famous spinnerbait and buzzbait offerings. This should make it easier in the future when ordering War Eagle lures, which should at some point be available on Lurenet.com along with some of my favorite YUM, Booyah and Norman items.
Although War Eagle Custom Lures has been based in Rogers, Arkansas, the management of the brand is staying local. According to the release:
“All product development, marketing, accounting, manufacturing and purchasing functions will be managed in Fort Smith. Brand Manager Chad Warner will have responsibility for War Eagle.”
Fishing in the fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Bass are getting ready for winter and are feeding up and they can’t resist chasing bait. This makes for some fast-moving, hard-fighting, fall bass fishing action. One of the other reasons I really enjoy fall bass fishing is that the tackle selection gets really narrow – it is easy to tell what works to catch them.
Fall Bass Fishing Kayak Setup
Being a kayak angler means you have limited space in your boat, so it is important to understand what you will need for a day of one on one combat with some fired up fall bass. For me, this means that the spinning rods go in the garage and all the power fishing gear is in the boat. I use almost exclusively Dobyns Fury series rods and this time of year is where the ones designed for spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and crankbaits are featured. Fall bass fishing also calls for an upgrade in line strength, so I’ll put a little heavier P-Line Floroclear on my reels for most cases and will make sure I have 50# PowerPro braid on my spinnerbait and buzzbait reels.
Fall Bass Fishing Lures
Fall bass fishing is all about covering water – unfortunately as a kayak angler you have less ability to do so than a boater. This means you have to really focus on some baits which help you move quickly. the three key types of lures I’m going to throw to chase fall bass are:
Crankbaits – Use shad patterned squarebill crankbaits to bump along natural cover and docks where bass wait to ambush shad. I’m not sure you can reel the bait too fast this time of year, but experiment with your retrieve. Key bait: Booyah Flex II
Spinnerbaits – All year long I probably don’t throw a spinnerbait often enough, but when it comes to fall bass fishing, this is a key tool to catch fish. A spinnerbait works so well because it can mimic baitfish easily and its movement, flash and vibration can trigger a strike from aggressive bass. Key bait: Booyah Vibra-Flx Spinnerbait
Buzzbaits – Throwing a buzzbait can be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. The right rod and line make a big difference in the ability to be successful with this kind of bait. I use a Dobyns Fury 734C when fall bass fishing a buzzbait. Key bait: Booyah Buzz
Fall bass fishing out of a kayak is a great time to put some fish in the yak. Many anglers have moved on to hunting, the fish are hungry and the bites are big. Get out and make the most of fall bass fishing soon!
A new bait was unveiled this week as the world got a first look at the new Booyah Flex II square bill at ICAST 2017. I was lucky enough to get a sample of the new lure a few weeks prior to ICAST and have been able to give it a workout in some real-world kayak bass fishing. Spoiler alert – it catches bass!
Booyah Flex II Specifications
According to the press kit being released for the Booyah Flex II square bill, toughness and engineered erratic action are what make this lure unique. Booyah explains that the Flex II uses a foam injected molding process to give the lure properties similar to a balsa bait in an incredibly durable body. The one-piece wire design and one-piece bill and rattle chamber are some other key features which contribute to overall toughness and durability. The erratic action of the Booyah Flex II can be attributed in part to two specially designed divots on the bill that change the direction of water moving over the body of the bait – a feature not present in other squarebills. Overall the lure weighs in at ½ ounce and measures 2 ¼” long, features #6 wide-gap treble hooks and runs 2-5 feet deep. Read more about the Booyah Flex II on their website.
On the Water
My sample Booyah Flex II was in the Chartreuse Blue Back color and features an aggressive looking 3D eye and a wide, distinctive square bill. Living in northwest Arkansas, I had to wait for an opportunity when the clear water dirtied up before I could really use this color bait. Recent storms did the trick and I was able to get out and start deflecting this bad boy off of some cover. I caught several fish, and I caught some really nice bass including a 23” 8lb giant largemouth!
This was an area of the lake where a creek ran in that had become dingy due to the new water. The arm was a flat with a small creek channel to one side. I was working the Booyah Flex II along the edges where the flat and the channel edge met, which was right around 4-5’ deep. Every fish I stuck, stayed on the lure and made it into the kayak.
What I liked about the new Booyah Flex II
First of all, love the size of the body and the size and shape of the bill. The body isn’t tiny, but isn’t huge, which I think makes it very versatile. The bill creates a confidence-building barrier in preventing getting snagged. Even though it was my only one, I really ran it through some cover and it performed very well. When not hitting cover or scraping bottom, you can feel the erratic action in the lure and know it is hunting bass while you retrieve it.
Secondly, it is tough and that’s apparent from the start. For whatever reason, I have broken a lot of lips on crankbaits and I just don’t see that happening here. It casts well and after repeatedly hitting it off of rocks and docks it doesn’t appear to show any damage at all.
Finally, I almost always change my treble hooks on crankbaits (shout-out to Owner Hooks!), but I don’t see that as a necessity here. The hooks appear to be of good quality and I’ve been using it with the ones right out of the package. Not sure who makes these hooks, but they remind me of the ones on the discontinued XCalibur square bills. If you loved XCalibur square bills, I really think you need to check out the Booyah Flex II options.
The color patterns look great and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of these options: Smoke Shad, Nubone, Threadfin Shad, Copper Head, Chartreuse Blue Back, Chartreuse Black Back, Ruby Craw, Bluegill Bobo Craw, Blush, and Hazel Craw.
Dead Sea? Not on this particular Saturday in April when a fickle Beaver Lake decided to give up some nice bass to an armada of kayak anglers battled high winds and a 100+ bass boat tournament.
In the tournament preview it was clear that past kayak fishing tournaments on Beaver Lake have not produced big numbers, and catching a limit usually put you in the top 20. Not this year. The fish are moving up to spawn, were active up shallow and anglers took advantage.
All but eight of the 73 of those entered carded a fish (89%) and a whopping 38 (52%) anglers turned in a limit. These are outstanding numbers not only for Beaver Lake but for any fishing tournament. The only bigger shock than the number of fish caught was a 22.25″ largemouth bass caught by Nathan Henthorn. The tail was so torn and bloodied it was likely a 23″ fish if it hadn’t just spawned out. At the weigh-in many were surprised to see a bass of that size out of Beaver.
First place went to Dwain Batey with 89.50″, second to Craig Wood with 89.25″ and third to Nathan Henthorn with 87″ on the board.
Top 10 Finishers
Dwain Batey (AR)
Craig Wood (AR)
Nathan Henthorn (OK)
Jerry Cornelius (MO)
Justin Coon (MO)
Cody Milton (AR)
Jose Rodriguez (OK)
Gary Kasper (OK)
Jason Cossey (AR)
Carson McBride (AR)
The top 20 was made up of 11 anglers from Arkansas, 3 from Oklahoma, 2 from Missouri, 2 from Kansas, 1 from Texas, and 1 from Tennessee.
Dwain, Craig and Nathan provided some details of how they finished in the top spots:
Dwain – My first bite of the morning was on the Skirmish Baits M9 squarebill in the Army Green Craw color, and it was the 21.50” kicker fish. That bite alone really helped me keep my head in the game the rest of the day. I managed to get my first 3 fish on that bait, but as the day went on the bite shifted away from the crankbait and I started putting fish in the kayak with a shaky head. I was using a Netbait 6 inch straight tailed worm in a green pumpkin/blue swirl, but my key was using a spike-it marker to put some orange on the bait to closer match the crankbait color I was using. Rather than putting the orange on the tail, I marked about the first ½” of the head of the worm with the orange to put the focus near the hook. I was catching my shaky head fish around docks in Prairie Creek. Late in the day I managed to catch one last fish on the M9 that give me a cull up of 1/4” which turned out to be my margin of victory in the end.
Nathan – After doing some Google Maps research, I decided to put in at Horseshoe Bend and fish some of the coves across the main lake from it. My plan was to try to fish for the winning fish and leave the little spotted bass and spinning rod alone. I picked up a good 18.5 inch fish on Skirmish M9 in Goldilocks early. Shortly after I caught the 22.25 and the 18.75 on back to back casts to the same tree. Those fish hit a Booyah jig with a Zoom Z Craw trailer. Unfortunately, after that it was a bunch of small fish for me, and I caught keepers on a variety of baits, mostly the jig and squarebill though.
Craig – I pre-fished three key areas on the south end of the lake with gale force winds all day was able to rule out two last weekend. I couldn’t have been so effective without my Hobie Pro Angler in those conditions. I decided to go to a spot that produced several chunky bass in pre-fishing. It paid off, and a hundred yard stretch netted my entire length for the tournament. Slowtown custom jigs was the bait used.
On To The Next Event
I finished with a small limit of 69.50″ and 26th, just couldn’t find the right fish on the day. Overall it was a great KBF event in Arkansas and hope to see more in the future on Beaver Lake. There is another KBF event in Bella Vista on June 3 which is a night tournament, should be an interesting time! Check it out.
This time of year is when to pursue the spring buzzbait bite early and late to catch bass who are cruising the shallows searching for spawning areas, defending nests or just entering post-spawn, which makes spring and fall key timeframes for buzzin’ the bass. (This previous article for Booyahtalks about fall buzzbait fishing)
Because a buzzbait can trigger big bites and reeling in the bass from a long distance, it’s important to me to have the right setup. As a kayak angler I’ve got to have the right equipment to cast the buzzbait long distances with accuracy and then the power to get that fish in the boat quickly. Being closer to the water in a kayak creates a problem of leverage that you have to solve with a few simple keys.
My primary spring buzzbait setup starts with a 7’3″ Dobyns medium-heavy rod with a fast action tip. The tip gives me the ability to zing the bait long distances, and the medium-heavy rod allows for a powerful hookset. To ensure I can retrieve all types of buzzbaits and keep them moving with ease, I use a 7:2:1 gear ratio reel.
Next comes one of the most important factors for spring buzzbait fishing – the line. I’ve been using PowerPro #50lb braid in moss green tied directly to the buzzbait. Because of long casts involved, braid allows for a strong hookset and the ability to reel the fish in quickly. In Northwest Arkansas, ask for PowerPro braid at Southtown Sporting Goods in Springdale and Hook Line and Sinker in Rogers and Bella Vista.
For spring buzzbaits, Booyah is my primary brand of baits. Try the Booyah Buzz, which comes with a clacker in addition to the blade. I will use some with clackers and will cut the clacker off some others for a different sound. I’ve not tried the Pond Magic buzz, but they look interesting for smaller bodies of water.
Good luck and catch some bass this spring on a buzzbait!
Last week I competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship on Kentucky Lake for the first time, which was also my first time on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. During my days pre-fishing and during the tournament itself, I came to a few conclusions. (admittedly, some more obvious than others)
These lakes are huge, particularly for a kayak angler. We knew going in this was the case and would need to do a lot of scouting. During pre-fishing I probably spent almost as much time in the Tacoma as I did on the water. This is a lesson learned for next year, narrow the scope of water and spend more time scouting fewer areas.
There are a lot of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee that look like the good parts of Arkansas. And…a lot of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee that look like the bad parts. We appear to all be in this together.
362 kayak anglers is a big field, even on Kentucky Lake. Every angler there is a good fisherman, which meant they can also read a topo map. The result was that anglers weren’t as spread out as I had hoped, the good water in many cases was very crowded with kayaks pounding the fish for a week. Those that found good water away from the crowd were rewarded.
Top baits for me on Kentucky Lake during the week were a Bomber Deep Flat A crankbait, Booyah Buzz 1/2 oz buzzbait, Rebel Teeny Foxy Shad Pop-R, ned rig, Goldens Paddletail on drop shot and YUM Thumpn’ Dinger texas rigged.
Ledges. I’d heard a lot about ledges and ledge fishing. I think this worked for a lot of folks, but I just really couldn’t get it to happen for me. Might be the wrong time of year, so may try it again my next trip over there. Still was fun to say I’d fished the famous ledges on Kentucky Lake.
Mom and Pop’s Pizza in Big Sandy is AWESOME. Definitely what is needed after a long day on the water. Check them out next time you are near the south end of the lake. Protip – pay the extra $1 for cheese on the breadsticks.
The captains meeting the first night was a good event and was important to hear the rules and such. The captain’s meeting the second night seemed completely unnecessary, particularly when they moved it back from 4:00 to 6:30 and people had to wait around for an extra couple of hours instead of getting rest and preparing gear for the next day.
I’ve never encountered a bigger bunch of rude, obnoxious and aggressive boaters than I did on Kentucky Lake. I’m hearing this as well from many other KBF anglers. Stories of invading fishing space, attempts to swamp kayaks and dangerously close fly-bys were common. Come on man.
I made a huge mistake this week and really did a lot of exploring to get to know the lake’ instead of my usual strategy of looking for a particular type of water. Although I do know the lake better by fishing in about 10 different areas, it kept me from learning the area I needed to as well as I should have. Lesson learned for next time.
Day one, I roll up an hour early to my selected spot, 449 miles from home and after a week of looking around for the prime location to begin. What do I see? Fellow Natural State Kayak Anglers member Jeff Mallot sitting there in the exact place I’m headed. Small world. If only I’d gotten there two hours early…ha!
Lake Barkley looks really really good. People had told me to go fish there and I tried it. Loved how it looked. I just couldn’t catch fish there. Maybe next time.
If you lose your assault paddle out of your yak on the crest of the big bridge crossing the lake, it will be gone by the time you go back to get it.
Crazy Chicken night (every Tuesday) is definitely worth the $9.43 at Paris Landing State Park Lodge.
There is a lot of talk about how long it took to judge fish and get final results out. I agree that this was a bit frustrating, but really, if you aren’t in the top contenders, it doesn’t matter that much to get your rank after a day or two. I’m more concerned about talk I’m seeing from some about wanting to implement a cut day after day one, or raising the fish limit to 15″ to limit the number of fish to be scored. In my opinion, this is supposed to be a fun, rewarding event, and both of those changes could really reduce the fun of the overall event for most anglers. People like to catch and card fish, and people like to know they will be fishing two full days before they travel. These changes would depress attendance, I know I may not pay the entry fee and travel over there for only one day. For the ‘hardcore’ anglers asking for these changes, guess what? Fewer participants means less entry fees which means less prize money for you to win. Hopefully everyone will see the big picture that a huge event where everyone has fun is the best thing for the sport.
This recent spotlight features one of the most exclusive kayak bass fishing tournaments in the country, a product feature, tips for fishing with kids and one of my favorite tackle sources:
The Yak4It Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork, Texas, is coming up in November and I’m excited to have qualified again this year to compete. This tournament is by invitation only and qualifiers are selected from tournament circuits or events around the country based on how the anglers have performed in those events. This is the second year in a row I will be competing representing Arkansas along with other qualifiers from the state. The tournament is held at famous Lake Fork and Lake Fork Marina and Motel serves as the epicenter of the event. Last year was my first time on the lake, am hoping for a better finish this year.
Heddon is an old school fishing brand that I love to throw because I simply catch fish with these lures. Here is a nice video from Heddon showing off some pond fishin’ with a Pop’n Image.
Kayak Fishing Blog is my favorite website for reading about kayak fishing topics and once again they have a great article, this one on 15 Tips for Kayaking with Kids. Taking kids out on the water is a great way to create a legacy and grow the sport. Make it a great trip by using the tips in their handy infographic.
If your local big box store doesn’t carry some of the plastics or lure variations you need, check out Lurenet.com for baits. This site carries only certain product lines (including some big ones like YUM and Booyah) but has the deepest selection from within their offerings. For example, I like to use the YUM 10″ Ribbontail worm in Black/Blue flake, but this is a hard one to find. Lurenet.com has it and a lot more.
What gear do you need for a successful run in a kayak fishing tournament or kayak bass tournament series? The dog days of summer are about over and it is almost time for fall tournaments and year end championships to take place. Whether a first time tournament angler or a seasoned pro, you have to make sure you have what you need before a day on tournament waters.
I have competed in different types of tournaments and tournament trails – including single day events, year long trails, weeknight yakpots and online kayak fishing tourneys.
Kayak Fishing Tournament Checklist
Hawg Trough and camera – The cornerstone of kayak bass fishing tournaments is that you measure the length of your fish instead of the weight. This Catch Photo Release (CPR) approach requires you to have an approved measuring device like a Hawg Trough on board along with a way to take photos such as a camera or phone. Be sure to understand what is allowed in the tournament rules for submitting pictures and choose the one that works best for you. Tip…practice, practice, practice taking and submitting your photos!
Tackle appropriate for the waters – When hitting the lake or river for a fishing tournament in a kayak, space is at a premium. Think about the water condition. Is it clear or stained? Rising or falling? Temperature? Spending some time here can make sure you have the right baits on your yak throughout the day. Some of my go-to baits on board include Heddon Zara Spooks, Booyah jigs and spinnerbaits, YUM plastics and Norman crankbaits. For an extra boost take a look at Fish Allure scented tabs for hard baits.
Safety gear – Make sure your kayak is lit, has visibility flag, whistle and that you are wearing a PFD. Here are articles by Paddling.net and NRS about safety gear. Tip…if it is a roadrunner style event or a big body of water, make sure someone else knows where you generally are in case you don’t make it back to weigh-in.
Miscellaneous items – Some other items I always take into a tournament include a watch or clock I can see to monitor time, extra reel and line, snack and drinks, net, sunscreen and foul weather gear from Stormr.
Make Your Own List
Every kayak fishing tournament angler is different and likely has additional tips, but this list hits on some of the main items I’d advise someone to consider having on board as they launch in the next tournament.
The same baits paid big dividends in two tourneys in two different locations this past weekend. Over two days I competed in two road-runner kayak bass fishing tournaments on the Razoryak Tournament Trail.
Western Kayak Anglers held their tournament on Saturday and I took my kayak to Charleston Lake in Charleston, Arkansas. Hoping for an early topwater bite was the right move on this small, shallow lake. Within 45 minutes I had three keepers on my Heddon Super Spook Jr. (Foxy Shad) with a Fish Allure scented tab. Later in the morning I hooked into a giant who broke me off with a hard dive right at the yak, taking my spook with them. I was able to add a fourth keeper later in the day with a YUM Dinger (Cajun Neon) around buckbrush, but fell short of the five I needed that day. Still finished 11th in this event on this tough post-front bite day.
Sunday was a different day and a better bite when 74 kayak anglers in NW Arkansas hit the road for Arkansas Kayak Anglers. I went to Beaver Lake to try and capitalize on a really good 2016 bite. Early on, the spook was working again, netting me three keepers on a Super Spook Jr. (Florida Bass) with a Fish Allure scented tab. I’d been experimenting with the relatively new Booyah Bankroll Jig and it did good work that morning. I pulled a nice keeper off of a log and moments later hooked a big one in some brush – which got away thanks to getting wrapped up on the wood. The Bankroll jig is great because of its versatility; I can swim it, flip it or drag it. Thanks to these baits I was able to cull twice and put together a decent limit. There were 30 limits caught on this day but I was able to finish in the top 10 out of 74 for the event and am in 3rd in the overall points race.
Great equipment is key in fishing kayak tournaments, maybe even more than in boat tournaments because you cover much less water. Every bite is critical! Some people ask about my boat setup, so here it is: Native Propel 10 kayak, Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle, Humminbird Helix 5, and white Hawg Trough.
Here are some of the better recent stories and articles about kayak bass fishing. Take a moment to check out tips, reviews and stories from these online sites:
Kayak fishing requires us to be more efficient with our tackle management. This video from Chad Hoover and the Kayak Fishing Blog gives great insight on how he preps and carries his tackle for a typical shoot.
Yum baits and Alton Jones help us out with some tips and techniques for winter bass fishing. He shares some thoughts on winter fishing and what he’ll be doing this winter to get ready for the upcoming season.
Although I don’t agree with everything stated in the article, this opinion piece on fishing prostaff is thought provoking and worth a read. If considering participating in a fishing or tackle company’s promotional staff or ambassador program, it is good to do your research and know what it means – for both the angler and the company. Article is from Kayak Fishing Blog.