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Kayak fishing-the good, the bad, the ugly


Dick G
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Used my Tarpon sit on top kayak for the first 2 times on the main branch of the Dupage the past few weeks. The good: Floating down the Dupage with the sun out and the water (dare I say it) gin clear, you get a close up view of smallmouth bass waiting to pounce on anything that looks like food swept their way. Many of the fish you float by are in midstream, open, sun lit shallow water-but always relating to some kind of structure that is capable of deflecting current. A small patch of weeds, a slight dip in the river bed, or a rock shelf only a few inches high can hold nice fish. The big fish are often alone, and the little guys are grouped up. But sometimes when I hooked a large fish, other comparable fish would suddenly materialize out of nowhere and give chase right up to the kayak. So, I guess I've got to learn that those perfect, shaded eddies along the shoreline are not the only place I should be seeking out. The bad: Catching and landing a fiesty smallmouth from a moving kayak can be very challenging! A perfect cast (one of my few) by a laydown results in a 17" hookup. The fish takes off downstream and passes the kayak, pulling me into faster water. Then he darts into the weeds. All at the same time I'm trying to play the fish with one hand, steer the yak with the other hand on the paddle, decide if it is wise to drop the anchor, look back upstream to mentally mark the spot where I hooked the fish for future reference, and fumble for the new unfamiliar camera in its waterproof bag. By now I have floated 75 yards down stream, and I have yet to bring the fish to hand. By the time I unhook and release the beautiful fish, I have decided to forget the photo and have floated past some really sweet looking spots. I think about turning about and paddling back upstream to where I first made contact with the fish, but I decide it's easier to just continue with the flow. The ugly: Paddling back upstream to my takeout point in ninety degree heat, fighting both the current and the wind (which of course is now picking up dramatically) with two bad shoulders and an empty water bottle. All in all, good times.

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What not camera crew to record this 17" Smallie dragging you down the DuPage River on a Kayak. It sounds like the Good far outweighed the Bad and the Ugly. Keep that anchor handy to throw out so you can fight those feisty Smallmouths.

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Dick, it's still a 2.5 lbs fish. Horse it in. Slam on the breaks and let the gear do the work. The moving yak, rod, and drag all will do more than enough to absorb any shock. You are considerably stronger than a smallie. Dictate where it goes. Braid helps.

 

Only worry about the yak if you are in danger- then ignore the fish.

 

Anchor helps, but you don't always have time to drop it.

 

Kayaks are great for scouting, I prefer to wade anymore, you fish more thouroughly and walking in the river helps you learn more about bottom when you can't see it.

 

It is fun. Enjoy!

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Dick have your anchor on a short rope tie off & drop it at once or set up on choice spots with the anchor before you cast. I use a 2 to 4 lb coated dumbell, it is light tumbles in rock instead of snagging & its quiet on the drop or in the boat. That tarpon is a good stable platform isn't it? I agree with bterrill wading in a stream like the Dupe is my preference. I want to get out on the Kankakee with the yak to cover more water in an outing. One more thing - rig an anchor trolley & you can adjust & hold position despite current or wind.

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I agree. I see the kayak as a tool to get to the good spots, and then get out and wade. I was wearing my waders on both trips, but I just had to fish while heading for the "good spots" downstream. Now, Eric S. actually does all of fishing from the kayak. He barely breaks a sweat when he fishes from his tandem kayak. He has even perfected methods of trolling by shoreline structure with only a few feet of line out. Of course this utilizes the white spinnerbait.

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