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Showing posts from 2011

Understanding fish finders and the meaning of power

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The second boat I owned came with an old Lowrance fish/depth finder. Now, four boats and five kayaks later, I am beginning to figure out these wonderful devices.

My recent epiphany came when my Lowrance X85 finder got a significant amount of water inside and shorted out. I had struggled with this finder for about a year. It's very powerful but the technology is old and replacement parts are expensive. After its failure I started looking around at various finders with the goal of spending about $125 for a finder, cover or case and a speed sensor. I settled on the Humminbird 560 (middle photo) and was able to accomplish my goal within budget by finding a fabulous deal Thanksgiving Day. I mounted the transducer inside the hull on my sled and took it out for a test drive. The unit worked great at slower speeds but lost the bottom at higher speeds. I did some test to see if the problem was the location of the transducer, the voltage interference and or the adhesive. No matter what I di…

Sturgeon have excellent taste

The recent rains provided a chance to get back to my kayak fly fishing for sturgeon research. Joining me on the Willamette River was Steve Lent, a friend and well-respected and proficient local fly fisherman. I shared with Steve my goal of catching a sturgeon on a fly from a kayak. Our discussions led to his belief that the perfect fly for the quest was a lamprey fly. Obviously, he said, lamprey are an important part of the sturgeon diet and a big fly would certainly work. My thoughts were leaning towards a smaller and simpler fly designed to look, and smell, like a sand shrimp. The results tell the tale. My research on fly fishing for sturgeon starts by finding the fish with conventional gear and bait. Because the weather was uncertain, and I left my kayak jacket in the back of one of my fishing buddies car, we opted for the sled. The Sunday trip was in place of the Next Adventure sturgeon kayak meet-up on Nov. 26. And, it gave me a chance to see what Steve's fly could do. 
I de…

Cold water, air and hands - too much for kayaking

A pre-Thanksgiving trip to Swift Reservoir in Washington was met with cold temps and low water so instead of the kayak I turned to the sled. Don't be disappointed. The Redfish 10 SOT was along for the ride and there was every intention of putting that in the water. However a propane heater in the boat seemed a better choice with snow on the ground and ice in the guides. Fly fishing was still the technique of choice and fish were caught. Although, it was the first time I have fly fished for trout by trolling steelhead jigs in a lake. Check out the video...

Hawaii for warm weather and sun

With the weather getting worse and the temps and fishing in decline in the Northwest, I took advantage of a kayak fishing opportunity in Maui. Mark was my guide and we were heading to the deep water outside the reefs for the bigger fish. Our boats were ones I was excited to try - the Hobie Pro Angler with the famed Mirage Drive. Mark had two on the beach and he pointed to the yellow one saying, "that's yours for the day."  While Mark gathered his bait, I looked over the boat and cleared what I could from the deck so the fly line had fewer things to catch. I then loaded my gear. Mark came back and together we launched. I immediately discovered why people love the pedal drive. It was fast and simple. I let out some fly line and started the troll. As we neared the edge of the reef, the rod bowed and I pulled it from the rod holder and quickly realized I was snagged on the reef. I unhooked and was off again. Soon we were in the deep water past the reef. For the next four hou…

One season comes to a close and another one opens

October marks the end of the Columbia salmon season at the fish move east of The Dalles and out of my kayak range. On the first weekend of October I enjoyed a great kayak on a windless cloudy day, but the people catching fish had bait on the end of their lines. The day did give me the opportunity to check out my new outfit - an 8-foot 12 weight with 300 yards of 30-pound Amnesia running line and 30-feet of Rio T17 as my shooting head. Of course this is all loaded on one of my 1498 USA-made Pflueger reel. My goal - sturgeon on a fly rod. My first run with the outfit was rewarded with a fish - a Northern Pike minow. But it was a fish. I also got my fly caught on the bottom of the river at 30-plus feet. That's good news since my goal is to fish the deeper holes. Check out the video. And notice the fishing glove by Waterworks/Lamson. The glove is critical when working with running line.

Packed up and ready

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The primary reason I fish is because the possibilities are endless. Kayak fly fishing is exciting but family time means I need to expand the opportunities beyond fly fishing. So on a Sunday in late summer when the salmon run was slowing down, we packed up the kayaks, gear, crab traps and headed for the coast. A review of the weather revealed some rain and wind but hey, it's Oregon and you never really know what will happen. Well, the weather folks got this one right and we enjoyed a fantastic ride to the coast and never took the kayaks off the Escape. However, I did find out that I can put two 10-foot fishing kayaks, a 17-foot sea kayak, two crab traps and two crab rings and a lot of gear, all on top of the Escape and still get close to 25 miles per gallon.

They keep running but not into my net.

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I have fishing the Columbia recently from the kayak in hopes of landing a king. The numbers are up and down but recently the king numbers are climbing while the steelhead are declining. Looks like this is going to be a good year for the steelhead, especially above Bonneville and The Dalles dams.

The highs and lows of hooking a fish while kayak fly angling

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When I started fly fishing from my kayak, one of the first fish I hooked was a steelhead. Anchored in the Columbia River in my little Old Town Otter, the excitement was short lived as I set the hook, felt the rod bend and quickly lost the fish. I hooked two more that day and lost both. Another challenge to overcome.  What I realized that day is that the fish don't react the same way as they do when fishing from land or even from a boat.

It may be because the leverage you have on the fish is different in a kayak than in other situations. On land, your feet are firmly planted on the ground (unless you slip and fall and, if you are lucky, you'll have a River Runs Through It experience). In a boat, there is some movement, but not much unless you hook a big fish and  happen to be in a little boat. In a kayak, there is usually a lot of movement and keeping the line tight is tricky especially when fishing with barbless hooks. Compounding the situation is that, rarely does a fish run…

My kayaks

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Here are photos of my kayaks starting from the little blue Otter, which was modified significantly, to the Future Beach Trophy and the Heritage Redfish 10. All were modified in some manner from their original state, primarily the addition of the anchor trolly and rod holder. The most difficult thing for me is drilling a hole in a kayak. However, after the first one, I tell myself "it doesn't matter anymore," and I drill some more.
My kayaks

Learning to fish

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Fishing from a kayak is different from almost any other type of watercraft. I have fished from boats, canoes, float tubes and pontoon boats. The one thing they have in common with most boats is that when you get a strike when trolling, you have momentum that helps set the hook and helps maintain a tight line through the fight and to the netting.

The kayak is similar because as you paddle you have the same momentum as the other boats. However, when you get a strike, you stop paddling, lose the momentum and then, as you strip the line in, the boat is typically light enough to start turning towards the fish, thus increasing the chance for slack line. Adding more fun, are the piles of line that are being stripped in the boat increasing the chance that the line will catch on something if the fish takes a big run. 
Needless to say, there is a lot going on when you kayak fly fish. In later posts, I will offer more tips on how keep those lines tight.

Let's get started!

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Fishing is my single greatest passion outside my family. I fish nearly every weekend and if I am not fishing, I am thinking about fishing. I primarily fly fish but, as I explain in my other blog, Frugalflyfishing, I like all types of fishing.

My interest in kayak fishing started when I bought my wife a kayak. I have a fishing boat but the family doesn't like getting up at dawn to sit in a boat and hope for a fish. So, I bought a canoe which sat on the side of the house with little use. When I pointed this out to my wife, she said should would rather have a kayak. So I sold the canoe and bought a 17-foot sea kayak for Christmas. During one of those cold, wet winter days, I was looking at the kayak thinking how useless a single kayak would be for family outings. So I cruised Craigslist and found two small Old Town Otter kayaks my son and I could use when we all went kayaking.

Spring came and went and we took the kayaks out once. Summer was about half over when I realized family kayak…