Beat the Heat for Bass

It’s late June in north Florida. It’s HOT!

You know it, I know it, the fish know it. So just like us, they know the best times to get out and move around are late evenings and early mornings. You can find them lurking in the shallows and shadows during these times of the day when the water is coolest, searching for their next meal. And just like us, when the temperature rises, they retire to their “air-conditioned” deep holes and wait out the heat.

Personally, my favorite time to stalk bass is early morning. That way the water has had a chance to cool off as much as it’s going to before the new day sun. I find the shallow waters much more active this time of day. So on my most recent outing, I did just that. Up early, on the water at daybreak, and paddled gently along the grass lines and through the cypress tress looking for any sign of bass.bassy2

This particular morning started out at a balmy 75 degrees and windless. The type of morning that induces a sweat as soon as you step outside. But the lack of wind had the water like a mirror, reflection and all. Conditions like this beckon some topwater action, so I don my trusty frog and go to work.

The fishing was slow, but I was having fun with a couple small bass that kept me occupied and gave me a bit of confidence. The morning was getting late and the sun was big, bright and hot, which kept me hugging the shady side of the lake. Still working the grass line with my frog, I slowly chug it along, causing the only ripples on the glass like surface. I never saw it coming. SPLASH! It broke through the surface like a cannonball, taking the frog under. I had it for a few brief seconds, whatever “it” was, but then slack; nothing. Disappointed, I waited for my frog to float back up to the surface. As soon as the frog bobbed back up, it was back, this time with a vengeance! The rod doubled over, the drag sang and my paddle board began to move. Meticulously, I began the fight. That’s when I saw “it”, only “it” turned out to be a 19.5″ largemouth bass! It leaped out of the water, throwing its head back and forth, giving its best effort to throw the hook. Adrenaline pumping, I reach for the net. It dives, but only to launch itself out of the water again, this time with greater ferocity. That was its last ditch effort. I had wore it down and was finally able to coax it into the net. A huge sigh of relief left my body as I was then able to admire the beauty that it was. Took a measurement, a few pictures and then safely released it to fight another day.FullSizeRender (5)

But don’t live vicariously through me!

Your next adventure starts with YOU!

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Destination Florida: The Forgotten Coast

Florida. The word alone conjures up images of white, sandy beaches, plentiful sunshine, crashing waves and tiki bars. While all this is a large part of what Florida is, there are many aspects to it which many may be unfamiliar with. Enter the Forgotten Coast. The name says it all, a (mostly) undeveloped area located along a stretch in the panhandle from as far west as Mexico beach to as far east as the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge– including everywhere in between. It boasts a diverse coastal ecosystem within its vast salt marshes and miles of grass and oyster bar riddled salt flats. Here you can find an abundance of wildlife and marine life, including the ever popular fishery of redfish, speckled trout and flounder.IMG_5622

IMG_1139Aside from the maze of salt marshes here in the Forgotten Coast, spring fed rivers are prolific in the area. With the water staying a constant 72 degrees year round, it makes these rivers a popular paddling destination no matter what the air temperature may be. With crystal clear waters, you can enjoy manatee viewing and have a firsthand look into the life below the surface.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Blackwater cypress swamps, tannin stained rivers that disappear into the ground only to pop back up several hundred yards away and keep moving, sinkholes to swim in and explore and many lakes and ponds. These offer some incredible freshwater fishing for bass, bream, speckled perch, mudfish, gar, plus many more species!IMG_4451IMG_5945

So what are you waiting for? Come on down for a little southern hospitality and let me show you the “REAL” Florida!

KAKU Kahuna: The next big thing

Move over Versa board, there’s a new kayak/SUP hybrid in the game and it is called the KAKU Kahuna. You may or may not have heard of the KAKU brand out of Tarpon Springs, FL, and if you haven’t you may want to pay attention!photo 1 (1)

I had the pleasure of taking the Kahuna out for a few spins over the last couple days thanks to Tally Yakkers in Tallahassee, FL and I was not disappointed! It comes in at 12 feet and 34 inches wide making it perfect for standing up and utilizing its spacious deck. With a weight limit topping at 300 pounds it can handle you and all your gear with ease. Fully stripped down the Kahuna weighs in at a mere 60 pounds so you can load and unload without breaking your back. Its roto-molded design makes it tough and rigid to withstand all the abuse you can throw at it, which comes in handy when fishing the oyster bar riddled flats here in N. Florida. Tired of standing? No problem. Outfit the Kahuna with a cooler and voila! Instant kayak! This thing even comes with an integrated mount for a Micro-Power Pole! What craft can boast that?!photo (1)

The first thing I noticed when I hit the water was the Kahuna’s tracking capabilities! Wow! Even in a breeze it was effortless to stay on course and cut through the water thanks to its modified v-hull design. Transitioning from sitting to standing was the easiest I have encountered on a SUP. Casting, stooping, turning around all made easy by the Kahuna’s stability and simplistic non-slip deck. With multiple pad eyes, 1/4″-20 screw inserts perfect for mounting RAM balls or tracks and a 6 inch round front hatch, rigging options for the Kahuna become endless. I was easily able to attach my cooler, milk crate, rod holder and GoPro in a quick few minutes and was ready to rock.photo 1 (2)
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Do yourself a favor and paddle this craft!

Demos can be had in Tallahassee by coming by Tally Yakkers or giving us a call.

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850-879-0198

682 McDonnell Dr.

Tallahassee, Fl 32310

Kayaking with Electronics (as published in Coastal Angler Magazine)

It is no secret that the world of kayaking is more popular than ever and steadily increasing. Along with this rise in popularity comes manufactures with new and innovative ways to make their brand “kayak friendly”. This is especially true in the world of electronics. Now I’m not here to tell you which brands are best or what to buy, but rather give you some tips and suggestions from my own personal experience to help you make an educated purchase. With that being said, I would like to discuss some of the key components to make your kayak adventures safe, successful and enjoyable.

I want to start with, in my opinion, the single most important gadget you can have on a kayak: a GPS (global positioning system). When paddling the Big Bend area of Florida, especially coastal, a GPS can be your best friend. The maze of tidal marshes and numerous creeks that flow into the Gulf of Mexico can give even the most experienced boater directional issues. Being able to mark waypoints and track your progress will ensure a safe return from a day out on the water. If you are a fisherman, it also proves handy to be able to mark underwater structure and your favorite fishing holes with just the push of

Imagea button. When shopping for a GPS, you will find a staggering amount of options and features. For me personally, I find simplicity to be best. A middle of the road handheld GPS for just a couple of hundred dollars does everything I need it to, and then some. A  few of the features I look for when purchasing a GPS are: ease of use, ability to track my progress, set waypoints and a track back option to get me back to shore safely, easily and without any guess work.

Kayak fishing is one of the more popular forms of kayaking here on the Big Bend with everyone looking for that “edge” to catch more fish and bigger fish. Fishfinders are an intricate part of this process. To me, having a good fishfinder is not about “finding” fish, but rather displaying the bottom contour where fish will hold. Fishing the flats of the Big Bend, it would be more useful to use a narrow, single beam transducer. With a more concentrated sonar, the bottom contour comes back much clearer than a wide beam giving you a better look at what’s below. This is where your GPS becomes handy as you can mark “fishy” spots with ease. The second biggest issue when purchasing a fishfinder is where/how to mount it on a kayak. This is much simpler than it sounds. Most big name, higher end kayak brands that produce a fishing line of kayaks take adding a fishfinder into consideration. You will find that a lot of them have a scupper hole cut to accommodate a transducer so that it fits flush with the hull of your kayak and consoles in the cockpit for mounting the head unit and storing the battery securely. For those of us that do not have such a kayak, a little more creativity is involved in installing your fishfinder. The most difficult part may be the transducer. Although there are many portable types of fishfinders out there, I find the easiest way is to just mount the transducer inside on the bottom of your kayak and have it shoot through the hull. The simplest way to do this is to take some Marine Goop, plop some down where you would like your transducer, then slowly work your transducer down on the goop until it sits flat against the hull; voila! Be sure there are no air bubbles between the transducer and hull to ensure an accurate read. Run your cord up through the top of the kayak and into your head unit. There are aftermarket mounts available to attach to your kayak that will house your unit and battery. Also, there are plenty of really good DIY YouTube videos to help with the process.

While those are a couple of the more useful tools when it comes to kayaking the Big Bend area, there are many other gadgets that you could add to your arsenal. A SPOT satellite GPS locater is a nice safety net in an event of an unexpected emergency. You can communicate and send for help with the push of a button even when cell phone service is unavailable. I also often carry a handheld marine radio when I go out on open water. Being able to communicate with other boats and with Coast Guard can prove useful, especially when you are paddling such a small craft surrounded by much larger, faster boats. It is also handy having the NOAA weather channels available to keep track of weather that can be so unpredictable here in Florida. We also live in an era where taking video and pictures of your adventure is highly prized. The market is flooded with water friendly video cameras with GoPro being one of the leaders in their field.

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No matter your style of kayaking, I can almost guarantee you that electronics will play a significant role in your paddling adventures. Doing your research will go a long way when it comes to making your purchases. Customer reviews are some of the most reliable ways to get information from real life applications. Feel free to contact me for any additional information.

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Big Boy Toys

It’s very rare that you find me motoring down trails enjoying the great outdoors, if I’m not hiking it, I can usually be found pedaling or paddling my way around. At the same token, if you know me, you know that I’m always up for a challenge. So when my Uncle (David) came to me and asked if I would be interested in riding one of his dirt bikes with him, I immediately said, “sure!”, without putting too much thought into it. Now when I say dirt bikes, I mean big boy toys! A Yamaha YZF 450 tuned for motorcross racing and a KTM 450 tuned for enduro racing, with me riding the KTM. Probably not the best choice to introduce me to riding…

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Luckily, David was looking out for me and had a complete set of gear for me to wear: knee/shin guards, riding pants w/ hip pads, elbow/forearm pads, chest protector, and of course a helmet with goggles. I felt legit! Now keep in mind that my only experience that even remotely compares to what I’m about to do is a small four-wheeler I owned several years ago, nothing like what I was getting ready to saddle up and ride!

We’re off! I took off surprisingly smooth with no stalling.We started off a nice packed dirt road with patches of soft sand here and there. I navigated through the first test with ease and only laid it down while turning around in soft sand (no speed whatsoever).That proved to be my biggest issue; cornering. As I became more and more brave, we started venturing out on some trails, a little more off roading, and again, I handled it all pretty well. It wasn’t until about a hour into our ride before I experienced my first real taste of what these monsters were capable of.

We’re cruising down the trail, with David ahead by quite a bit. I’m traversing over small logs, navigating through mud and sand, but what got me was a lip of dirt in the middle of the trail. My front knobby grabbed it and jerked the handle bars, I tightened my grip in a effort to gain control, but while doing so, I also gave it a bit of what’s known as whiskey throttle, that is where you unintentionally open up the throttle and lose control! I SHOT off of the trail into a thicket of palmetto bushes and right toward a pine tree! I was fortunate enough to have enough time to throw myself from the bike and taking the stout pine tree to my chest (thank God for that chest protector), as opposed to my head, and trust me, those things don’t budge! Luckily the bike landed on a pillow of palmettos and suffered no damage. I sprung up, shook myself off and immediately killed the bike. I walked the 15 ft. back out onto the trail, and about that time David was riding back looking for me. He saw me standing in the trail and asked, “where’s the bike?” All I could do it point in the general direction where it laid. We both had a quick chuckle then went to free the bike from the woods. Needless to say, I was ready to call it a day! We rode back to the truck where we toasted a beer and relived the events from earlier that day.

It didn’t scare me off, in fact, I’m looking forward to next time! Oh, and did I mention, it’s all on GoPro! Maybe I’ll have to pull some footage out to show you guys…

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Click, click…BOOM!

It started as a typical day. I called up my fishing buddy the night before and made plans to go scout one of my favorite trout holes out at Alligator Point, FL. We made plans to fish the tail end of the incoming tide, slack tide, and the beginning of the outgoing tide. Due to some careless planning on my part (highly unlike me), we were put an hour behind schedule. That would soon prove to be irrelevant. 
 
It was when we crossed the Ochlocknee Bay bridge that I knew it was going to be a good day. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the launch. The water was like glass just begging for some topwater action! I donned my trusty topwater lure, a bone colored Bomber Badonkadonk, while my partner rigged up a white Gulp jerk on a chartreuse jig head — needless to say, he would quickly change his mind.Image 
 
We paddled roughly a mile to the first set of oyster bars that looked promising with lots of mullet present. The slight breeze was working in our favor as it drifted us perfectly parallel to the bars. It was about my sixth cast: click, click, click… SPLOOSH! Then zzzzzzzzzzzz, as the line smoked off the reel. I knew right away it was no trout! As I tightened the drag and methodically played and worked him to the boat, I finally laid eyes on him: an over slot, easy 30″+ redfish. It was also at that moment that I realized he was not hooked very well at all. Too big for my net, I slowly raised him to the surface, fish grips in hand, talking to myself in third person to take it easy and telling the fish that everything would be OK and that it’d all be over soon. And it was… too soon. The fish and I locked eyes, as if he were telling me goodbye, and with one shake of his head, he was gone.Image
 
That was not the way I wanted to start the day, but it did fill me with determination. After finishing my drift and landing a couple smaller trout, my partner was ready to get in on the topwater action. Soon after tying on a red/white/silver Top Dog MirroLure, he spotted a school of redfish while standing on his Liquidlogic Versa board. He crept in on them with me on my way. He chunked the MirroLure right into the middle of the school, and with a few clicks it was SMASHED! I followed suit and threw right behind him into the swarm of mullet and reds, and just like before: click, click… BOOM! A double hookup! This time a couple of slot 24″ reds, which made for a nice meal I might add.
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By this time the wind started to pick up and the fishing quieted. We headed over to another area that produced for me on my last trip out here, but try as we might, nothing doing. After a little exploring, we decided to hit the first set of bars again before we called it a day. Same bars, same drift, stiffer wind, but this time it was time for the trout show! They came after that topwater in a very aggressive manner, so much in fact that I had one come up after it, missed, flew entirely out of the water and over my lure! Don’t worry, he came back! After managing to land several nice trout, the winds continued to pick up, and the tide started to rip out. It was then that we decided to call it a day, and make the short paddle back to shore. With a couple nice reds and a stringer full of trout, we chalked it down as a win and headed home. Until next time!Image
 
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